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2018 – Year In Review

2018 brought with it so many joyous moments – 365 days sprinkled with happiness and memories to treasure. We wouldn’t know the value of happiness however if life wasn’t also accompanied by sorrow. While there have been so many reasons to be thankful this past year, our family also said goodbye to some very precious souls.

We began 2018 with our cousins amongst a whirlwind of vacation prepping.

January was filled with tobogganing trips, chilly but serene dog walks and finally an escape to Curaçao where my sister and her fiancée tied the knot during sunset on the beach. It was picturesque with a gazebo of soft linens fluttering around them and garlands full of bursting with hydrangeas and pink roses. After the ceremony we dined beside the ocean in the warm evening breeze. It was pure bliss! We spent the rest of our week floating in the ocean or lazing in the sand. We swam with sea turtles and danced under the stars. Back in Canada, winter was long and we relished any moment the sun provided even the slightest warmth on our faces.

By the time Spring finally got here, we couldn’t wait to get outdoors. I began walking the dogs twice a day and enjoying my morning coffee on the porch or in the backyard gazebo. During these times our cats or rabbits were allowed in our fully enclosed yard with me and they too seemed completely elated to be outside in the fresh air. Then, just as Spring was turning in to Summer, we lost our eldest rabbit Ollie. This boy was the purest soul and despite having numerous health problems, he exceeded all veterinary expectations and gave us 9.5 wonderful years. I was heartbroken to loose this very special boy but my heart was also full of gratitude for all of the stolen time we had together. His partner Willow was also grieving so I moved her in to a pen in our rabbit play area so that she could safely interact with Honey and Sebastian.

Summer was hot. Even with the breeze off the lake most days were

unbearable unless we were on the water. I walked the dogs early, often letting them swim while I walked down the beach back to our house. For our 11th wedding anniversary my husband surprised me with a getaway to Niagara Falls. It had been almost 10 years since we’d last been – I know we are SO old! Not much had changed on Lundy Lane but we did visit Bird Kingdom, the Butterfly Conservatory and went go kart racing on the new speedway. The biggest surprise though was an evening cruise along the falls complete with fireworks at sunset! It was spectacular!

In late August my tenacious Aunt Shirley passed away. She had been suffering for some time so we were filled with a mixture of grief and relief that she was no longer in pain. Despite her ceremony being held on a long weekend, the service was full. She had touched many lives and certainly lived an interesting one herself. During those first weeks after her death I felt like she was everywhere. I slowly began to realize just how many things I did and appreciated in my daily life because of her. I will forever remember enchanting garden tea parties, picking mint for our tea, random travels to spot Trilliums and collect chestnuts for clackers, dressing Goose, and the random quotes and pressed flowers she would send in the many birthday cards I got each year.

During the first week of September, Carina joined the family. A friend of

ours had a neighbour who was leaving their rabbit outdoors in an unsecured crate. The rabbit had been found running around the neighbourhood on multiple occasions so my friend asked if she could take her and find her a home. Since Ollie had passed away and I was working on bonding Willow, Honey and Sebastian in to a senior bun trio, we had an empty pen ready to go! This beautiful girl immediately stole our hearts. She was curious, sweet and loved to be snuggled. Now that she’s had time to settle in she enjoys exploring during floor time, doing binkies and hopping up on the couch to cuddle with us!

Our family came together in the peak of Autumn to celebrate the union of my cousin and his bride. It was a beautiful ceremony in an absolutely stunning venue. Autumnal decor of willow branches and leaves lined long tables and bouquets full of wheat sprays, hydrangea’s and mums were situated around the building. There was no official reception, just a sit down brunch with good company and mulled cider. It was perfect.


Then just after Canadian Thanksgiving we very suddenly had to put our 9.5

year old Golden Retriever down. Over a few days he went from having a slight limp in his front leg to being in critical condition. Diagnostics revealed he was full of cancer and he had deteriorated so rapidly that the kindest thing to do was to let him go. Even now I write this with tears in my eyes because Murray was my heart. He was the most incredible boy and an extension of my soul. When my anxiety and depression became crippling and I was waking in the middle of the night in silent panic attacks, gasping for air, Murray would suddenly come running up the stairs and be at my side. We all loved him unconditionally – his big bear hugs, the bounce in his step, how he would look back at me every so often on our walk smiling. I don’t think my heart will ever recover from losing such a precious boy and it’s certainly made the last few months of the year a struggle for us.

