Painting ceramics - the finished product!

A few weeks ago we painted ceramics (see original blog posting HERE). As you could see from the picture in the original post the raw painted product, before being fired in the kiln, is quite a matte finish and very pale in colour.

Here's the finished product (Chantelle's owl jar, and my cat bowl)...

As you can see after being fired the pieces come out much richer and glossier.

If you tried painting ceramics before, give it a's actually a lot of fun (and quite relaxing).


Green Smoothies

Here is a simple recipe that takes about 5-10 mins from start to finish, is ridiculously healthy, is chalked full of pure goodness, and tastes great.

Kale, collard greens, swiss chard, etc are all extremely good for you, and this is a great way to get in some crucial servings (and RAW servings, which is even better!) of these leafy greens with very little effort.
Makes 2 smoothies, apx 500-600ml each...cut recipe in half for a single smoothie.

What you'll need:

-3 handfulls of greens (a mixture of different types of kale, collard, chard, dandelion, etc - whatever is on sale) so it fills about half a blender when it's roughly torn up and bunched down.

-1 avocado, peeled and cored

-1 banana, peeled

-1 apple, cored

-1-2 other portions of fruit (plum, peach, kiwi, pineapple, melon, pear, mango, etc - whatever looks good or is on sale)

-1 lemon, without peel

-a tsp or so of honey (raw honey is best)

-a bit of ginger, without peel (about the size of a dime)

Roughly tear up your greens and put them in the bottom (half) of the blender, and the put everything else on top. Pour in cold water until it reaches the top of the greens. Blend for a good 3-5 mins so it gets nice and smooth.

(You may have to pulse the blender a few times to get everything blending, and you can always add a bit more water if need be as well)

I blend mine the night before and just keep it in the fridge so they're ready to go in the morning.


German Christmas Market to start the Holidays

Alpaca Scarves
Sparkling Hills Resort - Vernon, BC
Room with a view...

Yesterday was officially a German Fest type of day... and I am not even German! It started off with a yummy lunch given by one of our suppliers at work. I had the Schnitzel with a delicious mushroom sauce, spaetzel and the sweeter purple cabbage. And in the evening we enjoyed a last minute visit from my sister and decided to head over to the Christmas Market. It features typical German favorites such as the wooden toys/ornaments, filled baked apples, and . Something that particularly caught my eye was a beautiful Alpaca scarve (and blanket) that was oh so soft and had a nice sheen. For $40-60 apiece, I think it was a very competitive price for something handmade and straight from the source.

There was also a booth set up for this new resort that was built in Vernon by the owner of Swarovski (he actually lives in Austria though) called Sparkling Hills. Apparently there is over $10,000,000 worth of the crystals in the decor and based on the pictures it looks absolutely amazing. Mark and I wanted to go last year for New Year's as there were some great packages because it was so new. The girl at the booth shared with us some of this years packages and we might go for the two night and consider it our Christmas gift to each other. It would be soooo relaxing as it boasts seven sauna's and steam rooms of all different temperatures and has a 'Kneipp' water walkway canal. The rooms have floor to ceiling windows overlooking a lake with a soaker tub against the window...I can only imagine how relaxing it would be. Especially after how busy we have been with work and our 'after work-work' of our 'Alphabet Letter Photography' frame business. We will see if I can convince 'zee husband'


7 Foods Experts Won't Eat

Image via Haya Khan

Ok. So I am a true believer in 'everything in moderation', so I don't want to be causing any panic here :) But, if you DO eat any of the following foods and you happen to eat them A LOT...well maybe reconsider or atleast do a bit of research first.

According to this great article I found here, they mention the following foods and my favorite part of all is that they have SOLUTIONS. It's always way easier to make gradual changes when you are given some solutions:

  • Canned Tomatoes: BPA can leach from the can into your food. Apparently this synthetic estrogen can cause obesity, diabetes and other issues.  Solution: Glass containers or tetra-paks

  • Corn-fed Beef: Cattle are meant to be herbivores, but are fed grains/soybeans to fatten them up quicker. This results in less nutrients (vitamins, potassium, omega's, etc.) because it is cheaper and quicker for the farmers & grocers. Solution: Local farmer's markets/grocers and Whole Foods usually carry this. You can also ask your butcher.

  • Microwave Popcorn: Oh no. I really like this one :( Chemicals in the lining of the bag are vaporized into your popcorn when it's heated. They can cause infertility and cancer in lab rats when ingested in higher amounts. Especially concerning is the that corporations are promising to remove these chemicals voluntarily before 2015. When they are removing them on their own... you know its not good for  you. Solution: Pop your corn in a skillet, add real butter and real seasonings.

