Exploring Downtown Langley

I’ve let going on local adventures fall to the wayside lately. The rain washed much of the snow away and the sun was shining today so what better time to get out and explore?

I didn’t want to go too far so I tried to narrow down my options. At first I thought about going somewhere I had already been, like Golden Ears Cheesecrafters or Krause Berry Farms (check out my post here) but while I do love visiting these places, I felt like going somewhere new to me.

I’m a huge fan of places that have that whole small-town kind of feel with little stores and coffee shops. I thought about nearby cities that might have what I was looking for. The first place that popped into my mind was Langley. I’ve driven through their downtown area but with the exception of visiting Cascades Casino which is in the area I’ve never checked anything out. So, off to Langley I went!

I parked at the corner of Fraser Highway and 204th Street and walked between there and 206th Street.

There were a lot of shops along this strip but unfortunately not a lot piqued my interest. I probably wouldn’t go back just to walk around but there were a few places I would pop into again:

This is It! Gifts – tons of cool gifts! There were quite a few things I could have easily brought if I wasn’t trying to save money.

Lucy Clothing – nice collection of plus-sized clothing, some from lower mainland designers.

Ten Thousand Villages – so many fair trade gifts and goodies.

I was hoping I would find a cute coffee shop or something where I could grab some lunch but nothing really interested me. I was craving a sandwich and after a Google search for the “best sandwich in Langley” I decided to check out Lemon Bakery.

What an excellent decision! Their menu had a wide variety of sandwiches, wraps, soup, salad and baked goods. After deliberating for a few minutes I decided on a Roasted Garlic Chicken Sandwich on whole wheat bread and a Lemon Crinkle Cookie for dessert.

The sandwich was delicious. I was happy to see it was REAL chicken rather than deli meat and the bread was amazing. It was so fresh and I loved the sesame seeds on the crust. Truth be told I haven’t eaten the cookie yet but it smells and looks fantastic. Seeing that I arrived only a little over an hour before they closed, they were out of some of their baked goods. I’ll definitely return as I’m after one of their Lemon Bars!

I wonder where my next adventure will take me. If you’ve got any suggestions for somewhere within driving distance of Vancouver drop a comment below!๐Ÿ’œ

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Christmas in Europe

It has been so long since I’ve written! I’m having a lazy Saturday so there’s no time like the present to start writing.

Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Lights. Trees. Giving. Family. Friends.

This year, Christmas was a little different for me. Okay, not just a little but a lot. The day after school finished for winter break I hopped on a plane at YVR and headed to Amsterdam to spend the holidays with Coen.

Meeting Coen’s family was lovely. Everyone was so kind and they made me feel like I belonged. We shared lots of laughter during our time together. They included me in some of their Christmas and New Year traditions like their family portrait and making Oliebollen!

Coen and I had a chance to check out some Christmas markets which I absolutely loved! I was happy that so many run until New Years and even after that. Between Christmas and New Years we went to Maastricht. It was all so pretty. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw all the twinkling lights!

That night we stayed at Abidj Rolduc, a converted abbey from the 12th century! It was wonderful. I told Coen that should be “our place”, a place we keep coming back to. The price was super reasonable, our room was clean and just what we needed and it’s super close to the German border which was convenient because we headed there next.

We stopped in Kรถln for a few hours so I could visit Dunkin Donuts (I know, I’m weird) and do a little shopping. Poor Coen. He was such a trouper. It was a total zoo but I picked up a few things and tried Currywurst, which Coen’s dad told me to try. It was so good!

From there we headed to Dรผsseldorf for another Christmas market. It didn’t disappoint!

We tried Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes) that you dip in applesauce – AMAZING! I also had the most delicious Schnitzel Hollandaise for dinner!

That night we stayed at Novum Hotels Excelsior. This hotel was incredibly reasonable price-wise. The walls were a little thin (we turned our TV up loud to block out talking from the room next door) but it had character. I would stay there again.

On our way home we stopped at Drielandenpunt. For those of you who have seen A Walk to Remember and then wanted to be in two places at once (I did that straddling the border between Nevada and Utah), here is where you can be three places at once! The borders of The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany all meet here. Pretty cool.

You can also visit the highest point in the Netherlands while there! A whopping 323 metres above sea level!

After New Years we headed to Belgium. We started off in Gent which I absolutely love. It was summer when I was there before and we didn’t spend a ton of time exploring. I was happy to be back at Christmas time! Gent is stunningly beautiful. Their Christmas market was still on and I loved checking that out.

While we were there it was important to eat waffles and fries! They certainly did not disappoint.

The fries were from Frituur Tartaar. I really liked this place. It was super busy when we arrived but thankfully we were able to grab a table as people left. It took awhile to get our order but it was worth the wait. Luckily we decided to share because they absolutely loaded up the pile!

We stayed at Hotel de Flandre which Coen’s parent’s recommended. It was in a perfect location and we had the cutest loft room with a view.

