Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Rooms

Last weekend, Andrew and Brennen and I spent Sunday afternoon at The Rooms.

The Rooms is perhaps Newfoundland and Labrador's greatest cultural institution, and it is the home of our Provincial Archives, Art Gallery, and Museum. With collections and exhibits changing regularly, The Rooms offers a tremendous reflection of our history and culture, along with incredible architecture, and a stunning view over the harbour and downtown St. John's.

We love that many of the exhibits are interactive and hands-on, allowing you to explore the elements of the displays in a number of different ways. Brennen loves anything with sound, and he really enjoys the various listening stations throughout the galleries here!

The Rooms has produced a comprehensive exhibit on Beaumont-Hamel that was unveiled on July 1st of this year - the 100th anniversary of one of the most brutal battles in our history.

"The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our "Great War" happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This new exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years - through their treasured mementos, their writings and their memories."

We spent time learning the history about what happened on the battlefields, but it was the personal stories that, for me, had the greatest impact. To see actual letters and postcards sent from soldiers to their mothers back home, and to learn the fate of many of these young men was heart-wrenching.

There are many artifacts and family keepsakes on display that were collected from across the province, and a database that allows you to search names and look up details on those who enlisted.

You can even try on uniforms and have your photo taken like they did a hundred years ago. Holloway Studios (on the corner of Bates' Hill and Henry Street) was responsible for photographing thousands of men from Newfoundland and Labrador who signed up for the war. They would take your photo for free if you came in with your uniform.

I just can't imagine, as a mother, looking at a photo of your son in full Army regalia before going off to war, and the thoughts that would go along with that. It breaks my heart. Many of the soldiers who enlisted were not much older than Brennen is today. I am grateful for the sacrifices of the many young men and women who served and continue to serve our beautiful country, and I am oh so thankful that my sweet boy isn't going anywhere.

This new permanent exhibit at The Rooms offers an incredible opportunity to learn about the courage and determination of some of our greatest ancestors, as it captures the personal stories of many brave men who lost their lives in battle a century ago. There are hundreds of stories shared in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery, and many others can be found in the archives. A select few can be read HERE.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery

Newfoundland and Labrador has a tight-knit population and our roots run deep, so if you are from here, chances are you lost someone in this war. It is relevant to all of us, and I hope that everyone will take the time to visit this exhibit and to honour and remember those who served during the First World War both overseas and at home.

*The Rooms is fully accessible, and easy to explore with a stroller or wheelchair.
For a listing of current exhibits, visit

Sunday, September 18, 2016

For the Love of Food Trucks

This Saturday was a busy one at Easter Seals NL! In the morning, they hosted a Family Fun Open House as an opportunity to promote their programs and services for persons with disabilities. The open house was followed by a Pop Up Food Festival, which featured some of the best food trucks that St. John's has to offer!

Proceeds from the food festival go towards supporting Easter Seals' many programs and services for persons with disabilities right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Oh my goodness, you guys! I didn't realize that St. John's had so many awesome mobile food vendors! Food trucks are super popular in bigger cities around the country, and many people frequent food trucks regularly, but here in Newfoundland I could only think of a couple that I knew of off-hand. The first, and probably the original food truck here in St. John's being Ziggy Peelgood's! Everyone knows Ziggy's has been on the go for over 25 years, providing THE BEST french fries from a number of locations around the city. Then there was Long Dick's Sausage Emporium, and that fiasco a couple of years ago with them not being allowed to park outside of City Hall. There's been a few new ones recently, like Hitchen the Kitchen, from the owners of Blue on Water, who serve tacos and burgers and pulled pork mac & cheese from their food truck on Elizabeth Avenue. And Happy Camper International Eats, which offers healthy options like noodle and curry bowls, jerk chicken paninis and Korean BBQ.

I was excited to see some new food trucks and pop-ups at this event, and also thrilled to see such a crowd come out to support our local vendors and Easter Seals!

We are a generation of foodies, and food trucks offer a great way to try new types of foods along with a novel dining experience. They provide fast, convenient - and most of all unique meals on the go. There's something so fun about walking up to a truck, placing your order, and sitting at a picnic table or park bench to eat your lunch outside. It's just exciting to eat food that comes from a truck! And food trucks are all about community. They are a great place for people to socialize, as they are typically located in high-volume areas, and you get to talk directly to the person who is making your food, which is nice.

