Five Favorites for February

What our family did during February

Things To Do at Home with a stay-at-home family life theme. 

five favorites to february

February and all the fun it can bring.

Five Favorites for February Starts with National Pizza Day. 

Kid Pleasing Pizza

Counting down for five favorites for February is National Pizza Day for #5. On February 9th you and your loved ones can have a great reason to enjoy a slice of the good stuff. It was first celebrated in the year 2000. Fun Fact Kyle and I used to work together in a pizza shop before we were even dating. We eventually got together and pizza has had a special place in our relationship ever since. We love pretty simple toppings due to younger taste buds – I am assuming. But this was a fun article I read about the “Most Hated Pizza Toppings“. In contrast, I counted and I love 11 from the list. 

five favourites for february

Show Some Love For Pizza Day

Indoor Activities For Toddlers – During A Polar Vortex 

Ker-plunk! Number #4 finds us still on lock down, homeschooling and add in a polar vortex for fun. Five favorites for February would not be complete with out a toilet paper craft to keep little ones happy. This was a quick and easy at home activity with a cute Valentines Day theme for the month of love. It was  a good way to incorporate some fine motor skill building and laughter into our very long “Ground Hog Day” month. We used red colored pom-poms, acrylic paint and toilet paper rolls with some tape to get them stuck to the walls. 

Pom Pom “Marble Run”

Sweetie Pie Valentines Day Biscuit’s 

Coffee and Breakfast Flatlay

#3 for five favorites for February finds us with heart shaped biscuits. Unquestioningly you get bonus points if you use canned biscuit dough. Valentines is such a fun holiday to celebrate. And getting kids in the kitchen is such a bonus. These biscuits came together really quickly and were so tasty. If you do not use canned dough, We have an easy recipe made with simple kitchen staples. In addition it is also is very versatile. I make this dough and use it as a topper for shepherds pie, for pizza dough, or just enjoy as a side of biscuit’s. Additionally I also use it for a base to make a yummy “Bubble Pizza“.

Heart Shaped Biscuit/Pizza Dough Recipe

This is an easy to come together recipe. 

Dry Ingredients

4 cups of Flour

1 tsp of Salt 

8 tsp of Baking Powder

1 tsp Cream of tarter

Wet Ingredients

1 cup Butter or margarine – Cold

2 cups Cold milk 

Valentine's Day Baking

Baking Something Special

Method – Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut in cold butter or margarine until nice and crumbly. Pour in milk and combine all together. You may need a little more or less depending. Flour your surface and roll out. For the most part I like to keep my biscuits (2 cm) thick, ( more or less depending on what you are baking here). Cut with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. For the heart shaped pizzas I just used a knife and made them about the size of a personal pan pizza. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 425 oven for 12-18 mins. However I say 18 because we are in a higher mountain altitude – and that can effect baking times.

Pink And Red Oobleck

A Few Simple Ingredients

Oobleck, Yes you read that right! Basically is a fun word for a mess. Its kind of a mix between slime or playdough. It can be messy, so give yourself lots of space. I am very intentional with the pockets we play like this indoors. I make sure the area we are in is clean before hand and I have a good space of time to allow free play. And extra time after for clean up. Saying all of thee above Oobleck is very amazing and interesting. In addition to a fun sensory and science experience. Its also fabulous for anxiety. I had a follower on Instagram actually reach out to me and mention that they make this for themselves. On the whole I think this was a fun and I could see relaxing experience. 

Make Your Own Valentines Day Oobleck

Oobleck – Sounds like a bunch of fun. Its actually inspired by a Dr. Seuss book. To make this, you will need a few simple ingredients to celebrate along with our five favorites for February. Oobleck coming in at #2. I made it two because its “Too much fun’. To make. Assemble a large bin. First and foremost you will need 1 cup of corn starch coupled with 1/2 a cup of water. Slowly mix together, Additionally while you are mixing here you can add some food coloring. As you can see the kids all had a great time watching the goo go from a solid to a liquid. It even felt “rock hard” at some points. Even though we made ours Valentines day themed you can assuredly make it any color you want.  

Slime

A Solid? A Liquid?

Valentines Food Board

Be Kind

Five Favorites for February celebrates #1 with an epic and easy to assemble food board. Just popping on to Pinterest will give you some excellent examples of what these boards have the potential to look like. Click “Here” if you are interested in some inspo. I think the best way to approach these boards is to keep it super simple. Pick out a main theme treat like cookies or cupcakes then some goodies to to sprinkle around the main treat. You can add in decorative bowls or cups. I picked up a lot of festive themed treats from our local Wal-mart and got creative. Its minimal effort with a big WOW factor! 

Heart, Candy, Love

These Are A Sneak Worthy Treat!

Candy board. Candy Grazing Board

Grazing Boards Come Together Quick

Bonus Favorite! Valentines Day Freak Shakes!!!!

Pink Milkshake

Have You Ever Heard Of A “Freak Shake?”

Unquestionably those were all fun five favorites for February. For all those reasons we had to throw in this bonus treat! This one was undoubtedly a fun experience to create while we are at home.

Final Thoughts

Candy. Pink and RedI hope you enjoyed seeing what we were up to in the month of February. Five favorites for February made the long drawn winter month seem to fly by at times. Planning little events or things to do has always been a lot of fun for me. And being a homeschooling family. I love integrating the holidays into our school life. It defiantly keeps things happy and fun around here. 

 

 

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Winter Activities – Logan Lake

There are many winter outdoor activities in Logan Lake, BC. Snowshoeing, ice-fishing, ice skating, walking or hiking; the only thing to stop you is time!

Love Logan Lake!

Having a Budget Working For You

Winter Activities – Logan Lake – As a financial consultant serving Logan Lake, Merritt , Ashcroft and Cache Creek, I’ve learned to reduce expenses when I can. Remember, income minus expenses equals discretionary income! As a father of 7 children, it’s a skill I’ve put into practice many times. Which brings me to this thought, “how can I share my knowledge in ways everyone can participate?” Not that we never spend money, but we choose when to spend. I look at a budget not as a slave master, but as giving permission to ourselves to allocate funds and spend them guilt free. 

Even dragged this one out to come and play!

There is No Better Time to Enjoy Our Great Outdoors

Winter has brought some much needed rest to the Schell family. We spent our time together resting and playing as a family. We really tried to fill our time with naps, laughing which each other and enjoying some winter outdoor activities here in Logan Lake, BC. As I write this edition, we are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Jennifer and I have really been striving in this time to keep our family healthy to ensure our immune systems are in tip-top shape. However, a walk outside has been a great stress relief at times and a way to work on our mental health as well!

Find a Challenge to Get Through The Winter With Healthy Habits

This winter I’ve been working through a challenge called 75Hard. It’s a 75 day challenge to build or reinforce healthy mental and physical behaviors. I’ve used it to maintain healthy positive habits in the darkest and coldest days of winter. To impact my family the least, I’ve tried to get my first workout done before my wife and kids get up for their day. One of the pieces to 75Hard is a 45 minute outdoor workout, everyday. This has given me the challenge to find winter outdoor activities in Logan Lake to fill this need. 

Skating on the Lake!

Out for an icy winter walk!

Healthy Outdoor Activities for Children

Some mornings, as I lace up my boots I look up to see young faces eager to join me on my morning treks. How can you say no to that!? With temperatures reaching as low as -30′ Celsius over the past few weeks, staying warm is important. After spending 45 minutes outside with me, I’ve needed help getting warm again. Luckily, Jennifer helps them warm up with recipes like her festive white hot chocolate that she has made before. 

