Sweet Dreams Giveaway

This giveaway is for all you mamas of littles and mamas to be out there! I’m excited to have teamed up with The Handpicked Home to spoil one lucky winner with a nursery prize package worth more than $300! Most of the items included in this giveaway are available in shop, so if you see a brand or product you love, find them online and pop by the shop to check them out in person.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

Now to get in some entries!

To enter: Follow Our Happy Place and The Handpicked Home on Instagram and like the giveaway image (the one seen at the beginning of this post) + tag 3 friends who you think would love to win. Comment ‘done’ so we can see who’s entered. We will both be posting this giveaway on our Instagram accounts so that equals 2 chances to enter! 

Bonus entries: see the contest widget below for bonus entries + earn a bonus entry for every $100 you spend in shop during this giveaway.

Contest closes at midnight PST on October 24, 2017

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 9, 2017
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DIY Halloween Ghost Garland

Posted in At Home, DIY, Fall by

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY

Halloween is right around the corner and if you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids, this easy DIY ghost garland is a perfect activity to get everyone in the spooky spirit. It’s simple to make and you just need a few materials that you probably already have. It’s perfect for little helpers who are getting excited for Halloween and it’s a fun way to kick off decorating for October 31. All you need is some tissue paper, glue, and twine and a little bit of glitter if you like a bit of sparkle.

Materials

  • white tissue paper
  • styrofoam balls (I used 1 1/2″ ones)
  • permanent marker
  • twine
  • glitter
  • tape

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY supplies

Directions

1. Place 2- 3 sheets of tissue on top of each other. With about 8″ on all sides, put a dab of glue between the sheets of tissue paper (since Ari helped we just used a glue stick but a glue gun would work as well), plus one on the top sheet for the styrofoam ball.

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

2. Place the styrofoam ball on the glue and wrap the tissue paper over it.

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

3. Cut or tear the tissue paper about 6- 8″ around the ball. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, it just adds to the look of the ghost.

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions 

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

4. Use a permanent marker to give the ghost a face.

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions  

5. If you want a bit of sparkle, dab some glue on the ghost’s face and sprinkle with glitter. Tap to remove excess.

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

6. Repeat to create as many ghosts as you want and tape some twine or string to the backs of the ghost’s heads. Hang & enjoy!

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY instructions

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY  

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY

Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY

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Halloween kid's craft ghost garland DIY    

October 5, 2017
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The Change in My Reflection: On Body Image and Self Love

body image and self love

I think we all have things about our bodies we don’t love, that we’d like to change, maybe try on a different version if we had a chance. Sound about right? I joke that I wish I had a smaller nose and bigger boobs. Someone got the recipe mixed up when they made me!… or so I joke.

Union Swimwear one- piece swimsuit

Those are the things I’d say I don’t love about my body; I actually considered getting a nose job in my teens, but after a fair bit of consideration opted to keep things the way they are. I figured if I couldn’t accept myself for the I was, then how could I expect someone else to? This especially resonates with me now that I have kids- and especially a daughter who I hope to raise to be confident in her own skin. Obviously there are some things that are harder/ impossible to change without an elective procedure, but knowing I had the option to change my appearance was a tempting one when I was younger and I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t considered getting a little work done when we’re done having kids.

The topic of body image and acceptance spans a variety of areas and isn’t limited to the changes we experience after having kids (both of the things I mentioned above stem from the years before I had kids). And on the topic of boobs, let’s face it: those are never the same after having kids and breastfeeding. I find that these kinds of emotions come in waves, sometimes we feel great and other times things chip away at us, at how we feel about ourselves. But while I  sometimes wish I could change the things I mentioned above (or maybe something else depending on the day), I have also learned to think about things differently: what are the things that I can change for the better – such as my physical health– rather than those that I can’t? For example, one of the major changes my body has gone through since having kids is that my stomach and midsection by no means look the same as they did before.

