Category Archives: Life

Non-Sweet Treats For Your Sweet for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Treats That Will Last As Long As Your Love

While I would never turn down chocolate, or flowers, there’s a couple items that I’d rather have this year. Here’s a few suggestion for those who deserve something special this Valentine’s Day.

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Moto Z Play

Those who’ve seen me out lately may have noticed my newest tech accessory, the Moto Z Play and the Mods that come with it. I am loving this phone/camera/speaker/projector! That’s right you can actually turn your phone into a movie projector, boombox, battery, camera, and more, in a snap. AND the battery lasts for up to 50-hour battery, it’s TurboPower means you can get up to 9 hours of power in just 15 minutes of charging, the camera is 16 MP and uses laser autofocus and you can instantly unlock and lock your phone, log-in to apps, and even make mobile payments with your fingerprint. The display is brilliant (5.5″ 1080p Super AMOLED display) and it’s super fast too!

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Add a mod or two to the gift and you’ll have an instant party with the JBL® SoundBoost — as it’s really, really loud (I’ve used it for a fitness class). The 70-inch with the Moto Insta-Share Projector is perfect for an on the fly presentation and the the Power Pack instantly adds up to 22 hours of life to your phoneYou can also match your phone to your own personal style as often as you want with Style Shells. and the Hasselblad True Zoom camera Mod adds an extra dimension to your photos, and fits so tidily in my purse should I need it.

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Mix it up this Valentine’s Day plans with a few extras with the Moto Z Play and Moto Mods.

  1. Catch a movie with the Moto Insta-Share Projector.
  2. Set the mood with your JBL SoundBoost Speaker.
  3. Capture each romantic moment with your Hasselblad True Zoom.
  4. Take the Incipio offGRID Power Pack on your romantic getaway for a phone that will keep giving all weekend long.
  5. Keep in touch with video on the ultra clear Moto Z Play.

I’ve never had a phone I’ve loved this much. Doesn’t your partner deserve to feel this love too???

Starbucks Valentine’s Day Tumblers, Mugs… and more!

Starbucks Valentine’s Day collection features mugs, tumblers and cold cups decorated in classic pink, red and gold hearts, and they are so very cute that I couldn’t resist picking up a few for gifts this year! Perfect for your girlfriends or boyfriends who might be single this year and need a bit of love.

Double Wall Valentine’s Day Balloons Tumbler: 12oz, $22.95,  Valentine’s Acrylic Cold Cup: 16oz, $17.95, Copper Stainless Steel & Ceramic Dimpled Elemental Tumbler: 12oz, $26.95

Indigo

Indigo is always my go to when I need a sweet gift, and they’ve got everything you might need for your honey, friends and great stuff to show those kids you love them. A beautiful candle, notebooks, a water bottle, there’s so many great things here as well as their superb book selection. Be careful or you’ll leave with too many treats for yourself! I am not allowed in the cookbook section.

Rocky Mountain Soaps 

I love these all-natural products and highly recommend you give them a try. A couple things they’ve got for V-day suggestions?

Candy Hearts + New Bath Bomb of the Month – Pair candy hearts for your sweetheart with our new blushing Bath Bomb of the Month and tie together with a simple cotton bow. Voilà!

Kombucha + Essential Oils – Pick up some Kombucha, I get mine at Greens Market of make my own,  and pour it and some essential oil in a mason jar topped with a handwritten note. The essential oils are an added extra, try the Organic Sweet Orange for your sweetheart.

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Muse for Your Mind

I own this device and feel so much better when I take time to use it, which needs to be far more often! This  brain sensing headband, gently guides your meditation through changing sounds of weather based on the real-time state of your brain. Release stress, deal with depression and anxiety as well and improve focus, performance and quality of life with this meditation device. It’s seriously great and really pushes you to focus on a relaxed state.

• Learn the essentials of focussed attention meditation
• Soundscapes include Beach, Rainforest, Desert and others*
• Milestones and rewards to keep you motivated
• Create multiple accounts and share with family and friends
• End of session results and graphs help measure progress
• Exercises contributed by meditation experts to help you learn

On sale for $250.

Stop Bouncing Around – Get The Right Sports Bra With Diane’s Lingerie

Diane’s Lingerie Gift With Purchase – Anita Panty & Sports Bag with Any Anita Sports Bra until January 28, 2017

Diane’s Lingerie has been my go to for bras every since I discovered them a few years ago. The bra fitter is an expert and checks to  guarantee you’ve got the right fit. Don’t be shy, the health of your breasts is at stake here, and a good bra can make the difference in looking just okay in an outfit, or looking spectacular.

