Thursday, September 30, 2010

wedding ideas :: photo centerpiece


found via indie fixx from Martha Stewart.com

Great idea for incorporating your family photos into your wedding decor. Black and white photos are printed onto ecru coloured vellum paper set around voltive candles to highlight the images. You can check out a full tutorial over on the Martha Stewart website found here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

inside vancouver feature


photo credit: Tracey L. Heppner

Hey! We have been featured on Inside Vancouver. As part of the Tourism Vancouver website, the Inside Vancouver blog is an insider's view of Vancouver that provides information, stories and opinions from the local's perspective. You can read the full article here. Thanks to Tracey for the photo and Ehren for the great feature!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

cook :: Peruvian Potato Salad

In the summer, our apartment is like a fiery inferno when it becomes super hot outside. So, during the heat wave last month, there was no way I was going to turn the oven on for anything. Good thing, we had some a good mixture of home grown and farmers market vegetables to whip up some homemade potato salad! Potatoes are in abundance right now at the market or even from your own garden, so this can be enjoyed well through the Fall.

This recipe was passed down to me from my Peruvian Uncle who says that it is a Peruvian recipe. The shade of the salad will differ depending on the type of beet you use. Red beets = red salad (and red fingers!).

New Potatoes (choose the small ones)
Beets
Mayonaise
Carrots
Peas (I didn't have any that day)

Boil potatoes and beets. Chop potatoes, beets and carrots into bite sized pieces. Mix in enough mayonaise to make it creamy. Add peas.

It's that simple! Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

london :: relocation pt 3

photo credit: Living, Etc. UK

Welcome to our final installment of our interview with Colleen Wagner from London Relocation in preparation for our move overseas next February. Hopefully, these Q&A sessions have given you a clear idea of what the process is in setting up shop overseas. Missed the first two interviews? You can find them here and here.

********************

R: When applying for a flat what does the management company or owner look for? Do we need to see our Visa, employment records, submit a credit check or show proof of savings?

C: Letters of reference from one’s employer and previous landlord, passport (well, hopefully you’d have this with you!), and bank account details (including a statement showing you’re good for the funds) is necessary.

Once your offer has been accepted and the lease signed by both you and the landlord, you will be expected to pay your deposit and first month’s rent upfront. The deposit is equal to 6 weeks’ rent, so—barring students—the typical upfront amount totals 2.5 months’ rent, plus any added admin fees the agency may charge (again, London Relocation clients do not pay these fees). We have a blog post offering guidance on facilitating international bank transfers along with some pros and cons of different payment methods.

R: When should an Expat make initial contact with a relocation agent?
C: It can never be too early, really, for getting initial questions sorted out as you try to brainstorm the above key housing questions. It is often easiest to schedule the appointment, though, within a couple months of the actual viewing date when chances are better that your arrival dates are confirmed and you know there will be no hang-ups with the visa. While we can accommodate last-minute enquiries if we have availability, it’s best that we have at least a week’s advance notice to go over the terms of service with you and start researching.

Property searches themselves can be scheduled for as early as 6-weeks prior to the desired move-in date, as by this time existing tenants should have given notice as to whether they’re staying or leaving a flat; thus, we have a clearer idea of what properties will be available. If you can look in advance like this, that’s always great as it helps you beat the competition; however, many of our clients view properties within the same week as moving in—some have moved in as soon as the next day.

R: If someone decided to take up the home search alone what should they look out for? Are their common scams or hidden fees that catch people by surprise?
C: I briefly mentioned earlier the infamous Craigslist scams. These may occur on other classifieds sites as well and basically entail a “landlord” or “agency/property manager” offering a flat for an unrealistically low price (don’t count on finding much for under 200 GBP per week) and then asking you to transfer funds for the deposit/rent without having even seen the place in person. NEVER DO THIS! Always, always view the property in person or at least have someone you trust do so if you can’t be there—money should never exchange hands otherwise. I also mentioned before the absolute sketchiness of a situation where you’re required to pay upfront in cash. No legitimate agency/landlord would ask this.

It is typical for lettings agencies to charge an administration fee for handling the paperwork, and they may charge another fee for performing the reference check. The amount of these fees are not regulated within the industry, so there is no rhyme or reason as to what an individual agency might charge—it could be one to a few hundred pounds in all.

Another aspect of doing it on your own (which I did, oblivious to the relocation agent option…and it took me 2 weeks to see 23 properties) is that it takes a lot of legwork to many different agencies to see an exhaustive representation of what’s out there in your budget and desired area. Any one agency will have a few to show you any given day. They do not use MLS (multiple listing systems), however, so the particular office that you step into only has listings in that immediate area. So you will want to educate yourself on the different neighborhoods and narrow down your preferences straightaway.


