Manitoba Stay-Cation #9: Neepawa, Manitoba

Manitoba Stay-cation NeepawaWe spent lots of time on the road when I was a kid. Although many of our Manitoba travels were sports related, my parents also sold Amway products, so they would regularly be scooting around making deliveries and doing product demonstrations in rural Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Despite this, I can’t really remember ever exploring the towns or making a field trip out of our excursions, so my memories are mostly restricted to baseball diamonds, arenas, curling rinks and the occassional town pool. It has been lots of fun going back to many of the towns I visited as a child and digging a little deeper to find the treasures that lay behind my limited knowledge and experience in these rural locations.Manitoba Stay-cation

When I travel to my hometown of Binscarth, Manitoba, we drive the Yellowhead Hwy. #16 which passes right down the Main Street of Neepawa. As I have gotten older, I have become more observant and have noticed and appreciated the beautiful old trees that canopy many of the streets, the gorgeous location with part of the town nestled onto hillsides and the old heritage properties that seem to be in abundance. I have always wanted to spend some time exploring Neepawa and last Friday presented the perfect opportunity, as all it meant was an early departure for Bible Camp pick-up. I was on my own, so I could spend as little or as much time as I wanted doing the things that interested me the most. In the end, I spent about 3 1/2 hours in Neepawa and easily could have extended my time.

Neepawa Visit July 2014:

I had timed my visit with the Neepawa Lily Festival, but in all honesty most of what I wanted to do involved exploring things that are there whether it is festival time or not. Of course, the town was a buzz with visitors, vendors and of course the many locals who were out to support the festivities. Like most festivals, there are many events planned for both young and old, but my feeling in general is that it is somewhat more appealing to those that have a great appreciation for horticulture and a love for beautiful flowers and gardens. I like that too, but in most cases a slow drive by or quick stop at a garden is enough for me. I was really more interested in what the town itself has to offer.

Not unlike my other Manitoba visits, I have found that planning ahead is a bit difficult. Most town websites offer a list of services and businesses, but don’t really allow you to find the quaint little shops, coffee shops and restaurants that I find so appealing. I would always rather hear from a local or a previous visitor to find out their experiences and recommendations. There is nothing like the positive experience of someone else (or negative for that matter), to help guide you in where to go and what to see. The internet has not really proven to be that useful when trying to figure these things out ahead of time, so I do what I do best ~ talk to people. Much of my day evolved through the conversations I had with people along the way.

1. My first stop was the Court House which in itself is a remarkable building that was built in 1884 and considered one of the 24 historical landmarks identified in Neepawa. Of course, architecture is one of the things that fascinates me most and this building did not disappoint. I went inside and stopped to chat with a lady at the Lily Festival Information center. She was able to provide me with a map and answer some of my questions about where to go and what to see during my short stay.

Manitoba Stay-cation

Neepawa Court House ~ built in 1884

2. Farmer’s Market ~ There were many vendors set-up because of the festival and they offered everything from food to clothing. Some vendors were selling handmade goods while others were marketing jewellery and funky clothing. I wandered through, but shopping was not really in my plans, so I headed straight for the tours.

Manitoba Stay-cation Neepawa

Neepawa Lily Festival Market

3. In conjunction with the festival, there were 3 tours being offered. There was a 2 hour bus tour highlighting the history of the town and buildings and a second 2 hour bus tour of the gardens/lilies. I didn’t really have time for a 2 hour tour, although I would have enjoyed the historical tour. (This tour may also be available at other times of the year, but I’m not 100% sure and couldn’t find where I had previously read that.) I opted for the third tour which was only 20 minutes and gave me a nice quick tour of the town via horse and wagon. This tour took us down past Margaret Laurence’s childhood home and the old Knox Presbyterian Church which just celebrated its 137th Anniversary. I didn’t have a chance to see the inside of the church, but would have loved to. There were many other beautiful old homes along the way.

