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Summer Dessert Spots in Vancouver

by Annette Cheung

I’ve always had quite the sweet tooth since I was a child, so it would not be a surprise that desserts have always been my favorite part of a meal. When we are at restaurants, I’m always eyeing their dessert menu before looking at the actual appetizers or main course. With Vancouver having evolved into a foodie heaven in the last few years, it’s great to know that new desserts spots have started to pop up throughout the city as well. Whether you love ice-cream, donuts, macarons or other sweets, Vancouver will probably have it and so I am excited to share some of our family favorite summer dessert spots in the city!

  • La Glace
    When you first step into La Glace, you will be reminded of a Parisian ice-cream shop. The decor is gorgeous and they serve French style ice-cream, freshly made pastries, coffee and tea. Their upcoming summer menu will include Key Lime Parfait, Avocado Toast, Kids Parfait and Macaron Ice-cream Sandwiches. The macarons ice-cream sandwiches are the perfect size if you are craving a little something sweet! Our little ones loved their macarons ice-cream sandwich and devoured it within seconds! La Glace has become one of our go-to family ice-cream spots.

  • Lee’s Donuts
    There are a lot of great donut shops in town, but Lee’s Donuts is still one of my favorite shops. I love walking around Granville Island with the family on a summer’s day and stopping by Lee’s window to watch them make donuts! When we do catch them making donuts, we will rush inside and order one of their freshly made batches. If we’re lucky, they’ll have just made their honey dip donuts – one of their signature donuts. We usually order half a dozen to bring outside so we can enjoy them at the benches while we watch the entertainers under the warm sun. The donuts truly melt in your mouth!

 

  • Passion 8 Café
    If you have a craving for a cold icy dessert, Passion 8 Café offers a variety of snow mountain combinations. Their snow mountain is made of 100% shaved milk, so it’s light and creamy. My kids’ favorite is their Mr. Choco Brown, which is homemade brownie and chocolate flake, with chocolate flavor ice-cream on snow mountain. It’s definitely perfect for the chocolate lover! Other great things to try are their special toasts topped with different flavors and their list of creative drinks.

 

  • Beta5 Chocolates & Cream Puffs
    Beta 5 has a little of everything for everyone. Their chocolates are amazing and the flavors and presentations are very creative. Beta 5’s cream puffs are exceptional as well and they always bring out seasonal flavors. In May, they will be introducing their ice cream sandwiches and ice cream by the scoop. Each weekend will feature a new ice cream sundae flavor with two delicious scoops of their house made ice cream, garnished with a variety of toppings.

  • Dragon Ball Tea House
    Summer would not be the same without bringing the kids for bubble tea. I have been going to Dragon Ball Tea House since I was in University, so it has been many years and the quality of their bubble tea has not changed. When you order their black tea or green tea, you can taste the tea with the accompanied flavor unlike other bubble tea house. One of our favorites is their Lychee Green Tea as it comes with pieces of lychee. Their mango milk tea slush is also another family favorite. They are a must try for bubble tea lovers.

 

  • Laduree
    All the way from Paris, Laduree has set the bar high for macarons. They have become one of our favorite spots to pick up a few macarons as treats for the little ones. The macarons are quite delicate with a crisp outer layer. The macaron is usually filled with ganache or jam and we actually found them not as sweet as other places. Laduree is a gorgeous venue that reminds you of Paris. I’m happy to have a little Paris in Vancouver. There are so many great dessert spots in Vancouver, but these are just some of my favorites. It was really difficult to narrow down this list as there are so many amazing dessert places I love to go to with my family. Hopefully you’ll also love these places as much as we do.
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Summer Party

HOSTING A SUMMER BIRTHDAY SOIREE

By Jessica Wright, Photography by Sweet Dreams Studio

Summer can be one of the best seasons to throw a memorable and fun birthday party for your little one. We recently celebrated my daughter turning four with an “Oh La Llama” celebration. It had all the vibes to inspire a summer gathering and with it, I will share some tips for throwing a successful bash as things start to warm up outside.

Pick A Theme

For some, selecting a theme can be one of the best parts of party planning. Whether it be unicorns or pirates or maybe even simply your child’s favourite colour, remember you don’t have to go over the top in ensuring the theme is represented in every party aspect. Rather a couple subtle and simple elements can go a long way. For example, I often choose plain serving ware with white tablecloths, then add themed napkins and tablescapes into the mix.

