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Sisters: our week away at a cottage — suzanne-mcrae.com

Sisters: our week away at a cottage

I just spent week at a beautiful cottage with my sister. My sister had the idea last year that we should do something special to celebrate our special birthdays this spring. I had my birthday a few weeks ago and her’s is next week, so we picked a week in between each of our birthdays to celebrate. We had not spent seven days in a row together since we were young girls and still lived at home… that’s almost four decades ago. We do see each other regularly since we only live an hour apart.

She initially had the idea of us walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain after reading and hearing about it. I’m not convinced anymore that I will ever choose to walk it. The burning desire to do this is simply not there. We have a cousin that has gone to Spain to walk the Camino, she has been there for the past week and I also know of an online friend who just left to walk for a few months alone. Then we thought of visiting Sedona but in the end chose to book a cottage in the province of Quebec for seven days.

As I prepared to leave for a week, I had the dilemma of bringing only what I truly needed. This is not a skill I have mastered and probably never will. I was thankful that I was not packing to walk the Camino because then I would have brought only 15-20 lbs of belongings instead of what I brought to the cottage.

ice on the lake

Ice on the lake the day we arrived… it was all melted by the next day

Dragonfly Cottage

creative garden

An artists creative garden!



Our friend the groundhog who came out enough for me to take his photo


The ducks swimming close-by

Trees waking up after a long winter

Trees waking up after a long winter


Canoe and kayaks… we didn’t risk going out on the lake since we are non-swimmers

The trees were coming to life!

In bloom!

In bloom!

These little tree blooms were stunningly beautiful!

These little tree blooms were stunningly beautiful!

We walked daily for an hour or more. There weren’t any flat areas on those mountain roads. We had some good size hills to climb it was a good workout for our heart.

steep road

This was the steepest road we walked, about a kilometer of very steep walking. A great workout.

After we got back from this walk that day, I made this yummy Strawberry Yogurt Freeze since it was the hottest day and we had done a good workout. I made this treat in my Vitamix… 1 cup nonfat yogurt, 1 pound (454 g) frozen unsweetened strawberries, and a bit of agave. Place all these ingredients in your Vitamix, select variable speed 1 then quickly turn to 10 and then high, using the tamper to press ingredients into the blades for 30-60 seconds until the sound of the motor will change. Stop machine immediately when the sound changes and your treat is ready!

strawberry treat

Our treat after the steep walk up the mountain road on a hot day.

the barn

The barn across the road. I love old barns. In the morning the sun would glow on the barn.

frog pond

In this pond we would see a few beavers and if we walked by in the evening the frog sounds were incredibly loud.

A glimpse of the sun!

A glimpse of the sun!

Sunset over the mountains... on our way back from a late evening walk.

Sunset over the mountains… on our way back from a late evening walk, reflecting on the clouds.

The snow had not all melted when we arrived at the cottage. We were surprised since the snow in our area less than a few hours away had melted probably a few weeks earlier.

spring snowman

The little spring snowman we made when going for our walk the day before our vacation ended. Our little snowman didn’t last very long that day, it melted very quickly.

Some stunning views of the lake… these next few photos my sister captured. She woke up before me that morning and saw the most beautiful, serene, calm, mystical sights…

My sister captured this stunning photo early one morning.

My sister captured this stunning photo early one morning.

Another stunning photo taken by my sister.

Another stunning photo taken by my sister.

the lake

the dock at the lake

Sunrise on the lake!

Sunrise on the lake!

Our meals were all planned ahead of time. We had pre-determined who was making what meals, each bringing what was needed. I was reminded a few times that it would only be the two of us there to eat that week. I tend to always cook too much. By the end of the week, we were both very impressed that we had planned our meals very well, not much left to bring back with us.

There’s not one meal that wasn’t awesome… we even had some wine… we even tried making margarita’s in my Vitamix. We ate well… and mostly very healthy all week, well with exception of a bit of wine and a few margaritas. 🙂 My sister is a wonderful cook. I had to test my cooking skills last week, normally my daughter makes dinner at home so I have been out of practice for a few years but I surprised myself with my cooking skills. I’m hoping that some of my sister’s love for food and cooking has rubbed off on me. I would love to be like my two brothers and my sister and learn how to be a great cook.

Beautiful kitchen light!

Beautiful kitchen light!

Our view from the kitchen!

Our view from the dining room!

Breakfast - omelet

Breakfast – omelet


My sister had bought organic pacific salmon... I had never eaten fish this good.

My sister had bought organic pacific salmon… I had never eaten salmon that tasted this good, ever!

