Mother’s Day Tea Ideas

I can’t think of a more divine and elegant memory than of the time that my mother and I enjoyed high tea together in Salisbury, England. It was right before we visited the historic site of Stonehenge, and it was summer time, so the air was sweet with honeysuckle and freshly mowed lawns, and the Devonshire cream and jam on the freshly baked scones were a delightful addition to the authentic English Tea.

What a lovely idea to gather up your mother/grandmother/children and recreate the elegance and enjoyment of an English High Tea this mother’s day? Here is a list of some of the wonderful options that High Tea has to offer in the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island. Remember to make reservations early, as these fabulous events tend to book up early!

Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Head up to the 15th floor of the iconic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and enjoy classic English-inspired tea service as you overlook the stunning skyline of Downtown Vancouver. Called Tea at the Top, you will have your choice of a fine assortment of teas, panna cotta with fresh berries, finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats from the in-house Pastry Shop. If you have little ones, check out the Children’s Bubblegum Tea where your little prince or princess will get to have their tea and treats in a real castle!

Finally, get ready to channel your inner Titanic-themed garb (think Rose dressed to the nines for dinner) and visit the famous Fairmont Sunday Best!  Every Sunday, Tea at the Top encourages you to come dressed to impress in your best fascinator or bow tie, and the table selected as ‘best tea attire’ during the 12:30pm & 3:30pm seatings will get a complimentary glass of champagne. Don’t forget to tag @fairmontvan #teaatthetop to share your best outfit.

900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Contact: 604-684-3131

Victorian Tea and the Fairmont Empress 

The pastry chef at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria crafts treats like no other, and the beloved ritual of afternoon tea in the lobby will leave you feeling like the Queen herself! Set against the beautiful scenery of Victoria’s inner harbor, the lobby of the Empress brings to into a scene reminiscent of an old English castle – the décor is lush with rich chintz fabrics, antique tapestries and rugs, elegant wing back chairs, vintage furnishings and hand-carved tables. Indulge in an assortment of delightful, high quality teas, coffees and goodies, all served on beautiful William Edwards china. The experience will leave you feeling like royalty for sure!
721 Government St, Victoria
The Little White House 
La vie est belle at the Little White House café in historic Fort Langley. Modelled after a Parisian Salon Café which mixed café au lait with delectable pastries, The Little White House is a heritage building that offers delicious brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. You will be served a beverage of your choice and can order off the menu (be sure to try their savory crepes) or enjoy a three-tiered platter of in-house made “sweet petits” – macrons, scones, petit sandwiches, tarts and more. Be sure to save some time to browse the local and artisan crafts in the Salon Shoppe after your tea, and don’t forget to wander through historic Fort Langley after, in search of an antique treasure or just to window shop!
9090 Glover Rd. Fort Langley
Truffles High Tea at Van Dusen Gardens 
May is a beautiful month for gardens – fragrant flowers, beautiful bushes and blooming trees adorn all of Vancouver’s streets and boroughs. What better way than to enjoy mother’s day than to do high tea in one of the city’s most beautiful gardens? Visit Truffles on mother’s day for a lovely afternoon tea which includes: French macrons, coconut macaroons, shortbread, petit fours, chocolate truffles, scones, croissants, a daily sandwich, raspberry jam, honey and clotted cream. Take a stroll through Van Dusen’s gorgeous botanical gardens afterwards and enjoy the scenery.
5151 Oak Street Vancouver
Secret Garden Tea Company 
The Secret Garden Tea Company is one of Kerrisdale’s local favorites. All the goodies are fresh, seasonal and made in-house, and served on gleaming china and linen napkins, and the specially blended Secret Garden Tea makes the High Tea experience a lovely time. Seatings are at 12noon, 2:15 and 4:30pm daily.
5559 West Boulevard, Vancouver
Neverland Tea Salon
This Peter Pan-themed tea salon goes beyond the traditional High Tea menu – in fact, get ready to try the most delicious tea-infused cocktails, such as Peter’s Broken Promise and Tinkerbell’s Lost Kiss (available at the Lost Boys Bar inside the salon)! Their high tea provides the highest quality ingredients, full of creativity and culinary adventure. They also offer gluten and dairy free options for those with allergies. This year, they are offering a special mother’s day menu that offers a champagne high tea option as well as the usual high tea. They go beyond the usual pastries and offer crab cakes and an asparagus and prosciutto croissant that I’ve heard is a delight! Book now to avoid disappointment.
3066 W Broadway, Vancouver
Tracycakes High Tea
Tracycakes is a favorite stop for Fraser Valley dwellers who love homemade sweets and treats, and their high tea is no different – not to mention a great deal at only $18.50 per person. Even better, if you want to enjoy all those petit treats, finger sandwiches, goodies and teas in the comfort of your own home, Tracycakes does High Tea to go! Check out their website for more information.
Prices and events are subject to availability and change. Please contact the location of your choice to make reservations.
Abbotsford Cafe
101 2636 Montrose Ave, Abbotsford
Murrayville Cafe
5 Corners
21594 48th Ave, Langley


