Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blog: interrupted

I appear to have broken the back end of my blog. Perhaps the latest wordpress update is to blame?

In any case, I’m writing this from my phone, where the wordpress app still seems to be ok (assuming I can actually publish this).

Any wordpress wizards want to point me in the direction of what I can/should do now?

And in the meantime, here is a picture of my dog for you to stare at.


For the Girls

A few days ago was the first ever international day of the girl, and a couple pieces of news from both places I call home are converging to make it especially poignant.

In Vancouver, 15-year-old Amanda Todd killed herself because she could no longer handle the bullying and taunting after she flashed a webcam, and a photo of her naked breasts was used to shame and ridicule her for years afterward.

It’s being painted mostly as another issue of bullying – but it goes so much further than that.

The Feminista column on the Vancouver Observer site goes exactly there with the piece “Why isn’t anyone talking about the misogyny involved in Amanda Todd’s life and death?

There was no discussion of the pressure girls like Amanda experience to measure their worth through their sexual desirability. From her story it sounds like this man had the hallmarks of a predator—he tried to use her photos to blackmail her and yet she’s the one who got blamed….In a context in which women are told in manifold ways that everything about them is wrong— their emotions, their bodies, their fat, their lack of fat, their developing, their aging—when someone comes along and tells you that you are perfect and beautiful, that’s some powerful stuff.

This man’s intention, when he threatened Todd with exposure of the coercive images, was to make Todd feel like a whore.

If we diffuse the judgment, and look at the behaviour of the attacker, we can weaken the attack. We need less focus on “the mistake” and more on the sexism in our society that this man wielded—successfully—to rid the planet of another young woman.”

Which brings me to this side of the pond, and the fact that Page 3 of The Sun still exists.

As long as we are glorifying the dissection of women down to body parts, and marking their “newsworthiness” by their willingness to show their breasts, we are going to have girls like Amanda who believe showing off their bodies is the only way to gain attention and acceptance. And boys who “have been encouraged by a wider culture to see girls’ bodies as property which they can own.

They may be an ocean apart, but the issues are distressingly related. It’s why the UN declared it the international day of the girl. So while you are forging ahead with your anti-bullying activities, perhaps you can remember to sign the No More Page 3 petition as well.

For Amanda. For all of us.


I mentioned on the twitters a little while ago that I thought I wanted TOMS for the summer. And I was correct, because I went and bought some, and LOVE them. Cute, comfortable, perfect for tromping around in the heat.


After having them for only about 6 weeks (admittedly wearing them near constantly for that time) the sole of one of the shoes started to separate at the toe.

I had a hobo-like flappy-mouth shoe! Not only unattractive, but also hazardous, because I’d trip over it sometimes.

I emailed TOMS, and got a form-reply saying I should try returning to the point of purchase if it was a retail sale, and if the store couldn’t help me, to supply TOMS with the details.

I went back to the store, but with so much time having passed, and having long-since thrown out my receipt, they couldn’t help me.

So back to emailing TOMS with their requested pictures, details of the issue, where I bought the shoes, the model/colour, and my contact info.

And then I heard nothing for a couple weeks.


I received a set of emails letting me know that the people at TOMS stand behind their craftsmanship, and my new replacement pair was on the way! No need to return the old ones.

The new shoes arrived today, so my feet are TOMS-clad once again, just in time for our trip!

I’m pretty pleased, and looking forward to wearing this pair out (hopefully in significantly longer than 6 weeks this time), and adding some winter TOMS to my shoe collection.


I love a happy customer-service story. Don’t you?

Derek K. Miller

My friend Derek passed away yesterday.

We met in 2005 at the first Northern Voice social media conference, and though we’ve never been close, he (and through him, his family) has always been one of my favourite blogging colleagues.

Since meeting, I’ve learned we have many friends in common, which is something many who knew him will find. Derek was one of the most universally well-liked people I’ve ever met. His gregarious personality was only outdone by his generous and gracious spirit.

I’m so glad we were able to see him for one last visit, and introduce him to Isaac a few weeks ago. I miss him already.

In typical Derek fashion, he’s carefully curated his website so that it will remain a legacy of his humour, creativity, talent and (most recently) dignity and strength living with and dying of cancer.

