Fun, Free, and Entertaining; Burnaby Village Museum

Are there any words more frightening than hearing a young child saying “I’m bored”?

During the summer months I am essentially a stay at home dad. As such I need activities to engage my children.

Seeing as our neighbours complained about the dirt track and the noise from the dirt bikes that we were running on the track in our backyard, I’ve had to go a little further a field to find activities to engage my children in.

With limitations like complaining neighbours and bylaw enforcement, there are only so many activities that I can do in our backyard that will fill the time and keep me sane and the kids safe. And to keep the neighbours from complaining. Again.

So what to do? Where to go for fun and free summer activities?

This week the kids and discovered such a place! And no, it wasn’t Costco! Although Costco is always a fun place to spend a sweltering hot afternoon – free snacks, air conditioning, lots of shade and a hotdog and drink for $1.50? What’s not to love?!

We discovered Burnaby Village Museum!

An old-timey place where kids can get an idea of what life was like before iPads and iPhones ruled the world.

There are all sorts of “hands on” activities for little ones – of course there are also many signs saying “don’t touch” that should be respected to protect the antiques on display.

Oddly enough, one of the activities that my kids particularly enjoyed was the black and white silent Charlie Chaplin movie! They were intrigued with figuring out what the characters were saying and actually doing a pretty good job of narrating the film until the old guy in the back of the theatre “shushed” them.

And of course there is the carousel. My kids LOVED choosing their own horse. Of course the carousel isn’t feee but for $2.65, it does provide a few minutes of entertainment for the kids while a parent can sit and watch. Or check their email.

All things considered, the Burnaby Village Museum is pretty solid option for keeping kids safely engaged. My kids enjoyed it. And I think they learned a few things about life in the “old days” that helps them understand that life was not always as easy as it is nowadays.

Best of all, it is free! And the Burnaby Village Museum does NOT force parents and children to exit through the gift shop – meaning you can avoid being forced to buy an over-priced stuffed toy!

Check it out. But be aware, Burnaby Village Museum closes at 4:39pm. It is located at 6501 Deer Lake Parkway in Burnaby.

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At the Movies; My Three Favourite Comedies

A couple of weeks ago I did a podcast about my three favourite comedy movies and unless you are one of the six people in North America who listened to that episode of my podcast, you probably missed it.

Of course, like any list of “bests” these are just my thoughts and opinions. Clearly this is not the definitive list of funniest movies ever because after all, what metric is there to measure “funniest movies” on? And further, who am I to decree which are the funniest movies? These are just my three favourites.

In no particular order I would say one of the funniest movies is the classic John Candy-Steve Martin comedy of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.

This has it all. Two completely mismatched guys forced to travel together and facing and overcoming adversity, and having a good time while we laugh uproariously.

My favourite line from “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” has to be, “Where’s your other hand?”

To which Steve Martin replies, “Between two pillows”. Classic stuff.

Another of my top three funniest movies is Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

I love that movie. I will watch it time and again during the Christmas season.

So many one liners from that movie. It is gold. comedy gold.

The third comedy that I always enjoy, another John Candy movie, “Uncle Buck”. Just pure comedy gold.

It is made of physical humour as well as so many memorable one liners. Just picture the mountain of a man that John Candy was trying to use a urinal in an elementary school. Good, innocent fun.

The Uncle Buck exchange with Gnat; “Have you ever heard of a tune-up?”

Evil laugh from John Candy followed by, “Have you ever heard of a ritual killing?”

Sure, taken out of context it seems almost bizarre, but add in the sneering face of a teenager, a back firing beast of a car, and screeching tires…comedy gold.

So that’s it, my three favourite comedies

  • Uncle Buck
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Care to share your favourite comedies? Commenting is free.

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Reflections on the Public School System

I have spent the first couple weeks of summer break reflecting on and thinking about how we do things in the K to 12 education system.

One of the things I have been thinking about is the way we treat people who arrive late.

Imagine if when you arrived at your workplace even a couple minutes late, you had to go down to a central office and get a little piece of paper from that office to take to your team leader or supervisor in order to get allowed into your workplace.

How long would you put up with that system? That begs the question; why do kids who arrive late to school have to report to the office to get a late slip – making them even later for their day of learning.

And then what about in schools where teachers choose to not allow late arriving students into their classrooms while they are giving the instructions for the days lesson.

Interesting concept. This guarantees that the student has completely missed what the day is going to be about. Why not let the late arriving student into the classroom and let them begin to get their head into the days lesson?

Another issue I’ve been thinking about is the bell system. It is interesting to note that prisons, saw mills,and the K to 12 public education system are the three institutions left using a bell or loud buzzer to indicate it is time to change activities.

Prisons, saw mills, and the K to 12 public education system. Now that’s something to think about.

At a school based meeting I proposed that we stop using bells to signal the start and finish of classes. The other educators in the room looked at me as if I had lost my mind. They said that without bells there would be chaos in the schools.

It is interesting to note that the post secondary school system does not use bells or buzzers to indicate it is time to transition from one class to another. No chaos there.

