Posted in Canada, Community, family, Food, Life, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Returning This Summer: PC Insiders Report (YAY!)


I opened my email this morning and saw a teaser from Loblaws CEO Galen Weston, that an old favourite was returning.

My mind immediately began to race to PC products which I loved, that have gone by the wayside, and couldn’t wait to see what was coming back – hoping that it was something that we could actually use.

The email read like this:
“I hope you’re keeping well as we hold the course with our physical distancing measures. Most of my updates over these past months have been focused on logistics – the work we’ve done to help keep our colleagues and communities safe. But as the urgency has eased somewhat and I take a wider view of the situation, I have some thoughts I’d like to share.

Billions of people have been asked to stop, to stay inside. And as our worlds have gotten smaller, interesting things are happening out there. You may have seen pictures of mountain goats and monkeys roaming empty streets. Or images of cleaner waterways and side-by-side comparisons of skies over Los Angeles, New Delhi and Barcelona – grey and smoggy pre-pandemic, crisp blue today. Experts say this quieting of human activity has resulted in less seismic noise – that is, the planet is not vibrating as much as usual. Some have joked the birds must be singing much louder. But it may just be that we can hear them better now.

This large-scale slowdown can give us new perspective. We can imagine what we might do differently or better once this all passes. Many of us have become more focused on what we’re eating – what’s essential, what we could do without, or do with a little less of. In my case, I’m a bit of a carnivore, and I’m trying to eat less meat and more vegetables. I know many of you are too.

This movement toward flexitarianism – eating mainly vegetables, fruit, beans and grains, meat only occasionally – is growing. People are curious about the benefits, they want more information and options.

And it’s gotten me thinking: how can our team at President’s Choice do what it does best, keep Canadians up-to-date on the latest product innovations and inspirational meal ideas, while also going deeper on big food issues, like flexitarianism and sustainability? The team reminded me that the PC Insiders Report publication used to do all that.

So, this summer, we’re bringing it back.

For those of you who remember it, in the ‘80s, the Insider’s Report booklet was the kickoff to the big seasons, the highlight of summer and holiday grocery shopping. For those who don’t remember: it really was. This new, fully digital version will give you a taste of the latest trends, fresh recipes for BBQ season, and dozens of new and amazing PC products. And it will have more: I’m going to work with our team on thoughtful stories about larger food issues that Canadians are curious about.

Our team has worked hard to help you get the most out of summer. Every product and every story has been crafted with care, passion and ultimately the love of food in mind. The idea is that we can have both: joy in the food we want, and the information we need to help us eat better and live better. For me these days, that means more big salads. And several PC® Ice Cream Shop Banana Split Mini Ice Cream Bars.”

Let’s have a good summer.

Galen Weston

 
Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, PC Optimum™

Can I tell you, if you do not remember the Insider Report, just how amazing it was… It provide a snapshot of new PC products that were coming down the pipeline, soon to be in stores. It was always a big hit in my family, and I have such fond memories of looking at all the different food options and choices, which we wanted to purchase.

The Blue Menu was one of the game changers that I remember seeing because there were many foods which we wanted to try but were traditionally too high in fat or salt, but the blue menu took a lot of those, cleaned them up, and made them available and affordable.

Around the holidays, I remember the fancy ice creams and desserts which we used to drool over, but never buy.

Rather than walk into a grocery store and search aisle by aisle, this report highlights the newest products and cuts down the wander time in stores, which make a ton of sense in this day and age.

Thank you, Galen!

Can’t wait!!!

Posted in Canada, Daddy, family, Food, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, travel

Mother’s Day, Travel and Food


This Mother’s Day represents the first Mother’s Day without my mother, who passed away last July after a brief, but fierce battle with liver cancer.

I don’t need one day to remember her – Her memory is with me every day, especially when I see the numerous things that my kids do, that I wish her, and my father, were here to see.

Love you, Mom.

That aside, I’m fortunate to have another amazing mother in my life, and that is the mother of my children. She’s been the best mother on the planet for my kids – besides the fact that they (thankfully) get their good looks from her – and possibly their smarts from here, but I digress. She’s been a rock for them and I’ll be forever thankful to her.

