Monday, July 21, 2014

Date Night at My Shanti

On Thursday, Gary and I went on a date! There's a place we've been waiting to try out for months....

Years ago we visited Vij's in Vancouver and it has remained one of our top 3 restaurant experiences.  Amazing Indian food.   We bought two of Vikram Vij's cookbooks and love the recipes in there.  Well, when I found out that he was opening a restaurant in South Surrey, we were super excited.  My Shanti is at Morgan Crossing and just opened this month.

They don't take reservations so we arrived a few minutes before opening at 5 pm and were one of the first people in. Phew!  It fills up quickly so I would recommend going right at 5 pm if you don't want to wait.

{Isn't the ceiling fun?}

Vikram Vij was there and welcomed us all in.  He loves to walk around the restaurant seeing how everything is going and he has a good sense of humour too.

Some Tapioca Crisps with Garam Masala spice were brought to the table and then Gary and I ordered our meals.

We started with Wild Boar Kebabs and Gary had some Shrimp Ceviche.  Both pretty good.  I loved the raspberry chutney with the wild boar.  I've never had that before.

{Chhatra Sagar's Wild Boar Kebabs $13.50}

{Peruvian/Indian Shrimp & Local Fish Ceriche $3.25} 

Then our meals came and in great time too.  Gary had the Goat Curry.  It was spicy to me so he knew he wouldn't have to share.  He said it wasn't `break out into a sweat' spicy but it was just right.

 {Banglore's Goat Curry $24.00}

I had the Chicken Korma.  I loved the sauce that it came with but didn't love getting all of the chicken off of the bones (I should have realized in the menu when it says 1/2 chicken).

{Awhadi 1/2 Chicken Korma $23.00}

And of course, we had Naan bread. I looooove Naan bread.  I could eat so much of it but we restrained ourselves at one each.  So yummy dipped in the Korma sauce.

{Naan bread $2.25}

We really enjoyed our time and will probably go back once a year as it was a bit on the higher side of our budget.  For experience, value, service, and quality, Gary give it 9/10 and I give it 8.5/10.

Let me know if you have tried it or when you do!  I would love to know what you think.

Love, Louise

Friday, July 18, 2014

BC Blueberry Cooking Camp

Kai and I were given the opportunity to attend a cooking camp put on by BC Blueberries yesterday and it was a lot of fun!  The reason for it is because almost every single kid LOVES blueberries and this allowed parents to see what sort of fun recipes you can make with them.

The teaching kitchen was amazing at Crofton House School (I know Gary would love that at the school he teaches at) and when we got there we started with a Blueberry Pink Lemonade.  It's the blueberries that make it pink by just being in there.  You could also freeze some blueberries in ice cubes for a summery drink.

Then Kai and I made a Fresh Blueberry, Corn and Chicken Salad.    Although he wanted to use the large knife, I'm not as fun as Gary and instead, he was able to use scissors to cut up the veggies (great tip for kids helping in the kitchen!).

Kai ate his in a tortilla and I had mine in a lettuce wrap.  I would definitely make this for lunch one day; super healthy yummy lunch!  It had 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 cooked chicken breast, celery stalk diced, 1/2 red pepper diced, 1/2 ear of corn with the kernels removed (just raw).  The dressing was made of 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, 1.5 tsp of mayo, 1 tsp of lemon juice, 2 tsp chopped dill, pinch of salt and pepper.

The next dish we made was Kai's favourite; Blueberry Compote. We ate it over greek yogurt but you can also have it on barbequed peaches, pancakes or waffles.  Yum. Kai Bear isn't a huge yogurt fan so he just ate it on it's own.

Compotes (sauces) are super easy to make if you've never made them.  You just put 2 cups of blueberries, 1/8th tsp of ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp sugar, 1tsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add 1 tsp of cornstarch to 1 tbsp of water and stir it into the saucepan.  Let it thicken for 2 minutes.  I've also made this before with orange juice and I love the flavour. 

The last dish we made was a Blueberry Guacamole.  Sounds a bit crazy right?  It had a whole clove of garlic in it so it was a bit garlic-y for me but such a healthy snack!   I would say maybe just use half a clove of garlic. 

