You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate

sign that says you can't buy happiness but you can buy chocolate which is basically the same thingI’ve discovered a new favourite haunt in Kingston, Cacao 70 on King Street. This popular chocolateatery franchise has several locations in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and opened a restaurant in Kingston last summer.

Cacao bills itself as a unique place to drop by after a hectic day at work or school and relax and share a moment with friends. In addition to its heavenly decadent chocolate menu, it serves sandwiches, salads and boasts a great brunch menu.

Cacao 70 didn’t disappoint.

The minute you walk in the door, you know you’ve entered chocolate heaven. The melding smells of sweet milk and dark chocolate stick to your nostrils and you immediately forget about lunch. Just bring on the dark stuff.

I’ve been to Cacao two times in the last two months, once with my girlfriend Elaine for her birthday, and once with the girls. Elaine and I ordered sandwiches. My chicken salad sandwich was one of the best sandwiches I ever had. Cacao makes their sandwiches on thick, toasted delicious homemade bread. The chicken had an amazing mix of flavours.

chocolate wafflesWe made sure we had room left to split a chocolate birthday fondue. Cacao’s fondues come with fresh fruit, waffle squares and brownie chunks for dipping. One piece of advice: don’t overdip! While it looks like you have this huge bowl of chocolate, it’s really a half-bowl, but in the end we discovered it was the perfect amount as we mopped up the remaining drops of chocolate with our fruit.

The second time I went to Cacao, I took the girls after we packed hampers for the Salvation Army before Christmas for a special Mommy daughter lunch. This time I had a chocolate strawberry crepe. Grace went for it, ordering two chocolate dishes, the chocolate waffles with whipped cream and a chocolate fondue. Everything was decadent.

kids eating chocolate treatsI’m already planning my third trip. Maybe this time I’ll try the chocolate banana pizza, a volcano ice cream cup or a vintage hot chocolate. Oh, the choices.

This week’s #HappyAct is to indulge in a chocolate fantasy meal. Because as the sign says, “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate which is basically the same thing.”

Ed. note: I know writing this at the beginning of January may seem cruel for those of you who hope to lose weight in 2017. I’ve got the perfect solution. Use your chocolate extravaganza experience as an incentive and reward. Stick to your weight loss regime. When you successfully meet your first goal, whether it’s a month of healthy eating, or your first few pounds off, treat yourself to a Cacao dish!

Friends eating chocolate fondue

chocolate crepes

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The gift of time

watch wrapped up as a giftTime is a precious commodity. This weekend, we will receive a rare and special gift: an extra hour in our busy lives.

Here are ten things I never seem to have time for that you can do with your extra 60 minutes from Daylight Savings Time:

  1. Get a head start on your holiday shopping. Adidas and Reebok outlets are featuring 40% off everything in the store this weekend as part of their friends and family event and Indigo has a special 25% promotion on
  2. Go for a long walk in the woods before deer hunting season starts
  3. Sort the stray socks on your dryer and see if you can find a match
  4. Make a prediction for Tuesday night’s U.S. election. Check out sites like oddssharkcom and Paddypower.com, both predicting a 75-90% chance of a Clinton victory
  5. Clean out your pantry or medicine cabinet
  6. Linger with family or friends after a meal over a bottle of wine
  7. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
  8. Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and check your carbon monoxide detectors.
  9. Start the project you keep saying you’ll start but never have time for
  10. Sleep in

Guess which one I’ll be doing? So much for best intentions. What will you do with your extra hour? Leave a comment.

Chase the checkered flag

Girl in go-kart
This pic of Clare says it all

With summer approaching the finish line, we shift gears from lazing on the dock to back to school planning and preparation. But before we cross that finish, we try to squeeze in as many fun activities as possible during those last few laps.

Last weekend we doubled the fun and took our pit crew of eight birthday party goers go-karting.

I’m not a speed demon on the highway. I’m a very responsible driver, but on a go-kart track, all that changes. As soon as they start your engines, I apply full throttle to the gas and speed out of the gate, rallying driving through the course and trying not to brake on the curves.

Mom and girl in a go-kart
Go-kart selfie

It was especially fun watching the kids tear up the track. You can see it on their face. The feeling of power and control of operating their own motorized vehicle, and sheer joy and exhilaration of racing at high speeds and beating the adults. The grins were a mile wide.

I had a flash back while we waiting to go on the track of one girls weekend where we had booked to go tree top trekking at the new rope course and zipline at Santa’s Village in Gravenhurst. The only other time I had been ziplining was in Costa Rica in the mountains and rainforest, so I was pretty disappointed when we arrived and the entire course was in a compound that was barely a few hundred feet wide. It was their opening weekend and they overbooked, so we spent most of our time waiting on the ground or on the tree platforms. I was bored out of my skull in about 10 minutes.

As I’m standing up on the platform in the trees, I can hear the roar of go-karts to the right of me. All I could think of was getting behind the wheel and ripping up the course. I’m ashamed to admit I bailed on my girlfriends and spent the rest of the day on the go-kart track instead of testing my mettle tree trekking.

This week’s #HappyAct is to start your engines and cross the checkered line at your local go-karting track. Plan a few fun things to do this last week of summer. Have fun everyone.

Girl in go-kart
Grace in car 71
Go-karts
A beautiful night for a race

Open a door a day

advent calendarOne of my favourite holiday traditions is counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. It heralds the time to deck the halls, write cards and prepare for the joyous holiday season.

I think I’ve always liked the activities leading up to Christmas more than Christmas itself. I can’t remember ever not having an advent calendar in the house to help build that excitement and anticipation.

I remember years ago backpacking through Europe with my girlfriend June after university. It was December and we were visiting her uncle Ian Kerr in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ian had an advent calendar, and for the days we visited with him, we celebrated by opening up a door a day. For years after, Ian and I exchanged Christmas cards and his message would always be the same—“time to start the advent calendar”. (Ian Kerr from Aberdeen if you’re out there and reading this blog, drop me a line).

This week’s #HappyAct is to buy an advent calendar and open a door a day from now until Christmas. Discover the magic of the season and the chocolate treat behind the door.