No Need To Spend a Fortune, Focus on Fun, Cheap or Free

We have focused on what we can do as a family that is fun and cheap or fun and free! There are many winter outdoor activities in Logan Lake, BC. Snowshoeing, ice-fishing, ice skating, walking or hiking; the only thing to stop you is time! Just inside the city limits are many snowshoeing and cross country trails as well, of which I have yet to adventure on.

Ensure You Stay Safe While Enjoying Outdoor Activities

We as a family have enjoyed the hiking trails around Logan Lake, even the lake itself. However, this is not something I would advise alone at night but as a group during the day. The trails can be dark, and at times, quite slippery. There has even been a cougar around town for the winter. So many deer have decided to call Logan Lake their home, which seems to have brought some predators into town. 

These guys are quick learners on the skates!

Don’t Spend A Fortune, Focus on What You Already Own

We have been focusing on ice-skating on Logan Lake as ice skates were something our family already had. The initial investment of buying skates was already complete. Simply ensuring the crew had fresh tape on the hockey sticks was all that was needed. I also purchased arctic hiking boots from Cabelas in Abbotsford. I was growing tired of trekking around in big winter boots, I would recommend these for sure!

Not All Adventures Start in Logan Lake! What To Do If You’re in Merritt, BC

Sometimes I find myself in Merritt, BC with time to kill and I’m looking for things to do. If you are stuck for ideas, give my friend Tania’s blog a read for Winter Activities in Merritt, BC! It’s nice to have a community of friends in this time to share ideas and laughs with!

Catching a Logan Lake Winter Sunrise

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Outdoor Winter Activities

Adventures for the Family in the Nicola Valley

Winter activities enjoyed by all 

We in the Nicola Valley enjoy our outdoor winter activities despite the dark colder days of winter. Albeit, Canadian winter’s can be long and enduring. Although with a bit of incentive everyone can enjoy a winter day like no other.  Beating the winter blues with outdoor winter activities in the Nicola Valley.

Winter Outdoor Activities

Nicola Valley. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Winter Activities Like Footprint Tag

Play tag as you normally would…but stepping only in others’ footprints. It should be noted to not have Bigfoot play with you. A slight size advantage there right? As a night time game, we would suggest using glow sticks or flashlights so it makes it even more challenging and interesting. 

Foot print tag. Photo courtesy of Sheldon Quewezance.

Night time tag or hide n seek! Photo by Tania Stewart.

Golfing in the Winter Snow 

Snow golf anyone? Take some time to smooth out a fairway and a green. Take an open can and plant it in the snow. This becomes the whole in one shot! Make sure to color your golf balls and tee’s. Truly easier to find in the snow. Indeed this is how we do golfing during Canadian Winters.

Winter Bocce Ball 

Bocce ball Covid style. Say what! How cool is this to play in the snow.  Bocce ball sets can be found at local Canadian Tire. Truly a ton of laughter will be heard.  

merrittBC

Bocce Ball.

Outdoor Curling Rink?

Due to Covid19 many avid curlers are without a rink to go to. Build a rink in your own back yard or on a lake. Come together as a family and throw some rocks. Good time safe bubble sport with social distancing. 

outdoorwinteractivities.

Outdoor curling rink. Photo courtesy of Pixel.

Other Winter Outdoor Activities

Go on a winter photo scavenger hunt.  This is how you start. Take a picture of an outside recognizable feature. Within the agreed radius. Each participant sends picture to all participants and the hunt is on to locate feature. Clearly it could be a tree or a street name, or even a snowman down the road. Importantly it is an outdoor adventure that is full of fun. Furthermore this winter outdoor activity could include you community. Social distancing while connecting and having fun. Winner’s photo will be shared on social media. 

Winter Outdoor Activities.

Scavenger Hunt. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Merrittwinteractivities.

Winter Games. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Winter Activities for the Whole Family in the Nicola Valley.

Build a snowman or snow fort. How about a snowball fun fight? Round up your neighbors and have a friendly winter competition. Divide and conquer. Snowball fight bring it on! Follow up the fun with a creamy hot chocolate and a backyard winter BBQ.  

 

Feeling Artistic?

Host a snow sculpture competition within your neighborhood. Firstly find some  judges. Snowmen consist of three large snowballs of different sizes with some additional goodies for facial and other features. Common accessories include branches for arms and a rudimentary smiley face, with a carrot used for a nose. Clothing, such as a hat or scarf, may also be included for all!​

Winter Beauty is ours to enjoy! Photo from Tania Stewart.

More Outdoor Winter Activities

Ice fishing is considered one of the most recognized  Canadian winter activities. While some fishermen prefer to stay out in the open, most prefer a shelter.  Equally some people like to go big with luxury fish shacks that have heaters, stoves, beds and even T.V’s. My idea of ice fishing! Experience ice fishing in the Nicola Valley.

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Nicola Valley.

merritt ice fishing

Enjoy the solitude ice fishing in the Nicola Valley. Photo by Greg Girard.

There are numerous small lakes that are pure gems for ice fishing enthusiasts. Connect with the great outdoors and spend quality time with friends and family while on your Nicola Valley Ice Fishing Adventure. Safety first when you head out on the ice.

Ice skating and Pond Hockey.

Ice skating is truly a Canadian winter activity. Whether being a backyard rink or a frozen pond. Many Canadians can proudly say they spent many a winter days learning to skate and play on outdoor rinks. Apart from the usual sport, how about elevating it. Alternatively adding “Bowling” into pond skating. Set up some pin’s and bowl with skates on. Keep score and have a bawl with this. 

Merritt Cross Country Skiing 

Truly  cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to enjoy a crisp winter day. The Nicola Valley offer’s superb trails. Cross country skiing in the Nicola Valley starts and ends on the Kane Valley xc ski trails. With over  50 kilometers of groomed trails ideal for wilderness Nordic skiing. Consequently, the trails are well marked with signage, decorated with shelters (warming huts) and there are washrooms on site too.

merritt cross country skiing - kane valley

Cross country skiing on the Kane Valley Trails. Photo by Greg Girard

“First of all remember these 2 words – Kane Valley. That is all you have to do to get your next xc ski fix in the Nicola Valley.” Greg Girard.

Additionally, there is also sledding, snow tubing, snowshoeing, fat biking and winter hiking, as well as, stargazing. Merritt BC offers some of the best stargazing without big city light pollution. Truly ideal to stargaze. Each year the Merritt Astronomical Society hosts a large and roomy Star Party.  

Perfect Stargazing outside Merritt BC.

Snowshoeing 

Snowshoeing is the new winter hiking. Utilizing and exploring the same summer trails. Equally provides a winter perspective to the scenery. Lastly, snowshoeing trails are available in the Kane Valley region of the Nicola Valley. Plan a day picnic while  snowshoeing within Merritt’s beautiful backcountry. 

merritt snowshoeing

What a great day to go winter snowshoeing in Merritt. Photo by Pixel Bay

While there is always “Skijoring”

Skijoring,  is a winter sport that originates in Scandinavia, where it has been practiced for centuries. Laplander’s skied on Nordic skis holding the reins attached to reindeer. Subsequently by the mid 1950’s, skijoring found its way to North America. This time ranchers would attach a long rope to the saddle horn while being pulled on ski’s down a straight-away. Important to note the rider determines the pace and route for the skijoring adventure, while the skier attempts to hold on. Extreme maybe? Fun is what I  would say!

