Category Archives: Life

Our Fav Bike Rides around Vancouver

Inspired by summer-like weather we have just taken our bikes into get tuned up so we can hit the roads and trails safely this summer. While many may complain about Vancouver’s bike lanes disrupting their commutes, we think it’s great that our city celebrates cycling and embraces this green means of transport no matter what the weather. There are lots of bike rental spots should you need to rent, and many events even have free bike lock up.

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Throw on a pair of sporty sandals, I’ve just found some lovelies, from Keen UNEEK Foot Wear, and they’re perfect for going from cycle to patio. Where to go when you feel like spinning your wheels? We’ve got a few suggestions.

Kits Beach to Jericho and Spanish Banks

If you are downtown the bike lanes on Burrard Street Bridge make getting from downtown to Kits Beach very simple. Cross the bridge, bike through Kits Beach, head out on Cornwall, and you’ll bike right into Jericho Beach. Stop in for some nachos and a beer at the Jericho Sailing Club and the patio and window seating provides views to the North Shore. The only problem is the envy you may feel for those out in the many boats coming and going from the club and nearby Vancouver Royal Van Yacht Club, but perhaps this is the summer you learn to sail.

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Kits Beach to Stanley Park

One of our favourite summer rides takes us out from our Kitsilano home base down to Kits Beach, through to Granville Island and along the seawall past Science World onward just to the entry of Stanley Park. This part of the seawall is far less busy, even on the weekends, and we usually add a stop in at Olympic Village for a bevvy and bite at Tap and Barrel, or pack a picnic and enjoy it midway. On the way home a stop in Granville Island provides us with BBQ provisions.

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Stanley Park

Not recommended on busy summer weekends during prime time, but if you get up early or cycle after dinner, the paths are far less crowded. Be sure to stay in the bike lanes on the seawall, and for an extra adventure head to the Vancouver Aquarium for a mid-cycle break, they are currently showcasing a Sea Monsters revealed exhibit. If you’re a trail lover there are bike trails through the park. Be sure to check out the rose garden and Lost Lake Lagoon for turtle and other wildlife spotting.

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UBC’s Pacific Spirit Park

There’s lots of hiking and biking trails throughout the Pacific Spirit Regional Park, an awesome urban forest not far from the city’s hustle. If you’re up to it, bike out to UBC through Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks, if not, throw your bike on the bus and you’re set. Forage for mushrooms, and head into the campus for a post ride snack from one of the food trucks.

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Queen Elizabeth Park

Why not grab your backpack, head to the Vancouver Farmers Market at Nat Bailey for some goodies and then spend the afternoon cycling and hanging out in Queen Elizabeth Park. The Ontario Street bike route gets you there and you can stop for a rest at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory or a bite to eat at Seasons in the Park. Be sure to check out the views as at 152 meters above sea level, it’s the highest point in the city.

Central Valley Greenway

Crazily enough I once ran the Central Valley Greenway out from Vancouver to New Westminster, but cycling it is way easier! It forms the spine of Metro Vancouver’s cycling network and roughly parallels the Millennium SkyTrain Line, starting in downtown Vancouver at Science World and traveling through Burnaby and New Westminster. Along the way you can stop on Commercial Drive, Trout Lake or Burnaby Lake and at the end you can celebrate with a stop at New Westminster’s River Market at Westminster Quay. Also along the route you’ll find Steel Oak Brewing. Need we say more?

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This post has been brought to you by KEEN UNEEK Shoes.

15 Steps to Emergency Preparedness – How to Build Your Emergency Food Stocks

Food-Kit-Shopping-List

St. John Ambulance is urging Vancouverites to take safety into their own hands and get emergency ready with the launch of their dedicated emergency preparedness blog, 15 Easy Steps to Emergency Preparedness at EmergencyReady.ca.

We are sharing this article on how to prepare for an emergency with and how to stock up on non-perishable food items so you can weather the storm with less stress.

Fueling your body in an emergency is very different from your everyday diet. The focus is on meeting your basic needs rather than on satisfying any cravings and preferences. Of course, non-perishables and other emergency-friendly foods have come a long way over the years. Thankfully, it’s possible to gather convenient and nutritious items for handy meal options in the case of an emergency.