I love looking at photographs.

It can be a Facebook album. An Instagram feed. A coffee table book created through Shutterfly, an old photo album, a scrapbook. I love them all. I love seeing smiles, family holidays, candid beer chugging contests, Halloween debauchery, wrinkled brand new baby faces and pet cuteness.

One of my favorite places to be is curled up on the couch, browsing through our Flicker account, which conveniently comes through my TV screen via Apple TV (if you don’t have Apple TV, do it – it rocks). And me and my littles giggle and reminisce around all the wonderful pictures that are chronicling our lives together.

But you know something? Photographs, although wonderful and provisional of a feeling, a memory preserved, a slice of time held precious forever, are only SNAPSHOTS of life.

They show smiles, milestones, first times. But sadly – and maybe thankfully – they don’t always show the layers of reality that exist within them.

For example, the poised family portrait, color coordinated and perfectly lit, doesn’t show the depression that darkens that family.

The birthday candles don’t illuminate the struggle with chronic pain.

The graduation ceremony doesn’t walk next to the struggle with a sick grandparent. A mounting debt. An anxious child. Or any of the other daily challenges that no one is immune to in this present day.

What I’m getting at here, is, quite simply, photographs, while lovely, are very surface level. And everyone, regardless of smiles, matching outfits, perfect vacations or cute pets, has their own type of struggle. No one can escape from stressful life events.

And you want to know why? Because that’s just life, and stress is a part of life. And that’s all there is to it.

Before I go any further, I have to say – the reason I am writing this isn’t to be negative, morbid or depressing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

This all came about recently through a conversation that I had with a person who is close to my family’s heart, and the conversation left me feeling quite hollow and distressed. So much so that quite some time has passed and here I am, still thinking about this conversation.

The conversation revolved around the topic of life, family, and being fortunate. We were discussing another mutual friend, whose family has been dealt more than their share of adversity in life. So much so that daily living can be a challenge for them, and stress overwhelms them regularly.

During this conversation, my husband and I were told, very pointedly, that “compared to [said friend with adversity], we (my husband and I) are living in the lap of luxury” and that “we have no idea what it’s like”.


First of all, that statement reminded me of this post, by fellow Mommy blogger Emily of “Mama Said” (watch out for swearing, and lots of it).

Then the statement made me feel super guilty.

I felt guilty for being blessed with healthy, thriving children. For being able to run a fairly smooth household. To have a job I love, and a husband that rocks.

Next, I felt sheepish. Why haven’t I helped my said friend more? Made her a few freezer meals, called her more, took her kids out for the day. Offered MYSELF to them.

And then I felt angry. And if you aren’t with me by now, go ahead and read the “Mama Said” post again so you can catch up.

Healthy children are a result, initially, of a sperm and egg amalgamating their respective DNA together. That’s out of my hands, honestly.

So how can I feel guilty for something that I initially had no control over?

Running a household and having a job I love….well, I try to balance my home life. And I used to have a job that I fucking HATED (pardon the French but I’m really trying to make a point here). But guess what? I quit that job before it quit me, and created my own reality with a great new job that I love.

Now do you see where I’m going here?

