Forget the new tie this Father’s Day! Sons and daughters everywhere are stepping up their games. With abundant resources like Pinterest, Facebook, online magazines and Twitter… the competition for Father’s Day ideas is really heating up.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the most thoughtful gifts are still the best ones. You don’t need to spend very much money to make Dad feel loved. Just remember what he likes, and go from there. And Dads’ favourite gifts? They always include spending time with the old man.
Here are just a few of the great ideas I’ve seen around…
Personalized Bagged Lunch for Work
Here’s one for the kids, or maybe if you live close to Dad. How adorable is a homemade brown bagged lunch? Add a little Happy Father’s Day message in sharpie, hand it to him on the way out the door, and Dad’s smiling all day!
Fresh Baked Cookies
This timeless gift is irresistible to fathers everywhere. Even if you’re not sure what his favourite cookie is, go with always-delcious chocolate chip, and surprise him when they’re warm out of the oven!
A Game of Golf Together
A get-together on the green represents three things a lot of Dads love: playing sports, spending quality time with their kids, and drinking a cold beer or two. Plus it’s outdoors, in June!
Ice Cold Beer
Something as simple as a six-pack of Dad’s favourite beer, ice cold, waiting for him in the fridge when he gets home can be a thoughtful, relaxing gift for the old man to enjoy.
Yes, that’s right. Dad-type snacks aren’t that hard to make at home, and it turns out you can make them pretty darn tasty. Even tastier than store-bought. So roll up your sleeves and whip up some spicy roasted peanuts, throw ‘em in a mason jar, and label them for Dad only. He’ll love it. If you’re a keener, make him something that requires a bit more lead time, like homemade pickles.
Home-cooked Dinner with Beer Pairings
Beer pairings are the new wine pairings. Everyone’s doing it, and beer tastes great with well-matched food. Ramp up that home-cooked Father’s Day dinner with some creative beer pairings and Dad will surely be blown away.
Framed Family Photo
Whether it’s a photo from his birthday a year ago, or one you dug out from the old family album, taking the time to frame a great snapshot of you and Dad is always a special gift.
It’s that time of the year again! The air is getting warmer, the sun is shining (occasionally) and we’re gearing up for a great spring and summer harvest. New fruits and vegetables coming your way! What an exciting time of the year.
On the south shore, we’re lucky to be surrounded by a tonne of great farms and, of course, farmers’ markets! If you live in the area and haven’t ventured to our local markets yet, or you’re a visitor and looking to explore the local, seasonal produce, here is our annual farmers’ market roundup.
Located in the Lunenburg Community Centre parking lot, the Lunenburg Farmers Market is back for 2013, open Saturdays from 8am-12pm. Opened mid-May.
The Hubbards Barn & Community Park Farmers Market opened on Mother’ Day weekend, celebrating their 18th year! Drop by on Saturdays from 8am-12pm and stay for a leisurely stroll through the 6-acre park. Check out their great website for a guide to what’s in season.
The Bridgewater Farmers Market, located on the town’s main drag, King Street (between Empire and Dominion) is opening June 1. This market operates Saturdays from 9am – 1pm.
The beautiful town of Mahone Bay will begin operating their farmers’ market on May 28th in the Blockhouse School (63 School Road). A great venue for rain or shine market-going, every Tuesday from 10am-2pm.
And don’t forget about the New Ross Country Farm Market, located in Lion’s Park (Highway #12)! Starting June 2nd, open every Saturday from 9am-12pm. Make a day out of it with the family and stay for the historic Ross Farm Museum experience!
Not on the south shore? Find a market near you with this great website!
Get those spring and summer recipes out – it’s time to enjoy new seasonal Nova Scotia foods!
Thinking about summer? So are we. These past few days in Nova Scotia have felt like Mother Nature decided to skip spring! It’s definitely not too early to get out on the patio and prepare for the next few glorious months of warmer weather – if you’re not out there already! Your patio has been in hibernation all winter, and it’s time to for some quick DIY tips on how to make sure the deck is ready to go.
Clean, clean and more clean
Once you removed the debris from the patio, give it a good pressure wash, or thorough clean and rinse with the hose. Wipe down the outside of patio windows and doors, and be sure to clean off the house siding. If you’re feeling keen – it might even be time to reseal the deck!
