• How to Host a Thanksgiving Dinner

    Oct 02, 2017

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    The countdown to Thanksgiving is on. Whether you prefer stuffed turkey or tofu, mashed potatoes or roasted, there’s really something for everyone on the table. And from table decorations to wine, there’s a lot to consider when you host Thanksgiving dinner. Timbercreek has a few great tips to help you host a memorable holiday meal this Thanksgiving.

    Timing

    Pretty much every list of how to host thanksgiving starts (and finishes) with timing. Not to be pessimistic, but if the food isn’t ready for dinner, you’re doomed. If you’re serving roast Turkey (or even Tofurkey), timing is everything. The Turkey itself takes hours depending on weight. And then there’s all the side dishes -- we’re talking everything from mashed potatoes to sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, carrots, green bean casserole, corn, and/or squash. If you opt for scalloped potatoes or gratin potatoes you’ll add a whole other level of complexity to your timing. And then there’s the pumpkin pie. Our best advice is to carefully plan your menu and start cooking early -- the previous day if possible. Make anything you can before the day. Oh, and accept all the help you can get! If someone asks to contribute, ask them to make one of the side dishes.

    Table Setting and Decoration

    Gourds, gourds, gourds. While knobby and odd looking, these little suckers are sensationally seasonal. You can find them everywhere from grocery stores to Walmart in October. They are the perfect decorative accent for Thanksgiving. Pair them with few well placed candles, some colorful placemats and napkins. If your guests offer to bring something, ask for seasonal flower arrangements.

    Wine

    Red wine is made for Thanksgiving. While winefolly.com includes a rose and a sparkling white on their list of best wines for Thanksgiving, reds overwhelmingly win the day. Look for Beaujolais, Granache, Carignan, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese. You can’t lose when you go with red.

    Beer

    Stouts and heavier IPAs are perfect for Thanksgiving. They tend to be “warmer” and more substantial. Many craft breweries also offer seasonal beers to celebrate Thanksgiving. Give Great Lakes Brewery’s Pumpkin Ale a try.

    Seasonal Teas and Coffee

    You have to have options for the non-drinkers in the house. We’re not talking about Budweiser Prohibition. Go with seasonal teas and/or coffee: i.e. pumpkin spice, chai, and fruit teas with a medley of nuts or cinnamon, in addition to classic chai pumpkin lattes or flavoured coffees. Learn more here.

    Fire Smell

    There’s nothing like the smell of wood fire. It might be the most popular smell of fall. If you have a fireplace, light it up this Thanksgiving. If you’re one of many who don’t, try collecting some pine needles, dry leaves, or pick up some cedar incense or (lightly) scented candles. There’s nothing like walking into a home or apartment and getting hit with the aroma of Fall.

    Conversation Topics

    Good conversation makes any celebration better. It can be tricky to avoid the “So what do you do for work” or “How ‘bout that Trump” small talk. If your celebration involves guests who are strangers to each other this year, look at converstationstarters.com

    Timbercreek hopes this article helps you make the most of Thanksgiving this fall. For more information about Timbercreek Communities in your city, please visit our website.

  • Why And How To Buy Organic On A Budget

    Sep 26, 2017

    There are many benefits to eating organic. Fruits and veggies that are certified organic are grown with limited pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic produce is not irradiated and the seeds are chemical and GMO free. Animal products sold as organic means the animal was not given antibiotics or growth hormones. It means that they were fed with organic feed and were not medicated, except for vaccinations or for specific illness.

    There are many environmental benefits of organic farming. It makes for cleaner groundwater and healthier soil. It reduces non-renewable energy inputs and can reduce the greenhouse effect and climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. Overall, organic farming can lead to stronger biodiversity and greater sustainability. The benefits are clear, but they also cost more. Timbercreek Communities wants to help you buy organic on a budget.

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    Join a co-op

    Becoming a member of a co-op can help reduce your grocery costs and help connect you with you local food community. Membership fees and/or volunteer hours help to keep overhead costs down and provide local and organic food at fair prices.

