My Sweet Marie

Here’s a little treat for you to make! It is delicious but not WW friendly! You’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • dark chocolate chips 1 bag
  • gluten-free pretzels 1 bag
  • caramel chips
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  2. Melt your chocolate chips in the microwave. Pour 3/4 of them over the parchment paper’d tray. Spread out thinly.
  3. Lay the pretzels over that, I like the curly pretzels but sticks work too.
  4. Now melt your caramel chips or caramels, either will work. Pour that over all the pretzels in a drizzly wiggly way till it’s all gone!
  5. Now drizzle the rest of the chocolate over that, in a zig zaggy way!
  6. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt over it all and then chill for a couple of hours.
  7. Once hard in the fridge, break into bark and nibble away!

 

 

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From North Sydney to Quebec City it was about a 12 hour ride!  To make it just a tad longer, we were staying downtown and who knew it was the Summer festival! Almost all roads leading to our hotel were closed! It was insane, people everywhere! We finally arrived and checked into our hotel, Manoir de la Terrace. It’s a lovely little hotel with small rooms, nothing fancy but location was great.

Now, I should backtrack and tell you that the week before we left for our journey, I was talking with Anita, a good friend and she said her and Tom would be in Quebec the same time we were! They actually were there the whole week.  So once we arrived, we texted them and let them know we’re in town but exhausted and stinky! We needed sleep and a shower!

So the next day we started fresh, and headed out to see the sites! We saw Chateau Frontenac, the Citadelle, and just seeing the downtown is amazing. We caught up with Anita and Tom and they took us for a tour of the old part of town and we went to this bar where you sit in a shallow pool to have your drinks. So you’re in a chair but your feet are dangling in cool, refreshing water! Truly the drinks tasted better! We had a lovely Sangria punch, so good!  We walked through the festival, caught a bit of music, went out for crepes, what else can one ask of life? How lucky to be on holiday and meet with good friends! The next morning we had breakfast with them and then we toured just a little bit more then headed back on the road! Montreal here we come!

Montreal was to be our last stop and we have only 2 nights here. We arrived in Montreal and I called Murielle, a friend that we had met in Playa Del Carmen on our winter holiday! She was renting the condo next door and we just clicked. She’s a lovely lady and we had planned to meet up when in Montreal.  So we got no answer so we headed out to dinner. The place we chose, I won’t name it, was beautiful in décor but the service was lacking and the staff are uneducated when it comes to gluten intolerance. The server told me my dish was gluten-free and it wasn’t. I was sick all night. It was a jambalaya and it was delicious…I should’ve known then!

Anyhow, we woke up fresh the next day and Murielle phoned and we set up a meet time. She took us to the botanical gardens which we loved! They were absolutely stunning! We could have spent an entire day there but we only had a couple of hours there and then headed to the Musee Des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Museum). There was an expo on there that she thought we’d like, she was right on! It was called Revolution. I can only say it was incredible, you must see it wherever it is now!  When we walked in, they gave us headsets, and as you walked around this huge exhibition, the music would change according to where you were standing, it fit the art, the display, the photos, whatever you were standing in front us. Mind boggling!  The music was all from the sixties, so think Beatles, Rolling Stones, Clapton, Janice Joplin, all of it. We were there for a few hours, in fact they had to kick us out!

From there we walked around downtown, the Just For Laughs was on as well so there were a lot of people floating about! We checked out all that and then we headed out to dinner in this restaurant called ‘Les Enfants Terrible”, which translates to the bratty kids, not sure where the name comes from, I think it was named after a novel.

The food was amazing, they went through hoops to make my meal gluten and dairy free which was really appreciated.  Denis had the fish and chips as Murielle had recommended it and he loved it. It’s a pricey place but the view at night is just so cool. We got to take some pics and check out the city from such a high vantage point, very cool indeed. I would recommend this restaurant for sure.

After our long walk back to the car, we did 24,000 steps that day, Murielle took us back to our B&B and we said our good-byes! She took us on such an adventure that day, truly we are blessed to have these people in our life. We will see her in Playa again this year, although we are staying in different places this year.

