Oct 162014
 

Book Club “Retreat” at Limberlost Forest Reserve

A couple of weekends ago, Mr. Nice and I headed a few hours north of Toronto to  Muskoka “Cottage Country” to spend time with our book club friends.  I think you will love my photos of the amazing place where we stayed.  It is an idyllic location every autumn lover would dream of.

book club retreat

Autumn in Muskoka, Ontario

Here in Toronto, the autumn colours are showing their loveliness.  But north of the city, in “cottage country”,  the fall colours have been spectacular since late September.  Friends in our book club rent a cottage / lodge every year the weekend before the Canadian Thanksgiving at the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near the lovely town of Huntsville, Ontario.   This 3000 square foot lodge is a very spacious with SEVEN bedrooms and is on Buck Lake!  Buck Lake Lodge is the ONLY cottage on the lake.  Needless to say, the location is spectacular.

(BTW: NO affiliation)

The Good Friday Book Club is comprised of 4 married couples and 3 ladies whose husbands don’t care to participate. So seven bedrooms was just perfect.  The common area is large and spacious and the kitchen is well equipped which is important to this group of literary “foodies”.

The Lodge

book club retreat limberlost common area

Common area: There is nothing fancy making it oh so homey.

The decor has some very cool lamps made of birch logs and an elk head on the wall.

book club retreat limberlost

One of the fun birch log lamps

book club retreat limberlost

The smiling elk can be a bit creepy

In the common area the dining table is so PERFECT!  And so is the view!

book club retreat limberlost

Don’t you just love this table!

book club retreat limberlost

The pictures are not magazine worthy but there were 11 of us!

book club retreat limberlost

The view from the interior upper balcony. So nice to wake up to!

 

Let’s get outside!

book club retreat limberlost

The main entrance is on the level of the deck. Below the main floor is a sauna and 3 bedrooms as well as an exit outside to the lake.

 Can you spot Chester, my fur baby, and his little nose between the rails, wondering what I am doing?

Around Buck Lake

There is a trail in the woods, near the lake’s edge encompassing the lake.

No more words are needed.

book club retreat limberlost

Winter is coming

book club retreat limberlost

Mirrored silence

book club retreat limberlost

Golden splendor

book club retreat limberlost

Courageous fern

book club retreat limberlost

Morning Mist

book club retreat limberlost

Autumn glory

book club retreat limberlost

Nature’s Mirror

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Alone in the woods

book club retreat limberlost

Brillance at every turn

book club retreat limberlost

View from a lookout close to the lodge

By the way, we really did have a book club meeting and the book we discussed was Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  In this first book of her trilogy, the world she writes about is as far away from this idyllic setting you could possibly get!

book club retreat limberlost
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

I hope you enjoyed your visit to Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve and the sampling of photos I have shared.

 

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So please leave your thoughts and questions below.

Joan

Jun 282014
 

When someone one says “Give me a Break!”  I don’t think this is what they mean..

I posted back in May, for some reason, I was in a funk I could not seem to get out of. I was not able to get at the oh so many paint and upholstery projects I have lined up.  I felt  distracted and shall I say a bit lazy!  Not sure what it was; perhaps that brutally long winter.  At the time, I had been blogging about 8 months and my page views and visitors were up significantly.  But my “followers” were not growing  at the same pace.  Much of the traffic to my blog was coming from my participation in linky parties.   It was becoming clear I was not exploring and taking advantages of other, more productive options available for bloggers. 

So I took a break and did some research, reading and thinking.  Still in a bit of a funk on the work front but was very busy  planning my daughter’s prom / graduation party.

Then, on Friday the 13th,
I got a REAL BREAK!
and not a nice one!

I slipped on a wet floor and went down like a ton of bricks.

I thought I had a sprained ankle because I could put some weight on it but NO… a fractured tibia  (shinbone).

This sucked in so many ways but it could have been worse.  It was my left leg so I can still drive!

Air Cast

This boot is made for walking…

In the two weeks that followed, we had a number of special occasions planned.

We were hosting our last Book Club meeting of the season,  the day after the big break.  Luckily I had set up the dining room for a formal “Great Gatsby” meal before the fall and the meal is “pot luck” and my group is so familiar with my kitchen I had no concerns and was waited on by all 😉 

Then on June 20th, we were hosting a pre- and post- prom party for my daughter and her friends and their families.  You know 45 people mingling around taking photos, eating nibbles and sipping on champagne cocktails.  I could hobble and the week leading up to this, I prepared so many cool things, decor and food, to make it special. 

I was smart though.  I called in a favour from  my bestest friend Gay,  a real estate agent, and asked her if she could be free on Friday to help me.  I do a lot of PhotoShop work for her promotional plan so it was difficult to turn me down. 

OMG without her, I would never have survived the day.  As it turned out the day was PERFECT!!!   Perfect weather.  Perfect food and drinks.  Perfect decor. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

IMG_2111

All the lovely ladies!
(and my peonies in full bloom!)

