Let this be for the whole year, not just September!

This is hard to write today, and I bet it will make a lot of you uncomfortable, and until recently, I will absolutely admit, it was a hard subject to discuss without it affecting me emotionally and mentally, and sometimes even physically.  September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and as we sit here on the last day of this month, let’s not go into October and the rest of our months ahead forgetting about this subject . . . let’s always have it on our minds that we can help bring awareness to this every day!  A small or big impact is still an effort to help people truly know how this affects families all over the world.

“Your child has cancer”

How many parents have heard these scary words?  One, one hundred, one thousand . . . I am going to tell you it is in the millions!  It is a very sad statistic that most of us do not want to hear or face.  The truth is, we really don’t know all of the facts behind childhood cancer so let me share with you . . . and please keep reading, even if you’re uncomfortable . . . these kids deserve our undivided attention.

Childhood cancer affects all children; it does not matter your race, gender, socioeconomic status . . . it affects EVERYONE!  This is a very sad truth, and one that we need to open our eyes to!  It isn’t a “choose one kind of child” kind of cancer . . . it is definitely affecting every child.  And it is nearly impossible to prevent . . . and I am going to be blunt right now, but I am going to ask for anyone to refrain from commenting that one carrot juice, or one vitamin, or one day in the sun, or anything for that matter, will help prevent or cure cancer!  It is not that you are not entitled to your opinion; it is that I have friends who have dealt with or are still dealing with their little ones fighting the battle of their lives, and these sort of comments sting . . . do we not actually believe that if there were an absolutely one hundred percent miracle carrot juice, it would be given to every child and every parent would be sure of doing that?  Sooooo I say this with the most respect, please do not comment on prevention, treatments or cures . . . I know that every parent will do what is right for their child, from the strength they have and with the love in their hearts!

The numbers . . . can we talk about these numbers . . .

1600 CANADIAN CHILDREN ARE DIAGNOSED EACH YEAR

1 OUT OF 5 WILL NOT SURVIVE THEIR DIAGNOSIS

1 OUT OF 3 WILL NOT LIVE OUT A NORMAL LIFESPAN

95% OF SURVIVORS WILL HAVE CHRONIC HEALTH PROBLEMS

THERE IS A 29% INCREASE IN INVASIVE PAEDIATRIC CANCERS IN THE LAST 20 YEARS

4% OF GOVERNMENT CANCER RESEARCH DOLLARS GO TO CHILDHOOD CANCER

2 DRUGS ARE APPROVED FOR THE TREATMENT OF CHILDHOOD CANCER IN THE PAST 20 YEARS

Let all of that sink in.  Can you even process that 4% of government cancer research dollars go to childhood cancer . . . only 4%?  How is this even okay?  How are we not giving more?  These little ones are our future, and I believe that we need to fight for more money, more research, so that we can make sure that what these beautiful little beings go through will not keep happening!  Do you know that in 6 years, 77 new drugs for adult cancers have been introduced and in 77 years, only 3 new drugs for childhood cancers?  (This information was taken from Solving Kids Cancer).  How is this okay?  How is this happening?  77 years?  3 drugs?  My heart literally sank when I read these statistics!

Now the hard numbers to read . . . hold your heart for this one . . . 46 kids are diagnosed each day, that is 2 every hour.  Every time  you sit down on your comfy couch to watch an episode of your favourite comedy show, the opening credits would scream “Your child has cancer” and the ending credits would shout “Your child has cancer”.  Could you imagine that?  No, I couldn’t either but it is a reality and factual and something that we do need to embrace and bring so much more awareness to!  Clearly, childhood cancer research is completely underfunded and it is needed more than 4%!  Every day, every hour, there are children dying of cancer around this world, and we have just given 4%???  I don’t want to see another child lose their life to cancer because there isn’t enough awareness or funding!  We need to keep the awareness going, and there is one person who I am grateful and proud to call my friend, that I believe is bringing this to the forefront of everyone and will definitely change that number!

Mitch, 5 years old

Kathleen Head is a friend, and a fierce hard loving momma!  Her little boy, Mitch, is fighting a battle with leukaemia. He is a brave little fighter, with the cutest smile, and cheeriest of personalities!  He has just started kindergarten, and let me tell you, he is a hero in all of our eyes!  He still has a battle ahead of him for the next two years, and his strength is pushing him through!  We just honoured Terry Fox, and did our annual school wide run to keep Terry Fox’s memory and dream alive, and let me tell you, there were many people honouring our little hero Mitch!  Each student was given a colouring page with a “runner” on it to represent the run and miles Terry Fox ran to raise awareness for cancer . . . and students are able to write a name of someone they are running for on this shoe.  What a heart filled moment it was to walk down the hallway and see these beautifully coloured pages on the wall, with the majority of the students choosing to write Mitch’s name on their shoes!  Wow, just wow!  Kathleen is bringing these statistics to the forefront, and raising awareness for all of us to know that we can make a difference!  We can be the change to these numbers!

It is in every school, in every neighbourhood, in every community, in every home . . . childhood cancer is present!  Look at Mitch’s face . . . please remember his fight, and let it be a reminder that we can make the difference of supporting the awareness that needs to happen in order for these numbers to change.  If you know of a family who is being affected by childhood cancer, look at their little ones and remember you can change the numbers!  As a community, as a city, as a province, as a country, let’s not let the number stay at 4% . . . let’s move that darn number and get these kids their health and childhood back!

How can I help?

You may be asking this question . . . and I thank you from the bottom of my heart if you are!!!  There are many ways you can help . . .

