Where in the World

Deadly Grounds

With my favourite holiday just around the corner, today I decided to check out a spot that combines two of my favourite things- Halloween & Coffee!

Deadly Grounds Cafe, located in Courtice, ON was the perfect spot to grab a coffee on this grey, rainy day in October.

The cafe features horror themed drinks & baked goods, as well as over 30 coffee and tea options with names like Haunted House, Camp Blood, Never Sleep Again, Tropical Terror and Witches Brew.

In the cafe, there are a variety of specialty lattes including Camp Crystal Lake, Myers Macchiato and White Zombie, as well a snacks including “Sin-o-man skulls.”

There’s retro video games and artwork and decor from all your favourite horror movies found throughout the cafe, including a few large animatronic characters.

The “Odditorium” is filled with creepy masks and retro horror merch and even a secret room…which not going to lie, made when jump when I saw what was hidden inside! (You’ll have to go check it out for yourself!)

Today, I enjoyed a Camp Crystal Lake latte and a Sin-o-man skull- both of which were delicious!

If you’re looking to get in the Halloween spirit…or just looking to get your daily coffee fix with a side of horror, this is definitely the place to be!

https://www.deadlygroundscoffee.ca/cafe

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When in wine country…sleep in a wine barrel!

I like wine and during this pandemic I’ve come to enjoy it even more, so when I came across our next ‘Unique Stay’ on Airbnb, I knew we definitely had to stay here.

I actually found the listing last summer, but as it is a very popular one it took us awhile to get a date. Thankfully this gem was worth the wait!

Continuing to explore places in our own province, we made our way to Essex, part of Lake Erie Wine Country and after stopping for lunch and some rosé at Viewpointe Estate Winery, we got checked into our stay for the night….this amazing Wine Barrel!

Floating in Fox Creek, surrounded by lily pads, this red cedar barrel is tied to the shore with a panoramic window perfect for watching the stars at night on one side and views of lush vineyards full of grapes on the other.

The tiki bar was the perfect spot to watch the gorgeous sunset while enjoying a bottle of wine from one of the local wineries.

The barrel runs on solar power, with a whiskey barrel sink and even an outdoor shower right on the little dock. A chemical toilet is located on shore, along with a fire pit and big lounge chairs for enjoying an evening fire. There’s also a rowboat if you want to head out into the creek (easier to do when the water is a bit higher as the lily pads are thick!)

We opted to stay on our little dock and watch the fish swim around below us.

No matter the time, this spot was beautiful!

The bed was cozy and watching the sunrise through the panoramic window was the perfect way to wake up!

Want to spend a night in a wine barrel? Click here to check out the listing on Airbnb.

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Caravan getaway in the swaying cedars

I can easily spend hours going down a rabbit hole on Airbnb looking at listings and planning ‘someday trips.’ One of my favourite features on this site is being able to select ‘Unique Stays,’ which includes listings for treehouses, tiny houses, yurts, castles, lighthouses, houseboats, and more. While searching under this for getaways close to home, I stumbled upon an option to stay in “An Authentic Romani Caravan in Swaying Cedars.” The title immediately grabbed my attention and the colourful photos of the caravan quickly made this a place I definitely wanted to check out.

The caravan is located on an 18-acre farm near Orono, Ontario. We were greeted by the couple who owns the property and got checked into our stay.

The colourful caravan is located amongst the cedar trees with a screened-in parlour next door. A fire pit is situated between the two and an outhouse with a chemical toilet is located nearby. There’s no electricity, but the caravan does have solar power for lights and an indoor washbasin.

The space was magical—so quiet and peaceful, with only the sound of the wind rustling through the forest of cedar trees. It was almost like stepping back in time as we sipped our coffee and read, enjoying the quiet.

In the evening, we made a fire and roasted marshmallows, which were set up by the owners for us to enjoy.

The stay comes with a delicious breakfast served on the back porch of the farmhouse. There are also trails cut around the property to wander, an orchard, gardens, a pet cemetery, and a pond with turtles to explore.

Definitely a perfect spot for a romantic little getaway!

Want to check it out yourself? You can find the Airbnb listing here

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Sunny Sunflower Strolls

Sunflower farms seem to be popping up all over the place lately and I am here for it! As a sucker for a giant sunflower patch (especially if it has fun photo stations), I recently checked another local one off my list.


The Sunflower Experience at Pingle’s Farm Market near Oshawa has over 100,000 blooms in their 6.5-acre sunflower field!

Here, you’ll find classic yellow sunflowers, but also giants over 10 feet tall, small dwarf teddies, beautiful red and yellow-hued ‘Ring of Fire’ sunflowers, crimson-coloured ones, and some so dark they almost look black!

Trails are cut throughout the sunflowers and there are 12 photo stops along the way, including a swing!

They also have a stand in the middle of the field with clippers, mason jars, and buckets. Your entrance ticket comes with one pick-your-own sunflower, but you can pay for more here as you pick up your clippers to go hunting for the perfect sunflowers to bring home.


