Local Farmer’s Markets

One of the best things to do on a Saturday morning in the Ottawa Valley is to visit one of the many, local farmer’s markets. Each unique market is filled with local farmers, artisans and makers. It is a wonderful way to support your local small businesses as well as an opportunity to meet the faces behind those businesses. Here are some of farmer’s markets available in your area:

Carleton Place Farmer’s Market: Located at “Market Square” which is on the corner of Beckwith and Lake Avenue in Carleton Place, the farmer’s market runs every Saturday, in the warmer months, from 8:30-12:30pm.This is one of the very few fully covered market’s around! So, you can visit it even when it’s raining!

Perth Farmer’s Market: The Perth Farmer’s Market has been in operation since 1992. It runs, rain or shine, from the Mother’s Day weekend until Thanksgiving weekend. The scenic location includes the beautiful “Crystal Palace” where many of the vendors set up their goods. There is always free parking available and wonderful live music to serenade you as you wander.

Almonte Farmer’s Market: Opening Saturday May 18th, the Almonte Farmer’s Market has been in operation since 1990. It has remained in the same location, at the Almonte Public Library parking lot, since opening. Bakers, woodworkers, potters and soap makers are among some of the vendors you’ll find at the Almonte market. Just steps from downtown Almonte, the market is the perfect place to start your Saturday!

Carp Farmer’s Market: The Carp farmer’s market is in it’s 29th season of operation! It is open every Saturday from 8:00am – 1:00pm from May until October. This market is the largest producer-based Farmer’s Market in Eastern Ontario. They are home to over 90 vendors and have thousands of people in attendance each weekend.

Renfrew Farmer’s Market: Entering their 49th season in operation at the Renfrew Fairgrounds, this market is bursting with wonderful vendors. They offer a variety of locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey, maple syrup, meats, baking and much more! Opening at 9:00 and running until 12:00pm every Saturday from May to Thanksgiving, this market is perfect for a Saturday morning trip into the Ottawa Valley.

All of these markets offer exceptional, local products. You’ll find something a bit different at each one. Share your Farmer’s Market purchases with me on Facebook and Instagram! I’d love to see what you were able to find.

Best Ice Cream Stops

Finally, spring seems to have arrived! And with the warm weather, comes Ice Cream stands! We are lucky in our area to have some wonderful, local, ice cream shops. From Pakenham to Carp over to Carleton Place, wherever you are located, there is ice cream waiting for you just around the corner!

The Almonte Ice Cream Shop: Located in the heart of downtown Almonte, the Almonte Ice Cream shop offers hard and soft serve cones, milkshakes and sundaes. The perfect location is central to the downtown shopping area and just steps from the picturesque Almonte falls! It’s located on the former Peterson’s Ice Cream lot, which many people will remember from days gone by. Check out their Instagram for some photos of their delicious offerings.

Scoops Ice Cream: This small, traditional, ice cream stand is located right around the corner from the main street in Pakenham. They offer a variety of sundaes, smoothies, and frozen yogurt as well as hard & soft serve options with an array of toppings to choose from!

Carp Custom Creamery: The Carp Custom Creamery is worth the drive out to Carp. Not only do they offer amazing hard ice cream in every flavour imaginable, but they have the most beautiful ice cream cakes! They truly have the most amazing flavour selection, and they offer their ice cream in 1L tubs so that you can stock your home freezer full.

The Cheddar Stop: This wonderful little store located in Carleton Place has a great selection of hard serve ice cream, delicious milkshakes and fudge! Yes, fudge! This is a great spot to pick-up an ice cream cone as well as do your gift shopping. They are also fully stocked with Balderson and Maple Dale cheeses, baked goods and a selection of spices, sauces and unique treats!

The Daily Scoop: A local favourite in Almonte! The Daily Scoop makes amazing (and huge!) hard serve ice cream cones. They also have chocolate and vanilla soft serve, 32 flavours of milkshakes, frozen yogurt and sundaes. The Daily Scoop not only serves ice cream but is known for their homestyle breakfasts!

