Saturday, 13 January 2018

Local Love | Native Shoes Vancouver Flagship Opening

I made it into an official media picture! I am sitting in the red and black plaid scarf! | Photographer Ben Owens
It is always really exciting when a local Vancouver-based company grows into a successful globally recognized brand. Native Shoes first came to fruition in 2009 and has since exponentially increased their style offerings. As soon as this space became available on the market, Native Shoes did not hesitate and secured it as their first brick and mortar location. Gastown is the perfect fit for Native Shoes and the shop is gorgeous.

I was immediately drawn to the west wall, a stunning Monolithic moss installation of varying shades of green. The coolest part about the wall is that all of the moss is collected from forests surrounding Vancouver. Since the wall is living, it is misted daily to ensure it remains healthy. Affixed to the wall is Native Shoe's mantra, "Keep it Lite" which casts a lovely glow. It stands for both the "lite-ness" of their shoes as well as the philosophy of not taking things too seriously, but instead focusing on putting smiles on people's faces. The wall and sign makes me so happy because I love the refreshing earthy smell from the moss. 

I seriously want the moss wall in my home because it has such a nice refreshing smell. Plus, the green is gorgeous! Accent wall anyone?

When I am shopping for sneakers my biggest requirement is comfort. Strappy heels or cute flats will most likely be uncomfortable, but my sneakers cannot be. Native has done an excellent job at designing a shoe that is not only aesthetically cute, but are a joy to wear. 

The majority of their shoes are molded from EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), which gives the footwear its iconic lite-ness. Newer styles are featuring other materials, but everything at Native Shoes remains "Beast Free." No animal products are used in the making of their shoes and they take it seriously because even the glue is beast free which is why Native is PETA approved! Besides the inherent lite-ness, the EVA overtime molds to the contour of your foot making it almost like a custom fit.

I got a pair of AP Mercury LiteKnits in white and they are seriously amazing. EVA and knit material is so light weight and since it also shapes to your feet, it almost feels like you are barefoot. For sizing, I Native Shoes to fit true to size. Both my Vans Classic slip ons and Nike Free Runs are a women's size 6.5 or 36.5. I like them being a bit snug, so the shoe almost feels like a sock. 

The current silhouettes are Native Shoes are definitely lifestyle and not meant for working out. They are great for day to day at work or running errands. In the summer I want to pick up a pair of Jeffersons which are constructed from a single piece of EVA. It is a bit embarrassing, but my feet always set a lot in the summer which means my shoes start to stink. The Jeffersons are perforated making it breathable and more importantly, I can just hose them down when they really start to smell. 

Native Shoes is dedicated to creating light weight shoes that are 100% Beast-Free. All of the materials right down to the glue is completely vegan. So if you have been searching for vegan shoes, I highly recommend popping into Native's Vancouver flagship located at 14 Water Street in historic Gastown. 

Products received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own. Affiliate codes used. 

AP Mercury LiteKnit in Beet Red | Photographer Ben Owens

AP Mercury Liteknit in White
Stunning living monolithic moss wall with their mantra "Keep it Lite" in neon lights

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Fresh Prep Rosemary Salmon with Ancient Grain Risotto




This was my first time making salmon and I think I did really good. The fish came out moist, flakey and full of flavour. I am so proud of myself and this gives me the confidence to make more salmon in the future because it is really good for you (Canada's Food Guide recommends two servings of fish per week). With the salmon, I had a side of ancient grain risotto which again, to my astonishment, turned out really good, perhaps even perfect.

The salmon was easy to make. It came pre-portioned and filleted with the skin removed. All I had to do was toss it on a sheet pan, season it with lots of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, dried rosemary, olive oil, slices of lemon and a fresh rosemary sprig. Citrus always brings out the flavour of fish, so be generous with the lemon juice! I pulled it out of the oven around 10 minutes and let it sit and absorb all the juices. 

I really made sure I followed the instructions for the risotto because if I have learned anything from Chef Ramsay, risotto is a tough dish to master. I did manage to burn the onions, so they were dark instead of translucent. The parmesan made the risotto creamy and gave it a nutty flavour. 

I would add a side of vegetables and it is really easy to do with this recipe. You can toss some carrots and broccoli seasoned with salt and pepper into the oven with the fish. It could not be any easier because you literally could just put it on the same try as your fish. 

