Archive for August 2013

They’re Gone!

It’s official, it said so in the paper on the weekend…the last of the tiles that covered the exterior of the downtown Vancouver Sear’s store are gone! In my humble opinion, this calls for a celebration…bring on the bubbly!

Sears-Vancouver-ClosingI will always remember the building as the Eaton’s store before they went bust. Too bad, I was always an Eaton’s customer and kind of wished they had not moved from their previous location on Hastings, between Seymour and Richards. Loved all those old glass and wood display cases, the travertine that covered the main floor and especially the old elevators! I hate to say it but I remember there were uniformed attendants in the elevators!

I’ve been downtown a number of times since the work started on the building and it’s exciting to see what will, I hope, be a wonderful transformation (the architectural renderings look pretty cool), of a pretty unwelcoming building. Even with all the concrete posts and metal framing, it looks a lot better! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the redesign incorporates the TD Tower that is next to the building. I have a special place in my heart for that building as I worked on the 29th floor for a long time (miss that view I can tell you)!

Frankly, I am not sure if anyone ever thought it was a great addition to such a prized location. Thank you Lord and thank you Nordstrom’s…keep up the good work!

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This Weeks’ Recipes

DSC_2624 nx2Thought you might be searching for something new to try before summer has left us!



Hope you can  make some or all of them, all were a hit with our “testers” and I hope they will be keepers in your house!

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Butcher Love

A good friend recently pointed out to me that I always seem to make friends with butchers when we travel! Well…I hadn’t really thought about it but then again, I guess it’s true and considering we cook while on vacation, it’s a good thing. First it was “the butcher of Panzano” in Chianti, then the guys at “Wyndham House in Chelsea, London”. I can hardly wait until our next trip to see who I might make friends with!

Copy - DSCN7409Marlena de Blasi has written a number of books but two of them remind me of our experiences with butchers; “A Thousand Days in Venice” and “The Lady in the Palazzo”. When she met Fernando, who became her husband, in Venice, she moved there to be with him. She knew hardly anyone and spent her days, while he was working, becoming friends with butchers, bakers and vegetable sellers in the piazza’s of Venice.

When they moved to Orvieto in Umbria, she found the Orvietani stand-offish to say the least and once again found herself seeking and making friends just as she had done in Venice!

Make friends with a butcher, they are good people for you to get to know! Also, it’s a lot more fun and interesting than a supermarket and you will be supporting local small business’ to boot!

One of our new discoveries has been The Broadway Meat Co. on West Broadway in Vancouver and Pete’s Meats on 12th and Arbutus in Vancouver. If you follow me on Facebook you will see that we have been very impressed with them! Not long ago we purchased a butterflied leg of lamb and when we picked it up got the personal story about the “grower”, where his flock lives, plus other interesting tidbits! Slow food at work!

Aah…the finer things of life!

See my Source List for more of our favourites!

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Time To Re-decorate? Part 2

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Choosing Furniture can be a little daunting but having made your choices from Part 1, you will find things a lot easier. A lot of stuff can be eliminated right off the top because it doesn’t fit, is the wrong colour and style, is not in your budget, doesn’t fit with the atmosphere you are creating and the purpose of the space.

Consider the following when buying: purpose, timeless, simple.

curtains nx2Avoid decorating trends or fads as they are easily dated. If you want to incorporate a trend or fad, the least expensive way is with the use of accessories that can be changed up when the trend has passed.

I’m a fan of custom made furniture and I’ll give you an example. In 1991 we had a really good quality sofa, loveseat, chair & ottoman custom made for the living room. It was not cheap…but in 2003 we had a flood in our home; the living room furniture was submerged, turned over or whatever, in 4 feet of cold water from a broken water main for 5 hours! When I phoned the folks who made the furniture, planning on placing an order for new stuff, I told them what had happened. They said “you don’t need new furniture, we will come and pick it up, remove all the upholstery and padding and let the frames dry out for a couple of months, then re-do the furniture!” Wow, were we impressed! The next time, we need to re-upholster the pieces, we will change up the design a bit and voila, a whole new look! The same thing happened with the Oriental rugs! Cleaned, dried and back as good as new!