There is nothing better than a delicious, ice cream treat, on those warm spring days. If you get a chance to try out any of our local spots, make sure to share your choice with me on Instagram and Facebook!

Mother’s Day Gifts

Are you prepared for Mother’s Day? It’s just around the corner! Make sure your Mom is feeling loved and appreciated this year on her special day. If you haven’t purchased that perfect gift yet, I’ve put together a great list of ideas that will be sure to please.

Personalized Gift Basket: Gift baskets are a wonderful idea. An even better idea is getting together all sorts of your Mom’s favourite goodies to put together in one basket! Gift baskets allow you to add your personal touches, making them extra special. You could even create a theme: Mom’s favourite snack foods, favourite make-up/personal care items, favourite seeds & gardening accessories, the ideas are endless!

Spa Gift Certificate: I’m not a huge fan of giving out gift certificates as they can seem impersonal. But, a gift certificate to the spa is a totally different story! Moms always need some time to decompress, and what better way to allow her to do this, than to send her off for a day at the spa! You could look in to a traditional spa or opt for something unique like Le Nordik near Chelsea!

A Homemade Gift: There are some great homemade gift ideas out there, ones that actually produce practical gifts! Log onto Pinterest and search “DIY Mother’s Day gifts” and you’ll be flooded with a wide range of tutorials on how to create that one-of-a-kind gift. This type of gift is also a great way to get the kids involved.

Take Mom out for a Meal: Material gifts are nice but taking Mom out for a meal and spending some quality time with her can be just as appreciated! Choose one of her favourite restaurants or try something new! Brunch is always a great idea on Mother’s Day. Add some flowers to her day and you’ll be all set!

Make her a Homemade Brunch: Invite mom over for a homemade meal! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, a simple pancake breakfast (with real maple syrup! will be sure to tell your mom how much she means to you. Add a fresh bouquet to the table and a personalized Mother’s Day card to top it all off!

How ever you choose to pamper your mom this Mother’s Day, she will surely to know how much she is appreciated. Visit my Facebook page next Sunday to share “how you celebrated Mom” this year!

Best Places to Buy Shoes Locally

Spring is finally here, which means, putting away all of that winter gear and digging out your summer apparel. You may realize you’re in need of some new warm weather footwear, but where should you go locally to shop for a new pair of shoes? Fortunately, we are surrounded by a number of great options!

Crush Marketplace: Located in downtown Almonte, this wonderful boutique offers a variety of stylish, good quality footwear. They have been evolving since 2011 and have a full shop of not only footwear, but accessories, clothing and gift items. Additionally, you can shop from home via their online shop! I LOVE their Fitflop options, so be sure to check those out!

Vamos Outdoors: Another wonderful Almonte shop! Vamos Outdoors is your local outdoor wear expert, including quality clothing and footwear options. You’ll be all set for years to come with some of the well-known brands they have in shop including: Merrell, Bogs, Keen, Sorel and Blundstone’s.

Graham’s Shoes: Customer service that can’t be beat! Graham’s shoes has rave reviews on their customer service and product. Located in downtown Carleton Place, this wonderful local shoestore has been keeping local feet in foot wear for many, many years. It is truly the only place in the area that you can find quality, comfortable shoes. Carrying brands such as: Clarks, Rockport and Birkenstock they are the perfect spot to find your everyday footwear.

Brown Shoe Factory Outlet: You read correctly, it’s an outlet!! Selling Naturalizer shoes as well as bags and accessories, this one-of-a-kind store is a great place to purchase quality shoes at a discounted price. You’ll be able to load up on all of your spring and summer footwear at their amazing prices! The Brown Shoe Factory Outlet is located in Perth in an old factory turned boutique business strip mall.

Likkuid Sole: A relatively new shoe store option, Likkuid Sole opened its doors in downtown Perth in 2017. They have a wide variety of stylish, quality footwear as well as yoga & workout wear, accessories and more. Additionally, they have a men’s apparel section!

