Mission Totally Possible

I am on a mission, well two actually.

I am on a mission. Well maybe it’s two actually.

As a citizen of our beautiful valley I have decided it’s a mission of mine to Support Cowichan Valley Business Growth. As a mother; an aunt; a wife I am on a mission to Support the Well Being of My Family.

Turns out my missions align perfectly. In fact, they might actually be one after all. To keep my family and my community happy, healthy and thriving. How you ask? Keep it local; keep it fresh.

Make if your mission to buy local; buy fresh
COWICHAN GREEN COMMUNITY BUY LOCAL! BUY FRESH! ONLINE MAP

Shopping locally; buying fresh ensures my family eats healthy. At the same time I’m supporting my community by spending money with local businesses, markets and farms.

I am introducing my daughters and my niece to our Valley’s many hidden treasures. They in turn are taking their friends. I am teaching this generation to support the Cowichan Valley’s economy by spending money here. To purchase from independently locally owned businesses whenever possible.

I buy the occasional treat but my focus is on food for the family. Teens are the ones with disposable income. They have money to spend. My daughters now routinely bring friends to Downtown Duncan to shop. They lunch and snack at local restaurants more frequently than fast food.

Silver lining is that when they eat locally, they’re usually eating healthier foods. Not saying that’s why they do it, but it just so happens to be true.

Even the candy they buy is healthier (www.rembrandtschocolates.com).


Don’t tell them this but they are also getting more exercise by walking to Downtown Duncan.

One of the ways I’m supporting Cowichan Valley business growth is through social media. I’m proud to tweet local  . I want a Twitter feed jam-packed with everything Cowichan Valley. To follow people from and to be followed by people of the valley.

I’ve hit a bit of a snag. There are not as many local businesses Tweeting as I’d hoped. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times…“Twitter? Oh we don’t need that. We’re local only.” If you have a business, yes; yes you do. Won’t let that slow me down. That’s my mission for another day 🙂

Yesterday we went and got a bunch of fresh, local produce. Today we’re having fun partaking in the 4th Annual Cowichan Eat Local Challenge. Thank you Transition Cowichan and Cowichan Green Community!

I am happy spreading the “shop local” message. I am happy helping Cowichan Valley businesses grow. I will continue to shout it out loud; I will continue to shout it over the Internet…

Shop local…make it YOUR MISSION to support your community, your neighbours & your friends! Pretty please 😉

Hope you’re getting out and about enjoying the incredible Valley weather (and all the nummy fresh produce). Take care!

Shelley

 

Cucumber; Did you know?

The cucumber did not originate in one particular place…

They were found in many parts of the world and as far back as prehistoric times. The Bible contains a very early cucumber reference.

Cucumber People by BreannaThere are Chinese writings dating back fifteen hundred years that reference the cucumber. The Romans had cucumbers, small and gnarled, but cucumbers nonetheless.

When explorers came to the New World they found cucumbers growing everywhere.

Many of the imperfections, the knobs and prickles, the spines and warts, that originally adorned cucumbers, have long been eliminated by selective horticulture. Most new cucumber varieties are quite straight rather than curved in the shape of a half-moon like their ancestors.

Hadn’t really intended on discussing cucumbers in particular 😉 Plan was to share two dressing or dip recipes and then let you know I’ve added a new page of salad recipes…

Cucumber Dressing or Dip

  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumbers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill (optional)
  • 1 cup sour cream

Drain the cucumbers very well. Mix with the salt, lemon juice and dill. Fold into the sour cream. Chill. Serve with sea food or vegetable salads. Makes about 2 cups.

Parsley Dressing or Dip

  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dill pickle
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Mix together the parsley, dill pickle, tomatoes and salt. Fold into the sour cream. Chill. Great served with sea food. Makes about 2 cups.

Veggies for dipping

Select a variety of crisp, chilled fresh vegetables such as cucumber slices, celery stalks, carrot sticks, cauliflower flowerets, Bel­gian endive, artichoke leaves, radish roses, green and red pepper sticks, tiny plum tomatoes and small mush­rooms. Arrange them attractively around the dip.

Salad Recipes

Hope you enjoy the recipes!

Take care,

Shelley

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends! Pretty please 😉

Support Local Farm Markets in your area

Fun Making Videos About Cowichan

Wanted to share these videos about Cowichan…

Been having fun out and about around the Cowichan Valley enjoying the tremendous sunshine with Robert and the girls.  My intentions are always good, we take a TON of pictures and I plan to write about it all…then life gets in the way or we’re off exploring and taking more pics before I get around to it.

