Wedding Photos

I got married on October 6th, 2013.

We had a small ceremony on a dock at Buntzen Lake in Port Moody, BC, followed by a lunch with our extended family at Chomp! Vegan Eatery in Port Moody. We were extremely lucky to have great weather, as it rained for a week prior and we had no backup plan. We all got ready at our condo, then drove out to the lake.

Our dog Michi acted as ring bearer.

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (8) Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (11)

My Mom walked me down the aisle with Michi.

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (26)

We wrote our own vows.

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (57)Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (60)

We did a rose ceremony for our mothers to honour the effort they put into raising us.

Hubby`s mother did a bible reading as he is agnostic, I am more Buddhist so my mother read a poem she picked.

We exchanged our custom, handmade wooden rings from Stout Woodworks. Our rings were all made of ebony, with a turquoise inlay in my engagement ring, and my wedding band inlay is made of crushed up seashells from our first vacation in Cuba and my year in Africa.

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (64)rngs

I did, He did, We`re married!!

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (75)

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (79)

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (95)

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (150) Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (136)

We had a post-wedding lunch with our extended family.

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (167) Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (191)

Which was a perfect reason to take photos of our handsome foster son, my cousin!

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (169)

Our Wedding reception took place the following Saturday. We had pictures taken at Trethewey House in Abbotsford, BC, before heading to our reception at Straiton Hall.

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (35)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (31)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (27)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (23)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (19)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (10)

Cutting the cake

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (110) Reception- Lacey & Vinod (188)

First dance

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (195)

I split the usual father-daughter dance instead with my brother and Mom

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (204) Reception- Lacey & Vinod (202)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (201)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (207)

Our awesome band led by hubby`s friend, a music teacher.

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (137)

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (107) Reception- Lacey & Vinod (106)

We had a photobooth backdrop set up for all our guests to have a portrait taken instead of a guestbook, some were amazing!

Reception- Lacey & Vinod (98)

We had a blast at the reception. We meant to shut it down at 2, but ended up staying until 4am! It was great having so many people get together all in one place. I absolutely loved my wedding.

Paper Rose Bouquet

I’ve never been into thee idea of getting flowers from loved ones. It seems odd to me, like “Here, I killed this plant so you can look at it for 2 days then throw it away”. I’ve also never been much of a girly girl,  so when it came to my bouquets, I decided to go with paper. I bought some music sheets, scrapbooking paper with a nice script, and some maps, with a few solid colours for details.

I’ve been making the paper roses for my bouquet with 3″ squares. It might be quicker if you do 4″ squares for your bouquets, but I like the 3″ the best.


Just fold them in half, then in half again, then in half again.


then hold the fold to the left, cut the petal shape.


Then cut the tip off to make the inner holes.


You need three of these for 1 rose


Cut out one petal on one, 2 petals on one, 3 petals on the last one.


Use glue to twirl the 1 petal into a twist.


Glue the rest together by slightly overlapping the bottoms of the petals. I use a pencil to hold them together for the 2 and 3 petal ones.


The biggest one it’s kind of easier to just fully overlap one petal over another.


Then you just curl the edges of each petal with your fingers or using the pencil.


Glue them all into a stack and let it sit for a while.


Using floral wire, make the twirly bit of wire to stick inside it. I put the end between the scissor blades and twirled around one blade of the scissors. I can’t remember the gauge of wire I used but if yours is too flimsy you can just double it over.


Then just stick it through, and make the bend behind the flower to keep it from falling down the wire.


And then put them all together! :)


I looked everywhere for instructions on how to actually assemble an origami bouquet, and couldn’t find any. I ended up just taking a handful of the base flowers, and pushing, pulling, and slightly bend the wires until it formed an even shape, then poked the blue accent flowers in between. I wrapped more wire around to keep all the wires together, then a layer of floral tape. You can then hot glue on whatever colour ribbon you like. I didn’t put ribbon on mine as the hand grip was small and wouldn’t be seen anyway.

Ceremony- Lacey & Vinod (157)

More Surprises!

Holy busy year Batman!

Decided to get married in January, got officially engaged in May (I proposed), planned the wedding, starting my business applications, went to Vegas last weekend, getting our foster baby this weekend, staging the condo to sell, hopefully buying a 2 bedroom place, vacation with Lily in October, getting MARRIED in October, honeymoon in November (fingers crossed!)… what else can we fit in?!?!?!

