Wednesday, 28 November 2012

An Icy Day at Norvan Falls

A few weeks ago, it was Saturday and there was no rain... these two rarely happen at the same time, and so we made the most of it by heading to Lynn Valley Regional Park in North Van. 

It was the first time since we've been here that we experienced just below zero temperatures, it made for some pretty cool pictures.

There was a thin layer of frost covering everything.

The creek was a beautiful blue colour and looked icy cold too!

Although, the sun would deceive you into thinking otherwise!

The forester in the family took a liking to these trees!

The hike to the falls was around 15 km there and back (would've been shorter but we got off at the wrong bus stop) and took us around four and a half hours.

I was still pretty enthusiastic at this point, but that faded somewhat on the walk back!

By found this unusual tree...

and eventually we made it to the falls.

Just to prove how cold the water was, there was even icicles on the underside of this log!

We had a picnic by the falls and enjoyed the scenery before heading back. 
It was another fun filled Saturday for us and now the colder weather has finally arrived we are planning an even more exciting Saturday this weekend as we head to Whistler Mountain! Here's hoping I can remember how to ski!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Oh say can you see...our first trip across the border!

So everyone is well aware of my love for America! So you will all understand that I have been desperate to go Stateside ever since we arrived! There was one night we drove out to a Wal Mart Superstore in the neighbouring city of Surrey, and a road sign was taunting me that the US border was just 8km away but the hire car we were driving at the time could not be taken outside of Canada, so I was ridunculously excited when we signed up to a new car rental system that did let us go to the States - thanks zipcar! 

I got very excited in preparation for our visit...I mapped out on google maps where Target, Wal Mart and Costco were and I looked up local cupcakeries.  I made an Americana playlist on my ipod and we woke up crazy early, I may or may not have thrown on a patriotic tee and we were good to go! 

I was slightly apprehensive approaching the border.  Even though we're obviously legit, I still get nervous with all those border officials around looking so gruff! So I restrained myself from playing the pre planned playlist before we got to the border, just in case...and I kept my levels of excitement pretty restrained but all it took was a 15 minute wait inside the customs building where we filled out one of those landing cards, they scanned our fingerprints, stamped our passports and we were off! 

I squealed with delight as we left the building, shouting at Byron 'We're going to America'!!! I skipped to the car, and blasted out my playlist and dreamed all the way to Bellingham about the goodies that lay ahead! 

So of course our first stop had to be at Target! I got some disapproving looks from By as I took this picture, so the rest of the pics are just ones I took on my phone! 

Although Canada does have a lot of cool stuff we don't get in England, I was certainly expecting it to have way more of the same items as America does.  So the first time I went to a supermarket in Vancouver and raced to the Oreo aisle and found this...

I was pretty disappointed! Regular Oreos...and Golden Oreos! Really?

I knew Target wouldn't let me down on the Oreo it was the first place I headed when we got inside...

and of course I found Cool Mint (my fave), Triple Double Chocolate (which I hadn't even tried before!), Mint Fudge Cremes, Birthday Oreos, Double Stuff and all the flavours dreams are made of! It was awesome! 

After that I headed to their bakeware section where I was met with so many fun baking pans and spatulas.  Let me also tell you that not only does America have tons more variety but everything is SO much cheaper.  I'm not even sure why, but needless to say we weren't the only ones with B.C licence plates shopping around in Bellingham that day! The place was crawling with Canadians, because who wouldn't choose to drive an hour south of the border to cut the price of their shopping in half!


I also admired their Christmas gift wrap and gift bags, and started to get excited that Christmas is on the way!! 

After browsing around the mall and getting some crazy cheap deals on clothes and more baking stuff, we headed to Costco! I got 4 packs of unsalted butter at the American Costco for the same price as one pack of butter bought in Vancouver - is that crazy or is that crazy! The residents of Bellingham have made their disapproval of Canadian shoppers rather public and even created a Facebook group asking for 'American only' shopping times! So we slyly walked away from our BC car so as not to create a scene! 

We ate at this restaurant called Billy McHale's.  It was pretty late in the day by this point, as we had got so carried away shopping there hadn't been time to think about food...and being hungry makes me grumpy so I was at the point where I was being a bit picky about where we were going to eat.  I knew we had to make it good, and I definitely wanted to eat somewhere that we couldn't find in Vancouver.  Billy McHale's didn't look like much from the outside but upon inspecting the menu and seeing they did coconut milkshakes it was a done deal! Milkshakes so thick that you can barely get them through the straw are my fave! and Billy knew how to make them just the way I like them.  By was pretty impressed with his Reese's peanut butter shake too! 

and then I ordered a pulled pork burger with sweet potato fries and felt like my day couldn't really get any better! but it did because we landed up here...

because ever since my first visit as a 17 year old, I have been in love with Walmart! I made By pose with his brown sack of groceries because I just love how American it is! There was lots of eye rolling before I took this pic! 