Diane's Lingerie

I just bought an excellent supportive day to day lacy bra (Melody by Empreinte) before Christmas and it’s made a world of difference.  I know boobs as I’m well beyond a C-cup and need support while torpedoing through the day at top speed and when heading out on the town in a fitting garment, or even a loose one. Proper bras not only put breasts in the right place, but also prevent stretching of connective breast tissue and restrict movement that can cause back, shoulder & neck pain.

It’s even more important to wear a well-fitting, high quality sports bra as our bodies and breasts move far more when we’re active. I’m moving lots lately and needed to update mine, so don’t forget that they don’t last forever. Our breasts are made up of fatty tissue surrounded by skin and fragile ligaments. Ligaments can be broken down over time and they won’t bounce back and good bras prevent this. You also need fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and generally support your body, all which will enhance your workout routine.

Diane's Lingerie

There are a number of great bras at Diane’s Lingerie and I just picked up the Anita Momentum Sports Bra. Bonus deal, until January 28 you’ll also receive a free sports bag and panties. AND they super lovely looking too, in fact mine is bright red! Sorry no pictures, but I’m training pretty hard right now, so you never know, I might do some modeling later in the year (ah…right). Do make sure you go expecting to spend a little time trying on a few and don’t be shy when it comes to receiving help from the consultant. They know their stuff here and I guarantee they have seen so many breasts they won’t be judging anything but the bras fit!

Diane's Lingerie

Anita Extreme Control Sports Bra $105 32-40B-G / 42D-F

  • Three-section, tailored cups with a crescent-shaped support at the side create a very attractive shape and provide firm support for the bust. The perfect interaction of high-function piqué fabric with functional toweling keeps skin wonderfully dry.
  • High-function, Atmos piqué fabric, which quickly absorbs moisture and actively transports it away from the body
  • Ergonomically-styled support straps, padded throughout
  • Breathable mesh back
  • Seamless, microfiber toweling inner cups for extra support and pleasant comfort; does not chafe the breast

Diane's Lingerie

Anita Momentum Sports Bra $125 32-36B-H

  • High-intensity sports bra.
  • The unique function combined with aesthetic design of this bra won the “Red Dot Award”.
  • Seamlessly pre-shaped cups provide perfect support through to the large sizes.
  • Inner lining made of hydrophilic toweling. 
  • High cut cup panel for extra support. 
  • Breathable net back. 
  • Moisture is quickly absorbed and actively transported away from the body. 
  • Padded shoulder straps. 

Diane's Lingerie

Anita Air Control Sports Bra 5533 $110
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  • This ultra-lightweight sports bra fits like a second skin – it can hardly be felt but provides excellent support.
  • The breathable, air-permeable net sections make wearing the “air control” sports bra an airy, light experience.
  • Cups are made of extremely light, breathable net fabric which is double layered for extra support and includes a side support between the net cups. These cups minimize movement of the breast. They are powerful but as light as a feather.
  • Ergonomically shaped shoulder straps are positioned closer to the center at the back of the bra for enhanced support.
  • Breathable net back.

2017 Acura MDX – Safety, Room and Performance

Taking the Acura MDX for a Spin or Two!

We drove our fair share of cars last year, sometimes just about town, but usually on one of our frequent road trips, and we certainly found a few favourites. Our number one was the Acura MDX, both around the city and on the highways; it was the hardest loaner to give back.

2017 Acura MDX

We drove the newest model last month up to Sun Peaks Resort in rather advanced snow conditions, and the vehicle certainly made the trip more comfortable and possibly saved our lives. I know that sounds rather dramatic, but the we had a near miss when an eighteen wheeler came around the corner, far too far over in our lane, and the car in front of us braked suddenly. We had full snow tires on and the grip combined with the Vehicle Stability Assist stabilized the vehicle and maintained traction, and prevented us from a full slide off the road.  The MDX now also has the AcruaWatch safety system across the whole MDX line, not just in the Elite, so all models are also aided by forward collision warning, auto-emergency braking and lane-keeping. The lane-keeping can be a bit abrupt and we chose to disable as it sort of jerks the car if you veer off slightly and it’s a bit distracting.2017 Acura MDX

The Acura MDX is in the luxury three-row crossover category, with a price range from around $54,000-$66,000, and there’s plenty of room for passengers, or in our case luggage. The engine is 290-horsepower, 3.5-litre V6 engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission, with variable cylinder management, meaning it runs on only three cylinders when full power isn’t needed. Our model included auto start/stop, shutting off the engine at idle, but I prefer to disable this. The fuel economy is great for such a roomy vehicle.