So I thought it might be fun to put together some videos comprised of the pictures.

Robert & I went and checked out the art show at Cowichan Valley Secondary. I am so glad that we did. I was in awe of the tremendous amount of talent (so was he). I don’t think either of us expected to be as blown away as we were.

Each time we go to market we chat, we learn, we sample and we pick up goodies for home. We also pick up business cards, flyers and take a bunch of pictures. Here’s a video from our last outing (May 2015) to the Saturday Duncan Farmer’s Market.

While I was on youtube uploading these videos, I came across two really great videos about Cowichan that I’d like to share…
Introduction to Providence Farm; Providence Farm, a Therapeutic Community

I am proud to call these people my Cowichan Valley neighbours.

Once Upon a Day in Cowichan

This video about Cowichan, the music, the scenery is all absolutely stunning.

A Cross Story Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island BC

I enjoyed and appreciated being taken along on this particular journey up the mountain.

 

Shop Local Buy Locally support local business your neighbours your friends your community about Cowichan Valley Economy BoomingHope you’re all getting to enjoy our wonderful weather. I’m off to pick some of my home grown strawberries. Who would ever have thunk it? Me digging in the dirt voluntarily…If nothing else, I’ve certainly learned in life to never say never because you just never know what the future holds.

Hope you enjoyed these videos about Cowichan. Take care!

Shelley

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends.

Spring has Sprung in Cowichan

Stepahnie Ryan ILoveCowichan.ca Winningest Smile Award

Spring the busy prelude to the even busier season of Summer…

I love being busy. Busy is good. Keeps you out of trouble, keeps you happy and minimizes time for sweating the small stuff. That being said, I’m way behind on thanking May’s winningest smile winner for our most AMAZING customer experience and have soooo many fun times to recap I’m losing track.

You know life’s pretty good when keeping track of the fun times is a problem 🙂

Spring was birthdays galore May 21st, May 27th, May 31st & June 3rd…plus mother’s day too!

My youngest turned 14 on May 21st.

Spring Winningest Smile Award May 2015 Stephanie RyanMay 27th (Robert’s birthday celebration) was made even more memorable thanks to Stephanie Ryan.

What a wonderful person, a wonderful smile, an absolutely wonderful experience! Thank you Stephanie, so happy to have met you.

 

Check out that smile! May’s winner of the Winningest Smile Award is Stephanie Ryan from the Mongrillian 3300 Cowichan Lake Road Duncan, BC.

Stepahnie Ryan ILoveCowichan.ca Winningest Smile Award
Stephanie Ryan Winningest Smile Award

The food at The Mongrillian was as always super delicious, fresh and healthy. I realize we need to get better at taking pictures of the food. We’re always so busy digging in we forget.

9 people and we all chose the same thing; to build our own stir fry. You pick your meat, you add the vegetables of your choice and top it with a sauce or sauces (I like to mix them up). Stephanie hands it over to the kitchen and before you know it, your food is being delivered piping hot on a bed of rice (or chowmein if you prefer). In the meantime, you get to enjoy a dish of soup while you wait.

We celebrated Mom’s birthday June 3rd. With the lovely spring weather we were able to enjoy supper outside. We’ve recently adopted a new family member (that’s just the way we roll) whose birthday is May 31st. Pictures to come!

Robert & I went to the new Cowichan Farmer’s Market on Wednesday. Being able to grab freshly picked spring veggies on the way home from work is so convenient!

 

Take care!

Shelley

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends. Construction is almost done (today should be the last day). Show your support, shop Downtown Duncan 

PPS- In case you missed it…Robert had a Saturday off  we enjoyed a spring outing to the Duncan Farmer’s Market together.

 Click to add a blog post for The Mongrillian on Zomato

Hi Ho Hi Ho to Duncan Farmer’s Market I Did Go

A Perfect Day For a Trip to Duncan Farmer’s Market

Nothing beats a sunny May Saturday outing to the Duncan Farmer’s Market. So many people, so many goodies and so many smiles. Plus, I finally met Farmer Abe!

Bought those Providence Farm veggies (can’t remember what they are called anybody?). Used them in a stir fry as suggested and wow were they nummy. Speaking of nummy…see those baby potatoes from Katie Farm, they were darned nummy in our tummies too.  What a wonderful young lady selling healthy sweets…Robert says that the orange-cranberry loaf was amazing too!

