ast week, I was invited to Anthem's latest completed community in North Vancouver, Eastwoods to add a little bit of holiday spirit to their townhome display unit, Signed Samantha style. Upon arriving at the community, a sense of peace and calm overcame me. I'm guessing the senses started because the Eastwoods community is nestled among nature near the trees and Seymour River. Something anyone who grew up on the North Shore is drawn to. Once I travelled across the footbridge and onto the Eastwoods property filled with move-in ready townhomes and garden flats, the feeling of relaxation continued and I was met with a warmness. I knew I entered a community that would spread some holiday cheer to one another by running a batch of freshly baked cookies to their neighbours across the walkway. At this point, I hadn't been inside, and I was judging a book by its cover, but I was already impressed and was looking forward to making my way inside.
The Homes at Eastwood
Once I toured the move-in ready homes, I knew my judgement was bang on. But I had to wonder, why on earth weren’t more homes built with this attention to detail?! Maybe these are things someone obsessed with interiors looks for, but the extra design detail that went into the finishings, layouts, appliances and the versatility of the homes were an obvious win to me.
The garden flats are fantastic but I will say, the townhomes stole my heart. It was easy to picture living in these homes with our family of four. Designed for a growing family, they have four bedrooms – a total rarity. There is a kitchen, dining, living room, and pantry on the first floor. Two bedrooms were on the second floor along with a family room (set up in the display home as a super tidy children’s play area). On the top floor, you will find a primary bedroom, a secondary bedroom, and a huge laundry closet.
The separate play area happens to be one of my favourite features in my home to keep it from feeling cluttered and overwhelming – most toys live in the playroom, out of sight. Since I was helping sprinkle some holiday magic in the townhome, it was also easy to think about keeping the adult space on the main floor cohesive for the holidays and letting the children go to town in the family room.
How to Create Holiday Magic in Your Homes
Setting up the open-concept living area on the main floor of the townhomes at Eastwoods to create those holiday memories felt natural. The smallest touches brought the calmness from nature surrounding the property inside the home. If time permitted, I would have even foraged some fallen cedar branches from the Seymour River Heritage Park next door. Subtle touches emanating the beautiful greenery surrounding Eastwoods were brought into the home through mini trees and a wreath at the front door as well as the bottlebrush trees and linens in the dining room and kitchen. Soft lighting from the tree and fairy lights in the kitchen added a twinkle that children love and reminds me of a starry night.
Finally, nothing evokes childhood memories of the holiday season better than the smell of gingerbread. My favourite childhood memory is baking gingerbread cookies with my grandmother. Making and decorating gingerbread is also one of my daughter’s favourite things to do with me. As a bonus, it makes our home smell like the holidays. I’m excited to share that tradition and delicious smell with you through the recipe below. I’ve adapted my grandmother’s gingerbread recipe to make them gluten-free, but you can always use regular flour.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (or regular flour if you have no gluten issues)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
Glue Icing Ingredients
- 1 egg white
- 1 and 1/4 cup icing sugar
- In a large bowl, cream margarine, sugar, eggs, and molasses together.
- Sift in the ginger, gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt until well mixed.
- Shape your dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
- Before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°.
- Pour flour onto the counter and take 1/4 of your dough out of the fridge. Dust each side of the dough with flour and roll it out until it is 1/4 of an inch thick.
- Using your cookie cutters, cut your desired shapes, and add to your cookie sheet. Keep an inch of space between each cookie.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes (8 will give you chewy cookies, 10 will give you crispy ones). Cool on a wire rack.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. I keep it in the fridge as long as possible as it is easier to work with.
- Once the cookies are sufficiently cooled, mix egg white and icing sugar until smooth and decently thick (if it’s not thick enough, add a little more icing sugar. If you find it too thick, add a tiny bit of lemon juice). Add the icing to a small ziplock bag cut a hole in the tip, and decorate as you wish. I did plain icing – you can do smarties or other candies to make it more festive!
Eastwoods: A North Vancouver Lifestyle
Speaking of memories and raising families, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what growing up on the North Shore is like. But first, I need to tell you a secret: anyone from North Vancouver tends to move back to North Vancouver. There’s a certain culture North Vancouver residents possess that is rare to find anywhere else. I know this because I was lucky enough to grow up here and moved back to raise my family in this culture… So did all of my closest friends from high school.
Growing up in North Vancouver, my friends didn’t play video games or watch much TV; we played outside and went on hikes. We knew all of our neighbours. Every time you went grocery shopping, you ran into someone you knew. This culture is only growing in Maplewood. Maplewood is a vibrant, well-connected community with easy access to nature, and I think it is the perfect place to raise a family.
If you’re searching for a new home in the Lower Mainland, I would consider Eastwoods in North Vancouver. Not only are you getting a well-built home from a reputable developer, but you’re joining a community, one filled with young families, and one you can easily create long-lasting memories for years to come.