This fall, I’m excited to get back into the kitchen. I’m calling it my FunFoodieFall… although, “Awesome Autumn Eats” was a close second. I’ve got the two best sous chefs around (hubby and munchkin) and I’ve planned out some delicious weekend fun. I kicked off my fun foodie fall last weekend with a homemade pumpkin pie.
See ya’ Smokey, Sweaty Summer
I found myself complaining on the sweltering hot days this summer that all the heat was interfering with my desire to cook up some homemade delights. There was no way we were turning our oven on, yet all I wanted was some fresh made bread, a roast chicken, and then to make soup from the chicken bones. With FunFoodieFall as the next season it means we are getting ready to say goodbye to Smokey Sweaty Summer.
Fall is My Favourite Season
Fall has always been my favourite season, which goes back to my days of running cross-country through the crunchy leaves. Starting a new routine in September feels natural to me and each weekend until December 17, I’ll be whipping something up in the kitchen to celebrate FunFoodieFall.
We’re big into NFL and College football (go Buckeyes!) and from the kitchen I have a perfect view of the TV. I don’t feel I am being overly ambitious since I already know I’m going to be at home most weekends and have the time to conquer this fun challenge.
Enough with the suspense, here’s what I’m going to be making all fall long as part of my FunFoodieFall:
New Finger Licking (NFL) Snacks
Pasta from Scratch
Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Bake Pies (Apple and Pumpkin)
Make and freeze Lasagnas
Homemade Ramen Broth
Prepare a Ghoulish feast for Halloween
Perfect my Olive Garden Copy Cat Zuppa Tuscana
Brine a Turkey
Meatballs in Homemade Sauce
Homemade Buckeye Chocolates
Bake Artisan Bread
Host a Christmas Cookie Baking Party
Macaroni and Cheese
These are all of my favourite foods to eat during fall. Some will be much easier than others to prepare so I won’t be slaving away for hours each weekend. The soups on the list all have simple prep and then all the hard work and flavours occur during hours of simmering on the stove.
I think I’ll be heading over to Pinterest to get some ideas for some of these FunFoodieFall ideas and themes. I’ve never made buckeye chocolates or a ghoulish feast before.
My Weekend Festivals and Local Fun blog posts are my favourite part of Wednesdays and today I’m sharing about (1) RecycleFest and (2) Ice Cream.
Weekend Festival: RecycleFest at Trout Lake Park on Saturday, July 22
Local Fun: Go for ice cream as a family!
While completely different activities for you to participate in this weekend, both are fantastically family oriented.
RecycleFest is a local festival taking place at Trout Lake Park (Vancouver) on Saturday, July 22 from 10am to 3pm. The main purpose of this family-fun event is to drop off any of old or unwanted small appliances and power tools so they can be recycled properly. However, this good-for-the-earth event is also good for families as it features:
Hot dog BBQ (good if you miss National Hot Dog Day on July 19).
Games and prizes.
RecycleFest caught my eye because it starts in the morning, meaning you could check it out before toddler nap-time.
I also like that it supports a cause I believe in. I’m already teaching my toddler how to recycle. She knows we separate our waste and she takes yogurt containers to our blue bin for me.
Another perk of RecycleFest is that it fulfills a need. I seem to replace my hairdryer every couple years and I have a stack that I need to recycle – finally an easy opportunity to get these unwanted hairdryers out of my house.
I apologize, if you read my Summer Bucket List Check In post then you’ll know I still haven’t gone out for ice cream this summer. If you get your ice cream in a cone then there’s no container to waste and you can keep with the reduce, reuse, recycle theme.
At the end of May my husband and I made a summer bucket list. Now that we are almost a full month into summer, I thought I’d check-in and see how I was progressing with the summer bucket list. I am keen to accomplish our list, which is why I have our summer bucket list on the fridge. I see it multiple times a day – even more now that my freezer is [more like “was”] filled with my grandmas famous cookies!
My Summer Bucket List
Below is my status update on our summer bucket list. Hopefully you can find some good ideas from the list and make some fun summer memories with your family.