Only a few weeks after Murray’s passing, Genevieve was playing with a neighbourhood dog when he accidentally barrelled in to her, taking one of her canine teeth with him! So off we rushed to the emergency vet, our baby girl bleeding profusely in the back seat. Thankfully they were able to get her on pain medication quickly and reconstructive surgery was done overnight. She was due for a dental and x-rays showed a few rotting teeth so we had those removed and the others cleaned while she was under. To our relief, everything was a success and Genevieve was back to her normal self in no time. These two such extreme experiences in such a short time frame however, left us quite shaken.

And then, some light at the end of the tunnel. It had become clear to us that

Genevieve was desperately missing her play mate and brother. She liked to play with us and she was an expert snuggler but we couldn’t brawl and chase her around the yard like Murray could. No matter how much we tried we could never replicate what it was like to have a friend that was her own kind. Even with walks, she began to get restless around the house, getting in to this or that and bringing me items constantly. Having always been a two dog home, life felt that much more incomplete. We had planned to give ourselves some time and get through the busy-ness of the holidays before beginning the application process for another dog but by mid-November I found myself contacting Golden Rescue to see if they could begin the search for the addition to our family.

On November 26th, along with several other families, we anxiously waited at Pearson Airport for our girl #2924 Zahra to come through the doors at customs. Golden Rescue takes in surrenders both locally and internationally while continuing to expand in Canada. When I had begun the application process they had two dogs that were not yet spoken for but who they were hoping to add to a flight from Egypt and we both fell in love with Z’s sweet little face. If you’re interested you can watch a short segment that CTV News did including some of my footage from that day here. Yup, that’s me giggling away in the background. She was full of love and happiness and energy and it took just a few days before her and Gen were chasing one another around the yard. We still miss Murray with all of our hearts but are so glad he sent us this sweet little love to make us feel whole again. She has a lot to learn but is perfect in absolutely every way.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to our very sweet guinea pig Tristan a few days later. He passed unexpectedly during the night with his buddy Kodiak by his side. It was quite a shock but I’m so glad that I got to be his forever mama after he was born at the rescue and then later returned with his brother. Over his years with me he really came out of his shell and would run to the front of his pen for head and ear rubs when he heard me come in to the room.

Then before we knew it, it was December and we were surrounded by the

chaos of the holidays. Christmas trees and the scents of baking and lights and holiday markets and family get togethers….it was a whirlwind of activity! It always goes by in such a blur, even more so when you’ve added a new high strung pup at the same time! We ended the year with a trip to Fort Henry to see the magic of Lumina Borealis (totally worth the trip) and toasting to 2019 with a great group of friends.

Of course I couldn’t possibly include every wonderful moment from 2018 in one blog post. Throughout the year we also celebrated two 50th birthdays and one 30th, welcomed our first niece in to the world, completely redid

our front gardens and main hallway staircase, had adventures with friends, explored new places with the dogs, watched sunsets, spent time with family, toasted marshmallows by campfire, celebrated the engagement of close friends, spent days at the beach and nights under the stars. It was truly a beautiful year to remember.

Watch it all here.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2019.

Happy New Year!



**As an aside, I have been a long time volunteer for Golden Rescue. They are a wonderful non-profit organization that relies solely on donations to give Goldens the care and life they need. Please consider making a donation by clicking here.**

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Corn Mazes, Apple Picking & The Pumpkin Patch

It’s that time of year again when the leaves are in their glory, the air has chilled and the nights grow shorter. I excitedly await October’s return every year, so you can imagine just how thrilled I was to be back at the Pumpkin Patch looking for the perfect pumpkins for Hallowe’en.

This year we wanted to find a farm that was closer to home but still had some fun things for us to do. We stumbled across Cricklewood Farm in Brighton while doing a search online and were even more excited when we found out that we could bring our two Golden Retrievers, along with us.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day! We began our farm adventure by unloading the dogs and heading to the corn maze where we spent close to an hour getting lost between rows and rows of leafy stalks. We did hit a few dead ends and once or twice may have followed our dog’s suggestions to take a ‘short cut’ through the maze but overall we all had a lot of fun!

We hit up the apple trees next. As we stood between branches mixed with foliage and those round jewels of goodness, it dawned on us that we had never been apple picking before! We quickly filled our barrel before realizing that we had perhaps gotten a little carried away – how would we eat them all?! Turns out we got through them in less than a week. Every one was perfection and tasted a million times better than anything we had gotten from the store.