Don’t forget about cleaning the patio furniture. No matter where you’ve stored your pieces, chances are they’re a little musty or mildewy. Depending on your level of dirt and mould, a mild soap and water solution should work just fine. Be careful about using harmful cleaning chemicals outdoors – they can seep into the ground and affect plants in your yard.
Now it’s time to make a plan. How many potted herbs do you want on the deck this year? How many hanging baskets? Do you have flower boxes? Maybe you’re adding some to the collection. Get a firm count on how many receptacles you have to fill and what type of plants you want – be sure to take into account which plants need how many hours of sunlight per day, and plan strategically. If you’re a beginner, use a gardening website like this to do research on sun exposure and spacing.
Once you’ve got your list, head to the farmers’ market, local nursery or garden centre!
Reusing and DIY
It’s time to size up what you’ve got on the patio and what you can reuse. If you take well enough care of your patio furniture it should last several years. You can easily revamp some pieces by repainting, buying new covers for cushions, or simply a thorough deep-cleaning.
If you’re looking to add a few new pieces to the collection – time to start shopping around! To be environmentally friendly, check out websites for used goods, such as your local Kijiji site – you can snag great furniture for much less money.
If you want to get outside and get your hands dirty on some DIY projects, I’d recommend checking out Pinterest for some inspiration.
Once the basics are covered, it’s time for those small touches that will make your patio great. Line the deck with your white Christmas lights, and purchase a few new candles for the season. Pick up some cute patio lanterns. Keep an eye out for outdoor placemats and accent pillows. If it’s in the budget – splurge for outdoor speakers that are weather resistant. And of COURSE… make sure the barbecue is cleaned, safe and ready to go!
Happy patio season!
We don’t usually toot our own horn like this, but here at Atlantica Hotel & Marina Oak Island, we’ve really got Mother’s Day covered. Seriously.
Last year I posted some great ideas for mom around the south shore (which are all still applicable) – but this year I’ve really got to give credit where credit is due. There’s no reason to go any further than our beautiful property for everything mom desires this Mother’s Day.
Let me break it down…
First and maybe most important, we’ve got a fantastic, indulgent, totally mom-worthy brunch buffet happening. Everything you could ever want is being offered, along with a special kids’ food table and pricing. We go over the top and even offer live entertainment, hand massages and gift bags for mom!
Spa + Relaxation
If you want to make a day of it and book an appointment to stay for a spa treatment, Aqua Spa is on-site and ready to pamper you and mom. The spa offers a very wide range of services from reflexology to massage therapy to body wraps. Or just get your hair and makeup done, for fun!
Don’t have time on Mother’s Day – get her a gift card!
Have an active mom? Stick around the property for a leisurely walk, check out the scenery, or take on a seaside hiking trail. We’re pet-friendly so feel free to bring the fur babies along for the adventure!
Looking for something to wrap up for mom? We’ve got that too! Aqua Spa has a thoughtful retail collection, offering perfect-for-mom gift ideas like purses, scarves, and an array of beauty products. Our retail offering is ever-changing, so stop by and browse awhile!
Need some extended relaxation? Just make a night or weekend out of it, and invite Mom to have a mini getaway. We’re offering great deals and packages through the month of May, some with dining options and spa discounts, check it out here.
Whether you’re from the south shore of Nova Scotia or away, chances are you’ve heard of sauerkraut before. Sauerkraut has deep roots in our part of the province; the recipe having traveled overseas with our early Dutch and German settlers. Luckily our ancestors set up camp in a land where cabbage grew well and this comfort food dish could continue to be made.
One of the most popular brands comes from an island in the bay off Chester, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg and Western Shore (where we are) called Tancook Island. M.A. Hatt & Son started making Tancook Sauerkraut here four generations ago. They’ve said their family recipe dates back to those early settlers.
Although the sauerkraut plant later moved to just outside Lunenburg and off the island, the Tancook brand successfully continues on, striking a chord of brand loyalty with sauerkraut fans throughout the south shore.