Bought some Bacon from Henry & Jones Beef at the Duncan Farmer's Market
Where’s the Beef?

Guess what I did with the freshly made that morning corn tortillas? Stuffed them with tomatoes, Henry & Jones bacon and lettuce from Katie Farm.

My daughter said the BLTs were absolutely scrumptious.

When we lived in the Eastern Townships (Quebec) we only ate farm fresh meat. I had forgotten what a difference grass fed makes and that the only thing better than bacon, is fresh local bacon.

 

Fall 2014 Duncan Farmer's Market
Fall 2014 Duncan Farmer’s Market

Looking back I see my last trip to the Duncan Farmer’s Market that I wrote about was a rainy one. Going on a fall day is fun in a certain kind of way (especially holding a fresh brewed coffee) but going on a sunshine, flower filled spring day one ups it for sure 😉

Wasn’t even intentional, capturing two different seasons at the Duncan Farmer’s Market, just worked out that way. I’m sure glad that it did.  Spring flowers may beat out falling leaves, but look at the colourful fall produce.

Attending the Duncan Farmer’s Market is just like any other local shopping spree for me…I love to visit with the people as much as I love to look at (and buy) their goods. Have you ever noticed that everyone has interesting stories to tell? I have, and that’s why I like talking to every single vendor there. I sincerely like learning about the person and what they do.

In other words each stop at each booth takes quite a bit of time and I never seem to get as far as I hope to. I mean, sure I usually make it all the way through from one end and back, but I don’t get to stop for as many chats as I’d like and I run out of money sooner than I’d originally planned 😉

Speaking of running out of money, I did notice that more of the vendors now take Square as payment. Nice!

I’ve decided from now on I will alternate which end of the Duncan Farmer’s Market I start at each time.

 

 

 

 

Locally Owned

Shop Cowichan Challenge #ILoveCowichan

and Locally Made Bliss…

Wow! April is gone poof, just like that. Now we’re officially half way through May.

Ever notice how May in the Cowichan Valley looks more like mid summer across the rest of Canada? So happy we live in the warm land.

Container garden strawberries herbsMy Kale is growing, strawberry plant is budding and my roses are blooming.

Never underestimate the healing power of digging in the dirt with your hands or the joy of eating something that you’ve grown yourself from a seed.

This wasn’t exactly where I was originally headed, but come to think of it my sister’s flowers are most definitely a beautiful bounty of locally owned bliss. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking…

Anyway, where was I? Right, Wednesday and Friday after school the girls and I like to explore locally owned businesses.

We call it treasure hunting. Sometimes we hunt for hidden treasures that we’ve never found before, other times we head to a favourite spot for some locally made bliss.

Wednesday we visited a place that’s  near and dear to our hearts and tummies. We stopped to grab a treat at a cute little locally owned bakery in Duncan.  It’s almost torture following our own rule of one treat each. This visit we picked an eclair, a cream horn, a custard doughnut and a chocolate covered banana. I had fruit 😉 They all looked AMAZING!

  • Rated as to die for BLISSFUL: the eclair and cream horn
  • Rated as interesting the banana I liked it but didn’t love it
  • Rated as pretty good after brushing some of the sugar off the custard doughnut (was apparently a bit too sweet)

 

We’ve purchased many birthday cakes from Westfalian Bakery.  Every single one was rated as BLISSFUL.

Locally Owned…

Westfalian Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Take care!

Shelley

PS- Remember to shop local…support your community, your neighbours & your friends.

Winner of the Winningest Smile is

Flynn's Fish n Cafe

Smile…

It’s good for your health, it makes you feel good and you can pass along that smiling good feeling to someone else. These are just 3 great reasons to smile, the list goes on.

It’s always been my belief smiling makes you better at what you do; more successful. When you smile at someone, they will usually smile right back at you.

Which leads me to my point…ever notice how quickly people will mention an unpleasant experience they’ve had as a customer?  Well, that’s not my point. Sorry, had to slip that in there.

My point is….

Today’s Winner of the Winningest Smile is Amanda from Flynn’s Fish n’ Cafe in Duncan.

Of course the mouth watering poutine played a role, but what made this a truly special experience was that Amanda GENUINELY smiled the entire time that she interacted with us. She didn’t just take our orders, she chatted. She visited with us as best she could, while keeping up with and smiling at other customers.