Horse Skiing. Photo “YouTube”

 
In Conclusion it is “Fun”

Despite the dark colder days. Nerveless we can all enjoy outdoor winter activities, especially when living in the Nicola Valley. Albeit Canadian winter’s can be long and enduring. Although with a bit of incentive everyone can enjoy a winter day like no other. Who is to say we can not enjoy summer activities during winter months. Playing summer games during the winter months can be hilarious as well as a lot of fun.  Ideally the point is to get outside with family and friends and have a lot of fun with a barrel full of laughs. And if feeling really brave try out Big Foot tracking. Enjoy all activities outdoors during our winter months in the Nicola Valley.

Winter Outdoor Activities.

Big Foot Tracking in the Nicola Valley. Photo Tania Stewart.

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“Santa Claus” and Christmas in Merritt BC

A Nicola Valley Christmas with Santa from the North Pole

“Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through Merritt …”

Christmas in Merritt BC Canada is coming up and Santa Claus is busy looking over his naughty & nice list in preparation for the big night. It has truly proven to be a very difficult year for keeping off the Naughty List too. Therefore Santa is checking it twice to find out who has been naughty or nice. In doing so, Santa was very pleased with the children of the Nicola Valley, as well as, the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers in their efforts of bringing good cheer into the homes of Merrittonians throughout the year.  

Christmas in Merritt BC

Santa checking the Naughty and Nice List twice from Santa’s Village in the North Pole

Mrs. Claus started Christmas in Merritt BC 

Christmas in Merritt BC started with Mrs. Claus accompanied by some poking and prodding from the Elves. One night talking with Santa, Mrs Claus was sharing some of the things she was reading about in the letters from Nicola Valley children. Meanwhile, the snickering Elves nearby hanging the Reindeer stockings were encouraging Mrs. Claus to take a Nicola Valley vacation. So she looked it up on ExperienceMerritt.com to learn more. She was hooked. 

Mrs. Claus Pays It Forward 

Mrs. Claus wanted to get a positive feel for Christmas in Merritt BC Canada. So she visited  the “Walk of Stars”, the Downtown Shops and some of the children, who are now adults, operating small businesses in Merritt during Covid 19. On her list was Blacks’ Pharmacy, Miss Vicki’s Petal and Plants, Planet Hair and Spa, Community Futures Nicola Valley and the City of Merritt Mayor, Linda Brown. 

Christmas in Merritt BC Must Go On

The Elves, the reindeer, Santa and Mrs. Claus all realize first hand how the children miss meeting with Santa Claus due to Covid19. Because of the pandemic Santa could not do his annual rounds visiting all the children throughout the world. Santa decided, based on the feedback from Mrs. Claus’ visit to the Nicola Valley, that Christmas in Merritt BC must go on!

christmas in merritt

Santa and Mrs. Claus discussing Christmas in Merritt BC

Interview with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Santa and Mrs. Claus agreed to provide Experience Nicola Valley a 1/2 hour interview on our community talk show called Nicola Valley Talk. Lucky me! I, Tania Stewart, was the host of that episode on Nicola Valley Talk which had Santa and Mrs. Claus as a special guest! They shared so many things during our interview about Santa’s Village, the North Pole, the reindeer, the mischievous Elves and Xmas Eve. Watch the interview below. 

Letters from Nicola Valley Children

After much consideration Mrs. Claus and Santa, along with their 90 thousand elves, decided to grant the Nicola Valley Talk Show an additional episode so they could answer the letters from Nicola Valley children live online. In addition, they would invite a few children online to talk and chat with Santa on a video call live from the North Pole in Northern Canada. We received letters and some video submissions too, making for great stories and answers.

We all know that  Mrs.. Claus runs the show in the North Pole. Without her,  Santa would truly be lost. Of course Mrs. Claus did all her research on the ExperienceNicolaValley.com and ExperienceMerritt.com websites! Notably she searched Merritt BC  Things To Do on Google and the Experience Nicola Valley and Experience Merritt websites came up 3 times on the first page! 

“They must be the community experts Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers. And I was right!” Mrs. Claus.

Meanwhile back at the North Pole 

Then there are the Elves who are dedicated and work tirelessly to make sure Christmas is special. In our discussions, we met the two head Elves, Alex and Daniel.  These two had it all together. Therefore they were in charge of feeding the Reindeer, building toys, and assisting Mrs. Claus with the banking so to provide Santa with his cookies.  

christmas in merritt bc elves

The Head Elves, Alex and Daniel, helping out at the North Pole.

“In the light of  all the work that Santa’s Elves do throughout the year. They are just so jolly and full of spunk.” Melvina White

To point out these are the 5 most asked questions from children as well as adult’s to Santa Claus. 

  1.  -“Do you remember when Santa and you got me a XXXXX when I was 6?”
  2. – “Is Xmas cancelled because of COVID?”
  3. – “Can the reindeer really fly?”
  4. – “How does Santa get down the chimney?”
  5. – “Are there really such things as Elves?”

Santa in 2021

We sure do hope to have Santa back next year on the show to answer and chat live with Nicola Valley children. 

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Fall Photos In Logan Lake BC

Autumn Photos are best in Logan Lake BC

Family time in the outdoors during the “Changing of the Colours” 

Photos in Logan Lake during the autumn season is a must for any local and visiting family. If you are looking for a rugged and woodsy backdrop for your fall family photos then come and visit my small town in the back country of British Columbia, Canada. Logan Lake BC is a lovely location for creating family memories with its vast greenery and scenery.  

Family Fall Photos

Family – A Little World Created By Love

Logan Lake BC The Place To Be For Beautiful Scenery

Logan Lake Abounds With Beautiful Scenery

Taking Photos in Logan Lake BC 

Fall Photos in Logan Lake BC are amazing! Whether your planning on booking a professional family photographer or feeling spontaneous. Fall photos in Logan Lake BC will be special memories that you will treasure for years to come. We have no guarantee on tomorrow’s health, wealth and/or happiness.

Family is Priority

Choosing to show up as is has always been crucial for me. This is us, this is us now. Living and loving in the moment. Lastly taking the time to celebrate life and how far you have come is always in my forethoughts in why I am motivated to make family photos a priority. 

Maggs Park Logan Lake B.C.

Collect Beautiful Moments

Professional or A Spontaneous DIY

Logan Lake British Columbia

Every Picture Tells A Story

If you are feeling a little unsure with your camera or have a ton of little people for creating photo moments, I am sure you will never regret hiring a professional photographer. Be sure to do your research and build a repour. Logan Lake has a nice selection of photographers if you are looking to book one in our location. However, sometimes your feeling creative or your out on a walk and the sun and the leaves are cooperating. This is when I like to take advantage of that beautiful spontaneous moment and capture it. Self timers and a tripod can be so handy and can produce happy memories that bring smiles to your faces for years to come. 

Photography in British Columbia

The Best Things In Life Aren’t Things

 

Canadian Family

Today’s Little Moments, Become Tomorrow’s Precious Memory’s

 

Logan Lake Photography

This Is My Happy Place

How Do You Get Them All To Look?

However, it is important to remember to do your best and have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I feel like I always have to remind myself of that fact also. Just remember that you are capturing moments of happiness. Its ok if someone’s maybe looking off into the distance, or having a giant belly laugh. You’ll want those pictures maybe more so as you age.

