Telestrations

This afternoon my wife and I picked up our two youngest kids from school and headed out for an early dinner. As I have mentioned previously, I like to support local and small businesses. Tonight we took the kids to The Raving Gamer.

My wife and I have been to The Raving Gamer a few times ourselves. We enjoy the atmosphere of eating and playing board games. It always gave us a chance to try some games before purchasing them.

Tonight, we were the only people at the Raving Gamer. That is mostly because of the COVID restrictions in British Columbia. No indoor dining permitted. Outside in the parking lot of The Raving Gamer is only one table for four and a few tables for two. Not exactly a “Patio” compared to mainstream restaurants. But it serves its purpose allowing patrons to still enjoy a meal. As you can see, the food was appetizing and tasty.

Just before our early dinner, we played a game called Telestrations. Where you get given a word and have a minute to draw it out, then the next person guess the word, the next person draws the word and the person afterwards has to write what they think the word is and so on until it gets back to the original player. Like a game hybrid of telephone and Pictionary.

The game was fun for the four of us. I would like to see how much more creative it would turn out to be for up to twelve people playing. During the few rounds we did play, we laughed pretty hard. We all wanted to play more of the game, but know that it would be a fun party game with more players.

It was definitely a game we would recommend for larger groups. Obviously once Covid restrictions are lifted.

Are you supporting small businesses these days? Or perhaps playing games during the pandemic? Send me some recommendations for either of those. I want to still enjoy life and share experiences with others.

Take Out Day

Since it was my daughter’s birthday yesterday, we wanted to do a nice dinner for her. Usually we get Nikko Sushi for any celebratory meals. But our daughter wanted to try something different. Due to current health restrictions in British Columbia, we had to order take out.

It also happened to be “National Take Out Day” as well! We picked up some slushies from a corner store, some Indian Food from Taj, and an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.

Besides samosas, my family doesn’t eat a lot of Indian food. We did buy samosas, but we also had coconut chicken curry, butter naan bread, and paneer. It was delicious. I am impressed that our kids are always willing to explore tastes from other cultures.

17? Ugh. As if

The ice cream cake was a delicious end to the meal. Our daughter has been enjoying 80’s/90’s movies all her life and went with a “Clueless” inspired cake. We watched the film afterwards for a good laugh. (Wow, there are a lot of stars that were up and comers from back then! Thanks IMDB for helping me to recognize them.)

Did you enjoy some take out yesterday? What did you have?

Do you like Indian cuisine? What would you recommend we try next time from a restaurant?

Let me know in the comments.

Supporting Local as My Birthday Gift

For my birthday yesterday, my wife took me out to support a trio of small business restaurants in Langley. I’m a big proponent of helping out and buying from local businesses as often as I can afford it. To enjoy my birthday, I asked to support locally.

We started off with a late brunch at a place called Egg Bomb. This was the first time my wife and I had eaten there. It was funny because while we were inside, we talked about how the two of us used to attend the original coffee house that was first built in that location. Neither of us had met one another back in the 90’s at Castle Bay Coffee.

Egg Bomb was exactly that. Eggs! And amazing coffee. I had a teriyaki sandwich and my wife had prawn with hollandaise sauce. It was awesome. I would highly recommend them.

For dinner, the entire family went to a favorite restaurant of ours in Fort Langley- The Little Donkey. Burritos that were jam packed with delicious quality ingredients that filled our bellies.

And for dessert, my wife picked up a dozen Boston Cream donuts from Gourmet Donuts and Coffee in Walnut Grove. My wife remembered a story I had shared about my father from my childhood. Whenever he would attempt to quit smoking (this happened about five or six times) he would come home with a dozen Boston Creams for the family.

I enjoyed my birthday yesterday and all the food that my wife took me out for. Spending time with her and enjoying her company in the different atmospheres was wonderful. I really appreciate what she did for me and I’m glad we went out and helped other businesses by enjoying their wares.

Junk It.

Over the past couple of weeks we have been actively donating and Giving away items that we no longer use. However it feels as though we’ve hardly made any headway in decluttering. Now that most of the “gently used” and “well loved” items are gone, it’s time for the big play.

Time to get ready and Junk It all.

That means gathering all the big items that are just too damn large to toss out or get recycled and have someone haul them off for us. It’s going to be a pretty arduous task to collect everything in order to get the best bang for my buck when collected.

