Gadgets for entertaining at the cottage – The Digital Life


The summertime means spending more time with your friends and family, so head to the cottage ready to entertain with some of my favourite tech gadgets!

A party isn’t complete without margaritas! If you want to make sure every guest has a drink in their hand, be sure to have a margarita maker (like this Margaritaville Frozen Drink Maker) that will dispense the ice and blend the drinks just for you.  Simply booze it up to taste!

For the kids and dogs, the Sphero robotic ball is a multi-coloured, smartphone-controlled ball that is great for play around the yard.  The robotic gaming system is pet-proof and waterproof, and you can download up to 20 different games to play from “Etch-o-matic” to “Sphero Golf.”

If you’re looking for a new way of monitoring your home while travelling, the Withings Video Wi-Fi Monitor is an excellent solution— whether you want to check in on your pets, kids, or even your front door.  This handy wireless camera easily connects to your home internet system, and an app on your smartphone will allow you to access a live feed 24/7.

When on the beach, the hipKey Proximity and Movement Alarm will protect anything from your purse to your expensive digital camera.  This is an iPhone-activated alarm that can be attached to virtually anything, and you can set the parameters that will trigger a jarring sound.  Parameters include motion-activation and distance-activation (great for making sure your child doesn’t run too far away from you).

For the photographers out there, Lomography’s Horizon Kompakt camera is a fun way to take panoramic photos, and it pays homage to classic film photography in an age of digital photography.  Just remember to buy the film!

And lastly, if you’re an audiophile, the Klipsch Music Centre 3 is an audio system that promises to deliver on stellar sound quality.  It runs plugged in or on battery, so it’s ideal for around the house or for jamming to tunes on the beach.

Holiday de-stressing tips

The holiday season can be a stressful time for all with the pressure of buying gifts, planning holiday events with friends and family, all on top of the regular hustle-and-bustle of everyday life.

Here are four easy and helpful ways to find serenity and sanity during this busy time of year.

Plan events in advance:

The longer you procrastinate and let your list grow, the more stress you are building for yourself.  To minimize that, schedule the extra time to plan your events and holiday shopping.  Prioritize and figure out what needs to be done straight away, versus things that can be done a couple weeks down the road.

Delegate tasks to family members:

Spread out your must-do tasks on a calendar and split what up needs to get done between your spouses, or even your kids!   That way, you’ll get more done – minimizing the stress you put on yourself.

Accept that traditions can change:

While traditions are important, realize that things can change, too.  Don’t be afraid to shy away from the same-old and start new traditions, particularly if they better fit your family’s lifestyle and dynamic.  Whether that’s changing the food you serve, or when and where you have the big family gathering, be sure that everyone enjoys themselves – including yourself.

Set aside time for yourself:

This would have to be the most important tip – block out time for yourself.  The holiday season means you are constantly on the move, so it’s crucial you find a moment to stop, reflect on what the holidays mean to you, and give yourself a chance to relax.  Perhaps treat yourself to dinner at your favourite restaurant, or pamper yourself with a day at the spa.  As insignificant as these indulgences may sound, they’re really helpful in boosting your mood come holiday time.

Fun Halloween mocktail ideas

Throwing a Halloween party can be a lot of fun, and figuring out what to serve at your party can be a little intimidating.  A party would not be complete without mocktails so the non-alcoholic drinkers can have a fun, too!

To help you along the way, here are five Halloween non-alcoholic mocktail recipes to include in your party this year – ideal for adults and teens alike!

The simple, non-alcoholic fruit punch
For a fun twist on a classic fruit punch, mix half a gallon of sherbet ice cream and two litres of ginger ale.  This non-alcoholic fruit punch is a refreshing mocktail, full of bubbles and zest.

Pomegranate Bellini
Heat the pomegranate juice in a saucepan until hot, but not boiling.  Whisk in half-a-cup of blueberry jam until it is smooth and combined.  Strain the liquid through a pitcher.  Put the syrup into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

To serve, pour two or three teaspoons of syrup into champagne flutes and fill with non-alcoholic champagne.  Float a few blueberries on top to garnish, and enjoy.

“Monstermash smoothie”
In a blender, combine fresh strawberries with a splash of orange juice, set aside.  Blend a handful of blackberries and blueberries until you get a puree consistency.

To serve, pour one layer of strawberries, followed by a layer of blueberry/blackberry mash.  Top with a blended orange juice and vanilla yogurt mix.  This drink is thick, creamy, and refreshing.  Serve with a spoon so your guests can mix the drink, giving it a layered and marbled look.

“Zombie eye punch”
Pull out the stems of 10 cups of cherries, and insert a chocolate chip in each cherry.  These will represent your zombie eyes.  Add all of the zombie eyes into the bottom of a punch bowl.  Combine three cups of ginger ale, 10 cups of cherry cola, five cups of red fruit juice concentrate, and three cups of pineapple juice.
Chill and serve.