Union Swimwear one piece swimsuit

I used to have a flat stomach, one that I kept toned and was proud to show off. I liked how I looked in a bathing suit- maybe a little more up padding top would be nice ;)- but I was and still a beach bum in the Summer. Take me to water and I’m a happy girl. But following Ariana’s birth I was left with stretch marks (I figured I probably would since my Mum has them), and no matter how hard I tried, my abs and the skin in that area were not the same. Looking in the mirror that Summer I questioned whether I would still be a bikini kinda gal or make the switch to some of the cute one pieces I’d been seeing. Follow that up with a second child and additional body changes and I was really unsure where I stood with myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t hate what I saw, but it took some getting used to, some acceptance, and that took time. Some days I think back on what my body used to look like and sometimes it gets to me, I’ll be honest. For whatever the reason, those things can creep up on us and affect us out of the blue. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They just are. 

This past Summer I hit up the beach as much as I could, ran around in a bathing suit on the hot days, and enjoyed the bright sunny days of the season while they were here. I still have things about my body that I scrutinize (remember my joke earlier about my nose and boobs?) and I’m picky about photos of myself (selfies still make me feel incredibly self conscious- how do you find a good angle with this nose?!), but I also take pride in the efforts I’m making to feel better inside and out. Running is one of those things, and whether I run for 15 minutes or an hour, the way I feel afterwards is a high that helps diminish any stresses or anxiety I may have been feeling prior. I love how I feel after a run and that positive feeling is an overwhelming one in the best way. 

Union Swimwear one- piece swimsuit

Over this past year I’ve shared about some of the personal challenges I was facing, and also about the addition of running into my routine and upping my self- care game in the hopes that others would be able to relate. As with any journey, it hasn’t been straight uphill but overall it’s been a positive one; I just had to make some changes. It isn’t always easy to face things, the things that really hit home in our hearts, the things that are hard to shake off. But that doesn’t mean you have to rip off a Band-Aid or go from one extreme to the other. It can be small steps. Slow progress is better than none. Learning to love and take care of yourself don’t always come easily, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. 

Thank you to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe for being on this personal ride with me and encouraging me to share more on the topic of self love and body image. And to Union Swimwear for being a company that encourages positive body images in women and helping us share about this topic.

Photography: Akane Kondo Photography

Swimsuits: Union Swimwear

October 3, 2017
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Simple Fall Decor Ideas {+ Free Printable}

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall is officially here. It’s that time of year in between Summer and all things Halloween… and then Christmas. And before we get out the bats, witches, and jack- o- lanterns, it’s the perfect time to put out some pretty Fall greens and pumpkins. And gourds (can’t forget about those!) ;). 

For about $30 we picked up some pumpkins, gourds, and plants for our front porch and added some throughout the house to bring a little bit of Fall indoors. I also clipped some fresh greens from the garden for some pops of colour and arranged everything into little groups using colour and texture to create interest (I went with mostly white with pops of orange and green). Decorating for the seasons doesn’t have to burn a hole in your credit card to look good- especially when you can add a cute free printable into the mix!- and you might already have more than you need, you just have to get a little creative. One of the things I’ve been wanting is a sign that can be used year- round as I switch things up for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. I didn’t want to spend a lot on it since I like to change things up throughout the year, so I decided to make one. All you have to do is print and pop it into a frame (I used one from good ol’ IKEA), and decorate to your heart’s content. 

You can find the click + print link for this ‘Welcome Home’ sign at the end of the post, plus check out these tips for easy home decor (even though this post is about decorating for Fall, they are good year- round):

  • use colour and texture for visual interest (these mini pumpkins and gourds cost around $15 for all of them)
  • pick a colour scheme and carry it through- it can be lots of colour or just one or two, but keeping the colours consistent will make a big impact (like I said, I went with white, orange, and green before the black and orange of Halloween come along)
  • layer items/ prop up against each other to add depth/ height
  • get creative- use items you already have and set a budget for items you want to buy; if you’re really lucky you might a few things that will work year- round so you only have to add a few seasonal accents
  • when all else fails, make it yourself (like a sign you can print right at home 😉 )

Fall decor and welcome home free printable Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

 Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Print your own ‘Welcome Home’ sign

Download the free Welcome Home printable below!

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

Click + print: Welcome Home Printable

Fall decor and welcome home free printable

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Fall decor and welcome home free printable

 

   

September 28, 2017
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Spoiling Your Favourite Guy with JORD {Giveaway}

Posted in Giveaways, Style by

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

This post is all about the amazing men we have in our lives: the husbands, dads, brothers, uncles, friends; whoever they are, this post is for them. It’s been a little while since there has been something for the guys here on OHP so I thought it would be a good time to have a giveaway. I’m excited to be working with JORD watches again this Fall and will be spoiling a lucky reader with a $100 gift credit towards one of their amazing wood watches!

