STIHL Canada Flag

The Do’s and Don’ts of Chainsaw Use!

Over the past few months, I have been talking to you about how I like to use my STIHL Lithium-Ion Chainsaw to get things done. We have talked about getting your yard ready for summer and gone over tips on how to be a helpful neighbour, but now is time for the most important lesson of all! Here is my definitive list on the Do’s and Don’ts of owning a chainsaw.

STIHL Post 3 Bubble Wrap

Do NOT – Protect yourself by wrapping yourself in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is excellent for shipping fragile items in the mail. I use it all the time and, in fact, this may not be the only time I have wrapped myself in it… That said, bubble wrap is a terrible choice when it comes to protecting yourself while using your STIHL chainsaw.

DO – Use tested and approved protective chaps. As you will see in this video, STIHL’s protective chaps were made with specific fibers to withstand an accidental touch on your leg. You definitely don’t want to leave anything to chance when thinking about safety while using a chainsaw. Along with protective chaps, STIHL recommends also wearing safety gloves, a protective helmet, protective gloves, safety shoes, and protective eyewear.

STIHL Canada Juggling

Do NOT – Attempt to juggle chainsaws at your child’s birthday party. As awesome as your kids may think you are for doing this, that will take a very quick turn when they realize that you do not even know how to juggle balls yet, let alone chainsaws!

DO – Use your chainsaw to clean up your yard before attempting to juggle balls at your child’s birthday party. On second thought, just don’t do any juggling at your child’s birthday. Nobody wants to see that; however, all the kids will be excited to have a nice clean yard to play in before the cake comes out!

STIHL Canada Careless

Do NOT – Leave your chainsaw lying around when you are finished with it. I get it, yard work can be tiring, but the job isn’t completely finished until everything is put away properly.

DO – Store your chainsaw in a dry, ventilated and safe place, away from kids’ curious hands. I’m not sure what more needs to be said here. Keep your chainsaw away from your kids’ toys and make sure it’s in a safe place where it won’t get ruined.

STIHL Canada Scare Kids

Do NOT – Scare your children by jumping out from behind the shower curtain while wearing a hilarious mask and carrying your chainsaw… Hilarious? Definitely! Safe in any way whatsoever for anyone involved?? Definitely NOT! I can’t stress enough that you should never, ever do this under any circumstances!

DO – Teach your children that you are a responsible adult who takes the appropriate safety precautions when getting ready to use your STIHL Lithium-Ion Chainsaw on the tasks that it was designed for.

And that wraps up my definitive list of Do’s and Don’ts for proper chainsaw use. I hope you found it helpful, along with my other posts this year, and I highly encourage you to look into STIHL’s line of lithium-ion chainsaws as mine has absolutely cut my yard work time in half this year. Yep, I closed with a chainsaw pun. Deal with it!

*Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this campaign.*

Onlia Winter Safe driving Week Kit

Why Are We All In Such A Hurry?

*Thank you to Onlia.ca for sponsoring this blog post. Read on to find out how you can win $1,000 just for getting your car ready for winter!*

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, wondering if I should wade into these waters, but the more I see it, the more frustrated I get and want to get it off my chest. So, here it is. What is happening on the roads these days?! I’m serious. At least three times a day I see someone either blowing through a stop sign in our residential school zone, driving while staring at their phones, not clearing the snow off their car, flying passed stopped city and school buses, and 100 other dangerous maneuvers. In an effort to what? Save 3 minutes off your trip? Is that really worth the possibility of hitting another car, or worse, a child on their way to school?

The truth is that I don’t like waiting at lights or behind buses either but guess what? That is a part of the deal when you get behind the wheel! I know what you’re thinking and the answer is, yes, I did just create a catchy new rhyming slogan for drivers everywhere, and yes, you have my permission to spread it far and wide!

Look, my point here is that we need to take a step back and evaluate if we are doing the best and safest job we can while we are behind the wheel of our cars. I’m certainly no exception and am constantly striving to better my driving skills, especially when the kids are in the car with me as they have grown accustomed to pointing out every tiny flaw in my game.