So how do you make sauerkraut, and what do you eat with it? Here it’s popular to have with sausages, but it can actually be a side dish with any hearty meal. The acidic flavour pairs nicely with fatty meats or rich foods.
The direct translation of the word in German actually means “sour cabbage,” and the dish, while requiring some equipment you may not have readily on hand, and plenty of patience, is still doable if you’re feeling adventurous.
While no one (except the Hatts) know the secret Tancook brand recipe, here’s a traditional style one I found online.
Adapted from the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz
Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)
- Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater
- Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
- One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)
- Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)
Ingredients (for 1 gallon):
- 5 pounds cabbage
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.
- Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage.
- (Optional) Add other vegetables. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Experiment.
- Mix ingredients together and pack into crock. Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and push it down hard using your fists or any (other) sturdy kitchen implement. Packing the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
- Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
- Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the cabbage slowly. Some cabbage, particularly if it is old, simply contains less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
- Leave the crock to ferment. You could store it in a cool basement if you want a slower fermentation that will preserve for longer.
- Check the kraut every day or two. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. Sometimes mold appears on the surface. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes.
- Enjoy. I generally scoop out a bowl- or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge. Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below brine just add salted water as necessary.
At Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island, we understand that you want a vacation experience with the entire family. Why leave anyone behind? Bring the fur babies (and the real babies) on your getaway for a true family vacation to remember.
Since we’re so proud to be a pet-friendly hotel, what better way to encourage our guests to bring their furry friends than to share some travel tips? Brought to you by our experiences at Atlantica as well as a bit of research… presenting our top six pet-friendly travel tips!
1. Remember You’re the Boss
There’s nothing worse than out-of-control animals at hotels and resorts, ruining the reputations of all those well-behaved pets out there who love to travel! Make sure you encourage the culture of traveling with pets by ensuring your pet is on its best behaviour at all times (often just being calm and happy yourself with achieve this).
Be sure you assert that you are in control of this new environment – like the hotel room – by making your pet sit and wait patiently while you explore the room.
Other guests who see how easy (and fun) it can be to travel with pets just might decide to bring their fur baby along next time!
2. Do Your Research
If you’re traveling further afield with your pet than just a road trip, be sure to fully research your destination beforehand. Look into the airline’s rules for flying with pets, and read the government policies for foreign countries about bringing in animals. Make sure your destination will be a safe and happy environment for your pet before jumping on the plane! And of course, make sure your accommodations allow pets, like us!
3. Keep Your Pet Healthy & Happy
A healthy pet is a happy pet – and if you’re traveling with your animal you want them to be at their best. Stay on top of vet appointments, needles and any medications. This way you can be sure your pet won’t get any other animals sick – or feel sick – during your travels.
Of course ensure your pet is fed and well-hydrated during both plane and car travel.
Let your pet get plenty of exercise and a chance to burn off steam before beginning your travels or entering the hotel room – where your pet will most likely be confined to a small space. Your furry friend is more likely to relax during the ride or flight if its had plenty of physical activity beforehand.
5. Bring Their Favourite Toy
To help your animal feel calm and happy, bring along one or two of their favourite toys from home. This will create a familiar feeling and scent, and help to relax your pet.
When you reach your hotel or resort, be sure you go on a long walk with your pet. This will give your animal the exercise it probably needs after traveling and will also familiarize both of you with the area. Be sure to pay extra attention to what your pet might see, smell or possibly taste in this new environment. It’s your responsibility to keep your pet healthy and happy while traveling.
One of the best times of the year for adorable crafts, baked goods and other cute projects is Easter! No matter how old you are, there’s a fun Easter project out there to take on.
One of my fondest childhood memories involves helping my mom make a bunny-shaped cake completely covered in coconut flakes.
Kids love crafting, baking and helping out! Here are my seven favourite Easter ideas I’ve rounded up via (what else?) Pinterest.
1. Great for little kids
An easy craft for younger kids – a fuzzy Easter chick! From Makeandtakes.com
2. Healthier Easter basket idea
A great Easter-themed snack that isn’t necessarily sugary or chocolate! From nofussfabulous.com
3. A delicious way to impress!
A cheesecake filled chocolate egg with passionfruit yolk. Learn how to do it at raspberricupcakes.com!
