Ode to coffee

Ode to coffee

For Christmas this year I got a combination of presents that are my most favourite ever I think.

It is a new espresso machine and a bean grinder! I use this multiple times a day to make delicious coffee.

I made this video the other day and my brother in law suggested I added a little Ode to Joy to it, which seemed fitting.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Christmas Eve! All the gift preparations are ready. The house is all decorated. Today involves picking up some last minute supplies, Christmas Eve church services, and prepping some of the mountains of food we’re going to consume over the next few days.

Caile and I are making some pie crusts so they’ll be ready for the pumpkin pies tomorrow night. Jen is making her chestnut treats. Delicious sweet peanut butter balls dipped in melted chocolate to closely resemble chestnuts.

For years I didn’t like peanut butter and wouldn’t eat anything where I could taste it. Much to Jen’s disappointment a few years ago I changed my mind. It started with some cookies that only had a small bit of peanut butter in them and then expanded from there. Now Jen has to share these chestnut treats with me too!

Right before we started I thought I’d set the Christmas atmosphere a bit and put on the fireplace channel on TV. Noah came out with me as I was putting it on and asked what I was going to watch, that he wanted to watch with me. Without saying a word I put it in and watched for a few minutes as the fire started to catch and crackle.

Noah asked if this was all it was. I told him it looked and sounded nice nice while also helping warm the room. I then proceeded to walk up and start warming my hands in front of the fire. Noah looked surprised and confused but came up with me trying it out. He asked does really get warm? How does it? Without missing a beat Jen came in from the other room and started warming her hands as well.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until Jen screamed and jumped back a bit saying she got too close to the flames before Noah really 100% knew we were messing with him.

Fundraising Advent Calendar

This year my daughter Caile inspired me. Throughout the year at her middle school they do exploratory’s. You have a choice of fun extracurricular activities to choose from. Some of them are crafts, art related, sports, all things things above an beyond the normal school day work. They last for a few weeks at a time and you get to choose from a number of options which are being offered. In November she started a new one called Tree of Hope. It was a fundraising option to help raise funds for a couple of local non-profits.

One of the organizations was The Chrysalis House Association. They are a local women and children’s shelter and outreach provider. A more full description can be found on their website.

Chrysalis House is a non-profit grassroots organization that provides shelter, support, counseling, advocacy, and outreach for abused women and their children. Services are available for women who have been psychologically, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused. We work with individuals, organizations and businesses in our community to end violence against women. Chrysalis House is located in Kentville, Nova Scotia. We serve the communities of Kings, Annapolis, and Hants County. Public education and community development are also important elements of our Association.

They provide these services 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The work they do is incredibly hard and important. It is also near to my heart. Had it not been for welcoming friends who were willing and able to help us out, our family would have been seeking services from an organization like The Chrysalis House.

Last year I donated to a fun online campaign and the idea was one I knew I could do. After contacting the person who ran the one I had seen and getting some tips I went to work. The idea was an online advent calendar. Each day, from December 1st to December 24th, you reveal a prize which has been donated by a local business. Then by promoting on social media get people to donate. For every $5 they donate they receive an entry to win all 24 prizes at the end.

The idea started pretty late but thanks to WordPress, and it being open source, I was able to quickly get a site up an running to organize and run the fundraiser from. From WordPress.org I found the Hemingway theme to use and with the help of a few plugins and customization I was all set. Of course I installed Akismet and Jetpack which go on about every WordPress site I create, the other main one I used was The Event Calendar. It was probably overkill for what I needed, but it is so well documented I was pretty easily able to customize it up to do what I needed. Instead of displaying events I wanted to display a single post I publish, from a specific category, for each day of the fundraiser. This is truly the beauty of open source. I had access to the source code, could see how it worked, and was able to change things up to meet my needs. Most of the changes came by creating a custom month view for the calendar. If you want to check out the code you can see it here.

With the site ready I contacted a bunch of local businesses explaining the idea and showing them the site which was setup. One of the lessons I learned if I am to do this again is to not wait to so late to approach businesses. Things went really well and I had quite a few businesses commit to donating a prize so I started the campaign and started promoting it on Twitter and Facebook. It was pretty stressful though as when it first started I still didn’t have enough prizes for all the days. About a week in I reached out to some friends who have good connections to businesses and they were able to put me in touch with more people to get the final donations needed. It was stressful for a while thinking I may have to go out and buy some gift cards myself for some of the days. But our local community once again came through and we had over $1000 worth of prizes donated.

On Christmas Eve I closed donations. I had set a goal for $1000 to be raised and we came in at $1070! Once things were closed and I gathered up all the names I was able to go to the Chrysalis House and with their Executive Director and other staff members we choose our winner and sent them off an email notification. After fees from GoFundMe, who I used to take payments, we were left with $973.56. To make things a nice round number I wrote a cheque while there for $1000 even as a donation to the association. It was an awesome feeling and I felt very humble to have our local area help me run with this idea.

