• Mar2

    Group at Fraser River Lodge

    There’s nothing like taking things down a notch and heading out to rustic surroundings for a weekend, this particular one spent with Ford Canada and a group of fellow bloggers at the Fraser River Lodge in Agassiz, BC.

    Fraser River Lodge-2

    The trip’s theme was Back to Basics, and Ford gave us a fun two days of experiencing their fleet of 2015 Fusions, Escapes — even the sexy Mustang GT, celebrating a half century of freedom on the road (with snazzy, innovative technological advancements).

    Me and Ford Fusion

    We drove out from Vancouver early Saturday morning, our group divided up amongst Escape Titanium, Escape SE, Ford Fusion Ti and Fusion Energi vehicles, giving us the chance to experience lane-keeping, blind spot information, active park assist, and navigation controls to make life on the road both safer and easier.

    I drove the Ford Fusion Energi, the company’s first plug-in hybrid midsize sedan that offers comfort while lessening the environmental footprint. All vehicles in the lineup include MyFordTouch®, a technology that lets you interact using voice control, touch screen tap or conventional button. Ask it for restaurant suggestions by saying “I’m hungry”, or block incoming text messages and calls via the Do Not Disturb function.

    According to Ford trendsetter/futurist Sheryl Connelly, the future’s about taking a break and going on mindful getaways, using tech to minimize stress. Another clear trend she’s seen is the carry less movement, using more mobile apps, less physical wallets and other cumbersome things in our daily, often fast-paced lives.

    Ford Car Care Clinic

    While at the lodge, we learned several winter driving tips from car car expert Robin Buck, including what to pack in a car emergency kit (wipers, jumper cables, gloves, shovel/snow brush, extra fuel, windshield wiper, warm blanket, packaged snacks, flashlight, ice pick, tow rope), and how to change a flat tire.

    Buck is an award-winning race car driver and counts the Canadian Grand Prix, Toronto Molson Indy, and Trois-Riviers amongst his crowning achievements. He’s also a six-year NASCAR Canadian Tire Series veteran.

    Fraser River Lodge-7

    A few more useful tips we learned:
    – Change your oil more than less frequently in order to avoid engine damage.
    – The biggest cause for flat tires is an under-inflated tire.
    – Use as flat a surface as possible when changing a tire.
    – Target fixation can cause accidents: look for a way out rather than focus on the problem ahead. 

    Yellow 2015 Ford Mustang

    That gorgeous yellow Mustang GT is a powerhouse and a reinvention of the iconic model; the 2015 line adds a 2.3 litre Eco boost to the V6 and V8’s. The car seat conforms to your body so you feel at one with the car. I took a brief test drive and felt its power on the open road.

    Fraser River Lodge-8

    Another treat in our weekend of winding down was the chance to help carve a 500-year-old Red cedar totem pole. Master Carver Don Froese has worked for the Sto:lo nation for the past 22 years (Sto:lo translates to “People of the River”, an obvious fit as they live along the Fraser River). Several of Froese’s carvings can be seen around the Fraser River Lodge.

    Fraser River Lodge-3 Fraser River Lodge Native Art carved by Don Froese

    The craft of carving gets passed down by generation and an average pole can take nine months to complete. Considered one of the world’s top five carvers, Froese was mentored by Francis Horn.

    Totem up close

    This five-century-old piece of wood was rescued just in time; it was slated to be burned.

    Fraser River Lodge-11

    We enjoyed the late afternoon colours of the sky together with a glass of wine or two followed by a three-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Lucky Dhillon. Smoked Duck, wild Sockeye salmon, steak as well as a vegetarian dish were all paired with Mission Hill wines.

    Fraser River Lodge-10

    Our dessert was a lovely rice pudding served with a homemade pistachio cardamon biscotti and Whistler Sauvignon Blanc ice wine.

    s' Mores at the campfire, 2015

    Around the campfire later that evening, we skewered marshmallows for a sociable s’mores making session, complete with glasses of wine and a clear sky made even more gorgeous with this mountain in the background, its lone snow-capped peak appearing to glow in the moonlight.

    Fishing with Fraser River Lodge, 2015

    Sturgeon fishing the next morning was for many of us the weekend highlight. We were split into three boats and taken out on the river, each boat equipped with four poles and bait. It wasn’t too long before James (Hello Vancity) caught a five-and-a-half-foot sturgeon weighing in at 110 pounds.

