the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the month “October, 2014”

Ultra Rich Asian Girls in Vancouver trailer released

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Will this show be as popular as the short-lived series “Real Housewives of Vancouver”?

Ultra Rich Asian Girls in Vancouver is based on the lives of the daughters of multi-millionaire Chinese-Canadians who are living in Vancouver.  From luxury vehicles to designer clothing – these women have it all. Read more…

My childhood friend is on Dragons’ Den Season 9!!!

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In February of 2014 my pal, Dominica Bay owner of the niche Vancouver fitness concept Pure Vibe Fitness Studio, did something really sneaky. After teaching her last class of the day, Bay changed out of her workout gear, had a quick shower and put on a power suit. She raced down to The Century Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver for what she knew could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Dominica didn’t tell a soul what she was up to, except for her partner (in business and life), Elgan Ross.

“I wasn’t sure where this would all go and didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.”

Facing the Dragons

Where Dominica had gone was to pitch her business, a revolutionary fitness studio that specializes in 20 Minute Whole Body Vibration Fitness and Wellness Classes, to CBC’s Dragons’ Den. What “Vibers” accomplish in a 20-minute class wouldApril 12, 2014 - AM 053 take over an hour to achieve in a regular gym due to their specialized training and high G-force machines.
2 months after that pitch, Dominica and Elgan were on a plane to Toronto where they would face the five highly accomplished dragons including Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, David Chilton, Michael Wekerle and Vancouver’s own Vikram Vij.

“I had no idea what to expect,” Dominica explains. “I went in hoping for the best but I tried to keep in perspective that none of the dragons had a real passion for or background in health and fitness.”

The couple spent almost an hour in front of the Dragons, working up a sweat almost as intense as their Vibe Fitness Classes!

“The Dragons are tough,” says Elgan. “If you think you know your business, one of them will come at it from an angle you never expected. It was an immensely humbling experience.”

Dominica and Elgan will appear on Episode 2 of this season’s Dragons’ Den. Tune in on October 22nd, at 8 PM, to watch them face off with some of the business industry’s best!!

 

Value Village’s #thriftortreat: WIN $100 for this Halloween!

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So…I’m not one of those Pinterest moms, who begins working on their child’s costume on November 1st.  I’m a last minute, spend as little money as possible kinda gal.  Luckily, so far, my kids costume requests have been pretty simple and we’ve managed to get by with inexpensive store-bought variations of characters.  So, this year, when I was invited to the #thriftortreat blogger event at Value Village – I was excited.  The store graciously provided me with $50 to spend on costumes and Halloween decor, so that I could show you just how many options they have for you! Read more…

Christy Clark’s Thanksgiving message to BC women

A few years back I was invited to a “mom blogger” roundtable with Christy Clark.  It was a pretty soft PR move on the part of Clark and her Director of Engagement, former CTV anchor Pamela Martin.  Nevertheless, Christy did get asked some tough questions at that event but, in my opinion, skirted around most of them like a pro.

Back then, I wasn’t necessarily a staunch CC supporter, but I have to admit, I did like her “Families First” platform, and was optimistic that she would deliver on it.  Today, my feelings are strong and solidified.  As a mother, as a citizen of B.C., I am definitely not a fan. Read more…

Why I want to make out with Jennifer Garner

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I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  Actually, if I’m being honest, I just have a hate relationship with my body.

I remember the moment when I became aware that my body wasn’t perfect.  I think I was probably about eight (my daughter’s age).  I was sitting on the floor and a relative told me to put my legs together so that we could look at the shape of them.  She described how perfect legs have a gap between the ankles and calves, a gap between the calves and knees and (most importantly) a gap between the knees and hips.  I learned about “thigh gap” at eight years old.

I don’t have a gap between my knees and my hips.  Never have.  I was blessed cursed with short, muscular legs and I have always been self-conscious about them.  Sometimes I wonder if I would feel the same way if I never learned about thigh-gap.  It really wasn’t that relative’s fault…I would have learned about my horrid imperfection soon enough.

Flash forward to 20 years later when my body gave birth to my beautiful daughter.  After years of adolescence and early adulthood where I was still criticizing and loathing my body, it was doing the most gorgeous and splendid thing possible…yet, I was still not happy with it or grateful for it.  I felt awful in my postpartum skin.  My baggy tummy, my (enormous!) leaky breasts.  All I could think about was how much work it was going to be to get back to “normal”…and I wasn’t even happy with my normal in the first place.

IMG_20141010_161038Today, I still struggle with body image.  I’m not sure I’d believe any woman who told me that she doesn’t.  How can we not…with all the imagery and messaging that we are inundated with from such a young age – how the hell are we supposed to even accept (never mind love) our bodies.