One golden rule of emergency preparedness is the 72-Hour Rule. It could take 72 hours or more to receive any assistance or instructions about the location of your local emergency reception centre. So your kit should be stocked with enough food to sustain you for a minimum of 72 hours – ideally one week – whether it’s your home, grab-and-go, vehicle, or workplace emergency kit. It’s also important to select food options that don’t require a lot of water for preparation.

When you think non-perishables, you probably think canned beans. And when it comes to your home emergency kit, canned foods are definitely among your best options (just don’t forget to also include a manual can opener). But, there are plenty of other choices, and camping stores are a great place to explore some ideas.

We’re all busy, so stocking up for an emergency doesn’t always make the grocery shopping list – which is why we’ve created one for you. If you do a big a grocery shop once a week, an easy way to get your pantry emergency-ready is to simply add to your weekly shopping lists. Plan on making some chili on Friday?  An easy way to funnel that into your EP plan is by picking up a few extra cans of beans. Also try to plan your emergency menu one meal at a time, and discuss options with your family. That way, you can conserve your food resources.

These easy fixes are your best lines of defense to, slowly but surely, grow a stockpile of food that you can count on in an emergency. The list below is a great way to get started. We’ve also shared a video with some tips on how you can get your emergency preparedness food in order.

Top Tip: Remember to Rotate!

  • Rotate according to shelf life.
  • Rotate the same time of year.
  • Purchase foods you like so rotating won’t be hard.
  • Use food on camping trips.
  • Check your food often to make sure it’s still good.

If you’re wondering how much food you’ll need in terms of calories, Health Canada has a great breakdown of estimated energy requirements broken down by age and gender.

Suggested Daily Servings
  Children (2-13) Teens (14-18) Adults (19 +)
Veggies and Fruit 4-6 servings 7-8 servings 7-8 servings
Grains 3-6 servings 6-7 servings 6-8 servings
Milk and Alternatives 2-4 servings 3-4 servings 2-3 servings
Meat and Alternatives 1-2 servings 2-3 servings 2-3 servings

Dairy and Alternatives

  • canned milk
  • cheese (in wax)
  • milk alternatives in shelf-stable packaging

Protein

  • canned tuna and/or salmon
  • canned baked beans
  • canned soups/stews
  • protein powder
  • jerky
  • nuts
  • instant soup mixes
  • protein bars
  • peanut/almond butter

Grains

  • granola/cereal bars
  • instant oatmeal
  • crackers
  • whole grain cereal
  • granola

Fruits and Vegetables

  • canned fruit
  • dried fruit
  • canned veggies
  • canned vegetable soup

Drinks

  • juice packs
  • herbal teas
  • instant coffee
  • powdered chocolate mix
  • Chicken, beef, or vegetable bouillon

Video: Food Kit for Disaster Preparedness

NCDHD Health Department – Very detailed 5-month shopping list

Mother’s Day Gifts Take Two

Well, I dished on some good foodie gifts, but I thought I needed to do one more guide on what to give Mom’s to help them escape from the kitchen as well, just in case your Mom should want to!

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Jeweliette Jewelry double sided Pearl Earings! Modeled here by one of our fav stylists, Nadia Albano. Love all their fantastic jewels. Visit them on Hornby near Helmcken before your next event and sparkle!

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Saje Ultrasonic Nebulizer $69.95 Add a splash of chic to any home with this ultra stylish and fun unit. Reduce dust and other common allergens while creating a pleasing atmosphere of aromatherapy.  I have one and love it! baths

For the Love of Baths Bubble Bath Blocks. Clean her bathroom, light some candles and draw her a bath with one of these amazing blocks.

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With Manito Silk Sleepware she’ll be sure to get a good night’s sleep.

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Merino Wool Athletic Wear for the active Mom! $69

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Optimera 24-Hour Skincare Set ($188) Featuring the Age-Defying Day Cream and Age-Defying Night Cream, this gift set allows for a full facial treatment. Mom will start her morning by applying the moisturizing day cream for a youthful, radiant glow all day long. After a long day, instead of applying multiple products, she’ll cleanse her face and apply the mask-like night cream, which will work its magic over night before she has to prepare for another busy day.

Urban Digs Farm’s Ten Spring Gardening tips

How does your garden grow? We recently visited our community garden plot at city hall and are in the process of planning what we’ll plant this year. It’s a little bare right now! We just have a tiny spot so are fairly limited, but even with a little bit of land the tips below from Urban Digs come in handy. Thanks Urban Digs! 

