Tag Archives: hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate Festival

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Now here’s a bright idea: a festival devoted entirely to HOT CHOCOLATE!

This makes my kids all kinds of excited, and me, too! The 6th annual HOT CHOCOLATE Festival is happening right now in my city of Vancouver. There’s over two dozen bakeries, restaurants and cafΓ©s offering incredibly delectable takes on HOT CHOCOLATE, with interesting flavours like Vanilla Earl Grey (The Last Crumb), Honey Bun with chili honey (Terra Breads), and lots of non-dairy options, too, like Coconut Hot Chocolate paired with a small scoop of chocolate vegan ice cream (Ernest Ice Cream). Sweet!

So, how does a HOT CHOCOLATE festival work, you ask? Here’s the scoop: each participating business offers 2 or 3 signature HOT CHOCOLATE recipes on their menu paired with an accompanying topping or tiny sweet treat for patrons to come try during the festival dates of January 16-February 14. There are also specific flavours only offered on certain days during the festival at certain locations, so there’s lots of variety. The idea is brilliant, and it gets people out and about to new locations around the city, and the HOT CHOCOLATE festival is a fundraiser organized by Cityfood Magazine for the Downtown Eastside women’s job training program, so it’s a feel-good do-good event on all sides.

And I love that this festival is highlighting the fantastic imaginations of our city’s best creators of chocolate, and getting Vancouverites tasting some drinkable confections. The Vancouver HOT CHOCOLATE Festival is also very social, so go check out #hotchocolatefest on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to enter their HOT CHOCOLATE photo contest, for more ideas and for deliciously drool-worthy pics.

Now, if you can’t make it to the festival, let me make a suggestion…

Try your hand at creating some fun HOT CHOCOLATE concoctions of your own. There’s no rules at home! I’ve tried all sorts of flavour combinations with my kids starting with milk, hot water, soy or almond milk with cocoa, chocolate chips, hot chocolate mix or sometimes (a lot of times) just with Nutella (you don’t even need actual chocolate to make HOT CHOCOLATE, by the way). And you can add cinnamon, vanilla, orange rind, anything you like for a little flavour flourish. Whipped cream and sprinkles are always fun for kids, and I love Oh She Glow’s recipe for Coconut Whipped Cream.

Or make a plan on a chilly day to go compare flavours at several different cafe’s in your neighbourhood. Order one to share and taste test with homemade score cards for each location. Bring some crayons for colouring and for filling in the scorecards for best chocolatey taste, creamiest whipped cream, favourite sprinkles, yummiest marshmallows, deepest chocolate colour, etc. Have a discussion on what makes the best HOT CHOCOLATE and recreate it at home. Note: we like to schedule a family dance party or perhaps a balloon party to work off all that sugar afterwards!

The Vancouver HOT CHOCOLATE Festival is happening until Valentine’s Day, just in time for some creamy, dreamy, chocolatey love! Take your lovey, your littles, or just yourself for a well-deserved chocolatey quiet time. Click for a complete listing of the HOT CHOCOLATE Festival vendors & flavours.

And now it’s time for me to stop writing and start sipping. Are you hitting any of the HOT CHOCOLATE festival spots in Vancouver? Do you make your own HOT CHOCOLATE at home?

Here’s how to sign HOT CHOCOLATE with your kids…please be careful if you’re sipping and signing!

How to sign HOT in American Sign Language --www.growingsigns.com

To sign HOT in American Sign Language, start with an open claw-hand in front of your open mouth then bring hand down and swing it away from your body (like something that’s too HOT to touch)


How to sign CHOCOLATE in American Sign Language --www.growingsigns.com

To sign CHOCOLATE, hold one hand in a ‘C’ shape circling on top of your other flat hand:

Snow Day (indoors and out)

My in-laws live next to a lake about 10 minutes away from Whistler Blackcomb, host mountains to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Whistler, B.C. Their little cabin overlooks the lake with both mountains tucked in behind. It is gorgeous here year-round, but it’s especially snowy and beautiful in winter. Every year for New Year’s Eve we come up and stay with the grandparents and play in the SNOW!
Indoor snowball by Snowtime Anytime
(Disclaimer: lots of wintry words ahead, but if it’s not snowy where you are, I have a really delightful indoor solution for you and your littles at the end of this post.)
How to sign SNOW in American Sign Language --www.SigningBabies.ca
To sign SNOW in American Sign Language, hold your hands up in the air. Flutter your fingers as you move your hands down and side to side.