We have an old pool table, a fridge, scrap wood, scrap metal, old electronics, broken power tools, and just stuff that we need to ditch. Some items are still in our possession because of the mindset “Maybe this will be useful one day.” Only that day never arrives.

Catchy radio jingle. That means I should call them.

So as I take advantage of the weather over the next day or two, the trash heap will grow. Until I finally have had enough and call a junk removal company to haul it all away.

Why do we keep so much crap? Is it laziness in throwing it all away? Or perhaps the frustration that you once owned something that is now rendered useless? Whatever it may be, I have a collection of junk to get rid off now.

Nikko Sushi

My wife and I were welcomed to our favorite sushi restaurant for lunch today. It was quiet in the restaurant, but we were still seated in one of the closed off booths for added privacy. We have been coming here since they opened their doors- 20 Years Ago. Our Loyalty for great sushi is with them.

Every time we arrive, the staff (its a family run business) talk to us as if we were part of their family. At first we only went for birthdays and special occasions. Now we end up going there once a month it seems. The quality and value is unsurpassed.

When Nikko first opened, and for a couple of years following, they would take our picture. If you look closely in a few of the booths you will find our family up on the wall. For twenty years, the staff at Nikko Sushi has watched out family grow. Even today, when it was just my wife and I, they asked about our kids.

Because of our commitment to them, we are treated like royalty when we walk in those doors. Almost every meal we end up getting a sample of some sort of treat they have. And every year for their anniversary, we have been given a gift. Previously we have received bottles of wine, this year was a lovely hand towel (that our oldest daughter has claimed.) We also leave a generous tip as I have always proudly supported small business.

If you haven’t eaten at Nikko Sushi, you absolutely have to try it. Trust me, it is quality food. I plan on still going there over the next twenty years!

Big Tire Blow Out

About a decade ago I was driving our Honda Element to work when the tire essentially ruptured. I was on the highway doing about 100km/h in morning traffic when it happened. I was safely able to pull over to a shoulder and changed out the tire. Something caused it to blow out the side walls rendering the tire absolutely useless. I changed the tire in a matter of minutes and still made it to work on time.

I tell this story because my wife had a similar incident on Tuesday. Only she struck a pothole that had formed after the rain storm. This was on a side street doing about half the speed I was doing. However, the tire still exploded. Because the tires she has on her car are designed as high performance tires and are very thin, the rubber sits closer to the rim.

My wife drove the last few kilometers back home and parked the car thinking it wasn’t that bad. I’m now waiting at the local Kal Tire getting a new tire put on. I’m hoping there isn’t much damage to the rim and that everything will work out. The folks here at Kal Tire have great customer service and appear to be very efficient.

Because my wife hardly drives the car, the wear and tear on the vehicle is minimal. Financially we are lucky to only need to replace one tire. Where as normally they recommend two in order to keep the wear even. The car will get the tires rotated and balanced before I get it back.

Now that I’m done today’s blog, I’m going to finish the rest of my hour waiting here to surf the Internet. That way I can tackle the yard work when I get home and keep myself active as the sun comes out.

Add To Cart

It’s Cyber Monday in the year 2020. Which is kind of like every other day this year. It feels as though we have been doing more online shopping than ever before. In fact, statistics are showing that the majority of us are doing more online shopping this year than previous years.

Because of all the extra shopping online, we have become very conscious about shipping. Paying for shipping feels like a kick in the face. Free shipping is a favorite, but also one or two day shipping is important. I don’t know why really. Whatever I’m ordering online, I clearly didn’t need that quickly. But hey, if Amazon says it’ll show up by 8pm the next day- why wouldn’t I choose that option?

I sometimes enjoy the surprise of “What’s in the box?” as a parcel shows up on our doorstep. Especially the packages that have taken longer than a few days to arrive. As Christmas nears, we have to be careful not to open these boxes in front of the kids.

I have no reason to do online shopping today. So I’m not likely to get caught up in buying something just for the sake of saving money on it. I save even more money just not buying something I didn’t need. I’m looking in your direction Air Fryer.

So before you complete that transaction today, take a moment and decide if you really needed to “Add to Cart” in the first place. If you’re like me, you’ll probably think about it briefly and question your choice, but then purchase it anyways because it’ll arrive in two days and have free shipping. Because it’s such a good deal.