The next morning, at breakfast at our B&B Gite Dezery, we had another scrumptious breakfast and we shared many stories. Giles was one our favourites for this trip! He was funny, helpful and so gracious. He went out of his way for my dietary needs and I never felt like a burden!  So we said our good-byes with Giles and headed home!

Overall,, this trip was a dream come true for both Denis and I. We saw so many things and checked off many of our bucket list wishes. If you have a bucket list, get going and do the things you dream about, if you don’t, may I ask why not?

Love to you all,

Sweet Marie

I’m so sorry for taking so long to continue our Canada 150 tour this summer! No excuses, life is crazy sometimes!

So after leaving Dave and Janice’s and feeling a bit melancholic to leave their place, we headed towards Cabot Trail.  We meandered and took some lesser driven highways as we didn’t need to be in North Sydney till 11’sh that evening to catch the ferry.  We thought we had so much time that we enjoyed the scenic route!

Well let me tell you that the Cabot Trail requires more time than we had that day! I would recommend staying in the area for a few days and really taking the time to see it all. The views are astounding! I was amazed at the mountains and that perilous drive up to it! I was terrified for most of the drive! We enjoyed a lobster roll along the way ( I had my own gluten-free bread) and just stopped when we felt like it. You will find many little shops along the way.

We arrived at Highlands National Park only to have a picnic and need to drive to North Sydney. It was poor planning on our part for certain.  We enjoyed our picnic, took in the fresh air and the view and hopped back in the car to head to the ferry.

We arrived in North Sydney in time for a late dinner. We found a little restaurant with many cars out front, we took our chances and were so glad we did! The food was amazing! We made our way towards the ferry and stopped in the Tim’s parking lot to change into comfy clothes! It was to be a long night on the ferry and we were ready for it!

When we got to the boarding dock for the ferry I was astonished at the amount of cars and trucks, and when I say trucks, I mean semis! I mean hundreds of vehicles, maybe thousands! I sent a text to both girls and said “If we don’t make out of here alive, here’s where you go to find our wills!” I seriously thought we’d sink the thing! One daughter texted back with a LOL and the other was horrified! So funny how they are different.

Once boarded on the ferry, we found our seats/beds for the night. I should warn you, if you’re planning a trip to Newfoundland in the next year, book your ferry now! We booked in April for July and all the berths were taken! We got the ‘fancier’ seats and I use that term lightly here, they reclined at least. I took 2 Gravol pills and said good night to Denis, and like that I was out! Apparently he tossed and turned all night, it is an 8 hour ferry. He said every man, woman and child was snoring! I didn’t hear a thing, seriously, gravols are great.

Once off the ferry, we headed to Hwy#1, the Trans Canada Hwy. Let me tell you a little unknown secret about Newfoundland, there is one road, that’s not a joke, for real, only 1 highway.  You get on it, and it goes all around the island, so even though you are heading west, it says heading Hwy#1 East and that is because eventually you are heading East! This took us a bit to catch on!! UGH really.

So we finally get to Brian’s place at 8:30 in the morning and sit and visit over tea! He took us for a tour of his place, he has an older farmhouse on a huge property. So we toured all his buildings and the property. I was amazed at the view, he lives right on the St. Lawrence so he gets to see whales, seal, all kinds of wildlife on a regular basis. I guess we missed a moose just the night before that trekked right through his property! The sunsets were breathtaking!

We only had a few days in Newfoundland, also poor planning! Take at least a week if you’re going here, 3 days is not even close to enough time! We spent our first day with Brian, he took us for a ride in the area and we met some locals who own a B&B, and that was great. He had a whale carcass on his front yard, all laid out and told us the sordid story to it! They are storytellers these folk, I loved it! That night Brian made us a cod dinner, fresh from the water by the way. It was lip smacking good!

The following day we headed to Gros Morne National Park. It was a 2 hour ride to the park entrance, then you could drive for several more hours in the park! There  are several hiking trails and we did three trails. But there is so much to do here. There are beaches, trails, cycling, museums, kayaking, fishing, swimming, mountain climbing, boating, kite surfing, bird or  whale watching, not to mention all the winter activities! The panoramic views from some of the trails were simply beautiful and reminded me how lucky I am to call myself Canadian!

