Looking for a little pampering these days?

No time for or plans for a winter vacation? How about treating yourself to a day at one of the local spas in Lanark County. A trip to the spa can be as simple as getting a manicure or pedicure but it can also be so much more! Spas offer facial treatments, massages, waxing, hair services, skin treatments including mud baths and sugar scrubs, and they may even include a healthy meal or snack. Check out some of these options:

Southfork Spa: Coined as “Your Rural Retreat”, Southfork Spa is located in Trillium Estates in Perth. Owned and operated by Esthetician Grace Hogel-Vandenberg, with over 16 years in the business, Grace offers a combination of Facial, Body Therapy and Hand and Feet Treatments from the comfort of her own home. By appointment only. http://www.southforkspa.ca/spa-services.html

Mahogany Salon and Spa: With 2 locations, one in Stittsville and the other in Carleton Place, Mahogany is one of the most popular spa’s in the area. Featuring a hair salon with a team of stylists, this could be your go-to place for your wedding day prep! Massage, facials, nails, makeup, microblading, waxing-sugaring, lash lift and extensions, and body treatments galore, it would be a delight to spend a day sampling the services here. Spa packages from 2-6 hours are available, including a light lunch. Of course, by appointment only. http://www.mahoganysalonandspa.com/spa/massage/

Angels Roost Organic Spa: Located on the 7th Line of Beckwith Township just minutes from Carleton Place, owner Kathy Blair has created a country calm look and feel providing individual services or spa days. Kathy has a team of Massage Therapists and Estheticians so she can accommodate several people at once, making this an excellent choice for a girl’s day at the spa or couple’s date of pampering. Services include Massage, Organic Facials, Nails, Footcare and Hair Removal and Tinting, and they use natural organic products. http://angelsroostorganicspa.ca/
Circa 1894 Day Spa: Imagine finding a little piece of heaven in Watson’s Corners! Where’s that you say? Approximately ½ hour from Perth, Carleton Place and Almonte, don’t be fooled by the country location. Owner Donna Dillman and her life partner Cam, purchased this former church and have created a small Bed and Breakfast, with an 850 sq. ft. Day Spa attached. They offer a range of holistic possibilities including the use of hot/cold tubs, saunas, quiet time, massage and Reiki. This is not the sort of spa to receive esthetician services, but every bit as wonderful an experience! New services are being added so check out the website and schedule your day! http://circa1894.ca/

So, whether you are looking for a little TLC for yourself or looking for a fun thing to do with some friends, you don’t need to go far to find some great places to relax and get pampered. And just because YOU may not be interested in going to a spa, nothing says “I love you” more than giving someone a day off to pamper themselves and relax. (HINT, HINT!)

Serious about your fitness goals this year?

You might expect to see a Gym blog for January 1st, when people are traditionally making their New Year’s Resolutions, promising to get healthier. What you may not realize, that by the third or fourth week in January (January 17th to be exact), many of those well-intentioned individuals have packed in their running shoes and moved on to something else… that requires a lot less commitment!
So, if you are still committed to your health goals for 2019, NOW is the best time of the year to join the gym – the machines are more readily available and the change rooms a little less crowded. To help you choose your best local options for indoor exercise, read on…
Almonte Fitness Centre: Almonte’s one and only gym on Ottawa Street, is independently owned and operated by the beautiful Robichaud’s. Andrea and Emery are both personal trainers, as well as owners of the gym, and have been growing the gym and it’s reputation since they became owners in 2014. The gym offers 24-hour access to members, and offers a variety of classes including Zumba, Yoga, Interval Training and Kettle Bells. This is my GO TO gym… because I can be there at 5:00 a.m. and home by 6 to start the day! Location, location, location!Heritage Community Fitness: Located off McNeely Avenue, this independently owned and operated gym, was the first gym established in CP. They offer both gym and rehabilitation services and have just undergone their second expansion in recent years to provide even more to the community. Their services include personal training programs, group fitness classes, speciality classes and even outdoor classes (maybe not in January though!) Babysitting services are also available for select classes. One of the things I especially enjoy is that they even offer on-site healthy snacks and take-away meals. One of my favourite gyms in CP for sure!
Anytime Fitness: On Landsdowne Avenue in CP, is an international franchised gym established in XXXX with 24/7 access to members. They offer a free 7-day trial (which honestly is more often than many NY gym members even attend the gym!) Services also include Yoga and Tanning.Greco Fitness: Is a high-end boutique fitness franchise with a dozen locations in Ontario. Founded by Tony Greco, the Greco model focuses on fitness through a combination of resistance and cardiovascular training. They offer lifestyle weight loss and wellness programs which include nutritional coaching, personalized lifestyle coaching and hormone/weight panels.
Save on Fitness: Located on Townline Road in Carleton Place, established in 2017, and offers 24/7 access to its members. They offer personal training as well as group fitness classes.
Crossfit DSF: Crossfit DSF is a strength and conditioning facility located in the Industrial Park in CP. It’s a close-knit, supportive community of people who like to work out in short, intense intervals for maximum health results. Membership is available on a month by month or annual basis or purchase a 10 or 20-pak visit to try the classes out. I haven’t tried this (yet/ever) but I hear it’s highly addictive!Regardless of where you decide to exercise, the best thing you can do for yourself, is to choose an exercise that you enjoy, find yourself an accountability partner that you don’t want to let down by cancelling on, and get moving!!

