{FOOD} The Art House Supper Club

I don’t think I’m the only one who wishes I could host intimate dinner parties with friends in my home, but the daunting task of creating a mouthwatering menu and a complimentary chic-yet-laid-back ambiance, keeps me from sending out the invites.

I had heard about underground supper clubs, and had been intrigued by the idea of dining in a secret location with unfamiliar faces and undiscovered dinner dishes, but I didn’t know that I had access to this unique dining experience in my own city.

When I received an invite to try out the new Art House Supper Club, I was excited. The idea of attending an intimate dinner party without the prep or cleanup sounded like the perfect way to spend an evening catching up with friends (and connecting with new ones).

The secret dinner location is set in a serene multi-level backyard garden, tucked under a canopy of lush trees and filled with flowers. The house itself is cozy and quaint, its walls filled with colourful paintings by the talented owner/artist. The hosts, a lovely family with a shared passion for food and the arts, are warm, welcoming, and attentive.

Yard

Art House Supper Club Gardens

Dining Room

Art House Supper Club Indoor Dining Room

The unique dining experience is a perfect fit for social foodies. As you mingle and sip, the lovely Chef Rose cooks up a decadent 4-course menu filled with dishes that perfectly balance sophistication, skill and culinary passion. Each menu has a different theme – ours was French cuisine, which I was excited to try.

1st Course: French Onion Soup

Our meal began with a healthy serving of French Onion soup – steaming hot, cheesy, and perfectly baked. It was the best I had tried and I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store for us.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

2nd Course: Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

The 2nd course and main entree was the most delicious French dish – a surprise to the palate. I hadn’t heard of this dish before, and was pleasantly surprised as I bit into the cool, light, flavourful dish. I could taste the capers which perfectly complemented the freshly smoked salmon and fluffy pomme de terre base. Magnifique!

Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

3rd Course: Floating Islands

The 3rd course was the most delicious sweet treat – Floating Islands. Fluffy clouds of meringue propped on top of a rich and creamy pool of caramel, and sprinkled with finely diced almonds. I moaned with delight as I savoured every bite.

Floating Islands

Floating Islands

4th Course: Cheese Board

The 4th and final course was a carefully-curated cheese board. The hearty selection of cheeses perfectly complemented the French menu, including 3 cheese options of various textures and tastes. I couldn’t stop sampling each variety and continued to nibble until the plate was empty!

Cheese plate

Cheese Board

Each dinner includes sparkling water, coffee & tea, but due to licensing restrictions, guests are invited to bring their own alcoholic beverages. Not sure which wine to pair with the menu? Their sommelier includes a list of suggested pairings with each menu. Each seating includes 10 spots. Bring a friend, book a group, or go solo and meet some new friends with a shared love for fine dining.

For around only $50 per person, this 4-course dining experience is a steal. Interested in trying out this unique “underground” dining experience? Book your spot here.

A Week By The Lake – Unplugged

For the last week, I was (almost) completely disconnected from the digital world, and it was exactly what I needed.

Lake

Ruby Lake, BC

Our family rented a house on the beautiful, serene, hidden treasure that is Ruby Lake, located in the heart of BC’s Sunshine Coast. Joined by another family, we settled into our lakeside retreat and enjoyed 7 days of outdoor adventure – completely unplugged from technology.

Our days were filled with family fun on the water – boating, paddle boarding, swimming, and tubing, and our nights were spent eating on the sun-drenched deck, and stargazing under the moonlit skies.

At first I was nervous about the idea of a full week without Wifi. Due to the nature of my work, I am constantly plugged in – writing, checking in on social media, and responding to client emails. The thought of being completely disconnected from the digital world was daunting, and I was embarrassed by my distress.

But a week spent gazing at the breathtaking views of the lake, enjoying moments with family and friends and being physically active outdoors, left me feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to return to reality.

I’m going to make more of an effort to unplug. While I love technology and the opportunities that have come to me through the online world, nothing compares to real-life, offline adventures.

Lake

Canuck Place Adventure Race {Giveaway}

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is a unique outdoor fundraising event that allows families of all ages to train and participate as a team. For many participants, this is a great way to fundraise for an important cause while honouring a loved one who has recently lost their life to a life-threatening and incurable illness.

Meet The Ross Family.

Last year, the Ross family raised over $3,000 through their participation in the race. Through competing as a family, the Ross’ were able to honour their late daughter, Gabrielle, who lost her life at the age of 3, to a terminal genetic disorder called I-Cell. Canuck Place offered care and support services for the family, and provided them with a comfortable space where they could enjoy their last days as a family with their beautiful daughter.

The Ross Family

Read more about The Ross Family and their experience at Canuck Place HERE.

Since 1995, Canuck Place has offered 24/7 world-class health services for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, in a home-like setting. Canuck Place has since become a global leader in pediatric palliative care, and has helped over 400 children and their families throughout BC.

How Can You Help?

