Vancouver Island Getaway: Blue Grouse Winery

 

I’m going to start this post by saying that photos are not enough to convey how beautiful Blue Grouse Estate Winery is. Wine lover or not, it is somewhere that deserves a place on your bucket list. To visit Blue Grouse Estate Winery is to enjoy a piece of Vancouver Island that appeals to all senses, and whether you prefer a glass of white or red, you won’t leave disappointed. Thanks to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe, we recently enjoyed a 2-night girls trip to Vancouver Island, which included a night at the property and I’m sharing about our experience below.

When you first arrive at Blue Grouse Estate Winery– located in Duncan on Vancouver Island- you enter a large door that leads to an open space tasting room that overlooks the vines. Inside and out, it’s a breathtaking location that makes the wine-bearing landscape the star of the show. Whether you come for the afternoon to enjoy a wine tasting or spend a night at the aptly named Grouse House, you’ll find it impossible to ignore the beauty of the location.

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than sipping on wine and learning about how the glass you’re enjoying was cultivated, and worse ways to wake up than in a beautiful room overlooking the grapes themselves.

I’m still a novice when it comes to wine and my knowledge can at best be described as ground-level, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about wine, the different varieties, and how where it’s grown-the terroir– influences the wines themselves. And of course it’s important not to overlook the winemakers, the individuals who shape each variety produced, and in the case of Blue Grass Estate Winery, that would be the affable Bailey Williamson, whose passion and knowledge are contagious.

After arriving, Janette and I were introduced to Bailey who gave us a tour of the main property, the large building which houses the tasting room, gift shop area, and production area + wine cellars. Outside of the beauty of the location, this was a highlight for me and having the opportunity to speak with Bailey about his winemaking journey and methodology was fascinating. As a former chef, Bailey’s attention to the quality of what he produces is palpable and I enjoyed hearing him speak about the different varieties grown on the property and how they differ from those found in the Okanagan. 

If you have a basic knowledge of wine, you’ll know that different grape varieties thrive in different climates. Since Vancouver Island has cooler temperatures than central BC, this influences the wines that are produced on the property. With the grapes grown on location, Bailey’s method is to let the terroir of the location influence the wines he produces, rather than trying to manipulate the grapes into a wine they’re not.

I enjoyed hearing Bailey speak about how he envisions the future of the winery and the wines it produces and learning about the varieties grown on the property was an engaging lesson in winemaking. Having him walk us through a variety of the wines he produces was an enjoyable way to taste the wines themselves while gaining a deeper appreciation for them. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Bailey for taking the time to show us around the property and invite us to share in his knowledge and passion.

Looking for a Vancouver Island getaway? A night in the Grouse House won’t leave you disappointed

Following the wine tasting, Janette and I got to enjoy a night in the Grouse House, a beautiful two-bedroom suite located on the property among the vines. We only stayed for one night and I think it’s safe to say we wish we could have stayed longer; nothing about this beautiful location disappoints. As a ‘bed and bottle’ retreat, this space is perfect for couples or friends looking for a scenic and tranquil getaway.

Complete with a full kitchen and eating area, this suite is modern rustic right out of your Pinterest dreams. Stay cozy inside, tucked away in one of the luxurious beds, or take a bottle of wine out onto the patio to enjoy a breathtaking view of the vineyard and surrounding landscape. It’s hard to say which is more beautiful from the patio: ending the day with a glass of wine as the sun sets, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee in the bright morning sun. 

And if a little adventure is something you seek, the winery is just a short drive away from shops, restaurants, and other local attractions. Come for a tasting, or stay for a night (or two!), Blue Grouse Winery embodies everything that is beautiful about Vancouver Island. If you’re a wine lover, this place definitely deserves a place on your bucket list!

For more info about Blue Grouse Winery and the wine varieties they offer, visit their website and find them on social media: Facebook | Instagram

Looking for other travel ideas on Vancouver Island? Check out this post!

Photo credit: Janette Shearer, Ava to Zoe

Vancouver Island Getaway: A Night at Hummingbird Haven B and B

When I think of Vancouver Island I think of slowing down, Island time, of art, culture, and a way of life that’s unique from anywhere on the Mainland. Even though I was born and raised in the Lower Mainland, I haven’t spent a lot of time on Vancouver Island, but any time I’ve spent there has been memorable. Last month  I had the chance to travel to Vancouver Island with one of my best friends, Janette from Ava to Zoe, and enjoyed a night at the lovely Hummingbird Haven B and B. Our little two-night getaway ended at this charming B and B located in Chemanis and the owners made us feel warm and welcome, like we were family visiting rather than B and B guests.
 

The idea behind this getaway to Vancouver Island was to relax before the busy-ness of Sumer Vacation.