And yes, I did say getting our foster baby this weekend. Due to unfortunate circumstances within the family my fiance and I are going to be fostering my 7 month old cousin! It’s a huuuge change because we weren’t planning on having kids for few years but then this little one came along and we obviously couldn’t say no. I’ve been dropping by for short visits to get baby used to me before we officially take the little one home with us on Saturday. I’ve already changed a poppy diaper, fed him his cereal and milk, taken him for a walk, and put him down for a nap, so from here out we’ll be winging it and asking our moms a lot of questions!

We’re very excited to start off the next staged of our lives as a married couple with a baby.

How I Proposed to My Boyfriend

Last week my boyfriend (now fiance!) left his week long stag in Montreal. I spent the weekend building a blanket fort based off of one of our favourite shows, Community, to surprise him. The night before he was to arrive home I was sitting inside said fort, and it occurred to me this would be a great way to propose to him.

Our wedding is planned for October, and we told our parents we had decided to get married in January, but we had yet to get officially engaged. My boyfriend was getting more and more stressed due to what he perceived to be the pressure of creating “the perfect” proposal. I realized that I was letting him do it because I wanted the story, something cool to tell my friends. It occurred to me that I was putting other people’s reactions and opinions ahead of my love’s well being. So I decided I would take matters into my own hands. We’re an atypical couple anyway, we tend to do things backwards, so I figured we should have an engagement as unique as our relationship.

I turned the blanket fort into a scavenger hunt, complete with instructions and pictures copied from the “Pillows and Blankets” Episode of Community, where they built a giant blanket fort called New Fluffytown. I had several steps, with the last step leading to an enclave under a desk, where I had written a letter explaining that I was sorry I had let him get stressed about such a simple 4 word question, especially a question that in my eyes had only one answer. It then told him to open the box behind it, which contained his ring (handmade ebony wood ring, same as mine), and a card that asked  him to marry me.

It was Mother’s Day, so I was having dinner at my family’s house when he arrived home. I got live-feed reaction texts from him as he reached each step. By the end of it my family was as anxious for his reaction as I was!

This is what he saw as he came home:

Welcome home board and instructions

Welcome home board and instructions

The narration from the beginning of the "Pillows and Blankets" Episode of Community, with my cousin and I's names instead of Troy and Abed.

The narration from the beginning of the “Pillows and Blankets” Episode of Community, with my cousin and I’s names instead of Troy and Abed.




His reaction texts as he reached different steps of the scavenger hunt:

First step: I had laid out pj's and beer in the fort

First step: I had laid out pj’s and beer in the fort

Last step, he's reading my letter that tells him to open the  box.

Last step, he’s reading my letter that tells him to open the box.


He opened the box with a card asking him to marry me and his wedding ring.

He opened the box with a card asking him to marry me and his wedding ring.

Here is my fiance’s version of how it all went down, from our wedding page:

“Hi, this is Vinod… I think its about time I add a message to our wedding page and also to our loved ones on Facebook.
Title: Its Official Official.
Let me explain. I just got back from a 6 day bachelor party in Montreal that was for myself and my best friend Ped. It was a great trip however, the most amazing part for me was a realization. Before this trip I have not been away from Lacey for more than the business hours during the day & on this trip all I could think of was “why didn’t I get her a room where we were staying??”. The realization: Apparently I don’t need space from my love for even a second. What I truly enjoy is getting even closer & closer to her, which happens to be what happens with us every second that passes.
So, I get home last night after 6 days. Excited to just hop into bed and wait for Lacey to get home from Mothers Day dinner at Aunty Naomies. I open the door to what I can only describe as New FluffyTown. The 2nd largest & most extravagant blanket slash pillow fort built in the world next to the one built in Greendale Community College in 2012. (From one of our favourite shows, Community, see link) I thought to myself, how the hell does this women understand me so well!!
I spent the next two hours following an adventure maze that led me to a plush living room with 2 of my favorite beers and my most comfortable PJ’s laid out for me. After enjoying the bevy’s in my flannels I followed the instructions that took me through other rooms that left me speechless and finally to the last room.
The last room. A letter, a box, a question and a ring. I don’t know how many men have been swept off their feet so let me tell you my brothers. There is no better feeling in the world. Especially when the proposal is coming from someone who already has your heart and still feels she has the need to ask for it.
I said yes, I got down on one knee when she got home & she said yes. The engagement is now official official :)  (finally with 5 months till our wedding)…. We’re a little backwards, it’s the only way we roll.
Stay tuned for a little dinner, live music and dancing to celebrate. Nothing fancy, we’re going to pick one of our favorite restaurants in Vancouver.
Love you Lacey!!!!! My love bug.”
And here’s a preview of the Community episode that inspired this:

No More Monkeying Around: The Saga Of Justin Bieber’s Monkey, OG Mally


I honestly can’t even comprehend anymore after working with primates why anyone would want one in their house to begin with. They are smart, curious, destructive, and often aggressive, especially when denied their natural social structure, environment, and diet. Having a wild animal as a pet is a recipe fr distaster that often results in euthanasia.