  1. Donate blood!  The shortage of blood is at an extreme high right now, and we need more donations than ever!  If you’re a viable candidate, please donate; we need you to!  You can click here to find out how you can make a difference!
  2. Write to your political leader!  This can be so impactful . . . it takes a wee bit of time to write to your leaders, and I promise one voice or many voices can be heard and change so many things!  Click here to find out more information on who your elected official is.
  3. Donate to childhood cancer charities! Gaby Davis Foundation   is amazing; it has helped so many families dealing with children who have been diagnosed with cancer.  Another great place to donate is Tour de Coast; police officers and emergency personnel bike for two weeks to raise awareness and money for cancer!  Other great places to donate are Balding for Dollars and Peds Oncology.  Please click on any of these incredible links to donate or learn how to get involved!
  4. Wear a yellow ribbon!  Someone may very well see you wearing a yellow ribbon and know what it means, or might not, and that just may open up a conversation and bring awareness!  A small little yellow ribbon can definitely help!
  5. Do a charity drive or organize a pub night!  You can raise money yourself, and choose which charity to donate to!  Get a few friends and/or families and organize a charity drive or a pub night!  A day filled with fun or a night filled with friends goes a long way in helping out these kids and charities!

Let’s all of us try to change that 4% . . . it takes a village for one child, so let’s take the world for all the kids who have been diagnosed!  We can change it . . . we can do it!!!

Ultimately, people need to face reality.  Childhood cancer exists.  It’s ugly, sad and uncomfortable.  It shouldn’t be swept under the rug.”  Kathleen Head

Those powerful words will forever remain embedded in my mind.  I am the first to admit when I saw the hashtag “#morethanfour” I had no idea what it meant . . . well I do now, and I am grateful to Kathleen for raising so much awareness to this ugly and sad, and definitely uncomfortable subject of childhood cancer.  It is reality . . . and a reality that we can change . . . so let’s do it for Mitch, and for all those brave little heroes so we can see their smiles shine brighter and brighter in this amazing world!

Love love love, LC

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Living Like I’m Going To Die!

Be in love with your life, every minute of it!  Jack Kerouac

Are you truly in love with your life?  Every minute of it?  Kerouac’s words resonate with me, and I can honestly say, I truly am in love with my life, every minute of it!

Is life perfect?  Absolutely not!  If it was, welllllll, that would just be so boring!  Is life adventurous, around every corner, bend and turn?  Absolutely it is!  And that’s what it makes it the most amazing ride ever!  And the only ride you’ll ever be on that the end destination is one that is guaranteed to us all . . . death.

I have had a hard time accepting that one destination . . . death, the very word itself, scares me.  It is a word that has so much sadness attached to it, and so much of the unknown.  When will we die?  Where do we go after we die?  What awaits us?  These are all questions with so many different answers for so many of us in this great big world.  And I absolutely love love love that we each are able to have our own beliefs on where our destination ultimately takes us . . . I love the freedom of choice 🙂

I have seen death and I have felt death . . . my first experience with death was my Zio (Uncle in Italian 😉 ).  He was an amazing man; one of those Italian Zio’s that you love because of how genuine and authentic he was.  I remember I was twelve years old, and I didn’t understand the concept of death, but just understood that it was concrete, and that I would never see my Zio again.  This shook my belief system, and just made me feel empty.  As years passed, and family members and friends died, I started realizing that us humans are definitely not as “untouchable” as I had thought.

I think the hardest part of losing someone, isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them.  Always try filling the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go.  sd.

A childhood friend of mine passed away a few days ago, and now in my forties (yes this will be the one and only time I admit my age . . . maybe 😉 ), I am grateful that she gave me the reminder to live life to it’s fullest, and truly keep being in love with my life!  Every moment that passes, we have a choice to make . . . will it be to choose happiness and let things go, will it be to choose misery and let everything bother us, or will it be to choose a balance between living with happiness and misery, and accepting it all as lessons we get to go through?  I choose the balance of life itself . . . I love love love choosing to be happy, yes choosing to be happy.  Some days you wake up and stub your toe . . . what do you do?  You could curse and be miserable the rest of the day because darn it, that bed post got in your way, and the world is miserable, and why did this happen, and blah blah blah!  Orrrrrr you can choose to see it as the stubbing of your toe was a little reminder to show you that you’re alive and well, and that thank goodness it was your toe and not your knee cap and that you can still walk and get to where you’re needing to go . . . and still appreciate all the moments!  It is amazing how one moment of your day can shift all emotions . . . happy or miserable!  You get the choice!  So today, and onwards, I choose to honour my friend who has passed away, and all those who have left us far too soon, and choose happiness . . . happiness for the rest of my days 🙂

Death is very real, and one day I will face it too.  Let’s hope not anytime soon because this girl here is still wanting to make waves and move mountains soooooooo world, hold on to me a little longer, I’m coming for you 😉  As Margaret Atwood stated, “In the end, we’ll all become stories.” I want to make sure mine is a good one!!!

Love love love, LC

 

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Fantabulous Nonni!

“The best part of getting old is having nipoti”

These words spoken are from my wonderful parents!  Those words have never been more true to witness!  I see the love that my parents have for my kids, and I see it on a daily basis!  They could spend the whole day with the kids, and the minute they leave, my parents miss them like crazy!  That is love, deep and fierce love!  My boys are so lucky to experience this love!

Grandparents Day is a special day that allows us to celebrate those who have had the privilege of growing old and seeing their families grow!  I believe grandparents should be celebrated every day . . . I am grateful that my boys have their Nonni to support them, love them, encourage them and spoil them!  It is the most amazing thing to see – the bond between my boys and my parents is one that can never be broken, and one that will definitely live on for many many many years!

