Christmas in Sapperton

dsc_4259Are you ready to kick off the holiday season with some HO HO HO – then clear your calendar for this Sunday, December 4 from 12-5pm and come join in some free family fun in Sapperton!

A small group of merchants including Cadeaux Boutique, The Bloom Bloom Room, Mindful Mutts, and Good To Go got together to plan this first of what they hope is to be an annual Christmas community event. They decided a community-wide festive street party would be just the thing to connect business and community together. A passport was created listing all the merchants participating along with their free family fun activity at the event; make your own door swags at the Bloom Bloom Room, pet photos with Mindful Mutts, free hot apple cider and popcorn at Cadeaux, photos with Santa at Good to Go, ornament decorating in the parklet for kids, delicious food samples at local restaurants and more. The group also reached out to local talent to include the Quayside Singers who will sing carols from 12-1pm in the parklet as well as Juno nominated singer GinaLina who will follow in the parklet from 2-4pm with more festive holiday music and sing alongs.

The group created this community event in Sapperton to remind residents that there are some really great businesses on East Columbia St and that you don’t have to leave New Westminster to do your holiday shopping or run your errands. Keeping it local was key to this first annual event. The group also wanted to connect with other shopping districts in New West and surrounding communities to highlight everything from healthy smoothies and wraps, boutique blooms, local artisanal gifts, women’s clothing and jewelry, doggie daycare, restaurants, vintage home decor, a women’s only kickboxing gym, local cycle shop and other dynamic businesses located on East Columbia Street.

The passports are available now for shoppers to pick up at one of the participating businesses or during the event. Revellers are encouraged to visit all the participating merchants to check them out, partake in their festivities and fun, get a stamp and then visit the next one on the list. When the passport is complete and all the stamps are ticked off, participants can make their way over to Cadeaux Boutique to collect their complimentary swag bag filled with more goodies from the Sapperton businesses! Of course this encourages continued community connection for both the shoppers and merchants in a positive and fun manner. One more reason for the residents and shoppers to fall in love with Sapperton, and to continue to support local in New West!

See you on East Columbia Sunday December 4th!


Secret Santa: Community Edition # 1

For many, the focus from everyday life turns towards the spirit of giving during the holiday season. This year River Market invited ten citizens from New Westminster to shop for gifts on River Market’s dollar. Many would say these citizens are actively engaged in making this wonderful city better each day. These individuals were tasked to hand pick each item which they thought would make a great gift and their only parameter was that they had $50 to spend. Once they were done their shopping, they would wrap the gift and deliver it to an organization of their choice in New West.

First up was me! Jen Arbo, co-owner of Tenth to the Fraser, perpetual volunteer, and 2016 Citizen of the Year.

Shopping for my Secret Santa recipient!
Shopping for my Secret Santa recipients!


I chose to shop for the staff at the Seniors Services Society. I really admire the hard work they do with our community’s elders and wanted them to have a few nice treats to share as a team.


What did I end up buying?


  1. Tortas – Canteen & Supply – Laura tells me they are by far her favourites, and they are hand made. Sound amazing.
  2. Nice Soap – Jolene’s Natural Soap Works – I’ve bought Jolene’s products before and really enjoyed them.
  3. Hand Lotion – Jolene’s Natural Soap Works – I thought this hand lotion might be a nice pick me up with the lemon verbena scent.
  4. Cheez Poofs – Donalds Market – because who doesn’t love a good cheezie poof?
  5. Prosecco – Paddlewheeler Liquor Store – I chose this rosé prosecco because it was such a great colour
  6. Shortbread – Pamola Bakery – this is one of my fave treats at River Market – loves these little checkerboard shortbreads
  7. Scratch and Wins – Paddlewheeler Liquor Store – you never know, right?
  8. Toffees – Canteen & Supply – love these toffees. So buttery!
  9. Mink – Mermaids Choice Chocolate Bar – Canteen & Supply – These bars are small but packed with so much decadence! I love them.
  10. Gummi Bears – Donalds Market – because no good time is complete without some Gold Bears!

River Market also asked me what I’d ask for if someone was shopping for me and I’d like some BC Ferries gift cards so I could visit my family on Vancouver Island more often, and I’d love it more if people felt compelled to donate the money to their own favourite charities.

