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Baby Shower Planning

Traditionally baby showers are given for the families first child and only women were invited to “shower” the mother to be with gifts, celebrate new life and share their wisdom and knowledge of becoming a mother.  It was also considered that someone who is not a family member should throw the shower to avoid having it look like the family was asking for gifts.

Today anything goes and traditional rules are not followed as any relative, close friend, close co worker can plan an amazing baby shower both before or after the baby arrives, typically the last two months of pregnancy. And, although baby showers are predominantly still “for women only” holding a shower for both men and women is becoming more popular especially when it’s for the 2nd child.

When setting a date for the shower you should check with grand parents or other guests of honour to make sure they are available. It wouldn’t be good to send out invitations only to find that the most important guests can’t attend. Invitations should be sent at least 3 weeks in advance to an intimate number of friends and family.

Baby shower themes can also be great fun and sometimes helps to organize the party preparations, but are not necessary.  What about a tea party? Fancy table cloths, tea pots, plates and cups. Serve assorted teas, scones with clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches etc. You can even theme your tea party; everything to do with pink or blue, of course that can only be done when you know what the mom to be is expecting.

Throw a long leisurely baby brunch shower! or how about breaking tradition and having a “Mommy Shower”. Instead of guests bringing baby gifts, everyone brings something to pamper the mommy, like chocolate, bubble bath, gift certificates for take out food, spa services, comfy clothes etc. If you opt not to have a theme, a simple, elegant bright decor with flowers are most appropriate, remember all eyes will be on the belly of the mom to be, so keep the decor simple and to a minimum.

Serving food at the shower is always easiest as a buffet. Serving finger foods allows your guests to try something different and by spreading small bowls around the party, allows guests to also mingle by moving around the room.  Keep food light and simple by serving such items as a veggie tray, fruit tray, keish, sandwiches, cheese & crackers, salads, deviled eggs, buns & cold cuts and lets not forget cute cupcakes. There is also no shame in pot-luck either!

Gift opening is the main event but baby shower games and prizes are always a fun way to create atmosphere and there are many games to choose from.  One unique idea referred to as “Diaper Extraordinaire” is simply putting together a gift basket filled with items like a bottle of wine and glasses, cheese and crackers, wine opener etc. and on your invitations write that there will be a draw for a gift basket that anyone would love. The price of a ticket is one small pack of diapers & wipes. Guests can enter as many times as they want. The lucky winner goes home with a beautiful basket while the mom to be will have a lot of  diapers that can be quite expensive.

When deciding on a gift sometimes practical versus cute for example can be the most invaluable.  Perhaps a group gift for those big-ticket items is the way to go – a stroller, car seat, portable crib, items that will endear you to the parents on a daily basis. Of course everyone wants to ooh and ahh at all the cute little outfits, blankets and booties. 

Send your guests home with a simple party favour. Perhaps something edible, like wrapped home made cookies or a boxed cup cake, a sweet ending to a beautiful shower and it’s a nice way for you to say “Thank you for coming”.

 



Roasted Chicken Breasts

Because most of the fat in chicken is in the skin, removing it — and its 16 grams of fat — makes chicken a lean choice. The parsley, lemon and garlic topping does the job the skin usually performs, keeping the breasts moist and juicy. Serve with rice pilaf and Honey Acorn Squash. Pop the squash into the oven 15 minutes before adding the chicken.

  • Portion size 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon rind
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Preparation 

Remove skin from chicken and discard. Brush mustard all over chicken. Place on rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In small bowl, stir together parsley, lemon rind, garlic, oil and cayenne; press onto chicken. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.) Roast in 375°F (190°C) oven until crusty, golden around edges and no longer pink inside, about 30 minutes.

Additional information :

Side Dish Savvy - Honey Acorn Squash:

Cut 2 acorn squash (2 lb/1 kg total) in half; scrape out seeds. Arrange, cut side down, on rimmed baking sheet. Roast in 375°F (190°C) oven for 30 minutes. Turn cut side up. In each cavity, place 1 tsp (5 mL) each butter and liquid honey; roast until tender and golden, about 15 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: about 125 cal, 1 g pro, 4 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 24 g carb, 4 g fibre, 10 mg chol, 44 mg sodium. % RDI: 5% calcium, 9% iron, 9% vit A, 23% vit C, 11% folate

 

Source: Canadian Living Magazine

 



Old Mill Marks Centennial With New TTC Subway Sign

Old Mill marks centennial, honours area history with new TTC subway sign
TTC, MPP-elect Peter Milczyn partner on pictoral tribute

 

The Old Mill has made a name for itself over the past century as a place to celebrate milestone events, share family dinners and partake in afternoon tea.