With December 1st to the 7th being Safe Driving Week here in Canada, Onlia, a brand new and innovative digital insurance company, is changing the game when it comes to promoting and rewarding safe driving habits. Onlia’s safe-driving mobile app, Onlia Sense, rewards users for being a safe and distraction-free driver by providing gift cards and other incentives! The Onlia Sense app uses telematics and GPS to assess your driving habits and gives you a report after each trip. You can get all the details and get your free online quote by visiting Onlia.ca today!

Onlia Winter Safe driving Week Kit

Onlia is also calling on all Canadian drivers to ensure their vehicle is properly maintained and prepared for safe winter driving this season so that together we can help ensure our roads and communities are a safer place. Share your tips and suggestions for how you have prepared for safe winter driving by uploading a photo or video to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, tagging Onlia and using the hashtags #OnliaCA & #SafeDrivingWeek for your chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree!! That’ll get you a very nice new set of winter tires!!

Don’t forget to visit Onlia.ca to get a free quote and to read more about how Onlia is changing the way insurance is done by giving you all the tools you need to be as safe as possible while you are on the roads!

Baby First Car Ride

The Long Drive Home

It’s one of those things that you never forget. Well on our way to the warmer temperatures and sunshine that comes with spring, we happily drove to the hospital for a check-up on our soon to be born first child. Being informed that we would not be leaving the hospital that day was a bit of a surprise but a happy one, knowing that we would soon be meeting our son.

Three days in the hospital felt like 20 minutes and as they shooed us out on our own, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t even close to being ready to handle the responsibility of raising another human being. That’s when it hit. The odds of one of the worst blizzards of winter hitting at the end of April, and more specifically, on the day that I had to drive our newborn son home, were not great. Yet, there it was!

My knuckles were as white as the snow I was fighting to see through as we made our way home that day. The snow pounded the window, making it feel like we were moving at warp speed, although based on the honking, I was definitely driving at least 20, fine, 40, kilometres under the posted speed limit. Luckily, we managed to make it home in one piece as we began our journey into parenthood.

It definitely took having children to realize that there were some areas of my life that I needed to tighten up a bit more. For instance, I had never purchased winter tires prior to having children, which definitely would have been helpful on that trip home from the hospital. I had also not given much thought to the type of vehicle I was driving, generally opting for the “whatever is cheapest” approach. This method left us with some fairly undesirable and frankly, impractical vehicles.

When we were looking to purchase our next car, I was a wise, veteran parent at this point and I had a way larger check list of things I needed from a vehicle to keep my family safe in any kind of weather. So, I did a ton of research on autoTRADER.ca before purchasing our last vehicle (yes, it’s a minivan), which led us to a great deal at Metro Dodge here in Ottawa. autoTRADER.ca was amazing in helping me compare prices between both dealer and private sellers, plus it allowed me to get a feel for what my current vehicle was worth as a sale or trade-in. It was a huge resource of information – from car comparisons, to reviews, I learned a lot about what I needed to know to make sure I was confident in my final decision. And, even after I bought my van, I found myself coming back to the site – the News & Features section was a great way to get expert opinions on all the burning questions I had, including what my warning lights mean, how to figure out insurance, cruise control tips and more.

Before I leave you, I’d like to take a moment to just say that minivans get a bad rap, but our minivan is the single greatest purchase we have ever made. We are able to shuttle the kids to all their sports without worrying about fitting the equipment in. We can pack the van full of their friends and head off on amazing adventures. Plus, now that I’m a big boy who buys winter tires, I am never afraid of being on the road in the winter anymore because a minivan is essentially a small tank. It’s one of those “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” kind of deals. Much like having children…

*Thanks autoTRADER.ca for partnering with me on this article*

Quaker Joy of Warmth Snowsuit

Bring The Joy Of Warmth To Those In Need This Winter

I’m just going to go ahead and admit it. I take for granted that my family is fortunate enough to have the means to stay warm throughout the winter. I also often take for granted that we have enough food on our plates, among other luxuries. That’s not to say I don’t try to do my part to help those in need, but simply that I sometimes get stuck in my cocoon and maybe don’t do as much as I should to give back.