4. After the tour, I decided to get a bite to eat at the Brews Brothers Bistro which is right on the main drag ~ Mountain Avenue. It is located in a heritage building and has very high ceilings and exposed piping. The restaurant is family owned and you can tell that the owners have poured their hearts into building a successful business. Although I had to eat and run, I did enjoy speaking to one of the owners. She was very friendly and open to me sharing my experience with my readers. I ordered the “full” size Greek salad and it was not only delicious, but huge and inexpensive as well. The service was quick and good. The bistro serves pizza, quesadillas, soup and salads. Although I didn’t have coffee, I also hear they serve a great cup of coffee with an array of options. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and the price was right at around $8 for a very large portion.

5. After lunch, I did a quick walk of the main street and checked out a few of the shops. It’s Time Fashion and Gifts offers a wide array of items and is a true gem for such a small town. It’s Time occupies…

4500 square feet filled to the brim with unique fashions,accessories, gifts and wellness products. 

Manitoba Stay-Cation Neepawa

6. My final stop was the Margaret Laurence House. With time running out, I optedfor a quick self-guided tour. I was disappointed that I didn’t have time for the guided tour, as a few ladies had just completed it and were raving about how informative it had been. I enjoyed touring the home and my favourite part was finding the hole where the old stove pipe had been. Evidently Margaret used to listen to adult conversations through this when she was young. I must admit, visiting the home made me want to go back and read The Stone Angel again as I can’t even remember the story line….unfortunately high school was a long time ago for me.

7. With only a few minutes to spare before I had to hit the road and pick the kids up at camp. I decided to take a quick drive around town. I was told that two “must sees” were the Riverside Cemetery and the garden at the bottom of the hill on Mill Street. I did a quick tour and found both without too much difficulty. Although I am not 100% sure, I think I found the Stone Angel, as well??

Although I’m not certain, I think this beautiful garden is privately owned and maintained. It sits at the bottom of Mill Street and is truly remarkable although my pictures don’t really do it any justice.

I really enjoyed my time in Neepawa and wasn’t ready to leave when the time came. It is a gorgeous town with lots to see and do. If I had more time, I would have loved to visit the Beautiful Plains Museum, Lion’s Riverbend Park, The Lily Nook and completed the self-guided walking tour that takes you by all 24 of the historically significant buildings. There is a brochure highlighting the properties with a short historical summary of each. I’m not sure if this is available in a pdf or not, but I was given a copy when I booked my “horse and wagon tour”. I didn’t visit the park/campground, so I really can’t comment, but it looked beautiful from a distance when I took my drive around town. Lots to do and see in Neepawa!

Conversational Math with frogs

I want to thank Kelli Stewart for another great post. Being a kindergarten teacher, this one really strikes a chord with me. When parents ask me how best to prepare their kids for school my first answer is talk to them. Give your children plenty of time to play with real toys (not devices), use their imagination, explore and problem solve through everyday experiences and their own play. Take time to talk about their discoveries and the world around them. Don’t solve their problems for them. Let them figure out the challenges they face during play (eg Why won’t this tower stand-up?). Language skills are the foundation of learning and being comfortable with language concepts is the first step in developing literacy and numeracy skills. Finally, never speak “ill” of math. So many parents will say things like “I wasn’t good at math either. He/she is just like me.” Please don’t plant the seed of doubt or fear of math in your child before they ever start. Math is actually based on patterns and relationships between numbers. It is a system that really makes sense when you get it, but can feel like learning a foreign language when you don’t. Set your child up for success by speaking positively and making math a part of their world. Great work, Kelli!


What a fun and easy way to help your kid learn math? I suggest getting the help of a bucket full of leaping amphibians.

Emily's Favourite Math Teacher

Emily’s Favourite Math Teacher

Froghoppers from VikingToys is a fun game where you press the back of a frog to make it jump into a bucket. It is a lot of fun for the whole family for under ten bucks. I love it for that alone, but I have to say, that it has made teaching math words way more exciting!

Left Out of the Conversation

When my son was in preschool, we went to our first parent teacher interview. When we asked if there was anything we should be working on with him, she said that he could improve in his math skills. Aside from practicing counting, she said that one way we could help him advance was to be really mindful of using conversational math to describe the world around him.

