I’m Two!

20090531 zacharie's 2

What a day.

From french toast to breakfast, to a run around the park, to a ride on a motorcycle, to a pool party where the girls got naked and Zacharie got in with his clothes on, to birthday cake, presents and a SANDBOX!

Who wouldn’t want to be two?

They always say “it goes by so fast,” but really, it does.

Life certainly changes when the little ones enter your life. A gorgeous sunny weekend means time at the park and a backyard bbq that is wrapped up by bath time.

And I’d never change it. Ever.

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Vancouver Traditions: La Casa Gelato

20090526 casa gelato

La Casa Gelato
1033 Venables St, Vancouver [map]
Open 7 days a week, 11am – 11pm

There are many great gelaterias in Vancouver. From Mondo Gelato to Mario’s to Brazza to Dolce Amore. You don’t need to go far to find some creamy fruity goodness in a freezer.

But if you want to have a fun night out, you need to pack up and head to the edge of downtown and visit the Disneyland of gelaterias, La Casa Gelato.

With 218 flavours, you know it’s going to take a while to decide.

La Casa Gelato is legendary in Vancouver because of not only the selection, but the choices you get to select from. Garlic, Curry, Balsamic Vinegar, Corn .. I’ve tried them all.

Well, okay, not all of them. While La Casa Gelato has 218 flavours in the freezers at any one time, there are actually 508 recipes sitting in Vince’s vault ready to be handmade.

20090526 ice creamSo Chocolate Chili, Durian, Mango, Strawberry Champagne, Pear and Gorgonzola, Roasted Sesame, Lychee, Wasabi, or Purple Yam could pop up at any time.

Samples are free and generous, and if you’re dying under financial pressure, I’m sure a 10 minute stroll around the room “trying to decide” would satisfy your sweet tooth.

For me and Zacharie, a little Peanut Butter and Strawberry, the Gelato version of PB&J, was all good.

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The Grouse Grind Is Open For The Season

They unlocked the gates on Friday for another official season of hiking The Grouse Grind to the top of Grouse Mountain. Sure, for the hardcore the path is never officially closed, but for those who like to stay within the boundaries, this weekend was the first chance you had to go to the top.

And lots of people were itching to get back on the trail.

Often referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” the Grouse Grind has become part of the fabric of Vancouver. More than 100-thousand hikers a year take on the challenge of the rugged terrain and steep climb, up an approximate 56 per cent slope (30°), which starts at the Valley Station of Grouse Mountain and finishes at the Peak’s plateau.

Length: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)
Elevation Gain: 853 metres (2,800 feet)
– Base: 274 metres above sea level (900 feet)
– Summit: 1,127 metres (3,700 feet)
– Total Stairs: 2,830
Statistics: Annually, over 100,000 people hike the Grind™.
Average Time: On average it takes up to an hour and a half to complete the hike.
For novice hikers, up to two hours is recommended.
Participants: Hikers range in age from 7 to 90, with an equal male/female split.
[Grouse Mountain]

Here’s a video I took up today’s route to give you an idea of the conditions. (keep a special eye out for the tourists who insist on hiking up in 20 degree weather wearing jeans)

The first 3/4 is dry, the last bit is a little slippery with rushing water over parts of the course, while the top could be a little chilly with snow packs still clinging to the sides of the mountain.

Today’s time was a respectable 51:30. I like to think of the time I do the Grind as equivalent to what my 10k time would be. The ride up was so smooth that in the gondola on the way down I actually thought to myself “I go do that again…”

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Budget Wedding Guide In Canadian Living Magazine

Back in the fall I was interviewed by Deena Waisberg for a Canadian Living article on how to plan a budget wedding.

Before I get to the tips, a little introduction to how I came to be interviewed by Deena. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out, it’s a daily email newsletter where reporters and producers can put their source needs out. Many bloggers and authors looking for extra pub subscribe to the list, looking for an opportunity. I subscribe, but don’t always read it.

I had been cranking out my Vancouver Wedding on a Budget series of entries when Deena’s request came across HARO looking for people to be interviewed. Kate Trgovac of My Name Is Kate, saw the request and passed it along. I did the interview and 8 months later the article is out.

Here are the budget wedding tips that Deena quoted me on and the links to the full articles I’ve written on the topic:

20090515 canadian living“Buzz Bishop of Vancouver, who is getting married this July, expects to come in under his $7,000 budget by keeping the guest list under 50, shopping around for the best deals and choosing less expensive options, such as getting married in a park instead of a church.”
[wedding venue]

“Bishop created his wedding invitations on his computer and printed them off on paper for $1 each.” [wedding invitations]

Our wedding will be at The Teahouse at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park. Congratulations to the gang from the Sequoia Group who unveiled the name change of the restaurant last night.

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Planning A Galiano Island Getaway

20090509 galiano

Getting out of the big city is a easy as a 45 minute ferry ride to Galiano Island. Never mind heading all the way to Victoria, or escaping to the ever crowding Saltspring Island, just get off on the first stop on the BC Ferries milk run through the Southern Gulf Islands and relax with a weekend away at Galiano Island.