Originally posted on 103.7 KVIL:

Justin Bieber has been known to monkey around a bit — he just turned 19 a little over a month ago, after all. But now it’s the singer’s new pet, a capuchin monkey named OG Mally (Original Gangster Mally, naturally), that’s making headlines — and for all the wrong reasons.

The pop star received the monkey, then 14 weeks old, as a birthday gift (he turned 19 on March 1) from producer Jamal Rashid (a.k.a. Mally Mall), who has worked with 2 Chainz, Yelawolf and more, according to his website’s bio. A month (and many Instagram photo shoots) later, Mally was seized by German officials at the Munich Airport after Bieber could not provide the proper documentation for bringing the animal into the country. Since, she’s been reportedly safe and sound in a Munich animal sanctuary, according to Germany’s Spiegel Online, which also revealed that, while…

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Volunteering Abroad Resources

passport stamps

passport stamps (Photo credit: jesse edwards)

Volunteering abroad is an overwhelming concept for some new volunteers. Saving and fundraising, choosing a volunteer project, acquiring visas, packing lists, and travel safety amount to a massive headache if you’re unsure where to start.

I have two eBooks which will be available here soon, “How to Choose the Right Animal Volunteer Organization for You”, and “Travel tips for Volunteering Abroad”, both based on my experiences as a volunteer overseas.

In the meantime, I’ve assembled a list of resources with links for you keeners out there to get a head start in preparing for your amazing adventure.

Foreign Travel Advice by Country (UK Govt Website)

This article on Reverse Culture Shock, from the University of Iowa, because coming home a changed person to people who don’t understand your experience is a surprisingly difficult situation.

Travel Hacking, learn how to get free trips with airmiles.
Books About Volunteering

Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others

Lonely Planet Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference Around (General Reference)

Volunteer for Africa: Essential Guide to Volunteering in Africa and Providing Aid for Voluntary Organizations When Travelling Abroad

Volunteer Work Latin America: Everything you need to know about volunteer work in Latin America

The Ultimate Volunteer Guidebook for Young People

UBC and Therapy Dog Program Team Up to Reduce Exam Stress

Yesterday marked the second annual collaboration of BC Pets and Friends with UBC`s Stress Less for Exams event. Last year over 100 UBC students signed up to spend a few minutes petting and playing with new furry friends. BC Pets and Friends is a therapy animal program which provides free pet visitation, on an individual or group basis, to long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland. They screen and train dogs and cats and their people to interact with the disabled, elderly, chronically ill and mentally ill in an institutional setting. (source)

This was the second year in which my dog Michi, a seven-year-old male Pomeranian, has participated in this event. Last year my Mom attended the event with him, spending 2 hours entertaining the students. This year, I was able to join them.

Michi`s Therapy Dog badge.

Michi`s Therapy Dog badge.

The excitement on student’s faces was obvious when they got the chance to hang out with dogs of all different breeds and sizes. Many students were missing their own pets back home, and a couple gravitated to us especially because Michi reminded them of their own small dogs.

Michi doing tricks for his audience

Michi doing tricks for his audience

Kayla, who is studying Sciences, said, “I think they’re cute! This makes me soo happy!”

Mina, an Animal Biology student, remarked that “it was destressing, relaxing, really nice.”

Others students had only quick visits with Michi during their 15 minute time slots in the program, but had nice things to say to us as they moved on to visit other dogs, such as;

“Thanks for having your dogs here, it’s so sweet.”

“I’ll never forget today, it’s going to be one of those university experiences.”

UBC students feeding Michi treats

UBC students feeding Michi treats

Some benefits of the pet program for students include:

  • Reduced stress- sometimes even more than human friends! We all know that sometimes talking to a friend can be a great stress relief but research shows that spending time with an animal may be even better. This may be due to the fact that animals love us unconditionally. (Animals are also great listeners!)
  • Increased physical and social activity- even if you are not a pet owner, taking an hour or two out of the day to play with an animal is a great study break and provides a bit of additional exercise.
  • Improved Mood- even just stopping on the street to pet a dog can drastically improve your mood! In fact, research has shown that pet owners tend to have a lower incidence of depression than people that do not own pets.