R: How does one go about figuring out their monthly rent due to the fact that everything is quoted pw?
C: As a bit of trivia, London rent prices are quoted on a weekly basis because residents used to also be paid weekly; thus, the outflow was scheduled to coincide with the inflow. Why they continue quoting it that way now? No idea ☺ People are paid monthly, and you’ll pay your rent monthly as well (the monthly amount will be specified on your lease).

In any case, to achieve a monthly rent figure, multiply the weekly figure by 4.33.

Why not just by 4? Because not every month is exactly 4 weeks long. So, multiplying a weekly figure by the 52 weeks of the year and dividing by the 12 months is the equivalent of just multiplying by 4.33 (i.e., 52 divided by 12).


R: Are there pet friendly buildings and owners out there? This is very important element to us and one of the reasons we plan to work with a relocation agent.
C: Finding a building that allows pets is indeed an obstacle to flat-finding. If the building doesn’t allow them, it doesn’t matter if the individual flat’s landlord doesn’t mind them. If the building says no, it’s a no. If the building says yes, but the landlord says no, that might rest at a no as well.

However, while many landlords may not be keen on having a dog or cat in their owned property, they may be willing to negotiate. Ways to sweeten the pot for them when negotiating your lease is meeting the asking price rather than trying to haggle it down, if not offering more than the asking price (indeed, some landlords may require an additional fee). In addition, they may be inclined to allow it if you are able to offer them additional months’ rent in advance as a way of bypassing additional costs.

Though having a pet versus not is more of a property-finding challenge, it IS possible, and employing the services of a relocation agent will give you extra backing thanks to their contacts. Beyond flats, London is a very pet-friendly city!


R: What does council tax get you and how much can you expect to pay?
C: Council tax pays for city services like waste disposal, maintenance of sidewalks and streets, social services, etc. It can be paid annually or on a monthly basis and is a cost that the landlord always passes on to their dear tenants to deal with.

How much it costs will vary property-to-property. Each residence falls within a “band,” which is based on the property’s appraised value and in which borough it’s located. In the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for example, annual council tax ranges from several hundred to a couple thousand pounds depending on what band the flat falls into.

********************

Thank you so much to Colleen for taking the time out of her busy day to speak with us. For more information about Colleen or to read her blogs, you can check out London Relocation and London Living. Stay tuned for more UK goodness as we move closer to the big day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday


Etsy Finds Friday is a speckle of random things that have caught my eye on etsy.com. Great ideas and lots of inspiration for your upcoming wedding or to add a little handmade love to your life.

photo credit go to the respective shops listed below

(From left to right)
Top: Lisa's Retro Style, Minx Shop, Sprout Studio

Middle: MXM Jewelry, Cosas Minimas, Lisa's Retro Style

Bottom: Golden Ponies, The Clasp of Isis

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

can my next ...


found via bash, please| photo credit: our labor of love

... wedding couple please do this for their bridal entrance? FUN!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

wedding ideas :: chilling out


image and tutorial via martha stewart weddings

Looking for a new way to keep your drinks icy cold? Encase them in icy, fruit-filled molds!

Place a full bottle into a fully opened cardboard half-gallon milk carton. Insert flowers or thinly sliced fruit (we've used nasturtiums, lemons, and limes) around the bottle, filling one third of the carton. Pour water into the container, just covering the fruit and flowers. Place the carton upright in the freezer. When the liquid is completely frozen, add another layer of fruit and very cold water, and freeze. Repeat, filling and freezing a third of the carton at a time, which prevents all the fruit and flowers from floating to the top until the water reaches the bottle's neck. Remove from the freezer when it's time to serve the vodka: Cut away the milk carton with a utility knife; wrap a dinner napkin around the bottle's base, and serve the vodka with slices of lemon zest tied in knots.

Monday, September 20, 2010

london :: relocation pt 2

photo via Living, Etc. UK / found on from london with love

Here's part two of our three part interview with Colleen Wagner from London Relocation. If you missed part one and are thinking about moving to the UK then you should definitely take a peek!

