How’s this for a great idea for family fun? The Cumberland Museum is hosting a drive-in movie this weekend featuring The Wizard of Oz. From the City of Ottawa website:

“The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, outside under the stars is a rare treat indeed! Listen to the movie and marvel at the Academy Award-winning “Over the Rainbow” right through the radio in your car. Plan to take home a souvenir by having your photo taken with Dorothy, learn about the technology that revolutionized film during the 1920s and 30s, and take our trivia quiz to find out how much you really know about the messages in this classic film. And don’t forget: part of the fun is getting your vintage concessions and snacking on them in the car!”

If you go:
The Wizard of Oz at the Drive-In
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Road
Saturday, August 23 from 6:30 pm – 11 pm
Cost: $10/person, free for children under 5.
No memberships or special passes are accepted for this event.

I mentioned earlier this month that the Museum & Heritage department at the City of Ottawa is our newest bloggy sponsor. I love the idea of working with them because they are all about exactly what I love sharing with you – interesting, educational, inexpensive, local and family-friendly. Here’s a little bit about each of the museums:

Billings Estate National Historic Site

Visit the historic estate of one of Ottawa’s founding families and spend the day enjoying one of the special events or programs, exploring the exhibitions with interactive and kid-friendly activities, discovering the beauty of well-preserved parkland, or renting the space for your special event or meeting. If you’re visiting with children, there are two new ways for kids to learn about history while spending time as a family. With activities like scavenger hunts, old-fashioned toys, and word games, Experience Backpacks will take kids indoors and out to better understand what childhood was like for kids long ago. Head over to Sally’s Kitchen for the museum’s take on games like Guess Who? and Clue. Hands-on activities like building the Billings’ first cabin from different materials like Lincoln Logs™ will help your kids connect with the past. These activities are free with regular admission.

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm until October 31. Educational and community group bookings are available any time upon request.

Fairfields Heritage House

An impressive 19th century Gothic Revival farm house, Fairfields Heritage House represents the homestead and community-building legacy of the Bell family. Originally built on 660 acres of farm land, the museum tells the epic story of almost 200 years of rich, local history and the people who so actively helped shape the evolution of the area. Recreated historic rooms of this designated heritage site tell the story of the many generations of the Bell family who made their mark on the home, the property, and their community over the 175 years they lived here. Artefacts – including furniture, personal belongings, and artwork – tell the story of the Bell family’s shifting priorities from farming to social issues to politics. With guided tours, as well as programs and events for families, Fairfields Heritage House remains a hub of community activity.

Hours: Tours are available by appointment Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Nepean Museum

Located in the heart of an active neighbourhood, Nepean Museum is a gathering space for families and the community to come together in celebration of local heritage. Spend time engaging in hands-on activities with professional museum educators. An open, welcoming exhibition space, programs designed to spark the imagination, and a collection of artefacts that tell the stories of Nepean’s evolution all come together to make the museum a place where you can learn about history in the way that most appeals to you.

Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturdays and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Pinhey’s Point Historic Site

If you’ve never seen Pinhey’s Point during the fall season, you’re missing out on something special! The colours along the river on the site and across the river to the Gatineau Hills are breath-taking. Scenic views, historic buildings, stone ruins, and rolling hills come together to create one of the most spectacular places in Ottawa to relax, learn, and explore. Make sure to bring a camera!

Hours: The museum will be closed for drop-in visits as of August 31, though the park remains open year-round.

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Unique in the nation’s capital, Cumberland Heritage Village Museum provides an immersive, fun, and educational experience that showcases rural life in the 1920s and 1930s with dozens of heritage and true-to-the-era reproduction buildings – including a working sawmill and blacksmith forge – heritage breed farm animals until October 6, people in costume, vintage tractor-pulled wagon rides, and so much more.

There’s no need to drive more than 30 minutes beyond downtown Ottawa to step back in time at a historic village! Whether it’s for a casual day trip to escape the daily grind, to take advantage of the open space to relax on the Village Green playing vintage games, or to take part in one of the special events, families with children will never be bored at the museum. With animals from Rare Breeds Canada (Eastern Ontario Chapter), Radio Flyer wagons, go-carts, two larger-than-life board games, wagon rides, sawmill and blacksmithing demonstrations and so much more your family will want to come back again and again to experience everything.

Ottawa Valley Live Steamers and Model Engineers: Not offered anywhere else in Ottawa, the OVLSME miniature railway is a rare treat! Visitors can experience model steam trains and learn about railway operation and history. Weather and circumstances permitting, this experience is available between 11 am and 3 pm usually on alternate Sundays. Confirm that OVLSME are on site by calling ahead at 613-833-3059, ext 221.

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm until October 26 and again from November 29 to December 21, Friday to Sunday from 3 pm to 8 pm. Educational bookings are available Wednesday through Friday. Community group bookings are available by appointment.