Despite having healthy kids, a job I love, a life that feels pretty great on most days, what my “life of luxury” appears to be on the outside still has its share of low days. Dark hours of sadness, such as the first 2 months of both of my children’s lives, when I had postpartum so badly that I don’t even remember them as babies during that time. It is a black hole that I will never get back.

Everyone has their struggles. We all want to throw in the towel sometimes. And here’s the kicker: Even though my struggles might seem like a blip in the radar compared to someone else’s struggles, it’s still a struggle – and it’s my personal, unique struggle. It still hurts me, causes pain, stress. But we, as do all humans, motor on – because that’s how we’re built.

But what SUCKS here is that someone else, who cares for us and we care for, feels the need to let us know regularly that we are SO LUCKY, with our lives in the lap of luxury.

And, just like Emily said – by you telling me that I’m living in the lap of luxury, you’re implying that I’m not grateful for this fact. That I’m not aware of my good fortune.

I interpret this as you believing that my life is perfect. That because I have healthy kids, a happy marriage and a bunch of other rad things going on, that I am imperviable to sadness. That I have never felt blackness, never seen the end of the rope, never wanted to walk away and not come back.

And that’s just wrong.

We spend a lot of time comparing, feeling guilty that we have more or less than the other. Why we didn’t help someone when they needed us. Why we, who are considered “lucky ones” don’t give more of ourselves to others. Why we compare our meager possessions against our neighbors riches.

Well I can guarantee you that at the end of the day, we’re all very much the same. We’re all people, we all have stress. We, on the surface, are just snapshots of what is really going on inside. So how about we stop comparing ourselves to others, feeling guilty becuase the dice we rolled landed on a different scheme than someone else. And channel some of that energy into a better place, like onto yourself and your family, and just be thankful for being yourself.

And most of all, be grateful for what you have. Even if someone else is constantly implying that you’re not. Because there’s always going to be someone else who is worse off than you, and always someone who is better.

The people who mind don’t matter. And the people who matter don’t mind.


Even though it’s March and Spring has begun showing her lovely colors (don’t you just love the cherry blossoms in Vancouver at this time of year?), I think that most of us Vancouverites still remember exactly what we were doing when that earthquake hit on December 29th. And since it happened late at night, it roused me out of a deep sleep and left me awake and wondering for several hours, and now several months, afterwards.

It made me think about Christmas, my family, and how we really have no control over Mother Nature and the Earth that we inhabit. We are at the mercy of the unpredictability of the world around us. So, thus, it is so important to harness the moment and live for RIGHT NOW, as it is truly all we have! Not trying to get too deep here, but hey! It was deep thoughts for a midnight brain. I also was guiltily obsessing over the huge pile of plastic and cardboard garbage that was waiting for me in my basement; remnants of the packaging that contained my children’s plethora of Christmas presents. I’m honest enough to admit that they didn’t get overly spoiled, but they certainly got their fair share of goodies. And now I feel the guilt of the massive amount of garbage that we’ve created, and how important it is to teach them about garbage and waste’s impact on the environment.

So, my brain launched a plan – time to teach them how to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. After all, what better time than Spring – the time of rebirth, and of the upcoming Earth Day on April 22, to instil some environmental values into them while creating a project that shows them creativity and reusing items.

So, off I went onto Pinterest and found a few fun and fantastic crafts and activities that can be made with basic items that would otherwise be sent into the recycling. Since I have two daughters, any kind of activity HAS to include glitter – so here is the first one, sparkles and all!

DIY Wind chimes

What you’ll need:

4 or 5 various sizes of clean tin cans (could be soup, tuna, tomatoes)

Paint and glitter


4 or 5 washers

A hammer and a nail

Get your littles to paint and glitter up the tin cans. Once they’re dry, get an adult to punch a hole in the top, and use a piece of yarn to thread through. Tie the washer to the bottom and leave enough yarn to string it up to the top.

Stagger the cans so that they clang together when you hang them up outside. The painting of the activity is fun for creativity, the threading of the yarn is excellent for fine motor skills, and digging through the recycling bin is the most fun of all!

photo credit from


The next DIY activity combines two of my kids’ other favorite activities – bath time and outdoor play – and can be created using a basic 4L milk jug. In fact, there are SO MANY cool things you can do with empty 4L milk jugs, so hang onto those puppies for a rainy day activity that will be sure to please!

