Spring #OOTD for Little Ones with Watermelon Tree Kids

We spent a fun morning yesterday morning at Ritual Ice Cream in Fort Langley shooting photos for an upcoming Easter collab with Creative Wife and Joyful Worker and Discovering Parenthood. Considering there were six little ones running around, I think we pulled it off pretty well and the kids handled it like champs. It didn’t hurt that there was the promise of sweet treats after the photos either. 😉 Sugar rush and all, it was a fun morning spent with friends and the perfect way to spend the first day of Spring. 

There will be plenty more of all things Spring and Easter from that shoot coming soon to all three of our blogs, but until then I wanted to share the sweet outfits my two little blondies got to model from Watermelon Tree Kids, a sweet children’s store in Fort Langley, that stocks a variety of quality baby and kid’s items ranging from larger, well- known companies, to a variety of local brands. I had the chance to check out the store before Christmas with a girlfriend and love everything about this store and the mother- daughter team behind it. They were very generous helping us dress the kids in the sweetest outfits for Spring and if you’ve been looking for an outfit for your kids, they’ve definitely got plenty of cute items to choose from!

Ari’s dress- WHEAT

Liam’s shirt & shorts- Ben Sherman

Both provided by Watermelon Tree Kids

I’m a sucker for getting the kids dressed up, even if it only lasts a short while. Ari’s dress was super soft and comfortable, and Liam killed me with cuteness is his button- up and shorts. (If you follow the blog on Instagram you’ll also know that he loved when they came off and was running around in just the shirt and diaper- what is it with boys?!). I also love the added bonus of supporting a local family- run business that cares about the quality of the items they carry (Sidenote: they also have a great play area and couch in the back of the store to help entertain the kids and provide a space to breast feed if needed while you shop). You can tell the owners really care about their customer’s experience and I appreciate that it’s a kid- friendly place to shop. The next time you’re in Fort Langley I hope you pay this sweet shop a visit. <3

Thank you to Ritual Ice Cream for letting us shoot the photos at your beautiful location and Watermelon Tree Kids for providing the outfits for all of the kids!

Photo credit: Creative Wife and Joyful Worker & Discovering Parenthood

Find Watermelon Tree Kids online: watermelontree.ca | Instagram: @watermelontreekids

 Want to win from Watermelon Tree Kids? Enter below!

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March 21, 2017
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To the Person Reading This, You Are Not Alone: Will’s Story

We share beautiful moments online captured in photos- the highlight reel as many call it- but much less often share the tough moments, the hard days. This blog is my outlet, so I like it to be a fun place, but I also want it to be real and honest. On some days when I post a light- hearted photo on social media, it’s because I need that outlet, that distraction. It’s not to be fake or to make things seem better than they are, it’s me trying to stay positive, lighten the day.

It’s not very often I sit down to write a post and struggle to find words, I’m a pretty open book and they usually come easy. But this post is different. It’s different from anything I have posted before because it’s not coming from me, it’s coming from Will. I’ve opened up about some of the personal struggles I faced in the past year (you can see those posts here and here), but I didn’t share the whole story- some of the things that happen behind the scenes with our family as a whole- because it wasn’t mine to tell. It was Will’s. And I respected his privacy because that’s what he wanted and deserved. But after the amazing experience and response I had after sharing about my own challenges, I thought it may have the same positive impact for Will and those who read his words, and I asked if he might be interested in sharing part of himself here.

At first he was hesitant, unsure if it was something he was comfortable with, and understandably so. But after talking things through, he ultimately decided that he’d give it a try; to open up and talk about some things aren’t easy to address. And to his credit, I think this is challenging for guys more than for women, they tend not to talk as openly about things they deal with, so I admire, respect, and appreciate his willingness to put this out into the world, in the hopes that others may read it- men and women- and be able to relate, and maybe even find comfort in it.

For him, I hope he knows the impact that sharing can have, that every conversation we start is another voice added to the collective mix, and that it might be as helpful to him- cleansing even- as it hopefully will be to those who read this and struggle with similar things. This is about being honest and real online and in life, about trying to advocate that no matter what you face, no matter how overwhelming it can feel, you are not alone. This is Will’s story to share, and I cannot thank him enough for letting me help put it out into the world. Life is messy, it’s far from perfect, but it’s not without it’s beauty; sometimes you just have to fight a little harder for those beautiful moments or make them happen for yourself.  I’m proud to call this man my husband, and you’ll see why. Behind his cheeky smile is a man who loves his family unconditionally, puts himself last, and has a strength found from navigating some interesting challenges. We wrote this post together and I think it’s about as honest it gets. So here we go…

You can’t tell by looking at me, but I struggle daily with some health- related challenges that have affected me for more than a decade. I’m going to be 31 this year and have dealt with many of these things for half of my life. This isn’t about wanting attention, or wanting a pity party. As a guy, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to these things and open up about them, but I also know the overwhelming feeling of isolation all too well- that feeling that no- one else understands- and facing that alone is not healthy. 

