Notes From the Cookie Jar

Friday, December 05, 2014

Share Your Fave Holiday Movie and Win!

Remember when I told you all about that awesome Roku 3 streaming box that I had from Staples? Well, we've been watching movies here and there, gearing up for the holidays. We haven't watched a lot of the usual Christmas movies; much of what we normally would watch wasn't on Netflix, so we settled for some that we hadn't seen yet. That month went so fast! I was stunned that before we knew it, December had arrived. Hadn't we just started? What do you mean there's only that many days before Christmas?

I have two guys in my house who love action and adventure, and with no little kids there was no clamoring for anything animated. We're a tried and true adventure crowd, with pure escapism  ranking high on our wish list and not necessarily traditional holiday themed movies on our minds.

When Kevin was young and The Lord of the Rings trilogy began coming out in theaters, John and I would make a movie date. In the midst of all the holiday craziness, we'd book a babysitter, get dressed up, an spend a night out together. Sometimes, the smallest things become tradition-even though Kevin was too young to join us at the time, as the years passed he grew and we eventually watched the videos together.

When the Hobbit movies began being released in theaters, there was no question; instead of making the movies a date night, Kevin began joining us for a really special evening out to see the movies we had loved so much in theaters.  With his birthday on December 21st our date night tradition evolved into a family birthday one where we would find our way to a theater to see our beloved Middle Earth characters once again. Elves, orcs, hobbits, a dragon; what's not to love? It seems very fitting that this Christmas, when the very last Middle Earth movie of the series is in theaters, Kevin turns 19.

If we had to crown our ultimate holiday movie, I'd have to say any of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, because they have a special place for us. We have been known to watch all three in a trilogy over the course of a holiday, curled up on the couch nibbling snacks and enjoying our fantasy trip to Middle Earth.

What's YOUR favourite holiday movie? It doesn't have to be a holiday themed one, just movies that your family enjoys. Let me know below and guess what? YOU can win yourself Roku 3!

This giveaway is open only to Canadian residents who are the age of majority.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

How to Make a Gingerbread House Without Losing Your Mind (part 1)


For years, gingerbread houses were my nemesis. After the trauma of the gingerbread incident, I decided that kits were the way to go and that anyone who made gingerbread creations from scratch was crazy. What I neglected to tell you is that the very next day after gingerbread went airborne in my house, I went to work and was asked to help a class construct a village from gingerbread.

For a week straight, I surrounded by children and gingerbread and went home covered in icing sugar. I was in gingerbread hell.

A few years after that, I worked in a high school Foods class where I finally got over my fear of gingerbread house building when we built mini gingerbread houses from scratch. Finally, I learned a bunch of tips and tricks that made gingerbread house building easy, which I want to share with you!

Before we get started, I want you to let go of expectations that you are going to end up with something that looks like it belongs on Pinterest. Forget perfection and embrace the process of doing this project with your kids for maximum fun factor; THAT is the secret to successful gingerbread house constructing, and exactly what I had forgotten one Christmas when Kevin was little.

This recipe makes one small gingerbread house that goes with this pattern. (that link should take you to Google Docs, where my pattern is in a shared folder. You should be able to download and print it!)  If doubled, the recipe will make 3-4 houses depending on how thick you roll the dough. Don't make them too thin, they'll break easily! These houses are small, but I find small is the key to manageable. Make a bunch and the kids can each decorate their own for a village! Don't get stressed out over this project, you can do it over a period of days so it's not so daunting. The dough can be mixed and then frozen or left in the fridge overnight, and you can bake it one day and construct another. Or, put the houses together one day and let the kids decorate another.

Mini Gingerbread House (pattern here!)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves or allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp water


1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

2. In another bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, molasses, and water and continue to beat until smooth.

3. Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended, and then stir in the remaining flour mixture. If the dough is really sticky, stir in a bit more flour until a little more manageable but be careful, you don't want it dry. The dough should be soft and easy to work with, but not so sticky it's all over the place.

