Travels and Adventures

A Perfect Fall Day

One of my favourite things to do in the Fall is go apple picking. It feels like I wait all year long to drive out to a farm to pick apples. To me, it seems like the start of getting ready for the cold to come. As long as I have apples, I can make applesauce and apple crisp to get us through the cold long winter. In my opinion, the apples picked fresh from a farm are far tastier than anything I’ve ever bought in a grocery store. So every year, I pick a farm, drive out to the country and pay a ton of money for farm fresh, pick my own apples. Macintosh are my apple of choice.

In the past I have dragged my boyfriend, a somewhat reluctant participant in this activity. He definitely enjoys the baked goods that come out of it but he is not a fan of the actual process. This year I was lucky enough to find a more enthusiastic apple picking partner. An avid fan of Fall, Sebrina is the perfect partner for a Fall country adventure. Sebrina’s friend also had the scoop on a farm out in Milton, ON that didn’t charge an admission fee (that’s right, most farms around here charge you for the opportunity to pick your own apples + the cost of the apples). Wheelbarrow Orchards, is where we were directed to go and we took a lovely scenic route up Appleby Line to get there. While it is true they do not charge admission fees (thank you) they do have you buy a bag from their market for your apple picking. The beauty of that is once you fill your bag you can leave. No having to stand in a line to get apples weighed and be shocked by your total.

Two sizes of bags are offered, a 10lb bag (small) and 20lb bag (large). The prices for each are inline with what I have seen at other farms. I purchased a large bag for $42 which I thought was reasonable compared to other places I have been. Once you buy your bag, off to the apple orchard you go! You have the option of taking a wagon ride out to the orchards or walking. We walked to the furthest end of the orchard (to get the best availability of apples) and it only took about 10 minutes. I can see the wagon ride being easier if you have children, plus its more fun and should be part of any apple picking experience. Note that a large full bag of apples is quite heavy so you may want to take the wagon back in. Not a problem for us since Sebrina is much stronger than I and helped carry my heavy bag.

We went last weekend of September and there was still good availability for Macintosh, Spartan, Empire and Cortland. Gala apples were pretty much gone. Honeycrisp apples are available for purchase in the market only. You cannot pick those yourself. Any other variety seems to be fair game as long as you time your visit accordingly.

Once we were done picking apples, we decided to check out the goodies in the market. I highly recommend you do this. The variety of salad dressings, jams, jellies, sauces and baked goods were mouth watering! You can also try a sample of their cider, hard and regular. Their sparkling water is also quite delicious. I exerted some uncharacteristic self control and came away with only Balsamic Maple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, Maple BBQ and Dipping Sauce, Sparkling water, some fudge and a butter tart. So far I have had everything except the bbq sauce and everything is delicious! I could see myself making a trip out there just to stock up on some the dressing and sauces.

A big thank you to the staff in the market who were so friendly and helpful in assisting us with our choices. I hope to see you again very soon. Pretty sure I will be back next year for apple picking and maybe before that for some non apple goodies.

Photo Credit: all photos taken by Sebrina Bromfield. Used with permission.

Life With Chico Jones

Chico Jones Comes Home

I’ve wanted a dog my whole life. Like every other kid probably does, I remember asking my mom if we could get a dog, several times, and her answer was always no. As an adult, realizing what goes into raising children, taking care of a household and taking care of the family (husband included) I can see why her answer was no.

When I moved out of my parents house into my condo, I seriously considered getting a dog. After much thought and consideration I came to the conclusion it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. The dog would be home alone to much and it wouldn’t be fair. When my boyfriend and I started looking for a house a few years ago I knew this would finally be the right time.

Fast forward a few years. We got settled into the house, painted and started to plan renovations. Last year we started (I started) searching for a dog for us. Ryan was adamant he wanted to adopt a rescue dog and I agreed, knowing we could give a dog in need a very loving home and a great life. It seems that all the rescue organizations I got in touch with thought differently. They didn’t consider us good candidates. That we had never had a dog together previously and both worked outside the home seemed the biggest strikes against us. We also did not have experience dealing with the types of issues that sometimes come with rescue dogs so the dogs we could consider for adoption were few and far between. The odd time we did find a dog suitable for us, there were multiple families interested and we knew with our inexperience we would never be selected over others and we never were.

