Welcome to Pelee Island, My Home Away From Home

In the most southern part of Ontario, in the middle of Lake Erie, there lies an island paradise, that is home to a quaint 235 residents, and some of the nicest and giving people you will ever meet. One of Canada’s best kept secrets, Pelee Island is the retreat you’ve been waiting for (whether you know it or not).

I had the pleasure of traveling to the island for a wonderful girls weekend away with one of my closest and oldest friends, Bailee. We made the 4 hour drive from Barrie, took the 1.5 hour ferry across which you can either drive onto or walk on without your vehicle, and finally stepped onto dry land to immediately appreciate that it was all worth it.

Within the first minute of arriving, your struck by picturesque beauty and an easy going pace that is utterly unique to island life.

We headed over to Comfortech Bicycle Rental to get fitted for our own bikes that would allow us to get around the island with a little more ease, especially when the winery is calling your name. The incredible people at Comfortech have everything you need for a fun and safe ride, and even offer delivery on bike rentals if you’re staying for one day or more and need 2+ bikes. Perfect for those that drive onto the ferry (like us) but still would like the ease of peddling around the scenic roads of the island.

Next stop, the Wandering Dog Inn, run by Kath & Kevin who are the funniest and most welcoming owners I’ve ever met, you’ll feel right at home the minute you arrive. Filled with hysterical and witty signage to help the guests with any burning questions they may have, this inn is absolutely adorable and the ultimate cozy getaway. They offer all the basic amenities, plus a glorious enclosed veranda, lovely sitting rooms, beautiful patios & decks, serene lush greenery surrounding both the main house and the back building which is home to larger suites.

Evenings at the inn are even more relaxing with a bonfire and marshmallows which is surrounded by sturdy muskoka chairs that you’re welcome to curl up in with a blanket, courtesy of the Inn for all their guests who maybe didn’t pack that extra layer or two for the cool island nights.

And don’t worry, for those that are wondering about the name, yes — there is a Wandering Dog, the big man himself, Fred. Who is a big baby and adores attention, you’ll catch his photo all over the inn, and maybe even get the chance to shake paws with the big man himself. Take a minute and have a little chat with this guy if you can, he’s sure to brighten anyone’s day (or hangover).

Speaking of hangover, you won’t want to miss Kathy’s famous deluxe continental breakfast (offered 7 days a week) that is sure to perk you up for round two at the winery or for the unlucky ones, the long drive ahead — think eggs, sausage, fruit, bagels, yogurts, coffee and tea, juice, and more. Call ahead and let her know about any dietary restrictions, they’re super accommodating here (which makes this intolerance filled gal a happy camper).

The infamous Pelee Island Winery Pavillion, is even more breathtaking in person than in the pictures. Bikes line the pathway and you can hear the band playing in the distance. The laughter already floating towards you as you approach the building, you instantly begin to relax. The wine is flowing, a generous 3 samples for free, or 5 samples when you purchase a spot on the tour for a mere $5. This is what vacations are made of, and it’s only just beginning.

We were lucky enough to have the chance to sample nearly every wine on the menu — including some incredible Pelee Island exclusives that can be purchased at the pavillion or through their online shop. Each and every winery staff are trained and extremely knowledgeable about what their pouring. It’s such an enjoyable experience without the stuffiness that you may imagine comes along with a tasting. They believe in keeping things fun and relaxed, which just makes everything that much more enjoyable.

The party doesn’t stop inside though, walk out into the gorgeous wine garden, filled with bright tables, chairs, a massive dance floor upper deck and That Dam Band that somehow transitioned from country to top 40 to motown and RnB. The perfect backdrop for your bottle of wine (or a few). Feeling hungry? Don’t worry, the Deli has you covered at the winery, where you can grab cheeses, meats, bread, and desserts to pair with your wine selections.

It’s a party that you just don’t want to leave, and the kind where by the time you do go, everyone knows you’re name. I swear, this may just be the friendliest place on earth, and as far as Canadians go, that really is saying something.

