Tuesday, June 10, 2014

when blogging takes a back seat to good weather...

Hello all!  HOOOO boy, have I been lazy with this blog over the past little bit.  I'm hopeful that doesn't mean my blog is about to find itself hurtling towards a cyberspace black hole (as previous attempts at blogging have) - that this is just a little lull brought on by increasingly good weather, and as such, spending less time in front of a computer, and more time pursuing other interests.  NOT that I've been doing anything TOO off the charts exciting - but I thought just to fill in the gaps between posts that may actually have some useful content, I'd write a little quickie about things I've been up to other than blogging - such as:

Wine touring with friends! :)

Living as I do in Southern Ontario, I'm fortunate to live within a very reasonable distance of Niagara wine country. Back in the day, believe me, that was NOT exactly something to toot your horn about, but over the years, our wine industry has gained HUGE respect the world over - now  "Wine Country Ontario" is not only something to crow about, it's a darn lovely place to visit on a sunny weekend afternoon with girlfriends. A few weekends ago we visited a few favourite wineries for a superb, local, farm-to-table lunch at Vineland Estates (sorry, all photos taken with my iPhone, so not the best quality, but far more convenient than toting around the big Nikon) - does this not look scrumptious?

Superb lunch at Vineland Estates
I promise you, it was as delicious as it looks - and those baby turnips and turnip puree were to die for! YUM. Wish I was back there RIGHT NOW eating this all over again.  But I guess that's what iPhones and food pics are for, right?  As annoying as food pics can be, they do help you recall memories of a fantastic meal....  :)

We all left with a bottle of Vineland's wonderful 2012 Pinot Grigio - a lovely, refreshing, and crisp wine, tinted a subtle shade of pink:

Could we LOOK any happier? :)
After lunch, we visited Featherstone Estate Winery for a tasting - I'm telling you, it may not be the wine country of France, Italy, or even California, but on a gorgeous late spring afternoon, Ontario wine country is still every bit as charming as any wine destination in the world:

The inviting back porch at Featherstone Estate Winery
Lovely, isn't it?  I could have just whiled away the entire afternoon on that bench....

Last but not least, we visited what has to be my absolute favourite winery in the Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley wine region - The Good Earth:

Saved the best for last...
I can't say enough about this winery, which includes an absolutely superb onsite bistro.  There's just something about it that embodies, for me anyway, everything a winery should be - wonderful wines, a restaurant that serves absolutely delectable farm-to-table meals - but at the same time, it doesn't take itself too seriously.  You don't need to be a snooty wine connoisseur to enjoy The Good Earth (but I suppose if you are, there's still a LOT to enjoy here!) The owner, Nicolette, couldn't be a more approachable, down to earth (no pun intended!) hostess - and that's not just because I caught her on a good day - each and EVERY time I've been there, she's been friendly, warm, witty, and welcoming (I suppose one could say who WOULDN'T be with such a job!)  :)

Top it all off with the simple, bucolic beauty of the surroundings, and you've got, in my books, just about the perfect winery.  When the sun is shining in Ontario, I'd gladly enjoy a wood oven pizza and a glass of Betty's Blend or Sauv Blanc under the vine covered trellises on the Good Earth's outdoor patio any day - who needs to travel to Tuscany when you've got this in your own backyard?

The view from our patio table at The Good Earth
Playing chicken with...a chicken! :)

You had me at the outdoor pizza oven...
Holy Fork!!
What I love about Good Earth, is that it's consistent.  You know when you go to a restaurant/destination for the first time, and you're blown away - so much so that you vow to return again soon - but when you do, the experience is 360 degrees different (worse) than your first impression, and you wonder what on earth was so great about it the first time?  Well, hopefully I'm not about to jinx it by writing this, but the Good Earth is exactly the opposite of that.  Although I've only been 3-4 times, each and every visit has left me wanting to come back for more - it's never a disappointment - in fact, it only gets better! Thank you again Gaylene, Tracy, Jessica, and Jill, for a memorable day - with a special shout out to Nichole for being our very patient designated driver! :)

So there's a small window into what I've been doing with my spare time other than blogging - besides this lovely day of wine touring with my girlfriends, Rob and I had a chance a few weeks back to take our first small bike tour of the season, along a portion of the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail:

On the banks of Lake Ontario, near Welland, Ontario - just a few weeks prior, this was covered in snow!
The good news is, you REALLY do never forget how to ride a bike - the bad news is, it's been a LONG winter of being inactive. :(   It's going to take a few bike rides to get up to speed...but still, it was great to get back in the saddle, so to speak! :)

Last but not least, and NOT that I want to make you jealous....but I've also been - wait for it - housecleaning/organizing!!  (I know, you wish you had my life, right?)  Here a few little bedroom/bathroom organizing projects that I'm particularly proud of - both courtesy of Ikea (have I mentioned before how much I LOVE Ikea?):

Note the coffee cup holder for bracelets! 

Both are pretty self-explanatory - and incorporate the use of Ikea's Bygel rail and S-hook system.  It may not be pretty - nor everyone's cup of tea to have a visible wall of necklaces or hair styling appliances - but it sure solved a few organizational problems for me!  

Well, I suppose I've covered a variety of topics in one post in what could easily have been stretched out to two or three posts - but like I say, who knows where my (sparse) free time will take me during these oh so fleeting summer months - so better to get it all out there in one shot when the mood strikes. Oh, I'm sure I'll continue to write now and then through the summer - in fact, I've had a fun post up my sleeve for a while that I hope to publish shortly.  In the meantime, however, may I take this opportunity to wish anyone who is reading this an absolutely wonderful summer - I hope you enjoy it to the fullest with friends and family alike. One of my absolute favourite things to do during the summer is attend outdoor summer concerts (we'll be seeing James Taylor in July, yay!) - so I'll leave you with this - a song that for me, evokes the spirit of the sunny season - "...'cause a little bit of summer makes a lot of history!" :) 

Enjoy, all!! :)

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