Finally we made our way to the pumpkin patch, me with Genevieve and Murray in tow and Duncan with the wagon. There were so many to choose from! We ended up finding two large pumpkins and a cute little one before making our way back to pay for our goodies.

All in all it was a great day! The dogs were completed exhausted after their farm adventure and spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch, snoring away. Duncan and I wasted no time delving in to our big bag of apples! Now, we just need to do some serious pumpkin carving and we’re all set for the big day!

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Week 5

Day 29: This is what happens when you decide to walk the dogs during the peak of a snowstorm.
Day 30: ‘Snow…is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found?’ – J.B. Priestly
Day 31: Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.
Day 32: Celebrating my brother-in-laws birthday on Superbowl Sunday. Do you like the shirt Hubby picked out for him?
Day 33: Snow day with my loves!
Day 34: Bunny bum!
Day 35: The best way to embrace winter is to snowsuit-up and play in it with those you love!

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Birthdays, Chili & Snow Days!

 This past week we celebrated my brother-in-law’s 23rd birthday while enjoying vegan chili and watching the Superbowl! It was great to get together with the family, drink too much and enjoy some good food! 
We love to eat our chili with tortilla chips and Daiya cheese sprinkled on top! And of course the best part is always the leftovers! 
The rest of the week brought with it a ton of snow! Hubby had to take a snow day on both Monday and Wednesday because the roads were too bad to go anywhere! We have so much snow now that it’s become a challenge finding a place to put it all, as the snowbanks have gotten so high! 
But, we try to make the best of it. Winter will come around every year whether we like it or not so it’s best to just suck it up and have some fun! 
Hubby and I snow-suited up and had a blast hiking and playing with the dogs this week! With their thick, water repellent coats, they are built for this weather!  They love to run and roll in it and will try to catch the snow in their mouths as it falls! 
They had a great time digging tunnels, trying to find their ball, and attempting to catch the snowballs Hubby and I threw for them! And who says we’re too old to play in the snow too?!
And of course, a fresh snowfall brings so much beauty with it!
By the time we made it home through the knee high snow we were all exhausted and ready to cozy up in front of the fire with a good movie.
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Around The Neighbourhood

My second daily ritual after my morning coffee is to walk our two Golden Retrievers around the neighbourhood. Our dogs have a ton of energy to wear off and it gets me moving too! During the Winter, walking the dogs becomes more of a chore but in the warmer months it’s a great way to soak up that fresh air and sunshine!
I was really excited that our new home is also so close to the water and couldn’t wait to familiarize myself with my new surroundings.
Since we looked at the house in early Spring, we had only come to see the very edge of these trails. Then, still coated in snow, it was difficult to imagine everything in full bloom. What a fantastic surprise when the dogs and I came out of the clearing and ended up here!

As we walked the trail for the first time, I spotted this monarch butterfly caterpillar hiding under some milkweed.
And loved the simplicity of this small vine wrapped so tightly around this branch.
Genevieve and Murray were ecstatic when we ended our walk with a swim off the pebbly beach.
Walking the dogs has now become one of my favourite daily tasks. 
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Celebrating National Dog Day!

Today is National Dog Day so we’re celebrating the amazing dogs that have been such a huge part of our lives!

Our two Golden Retrievers Genevieve and Murray have certainly been a handful but have brought us so much joy over the past 5 years!

This golden duo is so entertaining there’s never a dull moment around here! Thank you Genevieve and Murray for being there through the good and the bad, loving us unconditionally along the way! 
I also don’t feel this post is complete without paying tribute to our miniature schnauzer, Maggie whom we had to say goodbye to this past Friday. 

Maggie we love and miss you so much! Thank you for being such a wonderful companion over the past 15 years. I am so glad that I got to share so much of my life with you! xox

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Happiness

Taking a break at the park during one of our walks.
I am in a wonderful mood today! This morning I got on the scale and am officially down 15lbs from June 7th. That was the first day of my new life!
Murray and Me <3

Since becoming self-employed I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Stress? Gone. Anger? Gone. Feeling unappreciated? Gone. And along with all of those unhappy emotions, I’ve lost that need to try and eat those feelings away. I don’t crave wine and chips and candy anymore (although once in a while I still need my fix) and have started listening to when my body says it’s hungry instead of eating because my mind is telling me to.

They love their morning walks and I enjoy them too!