One thing that she’s instilled in our family is a love of travel.

As a family, we’ve travelled to the following locations;

  • Eastern Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI)
  • US (mainly NY, but also Florida and Georgia)
  • Ecuador (and Galapagos. Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil)
  • France (mainly Paris with the kids, but most of the country over 4 or 5 visits)
  • Holland (Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans, Edam)
  • Belgium (Bruges, Brussels, Ghent)
  • Japan (Tokyo & Kyoto)
  • Viet Nam (Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang)
  • Thailand (Bangkok, Chaing Mai)
  • Cambodia (Siem Riep, Phnom Pehn)
  • Iceland
  • Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Girona)
  • Ireland (Dublin)
  • England (London)
  • Italy (Cinque Terra, Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Pisa, Lake Como, San Gimignano)
  • Taiwan (Tai Pai)
  • Indonesia (Bali, Ubud, Jimbaran)
  • Central America (Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Dominican, Bahamas, Puerto Rico)

For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to do something special for her, so I asked my kids to talk about their favourite places they’ve travelled to, and their favourite foods from those locations.

Taking that information, I then created a menu, of sorts, and attempted to create (or buy) foods which could be a reminder of the joy we experienced travelling as a family – knowing also that there will likely be no travel for quite a while, as things presently stand.

I bought some Japanese, Italian, and Thai treats, and I bought plain croissants, chocolate croissants, Camembert, dragon fruit, a sourdough baguette, and a soy milk drink.

I then attempted to make savory mushroom crepes, frites with a garlic aioli, and French macarons with a vanilla buttercream filling.

Well, the macarons caused me a whole heck of a lot of problems, so I ran out of time and steam, and at 3am, gave up on the frites.

The crepes were not that much of a big deal – I’ve made them many times before, beginning in high school when I took a baking class instead of Industrial Arts for a 3rd time. I earned the 2nd highest mark in the class – and I used the skills that I learned in class to bake quite a bit growing up.

I never really cooked that much, even though I enjoyed it. I think along the way I just got complacent and lazy, having a spouse who cooks creatively and very well, I lost my ability to cook. I want to get that back, so this was the start of hopefully many more attempts at cooking delicious food.

Here is how my macaron turned out. I coloured the shell and the filling different shades of purple.

Not bad for a first attempt, eh?

Happy Mother’s Day to the mother of my children, and to all mothers, everywhere.

Posted in Canada, disaster, family, health, Parenting, Recommends, school, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

March Break / COVID-19 / CoronaVirus Self-Isolation To Do List


March Break plans ruined? Travel plans cancelled? Activities for the kids also cancelled? COVID-19 has you in self-isolation? Keeping your “Social Distance”? Tired of hearing the “Corona-Time” song from Tik Tok?

If you, like everyone else, are running out of ideas for things to be because everything is closed until mid-April… What could you possibly do with the kids during an extended March Break?

Here at The Urban Daddy, we have some practical suggestions to not only keep your kids entertained, but keep you engaged, while allowing the kids to get a jump on their return to school without them knowing.

Here are our suggestions:

Reconnect with the great outdoors!

Walks, bike-riding, practicing sports, and helping around the house, digging the garden, planting flowers and raking the lawn. Get to know (Reconnect with) your neighbours. Have BBQ’s, do yoga, pick up some garbage in the community… All with lots of soap, hand sanitizer and without electronics.

Electronics – More than just for games!

While I feel that my kids are already in quarantine – they come home from school, head up to their rooms, hit the electronics and show up only for dinner. While Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat are fun, there is only such much you can do in a day, week, month, so let’s expand the use of computers beyond entertainment, and use it for educational purposes too. Have your kids learn about SEO, how to make websites, teach them to code, while you learn to code too.

The possibilities are endless.

Computers for Education

While the teacher unions here in Ontario might think that online classes are a REALLY bad idea, thankfully they’re not teaching our children, because with schools closing for anywhere from 3-5 weeks, or for the rest of the school year, we are suddenly seeing school boards heading to online classes to salvage the rest of the school year.