My Secrets to Fall Photos in Logan Lake

One trick I have learned, at least, when taking photos of my kids, is sometimes I will just hit record with my iPhone and film them posing. Assuredly just talking to them, ask them to smile or say a joke will most likely get me the results I’m looking for. Usually in that split second of me saying smile they all do. Then I go to the video and drag my finger along over the pause button. If I find a good “pause” with all of the kids looking and smiling. I will then tap the photo to take off the boarders, and just screen shot it. Ta-Da! Easy photo!

Photo Editing & Memory Keeping

Family Photos In Logan Lake British Columbia

And Together They Built A Life That They Loved

With out a doubt I always use Costco for all my photo developing needs. Weather its getting a birth announcement together, making photo books, or just developing photos. Don’t be surprised if you see some of these photos on our Christmas card this year. Assuredly  making photobooks to gift to the family at Christmas has been a lovely tradition to hold onto. In addition I always tweak my photos with an photo editing app. I love using the Lightroom App on my Android. Just because I enjoy the stock presets that they have and the fact that I can create and save all my own presents for free. Photo editing is a great way to add more light, play with shadows, make colors more vivid. 

Canadas Cutest Baby

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

 

Family Photos In Canada

You’ll Outgrown My Lap, But Never My Heart

In Closing 

Logan Lake is a lovely town. It is my home town filled with some breathtaking locations for some amazing photos. Many of our parks have lake and some include Maggs Park and Tunkwa Lake Provincial Park.

I hope you’ll consider stopping by and making some fun memories and taking some pictures. I’m so thankful you took the time to stop and read my blog, My name is Jennifer, a mother of 7 little ones, homeschooling and living in Logan Lake B.C. with my husband Kyle. Together we blog with the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers

 

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School Snack Ideas and Recipes

My Best 5 School Snack Ideas!  

Being a mama of 7,  our house runs on snacks. I  hope you enjoy my 5 back to school snack ideas! Nutritious and delicious. 

 So this week I decided to share with you our school snack ideas! Consequently it is back to school season. Therefore it is a great time to share school snack ideas that my family comes back to again and again. I think these snacking suggestions would be great for anyone, home schooled or public schooled. Assuredly these are some great options if you are hungry and need something to tie you over until your next meal.

Plant Based School Snack Ideas

I love using plant based treats for snack time. These snacks come loaded with healthy grains,  nuts and seeds. Add  in healthy fats like coconut oil or delicious nut butters and you have a sticky and satisfying snack time. In conclusion I feel these plant based snacks have all  the makings for the perfect school snack. 

school snack ideas in Merritt

School Snack Idea #1 Chocolate Hummus

Hummus is a great one to lead with for school snack ideas. A different spin on a good classic staple. Hummus is great any time of the year. I love keeping a batch fresh and ready to spread on tortillas or rice cakes. That is where chocolate hummus comes into play. Decadent and dark, enjoyed with fresh fruit or pretzels this is a crowd pleaser. In addition to dates being a sneaky health building sidekick, binder and tasty thickener – they are high in fiber and may promote brain health. Which makes them a easy go-to for an after school snack.

Hummus

Unexpectedly Yummy

Chocolate Hummus Recipe

1 Can Chick Peas ( microwave for 3 mins to cook) 

6 Dates (more or less – depending on how much sweetness you are looking for)

1/2  Cup Cocoa Powder 

1/4 Cup Honey or Maple Syrup

Pinch of Sea Salt 

1/4 Cup Tahini Paste ( If you do not have any of this on hand, you could always use peanut butter or maybe almond butter)

Blend in your food processor  taste and enjoy! I recommend trying this a few times before you say you love it or hate it. It does have a “beany” taste some may pick up on. But I would say, don’t give up on it if they first batch is a bust. In conclusion I know my kids love this now. But did take some effort to warm up to the idea. I am ecstatic I can add it to my school snack idea rotations.

School Snack Idea #2 Fruit, Veggies & Protein

School snack ideas is not complete with out these three. For example, I keep fruit and veggies stocked up in this house. I was recently listening to the audio book “Atomic Habits” and in the book the author was talking about replacing cookies to fruit in your cookie jar. This was something I did years ago when my kids were little. I counted this as a win. 

Easy Kid Meals snacking

Un-Bear-Ably Cute

Previously, the sight of the cookie jar made me want a cookie.  Or my toddler would want a cookie. Since replacing the “cookie” with fruit. Our eating habits have improved as well as our waistlines. For us a easy protein is always nut butters or hummus. In addition a small handful of almonds or walnuts is also a great way to get some healthy fats and protein. This un-bear-ably cute snack was created with sliced “banana pennies”, peanut butter and tasty blue berries. 

School Snacks ideas for kids

Fun Food Kids Will Ask For Again & Again

Snack Idea #3 Treat balls

School snack ideas cant be complete with out these super simple and easy to do treats. I love making a huge batch of these and enjoying some right away. But then also tucking the rest away in the freezer. Perfect for when a sugar craving hits, or you need some easy protein after a work out or intense trip or as a reward for not buying the cookies you were eyeing at the supermarket. I personally love to use them as a way to get our daily flax seed intake in. Flax is delicate and can loose effectiveness if heated to high temperatures . So I feel the best way to enjoy it is either in a fresh smoothie or eating in a raw tasty treat ball. I like to store my flax in the freezer for freshness, it can go rancid if left in the cupboard for too long. 

Snack Idea #4 My Home Made Granola Bars

These are a great school snack idea! Granola bars always are a hit! They are perfect for adding into lunches or ready to go when you want to hit the trails and go on an adventure. So easy to have it ready for when you need some quick and easy inexpensive energy. I have made these bars for years. And have played around with different flours. You can always add an extra egg or add more apples sauce or even a banana if you use a flour that is more dense like whole wheat or spelt. 

Healthy Kid Snacks for school

Healthy Kid Snacks

Jens Granola Bars Recipe

2 1/2 Cups of rolled oats                                        

1 cup of flour

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup of apple sauce 

1 cup of ground flax seed

pinch of sea salt 

1/2 cup of honey

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of  either trail mix, chocolate chips, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, raisins and white chocolate chips, dried fruit. 

Oven; 350 degrees F ( 175 degrees C)

Kid Approved School Snacks Ideas

Granola Bars Are Always A Treat!

Stir oats, flour and ground flax seeds, brown sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add your egg, honey, apple sauce, vanilla. Stir until evenly combined. Pour mixture into a 9X13-inch baking dish, pat down and smooth evenly . Bake in pre-heated oven until golden and set. About 25 mins. 

Snack Idea #5 Roasted Chick Peas 

Simple Snacking for Toddlers

Easy for little fingers to handle also.

These are a great after school snack. Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, and offer a good dose of iron while stabilizing your blood sugars. So all in all a great snack to reach for in the afternoon. I love to make a big batch of these and add to snack time or as a side to our lunches. These are super yummy sprinkled over salads here are a few recipe ideas to get you as excited for these as I am. I always bake mine in the oven, But I could see owning something like an air fryer might be pretty great for this healthy treat! 

Roasted Chick Peas school snack ideas

A tasty snack.

Doritos – This looks like a tasty option if you have a craving for chippies but gotta cut back. 

Basic  – This is an easy basic recipe to get you started. 

Cinnamon Sugar  – If you are looking for a healthier option for a sweet treat. This is also a tasty way to enjoy! 