When you’re ready for a break, you can head up to the food and entertainment area where you’ll find tasty treats like chicken and waffles and top off your day with a delicious jumbo macaron ice cream sandwich (it’s delicious…seriously don’t miss this!) while listening to live music.

Such a sunny way to spend a beautiful summer day!

For more info and to book tickets check out Pingle’s Farm Market

The Sunflower Experience only runs for select dates in August. However the farm has a variety of events going on year round.

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Flightless FA

It’s now been a year, 365 days since I last stepped onto an airplane. 365 days since I did my last rescue flight bringing Canadians home as the first Covid-19 lockdown began. 

365 days as a flight attendant who hasn’t flown. 365 days as a traveller who hasn’t travelled.

Photo on my last rescue flight bringing Canadians home- March 2020

This has been the longest I haven’t been on a plane or out of the country in almost two decades. For someone whose identity is wrapped up in travel both as my occupation and my lifestyle, watching new restrictions on travel continue to be added and enforced without a solid plan to rebuild, and feeling trapped in a seemingly endless pandemic have made these past 365 days the longest of my life. 

Sure, there have been some great parts, like lots of extra time to read and be crafty, starting to paint and finding out I really enjoy it, spending more time in the garden, and going for walks, but I miss my old life. The life that required me to wear something other than leggings and a hoodie. The one where I could visit in large groups and go to the theatre. The life where I used my passport on an almost weekly basis. The life where I could escape winter and enjoy the Caribbean sunshine even if only for a limited time. The life where I could actually go on trips, and not just sit at my computer planning ones to go on ‘someday.’

This past week has been hard. Hard to keep trying to be optimistic and find the good things about this past year to keep my mind from sinking into the bad. “Covid Fatigue” has me just wanting to pull the covers back over my head and stay there until this is over. I find myself wondering how a whole year has already gone by. A year since the first lockdowns were announced. A year without big family gatherings or nights out with friends. A year since our wedding was cancelled (two weeks before leaving), and now, today, a year since my last flight. I find myself being easily irritated and sad and tired, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

This year has been hard. This week has been hard. So let’s keep that in mind and be kind to both ourselves and others as we continue to make our way through this seemingly never-ending pandemic.

On a bright note…spring is officially here again, and if nothing else, at least it means warm sunny days are ahead!

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A very memorable Valentine’s Day

On this sunny, snowy Valentine’s Day morning, I woke to a beautiful bouquet of roses from my love and we baked a chocolate heart shaped cake to enjoy for dinner. As we are still on a Covid-19 lockdown here in Ontario, it’s a quiet February 14th at home with no dinner out or movie to attend.

As I scroll through my Facebook Memories, I’m soon reminded of a Valentine’s Day that was anything but a quiet day at home. In fact, I’m not sure that any Valentine’s Day will ever top the one I had in 2008, while I was living in Kenya. A day that included singing, Valentine date requests and a slaughterhouse. Of all the travel stories I enjoy telling and re-telling, this is definitely one of my favourites!

A Kenyan Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

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An ‘Extra Ordinary’ Birthday

For over a decade now, most years on January 12th, I find myself in a different country, celebrating (and sometimes stressing) about turning another year older by doing one of my favourite things: travelling.

This trend began on my 24th birthday when, much to my mother’s tearful chagrin, I boarded a plane to Kenya, which was in the midst of its post-election violence, to volunteer for several months at a school and children’s home. My 25th was much more subdued as I made my way to New York City, one of my favourite cities in the world, to spend my birthday skating at Rockefeller Center and watching Broadway shows. My 30th birthday was spent in Vegas with bright lights, penny slots and a trip to the Grand Canyon, with many other birthdays being celebrated on the beaches of Mexico, Jamaica and Bahamas.

There has been the odd year where, due to work schedules or injury, I’ve found myself in the country on January 12th. For the most part, though, those years still ended up with at least a little getaway to someplace like Blue Mountain or Windsor to check out breweries or watch Cirque du Soleil shows.

That is, until this year, when I find myself at home in the midst of another Covid-19 lockdown in Ontario.

Birthdays tend to bring out the anxiety in me. Normally not an anxious person, I often spend the time leading up to the big day wavering between being stressed by it and wanting to celebrate it for the entire month of January. I used to think I was just afraid of getting older, but have come to realize that gaining another year has never been the issue. Rather, it’s the feeling that with each year, I’m running out of time to check off all the hopes, dreams, plans and wishes I have for my life—a feeling I come by honestly, as my dad recently said he calculated that he would need to live to over 200 to finish all the projects he’s put down on his multiple “to-do” lists.

These past 10.5 months of being at home, off work and unable to travel have only added to the feeling this year. This past week, it’s been a struggle to force myself out of bed in the morning and do something with my day, as reminders pop up on my Facebook and Instagram memories of where I was heading off to celebrate my birthday in past years (with many more of those memories flooding in today).

