Tuesday, May 19, 2015

15th Annual Braille Challenge: Three of the finalists from BC

The 15th Annual Braille Challenge, the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired, announced the 2015 finalists (see list at end of press release). The top-scoring 60 finalists, ages six to 19, will gather in the morning of June 20 for a daylong academic competition, camaraderie and fun at Braille Institute in Los Angeles.

Using a device called a Perkins Brailler, #BrailleChallenge finalists will embark on the daylong competition to showcase their skills in five categories: reading comprehension, spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and speed and accuracy. Following the competition, winners will be announced at an awards ceremony highlighted by musical performances and celebrity attendees honoring the incredible achievements of the 60 finalists.

Congrats to the three finalist from British Columbia: 

Maggie Wehrle, Victoria, BC, CAN
Xinyou (Ella) Yu, Delta, BC, CAN
Keisha Anderson, Lower Nicola, BC, CAN

For additional information, please visit www.braillechallenge.org or www.brailleinstitute.org 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Barbecue Food Safety

As you head out to the grill, it's important to remember that eating undercooked meat, or foods that have come into contact with raw or undercooked meat, can cause food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness). Symptoms of foodborne illness can include stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. 

Approximately 1 in 8 people get sick from foodborne illness every year in Canada. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

You can help lower your risk of foodborne illness by handling and cooking raw meat carefully. Here are some important safety tips to follow:

• Always store raw meat in a refrigerator or cooler at 4ºC (40ºF) or below. 
• If using a cooler, pack it with ice, keep it out of direct sunlight and don't open it too often. 
• Meat packages should be well sealed and placed at the bottom of your refrigerator or cooler so that juices don't come in contact with other food products.
• Wash your hands, cutting boards, countertops, knives and other utensils thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling all raw foods, especially meat.
• Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe to eat. Use a digital food thermometer to ensure meat has reached a safe internal temperature. 
• Check the temperature by inserting the thermometer through the thickest part of the meat. 
• When cooking beef hamburgers, remove patties from the grill and insert the thermometer through the side, all the way to the middle. 
• When cooking several pieces of meat, check the temperature of each piece. 
• Use clean utensils and plates when removing cooked meat from the grill. 
• Wash the thermometer in hot, soapy water between every temperature reading (including between every piece of meat). 
• Keep food hot until it is ready to serve.

For more information www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/safety-salubrite/tips-conseils/barbecue-eng.php

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bakers Market...Too Sweet Not to Go

Every Sunday from now until June 14th, the Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre is home to the Bakers Market from 11am to 3pm. I had the joy of attending in November just after Zoe was born and brought home an armful of goodies, which did not last long! I jumped at the opportunity to go again and see what new Bakers would be attending and see what new products previous returning vendors would be bringing along.

Bakers Market, truly is a family event. With free samples and free admission and ample parking surrounding, how can you resist the urge not to go? Initially, I had alot of hesita
I was hesitate about taking my daughter Ava along for the trip because of all the treats, but the samples are the perfect size that she got to try a bit of everything and satisfied her sweet tooth. We left the decision making until the very end, which I might add, at that time she was too full to become whiny if we said no.

It becomes very clear, very quickly that these vendors take alot of time and consideration into planning the perfect treats to bring along to showcase everything that is special and unique to them. The table displays, the sample choices, the banners, the packaging is all skilfully selected to leave a lasting impressions.

You must try...

The Lemon Square is the perfect texture, a not too sweet, not to sour, lemon square! I also learned that they use BC butter, a small but very significant detail, which creates a lasting impression and a taste that sticks with you! I've been craving it every day since.

Cajeta is a delicious Mexican traditional caramel spread made with fresh BC's Goat's Milk. Delicious, doesn't even begin to explain how truly good this caramel sauce is, and I don't like caramel sauce but it is perfect; not too sweet, not too thick, it melted perfectly. I can still taste the espresso flavoured caramel sauce and really wish I would have grabbed a jar before I left. Dairy and gluten free; and void of all artificial ingredients, thickeners and preservative, this is truly what caramel should ALWAYS taste like.

Handmade by Michelle had an amazing variety of cookies, cupcakes, and the Designer Chocolate. Not only is Michelle incredibly sweet herself, but you can see the love and passion she exudes into what she is doing by how beautifully thought out all her details are, right down to her packaging! The designer chocolate alone is enough to make you want to stay close to Michelle's table!

Heritage Canadian Bakery; Kelly Macgregor is a pastry chef, who has such a knack for creating these delicious treats, snacks and breads, which bring back the memories of home-cooked meals by mom, or holiday traditions with the freshest of breads and the sweetest of treats.

Mama's Bakeshop has these incredible jars which contain all your ingredients to make the most delicious cookies! How often do you see people baking with oatmeal? Yes, it's done but it's not very common and her Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies are moist, delicious and the perfect amount of chocolate.  Did I mention that these Jars are the perfect gift for the cookie lovers in your life?

Last but not least, J'adore Les Macarons; featuring the most decadent and beautifully crafted Macarons. Connie was accepted and trained professionally in Paris attending one of the most prestigious pastry schools, so when I say this woman knows her macarons, trust her; she has put together these most aesthetically pleasing packaging, deliciously crafted macarons with so many tempting and divine flavours. She is extremely proud of her time in Paris, and it shows with her beautiful gift boxes donning a miniature Eiffel Tower. These are the real deals, and one of her incredible gift boxes would surely win you brownie points with the in-laws.

Those are just a few of my highlights from the Bakers Market but thank goodness it's a weekly event because you can fall in love with a different company each and every week. The handmade goodies, the attention to detail, the care these vendors take into planning what goodies, they will tempt you with again and again.

