Back to School: Easy Lunch Ideas for the Kids

For many of us, back to school means a new beginning. For the children, it means a new class, new friends, and new adventures. So what kind of adventures might those kids have?

Today’s healthy, on-the-go families are pressed for time. With school starting earlier, traffic jams getting worse, and more homework on their plates, many parents don’t have much time to pack even a quick lunch before they head off to work.

The answer to “What’s for lunch?”. For those of you who don’t like to plan ahead, we can recommend DIY Lunchables. Let’s take a look at how to put together a back-to-school lunch that is quick, delicious, and healthy.

How to Put Together the Perfect DIY Lunchable

Remember those yummy little Lunchables you used to love as a kid? They were so easy and convenient. Well, now you can make them yourself with your favorite ingredients! Start by choosing your bread or crackers. Traditional options include English muffins, bagels, pita bread, flatbreads, and others; but don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite breads.

Next, choose your meat or protein source. Packed lunches are a great way to sneak in some extra veggies, so feel free to add cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce leaves, avocado slices, bean sprouts—and if you’re really hungry—a few pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, ham, or beef.

If you’re looking for a protein boost, choose one of the following: cheese sticks, sliced string cheese, cubes of cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, cubes of cold cuts like salami or bologna—add a few olives if you like them! And to finish off your lunch, choose one or two of the following treats: fresh fruit, 100 percent fruit juice boxes—just be sure they are not carbonated—granola bars, dried cereal pieces.

Lastly, add a treat on the side , like a cookie, cupcake or muffin.

Now that you’re an expert at putting together a healthy lunch box for your kid, don’t forget to make one for yourself!

Remember to always eat a well-balanced, nutritious breakfast and lunch. And as for those afternoons when you feel like a snack attack—just remember that a good snack is made up of the following: one serving of fruit or vegetables, one serving from the grain group (bread, cereal, rice, pasta), and one serving from the dairy group.

Looking to relocate this fall? Here are listings available in the Collingwood area.

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Thanksgiving Dishes to Try This Year

Thanksgiving brings with it the opportunity to get together with family and friends. From traditional turkey and stuffing to pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce, there are a plethora of dishes to choose from. But how do you know if a recipe is a good idea? Here are a few classic Thanksgiving dishes to try this year.

Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Salad is a classic Thanksgiving dish that can be spruced up in different ways. Ambrosia salad is fruit-based and is topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, and coconut.

  • Butternut Squash and Leek Stuffing: A favorite alternative to traditional stuffing, this recipe is made with leeks and butternut squash.  If you like the taste of sage, this is the recipe for you.
  • Cornbread-Sage Dressing: A cornbread dressing uses ground pork sausage as a base. Diced vegetables and herbs are added to make it spicy.
  • Fennel, Apple, and Celery Root Slaw with Pecans: A fresh salad that incorporates the harvest flavors of fall. The slaw is made from the fennel bulb, celery root, apples, pecans, cider vinegar, olive oil, and cider.
  • Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions: This dish is made with green beans, breadcrumbs, onion soup mix, milk, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, crispy onions, butter crackers, and parsley flakes.
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows: Sweet potatoes are mashed with heavy cream, brown sugar, milk, marshmallows, light corn syrup, vanilla extract, and salt.
  • Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream: The classic Thanksgiving dessert . This pie is made from pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, salt, and vanilla extract.
  • Pecan Pie: Another classic Thanksgiving dessert, this pie is made from pecans, salt, light corn syrup, eggs, sugar, white Karo Syrup, vanilla extract, and butter. 
  • Sweet Potato Casserole: This dish is made from sweet potatoes, brown sugar, pecans, evaporated milk, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla extract.
  • Corn Pudding: This side dish is usually prepared with corn kernels and cream mixed together and baked in a casserole dish.
  • Maple Glazed Acorn Squash: This dish is made from acorn squash, vegetable oil, salt, maple syrup, water, and brown sugar.  
  • Baked Pears with Cinnamon Yogurt Sauce: This dish is prepared from pears, sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, low-fat plain yogurt, and chopped walnuts. 