On a serious note, remember to support small businesses through your online purchasing as well. These businesses can’t always offer free shipping because the volume they sell is no where near Amazon or Walmart. But the joy you give someone by buying one of their items is far greater than you could imagine.

From Fails to Finished

Yesterday I set up a workspace for the 3D Printer I received the other day. Actually, my wife allowed me to use a small corner of her studio where she makes her wonderful hats. Check out her website- Ningen Headwear for some great winter hats!

I spent a good couple of hours leveling the bed, installing software on our computer, and getting a couple of designs ready to print. The first test design was a thank you to my wife for use of her space. She had made some face masks and wanted one of these to try out. It was technically “Headwear” related- Surgical Mask Strap. I figured it was an easy print and wouldn’t take very long.

Boy was I wrong.

After about half a dozen failed attempts just starting, I eventually got a print that was not at all what it was meant to be. It was missing some layers. Back to the Internet and YouTube to figure out my issue. Turns out I hadn’t set the proper parameters for my brand of printer.

A couple tweaks and we had a successful first print! Followed by two more successes! I could really get addicted to this feeling of accomplishment. But now I am out of my spool of plastic. Time to wait for the Amazon order to arrive. During that time, I plan on getting some more files downloaded and ready to print.

I see how this could become a love/hate relationship with a 3D printer.

Farm Fresh Country Living

Our one acre of privacy is surrounded by larger acreages. Some have horses, many are hobby farms. Personally I don’t want any other animals to take care of as our dog is the hardest one to look after lately. He’s getting old and it makes me sad. But I want to talk about our neighborhood instead of our puppers.

Wandering around our neighborhood there are a few little stands set up. One is from a couple little kids. They are selling a variety of zucchini and squash. It’s really cute that they are trying to be entrepreneurs. Pretty sure they got “backing” from mom and dad. As in harvesting their vegetables.

The other type of stands that are around are for “Free Range Eggs”. We have a couple of these in our neighborhood. I have not purchased from them. My wife has in the past and was not thrilled with the color of the yolks. I won’t go into detail, but store bought eggs are more reliable in her opinion.

There is also an herb stand around the corner as well as a few small businesses. Such as a Christmas tree farm, a turkey farm, and a few vegetable greenhouses. Having these nearby is unique and pleasing. I do enjoy the freshness of the vegetables as well as the luxury of having these places nearby.

Are you more city or country? Perhaps you love the suburbs.

Shopify Summit

My wife has been with Shopify going on 3 years now. Every summer they have a “Support Summit” for their region. Last year was held in Whistler. The year prior was in Vancouver. This was supposed to be in Victoria, but COVID had other plans.

Since my wife works for an online e-commerce platform, most of her job is done remotely. Meaning she has already been working from home for ages. And because of restrictions, numerous businesses are setting up shop with Shopify. Work for her has been busy.

This year, their Summit was done remotely. Lots of video conferences and online tutorials to help improve their customer service. Instead of going out and getting a Swag Bag, it was shipped to our home instead. Where she was told to open it on day one of the Summit.

My wife and her coworkers take great pride in their job and the company. So any time my wife gets swag with a Shopify logo on it- she displays it proudly. From hats to shirts to mugs. My wife loves the company she works for and her “Shopifam” as well.

I’m really happy for her that she fell into this job as well. It has been a great opportunity for her to connect with people and assist them in creating a better business for themselves. My wife always has a “feel good” story to share with me after each shift. Sometimes the stories are humorous in nature as well. Even with some negativity that happens on occasion- my wife goes back each shift and is laughing with her coworkers online as they start their day video chatting.

From an outsider looking in- it appears that Shopify has a great business culture in how it is run. So for any small businesses out there looking for an online platform with good customer services- try Shopify. You may even speak with my wife. You can tell it’s her because you can hear her infectious smile through the phone.

And no, Shopify is not paying me to write this. Although it is paying for a bit of our livelihood, but not without some hard work on my wife’s part.

White Rock Kayaking: Nicomekl River

Day three in a row of my wife and I hitting the water in our kayaks. Today we drove further southwest and put in the water at Ward’s Marina in White Rock. The smell of the fresh sea air was pleasant as we paddled throughout the afternoon.