That’s a LOT of family fun! Have you been to any of these museums? We’re huge fans of the Cumberland Village Heritage Museum and I’ve been to Pinhey’s Point several times, but there is clearly a lot of exploring left to do here! Through the autumn I’ll be sharing some fun programming that the museums will be offering. Stand by for pumpkin smashing, Edwardian seances, vintage social media, harvest celebrations, culture days and yes, sigh – Christmas activities. ;)

Disclosure: the City of Ottawa is a sponsor of this blog and has provided information about each of the museums. My enthusiasm at having such a great sponsor for the blog is genuine.

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We have long loved the Chapman Mills conservation area. It’s a beautiful little piece of nature tucked in between a busy Barrhaven suburb and the Rideau River. I was worried that the new Strandherd-Armstrong bridge would ruin this peaceful little oasis, but if anything the boardwalk is more lovely than ever.

I loved the tranquility in the original version of this photo, but something about those breeze in those leaves and bullrushes cried out for painterly brush strokes, so I had a little fun in Photoshop. What do you think?

Kayaker at Chapman Mills

I’ll post a few more photos of our wander along the boardwalk and under the bridge later this week. :)

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We were reading Anne of Avonlea the other night when I came across this quote and I had to add it to one of our PEI photos because it was so exquisitely true of our vacation, but also of our whole lives.

Simple little pleasures

Did I mention we’ve already booked for PEI 2015? :)

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Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan a photo session, you have to throw out all your research and ideas and just go with the flow. That was the name of the game yesterday when this big family came together from locations across Canada and overseas for a family portrait. Because there were to be no opportunities for do-overs, we had a plan and a backup plan. And in the way life often works, we ended up forgoing all of that and throwing together a Plan C on the fly to get this portrait while stormy skies threatened a deluge.

Family reunion

Lucky for me, they were a great gang with a fun sense of humour, and this was only one of a series of fun family shots we got. My favourite thing about photography is still meeting new people and learning a little bit about them and their families, and it’s always such an honour to be invited to be a part of days like this. But yeesh, big group portraits are tough. Give me a couple of toddlers to wrangle any day! ;)


Thinking about inking

by DaniGirl on August 12, 2014 · 5 comments

in It IS all about me

I was never particularly interested in getting a tattoo. “Why would you permanently emboss yourself with artwork that you wouldn’t hang on your walls?” was my all-purpose response to the very idea. It’s not that I was morally opposed to tattoos or even disliked the idea. I just couldn’t imagine committing to a single bit of art forever – which may, now that I think about it, be a generalized extension of my inability to commit to framed photographs as well.

However, one day last year it occurred to me pretty much out of the blue that *if* I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be a tattoo of a shooting star. Nay, a tattoo of THREE shooting stars. Now THAT is something I would love for the rest of my life, and something that will still be as meaningful to me in 30 years as it is today.

In a manner completely atypical for a woman who thinks instant gratification is far too long to wait, I have pondered and toyed with the idea for more than a year. Finally, the occasion of my 45th birthday seemed like the right time to finally acquiesce to impulse – even if that impulse was more than a year in the percolating.

Well, I didn’t quite manage to get the tattoo in time for my birthday earlier this month, but I do have an appointment coming up. I could have had it done by now, but apparently it’s recommended that you wait three to four weeks (WEEKS!) before submerging your tattoo in a bath or swimming pool or allowing it to be exposed to sunlight, and that would put a serious crimp in my end-of-summer enjoyment of our pool membership and trips to the beach. Looking at the forecast from now through Labour Day, though, I’m not sure I’ll be missing much pool-worthy weather if I do hold off, so I keep waffling on whether to wait or go ahead.

Funny, though, that in the same way everyone seems to have a white car when you buy a white car, I am seeing a LOT of chatter about tattoos on the web lately. I thought this post was pretty funny: Why You Should Never Ever Get a Tattoo (But Having a Baby is Fine), but it did make me wonder – do people really still think like this? If the 40-something moms I know are getting tatts, how taboo can they be? I figured tattoos these days are about as risqué as double-pierced ears – and yet more than one person has asked me if I’ll be getting the tattoo in a place that will be easily concealed at work. Hell no! If I’m going to bother, I’m going to show that baby off as much as I can! Mind you, I’m not talking about a full sleeve or something that wraps from my neck to my hipbone. At most, it wouldn’t be larger than a post-it note, probably on my ankle but I did seriously contemplate the inside of my wrist for greater visibility.

And no, I’m not sharing my tattoo design just yet. I need to save that for a big bloggy reveal! ;)

Inevitably, since I started talking about getting one, the boys (well, let’s be honest, the middle boy, my teenager in waiting) has asked if he can get one. Ha, I laughed at him. Of course not! Talk to me when you’re 45, babycakes. Although he then changed directions and started talking about an earring, which I am pretty much fine with – but that’s a conversation for another day.

