Deck the Halls – Part 5 Last Minute Gift Giving Guide

Tis the season for giving but this doesn’t mean that you need to break into a sweat just thinking about finding a spot in the mall parking lot, or that your charge card has been used so much that the magnetic stripe is wearing off! We told you we would take special care of you this Christmas and we won’t disappoint! And so, seeing that there are approximately 10 days until Christmas, it is time to address any last minute gifts and we have you covered. You may not even have to leave the comfort of your own home, and you may not have to dread your impending credit card bill! I know what you are thinking, “it’s a Christmas miracle!”

Follow our step by step guide to great gift giving and a stress free, ‘more pennies in the piggy bank’ start to 2013…

Step 1 – Get organized!!!

There is nothing worse than what I like to call ‘present panic’! You see people in the mall who have it; they are running around buying everything in sight regardless of price, or worse, if the recipient of said gifts will even enjoy them, which is the entire point of giving, to bring joy! Do us a favour, before you frantically hop in the car and circle the parking lot for at least 30mins, which puts you in a Scrooge frame of mind and not ideal for gift shopping, take 10 mins and do this one simple thing…..MAKE A LIST!!!

Make a list of who you have gifts for, who you have partial gifts for, who you have no gifts for and set a budget!!! Also, before you start running around like a madman, come up with some ideas for said gifts! Next, have a method to your madness, don’t zigzag across the mall, start at one end and pop into places as you go along. Better yet, bring a spouse, friend, someone who owes you a big favour (this is good one to cash it in on, we promise) and divide and conquer! But before you jump in your car and contemplate parking illegally after said 30 min parking spot search try the following…..

Step 2 – Shop online!

The past few years this has truly been Christmas’ gift to me! Honestly, pretty much every store that you are going to frequent at the mall will have a website which you can order from. And, if you have followed from Step 1 and organized yourself before hopping online, it will be that much easier! The great thing is that many websites will provide free shipping if you spend a certain dollar amount, talk about doing you a favour! Now, this doesn’t mean spend an extra $30 to save $5 on shipping but it does mean to see if there are a number of gifts that you can purchase from one place. Another bonus is that some online stores will gift wrap and ship your item to whomever it is you need to send it to!
A few of my go-to sites in the online department are:
Chapters Indigo – Trust me they are way more than just books, you will find all sorts of neat things for everyone on your list! Check for coupons and use your rewards club card if you have it, even more savings!
Amazon – Again, a great site that has a pretty good array of gift giving goodies. Check to see if your items qualify for free shipping!
Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic – Do yourself a favour and sign up for their emails, they usually send out some sort of sale/coupon almost every day between the three of them! Plus the shipping and handling are great; I recently purchased a number of items that came in a nice box to my door with pre-paid shipping stickers and a return sheet if I needed to send anything back. Double bonus!

Step 3 – Mall Shopping Tips (these can save your sanity)

1. Go early, preferably on a weekday – The malls are packed on the weekend, this isn’t news to anyone. If you can spare it take a day off, or even a half day, through the week and get it all done at once. It is kind of like ripping off a Band-Aid, the thought is painful but you are always happy when it is quickly over.
2. Leave your jacket in the car – About 5 mins in you will be too hot and then it is just another massive thing to carry.
3. Wear comfortable shoes -This is a marathon, not a sprint. Santa doesn’t care if you bought Lego in 5 inch stilettos or flip flops. Do yourself a favour and keep the barking dogs at bay!
4. Eat, Drink and Be Merry – Christmas shopping is like a sport, a marathon so to speak as mentioned in tip #3. Be sure to go well fed, nothing good will come of plummeting glucose levels, trust me from personal experience. Also, if you have room, bring a bottle of water and keep yourself hydrated. This may not seem like a concern but it will definitely help you throughout the day. Lastly, be merry. Who do you think is likely to get the last Angry Birds game, the person treating the sales associate with kindness or disrespect? Think of how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes dealing with hundreds of last minutes shoppers every day and, tis the season!
5. Bring your own bags – Give a gift to Mother Nature this Christmas, less bags, packaging, etc., to cart to the dump on Dec. 26th. Not only is bringing your own bag good for the environment, some stores will donate the price of what a bag would have cost to a local charity!

