stuck in love

Just finished watching Stuck In Love !  wonderfully delighted :-)

Storyline:

Meet the Borgens. William Borgens is an acclaimed author who hasn't written a word since his ex-wife Erica left him 3 years ago for another man. In between spying on Erica and casual romps with his married neighbour Tricia, Bill is dealing with the complexities of raising his teenage children Samantha and Rusty. Samantha is publishing her first novel and is determined to avoid love at all costs - after all she's seen what it has done to her parents. In between hook ups, she meets "nice guy" Lou who will stop at nothing to win her over. Rusty, is an aspiring fantasy writer and Stephen King aficionado, who is on a quest to gain 'life experiences'. He falls for the beautiful, but troubled Kate and gets his first taste of love and a broken heart. A tale of family, love (lost and found), and how endings can make new beginnings. There are no rewrites in life, only second chances.

It's true, there are no rewrites in life.  I wish there is but what a mess it would be !  I can't imagine going through the motions and not ever learning how to deal with it and move on.  We're the products of the choices we made, the route we took, the mistakes we committed.  By failing we learn to stand up and stand firm. 

The best line in this movie, for me, was when William said "we promise to wait for each other when the other is a little lost"...I don't know if I can go waiting the way he did as fidelity is a deal breaker for me.  But I also think it's easier say than done because sometime people do get lost and they need time to find their way back, they need a reminder of what they got.  I feel with God, anything is possible.  Broken heart and relationship can be mended if we look to Him for wisdom, strength, healing, and guidance.  He knows far too well the feeling of being betrayed.  All in all, a great movie on second chances.

...and Bibba was born...

Here I go on a new venture !  I've decided to open an online shop, selling hand sewn baby scarf/bib !!!  I've been sewing up a storm !  been bribing Bee with candies (so she'll model the scarf for me) and staying up late to code my online store.  I love fabric and sewing so this was a perfect combo for me !  Sewing cute stylish scarf for my baby girl and for other babies ?  don't mind if I jump in head first :-)

I've been thinking about how to run this business for days now.  I'm passionate about sewing and want it to maintain as something I love to do.  Every time I sit down in front of the Juki machine, I dream of what will become of the fabrics.  I come from a family of seamstress so it's no surprise that I love threads.  I want to do this hand sewn business thing but there's something missing... I just can't put my finger on it. 



A few Sundays ago, when I was telling Joan that my mom knitted a sweater for my baby girl, she told me she loves knitting and that she knits for charity !  she and a bunch of ladies get together to knit every week.  They sell their creations at craft fairs to raise fund for a local homeless shelter.  I love the idea so much and after talking about it with her again, I am confirmed of what God has been wanting me to do.  It feels right in my heart.  I long been wanting to put more money into good causes.  There're so many needs around me and I want to contribute more than what I'm currently doing.  I thought, if I can use the fund from this business and put it towards greater good, it's a win for all.  Seller and buyers alike, we all can help contribute a little to the less fortunate. 



There are 2 organizations I want to contribute to.  One is Burnaby Safe House and one is Free the Children (for the 2013 list of top graded Canadian charitable organizations click here).  Let's see where this will take me !  Please pray for wisdom as I tread this new water !

I'm so excited and can't wait to get going with this !!! 

H&M 25% off total purchase, reg. price only

Here you go !  another coupon for holiday shopping.  If in doubt, it's best to print the picture.  I've always use my phone to snap a pic. and used it.  It all depends on the sales associate you get.  They should accept the mobile picture because on the coupon it say show email on mobile device.  Say you have no data and no printer so the picture of the coupon is all you got !!!  Good luck !

IF you're printing:  click here to print the whole email with coupon at bottom


 

repost : the secret to shooting sumptuous food photos


Eigensinn Farm Pork Steak with Green beans cooked with speck and garlic scape at Haisai restaurant in Singhampton on Sept. 6, 2013.  (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

 
In March, I attended a food-photography workshop in Sicily with Béatrice Peltre, author of the cookbook La Tartine Gourmande. The true value was in watching Peltre work: endless adjustments and retakes, extreme pickiness when selecting produce and the patience to keep trying until the shot was right.

Martha Stewart, one might think, would know all of this, with her extensive media experience and general air of OCD. And yet her Twitter feed of late has had the look of being hijacked by a half-blind toddler. The images, collected and spread far and wide by BuzzFeed, range from out of focus and badly lit to earning comparisons to the origins of penicillin and the contents of certain bathroom fixtures. Not a good thing.

Food photography, for all the derision it receives, isn’t easy, especially when shooting with a smartphone. Here’s how to do it right.

Don’t use your flash: “The best food under harsh lighting conditions won’t look appetizing,” says Vancouver photographer Joann Pai. “Never use the flash on a smartphone.” If it’s dark, look for external light sources, such as candles or a lamp. In daytime, shoot near a window, with the subject out of direct sunlight.

Don’t stop at one: “You’re never going to get it on the first shot,” says Vancouver photographer Shawn Taylor. “Try the same thing with little tweaks: lighting, where you place the focus, exposure, angle.”

Think about angles: “For me, the best angle is top-down,” says Pai. “It gives you a chance to style what’s around the table.” Taylor agrees, and says that trying different angles is key to getting a creative shot. “45 degrees is boring because that’s how you see your food when you’re sitting at the table.”

Don’t centre everything: “The fact that we can move the phone quickly to what we want to show is really empowering,” says Peltre, who suggests playing with cropping and what appears within the frame. Pai is a believer in the classic rule of thirds, placing the subject one-third of the way in from the photo’s edges. “I like to place my subjects off-centre.”

Don’t post straight online: A little adjustment of your image can go a long way, whether it’s via a photo-editing app (see sidebar) or just an Instagram filter. “When you’ve got bad light, sometimes the filter fixes things,” says Taylor.

Apps to try
Joann Pai suggests thinking outside the Instagram frame when shooting with your phone. Here are her three essential apps:

ProCamera 7 (iOS, itunes.apple.com)
Use this app to control camera functionality while taking photos, including manually adjusting shutter speed, focus, exposure and white balance – and displaying live ISO and shutter-speed data.

Snapseed (iOS, Android, Chrome, snapseed.com, itunes.apple.com)
Adjust ambience, brightness, and more in this mobile- or Web-based photo editor that’s been owned by Google since late last year.

VSCO Cam (iOS, itunes.apple.com)
Pai likes this app for its filters, which she prefers over those in Instagram as they’re more food-friendly. “Filters should alter the mood of the scene but not take away from what the food actually looks like.”

take me out to the market

 
I enjoy strolling around and browsing Granville Island market !  I often spend a good amount of  time gawking at all the bakeries there.  They look amazing and taste very yummy too.  If you have a sweet tooth, you will fall in love with all the sweet shops in the market. 

