Sunday, 28 November 2021

Weird and Wonderful Wishlist 2021 Holidays

This is my Weird & Wonderful Wishlist and it features amazing local Vancouver brands and shops. It is my goal to support more slow fashion and smaller independent shops. My list does include bigger global brands, but the majority of the items can be purchased locally in Vancouver from local boutiques. 

I know not everyone lives in Vancouver, so I am also going to include links through which you can purchase the pieces internationally. Hopefully if you are local you are able to pop into one of my favourite shops and pick it up in person! Perhaps we will bump into one another there! 

The Butter Ornament

I will be the first to admit that I LOVE butter. Without butter, my favourite desserts and pastries would not be the same. The hand blown glass ornament depicts the typical 4 oz American Butter stick and is the perfect shade of creamy buttery yellow. 

Local: Gatley or The Cross Designs 

Online: Amazon

Anian - sustainable wool clothing

Tucked along West 4th on Kitsilano is Aninan, a sustainable wool clothing brand. Anian's focus is to use recycled wool in their garments. The finished pieces are well built with classic silhouettes that will sure to be a staple in your wardrobe for years to come. Their button up shirts are widely loved and come in an area of colours and plaids. If you go up a size, you can definitely use it as a "Shacket" because their weave of the wool is thick. 

Local & Online: Anian 

Cat Bird Jewelry - Cannoli Charm

I have been obsessing over Catbird's Cannoli Charm for nearly two years! Catbird is a New York City based fine jewelry shop that carries an array of designers, but also has their own in house Catbird line. The Cannoli charm is part of their charm collection which includes so many other cute tiny motifs like keys, a spider, and kitten mask. However, the cannoli is my favourite because I love the pistachio cannolis from Cannoli King in Vancouver and so I must commemorate one of my Italian pastries with a 14 karat 100% recycled gold charm that has two pearls as the "ricotta filling."

Online: Catbird NYC

Cadine - Natural Leather Table Mat

Located in the Cambie Village, Cadine is a stunning lifestyle shop with a focus on simplistic pieces using natural materials. Their leather table mats are great for protecting wood surfaces from damage and are dyed naturally using chestnut and mimosa tree bark extract. The leather mat patinas over time into a warm caramel tone. Cadine has it in two sizes, a smaller 11.5" x 15.5" is great for a laptop or writing surface. For more coverage, the 18" x 25" large size would be perfect. 

Local & Online: Cadine

Bocci Table Light

When it comes to lighting in Vancouver, Bocci is leading the way with their hand blown glass pieces. The piece I really want is from the 28t collection, the table light. There are 25 colours to pick from. The light can either be kept on a table or mounted to the wall. 

Local & Online: Bocci

Impala - Roller Skates

Impala makes the classic four wheeled skates in fun bright colours. It is so tough to decide, but I think the bubblegum blue and pink hued skates are super cute. Hoping to live out my 70's dreams of skating down a boardwalk on a hot sunny day. 

Online: Amazon

Le Bonnet Beanie  - Bubblegum - Vincent Park

Recently Vincent Park had to make the decision to close their brick & mortar location and go completely online. They carry an array of designers with a focus on quality pieces. Le Bonnet is a brand that only uses natural textiles; therefore, all of their items are 100% biodegradable. Another fun fact, Le Bonnet's factory is 170 years old, making it one of the oldest factories in the UK. Le Bonnet's beanie is made of lambswool and comes in 40 colours! 

Online: Vincent Park.

Loopy Mango - All You Knit Kit: My First Hat 

A few years back I had picked up a knitting kit by Loopy Mango. I partially finished the piece and then forgot about it. Cadine is stocked up on Loopy Mango's pink Knit Kit - My First hat. Perhaps this time I will finish my little knitting project. 

Local: Cadine

Online: Amazon

Jo and June - Handmade Wood Peace Sign Hand

I discovered Jo and June Vintage during one of my many mindless scrolling on Instagram. Its a shop located in Oklahoma. The handmade wood peace sign hand is so pretty and would be an amazing piece of decor. Jo and June also sells a handmade glass water hanging rainbow prism. When sunlight shines through the piece, a rainbow is projected! Instant rainbow, love it. 