    Sturgeon caught at Fraser River

    We got to watch our skipper Ray tag it for the first time. James carefully lifted the fish for a few photos before releasing it back into the river (all fishing here is done on a catch-and-release basis).

    Another 15 minutes went by and it was my turn. I caught a four-footer! Struggling to bring it in, in turn lifting the rod and turning the reel, I finally mustered enough strength to bring the fish close enough to get it onto the boat. A rod belt around the waist helped to stabilize my body for those last few tugs.

    Fishing with Fraser River Lodge, 2015

    With the sun sparkling on the water, we spent the morning soaking in the atmosphere while enjoying the scenic views that make this part of BC so special.

    Fraser River Lodge-6

    The Fraser River Lodge is a beautifully appointed luxury fishing resort about a 90-minute drive outside of Vancouver. The inviting wooden deck chairs lead to some serious unwinding.

    Fraser River Lodge kitchen/casual dining room

    A central kitchen area with tables offers hot cocoa/coffee/tea service throughout the day. Each of the eight rooms is fully equipped with a comfortable bed, desk, TV and bathroom with separate shower and soaker tub. The staff are super friendly and accommodating.

    Fraser River Lodge-1

    You get the feeling of being home on the range with these beautiful bison right next door!

    Fraser River Lodge-4

    Visit the Fraser River Lodge website for lodging, dining, and package rates. The Fraser River Lodge is located at 7984 McDonald Road in Agassiz. I was invited as a guest of Ford Canada to experience the lodge, dining, and fishing expedition.

    Unless watermarked, photos by Flora Gordon/Pinpoint National.

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  • Mar2

    Helly Hansen Pace Women's Tights

    Depending on where you are in Canada, you could either be faced with winter advisories or smelling the newly-budding hyacinths (sorry rest of Canada, our rents are what they are for good reason!). In any case, we’re all headed into spring and that means getting fit for warmer weather (or a winter escape).

    Helly Hansen recently sent me a pair of women’s Pace Winter Tights to wear on my workouts. These are available in black only with pink accents.

    Helly Hansen Pace Winter Tights-1 Helly Hansen Pace Winter Tights-2

    Through a unique body-mapped construction, these tights are super cozy, lightweight yet warm. I put them on this morning for a power walk and have yet to take them off! Thigh, knee, and rear areas contain a warmer fabric to keep the chill out. A sweat-proof pocket at the back has enough room for stowing an mp3 player or small cell phone (but not an iPhone).

    Helly Hansen Pace Women's Tights

    An interior elastic at the ankles prevent the tights from riding up as you jog. I also like the hot pink accents that help get you noticed when the day begins to darken.

    Helly Hansen’s come a long way since its humble 1877 beginning, when Norwegian captain Juell Hansen and his wife Maren Margarethe began producing oilskin jackets, trousers, sou’westers and tarpaulins made from coarse linen soaked in linseed oil for the fishing industry. Today, the company is best known for its waterproof, breathable high-activity gear.

    A few key features of the Pace tights:
    – Two-sided polyester with brushed inside and slick face outside
    – Body mapped fabric for extra comfort
    – Zippers at hem
    – Sweat-proof waist pocket
    – 360-degree reflectivity
    – Draw cord at waist
    – Articulated legs

    Helly Hansen Pace Women's Tights

    I’d like to add that they fit on the small side so plan on going up a size for ‘insurance’. The tights also just went on sale online, so if you’re looking for comfort at a good price, now’s your chance while there’s still some in stock.

    Helly Hansen Pace Winter Tights-5

    Want to win a pair of your own? There are three ways:

    1. Leave a comment below stating your favourite outdoor workout

    2. Follow both Vancouverscape and Helly Hansen on Twitter and retweet the following:
    I’ve entered to win a pair of Pace women’s tights courtesy of @HellyHansen & @Vancouverscape http://ow.ly/JH03z

    3. Follow Helly Hansen and Vancouverscape on Instagram, post an outdoor scene and hashtag it with #HHSpringWorkout

    Helly Hansen Pace Winter Tights-3 Helly Hansen Pace Winter Tights-4

    I’ll draw a winner at random on March 17 at 5 pm. Winner must be based in Canada (prize will be mailed directly to your door). Good luck to all entrants and thanks for entering!

