March Break In Mississauga

Did you forget to book the kids into camp for March Break? Do you prefer to let them have real time off? Either way, you don’t want them staring at screens for seven days, so we’ve come up with a list of super fun things to do in Mississauga and the surrounding areas during the break!

Get Some Syrup

Terra Cotta Conservation Area is hosting its annual Maple Syrup Festival, with demonstrations on how delicious, sticky and sweet maple syrup is made, taffy on snow (a must have!) and pancakes! Each day features live entertainment, including the Four Paws Flying Dog Show and The Country Saw chainsaw carving! Get more details on their site and buy your tickets too.

The Bradley Museum is also featuring Maple Magic 2019, where visitors can learn all about traditional methods of syrup production, taught to early settlers by the Anishinaabe people. Take a tour with a guide, try some taffy and even pet some furry creatures at the petting zoo. Open from 12 – 4 p.m. every day of March Break, visit their site for more information and directions.

Downtime With Storytime

The libraries in Mississauga are offering some great free (some with very low fees) March Break activities for children, including:

  • Storytime with songs, rhymes and literacy activities.
  • A Peppa Pig party storytime.
  • Crafting events, including card making, 3D model painting, origami and more (some require pre-registration. See the link below!)
  • Board games and playoffs.
  • Performances of live magic, music, mad science, and even superhero training!
  • A family gardening workshop (we’re all for that one!)
  • Special activities for tweens (ages 9-12), including crafts, t-shirt stencilling and more.
  • And for older kids (11+): Photography class, video game challenges and more!

Check out the full list here!

Play All Day At Playdium

Can’t get away for the break? Playdium will make your kids feel like you’ve gone away to the most fun place on earth, if only for a day. With games, simulators and virtual reality, the 40,000 sq. foot complex is the indoor playground that your kids will thank you for taking them to for months to come! Special hours during March Break, opening at 10 a.m. every day, check out their site for details.

A Spectator Sport For All

If you and your family like hockey, March Break is a perfect time to catch the Mississauga Steelheads, playing at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, in Mississauga. Games are currently scheduled for March 8, 12, 15 and 17. Click here for times and tickets and see you at centre ice!

If you’d rather actually be skating, the Skate on the Square will be open for March Break, daily from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., weather permitting, with rentals and skate sharpening available.

Indoor Dinos?

Looking for a little indoor activity, combined with some shopping and a nibble at the food court? Erin Mills Town Centre is hosting Dino Days, from 12-4 p.m. daily March 11 – 15. Kids can experience today’s dinos with Reptilia Mobile Zoo, create a dino craft and take in some amazing displays.

Events On Specific Dates

March 12 — Splash ‘N Bubbles — Take a quick drive up to Brampton to the Rose Theatre and check out this hilarious duo from Treehouse TV. Sing, dance and jump to your heart’s content. If this one isn’t your cup of tea, there are a lot of other great events, all week at the Rose Theatre, including:

  • A Royal Tea Party with Anna, Elsa and Belle on March 13.
  • Live reading followed by the movie “Horton Hears a Who” on March 11.
  • LEGO workshop with Brick Labs on March 14.

March 13 — Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre, at the Living Arts Centre — with shows at 1 and 4 p.m., the whole family can be blown away by this fun show, featuring a cast that includes house cats, dogs, parrots and even geese! Get your tickets online and even meet some of the characters after the show!

March 13 — Youth Art Battle, at the Living Arts Centre — Artists 12 – 17 will battle to create the best art they can in 15 minutes! The viewing of the competition is an all ages event that is sure to inspire. To apply to be a part of the battle, click here.

As the winter weather eases, now is the perfect time to start planning your garden for spring, summer and fall, a family activity that everyone can get involved in. Encourage kids by offering them a section to plant what they’d like, however they’d like. It’s a great way to expose kids to the healthful benefits of getting outside and getting dirty!

Interlocking Pavers For A Pulled Together Look In Your Mississauga Garden

If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.  ~ Anatole France

Are you a landscaper looking for the perfect way to add some class to a design? Or perhaps you’re a homeowner looking for ideas to make your garden look stylish, and while you’re at it, the value you of your home? Either way, interlocking pavers are the perfect way to accomplish these goals.