Derek had hoped to live to see some of the stunningly beautiful Spring days the Lower Mainland has to offer, and the weather yesterday served up just that. I hope he enjoyed the view before he slipped away.

Derek was such a force, he hardly needs any of our efforts to ensure he leaves a legacy, but it would be wonderful if you would do any of the following:

1. Tell your loved ones you love them, and be kind to each other;
2. Donate to the Canadian Cancer Society, if that’s your thing;

and above all else,

3. From this day forward, never ever use more than one space following a period.

The Campfire Grill – Kickass BBQ

If you haven’t checked the update on my last post, mere hours after putting my frustration out to the universe, Inger McCrae, proprietress of the Campfire Grill (along with her husband Mike McCrae), commented on my post with some excellent directions to their even more excellent BBQ!

Tucked in the entrance of the Eagle Vista RV Park (Directions hint: if all else fails, follow highway signs to Eagle Vista RV Park) is the great little trailer that’s home to Campfire’s prep area and attached to an assortment of grills and smokers. It does look like a couple of tiny shacks, but the best version of a shack that’s cute and comfortable and clean and a place I’d love to spend a lot of time hanging out on a late summer evening. There’s even a fire pit, and Inger & Mike have marshmallows for roasting!

But, enough of the ambiance, you say, what about the food? DELICIOUS!

We tried their BBQ Feast for 2-3, so we could sample a little of everything. And it was all good!

  • The pulled pork was awesome, a perfect mix of fat and lean to get a great shred with a mild rub.
  • The brisket was also really nice, juicy and falling apart, and wonderful with their honey-mustard sauce (Mike & Inger make 4 BBQ sauces: Chipotle, Apricot, Bourbon and Honey Mustard)
  • The rub on the ribs was unique, with hints of turmeric(?). Neil kept laughing at me because I was grunting with pleasure as I ate them.
  • And the chicken – wow. I’m always disappointed when I get smoked chicken anywhere but off my own BBQ, because it’s usually a dried out memory of how good it could’ve been UNTIL NOW. Mike’s chicken was juicy and succulent and everything good BBQ chicken should be.

  • Neil gave two big thumbs up to the coleslaw, which is a ringing endorsement. His tastes for slaw are very personal, and his standards are high. He is generally wary of any slaw with mayo (as it often ends up tasting like mayonnaise soup), but the slaw at Campfire is a perfect mix of creamy and acidic, with a nice addition of crisp apple to the green & red cabbage and carrots.

    I would say the only disappointment was the beans, except they weren’t exactly disappointing, they were good, just a bit boring compared to how excellent everything else was. I have yet to find local baked beans that can hold a candle to the Memphis Blues Pit Beans.

    The Campfire Grill Smokin’ BBQ has only been open since May long weekend, and after tasting the food I can see how they did a brisk business over the summer!

    It’s great to see more excellent BBQ able make the move from private backyards and competitions to full-time “restaurant” offerings in this part of the world. And looking at Campfire’s Facebook page, I’m looking forward to trying more of the awesome things that come off Mike’s grill. It’s certainly now a must-stop for me if I’m going to or through Squamish.

    The Campfire Grill...Smokin' Barbecue on Urbanspoon


    It seems like no time at all has passed since I wrote my last entry about the Couch to 5K running program – but indeed it has. I’m in week 9 of the program – the final week. And yesterday’s run had us out for 30 full minutes of running.

    And other than the hill at the end (living on a hill = nice view, shit for running), it wasn’t actually that difficult. Colour me shocked.

    For the past few weeks we’ve been done with the intervals of walking/running, and just gradually increasing the length of the runs. This final week, we’re out for the full 30 minutes. Hooray!

    I tracked our route with the excellent Gmap Pedometer web page, and despite being out for 30 minutes, we’re not yet at 5 kms. Generally we’re at about 4k, so once this week is over we’ll start adding a couple blocks every week until we can make 5k in 30 minutes. I’m not sure where we’ll go from there.

    As for the health benefits – honestly running hasn’t done anything particularly stunning. It’s added the level of activity I need to not gain weight without being on a strict diet. I’m also sleeping a bit better, though don’t have any more energy through the day than while I wasn’t running. I don’t get any sort of runner’s high, and my sense of accomplishment at having made it through yet another week far outweighs any physical benefit I feel.