Many shops on the island are overpriced so do shop with care :-)  My rule of  thumb regarding fruits/veggies is, if I can get the same at local market or farm, I would get them there instead.  The market here is best for hard to find/specialty items.  Chocolate and sweet bakeries are superb here ! Oh and the seafood too ! 

A typical day for us on the island would be getting hot drinks, sweet bakeries, and a bag of salmon jerky from the public market.  We then head outside to the community space to eat our goodies and to enjoy the live music (they always have local musicians).  Bee likes to chase the hundreds of birds hanging out there.  When food is done, we would go for stroll around, taking in the sight and sound.  They have a lot of neat shops outside the market and a kids market with an indoor playground.

On a dry day, I recommend taking a walk down towards the marina and checking out the floating houses there.  They are quite handsome to look at. 

 
In the summer, there's a waterpark for kids up on the hill.  You can bring a blanket and have a picnic up on the grassy area while the kids play.  It's quite of a pleasant outdoor area.

Now that it's beginning to feel like winter, the indoor food court is a nice cozy place for dessert and snacks.  They have a good selection of fast food vendors here.  If you have loud kids like mine, this place is great !  No kid ? well, there are some fine restaurants around that sure will please your palate.  There's Bridges, Dockside, Edible, Sandbar, to name a few.  Also, just before the entrance to the island, there's Afghan Horsemen restaurant.  Food is excellent.  One of my favorite restaurant.

Below are some pictures we took on our recent visit, after CandyTown (Christmas street in Yaletown, very small, not too many vendors, wasn't worth the expensive parking fee).










 
Lovebug all bundled up !

Granville Island Public Market 1689 Johnston St | Vancouver, BC | (604) 666-6655

$10 off $40 from Well.ca

online shop canada
 
 
GET $10 OFF $40 WITH CODE tracycollin
*new customer only*
 

easy recipe : Vietnamese chicken noodle soup with bamboo shoot

With the cold weather moving in, all I want is hot noodle soup for dinner.  Here's a recipe for an easy tasty dinner.  It needs only few ingredients and if you're Vietnamese, you probably have all of these ingredients in your pantry already !  Simple quick dinner for the win :-)

I just started to write recipe so please ask if something is unclear.  Everything is estimated (to closest unit of measurement).  If there's an "about" word before the ingredient, try a little bit first then add some more in after.  I cook mostly by eyeing and tasting :-/


 
What you will need for 4 servings:

- 10 cups water
- 1 whole chicken (I prefer free range) OR 4 large chicken legs (about 3 pounds)
- 2 cans of whole bamboo shoots or a pack of fresh one if avail. (I prefer Aroy-D brand)
- about 3 tablespoons of good fish sauce (Viet Huong 3 Crabs brand is the best kind)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- a small 1" chuck of rock sugar or less than a teaspoon of sugar
- about 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder (optional, for coloring only)
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/2 white onion, quartered
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1 bunch of green onions
- handful of cilantro

Rice noodles:

2 pack of round rice noodles cook as instructed on package.  Usually, I cook them in 8 cups of cold water.  Bring to boil and let boil for about 7-10 minutes.  Turn off heat, close lid for 5 min.  Test for doneness by pinching a noodle, if break apart it's done).  Drained in colander.

Instructions:

- Clean the chicken and set aside
- In a large pot, put in 10 cups of cold filtered water
- Put the chicken in the cold water and turn the stove on high, to boil it
- Once bubbling, put in the turmeric powder, this will make the chicken and broth yellow (for look only, opt out if you don't have turmeric around)
- Let the chicken boil in the water for about 20 min, then turn down heat to medium/low, close the lid (for at least 15 min.)

 
- While the chicken is cooking, wash the green onions and cilantro.  Thinly sliced the green onions and roughly chopped up the cilantro. 
- Take the bamboo shoots out of cans, washed in cold water, and thinly sliced it length wise (long)

- Remove the chicken from the pot, the water from the chicken should run clear.  Set aside to cool.

 

- Skim the top of the broth (I usually run the broth through a mesh layered with a paper towel, the fat gets trapped in the fiber and this usually remove most of the fat from the broth)
- Quartered the white onions and put it in the pot
- Put in the sliced bamboo shoots
- Put the in the fish sauce, salt and rock sugar. Taste the broth, and if needed, add more fish sauce to your liking.  Remember, once you pour the soup over the noodles, the broth will be diluted a bit.)

- Remove the meat from the chicken (if using whole chicken, leave the wings and thighs) and put the bones back into the pot (to sweeten the broth).  Simmer on medium for at least 20 min.

- You can either hand shred the chicken meat or slice them (I shred them because it's easy !!! one less cutting board and knife to wash :)

When ready to eat, REMOVE the bones and onions from the stock, ADD the sautéed shallot to broth and bring the broth to boil.

Serving:



- Put noodles into a bowl, put the chicken meat on top, scoop in the broth and bamboo shoots.  The noodles should submerge in the broth.  Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.  Top with a dash of pepper and Sriracha hot chilli sauce or slices of chili.

* If I have guests over, I usually put a small dish of fish sauce with a few slices of chilli on the table for those who wants a saltier broth.
 

relaxing dinner with a baby and a toddler ? what ?

this is a lunch set up picture !  they look calm in this picture don't they ?
 
For a while, dinner time was a stressful time for us.  A typical dinner would be us trying to get our slow eater toddler (she's no longer picky, just chew slowly) to eat, slow down our fast eater baby so she doesn't choke !  all the while trying to put something into our growling stomach !   It's no fun for all of us.  By the time our toddler finished her food, we've lost our appetite because our food has now gone cold.  Some day we're too exhausted to reheat the food and feed ourselves.  Someday we go to bed feeling like we never had dinner.

I love food !  I enjoy eating and now that it's becoming a chore, it bothers me to no end.  I decided to do something about it.  Dinner sucks because of the kids !  So I eliminated them :-)  I started to feed my kids first, feed them their dinner early !!!!   I figured that's the only way our dinner will not be interrupted.  Until they are older, we will eat together again.  For now, I need time to eat and digest my food so I can have the strength to keep up with the 2 little monsters :-)  My husband needs to eat too !  Everyday, after greeting us, he would say "I'm so hungry" !  The man just came home from a stressful job, he needs food to nourish him !  We all need to eat ;-)

At our house, we usually have dinner around 6:30pm so I try to feed the kids around 5:45, 6 o'clock.  They like to eat together, and yelling, laughing, and screaming together !  all the while with me singing and talking to them !  It's a gong show but by the time we set up our dinner, things quiet down a notch, the kids leave us alone because they're full.  Husband and I get to eat hot food, vent about our day, sip our coco water, yap some more about whatever.  The kids are often found eating fruits (we usually have fruits after dinner, an asian thing ?) and playing at our feet (or dancing to Katy Perry's Firework).   The kids entertain each other and we get to EAT !  It's nice and dare I say ?  r.e.l.a.x.i.n.g.

