Monday, December 9, 2013
Please excuse my super late post this morning- but it is snowing and the snow is sticking! Downtown Vancouver this is a major weather event- we live only a few blocks from the ocean and so while most of the upper levels of this fair city will get a dusting or two of snow a year we rarely do. So it was with great excitement that Miss Lo and I set out to wander Gastown for a bit this morning- I am just as excited as my Littles- then again I don't drive!
Gastown is a magical place regardless of time of year but there is something so very special about seeing our neighbourhood receiving a fresh coat of snow- mostly untouched- the historical brick buildings catching the snow on their ledges. The first day it snows downtown every person passing us by has a smile on their faces- it is the most perfect of Christmas magic with the lights, trees and now snow!
It has been so cold here- which I know will make many of my friends and family across Canada laugh- but it has been cold! The snow today sort of makes up for the crisp, freezing cold weather- almost like a bit of a reward! I know it is fleeting and is barely sticking around now- so if you need us today we will be outside- catching snowflakes on our tongues and trying to make a snowball!
Friday, December 6, 2013
In our family we love Christmas- but for us the best part about the whole day has always been about the stockings. My sister and I loved to get up early and dive into our stockings before breakfast- and we still do- our parents have always done really good stocking- that's where the good stuff like packs of gum and candy were to be found! So it is with this fond childhood memory of thoughtful goodies stuffed down into the toes of our stockings that I am turning my thoughts towards my own children's Christmas stockings- as well as their boots- which will be put out tonight for St. Nicolas of course!
Trying to be mindful of what we bring into our home while still providing the Littles with the goodies they crave can be challenging- so I thought I would share my list of favourite stocking stuffers for the Littles- although I feel like almost anyone would enjoy any number of these treats! I'm keeping it simple as per usual- but simple doesn't mean thoughtless- a great deal of thought goes into keeping things simple!
- small edible goodies- this seems like a no-brainer but keep it local- hit the Farmer's Market for some yummy, sustainable chocolates, beef jerky or peperoni- or cave aged Greyer- cause who doesn't like cheese in their stocking!
- small pots of honey, jams or Nutella- yumm and perfect to eat immediately with breakfast!
- art supplies- a fresh pack of soy crayons, glue sticks, fancy pencil sharpener- tape- OK this might be a bit weird but The Boy is getting a roll of his own masking tape in his stocking- he is really into building stuff right now and keeps stealing my tape- so he's getting his own!
- colouring books and other creative activity books- our favourites are from a local company called Draw Me A Lion- this year they have come out with a DIY flag book- so fun!
- socks- this is my Mom's tradition- we always get socks in our stockings
- seeds! Visit your local gardening centre and pick up some seeds to start in the window come March- we like Strathcona 1890 Urban Seeds or West Coast Seeds- keeping an eye out for Heritage, non- GMO seeds is key!
- beads- OK the parents may not like this but I don't know a gal who doesn't enjoy getting some new beads to make beautiful jewelry with!
- of course we always have a traditional orange in the toe
- books- we read chapter books as a family together and these fit nicely into stockings- this year Jacob Two Two and the Hooded Fang is going into the Boy's stocking!
- Hair pretties- new elastics, hair clips or hair bands are always good
- a tin mug for camping- hot chocolate packs snug inside- tea would also be good
These are just some of my most recent ideas of what might go into our Little's stockings and boots- realistically there will also probably be Lego and stickers- but I think like most things in life a little balance is needed. I would love to hear some of your ideas for stocking stuffers! Does anyone else celebrate St. Nicolas? What's going in your child's boot?
Friends it is Friday once again- this weekend will be filled with family and fun for us- my parents are on their way here right now- we will be gathering to celebrate the arrival of Lovely Cousin Laura's new baby- showering her with love. I hope your weekend is filled with warmth and joy- Happy Friday Friends!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
When I was a kid there was this wondrous place near our house- the Okanagan version of amusement park I guess. It was called Old McDonald's Farm and every time we drove into town my sister and I would start in hope out the window that one day we would stop in. There is only one time I can actually remember going- our Grandma took us- I'm sure our Mom was there as well but I only remember my Grandma- I remember she paid extra so we could fish for carp in the "old fishin' hole"- a nub of bread on the end of a line- I didn't catch anything.