On the topic of spoiling… I feel like us mamas talk about how much it means to us to hear that what we do is appreciated (especially on those tough days when it feels like everything is going wrong), but I think it’s important that our hubbies do too. Families are a team effort and both moms and dads can feel left in the dust and forgotten after a crazy day. I know ours wouldn’t be as strong as it is if it wasn’t for the guy I’m on this crazy ride with, and he’s not just a great hubby, but an awesome Dad too.

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Will is a pretty casual guy and I’ve always joked that his personal uniform is a t- shirt, hoodie, and cargo shorts or jeans. And now as a Dad, these wardrobe staples are pretty much perfect since he spends plenty of time chasing our two monkeys. He doesn’t treat himself very often so when I got the chance to work with JORD again I felt like one of their wood watches couldn’t go to a more deserving and selfless guy.  This watch fits in nicely with his casual style, but will also look great dressed up for a night out (date night!). He went with the walnut and black option from the Hyde series, and it really suits him.

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace
Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Jord wood watch father son http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

Whether the man in your life is a suit and tie kind of guy or more the t- shirt and jeans variety, JORD’s wood watches are the perfect accessory (they also make beautiful wood watches for women, see mine in this post from last year). Their watches combine classic with contemporary style making them a great choice for anyone whatever the occasion: from a day at the office to Dad life. If you have a guy that deserves a little spoiling,  a JORD watch would make a nice gift (you can also get them engraved for an extra- special touch) plus you can enter to win a $100 gift credit towards one of their wood watches below! (Added bonus: everyone who enters will receive a $25 gift credit just for entering!).

Contest Details

Click here to enter

Contest closes on October 3, 2017

Terms & Conditions

Open to residents of Canada & US | No cash value | Non transferable 

To see all of the styles available for men and women, visit the JORD website

Jord wood watch http://www.jordwatches.com/#ourhappyplace

 

Luxury Wooden Watch

September 21, 2017
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Smoky Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

Have you ever tried brisket? This cut of beef is amazing for a variety of meals and ideal for slow cooking. If you want a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of dinner, this is about as easy and delicious as it gets (this was my first time and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out). While I made this meal with Fall comfort food in mind, it really would be delicious year- round. I’ve teamed up again with Heritage Meats (see why I’ve shopped with them for years and check out delicious bison burgers in this post) to share a recipe idea that’s crowd- pleasing and pretty much fool- proof. This Langley store is my go- to for quality, organic meats and other specialty and gourmet foods (you an also read more about them below) and this brisket is proof of why they’re a popular spot for locals looking for quality options for everything from meats and deli items to gluten free and other specialty foods.

This smoky brisket is juicy and tender (I’m hoping to try pulled beef sandwiches next) and makes for a satisfying meal. You can enjoy it day- of, or serve it the next day (see my tip on why to give the 2- day option a try near the end of the recipe instructions). I served mine with rosemary mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies, but the combinations are endless. I’m looking forward to trying more recipes with this cut of beef and hope you’ll love adding this recipe to your Fall menu! 

Ingredients

3- 3 1/2 lb cut of brisket

1 tsp each:

–cayenne pepper

–cinnamon

— salt

— pepper

6- 8 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tsp liquid smoke 

slow cooker smoky beef brisket ingredients

Directions

  1. Start by creating a foil liner for your slow cooker (I just folded two large pieces together) and mixing the dry rub together. 

slow cooker smoky beef brisket dry rub

2. Coat the entire surface area of the meat with the dry rub, working it in with your fingers.

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

Here’s how it looks after the dry rub has been applied. Those streaks of fat in the meat help make for a juicy and flavourful finished product! More on that juice below.

slow cooker smoky beef brisket slow cooker smoky beef brisket

3.  Crush the garlic and pour half of the liquid smoke and crushed garlic in the bottom of the foil liner (this will help flavour the bottom side of the meat as it cooks). Pour the other half of the liquid smoke and crushed garlic on the top side of the meat and rub it in.

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

4. Place the brisket in the foil liner and wrap up the top to seal in the heat. Slow cook on low for 6- 8 hours or high for 3- 4 hours (I opted for high since I started this recipe mid day and was it was as juicy and tender as ever). 