I love love love that my kids get spoiled by their Nonni!  We love seeing the appreciation that they have when they are around their Nonni . . . there is no expectation, just appreciation!  That is the key – always reminding the future generation to most definitely appreciate what they get, rather than expect it.  The world doesn’t owe them anything . . . rather, the world is there for the taking!  And I love that my parents have a part to play in teaching my boys this!

Nonni ti vedano nascere sapendo che forse ti lascera prima degli altri . . . forse e per questo che ti ama piu degli altri!

Grandparents see you being born knowing that they may leave you before all others . . . maybe that’s why they love you more than all of the others!

I have enjoyed these last 14 years watching my parents become Nonni, and enjoy every minute!  The moments they have had that have turned into memories have been priceless!  All the moments like Nonno teaching all about the garden to Nana teaching all about the cooking . . . it’s incredible to watch!  I appreciate all the time and energy, and patience, given and I will never forget it! Here is to many more moments and adventures . . . I love love love that we have the opportunity to create them together!  

Love love love, LC

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And just like that, it was over!

Summer is over . . . time to officially remember what day of the week it is!

Goodbye summer . . . hello school routines, packed lunches, early mornings, and taxi mom!  LOL!  Wow, summer just flew by in the blink of an eye!  It feels like we had a super long spring break, not a summer vacation at all!  I just can’t believe today was the first day back at school!!!  Well, not exactly the first day back . . . today was just attendance 😉

I always love the first day back; I love love love seeing the boys with their friends, their smiles and their energy!  It is pretty great!  I also, selfishly, love love love seeing my mommy friends and seeing their smiles too!  It is such a great feeling being surrounded by an amazing community!  Love it here so much!!!

I have to admit, the frantic mornings aren’t my cup of tea, but that’s what makes the memories!  We are that family that strives for the routine and structure in the morning, and almost get it 99% of the time!  LOL!  The other 1% is the “hurry up and brush your teeth for the seventeenth time!”  It never fails that the most used sentence in our house is . . . wait for it . . . guarantee you have all said it . . . “We are going to be late!!!”  LOL!  We always make it on time, or earlier . . . I believe time should be respected to the highest level!  And so far so good with our timing, but it’s a habit that we always say it!

Now the packed lunches . . . if there was a super power that I could have, it would be to pack lunches in my sleep so that they would be amazing, healthy and ready for us in the morning!!!  They truly are the thorn in my side!!!  It sometimes is a challenge with what to pack; I totally understand that appetite mood swings are real and exist!!!  Have you ever packed a sandwich in the morning because you felt like it but noon comes around and you look at it and think, “Hmmmmm, don’t really love you right now . . . kinda wish I packed that leftover pasta from last night!”  Ya, all the time!  LOL!  So I get that my little humans have those appetite mood swings too!!!  I am determined this year to make sure that I can find some healthier snacks and meals that will be easy to make, and loved by my boys!  I will keep you posted 😉  And if you have any amazing suggestions, please leave them in the comments . . . I would love to learn!!!

Tomorrow is the first official day of school for my kidlets . . . I am excited to get in the full swing of things again, and know that they will have their friends surrounding them every day for the next 10 months . . . but I am counting down until the next summer vacation 😉 LOL!  I will miss my sleep ins . . . until next year 😉

. . . and all at once, summer collapsed into fall

Love love love, LC

 

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“Donut” Worry, Be Happy :)

“Donut” let anyone tell you that summer is almost over!!!  I am going to live in denial for a little longer, and not believe that the first of September has approached us so quickly!  And to celebrate this denial, I decided a little adventure would do the trick 😉

Cartems Donuterie . . . have you heard of them?  If you haven’t, well, let me tell you, you soooooooo need to get to one!  I can’t even begin to put into words just how incredibly delicious these donuts are . . . but I will try!

It all started when Jordan Cash, owner of Cartems Donuterie, had a dream of opening up a donut shop!  Simple as that!  I, and many millions of others, are grateful that he had that dream because there are now three Cartems Donuterie locations for us all to enjoy these delicious creations!  All of Cartems donuts are made daily from scratch, are free of trans-fat, and even their glazes and fillings are natural!  They even have vegan and gluten-free options – seriously, they are incredible!!!

What’s even more amazing?  The vibe the space gives you . . . we walked in and right away it was instant happiness!  Yes, I saw the donuts first, and that made my smile huge, but I promise, just being in there for a few seconds, it was pure joy!  I looked around and the coolest thing was there were so many different people of all different ages!  That’s when you know you’ve come to the right place; it truly is for everyone!!!  Cartems motto is about three things: “smiles, conversations and donuts” and all three definitely were happening when we walked in!  There were two little old ladies as sweet as the donuts, hanging out choosing some donuts!  There was a younger girl on her laptop, probably finishing up a blog, or a paper for school, and there were a variation of all other ages of individuals around, smiling and having conversations while eating a donut!  It was awesome!!!  I met Patrick and Nathan, who worked there, and they were also just so wonderful!!!  They were so kind, helpful, and so patient while we made our choices of which donuts we wanted to try!  As we were drooling, they were so sweet, and never made us feel like we needed to hurry!  We decided to buy a dozen . . . you will too once you go there 😉  And oh my goodness, I promise we didn’t eat them all . . . we had a family of five that day 😉

So we each chose ones that we wanted to devour, and then had a few to “take home” and eat after the children go to bed!  LOL!  I chose the Salted Caramel Donut . . . oh the flavour of this donut . . . you taste the chocolate, and then the hint of salt, and then boom, it all comes together like a beautiful firework in the sky!  So so so bang on in flavours!  (No pun intended 😉 )

My hubby Garth chose the Apple Fritter (which is Jordan Cash’s favourite) . . . he described it as being excellent, with crispy caramelized sugar and fresh apple with cinnamon!  It was perfection for him!  I snuck a bite, and let me tell you, it absolutely was perfection!!!