Shortly after I arrived home the winner contacted me back and I was able to go and deliver all 24 prizes to her. That was also a very rewarding part. Even though all the prizes and money were donated by others I had the privilege of feeling like Santa by delivering the money and prizes. What a whirlwind of a Christmas Eve! It made up for some of the stress involved not wondering if it would all come together in the end.

Though it is all over if you want to see the site and the list of prizes you can still see the site at https://calendar.ourvalley.ca

Day 10 Christmas Note

Ella had another note for me today! I get a kick out of these. The kids aren’t that messy really, but if they do clean up after themselves a little bit more it wouldn’t hurt my feelings that’s for sure.

Dad Thanks for helping us clean up when I clean with you I love doing it and thank you for helping me trick mom.

I love giving her pranks I know it’s not nice but I love doing it. I know me, Caile and Noah are pigs and I’m sorry for that but thank you for helping mom to clean it up I’ll try and remember to clean my messes up next time (remember the next two days are for you and mom so you and mom can open it together)

Day 10 Christmas Note

Day 8 Christmas Note

For my day 8 note I have been given some circles I can check off to claim free things! I’m looking forward to some cuddle time, but I’m pretty sure I could have gotten this stuff without checking boxes 😀

Dad. Your so amazing I’m gonna give you free stuff put a ✓ in the circle if you use it.

Free Hug ⭕️ ← put ✓  here
Free Cuddle time 30 min ⭕️
Free cuddle time 1:00 hour ⭕️

you can split up the cuddle tiem for 2 30m instead of an hour. but anyway I hope you know how much I love you. I don’t know what I would do without you Your wonderful amazing FABOULOS! love you

From: Ella

photo-2016-12-21-7-00-32-pm

Very Modest

Ella and I went out on a Christmas shopping date today. When we were sitting having a treat I tried sneaking a picture of her. She asked if I just took a picture of her but I jokingly denied it. She came and looked at my phone and I showed her the pictures I took. She gave me a bit of an irritate look so I explained I just couldn’t help it she’s so cute. Her response:

Well you got that part right!

Day 4 Christmas Note

Day 4 Christmas Note

It was my day to take a note from the 12 days calendar Ella brought home from school. Reading these are making me feel pretty good, but also giving me some things to think about. From this note I think I need to do a better job showing that I enjoy spending time with them no matter where we are or go.

Yeah McDonald’s might not be my choice of a restaurant to go to, but we eat out so little that if they want to go there I’m OK with it.

Dad. Thank you for fixing everything thats broken in the house (for example the TV) and thank your for taking us out I love spending time with you and I also love that when we get in the car to go home after school you ask us whats the best part about our day. I love being able to tell you what was wonderfull, silly and sad about my day.

Thank you for everything that you do cause I know some places that you take us you don’t do and you take us there because of us you wouldn’t be there if you went somewhere with me, Caile or Noah. So I think you for taking us to those places even if you don’t enjoy them or get to play where ever we are. So I’m thanking you as much as I can.

Day 4 Note

Christmas Notes

Christmas Notes

Yesterday our youngest daughter Ella came home from school with a twelve days of Christmas calendar. Each day has a note in it whose recipient alternates between Jen and I. Yesterday was Day 1 and had a note for Jen. Today was a note for me. Jen warned me hers made her cry so I was at least a bit prepared.

My family is pretty sweet and I’m very lucky to have them. Here’s a transcription of the note she gave me today, just as it was hand written. ❤️

Dad I wanted to tell you how glad I am that your my dad. I don’t know what I would do without you. I’m so thankfull that I get this time to tell you that your the best dad I could ever have your the best dad in the world.

I don’t know if I ever told you how much I miss you when you leave for work and I hope you know that how ever long you leave for we’ll always be glad that your coming home. If I could wish for something it would be to have more wish’s but one of my wish’s would be for everyone to have the same sense of humor as you. I love when you tease me and I want you to know that how ever far away you are when you go for work I’ll always love you the same amount.

Thank you for always being there for me. I love you so much dad xoxo

Day 2 Note

Friends Christmas Party

Friends Christmas Party

Last night we had our annual friends gift exchange party. We have an awesome group of close friends and there are a lot of kids in the mix. We decided a number of years back we’d draw names so each kid bought one small gift for one of the other kids.

The best part of this though isn’t the gifts it’s the time we get together with each other to celebrate, eat to much food and treats, and watch the kids open all the gifts.

Ella received the game Pie in the Face Showdown so her and Noah tested it out today. She was pretty thrilled getting to pie her brother!

 

 

Christmas Decorating

We went hunting for Christmas tree this morning and found a really great one. We tried a new tree farm this year and had a wonderful experience. Stomping through the trees with family and friends, watching a rabbit hop past us looking for cover.There were many to choose from but we finally found just the right one.

Once we had the tree the kids all had some hot chocolate and a home made cookie. If you’re from the Annapolis Valley I would certainly recommend checking out Shepherd Family Christmas Trees.

This afternoon Jen rushed around getting the house lit up, then this evening getting the lights and sinamay on the tree. One of my favourite things to sit and take in the glowing light and smell of spruce filling the room.