4. Turn out onto a counter and knead 2 or 3 times for it to all come together. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge for about 2 hours. You can also freeze the dough at this point for another day. Thaw the dough before you are going to use it.

5. When you are ready to bake, pre heat oven to 350 F. Take your dough out of the fridge and allow to warm slightly. Then divide the disc in half.


6. Roll out 1/2 disc on parchment paper (important!) until it's about 1/4 of an inch thick. Brush lightly with flour to keep the pattern pieces from sticking. Lay your pattern pieces on the dough and cut them out using a sharp knife. Do not put the pieces flush with each other, they need at least 1/2 inch between them. (also important!)


7. When you have cut as many pieces as you can, remove the excess dough. Then, using scissors, cut the wax paper around the gingerbread pieces, leaving a slight border around each one. Do NOT remove the gingerbread pieces from the parchment paper. This ensures that your pieces will remain perfectly straight, and not warp, which means the house will be easier to construct. (and you will preserve your sanity)


8. Put pieces on a cookie sheet. Continue until you've used all your dough. If you have leftovers, you can make some gingerbread cookies, or ginger snaps by rolling the dough into walnut sized balls, rolling them again in granulated sugar, set them on a cookie sheet and press them down slightly.

9. Bake your gingerbread pieces about 10-12 minutes, until they are set and slightly browned.


10. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cookie pieces to cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes before removing to the counter or a cooling rack to cool completely. Once they are cooled, set the pieces aside in a sealed container until you are ready to build!

Need to watch me do this? I have a handy dandy video for you, even!

In my next post, we'll move on to different kinds of icing, construction, and decorating tips!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Simple Christmas: Make a Strategy

Christmas hike
Every Christmas Day, if weather permits we go for a hike

I have found that the secret to keeping your Christmas simple is to figure out a strategy before December. This may seem like a bit of a killjoy to some who like to just go with the flow, but hear me out on this one.

1. Decide what's important

First, sit down with your family. It's their holiday season too, right? You may need a calendar and/or some paper if you have a lot of events happening. Ask each person what is important to them. Do the kids love your annual drive to look at Christmas lights? Is dinner at Grandma's house high on your list? Write them down. This is your chance to be a little selfish and state what makes Christmas special for you. Our favourite things have changed through the years and as we moved to different communities, but here's a taste of some:

1. Annual drive to look at Christmas lights: we would load up the car with hot chocolate and treats, then drive around and marvel at the pretty houses, with Christmas music playing in the car.
2. Dinner out at a local hotel on Christmas Day (when Kevin was really small). We called it our gift to ourselves because there was only 3 of us. Kevin still remembers it.
3. Movies and a huge appetizer spread on Christmas Eve
4. Trip to the city for a big day of Christmas shopping
5. Movie 'date' for me and John (Lord of the Rings Movies) which evolved into Kevin coming and it being a birthday evening out for Kevin.
6. The Santa Claus parade!
7. Reading a special story on Christmas Eve

As I wrote this I've noticed something. Each and every thing has to do with time spent together, not things. Nobody cares about the perfect tree, whether Christmas crackers are homemade or store bought (or there at all), if the Christmas cake was bought or handmade at midnight. (for the record, I buy the stuff). We've had a few Christmases where things were less than ideal; friends were dying; family members were seriously ill, money was tight, etc. It taught all of us that Christmas is all about loving each other and being together, not the trappings that seem to invade.

2. Identify what stresses you out

Next, look at the things that you could do without. This can be a bit trickier, because it involves things that you may feel obligated to do and you have to steel yourself into saying no. You CAN say no to things, you know. You don't have to do Christmas cards if you ultimately don't enjoy it. The kids don't HAVE to go to the Christmas concert. You don't HAVE to go to your office party. You don't HAVE to buy a gift for every extended family member and overspend your budget. The key is to identify what causes you the greatest amount of stress.

