Sunday, June 28, 2015

Guns, Cannons and Kids: Visiting Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake

My husband and I are always looking for new and exciting things to do with our kids - especially during the summertime.
Quite often are days are planned using good old TRIP ADVISOR where we find things we may never have known existed! 
We recently camped in the Niagara region of Ontario and were looking for something to do with the kids on a sunny Saturday morning. The number one thing to do in the area (besides visiting the countless wineries!) was to hang out at  Historic Fort George. 

Our kids love historic places - especially ones with cannons and guns!

We paid our admission fee and were handed our farthings.  We needed to hand these to the gatekeeper who stood watch at the entry of the fort. 
When the soldier stepped out of the gate house, my family stepped in!!
Here is some historic information about the fort for those who are not up on their Canadian/British/American history:
During the War of 1812, Fort George served as the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army. These forces included British regulars, local militia, aboriginal warriors, and corps of freed slaves. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, "the saviour of Upper Canada" served here until his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October, 1812. Brock was  initially buried within the fort.
Basically- In 1812, Canada was still a British territory and the Americans REALLY wanted the valuable land here around the Great Lakes.  The biggest battles between the British and American forces took place during this time. 

Fort George is named after the King of England at the time - King George III (1738-1820) hence why his initials decorate the fort and all of its equipment. 

George Rex
The fort is located in some of the most expensive real estate here in Ontario.  We had a good chuckle when we saw this cannon pointing out of the fort and right at a multi-million dollar home!
During the 1800s, British soldiers wore bright red so that they could be seen through all of the smoke that muskets and other guns created during a battle. 
In the working kitchen, we learned how "Darbyshire Cakes" are made and about all the exotic foods the army officers ate.  Because this is Canada, the British officers tried moose, black bear and even raccoon meat. 
This is a "Firkin," the fridge of the 1800s.  It was used to keep liquids, butter or fish cold. 

Inside the head officer's home, we saw that even though a war was going on, the high-born leaders of the British army still lived as well as they would have if they were back in England.  Fine china, crystal glasses and imported specialty foods (like coconuts and pineapple) were part of the daily routine. 

This was the lower officers' "mess hall."  Many men ate together but they ate and drank well!
My oldest son was the first to notice the "gun d├ęcor" in the officers' hall.  He told me he thought it was "a bit violent" but "still really cool!"

This man was dressed to represent a low-born Militia soldier who was likely Canadian-born and had to supply his own gun and equipment .

This soldier represented mid-level British soldier whose family could afford to clothe and equip him in the full army uniform and could purchase him the latest in rifle and musket technology. 
He gave a fabulous and often hilarious lesson on how guns of the time worked - or sometimes didn't work, in battle.  At the end, Bryn was very eager to get close to this soldier's gun and to ask a few questions about the war. 
 He admitted after that he though this fort was one of the coolest places he had ever visited. 
Whew! It's not always easy to please a nearly 11-year-old boy!

Another week begins tomorrow and it is the first official day of summer here in our home!  We have planned as little as possible - reading, puzzles and a trip to the library.
Sounds perfect to me!
Have a wonderful week!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Five On Friday - Five Creative Works in Progress

Yesterday was the last day of school! I sent my 29 kindergarten students off on their summer vacations and I get to start mine tonight after I finish cleaning up my classroom!
Summer time means FREE time and I look forward to getting back at a few of the projects I have let slide as the school year progressed.  Here are my top five crafty projects that I hope to get completed in the next few weeks:
Number One: My English Paper-pieced Hexagon Flowers
Truthfully, this quilt won't be DONE in the next few weeks, but I hope to get several more flowers stitched, especially while we are travelling in Italy. So far, I have only worked on this project while we've been on vacation. So far, I have flowers made in France and England and I am looking forward to adding some Italian flowers, too!

Number Two: "Circle in a Square" Blanket
I'm making this to add to the afghan collection in our family room.  Now that the dog insists on his own blanket, I need one more for another human member of my family.  I am about half-done these squares and should be completed by the end of July. 
Number Three: ABC Animal Quilt
This week, three friends have announced they are expecting (including one set of twins!) so I have a few baby projects to get done this summer. I have the piecing complete on this quilt and the backing and binding bought, so now I just need to layer it all together and get the quilting done!

Number Four: London Cross-Stitch
I'm half-done this one too.  I have a cloud, a tree, a car and the remains of a building to complete. Cross-stitching is slow-going, but it is all worth it in the end!