Urban Digs Farm supplies families and chefs with trustworthy meat, eggs, and produce grown at their farm and by farmers they know and trust. AND good news, their farm stand opens officially this weekend on May 2nd. Urban Digs Farm is at 4992 Byrne Road Burnaby.

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  1. Make a plan – we are so fortunate that we can have fresh veggies almost all year round – with a little planning you can plant in succession starting in February all the way through to late fall.
  2. Get composting! Build and feed the soil with microorganisms, worms, and organic matter!  Never mind those little hardware store composters – you need about a metre square of material – 30-40% nitrogen (green – grass clippings, kitchen scraps, seaweed, manures) and 60-70% carbon ( brown – woodchips, old leaves, straw). Add a couple of cups of molasses to get things going.  Let it sit for a week to heat up, then turn it over once a week for about 8 weeks.
  3. Don’t till that soil! I know it feels good to churn everything up to give a fresh start – but by doing so you disrupt the brilliant growing network of mycelium under the ground that is nature’s internet – connecting plants with what they need.  As well, the more you dig, the more you spread those weeds.  Cut old plants off at the soil, let the roots rot and return good stuff back to the ground.
  4. Give your seeds a head start. Using a combination of potting soil (sterile) and vermiculate plant your tomato, cucumber, bean, and pepper seeds indoors  – you can use any desk lamp, or get fancy with a grow light keeping it low over the tray to grow strong little guys who, once there’s a couple sets of leaves, can be transplanted in the big outdoors.
  5. Root and tubers, straight in! Direct seed carrots, beets, parsnips into the dirt – make sure they’ve got lots of room underneath to grow down.
  6. Cut and plant potatoes. Either the seed stock from a nursery or the organic ones that are going green in your drawer can work to provide a great mid summer harvest.  Cut them such that there is at least one ‘eye’ per piece. Trench the row and drop ‘em in – covering with 2-3 inches of good soil.  As they grow, continue to bury the leaves as that’ll make for more potatoes later on!
  7. Cover ‘em up – once outside those little guys are still a wee vulnerable to late frost, birds, or even too much early sun. Cover up the seedlings with remay or an equivalent cloth – that provides protection and insulation while still allowing light and water to get through.  Once they’ve got a good foothold and the days are longer and warmer you can remove the cover.
  8. Mulch – bare dirt is like exposed skin. Use straw, old leaves, or even shredded newspaper to cover all the spots that aren’t planted – it’ll suppress the weeds, hold moisture, and create a lovely haven for beneficial soil critters.
  9. Jump ahead of the weeds – get ‘em before they seed! Hand pull weeds before they take over. They are just doing their job, but since you want other stuff to grow – they need to step aside. The goal is simply to advantage the good by disadvantaging the not so good.
  10. Sharpen your tools – now’s the time to get at those pruners, clippers, lawn mower blades, anything with a blade – all sharp – not only does it make the work so much easier, but means the cuts are cleaner and less damaging to the plant, tree, or shrub.

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Shopping For Valentines Day? Shop Etsy and Keep it Canadian!

Plan the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise for your sweetheart by turning to Etsy for all of your gifting needs.

ETSY

Profess your undying love through the written word with kardzkouture luxurious textured fine art paper cards, hand-crafted in Vancouver. The way to his heart could be through his stomach – surprise your significant other by making delicious cupcakes topped with mini heart-shaped cupcake toppers from LovelyLittleThingsB (Calgary), make a bold statement, and brighten a room with joy using wall decals, hand-made by Urbanwalls (Vancouver). Diamonds truly are a girl’s best friend, so take her breath away this Valentine’s day with raw pink sapphire cluster earrings, by ASecondTime (Calgary).

Prove you two are better together, and find the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for your one and only at Etsy.com.

Lincoln MKC 2015

We’re currently car-less, so have been testing out numerous models as a result. Our latest one was very hard to return.

As Lincoln moves further into the luxury market we’ve see some upscale features in new models such as the Lincoln MKC that we recently took for a spin. This model has a sophisticated look, performs well, has lots of cabin space and some cool new technology, all for a less than similar models from other manufacturers. We felt quite posh stepping in and out of the MKC!

Lincoln MKC 2015 interior

Opening the car with the remote and getting seated in the driver’s seat, I found push buttons instead of a shift lever to activate the car and a nice big screen to control the entertainment, heating and navigation; the MKC feels luxurious inside and out. Under the hood you’ll find a 2.0-liter EcoBoost Engine, with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque or a can upgrade to the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque; the later means you  can go from zero to sixty in seven seconds.  All-Wheel Drive is standard and steering precise. The car handles with a nice sense of control and is also super quiet inside as Lincoln employs Active Noise Control technology.