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  • Feb27

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-1

    It’s officially Shiraz Week in Vancouver, as Australia takes the stage at the 37th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival with a global focus on Syrah and Shiraz wines. There are 55 Australian wineries from several regions to choose from this week at the Acura Tasting Room.

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-2

    As usual, heading through the Vancouver Convention Centre West can be a daunting experience as the crowds build, wine glasses in hand, to sample from a multitude of wines from around the world.

    This year, we decided to spend some time in the Australia area and get our fill of several varietals before moving on to South Africa, stopping to sip two wines from a Croatian winery making its first-ever appearance at VIWF. We’ve highlighted a few favourites here. Hopefully you’ll discover a few of your own!
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb27

    2015 Dew Tour Amateur Series

    The Dew Tour Am Series, North America’s premier amateur ski and snowboard competition, is returning to Canada next month. The two-day competition will take place at Sun Peaks Resort in Sun Peaks British Columbia and will feature a brand new Big Air competition as well as the signature Slopestyle event.

    Ski and board fans are encouraged to stop by Sun Peaks Resort all weekend for athlete meet-and-greets, Mountain Dew sampling, prizing, live DJ’s and more.

    According to Neetu Godara, Mountain Dew Canada’s Marketing Director, “Canada is stacked with amateur ski and snowboard talent and we’re proud to be able to give them the tools they need to elevate their performance. With $30,000 in prize money to be won, the Dew Tour Am Series is truly one of the top amateur events in the country.”

    Mountain Dew will cap off the weekend with two excellent concerts featuring top musical talent by Tokyo Police Club and Mother Mother. Tokyo Police Club will perform on Friday evening and Mother Mother on Saturday (both shows start at 7:15 pm at the Mountain Dew Stage).

    Ready to get into the action? Check out the Dew Tour Series competitor and registration pages.

    Dew Tour Am Series
    Dates: March 27 and 28 (ski events Friday, snowboard events Saturday)
    Venue: Sun Peaks Resort, bottom of Sundance Express Chairlift
    Prizing Mechanism: Jam Format/Single Best Trick Contest
    Discipline: Slopestyle and Big Air
    Prizing: Slope Style, $20,000; Big Air, $10,000 (shared equally amongst male/female competitors)
    Athletes: 10% invited; 90% registered (male and female); Open to all North American athletes 13 years and older on event day

Note the following eligibility requirements:
    If you have competed in a Dew Tour event, including Open Qualifiers, you are considered a professional. The only exception would be if you have ever received a special invitation from the Dew Tour (as an amateur) and have maintained your amateur status.

    If a sponsor is providing you with financial compensation above and beyond that which covers travel and event expenses, you are ineligible to compete as an amateur athlete in DTAS. The Competition Jury will confirm an athlete’s amateur status prior to the contest and will notify participants if they are ineligible to compete. The Competition Jury reserves the right to disqualify an athlete at any time if they do not adhere to the guidelines stated above.

    Get social!
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/mountaindewcanada
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/dewcanada
    Instagram: www.instagram.com/dewcanada
    Hashtag: #DewTourAmSeries

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  • Feb26

    American Tea Room-4

    We’re always on the lookout for gourmet, quality loose-leaf teas. I recently did some searching online and discovered Beverly Hills-based American Tea Room. In business since 2003, the tea shop has won awards for its store design and products as well as shout-outs from Newsweek to Oprah. The product line has grown to accommodate an international clientele with a wide variety of teas and gifts to match.

    American Tea Room-3

    American Tea Room sources teas and tea ware from around the world, making them available to both Los Angelenos and online shoppers (sadly I moved from LA to San Francisco in 1990 so have yet to visit their shop).

    American Tea Room-2

    The collection includes rare single estate teas, whimsical rooibos blends, matcha, USDA Certified Organic teas, Earl Grey blends and more. American Tea also has a strong design aesthetic as I found from their packaging and brand identity. Teas are shipped in red-tissue-lined boxes; the packages contain ziplock-style closures for storing in a cupboard or in tea tins.

