Rooms Less Viewed

Since autumn is slowly encroaching on our lives, we will be spending more time indoors than we did over the summer. Of course I have mentioned some of our more used rooms in previous blogs. But there is also a couple of spaces that we use but just don’t have the pizazz or views that I have shared.

The “Flex Area”

Upstairs in the main section that leads to the bedrooms- we have a squared off “Flex Area”. Our couch fit in the spot under the window perfectly. Our dog loves this location as well. I also put our old plasma television with the PlayStation 4 across from it. The kids can disappear for a bit to watch tv or play games, but still be within yelling distance of the staircase.

It’s also a great area for the VR headset. Our son will put a couple of our Yogibos at the top of the stairs as an added safety when playing. (Although the virtual parameters are set well inside of this and will warn the player if they are crossing the border.)

The “Dining Room”

We have never really used a “Dining Room” as intended. Our last house had such an open concept that we would constantly move our dining table and piano around. In our new house, we opted to put our parlor grand piano and a glass door bookcase in the dining room. This section of the room is hardly used. Except for the dog bed. How come our dog gets two rooms?

A small section of the dining room is devoted to my wife’s work station at this time. She is enjoying facing the back windows and staring at the views whenever she looks up from her monitor. Next summer all of this will move into our front office (which is currently our eldest’s bedroom). For now, it’s a great use of a space we don’t use very often.

Do you use rooms for unintended purposes? Is your dining room a craft room perhaps? Or is a spare bedroom a darkroom for photography? Let me know how you use spaces in your home.

Derby Reach

On Friday evening, my wife and I dropped our two youngest off at skating and headed out for a walk. Since we were in Walnut Grove, we decided to head to Derby Reach for a gentle hike. For those who may be wondering- Derby Reach is a park area located in Northern Langley, BC.

Our walk along the path gave us plenty to admire. Especially as the sun was slowly setting in the west. It added some beautiful light to the trees and landscapes as we walked for about four kilometers. With plenty to see on a beautiful evening, the stroll was a nice way to end the week.

We ended up near the Fraser River at one point. Looking out across the water we’re more trees and the mountains in the distance. This was around our halfway point, so we took a short break before heading back to our car.

By the time we returned to the car, dusk was fast approaching. As was a slight chill in the air. The walk was refreshing and pleasant. There’s something about being out in nature on these paths that just clears your head and invigorates your lungs.

Wookiee Cookie Chaos

This morning I decided to bake some Wookiee Cookies. This is the first time I’ve baked cookies in our new house, so I thought it appropriate to bake my favorite ones.

As I was getting out the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have chocolate chips. So I substituted caramel ones instead. Not a big deal. The milk chocolate chunks go well with almost any type of chips. But then the unthinkable happened.

The tub of sugar fell off the counter and spread everywhere. Tiny granules got in between my toes. You can see my barefoot print in the sugar on our floor. We were already low on sugar, but this put us well past needing to buy some. I cleaned up the mess, and continued on. I was able to salvage 1/2 a cup for my recipe.

My rage meant it was time to play some angry sounding music while I finished baking. White Zombie ended up on my Spotify playing from our TV. Which is kind of fitting as we are a little over a month from Halloween.

In the end the cookies turned out great and the kitchen was super clean. It’s still frustrating when mishaps occur. But such is life.

Starting Autumn Right

Autumn has officially started. All I can say is that we are doing alright as it takes hold and kicks summer to the curb. I have enjoyed the past few days already. The weather has been rather cooperative. Fooling us into thinking summer hasn’t ended.

Even though we have packed up our pool toys and patio furniture- we are getting every last possible day of use in. The last two days, and tomorrow as well, have kept the temperature in the low 20’s. So we’ve kept the pool heated and clean. I’ve spent more time doing laps than I did all summer. The pool is invigorating and relaxing.

Last night, my wife and I sat on our back deck with the fire pit warming us up. We talked and watched the traffic off in the distance as the darkness took hold of the evening. I love seeing the stars above and the city lights off in the distance. A cup of hot chocolate was a nice treat as well.