“I’m sure you do this already… You know, counting stairs, dividing objects into equal groups, talking about adding or subtracting two more fruit in your basket as you’re shopping, that sort of thing. Even playing dice games.” she said confidently. That was the moment I realized I do not describe my world in mathematical terms EVER. Nathan and I would climb stairs to the beat of a song. We split things so they were fair. Fruit quantities were described more like this: a banana, a couple of bananas, a bunch of bananas. And could we play a math game? Sorry, no dice. To be honest, we had more Megatheriums come up more in conversation than Math.

With Emily, I knew I had to make a conscious effort from the beginning to talk math. Knowing myself, I knew that wasn’t going to happen naturally. That’s when the frogs came in.

Our favourite frog game

With the help of dice (we steal the dice from another great math game: Double Shudder!), we roll a couple times to find out how many frogs to add to the frog family (adding) and then roll again to see how many are leaving (subtracting). Smiles and subtraction seem to go hand in hand. As we “Minus one, two three…”, the frogs go flying! I’m not too worried about Emily actually learning her addition and subtraction, but it is a great way to introduce the words “plus” and “minus” while having some fun.

We even cut out lily pads and divide the frogs into equal groups. Emily is super social, so she is very content to put the frogs into groups (her ideal). The frogs are also great for counting, making patterns, sorting into colour groups, and are exceptionally good for launching across the living room!

Who would think that a frog would be such a good teacher?

Loathsome Lily Leaf Beetles

Although I am not yet feeling 100% and still find the computer and reading strenuous, I am attempting to get back at it with a few short posts here and there. I am off to pick the kids up from camp today and have decided to leave early so that I can visit the beautiful town of Neepawa. I have known about the Neepawa Lily Festival for several years now, as we drive through Neepawa the week before the festival when taking the kids to camp and again on the way back on the weekend of the festival. This year, I decided to leave early enough that I can spend a few hours there enroute to camp. I hope to have a great day and plan to post about my experience next week.

Loathsome Lily Leaf Beetles:

Luckily, I had done a bit of research on Neepawa and the festival events earlier in the summer, so I was already prepared for today’s stop. One of the things I learned in my research was a bit more about the dreaded Lily Leaf Beetle. Our own lilies became infested with these suckers last summer and at the time I had done some research and learned that there wasn’t much you could do about them other than pick them off and squish them. Yuck! Tim has been doing this, but we have not had much luck staying on top of them and they leave a path of destruction in their wake. Of course, as the beetles move west the future of the lilies in Neepawa is at risk with beetles now showing up as close as Gladstone. Although we have not tried any of the recommended courses of action (other than pick and kill), there are some suggestions in this article I found on the Lily Festival Site. It would be such a shame for Manitoba to be infested to such a degree that lilies are wiped out, but from the looks of our garden the outcome seems grim if something is not done to stop them.

Possible Solutions:

The previously mentioned article does offer some hope.

While the lily leaf beetle has no natural predators, there are a number of ways to control the insect.  Hand picking and squishing the bugs works well with adults.  Insecticides such as Sevin, Malathion, Safer’s End-All or Rotenone also work well.  At the larvae stage, Neem oil can be sprayed on the insects and plant every 5 to 7 days.  

Have You Tried Remedies that Work?

If you too have been infested and have found some solutions to these dreaded beasts, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. (I think we might try Rotenone which is an organic powder.)

If you are driving the Yellowhead this weekend and have a chance to check-out the festival it runs today, July 25th through to Sunday. Neepawa is approximately 2 hours west of Winnipeg.



Yummy NO-BAKE Peanut Butter Bars

chocolate plus peanut butterI am a total sucker for peanut butter and chocolate and when I came across this recipe on “I Heart Nap Time”, I just had to try it. Being able to do very little over the past 10 days, I at least managed to try out this new recipe. These yummy bars taste just like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and were loved by the entire family ~ even Shay who is generally anti-peanut butter anything! Of course, my brain got quite rattled in my fall and it didn’t even cross my mind to take a photo of the bars before the entire pan was gobbled up. If you want to check-out what the bars look like follow the link back to Jamielyn’s blog.

