Thursday, June 24, 2010
This is going to be the best Canada Day ever! Why? We are still bursting with pride from the recent Olympic games. Most of us can still close our eyes and hear the Nikki Yanofksy song, “I Believe”. We can still remember exactly where we were when the overtime goal was scored in the Canada versus U.S.A. men’s final hockey game. We can still see the tears on the face of Canadian Ladies Figure Skater Joannie Rochette as she finished her short program. We can still feel the excitement from when Kevin Martin threw his final stone to win gold and lastly, we can still hear the strains of O’Canada as our flag was raised many times during the games.
Come on folks….let’s make this 2010 Canada Day Gold Medal Worthy.
Wave your maple leaf – Flags are on sale everywhere right now. Proudly display your Canadian Flag. If you can’t display a flag, buy a pin and wear it on your lapel or hat.
Break into Song – We have incredible Canadian musicians. Create a nostalgic play list of Canadian favourites by encouraging your guests to think back…..way back to the year they were born and choose a Top 40 single from a Canadian Artist. I can imagine that it will end up being quite an eclectic mix of tunes…..everything from “Four Strong Winds” by Ian and Sylvia Tyson to “My Heart will go on” by Celine Dion.
Set the Scene – A clean, freshly ironed, white cotton flat sheet can double as a table-covering. The simple centerpiece can be a grouping of large and small clear glass jars, some can contain sand and soy votive/pillar candles (beware – jars can become very hot), others inexpensive red and white carnations. Wrap some of the jars with ribbon…..think red and white with possibly a twist a la aqua or chartreuse. Fruit can also make an impact on the table. In keeping with our colour theme, what about cylinder vases filled with red apples or green limes!
Hail Caesar? – Did you know that the delicious drink, the “Bloody Caesar” was invented by a Canadian in 1969 at the Owl’s Nest Bar in Calgary (source Wikipedia). The traditional Caesar contains vodka, clamato juice, and seasoning. Garnish it with dill pickles, hot peppers, pickled carrots or asparagus. My personal favourite is pickled beans!
Share some trivia – Research some random pieces of Canadian trivia and stump your guests at your party. What about, “What is Canada’s longest river” or “Whose face is on the Canadian 100 dollar bill?”
A bit of “Tim Bit” Heaven – Let’s face it, Tim Horton’s is a Canadian past time. Try this Tim Bit Dessert on July 1st.
You will need: Large Box of chocolate Tim Bits, wooden skewers, fresh strawberries and powdered sugar for dusting.
Instructions: wash, dry and hull the strawberries, thread the Tim Bits and the strawberries alternating until you have three of each on every skewer, lay on a platter and dust with powdered sugar! Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately with…what else but Tim Horton’s coffee.
Dress the part – Encourage everyone to wear a bit of red
Movie Time – watch a movie with a memorable Canuck actor, like John Candy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.
Join the party – Participate in local Canada Day celebrations.
Show them a good time – There are many visitors from other countries traveling through our communities during the summer. Take a moment on July 1st to share your Canadian pride with them.
Happy Canada Day!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Hidden Fun on Father's Day!
Are there any father’s out there who don’t enjoy cool gadgets and the rush of an adventure?
This Father’s Day discover Geocaching! A worldwide, high-tech treasure hunting game played by curious individuals armed with a handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. After logging onto www.geocaching.com (The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site), you can look for geocache coordinates in the area that you are interested hunting in. A typical cache is a waterproof container containing a logbook and maybe even “treasure”, usually small items of little value. The cache’s are listed according to difficulty, family friendly locations, terrain, etc. You enter the coordinates (longitude and latitude) of the hidden cache into your GPS and then go searching for it. The geocaching.com website contains all the information required to begin, including geocaching “etiquette”.
What do you do when you find a cache? Well, high fives all around that is for sure…..great job! The rule is that you never take anything out unless you replace it with something else. There generally is a small guest logbook in the container that you can record comments in.
There are many different types of GPS receiver’s on the market right now with various price points. When you are at the store, discuss what your needs are with the sales person and they should be able to steer you in the right direction. Explain that you are going to use it for geocaching. The Apple iphone can also be used….like they say, “there is an App for that” .
Here are some tips for planning your very own Father’s Day “Geocache Adventure”
· Pick an easy location to start - This is your first trip out, so pick a location that is easily accessible with a low difficulty rating. You want this to be a positive learning experience for everyone.
· Be sneaky about it! – this is a surprise, so you will have to be a little discreet when learning all there is to know about geocaching on the website.
· Get the kids involved! – Kids love a treasure hunt and will be as excited as you are.
