Local Pumpkin Farms

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and local pumpkin farms are open and ready for business! A great activity for the whole family is to visit one of these great farms, to enjoy the activities they have to offer, and leave with a car load of pumpkins! Pumpkins make the best fall decor and the best fall treat! There is nothing better than a home-made pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I’ve put together a list of popular, local farms for you to check out in the next few weeks. Here are the top 5!

Geobern Farms: Located about 15 minutes from Almonte, starting on October the 5th, family’s can visit this great pumpkin patch. Attractions include a corn maze, wagon rides, farm animals and a playstructure. The James family encourages you to bring a picnic as there is lots of green space. Take the time to hike out to their historic “Preaching Rock”. Along with pumpkins, they sell gourds, Indian corn, corn stalks and straw bales, all great for helping you create your fall themed porch vignette. (This has been one of our favourite pumpkin patches over the years, and the little one’s really look forward to the wagon ride through the forest!)

Deugo Pumkins & Gourds: Just outside of Almonte is Deugo Pumpkins & Gourds. A smaller pumpkin patch, but a local favourite. Deugo’s has their wagons set up with all sorts of pumpkins and gourds for a variety of uses and a range of prices. It’s a lot of fun to let everyone in the family choose their own pumpkin to spruce up your front porch for Fall. Along with pumpkins and decor items, Deugo’s offers all sorts of squash! Pick them up locally for approximately 1/2 the price of what you would pay at the grocery store. They also have a great Facebook page with updates and recipes posted frequently.

Saunders Farm: For a true, one-of-a-kind, experience, visit Saunders Farm! They are located a bit further away in Munster Township, but the short trip is sure to be worth it. Saunders is a bit more commercial than some of the smaller pumpkin patches. They often have larger events planned such as Spartacat’s Birthday & Ottawa Senators Day (September 30th), Fright Fest (September 28th – October 31st) and their annual Scaring is Caring event (October 12th). They have over 30 attractions and offer events that are great for kids and adults. Check out their website for more info and ticket prices www.saundersfarm.com. This location is definitely more suited for the older kids in your family!

Scotch Line Farm: Scotch Line farm is one of the newer pumpkin farms around, located just outside of Perth. They have a pick-your-own pumpkin patch as well as a variety of pre-picked pumpkins ready for purchase! For the kids, they offer wagon rides every hour. They have a wonderful farm store where you can find handmade products, home baked goods as well as ground beef and sausages from their Red Angus cattle raised on the farm. This farm also makes a great setting for those fall family photos you’ve been planning!

Needham’s Market Garden: Starting in late August, Needham’s pumpkins are ready to go! They have a variety of different types of pumpkins including different shapes, sizes and colours. Not only does Needham’s offer pumpkins, they have a wide variety of seasonal products, canned goods, locally made products and their very own fruit wine! Opening soon this year is their Market Garden Maze. Visit this local attraction daily from 8am-4pm or, they also offer an exciting glow stick maze open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from dusk until 9pm. Needham’s Market Garden store is open daily from 8:00am – 6:00pm from May until the end of October. You’ll find Needham’s on highway 29 in between Arnprior and Pakenham.

There you have it! The top 5, local, pumpkin patches. Any of these farms will be sure to please and would make the perfect fall outing for you and your family. Do you have a favourite local pumpkin patch? Be sure to share your experience with me on Facebook and Instagram!

Mill of Kintail

One of Mississippi Mills hidden gems is the Mill of Kintail. Part of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, the Mill of Kintail offers a great outdoor experience and is located just minutes from Almonte. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with the family, take your dog for a walk or just get out and enjoy the out of doors!

The Mill has many things to offer in all 4 seasons. During the winter months, take advantage of the various cross country ski trails that loop throughout the conservation area. In the warmer months, the trails are great for walking! The total length of trails is 6.5km. They are open all year round from dawn until dusk. Additionally, there are picnic areas as well as play structures, great for kids. In the warmest months of the year, dip your feet into the beautiful Indian River which is easily accessible and perfect for the young explorers of the family. Also located on the grounds is the R. Tait McKenzie Memorial Museum. Tour through the museum where you’ll find special exhibits, artisan demonstrations and workshops for visitors of all ages. Check out the Mill of Kintail’s facebook page to stay up-to-date on activities, events and workshops taking place.

Throughout the summer months, children ages 6-11 can attend summer camp which features hands-on learning and environmental leadership programming. Each day of this unique camp focuses on a different theme related to the natural environment. Camps run throughout July and August and are a week long. Visit mvc.on.ca/wildlife-watchers-summer-day-camp/ for more information on how to register your child.

Looking for the perfect spot to host your outdoor wedding or large group event? The Mill os Kintail is available to rent. It is the ideal spot to take photos, with the natural environment, mature trees, river and picturesque 1830 Nepean sandstone grist mill (now the Museum). Just minutes from Almonte, Pakenham and a short commute from Carleton Place, Arnprior and Kanata, it’s location is a great central meeting place.

The Mill of Kintail is full of nature, history and family friendly fun. Visit one of Lanark County’s 7 wonders for an unforgettable experience. I’d love to hear about your experiences at this local attraction. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to share your stories and photos with me!

Best Places to Host a Birthday Party…

Now that the kids are back to school there will be invitations to birthday parties… lots of invitations! You may even be planning a party for your own child. It seems that in recent years party plans have become more elaborate and sophisticated, with taking all the parties to a movie-theatre and then out for a meal.

