Driving Day

Today we embarked on a 12 hour road trip from our home to Grande Prairie, Alberta. It started off with us being an hour behind schedule. No big deal- I was able to... ahem... make up the time while driving.

We whipped through Kamloops with a quick stop for gas. Then off to Jasper for a late lunch and of course- trains. Plus amazing beer and food! We had nachos and Wild Boar Steam Buns all at the Jasper Brewing. I highly recommend the Boar and “Jasper the Bear Ale”.

It was a beautiful day to drive through the mountains from British Columbia to Alberta. We watched the sun set and the sky change colours. Absolutely stunning.

Now it’s time to unwind in the hotel room and mentally prepare for the next couple of days. A quick dip in the pool and finish my blog is a great way to end a 12 hour drive.

Birthday Weekend Flashbacks

Usually for my birthday I just celebrate on the day of my birthday. But since I went out to Throw Axes on Friday, my kids wanted to spend time with me on Saturday. So I did- it was fun and also bizarro with lots of familiarity surrounding it.

First thing in the morning- I shared a box of specialty KitKats that I had saved from last year’s trip to Tokyo. Keeping it hidden from the family for almost a year was challenging. I also ate the special March birthstone one I kept. Needless to say- these were just as unique as any other KitKats we sampled in Tokyo. The Butter flavor was amazing!

Later, we went out for Poké Bowls at a place in Langley called Dal’s Poké. This is probably one of the freshest meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant! If you’ve never tried a Poké Bowl, do it. It’s sort of like deconstructed sushi. Lunch inspired us to go pick up some Asian foods at the H Mart Korean grocery store.

Immediately after lunch we wandered a bit around Downtown Langley. As we hit some thrift shops, it was suggested that when we go to H Mart that we stop at an old video store called Willow Video. Walking into that place was like walking into the past. The store hasn’t changed in almost 30 years. I swear that the used games in the cabinets were the same ones that were there when I was a kid. Used Sega Master Systems, old Game Boys, and assorted Games with price tags from thirty years ago. The place still offers Video rentals and sales. Not to mention that the store was busy as well! Good for them.

After our shopping at the Korean store, and the kick in the nostalgia memory banks of Willow Video, we went to see if an old Billiard hall was open. Three weeks ago I had mentioned wanting to play Billiards again. But since so many of the places from my youth were gone, I could only find one of them- The Ballroom.

Walking upstairs into the hall hit me again in the memory banks of years gone by. Much like Willow Video- this place had also remained unchanged. It had been almost twenty years since I had been there and it looked like I could have been there just yesterday. The hall of a dozen or so tables was empty except for the cashier.

With an uncanny familiarity, I took the family to a corner table that I remember always favoring. My wife and I taught the basics of pool to the kids. They started to pick it up and enjoyed themselves. After an hour or so, we decided it was time to go. By this time a few more people entered the hall. A couple on a date and two older gentlemen with their personal cues.

March 16th, 2019 was like traveling back in time. Starting with some chocolates and ending at a pool hall that my wife and I last went to when dating twenty years ago. It was a great way to celebrate my birthday weekend with my family.

Hanging out with My Daughters

Last night and today I’ve been hanging out with our daughters. It’s been a great time. I offered up a ton of suggestions for things to do: video games, go karts, mini golf, and billiards. None of which they wanted to do with dad. So I let them offer up suggestions.

Here’s what we’ve been doing:

First we had an early dinner of sushi at our favorite restaurant- Nikko Sushi. My oldest daughter was in great spirits and allowed for some selfies to be taken. So I took full advantage of it yesterday and today.

After dinner we hit up an escape room. We did pretty well as a team, but was unsuccessful in the end. So close. I enjoyed working together with them on the puzzles. Seems my daughters are rather smart. They must get that from their mother.

Afterwards, we hit the shopping mall for the last hour before it closed. My oldest daughter bought her first pair of Doc Martens. She was super excited. There is also a record store that opened up back in October. We bought a couple of used albums for fun since my other daughter has a record player and we have a healthy collection of Vinyls. Before we left the mall, we hit up Starbucks for a couple of Frappuccinos. We ended last night watching a movie- “The Hangover” Which was their choice.