I remember getting to pet a baby cow for the first time ever- up until this point cows were large, menacing beings that occasionally escaped their fields and invaded our neighbourhood- I was terrified of them- until I met that calf. The fishing, the calf and being with my Grandma are pretty much all I remember from that day- oh and of course my sister. So obviously Old McDonald's Farm really wasn't all we had thought it would be. Yet it persists as a constant childhood memory because it was just always there hugging the side of the highway- just beyond the empty field with scraggly ponies- the last outpost of town.
When we went home this past Thanksgiving my Mr. noticed they were changing out one of the billboards on the West side of the bridge- something so familiar caught his eye- causing him to pull over to the shoulder of the road at an alarming rate- I thought something else was wrong with the truck. Then he pointed it out- not much left but just enough to instantly be transported back to childhood- the familiar farmer- assumed to be Old McDonald- and his crazy eyed pig!
It's hard to believe that this even still exists- though who knows for how much longer- preserved beneath layers of adds for Okanagan ATV Tours- which is ironically run by a friend of mine. So for whatever reason we just happened to be at the right spot at the right time and we were reminded- if only for a moment- that somethings don't change- they just get buried beneath new layers.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I sat down at my laptop to write this morning's missive and just didn't know where to start- so many thoughts and emotions are swirling through my mind it's difficult to sort them all out. The past few days have been filled with flurry and activity for me and it's not the sort you would expect at this time of year. I don't know if it is a physical reaction to all the consumerism- the Black Friday and Cyber Monday- the Christmas adds- the incessant toy pushing- or maybe it's just the thought of starting off a New Year with a clean (er) slate but I have spent the past few days emptying out closets and under beds- clearing out the clutter even further.
I thought we were doing pretty well in the living more simply department- however it turns out I have a real penchant for hoarding- craft supplies, Christmas decorations, old kid's clothing- yup I have been saving it. A good look around our small apartment and you would never know this stuff was in our lives- I am very clever at stashing things away in boxes under the beds and tetris like in the closets. A recent foray under the bed for the Christmas tree (yes we have a fake tree thanks to the by-laws of our building) proved to be eye opening to me- I saw I was hoarding- wait for it- a bunch of empty boxes! This "stuff" weighed heavily on me even though it was out of sight- something had to change.
The Mr. and I have been doing a great deal of future planning these days- we are in our mid to late 30's and have started to consider what we want to do in the next ten years- how do we want our children to live? We both agree that it is better to travel this world lightly - filling our children up on experiences instead of being weighed down by things. We want to teach them that joy comes from with in- from a sunrise witnessed over a mountain range or a perfect stretch of deserted beach- joy is the culmination of experiences stored up in our souls- we want to fill up their souls with beauty.
" Joy is no doubt something we all crave more of in our lives. Though closely linked to happiness, joy is something much deeper and longer- lasting. It extends beyond the momentary and lingers around in the every day, and is there when happiness isn't. It's what we all strive for in life, and the good news is that it's certainly within reach"
I think in a world where getting ahead is so revered and people can easily wear their success by sporting popular brands it is so easy to get swept up in going along with everyone else. I know I did- once upon a time I based a great deal of my self worth on how many of my co-workers commented on my new top- it's easy. Not only is it easy- but it's time consuming and quite frankly a bit boring for me- I am opting out of this rat race. So for me getting rid of all this "stuff" has been so cathartic- so lightening- exciting and addicting even! As a family we are going into 2014 living much more lightly- much easier and most of all much more together!
My question for you dear readers- how do you clear out the chaos and clutter? I would love for you to share your simple living tips and tricks! Does simple- minimalist living bring you joy?
* for the full article on living a joyful life from Clementine Daily click here!
* for the full article on living a joyful life from Clementine Daily click here!
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I am a bit fan of working with leather- I love it- there is something that whispers "this is special" about leather. Maybe it is the historical pedigree of leather- it is an ancient and honest material that is tried and true. Perhaps it is the social connotations that leather equals quality goods- I learned at an early age to sniff purses to tell if they were made of leather or not- quality purses are made of leather! Impress all your friends this Holiday season with these arrow inspired key chains- cause you know arrows are super hip right now.
The arrow key chain could not be any easier to make- all you really need is a scrap of leather, a blank key ring, rivets and a hammer- very straight forward! To start with sketch out your design on the back of the leather- taking into account the size of the key ring and narrowing the top of the leather to fit through the ring. Cut out arrow shape. Loop the end of the leather through the key ring- punch a hole through both pieces of leather and insert rivet- add the back of the rivet and hammer into place.