The contrast that interlocking pavers provide, whether as a patio, a poolside design, or a pathway in your garden, makes everything else in your green space stand out! Concrete pavers are durable and come in different colours and shapes, to enable you to create intricate designs and patterns that are pleasing to the eye.

History Of Paving Stones

Yes, they have a history! “Interlocking pavers were invented by the Dutch after World War II, when brick, their traditional paving material, was in short supply. Billions of the chunky blocks found their way onto European roads, and many of the originals are still in good shape despite 50 years of traffic.” (Source) What a testament to their durability!

Why Use Pavers?

Part of the value of interlocking pavers is that they are very durable but also because, unlike poured concrete or asphalt, they can move independently and are less likely to break or crack. They aren’t susceptible to damage from ice or tree roots and if any of your pavers ever ends up being pushed up or out of place, you need only remove that one, fix the ground below and replace it!

Interlocking Pavers Are Easy To Install

The genius is in the interlock design itself, which allow for relatively simple  installation, without the need for mortar. That said, it’s one thing to lay pavers for a small path through your secret garden; it’s another to use pavers to create an entire driveway. For a larger project, we would recommend using a hardscape expert who can lay them down perfectly.

In addition to an expert installation, your hardscaper can help you ensure that you’re not creating water runoff problems. Water will wash off and away from concrete pavers, as it would on any paved surface. Ensuring that you’ve planned for runoff from larger installations is essential.

So without mortar, how do the pavers remain in place? The strength of the lock and a very valuable extra: polymeric sand. Spread over the final laid pavers and into the spaces between them, polymeric sand creates a solid―but pliable―joint between the pavers.

With the sand in place, you simply need to moisten it to create the bond that will help prevent weed growth between the pavers, stave off insect erosion and be resistant to traffic, cleaning and so on. Plus it’s environmentally friendly, so there’s no downside to using polymeric sand to finish off your interlocking paving project.

Interlocking Pavers Are Easy To Maintain

  • Being made from concrete, they can stain, so if you’re using pavers for your driveway, and a vehicle leaks some oil, remove these stains as soon as possible. That said, pavers can be washed, swept and kept tidy with minimal effort.
  • Keep them weeded. While the polymeric sand will keep most of the weeds at bay, it’s worth pulling any strays that get through, right away!
  • Thanks to their durability, you will likely have your pavers in place for a long time. Do you want to keep your pavers looking new? A sealant can help.

Paver Projects To Consider

There are so many lovely ways you can use interlocking pavers to improve your outdoor space:

  • Accents, like a walkway or path, rather than the entire patio area of your backyard, is one option. It adds some different texture to your yard, creating a break in the green space for the eye, which makes your flower beds and other beautiful blooms shine!
  • Terraces, creating the look with elegant patterns from your interlocking pavers. If you want an easy to clean space where you have your outdoor dining, interlocking pavers are a good choice. A well planned design can look natural and inviting!
  • Steps, which creates a pretty design for your steps, rather than standard concrete. This is a project that you can add to your plans when you’re redoing your front walkway or porch.
  • Driveway, getting away from poured concrete, which can be very slippery when wet or icy, particularly, if it’s on an incline, or asphalt, which isn’t aesthetically pleasing.

Homes in Mississauga, particularly newer ones, lend themselves beautifully to the look of interlocking pavers, both at the front of the house and in the back. You can create paths and walkways that enhance your outdoor space, and the value of your home, with a minimum of effort.

Can’t Wait For Summer? Break Out The Patio Furniture And The BBQ NOW!

At the first signs of Spring—buds on the trees, tulips waving in the breeze—Ontarians are out of hibernation, sporting sandals and shorts and ready to soak up the sun.

The best way to enjoy the outdoors this Spring, Summer and early Fall is to build yourself a backyard oasis that you can enjoy with minimal upkeep.

START By Cleaning Up!