There were many pop-up food vendors set up inside Easter Seals House as well, so we met up with friends and found a table where we could enjoy our snacks and watch the crowds.

 OMG, these fresh homemade doughnuts from Sadie Leighs were to die for!

Andrew and my Mom and I tried sandwiches from Oh My Cheeses, and though the lineup was long, they were worth the wait! Mom had the Caprese Sammy, with tomato, mozza and local basil. Andrew had honeyed pear with brie and basil, and I had the French Onion Soup Sammy, with caramelized onion, mozza and swiss. They were all SO GOOD!! 

This is a pizza kone from Kono Pizza NL
They make dough cones filled with amazing handmade pizza sauce and a variety of different toppings. Yum!

I am constantly amazed by all of the incredible concepts that food truck owners are coming up with! There is so much creativity and ingenuity in this industry, and I am excited to see how it will grow here in the future. This event was a tremendous success for Easter Seals, and they are already planning for the next one.

"In the end, every bit of food you ate helped support programs and services for persons with disabilities- and that was pretty nice of you."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Harbour Grace

So, we are in the thick of September and we are back into our routines of work, school, appointments, meetings and just the general stresses of life that can pile up if you let them. Things get hurried, and crazy, and we are busy doing things, and doing more things, and getting busier and crazier, and all we want is to just stop and breathe and be happy. We've got a lot going on right now, and there have been some changes recently that have made things a little bit busier and crazier, and we are trying to find that balance, that sweet spot, where everything is smooth and manageable.

So, this past weekend, Andrew and I hit the reset button! We packed our bags and went on a little excursion around the bay! We headed out to Harbour Grace, and stayed at the beautiful Rose Manor Inn - a historical home built in 1878 on an acre of oceanfront property. The rooms are beautiful and the views exquisite, and it was exactly the getaway we were craving.

Rose Manor is located on Water Street in Harbour Grace, as close as you can get to the ocean. It was so nice to sit out here and listen to the waves crash up onto the shore. We got our fill of the freshest salt sea air, and the sun shining down with just a hint of Fall creeping in.

If you know me, you know I live for a good cup of tea, and Rose Manor actually hosts a Victorian High Tea on some Sunday afternoons (voted one of the best Victorian High Teas in Canada by Canadian Living Magazine)! It's like taking a step back in time and experiencing life as it once was - simpler, slower paced, but with tremendous attention to fine details. Owners Erika and Aaron are the perfect hosts. They are friendly and engaging, and super knowledgeable about the area.

Rose Manor has a beautiful parlour and fine dining room that offers a superb four course dinner menu, with meals prepared using locally sourced food from local growers and producers. For breakfast, Andrew and I had fresh made scones, bacon, and eggs benedict served on a touton! You read that right, and it was to die for!

We spent some time exploring Harbour Grace, which was once the second largest town in Newfoundland. Situated on one of the largest harbours on the Avalon Peninsula, it was once a thriving fishing community, and has a history rich with pirate tales - the best known being Peter Easton, who is still regarded as one of history's most successful pirates.

There is so much history here, and we just loved all of the old stone buildings and churches. I'd be lying if I said we didn't check out some of the real estate that's available. There are so many beautiful properties on the market right now, and I can totally see us having a little cottage or Summer home here someday!

St. Paul's Anglican Church was erected in 1835, and is the oldest stone church in Newfoundland.

Harbour Grace also has an important role in the history of aviation, as it was the departure point for many early attempts to fly the Atlantic Ocean. In 1932, Amelia Earhart left Harbour Grace to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, landing successfully in Northern Ireland.

While in the area, we explored a bunch of other little towns along the Baccalieu Trail. 
We drove through Freshwater, and found ourselves in Flatrocks - an abandoned outport that boasts a population of 7 people!

In the town of Victoria, we discovered a Heritage Village that included replicas of old saltbox houses, a general store, a church, a forge, and also a barn that has Newfoundland goats and ponies. Honestly, you guys.. show me a goat and I'm good for the day. I just love goats!

I bought a beautiful granny square blanket at a craft shop in Carbonear (read about my obsession HERE!)
And of course we couldn't come home without a visit to Brigus - probably our favourite little community in Conception Bay. 

We had such a great time checking out some beautiful little communities that we had never fully explored before. We walked, we ate, we chatted with the locals. We are always so thankful for the adventures that we share, and we seem to find a little more magic every time we visit somewhere new. We returned home with new memories, feeling grateful, refreshed, and full of love for our beautiful island, and for each other.