My mom came along for the adventure and she chose the Smoked Maple Walnut; her description was the best!  She told me it had a nice fresh taste, and it doesn’t taste stale like the “other place”!  LOL!  I totally know exactly what she was talking about, and I bet you all do too!  I love my Italian Mama!  No filter!  She ROCKS!!!  She said that this donut would be a great addition to any coffee!  That’s awesome!!!

So my boys – they are the most unfiltered and will tell me if they LOVE LOVE LOVE something, or if they really dislike something! Love their honesty 😉  So my oldest chose the Original Donut . . . he described it as “original” and so good!  Great words from a teenager! He said, “Knowing that this isn’t ‘bad’ for me makes it even better!”  Yes, he is already planning our next trip to Cartems!  LOL!  He said it had a slightly different taste, but in a really good way; it didn’t taste “fake” or processed!  Super good insight!!!  Loved that he was able to tell the difference!  My youngest chose the Chocolate Glazed; of course he did!  He loves anything chocolate!!!  When I asked him to describe his donut he said, “It is very chocolatey, very messy and you said it was healthier for me so can I please have two?” LOL!  Again, love the honesty from my kids’ mouths!!!  He said it tasted like an explosion of good taste in my mouth!  Yup, he hears me and my descriptions a lot 😉 So even kids LOVE the healthier donuts!  Win win!!!

Other flavours that we chose were a Coconut Cream Stuffie (this is by far the most delicious of all . . . it is filled with vegan coconut custard and coated in a lychee glaze – are you drooling yet???), Earl Grey Donut, White Chocolate Peach and a London Fog! Seriously, I just want to go back right now!!!  LOL!

I have to say that these donuts are the best I have ever tried!  We hit a bunch of donut shops last summer and tried a few here and there and nothing even comes close to these!  I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to go check out Cartems!  “Donut” ever think we are going anywhere else . . . Cartems, we will be back for sure!!!

Love love love, LC

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Bonnie Tyler was with me this morning!!!

Once upon a time I was falling in love, but now I’m only falling apart . . . and there’s nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart!

Okay who sang that while they read it?  LOL!  Yup, that was me this morning, singing Bonnie Tyler’s lyrics to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” while watching the 2017 Solar Eclipse!  Now, I did try to use different words to suit the day, but either way, my boys were just looking at me like “Ummmm, what happened to Mom?”  Hahahahaha, I guess they didn’t hear my Celine Dion-esque voice at all 😉

What a huge buzz about the solar eclipse today . . . everyone around was so excited, and it was all over the television, internet, radio . . . everywhere!  Kind of cool that the last time this happened was 38 years ago, on February 26th, 1979!  I was just two years old; I totally remember it!  LOL!  Just kidding – I absolutely don’t remember it!  And I can guarantee my mom kept me indoors, closed every window and drew every curtain so that I wouldn’t look directly at the sun and scorch my retinas!!!  I am so glad that the last couple of days have had multiple warnings of what could happen if you look directly at the eclipse without proper eye protection!  It is scary to think that your eyes could get so damaged 🙁 Fortunately most of us have the means to see all of these warnings so hopefully nobody harmed their eyeballs today!

I saw a project on Pinterest (gosh I love love love Pinterest) that would allow us to see the eclipse while having our backs to the sun and moon!  It was fairly easy to make . . . all we needed was two pieces of white cardstock, some aluminum foil, tape and a pin! 

Easy peasy instructions:

Cut a hole in the middle of one of the pieces of cardstock.

Tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole.

Make a tiny hole in the middle of the aluminum foil with a pin.

Take your two pieces of cardstock outside (the plain one and the one with the aluminum foil).

Place the plain piece of cardstock against a surface (we used our garage door).

Hold the piece of cardstock with aluminum foil to face the plain piece of paper (your back should be to the sun).

You will see the solar eclipse happening right in front of your eyes on the plain piece of paper!

It was so incredible to see this happening!  I love love love science and all it holds!  It amazes me that we get to experience things like this . . . I was so happy my boys and their friends were outside watching with me, and being excited about it too!  The next time we will be able to see another total eclipse is April 8, 2024 . . . not bad, I think I’ll still be ticking and alive and well 😉 But sadly, it will not be visible in Western Canada; the next time Vancouver will see another will be in the year 2771!  Hmmmmmm, I think I might be non-existent by then 😉 Soooooo I am very happy I got to witness this today!!!  Hope you did too!

Love love love, LC

 

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It’s Been A Slice!

A party without CAKE is just a meeting!

Those words spoken by Julia Child couldn’t be truer!!!  Cake is one of the most versatile foods that has a place in all of our hearts, and a place at every table!  Whether it is to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, have as a pick-me-up because of a “moosh” day you’re having, or to enjoy just because!  Cake always makes it better!