The Seniors Services Society team getting their gift!
The Seniors Services Society team getting their gift!


Two Great Arts Events

Two amazing arts and crafts focused events you should plug into your calendar and see if you can make it.

Van Dop Gallery’s 20th Anniversary

The first is this coming Saturday, November 26, from 11 to 5, at the Van Dop Gallery located at 421 Richmond Street. Trudy Van Dop is celebrating her home gallery’s 20th Anniversary with a great party and shopping event. The curated exhibition will feature new works, small masterpieces, exclusive to Van Dop Gallery, and a special collection of artworks, perfect for giving. The Gallery will be filled with festive treasures and hand crafted, one-of-a-kind ornaments and gifts. Gift certificates are available as well!  604-521-7887 or 1.888.981.9886. 


New West Craft Christmas Night Market

New West Craft has your holiday shopping covered! The New West Craft Christmas Night Market returns on Saturday, December 3 at River Market. Shop over 40 vendors selling handmade goods. Enjoy live music and indulge in delicious food from River Market restaurants. This is more than a shopping event–it’s a community experience. The fun happens from 6pm to 9:30pm. For more, check out their Facebook event.


Where to shop for the best prices on fruit & vegetables in New West

Joanne Ho from Nature Village Farms scoops up some blueberries for a customer at the Royal City Farmers Market. Photo: Briana Tomkinson
Joanne Ho from Nature Village Farms scoops up some blueberries for a customer at the Royal City Farmers Market. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

We are a fruit- and veggie-loving family, but when we load up on produce, I try not to do it at the big box grocery stores around here. The average price of produce is just too high at Safeway, Save-On, Buy Low and the like. I read the flyers for the loss leaders and in-season specials, but when I really need to stock up on veg I try to go to one of the local specialty produce stores for better selection, price and quality. Continue reading “Where to shop for the best prices on fruit & vegetables in New West”

Price Check: Chicken Edition

Every week as I steel myself for meal-planning and grocery list-making, I sigh anew at the loss of Thrifty Foods. Without any particular loyalty to any grocery store, I now base my shop around whatever whole foods are currently marked down as loss leaders. I scour the flyers and – if I am feeling energetic – I double check the price book app on my phone to see if the “deal” is really any good. With six mouths to feed in this house, groceries add up, so the time is worth it to me. This week, I thought I’d share my plan in case it helps any of you who are trying to figure out your shopping lists this weekend too.

I prefer to shop close to home, and I don’t like to go to more than one big box grocery store. I price-checked the advertised specials at Safeway, Buy-Low and Save On over the weekend (May 29-31), and this time, it looks like Safeway gets my Big Shop dollars. This week, there are some great prices for tomatoes (99 cents/lb) and strawberries ($2/lb) at Safeway. Armstrong cheddar is also a pretty good price at Buy Low and Save On ($7.99 for 700g), and Save On also has nectarines for 69 cents per pound, cucumbers for 99 cents and a pound of butter for $3.49. But the best local value seems to be chicken, because you can save a lot of money on meat by stocking up and freezing it for future meals.

Whole chickens are selling for $2.29 per pound at Safeway this weekend, and bulk packs of chicken thighs are almost as cheap at $2.99/lb. Compare that price to the cost for chicken breasts: $7.99/lb! And you can’t even make stock if you buy only the breasts! To get the cheap price, you have to buy a bag of three birds, but I have a Chicken System to maximize the number of meals each chicken will provide for our family. You can squeeze a lot of meals out of a few chickens, and even more if your family is on the smaller side. I plan to bring home the limit of six chickens in my grocery cart this weekend, aiming for three meals (each feeding six people) per chicken. I’ll probably freeze four chickens for later, and prepare two birds at once to save time & energy.

Here’s what I plan to do:

Chickens #1 & 2 I will roast side by side in my turkey roasting pan, along with potatoes or beets on the bottom rack of the oven. The skins shall be drizzled in oil, salted & peppered. The cavity will be filled with lemon slices and fresh herbs (probably rosemary, maybe sage or parsley). About half to 3/4 of a whole chicken feeds three adults and three children at our dinners with the addition of salad, potatoes or rice, and some steamed carrots or other kid-approved vegetables.