    Still, I tell myself that it’s a good thing. Hopefully “Sober January” as it’s been dubbed in the House of Watkii, a focus on clean eating for the month and the addition of a day or two of weight training on top of the running will have us in Beach-worthy shape to spend a large chunk of February here:


    Lost the Knack

    Greetings from Beantown. It’s a miracle I made it in one piece. I have clearly lost my knack for effortless travel.

    I started off the day by being late, followed by nearly leaving my wallet and passport behind on the check-in kiosk. Because I am awesome.

    Of course, before the day started, there was the night before, which was a packing nightmare. I had *just* too much stuff I needed to bring (curse the work paraphernalia!) to use the carry-on roll aboard, but far too little to adequately fill my suitcase the next size up. So at the last minute I decided to throw in running shoes and workout clothes, just because.

    Except, when I finally got to my hotel and unpacked, I realized that instead of my shorts, I packed a pair of Neil’s boxers that happen to be a nearly identical texture and colour. I could really use the workout though, so wish me luck finding a new pair with little hassle tomorrow.

    The flights were a bit rough, but on time. I only got secondaried once, and my luggage wasn’t even inspected by the TSA, which is a rarity for me.

    And now, at about 11pm in Boston, I’m aiming for bed, and hoping that when the alarm goes off at 7am, it feels more like 7 and less like 4.

    101 for the Locals

    You’ll remember that a while back I wrote about the Omnivore’s 100 – a list of the 100 foods whose consumption was deemed necessary by the Very Good Taste blog to consider one’s self a foodie.

    Shortly thereafter, Vancouver Magazine published their own list of 101 (Vancouver-centric) Things to Taste Before You Die.

    Here’s their list, and an Omnivore’s 100-style personal legend to go with it:

    Bold – Things I have tried from those particular suppliers
    Struck-out – Foods I’ve had, though not from the supplier they recommend
    Italicized – Foods that have been on my radar for a while, but I haven’t tried yet
    Left plain – Foods I had no idea were so high on the “must-try” list
    (anything in parentheses are my own personal annecdotes)