Whether thanks to the winter weather or ice storms, there’s always some clean up to do in the Spring to bring your garden up to drool worthy status.

  • Weed the garden beds
  • Remove any fallen debris / autumn leaves
  • Seed / sod your lawn after prepping the soil
  • Trim the hedges
  • Take out the patio furniture and wash it all down!

OUTFIT Your Outdoor Cooking Space With Necessary Herbs And Spices!

Eleven of them, to be precise. Not that we’re being copycats here, but there are in fact eleven excellent herbs that flavour up cooking for all tastes, that you can grown in containers near your patio.

Having your own stock means no rushing to the store to buy a great big bunch of something, when all you need is a few leaves to complete your recipe. Some of these herbs are more susceptible to being eaten up by bugs and animals, so just keep that in mind:

  1. Mint
  2. Basil
  3. Parsley
  4. Sage
  5. Cilantro
  6. Chives
  7. Thyme
  8. Rosemary
  9. Bay leaf
  10. Dill
  11. Coriander

Container gardening is a great way to grow some (or all) of these lovely herbs and has the advantage of being moveable. You might find that at certain times of year, the bees are loving your edibles, so you might want them slightly further away from your eating area. By using containers, you can move them away from the dining area, which will keep the stingers at bay.

Other plants that you shouldn’t place right next to the patio, if you want to avoid bees and wasps? This is just a sampling:

  • Cedar trees
  • Lavender
  • Flowering chives
  • Apple trees (or any fruit bearing tree, for that matter!)

CLEAN Up Your Gas Grill!

Now onto the good stuff! If you’re not the type who BBQ’d all winter long, complete with parka and oven mitts, it’s time to take the cover off your favourite grilling appliance. Spring cleaning isn’t just for the indoors!

Steps to get your grill ready for a season of delicious:

  1. Detach and clean the grates and burners. You’ll need a special brush, called a venturi brush, to really get through the burners and remove any debris left over from last season! A brass wire brush is perfect for cleaning the burners to a spotless shine.
  2. Soap and water are good for the grills, after which you can apply a little oil to season them for your next grilling session.
  3. If there is a grease build up in the base, use a hard edged spatula to scrape down to the drip pan, removing any excess.
  4. Then, remove and thoroughly clean the drip pan. Add a foil liner to make this job easier, if you haven’t do so already!
  5. Inspect the hoses to make sure nothing is frayed or damaged. That includes the hoses to and from your propane tank or to and from the house, if you’re connected directly; and check to see that the ignition is working correctly and the gas is flowing.

BETTER Still… Invest In A Pizza Oven

There is nothing better than a wood fire oven for the best, most delectable artisan style pizzas. Forget the takeout number and install one of these instead!

Easy to put together, quick to heat up… you’re on your way to pizza night with a twist. We’ve already given you the best recipe for a pizza base here, so this time, let’s look at some variations on toppings that you might not have thought of! Sure, we’ve all had our share of pepperoni, or all-dressed pizzas. Some of us even go for a little pineapple and ham… but what about chicken tikka pizza? Or how about goat cheese and blackberries with a dash of honey?

Chipotle cajun shrimp pizza anyone?

  • 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 chipotle chile adobo (canned)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 ounces blue cheese or goat cheese crumbled
  • Chopped green onions, or try chives for a less intense onion flavour, and chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Toss the shrimp with the olive oil, seasoning, brown sugar, chipotle chile and adobo sauce in a bowl. Let it sit for a 30 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Sear the shrimp in a medium hot pan for 3 minutes per side. NO MORE as they will continue to cook on the pizza.
  3. Get out your prepared dough and spread your favourite base sauce on the pizza. Adding a little of the cajun seasoning to your sauce, will bring it all together.
  4. Spread a layer of cheddar cheese, then your shrimp, then a little more cheese.
  5. Bake in your oven until the cheese is melted and gooey and garnish with the onions / chives, cilantro and blue / goat cheese.
  6. EAT!

Now that you’re set to enjoy your backyard oasis, enjoy every moment you can: Canadian Spring and Summer is fleeting!