Milk Jug Bird Feeder

This fun and easy activity offers creative, hands on learning while making it, and also connects children to nature when they observe the neighborhood birds landing in the feeder to have a snack! Add more fun and education by having a local bird guide on-hand so you can investigate the different types of birds that are using the feeder!

What you’ll need:

A 4L milk jug with cap

Various decorations: stickers, bottle caps, milk jug caps, Sharpies or other permanent markers, outdoor acrylic paint

Scissors, wire cutters, pliers, paintbrushes

Perch or roof materials: sticks cut to desired length

Possible adhesives or sealant: non-toxic outdoor white glue or outdoor ModPodge

Bendable thick wire or twine to hang the feeder


Wash out the milk jug well with soap and water. Once dry, cut 4 windows on each side of the jug. If you want to use a stick to add a perch to each side of the window, you can do so by threading the stick through the jug (see photo).

You can now allow your child to decorate their feeder however they want. You can use sticks, buttons, paint or more. Finally, thread the twine or wire through the top of the jug by cutting two small holes in the top of the jug, and create a hanging loop. Viola! Fill it with birdseed and wait to see which birds come to visit!


photo credit from

Milk Jug Whale

This activity is so much fun and super easy.

What you’ll need:

4L milk jug



All you have to do for a bath time buddy is clean out a milk jug, draw a mouth and face on it with a sharpie, and cut the mouth out! I also drew fins and a blow-hole. There you have a fun and easy bath time toy that can really hold a lot of water! Endless hours of fun with this simple and inexpensive toy!


photo credit Melissa Collins

Happy crafting with your little ones!!




Nature as the Classroom

This was an article that I had the pleasure of writing for Urban Baby and Toddler magazine for their Spring 2016 issue. To see the print article, click here and turn to page 22.

Outdoor Preschool: it’s a new trend in British Columbia that has been emerging for the past few years, and it is being met with curiosity, interest and skepticism. The notion and importance of outdoor play are on the forefront of many people’s minds today, as it’s no secret that our children seem to be inundated with technology, video games and too much screen time. Further, it seems that to achieve order and balance in our lives, we tend to overschedule, overlearn and overdo everything – from activities to information – leading to burnout and exhaustion, both for children and adults alike.

We’d be wise to look to the culture of Europe, specifically the Scandinavian region, who have been running outdoor schools – preschool, kindergarten and more – for three decades or more.




The Scandinavian approach to using the outdoors as a part of the education philosophy is one that includes learning and developing in natural environments. Research has shown that the child’s sense of creativity, self-worth, independence and tolerance thrives in an outdoor setting. Not that this doesn’t happen in traditional schools, but from a child’s perspective, the creativity that is fostered from having to “build” or construct a play area from only elements of nature facilitates an amazing aptitude for these humane traits.

Forest preschools can be met with some parental hesitation, as the entire curriculum is built outside – rain or shine. It can be the coldest day of the year – it doesn’t matter – and the children will remain outdoors.

Urban Baby and Toddler Magazine had an opportunity to speak with Katelynn Tekavc, a consultant for the Township of Langley’s forest school program. Katelynn is an ECE and a mother of two, both of whom have participated in the Langley Forest School, and has an abundance of experience and knowledge in the field.

According to Katelynn, a typical forest school day involves meeting at the outdoor location and an adventure walk through the park and/or trails. The children look for signs of what Mother Nature has brought to the Earth that day, such as ice, frost, fallen leaves, and insects. After the nature walk, the children gather for a snack and a warm drink (if it’s extremely cold), and on particularly cold days, a communal gathering around a fire that they have all assisted to build. This is usually an opportune time for the teachers to introduce any new observations or concepts that were observed on that day’s nature walk, and to discuss what was seen or felt from these observations.

Not only are they learning about their natural environment and an appreciation for Mother Nature, but they are also introduced to concepts such as natural habitats, weight variance (whether things float or sink in a puddle), salmon spawning, life cycles of insects, and much more. Afterward is free play, games and stories, and last of all, children are encouraged to sit quietly for the last 10 minutes of class and reflect what they have learned that day.