This being the first time I made these, I didn’t change a thing and there is no need to. They were perfect as is. However, I did use a combination of white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips, but only because that was what I had on hand. These are require no baking and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. They do need to set for about an hour, but the prep is super fast and easy. I love finding great no-bake recipes for summer as our house just gets way too hot when you use the oven. I couldn’t help but imagine what this peanut butter mixture would be like if I somehow combined it with this no-bake chocolate brownie recipe I have – mmmm Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies sound simply delicious!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars:

  • 1 cup salted butter (melted)
  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 (11 oz) bag milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)


  1. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl. Stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Dump the peanut butter mixture into a 9×13 pan and spread it out to make a smooth surface.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (at 50% power) for 1-2 minutes. Stir chocolate and pour over the peanut butter mixture. Spread chocolate with a spatula. To even out chocolate, tap pan on the counter.
  4. Refrigerate bars for one hour. Cut while bars are still cool. Enjoy!

These are a really great treat for adults and kids alike, but be sure to serve them when you don’t have guests with a nut allergy.

Clever Lazy Play Pants

Thanks so much to my dedicated followers. I am finally starting to feel better and am hoping to be getting back to regular posting very soon. I have been suffering from post concussion symptoms since my fall over a week ago and unfortunately, despite feeling much better, screen time and reading still seem to trigger symptoms. I am struggling to be patient, but know that rushing it only sets the recovery back. I am so thankful that Kelli Stewart has once again joined my blog as a guest writer. The little play pants she made her daughter are adorable and what a great way to upcycle her dad’s shirt! Thanks for helping me out Kelli!

Upcycle Men’s Dress Shirt into Play Pants

I used the sleeves off my husband’s old dress shirt to make a pair of play pants for my four year old. The best part about it is that half the sewing was done for me!

Here’s how:

  • Cut the sleeves free from the shirt and lay then on top of one another with the sewn edge on the same side.
  • Measure your kid from the ankle to the waste. Add an inch and a bit to the measurement for the waist band (the width of your elastic and the hem edge).
    Use this measurement to measure up from the edge of the cuff of your sleeves and cut the sleeves straight across.
  • Use a comfortable pair of your kids pants to make a pattern for the crotch cut, leaving a bit of room for the seam. Copy the crotch cut from the backside (the bum), so there’s room for your little one’s derrière. Normally, the front and back are different, so the pants are closer fitting. My girl has a bit of a toddler tummy and since they’re just play pants after all, I didn’t worry about making the front and back different!

    By the look of things, my girl is enjoying the extra room in the crotch! Try doing that in a pair of pants from Old Navy!

    By the look of things, my girl is enjoying the extra room in the crotch! Try doing that in a pair of pants from Old Navy!

  • The crotch should be cut from the side of the sleeve without the seam. Before you cut, make sure you leave extra room at top of the pants for the elastic and the hem. If I am sewing pants, I like to add a little more to the top to make a higher waisted pant to save me time pulling pants up in the future!
  • With the pants cut, all you have to do now is sew the crotch together, sew the hem for the elastic and thread the elastic in… done! Instant play pants!

The cuffs at the bottom can be worn down as a longer pant or rolled up with the button done up on the outside as flood pants. How cute is that?






Down for the Count

Hi All!

Ironically, I hit my one year anniversary on Saturday and haven’t posted since. I went to bed that evening and got up in the night to open the window. I’m not sure if I was still asleep, had a dizzy spell, fainted or what, but I fell backwards and smashed my head on our hardwood floors. Luckily, my neighbours were able to help out and while Lisa drove me to the ER, Chris stayed with the kids. Tim was at work that night, so I was alone with the kids. As my husband would say, I really “rang my bell”. I had lots of tests and don’t really know why I fell, but despite the goose egg and severe pain, I didn’t fracture my skull and the CT scan showed no brain bleeds. I felt so sick after that I was pretty sure I had a concussion and sure enough, I did/do. I am feeling much better, but get dizzy with any quick movements or turns of my head and thus my world has become very limited until the headaches go away. I am on restricted screen time and have done nothing more than quickly check my email once a day. Of course, doing nothing is not something I do well. If only I could curl up with a good book. Oh well, I know I just need to give it some time. I will be back, but for now I won’t be doing much of anything and will have to put my blog on the back burner until I feel like the symptoms have diminished. I thought I should at least take a few minutes to let everyone know what is going on. Obviously, I will begin to blog again, as soon as I am able. Take care.


