Tag Archives: Christmas

Festive Activities at Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake

This year’s Winter Lights Display at Lafarge Lake is bigger and brighter than ever before! You can join in the magic this season by taking part in festive activities including caroling, scavenger hunts, tulip and lantern workshops, and hot chocolate nights.

New this year, Coquitlam’s Park Spark team – including volunteers and local businesses – will be on site to welcome visitors, provide walking route information, and enhance the park visitor experience through interactive activities.

 Hosts will be stationed at a Welcome Tent on the east side of Lafarge Lake, near the Town Centre Park Plaza, from 6-8 p.m. on varying nights each week (Visit www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark for updates). 

Activities will include:

  • Tulip Workshop: Community members are invited to participate in the Lafarge Lake Winter Lights Display by creating a “pop bottle” tulip. This year, tulips will be installed at the south end of the lake within the Woodland Garden display. 
  • Dogtopia Night: Bring your dog for an evening stroll to take in the lights. Drop in at the Welcome Tent at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 to enter your pet into the most festively dressed dog competition.
  • Scavenger Hunts: Pick up your scavenger hunt cards at the Welcome tent to take part in this fun activity leading participants on a 1.2-kilometre loop around the lake, through 10 themed areas on Monday, Dec. 5, Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 10.
  • Lantern Workshops: Park visitors will be invited to make a lantern, which will be added to the light display along the east side of the lake. 
  • Search for Sparky: Keep an eye out for our Park Spark mascot, Sparky, who will be somewhere along the display on Friday, Dec. 16 from 6-8 p.m. Find him to receive a treat!
  • Caroling: Join us in song for fun caroling nights in the park.
  • Jingle Bell Night: Get into the festive spirit on Wednesday , Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. with group caroling and free hot chocolate. 

All activities take place rain or shine. Dates and times will be publicized in advance online at www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark and through the City’s social media channels.

Lafarge Lake is located in Town Centre Park (1299 Pinetree Way) and can also be accessed from the Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station. Parking is available throughout Town Centre Park off of Trevor Wingrove Way.

Coquitlam is Aglow this Holiday Season

This is the fifth year for Coquitlam’s Christmas light display and it is still one of the largest free outdoor light displays in Metro Vancouver.

Coquitlam City Hall and Spirit Square have approximately 10,000 individual lights located by the Burlington Street entrance! The 30’ tall Christmas tree alone has over 2,500 lights.

After viewing the Coquitlam City Hall light display, you can take a stroll across the street to Lafarge Lake and take in the approximately 50,000 individual LED lights in the trees.

The tallest feature is the three LED-lit Sequoia trees, which are approximately 45 feet tall.

There are also several dozen other custom illuminations including:

  • A lit trail section from the fishing pier, south to Guildford Avenue, complete with suspended chandeliers;
  • Custom-illuminated gardens at the Inspiration Garden (Guildford and Pipeline) – you can take your picture on the illuminated tractor;
  • A round-framed caterpillar that people can walk through (my kids’ favourite part of this light display;
  • A ‘fantasy forest’ village, which is home to several ‘Halflings’ who work in the ‘mine shafts’ (there is no word on whether they are being paid a living-wage or not);
  • A 14-foot tall, animated elf, fishing off the pier; and
  • A white garden with seven illuminated reindeer;
  • A simulated waterfall;
  • An illuminated ‘tulip’ garden made by the community from recycled plastic bottles.

The display is designed to be appreciated on foot along the south end of Lafarge Lake. There is parking available at the Evergreen Cultural Centre lot or beside the Inspiration Garden (located at Guildford Way and Pipeline Road).

The display can be viewed seven days a week from dusk to midnight until January.

The best part? The display is energy-efficient and sure to delight kids and grown-ups alike.

Finally, if you are like me and love to share your photos of amazing things on Twitter or Instagram, be sure to tag your photos of the display with #CoquitlamLights.

 

Changing Attitudes about Christmas Day

I don’t know your feelings about this topic or issue but I am feeling quite shocked at the way that Christmas Day is now treated.

Christmas Day is one of the biggest days to open movie blockbusters. Christmas movies like “Into the Woods”, a sort of freakish remaking of all the classic and horribly disturbing children’s stories that nobody in their right mind should ever read to a kid under the age of 39. I suppose nothing says merry Christmas like a horror movie.

Another thing that surprised me was that there were 4000 people who visited the Vancouver Aquarium on Christmas Day! That’s correct, four thousand people visited the aquarium on Christmas Day.

Interestingly, the local No-Frills grocery store was closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year but the Shoppers Drug Mart and the Starbucks next to it were both bustling. I remember when I was a kid everything was closed on Christmas Day. Everything other than the Chinese restaurants.

I suppose the times they are a changing.

