Sunday, March 4, 2018

Travel: Slowing down in Strathroy, Ontario

A Peaceful Ontario Escape

Do you ever find, that you plan a trip to relax but then being in a new place is so exciting that you want to try to do everything? Sometimes, you really just need to getaway from the go, go, go and escape somewhere where they value the slow and simple life.

That's what drew me to visit Strathroy, in Southwest Ontario. It's just a few hours away from Toronto (in Middlesex County) but it seemed like a trip back in time.

The pictures of small Victorian era homes and quaint streets made me feel like this was really the perfect place to slow down, relax and reconnect with myself.

In case you need to the hit the pause button too, here are my recommendations for a peaceful, little getaway.

Where To Stay

The Clocktower Inn and Bistro

When visiting Strathroy, I'd highly recommend you check in to the Clocktower Inn. It's a beautiful historic building that has been standing since 1889. It's so pretty, we took pictures of it from the street before we realized that's where we were staying!

Originally this building was a Postal and Customs office. Now, it houses a lovely inn and awesome bistro-style restaurant.

The rooms here have a cozy but elegant vibe. The beds were comfortable and I loved the original crown mouldings and the Victorian style draperies.

My favourite part of the room was definitely the bathroom. The bathrooms here have been newly renovated with heated floors, beautiful tile-work and my favourite- a beautiful claw foot tub!

I had the best time taking my book with me for a nice long bubble-bath. It was so relaxing and the ambience really made it feel like I had stepped back in time.

Where to Eat

Clocktower Bistro

The restaurant at the Clocktower Inn was fabulous. I loved the exposed brick wall in the dining room and the fact that the bistro seemed to be a local hot spot for weekend fun. The atmosphere was very lively and exciting.

Since it was NBA Allstar weekend, we also enjoyed watching the Slam dunk competition in the adjacent pub.

The main attraction here is the food. Chef Mark Graham is the Chef and owner of the Inn and Bistro and he takes great care to plan a menu that celebrates fresh, local and made-from-scratch dishes.

We ordered French Onion Soup to start and shared a fresh Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. The flavours were all spot on and we both enjoyed every bite! (It was hard to pick from the many house made dressings on the menu but we went with an apple cider vinaigrette).

Next, we tried the Lamb Burger and the Rack of Lamb with a wild mushroom risotto. Our mains were so delicious - we are still talking about them.

If you can eat here, you definitely should and we throughly  enjoyed both dinner and brunch at the Clocktower.

Rusty Wrench

We stopped in at local Brewhouse and Pub, The Rusty Wrench for a quick bite. They opened their doors late last year and have a mission to bring great craft beers as well as a world inspired food menu that caters to most dietary requirements. I loved trying their housemade Kombucha and signature beers. 

What to Do


When you finally get a chance to show down, you definitely need to take the opportunity. I made sure I took the book I'm reading and some bubble bath with me to remind myself to slow down and take some me time.

Strathroy is a small town and they are all about mindful, simple living. It was just what I needed. Take advantage of the fact that things are quieter here in the evenings and enjoy some time in your hotel room. I loved using the bathtub in my room at The Clocktower Inn and snuggling up with my hubby to watch a movie.


My husband and I have a love for antiques and we really enjoy looking around speciality markets when we visit small towns with history. I was so excited to find out that there is an Antique Mall in Strathroy!

I had so much fun wandering the aisles and looking at the great collectibles at the Strathroy Antique Mall. I even made a few exciting purchases - an antique lantern, a copper teapot and some beautiful Bone China tea cups and saucers. If you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit to see what you may find!

Connect with Nature

Strathroy is the perfect place to connect with nature. We visited the Texas Longhorn Ranch and it was the highlight of our trip.

Our guide helped us saddle up for a winter trail ride and it was so serene! The beautiful forested trails and the white snow made us feel like we were in scene from a romantic movie.

We could hear a few streams that weren't frozen over, the birds in the trees and  wind in the trees. We were on the lookout for a family of deer or some rabbits.

We had clean air to breathe and the quiet you need to just be in the moment. With the sun shining down on us, this was the perfect way to spend the day and an experience we won't soon forget.