I can't think of any hipster dude that would not love getting this leather cheveron key chain in their stocking this Holiday season! I have this super bad habit of always wanting to keep the gifts that I make- this project was great because I easily made about six in a half hour- meaning I get to keep one for myself! So impress your friends- let them think you are very clever- whip up one or a dozen of these hip little key chains!
Monday, December 2, 2013
Nestled along the shores of the Fraser River lie some of British Columbia's oldest buildings- Fort Langley also known as The Birthplace of B.C. This past weekend with the grey November skies threatening rain- or snow- we headed out to the valley with some friends to do some exploring of this Provincial historical sight.
I had not been inside the actual fort since a visit with my family in the 1980's- what I remember most is watching the blacksmith make square headed nails- I have mine still- in a suitcase amongst my childhood treasures. Much has changed since my last visit- gone are the dirt paths and self guided tours- the Fort Langley of today is well paved and easy to get around. Historically accurate tour guides help you find your way around the fort and are on hand to answer the endless questions of little boys.
We climbed the bastions and gazed out at the view of the river and fields- wandered through the stock houses and living quarters- imagining what it would be like to live 150 years ago. The highlight for the Littles seemed to be a stop at the black smith shop- where we watched an apprentice black smith make hooks- which each Little got to take home as a souvenir- a treasure for their own collections. Another popular stop was the gold panning station- where we were able to pan for real treasure!
This was a great way to spend a few hours on a grey day- the Littles got to learn something and maybe think about how easy our lives are today- compared to life in B.C. a century ad a half ago! If you decide to visit Fort Langley now is a great time of year- aside from a couple other families we pretty much had the place to ourselves! Children 5 and under are free- a family pass comes in at under $20.00- making this a very affordable family outing.
I think what I loved most about this adventure is that it was very hands on- the kids were invited to touch exhibits and explore freely- not something you would find at most museums. Fort Langley is set up to be very hands on learning- encouraging children to step back in time and experience what life might have been like. Parents can I say there is very little for your kids to get in to trouble with here- wide open spaces to run around and very patient tour guides. This was a great adventure for our busy and inquisitive Littles!
Friday, November 29, 2013
To me nothing says winter like strapping on a pair of skates - I am instantly transported back to being a child as soon as my skates hit the fresh ice. When I'm skating there is nothing that can bother me- it's just me- with the cold wind on my cheeks- going around in circles- occasionally trying out some fancy moves- totally blissed out- it's a Zen state of mind.
When we were kids our neighbourhood had a rink at the top of our street- at the Peachland Riding Club- conditions had to be just right for the rink to open as it was outdoors. We would hurry home from the bus, grab our skates and run up the street to skate until dinner- the ice rink was like the unofficial club house for the neighbourhood kids in winter- hot chocolate that instantly burned your tongue could be had for fifty cents- red licorice for a nickel.
It was on the ice that my sister and learned what our Mom must have been like as a girl- she was in our eyes a figure skater- she did a fancy cross over with her feet when cornering and could skate back wards. To us she was the best skater ever in her puffy kelly green winter coat- glasses slightly figged up- Beret just askew a tad- Kleenex tucked up her sleeve if we needed one.
I don't remember ever being hurried off the ice ever- often we could extend our skating time way past dinner time- walking home in the dark through patches of street light. Coming inside with our hands and feet so cold they hurt- our cheeks burning as we pealed off the layers and hung them to dry by the wood stove. We liked to pick off the chunks of snow from our wool mitts and put them on the stove to sizzle- watching the snow melt and then the puddles evaporate.
As an adult living on the coast I have often sought out the closest ice rink over the years- it wasn't until last year though that skating started to make a regular occurrence in our lives. The Littles discovered how much fun it is to power yourself over the smooth ice- around and round in circles to the tune of rink music. As a family this is one of the most affordable outings we can participate in- our local rink is free if you have your own skates.
So my simple family Friday suggestion for this week is to spend some time on the ice this coming week- skate rentals are so inexpensive- grab a helmet if you haven't skated in a while. Forget about making a fool of yourself and just skate- it is ever so magical! Friends as mentioned it's Friday - I hope your heart is warm and your cheeks are frosty- head outside and have some fun! Happy Friday!