Would I re-order the Rosemary Salmon with Ancient Grain Risotto? YES

You can get 3 free plates if you have never used FreshPrep by using this LINK

BYES

Products received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own. Affiliate codes used.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

My picture got reposted by Narcity Canada YAY!

WOOT WOOT! @NarcityCanada reposted my picture!
I work really hard on my blog which includes writing all my own original content, maintaining my website and taking pictures. So when my work is liked and appreciated by a massive media company, I cannot help but get really absurdly excited! Narcity Canada (@NarcityCanada) just reposted the picture I took of Native Shoes' monolithic wall and their mantra "Keep it Lite" in neon lights. 

I started watermarking my images last year because I found my pictures were being taken from Pink Tea Latte or my Social Media channels and being reposted by other people. The internet is really big and when you publish something online, you cannot stop people from re-using your work. Since it had happened to me a few times, it started to bug me, especially when large Instagram accounts were doing it. 

I still have people take my pictures and crop out my watermark before publishing it on their pages, but the fact Narcity kept my watermark AND give me credit makes me respect them that much more! I seriously cannot contain my excitement. Literally doing a leap of victory! 

BYES

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Glowbal Flagship Restaurant Dinner Tasting

dozen oysters chef's selection with a red wine shallot and chive mignonette
You have probably heard or been to one of Glowbal Group's exquisite restaurants. The majority of their restaurants are located in the downtown core and include Italian Kitchen, Coast, The Roof, The Fish Shack, Nosh, Black + Blue, Trattoria and their namesake Glowbal. One thing common across the restaurants is the impeccable service and flavourful food and that is why I have had three birthday celebrations with them. I had the opportunity to attend a private dinner tasting at Glowbal and it was phenomenal. Let me start by saying, I genuinely felt like a princess that night! 

Dinner began with a small plate of Buttermilk Parmesan Fried Chicken. Perfectly crisp pieces of chicken garnished served with peppercorn lime aioli and a slice of jalepeno. This small plate was shortly followed by a massive Satay Platter. There was one of each satay that Glowbal has to offer: Lamb Kofta, Jerk Chicken, Signature Meatball, King Mushroom Tempura, Al Pastor Pork, Curried Tiger Prawn, Ginger Beef, Braised Short Rib and Bacon Wrapped Scallop. The Satays came with a ginger white soy truffle aioli and a siracha mustard sauce. And there was still more, a dozen oysters chef's selection with a red wine shallot and chive mignonette. 

The fried chicken were little nuggets of crispy goodness that I could have ate a dozen more of. I have never been a big satay person, but I gave them a try. The chicken, prawn and scallop were divine. I would not get the king mushroom tempura again as it was quite oily. The oysters were presented stunningly; however, I actually do not eat raw oysters purely because I cannot get past the texture. My friend was thrilled though since he got all 12 oysters to himself which he happily devoured and gave two thumbs up to. 

Something I always look forward to at nice restaurants are cocktails. I asked for something fruity to which the server brought me their Pom and Elderflower, a divine combination of stolichnaya vodka, st. germain, lemon, syrup, crushed ice and a deep red pomegranate juice that is poured into the glass at your table. It was the perfect cocktail for me! 

The Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs is my favourite dish on their menu, so I was really excited when it was brought out to our table. The dish is rounded out by sweet tomato fondue, a tête de mine rosette (cheese) and earthy shaved truffles. I also got to try the Sable Fish on asian vegetables that was finished table side with a hot mushroom consommé and served with a side soba noodle salad. I was dining in the birdcages on the patio, so I really appreciated the steaming hot broth as it kept me and the dish warm. I loved the different textures and temperatures, the cool salad against the hot broth, the soft flakey fish balanced by the crisp asian vegetables. Really just excites your palate. 

The real surprise of the night was when the feature risotto arrived at our table. It was not part of the tasting, but since I had expressed my love of risotto they decided to surprise me. The risotto was perfectly executed and the creamy cheese ladened risotto was brightened with fresh green peas, shaved root vegetables and sweet prawns. 