If you establish an atmosphere and keep to the chosen style your home will have the look of being professionally decorated.
Consider seating arrangements, lighting & tables, traffic flow, balance (by using high/low heights, different shapes and avoiding overcrowding). This is where that floor plan will come in handy.

Measure your furniture to see if it will fit into the new space. The guide below gives the space needed between and around furniture.

A Guide for Furniture Arranging:

A coffee table should be 1 to 1½ feet from the sofa, otherwise it is too far to reach for your glass of vino!
A major passageway should be 3 – 6 feet wide
A minor passageway should be 1 ½ – 2 feet wide
Space from the dining table to wall should be 3 feet to allow for chairs to be pushed back
Sofas and chairs should be placed 8 – 10 feet across from each other making for easy conversation
When arranging furniture: place large pieces 1st, smaller pieces 2nd and accessories last.

When choosing fabrics remember smaller patterns suit smaller chairs or ottomans more than large ones.

Time for another break….this is a lot of info. and you might find it handy to print and put into your project binder for easy reference. Make lots of notes and relax! When you’re ready, there’s Part 3!

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Granville Island Market??

Am I crazy? Once upon a time Granville Island used to be a terrific food market and, in my opinion, especially after seeing Borough Market in London (now we’re talking), a re-think is long overdue.  Where’s the vibe, where’s the buzz?

These days, with the buzz about buying locally grown, of which I am a big supporter, it seems that the message has been falling mostly on deaf ears in the management offices of G. I.

DSCN0259 nx2As a retired chef and long-time shopper, G.I. was a go to place for hard to find ingredients and there were day tables selling local, in season produce, like fall veggies and wonderful, freshly picked Chilliwack corn. There are still a small number of them inside the market but it is pretty limited. Now we are treated to all imported, all the time, or at least most of the time! How about those pyramids of cherries in December? Try and find locally grown field tomatoes inside the market itself, in the summer…no such luck, sure the sign says local but look closely and you’ll find they are hothouse tomatoes! What’s with that?

What is available is a weekly Truck Market for a few short months in the summer and thank God for that, even though the number of vendors has been shrinking. Yesterday, at Trout Lake Market I was told that the farmers who want to participate are expected to pay to be there and to pay for parking! Really! In my mind the Granville Island management should be thrilled to have them there and pay them to be there to boot!

Normally in the winter months, we haven’t much choice but the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Nat Bailey Stadium has proven that we can have access to locally grown, seasonal veggies all year so why, why, why, doesn’t Granville Island jump on the bandwagon? Just asking!

Most of the year the place is crawling with tourists looking at and taking pictures of imported produce, but what about us locals who would love to find wonderful, seasonal produce, throughout the week and throughout the year? Thank god for places like Oyama, Benton Bros. and a few others, otherwise it hardly seems worthwhile to shop there!

At one time, there were three stands selling Okanagan produce and fruit. It’s now down to one and for most of the year the produce is imported. Unfortunately, this past fall, the organic produce vendor closed up shop and moved elsewhere. Guess what we have now? Yup, more seating for people to eat stuff bought from the “food court” which leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion.

Mamma mia….what’s to be done?

It’s a great tourist destination and we thank them for keeping the shops alive. But, ask any permanent food vendor, if all the tourists milling about and taking photos help their bottom line, you can probably guess the answer.

Granville Island is a fabulous location and it should showcase everything local, to all who visit and shop there. It seems like such a wasted opportunity! Where’s the vision G. I. management? Get with the programme, keep up with the times! Hey, maybe they should take a trip to London and check out Borough Market for themselves! The atmosphere that has been created there is totally amazing!  Just saying!

