Category Archives: Top Lists

How To Celebrate Valentine’s Day During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Like all holidays celebrated recently, this year’s Valentine’s will be slightly different from the rest. Whether you’re in a lockdown, quarantine, or just trying to stay safe during the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the Valentine’s Day long weekend with your loved ones:

Treat yourself: Whether or not you’re in a relationship, it is always important to take some time (especially during the holiday season), to treat yourself. Order from your favourite restaurant, binge-watch your favourite tv show or do whatever it is that you find relaxing. Make an effort to have some valuable “me time”.

Romantic Dinner: There is no shame in the take-out game! This is the perfect time to support your local small businesses. Where possible, pick up the food directly from the restaurant instead of using UberEats or SkipTheDishes.

Cook at home: Show off those cooking skills you learned during lockdown/quarantine! If you’re looking to enhance your cooking skills, consider staying in and cooking, using ingredients from high-end grocery stores, such as Pusateri’s or Bruno’s Fine Foods. Cooking as a couple is a great way to bond.

Splurge On Dessert: Dessert is arguably the best part of any meal. If you or your significant other has a sweet tooth, here are some of our favourite bakeries in Toronto that you should try:  Bobbette & Belle have an excellent variety of artisanal pastries that you can order online, R Bakery Cafe boasts excellent customized cakes, as well as an impressive breakfast menu, The Rolling Pin has different daily flavours for their cupcakes, Dufflet Pastries allows you to mail a cookie to your loved one for Valentine’s, and Phipps Bakery has an assortment of unique pies and cakes to choose from.

Afternoon Tea: You are cordially invited to high tea at The Windsor Arms, which is currently offering a tea at home for 2 program. The package also comes with a variety of scones, sandwiches, and cakes. 

Gourmet Chocolates: You could go the old-fashioned route and get your partner a nice box of chocolates. SOMA Chocolate Maker has unique shapes and custom orders, Ambience chocolat carries gourmet chocolate boxes, and The Chocolateria has chocolate bars, cookies, and an assortment of gifts.

Take your date outdoors: Skating is a way of getting out and getting some great exercise—although you have to book in advance. Skating rinks that are available for booking are High Park, Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square, and Rosedale Park.

Volunteer in a soup kitchen: At a time when everyone’s trying to help others, you could consider putting off your date night to deliver foods to the homeless or help out at a soup kitchen. Some kitchens and food banks around Toronto that are accepting volunteers include the Daily Bread Food Bank, and The Salvation Army.

DIY Vanilla Extract Kits: If you’re buying your partner a gift, why not get them something from the World’s Best Vanilla Company! I’m involved with this company and want to let you know about the Valentine’s Day version of our popular, Make Your Own Vanilla Extract bottles.

Just add your choice of alcohol, follow the instructions, and in a few weeks, you will have some amazing extract to bake with.

If you’re interested, check us out on Facebook or email info@worldsbestvanilla.com

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Top Ten Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19

Obviously, this year’s Thanksgiving is going to look a little different from last. Family get-togethers will be much smaller—if they happen at all.  But that doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t have as much fun this Thanksgiving weekend. Here’s a list of ideas and events that are happening around the GTA.

1. Take a hike and enjoy nature:
Take the opportunity to get out and stretch your legs while the weather’s still warm! The Scarborough Bluffs has 11 parks featuring trails, gardens, and beaches along the shore of Lake Ontario. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton has an amazing view of autumnal colours as the trees change with the season. The Elora Gorge Trail is also a favourite, as it showcases a 20m waterfall and 10km of scenery.

2. Fishing at Glen Haffy:
If recreational fishing is what you crave, Glen Haffy supplies rainbow trout from a hatchery, and visitors may fish from two ponds. The conservation area also offers a variety of nature trails that are ideal for bird watching.

3. Apple Picking:
Apples are in season! Carl Laidlaw Orchards, located in Brampton, are open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays for September and October. Chudleigh’s is also open for apple picking and has an animal farm and hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. Tickets must be purchased in advance. They are busy, so plan to go early to avoid lineups!

