Open the Door Get on the Floor, Everybody Saw Some Dinosaurs!

 

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Well it’s been nearly a year since we made our way to Drumheller, AB to see the dinosaurs, but I promised a blog post about it, so here it is!!!

Our kiddos were then nearly 3 and 6, and it worked out to be the perfect ages to manage the long drives & enjoy walking around the museum.

We started our journey from Coquitlam and drove all the way to Revelstoke the first day & set up camp there for 2 nights. We did make a few stops along the way of course, like in Three Valley Gap! Perfect place to stretch your legs and do a little sight seeing. This is the 2nd time I’ve stopped at Three Valley Gap and NOT gone inside lol! But if we ever head that way again I won’t miss a 3rd opportunity to check out the Heritage Ghost Town there!

There are several recreational camp sites & as well as a Provincial campsite along Lake Revelstoke. Had we thought to book our spot online in advance (oops!) We would have stayed at the first campsite along the lake, Martha Creek (hello, running water!)

BUT we ended up nabbing a spot on one of the campsites further up the road, at Wadey Creek.  This campsite was perfectly situated on the lake and the site was clean & well maintained by its hosts 🙂

The campsite is just a few minutes drive from Mount Revelstoke National Park, where we spent the afternoon on our second day! There is a free shuttle bus you can take from the parking lot to the Summit, but it’s a lovely walk too! Pack a lunch & snacks to enjoy in the park (but be bear aware*)!

The fields of wildflowers along the parkway are stunning!

After 2 nights in Revelstoke we packed up and continued on our journey! Next stop was Banff National Park. Now the last time the hubby and I stayed in Banff we went in mid-September and we had no trouble finding camping spots at the base of Lake Louise. However…this time we were cruising through in August (peak tourism season), and once again we hadn’t made a reservation. The Lake Louise area is extremely busy with tour buses coming and going. But it is the most amazing stop & I would highly recommend making your way up to see Lake Louise, even if you don’t stay at the campground there. During our visit in 2010 we camped at the base, biked to the top to see the lake and rented a canoe. It was sooo much fun & incredibly picturesque.

Since the campground there was full, we headed further North, toward Jasper, and there are several campgrounds along the way to choose from.

We ended up staying at Mosquito Creek Campground, which we had stayed at back in 2010. The site is equipped with outhouses & a large sink with running water to wash your dishes. While this was all bear country (which we’re familiar with), the only warnings that were up & one we received from the park ranger himself, was about the family of Ravens onsite (a group of Ravens is called an ‘Unkindness’ or ‘Conspiracy’…very fitting in this case)! The ravens, while ever present & a little creepy, never became a problem, but apparently they were notorious for snatching food away from children & any unattended food at this campsite!

Now, at this time, it was mid-to late-August, summer for everyone, except for Banff apparently! It was maybe 4 degrees C! Thankfully we had packed our winter jackets and toques; they came in handy!

Banff is a stunning place to camp, every inch is a photo op!

Finally it was time to pack up and make our way to Drumheller! The drive through the Rockies was incredible!! I just loved the rolling hills once we headed into Alberta, such a beautiful province.

In keeping with our pattern, of not having campground reservations, we arrived in Drumheller hoping for the best! We chose The Hoodoo RV Resort & Campground & it ended up being the perfect place to camp, the showers were a nice treat! The campsite is situated on a grass field where the kids could play right in front of us, as well as a playground for them. And there is coin laundry & a small store for snacks etc..

I just found this site with a list of campsites in Drumheller, in case you’d like to check out your options.

I had no expectations or plans for what we would see in Drumheller, so I was amazed by the amount of sightseeing we were able to do! Drumheller really had so much more to offer than just the Royal Tyrell Museum! But it was certainly first on our list once we arrived in town!

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Just outside of the museum you can hike/walk around and explore the Badlands yourself! The museum offers guided tours as well, but we opted for a short tour on our own. It is super hot in this area, wear good walking shoes, hats, and bring lots of water!

On our way home from the museum we stopped at The World’s Largest Dinosaur!