2017 Acura MDX

Driving the MDX, you’ll find it responds amazingly, and the ride is smooth, you can opt to drive it in comfort, normal or sport settings, depending on how aggressively you’d like to travel. In Canada all MDX come with the Acura’s SH-AWD (Super Handling all-wheel drive) system; which increases or reduces torque to individual wheels as the car accelerates or turns. There’s also the adaptive cruise control, a low-speed follow system that allows you to set a desired speed and also maintain a desired interval from the car ahead so you enjoy the benefits of cruise control in light traffic

2017 Acura MDX

There are two screens in the dash to control the stereo, heating, navigation, etc. and we liked the way the one screen can stay in navigation mode, while you adjust the temperature in the other. There’s a lot going on there though, with heated seats, a premium stereo and rear-seat entertainment too, so you do need to take some time to get to know the system and if you are solo when driving, I’d recommend pulling over for some of the more complicated functions.

2017 Acura MDX

The 2017 is a bit sexier than the previous year with a new streamlined grille and reshaped LED headlights, hood, rear bumper, and dual exhaust outlets. It looks sleeker, wider and slightly lower, and still parks easily in tight spots, assisted by the rear view cameras.

The Acura MDX is a great choice for families that need both room and safety, and for couples who road trip. We’re definitely booking this one again this year.

Safety First for 2017 – Winter Tire Testing With Kal Tire

Winter Tire Testing Proves Vancouver Road Conditions Call For More Than All Seasons This Year

Sometimes we talk food, sometimes, wine and sometimes cars and driving. Since we opted out of owning a car, we’ve had the opportunity to drive all sorts of different models and compare everything from seat comfort to the effectiveness of anti-locking braking systems and fancy headlights. We’ve become acutely aware of tires and have driven on a number of different tire types, from summer passenger to all seasons and winter. One official road test we’ve done involved side by side comparisons of summer and winter tires, in summer driving conditions (see Driving Tips with Carl Nadeau, Michelin), and it was obvious the winter tires must come off for summer or performance and safety suffers vastly. This time we tested out 3 seasons and winter tires, both new and worn.

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The Course Part 1

Kal Tire invited me out to take the driver’s seat to experience first-hand the differences in the performance of new versus worn winter tires and a new versus worn three-season tires on a driving course in Pitt Meadows with winter-like road conditions. To prepare for the drive event, dry ice was placed on the road to lower the road’s surface temperature and then shaved ice was placed on top of the cold surface to replicate the same type of snowy conditions that a driver would encounter when braking or cornering on a snowy road surface. We also drove on a track that that was not snow covered, but was cold and wet due to rain.

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Worn tirer….obviously.

As you can imagine when driving with the worn tires, both winter and three seasons, there was far more slipping on corners, and even skidding (yikes) and when the brakes were slammed fully on the snow, the car slide far further than with the new tires.

The surprising thing for me, though, was the new three season vs the new winter tires. With the colder roads, even the snow free parts, the three seasons lacked the grip that the winter tire exhibited and when the tires hit the snow, the winter tires stopped many feet ahead of the three seasons, sliding far less horizontally as well, even when both were brand new.

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Checking Tires Out

In the past I’d relied on the all seasons to get me through, well, all seasons. I wasn’t into spending a lot of money on things as boring as tires, and thought that it really didn’t make a ton of difference, but really, I was so very wrong. With Vancouver’s weather in January remaining both cold and snowy, and the forecast continuing on for a few months, I’m encouraging you to check your tires and re-think them, if they are all season, as it could mean a literal difference between life and death.

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We recently drove up to Sun Peaks and on the way home a huge truck came towards us far over the line on our side of the road. The car, the Acura MDX, had a new set of solid winter tires on, and those, combined with the superior handling of the vehicle, kept us on the road, although I wasn’t entirely sure there for a minute.

If you haven’t got them yet, get them winter tires now, or please stay off the roads, even just around Vancouver. There’s a long road ahead of us this season.

*Post sponsored by Kal Tire, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Les Dames D’Escoffier – Holiday Suggestions Part Three

Les Dames d’Escoffier Dish on Holiday Gifts

Les Dames d’Escoffier‘s BC chapter members have many holiday suggestions for both consuming and giving. Click here for part one, here for part two and continue reading for part three!

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Dame Mary Mackay – Terra Breads

Dame Mackay owns Terra Breads and we always stop in for the Pannetone, cookies and some gingerbread men at this time of year. Don’t forget to stock up on bread for stuffing, some crackers for the cheese plate and their lovely jams and sauces also make great stocking stuffers.