Ketchup – We call our chickpeas “nibbles” due to using this cookbook. The ketchup version is so delicious. We have a bunch of ketchup lovers in this house so this satisfies the craving asap! 

In conclusion

 I hope you enjoyed my mash up of some of our favorite school snack idea’s! Its exciting to be blogging with the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers! We are always so thankful when you stop by.  If your curious about getting to know me and my family a little more you can read this post. To learn how we do life with a large family. And you are always welcome to follow along with us on Instagram.

Login Lake BC Canada

Recipes for School Snacks

Recipes, ingredients and directions for 5 snacking ideas for school. 

 

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Glad To Be Back For Part 2. Home schooling in BC Canada!

Home school family

What grade am I in again?

Home Schooling In BC Canada

Home Schooling in BC Canada – I am so glad to be back for part 2 of Home schooling! As a result, today I am going to go over our favorite field trips or day trips! One thing I  love about homeschooling in BC Canada, is all the amazing places we have to explore right here in our backyard. I wanted to make this into a quick resource post, and just share some of the places we love to take our family too.

Adventures of Home Schooling

In the first blog post about home schooling in BC Canada I wanted to give you a feel for our schedule in PART 1. In today’s post, I wanted to go over our home school favorites! These are a few places I like to use to “fill in the gaps” or gain some inspiration. In addition, go and explore with the kids and experience nature and wonder. Its exciting to see the magic of childhood through my children’s eyes.  Grab yourself a warm cup of whatever makes you happy! And lets dive right in!

Coffee shops in Kamloops B.C.

Warm and cozy vibes.

Logan Lake In Beautiful British Columbia

Things to do in Canada with kids

Simple, slow and lovely days are offered to you in Logan Lake

Home schooling in BC Canada is made easy, when living in Logan Lake BC.  Unquestioningly,  in my view, Logan Lake is the best for fitness! Consequently, it is extremely family friendly and I feel safe walking around it with my 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3 and 21 month old. All in all we have a great time getting our steps in taking the family for a walk around the lake. The lake has just all the right ingredients for a good nature walk. More importantly, I use it for nature study and having the kids journal about what they seen and observed. Admittedly it has tons of wildlife to observe. We love watching the eagle carry fish across the lake to its nest. All the ducks, and geese we get to watch. We have encountered deer on the trails around the lake. Its rugged and rustic with a paved walkway, just the way this glamper likes to experience the great outdoors.

Mountain Biking in British Columbia

Braving the Logan Lake mountain bike course.

Getting Fit While Home Schooling In BC Canada

If you are feeling adventurous and exceptionally fit and strong, we have successfully taken our double stroller all the way around the lake. There is a more scenic and woodland nature trail along the mountainside. On the highway side they have a very wide and beautiful paved pathway.

More Than Walking In Logan Lake

In addition, if you follow the nature path you can find the Logan Lake Bike Park. Its natural and very impressive and so nicely done! Our kids have a total blast at it. Its great to burn off extra steam and help the kids gain new experiences and reaction skills every time we go. I find the trails very clean and nicely groomed while still being very natural. No need for hiking boots, runners will do just fine. And in addition our 3 year old was able to comfortably walk at her pace with a few seated breaks and a granola bar to keep her going.  Logan Lake has many fun recreational ideas any time of the year. Our family has grown to love our small town that we call home. Its so vibrant, friendly and serene. 

Life in Logan Lake B.C. Canada

Lovely views along the amazing walking path in Logan Lake BC

The BC Wild Life Park 

Spirit Animal

The B.C. Wild Life Park and its adorable Spirit Bear

This is hands down the best local place to get up close and personal with animals. Above all we love to study and draw at home these critters and beasts. It is just so fun at the BC Wildlife Park. We absolutely love to take the kids there. A favorite blast for both Kyle and myself. We have enjoyed going to BC Wildlife Park ever since we were kids. However, its more exciting now as parents to be able to share that with our children.

The B.C. Wild Life Park Always Evolving

Kamloops Wild Life Park

Kamloops Wild Life Park Home Schooling

It is exciting while home schooling in BC Canada to see how the park is always growing and always changing. Also, I love how they educate us and give us a personal natural experience every time. Its always so beautiful there.  In addition to nicely laid out paths and walkways its easy for me to push a stroller and keep up with my active kids. As a Mom I enjoy that they have interesting facts about the animals all over the park. And informing us as to which ones are rescues and their unique back stories.

The Main Attraction of the B.C Wildlife Park

The animals of course are an exciting main attraction. My favorites include the bears, wolves and buffalo. Hubby and I also really enjoy the coffee. There is nothing more romantic to me than enjoying a stroll and a coffee with him. In addition, I think my favorite time to go is in the fall season. It just feels super good to get in one last train ride and enjoy the crunchy leaves. The wild lights tour in the winter months is also fun. Its so beautiful to go, get all bundled up, and then see all the twinkling lights at night time. Lastly, it definitely tops one of my favorite experiences  in the colder months. 

Things to do in Kamloops B.C.

#wildtimesawaityou at Kamloops Wild Life Park

Desert Hills Ranch 

Influencer for Instagram Photo Idea

Cutest little pumpkins at Desert Hills Ranch in Ashcroft B.C. Canada

If you are looking for a fun and family friendly farm, assuredly, Desert Hills has all your social media influencer needs covered. This is definitely the  location to take some amazing fall photos. Never mind all of your garden, canning and pumpkin needs.  When Kyle and I lived in Ashcroft BC we were constantly at our favorite local farm. And that was Desert Hills Ranch . Homeschooling in B.C. Canada got a lot easier with this great location.

Curb Appeal, Animals, Pumpkins & So Much More

Dessert Hills helped with my home’s curb appeal with an amazing selection of lush blooms, trees, plants and pots. In retrospect, I think my favorite time to go was when they had fun sale weekends, such as peaches or salsa making. I always loved going on Mothers Day too when they honestly know how to spoil a gal.

The kids would always enjoy going through the barn to see the  baby animals and the gorgeous horses. The selection of farm tractors and old machines is bar none. Even being able to burn off steam at the park area always brings back happy memories for my kids. The staff are all so friendly, helpful and kind. You wont be disappointed with this trip.

Castle Fun Park 

Things to do in Abbotsford B.C.

This is “framer” for sure!

If you are feeling up for a road trip all the way to Abbotsford BC. For a day full of laughs and entertainment check out Castle Fun Park.  Get some car toys, pack some snacks and wear sensible footwear and you have yourself a mini road trip.

Kids activities in the lower mainland

Smiles for miles at the Castle Fun Park Go-Karts!!!!

Castle Fun Park is a place we have enjoyed coming to off and on over the last 10 years. From mini golf to arcade games this place is fun. However we came here the other day with the go carts in mind. It was such a great family activity. While Kyle zoomed around the laps with our littles. Our older children got to enjoy some driving time. My oldest as well as all the rest were overjoyed!!! Chasing Dad was a huge hit! At $8 for a race I think it is totally family and budget friendly. 

Family activities in British Columbia

The race is on!

Family day in British Columbia Canada

Family day is always the best day.

In conclusion

Home Schooling in B.C. Canada has so many vast opportunities for rich exploration and adventure. What a way to enrich your children’s educations. I hope you enjoyed a brief look into our families favorite field trips and road trips here in beautiful British Columbia. We honestly think we live in a breathtaking area. And we are so happy we are able to share our experiences here with Experience Nicola Valley and all the bloggers. As always with travel with Covid 19 I would advise giving each location a call if you are interested in going and see how they are limiting the spread of Covid 19. Plan for whatever sanitary and safety measures you feel comfortable with, and get excited to have a good and adventurous time.