    In addition to gourmet teas, they also stock a curated selection of teacups, teapots, matcha bowls and custom tea-scented soy wax candles, plus gourmet foods, chocolates, and jams from Valerie Confections and organic Hawaiian honeys.

    American Tea Room-1

    We tried two premium green teas, one green/white blend, a premium white, three botanical infusions, and two premiums reds.

    American Tea Room: Extreme Vanilla tea

    Extreme Vanilla (Premium Organic Green) – The deep, rich vanilla taste of this tea leads to the gentle aroma of Bancha leaves. We found that this tea imparts a slight nuttiness when brewed, but not bitter as in some green teas. Extreme Vanilla uses three types of hand-cut vanilla beans from Madagascar, Tahiti, and Indonesia.

    American Tea Room: Nirvana tea

    Nirvana (Premium Organic Green) – You can smell this lightly caffeinated tea’s fruitiness from the moment you open the package. The berries and kiwi really stand out in this Japanese Sencha green blend. Fruit rises to the surface and expands with an aromatic burst in your teapot.

    American Tea Room: Bliss tea

    Bliss (Premium Organic Green/White tea blend) – This one’s really sweet and bursts with pomegranate flavour upon brewing. Bliss tea includes both green and white teas blended with pomegranate, dragon fruit, and a hint of lemongrass, creating a smooth blend that’s perfect for morning sipping.

    American Tea Room: La Vie en Rose tea

    La Vie en Rose (Premium Organic White) – Delicate rose aroma grows stronger when brewing, then makes for a delicate sip. The buds and green leaves of organic Bai Mu Dan-style white tealeaves are married with wild fuchsia rosebuds for a floral-enhanced cup of white tea.

    American Tea Room: Choco Latte tea

    Choco Latte (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – Choco Latte is a chocoholic’s dream, made with organic cacao husks along with both organic vanilla beans and organic rooibos to create a rich, intoxicatingly divine cup of tea filled with antioxidant-rich rooibos.

    American Tea Room: Sweet Lullaby tea

    Sweet Lullaby (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – We detected lots of lemon and lavender at the nose, immediately followed by mint. We’re looking forward to warmer weather when we’ll serve this one iced together with lemon shortbread!

    American Tea Room: Brioche Free tea

    Brioche Free (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – Brioche Free is an experience akin to opening a package of sweet buns! Organic and caffeine-free, this botanical infusion is a perfect afternoon treat. The tea contains apple, almonds, cinnamon and beetroot.

    American Tea Room: Blueberry Rooibos tea

    Blueberry Rooibos (Premium Organic Red) – Smells gorgeous! When I originally opened the shipment of teas, I believe the blueberry aroma from this one was the first to reach my nostrils.

    American Tea Room: Lemoncello tea

    Lemoncello (Premium Organic Red) – Another amazing beauty to smell and taste. What a burst of candied lemon and herbs in this organic rooibos blend! Lemoncello’s made from “sienna and burgundy rooibos needles spiked with shards of vibrant lemongrass and seductive curls of marigold”.

    It was hard to pick a favourite, but out of the above teas we sniffed, brewed, and sipped, Lemoncello, Brioche Free, and Extreme Vanilla scored highest for taste, aroma, and overall enjoyment.

    American Tea offers free shipping on orders over $50 within the US (orders also include a few free samples). There’s two options when shipping to Canada: $5.95 ground service or $25 FedEx; no minimum purchase required.

    Visit the American Tea Room at 401 North Cannon Drive in Beverly Hills.

    We were sent a selection of American Tea Room teas for the purpose of sampling and of writing this feature.

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  • Feb25

    United Parcel Service(UPS) McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F) // N286UP (cn-48453/473)
    [United Parcel Service(UPS) McDonnell Douglas MD-11; photo credit: Jonathan Navarro on Flickr]

    This Saturday, UPS Canada will celebrate the big 4-0 in true Canadian fashion, hosting outdoor skating events across the country, including one here at Robson Square.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb25

    Polaroid Cube-13

    Remember the classic Polaroid instant camera? Those have been revamped to meet the 21st century, and in addition to an impressive-looking product lineup, there’s now the Cube, an adorable 1.4” (3.5 cm) HD lifestyle video camera sporting the Polaroid rainbow stripe motif. I spotted them at CES this year and was interested to see how this tiny camera would perform.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb24

    VPIWF-International Festival Tasting-6

    The wine world has arrived in Vancouver for the 37th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival, on now through March 1. Headlined by a 55-winery contingent from theme country Australia, VIWF features 170 wineries from 14 countries participating in 53 events across the city.