This dinosaur was completed in 2001, and stands 86ft tall, which is 4.5 times bigger than the T-Rex ever was! There are 106 stairs to the top & the mouth can fit 12 pple for viewing. This is a paid attraction (while inexpensive), but it is very hot on your way up the stairs, and we happened to be on the heels of a large group so there was a wait at the top before we could sneak in to look out & snap a pic. If you’re not keen on trekking up the stairs in the heat, a picture at the base will do! A portion of the admission & gift shop sales goes into the Wild Legacy Fund, which is put towards economic development in Drumheller.

While Drumheller is known for being the Dinosaur Capital, and there are lots of dinosaur exhibits to enjoy, we spent the rest of our time in Drumheller, learning about it’s roots as a mining town, visiting the Hoodoos, which were just a short drive from our campsite, checking out the elementary school in the town of East Coulee, and walking across the suspension bridge, like I said, there is so much more to do in Drumheller than see dinosaurs!

East Coulee School Museum

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East Coulee boomed with the coal mine industry in the ’30’s and ’40’s , and the school housed students from grades 1 to 5. The town experienced a decline in the ’50’s with natural gas starting to replace coal. By the ’70’s the town was nearly a ghost town. Today it has approximately 160 residents in the hamlet.

*source: http://ecsmuseum.ca/

The Atlas Coal Mine in East Coulee

Considered to be one of the oldest, complete historical coal mines & home to Canada’s last standing wooden tipple!

We had just been to the Britannia Mine Museum here in BC (sooo worth a visit), otherwise we would have done the tour, but instead we poked around looking at the equipment & of course stopped for a few pics!

Star Mine Suspension Bridge ~ Rosedale

Built in 1931, it is a 117 meter long pedestrian suspension bridge, built for the coal miners of Star Mine, to cross the Red Deer River.

The Hoodoos

Between East Coulee and Drumheller, the Hoodoos can be found right off Highway 10 East & you cannot miss them!

The Hoodoos are spectacular rock formations, naturally formed over millions of years by erosion.

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And last but not least, two of our favorite places to stop for a bite were:

WHIFS Flapjack House

Attached to the Badlands Motel, this adorable greasy spoon was delicious and such fun for the kids! Inside you’ll find a dinosaur motif, a train set running above the dining room (basically my son’s 2 favorite things!) + a classic breakfast menu to choose from.

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Asteroid (Rosedale)

Cutest little lunch spot with homemade comfort food, like burgers, fries & milkshakes!

After our epic visit to Drumheller, we packed up again and drove straight through to Revelstoke, back to Wadey Creek campsite, and this time scored a lakefront spot!

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We finished our trip with 2 nights back here, celebrated our son’s 6th birthday, and then headed home!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our family vacation to Drumheller & I hope it inspires you to get out there and see it for yourself! Have you been already, what were you favorite sights? Are you planning to go this summer? I would love to hear!!

Thanks so much for stopping by sweet friends!!

Xo Jen

*Drumheller history compliments of Wikipedia & Travel Drumheller

The Love Language of Pizza

‘When a moon hits your eye like a big PIZZA pie, that’s amore!’

Sooo it’s no surprise that PIZZA has been my muse this month with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, and that’s not just because Pizza is my jam! But because for the last few years, PIZZA has been our Valentine’s Day tradition. It always seems like too much to arrange a sitter, just to head to a crowded restaurant. Instead we’ve been making homemade pizzas for Valentine’s Day and saving our pennies for a night out on a different day, when we can nab a sitter & there’s much less expectation lol! And it’s also been fun letting the kids in on the celebration, making Valentines’ Day a family affair.

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The pizza assembly line, Mr. Sweet Life runs a tight ship lol!

Thanks to my sweet sister-in-law Andrea Gurniak Photography for coming by the house to catch The Stafford Squad in action! (and for letting us hold you hostage for pizza lol)

Our favorite pizza ingredients:

  • Unico Pizza Sauce
  • Fantino & Mondello Sliced Pepperoni
  • Dole pineapple chunks
  • Fresh deli ham
  • Spinach
  • Fresh sliced tomato
  • Sliced Green Pepper
  • Tre Stelle Bocconcini Medallion Slices
  • Cracker Barrel Mozzarella
  • Old Mill 12″ Thin Pizza Crust Kits

With the above we make: Hawaiian, Pepperoni with Green Pepper and Tomato, Bocconcini & Spinach Pizzas !

