Postcards from Manotick

It went something like this:

**ring ring**


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 playing with your camera in the morning’s first light in a sunflower field. What’s up with that?

Oh wow, those sunflowers! So many, so gorgeous, and what a perfect morning for it. Who knew there could be so many varieties? Some were easily 10 ft tall, some were purple, some were tiny. It was photographer heaven! I’m not surprised I was radiating happy.

A dozen sunny faces

Were you surprised to find such a treat so close to home?

I really was! I’d been chatting with the owner of the farm online since February, and I knew she was more or less local – but I didn’t realize until I went out there that she’s literally 10 minutes away from my house in Manotick!

A dozen sunny faces

How did you find out about the sunflowers?

The owner, Kristie, sells cut sunflowers for $5 a bunch, and also sells sunflower stalk kindling and makes art out of the stalks. She makes trellises, frames for chalkboards and mirrors, all sorts of interesting designs. We started chatting on line, and I asked her if it would be okay if I came out to poke around with my camera when the sunflowers were in bloom.

A dozen sunny faces

She sounds lovely.

She truly is! And the sunflowers are incredibly lovely, too. She planted more than 7,000 seeds, and nature helped jumble a lot of them together, so the field is like a crazy quilt with sunflowers every which way. They are every colour you could imagine – yellows, oranges, purples and pinks! Who knew sunflowers came in pink and purple and black? Each one seems to have its own personality.

A dozen sunny faces

I’m sensing a bit of covetousness here.

It’s true! Living in an old farmhouse surrounded by sunflowers? Move the whole shebang to PEI, plunk it down by the ocean and it’s DaniGirl’s House of Dreams!

A dozen sunny faces

I’m also sensing a bit of conflict.

Sigh, yes. I have a bit of a dilemma. I’ve found this incredibly photogenic field of sunflowers practically around the corner from me, and part of me wants to go there every day and just take pictures – morning light, hazy light, twilight, macro, wide angle, details, bees, tight crop, shooting up, shooting down — I had a hard time leaving in the first place!

A dozen sunny faces

Did Kristie mind the idea of you taking photos?

Not at all! She was so nice, and she was even open to the idea of me hosting sunflower photo sessions in her field. How fun would that be? People love sunflowers!

A dozen sunny faces

Very fun and very popular, I’ll bet. So what’s the problem exactly?

So here’s my dilemma. As I said, people love sunflowers. I see postings in local photography groups all the time with people asking for sunflower fields. If I tell people about this treasure, it’s not my secret sunflower place any more. But Kristie is trying to sustain a business of sunflower farming, and I can help promote her. Aside from the photographers, I know lots of people who would love the idea of just dropping by her place 15 minutes outside of Barrhaven to pick up a bunch of fresh-picked, locally grown and truly beautiful sunflowers for only $5.

A dozen sunny faces

Ah, I see. Photographers are a little proprietary about good locations, are they?

Well, yes, that’s true. But I also would want people to be respectful of Kristie and her field. Maybe everyone who goes out there to take photos also makes sure to make a donation, or buy a bunch of flowers on the way out? That way she can have a sustainable business, and we’ll have a beautiful local sunflower field for years to come! She was telling me a little bit about the work involved, and it’s neither cheap nor easy to grow that many sunflowers!

A dozen sunny faces

So how do people find this hidden sunflower treasure?

You can find Kristie’s Keys Sunfields page on Facebook, and you can pick up fresh sunflowers at the end of the lane from 9 am to 8 pm at 5939 First Line Rd. If you’d like to pay a visit, please message her first.

A dozen sunny faces

And when will you be hosting your sunflower field portrait sessions?

I’m working on the details for that, but it will be a weekend in the near future. Spots will be very limited, though – if you’re super keen, message me for details and I’ll put you on the waiting list. Watch this space for an announcement soon!