I have lived with depression and anxiety since my mid teens, and have in recent years lived with chronic pain including myofacial disorder (this causes the body to feel pain unrelated from anything affecting it at the time- also known as referred pain- when you can experience pain for no apparent reason).  It can feel like a vicious circle sometimes: the pain can trigger the anxiety and bring on depression and vice versa, my body responds before I have time to stop it. Going through life with these things isn’t easy. It’s changed every aspect of me. It’s changed my outlook on life- it tends to now be more dark and pessimistic; it makes me feel angry for what I’ve been faced with- and I have to work against this to stay positive. But as much as it can be challenging, I’ve also a learnt a lot from what I’ve experienced.

I don’t talk a lot about it with people because I feel judged, like it’s used against me. As hard as some people try to understand, there’s no way for them to. And I think as a guy you get treated differently because we’re expected to be tough and strong- to ‘man up’ and not talk about it. Women tend to talk more, and get sympathy and compassion. Let’s be honest, guys don’t usually talk much anyways, especially when it comes to problems. And obviously you’re not going to get support if you don’t talk about it, and that’s where it can be challenging as a man living in pain. But that’s why it’s important to talk about it. 

Sometimes I feel like these issues have robbed me of who I should be. I feel like the real me is locked away and the key has been tossed. I’m not able to do as much as I want; I’m limited. Time is limited. Energy is limited. It’s hard to feel understood; getting love, support, and understanding is difficult because it’s something you can’t see. These things have made me more reclusive and anti social simply because it’s hard for people to understand. People often can’t tell I’m having a bad day; somedays it’s obvious by the look on my face, or maybe with how I carry myself. But on many days I hide it well- because I want to be strong for my family, and I hate thinking of this as my identity. But that doesn’t mean on those days I’m not suffering or in pain; it can make you feel isolated and alone. Like a prisoner trapped in your own body. I feel like I’ve lost sense of who I am, I don’t know who Will is anymore.

I live with these things everyday, which can get exhausting. It’s the same fight everyday just to keep my head above water and it can make it difficult to enjoy life the way I want to; many of the things I used to enjoy I can’t because of the pain.  This can make you become very reclusive. People don’t understand; it’s difficult to explain and people often can jump to conclusions. I feel like I’m constantly judged for things that go on behind the scenes, for things that people can’t see. And I think that’s why it’s important we talk about these things, so others facing their own challenges know they’re not alone. It’s always comforting to speak with others who do understand and are going through the same or similar- and it’s a source of comfort speaking to them and knowing they feel the same way, face the same challenges.

Through everything, I’ve really learnt the importance of having a positive attitude, but will also be the first to admit it’s damn hard some days. You definitely have the days when things get the better of you and you throw yourself a pity party. But on the good days when you have a positive attitude it definitely helps, and you can remind yourself of why you do the things you do, why it’s all worth it. The pain’s always going to be there, but I can choose to be miserable and stay in bed all day or choose to be positive, to get up and live life. Mind over matter really does make a difference.

If I could give any advice to others struggling with similar things, it’s this: Don’t let the pain stop you from living life. Going out and living it will actually make it better. And sometimes you really aren’t doing it for yourself; you’ll do it for a loved one, push yourself for a loved one, and afterwards you’re glad you did.

A lot of times it’s easier to do things for other people because it’s easy to say no to yourself, avoid things for yourself. I find it’s harder for me to let others down than to let myself down; I want to make my loved ones happy and that pushes me even on the tough days. If my wife and kids weren’t in my life, I wouldn’t be working as much as I am; family is a good motivator (even if they can make life crazy and wild sometimes) they’re the motivator and reason to keep going, to keep trying.

To those who don’t suffer but are trying to understand for a loved one: things that help are love, patience and understanding. I don’t choose to suffer the way that I do and I have no control over it. I do what I can to make things better where and when I can, to stay positive, but it’s rarely that simple. It can be frustrating for loved ones and I know they can lose their patience, but it helps when we feel loved and supported, even if they can’t understand what we’re going through.

To those who are suffering from chronic pain- or have another challenge they’re facing: Focus on the positive and you’ll find the positive. It helps. It can turn a shitty day into a good day. If you focus on the negative, all you’re going to find is the negative and I know that first hand. Know that you’re not alone and make an effort to connect with others who do understand, if only to help you keep your sanity intact.