4. Take a drive in the country
It’s the perfect time of year to take a relaxing road trip out of town—go and pick up a pumpkin or some corn from your local farmer and enjoy the fall colours along the way. Take a trip up to the Apple Factory to get your fill of specialty products, or drive up to Collingwood to get a view of Blue Mountain.

5. St. Jacob’s Market:
Drive out to St. Jacob’s Market near Waterloo for a variety of different specialty vendors that include baked goods, books and toys, handmade crafts, and meat and seafood. You also have the option of purchasing a Market Meal Kit for 2 for $35, which includes cheese, dinner buns, a mini peach pie, and more. The market is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

6. Picard’s Peanuts:
There is tons to do at Niagara-on-The-Lake!  Wineries, lunch on a patio, if the weather permits, and don’t forget to hit up  Picard’s Peanuts for some freshly roasted peanuts and unique snacks, such as potato chip covered peanuts, chocolate covered marshmallow and sponge toffee and chocolate-covered peanuts.

7. Support a local restaurant:
Take a well-deserved break and have a night out. Order in from your favourite local restaurant or dine out to help support local businesses. There’s no need to stress yourself out over cooking a Thanksgiving feast!

8. Have a picnic:
Organize an outdoor picnic or BBQ at a local park. There are a number of parks around Toronto that have firepits and BBQs available, or you have the option of bringing in your own grill. High Park, Centennial Park, and Earl Bales Park all allow visitors to bring their own grill.

9. Virtual Oktoberfest:
The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has moved its event entirely online. On October 9th and 10th, tune into their stream to enjoy both live and pre-recorded events, including cowbells and yodelling, keg tapping, and Oktoberfest trivia.

10. Stay active:

Before the weather gets too cold, now’s the perfect time to get out and go for a bike ride or a jog. Enjoy the fresh air as you take a walk down to the beaches. ActiveTO has extended major road closures into October to encourage more space for cycling and walking. Road closures change from weekend to weekend, so check their website for updates.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be well and stay safe.

 

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How to Celebrate Mother’s Day in Lockdown

Coronavirus changing Mother's Day plans - WFMJ.com

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, things will look a bit different, this year, with everyone practicing social distancing.  But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t celebrate your mother on May 10th.  Here’s a list of ways to celebrate:

1. Purchase Flowers – Although many of us are still on lockdown, there are still many flower shops that are currently open and ready to deliver. 1800-flowers is a company still open that ships in Canada and the United States just by simply placing an order on their website. Alternatively, you could support your local florist by checking if they are currently open and sending out deliveries.

2. Order a Mother’s Day Brunch or Dinner – This year while we are stuck at home, other ways to celebrate is by hosting brunch or dinner by sending your mother her favourite cuisine from a local restaurant, or even looking up the recipes and making the meal yourself.

3. Create a Spa Day – If you’re currently at home with your mother, you can host a spa day with her; by purchasing an assortment of masks, nail equipment and any spa needs at your local drug store.

4. Tea Time – Many usually spend their time with their mothers having tea and a small lunch.  So, to celebrate this year, you can still do the same, but it will look a bit different. You can drop off some teas to your mom and have your teatime while on a video call, so you’re still spending time together.

5. Create a virtual slideshow – To honour your mother this year, create a slideshow full of your favourite photos and videos.  Creating the slideshow is simple and can be done on sites such as Smilebox.  You can create a free account and look through the many mother’s day templates and add in your own photos.

6. Game Time – To celebrate, have a games night with some board games or puzzles. You could even create a family-based trivia game.

7. Have a Movie Night – Whether you’re together or apart if you and your mom are movie buffs, then have a movie night.  You can enjoy your favourite movies together or checkout brand new films available on demand.

8. Drop off care packages – If you’re older and spending time away from your mother, you can simply plan a drop-off.  Create a simple care package filled with all of your mom’s favourite items, including her favourite chocolates, wine and anything else she loves.

9. Have a virtual meetup – Since many people are celebrating apart, you can simply create a zoom chat with your entire family and friends to celebrate together.  Simply go on Zoom and organize your own meeting, and you can invite anyone.

10. Give mom some free time – Many families have had to deal with the added responsibility of working from home and also helping their children with online classes, so, give mom some alone time / downtime where she can unwind on her special day.

