Fridays before a long weekend always feel extra special. I just love the idea of three days ahead of us with a mix of planned fun activities and some much needed downtime. I made a real effort to get things cleaned up and tidy around the apartment this week, so that I didn’t have to spend the weekend cleaning. The most I might do is clean out the fridge tomorrow morning before we go to the farmers market to load it up with local produce (and maybe make a veggie frittata for lunch).

What are you up to this weekend? Any fun activities planned? Maybe heading to a cottage or into the city for a baseball game? Write it in the comments below – I’d love to hear about it!

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Summer Blooms: My mom’s hydrangea bush is still blooming like crazy. We were able to cut these massive hydrangea to use for decoration at my sister’s law school graduation party last weekend. I took a few home to put on our dining room table too.

We used some more flowers from my mom’s garden (with a few store bought pieces) to decorate the rest of the party. The fresh flowers looked to cute and fun in these lacy containers (leftover favours from my bridal shower!)

The party itself was an absolute blast and I’ll be sharing more photos from it next week. I’m so proud of my sister for working so hard all through law school and now starting her new job in a big city law firm!

Revamped Front Hall: We used to have a picture frame and bird hook hanging in our tiny front hall, but I recently swapped them out with some new pieces we received as gifts. (I kept the horseshoe up – we can always use a little good luck!)

We now have this beautiful painting of the historic St. George’s Church in Jackson’s Point, Ontario for us to walk by and admire every day. It was a gift from our lovely neighbours Rick and Reta (the ones I made the Carrot Oatmeal Muffins for). When we stopped into their apartment earlier this spring, we got to see some of Rick’s amazing artwork all over their home. I recognized the church from visiting it as a child and from when I worked beside it at Sibbald Point Provincial Park in my university days. They were so sweet and surprised us with it as a wedding gift. I couldn’t get over how thoughtful it was of them to give us such a lovely painting of a place that brings back many good memories. (Prints are available on his website.)

Under the painting, I hook up this new chihuahua hook from the Young House Love line at Target. My mom surprised me with it when she came back from Florida this spring. The shape makes me think of our sweet little pooches, but it is also very practical – I hang the dog leashes up here for easy access at the door.

New Living Room Artwork: We were lucky enough to receive another painting as a wedding gift and it’s hanging up in it’s new home in the living room. A dear friend of Garrett’s parents painted this for us and it looks just like our wedding venue!

If you get up close, you can see a little secret skywriter in the clouds. What a cool idea!

I love that we’re starting to have more and more original artwork in our home, from the paintings we got as wedding gifts to the painting from my great Aunt Irene of a photo I took. We even have our commissioned watercolour map of Canada and my own attempts at painting for fun (Overlapping Circles Painting and Cutlery Painting). I’d love to have all kinds of different paintings and prints in our home someday.

New Additions to my Queen’s family: I am beyond excited to share that two of my roommates from Queen’s University are expecting their first babies! Both times they told me, I couldn’t help but get teary.

I love all these girls so much and to think that there we’re going to have a little second generation joining us soon is so exciting!!! It’s been seven years since we lived together but I think about these gals all the time. I’m so touched that they were ALL able to make it to the wedding, coming in as far as Fredericton and Calgary!

Puppy Love: Our own little babies are becoming good buddies now and I even caught them snuggling up together on a particularly chilly evening.

Of course, when Garrett got close to them, Cola immediately had to take advantage of it. He just wants to snuggle you all the time. (Whiskey was unimpressed).

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I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! We’ll be enjoying the three day weekend with friends, family and those two pups. I am just crossing my fingers for nice weather!

Starting tomorrow, Etsy Canada is heading out on a road trip – hitting 4 cities in 10 days! They’re filling a 30-foot custom AirStream trailer with incredible vintage and handmade goods and making stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto. At each city there with be Etsy sellers, musicians, local food trucks and product giveaways! If you’re able to pop by, you’ll have the chance to mingle with some of your favourite sellers, find beautiful handmade one-of-a-kind treasures and see a free concert. Be sure to check out Etsy Canada’s Road Trip Page for the full program details.

It got me thinking about some of my road trip essentials from our Honeymoon Road Trip, as well as some of my favourite road trip finds on Etsy.

http://prf.hn/click/camref:11l3GM/destination:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Fca%2Flisting%2F178948200%2Fipod-nano-case-with-leather-strap-ipod

Music: When we’re on the road, it can be hard to find a good radio station…then you finally find one and you drive out of it’s range. That’s why we always load up our iPod with new music and some old favourites. We keep it in a case in the console and use an AUX cable to connect it to the radio. On the Honeymoon Road Trip, we had a steady soundtrack of Sam Cooke, The Drifters, and Alabama (obviously).