On our way to Brian’s, we stopped at a fishery and got more fish and while we were there we got some scallops and a few other goodies to whip up a thank you dinner for Brian. He was most gracious and let me take over the kitchen! We had yet another, delicious fish dinner and headed out for one last sunset at their place!

The next morning Brian took us for a local tour, showing us the rivers, the coast and some historical buildings in his area. It’s always great when travelling to tour with a local. You get all the folklore and facts in one fell swoop! I felt a bit like we were off-roading as some of these backs roads are not maintained one bit!  We went back to his place for a quick lunch then we hit the road. He gave us some ideas of little coves to visit before heading back on the ferry that night.

That evening we had dinner right in Port-aux-Basques where we’d catch the ferry back to North Sydney, N.S. . We had dinner at the Harbour Restaurant. It was good local fare. After dinner, we walked the boardwalk and took in a little market on the dock. We went to this one shop where they ladies inducted us as ‘Newfies”! We had to drink Screech, eat bologna, kiss the cod and wear the yellow rain gear! They snapped our photo and we had a good giggle over it! We headed to the car, only to find it had been bumped and our bumper was dented! UGH…just what you want on holiday! We reported it but there were no cameras in the area, so we decided not to let it ruin our holiday. Onward.

Back on the ferry with all the semis and cars, seriously this scares me! Gravol will fix that, hopefully it doesn’t sink cause I won’t be swimming! Maybe that’s why Denis wouldn’t take it!

Jump to 8 hours later and we are on the road to Quebec!  To be continued…

Being  a Canadian for all of my 55 years, people find it hard to believe I’ve never been on the East Coast! Well, I can now say that I have done the East coast! Denis and I recently toured the East Coast while on our summer vacation! We decided to do this by car to take advantage of all the beautiful sights along the way! I will share with you some of our itinerary, some cute stories and some not so cute ones!

We started our trip ironically on the American East Coast. We headed from home, London, Ontario to Portland, Maine! According to Google maps it’d be a 12 hour drive. We wanted to put a long day in the first day and get to the coast, we had no idea what we were in for! We set the GPS and away we went. It was a brand new GPS so we thought, what could go wrong? So silly.

Well that 12 hour trip turned into 17 hours as what we didn’t do with that new GPS is make sure the settings were to our liking! It had been set by someone to avoid all toll highways which meant we took the scenic route there. The upside was, we took the scenic route and what sights we say! Truly we laugh about it now, but let’s just say, in spite of the A/C being on, it got a little heated in that Honda that day!

We stopped along the way in a beautiful park to have our planned picnic lunch, took a few minutes to just chill and breathe in the beauty. We had a cooler in the trunk filled with delicious fruit, veggies, cheese, kubi, salad etc. This saves time and money, and it keeps your healthy eating habits on track! We had a dry bin as well loaded with crackers, nuts, seeds, cereal, snacks of all shape and size!

Day#2 was much better, we only had a short time in Portland so we headed to our favourite place….the beach! First though, we stopped at Holy Donuts, a bakery that our nieces, Natalie and Laura, told us about, so glad they did! If you’re ever in Portland, do make the effort to find them, they have gluten-free donuts as well! So we headed to the beach and I am happy to report, it is as beautiful as they all say!  We spent a few hours on the beach, walking and taking in the sunshine and breeze. We walked their boardwalk, stopped and did a bit of shopping, picked up a fidget spinner for Evy that somehow didn’t have one yet and then hopped in the car and headed to our next destination!

We wanted to be in St.John, New Brunswick for Canada Day. There were many festivities planned and we wanted to be a part of that! Unfortunately, it was raining when we got there and though some activities carried on, the fireworks were put off till the next night. Not a problem we thought, we’re here one more night. We stayed at the Homeport Inn.  It has a view of the Bay of Fundy, was built in 1855 so lots of history in one of Canada’s oldest cities. The breakfasts were superb! They were great about my food sensitivities, had special things for me and they were very friendly!