PS This might be a great time to search the archives. You can either search the headings or use the search bar to type in key words. Remember there are more than 365 posts on everything from health and wellness to DIY projects. Hopefully, you can find something of interest.

1st Mission: Accomplished!

CelebrateScreen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.13.08 PMHey all! It has been one year since I officially launched my blog. I met my first goal of sticking with it for one full year without missing a day….that’s 365 posts in a row!  This summer, my blog is taking a bit of a detour as I attempt to explore our beautiful province ~ Manitoba! Of course, I still hope to have time to do some DIY projects, try some new recipes and get my house organized, but there will definitely be some “Manitoba” content this summer. It will give me a bit of a chance to unwind and enjoy my holiday and yet not totally lose touch with my followers. If you would like to help me celebrate my 1st Anniversary, just share my link with your friends and family and sign-up as a subscriber, if you have not already done so! My goal is to dramatically increase both my subscribers and my daily views this summer and I need your help. You may even want to copy and paste the URL from the address bar at the top of the page of your favourite post.

The Next Steps:

Want to know how you can help? Here are a few things you can do to help me take my blog to the next level:

1. Share my link with friends and family via email or social media:

2. Think of your favourite post and type the key words in the search bar. Once there, copy and paste the URL and share it with friends.

3. Subscribe. Sign-up as a subscriber and my blog will show up in your email as soon as I post each day. Take a quick look and see if the content is of interest and then decide if you want to visit the site or not. To see all of the videos and pictures you will need to click through to the site by clicking on the post title.

4. Let me know what your favourite topics and posts are by leaving comments at the bottom of each post. I love to hear from my readers and want to take my blog in a direction that appeals to the largest number of people, so I need your feedback.

Thanks so much for your support through the last year! I know that my content is a bit of a “mish-mash” at times, but I need to keep my content quite wide open, so that I can continue to post while working (just shy of full-time) and managing my family life. I enjoy blogging, but in order to post regularly and keep my life in some sort of balance, I need to keep my options open. However, I know there will come a time when I need to have a more specific focus and I would love your thoughts regarding your favourite content. Thanks for your continued support!

Manitoba Stay-Cation #8: BDI

What’s Summer without a trip to the BDI?

The Bridge Drive-In is an absolute Winnipeg icon. The drive-in was established in 1957 and is definitely one of the hottest spots in town, especially on a warm evening. It is not uncommon for one to have trouble finding parking and then find themselves standing in a long line. I’m not sure if it’s actually slow or just seems slow because you are excited about the ice cream that awaits you and are breaking a sweat from standing in the hot sun. Regardless, the crowd and the line-up are actually part of the draw. Everyone wants to be where the action is and the BDI is always hopping, especially in the evenings. We stopped by after our zoo trip and it was mid afternoon. We did wait in line, but no more than a few minutes.

What’s the Big Deal?

We have been coming to the BDI for years and in my opinion the ice cream is absolutely delicious. It’s super creamy and there are many options to choose from. I will often opt for a simple chocolate twist dipped in chocolate ~ still a favourite from when I was a kid. The ice cream menu is extensive with many original items that can’t be found elsewhere. Everyone has their favourite. I’ve tried my share of the specialty dishes like the “Cantaberry”, “Peach Velvet” and the “Goog”, but over the years, I have found that I often stick with a cone and am never disappointed. Their sundaes are also really delicious.