Online: Jo and June Vintage

Claus - Mini Rosebud Signet Ring

Erin Claus is another New York jewelry designer who uses recycled metals and conflict free stones. The mini engraved signet rings are gorgeous. Made with solid gold, there is lilac, sunflowers and my personal favourite, an engraved rose. 

Online: Claus Jewelry

Odd Society - Spirits Creme de Cassis

Odd Society Spirits is a small-batch distillery in Vancouver. They distill a variety of spirits, but it is their Creme de Cassis that I keep hearing about. Several Vancouver restaurants and businesses use the creme de cassis in cocktails, cooking and baking. 

Local & Online: Odd Society Spirits

Nikben - Lemoncello Bathing Suit

The thick vertical stripes on this bathing suit gives a slimming effect, but what I really love about it are the oversized yellow lemons! Aptly named Lemoncello, the bathing suit is by Nikben and is carried by several local shops including Eugene Choo and The Block. Sadly they do not have my size right now, but I have been assured more sizes will be coming in the spring!

Gatley - Ruby Dress

I am always looking for comfort and nothing is more comfortable than a sweatshirt. Gatley is currently carrying the Ruby dress which has all the comforts of a sweatshirt. I just cannot decide if I want it in the grey or the dusty rose? I feel like the grey is cuter. 

Local: Gatley

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Lower Mainland Devastated by Floods and Mudslides from "Atmospheric River"

This blog has always been a space to share fun discoveries with you. Today we are going to be taking a pause from the whimsy and food to acknowledge the events unfolding in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. The property I purchased is in the Fraser Valley, but at this time I am living at my parent's house which is in Metro Vancouver, the region west of the Fraser Valley. 

I woke up on Monday, November 15th to harrowing winds and aggressive rainfall. Leaves and small twigs were being smashed up against my bedroom window by the ongoing storm. Rain is a normal part of Vancouver, so at no point did it phase me. It never even crossed my mind that things could get worse and I should not be going to work. By the time I was off from work, the sky had cleared in Vancouver and the pools of water were slowly draining away. 

The part of Vancouver that I grew up in has long been the butt of all flooding and sinking-related jokes. The highway bisecting my city and several major streets were flooded to my knees. Now simply imagine the relief that me, my family and everyone else that lives in the region felt when the city was able to get control of the flooding. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Ça Marche Crêperie the newest addition to Vancouver House

Another day in Vancouver, another restaurant opened. This time, it is the long-awaited Ça Marche Crêperie, specializing in crêpes from Brittany, France. If there are crêpes involved, you know I will be there, so it should come as no surprise that opening night, I was knocking down their door to be let in already. 

Dinner service on Saturday November 6, 2021 marked the opening of Ça Marche Crêperie. The new eatery is located at the foot of Vancouver House, adjacent to another favourite of mine, Autostrada Osteria. The space is small; therefore limiting the number of diners Ça Marche Crêperie can accommodate at a given time. An eccentric neon sign shines a glow onto an interesting rusted exterior panelling. Guess we can call it industrial rust chic? Inside, emerald green, brass, white and greys make for an elegant upscale setting. The old me would have fawned all over the design, but I now know better than to be blinded by beauty. 

The Champignon is a buckwheat crêpe folded over sauteed mushrooms, cider onion jam, kale, goat cheese and soft poached egg. Onions and I do not get along, so the kitchen put the cider onion jam on the side for me. The filling had great flavour with the mushrooms offering wonderful umami while the kale gave a great texture. All of the savoury crepes are gluten-free at Ça Marche Crêperie because they are made with buckwheat flour. Unfortunately, the $18 crêpe did nothing to curb my hunger. Visually the thin crêpe filled the plate from edge to edge; however, it is misleading since the filling is concentrated in the center. 