Apple Cranberry Crisp: This dish is made from apples, cranberries, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, allspice, and salt.

All of these dishes sound like something you would be interested in serving at your Thanksgiving dinner—which one sounds the most appetizing to you?

Are you looking for a new property in time to host a Thanksgiving dinner? Check out what listings are available in the Collingwood Area here.

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4 Scenic Picnic Spots in the Blue Mountains

In Ontario, we have been fortunate enough to enjoy the many beautiful landscapes in the Blue Mountains. Perhaps you are looking to spend a day at the foot of the mountains and enjoy some of the fantastic scenery. Hiking, mountain biking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, caving and horse riding are all great ways to sample the Blue Mountains, and there are so many beautiful places to choose from. Here are some of our favourite spots in the area to enjoy a picnic!

Petun Conservation Area

Petun is one of the most picturesque places in the Blue Mountains, with the highest elevations on the Niagara Escarpment. The name comes from the indigenous peoples who lived in the area in the early 1600s. The 100-acre area connects with the Bruce Trail, making this location perfect for a picnic pre-hike. There are plenty of picnic spots to choose from. If the family is up for it, there is also camping available.

Northwinds Beach

Georgian Bay is the perfect place to take your family for an amazing picnic. Here you’ll find the best beaches in the region, including beautiful, secluded, and serenaded Northwinds. With a range of nearby fresh food and mouth-watering desserts, this is the perfect place to culminate all your outdoor adventures. Take a picnic basket to the beach and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lake.

Craigleith Provincial Park

Craigleith Provincial Park is one of the most popular spots for picnics in the Blue Mountains, and it is a wonderful place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. There is something so satisfying in sitting down to a tasty picnic, surrounded by nature, on the grass. With a wide range of activities, from relaxing walks through the bush to white water rafting and camping, there is no better place to escape.

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

The dense forest and cool winds that characterize the Escarpment extend uninterrupted to the edge of the Fern Cave, creating a landscape that is as diverse as it is beautiful. You can explore many trails and find jaw-dropping natural features like caves, trails, and gorges. If the family feels adventurous, they can try the zipline among the treetops before settling down for a picnic at one of the many breathtaking spots. 

What to Pack?

Do you need a list of what to pack for your summer picnic? There are just a few basic rules to always follow: don’t forget to bring your own dishes and cutlery, pack plenty of food and water, and bring something to sit on (just in case you can’t find an available picnic table!).

Whether you’re going to picnic on the beach, a park or even the city, it’s essential to have a well-stocked picnic bag with the essentials you need to make the journey enjoyable. We suggest hitting up the Collingwood Farmers’ Market to get all your fresh, local produce. 

The Blue Mountains is the place to be, summer and winter long. Check out these available properties in the area. 

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Perfect Flowers for Your Garden in Collingwood

Collingwood may be in a cool zone, but the right outdoor plants can absolutely thrive here. Collingwood sits in plant hardiness zone 5, which means any number of plants and flowers can be planted right into your garden. As long as you take growing seasons into account, you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choices. Here are just a few of the plants that you can grow in Collingwood.

Lilies

Lillies are perfect for your garden in Collingwood

Lilies come in all shapes and sizes, from orange to yellow, to pink, to white. These flowers are an absolute magnet for butterflies and are a showy addition to your garden that will bloom year after year with minimal care. Blend together varieties that will bloom during different stages of the growing season, and you’ll have flowers from spring to the end of fall. 

Primroses

Growing up to 12 inches tall, primroses are a popular flower both for garden beds and for planters. They’re extremely versatile and can be found at the edge of borders, adorning window boxes, and as a way to add a bit of colour to rock gardens. They require very little attention, as long as they’re not blasted by the sun for longer periods of time. Some cultivars are scented and will attract a number of beneficial insects to your yard.

