Here's what's making August a happy month for me.
It's a bee barn!
How cute is this wee wooden barn? Outfitted with drilled wood and bamboo tubes, it's perfect for bees in need of short term accommodations. I absolutely feel in love with it when I saw it!
We found our bee barn at Coyle's Country Store near Tillsonburg, Ontario but crafty readers can likely make their own with scrap wood and bamboo. To give the bees extra encouragement to use it, we placed it low on our fence, at flower level, where the bees are likely to linger. Next up for us: I want to get a Toad Abode, since we had a toad sighting in our garden just last week!
Puzzles and games
So I know what you're thinking. That Ryan and I are the wildest human beings in the world, every day a never ending series of adventures - right? Ha! Okay, Ryan is wilder than me but we're really a rather tame team. And our latest hobby fits right in with that - puzzles!!! Yep, 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. Turns out, they are the perfect combination of being utterly relaxing and entirely frustrating. I never knew I could love and hate elephants so much!
While puzzles might be new for us, they fit in quite nicely with an older hobby of ours, which is playing board games. And we finally found someone more obsessed than us! Meet the absolutely awesome Cathy, proprietor of Patina's in Ingersoll, Ontario. It's a gorgeous shop, filled with lovely pottery. But we were thrilled to discover their games section - and Cathy was even more excited to show it off. We finally picked up a board game we had been eyeing for a while, Dominion, and we can't wait to test it out when we go camping.
The down(ward dog) side of public yoga
I am horrible at yoga. Nope, that's not false modesty. I'm awful at it. And despite what everyone days, yoga is DEFINITELY competitive. And I know where I place in this race - dead last. Nevertheless, I'm trying.
The City of Ottawa offers free public yoga every Tuesday in the summer (in conjunction with Rama Lotus yoga studio) and I am going faithfully. Not really improving. But I'm going! Ottawa based travelers will also be interested in knowing that there is also free public yoga every Wednesday on Parliament Hill. I tried it out one day with my friend Sandy from Canadian Blog House - you can read her hilarious account of our antics here.
I absolutely love fresh blueberries and I've been trying to take advantage of their easy availability throughout the summer. It was such a treat to visit Parks Blueberry Farm in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, and see the growing operation for myself first hand. And you better believe I was feasting on the fresh berries, right off the shrub!
Parks incorporates blueberries into many of their food offerings, like the berry meatloaf and coleslaw (above) and makes delicious jams and condiments - I've been adding a spoonful of their classic blueberry jam into my Greek yogurt every day for breakfast. If you're in southern Ontario, it is well worth the short detour to visit their shop and farm. (A big thanks to the C-K Table team for helping with my visit and to Foodland Ontario for their support and the gifts of jam!)
A TV obsession
Jet lag gives birth to new TV obsessions and my new favourite show is Chopped Canada. For those who haven't seen it yet, the premise behind Chopped is that professional chefs have to make appetizers, entrees, and desserts, using the unusual and unorthodox ingredients presented in the mystery basket. One by one, they are eliminated until one champion remains - and I was fortunate to see the first Chopped Canada champion, Stephanie Brewster, give a cooking demonstration. So much fun! And can I just say that the mystery basket ingredients and the judging criteria on Chopped Canada are SO much more stringent than the original American Chopped. Go team Canada!