For our family, we are working on finding things that work for us: improving communication within our marriage, speaking with counsellors, and setting realistic, flexible goals as things to look forward to and get us through the tough days have helped. Eating healthier and exercise have also made a difference. There is no formula, you have to find outlets that work for you, but they do exist. 

We hope sharing about this contributes to the conversation of tough topics in a positive way, to help break down the stigmas surrounding mental health and other challenges people face. Whether you are the person struggling with something or you know someone who is, we hope sharing about our journey helps in some way. Like the saying goes ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’- you never know by looking at someone what they may be facing in life, and sometimes something as simple as a smile or a hug can be the thing that turns someone’s day around. Life isn’t always happy and positive, sometimes you have to find your happy place, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean it’s not there. You just might have to work a little harder, but you’ll appreciate it that much more once you get there.

Photo credit: Ally Fotografy

Special thanks to The Free Reign Life and Ally Fotografy for helping us share our story. To learn more about how you can help end stigmas around tough- to- talk- about topics and be a part of the positive change visit The Free Reign Life  and #makeitREIGNcampaign on Instagram. 

 

 

March 16, 2017
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For the Guys: Products He’ll Love

Posted in Fashion, Guys, Style by

One of things I wanted to share more about on the blog this year is stuff for guys. I feel like there are so many amazing options out there for us ladies and the kids, but wanted to scope out some of the products made for the guys in our lives. Whether you’ve got a hairy fella like I do who’s in need of some grooming products, a guy who loves his beer, or who just likes finding new things to try, I rounded up a variety of local brands to share some ideas guys will love.

We like to support local/ small business as much as possible and we’re lucky to have so many great options locally to choose from. Aloha Kai (‘Super Blessed’ hat) and Locomotive Clothing (t- shirt) both make great pieces for everyone in the family, with a great selection of items for men. If your favourite man doesn’t like carrying a bulky wallet but needs something for his essentials like cards and cash, the handmade leather wallets by Bomber Supply & Co are a great solution, and come in 3 different colours.

If your man likes his products (or maybe you’re trying to encourage him to use some- beards need taming after all 😉 ), there are plenty to choose from that are made using high quality, natural ingredients; nothing weird or full of chemicals. Nothing is over powering in terms of scent, and whether your fella is looking for shaving products (think that mug, shave soap & badger bristle brush by The Printed PugIs It Bath Time Yet?), beard grooming essentials (how about beard shampoo and oil from The Badass Gentleman’s Collection by Red Lemon Natural Living?), or just a good bar of soap to wash the dirt of the day away (that dark bar by OnceUpon Bath & Body contains olive oil, seas salt, and activated charcoal to keep skin healthy and clear), he won’t be stuck for ideas. And if he’s in need of some TLC and unwinding, the brown sugar & fig candle by Caribou Candle Co is a great scent to help him relax while he’s in the shower (even if they won’t admit it, I know a few guys who don’t mind a candle or two). 

…And how about when it’s time to unwind a little? There are so many great local breweries to choose from- many liquor stores now have a great selection or you make a date night out of it and visit the brewery to try out what they’ve got to offer. Trading Post Brewing is one of our local favourites and you can get growler fills at their Langley brewery. Now how to get all that beer home (or maybe you’re giving some to someone special)? Stock up on some good bottles and pop them into a wood caddy (this one is handmade by CPC Woodcraft); they’re great for transport and make an attractive addition to a home bar or man cave. And when it comes time to enjoy those brews, Shop Ava to Zoe makes a variety of handmade leather items including these ‘Brew, Enjoy, Empty, Repeat’ leather coasters that will keep drips off furniture but manly enough they won’t mind using them. Win- win for everyone. 😉 

    

I hope this round- up gives you some ideas for the man in your life to try! I loved learning about how many locals offer products for guys and we’re enjoying trying out the shaving and beard products as Will continuously experiments with his facial hair (so far the man bun/ ponytail has been left intact). I’d love to hear what guy products are a hit in your family!

Product Info

Clockwise from top left

‘Super Blessed’ hat- Aloha Kai | Instagram: @alohakaiapparel

Sunglasses- Will’s own

‘The DarkNite’ activated charcoal soap- OnceUpon Bath & Body | Instagram: @onceuponbathbody

Beer- Trading Post Brewing | Instagram: @tradingpostbrewing

Beer caddy- CPC Woodcraft | Instagram: @cpcwoodcraft

Beer theme leather coasters- Shop Ava to Zoe | Instagram: @shopavatozoe

Brown sugar & fig candle- Caribou Candle Co | Instagram: @cariboucandleco

Shoes- Will’s own

Moustache mug, shave soap bar & shave brush- Collab with The Printed Pug | Instagram: @theprintedpug &  Is It Bath Time Yet? | Instagram: @isitbathtimeyet

Leather ‘Wingman’ wallet- Bomber Supply & Co | Instagram: @bombersupplyco

Beard Oil & Shampoo- The Badass Gentleman’s Collection by Red Lemon Natural Living | Instagram: @red.lemon.natural

Tee- Locomotive Clothing | Instagram: @locomotiveclothing

Thank you to all of the brands who helped me put together this round up! I hope you enjoy trying their products as much as we have!