4. Kids make their own
Have the kids make their own stylish Easter basket this year! From parenting.com
5. Brighten up the house
The house will look sunnier with this sunflower made of PEEPS!!! A super fun idea from womansday.com
6. A treat for after Easter dinner…
Love peanut butter cookies? Make them in to a PIE, with mini-eggs, and you’ve got a fun Easter dessert! From crazyforcrust.com
7. A simple idea worth hours of fun!
You know this one never gets old! A super easy to make craft idea for all ages. Great to wear on Easter morning during the egg hunt! From parenting.com
If you’re going to be in our neck of the woods for Easter, don’t miss our:
Family Fun Easter Weekend
- The Great Sunday Easter Egg Hunt & much more!
….or Grand Easter Brunch!
The month of February can often bring on a case of the the winter blahs. It seems to drag on a bit, partially because you’ve already shovelled the driveway numerous times, and you know there’s still March to get through before the spring weather really hits. Another factor for me, is because I’m ready for the spring vegetables to be in season!
Even if you’re sick of root vegetables by now, like me, here are some resources to spice up the winter days in your kitchen! Keep things fresh and fun (and more carbon-friendly) by sticking to some unique seasonal cooking.
One great resource I love to use, to keep it local, is the Select Nova Scotia website. Not only can you view a chart on what’s in season (to plan before you head to the farmers’ marker), you can also view many fun recipes.
Here’s a fresh and fun way to look at using beets, a winter staple in Nova Scotia (recipe from Select Nova Scotia).
Makes 12 cupcakes
500g (1 lb) beets
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter
3/4 cup (175 mL) sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) flour
2 1/4 tsp (12 mL) baking powder
3/4 tsp (3 mL) salt
For the icing:
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) icing sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
½ cup (125 mL) beetroot water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
Cut beets into quarters and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to boil. Simmer partially covered, for 35 – 45 minutes, or until very tender. Remove beets from water and leave to cool. Reserve 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water for the icing. When beets are cool, peel off skins and place beets in a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Measure 1 cup (250 mL) of purée for the cupcakes. Remaining purée can be frozen for future cupcakes.
Beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, until smooth. Add vanilla and beet purée and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Again in a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of whites into butter mixture. Add 1/3 of flour mixture, stir gently just until combined. Continue taking turns adding egg whites and flour mixture, being careful to keep everything light and fluffy.
Spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes, or until tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes and leave to cool on a rack.
Beat the butter in mixing bowl until soft. Add icing sugar until a spreadable consistency. Add vanilla and beetroot water, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) at a time, until icing is light pink in colour.
Ice cupcakes when they have cooled. Serve, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months.
(recipe from Select Nova Scotia)
For more seasonal and regional ideas, also check out Nova Scotia.com, or this great blog about cooking in the Maritimes The Bite House.
And make sure to look for our new menu in La Vista Dining Room, launching in April!
Here at Atlantica Hotel & Marina Oak Island, March Break is sort of our “thing”. Let’s just say… we’ve been doing it for a long time, and we know how to do it right. Each year SO many families leave our property happy, after a fun-filled March Break full of cool, interesting and awesome experiences that appeal to all ages.
We’ve got so many activities going on for the whole family this year, it’s just crazy! For more information on rates and availability, click here.
To simply check out all the fun, read our full schedule of events and activities HERE!
click photo for source
If you live in the area or you’re staying with us on Valentine’s Day, you don’t want to miss the delicious menu that Chef Joharchy has put together!
Our Valentine’s Day offering will be available February 14-16, from 5-9pm in La Vista Dining Room. There will be live entertainment!
La Vista Dining Room Sweet Heart Special
House cured salmon with lemon jam and capers
Wild mushroom soup with thyme and truffle oil
Salad of baby arugula, roasted pears, herbed goat’s cheese crostini and balsamic drizzle
Pan-seared duo of salmon and tiger shrimp with brandy and lobster sauce
Supreme breast of chicken stuffed with brie and apples, with sage-riesling cream sauce
Striploin steak with red wine sauce
Double chocolate pate with pistachio and dark rum creme Anglaise
$37.95 per person
HST and gratuity not included
Reservations strongly recommended. Call 627-2600 ext. 331