There you have it! The perfect list of local shopping locations for completing your wardrobe this spring. Where to start?! Don’t forget to share your purchase with me on Facebook or Instagram! I’ll be sure to share mine.

Things to do on Easter Weekend!

Easter is right around the corner! We are so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful communities, each offering their own version of a celebration of the annual holiday. Whether you’re from Carleton Place, Almonte, Perth or Pakenham, there will be a great event going on for you and your family to attend! Here are some of the things local communities will be offering this weekend:
Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush – Easter Weekend Celebration: Located just outside of Pakenham, Fulton’s will be hosting a four-day long event. This wonderful venue is home to a pancake house/restaurant, complete with a “maple” gift shop and has a large area outside for everyone to explore and play! Keep an eye on their Facebook page, apparently the Easter Bunny may be dropping in over the weekend!
Destination Almonte Presents: The Great Egg Hunt: Join a group of businesses in downtown Almonte for their first ever “Egg Hunt”! The festivities begin at 10:00AM on Saturday, April 20th at Kentfield Kids. Participants will receive a free tote complete with your scavenger hunt details. Did I mention there will be prizes!?! This is sure to be a great event.
Carleton Place’s Annual Bunny Run: On Saturday, April 20th, the Easter Bunny will be visiting downtown Carleton Place, in this annual event know as the “Bunny Run”! Beginning at 11:00 a.m., children can collect candy from participating businesses and visit with the Easter Bunny. This event is put on yearly and is always a hit.
Perth Tourism presents the 7th Annual Easter Egg Hunt: Bring your basket! Starting at 11:00 a.m. sharp on Saturday, April 20th, the community of Perth will be hosting their Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Stewart Park will host a variety of family entertainment including children’s music, balloon artist clowns, the Perth fire truck and much more!
Easter weekend is always such a great way to get out and enjoy what your community has to offer. Take advantage of the event in your area and celebrate! Remember to share your Easter weekend festivities with me on Facebook.

It’s Maple Syrup Time!

Lanark County is famous for its maple syrup, and spring is the PERFECT time to discover the back roads of the county with a stop at a local maple sugar shack. There are many options to choose from, and below is a list of a few of my favourites!

Fulton’s Pancake House: Probably the most well-known sugar bush in Lanark County is Fulton’s. Operated for the last 170 years by 5 generations of the Fulton Family, these folks know what they are doing! They are open daily from mid February to Easter weekend, and are located at 399 Sugar Bush Road near Pakenham. (Even their address screams maple syrup!)
Today, Shirley Deugo, 4th generation Fulton, and her son Scott, continue to operate the historic Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush
The farm is approximately 400 acres of mixes forest, with more than 9 km of walking and skiing trails, they have a 120-seat restaurant with a beautiful maple shoppe and sugar camp.
www.fultons.ca Admission is FREE.

Thompson Town Maple Products: Another local family-run operation, located on scenic Clayton Lake just west of Almonte, Thompsontown has 400 acres of land, tapping more than 6,000 trees each season. Re-established in 1982 by Wayne and Ray Thompson, and their wives, on Ray’s family farm, the two families have been growing the business ever since.
The Thompson’s have plans to market more syrup at the sugar camp and have added a stage for entertainment, as well as additional parking area, outdoor displays and new nature trails. They welcome visitors daily from 10-4, where you can watch the production and taste some taffy.
www.thompsontownmaple.ca Admission is FREE.
Temple’s Sugar Bush: Located just minutes off Highway 7, between Carleton Place and Perth at 1700 Ferguson’s Falls Road, they are a family-owned restaurant and maple farm, with approximately 70 acres and 5,000 taps. The Post and Timber barn was constructed in 2007, proudly serving up pancakes and a multitude of maple products including maple cotton candy and maple popcorn. They are open Wednesday to Sunday, from March 1st to April 28, 2019, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

And for the “sweet” of heart, Temple’s Country Weddings offers a delightful wedding venue for your wedding day. Check them out at www.templessugarbush.ca. Admission is FREE.Fortune Farms: West of Almonte at 2442 Wolfgrove Road, you will find 3 generations of the Fortune Family, tapping trees and boiling sap, to provide a unique maple experience. On weekends the Shanty Men operate a small wood-fired evaporator and the Kettle Boys tend their kettles over open fire just for visitors. This allows visitors to experience the pioneer method of making syrup and taste the difference between traditional and modern syrup making methods!