I am fully aware that we're not eating together.   It's temporary sanity for us, for now.  We're still together as a family in one room.  We're all talking to each other.  Sharing our day stories.  I know other parents might be judging us or wagging their fingers !  but this is what works for us.  We're not stress out !  We don't do it all the time but most days.  For me, I feel if we're happy parents we will raise happy kids !
 

Family Christmas Activities Guide around Metro Vancouver

It's mid November already and before I know it, the hustle and bustle of the holiday will be sweeping me in.   I thought I should quickly write up a post on what to do around town during this festive time with little ones in tow.  Christmas is my favorite season !

I will separate this Christmas Activities Guide into 3 sections:  BY DONATION, PAY ADMISSION and FREE.

If you're considering checking out the PAY ADMISSION venues, I highly recommend going there early December to avoid the crowd.  For those with wee ones, the street lights displays are great because you can come and go at your convenience ! Babies and kids of all ages love those brightly lit Christmas lights.  Dress warm, make a cup of coco to-go for yourself, take a stroll with your little ones and watch them marvel at the sight of twinkling lights.


BY DONATION:


STANLEY PARK BRIGHT NIGHTS
Date:  December 5, 2013 - January 5, 2014
During the holiday season, the Bright Nights Train and Plaza at Stanley Park sparkles with three million twinkling lights, decorating the darkness that comes early at this time of year.

Entrance to the Bright Nights Train Plaza is by donation (you don't need to purchase train tickets to see the holiday lights). Donations will be accepted at the front gate. We suggest a minimum $4.00 donation.

If you're interested in the train ride:
*Partial proceeds from the sale of Bright Nights tickets go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families.
Train tickets:
Adult: $11.00 includes GST;
Child, Youth & Seniors: $7.00 includes GST

(Children & Youth 3-17, Seniors 65+)

Children Under 3 years of age are free
Matinee (Wed, Sat & Sun Matinees 11am - 3pm): $6.00 (all ages)
Hours & Tickets info:
http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx
http://www.burnfund.org/our_programs/bright_nights.php

It's beautiful here !  We went before we had the kids so we might take them to check out the lights this year.  We probably will do the train ride as my eldest, who's 3, loves train.  I don't know how my 9 months will fare but we'll find out soon enough!


PAY ADMISSION:

VANCOUVER CHRISTMAS MARKET
Date:  November 22nd - December 24th
Hours:  11am - 9pm

Admission is $6 for adults (13+) Monday to Friday from 4:00pm to 9:00pm and weekends from 11:00am to 9:00pm. Adult admission is $3 Monday to Friday from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Youth admission is $3, children (up to 6 years old ) are free. Rates include tax and tickets can be purchased online in advance.

Entrance to the market is near the corner of Georgia and Hamilton in downtown Vancouver. Follow the Vancouver Christmas Market on Facebook and Twitter for more information about activities, events, and live entertainment.


FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS AT VANDUSEN BOTANICAL GARDEN (vancouver)
A magical experience for the whole family with 1.4 million twinkling lights.
Date:  December 11 - January 4, 2014 (closed December 25th)
Hours:  4:30 to 9 p.m. each evening
 
A few highlights at the garden:
  • Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake: starting at 4:30 p.m. Two different shows - one show on the half hour and a different one at the top of the hour. Two different shows repeating in sequence throughout the evening.
  • Photos with Santa and the backdrop of a million twinkling lights: Dec. 11 - 24
  • Special themed areas; Gingerbread Wood, Golden Chain Walk, Candy Cane Lane
Available at Tickets Tonight, Admissions Desk or at the gate:

Adult (19-64)$14.25
Senior (65+)$10.50
Youth (13-18)$10.50
Child (3-12)$7.75
Children under age 3free
Family (2 adults + children age 18 and under)$32.50
VanDusen Members$11.25
VanDusen Family Members$27.25


CHRISTMAS AT HYCROFT (Vancouver)
Date:  November 21-24, 2013
Time:  Daily 11am - 9pm, Sunday 11am - 6pm

ADMISSION: Adult $13 Child $5 (5 – 11 years) VALET PARKING $5
More info:  http://www.uwcvancouver.ca/index.php/programs-events-events-entertainment/christmas-at-hycroft


LUMINESCENCE AT VANCOUVER AQUARIUM
Date:  November 28, 2013 to January 22, 2014
Hours:  10 am to 5 pm daily.  Doors close at 4:45 p.m.

Perhaps the most creative display of lights, Vancouver Aquarium has put together an aquatic light show featuring the incredible world of fluorescent and bioluminescent ocean light. Find out why and how aquatic animals like anemones, cuttlefish, jellies and corals glow in the deep. Don’t go home without a meet-and-greet with Scuba Claus – underwater Santa. The show is included with the price of admission: $21 for adults; $16 for youth 13-18, students and seniors; and $13 for children 4-12.



GROUSE MOUNTAIN'S PEAK OF CHRISTMAS (north vancouver)
Sleigh bells ring, choirs sing! Grouse Mountain presents a magical celebration and a multitude of festivities.
Bring your family to Santa's Workshop and meet reindeer, or take a sleigh-ride through our mystical alpine forest. You can also experience the tranquil beauty of skating on our 8,000 square foot mountaintop Ice Skating Pond, surrounded by snow-topped trees.
For more info.:
I went to this few years back (company's event). It's beautiful ! If you have older kids it might be worth it for an evening out with the whole gang ! But since I got two little ones, who wouldn't last longer than an hour up there, I can't justify paying the $$ admission cost.


BEAR CREEK PARK TRAIN (surrey)
Date:  Friday, Dec. 13 till Sunday January 5 2014 – Closed December 25th
Hours:  10am to 4pm daily
Come and Meet Santa in the station. Receive a candy cane and activity bag to take home. Take a ride through the Christmas display.
Adults $5 Child $7.50


 
CANDYTOWN (Yaletown, Vancouver)
Date:  Saturday, November 23, 2013
Time:  12-9pm
Location:  1000 – 1100 block of Mainland Street
 
Featured Activities:
  • “All I Want for Christmas” Gift Market
  • Free Horse Carriage Rides
  • Live Music
  • Visits with Santa 1PM – 6PM
More info:  http://yaletowninfo.com/events/candytown/

 
SANTA CLAUS PARADE
Date:  Sunday, December 1st, 2013
Time:  Parade starts at 1pm
Location:  The Parade is in downtown Vancouver, located just blocks from the Burrard, City Centre, Granville and Waterfront SkyTrain stations.
Parade route:  The Parade starts at Georgia and Broughton, travels east on Georgia to Howe, turns south on Howe, and finishes at Howe and Davie. (1.8 kms)
 
 

 
ILLUMINATIONS AT HERITAGE CHRISTMAS (BURNABY VILLAGE MUSEUM)
Dates & Hours:
November 23 - December 13, 12noon-4:30pm
December 14 - January 3, 2014, 12noon-9pm
(closed December 24 & 25)

Free gate admission, Carousel rides are only $2.21 each.

