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10 Ways You Can Make Your Hot Chocolate Even Better

November 2nd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

It’s that time of year again. The days get shorter, darker and a lot colder which is why many start drinking more hot drinks to keep warm. There is nothing better than a cup of hot chocolate but sometimes you want something a little more exciting. Whether you are a lover of peanut butter, peppermint, cinnamon or Nutella, Here are 10 ways you can spice up your hot chocolate.

Infographic via SheKnows

19 Outdoorsy Things You Can Do Before the Snow Takes Over

October 2nd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Since summer’s still sticking around you may as well start checking off everything in the list of things to do before it snows. We all know once the snow hits the ground in Ottawa, it basically becomes hibernation season for most of us. 

From time to time in the winter we decide to brave the cold and do something, but once we head inside we automatically remember why we don’t leave the house. Right now the weather isn’t that bad, you can go outside for a whole day and come back in without any issues like wet socks or frozen fingers. It’s time to take advantage of this abnormal autumn weather, here are 19 outdoorsy things you can do before the snow takes over!

Hikes:

Lusk Caves Trail // Gatineau Park
Distance: 12 km

 

Hemlock Bluff Trail // Algonquin Provincial Park
Distance: 3.5km (loop)

 

King Mountain Trail // Gatineau Park
Distance: 1.9km

 

Mount Marcy // New York
Distance: 24km

 

Wilson Carbide Ruins // Gatineau Park
Distance: 3km

 

Centennial Ridges Trail // Algonquin Provincial Park
Distance: 10.4km (loop)

 

Luskville Falls Trail // Gatineau Park 
Distance: 4.5km

 

Booth’s Rock Trail // Algonquin Provincial Park 
Distance: 5.1km (loop)

 

Pink Lake Trail // Gatineau Park 
Distance: 2.5km

 

Lauriault Trail // Gatineau Park
Distance: 3km 

 

Activities:

Go pet some of your favourite animals at Parc Omega 

 

Rent a canoe or kayak on Dow’s Lake or the Rideau Canal

 

Try something different and go horseback riding at Captiva Farms 

 

Head to Arbraska Laflèche

 

Walking Paths:

Mer Bleue Bog // Ridge Road

 

Pine Grove Trail // Ottawa, ON

 

Stony Swamp // 4897 Old Richmond Road

 

Chapman Mills Conservation Area // 254 Winding Way

 

Sarsaparilla Trail // Ottawa, ON

 

Source: Narcity

In theatres October 20

October 2nd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

10 Ideas for Non-Digital Family Fun on Road Trips

July 31st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Whether your family is taking a short trip to Grandma’s house or a cross-country vacation in the family car, these interactive activities will help the time pass more quickly.

With seven children, you can imagine the travel tensions my wife, Ellie, and I have experienced during long road trips: bad attitudes, wars over seat space, and the incessant asking of the timeless question, “How much longer until we get there?”

Whether your family is taking a short trip to Grandma’s house or a cross-country vacation in the family car, having things to do always helps the trip pass more quickly and makes things much more enjoyable along the way.

Sure, it’s easier to turn on a DVD or let the kids use their hand-held devices. But since you already have everyone in one place, why not buck the solo trend and give everyone a chance to connect and enjoy the trip and each other—as a family?

Through three decades of parenting, Ellie and I have adapted some travel ideas from other creative parents, and we developed others out of our own desperation. The following are some of our favorite non-digital activities and games to play on a road trip, short or long. We’ve even included some links to make it easier for you.

1. Mile marker. On all interstate freeways and many major U.S. highways, there are small green signs along the shoulder of the road to mark each highway mile. The object of the game is to call out a “mile marker” before anyone else. Each mile marker earns a point. If a family member incorrectly calls a mile marker (it turns out to be another kind of sign, etc.), a point is taken away. If two people call a mile marker at the same time, no point is awarded. The first person to get 10 mile markers (or 20 or however many you want, depending on how long you want the game to last), wins the game.

2. Alphabet signs. Find all the letters of the alphabet, in order, on billboards, highway signs, license plates, etc. (The only letters off limits are those inside your own vehicle). As a person finds a letter, they call out the letter and the word that contains it. Everyone competes individually, and everyone can call out letters and words at the same time. The first person to finish is the winner.

