Saturday, April 25, 2015

One month til Kidsfest!

The Vancouver International Children's Festival is only a month away--have you got tickets yet?

If you buy early you'll beat the rush, & get your top picks for shows. There's plenty of excitement happening on stage at this year's Children's Festival from international hits to local favourites. The super cute Pyjama Nights are back; they've got evening shows, & their Activity Village will be in full swing! New this year are workshops & dialogues with artists!

 As always, there are many ticket options to choose from: One-day Show Passes*, Two-day Show Passes*, & their great Family 4-Pack ticket deal* - 4 tickets to one show for only $68! All Show Passes include wristband entry into the Activity Village.
*Variety show excluded

For all you need to know about Kidsfest, check out the Festival Guide. Hot off the presses, the 2015 Festival Guide contains everything you need to know about the Festival from show descriptions to activities to ticket pricing & parking.

Will we see you at the festival this year?

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Cookbook Review: Well Fed, Flat Broke

I will start this review by saying that I am not much of a cook. I love good food, but have little to no interest in making it myself. My cooking, such as it is, is mostly just to keep us alive. If it's a step above 'edible' on the scale, I consider that a win. So as you might guess, my cookbook collection is rather small. About a dozen. Of those books, half are Oliver's, several were given to me & I think I may have purchased two. Emily Wight's book is one of those two.

Well Fed, Flat Broke, Recipes for Modest Budgets & Messy Kitchens (hereafter WFFB) is kind of beautiful, the kind of book I might have picked up in a bookstore, but then put down again because, well, did you read the previous paragraph? However, if you actually look through it, which I've found a little time to do, the recipes are interspersed with stories & useful tips on cooking, all from the perspective of, & for an audience of, a person who wants to eat well without breaking the bank. This is an accessible cookbook & instruction manual that will help you learn to make (& eat) some really incredible food without spending a mint.

Emily is a true gourmet, constantly challenging herself to make incredible dishes for her lucky husband & son, as well as friends & family. But she's also really down-to-earth & willing to share her failures (like the disaster of roasting a whole chicken for her parents: she winged it & the bird was raw inside!). Did I mention she's funny? Of all my Facebook friends, I can honestly say that she's never written a status update I didn't laugh at. WFFB doesn't disappoint in this regard--it's engaging & the kind of book you might actually read cover to cover, if you didn't have two small screaming children running amok around you.

The recipes are organized by main ingredient: rice & grains, pasta, eggs, beans & legumes, & so on. Don't let me lead you astray by those first few, however--there are a lot of animal product based recipes in this book. Emily's included tons of dishes that would be great for vegetarians, but the book is also chock full of beautiful recipes like Peanut Butter Bacon Fat Cookies (p.219), which I will try as soon as I've fried up enough bacon to render & collect 1/2 cup of fat. (Honey, we're having bacon for dinner!)

I tried a few things out of the book at Emily's book launch last weekend: Dutch Meatballs (p.161), Kimchi Pancakes (p.185), & Avocado Cream (p.93). The latter was offered as a veggie dip, but in WFFB Emily suggests it as a taco topping, a brilliant (& delicious, of course) way to stretch your avocado dollar up here where we can't grow them. Emily's Dutch meatballs are kind of addictive--the touch of garam masala in there along with a handful of other flavourful seasonings (not telling you what--you need to read the book!) make them a step above pretty much any other meatball I've tasted. The Kimchi pancakes were a surprise for me--reminiscent of okonomiyaki, but more fluffy. They're definitely savoury--not something you're going to smother with syrup & fruit compote--& make an excellent snack or appetizer. Great for dipping in sauce (recipe also provided in WFFB), I could see my children liking these for dinner or a weekend lunch.

I've joked about not having time to read the book because of my children, but don't let me give you the impression that the recipes aren't family friendly fare. Emily has experience with picky toddler eating, being a mom, & her book includes an entire section on the topic, as well as many recipes that are particularly attractive to kids.

So, to sum up: if you are a foodie, you need this book. If you are not much of a cook but like to eat good food like me, get it. If you are trying to find a good gift for someone else, this is perfect. Everybody, just get a copy. Well Fed, Flat Broke is available all over the place for $24.95 (though I hear you can order it on Amazon for a bit less) in actual-paper-book format, or even ebook.

Disclaimer: I bought my own copy of this book & was not in any way compensated for this post. The link just above IS an affiliate link however, so if you buy through it, I'll get a small commission.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

What I'd be doing if I didn't have kids

I've been spending a fair bit of time on Pinterest lately, pinning all kinds of awesome DIY stuff, like raised garden beds, knockoff Anthropologie tops, beautiful desserts. However, like most people who are frantically pinning these beautifully illustrated tutorials, I know I won't do 99.9% of these things.

Because children. I love the little buggers, but there is no making things, no sewing, no fiddly baking, no gardening, no home improvement with them around. & once they're asleep in bed, I'm too tired to do much other than veg in front of a screen with ice cream or popcorn.