I was grateful that Janette invited me on this girls getaway and we made the most of our time to relax and unwind. I had never been to Duncan or Chemanis, so I was looking forward to visiting these places that hold a special place in Janette’s heart (her Grandmother used to live there). If you are looking for quaint charm for your next visit to Vancouver Island, Hummingbird Haven is a perfect location, a combination of artsy charm and cozy. The owners Peggy and Brad are both working artists, and it was really interesting having the opportunity to chat with them about what they do- Peggy creates pottery and Brad creates digital art.
 

These B and B owners have a kind, warm spirit that makes you feel at home and welcome.

 
After arrivng and settling in, we enjoyed a chat with Peggy in her garden, learning about how she and Brad came to live on Vancouver Island and how their creative journies brought them there, along with their vision to create a sustainable accommodation option for visitors to the area. As we talked, we enjoyed walking through her garden where some of her pieces are on display, as well as getting a tour of her and Brad’s studios. It was interesting to hear about their artistic backgrounds and both shared with us their respective processes from start to finish. 
 
 
 
 
While we were chatting, we learned about their recent opening of the B and B (it’s only been open since the Spring) and their hopes for what they want to offer to guests: a unique experience where guests can indulge in the local art scene while staying somewhere focused on sustainability. Peggy and Brad are both plant-based, and provide delicious plant-based options for their guests (our breakfast while staying there was a yummy homemade meal, all plant-based and made by Peggy herself). When our conversation turned to food, it was insightful hearing their approach to food and the efforts they make to offer an eco-friendly experience for guests. To build on this vision they are also hoping to add Tesla art and wine tours later this Summer and Brad gave us a ride in his Tesla so we could see for ourselves what they have in mind; something fun and unique that future guests will get to enjoy.
 
Both Peggy and Brad are active in the local community and art scene and are a wealth of knowledge for visitors looking to make the most out of their time there. Ask them for a restaurant recommendation, local attractions, or places to visit and they will point you in the right direction. Part of the appeal of a B and B is the unique charm and atmosphere, and Hummingbird Haven B and B delivers this on all fronts.
    
 
After enjoying our breakfast with the hummingbirds (the B and B lives up to its name!) the morning we were leaving, Peggy was opening her kiln and it was the perfect finishing touch to our visit getting to see her take out the most recent finished pieces. As a souvenir of our time there I bought one of them, a green plate made using a special technique, something I’ll enjoy as a reminder of our time there. To say that Peggy and Brad are warm hosts is an understatement and their hospitality elevates the time spent at Hummingbird B and B, making it a lovely option for anyone planning a visit to the area.
 
If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, a visit to this small town is a perfect place to slow down and unwind. The area surrounding Hummingbird Haven B and B is scenic and serene, minutes from the water and close to amenities such as restaurants, shops, and artist studios. And if soaking in the local culture and atmosphere is something you hope to do, a stay at Hummingbird Haven B and B won’t leave you disappointed. If you go, tell them Kat and Janette sent you. 😉
 
 
If you would like to learn more about Hummingbird Haven B and B, make sure to visit their website and find them on social media: Instagram | Facebook
 
Photo credit: Janette Shearer, Ava to Zoe

Summer Snacking with Bite Snacks

Summer snack idea cricket protein bars

Summer holidays = no more packing lunches, but it does mean we need to keep a cupboard full of snacks. Whether we’re at home or out for the day, I try to keep stocked with healthy, convenient snacks the kids love. Earlier this year I was introduced to Bite Snacks by my trainer, Erin, and as someone who knows her way around health and fitness, I figured if she thought these bars were worth trying, so did I. One catch: they’re made with cricket protein!

These protein bars are a great healthy snack option for Summer

…So what does that mean? It means that each bar is packed with protein from a sustainable, nutritious source from right here in Canada that is eco-friendly and easy to digest: you got it, crickets. Now before you start wondering about the taste and texture of cricket, let me put you at ease. Because the cricket protein is ground up and blended into the bars alongside the other tasty ingredients, you’d never know there was anything different about these protein bars. Proof? My kids love them. 

These bars come in 3 flavours: Jiminy Ginger, Peanut Better, and Chocolate Chirp. Our family tried the variety box so we could compare the flavours, and the Chocolate Chirp and Peanut Better came out the winners. Anytime I can add in another healthy snack into the mix, especially during the Summer months when we’re on the go a lot of the time, I’m happy. These bars are like a cross between a granola bar and protein bar, full of flavour and other tasty ingredients like nuts, dates, and oats- anytime the kids see one they ask to have one, so I feel like we’ve found a winner in the snack department.

Healthy + Sustainable = Win Win!

If you’re looking for a healthy snack for on-the-go and are conscious of where the ingredients in your food come from, Bite Snacks are a great option. Another thing I learned while trying these bars out with the family is that cricket protein is an eco-friendly and sustainable protein option, requiring far fewer resources than other protein sources. For example, cricket protein requires 200x less water to produce, greenhouse gas emissions are 100x lower, and 12x less feed than what is required to produce beef. Now you know! 😉

Even though the thought of eating crickets may not jump out at you, Bite Snacks make cricket protein more appetizing by serving it up in their yummy bars and protein powders. Erin (my trainer over on Muscles and Mommies) used their protein powder to make some delicious protein- packed pancakes and they were a hit with her kids and mine- perfect for make-ahead snacks/ breakfasts. You can find her recipe for Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes here if you want to give it a try. 