My day didn’t start with a buffet and breakfast mimosa’s. Instead it was a slow start, with a cup of coffee with Forty Creek Nanaimo Bar cream and bacon and eggs made by my finance. Curled up on the couch reading my new Dolly Parton book, instead of taking my book to the beach. A lazy day filled with homemade lasagna made by my Mom and an ice cream cake (is it even a birthday if you don’t have one of those?? I don’t think so!)

Texts, messages and calls from friends and family and homemade cards and cupcakes delivered from some of my favourite little people (and their moms).

It was definitely a different kind of birthday for me, but still a good one filled with special little moments.

I fall victim to wanting my birthday to be extraordinary each year. A celebration of another year of great memories of travel and experiences with family and friends and the kick-start of the next year and what I’m going to be able to see, do, try and accomplish just beginning. If this past year taught me anything, it’s that the universe has a way of upending even the best laid plans. Sometimes years that were supposed to be big, important years filled with weddings and travel can end up being a year filled with gardening, crafts and baking, and that while I can’t wait to get back to celebrating my birthdays abroad…occasionally having a birthday that’s not extraordinary but merely ‘extra ordinary’ might just be okay.

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The Seashell Tree

My travels this year have looked very different—mainly just around my house. As both a travel addict and a flight attendant, being home for this long has been very strange for me, and while I’ve got lots of cleaning and reading done, one of my main outlets has been crafting.

I’ve always been a creative person, and while I usually lean towards music and drama, this year has allowed me to really spend some time exploring my visual arts side by painting, crocheting and using my Cricut on an almost daily basis. At this rate, I’m going to come out of Covid-19 with a craft emporium in my house!

Now that we are into December and Christmas is just around the corner, my latest craft helped me bring some travel memories and the illusion of being at the beach into my home in Canada, where outside there is now over a foot of snow.

I’ve been collecting a few shells from all the beaches I’ve been to around the world, and now have quite a large collection. I figured maybe I could use them to create some kind of beachy Christmas tree, so the Sparkling Seashell Tree was born!

Materials:

  • Hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Styrofoam floral cone (I got mine at Michael’s)
  • Seashells- variety of sizes, shapes, colours
  • Something for your tree topper. (I used a resin starfish I had ordered from Amazon)
  • Turquoise glitter paint

I glued the shells on starting with the larger ones and then filling in gaps with the smaller shells. I chose to use mainly white shells to cover the green floral cone and then filled in the gaps with a mix of small, colourful shells and uniquely shaped shells to give the tree some colour and make it look like ornaments. This part took far longer than I thought it would…although this could also be because I was watching Hallmark Christmas movies as I was crafting and kept getting distracted!

For years now, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing where I got each shell on the back (using the airport codes for the tiny shells), so it was fun to look at them and reminisce about my travels as I was gluing them on. I found shells from Costa Rica, Panama, various places around Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Antigua, St. Lucia, Kenya, Portugal, Florida and more.

Once they were all attached, I painted two of my turquoise resin starfish with glitter paint, glued them together and placed them at the top of the tree. Then I finished it off by adding some turquoise glitter paint to some of the white shells spaced out around the tree to add a bit of sparkle.

And voilà! — I had a beautiful Seashell Tree to add a little warmth to this 2020 holiday season! 

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Candy-Coloured Sunsets

There’s really no better sight then a colourful sunset over a still body of water. I’m obsessed with sunsets in general, but there’s something magical about the mirror image reflected back off the water, like this one I took last week on the South Muskoka River. Magic Hour at it’s finest!

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Pumpkins After Dark

Halloween is my favourite time of year. I love the costumes, the decorations, the pumpkin carving and the Halloween parties, and I especially love travelling to check out Halloween places and events.

A couple of my favourites have been exploring Salem and learning about the witch trials (and seeing all the Hocus Pocus filming sites!) and dressing up to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World. But unfortunately with Covid-19 still happening, this year I won’t be checking a new item off my Halloween travel list or attending any big Halloween parties. So instead, I checked out a Halloween event much closer to home that I haven’t made it to before: Pumpkins After Dark at Country Heritage Park in Milton, ON.

This year, in order to keep everyone safe and distanced, the event was a 2.5km drive-thru experience. Along the dark, winding trail there are over 150 pumpkin sculptures made from 7000-7500 carved pumpkins all lit up.

The sculptures included superheroes, Disney characters, classic Halloween villains, a variety of animals and much more.

What an incredible sight! Although you couldn’t get too close to the pumpkins or stop at any point along the trail, the detail found in the sculptures was amazing.

I can only imagine how cool they would look up close (and how much better my photos would be if I wasn’t hanging out of a moving car window trying to take them!!).

It took about 45 minutes to drive through the park, including through a tunnel of spooky pumpkins.

With the creepy music playing and the thousands of pumpkins lighting up the dark, cloudy sky, I definitely left feeling more in the Halloween spirit!

For more information (and for way better photos) visit https://pumpkinsafterdark.com/.

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