The Vancouver Christmas Market returns for its 10th year this month! From November 20- December 24, this seasonal favourite will be back at Jack Poole Plaza with more than 80 huts featuring gifts, food + drinks, and treats. If you’re trying to think of ideas for the holiday season, the Vancouver Christmas Market is a great choice for families or couples looking for a festive date night, and I’ve partnered with them on a festive giveaway!
Get in the holiday spirit at the Vancouver Christmas Market + enter to win!
This authentic German market is sure to spark the holiday spirit, with its stalls featuring delicious edible fare (think: sizzling sausages, warming Glühwein- mulled wine to name just 2), handcrafted gifts, and so much more. Whether you come for the food, the entertainment, the shopping, or all of the above, the Vancouver Christmas Market won’t disappoint. See below for details + how to enter!
What do you do with all of that Halloween candy your kids bring home? This year I’m trying a new approach with trick-or-treating: I’m going to let the kids binge eat their haul for a few days and then the Halloween candy is going to magically disappear. Have you ever done this? Usually we let them have a little everyday, but that usually means we’re digging into all that Halloween candy for months to come, which isn’t the greatest for anyone.
I figure it’s worth a try, especially with Christmas just around the corner and all the baking and holiday treats that come with it. I’m not a total Halloween scrooge, I just want to find a way to kick all that extra sugar out the door while still letting the kids enjoy their trick or treat stash. I’ve seen recipes for boo bark but I wanted something a little different to use up that Halloween candy. So, how about Halloween ice scream?
I scream, you scream, we all scream for…
I thought this is a fun way to use up some Halloween candy from trick or treating, or even as a fun treat for a Halloween party. Just put out the candy and any other toppings and let the kids decorate their ice cream. They’ll have fun, and it’s a great way to get through the sugar rush of Halloween.
I’ll let the kids dig into their treats after Halloween to make these, but if you want to make these for a party, you can pick up your favourite Halloween- themed candies to top them off:
flavoured syrups for topping (maybe strawberry to look like blood…?)
The version I created in this post is a dairy-free one( I used our favourite non- dairy ice cream from Nora’s), but let’s face it, chopped up mini chocolate bars would be all kinds of yummy on these. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I figure letting the kids dig in for a few days then stashing the rest away is a tactic worth trying, but we’ll see how that goes! Either way, Halloween is a fun time for the kids and we’re on countdown over here.
If you make this for a Halloween party, there are lots of ways to set it up.
Making a self- scoop ice cream station with candy set up in little bowls is one idea, or give each child their own little bowl of treats to decorate their ice cream at a table. Just keep in mind the ages of your guests and set up in an age-appropriate way (although some adults might be just as tricky with the treats as some kids! 😉 ). Just have fun with it and enjoy!
Is meal planning a thing in your house? After years of trying, I finally made it a weekly habit about a year ago and it’s made many a dinner time easier to organize. Usually on a Sunday evening I’ll sit down for a few minutes and write down meal ideas for the week, with input from Will and the kids. This way we all get something we like and enjoy a variety of meals.
Meal planning isn’t about having meals set in stone, but coming up with meal ideas you can shift around based on how the week and each day is looking.
Slow cozy day at home? Make something that takes a little more time. Busier day? Opt for something simpler/ slow cooker friendly. I like having ideas so I can grocery shop without just grabbing items off shelves and hoping for the best- plus this way I can organize the week’s meals ahead so I can be one step ahead with food prep and ingredients. Bonus: this also helps save money on the grocery bill since you know what you need rather than just shopping on impulse.
Usually, I try to plan for some meals with meat and some vegetarian, and this helps save a little on the grocery bill as well. Where I struggle is with lunch ideas (if you have some good ones, lay ’em on me!), so I guess that’s the next area for me to tackle. But for now, getting dinner ideas organized ahead of time is one less thing to think about as the week goes on.
Meal planning is one of those things that can help you feel a little more organized, especially for days where the kids have activities after school. Even if I switch up which meals I make on what day, it’s nice to have a list to look at in the morning so I have some ideas based on the day ahead and I can get ingredients prepped accordingly (another bonus: making dinner time more relaxed because things are ready in advance). I like to include a mix of go-to meals I know our family likes while trying out something new every week or so.
To help make meal planning simpler, I put together this meal planning printable + grocery list page!
Whether this is something you’re already in the habit of doing or is something you have been wanting to try, I hope this meal planning printable helps! Print it off and put it in a page protector or laminate it to use with a whiteboard marker or simply print off each week as you need it. To keep things simple for you I’ve also included a grocery list page so you can write down ingredients you need to pick up.
To get your meal planning printable just scroll down to download + print!
If you don’t already listen to podcasts, this post will hopefully encourage you to give them a try. I feel like I’m a little late to the game on this one, but over the Summer I discovered and fell in love with them. Looking for something I could listen to while getting things done after the kids go to bed, I came across a few that I’ve been enjoying for the past few months. I’ve always loved reading but some days picking up a book just isn’t in the cards and podcasts have been a great way to help me unwind at the end of the day.
New to podcasts? This post is for you!
