Who *is* that girl?

-Carly in

Hello! Welcome (back) to Tenth to the Fraser! Here’s a little introduction about me, Carly Fryer, your new resident collaborator, cultivator, curator and keeper.

Jen recently asked me if I would be interested in continuing the tradition that is Tenth to the Fraser. About two years ago I introduced myself to Jen at the New West Farmers Market. We’d interacted over social media and I recognized her from photos so I went up and introduced myself – “I’m Carly, you may know me as @theregoescarly.” (Seriously, that’s how I introduce myself to people that have only known me on social media.) Jen saw some potential and later recruited me as a board member for the New West Farmers Market where I am the Board President (as many of you know Jen was also a previous board member and President). Now I have been gifted a huge responsibility of steering Tenth to the Fraser.  Thank you Jen! (I also promise I will not join the McBride Elementary PAC and three-peat filling the impressive shoes of Jen.)

Who is Carly Fryer you may ask?

  • I am a resident of New West and have been for just over 10 years.
  • I enjoy walking, running and hiking as well as exploring our city as much as possible.
  • In 2011 I moved to London to work for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and prior to that I worked for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • My cat, Lucy, is a constant source of amusement.
  • Hawaii (Maui) is one of my favourite travel destinations. You may see a few photos pop up here and then.

As is tradition with Tenth to the Fraser, outside contributions and content is welcomed as well as ideas for collaboration. I preface this with the fact that I work full-time and commute at least two hours a day. So my time and energy might be limited but I find with a new challenge I am often re-energized. If you see me around please feel free to say hi, drop me a line or give me a high five.

Bring it on!

Vegan New West – the New Kids on the Block

Whether vegan, veg-curious, taking part in veganuary, or just into good food, New West is becoming something of a vegan mecca. Delicious options are everywhere and more restaurants are offering veg menus or items that are specifically marked. It’s good to be vegan in New West!

V Cafe – 789 Carnarvon St

Warning – gushing ahead.

I love V Cafe. There, I said it. I could eat at V every single day, but usually try to keep it to a modest 2-3 times weekly. Look, I’m not the only one – whenever I go in, I usually recognize half the folks as regulars.

Nadine’s V Cafe How-To Guide


Everything looks delicious, but you can’t eat it all in one go.

Start with the lemongrass chicken salad roll. One order comes with two generous rolls.

Don’t be embarrassed that you’ve been back three days in a row. You are now ready to move on to the pho. They’ve also got a curry soup with noodles or bun that is a great cold weather meal.

Is the top of your mouth scalded from daily pho consumption? You may now want to progress to the banh mi. I’m partial to the lemongrass chicken but their entire fake meat selection is delicious (and I’m not even a fake meat person! I’ve brought in non-veg folks and they were overwhelmed by the yumminess too!). I like a banh mi with their small bowl of soup.

You are now ready. Order the vermicelli salad bowl. It’s everything in one big party – different types of fake meat including the lemongrass chicken, vermicelli noodles, thinly cut veggies, the sunshine salad dressing. I have more to say about it, but you’ll have to excuse me…I’ve got to head over to V Cafe to get my fix.

Insider tip – ask for their homemade hot sauce!

Wild Thyme– 705 12th St

If you haven’t yet tried Wild Thyme, I’m not sure I should even be telling you about it. New West’s worst kept secret, this little gem is located on 12th Street. They recently expanded from a teeny, tiny hole in the wall restaurant. Prepare yourself: it packs a garlic punch.

Step 1. Bring a friend. The portions are big enough to share.

Step 2. Let the owner know you’re vegan and order the cauliflower bowl.

Step 3. Dig into the warm pita fresh from the oven, fluffy and breathing off hot steam. Use your fingers.

Step 4. Salad.

Step 5. Loosen your pants and dig into the cauliflower bowl.

Step 6. Pack the leftovers in the Tupperware you wisely brought along.

At one time, Wild Thyme was ranked the second-best restaurant on Yelp. Second best in Canada. For their 2017 year in review of best places to eat in Canada, Yelp placed Wild Thyme at #3.

If you think I’m exaggerating then I know you haven’t tried them yet.

Banh Mi Bar – 722 Carnarvon St


The owners are charming. The location is handy. The prices are reasonable. And they have a vegan option with vegan mayo!

I find it hard to believe that not too long ago we were almost banh mi-less in New Westminster. Fortunately for us, there has been a proliferation of Vietnamese sandwich joints open up over the past couple of years.