There are many easy DIYs that can take your party to the next level. Take my mini jars filled with artificial succulents and “sand”. Or rather brown sugar…the perfect sand alternative. Similarly, effective decorative aspects can be made using simple materials from the dollar store. I created a “fringe” backdrop by cutting folded tissue paper and strung pastels balloons together with clear wire to create a photo wall backdrop.

Finally, ditch the goody bag and send partygoers home with something they may actually use. How cute are the personalized accessories from Plum Polka Dot? These can be used as either bracelets or hairs ties and are sure to be a hit with kids and parents alike, while also matching your theme.

Choose Location & Activity

Since many Vancouverites live in small spaces, hosting a number of kids at one’s home just isn’t possible. While summer provides the perfect opportunity to host an outdoor park or beach birthday, our unpredictable weather can deter one from choosing that option. That being said, there are a number of unique local alternatives that young attendees will sure enjoy.

Some of my favourite venues include Maplewood Farm, Bittersweet Kitchen and the Vancouver Performing Stars studio, where we held my daughters last party. Whether your child is an animal lover, a future baker or a dance addict, each one provides a fun activity and great party space.

Keep the Spread Simple

Let’s be honest, kids are all about the cupcakes and birthday cake when they show up to a party. So don’t stress out on what food should be served. Keep it straightforward, with an array of fruits, veggies and a few salty options. These can pair well with mini croissants or a selection of kid friendly sandwiches. Of course, barbequed meat or pulled pork sandwiches are a great option come summer, depending on the party’s location.

Sweets, Sweets and More Sweets 

We all know it is the delicious sweet treats that make birthdays so special. Dessert tables and candy bars continue to be on trend for kid’s parties. Mini confections are displayed so guests can sample an array of goodies. In many cases, treats can match the theme and are best done in neutral tones, such as creams or pastels.

Keep in mind anything on a stick is always a hit. Whether it is chocolate dipped marshmallows, fruit kabobs or sugar cookies baked on a stick, kids are drawn to anything that they can hold and easily enjoy. How cute did the cactus cookies from my daughter’s party turn out? Let’s just say they did not last for long!

So if you are hosting a birthday, a barbeque or pool party this summer, keep in mind, the best ones are those with celebrated with friends and family. Though a few of these party elements are sure to be enjoyed!


About Jessica

Jessica is an educator and mother of two living in Vancouver who shares her life and passions on her blog “This Sweet Happy Life”. She started blogging to focus on what brings her true joy, which is her family, celebrating occasions, decorating spaces and educating not only kids, but, parents alike.

Instagram: @thissweethappylife

Website: http://thissweethappylife.com

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Father’s Day DIY Gift Idea

Father’s Day is coming and here’s a great DIY gift idea for all the fathers out in the world: make your Dad a special, personalized Gummy “Beer”!

How to make it:

  1. Print the label from the below
  2. Find an empty beer bottle and rinse and dry it (or substitute with any soda bottle)
  3. Fill the bottle with his favorite treats
  4. Cut a label from below and apply glue to the back
  5. Cover the bottle label with the fun Father’s Day label
  6. Wait for Dad’s smile and give him a big hug!

Your DIY Father’s Day gift is done!

Download the PDF below for the bottle labels for the Father’s Day gift:

VKFW Father’s Day DIY Print

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Groupons for Places Where Moms Can Relax on Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is just two weeks away! Take a day off and spend a little alone time or gather your girl friends for a long overdue day out. We listed down 5 groupons to help you enjoy your day without the guilt of splurging.

1. Shangri La Body Care

Shangri-La Body Care is currently offering a spa package (with up to C$324 value) in a hot deal of C$75. Perfect for moms looking for the relaxing full package that will not break the bank. The deal includes Hot-stone massage, Body-slimming wrap and a choice of one of their 15 facials or treatments. The caviar firming treatment is a good choice for those seeking an antidote to signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin; the vitamin C facial, meanwhile, helps make skin look luminous and benefits clients of all ages. Then there’s the purified seaweed facial, which draws out toxins, and the diamond microdermabrasion facial, which gently removes the topmost layer of skin, helping products better penetrate. These and more others to choose from!

2. Harbor Wellness Centre

Conveniently located in the heart of Gastown, Harbor Wellness Centre is currently offering C$65 90-Minute Relaxation Massages (originally costs C$135). During each massage, certified practitioners combine Swedish and deep-tissue massage to promote full-body relaxation. Swedish massage helps promote healing while targeting pain, injuries, stress and stiffness using gliding, kneading, tapping, friction and light shaking—designed to ease back pain and help relaxation, while deep tissue massage uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It’s used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.