I often look in the mirror at my still slightly rounded tummy…and judge it.  Judge myself – for not doing more to make it flatter.  Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that sandwich yesterday, maybe I should do another cleanse, maybe I’m not working out enough, maybe there’s something wrong with my hormones…

Maybe I should just. fucking. get. over. it.

Yesterday I watched this clip of Jennifer Garner on the Ellen Show.  Jenn’s got a tummy.  Like me.  Like most moms.  She’s not perfect…and she seems (in that moment, anyway) to be okay with it.  That is a beautiful thing.

I watched this clip and, I’d like to say I had some kind of Oprah “lightbulb” moment.  I didn’t.  I know that I’m still going to look in the mirror from time to time and think “ugh…”  But there’s something about associating your children’s names with your body, the body that brought them into the world.  It makes it a TON harder to hate on it.  So, now, I’m going to do that…when I catch myself looking down at my tummy and thinking it’s not flat enough or toned enough…I’m going to picture my children, who grew inside there.

Yup.  I have a baby bump.  It’s name is Cait and Asher.

Thank you, Garner. Like, big, sloppy, wet kiss thank you.

Seven tips for affording your first home

Owning a single family home in Vancouver isn’t always the best housing option for everyone. If you think creatively, there are many other homeownership options.

The prospect of purchasing a first home is overwhelming for most people. In Vancouver, the thought can make your head explode! As someone who has been there, I can relate to how impossible it can feel to get into the real estate market. However, a house in Vancouver proper is not the be-all and end-all! There may be other, very desirable options for home ownership, if you just think a little bit outside the box.

      1. Consider apartment living. People in major cities around the world live in apartments. In New York, apartment living is considered the norm. Perhaps the idea of raising your family in a condo seems restricting, but as density increases, this option is becoming more and more popular with young professionals. You can live, work and play in an urban setting…and often for a fraction of what you would pay for a house.
      2. The suburban solution.   Condo living not for you? There are a number of beautiful suburbs located a reasonable distance from Vancouver’s city centre. From the older heritage homes of New Westminster to newly built communities in Port Coquitlam and beyond, there is something for everyone. And with rapid transit options constantly improving, commuting is becoming less of a hassle.
      3. Consider a more drastic change. If your work schedule allows, you could always consider moving to a more remote area. Places near Vancouver, like Saltspring Island, Kelowna or Squamish are becoming known for attracting many young families who still want reasonable access to the city but are happy to spend most of their time away from it.
      4. Co-op housing. Housing co-ops are becoming very popular amongst young families. The purchase costs are kept low as all residents are expected to pitch-in towards the maintenance of the buildings, landscaping, etc. Many people swear that living in these communities gives them a real sense of belonging in a city that can sometimes feel stand-offish.
      5. Multi-family ownership. In order to make home-ownership attainable, some people have decided to look at purchasing multi-family homes with friends or relatives. This is a great option if you have aging parents who could live in a suite, or another family who you could share a duplex with.
      6. Finding the right financing. Getting a good rate on your mortgage and locking it in is a great way to help keep costs down, but it can also predict your payments and help better understand what you can afford. Look for mortgage rate specials and perks like PC points options from PC Financial.
      7. Find ways to save more. Find ways to save every day, such as using loyalty points to lower your grocery bills and to make other purchases for your home by using a credit card with rewards, like the PC Financial MasterCard. The more you can save, the bigger your down payment.

Just because it’s your first home, doesn’t mean it needs to be a house in the city. There are many ways to think creatively about where you might live and how you can afford it. Today, in cities like Vancouver, you absolutely have to be creative and think outside the box.

What have you done to make home ownership affordable to you?

 

PCF_LOGO_NEW_REDb_073113Disclosure: I am an ambassador for President’s Choice Financial® services and received compensation for this post. However, I am a truly loyal PC Financial® services customer and the opinions expressed are my own.

My distracted driving story

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About 12 years ago, a decision I made could have been fatal.

It was early evening, and I was leaving a class at SFU Harbour Centre.  I remember feeling excited, because I had gotten a new mobile phone.  As I drove my car up Richards street, I came to a stop light.  I took my new, cherry-red, phone out of my pocket and began to punch in the number of one of my friends, excited to make arrangements to meet up later that night.

In the middle of entering the number I looked up to check the light.  Seeing that it had turned green, I accelerated through the intersection.  The next thing I heard was a loud horn and tires screeching.  The rear, driver’s side of my car was smashed by an oncoming vehicle.  As I spun around the intersection, I felt as though everything was in slow motion…I somehow managed to regain control of the car and, finally, came to a stop, facing the opposite direction.  My heart was pounding…my hands were shaking.

