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Desert Hills Ranch

What better way to get your summer bucket list started off right than spending a day with an awesome summer adventure. 

Spending a day at Desert Hills Ranch with family.

A day at Desert Hills Ranch. Seriously hands down this is a hidden gem located in heart of  Ashcroft B.C.  A beautiful slow paced community that has so much charm to offer with old school western desert vibes. Ashcroft has a museum, well stocked grocery store, lovely tourist worthy location for community information. Lastly…  you could also bring your swim suits and check out our community pool to cool off.

desert hills ranch ashcroft bc canada

Goats at Desert Hills Ranch. Photo Credit: Jennifer Schell

mexican store ashcroft bc canada

Delish! Mexican Delights! Photo Credit: Jennifer Schell

History in Ashcroft BC

Of course my oldest son Logan, age 13, says his favorite thing to see is all of the tractors. He loves to see the historical and ancient farming machines. Secondly if you fancy yourself an avid gardener or aspire to be. The options for making that dream a reality is beyond belief. Think Garden of Eden meets tacos and you have a pretty good idea of what its like on the ranch.

Going Mexican Food in Ashcroft

Speaking of tacos… if you crave Mexican food and fare. This is the place to be for all sorts of chips, beans, hot sauces and salsas. I love stocking up on all the essentials for the best taco Tuesday meal items. In conclusion you do not want to forget to mark on your calendar for salsa weekend if you are keen to make your own.

plants gardening ashcroft bc

Plants!  Photo Credit: Jennifer Schell

ashcroft bc family fun

Family fun in Ashcroft BC. Photo Credit: Jennifer Schell

Fun Times at Desert Hills Ranch

A day at Desert Hills Ranch is fun for everybody! They have lots to see and do. Children,  I think,  have an especially great time here. As a Mom I appreciate the measures that the ranch takes to allow people to view the animals but also how clean they keep it. Along with the areas  to clean and sanitize hands often, and easy access to use the rest rooms. The barn is such a fun treat to explore every time and it is fun to see all the animal friends inside! Of course feeding the goats is so much fun! 

Fruits and more 

My daughter Amelia age 11 says her favorite thing to enjoy is the food. She loves to buy different fruits each week to try with the family and she loves the ice-cream. I feel zero regret buying ice-cream here for my family of 10! The price is right when it comes time for a cool treat. What a fun and affordable way to make the day that much more memorable! 

 

cows farming ranch ashcroft bc

Calf in Ashcroft

An Educational Opportunity 

Machines, where our food comes from, biology and botany are just a few subjects you will encounter on the ranch. As a homeschooling mama this place has educational field trip written all over it. And that is another perfect reason to come check out the ranch. This hasn’t been my first time blogging about my favorite ranch. You can read that post HERE . There is so much to see and do here, it really is a very enriching experience. My son Zach who is 6 absolutely loves that he got to see his favorite animal when he visited the barn. A baby cow was such a adorable treat for him to see so close.

kyle schell ashcroft canada plants

Lots Of Selection To Keep Any Green Thumb Happy

Flowers in Ashcroft BC Canada

This has to be one of my favorite parts of coming to the ranch. I love the huge selection of flowers, shrubs and trees they always have here. It makes adding curb appeal easy with the huge selection that they always have! I love that I can even dabble at pretending I am a homesteader with there great assortment of garden items. Cue the Little House On The Prairie theme song. I am so excited to try making a few different jams this season and give some canning  a try. We love getting our tomatoes and strawberries here. And filling up our garden rows with lots of other goodies as well. Corn, peppers, cauliflower to name a few! 

ashcroft flowers plants

Impeccable Selection Of Many Garden Items

Covid Pregnancy

Delicious Produce Awaits At The Ranch

In Conclusion 

A day at Desert Hills Ranch is never a day wasted. This place is really such a hidden gem. Surrounded by desert mountains. It has beautiful weeping willows to offer shade as you stroll around. They are always so kind and courteous. It truly offers an exceptional summer experience in the heart of British Columbia.

Therefore, if you are looking for more great all year around ideas for what to do in BCs interior. Please follow the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers. And keep your eyes on the Blog for some more great Summer Bucket List ideas! Thanks for reading! Have a great summer and stay safe. 

