Monday, January 26, 2009

Store Review: The Jean Queen

This weekend I took my little sister shopping. She's 12 years old, gorgeous, and just getting to the size and height to buy her first woman's size clothing. I've been dieing to take her on a sister-sister shopping trip for, I don't know, her entire LIFE, but this is the first time she's ever shown an interest in clothes. So we set off on sunday afternoon armed with $150 and 12 years of repressed shopping energy.

The challenge: My sister is 5'1 and a size 00 - where was I going to find grown up clothes that small?

I'd read the other day about a store on my street called The Jean Queen. The review said that they carry a wide range of styles in all sizes - petite to plus size. The clothes on their website looked pretty fun so it seemed as good a place as any to start.

As soon as we walked in I was assaulted by colour. The room was filled with every imaginable hue, and the walls and windows were lined with impossibly hip and eclectic ensembles. I also immediately noticed the two store clerks - two beautiful young woman, one about 5'2 and a size 1 or 2, and the other tall and curvy and around a size 16, so that was promising. Both were as impossibly stylish as the displays, and I wanted to immediately place myself in their hands and tell them to restructure my entire wardrobe. But alas the day was not about my shopping needs!

I approached the petite girl and asked for help with my sister. She pointed out the different areas of the store. They have a sizable clearance section, where I snagged a cute pair of embroidered jeans for my sister for $18. Their huge collection covers everything from lingerie and accessories to casual to night out on the town to office attire, and each section of the store is divided into two areas - small (size 00 - 12) and curvy (size 14 - 20). They also carry some junior sizes, which are around 00 - 6 but have a shorter leg and waist (great for 10-14 year olds). My sister wanted an outfit that she could dress up in, that was grown up without being age inappropriate. The shop clerk came back in about 2 minutes with a gorgeous high waisted black pencil skirt ($35), and a simple grey button down shirt with a small frill down the front ($22). My little sister fell in love with the outfit the minute she put it on, and I was pretty much dumfounded when I saw her. She looked like she had stepped off the cover of a magazine.

I really recommend this store to anyone. It's so great to find a store that has fashionable, good quality clothing for all body types and at reasonable prices. I'll definitely be going back soon!

2277 Commercial Drive
Monday to Saturday 11-7pm
Sunday 12-6pm

Note: I was not paid to write this review, nor did I receive any merchandise or services in return for writing it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What I'm reading online part 2

I found a link to this awesome website at, and now I'm totally hooked:

The website features a new flash fiction (a short story of less than 1000 words) every day. I find the choices of stories very diverse, and its fun to be able to get a daily dose of fiction that can be read in a couple of minutes. Anyway check it out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What I'm reading online....

I've recently discovered a cool online news magazine produced here in BC. I find many of the articles thought provoking and entertaining. The comments section often includes interesting rejoinders and some lively intellectual debates. I've recognized some of the journalists from other newspapers I've read, such as the Vancouver Province and Sun. Anyway, stop by and subscribe if you have a chance, and support some high quality independent journalism.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Homeless in Vancouver

Today, someone I know got mugged by a homeless person armed with a hypodermic needle a couple of blocks away from our apartment. Although I know that here in Vancouver such events are a rarity, it still comes as a shock. I walk home from work, sometimes late at night, down that street all the time. I'll continue to do so, but I won't be able to feel secure in my safety. My love for this neighbourhood now has a hard edge to it.

I was born in a country where so many brutal crimes are commited daily that you become desensitized. "Did you hear about that family that got hijacked?" "Was anybody killed?" "No, the father was shot, but he's recovering in hospital. The little girl's ok" "Oh, well they're lucky then".

But here in Vancouver, supposedly one of the most livable cities in the world, you just don't expect this kind of thing.