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

5. When cooked you can either serve immediately or allow to cool in the crock pot insert and refrigerate overnight. Tip: by allowing the brisket to cool in the insert overnight you can skim off the fat from the liquid that seeped out during the cooking process (none of the liquid in the photos was added, that’s all from the brisket- yum!). Leave the remaining liquid that’s full of flavour in the slow cooker to keep the brisket juicy while you re- heat it and use it to make a delicious gravy. This is purely preference and not a necessary step, but I recommend giving it a try when you have the time.

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

slow cooker smoky beef brisket

I served mine with rosemary mashed potatoes and fresh carrots and beans from our garden. I glazed them with a simple seasoning of olive oil, salt and pepper and put them under the broiler to cook. For the gravy I simply added 1 tsp of organic corn starch to some warm water and mixed it in with the juices left over from the cooking process. 

slow cooker smoky beef brisket rosemary mashed potatoes 

slow cooker smoky beef brisket rosemary mashed potatoes  

slow cooker smoky beef brisket rosemary mashed potatoesslow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables

slow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables 

slow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables

slow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables

slow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables   

slow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables and rosemary mashed potatoes

slow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables and rosemary mashed potatoesslow cooker smoky beef brisket with seasonal vegetables and rosemary mashed potatoes   

Don’t have a slow cooker or wanting to upgrade? Here are 4 options to check out:  

Hamilton Beach 4 Quart Slow Cooker

Crock Pot 4 Quart Slow Cooker

Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Slow Cooker

Crock Pot 8 Quart Slow Cooker

About Heritage Meats

Located in Langley, BC, Heritage Meats specializes in gourmet, high- quality, and specialty foods including gluten- free, organic, and premium quality meats. Since opening in 2003, it’s become a destination, offering a selection of everything from deli items, pantry staples, and meat to gourmet and specialty items (including exotic meats!) hard to find in most stores. All of the meat and poultry carried in the store is non- medicated- no hormones, antibiotics, or animal by- products- and the friendly staff can help you with any questions you may have.

In addition to the exotic meats mentioned in this post, they also carry a selection of other quality meat and deli items:

– Beef (non medicated Alberta beef, dry aged for flavour and tenderness)
– Chicken (local, non medicated, air chilled)
– Pork (local, non medicated, free run)
– Sausages (made in house, no fillers, gluten free)
– Entrees (made in house by the shop’s chef, with a large selection of gluten free options)

To learn more about the store and it’s product offerings, visit the Heritage Meats website and find them on social media:

Facebook: Heritage Meats & Gourmet Specialty Foods | Twitter: @HeritageMeats

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smoky slow cooker beef brisket

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

September 18, 2017
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Dried Orange Scent Sachet

Posted in At Home, DIY, Fall, Seasonal by

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

It’s beginning to feel like Fall… And in less than two weeks the season will officially be here. Bring on all the cozy: the sweaters, boots, scarves, hats, hot apple cider (call me old fashioned but I like it better than PSLs), Fall decor, candles, baking……. all of it. I’ve started adding some Fall touches around the house and as much as I love LOVE candles, I wanted a flameless option to add a seasonal scent to the house.

This little DIY was inspired by none other than the food dehydrator that has been a staple in my kitchen for the past few weeks as we pick fresh herbs from the garden to dry (we have a round one like this one and love it). I’ve seen lots of cute ideas with dehydrated oranges (warning: this may not be the last one you see here 😉 ), and this DIY is a great way to add to the coziness of your home for the Fall by making it smell amazing. You can choose any scent combinations you like, but I really like the smell of coffee and added citrus essential oil to help keep the house smelling fresh. I opted to make a sachet that I can tuck out of reach from the kids, but pouring everything into a jar or vase would also make for a pretty home made potpourri to display (those dried oranges just make everything look pretty). This is also a great option if you’re trying to avoid artificial air fresheners- simply switch up the scents for the season to keep your home smelling fresh.

Materials

1 large navel orange

Citrus essential oil

Piece of paper towel or tissue paper

1- 2 cups coffee beans

Paper bag

Lightweight fabric bag (or use a piece of fabric tied at the top)

Directions

  1. Begin by cutting the orange into slices not quite 1/4″ thick

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges 

2. Place slices into a food dehydrator (or you can preheat your oven to 250 degrees and dry the slices for 2- 3 hours)

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

3. When the orange slices have dried, allow to cool. Add a few drops to a piece of paper towel or tissue paper.

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

4. Pop all of the items into the paper bag- the dried orange slices, coffee beans, and paper towel/ tissue paper- and wrap it up so nothing can fall out. To be extra secure tape the seams so no coffee beans fall out.