CONTACT INFO

Desert Hills Ranch

250 Elm Street, Ashcroft, BC

250.453.9876

deserthillsfarmmarket@gmail.com

www.deserthillsranch.com

 

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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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Large  Chocolate Chip Cookies 

This Recipe is here to save your day! Try this Large Batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies today!

“One bite of these large chocolate chip cookies and all of your cares seem to slip away. But, and there is always a but, when dipped slowly into a cool glass of milk, or enjoyed with a steaming mug of hot coffee this is a moment you can savor and be present.”

 

Large Chocolate Chip Cookies – To begin with I am so thankful you stopped by today! I am very excited to be sharing with you, from my home kitchen in Logan Lake, BC, Canada,  my famous home-cooked recipe for large chocolate chip cookies! Honestly there are just some days you need a large batch of chocolate chip cookies… And fast!!! For example you might be looking to feed your hungry household, run a day care, need an extra large batch of chocolate chip cookies for an after school program or church function. Maybe even get a  jump on your Christmas cookie exchange!!!

Grandma’s Large Chocolate Chip Cookies  

For us, our reason for so many cookies is because we are a large family. I am mama of 7 kiddos, yes you read that right, and there ages 12 to 20 months.  On the whole these large batch chocolate cookies are here to save your day like they often have saved mine. I really wanted to share this family recipe to everyone in need of a bunch of cookies! In short these large batch chocolate chip cookies are certainly a delight! Chocolaty, the perfect reminiscent crisp and chewy mouthful from your childhood. I would know, as this cookie recipe has been passed down generations and now I am sharing it with my kids and you, my friends online. 

Freezer Cookies

Big Kid Approved

Busy Mama in the Kitchen 

Raising 7 children in the rugged and beautiful mountains of British Columbia Canada. That is me.  The other day we woke up  and the weather was so crisp and chilly. In other words, days like that are the best time to create a slow living day. We like to use baking times to our advantage. We love to teach applicable math skills to little ones and community in the kitchen. Having kids mix batter or add ingredients, and of course subtraction as the cookies cool off. You could say our kitchen seems like the heart beat of our home, Or maybe that is the laundry room. Either way if either of those rooms go down we are toast.  For example, when I get in the kitchen more often than not everything is “large batch”, likewise if I get in the laundry room —large batches in there also!

Busy Mamas are Always Prepared

It’s so great to have a freezer stocked up for the foreseeable future full of snacks or yummy treats. I also loved having large batch chocolate chip cookies ready for when we would go on day trips and pack a quick picnic lunch. Honestly, to have a freezer stocked with soups, snacks, granola bars, muffins and casseroles helps me stay on track of the home so much better. It also gives me peace of mind if someone gets sick, or I need a night off. In addition its perfect when we had friends pop over, so easy to thaw and enjoy. But there is also something so delicious about a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Yum…Yum!  

Fresh baked large chocolate chip cookies

Large Family – Baking Day!

One Bite of These Large Chocolate Chip Cookies and … 

… all of your cares seem to slip away. But, and there is always a but,  when dipped slowly into a cool glass of milk, or enjoyed with a steaming mug of hot coffee this is a moment you can savor and be present. Able to smile and find simple happiness. Enjoy the fruit of your labors. Likewise pause and look into the eyes of those you love and connect. Therefore, I am actively inputting  a lasting memory into the ones I love. Even though we are in a time of crisis you can chose to capture moments. As a result you create a anchor point of security and safety and comfort. This large batch of chocolate chip cookies will offer you comfort and nostalgia (Hi Garndma!) and an opportunity to practice being present and mindfulness. 

Kitchen Aid Mix Master

Baking with “littles” is always an adventure.

The Best Large Family Batch Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour 

2 tsp baking soda

1  tsp salt 

2 cups of vegetable shortening 

 1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups of chocolate chips  

*Optional*

1 – 2 cups chopped nuts 

Directions:

Pre-Heat Oven 375F

First of all. In a small bowl combine your flour, baking soda and salt. And set this aside.

Secondly in your large mixing bowl. Cream your shortening, brown sugar,  sugars in your mixing bowl for 2 mins on high. After that add in your eggs and vanilla extract. Then next your going to begin to add your dry mixture to the wet mixture. Gradually add your flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped nuts. 