On September 13, 2015, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice will be hosting their annual outdoor adventure race at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, BC. This fun, family-friendly day filled with outdoor adventure, will raise funds to provide children and their families with the respite care they need. Support Canuck Place by participating in the multi-sporting event which includes kayaking, mountain biking and trail running in a beautiful setting, and enjoy a community BBQ lunch. Unable to participate? Bring your family and friends and cheer on the race participants!

Canuck Place Adventure Race

WIN A Canuck Place Adventure Race Prize Package!

Enter for a chance to win a prize package which includes 1 entry in the Canuck Place Adventure Race, and an 8 X 10 autographed photo of Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks (total prize package valued at $125).

ENTER HERE:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Fundraising Note:

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is a fundraising event. Funds raised support Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in providing critical clinical care and programs for BC’s children with life-threatening illnesses and their families who love them. Therefore, Canuck Place asks all participants to do their best in reaching the fundraising goals, and Canuck Place supports all participants in doing so through tips and tricks, and helpful newsletters (examples here: http://bit.ly/1rL418L). However, if the goal is not met, no penalty applies.

Summer Bucket List: 20 Things To Do With Kids

This Summer I will be home alone with all three of my kids. No Summer camps, no work, just Mama Bee plus three little honeys. And while I feel fortunate to have the Summer months off with my little ones this year, I’ve been dreading the daunting task of filling the approximately 40 weekdays with activities for the kids and I to enjoy. Activities that are affordable, engaging, and fun for all ages. With this task in mind, I’ve created a bucket list of 20 things for us to do.

Bucket List

1) Discover New Hobbies. My daughter has recently expressed an interest in skateboarding, and my son has just finished a Turf & Tots intro to soccer program. I’m hoping that with a little practice over the Summer, these new interests will evolve into lifelong hobbies.

2) Try Geocaching. I’ve been hearing about geocaching for a few years now but have yet to try it out. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt involving a GPS-based App and hidden treasures which can be found in various locations all over the world. It sounds like a great way to engage the whole family in a fun outdoor adventure!

3) Test The Taste Buds. I’d like to try to cook one new recipe per week over the Summer months. I have a slow cooker that has never been used, and a pile of delicious dessert recipes that have been waiting to challenge my beginner-level baking skills.

4) Go On A Day Trip. While a vacation may not be within our family budget this Summer, I’d love to take the kids on a day trip to a fun local destination such as Harrison Hot Springs, Whistler or Cultus Lake.

5) Enjoy Fish & Chips in Steveston. My best friend lives in the quaint fishing village so you’d think I frequent the area often, however due to the distance from our home, my kids and I rarely make the trek. This Summer it’s a must do on our list.

6) Explore The Newly-Expanded Vancouver Aquarium. The Aquarium has been a construction zone for ages and is finally ready to share their biggest expansion ever. I can’t wait to check out their big reveal and see all the new additions and changes they’ve made.

7) Complete the Summer Reading Program. Thanks to the efforts of the BC Library Association, a great Summer reading program is in place, focused on encouraging young readers to keep reading during the Summer months. My daughter loved completing the program last Summer and can’t wait to do it again.

8) Enjoy Movies For Mommies. When I had my first baby, I was introduced to Movies for Mommies, a family-friendly movie theatre viewing experience created for the comfort and enjoyment of parents with little ones in tow. It has been years since my last visit, and this would be a great rainy-day activity for us to enjoy.

9) Visit The Lions, Tigers and Bears. It has been over 3 years since our last visit to the Greater Vancouver Zoo so I think we’re due to make the trek out there.

10) Master Swimming. Swimming has been a bit of a challenge in our family. My oldest has taken lessons since her baby years, but doesn’t seem to enjoy the life skill, and therefore has yet to make it past the Tiny Tots swimming levels. I’m hoping a few visits to Vancouver’s array of outdoor pools and nearby lakes will spark her interest.

11) Enjoy A Picnic Dinner In Deep Cove. This is definitely something we’d like to do more often this year. Only 5 minutes from our home, Deep Cove is the perfect setting for an early evening family picnic by the ocean.

12) Stroll Through Stanley Park. Recently ranked as the #1 park in the world, Stanley Park offers the perfect picturesque setting for a day of family fun outdoors.

13) Splash Around At The Granville Island Waterpark. A day in Granville Island, my favourite Vancouver destination, is a must-do on my annual Summer bucket list. Not only does Granville Island offer delicious food, beautiful scenery and fun shopping, but their waterpark is a fantastic way for the kids to cool off on a warm Summer’s day.

 14) Tour Vancouver By Boat. One of our family’s favourite things to do in the Summer is to ride around the shores of our beautiful city on our little boat. A full day of picnicking, dipping in the ocean, and zooming around on the water is the perfect way to enjoy a Summer day outdoors.

15) Go Fly A Kite. On a windy Summer’s day, we love to take our little kite to one of our local beaches for a little kite-flying fun. Our favourite spots on the North Shore to fly a kite are on the West Vancouver beaches of Ambleside and Dundarave.