This would definitely be my go-to hotel in Gent.

On our way home we stopped in Brussels. Neither of us had been there and the Christmas Market was still open. We stuck to the area around the Grand-Place de Bruxelles and the Christmas Market. I loved all the little chocolate shops! I hope I’ll be able to spend more time there one day.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect being away from home at Christmas. Did I miss my family? Of course I did, but it was such an adventure! I’m grateful I had the opportunity to explore both new and familiar places with Coen and to spend time getting to know his family. I tell him next year it will be his turn to experience Canadian Christmas. But there’s only one problem – what do we do about the family portait!?๐Ÿ’œ

72ish Hours in the Okanagan: Vernon

We left Kamloops (click here to see my blog about Kamloops) and headed to Vernon to visit my Grandma, Aunt, Uncle and Cousins.

It was the first time Coen met this part of my family. We had a nice visit with my grandma then went to my cousin and her husband’s house. They cooked us a delicious dinner! My aunt, uncle and another cousin came over for dessert and a visit. I had taken a pie from my favourite orchard in Vernon! I visit Davison Orchards every time I’m in Vernon. We went back the next day to pick up a few things to bring home with us.

I just love it there. I adore the market with all its fresh produce, jams, syrups and all kinds of other tasty treats, gifts and baked goods. The fresh pressed apple juice is to die for as is the PEACH PIE! It’s my absolute favourite pie…ever!

Before that second visit to Davison Orchards and heading on to Kelowna, we went to Silverstar Mountain Resort. I hadn’t been since I was a kid (also in the summer) so thought we would check it out. It’s super easy to get to and since it was summer we we had no problems finding a parking spot in the first lot. The resort is small but there were a few places to grab a bite to eat and tons of trails for hikers and cyclists. They also have a gondola that you can take up the mountain. Visibility was limited because of forest fire smoke so we didn’t go on it.

We went on a bit of a hike – nothing too strenuous before the bugs really started driving us crazy. We’ll remember to pack bugspray next time!

We decided to grab some lunch before heading back into town. We popped into the Bulldog Grand Cafe.

We didn’t realize it but it’s an extension of the Bulldog Amsterdam! Very fitting. We ended up ordering Bitterballen to start – how could we not!?!

We enjoyed our lunch and our couple of days in Vernon! ๐Ÿ’œ

A Gift For Your Senses: Pelindaba Lavender Gourmet Coffee

It’s not often, maybe even never, that I write about a particular product. But today, I’ve got one that is absolutely worth recommending.

Pelindaba Lavender is a lavendar farm located in Friday Harbor, Washington. I first learned about it when I popped into their store while in Portland, Oregon in March 2017. When I saw their brochure on the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor I immediately told Coen I needed to go. I’m pretty much obsessed with all things lavender! Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the actual farm (I’ll definitely go a other time.)

Their store was full of all kinds of wonderful lavender things. From soaps to cleaning products to food. They even had lavender ice cream sandwiches in a cooler! I picked up a few things but the Lavender Gourmet Coffee is what I’m here to review.

According to the woman I spoke to in the shop, Pelindaba Lavender is sent to a local coffee company where they grind the lavender with their beans. When I first opened the bag, I could smell hints of lavender blended with the aroma of coffee. Two of my favourite scents together – I was in heaven! Looking closely I could see small bits of lavender blended with the ground coffee.

I was worried the lavender scent would dissipate once the coffee was brewed but I didn’t need to worry. The fragrance wasn’t overpowering but it was definitely still there. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I drank it (I added a little sugar and cream.) I’d only ever had lavender baked goods. I have to admit that with that first sip I wasn’t too sure about it. The coffee itself had a great flavour but then I was hit with a herb taste, but almost like a herb I couldn’t really place. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad taste by any means. My second sip hit the nail on the head. There was that lavender taste I was looking for! It was glorious; like a mini-explosion of lavender. Delicious!

This coffee won’t be for everyone and if you’re not sure I think you should try a cookie, scone or loaf made with culinary lavender. If you don’t like the taste of lavender I don’t think you would like this coffee. Saying that, if you enjoy the taste, I highly recommend this coffee! You won’t be disappointed! Time for me to go enjoy cup number two.๐Ÿ’œ

72ish Hours in the Okanagan: Kamloops

Trying to plan a mini-trip to visit multiple people in multiple cities, albeit close to one another, can be nearly impossible especially in the summer. After days of trying to coordinate schedules Coen and I decided to spend one night with my brother and his family in Kamloops before moving on. We had a chance to check out a restaurant as a family called The Noble Pig.

There was a bit of a wait but we managed to get a table on the patio of this cool Brewhouse. It was a beautiful night – until the rain rolled in! Luckily we were just finishing up.

The menu was a pretty perfect size; not too big, not too small and there seemed to be something for everyone. My 2.5 year old nephew was just as content as everyone else! I had a hard time deciding what to order. I ordered a Sun Kissed Grapefruit Radler which was delicious – so refreshing!