(1 avocado, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 clove garlic minced, 1/2 cup halved blueberries, and a dash of salt and pepper).

It was really fun to do this with Kai.  I really need to make more of an effort for one on one time with each kid.   When the instructor asked what he liked to make in the kitchen with his mom, he said that he usually cooks with his dad.  So true!  Kai was the only boy there and I think it's so important that all of my kids, sons and daughter, learn how to cook in the kitchen.

Thank you to BC Blueberries for a fun cooking class.  We both really enjoyed it and Gary loved the leftovers.  You can just check out their website for a lot of different recipe ideas.  

Love, Louise (and Kai!).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for:

1. Sleepovers!  Kai and Koen had their cousins Ani and Izzy over for a sleepover.  It was a super hot day so they all slept in the basement (and may have started playing video games at 6am).  The girls are a great influence on Koen who can go from 0-100%  goofy/crazy/wild in a second.  He fell asleep when they did!

2.  My new waffle maker.  We were gifted our old one that lasted us a good 5 years or so but after trying out our friend's over Spring Break, we knew this was the one we wanted.  We had a $50 Amazon card AND it was on sale so in the end it didn't cost too much.  This was my birthday present even though my birthday is next month.  Gary's birthday present (also next month) is a camping bbq.  We like our food.

3.  Berries and whipped cream. Yum. Yum. Yuuuuuum.  I'm planning on starting a healthier way of eating (no sugar and less gluten etc to try to feel better so we'll need to get a bit more creative with our recipes).

5.  Popsicles. So messy but the kids love them.  Reminder to self: only give Nya light coloured ones.

6.  Slip and slides.  Fun and waters the grass :)

7.  A great time with family at the waterslides.

8.  Beautiful sunsets.

9. Fun times at Williams Park (with a couple of cousins).  It has a playground to practice their `American Ninja Warrior' moves....



And streams to play in. 

10.  Two good books ready to be read!  PS I didn't love The Fault in our Stars as much as I thought I would.  I wasn't very connected to the characters and didn't cry very much considering it's a sad book (I love to cry more).    Maybe 7/10. 

I hope you had a great week!  Today I am attending BC Blueberries Cooking Camp with Kai.  It's my first blogging related event and I'm curious to see how it goes! I will share how it went with you tomorrow.


PS I love that people leave comments on facebook but please feel free to share some love here :)  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reflecting on Blogging

I had been waiting for the photos to come from the Vancouver Top Mom Blogger Event before blogging about it and I now have them.  I really just took this whole process of being nominated and then making it to second place as a learning experience.  I love, love, looooove seeing how things work behind the scenes. It was cool to learn about what other moms do with their blogs in regards to their purpose, inspiration, and focus.  I'm thankful to for including me this year!

I appreciate having so many people read this blog.  It started as a way to document my kids lives and morphed into a way to also connect with others.  I enjoy looking back one or two years to see what my kids were doing.  I love hearing from someone saying what restaurant they would recommend for me or what park they went to after I recommended it to them.  I enjoy learning from others and sharing what I learn as well.

{Photo by Images By Bethany.  These are the Top 30 Mom Bloggers of 2014)

On the spectrum of blogging, it ranges from journaling to marketing/business.  I do have a blog for business (GC Photography) but this one is just personal.  I never thought to try to make any money from it.  When I noticed that I consistenly had  200-400 page views per day, I thought that I would try having google ads and see what happened.  Really, you don't make much money at all, but it's better than nothing!

Throughout this process I've also learned a whole lot more about social media and especially twitter.  If you want a successful blog, I think you need to be pretty twitter saavy.  I am not, but I'm learning.

Now the question is: What do I do now?  Do I try to increase the numbers of readers?  Do I do giveaways? Do I do reviews? Do I stay the same? What do I want my blog to be? How much time and energy do I want to invest?  I've been reflecting on this a lot and I don't really have an answer.

My current plan is to continue doing what I'm doing.  I have always reviewed restaurants we've gone to, hotels we've stayed at, cities we've visited, and family activities we've done.  Since the Vancouver Mom Blog Event, I've had some opportunities but nothing that felt like `me'.  Tomorrow, Kai and I are attending BC Blueberries Cooking Camp which is totally up our alley.  Blueberries + cooking + time with my Kai Bear? Perfect.