Water with lemon and mint

Water with lemon and mint

I had never made or drank a Margarita before. I suggested to my sister that we make them since I had found what I thought to be a healthy recipe. She had the Tequila and a substitute for the Grand Marnier and I brought the rest of the ingredients. The recipe to be made in a Vitamix was called Whole Fruit Margarita and it sounded healthy to me (with exception of the liquor): 1 medium orange, 1 lemon peeled and seeded, 1 lime peeled and seeded, 3 tbsp sugar, 1 oz water, 3 oz Tequila, 1 oz Grand Marnier and 3 cups of ice cubes… place all  ingredients in the Vitamix in listed order starting it on slow speed and quickly putting it on 10 then on high. Blend for 45 seconds using the tamper to press ingredients into the blades. You can pour into salt-rimmed margarita glasses… we used what we had and did not use salt on the rim. The drink turned out orange instead of green like they showed. I don’t have an answer to why it wasn’t green. But it was DELICIOUS!! 🙂

orange Margarita!

orange Margarita!

This salad was incredibly good. Here's the recipe http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2010/11/two-minute-tahini-apple-salad-vegan.html

This salad that I made was incredibly good. I have it on my Pinterest Food board but you can also find the recipe here –  http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2010/11/two-minute-tahini-apple-salad-vegan.html

Last week I rested like I had not done in a very long time. Some days I would have an hour mid-morning snooze and in the afternoon a few days I had 3-hour snoozes and went to bed around 9-11 pm at night instead of several hours later. I felt almost like a newborn baby on those days. I heard nothing. I simply allowed myself to drift away into deep sleep. As you can see my sister had a great sense of humour photographing me as I slept and heard nothing. This is probably the best shot you’ll get, the others weren’t as glamorous. 🙂

This was my favourite place to sleep as you can see. This was on one of those days where I slept for 3 hours. :)

This was one comfy hammock!

As you may have figured out by now the cottage we rented was named Dragonfly Cottage… there were dragonfly items everywhere…

Beautiful dried flowers in Dragonfly container/vase

Beautiful dried flowers in Dragonfly container/vase





My week away was truly heavenly. It gave me a lot of time with my sister and get to know her better as an adult. We did lots of laughing, walking, wine drinking, eating awesome meals together… we even declared one of those days, a day of silence… well that lasted until dinnertime because we both felt like talking. That day I felt time almost standstill, it was incredible.

Last week I gave myself permission to completely let go of any worries and responsibilities that I had. Everything was being taken care of on the home front. It truly was a week of self-nurturing and listening to my body. I have had an intense 3 months with a healing reaction/crisis with my Heilkunst treatment that just doesn’t want to leave, or maybe I am somehow sub-consciously holding on to or unable to move through easily. This quiet time I used to reflect and begin to listen more attentively to what was happening in my body so I can hopefully resolve this right now. I will write more on this later.

I could not have asked for a more perfect week. I came back so relaxed that it took me several days to pick up the pace so I could accomplish something at home. I have not felt this relaxed and rested in a long time.

Share with us some of your fondest memories of going to a cottage!

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  1. Can I carry your luggage the next time you go away? This looks like a week in heaven! I’m so glad you got a chance to relax and recharge. Back in 2007 we went to Scotland as a family. A cottage near Inverness. It was bliss. Beautiful scenery, nice people, great sights. Your photographs are wonderful. thanks for sharing!
    Maryse recently posted..Announcement 2My Profile

    • Hi Maryse, the trip that you made to Scotland with your family sounds wonderful. We wish to go there also eventually. My husband’s ancestors came from there. I will know who to ask for a bit of advice when the time comes. 😉

  2. Oh, the food you prepared looks so delicious!
    My favourite cottage memories are being out on the boat with my love.. missing those days now that we have little ones to look after, but those days will come again soon. 🙂
    Lina recently posted..A Glimpse into the Future of Education: The Khan AcademyMy Profile

  3. Dawn Conery says:

    Suzanne, I am so thrilled that you got to spend such quality time with yourself and your sister at the cottage. The pictures were wonderful to look at and I always love your writing. I would not mind having that hammock either! I have been fortunate enough to spend many many days of my life at lake and ocean side cottages over the years. There is nothing quite like it. Ed and I live in a beautiful log Hhome on the lake now, we call it camp, but that seems to be mostly a Maine or New England term. It is on Squirrel Cove on Pushaw Lake. We have all the ammenities of home but no TV (we never watch TV anyway), tons of books, kayaks, sailboat, pontoon boat, paddle boat and floaties. We take walks down the dirt road along the lake most days, sit on the porch and read or watch the sunset or the sunshine dance on the lake under the pine trees. I love to paint out there. Lots of loons, eagles, ducks, muskrats, black bear, moose and of course our two kitties. Just walking into camp after being away for a day and smelling the pine logs is such a treat! Sit by the fireplace at nite and sleep in the loft. Life is good and I am so fortunate! Thank you for sharing your special time, makes me appreciate and see mine with new eyes. Huggs.