THE Best Homemade Pizza: Fun and Easy Tips and Recipes!

Forget what the ads say: the BEST pizza is homemade. It’s easy and healthier than the store bought alternatives, to say nothing of fun to put together as a family. The next time you’re in the mood for a pie, pull out these tips for a perfect pizza made at home!

These steps will help you avoid a soggy pizza crust covered with toppings where some are barely warm and others that are charbroiled. Read on, my foodie friend…

The Best Base You Can Manage

Just like the foundation of a house which, if badly built, will crack and break down, the foundation of a great pizza needs to be solid to achieve maximum eatability.

Ideally, whether you make your pizza dough from scratch or buy it pre-made, you want to make sure you are stretching and rolling it out at room temperature. If it was in the refrigerator, let it rest on the counter while you prep the rest of the ingredients, before attempting to roll.

When the dough has dropped its chill, you can flour your rolling surface—more is better here: you don’t want the dough to stick!

Press your dough ball flat with your knuckles from the centre out towards the edges. If it’s still too cold, it will spring back and refuse to stay flat, like an out of control cowlick, so if that happens, just let it rest a few minutes more before continuing.

Whether you use the recipe below, or a store bought dough, it’s better to stretch the dough, rather than roll it. Ideally, you will be tossing it in the air, like you’ve seen at your pizzeria so that it pulls evenly and doesn’t tear. You’ll find it easier to get the round shape, but since we all can’t toss pizza dough in the air without making a mess, a rolling pin is fine to make sure that you get a consistent ¼ inch thickness and VOILA! You’re ready for toppings!

The best ‘from scratch’ recipe is so easy, it will take less time than walking to the store to buy pre-made, though it needs to be put together the day before, so a little planning is required!

This recipe makes four balls of dough—great for making individual pizzas:

Ingredients:

3 and ¾ cups of bread or all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast

2 teaspoons of salt

1 ½ cups of water

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, blend all your dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast).
  2. Add the water to the mixture and mix, preferably with your hands.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to sit on the counter overnight, at room temperature. It will rise to more than double the initial size!
  4. Generously flour your work surface where you will be rolling out the dough and scrape it out of the bowl. Now you can divide it into four and shape each dough ball. Dust with more flour if they get tacky or sticky.
  5. You don’t need to knead this dough extensively as the gluten needed is activated by the rising process. Just get stretching!

Toppings Galore!

Here’s the fun part for the rest of the family! Quality matters when it comes to toppings. Homemade or high quality crushed tomato sauce, hand shredded cheese and anything your heart, and stomach, desires. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with pre-shredded cheese but like a fine wine, the secret is in the quality of the source ingredients!

Whatever toppings you like on your pizza, just remember to spread them as evenly as possible to avoid clumps that won’t cook through properly.

Other tips?

  • Just like the pie from your favourite take out place, leave a half an inch around the edge to avoid the toppings dripping or bubbling over. Pinch it a little so that it’s raised up to create a sauce barrier!
  • Try and limit your toppings, beyond sauce and cheese, to two or three. Anything more starts to get heavy and thick and might not cook through as evenly. Simple is best!
  • Don’t forget fresh herbs! Basil is the best when handily torn up and thrown over your toppings, right after the pizza has come out of the oven. Chives give that onion-y flavour without overdoing it and are also best popped on post-bake.

Cook It Low And Hot

Whether you have a pizza stone, pan or a perforated pizza sheet, make sure you put your oven rack to the lowest level before pre-heating. This will brown the crust nicely, leaving no soggy pockets.

What you’re looking for is a flat surface to ensure that the crust cooks evenly. If you’re worried about the pizza sticking, just spread a little cornmeal on the pan or sheet before adding the rolled out crust.

The key to home cooking a pizza is high heat—as high as your oven can go! Why? The air bubbles in your pizza dough will expand when they hit the blast of heat, causing a light, soft dough on the inside, which also crisps up nicely on the outside. Win-win!