 

March 14, 2017
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#PlayTestShare: Spring Break Ideas for Kids + Giveaway

Posted in Family, Kids by

Spring Break starts for a lot of schools next week and it never hurts to have some ideas lined up to keep the kids entertained. Colouring, books, and games are a few crowd- pleasing options that are good for a variety of ages and I’ve teamed up with Raincoast Books to bring you a few activity and game ideas to help keep the kids happy (and your sanity intact 😉 ). I’m sharing about 2 activities from their Spring Break #PlayTestShare collection along with a giveaway for your choice of any one of the games/ activities from the collection to help you have fun with the kids this Spring Break.

We’ve enjoyed several of the books and games from Raincoast books over the last year or so and I love the variety offered for kids of all ages in their #PlayTestShare collections (scroll to the end of this post for a list of other books, games, and activities that have been featured on the blog). Old MacDonald Had a Truck Bingo and Towering Tree Puzzle  are just two of the options from this recent collection that I’ve been enjoying with Ari since we’ve been spending more time than usual inside (I think our weather has forgotten this is the Westcoast & we’ve had an unusual amount of snow making for some cozy inside days). She has enjoyed puzzles from a young age and I thought it would be fun to teach her how to play Bingo (she’s become a pro!), so I picked options suited for her, but there are plenty more ideas if you’d like more reading material or another activity (you can see all of the activities/ games/ books from the Spring Break #PlayTestShare collection here).

The Towering Tree Puzzle features illustrations by Teagan White on 17 large double- sided pieces with Spring & Summer on one side and Fall & Winter on the other. Each piece shows woodland creatures who call the forest home and is about 3 feet long when finished. This is perfect for kids who enjoy puzzles and is a sweet way to teach your kids about nature and the four seasons- Ari kept mentioning how cute she thought they all were. The large pieces make it a fun floor activity and we had fun putting it together- we just had to keep Liam from taking apart our hard work!

   

This is the Spring & Summer side of the puzzle…

 

…And this is the Fall & Winter side

  

Bingo is such a classic game and can make for hours of fun (and yes I mean hours, Ari has asked to play this game a few times a day, every day since we got it). Once I explained the game to her and showed her how to look at the letter and picture she understood how to play within a few minutes. I hadn’t thought of this until we started playing, but it’s also a fun way to teach younger kids letter recognition. This is something we’ve been working on and it was a nice little bonus to go with the fun. This version comes with 6 double- sided boards and features artwork based on the book Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz (there are also counting cards available if you’re a fan of the book and looking for other activity ideas). If you’re a fan of family game night this is a fun option for younger kids- and let’s face it, who doesn’t love Bingo??? 

Old MacDonald Had a Truck Bingo features barnyard animals and construction vehicles and helps little players learn object recognition, vocabulary, and concentration skills. Good for up to 6 players.

     

More About the Activities Featured:

Old MacDonald Had a Truck Bingo A classic family-friendly game gets revved up with a winning combination of construction vehicles and farm animals, featuring artwork from the picture book Old MacDonald Had a Truck . With six illustrated, double-sided game boards plus a set of colourful bingo calling cards and chips, this easy-to-learn game is sure to be a hit at any playdate or family game night.

Towering Tree Puzzle Join adorable critters as they navigate the seasons and make new friends in their towering tree. Imaginative play and puzzle logic intersect as each interlocking branch of this innovative puzzle tells a new story, providing hours of entertainment. Adventure is just a branch away!

 

Visit the Raincoast Blog for more details and a full list of available titles from the Spring Break #PlayTestShare collection.

Other posts with Raincoast Books:

#PlayTestShare Fun & Games with Raincoast Books– featuring ZaZa Zoom (game) and Punch + Play Game Book

#PlayTestShare with Raincoast Books– featuring ABC Word Play Puzzle Book and To The Moon colouring book

The Little Prince Review + Giveaway– featuring The Little Prince Family Storybook and The Little Prince Read Aloud Storybook

Herve Tullet Book Review + Giveaway– featuring books:  Mix It Up, Press Here, and Let’s Play

Enter to win any one of the items from the Spring Break #PlayTestShare collection from Raincoast books below!

Must be 18+ to enter. Open to Canadian residents only. 