With a stroll through the Village visitors will enjoy the traditional sights and sounds of Christmases past. There is a new Twelve Days of Christmas scavenger hunt, seasonal entertainment and a special display by the Canadiana Costume Society.

I went here last year.  If you don't expect crazy display of lights, it's quite a pleasant walk around.  There's enough going on to entertain the kids.  Dress warm as it's all outdoor.  The Carousel is the only indoor area there.  I read on the site "New this year, there will be 400 sound-reactive lights at the bandstand that twinkle and change colours in response to sound. Visitors can sing carols, clap their hands and make noise to create their own magical holiday light show."  I would like to try that out !  Did I mention it's FREE ?


ICE SKATING @ ROBSON SQUARE
Date:  November 15, 2013 - February 28, 2013
Hours:  Sunday - Thursday from 9am - 9pm |  Fridays & Saturdays from 9am - 11pm

Located at 800 Robson Street (just across from the Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of downtown Vancouver).  Skating is free; skate rentals are $4, helmets and ice cleats are $2.


 

TRINITY STREET CHRISTMAS LIGHT FESTIVAL
Date:  Mid-December 2013 - January 2, 2014

The 2400-2900 blocks of Trinity Street will once again be a blaze of holiday lights as they compete for the honour of best block.

Take in the lights on Trinity Street from December 4/12 to January 6/13. Remember, the Trinity Street Christmas Light Festival is best enjoyed by walking the route so please use your feet to see our street and make this a green event.
 

LADNER VILLAGE CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING (Delta)
Date:  November 28, 2013
First annual Christmas Tree lighting Festival from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Santa himself will be on hand to officially light the Ladner Village Christmas tree at approximately 7:10 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine.
Location:  5028 48th Avenue, Delta


MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS PARADE (Langley)
Date:  December 7th, 2013
Time:  6pm
Location:  downtown core of Langley City


CHRISTMAS PARADE OF LIGHTS (New Westminster)
Date:  December 7th, 2013
Time:  11am
Location:  Columbia Street & 6 Street (ends at Hyack Square)


CHRISTMAS IN STEVESTON VILLAGE (Richmond)
Date:  December 1st, 2013
Time:  12-5 pm
Location:  Bayview street, Between No. 1 Road & Easthope Avenue
Steveston is preparing to welcome the holiday season with a community display of lights, music, horse-drawn carriage rides, carollers, and the arrival of Santa!


Below is a list of street Christmas light displays I gathered from various sources.  Some are unconfirmed so I suggest you go only if you're in the neighborhood.  Dress warmly and drive safely !


Burnaby

6728 Grant Place
Come by and see the display — it’s worth the stop. The family have been doing their light display for more than 25 years in the North Burnaby area, and hope this year to bring joy and happiness to many more appreciative visitors. The display is dedicated to dear departed family and friends whose memories remain lit in their hearts, like just like the lights.

8222 Burnlake Drive
The display includes 20,000 lights, a seven-metre tall animated tree and a house full of lights dancing to music. Once again the family is collecting donations for BC Children’s Hospital. Lights are on daily from 4:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

4990 Belleville Ave.
The family is collecting donations for Variety the Children’s Charity.

5951 Baffin Place.
The Sherwood family’s annual neighbourhood lightup event will delight all. From 6-9 p.m. every night until Jan. 2.

950 Kensington Ave.
Collecting donations for Michael Cuccione Foundation.

1440 Cambridge Drive
Collecting donations for BC Children’s Hospital.

Also check out:
4187 Williams St.
5067 Dover Street


Coquitlam/Port Coquitlam/Maple Ridge

646 Claremont
Come up the driveway for the best view. Featuring a complete nativity — baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, and the three wise men — lights to music, Santa and Mrs. Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees and more. Over 7000 lights. Daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Donations accepted for the Knights of Columbus charities.

1440 Cambridge Drive
Electric train with bells and whistles; electric train with falling snow; nativity scene; more than 30,000 lights with music; five geese pulling a sleigh; 5.5-metre candle; gingerbread houses and people; Santa’s workshop with elves, and a hot-air balloon. Collecting for BC’s Children’s Hospital. Open 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

2988 Forestridge Place
Just below Westwood Golf Academy, the Bilesky family display features lots of lights and yard decorations, from Disney characters, wise men and angels to a herd of grazing reindeer on the rooftop. A big Santa greets visitors, carols play and Santa waves as he appears from out of the chimney. Donations accepted for Variety, the Children’s Charity.

3970 Cedar Dr.
Interactive displays with Santa, reindeer, snowmen and angels add to the 50,000 lights strung up here. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan. 1.

Also check out:
678 Folsom street Coquitlam
927 Lillian St., Coquitlam
2638 Brewster Dr., Coquitlam
3313 Rae St., Port Coquitlam
21456 Maple Ridge Bob & Gail Watson
11940 Hood St., Maple Ridge
21456 122 Ave., Maple Ridge
21614-122nd Ave, Maple Ridge
North Pole BC 22351 144th Avenue November 26th to December 24th


Delta

11548 86a Ave
Bob and Maureen Mussato have a wonderful bright Christmas display of thousands of lights, and also lawn ornaments. Come see this display and we promise you will be feeling a lot like Christmas. Open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

11147 Huff Blvd Delta BC - Christmas light show / display featuring choreographed lights and sound, lawn displays and thousands of lights!  Light show is once an hour, featuring 8 songs including Polar Express, Hot Chocolate, Wizards of Winter, Carol of the Bells and more...

Also check out:
11385 86 Ave North Delta
11422 - 75 Ave., North Delta
11425 - 11427 90th Ave., North Delta
3560 Arthur Ave., Delta


Langley/South Langley

23145 0 Ave.
Parallel Acres is having their Christmas display until Dec. 31, from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. All welcome, but no dogs please.

The Land of Christmas 20169 32nd Ave. Langley
Largest Christmas display Castle in all of Canada! 3 Stories !

