Category Archives: Family Fun

Cowichan Valley homes with backyard guest accommodations and basement suites

Entertaining Summer Guests

Visiting other parts of the country is fun, especially if you have family or friends who can accommodate your stay. Entertaining guests are a great opportunity to show off your city and can make you feel like a tourist at home. To help you prepare for overnight company, here are some tips that you might find helpful. Let us know if you are looking for a home with a backyard bunkie or guest house.

It’s a good idea to start with a budget. It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to every suggestion, from dinner out to shows and tourist attractions. A budget will help set priorities. Saying ‘no’ to some activities also allows your guests to have some private time to explore so it’s actually win-win for everyone.

Send an invitation or two! How will your guests know that you want them to visit unless you invite them? The invitation can specify a range of dates that is convenient for you and outline some boundaries. For example, your invitation might say something like, “It would be fun to see you this summer. We’re at home during the month of July, if you would like to visit. Car rentals are very affordable if you want to explore on your own.”

Prepare for guests by taking a look at sleeping arrangements. Is the guest bedroom stocked and ready for visitors that may stay a long weekend or even a week? Providing written directions on where to find supplies and toiletries, the WI-FI password, and instructions for household items is nice. A selection of reading material is wonderful for rainy days or quiet evenings and early bedtimes. In the bathroom, consider a small selection of travel size supplies and an extra toothbrush or two. Place a nightlight in the hall or ensuite so guests can navigate easily.

Planning a menu for additional guests doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Supplement regular meals with starters, such as a cheese and cracker platter, soup, or salad to keep costs down. For mains, consider hearty servings of spaghetti carbonara or pasta with Bolognese sauce, both simple yet delicious and satisfying dishes. Deserts can be a tray of store bought cookies or supermarket slab cake served with your favourite coffee or tea.

For a successful visit, try to plan for the unexpected but don’t overextend your hospitality. Feeling obligated to entertain and provide for guests all the time is too much of an expectation. Let them settle in and find their own way. Most of all, have fun because it’s your vacation, too!

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Vancouver Island staycation ideas for the whole family

Plan a Vancouver Island Staycation

This year, why not consider a local vacation on Vancouver Island instead of travelling abroad? There are a number of benefits from staying at home during your summer holidays. By avoiding hotels and air travel, you can save a significant amount of money that can then be spent on special meals and activities. To ensure your holiday-at-home is a relaxing change, try some of these ideas to set the stage.

The first rule of a staycation is to break from routine so you’re able to reset, relax, and enjoy yourself. That means a vacation plan and a schedule to explore your horizons. With some planning in advance, you can eliminate the everyday work, such as cleaning and shopping, to focus (or not focus) on the things in the vacation plan.

Determine your budget for the entire two or three weeks so you can plan accordingly. Rather than restrict meals to home-cooked, consider planning for three or four take-out or restaurant meals each week. Pre-cook meals for the freezer that go can into the oven for easy dinners. Sandwiches are a great Plan B because everyone can make their own. Desserts such as store-bought slab cake and ice cream will keep the mood festive.

Planning what you want to do each day or week will help keep the momentum going. For example, Mondays could be to explore the history and heritage of your area. Tuesdays might be a fun activity like visiting a local amusement park or horseback riding. Wednesdays could be daytrips to a nearby city or, if you’re already in the city, to the countryside for shopping in quaint village shops. Let family members write their suggestions on a blank calendar so everyone can participate in the plan.

To get everyone in the mood, some wardrobe updates might be needed. For kids, a couple of new summer outfits will delight them. Accessories such as glittery flip-flops or a kid-sized fedora will signal that vacation has started and it’s time to start having fun.

If you feel like you’ve seen everything, maybe it’s time to take a train or drive to a different part of your province. In Eastern Canada, the VIA train system is convenient and affordable. In B.C., the ferry system connects the islands to the mainland. A long weekend at a kid-friendly B&B gives everyone something exciting to look forward to.

Don’t forget to ‘schedule’ some idle time. Studies have shown that daydreaming and just vegging can produce alpha waves in the brain that leads to creativity. Bookend down-time with something artsy to make the most of that neural connection. Follow a slow day with some time in a gallery or artisan shops.

Prepare a ‘rainy day’ box with some interesting crafts and reading material. Local craft or dollar stores will have supplies such as construction paper, glue, and paints for young artists. Adults might want to try adult colouring books to get their alpha waves going.

Questions or comments about staycations on Vancouver Island? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Cowichan Valley homes with natural gas barbeque connections

Summer Grilling: Gas or Coals?

Known for imparting a smoky richness that pairs perfectly with charred fat and meat, barbeque is one of the most popular cooking techniques. Summer is barbeque season and with its arrival the debate over charcoal or gas is revisited by friends and neighbours across Canada. One great feature of gas grills is the option to use natural gas from the house and forget about running out of propane. Many newer homes in the NAME OF area feature natural gas connections for a grill. Let us know if this is a priority for you when looking for a new home in the Cowichan Valley.

But which fuel produces the best cooking results? The answer is this: it depends on what you’re cooking. Both fuels provide an even, dry heat that is ideal for grilling. Do you want to easily sear a protective layer to retain juices? Are you cooking large cuts or a whole chicken? Perhaps you are slow roasting and want a heavy smoke taste? Both types of barbeques will produce smoke which is mostly caused by fat dripping on the element cover or the charcoal.

The speed at which you intend to cook is an important factor. Quick meals such as hot dogs or burgers are done before smoke can penetrate the meat. A gas grill is perfect for quick meals that require only a short time on a hot grill. They heat up quickly and, when you’re done, shut off completely. That’s exactly what the chef needs when steaks or burgers are the main course. They’re also good for grilling vegetables and pizzas because the cooking surface can be easily adjusted with dual gas controls. Simple, quick, and easy with good smokiness when required. That is what you get with a quality gas grill.

Charcoal grills are a different way of cooking that is similar to smoking. They’re ideal for a slow barbeque style such as a whole ‘beer can’ chicken or thick steaks that need more time to cook. Charcoal is made from hardwood that is burned in an oxygen-free environment which produces carbonized wood. Because the briquettes are made from wood, the resulting burn will taste and smell a little like the tree the charcoal was made from. Some chefs will supplement the natural taste with a little wood of their own, perhaps from an apple branch or some driftwood. An electric charcoal starter helps to light the briquettes. Once the coals are an evenly lit, you can begin grilling.

If you have a charcoal grill, you might want to experiment with wood or wood pellets. Both will produce a wonderfully flavoured smoke. Plus, the fuel is basically free if you live anywhere near a forest or wood lot. Experiment with different types of wood, by itself or with charcoal, and see which species impart a flavour that you think makes perfect barbeque.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact a Ladysmith REALTOR® today.