I also decided on Crispy Pickles and Cheesy Pepperoni Pretzel Bread to share and the Southwest Pulled Pork Sandwich for my meal.

Crispy Pickles

I usually enjoy moderately spicy foods, but although these were cooked well (the pickles were still nice and crunchy) I found these to be just a little too much on the spicy-side. I wish the breading wasn’t Cajun seasoned. I think they would be appealing to more palates if they had a different breading and maybe came with a spicy dip for an added kick. I wouldn’t order them again.

Cheesy Pepperoni Pretzel Bread

These were good but nothing special. It was basically a cheese stick with a stick of pepperoni inside. I can buy essentially the same thing from the deli at several local grocery stores. It’s not that I wouldn’t order it again, but I would likely try something different instead.

Southwest Pulled Pork Sandwich

After the Crispy Pickles I was a little worried about the Jalapeno Coleslaw on my sandwich but thankfully I think they seeded the jalapenos! This sandwich was pretty good. The BBQ sauce was tasty and the slice of Rainer back bacon nestled under the pulled pork was an added bonus. I would recommend ordering this!

The service was a little slow but we weren’t in a huge rush and we got some great quality family time in. Overall I enjoyed the The Noble Pig and would return!

Aside from dinner we mostly just spent some time altogether. I hope to explore more next time. Stay tuned!๐Ÿ’œ

Alaska: The Last Frontier

I just got back from a two week Alaskan cruise with my aunt on the Golden Princess. Actually we did back-to-back 7-day cruises. We started off cruising from Vancouver, BC to Whittier, AK then stayed on the ship to cruise back to Vancouver. We did the same thing six years ago on the Island Princess and this time was even better! I also cruised the Inside Passage in 2003 on the Mercury (Celebrity.)

We had incredible weather on our Northbound journey. It was so hot that I even went swimming two days because it was too hot reading at the pool. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to posting about each individual port so I’ll include one photo from each in this post.

Our first stop was Ketchikan. We were only there until 2pm so all I did was walk to Safeway because there was a Starbucks inside. I needed to get the Alaska Been There Series mug. I got the last one!

Out next port was Juneau. I spent a few hours browsing around shops and grabbed a coffee from Heritage Coffee, a local chain.

We were in Skagway on July 4th and there were tons of things going on. I met up with a few of the Assistant Cruise Directors from the ship and we wandered for a bit. Aleks, one of them, and I decided to continue walking around and pop into a few of the shops instead of getting lunch with the rest of them.

We visited Glacier Bay the following Day which was spectacular. The weather was amazing and we saw some pretty incredible calving.

The weather was also fabulous in College Fjord the next day.

We arrived in Whittier just before midnight and it was still light out. I love that! I didn’t get off the ship the next day because there isn’t really anything there and I’d been off last time I was there. I enjoyed the quietness of the ship – at one point it was only us, the crew and a few others who were also doing B2B cruises. We met a couple from my city! It turns out they live down the street from the school I teach at. Small world.

The weather for the return trip wasn’t great so I was thankful for the sun the previous week! It wasn’t cold but it was cloudy and rainy at times.

We were at Hubbard Glacier First.

We were back at Glacier Bay next. I think my pictures actually look kind of neat with the fog.

I wandered around Skagway a little more and went into some stores I hadn’t visited the previous week.

I began my day in Juneau walking away from the touristy area near the cruise ship terminal. I kept walking until I ran into a woman we had chatted to at breakfast the day before. She told me there was a whale fountain that was worth seeing. She was right! On my way back towards the stores I decided to walk up the 107 stairs it took to get me to the State Capitol. I had a look around inside for a few minutes. It wasn’t anything special. I liked going in Sacramento much more!

Our last port day on the way home was Ketchikan. This time I headed to Creek Street first, which I love. Then I browsed in some stores picking up a few last minute gifts.

The two weeks were fantastic. I met some great people and have some amazing memories. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep in touch with a few. One couple we sat with at dinner the first week live outside of Seattle which really isn’t too far. It would be nice to see them again!

If you’ve never cruised Alaska before I would highly recommend it!๐Ÿ’œ

Day 16: Gratitude Challenge

I’m a day late with this one…it’s report card writing time!

What public service or organization are you grateful for (ie. The library or Fire Department)?

Well, obviously I’m grateful for the Fire Department and Police Department for keeping my community safe but I’m also grateful for the library!

I used to visit the Terry Fox Library pretty often growing up but then got away from it when I started buying books. Finally I decided I was “wasting” a crazy amount of money on books I would read within a few days. I returned to the library!

I’m someone who likes to hold a real book in my hands. E-Books do NOT work for me! I’m thankful the Fraser Valley Regional Library network has pretty much every book you could ever want and I appreciate being able to put myself on waitlists for highly coveted books.

I’m currently deciding which book to crack open tonight before bed!

Happy Reading!๐Ÿ’œ