Also check out:
19646 49th Ave., Langley
23145 0 Ave, Langley
4732 207A St., Langley


Richmond

12138 4 Ave., Richmond, Steveston merchants
3999 Williams Rd., Richmond
5193 Hummingbird Dr., Richmond
Garry Street near Fentiman Place


Surrey/South Surrey

16681 20th Ave.
This display includes 250,000 lights, two-metre toy solders, a nativity scene, dancing lights, a life-size gingerbread house, a skating scene, and many others. There is also a photo area where you can sit in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. The family is continuing to collect donations for BC Children’s Hospital again this year. Open 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every night.

15659 93A Ave.
This traditional display has 15,000 lights, which include toy soldiers, candlesticks, lit trees, and Santa, his nine reindeer and life-size sleigh. The deer dance to the Christmas music played. Donations are accepted for BC Children’s Hospital. Open 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan 1.

11478 — 139th St.
The Fox family’s display is a large and colourful one. Donations to the Fraser Valley Conservancy Society greatly appreciated. Open 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Jan. 8.

15466 91A Ave.
The Lagerstroms take their lights seriously. About 60,000 lights are synchronized to music broadcast on 88.3 FM radio. Open Sun. to Thurs. from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Christmas and Boxing Day until midnight.

Also check out:
12755 114A Ave (9000W of Christmas lights all synced to music)
9277 132 St Surrey B.C. Hopkins’s lights
3326 Rosemary Heights Cres., Surrey
15499 22nd Ave., South Surrey
3248-141A St., South Surrey
9467-127th st., Surrey , BC YouTube13675 Grosvenor Rd., Surrey BC
6585-193rd St., Surrey
14380 66 Ave., Surrey
159a & 37a Surrey BC , Morgan Creek
16681 20th Ave. - Donate BC Children's Hospital
15659 93A Ave. - Donate BC Children's Hospital.
16956 60A Avenue, Cloverdale
11478 - 139th St. - Donate Fraser Valley Conservancy Society
19368 62A Ave Surrey, BC (close to Willowbrook Mall)
15466 91A Avenue - Lagerstrom’s Christmas Light Show12755 114A Ave. Surrey
13130 65B Ave., Surrey
11082 Jay Cr., Surrey
6369 165A Street, Surrey
11084 153A St., Surrey
19158 48th Ave., Surrey
15466 91 Ave., Surrey
6369 165A St., Surrey
66th Avenue and 192A Street
Entire neighbourhood just northeast of 64th Avenue and 184 Street
12953 20 Ave., Surrey St. Marks Church Journey of Christmas
Winter Ice Palace at Cloverdale Arena Dec 18th to Jan 2nd

Vancouver

2400-2900 Trinity St.
These blocks will be a blaze of lights for the annual fundraiser for Harbour View Daycare. Best enjoyed by walking, you will get to experience the brilliance of the lights for the holiday season and feel the spirit of one of the great neighbourhoods of Vancouver. For a $2 donation you can vote for your favourite light display. Until Jan. 2.

West End and Stanley Park
See 15,000 coloured lights decorate trees on Beach Ave. Take a stroll by the Lost Lagoon fountain, which is adorned with lights. See a decorated tree at George Wainborn Park at 450 Beach Ave.

1489 McRae Ave.
Christmas at Hycroft, presented by the University Women’s Club, is always worth a visit.

1081 Burrard St.
The Lights of Hope is in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Hospital. Over 400 multi-coloured stars shower light down onto the street. Take the detour when you’re downtown, it’s worth it. Donations accepted for the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation. www.helpstpauls.com

1690 Matthews Ave.
Canuck Place is lit up once again. Volunteers have placed thousands of lights around majestic Glen Brae mansion and turned its gardens into a magical sight.

1412 Laurier St.
An annual tradition for the O’Toole family. Enjoy its lights and surprises.

Also check out:
2175 West 16th Ave
750 Hornby St., Vancouver The Vancouver Art Gallery
Bloedel Conservatory, Queen Elizabeth Park
East 17th Avenue and Sophia Street, Vancouver
East 12th Avenue and Semlin Street
2175 West 16th Ave, Vancouver
Triumph and Nanaimo Street, Vancouver
4399 Prince Edward St., Vancouver
2636 E. 40th Ave., Vancouver
1412 Laurier Ave. Vancouver
Jervis Street % Beach Avenue George Wainborn Park 450 Beach Ave.
999 Canada Place St Christmas at Canada Place
Woodward's Hastings and Abbott

North Vancouver

4967 Chalet Place
Collecting donations for Harvest Project
3735 Capilano Rd., North Vancouver Capilano Suspension
256 6th St. E, North Vancouver
 333 Brooksbank Ave., North Vancouver Park & Tilford GardensCity Hall, North Vancouver
Dundarave, West Vancouver
 

people I do life with

There's something comforting about sharing meals with friends.  Eating, talking, laughing, and fighting over the last bit of food.  I love eating with my friends.  I love having them over, having them eating on my table, sharing life stories.  These are whom I am doing life with.

For a period of time, my girlfriends and I used to come over to each other's place and cook together or one of us will host it and do the meal planning and we'll come early to assist.  Over time, with kids coming into the picture and the group expanding (new life partners), the hot pot and pot luck route proved to be safest and easiest for all of us.  We refuse to give up eating together.  It's been over 5 years now, we rarely go over a month without sharing at least a meal together.  It's becoming our tradition.  A very good tradition I must say. 

I can see us growing old together.  Years from now we'll still be looking across at each other, still call each other out, annoying each other, fighting for a chance to state our case, or smacking someone over the shoulder over something they shouldn't say !  And there will be laughter and lots of it.  Friendship is a bond worth celebrating often with good food !!!   I know no matter what happened in our lives, what dragon(s) we're slaying, it's this meal, this slice of time we spent together that offers us small comfort that we're not doing life alone.

Last night, every single bowls, serving dishes, cups, spoons, chopsticks was out in the "battle" during our group dinner.  After everyone left, my kids and husband passed out on the bed.  I wandered into the kitchen and ate left overs.  I was glad there just a bit of everything left !  I wished I made more rice though.  There's always next time.

This morning, as I sat eating cereal out of a measuring cup (which I'm sure it's spared because no one found it), I feel light hearted that my friends were over, putting all my dinner wares to use.  I made a mental note to buy more. 

I noticed that I enjoy hosting dinner as I get older.  When I was in my early 20s, I hate having people over.  The thought of prepping, cooking for people and cleaning after them are dreadful !  I'm too lazy for it.  Now my girlfriends and I plan them days in advance, sometime weeks.  It might sound strange, but I enjoy just watching friends having a good time.  I like to serve my friends.  Somewhere between the 20s and 30s, it's becoming less about me and more about others.  I am happiest when those around me are happy.