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This bench by our front door is the location of nearly every “First Day of School” picture for the past 13 years!

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Miss Nice and her Romeo!

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Their school is a dedicated Arts-Only school and this picture shows most of these kids are in the DRAMA program

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That was some limo! A stretch Hummer!

 What was not perfect was I did not get pictures of the decor, the food or the drinks.  I so wanted to do a blog post on it.  You know, get out of my funk.  But NO!  Jusy no time to spare to take photos.  This is definitely a blog issue I will work on… allow WAY more time for things I want to blog about.

Then June 23rd was Miss Nice’s eighteenth birthday and on June 25th was her high school graduation!  Talk about packing it in!

IMG_2256

A grad picture on the bench was a must!

It has now been two weeks since my big break and the pain has subsided quite a bit.  I quite like the feel of the air-cast when I put it on.   It nice and snug and makes me feel more stable. 

Mr. Nice and I leased a golf membership for the summer at a private club, making this break VERY untimely and expensive.  However, I plan to go to the range this week and see how much it puts me off balance.  We can always take a cart!

Today, I am going to tackle some paint projects because the weather here in Toronto is magnificent!  And I want to go outside!

Similar to my post back in the winter,  Make Like Nike and “Just Do It”   I plan on getting off my butt, out of my funk and be productive regardless of my leg.

In the meantime, I have one more decision to make: 
In the first week of July, do I really want to fly to England to see my in-laws while sporting a cast? or should I go in the fall when Mr. Nice usually goes alone? 

Have you taken a long flight with a cast on?

Have you ever had a bad Friday the 13th? 

Stay tuned for more projects and posts because I believe I am back!

Joan

 

Be sure to follow me on Bloglovin! 
and comments just make my day!
(And I could use a break!  LOL)

Jan 112014
 

Beginning with this post, I am going to share my love of reading by writing about my book club and as time goes on, the books we are reading and the food we eat at our meetings.  I have added a tab / page at the top where I have listed the books the Good Friday Book Club  have read to date.

To be honest, our Book Club is one of the most dearest, important aspects of my life.  The bond and dedication the members have never ceases to amaze me.  As the main organizer, I am often taken aback at the importance our little book club has in each members’ life.

A Bit of History

Our book club began as a group of moms whose children were involved in competitive dance.  It came to light we were all dying for some non-dance related fun and mental stimulation.  Our daughter, Miss Nice, was involved in Competitive dance for 12 years!  Needless to say, the studio was like her second home.  As dance parents, we saw many children grow and mature into lovely teens and adults.

We watched Miss Nice grow from this

2002 "Sweet Nothin's" The most adorable 5 year olds ever!

2002 “Sweet Nothin’s”
The most adorable 5 year olds ever!
Miss Nice is on the left

To this:

2014 Gorgeous!

2013 – Gorgeous!

It was at the dance studio where I met my most amazing friend Grace. One night, while waiting for our daughters to finish lessons, I noticed she was reading a book I had recently finished. We began discussing it and other books we had both read and liked.   I also could not help noticing all the notes and scribbles in the margins.  She was preparing for an upcoming book club.  As time went on, whenever  we met up, we always seemed to get into book discussions.

About a year later, she told me her book club was falling apart.  I have always thought a book club would be fun, so we decided to propose starting one with the studio “dance moms”.  The response within our dance-mom circle was incredible!  This was in February  and Dance Competitions are mostly in the early spring months so when we tried to find a free date, it was difficult. 

We finally all agreed to meet Good Friday, 2009: our first meeting.
The book was “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. 

book

Now nearly 5 years later, we are still at it and oh how we have evolved!  You see, Grace has a Masters Degree in English Literature and she takes her reading and discussing very seriously!  Along the way, we lost a few lovely members but we also gained a few.  With Grace’s leadership and encouragement, we have all grown and we are now much more discretionary, insightful readers.   Not to mention, we all seem obsessed with our book club!  NO ONE EVER wants to miss a meeting!

Unlike many book clubs, ours now includes MEN! 
I know, this sounds almost sacrilegious to many book clubs but for us it works.  

I had the most appropriate house for hosting because all our darling dancers could  dance and carry on in our large family room while we met in the living room.  As such,  Mr Nice was always there and he too is an avid reader.  After a couple meetings, other hubbies wanted to participate.   So we now have 4 men and 7 women.

I believe what makes our book club special is our original connection to each other was dance and not much else.  We don’t live in the same neighbourhoods, we don’t work together and now, only Grace still has a child in dance.  The occupations in the group are also far reaching… Accountant, speech therapist, opera singers, teacher, engineer, real estate, etc.  So each of us brings a very unique perspective to the discussion.  

Our meetings are a blast! 

For each book, we try to pull out a theme or food or drink .  Sometimes it is easy and sometime not. 
One of the best meetings was when we read Eat Pray Love
We had a YOGI! come in and lead us through yoga class! 