One of my favourite things about this B&B was at breakfast one morning, we shared our table with an American Mom, her daughter and her grand-daughter. The Grand-daughter was 14 and her favourite thing about Canada was our scratch and sniff money! She said if you scratched it, it smelled of maple syrup! Denis and I both got great enjoyment out that innocent comment! She had so many questions, a genuine interest in our history so the time passed quickly.  Denis, bless his heart, showed her the Canadian coins, the loonie and toonie and then shared their stories with her. He then gave her one of each as a souvenir and you’d think he gave her gold. I loved that.

In Saint-John’s, we saw the Reversing Falls, at all stages of the tide, we went on a Bay of Fundy Parkway tour, got to see it at low tide which was very cool. We also did a walking tour of the downtown, it’s a self-guided tour so was done at your own pace, and we stopped and saw the old buildings we wanted to see and we also toured the New Brunswick Museum. It was a jam-packed couple of days but we had fun with it! We never did get fireworks as on the second night, there was so much fog they couldn’t do the demonstration! Apparently Saint-John’s is known for their fog, who knew?

On day#4 we headed to Charlottetown PEI! We crossed the 12.9 kilometer( 8 miles) Confederation bridge and headed straight for the beach! Another afternoon of sun, sand and breezes! The beach is a red sand as are the stones along the beach. It really is quite incredible to see firsthand.  On the island we did the lighthouse tour, which simply put is driving along the coast and yelling stop every time you see a lighthouse! There is an actual map with them all but what fun is that? They are beautiful and I got to see several, some from a distance but still, I saw them! One of my musts for PEI was to have French fries, as Cavendish has a huge plant there and they grow all their potatoes on the island, so it seemed like the perfect excuse to have fries, non? We did not go to Anne of Green Gables as it’s not my thing but you have at it, when you all go next! Let me know how it is!

On Day#5 we headed to Halifax. We were both excited as we’d finally get to see Dave and Jan, friends that we’ve known for 35 years but haven’t seen in 25! We planned to stay at the Best Western as we weren’t about to impose ourselves on these friends but after one night at the hotel, we packed up and stayed with them after all. They were most gracious and shared their beautiful home with us along with some pretty delicious meals!  We got to see Stephanie, their grown daughter, who we hadn’t seen since she was just a toddler. Wow, she sure grew up fast! They were great at directing us to the sites, where to go and what to skip! Truly their help was invaluable!

We spent one day downtown Halifax doing the Maritime museum which has the Titanic display along with all the other history of the city. There was a huge display on the explosion in Halifax in 1917, it was a maritime disaster where over 2,000 people were killed by the largest human-made explosion in the world (at the time). I had never known about it, or if I did, I forgot. It was a very well done exposition with so many facts, I could have spent the day just doing that.  There was a ship to be discovered as well and yes, I had to do the Titanic pose much to my hubby’s dismay!

That same day we shopped the market that is on the waterfront boardwalk, which we walked as well. We also got to see the cannons go off at noon at the Citadel! It’s fun to watch people down below who aren’t expecting it…lot of jumping going on! We then lunched right next door to the Alexander Keith’s Brewery but did not do the tour, maybe another time!

The next day we did the Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay tour. Dave directed us to which roads to take and off we went! The trick is to get there early, by lunch time the place is hopping with people and busloads of tourists! Peggy’s Cove took my breath away! I was overwhelmed by it’s beauty and it didn’t help that there was a bagpiper in the background! I had brought Mom’s ashes with me and I left a few of her ashes as I think she’d really like it there! It was quiet in spite of the number of people, beautiful and serene.

In Peggy’s Cove there was a little bakery advertising fresh lobster rolls on their fresh baked buns. This being on our trip bucket list, I pulled out one of my gluten-free buns and asked if they’d make me a lobster roll on my bun and they gladly did! We sat looking out at Peggy’s Cove eating our lobster roll, absolutely content with the world.

Mahone Bay and Lunenburg were equally as beautiful, scenic places to visit. In Mahone Bay the scenery was to die for, the water, the sail boats, the town with eclectic shops, boutiques and cafes. It was all very lovely.