I LOVE RISOTTO

The night finished on a sweet note, Zeppole al Cioccolato, their signature dessert at all of their restaurants. little Italian-style doughnuts filled with either a hazelnut cream or vanilla crème anglaise and a dusting of amaretti biscuit. By then there was no natural light left for me take pictures, so you will need to go and order it for yourself. 

BYES

All opinions are my own.

Buttermilk Parmesan Fried Chicken
A Dozen Oysters Chef's Selection
Satay Platter

Pom & Elderflower Cocktail
Sable Fish 
Truffled Spaghetti & Meatballs

Daily Special Risotto 

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Me Attempting and Failing at my First FreshPrep Delivery


I have been actively trying to cook more at home as an attempt to be more healthy. This is probably my biggest resolution for 2018. Thankfully Fresh Prep is helping me achieve my goal, so YAY! To date, I have received two recipes, each being 2 servings. 

There are numerous reviews on FreshPrep already that you can find online, so I will not be reviewing the service, but instead focusing on the individual recipes. I will be also looking at the menus from a nutritional aspect, specifically is it providing me a lot of my daily vegetables. 

A quick description of what FreshPrep is. FreshPrep delivers all of the ingredients pre-measured for the selected weekly recipes. The recipes are designed to be simple with prep time being around 30 minutes. 

The first recipe was a lovely Yellow Thai Curry with bamboo shoots, tofu, and broccoli over jasmine rice. In my excitement I not only started cooking late in the evening, so the lighting was awful for pictures, but I also completely messed up the recipe. My haste - I blame the hunger and the luscious aroma of the curry - resulted in me making undercooked rice and an inadequately reduced curry. So the curry did not coat my crunchy rice! But hey, it tasted really darn good! As I mentioned earlier, I was unable to get nice pictures because it is getting pitch black half past four every day. 

Would I re-order the Yellow Thai Curry? YES

The second recipe I ordered was the Chicken, Avocado and Enoki Mushroom Veggie Bowl with gingery dressing and seasoned rice. This time I FOLLOWED the instructions for cooking the rice. You are supposed to put the rice and water on together! The recipe was simple and easy to execute. Did not require much cooking aside from the rice and chicken. I did not enjoy the flavour of the dressing very much. Missing in the picture is the sliced avocado because I wanted it to ripen more.

Would I re-order the Veggie Bowl? NO

Both recipes do contain veggies, but the rice and protein substantially outweighed the vegetables. I wanted to do both of these dishes according to the recipe as this was my first time using FreshPrep and I just wanted to see if I could recreate the dish. For future recipes, I will most definitely be adding more vegetables. Either including more of the same type or different vegetables that would compliment the flavours. 

What I really learned from this experience is that I need to have a plan for pictures prior to cooking. It might also be a good idea for me to reserve one portion because my growling stomach just wants to eat and not focus on taking pictures. After satisfying my ridiculous hunger then focusing on taking pictures.

Lastly, I suck at plating food. I sincerely lack food presentation skills. Chefs make it look so easy, but in reality, it is very difficult and takes a lot of thought and planning. I think it might be time for me to hit up one of my chef friends to give me some tips on how to make your food appetizing and beautiful to look at. 

Here is the plan for the next two dishes:

1. Sketch out the plating
2. Plan and set up the area for photographing the dish
3. READ the recipe BEFORE cooking the dish
4. Eat one portion to satisfy Gurly's stomach 
5. Photograph the reserve portion ideally in beautiful natural lighting

From both recipes, I got a total of four meals, so that is four less meals I had of take-out so YAY! My next delivery is going to be Chana Masala with oven roasted sweet potato and Lemon Rosemary Salmon with ancient grain risotto. The biggest challenge from those two recipes is going to be the risotto because from watching the Food Network for over 10 years, the biggest thing I have learned is that the chef who attempts to make risotto is absolutely mad and in the words of the glorious Gordon Ramsay, FINESSE. Wish me luck and hopefully not become an "Idiot Sandwich."   

If you want 3 free plates from FreshPrep, click HERE

BYES

Products received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own. Affiliate codes used. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Christmas

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Makeup and Skincare 
The days have just flown by on me and it seems like everyone is feeling the same. We still have time to get the perfect present for our loved ones and friends and I am going to help you! I have some gift ideas for both the men in your life and your girls. Also, please forgive me on the photo quality. I was extremely sick that day so my hand kept shaking. It is a miracle that I even managed to take these pictures. 