This spot opens daily at noon. So it is generally not very crowded, even for a Saturday. The weather was cooler than it had been the past couple of days. And with no trees to shade us, today was a perfect day to enjoy this adventure.

Of course, as we paddled from Elgin Park towards Blackie Spit. The route had some tough spots where we had to work more. But the neatest part was going under the BNSF train bridge as the train crossed overhead. The vibration made the water push us away from the location. Making it difficult to stay still in order to get a good photo.

On our way back home, we stopped by the Fraser Valley Cider Company and sampled some of their ciders. There was live music as we sat in the farmer’s field and enjoyed some local beverages and cheeses from other local farms. Stopping at a place like this was a nice way to end the afternoon. Plus it supports local businesses which I wholeheartedly encourage.

Three days off flew by quickly. I enjoyed our kayaking adventures over the last few days. I really enjoy the time I’m spending with my wife as well. We needed the companionship as we relax with time away from our hectic lives. Plus we are getting some good exercise as we go.

Planning For The Solitude

With everything going on in the world today, I have made a plan to keep our children busy. Go Joe!

Today I headed out and hit up the Home Depot for a pressure washer, some cleaning supplies, tools and paints. A $1000 later and I have enough projects to keep us busy for quite some time.

I also made a point of getting my haircut, an oil change and to pick up some old records. Those last three were in order to support small businesses during this tough time. With everyone rushing to buy toilet paper and pasta sauces, remembering that those small businesses rely on us now more than ever. These small businesses are also taking precautions to ensure healthiness. As well, I did my best to avoid touching stuff and sanitizing frequently.

Starting tomorrow, I don’t plan on leaving my house anytime soon. I am on a week of vacation that I was already planning on just staying home. We have enough food to keep us fed for nearly a month. But that’s how we have always been. We keep our freezer and pantry stocked at all times. Of course this could all change if required.

Like if I run out of beer. But I got a decent stockpile of cheap beer to keep me going.

Seriously though, I plan on not going out any more. Every place I went to today was pretty empty. And no one was rude or panicked. Let’s keep it that way please.

Linked

The other day it was suggested to me to join LinkedIn. I have been aware of the site and what it offers, but never saw the need for joining it. I’m not actively looking for new work, but it’s neat to see so many current and previous coworkers and their profiles stating skill sets and abilities. I had no idea that many of them are supremely talented and successful in many aspects. Go team!

The platform is similar to Facebook (obviously). As much as I was wanting to limit my Social Media usage, I’ve been enjoying setting up my new LinkedIn profile. I guess you can find me here: Josef Havelka LinkedIn. I’ve currently being adding my careers and jobs, and searching similar jobs and even dream jobs. But I have been hemming and hawing about mentioning my blog in my profile.

This blog is a great place for me to share, even though it’s not devoted to one topic. Besides being about ME. So do I add my blog or not? It’s kind of like a diary of being a father, husband, and geek who enjoys food and travel as well as nostalgia.

Help me interweb friends! What do I do?

Perler Beads

“How do you use Perler Beads?”

That was the question I asked back in August 2010 when I first discovered them at a convention. Eventually we bought a few of the crafting sets and learned how to use them. It was an easy process and soon we branched out and began to focus on some other creations.

What are Perler Beads?

Perler Beads are small plastic beads that you lay beside one another to make an image, followed by melting them. There are clear plastic plates with tiny pegs which you use for the projects. They are about 4 inch square. Using tweezers to place the beads in formation- eventually you get an image.

Most of this craft is counting and separating coloured beads. Once the image is done- you use a wax style of paper and iron gently in order to melt the beads together. We liked to melt them only slightly to keep the the image, while I have seen other melt them flat, thus “bleeding” the beads together.

Today I discovered a set of coasters I had made years ago. Perler Beads are perfect for recreating 8 Bit or 16 Bit video game characters. Artistically- I found each image needed a bit of “shading” to make the images pop. By “shading” I used a colour that was similar but a tad bit darker. Greens, blues, red, yellows, etc.. all popped around the black frame.

Our kids used the coaster video game characters as templates and made numerous magnets which they would sell at conventions in order to earn some spending cash at the shows. They also made Hello Kitty hair clips and keychain Mine Craft tools which were very popular.