It only makes sense, and from what I’ve seen, some schools just needed a couple of days to move to online classes, while other schools were already ramping up.

I’m a huge fan of online classes and courses – I did my MBA online, and in this day and age, all kids should be familiar with online classes and courses not only in case of a global pandemic, but also in case they wanted to advance themselves and take extra or additional courses.

Get a jump on the eLearning train and sign yourself and your kids up for courses. My 13-year-old is currently in grade 8, but is working on his grade 9 math credit at the same time.

I’m working on some courses towards my Google certification and my Quickbooks certification.

Catch up on Family Time – Movies & Board Games

I strongly recommend family movies – stay away from movies called Outbreak, or that deal with the end of the world. Common Sense Media, is a website that rates most TV shows, movies and video games according to age appropriateness to help parents figure out what their kids should be watching.

Some of the games that we’ve played include; Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity (not with the kids!!), Rummicube, Exploding Kittens, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Carcassonne, Sushi Go, Chess, Boggle, Yatzee, just to name some more recently played.

Read Books

Nothing says getting a start on learning like developing a love of reading. Reading uses our imagination, helps us to learn new words, see proper punctuation, and spend hours doing something alone.

More importantly, in the event public libraries get shut down, there are plenty of resources available in digital format too.  eBooks, eAudioBooks, Movies, Comics, Music, Magazines and Videos. All you need is a library card!

A few years ago I introduced my eldest to the series of Dan Brown books – The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Origin, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, Digital Fortress (This one you can skip, Sorry Dan), and Deception Point. I read through those books in records time and so has he. We’re looking forward to reading the newest Dan Brown book Wild Symphony.

In addition to those books, any Star Wars book has also been a wildly popular with my readers – not just the books that the movies are based off of, but all the little series and sub-series.

Spring Cleaning

Nothing says time to re-do the bedroom – change over winter clothes to spring clothes, check sizing, and re-do parts of the house than having the time to do so. If there is a pantry that you wanted to tear apart and re-organize alphabetically, this is your chance! How about cleaning up the kids playroom and donating toys they don’t use anymore? Again, now is the time.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks, so make sure you wash your hands often, keep your hands off of your face and stay away from people if you’re under the weather. Protect yourself and that will protect others.

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, events, family, Food, Parenting, Recommends, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Celebrate Canada’s Most Iconic Tradition at the 2020 Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival


What’s more Canadian than maple syrup?

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation have partnered to celebrate spring in true Canadian fashion with the annual Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival.

The festival gives visitors from the Greater Toronto Area and beyond the opportunity to savour the season as they get out into nature and indulge in Canada’s most famous food.

Running March 14 – April 12, 2020, the festival takes place at four locations: Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan, Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville, Terra Cotta Conservation Area in Halton Hills and Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville.

The Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival kicks off on the first weekend of March Break and offers visitors the chance to explore the history, customs and production of maple syrup at their local conservation area. With a variety of activities to choose from including horse-drawn wagon rides, maple syrup demonstrations and even special “Maple Syrup by Lamplight” events for adults, the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival has something for visitors of all ages.

Delicious pancakes with fresh maple syrup can also be purchased at all festival locations.

I have such fond memories as a child and teen attending events like this – possibly even this event.

Tickets to the festival are available at the participating conservation areas and online at maplesyrupfest.com, and, tickets purchased online give unlimited general admission to all festival locations.

Hours and dates of operation vary by location and are listed below.
Kortright Centre for Conservation
Open each day from March 14 – April 12
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area
Open on weekends (March 14 – April 12), including March Break (March 16 – 20) and Good Friday (April 10)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Terra Cotta Conservation Area
Open on weekends (March 14 – April 5) and March Break (March 16 – 20)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Island Lake Conservation Area
March 20, 21 & 28
Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit maplesyrupfest.com.

Posted in Life

Thursday 13: 13 Things that I do because, I’m a Dad. A Father. Therefore I do “Dad” things.