According to the 2008 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count ( there are thousands of people living on Vancouver streets. Here is a summation of the key findings:

  • The homeless population has grown by 22% since 2005, and the unsheltered population has grown by 40%
  • 2660 homeless people (those who did not have a place they could stay for a period of more than 30 days, and who paid no rent.)
  • 402 people who appeared homeless but could not be confirmed as they refused to be interviewed, or could not be roused
  • 94 accompanied children
  • 59 unaccompanied children
  • 59% of the total homeless population were unsheltered
  • 19% of the total homeless population had tried to enter a shelter that night but were turned away because the shelter was full
  • 48% had an addiction problem, 44% had a medical problem, 30% had a physical disability, and 31% had a mental illness.
  • Employment was a source of income for 1/4 of the sheltered homeless population, including 11% that had full time employment.
  • 43% of the total homeless population identified income assistance (welfare) as a source of income
Those last two points concern me the most. This is a first world country. It's unacceptable that people can be working, some full time, and not be making enough to put a basic roof over their heads. Minimum wage is currently $8 per hour, where it has been frozen since 2001. It is the second lowest minimum wage in Canada. If someone works full time on minimum wage, they will bring home about $1100 after tax. That's less that I pay for my apartment each month.

Even more unacceptable: A single employable person on welfare receives a mere $610 per month, and a single person with a disability rendering them unemployable receives $906.

There simply isn't enough low income housing to accomodate these people. Gordon Campbell anounced that he is going to spend $1.5 million to create 200 more emergency shelter beds ( but that just feels like trying to fix a plumbing leak with duct tape. Surely it would be better to focus on developing more non-market housing, addiction services, and better care for the mentally ill.

Until then, the homeless population of Vancouver will continue to increase. And with desperation for social services that simply aren't there, more may be driven to crime to get there next meal or fix. And the next victim could be you.

For the love of hot water

Our building has been plagued with hot water issues for the last year (thankfully we've only been living here for 3 months). Basically, the issue is that there hasn't been any. Whenever you try to take a shower you get about 30 seconds of hot water, then within a couple of minutes it's rapidly cooled to artic temperatures. On a good day you might get about 5 minutes of tepid water before freezing your socks off. Oh, and because the water couldn't stay off, the heating system (which is heated by the water) wasn't working properly either.

Well, this last week they finally decided to replace the tanks. After 5 days of intermittent water service (hot and cold) they finally pronounced the problem fixed. As I enjoy a searing hot bath AND shower (just for good measure) I said a little prayer of thanks to the god of universal plumbing and first world luxury.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

People who are still banging rocks together

Conversati0n I had at work a little while ago on the phone:

Time: 2:30 AM

Me: Hi, is this Mrs ***

Mrs ***: Speaking

Me: I got the voice message you left half an hour ago regarding an emergency with your budgie?

Mrs ***: Yes, sweetums is not acting herself. I'm afraid she might die. I need to see the Dr _ right away!

Me: Well, I'm afraid Dr. _ is at home sleeping at the moment. She will be in again at 9am, I can fit you in for the first appointment tomorrow.

Mrs ***: No, no, I need to see someone right away, I'm so worried.

Me: Why don't you take your bird to the __ Animal Emergency Clinic.

Mrs. ****: No, it's $200 just to get in. I don't want to pay that. I need to see Dr. _

Me: Ok, I'll just write you into the schedule...

Mrs ***: I can't wait till tomorrow, my bird might die!!

Me: Can you describe what your bird is doing?

Mrs ***: She's off. She's tired and just behaving strangely. What if she has a seizure?

Me: Is she fluffed up?

Mrs ***: No

Me: Does she have open mouth breathing?

Mrs ***: No

Me: Does she have blood or undigested food in her droppings?

Mrs ***: No! I need to see Dr _

Me: Dr _ is sleeping at the moment. She works 6 days a week and can't come in during the middle of the night It looks like your bird is ok to come in tomorrow morning. If your bird starts to seizure.....

Mrs ***: (not listening) My bird might die! I need to come in now!! Call Dr. _!

Me: If your bird starts to seizure, take him to the _ Animal Emergency Clinic.

Mrs ***: Thats 40 minutes away! I need to see Dr _ (the _ Animal Emergency Clinic is 5 mins away from the hospital I'm working at)

Me: You can also go to _ 24 hour hospital, I think that might be closer. Let me give you their #

Mrs ***: No, I demand you call Dr _ now, or you'll be responsible if my bird dies! I can't believe you won't help me. If my bird dies it will be your fault!