Number Five: Flower Garden Quilt
So many flowers, so little time....until now!  I can't wait to layer this quilt top up with the vintage sheet I bought for the backing.  My daughter is already requesting  a park picnic on it as soon as it is done!
Next - I'm going to go and check out all the other blog posts left by people who are joining in on Amy's Five on Friday linky party.
Then - I'm going to start getting ready for our second camping trip of the season.  Let's hope the rain holds off.  Being stuck inside the travel trailer all weekend would absolutely stink!!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Camping in the Jordan Valley

After having to cancel a previous camping weekend because of rain, we were eager to get out on the road with our travel caravan and sleep under the stars!
We headed just an hour down the road on Friday night and found a luscious green paradise not too far from home.

Upon arrival, we took some time to walk the camping sites to get to know our new "home" a bit better.  The camping venue is located in a valley, surrounded by towering trees and lush countryside. 
Near our site, there was a well maintained fruit orchard that we walked through each time we headed to the bathroom.  It made a necessary journey a much more pleasant one! 
The kids located the play area as soon as we arrived.  They spent hours sliding, swinging and digging in the sand.  However, their new favourite game is "tether ball."  They had never played before so I had to teach them the rules and techniques.  I remember this game fondly from my childhood and now my own kids have found the joy in it, too!
There's our cute little 14-foot travel trailer.  It's shorter than my mini-van!  I've almost got the interior renovations done so hopefully I can show you the inside in the next few weeks!

After supper, we headed to explore the green-space further afield.  Lots of wild-growing ivy (which reminded us all of our trip to France last year) and pretty clover-shaped water plants in the little stream that trickled through the park. 

This tree was massive and had all the right parts for tree-climbing for all three of the kids!
Before the sun went down, the kids went back to the park and I was able to do a little bit of this!
As soon as it became dark, out came the sweaters and we built ourselves a fire. 

I had packed all the fixin's for S'Mores - marshmallows, chocolate squares and 2 kinds of biscuits -  gluten free for Kevin and Camden and graham crackers for the rest of us! We ate far too many, but they were delicious!
We had a fairly restful night in our cosy caravan.  The younger two were up at 7am looking for warm tea (I was glad to oblige) while Hubby and Biggest Boy stayed cosy in bed a little while longer. 
Overall, it was a wonderful first camping trip for the summer season.  We REALLY liked this particular campground and we are already planning a return trip for August.  Next week we are meeting my mother and her extended family for a big family reunion/camping weekend, too. The kids ( and me!) are already excited and looking forward to another marvellous weekend in our trailer. 
Just 4  more days of school around here and then it's SUMMER!
So much to look forward to.....

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday: Pictures From My Phone

Joining in with Amy over at Love Made My Home in her weekly linky party, Five On Friday.
And, as usual, I've uploaded a handful of photos from my cell phone's camera that capture the week that has been!
Number One: Pizzelles!
I just adore these Italian waffle cookies that are crisp and thin, and taste wonderful in a variety of flavours.  I originally fell in love with them because my aunt would bring them to family events and I would devour them at dessert time.  Then, one Christmas, my mother purchased me my own Pizzelle iron. I used it a lot when I first received  it, but it hasn't seen the light of day in ages.  With our upcoming trip to Italy, I decided  it was time to treat the family to some Italian-style delicacies and pizzelles were priority number one!

Number Two:  The view from my bicycle.
I have a lovely bike. It's aqua in colour and has a large, rather useful basket.  One night this past week, I took my dear bicycle on a 45 minute tour around our town, making one little stop along the way to fill up my basket.  I love the freedom I feel on my bike and the exercise it brings.  And it's such a healthful way to run errands too.  No need to sit hunched in the car when you can whizz down a bike path to your final destination. 
And what was my final destination?? It was the LCBO. 
What is this LCBO you ask if you are not from my part of the world?
Well, it's the only place you can legally buy alcohol in my part of Canada.  And I filled my lovely bike basket with sangria, cider, a couple cans of margarita and two alcoholic cloudy lemonades.  The perfect end to a perfect bike ride!!

Number Three: Baby Quails
I teach kindergarten to 30 mostly cute 4, 5 and 6 year olds.  This past week, one of the dads offered to bring in several of the newborn baby quails he has been raising in his backyard. He arrived in the morning with a clear, glass box containing 6 of the cutest 5 day old birds I had ever seen! They were just bigger than golf balls and covered in neutral-coloured striped feathers.  The kids said they looked "tiger-striped."  It was an apt description.  They spent the day squeaking and chirping and bringing everyone in the classroom great joy.  It's amazing what a sweet little living thing can do for anyone's mood!