Step 4 – Think before you buy

The holidays are the perfect time to share gifts and enjoy each other’s company, but before you do all of your holiday shopping take a minute to think of who you are buying for and what they would like. Gift giving doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of money, or perhaps in some cases none at all. Below are some alternative ideas to ponder over before you bust out the ribbons and wrap…

1. A charitable donation (time, money, or items) – Many of us more blessed than most in the world, even in our city. Perhaps donating time with a friend or family member is something that might resonate with them. Or, perhaps directing the money you would have spent on them towards a donation of some sort would make them feel good as well as allow others to benefit. Maybe you might even want someone to do this for you instead of a traditional gift, help them out and let them know.
2. An experience – Is there something that you know someone has always wanted to do, why not make that the gift? Go cross country skiiing for an afternoon, hike in the mountains and take a picnic, take a cooking class, etc. Creating a memory is a gift that continues to give.
3. A homemade gift – Do you have a special talent that you can share with those you love? Are you an excellent cook, baker, mixed CD maker, master crafter, dog whisperer, photographer, etc.? Create a gift or give a coupon for your expertise and encourage the receiver to make plans to use it!

Step 5 – Solid stand-byes

Even with the best of intentions sometimes we are just stumped and time starts to run out. Not to worry, below is a short list of good go-to items that you can pick up in a flash and won’t break the bank.
1. A classic board game – For about $30 you can pick up Monopoly, Scrabble, Pictionary, the list goes on. Not only is it a gift that someone can keep and use for years, but in the techy world we live in sometimes it is nice to turn off the TV and spend a little family time the old fashioned way.
2. A magazine subscription – This is one of my personal favourites, it is the gift that gives all year long! Many magazine have very reasonable rates (approximately $15-$25 per year), so think of what that special someone likes and find a magazine that corresponds. This falls into something you can do online as well!
3. A household item – With the chilly winters out this way, warm up your loved ones with a variety of cold weather friendly gifts such as an iconic Hudson Bay fleece throw (approx $40), a great pine scented candle to light while watching some of the Christmas movies featured in our last few posts, a nice picture frame with a recent photo of you and your family or pets in it, a great olive oil and balsamic vinegar duo, etc., the possibilities are endless!
4. Gift cards – Although some may think this is a bit of cheat, I disagree. If you know that someone loves a restaurant, music, books, etc., then this is a great gift to give as they will get exactly what they want and will appreciate that you know what sort of things that they like. Also, gift cards are great for items that you know people may want to buy but are out of your price range. For example, your brother needs a new computer but it is out of your price range; get him a gift card to the electronics store that you know he is wanting to buy it from and add a nice note in your Christmas card to say that you wanted to help him get one step closer to bringing it home.

So there you have it, our Christmas gift giving survival kit! We hope that it helps you though the last few weeks of the holidays and allows you to have that warm fuzzy feeling inside when you are giving your gifts knowing that others will genuinely enjoy them. Best of luck and we will see you next week!

Happy holidays and enjoy the weekend!

Deck the Halls – Part 4 The Christmas Cookie Chapter!

It’s truly one of the best parts of the holidays…fresh baked cookies!!! Don’t pretend like the big guy in the red suit is the only one who has an affinity for them; you have to have Herculean will not to succumb to the tasty treats of the season (at least that is what I say to make myself feel better)!

And who better to share an irresistible Christmas cookie recipe then our own master of the culinary domain, jolly Chef Doug (just look at his team picture, he’s a teddy bear)! When sending me the recipe Chef told me that, “this was a recipe I made every Christmas with my mother when I was young.” If that doesn’t qualify as certified Christmas culinary success, a tried and true favourite recipe from a Chef, then I don’t know what does.