- via UBC Healthy Minds blog

Hannah, an Arts student, described her experience as “possibly the happiest moment of my college life, shortest 15 minutes ever! I wish 15 minutes of class went that quickly!”

Pets and attention from happy students

Pets and attention from happy students

From my point of view, it was easy to see the effect on those who came and went. It served as a happy distraction from the stress of finals week, leaving smiles on the faces of everyone who left through those doors. Michi and I are looking forward to visiting again next year, and in the meantime we can be  found volunteering at a care home in the Lower Mainland.


Well I’ll Be! An Award Nomination!

Greg over at Animals Deserve to Live has nominated me for a Liebster Award. The award is given to up and coming bloggers who haven’t acquired a large following.  Liebster is a German word which means sweetheart, darling or beloved. You honour me in nominating me for any award, as I started this blog a few years ago to keep my family updated on my life when I was living in Africa. My readership has slowly grown since then as I’ve focused of conservation, volunteering, and travel posts. I just want to say thank you to everyone who follows me, I hope you’re enjoying the ride!liebster


What is the Liebster Award?

  1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  2. Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for them.
  3. Choose eleven new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  4. Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  5. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
  6. Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.
  7. No Tag Backs!!

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I grew up on army and airforce bases throughout Canada.
  2. I have moved 18 times. I am a master of packing.
  3. I have pet tarantula named Jeeves I rescued when his owner abandoned him at my clinic.
  4. I was once nearly gored by an elk.
  5. There is a monkey in South Africa named Carleton, because I paid to name him.
  6. I actually enjoyed my internship with cows and wish there was a way to work with them that didn’t support the meat or dairy industries.
  7. My dog Michi is a certified therapy dog, he volunteers at the care home my mother works at.
  8. I love spicy food. Learning to cook the Sri Lankan and South Indian dishes my fiancé prefers has been fun!
  9. I am getting married in October, and my wedding dress cost me $15 on Ebay. I  dislike extravagant weddings and commercialism.
  10. My Mom comes from a huge Mennonite family who came to Canada from Russia in the 1920s. I am related to so many people in the town where my Gramma lives I could never learn them all.
  11. I have a dream to get a degree in Primate Conservation and work at as many primate sanctuaries as I possibly can.

My Questions from Greg:

  1. When was the last time you rescued or came to the aid of an animal? December, when I left my job as a vet tech in a clinic, before that it was nearly daily!
  2. What is your favorite book of all time? The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I appreciate the theme of placing importance on connecting with the earth as opposed to material objects and money.
  3. Are you Vegan, Vegetarian, Carnivore, or other? I have been vegan for a year and a half.
  4. What is your favorite movie of all time? The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis and Mila Jovovich, I know nearly every word.
  5. What is your favorite meal? Mashed potatoes and (vegan!) gravy. Best comfort food for me, coming from a Mennonite family.
  6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Africa. Madagascar to be exact. I would be totally content to live in a hut in the baobabs  studying lemur behaviour or biology.
  7. What is your favorite color? Red. I guess it’s a power colour, maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it.
  8. How long have you been blogging? Honestly, I’ve been blogging  since I was a preteen, though back then it was trivial day-to-day teenage drama. I have had this WordPress site since 2010.
  9. What do you like most about being a blogger? I’m an inherently awkward person. I’m terrible at small talk and meeting new people, but I can write. This is a way for even the people closest to me in life to know what happens inside my head.
  10. What hobbies do you have besides blogging? I enjoy yoga, meditation, cooking kickass vegan meals, and volunteering.
  11. If you could end factory farms, would you? Absolutely. I’ve not yet worked out what the ideal situation for the remaining feed animals would be if they were granted freedom, but we’ll get there.

My Nominees!

  1. The Maasai Diary, because I am obsessed with everything Africa.
  2. Midwest Vaygun, her Chipotle BBQ Jackfruit recipe has revolutionized my vegan tacos!
  3. H M Pittman, vegan nutrition.
  4. Chasingpixels, couple Rob and Deb’s year in Japan.
  5. Bookworm Bethie; books, stitching, and vegan meals.
  6. jessiejordan, a very new blogger, but I like her posts on conservation.
  7. Modern Hippie Cooks, because she’s also vegan and from Vancouver!
  8. Heavenly Vegan Baking, because I love my baked goods.
  9. Swamped, because we vet  techs need to look out for each other!
  10. Ecoprimate, Paul runs a fantastic conservation blog.
  11. The Handmade Hippie, because she also works as a vet tech, likes yoga, and is vegetarian.