A dozen sunny faces

I’ll make an appointment with my stylist and get back to you. You’ll need a wide, and I mean w-i-d-e angle lens for me, though. Lovely sunflower photos, by the way!

Thanks Universe! I’m glad you checked in. We’ll chat again soon!


So this isn’t exactly my photo, but I did ask for it to be taken, and it was of me, and it was my phone. Close enough, right? Heck, it wasn’t even today – the rules of this project get more loosely defined with every passing day!

But oh my goodness, what a fun time we had!

Rowing with Tristan

I found out through the community newsletter that Shells & Sails was hosting a “Try It” day in Manotick, where you could sign up for a free rowing or sailing lesson this week. My friend Yvonne has been rowing competitively for a few years now, and I’ve always had the rowing machine at the gym as part of my workout routine, so I thought it would be fun to give actual rowing a try. And Tristan is a willing volunteer for most of the schemes I cook up – sometimes I wonder if he’s on Beloved’s payroll: “Here’s 20 bucks, go keep your mother entertained for a while.” 😉

I. loved. it. Seriously loved it. I loved the feeling of being on the water, the speed of cutting through the water, and the power of using my own strength to pull the boat. It didn’t take too long for Tristan and I to get coordinated, and I loved the feeling of us synching up and working together. Though he tends to be less excitable and effusive than me, he did say he enjoyed it.

The coordinators of the Try It day were telling me that they’d seen a very positive response (ours was the last time slot over a two day period) and were hopeful about setting up a potential Manotick rowing club. That would be AWESOME! I’ve been idly thinking about getting a canoe or a kayak for years. It might be time for me to finally get out on the water, and I’d love to be able to do it right here in the ‘hood.

Have you ever tried rowing? What did you think?


This is terrific news for Manotick families with kids at or heading to St Mark High School. Per the latest Manotick Village and Community Association newsletter, there has been movement on the proposed pathway between St Mark High School and the Long Island Aquatic Centre, where it will meet up with the village’s existing network of sidewalks.

From the newsletter:

An MVCA-promoted project for a pathway connection between the Village of Manotick and the Osgoode Multi-Use Pathway is included in the list of Community Connectivity Projects (2015-2018) for the proposed Term of Council Strategic Initiatives. The project was initially named the “Pool to School Pathway”, as its objective was to allow for a safe pathway for students, pedestrians and cyclists to travel from St.Mark High School to the Manotick pool area, where sidewalks are in place.

The project name is “CC10 – Osgoode Pathway to Manotick Link”. The MVCA has asked the city for more details on this project. Residents wishing to express support for this project are asked to please write/click on these links: Councillor George Darouze at and Councillor Scott Moffatt at, with a copy to

Your support for a safe route for our youth, cyclists and pedestrians along Mitch Owens is greatly appreciated.

Bike lane

I think this is an excellent idea and long overdue. I know Tristan would love to bike to school, but there is no way I would allow him to ride on Mitch Owens, with no paved shoulder, speed limits of 80 km/hr and terrible truck traffic. He has missed the bus once or twice and walked home and I’ve cringed having heard that he took it upon himself to walk home along Mitch Owens. It’s simply not safe in any weather, and non-navigable in winter.

Even myself, I love to ride around the island but I am seriously terrified of riding on any of the arterial roads into and out of Manotick – the edges of the road are rough and the shoulders aren’t paved. Who would have thought living outside the urban areas would lead to such a lack of bike paths? We love being able to walk to the library, the shops, the pool and the elementary school – it would be terrific if the boys could some day safely ride to the high school as well.

I’m 100% in support of this initiative to link two of Manotick’s biggest neighbourhoods, especially one that gives safe, easy access to the local high school. If you agree, feel free to let our city councillors know!


It is with great bloggy enthusiasm that I welcome our newest sponsor, the Manotick School of Music.