You do not want to miss the chance to meet these Vendors, every last one of them, taste their craft and most importantly shop small and support local!

Janette Shearer is  a Mommy Blogger  for Vancity Mommy D, wife and mother to two little girls 6 year old Ava and 5 month old Zoe. All Photos courtesy of Janette Shearer.  www.vancitymommyd.com

Monday, May 11, 2015

STOPit Powerful Cyberbullying Solution

STOP!T, an anti-cyberbullying app that allows victims and witnesses of cyberbullying to anonymously report incidents directly to school officials and parents, has announced its expansion into Canada (official press release below)! With already 100+ schools signed on around the country, this mobile app allows students to anonymously report acts of cyber abuse with one simple click. The key technology behind the platform is DOCUMENTit, a cloud-based incident management system for school administrators.

The idea for STOP!T was born when Todd Schobel first heard the story of teen cyberbullying victim Amanda Todd on the news. An idea that began as a simple tool for teen empowerment shortly took on a life of its own. 

STOP!T soon jumpstarted a cultural transformation in schools across the United States, providing Cybersafe Rallies, character education initiatives, and an online community for sharing inspiration and cyber-abuse experiences. Carol Todd, mother of Amanda, is now a member of STOP!T’s board of advisors.

To learn more about how the STOP!T app can put an end to cyberbullying, please visit StopItCyberBully.com. The app is available for both Android and iOS.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Last Minute Mother's Day Craft

Mother's Day is right around the corner and much like Christmas, I know a lot of men can get so busy they put off getting gifts for Mothers until last-minute.  Here is a quick sweet and inexpensive Mothers Day Gift idea that is perfect for any mother or grandmother. It takes about an hour to complete depending on your little artist!

Due to the use of permanent markers, I would suggest this project for at least over one-years old and be supervised.

You will need:
  • One plain white coffee mug from the Dollar store for $1.25
  • Oil based Sharpie markers (can be found at Walmart) You can use water based Sharpies, however, over time and washes, the colours will start to come off.  Beware when using water based sharpies, some colours will bake right off or not be as vibrant a colour later.
  • Gift to put inside, for this we planted a yellow pansy inside but you can fill it with your favourite treats, or candies. You can even put a gift card inside for a spa/shopping trip (hint, hint Dad)

1. Set out all items needed.
2. Let child draw whatever they want.  It's always good to encourage them to draw and then let it dry for a second cause you risk it getting on skin if you rub your hand across too soon.
3. Once they are happy with how it looks you're ready for the final step. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes!
4. Once the mug has cooled down, remove from oven. Once completely cooled, you can fill it with whatever gift you have chosen for that special Mama in your life, we have planted out flower inside the mug! 

You now have your last-minute DIY Sharpie Mug Mother's Day gift! You can really tailor this mug for any occasion and even be used for Fathers Day or end of the year teacher gifts.

Janette Shearer is  a Mommy Blogger  for Vancity Mommy D, wife and mother to two little girls 6 year old Ava and 6 month old Zoe. All Photos courtesy of Janette Shearer.   www.vancitymommyd.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day Mom & Me Photo Contest

Thanks to everyone who entered our Mom & Me Photo contest! We were soo excited to see all the Mothers in front of the camera for this contest. Here is a collection of some of the photos we received. Happy Mother's Day! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Business Spotlight: Dailey Method Vancouver

Having a baby rearranges your body and can weaken your core in ways you never thought possible.  PostPartum the thought of heading into a gym can be a terrifying thought. Thankfully, there are a lot of smaller studio's in Vancouver that offer many different classes with less pressure and much more understanding personal attention to ease yourself back into physical fitness or introduce you to physical fitness for the first time! Thanks to Jey and Karen opening the second Dailey Method Studio in Kitsilano, there are now more opportunities to enjoy a new approach to physical fitness!

The Studio on West 4th in Kitsilano is beautiful, bright and aesthetically pleasing, with plenty of street parking in front and in the blocks surrounding.  West 4th Avenue has always been a preferred destination for shopping and services on the city's west side;  With many shops in the area including a No Frills, Granville Island and plenty of great restaurants, clothing stores, cafe's and now this  Studio, you cannot go wrong heading down to West 4th for a class!

The studio has a small retail area with plenty of new work out clothing, change rooms for both men and women, plenty of space to leave your belongings in a trusted and safe environment. The studio truly was arranged in such a manner that takes into consideration an environment which lends itself to feeling like your in the comfort of your own home.

You may be asking what is the Dailey Method and why is it so different? The work out is a combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning and stretching.  In attending the studio and speaking with one of the owners Jey Wyder, and several of the instructors, I was assured that these classes are 100% for all ages and fitness levels.

There are different classes to choose from at the Kitsilano location, you can view the class schedules online or for all of us busy people, they have an app that you can download and sign in for your classes on the go!

Dailey interval is a faster paced, 45-minute Dailey Method class that combines periods of high and low intensity movement for optimal cardiovascular results, this is more of an expert class as they do recommend you have completed 20 Daily Basic or Daily Barre classes before taking the Interval class.

So all things considered, this new addition to West 4th is a promising business with a beautiful studio, courteous, kind and welcoming staff and owners. You cannot go wrong making The Dailey Method Kitsilano a part of your daily exercise, your lifestyle and your family.

For more information on classes, instructors, studio locations please go to www.thedaileymethod.com/studios/vancouver-kitsilano

Janette Shearer is  a Mommy Blogger  for Vancity Mommy D, wife and mother to two little girls 6 year old Ava and 5 month old Zoe. All Photos courtesy of Janette Shearer.   www.vancitymommyd.com