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March 8, 2017
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The Future Lives Here: 3 Things You Should Know About Surrey

       

Growing up I didn’t give much thought to where I came from. I knew I loved being close to the beach and that it rained a lot. I was born and raised in the burbs and that was that, nothing too exciting. It wasn’t downtown and it wasn’t the middle of nowhere, it was just Surrey; in many ways I thought of where I grew up as sort of ‘blah’.

Fast forward a decade or so and my attitude has done a 180. Now living in Delta I’ve moved just outside the city I grew up in and have watched it begin to change and evolve; I have a new appreciation for the place I called home for most of my life. As an adult I recognize some of the benefits of being from Surrey: it’s central, surrounded by natural beauty (you can’t beat those views of the North Shore Mountains and Mount Baker on a clear day), and made up of a diverse population; things you take for granted or simply don’t care about as a kid. And it’s potentially only going to get better. It isn’t perfect- nowhere is- but so much is changing in a positive direction that it’s hard to ignore.

I knew plenty of people as I grew up who weren’t proud to say they were from Surrey. It just wasn’t the place you wanted to tell people about- especially as a girl (see this post)- but I’m seeing that shift. I really love where I’m from and know others who talk about the positives of growing up where we did and are now raising their own families there. The City is changing- I’d say for the better- and I hear about it regularly from my realtor brother who keeps close tabs on it’s progress. Living in the Lower Mainland, affordable housing is a challenge and it’s something he is now addressing with his clients- whether first time home buyers or seasoned incumbents looking for investment properties- and since this is something I know many struggle with, we wanted to share a few reasons why the City we grew up in has way more to offer than people may realize.

I’m excited to team up with Steven to share about some of these changes and hopefully help shine a light on why it’s a great place to call home no matter what stage of life you’re in. I asked him to show me some of the changes happening in the City and we spent an afternoon checking out the City Centre and touring a local town house development so I could get a deeper understanding. He’s sharing the 3 things he thought people should know about Surrey and why it’s a great place to call home below. It’s amazing how you think you know a place, but working on this post with him I learned and saw things about the City I grew up in that I had no idea about.

Here are the 3 things to know about the City that raised us:

  1. Reputation. When you ask people about Surrey, the answer doesn’t tend to shine a positive light on the City. Surrey has often had a bad reputation, especially with those who didn’t grow up there; unless you’ve seen the good side of it for yourself, the City is judged before it’s given a fair chance. Many people tend to have a negative perspective on the city as a whole, failing to notice the changes that are now being made everyday to transform Surrey into a world- class city alongside the likes of Vancouver.
  2. Surrey is currently undergoing a major transformation and with soaring house prices throughout the Lower Mainland, is attracting attention from those who would have previously looked outside of the City for living options. Improvements are diverse, ranging from affordable living options for families, to luxury condo developments- including the 52- storey Civic Plaza high rise in the City centre. The City of Surrey has taken steps to appeal to buyers- whether first time purchasers, or those already established in the property market- aiming to provide an affordable quality lifestyle. For those considering a move, Surrey is an ideal locale providing affordable options that will only increase in value as the City continues its transformation.With more than 600 hectares of land, Surrey already boasts a variety of appealing benefits for those who choose to live or set up business there, including: 101 elemantary schools,

    19 secondary schools,

    Easy access to SFU and other post secondary institutions including a new 30000 square foot space at KPU

    University campuses including SFU and KPU

  3. Accessibility- 35 minute commute to downtown from City centre

    Continuing to invest in and build major developments (60 major projects have been completed since 2000 involving ambitious changes to the City Centre including a new library, city hall, and plans to improve the local rec center and public transit)

  4. 2. Growth. What about growth makes an area appealing? When a community undergoes major changes, there are underlying benefits that come in a variety of forms:Population growth requires the ongoing construction of new housing and civic facilitiesNew buildings bring a fresh appeal to the area for both residents and businesses

    Transit and community programs expand to accommodate the growing population

    The local economy expands and diversifies as new businesses are attracted to the area, providing employment and commerce opportunities

  5. Attracts the next generation of young professionals as the local economy grows and expandsWhile major changes are happening to the City’s centre, efforts are being made throughout Surrey and it is anticipated that by 2041 it will surpass Vancouver as the most populated city in BC, welcoming an estimated 300,000 new residents every year. Surrey is a great example of civic growth, with plans to improve public transit (the City has committed 2 billion dollars over the next 10 years to this alone) and construct an electric Light Rail Transit (LRT) that will help more than 195,000 residents get to where they need to be everyday. The current gem of all the development in the City’s core is 3 Civic Plaza, a $150 million project that will result in a 52- storey multi- use building that will include a 144- room hotel, 349 apartments, and 5 floors of office space.