We don’t get much SNOW where we live in Vancouver, so the 90 minute drive up to Whistler always excites us as we watch the terrain slowly morph from shades of brown and green in the city into a frozen wonderland in all shades of white.

As soon as we arrived, I rushed outside while it was lightly snowing and took some photos so I could show you some snowy ASL signs!

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To sign COLD in American Sign Language, hold up both arms with closed fists, and shake them sideways like you’re shivering in the COLD.

Every SNOW day requires you make a SNOWMAN! Here’s our little guy ready to greet the trains passing by, not far from the cabin:
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Signing SNOWMAN is easy -just sign SNOW with your fluttery fingers (see sign above), then sign MAN:
How to sign MAN in American Sign Language --www.SigningBabies.ca
To sign SNOWMAN in American Sign Language, first sign SNOW, then MAN by tapping thumb once to your forehead and then bring thumb down to tap once on chest.

A good PLAY in the snow always tuckers out my kids, hallelujah!
How to sign PLAY in AMerican Sign Language --www.SigningBabies.ca
To sign PLAY in American Sign Language, twist both hands with pinkies and thumbs out (middle fingers stay tucked in).

Of course, a steaming cup of HOT CHOCOLATE is always in order after playing in the snow, right? It’s almost the best part, and always a fitting ending to all that snowy fun.

To sign HOT CHOCOLATE in American Sign Language, sign HOT by placing your open claw hand beside your mouth, then turn it away from your body (like it’s too hot to touch). Then sign CHOCOLATE by circling your ‘C’ hand on top of your other hand in a closed fist.
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*Okay, so here’s my find of the year, brought to me by my Very Inspiring Friend, who first found these incredible Indoor Snowballs online here.
6packsnowball
She then showed me they carried them at a local dollar store near her house and I promptly bought two dozen snowballs to tuck into everyone’s stockings for Christmas. We had a huge snowball fight right after opening our presents and it was completely hilarious. The kids didn’t get tired of chucking snowballs at each other but they did get just as tired as playing outside. The adults had the biggest child-like grins on their faces as they pelted each other, too. The snowballs are made of tightly bunched soft yarn so they aren’t likely to injure people or knock down things in your house. They’re incredibly realistic-looking and just plain fun to throw!

And that leaves me with one more word for you to sign with SNOW:
How to sign BALL in American Sign Language --www.SigningBabaies.ca
To sign BALL in American Sign Language, hold both open claw hands in front of you, like you are holding a BALL.

Are you having some fun this winter in the SNOW (inside or outside)?

Happy New Year!

-Lee Ann

2 Tickets to Ride

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After watching The Polar Express movie last Christmas, I put my carefully planned idea into place: to take our two kids on our very own middle of the night “train” ride.

Wow, was it ever fun to wake them up in their beds and hand them their own Polar Express tickets!

I initially got the idea to make our own Polar Express ride last year from a mom-friend who joked about how she & her husband would pile their kids into their Polar Express (aka family minivan) to go look at decorated houses and Christmas lights at night. That was a tradition we had, too (there’s some great neighbourhoods in town whose houses dazzle us with their light displays and festive, glowing yards each year) and our kids always love to go touring to see them. So last year I put her homemade train idea & our light tour tradition together!

After watching the movie after an early dinner, we went to bed as usual. I tried to time it so they would be asleep slightly earlier than usual. About 45 minutes after they were solidly asleep, the plan was put in place. I made hot chocolate for all of four us and put it in a thermos with our traveling mugs, which I put in the car. I played the movie’s train-approaching music and had the 2 tickets I had made earlier with my colour printer ready.
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Then I started calling, “ALL ABOARD!” outside their bedrooms to wake them up.

They woke up so incredibly confused! I handed each of them their ticket and ushered them downstairs to put on their boots and coats over their pajamas. I announced that the Steyns family Polar Express was outside waiting, and we were off to look at holiday lights and have hot chocolate. The grins on their faces were wider than ear to ear. Once the confusion wore off, they were super excited to be heading off on a family adventure in the dark!

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Being a parent at Christmastime allows me to experience the wonder-filled days leading up to Christmas, singing songs, reading books together and watching movies through my kids’ eyes. This year both my 7 year old & 11 year old hear the bell and believe in Santa, and I’m really savouring every Christmas moment we can celebrate the magic. I’m sure you can recall your own family’s little traditions and unique holiday memories. Have you ever turned a favourite movie into real life?

Merry Christmas, I am off to watch the Polar Express tonight!
Lee Ann