These issues remind me of the story about the family cooking a turkey. They cut the end off the turkey and when one of the kids asked why they had to cut the end off the turkey, the reply was, “because that’s what my mom did.”

The kids said that’s interesting. Let’s ask your mom why she cut the end off the turkey.

They asked the grandmother. And the grandmother said “said well because that’s what my mom always did.”

So they went back another generation and asked their great grandmother “why do you cut the end off the turkey?”

The great grandmother replied because I didn’t have a roasting pan big enough to fit a full sized turkey in. So I cut it down to fit.

Sometimes we do things simply because we’ve always done them that way. It is useful to think about what we do and think about why we do them that way. Ask yourself, is what we are doing still serving the needs of our students?

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We Made Grilled Blooming Onions

The other day after cruising through Pinterest and seeing all the beautiful foods that people have made with the help of their kids, I decided to get my kids to help me with grilling a blooming onion.

We started out by mixing up a bowl of dry ingredients – breadcrumbs, a shake or three of Johnny’s seasoning, some salt, some pepper, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika.

In another bowl we whipped up to eggs.

Using our apple slicer/core remover we cut the onions into segments. The first onion we did I pushed the slicer too far through and the onion fell all apart.

The second onion worked better – we learned from the mistakes of the first one. Even though the first onion fell int segments, we still used all the pieces.

We first dipped the onion into the dry ingredients and tried to work the dry ingredients down inside the onion.

Then we dipped the crumb covered onion into the bowl with the egg wash and we did our best to work the egg down inside all the slices without pulling the onion apart.

Back into the crumb mix to get a good solid coating of crumbs on top of the egg on the onion.

And then the onions went on the pre-heated grill for about 25 minutes.

After 20 or 25 minutes (I forget how long it really it was) I put the grilling blooming onion into a small cast-iron pan and “tented” it with foil so that the interior of the onion would soften up and cook.

Grilled Blooming Onions

 

I removed the foil, put it on the table, and we ate it. It was quite spectacular looking even though it wasn’t as pretty as the grilled blooming onions we saw on Pinterest.

The kids were quite impressed with the way it turned out and we are eager to try doing this again.

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The RadRover Flat Tire Adventure

So I got a flat tire on my RadRover – my electric bike.

RadRover

 

Just as I was approaching the Sperling Ave overpass near Lougheed I picked up a staple while riding along the Central Valley Greenway on my way into Vancouver.

And of course I didn’t have my patch kit or air pump with me! Plus the fact that my RadRover is an e-bike sort of made me nervous about changing the tire (more about this later).

And the fact that the RadRover is heavy – more than 60 pounds of bicycle, I didn’t want to carry it very far. I could’ve taken the bike up and onto the Skytrain and headed home but instead I chose to call my support wagon to take me home.

On the way home I contacted Rad Power Bikes via Twitter and they sent me a link to a support email. I also followed up with the staff in the new Vancouver Rad Power Bikes shop and they were very apologetic when they told me that they do not yet have their shop set up nor a mechanic available – shop is scheduled to be open around July 20th.

However, the staff did clearly explain to me how I could take the rear tire off the bike making it much easier to replace or repair the tube – and thereby taking away any anxiety I had about taking the wheel off an e-bike. It is remarkably similar to taking the tire off any bicycle – it is not complicated.

The first and most important thing I did for changing the tire was to turn off the power from the battery to the motor.

RadRover

And then, to take the rear tire off, all you need to do is take a wrench, I think it was a 28 mm, and loosen the nut on the axle on both sides of the tire.

RadRover

On the side near the rear disc brake there is a Phillips screw that you need to undo and remove. It is a little silver safety thingy (using the technical term of “thingy”) so that even if the axle nuts come loose, the rear tire is much less likely to come out of the frame – thereby preventing a catastrophic crash.

RadRover

You also need to snip one of the zap straps that holds the power cable onto the rear frame right near the rear wheel.

RadRover

Once you have the power cable free, there is a little connecter there and you simply pull the connecter apart. Use caution when doing this – remember, you’re dealing with fine electrical parts and you don’t want to screw up the connections.

RadRover

Once I had the rear tire off, I figured it would be easy to get a new tube installed.

So I stopped at a local bike retailer and asked them if they could replace the tube for me. They said they could change it, however they did not have the fat tire tubes in stock at their shop.

They told me their Port Coquitlam location had a bunch of the tubes in stock and they would be able to change it for me. They were very friendly. They told me that a new tube is $25.

I will admit, I was quite shocked to learn that a tube was $25.

I got a bit busy and I didn’t get a chance to visit the Port Coquitlam store so when I got home I found another e-bike retailer thinking maybe they have the “know-how” and the tubes and the ability to change it for me. (More of that anxiety about this being a complicated process because it is an e-bike.)

That shop told me the replacement tubes are $27 and that they charge $45 to change the tube of a bike that is not their brand – and then they added that it would be free if the bike was their brand. Ouch.

He also told me that it is “very complicated to take the back tire off of an e-bike.” He added that you need “very specialized tools and large tire-pulling tools” to get the tire off the rim.

