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.