Go to Local Lakes
Living in beautiful BC we have no shortage of lakes within an hour or two of our house. We haven’t made a trip to the lake yet, but this year we want to try out Whonnock Lake, Alouette, or Rolley. I’ve picked these three lakes because I’ve never been to them in summer. Each lake has its perks – Whonnock has a playground and canoe rentals. Alouette is a hidden gem, which I knew nothing about until I saw the breathtaking photos by Cradled Creations photography – after seeing those pics it will get added to your list as well! Lastly, Rolley is a lake I used to run cross country at in the fall and it has a beautiful loop around the lake for exploring.
We know our toddler won’t be up for hours of swimming or wading so we’ve got shovels, buckets, and beach balls ready for when we make our post-nap trip to the lake.
Hubby out for Bike Rides (for Fitness)
Since I have my running routine in place we put this on the bucket list to make it a priority. Summer is best for biking and my husband has a speedy road bike that is collecting dust in the garage. As much as he wants to get out and ride, our weekends are pretty full with family time and this isn’t meant to be a ride in the park. It’s for him to get exercise and cover 30 plus kilometres.
Mommy (me) Do the Grouse Grind
My husband and I began dating in the fall after we spent the summer leading up to it doing the Grouse Grind once a week. Once we started dating we stopped hiking to the tops of mountains on a weekly basis. I love the sense of accomplishment I have after finishing the Grouse Grind. The view at the top ain’t too shabby. Since the trail is fairly rugged its not safe to carry the munchkin in the carrier on our back. My husband and munchkin can have a morning together and I’ll go do the Grind. Still need to pick a date and go! Interested in joining?
Go to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)
The PNE is comparable to a state fair. We’ve taken our munchkin every year since she was born. They have livestock barns where you can see horses, chickens, goats, and agility bunnies. We take in a show (e.g., horse show or super dogs), eat some fair food (e.g., mini donuts), and see the sights. One of our close friends has always joined us and I think we all look forward to saying goodbye to summer at the PNE.
Go Kayaking or Canoeing
Before I had my daughter, my husband and I would take our moms kayaking once a year. Now that our munchkin is two, I think she’d enjoy a canoe ride. Ocean kayaking with a toddler seems crazy, but canoeing seems like a fun outing. However, my munchkin has no fear of water. This means I’m nearly positive that she’ll jump out of the canoe, but with life-jackets on all of us that should be ok.
Host a Canada Day BBQ
Finally something I’ve accomplished on my bucket list!! We had neighbours and friends over for a simple BBQ. I think hosting a Canada Day BBQ may become a family tradition.
Backyard Pool Fun
I found a great inflatable pool and we’ve been enjoying it for weeks now. Another item to cross off my summer bucket list. If you’re looking for more information, I recently blogged about maximizing backyard fun – more than just a dip in the kiddie pool.
Family Bike Rides
We are keeping up our family bike rides that I spoke about in an earlier blog post. As long as the munchkin has a snack, she is happy.
Go for Ice Cream
Last summer I have no recollection of paying a visit to an ice cream parlour for a cone. I’m a huge ice cream fan and while my freezer is fully stocked, I still enjoy a trip to the ice cream parlour. Ice cream and a leisurely stroll go together like stained glass and churches! My in-laws live in South Surrey so you might see us in White Rock, enjoying a double scoop cone.
Cook a Low Country Boil
I found out about the low country boil a few years back in a food magazine. My husband’s birthday is coming up next week so I should give it a try. While I haven’t made one yet, I know that my low country boil will feature red potatoes, corn on the cob, crab, shrimp, sausage (i.e., kielbasa), and Parallel 49 beer!
My grandma and I are a jamming duo when summer raspberries are ripe. The munchkin enjoys homemade (no sugar added) raspberry freezer jam on whole grain toast every weekday for breakfast so we go through a lot of jam. I prefer to can my jam and stock my pantry with it. I only saw local raspberries for sale last week so in another couple weeks I’ll start jamming!
I’m going to make a jam gift for the munchkin’s daycare instructors. I’ll write out “thanks for being so sweet” and share a jar of jam as thank you for taking care of the munchkin. I’ll share more on this in a future post.
This is one of the last things we’ll do in summer as the apples aren’t ripe yet. Last August we went picking at the orchard the first weekend it opened and I got to enjoy some new varieties, such as gravenstein apples!