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

5. Pop everything into the fabric bag and tie at the top. Pick where you want to have the scent in your home and place the sachet. You can tuck into a closet or add it to a Fall display/ vignette. 

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges  

Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

As I mentioned, you can also dry the orange slices in the oven at a low temp for a few hours, but I love the option of a dehydrator and the round one we have gets a lot of use. If you’re thinking of buying one, this one is similar to the one we have and works great.

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Fall scent sachet DIY with dried oranges

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

September 14, 2017
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5 Day Trips You Can Take From Vancouver

Posted in At Home, Family, travel by

Map flat lay- day trips to take from Vancouver, BC

Disclosure: This shop was compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CanadianTire #QuakerState #CollectiveBias

It’s that time of year when we all get back into our Fall routines, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to squeeze in some fun family time around school and activities. Road trips and travelling are a popular activity for families any time of year, but if you’re looking for some shorter trip ideas, I’m sharing a few day trips you can take leaving from Vancouver. Whether you live in the city or one of the surrounding cities, you’ll be able to reach any of these places without spending the whole day on the road/ travelling.

The best part about these day trips is they don’t require as much planning/ packing, making them easy to organize and prepare for. Some simple prep before you go is all you need: pack up a cooler, get the kids outfits and bags ready the night before, make sure your car is gassed up and good to go (have you checked the fluids/ given it an oil change recently?), and maybe pack some driving snacks for everyone to keep them happy. And even though Summer is winding down, these day trips from Vancouver are fun year- round.

DIY oil change with Quaker State available at Canadian Tire

1. Whistler

This place doesn’t need much of an intro. With it’s year- round activities, there’s always plenty to do. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, skiing/ snowboarding, or want to relax and enjoy good food, it’s all here (for good eats check out El Furniture Warehouse where all meals are $4.95). The drive along the Sea to Sky Highway is beautiful with plenty of places to stop along the way (Shannon Falls is my favourite pit stop), but there’s also the mining museum, Hells Gate, and plenty of other scenic stops/ attractions along the way.

Approx. 1.5- 2 hours drive from Vancouver.

2. Cultus Lake/ Chilliwack

Growing up I loved visiting Cultus Lake or the water slides across from the lake in the Summer. Rent a boat and go wakeboarding or slow things down and go fishing- the lake is a popular Summer spot, but beautiful all year (it doesn’t have to be hot and sunny to enjoy a picnic lakeside!). Chilliwack is a favourite day trip spot for families living in Vancouver and surrounding areas who want to get away and enjoy the country without having to go too far from home, and it’s gaining more and more attention for it’s growing local scene. Family- friendly events are held throughout the year, including markets, BBQs, craft beer festivals, and a corn maze (just to name a few) so even if it isn’t the middle of Summer there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Approx. 1 hour 15 min drive from Vancouver

3. Fort Langley

If you don’t want to go as far east as Chilliwack, Fort Langley is another scenic locale, within an hour’s drive of the City. Visit the Fort and soak up some local history, enjoy a variety of shopping and eating options (Trading Post Brewing’s Eatery and Ritual Ice Cream are two of my favourites, also check out Little White House, a converted heritage house featuring a boutique and cafe); or go for a walk in/ around this scenic town. The Fort- to- Fort Trail is a great option if you enjoy biking/ hiking, and you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes if you want to spend some time on the water. This historic town is full of character and has plenty to offer visitors who want to get away from the city within a short drive.

Approx. 45 min drive from Vancouver

4. Bowen Island

Being a city on the coast, Vancouver isn’t far from countless islands accessible by ferry and Bowen Island is just a quick 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver. This is the perfect place to slow down and enjoy ‘island time’. When you’re here it’s easy to forget how close to Vancouver you are. When you arrive off the ferry any number of choices await in Snug Cove, including restaurants and shops; you can also rent paddleboards and kayaks right by the marina/ ferry dock. If you enjoy handcrafted, artisanal work, Artisan Square is home to shops and galleries featuring locals artists/ artisans and just a quick drive up the hill from Snug Cove. Drive further into the island for scenic hikes and other activities (if you’re a yoga lover, Nectar Yoga B&B is worth a visit, even if you’re only there for the day).