If you read reviews about the BDI, you will generally get great reviews, but you will notice that some will complain about the price, parking, line-ups or even the product not being superior. Let me tell you up front ~ you need to go with the idea of embracing the whole experience of BDI. You might have trouble finding a parking spot and will definitely wait in line. I have never been there and walked right up to place my order. Be prepared for that. As far as the ice cream goes, I can’t tell you what it is made from or if in fact it is better than other ice cream shops around the city, but I will say this it is super creamy and delicious and there is no other location in the city that can boast the perfect riverside location that the BDI has. The success of this business rests just as much on location as it does on service and product, if not more. The drive-in is sitting along the river just steps from a beautiful walking bridge. There are plenty of benches for you to sit and enjoy your ice cream with a beautiful scenic view of the bridge and river, or you can enjoy a walk, over the water via the bridge.

The BDI is literally for everyone. It is a great place to take the family for ice cream and my 10 year old son even recognized the “romantic feel” of the location and announced that he would definitely being bringing a future girlfriend here on a date. Many couples stop by for a treat and walk, as it really is a perfect spot for “date night”.

As far as price goes, I don’t feel that it is outrageous at all. The kids both had large chocolate twist cones with chocolate dip and I had a small chocolate twist in a sugar cone with chocolate dip. The cost was $10.45. When we go to other establishments we will often pay $15 to $20 for all 4 of us. Obviously, if you order specialty items, you will be paying much more, but they are loaded with items like fresh fruit, nuts, sauces, etc. I personally find the prices comparable to other places and have never been disappointed with the product.

Again, BDI is not the place to stop to pick-up ice cream on the way home. If you aren’t prepared to be patient and really enjoy the entire outing, go to McDonalds drive through. You’ll be pleased with the low costs and quick service, but if you want to experience something really special ~ the BDI is an absolute Winnipeg “must do”.

The Bridge Drive-In is located at 766 Jubilee in the southern part of Winnipeg. No matter what part of the city you live in or are visiting, it is definitely worth the trip!

Manitoba Stay-Cation #7: Journey to Churchill Here We Come

What takes 4 hours and is a whole lot of fun? You guessed it, a Stay-Cation to the new and improved Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I know this is going to sound a little strange and my kids thought I was a complete moron, but I actually got a little choked-up at the zoo today. If you know me at all, you’ll know that it was not because the animals are being kept in captivity, as I can’t really say I have a huge tender spot in my heart for animals, especially wild ones. It’s not that I don’t respect the animals, it’s just that I don’t put much time or energy into thinking about what’s in their best interest. I just don’t get caught up in animal rights. I believe animals should be treated well, but its not my cause in life. I do love the fact that new exhibit has a strong focus on conservation and educating people about the impact that our actions have on the natural habitat of animals and their entire ecosystem. However, as I said it was not the animals that had me choked-up. It was that I was so impressed and proud that the zoo, our zoo, had finally been taken to a whole new level. It is truly a very well-planned, visually appealing and user-friendly zoo. It gets 4 stars from me and not because I don’t think the new exhibit is worth 5, but more so because I know that this is only the first step in the journey to take our zoo to being a top ranking facility in North America, if not world-wide.

Assiniboine Park Zoo

New Front Entrance

The Journey To Churchill:

Absolutely fabulous! Even before we knew we had reached the entrance, you could sense the change in the surroundings. The trees and greenery took on a different look that totally set it apart from the rest of the zoo. There were so many great things, it’s hard to recall them all. I loved the inukshuks that were scattered throughout the exhibit as well as the large one at the entrance that provided a great backdrop for a photo. The “rocky landscape” was beautiful and everything seemed so realistic. As you moved from one exhibit to another, everything just seemed to flow. It was so cool to see the ducks openly wandering about the open tundra. The movie in the round room was spectacular. It was very informative, but yet totally engaging and completely captured our attention. Of course, you can’t help but love the awesome view of the swimming seals/polar bears from beneath the surface through the “aquarium” tunnels. The entire exhibit was really impressive. Unfortunately, I don’t have any great pics of the animals, as most were either sleeping or behind glass.

The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden:

Evidently the butterfly garden opened in 2011, but I had never seen it before. The flowers in the garden are beautiful and it was amazing to see so many different types of gorgeous butterflies fluttering about.