Camp in the Backyard
This was on the list because my nieces were here a few weeks back. Unfortunately it rained most of their time here so no camping. I’ll put this back on the summer bucket list when the munchkin is older.
What’s on your summer bucket list? Leave a comment in the comments section below.
There’s no way I’d be where I am today if it wasn’t for my loving, supportive husband, Tom. Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. In light of this, I’m sharing 7 low key and low cost ways to celebrate your wedding anniversary. When my husband and I get each other gifts we tend to go big. However, we don’t celebrate all occasions with gifts. Most of our wedding anniversaries have been spent apart due to work so we focus more on acknowledging our anniversary through small things.
1. Make a Nice Dinner on the Weekend
Weeknights are insane for us. We don’t have time for a weeknight date so plan to prepare a nice dinner on the closest Saturday or Sunday. Yesterday we enjoyed a nice BBQ’d meal with our daughter. The dinner was ribs, corn on the cob, asparagus, and french bread. The meal is far from fancy, but we both love ribs and rarely find the time to make them.
2. Go for an Evening Stroll
You can do this with your spouse or bring the kids along for a walk in your neighbourhood. You can get your kids’ scooters, bikes, strollers, and all head out for an evening stroll.
3. Enjoy a Dessert Together
I’m guilty of falling into the sofa with an ice cream bar and watching one of our Netflix shows. Instead of putting on the television, enjoy your dessert just the two of you. We have a small front porch and summer evenings are the perfect time for us to sit on it and catch up on each others day. Tonight you’ll find us sitting on the patio indulging in ice cream and sharing a laugh.
4. Swap Household Chores
While this doesn’t scream romance, it does show that you care. My husband always cleans the kitchen while I go and water the plants and run a load of laundry. Switching up the housework, which needs to get done, anniversary or not, can be a small, subtle act of kindness.
5. Cut Back & Relax
My husband and I are normally busy doing yardwork or more stringent house cleaning while our daughter naps on weekends. Give yourself permission to cut back on the bigger tasks. Number 4 above reflects on the housework that can’t be skipped, but this is the stuff that is nice to do, but not necessary to be done (e.g., dusting the blinds, scrubbing the shower tiles, weeding the back garden that nobody can see). On Sunday we napped while the toddler napped and my body is thanking me for that extra bit of sleep.
6. Send a Thoughtful Text
I’m sure you’re texting your spouse throughout the day, but this text should be one that’s more thoughtful. Think of something small that your spouse did and send them a text thanking them. Or sneak a chocolate bar into their lunch bag and text them to see if they found it yet.
7. Renew Your Vows… while folding socks
I’m not a sappy person so a vow renewal has almost zero chance in my future. That said, I believe in my wedding vows and take care in honouring them. Reflect on your vows and how you chose a vow and not a promise that can be easily broken. You can do this without putting on your wedding gown and inviting people over to witness it. Tonight we’ll renew our vows as we fold the never ending pile of laundry.
Happy Wednesday to all! Each Wednesday, I highlight a festival and local fun from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley. This week’s festival is the Abbotsford Berry Festival on Saturday, July 8. As for local fun, I’m highlightingthe simplicity of a family bike ride.
Abbotsford Berry Festival
New this year, the Abbotsford Berry Festival is a ONE day event happening Saturday, July 8 from 9am to 9pm in downtown Abbotsford. I grew up in Abbotsford and this wasn’t a big deal to attend. However, in recent years, the downtown has been revitalized. Walking down Montrose Avenue you encounter coffee shops, home decor collectives, baby boutiques, and restaurants. We drove out to the Abbotsford Berry Festival (or BerryFest, for the cool kids) last year with my then 1 year old. It was the perfect excuse to drive the 25 minutes from Langley to visit our favourite baby store [Precious Kargo], buy raspberries and strawberries, and eat some good food as we walked down the streets. We even got to see a horse and a police car – pretty big deal for an afternoon out. This isn’t the PNE or state fair so there is a chance of boredom, but if you are looking to get out of the house and have a nice afternoon then I suggest you head to the Abbotsford Berry Festival.