We’ve had the boys enrolled in lessons at the Manotick School of Music for quite a few years now and I’ve always been pleased with the school and especially the wonderful teachers. Tristan took a couple of years of guitar lessons (one of my favourite blog posts from that era is Five reasons why guitar lessons are better than hockey!) but his interest – and practicing – waned after a couple of years and he’s on a musical hiatus right now. Simon took a year of piano, took a year off, and asked specifically if he could start up lessons again this year.

It’s an exciting time for the Manotick School of Music. As of a few months ago, the school is under new management. The owner and director of Manotick’s Musical Thought Studios is taking the school in new directions, and they are offering lessons in piano, guitar, voice, drums, violin, woodwinds and brass. They also offer piano parties, workshops, ensemble quartets and recitals, among other things, and they’re developing a youth musicianship program in the coming months. You can even take lessons on the gorgeous grand piano in the director’s home studio – how awesome is that?

Oh, and in case you missed it, here are my five reasons guitar lessons are better than hockey:

1. We do not risk growing out of this guitar in mid-season.

2. Guitar lessons do not take place at 6 am on a Saturday, or in damp, dank 12C arenas.

3. There is little to no risk of a concussion in guitar lessons.

4. Other parents do not yell angrily at your child during guitar lessons. (Although the jury is still admittedly out on whether we will yell angrily at our own children in the act of encouraging the practicing of said guitar lessons.)

5. Chicks dig guitar players.

Of course, the same could be said about piano lessons! In fact, I was just reading (yet another) article about the benefits of music lessons. In this case, they found that music lessons early in life protect the brain’s speech and auditory functions as you age, and goes on to say that “children who engage in music lessons boost their attention span, memory, and even IQ.”

It’s a dream of mine to one day have a piano in the house. In the interim, I’ll enjoy Simon thumping out Ode to Joy on our electric keyboard. It never fails to make me smile. He’s having fun AND growing his brain. What’s not to love about that?

If you’re interested in music lessons with Musical Thought / Manotick School of Music, you can see the current teacher availability on the Musical Thought website or contact the director at 613-692-2824.

Disclosure: the Manotick School of Music and I exchanged services for the purposes of this sponsorship. However, I would have fully endorsed the school and its lessons despite our advertising agreement and we have been a client of the school since 2011.


Looking for winter family fun in Ottawa this weekend? Forget the crowds at Winterlude and head out to Manotick to celebrate Shiverfest!

The Shiverfest fun starts on Friday January 30 at the Manotick Arena with an exhibition figure-skating show by the Rideau Skating Club at 6 pm. At 6:30 pm, come warm up by a roaring outdoor bonfire built by our local firefighters, and enjoy hot chocolate, Timbits and music. There will be a family skate at 7 pm and at 8 pm, a Children’s Party with a novelty and magic show with Magic Dave and Circus Chris.

Activities on Saturday, January 31 include a fundraising Pancake Breakfast at the Manotick Arena organized by the Manotick Kiwanis from 7:30 – 11 am, craft time for children, sleigh rides in Centennial Park at 10 am, all day tobogganing and skating in Centennial Park and the ever-popular Chili Contest at the Manotick Legion between 12 and 2:30 pm.

Shiverfest horses

The Manotick Arena will host Little Ray’s Reptiles from 1-2 pm and “Bands that Amp it Up” from 6-9 pm. There will also be an Open Mic Night at the Hard Stones Grill, beginning at 8 pm.

Sunday, February 1 features the popular Trivia Contest at the Mill Tavern from 1 – 4 pm. You might just be lucky enough to win a prize like this one, a framed photo of Watson’s Mill on a frosty winter day, donated by Mothership Photography.

This year Shiverfest is donating a portion of funds raised to YOMA, the Youth of Manotick Association – family fun AND you’re supporting a great community organization. The forecast looks sunny and cold for the weekend, with lots of fresh snow between now and then, so there’s no reason NOT to get out and enjoy winter!