The Older Exhibits:

Having just been there in June, I noticed that many of the old exhibits had also been upgraded as well. The entire presentation just seemed so much more professional and classy. I’m not sure if I hadn’t noticed before or not, but I also loved how there were several picnic tables scattered in different green spaces throughout the zoo, so that you could stop for lunch, a snack or just take shelter from the sun and relax your legs.


The kids and I spent about 3 hours in the zoo. We saw all of the exhibits, but definitely passed by some more quickly than others. We took water with us, but didn’t take any snacks and were ready to go by the end of the 3 hours. We all really enjoyed the afternoon and would highly recommend you check-out it out. It really is a must see. We didn’t even have much to look at in terms of the animals activity levels as most were trying to avoid the hot sun and snoozing in the shade, but it was still a great day. The admission for one adult and two children was about $46 with tax and worth every penny!

Tips for Visiting the Zoo:

We basically did it all wrong today, but we had an open afternoon and I really wanted to see the “new” zoo, as I had highlighted it in a previous post and was quite excited. When we go again, I will make sure I follow my own tips. I know from our visits to other zoos, that the best time to visit a zoo is either first thing in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are cooler. The perfect conditions are generally in the morning with overcast skies or light rain.

In 2011, we visited Jack Hanna’s Zoo in Columbus Ohio. It was actually a really hot day, but we were only in Ohio for one day, as we were on a road trip, so we didn’t get to pick the day. As it turned out, the skies became overcast and we were caught in a huge down pour that lasted about 30 minutes or so. In the end, it was by far the best zoo experience we had ever had. The polar bears were partaking in some kind of a private party that involved a diving contest, the mandrills were mating (now that’s not an image you’ll soon forget) and a gorilla with attitude gave Tim “the finger” when they embarked on a stare down. It was a crazy day and so much fun! Believe me, if it works for you try to plan to arrive early (our zoo opens at 9:00 a.m.) and pick a day that is overcast or lightly raining. Morning is often feeding time as well and that too can cause the animals to be more active. You won’t be sorry!

Just for fun, I’ve included a few pics from our trip to the Columbus Zoo. Seriously, we had such an awesome view of every animal….the overcast and rain make for more active animals.

I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you think of our new exhibit and zoo upgrades or your favourite zoos to visit.

Piano Upcycle ~ Finally!

I have put this off for several months knowing this project would be huge. I have this vision and I know it’ll take lots of work to get this piano into a functional piece of furniture. I had several ideas for what I might use the piano for and in the end I have decided to use it as a desk and storage area for all of my craft supplies.

The final step before being able to start the rebuilding process was to remove the 458 little pins that I believe act as guides for the strings. I kept avoiding this job, but the “pins” are quite sharp and I knew that they needed to be removed if I wanted to use the interior of the piano at all. With most of the pins removed, I can now begin the process of planning what and how I am going to get this former piano to be the all in one storage work station I envision.

In my research, I wasn’t able to find anything that matches my vision, but I was able to take bits and pieces from the designs others used. I will have to see how hard this is for me to pull off, but one thing I would like to do is use the concept Vicky Newman described in her piano make over in which she made the upper cavity of the piano into a shelving space and converted the front panel into a door that slid up into the top of the piano like a “barrister style” bookcase.

Vicky's Piano

Here’s a shot of Vicky’s piano.

I will definitely be using some of Vicky’s ideas when reconstructing my piano desk, but I am really hoping to use the back for storage as well. back of pianoAs a scrapbooker, DIYer and crafter, I have so many small objects to store and I can’t help but think how cool it would be to have all of those supplies hidden in the back of the piano. I haven’t thought out the logistics yet, but I think it will work well. The key will be where the piano will eventually sit. If against a wall, the casters need to be strong enough and of good enough quality not to damage my hardwood floors when sliding it in and out to access the storage. If I choose to use it more as a divider with the back exposed, I will need to consider what the storage area will look like to make it visually appealing. Not sure, but the concept is exciting!

I’ll keep you posted, but of course, I will only be working on it between the adventures of our Manitoba Stay-Cation.