My Questions for the Nominees to Answer:

  1. Which would you choose: a large house, nice car, and well-paying job, or a year of travelling around the world in hostels with no more than $20 in your pocket at any given time.
  2. What is your favourite climate?
  3. What is your definition of a `successful` life?
  4. If you knew when you would die, what would your last meal be?
  5. What is one little thing you can always count on to brighten your day?
  6. What is your dream job? If you are not doing it yet, why?
  7. What was your favourite childhood cartoon?
  8. Do you live to eat or eat to live?
  9. If you were (or are) a broke college student, which one meal could you eat every day?
  10. If you could choose to be immortal, would you?
  11. Are you type A or type B?

Thanks again to all my readers, and I am happy to pass this on to other bloggers you should really get to know.

How Jane Goodall Inspired My Work

English: Jane Goodall attending the 18th Annua...Jane Goodall turns 79 today. She stills travels 300 days a year to spread her message of conservation and support for great apes, especially her chimps.


As a female primatologist she is an inspiration to me. At the age of 23 she left home to explore her passion for Africa in Kenya, 1957. She was sent back to England by Louis Leakey, the archaeologist who had hired her as secretary, to study primate behaviour and anatomy. In 1960 she returned to begin work at Gombe National Park.  By 1962 Leaky had arranged for Goodall to return to England to receive her PhD.


Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, is the former president of Advocates for Animals, and is a devoted vegetarian and advocates the diet for ethical, environmental, and health reasons.


Jane Goodall is a huge part in how my African experience came to be. On December 24th, 2010 I was watching “Iconoclasts” with my mother. That particular episode featured Jane Goodall and Charlize Theron interviewing each other in Africa. Like Goodall I have always had a huge interest in Africa, I’d always felt it was a place I needed to visit. Watching Jane interact with the chimps brought back the feelings I had experiences working with lemurs and monkeys. As I sat there watching I suddenly burst out crying, startling my mother, and told her “I need to be there.” She nodded and said, “So go.”


I left the room as the episode ended, went back to the University of Wisconsin Primate Jobs website, where I had landed many a time, dreaming of performing any of these jobs I was so unqualified for. This time, however, I was unexpectedly rewarded. There, listed between all the jobs I had no business even looking at, was a posting for a Vet Nurse.


I felt tingles as I read the job description and realized, this was a job I was qualified for. I had a couple of years clinical experience, as well as husbandry of primates. I felt my chances were low as I assumed that there just be any people like me desperate to work with primates, but I assembled and rewrote my CV and cover letter, and applied for the job on December 26th.


I got it.


I would not have had the opportunity to spend that amazing year caring for 500 vervet monkeys in Africa had it not been for watching Jane Goodall speak on Iconoclasts. Because of her inspiration, at 22 years old I moved by myself to South Africa to spend a year as the vet nurse at the Vervet Monkey Foundation, learning about wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, behaviour, and activism. I came back dedicated to spreading the word for the conservation of primates worldwide.

Myself feeding orphans at the Vervet Monkey Foundation

Myself feeding orphans at the Vervet Monkey Foundation


Thank you Jane, for being such an inspiring and compassionate person. I wish you a happy Birthday and many more to come.


You can watch Jane Goodall’s TEDtalks videos online.


You can read a full biography of Jan Goodall on JGI.


Speaking of women who have shaped my life, today is also my mothers’ birthday! I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for having such an amazing woman in my life. From raising my brother and I (often as a single parent on military bases), supporting my dream to work with animals from a young age, to paying my loan payments during my year in Africa, my mama has done so much for me that I could never dream to repay her for. I love you mama, Happy Birthday! <3


New South Africa Video

Hi Everyone!

I’ve just finished a very time-consuming video and blog entry to a travel blogging contest.

I would seriously appreciate if you guys could take 2.5 minutes to watch it and vote for me!!

Thank you all sooo much!


The voting is closed, and you can now watch my video directly on Youtube. It details the time I spent working with vervet monkeys in South Africa as the Vet Nurse for the Vervet Monkey Foundation. The activities my friends and I took part in included canyon drops, holding tarantulas and scorpions, shark tanks, and visiting Kruger Park.


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