Disclosure: I pilfered much of this text from the Manotick Village and Community Association newsletter. Why reinvent the wheel when they said it so well?


In the past year, the Youth of Manotick Association (YOMA) has been offering regular activities for local youth, primarily through Friday night drop-ins. YOMA’s activities provide a safe, inclusive and socially accepting environment that helps support local and area youth in building positive relationships, experiencing new opportunities and connecting them to their community. They focus particularly on kids aged 12 to 17, an awkward age where they’d like to get out of the house and socialize, but don’t always have the means to get to Barrhaven for a movie or hang out the way older teens might.

I think this is a fantastic initiative, one that is very much needed in the community. I had the pleasure of attending a recent drop-in to take some publicity photos on a night where the activity du jour was tie-dying t-shirts. I think the photos speak for themselves!




I would have loved to be a part of something like this when I was young, and I’m happy to support it in my community. YOMA is really still in its launch phase. They’ve had organized some terrific activities for participants, from expeditions to Saunders Farm and ski nights to movie nights and concerts.

Of course, running an awesome program like YOMA costs money. There are two paid youth worker on site at each event, so that parents are not required to volunteer nor cramp the style of their teenaged youth. The youth workers are also available to answer questions and chat with the teenagers. The drop-in program doesn’t have a permanent home, so rental costs are also incurred and drop-ins take place where space is available: the Legion, the community arena, even the local seniors’ residence. The ultimate goal is to build a youth centre, which would offer youth social programs, preventative programs, intervention services, life skills development and leadership opportunities.

Which brings me to my point. You knew I’d get here eventually, right? I mean, YOMA is awesome, but this kind of awesomeness needs a little community support.

Next Friday, November 28 from 6 to 8 pm, YOMA is hosting a fundraising spaghetti dinner at the Manotick Legion. The goal is to both to raise funds for existing programming and to move forward with new initiatives. Gluten-free options will be available. There will also be a raffle and silent auction with some amazing prizes including One Direction tickets, Sens Tickets, NAC gift cards, restaurant gift cards, golf packages and more! And did I mention the celebrity attendees? Our local MP Pierre Poilievre will drop by, and the dinner will be attended by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

You want to go, right? Tickets for the spaghetti dinner are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children under 11. For tickets or more information call 613-296-1202 or e-mail at

Thanks to the generosity of the organizers, I have two tickets to give away. BUT! This is a fundraiser, remember? So I would be happy to separate the tickets, so any family can have one free admission so long as they pay for the rest of the tickets. That seems fair, right?

If you’d like one of the two free tickets, just leave a comment below telling me some mischief YOU got into as a youth. I’ll do a random draw from all entrants, and we’ll work out how to get your ticket to you. Winner will be selected and contacted on Wednesday November 26. Want to know more about YOMA? Like their Facebook page for updates about the weekly activities.

I’ll be there – see you there!

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A dozen reasons to visit Manotick for Dickinson Days this weekend

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Did you see the weather forecast for this weekend? Sun, sun and more sun, with a side of heat and a little more sun. Helllloooooo summer, we are *so* glad to see you! You know I love summer. You know I love free family fun. You know I love Manotick. What’s not to love about […]

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Photo of the day: An unexpected red canoe

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Manotick families – have your say about George McLean park

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This blog post is part PSA and part rant. The PSA part is that the city is planning to update the play structures at George McLean park in Manotick. (Thanks to the Manotick Village and Community Association for the notification on this one!) According to the MVCA parks and recreation page: The City is replacing […]

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Weekend winter family fun: Shiverfest 2014

29 January 2014 Ottawa Family Fun

The forecast for the weekend looks wintry without being bone-numbingly, cheek-searingly cold – perfect weather to come out and celebrate the season at Manotick’s annual Shiverfest Winter Carnival! There’s a full schedule of events for indoor and outdoor activities. Here’s the full list of what’s going on where and when: Friday, January 31 at Manotick […]

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