Canadian Family

The magnificent 7

That is how we do Home Schooling In BC Canada

Adventures and activities in British Columbia Canada

 

Nicola Valley Bloggers, Merritt British Columbia, Canada

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Paska Lake is camping near Merritt BC

Paska Lake – Shirley Reynolds Photo

Camping Near Merritt BC Canada

Paska Lake is a good reason to come camping near Merritt BC

“Paska Lake is just one of almost two hundred lakes that are within an hours drive from Merritt. This is one of the reasons I love living in Merritt.”

I have talked about Camping near Merritt BC before where I outlined the pleasures of camping in the Kane Valley at Harmon Lake. This time we will travel 45 minutes north of Merritt to Paska Lake.  You will find the turn off to the lake on Hwy 97D between Lac Lejeune and Logan Lake.  You will travel up a narrow road that could use a few of the potholes filled.  However the travel is well worth it like most lakes when camping near Merritt BC.

The Forestry Site is Magnificent for Camping near Merritt, BC

This forestry site is on a gentle hillside and contains around 50 sites.  Each site is easy to back into and gives you stunning views of the lake.  When we arrived we were lucky to find a lakeside site available which we grabbed right a way.  The view was exquisite from this vantage point.

camping near merritt bc

campsite view -Tom Reynolds photo

Camping Near Merritt,BC- Bring on the Birds

Geese Familu

Geese Family – Shirley Reynolds Photo

One of our favourite activities is to watch for the various birds in our area.  However, we are not birders and therefore could not necessarily name all those birds that we noticed.  Having said that, we had no difficulty in naming the Canadian geese that were hanging around the lake shore.  This lovely family came by our site every morning at the same time.

The loons were too far out to get their picture but we enjoyed watching them dive and then trying to guess where they would show up.  I am amazed at how far they can travel under water.  Their haunting sound reminds you that you are not in the big city any more.

You can’t beat the food when camping 

The best part about camping is the food.  For some reason everything just seems to taste better outdoors.  For example, one of our go to breakfasts is blueberry pancakes.  It seems like the berries are fresh picked.  Bacon is tasty wherever it is served but is still better when camping.

Breakfast is part of camping near merritt bc

Breakfast at camp – Shirley Reynolds Photo

Biking while camping near Merritt, BC

One of my favourite activities when I go camping is to go for a spin on my bike.  The Paska Lake area has lots of trails and logging roads to explore.  However, this trip I decided to tour the little community just down the road from our campsite.

Since I am now in my seventies I find riding my bike uphill has become a real chore.  However, my friend Travis Fehr at Breathe Bikes came up with the perfect solution. He turned my bike into an electric bike by installing an e-bike system.  Now I don’t care about hills anymore because my new system assists with the hills.

Tom's bike

Tom’s electric bike – Tom Reynolds photo

With my electric assist on I was a able to pedal from the lakeside up to the road with ease.  Around a kilometre from the campground is a group of cottages.  While cottages are disappearing, to be replaced with monster houses, this area still has the classic cottage.

Classic Cottage

Classic cottage-Shirley Reynolds Photo

Other Activities at Paska Lake

This lake is great for swimming.  I was surprised that the lake temperature was actually decent considering it is a high mountain lake.  Anyway, the kids in the campsite next to us spent a lot of time in the water.

Of course camping near Merritt, BC would not be complete without fishing.  There is nothing better than rainbow trout done on the grill.

When we were there the weather was perfect for kayaking as there was no wind. We were able to travel around the lake with ease.

Camping near Merritt, BC is endless,

Paska Lake is just one of almost two hundred lakes that are within an hours drive from Merritt.  This is one of the reasons I love living in Merritt.  If you can’t be as lucky as I am you can always come and spend a little time in the Nicola Valley on your holidays.  Once you do you will want to come back again and again.

Camping Near Merritt, BC

Adventures of Paska Lake

Nicola Valley BC Canada

 

Nicola Valley Adventures in and around Merritt British Columbia, Canada

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Home Schooling in BC Canada

Part 1 in the series of what it looks like for me! A day in the life of a Mom home schooling in BC.

“I have taught 4 of my children to read. It’s been thrilling, rewarding, its almost a feeling I can’t describe. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the fruit of all your efforts pay off and them reading.” Jennifer Schell

A day in the life of a home schooling in BC – I’m so excited to be writing this post about my typical day in the life of a home schooling Mom. My name is Jennifer, I am a large family Mama of 7 amazing kids, Ages 12 down to 20 months. I’m a homebody living in Logan Lake BC and I always describe myself as a unlikely home schooling Mom. We can get into that another time,  For now lets go over my day. In the future I can write more posts further about how I keep babies and toddlers busy. Snacks and easy meal ideas for busy families and how I stay on top of the laundry, dishes and keep the house mostly presentable. All that said, I hope you enjoy your peek into our day!

Laundry day home schooling in BC

Meaningful Mornings When Home Schooling in BC

Ordinarily we wake up pretty much the same way every day. For the most part a couple kids have crawled into my Home schooling in BC with a morning coffeebed in the night. I haven’t started setting my alarm clock yet. Due to having recently just had a baby (almost 2 years ago) I usually just let myself sleep as long as possible, Getting those precious and few and far between winks of sleep before our mornings get rolling is important for me right now. I do want to do just a simple post on my daily routine. So for now we will keep this pretty home school focused. As I was saying, after we wake up, eat our breakfast, brush teeth and dress. We start in on our morning!  Please keep in mind I have 2 pretty independent learners. I am able for the most part to have been able to create a simple daily schedule for them to follow. With that in mind, coffee in hand, it’s time to get a jump on my day in the life as a mom home schooling in BC.

A Quick Note For Home Schooling With Toddlers & Babies

Homeschooling with a toddler or a baby. They are delightful little people who love being right in the thick of it. I have home schooled now while having a new born or toddler for the last 6 years. It can be a juggle and even some days a struggle. In reality, I find the best way to set yourself up for success is filling their cups up first. So, first thing in the morning I like to play or read with my little ones. Really make them feel special and “full” of you. Then usually they can get into their independent play a lot easier, or down for a morning nap. We love to use busy bags, Lego, Pre-School TV programs, and we load up on snacks to keep them happy and satisfied. I can go over more of how I do this if it interests you. Let me know? Stay tuned!!

Home schooling Mom in Canada

First Things First

8:30 – In the morning we always start out with  our morning basket or what others call “Circle Time“.  If we are all learning about a subject together we will read on that, then usually break. The older children will go write out an encouraging verse and 3 things they are grateful for, for the day to focus on then draw a picture. This is usually when I’ll start reading to my littles. We read more books about how to handle the issues of life in a right way. We read about our behaviors, our feelings and we might even sing. This is a time to find encouragement and a positive, happy start to our day.

Play and learn when home schooling in BC

A Day In The Life Of A Home School Mom & Math

9:00 – Then we jump right into math for the big kids. I find that helps just because focus is fresh and I like to give ample time to teach and understand new concepts, go over corrections and build mastery. We do use “manipulatives” in our math. I do love the hands on aspect for sure. We do take our time, mastery is my focus, not rushing ahead to each new concept. I want to be able to make sure that they are able to teach the concept back to me. Here’s the link to the math program we have been using from the start.