It has become a fixture on the bank of the Humber River and cemented itself in Toronto residents’ family histories. While many people know of the Old Mill, fewer are familiar with its heritage, said its president Michael Kalmar.

“The story of the Old Mill is a wonderful story; it’s a good news story,” said Kalmar at a special reception to commemorate the centennial of the Old Mill, established Aug. 4, 1914.

In partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and with support from former Etobicoke-Lakeshore councillor and Liberal MPP-elect Peter Milczyn, The Old Mill unveiled a pictoral tribute to the early history of the Humber Valley and Kingsway area at the Old Mill subway station.

“What’s the tie in between the Old Mill and the TTC? Both are important conduits to the area,” said Kalmar during the afternoon reception Wednesday, June 18 that brought together decades-long staff members for the centennial event.

The new signage, permanently installed on walls of the east and westbound platforms of the Old Mill subway station, incorporates rare historic photographs and drawings that date back to the 1600s when Huron Indians made their homes on the banks of the Humber River to the early 1900s through the First World War and the Depression era.

“A picture tells a 1,000 words,” said Kalmar, who pointed out the Old Mill got its start as a community centre. Its founder, Robert Home Smith, who built the surrounding neighbourhoods, wanted a place where everyone in the community could come and socialize. Long before the invention of social media or the television, the Old Mill was where residents came to share news of the day, to be entertained and have afternoon tea, Kalmar said.

“Really, we’re just custodians of a wonderful tradition that we have to make sure carries on,” he said.

Natalie Bauer, director of marketing and events at the Old Mill, chose the photos that make up the words ‘Old Mill’ at its namesake subway station. She said with each letter, she wanted to tell a story. She began with photographs of the Huron Indians living along the river. She called the project “a great experience.”

The TTC’s Chief Customer Officer Chris Upfold said a project such as this one helps the transit commission create links to the communities it serves.

“This is a great thing for our customers, a great thing for the TTC. We’re excited to be a part of it,” he said.

Milczyn said the project creates a “link between a local institution, our community and the transit system, the very lifeblood of our city.”

Speaking to the staff, Milczyn thanked them for their “contribution to so many special events in people’s lives,” including his own wedding.

“The Old Mill has a special place in my heart and many people’s hearts,” he said.

 

Staff photo/MARY GAUDET

Employees of the Old Mill, each with decades of service to the company, gather around the new sign for Old Mill Station. The TTC and the Old Mill collaborated on the project that uses photographs from the 100 year history of the Old Mill and area to spell out the subway stop.

For further information about the Old Mill’s centennial, visit Centennial Celebrations

Story  By Lisa Rainford / Bloor West Villager



Short Bread Takes The Cake & Health Benefits Of Tea

Short Bread Cookies are traditionally a Christmas cookie  blending Butter, Sugar and Flour. The Old Mill Toronto Pastry Chef has decided to share a buttery delicious Shortbread Recipe with you.

Traditional Shortbread

275g Unsalted Butter (softened)
140g Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract
410g All Purpose Flour
5g Salt
Zest of 1 lemon, 1 lime (optional)

Method:

1. Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Add vanilla and citrus zest (if desired).

3. Add flour and salt, mixing well until a soft dough forms.

4. Refrigerate at least one hour before rolling out and cutting, as the dough will be very soft and difficult to work with immediately after mixing.

5. Roll out approximately 1/3 of an inch in height on a well-floured work surface and cut into desired shapes. Alternately, roll into smooth cylindrical logs or rectangles, chill, and slice. 

6. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the edges just begin to colour. May be dipped in chocolate or decorated with royal icing.

Health Benefits of Tea

A spot of tea in the afternoon with friends has more benefits than just good company, and relaxation. Tea drinking is beneficial in many ways and goes great with a fresh shortbread cookie! 

Boost your immune system and help reduce the risk of cancers Camellia sinensis (Tea) contain catechins, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system. Vitamin H, also known as biotin, is present in teas which also contributes to a healthy immune system . In addition, tea contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that assists in the prevention of cellular damage, cardiovascular disease, skin disease and UV-induced DNA damage.

Protect your heart  with the antioxidant found in green tea, EGCg, speeds up the recovery of heart cells and minimizes cell death after a heart attack or stroke. Green tea is also associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease because its high quantity of antioxidants, namely flavonoids, may reduce the amount of cholesterol in the artery wall. Tea acts as an anti-inflammatory and improves blood vessel function.

Reduce your risk of ovarian cancer - A Swedish study published in December 2005 claims that drinking two or more cups of tea a day can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer by 46 per cent. The 15-year study involved just over 60,000 Swedish women.