    Delivery services

    Organic delivery services can ensure that a steady supply of organic food arrives at your door, often for a lower price than large grocery stores. SPUD services several cities in western Canada, including Calgary and Edmonton. In the Toronto area, Wanigan Organics provides weekly or bi-weekly deliveries of package deals as well as custom orders.  Look for a provider near you, including Fresh Option in Winnipeg,  Ecollegey in Montreal and HGOF in Halifax.

    Shop smart with an affordable food list

    Knowing what to buy and what not to buy is crucial to keeping your grocery bill under control. Not everything has to be organic. The thick peel of produce, such as avocados and bananas, protects the flesh from absorbing agricultural chemicals. Be sure to wash the peel first, as the chemicals can be transferred as you cut into it. To help simplify, buy organic on the Dirty Dozen and save money going conventional on the Clean 15 -- the fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group.

    Timbercreek hopes this post helps you buy organic on a budget! To find your home in one of Timbercreek’s Communities across Canada, please visit our website.

  • Petiquette 101: Safer Ways to Prevent Fleas and Ticks

    Sep 25, 2017

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    Fleas and ticks are not only irritating and unpleasant for your furry friends, they can infiltrate your home and are capable of transmitting disease. Many control and treatment products contain chemicals that can be toxic to you and your pet. How do you balance the risks posed by fleas and ticks with the risks of the repellents? Timbercreek Communities want to help with our best advice for safer ways to prevent fleas and ticks.

    Talk to Your Vet

    Before making any decisions about flea and tick control, talk to your vet. They can help you make the best decision for your pet and your whole family. You may want to consider orally administered products to limit your family’s exposure to toxic compounds.

    Citrus Juice

    Fleas are not fans of citrus. Squeezing some lemon, orange, or grapefruit juice on your dog’s fur can get rid of the blood suckers. Be careful to avoid your pet’s eyes and remember that lemon juice may lighten darker hair.

    Regular Baths

    A warm bath can help get rid of fleas and prevent them from returning. Existing fleas will fall off into the water and fleas are less attracted to cleaner animals. You may want to try a peppermint shampoo for a bit of extra protection. Place your pet on a lightly coloured towel after the bath (to better see any remaining fleas), and use a flea comb dipped in soapy water.

    Clean Your Home

    Regular, thorough cleaning of your home can help control fleas and ticks. Vacuum often and change your bedding and your pet’s bedding, regularly.

    Essential Oils

    Some essential oils like geranium, lemongrass, catnip oil or neem may help repel fleas and ticks, as well as mosquitoes and other pests. Be sure to choose high quality oils that can be applied topically.

    Timbercreek hopes this post helps you make safer choices while caring for all the members of your family. To find your home in one of Timbercreek’s Communities across Canada, please visit our website.

  • Outdoor Adventure List

    Sep 19, 2017

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    Whether it’s camping, watersports, hiking, or an intercontinental trip, outdoor adventure is good for body and soul. Adventure is about taking risks, trying new things, and diving in with both feet. Whether it’s across the globe or in your own backyard, adventure awaits. To help you discover your inner explorer, Timbercreek brings you our outdoor adventure list.

    Camping

    Camping is key. From hikes to multi-day backcountry canoe trips, camping brings you back to nature, even if it’s in a car or an RV. Fresh air, sun and wind, water and woods. They cleanse the soul and ground the spirit. And it’s the kind of thing you don’t have to venture too far for. Even city folk can drive an hour or two, set up a tent, and bask in the rejuvenating energy of nature.

    Rock Climbing

    While this point involves considerable skill and also risk of death, it’s a great way to get outside and get your adrenaline pumping. Rock climbing is a sport that involves strength, technique, planning, and courage. It makes you face your fears, try new things, test your skills, and take chances. Best of all, it’s increasingly becoming available in unexpected like indoor climbing gyms.