Two critical elements that come from a forest preschool that may not necessarily be as prevalent in a traditional indoor preschool are exposure to risk and free, non-associated play.

Free, non-associated play outdoors differs from what children do indoors. Indoors, children have toys and playthings that already have associated meaning. For example, that kitchen set usually (but not always) exists as a kitchen set. The doctor kit is most commonly used for playing doctor. The puzzle is a puzzle, etc. On the other hand, while outside, the children’s imaginations are further expanded as they assign meaning to a stick, a stump, a bubbling brook, and they create and construct meaning to the toys through pure imagination. This type of free play has been found to develop their motor skills and allows them to make decisions and solve problems, thanks to the more variable and less structured space of outdoors. Further, outdoor environments impose fewer constraints on children’s movement, allowing for more possibilities for gross motor exploration.

Finally, exposure to healthy amounts of risky play is not only essential to a child’s development but is in danger of being eliminated entirely from our children’s lives. We as a culture have become quite focused on removing all risk from our children’s lives – think of the term helicopter parents – and even further have fostered a bit of a culture of fear, thanks to rampant media. Little do we realize that risky play is an imperative, essential part of childhood, as it plays a crucial role in developing the child’s emotional regulating mechanisms, such as fear and anger. When the child engages in risky activities, such as over climbing a tall tree or jumping off a high platform, the child may feel fear. If they achieve climbing that tall tree, they learn that they can manage their fear, overcome it, and come out alive. If they don’t climb it, they are learning self-regulating techniques and exploring their limits. Even more, in rough and tumble play, such as wrestling, the child may feel anger or aggression if one person accidentally hurts another. Succumbing to the anger comes with the consequence of disengaging from the play – whereas feeling the anger and moving on from it rewards the child with re-engagement in the activity. As quoted from Psychology today, “according to the emotion regulation theory, play is, among other things, the way that young mammals learn to control their fear and anger so they can encounter real-life dangers, and interact in close quarters with others, without succumbing to negative emotion”.

This is not to say that children won’t experience all these skills and rewards when engaged in a traditional indoor schooling system – it’s just as important an experience as any outdoor one. It’s just incredibly important to ensure that children are not becoming “nature deficient”.

In short, if you aren’t one that’s keen on an outdoor school curriculum, you can always just make an effort to go outside and play more! After all, we live in one of the most diverse and vibrant places in the world, perfect for facilitating a child’s imagination.

Currently several forest schools are operating in the Greater Vancouver and outlying areas. Check out the following websites for more information:

West Vancouver

North Vancouver:



Bowen Island


There is also a new outdoor preschool opening in the greater Surrey area in spring of 2016.


Hansel and Gretel – an East Van Panto

UBT Review: Hansel and Gretel

My childhood memories of attending pantomimes are pretty limited – my only recollection is that of a visit to the James Cowan Theatre in Burnaby to see Gumboot Lollipop, upon which my mother would always volunteer me or my poor hapless brother to go up on stage. So, it’s a fond – albeit nervous – memory that was shaping how I was going to react to The York Theatre’s East Van Panto. And might I mention that my four-year-old daughter in tow kept asking if the witch was going to put her in the oven?

I was pleasantly surprised, and left the York theatre last Friday night with sore sides from laughing.

As I reside in the Fraser Valley, I feel a bit out of touch with the culture of East Vancouver. A swinging Saturday for me includes a trip to Costco and Willowbrook Mall. But once the East Van Panto got underway with their quirky and wonderful rendition of Hansel and Gretel, I found myself wishing that I, too, belonged to the culture of Commercial Drivers and Sunrisers.

To say Hansel and Gretel was charming and brilliantly written would be an understatement. The initial musical interlude, complete with the wit and charm of Veda
Hille and her ensemble set the tone. The backdrop set, painted by Laura Zerebeski, is bright, spooky, cartoon-esque and almost reminded me of Emily Carr. The narrator of the show was a barista who, fittingly, couldn’t spell or read the names of whom the drinks he brewed belonged to. And the first musical act was complete with beard-sporting, plaid wielding hipsters marching around with their coffees and mason jar mugs. Let’s not forget the adorable children that were part of the show, complete with their Bludnstone boots.