I'd highly recommend you make some time for a trail ride if you're visiting and don't forget to warm up afterwards with a cup of hot apple cider in their Texas style family room.

Trail rides are approximately $50 per adult for an hour and would be beautiful in any season. I thought it was interesting to find out that they also offer unique overnight "Glamping" experiences in covered, western-style wagons.

One thing's for sure, I will definitely be back to visit this ranch again!

I loved getting away for an overnight that truly allowed me to disconnect from the world and reconnect with myself. "Me time" is a luxury these days and one that is so important to indulge in as much as you can.

My visit to Strathroy presented me with the perfect opportunity for a relaxing escape from the busy city life, giving me the chance to slow down and exhale. The positive effect it had on my state of mind and sense of well being was really something you should experience for yourself.

A special thank you to my friends at Ontario's Southwest and Visit Middlesex for sponsoring this post. As always, all views and opinions are my own. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Recipe: Healthy Energy Bites

Meal Prep- Making No-Bake Energy Bites

If you're following me on Instagram, you know that I love to meal-prep and plan. This is one of my weekly rituals that I swear by. If I meal prep on a Sunday, I essentially ensure I am:
  • making healthier food choices
  • saving time during the week
  • saving money
  • not eating out
One of my go to items for breakfast and snacks have been Energy Bites.

I love these bites because they are so delicious and they are the perfect hit of protein, energy, fibre and sweetness to tide you over till your next meal. They are also super easy and quick to make.
I really think you can make these regardless of your skill level in the kitchen. 

These Energy Bites are not something I've invented but I have experimented and tried a few different versions which led me to come up with a flavour combination that I personally love.

Making these bites will take about 15 minutes but will definitely ensure your week starts off on the right foot.

Energy Bites

Servings: 24 bites   
Preparation Time: 15 minutes


1 cup oats
1 cup of Wow Butter (to make an allergy safe version, or you can use any nut butter)
1/4  cup chia seeds (I use white chia) 
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet or dark)
1/4 cup pepitas
2 tbsp. honey
dehydrated coconut to coat
1 tsp. cinnamon

1) Combine the Wow Butter, honey and oats in a large bowl

2) Add the pepitas, chocoate chips and chia seeds and stir to combine

3) Create 1 inch balls, rolling them between your palms

4) Roll them in dehydrated coconut to coat

5) Place the energy balls in a glass dish with an air tight lid to enjoy all week long. 

These energy bites can be refrigerated or kept at room temperature if you prefer. 

I find that these bites make a great grab and go breakfast snack and make an awesome afternoon pick me up instead of reaching for a cookie. 

Hope you try them out at home! If you have your own go-to energy bite recipe, I'd love to try it! Leave me a comment and share it below.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lifestyle: Dinner ideas for a Date Night at Home

A Valentine Date Night In

Over the last few years, I've come to a realization - I really prefer date nights in. 

While it's nice to get dressed up sometimes and go out for a night on the town, there's definitely a sense of intimacy and coziness that comes when you just stay home. 

With Valentine's day coming up, I thought it was the perfect time to reach out to some of my favourite foodie friends to find out what their date night at home traditions are.
When it comes to figuring out what to make for a special date-night dinner at home, it's nice to get a little inspiration. My friends Solmaz, Krystle and Irene were the perfect ladies to ask - they are amazing recipe creators, food stylists and their blogs are always full of so much incredible culinary (and lifestyle) inspiration! 

Since Cupid's flying around town these days, I also asked them a few other questions just for fun...
  • What's your favourite love song?
  • What's your favourite romantic movie?
  • What's your best relationship advice?
  • Name a couple (celebrity or real life) that you admire and why?
I had so much fun reading their answers and can't wait to try their recipes for myself!

Photo courtesy of Irene Matys


Irene is a woman after my own heart. How do I know? She's all about the appetizers! Her Charcuterie Board tradition is so adorable, and paired with some wine and a romantic movie - it would be the perfect way to spend a date night at home. Make sure you check out her recipes for some incredible accompaniments to her board- like marinated feta...I can almost taste it now!