The most wonderful thing here is that it’s all in the details on the island, from the handmade sugar scrub in the bathrooms, to the original wine press in the middle of the main building, the ice water on tap with fresh orange wedges to help quench your thirst, and the roses mixed in with the grape vines, there’s a certain sense of pride on the island that you just can’t help but admire.

I highly recommend a nap after your wine adventures before dinner, but be careful, Pelee runs on island time and most places stop serving full menu food by 8pm, which was fine by us since we worked up a big appetite exploring. Bunless burgers and more wine at the Westview Tavern was just what the Dr. ordered. Live music is everywhere here in the summer, and you just won’t find someone that wasn’t enjoying themselves.

We somehow timed our dinner perfectly to step outside and into the glorious sunset. I have never seen such a beautiful sunset in this country. It was perfect. People just kinda slow down for it, they savour the moments here, and it’s such a sigh of relief. I try really hard to consciously take a breath and be in the moment, but there’s no trying here — the island just pulls you in and does it for you.

With Saturday being such a success (even that’s an understatement, if you believe it!), we were so excited to see what else Pelee had to offer — and let me tell you, it’s plentiful. After that delicious breakfast at The Wandering Dog, we hopped on our Bikes that were waiting for us at the inn, thanks to Comfortech, and took off in search of some beaches and trails. A gorgeous opening into a rapid tide was perfect to wade through and take a quick dip — but be careful not to swim out here, that water can be rough.

Even if you forgot your suit, ditch the shoes, grab the wine, and dip those toes in for a refresher. Lake Erie is nice and shallow in comparison here, and the water is surprisingly warm for mid - late June.

P.s. privacy is everything here, so don’t worry, be happy.

There’s so many great spots on the island like the museum, the inukshuk, the art gallery, and so much more, but along the way, don’t forget to grab lunch at The Bakery! There’s nothing quite like it on the island, and it’s the perfect spot to sit and unwind with friends. Bike, drive, walk, run, whatever your transportation preference, you gotta make it there for some delicious hand pies, salads, baked goods, and even fudge.

And if you still have room, you NEED to visit Coneheads for a scoop or two before you get back on that ferry and sail away (not forever, don’t worry — I’m already planning on my next trip back!). Dozens of rotating flavours, and even some dairy free sherbet for those lactose-free friends like me. Get there early, locals and visitors alike line up in droves for the best ice cream around. The perfect location, central to the docks, you have a crystal clear view of the lake as you enjoy I enjoyed my rainbow sherbet in the sun — whether you’re splitting your cone or not, it’s the best of times when a moment like that is shared with friends, I promise.

I can honestly say, I’ve never been so sad to leave a place or a group of people I barely knew. I felt like Pelee was home, and we made such fast friends with all that we encountered. It was a bittersweet goodbye that we had to say to Sue Rice of Pelee Island Winery who showed us around, took care of our every want and desire, and was just so amazing in every way. If you’ve ever considered the island as a getaway destination, don’t put it off any longer — book now, and thank me later.

I’ll see you soon Pelee —

-Angie xo

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Angie Taylor
Crystal of the Month - Peach Quartz

She got that ambition baby … By now you all know I am all about that hustle and chasing after my dreams. I will honestly take all the help from all the sources I can get to help me attain my goals. That’s what I love about my Peach Quartz — it’s all about helping us connect our dreams to our realities.

Peach Quartz it’s wonderful for releasing energy blockages within the Sacral and Higher-Heart Chakras. The clearing of these blockages can help one to recover self-respect, independence, creativity, and sociability.

.Meditating with Peach Quartz or placing it under your pillow at night can also help regulate boost your sex drive, and help you focus on the moment during sex.

I also highly recommend carrying Peach Quartz with you when you find it difficult to express yourself emotionally or when you feel that you are lacking in personal power. It can give you much more confidence and focus when trying to communicate.

Stay tuned for next month’s crystal of the month in July!