Now the reason I am writing about cake is because I had the best and most funniest (yes I realize that is not an actual word but I love love love it and will continue using it 😉 ) moments out tonight with a few of my best friends!  We were at Orrange (a great little restaurant in Port Coquitlam . . . I will write a blog post about it one day in the near future 🙂 ) having some appies with drinks, and enjoying seeing each other because sometimes the summer months make it a little more difficult to just get away and visit!!!  This restaurant is the perfect place to just relax, have some great food, and feel like your miles away from your little bubble 😉

We had finished our food and drinks, and the most loveliest waitress asked if we wished to have dessert . . . well, ummmmm YES!  I asked what they offered and as soon as she said “Strawberry Shortcake”, I belted out “I’ll take one of those!” I was so excited to try this delicious sounding cake!!!  Upon arrival of my dessert, it looked divine!  The cake was perfectly cut in a triangle, and the fresh strawberries sat on top of a heaping pile of whip cream . . . is your mouth watering yet???  And there was chocolate sauce drizzled on the cake and plate . . . or what I thought was chocolate sauce 😉

I took a bite of this delectable looking cake . . . hmmmmm, strange tangy jolt in my mouth, so I tried another bite!  Again, a little zangy sting on my tongue . . . has the whip cream gone bad, I thought to myself?  Now I thought I was going a little mad when I took a third bite, and it was not sweet, or tasty . . . just quite sour!!!  So I asked my girlfriend . . . “Can you please just try this sauce?”  She tried it, and yep, same reaction!  It was balsamic vinegar!!!  Now, the reason I was getting such a punch of this vinegar is because me thinking it was chocolate sauce, I was smearing tons of it all over my fork and piece of cake and then trying to relish it all in one big bite!  LOL!

The waitress came over and I asked her if she could please let me know what this was!  She was also shocked that balsamic vinegar would be on a cake!  She took it back to the kitchen, and we waited!  Bless her heart . . . she came back and let me know that she had spoken to the kitchen manager and he had said that it was supposed to be a balsamic reduction!  What???  Serious???  For realzies???  I was laughing so hard at this point, and so was she!!!  I definitely have heard of strawberries in balsamic vinegar – they are quite tasty . . . but never with cake and whip cream!  LOL!  So needless to say, I didn’t go any further with the cake – we parted ways and ended our cake/love relationship!  Maybe my palette isn’t so fine . . . I blame it on my choice of ribs and poutine to start 😉 Yes, this was a great “cheat” night!

Orrange was absolutely wonderful about the whole thing, and we just giggled at it!  I am grateful to have made some memories tonight and to have learned that sometimes it’s okay to try new things, and not like them so much 😉 LOL!

Love love love, LC

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Refreshing Afternoon with Parkside Brewery!

What to do on a Wednesday afternoon while your husband is home from work, and your kids are with their friends?  Well, you go have a beer of course 😉

Parkside Brewery is where we chose to meet with some friends, and have a fun afternoon!  Parkside is located in Port Moody, on “Brewer’s Row”, right across the street from Rocky Point Park!  It literally was named because of the park!!!

Upon entering Parkside, it is very evident that this brewery is for everyone!  It rings true to what it stands for that it is one of the breweries that has a backyard feel to it while enjoying the sunshine outside sitting at one of their old school style picnic tables, a basement feel while enjoying some shuffle board that is to the left upon entering (and they have a video arcade game too), a pub style feel while sitting outside on the front patios while your dog enjoys the area provided for pets, and a home away from home style while sitting inside looking at the tile used for the backsplash and it reminding you of a kitchen that once was!  Sitting at this brewery truly made me feel at home; the sights and sounds of music playing, people chatting, kids giggling and dogs barking all made it what Parkside represents . . . the epitome of what a brewery should be . . . inviting for everyone 🙂 

I ordered a “flight of beers” to taste; this makes it fun because if you don’t want to commit to a full glass that you have never tried, this is your passage way!!!  Grab four different beers and let your taste buds lead the way!  I shared my “flight” with my friend, so I was excited to sample two of the four!

The first I tried was a guest beer from Howe Sound . . . a Blueberry Wheat Ale!  Oh my goodness gracious this beer was divine yumminess!  My taste buds did a little dance 😉 I enjoyed the hint of blueberry and that it wasn’t an overwhelming sweet beer! Definitely a two thumbs up! I could see this being a favourite of mine for the summer season 😉

The second beer I tried was the Dim Wit Belgian Witbier . . . it is a definite refreshing summer beer!  It’s light with good flavour for those who don’t necessarily like a “hoppy” beer, and goes down quite smoothly!

I am by no means a beer connoisseur but boy oh boy do I ever want to be!  I didn’t like beer before . . . it was always a bitter taste and it all tasted similar!  Now mind you, it was not your craft beer; it was your average big brewery “no flavour” beer for the sake of drinking beer!  I am love love loving craft beer – the creative minds behind Parkside Brewery beer have created the epitome of what beer is, and the attention to taste and quality sure shows when you see it poured from the tap with the colour shining through!

And one little thing that I definitely saw that I absolutely loved was the bathroom decals on the doors!  I’m all about detail and these did not go unnoticed . . . 

My goal is to visit more breweries and learn all about how beer is crafted, and the process involved!  I can’t wait to share those adventures with you!  Do you have a  favourite brewery I should visit?  Let me know in the comments (just click on the title above to do so)!  Here is “hopping” to find more breweries and tasty beers ahead!

Love love love, LC

 

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What did the Concierge say to me?

What are you going to write about that hasn’t already been written about Whistler?” said the concierge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler to me!  I could have taken that as a rude, discouraging and belittling comment, but I chose to take it as a challenge for me to write something that hasn’t been written about!  And let me tell you, I can guarantee you that nobody has ever written about MY trip to Whistler with one of my best friends and her family!  LOL!  Let me share with you some of the fun adventures I have had the last couple of days on my family vacation!  Hold on tight because today’s post is going to be a loooooooonnnnnng one . . .

Whistler is one of the most beautiful, fun-filled, exciting cities that absolutely has everything for the single person, the married couple, or the family of however many to enjoy something little to something grand!  I love love love how there is simply something for everyone in this little gem of a city!  It feels like you are in your “home away from home”!  And it truly is what you make of it, and the one thing that makes me smile the most is all the stone-paved walkways throughout the village that take you from one amazing place to another to see all the different sights that Whistler has to offer!

