How To Ward Off The Winter Blues

While Ontario is home to lush landscapes with diverse plant and animal species, it is also a victim of winter’s cold and dark days. While the lead up to the winter with preparing for festivities can be joyful, and the end leading into spring is exciting, the middle months of January and February can be long and arduous. 

For many people who live in the Blue Mountain and Collingwood area, winter is usually filled with long days at the ski hills and friendly banter next to blazing wood fires. However, with the pandemic in full force, people no longer have access to outlets that would usually keep them sane during these months. 

Outlined below are a few measures you can take to boost your mental health so you can forcefully take on the months ahead. 

Virtual Exercise Classes

One of the best ways to increase your mood during the winter and fend off the winter blues is through exercise. Through exercise, your body produces endorphins, which can have incredible effects on your brain. While getting exercise in the winter is difficult, especially with gyms being closed, you will have to think outside of the box. 

Following an online video exercise class can be useful. Still, the live feedback you would gain from an in-person class is usually a primary motivator for people who wouldn’t typically work out independently. However, how many fitness instructors are scheduling online, live virtual lessons. You connect your camera, and they can see and give feedback while you follow along in your living room. 

Eat Healthy Foods

You are probably eating raw fruits and veggies throughout the summer, going outside often, and breathing in the fresh air, but these behaviors tend to disappear in the winter. People often adopt unhealthy eating habits throughout the winter, eating heavily processed foods high in sugar, salt, and chemical additives. When you eat this way for a prolonged period, it can severely impact your mood. 

By subbing out processed foods with whole raw ingredients, you will notice that your mental state improves. You can look up some new recipes or speak to someone you know who eats healthily for some help. While it can take time to change up your diet, with a bit of determination, you will come to see it is well worth the effort. 

Try Supplements

If you are eating healthy but still find you are not getting all the minerals and nutrients you need, try supplements. Most people lack vitamin D during the winter, affecting mood, the immune system, and several other bodily processes. 

By adding a few vitamin D drops into your water each morning, you can combat the deficiency. There are also several other vitamins and minerals like B12 and magnesium that can help support mood. If you speak to your healthcare practitioner, they can steer you in the right direction. 

Defending yourself from the winter blues requires an adjustment. You need to carve out time during your day to prioritize mental health. By exercising, eating right, and supplementing, you will feel incredible by the time spring arrives when you can go out and enjoy your neighbourhood

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Foraging In Collingwood: 3 Edible Wild Plants You Can Find In Ontario

For many households, the pandemic has initiated an interest in culinary experimentation. People are busting out old cookbooks and looking to get creative in the kitchen. From sourdough starters to banana bread, the cooking trend has been growing, especially now that it is winter and people are spending even more time indoors. But did you ever think of using foraged ingredients in your meals?

One of the best things about living in Ontario, especially in the Collingwood Area, is the proximity to wild forests and beautiful beaches. These wild landscapes are home to a diverse network of plants that are not only beautiful to look at but edible. Foraging in Ontario has become more popular, and people are doing their research now during the winter to get ready when the vegetation starts to bud in the spring. 

If you are interested in trying your hand at Collingwood foraging, you will want to know which plants to choose. Once the warmer weather comes along, get out your wicker basket and head into the woods with your best pair of garden shears. 

Maple Blossoms

Almost every Canadian is familiar with maple syrup, but maple blossoms are not as well-known, especially when eating. Maple blossoms grow in the spring, and they are most prominent before the actual leaves begin to form. These are said to be sweet, and crunchy, and best served covered in batter and fried. You can also try and pickle them and eat them at a later time. Make sure to search for some reference photos, so you know you are picking the right ones. 

Dandelion

An unknown superfood, dandelions are very common throughout Ontario. These yellow-flowered plants are not only delicious but extremely nutritious with a hefty amount of antioxidants. When picking dandelions, make sure to do so in wild areas rather than in urban areas as there may be pesticides. You can throw the leaves in a salad, use the stems as a pasta- substitute, and add the flowers to a stir-fry.

Mulberries

Mulberry trees are prominent throughout Ontario. These large trees can yield tons of berries every spring and summer, but many do not realize they are edible. These tart delicacies are perfect for adding to a summer pie or your favorite jam recipe. They tend to look similar to a blackberry but can come in red and lighter shades as well. A reference photo will be your best friend as you hunt for these sweet treats. 

With a wildlife oasis in your backyard, you should start getting ready for the many activities you will get to explore when springtime arrives in Collingwood.

While it may be cold now, the winter will breeze by in no time. When it does, you can get ready to pick some delicious maple blossoms, some healthy dandelions, and sweet mulberries. You could even make a salad combining all three.

Make sure that you always do your research before picking edible plants. These three tend to be very distinct and safe, but many others could pose health risks. 

 

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How to Protect your Home in the Bitter Cold

As if the snow wasn’t enough, Old Man Winter has certainly made his presence known with the freezing temperatures and wind-chill that are currently overtaking the Collingwood region.  And while you may do a good job of bundling yourself and your kids up, have you considered your house? The cold temperatures and biting wind can be very damaging to your home, and it’s worth putting in some time to focus on protecting it from the nasty winter weather.

