Throwback Thursday!

Happy New Year’s Eve EC Montreal friends!  This week’s Throwback Thursday is of our annual New Year’s Resolutions activity.  This activity set the tone for the entire month of January at EC Montreal.  As many of you know, every month, EC Montreal had a different theme and all of our complimentary activities would reflect that theme.  The theme in January was called New Year’s Resolutions.  We would ask all our students to write down what their new year promises were and to place the snowflakes on the windows in the student lounge.  We would then take the most popular resolutions and create activities and events around those promises.  This would ensure that we would kick off the new year in a very positive way helping our students to keep their resolutions. We would look forward to this New Year’s resolutions activity every year.  It would create such wonderful conversations among the students and it became a great ice breaker for students to get to know one another.  It also helped students bond through their shared interests.  We would have refreshments like hot chocolate and cookies available for students so they would hang around, chatting and enjoying the treats. This was always the main purpose of our complimentary activities; giving our students these wonderful opportunities to interact with one another, making friends, practicing the language and having fun! Among the most common resolutions were eating healthy, getting more exercise, learning something new, saving money and taking more risks.  The complimentary activities that followed always included a healthy lunch day, workouts, self-defence classes and motivational workshops. Although this year has been so very challenging given the pandemic, we can still focus on the positive things in our lives and focus on what promises we can make to ensure that 2021 is a … Read more

Recipe of the Week!

It’s the last week of December which means we are going to be welcoming a new year in a few days.  Like many people, we are happy to say farewell to the year 2020!  It has been the most difficult year we have endured.  One silver lining this year has been the quality time we have spent with our families.  With so many restrictions like restaurants and other entertainment facilities being closed, we have had to find a way to really enjoy our homes.  We have spent a lot of time in the kitchen and in the living room playing board games and watching television.  One of the things that we had never allowed before was eating in the living room, but all those rules were thrown out the window as we adjusted to this new normal.  We would prepare picnic lunches and dinners and enjoy them sitting around the coffee table and watching our favourite movies and shows. When we come in from the cold after enjoying a winter sport like sledding or skating, what we crave the most is hot soup.  One of our favourites is minestrone soup.  It has so many wonderful and healthy ingredients as well as soft and comforting noodles.  For my version of minestrone soup, you will need the following ingredients: • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 1 large yellow onion, chopped • 2  carrots, peeled and chopped • 2 celery stalks, chopped • 1/2 cup tomato paste • 2 cups chopped potatoes • 4 cloves garlic, minced • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano • 1 large can of diced tomatoes, with their liquid • 4 cups of vegetable broth • 2 cups water • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt • 2 bay leaves • Pinch of red pepper flakes • Freshly ground black … Read more

A Winter Wonderland at Parc Jean Drapeau!

The winter sports will include ice skating, sledding and cross country skiing. There will also be free skiing lessons available.  If you are into fat bike, there will be trails across the island for people to enjoy a ride. This winter wonderland on Parc Jean Drapeau will be open until March 7, 2021.  You can access the park by public transportation.  You need to take the yellow line to Parc Jean Drapeau when you change lines at Berri Uqam metro station. While you are on the island you can check out the Biosphere and take a photo in front of one of the most Instagrammable spots in Montreal!  You can also walk around the Formula 1 circuit.  The casino is closed but you can take pictures of the beautiful building and the very impressive grounds. We will be promoting this winter wonderland to our EC Montreal students so they can get a magical taste of Montreal! Please remember to wear a mask on public transportation and even outdoors if you feel you cannot be socially distant from others.  These type of events and tourist attractions attract big crowds.  Please also make sure you dress appropriately for the weather.  A trick to stay warm is to make sure you keep your extremities warm; wear a warm hat, mittens or gloves and water and weatherproof boots.

Recipe of the Week!

I am busy working on my Christmas cookie gift boxes and have one more cookie to bake to add to the mix. These cookies are so colourful and delicious. What I like most about them is that they are not too sweet. The recipe I am delighted to share with you is my jam thumbprint cookies. You can use any flavor of jam you prefer or use a variety to make the presentation even more colourful. I have even added hazelnut spread and honey cinnamon to them and they turned out beautifully. For my version of Jam Thumbprints, you will need the following ingredients: 1, ¾ cups of flour ½ teaspoon of magic baking powder 1, ½ sticks of butter ½ cup of brown sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon of vanilla Jam for filling Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line the baking sheets with wax paper. In a bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in an egg and vanilla and next add the dry ingredients. Form into small balls and press the center with your thumb before placing it on the sheet. Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden, approximately 12 minutes. Cool on a baking sheet and then add the jam in the tiny holes. I cannot wait to add these cookies to the Christmas boxes and distribute them to all my friends, family and colleagues. I hope you will give this easy recipe a try. I will add this recipe to the Microsoft Teams group page. Happy Holidays from all of us at EC Montreal!

Twelve Montreal Gift Suggestions!

If you are lucky enough to be spending the holidays in magical Montreal, you will want to give yourself and those you love special gifts from Montreal!  Montreal has so many one of a kind shops and great boutiques where you can buy the most exciting gifts.  Here are our suggestions for twelve gifts of Montreal Christmas gifts:  A traditional bouche de Noel from Patisserie Premiere Moisson.  Premiere Moisson is a true Quebecois pastry shop and they serve authentic French and Quebecois sweets and ready to eat holiday meals. A bag of Montreal bagels from St. Viateur or Fairmount bagels.  Montreal bagels are like no other.  They are award winning, delicious and highly addictive.  Buy a bag and take them back home with you if you are going home for the holidays. A Montreal Canadiens Hockey jersey.  Hockey is a religion in Montreal and there is no better souvenir than the red and blue team shirt. A package of Swartz’s smoked meat.  You can find it in any major grocery store or you can line up on St. Lawrence street and get it hot from the restaurant.  Be prepared to wait in line for a while, but it is totally worth it! A bottle of maple syrup liquor from the SAQ.  There is nothing more festive and Canadian than this sweet and strong maple drink.  It makes a beautiful Canadian souvenir to take back with you.  Buy two, because you will want one all to yourself. A Christmas ornament from Noel Eternelle, Montreal’s all year Christmas boutique.  They have ornaments that you can personalize or ones that have beautiful Montreal images.  These ornaments make the perfect festive souvenir! Oka cheese is made right here in Quebec.  It is delicious and pairs beautifully with fruit and of course, wine.  It has … Read more

Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday is of our annual Christmas letter writing activity.  It is always such a huge hit!  We would set up each table in the student lounge with stationary, postcards, Christmas cards, stickers and envelopes and encourage our students to send messages to their friends and loved ones back home.  The postage was always courtesy of EC Montreal!  It was our Christmas present to our students.  The first time we held this activity, we were not sure how the students would react this this event.  We were so pleasantly surprised to see them so into it!  I have to admit, every time we held this activity, we had to show our students how to address an envelope.  They never wrote a handwritten letter or card. They took their time decorating their letters and cards with stickers and some even kissed the envelopes before putting it in our EC baskets.  When the activity was over, we would stamp every item and place them in the mail box.  It would warm our hearts knowing there were so many greetings and messages of love being sent to all over the world from EC Montreal! We cannot wait to resume these type of activities when the time is right!  Until then, we will get together virtually before or after our EC virtual English or EC Montreal French lessons.  There are so many wonderful Happy Hour events and holiday online events we look forward to organizing! Seasons Greetings from our EC Montreal family!

Recipe of the Week!

Christmas is only three weeks away and we are starting to prepare our holiday treats.  Every year, I like to prepare a variety of festive treats for family, friends and colleagues.  I place them in a decorative Christmas box and use beautiful ribbon.  Every treat is prepared with lots of care.  I look forward to my holiday baking every year and this year, my little elves are old enough to be helpful and they will really enjoy icing the cookies, adding sprinkles and decorating the boxes. I already shared many of my favourite Christmas treats like chocolate covered marshmallows, peanut butter kiss cookies and peanut butter snowballs.  Another really easy and colourful Christmas treat is the chocolate fudge wreaths.  I can’t take credit for this recipe, I learned it from Rachel Ray.  She advertises it as her 5-minute fudge.  It really does take 5 minutes and tastes exactly like fudge you find in a candy shop.  I make it every Christmas and it is always a really bit hit.  I hope you will give it a try.  Like most of my favourite recipes, you don’t need many ingredients.  For this recipe, you will need: 1 package of milk chocolate chips 3./4 package of butterscotch chips 1 can of condensed milk 1 teaspoon of vanilla 1 cup of chopped walnuts 1 cup of candied cherries (red and green) halved cooking spray or softened butter to grease the pan Place the chips and milk in a saucepan on medium heat.  When the chocolate is melted add the vanilla and walnuts.  Wrap the can of milk in cling-wrap paper and place it in the centre of a round, greased pan.  Pour the chocolate evenly around the can and quickly place the cherries before the chocolate hardens.  Place the pan in the refrigerator to … Read more

Giving Back!