Better yet, invest in a wood burning outdoor pizza oven. These easy to assemble, and even easier to use, ovens mimic the cooking process from your favourite pizzeria, right in the comfort of your own backyard.

Invest In A Pizza Wheel

Cutting your perfectly cooked pie is in itself an artform! You don’t want your toppings to come off the crust to tear in weird ways by trying to cut your pizza with a standard knife. A super sharp pizza wheel is an inexpensive kitchen tool that you will get value back again and again.

Prepping some dough and having it at the ready means you can have homemade pizza in a flash, so say goodbye to your delivery guy and hello to easy dinners that everyone will enjoy!

5 Things You Should Do To Choose The Perfect Christmas Tree

‘Tis the season for decorations and delights, just so long as you choose… right?

Okay, that was a little awkward: rhyming is not our forte. Trees, however, are definitely in  our wheelhouse! This year, if you’ve decided to eschew the plastic tree that you’ve had stuffed in the basement these last few seasons, we’ve got you covered on the whys and wherefores of a real Christmas tree.

Types Of Christmas Trees

There are a couple of species of tree that make the best holiday decor for any home or office, each with their own merits.

  • Fraser fir — Well watered, a Fraser fir can last up to eight weeks in your home and has that most distinctive of Christmas-sy scents. The silvery tint to their needles and less dense branches are the perfect complement to your ornaments.
  • Balsam fir — These very popular trees will typically last six to seven weeks and have good fullness, needle retention and that classic pine scent that screams: “Pass the eggnog!” Their more slender look with dark green needles make these the perfect tree for smaller spaces.
  • Scotch pine — With needles that vary from bright green to blue/green, these bushy trees have strong branches and excellent needle retention, which is important if you have heavy or simply many ornaments AND hate vacuuming the needles!
  • White spruce — The full, dark green branches are just part of the appeal. These trees are some of the most symmetrical, with very consistent shape all around. These are great trees if you are using them as a central decoration in a room, rather than placing it in a corner, as it will look beautiful from every angle. The downside? Their needles are VERY prickly, which can be unpleasant for wee ones, when decorating!

Before Buying A Tree

Measure your ceiling height, taking into account the tree stand AND any top of tree ornaments, like a star. You don’t want to end up with a National Lampoon Christmas tree, bending at the top!

Also, take a look at the area where you plan to place the tree: you need enough width, as well as height, and if you are getting a tall tree, you might want to consider whether you will be able to anchor it to the wall, for safety. In addition, you want to make sure to place it far from heat sources, which can be a fire hazard. If you are using lights, make sure there is an easily accessible plug or switch on a power bar so that you can be sure to turn off the lights when you aren’t home and before you go to bed. Again, this is in case of a short or overheating.

Don’t forget to dig out your tree stand and make sure all the parts are in good working order or your decorated tree could topple like Uncle Art after a couple of hot toddies!

What To Look For In Your Tree

Whether you are buying your tree at a garden centre, a tree lot or going to a farm to cut your own, there are a couple of things you should look for when selecting your tree:

  • Check for broken branches, bare spots and dead branches to assess the health of the tree and how well it survived transportation (if you’re not at the farm yourself).
  • Look for a fairly even colouring of the needles. Dull or brown / rusty needles may speak to the freshness of the tree.
  • Check for pests and insects: you don’t want to be bringing these into your home!
  • Run your hands over the needles by grasping a branch about six inches in and pulling forward gently: the needles should stay put and be flexible. A few may drop off but if a lot of the needles are dry and come off in your hand, the tree might not be fresh.
  • Check the branches to see that they are strong enough to hold up ornaments and lights and flexible, which is another sign of a fresh tree.

Setting Up Your Tree

First, cut about an 1-1.5” off the bottom of the stump: the fresh cut will allow your tree to soak up water more easily.

Second, place a plastic tree bag or garbage bag IN the water compartment of your stand and lay it open—don’t worry, you can cover it with a tree skirt so no one has to see the bag, but it will make disposal at the end of the holidays a little easier, with a lot less needle dropping on the carpet. It can also help to prevent water spills soaking up into your carpet or staining your hardwood, in case the stand gets overfilled a little.