3 Things to Know at the Abbotsford Berry Festival
Admission is free!
Just mosey down the road into the heart of the festival. The web info is limited, but in the past the centre of the festival was Montrose Avenue and Essendene Avenue and one block out in each direction from here.
The Ferris Wheel and Berry-Go-Round are $2 per person per ride.
What they lack in rides, they make up for in subsidized ride tickets! My little family can ride the Ferris Wheel for $6.
Plan to stop for a snack a long the way.
Food trucks will be in attendance (I hear there’s RAMEN!) and the local coffee shops also offer delicious baked goods.
Local Fun: Family Bike Rides
One hand-me-down baby item that I knew I’d come to love, was the bike trailer attachment for my Chariot Double Cheetah running stroller. We have been enjoying a slower pace on weekends and morning bike rides are becoming the norm. We rented bikes last summer and setting up the bike trailer was a time consuming, pain in the butt. In order to make family bike rides a hassle-free experience we made space in our garage so that I can put my bike away and leave the bike trailer attached to my bike. Now we can go for spontaneous bike rides.
We’ve been exploring Willoughby and even throwing the Munchkin’s scooter into the pouch on my bike trailer. We can then ride to an elementary school and let our Munchkin out of the trailer to practice on her scooter or play on the playground. I find giving her a toy or two helps keep her interested in our bike rides. I also stop to look at ducks in ponds, or to see puppies and we are constantly in dialogue while we ride. Give it a try and please share with me how your family bike riding goes.
Keeping with the fitness theme this week, I’m tackling toddler recreation options in this blog post. Even before I had my daughter (the Munchkin), I wanted to be the family that was physically active together. Recognizing that I have a toddler and not a teen, I still strive to keep active as a family. We might not be rollerblading the roads now, but we still manage to have fun and stay active as a family.
My 3 Tips forToddler Recreation:
Participate in community sports.
Try out lots of different activities.
Don’t gender stereotype sports.
Baby & Toddler Swimming
The Munchkin made her first trip to the pool at 6 weeks old and we were keen to enroll her for her first swim lesson at 6 months old. She has continued to progress through swim lessons, even repeating levels in order to not go half a year between lessons. Next month she starts a new swim level, which is 3 toddlers and 1 instructor – no parent participation!
Toddler Recreation Programs: Active Start
Our municipality offers “Active Start” sporting classes for toddlers as young as 18 months, with a requirement for parent participation. The classes are cheap, no more than $6 to $8 per class and classes range from 4 weeks to 8 weeks in duration. I enjoy our Saturday morning sports classes and our post sports coffee and donut stops. The Munchkin’s grandparents come out to her sports classes and each week they say they can see changes and improvements in her development (not just in sports, but language and growth as well). I like to put my running shoes on and go play with my Munchkin and I wish I had time to do that every day.
When the Munchkin was almost 18 months we put her in soccer, which was hilarious. I was surprised at how much flak I got from people about putting my 2 year old in sports. People told me it was ridiculous, a waste of money, and that it was just too soon. One person said I should take my kid to the park and bring a ball for her to kick without the need for a class.
Perhaps they didn’t realize that I wasn’t putting the Munchkin in sports so that she’d be the next Christine Sinclair, although I did post that exact comment on my Instagram. I wanted the Munchkin to have fun interacting with a new person of authority (i.e., the coach), play with other kids, and kick a ball around outside. There are no teams, they don’t even scrimmage so there’s nobody keeping score of anything – trust me, we’re not THOSE parents!
After soccer we tried gymnastics. The great part of gymnastics was the Munchkin learned new skills, like jumping and rolling. We also enjoyed meeting the other families and getting to play in a big indoor space during our terribly cold winter.
We recently wrapped up “multi-sport”, which was an outdoor class that involved kicking balls, throwing balls, and running. Tom Brady better watch himself because the Munchkin was getting pretty good at throwing a football. And by “pretty good” I mean, there was absolutely no spiral and she’d often drop the football backwards mid-throw.