For us, the biggest stressors were:

1. Travel (tried it, hated it, vowed not to do it again)
2. Obligation to do loads of little things; gifts for co-workers, cards, parties, etc.
3. Not setting a budget and then overspending
4. Too many events
5. My own perceived notion that I had to do everything by hand and from scratch (making loads of homemade gifts)

Once you've identified what stresses you out, give yourself permission to either cease doing them altogether, pare them back, or find a way to do them that works for you. I used to make all sorts of things by hand, and then wouldn't finish them in time and be up late desperately trying to get them done. I understand that sometimes family obligations such as the 3 Christmas dinners in various houses aren't things you can always get out of, but maybe there are other areas that can be tweaked. Remember, holidays also change over time as your kids grow so maybe you can't change things now, but in years to come the stress will lessen.

The biggest lesson here is that if you have small kids, they are small only for a handful of Christmases. It's your only opportunity to make them very special family times, so guard them fiercely.

3. Set a budget and stick to it

Now that you've figured out what is important, set a budget for gifts and things. We tend to save some money throughout the year specifically for Christmas so that we can pay things outright and don't put extra on credit or mess up our monthly budget. Keep it reasonable. Children don't need to have the very latest or most expensive item, nor do they need a gigantic pile of presents under the tree. Commercials and media will tell you that you NEED TO BUY THIS TO MAKE YOUR CHILD HAPPY, but you don't need to succumb to the messaging. How do you avoid the overwhelming Christmas hype? Well, you strategize your shopping as well.

4. Plan your shopping and gift giving

Once you have your budget, figure out what you want to buy for gifts. John and I used to sit down and plan what we were getting for Kevin, and then set a budget for what we were going to spend on each other. Our approach to Christmas shopping is unusual; we would make a plan, then spend a day together shopping and enjoy lunch together. We also shopped for our gifts together, mostly because I couldn't figure out what kind of tools he wanted and he couldn't find clothes that fit me properly. We then wrapped the gifts and they went under the tree.

Most people gasp when they hear this. What about the surprise? Well, stockings were still fair game to fill with all kinds of small things, but there were never any returns when it came to bigger gifts.

To keep the shopping stress down, try these strategies:

-shop during the week early in the day. Avoid the mall on weekends at all costs, especially closer to the date.
-make a list!
-shop online
-get things like tape, wrapping paper, ribbon, etc early.
-pick up stocking stuffers as you go. I get mine on days when I'm grocery shopping or out and about
-watch the sales. If something is important for you to get, you may want or need to brave the crowds to get it.
-wrap items when you bring them home and label them so that if they are found, you're still safe. This also saves you from the hours of wrapping on Christmas Eve.

Lastly, there's one more thing to plan....

5. Plan the food

This can depend on your family. Is food important? Do you bake a lot? Are you planning to bake as gifts, for friends and family? If the answer to these questions is yes, then planning will help keep you from being stressed in the kitchen. About a month before the holidays, I sit down and have a conversation with my family; what would you love to have for Christmas dinner? What cookies and treats do you love best? Do we need to bake for teachers, friends, or family?

A word, here. DO NOT think that you must make everything from scratch. Shortcuts are okay. Eating at a hotel for Christmas dinner is okay (you saw that we once did that, right?). Buying your Christmas baking is okay. Whatever works for you and your family IS OKAY.

Once you have this information, it's a good idea to pull together the recipes you need and take a look in your pantry. I like to make a list of the things I'm going to need; cocoa, flour, sugar, butter, etc and head out to Costco to stock up. Costco is by far my go-to place for getting baking supplies, since I've found them cheaper than anywhere else. If you don't have the funds to buy everything at once, you could take the strategy of buying a few things here and there as you do your grocery shopping and just tuck it away. This saves you last minute trips to the store and the stress of getting everything done at once.

If you're baking for friends and family, it's a good idea to pick up containers or bags to tuck treats into early. I love to go to the Dollar store for this; clear plastic goodie bags are great for cookies, and you can find inexpensive boxes or tins to make gift giving easy. I love the clear goodie bags because they can be used for other holidays too, if I have leftovers. If you have time, you can get kids to decorate brown paper lunch bags instead. This might make a fun afternoon project.