I was invited to the West Coast Faulhaber Communications showroom for a sneak peek of upcoming Spring and Summer 2018 collections. Also displayed were some really amazing gift ideas for the holidays. 

Here is a quick list, but keep reading for details on the brands and products

MEN



WOMEN



I find shopping for women much easier as there are a multitude of things we can get for one another. Men on the other hand are far harder to pick gifts out for and at times can be quite tricky since men do not say much in terms of what they would like. I think the most important thing when shopping for a gift for your bae or brother or dad is to look for items that has a practical function in their daily lives. Stay away from little knick-knacks and very specialized items that does not fit in with their daily routine. Anything edible like snacks, craft beer, brick of cheese or a giant sandwich - basically food is going to make them very happy. 

The first gift suggestion I have for a guy is hair and beard products from Barber & Co. The brand itself is very well-known in amongst men in Vancouver as there are five barbershops across the Lower Mainland and is the ultimate place for men to get their hair cut and beard trimmed. Barber & Co. is also Vancouver-based and founded by owner Ian Daburn, a third generation barber, in 2011 and since then has also developed his own line of men's grooming products. Select from a range of scents in their pomades, shave creams and beard oils, all of which are made at their Gastown location in small batches. The price range is also reasonable from $22 to $30, so stop by at any one of their 5 Vancouver locations. 

I think another good gift idea and something all men should have is their very own Shoe Care Kit. Sure sneakers are having their time in the spotlight, but they will never replace a timeless pair of black dress shoes; however, to keep those beauties looking gorgeous, you need to give them a good polish and buff. Tangent GC is a company that specializes in 100% organic and eco-friendly shoe care. Plus, all of their products are packaged in fully recyclable materials! The shoe care kit includes: Neutral Polish, Shoe Grease, Brown Polish, Black Polish, Shoe Brush (SUPER DUPER SOFT!) and Shine Cloth. You can pick it up at various stores across the Lower Mainland such as Litchfield, Dutil, The Block and Kiss & Makeup. Tangent GC also makes really lovely organic hand creams, liquid soups and detergents which all make great gifts for your girlfriends. 

If you know someone who needs a new backpack, look into Ucon Acrobatics because their backpacks are waterproof which is essential for the torrential rain we get in Vancouver. The fabrics used are eco-friendly and made with PET recycled water bottles, sustainable paper fabrics from Germany and vegan leathers. The two styles I really like is the Ison and Marvin which are both capable of holding a 15 inch laptop. Again, great for both guys and babes, but only available at Simons (Park Royal) or online. 

Here are a few gift ideas for the ladies and I personally would love to receive any one of these gifts. 

I do not know why girls like burning candles, but my besties and I really enjoy having candles lit at home. If you know why - let me know in the comments below! The Vancouver-based company Woodlot makes some divine smelling small batch coconut and soy candles. The candles come in a really nice cardboard box which makes it easy for gifting. They also have also recently added lotions and essential oils and will be introducing their own skincare line for Spring Summer 2018. You can get Woodlot products from One of a Few, Charlie & Lee, Walrus and Le Marche St. George. 

Something I really want to get for myself and I think most girls want is some Charlotte Tilbury. It is definitely a premium makeup and skincare line so it would be a luxury gift item. The packaging is stunning too with the copper and rose gold tones. The premise behind their makeup is making it easy no matter the skill set. However, it was Charlotte's Magic Cream that made her so loved. The Gift of Goddess Skin Set comes with the Goddess Skin Clay Mask, Charlotte's Magic Cream Treat & Transform Moisturizer and Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash. This set is really great for someone who is new to their skincare line. If you want to give makeup, the Beauty Icon's Set is really well-priced and includes Charlotte's Magic Cream, Mini Full Fat Lashes Mascara, Mini Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash, Mini Kissing Lipstick in Penelope Pink and the Mini Lip Cheat Re-Size & Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pillow Talk. 

Just to reiterate from before, Tangent GC makes gorgeous smelling liquid soaps and organic hand creams. Some of the scents are Yuzu (mandarin and grapefruit), Fir (balsamic wood and pine) and Tiare (orchid and vanilla). If you have a girlfriend who walks, takes transit or bikes around Vancouver, she would really appreciate a fully waterproof backpack that is also really chic and eco-friendly from Ucon Acrobatics

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any gift suggestions. We have less than 34 hours until Christmas, so go and get the perfect present! 