 

Focus on Insulation

Poor insulation within your house allows cold air to enter, creates drafty areas, and can lead to moisture from rain and snow getting inside. You can purchase new insulation strips to add around the outside of doors and windows and this will prevent drafty winds from blowing through, as well as reduce unwanted moisture from melting snow and condensation from seeping in. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to use expandable foam filler to seal any cracks, in your walls or foundation, especially those that lead to the outdoors. Finally, ensure all windows and doors have functioning locks on them, and use them during winter windstorms. This minimizes the risk of the windows and doors accidentally blowing open, allowing cold air and snow to enter your home and cause damage.

winter house in Collingwood

Focus on your Pipes

If you are at home and are regularly running water and using the pipes throughout your house, there is minimal risk of the pipes bursting or freezing. However, if you have pipes in an area of your house that is not well insulated and not used very often, or you go away during the winter, there may be a bigger risk of damage. In the area of the house which you don’t heat, or don’t use regularly, make it a habit to frequently turn on the tap and run water through the pipes. You may also want to turn on the thermostat occasionally to maintain a suitable room temperature. Likewise, if you are going out of town, program your thermostat to turn on if the temperature in the room drops below a certain value, or have someone stop in at your house and warm it up for you to protect your pipes.

 

Focus on the Exterior

While it is important to monitor the pipes and insulation on the inside, what is happening on the exterior of your house is critical as well.  Always try to clear snow from your walkway and steps to ensure it doesn’t build up and become icy and hazardous. If there is a particularly large amount of snow or ice, be mindful of rooftops and awnings and watch for signs of weakening due to weight, such as buckling, bending and cracking. If necessary, and it is safe, remove snow and ice from rooftops that you feel may be at risk, or which aren’t clearing up on their own.

 

Cold weather is the perfect time to curl up inside with a blanket, a book, and a hot cup of tea.  With these preventative tasks taken care of, you can relax without worrying about how the cold weather will affect your home, and instead just focus on trying to stay warm and enjoying the beauty of winter.

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How to Prepare for Snow Days this Winter

With winter officially here, and the New Year upon us, it will soon be time to start back up at school for the 2018 year.  And with those two combined, comes the threat of snow days, stormy weather and school cancellations.  Take these steps over the holiday break to prepare for the impending snow days in the New Year and know what to do so that you can initiate your action plan at a moment’s notice.

Get the Information

The most important thing when it comes to a snow day is to be informed.  This means to check the weather forecast and its predicted severity, as well as to inform yourself about what is closed or cancelled.  The local radio station is a good place to do this, and they will likely have regularly updating reports, as well as weather forecasts.  School websites typically post when school is cancelled on their website, and for other businesses or locations, visit their website as well to see if it has been updated.  In addition, social media options, such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to see up to the minute information.  Finally, for school bus cancellations, you can view the Simcoe County Bus Information website.

Do something fun

Instead of seeing snow days as a cause of stress, or an unexpected burden, look at them as a chance to have some fun or do some things that you wouldn’t regularly get to do on a typical Tuesday or Wednesday.  If you have young kids, and are able to take the day off work, this will give you an uninterrupted day together, where you can do crafts, play games, bake treats, or maybe even play out in the snow if the weather subsides later in the day.  To set you up for this, get a container and create the “Snow Day Basket.”  In it, you can put things like arts and crafts supplies, a deck of cards, or a few board games.  You can also have a similar basket in the pantry so that you’re ready for snow day baking.  Keep a stock of the staples such as flour, baking powder, sugar, and vanilla.

Find a babysitter

If you know that it will be difficult for you to stay home and look after the kids on snow days, put a plan in place for what you can do for alternative childcare options.  For example, if there is a neighbor who could come over, a relative, or maybe there is a local student who is free certain days of the week.  Whichever option you are choosing, get in contact with these people and put a plan in place so that when the snow day arrives it can simply be put into action and you just have to make a call.

 

While snow days may be inconvenient for parents, and a celebration for the kids, there’s a way to meet in the middle and keep everyone happy.  Do a little planning, reach out for support, and make this the year that you all get to enjoy snow days together.

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Staying Safe During Severe Storms

This week, the Collingwood area was caught up in some severe storms that caused significant damage in and around the area. With high winds (up to 115km/h), hail and severe rain, the area was pelted by these storms and with it brought down trees, power lines and damage to buildings. The roof of Mr. Transmission was ripped right off during the storm on Monday, but luckily no one was hurt.

How can you protect yourself?

This time of year is notorious for storms like tornados, caused by the drastic changes in temperature that are common of the fall season in Ontario. While many people love storms and their resulting beauty in the sky, they can be dangerous, so it is best if you can protect your home and property before and during a storm (and even after).

When the weather changes, you are best to take shelter immediately, especially if there are lightning strikes or tornado warnings. The building with which you take shelter should be one with ground plumbing and electrical systems and not something like a shed or stand-alone public washroom, which are often damaged during these large storms. Bring your pets in as well, as a doghouse isn’t sufficient protection against a storm.

storm-collingwood

While you are in the structure, keep away from all windows and don’t touch anything electrical. Concrete even has the ability to conduct electricity, so don’t lean or lay on it either. While many believe bathtubs are the place to go in a tornado, during an electrical storm you want to stay out of the water.

If you are in a vehicle (which is not the best choice), don’t touch any part of the metal frame or the glass.

If you can’t find shelter, go to a low-lying elevation and avoid open spaces. Never go under a tree or light post either. Again, you want to stay out of the water, as it is very dangerous during a lightning storm. If you have items with you, move away from them and move away from any people you are near.

Planning ahead

There are some great resources in Ontario that will help you prepare for approaching storms. Ontario Tornado Watch has a Facebook page and an app, which will alert you to storms that may hit your area. If the weather suddenly changes, you might want to check their page or app (once you are in a safe location). If you don’t have access to technology, use the formulas to calculate the distance from the storm.

Have a safe spot in your home to go in the case of a tornado or other severe storm and have it packed with an emergency kit and other supplies. You should also have some supplies ready for if your power is out for a few days. Some ideas include a generator, a few days’ worth of food and water and flashlights with working batteries.

Stay safe Collingwood!

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