20000508 ferry pamphletsWHEN TO GO
Whenever you decide to go to Galiano Island, there’s one thing that’s mandatory: a reservation on BC Ferries. Yes, you’ll pay a premium, but with infrequent service between the mainland and the Gulf Islands, the piece of mind a reservation brings will remove all the stress from your travel plans.

While you’re on the ferry, pick up a map of Galiano Island from the pamphlet rack. It’s very detailed showing locations of all accomodations and amenities, various points of access to the shoreline as well as trails and parks.

Self catering is the best way to eat on Galiano Island and the best way to get that done is to bring the food you want to eat with you, there is limited grocery facilities on the island and only one place to get booze. All the amenities for the island are located around the south end near Sturdies Bay, if you’re staying at the north end of the island you’re looking at up to a 30 minute ride to get munchies, drinks or ketchup.

Max and Moritz’s Spicy Island Food House is a legendary pit stop while you’re waiting for the ferry. The conspicuous red trailer is only open in the hours surrounding ferry departures and it’s the only amenity on the dock. Featuring a curious mix of Indonesian stir fries and German sausages, this husband and wife operation is true to the charm of the island.

If you need to break out the fancy while on the island, a visit to La Berengerie is a must. Huguette Benger came to Galiano in the 80s from Avignon, France and brought the best of Provence with her, right down to the tablecloths and prix-fixe menu.

There are many bed and breakfast and self-catering cabin resorts dotting Galiano Island. We landed at Bodega Ridge and were charmed by the warm hospitality of Jesse Keefer’s operation. There are 7 cabins dotting the ridge, each sleeping 6, equipped with a full kitchen, a barbecue, a deck and all the comforts to release the stress of the city.

Camping is avaiable on the island and Montague Harbour is a picturesque place to pitch a tent. Located near the ferry terminal, this Provincial Park offers 40 campsites (some reservable, others first come, first served)

Of course, after you’ve visited a few times, you just might want to stay a while. For Sale signs dot the entire island and Windermere Realty has a monopoly on the listings. If you’d like a starting point on the prices, a land with a building start around $1M, while empty, unserviced waterfront lots are going listed in the $600s.

10090510 montagueWHAT TO DO
Exploring is the popular get out and do it pasttime on Galiano Island. You can explore by boat, kayak, bike, car, hike, or sink below the surface and check out some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Bodega Ridge is a popular 5 km one way hike that runs the spine of the island giving you views of both Georgia Strait and Trincomali Channel.

Mount Galiano is the highest peak on the island and its summit offers spectacular views of the ferries traversing Active Pass.

Our favorite place to visit was Montague Harbour where Z enjoyed digging in the tidepools, collecting the shells and counting the eagles soaring in the sky.

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Galiano Island Getaway: A Weekend at Bodega Ridge

20090509 bodega ridge

I met Jesse Keefer through the power of Twitter. We had some common people we followed and a passion for competitive cycling. Jesse used to ride pro on the North American circuit and can’t get the gear grease out of his system as he still gets up early on Saturday mornings to try and find web coverage of the Giro D’Italia.

Now retired from cycling, Jesse runs Bodega Ridge a collection of 7 cabins on the northern end of Galiano Island with everything you need to feel comfortable, while retaining all the charm of a weekend away from it all.

When I was trying to think of something special to do for Jennifer for Mother’s Day, a weekend escape to Galiano Island and Bodega Ridge shot to the top of the list.

When we arrived, a bottle of wine and some local chocolates were waiting inside. When I forgot to bring maple syrup for our morning pancakes, I asked Jesse for a glug over twitter and a new bottle was waiting at the lodge. When his satellite hookup didn’t arrive for the big Canucks game, he gave me his wimax router so I could grab a fast and speedy stream from the CBC.

Wifi was readily available for the whole weekend throughout the cabins. So even if you like to stay wireless when you’re on vacation, you know, living John Chow’s Dot Com Lifestyle, you can get online and get things done.

Our cabin had 3 bedrooms, each with a cozy queen size bed, a roomy living room with a dvd player and flat screen tv, a bbq, a fully equipped kitchen and a romantic wood fired stove in the center. Every cabin has a deck to take in the views of Bodega Ridge and Trincomali Channel and since our cabin was at the top of the hill, the view was spectacular each night.

20090510 montague

When it came to making plans to entertain Z during the day, take a hike or go for a run, Jesse was more than willing to offer itineraries and suggestions. Knowing I was wired with my iPhone, Jesse would even text, tweet and email tips throughout the day to make sure we were taking full advantage of our time away.

Bodega Ridge is perfect for a quiet couple’s weekend, a group getaway (since up to 6 could share 1 cabin) , or a complete corporate retreat, family reunion or wedding (there’s a large banquet room in the lodge).

We’re into high season now, rates are $200 a night at Bodega Ridge.

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