Coquitlam to Jingle All the Way

You can be a part of Coquitlam history as the community aims to break the record for the largest group of people singing Jingle Bells together.

Evergreen Cultural Centre
LaFarge Lake Lights

Join Coquitlam’s Park Spark team on Monday, December 22nd at 7:00 p.m. at the Innovation Centre (located right beside the Evergreen Cultural Centre). The singing will take place outdoors on the plaza between the Innovation Centre and the Evergreen Cultural Centre. Look for the Park Spark tent and flags.

The first 100 participants will receive a free jingle bell.

The current record for the largest group singing Jingle Bells while ringing bells is 488 people, held by Albany, New York (according to Recordsetter.com).

Coquitlam’s Jingle Bells record attempt will take place rain or shine, and participants are encouraged to wear festive attire including holiday hats, ugly sweaters, and jingle bells.

While the singing is expected to last approximately 30 minutes, the event provides a great opportunity to visit the holiday lights display around Lafarge Lake and City Hall.

For more information about the Jingle Bell record-setting attempt, visit www.coquitlam.ca/parkspark.

The Best Christmas Moment EVER

Okay, I have a blog post about a new leather bag that I want to share with you (thank you Avallone Leather for not harassing me to get your gorgeous messenger bag back even though I promised to send it back more than a few days ago) and I have a blog post about my new shaving equipment from Fendrihan’s (anyone who knows me, knows that I take my shaving seriously) but this evening I have to tell you a story from Christmas morning that just warms my heart.

So you know how when parents start to get busy wrapping presents late on Christmas Eve? Well, anyway that is when I do all my wrapping. Sometimes when you bring home a present and perhaps you forgot to get a box to put it in? Am I alone in this situation? Anyone else?

One of my girls is wild about horses. So I brought home that horse character from Rapunzel, I think his name is Maximus? You know the one, the big dopey looking horse?

I figured she would love it.

Back to the wrapping of the gift. I didn’t have a box to put the horse in. So like any other male on Christmas Eve would do, I got inventive. I went down into our cellar, dumped a box of bags of those crispy “healthy” veggie chips into another bigger box and took the chip box to stuff Maximus into before gift wrapping. (Just as a quick aside, I still can’t figure out how to wrap a gift. Every time I wrap something it looks like a raccoon did the wrapping.)

To make a long story short, I stuffed Maximus into the box, wrapped the box and went to sleep.

Next morning at the gift unwrapping ceremony we are distributing gifts one by one to the girls. Daughter gets the box, shreds the paper from the box, screams with joy at the sight of a box of chips, holds the box of chips above her head like she just won the Stanley Cup, pumps the box in the air and screams, “I got CHIPS!! I GOT CHIPS!!!”

This is an image I will hang onto. The pure joy of a child getting something as simple as a box full of chips.

Funnier still, once she did open the box and find there was a horse in the box, Maximus was immediately renamed Chips.

Best Christmas moment EVER.

Christmas Dinner 2010 in the Robinsmith House

Somehow I became in charge of organizing, planning, preparing and cooking the Christmas feast for our household this year. Knowing that I was going to be feeding carnivores as well as vegetarians, my first stop was the Queens Park Meat Market.

Queens Park Meat Market
Queens Park Meat Market

Without letting on that I am usually a vegetarian (these are people who have very sharp knives and saws for cutting up bodies…I was NOT taking any chances) I asked the butcher for advice. I told him that I did not want to cook a turkey because of the size of the bird and the messy leftover situation. His recommendation was to roast a chicken and in no time flat I was walking out of the Meat Market with a six pound chicken tucked under my arm.

Chicken Prepped and Ready to Roast
Chicken Prepped and Ready to Roast

I took the bird home and slipped it into the back of the fridge while trying to figure out just how to roast a chicken. The “recipe” I used as advice came from the free magazine you can pick up at BC Liquor stores. Essentially all I did was cut a couple onions and carrots into thick slices and lay them in the bottom of the roasting pan. I then plopped the chicken on top, rubbed it down with butter and stuffed it in the preheated oven.

Chicken in the Oven
Chicken in the Oven

Following that little prep, I took some potatoes that I had baked the night before and cut the tops of them open to expose their warm squishy insides. I have to admit, the baked potatoes were a bit of a flop. Parts of them did not bake and other parts of the same potato were mushy. One of the two flops from dinner.

Christmas Chicken and Potatoes Roasting
Christmas Chicken and Potatoes Roasting

Once the potatoes were back in the oven with the chicken I turned my attention to the butt of so many jokes, the Tofurkey. I picked this little feller up at Choices Market in New Westminster.

Christmas Tofurkey
Christmas Tofurkey

This “beast” comes with cooking instructions; wrap in tin foil, pour in half of a baste that you need to prepare ahead of time (ingredient list included) and stick it in the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Christmas Tofurkey Prepped
Christmas Tofurkey Prepped

Poor little nondescript looking thing! Once it came out of the oven though, delicious!!