Tulips

Tulips are a classic, easy-to-care-for flower that can be found in plenty of gardens in Collingwood. They’re extremely easy to grow; bulbs that are planted in early fall will begin blooming as soon as the snow melts and it starts getting warmer. When choosing bulbs, make sure to pick ones that are firm; avoid soft or moldy bulbs.

Daffodils

Daffodils are the perfect edition to you garden in collingwood

These cheery, bright-yellow flowers are hard to miss in any garden. They bloom around mid-spring and look wonderful when planted in groups of ten or more. They return year after year and require very little care on your part. On top of that, daffodils contain a toxin that will deter rabbits and other rodents

Grape Hyacinths

These flowers get their names from the little clusters of purple “pearls” that grow all along the stem. They’re not too picky about where you plant them, as long as you don’t subject them to extremely dry or extremely wet conditions. As long as they get full or light sun, these tiny flowers will happily populate your garden. Just be aware that they spread very quickly, so you’ll need to plant them somewhere you don’t mind them spreading

Irises

These beautiful, dainty flowers thrive in Collingwood’s climate and require very little care after they are established. Named after the Greek goddess of rainbows, irises come in a fittingly wide range of colours, although it’s probably best known for its purple hues. They’re attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds, bringing a number of beneficial pollinators to your garden. They’re an excellent companion for lilies. 

Plenty of flowers will happily grow in your Collingwood garden. Bring some colour and life to your yard with these beautiful, easy-to-care-for flowers. 

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How to Create a Family-Friendly Backyard

In response to the COVID-19 virus, many safety measures have forced kids to spend much of their time at home away from friends. With most extracurricular activities cancelled or postponed, kids need to have outdoor spaces where they can burn off pent-up energy.

Fortunately, public parks are open, and Collingwood does have an abundance of outdoor spaces. But, to follow the restrictions of stay-at-home orders, many kids will need a family-friendly outdoor space right in their own yards. So, to ensure they won’t get bored and dive back into their video games, create a family-friendly outdoor space with these simple tips.

Hang a Swing

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned swing for adding some simple charm to your backyard. Kids can spend hours on swings pretending to fly, and once they are old enough, they can even entertain themselves. In addition, swings are ideal for smaller yards that may not have space for a large play structure.

Set Up a Cozy Fire Pit

Fire pits are ideal backyard spots for spending some quality time with your family. Once you have a fire permit, cook up some s’mores or heat some weiners on roasting sticks. To make your space even more fun, pull out some soft outdoor cushions and blankets and get cozy on a cool spring evening.

Take advantage of the nice weather to stargaze with your kids and teach them some constellations. You’ll be amazed at how fulfilling and educational this is for everyone involved. You never know. You may even inspire a future astrophysicist!

Build a Dream Play Structure

A basic swing set is great, especially for a single child. But if you have more than one, a single swing could cause squabbles. If you have space, add some extra fun features like raised walkways and climbing nets. These additional activities will stimulate both physical and imaginative play and keep your kids busy for hours.

Plant an Edible Garden

Growing an edible garden with your kids’ participation is an excellent way to nurture a green thumb at an early age. Prepare the soil and plant seeds with your kids to encourage them to stay involved. Make a ritual of checking in on the plants for signs of growth.

When your fruit and vegetables are ready to pick, plan a menu with your kids that incorporate them into your dishes. If kids are allowed to pick some edibles and eat them on the spot, they will quickly gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sources of their food.

 

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Help Your Home Shine for the Spring Real Estate Market

Spring is a great time to get your home ready to sell. Even if you’re not ready to list it, making some improvements now will allow you to enjoy them until you do. Creating the best first impression possible will help home hunters fall in love with your home as soon as they see it. First impressions are crucial for convincing potential buyers that your home has been waiting for them.