Cooler: It’s easy to get caught up in the fast food lifestyle when you’re on the road, so we try to switch it up with some quick healthier snack options in a small cooler in the back seat. Every few days we’d stop into a grocery store for things like carrot sticks, yogurt cups (grab plastic spoons from the deli counter!), lean cuts of lunch meat and cheese slices for mini roll-ups, bananas and apples, along with some treats too like chocolate, chips and pop. When we’d get to a hotel, everything was loaded into the fridge for the night and then we’d use the ice machine to fill up the cooler before we went on our way the next morning. It was great to be able to reach back and grab a snack when we wanted something, instead of spending time (and money) pulling over to scrounge for something to eat.

http://prf.hn/click/camref:11l3GM/destination:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Fca%2Flisting%2F79903923%2Fnicky-sunglasses-tortoise-cat-eye-frame

Sunglasses: After such a long winter, I swear that my eyes were not used to so much sun once we started heading down South. I was squinting like crazy! Sunglasses are a must, especially when they can be fun and funky like these retro inspired ones. Very Thelma & Louise!

http://prf.hn/click/camref:11l3GM/destination:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Fca%2Flisting%2F101137868%2Fdslr-camera-strap-cream-maroon-blue

Camera: You never know what you’ll see along the road, so I always have my camera ready to go. Otherwise you could miss a real gem, like the water tower in Florence, Ohio! After so many road trips and local trips, the strap is starting to become really beat up, so I would love to get a cute camera strap like this for our next trip.

Reliable Car: We both drive older cars and while they’re great for the regular day-to-day commute, a long road trip just might do them in. Also – neither of them have good A/C which is fine here when I’m just driving fifteen minutes to work, but is no bueno when you’re in traffic for hours. Thankfully Garrett’s parents have been nice to lend us their SUV for both the Honeymoon Road Trip and the Salem trip last fall. It’s so comfortable to drive, lots of room for souvenirs and has air conditioning – phew!

GPS & Maps: As much as I love a little off-the-map road tripping, you still need something to help you get from point A to point B. We usually borrow a GPS from my parents and then pick up some real maps as well. While I seriously love the GPS, we’ve been in situations where there hasn’t been satellite service or it can’t find the streets we’re on because they’re too new – and that’s when a good ol’ paper map comes in handy. If the car ever broke down, we also have a way to find our way to the next town too!

Journal: When I went on road trips as a kid, we always made journals of our journey – jotting down little notes and clippings of what we did each day. Garrett and I wanted to do the same thing for the honeymoon, with a little travel notebook for writing down all our adventures, with space for him to draw little doodles. It’ll be so great to revisit it in years to come.

http://prf.hn/click/camref:11l3GM/destination:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Fca%2Flisting%2F173328321%2Fipad-sleeve-ipad-air-case-multifuntion

Phone, Tablet or Laptop: When we’re traveling through the US, we’re technically going international – which means roaming charges. We were lucky to have a US SD card for my smart phone this trip to look things up, but in the past we’ve been reliant on wi-fi at hotels and restaurants. We also bring along Garrett’s iPad and/or my laptop so that we could look up cool places to check out at our next destination, email family to let them know we’ve arrived alive or just check in on the day-to-day stuff – although we try to stay unplugged as much as possible. We always make sure to pack our electronic devices in protective cases because bags get tossed around in the backseat or have other bags stacked on top.

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Do you have any must-have road trip items or tips? Share your road trip memory and/or vacation photos on Instagram or Twitter using the tag #etsyroadtrip for a chance to be highlighted on Etsy.com and/or Etsy’s social channels!

You may have heard, but there is a crisis right now with the honey bee population significantly dropping over the last few years and this poses a major threat to global agriculture. Bees not only give us honey, but they also pollinate many plants that we depend on – as much as one third of all the agriculture in the world. Without them, we could see our produce seriously decline and many crops disappear altogether. It’s not just happening in Ontario, but all over the world. There are things we can do, like making sure our yards and park areas are free of pesticides and planting native plants that help promote bees to pollinate and help their hives, which also benefits other insects.

diy-honey-jar-wildflower-seed-packets-wedding-favours

When we started talking about making DIY Honey Jars for the wedding favors, it made me think about the bees. We needed to give something back to them too. That’s when I came up with the idea of creating little packets of wildflower seeds that guests could take home.

diy-honey-jar-wildflower-seed-packets-wedding-favours

We even mentioned it in our sign, asking guests to scatter them in their garden or sprinkle them in a ditch along the country roads on their way back home. One of our guests didn’t have anywhere to plant them at her home, but she remembered the Unionville railroad station, where she often sees people getting pictures taken and knew it would be a place the flowers would flourish in a natural area.