What on earth had just happened?  I had a green light!  That person must have run a red and smashed into me.  They must be drunk, I thought.  I was shocked, and upset and furious.

Two bystanders helped my move my car to the side of the road.  The woman who hit me was out of her car and walking towards me, screaming.  She was accusing me of going through a red light…saying she had the right of way.  I was so confused.  Another woman, who had been standing on the corner, said she had seen the whole thing.  I was sitting on a red light and the other woman had done nothing wrong.  The accident was completely my fault.

It took me a while to understand what had happened.  Basically, when I had looked up from my phone the green light I had seen was for the intersection a block ahead of me.  Being distracted, I hadn’t realized this and went ahead, endangering both myself and the woman who (through no fault of her own) crashed into me.

I could have crashed into a pedestrian, I could have spun into oncoming traffic and killed myself…or someone else.  I truly believe it was just luck that my accident was not more serious.

For many years, I denied using my phone had caused the accident. I told people I was changing the radio station and had looked up and seen the wrong light.  I was so ashamed of myself for allowing the seeming urgency of phoning someone from my car to take precedent over what should be the most important thing when you are driving: paying attention.

I feel really lucky that I learned such an important lesson about distracted driving so early.  It infuriates me when I see people texting or talking on their phones when driving.  I got off easy.  Yes, my car was a write-off, but I walked away from that accident and, thank God, so did the woman who crashed into me.

Please don’t think you are immune to being in an accident or causing an accident due to distracted driving.  I really believe that until we hold each other accountable for these kinds of actions (much like we do with impaired driving), not much will change.  Distracted driving is now more lethal than impaired driving — on average, 88 B.C. motorists lose their life in distraction-caused crashes each year.

So, please, learn from my mistake.  Put your phone away…really away.  We are so addicted to our devices today, that it is almost compulsive to check them.   If you see someone at an intersection texting or talking on the phone, hold them accountable.  Give them a beep and tell them to get off their phone.  Sure that’s uncomfortable, but you could save their life…or the life of someone else.

 

Westside story: these are the people in my neighbourhood

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The following is complete hearsay.  Although, I obtained this information from a very valid source (let’s call her “Dunbar Debbie”, a woman in my mother’s walking club), I cannot be completely certain of the accuracy of this tale.  

I grew up in Dunbar and my parents still live in my childhood home.  I now live in the Main Street neighbourhood with my husband and our two children.  Our neighbourhood actually reminds me a lot of what Dunbar was like when I grew up there.  There were lots of young families, many working professionals (nurses, lawyers, doctors, business owners, teachers etc.) and plenty of children to play with.  It wasn’t an an overtly affluent area.  Most of my neighbourhood buddies lived in older, modest homes that their parents were fixing up along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, Dunbar is still lovely.  But, it is not the neighbourhood I grew up in.  House prices are tipping the scales at $2 million (and that is often just lot value).  The odd family will move into these homes but, from what I’ve heard, many are being sold to developers and sitting empty while awaiting permit approval to demolish the existing property and build a new home.

Some of these homes have acquired new residents.  Opportunistic folk, who see the empty house and figure someone else may as well be using it.  These new lodgers are often rats, sometimes coyotes…and, once in a while, people.  One such person decided to move in next door to my mother’s walking buddy, Dunbar Debbie.  Debs had been watching the house next door to her ever since it was sold a year ago.  No new neighbours ever moved in…until this summer.

Debbie began to notice some activity around the house.  There were clothes hanging out on the back porch and lights turning on and off inside.  She figured the owner (who she had learned lives in China) had rented the place out.  She felt happy that the home was occupied thinking, perhaps, now the lawn would get mowed and the pile of flyers would be removed from the front doorstep.

However, Debbie quickly realized that it was not a renter living next door.  It was a homeless squatter, who figured if no one else was going to take advantage of this comparatively luxurious shelter, he was.  Debbie wasn’t sure what to do so she called the city.  She was promptly told that unless there was a “No Trespassing” sign on the property, there wasn’t much they could do to remove the person from the house.

So…up Debbie went to her local hardware store and purchased said “No Trespassing” sign.  She nailed it to the fence of the neighbouring house and gave the City another call.  It took a few calls, but eventually the police came along and moved the fellow along from the property.

Debbie told my mother that she heard from another neighbourhood source that the squatter (and his shopping cart of belongings) have taken up residence in another empty house a few blocks away.

It would appear that, in Vancouver, we have two problems that have, unsurprisingly, come to a head.  Our massive homelessness issue and our empty homes issue.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that eventually those people who are searching for somewhere to rest their heads would take advantage of houses that are otherwise sitting empty.  Come wintertime, when the elements will make sleeping outside less bearable and spaces in shelters become few and far between, I would expect we will see more individuals seeking out refuge in homes they know are otherwise unused.