  1. 3. Affordability. This is one of- if not the– most talked about topics when it comes to real estate in the Lower Mainland and there is a lot of stigma surrounding it. But the truth is, Surrey offers a variety of affordable options with benefits that cost a premium in other markets, such as Vancouver.
    Some of the perks of living here include:It’s an excellent market to take advantage of the 5% down payment helper Accessibility to public transit (with plans to improve it over the coming years, see above)

    Value for dollars spent compared to Vancouver

    Numerous new community developments throughout the City + more than 1,300 businesses located around the City centre alone

    Lower strata fees in newer buildings

    Million dollar views under $500,000 (how beautiful are all those mountains?)

  2. Variety- condos, town homes, and detached housing provide options for everyone from first time home buyers to established home owners and property investors, with new developments throughout the City

Whether Surrey is your home or you’re thinking about moving and considering your options, I hope this showcases the changes the City is making and demonstrates it’s appeal. There is more to Surrey than many people realize and sometimes it’s about giving a place a chance before you judge it. With all of the changes and improvements around the City Centre and throughout Surrey, it’s an optimal time to invest in this market as it begins to draw attention and appeal to a wider selection of buyers and investors. And as the saying goes, ‘The future lives here’.

A big thank you to my brother, Steven, for providing insight and information for this post. I learnt a lot about Surrey as we worked on this together and his passion for real estate and the City of Surrey shone through the whole process. If you’ve got questions about the local market or are considering buying/ selling in the area, he’s a wealth of knowledge and a proud member of the community. If you want to learn more about his real estate services, see below.

Facebook: Steven Miller- Real Estate Specialist

Instagram: @thestevenmiller

For more information about The Surrey Girl Project, click here.

Information source: Surrey.ca

 

March 6, 2017
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Oh Kale Yeah! Healthy Family Expo 2017 + Giveaway

Posted in Events, Health by

 

I’ve shared quite a bit about our family’s journey with health and wellness, with much of our experience centring around diet and more recently, fitness. With two members of the family having food sensitivities and an overall effort to make healthy lifestyle choices, it isn’t always easy and convenient, but we’ve seen the difference these efforts make. Some of the things we had to do cold- turkey (Ari going gluten and dairy free) and others we’ve added in over time (juicing regularly, more home- made meals and snacks, growing our own organic food, exercise), but in either case, learning about the options available to us and speaking to others who could share form experience helped inform many of our choices.

Later this month (March 26), one of my favourite events will be returning-Healthy Family Expo– and with it an amazing array of vendors whose goal it is to help attendees incorporate healthy choices into their lives. Whether you are looking to incorporate eco- friendly options into your home, want to try some new additions to the family menu (kale anyone?), or scout out some new fitness ideas, you won’t be disappointed with the variety of vendors the organizers line up. I’ve been to every HFE since it began and can’t say enough good things about the event; it’s also family- friendly, making it perfect for parents who bring the kids along (kids 15 and under get in free). Want to check it out for yourself? See details below plus get a 2- for- 1 promo code for tickets. See you there!

About the Healthy Family Expo

The Healthy Family Expo is a fun-filled day for the whole family that introduces Metro Vancouver parents to small steps & simple solutions for healthy, active, eco-friendly living.

Date: Sunday, March 26

Time: 9am- 5pm

Location: Vancouver Convention Centre (East Building) – 999 Canada Place Way

Tickets: Kids 0- 15 Free | Adults 16+ $15 | VIP Adults $24.95

Click here to purchase tickets online- use promo code OHP241 to get 2- for- 1 tickets!

  • Adult Expo tickets are $15 each online, cash at the door, or available at London Drugs from March 1-26.
  • Kids under 16 get in FREE and ALL ATTRACTIONS are included with admission!

Highlights of the 4th annual Healthy Family Expo:

  • Meeting popular CBC Kids characters Daniel Tiger, Super WHY!, Bookaboo & Scout
  • Bobs & LoLo and Jessie Farrell concerts featuring songs celebrating the natural world
  • HUGE Active Kid Zone with rock wall, giant hamster ball race track, Tumblebus & TumbleTown, Springfree trampolines, Sportball & Pedalheads play areas and more
  • 200+ exhibitors with healthy food sampling & eco-friendly products & services
  • Whole Foods Market Zone, London Drugs Health Zone, and brand new Toyota Canada Outdoor Living Zone, West Coast Kids Healthy Baby Zone, and Green Living Zone
  • Science World fire show and ninja & tumbling demonstrations on stage
  • Vancouver Aquarium AquaVan interactive zone for kids
  • $15,000 Grand Prize Showcase including a 1-year lease on a Toyota Prius c
  • Baby feeding & changing lounge with complimentary diapers, wipes & comfy seating
  • Family Rest Stop courtesy of Love Child Organics and lots of stroller parking
  • First 500 adults through the door receive a gift bag full of healthy product samples
  • First 200 adults through the door receive an adult pass to Science World; an
  • Partial proceeds of ticket sales support Canucks Autism Network sports programs.