According to the Angus Reid Institute, for one in five Canadian families, proper winter clothing has been a luxury they can’t afford This means that your child that your child may have friends at school who are suffering silently, while playing it off like they are “too cool” for winter clothes or that they just don’t like playing outside in the winter.

Quaker Joy of Warmth

Last week I was approached by Quaker® to see if I’d like to partner with them on their #JoyOfWarmth initiative and after reading about it, I couldn’t have been happier to say yes! The Quaker® brand has been warming Canadian families with hot oatmeal since 1902. This year, they want to help Canadian families in-need feel the #JoyOfWarmth by providing their children with winter coats to help stay warm during our cold Canadian winter.

On top of Quaker® working with Boys and Girls Clubs in Canada to provide new winter coats to children from families inneed, during the month of November, when you share the hashtag #JoyOfWarmth and tag @QuakerCanada on your public Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile, Quaker will provide a bowl of warm oatmeal to a child in need at Boys and Girls Club locations across the country, to a maximum of 100,000 bowls! Now that’s a lot of oatmeal!!

Quaker Joy of Warmth Oatmeal

I think we can all agree that tweeting, posting a photo or a Facebook post are all very easy things to do to create such a huge impact. I would also like to challenge those of you with the means to do so to pick up an extra snowsuit this year while you are out shopping for your kids and donate it somewhere you know that it will go to a child in-need this winter. Imagine not being able to play outside because your parents couldn’t afford warm clothes. Every single piece of warm clothing makes a huge difference in a child’s life!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Quaker® but this is a very important cause that we can all contribute to that will make a huge difference!

Greener World Fertilizer Feeding 2

Your Family Aren’t The Only Ones In Your House Who Need Feeding

Fall is a special time of year for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and all the amazing weather it brings, but Fall is when I can finally crush the neighbourhood kids at a handful of sports without overheating. What? Don’t act like you don’t enjoy dunking on a trash-talking 10-year-old!

If there’s one area of Fall that I have slacked on in recent years, it is lawn maintenance. Two years ago, I actually bought everything I needed to get my lawn ready for winter, but then got caught up in a month-long game of road hockey and totally blanked on it. Last year’s excuse was that I got lost in the mess that was my garage and just never got around to it.

Greener World Fertilizer Leftovers

This year, however, I was challenged by Greener World to take my lawn maintenance seriously and to actually get things done. And…..I DID!!! They provided an amazing list of tips & tricks, as well as the reasons why each step was important, which really helped this novice lawn keeper. I realized I did even know basic things like the fact that a healthy lawn produces more oxygen, naturally crowds out weeds, and helps prevent disease and insects. While I feel shame for not knowing more about maintaining my own property, it’s never too late to learn, right? Even just videos like the one below are extremely helpful for those just starting out with lawn maintenance.

I’m not going to get into the science behind fertilizing your lawn because, let’s be honest, you don’t come here for science lessons! You can get all that amazing info on the Fertilizer Canada website. What I am going to do is share a couple of the tips that helped me understand the process a bit better.

1. Plants need food (fertilizer) 3-4 times a year and a good way to remember when to feed is by using the following Canadian holidays: Easter, Victoria Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving.

2. It’s important to get right fertilizer for the season you are in. You can also grab a soil test kit at your local hardware store, so you can narrow down your fertilizer choices. (Make sure to grab a spreader while you’re there!)

3. Make sure to follow the instructions very closely. You don’t want to dump the whole bag of fertilizer on your lawn as it will do more harm than good. Most bags of fertilizer will have very detailed instructions about exactly how and when to feed your lawn, including important but easy to miss details like which spreader setting to use. I suggest studying them closely before you begin.

Greener World Fertilizer Settings

4. Sweep up the excess fertilizer from your driveway and walkways so it doesn’t run off into the storm drains.

5. Store the remainder of the fertilizer for future feedings. Make sure to keep the package sealed and the fertilizer dry. In case you are not interested in keeping it lying around in your garage all year, ask a neighbour if they’d like to use some. The woman that helped me at the hardware store mentioned that 1 bag can last a fairly long time if you have a smaller sized yard.