Elegant, yet simple, tasty, yet easy, this is the perfect cookie to add to your baking repetoire this year!

Thanks Chef Doug for sharing this gift with us to enjoy with our friends and family this holiday season.

Almond Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
8 oz almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour, not sifted

Baking Instructions
1) Cream together butter and almond paste in large bowl. Add in sugar, be sure to scrape the sides of bowl making sure the mixture is a smooth texture.
2) Add the egg into the mixture.
3) Gradually add flour until dough comes together, be careful not to over mix!
4) Dough can be shaped into a log, chilled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices, or dough can be rolled out on a lightly floured table to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into festive shapes and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, paint with a thin coat of egg white tinted with food colouring.
5) Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes. Bottom of cookies should be pale brown; the tops of cookies should not take on much colour.
6) Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Take in the sights and sounds of the season and enjoy the weekend!

Deck the Halls – Part 3

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer….Santa Claus is Coming to Town…Silent Night?

Miracle on 34th Street…It’s a Wonderful Life…The Grinch?

With so many songs and movies to get us in the holiday spirit we wanted to find out some of our team’s favourites and share them with you.  This week’s blog post is all about enjoying some time at home with friends and family, and curling up by the fire with your favourite tunes or dose of Christmas cheer on the silver screen.  We are happy to share our top picks with you, feel free to send yours to us on Twitter @TheCrossingGR!

The Crossing’s Top Christmas Song Picks:

3 votes – Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer
2 votes – Little Drummer Boy
2 votes – Silent Night
1 vote – Six White Boomers
1 vote – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
1 vote – O Holy Night

The Crossing’s Top Christmas Movie Picks:

2 votes – Miracle on 34th Street
2 votes – Elf
2 votes – The Grinch
2 votes – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
1 vote –  A Christmas Carol
1 vote –  It’s a Wonderful Life

Stay tuned next week as we bring you more holiday cheer.

Check out our mascot, isn’t she adorable!  We couldn’t get her in our holiday staff picture (coming soon) but she was too cute to not get a feature of her own!

Have a safe and happy weekend!  Get out and play in the snow!


Deck the Halls – Part 2

As promised, we have been “Decking The Halls” at The Crossing and now we have a few photos to prove it!  The team has been very busy, as you can see, and the entire place is looking and feeling magical!  Right from the moment you step out of your car, twinkle lights galore illuminate your path to the festive entrance way.  On the main floor of Remington House alone you will find three beautifully adorned Christmas trees which are just the tip of the festive iceberg!

The holidays are always a special time at The Crossing and this year we are very excited to be welcoming back our friend, and photographer, Tracy Connery this upcoming Tuesday!  Her keen eye and feel for the magic in the air will do the entire place justice and properly show off The Crossing in all of its’ holiday splendour (note the photos in this post are only teasers taken today with an iPhone and, although lovely, we know that Tracy’s will really show them up).

Over the next few weeks as we all make our naughty and nice lists, visit with friends and family, brave the local malls, trim the tree, and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, keep checking in with us on the blog, Facebook and Twitter as we continue to post recipes, gift ideas, favourite holiday songs, etc., everything to, “make the Yuletide gay, from now on your troubles will be far away,”…you see where we are going with this right?  So join us everyday to see what we have in store to make your holidays even brighter!

Early Season’s Greetings and a Happy Weekend!


Deck The Halls – Part 1

It is hard to believe that Christmas is less than 40 days away…yes, we just started the countdown, scary as that is!  The holidays will be upon us before we know it!  This upcoming week at The Crossing we’re getting our ‘decorate on’ and turning it into a beautifully cozy Christmas wonderland!  Over the next few weeks we will share pictures from around The Crossing showcasing all things ‘merry and bright’!

We realize that the holidays can sometimes be busy and leaving us feeling a little frazzled, so in addition to beautiful photographs we will be sharing some sure-fire ways to relax and really take in this special time of year with those near and dear to us.  From our favourite holiday songs to compile the perfect playlist, to no fuss entertaining recipes, we have you in mind as the countdown to Kris Kringle continues.