Math homeschooling in BC Canada

Day In The Life Of A Home School Mom Reading & Writing

I definitely have a more vintage vibe in our literature, reading and writing. We enjoy living books and reading out a Reading and writing home schoolingloud. I tend to get pretty dramatic when I read out loud, with voice deflections and even action moves. The kids also get a huge kick out of it. I think definitely “one room school house” is our learning style. My kids practice reading and writing from there McGuffy readers. I do have the kids practice there cursive every day also. What can I say, call me old fashioned but I do still think its important to be able to read, and write in cursive. With our McGuffys, we read the short story, take a piece to copy in printing then copy a piece in cursive. I then have the kids write out the spelling words. More on spelling in the next paragraph. 

Day in the life Of A Home School Mom & Spelling

In addition to the copy work, this past year we really slowed down our spelling. And really focused on memorization, It was a lot of fun, I used a different take on the old spelling test and would just quiz the kids on what they knew basically, without the context of pass or fail. Keeping it fun. Spelling out loud. Carving out that time for connection and seeing where they are actually at. Spelling “tests” take on a much more like and airy approach. What I am mostly going for here is repetition of writing down the memory words. Subsequently  there’s nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction of teaching a child to read. During their copy work from Monday to Thursday, they would also just copy out the spelling list one in print and the other in cursive. In addition, the big kids would then buddy up with my emerging readers and they would play flash card games. 

Learning How To Read In 100 Simple Lessons – Pre-K & Kindergarten

I have taught 4 of my children to read. It’s been thrilling, rewarding, its almost a feeling I can’t describe. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the fruit of all your efforts pay off. We have used a few different curriculum in this area. My favorite way to teach a child to read is basically as follows… step 1 – get child, step 2 – snuggle up on the couch step 3- read with child. But if I had to choose one curriculum that is my all time favorite way to teach someone to read, I love using the book How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. We do the short lesson, read the paragraph and write out the letters. This usually takes 15 minutes, which I find is just the perfect timing for little ones with shorter attention spans and usually suffer from cases of the wiggles.

Fridays We Take A Different Approach

Let me just say I love Friday! Its the day where we take different approach to school and educate in a different way. Instead of working on our McGuffy readers. We Nature Journal  . If it’s cool out. We usually use Home schooling art at homeencyclopedias and spend a good hour or more writing out facts, drawing our study subject and maybe even water color painting. If its warm outside we take our books outside and hunt for our subjects. After that, we spend maybe a good hour in Science. Either finishing up loose ends from our book work or doing a science experiment. This sometimes gives us enough time to get baking. We like to bake something quick as a group. And gear up for poetry tea time or carve out a larger chunk of our read a loud. I can’t make everyday look like Friday. But between watercolor and baking banana bread and cuddles and snuggles while learning is my absolute favorite! I love the pure, simple down to earth flow of our Fridays.
Stories for kids

Afternoon Activities

After we break for lunch, the kids and I will do a quick tidy up of our chores. In the afternoon homeschooling takes a more quiet and independent learning approach. The children all get a break and get to do quiet time. It’s honestly so lovely because they can decompress and play with their special toys. Catch up on independent reading. Work on writing stories. For my older kids, this is when they usually work on there Science note books. Or maybe they get creative and work on some fun crafts, or projects such as making the best slime, or setting up sensory play spaces for the little kids. I like to rest and then make time for outside play. Small nature walks and especially make time for reading out loud. It can be on the couch or in the van while you wait for appointments.

In Closing

If this was something that you want to see or learn more about, Follow me on Instagam @Jen.Schell.7 and you can see in my Instagram stories more of my day in the life as a home schooling mom. I post our activities in real time, how I feed the family an all the rest of the stuff that Kyle Schell and I get into with our mega crew! If you or someone you know is planning on homeschooling don’t hesitate to reach out and connect! And if you think this post would be helpful to someone please share! 

Jen Schell Instagram Page

A day in the life of a home schooling Mom

 

Home Schooling in Logan Lake BC

Nicola Valley BC Canada

 

Nicola Valley Home Schooling

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Merritt Dance Studio

The Love To Dance Academy in the Nicola Valley

In these times, we “bring the joy of dance into homes”.

 

The Merritt dance studio, Love to Dance Academy, contributes to the art and culture in our Nicola Valley.

Love to Dance Academy

Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

I invited dance teacher, Lizette Nel, to talk about her work when we connected here in Merritt BC Canada

How and when did your Merritt Dance Studio start?

I took over the local dance studio in December 2012 as the previous ballet teacher here in Merritt, Linda Sanford, was looking forward to retirement. The name, Linda’s Dance Studio, was changed to Love To Dance Academy in January 2013.

I started teaching in 2012. We had only 12 little ballet students in a lovely compact dance studio on the top floor of the beautiful old Courthouse in Merritt, BC.

Since then a strong dance program has been developed and the Love To Dance Academy now offers classes in four different dance genres to dancers of all ages.

There are recreational classes for those who want to dance for fun and exercise as well as classes for the more serious dance student who would like to do dance exams and participate in in dance festivals and competitions. 

Therefore, at the end of 2018, there was an opportunity to move to bigger premises and with the help of volunteers a second hand shop was converted into a spacious and fully equipped dance studio downtown.

 

Dance Studio Merritt BC

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor, Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Who is a part of Love to Dance?

The Love To Dance Academy is a project of the Merritt Dance Society, which is a non-profit organisation. The Merritt Dance Society consists of a wonderful, supportive Board of Directors.

I am the Head Dance Instructor and I developed and manage the dance program for the Merritt Dance Society.

Vanessa van Rensburg, regularly teaches Spanish Flamenco and jazz dance classes.

However, from time to time guest teachers are invited to do short courses and workshops or teach during dance camps.

 And of course, there are the many children, youth, and adults who come to the studio to dance!

How is the Merritt dance studio supported in the community?

It is very well supported by the Merritt community who loves attending our classes and our twice a year recitals.

Love To Dance fundraisers are well supported by the community and we are fortunate to always have enthusiastic volunteers to help whenever they are needed.

Tell me about the different dance genres you offer.

Currently our main dance genres are Ballet, Modern Jazz, Spanish Flamenco, and Latin Line Dance.

From time to time Love To Dance offers workshops or short sessions of other dance styles such as Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theatre/Broadway, Contemporary, Highland Dancing, Bollywood and Country Line Dance.

You put on twice yearly performances. A lot of the dances are choreographed by you, Vanessa, and your Love to Dance dancers.

Merritt Dance Studio concerts

Love to Dance Winter Concert Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

LTD Display

Love To Dance Poster Display of Dancers Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Ballet Shoes

LTD Red Ballet Shoes Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What are your inspirations for the themes and performance?

Life and what is going on around us… sometimes fun and sometimes deep and meaningful. We choose themes showing that we are different, but the same.

Your dance recitals are so enjoyable for the community!

Not only do we watch a themed story unfold onstage, but the Civic Centre is always full of beautiful displays focusing on the dancers and the culture of dance….

Merritt Dance Studio Instructor

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Can you share your dance background with us, Lizette?

Training:  I was introduced to the world of dance at age 5, in Johannesburg South Africa.  I did not like it, but fortunately my mom did not give up and reintroduced me to dance a year later.

In the beginning I was very shy and could not face an audience, but I loved the dancing and movement to music. However, I did all my dance exams and in my final year of school, I decided to become a dance teacher.