Approx. travel time: 20 min ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver

5. Vancouver Island

Hop on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawassen and head to the Island for a day. Visit the province’s capital and hit up a museum or go shopping in downtown Victoria or check out any number of other cities/ attractions on the Island. Tofino is worth the extra drive once you get off the ferry, or stop in Ucluelet for a closer option; both offer up beautiful beaches and during storm season the waves are an attraction in themselves. Cathedral Grove on the way is a natural wonder that you’ll want to stop at (perfect for a picnic lunch and stretching your legs, and be prepared to take lots of nature photos among these old- growth trees) and Coombs is a quirky little town that’s fun to visit. For a ferry ride and drive, you’ve got plenty to choose from, you just have to decide how to spend your time.

Getting Ready

Prepping a day or two in advance can save time and make getting on the road go much smoother morning- of, especially if you’ve got kids along for the ride. Stock up on food and drinks (fill a few extra water bottles for good measure) and any clothing/ gear you’ll need for your activities of choice. It’s easy to forget, but making sure your vehicle is ready to hit the road- whether for a long or short drive- is important. Since your vehicle is going to get you to and from your destination it’s a good idea to make sure it’s in good working order and this is a good time to check the oil and do a DIY oil change if needed. You can get everything you need at your local Canadian Tire (they’re made for life in Canada after all 😉 ), including oil change supplies plus other essentials for road trips (coolers, camping chairs, etc).

DIY oil change with Quaker State available at Canadian Tire

Tips for Performing an Oil Change

  • check your car’s owner’s manual before you start to ensure you pick up the right oil for your car
  • make sure you have all the supplies you need including funnel, drip tray, wrench, jack and jack stands or ramps, latex gloves, oil, oil filter, and any other items specific to your vehicle (like a drain plug washer)
  • take the safety precautions necessary to perform a DIY oil change safely, such as using blocks behind the wheels of the vehicle so it doesn’t roll if on a ramp

DIY oil change with Quaker State available at Canadian Tire

What Oil + Where to Buy

If you’re looking for a quality oil, Quaker State® Ultimate Durability™ Full Synthetic Motor Oil is a great choice and you can stock up for a great price at Canadian Tire. Their oils have been tested in severe driving conditions to ensure they help your car perform to the standard your family needs and protects your engine through it’s use- and then some. It’s not the first few kilometers after an oil change that you’ll appreciate the difference, it’s the thousands you drive after- think stop- and- go traffic, idling, and extreme temperature changes (hello Canadian weather!), that test the quality of the oil you use.

Quaker State puts quality first and tests their products (they tested their oils in taxi fleets throughout North America, with the results proving their oils provide twice the protection of the industry standard throughout its life) to ensure they provide the performance and durability you need:

  • Durability- oil remains fresh thanks to the fuel- saving additive
  • Engine life- heat- activated viscosity improvers and anti- wear additives kick in as the engine temperature increases to maintain oil thickness/ help extend your engine life
  • Performance- superior lubrication flow and pumpability in below- freezing temperatures

If you have never done a DIY oil change before, ask a staff member at Canadian Tire to help you find everything you need, including the right oil for your car. Quaker State is a great option, and whether you plan a long or a short road trip it will help your car get your family everywhere you need to go. I hope this post has given you some ideas for places around Vancouver to visit (and a friendly reminder to keep your vehicle maintenance up to date)!

DIY oil change with Quaker State available at Canadian Tire

Now I want to know: What are some of your favourite day trips to take with your family?

5 Day Trips to Take from Vancouver

September 8, 2017
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The Secret Dinner: A Night to Inspire

The Secret Dinner party table setting

It’s hard to believe that this evening- The Secret Dinner– was almost two weeks ago already. After months of preparing and planning, the evening celebrating the launch of the Captured In Squares website (the photo styling company I run with friend and blogger, Janette of Ava to Zoe) came and went in a flash- don’t the best kind of nights always go by too fast? A lot of love and time went into planning what Janette and I hoped would be a creative way to launch our website and we’re sharing some of the details on our blogs.