Spend some time this spring tidying up both the outside and inside and reap the benefits when it’s time to list your home for sale. Here are some top tips that will help your home shine in time for the spring real estate market.

Freshen Up Your Outdoor Spaces

Getting your home ready to sell can be a great motivator to clean up your outdoor spaces from the long winter behind us — as if you need an excuse to get outside these days! Once you’ve cleared away last year’s ground cover of dead leaves and plant stalks, take a good look at your outdoor space’s design.

Ask yourself these questions to see what work needs to be done. Are there spaces in your flower beds that need new life? Should you add a birdfeeder for a splash of colour and non-screen-based entertainment? You might consider adding some exterior solar-powered lights for a welcoming look and planting some flowering annuals to add instant colour to the front walkway.

Clear Out Your Indoor Clutter

Decluttering your home can be a big, but rewarding project that is an essential step to preparing your home to sell. You may end up hosting a yard sale of your purged belongings or donating items in good shape to a local shelter. Besides opening up your home to more light and less dust, decluttering now will make your eventual move that much easier.

Get That Deep Clean Shine

Once you’ve decluttered, your home’s pre-listing deep clean will be a cinch. If you’re not up to the task, consider hiring a professional local cleaning service to save you time and effort. The tell-tale shine of a deep clean is an extremely effective way to make buyers desire your home.

Paint With Neutral Colours

Once your decluttering and cleaning are complete, it’s likely your walls and trim will need refreshing with some neutral-coloured paint. This task will make your home appear bigger and brighter and more of a blank canvas for other’s art and other decorative items. 

As you get close to your listing date, continue to carry out these tasks, so there’s no last-minute scramble. Once you decide to list your home, get in touch with a reputable real estate agent for some additional advice on making a first impression that lasts.

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3 of the Best Ways To Enjoy Collingwood This Spring

While Collingwood has a great reputation as a top destination for those looking to enjoy quality winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding, it’s also a beautiful place to be outdoors in the spring. With an abundance of breathtaking scenery in and around Collingwood, there are several ways to enjoy the outdoors in Ontario’s spring weather.

For example, you can take a different scenic walk every day for weeks without visiting the same place twice. This includes walking through the lovely town to window-shop or visiting a local cafe to pick up some coffee and yummy sweet treats for a park picnic. You can even go foraging for some delicious and nutritious edible wild plants, like maple blossoms, dandelions, and mulberries.

Let’s explore three more fun activities you can enjoy in this lovely neck-of-the woods this spring.

Golf

While much of the rest of Ontario is locked down, golf courses have been allowed to remain open. Fortunately, Collingwood and the surrounding areas have some world-class golf courses in gorgeous locations. Overlooking Georgian Bay, there’s the top-ranked and aptly-named Georgian Bay Club and, besides the mountain, the Blue Mountain Golf & Country Club. Additionally, visitors can choose between Osler, Monterra, and Cranberry Gold Resorts for some of Ontario’s top golf courses.

golf ball on golf course

Hiking

One activity more and more people are enjoying is walking. With so many gyms and community centers closed, this healthy activity helps people expend pent-up energy and stay mentally and physically fit. Collingwood is home to over 60km of Georgian Bay hiking trails, including the Collingwood and Blue Mountain trails. Collingwood has even removed unused train tracks to create new hiking trails and welcomes walkers all year round.

hiking in the woods in the sun

Hit the Beach!

Although the spring may be a bit chilly for a dip, there are many other ways to enjoy a beach in and around the beautiful town of Collingwood. You could go for a walk along the rocky shoreline of Sunset Point, an iconic waterfront area in Collingwood. This beach offers lots of green space, playgrounds, and waterfront trails. Or, you could go for a paddle or try kiteboarding or windsurfing at Northwinds Beach, a very short cycle or drive from Collingwood.

If you’re interested in finding a home in this beautiful part of Ontario, there are online resources to help you save up for a Collingwood home. You could also contact a realtor familiar with the area — which also includes scenic Wasaga Beach — to learn more about what’s available for you.

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This Summer and Spring Avoid Season Allergy Flare-Ups

Lady suffering from seasonal allergiesAllergic Rhinitis. Hay fever. Seasonal Allergies.

Different names for similar symptoms, including: 

  • Persistent sneezing. 
  • Relentlessly scratchy eyes. 
  • A dry, squeaky sore throat.  
  • Ferocious itchiness, all over. 

It’s enough to drive anyone insane. 

Sigh. Or, in this case, wheeze. 

No matter how exciting it is to consider that spring is just around the corner, pesky seasonal allergies always seem to put a dampener on the fun. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re in good company, because so does nearly  25% of the Canadian population

Ways to reduce allergy Flare-ups this Spring and Summer

Help reduce the amount of seasonal allergy-related suffering this pollen-packed spring and summer by remembering to:

  1. Change clothing before you come into your home. That goes for shoes too! Clothing attracts pollen, and dragging it around the house on clothing only exacerbates allergies.
  2. Wash your hands when you come in from outside. What is a no-brainer task (for most of us) is a necessity for hay fever sufferers. Pollen can stick to your hands, and one absent-minded itch of the eye with a pollen-saturated hand can prompt some major suffering.
  3. Keep in mind there are two significant types of pollen trigger seasonal allergies: tree and grass pollen. Figuring out which triggers their allergies can help hay fever sufferers avoid the outdoors during pollination times. Early spring, in April and May, is when pollen counts from trees are the highest. June and July are when grass pollen takes over. 
  4. Check out these tips for keeping your house clean during showings; it applies to allergy sufferers too. As funny as comparing the two may be, eradicating pollen from your home is a lot like getting ready to have your home shown;  it boils down to diligence and a take-no-prisoners attitude.

This summer is uniquely challenging because we have to figure out how to sneeze into a mask, on top of battling hay fever. Just like sneezing before COVID, sneezing requires etiquette when possible.

sneezing in a mask etiquetteCOVID- Era Sneezing Etiquette

  • Stick with what works, which means many experts suggest it is still ok to sneeze into your elbow with a mask on. Just make sure your sneeze is as contained as possible and no moisture has gotten on your clothing. 
  • Try to keep social distancing intact to protect others around you. The idea is to keep others’ germs and particles away from you and keep your germs and particles away from others.
  • If the idea of sneezing while wearing a mask makes you feel like you’re“wearing your sneeze,” make sure you have backups. After a particularly juicy sneezing fit, find a place to switch your masks safely. 

Try not to feel too badly. It can be a harrowing experience to sneeze in public during a pandemic. Though we can’t see smiles with masks on, remember there are others around smiling at you, probably relating to the embarrassment you feel because they suffer from hay fever too.

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3 Outerwear Staples Necessary For A Collingwood Spring 

Warmer weather, rainy days, and muddy trails are just some of the things you will encounter during spring in Collingwood. As the beautiful landscape begins to awaken and plants start to bud, the weather becomes somewhat unpredictable, making it challenging to prepare for outdoor occasions. 

Having proper clothing to wear in the Collingwood and Blue Mountains area is necessary when planning outdoor excursions. Whether it is hiking along the Bruce Trail or scanning the springtime beaches for washed-ashore treasures, having the right gear will make you feel more comfortable. 

Check out some of the outerwear staples that you should keep in your front closet this spring. While the pandemic restrictions have eased up a bit, it is still essential that you gather with friends and family outdoors. Thankfully, you live in one of the best places in Ontario, where you can enjoy modern city amenities and outdoor wildlife. 

Without further ado, these are the outwear staples you need!