  • Conventionally grown Potatoes (not organic): These are like sponges of the Earth and soak up herbicides, pesticides fungicides. And the scary thing is, washing your potatoes doesn't remove what has already been soaked up. Solution: Buy organic potatoes

  • Farmed Salmon: I hear a lot about this one having grown up in the Pacific Northwest. These fish are kept in tight quarters, fed things they wouldn't normally eat and get diseases. They are also pumped full of antibiotics (which we inveriably end up eating too) and apparently one major study said eating one of these once every 5 months increases your risk of cancer. Now that sounds extreme, but why bother when you can get something better. Solution: Wild caught Alaskan Salmon. (If its says Fresh know it is not wild, but farmed).
--UPDATE-- Right after writing this article I heard (dimly in the background) a commercial about BC Farmed Salmon. How interesting and the Read here for the site, I felt that they were skipping over some of the major points and the 'facts' re-routed your thought process so you forgot the actual issue. I especially like the point "Farmed Salmon is the only way to get it fresh year round". That doesn't mean it's healthy...we shouldn't even be getting things year round if it does us no good. What do you think??

  • Milk produced with Artificial Hormones: Milk producers treat cattle with hormones to gain more product. These hormones have been banned in most industrialized countries, but still continue to be used in North America. They have not been proven to cause cancer yet, but many people question there safety. Solution: Buy rBGH/rBST-Free Milk or Organic Milk

  • Apples: Another one of my favorites. Pretty sure I have consumed 1-2 apples/day since I was five! Apples do not develop resistance to diseases so they are sprayed most often out of all fall fruits. Also, farm workers are known to have higher rates of certain cancers..which is a bit unusual, especially because they should be healthier being more active and in the sun all day. Solution: Buy organic apples, and if you cannot afford this, then wash & peel your apples.

Hopefully these little tidbits have shed some light and encouraged you to look a bit further into the whole story. I was really surprised by a few of these... like the popcorn and potatoes. We have decided (five minutes ago..haha) that we are going to try and buy apples organic. In our area they are approximately $1.59/lb and organic run anywhere between $1.50-2.50. That is not a huge difference so I might as well switch!


Work parties are around the corner and you need smooth legs...

Of course, you might go the easy route and wax... not so easy if you dislike pain though :) Waxing is amazing, but of course there are those moments when you just don't have time and the razor becomes your best friend. I am not a crazy green person (or maybe I am?) but I try to make a conscience choice to pick 'more natural' products when I can. Natural products, to me, are things that have minimal ingredients and preferrably I don't see any long chemical names or they are at least kept to a minimum.

But, as I am sure we all know, these products don't always work the same and sometimes just plain suck. This happened first when I bought the Alba shaving cream from Whole Foods (they have a cute little section on cosmetics/hair/lotions/etc.) and it was honestly horrible. The thick cream clogged up the razor (Venus) and literally would not rinse out...and this happened after each leg stroke. Also, I purchased the Coconut-Lime and it smelled like Peppermint? ..Really? Could something meant to smell like the beach actually smell like Christmas? lol. I actually wonder if my container was a defect...that could explain a lot...but I didn't want to chance it and buy again. So two thumbs down unless someone has had a better experience.

And for the winner, I absolutely love the Kiss My Face moisture shave. They have changed the bottle recently so I am showing both in case you want to try to find it locally. I know Whole Foods carries it, but really most drugstores probably would too. This product goes on so smooth, does not clog the shaver, and you hardly need any to lather the whole leg. Kiss My Face also produces many different 'smells' and so far I really like the Pomegranate-Grapefruit. TWO THUMBS UP!!!!


TGIF - Beautiful-day-Friday meets woe-is-me car troubles

Stanley Park & Coal Harbour - Vancouver, BC (beautiful park near me, photo taken on Iphone)

Arrrgggh. It is one of those days! But...TGIF right?

Really it was a good day. A busy day. But a good one. I have had lots of work this week (read extra stress..haha) at work because the boss is away on vacation. This is fine because I actually like the varied work day load compared to my usual tasks as I think it's good to change things up a bit every now and then. But when Friday are definitely ready for it to be over.

So here is where it turns ugly....

I am driving home - and freezing - because of the on going saga with our car. It's a lovely car, a nice typical good car. But unfortunately we have had issues with the heater and the dealership (even though they signed papers stating they would fix it) has not been able to fix it. And it's NINE (yes nine!!) months later. We have argued, written 'official' letters while they have attempted to fix it, blah, blah, blah... but basically they finally agreed with us that it is unfixable. So I thought they would finally return it..oh no... after putting us off for this and that for another three weeks...they write us a letter stating what they are willing to do. Let's just say we do not see eye to eye ;) I guess that means I have to take them to court, which really is unfortunate and last thing I want to do. But really, how do they think that after eight times of us taking the car in and a legal document from the sale stating they must get the heater working is going to turn out??? I feel a bit better.. and my hands are starting to thaw out after being in a cold car for 45 minutes in the middle of November and 3 degree Celsius weather (trust me..this is reallllly cold). And I am having a delicious night with co-workers, wine and cheese. Things are looking up :)

Any suggestions for how I should proceed? Anyone been through a similar scenario??