After months of this, we were very discouraged and made the decision to look for a puppy. While I’m sure all the #adoptdon’tshop believers will be up in arms about this, it was really the only way I saw us being able to get a dog. I started looking for breeders for Portuguese Water Dog puppies. I found a breeder and we began the process of going to meet him and his dogs to make sure Ryan wasn’t allergic (he wasn’t thank goodness), sent in our deposit and got on the list for the next litter. That litter didn’t work out for us but the next one did. Our little guy was born late November 2018 and we brought our baby home end of January 2019. Ryan wanted to name him Jones. I’ve always wanted a dog named Chico so I combined the names and he is now known to everyone as Chico Jones.

There were many people who warned us how much work a puppy would be and they weren’t wrong. I didn’t care how much work it was. I had wanted a dog for so long and was finally going to have one. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to raise a good dog. People were not exaggerating, it was a ton of work and some very sleepless nights. We never could have done it without the help of family. When we couldn’t be home, a rotating array of family members were here to care for Chico Jones for which we are very grateful. When I lost my job, I became the one who took care of him all day. I’m grateful for this time with him. He is still a puppy and needs ongoing training. The fact I’m here all day every day now means I can dedicate more time to his care and training. We love him so much even when he is being bad and one of us has to walk away for a break.

There is such an education in terms of what to get our puppy to keep him occupied. From stuffed bones, to tug toys and treat balls and Kongs we are learning as we go. From friends and coworkers and our wonderful training school, we have picked up many tips along the way. For a shopper like me, its opened up a whole new world of stores and products to look at. I love the challenge of figuring out what our little guy needs and what he might like best.

For all the people who told us puppies/dogs were a lot of work and absolutely worth it, you were bang on. I love our life with Chico Jones and can’t wait to see what adventures we get to share with him. Stay tuned for future updates on puppy shenanigans, adventures and favourite toys.

Eats

Local Good Eats

When we moved to Burlington a few years ago, we decided to do a monthly date night to get out and see what our new city had to offer. The deal was one person picks, the other pays and we flip every month. I’m so glad we started doing this and have come across quite a few gems that are now on a list of recommendations we give to other people. If your every in the Burlington area I hope you’ll give one of these places a try.

MYTHOS Cuisine – 3500 Fairview St, Burlington, ON L7N 2R5

This was the first place we ever went to for date night (I picked it) and in my opinion its still the best restaurant we have been to so far. We have been back with some friends since the inaugral visit. Food is fantastic, service is incredible and both times we have been there the owner/chef has come to our table to ask how everything was. I do not recall that happening at any other restaurant I have been to.

For dinner we have always made reservations and I would encourage you to do so. It is quite popular and I could see it filling up quickly, especially on weekends.

Rayhoon Persian Eatery – 420 Pearl St, Burlington, ON L7R 2N1

Located in the Village Square in downtown Burlington, Rayhoon is the kebob specialist. We have also been back to this place after our initial date night dinner (BF’s pick, to be fair), and enjoy trying different things. I especially like the card on the table that provides the proper instructions for eating your kabob meal. It involves cutting up the tomato and adding a seasoning which I can’t remember the name of right now. The kabobs are very tasty and the meat tender.

My kabob dinner at Rayhoon our first visit there.

Son of a Peach – 2049 Pine St #62, Burlington, ON L7R 1E9

Also in downtown Burlington, not far from Rayhoon, Son of a Peach is a pizzeria that does not disappoint. Just from the name alone you would give it a try. Pizza is one of my all time favourite foods and I am always ready to try a new pizza place. We ate here on a friday night around 7pm and it was very busy so keep that in mind. We had to wait about half an hour for a table. A friend told me the Garlic Knots are excellent. We didn’t have them but saw them being carried out to many tables and they do look delicious.

Bahn Thai Authentic Thai Cuisine – 4490 Fairview St., Burlington , ON, L7L 5P9

This restaurant is in a plaza we are in on a regular basis so didn’t have to search to far for this date night choice. I love cashew chicken and tend to stop looking at the menu as soon as I find it which was the case here. Had to ordered a side of rice with it, as I usually have to do in most thai restaurants, and to me it would be incomplete without it. Service was good, food was good and quality was great. The staff seemed genuinely happy to have us in their restaurant and if felt like a family was making our meal.