Now for something SWEET!

I so rarely take time to bake outside of custom orders, so it was nice to make something for the family for a change! This recipe is from Baker by Nature, I simply added a touch more chili powder (personal preference), and sprinkles on top!

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Hot for You ~ Chocolate Chili Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 egg yolks

2 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients, set aside. In your mixer, cream the butter with the sugar, then add milk & vanilla, and then one egg at a time. Slowly add your dry ingredients to the mixer. Wrap dough in saran & chill (you can divide in half and wrap separately for faster thawing time before rolling out).

Line baking sheets with parchment & preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out to desired thickness ( I like mine a little thicker), and pick a fun cookie cutter, it doesn’t have to be hearts! I sprinkled the tops of mine with Bakefair sprinkles before popping into the oven. & I love the crunch that adds to the tops!

Bake approx 8-10mins, Don’t over bake, as they will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight container, or enjoy immediately!

Here’s a gift from me to you, for Valentine’s!

Enjoy FREE SHIPPING in Canada with code: BEMINE at checkout, only until Sunday at MIDNIGHT (Feb 11th)!

*cannot be combined with other offers, applies to standard shipping service only, cannot be applied to previous orders.

AND!! The ‘All You Need is Love’ Printable is complimentary HERE to blog readers! Simply download, print & frame!

All You Need Printable 

(8 X 10, use cardstock)

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Valentine’s Mini Session with Sasha Blaney Photography

I’d love to hear about your Valentine’s traditions & if you include the kiddos, and if so, how?! And be sure to tag me @thesweetlifeapparel when you get those prints in place, or if you try out the cookie recipe, of course with #getthebakedgoods!

Happy Valentine’s Day sweet friends!

Xo The Sweet Life Jen

Visit the Love Sweet Love Collection in the shop to nab your sweet faves & the new PIZZA tees!

Hit the SHOP 

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Brunch-tastic Recipes for Christmas Morning Magic!

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Ahhh the lost art of brunch! I went from enjoying boozy brunches with friends before kids, to making brunch for family functions on the regular…not quite as relaxing lol, but still pretty darn delicious!

At the very least, I’ve mastered a few great recipes that can be made the night before, are easy to pull together with not too many exotic ingredients, and will feed the masses with leftovers to boot, these are must have qualities in a recipe for me!

If you have littles on the go, then I’m sure brunch will seem like a long ways away from when you get out of bed to when you eat, so we always start our day with some fruit, yogurt & toast to hold them off until guests have arrived and brunch is served! (*pro-tip, don’t roll into family functions ‘hangry’ or with hangry kids lol)

Without further ado, let’s start with a little some Sweet for Christmas morning!

baked french toast

Image & recipe courtesy of Paula Dean via Food Network

Baked Maple Pecan French Toast

  • 1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt
  • Maple syrup

Praline Topping:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

*gluten free option, by simply swapping out the french bread for your favorite gluten free bread* I have not tried to swap out the milk for a dairy free alternative, but feel like this would be an easy switch! If you try it let me know what you think!

Now onto something savoury for your main dish!

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Eggs Benedict Casserole

  • cooking spray
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 green onions, chopped (optional, I omit these cause they’re not my jam!)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound Canadian bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 English muffins, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (.9 ounce) package hollandaise sauce mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup margarine

Directions

  1. Spray 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk eggs, 2 cups milk, green onions, onion powder, and salt together in a large bowl until well mixed.
  3. Layer half the Canadian bacon in the prepared baking dish. Spread English muffins over meat and top with remaining Canadian bacon. Pour egg mixture over casserole. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  5. Sprinkle casserole with paprika; cover with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until eggs are nearly set, about 30 minutes; remove foil. Continue baking until eggs are completely set, about 15 more minutes.
  7. Whisk hollandaise sauce mix with 1 cup milk in a saucepan. Add margarine and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Drizzle sauce over casserole to serve.
*photo & recipe credit to All Recipes

Extra yummies for the table:

  • Your favourite homemade hash browns, or frozen ones will do! My kids love the patties that look like A&W’s 🙂
  • fresh fruit
  • Mimosas
  • Coffee/Earl Grey tea w/Baileys

Most importantly, enjoy with those you hold near & dear! If you give these recipes a ‘go’ let me know! Tag @thesweetlifeapparel on Instagram with #Getthebakedgoods !!!

