Author: Carmen Broder

Halloween events
Oct23

If you are visiting Vancouver Island this October there are plenty of things to do as Halloween grows near. These events are compiled with our Breakaway Vacation properties in Parksville and Qualicum Beach in mind but don’t forget to explore what goes on in other areas like Victoria, as well!

  1. Halloween Party & Masquerade Ball

If you don’t mind a short drive to Nanaimo then be sure to buy tickets for the annual Halloween Part and Masquerade Ball, hosted by the Serauxmen Service Club. Enjoy dancing, live music, and a best costume prize (solo and group).

Location: Nanaimo Curling Club (106 Wall Street)

  1. Pumpkins on the Drive

Wander along Resort Drive to see an assortment of pumpkins carved and decorated for the season. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up some candy and hot chocolate along the way!

Location: Resort Drive in Parksville

  1. Friends of Foster Park Pumpkin Walk

More pumpkins, what a surprise! Tour through hundreds of pumpkins carved by community youth. This event takes place every year and is free to attend. The walk is family-friendly with enough rooms for strollers.

Location: Foster Park, Parksville

  1. Errington’s Pumpkin Trail and Fireworks

Visit Errington’s Community Park with the whole family in costume (child-friendly event) and check out the props hidden along the trails. Treats will be handed out at different milestone locations. There is also a market site at the end where you can stock up on treats and drinks. Plus: fireworks!

Location: Errington’s Community Park

  1. Coombs Candy Walk

This is a Halloween event held every year. Visitors can enjoy a circus-themed candy walk, concession stands, a “Little Ghouls” haunted house, and fireworks later in the night. The event is by donation, so chip in what you can.

Location: 1014 Ford Road, Coombs

  1. Halloween in the Village

Located in the heart of Qualicum Beach, Halloween in the Village includes a pumpkin trail, hotdogs and other treats, a bonfire, and some nighttime fireworks. Check online for more details, as they sometimes have a haunted house (OR a family-friendly version) set up, as well.

Location: Downtown Qualicum Beach

  1. Halloween Howl Swim

Want something totally unique? Try the Halloween Howl Swim at the Ravensong Aquatic Centre. The Centre is always decorated for the occasion. Also, there will be games and activities for kids. The event closed off with a piñata bash, so be sure to stick around.

Location: Ravensong Aquatic Centre, Qualicum Beach

Not sure what you want to do to celebrate this Halloween with your family? Ask us about our vacation rentals on Vancouver Island!

wine pairing
Oct16

Everyone knows that British Columbia is Canada’s wine region. BC wine is a must-try when you are visiting the area. Vineyards may not be open this late into the year but you can expect any local venues to be stocked up with wine from around the area. Here are just a few ideas of what types of wine and food pairings to try.

Savory Squash + Pinot Gris

Squash is in season so you will probably be able to find it on many-a-menu these days. Any savory squash meal should pair well with Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is rich and spicy and quite popular in B.C. so you’ll find it everywhere. It pairs well with the rich creaminess of squash-based meals (think: pasta, warm salad, or soups).

Meat and Potatoes + Rioja

Steak and potatoes. Sausage and potatoes. Red meat stew. These are perfect cold-weather meals because they fill you up and make you feel warm and cozy as the nights get chilly. Try pairing these meals with a Rioja, which is a deep, leathery red with hints of cherry. Want it sweeter? Open a newer bottle. For more savory, pick a Rioja that has been aged.

Apple Cinnamon + Riesling

Cinnamon will be making a grand appearance in a big way in many desserts and even breakfast/bunches. You might find it with apple or pumpkin, which are in season. But what wine goes best with apple cinnamon tarts after a long day? Try Riesling, which is equal parts sweet and acidic—a perfect counterpart.

Turkey Leftovers + Grenache Rosé

If you’ve already celebrated (Canadian) Thanksgiving, you most likely have a fridge packed full of delicious turkey leftovers. You might be finding yourself adding it to everything: soups, salads, sandwiches. How about accenting the inevitable turkey overdose with some nice Grenache Rosé? The ruby rose colour and heightened acidity make it a great fall pairing.

Vegetable Stew + Pinot Noir

Vegetable stew is great to make in bulk and freeze or refrigerate for easy fall meals. Pack it full of lentils, mushrooms, carrots, potato, corn, and anything else you desire. Vegetarian stew lasts longer in the fridge than meat-based counterparts so you don’t have to worry about rushing through it. Pinot Noir is so food-friendly it goes with nearly anything but it will keep this particular meal company with it’s rich fruity character.