I told him that I already had the tire off the bike and the tire came off the rim simply using my hands. There was no magic or sorcery or even special tools needed to take the rear tire off the bike nor for removing the tube.

At that point I realized that I was simply being silly. There was no reason in the world that I could not simply find a leak in the tire tube and put a patch on it myself. So that’s exactly what I did. I went to my friend who is the King “Sure we can do that!” and we put a patch on the tube. And inflated the tube. AND – it held air!!

RadRover

Then I went home and put the tire back on the bike, being careful and paying attention to the details and not jamming any parts. And now I am riding again. With my patch kit in my carry on bag.

**The staff at Rad Power Bikes repeatedly told me that the rear tire nuts need to be torqued to 40N.m. So that ‘s what I did.

So what did I learn? I learned that sometimes a “can-do” attitude and a search of YouTube can help solve all sorts of problems!

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National Ice Cream Day

Apparently on the list of “national days”, today is National Ice Cream Day.

My current favourite type of ice cream is sea salt and caramel. For a long time it was chocolate and peanut butter or any combination of those ingredients.

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

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Forage Catering

I was at an event yesterday evening (more on the event in the coming day – unless you follow my adventures on Instagram where I’ve already spilled the story). Any way, at last night’s event, the catering was done by Chef Craig Sherer of Forage Catering. Oh my goodness did Chef and his team put on a beautiful display of culinary skills!

The first little delectable bite to come out were these beautiful salmon skewers with a little dusting of nut crumb with nasturtium leaves to complement the presentation.

Next to come out we’re these spoons with a couple slices of heirloom tomato in a herb sauce. That is also tiny dollop of goat cheese on top. One of my daughters loved them so much! She told Chef Sherer and he actually went back and prepped a couple more just for her.

Somehow I didn’t get a photo of the wedges of baby yellow beets that came of the prep area. My kids didn’t like them as much as the tomato spoons but I loved baby beet wedges on skewers.

Then dessert started coming out. These little gems were “apple pie”. Balls of compressed apple (insanely sweet!) on a thin and very flaky pastry base.

Exquisite. I think I ate the equivalent of an entire apple pie, one little morsel at a time.

Of course we can’t just have “healthy” apple pie. We need two-bite sized tarts filled with chocolate mousse with a fresh raspberry delicately set on each tart as well!

Then back to our “healthy” ways of eating fresh fruit – blueberry tarts with a perfect little daisy cut out of fondant. Just the right size for two bites and no mess.

I am now itching to get down to the Forage restaurant on Robson, actually located in the space where O’Douls previously existed – O’Douls – such good times in the 90s … ahhh. If the menu and food philosophy at the Forage restaurant is anything like their catering, I’m sure I’ll love it.

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Instant Pot Sourdough Bread

Following my cooking frozen meat in our Instant Pot experiment, I decided to try something else with the Instant Pot – making a loaf of sourdough-like bread.

Sourdough Bread

I say “sourdough-like” bread because I don’t actually have a sourdough starter anymore (I was bad and I let my over-100 year old starter die). So technically speaking, this wasn’t a sourdough bread. Just sourdough-like.

Sourdough Bread

To make the bread I started with my usual dry ingredients: 3 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of yeast, and a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. I whisked that all together in my stainless steel mixing bowl and then I added the surprise ingredient – 1 1/2 cups of plain, unflavoured Greek style yogurt.

Sourdough Bread

That’s what gives the bread the sourdough-like taste.

I stirred in the yogurt until there was a pretty firm ball of dough and then I quite vigorously kneaded the dough.

Sourdough Bread

At this point I also added a sprinkle of “Herbs de Provence” to add another dimension to the bread.

Sourdough Bread

Then the Instant Pot came into play. Rather than actually using the Instant Pot to bake the bread, I used it to “proof” the bread. I started by placing a piece of parchment paper inside the Instant Pot and then putting the ball of well kneaded dough on the parchment paper inside the Instant Pot.

Sourdough Bread

After putting on the pot lid, I then activated the Instant Pot to the “yogurt” setting for 4 hours.

At that point I could’ve baked the bread, but I was tired and didn’t feel like baking so I just left the “proofed” bread sitting overnight in the IP.

Sourdough Bread

In the morning I put my cast iron Dutch oven in the oven and cranked up the oven to 450°. Twenty minutes later I took out the Dutch oven, plopped in the ball of dough, cut a few slashes on the top of the dough, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and fired it back into the up-to-temperature oven for 25 minutes.

Sourdough Bread

After 25 minutes I took the lid off the Dutch oven and slid it back into the oven for another 10 minutes so that the top of the loaf developed a brown and crispy crust.

The end result was a beautiful loaf of bread with just a hint of sourdough flavour. And of course the best part? Both kids loved the bread and willingly ate it!

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A Day of Eating and Drinking

Text to follow.

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Austin Texas and on to the Houston Space Center

Our third and final day in Texas was spent in Austin and Houston, Texas. Our stops included a cruise along the Colorado River where we go to experience the emergence of literally millions of bats, lunch at June’s Restaurant up in SoCo, and a tour of the Houston Space Center.

This was a great way to end a fabulous weekend in Austin Texas.

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