The Cultch did a splendid job of recreating the story of Hansel and Gretel, who are left in the forest because of a wicked stepmother who no longer wants to spend her money to feed them (really, it’s because evil stepmother is a food blogger and her bad reviews put all the restaurants in town out of business and sent them packing – so there’s actually nothing left to eat). So, as you can see, in this case, the traditional tale adapts its storyline to a sense of humor that only those who live in the Vancouver area would understand. For example, instead of the traditional forest, the kids are left out in Stanley Park, and are infiltrated in the early morning hours by Lululemon wearing, yoga posing joggers. I laughed so hard!

The show is full of hilarious 80’s musical numbers, cabaret chorus lines and even a hysterical rendition of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, complete with a giant gingerbread man jumping around like Justin Timberlake on the Ellen Degeneres show a few years back. Hansel and Gretel’s characters are well acted and delightful – my daughter particularly loved Hansel and his goofy personality. But it was hands down Allan Zinyk, who plays the Dame Edna drag queen reminiscent step mother/witch who stole the show. His pink brocade skirt suit, nasal voice and tongue-out taunting of the audience left everyone hollering in delight.

The best line of the night? When poor Hansel compares his immobility in the witch’s oven to Roberto Luongo’s rigid contract and no trade clause – upon which Gretel replies that “that joke would have been funny in the 2013 panto”.

I can’t wait to see what the Cultch comes up with next, and I will definitely be bringing my family! The East Van Panto plays at the York Theater until January 3, 2016. For more information check

Holiday Toy Review – Fisher Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo

Recently, my kids and I were lucky enough to try out Fisher Price’s newest kid on the block – The Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo – an interactive and entertaining toy aimed at children 9 to 36 months of age. At first I couldn’t figure out what the BeatBo was supposed to be – is it an alien? A bunny?

My daughters and I decided that it was a Martian (fitting, since we’re really into outer space right now)and that it is fun and easy for us to play with. In fact, this toy is an excellent tool to encourage your child’s gross motor skills through dance, sight and other commands.

What we liked best about BeatBo was that it learns and grows with your child through 3 modes:
•  Dance ‘n Move Mode shows BeatBo shaking his hips, nodding his head and playing lively music, which encourages your child to jump around, dance and get active.

• The Learning & Games Mode helps teach baby ABCs, colors, counting and more – and features the popular ‘Freeze Dance’ for even more fun.

• Finally, our personal fave in our house – the Customized Sing-Along Mode – which lets you or your child record a phrase – and BeatBo will remix it into his next song! My 2 year old daughter absolutely loves to speak into the BeatBo’s tummy and hear a silly version of her own voice chattering back at her!

The only thing that I would change about this toy is that the low volume setting is a bit too quiet for us, whereas the loud can get a bit noisy! Otherwise this toy was a huge hit in our house!

BeatBo is a great gift option this holiday season, as not only is it an interactive and fun toy, but offers the learning aspect as well. You can find Fisher Price Bright Beats BeatBo at most local retailers for around $49.99.

Holiday Toy Review – Barbie Saddle and Ride

Holiday Toy Review: Barbie Saddle and Ride

My 4 year old loves to play dolls. I could easily listen to her construct imaginary scenarios and act out settings all day. She especially loves to change all of Barbie’s outfits and re-enact the day’s events at preschool through the eyes of her various dolls.

So when I presented her with the Barbie Saddle and Ride to “play with” (so mommy could review it) she was absolutely thrilled. She immediately began to act out an imaginary world where Barbie was a horse trainer and was preparing for a big race.

The coolest thing about this toy is that it moves. By clipping Barbie’s gloved pink hand into her horse’s mane and push the button on the top of her horse’s brow, Barbie will lift herself up into the horse’s saddle on her back and the horse starts walking on its own! You can even groom the horse by brushing its mane.

This toy includes Barbie wearing equestrian fashion and accessories and her horse with movement feature. The toy requires 3 AAA batteries (not included).