Great news: I have a most excellent new suggestion for an affordable family activity that involves fresh air, exercise and a fascinating and fun lesson in Ottawa history. Not so great news: the season is over until spring, so you’ll have to wait until next year to try it out for yourself.

As I’ve mentioned, I like to walk along the Rideau Canal at lunch time. Over the summer, a few times I caught sight of a massive canoe being paddled down the Canal. At first, I thought it was some sort of summer camp activity, but then I noticed many of the participants were adults. One time the canoe passed close enough that I noticed the Parks Canada logo on the canoe, and I could hear a narrative being delivered about Colonel John By and how the Canal was built. Intrigued, I googled it and sure enough, it is yet another amazing Parks Canada family activity, one that’s been running all summer in downtown Ottawa practically right under my nose: Voyageur Canoe tours from the Ottawa lock station, right beside the Chateau Laurier.

Voyageur canoe tour

How fun is that? They have one and two hour guided tours, and they provide everything, and it’s less than $10 per person. There’s room for 10 people, plus a Parks Canada guide in the front and back. On our one hour tour, we made it past the Corkstown bridge and just to the big bend in the Canal before the Pretoria Bridge and then back again. Our guides Liam and Molly were awesome: chatty and full of interesting anecdotes about the history of the Canal, and not at all judgmental about our very, um, uncoordinated paddling and the rather incessant grumbling of two brothers locked in a battle of oars wills over personal paddling space.

Voyageur canoe tour on the Rideau Canal

You can paddle as much or little as you like, and with the exception of mild wakes from passing boats, the water is calm and forgiving – considerably less terrifying than our our previous family canoe trip almost 10 years ago. I was sure at the outset that at least one paddle, if not one boy, would end up floating in the Canal at some point, but miraculously we lost neither paddles nor passengers during the tour.

Voyageur canoe tour on the Rideau Canal

This was a really fun family adventure. An hour is the perfect amount of time, and it’s a wonderful way to explore the easy-to-overlook Rideau Canal at the heart of our beautiful city. The boys were tickled to be paddling across the same spot they often skate in the winter, and they actually listened to enough of the history lesson to ask me questions about it after the fact.

Put this one on your to-do list for summer 2016!


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The boardwalk at the Chapman Mills conservation area near Barrhaven has always been one of our favourite places for a wander on a summer day. I have dozens of photos of the boys on the boardwalk going back to when we had Katie and before Lucas was even in the picture, so to speak. When I’m going places that we’ve been many times before, I find taking along a different lens lets me see things in a new light, and yesterday felt like a fish-eye kind of day.

Chapman Mills walk-5

Chapman Mills walk-4

Awesome tree, right? This one and the one below were amazing.

Chapman Mills walk-3

(Sigh, not a toddler any more.)

Chapman Mills walk-2

Chapman Mills walk

That last one is the inverted reflection in the water. I wasn’t actually thinking about cropping it and flipping it like that when I took it, but I liked it after I played with it.

Anybody want to go for portraits down at Chapman Mills? My models were patient enough, but I had way more more ideas than they had patience. Sometimes I wonder what their future selves will think of these childhood family adventures where my camera is like the fourth needy child. To their credit, though, they are generally patient with the obsessive picture-taking. So far. šŸ˜‰


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It always tickles me when the various streams in my life converge and diverge.

A while ago, someone on Facebook made a passing mention of avocado toast. Specifically, avocado mashed with fresh lime juice and sea salt on toast. I’m pretty sure I drooled, and I can tell you for sure that I tried it right away and it rocketed up to one of my favourite breakfast/snack treats. Three of my absolute favourite flavours on crispy, crumbly toast? I may be drooling as I type this.

Then I was tickled a few days ago when I came across this article on The Kitchn: 11 Easy Ways to Fancy Up Your Avocado Toast, where the author waxes nostalgic “for the good old days when avocado toast was something novel, a little breakfast secret to share with friends. Avocado toast these days, well, it’s gone mainstream.” So avocado toast is not only delicious, but trendy? Who knew? (For what it’s worth, I am not overly enamoured by any of the 11 suggestions and will happily stick with the sublimely simple avocado, lime and sea salt.)