Lamb + Zinfandel

Thinking about ordering rack of lamb for a luscious, fall meal? Try pairing lamb-based recipes with Zinfandel, which is a perfect fall wine that also goes great with sweet potatoes. Zinfandel has hints of dark fruit and a smoky zest but you can also find earthier varieties.

No matter what you are eating, you will be able to find a BC wine to match. That’s because there are so many varieties to play with. Wine lovers rejoice.

Looking for a fantastic Fall getaway? Contact us and ask about our vacation properties here in beautiful British Columbia.

pumpkin baking
Oct09

Going away for the weekend doesn’t have to mean living off crusty gas station cookies when you get the inevitable sweet tooth. We believe that home baking can travel with you anywhere, which is why we’ve compiled this list of # pumpkin-themed baking recipes that are uber easy to make.

  1. Pumpkin Granola

Oats, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin puree are the star or this granola dish. Plus, coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and brown sugar add all the sweetness you could possibly desire. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes to prepare and then another hour to bake, so consider making it the night before if you want a get-up-and-go treat first thing in the morning.

Full recipe on Tasty Kitchen.

  1. Baked Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin can be used in the main course, too. If you have some picky eaters in the family, try this pumpkin mac and cheese dish. No one can say no to mac and cheese! Other than the usual mac and cheese ingredients that you would expect, you will also want to pick up some pumpkin puree and ground nutmeg. This easy lunchtime treat takes just under an hour to make.

Full recipe on The Bossy Kitchen.

  1. Easy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

This recipe takes only 45 minutes to complete with minor prep time of about 10 minutes. A perfect afternoon craft! You also get about 18 muffins out of it, making it perfect to share with friends or family. All you need is pumpkin spice cake mix (or similar cake mix of your choosing), pumpkin puree, cinnamon chips, and chopped pecans. Makes a perfect dessert!

Full recipe on AllRecipes.

  1. Pumpkin Smoothie

If you’re a fan of pumpkin spice lattes, you might want to try this pumpkin smoothie. Pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, apple cider, milk, maple syrup, and pumpkin-pie spice to taste. Pumpkin smoothies are great for a midday snack or even a quick breakfast. Don’t forget to pack your personal (1 serving) blender so that you can make smoothies on the go, no matter where you are. We highly recommend it.

Full recipe on Express Life.

Need somewhere to stay for a quick week/end getaway this Fall season? Contact us to learn about one of our many vacation rental properties, from cottages to larger group facilities.

 

 

Packing tips
Oct03

Who doesn’t love a peaceful winter weekend vacation away from home? Or, you probably have plans to travel for holidays coming up: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and so on. If you are traveling to the Kelowna area or Vancouver Island, be sure to check out our vacation homes.

Pack More Socks than you Think You Need.

It’s cold out…but not always. Fall tends to flip-flop between balmy sunny days and chilly winter storms. That means a lot of moisture and mush on the streets, sidewalks, and in the parks. That means you might have to swap out soggy socks mid-day for a fresh pair. Not to mention that on the chilliest of days, you might want to wear two pairs in your boots, particularly if you like autumn hiking.

Pack Waterproof Footwear.

To prevent the above scenario, you could also just make sure to pack shoes or boots that prevent slush and moisture from leaking in. They should be something you can see yourself wearing on a warm day as well as a cooler one, as fall tends to flip-flop. One of the best packing tips is to bring appropriate footwear for your destination.

Pack a Portable Battery Charger.

Autumn can be warm at times but don’t let that deceive you. Getting stuck somewhere when the sun goes down will be unpleasant, even on the warmest days. You should always have a charged phone in case you need to call a friend or a cab if you get stranded or need a ride. That’s why packing a portable charger is a good idea, especially if you are on your phone a lot or it has an older battery that is prone to dying.

Pack a Neutral Scarf.

Scarves take up a lot of room in a bag and can be uncomfortable to wear if you are too warm. You probably won’t want to haul around more than one so make sure you pick one in a neutral colour like black, brown, beige, or grey that goes with everything and anything you might be wearing.

Pack a Tablet or Smart Reader.

Fall weather can be unpredictable. You might get anything from rain or hail or sun or snow. If there are days that you can’t go outside, you’ll want enough entertainment to get you by. A smart reader is a great way to pack every book you’ve been meaning to read without taking up much space in an overnight bag.

Pack Sunscreen.

You may be bundled from head-to-toe on a chilly day but that doesn’t mean the sun can’t reach delicate areas like your face, neck, and hands. Even on overcast days, the UV rays can get through, and sometimes clouds even amplify their strength. This is important if you’re skiing or snowboarding, too, to avoid picking up a goggle tan.