Day One – Thursday August 10th

We started our adventure hitting the road early Thursday morning, with our Starbucks in hand, and loving the drive up!  The drive to Whistler is breathtaking . . . the views of the ocean, mountains, sky . . . just gorgeous!  It didn’t take long to get to our fantabulous destination of Whistler from our home . . . but we always stop at the Sea-to-Sky Gondola for some fun, and that is where half of Thursday takes us!

The Sea-to-Sky Gondola in Squamish is a yearly tradition that I don’t think we could ever get sick of; being at the top of the mountain feels like you are on top of the world . . . looking out from the viewing deck makes me realize how big the world is, and how there is so much out there . . . and that is just looking out at a portion of this world!!!  It is nothing compared to the grand scheme of things, however, it does something to your heart and soul while taking in everything that view has to offer!!!

We started up with the Gondola, and arrived at the top!  During the ride up, one my best friends, Sarah, and I sang our hearts out!  We do this every year . . . now I’m not sure if it’s because we don’t want to acknowledge how far up we are, or if it just is something we started doing, and continue to do . . . I am going to say it’s because of the first 😉  It was still a smokey filled sky, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating the views that nature had given us that day!  We crossed the Sky Pilot bridge to get to the trails that eventually lead us to the “Chief and Squamish Valley” viewing platform!  There is where the magic happens . . . the views, the heights, the nature . . . just the absolute picture perfect moments!  After a short hike around the numerous trails, we had some lunch and beers at the Summit Restaurant!  Then back down the mountain in the Gondola, and we were on our way toWhistler!

We arrived at our hotel, the grand Fairmont Chateau Whistler!  What a beautiful picturesque hotel!  It had all of the “wow” factors but it also had such a welcoming family-oriented feel to it!  We checked in and quickly settled into our room, which was on the sixth floor, with what I like to call, a view not like ours at home 😉  It was charming and definitely Whistler style!  We changed out of our sweaty and dirty hiking clothes, and nestled into the complimentary robes available for us to use during our stay at the Fairmont!  We had a little down time before our next adventure, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it . . . let me put it this way, I have never eaten so much in my entire life!!!

The Four Seasons Whistler Resort & Residence offers a “Signature Backyard BBQ” series in their Sidecut Modern Steak & Bar Restaurant every Thursday from 5 to 9pm, from the end of June until the beginning of September!  We had heard about this through Instagram, and of course were intrigued and wanted to try it out!  Well, it proved to be amazing and didn’t disappoint us at all!!!  It was truly a backyard feeling, with red and white checkered tablecloths, and family style seating!  There was a live band performing, Big Mountain Rhythm; Matt King and Jeff Van Driel make up this incredible duo band that have been performing together since 2009!  Their music coupled with the smell of the barbecued food and the energy of everyone around us was indescribable and so perfect!!!  Needless to say, I am so glad I wore a dress because I was stuffed!  The spread at this “all-you-can-eat” buffet included red cabbage slaw, summer squash pasta salad, spinach and watermelon salad with a balsamic blue cheese reduction, grilled vegetable salad bar, baked beans with chorizo and jalapeno, cornbread with kimchi, quinoa chilli, rigatoni with cheese, broccoli and chilli flakes, bbq spiced falafel with tea saison, hot sauce and tzatziki, flank steak with chimchurri, smoked pork belly, rescue ale pulled pork, marinated lamb leg, smoked porter bbq pork ribs, windrose spicy bbq beef ribs, dry rubbed bbq chicken, Italian sausage, fingerling potato with method pale ale braised cabbage, lemon gin bbq salmon, and bourbon blood orange mussels with orange fennel and leeks! Is your mouth watering yet?  And for dessert, they had ginger lime cheesecake mousse, warm chocolate pudding and fruit salad!  Oh my goodness it was quite the spread!!!  I won’t say how many times I went up but let’s just say it was more than once 😉 Included in this amazing event for the first year ever were breweries with their craft beer . . . Steel & Oak Brewing Company, Bridge Brewing Company, Whistler Brewing Company and Yellow Dog Brewing Company all represented with some of the tastiest craft beers I have ever tried!  My four top favourites were the Kaffee from Steel & Oak, the Quaywi Sour from Bridge, the Grapefruit Ale from Whistler and the Shake a Paw from Yellow Dog!  Love love love these breweries!  What a great way to end our first night!

Day Two – Friday August 11th

Ahhhhh pool day . . . we had been waiting for this day!!!  The pool layout at the Fairmont is quite perfect . . . the big pool for everyone, which includes a shallow end inside the hotel for the littles to play, three hot tubs (one of which is solely for adults), and a lap pool! Something for everyone who wishes to be in the water!  We all met down at the pool and claimed our seats . . . the hotel has a 30-minute rule where if you leave your chair unattended for more than 30 minutes, they will give your seat to others who are waiting; I actually love and respect that rule!!!  We were always very conscious of our time 😉  The temperature of the water was always just right . . . not once did we ever hear the kids complain; that was our gauge LOL!  One of my very favourite moments was when a group of cutie patootie older ladies were doing a water aerobics class, and Sarah and I joined them!  Oh it was loads of fun!  We were giggling as the instructor encouraged us with each step and each lunge!  A sweet lady in the front turned around and said, “There is way too much laughing going on back there!”  The instructor smiled, looked at us and said, “Translation, she loves it!”  LOL!  It was quite the treat to work out with these amazingly powerful women!  We survived all of 15 minutes while these women kept going strong for an hour!!!  We sat poolside watching our children play in the water for hours and it was splendid!