Double Baked Potatoes
Oven Baked Stuffing

Here are the potatoes again. As you can see I cut the tops off, mashed up the insides, added cheddar cheese and a little lump of butter to each one and then put them back in the oven. My philosophy is that when a dish doesn’t turn out quite as you would like it to, add more butter and another sprinkle of salt.

Next came the stuffing, or as my American followers say, the dressing. This was the other let down of the party. I bought a 50 pound sack of Marcy’s Traditional Stuffing from Costco and it was just way too much bread. Or as my friend would say, it was drier than a popcorn fart. Next time I make it I will add more celery, onions, carrots and hot water to the mix. My Momma always taught me to follow the recipe precisely the first time you make something. After that you can adjust as needed.

Oven Baked Stuffing
Oven Baked Stuffing

And then it was time for the bird to fly the coop. I left it in the oven for the full two hours the butcher had suggested for the six pound bird.

Roasted Chicken
Roasted Chicken

Then, in case anybody called me up the next day to say that they had food poisoning, I stabbed that bird with a meat thermometer. Hot enough to eat.

In Case of Any Food Poisoning Claims
In Case of Any Food Poisoning Claims

Another plus about the Tofurkey is that it comes from the store with a little plastic bag of miso gravy. All I had to do was dump it in a pot and warm it up and I would have vegetarian gravy. Instead I spooned some of the drippings from under the chicken into the pot along with the gravy, added another cup of water with a tablespoon of corn starch and stirred the beejesus out of it until it was hot. And delicious.

Gravy...ummmm...Gravy
Gravy...ummmm...Gravy

Once the cooked chicken was rested up nicely I attacked it with a pairing knife; my pathetic excuse for a carving knife would not even break the skin on the baked bird.

When I walked into the room with the chicken in the roaster, the first thing an individual who will go unnamed said was, “You’ve got it upside down in the roaster!”

I explained that my Momma taught me that trick because it makes the breast meat more juicy (total baloney on my part). At least it shut them up and they gave me a new sense of respect for my cooking prowess.

Carved Chicken
Carved Chicken

Right after the chicken was out and carved, the Tofurkey was due out. Now this is a carving job I can handle. The instructions say to take a serrated bread knife and slice into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices. Easy.

Tofurkey
Tofurkey

Finally we were ready to eat. And eat we did. Baked yams, potatoes, carrots, chicken, beets, stuffing, Tofurkey, a superb squash and apple casserole, and gravy. Gallons of gravy.

Interesting to note that everyone commented on the superb flavour of the Tofurkey and yet nobody said boo about the chicken. I tried a piece of the chicken, white meat and dark meat and it was okay. It was all the more enjoyable when drenched in gravy.

After we were done eating I trucked back into the kitchen and quickly cleaned it up ready for the next meal.

Post-Dinner Stovetop
Post-Dinner Stovetop

And…

Done
Done

Christmas 2010 was a smash hit. The food was good, the company was good, the baby girls only pulled the Christmas tree over twice and the gifting was fabulous. I can hardly wait until next year when someone else is responsible for prepping and cooking the meal!!

The Best Gift a Man Can Give His Sweetheart

You know, the entire issue of giving a gift to your wife is so completely confusing for a man. Let me tell you why.

Through the years I have given my Sweetheart many gifts. Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Ground Hog Day, Easter, the anniversary of our beginning dating, the anniversary of our engagement, the anniversary of our marriage, the birth of our children, even Christmas warrants a gift. Lord help me if the federal government finally declares that day in February as Heritage Day; just another day for me to give a gift. As I said though, there are many gifts that have been happily and joyful presented from me to my Sweetheart through our time together.

Of all the gifts I have presented her (I love that little play on words…you know, gift, present…) there is only one of those gifts that I actually see on a regular basis. All the other gifts, the diamonds, sapphires, all those precious and semi-precious gems, gold, silver, tin, lace and silk (well it is actually polyester although it is a really nice polyester) garments have disappeared into the recesses of the house. Disappeared to never be seen again.

However, the one gift that I do still see is the one gift that I receive endless amounts of derision for having given. And what is that gift you ask? The most useful gift a young mother could ever dream of possessing…a coffee maker. Not just any old coffee maker, a stainless steel, top quality French Press coffee maker. And let me tell you, it makes a damn fine cup of coffee.

Now when I go shopping for gifts for my Sweetheart I look for an item that I can imagine no use for. Once I have seen an item that has that distinct aura of no discernible use, I know I have found what my Sweetheart will receive as a gift. For this reason I have decided against buying that cool new mini-van we both loved or the Dyson vacuum cleaner for my Sweetheart for this coming Christmas.