Amanda’s radiant smile…

Amanda fromFlynn's in Duncan a genuine smile

I have promised myself that I will make more of an effort to share my service with a smile stories with other people and I believe even more importantly, to always thank the individual who is smiling as they help me. Encourage service with a smile by complimenting it when it happens.

Thank you Amanda and cheers to all you service with a smilers out there! Your smile helps grow a local business (and makes people feel good to boot).

Service with a Smile Award

Flynn’s Fish n Cafe Menu food is cooked fresh to order, reasonable prices, plentiful servings and when the right people are on…service with a smile. Ideal for take out.

 Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please 🙂

 

How to Lose a Customer in 5 Minutes

Lose a Customer Step by Step…

One of the reasons I like shopping at smaller local stores is that I enjoy being appreciated as a customer. You just don’t get that from big box stores. Unfortunately some businesses pass the “how to lose a customer” torch from one staff member to the next.

There is a store that I regularly spent money at. I had stopped shopping there because the owner was mean. I always felt like serving me was an inconvenience. Help was never offered, I always had to ask.

The final straw was one evening when I rushed to get there before closing. I arrived fifteen minutes before the posted closing time. I could see the owner inside counting money. When I knocked she didn’t even glance my way.

The other day my daughter asked if we could go in. We had some time to kill so I decided to give it another shot. We weren’t greeted upon arrival, but within a few minutes (big improvement) someone asked if we needed help finding something.

When we got to the cash we waited a bit for someone to come over. While waiting I pointed out to my daughter that this was a perfect example of what never to do in retail. This is a small store, with an unattended till right by the front door. All staff was at the back of the store.

As we were being served two other staff came and stood nearby. It sounded like one was being trained by the other. The person taking care of us seemed to be the most senior of three.

While she was finishing up the transaction, it seemed like she was preoccupied and annoyed by having to serve me. I handed her my money, she took it and closed her till drawer. As she started to turn away I nicely asked her for my change.

How to lose a customer in 5 minutes image

How not to Lose a Customer…See them, hear them, communicate with them

She turned back to me and quite firmly (not at all nicely) informed me I had given her exact change. I politely answered no I had not. I told her what I’d given her. She says (I kid you not) “then I must have given you your change.”

I proceeded to dump out my change, maybe I was wrong. There was no combination that would add up to what she now claimed to have given me. She tossed my change onto the counter, turned her back to me and proceeded to train the new (shocked) staff member.

As we left I quietly reminded my daughter that this is why I had stopped shopping here, and that I never would again. Oh and that she had just witnessed first hand an excellent example of how to lose a customer in 5 minutes.

Twitter I’ve got to get this off my chest before I explode!

OK so that’s an exaggeration but (especially using Twitter)…

I do have a new particularly frustrating Social Media pet peeve…automation! It was only a matter of time.

I absolutely hated it when it hit phone systems Press 1 for English. Then e-mail “This is an automated message, please do not respond to this e-mail.”  Wow that’s helpful, NOT!

Twitter Social Media
This image is from the Bigstock collection.

Yeah now we have automated responses for Social media! Say Twitter for example. When I follow people I’m now increasingly seeing automated thank you tweets and receiving ads as direct messages.

Oh, and then there are the automated acknowledgements for retweets! Not so great when you retweet the same person multiple times and are automatically thank you tweeted for each one.

Hello it’s social media! It’s a way to COMMUNICATE directly with your customers and potential customers. It’s a way to network with other small businesses. It’s increased exposure for your brand within your community, and if you so desire globally.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again it’s important to thank new followers. When I say thank them, I don’t mean via some repetitive cheesy automated message. If the automated message isn’t insult enough, it usually includes a promo for the automation application as well.

I see this as an indicator that I may not have a great customer experience in person. If they can’t be bothered acknowledging me online, why would that change at the till?

I like to treat new followers as if they’ve walked into my place of business. I get to know them a little, which means I check out their Twitter profile.

If they are someone that I want to associate with I follow them back. I post a personalized thank you tweet based on what I’ve learned about them.

When I see people favoriting, retweeting and mentioning me in their tweets I also thank them. Not every time, but I do tweet personal thanks regularly.

Call it Twitter etiquette if you want, but to me it’s just plain manners.

PS – There, now that I got that off my chest I feel much better 🙂 Don’t forget…

Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please :)