How are you enjoying the start of fall?

Morning Moon

The views from our home keep enthralling me. The other day was no exception.

I came home from work after a nigh shift and the fog had rolled in. Much like it had the other day. This was a bit different though- as the moon was still visible in the sky.

I zoomed in on my iPhone, but it couldn’t quite make out the moon. However, those colours were amazing. After numerous attempts to get a better photo of the moon, I gave up and retreated to my room.

Right before going to bed for the day, I moved the telescope in our bedroom and aimed towards the moon. I peered through the lens for a bit, entranced by the craters and shadows. I tried to get a photo using my iPhone, but it turned out far too blurry. However, you could still see the shadows on the surface.

It makes me want a better telescope with an attachment to take photos with my iPhone. Perhaps I’ll get one sometime. But for now, I’ll take what I can get. And what I get is beautiful scenery each day that I look out onto the horizon.

Gourmet Mac ‘N Cheese

I did one of those TikTok recipes the other day and it turned out not too bad. It involved using regular boxed KD Mac and Cheese.

You add the noodles to the pot and water to just cover them. At the same time you pour the cheese powder and add the butter. Then you bring it uncovered to a boil until the noodles are softened. It essentially boils the cheese flavor into the pasta.

You don’t need to drain the water since it boils away. Once it’s done, add the milk or heavy cream and shredded cheese. This creates the thickest, cheesiest and most gourmet Mac and Cheese.

I was impressed with how it turned out. It is definitely a side dish next time as it was too much to handle as a bowl by itself. We will try this again one day, but as a snack I will keep to the original way to make boxed KD.

21st Night of September

Today is one of my favorite days. It’s all because of the song “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire. This song is one of those songs that you just know. It is catchy and fun to sing. Do you remember?

It all started back in my days as a manager at Chuck E Cheese’s. The video screen would play Chuck E and his cohorts singing the song. All the while the animatronic Chuck E would sing alongside them. These videos were on loop for a month at a time playing again every few hours. The songs would get droned into your head and the staff would sing along unknowingly. Here’s a link to the C.E.C. Video: CEC September

The other reason I love this song is that my wife’s current coworkers love to “Rickroll” her with it. Every so often they will play the song for her. My wife lights up with joy when she hears it. (Hashtag sarcasm) For her, it is one of those ear worms that she cannot get rid of for ages.

Here is a link to the original video just in case you haven’t seen it before: September. Enjoy your 21st night of September! Ah ee ah!

Oldest, Best Friend

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I attended the wedding of my oldest best friend. I have known him since kindergarten- which is four decades now. My wife has known him half as long, which is still a very long time these days. He is like a brother to me in many aspects.

Sharing in his special day made me feel, well, special. It was a tiny venue of around forty people. It was also quick and to the point. The ceremony happened shortly after 1pm and the reception was immediately after. Everything was completed by 5pm and people began to head home.

I’m genuinely happy for my friend. It seems as though he has finally found the love he was searching for. His new wife also seems to have found in my friend a love that she was yearning for as well. Together they are one of the most perfect couples I have ever seen.

I wish them many more years of happiness and love.

Congratulations William and Vanessa! With love always, Josef.

I Need To Be Better

Around this time every year, I am not the nicest person. I’m especially shitty towards my family. Unfortunately I usually catch myself after I have said or done something hurtful to them.

I have a tough time on a day like today- which would’ve been my father’s birthday. My crummy behavior sprouts up around this time every year and goes until the end of November.

November 25 is the date to be precise- that was the day my father passed away in 2000. Mentally, every year on that date is like a sigh of relief for me. I suddenly can become whole again.

Even though I am aware and acknowledge my shittiness, I still end up overreacting at some of the simplest things. It’s like a couple months of male PMS and I really hate that I am like this. So if I’m a jerk to you (especially my family) please forgive me. I don’t get seasonal depression. I get seasonal asshole.