Third, leave your tree in the tree stand a full 24 hours before decorating it. Some of the branches will fall naturally as the tree acclimates to the room temperature, so premature decorating can end up looking a whole lot different a day later! Don’t forget to water it! A tree will go through a lot of water, particularly in the first day it is in your home, so make sure you keep an eye on the water line in your stand.

Disposing Of Your Tree

Sadly, the holidays WILL come to an end and it will be time to dispose of your tree. Most areas across the GTA have curbside pick up service in January so check your local recycling schedule and see when yours is. Too often, we’ll see trees with sad bits of tinsel on them, stuck in a snow bank in February.

When it’s time to move the tree, make sure someone is holding by the trunk, towards the top, while someone else undoes the tree stand clamps or retention mechanism. Then pull up the bag that we mentioned earlier, up and around the tree, so you can move it out the front door with a minimum of needles dropping everywhere. Remove the bag and keep it for next year, as most recycling trucks will not pick up a tree that is in plastic.

If you miss the collection dates, you can hold onto your tree and put it out with the yard waste in the Spring, in lengths of about four feet.

Now that you’re ready to bring home your tree, armed with all the information you need, we at Toemar want to remind you that with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important to take a step back, smell the Christmas tree, and enjoy the moment. Have safe and happy holidays!

 

 

A Simple Guide to Decorating Your Christmas Tree

A decorated Christmas tree is a sure sign that Christmas celebrations with friends and family around this joyous season is near.

See our infographic below as we’ve looked at 3 styles of Christmas tree decorations through the years that will keep your home looking warm and inviting.

If you still need more inspiration check out Pinterest page where you can check out real trees and decorated Christmas trees.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, thank you for your support and loyalty in 2015 and we look forward to serving you in 2016!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

fresh-christmas-tree-decoration-style

Firewood Guide – An Infographic

We have been in the business of supplying firewood to the Greater Toronto Area for more than 35 years to all homes small and large. In these 30 plus years, many things have changed such as home construction and fireplace regulations. What hasn’t changed is our meticulous methodology in preparing our firewood to make sure that it burns properly, providing the great wonderful heat with as little smoke as possible. All of the firewood that we sell goes through a 2 year aging process and manually stacked compared to some lots that sell their product after 6-8 months and/or dump the firewood into a large pile (which means the wood doesn’t dry out properly and may get moldy) with little to no airflow.

firewood-stack-vs-pile

We recently found a simple, yet excellent infographic on firewood and what to look for when you head the firewood lot or the questions you need to ask.

firewood-infographic
Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

6 Tips + 3 Myths to Keeping Christmas Tree Spectacular until New Years

IF YOU HAVEN’T PURCHASED A TREE YET, READ OUR QUICK GUIDE TO SELECTING A REAL CHRISTMAS TREE

Here is how you can extend that Christmas spirit well into New Years with these 6 easy to remember tips and 3 myths or things that you should not do with a real Christmas tree.

Let us know what you think below.

tips and myths to keeping your Christmas tree alive

A Guide to Selecting a Real Christmas Tree

We know selecting a fresh Christmas Tree can be a daunting task so we’ve created a real simple and easy to use guide to help you through this process. In this infographic, we talk about the 3 most common types of fresh Christmas Trees that you can purchase from your garden center or from your local tree farm.
Tell us what you think below.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, thank you for your support and loyalty in 2014 and we look forward to serving you in 2015!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

guide-to-selecting-the-right-christmas-tree

Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake – What is better?

We hope that you enjoy this infographic on the ongoing debate of Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake. We had fun researching it and we hope you enjoy learning more about the issues.
We think that Christmas is more than just about Christmas trees and gifts (although we do appreciate gifts!), it is a wonderful reminder of the important things in life are such as family and friends.

Whatever you decide on, a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree, you need to make a choice that best fits your needs. However, we think the smell of evergreen in your home is priceless and irreplaceable.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, we want to thank you for your support in 2013 and we look forward to serving you in 2014!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

christmas-trees-real-or-fake