The catch of The Secret Dinner was that hostesses and location would be kept a secret until the last minute (hence the name), but hints were dropped on the event’s Instagram page so guests would have some idea of what to expect. I had the task of taking Janette’s idea of a secret dinner (all credit goes to her for the idea) and bringing all the details together while she hustled away on getting the website ready for the launch. Inspired by a wall of dreamcatchers, we wanted to go with a style that was a little bit boho/ rustic/ vintage with a white, gold, green colour scheme with accents of dark red for drama/ contrast. Let the pinning marathon begin! 

The theme of the evening was ‘a night to inspire’ and we wanted to use it as an opportunity to bring together some of our supporters and clients since starting Captured In Squares as a way of saying thank you. It was a chance to enjoy an al fresco meal in good company while swapping stories and experiences from being in business. Hose d’oeuvres from Fork & Knife Catering and flatbread from Rocky Mountain Flatbread were served alongside wine from Evolve Cellars, followed by a show- stopping naked cake by The Cake Mama.

We wanted the dinner to be outside to make the most of the last of the late Summer nights and our date in August didn’t disappoint. As a final way of keeping everything a secret until the last minute, guests had to walk down a path to enter the dinner area, turning a corner to see the set up. We opted for a low- lying palette table set with white and gold, vintage wine glasses, and wooden cutlery; menus were placed at each setting topped with a fresh sprig of greenery from my parent’s garden. Pretty finishing touches included a table- length runner of fresh seeded eucalyptus (Budget Blooms) from placed on top of sheet music and fabric, tea lights (Canvas Candle Co), the words ‘inspire’, ‘ignite’, ‘achieve’ in gold calligraphy (Paper + Parties Co) at each place setting, and a notebook topped with a mini dream catcher (Shop Ava to Zoe) for each guest. Since it was a low table, piles of cushions and blankets surrounded the table so the ladies could lay them out as desired and sit comfortably. 

We kept the decor simple, using a palette to display a selection of the photos from Impressed App we’ve taken since starting Captured In Squares, and decorating the food table in a vintage lace tablecloth and fresh flower bouquet provided by Budget Blooms. Fresh greens and a dream catcher (another Shop Ave to Zoe piece) served as a backdrop, with a vintage magazine wrack as a wine holder on the table. The cake made for a pretty focal point, finished with fresh flowers from Budget Blooms and a gold ‘Captured In Squares’ calligraphy cake topper from Paper + Parties. 

We ended the evening with prize bags contributed by some of the event’s sponsors: The Handpicked Home, Canvas Candle Co, Kristina Benson Art, Marsh&Mallow, and Budget Blooms, and a heartfelt thank you to the ladies in attendance. The notebooks and mini dream catchers from the table were sent home with the guests along with a swag bag of goodies as our way of showing our appreciation for everyone who came. And just like that, the evening was over. Janette and I couldn’t have been happier with how everything came together and how we marked the milestone of launching our website. It was a heart full moment and we are both so grateful for everyone who helped us bring it together and attended. For more details about The Secret Dinner, see below and visit this post on the CIS website. 

The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner fresh greens table runner

   The Secret Dinner party table setting  The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner Shop Ava to Zoe mini dream catchers

The Secret Dinner white flower bouquet

The Secret Dinner party decor Shop Ava to Zoe dream catcher

The Secret Dinner Evolve Cellars Wine

The Secret Dinner Fork and Knife Catering appetizers The Secret Dinner Fork and Knife Catering appetizers The Secret Dinner Rocky Mountain Flatbread

The Secret Dinner flower bouquet by Budget Blooms

The Secret Dinner naked cake by The Cake Mama

The Secret Dinner Paper + Parties gold calligraphy cake topper The Secret Dinner naked cake by The Cake Mama

The Secret Dinner palette photo wall

The Secret Dinner palette photo wall

The Secret Dinner fresh greens decor

The Secret Dinner fresh greens decor

The Secret Dinner swag bags from Essential Packaging The Secret Dinner guests with balloon garland from Paper + Parties Co

Thank you to these sponsors for helping us bring together The Secret Dinner 2017!

