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Happy Birthday Canada!

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I am extremely proud to be Canadian and in true patriotic fashion I love nothing more than a good themed party.  It has become a tradition with another family to celebrate our great country on it’s birthday together and this year we celebrated a bit early!  Our kids are the centre of our fun and I know that with each year to come that we continue with this they will only be and have more fun.  We decorated with lots of flags and everything red and white and let the kids be kids all afternoon/evening long.  We gorged on good food and lots of summery sweets, stayed up late roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and later making a big blanket bed on the grass to count stars from.  We sang Oh Canada loud and proud to our kids and we lit sparklers and cracked glowsticks til their hearts’ content.  We wore matching outfits and laughed through multiple group photos to cherish the memories of our second annual Canada Day party!  I for one went to bed extra grateful for the people and country I call home!

Here’s some of our ideas in case you’re looking for something new to add to your own July 1st festivities!…

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Poutine Bar with Homemade Fries

This year we continued with the main menu of a poutine bar but we also added some new and festive ideas…

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Inukshuk Cold Cut Stacks

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Caprese Canadian Flag Platter

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Fruit Kebab Flags

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Maple S’mores

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Goodie Bags for the kids filled with glow sticks, maple cookies, red and white m&m’s, red beaded necklaces and of course, their very own Canadian flag to wave!  Although the weather wasn’t as warm as last year where we filled the kid’s pools and water tables, we still had a bonfire, played bocce ball, shot off fireworks and just genuinely enjoyed the day together.  The kids went to bed full, tired and happy…and hopefully with a bit more of their Nation’s Pride to believe in!

Oh Canada, Our True North Strong and Free!

Nosh

Canada Day Raspberry Cheesecake Pops

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Ok…this recipe is amazing (not to toot my own horn), it really is!  These pops for day six of the twelve days of summer kick-off are a bit more tedious than other recipes but I promise you they are so completely worth it.  Reminiscent of cherry cheesecake hard ice cream found at most ice cream huts all summer long, these Raspberry Cheesecake pops are sure to be a summer favourite, soon to be summer staple and are perfect to show your patriotism for Canada’s upcoming 150th Birthday!

For the raspberry layers:

  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries pureed plus 1/2 pint for garnish
  • 2 tbsp sugar

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 1/2 brick cream cheese
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In your bullet or smoothie maker, pulse up the raspberries and sugar.

In a large bowl using a hand mixer, combine the cheesecake ingredients and mix until smooth.

Dollop a bit of the raspberry puree into the bottom of each mold.  Top with a whole fresh raspberry.  Dollop the cheesecake layer onto the puree and gently nudge a half of a fresh raspberry into the centre of the cheesecake layer, visible to the outside of the mold (this is the maple leaf of the Canadian flag!). Top with another layer of raspberry puree, top with cap and stick of your mold and freeze for a good 24 hours.  I had to freeze them in my chest freezer as it’s a lot colder than my fridge freezer and with the sugar content of the cheesecake filling you need a harder freeze to set!

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So festive, so fun and so very very delicious!

Create

Canada Day Pallet Project

 

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This is such a quick and easy way to display pride for our homeland Canadian nation! I spent the morning with my little man and my mom creating these fun pallet projects (and we even had time for coffee and cinnamon biscuits)!

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Brush down your chosen pallet.  Mom used a grey toned one and I chose one of the tan colored pallets with thinner slats.

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Spray paint all slats (except for one on each end) white.  We did two light coats. Then spray the end slats red.

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Using a stencil we made from a large piece of cardboard, spray the iconic maple leaf in the center (two coats for red too). And voila! From drab to fantastically fab in literally under an hour! I put mine at the end of our lane and mom is taking hers to the lake for some festive decor! I swear it is as easy as that!

Create

Canada 150: wearing our pride

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Canada is celebrating 150 years this year and I am so excited to honour our beautiful country in as many ways as I can!  I am proudly Canadian and exploring all our great nation has to offer is important to me.  From the Rocky Mountains through the beautiful prairies all the way up to the thick tundra and along through our capital city and beyond to the open arms of the East coast Canada is a multitude of wonderful niches.  I have been blessed to have travelled much of Canada and continue to dream about the places I have yet to see.  Our country is diverse in its people as it is diverse in its land.  If you’ve yet to visit this land of plenty, I encourage you to do so!  Consider joining us on July 1st to celebrate Canada’s 150 and wave the maple leaf flag high or get crafty and make up your own Canada Proud shirt!

E and I spent an afternoon creating these adorable shirts to wear for our upcoming festivities.  It’s an easy art project that doesn’t take much time to complete!  I placed some newspaper on the inside of each t-shirt so the paint wouldn’t go through to the backside.  Then I mixed red acrylic craft paint with a textile paint and painted E’s hands and my own.  We placed our handprints in the centre of these plain cotton t-shirts and then painted red solid blocks on either side of our handprints to complete the maple leaf.  Lay the shirts flat until they’re completely dry.  I’ve handprinted other shirts in the past with this paint and they machine wash wonderfully (although I hang dry these special items to prolong the life of the artwork!)