If I could do anything, and dream BIG, I would love to be a travel and food blogger.  Travel with my family and blog about it.  Eat awesome meals and share.  I know this likely won't happen though because I don't currently have hours to invest into my blog more than I already do.  And you know, that's okay.  I'm very content with where I am and what I'm doing.   I love that there is no pressure with my blog as it's not my job, it's my hobby.

It has been very interesting learning about the blogging world and I'm thankful to be part of it.  There won't really be any changes right now but I'm always open to possibilities.  Thank you for reading and commenting and caring.  I know I have so many great people in my life and it's pretty awesome.

Love, Louise

Splashdown Park

This was the third year in a row that we went to Splashdown Park in Tsawwassen.  They let you use multiple coupons from the entertainment book so we always get a great deal (this is the main reason we go there)!  This year we decided to go during the twilight hours and it was a great decision.

Last year, we went first thing in the morning and there were so many daycamps and the water/air was so cold.  Twilight goes from 4-8pm and the benefits are; shorter (if any!) line ups, warmer water/air than early morning if it's a sunny day, and cheaper passes.  I think there were so few people there because it's mostly young families at this waterpark and many of them leave before dinner time.   I would HIGHLY recommend going during a warm week night. We packed a picnic dinner and at the end of the night we just changed the kids straight into their pj's.

{PS Kai ripped his old swim shirt yesterday so I went to Once Upon A Child and got this one on clearance for $3.25!}

I think we will go to these waterslides for a couple more years but then the kids will likely outgrow them.  Kai and Koen can easily go on all of the slides except Koen is not tall enough for the Black Hole.  My sister Maria, her husband Kris, and their two oldest girls were there too.  This means that Gary and I got to leave the kids for 10 minutes and go ride a double tube down the Black Hole (it's a totally dark tube ride) which was fun.

Nya loved all of the waterslides (she just went on my lap on the bigger ones) and spent a lot of time floating around in the the hot tub with water wings.  Kai and Koen loved the tube ride and did it at least 10 times each.

{So hard to do a selfie with the GoPro as you can't see anything}

The kids had a blast and we'll definitely return again next year!  It was the perfect way to spend a 30C afternoon and evening.

Hope you're finding ways to stay cool!

Love, Louise

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What Will They Remember?

Today I went to a funeral.  It was for a man in our church who had such a huge servant heart and touched many people's lives.  The hardest part for me was hearing from his son, because I know, I've been there and it sucks to lose a parent (he's actually has now lost both parents and a sad).   When I heard about the things that he appreciated about his dad, a lot of it came from the childhood that they had. Playing hockey together.  Going camping.  Being there.  This made me think about what my kids are going to remember about me when they are older.  


What are the things that I remember and appreciate about my mom?  The main one was that she was a fantastic listener.  She was always available and loved to know about our lives.  This is the reason why my sisters and I send so many emails to each other, it's to be heard.  Secondly, she was practical and down to earth.  She didn't get all emotional which was good because I was the emotional one.  Even with 5 daughters all so close in age, she was almost always very calm and present.  She taught us how to manage our money wisely.  Thirdly, she was supportive.  She encouraged us in our dreams and made sure that we knew how important our education was.  She may not have loved all of my decisions but she let me find out for myself why it may not have been the best decision.  Finally, we knew how much she loved God, my dad, her family, and us kids.   We all felt that unconditional love.  Those are some of the things that stick out. 

So what would my kids remember about me now?  I'm not sure.  What would stand out?   


Would it be the time we spend going on family walks and exploring together?  Or would it be me on my iPhone?  

Would it be me setting their clothes out and preparing meals?  Or would it be me saying `Get out of the office, I'm working'. 

Would it be me laughing and chasing them?  Or would it be me yelling at them to put their shoes on, go to the bathroom, and get into the van?

Would it be me cuddled up on the couch reading with them? Or would it be me checking out facebook as they sit reading alone on the other couch?