They have trails through the bush to check out the farm, but don’t forget to wear good footwear. Trails are not plowed. (You can always spot the city folk in their runners and shoes!) Offering different grades of maple syrup and products, you might want to try their maple vinegar! Bet that would be amazing on a spinach salad!
www.fortunefarms.ca Admission is FREE.

Wheeler’s: Wheeler’s Sugar Bush is one of the largest maple syrup producers in Ontario, tapping more than 20,000 trees. They are a family run operation, tapping and boiling since 1978 and the pancake house officially opened in 1996. They have a pancake house, a Maple Heritage Museum featuring antique tapping equipment, a playground and a barn, where you just might see some baby animals at this time of year.

Wheeler’s is a year-round operation with nature trails making this a maple themed destination for tourists to the area.

Located at 1001 Highland Line at Watson’s Corners, don’t rely on your GPS to help you find them. Open daily during the maple season from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and they will be serving pancakes right on up to Easter Weekend. For more information: www.wheelersmaple.com Admission is FREE.

So, this is THE weekend to get out and enjoy some maple syrup as it’s also Pakenham’s 17th Annual Maple Run Tour featuring 33 unique artists at 10 different stops, throughout the area. The tour runs from 10-5 both Saturday and Sunday, April 6th and 7th, and if you would like to find out more information check out their website at www. mapleruntour.com Sounds like a SWEET weekend ahead!

Best Date Night Recommendations

It can be challenging to find new and exciting “date night” activities in our small communities. I’ve come up with a great list of local things that would be wonderful to add to your calendar for date night!

Dinner & a stroll on the Riverwalk: Enjoy one of downtown Almonte’s many wonderful restaurants and then take a stroll down the Riverwalk boardwalk. The walking path starts in behind the Old Town Hall and takes you on a beautiful scenic route following the Mississippi River. During the warmer months, this is truly the perfect evening and best way to experience downtown Almonte

Bowling in Carleton Place: Did you know there is a bowling alley in downtown Carleton Place? The bowling alley has been there for many years but was recently purchased and given a modern make-over by its new owners. Chasin’ Turkeys Bowling Alley is a great place to spend the evening with your significant other. They offer snacks and drinks (including alcoholic) for purchase as well as shoe rentals. This unique date night is a must!

Board Games at Almonte’s Mirco-Brewery: Crooked Mile Brewery offers a one-of-a-kind experience in Almonte. They welcome you to bring in your own food to enjoy with one of their many craft beer choices. They have a selection of board games that you can play while you enjoy your food and drinks. What a great way to spend an evening bonding.

Take a drive out to Burnstown or Calabogie: If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the drive out to Calabogie & Burnstown is truly beautiful. There are a number of different routes you can take, all of which are scenic. Both small towns have a number of great little cafes and restaurants.

This unique list is a good start on things that you can add to your date night calendar! Now you just have to make the choice of which experience to indulge first!

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, without Drinking Green Beer!

Everyone loves St. Patrick’s Day! But, not everyone wants to celebrate by drinking the St. Patrick’s Day staple “Green Beer”. Here are some wonderful, non-alcoholic, alternatives to joining in on the celebrations!

Start the day off by making green pancakes: Start the celebrations early! Using your favourite pancake recipe, add a bit of green food colouring, and voila! You have St. Patrick’s Day worthy pancakes to start your day off.

Do a Green craft with the kids: This is a wonderful way to involve the whole family in your celebrations, even the youngest members! Pinterest is full of great “Green” craft ideas, including things like: make your own green slime, create a fruit loop rainbow, marshmallow shamrock stamping, creating a pot for the end of the rainbow and much, much more.