Lunenburg is known for it’s colorful buildings, it’s waterfront and it’s historical churches. We tried to see it all but truly we need to go back and spend a few days or a week there!

Our last night at Dave and Janice’s was a fun night which started with dinner of bacon wrapped scallops, ribs, potatoes, corn, salad, cake and on and on! There may have been some wine consumption and even cigar smoking with the guys in their gazebo but one thing that did happen is we reconnected with old friends and for that, this trip was worth every kilometer we drove to get there!

More to come….stay tuned!

Happy trails to you,

Sweet Marie

 

So have you been out to the London Fringe yet? Seriously, why not? It is fun, cheap and so accessible! Here in London, we have 8 venues, each with several shows a day! You can stay at one venue and hit 3 shows in 4 hours! Seriously…sooo much fun!

So far we have seen “I sound like Mom“, which was very good. If you’re a MOm or a daughter, you will relate and surely laugh!

We have seen “Hotter than Potter“, our local Keith Brown doing magic tricks that will astound you and leave you scratching your head thinking, what just happened? A must see, good for all ages!

Last night we saw “James and Jamesy” a comedy in the dark! It took me a few minutes to catch on, but not to worry, the laughs that come once you do get it, are well worth it!

Finally, my favourite so far by a long shot is “Woody Sed“. This is a show about Woody Guthrie,  a true story that will grip you right from the start. His songs, his stories, the sad tales, all of it will keep you captivated! Thomas Jones is brilliant, his singing exceptional and his timing, excellent. There is audience participation as well, which just adds to the fun! If you can see only one show, I’d say, see this one!

Gotta run, I have several shows to see! Now, call the sitter and go! For more info, go to http://www.londonfringe.ca

Sweet Fringing,

Sweet Marie

Have you ever been so excited about something that you just count the sleeps? Well, it’s 6 sleeps till the London Fringe Festival starts! My husband and I have been audience members many times over the years but this year, we are billeting. That means we’ll be having an actor stay with us for the duration of the festival. We look forward to the experience and this year, we will get to see many of the shows! Last year, I only got to one show as my Mom was very ill and that kept me very pre-occupied.

“The London Fringe Theatre Festival is dedicated to the promotion, production, and prosperity of independent artists. We create a unique and inclusive environment where the arts will be enjoyed in the present and developed for the future.” They give unrestrained creative freedom to participants, they provide artists with audiences, artists from the community and from outside the community as well, from all over Canada and from around the world! The Fringe provides technical, promotional support and even educational opportunities. To see more about the festival, please go to http://www.londonfringe.ca

Our billeter is Thomas Jones and his show is called Woody Sed ! His show is a new play about the life and times of Woody Guthrie and the songs he sang about them. This play was born out of the sheer astonishment he experienced learning about Woody’s life and the relevance he saw in his work and his story to the world we live in today. Woody Sed is loaded with songs both well known and obscure and each song is framed a theatrical context.   You can see more about his show on his website http://www.woodysed.com or look him up on Facebook.

Please join me in first welcoming all the out-of-town performers to London, and secondly spreading the word about the festival. It’s going to be fun and sure to put a smile on your face! Please join me at one or ten of the shows, I would love it! There are comedians, magicians, singers, actors of all genres! Truly it’s a wonder!

So if you’re trying to reach me in the next two weeks, you might as well look me up at the Fringe, that’s where I’ll be!

Cheers!

Sweet Marie

 

Spring has sprung and the rhubarb is in full season! Yipee!! I love me a crisp as it’s healthier than pie, tasty and if done right, gluten-free! so have at it folks, make one today for the ones you love!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, washed and diced
  • 2 cups strawberries, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. tapioca flour/starch

For the crumble:

  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4-1/2 cup nuts of choice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease aa 8×8 pan or your 10″ cast iron pan with coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the top 7 ingredients. Stir to combine well. Pour into your pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the topping ingredients till crumbly.  Pour over top the fruit in pan.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes till golden and bubbling. Serve with whipped cream or coconut cream for the non-dairy folks!