Since I've been hosting more than a dozen of times, I now have an orderly schedule I followed.  The night before and the day of the event it usually goes down like this, in particular order:

Night before:
- Grocery shopping
- Mopping
- Vacuuming
- Wiping windows, mantels, walls
- Clean up/organizing rooms

Day of:
- Disinfecting all bathrooms !
- Tidying up playrooms for the kids (so they can make a mess of it !!!)
- Cooking
- Getting my kids and I ready
- Feeding kids (I found getting them to eat first relieved me from the stress of feeding them & entertaining guests at the same time)
- Setting tables
- Sitting around waiting for guests, whom usually arrived 15-40 min. late !  Even if I tell them an earlier start time so that they would arrive around the actual time I want to start dinner > it never worked !  My friends are mind readers :-)

It does take a little effort but we enjoy it.  Mr. C and I would say to each other, while we clean up the house, "it's fun, let's do it again !".

precious moments : eventful day


Bee loves pomegranate !  She eats them, by the bowl, every day now that it's in season !  After lunch, while vacuuming, Bee asked if she can vacuum for me.  I "reluctantly" complied ;-)  When done, Lovebug and her had bath time together.  They love playing in the water. 

We watched Team UmiZoomi for a bit then went to play house and do some drawing.  Bee drew her own puzzle.  She proudly showed it off to me.  We had some snacks then watched Peppa Pig for a bit.  For dinner the kids had chicken, pork, broccoli, and brown rice/quinoa.  Now that there are 2 of them, Bee isn't so much of a picky eater anymore !  Dinner is a contest between them 2 !!!  Kim texted me cute K stuff and it put a smile on our faces.  K is a very observant little boy.



precious moments | say sorry

While in the tub, I accidentally sprayed some water on Lovebug's eyes.  It didn't bother her but Bee said to me "say sorry to "Lovebug" mommy ! she don't like water in eyes".   I paused and said my sorry to Lovebug.  Bee's right, even if the other person looked like they don't mind it, doing something not nice (accidentally or not) deserves a "I'm sorry" !!!

What we should know about nail polishes

 
Bee, my daughter who's 3, is at the phase where she loves everything sparkly, shiny and pink.  She told me today she wants hot pink finger and toe nails to match her dress !  She saw the color on her dentist's fingers a couple months ago and has been asking for them since.  I am not a fan of nail polish !  I probably paint my nails less than 5 times in my life :-(  Just not my thing.

Bee keeps on bugging me so I decided to paint her nails with the polish I picked up a while ago for a wedding.  The smell was so awful I only put a dot on each nail.   I decided to look into "odorless" nail polish for Bee.  What I was unprepared for was that I came across a whole host of other things I should be concerned with, other than the smell.  Who knew those little jars of pretty color are packed with chemicals.  I knew they weren't good but I didn't know they were this toxic.  According to David Suzuki Foundation report, What's Inside, That Counts, 80 per cent of cosmetics contain at least one ingredient linked with health and environmental concerns, including cancer, reproductive disorders, asthma and severe allergies.

Your bottle of nail polish has at least three.
1. Dibutyl phthalate — Used as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer to prevent nail polishes from becoming brittle, this phthalate is classified by the EU as a suspected endocrine disruptor and as toxic to reproduction. Health Canada associates DBP with liver and kidney failure in young children when products (and polished little fingers) containing phthalates are sucked or chewed for extended periods. Although Health Canada banned six phthalates (including DBP) in soft vinyl children's toys, its use in cosmetics is not restricted. The European Union classifies DBP as very toxic to aquatic organisms.
2. Formaldehyde — (Yes, seriously. In your nail polish.) Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in nail hardeners in concentrations of up to five per cent. In nail polish, tosylamide/formaldehyde resin is used, and may contain residual formaldehyde concentrations of up to 0.5 per cent. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.
3. Toluene — According the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, toluene is a moderate skin irritant that can cause dermatitis with prolonged contact. It is also a developmental toxicity hazard and has been identified in human milk. Inhalation of toluene vapour can affect the central nervous system causing slight drowsiness and headache at low levels and Irritation of the nose, throat and respiratory tract at increased levels.
I did some more searches and found a few brands that don't have the above ingredients.  Brands like Piggy Paint, Suncoat, Honeybee Garden, to name just a few.  Some are even water based !  I read their ingredients, looked some up, and read reviews.  They sounded safe.  I decided to go with Piggy Paint since lots of moms raved about it.



I was excited to finally found "safe" polish for Bee, BUT my happiness quickly evaporated when I came across this article written by a lady chemist:


"are nail polishes which claim to be natural or nontoxic really any better?

As a chemist who knows a thing or two about cosmetic formulations, and also knowing that the claim "natural" is an unregulated and much overused term, I had my doubts that these formulations would deliver on their promises.  Upon researching a variety of these so-called "natural" nail polish brands, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to find that not only are they not natural, many do not even provide the full ingredient listing with correct cosmetic ingredient (INCI) names.  In fact, many nail polish products, including those which score "safest" on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Database, list only general ingredient descriptions.  (Side note, the lack of full disclosure of ingredients is WHY these products score so low / safe on the cosmetics database -just one of many loopholes / issues with this database).

Here is the ingredient listing for one such brand, Aquarella, as found on their website:  Acrylic polymer emulsion, Water, and non-toxic colorants (No FD&C). You don't have to be a chemist to see that this ingredient listing is in stark contrast to the one from OPI shown above, which lists each and every ingredient that can be found in the product.  The general description of ingredients provided by Aquarella tells us nothing about the specific chemicals used in their nail polishes. What exactly is in that "acrylic polymer emulsion"??

Not to single out Aquarella, I found many other brands which do not fully disclose their ingredients, including Honeybee Gardens, Scotch Naturals, Piggy Paint, and more.  Others, such as Priti, make claims about their ingredients to "prove" their naturalness...but, just because the solvent Butyl Acetate has (as they mention on their website) "the sweet smell of banana", that doesn't make it natural or nontoxic.  Butyl Acetate happens to be the primary ingredient in most conventional nail polishes too. 
 
So, is there any difference between "natural" nail polishes and "conventional"?

Generally speaking, I found there are two types of nail polish formulations claiming to be natural / nontoxic.  First, water-based formulations, which obviously will include some water, polymer(s) and colorants.  Notably, these types of formulations will also include a preservative (if they're really water based, they need a preservative to prevent bacterial growth).  The water-based nail polish formulations I found (which disclosed the name of their preservative) were typically using an ingredient called Methylisothiazolinone, although some brands were calling it by one of its trade names (name used by the vendor), either Neolone 950 or Kathon CG. 

The second type of nail polish formulations I found claihming to be natural / nontoxic are solvent based formulations, which coincidentally, are very similar to conventional nail polish formulations.  In fact, the difference is, well...there is no difference -at least not from what I can tell.  Both are using the same primary ingredients, butyl acetate, ethyl acetate and nitrocellulose, a variety of plasticizers and a variety of colorants.  Those so-called natural nail polishes are typically not disclosing their complete ingredient listings, so who would ever know what the difference is anyway?"
 

