Myself, Roxy & Curtis at the trailhead

Time on the Mountain

Our long weekend was crazy! We had swimming, fundraisers, church, shopping, and parties to fill our time, but Curtis and I managed to eek out a little date time alone on the mountain too.

As I mentioned in a previous post we’ve recently decided that we need to try and get out together a little more often so that we get a bit of a break and some much needed time alone together to reconnect.

Curtis took the lead this time and arranged for a sitter on Sunday afternoon. We decided we would go for a trail “run”.

Up Vedder Mountain we went.

I’ve been up there numerous times but I don’t think I’ve ever been all the way to the top. When you’re taking kids along you kind of go at their pace. Sometimes that pace is SLOW. It’s more about the journey then the destination.

When it’s two adults going things are a bit quicker. As I said Curtis and I were “running” which was really more like a fast hike, running sections here and there. We managed to make the 10km round trip in about an hour and a half. Slowed down mostly by the dog.

It was so fun to get out, enjoy something together that we seldom get to do alone, and chat.

I think Roxy enjoyed the trip too. She often gets overshadowed by the kids when we go as a family and our little hike probably felt a lot like the good ol’ days for her.

It was a little nostalgic for us too to be out together in the woods. We’ve always enjoyed being in the outdoors together so for us it feels a little like we’re getting back to our roots. We both feel most at rest when we’re outside and the conversation flows easily!

How about you? Did you manage to squeeze in a bit of time alone with your special someone this weekend? I hope so!

2015 Summer Fun List

Last summer we made a Summer Fun List – a list of ideas of things we could do locally during the summer.

It included everything from finding a new local playground, to camping trips, to dinners out, and trips to the zoo.

It was a HUGE success. We didn’t get to everything on the list but we did a lot, and any time we weren’t sure of what we wanted to do we would consult the list. The kids and I did more of it than Curtis, but he joined us for a good many things and it kept us busy all summer long.

Our Summer Fun List was so successful last year that we’re going to do it again. Some things are repeats, some are new, some are free, and some will cost a bit of money. We won’t get to everything and that’s ok. The point is to have some ideas so that when we have a free day to go exploring we don’t waste it trying to come up with something fun!

So here it is:

  • Visit the Fairy Park (Redwood Park in Surrey)
  • Visit the Historic Burnaby Villiage – ride the carousel!
  • Go to the Vancouver Aquarium ( I already have passes I got through air miles, so this is hopefully a given!)
  • Visit the Zoo (again I have a family pass I got through air miles so this should be easy)
  • Hike all of Vedder – we visited the “first hole” this winter but would like to get to the top.
  • Go to Party in the Park
  • Have Pizza at Cultus Lake
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Hike Elk Mountain
  • Go on a family camping trip
  • Make S’mores
  • Have a beach day with Daddy in White Rock
  • Find a new game to play at Party in the Park
  • Go to the beach at Hicks Lake
  • Pick Strawberries
  • Pick Blueberries (E specifically wants to do this in a friend’s yard but we’ll have to see)
  • Find a new park in Chilliwack
  • Go to the Water slides
  • Take a family bike ride and have a picnic
  • Write a letter to my favourite cousin Megan ( watch out Meg you have a letter from a 4 year old in your future!)
  • Visit Bridal Falls
  • Go out for Ice Cream
  • Play Mini Golf
  • Go Canoeing
  • Have a beach day at Cultus Lake with our friends
  • Have friends over for Friday Night Pizza
  • Make Blueberry Muffins
  • Pick Vegetables
  • Build a Sandcastle
  • Go to a new Splash Park
  • Run through the sprinkler (we don’t have one but we should be able to do this somewhere!)
  • Go on a Mommy & E only run
  • Find a NEW splash park
  • Visit Othello Tunnels
  • Go on a train ride (if anyone knows how I can make this one happen I am open to suggestions!)
  • Visit the Kilby Store
  • Enjoy a Harrison Lake beach day
  • Take a trip to Birchwood Dairy
  • Go on a family backpacking trip
  • Visit Queens Park in New Westminster
  • Go to VBS

This is our list so far! Feel free to steal ideas, and if you have any great ideas for summer fun then let me know! We’ll add them on 🙂

My freezer packed up with tasty meals!