Host a St. Patrick’s Day tea party: Your tea party could be for your adult friends, your children and their friends or invite your family friends! Start by decking out your home with St. Patty’s Day decor; lucky shamrock garland, paper shamrock centrepieces and green fabric wreaths. Have everyone wear their festive, green attire and incorporate green colour in to all of your favourite finger food. Make up a pot of green coloured tea (add a drop of food colouring into any flavour of tea) and you’ll be all set to celebrate.

Participate in Ottawa’s St. Patrick’s Day Road Race: On Saturday March 16th, the Ottawa Irish Rugby Club will be hosting their annual one and two mile races. Both races end at Lansdowne Park (just in time for Beau’s annual party if you’re feeling extra adventurous). All participants are encourages to dress in costumes to show off their Irish pride! If you’re not up for the run, you are able to watch the event and cheer on the participants. The costumes are always entertaining!

Attend the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Every year, Ottawa celebrates this Irish holiday by putting on a parade. This year will be their 37th annual, and will start at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 16th at Ottawa City Hall. The parade heads out onto Elgin Street, continues onto Laurier, goes South down Bank Street and eventually ends around 12:00 p.m. at Lansdowne in the Glebe neighbourhood. This is another great way for the entire family to celebrate!

I haven’t quite decided how I’ll be celebrating this year, but the above list gives me many options to think about! Make sure to post photos of your celebrations to Facebook and Instagram! I’ll be keeping an eye out for them! (And don’t forget to play Irish music!  There is nothing that makes you smile like listening to songs about unicorns and things!!)


Best Things to do with the Kids over the March Break!

While the winter seems to have gone and on, and Christmas seems like a lifetime ago, we are already at the March Break which can only mean one thing – even to those without kids in school – that Spring is just around the corner!
In case you find yourself home during this week of March, looking for a way to entertain your kids (or grandkids as in my case), check out these great local offerings to get us through the next week.

Free Public Skating: Local arenas will be offering free public skate times during the March Break. Both the Almonte and Pakenham arena have scheduled skates each week day, from Monday to Friday between 1:00 – 3:00. Just bring your skates and have some fun Kid’s World in Carleton Place: If the weather doesn’t allow you to be outside, head on over to Carleton Place and let the kids expend some energy with a day pass to Kid’s World, in the Industrial Park off of Townline Road. Closed Mondays, they are open the rest of the week from 9-12:00 p.m. and 4:00 – 8:00 p .m. on weekdays, and from 10:00 – 7:00 p.m. on weekends.
Fulton’s Maple Sugar Bush: Located at 399 Sugar Bush Way between Pakenham and Almonte is open daily during the March break, from 9-3:00 on weekdays, and 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on the weekends. I am guessing it might be slightly less busy through the week, depending on the weather.
Daily they offer walking trails (no dogs please) for walkers, snowshoers and nordik skiiers. They even have some adult snowshoes to borrow. They have a self-guided Heritage Maple Path to teach you about the history of tapping trees and making maple syrup. Visit the Sugar Camp and see how syrup is made today – and pray that the sap is running by then! There are Trail Games and a Tobagganing Hill, and don’t forget the cafeteria with home-made pancakes, sausages, bacon and baked beans. Don’t want a full meal? No problem – but don’t leave without buying a sample of their maple taffy or maple cotton candy.

Mississippi Mills Youth Centre: In Almonte has a week of “day camp” ideas planned. The camp is available for kids between 10-18 years of age, with a variety of activities from tie-dying of shirts, to a trip to Extreme Trampoline. Times are between 11-5 each day, with a different charge each day depending on the activities. Registration before March 8, 2019. Check them out on Facebook @MississippiMillsYouthCentre.

Beckwith Township Day/Sports Camp: Two different camps being offered by Beckwith Township. They were offering a fun camp called LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Workshop for the budding scientist between the ages of 8-14, but it’s full!
Day Camp for little ones from 4-8 is offering a week filled with fun activities, and for the older kids from 9-13, there is a Sports Camp offering competitive activities that will help develop motor skills & knowledge of various sports. For more information about any of these camps, call the Beckwith Township Office at 613-257-1539.