As a Dad and a father, things change, and there are now certain expectations or responsibilities which make me who I am. 

Here are just 13 things that changed when I became Dad.

  1. Changing expectations when eating vegetables.  My broccoli no longer includes the flourettes, instead my portion is the stems – the part that no one likes to eat.
  2. .. Yum.  But that would be plain cheese pizza because that’s what the family eats. Or, if I’m lucky. Otherwise, I get a whole lot of crusts, and I hope and pray that those crusts have some sauce or cheese on them.
  3. Leftovers? What are those? As Dad, leftovers are my meals.  After “Daddy, daddy, daddy, I want oatmeal for breakfast” and then after refusing to eat it, I pack it up, toss it in the fridge, and then I either eat that oatmeal for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the next few days.
  4. Sniffing or tasting food which someone suspects may not be suitable to eat. If it looks funny, smells funny, is close to the posted expiry date, or has been in the fridge just a bit too long to feed to the kids, it goes into my tummy. Yum.
  5. Cleaning up Poo.  All Poo, anywhere.  Kids, poo, toilet poo, poo in clothing, poo on floors, animals poo, things that might be poo…
  6. Cleaning up vomit… (see above). Nuff said.
  7. When there is a night walker in the house, I intercept.  If there is a line up to sleep with mommy, I move.  If there is a child falling out of bed, or anything nightly disturbance, Daddy is on the scene! That usually means that within a week, I’ve pretty much slept everywhere in the house, but that’s okay so long as everyone else has a good night’s sleep because I’m so exhausted all the time I can sleep anywhere, anytime.
  8. Carpool / Taxi service, call it what you want, but it’s daddy’s territory.
  9. Back-up school help in areas where I am so not qualified, often at the end of a long day:

“Do quotation marks go before or after the period or question mark?”

“Huh?”

“I think I missed that day in public school”. (Child not accepting that answer).  “There is an American way and a Canadian way.”

Still not buying it.

Stalling long enough to Google that question and come up with this answer:

“There is a difference between US and British/Canadian punctuation styles.  In the US, trailing periods and commas always appear inside the quotation marks, for example, “Let’s go to the zoo.” Or, another example, like the spelling of the word is “ampersand.” Or, final example, He said, “Go now,” and turned away.
But in Canada and in the UK, they follow the logical extension of the quote. The period or comma goes outside the quotation mark, except where the period is part of a quote. For example, He said “The day is long.” Or, the movie was called “Benji”.

How about question marks? Well, If you’re quoting a question then the “?” goes within the quotation marks, as in this example, Sally asked, “Where are you going?”

Not to be confusing, but if you’re asking a question about a quote, then the “?” goes after the quotation marks, as in this example. Did Sally say, “We are going to the zoo”?

Clear as mud, eh? I think I taught them to stop asking me questions.

  1. Act responsibly behind the wheel.  I can only slightly exceed the speed limit if everyone in my car is sleeping and if I do so without putting anyone in harm’s way (like weaving in and out of traffic).  Duh.  Learning to not swear at / talk to other cars was WAY more difficult.
  2. Going to the toilet will / has never been the same. If it’s not trying to figure out how the seat got wet when the boys are supposed to pick up the seat to pee, and how the floor got soaked when nobody in my family admits to having used that bathroom, like ever. Or when there is pee on the wall, or all the toilet paper is in the toilet, or someone forgot to flush, or the icing on the cake, whenever I’m in the bathroom and manage to lock the door only to have it unlocked and before I know it I’m face to face with a child.
  3. Promote the playing of sports for fun, while competing, but always within the rules.  I don’t want to be that Dad who forces my son to play a sport because I never had the chance or was good at it.  That’s the best way to build up resentment and that’s not what our generation does…
  4. Keep lines of communication open at all times, and make sure that children are able to read situations and most importantly that they are able to learn what it is that their mother wants / needs and to be sure that she gets it.  She did, after all, birth those kids which I think trumps (not the Donald) everything else that I can and do as a father / dad.

 

What’s changed for you?