16) Take A Hike. I plan on taking the kids for lots of little hiking jaunts around our neck of the woods – the stroller-friendly walking trails of the North Shore.

17) Visit With Family. With a new baby in our family, I’m hoping to visit our family in Gibsons, Victoria and Prince George this Summer.

18) Take In A Parade. We will definitely attend the annual Canada Day parade in our neighbourhood, and hope to make it out to the Sea Cavalcade for more parade fun in Gibsons this Summer as well!

19) Go Tubing. With the river steps from our front door, tubing is a Summer must!

20) Visit An Ecology Centre. Our local Ecology Centre is a great place to spend a few hours indoors with the kids on a rainy day. Offering educational, interactive displays, and an array of toys for hands-on fun, the Ecology Centre is a great place to learn and play!

Do you have any fun activities for kids to add to my Summer bucket list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break: Exploring Our Favourite BC Destinations

Our original plan was to spend our 2 week Spring Break vacation checking off items on our infinitely long to-do list. Fix this, clean that, buy this, build that. Sounds exciting, right? But when the first day of vacation arrived, we thought we’d throw that plan out the window and enjoy what might be our last time off as a family before the arrival of baby #3. A few phone calls later and we were off on an adventure around our beautiful province.

Our first stop was Gibsons, BC. Nestled along the shoreline of BC’s Sunshine Coast, Gibsons is a quaint and serene little town built around a picturesque harbour. Gibsons also happens to be the hometown of my husband, who was born and raised in the wharf-side community. A quick 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, Gibsons is a family-favourite local getaway.

 Gibsons BC

Our second stop was Victoria, BC, the capital of our beautiful province. Rich in history and offering a plethora of natural settings, the Vancouver Island gem is a favourite for many BC residents. For us, it’s also a favourite destination because we can visit with family members who call Victoria home.

 Victoria BC

Our third and final stop was Harrison Hot Springs, BC. The lakeside village has been a family-favourite Summer destination for years, but this was our first time visiting the resort during the Spring months. Surrounded by mountains and a glacier-fed lake, and featuring five pools warmed by the bubbling natural hot springs, the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa is the perfect getaway for families.

Harrison Hot Springs BC

We love local travel, and we love quality time outdoors as a family. The three destinations we’ve visited over the last two weeks have provided the perfect backdrop for a memorable family vacation – enjoying the natural beauty of our surroundings, and time with the ones we love most. Next year, we hope to do it again, with our new addition to the family in tow.

Spring Break

Shop Vancouver – Posh Shopping Tours

Last week I had the privilege of perusing some of Vancouver’s local shops and boutiques, thanks to the guidance of Posh Shopping Tours. I was born and raised in the heart of Vancouver, so I was privately skeptical, thinking I had already discovered all of the local shops that my city had to offer. Much to my surprise, each of our tour stops unveiled a new, creative and inspiring designer, paired with a story and style unique only to our coastal metropolis.

The tour began with refreshing mimosas, as our group of bloggers browsed the racks of our first store, and gathered for an overview of our day’s events.

(Left to Right): Amber of Strocel.com, Raj of Pink Chai Style, Eschelle of Mumfection, Me, and Michelle of Elastipantcity

Nestled in a residential area in a quaint Vancouver eastside neighbourhood, the first shop did not disappoint. With a wide range of eclectic items – from flowy Summer frocks, to locally-made jewelry and second-hand shoes, each item was unique to the store in which they were housed. The store owner, also a local clothing designer, was warm and welcoming, happy to answer our questions about each design. This was just a small introduction to the unhidden gems that we would discover throughout the tour.

Beautiful artwork displayed on the side of one of our shopping tour destinations

Once we were finished shopping at our first stop, we loaded into an air-conditioned car, and were greeted with adorable swag bags, filled with locally-made hand-picked items. We settled in, and went on our way.

Brandy, the owner of Posh Shopping Tours made sure we were all comfortable as she took us on a luxury shopping scavenger hunt around our city, each stop as exciting as the last, each shop with its own local flare and welcoming store owner/designer. While our tour included shops that offered a range of themes and price points (offering items from yoga jeans to evening gowns), Posh Shopping Tours offers its guests a range of tour styles, catered to each shopper’s interests and budget.

Here’s just a small glimpse at the highlights of our shopping tour:

One of my favourite stops was a unique local boutique that offered new, thrift and vintage clothing – with a philanthropic twist – all proceeds from sales were given to support the Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS). A great selection of clothes with all sales used to fund a great cause? How could I not make a purchase?

Love my new jacket!

I had such a wonderful time learning about the unique local designers and hidden boutiques that can be found around our city, and look forward to returning to many of our tour’s shopping destinations in the future.

Whether you’re an out-of-town visitor, or a local Vancouverite, Posh Shopping Tours gives a whole new meaning to “retail therapy”. To learn more, please visit their website: Posh Shopping Tours.