Covered

Today was the final opportunity for us to see the blue of our pool. The final objective we needed to deal with in our backyard to prepare for the winter, was to throw a cover on the pool. All of our furniture is stored away, and the other day we Wrapped The Palm Trees for winter.

It was a sad moment having to say goodbye to the pool for the season. But we haven’t gone swimming in it for about a month now. What’s great about the cover is that it attaches right to the concrete all around. There are sunken pegs that come up and hold the straps in place keeping the cover taught.

Each spring will be filled with a glorious moment as we view the pool once more. The joy will extend through the summer. For now, we will protect the pool from the winter elements with the cover. Until next spring…

That’s A Wrap

The weather was sunny and the temperature was decent, so we decided to take advantage of it. My wife and I went for a 5km walk at the Tynehead Park. It’s a short drive away from our home, so it was nice to wander an area that wasn’t quite at home. Since it’s autumn, the leaves have mostly left the trees and the bare bones of the park remains.

Later in the afternoon as the sun crested over our house, my son and I ventured into our backyard to wrap our palm trees. We used some burlap and created a blanket around the trunk. It was easy enough to do, and I know it is better to do this while it’s nice instead of when the cold snap hits. Hopefully the winter is mild and doesn’t hurt the palm trees.

After wrapping the trees, my son helped to run an extension cord under our back deck so that we could spin some rope lights around the trees. Besides a fun look, this will also keep them warm in the winter months as required.

Next spring it’ll be nice to see everything come back to life and spread some colour in the world. For now, gardening isn’t over- that’s a wrap.

Watching Winter Fade Away

As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.

My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.

At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.

In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.

Weather or Not

The past week’s weather has been bonkers here in the Lower Mainland. We experienced a Polar Vortex just days ago. We even had to dig out the winter parkas just to get from the front door to the car.

This afternoon I was out in my yard with a hoodie and jeans playing with the dog.

The sun and mild weather is a welcomed change. The sunshine brought my spirits up. Even our yard was looking a bit more vibrant than usual. I watched the neighbors wandering around the streets- all of whom seemed to have a pep in their step.

I like that we received a brief taste of spring already. Some of our plants are starting to bud. Now if only the little bits of snow would vanish, I’d be really happy.

Polar Vortex!

I thought the other day was cold. The universe proved me wrong.

Today the sun was out but so was the wind. I had a few things to do in the yard, so I threw on some gloves and a hat thinking that would be enough. Nope. I rushed around quickly and headed back into my abode. The wind was bringing with it a very cold Arctic air.

I know, I know… I should just be quiet as the rest of Canada and Russia are getting hit harder and colder. But that’s why I like living where we do. Our weather is far warmer. There’s a reason Vancouver is called Hollywood North- we are trying to be more like California than we are trying to be like the Yukon.

All I want to is stay warm. This winter stuff can go away any time now.

Shiver Me Timbers

As we were hanging out last night near our home at the local park, the temperature dropped quickly. The subzero temperatures carried on into the day today. We are finally feeling winter here folks. But that’s okay…

We are getting a look at that sunshine out there. I’m seeing a ton of my friends sharing pictures of walking bundled up outside, enjoying the vitamin D. Because of the sun, we are not experiencing the heavy rainfall which is nice. Next week shows a chance of snow. In all honesty that should not be too bad.

It seems everywhere else in Canada the temperatures are far lower and drop quickly as darkness falls. So I’ll enjoy the Lower Mainland and this beautiful weather.

Do you enjoy the sun even when it’s cold outside? I know I do.

Solstice Chaos

Yesterday was a heavy dumping of snow that came out of nowhere. As beautiful as it is, it caused havoc and carnage at our home.

The power line is hanging off the roof onto our driveway.

As our kids were out front playing (and sort of shoveling the driveway) a large branch fell from one of our trees. It came down and took out the power line to our house from the street. At this point, my wife told our teenagers to come inside. Which was a good idea as more large branches throughout our yard, and neighbourhood, continued to snap off and fall.

Not covering much anymore.

The carnage in my yard is pretty extensive. Besides the thuds onto the roof (which I will need to inspect for damage just in case) a massive branch went through our storage shelter. Now there is a large hole which I will need to repair, or at least cover, once I remove the branches. It also looks like we may lose our rhododendron bush and some boxwoods in our front yard. I haven’t even ventured out to the backyard yet.

As beautiful as our home and property is, moments like this making it frustrating to live where we do. And with Hydro telling us we may not get power until Christmas Eve- going days without power is difficult to say the least. It means we have no way to cook or use water (our well has an electric pump). The generator we own will give us enough power to light some lamps and a couple of space heaters. So at least our dining room and family room will be cozy.