There are lots of great local options, that don’t have to break the bank, and yet will leave the birthday boy or girl feeling duly celebrated and ensure that the guests have a good time as well.

Carleton Place Swimming Pool: Most kids love to swim, and the CP Swimming Pool has a “party package” that allows you to bring up to 25 guests (includes 2 life-guards) for an hour for $188.75 plus the party-room rental for $32.50 for 1 hour. You provide your own food and snacks – and this is a great way to tire out the birthday guests with some physical activity. https://carletonplace.ca/pool-and-beach.phpChasin’ Turkeys Bowling Alley: Looking for something a little slower-paced or a little less physical? Chasin’ Turkeys is located on Bridge Street in Carleton Place. Under new ownership since 2018, they now offer several “party packages” from #1 – Hot Dog Package for $195 + HST for 8 guests; to #2 1-Slice Pizza Party also for $195 + HST for 8; to #3 2-Slice Pizza Party at $220 + HST for 8 guests. This is a great birthday idea, for a variety of ages! https://www.chasinturkeys.ca/Kids World: Located on Industrial Avenue in Carleton Place, is a great option for a birthday party with kids of various ages. (We started a birthday celebration there with a 60-year-old-birthday-boy… just sayin!) With a combination of trampolines, softplay for little ones, wall climbing and a select few virtual reality games (not my favourite!), they offer 3 different party packages – Silver, Gold or Platinum. http://www.kidsworldcp.ca/

For Teens: Depending on the age of your teen, there are many great suggestions of at-home themed parties, that with a little imagination and creativity, will have all the guests enjoying themselves. Reality Television Shows such as Survivor or Fear Factor or American Ninja Warrior provide a great theme for a birthday party. The internet, including Google and Etsy, provide excellent party plans including menu suggestions.

For Adults: A current popular trend is the Escape Room games, where guests are teamed up to solve a mystery and get themselves out of a locked room in a timed period by solving clues collectively. While there are many Escape Room venues in the city, the Diefenbunker is much closer to home (in Carp) and promises to offer an affordable and fun evening. Guests can reconvene at The Swan Pub for some nibbles and drinks afterwards to discuss the evening and continue the party. http://diefenbunker.ca/en/Home Party with Games: Back in the old days, well at list in the 1960’s – 1990’s, the way we used to celebrate a birthday party was to host it at home, with a few party games like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey or Pass the Parcel or Memory Recount (look at a tray of items for 45 seconds and then write down all the items you remember). The games would be followed with lunch or a snack, cake, opening the gifts and then send the party-goers home with a loot bag.

I’d love to hear about your favourite birthday-party celebration locally. Be sure to share with me on Facebook or Instagram!

Back to School – Back to School Lunch Ideas (that work for Mom or Dad’s lunch too!)

The summer is nearing an end and kids are heading back to school this week! There is a lot to get organized and creating new and exciting lunch ideas for your children is one of them.

The first step in the process is to get some great, functional, containers for packing lunches. An all in one box with separate compartments works best. This way, you can send a variety of different foods with your child. It will also cut down on the dishes each night and eliminate the use of small baggies or plastic wrap. A “bento” style container with an easy open lid is what you should be looking for.

There are plenty of great lunch options available. Here are some of my favourite nut-free, sandwich free options:

Cream Cheese & Cucumber Roll-Ups: These are super easy to make, and easily made into bite sized pieces. Spread cream cheese and thing cucumber slices over a wrap, roll it up, and slice horizontally creating small circles. Add some apples slices, yogurt and pretzel pieces into the lunch box and your all set!

Classic Ham & Cheese Sandwich: Ham, cheese and a bit of lettuce make a great sandwich for kids. You can get creative as well and use any cookie cutter you may have to cut the sandwich into a fun shape! Pair this with strawberry slices, crackers and a healthy granola bar. “Made Good” brand makes a great kids granola bar, as well as granola balls & cookies, which are nut-free.

Crackers & Cheese: Kids love crackers and cheese! I would also add some meat slices. Pepperoni is great for children to make their own mini sandwiches. Grapes always go nicely with crackers and cheese. To finish it up, add in an apple sauce or yogurt.

Savoury Muffins: A great savoury muffin option is “Pizza Muffins” (recipe found here: https://www.myfussyeater.com/pizza-lunchbox-muffins/). These are perfect for lunches and great to prep ahead of time. You can throw them in the freezer and take out as needed. Pack 2 of these, along with some veggie slices, berries and a few gluten-free animal cookies. Tip: there are plenty more savoury muffin recipes available on Pinterest! They’re great for adult meal prep as well.

Naan Triangles & Hummus: This lunch can be a great dairy free option! Cut up some naan bread into triangles, making it easy to dip, and add a small container of hummus (or guacamole). Carrot & pepper slices are perfect to add because they are great with hummus as well. To stay totally dairy & peanut free, combine this with your child’s favourite “Made Good” granola bar or apple sauce.

The start of school is always a bit hectic; back to school shopping, organizing your pick-up and drop-off schedule, signing up for extra-curricular activities.. AHHH!!! This list will hopefully help to get you started this school year. With a little pre-planning, some organization and a good list of ideas, prepping things on Sunday night is a great way to make the rest of the week a little less stressful.