Springfree Trampoline is a new addition to this year’s Active Kid Zone at the Expo. It’s a smart active living choice that delivers fun for the whole family and you can test-drive one for yourself at the event on March 26th.  And guess what? There are 2 chances to win one for your family!  One lucky family will be taking home a Springfree Trampoline through the Expo’s early bird ticket draw, and another one as part of the Expo’s Grand Prize Showcase (visit the Healthy Family Expo website for terms & conditions for those giveaways). That’s a prize valued at over $3000!

 

To get involved in the fun:

  1. Join the Expo 2017 Facebook Event to RSVP to win thousands in prizes at their March 23rd pre-Expo Facebook Party from 8 to 10 pm
  2. Buy tickets early to qualify to win a Springfree Trampoline
  3. Grab 2-for-1 adult tickets online using limited time promo code OHP241 

And to kick off the pre-Expo celebrations, organizers are giving away a $200 Healthy Family Expo 2017 shopping spree that one lucky winner will get to spend on their choice of exhibitors at the event on March 26th! This online giveaway runs from March 6 – 22, 2017, and the winner must be a British Columbia resident aged 19+ able to attend the Healthy Family Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre between 9 am & 5 pm on March 26 to pick up and use the prize that day.

Enter for your chance to win through Rafflecopter below.

The winner will be announced at the pre-Expo Facebook Party on March 23rd, 2017!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 4, 2017
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Proud to be a Surrey Girl #TheSurreyGirlProject

 

If you follow the blog on Instagram, you will have seen me talk about this in the past few weeks. It is something I am so excited about and can’t wait to launch later this month. I love where I’m from and proud, but the truth is there is still a lot of stigma surrounding Surrey and one thing in particular that I want to see changed: I want to change what people think about when they hear the term ‘Surrey Girl’.

If you’re not local to the area you may not know what I’m talking about (but chances are you do, because I’ve met people on the other side of the world who knew what a ‘Surrey Girl’ was), but for those of you who’ve spent some time in the Lower Mainland, you’ve probably heard the term, and we all know it isn’t meant as a compliment. And if you’re from Surrey like me, you’ll likely have been the target of cheeky/ rude/ derogatory comments because of where you’re from. And that’s a big part of why I wanted to see this project through- because I’m tired of the stigma and that even as an adult, I can’t escape the title of ‘Surrey Girl’.

 Since that term doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, I thought why don’t we change what it means? Change what people think of when they hear the term ‘Surrey Girl’? And that is the message behind The Surrey Girl Project: that being a female from Surrey is not a bad thing, that we are strong, diverse, and talented girls and women proud to be where we’re from. Surrey has come a long way and I’ve been shown some of those changes (more on that in another post), and I’d love to see more positive momentum continue on a level we can all participate in. The City isn’t perfect- where is?- but why should we pause when people ask us where we’re from and alter the answer because of the anticipated responses we might get (and yes, we get them- ‘ooooh you’re a Surrey Girl’ *wink wink*)?

So what is The Surrey Girl Project? 

The project will be a collective effort between OHP and several local businesses and organizations to create a series that features women from the area- born and/ or raised in Surrey- and highlight their talents and diversity, to show how amazing it is to be a Surrey Girl. Our hope is to flip the term upside down and give it a makeover. We’ll have fun with it, have a few laughs (because let’s face it, there has to be a little bit of humour with this, at least to start given what we’re trying to do) and hopefully start to change what the term means and what pops up when you search #SurreyGirl. I’m sure there will be some cheeky comments, some eye rolls, and critics, but that is exactly why a project like this needs to exist: to infuse positive and make change. I don’t expect every single female in Surrey to come on board, but for the ones who like what we’re doing, even if just a little bit (whether they still live there or have moved elsewhere), I hope they’ll help us make this project amazing.

The project will launch here on OHP later this month including a collection of photos of the women selected to be featured in the first series (we’re hoping there will be more to come), with individual profiles being featured on Surrey604 in the months following the launch. Thanks to Locomotive Clothing, each lady will be showing off her City pride in a Surrey Community tee, with Ally Fotografy helping us capture the message behind the project with her beautiful photos. We are also hoping to shoot a large group photo of any ladies interested in supporting the project as a fun way to include as many supporters as possible. 