With Covid precautions in place, we also don’t feel comfortable going to visit friends or family. I guess that means that we are “off grid” for the time being in hopes to become civilized once more for Christmas.

Fireplace

I love our wood burning fireplace. It gives off a great ambiance to the home. Recently I tried to figure out– How do you build a good fire in a fireplace?

With winter in full force for the first time in years, we have been using our fireplace to heat up our home more often. Here is what I was taught to do when building a fire:

  1. Crumple some newspaper and place under the grate and on the grate.
  2. Place wood kindling lengthwise with the grate. Put on two pieces of wood on top.
  3. Put two more pieces of wood perpendicular to the first two.
  4. Ensure the damper is open.
  5. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
  6. Light the paper under the grate.
  7. Enjoy the fire.
  • I have been lightning fires like this for decades. I found that I kept adding wood and burning faster thinking I needed flames to create heat. The other day I discovered a new technique and it really made the house much warmer.
  • Essentially you build the fire upside down compared to what I had been doing for years.
    1. Start with two or three large pieces of wood and lay them lengthwise and tight together.
      Lay three more pieces perpendicular on top of the first layer. Again making sure it is tight.
      Now add the kindling on top along with crumpled newspapers.
    1. Ensure the damper is open.
    2. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
    3. Light the paper and kindling that was stacked on the top.
    4. Enjoy the fire as it burns from the top down making more of a hot ember base.
  • The six or so pieces of wood burn slower and last much long than the old way. Going for ambiance- I’ll still light a fire my old way. But with negative temperatures- heat is the priority.
  • Here is a video that I found that explains the new way: Perfect Fire. I’m in no way connected with the YouTube video- I just found it very helpful and wanted to share.
  • I love living in the country and the lifestyle that comes with it. But one day we will move and I’ll have to enjoy a gas fireplace instead.
  • Are you keeping warm the winter with a wood burning fireplace or do you prefer gas?
  • N’Ice

    Oh man. It’s been cold in the Vancouver area lately. An unpleasant type of cold. The kind of cold that only the rest of Canada experiences. Hey Winnipeg-come get your weather, it appears to be lost.

    For the first time ever, the water on our downspout chain froze. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen ice formed from our roof or eaves ever. It’s not right!

    Someone can come and take this snow and ice away any time now. Our two days of winter are over. I really hope it doesn’t last much longer. Not experiencing snow and ice is the main reason we stay living in the Lower Mainland.

    Frosty

    I find the biggest downside to winter is warming up my car. I can deal with snow and even ice. I just hate waiting for my car to get warm and de-fog.

    This morning I decided to sit in my car and write this blog as I waited for my windows to clear up. I did my best to wait for complete visibility, but I’m cutting the blog short so I can start driving as the rest of my car warms up. My seat warmer works really well and I just feel like getting going.

    I can’t wait for warmer weather to return.

    Cold Room Warm Bed

    The weather has been getting colder these days. So that means time for warmer blankets and sheets on the bed. We’ve done fleece or flannel to keep warm and cozy while we sleep. It’s nice to crawl in to bed and feel the weight and warmth of the bedding as the room chills out.

    As I prepare for sleep, I try and burrito myself up like e.t. about to go on a bike ride. Turn up the heat? On the really cold nights we will add another blanket.

    I hate waking up and being uncovered. I can’t sleep if any part of my body is exposed. Especially my feet! I don’t want those monsters stealing my body parts. They don’t hibernate in the winter- instead they’re always waiting under the bed and in the shadows for an opportunity to grab you.

    So anyways, we have our winter bedding out and it was really nice to slide in and feel the warmth on my feet for the first time this season.

    Winter Won’t End

    It seems winter isn’t over quite yet. At least here it isn’t. I’m really happy about it as well.

    What is funny was our oldest daughter wanted to shovel the driveway after this afternoon’s snowfall. I didn’t want to stop her, so I didn’t. This snow may last only a day or two before thawing into spring. For my family though- this winter will continue for another couple of weeks. We just received some good news.

    Our son has earned a spot at the Canada West Speed Skating Championship in Grand Prairie, Alberta in mid-March. He successfully competed in Prince George last weekend to earn this spot. This time, I’ll be taking our son. My wife is thinking she may join me in order to avoid Airport Goodbyes. This is really exciting for us. Our son has worked hard towards this.

    So it seems winter will be lasting a bit longer- and I couldn’t be happier.

    Snow Day 2019!

    Today our children, as well as many of my friends’ children, are getting to experience a “Snow Day“. The snowfall finally hit us in the Lower Mainland yesterday. So many schools are shut down for today.