3. Selfology Spa

For moms who are looking for a way to take a day off from parenting duties with their partners or even a quite girl’s night to catch up with a girl friend, add Selfology Spa’s Couples 60-Minute Hot Stone Massage package to your itinerary. The C$189 package (valued C$520) includes a one-hour hot stone massage with aromatherapy and two of your choice from their add-ons (Seaflora Facial, Mud Detox for Back, Body Wrap, Eye and Lip Chamois Treatment Mask, Eyebrow Tint, Eyelash Tint, Eyebrow Wax or Lip Wax) for each person. If you’re looking for some alone time they also have this deal tailored for one person for only C$99!

4. Classic Cuts Hair Salon

If you’re looking to pamper and give your tresses some lovin’, Classic Cuts Hair Salon’s all in one treatment might be what you’re looking for. The package, originally valued at C$350, includes keratin treatment, wash, haircut, and style. The best part? It’s currently 53% off on Groupon – bringing down the total to C$165 for the entire treatment.

5.) Vinoscenti Vineyards

A wise woman once said “The secret to a stress-free life, is wine – lots of it” (sure i added the last part, but you get what i mean). This mother’s day, gather your mom squad and take the day off to enjoy the local wineries around BC. Vinoscento Vineyards is currently offering wine tour, tasting, and charcuterie for one, two, or four people. Sale prices starts at C$15 (yes you read that right).

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The Best Places to Get Pretzel in Vancouver

We’re making it easier for you to celebrate National Pretzel Day. Below are five of our favorite places to get pretzels from in Vancouver! Whether you’re looking for chocolate dipped, paired with sausage and beer or a pizza and pretzel hybrid, we got you.

 

1. Bestie

Not only known for their sausages, beer and currywurst (YUM). This German restaurant also boasts the holy grail of pretzels! Match it with their variety of soups or just plain beer.

Find them at: 105 E Pender St (btwn Columbia & Main), Vancouver, BC

 

Pizza Pretzel pretty please?! Yup, it’s happening! #alliteration

A post shared by Swiss Bakery (@swissbakeryyvr) on

2. Swiss Bakery

They have pizza pretzels. Do i need to say more?

Find them at: 143 East 3rd Avenue, Vancouver, BC

 

3. Tap & Barrel

Nothing is better than giant pretzels for brunch. Also a must try from their sides & share menu is their soft baked pretzel with warm beer and cheddar sauce, and phillips blue buck mustard.

Find them at: 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver, BC V5Y 0C2 // 

 

4. Deutsches Haus (Vancouver Alpen Club)

Serving some of the best German favorites (pretzels included of course), their pretzel appies are a crowd favorite. You can also pair it with the youzhe beer and sausages. Perfect for game night!

Find them at: 4875 Victoria Drive, Vancouver BC V5N 4P3

 


5. Purdy’s Chocolatier

Let’s face it, the list is not complete without anything covered with chocolate. Our favorite? Purdy’s dark chocolate covered pretzels!

Find them at: #D5 – 700 West Georgia Street Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1E7 // and other locations

 

 

BONUS: Justin’s

The best and our favorite pretzels to go! Justin’s pretzels dipped in the best things in the world (i’m looking at you almond butter) was probably the highlight of my fashion week. It was a pretty hectic week but somehow i was still able to manage to sneak in to backstage every once in a while for the “occasional” almond butter dipped goodness.

Peppermint Bark, A Sweet Festive Treat

Three Holiday Markets You Can’t Miss This Season

The Holidays are just around the corner. (We know, where did the time go?) Here at VFW we love our local Vancouver entrepreneurs. So, we’ve put together our top three Holiday Markets in the Vancouver area. Check them out and maybe this year you can put a little local love under the Christmas Tree.

Fall for Local Holiday Market

Entrance Fee: $3 Online – $5 at the door
When: December 9 – 10
Where: The Pipe Shop Venue
115 Victory Ship Way

First on our list is the Fall for Local Holiday Market. They’re passionate about small business and curate modern pop-up markets all throughout the year that collaborate with local vendors. The FFL Holiday market is really pulling out all the stops this Christmas season. In addition to access to 85 independent vendors your ticket will include, free coffee provided by Waves,  the access to a free gift wrapping station, a DIY station with Fioraio Floral Design, and on top of all of this the first 50 attendees will receive a free tote. FFL makes it easy to support your local businesses this season. Find out more about Fall for Local here!

