Sunday, 17 February 2013

Date night in the kitchen

Please enjoy a guest post from my close friend Katie Schaafsma. Katie and her husband Dan recently had a private cooking class from a local entrepreneur Lisa Quenneville, owner of "No more excuses". A great idea for any couple looking for something new to do together!

Date night in the kitchen!
Guest post by Katie Schaafsma

The other night, hubby and I went to our first ever cooking class, held by Lisa, the owner of "No More Excuses". Though Lisa is based in Brockville, the class was held at Your Independent Grocer location in Prescott.

We recently made some big changes in an effort to become overall more health-conscious and aware of what exactly we are putting into our children's bodies, and our own bodies, and the effects this can have, both in the short- and long-term. We're having a blast exploring this whole new world outside of the old "meat-potatoes-something green" repertoire. Through Facebook, we learned about an upcoming "Valentine's Day Cooking Class" being put on by No More Excuses. Since we just developed this new, shared interest (a very cool feeling after almost 10 years together!), we decided it would be an appropriate activity for us to try.

Lisa is a friendly, inviting person, who made us feel comfortable right away. It is obvious that not only is she good at what she does, but she enjoys it. From the basics, like which knife is best for which job, to more complex things like mixing several spices for that perfect flavour, Lisa showed us the way!

 She explained the health benefits of probably every single food available, some I've never even heard of, and also explained why some foods aren't as healthy as one might think. She decoded nutritional labels, suggest brands, and even told us which aisle it's in. If it has to do with food or cooking, asking Lisa is just like typing it into Google! But better, because I suppose anyone can post anything on the internet... I digress, but my point is, she knows what she's doing.

I've come a long way since my days of charring Kraft Dinner and annihilating cookware (wish I was kidding!), but to say I'm skilled, or even confident in the kitchen would be a flat-out lie. I'm otherwise pretty smart though, and am somehow a decent baker. I can locate the "on" button, but I don't understand fancy cooking terminology. My husband is more or less the same, and we found Lisa's class to be geared perfectly for people with average cooking experience.

She explained what she was doing as she did it, or had us do it, but used everyday language. Because Lisa created an atmosphere that was so relaxed and easy-going, we also had no problems throwing out questions as we went along. We all had a good laugh when my husband, trying to be helpful, threw out the tops of the peppers that were supposed to be saved. Lisa not only showed us how to make food that tastes great and is healthy, she even threw in a couple of neat tips for presentation, if we ever wanted to impress guests. Knowing we had children, Lisa also pointed out as we made our dessert, that it did not require an oven, or knives, thus making it safe for kids to help out.

The class ended slightly before the allotted time, and as we're all parents, we naturally chatted about our children. Lisa shared her ideas for hosting parent-child cooking classes this summer, in an effort to promote healthy eating to kids, while showing them how much fun cooking can be. (Maybe if kids learn that it's not a chore, they won't grow up and burn Kraft Dinner like their mom?)
We left feeling satiated, with a print-out of all five recipes and the remainder of our sparking grape juice to take home, excited and inspired to continue on our journey in the kitchen!
Through "No More Excuses", Lisa also offers many other services that focus on healthy living, such as: weight loss/maintenance, private or group nutritional counselling, grocery shopping, fridge/cupboard revamping, and Vegetarian, Vegan, and Raw Vegan education.
To learn more, or to contact Lisa, go to

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Daycare Day at Prince of Wales Public School

Recently, I ventured into business with a great friend. We started a daycare with a vision of a "Back to Basics" approach. It is our belief that children should be children and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. We grow our own produce in season, play outside when we're not facing arctic temperatures and do yoga when we can. Our kids get dirty playing outside and we're all okay with that. In fact, we prefer it!

One of the other fun-tastic things we do, is take field-trips and get out into our local community. This past week, we took our daycare children to a special day put on by Prince of Wales Public School. Given the cold weather we have recently had- down to -22 at times, the school thought it would be a great idea to let the children have free run of the gymnasium on a PA Day. They also treated participants to snacks and the opportunity to play at their before and after-school YMCA childcare room. When we heard of this, we jumped at the chance to get the kids out and enjoy this special treat!

When we arrived, we were greeted by the Principal, Mr. Taugher and his staff of fabulous teachers and support staff. Everyone was smiling and happy to welcome us to their school. The children were very excited to play with hula hoops, bean bags, giant bouncy balls, floor hockey sticks and other fun equipment in the gym. Before we knew it, almost an hour had passed and the gang was still going strong and looking forward to a play in the YMCA program room.

After playtime,there were snacks and drinks available. The room was very colourful and warm. As a new daycare provider, it was nice to be welcomed by the area's YMCA with open arms. The visit also gave my business partner, Stephanie, and I a chance to network, ask questions and "talk shop" with these fabulous ladies.

This was the first time Prince of Wales Public School has hosted a "Daycare Day" and I hope it is something that continues annually. It gave our preschool aged children a chance to visit a school and feel like such big kids. It also gave us the opportunity to meet other local professionals who work in the same field, and overall, was a great winter outing.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated and welcomed us into the school. For more information on Little City Charm Daycare,  Prince of Wales Public School or the Before and After-School programs from the YMCA, please visit the following links: