5 Ways To Get Organized This Summer

Glorious warm weather, lounging by the pool, bike rides to the park, and picnics with the family. Summer is finally here! After a loooooong winter hunkered down inside, you know the time is right to give your home a freshening up.

But, you hesitate. For many, the prospect of cleaning can be daunting at the best times. This year, we’ve been spending more time at home—working in the spare room, pouring over schoolwork at the kitchen table, binge-watching TV, receiving online shopping deliveries, and preparing and eating every meal at home. This might just mean that you’re finding there is more “stuff” than usual to organize before your home can shake off its winter doldrums and let the sun shine in.

Here are 5 tips to de-clutter the house this Summer

The tips will not only get your home summer-ready, but they will help you put a plan in place to keep the clutter at bay all year round.

1. Look at the big picture

Every year, it’s helpful to evaluate if you are using your space the best way you can to meet your needs. Especially if you are experiencing any life transitions, maybe you need to change it up and reimagine your home. Are the kids needing more privacy or moving out soon? Are you working more at home? Are you entertaining less? Spending more social times outdoors? Maybe the spare room can be turned into an office, the formal dining room can be transformed into an area for games and puzzles. Could a much-needed desk—or painter’s easel or craft table—be tucked into an alcove? Perhaps some more formal work and “going-out” clothes and shoes can be stored (or given away) to create more closet space for household supplies (or comfy clothes!). Perhaps a room divider is needed to create private spaces. Pretend you are moving in to your house for the first time—how would you use the space?

Next, consider your biggest organizational problem areas. For example, does your front hall seem to attract clutter? Is your home office a magnet for paper? Do you have jam-packed junk drawers or cluttered, disorganized closets? Most individuals and families have organizational problem areas. Reflect (but don’t get bogged down!) on what those areas are, and write it down. Tackle those first: They will be the hardest, but getting them done will inspire you to keep going—the rest will be a breeze.

Also, this is the time to consider getting help—either from inspirational books or blogs on the joy of decluttering, or from professional organizers. Especially if you are experiencing a life transition, like kids moving out, expanding your outdoor living space or setting up a home office, an outside view (even if it’s just from a friend) can shed new light and be a source of fresh ideas.

If your “big picture” exercise above made you realize you need more storage, pick up baskets, containers or anything else you will need before starting in on summer organization.

2. Call in the team

When it comes to summer decluttering, there’s no reason to go it alone! Gather around the kitchen table and have a family meeting over lunch! Check out some Country Harvest™ sandwich recipes here for some further inspiration! Get everyone’s input and buy-in so they feel included. Ask which chores they prefer.

Country Harvest Tip 2 for Getting Organized - Mother and 3 children looking at a white board with chores

Schedule a big weekend organizing blitz—and plan to keep your place organized all year round (See how in our next tip). Ask youngsters what will help keep them motivated and on-track every week—A white board? A gold-star system? An allowance? Other rewards? Even smaller children will want to help and will have ideas for how they can best keep their rooms organized and their toys and belongings tucked away.

3. Get organized in 15-minute bursts

One reason our homes can become far-from-organized is because it can seem too time-consuming and, let’s face it, completely overwhelming to keep on top of the clutter. Besides, with the weather getting better, who wants to spend time inside tidying?

The 15-minute organizing plan is an all-year-round maintenance plan. And it works for your initial big clean, too. For your initial blitz, do all rooms over the course of the weekend. For this initial sweep, it might take longer than 15 minutes for your organizational problem areas. That’s OK! The idea is to get everything into shape this summer, so that all year round, you (and family members) will keep the house organized by doing 15-minute passes through just one or two rooms a day, covering all rooms every week. Simple.

After all, it’s usually easy to find 15 minutes, and it’s less daunting than planning an afternoon of cleaning. Plus, knowing you’ve only got 15 minutes makes you focus and stay on task.

How do you do it?

  • Gather a garbage bag, a recycling bin, and a catch-all container. (For your initial summer clean, you might want to add a bin for what you want to donate or give away.)
  • Set a timer. This helps you keep focused and on task, and ensures the task doesn’t expand to take more time.

For most rooms:

  • Pass through the room for items than don’t belong there and put them in your catch-all container.
  • Pick up any papers, catalogues or magazines that haven’t been used for a month or more and put them in the recycling bin. Throw away any unneeded non-recyclable items.
  • Straighten any books or other items on surfaces that need rearranging. (With books, consider whether you need to keep them. Libraries or shelters often take books.)
  • Return items from catch-all to where they belong. Or, place them all in a predetermined common area for family members to retrieve and put away.
  • Fold any blankets and straighten any pillows or cushions.
  • Organize remotes in one place and return them there. Unwind and tuck away any stray electronics cords and put away any electronics into their designated home.

For bedrooms and bathrooms: To the above, add a laundry hamper at the doorway to toss dirty clothes. Grab some hangers to hang up clean clothes.

For kitchens: Focus on countertops where out-of-place items seem to migrate. Open the fridge, toss what is out-of-date and put items in their proper storage area. In the pantry or cabinets, straighten items so cans, jars and spices are easy to quickly find.

For cleaning: Take the 15-minute approach to cleaning tasks, too. If you’re keeping the clutter under control, then vacuuming several rooms can easily be done in 15 minutes. Same with dusting or mopping the floor.

As you go about your 15-minute routine, establish that every item has a place, a spot in a drawer, on a shelf, in a cupboard. If an item keeps turning up in the wrong spot, maybe it needs a new home.

4. Take breaks and fuel and up!

Come cleaning weekend, make sure you are well-rested and have set aside the time you need. Turn on your favourite music and get moving! Keep energy and spirits high by taking breaks and fueling up with wholesome and healthy meals. It will keep you and any helpers energized and on-task.

Help seize the day with a hearty breakfast of avocado toast made with Country Harvest™ Ancient Grains topped with romaine lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, avocado and poached eggs. Delish. Or kick start the morning with your favourite slice of Country Harvest™ toast. Top it with spinach, scrambled eggs, tomato, goat cheese—and a drizzle of sriracha for a burst of flavour.

Do the troops need a reward for a job well-done? Layer Country Harvest™ Ancient Grains toast with natural peanut butter and banana slices dipped in dark chocolate for a delicious and wholesome sweet treat.

close us shot of two slices of Country Harvest Ancient Grain slices, spread with peanut butter and topped with dark chocolate dipped banana slices

Image credit to @Toastieee

For lunch, try a healthy bagel sandwich. Or, opt for our Veggie & Hummus Sandwich on our Sunflower, Flax and Hemp Country Harvest™ Grains+ Energy loaf. Here’s the recipe.

Veggie & Hummus Sandwich


1. Toast slice of loaf if desired.
2. Spread both slices with hummus, then layer on baby spinach, sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, and sliced carrots.
3. Slice sandwich in half and serve.

5. Don’t forget the outdoors

You’ll be spending a lot of time outside this summer. Whether you have an extensive back yard, a deck or a balcony, it’s an extension of your living space. Turn it into a low-stress, low-clutter oasis by giving it a summer tune up.

• Think ahead about how you will be using your outdoor space and organize accordingly. Keep everything you need for outdoor living close together. For example, keep garden tools and BBQ utensils in a shed or part of the garage. Keep a colourful container by the door for rubber boots or flipflops. Hang hats and tuck sunscreen, bug spray and citronella candles in a cupboard near the back door. Stash a blanket or two if you or your guests are planning on lingering outside in the evenings.

• Decide which dinnerware, glasses and cutlery can go outside and keep them together. Choose where any cushions that need to come in from the rain will be stashed for easy access.

• Survey your yard and patio (and shed and garage, if you have them) for clutter. Use a garbage bag and a recycling bin and decide to toss, recycle, repurpose or donate items in your yard: old hoses, toys, planters, pots, birdhouses, lighting, furniture, tools, rakes, etc. Get rid of any dead branches and rake up any leftover leaves.

• Sweep and wash down your walkways, deck, patio or balcony.

• Wash cushions for outdoor furniture and put them outside to dry. Wipe down your patio umbrella.

• Make sure yard equipment, like the lawn mower and garden tools, are tuned up, clean and ready for duty.

• Don’t forget the windows and sliding glass doors. Bring the outside in with crystal-clear windows. Wipe down window sills as well and dust and clean blinds, curtains and screens.

• Wipe down any other surfaces.

• Voila! You now have a clean slate to add some decorative plants and flowers and plan for a summer of outdoor living activities.





6 Ideas to Get Moving Outside this Summer

After a long winter, most of us are more than ready for some great outdoors. In fact, we probably really need it! Weight gain and increased stress levels have been common companions during the pandemic. But with the skies clearing up, temperatures rising and restrictions easing up, this summer can be something really special—especially if we commit to getting outside and making the best of what the long days and warm nights have to offer. While sometimes we resist doing activities that are different from our usual routines, it’s time to branch out!

So take a deep, cleansing breath: Here are some fresh ideas shake off the stress and any unhealthy habits and embrace a wholesome, delicious summer outdoors.

1. Yoga in the park (or your backyard)

Country Harvest Get Moving This Summer - Yoga in the Park

One of yoga’s (many) benefits is that it is good for both physical and mental health. Another is that it can literally be done anywhere. You may have noticed in your community, more and more people doing exercises outside in the park. The benefits are multifold: Your body gets moving, you breathe in the fresh air, you get the sun on your face, you feel the grass beneath your feet and you get that warm feeling of being a part of the community. You may even make new friends. Ask at community centres, or check out your local online community/city website.

When you leave the four walls of a studio, all of your senses wake up—scent, sight, and touch, in particular, activate parts of the brain that make you more present. If you want a quieter, more meditative experience, do yoga or meditate in the morning in your back yard or on a dock.

To get you going before heading out for some sun salutations, try the Country Harvest® Egg(less) Bagelwich, or try one of these 5 Quick Ways to Enjoy Your Bagel.

2. Start  a walking/running club

Country Harvest Get Moving This Summer - Start a running club

We all know that we stick to our exercise goals more if we are committed to an activity with a friend. So get your heart pumping by gathering a group of friends who, like you, want to boost their health this summer. Commit to going running or walking two to three times a week. Choose a meeting spot and decide to walk (or run) for a certain length of time. Each day, a different participant can choose a route. Many running clubs find that there can be one day during the week where the goal is to “just get it done,” and then one day on the weekend can be a run followed by some socializing. Whether you walk or run, on the more relaxed day, consider a potluck social in the park or in someone’s yard afterward. Each person can bring something— sandwiches, drinks, fruit, cookies or power bars.

Check out these recipes, made with wholesome ingredients, like Country Harvest® No Sugar Added 100% Whole Wheat loaf for some lunch ideas.

3. Make that a walking book/movie club

Either in tandem with a several-times-a-week walking club, or separately, why not create a book club or a TV/movie club to meet every two weeks? Instead of meeting over wine and hors d’oeuvres, walk and talk! It will engage your brain and steer you away from chatting about the news or day-to-day complaints and create a more dynamic, engaging interaction. Plan ahead what the topic will be—a book you are all reading, a TV show you’re binging on, or a new (or classic) movie you’ve all recently watched. To give it that book club feel, after your walk, stop in the park—under some trees or by a fountain, and have a picnic.

Need some hearty sandwich ideas? Try Chicken Cutlet Sandwich with Savoy Cabbage Slaw made with Country Harvest® No Sugar Added 100% Whole Wheat load, or Waldorf Chicken on Country Harvest® 14 Grains Bagels.

Country Harvest Chicken Cutlet Sandwich

4. Take news-free/social-free weekend time-outs

Here’s one you can do with your family. Make it a challenge you can all partake it. Plan to spend an entire weekend not checking the news nor checking any social media. Can you do it? It’s a challenge the whole family can get in to (OK, maybe some members will have to be bribed a bit). Put your phones away in a drawer and make a rule that they can be checked only once in the morning and once in the evening. Then get outside and enjoy the summer. Once you get over the feeling you’ve lost a limb, sweet freedom will wash over you. Breathe deep, and appreciate the slower pace, the lack of information cluttering your mind—and the stillness. As a family, you can take this time to sit around the back patio with a drink and talk—without anyone looking down at their phone. Or pack a picnic and take a hike or bike together.

Country Harvest Get Moving this Summer - Social Media Free WeekendsFor a family-pleasing bagel sandwich that goes for lunch or dinner, try our Open-Face Steak Bagel Sandwich with Parmesan Dressing, made with Country Harvest® Everything Bagels.
An open-face steak bagel sandwich on a plate sitting on a blue wooden table.

Country Harvest Steak Sandwich

5. Pick up a racket

Why not make this the summer you take up a new sport (or revisit an old favourite)? Racquet sports are a good bet: They provide a workout, allow you to build skills like reaction time, hand-eye coordination and strategy. They can also be very social and interactive (good for body and soul) and can be played by all ages. Tennis, for example is a sport that can be learned any time in life and can be played well into your senior years. There are many public courts or outdoor tennis clubs that are inexpensive and also have some hours that are open to the public. Ask about lessons.
Country Harvest Get Moving This Summer - Pick Up a RacketPickleball is a similar racket sport that is gaining popularity, and courts are popping up in many cities. Pickleball is a paddleball sport that combines elements of badminton, ping pong, and tennis. It creates less strain on the body and involves less cardio, but still gives you a workout. It’s usually played in doubles. Badminton is more versatile as you can set up a badminton net at the park or in your backyard. Another option is ping pong. Many parks have stone ping pong tables set up. Grab the family or some friends, and bring your own balls and mallets, and head to the park for a little tournament.

Bring a cooler of drinks and some sandwiches for a lunch or picnic. Or, before heading out, enjoy a special breakfast featuring Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast, made with Country Harves® No Sugar Added White with Whole Grains loaf.

Country Harvest PB Stuffed French Toast

6. Get out on the water

Studies show that being by the water slows down our heart rate and reduces stress hormones, boosting our mental health. Sold! And luckily, many of Canada’s cities and towns are situated on the water or near the water. So even if you don’t have a vacation planned or access to a cottage, you can get out on the water to reap the many benefits. While sometimes we resist doing something different even if it is in our own backyard (or neighbouring town), we don’t get around to doing it. Let this summer be different.

If you prefer to stay on land, just walking by the water has its benefits. Stroll on the beach or beside a stream and look for wildlife or rocks and shells with a child, grandchild or best friend. Wake up your senses with a swim in bracing lake water or ocean waves. Paddle boarding is another sport that is gaining popularity for all ages. Rent a paddle board for an hour and head out into the stillness of the water. It’s easier than you think! Or, for a true, get-away-from-it-all experience, get out on a boat. Rent a kayak or canoe: Rowing is a great upper body work-out and like swimming, is low-impact and easy on the knees and other joints. Or, take a break and sit back on a guided tour boat if they are running in your town. Go it alone, if you want to drift along in your own thoughts, or invite others for a relaxing and social experience that will leave you invigorated, relaxed and feeling healthy.
Smiling girl woman with sunglasses holding a paddle while in a yellow canoe and a man in another canoe behind her.

Country Harvest Get Moving This Summer - Get out on the water

For delicious summer recipes to have before your outdoor activities or to bring along for a picnic, check out our recipes Recipes.



4 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

When you’re already dealing with hundreds of other things like getting the kids to and from school, managing a full work day, ordering your groceries online and folding what can feel like endless piles of laundry, finding ways to make healthier meals for the kids can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that you’re not alone and coming up better meal choices for the kids is something that many parents continue to deal with (no matter how old they get!). Here’s some even better news! We have 5 great tips to help you bring some more vegetables and grains to the table that even your picky eaters are sure to love.

4 Ways to Serve the Kids Better Options at Mealtime

1.  Food Should Be Fun!

So, when you think healthy you may think piling up plates with boiled vegetables or serving up finger friendly vegetables raw. But mealtime can be a lot of fun with some small and quick changes to your meal plan.

A great way to present vegetables (cooked or raw) to the kids is with kebab skewers. They are simple to make and can be made with anything that you have in the fridge from broccoli to carrots to cauliflower and more. If you’re cooking up a stir fry for yourself, you can chop up some extra veggies and store them in the fridge to help save some time as well. Make it even more engaging for the kids by letting them create their skewer.

As well as being a great addition to dinner meals, skewers are also great for snack time or lunchtime and can be changed up with fruits, cold cuts, and small pieces of your favourite Country Harvest™ bread, loaf or bagels.

You can also add a bit of fun to meal time with games. Try assigning points to certain vegetables like 2 points for broccoli and 3 for corn. Then when they’ve completed their meal and their points they can use them towards a dessert! While every meal shouldn’t have a game or reward attached to it, this may be a great way to help kids try new vegetables that they otherwise may turn their nose up to.

2. Get Saucy

Remember ketchup? As a kid (and even now) you may have added it to everything from fries to eggs to macaroni and cheese or more! Sauces are a great way to mask some of the flavours that kids may not yet be ready for in vegetables as well as provide another way to hide some actual vegetables! A soft steamed carrot may not be as exciting as a crunchy baby carrot with a yummy dip. Broccoli on its own can definitely lack luster but what if it was accompanied by some melted cheese? Pasta is always a kid favourite but with just plain tomato sauce, it can be hard to amplify with more vegetables. That’s when it’s time to get out the blender or your food processor! Boil or sauté some vegetables, mix them in with your sauce and blend until it’s the right texture for your pasta dish. Not only will they enjoy one of their favourite meals but you’re sure to feel super accomplished as you watch them gobble up tons of healthy vegetables along the way.

3. Smoothies

Time for that blender or food processor to come out again! A great way to get some goodness into the kids, and yourself for that matter, are with easy to make smoothies. They take minutes to make, can include all their favourite flavours and mask some added vegetables or fruits that you want to include as well. Smoothies are also an easy way to have the kids participate in the kitchen by having them choose their ingredients, adding them in and watching their creations come to life!

These are an easy travel snack when you’re bringing them home from school or running to a quick appointment and a super-fast way to get tons of great nutrients into their bellies without having to sit at the table and watch until they’ve chewed every last bite down.

If you’re looking to save even more time, grab some frozen fruits and vegetables on your next trip to the grocery store or prep the night before so that everything is ready to go the next day.

Try this easy smoothie recipe.

½ cup of orange juice
½ cup of vanilla yogurt
¼ cup steamed carrots
2-3 spinach leaves
¼ cup of strawberries (or blueberries)

Simply add all the ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve in a cup with a reusable straw, serve in a bowl topped with granola or yes, even sprinkles if they create the excitement you need.

4. Who’s Ready for Soup?

Making homemade soups are a fast way to get meals on the table as well as get the kids to enjoy some additional vegetables for the day.  If your kids are a bit older and enjoy chunkier soups with more texture, you can simply add a range of chopped vegetables to your chicken noodle soup.  If you need to make something a little smoother then pureed soups are the answer!  From butternut squash to mushroom, broccoli or carrot, the options are truly endless. Complete the meal with slices of Country Harvest™ No Sugar Added White with Whole Grains, toasted with garlic spread to give them something hearty to dip into their soups as well.

Check out these other great recipes for you to enjoy alongside your soup creations.

Getting anyone to try something new can be challenging so try not to get too discouraged if your little ones continue to refuse certain vegetables during meal time.  Remember to consistently try and introduce new foods, change them up and talk about what they like or don’t like to help you find something better suited for their current tastes!  Over time you may be surprised as they begin asking for their new favourite vegetables to become part of meal time.


5 Quick Ways to Enjoy Your Bagel

What’s not to love about a bagel?  It’s fun, it’s filling and it can be enjoyed sweet or savoury any time of day.  Whether you like your bagels warm or toasted, for breakfast, snack, lunch or dinner, here are 5 delicious ideas to enjoy your next bagel.

Fast Recipes Featuring the Bagel

You know what they say-“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  While toasting up your favourite bagel and topping it with butter or cream cheese may be a go to for most, breakfasts this easy to make Egg (less) Salad Bagelwich is a great way to bring some more substance to your morning meal.  While we love this recipe with tofu in place of eggs, you can easily substitute out the tofu for scrambled eggs and still enjoy a hearty breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Check out the full recipe here featuring the Country Harvest™ Everything Bagel.


Lunchtime can always feel a bit rushed especially if you’re still working from home and the kids are e-learning.  Once their meal is ready to go you may find yourself with just a few minutes left before your next call.  The good news is that this Waldorf Chicken Salad Bagel recipe is quick enough to still ensure that you have a healthy meal that doesn’t consist of finishing off the kids’ leftovers or diving into a bag of chips!

Get ahead of the game and prepare your chicken salad the night before making it super quick to pile it on top of your perfectly toasted Country Harvest™ 14 Grains Bagel before rushing back to your computer.

Check out the full recipe here.


If you’re in the mood for a light lunch that still packs a punch try adding some fresh ingredients to a Country Harvest™ 14 Grains Bagel.  Simple additions like chickpeas, spinach, peppers and avocado on top of your toasted bagel can provide a wholesome and filling lunch without spending tons of time in the kitchen.

Close up shot of Country Harvest 14 Grain Bagel topped with chickpeas, spinach leaves, red onion and slices of red peppers

Grilling season is around the corner but heading to your local steakhouse for an afternoon lunch on the patio may still be something you’re not ready for.  No worries, this light yet filling open-face steakhouse bagel sandwich is sure to set the mood from your own backyard.  Featuring the Country Harvest™ Everything Bagel, this lunch time bagel recipe is a great option for the whole family.

Check out the full recipe here.


The list wouldn’t be complete without something sweet to top your bagel!  Not only is this a great breakfast option but makes for an indulgent snack for you and the kids.  Adapt this snack-time favourite made on Country Harvest™ Ancient Grains and natural peanut butter by substituting in Country Harvest™ Whole Wheat Sesame bagel or even the Country Harvest™ Flax and Quinoa bagel. Simply melt milk or dark chocolate and dip cut up slices of ripe bananas before setting to dry on parchment paper.  Once you’re ready toast up your bagel, top with natural peanut butter and top with as many chocolate covered banana slices as you want before diving into this delicious treat.

Image credit to Instagram user @tostieee