In all models you’ll find a heated driver’s and passenger’s seats; the MyLincoln Touch system, two USB ports (great for charging both our phones), an SD card reader, keyless entry and push-button star, cruise control, remote start, HID headlamps, reverse sensors, heated mirrors, and more. When a car is in your way if you were to change lanes, a little light lights up on the rear view mirrors to alert you to remain in your lane until it passes. There’s also parallel parking assist and a camera for when you back up as well as the loud beeping in case you are about to back into something. Good for me as I am often in a tight spot.

This was a vehicle we did not want to return, but when we had to, were pleased with the mileage, meaning less money out of pocket for gas. Prices vary, but start around $35,000. Build your Lincoln MKC here.

 

Patio Gardening

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Like most other Vancouverites housing prices dictate that we live in a rather small space meaning gardening for us is just a patio and our community garden. This year we got a bit of a late start to prettying up the patio, but there’s still time for you to add a few plants and pretty up your living spaces.

This first photo is our basil and a few plants my partner Michael picked up as an awesome present for me. I like potted plants way better than cut flavours. Thanks love!

We recently added a few plants we picked up at Presidents Choice garden center as well. Their planters are priced well and there is great information on the plant tags as to how much sun the plants need. Be sure to read it and buy accordingly.

As our patio is rather sunny (we face west) we picked up the following on our latest shopping spree:

Sweet Georgia Heart Red

Sweet Georgia Heart Red

petunia

Petunia double Madness Mix

cha-ching cherry

Cha-Ching Cherry

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Confetti Garden Beyond the Sea

stained glassworks luminesce

Stained Glassworks luminesce

calibrachoa hybrid

Calibrachoa Hybrid

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PC Gigantice Deluxe Planter

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Final Result. Max does not come from President’s Choice and I’m not sure how he got there, but he is a wild thing after all. The lamp and bookcase Ikea, and we had the ivy and the all the other planters except the two brown ones already. The framed plants are from By Nature Design.

If you’d like to start or add to a patio garden of your own do remember these key points:

1) Light – Make sure your plants are made for the light you have – check those tags!

2) Drainage – Make sure plants have drainage so they don’t drown. Add holes in pots it there isn’t sufficient drainage.

3) Plant Feed – They do need food as well as water. We use President’s Choice Magic-Grow.

4) Don’t be scared to cut back dying parts of your plants so that the healthy parts may live.

5) Repot when plants are getting crowded – you can divide some plants into two pots too.

6) Use lots of potting soil, not gravel or filler.

7) Water frequently

8) Plant herbs together and use organic fertilizer on things you eat.

Here’s a fun resource for container gardening for food too!

Driving Tips With Carl Nadeau – Michelin

The courseSince I do a ton of road trips in the summer, I jumped at the opportunity to hang out with professional race car driver, Carl Nadeau to pick up some driving tips for summer conditions. This event involved testing out a variety of different tires on dry road conditions and then wet ones (they flooded the parking lot to simulate) on a course out at the PNE. This wasn’t the course for anyone who likes to take it easy as Nadeau kept pushing me to speed up, slam the brakes, take the corner faster; I was sure I would crash, but didn’t.

The most important take away from the event was that if you are trying to use winter tires in the summer, just don’t. I tested out winter tires vs all seasons on the same vehicle and the performance was vastly different. Winter tires don’t allow the car to stop anywhere near where all seasons are when you slam on the brakes and they slip all over the road when cornering. The other difference was less drastic, but indeed noticeable. We put the Michelin Premier A/S tires against the most highly rated of the competition and I did notice a difference in performance as I stopped sooner and slid less. I did this twice just to be sure I wasn’t being unduly influenced as the event was indeed sponsored by the tire company. MICHELIN® Premier™ A/S tire promises shorter stopping on wet roads, hydroplaning resistance and increased grip, and I certainly felt safer in these.

Here’s some tips for driving as well. I learned a lot about keeping two hands on the wheel.Michelin Premier AS Tire

Check Your Tires: After all, tires are the only part of your car that touches the road.