From the Crêpes Sucrees menu, I selected the Pomme. A classic crepe topped with caramel poached apple, salted caramel and buckwheat ice cream. It is hard to go wrong with caramel, apples and ice cream. The apples still had a lovely crunchy texture and the caramel sauce had undertones of burnt sugar which I love. Not sure what buckwheat ice cream is supposed to taste like because I thought it was vanilla. On behalf of the simple bitches like me, let's keep it simple and drop the weird pretentious "buckwheat" ice cream and do creamy vanilla. 

Ça Marche Crêperie is doing something a little different with the drinks menu, offering an array of locally sourced ciders. Lots of fun citrusy, fruity, tangy and fermented ciders to choose from on tap and by the bottle. I did not have the opportunity to try any during my visit because I myself am more of a cocktail gurl. 

With a selection of savoury and sweet crêpes, the menu is rounded out with a side salad and fries. It reminds me of Nero Belgium Waffle Bar, but with crêpes and a higher price tag. Ça Marche Crêperie is also competing against another beloved Vancouver establishment, Cafe Crêpes which has been satisfying our crêpe cravings for years with their limitless flavour pairings. 

So how does Ça Marche Crêperie compare to Vancouver favourites? Underwhelming. 

I left feeling unsatisfied. The meal felt incomplete. In a competitive food scene like Vancouver's, there is zero room for uncertainty. For sweet crêpes sure, I will consider venturing back - the Suzette sounds divine with its brûlée custard, grand mariner sauce and orange segments. But with an average price of $20 for a savoury crêpe that did not satiate my hunger pangs, Ça Marche Crêperie for dinner is a hard pass for me. 

I do hope Ça Marche Crêperie will re-visit their business hours. The current menu is better suited for brunch and lunch. Sure the cider program is more conducive to dinner, but I prefer to eat my calories, not drink them. 


Tuesday, 26 October 2021

The Dorothy Motel is Banff, Alberta's first boutique motel

Roadside motels are a staple in North America. Often rundown, dingy, merely a place to catch some sleep before getting back on the road. But they are the affordable counterpart to hotels and hence why Super 8 Motels and such fill my own childhood memories of family road trips across Canada! The Dorothy Motel on the other hand is no ordinary motel. As Banff's very first boutique motel, The Dorothy Motel blends Banffs beautiful national forests with a retro 50s vibe, completely redefining what a motel is. The motel is beautiful and is a must stay when in Banff. 

The Dorothy Motel's wooden sign sets the tone for your stay with its asymmetrical shape, rounded corners and curvy bold text. A lovely rich teal blue paint exterior is accented by beautiful crisscrossing large wooden beams, a nod to traditional ski chalets that are sprinkled on the mountains. Nestled in the middle of the motel is a wonderful stone-paved courtyard with cute bistro tables, chairs and lush plants. An excellent place to sit back and sip on some drinks underneath the starry Banff night sky! 

Originally my room was on the main floor, but the thought of an exterior facing door to the forest made me nervous, so I was glad that I was able to switch to the top floor. Room 201 featured 2 queen beds, impressively high ceilings and a spacious bathroom. There was also a table with two chairs and a breakfast nook outfitted with a coffee maker, kettle, microwave and mini-fridge. Another nook-like space was the open closet with cubbies for quick and easy organization. This closet area is perfect for storing outdoor gear like skis, boots, snowboards etc!  

Every detail in the room had been thoughtfully curated to give off a 1950s vibe that meets Banff National Forest exploration. The floor is a smooth linoleum with a forest floor print. Banff is a ski town meaning lots of soggy gear from the slopes, so going with linoleum is genius as it is impermeable to moisture and will not get gross like tiles and carpet would. The forest floor is serious camouflage, so get ready to be on your hands and knees if you drop something. 

As I mentioned earlier, the bathroom is large! It was clean with cute penny tiling, a generously sized walk-in shower and plenty of counter space around the sink. I am so glad The Dorothy Motel went with the glass door walk-in shower because I find tubs to be tiny and I absolutely hate whenever the shower curtain touches my skin. The bathroom was stocked with the Lemongrass Everything line from the Rocky Mountain Soup Co. To reduce waste, the Dorothy Motel no longer provides tiny travel-size bath products but instead refills the large bottles. A little card politely informs guests that if they do take home the bottle, the full retail price will be charged. Sort of sucks, but there is no one stopping you from filling up your own bottle. 

Amenities at The Dorothy Motel
  • Free wi-fi
  • Outdoor courtyard with chairs, tables and plants
  • Two sheltered bike racks in the courtyard
  • Bike repair station with tools and a tire pump in the courtyard
  • Ice-Machine for in-room ice buckets
  • In-room safe for valuables
  • Smartphone check-in and check-out
  • Room access via smartphones 
  • Option for in-person check-in complete with physical room keys at the sister property less than 5 minutes away, Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa. 
  • Dial *44 on the in-room phone to hear an Elk Bugle! 
  • Access to Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa's concierge via in-room phone 
A few favourite details from my stay at the Dorothy Motel include the Black + Decker Heritage Dome Kettle in cream. I swear that kettle was basically the only "1950's" element in the room, but it alone gave the room an amazing 50's charm! I guess it goes to show how one perfectly selected detail can completely alter the aesthetic of a space. 

The only improvement that I can think of would be the linens, mattress and pillows. I will admit that I have been spoiled by my stays at the Four Seasons and other luxury hotels. The Dorothy Motel's beds were not comfortable. The mattress and pillows felt stiff, but worse was the linens. The sheets were scratchy, stiff, itchy and there was an oil stain on one duvet. 

Since this is a motel, you are missing amenities like room service, turn down service and doormen. That being said, at $160 a night, The Dorothy Motel is an affordable stay in one of Canada's most expensive tourist cities. I am keeping The Dorothy Motel in mind for my future stays in Banff. 


Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Golden Skybridge including an Exhilarating Treetop Experience

Golden BC's newest attraction, the Golden Skybridge, was completed and opened for guests to visit just this past May of 2021. Still fresh from opening day, some of the attractions at Golden Skybridge are still under construction like the Giant Swing, but others are open for guests to enjoy. The moment I learned about Golden Skybridge, I was fixated on visiting and I was able to in the final week of September, just ahead of Golden Skybridge closure for the 2021 season. 

The two Skybridges officially boast the honour of Canada's highest suspension bridges and cross the Columbia Valley with phenomenal views of the Rocky and Purcell mountains. A 61-meter tall Hospital Creek Fall rushes into the river that flows beneath the bridges and into the mountainous forests. 

Flying Domestically in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last week, I flew domestically to and from Calgary, Alberta. The flight barely exceeds an hour of flight time from Vancouver, British Columbia, so I could hardly take advantage of inflight entertainment. Not that there have been many movies released since the onset of the pandemic. Since returning, I have been fielding questions about what it was like to fly during the pandemic? 

Normal travel has resumed for domestic flights in Canada. I am a Canadian citizen and did not face any hurdles as one. I booked my tickets normally through the airline carrier's website. There is a small blurb on the website advising guests that are experiencing any flu-like symptoms to refrain from flying. Flying domestically within Canada does not require a negative COVID-19 test. I checked in remotely 24 hours in advance. Since I was not checking any luggage in, so after arriving at YVR airport, I proceeded directly to security. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. Did the normal security screening process at YVR airport after which strolled around the terminal until it was time to report to the gate for boarding. 

THREE COVID-19 related changes implemented by both Air Canada (YVR Airport) and WestJet (YYC Airport): 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Claudia's Kitchen is upgrading your home charcuterie

Charcuterie has steadily garnered popularity in Vancouver and I only see demand increasing for these artistically arranged meat and cheese boards. Originating from 15th century France, Charcuterie has evolved from only meats to now include an array of accoutrements. Claudia's Kitchen specializes in charcuterie condiments and sent over a package containing their 4 core products. 

Claudia's Kitchen is elevating your home charcuterie spreads. All of their condiments are prepared fresh in Vancouver in small batches. Owner Claudia is making it a point to reduce as much packaging waste as possible, so the condiments are packaged in small reusable glass mason jars. In addition to the condiments, Claudia plans to offer common charcuterie foods like meats, cheeses, crackers, pickles and nuts.