From our home to yours, wishing you the sweetest holiday season!

Xo The Sweet Life Jen

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Photo courtesy of Country Living

When life is sweet say ‘thank you’ and celebrate!

Hi sweet friends!!!! First and foremost, ‘thank you’ for being here! This little blog was always on the ‘to-do list’ and then, well, life got in the way! But the best way to get something done is to simply begin. Why not finish off an amazing year, with my first official blog post, a holiday recipe for you to enjoy & a GIVEAWAY!

This week we were fortunate to have Shannon Lee Blog come over and do a mini session with us, and what a perfect chance it was to get started on our holiday baking!

The heart of your home is the kitchen & baking with my mom was always one of my favourite activities (especially the part afterwards when I got to lick the bowl & taste test the finished product lol)! Growing up almost all of our meals were lovingly prepared by my Dad (he’s an amazing cook), or baked by my Mom. That’s right, my Dad did pretty much all of the cooking (what gender roles right?!)! And no matter what the crazy schedule was during the week, the 5 of us almost always sat down to eat together. I think that sharing family meals doesn’t just feed your family physically but feeds you emotionally and draws you closer, building a lifetime bond for your children and you, and for them together as siblings. I am so grateful to my parents for placing such an importance on this & to this day as 3 grown siblings, we still enjoy many meals together every week.

In my opinion, the family that breaks bread together, stays together! These photos from our mini session, capture what is so important to me, fun with food & enjoying it altogether as a family!

 

Harper and I made some eggnog sugar cookies, and I’m going to share the recipe for you here!

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Eggnog-y Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 cups flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp rum or vanilla extract

1 egg

2 tbsp Classic Eggnog

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheets with parchment
  • cream butter & sugar
  • in a separate bowl combine dry ingredients
  • add egg, eggnog, vanilla/rum extract to butter & sugar
  • gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, until the dough comes together
  • wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate until chilled (approx 1hr)
  • roll out onto a lightly floured surface to desired thickness & grab your favorite cookie cutters!
  • arrange on your parchment lined sheets, about 1-inch apart & bake for 7-9mins (will vary with oven & thickness of dough), look for golden edges of the cookies when done.
  • let cool, frost (optional)
  • these cookies freeze well & are good in an air tight container for up to a week

Frosting: you can use royal icing (gingerbread icing), cream cheese icing, buttercream icing, or store bought frosting!

My go-to royal icing recipe is from Sweetopia!

royal_icing_recipe_fulland lastly, ENJOY!!!

If you care to share your sweet pics of these ‘Eggnog-y Cookies’, be sure to tag @thesweetlifeapparel and use #Getthebakedgoods so I can see & share!

Here’s a few more from our photo session! A huge thank you to Shannon Lee for capturing this sweet little moment in time of my youngest and I, doing what we love, we will treasure these photos forever!

Now, I want to hear from YOU!!! What is your favourite holiday recipe? Or favourite memory of baking/cooking with your family? Leave a comment below & be entered to win a $25 shop credit to The Sweet Life , a $25 shop credit to A Little Love Creative, $25 shop credit to Tiana’s Party Boutique, AND a Mini Photo Session with Shannon Lee! Drawing a winner on Monday morning, so get typing & make sure you are following the above shops on Insta!!

Happy Holidays sweet friends!!!!

XO The Sweet Life Jen

Mama & mini ‘sweet’ tees from the shop, Harper’s hair bow {Arrow & Lace}, Harper’s apron {For the Love of}, Cookie cutters {Scoop’N’Save}, Holiday signs in the kitchen {A Little Love Creative}

(closes at midnight Sunday, Dec 17th) (shop credit cannot be combined with other promo codes, valid until Mar 1st, 2018. Photo session must be used by Dec 31, 2018, and a travel cost of $20 may be applied to sessions outside of Surrey/Langley/Abbotsford)