Greener World Sweeping

The most important things I have learned from this experience are that it is never too late to learn something new, taking care of your lawn is way easier than I thought it was going to be, and feeding your lawn is far more important that I had previously believed it to be. I’ve already got my next lawn feeding alert set on my phone and hope you’ll join my challenge to take better care of our lawns moving forward!

For more information on lawn care and proper fertilization, visit GreenerWorld.ca!

*This post was sponsored by Greener World*

autoTRADER New Car

Important Tips For First Time Car Buyers!

*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by autoTRADER.ca*

I can still remember my first car. It was a white Jeep Cherokee with slightly worn leather seats, a couple small rust spots, a butt warmer for winter and automatic windows (which were cool at the time). I was one of the last of my friends to take the plunge into car ownership, but it was such a proud day when it finally happened. I had spent months pouring through vehicle ads in various editions of the AutoTrader magazine and when I saw that glorious beast of a vehicle, I knew it had to be mine!

Unfortunately for me, the only thing I got right in that process was that I used AutoTrader to find some options. The truth is that I didn’t know anything about the vehicle purchasing process and because of that, I missed some key things that had me regretting the purchase less than a year into it. Luckily for you, not only have I learned a few lessons along the way, but now I go right to autoTRADER.ca’s News and Features section, which is an incredibly valuable resource as you begin your journey with vehicle ownership! That being said, here are some tips for first time car buyers to help make that very exciting purchase a great experience!

autoTRADER Website

1. Set a Budget. A Realistic One!

I can’t state enough how important it is to know what your realistic budget is going into this process. I spent way too much money on my first car for several reasons but the big one was that I didn’t set a budget in advance and just bought the first cool thing I liked. Also, when thinking of your budget, keep in mind that there are other expenses such as gas, insurance and vehicle maintenance that can add up quickly.

2. Do Your Research!

As stated above, don’t just buy the first shiny thing you see, even if it falls within your budget. In fact, autoTRADER.ca offers the largest inventory of new and used cars in Canada, available online and through the autoTRADER.ca mobile app, so there’s no reason not to at least look up a few different options even if you are set on a specific brand of vehicle. You can search based on vehicle model, make, colour and geographic location to find the deal that is right for you. Speaking from experience, if you are too shy to negotiate a better price with a seller, try to bring someone with car buying experience with you to help out. Remember, you are the car buyer and you have nothing to lose by walking away and looking for a better deal elsewhere.

3. New vs. Used Car

This might be the toughest decision you are going to make when buying your first car. The benefits of buying new include predictable monthly payments with a traditionally lower interest rate than used, repairs covered under warranty (with roadside assistance usually included), the latest technology, added safety features, higher fuel efficiency, and not to mention that new car smell… The downside of course is the higher cost. New cars often come with a new-car price tag, and quicker depreciation.

With a used car, there’s more variety because you’re not just dealing with the newest models and used usually leads to bigger savings. Some benefits of buying used include the fact that it’s easier on your wallet as you get most of the car’s life and most of the warranty for a fraction of the new car price and you can avoid new car fees. There’s also more choice among age, make, model and trim and insurance rates tend to be lower. The downside of course is that the vehicle is slightly older depending on which route you go and generally requires more maintenance/repairs, etc.

A couple notes here before we move on. You can buy a bottle of “new car smell” nowadays, so if you want a used car that smells new, it’s only $6.99 more! You really can’t go wrong here as long as you stick to the previous points of budget and research. Think about what your needs are and that will help you find something that checks all the boxes. By using Canada’s number one automotive marketplace in autoTRADER.ca, I guarantee you will find something that you will love, whether it be new or used.

autoTRADER Car Keys

4. Leasing vs. Financing

This is another big one when it comes to purchasing your first vehicle. Both options have their pros and cons and it’s important to weigh factors such as vehicle usage and monthly budget when making your decision. Here are just a few points to help you make the best decision for you.