BYES

Shoe Care Kit by Tangent GC
Water-Proof Backpacks by Ucon Acrobatics
Lotions by Woodlot
Makeup and Skincare by Charlotte Tilbury
Hair Pomades, Shaving Cream and Beard Oil by Barber & Co.
The Gift of Goddess Skin Set by Charlotte Tilbury

























Saturday, 16 December 2017

VIP at Krause Berry Farms Winter Silver Belle 2017

40th Anniversary Krause Berry Farms Sparkling Raspberry Wine
I never imagined being invited to an event at Krause Berry Farms, let alone being a VIP guest to their 2017 Winter Silver Belle. Plus, receiving a special bottle of their 40th Anniversary Sparkling Raspberry Wine as a part of the invitation was so cool! It was couriered over to my home along with their signature crystal boot shot glasses that are used in their Wine Tasting Room. The event was co-hosted with Little White House & Co., a  part boutique and part cafe in Fort Langley. The space had a lovely ambience with the flickering glow of candles. Placed on the tables were ivory coloured roses which are my favourite winter flower. I was tempted to take a vase of the white roses home, but I feared if I misbehaved, I may not be invited back in the future. 

The Silver Belle had a silver and white theme, so I obviously had to go to Aritzia to get a new outfit. I went with the Wilfred Free Christine Dress in the colour Lune, a lovely light silver. It is a midi slip dress and the fabric drapes my body perfectly. I paired it with my grey marino wool cardigan which is even longer in length, Rachel Comey booties and a black wide rimmed wool hat. For a little glitter, I wore my diamond studs and a simple silver beaded bracelet from Tiffanys. 

It was a chilly night, but Krause Berry farms tented and walled the Corral and set up multiple fast heaters, so it was cozy inside. We were all greeted with a flute of their Sparkling Krause Berry Wine and pianist Ben Dunhill. Also in the Corral was Little White House's pop-up shop and Butter Photography Studios. Ben Dunhill is a seriously talented individual because not only does he play the piano, he also sings AND simultaneously plays the harmonica. 

The Krause Berry Winery, Corral and Market Place was open for the evening; therefore, there was lots of space to roam about.  I really appreciated that as it is not fun when too many bodies are cramped into a small space. It also meant I could shop for some of Krause Berry Farms' jams, preserves and fruit. 

Now the most important part, the food! Throughout the evening, servers brought around delicioues savoury morsels of food on silver platters. It is not often that I like everything being served, but the chef at Krause did an excellent job that night. More importantly, there was a lot food, so I left with a full stomach. Some of my favourites include a buttery biscuit with berry cream cheese, a turkey cranberry sandwich, and pumpkin goat cheese mousse tart. The evening ended with cute little silver star shortbread cookies and two types of macarons, a vanilla bean buttercream and salted caramel. We were also gifted with Silver Bell sugar cookies to enjoy later. 

Throughout the evening there were some giveaways; however, I did not win any goodies, but I did get to draw one of the names and the person I picked, it was her birthday, so I totally made her night! I think the item I wanted the most was the gift card to Little White House because there is some cute stuff that I really wanted. 

The only thing missing from the evening were my beloved waffles piled high with Krause's own berries and a mound of real whipped cream. My addiction to their strawberry waffles is real and I am literally counting down the days for strawberry season to return. I feel like there needs to be a stamp card for the waffles because I think I should get the 7th one free haha. 

Thank you for the lovely night Krause Berry and am flattered to be one of your VIPs! I will also be picking up another bottle of your 40th Anniversary Sparkling Raspberry Wine because it is delicious. The wine is fragrant and has a lovely natural sweetness from the raspberries. See you in the spring for more waffles. 

BYES

Fruit Syrups 
VIP at Krause Berry Farms' Silver Belle 2017
Turkey Cranberry Sandwich on buttery Focaccia
Ivory coloured roses
Welcome flutes of the 40th Anniversary Sparkling Raspberry Wine
Vanilla Bean Buttercream and Salted Caramel Macarons

Brussel Sprouts and stuffing cups
Short Bread Cookies