Summer snack idea cricket protein bars  Summer snack idea cricket protein bars  Summer snack idea cricket protein bars Summer snack idea cricket protein bars Summer snack idea cricket protein bars

More Good Stuff to know about Bite Snacks

-gluten free

-non-GMO

-Dairy-free

-6G of protein in each bar

-great source of fibre and iron

-made from a sustainable protein source

About Bite Snacks

Bite Snacks provide cricket protein in the form of protein bars and powder with no added fillers or preservatives, using only organic and natural ingredients. You can purchase Bite Snacks products on their website and on Amazon. To learn more visit the Bite Snacks website and find them on social media: Instagram | Facebook

Disclosure: I received product and compensation in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

First + Last Day of School Printables | Preschool – Grade 7

First Day of Kindergarten printable

The time has come to mark the end of another school year, and for our family, this means the end of kindergarten. I know I’ll probably say this every year at this time, but where did the time go?! Looking back on this photo of Miss A in September is a reminder of how much changes from the beginning of the school year and how far they come, how much they grow. I created this First Day of Kindergarten printable in the Fall (check out our goofy photo that followed the one above on Instagram here) and have since created a full set of first day/ last day of school printables for preschool through Grade 7, so if you want to get the coveted first day/ last day photos you can quickly print them off and pop them in a frame.

These school printables are perfect to capture special memories of your kids at the beginning and end of each school year to look back on in years to come. I think it’s safe to say I’m going to be pretty teary-eyed when we snap this year’s end of kindergarten photo, but I’m sure I’ll say that every year from here on out lol. Next up: Grade 1! 

If you print these off to use with your kids I’d love to see the photos! Tag @ourhappyplace on Instagram if you share them on social media. These signs will fit a standard sheet of 8.5″ * 11″ piece of paper, but feel free to scale them if you want to make them bigger/ smaller. Find a preview of how the file will look (I used the preschool version) below.

 

See below to print your First/ Last Day of School printables!

What are your favourite ways to remember the beginning/ end of the school year and other milestones with your kids? 

First Day of Preschool free printable Last Day of Preschool free printable

Just click + print, it’s that easy!

First Day of PreschoolLast Day of Preschool 

First Day of Kindergarten | Last Day of Kindergarten 

First Day of Grade 1 | Last Day of Grade 1

First Day of Grade 2 | Last Day of Grade 2

First Day of Grade 3 | Last Day of Grade 3

First Day of Grade 4 | Last Day of Grade 4

First Day of Grade 5 | Last Day of Grade 5

First Day of Grade 6 | Last Day of Grade 6

First Day of Grade 7 | Last Day of Grade 7  

Come back and print these each year for some special memories to look back on!

First + Last Day of School Printables

Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) | Recipe

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Who’s ready for another Summertime treat that’s quick and easy to whip up? My second recipe with Nora’s non-dairy ice cream is an allergy-friendly take on a classic: gluten-free, dairy-free cookies n cream ice cream! Over the years our family has looked for an option that’s allergy- friendly with no luck, so having the chance to work with Nora’s on this recipe was the perfect opportunity to create our own version of this favourite flavour.

Just because something is allergy-friendly doesn’t mean it’s not delicious!

For this cookies n cream ice cream recipe, I picked up a pack of dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free cookies, which were the perfect addition to Nora’s plant-based ice cream that’s made with cashews. Use your favourite non-dairy milk and you’re set! See below for the recipe and click here for another yummy recipe with Nora’s.

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Ingredients

1 pint Nora’s non- dairy Vanilla Bean ice cream

3 allergy-friendly chocolate chip cookies

1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened cashew milk for this recipe)

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Directions

1.Bring the ice cream out of the freezer and allow to soften for a few minutes. While you’re waiting, use a rolling pin to crush the cookies

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

2.When softened, scoop the ice cream into a blender, followed by the crushed cookies. If needed, add 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk.

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

3. Blend mixture until the crushed cookies are combined. Pour the mixture back into the pint container or another freezer- safe container and freeze. When ready, serve and enjoy!

I hope your family loves this cookies n cream ice cream as much as mine!

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

About Nora’s

Nora’s Non-Dairy ice cream is mixed up in small batches in Vancouver, BC. Available in 4 delicious flavours made with simple, whole foods ingredients. Visit Nora’s Non-Dairy online for a list of retailers + find them on Instagram for updates on new retailers, upcoming events, etc.

Looking for more recipe ideas? Check out OHP’s Recipes page for lots more (including gluten + dairy free)!

  

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Like this recipe? Save it for later!

Homemade Cookies n Cream Ice Cream (Gluten + Dairy Free) Recipe

Disclosure: I received product to create this recipe. All opinions are my own.

 

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