My favorite that I have made to date, also happens to be the largest. We bought an oversized plate and I filled it up with beads to create a Jack Skellington for the film The Nightmare Before Christmas. This particular creation took me about 5 hours and 3500 beads to complete.

Making Perler Bead creations was a fun family hobby when the kids were younger. We still have a metric shit-ton of the beads in all sorts of colours. After discovering my original coasters- I have a feeling that the kids may want to start making them again once more.

Or I could be terribly wrong and our kids will go on to be teenagers and grow their social lives. But I still like crafting and may return to it soon.

Winter Hats

Who makes the best winter hats? Clearly I’m going to tell you it’s my wife! She has been making fleece hats for almost fifteen years. So she knows a thing or two about what she’s doing. She’s the definition of a “Mompreneur”.

What does the Fox say?

As a family, we’ve had so much fun because of her small business. From sporting these great hats to attending a Multitude of Comic Conventions. Nowadays, my wife and I are far too busy to attend those shows, but she still makes hats from her online store- Ningen Headwear.

So while your stuck at home and despising the weather- surf the Internet and check out Ningen Headwear . My wife would be happy to make custom colored hats to keep you warm this winter!

Brambles Bistro

We are two days into January and my wife and I had our first date of the year. We went for breakfast in Abbotsford at a place called Brambles Bistro at Tanglebank. It was a quiet location with only two other patrons inside.

Besides having great company (my wife!) we enjoyed some local farm fresh meals.

I ordered the Short Rib Skillet: Braised short ribs, au jus, roasted potatoes, smoked cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, apples and two poached eggs. It looked like it wasn’t going to be a very large meal, but by the end I was definitely satisfied and full.

My wife ordered Huevos Rancheros. It contained smoked yams, charred corn and beans, smoked cheddar and two sunny side up eggs. It was served with avocado, pico, lime, and cilantro. A fantastic mix of sweet and spicy.

We savored our breakfasts then wandered around the shop. I could see how this place would be busier in the summer as the bistro is a part of the nursery and garden. I’m surprised that this was our first visit here since the Bistro has been open since 2012 and the Nursery since the mid-nineties.

As I love supporting small businesses, this is another one that I’d recommend to everyone.

The 2010’s

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~ Mark Twain

Here’s some highlights of my life, with photos from those crazy 2010’s. Lots of family, travel and experiences. Mind you, I’m only sharing all the greatest hits. We’ve had plenty of mundane days and a few bad ones along the way. But I’d much rather look back on our fun!

2019

Axe throwing, weekend away, Calgary, kayaks, Queen


2018

Tokyo, Tubing, a new driver, Disneyland Again!


2017

Road trips, camping, Becoming a Jedi


2016

Silicon Valley and our first taste of VR, Disneyland again for the 60th anniversary, 15 years of marriage, Career change, Rainbow hair


2015

Ningen Headwear studio, More Cosplay and hanging artwork from conventions, New roof, Our oldest entered high school, Driving in the desert


2014

Hawaii, Jem cosplay, Disneyland again


2013

Felicia Day Emerald City, Lex joining our family, Voodoo donuts


2012

Disneyland Halloween


2011

Center of the Universe with my son, Tenth anniversary


2010

Conductor on a Steam Train, Disneyland Halloween, an interest in Speedskating began.


I’m happy that I’ve had such wonderful experiences with my family. Seeing the kids grow up over the years is heartwarming. I hope you had a great run during the 2010’s. And here’s to the Roaring 20’s starting once more!

Local Beers

As I have mentioned numerous times before- I love to shop local and support small businesses. If you live in Langley, BC I recommend you follow Tourism Langley on Instagram. They are always out there sharing great moments in our little neck of the Fraser Valley.

Yesterday they shared this picture. Langley grew over the past year adding four more breweries to their name. Previously it was only Dead Frog and Trading Post that graced us with craft beers.

I was excited to hear about the other breweries that opened This Year, that I went out and filled some growlers to share tonight. We have a few friends and coworkers stopping by for the Winter Solstice. And what goes great with food and friends? Sharing beers. I picked up samples from Dead Frog, Trading Post, 5 Roads, and Farm Country. I’m excited to try them and share with everyone.

Hopefully the beers I grabbed taste as good as their names sounded. We shall find out tonight.

Raving Gamer

For my wife’s birthday, I took her out for lunch this afternoon at a place called The Raving Gamer Bistro in Langley, BC.