Financing:

Pros: Monthly payments can be flexible, influenced by interest rates, payment terms and the length of time chosen to pay off the cost of the vehicle. The cost of the vehicle is spread over a period of time and at the end, the vehicle is owned outright. As someone shuttling around a busy family of 4 plus friends, financing was really the only option for us as we put a LOT of miles (and dirt/dents) on our van.
Cons: The fact that the vehicle will be paid off in full by the end of the borrowing term means that financing payments may be higher than leasing rates. It is possible that a vehicle could depreciate faster than it is paid off, meaning the value could be less than is owed.

Leasing

Pros: Leasing can be an attractive solution due to the accessible payments and vehicle warranty, which allow for predictable monthly budgeting. Leasing is appealing for people who like to trade in for a new vehicle every few years, enjoying the latest designs and technology updates. This is an especially appealing option if you are simply driving to work and back, with no heavy wear and tear on the vehicle.
Cons: Leasing is essentially a long-term rental unless you choose to buy out the vehicle at the end of the lease. You are therefore responsible for excessive mileage and any damage that may occur.

Hopefully this was a good starting point for you if you are in the market for your first vehicle. I can’t stress enough how wonderful of a resource autoTRADER.ca is, with innovative tools like autoTRADER.ca I.Q. and the autoTRADER.ca mobile app, there is quite literally all the information you will ever need and more when it comes to buying your first car.

STIHL Neighbour Kids

Tips On How To Be A Good Neighbour!

Having lived in the same house for almost a decade now, I have managed to develop a pretty good relationship with my neighbours. I know that we live in a different world than our parents did, when all neighbours talked and hung out all the time, so I wanted to share some tips on how you can achieve neighbourly success!

In no particular order, here are my Top 5 tips for being a great neighbour:

1. Watch Their Pool For Them While They Are Away

STIHL Pool Swim

Look, being a good neighbour is a tough job and sometimes you have to bite the bullet and agree to take care of your neighbour’s pool for a few days in the summer while they are away. It not a fun job but it is your duty as a good neighbour to get in that pool and make sure it is staying at a reasonable temperature. How would you feel if you came home from vacation to a cold pool???

2. Help With Yard Maintenance

STIHL Neighbour Helper

Living in Canada, there are many factors that go into helping out with property maintenance. For instance, I share a lawn with a neighbour who works multiple jobs to support his family, so I generally take care of the front yard work for the both of us. In the winter, however, I will often find my walkway cleared of snow very early in the morning.

Everyone plays a role or has a “toy” that they use to help others. One of my neighbours bought a snow blower and helps clear the piles of snow at the bottom of the driveway after the plow comes. I have been enjoying being the neighbour that owns the STIHL Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw because it feels good to know you’re contributing something to the area. Just the other day, I noticed a neighbour using a handsaw while trying to dig up some roots from a plant they were moving. It would have taken them hours to get it done, but because my STIHL Chainsaw is both cordless and lightweight, it got the job done in minutes. Needless to say, we spent a good hour admiring our work afterward but that’s because we were so impressed with how quickly the STIHL chainsaw got the job done! Bonus feature that helps in being a good neighbour: the STIHL Lithium-Ion MSA 120 Chainsaw is over 17 decibels quieter than the gas powered MS 170 chainsaw, making it as quiet as an electric drill. This feature significantly reduces neighborhood noise levels and will create much less of a disturbance for your neighbours when pulling out your chainsaw for required yard work.

3. Driveway Rental Service (With Optional Sangria!)

STIHL Driveway Friends

No good neighbourhood would be complete without a musical chairs of driveway parties! It really is the best way to get to know your neighbours, after-all. Everyone brings a couple food items, the kids get some water play in and the grown-ups settle in for some relaxation after a busy work week. Ours happen to include sangria but you make yours work in your own way!

4. Take Turns Watching Each Other’s Kids

STIHL Neighbour Kids

Look, it takes a village to raise kids, right? Well, in this case, sometimes it takes a minivan, 1 hour of trampoline time and a dinner at Lonestar, while you and your significant other spend uninterrupted time doing what you both love to do. That’s right, I’m talking about napping.

