mypostcardsfromhome


Get Outside with Family Geocaching!

As a family, we often get out and explore nature:  family hikes, biking the trails, beach-combing, or, my personal favourite, our vacation pyjama walks.

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Now we can add geocaching to our list of family adventures.

Yesterday, we set off for the first time and found several hidden treasures close to home.  The boys were keen – even in the rain.  Normally if we walk to the park and there aren’t any friends around to play with or it starts to rain, they would complain!  Or if I say, “lets go for a walk” they ask “where?”  But not this time.

What is Geocaching?

According to Geocaching.com “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.”

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How to get started?

This is the best part.  All you need is your GPS-enabled cell phone* and a free membership plus the free app!  Start with the map, follow the GPS plus any clues and search until you find the hidden item.  We found 4 that were within a 5 block radius of our house!

What will you find?

This is the fun part!  With a little effort, you should find a hidden or camouflaged, waterproof container known as the “cache.”  Inside you will find a “log” or notepad/piece of paper and (hopefully) a pen or pencil to record your name and the date.

Sometimes, you’ll come across little treasures; you can trade these, so be sure to pack a few small items with you that you can leave behind for the next person to discover (good etiquette suggests they be of equal or greater value).  Some great ideas for the kids are mini erasers, small toys, glowsticks, bouncy balls etc.  (Avoid non-perishables that might get slimy or rotten if they get wet.)

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Some tips:

  • wear comfortable shoes
  • bring a pen, just in case
  • pack a snack & water
  • take a camera

If you’re super keen, you could also pack a plastic bag and some tongs to clean up any litter you find en route!

Have a look at the map and see what’s nearby.  My boys and I were thrilled to see lots in our immediate area, but even more excited to see that they are EVERYWHERE!  Any time we go camping, skiing, hiking or even just visiting friends and family, we now have another reason to get out and explore.

We’re hooked!

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* we’ve been warned to be cautious of data-usage on the cell phone as this may incur extra charges depending on the plan
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It’s Strawberry Season!

It’s officially strawberry season in BC which means there are fresh, juicy, ripe, local strawberries everywhere!  Road-side stands, farmer’s markets, even the big-chain grocery stores are selling them.

At the same time, our school teachers are on strike which means my boys are missing the last two weeks of school. I’ll admit, it’s a mixed blessing; it’s nice not to be packing lunches and rushing off to school and activities everyday, but it also means the kids are underfoot and full of energy.

What to do?

Pile into the car with some friends and head out to the fields. IMG_1265

We drove out to Emma Lea Farm in scenic Westham Island, Ladner BC.  It was our first time there, but they clearly know what they’re doing.  A playground, tractors to climb on and ice cream for sale and, of course, fresh fruit to be picked and purchased. Once our buckets were weighed we set off to the fields. The boys did a great job of filling their buckets with the odd berry tasted for quality control purposes, of course.

Now that we have all these delicious, juicy, strawberries, it’s time to try out some new recipes such as these moist Strawberry Muffins and these flaky, Strawberry Scones. Both recipes are easy to make with great results.

Do you have a favourite strawberry recipe?

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Winter S’mores Cookies: an indoor twist on an outdoor classic.

It’s cold outside.

Not as cold as many other places on the continent, but cold, nonetheless.  We don’t have snow, just rock-hard, frosty ground.  It’s too cold to jump on the trampoline. Too cold to go for a bike ride. Certainly too cold to go camping or hang around a campfire making S’mores.

But it is perfect weather for baking. I thought it would be nice to warm things up a little and was reminiscing about warmer weather, campfires and s’mores. My kids don’t actually like S’mores.  Oh sure, they like the individual ingredients.  Who doesn’t like chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers?  Just not in a melted-together-in-a-sandwich kind of way.  So it’s S’mores Cookies instead.

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I found this cookie recipe on Pinterest (of course).  It’s adapted from KevinandAmanda.com and the cookies are delicious.  Kid and adult approved; they are gooey inside, but keep a nice shape.  Don’t make them too big, you’ll want to come back for more!

S’mores Cookies

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1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 full graham cracker sheets)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini-marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla then beat for an additional 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush 7 graham cracker sheets into 3/4 cup fine crumbs (I get the kids to help by putting them in a ziploc bag and having them crush them with a rolling pin).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Add the chocolate and marshmallows and stir to combine.

Place 1.5 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

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Enjoy!



Daily Prompt: The Natural World

I was inspired by todays daily prompt: The Natural World.

It was easy to find photos I had taken that show nature in its various forms: beaches, trees, sunrise and sunset, but I was most excited to see so many photos that include my boys exploring nature.

Although they are “city kids”, we do plenty of  beach combing, hiking, and paddling to discover treasures.  My favorite excursions are the pajama walks we take early in the morning while on vacation.