Foggy Feels

As autumn slowly approaches, the weather starts to turn. The sun disappears for longer. Rain falls more frequently. And the fog rolls in.

Looking out the back window, we get to enjoy being above the fog. Early mornings brings in a breathtaking view. The sun attempts to bring color to the sky as a gentle mist hovers low. Morning fog reminds me that fall is just around the corner.

Soon it will be Halloween. People will have fog machines going in an attempt to recreate a spooky sensation. When I was younger, these machines were mainly used in nightclubs and amusement parks. Now they are readily available and people love them.

Maybe one day I will own one. But it’s not on my agenda at this time. Even though they are inexpensive, I prefer the natural beauty of early morning fog.

Are you excited for autumn? How do you feel about foggy mornings? Are they spooky and pretty?

Let me know in the comments.

Gas Fireplaces

Today was a chilly and rain filled day. After being out shopping, my wife and I came home a tad bit wet and rather cold. So we relit the pilot lights on three of our four fireplaces. We turned the fireplaces on shortly after to burn off some of the summer dust.

Our bedroom boasts a two sided fireplace. For the part facing our bed, we placed a lovely faux sheepskin on the carpet. We love walking across it with bare feet- sliding along the softness. With the fireplace lit, it adds a lovely ambiance while laying in bed.

On the other side of the fireplace we have a painting hung up above that our friend made. There is also a chair by the door which leads to the deck. My wife is hoping to learn how to play her bass guitar while sitting with the fire on and viewing the sky.

Our living room fireplace is the only one with a fan. Which makes sense since it has the largest area needed to heat. Today, I decided to add a smart device to it. Now through Google Home I can turn on the fan and the tv. At Christmas, I’ll add a couple plugs for the trees and have them connected to Google Home as well.

The other fireplace we have in the upper floors of the house is in the office. However, the office is currently our daughter’s bedroom. So I’m not adding a photo, she likes her privacy. But once she moves downstairs, my wife is looking forward to working from home with a lovely fire. Our tenants have the other fireplace which is in the second living room. Soon, that will be our oldest’s personal space.

Having gas fireplaces is a luxury we never knew we needed. Our last home has wood burning fireplaces which we used every winter. After having the fire going today in our living room I did notice that my asthma was not affected. Unlike our previous house where I would be wheezing within an hour.

I love having a fireplace and enjoy the moments hanging around them. The soft warm glow makes me happy inside.

Blister In The Sun

After a hard day of manual labor, I had to take note of my hands. They were rough, dirty and beat up. I was assaulted by blackberry bushes that caught my skin and tore me up. But the worst was the blisters I received from the tools I used.

It may not have been an excruciatingly sunny day, but I broke into a sweat. After my first blister began, I caught myself singing “Blister in The Sun” by Violent Femmes over and over in my head. Let me go why??? I also tried to baby that spot, but the skin quickly tore away, so I gave in to the pain.

My days off are usually filled with chores and work that I do for my family and home. Seeing my rough hands makes me think of my father and how hard he would go to finish his chores. I have a similar trait and when I start something- it needs to be seen to completion.

I still get prideful doing work. Blisters and all.

A Windstorm? Hardly Noticed.

Early this morning we had a windstorm roll through the neighborhood. It was a little gusty still as I headed out this morning. However, I didn’t even notice until I opened the door.

We had a few things blow over, but the 60km/h winds didn’t shake us up like they had in the past. In our previous home we would have been awake all night listening to the trees sway and crack. Not to mention the fear of the damage that would be inflicted on our house and yard.

Trees falling and power out for days on end are a thing of the past. Windy days in our old house are now someone else’s concerns. My wife and I slept peacefully and our home didn’t make a peep. Such a nice change of pace compared to the last 15 years.

Noticing Coincidences

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a version of the Matrix. I’ve been experiencing moments in life that share coincides in unusual ways. Or I should say, I’m noticing the coincidences more.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about Tim Burton’s Batman movies; today a rail car rolled into our yard with a Penguin graffiti mural. I love rail art and enjoy the pictures that are A little different.