5. Provide Pet Sitting Services

STIHL Pet Sitting

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a strict “no pets” rule at the moment. With kids in competitive sports and our work schedules being different, I feel it would be irresponsible of us to subject a dog to that much alone time. That said, I don’t mind borrowing pets from time to time and we have had guests such as hamsters, gerbils, fish and even a dog a couple times. It definitely goes a long way to keeping the “Pro Pet” folks in our house happy, which is basically everyone but me…

These are just a few of the things that have worked for us and hopefully they work for you, too! My suggestion is to go grab some hamburgers and maybe even one of STIHL’s Lithium-Ion Chainsaws, so you can start on your way to winning at neighbouring!

Disclosure: I was provided a STIHL Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw to facilitate this post.

Viamede Resort Family Getaway

Viamede Resort Is The Perfect Family Getaway!

We had the privilege of being invited to spend the past weekend at the wonderful Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake in Woodview, Ontario. While you may have seen some of my posts on social media, I wanted to write out a bit more about the trip so you can understand why we can’t wait to visit again!

The main thing that sets Viamede apart from other resorts we’ve stayed at is that from the moment you check in, you feel as though you are part of a small community. The staff were all very welcoming and especially amazing with the kids. The other guests felt like neighbours by the end of the weekend and we were free to do as many or as few of the activities as we wanted, any time we felt like doing them. Need more proof? One of the unlisted activities was the ability to take the owner’s golden retriever for a walk if you wanted to get some extra exercise. How cool is that?

Viamede Resort View

As small as the resort felt, there was actually so much to do that a weekend wasn’t enough time to get to it all. On my list for our next visit are a game of Disc Golf with my son, a fancy dinner at Mount Julian with my wife, fishing and an afternoon in the activity field, playing soccer with my daughter. That said, we did get a lot of fun in during our stay, so here are a few highlights!

Turtle Catching!

Viamede Resort Turtles

During dinner on our first night, Viamede owner, Ben Samann came into the restaurant with a baby snapping turtle and brought it around the tables so the kids could hold it. When he mentioned that there could be more baby turtles making the treacherous trip across the parking lot in the coming days, I knew it meant that my animal loving daughter would be out there for the rest of the trip.

Considering they are the size of a small rock, I was skeptical that we would find any more turtles but my daughter is persistent and wouldn’t you know it, she found not one, but TWO more baby turtles the next day! Seeing the excitement in her face as she brought them to the front desk is something I won’t soon forget. They got them some water and kept them at the front desk for everyone to visit throughout the day and my daughter beamed with pride as they pointed her out as the rescuer. This was the highlight of the trip for me and I was even more proud when she turned down the reward of 25 cents per turtle because she was just happy they were going to make it safely to the lake.

The Food!

I mentioned earlier that we didn’t get a chance to visit the Mount Julien restaurant but we did have multiple meals at The Boathouse and they were all equally excellent, especially the french fries! I don’t want to say I am a picky eater but once I find something I like at a restaurant, I generally stick with it. I decided to go with a new meal all three times we visited The Boathouse and I may have to start broadening my horizons at other restaurants as well! The meal plan also comes with a dessert and I want to give a special shout-out to the Apple Fritters & Ice Cream I had with every meal. I’m still dreaming of you and can’t wait until we meet again.

The Water

Viamede Resort Lake Pool Kayak

While the pool is always a highlight of any family vacation, Viamede Resort outdoes all of that by providing 3 different options for water fun! First and foremost, there is the beach on Stoney Lake. What I really loved about Viamede is that they had canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and life jackets just sitting down by the water. No need to sign in and out, you just take what you want to use and enjoy yourself! As you can see from the picture above, I decided to try something new and it may or may not have worked out for me… Oh, they also has a sweet water trampoline out on the lake, which my kids had some epic battles on!

Viamede Resort Pool

On top of the fun at the lake, there are also 2 pools! One outdoor pool for the hot days and an amazing indoor pool that ensures you can still have fun in the water in case a storm rolls through. I will say that we spent quite a bit of time in the indoor pool because it was mostly empty and they had this really cool waterway that went from indoors to outdoors. The kids thought that was hilarious and had a blast in the water!