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Last year we made something similar with our handprints with these tin can wind socks.  I cleaned out empty bean cans and cut the bottoms out of them.  I punched holes along the base for streamers and two holes on the top to tie a ribbon through to hang them from.  They made cute festive decorations to hang around our patio and even though I left them out all winter, they’re still hanging and although the cans have slightly rusted you can still see the painting and they are still waving proudly in the breeze!

Stay tuned to see other ways we’re planning to celebrate our favourite country…there’s sure to be plenty of maple, some poutine, lots of red and white, caesars (with pickles), butter tarts,  celebrations with friends and family and more than likely fireworks!

O Canada, Our True North Strong and Free!

Create

Spring-ful Sprouts!

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Spring!! Nothing beats the smell of an open window, or the warmth of the sunshine as the snow starts to melt.  A new sense of energy fills our home and anticipation for the season ahead is undeniable.  The birds are starting to come back and sing their sweet tunes, the days are getting longer and the puddles are getting bigger.  It’s around this time that I dig out my gardening books and start planning!  This year in anticipation for Canada’s 150 I’m going with a patriotic colour scheme of red and white!  And for the first time ever I’m not only starting my own tomatoes, peppers and marigolds but also petunias.  I’ve been fore-warned that they are finicky so I’m crossing my fingers I have some beginner’s luck!

Every year I record my plans for planting in my garden book.  I keep any receipts or information tags for any fruit trees I grow as well.  I record when I start my indoor plants as well as when I transplant things into larger pots or straight into the garden.  I like to practice a bit of “crop rotation” in my garden as well…rotating where things are planted each year.  This year we’re going to make my garden a bit bigger too!  As E grows so does his appetite and I love to have things that I’ve grown put away for the winter.  Canning, freezing, and pickling are a huge project in the fall that is so appreciated come snowfall!

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E and I started our petunias on March 6th.  They need longer to germinate and grow than tomatoes and peppers (which I typically start at the end of March/beginning of April).  The seeds are like pearls, tiny and perfectly round.  We planted some red ones, white ones and some fancier ones, “Fire Frost” which are red with white frosted tips.  I have a beautiful set of patio doors facing south in our house that I put an old table in front of to start my plants.  The sunshine is perfect here and I’ve had great luck in the past (plus it’s relatively out of the way in our small home!).

E helped me dig out my potting supplies, lug in the potting soil and separate the pots.  We made labels with wooden coffee stir sticks and began our planting.  I wasn’t sure if E was understanding anything from our planting day other than how fun it is to play in the dirt.  I was wrong! He was so proud to show his dad our finished products and explain to him “seeds”!! I was a bit nervous that E would want to continue to play in the dirt after planting, that it would possibly be a daily “fight” to keep him out of our seedlings.  I hoped that by teaching him what we were doing and letting him help he’d have some pride in our work and leave them alone!  So far that plan has worked…knock on wood!

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E likes to help me water our seeds and we anxiously examine the pots daily to look for sprouts.  By March 20th only three little dots of green had emerged…not a great start.  So I replanted.  Typically the petunias take 5-10 days to germinate (says the package) so I’ll continue to be patient to see if there’s life in the re-sown pots! And if not I’ll have to purchase some red and white petunias on our annual girls-day-out greenhousing tour!

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Today we started our tomatoes and peppers and a few “vanilla marigolds” to put in pots around the yard (hopefully with our sprouted petunias)! I like to plant a lot of seeds, better to have too many plants than not enough. I share with my mom and brothers this way too!  This year we added a couple more varieties of tomatoes to our repertoire; “San Marzano” and “Red Hybrid”.  I have had great luck with “Beefsteak” and “Subarctic Plenty” in the past so we planted those again as well as the ever popular in field meals “Sweet Million” cherry tomatoes and this year some “Yellow Tom Toms” too!  I planted extra jalapeños this year too as pickled jalapeños are a staple in this house and we ran out quick this winter!

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I think my favourite thing about gardening is witnessing the amazingness of nature on a regular basis.  There is such pride in nurturing your own fruits and vegetables and reaping the benefits of your labor come harvest.  Being farm-to-table from your very own hands is remarkable and so rewarding!  I love to nurture my gardens and watch the hummingbirds and butterflies flit around my blooms.  It’s a pride that I hope to pass on to E as well.  Taking care of our yard and enjoying the sunshine, being respectful and grateful for Mother Nature, learning the importance of the farm-life and that hard-work truly pays off are such amazing qualities to pass on to the next generation! I’m so grateful that our parents nurtured this within us while we were little.  I love spring!!