Where are your favorite places to explore nature?



Half full or half empty?

The age-old question of the glass being half full or half empty is sometimes used as an indicator of your views on life.  Are you an optimist?  A pessimist?

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Or perhaps you don’t care either way and are just happy to have the glass.

the glass

Since I became a mom, I found another glass metaphor – the one that measures my energy level.  I remember talking to a friend about parenting young kids and how demanding they are with constant questions, needs, and wants.  She replied ” your kids will drain you all day long; they suck the life out of you, so you have to make sure that you start each day with a full glass” (no, not of wine).  And then she forwarded me a link to a blog post about nurturing yourself while nurturing your child.

After reading this article I realized that, at times, I was too impatient with my kids and frustrated by the lack of time for myself.  I chose to leave my career in finance to stay home full-time with my kids, but I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.  So this year, as I approach 40, I have made an effort to put myself back on the never-ending to-do list.  I decided that I needed to take some time every day to do something that is just for me.  Something that makes me happy.

I exercise.  I make a cup of tea (and try to drink it before it gets cold).  I treat myself to a great pedicure.  I read.  I savour a square of sea salt Lindt dark chocolate.

If I had more time,  I would sew, paint, make jewelry, garden, but until my youngest is in school all day, I will keep pinning great ideas on my Pinterest boards for future reference; even this makes me happy!

What do you do to fill your cup?

the glass



Spring Treats!

Spring is in the air.  The flowers are blooming and the frost has taken a backseat to the rain, but the sun is still only making occasional appearances.  What better time to have a spring party!?

My 4-year-old’s preschool had a class party yesterday for family to attend and parents were asked to contribute treats, snacks, drinks and decor.  What fun to see the variety of delicious treats on the table; home-baked iced cookies, rice krispie treats, cupcakes, even some delicious candied-popcorn (I asked for that recipe!).

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This year we made bird’s nests!  They were quick, easy, child-friendly and delicious.  Our class has a number of allergies including nuts, eggs, and kiwi so these were allergy-friendly, too. They are also super-cute and were popular among the kids and parents.

We first attempted this treat for dessert on Easter weekend, but they didn’t turn out.  Apparently when you run over to the closest corner store and purchase the only chow mein noodles they have, it doesn’t mean your nests will be edible.  Cute, but not edible.  So we tried again – successfully!

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The ingredient list is short:

 chocolate

chow mein noodles

mini-eggs

Ready?  Melt your chocolate, mix in the noodles and spoon them into some lightly sprayed muffin tins.  I didn’t exactly measure but found that melting the chocolate then stirring in noodles a bit at a time until they were completely covered but not too “wet” worked well.IMG_1769

Once they’re in the tins, use your fingers to make the shape nest-like so there’s a place to put the eggs.  Then add 3 Cadbury mini-eggs (you could use other types like jelly beans or something, but these look so cute and taste great!).IMG_1770

My 4 year old happily helped with the mixing, spooning, and placing the eggs, then licked the spoon clean, of course!  It’s a bit of a sticky process, but they come together quickly and look and taste great.

Enjoy!

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It’s about time!

I’m a little behind on posting and have been getting some attitude about it.  Truth be told, I have 16 drafts started and a few that are almost ready to publish, but I’ve been busy.  I could name all sorts of reasons, but let’s just call it “life”. Time to get back on track.

My 39th birthday was in October; yes, it’s been four months, but a busy four months they were. This year, after my annual birthday resolutions were made,

Vision Board "39"

I also made a vision board to keep me focussed, but, I didn’t post my goals for all to see. If you’re new to my birthday resolutions, check out last year’s post: Happy Birthday To Me.

2013 Birthday Resolutions

To Do: a road bike event

To Have: a regular date night with my husband

To Be: clutter free

To Give: my undivided attention

To Learn:  how to use my digital camera settings

Happily, I can report that I’ve taken steps to help me achieve these goals.  We have interviewed new babysitters to watch the kids so my husband and I can  exercise and socialize together plus we have both registered for the 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer in June. You can make a donation here: http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Vancouver2013?px=3156646&pg=personal&fr_id=1441.

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To get more comfortable with my road bike, I am planning to do another Duathlon in March.  And to work toward being clutter free I am following a “declutter calendar” for the year which I stumbled upon  (http://www.mysimplerlife.com/decluttercalendar.htm).

To give undivided attention is aimed at having more “quality” time with each of my kids and my husband as well as cutting back on multi-tasking.  Focus, focus, focus!  Which brings me to my camera; I haven’t yet made a formal plan here, but am confident I’ll get this one done, too!

Now, to check my 40 Before 40 list to see what other goals I can achieve this year!

Have any tips or advice you want to share?




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