Whatever way you celebrate, Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there!

 

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Winter and Holiday Activities

1. Distillery District

Known for its Christmas Market, the Distillery District transports its guests to a holiday wonderland filled with lights, Christmas stalls filled with food and knickknacks, as well as, live carolling. You can continue the fun by checking out the amazing displays at the annual Toronto Light Festival from January 17th – March 1st, 2020.

2. Hockey

In typical Canadian fashion, what are the holidays without hockey? Check out your local Minor teams, the OHL, the AHL, and if you’re feeling jolly, spring for those NHL tickets. If you’re a Leafs Fanatic, mark your calendars to see the team practice at Nathan Phillps Square on January 9th, 2020!

3. CNE Aurora Winter Festival

This is definitely the place to take your kids. From the rides and games to the ice rink, magical forest, and whimsical holiday-themed events, this is a ton of fun for the family. You can purchase your tickets online (Presto Cardholders get a 15% discount). You can also get your skate on and enjoy free skate rentals on Wednesdays!

4. Ballet

Christmas is the time to see the Nutcracker. Enjoy The National Ballet of Canada’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic until January 4th, 2020.

5. Ice Skating

Show off your skills! Check out DJ Skate Nights at the Harbourfront Centre and get free skating lessons at the Bentway Skating Trail. You can also visit Ontario Place, Nathans Phillips Square or your local ice rink.

6. Courthouse visit

For all of you crime show enthusiasts, visit your local courthouse to see a real courtroom proceeding. Check out the court’s website to find out about the proper etiquette and to view the daily court lists to see which cases are being heard.

7. Trivia

Do you know what’s fun? Pub trivia. Go test your vast knowledge of pop culture, history, literature and science, and show off your trivia skills. Bar trivia is not just a holiday classic fun time, but an all year round great way to spend with friends and family.

8. Give back

The holidays are a time for giving. Check out some of the many charities across the city to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!

 

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Things to Do for Fall and Halloween

It’s that time of the year again, and with it, is another post about what you can do to make the most out of fall and Halloween. 

  1. Apple Picking: Although it’s getting a little late in the season, there are a variety of different farms that have corn mazes, markets, and activities for kids. Chudleigh’s is a popular farm, where you can pick apples as well as purchase baked goods from their bakery. Another great option is Pingle’s Farm Market, which also has a “fun farm” filled with animals, a giant slide, and a pumpkin cannon show. 
  2. Road Trip: Take a leisurely drive up to St. Jacob’s out west to see the changes in the leaves. While you’re at it, St. Jacob’s has a farmer’s market that goes on year-round on Thursdays and Saturdays.
  3. Wine Tasting: If you’re feeling it, you could also head to the Niagara region for wine tasting. There are a variety of wine tours, including ones on the lake, or ones paired with different types of cheese. 
  4. Haunted Houses: It’s the spirit of Halloween, and no Halloween would be complete without a haunted house. There’s your typical Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland, where monsters wander the park grounds, and there’s also Black Creek’s True Terror Stories at Pioneer Village in North York. The village has a massive 60-person escape game, where teams work together to solve the curse.
  5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Like every October, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is returning to theatres. The movie will be playing in cinemas such as Ted Rogers Cinema and Lower Ossington Theatre throughout the month. 
  6. Night of the Dread: The Clay and Paper Theatre will be hosting The Night of The Dread, a parade full of masks, puppetry, and dancing. The parade will start at Dufferin Grove Park on October 26th, starting at 6:00 pm.
  7. Pumpkins After Dark: Up at Country Heritage Park in Milton, walk along a quarter-mile path that showcases over 5,000 jack-o-lanterns and over 100 pumpkin sculptures. It’s a great family event—especially for kids! 

Whatever you choose to do this year, please have a safe, warm, and happy fall season!

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Things To Do During The Victoria Day Long Weekend

BBQ: Now that the weather’s warming up slightly, it’s always nice to throw a BBQ with family and friends. Vicentina Meats is a great place to satisfy all of your meat needs, and if you’re in need of a new BBQ, you could always visit Dickson’s Home Hardware on Avenue road.