Work Experience:  Before coming to Canada, I owned and operated a successful dance studio in South Africa , where I successfully trained hundreds of young dancers and prepared them to enter exams, festivals and competitions with confidence, always striving for excellence.

 In addition to teaching and running a studio, I also provided mentorship for some dance instructors in South Africa. Consequently, I created an online dance network as a resource and networking tool for dance teachers, and was a founding organizer of the national “Eisteddfod of the Performing Arts”, a prestigious dance event of its kind in South Africa

It continues to this day, attracting thousands each year.

I was also a judge for the National Society on Dance Teachers as well as a lecturer in the Movement Science Department of the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

 It was a journey for you to be here with us in the Nicola Valley. Can you tell us a little about that journey?

When I became aware of the possibility of teaching in Merritt BC Canada, I started the process of obtaining a work permit, a very long process.

I started teaching in the dance studio in the old Courthouse in December 2012. After teaching for a year, there was a delay in the renewing process of my work permit, and I had to return to South Africa for a few months.

The local students and their parents were very disappointed that we had to leave. The community wrote petition letters and did fundraisers. Fortunately everything got sorted out and we returned in August 2014, just in time for the new dance year to start.

What inspires you?

Young Dancers at Merritt Dance Studio

LTD Young Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

I’ve had five dance teachers. Two of them, Janet King and Dorothy de Witt still inspire me. Also the smiling faces and chuckles in the dance studio inspire me.
Our Merritt dance family’s dedication and strong will to succeed inspires me even more.

Every new day and the fact that God’s loving kindness starts fresh each day inspires me.

What support do you receive in your role in your Merritt Dance Studio?

Non Profit Volunteers

Love To Dance Volunteers Photo Courtesy of Love to Dance

I have strong support from the Merritt community.  I am very grateful for the many volunteers involved in the many Love To Dance activities. They make it possible for us to successfully present many extra dance opportunities and related activities.
My children in South Africa support what I do and always encourage me.


Without Herman, my husband, keeping things together in the background and the assistance and hard work of Vanessa, my daughter, the Love to Dance Academy will not be able to exist

How do you relax, and give yourself a break?

Gardening.

Favourite things about Merritt?  

Four definite seasons in a year!

Favourite Music?

Classical harp

What role does dance have in society?

I am particularly conscious of the benefits of dance and I promote my programs as a holistic tool for physical fitness, and mental, emotional and social health. We promote character building for youth and motor planning for seniors and people with disabilities.
In addition, dance develops physical strength, co-ordination, and good posture.
Dance improves self confidence and positive body image. Dance builds self discipline
.

Ballet Dancing

Love To Dance Ballet Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Concert

Participants in a Love to Dance Recital! Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What effect do you feel Love to Dance has on our community?

Community Dancers

LTD Dancing in the Community Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Our young students learn to take charge of their lives by being responsible for scheduling and costumes and by managing their time wisely. They take pride in work well done, show leadership with younger dancers, and experience the value of teamwork and supporting others.

They are growing into mature, confident adults and they set an example which has a positive influence on younger dancers.

These positive effects are felt around our community.

Love to Dance brings together all ages, and the different ages interact and dance together in the recitals. It is a joy to see the older students take the young ones by hand and include them in the specially choreographed dances! I can feel and hear the pleasure in the audience around me at this collaboration of ages and levels of dance.

Community Dance

Love to Dance Valentine’s Tea Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

For the older dancers of 55 plus, in the program, “Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing,” the benefits of dance include brain agility, fitness, improved balance and reduced stress. This contributes to their independent longevity, and their ongoing participation in the community.

 In this Covid 19 pandemic, we taught our students (and their parents) to be grateful, and to not give up. We taught them to not wait for it to pass, but to accept it and make the best of it. We put new things in place. Our students made it through 10 weeks of doing things differently and they’ve learned many new skills.  It was hard, but we all survived and we’ve all become stronger.

We hope that this will spread wider and have a positive influence on our community.

What challenges does your dance studio, Love To Dance, face?


We are challenged with how to catch up the three months during covid – recovery of financial loss over three months with little income, continued rental and utility, and other commitments.

The whole world is currently turned upside down and inside out. But we see these obstacles as stepping stones, not mountains.

Street Dance

LTD Street Dance in Merritt Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

In this time of Covid 19, how is Love to Dance managing to stay connected with the dancers and the community?

SET UP VIRTUAL DANCE STUDIO

When we had to close our physical doors at the end of the day on March 16, after just one day of Spring Dance Camp, we decided to explore the possibility of changing from a brick and mortar dance studio to a virtual dance studio.

We attended many webinars presented by four different dance associations and got ourselves set up for Zoom classes and coaching by video.

To keep the interest in dance going, we lowered our class fees to encourage attendance.

BALLET

Ballet Dancer

LTD Ballet Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

To give our Royal Academy of Dance ballet students and parents hope, we continued to practice as if our exams, which were scheduled for April 29, were going to take place. 

Students could attend our Zoom ballet classes once per week and they could also make use of our private coaching by video option. 

This worked really well for some students, who had the full support of their parents. But as always happens, we unfortunately also had some dropping out (“stopping dance until the brick and mortar studio re-opens”)…. 

Most dancers have lots of self-discipline and keep up their daily practice while they are placed under movement restrictions, but we notice that they still needed to see each other to feel connected and to be motivated. The weekly Zoom dance classes really help to create some sense of normalcy. 


SPANISH  FLAMENCO

Thirteen of our Spanish Flamenco dance students successfully completed their exams by video at the end of April. 

 

Dance Studio

Herman Nel, Technical Expert for Love to Dance Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

SENIORS

We also set up ZOOM exercise classes for our seniors to help improve their balance, posture and flexibility and also improve your sense of well being – physical, emotional and mental. Payment for classes is by donation.

None of this would have been possible without Herman, my husband. To set all of this up, was a steep learning curve and involved some expenses.

What is next for Love to Dance?

We want to expand opportunities and restructure the dance program to accommodate what is currently happening all over the world.  It will be a constant dynamic situation going forward.

Keep an eye on Love To Dance’s current initiative that the members of Love to Dance Society can participate in.

Ongoing MEDAL TESTS

To further keep the interest in dance going we started having Medal Awards by video during the months of May and continue for June. This is open to everyone in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. Participants can enter Ballet, Jazz, Spanish and Folk/National dances – set dances and/or own choreography and interpretive dancing.

We noticed how the fun element and dancing with family members can bring the joy of dance into homes, so we added a section in which you can partner up with a sibling or parent or grandparent to dance a duet. 

Video submissions must happen before June 26 and participants will each receive a bronze, silver or gold certificate and medal in the beginning of July.

Merritt Dance Studio

Thank you, Lizette, for telling us all about the Love to Dance Academy! Many of us in the community are grateful to have an inspired dance studio here in Merritt.

Just one more advantage to living here in the Nicola Valley!

Support our art and culture in our community!

We hope to see the doors of the Love To Dance Studio open soon!
Merritt Dance Studio

Love To Dance Studio, still closed Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Artist Cassandra Dolen

Dance in the Nicola Valley Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Teacher

LTD Head Dance Instructor Lizette Nel Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

CONTACT LOVE TO DANCE

1976 Quilchena Avenue, +1 250 378 9898

www.lovetodanceacademy.com

LTDADANCE@GMAIL.COM

Facebook Love to Dance Academy

Instagram Love to Dance Academy, The Merritt Dance Teacher

Art and Culture Blogger, Jano Howarth

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