The other week when I got my new iPhone, I changed my background to a Matrix theme. A few days later a new trailer for the fourth Matrix film dropped. There hadn’t been any media surrounding the movie, so my brain was a step ahead.

I’ve also been hearing the term “Making It Up As I Go” a lot lately from song lyrics to tv shows. I know I’m not the first to use the phrase, but it has been the title of my Blog for years now. It’s like when you hear or see your name in places you don’t expect it.

Do you ever notice coincidences and wonder, “Hmmm…”

Creating Ethnic Diversity Through Food

My family and I have a tendency to enjoy food and making meals. We will bbq, deep fry, oven bake, or just eat a sandwich. But many of our favorite meals come from other cultures. Specifically Asian influences.

The biggest reason for us to make food from other countries is to experience the food diversity. Oftentimes the meals also maximizes our ability to feed a family of five. Rice, pasta, vegetables, sauces and soups are a great way to spread the ingredients out.

Sometimes these meals takes us a bit longer to create. Rolling sushi is challenging, but making ramen or a poke bowl is easy. My wife also has some Turkish dishes she makes for us periodically. Using ingredients like chickpeas or eggplant is not something that I grew up with.

In fact my wife sometimes makes fun of me because if I’m making a meal that is essentially “meat and potatoes” I will forget to put in a side vegetable. That was how I grew up. Meat and potatoes. And instant or even microwaveable foods were in our cupboards. Once in a while I’ll buy some classic junk food meals: Pop tarts, KD Mac ‘n cheese, Mr. Noodles, that sort of thing.

But the one my wife hates to enjoy is fried SPAM. That salty canned meat is a guilty pleasure that most of my family enjoys. The idea of canned meat makes me think of a time when fresh food was harder to come by. But in reality it’s just a can of meat.

What sort of foods do you enjoy? Do you sample other culture’s cuisines?

Pillars Of Excellence

We have had a couple of wooden pillars in our possession since my days of working at the Home Depot. I bought them for $5 for the pair- which was a great deal considering they were a custom order at $200/each but got cancelled and just sat in the store. The pillars just stayed unpainted and in the way in our last two homes. I never knew what I wanted to do with them.

My wife came up with an idea to finally put them to good use. So I painted them with a couple coats of flat black yesterday. I was glad to see that even after two moves and nearly 20 years- there was no damage done to them.

Now that the columns are painted, I put a piece of tile on the top of each of them and set them up at our front door. We bought a couple of small trees to put on the top. Next week we are planning to buy bigger (and nicer) pots for them.

In the end, I’m happy that the pillars got put to use. I like the idea of using them as a plant stand. They look great outside our front door.

Sky Reflections

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. As the evening entered- the clouds also rolled in. This created a wonderful scene in the sky. Yesterday I did mention that it was The Last Day Of Good Weather.

As I was as getting out of the hammock to head inside and make dinner, I noticed our house. The glass on the railing and the windows were creating a mirror like quality of the skyline. The back of our house was facing the darker sky while above our home was fluffy clouds and blue sky peering through.

Looking at the windows, it just didn’t look real. Yet there it was, a mirror like quality showing the world what the house could see. Both skies were happening at the same time. Truly a spectacle to behold.

I have enjoyed seeing the sky on a regular basis these past few months. I don’t think I will ever lose the wonderment it brings.

Last Of The Good Weather

As the summer draws to an end, the last of the good weather is upon us. These past three months have been nothing short of amazing. A few heat waves thrown in, and a new home with a pool to enjoy the summer sun.

After an afternoon of swimming, I realized I better enjoy my evening outside before starting dinner. There’s a light breeze, a gentle sunset and a singsong of the birds. All of which I am enjoying while I write today’s blog in my hammock. After my swim, I also tossed on my pajamas to create the ultimate comfort.

I’m going to cut today’s blog short as I want to spend some time watching the clouds roll by overhead. It’s so much easier to relax without a screen in front of my face. Besides some music earlier, I haven’t touched my phone all day.