Summer Menu Planning *Sigh*

Well, summer is more than half way through and I’m sad to say that I “fell off the wagon” as far as my summer meny planning went. I think I’m back on track for August now with a freezer full of pre-made slow cooker meals, a new slow cooker (will tell you about that dilemma below) and a few great BBQ options thrown in for some variety.

My freezer packed up with tasty meals!

My freezer packed up with tasty meals!

I’m sure many people experience the same crunch come summer. I’ve certainly read about it on a few other blogs that I follow. For me this summer has been almost a complete failure in the world of meal planning. That said at least I can pinpoint my downfall, and I am going to share it with you now!

It all started in June. I’d been doing the freezer-to-slow cooker thing for a few months at that point and had a bunch of unused meals still frozen in my freezer. Not having a ton of extra space I decided to take a month off of prepping new freezer meals so we could finish up the few that we had left. I planned to fill in the gaps with other simple but made-that-day meals.

As it turns out about half way through June my slow cooker died. Boo. Now I have to say that while you may be surprised I was not. Not. At. All. You see I seem to have a knack for killing small kitchen appliances. While this is the first slow cooker I’ve killed, in the last two years we’ve been through at least 4 immersion blenders, and prior to owning my Kitchen Aid mixer I destroyed about 1 hand mixer every six months to year.

How you ask do I trash small kitchen appliances? I don’t know. I would generally consider myself fairly competent in the kitchen, and I enjoy cooking/baking, so while we often joke around here about “Cynthia’s Char & Serve” and our love of “Cajun” (i.e. burnt) food the truth is that charred or “Cajun” style meals are really a rarity around here. Don’t believe me, ask around it’s ok. I have nothing to hide.

I’m going to venture a guess that my ability to burn out small appliances is just over use. Maybe lack of quality? Sometimes it’s hard to justify spending much on it when the last one only lasted 6 months. The slow cooker I think was a variety of things, over use, under filling, and age. It was only a $20-$30 slow cooker to begin with and was at least 8 years old. Being a 6 quart slow cooker it was also regularly only half full which as I understand isn’t great for them.

All that said, July rolled around and I found myself without a slow cooker. With a number of other extra expenses in July I opted out of the slow cooker plan in favor of make it that day kind of meals. I also started a new job as a fitness coach/personal trainer. That was not a great combination for us.

Butter Chicken cooking in my NEW slow cooker

Butter Chicken cooking in my NEW slow cooker

As we adjusted to my new work schedule which includes a couple early morning, and some evenings in the week I found myself really missing my easy slow cooker meals. I also found myself unmotivated to prepare the meals that I had planned regardless of how little prep-time they took. Out of sheer laziness I often opted to throw the meat on the BBQ, chop some veggies and forget the plan.

July came to a close and August rolled around and I knew I needed to do SOMETHING about our dinner plans. So I ordered an inexpensive Slow Cooker from (seriously it was like $25, it’s simple but it does what I need it to so what more can I ask). AND it’s literally half the size of the one we had before so now when I fill it it’s actually FULL which is supposed to be better for the cooker. FYI filling this full is STILL way more food than the three of us will eat in one meal.

I also picked up an Epicure Burger Press from my friend Nikki Rekman early this summer and let me tell you I will never buy store bought burgers again (I rarely did anyway but now I really have no excuse). I LOVE it. Homemade burgers are SO simple to make with that thing. I make a bunch and freeze them flat w/ cardboard in between layers of burgers and we just pull out the number we want on cooking day. It makes it JUST as easy as pre-made store bought burgers and WAY healthier because I know exactly what’s in them. I have however found that it doesn’t work great with ground chicken. Ground chicken is much stickier than ground beef and it sticks in the press and to the burger separators really badly so they don’t actually turn out very burger shaped. Still experimenting with that one a little. Maybe if I freeze them in the press and then push them out…

My Epicure Burger Press ready for action

My Epicure Burger Press ready for action

So, how have you done this summer? Has it been hard to stay on-track, or do you find menu planning easier through the summer months than the fall/winter season? Let me know how you succeeded, or where you’ve struggled, I’d love to hear from you!