Reel Rock Film Tour

I recently attended the (sixth annual) Reel Rock Film Tour.

I am not a climber, but I love all things adventure and really enjoyed all of the films shown. There was a bit of everything – ice climbing, big wall climbing, bouldering, speed climbing, slacklining/highlining, and even some base jumping.

One of the standout films was called “Origins: Obe and Ashima”, which is about a young climber (Ashima Shiraishi) and her coach (and former pro climber) Obe Carrion.

I was blown away by the skill and determination of Ashima Shiraishi, a nine year old girl from New York whose passion in life is climbing. At just nine years of age and barely 4’2” she is climbing difficulty levels (V11’s and V12’s!) that many pro adult climbers struggle with / cannot complete. Her lack of height and reach forces her to be creative and come up with different ways to get through these difficult climbs (because she simply cannot reach some of the holds).
    Hueco Tanks (Texas)                                                        Red River Gorge (Kentucky)

If you get a chance, check out “Origins: Obe and Ashima”. You certainly do not have to be a climber to appreciate this short film and be inspired by what Ashima is accomplishing at such a young age.


Dear Photograph - Tell me a story of then and now.

I have recently come across a great blog called 'Dear Photograph'. It is such a simple blog...basically all white, but you are drawn even more so to the old school images. Upon closer look you realize a photo is being held in front of a modern day scene (indoor or outdoor). The photo held is from the past and feature grandparents, siblings and friends. It is actually quite amazing how well they have matched up the old photo with the new scenery and tried to stand in the original photographers position.

Even though these memories are not yours, I still find it heartwarming and kind of enchanting to reminisce along with the photo owner. I even find myself noticing the hands the hold the photos...and how much you can tell just from the nail polish or wrinkles! But last of all, there are quirky/cute little sayings under each photo (check out the site to see all the phrases). I am not really sure if the blog owner or photo submitter creates them, but they add a lot to the story.

Below are a few of my favorites, and trust me, I had to stop myself from adding about ten more:

Dear Photograph, Over 25 years later, the house is still blue and my mother is still looking over me.Alexandra
The caption for this one photo says: "Over 25 years later, the house is still blue and my mother is still looking over me." - How beautiful and heartwarming....

Dear Photograph,Remember when the phone didn’t give you a bill every month?KaylaDear Photograph,Trick or Treat!

I love how you know the girl in the photo is probably the same charismatic person holding the photo (with the striped nail polish) based on her demeanor and pink outfit complete with pink phone/back

Dear Photograph,
15 Years ago Dad took his boy fishing. Today I finally reeled in 3!
Cole Kuehn
Notice how well the photographer matched up the original photo to the current bridge lines...even with the slightly different perspective!

Dear Photograph, Her view won’t be the same without the trees. Jen Miller
Notice the trees behind the fence are gone :(

As a side note, I even noticed last week that a car commercial featured this same idea. It was super cute, they showed an old car image over the new car driving and then at the end had a photo of the house with an old car parked in the driveway. Does anyone remember what car company this was so I can link to it here?? Apparently my memory is just really failing me today... too much to think about at work as I cover my bosses vacation ;)

**All photos used are taken from the Dear Photograph blog**


Painting ceramics

The weekend in Vancouver was pretty wet and dreary, so yesterday we decided to stick indoors and paint some ceramics in Kits...

My cat bowl on the left, and Chantelle's owl cookie jar on the right.

Years ago we used to paint ceramics at a studio overlooking the beautiful beach at English Bay, but they ended up closing. Since then we haven't done any ceramic painting so it was fun to give it another go.

The photo shows the raw, un-glazed product. At this point they are technically still considered "clay". After getting fired in a kiln they will come out glossy, much richer in colour, and will then be considered as "ceramics". They should be finished in a week or so, and I'll post pictures of the finished product then, so stay tuned!


What I learned in Vegas...

