Saturday, 22 March 2014

When Travelling with Kids... Explore a Local Market!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to come by at local markets
wherever you go around the world. These are in Santiago, Chile.
There's only one week until spring break! And goodness knows, after the winter we've had this year... and with spring yet to show its face for more than a brief peek, we need that break! 

In our neck of the woods, many people will be travelling with their families. Some will go to the mountains to play in the last vestiges of snow on the ski slopes. Some will go next door to BC's lower mainland to take in the spring flowers and blooming trees... to catch a glimpse of true spring and to feel like spring is really here on more than just the calendar! Some will simply venture to nearby cities to visit with friends and family. And some will go to far off, heat-packed adventures and destinations.

Markets always have something to distract, something to
intrigue and something to amuse children like these
live crabs in Chiang Dao, Thailand.
Travelling afar is something that really inspires our family. 

It opens our eyes to the ways of the world. It gives us unfamiliar landscapes to explore, new people to meet, unique experiences to share as a family that help us to bond together with an original, shared history, and unusual adventures to undergo. It exposes us to different ways of living this life we are given. And it helps to put our lives in perspective.

We have travelled a lot over the years with our children, and I was amazed this morning when we tallied it up... 14 different countries with our children, spanning four of the six continents. And there has been one common experience, it seems, no matter where we travel... we inevitably wind up at a market.

At first, we saw them as safe and relatively inexpensive (compared to restaurant fare) places to find healthy and nutritious food on the go. When travelling with young children (who were, coincidentally, picky eaters), finding a farmers’ market was a godsend. We always knew we could find wonderful fruits and veggies, breads and cheeses and treats… and things to distract and inspire us too.
The tight lanes that cut through the ramshackle buildings along
Bangkok's Chao Phraya River were packed with market stalls.

To make the most of our market experience, we always travelled with an inexpensive and simple kit. This will all fit in a large sized Ziplock freezer bag. Here are our family’s travel essentials when vacationing with children:

Our Kitchen Travel Kit
The neat thing about travelling is that it exposes you to
incredible variety. You can truly appreciate just how diverse
our world's edible food system truly is. This photo was taken
in Singapore. Who knew there were so many varieties of Durian!?

---> Ziplock bags for packing up market treats, dividing them into portions & keeping them food-safe (I take sandwich-sized and snack-sized bags, held together in a bundle by an elastic)

---> A small portable plastic cutting board for preparing sandwiches, slicing carrot sticks and preparing other food on the go (I use an old Ikea plastic half board for this)

---> A sharp paring knife and protective sleeve (I love my Pampered Chef knife for its thick, light protective sleeve but a pocket knife works well too)

---> A small travel-shampoo-sized bottle of dish soap & a universal sink plug (big, flat & rubber)

---> A sharpie for labeling bags with family members’ names (using goofy names and stick drawings makes it all the more fun)… so you know who hasn’t finished their veggies!
You really get a sense of how important certain food elements
are to a local cuisine, when you see a gigantic sack of
spicy hot, ground chili peppers like this! Walking through a
local market gives you unique insights into the
culinary tastes and preferences of a foreign culture.

---> Portable, reusable shopping bags (Eagle Creek makes awesome ones that fold into themselves, packing away in a very neat, very portable way with a clip that attaches brilliantly to my camera bag, belt loop or purse strap)

---> A cork screw and rubberized expanding bottle top for those adult-beverage market finds (to enjoy once the kids are asleep!)

Portland's Sunday Market had a whimsical booth filled with
hilarious head pieces... bolts, knives, pencils, saws, hammers,
tennis rackets... all made to look like you'd been
bludgeoned through the head! 
Now that our kids are in high school and beyond, we still seek farmers’ markets out, for their food, for their beauty, for their entertainment, for their treats and for that sense of connecting with the community in which we are travelling.

Walking through a market gives you a sense of every day life... of how the people really live. And for me, it never gets “old.”

  • There are new people to meet. 
  • Scrumptious foods to try.
  • New stories to hear. 
  • And there is always that creative thing that startles and surprises me… sometimes with its beauty, sometimes with its creativity, sometimes with its mouthwatering delectability and sometimes with is sheer, creative audacity.--->

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee
Thanks to Towne Square Orthodontics who will be sponsoring our market's Sprouts (Kids') Program this year.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Inspiration: Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Monster Carrots and Wee Sprouts

This past week I had the opportunity to go and hear Chris Hadfield speak at the Winspear. An incredibly brilliant man and a highly skilled, adeptly trained astronaut, he was funny, witty, personable, and thoroughly entertaining to hear speak. The most important message that I took away from his talk, was that everybody has the capacity within them to be inspiring.

