In this day and age, everyone I know is busy. Busy with work, busy with family, busy with responsibilities. Mike and I are no different, and have certainly fallen into the busy trap, especially with our home renovation. Every weekend is scheduled with tasks to bring us one step closer to moving in, but it has also brought us closer and closer to burning out. Mike quickly realized that we needed a weekend away to completely recharge, and spend a little time just us two (and Emma, of course). One day he came home, and asked if I had anything planned on a weekend in early November, and I reluctantly said no, and then quickly typed “House Renos” into our shared google calendar for that weekend. I had safely assumed that was what he meant…but I was wrong, and better yet, pleasantly surprised! Mike had contacted this lovely woman, Lucy, who owned a beautiful log cabin in Val-des-Monts, Quebec, only 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa, and had booked us a weekend stay. Once Mike had told me what he actually had planned, I was beyond excited and quickly became obsessed with looking at pictures and reading about the cabin online!
A good Canadian summer is not complete without a visit (or many visits) to the cottage. After a long Ontario winter, there is nothing like enjoying your morning coffee by the river. Watching the water sparkle in the warm sunshine is the best way to start off your day. Mike and I are very lucky to have access to my parents place in the Thousand Islands all year long, but in the summer we like to try and get up there as often as possible. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (or as you may have seen on my instagram) their place is on one of the Thousand Islands with an unreal view of the majestic St. Lawrence River. It is a tiny slice of paradise, and I am busting to get there tonight for our 3rd Annual Cottage Weekend with a huge group of our friends!!! On top of that, it is my 30th birthday on Sunday, so the timing couldn’t have worked out better! We will be boating, wake boarding, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding all weekend long! Mike surprised me with a paddle board of my very own last night, and I am thrilled to give it a go on the St. Lawrence this weekend.
Here are a few pictures from our Annual Cottage Weekend last year!
We’ve been so lucky this summer to have already spent a few weekends at the cottage, as well as a weekend at a rental cottage in Quebec where we were graciously hosted by our good friends (and matchmakers!), Maddy & Paul! It was a beautiful new home with an adorable beach house feel close to Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec. The property was stunning, and it was situated on a very peaceful waterway with a killer view of the hilly Quebec countryside. We had an incredible weekend, and it was nice to be at a different cottage exploring a new area! Although having your own cottage is wonderful, being able to venture into unknown territory makes for a fun adventure 🙂
Here are a few snaps from our weekend at the Quebec rental!
Hope you`re all making the most out of your summer holidays!
My urge to travel only seems to be growing stronger as I get older. The more places I see, the more I want to see. No travel bug is ever cured, in my opinion, it just keeps coming back to bite you, and it’s always stronger than the last time.
As 2015 came to a close, I found myself daydreaming of the places we could see in 2016, and all the places that have already been checked off the long list of must sees so far! In the last few years I have been incredibly lucky, and was able to travel quite a bit. I decided to share some of my past travel memories on the blog, starting with my all time favourite…
Western Canada is and always will be my favourite place on earth. Two summers ago Mike and I planned an incredible adventure hitting up Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Banff, Jasper, and Edmonton…not to mention all the little towns, and villages we passed along the way. In Vancouver, we hiked Cypress and enjoyed a few pints at the top, splurged on a rooftop dinner in Yaletown, strolled along the beach in Kitsilano, and woke up to the glorious mountain view in my amazing friend, Kristina’s, beach front apartment. Kristina is the gorgeous gal I moved out west with a few years back. She is beautiful, smart and driven, and I’ve always been infatuated by her ability to excel in everything she puts her mind to. Kristina is still living the life in Vancouver soaking in that fresh mountain air for me. I miss her everyday, and cannot wait to pay her another visit soon.
After Vancouver, we drove the stunning Sea-to-Sky highway to Squamish, and Whistler where we rode the Gondola and walked the suspension bridge, watched brave kite surfers soar over the open waters, dipped our toes in a few gorgeous rivers and lakes, and picnicked in Whistler Village. We were fortunate enough to stay with my incredible friends, Niki and Dave, their adorable daughter, Callie, and their amazing pup, Audi. Niki is the reason I decided to make the leap and move to Vancouver in the first place. Niki and I met in University where we both worked at The Keg Steakhouse (Kristina worked there too!). After graduating she moved back to BC, and a few years down the road convinced me to make the big move out west. Although I wasn’t in Vancouver long, I will forever be thankful for the way Niki and Dave took me in and treated me like family right away (obviously we coined ourselves the Modern Family because, well, who wouldn’t?!). More importantly, I am beyond grateful for Niki’s enthusiasm and ability to show me British Columbia through her eyes…and on this particular holiday, showing Mike as well. She is an unbelievably inspiring person, and I am so fortunate to be a part of her life. My anxiousness for another Modern Family reunion grows stronger everyday, and it’s only a matter of time before our hikers are packed, and we’re all blazing the trails together again.