What are your thoughts?

***

Do you have a Westside Story to share?  I’d love to share more “urban legends” of empty houses and their occupants here.  Email me at thethirtiesgrind@gmail.com.  It’s time residents began to bring these issues to the attention of City Hall.  Until we do, the problems (of both homelessness and unoccupied homes) will go unresolved and our communities and neighbourhoods will continue to erode.

Vancouver Real Estate: city block in Kerrisdale listed for $28 million…

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It’s where the “creme de la creme” of Vancouver society dwell.  Kerrisdale.  Home to expensive boutiques, pensioners, private schools and empty houses.

For the bargain price of $28 million, you could be the proud owner of an entire city block of this prestigious neighborhood.  The land in question is zoned C-2 by the City of Vancouver, which would allow a buyer to knock down the existing buildings and erect a four stories of retail shops, and condos.  A developer stands to make a tidy little profit here.  The current owner has been holding the property for a while, but has recently decided to sell.  I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the possibility that CP Rail could eventually be running cargo trains down the corridor adjacent to this block.  That might make any development a hard sell.  I’m not sure buyers in a Kerrisdale neighbourhood are looking for the same urban grit as those keen to purchase hip condos in Vancouver’s Railtown district.

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But, it begs the question.  Who does want to live in Kerrisdale?  When I was growing up it was considered an affluent neighbourhood, but it was still very family oriented.  There were lots of affordable little rental apartments and numerous families lived in the neighbourhood with their children attending local public schools like Point Grey and McGee.  However, when I’ve recently visited, I have noticed many of the boutique shops are closing and I hear endless reports of beautiful homes sitting empty.

Doesn’t sound like a vibrant, inviting neighbourhood to me.

Perhaps a new development will breathe some life into this south Vancouver community…and, look, correct me if I’m wrong.  Maybe Kerrisdale still is a great place to live…if you can afford it.

A weekend of gratitude, relaxation and “us” time at Tigh-Na-Mara

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Even at the best of times my husband and I don’t spend enough time together.  Sure we live together, raise our kids together, flop onto the couch at the end of the day together…but, it is rare that we get more than a few hours alone together.

One of my goals while Dave was going through his treatment was to plan a weekend away just for us.  This year marked our 13th year of being married to each other.  Let’s be honest…it hasn’t really been the best year.  Between surgery and cancer and chemo and dogs dying…year 13 has kind of sucked.  I wanted to turn it around – so I reached out to my friends at the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort in beautiful Parksville, B.C.

If you have never been to Parksville, you are missing out…and if you decide to go you MUST stay at Tigh-Na-Mara.  We chose an ocean view suite, but there are lots of great options for accommodation.  You can stay in a cozy little, pet-friendly, cabin in the forest (this would be PERFECT for a girls’ weekend or family stay), or there are new spa bungalows, which are very luxurious and nestled amongst the trees near the Grotto Spa.

Upon our arrival, we were treated to side-by-side pedicures at the spa.  At first, Dave balked at the idea of a pedicure (silly man), but all it took was a few minutes in the massage chair and he was hooked.  I actually fear that I am never going to be able to go for a pedicure on my own again!  The Grotto Spa is an experience in itself.  With its fantastic mineral pools and endless menu of services, there is really something for everyone and every budget.

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Our room was beyond comfortable.  The view and sound of the ocean was all that was needed to feel instantly relaxed and at peace.  We kicked back and enjoyed some wine, cheese and QUIET!  I’m pretty sure I had the best two sleeps I’ve had in a few years!

The next day we set out to enjoy Parksville.  There is so much to see and do in the area.  Highlights for us were the Coombs (Goats on the Roof) Market, Little Quallicum Cheeseworks (the BEST blue cheese ever!) and lots of little antique and thrift stores, which were filled with treasures.

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That evening we decided to enjoy a special three-course meal at Cedars, Tigh-Na-Mara’s on-site restaurant.  It was amazing.  I had what were probably the best scallops of my life and Dave’s Ahi Tuna was to die for.  We were too full for dessert, so ended up bringing it back to enjoy in our room.

That night, we melted into bed with full bellies and grateful hearts.  It was an incredible weekend…one we will be talking about for the next 13 years, for sure!

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Plan a weekend away for yourself!

Tigh-Na-Mara has graciously offered readers of TheThirtiesGrind.com an exclusive rate of $119/night (+tax) for the month of October.  Simply quote “Thirties Grind” when you call to make your reservation.  The special rate excludes the black out dates October 10th – 13th.

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