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Time To Re-decorate? Part 1

For a printer friendly version of this post, click here.

curtains nx2Or…are you moving and downsizing to a smaller dwelling? OMG, here comes the fear!

Here’s a few basics that might, I hope, help you to make the necessary decisions when you’re ready to made a change. Whether it’s just one room at a time, or a complete re-do, settling on a few things at the beginning will simplify the process and help you to create a harmonious whole, that flows easily from one room to the other.

One thing I will say, is take your time. We are going to gut our kitchen in the summer of 2014 and have already begun the process of having a floor plan and elevations done, selecting the cabinet style and colour and choosing flooring. A kitchen re-do requires a lot of sourcing of finishes and fixtures and I like to take my time making choices (not saying I’m a perfectionist!) Luckily, the other rooms have been done, so my choices regarding style and colour scheme have been made.

Let the fun begin! You can do it! Start going through those decorating magazines and Just remember to breathe!

No matter what room you are doing, a few things need to be taken into consideration.

1.  Who will be using the space and what is the function/purpose of the space going to be?

2.  The mood or atmosphere you wish to create?

  •  Formal, semi-formal, casual, or functional?

3.  What style are you selecting? The Style Guide I have put together will assist with your choice.

  • Traditional, country, modern or eclectic (the use of one style within a dwelling creates harmony and the illusion of space.) The furniture     you’re  keeping will help in selecting your style. If you are tossing everything, you get to start all over with a clean slate! Aren’t you the lucky one!

4.  Choosing what the focal point will be?

  • Focal points are chosen to bring “interest” to the space. For instance, the dining room table would generally be the focal point in a dining room. A great view is an example of a focal point. An architectural feature such as a fireplace would be another. For instance if you have a “view” but it is not pretty, then you would be better off to select another focal point such as a fireplace with display cabinets or bookcases or a wall to display beautiful art works.

5.  What will your colour scheme be throughout the dwelling? A structured scheme is derived from the colour wheel and it’s a really good idea to carry this tool with you when making purchases.

Monochromatic (the use of 1 colour that is tinted, toned & shaded throughout the dwelling.)
Neutral (the use of beige or grey or taupe throughout the dwelling, with the use of 1 or 2 colours for accent). When choosing either of the previous two schemes, adding rougher textures will create warmth and character.
Analogous (the use of 3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel, varying the intensity & value of the colours).
Complimentary (the use of 2 colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, varying the intensity; one colour should be dominant.
Triad (the use of 3 colours spaced evenly on the colour wheel. This scheme is best suited to a large dwelling).

TIP: in a northern exposure, the natural light is blue tinged, so all colours will appear greyer on the walls than on the paint chip.

A note on choosing paint: make sure you get samples of the actual paint and then apply paint patches on your wall. It will look awful but you won’t be sorry! Trust me…. a couple of years ago, I was painting our living room and hallways and I had 7, count em, samples up on the wall! Patchwork quilt, you say? Even if you put up the paint chips you get from the paint store, the actual paint will look different once up on your wall. Something to Remember: “visual space” is increased by minimal contrast and warm colours advance and cool colours recede.

6.  What will your budget be?

  • It’s a very good idea to set a “realistic” budget so when you are shopping/sourcing you have a really good handle on what you can or will spend on items.

Once you have determined what your style and colour scheme is going to be it’s very helpful to begin collecting samples and making a sample board on an 8 ½ x 11” piece of construction paper or foam core. This will allow you to carry the sample board with you when you are out selecting furnishings. It also will assist you in editing what you don’t need.

7.  What will the flooring be?

It’s a lot easier to decorate from the floor up! Choosing the flooring is a priority as it needs to be in keeping with the colour scheme and the chosen style.

Time for a break! Have a coffee, look at decorating magazines….move on to Part 2 when you have digested the above. I know it seems like a lot but enjoy the process!

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