This afternoon I took them to the local high school to watch a musical performance of “Heathers” based on the 1988 film. It’s neat to see the teens in the show that my daughters previously went to elementary with. The role of JD is the son of a friend of ours. He did a bang up job. As I’ve said before, I enjoy supporting the arts in all varieties. Especially when it’s kids showcasing their talents.

All-in-all I’ve had a great time with my girls. Tonight will be a quiet night at home marathon watching Season 3 of “A Series Of Unfortunate Events”. These past couple days are things I rarely did growing up with my father. I’m glad my girls enjoy my company. I enjoy theirs.

Mr. Noodles

Having three teenagers requiring food kind of hits the pocketbook hard. Buying in bulk at Costco or during a Case Lot Sale at the grocery store seems like a good way to save money. But in reality, my kids see it as “more food to be eaten” before the next shopping trip.

Any parent of a teenager or college kid knows that Mr. Noodles is an inexpensive way to eat. I’ve lived off them for a daily meal filler when I lived on my own in my younger days. Over the past couple years, they have been making their way into my home again. And my kids are devouring them almost as quickly as I buy them.

When I do get to eat some, I like to drain out the water, then add the contents of the flavor packet to the noodles only. This is how I’ve always had them. My wife on the other hand prefers to eat them as an actual soup. Recently I’ve decided to change it up a bit.

Since Mr. Noodles is technically Ramen, that’s what I’ve been trying to make. Albeit on a budget, but a bowl of Ramen nonetheless. My first attempt I felt pretty good about and it tasted not too shabby. I fried a bit of pork, soft boiled and egg which was then soaked in soy sauce. We buy packets of seaweed for snacks, so it was a great garnish on the side with some green onion chopped on top. It looked like I could’ve passed it off as the real deal.

The other day, we had some leftover Chinese takeout. I was hoping to enjoy some fried rice and sweet and sour pork, but as I mentioned- I have three teens in our home that are eating everything in sight. Except the vegetables. So I mixed those leftovers with some Mr. Noodles. Again, my wife enjoyed it as a soup, and I ate them as beef noodles. Super tasty.

Stretching a meal budget can be tough. Making cheap foods taste better is a talent I have. Now to figure out how to make Pizza Pops better.

Meal Prep For Five

Meal Prep isn’t a part of my lifestyle.

However, I took a few hours yesterday to work on some dinner prep for the family. Our 12 year old son helped out last night and really enjoyed it. I don’t usually prepare foods in advance unless we are going on a road trip or camping. But I figured I’d give it a try.

We bought 6 pounds of ground beef earlier in the week. So I divided it into meatloaf, seasoned fried beef for burritos and an amazing recipe for cabbage roll casserole. The meatloaf got eaten last night and the cabbage roll casserole is for tonight. The fried beef will be mixed with refried beans and rice for another family favorite. This was all made last night within an hour.

Today I went shopping at the grocery store because they were having a “Caselot Sale“. Besides canned soups, tuna and toilet paper, I also stocked up on about 18 pounds of pork loin. We now have a couple dinners of schnitzel, pork kebobs, and thin sliced Japanese bbq style pork. I divided it into six different meals and tossed those into our big freezer. Labeled and packed away, I’m glad that I did it now instead of trying to thaw a large pork loin later on.

Over the Christmas break, our dinners weren’t planned out. There was a lot of what we call “Fend For Yourself” nights. Where the kids would eat bowls of cereal, Mr. Noodles or toast and sometimes leftovers. It took this week for my wife and I to realize we need to get back to a routine of planning dinners and buying the appropriate groceries ahead of time. I have gone through the freezer in order to use some of our older meats first. All the pork I bought today will go to the back and get used in the upcoming weeks. Having a family of five with three teens is expensive when it comes to foods.

Buying processed or prepackaged foods may be easier, but it is not the healthiest of options. The time it takes to prepare meals or divide up large quantities of meat is minimal. Plus it messes the kitchen up really bad only once.

Here’s to healthy choices! And here’s the Cabbage Roll Casserole recipe if you want to try it:

Cabbage Roll Casserole

1.5 lbs Ground Beef

2 medium onions

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 – 14oz can of tomato sauce

1 – 14oz can of water

1/2 cup of uncooked long grain rice

4 cups of shredded cabbage (1 head)

Sour cream

Directions:

Brown beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Then stir in the rice. Cover and simmer for about 20 mins stirring occasionally.

Place 1/2 of the shredded cabbage on a greased baking dish. Cover with 1/2 the beef and rice mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and bake in 350° oven for one hour.

Serve with sour cream. Casserole may be refrigerated before baking.

Serves 6.

Enjoy!

Trading Post #3

I have been going to the Trading Post Brewing for a couple of years now. I was there on opening day at their first location. I also attended their Two Year Anniversary last February as well as Oktoberfest in their Fort Langley location this past September. I continue to head out every couple weeks to one of these locations for refreshments.

I have grown accustomed to their service and atmosphere. It makes for a good time hanging out with my wife, family and friends.

On Saturday, my wife and I were in Abbotsford and decided to check out their third location that opened less than one month ago. We were not disappointed. The food and beer menu is the same as their Fort Langley location. This made it convenient for us as we only had about an hour to kill.

All three locations are unique in their own way. Their Brewery location is exactly that- a brewery. Large vats of beer and seating to enjoy said beers. Their Fort Langley location plays on the history of Fort Langley and the idea of a real Trading Post. Cozy atmosphere and good food. This newest location is completely different. Very modern looking and spacious. A great eatery in the heart of a growing section of Abbotsford.

I love supporting this local business. It helps them to thrive and expand. The owners of The Trading Post have a great product and service that makes for wonderful memories to be shared. If you are looking for a place to share good times- any one of their three locations would be ideal.

Christmas Day 2018

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I’m not going to write much today. Just going to share some photos of our Christmas Eve fun.

First was our traditional dinner of Fancy Sandwiches, Schnitzel and potato salad. This year, everyone helped in making the Sandwiches. Our youngest helped with the salad and our oldest helped make the schnitzel.

After dinner we retired to the theater room and opened our Christmas PJs. The kids had fun taking selfies for Instagram. Afterwards we watched Aggretsuko Heavy Metal Christmas and Powerpuff Girls: The Fight Before Christmas. An easy way to unwind before bed.

Once the kids were in bed, my wife and I got to work laying out their gifts. And one last hiding place behind the door for Creepy Santa to surprise the kids. Next will be the the start of the big day filled with gifts and fun!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Winter Solstice 2018

We had a small get together last night to celebrate the Winter Solstice. This is the second year we have done this. I enjoy celebrating the Solstice. Being that my family is Atheist, it makes more sense to celebrate this style of tradition.

Being host to a social event is one of my passions. I love to serve good food for good friends. Lots of appetizers and cookies for everyone to enjoy. My friends come from all different aspects of my life and mingle well with one another. That makes for a good time.

As each group left our home, we gave them a small tin of cookies to enjoy later. It’s a way for them to reflect on the evening with a hope that they enjoyed coming out as much as I enjoyed their company.

Here’s to the daylight getting longer now! May you all enjoy the balance of the winter as it crests towards springtime.

Richmond

Yesterday we were in Richmond for a Speed Skating Competition. Richmond is heavily influenced by the Asian community. While we were there we decided to have a bit of a “FLASHBACK” of our trip to Tokyo.

First my wife and I went to the T and T grocery store. We picked up some milk tea and some mango mochi as a treat for the kids while they were skating. We went with another skater’s parent who was rather timid in wanting to try any of the foods there. I guess not everyone is as adventurous as we are when it comes to experiencing other cultures.

After skating, my wife took the family out for dinner to an amazingly authentic Japanese BBQ at the Gyu Kaku. Where we grilled our own food and stuffed ourselves silly. From spicy tofu to beef tongue and eggplant- everything was delicious.

After dinner we wandered around Aberdeen Centre looking at the shops and taking selfies just like tourists. We had a lot of fun goofing around.

It was a good way to end our Saturday.

GingerDEAD House

Last night our daughters worked together decorating a Gingerbread house. It was great to see them work together so well. It was entertaining as well because they wanted to make it a part of their “Creepy Santa” escapades.

Of course they made a “GingerDEAD House” full of blood icing. I enjoyed listening to them tell stories of how the Gingerbread people died. I like that they created their own style of house instead of making it look like a perfect match from the box.

Creepy Santa is proud as well. I’m sure he’ll bring them something nice this year. You can follow him on Instagram. Hohoho Horror.