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Dame Cate Simpson – Earls Cookbook

If you’ve dined at Earls over the years, which so very many have, this cookbook is a walk down memory lane.  The cookbook is $35 (with all profits to charity) and there’s a cookbook bundle with a $50 gift card for Earls and the cookbook for $75.  At Earls!

Dame Ann Kirsebom

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Cranberry & Onion Confit with Grand Marnier 

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Paris In A Chocolate  Luxury Gift Boxes – the perfect give for the person who has everything! Bespoke Grand Marnier® Ganache filled historic cachets. Both the conift and chocolate are availalbe at Gourmet Warehouse.

Dame Cassandra Anderton (me!) – some suggestions from my clients
home on the range

 

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Home on the Range Organics – 235 East Broadway

Duck Pate, Artisan Marmalade, Maple Syrup, Gift Boxes full of all natural beauty products or culinary goodies are just some of the delicious things you’ll find here in Mount Pleasant. You can also pick up Hills Foods Meats here (Dame Tina Hills commpany), try some Kangaraoo sliders for New Year’s Eve!

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XFour Vodka three pack – Legacy Liquor 

Chocolate, lemon and blueberry for your holiday cocktaila, hostess gift or underneath that tree.

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Brockmann’s Crunchetti – Great stocking stuffers or additions to gift bags. Choices, Save On Foods, Urban Fare and more.

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Vancouver Food Tour Gift Certs – Still stuck for gifts for those who have everything? Give the gift of a night on the town with us! Availalbe in all sorts of denominations! http://www.vancouverfoodtour.com/gift/

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Dame Christa-Lee McWaters

Wine from Encore Vineyards – Evolve, Time Cellars and the McWatters Collection!

McWatters Collection

The McWatters Collection was launched in 2011 with a Meritage and Chardonnay, crafted from grapes grown in the south Okanagan Valley. These two flagship wines represent the entirety of the portfolio, and are a legacy to the McWatters name. Low production of these premium wines is determined by the yields in the vineyard.

TIME Winery

TIME Estate Winery launched in June 2013 with a small line of wines crafted by the vinifera grown in the south Okanagan Valley. The TIME portfolio includes both a red and a white Meritage blend, plus a few distinct single variety wines as our vineyard’s intentional moderate yields permit.

Evolve Cellars

Evolve Cellars celebrates the evolution of our British Columbia wine industry with a series of fresh, approachable wines. Bright and fruit forward, these wines are crafted from grapes grown on our estate vineyard and in collaboration with grower partners in the South Okanagan. Through Evolve we raise a glass to our continued journey, and what the next step may bring.

Les Dames d’Escoffier – Holiday Suggestions Part Two

Les Dames d’Escoffier Dish on Holiday Gifts

Earlier this week I wrote a little about Les Dames d’Escoffier and what some of our Dames suggested for holiday gifts. Click here for part one, and continue reading for part 2!

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Dame Mireille Sauve – Dames Wines

Earlier this year Dame Mireille Sauve led a fundraising initiative for Les Dames d’Escoffier BC, by making some dame good wine, and we’ve been drinking our far share of it and have wrapped several bottles up for gifts. Each bottle of #dameswine supports food and beverage education for BC’s dynamic women. The Dames White is a beautiful BC blend of 80% Pinot Blanc from Sperling Vineyard in Kelowna, 10% Riesling from Sperling Vineyard in Kelowna, and 10% Gewurztraminer from Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls. The Dames Red can be enjoyed on its own with friends or alongside assorted charcuterie and cheese plates, burgers or stew. A beautiful BC blend of 70% Merlot and 30% organic Syrah, both sourced from vineyards in the south Okanagan. Availalbe online and at select stores such as Marquis Wine Cellars. $25 a bottle.

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Dame Jennifer Schell –The Butcher, the Baker, the Wine and Cheese Maker in the Okanagan 

I’m pleased to say I’ve got a signed copy of this book, and keep it handy as it’s not only full of great recipes, but is also an excellent read. Chefs, farmers, and winemakers unite in this exquisite Okanagan cookbook.Whether it’s a simple soup, a hearty main dish, or a special-occasion dessert, each recipe in this book is written by an Okanagan chef, and inspired by an ingredient that is locally and sustainably produced in the Okanagan. It might be free-run turkey raised on the Hamblett Highland Turkey farm, organic vegetables from the urban gardens of Green City Acres, or brie cheese from Upper Bench Cheese in the Naramata. Add a wine pairing from a local Okanagan winery, and you’ve got a collection of recipes that celebrate the heart and soul of culinary culture in the Okanagan.