I like how Melissa (the chemist) wasn't trying to persuade me into not buying the products, she was just presenting the facts, explaining her case.  My thought towards this whole nail polish business is this, I don't think there's such a thing as natural nail lacquer !  for the liquid color to bond to our nails, hardens as it dries, it will surely need some chemicals.  Common sense can tell us that !  Though, IF I ever consider to buy nail polish, I think I will likely buy from manufacturers who are at least attempting to make non toxic nail polishes !  at least I know that they are trying to make better quality nail polishes, ones that contain less amount of chemicals.  I can only hope that they are what they said.  At the end of day, as we all know, everyone is out to make a quick buck.
 
Daddy and Bee with stickers on their finger nails

For now I will hold out from buying Bee nail polishes.  She seems to be happy with tiny stickers on her fingers.  I don't see the need of adding more chemicals in our lives if we can opt out.  If Bee keeps badgering me, I think a short explanation of why we're not buying it, followed by a fun game and she'll get over it !  I know my girl, I know she prefers games over many of things !  for now anyway !

Remembrance

Photo captured by Alan Ranger, at Blackstone Farm nature reserve in Bewdley, Worcestershire
 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.
 
 
I read this poem many of times.  I don't know if I know enough to fully appreciate the meaning of this poem.  Many of us grow up with little to no knowledge and understanding of war.  I heard stories and watched documentaries of wars, that's about all.  Despite that, I can empathize on the sacrifices soldiers made and are making for defending our country.  I'm thankful for them.  I'm thankful for those that gave their lives so we can have what we have today.  To the ones who passed, and those who are currently serving, thank you.  

A different kind of hoarder

 
 
Surely by now you've seen or heard of TLC's Hoarders ?  If you haven't, it's basically a show about people hoarding things ! 
 
I don't understand how people can hoard so much and not see how these stuff are infecting their life.  Stuff are piling up everywhere.  One cannot tell what's good and what's garbage.  I get it that there are deeper issues the hoarder needs to deal with !  But it still mind boggling to me how these seemingly 'normal' people, with 'rational' thoughts, not only willing to jeopardizing their relationships, they also put their kids health and safety at risk by gathering "things" !  a lot of things.
 
A sermon shared by Andrew on hoarding of blessings (will talk about that later) made me think of this show.  I am a bit of a hoarder these days.  I collect JARS !  sauce jar, pickled jar, hot chocolate jar, etc. etc.  The other day, while cleaning out my cupboard, I have to bid my goodbyes to a few.  It's easy to clear out junk when you see them, when they cluttered your eyes, but what do we do about the "clutters" that we can't see ?
 
Many of us are carrying a lot of excess baggage.  Baggage that we choose to carry.  Baggage that slows us down in our life journey.  Is unforgiveness tuck somewhere in your baggage ?  I know what you're thinking.  Why should we forgive when others wronged/wounded us ?  They never ask to be forgiven so why give it ?  Thing is, if you're withholding forgiveness, it does you more harm than good.   As a Christian, I think unforgiveness is major roadblock in our spiritual life.
 

mer·cy

:  compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender
 
When we choose not to forgive others, we also close that door on ourselves.  One cannot ask for mercy when they don't extend it to others.  One cannot expect kindness when they don't show compassion to others. 
 
What's worse ? when we're withholding forgiveness from others, we hoard grudges.
 
I've seen what grudges do to people.  They're like active cancerous tumor, slowly killing away relationships and friendships.  They thrives on assumptions and lies.  Don't harbor it.  You need to starve it !  Talk to the person who you think wronged you.  Communication with an open mind is key.  No one likes a 1 way communication.  Try to walk in their shoes.  If you're so stuck in your point of view, you are missing out on a lot of great things. 
 
Grudges are useless, worthless, clutters that weight you down.  Work through them and let them go, freeing up room for better things.  We need to forgive for our own sake, for our own well being.  We're all broken people.  Faulty human being with moments, many moments, of weakness and stupidity.  When we start to look at people and ourselves under that light, you will find it easier to be kind.  Forgive, like Christ has forgiven us.  He cleared our slate.  Forgive so we ourselves can accept forgiveness.  Forgive because it's good for us, good for our soul.  It's time to de-clutter :-)

self reflection | impatience

Whenever I have a moment to think of my mom, like now, I would feel bad for being so impatience with her.  I would show her countless times how to do something and within days, she would forget it.  I showed her already.  It's so easy.  Repeat it again I must but I don't like this !  Patience is something I was born lacking :-(  My kids are helping me gaining more each passing day. 

I forget that my mom is aging.  In my head I think she's in her 50s but she's almost 65.  She might be healthy and energetic and all, her brain is aging.  Just typing that word makes my heart ache a little.  My mom is growing old.  I need to understand that it's not that my mom doesn't want to remember how to do something, but because there's just too many things for her to take in.  It's not her fault she doesn't grow up with computers, remote controls, digital toaster, video intercom and so so so so many other things.  She was brought up the old school ways.

Thanks to my mom's "old school" upbringing that my brother and I never eat canned food, boxed food, and never eat food cooked or warmed up in the microwave.  Entertainments are gardening, going on walks, role playing, or helping my mom in the kitchen.  I carried with me many fond memories of my childhood.  My mom generously give us the gift of her time.  She spent times with us and takes time to make us great food.  I need to give her my gift of time.

As I thought of me trying to grasp and keep up with technology, I can only imagine the struggles she's dealing with.  Not to mention the language barrier.  It must be so hard on my mom.  Trying to learn the basic of it all.  The more I think of it, the more I appreciate and love my mom more and more.  She's pretty awesome for attempting to even TRY!  She now has her own email address, can press a whole bunch of buttons just to TURN ON THE TV !!!  Seriously, even I hate turning on the TV.  It should just be 1 button, like how it used to be.  My brother gave my mom his ipad and she loves it !  especially youtube because it allows her to watch sermons from all corners of the world.  She would tell me, "just show me how to do it.  If I don't get it after a few tries, show me some more ! enough time and it will stick with me."  What great attitude she possesses.  Never cease to learn.  I'm grateful for her.  I'm praying for patience and the ability to give those I love more of my time.

how I find time to watch Korean drama

I poked my head out from the corner to assess the situation.  Hubby is laying on the floor, kids playing on him, they looked safe.  Perfect.

I tiptoed across the hallway, ipad in tow.  Before I got into our bedroom, I yelled out "I'm going to the bathroom OK !", "OK" C said.  I then closed our bedroom door lighting fast, before the kids can look up.  Before they realized I'm not there and come crawling/running looking for me.  I ran into our ensuite bathroom, shut and locked that door as fast as I could.  No kids can get to me now, there're 2 doors between me and them.  Phew.