The first podcast I checked out was Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert after a friend recommended an episode to me, and after that I was hooked. Not knowing where to go from there I looked up ones for a positive mindset and had Jay Shetty pop up in my search results. His podcast, On Purpose, has become one of my favourites- it gets me thinking and reflecting, sometimes leading me to grab a pen to scribble down some of the wisdom shared in an episode. Since first digging in over the Summer I’ve only just scratched the surface (again, I know I’m a latecomer to the world of podcasts!), but I’m really enjoying them and always on the hunt to discover new ones to love.
If podcasts are one of those things you’ve been unsure of or haven’t made the time to check out, there are a few reasons you might want to give them a try, see below!
3 Reasons Why You’ll Love Podcasts
You can listen to them anywhere: On the go, doing chores, at the gym… you can listen to them whenever you want. Just like books or other forms of entertainment, some podcasts are more lighthearted while others will have you taking notes and coming back to listen again to absorb everything. The hard part is deciding which one to listen to! Which brings me to #2…
There are so many to choose from. Like a library of endless audio options, there are podcasts on pretty much anything. If you’re having a hard time narrowing down choices, Google search podcasts on topics you like and go from there.
They’re free! All you need is an internet connection and maybe some headphones and you’re set. Now all you have to do is subscribe, download + enjoy!
A little while ago I asked for reader’s favourites on Facebook (you can see that post here) and have since added a few more to my list to check out. Just like my ever-growing reading list, it’s going to take a while to go through all the ones I want to listen to, but with cozy days ahead I think the timing is perfect.
I’m going to start this post by saying that photos are not enough to convey how beautiful Blue Grouse Estate Winery is. Wine lover or not, it is somewhere that deserves a place on your bucket list. To visit Blue Grouse Estate Winery is to enjoy a piece of Vancouver Island that appeals to all senses, and whether you prefer a glass of white or red, you won’t leave disappointed. Thanks to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe, we recently enjoyed a 2-night girls trip to Vancouver Island, which included a night at the property and I’m sharing about our experience below.
When you first arrive at Blue Grouse Estate Winery– located in Duncan on Vancouver Island- you enter a large door that leads to an open space tasting room that overlooks the vines. Inside and out, it’s a breathtaking location that makes the wine-bearing landscape the star of the show. Whether you come for the afternoon to enjoy a wine tasting or spend a night at the aptly named Grouse House, you’ll find it impossible to ignore the beauty of the location.
There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than sipping on wine and learning about how the glass you’re enjoying was cultivated, and worse ways to wake up than in a beautiful room overlooking the grapes themselves.
I’m still a novice when it comes to wine and my knowledge can at best be described as ground-level, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about wine, the different varieties, and how where it’s grown-the terroir– influences the wines themselves. And of course it’s important not to overlook the winemakers, the individuals who shape each variety produced, and in the case of Blue Grass Estate Winery, that would be the affable Bailey Williamson, whose passion and knowledge are contagious.
After arriving, Janette and I were introduced to Bailey who gave us a tour of the main property, the large building which houses the tasting room, gift shop area, and production area + wine cellars. Outside of the beauty of the location, this was a highlight for me and having the opportunity to speak with Bailey about his winemaking journey and methodology was fascinating. As a former chef, Bailey’s attention to the quality of what he produces is palpable and I enjoyed hearing him speak about the different varieties grown on the property and how they differ from those found in the Okanagan.
If you have a basic knowledge of wine, you’ll know that different grape varieties thrive in different climates. Since Vancouver Island has cooler temperatures than central BC, this influences the wines that are produced on the property. With the grapes grown on location, Bailey’s method is to let the terroir of the location influence the wines he produces, rather than trying to manipulate the grapes into a wine they’re not.
I enjoyed hearing Bailey speak about how he envisions the future of the winery and the wines it produces and learning about the varieties grown on the property was an engaging lesson in winemaking. Having him walk us through a variety of the wines he produces was an enjoyable way to taste the wines themselves while gaining a deeper appreciation for them. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Bailey for taking the time to show us around the property and invite us to share in his knowledge and passion.
Looking for a Vancouver Island getaway? A night in the Grouse House won’t leave you disappointed
Following the wine tasting, Janette and I got to enjoy a night in the Grouse House, a beautiful two-bedroom suite located on the property among the vines. We only stayed for one night and I think it’s safe to say we wish we could have stayed longer; nothing about this beautiful location disappoints. As a ‘bed and bottle’ retreat, this space is perfect for couples or friends looking for a scenic and tranquil getaway.
Complete with a full kitchen and eating area, this suite is modern rustic right out of your Pinterest dreams. Stay cozy inside, tucked away in one of the luxurious beds, or take a bottle of wine out onto the patio to enjoy a breathtaking view of the vineyard and surrounding landscape. It’s hard to say which is more beautiful from the patio: ending the day with a glass of wine as the sun sets, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee in the bright morning sun.
And if a little adventure is something you seek, the winery is just a short drive away from shops, restaurants, and other local attractions. Come for a tasting, or stay for a night (or two!), Blue Grouse Winery embodies everything that is beautiful about Vancouver Island. If you’re a wine lover, this place definitely deserves a place on your bucket list!
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