Stone House Restaurant – 3106 S Service Rd, Burlington, ON L7N 3J3

This wasn’t a date night restaurant but a pick for my birthday dinner last year. I selected it largely based on Trip Advisor reviews which were very favourable. They were absolutely correct and this is one of the best birthday dinners I’ve ever had. When you book a reservation online you can enter if your celebrating an event. I entered we were celebrating a birthday and when we got to the restaurant, our table had little birthday decorations on it! What a great touch. All the food we had was amazing, the service impeccable and a manager came over a few times to ask how everything was. This is the sister restaurant to Lake House Restaurant which you may have seen on the way to Niagara. After our great experience at Stone House, we are anxious to try Lake House.

Pictures below of our decorated table and dinners at Stone House. Ryan had the prime rib and I had a pasta dish that I asked to have vegetables added to. Appetizers are in the top right photo. Everything was fantastic.

Unfortunately I do not have photos from all of our dinners. Ones I did have seem to have been deleted. In the future I promise to do a better job of including photos as I continue to highlight any new favourite date night places. If you end up trying one of the places on my list please let me know how you liked it.

Shopping

Made By Bees

I have always been slightly bothered by what a waste aluminum foil and saran wrap is. It seems silly to spend money on products that really only have a one time use. What bothers me even more is that even if those things aren’t dirty after you use them, you aren’t going to keep it for another day. It just didn’t make sense to me or seem efficient. If there is one thing I like to be it is efficient.

So when one day at work, a coworker told me about a product she had bought that was made out beeswax and from a local company, I felt that this was a product I could see myself making a commitment to.

The product is Beeswax Food Wraps and the ones I have are from the company “Mind Your Bees“. The wraps are sold in a variety of patterns and sizes. I purchased the Small Set which includes 1 Small 7×7, 1 Medium 10×10, 1 Large 13X14 . I wasn’t sure which size I would need or use so this was a good start for me. The wraps are sticky and the material sticks to itself once you fold it and wrap it around food or a container. I currently have one in use around sliced cheese and I have used the larger one to wrap up my banana bread. The only food the instructions say not to use it on is meat. Once its done doing the job, you wash it with cold water, air dry and put it away until the next time you need it. Each wrap is good for about 100 uses and can then be composted.

The set of wraps I bought. The butterfly pattern is the large size, polka dots is the small. The blue is medium size and is shown wrapped around my cheese.

I have to say the wraps do come in handy and I am so glad I have them. I feel better knowing I’m using something more responsible to the environment and that I am helping to reduce our waste. It also feels good to support a local business, this one more local to me than some others. Mind Your Bees is made in Hamilton, ON which is practically down the street from us!

Ingredients: 100% premium cotton, local beeswax, organic jojoba oil, pine tree resin and coconut wax.

Uncategorized

I’m Back!

Hello and welcome back to those who used to follow my other Not A Shopaholic blog. Many years ago, I started Not A Shopaholic over on blogspot where I wrote about all kinds of cool and unique brands and products that were not at your local mall. I loved doing it and had great feedback about it but finding time to write it became a challenge so it ended up on the back burner.

Fast forward many years and as of May 2019, I found myself unemployed once again and in the cycle of job hunting and networking. As I was applying to jobs, I started to notice some online forms had a place where you could enter a personal website. Since I hadn’t kept up with Not A Shopaholic, I wouldn’t fill out that section out but it got me thinking and I started seriously considering starting it up again.

Other than time, the challenge I had originally was finding enough brands and products to write about. When your focus is non mainstream stuff, it takes a bit longer to find things you want to write about. So I decided if I was going to start writing again, I would branch out on topics. In addition to the core content of the original Not A Shopaholic, I will also be incorporating thoughts and views on trends and news in the business world, maybe throw in the odd story about our newest family member, our Portuguese Water Dog puppy: Chico Jones and also take you through some of the renos we are doing on the house. Nothing like a home that needs a ton of work and updating to open you up to new shopping opportunities!

That’s the plan right now. We will see how it all rolls out and adapt as new ideas and inspiration arise. I hope you will join me for the journey. Look forward to writing for you.

Christina