    1. Raspberry Wheat Ale – Granville Island Breweries
    2. Salmon Tacones – Go Fish
    3. Gyu Yukke – Gyoza King
    4. Thomas Haas’ Double-Baked Almond Croissant – 49th Parallel
    5. Rabbit Sausage – Cioffi’s
    6. Smoked Beef Tenderloin –JN&Z Deli
    7. Hercule De Carlevoix cheese – Mount Pleasant Cheese Shop
    8. Clayburn Raspberry Jam – Sugar & Co
    9. Chef’s Chicken Salad – Koon Bo
    10. Honey Doughnuts – Honey Doughnuts and Goodies
    11. Foie Gras Parfait – Pied-a-Terre
    12. Raincoast Crisps
    13. Dark Chocolate Carmelitas – Chocolate Arts
    14. European Deli Hummus – European Deli** (Obviously I’ve had Hummus, but never from the European Deli)
    15. Lavash Bread – Yaas Bakery
    16. Nk’mip Pinot Noir
    17. Arepas – Baru Latino
    18. Kashk-eh-bodem jahn – Kashcool
    19. Chocolate-Walnut Rugelach – Siegel’s Bagels
    20. The Doug Special – Vera’s Burger Shack (this one’s a bit hard to classify – I’ve had many meals at Vera’s, but I know enough to know that in my world, the Doug Special is a mistake I will pay for in spades)
    21. Mariage Freres Tea – Urban Tea Merchant
    22. Vanilla-Salt Chocolates – Wendy Boys (formerly of Lumiere) (I’ve had plenty of vanilla-salt chocolates. omg yum. also, where’s Wendy cooking these days?)
    23. Penne with Wild Boar – Cioppino’s
    24. David Wood’s Chevre
    25. Savary Island’s Tourtiere
    26. Black Hills Alibi
    27. Green Party Cocktail – Ocean Club (I’ve been to the Ocean Club, no idea why I missed this supposedly iconic cocktail)
    28. Cricket Bread – Vij’s (Perhaps this can help with the other list’s “bug-eating” thing)
    29. Deep-Fried Zucchini Blossoms – Cioppino’s
    30. Japadog
    31. Kobe Meatballs – Italian Kitchen (totally not worth the hype. grinding the meat up kindof defeats the kobe-ness)
    32. Topanga Cafe Chocolate Cake (I lived across the street from Topanga for 18 months and had no idea they had chocolate cake. I am kicking myself now. Hard.)
    33. Deep-Fried Frog’s Legs – Phnom Penh (I’ve always wanted to try these, had no idea where to get them)
    34. Sablefish – Finest at Sea Seafoods (this is now my go-to fish & supplier of choice – simply amazing)
    35. Wild White Salmon – Elixir
    36. Friulano Salumi – Moccia Italian Meat Market
    37. Abalone – C
    38. Polenta Fries – Cascade
    39. Vegetarian Poutine – Templeton
    40. Venturi-Schultze Balsamic Vinegar (we stumbled upon VS entirely by accident while agritouring a couple years ago. Their Vinegar, Brandenburg No.3 and Indigo are life-altering).
    41. Solly’s Kosher Pickle
    42. C Citrus Salt
    43. Spot Prawns
    44. Ambrosia Apple
    45. Barese Sausage – Columbus Meat Market
    46. Ramen at Motomachi Shokudo
    47. Pan de Sal – Aling Mary
    48. Taboo Absinthe
    49. Tiger Blue Cheese
    50. Shiitake Mushrooms at Bo Kong
    51. Mission Hill Oculus Cherries
    52. Georgian Baguettes – European Breads Bakery
    53. Double Chocolate Porter – Phillips Brewing Co (the venue we were married at had a keg of this beer among others. We had an open bar, and our guests drank it dry. If you like Chocolate Porter, “good” is an understatement for this one.)
    54. Rosemary Raspberry Sea Salt – Maison Cote
    55. Scallops in Octopus Bacon – C (I’ve never ordered these at C, but last time I was there these appeared, compliments of the chef. I’ll now order them every time hereafter. Transcendent.)
    56. Lamb Bacon – Fuel
    57. Bad Girl Hazelnut Truffles
    58. Xiaolongbao – Lin’s
    59. Liege Waffles – Patisserie Lebeau
    60. Stock Market’s Hot Porridge (is there anything better on a cold morning than hot porridge?)
    61. Butter Baked Goods’ Marshmallows
    62. Beer-Injected Fried Oyster – Nu
    63. Soda Bread – Savary Island
    64. Stellaport
    65. Smoked Bison Carpaccio – Boneta
    66. Dodonis Feta Cheese – Pantheon Supermarket
    67. Stamina Roll – Blue Water Cafe
    68. Osake Premium Sake – Granville Island
    69. Burrata – Les Amis du Fromage
    70. Moroccan Chicken Wings – Habit
    71. Sweet Georgia Browns – Purdy’s
    72. House Special Pho – Thai Son Vietnamese
    73. Sandwisches at So.Cial
    74. Quail’s Gate Old Vines Foch
    75. Financiers – Ganache Patisserie
    76. Hy’s Stuffed Potatoes
    77. Ethical Bean Coffee (the Watercooler AM Brew of choice)
    78. Farmhouse Alpine Gold Cheese
    79. Muc Tuio Rang Muoi – Phomn Penh
    80. Chocolati’s Hot Chocolate
    81. Fuel’s Fried Chicken
    82. Cru’s Macaroni and cheese (currently served with a melt-in-your-mouth beef shortrib. Winning combo.)
    83. Blis Maple Syrup
    84. Thierry Busset’s Tiramisu – CinCin
    85. Natural Pastures Mozzarella di Bufala
    86. Milsean Dark Chocolate
    87. Tofu Doughnuts – Congee Noodle House
    88. Oysters with Horseradish Snow – Gastropod
    89. Biltong – African Breeze
    90. Hazlenuts – Canadian Hazlenuts
    91. Ukranian Church Perogies
    92. Eleni Olive Oil
    93. Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Brut
    94. Pupusas – Rinconcito Salvadoreno
    95. Belacan
    96. Cocoa Nymph’s Ila Chocolates
    97. Blue Fig Martini – Chambar
    98. Naam Miso Gravy
    99. Quadra Island Honey Mussels
    100. Gelato – Brazza
    101. Matsutake (Pine) Mushrooms

    Obviously there’s nothing on here I wouldn’t eat or try.