It’s the perfect style of place for my wife and I. It’s locally owned and operated. The menu serves locally-sourced ingredients from many of the places that I love to visit in Langley and nearby.

I enjoyed the Three’s Company Grilled Cheese: Golden Ears cheddar & gouda on Langley’s A Bread Affair’s Three’s Company bread.

My wife ate the Raving Water Buffalo Burger: a house-made patty of local water buffalo with bread and butter pickles, fresh tomatoes, red onion, gouda from Golden Ears Cheese Crafters, double smoked bacon and a house-made Russian dressing.

Both of us opted for the house-cut fries with “butta-shoyu” & Japanese spice; and a local beer to wash it all down.

During our lunch, we had a chance to enjoy some one on one time while playing board games. The selection of games to play was extensive. After our meal, we browsed through some of the games for sale. These aren’t your typical Monopoly variations or poker games. Many of the games I had never heard of. But when I asked the staff about games- they had knowledgeable answers.

We had a nice quiet lunch- we were the only two customers in there. It sounds like they are much busier in the evening time, especially on the weekends. I highly recommend visiting the Bistro. But be prepared to spend time and money! We were there for about an hour and a half and spent $100. But we also picked up a game that we have been wanting for some time now. So it was worthwhile investment for the future of our fun!

Car Care Small Business

When my wife and I buy a car, we get it serviced at the dealership for the first few check ups. After the warranty kilometers are gone, it’s time to give the smaller automotive shops our business.

Our Honda Element is at 286000 kilometers now and still runs smoothly. I recently took it to a tire shop to get a screw out of the rubber and the guys were efficient and reasonably priced. They also didn’t try and upsell me on other stuff that I didn’t need. Kudos to them. I’ll be back when I need new tires!

Today I dropped off the element at a fellow’s shop that he runs from his home’s garage. He’s our neighbor’s son who is Honda Certified and has worked on our vehicle in the past for us. He’s putting in new shocks and the like in order to smooth out the ride. He’s always been able to take our Element in and get it back to us in a timely manner. I appreciate the work he does as well since working on cars is his passion.

Supporting a small business or local shop is important to me. Without these people, who generally take pride in their work, the car dealerships would gouge us every time we dropped off our car for service. Owning a car is expensive no matter what you do. But the freedom that comes with a vehicle is invaluable at times. Especially for my family where we have nonexistent public transit nearby our home.

Here’s to you small automotive businesses! Thank you for being a great alternative to the dealerships.

Berry Good

Living in the countryside means fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. There’s a place I stop at throughout the summer that has cheap hothouse peppers in red, orange and yellow that are extremely tasty. I love to sauté them on the bbq with a bit of garlic or red onions.

We are also close by to not just one, but two berry farms. I love eating Fresh Berries in the summer. It means that I’ll be making more waffles, smoothies, putting berries in my sparkling wine, toppings for yogurt and ice cream or just eating them straight out of the bowl. Juicy, healthy treats.

Today I stopped by both berry farms. Mainly I wanted to see the difference in quality and price. Krause is all flash with a winery and food available. While Driediger is mainly just berries. Both have U-Pick available which is nice for a morning out with the family. Honestly, even though most people love Krause for its high end look, Driediger has better quality berries that are sweeter and lower in price as well. I do enjoy Krause for a bike ride to sample wine with fruit.

Whichever you choose to hit up, just remember that you’re supporting a local business. Which always adds sweet karma to your meals.

Roots and Wings

There’s a Distillery located just south of Fort Langley called Roots and Wings. We drive past it everyday taking the kids to and from school. I finally decided to stop in and sample some of what they had to offer.

Looking at the building from outside doesn’t seem like much. It’s still fairly new only being established in 2015. Supporting local businesses is always something I encourage. Since they grow their own potatoes and corn for their vodka, gin, and whiskey (or rather, rye because it hasn’t been aged long enough yet)- it didn’t surprise me that there was only a small tasting room.

Inside holds about a dozen patrons. I was alone when I sampled each of their liquors. Natural flavors and a taste unique to each bottle kept me wanting more. There wasn’t a throat burn or the cheap taste of “nail polish remover” you find in bottles of similar price point elsewhere.