3. Bible characters. In this variation of the classic game, “20 Questions,” one person secretly selects a Bible character and announces the first letter of that person’s name. All other family members take turns asking yes/no questions to try to narrow down the subject (“Is it a woman?” or “Did he live in the time of Christ?”). Whenever a family member gets a “Yes” answer to his question, he may continue asking until receiving a “No.”

To win the game, a person would ask “Is it _____?”. If the answer is “Yes,” the round is over and the person who guessed correctly gets to choose the next character. If the answer is “No,” the person is eliminated from that round, and the other family members play until someone correctly guesses the Bible character. One more twist: If the person who selected the Bible character can’t answer one of the questions about the character, the family member who stumped him wins. You can also play this game with animals, sports teams, etc.

4. Camping trip. One person, called the tour guide, announces, “I’m going on a camping trip, and I’m bringing a …” To decide what he is bringing, the tour guide thinks of a rule. For example, the rule could be “Only words that start with an ‘F’ are allowed,” so the tour guide could say, “I’m going on a camping trip, and I’m bringing a flashlight.”

The goal is to guess other words and, in the process, figure out the rule. One person might say, “Can I bring a battery?” The tour guide would say “You can’t come,” because he knows that it doesn’t start with an “F.” That person stays in the game, but his turn is over. If the next person says, “Can I bring fun?” the tour guide would respond, “You can come.” The round can end in one of two ways: 1) Those who figure out the rule can keep suggesting items for the camping trip until the other participants catch on; or 2) Someone uses his turn to ask, “Is the rule, ‘Things that begin with “F”‘?” If a person tries to guess the rule and the guess is incorrect, he sits out for the rest of that round.

Other rules that could apply to flashlight might be: words with two syllables, things you’d find in a backpack, words with three consecutive consonants, things that produce light, etc. You can make the game as simple or sophisticated as you want to cater to the abilities of your family members. This game is great for spawning creativity on the part of the tour guide, and building analytical skills for all the other family members.

5. License plate. Each player has a blank map of the United States. When a family member spots a vehicle with the license plate from a particular state, he marks it on his map. One rule: You have to be able to read the name of the state, not just identify the plate by its colors or graphics.

6. The box game. Using a piece of graph paper or a page with 10 rows of 10 evenly-spaced dots, players take turns drawing one vertical or horizontal line from one dot to another. When a person draws a line that completes a box, he puts his initial inside the box. When the grid is fully filled in, the initials are counted, and the person who has the most initials is the winner.

7. Scavenger hunt. Before the trip, develop a list of items that you are likely to see on the trip. When the trip starts, hand a copy of the list to each family member (non-readers can help readers find the items). Our family has broken our items into categories (animals, people, vehicles, structures, landscapes, etc.). The first person to complete a category gets a special treat (for example, any item under $1 at the next gas station stop). Once a person completes a category, he is not eligible for other category awards (this gives everyone a chance to earn a reward), but is still in the running for the big reward, which is given to the first person who completes the whole list.

8. Reading and listening. Plan a visit to the library before your trip. Allow each child to pick out a few books and make sure they have a personal book bag to keep up with their own stuff (you can also add some coloring books, activity books, pencils, etc.). While you’re at the library, pick up some family classics on audio. We actually listened to a dramatized Cheaper by the Dozen during four days of driving. 

9. Progressive scrapbook. Buy a journal or album for each child, along with some tape or a glue stick and car-safe scissors. Wherever you stop, pick up some brochures or postcards. Have the children select pictures or other memorabilia to put in their personal scrapbook, and have them write what they liked about that part of the trip, what they did, etc. Encourage them to write down as many details as they can. They can add family photos to the book once you get home.

10. How much longer? Using Google Maps or another mapping website, print a map of your trip and give it to each family member. When someone inevitably asks, “How much longer…?” have the questioner pull out his or her personal map and point to where you are on the map. Every once in a while, you might announce, “We’re in ______” or, “We just passed Highway ____. Can you find it on your map?”. This exercise gives the children something to do, answers their questions, and teaches them map skills. And you never again have to say in exasperation, “If you ask again, you’ll have a quiet time out for the next half hour!”

Easy S’mores Pretzel Bites

July 5th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

This recipe makes 24 s’more pretzel bites but you can adjust it as necessary.

Leave them under the broiler until they puff up and get a little brown.

These turned out soo yummy with a little salty/sweet flavor! They were great right out of the oven melting and a few hours later was good. Not sure how long they can be kept though.

