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
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?

7 Things to do with the Kids over the Holidays…

7 Things to do with the Kids over the Holidays…

It takes months and months of planning and preparation, and within a few short hours the “big day” is all over for another year. People often talk about the “day after Christmas feeling”, and it’s experienced by children and adults as well, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

I recently read a short article where teachers commented on the stories they hear when kids return to school in January. Rarely do kids report on the gifts they received, but more often tell stories about the time they spent with their parents and extended family during the break. With a little creativity and at little or no cost, you can extend the holiday feeling by spending time with your children!

Here are some great ideas you might want to consider doing with your family during the Christmas break.

Skating: The local arenas in Almonte, Pakenham and Carleton Place have organized public skate events, either sponsored by a local business or the township, offering free public skating during the holidays. Check their websites to confirm dates and times or .

Swimming: Just because you haven’t gone south for the holiday, doesn’t mean you can’t take the family swimming. Nothing burns off a little extra energy (and calories) than a couple of hours splashing in the pool. (It might even make the kids tired!) Check the Christmas Swim Schedule at the Carleton Place Pool for dates and times for their free, sponsored, public swims.

Bring in New Year’s Eve with kids of all ages: Why not ring in the new year with Beckwith’s New Years Eve Family Fireworks, beginning at 4:00 p.m.? The Beckwith Township Council will be hosting this FREE event at Beckwith Park. There will be horse-drawn sleight rides, a bonfire, free skating, and fireworks begin at 6:00 p.m. The canteen will be open in the Recreation Complex, or take your own thermos of hot chocolate with snacks. If you plan this right, you can still be home and in bed before 10:00!

Free Movie Event at the Almonte Town Hall: The Almonte Town Hall will be hosting free movies on Thursday, December 27th and Thursday, January 3rd, at 1:00 p.m., the Mississippi Mills Recreation Centre is showing “Home Alone” on the 27th, and “Small Foot” on the 3rd. A great chance to get out of the house and watch something on the big screen!

Sledding & Hot Chocolate: This will certainly be more fun if you invite another family to join you. Grab the sleds or the saucers or crazy carpets AND the kids, and head to Gemmill Park in Almonte (the big hill behind the arena), for an afternoon or early evening of sledding. The fresh air will ensure everyone has a great sleep. Take a thermos of hot cocoa with you to enjoy on the hill or invite your friends back to your home for a snack. It’s also a great way to get rid of the Christmas baking before the new year resolutions hit!Stay indoors and play Board Games all day: AND stay in your pj’s all day long! I remember long ago spending a day in the basement rec-room with my family, playing “Monopoly” and “Clue” and working on a 1,000 piece jig-saw puzzle. We even got to eat dinner in front of the television!

Invite another family in for a Pot-Luck Dinner: Sometimes the last minute, impromptu invites work out to be the most fun. No planning for the perfect meal or preparing the house, just a get-together with the adults and children. Spending time together with people whose company you enjoy is more important than having the perfect meal. Who cares if you have 2 desserts and no vegetables? It’s the company that matters more.

How ever you decide to celebrate this holiday season, I wish you and yours a very happy, healthy holiday and wishes for an amazing 2019!

Christmas with the Beaton’s…

By the time you are reading this blog, I will be firmly planted in the middle of our family Christmas celebration. I love Christmas and being together with family, but this year is extra special because my baby brother and his family are visiting from California. They moved away twenty years ago and this will only be the third Christmas we have spent together in all those years. There will be four generations together with ages between 3 months to 82 years young!

We have rented a local Air BnB in Almonte, which is the original home of the Rosamond Family, founders of the Mills and the textile industry in Almonte. Pinehurst was built in 1890 and is located on an 8 acre parcel of land, overlooking the town. There are hills ideal for sliding on, and a bonfire that we hope to make use of as well. The house is approximately 7500 square feet in size with 10 fireplaces, 8 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. The home is absolutely beautiful and the view is stunning.
We have a photographer coming one afternoon to hang out with us and “capture” the moment of us being together. Hopefully we will get some great candid moments. No posed photos for our family with all those grandbabies. One the young ones have gone home to bed, the “bigger kids” will stay up and play some new board games purchased specially for this occasion.