Photo courtesy of Irene Matys

Date night in recipe:

Every year we celebrate Valentines with an evening at home. We always have our favourite bubbly, a charcuterie board for two and spend the evening snuggled with a blanket watching our favourite movie. 

Favourite Love Song: As I am an 80’s girl, my favourite love song is Luther Vandross, So Amazing. It was our wedding song as well! 

Favourite Romantic Movie: My favourite romantic movie is Ghost. It’s a tradition every year to watch and of course, Patrick Swayze was one of my celebrity crushes!

Best Relationship Advice: After being married for 16 years and having three girls, Life is hectic with kids activities, work etc. Do or say something  nice to each other everyday! Whether it be a hug, kiss, saying I love you, holding hands, a small note or card in their bag, a text to say thinking of you, will make each other feel special and appreciated. It’s the simple gestures that mean the most!! 

A couple I admire:  I most admire is the love my parents have for each other. They have survived through war, poverty, being refugees to a new country, had to learn a second language and went through all this with two young kids. They stood by each other’s side to make a better life! 

Today, 48 years later, they are happily married, still deeply in love and are inseparable! 

Photo courtesy of


Solmaz shared a recipe that I've been dying to try since she first posted about it - Thai Pineapple Fried Rice! I can only imagine the blend of the sweet and juicy pineapple with the savoury elements of the fried rice. This is a dish that I think would be right up my alley for date night, or any night of the week!

Photo courtesy of

Date night in recipe:

"I'm all about having fun food on date nights so my recipe pick would be Thai Pineapple Fried Rice.

We make it almost monthly. For extra romance, go with two spoons and one half pineapple - lol. It's not your typical romantic dish, but hey, we ain't your typical couple :) 

Favourite Love Song: Hymne a L'amour by Edith Piaf - it was our wedding song (first dance)! 

Favourite Romantic Movie: Cinema Paradiso

Best Relationship Advice: Talk about everything. It can be exhausting at times, but it's the key to a long-lasting relationship, in my opinion. 

A couple I admire: My parents. They've gone through so much together (life events that would tear most people apart) and still share a such a strong connection. 

They never focus on material things -- gifts were rarely exchanged in my family -- but they always give each other undivided attention, ultimate respect and unconditional love. 

Together they are the most empathetic and altruistic couple I know. 

Photo courtesy of


Krystle's recipe for - An Eggplant and Three Cheese Lasagna, sounds (and looks) too good to be true! With winter cravings for comfort food, this dish would definitely satisfy you and your honey. 

Date night in recipe:

Krystle's pick for date night in would be a healthier but equally delicious spin on a classic, with her Three Cheese Eggplant Lasagna

Photo courtesy of

Favourite Love Song: This is so tough because I have so many! Personally, I think all of the best slow songs came from the 80s, so I’d have to go with: The Cars – Drive, Roxette – It Must Have Been Love, and Sting – Fields of Gold. They all give me goosebumps whenever I listen to them! After the 80s, anything Coldplay.

Favourite Romantic Movie: Pretty Woman

Best Relationship Advice: 
Understand your love languages, and try to give your partner the type of love that he or she understands/wishes to receive.

A couple I admire: Barack and Michelle Obama. You can just tell the mutual respect and admiration they have for each other. I think that’s rare and one of the most important qualities to have in a long-lasting relationship.

A Sweet Finish

So now you have three amazing dishes you could choose to prepare for a special dinner at home,  but don't forget to end with something sweet. My favourite Valentine tradition is a dark chocolate fondue. For dessert, I love to prepare chocolate covered strawberries and enjoy them with my sweetheart. 

Also, just for fun- thought I'd answer some of my own questions too.  My answers are below:

Favourite Love Song: I think I'd go with a classic - The way you look tonight. 

Favourite Romantic Movie: Serendipity. It gives me all the feels every time!

Best Relationship Advice: Know that you are always changing and growing as individuals. Communication is the key to making sure you are growing together. 

A couple I admire: My aunt and uncle - they have so much zest for life, love to travel and even after multiple decades of marriage they appreciate each other openly and enjoy the other person for who they are. Love that!

Date Night at Home

I am definitely going to be trying these incredible recipes for some date nights over the next few weeks. Would love to hear about your date night traditions too! Leave me a comment below and let me know how you spend cozy nights at home.