Vancouver Christmas Market

Entrance Fee: $8
When: November 22nd – December 24th
Where: Jack Poole Plaza (1055 Canada Place)

Second on our list is the Vancouver Christmas Market. This community staple is stocked full with events from November 22nd through December 24th (that’s right you crazy last minute shoppers). Nestled between the city skyline and the waterside mountain view, it’s possibly the most photogenic market on this list. Children will have the opportunity to meet Santa at selected times everyday. There’s also a beautiful carousel featured right in the center of the market. There is an abundance of curated reputable vendors. You’ll be sure to find plenty of great and unique gifts for everyone on your list. So, whether you just want to walk around with a cup of coffee, a few gourmet snacks, and enjoy the lights, or shop till you drop. It’s a fresh alternative to commercial malls this season. Learn more about the Vancouver Christmas Market at their website.

Crafty Affaire Holiday Market

Entrance Fee: $2
When: December 16th
Where: Croatian Cultural Centre

Located at the Croatian Cultural Centre this is the place for Local Handmade Holiday Shopping. Due to such high demand this year they are adding an extra room to the cultural centre to accommodate more vendors. This means more opportunities for you to find unique gifts and stocking stuffers this season. As usual there are also plenty of food vendors to keep you satiated during your shopping. Get more information about Crafty Affaire’s Holiday Market here!

Words by Deanna Rule

Images courtesy of Vancouver Christmas Market, Crafty Affaire & Fall for Local

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Meal Planning Tips for Busy Families

by Jean Lomas-Hamilton

Between work, school, daycare, sports, and whatever else you have going on, family life can be challenging to choreograph. As working parents with a toddler and now a newborn, meal planning has been our saving grace to ensure everyone is fed and happy in the small window between getting home and bedtime. Here are my top tips for coming up with a weekly meal plan that works for your family:

Plan your meals to fit your life, and not the other way around. When planning what to eat, consider what else you’re doing that week. For days when your schedule is packed, choose simple recipes that will come together quickly. Save more elaborate meals for less busy days, or plan to make some components in advance so you’ll have less to do at dinnertime.

Post your plan somewhere visible. The whiteboard on our fridge is my favourite kitchen acquisition of the past two years. I use it to map out all our meals and activities for the week, along with any advance prep needed (for example, a reminder to take chicken out of the freezer or mix long-rising dough a day in advance) and a grocery list. I also save everything into my phone for easy access from work, but the whiteboard has been a game changer since it decentralizes responsibility for the weekly schedule – so whoever gets home first can see the plan and get dinner started.

Plan a little every day. With two small kids, I rarely have time to sit down for long enough to dream up a week’s worth of meals all at once. Instead, I chip away at it daily, jotting down ideas as they come to me. That way when our grocery shopping day rolls around the plan is ready to go, without the need for extra “thinking” time.

Make extra portions. I often make a large batch of whatever we’re having so we can either take leftovers for work and daycare lunches, or freeze them for an easy dinner on nights when the plan goes off the rails. Comfort foods tend to freeze well, which makes fall and winter ideal times to do this – and with the busy holiday season approaching it’s always nice to have a few quick meals on hand (pro tip: freeze soup, chili, or curry lying flat in a Ziploc bag so it’ll defrost quickly when you need it).

Minimize waste and maximize your pantry. Some items are sold in larger quantities than we’d normally use in one recipe (looking at you, fresh parsley). In those cases I try to plan multiple meals with that ingredient to use it all up. Otherwise, I’ll either omit the ingredient entirely, or substitute something I already have on hand. I also keep a list of “to use” items on our whiteboard so I can incorporate older pantry goods in my planning.

Be flexible. I initially worried that meal planning would be too regimented for me – what if I worked late and didn’t have time to cook? What if we just didn’t feel like eating what was on the schedule for that night? But the beauty of planning your meals and shopping in advance is that you already have all the ingredients on hand to make last-minute changes without the hassle of heading to the store again. Just switch things around and have something you planned for another day – et voilà! Problem solved. For added flexibility, I try to plan at least one dinner that can easily be carried forward to the next week without the ingredients spoiling.

Learning how to meal plan effectively was definitely a process of trial and error for us, and while the fact that I’ve never met a list I didn’t like definitely helped, it still took some time to figure out what worked for our family. Meal planning isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour but the above guiding principles have helped keep our bellies full and our sanity (mostly) intact – and I hope they’ll do the same for you and yours.

BE A DYNAMIC WOMAN: The Secret Code to Being Confident, Wealthy & Successful Women

by Diane Rolston

Sadly, we think we must follow unspoken rules we must follow in order to be accepted. Rules that dictate how we dress, look and even talk. Rules like society’s titles, labels, and roles from your job, family, and anywhere else, past or present. The problem is they define us and confine us. Instead, ditch society’s titles, labels, and roles, including ones from your jobs, your family, your upbringing, and any other titles from the past that you’ve had.

Q: What titles do you currently hold? How are they limiting you?
Even the positive labels you might have embraced because you performed really well under them and were even rewarded for them. Let them all go. Instead stand in being “Dynamic”. When I started Dynamic Women™ in Action (DWA™), I tried to come up with a word that could incorporate all kinds of women, something that was all- inclusive. The word “dynamic” is powerful, and it’s active. Rather than having titles separate us and create hierarchies using the word “dynamic” incorporates everyone, and attracts all kinds of people. We’re all actually dynamic!

Q: What makes you Dynamic? Ex. passionate, creative, organized.
Being dynamic is a powerful movement because it crosses generations, cultures, economic status and all possible situations. It unites us and makes us equals.

Being a Dynamic Woman™ also allows you to:
 Control your outcomes
 Boost your opportunities
 Increase your satisfaction & success
 Feel more confident
 Leave perfectionism behind

Without fully going through the 9 Pillars of being a Dynamic Woman™ here are 5 tips you can apply today to get started:
1. Focus on who you are (Drop the labels)
2. Embrace all your talents and skills
3. Be authentically you
4. Embrace change
5. Be unapologetic!

I invite you join the movement. Take a simpler, more successful path and BE DYNAMIC!

Fall Shopping Tips for Busy Parents: Save Time, Money and Stress

by Lara Leontowich

Fall is crunch time for most families with back-to-school and work in full force. Shopping can take up a large chunk of time and be tough on the family budget but it is an ongoing necessity. For parents looking to save money or streamline a system to make weekly shopping trips easier, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Plan Weekly Meals In Advance

Sitting down and organizing meals for the week makes it easier to stick to your family’s weekly food budget. Such preplanning also relieves the ongoing stress when the all too familiar question arises at 4pm “What are we having for dinner tonight conversation?” It is easy to rely on a quick convenience food or head to a restaurant when everyone is hungry and nothing is defrosted. Planning ahead is the way to prevent this pattern. Let your children be involved in meal planning, which can get them receptive to healthy meals you are preparing. Chances are they will likely be more willing to trying new dishes too. Many families are now using easy meal-planning apps to organize meals and create shopping lists based on ingredients needed for each meal.

Research Flyers and Websites Regularly

Ever walk into the store only to realize you’ve forgot the items you went there for in the first place? Shopping with children can cause anyone to become frazzled and distracted but most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to do it alone on a consistent basis. Creating a shopping list with everything you need to buy in a typical month will help you stay organized. This will make it easier to forecast when you might run out of the last toilet paper roll or need more garbage bags. For those who are budget-conscious, research your weekly flyer in print or online for deals on commonly used products that your family uses. Check out the websites for big box retailers for weekly sales that will help you budget before you run out and have to buy at regular price.

Simplify Shopping for Children’s Clothes

As each season changes, keep in mind that your child may have outgrown key such staple items as jackets and shoes, so watch for off-season sales year-round. In the fall, when you take a closer look at all your child’s pants you stored away for the summer, you may soon discover your son or daughter has grown a few inches. This change may go unnoticed during those warmer months when your children are typically wearing shorts. Shopping for children’s clothes can be tedious. So before “crunch time” (when the weather suddenly turns cooler, and your children needs new pants) sort through your children’s clothes and determine the items you want to keep; those that are worn out and those they have outgrown. This gives you a clear idea of what you have, and what you need to buy. If your child hasn’t worn some clothes in over a year, consider selling or donating those clothing items. To identify the clothes your child has not worn in a year, put all the hangers on the rack backwards at the start of the school year. If a hanger is still backwards by the time the next school year rolls around, you will soon be able to identify clothes your son or daughter is not wearing. As parents, it can seem that our life is consumed with shopping of one type or another. Whether it is weekly grocery trips or hitting the shopping mall for children’s clothes, preplanning is the key to making the process a smoother one.

Lara Leontowich

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