Holiday baking really deserves it's own post, so we're going to end here. Next week I'm going to show you how I organize all my holiday baking and get it done so that it's actually fun! There are ways, my friends. First I just need to run to Costco....

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Simple Christmas Series

First Ornament

Writing about Christmas this soon after Halloween seems really strange to me; we normally don't talk about the holidays until after Dec 1st in our house. The thing is, people are already talking about the holidays; stores are pulling out decorations, media is slowly moving in that direction, so I decided that I'm going to do a series here on having a simple Christmas. I've talked about it often, but I don't think I've ever broken down for readers how we do it, and how they can too.

Really, how you celebrate the holidays (or if you celebrate them at all) is up to you and what works for your family. When Kevin was small, it was so easy to be caught up in the world of doing it all; the scratch baked cookies, the perfect gifts for everyone, the events and parties. As the years passed and we found our own traditions, I realized that Christmas wasn't about the shiny paper and what was under the tree, but rather that we were together. Five towns and nearly 19 years later, our traditions evolved and changed to what they are today. I think the point was driven home to me the very last Christmas I spent with Anne; sitting in her living room by a crackling fire, we enjoyed homemade cookies and squealed with laughter. Nothing, not one THING, could have made that moment better.

It can be hard to shut out the commercialism and pressure that is the holidays. The draw of "you should" though Pinterest, magazines, and what other people are doing can make you feel like maybe you're missing out on something. That you should be up until 1 am making those cutsie little crafts that looked good on Pinterest for your child's entire class because they would love them, right? The key is, you don't have to do it all. Keep what you love to do and get rid of the rest. I don't like writing Christmas cards, so I stopped. Instead I really love to bake, and so that is where my focus is. You don't have to go to every party, either. It's really okay to say no.

How do we do a simple, non commercial Christmas? I'll be posting about what WE do, from decorations to food and more, once a week. You don't have to spend a ton of money, and the whole point is being with family, not the STUFF. I'll share my hacks for being festive without being over the top or having to buy a bunch of stuff that is just going to sit in a box for a year again.  I wouldn't call it a frugal Christmas, but the reality is it doesn't cost a whole lot and you aren't depriving yourself, either. The point is to find what is important to you, what makes the holiday special to you and your family, and focusing on THAT. Discard the unnecessary obligation that stresses you out. Place the emphasis on what makes you all happy, rather than what you SHOULD do.

When you look at things that way, it makes holiday prep sound a lot more like fun than a stress inducing exercise in  "oh my God, AGAIN?!" Follow along on twitter as I tweet what we're up to with #simpleChristmas and share your own ideas!

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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Stream Into 2015 With the Cookie Jar

 This post is sponsored by Staples

Years ago when Kevin was three, we took him to see Tarzan as his first movie ever. Perched in his little booster seat with popcorn in hand, I was the proud Mama-first movie experience! First Disney! How cute!

All was fantastic until the scene where baboons stream from the trees and chase Jane. At that point he emited a horrified scream, launched himself from the booster seat, and wrapped his little body around my head. See, Kevin has always had sensory sensitivities to noise and lights, so movies were always overwhelming. He cried during Winnie the Pooh, was hysterical in Toy Story 2, and finally I gave up on movies altogether until he was a lot older. Now that he's 19, we still joke about "trauma by Disney" and the fact that I unknowingly scared the bejeebes out of him when he was little.

Still, with two people in my house who aren't fans of the theater, we don't get out much-but we still love to watch some good movies. What's our solution? Every year during the Christmas holidays we'd load ourselves up with about 10 videos and spend Christmas Eve through Boxing Day watching old favourites or catching up on the great ones we hadn't seen yet. I put out a big spread of nibbly appetizers, and we snuggle under warm blankets in the light of our tree with a good movie.


Technology has changed over the years and when we moved to Chilliwack we signed up with Optik TV, but then we had no VCR and didn't always like the movies offered by Telus. $5 per movie seemed a bit expensive, too. Everyone streams movies now, we were told, but we never did really get on board until I signed up to join #streaminto2015 with Staples. We were given the Roku 3 streaming box and finally hooked ourselves up to Netflix.


It feels like we were the last people on the planet, really.

Setting up the box was actually pretty easy and while I first I admit we were tempted to solicit our in house tech support (aka the nearly 19 year old) to get it going, I decided to do it myself. A few minutes later we were up and running, and before you know it we were sitting and watching "Star Trek: Into Darkness." Yes, We're Star Trek fans!

The more I talk about #streaminto2015 this month, you're going to see that we love adventure, sci-fi, fantasy movies and the occasional romantic comedy. Over the holidays our movies choices are always fun, light fare; Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Harry Potter have been many of our favourites. We'll be exploring all kinds of movies this month, catching up on what we've missed, and on Nov 28th we'll announce our Ultimate Holiday Movie as well as giving away a Roku 3 for a lucky reader to enjoy over the holidays too! Get ready for some movie snack recipes over at Chasing Tomatoes as I share what my family often nibbles when we have a movie night in.

So, help me out movie lovers-what's YOUR favourite holiday movie? I'm a little out of the loop. Comment or tweet me at @scatteredmom with your suggestions!

Disclosure: I was given a Roku streaming box (valued at $100) with a bunch of snacks (popcorn, Cadbury chocolate coated cookies, hot chocolate) to write about our experience with the product. Since my family watches films every holiday anyway, this worked well for us. We signed up for Netflix and paid for it ourselves. I also be giving away a Roku. I haven't received, nor will I receive, any other compensation.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Shift Work Cooking and 3 Menus to Get You Started

This summer has been one of crazy change and growth, where I've done things I never thought I'd ever do again. Nothing glamorous mind you, but I went back to a place where I once worked long ago and am, if you can believe it, starting over. It's both exhilarating to be out of the confines of the job I've been in for 20 years, along with slightly scary and utterly exhausting, but I'm so, so happy.

So happy.

Along with this increased pace in my life, as well as getting used to shifts being all over the map, the family dinner is changing. Our family has changed, too. I don't think anyone talks about that when they speak of the family dinner-kids grow, circumstances and budgets change, and what may have worked for you at one time isn't feasible or practical during another. Kevin is now more than capable to take on cooking duties and John is also more than able to re-heat, or start something and they both can assist with clean up.

This is something I've never done before; delegate cooking or clean up duties because I'm working or tired, but in conversation with fellow moms on Twitter, it's a matter of survival when you are working shifts. Everyone needs to eat, and it becomes a team effort rather than one person shouldering all the responsibility. Previously, I didn't mind and even enjoyed it-now I just can't do it all nor do I even want to try.

A particular issue that came up is getting dinner on the table when you work the evening shift and want to get dinner prepped ahead of time, ready for kids and/or your spouse to finish when dinner time rolls around. I've had to deal with this over the summer since sometimes my shifts start in the late afternoon and run through dinner into the evening. What have I been doing to combat this? Well, a few things, and since I had three evening shifts last week I'll show you how we managed.

The important thing is, give your family members a job. Leave behind written instructions stating what the menu is, and put their name beside a job that needs to be done. If they need a recipe, leave that out as well. 

When I've talked about kids cooking, Moms often respond that it takes more work. Well yes, initially-but look at that work as an investment. By making your kids responsible for helping to put dinner on the table it teaches them life skills that they will carry into adulthood, make them feel like part of a team, and eventually, they may take on an evening's cooking by themselves.

