I remember when I booked my ticket to come home from Australia I had a mild panic attack. Figuring out life bits aside I had also booked it to come home in December. Fantastic to be home for the holidays however the idea of going from +30 to -10 or less wasn’t. Northern winds blowing off the coast bringing whirlwinds of snow, ice and chill. I prepped myself for four months and asked Jack Frost at least twice a week if he could be lenient this winter or at least allow me to not arrive in the middle of a snow storm. My wishes were granted along with I think the majority of East Coasters who were still reeling from last years snow blast. This winter though has been wonderful, a mix of cold crisp sunshine filled days – Christmas Day was competing for an Australian Christmas… Sort of… with surfers hitting the waves during a 11-17degree day. We of course have had a few snow storms, some rain and some very chilly windy days but I still am excited for the winter wonderland when it arrives and want to go out and play so I know it hasn’t been too harsh.
With two nephews, Christmas vacation and general snow or snowy days I went on searches for winter related activities to do and found so much! If you don’t mind getting out and about in the snow and bringing out the inner child you are set. Firstly, you can rent snow shoes from the city recreation centres for 24hours at a time! We took ours around York Redoubt. Probably the most ungraceful way of getting around but so much fun walking on snow once you figure out how to navigate turns or just walking. Ross Farm also has the traditional wooden ones which they make there if you want to have a go.
Ross Farm at any time of the year is one of my favourite places but during the winter it just has a little bit something more magical about it. The animals are fluffier with their thick winter coats and look so cozy in the barns or picture perfect against the snow. I could spend hours just saying hello to the animals. There is always hot chocolate on the stove in the farm house to warm you up after a sleigh ride through the woods and normally the ladies are up to something. This time we got to try our hands at making tallow candles.
You can even fit in some science experiments or make magic orbs if you wish. Shia and I after a few not too successful goes created a fantastic snow volcano. Tip: when you make it, make sure the jar you pour your food colouring and vinegar into is firmly packed into the snow, slightly tipping in the direction you want your volcano flow and not too long of a jar. Next, the two of us and Tidus decided to try to make ice marbles or magic orbs out of balloons filled with water and food colouring and then left out to freeze. When you cut away the balloon after they are frozen you end up with brightly coloured ice globes. Tip: add the food colouring to the balloon before you put the water in it. Otherwise, one can end up with a slightly blue bathroom and nephew.
There is sledding, snowman making, snowball fights, or just going for walks in the woods and taking in the beauty or as my nephews decided hunting for monsters and using home made pine cone peanut butter and seed bird feeders as luring mechanisms. There is also skating! Which we didn’t get to do on any of the lakes this year unfortunately but the good old oval was open! An outdoor giant sized skating rink and this year they have a new building where you can warm up and change your shoes if you want to extend your skating time. It’s brilliant and there are beaver tails. This year though, I decided I would try my hand at making my own and they worked. Delicious and great for after a skate. You just make the dough before hand, leave it to rise while your skating and then when you’re back get the fryer out and off you go. Freshly made beaver tails or snow shoes as I have nicknamed my ones to warm up any winters day.
And finally on the subject of winter treats, my favourite that I discovered this winter other than making gingerbread houses, snowman s’mores! So simple and fun to make and also very tasty with a hot chocolate or coffee. We didn’t have candy corn for the nose but as it was close to valentines we had cinnamon hearts instead so he had a mouth and a little heart as well.
And now as the blue jays come back and the local squirrels run at full speed up and down the trees we are entering Spring. A whole new season of activities and delicious treats to try. Bring it on!