    Watersports

    Adventure doesn’t have to imply distance. It’s as much a mental state as a physical activity. Doing something you don’t often do, or that can be done close by or in another medium (i.e. water), can instill a sense of exploration even in the middle of the city. Windsurfing, canoeing, swimming, kitesurfing, dragon boating, or paddle boarding: they all remove you from your normal environment and call on different skill sets. They also demand an immediate connection with nature - in these cases - with wind, water, sun, and sky.

    Road Trip

    From RVing to car camping and cross country marathons, road trips are what adventure is made of. Route 66, the Trans Canada, the Dempster highway -- roads are a symbol of freedom, the unknown, exploration, and travel. And cycling definitely counts as well. Multi-day cycling adventures can be just as exciting and promote a more direct and hands-on experience of a particular area.

    Pilgrimage

    A more extensive outdoor adventure, a pilgrimage in the style of Mecca, the Camino de Santiago, or visiting Stonehenge, is an adventure with purpose. With spiritual meaning and physical, outdoor components, an adventure of this sort combines the visceral aspect of moving through a new environment, with the mental component of experiencing new and unseen vistas.

    Timbercreek hopes this article gives you a few ideas for your own outdoor adventure this year. For more information about Timbercreek Communities in your city, please visit our website.

  • Best Kid-Friendly Fall Activities

    Sep 18, 2017

    To help keep your little ones smiling this fall, Timbercreek brings you this list of kid-friendly fall activities the whole family will love.

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    Nature Walk

    It’s almost always a good time to go for a walk. Even if you’re subdivision bound, there are always parks close by, or conservation areas a little further away, that can make for a great fall outing. Pack a snack or a full-on lunch, make sure to bring water, and outfit your little ones with some sturdy shoes. Also bring bags for the kids to collect nature items - twigs, rocks, leaves, bark - it can all be fun for nature collections or crafting once you get home. As fall temperatures start to drop, be sure to consider appropriate clothing and layers to make your outing disaster proof.

    Picnic

    Picnics aren’t just for summer. A fantastic fall activity, picnics are great so long as you wear and bring the right stuff along. With unpredictable temperatures, pack some hats and coats. Don’t forget to bring all the usual picnic supplies like frisbees, baseballs, blankets, PB & J sammies, drink boxes, and kites. 

    Pumpkin Carving

    While generally reserved for Halloween, pumpkins are a symbol of autumn. Harvested from September through October, they offer families a great range of activities. Going to a local pumpkin “patch” to pick a few for the house is a great afternoon outing, while carving competitions, roasting pumpkin seeds, and playing with pumpkin “slime” are all great ways to enjoy them.

    Leaf Forts

    Jumping in a pile of leaves is a classic fall activity that never gets old. For kids it’s like an invitation to play and explore. Burying, burrowing, making forts, tossing them all over each other in leaf wars: they all make for great outdoor play that can occupy kids for hours. On a safety note, while obvious, check your leaf piles (before your kid jumps in them) for branches, rocks, garbage, and other debris that can be hiding inside after raking and yard cleaning.

    Baking

    A great fall activity for kids is baking. A couple seasonal snack options are apple chips and roasted pumpkin seeds. Slice some apples in thin, full width pieces and place evenly on a baking tray. Sprinkle them with cinnamon, brown sugar, a bit of butter, and even some coarse sea salt, and bake at 340F until slightly dehydrated and/or golden brown. Let dry and refrigerate for a great snack. Almost the same process can be applied to pumpkin seeds. Clean and rinse a big handful of seeds and lay them out evenly on a baking sheet. Add coarse salt and, if desired, a dash of olive oil, and bake until firm and slightly brown.

    Make Butter

    It’s surprisingly easy to make butter and it’s also a great activity to do with kids. All it requires is heavy whipping cream and a whisk. But by using a Mason jar, two small marbles, and a bit of music, you can dance your way to whipping that cream into butter. Shake a jar (or whisk) until the cream thickens. As the fat molecules bind together, a ball of butter will form, separating from the remaining buttermilk. Once a ball has formed, drain off the buttermilk, add some salt, and voila!  Homemade butter.

    Timbercreek hopes this article gives you a few ideas for how to entertain your kids this fall. For more information about Timbercreek Communities in your city, please visit our website.

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