Drop by round measuring tablespoonfuls onto your cookie sheet. With this in mind I always use parchment paper in my baking. Bake 375F for 9-11 minutes. Additionally this makes about 10 dozen large batch chocolate chip cookies – Give or take a few.

Fresh Cookies

Chocolaty, Chewy.

You have 7 kids!? “How do you feed them all!?”

I am so grateful you took the time to read about one of the recipes that our family utilizes. As soon as people are initially introduced to me and learn that I am large family mom of 7 children. Undoubtedly, one questions I’m usually asked is, “how do you feed them all? I struggle just feeding myself.”

I am so excited to be able to start sharing how we raise our family here. Hoping to be able to bring a ton of motherhood, homeschooling and lifestyle content. Initially I really should disclose our days are so busy and full. And I really strive to try to capture the art of slow living in our bustling household.  Minimizing and streamlining areas of our lives are always my goal. For this reason a lot of my recipes are always large batch! And hence why large chocolate chip cookies were born.

If your interested in a more complete post on how we “feed them all”, a glimpse at our weekly or monthly meal plans or anymore larger than life recipes ( I have a bunch!!!!) Let me know in the comments below! 

Large Chocolate Chip Cookies Grandma Use To Make

Logan Lake, British Columbia, Canada

 

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Culture and Art Show for Children

Merritt artists create inspiring art for children in our new Gallery Show!

“Out of inspiration comes curiosity, motivation, desire, and the creative process.”

Art for children in Merritt BC is thriving! We asked our local artists to bring in, or create new art that would inspire children’s ideas and imaginations. And we have had a wonderful response with over 25 artists participating in our five week-long show. It’s up! It’s fun and colourful! And it’s on until 4pm, Saturday, March 14, 2020. Come on by!

Art for Children

Children in Art, Art for Children

How did we get so many artists to contribute to a show about art for children?

First, we put a call out to artists in the fall, through our membership newsletter, our local papers, and social media.

Then an email went out directly to most of the artists who have participated in our shows in the past, and a few we would love to gather into our active arts and culture community.

Lastly,  were our personal reach outs to those who popped in to see us at the Gallery, or who called in for questions, or met at events like Open Mic, and on the street! We did our best to reach out to as much of the Nicola Valley community as we could!

Art horses

Miriam Loken’s “A Moment with Max”

What’s in our Art for Children show?

Of course, we have children in the art…

  • Miriam Loken’s A Moment with Max features a child and a horse
  • Nancy Ellingsen’s grandchildren’s portraits, Ember and Logan
  • Bruce Walter’s photo A Teachable Moment, children in nature
  • Jean Kiegerl’s Reborn with a father and his baby girl
  • Judy Young’s amusing Shopping with Dad
  • Robert Moretti’s Camping Branch Swinging 
  • Joel Reid’s large graffiti 3 Candles
Art for Children

Artists Michael Behrens and Joel Reid Paintings

Art can inspire.

But a lot of the art in the show is meant to inspire children, of all ages- from babies to teens. We have paintings – watercolour, acrylic, and pastel…. depicting a variety of subjects like butterflies, undersea creatures, fanciful trees and mountains by artists Joel Reid, Fran McMurchy, Karen Otway, Michael Behrens, Shirley Reynolds, and Herta Klassen, Gale Simpson, and Diane Wandler.

Paintings, 3D pieces, mixed media…

We have 3D pieces, like Pius Chong’s monkey and Amanda Pryzner-Dunn’s folded steam engine (protected in a glass case). Kelly Reid brought in two magical fairy gardens made from a mix of materials, like a path of pennies, and a tiny tea cup.

painting in merritt

Tina Barlow’s Love, Laugh

There are mixed media pieces like Lin Butler Buchanan’s stunning dark Sunflowers at Night, and Tina Barlow’s The Laugh Love Tree. There are cloth and fibre art pieces like Cindy Trent’s Circus quilt and Vickie Strom’s bright woven wall hanging.

Amanda submitted paper cuts depicting three fairy tales. Can you guess them? Visit the show and see!

And we are displaying whimsical pieces like a Vicki’s felt mouse, Barb Sayles’ vintage dolls, and Pam Clark’s adorable knit bunnies and chicks.