I’m at peace with the world today. It feels good.

The Pathway To Curb Appeal

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working hard at creating “curb appeal” for our home. Most of the summer was too hot to do manual labor in the front yard. During that time, we enjoyed our backyard immensely, and who wouldn’t?

But it finally came time to start with landscaping the front. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had “Yard Envy” of our neighbors. They all had a decade to creat beautiful landscapes. The home we bought- the previous owners put the time and money into the backyard. The gave my wife and I pretty much a blank canvas to do what we want in the front.

All summer we talked and planned. We drew ideas, hit some nurseries, and finally started in the purchasing of plants and such. A few bushes, trees, dirt, cement slabs, and stones have arrived. It has been back breaking work, quite literally. I pushed myself too hard last week and felt it.

After that, my wife put our two youngest to work helping out. I utilized our middle for quite a bit of the work. So naturally I paid her afterwards- much to her surprise. Today, my wife also took a few minutes to assist me. (Do I need to pay her also?)

Here are some of the before pictures of what we have done thus far. We decided to add a stone path along the driveway that leads past the front garden and towards our back gate. I did this all the right way, so I won’t have to try and fix it later on. We dug up the grass, leveled it off, lay down landscape fabric, put in a border, spread some sand, put down the slabs and shoveled the tiny stones all around.

Last week we planted a few of the bushes where we want them to be the centerpieces once we finish pulling up the lawn and adding some garden islands. In fact, we are hoping to remove the entire lawn to create a beautiful, low maintenance garden. That will likely happen next spring.

Today was a delivery of the stones and it only took about two hours to spread it out. The final look of the pathway is amazing. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. I always love a sense of accomplishment when finishing a project. Now on to the next one!

Star Trek Day 2021

Today is Star Trek Day. Which means 55 years ago- the iconic space opera debuted on tv. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me.

I’ve watched all of the movies and majority of the shows. I’m still more of a Star Wars fan, but I do have a soft spot for Star Trek. At age 13, The Next Generation debuted and I fanboyed over it. I’m fact, my first nerd convention was a Star Trek Convention in Vancouver back in 1987. This was a whole new experience that I had no idea I was going to dive into later on in life.

I rejuvenated my love of Star Trek in 2012 when we attended our first big Comic-Con in Calgary. It was here that I saw the entire main cast of ST:TNG on stage sharing stories of yore. It brought me back to my teenage years and the nerdy boy who loved science fiction.

A few years later in Calgary I took the opportunity to meet Wil Wheaton and thanked him for being such a huge part of my youth. I’m sure he has heard that a million times before. On that date, I didn’t have any cosplay on, nor did I stand out much more than a tall adult. His response was a simple, “yeah, cool.” and brushed me off. Like they say- you should never meet your heroes.

But I still hold Start Trek in high esteem. It helped pave the way for science and technology advancements. I seriously feel as if we are halfway between science fiction and science fact when you look at the world around us. Plus Star Trek inspired numerous people to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before. Pushing the limitations of man and human rights in this day and age.

On today of all days I say, “Live long and prosper.”

First Attempt At Foam Pumpkin Carving

I love to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I often spend hours searching for designs and creating my pumpkins. I have been doing it for years now. Check out the links below to view some:

Pumpkins 2020

Stranger Things

Pumpkins 2018

Pumpkins 2017

Pumpkins pre-2016

I recently carved my first craft foam pumpkin. I always wanted to do a more permanent pumpkin that I can display yearly. Since I can spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours carving a live pumpkin, why not have it last longer than a single season?

My wife requested that I do not do a “Fan Art” pumpkin. She wanted me to try and do something more classic and still a bit detailed. So I chose to make an owl- my favorite one as well. The Burrowing Owl. Owls are Halloween, right?

I used a black and white image online as the basis for my owl. I’m about 85% satisfied with the results. I can see what I can do differently next time. But since I have not worked with this style of pumpkin before, I’d say not bad for a first attempt. Next will be to see how it looks with a small LED light inside.