I sat the ipad down on Bee's stepping stool.  Closed the toilet lid to make it into a seat.  I made a mental note to buy one of those fuzzy cover for it.  It'll be a better seat then .  I quickly tapped on Viki's icon, browsed to TV.  The translated subs for Secrets (Korean TV drama) should be done by now.  What ?  only 80% ?  it will have to do.  I can't get out now.  If I go back out there I might never made it back in.  I need to time this better next time.


Min-hyuk is so handsome.  He is falling for Yoo-jeong without realizing it.  Ahh...look at the way he looks at her while she's doing his laundry...

"Tracy, you're in there for like 40 min !!!  are you done ?  are you OK ?"  I heard C's concerning voice outside the bathroom door.  When did he get here ? 

"No, nothing came out !  I'm just about to take my shower though.  Since I'm in here already"  I yelled out while turning on the tap.

Before he can say anything > IT has to be before he can put in a word > that I turned the water on high so it drowned out his voice.  And he knows that when the shower is on full, all is lost !  I cannot hear him.

While the cold water drops chasing each other down the drain, I sat on the edge of the tub enjoying the last bit of the drama.  Some part I have to fast forward through because I don't have time for filler.  I'm just here for the action.  Min-hyuk and Yoon-jeong kissed !!!  yay !  I can go back to my rambunctious kids and husband now  ! 

I don't do this all the time, I mixed it up with other "movie watching schemes" I devised up :-)  I like to think that C is clueless about this but sadly, it's not true :-(  He knows me, knows exactly what I'm up do, he just let me get away with it !  thinking I'm smart and all !!!

HOMEMADE | Easy peasy beanbags

Yesterday the weather was dreadful with a capital D.  No rain, but the sky dressed in gloom.  I decided to make some bean bags for Bee while Lovebug is sleeping.  Actually, I went and vacuumed our SUV and cleaned out the floor mats first.  They were way way overdue for a cleaning.  Bee loves playing inside the SUV !  She said it's like a small house for her.


I brought out some fabrics and let Bee pick a pattern.  She helped me rip the fabric into 5" wide strips so I can then cut them.  After sewing each bag, we filled it with brown rice.  Total time was less than 20 min., and we made 4 beanbags.  Or in our case, 4 rice bags !

Here's the How Tos:

- 8 of 5X5 squares of fabric
- beans, rice, corn kernels, or any other dry legumes

Instructions:
  • Take 2 squares of fabric, turn the right side in, facing each other
  • On the wrong side of fabric, about 1/2 inch in, sew around the 4 edges>  LEAVE a 2" opening for filling.
  • Sew around the 4 edges again, 1/4 inch from the previous seams, to secure the bag
  • Once done sewing, cut out the tip of each corners (so when you turn it right side out, the corners don't bunch up.
  • Turn the beanbag right side out
  • Through the 2" opening, pour in the filling, about 2/3 of the bag
  • Hold the opening tight and sew it shut (on the right side of fabric).  I sew it twice to secure it.

Here's a picture of what the sewing should look like:

 



dear NH friends,

It's amazing how over night the fog in my mind cleared up, and I see things for what they are, with so much clarity.  Thank you to all those who sent me their prayers and advices.  I really appreciate them.

So, where to begin friends ?  Let me start with the reason why I wrote my last post:

- I miss going to a church where I know everyone there
- I miss that I can come up to anyone of you and talk about anything
- I miss eating our Pho? noodle lunch
- I miss Mark doing some kind of cartwheel somewhere behind a church pew and fall
- I miss the kids crawling around, running wild, everywhere, all over church

I miss being with you in a nice comfortable environment.  We were a good silly bunch of people weren't we ?  Many of us grew up together, so in a way, you're an extension of my family. 

It's heart breaking when a "family" no longer gets together.  I feel it.  I'm grieving it.  It's hard on me because I've been there from the beginning.  I still have the letter I wrote up to the church board, pleading with them to let us have our own English service.  That's was over 15 years ago.

Many changes took place over the course of the years.  Many came and many left.  The same few people makes up the advisory board.  If you look back, look at the boarder picture, we didn't take care of our "church".  Church here isn't the building, nor the people who attend it, but the whole intangible being, the body of Christ.  We didn't take care of it.  If we care, things would look a lot different than now.  We can barely show up on time, friends. 

When I look pass all the niceties, I can see that we were too comfortable.  Our branches were slowly branching away from the vine, which is Christ Jesus.  Sharing Christ, living for Christ wasn't the main goal, the main vision for many of us.  In a church of only a few, that is a significant number.  We waited for our pastor to start everything and support only when asked.  We lack initiative.  We lacked it because deep inside, we don't care.  That's the harsh reality.  Our church was being tended by one person, one exhausted person.  If we were a company, we would have been bankrupt a long long time ago.

I'm quite confident that Christ has a grand plan for each of us.  He took us out of our comfort zone so we can grow.  He sees that together we were lazy :-)  relying on each other, depending on each other.  Now that we're on our own, like an independent child, we will have to take that first step, to find Him, to seek Him.  Our faith needs to grow so we can endure the race that is set before us.  Christ wants us to be rooted in Him. 

I know I'm discouraged at the moment.  As much as I want to sit in my comfortable home, reasoned that I don't like feeling "uncomfortable" and sulk.  I know I can't give up meeting.  My Sundays are for praising God.  No matter how I reasoned, Sunday is my day for Christ.  Period.

Christ is every where, not contained within building walls.  And yesterday, while I was attending church, we sang a song about being a part of Christ's family.  It was a reminder I needed, and maybe, a reminder for you too, that any church we go to, we're among family.  In Christ, we are a family.  I always feel a connection whenever I meet a Christian.  Because there's an invisible string, that is our Lord, that connects us together.  It's pretty awesome. 

I don't want the "same" church.  It wasn't working, the whole church within church concept, was not working.  It hindered us.  We were taking out of there for a reason.  Christ wants us to grow, to broaden our eyes, to be encouraged, to be brave, to be a warrior for Christ.  We're no longer infant, we need to stand on our own, with only Christ leading us. 

What I miss most, I realized, is you.  We should do Pho? noodle get together every once in a while :) 

My prayer is with you.  I deeply hope you will find a place where you fit in, where you can serve.  While searching though, please please don't give up not attending church altogether.  Once you make it into a habit, it will be harder to break.  Also, most churches start early in the morning, unlike our afternoon service.  It will take some effort.  A lot of effort.  Ahh, but being a Christian is never about "convenience" !  He's funny that way !  that Jesus !  But He's worth every ounce.  Trust Him.