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?