This is what I've been waiting for! seasonal candy! Hershey's kisses in every flavour, so of course I had to grab the candy cane variety and the mint truffle ones! 

and then we walked past the gun section! It's not every day you can say you do that whilst at the supermarket! 

and the icing on the cake, literally, was finding this cute little Cupcakery as we drove away from Walmart! 

I was still so full from our massive meal that I could only manage a mini, but it was super tasty and I'm sure I will be back! We also stumbled upon a sports shop after we left here, and picked up some 'runners' as they call them here for $20! which is pretty much unheard of - we'd been searching for some in Vancouver and couldn't find any for less than $100!

It was most definitely a successful day of bargain hunting!

I was pretty excited to get out my stash when I got home - here's all the awesome baking stuff I got! 

Baking pans, pancake flippers, silicone cookie mats and a KitchenAid handheld mixer!

Check out the giant sized bag of choc chips I got in Costco! and peanut butter and choc chips, graham crackers, choc mint marshmallows and some basics like flour and sugar.

and last but definitely not least, my prized candy and baking supplies! Check out that giant bag of coconut m&m's - how lucky am I! 

I'm rationing it well and making it last...but I can definitely foresee another trip to the States coming up soon because it's too exciting not to! 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Halloween & Enjoying The Last of Fall

I had big plans for Halloween, we were going to go to a pumpkin patch and do all the North American things I've always dreamed of, and we were going to go to Fright Night at the local theme park...and then the rain came and ruined all those plans! So neither of those things happened, and we had to just buy our pumpkins at the supermarket, how boring!

We did manage to make it to UBC's apple festival a few weeks back, despite the rain, which was quite fun.  They love their apples in this part of the world and they had a tasting tent where you could try more than 60 different varieties!

I also tried warm apple cider for the first time, don't worry it's not the same as English cider and is actually non alcoholic! It was really tasty! Here I am posing with my cup and a load of pumpkins!

I also saw this giant pumpkin just growing in the soil! 

and they even had a contest for the longest peel! They also named a new apple variety which was apparently pretty exciting for everyone! and we managed to pick up a bag of apples that tasted like sweet juicy can't even buy them in the supermarket so we were pretty pleased with that purchase! and our afternoon of 'fall' related fun!

So our actual Halloween was pretty uneventful.  We carved the pumpkins at the top of this post, got in tons of candy and I was super excited for all the cute little trick or treaters who were going to knock at our door! I kept peering out the window wondering where they were, well we only had one knock all night! Talk about disappointing! I've had more than that in England, but I think we just live in the wrong neighbourhood for that kind of thing! 

Luckily we went to a super awesome Halloween party to celebrate the holiday in style! On a side note I really should have taken some photos of the houses that go all out with Halloween decorations around here, it was seriously impressive! 

So on to our party! 

Denise and Dan, or Frieda and Vincent, hosted this fun costume party.  There were even prizes for the best costumes and the best food that people had brought!

Jessie and Jeff looked super cool decked out in glow sticks...

and they also made these super cute skeleton brownies!

Kelsey and Bruce came as Harry Potter and a fox (I think!).

Colonel Sanders and Wendy took the prize for the best costumes of the night! They certainly got my vote,  and they even brought a real tub of KFC chicken and frosties that went down well!

Peter came as a rather convincing James Bond whilst Cassie had gone all out with her gory make up and costume.

I went as a rather patriotic hockey fan, complete with maple leaf nails whilst By went as a nerd.  This is the first, and hopefully only time I will ever see him with a side parting! haha

Carl and Anna were a very convincing Bollywood couple,

and Nicole and Brandon were an 'item'.

Tara and Sean put in an appearance as salt and pepper!

and the prize for the best food was a tie between Anna's Indian starter and our pumpkin pretzels so it came down to a rock, paper, scissors battle that Anna was triumphant in! 

All in all a great night, definitely the best halloween party we've been to before!

We've actually had at least 4 rain free days this week which is pretty rare indeed so we've been out and about enjoying the last that fall has to offer, as the trees are starting to get bare now.  We walked to a park near our house last Sunday afternoon and snapped these pics...

Just check out how vivid those colours are! 

It's not 'fall' unless you have a leaf throwing pic - fact!

A few days later we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park after work one night because By still hadn't been there yet and I knew the colours would be gorgeous!

I'll just let the pictures do the talking!

I definitely think it is one of the most beautiful fall's, or autumn as we would say in England, that I've ever had the chance of experiencing! 

I would be more sad about it ending if it wasn't for the fact that winter on the way means snow, which means lots of trips to Whistler! which means Christmas is on the way, and after seeing how the Canadians went all out for Halloween I just know that Christmas is going to be bigger and better than ever!