Secret Santa: Community Edition # 6

Here’s number six in our River Market Secret Santa series. (Numbers 1234, and 5. ) 

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.

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This instalment’s shopper is Erin Jeffery, aka Erin the Fantastic. She’s a resident, a volunteer and works for the Uptown Business Association and Tenth to the Fraser. Erin opted to shop for the Canadian Mental Health Association New Westminster Branch. “I used to work for them,” she said. “They do an inordinate amount of work. The staff really believe in their mission which includes education and housing support. Their thrift store is staffed entirely by volunteers with lived experience in mental health issues. Working there gives them an opportunity to get back into the workforce in a safe environment.”

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  1. Toffees – Canteen & Supply
  2. Popcorn – Donald’s Market
  3. Truffles – Donald’s Market
  4. Spiced Winter Cordial – Donald’s Market (makes 4 gallons of punch)
  5. Dark Chocolate Cranberry Chocolate Bar – Donald’s Market
  6. 3D Adventure Sticker Pad – Shnoo and the Pachooch (because they always have things there for the parents who need to have their kids drop at the office)
  7. Shortbread Cookies – Pamola Bakery

Erin’s wish if someone was shopping for her is probably one shared by many, many people. “Time – I would use it to balance out all the time I give to other people and take some for myself.”

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?

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  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!

 

Canada Day in New Westminster

Canada Day fireworks are at the New Westminster Quay on July 1, 2015
Canada Day fireworks are at the New Westminster Quay on July 1, 2015

For Canada Day fun in New Westminster, head to Queens Park and the Quay this Wednesday, July 1.

The festivities begin at 11:30am in Queens Park, with activities and displays from community organizations and live music in the Bandshell until 3:30pm. The spray park and petting zoo will be open as usual, so there’ll be lots for families to do.

Then, after 3pm head down to River Market for face-painting, balloon-twisting and other activities for the kids. For the adults, head out to the boardwalk to catch some live music outside the Paddlewheeler Pub. The shops at River Market will be open late for those who want to pick up dinner on site.

For the literary-minded, there is a Poetry in the Park event from 6-8pm in the Queens Park Bandshell, featuring poetry readings and an open mic. Poetry in the Park is a weekly summer event hosted by the Royal City Literary Arts Society.

The day will finish with fireworks on the Quay at 10pm. Gather on the Quay Boardwalk near River Market for a great view, or watch in style from the Wild Rice patio (reservation-only seating after 8:30pm, so book ahead if that’s your plan!).

How do you plan to spend Canada Day?

Happening in New West: Thursday, June 24-Wednesday, July 1

Starting this week, writer Laura Grady is contributing a weekly selection of events, activities and other fun stuff to do around New Westminster. If you have an event to add to this list, or want to let us know about something that’s coming up, please leave a comment to let us know about it! 

Opening this week

Mermaids Are Real: A photography exhibit presented by the Arts Council, June 23 - July 19.
Mermaids Are Real: A photography exhibit presented by the Arts Council, June 23 – July 19.

Arts Council of New Westminster: Mermaids are Real
Dive into the mystical world of swimming mermaids. Through a series of stunning photographs, visitors will be swept away into a beautiful underwater world. The exhibit includes videos and the children’s book The Pink Mermaid and Other Tails.
June 24–July 19
1pm to 5pm
Queens Park Continue reading “Happening in New West: Thursday, June 24-Wednesday, July 1”

Give Peas a Chance: Looking for Vegetarian Options in Downtown New West

I love downtown New West. I’ve been working and playing here for more than two years, and even in that short time I have seen it become an increasingly attractive, modern, and hip area that is luring droves of young people and families to its friendly streets. Yet even with the growing number of new shops, restaurants, and amenities popping up around downtown, I still face the daily struggle of finding a decent vegetarian meal when lunch or dinner time rolls around. Considering how well-stocked the area is with cafes, restaurants, markets, and food trucks, this is a surprising (and frustrating) problem.

I’ve been fully vegetarian for years, and these days it’s dead easy to shop and eat out in most places. Grocery stores are well-stocked with meat and dairy alternatives, and most restaurants worth their salt offer at least a few intentionally vegetarian items. What do I mean by “intentionally vegetarian”? This refers to options that were crafted to be vegetarian from conception, not a meat-based meal with the animal products removed upon request (which can often be of inferior quality). With vegetarianism, veganism, dairy-free, and other alternative diets at an all-time high, there is simply no excuse for a modern restaurant not to have a few solid veggie entrées.

That’s why I’m consistently surprised and disappointed by how few great vegetarian and vegan options there are in downtown New West. At the River Market on New West Quay, most of the restaurants have limited vegetarian entrées, and many have no vegan choices. Wally’s Burgers‘ only “meatless” option is a fried egg on a bun (off-limits to vegans and egg-free vegetarians), and some establishments are actually reducing their vegetarian options rather than beefing them up (pun intended). In fact, my initial inspiration for this post stemmed from a recent depressing lunch break in which I was informed by a staff member at Re-Up BBQ that their delicious vegetarian chilli is now made with bacon fat. Ignorance is bliss… (Editor’s note: Re-Up BBQ responded via Twitter after this was published to say that the veggie chilli with bacon fat was a test item on the menu, but the chilli now on the menu “and for the foreseeable future” is vegetarian – BT)

The Shops at New West have a somewhat better selection of vegetarian fare, mostly because the establishments tend to be larger regional or national chains. Yet even the gastropub Hub, where I enjoyed a relaxing patio dinner with my S/O recently, offers only 2 vegetarian options out of their 12 entrées, and 2 of their 5 salads have meat ( sorry vegans – all of them have cheese). For a large restaurant with a seemingly hip and modern vibe, I was once again disappointed.

So where can a hungry veggie get a tasty and reasonably-priced meal in downtown New West? In the River Market, Pamola has a delicious mushroom burrito (although with a generous helping of cheese it’s not vegan-friendly), and the spinach and feta quiche at Tre Galli is a lunchtime staple of mine. Downtown also has several Japanese restaurants with vegetarian options, but my personal standby is Togo Sushi with their tasty wakame salad and yam tempura rolls.

At this point you might be thinking that us vegetarians are too demanding – after all, nobody forced me to go meat-free. Why should everyone have to cater to my personal choice? Yet there are so many more reasons why restaurants ought to offer good vegetarian and vegan options. Firstly, not everyone is meat-free by choice; many people need to be for medical or religious reasons. Secondly, vegetarian and vegan entrées can be great healthy alternatives for those looking to watch their salt, fat, or calorie intake, or those simply looking to boost their daily servings of fruit and veg. Thirdly, intentionally veggie dishes are delicious and unique. Removing protein staples such as chicken, beef, or fish from the kitchen arsenal can inspire chefs and home cooks alike to think outside the box and create exciting new flavours. Finally, vegetarian and vegan dishes are inclusive; they are usually more affordable, and are suitable for most diets, from the most restrictive, to the diehard carnivore. As a vibrant, multicultural, and forward-thinking neighbourhood, I think downtown New West deserves more vegetarian options.

What are your favourite vegetarian/vegan spots in New West? We would love to hear your suggestions!