Christmas Eve we will all be together to enjoy our Appetizer Dinner, with many favourite recipes including Emma’s Mushroom Stuffed with Escargot; my Mom’s Jalapeno Pepper Poppers, and Shayla’s favourite – Chinese Pork Dumplings. Because Pinehurst is in our old neighbourhood on Union Street, we will take an after-dinner stroll down “Santa’s Run Way” as we watch for Santa and his sleigh overhead. Again the young families will head home to ready for Santa (and an early rise) while the rest of us will spend the night at Pinehurst and prepare for a big family meal the next day.

Pinehurst has a new addition of a wood-burning sauna this year, so I am hoping to have the opportunity to take advantage of this – either Christmas Eve or first thing Christmas Morning, before the rest are up! Christmas morning breakfast is always lots of good coffee, a large fruit salad and my mom’s Cinnamon Buns (sorry Baker Bob – hers are better!)

The rest of the family will join us again in the late afternoon, hopefully after naps, for the turkey dinner. There will be Grandma Laird’s Savoury Stuffing recipe, Tomato Aspic (don’t knock it until you try it!), Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, a green salad with pink grapefruit and vinaigrette, and roasted root vegetables. My mom always makes an English Trifle for dessert and this year, there will be a Gumdrop Cake for the little ones.

And during all this food and frivolity, I am looking most forward to the family moments that will be shared. Spending a few minutes in the kitchen with the girls as we prep the appetizers. Watching Uncle read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to his grandnieces and grandnephews (a new tradition I am about to introduce this year, that he doesn’t know about yet!) I am looking forward to spending a few minutes catching up with each of my brothers and spending some time with their partners as well. Sharing a glass of wine with my Mom and Dad and celebrating in the fact that we are all together, and healthy and well, and so blessed. And finally, at the end of the day, falling exhausted into bed, and sharing a few whispers and giggles with Ken, marvelling at all the years we have been together and all the amazing memories we share.

I wish you a beautiful Christmas celebration, however you choose to spend it, and may your heart be filled with love and light during this beautiful time of the year.

Creating Christmas Traditions…

The Christmas season seems to be the time of year steeped in tradition and it’s interesting to learn what traditions family’s share. Traditions are behaviours and actions that are engaged in over and over again, regular rituals that are performed at the same time or in the same way. They are often passed down from generation to generation. When done right, they lend a certain magic or spirit to our everyday life!Here are some beautiful traditions I know of. It’s not necessary to adopt them all, but if you find a tradition that speaks to your heart, claim it for yourself and start a new family tradition with your loved ones!
Baking cookies & Watching Christmas Movies Together – I know of one family that gets together in early December (they actually did this in early November this year because they were moving!), to bake batches of cookies together, with Christmas movies playing in the background. You need to make sure to use a timer while baking, or you run the risk of burning the cookies! They split the baking up between them and store them in containers in the freezer. Be careful not to dip into the too early or there won’t be any baking left by the big day!

Christmas Decorations – This is one of our family traditions, now moved on to the second generation, where Grandma and Grandpa give the children a new ornament each year, until they are 16 or 18 years old. As the child leaves home, they are already set up with a collection of personal ornaments to start their own tree with. My parents did this with our girls, and we have done the same with our own grandkids. Angels or Santa figures as a theme, and every year they all get the same ornament. The collection is getting to be quite interesting!

Pajama’s and books – Christmas Eve – A local book-store owner told me about her family tradition where her Grandma gave the children a gift to be opened on Christmas Eve. It was always a set of pj’s and a new book (perhaps Grandma paved the way for this one?). Although her own mother didn’t adopt the tradition with her kids, Mary has – and each year she gives her own grandkids a set of pj’s with a storybook. Love this one!

Lighting Santa’s Runway – We fell upon this tradition when we moved to Almonte from Clayton. Union Street has a Christmas Eve tradition of “lighting Santa’s runway”, where all the neighbours line the street with paperbags filled with sand and a lit candle. The neighbours start lighting the street at dark, and we would bundle up the kids and take an after-dinner walk down the beautiful candle-lit street, searching for Santa and his reindeer in the sky. (You’d be surprised how many of our little ones have seen him during this walk!) Pure magic!