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Dame Rossan Ascencio – Original Mexican Gourmet Cajetas

Love these sauces on our homemade ice cream or atop waffles! Handcrafted traditional Cajetas are a caramel sauce/spread made with goat’s milk. What makes Cajeta unique is the fact that it is not caramelized sugar, but caramelized goat’s milk! It’s actually low sugar, low fat, low calorie content and a fantastic alternative for lactose intolerant diets, as it has no butter, or cream in it. OMG-Original Mexican Gourmet’s Cajetas are available in three, all natural flavours: vanilla, rum and espresso! OMG Cajetas are available at fine, specialty retailers, such as The Gourmet Warehouse,  and can be ordered with your groceries through SPUD. www.omgfoods.ca

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Dame Alison Love spreads some OKanagan Love!

RauDZ Regional Table  (of course co-owned/operated by Dame Audrey Surrao) Fabulous gift certificates are available in any denomination and you can pair that gift certificate with jars of Okanagan produce from the RJB line of preserves all handcrafted by the culinary team led by Chef Butters.  The preserve lineup for Winter 2016 includes the popular Blackberry Ketchup regularly served in the restaurant featuring local organic blackberries and tomatoes and perfect on fries, sandwiches and fish tacos .
New this year to the preserve line-up are three custom created mustards. All of the mustards retail for $7. RJB preserves are available exclusively at RauDZ Regional Table. www.raudz.com

Chef Butters is also writing a cookbook that will be available widely Summer 2017.  The cookbook is for the home cook and entitled The Okanagan Table:  The Art of Everyday Home Cooking. Pre-sales of the book at RauDZ Regional Table and also online at www.ChefRodButters.com

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Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate – A spectacular pastry shop! www.sandrinepastry.com

Put together a little ‘French’ shopping list from this shop! Fois Gras – A French Christmas feast wouldn’t be the same without a portion (or four) of that typically festive fare – foie gras, often served up on slices of bread as a starter or apéritif.  Duck Confit – Although not just for the holiday season, it’s a decadent treat, especially the way the way Sandrine serves it – two duck legs with confit, all pre-packaged for your home cooking. Tourtière – Although tourtière originates in Quebec, it’s become a holiday favourite around the world.  Traditional style with beef and pork, or turkey with spices, a tourtière is perfect for any meal during the holiday season.  Another popular favourite from the freezer at the shop is quiche.  A bit of time in the oven and it’s ready to serve guests or the family, without a lot of time or effort. Yule Log – The French will spare a little room in their stomachs for the traditional Christmas chocolate log or “Bûche de Noël”. More Sweets – Hand-made chocolates, macarons, delicate, light, almond meringues with delectable fillings can provide the sweet part of the menu while handcrafted chocolate trees and pretty jars of jams and jellies make perfect gifts.

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Salted Brick www.saltedbrick.com

Salted Brick always has their shelves and refrigerator well stocked at this time of year for home cooks preparing for the holiday feast or for the perfect gift for foodies. Jars of Tomato Bourbon Jam, Quince Puree, Pear Puree, Chicken Liver Paté, their addictive Salted Brick Salad Dressing, Peanut Butter Duck Fat Chocolate Bars made by Karat Chocolate in Kelowna, small tins of Maldon Sea Salt, and house made pickles!

hot dame gingerbread ladies!

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Dame Jennifer Peters – Nextjen Gluten-free 

With Nextjen GF Flours you can forget experimentation and get back to the enjoyment of Baking & Cooking! All available in 1 lbs bags 7 types to choose from:

All Propose Baking blend (also available in 3 lbs)
Vanilla Bean Cake Mix
Sprouted Buckwheat Pancake Mix (also available in 3 lbs)
Fried Chicken Mix (Deep fry or use Shake & bake method)
Fish and Chip Batter Mix
Tempura Batter Mix
Pizza & Pasta Flour  
New item** Pizza Shells Frozen and ready to top!!

Available at Gourmet Warehouse **Dame Caren McSherry and online ONLINE http://www.gourmetwarehouse.ca/products?search=nextjen

Nextjen GF classes too.**  (also a good gift)
https://www.gourmetwarehouse.ca/books/cc212/gluten-free-brunch-saturday-march-11 CC212 GLUTEN FREE BRUNCH | SATURDAY, MARCH 11 | The Gourmet Warehouse – Kitchen Tools www.gourmetwarehouse.ca