Our daycare is teaching the Munchkin some yoga or as the Munchkin calls it, “stretching”. Daily, the Munchkin stops what she is doing and announces that she’s stretching. She then proceeds to go into down dog pose where she flows into three legged down dog. I’ve taught her down dog to plank and then baby cobra and up-dog. She cracks me up with her daily yoga routine and she even assists me as I do my head-stands.
The Munchkin is sporty, but she’s also a thief! Whenever our neighbours garage is open, the Munchkin finds her way into the neighbours garage to their son’s old plastic golf clubs. She takes them out and plays with them. She seems to have learned that a golf club is different from a baseball bat since she swings the club at balls on the ground. While the other kids ride their bikes, she’s happy to stay back and work on her golf swing.
After working 60 hour work weeks for a few weeks this fall I had some mom guilt. I tried to buy my way out of it with a pair of ice skates for the Munchkin. We took her to the rink and she enjoyed walking in the skates, but was really uncertain when she got on the ice. I think there’s a reason there weren’t any toddler skating classes until they are over two!
Don’t Gender Stereotype Sports
The Munchkin was the only girl of 12 in her soccer class. In gymnastics, the girls outnumbered the boys 4:1. In multi-sport there was 1 other girl that attended half the classes and the rest of the class was boys. While I recognize enrollment is low for these toddler sports, I’m still annoyed at these gender stereotypes of sports.
There aren’t girl sports and boy sports and I’d have assumed parents of my generation would know that. I read all the course descriptions and was surprised at some of the activities. For instance, rhythmic gymnastics focused coordination and agility while working with balls and hoops – perfect for a future football player and not restricted for the girliest of girlie-girls.
This weekend is going to be a great long weekend with Canada Day falling on Saturday. I’m getting excited to wear my red and white and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
This week, I’m highlighting Canada Day at Canada Place and for local fun, the Langley Canada Day JRBQ at Willoughby Community Park. There is no shortage of listings and directories online to view all of the Canada Day events from Vancouver to the valley. CTV has a comprehensive event listing here, which even has an interactive map.
Canada Day at Canada Place
This is a 2 day festival (Saturday and Sunday) taking place in the heart of downtown in Jack Poole Plaza and surrounding streets. Lots of info can be found online and I won’t reiterate it. However, I should emphasize that the “Kids Zone” hours are 1 PM to 4:40 PM on Saturday, whereas the main celebration begins at 9:45 AM with a Welcome Ceremony and concludes with fireworks 13 hours later.
Below are my 3 tips to make Canada Day at Canada Place a success:
Take public transit because parking is difficult and expensive.
If you are on the North Shore take the Seabus and if you are in the suburbs take Skytrain (and/or the bus to the Skytrain)
Bring snacks if you have little ones or if you hate line ups.
Vancouver is expensive and a few snacks thrown into a knapsack will go a long way. My go to snacks are: crackers, bananas, apples, and cucumber slices. If I’m desperate I bring pouches for my 2 year old. Food trucks, while tasty, are never cheap.
It could also be a long day away from home as festivities are planned from morning until the fireworks late in the evening. Pace yourself!
Take a time out.
I like to take a pause in Coal Harbour and sit on the grass. If you take the steps west of Jack Pool Plaza and walk the seawall you’ll come to a grassy area where you can chill out. This is where we’ve eaten dinner on Canada Day before. Most noteworthy was when we stopped at Save On Foods near Olympic Village Station, bought a roast chicken dinner and hopped on the Canada Line down to Canada Place. A $12 dinner with a million dollar view!
Langley Canada Day JRBQ
This Saturday you can celebrate Canada Day without having to travel far. I was sold when I heard the Kids Zone would have inflatables, trains, and crafts. For more info check out this map of the festivities.
This event takes place at Willoughby Community Park. It begins at 11 AM and goes until 6 PM.
Happy Birthday Canada!
I hope you have an extra special Canada Day this year.
Happy Wednesday to all! Each Wednesday, I highlight a festival and local fun from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley. This week’s festival is the first event in the 2017 McBurney Plaza Summer Series in downtown Langley. As for local fun, I’m highlighting Campbell Valley Regional Park.
McBurney Plaza Summer Series: Science in the Plaza
This event takes place in downtown Langley at McBurney Plaza from 12 to 3 PM on Saturday, June 24. Science World is taking to the road and will be doing live science shows at 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30pm. Last week I took my 2 year old and nieces (9 and 11) to Science World and all three kiddos were surprisingly engaged watching the science shows. Get ready for occasional explosions, exploring electricity, and imploding marshmallows.
In addition to the shows, there are the spot activities, make and take science areas, and a discovery tent.
My 3 tips at McBurney Plaza:
Arrive early to find parking and get your kiddos seated for the science show.
There are some coffee shops and ice cream places along Fraser Hwy so plan to get a treat for you and one for the kids after.
This event is suitable for a stroller, if you require one.
As a high-schooler, I ran cross country through Campbell Valley and I always loved how immersed in nature you’d feel. This week I took my nieces and 2 year old to the park for a walk. We enter the parking lot off of 16th Avenue (between 208 and 200 St), which takes us to the start of the Little River Loop. Detailed map can be found here.
The Little River Loop is a 2.2 kilometre trail on compact, crushed rock and over a few wooden boardwalks. Not all of these boardwalks have railings and while the fall off would be short, you’ll want to keep little ones close.
I opted for my baby carrier (the Ergo still fits my toddler on my back) instead of the stroller. The main reason I didn’t bring the stroller was I didn’t want a dirty stroller in my vehicle.
Be prepared for birds and squirrels galore! I’m far from a bird watcher, but it was amazing to see the different colour birds around us. The kids loved running along the trail and searching for the biggest trees. We measured the size of the trees by our ability to hold hands and hug the tree. Pack a snack and enjoy some time with nature and your kiddos!
For more information on fun in Langley, check out my Local: Langley page.
Every Wednesday I’ll be updating you on some local fun from Langley to Vancouver, BC. I live in Langley and I’m finding it a great place for my little family. We always find lots of fun on the weekends without having to drive far. This weekends highlighted festival is: Italian Day on the Drive. Local fun this weekend are the spray parks in the Township of Langley.
Italian Day on the Drive
This Sunday, June 11, is a favourite festival of ours: Italian Day on the Drive [Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC]. I’ll admit that since having our daughter in 2015 we haven’t made it to Italian Day on the Drive. While there are four different stages all featuring entertainment, the main draw for attending is to eat.
This event is always crowded so I’d suggest using a baby carrier instead of a stroller. Think crowded like Disneyland crowds, but without the convenience of stroller parking. Since the weather isn’t supposed to be sunny and hot this may help ease the crowds.
Below are my three must do things for Italian Day on the Drive in Vancouver in chronological order. Hours are 12pm to 8pm.
1. Take Public Transit to Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Arrive via Skytrain. It will be less than 1 hour from Carvolth Exchange in Langley and shorter from Surrey Skytrain stations. You’ll want to exit at Commercial Drive station and walk north up Commercial Drive. The event starts at N. Grandview Highway and goes up Commercial to Venables. Most of the fun will be up between 3rd Avenue and Charles Street.
2. Get a BBQ’d Italian Sausage from the First Ravioli Store
This is located at 3rd Avenue (SE corner). Throughout the year we buy fresh pasta from First Ravioli Store, but at Italian Day on the Drive we always stop here for a delicious BBQ’d Italian sausage in a bun. My husband loves that they have marinated eggplant in their condiments selection, which we now copy at home for our upscale hot dog nights!
3. Espresso and Pizza from Abruzzo Cafe
Six blocks up from the First Ravioli Store you’ll have covered a lot of ground and probably watched a performance or two on the stages. This is where you go for an espresso and a slice of pizza. You won’t be disappointed and your kids will love the pizza! Rest your legs at a table – there’s a back room with additional seating for watching televised soccer games. Now you’ll be ready to conquer the Drive back to the Skytrain station.
Be sure to check out the Spray Parks in the Township of Langley. Since the two Township of Langley outdoor pools have yet to open up the spray parks are a great place to cool off. And unlike outdoor pools, they are free! Spray parks are running daily from 10am to 8:30pm when the forecasted temperature is 18 degrees Celsius or higher for that day. The Township of Langley has five spray parks to choose from, with the Willoughby Community Park being my favourite. You can find out more at my Local: Langley page.