Endless List of Activities!

Viamede Resort Activities

I mentioned earlier that there was so much to do at Viamede that we couldn’t fit it all in, but we did get quite a bit accomplished during our short stay. To be honest, we probably could have done more but turtle catching fever really took over. That said, Viamede has a cool little farm on site that you can check out at your leisure. There were baby pigs and turkeys, as well as some very loud and awesome roosters. On top of that, we spent many hours playing ping pong, foosball, darts, basketball, yoga, tennis and many more activities that are freely accessible throughout the stay.

Viamede Resort Farm Piglets

All in all we had a blast at Viamede Resort and will absolutely be back again! It was the perfect balance between relaxation and excitement, with some amazing food thrown in! I’m happy to answer any questions you all may have about the resort in case you decide to check it out for yourself.

Viamede Resort Boathouse Pub

Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Viamede Resort as their guests for the weekend. That said, it was amazing and we can’t wait to return next summer!

What Is On YOUR Great Canadian Bucket List?

This post has been sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels Group.

While 6 in 10 Canadians have admitted to creating one, a Bucket List is something we write out as something we aspire to achieve, even though at least 91% of us are fairly confident that our dreams won’t become reality. A recent survey conducted by Intercontinental Hotels Group shows that, naturally, cost is the overwhelming reason why most people feel like they won’t be able to cross items off their bucket lists.

Blue Jays Game Toronto

Catch a Major League Baseball Game With The Blue Jays in Toronto!

Now, before you nod your head in disappointed agreement and lock your lists in a drawer, IHG and bucket list expert Robin Esrock have a few tips on how you can make your bucket list items a reality! After reading their tips, you should also check out IHG’s Great Canadian Bucket List to grab some ideas to add to your own list!

o Don’t let the list weigh you down – you are more likely to do things when you write them down, but don’t let your list get so long that it weighs on you. Focusing on too many goals can be distracting, so if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, you’re probably being overly ambitious. Start with a shortlist of 10 aspirational bucket list goals, and grow it slowly over time.

o Start small and local – don’t feel you need to take weeks off work to travel to the ends of the earth to have bucket list experiences. Begin with a place or activity you’ve always wanted to experience in your town, city or province, and then slowly branch out from there.

o You don’t need to spend a fortune – Think outside the box when it comes to cost-efficient solutions to making your bucket list goals a reality. For example, if your bucket list experience requires you to travel, turn it into an epic road trip too by opting to drive instead of fly. Or, look for budget-friendly hotels to stay in, like Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Start collecting points – like IHG Rewards Club – that you can use to redeem for hotel stays.

o Dream big, but be realistic – Bucket lists should be personal, fun and inspiring, and realistic too. Break your list down into short- and long-term goals. Include goals that are easier to achieve than others. If they are all difficult to accomplish, you may get discouraged because you’re not making progress as quickly as you like. Also, think of experiences you actually do, as opposed to chance encounters with a celebrity, for example.

My favourite advice here was to start small and local. When you start with an achievable goal, it helps make the loftier goals seem attainable! After reading IHG’s Great Canadian Bucket List, I decide to make a Canadian Bucket List of my own! Did I steal a couple of IHG’s items? You bet I did! Are a couple of these patently absurd? Absolutely! That’s why they call it a bucket list though, right?! Here you go!

1. Canada Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Parliament Hill Ottawa

This one has nothing to do with cost as it is actually in my hometown. My issue is that I find the size of the crowd daunting. That said, I watch on TV every year and find myself wishing I was there with my family. Maybe next year we’ll treat ourselves and book a room at the Crowne Plaza Gatineau-Ottawa so we can make a weekend out of it!

2. Hit the Water at West Edmonton Mall

Edmonton Water Park, Edmonton, AB - Courtesy of Edmonton Mall

My whole life I have been hearing about how amazing the West Edmonton Mall is. I’m not huge on the shopping but that waterpark is something to behold! I will put this list item under the “very possible” category of attainability. The Holiday Inn Express® & Suites West Edmonton-Mall Area is the perfect place to stay if you want to be close to the action!