Foodbank Donation – Many families make a point of donating a little extra to the foodbank during the holidays. Many moons ago we would have a “porridge” dinner as a symbol of those less fortunate, and then donate our dinner to the local foodbank. Not all our kids appreciated the porridge, but they did appreciate the symbolism and donation.

Attending a Church Service – As people find their spiritual path in many ways now, some folks still love to attend a Christmas Eve church service to mark the occasion. Candle light and Christmas Carols and the telling of the Christmas Story are beautiful rituals to celebrate, for those so inclined.
Christmas Eve Dinner – One last family tradition to share is one that our own kids look forward to, and I am sure our grandchildren will adopt in their lives too. We all gather together for an “appetizer” dinner with a table filled with a variety of family favourites – from meatballs and veggie trays, to s
moked salmon and Chinese dumplings, to cheese platters and shrimp rings. The whole family loves this style of eating, and it’s one of our favourite holiday meals together. Of course, the evening is completed with a walk down Santa’s runway before they all head home to bed!

Whatever traditions or rituals your family chooses to adopt, keep in mind that you are paving the way for future generations in your family. They don’t need to be grand and expensive, they just need to be special to you and yours!

Seven Places to Christmas Shop for Kids in Almonte…

Sometimes I feel like a “preacher on a soapbox” because I am so patient about encouraging people to shop local. The more we can support our local economy by purchasing from our own stores in town, the more services we get to enjoy and the less need for any of us to travel to the city for shopping.

Kentfield Kids – Located on Mill Street in Almonte, this shop is owned by two local moms/business women and they sell high quality clothing like Hatley pyjamas to Gusti snowsuits, for newborn to size 14 (or so), as well as beautiful toys including such
brand names as Melissa & Doug, Schleich and Snapcircuit.
L.G. Lee and Sons – Located at the lower end of Mill Street and a division of the now famous Lee Valley Tools. The vintage feel of the shop adds to the wonder of what you will find for your young one – from puzzles and games to models to build to small toys like slinkys and gyroscopes. As a side benefit, they also have mail-order drop-off for Lee Valley Tools!

Gilligallou Birds – In the Heritage Court Mall, Gilligallou offers gifts for that nature-loving kid on your list. Ideas include window-mounted bird-feeders (and don’t forget to get a starter bag of their quality non GMO bird-seed if you actually want the birds to come), to “tracking sheets” with footprints of local animals (makes for a great winter outdoor hiking activity), to bird colouring books with a guide-page to get the colouring just right, and finally a build-your-own house-wren kit.Home Hardware – Yes, it’s a franchise, but it’s still owned by a local family who employs local people, so I am counting this one as shopping local! They have a great assortment of toy car and trucks and John-Deere tractors (this is farm country!), to a variety of popular board games, to popular television toys like Paw Patrol and Lego. This is also a great place to check out winter-activity toys like sleds and toboggans, and with the weather we have been having so far, this could be a great year for this is a gift!

Wee Bee Growing (aka Y’s Owl McLure) – An old favourite with new owners who are
offering employment to autistic youth in our community. This shop offers clothing like Burt’s Bees Fam Jam (pj’s for the entire family) as well as a great selection of toys and games and puzzles including Melissa & Doug quality toys.JB Arts – If you have a budding artist on your shopping list, you won’t go wrong with a stop to JB Arts, mid-street on Mill Street. They offer an array of art supplies from coloured pencils, to charcoal, to pastels and paints, with sketch pads, canvases, paper and frames. Not sure what supplies to pick up? Then a perfect gift might be one of the many classes or programs they offer.

Mill Street Books – I think everyone should have at least one book under the Christmas tree, and what better place to shop than Mill Street Books. Mary and Terry offer a carefully chosen selection of children’s books and games and craft kids including the popular Klutz Kids kits. If you don’t find the book you are looking for, they will even order it in for you.