#SecretDinner2017

Photos & Styling by Captured In Squares

Food & Refreshments

Appetizers: Caprese Skewers, Lemon & Garlic Chicken Skewers, & Prosciutto and Mint Wrapped Melon Skewers- Fork & Knife Catering | Facebook | Instagram

Selection of flatbreads: Fig & Brie, Parma, Classic, & Tomato Basil- Rocky Mountain Flatbread | Facebook | Instagram

Naked Cake- The Cake Mama | Facebook | Instagram

Wine- Evolve Cellars | Facebook | Instagram

Decor

Balloon garland, gold striped plates, cake topper + gold words (on cutlery)- Paper + Parties | Facebook | Instagram

Florals & greenery garland (on table)- Budget Blooms | Facebook | Instagram

CIS photo prints (displayed on pallette)- Impressed App | Facebook | Instagram

Invitations (emailed to guests)- A Little Love Creative | Facebook | Instagram

Swag Bags + Prizes

Bags & tissue- Essential Packaging | Facebook | Instagram

Gift tags- A Paper Life | Facebook | Instagram

Prizes

$30 Gift card- The Handpicked Home | Facebook | Instagram

$100 e- gift card- Kristina Benson Art | Facebook | Instagram

$50 candle gift pack- Canvas Candle Co | Facebook | Instagram

Floral bouquet- Budget Blooms | Facebook | Instagram

Gourmet marshmallows- Marsh&Mallow | Facebook | Instagram

Swag

$10 coupon codes- Kristina Benson Art | Facebook | Instagram

Set of free photo prints- Impressed App | Facebook | Instagram

Mini white dream catchers- Shop Ava to Zoe | Facebook | Instagram

Individual gourmet marshmallows- Marsh&Mallow | Facebook | Instagram

September 7, 2017
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Healthy Meals Made Easy: Fresh Prep Review

How do you make the weekly routine a little easier? With school starting up this week, planning meals ahead can go a long way and for those really busy days, meal delivery services are a great way to make sure everyone is eating healthy even while on the go.  Over the Summer I had the chance to try Fresh Prep, a meal delivery service here in the Metro Vancouver area that delivers everything you need for healthy meals right to your door; all you have to do is sign up and select the plan and meals your family wants. I’m sharing about one of the meals we tried from Fresh Prep plus giving OHP readers the chance to enjoy a week’s worth of meals for free! (see discount code at end of post).

If you’re looking for some options to take a little bit of the pressure off with busy schedules, a meal delivery service is a great option and much more affordable than you may think (meals start at just $10- click here to learn more). When you factor in the time it takes to go grocery shopping, prep and cook everything, and the expense of the ingredients, meal delivery services are a much more budget conscious option than you might think. They’re also a great way to try eating a little bit healthier when you’re feeling pressed for time. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything into a day and preparing fresh healthy meals can get sidetracked and substituted with more convenient/ less healthy options.

I’ve been trying to get back into a meal planning routine but this was my first time trying a meal delivery service. What first got my attention when I checked out the Fresh Prep website is the attention to quality ingredients and offering full- flavoured, healthy options. We took this as a chance to try some meals we haven’t made at home before and Fresh Prep offers a great variety of meals to choose from.

We opted for the Indonesian Gado Gado with Peanut Dressing and Hot Bombay Chicken Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Mint Yogurt Sauce. When the meals were delivered we were impressed by how simple Fresh Prep makes everything, from how the ingredients were pre- measured to the straight- forward recipes. Added bonus: all of the ingredients are organic/ non- GMO, meaning you’re not just simplifying meals, you’re making them with the best ingredients possible. It couldn’t have been easier to create a healthy meal in under half an hour, and everyone loved it (how often does that happen?!). Even if you’re only looking for a few meals a week rather than a full week’s worth, a meal delivery service like Fresh Prep can help take the pressure off.

Here’s how the Indonesian Gado Gado turned out- yummmmmmm!

How it works:  

Go to the Fresh Prep website and select the meal plan you’d like (choose from 2- person meals and family plans for 4 people) and how many recipes you’d like delivered each week (choose from 2, 3, or 4). You can also add info if you have dietary requests such as vegan or vegetarian meals and if you’d like to skip a week.

Select the recipes you would like delivered and place your order.

Everything comes delivered in cooler bags in ensure freshness, so all you have to do is pop the ingredients into your fridge when they arrive. When it’s time to cook, simply follow the instructions on the recipe card provided and enjoy a delicious and healthy meal in 30 minutes or less.

Want to try Fresh Prep with your family? Use code OurHappyPlace  to enjoy your first week of meals for free! Code valid until September 31, 2017.

September 5, 2017
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