    Here’s a sneak peek at last night’s launch party held at Joey’s Wine Room downtown.

    Continue reading »

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  • Feb24

    Tuscany travel

    Some of our most memorable vacations to date have involved spending a week or more in a city hotel, with flexibility for day trips and expanded sightseeing coupled with peace of mind in knowing that we’d have a home base to return to at the end of a long day. Finding the right balance between comfort and budget, we spent three weeks in Tuscany, splitting our stay between San Gimignano and Volterra.

    Tuscany travel/Siena

    Being based in one spot during a vacation means getting to know a new neighbourhood’s amenities and transit options. Whether you’re the type of traveler that likes to wander carefree and discover a new place without a schedule, or one that sticks to a guidebook (or travel app), it’s less stressful knowing that you don’t have to face repacking and switching to a new part of the city right in the middle of a vacation.

    Tuscany travel/Volterra

    On our Tuscany trip, we were able to pack the car and head out for the day at leisure, or (as in the case of San Gimignano) just walk out the door and head down the cobblestone streets towards the town square to enjoy a cup of gelato (there are actually TWO gelato shops right in the same square of that tiny village!).

    Tuscany travel/San Gimignano
    [A curious peek inside, San Gimignano]

    Master gelato maker Sergio (of Gelateria Dondoli) has been crowned with Gelato World Champion (2006/2007, 2008/2009); if the line is too long, the gelato shop just across the square is also quite good (I’ve enjoyed the dulce de leche there on a few occasions, alternating our afternoon gelato fixes between the two).

    Tuscany travel/Florence

    Florence has so much to offer that we were glad to be based close by, giving us the time needed to properly soak in the rich atmosphere and architecture of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And we were so close to Lucca, Pisa, and Siena at that point that it was well worth tacking on a few days to the holiday to tour those cities as well.

    Tuscany travel/Florence

    After all, we’re not in this neck of the woods that often, and truth be told, we could have spent a couple of months in Italy and not have been able to have seen everything we’d hoped to!

    Although we lived in The Netherlands at the time of our Tuscan vacation and had the luxury of driving from door to door, we have flown over to Europe from Canada and know how comforting it is to have a hotel arranged upon our arrival.

    Tuscany travel/Florence Tuscany travel/Florence

    We also enjoyed a milestone birthday in Tallinn, Estonia in much the same way, basing ourselves in the heart of the city and heading out in a different direction each day we were there. Our hotel really began to feel like home after a couple of days, and the longer you’re in a city, the more you feel part of its vibe and less a tourist just passing through.

    Tuscany travel/Siena

    Guided travel is also a popular way of touring, whether as a first-timer or returning to a city after falling in love with it years back. Collette Spotlight Tours combine a love of travel and discovery with a single hotel stay, making for an educational, relaxing, and fun vacation. Collette’s been in the business of travelling the world since 1918, and offers everything from river cruises, small group tours and family trips to rail journeys and comprehensive land tours.

    Tuscany travel/Lucca

    Spotlight Tours include bag porterage and express check in at the hotel, two more things to make life easier while on holiday. Many of their tours also offer the option to start or extend the trip with pre- and post nights in the chosen destination, because sometimes it’s nice to linger after a full week in a city, checking out a couple of favourite spots or perhaps dinner and a show before flying back home.

    Tuscany travel/San Gimignano Tuscany travel/San Gimignano
    [San Gimignano]

    You’ll have the chance to learn about a city’s culture and history through local guides and get some time on your own to explore as well. We’ve often combined independent travel with a couple of local tours and discover so much more when an iconic treasure such as Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is deconstructed by a local expert.

    Tuscany travel/Tuscan countryside
    [San Galgano Abbey, Chiusdino, Siena]

    There are currently 16 Spotlight tours available, ranging from five to nine days. From Florence to Beijing, Collette has itineraries arranged to showcase the best of each city.

    Visit Collette Spotlight Tours online for detailed itineraries and pricing. This article was produced in partnership with Collette Spotlights.

