November 17, 2014

It's National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child! #LoveGives

It's National Collection Week, November 17-23, for Operation Christmas Child. Time to bring in your shoe boxes for kids in need around the world. You can also pack shoeboxes year round at 

Operation Christmas Child provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on project of Samaritan's Purse that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas - Jesus Christ - God's greatest gift.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my friend Chantelle after the service at church. We were talking about the upcoming Christmas season and about Operation Christmas Child. When Chantelle lived in Belize she remembers receiving her own shoe box at Christmas time. It was a time in her life when money was more than tight and her daughter, who was little at the time (she's now 16), had needs the family could not meet. Chantelle happened upon a church for a Christmas service and unbeknownst to her, they were handing out shoe boxes, packed by families in Canada.

The shoe box not only filled a physical need for her daughter but also filled Chantelle's heart, a gift she's never forgotten and now that they live in Canada, we have the opportunity to participate with them in packing boxes for kids around the world.

When our missions team to Romania returned home this year, they told us about the different homes they visited, the orphanages they worked at and the villages where they played games with the kids. In one of the homes, on the shelf above the table, was a green and red Operation Christmas Child shoe box. It was quite the moment for the team, knowing that possible one of the boxes they've packed in the past, was that box for that family.

Read more stories from the field here.

This year our church filled 41 boxes and I have 3 more to drop off this week.

As a family we filled 3 boxes; one for an older girl (10-14), one for an older boy (10-14) and one for a younger boy (2-4), to match the ages of my kids. I took the kids shopping with me and together we picked out items they felt these children would like. I'm very proud of my kids for wanting to use their allowance, their time and even a few of their unopened gifts from our gift box, to give to others.

There is still time for you to fill a shoe box or two! In each box include $7 for shipping overseas.

  • Fill your shoebox with a well-balanced variety of items from the following categories:
  • School Supplies - Items such as pens, pencils, pencil crayons, note pads, and picture books
  • Hygiene Items  - Items such as: facecloth, toothbrush, comb, and soap. Please place soap in a sealable bag
  • Toys & Other Gifts - Items such as: stuffed animals, small musical instruments, hair clips, toy jewelry, t-shirts, socks, and candy (loose, individually wrapped hard candy in a sealable bag)
  • Personal Note  - Include a personal note and/or a photo in your shoebox (not inside the donation envelope)
  • Decks of standard playing cards (other card games such as UNO are allowed)
  • Food and any chewy, crumbly, or soft candy: Including gum (due to customs regulations)
  • Used items (due to customs regulations)
  • Toothpaste (due to customs regulations)
  • Liquids or items that could leak, melt, freeze, or break - Shampoo, creams, lip balm, bath gels, mirrors, or glass, etc. (these can damage other items in the shoebox).
  • Items that can scare or harm a child - War-related toys, knives, and toy guns, etc.
  • Using a backpack instead of a shoe box is problematic because it creates unfair circumstances at distribution events.  Backpacks can also cause problems when cartons are being packed, and when shipments are going through Customs.
 Find a Collection Centre near you.

Love gives. Give today.

November 4, 2014

It's #TacoTuesday in our home tonight! | #MexicanChef

We spend a lot of time in the Mexican section at the grocery store. It's not unusual for us to have fresh cilantro, tomatoes and avocados on hand on a weekly basis. In fact, today is #TacoTuesday in our household!

If you head to that particular aisle in your grocery store you'll notice a new product on the shelves, Old El Paso Restaurante. Baja Fish, Chicken Tinga, and Steak Carne Asada.

We opted to try out the Steak Carne Asada. Delicioso!

preparing prior to cooking

The Steak Carne Asada kit includes:
  • 10 small tortillas
  • package of seasoning for the steak marinade
  • package of seasoning to help make guacamole 
You'll need to also purchase:
  • Steak of your choice (I prefer strip-loin)
  • Ripe Avocados
Steak: In a bowl empty the contents of the package of seasoning and follow the instructions on the box (hint, you'll need water, white vinegar and oil) to make the marinade. Add the meat to the sauce and mix until well covered. Add oil into a frying pan and cook the meat well.

Guacamole: Cut up 1 to 2 ripe avocados. Mash and add the seasoning mix.

It's that easy!