“The Vampire Bite”
In a large pitcher, combine two cups of cranberry juice, half-a-cup of apple juice, and a quarter-cup of grenadine.  Top it off with two cups of seltzer water.

Squeeze one tube of red candy gel on a plate.  Rim the edges of four low-ball glasses and pour the prepared drink evenly into the glasses.  Garnish with gummy vampire teeth and serve immediately.

How to be a Great Party Guest

The summer season tends to mean more socializing, especially in the form of backyard parties and BBQs. Before you head to the next event on your social calendar, why not brush up on your guest etiquette?Follow our suggestions to make sure you have a good time – and are invited back!

The Importance of RSVP’ing

RSVP – short for “Répondez, s’il vous plait” – means to “please respond.”  It is your invitation to let them know whether or not you plan on attending their function.  Not replying to an RSVP can be interpreted as rude as they’re busy planning the amount of food to serve to guests, party supplies, drinks, etc.  By withholding your RSVP, you’re preventing the host or hostess from accurately preparing for the function.

Being a Timely Guest

Party hosts often need to time out food service so that hors d’oeuvres are fresh and ready just when the guests are arriving.  Being on-time is crucial – you don’t want to arrive late.  You don’t want to add extra stress on the cook of having to keep the food warm.   Plus, if you arrive early, simply mingle with the other party guests.

Bring a Gift for the Host

Taking a bottle of sparkling wine or a few pre-mixed cocktails would be great choices for the host or hostess.  For more creative and fun host gift ideas, take a look at our feature, here.

Be Prepared to “Schmooze”

As the saying goes, don’t be a party pooper.  Prepare yourself by thinking of a few easy conversation topics – recent movies, funny work stories and recent news are great starting points.  Remember to avoid controversial topics like religion and politics.

Eat/Drink Responsibly

Don’t arrive at the party with an empty stomach.  You don’t want to arrive ready to devour everything in sight.  As a rule of thumb, when it comes to drinks, only grab two – a party with an intoxicated person is never fun.

Help with the Clean Up

Once the dinner party is done, offer to help clean up.  If someone has gone to the effort of cooking a delicious meal, they shouldn’t have to do the dishes, too.  Step in, and offer to assist – even if they protest against it.

Write a Thank You Note

Finally, remember to write a kind thank you note to the host or hostess for inviting you to their party.

What guest tips do you have?  Sound off in the comments below!

Repost from Cityline.ca

Non-Alcoholic Drink Ideas

Party without the “buzz”!  Mocktails, or mock cocktails, are beverages that do not contain alcohol.  They’re ideal for entertaining the entire family, and are a great alternative for party guests who prefer to not drink alcohol.

Lifestyle expert Shoana Jensen shared a few of her secrets when it comes to creating the ultimate mocktail:

1. Make sure your mocktails are served in a fun glass.Don’t give just the drinkers the fancy glass – the mocktails drinkers are a big part of the party, too.

2. Plan ahead for the people who don’t want to consume alcohol. Find a great signature drink for them to enjoy that’s just as festive as the other cocktails that you are serving your guests. Everyone should feel like a special guest at your function.

3. Don’t forget to have a great garnish for the mocktails!

4. Make sure that you have lots of water available for everyone to drink – especially during the summertime, when it’s hot out.

Mocktail Inspiration Ideas:

A limeade is the perfect, thirst-quenching drink on a hot summer day.  Mix some freshly-squeezed lime juice, a few sprigs of mint, cane sugar, and sparkling water for a quick-and-easy backyard refreshment.

If you love sangrias, substitute wine with seltzer water and grape juice frozen concentrate; and mix in thinly-sliced apples, sectioned orange segments, cranberries, grapes, and other seasonal fruit that you may have on-hand.

Shirley Temple is a classic beverage that you can put your own spin to.  Mix lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, grenadine, and a maraschino cherry for garnish.  For your own twist, add some orange juice for a zesty citrus flavor.

A banana smoothie is an easy way to entertain the whole family on a hot, Sunday afternoon.  Chances are you have all of the ingredients in your kitchen!  Blend 2 cups of vanilla yogurt, sliced bananas, ½ cup of honey, a dash of vanilla extract, and ice.

Next time you’re celebrating a birthday, consider making mock champagne.  Mix some ginger ale, pineapple juice, and one bottle of sparkling white grape juice for the perfect drink to toast to up at the cottage this summer.

Mojitos are another great thirst quencher.  To make them alcohol-free, combine club soda, lime juice, mint leaves, and simple syrup.  Garnish on top with a lime slice, and for an added twist, include lime sherbet or sorbet to the mix.

For the tea lovers out there, try making a soda pop tea!  Steep your favourite loose-leaf tea (fruity teas work best), add agave nectar to taste, chill with ice, and top it off with sparkling water.

Finally, take a look at our delicious mocktail recipes from our previous shows:

–    Peach Fizz Mocktail
–    The Gentle Breeze
–    Paris Rose

Repost from Cityline.ca