Trust us on our first holiday suggestion below, it may seem daunting at first but the payoff is worth it…

Holiday Homework Assignment #1

The first step is getting in the Christmas spirit, and what says Christmas more than lights?  So, head out to the garage and pull out that tangled ball of luminosity, aka Christmas lights!  Commence in spending the next half hour untangling it, then the next half hour replacing bulbs so that the entire strand lights up, and then proceed with caution hanging them indoors and out.  Then, go back inside and open a nice bottle of red, pour a glass, switch on the gas fireplace, and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour;)  See, we told you it would be worth it!

We have your best holiday interests at heart, so stick with us and we promise not only to get you through the season, but to enjoy yourself while you are doing it.  The holidays are a time for giving and for being thankful.  We are so thankful to have you, our guests, friends, and family and look forward to giving you all that we can for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013!

Happy early holidays and enjoy the weekend!

What’s the Holiday Season without a Party?

We may not have even hit Halloween yet, but the truth is the holiday season is just around the corner!  Any planner worth their checklist will tell you that you need to book in advance otherwise the pickin’s for venues become pretty slim!  Now, we realize that many of you probably have this all lined up but for those don’t, and likely can’t believe that we are closing in on the end of October, fear not, The Crossing just may be able to help.

With our holidays menus hot off the press, our boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations just a few weeks from going on display, Christmastime at The Crossing is one of the highlights of the year!  If your team has been working hard and you want to show them how much you appreciate them, there is no better way then a relaxing overnight event with us.  A winter wonderland with all the sights and smells of the season paired with our country-home feel, everyone will be sure to start the holidays off right.

Chef Doug and his team have created a special sensational seasonal menu to reflect this joyous time of year.  Please take a moment to review all of the good things that await you this holiday season at The Crossing!

Enjoy the weekend!








Social Media Butterfly

Over the past two years, well almost two years now, since our team acquired The Crossing we have had the opportunity to work on a variety of great projects to upgrade and enhance the already wonderful ‘experience’.  From new bedding, new roofs, new decks, new railings….do you see a pattern…we have enjoyed every minute of growing and improving and have considered ourselves lucky to have such a great platform to start from!

One thing that is completely new to The Crossing in the past year has been social media and we are absolutely loving being part of that world.  At first we weren’t really sure what to expect, we knew we needed to be swimming in that pond but didn’t realize how much of an effect it would have on us or what an opportunity it would provide us to create a little community!  Over the past several months social media has not only allowed us to make friends, swap ideas, learn, and generate business but more importantly it has allowed us to engage with others on a daily basis about things that we feel are important!

You will notice that our Twitter and Facebook pages are more about day to day life then what we ‘technically’ are providing onsite ie. meetings, conferencing accommodations, excellent meals, etc., but just as there is more to life than work, there is more to The Crossing then only business.  The Crossing is more than just a location to have meetings and retreats, it is a place that promotes connection which is exactly what social media allow us to do, ‘connect’. We are a place that promotes healthy lifestyles, balance, finding passions, and learning new things!  Social media has allowed us to expand on what we have built on our website and in our brand and allow us to share all of these great things with you, every single day!

In our community we say the more the merrier, and so we hope that you will join our online community by checking out our weekly blog, or catching up with us on Facebook or Twitter.  From topics ranging on how to beat wrist aches from being at the computer too long (I think most of us can relate), to business articles that we feel might help our corporate clients, and even to what to do with left behind mason jars or muffin tins, we have something for everyone!  Not to mention this is a great place to stay up to date with the latest happenings at The Crossing.

So, if you have a few spare minutes this weekend while you are having your morning coffee, come and check out our community at: and

Happy reading and enjoy the weekend!

Much to be thankful for…Happy Thanksgiving!