The packets are safe for anywhere in North America, so we took some with us on the honeymoon too. We intended to sprinkle them along the route we took, but ended up giving them all away to people we met along our trip. There are now packets in Laurel, New Orleans, Savannah, Greenville, and even at the rural Pennsylvania rescue we picked up Cola from!

diy-honey-jar-wildflower-seed-packets-wedding-favours

The packets were easy to make and came in at $0.59 each! (including the seeds, glassine envelopes and labels)

Here is a quick cost breakdown, including where we bought all the supplies.

Wildflower Seeds $0.37 American Meadows – (1lb bag)
Glassine Envelopes $0.18 Crystal Clear Bags Canada
Labels $0.04 Martha Stewart Avery Collection – on clearance
$0.59

 

We made 125 bags and had more than enough favors for the 115 guests at our wedding, as well as plenty of extras because some couples just took one packet. We were able to have lots leftover to give away on our honeymoon (and a few to save for our future house someday).

american-meadow-honey-bee-wildflower-seed-mix

We ordered one pound of Honey Bee Wildflower Seed Mix from American Meadows. This mix is meant to attract honey bees, with quick-bloom flowers that make the bees work easier and helps out the already-stressed hives.

american-meadow-honey-bee-wildflower-seed-mix

It was a great diverse mix with 19 wildflowers (11 annuals and 8 perennials) including Shasta Daisies, Wild Cosmos, Purple Coneflowers, Baby Blue Eyes,  Black-eyed Susans and White Dutch Clover Zinnias. This wildflower mix is good in zones 1-8 so that any of our guests from all over North America could use it.

wildflower-seed-mix-measured

I’d originally thought of weighing each packet of seeds, but Garrett had the great idea to use a tablespoon to measure the volume instead. It was a much faster way of filling the bags and he was able to do all 125 quickly.

glassine-envelopes

The glassine envelopes were ordered from Crystal Clear Bags Canada, which I’ve ordered from in the past for work projects and they’ve always been great. These envelopes are their G9 size (2 1/4″ x 3 1/2″) which worked out perfectly for the amount of seed we wanted to give our guests, without looking too small.

diy-wildflower-seed-packet-wedding-favour

One tablespoon of seeds filled the bags almost halfway and is plenty of seed for a small patch of wildflowers.

martha-stewart-avery-silver-embossed-labels

Just like with the DIY Honey Jars, my mom found a great deal on these silver embossed seals from the Martha Stewart Avery labels collection. I’ve seen these for $5 a pack before, but she got them on clearance for $0.75 for 18 labels – or $0.04 cents each!

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Garrett and I live in a large building, with many different tenants from all over. We have these great neighbours just down below us that are just what you hope for in a neighbour – super friendly, always saying hi and asking us how we’re doing.

Recently (before the wedding) Garrett and I went over to chat with them for a bit (they’d had a flood in their basement and we were looking at a bookcase they didn’t need), and we got talking. Like really talking – not just about the weather or the dogs, but things like where they’re from, their children and grandkids, where they’ve travelled, etc. It was so amazing to be talking to this couple that have lived a great married life together right on the cusp of us starting our own. We made a deal to get together again after the wedding to sit down, have tea and talk some more.

So that’s what we did a couple of weeks ago. I made these Carrot Oatmeal Muffins to bring with us and carried them downstairs (fresh out of the oven!) to join our neighbours for an afternoon of tea, muffins and great stories. If you’ve never done it before, I strongly recommend making a batch of muffins (these ones are good!) and taking them over to enjoy with your neighbour over a cup of tea. It’s amazing the things you’ll learn about the people who live just next door.

 

What you’ll need:

Makes 12 muffins · Printable Version

  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats (optional: extra for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

TIP – be sure to spoon your flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a spatula edge or the spoon handle, rather than just scooping it from the bag. You can add too much flour to recipes by scooping, resulting in a drier baked good!

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined – do not overmix. Fold in the carrots, coconut and raisins (if you’re adding them).