If you like crusty bread, this is a great option. I like it with hot sauce and jalapeños — what’s your banh mi styling?

Pizzeria Ludica – 601 Carnarvon St

 Like vegan pizza? What about board games? Pizzeria Ludica just opened in New West and it seems to be a roaring success. Roll the dice and check out this new restaurant! Ludica substitutes daiya cheese at no extra cost and their crust is vegan. I recommend the cheesey spinach which has three types of cheese you can substitute out. Sub daiya, mushrooms, and ….? They have a pretty decent selection of board games and the staff will teach you how to play new games. I’m currently 2-0 at Battleship if anyone wants to challenge me!

Pho Pho You – 441 Columbia St

 Noodles? Hot soup? I’m in.

When this spot on Columbia Street first opened up, I popped my head inside and was disappointed to find out they didn’t have anything vegan. I was delighted to learn that not too long after this encounter they created an entirely veg menu!

They have a regular pho and a spicy pho that come with all the fixings – mint leaves, bean sprouts, lime.

I’ve had great and not-so-great experiences with their spring rolls – the great experience was good enough that I’ll definitely give them another go and I encourage you to try for yourself!

Warm up on the cold and mucky days ahead with some glorious soup!

Ramen Hachi -120-888 Carnarvon St

This newly opened spot in the New West skytrain station has only three soup options at the time of writing, one of which is vegan! The noodles are on the thin side, the broth flavourful with a healthy helping of sesame seeds. They also have a vegan gyoza option. I found the gyoza dry-ish, but also a refreshing change from overly oily dumplings. The service was an absolute A+.

If you’re a noodle aficionado like me, you’re sure to appreciate this place. The ramen drought in New West is over!

Piva – 787 Columbia St

If you can’t already tell from by my restaurant recommendations, I’m not the trendiest person in town. I did try Piva soon after they opened after hearing they have a separate vegetarian/vegan menu. They are located on the happening corner at 8th and Columbia Street, in the base of the Anvil Centre. The view from the windows is pure New West. The restaurant is beautiful and the service excellent. I’m infinitely grateful whenever restaurants identify vegan options or items that can be made vegan. It always saves the awkwardness of asking, the server having to go ask the chef, then returning to say that no, it has eggs or cheese, then having to look at the menu and ask about another item initiating a repeat of the process.

I digress. I tried the margarita pizza subbing some of the most delicious mushrooms I’ve eaten recently for cheese. My dining partner had the nono pasta. His pasta was good, but did I mention the mushrooms? Juicy and flavourful. Next time I might just have the mushrooms. And wine. Definitely worth a try if you’re going for a fancy night out.

 

New West Needs Great Service Businesses Too! Limina Spa

When I first moved to New Westminster, in September 2011, all the talk was about how New Westminster needed some new business that weren’t Dollar Stores, Car Repair shops and Bridal Boutiques. Since then, a lot of great new businesses have come to New West- bringing more quality products and services.

Often the talk about the quality of the businesses revolves around restaurants and retail establishments. But New Westminster needs more then great restaurants. Susan, owner of Limina Spa, believes it’s time for New Westminster residents to have access to high quality spa services without having to travel into Vancouver. Susan is eager to get the word out about her spa and the quality services and experience it provides. Recently, she invited Jen Arbo and myself to come and experience her spa first hand.

When talking with Susan it is clear that she loves the community here in New West and is passionate about her business. Since she opened in about a year and half a go at the Shops at New West Station, she has seen a fair amount of construction outside her door- something she worries may be impacting potential customers from discovering her Spa. But she believes strongly she has something unique to offer New Westminster.

I was excited to try out Limina Spa—it has been a while since I had gone for a massage. For me, going to a spa is about the whole experience- not just the service itself. I love the calming music, sense of peace, smell of subtle natural essential oils. I like to go somewhere that has a great atmosphere and has clearly thought about the details.

Limina Spa did not disappoint. The hot stone massage I had was amazing- one of the best massages I have had—and I have visited top spa’s in both Vancouver and Calgary.  Susan explained to me that many places just place the hot stones to warm up the skin and increase circulation- they do it a bit differently- they actually use the stones in the massage itself.

Jen said “The facial I had at Limina Spa was seriously the best facial I have ever had, and I am a spa junkie and have had a lot of facials. It was relaxing, all encompassing, and I felt completely taken care of during the facial. It was customized to me personally, and I walked out of there positively glowing.”