The Art of Tidying Up…

Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant, is the current sweetheart of many. She has written several books on “The Art of Tidying Up” and hosts a series currently available on Netflix. Marie claims to “love mess”, and the premise of the show is that she goes into a household and helps people reclaim their homes through the Japanese KonMari method of eliminating things from their home that don’t spark joy! She focusses on discarding, tidying, storage and mindset!
We often don’t realize the negative impact clutter can have on our lives, how it promotes chaos, inefficiency and stress. The turn of the new year is a natural time to think about getting ourselves — and our homes — in order. But at the same time, it can be just as detrimental to our greater home (that is, the planet) to simply toss out those things we no longer want or need.

Instead, why not help others by donating your treasures? There are many worthwhile Lanark County-area organizations that can benefit from your goodwill. Here are some of them:
The Hub: Founded for women and children, by women in the community in 1974, The Hub has been Almonte’s “go to” for donations of previously loved clothing. Temporarily located on Industrial Avenue in Almonte, The Hub will be moving back to their permanent home on Mill Street later this year. The building has been undergoing a major facelift and the Hub Committee are doing some significant fundraising right now to complete the repairs required. Donations can be dropped off during store hours, and volunteers will lovingly sort, separate and price your belongings. This volunteer-run organization. Annually, this organization donates over $50,000 towards hospice care, scholarships, health needs, sport teams, special events, Christmas baskets, Interval House, the Lanark County Food Bank, to name a few.

Rebound: Is the sister charity of The Hub, accepting large household items, furniture, small appliances, computers and electronics. Located on the corner of Bridge and High Street in Almonte. Rebound claims that since its inception in 2004, it has helped to divert 350 tonnes from local landfills. That’s quite the claim!
As Good As New: Located on Bridge Street in Carleton Place, AGAN has been accepting donations of previously loved, high quality clothing and small household items over the past 35 years. The organization is volunteer run and all proceeds go towards helping women and children at Interval House.

Value Village: With stores located throughout Ottawa, the closest drop-off for Lanark County is the Hazeldean location. VV asks that all clothing items be washed before dropping them off, and they gladly accept clothing, shoes, toys, books and small household items as well. Proceeds go to local non-profits in the area.
Diabetes Canada: Accepts small household and electronic items, gently used clothing, footwear and toys. Items collected are sold to Value Village, with the funds raised going toward diabetes research and support. Often, donations can be picked up free of charge at your doorstep.
And because I hate being cold SO much, I think this is the perfect time of year to bring a little joy into your home (and closets) by practicing the art of tidying up!

Best Places to go Sledding…

A favourite winter-time activity for many families is sledding. The equipment required isn’t expensive – unless you invest in a super-duper GT Snow Racer – and there isn’t a whole lot of skill or training required. Sledding refers to traveling down a snowy hill using a sled or toboggan, which could be as simple as some wooden slats on a metal runner, or a carpet (really a flat plastic surface) or a saucer. In a pinch feel free to improvise with a cafeteria lunch tray or cookie sheet. Really, any flat, slippery surface will do. In fact, back in the old days, before the invention of the snow racer, kids used to go sledding using a broken-down cardboard box! (At least that’s what my Dad tells me.)

The first trip down the hill is the most important, but also the most difficult, as it sets the path of the sled for further runs. It is important to steer the sled along the most exciting course, adding twists and turns to make the run down the hill faster or more exciting.

Once the path has been created all you need to do is hop on your tool of choice and head down the hill. The ability to steer your sled is key as it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for other sledders returning up the hill. Once you get the hang of sledding, and if you have a strong stomache for the thrill, you can vary your sledding techniques to make things a little more exciting. For instance, lying flat on your stomach and heading down the hill face first can add to the thrill. Running up to a sled and jumping onto it can create additional momentum and improve ride speed as well.