Kevin cooking dinner
Kevin frying up some meatballs
The trick is, I think, to start small. Teach them how to make rice. Write down the instructions in a book for them to refer to when you aren't around. Then, how to make salad. If you're worried about them using your big scary knives, direct them to something smaller and show them how to use it, as well as where the band aids are if they accidentally cut themselves. In all the years I've worked with kids and food, I've never once had a kid cut themselves. Show them how to cut various vegetables, wash them, etc. Starting with basic skill will give them the practice they need and build confidence.

More good skills to learn:

-boiling pasta
-hard boiled or scrambled eggs
-heating things up, such as pasta sauce or soup and following basic directions
-steaming vegetables
-oven fries

..and much more. You know your kids best, just get them to take on something when you think they are ready. Even if it means you chop the veggies for something and have them assemble, it gives them practice following directions, which is really what a recipe is all about. Just make sure to keep your directions short, to the point, and even include doodles if you want. How about some sample menus?

Dinner #1: Tacos

Tacos, or any "top it yourself" dinner is perfect for everyone to pitch in.

Jobs to delegate:
-brown and season meat
-chop/slice toppings (peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions)
-grate cheese
-make guacamole

To prep ahead, take on the job that you feel you do best, which in my case, was making tortillas. Then the family can do the rest depending on age or ability-there's no reason an 11 year old can't make guacamole, shred cheese, or chop up some peppers.

Dinner #2: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Things for you to prep ahead: the chicken filling for the sandwiches

Jobs to delegate:
-toast buns
-make a salad
-oven fries (optional)

This recipe is made in the slow cooker, which makes things easier. I prepped it ahead and turned it on before I went to wok so that it would be finished by dinnertime. Sometimes, I make particular side dishes optional. If my family REALLY wants the oven fries, they'll make them, but there's a chance they won't-and that's okay. If they don't want the salad, they can substitute raw veggies with some dip. Kids like it when they are given a choice, so delegating but allowing the cook to decide what they want to make gives them some ownership over it as well.

Dinner #3: Soy sesame steak, rice, steamed peas

Things for you to prep ahead: marinate the steak

Jobs to delegate:
-cook the steak
- make rice
-steam peas

This dish is super easy and a great one for teenagers to practice their cooking skills with. The steak is sliced so thinly that you barely have to cook it, and then only thing they have to remember is to keep the pan hot and not crowd it. If they do, it's not the end of the world.  An 11 year old can easily make rice and heat up some peas in the microwave, and there you go! Dinner! You can, if you wish, add in other side dishes, but we try to keep things as simple as possible.

If steak isn't your thing, try making drumsticks, or homemade chicken fingers. All are very easy and an older child should have no trouble. Make sure there is some discussion around handling raw meat so that kids know they have to wash their hands well.

Then just sit back and let them play. Sure, the rice may be a little crunchy. The lettuce could be ripped into pieces a bit large, or your meat a little overcooked but praise them for trying. It's all a learning experience, after all. For some of us, it's learning to hand the spatula over to someone else and let them have a go.

Go on, you can do it!
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Friday, September 12, 2014

20 Things

So if I'm to go back to blogging old school, and I've been away for all this time, we have some catching up to do. Things have changed-even I've changed a little. Want to know what's up in the Cookie Jar? How about an old fashioned list?

1. Kevin was 10 when I started blogging. He turns 19 in December. This is slightly strange for me, adjusting to the fact that my kid isn't really a kid anymore. He's nearly 6' tall and eats non stop. The thing with having a kid this age is I found myself no longer doing all the kid friendly things I pulled together when he was young. For instance, Halloween now consists of me shutting off the outdoor lights, buying a box of candy for us to consume, and we watch a movie together.
I admit, it was fun while it lasted but I'm enjoying being finished, too. Did I mention we were thrilled that he was finally done with school?


2. We live in the eastern Fraser Valley, which is about 1 1/2 hrs out of Vancouver. There's a lot of farms out here. I can drive down the road and buy cheese or pork right at the farm gate, or even apples and hazelnuts. There's a duck farm not far from my house where I can pick up duck eggs. This place is a food lover's dream. Fresh and local takes on a whole new meaning when it's grown just down the road-or an elementary school has a corn field right across the street.

