Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Few Pleasant Surprises

Don't you love it when life throws you a pleasant surprise.  Well I had two this past weekend. We just had a three day weekend due to the new Ontario Family Day holiday.  We didn't have any grand plans, just some lovely relaxing time.  I made a couple of suggestions to the kids as to things we could do - go to the Art Gallery of Ontario or have chocolate fondue. The answer was "Yes please" so go to the AGO and have chocolate fondue we did.

Going to the AGO is a wonderful experience, but I always have to brace myself a bit for the sticker shock of the admission price.  For myself and Kate and William the admission price was going to be $49 along with the cost of parking.  However - here's one of the weekend's pleasant surprises - both William and Kate got in for free because they are under 25 years of age and several major sponsors (including Scotia Bank) have donated enough to allow young visitors to get in for free.  When I went to pay for my ticket she took $2.50 off the price because I was paying with a Scotia Bank card and Scotia Bank is one of the AGO's major supporters.  So instead of paying $49, I paid $16.50. Yeah Scotia Bank (that may be a first - me cheering for a bank).

The Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Court exhibit (you can see some of the images here) was magnificent, especially the silver carriage and the traditional outfits.  I so wish you could take photographs in the exhibit to share with you.  I borrowed the following three photos from the AGO blog (here) so you can see the gorgeous landau carriage with the plants and animals decorating it.

There was also a fantastic exhibit of prints by David Blackwood depicting life in the poor outposts of Newfoundland.   Really the two exhibits could not have been more different - one dealing with the excesses and riches of royal families in a warm climate, and the other depicting the struggles of the poor, hard-working fishermen and their families in a cold, damp maritime land.  

Detail of the Black Ice by David Blackwood
S. S. Imogene Leaving for the Icefields, by David Blackwood

The next day we had our chocolate fondue.  I've never made one before because we didn't own one of those special ceramic pots with a place for a tea light to go under it.  I tried to buy a chocolate fondue pot at the grocery store, but didn't feel like forking (get it - forking!) over $30 for a set so I decided we would just put it in a regular bowl and re-microwave it if we needed to.   And my second pleasant surprise of the weekend - it worked!  Maybe that's because it didn't have time to solidify.  I'm just saying.

Bowls of kiwi, half mini donuts, bananas, pineapple, strawberries, and marshmallows

I melted an entire box of Baker's semi-sweet chocolate squares and had read that you should add some table cream.  Well I didn't have any so I added skim milk.  Yes, I know it was diet chocolate fondue.  I have to say it was delicious and tasted as good as any I have previously had.  Have a look at the action shot below.  I think that speaks for itself.

Fun activities and nice surprises to celebrate our long weekend.


  1. That chocolate fondue looks so good. I haven't had any in a long time. Maybe I need to make some here. So, what is the new holiday about?

  2. Wow that carriage looks amazing, such intricate silver work! And the black ice images are in stark contrast to the opulence of the royals. The fondue looks delicious and it's clear everyone enjoyed it!

    Glad you had such a nice weekend full of great surprises!

    Kat :)

  3. Mmmmm, chocolate fondue! Love it....I would have enjoyed the Indian display...looks wonderful.

  4. Now that sounds like a good use of time! Thanks for sharing! The museum looks like fun and you can't beat fondue! I need to do that soon. My sister keeps asking for chocolate covered....bacon. LOL :)

  5. Wow! I like your family day better than mine! Mine was spent at home with a sick boy and then a trip to the ER where we announced our presence with a BIG throw up on the floor! lol! Fantastic exhibitions at AGO and that chocolate fondue sure looks yummy! Glad you had a terrific day! Angie xo

  6. You win the prize for the coolest weekend, Grace. I am glad you had such a nice time. I would have loved the art exhibit, and fondue is one of my favorite pastimes, LOL!!!

  7. Hi there Grace - just wanted to pop in and say hello as well as thanking you for joining my blog!
    After reading about your day out, I know I'll enjoy catching up on your life over in Canada.
    PS What are those yummy-looking things next to the bananas?

  8. NS doesn't have a holiday like yours (and we all complain every year in February!).

    I got to visit the AGO fall 2009 when I went to visit my daughter in Toronto. I absolutely loved it. And although I haven't had chocolate fondue for a while, it sure looks good. I think I'll get out my little pot and give it a go.

  9. I love the idea of this holiday and you certainly did a good job enjoying it as a family! I have not been to your museum for many years now but I was always impressed with the quality in the past.

  10. I sent a message on your Facebook -very good idea for an outing! The AGO trip looks very interesting - as well as the chocolate. Touché to you!