    I can see why just looking at my yard. Our side street isn’t plowed at all and even though the driveway was shoveled, it’s already half a foot deep again.

  • Some areas are worse hit than others. I left work at North Vancouver this morning and the roads were pretty decent. But by the time I had crossed the river and drove into Langley, it was getting treacherous. I’m glad my kids are having a “Snow Day“.

    Having a “Snow Day” means four things will happen to my kids.

    1. They will play in the snow.
    2. They will warm up by the fireplace.
    3. They will enjoy a warm beverage.
    4. They will play video games.
  • It should be a fairly enjoyable day that will make the kids exhausted by dinner. Just in time for them to start complaining about shoveling the driveway again.
  • Hope everyone out there stays safe and enjoys the snow!

    Scarves or Scarfs

    Scarves or scarfs, however you want to spell it- it’s cold lately so time to wear them. All with that “Polar Vortex” thing- and it finally hit us here in Vancouver. Let’s bundle up!

    I love wearing winter scarves. It’s one of the fashion accessories I enjoy wearing. I usually wear it one of three ways. Yes- scarves can be worn in different styles.

    First is the once around and drape. This is a basic style that many people choose to sport. I like it because it looks casual and keeps you warm. Depending how cold it is also changes how tight you wear the scarf. If it’s windy, you can also drape the scarf down your back instead.

    My personal favorite is the Parisian Knot. This is easily achieved with a longer style scarf. You fold the scarf lengthwise in half. Put it over the back of your neck and tuck the loose ends into the loop. This look is stylish and classy.

    Finally is the simple drape. This is great for when you want to show off some colour or team logo. Just put the scarf around the back of your neck and let the sides drape down your chest. Pretty simple.

    That’s my “Fashion Tips” for men regarding scarves. As you can see, I also enjoy having fun scarves such as my Harry Potter one or my handmade fox scarf. I have a black knit one as well which is super warm. Something about wearing scarfs in the winter just adds to your look.

    What’s your favorite winter fashion accessory? Do you like scarfs? Let me know in your comments.

    Winter Wash

    I don’t like the winter at this moment. It means my car is dirty more often than it is clean. It feels like I’m neglecting Rogue One because I don’t wash it. But there isn’t any point to washing it.

    First of all- it’s cold outside. So I don’t want to stand out there with a bucket of water and a hose.

    Secondly- the sun is only out for a brief moment or two. That means cold nights and a possibility of rain or snow again. Which means dirty roads causing dirty car.

    Thirdly- I’m not the only one driving around in a muck-colored vehicle. So I shouldn’t show off my bravery/stupidity of a washed car.

    However, it is a gorgeous vehicle when clean. Maybe I could survive some frostbite and freeze my garden hose for another evening of joy until it gets dirty tomorrow morning driving to work…

    It’d be totally worth it.

    No Power? No Problem.

    There is a severe ice storm at the moment in the Lower Mainland. We’ve lost power a few times in the past 24 hrs. As you can tell, I still have cellular service- so I can remain connected to the world. Life isn’t that bad!

    Today, we arrived home from shopping this afternoon to discover that there was no power in our home again. My wife and children rustled up all of our candles and placed them on our dining room table and throughout the family room. We made sure our camping lanterns had spare batteries for later use.

    Our oldest started a fire to keep our house warm. I love living in the country and still having a wood burning fireplace. Besides creating a warm ambience, it comes in very handy at times like this. We have an abundance of dry wood ready to keep us warm.

    The Christmas season also means that we have decorative candles and candle holders. Moments like this are a perfect reason to light them again. Why not enjoy their beauty a little longer?

    So stay cozy this winter season. And let the power failures bring family/friends closer to you.

    Celebrating Winter Solstice 2017

    Today we are having a feast with friends and family. Food, fun, music, booze and a celebration before Christmas break hits.

    I love entertaining people. Having guests over makes me feel like I’ve done some good in the world. Having everyone leave with full bellies and a bit of cheer makes me happy.

    Happy Winter Solstice everyone!

    The Wind Blows. Bring On Winter!

    The recent wind storms affected my life in many ways. It made my yard and roof a colossal mess and the rain was preventing us from cleaning it up. Today I got a break, and quickly cleaned the roof and driveway. Bonus: I also got the outdoor Christmas lights up while on the roof.

    The strong wind made my commute rather different from previous years. My new vehicle is lower to the ground than my old one. I used to drive a Honda Element and I would feel every gust. That car was a box on wheels. I would grip the steering wheel for dear life! Now my Nissan Rogue is aerodynamic and one of the smoothest rides I’ve driven in years. I hardly notice the wind now. One handed driving all the way home.

