Sushi, halal donairs, and Vij’s: we eat our way through Vancouver

Jason, the girls and I enjoyed a lovely three day business trip to Vancouver, including visits to herbal dispensaries, meetings with herbal medicine practitioners, a pet food kitchen visit, a trip to the biodiversity museum, and of course, several great eats in local restaurants.



If you are interested in some of the pictures from the business side of our trip, please check out my blogpost on Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital’s website. Jason has been studying herbal medicine, and we wanted to visit a few experienced practitioners and build the foundations of his herbal pharmacy for the clinic (which opens mid July!)


We brought the girls along for the ride, with promises from them to do their assigned homework. I made up these little booklets for them with check boxes for math and writing pages, as well as places for book summaries and scientific journal entries. They’ve been working away like busy beavers!



The first day our new friend Dr Katie took us out for sushi at a fabulous resturant (Tomoka?) on West Broadway. I warned her that the girls could pack the sushi away… And they did me proud! The highlights for us were the amazing yam rolls with fresh mango on top, and the decadent fresh oysters. I cut Sugar off at three. She could have eaten them all evening!




The next day we visited a vet clinic and a herbal dispensary, and the girls busied themselves with toys at each stop. Such good little business troupers.

Mid day, we stopped at the Kids Bookstore and they had a delightful half hour browsing (ok, so Daddy and I had a blast too.)


Then we went just a couple of doors down for the most deliciously healthy donairs, at Al Basha. The man who owns the place was such a charmer with the girls, and gave them some free sweets. Yummy. I totally recommend it! Spice got her fill of meat, and Sugar even got a Mirinda, an orange soda she hasn’t seen since Ethiopia. Cool.



After some serious swimming at a waterslide pool, we asked the girls where they wanted to stay. Sugar, the Little Chef, has seen Vikram Vij on a poster on the street earlier that day. “I want to go to Vij’s!” She begged. Well, we took them to the next best thing: his casual restaurant Rangoli next door. Again, the little monsters ate and ate and ate… My goodness, it was good! And reasonably priced too- just like an average Indian restaurant. Except that the food was anything but average. It arrived insanely quickly, too. For me, the portobello mushrooms and beet salad took the cake. Sugar was with me, but Spice died at (what else?) the lamb with dates. That kid is such a carnivore. Jason loved the pakoras, he wants me to add.








The next day, while the kids and Jason recovered from their gluttony by sleeping in, I met up with a super nice lady who is going to make dog coats for our shop. Then once the gang was up, we took off to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. I didn’t even know it was there, but thanks to a groupon, we discovered this lovely natural history archive.

It wouldn’t be for every family, since the museum is basically a library of natural history. But for our animal crazy kids, it was delightful. They loved studying the stuffed specimens. We had another great hour in the back of the museum, as the girls wrote their scientific journals: field reports on an animal. We all got a story from the interpreter on site, who was amazed at the girls’ depth of knowledge, and we inspected more specimens with microscopes and magnifying glasses. Super fun. And yes, we are geeks.





To conclude our wonderful trip in Vancouver, we had lunch at the French Cultural Centre at the Café de Salade des Fruites. So yummy… There is nothing as pleasing as a light white fish in lemon butter sauce. “The food is so good here!” Exclaimed Sugar. “Why is that?”

“Because it’s French,” ubiquitously replied her father.

“Butter,” replied her mother.




Then we were off down south to Washington for the Mother Earth News Fair… More news from our trip soon!

We support BC Teachers

It’s been years of cutbacks, no limits on class sizes, and declining supports for kids in the classroom.

Yesterday, the girls and I decided to stand with our local teachers and make our voices heard.


The girls are well aware that we have a right, privilege and duty to be active citizens in Canada. They know about some other places in the world where people, especially girls, are not allowed to have a public opinion. So I encourage them by sharing current affairs, examining even complicated issues in a way they can understand, and letting them form their own (although, of course guided!) opinions. Let me tell you (and ask their daddy!) they get pretty strong opinions on politics, the environment, culture, etc.

After deciding that they wanted to support the BCTF (try explaining unions to a 7 year old. That was tough!) the girls made up their own posters, and we stood on the bridge with 300 other supporters in Kelowna. Little did we know that we would be on the national news…


… and that Spice would grace the BCTF newsletter. And yes, she is completely that witty.


Way to go, little girls! And way to go teachers- for standing up, and not taking the bullying anymore. We stand with you, 100%!


Traditional Cornrows for Sugar’s Spring Style


From the whole lexicon of cornrowing and braiding in Ethiopia, my daughter Sugar decided that she wanted some classic Oromo cornrowing for her spring hairstyle. My only qualification was that it was pretty tight braids, since I didn’t want to have to do her hair until near the end of June. I’m timing it for summer camps, you see!



braid-balmWe went through many of my braid pictures from Ethiopia, and we decided to do some classically divided cornrows.

I love this style, because you divide the hair in sections, but then work with the natural curvature of her head to product rows. You start at one of the sections, and then work perpendicularly to the other section. I use Honey Almond Braid Balm in each cornrow, to protect the hair and nourish her scalp. It also really helps my arthritic hands grip the hair.



The only modern aspect of this style is finishing her braids in buns. Sugar is such an active kid, that this helps her from unraveling (and chewing on) her long braids.

Super cute, I think! And it should last for four – five weeks, no problem. As long as I can keep Sugar out of the pool….

Groovy Amharic Music: Yene Fikir

A friend posted this amazing Ethiopian Canadian du-wop song on Facebook, and I thought I would share it with you here. Apparently this great singer is a student at York University in Canada.

I know Fikir means “love,” because we named the Love and Hope Centre in Addis Fikir Tesfa. But does anyone know what Yene Fikir means? I think “in love,” but my Amharic is pretty shaky.

Yeah for Ethiopian Canadian talent!

Mother Earth News Fair… Here we come!

Next weekend, we are so excited to be going to the Mother Earth News Fair in Washington. It was a crazy idea that my husband went along with…


First, we will be spending three days in Vancouver. We are researching herbal dispensaries, for our new integrative veterinary hospital. We are also going to visit some suppliers, including a little factory that makes the first ever whole foods veterinary prescription diet. Then after three days, we are heading down for the weekend south of Tacoma to the Mother Earth News fair.


For $20, you get in for three days. What a deal! We are going to countless workshops on homesteading, herbal medicine, organic gardening, and general self-sufficiency. It’s a granola crunching paradise!

And for those of you that are surprised that Jason even agreed to going, remember that there are just as many farming exhibits as their are canine sessions. It’s not so very far from the fairs he grew up going to… Just with a smaller scale, organic focus.

The girls are super stoked about their kid sessions. Sugar wants to go to beekeeping, and Spice wants to learn to milk a goat. I know after the fair, we will have to tell her countless times how the neighbours may put up with backyard cluckers, but they sure as heck would draw the line at a goat. The bees, on the other hand, Jason already had a plan to start next spring, so Sugar won’t be as disappointed.

And as for yours truly, I’m happy to be floating around from canning and cooking sessions to meeting some amazing entrepreneurs. When the first issue of our Mother Earth News magazine arrived, I remembered Jason seeing an add for Bob’s Red Mill and exclaiming, “look! He’s a real person!”

Well, Bob will be there, so I’m determined to meet him. There are also lots of other socially driven business people I can’t wait to share ideas with.

Next week – blog posts from Vancouver and Washington!