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  • Feb23

    Dion Johnstone
    [Dion Johnstone]

    Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. His name alone represents ideals of peace and perseverance against oppression. The achievements that canonized him as a legend and the rousing speeches that inspired millions were all centered on his steadfast philosophy of non-violence. 

    Despite preaching love, his tragic assassination on the night of April 4, 1968, immortalized him as a martyr. Some speculate that the civil rights movement was able to gain momentum faster than if he’d lived. Yet, how many of his followers actually knew about the man who lived, breathed, and worried like the mortal he was? 
    Playwright Katori Hall serves up a sliver of history and fantasia in Arts Club’s The Mountaintop. Her date-with-destiny play tantalizes audiences with glimpses into the private habits of the man known as Reverend King.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb23

    Lindsay Nahmiache
    [Lindsay Nahmiache]

    With meetings, cocktail parties, and the added pressure of managing fitness into business travel, many professionals struggle to narrow down the essentials for their ventures and are inevitably faced with the famous ‘suitcase sit.’

    Both Lindsay Nahmiache and Almira Bardai, co-partners of Jive Communications, have led fast and furious lives full of culture and worldly projects since the early stages of their careers, and have mastered a few secrets to successful packing along the way.

    Lindsay Nahmiache started her buzzing career working in London, England for E! Entertainment Television and The Rolling Stones, which meant travelling across Europe on a daily basis.

    Lindsay later worked as a Bollywood film producer in Mumbai, India, sending her across the country on different colourful film shoots. Lindsay has also spent a large part of her career as a film festival advisor; clients include the Sundance Film Festival as well as festivals in Cannes, Berlin, London, and Toronto.

    Almira Bardai
    [Almira Bardai]

    Almira Bardai made her mark as Head of Global PR at Cobra Beer in London, England, bringing her to Krakow, Poland for press trips, to Paris for the SIAL food and drinks exhibition, to Germany for the Anuga food and beverage fair, and to Cape Town, South Africa for marketing launches and team training.

    After Almira covered each and every European and African landmark, she headed up her own Corporate PR business in Sydney, Australia — a city she admires for its creative, energetic, and balanced lifestyle.

    The two globetrotters met and founded Jive Communications, a boutique agency with offices currently in Vancouver and Toronto. The agency’s extensive client roster spans across North America, and includes Banff World Media festival in Alberta, entertainment clients in Los Angeles, and technology clients in San Francisco. I asked the two for their top packing tips to help organize their nomadic lifestyles.

    1. Stick to hand luggage to save time and avoid baggage loss

    Lindsay Nahmiache is the queen of stand-by flights — baggage check-in is rarely an option. Her trick? She packs all her outfits in a suit bag and then carefully organizes her leftover personal items, e.g. laptop, beauty products, and reading materials into a compact carry-on.

    “I NEVER check my bag. Whether it’s 20 degrees or minus 30 degrees, I only bring what I can fit in a carry-on suitcase,” says Lindsay. “I once had a flight get cancelled and had to quickly rebook another one — my checked baggage never made it to my destination, which is why I now never check my bags. This also helps me get in and out of the airport as fast as possible.”

    2. Invest in a travelling yoga mat to maintain mindfulness

    A certified yoga instructor, Almira Bardai emphasizes the importance of bringing yoga on the road. She always manages to fit a lightweight and compact on-the-go mat into her hand luggage; this keeps Almira focused and balanced in each new work environment.

    “No matter how many time zones I’ve crossed, I never get jet lag,” says Almira. “Having yoga at my disposal, whether I’m in Sydney, Burma, or Vancouver, helps keep me levelheaded and energetic.”

    3. Master the art of bundle packing

    Bundle Packing

    Both Lindsay and Almira swear by the bundling method of packing to dress for success and to impress! It takes a little more effort than rolling or folding, but the payoff of strategic packing placement and capitalizing on clothing shape results in wrinkle-free items upon arrival sans ironing!

    Although it may seem that the Jive Communications duo have covered every inch of the globe, Bhutan, Bolivia, Medellin, Sarajevo, Mali, Senegal, and Central America remain on their collective travel bucket list.

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  • Feb20

    The Dalmore Collection

    You know you’re in for a special evening when world-renowned luxury malt whisky maker The Dalmore invites you to sample from their fine collection. 