It also makes it easier not having temptation staring me right in the face. I’m not forced to stare at a vending machine several times a day or walk by a grocery store on my way to and from work. When going grocery shopping, I make my list in advance and stick to it.

Genevieve & Me <3

I find it difficult to do intense workouts because of injuries I sustained a few years ago in a car accident so instead I have taken up walking the dogs around the neighbourhood. I wake up in the morning, feed the dogs, start my coffee and do a 40 minute walk with them. I think it’s safe to say all three of us enjoy the fresh air and the exercise!

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Fall Doggy Walks

Marlow

We are having an absolutely beautiful Autumn day here.  Perfect weather for walking the dogs!  A nearby friend and blogger of Live, Love, Laugh, Meow & Woof recently became a dog owner and asked if we could coordinate a doggy date.  This way they could get acquainted and their exercise all in one!

Marlow munches on my shoes!

Genevieve and Murray are extremely friendly and social so I knew they would all get along well.  What I wasn’t sure about was how they’d walk with another person and dog accompanying us!  It was definitely a little challenging but they were actually fairly well behaved.  Of course Genevieve made sure to get as much lovies in as possible out of my friend before we parted ways but both her and Murray were pretty good!

Marlow picks a shady spot for a nap!

I was very pleased that they also were very good to Marlow (the puppy)!  Mostly they were pretty aloof (like when Murray was standing on Marlow’s foot and didn’t seem to notice) but at the end there was a bit of play time!  Leashes made it awkward to do much other than a playful bounce and paw but they seemed satisfied with that!

Marlow gets fiesty with his new pal Murray!
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Dog Days of Summer

Hubby and I vacationed most of the week, it was wonderful!

If you’ve been reading the blog you’ll know we started our vaycay at a family cottage in Bancroft, Ontario.  We love going up there because the dogs are just as happy as we are.  Unfortunately we didn’t get the best weather so Hubby and I spent part of it making up new rules to Monopoly.  When the sun was shining or it just wasn’t raining we were outdoors with the pups.

Genevieve & Murray retrieving the ball.
Enjoying a canoe ride while the rain held off.
 
Weather cleared up for a beautiful sunset.
And stayed beautiful in to the next day.
Sunning on the dock with Genevieve.
The dogs spent all of their time in the water.  We haven’t gotten much rain this summer so they had to go out really far to get where they couldn’t touch.  Murray spent hours doing circles in the water – this tiny speck moving in the distance.  Every once in a while you would see him stop and his head pop up, just to make sure we were still around.  Genevieve likes to retrieve.  Even if she’s completely exhausted she can’t resist swimming after her toy and bringing it back to us.  Eventually to give her a break we had to leash her and bring her on the dock with us.  With a ball in her mouth, she settled down quickly.
 After some R&R at the cottage, we spent some time at my Dad’s boat with him, my Stepmom and little Brother.  We had gorgeous weather and picked an island close to the marina to anchor off of with some friends to enjoy the day.  My little Brother and Hubby spent their time pretending they were pirates (my brother is 4).  I spent my time floating around on an inner tube, sipping my wine and soaking up the sun.  My Stepmom came up late, she slept in and we wanted to get out on the water so Dad was trying to figure out a plan to go back and get her later on.  Instead she found someone boating our way and hitched a ride with them to us!
Brother and Hubby.
Hubby walks the ‘plank’ and does a cannonball!

 We’ve been back for a few days now.  Although our vacation was relaxing being a Beach Bum just wears me out!  I’ve been lazing around here when there’s tons to do – but I have a great tan now!  I’m nervous to start work again tomorrow.  I’ve been off for almost 4 months after pain problems following a car accident we were in last Christmas.  Keeping fingers crossed it all goes well and no one yells at me!

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The Longing

For Christmas, Genevieve and Murray were given new toys.  Not just any toys, these ones have specific colours that are supposed to make it easier for your dog to find.  To make them extra fun they also float.  They also are made of material and stuffing – the exact recipe for disaster.  So we put them on a shelf in the garage until our next trip to the cottage.

Unfortunately for us Genevieve has a major case of OCD and just can’t let them go.  Every time the garage door opens she’s out there next to the shelf, staring longingly up at them.  It’s kind of sad really, especially since it’s been almost 7 months since Christmas and she hasn’t let up.

Neither her or Murray know what the word ‘cottage’ means.  If they did they’d know we’re heading up there tomorrow.  With the toys.

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