New family traditions.

Out and about…

lg-santa-outsideIan’s Christmas Tree Farm

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – when there are so many things you can do with your family in celebration of winter and Christmas. I am sure your family has some favourite things to do during the month of December, but I wanted to let you know about a place that we discovered a few years ago.

It’s Ian’s Christmas Tree Farm, just off Richmond Road – between Carleton Place and Smiths Fall, close to Franktown.   It’s a great place to take little kids – 12 and under – and especially magical at night.

Our first visit there was on a Sunday evening – there was hardly a soul there – which was perfect for us! The park is open until 9:00 p.m., so we headed out after an early dinner. It was a starry night, and not too cold – perfect weather.

We took a stroll down Candy Cane Lane, enjoying the night air, and discovered Santa’s reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. The little ones were delighted to see real reindeer!

We found Santa warming himself around the bonfire, but our little ones were too shy to approach him. They weren’t too shy, however, to slide down the toboggan hills we discovered – (take your own sled!)  We took a wagon ride around the Ho Ho Lake, and then enjoyed a hot chocolate around one of the campfires.  We ended our visit by purchasing some pre-cut trees, but you do have the option of cutting down your own tree as well.

We have plans to do this again this December – and will hopefully get a chance for the little ones to visit Santa this time.  According to the website, there is no charge for the park activities providing you purchase a tree – so if you are looking for a fun outing with the family, you should check out Ian’s Christmas Tree Farm!


804 Richmond Road

Beckwith, ON


My December checklist.

Putting bows on things….

So, I may be a little silly (some people say crazy) about needing to tie up loose ends at the end of a year, and starting fresh in the new year, but that’s how I roll.  With the early arrival of snow, I feel the year end is close by, so I have been busy finishing things.

My bookkeeping is current (finally); we met with our lawyer this week to finalize our Will; we have the income taxes sorted out; Christmas cards are ready, Christmas shopping lists are started and underway, got a good start on my business plan for next year, so on a personal note I am feeling organized.

Now is the time to focus on the house and put some systems in place to make sure that we are keeping the maintenance up and being proactive.  I am going to schedule these maintenance items in my calendar – so I’ll get a pop-up message reminding me to do them…  but there is one item, that although I remind all my clients to do, we haven’t done yet ourselves – and that’s the maintenance of our Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) system.

My promise to you, that before you receive this ezine, I’ll have a bow put around this item too.  And here is what you need to know so you can do the same.  I want to do this without asking Ken for help, so I googled the CMHC Home Maintenance website and learned the following 7 steps:

  1. Turn off the HRV system by unplugging it.
  2. Clean (or replace) the air filter. We have 2 foam filters in ours – so they need to be removed, vacuumed and then washed with mild soap water and dried before putting them back in place. Our unit is only 2 years old, but some older units will have replaceable filters/
  3. Check the outside vents of the system and remove any debris. Make sure to keep snow and frost buildup away from the exterior.
  4. Inspect and clean the condensate drain. Our system has a plastic tube draining from the system to the floor drain. CMCH advised to pour 2 litres of clean, warm water into the drain pan and through the tubing, to ensure the drain is clear.
  5. Check your HRV owner’s manual for instructions on cleaning the heat exchange core. Vacuuming the core and washing it with soap and water will reduce dust that can build up inside the core.
  6. Once a year, check the ductwork leading to and from your HRV. Remove and inspect the grilles covering the duct ends, then vacuum inside the ducts. If a more thorough cleaning is required, call your service technician.
  7. Remove the dirt that has been accumulated on the blades by gently brushing them. Most new HRVs are designed to run continuously without lubrication, but older models require a few drops of proper motor lubricating oil in a designated oil intake. Check your manual for complete instructions.

Don’t forget to plug the HRV system back in! So, that’s all there is to keeping your HRV system in good working order. If you aren’t comfortable to do this yourself, you can always hire your favourite Heating and Cooling Company to do this for you.  Call me if you need a local recommendation!

From the kitchen


Nothing says I was thinking of you like a plate of home-made cookies – and December is the perfect time of year to bring out those family favourite recipes to bake up some memories. This recipe came from my one of our mother-in-laws –  many moons ago.  We hope you will enjoy them!

¾ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk

2 cups flour

¼ tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped red & green candied cherries

1 cup chopped nuts – we like pecans or walnuts


Cream together well the butter and sugar until smooth. Add beaten eggs and milk. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (not the raisins, cherries or nuts), and then blend the wet and dry ingredients together in small batches until all combined. Add the raisins, cherries and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet, about 1” apart. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

These freeze well…  We know because we have tried to “control” my enjoying them by keeping them frozen…  don’t worry they thaw quickly… and we even like them frozen!