    Dalmore Whisky Tasting at Black+Blue-2

    Located on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromarty, deep in the spectacular Scottish Highlands, The Dalmore Distillery has been producing exceptional single malt whisky since 1839, and houses some of Scotland’s more precious and rare whisky stocks.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb20

    The Gospel According To Matthew

    Each month, Melanie Friesen invites a distinguished guest to Vancity Theatre’s Cinema Salon, in order to present his/her favourite film. After the screening, both audience and speaker have the opportunity to engage over drinks and snacks in the Vancity lounge. This month’s film is Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film The Gospel According to Matthew.

    The consequence is a crescendo of excitement and involvement with the fervor and passion of Jesus and an accumulating sense of the irony and tragedy of Jesus’ suffering, in historical as well as spiritual terms.” — Bosley Crowther, New York Times

    Pasolini was a poet. The Gospel According to Matthew is a stunning example of his talent, as the audience gets the feeling of watching a documentary of Jesus’ life with the mystical sense of being there. No other film about Christ is as contemplative, inviting us simply to meditate on the life and teaching of Jesus.

    This isn’t a divine evangelist in shining white robes, executing his abilities in awesome spectacles. As with any Italian neo-realism film, the faces (all non-actors) and images are simple and strong, a refreshing departure from the heavy-handed symbolism and melodrama of other adaptations of Christ’s life. The exceptional soundtrack includes Bach, a Congolese choir, and Odetta, to broaden the film’s relevance to all audiences by including music that transcends time and place.


    Michael Audain is Chairman of Polygon Homes Ltd., one of BC’s leading home builders. A fifth generation British Columbian, Mr. Audain was educated at the University of British Columbia and at the London School of Economics. Audain is also a governor and past Chairman of the Business Council of British Columbia.

    An active supporter of the visual arts, Mr. Audain is Chair of the Audain Art Museum and the Audain Foundation, the first Honorary Chairman of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a past Chair of the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation. Mr. Audain has also been appointed to the Order of Canada and to the Order of British Columbia.

    To top this illustrious list, Audain’s received honorary degrees from four universities, as well as the Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee Medals.

    Vancity Cinema Salon with Michael Audain Presents The Gospel According to Matthew
    Date: Tuesday, March 3, 7:30 pm
    Venue: Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver
    Tickets: $13.00; may be purchased online

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  • Feb19

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-2

    It’s been a few months since Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, a restaurant showcasing Howe Sound Brewery beers, opened in the former Chambar space on Beatty Street. We attended the opening to check out the initial menu offerings as well as enjoy the welcoming, relaxed vibe.

    The inviting space seats up to 170 people between the front bar and side and back tables, incorporating a rustic feel with locally-made devil-themed art on the walls commissioned by Howe Sound Brewery’s graphic designer Tom Pedriks.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7

    This is the only spot in the city where you can sample from 16 Howe Sound Brewery beers. There are also four rotating guest craft beer taps to choose from. In addition, find a full range of bourbons, rye, whiskeys, scotch, cocktails and BC wines by the glass on the menu.

    We were also happy to see the addition of more salads and seafood options on the brand-new menu, which according to General Manager Trevor Magee, is set to rotate for each season.

    Of course, no visit to Devil’s Elbow would be complete without a few craft beer samples. We chose two beer flights.

    Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7
    [Hopraiser West coast IPA, Wee Beastie Oak Aged Scotch Ale, Dark Anvil Lager, Super Jupiter Grapefruit ISA]

    Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House-8
    [Sky Pilot Pale Ale, Pumpkineater Imperial Ale, Pothole Filler Imperial Stout, Bulleit Bourbon Porter]

    Alongside these randomly-chosen beers (there were four of us ordering), we decided on a sampling of several appetizers, salads, meats and sides, and before long, the entire wood-topped table was filled with what looked like half the menu.
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  • Feb18

    Happy Plugs at CES 2015, Las Vegas
    [A wall of Happy Plugs at CES 2015, Las Vegas]

    Similar in form to Apple’s earbuds pre-September 2012, Sweden-based Happy Plugs offers the in-ear built-in sound control experience in a huge range of colour options.

    Happy Plugs-3

    The plugs offer both a mic and remote capability, which I tested on an iPhone 5s and a Blackberry 10. Both worked like a charm.
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