Number Four: Camden's Smoothies
Camden is my fruit and vegetable kid.  He'll eat pretty much any of them without complaint.  In fact, there are days he'll turn down a meal I've prepared and ask for "cucumbers and berries please."
Now that he is 6-and-a-half, HE decided it was time for him to learn how to make his own smoothies using our trusty blender.  He's seen me do it lots of times, and helped a bit, but now he wanted me to stand by while HE put it all together.  And he did.
He threw in the banana and  he cut off the "green stuff" from the strawberries and tossed them in. He scooped out  a cup of yogurt and poured in a serving of almond milk. One I showed him which button to depress on the blender, he was off to the races. Within seconds his first self-made smoothie was ready and he told me it tasted extra-good because he had made it "all by himself."

Number Five: Mom and Daughter Date Night
The other night I had a dental appointment in a nearby town.  Perfectly enough, my daughter, Afton, had a softball game in that same town later that evening.  So we took full advantage of this coincidence and she headed down the highway with me for my appointment.  As soon as my teeth were clean, we found the nearest restaurant with the prettiest flowers and the sunniest patio, and we slid into our seats and enjoyed a relaxed "girls only" dinner. We started with Italian sodas, mmmm,  and finished with big plates of Primavera Pasta.  Lots of girl talk ensued and we planned another date just like this in the very near future!

I'm looking forward to visiting several other blogs to read about everyone else's weeks.  Hopefully I'll fit that in before we head away on our first camping trip of the year tonight.  Pray for good weather and cooperation from the kids!
Hugs to all,

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Sunny Afternoon at the Street Festival

Our home town held it's annual street festival in the glorious sunshine and our family took full advantage of all the outdoor food and fun!

The boys had  a marvellous time trying out these hand-propelled boats set up in a huge blow-up pool in the park.  At first they shared a boat, but soon found they were too heavy and weighed the vessel down.  Cam climbed into his own ship and they were off to the races!

No boats for Afton.  She REALLY wanted  a balloon animal so Daddy and  she stood in line for nearly a half and hour so she could be the proud owner of a pink balloon bunny!

Is Bryn too old for the blow-up bouncy castles?  No way.  As long as he fits through the entrance door, he's going in!
Camden LOVES getting his face painted - and always in a superhero theme.  This time it was Batman handily painted by the lady who runs the paint store on Main Street. Do you see her dress?  It's made of paint chips!!!

It was nice to spend some time walking through the centre of town.  I drive by these old buildings so often but hardly ever get  a good look at them. This day out was the perfect opportunity to look closely and appreciate the architecture of our home town.

And how about some food?  Bryn chose a kebab of pork topped with a chunk of pineapple from a Hawaiian-themed BBQ hut. Kevin chose a smoothie served in a real, hollowed out pineapple.  Very refreshing and VERY summery!
To finish out the afternoon we watched a dog show put on a by a local training centre that trains dogs for TV and movies.  We watched them move in unison, jump, do slaloms, retrieve, and do a variety of tricks.  Camden even got involved in a "backwards race|" with a bull terrier.  Apparently it is hard to train a dog to walk backwards so Camden had to prove he could move faster than the dog.  In the end, it was a tie and Camden was very glad the doggie didn't beat the pants off of him!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! It was cold and rainy here today, but with only 2 weeks left of school, the weather is NOT going to bother me. 
Hugs to all,

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five on Friday: Photos From My Phone

Feeling a bit rushed today, but I really wanted to fit in a post for Amy's Love Made My Home linky party.

As usual, my "five" are pictures from my phone, captured during my daily routine at home and out and about.

Number One: My first pink poppy of 2015!  They seemed to be in bud forever, but finally one day this week they burst open and the tissue-y beauty broke forth!

Number Two: Gluten-free Shortbread made with almond flour and cornstarch.  They were delightful!  I'm never sure how a GF recipe will work out, but these were very well-received by my GF husband.  We've also decided to try our youngest son on on a GF diet to see if we can clear up a few health issues so I'll be baking GF a lot more  in the near future.  

Number Three:  Evenings on the deck, enjoying the sunshine and my furry companion.  

Number Four:  My newest stitching project - an image of several London landmarks.  I recently showed you my finished Paris stitching and now I have moved onto London.  I am hoping to stitch New York and rome, too, and create a stitched memory wall of places we have been.  

Number Five : Elderberry Cordial made by my mother.  She bottled several jars last summer and we enjoyed a few then, and have opened another for June 2015.  The kids like it mixed with plain water and ice and my hubby and I drink it with sodawater, lime and some fresh berries.  Very refreshing!

Thanks for popping by on this fine Friday.  I hope the weekend brings sun and warmth in your neck of the woods!

Much love to all,