  • Check your tires for wear – Using the “Penny Test’’, put the edge of the coin into the tread with the Queen going in head first. If the top of the Queen’s head is covered by tread, that’s good. If the top of her head is entirely visible, it’s time to replace the tire.
  • Check the air pressure – Tires have been known to lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure every month. Use a proper pressure gauge to check pressure when tires are cold (before driving or three hours after driving). Make sure your tires are inflated to the psi on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your car. DO NOT compare to the psi on your tire’s sidewall.
  • Don’t mix tires – If you’re replacing only two new tires instead of four, be sure they are the same size and type as the current ones. Always install the new tires on the rear axle of your vehicle, which will reduce the risk of fishtailing and loss of stability in wet conditions.

Wet Driving: Wet road conditions present dangers like less grip and longer stopping distance.

  • Slow down. Slowing down dramatically decreases the risk of accidents in rainy conditions.
  • Always drive with two hands on the steering wheel.
  • Slow down before turning and maintain a consistent speed throughout the turn.
  • While turning, don’t make sudden steering wheel movements.
  • Only brake in a straight line before the turn and do so gradually. Do not brake during the turn.
  • Increase your following distance from other cars to allow for more stopping range.
  • If hydroplaning, do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Keep your foot lightly on the gas and steer the car forward until your tires regain traction.

For more tips on safe driving, visit http://www.michelin.ca/tires-101/driving-and-safety-tips/driving-tips.page

Pre-Crash Phase

2014 Ford Focus Titanium

2014_Ford_Focus_Titanium_Hatch_906333While last year I was tripping down to Phoenix to test drive the Rolls Royce Wraith (covered on Daily XY), this isn’t the type of car that is all that realistic for the vast majority of drivers. On my last trip over to Vancouver Island I tried something a little more affordable and was pleased to discover that you can get a well-equipped auto-mobile starting at $24,000, the Ford Focus Titanium.

This auto goes from 0 to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, making it quicker than many others in its class.  The six-speed dual-clutch makes it no slacker on the highways. The car is nimble, handling curves well with responsive steering.

The Ford Focus Titanium is small enough to shimmy into tight parking spots but the interior seems more spacious once you are in with plenty of legroom for the driver and front seat passenger, although the back passengers have a bit less, so don’t be offering Michael Jordan a ride.

my ford touch

Options include leather seats, a power moon roof, ambient lighting, and Intelligent Access, a feature that allows you to merely have the fob in your pocket, gently touch the inside of the front door handle and you’ve got access. Once in just hit the start button and you’re off.

The MyFord Touch infotainment system is always handy for hands-free calling; voice/touch climate control keeps you comfortable when the temperature shifts and Bluetooth audio allows you to play the tunes on your phone. Most importantly Active Park Assist helps you avoid any damage when you’re parallel parking.

This is a car that could easily zip you around town stylishly, but has the power to hit the road for weekend getaways. Now just to choose the colour.

Cassandra

Ford Fiesta 2014

ford fiestaI recently tested out the  new Ford Fiesta 2014.  When I saw the line up of cars I wanted one thing, the car colour that was called Green Envy! I once painted my red car green and have missed that auto-mobile ever since giving it. Rather shallow, I know, but there is of course more to the Fiesta than the ten zippy colours of the car.  It is the smallest of the cars Ford has to offer that starts at around $14,000 and comes in either a five-door hatchback or four-door sedan.

The base engine is 120-hp, 1.6-liter four cylinder which is fast enough, although  I liked the manual transmission over the PowerShift automatic once I compared the two for performance.  New for this year is the Fiesta ST with 197 horsepower and 1.6 liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine which is fast and zippy for those needed more power.  The steering on all models is stellar.

The basic model can be a bit thin as it only has the manual windows and doesn’t include many or the bells and whistles, although it does have air conditioning. However, this seems to be industry standard as I compare the other brands at this price point. Once you get into adding features you’ll have is an alarm system, rearview camera, LED Lighting, moonroof, racing wheels and the MyFord Touch a system that controls audio, navigation and connectivity through voice commands and a touch screen.  The car fully decked out can head upwards of $20,000, but this does get you many excellent added perks.

Parents will love the MyKey® a feature that includes the Belt Minder® warning chime and can limit speed and audio volume up to 45 percent of maximum.  Teenagers, however, may not.

Overall a nice ride with some good technology and lots of customization available.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Ford Canada provided the Ford Fiesta for a day and provided flight and accommodation in order to test it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.