Maybe someday I'll be able to do this stuff, someday before I'm old & even more grey. I'm hoping it'll be just a few years. Though I have little hope for Linnaeus wanting to do anything crafty with me, as his attention span for such things is about two minutes. But maybe Bronte's interest in scribbling & stickers will translate into a love for DIY & she'll let me work on my projects while she does her own.

In the meantime, I'll be on Pinterest, daydreaming about home decorating, fashion, gardening, baking... oh, & bikes. Lots of pretty bikes on there.

Are you on Pinterest? If so, let's connect! I'm Spokesmama on Pinterest , like everywhere else. :)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

"Mama, can you help sickuh please?" (Mama, can you get me a sticker [piece of tape] please?)

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shop Local: Got Craft? Spring Edition

Have you got some shopping to do? Maybe summer birthday gifts, graduation presents or baby showers? Here's a great place to find unique, hand crafted, locally made items under one roof: Got Craft?

Got Craft? Spring Edition is coming up May 2 & 3 at the Maritime Labour Centre. This will be its 17th show with over 70 clothing, jewellery, food, home decor, & art vendors, plus DIY workshops so you can join in the creative fun.

Popular vendors Locomotive Clothing, The Beautiful Project (paper goods) & craft’ed (bookmarks, magnets, cards) will be back at the event this Spring. Nine year-old Noah Diguangco of EllaMinnoPea - who recently gave a TEDxKids talk about running his own business - will also be in attendance. 

New vendors located in the East Vancouver area include East Van LightEmilie CreweFive Corners CreativeGraveley & SonsKate Barazzuol JewelryOwl & WindsorThe Nine O’Clock Gun Company.

All this artisanal shopping will no doubt get you hungry, but not to worry, Got Craft? has you covered. Food trucks, handcrafted baked goods, & artisan chocolates are also on the menu!

In case you were thinking of sleeping in, you should know the first 50 people through the door each day will receive a free swag bag from vendors & sponsors. 

Got Craft? happens Saturday and Sunday May 2 and 3, 2015 between 10am-5pm at the Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street in Vancouver, B.C. Admission is $3 at the door.

Follow the fun on FacebookTwitter, & Instagram. For more information, visit

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Monday, April 20, 2015

What to do about rude drivers

As I was biking home from preschool Friday, I was approaching a traffic circle to turn right, & a young guy in an SUV came barrelling through the wrong way. His window was open so I said, "The wrong way around a traffic circle? Really?" His response was to yell, "Fuck you!" at me & my two small children.

Then two blocks later, as I was riding in the centre of the narrow curb lane (there isn't room for me & a vehicle to ride side by side so I take the lane for a couple hundred metres) I heard the single occupant of a massive truck say that I was "endangering my children" as he drove past me, wheels on the centre line between our lanes. I wish I could remember the company name that was plastered on the truck.

Within seconds of that encounter, another old guy in a small car was rubbernecking (seriously dude, have you never seen a cargo bike before?) & after he passed me, literally driving in the centre of the two lanes of traffic. Thankfully he corrected & returned to his own lane before the parked cars in the next block.

This is why cyclists hate drivers. Because this kind of stupidity happens all in the space of a 1km, five minute ride home from preschool. Because entitled jerks who are breaking laws & endangering people feel that they have a right to do so & tell me that I'm in the wrong.

Image adapted from: Pranav Bhatt via Compfight cc
I wasn't in danger in any of these situations, I ride defensively & keep my distance from vehicles, especially those driven by selfish idiots like these three guys. But it really gets me down that the only things I ever hear from drivers on the road are insults & baseless criticism.

If you're reading this, you're probably not one of those drivers. I know I'm just preaching to the choir here. But I don't know how to reach these drivers. I don't know how to make them understand that their sense of entitlement & dangerous antisocial behaviour makes them relics of the past. Dinosaurs.

What I think these guys want, is for all the cyclists & pedestrians to get off the road, out of their way. Which would mean into cars. But besides the fact that we don't all want to drive, we can't all drive everywhere. It's expensive, it's unhealthy to sit in a car all the time for distances you could bike or walk, it's polluting, it's dangerous. We literally don't have the space to keep building more lanes to move vehicle traffic through Metro Vancouver as the population continues to increase. The logical conclusion of this car-centric attitude is gridlock.

We can't keep driving our cities, our environment, our children, into the ground. We have to rethink how we get around & change to walking, cycling & mass transit a whole lot more. These dinosaur drivers aren't just going to give it to us, however. We need to carve out more space for active transportation & that means building infrastructure like light rail, bike lanes & better pedestrian crossings.

So here's what you can do. We've got a great opportunity for Metro Vancouver with the Mayors' Transportation plan. Voting yes & passing this plan in the referendum would make some serious headway in improving the options for active transportation. Then one day, with more bike infrastructure, maybe some of these dinosaurs will actually get out of their huge vehicles, try biking, & realize how awesome it is.

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