Another exciting adventure that we jumped into was at Whistler’s Original Escape Rooms!  I was so excited to try to escape a room with my family; all I kept on thinking was that this would be a true test and trial of our “working together” and not fighting!!!  Well, I was so surprised and happy to get through it with us truly working together!!!  We chose the Rabbit Hole Escape Room; it is loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, and we envisioned the Rabbit running by and us following it . . . he dived into the tree hole, and we followed it!  As we entered the room, it was like we walked into a page from Alice in Wonderland!  It was so magical, and so vibrant, all I wanted to do was emerge myself into the story and find that stinking White Rabbit!  LOL!  We all helped one another with the clues, and contributed to each clue and hint!  If you haven’t heard of an escape room, the premise behind them is that you are locked (not really, you can always ask to leave) in a room(s) and you follow clues and hints to get you through to the next room, and eventually if you get through all of them successfully, you escape!!!  We asked for hints (you’re allowed 😉 ) and we were minutes away from escaping!!! Sadly, we didn’t succeed, but we had fun trying to!  Our time was up and the amazing staff came in and let us know what the last of our moves should have been to escape . . . we were soooooo close!  Next time we will escape 😉

Dinner time took us to a wonderful restaurant . . . Pizzeria Antico!  Oh is this ever the most incredible pizza place!!!  It truly defines the art of traditional pizza and pasta!  It has such an Italian vibe to it, and the wood burning ovens give it its authenticity to creating the most savory and delicious pizzas!  We ordered the Margherita pizza, which has tomato sauces, fior di latte, parmigiano and basil!  Oh sweet angels singing above, it was divine!!!  We also had a taste of the Diavola pizza, which has tomato sauce, Calabrese salami, fresh fior di latte, parmigiano, and red onion!  Again, taste buds were singing their own version of “Hallelujah!”  We also tried the Gnocchi di Antico, which were made from Pemberton potatoes with garlic tomato sauce and pecorino cheese!  Definitely not disappointing, but I have to admit, these were not like my Mama’s; the gnocchi still disappeared off the plate 😉  Pizzeria Antico is definitely a place to venture to for a taste of Italy – you will not regret it!!!!

The day ended with us and the kids in the hot tub, just reflecting on what had seemed like 5 days of vacation already, in a good way, and getting excited for what was to come the next day!  That is what I love love love about Whistler . . . anything and everything around you is always exciting!  We had a little time to walk around the village before our Escape Room adventure, and that was tons of fun!  Watching all walks of life passing us by, and each of them with smiles!  It is amazing to see that!  Sure, there were some little ones who were having tantrums because they didn’t get an ice cream when they wanted it!  We felt a little bad when we scooped up our ice cream from the famous Cows!  Oh this would be one reason I would just drive to Whistler and back home . . . the ice cream from Cows is like no other, absolute hands down truth!!!  Cows started in 1983 and now has 11 stores across Canada, and one in China!  Their old-fashioned recipe has carried on all of these years, and is a true testament to why everyone keeps going back to Cows; it is handmade with the finest of ingredients and is so creamy and fully of yumminess!!!  The flavours are out of this world . . . Apple Crisp, Bubble Gum, Chocolate Cheesecake, Cownadian Maple, Messie Bessie, Royal Cownadian Mint, Sea Salted Toffee and Wowie Cowie are just a few of their delicious choices!!!  Now if only I could have given a wee bit of ice cream to the little ones who were upset that their mommies and daddies wouldn’t get them some, everyone would have big smiles in Whistler 😉

Day Three – Saturday August 12th

Another beautiful morning, and another pool visit!  Seeing my boys enjoying their time in Whistler being care-free is what fills my heart!  Their giggles, their laughs, their smiles, their fun . . . just makes every fibre of my being fill with happiness!  Sitting poolside and watching all of them play and splash was the perfect start to another wonderful day!!!

We headed out to El Furniture Warehouse for lunch after our pool time came to an end!  Now I promise El Furniture Warehouse is a restaurant; I questioned it at first wondering, why would I go to a place to look at furniture?!?!  LOL!  This restaurant screams fabulous and extraordinary!!!  The energy was fantastic, and once again, this restaurant catered to every single person . . . young adults, families, a newly married couple, women on a bachelorette weekend . . . the list goes on!  And the best part . . . wait for it . . . every single item on their menu is $4.95!!!  Yup, you read that correctly . . . $4.95!  El Furniture offers delicious quality food from perogies, which we had and I promise you they were the best perogies I have ever had, to burgers, nachos and salads!  It has one of the most versatile menus . . . it has an item for every single person, even the pickiest of eaters, and I can validate this because I have a little one that is quite picky, and he loved loved loved the fries!!!  Definitely two thumbs up for this place, and a definite must for anyone visiting Whistler!

The afternoon took us all around the main village; we walked and strolled through many of the stores!  My boys each wanted to buy a souvenir from this amazing city, and there were definitely tons of shops to peruse through!  And the little things that you can find are absolutely fantabulous!  My youngest son bought himself a silver necklace with a snow board charm that had “Whistler” engraved on it . . . beautiful piece of jewelry and not badly priced either 😉  My oldest son is heavily passionate about riding bikes, so he purchased himself a pair of bike gloves that he had been eyeing online for quite some time . . . Whistler has everything for everyone!  After looking through many stores, we came upon a man’s voice from the middle of the village, saying “Everyone come join in . . . we are having a hula hoop competition!”  Well, what do you think I did?  Yes you guessed it, I joined in!!!  My son, our family friend, and I joined in the hula hooping fun, and giggled and enjoyed every minute!  Guess how long I lasted?  1 minute?  2 minutes?  Maybe 5 minutes?  I lasted all of 13 seconds!  LOL!  It was quite the show 😉  So many individuals lasted more than 15 minutes, and it all came down to two kids . . . a boy and a girl . . . and the little girl won!  She hula hooped her heart out!!!  The man behind this amazing contest was Ira Pettle!  He had such an energy of an entertainer that I had not seen in forever!  He gathered a crowd, and got everyone clapping and cheering in a matter of minutes!  He was able to engage with the kids, and some of us adults 😉 and truly made it such a fun time!  Check out Ira Pettle’s webpage – he is a pretty spectacular guy!