Bike Rides: It’s the perfect time of the year to get in some extra exercise! At Toronto Island, hop on a bike for a leisurely ride. It’s $9 per hour for a single bike, or $16 per hour if you want to double up.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays are in town, up against the Red Sox on Monday, May 20th—grab a pair of tickets if you’re around for the game.

Road Trip: If you’re up to it, take a road trip to Niagara Falls for some wine touring. For the kids, there’s Bird Kingdom, mini golf, and the Niagara Skywheel.

Museums: Visit and support your local museum on the weekend. Victoria Day Weekend at The Royal Ontario Museum includes Animal Explorers scavenger hunts for children 12 and under, and #FNLROM, featuring live music, food, dancing, and DJs.

Patio: Hit up a patio for some good grub and a good time. I particularly like Taylors Landing at Don Mills, because the service and food are excellent. Lavelle is perched on a huge rooftop complex with an excellent view of the CN Tower, and El Catrin is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Toronto.

Canada’s Wonderland: If you’re not afraid of heights, try out the new Yukon Striker aka the tallest dive roller coaster in the world! Be sure to stick around for the evening fireworks show.

Potluck Picnic: Spend this Victoria day weekend with all your friends! Sugar Beach Park is a great place along the Harbor Front to meet up and enjoy a delicious fun-filled afternoon.

Whatever your plans may be, I sincerely hope you and your family have a safe and restful long weekend!

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Top Ten Things to Do This Holiday Season

via GIPHY

There are plenty of fun and festive things to do this holiday season. Here are my Top 10 places to check out:

  1. Toronto Christmas Market – Experience the magic of the holidays with carols, hot food, and plenty of handcrafted goods to choose from! Treat your kids to a storytelling session or pictures with Santa himself. You can explore the Distillery Christmas Market until December 23rd. Admission is charged on weekends only, beginning at 5 PM on Fridays.
  2. Skating at City Hall, Harbourfront, or The Bentway Skate Trail – Sharpen your skates and head on over to the shoreline of Lake Ontario, Nathan Phillips Square, or underneath the Gardiner Expressway. If you don’t have your own pair of skates, you can rent them for a small fee. Show off your skating (and dancing) skills at the Harbourfront Centre on their DJ Skate Nights!
  3. Christmas Lights Across Canada 2018 in Ottawa – It’s obligatory to include at least one light festival in every holiday list. Take a trip to Canada’s capital to be dazzled by festive lights across the city and the Magical Winter Lightscapes show projected on the Parliament Buildings.
  4. Day Trips to Niagara  The Falls are always stunning in the winter. There are plenty of casinos, restaurants, and museums in the entertainment district.
  5. Rochester, NY  For a quick overnight trip, visit Rochester, New York. The holiday spirit is very much alive with Christmas Markets and plays such as “The Nutcracker”. I also highly recommend the Minnesota Children’s Museum, as it has great exhibits that emphasize education mixed with fun.
  6. Ripley’s Aquarium  To see amazing creatures from under the sea, there’s always Ripley’s Aquarium. For the holidays they have special events such as breakfast with Santa! The aquarium is open daily from 9 AM to 11 PM.
  7. Eat Out – It’s never a bad time to take your family out to a nice dinner or lunch for some quality bonding time. Of course, nothing beats a home-cooked meal but sometimes it’s nice not to do the dishes. For those lazy mornings, go out for a nice brunch!
  8. Afternoon Tea – Feeling fancy? Head over to Fairmont Royal York for holiday tea and sandwiches at the Library Bar every Saturday and Sunday. A special new year’s day tea is also available on January 1st.
  9. Skiing and Snow Tubing – If you don’t mind heading up a bit north of Toronto, the ski hills are open at Snow Valley and Blue Mountain! For something a bit different, try out snow tubing—it’s easy and fun for the entire family.
  10. Great Wolf Lodge – The Lodge transforms into Snowland for the holiday season. Not only do they have a life-sized Gingerbread house, but they also have daily holiday events. You can also enroll the kids in North Pole University

Whatever you choose to do over the winter break, all of us at SQM hope you have a safe and enjoyable holidays!

 

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