Here are some suggestions of THE best places to sled.

Gemmill Park in Almonte – All the locals know that the best place to sled in Almonte is behind the arena at Gemmill Park. There is plenty of parking available and if memory serves me well there are even lights for night-time enjoyment. The hill is wide and can serve a large number of sledders. The landing is safe with no fear of flying out into traffic – but do be careful of the trees!

Pakenham – If you are looking for a slightly more sophisticated experience, you might consider heading to Mount Pakenham, where you can rent a rubber blown-up snow-tube on a secure course. For $12 per person, you can spend the day sledding on the gentle slopes of the walk-up hill. Pack your own lunch or purchase one at the cafeteria. The experience is completed by the outdoor campfire. Check out the website at www.mountpakenham.com.
Carleton Place (by the curling club) – Carleton Place must be built on flatter land because there are fewer places available for sledding. Local residents know that the this is THE spot for sledding in town. Head over to the curling club on Patterson Crescent near the Recycling Depot – and that’s where you will find the best spot for sledding.

Carlington Hill – Ottawa – Apparently Ottawa has 56 hills for sledding, but why not go to the former ski-hill for the most sophisticated hill in the city. Carlington Hill operated as a ski-hill until approximately 1970 with it’s own chairlift. It has since been retired to a sledding hill, but only for the brave of heart. It’s slopes are sometimes tackled by wanna-be-snowboarders. This hill features night-time lighting as well, but it’s best left to the more sophisticated sledders with it’s steep slopes.

The key to enjoying winter sledding is dressing appropriately. Snow boots with your snow-pants tucked inside will keep your legs and feet warm and dry. Good mitts and a warm hat keep your hands and head warm too. What a great way to spend some time outdoors with the kids in your life – big or little. And who knows? Maybe you are even helping them train for the winter Olympics!

Best Restaurants in Almonte

After the holidays people tend to stay in a bit more, promising themselves that they are going to eat healthier and threatening to lose some excess weight.  I am sure that the local restaurants are a little quieter for the first few weeks post Christmas, but I think this is the perfect time of year to go out!  Nothing nicer than dressing warm, going to a nice restaurant and having someone else cook for you.

 

Dining out can break the monotony of the long cold winter days and nights and it’s a great way to meet up with friends for a social gathering.  Here are some of my Almonte favourites…

 

Heirloom Café and Bistro – a well-known and loved restaurant at 7 Mill Street, Heirloom is a lovely place for a date night.  The location has been home to several restaurants over the last few decades, and current owner and chef Richard Kletnieks has operated from here since 2010.   They are open 6 days a week, closed on Mondays, and only open for brunch on Sunday.  The menu changes seasonally and Richard attempts to use as many locally grown products as available. 

 

My favourite go-to lunch item on their menu are the Fish Taco’s.  Lightly breaded and fried, the taco is filled with greens, guacamole and sour cream and a side salad.  I have only been to brunch a few times but they do an excellent Heirloom version of Eggs Benedict.  Dinners are equally delicious at Heirloom and are most often started with an “amuse-bouche”.  They usually have 1 vegetarian dish, 1 fish dish, a steak, a chicken dish, a lamb and a beef dish.  My preference is to have 2 appetizers!  There is rarely room for dessert – but if there was, I would definitely go for the Crème Brulee.

 

Café Postino – located in the Old Almonte Post Office and a little further up Mill Street is another of my go-to favourites.  Claire and Steve owned an Italian restaurant in Ottawa and when they retired, they opened up another Italian restaurant in Almonte in 2011!  (Old chefs never die, they just relocate!)  Open 5 days a week (closed on Monday and Tuesday) they serve both lunch and dinner.  Several years ago they opened a summer patio which is beautiful during weather much warmer than this.   My favourite Café Postino dishes include the Fried Calamari and the Veal Parmigiana (especially with the side of pasta).  They offer the typical Italian desserts and I most often choose their feature wine for our meal.

Almonte Lobby Bar – is my newest favourite place to eat in Almonte.  Located in the Almonte Riverside Inn, on Queen Street.  It opened in early 2018, Angie and Hunter, are the hosts.  It’s a small menu – mostly appetizers and sharing plates, a few desserts and custom cocktails.  They have a beautiful little patio for the summer months, overlooking the river.  It’s cosy and cute, and a very intimate little place for an evening.  They are open 5-10 each evening.

So, if you haven’t discovered any of these Almonte Eateries, it’s time to get out there and explore.  Now, where should I make reservations at first?