Have you worked with foam pumpkins before? Or do you prefer the real thing? Let me know in the comments or feel free to share pictures of your detailed pumpkins. I love to see what others create.

Colours Make Me Happy

Last night, my wife and I prepared dinner together. She had already done a bunch of the preparation work prior to my arrival home. As we worked in the kitchen- we created a beautiful ballet of coordinated movements. Not once did we get in each other’s way, or bump into one another.

Dinner was a flavorful udon noodle soup. With a soft boiled egg, sautéed mushrooms, garlic steamed carrots, seared pork, seaweed and spinach. A delicious medley of tastes that all came together in a large soup bowl.

After dinner was done, the sun was putting on a dazzling show for us in the sky. The colours mimicking the pleasure we experienced from creating and enjoying our meal. The different hues and tones shone into our kitchen creating a sense of wonderment.

Sometimes experiencing the world is akin to admiring a great painting. The views last night were absolutely awe inspiring and tranquil. A true treasure to behold.

I love the colours of the world.

The “I Do” BBQ

Yesterday afternoon, some of my friends tied the knot. They did it in a way that was special and meaningful to them. It wasn’t extravagant or lavish. The service was humble and friendly. It was exactly the kind of service you would expect from them.

First of all, it was a fairly short announcement to the wedding day. Even though Jay and Leona have been a couple for quite some time, it was just the right time to get married. The venue was at a friend’s place where they (or we if you wish) have spent many a weekend enjoying each other’s company over food and drinks.

Jay and Leona kept it low key and simple. Their friends came together to setup tents, tables, decor and made food. Even though it was raining periodically, that didn’t stop the festivities. It was essentially a large BBQ with a wedding thrown in. In fact, right after the “I Do’s” were said, the two of them got changed back into their street clothes to relax. It was wonderful that they shared their love with us and we all got to hang out.

Sometimes I think back to when I first met them. Each was in a different aspect in my life within a couple years of each other. As well, their lives intersected periodically until the universe finally linked them together.

It was a good time yesterday with loads of smiles and laughs. I wish many more years of happiness to Jay and Leona! Congratulations once more.

New Movie Theater Experience

Last night, I went to the movies for the first time since the pandemic started. We have been to the drive-in, but that was a different experience since we socially distanced in our vehicles. Attending a movie in the theater was a the experience I had been missing.

What was really awesome was my son. Instead of just asking to be dropped off at the theater to watch a film with his friend, he invited me along. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Saying I Love You… he made me feel wonderful inside.

We watched Marvel’s Shang-Chi. The movie itself was a fantastic martial arts movie. Loads of action, humor and along with some fantasy elements. I would wholeheartedly recommend the film. Seeing it with my son and his buddy (avid Marvel fans) made for some great discussions afterwards.

Getting back to sitting in an auditorium was a great sensation. It was enjoyable to see a film on the big screen.

When To Decorate For Halloween?

It’s September now, and I know summer isn’t officially over until nightfall on September 21. The next day is the first day of Autumn. So my question is, when is it okay to decorate for Halloween?

I enjoy decorating for Autumn and Winter. I also love Halloween and Christmas. To me, each of them is a separate entity. So a few changes occur as we transition from one to the next. I’m pretty sure that next weekend I will be jumping the gun and start putting out our Fall decorations.

I’m not quite ready to tackle Halloween yet. I was at Home Depot the other day and saw these 12 foot skeletons that light up. Spending 400-500 dollars on one seems very extravagant. Even though these are cool and make for a wow factor in a home- whatever happened to some styrofoam tombstones and cobwebs?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. I just prefer to make my own costumes and props. I have been known to put in a bit more effort some years. I especially love pumpkin carving. But I do feel that I should wait until October 1st before really hitting the haunted factor.

A few fake pumpkins, and some brown and red leaves will be the extent of my decorations for now. Perhaps I shall wait and see what our new neighborhood does for the season. Nah. I’ll still do what I want. Perhaps we will go big this year!