Would it be me asking them about their day?  Or would it be me asking everyone to just be quiet?

I think one of the reasons why I'm taking a break  from GC Photography this fall is that I want to be more present with my family.  I only have a few years left of Nya being home and I don't want to `waste' it spending so much time on the computer.  I'm not trying to be perfect but I am trying to be more present.  I like that.  It doesn't mean that I always have to be here (I have great plans to exercise more) but when I am, I want to be 100% here.

So, here's to being more present.  Hopefully.  Thoughts?

Love, Louise

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thankful Thursday

{I've wanted to make a `Thankful Thursday' badge for a while.  I'm no graphic designer but I think it looks cute!  Feel free to use it if you want.}

Thankful for:

1.  A new niece!  Lucy Elizabeth was born on July 6th at home in a beautiful quick birth.  It wasn't the plan to be at home but they were prepared just in case.   I'm thankful that each of my sisters, and I, now have a daughter.  I truly feel that it's so special that we get to have a mother daughter relationship despite our mom not being here on earth. To be honest, I'm also thankful that I felt zero twinges of wanting another baby. I'm happy for them but we are soooooooo done with pregnancy, C-sections, and never sleeping.  I could do the breastfeeding again though, I really did enjoy that after the first couple of months.  And, one more thing...did you know that in both of our families (that's 6 siblings total), everyone has 2 or more kids and no one has two boys except for us.  I'm thankful for friends that have two (or more) boys as it's just different.  Boys are crazy.

{Not sure why I'm awkwardly tilting my head.  Look at the baby, not me.}

2.  A friend to help me buy new shoes!  Part of my Ultimate Dream Date was $150.00 to spend at Aimee B in Fort Langley.  It was a pretty pricey store so basically I could get one item.  My friend Leah came along and helped me choose a pair of shoes!  Thanks, Leah.  They are the most expensive pair of shoes I will ever own.  Made in Spain. PS That black comfy dress?  From H&M for $15 and it even has pockets.  I love it.

3. Amazing camping weather. Phew. It would've definitely made our vacation a little less fun if it was raining.  Let's be honest, way less fun.  


{I should also add that I'm thankful for the Ergo.  We have definitely gotten our money's worth out of it!}

4. A spare bedroom.  It's in our basement and we will be having two students from Korea this summer for two weeks.  Normally there is just one bed in there so this doesn't look very nice but it does the trick!   I didn't want to invest any money into it as it's just for 2 weeks so we just borrowed a bed (the white one was mine when I was a kid and my sister uses it for her girls now).  I'm a bit nervous as I don't love playing host but the boys are so excited to have two bigger boys to play hockey with.  Hopefully they like hockey.

5. Soccer camp.  Gary is coaching at our church this week and the kids are all involved too!  I am working all week so it has been so good to have two days where all three went and I had four hours dedicated to work.  I am so incredibly productive without Miss Nya needing me every 10 seconds.  This is what normally happens when I try to work...she crawls in my lap and says  `I colour'. 

6.  Free outdoor pools.  We like to take the kids in the summer to quickly cool off as it's just 5 minutes away.  Nya LOVED it.  We put water wings on her and she would just yell `3, 4 JUMP!' and jump into the pool.  Over and over and over.  She's wild. It was so cute.  I love seeing Gary melt over her cuteness.   He really does, folks.  

{No picture here but we'll have to bring the GoPro next gift I ever bought Gary for sure!}

7. My dad being home safe and sound.  Crazy guy.  What will be his next adventure? Who knows.  Dad, what about having my kids for a week? Now that would be an adveture!

8. Awesome clients.  Seriously, having great couples to photograph makes the day go so well.  Totally looking forward to our next three couples of the summer too!  And then, we're done until next year where we will accept a limited amount of weddings.  Like, super duper minimal :)

9.  Princess bandaids.  Make every owie better.  She even prefers them over mommy's kisses.

10. Bugs.  They make walks to the mailbox a whole lot more exciting for the kids.  Nya loves to let any bug crawl all over her.

I hope you are having a good week!  Again, I would encourage you to journal or share with someone the things that you are thankful for.  It really does make a difference. I dare you :)

Love, Louise