No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter where you work, no matter what you do with your days, everyone has the ability and the capacity to inspire others. For him, it's about the way you live, the words you speak, the things you do, the kindness you show others, and your willingness to share yourself with others.

Volunteering at our farmers' market is one of those things for me. It's how I try to inspire others. And I am surrounded by people who inspire me in my volunteer work there.

Inspiration can also be found in so many places up at the market.
  • It may lie in a rainbow of brightly colored fruits and vegetables at a produce stand. 
  • It may lie in the vibrancy, imagination, bravery and creativity of the busking scene.
  • Perhaps it comes from the connections you form with your neighbors and friends while you spend time at the market.
  • It may lie in an outstandingly delicious food truck meal.
  • It may also lie in the creative flavors or smells or ingredients that are combined to make a particularly unusual and surprisingly delightful flavour of gelato, fruit wine, jam jar or bar of soap.
  • Perhaps it comes from the assortment of items that you pick up and put in your bag or basket that are an inspiration, allowing you to create amazing meals at home.
  • It may lie in the pride a vendor has for an item that they carefully crafted themselves.
  • It may come from a vibrant smile, a snippet of overheard conversation, or the sound of laughter somewhere in the crowd.
  • Or it may come from the beauty in the delicate lines, intriguing shape and beautiful form of a piece of jewelry or a turned bowl that an artist has crafted.
  • And for those of us who love the outdoors, it might just simply be that you can shop for amazing things out in the open with the sunshine and the warm air.

All of these things, these sources of inspiration, are just around the corner. Outdoor market season is coming.

For me, I find inspiration in all of these things. But I also find inspiration from working with a group of dedicated people. People who volunteer their time and energy and creativity to make their communities better places to live, work and raise their families. People who believe in supporting their community by helping to create a fun place to gather and a terrific reason to get together.

Generosity is one of the things that is most definitely an inspiration. Dr. Darcy Dietz, of Towne Square Orthodontics, has made a wonderfully generous financial contribution so that we can run our Sprouts children’s program, new to our market this year. Though I can't share details of that program yet, as we're still planning it, it is something that we are very excited about. It is going to be a fun way to inspire children, helping them to make their own healthy choices about their food, and to have a truly great time at the market each week. It is a program that will have your back, parents! There are so many ways that our children were steered off track in this world. Our Sprouts program will help you to help them make good nutritional choices in their young lives.

One of the other things that Chris Hadfield spoke about is that we must keep the arts alive. Music and art have been around since before we had the ability to read and write and record our history. It is one thing to be technically brilliant at something and to strive to continue learning throughout your life, but it is equally important to develop an appreciation for the arts, if not to dabble in them yourself.

I want to share with you a couple of artistic things are happening behind the scenes at the market that I have found to be tremendously inspirational lately.

Coming together behind the scenes, is our children's program called Sprouts.  Karli Anderson of Curbside Studio Inc  has donated her time, creativity and effort to create an outstanding logo for the program. Each letter is filled with the fruit and vegetables that we sell that our market. From Colin Dargatz's cute little watermelons to the mountains of carrots at Riverbend Gardens or the Holden Colony's stall... See?! There truly is inspiration to be found in fruits and vegetables! And I have to say that I am simply awed by the creativity and the talent that went into creating this logo for us.

As strange as it may sound, browsing Pinterest and building a Pinterest board is a great way of dabbling in the arts and experiencing and appreciating the creativity of others. Karen, one of our board members, found an image of a tree turned into a carrot on Pinterest. The talented and creative Sean Milne of Seanic Landscape Construction is donating his time and energy to make these amazing carrots, so that we can add them to our market scene this year. Using a highly technical computer program, a foam machine and sprayed concrete, he is working on crafting these gigantic, fun & festive carrots. Just wait until you see them!

These monster carrots provide us with an opportunity. We are always looking for community minded businesses and people to sponsor our market. And we are dependent on these sponsorships to help offset our operating costs. Should you, your family or business like to have your name on a carrot, please contact us and we'll explain the way it works. Our Contact Link

Soon, SOON, the snows will leave us, the ice will melt and market season will be upon us at long last. It's going to be a great market this year!

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee