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


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



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! 


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. 


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

Monday 11 December 2017

Brunching at Spade Cafe with Owner Sammy

Spade Cafe | The Meat Breakfast Sammy
Sammy Piccolo has been teasing me about his vision of a new type of restaurant in Vancouver and he honestly kept me guessing right up until opening day. Spade Cafe is a hipster caffeine fuelled cafe by day and a charming Italian restaurant in the evening. Things really do kick up a notch when the sun goes down because there is a full cocktail menu too, but more importantly, dessert!

It is really great to see Sammy embracing his Italian heritage and adding to the pasta scene on Commercial drive. The funny thing is, I was going to give Sammy a shout and ask him if he would have brunch at his new cafe/restaurant with me, but this man never misses a beat and literally beat me to it. 

Spade Cafe is named after the Italian Spade Card which stands for swords. If you look carefully at the Spade logo, you will be able to spot two swords in the very middle. I really loved the use of the warm wood against the chic white walls. There is a massive dried moss Spade on the wall and preserved plants along a ledge from the ceiling. The coolest piece is probably the magnificent table made from old wood. 

It is pretty well known fact that I love cake and will choose cake over savoury food every single time. I was still pretty shocked though when Sammy told me he had his chef make a chocolate cake covered in my two favourite fresh berries, raspberry and strawberry. It was epic and I cannot even put it into words how special I felt that the owner of Prado Cafes and Spade Cafe had a special cake made just for me?! No big deal, guess I am just cool like that bahahaha The cake was on point, extremely moist rich chocolatey goodness that was balanced by the refreshing berries. My only request would be that instead of icing, I think a generous layer of unsweetened vanilla chantilly would have really complemented the robust espresso coffee that was used in the chocolate cake. 

Sammy is like an Italian Nonna who just wants to stuff you full of food and so the table was filled with items from the Spade Brunch menu. I got the Eggs in Purgatory which is two soft poached eggs sitting in a delightful spicy red tomato sauce and sprinkled with fresh herbs. Since no delicious sauce should ever go to waste, the Eggs in Purgatory comes with two slices of buttery sourdough bread to sop up all of that glorious tomatoey goodness. I am a sucker for Italian marinara; therefore, I am not surprised how much I enjoyed this dish. I appreciate it not being inundated with cheese since cheese often masks the flavour of the seasoning. 

Sammy's favourite creation are his breakfast sammys, both a meat and vegetarian option are available. Both come on a gorgeous fluffy brioche bun and feature a soft poached egg. The Meat Breakfast Sammy is layered with ham, aged cheddar, basil mayo, onion jam and arugula. The Vegetarian Sammy is artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, basil mayo, arugula and blanketed with gooey provolone cheese. 

I did not get a chance to try the Berry Toast since there was already a ridiculous amount of food at the table, but you can never go wrong with house made raspberry compote on a crusty sourdough toast. For drinks, of course I had a latte, but this time an espresso based one since Spade does not have my beloved matcha. But eh, Sammy is the coffee guy, so of course we are doing coffee at his place. I also had a really pretty Prosecco Margarita which was done authentically, so there was no slushy, but instead was garnished with frozen blackberries, orange slice and rimmed with sugar.

We finished brunch with a slice of the special chocolate espresso raspberry cake and a ginormous Dulce de Leche cookie. Sandwiched between two chocolate espresso cookies is a rich creamy Dulce de Leche buttercream. My favourite sweet treat still remains the Raspberry Oat Bar from Prado Cafe. I would honestly squeal in delight if I had a whole tray to myself of those yummy squares - seriously go and try them ASAP because they are delicious. 

It was a splendid brunch and I expect myself to be returning for their supper menu. Me and pasta get along really well and I still need to try the Apple Crisp with Chantilly Cream. 


The Italian Spade card means swords
Spade Cafe | Latte
Eggs in Purgatory | Spade Cafe
Chocolate Espresso Cake with fresh raspberries and strawberries specifically made for ME!!!

Dulce de Leche Espresso Chocolate Cookie
Ending brunch at Spade Cafe with the Prosecco Margarita 
Fancy electronic poor over coffee machine
Oh gosh, that viral really just took my down eh. I look awful in this picture haha!