    • Dawn, you are so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so much time by a lake or the ocean. I don’t realize how much I miss not living near the water until I get to spend time there. It is so nurturing and energizing not to mention relaxing. I absolutely loved hearing about your home/cabin by the lake where you live. It sounds absolutely heavenly. The only part I would be nervous about is the black bears. 🙂 Thank you for sharing about the many blessings you are enjoying in your life. xo

  4. Thanks for sharing your sister week with us. I felt like I was there — you made it seem so real.

  5. This week away sounds amazing! How lovely that you got to really spend that much time together! And I’m impressed that you took such care with your meals. I probably would have gone with sandwiches every day!
    Naomi recently posted..May flower challengeMy Profile

    • Thank you Naomi for coming over to read my post. My sister is amazing when it comes to meal planning and preparation. It’s her passion to prepare and eat good meals. I was very lucky. 🙂

  6. Kathy Anne says:

    Breathing, mystical, and insightful all in one. How nice you and your sister had this week away to bond and reconnect. Resting was very good for you. I dream of doing that someday. The day of silence intrigues me too. Thank you for sharing your peaceful escape. Kathy

  7. Your retreat sounded amazing! I could just picture you sitting out on the dock…pen, journal and camera in hand! Perhaps you’ll invest in one of those comfy hammocks for your home.

    Our last cottage time was in a very rustic, tiny structure outside Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington state. We could hear the glacier river close by. It was so restful and I loved scrapbooking as I sat my the large picture window.
    Ruth Packard recently posted..The Tango TossMy Profile

    • Hi Ruth, I would certainly love to invest in one of those hammocks for at home. The one I bought my husband when were dating finally gave out last year and had to be put to rest. So we are due to have another one I agree. 🙂 I love how you described your last cottage time in Washington state. It sounds absolutely heavenly, to hear the glacier river and to have the opportunity to scrapbook by the window. Thanks for visiting and reading my post. xo

  8. What a beautiful cottage, location, and trip! I think it is wonderful you and your sister had this opportunity to slow down and enjoy each other. Too often we stay just as busy on our “vacations” as we do at home. I’m glad it was such a relaxing and renewing experience for you. And your photos are lovely!

  9. Oh Suzanne – what a wonderful retreat! It sounds so lovely and so healing and so nourishing on all levels. And it was a real treat to see all those gorgeous photos. The scenery is magnificent, but it was a delight seeing you resting so soundly in that lovely hammock. And that adorable little snowman – how perfect! May the blessings of that time away stay with you and continue to nurture you.

  10. I don’t have a sister so it was beautiful to read what reconnecting with one might feel like. I am glad you had a restful week, recharging before the spring growth.
    suzi recently posted..Leap!My Profile

    • Suzi, I guess I never give it a second thought that there are other woman that don’t have a sister, my daughter included. I feel blessed in so many ways.

  11. I have so many things to say to this post. First, I got teary reading it for several reasons. One, my sisters and I (I have three) have talked about doing a sister trip for a long time and JUST YESTERDAY we finally set a date! I used to live with one of my sisters and that was some of my most precious memories.

    I also had to laugh imagining you porting that Vitamix around Santiago. LOL. Yeah, some things are not meant for portable travel but I am glad that you fit the Vitamix in. Sounds like it was an important member of the group.

    I loved your photos. I was thinking about how cute it was that you had dragonflies everywhere. My husband and I go to a healer’s retreat several times a year and we stay in a little A frame cottage. It is very rustic there and they have a fish stuffed animal on the couch that is always there when we return. I love that thing. I snuggle it while I am reading a book during my relaxing weekend.

    I am also so happy to see that you got some rest. Rest can do amazing things for our soul.
    Amy Putkonen recently posted..The Perfectly ImperfectMy Profile

    • Amy, I am just so happy to hear that you have just booked a trip with your sisters. You are going to have so much fun, there’s no doubt.

      If I ever did do the Santiago walk, the Vitamix would have to stay behind I think. LOL This vacation I made absolutely sure that it was packed and by the door. I was not leaving it at home even though my daughter would have loved me to. 🙂

      The retreat you do with your husband several times a year sounds heavenly. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  12. Barbara Michel says:

    Great to read about such a deliciously restorative retreat Suzanne 🙂 Sounds perfect in every way. And how blessed you are to have a sister that you can share and connect with in such intimate ways. What a memory to treasure! Your cooking and margarita adventures sounded terrific too! I’m a sucker for those darn drinks…in fact we’re in Austin TX doing some house hunting. Had to relax tonight with a couple of them…along with some creative latin fare. Yum!

    • Barbara, thanks for dropping by to read and leave a comment. How’s the house hunting going? Good luck with that, hope you find what you are looking for.

  13. it relaxes me just to read of your getaway
    and how beautiful and yummy and peaceful
    ….i feel like a nap:)
    so glad for you and your sister
    (and really inspired to try this with mine some day)
    Jennifer Richardson recently posted..heaven humming….My Profile

  14. Can we go back? Just reading your blog brought back all the great wonders of our week away. All to say, we didn’t have to fly anywhere or spend outrageous amount of money to have an amazing vacation. It was great re-connecting. Where to next?

    • I would love to go back. 🙂 I’m not sure yet where to next. But I am sure the wheels will be turning and we will thinking about what destination will be next for us. I loved our getaway very much and re-connecting with you. Why did we wait this long? xo

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