Whatever it may be that makes you happy we hope that you take a few moments this weekend to take a deep breath, reflect, smile, and say “Thank you”.  It doesn’t matter who you are thanking in particular, perhaps it is a spouse who has put on a great dinner spread, your kids who, although you just finished raking the leaves, have decided to jump in them and made you join, maybe it is even your boss who sent you home early for a little extra family time, or it might simply be giving a respectful nod to recognize Mother Nature and how fortunate we are to live in a beautiful bountiful country. However and to whomever you want to, please take a moment to say thank you for the large or small positives in your life.

We, at The Crossing, want to thank our family, friends, colleagues, guests, neighbours and everyone who has made the last year and a half a possible.  The Crossing is a special place that we are so thankful to have in our lives.  It is truly a wonderful experience to watch the effect that it has on those who visit.  A large part of this has to to with the amazing staff who make everyone feel ‘at home’, and especially to Mother Nature who has given us such a magnificent gem to steward and share.

Many thanks to all of you and may you enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving weekend!

Flavours of Fall

As the golden days of summer shorten into the crisp rustic coloured days of fall one thing is for certain at The Crossing, the cuisine just keeps getting better and better. And, what perfect timing to introduce a new irresistible menu then to start prepping ourselves with that extra winter layer, Albertan’s you know what we are talking about. When it is -40 having a little additional ‘insulation’ never seems to garner many complaints.

Chef Doug and his team have done it again! They have created a circus for the senses; wild rice fritters, sour cherry rosemary sauce, dauphinoise potatoes, Madeira reduction, and to think these are only the side shows, not even the main event! With the smells and colours of fall all around, an inspiring batch of tasty root vegetables, members of the onion family, and everyone’s favourites, well ours at least, potatoes, done up every which way possible, it is hard to pick just one dish to devour!

If it isn’t obvious already, this week’s blog post focuses on our new fall dinner menu. Take a moment to read through and see what dishes you think your group would enjoy the most. We dare you to not daydream about sharing these great meals with your team in our cozy dining room beside a crackling fire while the wind whips through the river valley scattering gold and rust coloured leaves around like fall confetti….see we knew you couldn’t do it!

 Enjoy the weekend!

The Photo Whisperer

Rolling hills back lit by a burnt orange sky, sunlight streaming into antique adorned guestrooms, gourmet dishes so life-like you can taste them, the perfect mid-conversation laugh that encapsulates the essence of being at The Crossing…all of these images and so many more were created by our good friend and photographer Tracy Connery of Tracy Connery Photography.  Light-hearted, not afraid to get a little dirty and with good sense of humour, we knew we would hire her from the get-go!

Finding just the right person to shoot The Crossing can be compared to finding just the right person to take the first photographs of your first born because that is precisely what The Crossing is to all of us, ‘our baby’.  Therefore, everything had to be perfect; we had to find the right person to see all of the beauty and special qualities that we could see and then coax out the extra ‘smiles, coos, and giggles’ that we knew were hiding in there just waiting to be found.  After viewing Tracy’s photography we knew that she was our gal, she definitely had that “something special”!

It is a challenge being a remote location; people can’t just pop in for a visit as they are walking to the store or strolling to a meeting.  It was crucial for us to have the right images that capture the true nature of The Crossing so that when people visit our website or look through our marketing brochure that not only could they ‘see’ The Crossing, but more importantly that they could ‘feel’ it too.  Needless to say we have not been disappointed and Tracy’s photographs have truly been able to bring ‘our baby’ to life!

Clearly Tracy is very talented and we have enjoyed having her out throughout the year to capture The Crossing in all its natural seasonal glory.  We are looking forward to having her seize the holiday spirit as our team “Decks the Halls” this winter!  If you are interested in learning more about Tracy and her talents feel free to visit her at .  Also, The Crossing is a great backdrop for corporate portraits or fantastic souvenirs from a team building retreat.  We would be happy to help arrange Tracy to come out and capture your team at work and play!

Enjoy the weekend!