A Microdown Puffer

Having something lightweight and warm is critical during the spring. While the forecast may highlight warmer weather and sunshine, you may leave for a hike only to realize that you didn’t prepare for the cool breeze sweeping in. A micro-down puffer will be your best friend for this season. You can stuff this into your trail pack or even a small shoulder bag. You can even buy some with stuffing sacs, making for a compact and portable cold weather shield. While summer is just around the corner, you don’t want to be too underprepared and ruin your outdoor excursion. 

Merino Wool Base Layer

Layering is essential in the spring. Your temperature can quickly fluctuate, especially if you tend to work up a sweat with a bit of exercise and cool down quickly. Having a reliable and temperature-consistent base layer is the key to success. Merino wool is the best option because it is very thin and stays warm even if it becomes damp from sweat. It will not feel bulky underneath your other layers, and it will prevent you from getting a chill. If you like to wear lighter layers but still want to feel warm, merino wool should be at the forefront of your closet this season. 

Trail Runners

Things can get slippery in the spring. Snow will start to melt, and rain will pour, making grass and dirt trails mudslides. On top of this, the temperature can sometimes drop without ample notice, causing the wet ground to freeze, making for an even more precarious footing. Walk on a solid foundation with trail runners. These are lightweight and will have excellent grip so that you can zip through the trails without feeling like you are about to lose your footing and fall. It will also be better for your body as it keeps you from danger and ensures you are running in the correct posture.

Take the spring by the reins by preparing yourself with these three staple outerwear items. Having a lightweight puffer, a reliable base layer, and grippy trail runners will ensure you are ready to hit every trail in the Collingwood area with confidence. 

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Plan Early With These 3 Ontario Vacation Ideas

Spring, summer, fall? The seasons and days seem to keep blending into each other. It feels like there is so much to do and nowhere really to go. Thankfully, the cold weather keeping everyone indoors will soon subside, and you can relight your inner spark. How so? Well, you can start exploring the beautiful Ontario countryside.

Whether you have kids still in school or are living alone, taking a break from the regular swing of things helps provide perspective, an atmosphere for setting goals, and relaxation, which everyone needs. While it is only natural to want to go on a vacation somewhere tropical, it may not be so easy this summer. Plus, vacations in Ontario tend to be more budget-friendly. 

Outlined below are three Ontario-based vacation ideas that are ideal for families and individuals alike. They are an excellent opportunity to get out of your house and journey through the gorgeous place you call home. 

Rent A Yurt

Have you ever stayed in a yurt? Not many people have. These round enclosures have been around for centuries and are scattered throughout Ontario’s wild country. One of the best things is that some people have redesigned these yurts to feature several stories, electricity, plumbing, and hot tubs. Why not dash into the woods for a weekend of mediation, yoga, and self-discovery? With so many options to choose from and beautiful landscapes to explore, you could even go yurting each weekend. 

Go On A Canoe Trip

While sometimes a challenge, xanoe trips are relatively easy to plan and accessible for all campers, whether you’re an avid outdoors person or never once stepped into the bush. These are genuinely a chance to become one with nature and leave all technology behind you. Throughout the pandemic, you may have been glued to your TV or computer, maybe once a day stepping outside for fresh air, so disconnecting for even a few days will surely do you some good. 

Road Trip Across The Province 

Why settle for one place when there is so much to discover? If you live in the Collingwood or Blue Mountains area, you are in a great spot to take a road trip throughout the province. Maybe start by heading north towards Kenora, stopping at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, and then maybe eventually heading southeast and taking a pit stop in the nation’s capital. Set aside a week or two this summer and let the open road take you away. Depending on the pandemic’s state at the time, you may be better off scheduling your rest stops ahead of time. In all cases, if you want to fly by the seat of your pants, bring a tent. 

While summer may be far away in some people’s eyes, just the idea of planning a vacation is enough to get your spirits up and the adrenaline running. From sticking it out for a weekend in a yurt to the thoroughly grounding experience of a canoe trip, Ontario vacations are your best option for the seasons ahead. 

 

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