Any doubt that avocado toast was a genuine phenomenon was erased when Getty Images put out a request to photographers this week for images of — avocado toast. “Move over cereal! The latest coveted breakfast is avocado on toast!”

Who knew? Well, aside from me. And, erm, everybody.

But heck yes, I will take photos of my avocado toast before I stuff it into my hungry gob.

avocado toast

avocado toast 2

And, the other revelation of the day? Food photography is HARD, y’all.

Funny aside: the other photo themes Getty was soliciting this week were lighthouses and photos of your feet in various places. It’s like they were reading my mind, or at least my blog. I think I uploaded more photos to Getty this week than I have so far in 2015!

So anyway, back to avocado toast: have you tried it? Do you love it? Do you have a fancy variation that needs to be shared? If you’ll excuse me, I still have four avocados and limes calling my name…


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Any weekend with Saturday AND Sunday portraits and wall to wall sunshine is an excellent weekend indeed. Are you ready for another dose of unbelievable cuteness?

How about these guys?

Twin boys on the porch

I know, right? We’ve reached maximum levels of adorableness on the porch. How could it possibly get any cuter than that? And you know what? Mom and Dad and Nana came along for the ride, and weren’t they just the nicest people? These guys made me work for the portraits and I was a hot mess by the time we were done, but it was so worth it.

I hope your weekend was as full of sunshine and smiles and belly laughs as mine was!


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Maybe it’s because I’m a big sister myself, but there is something about this photo that I love – big sister and baby brother in the flower garden. I knew from the moment the shutter clicked that it would be a keeper.

outdoor portrait of children in the flower garden

We had lots of more formal poses with mom and dad and the kids, but it’s these little in-between moments that often end up being my favourites. Sunshine, flowers, cute kids, and friendly people? I can’t think of a better recipe for a lovely Saturday morning.


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How much do you love this little guy’s toothy smile?

School portrait on vintage desk

Isnt’ he cute? Lookit that twinkle in his eye. He came with his folks for family portraits on the porch last week, and since he’ll be starting his very first day at school in September, I thought it would be an excellent time to pull out the vintage school desk I picked up for a song last year. I love that moment when I feel like I’ve connected with a shy subject and their personality shines out.

I’m happy to incorporate back to school poses as part of my porch portrait sessions this autumn. I’ve got stacks of vintage books and a few fresh apples to complete the look! Spots always book up quickly in the autumn (whimper – summer, I hardly knew ya!) so please do get in touch soon if you’d like to book your family’s portraits.


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Photo(s) of the day: Instagram walks in downtown Ottawa

20 August 2015 Photo of the Day

I have been trying to get out and walk on my lunch hour as much as possible, or, on the recent days when it has been stupidly hot, early in the morning. I keep meaning to bring my camera, but my iPhone and Instagram seem to be filling the niche. And then when I get […]

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Photos of the day: The secret sunflower dilemma (with a bonus conversation with the Universe)

8 August 2015 Ottawa's hidden treasures

It went something like this: **ring ring** Hello? DaniGirl! It’s the Universe calling. Long time, no chat! Universe! Hey old friend, what are you doing in a photo of the day blog post? There was a disturbance in the force and I had to check it out. You were radiating happy when you were out […]

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Revisiting Thunder Cove

6 August 2015 Ottawa to PEI 2015

Although we’d had a loose idea of what we planned to do pretty much every day of our epic PEI trip, we awoke the morning of the final day with no clear plan. We chatted as a family to make sure we’d done just about everything we’d wanted to do, and discussed how we wanted […]

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A PEI tradition: a night at the ceilidh

5 August 2015 Ah, me boys

We’d been at the ceilidh for about 10 minutes when I leaned forward and whispered in Beloved’s ear: “Okay, so maybe not ALL my ideas are good ones.” A ceilidh, pronounced “kay-lee”, is part dance, part social gathering, part kitchen party, and PEI takes its ceilidhs seriously. On any given night during the tourist season, […]

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