Bonus tip: Are you struggling to get your packing list together? Try a packing app! There are plenty of travel-based apps meant o simplify your vacation for you.

Haven’t picked a fall trip for yourself yet? Consider staying at one of our beautiful vacation rental properties in B.C. Contact us for more details.

BC Wine
Aug26

If you are travelling B.C. this summer, you will undoubtedly be drawn to the expansive vineyards. Not only are they stunning to behold but they produce delicious wines of every flavor and variety. Any vacation trip to B.C. would do well with some samples of the local wineries. Many visitors arrange wine tours during their stay. (Ask us if you are staying with us and in need of recommendations!)

In honour of all the great B.C. wineries and orchards, here are just a few of our favorite B.C. wines:

1. Family Reserve Chardonnay

From: Quails’ Gate Stewart in Okanagan Valley, BC

This tropical and balanced wine pairs well with any pork-centric meal. It won a bronze medal in the 2019 San Francisco International Wine Competition, among other notable achievements. This Chardonnay is refreshing, golden, and smooth with a fruity essence.

2. Red Icon, Bordeaux Blend

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

A red Bordeaux blend usually has Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in it. Bold and structured, this wine pairs well with beef and/or venison meals. Darkly colored and rich in flavor, many red Bordeaux are likened to dark fruits like plum and blackcurrant.

3. Syrah

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape known for floral flavors in its youth and more peppery flavors as it ages. It pairs well with BBQ (think: spareribs and grilled veggies), braised beef, and aged hard cheeses. Fun fact: It’s only called “Shiraz” if it’s from Australia.

4.  ‘Portfolio’ Red, Bordeaux Blend

From: Laughing Stock Vineyards in Okanagan Valley, BC

Laughing Stock Vineyards is located in the beachy city of Penticton, B.C. This red pairs well with heavy, fatty, and spicier steaks and lamb. We’re sensing a theme here. Routinely wins top accolades from wine competitions and wine critics alike: a proven chart-topper.

5. Reserve Riesling Icewine

From: Mission Hill Family Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

An ultra-sweet icewine with tons of tropical fruit flavours, like citrus and apricot. Don’t worry, citrus-infused acidity keeps it balanced. It will pair perfectly with berry-centric desserts so be sure to stick around for an after-dinner snack.

We hope this guide will help you sample the best wine of B.C.

If you in the area visiting and need a cozy vacation rental, be sure to contact us. Our staff would be happy to help you find the right fit.

BC nature scenery by water
Aug19

Thinking about visiting B.C.? We don’t blame you! Here are just a few of the things that we love about beautiful British Columbia.

1. The Hiking Trails

From the Okanagan to the Island, B.C. has hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. Take a family-friendly meander through a wooden grove or challenge yourself with a steep uphill climb! Check out our blog for suggestions of some hikes nearest you. On the blog homepage, search: “Hikes.”

2. National Parks

B.C. is home to some of the most gorgeous national parks in all of Canada. You can birdwatch, picnic, or site-see to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to call or email ahead to ensure that they are open to the public during your day/hour of choice. Make a day trip to the nearest one—you won’t regret it!

3. Budget Travel

B.C. has a perfect blend of flashy cities and small, community-centric towns. That means that no matter what your budget is, you can find somewhere to stay. Also: B.C. has a moderate climate year-round, meaning that you can fill your days with cost-free outdoor activities.

4. The Beaches

B.C. borders the Pacific Ocean and has many lakes and ponds that are safe for a dip. No matter where you stay, you’ll be able to find a waterside spot to soak up some sun. Okanagan Lake is a must-see if you are vacationing in the Kelowna and Vernon area.

5. Tourist Friendly

Not only is B.C. very multicultural but they have a thriving tourism industry. That means everywhere you go you will feel welcomed and taken care of. Our doors are always open to newcomers.

6. Wine County

B.C. wineries have a long history in the province, where the warm weather allows orchards of all sorts to flourish in the summer and autumn months. Book a wine tour to learn more or ask around for the best local picks.

7. Farmers’ Markets

Wine grapes aren’t the only produce that grows across B.C. You’ll find plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available at any local farmers’ market and even many varieties in common grocery stores, too.

Have we convinced you to try a B.C. vacation? Contact us for details on the best B.C. vacation rentals in the Okanagan Valley and on Vancouver Island. We welcome the opportunity to set you up in a modern, personable cottage or abode of your choosing.

As always: travel safe!

Summer cocktails using fresh fruit ingredients
Aug12

What can take any summer vacation up a notch? Some amazing cocktails (or mocktails if you want)! If you are staying somewhere away from home, like one of our vacation rentals, you will probably want something easy that you can throw together with minimal supplies and prep. So here are 5 of our favourite easy summer cocktail recipes. Mix, stir, blend, and shake away!