    Things I can’t believe didn’t make it on the list, especially since it included a dish from a restaurant that no longer exists (Lumiere), and some less than stellar items (people need to give the Italian Kitchen Kobe Meatballs a rest. They’re novel, but not that good):

    -Oyama’s organic Berkshire Pork Sausages
    -Polderside Farms Organic Chicken
    -Tojo’s Sesame Marinated Tuna
    -Memphis Blues pulled pork sandwich
    -Latte from Cafe Artigiano
    -Little Qualicum Cheeseworks San Pareil

    And that’s just off the top of my head.

    For the locals: how many of these have you tried? What would you add to the list?

    For the not-so-locals: do you have any regional delicacies that people should definitely try when they come to your area?

    Out of the Closet

    I know, it was ages ago when I promised a post about our closet organizer install. And I’m realizing that a) I hate the pictures, and b) there isn’t really much of anything to say about it.

    I can say that if you’re living in a small space, maximixing what you can put in your closets is kindof a no-brainer move. I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner. Of course, I’m now itching to find a whole bunch of pretty containers to put things in that make the closets really looks gorgeous and organized (instead of the hodge-podge of cardboard we’ve currently got). In the meantime, there are some pictures up on flickr showing a bit of the before and after.

    The real big news though, is we finally bought the first piece of major furniture for the new place: the couch!

    It’s the key piece we needed in our plan to really start changing our layout around, and it arrived Monday.

    In the Old layout, we had a small couch in the living room, with the TV and a side-chair. We didn’t really have a coffee table, since our old one was gigantic and didn’t fit the space, so we were using a collection of trays and stools to fill in. We also had the piano in the 2nd bedroom and some bookshelves in the sun room.


    With the new couch & big ottoman, we’ve now (follow along carefully here) moved the bookshelves out of the sun room (with a ruthless pruning of our book collection), relocated one into the office and the other into the dining room (getting rid of our existing sideboard). The piano moved out of the office into the sun room (to become our music room/library), and the small couch and TV moved into the office to make it a TV room as well.

    new couch

    The biggest adjustment for me so far is the fact that the TV is no longer in the main room of the house. Let me say that again: the TV is no longer in the main room of the house – I have to go into a separate room, on purpose, to watch television. Y’all remember how much I love my TiVo, right?

    This completely changes how I interact with my home. I don’t watch as much TV – which is the goal – but it’s still very strange. So far I listen to podcasts while I’m making dinner or puttering around (instead of having the TV on), and we’ve been chilling out in the evenings, reading books or *gasp* just talking instead of zoning out in front of the tube.

    That said, while I’m enjoying the change in scenery and activity, I could certainly use some podcast recommendations. I really like This American Life, and enjoy the combination of banter, humour, geekery and useful tips on Lipgloss and Laptops – so anything along either of those lines would be great. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some couch-sittin’ to do.

    good mail day


    Originally uploaded by peechie.

    Today was a banner day in terms of postal deliveries in my world.

    My shoes arrived (and as you can see, I went with the Louboutins), and I’m typing this on my new xo laptop.

    Shoes and gadgets both on the same day. I’m not sure which I’m more excited about!

    Happy Halloween

    Are you serious?

    Originally uploaded by peechie.

    I’m sortof in the eye of the storm here – just back from NY a couple days ago, and off again (to Vegas this time) on Saturday.

    I’m too busy repaying my sleep debt in preparation for another gongshow week to bother with a costume or anything, and I’ll be in a meeting with my mortgage broker tonight around the time all the kiddies will be roaming around trick-or-treating. Such an exciting life, I know.

    But I couldn’t let the day pass entirely unnoticed, so I figured I’d reminisce with a photo of Sasha in her Snow White costume from last year.

    Pets in costumes. That’s all the treat I need.

    NYC in a Nutshell

    Overall my first visit to the Big Apple was pretty fun. It’s the first place I’ve traveled where I’ve thought I could definitely live there for an extended period (5+ years) and be quite content. Most other places I get the feeling I’d be over them and longing for home within 6 months or so.

    Anyhow, for those curious about what I got up to while I was there, here’s the rundown:

    Touristy Things

    Top of the Empire State Building – not unlike a ride at Disneyland, they hide the lineups. It took an excruciatingly long time to finally get to the top, and getting down was just as painful. But the views while up there were lovely!