I know... I know.. you are expecting some crazy, scandalous story about what I shouldn't have done in Vegas and all my regrets! But no, when you go on the trip with your other half, it tends to cut out that whole bit :) I definitely still have a few little tricks for getting the most out of your trip as eating and playing in Vegas can ADD UP!
  1. If you don't mind having to unsubscribe later this can be a good one. Sign up for the member cards at hotels you might decide to play in. For example, the Harrah's group owns a bunch of hotels and they give you $5 free slot play and you can get other great discounts like at their buffet (see next number!). Another great one is the Cosmopolitan Hotel. You get the free card and then you can either take $10 free slot play or spin a wheel for more excitement... it's Vegas right? We both spun and Mark ended up with $5 free slot plan, but I won something super yummy: Free entry into the WICKED SPOON! Yum is all I have to say... it was voted #1 buffet in Vegas, and let me tell you, it was amazing!!
  2. Ok, so as mentioned previuosly, if you sign up for the Harrah's group card (do it online before you go to save time) you can get $5 off the Buffet of Buffet deal. Now, I know what you are thinking. Really? Why would I want to gorge myself. But here is the plan, for $45 each you have 24 hour access to any of their buffets (think Caesar's, Planet Holllywood, Paris, etc.) and you can hit up whichever, whenever you like. So you are doing your thing, and really there happens to pretty much always be a buffet near you. And, don't think unhealthy as these buffets have tons of fruit and vegetables, so we would just be picky and choosy about what we ate. How else are you going to get your fruit when travelling?
  3. Go see lots of shows! This is really the single most important thing (in my opinion) for having a great memorable time. Whether they are Cirque Du Soleil or David Copperfield or some of the small time show..just do it. If you are really concerned about the prices, I would recommend calling box offices and asking for the 'limited view seats' as they are not shown online. The prices for these seats were about the same as the Ticket Tonight prices, but in my opinion they are better seats. Usually you are quite central to the stage, but there might be a small handrail in part of your sightline. Maybe I am weird, I was so so so excited to see "O" (like-I-have-been-waiting-two-years-excited), but I ended up loving 'Ka' as my favorite show. What did you guys think??
  4. So you know the bus in Vegas, I think it's called The Deuce... just don't use it. We had so many issues and delays...that it was either quicker to walk or cheaper/faster to take a taxi. A one way ticket is $5 each, so thats $10 and you end up taking about 30 minutes at least to get a few hotels over. While a taxi was $7 for us both, and it's instantly there (no waiting) and took us the few blocks in 5 minutes. PLUS WE WERE DELIVIRED TO OUR HOTEL DOOR! You know this is amazing if you have been to the strip as at the end of the day the last thing you need is more
  5. Ear Planes
    And last of all, if you are flying and happen to get a cold last minute then I have a great contraption for you. If you have ever felt that crazy inner ear pain when the plane descends, then pick up some 'Ear Planes' ahead of time. They basically slow the pressure change in your ear by a little opening with a tiny ceramic ball insead. You just need to put them in before the cabin doors shut (during takeoff) and keep them on the entire time for best results. They seriously saved my life this trip! Canada/USA: Buy them @ Tilley's 
It was a great trip and we had a wonderful time taking full advantage of every single day in Vegas. Tons of walking (bring good shoes) and I even mastered the Craps table (which has always intimidated me) and won a bit of moola.

 I vote this best costume of the year! The dude from the movie Hangover who was chilling on Freemont St.

 This was our beautiful room, and you can't see here, but the drapes opened cool.

                   Street view of our hotel: Aria                      The Mr. in front of some hotel I cannot remember :)


In a Pinch - Taking a frozen pizza to another level

What you need You don't need much...

-1 x "Casa Di Mama" deluxe frozen pizza
-1 x vine ripe tomato
-A drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar
-Fresh grated parmesan and a bit of fresh basil (optional, if you want to get really crazy)

Step 1: Bake the frozen pizza according to the directions on the box. Slice up your tomato and drizzle it with your reduced balsamic. Top your cooked pizza with the tomato, fresh parmesan and basil if you have it. That is all.

If you have not yet discovered reduced balsamic vinegar, give it a try and thank me later ; )

Take all of the great taste of regular balsamic vinegar...and then reduce it (concentrating the flavours and sweetness) into a thicker, gooey liquid. It is amazing and readily available in most grocery stores.

You can even make your own at home (easily) by simmering some regular balsamic vinegar in a saucepan until it reduces and becomes thick enough that you can draw a line on the back of a coated spoon.

The one I used (shown in the picture above) is Nonna Pia`s rosemary flavoured balsamic reduction (Made in Whistler, BC!)


One picture

One picture can evoke so many thoughts & stirrings of the soul.

You might wonder what lens the photographer used to capture such beauty.
You might wonder where they live and plan a vacation there.
You might drift away into silence as the photo reminds you of the past.
...or you might be catapulted into the future.

Really, this is what has happened in my case. Of course, by now, there has been many 'one pictures' on countless blogs. But it all started with one picture on one great blog and the stage was set for the day I would begin on a social media adventure :)
{English Bay--Iphone}

The day I decided to, once and for all, 'start this blog thing' was during a spectactular fall sunset. So, it is quite fitting that I use the resulting photo for a theme.

Who doesn't like a great ocean shot right?

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