And now for the greatest thing we have ever seen in Whistler, well it’s at the very top of our list so far . . . . Crankworx!!!  Crankworx started in the early 2000’s, and has been making headlines ever since!  It is a mountain biking festival that is watched worldwide, and every person who watches can’t take their eyes off of these individuals on their bikes, seeing them gain heights off of these dirt slopes and land in what seems like the most effortless way!  It truly is an incredible thing to witness!  I didn’t have the opportunity to chat with an official Crankworx competitor, however, I did meet a huge fan named Dallas Lozoway from Victoria!  He explained what Crankworx was, and how it all works, and how people get involved in it!  It was so great to see his energy and passion for riding while talking to me about it!  He rented a bike for two days, and took in all the trails that Whistler had to offer during this Crankworx event! We chatted about those involved, and just how talented these competitors actually are!  He also told me that this festival is touring four different places in the world this year . . . New Zealand, France, Austria and Canada!  What amazing countries for these athletes to visit, and hopefully try winning the top prize!!!  This mountain biking festival is truly one that every person who has a like or love for riding should watch!  It was such an inspiring moment for my boys; to watch their eyes light up and get bigger as each individual took the course and did tricks and jumps, and land them successfully!  What great moments!  Dallas encouraged me to get my boys involved if they loved it, and also told me I could do it one day!  I giggled, and politely said, “Maybe!”  LOL!  You never know . . . anything is possible, especially after seeing some of the moves these individuals do!!!  A must see for anyone in Whistler over the next week . . . get out there and watch Crankworx!

Tradition tradition tradition . . . we hold true to tradition, and for us, tradition means anytime we are in Whistler, we need a visit to Zogs!  The poutine that they create at Zogs is incredible!  It is so tasty, and the amount of gravy and cheese ratio is perfection!!!  It is the best late night snack ever!!!  Open until midnight or later, Zogs offers a taste of poutine from Whistler that I say is possibly the best poutine there!

To end the night perfectly, we stopped by the Mallard Lounge located in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and picked up a piece of their Rainbow cake!  Since day one, we had been walking passed this lounge, and eyeing this piece of cake!  It just called our name every time we walked by!!!  LOL!  So finally, on the final night of our visit, we decided to grab the very last piece . . . it was meant to be 😉 We decided to take it back to our room, and as a family, we shared this piece of cake . . . and boy did we have an eruption of laughter go along with it!  Now I know it would have been great for me to take the most perfect picture of this cake sitting on the cake platter, or on a pristine white plate so all of the colours would just pop . . . but nope, I decided to have this piece of cake photographed in the “to go box” and grouped with my family!  We shared this cake (plus a coconut raspberry slice which was okay, but definitely not even close to the rainbow one!) while in our pajamas and robes, on our bed, with two forks!  I have never laughed so hard with my kids . . . that right there was worth every cent that cake cost, and more!  The best way to end our time in Whistler!!!  It was the “sweetest” moment for me to hold on to for a lifetime!

Day Four – Sunday August 13th

Morning came fast, and suitcases were quickly packed!  We didn’t say our goodbyes to this gem of a city, but rather said our “see you later” because we knew we were coming back!  There is no way Whistler had seen the last of us!!!  And I still want more experiences to write about, especially since I am holding on the challenge of Mr. Fairmont Chateau Whistler Concierge . . . I will have many more adventures in Whistler to write about that nobody has written about before, I promise!!!

On our way out of Whistler, we made our way into Squamish, and met my incredibly talented friend Deanna Wampler, Digital Engager, at the Squamish Adventure Centre!  What a beautiful building we entered, and the little coffee shop inside was so sweet and inviting! We sat and had the best conversation about life, and blogger life!  She taught me so much in one hour that I don’t think I could ever truly tell her how grateful I am!!!  I am so excited about growing my blog, and continuing to share with you all my adventures and journey through this amazing life!  This trip may be over, but this journey is not over . . . it has just begun!

Love love love, LC

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Greek Salad . . . and it’s Vegan!!!

I have always loved loved loved Greek salad . . . it has been one of my favourite salads to quickly whip up, and enjoy!  It goes great with so many things – chicken, meat, fish, pasta . . . really anything!  I have been trying to be a little more health conscious lately, and am trying to cut out dairy, and possibly meat!  I know, hard right?  It’s what I’ve grown up with – meat, cheese, veggies and pasta . . . an Italian girls dream!  LOL!  Oh and don’t forget the bread 😉

So I decided to make a Greek salad the other day and just eliminate the Feta cheese, because I wanted to try making it a true Vegan Greek salad!  And success!!!!  Below is the recipe . . .

2 tomatoes, half a cucumber, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1/4 red onion, olives, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, and a bit of dried oregano . . . mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!

I have heard that you can buy Vegan Tofu Feta cheese, and that is next on my list to try!  It would definitely add back the Feta flavour I absolutely love!!!

Let me know if you have any Vegan salad recipes that you love . . . leave a link or recipe in the comments, I absolutely would love to hear about them!

Love love love, LC

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