Ingredients:

  • 48 pretzels
  • 2 Hershey bars (24 individual chocolate pieces)
  • 72 small marshmallows (3 per pretzel)

Directions:

  • Lay 24 pretzels on a cookie sheet (use parchment paper for an easy clean-up).
  • Pre-heat the broiler to high.
  • Place three marshmallows on each pretzel and stick in the oven for 2-3 minutes.
  • Place a Hershey chocolate piece on each pretzel and put back in the oven for 1-2 minutes so they melt.
  • Stick a pretzel on top of the chocolate.
  • Enjoy them all warm or put them in fridge to chill.

Prayer Walks: 9 Reasons to Pray with Your Feet

June 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
“Now that the weather is nice, I’m taking my Catahoula Leopard dog Rogue (right) out for a lot more walks around the block.
I find myself talking to God on my walks and praying for the families and individuals who live in my neighbourhood. I recently heard that the police have noticed a decrease in crime in some communities where Prayer Walks have taken place (for example, Britannia) so I would encourage you to be intentional about praying for your neighbours.” – Care Baldwin
Source: Pray Ottawa
by Pastor Dave HarderWhy should someone prayerwalk? Can’t we just pray right where we are?

Sure we can. We can pray anywhere at any time for any reason. But there is something intentional and powerful about prayer walking. There are many benefits:

  1. It helps you get into a rhythm of prayer. Prayer can be like music. When you hear music you like, you tape your feet and get into the rhythm. It’s true with prayer, too. The strides of your step help you to get into a rhythm with God.
  2. It’s one thing to sit in your office or living room and pray, but its quite another to be out in the community that you’re praying for. Prayer is heaven crashing together with earth. When you look into people’s eyes as you pass them on the sidewalk or you see areas of need in your town, there’s a deeper sense of connection to God’s purposes.
  3. You begin to see things you never would see if you weren’t out praying as you walk. (You see much more when prayerwalking, but don’t think its the same thing as prayerdriving or prayerbiking. There are places for both, but this is different.) You begin to have eyes that Jesus has and see what he sees.It’s great to see what you’re praying for.
  4. Your kingdom imagination is stirred. You ask questions of God when you see new things. God, what does the kingdom breaking forth look like in that neighborhood? What does the gospel look like in this context? How can the gospel restore that park? How can I join you – quite literally – in seeing your agenda lived out in that family/person/business/organization/park/neighborhood/house/etc? What is your dream for that school?
  5. It gives you things to pray for when you don’t know what to say. Whatever you look at, pass, hear, smell – pray for it. Neighbours, Neighbourhoods, Parks, Schools, Businesses, Churches, The weather, People (whether you know them or not). Whatever comes to mind, pray for it. All the senses should trigger longings and yearnings for renewal and shalom to occur in your community by the power of God’s spirit.
  6. When you walk you will begin to feel overwhelmed with the amount of needs you see around you – and this is a good thing. Prayer is helplessness acknowledged. When we pray with a spirit of helplessness and desperation we are truly praying. I get overwhelmed by the physical, emotional, mental, cultural and spiritual needs I feel all around me…and the best thing I can do is to tell God. If he’s in control of His world then I place those feelings of being overwhelmed to him.
  7. Others can easily join you. Invite someone to come with you for 45 minutes or an hour (you’ll be surprised at how quickly the time passes). Do it with your smaller group or your family after dinner. Pray out loud and then when you’re done, stop praying and let those with you pray out loud. When there is silence, pray as you feel led. There’s a special bond when you pray with others for your neighborhood and community.
  8. It’s good exercise,especially as the weather is getting warmer, it allows for a great excuse to get outside.
  9. Most importantly, we pray so that the kingdom of God will break in and through in our communities.We pray so that the gospel will be realized and Jesus will become more famous in our communities and neighborhoods

The Perfect 3-Minute Mug Brownie

June 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
If you need a fabulous mug brownie recipe done fast {like 3 minutes fast!} you must try friend Claudia’s Perfect recipe. It is so delicious and will fill your late night chocolate cravings.

Yield: 1 servings

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Total Time:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt
  • splash of vanilla
  • splash of coffee extract
  • sweetened whipped cream {optional}

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl {or mug} stir flour, sugar and cocoa powder together so everything is evenly dispersed. Add in wet ingredients and stir to create batter. Spray mug with nonstick cooking spray and pour batter in. Microwave 1-1 1/2 minutes until cake if just baked. Turn out of mug onto a plate and top with whipped cream.