Every year, EC Montreal holds a food and toy drive for the Sun Youth organization.  They distribute food, toiletries and toys to the less fortunate families in Montreal.  This year, more than ever, Sun Youth was in need of donations.  There are more and more families struggling because of the pandemic.  Many have lost their jobs this year and the businesses and schools that would donate to Sun Youth in previous years have closed down or are unable to give this year. In previous years, EC Montreal held classroom competitions giving a pizza lunch to the class that donated the most items.  This year, we were unable to hold such events.  Instead, we decided to simply ask our team and students for donations and informed Sun Youth that we were doing what we could.  They were so appreciative and said that every little bit helped. We are so proud of our EC community!  We managed to fill six large boxes with toys, toiletries, food items and Christmas treats in less than one week’s time!  The Sun Youth pick up service arrived this morning and took them away to the Sun Youth warehouse where they will be sorted and used to create baskets for the needy. Giving back is a very important part of our culture at EC!  We hold several fundraisers throughout the year, volunteer at the Shriner’s Hospital as well as celebrate Earth Day, Pink Shirt Day and International Women’s Day!  It is so important for us to give our students the opportunity to feel like they are a part of the Montreal community.  We are also able to form very strong bonds by working together as an entire EC community towards set goals. Our next fundraising effort will be for the Shriner’s Hospital.  Every year we hold a … Read more

Korean Street Food Right in Front of EC Montreal!

EC Montreal’s neighbourhood just got a little more exciting!  We learned this week that a new Korean street food hot dog restaurant opened up right in front of the school!  It is called Chung Chun Rice Dog and it has locations all over the world!  They now have a restaurant in all three of EC’s Canadian destinations; Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. They serve fried hot dogs on a stick that are coated in a variety of batters and different toppings.  They have ramen noodles, rise crisps, potato flakes and breadcrumbs.  They have a variety of hot dogs mixed with mozzarella cheese. On their first day, there was a line up around the corner for a taste of this really interesting looking hot dog on a stick. The neighbourhood is really coming to life with the Japanese cheesecake shop that opened a couple of years ago and the new pizza place called Slice and Soda that looks really cool and funky! We can’t wait to give these interesting Korean hot dogs a try, but perhaps it is best to wait until the line ups die down.  Our EC Montreal students are going to be so excited to discover a new eatery in Montreal that is fun, delicious and budget friendly! Montreal’s food scene just keeps getting better and better!  Come join us at EC Montreal and get a taste of this food lover’s paradise!  Second to New York City, we have the most restaurants per capita and truly reflects the multi-cultural make up of our city.  You will find different types of cuisines and styles.  Dining rooms in Montreal are currently closed due to the pandemic, however, most are still open offering take out and delivery options.  Some of the best restaurants in Montreal, called Garde Manger owned by celebrity chef, … Read more

Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday are images of one of our favourite events at EC Montreal; our annual charity bake sale.  This year would have been our 17th annual bake sale for the Shriner’s Hospital.  The entire EC community would work for weeks in advance to pull off a very successful event!  We would ask staff, teachers, homestays and other partners to donate baked goods or raffle prizes to our event.  We would sell cellophane bags for $5 and students could fill them up to their heart’s…or stomach’s content!  In addition, we would sell coffee, tea and hot chocolate as well as raffle tickets.  We would have incredible donated prizes from staff and vendors like hotels, restaurants and shops. One of the best fundraising efforts came from our students who sold lottery tickets for the 50/50 raffle.  50% of the pot would be won by a student and the other 50% would be added to the donations to the Shriner’s Hospital.  Most winning students end up donating their winnings. We would set up our baked goods outside the elevators and we would happily sell treats until all the trays are empty.  We would even get all the other tenants in the buildings to buy treats as well. When all the donation boxes were counted, we would always have a very impressive amount of money to donate to the hospital.  If we didn’t reach our goal, EC would top it off for us.  Giving back is a very important element of our culture at EC.  Getting our students involved in our local charitable events is such a great way for our students to feel like they are part of the Montreal community. The Shriner’s Hospital would invite us to present the donation check and would give our students a tour of the … Read more