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About Domenica Fiore extra virgin olive oil
We also have this on hand and have several bottles wrapped up for holiday gifts as well! A great hostess gift too! This oil is produced in Orvieto in Italy, with organic olives that are cold pressed within four hours of harvest and bottled in nitrogen-sealed 18/10 stainless steel bottles. Each bottle is also hand labelled and signed with love bythe olive oil producer, Cesare Bianchini for traceability.
For more information, you can go to www.domenicafiore.com
Available in the following stores in Vancouver:
Gourmet Warehouse, Whole Foods, Urban Fare Alberni, Dirty Apron Deli, Zara’s Pasta, La Grotta Del Formaggio Deli, Fresh Ideas Start Here – W.Broadway, Farm To Table Market Ltd, Windsor Meats, Puccini’s Deli

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Dame Shelome Bouvette – Chicha Restaurant Gift Certificates and East Vancouver Foodie Cookbook

Dame Bouvette owns Chicha Peruvian Restaurant at 134 East Broadway, and it’s one of the restaurants we frequent! I was just there yesterday in fact. The ceviche, steak and fries, cocktails, brunch items, and basically everthing is fantastic there, so a gift certificate would be an excellent idea for the food lover in your life.

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They’ve also got a recipe in the new East Vancouver Cookbook, so you could include a copy of this as well!

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Dame Angie Quaale – Chocolate Salami

A popular Italian and Portuguese dessert, Dame Quaale’s Chocolate Salami looks like “real” salami but is completely meatless and filled with decadent flavours of chocolate, toasted almonds and pistachios, orange peel and dried cherries. GREAT hostess gift or stocking stuffer!

White Willow Gift Boxes

Give the Gift that Keeps Giving – White Willow Gift Boxes

Looking for that perfect last minute gift for someone that has everything? Head to https://whitewillowbox.com/gifts and purchase a gift certificate that you can immediately print and pop into a Christmas card, and voila, you are a hero!

White Willow boxes are full of things that you, or your gift recipient will actually use. I received one in October and was super pleased with everything in it!  Redeem your gift cert and you’ll receive four to five products ranging from: beauty, personal care, fashion accessories, home decor, culinary, and other lifestyle surprises. White Willow’s team of experts handpick their favorite items to create the ultimate assortment of products in each box, and they are truly top quality. Cost: $45.95 for 1 box or $94.90 for 2 boxes

In the October box I found……

 

 

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Rose Gold Mirror Photo Frame – perfect for my sisters wedding photojuicy bamboo+inset new (1)

 

Kaia Naturals Juicy Bamboo Gentle Facial Oil Cloths – great for traveling!

maple pumpkin butter

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Wildy Delicious Maple Pumpkin Butter – perfect for oatmeal with pecans and goji berries from our friends at GOJOY!

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Large Blanket Scarf – perfect for loaning out to keep a friend warm on my trip to Door County.

Everything in the box was useful and top quality. I’m currently traveling and still have some of the bamboo clothes left and I’ve even bought another one of the pumpkin butters. White Willow Gift Boxes for the win! Stuck on what to get me this year? Hmmmm….we hear the February one is extra awesome and here’s the link to White Willow Boxes and they ship all across Canada & the US.

Les Dames d’Escoffier BC – Holiday Suggestions – Part One

Les Dames d’Escoffier Members Suggest Some Holiday Gifts

I am proud to say I am a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, and I am honoured to be included in this group of strong and accomplished women. Les Dames d’Escoffier is a world-wide organizaion and can be decribed formally as “A leadership culinary organization composed of women who have not only achieved success in their professions, but who contribute significantly to their communities”, as stated ofiicially on our website.

In British Columbia we spend most of our time raising funds for scholarships for studies in wine, and culinary arts  and also contribute funds for classroom programs for children, specifically Growing Chefs and Project Chef.  But we also have full time careers, running our own businesses or helping our clients, employees and employers excel. I asked some of our Dames for holiday gift suggestions, specifically from their own businesses or those they contribute to.

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Dame Nancy Wong

Gift of Good Taste from Provence Marinaside – This is one of our favourite places to dine and Les Dames even had their AGM here this year! Dame Wong suggests surprising your friends and family with a trip to France with a gift certificate to award-winning Provence Marinaside in Yaletown. Provence Gift Certificates are available in any denomination and can be purchased online or at the restaurant.

Don’t be Stuck for Gift Giving, Stuff a Stocking with Laughs from Vancouver TheatreSports – We went to TheatreSports several times this year and both Michael and I ended up on stage; I was even on for a whole show. Dame Wong reminds us that everyone needs a laugh and they are so easy to give with a Vancouver TheatreSports Gift Certificate.  VTSL Gift certificates are available in any denomination of your choosing. Certificates can be applied to any show performance or ICI course and are redeemable online or in person. They can be purchased either online or in person.