So talk to me about tattoos, bloggy peeps. Are tattoos still risqué when the moms at the schoolyard pickup are sharing tattoo aftercare tips? Or do they still send out a negative impression in your opinion? Are tattoos mainstream, or do they still make people judgy? Do you have one? How and why did you choose your design? Do you have any regrets about having – or not having – one? You won’t talk me into or out of getting one, but I’m fascinated that there are still such divergent opinions out there on this!


We have always loved going to the beach. Some of my best childhood memories are days spent at Grand Bend or Ipperwash or Port Franks with my family, and my Mom still loves to join us for a day at the beach.

Although they’re a far cry from the spectacular beaches of PEI (yes, I’m still pining for them), there’s a lot to love about Ottawa’s river beaches. Our favourite used to be Britannia Beach, but the beach at Baxter Conservation Area may just be my new fave. It’s a small sandy beach on the Rideau River just south of Kars, tucked inside the southern border of the City of Ottawa on the way to Kemptville. The beach has several picnic tables and leafy trees offer a perfect combination of sun and shade.

Granny made sure the boys were well equipped for water fun!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

An act of generosity that may have come back to haunt her…

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Never underestimate a Granny, though – she’s a fierce competitor!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

I watched Tristan creating this intricate world for more than half an hour before it occurred to me that he was simply executing in 3D with sand and water the virtual worlds he has been creating all summer in Minecraft!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

But the very best part of any trip to Baxter Conservation Area in the summer is the Ice Cream Float! This is what happens when you cross an ice cream truck with a boat, and it’s brilliant!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Bruce Deachman wrote a fun feature of Bob Harlow’s Ice Cream Float boat last summer. Harlow just putters about near the beach, serving recreational boaters mid-river and then coming into the shallows every hour or so to serve ice cream to the families on the beach. How brilliant is that for a business model? “I’m just going to float around on my boat all day, scooping ice cream to cover my costs.” No website, no schedule, no obligation… you work when it’s ideal to be out on your boat and go home whenever you feel like it. Hellooooooo retirement plan!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Baxter Conservation Area is a perfect beach for families. Do be aware, though, that although there is a roped-off swim area, there are no lifeguards here. There are no snack bars or concessions other than the ice cream boat. There are clean change rooms, though, and non-flushing toilets.

I used to be a little hesitant about Baxter because I am rather finicky about water quality and always check the water-quality advisory before planning a trip to one of the city’s beaches at Britannia, Mooney’s Bay or Petrie. I didn’t think water quality information was available for the Rideau beaches at Baxter or Rideau Provincial Park, and then yesterday I discovered this AMAZING interactive beach guide: the waterkeeper swim guide. It shows all sorts of local beaches (more than just local, in fact!) and the latest water quality results. While Baxter is only checked bi-weekly instead of daily like the city beaches, it’s nice to see that it has never been closed for poor water quality.

If you get restless with the beach, Baxter Conservation Area also boasts more than five kilometres of trails through wetlands, conifer plantations, mixed forest, alder thickets, nut groves and a solar energy display.

But none of that is as much fun as three waterguns, one Granny, a sandy beach and an ice cream boat! Have you been to Baxter beach? What did you think?

If you go:
Baxter Conservation Area is at 7498 Carter Road, Kars.
Day use admission is $6 per vehicle.
The Ice Cream Float serves up fun after 1 pm most days in summer and weekends through September.

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Chef Michael Smith’s new Family Meals cookbook: a review and giveaway!

8 August 2014 Not completely domestically inept

So I may have mentioned (cough cough) that I’ve become something of a fangirl of Chef Michael Smith lately. But please believe me when I tell you that even if I weren’t already predisposed to great affection for the towering chef from PEI, I would still rate his new Family Meals cookbook as the best [...]

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Ottawa Family Fun: Ten things we loved about the Cumberland Village Heritage Museum

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I‘ve been meaning to get back to the Cumberland Village Heritage Museum for years now. We went way back in the day, maybe four or five years ago, and I remember really liking it, but we just never got around to making the return trek. We actually started heading out there with a picnic last [...]

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Free Ottawa Family Fun: A visit to Rideau Hall

30 July 2014 Ottawa Family Fun

I have been living in Ottawa for more than 25 years and recommending Rideau Hall as a destination and activity for free Ottawa family fun for nearly a decade, so I figured it was high time we actually headed over and checked it out. It was, to be honest, not at all what I expected. [...]

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Weekend project: Re-upholstering the dining room chairs

27 July 2014 Not completely domestically inept

We’ve had our dining room chairs for 15 years now. The summer we got married, we got them from the As-Is bin at Ikea, I know because the words “as is” are still written on the underside of them in indelible sharpie. For the $30 or so we paid for them, they’ve been worth their [...]

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