Tea protects your bones - It’s not just the milk added to tea that builds strong bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors. The authors suggest that this may be the work of tea’s many beneficial phytochemicals.

Tea is calorie-free – Tea doesn’t have any calories, unless you add sweetener or milk. Consuming even 250 fewer calories per day can result in losing one pound per week. If you’re looking for a satisfying, calorie-free beverage, tea is a top choice.

Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Old Mill Toronto.



Meditation & Relaxation

Meditation

Meditation has great restorative powers and helps you to work at your most efficient level by keeping your mind clear throughout the day, meditation can also help you sleep better at night.

Sit in a comfortable position, scan your body and let go of any tension you may be holding in your face, neck, shoulders, upper body, hips, legs and feet. Close your eyes and breathe in an easy simple rhythm. Do not try to shut out sounds and other sensations happening around you, just let them be there and focus on your breathe drawing your attention away from the distractions. Be aware of the coolness of the air at the tip of your nose as you breathe in and the warmth of the air as you breathe out. Thoughts will inevitably arise to distract you, you can not force the mind to be empty, but do not let yourself react to these disturbances. Continue to focus on your breathe just observe and release the distractions as they happen. If you find it hard to focus on your breathe you can use a simple mantra “So Ham” it means I am that in the universal life force. Silently say “So” as you breathe in and “Ham” as you breathe out. Or you can try another simple mantra like “Om”

Eventually as you practise meditation more frequently you will learn to sit quietly but alert, observing the stillness and feeling of space. You will let yourself be in the present moment, with no thought of future or past. Becoming good at meditation takes practice, but the benefits are definitely worth your efforts.

Relaxation

Lying down is the best position for relaxation. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and that you are warm, use a blanket if necessary. Start with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart, arms away from your body and backs of hands on the floor. The centre of your head should be on the floor if this is not comfortable then use a pillow under your head.

Stretch out through your arms to your fingertips, then relax the arms and shoulders, unless you have a back problem stretch out your legs. Flex your toes towards you and then let go. Close your eyes, relax your jaw so the teeth part slightly. Smile a little to relax your face, swallow and let your neck relax.

Become aware of your breathe entering and leaving your body with the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen. Enjoy the quiet and calm. When you are ready become aware of your surroundings, slowly wiggle your fingers and toes and take one or two deep breaths. Turn on to your right side in fetal position for a few more breaths with your eyes closed before you slowly make your way to a seated position. Open your eyes.



Effective Tips for Planning Small Team Meetings

 
 
How many times have you heard; “Small meetings are just as much work as large meetings”! Effective use of meeting time sets a positive, productive tone for interaction among participants. An effective meeting leader will keep participants on track ensuring everyone is invested in the topic of the meeting and in the follow-up. 
 
Planning an effective meeting is all about the preparation, leadership, group participation, time management and a concise understanding of what the meeting is to accomplish. And, lets not forget that feedback is an effective way to measure your responsiveness both during and after the meeting.
 
Listed below are some great ideas to help you with planning smaller, meaningful and productive meetings.
 
1. Select a venue style, location and ambiance that suits both your program and guest profile well. It will encourage comfortable discussion in a non-intimidating environment.
 
2.  Get “outside” when you can! When appropriate, ensure you have access to outdoor space for breaks and team building ideas.
 
3.  Ensure you set realistic budgets when researching properties as venues enjoy being able to provide the best value for available spend.
 
4.  Location, Location, Location! Do you want to be close to the office? Do you want privacy? What are the travel times and costs involved?
 
5.  Are you flexible with dates? Small meetings don’t always have to be short term, but if you are flexible, venues may provide better pricing and premium space.
 
6.  Set a realistic agenda allowing time for more group discussion and problem solving.
 
7.  Ensure the facility Sales Manager understands your needs; can they suggest ways to help improve the meeting, can they provide estimates on pricing, can they give you valuable suggestions on helping you achieve the overall level of success you are looking for.
 
Remember small meetings make it possible to give participants more personal attention, use this to your advantage in communicating your agenda. In fact circulate your agenda in advance to allow participants to prepare.  This will also explain the goal of your meeting to help achieve more during your meeting with effective time use in prioritizing goals.
 
As a meeting leader you should summarize assigned action items with target completion dates that are measurable, (things that get measured get done) and if every item in the agenda was covered. Holding small team meetings helps focus on your goals accomplishing top priorities and accelerating growth of the organization. Small meeting structures are relatively simple but they require an effective disciplined strategy to ensure your strategic planning efforts create the most effective team planning with goals and objectives