Add whatever ingredients you'd like to top your delish dish with. We opted for fresh cilantro and vine ripened tomatoes. 

Now for a #MexicanChef "Mexican Dinner Essentials" by Old El Paso Restaurante Giveaway for one of my Canadian readers, valued at approx $100.

The giveaway includes:
  • one box of each of the Old El Paso Restaurante kits 
  • a $75 Visa gift card (so the winner can purchase all the essential ingredients to be a #MexicanChef at home!)
In order for you to be eligible for the giveaway - photograph your best Mexican inspired meal and share it on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MexicanChef.
Canadians Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 30, 2014

Villaggio Garlic Bread... My Way! (take the Appehtite Challenge & win $1,000)

I'm a super fan of garlic bread. I love the buttery flavour, the crispness of the edges when it's done right and the garlic. Oh yes, I love garlic!

Recently I was at my parent's restaurant in White Rock, BC when I realized all garlic bread must have cheese on it!! I ordered my favourite soup, Borscht, and with it came a side of garlic cheese toast. Double Yum. How can you go wrong with bread, butter, garlic and cheese?!

This is my take on, "Say CHEEEESE Garlic Bread"

What you'll need for this #FoodHack:

1/2 cup shredded Mozzerella
1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar
1/4 cup Parmesan 
1/2 cup of chopped Green Onions
1/2 cup of Mayo
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
1-2 loaves of Villaggio Garlic Bread

What you'll need to do:

In a bowl, mix together the Mozz and Cheddar (hold back the Parm), add the green onions. Stir in the mayo and sour cream. Preheat oven to 375F. Open up the loaves of Villaggio Garlic Bread, place on a cookie sheet, crust side down. Spread the cheese mixture over the bread, sprinkle Parmesan over top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly toasted, about 15-20 minutes. Times differ for ovens, keep an eye on it. :)

Voila!! A tasty take on garlic bread.


and you could WIN a $1,000 gift card!!

What to do: Submit your recipe on Appehtite using the Challenge Tag "030: Garlic Bread Challenge". Each recipe published using this tag will count as a challenge entry. Recipes must be uploaded by Monday November 10th, 2014 at 12:00 (NOON) EST, with the winner being selected on Wednesday November 12th, 2014. Check out for more details.

Follow Villaggio Bread on Facebook for more great recipes and contests.

Disclosure: Shasher's Life is compensated for creating and sharing recipes that contain Villaggio products as part of the ingredients.

October 16, 2014

When the Baby becomes the Bride!

I'm on my way out west in a bit, I'll be touching down in my home province (after a bit of a layover in Calgary) this evening and I CANNOT WAIT!

Tomorrow one of my niece's is getting married. I've been to other weddings of nieces and nephews, cousins and their kids, and I've been excited for each of them but his particular niece... she is the oldest daughter of my youngest sister and I watched her come into this world. She has felt like my own child at times.

My sister was a teen mom. She was in a relationship with a man who took advantage of her while she was recovering from Malaria (she'd just returned from building huts in Kenya) and didn't listen or stop when she said NO...

Being her big sister, I was and am still, very protective of her. I'd do anything for her. I remember being at University, carrying around my brick cell phone (with an extra battery pack) for when she would call that she was in labour. When the day finally arrived, March 27, 1994, I drove like a bat out of hell from where I was living in Abbotsford to the hospital in White Rock. There was NO WAY I was going to miss being with her in that delivery room.

After teaching my sister to pant, "hee hee hooo - hee hee hooo" so she'd stop hyperventilating and stop kicking the doctor for hurting her... :) and almost 2.5 hours of solid pushing... Morgan twisted her way out of the birth canal, like a reverse auger, so quickly in fact that the doctor dropped her, banging her head on the table. Don't worry, she's fine. Babies bounce... 

So anyway... this baby is getting married tomorrow and I'm really, really excited. Even though it's making me feel really, really old all at the same time... I also can't wait to see my whole family under one roof. Aren't family weddings the best?! Well... they are in my family anyway. :)

OHHHHH! I'm also really, really excited to rub my little sister's baby bump! YUPPERS my 40 year old sister is expecting... SURPRISE it's gonna be a boy! I'm so thrilled for her and her new hubby (this is his first child).

Lots to be excited about this week!

Congratulations Morgan and Kevin. I can't wait to see you soon.