During the month of December, many of the shops are open late on Thursday and Friday evening, for your shopping convenience. Battling the “crowds” of shoppers even during the busy weekend shopping is still far more pleasant and enjoyable than heading to a shopping mall! It’s all about managing the stress – Christmas shopping should be fun…. And it will be, if you shop local!

My Christmas Gift to Almonte

My Christmas Gift to Almonte…

Christmas in Almonte is one of the most magical times of year. It begins with the shopkeepers Christmas Street Market night in late November, followed by the festive “Light Up The Night” event on the first Friday in December, where Mill Street turns on the Christmas Lights to start the season, to the evening Santa Claus Parade on the Sunday. Friends and neighbours and families come together to celebrate the season.

In keeping with the spirit of giving this holiday season, I have rented the Old Almonte Town Hall on Sunday, December 9th from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., where I am hosting a Free Family Movie Afternoon, featuring the timely classic – The Santa Clause. Admission is absolutely free, but I will be collecting donations of a non-perishable food item for the Lanark County Food Bank in Carleton Place. During a season where so m
any of us have so much, it’s important to remember that not everyone is as blessed, and I want to help support this much needed service in our community.

The Mississippi Mills Youth Centre has been invited to join me, and they are setting up a canteen in the Town Hall where they will sell refreshments for a small fee.

I held a Facebook contest earlier in the fall to help decide which movie people would most like to see, and The Santa Clause won hands-down. (There weren’t many votes for It’s a Wonderful Life which is my favourite Christmas Movie…. Maybe next year?)

The Santa Clause is a 1994 American Christmas fantasy family comedy film stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son, Charlie, finish St. Nick’s trip and deliveries, they go to the North Pole where Scott learns that he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves that he is indeed Father Christmas. The movie was shot in the Toronto area, so it’s almost a “local” movie!

It seems like a perfect winter afternoon activity, to add to a family-friendly, activity-filled weekend – and then afterwards, movie-goers can head to the streets to take part in Almonte’s Annual Santa Clause Parade.

Local Christmas Tree Options

Local Christmas Tree Options…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so it’s time to start thinking about getting your Christmas Tree (even though the rules are thatyou can’t put it up before December 1st!)  I sure wish I could convince all the homes in town that I see with Christmas Trees up already about what the rules are!

There are different theories on whether you should have a real tree versus an artificial tree.  Some will argue that an artificial tree is better for the environment – theoretically you only need one tree for your entire life, but as a Christmas enthusiast, I can justify having a real Christmas Tree by purchasing them from one of the local Christmas Tree Farms, where they continue to plant new trees for this sole purpose.  And truth be told, there is nothing more wonderful than the smell of a pine tree in your home!

Here are some recommendations for a local experience where you can do so much more than just purchase a tree for your home.


Cedarhill Christmas Tree Farm – Just a short distance from Ottawa, the Cedarhill Christmas Tree Farm is located between Almonte and Pakenham, off the 7th Concession from Highway 29.  Started by the Ralph Family back in 1988, the farm is now owned by the Martin Family (Pam is the daughter of the local Fulton Family famous for Fulton’s Maple Syrup).  The Martin Family moved to the area in 2016 and took over the business from the Ralph Family.  They continue to offer the same great service that locals came to know and expect, and they have worked hard to offer an even greater experience.

There is no charge to take your family to Cedarhill, and there is so much for everyone to do.  They have a great hill for sliding.  Bring your own sled (but no GT racers please).  They offer free tractor and wagon rides as well.  The grandkids were especially delighted with the straw bale fort, and once I convinced myself it was safe and wouldn’t cave in on them, I enjoyed it too!  Other activities include a bon-fire for enjoying a cup of hot chocolate around, and the Café Claus where you can purchase a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack after working up an appetite.

Of course, the whole point of a trip to the farm is to purchase your Christmas tree, or two.  From 3’ to greater than 12’ tall, with a mixture of white spruce, scotch pine, blue spruce, a variety of fir trees, you cut yourself and they will shake and wrap it for you or buy a pre-cut tree.  Also available for purchase are wreaths, planters and decorations.

While there is no obligation to purchase any product at the Tree Farm, the only way a family business can stay in business, is through the support of local residents who purchase their products.  Sign up for their e-mail notifications to stay tuned to activities at the Tree Farm.

Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park – Richmond Road near Carleton Place

What a great start to the season with all the snow we have had recently for Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park.  This is another family-run business in operation for almost 40 years, and located approximately 15 minutes from Carleton Place, just off Richmond Road.  It’s another great family outing, but there is a charge for this one.  Admission includes access to any activities in the park and a free hot chocolate.

Our last family trip to Ian’s was a few years ago, in the evening, after dinner.  There is something quite magical about bonfires, real reindeer and Santa Claus – by starlight!  Candycane Lane was beautifully lit, and it wasn’t particularly busy on the Sunday evening that we visited.

They offer a hill for sliding, a wagon-ride that takes you to Ho Ho Lake, a skating rink (although we never found it with all the short legs we had in our group), and what feels like miles and miles of trails.  We got to sit with Santa around the campfire during our visit – and there were several warm out-buildings where we could do a diaper change.

The map to the park is helpful and points out the various features we missed including a Hay Maze, a Rope Maze, the Beaver House and many, many trails.

You can cut your own tree and they have saws available for your use, or you can purchase a pre-cut tree (like we did).  They have the usual selection of trees including pines, spruce, fir and cedars, and ranging from 4 feet to 15 feet or more!  Be sure to check their website before venturing out, just to confirm they are open.

Of course you may just opt to purchase your Christmas Tree at the grocery store or road-side fundraising stand, but if you are looking for a family-friendly experience and want to enjoy some time outdoors with the kids, I encourage you to check out either of these local options.  You won’t be sorry you did!


Imagine having a massage just to “feel good”, rather than trying to fix a hurt!  Many people have  a health benefit program through their place of employment that provides full or partial coverage for massage therapy, and yet they don’t even make use of these benefits!

There are some great local options for massage therapy and as we near the end of the fiscal year and calendar, people may be leaving their massage therapy benefit untapped.  Why not check out some of these local options – even if it is just to make yourself feel good, after a stressful day of Christmas shopping or a rough week at work.

Almonte offers a few great options for massage – from a massage therapy clinic to an in-home massage studio.

Bjork Massage – A one-woman business, Nina Bjork Stefansdottir, has been offering massage services since 1997.  Her at-home studio provides a serene, warm and friendly environment where you are greeted by Piglet, her four-legged assistant, at the front-door.  She can adapt her services from a gentle, relaxing massage to deep-tissue, it-hurts-so-good massage, depending on your needs. 

relax. – Formerly known as Absolute Massage Clinic, with offices in Kanata and at Greenbank, there are currently 8 different therapists to choose from.  Clinic hours are 6 days a week, with morning, afternoon and evening appointments available, and weekend appointments too.

With such a large number of staff they can offer a variety of massage services including Hot Stone Therapy, Swedish Massage, Deep-Tissue Massage, Trigger-point Therapy, Pregnancy Massage, Sports Massage, Functional Taping and Craniosacral Therapy.   They are also able to do direct billing to insurance providers and provide easy on-line booking for appointments.


Carleton Place with its larger population offers more than a dozen different massage therapy options.  There are more independent service providers than clinics in CP, but here are a few options you might want to consider.

Darlington Acupuncture and Massage Therapy  – Patricia and Steve Darlington, a husband and wife team,  have been offering myriad services for more than 20 years, including acupuncture and massage.  Their office is in the downtown core, and you receive the benefit of being able to chose gender for your massage, in case that matters. In addition, they offer acupuncture services which can work well with massage therapy, particularly if you are dealing with an injury.

Mahagony Salon and Spa –  When I think Spa, I think relaxation and pampering, and Mahagony has been offering several different types of massage to Carleton Place residents.  Their massage services include Lomi Lomi (which incorporates energy work and chakra balancing into massage); Pre-pregnancy Massage; Swedish Massage and Signature Massage (a more relaxing/refreshing type of massage).

So, whatever your massage needs are, there are some great local options available to meet your needs.  Avoid the last-minute “better use-them-before-I-lose-them” massage bookings, and book yourself a massage appointment now.  Your body will thank you.