I noticed while I was in the spa that they had been named by the New West News Leader as a finalist of one of the best places to get a facial in New Westminster in 2012- so obviously Jen is one among many who feel that way. Their pedicure lounge is lovely and would be great to book for a pedicure party for a bridal shower, birthday party or other celebration.

The prices Limina Spa charges are higher then other places to get similar services in New West, but are very much in line with prices elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. To offset it they offer an Elite Membership ($29/yr) which gets you about 10-15% off the regular price of spa services. Each month, members are also offered a special at a further discounted rate— March’s special combines a full body exfoliation with a massage for maximum pampering.

Overall, Limina Spa is the type of business I want to support: local, run by a dedicated small business owner and offering quality to New Westminster.

Limina Spa

263-800 Carnarvon Street
The Plaza at New West Station

Hours:
Monday 10am-6pm
Tuesday 10am-6pm
Wednesday 11am-7pm
Thursday 10am-6pm
Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday By Appointments

(604) 525-0805
info@liminaspa.com
Facebook
Twitter

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Disclosure: Jen and I received spa services at no charge as a part of Limina’s invitation (facial, hot stone massage, pedicures, and underarm waxing). We were not asked to write this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 

From #NewWest to New West (Or: how Twitter inspired me to join my Residents’ Association)

New West Twitterati shared their thoughts about Residents' Associations in response to this week's New West Wednesday post on the topic.
New West Twitterati shared their thoughts about Residents’ Associations in response to this week’s New West Wednesday post on the topic.

Back in 2009, I wrote a guest post on Tenth to the Fraser entitled, “Taking the plunge into community involvement”. I’m hoping at the end of this post I can convince one of you to take the plunge.

It’s a topical subject, with Briana’s recent New West Wednesday’s topic asking about people’s involvement (or not) in their local residents’ associations. Commenters are discussing their experiences and I’d have to say mine’s been overwhelmingly positive, which certainly makes me a bit sad about moving away.

While I’d most recently been living in New Westminster since 2007, it was really in late 2008, and after I joined Twitter that the city started to really become a community to me. A lot of the local digerati were beginning to coalesce around the #NewWest hashtag (it’s been a battle between us and a hiphop sub-genre but I think we’re winning). Connecting with real neighbours through virtual communities prompted me to become more active in my neighbourhood.

I wasn’t really sure what went on but I thought I’d check out a local meeting of the New Westminster Downtown Residents’ Association. While just a renter, it was interesting to learn more about local issues, even if there wasn’t always a direct impact on my life. Some meetings drew bigger crowds than others, usually when people were quite passionate about topics such as the UBE or there was new info about civic projects, but there was always something to learn or be updated on.

One thing that always seemed important to the directors was how to get more people out and informed about where they lived. I made the observation that the group was collecting emails from people registering but not using them to communicate to residents, so they asked if I could help out.

Like many others, I never knew that a simple request would lead to a more formal commitment. I ended up serving as a director for the past two years and in addition to providing some meeting reminders and additional community announcements, I also started a Twitter account to live-tweet the meetings. Seeing the engagement, having people send in questions to remotely ask the speakers, and receiving thank yous from those who couldn’t make meetings, was really rewarding! (Full disclosure: I’m a big geek about information and communication technology and its impact on society.) While some people see local community building and politics as overly partisan, my experiences were lucky enough to simply be about giving something back. Even better, it helped me make friends in a lot of different parts of the community.

I’ve been able to meet various city staff and some of the councillors, business owners — both new and long term — and developers that have been reshaping the city skyline. I’ve met residents from other associations. I’ve had a chance to meet people involved in the Royal City Farmers Market Association. It seems like I knew more people at Shakespeare in the Queen’s Park and the Hyack Festival. I was meeting a lot of other folks passionate about building a strong sense of community, like those involved in N.E.X.T. New West. Attending (and volunteering) gave me a lot more pride in the happenings of the city and interest in the changes. There always seemed like a lot of conflicting ideas on what was best for New Westminster and a tension between the city’s historic past and its future but it has been great to meet so many people that care about their neighbourhood.