As I sat there, the hostess gave me a history of the distillery and the name. “Roots” being their starting in Langley, and “Wings” for how they want to expand and grow. I also learned that in the following month or so they will be offering cocktails in their tasting room along with charcuterie. Sounds like I’ll be back for more when that happens.

I took a few small samples home. A coffee infused one, a cinnamon one and a horseradish one- that last one turned out to be perfect for a Ceasar FYI.

I recommend checking out Roots and Wings on a Saturday to try some of their offerings. Or be on the lookout for them at the local Farmers Markets coming up this year.

Handmade Decorations

Christmas decorations have taken over our home. I love to decorate for the season. I even love piecing together decorations from the craft stores and dollar stores. Here are some of the house decorations we have that I’ve made over the years:

I love our garlands. The red, green and gold baubles are simple and elegant. (Even if the items are from the dollar store.) Here is this year’s Dollar Store decoration:

It’s our Nightmare Before Christmas themed wreath. This was easy to make. A few years ago I made some snowflakes that took me hours to cut out with an exacto knife:

Over the years, we also pick up items from craft fairs. I have a friend who makes awesome cards. Another couple who knit. One friend who makes winter houses. A friend of ours makes these neat flowers from sheet music, (we tend to leave it out all year because it’s awesome.)

My kids discovered some other crafts that they’d like to try. One includes molding old records, and we have quite a few of those around. So our kids want to make bowls as gifts:

There’s always more ideas floating around. More crafts to make and buy. More decorations to create. I’m worried that one day our home will turn into a Christmas house 365 days of the year at this rate.

What do you make at Christmas? Do you support local craft fairs as well? Let me know.

Working From Home

My wife has been a stay-at-home parent since our first child was born. To generate some extra income, my wife began Her Own Business that she could do from home. It has been moderately successful and she has enjoyed it for the most part. Over the past few weeks, she has taken on a regular 40 hour work week for Shopify and she still gets to work from home.

My wife has been really good about it. She has figured out the right way to “check out” when she is done for the day. Even when she would get emails late at night for her business- it never bothered her enough that she would let it interfere with her home life. Working from home is definitely something that I feel she has successfully conquered.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be covering a coworker’s vacation. I will be working remotely from home for most of it. The hardest part is that I need to be available 24 hours/day for phone calls. Most of this time I will need to be able to access my laptop fairly quickly- unless I know the answer (or can fake my way through). Because this territory is new to me, I am unsure of how to balance time with my friends and family while continuing to monitor work.

I hope that I can create a stable environment for myself and that I can do this without regretting taking on a new challenge.

Only time will tell.

Saying Goodbye

Sunday was the last day of our Convention. I had to say goodbye to all of my friends. It was the last day of Calgary Expo, but also a bitter end to many years of shows. We won’t be returning.

I’m severely saddened by this. But many factors have come into play over the past little while. Last year I toted about My Fandom Family and how great everyone is. I love these people. Even back in 2016 we were hoping to Expand our small business- it just won’t be happening.

Since 2016, sales at Conventions have dropped. To be honest- the sales more like nosedived. What used to be lucrative and profitable, suddenly became, “Are we going to just recoup costs?” We gave it a couple of years, but sadly no increase.

Besides our declining sales, a few other factors have also come into the decision to not return. First, my wife has started a new job. She will be working for a company full time and can’t create stock or take off time for out of town shows. So her Business will be scaled back to just online sales- no more travel to conventions. We can now use vacation time to vacation!

Secondly, our children are getting older. We do not want to take them out of school as their workload is heavier than it was when they were younger. Our oldest has entered adulthood by getting (and loving) her first job, so time off for her means she makes less money. She is now saving up for her next big purchase.

Lastly, after doing Conventions for nearly a decade, we’re a bit burnt out. So many stresses lead up to a show as well as when we are there. We also haven’t done a decent cosplay in a couple of years. There was just too much going on in life. I am hoping to take on a new hobby and just make replica movie props for myself.

Yes, I’m saddened by the fact that I put down in words the finale of our traveling business. And just like that, our convention circuit is pretty much all done. We went out with hardly a whimper. No big fanfare saying it’s over. It’s just over.

Just some hugs and handshakes to say farewell to our friends- with many a promise to stay in contact. All of the conventions were a blast, but now it is time to move on. Let the next stage of life begin.