Our next meeting is in a couple of weeks and the book is Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. 
Interestingly, since Glass Castle, this is the first non-fiction book we have read.

Devil

Have you read it?

Are you part of a Book Club? 

What has been your favourite book to date? 

What was your least favourite book discussion? 

I would love to connect with other book lovers and book club members! 
Be sure to leave a comment and follow me on Bloglovin or Pinterest where I will be setting up a book board.

Happy reading!

Joan

Jan 032014
 

This year, we spent Christmas in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  We left Toronto on December 20th, just in  time to miss the terrible ice storm that hit on December 21st, which caused tree damage and a power outage that in some areas of the city lasted for days!  Not only were we fortunate enough to be basking in 85’F weather, we have amazing friends who cleaned out my freezer and cleared our driveway before we returned.  We are so blessed!

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana

This is not the first Christmas we have spent on a vacation far from home.  Before our little Miss Nice came along 17 years ago, we often went skiing in the Rockies or Quebec.  Due to our work, neither my husband nor I could take time off between January and summer, so Christmas worked for us.  These work restraints remained after our daughter came along and nearly every year during the Christmas break, we would either go skiing or to the Caribbean.

Regardless of whether or not we have been home on Christmas Day, we always put up a tree.  This past December, between my husband traveling, weekend out-of- town university tours  and just plain busy-ness, we opted to not put up the tree.  In the meantime, I had been drooling over all the bloggers lovely Christmas decorations and vignettes.  

It had been snowing quite a bit so it looked like a winter wonderland and in mid December,  I was hosting our monthly book club and  I just couldn’t take it any longer!  I was missing the Christmas decor!  I dragged out a few boxes and put out a few festive pieces in our living room.  The modest display and lots of candles made the ambiance at the  book club meeting much more in keeping with the time of year.

Before I pack the stuff away, I thought I would share my fireplace display. 

ALSO, this is also the first time I’ve shared photos taken with my new
LG G2 smartphone
using Instagram
Enjoy!

fireplace

Living Room Fireplace flanked by two narrow windows

hyrdanea

Hydrangeas from my neighbour’s bush look so festive with red berries

tall vase

I love these hydrangeas in the tall vase!

snowman
My little stuffed Frosty with frosted twig balls and a metal bird napkin holder.
tree

My attempt at a layered Vignette.
The backdrop is a white canvas frame covered in sheer fabric with
HO HO HOs all over it.

urn

I LOVE this urn!!! I picked it up at Goodwill for less than $5.
I am so partial to Turquoise!

 I wish I had time to share earlier because for my last minute effort, I think it turned out so festive and relaxing.

Maybe this year I will get my act together.  After all, my little Miss Nice will be at university.
Oh how things will be different!

Tell me what you think of my photos, using my new LG G2 Smartphone.
I think they are amazing!

Joan

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 Posted by at 11:32 am
Sep 072013
 

Today’s a rainy day which is perfect for the projects I have in mind.

In this post I’d like to introduce another of my past times: reading and our book club.  For me personally, painting furniture and books are a perfect combo.  You see, I really love to paint and I really love to read.  But often, reading makes me feel restless and guilty that I should be doing other things… like painting.  This is where audio books come in!

Listening to a good book and painting is a perfect marriage! 

Hours can slip away!  I can be busy and my mind is still working.  If is is a book club selection, we always have the physical book so we can make notes and references in the books.  (Yes, we write in our books!)

Tonight is our book club meeting which my hubbie and I will be hosting.  This meeting’s book is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  It is  incredibly well written with intricately crafted threads.  I am sure the discussion will be very stimulating.

cloud atlas

Book Store

To the left, is a photo of the book cover most of the book club members will have tonight. To the right is our copy of the book. Tonight, no one will have a cover like ours.  Because no one less has this guy living with them!

cody_ 001 copy

Cody: He devours books!

my cloud atlas

My copy & the SECOND replacement cover! 

 

 

In addition to our great conversations regarding the book, it is also an opportunity to be with some of the most amazing people I have had the fortune of befriending.  We’re a very eclectic group who were initially pulled together through our daughters’ participation in competitive dance.  Over the four plus years, the membership has been organic, losing some and adding others from other friendship circles.

We even allow husbands! 
and wow are they keen!

In addition to loving books, we love FOOD!  Not just any old food:  good foodie food!  Being a potluck affair, we often try to develop a menu in theme with the book.  For example, for tonight someone suggested “SOAP”… a food a futuristic character was forced to eat or steak tartar since cannibals are featured.  These were mostly jokes but we’ll see.  The best example of having a theme had to be Eat Pray Love.  Dishes from each of the countries were featured: India, Italy and Indonesia.  The best part was I brought in a yogi friend and we had a class in our family room!  So fun!

As I continue to develop the blog I will include posts about our book club and our crazy, wine-infested meetings.  But right now, I have a ton of stuff to do including reviewing my notes for tonight’s meeting.

If you’ve read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, I’d love to hear your comments!

 Posted by at 10:23 am
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