And My Topsy Turvy Circus Diorama

I jumped in myself for this show and created a five foot Circus diorama, populated with several dolls and puppets from my collection. They are dressed as jesters, clowns, mimes, trapeze artists, and horse trainers for the occasion. My favourite wooden Czech Marionette hangs high up in the Topsy Turvy Circus, attracting children to see the three ring performances. All in the imagination, of course. And I tried my hand at doll faceups, including a mime face on a Berenguer doll. Fun!

Children artists in merritt

Jano Howarth’s Mime Face Up

Art for children is one way to reach out to children.

As a life long educator, with over 30 years of interaction with children of all ages, I have realized how important inspiration is to the process of creativity and life itself. Out of inspiration comes curiosity, motivation, desire, and the creative process. Art is a very effective way to reach children! There are so many forms of artistic creativity that can appeal to children’s natural interests and help them identify their own passions and life directions.

When I put the call out to artists I said:

“This show is about children and how we inspire them to take their own path- maybe art, maybe another passion. Think of Cindy Trent’s quilt depicting the layers in the earth. Inspiration for quilting? painting? sculpture? photography? geography? zoology? ecology? writing? Art that stimulates the imagination. And not necessarily kids stuff.”

children art

Art Bud’s Renee Hartwig

And that’s what we got! One gentleman was expecting art by children, or at least childlike art. And we certainly have on display some very cute art, and art that is appealing to the child in all of us! Our Art Buds teacher, Renee Hartwig, brought in her Bunny on a Hill painting that brings out the oohs and aahs in children and adults alike. 

“Interesting, beautiful, quirky, or socially conscious art”

But we have some sophisticated pieces that can stimulate great ideas for parents, grandparents, etc. on how to look for and choose art for a child’s room. Or art for a living room or dining room (or waiting room, or educator’s office) where children can be exposed to interesting, beautiful, quirky, or socially conscious art.

children and art in merritt

Art to Inspire Children

 
Even some of our local artists were challenged by the idea for this show! But it didn’t take long, in this community of creative artists, to bring together over forty-five pieces of inspiring art for children. I am very excited and pleased with the wonderful responses, from the artists, and from the visitors, local and out-of-towners, who have come by the show already. 

We have art that stimulates, amuses, and soothes.

Art for Children

Vicki Strom’s Felt Mouse

We had a great Reception the other night, complete with marshmallow squares, of course! But with chocolate, whipped cream and fresh orange toppings! Thanks, Diane! And thanks to Lin, Joel, and all the volunteers who helped put this show together!

Now that the show is up, the people are coming by with and without children. Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

We have invited teachers to bring classes. (Just let me know! nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com or Jano 250-315-3437)

Art for Children in Merritt, BC… Alive and Well! 

For more info on this show, or upcoming shows at the Nicola Valley Arts Gallery at the old Courthouse on Nicola Avenue contact me at 250-315-3437 or email nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Jano Howarth, Arts Gallery Director and community supporter!

Art Things To Do in Merritt, BC

Check out some of our past Arts Gallery Shows

  •  Open Mic Weekly! Friday nights 7-9 pm at Kekuli Cafe
  • Gallery Shows every five weeks or less! At the the old Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt BC. Thursday to Saturday, 12-6 pm
  • Gallery Shop all year round, and yearly popular Artisan Winter Show
  • Arts Classes, course and workshops- visit our website for info
  • Special Arts Events: Mayor’s Gala, Jazz in the Attic, Art in the Park

Join the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council! Tax receipt for Memberships and Donations! Online or pop in to the Gallery.

Jano’s

Interested in doll characters and photo stories?

  • Website: Hiya Dolly
  • Facebook and Instagram Hiya Dolly

More on the Art for Children Show…

Bev Veale contributed an in-progress piece designed for a child’s involvement… Come in and find all the animals!

Bev has been painting the flora and fauna of the Nicola Valley for decades. And she continues to contribute her support and show submissions! Anyone interested in an original Bev Veale, contact me!

NVCAC Vice President Karen Otway’s colourful painting is both our cover photo, and our show poster. Thanks Karen!

And getting ready for the Topsy Turvy Circus kept me happily busy for days!

art and culture in merritt

Topsy Turvy Circus by Jano Howarth

Get inspired with your children! Get a hold of a canvas, a fun item to paint, and get busy!

Art for Children

Inspired!

Art for Children in Merritt British Columbia Canada

Nicola Valley Arts Council

 

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