Three days in BC, a lot of tears, and too many goodbyes later, Mike and I set out to make the drive to Alberta. This is something we’ve both always wanted to do, and it surpassed our expectations by a landslide. Each passing mountain seemed bigger than the last, and there was not a spare moment during that drive where we weren’t squealing about the view. By the end of our twelve hour car ride, our faces were sore from smiling so much, and we were still beaming with excitement from everything we had witnessed that day. This was also in part due to the fact that on one of our many highway pull overs, along one of the most incredible stretches of mountains and flowing glacier water, Mike got down on one knee and proposed as the sun was setting. It was an incredible day that neither of us will ever forget.
Mike and I camped during our time in Alberta, and it was the most relaxing, nature filled experience. The campsites were surrounded by mountains and wildlife (especially in Jasper!), which completely fulfilled our nature craving nearing the end of the summer. In Banff, we visited Lake Louise and hiked to the Teahouse, strolled along Morraine Lake, ventured to Johnston Canyon, and witnessed the stunning view of Peyto Lake…they were all so beautiful it was hard to believe they were even real.
The same can be said for Jasper. Wild elk came right up to us at the campsite, and the fresh mountain air was truly indescribable. While in Jasper, we toured the Columbia Icefield Glacier and walked about it, hiked through Maligne Gorge, and then slowly made our way to Edmonton where we splurged on a beautiful hotel room for the final night of our vacation. We were lucky enough to close out our vacation swimming in the hotel pool, lounging in the amazing hot tub, and visiting with Mike’s good buddy, Pat, who was working out that way. This holiday was one of the most spectacular I’ve experienced to date, and I can’t wait to visit those mountains again someday soon.
Here are some of our favourite photos from this spectacular holiday!
Thanks for stopping by!
Mike, being from Northern Ontario, is a huge winter fan. He dreams of blizzards all year long, and squeals with excitement when the weather starts to cool. Even the slightest sign of snow fall sets him off, and gets him obsessing about taking his once hibernating skidoo out for the first rip of the season. A typical night in the Sousa household is one where I nod off to the powerful sound of a sled’s braap in a youtube video.
Unfortunately for my sweet snow obsessed husband, this winter, even in the Great White North, was unlike any other. We drove up with little to no signs of fresh powder, leaving poor Mike with a sad realization that his beloved sled wouldn’t even get a chance to leave the trailer we towed 1000 kms from Ottawa. To make matters worse, Ottawa got hit with a whopping 30 cms of snow a few days after we left, and Hearst was still sporting icy trails with grass poking through. My parents, god love them, took this as an opportunity to torment their son-in-law by calling him Wrong Direction… Although my dad has no clue who One Direction is he couldn’t help but chuckle over his son-in-law’s misfortune and my mom’s goofy sense of humour.
Although the sledding conditions were subpar, the trails were just packed enough to enjoy a nice brisk snowshoe! I’ve been able to set out twice so far, and it has been fantastic. Both days were chilly, but not not too cold, and the trails were just snow covered enough to set the perfect, scenic walk in the woods.
Looking forward to another snowy adventure back home soon!
Bye for now!
Ever since Mike and I first met, we have spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day separately. His family lives 10 hours north, so he always started the trek a few days before the holidays and spent a good two to three weeks with them. For the last two years I flew to Timmins, Ontario (side note: for those of you who are unaware, this is the home town of legendary country star, Shania Twain – try not to judge me for my excitement over celebrities and country music), from Ottawa on boxing day, and was happily greeted by my now husband at the airport. From Timmins it was a snowy three hour drive to Hearst, which seems like nothing in comparison to the one lane, ten hour journey to get there from Ottawa.
This year we decided to do things a little differently. His family graciously agreed to celebrate their Christmas on the 26th, so we spent the 24th and 25th at home. It was a typical Christmas celebration with my family, but was all the more special with Mike there. We spent Christmas Eve eating a seafood supper in our pjs, and Christmas Day inhaling a delicious pasta lunch. With full hearts and bellies, we set out for Northern Ontario bright and early on the 26th. Both of us were excited to spend a week with the Sousa’s enjoying the outdoors and family time. Mike’s whole family was ready and waiting for us with a traditional Christmas meal on the table, and a tree full of gifts to open. It was a wonderful three day Christmas filled with family and friends, but I look forward to the day when my in-laws are living in Ottawa and we can celebrate all together…which is hopefully sooner than later!