3. Dog Sledding in the Northwest Territories

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding seems like one of those exhilarating experiences that you would never forget. There are many places that you can find dog sledding tours but being it is such an important part of NWT’s culture, this would be my first choice of destination.

4. Watch the Polar Bears at Assiniboine Park

Assiniboine Park - Winnipeg, MB - Courtesy of EWM

I didn’t even know this was a thing until I read IHG’s Great Canadian Bucket List but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. There’s something fascinating about having the opportunity to see polar bears doing their thing under the water. PS – If you bring your kids, the swimming area at the Holiday Inn Winnipeg – Airport West is amazing!!

5. Throw Out 1st Pitch at Blue Jays Game

Toronto Blue Jays 1st Pitch

Yes, I understand how ridiculous this sounds. Throwing out the 1st pitch is generally reserved for someone who has actually accomplished something huge in their life. That said, I still have time to accomplish great things, or, you know, maybe win a contest to throw out the first pitch… In the meantime, I’ll be at the Intercontinental Hotels Toronto Centre because it’s right in the heart of Toronto’s Family Fun district!

6. Whale Watching in Cape Breton Highlands, NS

Whale Watching

Known as one of the best places to whale watch in Canada, I can’t help but think this would be a once in a lifetime experience. On top of that, Cape Breton sounds amazing all by itself!

That’s it for the short version of my bucket list, but I’m curious to hear what would be on your Great Canadian Bucket List! Feel free to use mine and IHG’s lists as a reference and leave your answers in the comments section below! Remember, there’s no dream too big to at least write down! And don’t forget that with 177 hotels across Canada, you should definitely visit IHG.com to start planning your bucket list experiences today!

Medieval Times Toronto Knights

Why Medieval Times Is A Must-Visit Attraction!

I love a good sporting event as much as the next person and with professional sports teams in all 5 major sports, Toronto is definitely not lacking in the “things to do” department. Other than soccer, I have attended events for each of the other 4 sports on multiple occasions, but there’s one Toronto attraction missing from the list that might be my favourite of them all.

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Medieval Times was kind enough to host my family this past weekend for an evening of fun, fighting and amazing food! It was at least my 5th time attending the Toronto Castle and every visit has been more fun than the last. Honestly, which other sporting event can you attend where they actually encourage you to be rowdy and taunt the other opponents?? Sure, you COULD do that at a baseball game but you will definitely end up as the center of attention as people turn away from you, embarrassed.

If you’ve never been to Medieval Times before, the premise is that there are 6 knights who battle it out in a last man standing competition. Each spectator is assigned a knight to cheer for and are also told which knight is their arch nemesis so you can boo them mercilessly! We drew the yellow knight this time around and while there are no pictures of me during the show, I can assure you that our arch nemesis, the blue knight and his fans, knew who I was by the end of the show!

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Besides the amazing show, there are many other reasons to love the Medieval Times experience. One such reason is that every time your knight succeeds in an event, he gets a flower to hand out to one lucky fan in his section. For the 2nd year in a row, guess who got the first flower?? Now, you might think to yourself, “who cares, it’s just the top of a carnation?”, but I can assure you that the excitement on her face was enough to melt this dad’s heart.

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Finally, it would be ridiculous to talk about how great Medieval Times is without discussing the meal. I will admit as a parent to picky eaters, my kids didn’t eat too much of the meal but that simply meant more chicken and potatoes for dad! Seriously, though, the food at Medieval Times is absolutely amazing! I’m always fascinated when a meal that is being made for over a hundred people still tastes like I would expect from a restaurant.

Medieval Times Toronto Meal

And yes, we couldn’t resist the spoils from the gift shop… If you haven’t visited the Medieval Times Toronto Castle, or any other castle, that is, I highly recommend giving it a shot the next time your family is nearby. My only advice to you is that you go into it ready to be loud and to have fun!

Medieval Times Toronto

Disclosure: Medieval Times hosted my family for our most recent visit to the Toronto Castle, however I have loved the show since the first time I went.