    Theatre on Broadway – We got half-price tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square and went to see RENT. I laughed, I cried, I still don’t get rent-heads.

    Times Square – This is where we stayed. Personally, I hate it. It’s just excess for its own sake, without any thought or theme, and full of annoying tourists.

    Union Square – Shopping! I managed to bring home a few trinkets, and think I could quite happily live near DSW and Filene’s basement. Also, it’s right on the edge of Greenwich Village, an area of town I felt really comfortable in (mostly because the inhabitants and atmosphere reminds me of home).

    World Trade Centre site – Underwhelming. It’s a big construction site. Mostly like what we see in Vancouver on an hourly basis, as we pass yet another condo going up. Also, like Times Square, swarming with annoying tourists. It just felt wrong to me that there are groups of people in their white sneakers and matching T-Shirts, smiling for the camera in front of the mesh construction fence. There was just no reverence for the significance of what happened there. I think I’d like to return after the building and memorial pond are done to see if the atomosphere changes. Sadly, I suspect it won’t.

    The Food

    Definitely the best part of my visit, and more for my record than yours (so I can find these places again when I go back):

    Cafe Spice Indian Bistro. Awesome noodle dishes in a funky atmosphere.

    Tuscan Steakhouse on Restaurant Row – conveniently just a few blocks from our hotel.

    Bobby Van’s Steakhouse. Where the “petite fillet” was a whopping 16oz, and the South African Lobster Tail was bigger than my hand. My dining companion’s T-bone was the size of a smartcar. We were both bested by our dinners, and ended up in protein comas after that one.

    Scarlotti Italian Bistro on 47th. Couldn’t find a link, but being close to our hotel, it was a good standby for tasty, easy pasta.

    Tia Pol – we had an assortment of Tapas and a suckling pig. Oh. My. God. Best meal of the trip.

    Blue Water Grill – located in Union Square, this place is supposed to be one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. Frankly, I was disappointed. My Swordfish was dry, the Broccoli Rabe was completely oversalted, and trust me when I say that if you come from a place with reputedly the best sushi in the world – just don’t bother ordering it anywhere else. But a lot of my dinner companions were thrilled, so it might’ve just been what I ordered.

    Blue Fin Restaurant – this was the restaurant in our hotel. I didn’t have breakfast there, but those of us who did said it was exceedingly expensive for what they got. I had dessert and drinks. While my smores cake was forgettable, it was pretty cool sampling Madeira from 1966, 1907 and 1875 (the 1907 was the clear favourite).

    The Digs

    Just a quick note about where we stayed: the W Hotel Times Square. It was uber trendy and cool, and also frustratingly useless. Listed as one of the conference hotels (which is why we stayed) it was like living in a nightclub for a week, where the setting is ultra cool and getting anything done is the height of frustration.

    The in-room internet didn’t work (despite paying for 6 days worth on the first day), the bathroom doesn’t have a fan, the bathroom walls are frosted glass (so when sharing 2 to a room, if someone has to get up in the middle of the night to pee, you can’t turn on the light or the whole corner of the room lights up like a lamp).

    The business centre is more for show than actual use (they had a trendy jar of pencils, sharpened just so, but no pens! also, a funky stapler but no packing tape) and despite advertising it as a 24h full-service business centre, managed to lock the elevators to the 5th floor at about 9:00pm, trapping my colleague and I down there until we used our cell phones (nobody answered the house phone on the floor) to call up and beg them to unlock it.

    Also, the entirety of the staff are trendy gay men (which, I don’t care, just do your job already), who are far more concerned with how they look to eachother and the club crowd coming and going than actually showing up at the front desk, answering the phone, or opening a door when I’m laden with bags (does a *doorman* even have another duty?).

    But, their claim to super comfy beds and luxurious sheets was bang on. Damn. I want a set for myself!

    I missed…

    Running in central park. Between work and the rain, it just wasn’t happening.

    Exploring more around SoHo. I tried, but I got a little lost at my attempts to navigate the subway, plus I was already exhausted from the week and laden with packages from earlier shopping.

    All told though – I’m looking forward to getting back to the city to explore some more, and am seriously entertaining notions of living there some day. As long as I’m not living at the W.