Happy Valentine's to you and those you love!


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Travel: A Romantic Getaway at the Oakwood Resort in Grand Bend, ON

A Valentine's Escape for Two

February is one of my favourite months of the year.  I love all the pink and red displays and the feeling of romance in the air.

While I get that Valentine's can be a commercial holiday, I appreciate the sentiment and think it's always nice to celebrate those you love. My favourite gift to share is the gift of quality time spent together...which is why I think the best way to celebrate love during the coldest month of the year is with a romantic getaway for two!

My hubby and I headed to The Oakwood Resort on Ontario's Blue Coast last weekend and it was the perfect blend of relaxation and fun. We ended up booking for my birthday weekend, but I think it would make a great romantic escape for Valentine's or anytime.

Where to Stay

Oakwood Resort

Only 2.5 hours from Toronto, The Oakwood is a beautiful log cabin inspired resort right on the shores of Lake Huron. It's also surrounded by huge trees, which means this property would be just stunning in all seasons. It looked so pretty when we visited with all the snow blanketing everything!


What I especially loved about staying here is that the resort is celebrating it's 95th anniversary and it's family-owned. There's so much history here!

A little about the owner - Dave Scatcherd has a fascinating story, which I've linked but the short version is that he was the grandson of Catherine Labatt (daughter of Labatt Breweries founder John Labatt) and was adopted into the family.

Scatcherd did some incredible things - he hosted a show on the CBC and acted in some films. He met his wife Valorie in Hawaii while he was on a golf vacation and the couple lived in the islands and later in Calgary, before moving back to Toronto to help with Labatt's aquisition of the Toronto Blue Jays.

What does this mean for someone visiting the Oakwood? You will see glimpses of the couple's love for Hawaii around the property - like the golf statue of Dave off of the main path of the resort (you'd see lots of statues like this in the islands), or the iconic tiki torches that are lit every evening, creating a very special (and I think, romantic) ambience.

If you're a sports fan, you'll also love all the baseball history here! My husband and I were shocked that the actual bases from the 1992-1993 World Series were turned into stools that you can find in the resort's pub. We loved checking out all the other sports memorabilia too.


This is definitely not your average golf resort!

The rooms are incredibly spacious. We stayed in a suite and loved that there were two washrooms, a newly renovated rain shower and soak in jacuzzi tub. For a closer look at the rooms, check out my Instastory highlights.

I also loved the two fireplaces in our room which made it the perfect place for a little winter escape!

On site, you will also find a great restaurant, spa, saltwater pool, hot tub and lots of winter activities if you're interested in exploring the outdoors!

Where to Eat

Dave's Pub and Grill

I loved the food and the ambience at Dave's at the Oakwood. You will get all the chalet feels with the oak beams, stone fireplace and large windows with views to the snowy outdoors. Grab a plaid blanket to keep your legs warm (I know- so cute!) and order some of their specialities.

We tried the Caprese salad (so fresh!), delicious hot-honey chicken wings and heard great things about the salt and vinegar chip crusted fish and chips.

I also tasted some dishes off of the Chef's tasting menu- mussels in a thai curry and coconut broth - delicious! For dinner, I went with the pork chops with a wild blueberry jus -  which was the perfect blend of savoury and sweet.

Stop in for lunch or dinner. They also have live music on Saturdays.

Note - check out the main dining room at the Oakwood too for a great hot breakfast with a beautiful view of the snow covered golf course.

Highway Girl

This is such a cute spot with a lovely ambience. I wish I could pick up Highway Girl and place it down the street from where I live. I'd probably visit once a week. They specialize in fresh gourmet sandwiches which are truly unbelievable.

I tried their vegan "Healing Soup" made of sweet potato and coconut milk and paired it with an incredible sandwich of portobello, zucchini, spinach, goat cheese and roasted red pepper jelly all on rosemary foccacia.

We also tried turkey, brie, arugula, pesto mayo and balsamic glaze on sourdough and my other favourite: tuna, grapes, apricot, green onion, spinach and mayo on classic white toast.