-Angie xo

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Angie Taylor
My Favourite 5-Minute Rosé Sangria

Now, I don’t know about you, but Sangria is never a planned thing — it’s always a spur of the moment decision, like “hey! let’s make a pitcher of sangria and turn down!” Sometimes you just need to take a step back, relax, and you just don’t have time to let your Sangria ferment for hours! Through many a trial and error, I made the best instant, fresh, and lower sugar (bye bye hangovers) drank.

The key here is loads of fresh citrus, mint, and frozen berries. The more fruit, the better, and don’t get too crazy with juices, they’re not necessary here. Keep it light and fresh, and enjoy some good wine in your sangria so you can really savour that freshness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Lola Rose by Pelee Island Winery

  • 2 cans of Lime Sparkling Water

  • 2 cups mixed frozen berries

  • 1 orange

  • 1 lemon

  • 2 limes

  • 1 cup of mint leaves whole

  • 4-6 oz Rum or Muscat

  • 1 oz Grand Marnier

  • other fruits like peaches or pineapples

How To:

  1. Add citrus and mint to glass pitcher, pour in rum and grand marnier, stir. Add in berries. Let sit for 2 - 3 mins.

  2. Meanwhile, grab your vino and sparkling water. Add to pitcher. Stir. Top with a little ice

  3. Garnish each glass with 1 slice or lime, lemon, orange, sprig of mint, and some berries.

  4. Enjoy with good company !

You can’t go wrong with this summery drink especially when its shared with good friends, over boisterous laughter. Trust me, it makes everything better.

-Angie xo

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Angie Taylor
Piri Piri Chicken

My Famous Piri Piri Chicken has been so constantly requested by everyone, I feel like it’s my new go-to! I’ve done Piri Piri wings, thighs, quarters, and now thanks to West Side Beef a flattened chicken. This bad boy marinates forever, cooks low and slow, and is finished off on the grill for that classic char.

If you don’t have time to blend up your own Piri Piri sauce, I highly recommend PC’s bottled Piri Piri sauce if you want to skip the homemade sauce steps. If you’re up for a 10/10 bang on sauce, check out my recipe below!

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/4 cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup chopped onions

  • ½ medium red pepper

  • 2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers coarsely chopped, seeds removed

  • 5 fresh chili pepper or more coarsely chopped

  • 1.5 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 ½ teaspoon pink himalayan salt plus more to taste.

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 8 garlic cloves

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 4-5 large basil leaves

  • 1-2 tablespoon fresh oregano

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

How To:

  1. Blend red pepper, jalapeno pepper, chilli pepper, garlic, basil , oregano, and onions in a food processor or blender. Add olive oil to facilitate blending. Then mix in smoked paprika, lemon juice black or white pepper and vinegar. Adjust for salt and seasoning. Refrigerate and use when ready

This flattened chicken recipe comes to life with red onions, sweet bell peppers, and some fresh parsley. Make sure you allot yourself 2.5 - 3 hours for this recipe, but don’t worry because you’ll walk away from the oven for large chunks of time while it does its thing.

Ingredients:

How To:

  1. In a large freezer bag or bowl, marinate the chicken in 3/4 of piri piri sauce. Let sit in fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours. I recommend 24 - 30 hours though. Let come up to room temp by removing from fridge 30 - 45 mins before you begin to cook.

  2. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees C.

  3. Add Chicken and sauce to bakeware, bake covered for 1 hour. Baste chicken in sauce and juices. Put back in oven covered for another 45 mins. Baste again. Cook for another 30 mins at 375.

  4. Remove chicken from dish. Add Peppers and onions, cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, baste chicken with remaining piri piri sauce, transfer to grill. Grill until charred on both sides (5-6 mins each side, 3-4 flips, basting in between).

  5. Remove from grill, transfer back to bakeware with peppers and onions.

  6. Serve hot with side salad. Careful — the chicken will be falling apart!

  7. Enjoy!

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Angie Taylor
Perfect Roast Lamb

For mother's Day this year, I cooked up a few of my mamas favourites, which included a beautiful leg of lamb. I don't like messing too much with lb as it is already such a beautiful flavour on its own…

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Angie TaylorComment