Now, I just need to figure out what I am going to do with the little darlings in my life. I am going to pick the sunniest day there is this week and head outdoors. We are just so cooped up feeling – need to get some vitamin D and some sunshine! Hope to see you around.

Best Coffee Shops Around…

Best Coffee Shops Around!

We have lots of local options for “coffee dates”, either as a way to catch up with friends, or for a business meeting with clients.  While there are lots of “chain” coffee shops in the area, it’s nicer to be able to support local owners – people just like you and me, who live and work in the area.  Owners who you will bump into at the grocery store, ore meet in the line-up at the bank, and see them at the soccer field with their kids (or grandkids!)

Below is a list of some of my favourite local coffee shops, that you absolutely must try!

Equator: Located just at the edge of Almonte, as you approach from Ottawa, Equator has turned into a growing concern.  They started out as a local “roaster” in 1998, sourcing fair-trade, organic beans through Cooperative Coffee, trading directly with the farmer cooperatives and eliminating much of the “middleman/red-tape”.  With more than 20 years in the business, they have experienced much change and growth, and recently completed a rehab project which doubled their space in Almonte to now include the café, the roastery and a coffee-lab for training purposes.

Their menu continues to grow as well – so you can expect to find a variety of blends being brewed, as well as specialty coffees, specialty teas, fresh baking from Baker Bob or Sweet-Cheeks Kitchen gluten-free treats.  The expansion included new food offerings such as pizza, wine and beer…  more than just a coffee shop!  They are still famous for their “Freakin Good” coffee…  which is one of my favourite blends.

They have expanded services to a shop in Westboro Village, at the NAC in 2018, and a coffee truck starting in 2019.  Even if you don’t live local, it’s well worth a weekend drive to experience Equator.

North Market Almonte: Looking for something a little more “main street”, then stop into North Market, literally in the middle of Mill Street in Almonte.  Amanda and Rick Herrara are an amazing couple who we have watched grow their business, and food offerings, over the last several years.  They started at the Almonte Farmers Market several years ago, providing delicious summer breakfasts and baking, and preserves, and have quickly outgrown their space in an artist cooperative to move into their own restaurant – North Market.  Open daily they offer breakfast and lunch meals, with plenty of home-baked treats and serve “Fluid Solar Coffee” roasted in near-by Clayton Village.  

Baker Bob:   Another local Almonte “fixture”, is Baker Bob’s bakery on Mill Street.  Baker Bob (Graff) has been serving up coffee and buns for more than 20 years to Almontonians.  Easy to spot with his striped canopy, and wooden sign, Baker Bob provides a small seating area for you to enjoy his own blend of Equator coffee “Baker Bob’s Blend”, with a variety of baked-on-site treats from date squares and peanut butter cookies, to chocolate croissants and danishes, to butter tarts – with and without raisins!  Bob is closed on Sundays, presumably to rest his “buns”.

Under Pressure Coffee House:  One of my favourite go-to spots in Carleton Place, located in the mall on Landsdowne Avenue in Carleton Place.  With a variety of coffee from lattes to americanos to cappuccinos, and specialty teas, the fresh-baked loaves and muffins and cookies will tempt your palate.  She also offers a daily soup, and delicious sandwiches made fresh on site, but I mostly go here for coffee meetings.  Owner, Cara, is happy to help you make a selection of the best baking of the day!

Gathering Grounds Café:  Formerly known as the Owl Café and located at 135 Bridge Street in Carleton Place, open 7 days a week, 8:30-4:30.  This is a social enterprise, providing employment for youth and adults with learning disabilities, where they can learn a skill and build confidence, while providing hot and iced coffees, teas, smoothies, juices, as well as chilli, soups and sandwiches.

So, the next time you need to meet a friend, or have a business meeting, think local and support one of our locally run businesses.  You won’t be disappointed.