Highway girl is known for it's vegan and gluten-free baked goods as well as their "bagel bombs"- a round tea biscuit stuffed with meats, cheeses and other ingredients.

Before you go, check out their shop for one of a kind jewellery and health conscious spices, jams and

Maison St. Aubin

A fancy French dinner may be just the thing if you're celebrating a special occasion or a romantic weekend for two. If so, save some time for a drive to Sarnia to visit Marcelle and Eva's Maison St- Aubin. 

You will be transported instantly to a dining room in Paris as you listen to beautiful French music on live piano.

My husband and I shared some delicious butterflied coconut shrimp (made perfectly) with a house salad to start.

For our mains, I went with a rack of lamb with red wine sauce and my husband had the stuffed chicken. Both the dishes were plated so beautifully and you could tell the chef paid close attention to the colours and garnishes. I loved the side dish of a classic french vegetable ratatouille.

If you love art, take a look around. The owner's wife is a stained glass artist. Her work is featured around the restaurant. I especially loved her version of the famous Van Gogh painting - Cafe Terrace at Night.

Things to Do

There are so many things to do in Grand Bend in the summer, and winter is no different. Whether you're into relaxing and taking it easy or if you're more of an adventure-sport type person, there is definitely something for everyone.


Check out the Lakeside Spa at the Oakwood for a little R and R. They offer RMT massages, facials, manis/pedis and other beauty services. They also have a fitness studio on location as well as a heated saltwater pool and a jacuzzi hot tub with views to the snowscape outdoors.

Snowshoeing and Ice Skating

The Oakwood offers lots of different things to do. Get some snowshoes from the front desk and explore the beautiful grounds and trails on the property. You can even walk over to the lake and see if you can catch a magical Grand Bend sunset.

The resort also has an ice rink on site which you can enjoy if you bring your own skates. In the evening, it's lit by pretty vintage string lights. Surrounded by those beautiful trees, covered in snow- you may want to bring some hot chocolate out here even if you don't skate!

Cross-Country Skiing and Hiking

If you're a nature lover like me, you cannot miss the trails at Pinery Provincial Park. When I'm in Grand Bend, I always come here, no matter what the season is, to take in some of Ontario's natural beauty.

The scenery is just spectacular and the drive in alone is enough to make your jaw drop.

Rent some cross-country skis (about $12 per hour, less for children) or snowshoes and explore the great outdoors. There are 10 walking trails,  a 14 km bike trail and over 38 kms of ski trails that would suit all levels of expertise.

Sit by the Fireplace

Hot cocoa and a good book are a must. Take advantage of the peaceful ambience and curl up in a comfy spot for a few hours. I loved the fireplace in the Oakwood's main dining room for this.

Outside of Dave's pub you will also find an outdoor firepit which is another great place to sit and watch the snow fall.

Wine Tasting

What's a romantic getaway without a little vin, n'est ce pas? Ontario's Southwest is an emerging wine region, so getting a great taste (or some bottles to take home), should be on your to do list.

Stop at Darkhorse Winery for picture perfect views of the vineyard and a special experience in their stunning tasting room. Take a look around - this would be an incredible venue for a wedding or other special event.

Personally, I also love to visit family-run wineries too. If you pull up a stool at the tasting bar at Alton Farms Winery, owners Marc and Ann may just tell you a few stories about what starting a winery is all about.

From growing the grapes, to labelling, to serving - they are completely hands-on. I  loved learning about the wine making process from them. Their passion for what they do is clear. They've even added an outdoor patio and pizza oven which is open during the summer.

During the winter, bring some snowshoes and check out the trails behind the winery, the views would be incredible.

When you get back to the wine shop, try their unique Valentine experience, a chocolate truffle and wine tasting. You may also be able to get your hands on their special release for February 14th their Arberarder Wine on Valentine's Day 2018.

Hope you get a chance to visit Grand Bend soon for a magical and romantic winter escape. If you have any favourite spots in the area, I'd love to hear about them! Leave me a comment below or let me know on Instagram @angeliesood

A special thanks to my friends at Ontario Southwest and Ontario's Blue Coast for sponsoring this blog post. As always, all views and opinions are my own.