The rest of our trip will be spent playing card games, snowshoeing, cottaging, and ringing in the new year at the local bar. A week off in Northern Ontario will be just enough time to kick back and relax before the busy winter term at the university starts up, and I am drowning in administrative tasks again.
Here are a few photos from our 2015 Christmas celebrations:
Until next time!
Usually December in Ottawa is freezing, and buried by about 5ft of snow already. This year, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, we are experiencing the strangest winter weather yet! Every day has been mild (about 2-15 degrees Celsius) with a mix of sunshine, cloud and rain. I certainly can’t complain since it’s been easier commuting back and forth to the hospital without piles of snow and ice, BUT I really do love a white Christmas … and that is definitely not happening this year. Needless to say, rain or shine, snow or sleet, Mike and I are big outdoors fans, and we always try to spend the majority of our time off enjoying the fresh air. This past weekend was no exception.
Lucky for us, my boss gives us a free day off every year before the holidays (#bestbossever), and both Mike and I decided Friday would be the day, giving ourselves a nice long weekend. Since the weather has been so mild, and we desperately needed a day of relaxation, we decided to enjoy our awesome wedding gift from Mike’s sister, Kayla. She bought us a gift certificate to a beautiful Nordic spa in Chelsea, Quebec, which you can check it out here! Le Nordik is an incredible oasis nestled in the Gatineau Hills. It boasts gorgeous hot and cold pools, waterfalls, saunas, steam baths, fire pits, and incredible food and wine. With all of that to look forward to, Mike and I took to the road after breakfast, and made our way to the spa which is a short 30 minute drive from home. We spent most of the day there, and it was worth every minute. Between the warm pools and outdoor fireplaces we were in heaven.
Although I was hoping to snap a few photos of the spa in the day light, we ended up getting carried away with our full on relaxing day off and sadly let our photo op fall to the wayside. Fortunately, I was able to grab my phone and grab a few shots on our way out!
After our incredibly chill Friday, and a hospital visit planned for Saturday evening, Mike and I wanted to get a few things done around the house Saturday morning. After tacking some chores, we decided to take the pups (Emma and my parents dog, Bailey) for a long walk before heading downtown to see my grandpa. We were lucky enough to stumble upon some absolutely gorgeous trails about 10 minutes walking distance from our place. A few photos are posted below!
By Sunday, Mike and I were in full on outdoorsy mode after taking advantage of the weather both Friday and Saturday, so we had to close out with a weekend hat trick of outdoor activities. On our very first date, Mike took me to a property he owned in the country to enjoy a bonfire and pizza outside the rustic log cabin he built on his own…you heard correct… he built an entire log cabin with his bare hands! Totally impressive, right?! Although he eventually sold the property along with the log cabin, the new owner allows us to visit the land from time to time, and that is exactly what we did on Sunday afternoon. Along with two of our good friends, we enjoyed some four wheeler rides, and a toasty campfire until the sun was setting and the rain started up.
All in all, we had a fantastic weekend with a lot of fresh air! Hopefully that will tide us over until next weekend!
The countdown to Christmas is officially on! Mike and I are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Ottawa with my family, and then heading north to Hearst, Ontario to be with his side of the family. There we will have a slightly belated Christmas celebration, and we’ll be ringing in the New Year “Hearst Style”, which means heading to the local bar, and dancing our way into 2016… along with the entire population of Hearst.
The great thing about being from a small town is that everyone knows you, which makes things much easier day-to-day. People trust each other, there is a wonderful sense of family within the community, and it takes less than 5 minutes to get anywhere. That being said, being the “new girl” in a small town is not always so fun, as I have previously experienced with the strange and uncomfortable stares. Kind of makes you feel like you’re the misunderstood exhibit at a really intense art show, BUT lucky for me this isn’t my first rodeo, and I am officially stepping down from the “new girl” exhibit and joining the crowds! Woot!
I always look forward to our Christmas trip up north. It’s so relaxing, and is the most picturesque place during the holiday season. Towering trees, snowy trails, cottages, fishing huts and fires. There is truly nothing like it! (Photos to follow upon our return!)
In the meantime, decorating the house, and over indulging in “made for TV” Christmas movies (my biggest guilty pleasure) is on my top priorities list. This weekend I was able to finish decorating our tree, and fireplace mantle. Here are a few photos to hopefully get you in the spirit as well!
Happy decorating friends!
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I'm Jessie, and welcome to Cool, Calm & Cozy!
This space is an outlet for me to connect with my creative side and keep long lasting memories with my family. Writing and making videos of our adventures together is a passion of mine, which I hope brings joy to my whole family presently and in the future!
Hope you enjoy Cool, Calm & Cozy, and thanks for following along!