Spoon into 12 paper-lined or greased muffin cups. Sprinkle with a little extra oats on top for some crunch.

Bake at 375°F for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; let cool completely.

I always serve up muffins with softened butter. It’s so much easier to spread and gives the muffins a great richness. If you’re giving these muffins as a gift, add a little container of room temperature butter to the gift basket. I set a little bowl of butter out on the counter to soften while the muffins baked and then took it down with us to the neighbours.

Is there anything nicer  than a warm muffin with butter smeared across it – and a good ol’ cup of tea? Enjoy!

I can’t believe that it’s already the last Honeymoon Road Trip post! I’ve loved going through our photos every week with Garrett, writing up the stories and sharing them with all of you. There has been such an amazing response from readers, new visitors to the blog (hi!) and fellow road trippers out there. Thank you all for joining us on this adventure and I hope it gives you the itch to get out there and do some exploring too – even if it’s just in your own town. It’s amazing the things that you can find out there when you open yourself up to it.

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Day 13

After a morning of shopping at the market, we left the coast in Charleston and headed into the mountains to the beautiful area surrounding Greenville, South Carolina to visit Garrett’s aunt and uncle and their family. When we saw the route we’d be taking back home on the trip, we knew we had to stop in for a visit. There was a wonderful homemade dinner ready for us when we pulled into the driveway. There’s that Southern hospitality again! It was so nice to see real vegetables again – and she made the most amazing homemade pound cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. We were having such a great time, that I totally forgot to take any pictures!

I’d never been to Greenville and I couldn’t believe how lovely their downtown is. So many cute shops, interesting restaurants and tons of green space.

They have a beautiful park system in the heart of downtown.

It even has a waterfall!

I hope we can come back again and explore more of this lovely city.

 As the sun set, we took a little detour through the gorgeous campus of Furman University.

 

Day 14

Garrett’s Aunt Judy was so nice to take us over the state line to visit beautiful visit beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. After our visit, we came back to enjoy another delicious meal with the family.

 

Day 15

After a big breakfast (homemade pancakes and all the fixin’s – yum!), we headed out on the road again. We stopped for a quick visit at the miniature horse farm, and within seconds we had some friends making their way towards us.

They were so cute. I wish we’d thought to bring them carrots! After some nose rubs and head scratches, they realized that we didn’t have anything worth eating and headed back to their barn.

We drove through the coolest mountain range (maybe the Smokies?) and it made me realize how much amazing geography we came across in our travels. It’s so cool to think you can be in one country and experience so many different things.

We only stopped for important things, like gas, washing giant splattered bugs off the window and treating ourselves to a chocolate coated ice cream cone at McD’s. Due to the whole nut allergy thing, it had been years since I’d had one – so I enjoyed every last lick.

We saw a sign for a scenic lookout, so we pulled over and did the whole tourist thing…because well, we’re tourists.

By the late afternoon, we hit the 5000 kilometer point of the trip (almost 3107 miles)…and we still had several states to go before we’d see our familiar red and white flag at the border.

After a long day of driving we made it to Pennsylvania. We grabbed some takeout and headed to our hotel for a lazy dinner while watching some random movie on TV (I just remember Jim Carrey was in it) and then a quick swim before bed.

Day 16

When we woke up on the Sunday, I could hard believe that we were heading back home again. After over two weeks on the road, I was ready to go back to routine and I missed Whiskey a ton, but it was also bittersweet to let go of this nomadic lifestyle that I’d come to love so much. Exploring new places and meeting amazing people along the way was such an incredible experience to do together for our honeymoon.

Of course, this was also the day that we welcomed a new member to our family. We picked up Cola from a rescue in Pennsylvania (he is originally from West Virginia) and he spent pretty much the whole day sleeping in the back seat in his new bed. Now that we know his personality (and energy levels) better, we realize that he was absolutely exhausted that day. So much change for a little pup!

Although he did rally for little pieces of our lunches and for front seat cuddles. We got home in the late evening, picked up Whiskey and unloaded the car. It felt so good to be back home in our bed, with our toothbrushes in their holder and our shoes at the front door. Sometimes having a nice long break from routine makes you appreciate the everyday stuff just a little more too. That whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing.

I’m so glad that we did this trip for our honeymoon. Sixteen days, visiting sixteen states (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York). It was an adventure of a lifetime – and a pretty epic way to start a marriage!

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Just in case you’ve missed the previous Honeymoon Road Trip posts:

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