All these benefits and it only cost me $5 a year for a family membership and an evening every two months to attend the meetings. I was also able to take part in organizing and running two community block party BBQs that allowed hundreds of local residents to mingle with neighbours. (After last year’s tenth annual event, we decided to take a hiatus this year. It was becoming so successful, that we were outgrowing the group’s capacity to handle in that format. New ideas for next year’s event are welcome.) Unfortunately, it’ll be my last meeting coming up in a few weeks on May 25, 2011 (7pm at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parish Hall – 514 Carnarvon Street), as I’m headed out east for more school.

If you’ve always wanted to check out what goes on at residents’ associations, I’d really encourage you to come out. If it seems like something you’d like to get involved in, you could run for a spot as a director at the AGM in September and/or for any of the digitally savvy out there, the group could use a hand with sending out the occasion email and tweeting meetings. (If you’re not a downtown resident living between Royal and the River, check out the city’s website for your local association.)

It’s been a great time living in New Westminster, getting to know friends and neighbours and watching the city change and grow. (I’ll be glad to can keep up with the going ons in the city through Twitter and Tenth to the Fraser.) Thank you all for making it a wonderful experience!

New West Hyacks the Web

A Twitter search for #NewWest
A Twitter search for #NewWest

A little less than two years ago, I went looking for an online community of New Westminsterites online. The virtual version of New West was a pretty lonely place back then. I found a few bloggers. A few more on Twitter. A handful of Facebook groups.

I was thinking of launching a blog about life in New West, but when I saw how little local activity there was, I wondered whether anyone would even read it. Then I found an active local photography group on Flickr, which was encouraging. Will and I decided to go ahead with the blog, just for the fun of it.

We created the first incarnation of Tenth to the Fraser on Blogger, where it’s easy (and free) to start a blog – and even easier to abandon it if you lose interest. But the more we wrote, the more fun we had and the better connected we felt to our community. We started making new friends, shopping at more local businesses, and taking more time to learn about local issues. We started to see New West in a different way. As we slowly started to meet more people online and we got involved in more civic events, we became not just residents but active agents in a changing community. We became empowered.

I created alerts for Twitter and Google for New West, and I reached out to bloggers and Twitter folk who wrote about our city. A few of them ignored me. But a lot of them became readers and some even became contributors to our blog. I learned that I had been mistaken. It wasn’t that New Westminster didn’t have many people online. It was that the people who were online didn’t identify themselves as being part of our community. The more that people Tweeted and blogged about New West, the more people started owning up to living here.

We wrote a lot about New West, and gradually we saw other people do the same. We started using the #NewWest hashtag on Twitter, and then our friends did too. Then their friends did, and their friends. Now the local newspapers do too.

There is a perception that blogging is passive. But through the last couple of years I’ve seen how it can be used to inspire change. Cheekily, we said the goal of Tenth to the Fraser was to “Hyack the Web.” By that, we meant to chivvy New West to hurry up and become a more digital city. What we didn’t foresee was the offline change.

Today, there is not only a parallel digital community in New Westminster that lives on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, but also new offline friendships and activities that would likely never have existed were it not for #NewWest.

A few examples:
@duckbeaver and @weskoop were inspired to become part of their resident’s association, and have live-tweeted council meetings. Both have also volunteered their skills to benefit local organizations.
@jenarbo changed her mind about moving to Vancouver Island and instead bought a house in New West. She also became the market manager for the Royal City Farmers Market – a job she likely wouldn’t have even known to apply for if she didn’t write a blog (and through it become a TF contributor, then friend).
– If I had never started Tenth to the Fraser, I would never have called together the committee that organized Summerfest in Grimston Park.

#NewWest is bigger than one blog, of course. We got the ball rolling, inspiring more people to represent themselves as New Westminster aficionados online. In the chain of events that followed, there were a bunch of cool things that happened because of what we did. But it’s even cooler that people no longer have to find Tenth to the Fraser to find #NewWest.

Today #NewWest is a vastly different place than two years ago. One big change is that there is now an institutional presence in social media.
City Hall and both local newspapers are active on Facebook (The Record) and Twitter (The Record & The Newsleader). Two councillors are tweeting (Jon Cote & Betty McIntosh), several comment on local blogs and Facebook pages, and many more at City Hall keep tabs on what #NewWest voices have to say about New Westminster.
– A number of local reporters are starting to use #NewWest for story leads.
– Local businesses and organizations like the BIA are also experimenting with using social media to connect with their customers.

Best of all, if the last two years are any indication, #NewWest’s online community-building chatter will inspire more people to get involved offline.