· Make sure that you have looked after all of the safety stuff such as making sure that your cell phone is charged, plenty of gas in your vehicle, extra batteries for GPS, let someone know where you are going, pack an emergency kit, spare tire, etc.
· Prepare a picnic – Treasure Hunters get hungry, so prepare a picnic lunch with some of Dad’s favourite items. Be Green….pack your picnic in reusable containers and bring “finger” food which doesn’t require plates or cutlery.
· Bring a bag to pick up any trash you come across. “Cache in, Trash Out” is the motto
· Don’t Idle – Turn off your vehicle when parked
· Record your mileage – Knowing your mileage for the day gives you the option of purchasing carbon offsets to assist you in reducing the carbon footprint of your Father’s Day adventure.
· A trail of Breadcrumbs - If you need to walk any distance, mark your vehicle as a waypoint on your GPS so that you do not get lost!
· Be Patient & Persistent – Oftentimes the cache is not going to be in plain site so you are going to have to look around for it. Technically, it should be within 3-5 metres of the coordinates (A big thank you to Cathy for this tip).
· Say Cheese! – Make sure that you bring a camera or digital video camera to document the trip. The geocaching.com website encourages you to upload pictures from your adventures!
· Have fun…lots of fun – This is quality family time folks…enjoy it and enjoy the great outdoors!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Any time you are planning an event with a lot of emotion tied to it, there is going to be stress. Graduation is one of those events in life. As a graduate you are stressed about what to wear, your date, the transportation choice for the “red carpet” entrance, your corsage or boutonnière, your hair, etc. As the parent (who is usually the party planner), you are stressed about wanting to create a nice day for your graduate, coupled with the fact that he/she is “all grown up” and that makes you a little wistful for the diaper days….. Tears are to be expected.
When I trained for my first marathon, I told everyone that my goal was to finish “upright and smiling”. So, for all of you parents planning graduation festivities for your children, let’s give you some tips so that you can finish “upright and smiling”.
§ Make a note…a “thank you” note: Think about how you are going to say thank you before you say thank you. Encourage the graduate to create a thank you card perhaps using a personal photo scanned into the home computer. Ensure that these thank you notes are completed and delivered in the days immediately following graduation.
§ Accept help when offered: When your friend or neighbour offers to lend a hand, accept it graciously. When my children graduated, my friend Sue spent hours preparing meat trays and cutting up vegetables. She also did my dishes, which was no small feat!
§ Hire a housekeeper: If you can afford it, hire a housekeeper who can come clean a couple of days before the party. You won’t regret it!
§ Make up the bed in the RV: The RV can become an additional bedroom when entertaining out of town guests. Don’t forget to ensure that the heater is working as the evening may get chilly and you don’t want your guests shivering all night. Another nice touch is to have a small coffee maker in the trailer all ready to go so that in the morning they can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee before coming inside.
§ Plan ahead: Make sure that you have enough chairs, dishes, glasses, etc. for everyone who is attending. If you don’t have enough or are “close”, borrow from friends. Have them bring the item(s) over the day before so you are not scrambling at the last minute.
§ Stay Cool: You WILL run out of room in the refrigerator. Borrow coolers ahead of time, they will become temporary refrigeration.
§ Prep ahead: Plan your menu so that you aren’t stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Create a menu where some items can be prepared in the days leading up to the event and then frozen. The food can then be reheated in slow-cookers which double as serving dishes.
§ Don’t forget the ice! Purchase it ahead of time. If it is a nice weekend, you will go through lots of ice just for the beverages and no one is going to have time to keep refilling ice trays. Ice is also needed to keep dishes like potato salad at the correct temperature. Here is a trick for you. Find a clean, plastic storage tub “lid” that is at least 3 inches deep. The lid now goes onto your table and you fill it with ice, becoming a “cooling” tray for your shrimp, salads, etc. Just nestle the bowls in the ice!
§ Bring the inside outside! If you are entertaining on the deck, don’t be shy about bringing some non-traditional items outside to create a cozy atmosphere. Table lamps look spectacular outside!
§ Create opportunities: Friends and family are going to come to the event to see the graduate in his/her finery and to wish them well. Make sure that you have created this opportunity. Set up an old fashioned “photo booth” so that everyone can get a photo of the graduate. A simple backdrop, seating and voila! Photo booth a la grad 2010.
§ Comfortable yet chic: This isn’t the time to break in new shoes…., dress comfortably but at the same time, dress to impress. Remember, you will be in many of the photos too!
§ Drink with care: As much as you would love to relax with a large glass of wine, remember you are on speed dial for your graduate. They need to be able to call you for a ride if necessary and drinking and driving is a no-no.