Me: If you're that worried about your bird, then take her to the emergency clinic.

Mrs ***: No! Call Dr. _ or I'll get you fired.

Me: Beleive me, if I call Dr _ at this hour I WILL get fired.

Mrs ***: So you're not going to call her?

Me: No. I've scheduled you in for a 9 AM appointment tommorrow morning.

Mrs *** ....... I can't make it, I have to work. Do you have anything on Saturday?

Me: *Head to Desk*

Monday, January 12, 2009

Best Places to Chill in Vancouver Part 1 nightlife

As decided by me, of course. In no particular order:

1) The Yale Hotel

This blues club has been around since the 1880s. For the last 20 years or so, it has been a concert venue and recording studio for blues artists from around the world. 7 days a week, a cover charge of $10-$20 gets you sweet live blues and an even sweeter atmosphere. Don't be alarmed by the rough looking crowd, it's actually one of the safest places I've visited. Grab a double rye and a barstool and watch the crowd and the band until you've built up enough dutch courage to brave the dance floor. The floor is filled with cougars, hipsters, truckers and guys straight out of one of the grittier wild westerns getting their groove on like it's nobodies business. Some of my best memories include watching Guitar Shorty (one of Jimi Hendrix's mentors) play guitar with his tongue, and watching a two hip guys in wheelchairs hit the dance floor with their partners. Definitely one of a kind.

2) Cafe Deux Soleil

This little restaurant/nightspot is a place that always feels like home when I walk in. It serves veggie burgers, delicious baked goods, giant mugs of tea and delicious beer. It's always filled with artist, poets, hippies and general iconoclasts. Every night features a different event including Monday poetry slams (vancouvers best) and open night Thursdays. Friday and Saturday nights feature an eclectic mix of musicians and a rowdy dance floor. One night a redneck rockabilly folk act was followed by what appeared to be a eastern european gypsy party band, much to the bemusement of my husband.

3) The Railway Club

Cheap delicious food, great drinks, live rock bands, friendly crowd, an interior that looks like a railway carraige? How can you lose. Has been around since the 1930s. Probably the friendliest place on my list, so the best place to visit if you're alone or in a small group.

4) The Commodore Ballroom

Simply the best place to watch a concert in Vancouver. Large sprung dancefloor, art deco design, comfy booths and tables, lounge areas, 1000 person capacity, and great food if you want to get there early and eat a preshow dinner. Some of the bands I've seen there: The Reverend Horton Heat, Tom Morello, OAR, Gogol Bordello.

5) Richards on Richards

Another great place to watch a show. A bit more clubby and a little less friendly than the commodore, it still has a really cool design to the floor and surrounding balcony. Also features some great reggae and rock shows. Has a cool underground vibe if you pick the right show.

6) The Jazz Cellar

This is one of my favourite places to go when I want to dress up and have a romantic evening. The crowd is a little older (I ran into my old english teacher from high school one night for example), and the atmosphere sedate and elegant. But the music! Nothing better that sipping a fabulous martini, closing your eyes, and imagining yourself languishing gracefully at a Great Gatsby weekend party while the music washes around you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Apparently the feminist revolution never happened

So tonight I went out to see a movie with two of my friends, but between them they had seen most of the new releases. So we watched Bride Wars. Please, please, will someone burn all evidence that such a vicious misogynistic piece of crap was ever produced? Really, was it authored by Rush Limbaugh?

For those who don't know what the movie is about, here is the impossible premise:
Two succesfull and well-adjusted woman, one a schoolteacher and one a successful corporate lawyer, have been best friends since childhood. A completely incongrous facet of their personalities is that each is obsessed with having a glizty wedding at the Plaza Hotel. They each get engaged at the same time, and accidentally get their weddings booked for the same day at the hotel. There are no other bookings available, so an all out war ensues. The movie messages?

1) Woman have to marry to feel fulfilled, or their lives will be empty and meaningless and they will have to sit at home alone eating ice cream and getting fat.