    Courtesy CBC News

    But the wind affected my work most of all. The strong winds near the coastline shut down one of our customers for safety reasons. This in turn caused delays for outbound and inbound trains. Our crews were pretty much on “stand-by” waiting to get back to work. This lasted for nearly 24 hours. Now we’re back on track. (Railroad humor).

    Now that the wind has diminished, I am looking forward to the winter season taking over. I like a brisk chill in the air. Maybe some snow will fall for Christmas around Vancouver instead of rain.

    My wife on the other hand is happy to not have snow around:

    Don’t Rush The End of Summer

    I know that it’s that time of year for parents and children.  Back to school! It’s a great time and all, but I don’t want to be in such a hurry to get through this year.  Summer is still in effect- even if only for a few days officially. 


    Autumn will kick in, with it comes Thanksgiving and Halloween.  Then it’s winter with Christmas vacation and New Year’s. Spring hits us pretty quick as the kids get more time off before finishing out the school year. Only to start Summer all over again.

    Each day will pass us by quickly as we plan for the next one.  My wife was surprised that I didn’t want to do much but chill out during my last vacation at the end of August.  The biggest thing for me was to experience a change of environment in order to relax. I couldn’t have done it had we been at home the entire time.  Some new projects or workload would’ve been added as the days went on. I wouldn’t have been able to just chill out.


    I have come to realize that not every moment needs a purpose.  Not every minute needs to be filled up with activities. Even as the kids begin another year at school, I hope they find a few moments of nothingness to enjoy in amongst the hectic schedule that we have all become accustomed to.

    I don’t really want summer to end- but it has to. At least more memories to be made over the year are still to come. Let’s just try and savor them a bit more.

    Happy Winter Solstice 

    ‘Tis the season!


    Today is the first day of winter!  The one day of the year that has the least amount of daylight and the most amount of darkness in the northern hemisphere.  The Winter Solstice was originally celebrated by many religions and pagans prior to Christmas taking over.  In fact many Christmas traditions derived from the Winter Solstice.

    Today I shall be driving through the Mountains of British Columbia.  I will be enjoying the daylight- as short as it may be.  Tomorrow, the days will slowly start to feel longer as we begin our journey towards the Summer Solstice.


    Even though I may be an atheist, I still enjoy celebrating the Winter Solstice on Christmas Day.  Many of the traditions are a wonderful way of keeping history alive.  It makes sense to me to celebrate around the same time as the majority of those around us.  Have yourselves a great first day of winter.

    Happy Winter Solstice to you!

    Decorating rules

    In our home- my wife has set some rules in place regarding seasonal decorations.  Specifically Halloween and Christmas.  I have a tough time following them…

    Nightmare Before Christmas allows decorations to stay out longer.


    We are not allowed to decorate for Halloween until October 1st.  September is a busy month of getting the kids back to school and back into routines.  A distraction like decorating makes the kids, to put it mildly, stupid with joy.  They have a great time decorating, but completely forget about their homework and commitments.  The kids get upset if I start to decorate the house without them while they are at school.  It’s also probably because I leave the job of putting up spiderwebs to them…  That part sucks.

    A photo of all my favorite people.


    Rarely have we been home for Halloween in the past few years.  Usually we do a road trip to California and enjoy the beaches/ Disneyland in late October early November.  But because we will be home this year, I REALLY want to go big with my decorations.  I’m going to use the skills I learned from cosplay making and try to make our home extra spooky.  I’ve always been fascinated with set decorations and behind the scenes of movies from the 70’s and 80’s.  I have ambitious ideas, so I’ll need to tone it down a tad to get it done.  

    In the meantime, my wife didn’t say I couldn’t decorate for “Fall”.  Time for me to channel my inner Martha Stewart and use those Pinterest ideas I’ve been saving.  


    The other rule for decorating is that we aren’t permitted to decorate for Christmas until December 7th.  That is the day after my wife’s birthday.  Needless to say, I sneak a few “Winter” themed decorations out.  Our home is a beautiful brick house that brings forth a sense of warmth at Christmas.  Don’t tell anyone, but I actually prefer my Christmas Decorations to my Halloween ones.  This is because most Halloween decorations are too “cutesy” and I would prefer a bit more “Gothic” or horror style.

    Our home can be undecorated quickly.  Going from Spirited to empty in only a couple of hours.  I often leave out our Nightmare Before Christmas decorations from October to January because they cover both seasons.  

    Me in a Pee-Wee costume infront of our Playhouse.


    Today we are cleaning our home so that next weekend we can begin it’s transformation.  I find it odd that every time we decorate for Halloween, I remove all the real cobwebs just to put out the fake ones.