Cows in Yarrow

3. The trade off for all that great local food is that Chilliwack sometimes smells like manure. I'm okay with this, but people who don't live here complain.  I figure it's better than sniffing fumes from a pulp mill.

4. My kitchen is awesome, and I don't cook nearly as much. Weird, huh? There's a few reasons, the largest being that I don't have a job creating 5 recipes a week anymore. I absolutely burned myself out there for quite a long time. These days I take it easy; I don't even bake much, but then my family whines that they are missing some tasty treat and I whip it up for them. Even then I haven't delved into anything too complicated, and have gone back and re-made old favourites.


5.  We still do family walks, just maybe a little less often and Kevin doesn't always come with us. There's lots of outdoor spaces around here to walk; the big challenge is having us all home at once! We're busier than ever, and sometimes I barely even see John for a few days.

6. Our favourite coffee spot in Chilliwack is Starbucks. John likes True North Blend, I love Verona and Pike Place, Kevin adores Komodo Dragon. We spend more time there than I should really admit.

Is is me, or do we look highly caffeinated here?

7. My favourite fancy coffee drink is a toss up between the cinnamon dolce latte and caramel macchiato. I love them both.

raspberries 3
Raspberries fresh picked from Mann Farms

8. Grocery shopping here has so many options compared to the Sunshine Coast that there are stores I've never set foot in. Between farms, country markets and big box stores, our options are endless. The first time Kevin and I walked into Superstore we just wandered around in awe at the sheer size of the place. 

9.  In the fall, huge flocks of Canadian geese fly over our house at dusk on their way to Cultus Lake. You can hear them honking inside, even with the doors closed.

10. I'm not used to the traffic here yet, but I think I've accepted that it's part of being here. There's also the people who ride a skateboard in the middle of the night down the middle of the road, or their scooters in weird places, and those who text and drive. The very best time to get anywhere in Chilliwack is before 5:30 am, strangely enough.

11. I ate an A&W hamburger this summer and I actually liked it so much I saved the coupons in our newspaper. Who am I?

12. I miss Stewart's lime soda and have searched all over Chilliwack for it with no luck.

13.  I haven't actually wandered around Cultus Lake yet and we've lived about 10 minutes away from it for 2 years. In the summer it's crazy busy for parking, so we just haven't gone. Perhaps I should, I hear it's nice.

Powerhouse at Stave Lake
The powerhouse at Stave Lake was interesting

14.  When we're looking for something to do, we get on the bike and take the back roads into Fort Langley past farms and country-like spaces. The BC Hydro powerhouse at Stave Lake is a great place for a walk and we enjoyed a fun tour. We also have gone to the fort a few times, and then walk around the village. There's loads of great places to ride around on the motorcycle, but we love wandering around the backroads in the valley, heading up the Fraser Canyon, or going to Manning Park.
Taken from the back of our motorcycle!

15. I can go to Costco and still buy under $60 worth of stuff. Mostly I buy baking stuff there like flour, cocoa, sugar, and butter. I go with a list and rarely leave with anything extra.

16. When we first moved here I almost convinced John that I needed a cat, but he held out until I changed my mind and decided that I didn't want to clean up after a pet after all.

17. I'm going to be a mother in law next June when John's daughter gets married. Her fiance is the same age as me!

18. Our house has 3 bathrooms. If you know how much I loathe cleaning bathrooms, you'll understand how this makes me feel. I make Kevin clean some now so it's okay.

19. After we moved to a place with a kick ass movie theater, both my guys announced they don't like going to movies. We've been there once. I'm going to have to find friends to go with from now on.

20. There's so many new things to do and places to go here, we've barely scratched the surface. I'm so lucky to have great friends to hang out with and explore-we have a grand time checking out places here and there, be it food or just fun. Everyone is happy, healthy, and we're doing awesome.

Which is the whole point, right? I think we've found our groove again and that, more than anything, makes me happiest.

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