The men the girls get engaged to aren't even nice. Their relationships lack passion. They don't seem to have anything in common. But all that matters is We're getting married OMG squeal!!!" Their single girlfriends are portrayed as shallow, bitchy, and mentally unstable (but not in an interesting way).

2) It is impossible for a well-adjusted woman to have a successful career. She only appears to be confident, intelligent and driven. Really, she's just an unstable control freak who will eventually break down and have to be replaced by a man.

This one doesn't have to be explained, because that's exactly how it happens in the move shudder

3) Being fat is the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman, they can never be succesful in society and no one will ever love them.

There are no fat woman in this movie. Oh wait, there is, she was the one who made the mistake in the wedding reservations that started the whole "catastrophe" snicker. A major plot point of the movie actually involves Kate Hudson gaining 5 invisible pounds on her size 0 frame and being unable to fit into her dress oh no, whatever shall we do?? Also, Candace Bergen is never shown below the waist on camera, because heaven forbid we ever be exposed to her fat size 12 ass.

OK, now I have to go spend a few hours on to purge my soul

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Introducing: Zuma!

Yes, we finally agreed on a name for our 13 week old kitten (or rather, my husband just stopped arguing with me). Her name is Zuma! And no, I didn't name her after the online game (which I hadn't even heard about until a couple of hours ago). It's a fairly common Zulu surname in South Africa. It also means "to surprise, take unawares" which really works for our hyperactive little hunter! Also, she was a bit of a surprise as we had previously decided not to get a second cat. I managed to withstand the first batch of abandoned kittens that passed through my work, but the second litter proved too much for me!

Daily Dish - Coconut Rice Curry

Since I love to cook I'm going to occasionally post a recipe for what I made for dinner. All recipes featured are my own creation.

Coconut Rice Curry

3 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1 cup cubed med-firm tofu
1 cup chopped cauliflour
1 cup chopped brocolli
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil
250 ml Coconut Milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
splash of lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Agave syrup (or honey for non vegans)
Curry Powder

Cooking time: about 1/2 hour, including preparation

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices in the olive oil until tender. Add the rice, coconut milk, vegetable stock, syrup, peanut butter, lemon juice and rice vinegar, stirring together well. Keep simmering the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and starts to absorb into the rice. When the sauce is nice and thick, toss in the veggies and tofu. Cover with a lid to cook the veggies for about 5 -8 minutes (until cooked but not too soft). Serve!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

West coast weather, work, and a new kitten

Today is the sort of day where in a logical world only a raving idiot would move further than three feet from their doorstep. And even then, said idiot would only venture that far if properly equiped with gumboots, umbrellla, raincoat, rainpants, a flask of hot coffee, and a dire family emergency occuring right there on the soggy pavement.

Of course, the world being the irritatingly irrational place it is, we actually have to squelch our way to work. And I do mean squelch. Thanks to a freak two weeks of snow followed by a torrential downpour of rain you can't walk two steps without sinking into 6 inches of icy slush. Let's hope it all runs off in a few days.

I currently work as a VeterinaryAssistant at two different clinics. "Veterinary Assistant" is a rather ambitious term. A more accurate description would be "clinic-slave,-scapegoat-and-cleaner-up-of-all-things-foul". Don't get me wrong, I actually love MOST of my job. In fact, I'm quite happy to spend 75% of my time cleaning up unmentionables, wiping dogs bottoms, washing floors and cleaning litter boxes, because the other 25% is pretty wonderful. I love administering medications, playing with boarding dogs, brushing cats and grooming the animals. And really, I couldn't work in any other environment. The only thing I dislike is being so low on the office hierarchy, I spend a lot of time either being ignored, micromanaged or talked to as if I took the special bus to school. Ah well, it can't be like this forever.

In other news, I adopted a kitten. She is currently nameless as my husband and I can't stop arguing about it. I favour Zuma or Trillian, he prefers Cat-thulhu or Mewsollini. If we don't decide soon "that damn kitten" is going to stick

Monday, January 5, 2009

Testing Testing 123

Welcome to Out of Africa.

I live in Vancouver with my husband and two cats. I work in a veterinary clinic. It's been a long time since I've been home.