The remainder of chicken #1 will be dedicated to soup: meat stripped from the bones and saved for soup, bones then simmered on the stove or in a slow cooker overnight with the ends of carrots, celery, onions and parsley stems that I have been saving in my freezer. I find it very satisfying to make stock using bits of vegetables that would otherwise have been thrown away. The stock is cooled, skimmed and stored in various sized jars: several 1-cup mason jars of homey comfort put by for future sick days or to be used in rice, sauces or stir-fries, and at least one large container ready to turn into a later meal of chicken noodle soup with homemade biscuits (a cheap and filling favourite meal around here).

As for that second roasted chicken, I will strip the meat from the bones and use it to make a chicken pot pie and, later, a pasta dish with a little chicken tossed in. The carcass will go in my freezer until I need more soup stock.

Even with all that chicken, I am tempted to also go for the chicken thigh deal. While a whole roasted chicken is a regular favourite around my house, chicken thighs are convenient and easier to make different kinds of meals. If I go for the thighs, I will have to separate the big package into meal-sized portions, to be frozen along with a marinade or packaged together in a crockpot kit with seasoning and vegetables so I can just dump it in the crockpot on a day when I don’t have time to cook. I may also cube some of the meat for kebabs or to add to soups, stews or sauces. It is a lot of work to prep large packages of meat in this way, but it is a big time and money-saver later on. Chicken thighs are also better than breasts for long-cooking dishes like crockpot curry, and although I know how to cut up a chicken into parts, I don’t like doing it.

Did you spot any local grocery deals this week that I missed? What are your strategies for saving money on food without resorting to Kraft Dinner and canned beans?


Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies a welcome addition to Sapperton

There is a significant amount of excitement at my house these days because no longer will my husband have to head to Vancouver to pick up beer making supplies (one of the better known and more popular suppliers in the region has set up shop on Hastings, just east of Main) to knock off a batch of basement brew. Even more exciting is that just-opened-today local business, Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies,  has opted to find space in Sapperton – within walking distance of our house. This bodes well for those doh! moments in home brewing when you realize you have the wrong kind of yeast or not enough hops, or not enough growlers to bottle the batch (although judging from the glass collection under my stairs, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon).

Home brewing has become pretty huge in our house lately. Ross and his friends have started out big, choosing to go all-grain right off the bat, meaning, they are actually boiling up the grains rather than mixing extracts up. It’s akin to starting with grapes when you make wine rather than buying a kit with powders or extracts you mix together. Purists argue it is better beer, and also more controllable or customizable. Once every few weeks, our basement and laundry room are transformed into full-on nano brewery, and I suspect it is only a matter of time before more permanent brewing installations will be suggested for that empty corner of the basement.

Today I popped into Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies to see what owner Curtis Van Marck, had to offer on his first official day in business. Curtis hails from Edmonton by way of East Van, and chose New Westminster as the location for his business because of a large home brewing population in the suburbs, and because of its proximity to the Skytrain. And while I can’t imagine personally hauling 16 pounds of grains to or on the train, the proximity to a Modo car sharing car at Sapperton station is definitely attractive for those who opt not to own their own car.

Van Marck has lined his shop (located at 101-455 E Columbia Street) with tubs of grains, a variety of yeasts, and assorted other supplies like sanitizer, bottle racks, bungs, carboys, and mash tuns. Don’t know what any of that is? It’s okay to ask. On his site Curtis offers some advice and how-to’s to get you going, in-store, he offers the supplies and gear to make it happen (plus a shelf for us wine drinkers and wannabe wine brewers, though that’s not the focus of the shop). Fun feature? A bike powered grain mill.

While inventory is still trickling in, he is now up and running every day except Tuesdays (breaking rank on the long standing closed-on-Mondays-New-Westminster-ism that drives me bonkers) and maintains the following hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays: 10-6, Thursdays he is open later to accomodate those that plan ahead for weekend brews from 10-8, and Sundays 11-5.

You can find Barley’s online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

(If you are into homebrewing in New West, you can also check out the Brew Westminster Google Group (you need to ask to join to cut down on spammers) and use #brewwestminster on Twitter.)