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Dame Christine Blackwood

Maverick Apron – Blackwood Apparel

Dame Blackwood not only suggested this gift, but also made sure I had one to try for my cookie class that I had the night when I stopped in to visti her. I can put my own stamp of approval on this too. These aprons are super cool, and sturdy enough for even a busy pro chef, so you know they’ll last a long time in a home kitchen. The new Maverick line from Blackwood is all so very excellent, the jackets and pants would be very well received, especially if you have a fashionable chef in your life.thierry chestnutlogcake photocreditjohnsherlock

Dame Judy Ahola 

Thierry Cafe – Buche de Noel

I did a whole article on Buche’s last year I love these cakes so much. If you really want to impress, a Bûche de Noël, or Yule log cake as they are often referred to, is the item that tops off that decadent holiday dinner.  Dame Ahola suggests a Buche Noel from Thierry Cafe and reminds us that advance orders for several flavours of Chef Thierry’s buche de noel creations can be placed by calling 604.608.6870, online by emailing order@thierrychocolates.com.  Pick-up cakes on either December 23 or 24th.

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Dame Lee Murphy

We visited Vista d’Oro  this summer and left with several wines and jams. Dame Murphy’s pick is the 2008 D’oro – a red wine fortified with green walnut brandy from her winery and the Preservatory artisanal preserves  that she crafts. I am so looking forward to her cookbook coming out this year,  and these items are definitely on my wish list every year. If you’ve not sampled Vista D’Oro wines, head to Langley and make an afternoon of it.

 

Dame Daniela Cubelic

Dame Cubelic owns Silk Road Tea and items are available in her Vancouver and Victoria stores, as well as for purchase online.  Orders placed online that are over $50 receive free delivery too, so act quick. I stop by the Kits location often for tea and adore the tea pots and mugs there, in fact keep thinking of a specific to go mug with a reindeer on it that I just may have to have.

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Noel Spice Tea – This cosy herbal blend combines organic cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice with rose petals, chamomile and rooibos to create festiviTEA in a teacup.

Special Reserve Tea Collection Gift Box – An assortment of rare teas that celebrate tea craftsmanship, support biodiversity, the environment and small scale tea farmers.

jade cake stand

Dame Caren McSherry

Gourmet Warehouse is one of my favourite places to shop and Dame McSherry knows what food lovers want and I can’t help but wanting all these things myself too. All available at her store at East Hastings near Clark.

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Mosser Glass Cake Platters and Bowl – Handmade in the USA, vintage design and beautiful for any table. Made of Jadeite Nesting bowls: $70.99 Cake Plates: $82.99

smoked oil

Arbequina Smoked Olive Oil – a brand new smoked arbequina olive oil from Spain. Its smoked using the traditional method (in oak wood for more than 15 days). Each bottle is numbered making it a very special gift as it is limited production. It comes with a pour spout and is sealed with red wax for freshness. Perfect for finishing fish, poultry, or meat. Price: $22.99

kombucha brew jar

Kombucha Kit – The first-ever fermentation crock to be designed specifically for kombucha brewing. It comes complete with its own filter and tap valve and allows you to brew and store your own kombucha at home. The rewritable label at the top of the crock makes it easy to identify each batch, while the booklet provides plenty of delicious recipes. Price: $45.99

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Dame Dana Lee Harris

Mionetto Prosecco! – This is a super deal and we have a bottle at home that we may just sip straight or devote to a house cocktail. Dame Lee Harris suggests making your holiday season sparkle with delicious Mionetto Prosecco! Only $15.99, save $2.00, until December 31st – available at BCLDB.

Hart House Restaurant

Can’t decide whose turn it is to host the big meal? Bring the whole family to Hart House Restaurant and let us do the cooking! Hart House Restaurant is offering a festive three-course menu on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day $75 per person; Kids 10 and under: $38 Reservations by phone: 604-298-4278

Oyama Sausage Company

We love Oyama, especially their pork, of course! Pre-order all of our holiday specialties, then skip the line – use the Oyama Fast Lane!Oyama offers a Fast Lane service from December 17th to 24th. Just pre-order online or by phone: 604-327-7407 – allow 24 hours before picking up your order. No need to take a number, just come to the side counter – a great option when time is at its most precious. http://oyamasausage.ca/

Potters Christmas Shop and A Spot of Tea at Honeybee

An Adventure to Surrey for Holiday Shopping and Afternoon Tea

Celebrations of any sort were big at my house, and Christmas was no exception. Our house was fully decorated with a good measure of garlands, ribbon and the occasional poinsetta, and each year my sister and I would get an ornament on the night before Christmas, adding yet another decoration to the tree.  My mother has an eye for creating a festive space, and my parents home is always a welcoming space, at any time of year.