1. Jam Cocktails

By Dessert for Two

Pick your favourite jam—and if you are vacationing in B.C., you can probably find something homemade at one of the farmer’s markets. Place a few tablespoons of jam in a jar and add 1-2 shots of vodka and some lemon juice. Shake well before straining and serving over ice. Garnish with fruits and mint according to what type of jam you picked.

2. Easy Pimm’s Cocktails

By Taste.com

Add sliced oranges, lemon pieces, and cucumber to a significant portion of Pimm’s and then leave the whole thing in the fridge to chill for a few hours. Serve the mixture with tonic water, sparkling water, ginger ale, or lemonade, depending on your preference. Add some more fruit for garnish and voila—super easy fruity cocktail. Pimm’s can also be replaced by gin, vermouth, and an orange-based liqueur.

3. Malibu Sunset Cocktail

By The Cookin Chicks

This is a super easy three-ingredient recipe, requiring only Malibu Rum, pineapple juice, and a bit of grenadine. You can add cherries or pineapples as a garnish, but this is wholly optional. Fill a glass with ice and add in the rum and the pineapple juice. For a “sunset” look, pour the grenadine in slowly and watch the colours set.

4. Summer Solstice Wine Cocktail

By Boulderlocavore

What better to drink in Wine Country than a wine-based cocktail? First, combine cherries, peaches, and a Pinot Noir and muddle all the ingredients together. Then, add a few ice cubes and shake. Strain this mixture into glasses filled with fresh ice and top with Italian Soda (recommended: Blood Orange flavor). Try selecting a wine from a local vineyard for a location-specific twist.

5. Strawberry Basil Vodka Cocktail

By Garnish with Lemon

This is the most ingredient-intensive cocktail on this list so save it for a night you are feeling adventurous. You’ll need strawberries, basil leaves, lemon juice, simple syrup, vodka, elderflower liqueur, and prosecco. Muddle the strawberries, basil, lemon juice and simple syrup. Then, add ice, vodka, and elderflower liqueur and shake it. Strain everything into an ice-filled glass and add in the prosecco.

These summer cocktail ideas are sure to add a little spice to your vacation plans.

Don’t have any plans yet? Contact us about our vacation cottages and rentals across B.C. and we’ll help you find the perfect fit.

woman swimming in deep water
Aug06

One of the best parts of visiting B.C. during the summer is the warm weather and the sandy beaches. Fun must go hand-in-hand with safety, though, so here are some waterside tips for families to follow.

1. Check for Flags & Signs

Some beaches use flags and signs to denote location-specific warnings, like hazardous areas or dangerous marine life in the area. Any on-duty lifeguard will be able to explain these signs to you in they are unclear. If there is no lifeguard on duty, a quick Google search or a call/visit to a Visitors Information Centre should do the trick.

2. Apply and Reapply Sunscreen

Obviously, UV rays can damage our very sensitive skin and even lead to melanoma and other permanent damage. Water, sweat, and physical activity can rub or wash away applied sunscreen throughout the day so you can’t just set it and forget it. Reapply any time you come out of the water and/or every 2 hours. You should also put sunscreen on 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to ensure it’s properly absorbed by the skin beforehand.

3. Maintain a Safe Distance From Others

Not only does this stop the spread of infectious diseases but it also prevents accidents and is proper beach etiquette. If you can, maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others. Try visiting the beach during “off hours”, like while locals are at work, or hunting for more spacey spots to sit, even if they are farther from the water.

4. Know Some Swimming Basics

Make sure everyone in your group knows basic swimming and water safety. At the very least, they should be able to dog paddle or hold their breath and float on their back. Swim in pairs (or more) for maximum safety. Younger children should wear floating devices or lifejackets if they are at risk. If you are a weak swimmer, keep an open water float nearby.

5. Keep Near to a Source of Shade

Whether it’s a tree or a beach umbrella you brought along, a source of shade is important to protect against burns as well as sun sickness/stroke. Be sure you are drinking plenty of water, too, which will also help against the latter. Heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and sun poisoning are always a risk when it’s bright and hot outside.

Keep these beach and swimming tips in mind and ask a lifeguard in the area if you need more assistance. No lifeguard? Defer to the strongest swimmer in the family, watch out for one another, and travel (swim) in groups. Swim safe and have fun!

No beach plans yet? Maybe it’s because you haven’t found the right vacation spot yet. Contact us to book one of our cottages or rental properties for your family vacation.