We hope to have fun, create something amazing, and trigger some positive change. Be the change, right? So here we go. 

Want to be involved? Show support?

Here’s how:

If you like what we’re doing and want to help spread the word, please share about the project on social media and tag us #TheSurreyGirlProject  (add in #SurreyGirl too so we start loading that hashtag up with good things!).

If you’d like to include a Surrey Girl sign in your photo, I’ve created a few printables to choose from like the one in the photo above. To print, simply download and choose which one you want to use. Have some fun with it and tag us so we can see how you’re helping show what a Surrey Girl REALLY is! 

TSGP Printables

A BIG THANK YOU to the partners who’ve helped bring The Surrey Girl Project together so far:

Surrey 604 | Ally Fotografy | Locomotive Clothing

 

 

March 2, 2017
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Spring Break Menu Plan

It’s kind of crazy to think about, but Spring Break is just around the corner… What’s everyone doing- are you heading out of town or staying close to home? If you’re stuck for meal ideas to get you through the week, I’ve got you covered!

Whether you have the kids home all week or are sending them off to camp/ activities/ the grandparents, let’s try and make the evenings a little easier, shall we? I’ve rounded up 5 of my favourite meals that the whole family will love, each taking less than 20 minutes to whip up, with a few slow cooker ideas so you can prep everything ahead of time and have dinner take care of itself.

…Now if only the wine would pour itself! 😉

There are two ways to check out the Spring Break Menu Plan:

or

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 
February 23, 2017
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Pay it Forward: #Joygiver Campaign

Posted in Uncategorized by

What was the last thing someone did for you that made you smile? For no reason other than to make your day better? It could have been as simple as holding a door open for you, or paying for your coffee in the drive through. Random acts of kindness don’t have to be grand gestures and can sometimes be the turning point in an otherwise not- so- great day. And when we get these little opportunities to brighten someone else’s day, why not act on them and pay it forward?

You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and I’ve had days when a kind word from a stranger or a simple smile have turned my mood around. The world isn’t a perfect place, there will always be things going wrong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take little opportunities to make it a better place, to insert more positivity into it. And the added bonus is that we tend to feel better ourselves when we’ve done something nice for someone else. Win- win at it’s finest.

So on that note I’m happy to share about the Joytv #Joygiver campaign that runs until March 1st. The goal is to encourage individuals and communities in the Greater Vancouver Area and Fraser Valley to spread joy through random (or not so random!) acts of kindness. When you do something kind for someone, Joytv is also sharing the love, and giving away seven $100 gift cards for gourmet coffee when you share about your act of kindness on social media and enter on joygiver.ca to encourage others to take part and spread happiness (winners will be drawn the first week of March). It’s the chance to make someone smile, make their day a little better, and maybe get treated yourself. So now the question is: who would you do something for- whether a stranger or someone you know, this is a great chance to pay forward some positivity and kindness.

Stuck for ideas? Here are a few suggestions:

  • call a friend just to say and remind them they’re important to you
  • compliment someone- love their shoes? awesome bag? beautiful smile? 
  • make a donation to a charity you care about
  • drop off some food and/ or clothes at the local food bank
  • buy the person behind you in line their morning coffee
  • hold the door open for someone (bonus points if you smile when you do it)
  • buy a $5 or $10 gift card and slip it into a loved one’s wallet with a note to surprise them (or leave in a random place for a stranger to find)
  • leave an extra big tip for your favourite server (throw back to my serving days & how much this brightened my day)

See Joygiver.ca for more ideas to pay forward a little kindness

Visit Joygiver.ca by March 1, 2017 to share your random (or not so random) acts of kindness with the hashtag #Joygiver for your chance to win 1 of 7 $100 gift cards for gourmet coffee.

For more info, visit joygiver.ca and find Joy TV on social media:

Facebook  | Twitter  | Instagram

#Joygiver

 

February 21, 2017
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Roast Potato Soup

Posted in Recipes by

Before I say anything else, let me just put this put this out there: is there anything better than potatoes and bacon??? I won’t sit here and tell you this is the healthiest soup recipe out there, because it’s not. But it tastes AMAZING. This is a soup for when you’re craving comfort food- something hearty and filling- and what delivers that better than carbs?

My brother gets all the credit for this recipe, he’s an amazing cook and he was super nice and not only shared the recipe with me, but gave me tips along the way to make it as delicious as possible (tip: when it doubt, add more butter! 😉 ). The ingredients are simple and the results are all kinds of YUM, I hope you give it a try next time you get a craving to make soup!

This tasty soup recipe is featured over on the La- Z Boy Lifestyle Meets Comfort blog this month and you can find it hereBon appetit y’all! 

Like it? Save it for later! 

 

February 16, 2017
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