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In Ontario, where we lived until I was eight, we actually lived just down the street from a Christmas shop, so perhaps it just got into my veins at an early age, this Christmas spirit I have. So when I was asked to drop by a store entirely devoted to Christmas, I jumped at the chance and hence arrived at Potters Christmas Store in Surrey.

Potters Christmas Shop

My favourite decoration!

The owner, Ed Holden, met us when we arrived and gave us a bit of a guided tour, after which we were left on our own to peruse the aisles. It’s a good thing I had to keep an eye on the time as I could have spent a good deal of both my day and my holiday budget there.

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There were tree lights of every kind, from skulls to hello kitty, and ornaments for every possible obssession from bacon to golf. There were santa hats and turkey hats, and elves on the shelves, floors and celings.

Potters Christmas Shop

We found a Christmas tree with snow spewing out of the top, snow globes, nutcrackers galore, and hot chocolate in every flavour you could think of; everywhere you turn at Potters something catches your eye. I left with numberous ornaments, a barbeque brush, marinating sauces, and chocolate spreads but did manage to at least leave the silly hats for others.

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After working up quite the appetite we ventured on to The Honeybee Centre, where they’re serving up a festive holiday tea. The shop carries all sorts of things bee related and the cafe has a high tea available year round.

Honeybee Centre

For December  there’s a special Holiday High Tea which includes holiday flavours in the cupcake, macarons, and cheesecake, shortbread cookies, cranberry orange scones and, on the savoury side, a brie and roasted chicken panini, artichoke baguette, and a turkey and cranberry roll, all served with a choice of a variety of teas, or a peppermint honey mocha or egg nog latte should you with. There’s plenty on the plate for those suffering from post holiday-shopping starvation.

Potters Christmas Shop

If you’re up for a little adventure,  pack up a couple friends and plan on a good half day for a little Surrey-based adventure. Make sure there’s room in the car for your packages though, because I guarantee you won’t leave without at least a few decorations and stocking stuffers; you are bound to find something that you just can’t resist. Potters is open until Christmas Eve.

Premium Tires For Safety – Michelin Premier LTX

Taking Michelin Premier LTX Tires For a Spin

Not sure about you but as I’ve gotten bit older my choices of how to spend money have changed and I’ve opt for a “safer” lifestyle all around (I’m so grown up). When I was in university I remember having a terrible car accident and totaling my car and it was likely preventable should I have replaced my tires regularly with something with a descent tread. However at the time I seem to have had more pressing needs, like dining out, or drinking wine. Now that I’ve now tested a variety of tires, though, and know how differently they perform, I wouldn’t play so recklessly with car safety. I’d be forced by my adult-like sense to completely skip the dinners out, stay home and eat some ichiban, and invest the money in tires.

michelin premium tlx

Recently Michelin offered us a chance to try some tires, and we decided to give the Premier LTX a spin (pun intended) on the Honda Odyssey that my friend drives.  These tires are Michelin’s crossover/SUV touring all-season tires that are great for Vancouver as they’ve got super wet grip when new and when worn. They’re known for their all-season traction on wintry roads, even in light snow, making them ideal as long as the car doesn’t need to take the Coquihalla or travel the backroads.

We chose Kal Tire to install the tires, as there’s many around, they’ve got a great track record, and their rates are good. Their service was excellent and when the tires had to be torqued, as they do after you drive on them for a bit, we were able to do it in Abbotsford on the way out of town instead of back at the original location; super convenient. The tires hugged the road and we all felt a lot safer driving the vehicle; you don’t have to know the technology to understand and feel the safety good tires make.

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Premier LTX tires use extreme silica and sunflower oil enhanced tread compound to increase traction in wet and cold temperatures. The mould the compound into a light-truck-size-tuned symmetric tread design featuring a continuous center rib flanked by notched intermediate ribs and linked shoulder blocks to combine straight-line tracking with responsive dry-road handling. Michelin adds Expanding Rain Grooves around the tire’s circumference and Emerging Grooves across its shoulders, so as the tire wears, the Expanding Rain Grooves widen while Emerging Grooves open up, providing more traction in wet and wintry conditions.

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While all-season tires are meant to keep you safe in occasional, transitional weather conditions, you need winter tires to safely ride through our Canadian winters. Winter tires feature unique tread compounds, like the flex-ice compound in Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tires, which allow them to remain more flexible in colder temperatures, providing better traction than all-season tires. All-season tires are less flexible and less effective when the temperature drops consistently below freezing, and especially when precipitation is added to the mix

*Sponsored by Michelin.