**************************

R: What are the signs of a reputable relocation agent or estate agent?
C: Well, it certainly helps if they have their own car ☺ They would also never require you to make a deposit and pay your first month’s rent upfront in cash—I’ve heard of this happening, and no reputable agency/respectable landlord would ask such a thing; bank transfers, checks, or credit cards should be accepted. Similarly, being asked to transfer funds to secure a flat without your (or someone delegated on your behalf) having seen the property first in person is the sort of thing Craigslist scams are made of, so beware. Okay, so, yes, there are reputable agencies out there that will allow this per the tenant's request (upon which the tenant must sign an agreement confirming that they did not see the space and based their decision solely on the photos provided on the agency website), but you won't want to try this with an agency that has a sketchy website that may be suspect (see below).

If many of the listings you enquire about through an agency are no longer on the market, yet still being advertised, this could be a red flag as well—they may be boasting more properties than they actually have or at least aren’t on-the-ball enough to respect the accuracy and timeliness of their own listings (cut them some slack, though, if a flat has only just gone off the market in the last day or so, as property does move very quickly here, especially in summer!). It can be discouraging if an agent insists you’ll find nothing in your budget, but you may need to also take this with a grain of salt, as more often than not, flats are more expensive than people anticipate, so the agent may earnestly be trying to help you develop more realistic expectations. That being said, do your research in advance to get a good idea of average rent prices to make sure you aren’t ripped off.

Agencies with various branches (an agency with at least 3 different offices is likely a safe one to try) are obviously quite successful and may observe stricter codes of professionalism to maintain their reputations—e.g., Foxtons, Marsh & Parsons, etc. This is not to say that the smaller boutique agencies offer any less in service—indeed, because larger agencies may take for granted that they’ll have a steady stream of business, this runs the risk of breeding apathy toward individual clients. So give the little guys a chance, too, if their office looks presentable and organized, their listings comprehensive, and their staff personable and professional. My husband and I found our flat, for example, through FiveSevenTen (a single-office boutique agency that only services postal codes SW5, SW7, and SW10), and their approach was kind-hearted and truly looking out for our best interests. I appreciate when agents can be honest about the flats they represent, especially if it’s pointing out their shortcomings—then I don’t feel like I’m being schmoozed and promised perfection when they can only under-deliver.

Agency websites can be a good indication as well. You know a good website from a bad one when you first look at it. Does it look like a respectful amount of thought has gone into its design? Is it user-friendly? Are there any client testimonials? A blog or something that provides value-added information and shows some personality? Is their contact info clear and thorough (address and phone number should be there at the very least—raises a lot of questions if they’re not! A web form is nice, too)?

R: What are your thoughts on "Dreams vs. Reality" when looking for a place?
C: Because managing expectations really is a big part of London Relocation’s job, I was inspired to write a mini-series of blog posts a while back called “What to Expect in a London Flat.” Basically, Dreams vs. Reality will part ways when it comes to size, space, and amenities (e.g., older buildings without elevators, having smaller washer/dryers or perhaps only one or neither, no air-conditioning, etc.). That being said, there are new-construction options in areas like Canary Wharf, which is more commercial, though, than residential. London landlords also furnish their flats as inexpensively as possible, so you’ll see a lot of IKEA ☺ Even newer renovations may reveal a compromise in materials over time—there are a lot of quick-fixes that may not be built to last but at least to survive until the next tenancy. Be prepared to wait on maintenance services as well…there’s not much quick turnaround in London.

That being said, there is a tremendous amount of character to these buildings which offer a different type of aesthetic trade-off. Taking the stairs is good exercise, and narrowing down what you actually move to London in view of the space/storage issue is a valuable lesson in learning what you really need. At some point, one has to view this as an experiential phase of life (taking advantage of the history, culture, and travel by virtue of living here) rather than a material one.

R: Does a relocation agent work for us or the flat owner? Will they be on the look out for unfair contracts or illegal acts by the property owner?
C: Absolutely. The advantage of having a relocation agent watching your back is that YOU are the client; the fees are paid by you and not the landlord or lettings agency.

Lettings agencies, on the other hand, are compensated by the landlords—when you sign on with them, you may pay an admin fee (which London Relocation covers for its clients), but otherwise the money you’re putting down upfront is for your refundable deposit and first month’s rent. The lettings agency’s commission comes from the landlord, and I’ll be honest—I’m shocked how much of a landlord’s market it is here. Tenants have many rights by law, but you’d never realize it because unless they’re proactive in researching/asserting them themselves, you won’t see anyone else going out of their way to make them aware.

Anyone else, that is, except for the relocation agent. In our case, the agent is with you through all of the viewings and the entire lease negotiation and signing, ensuring everything is stipulated in your best interest and raising important points that might otherwise get overlooked.

R: I suspect that many people would consider relocation and estate (lettings) agents to be one in the same. What does a relocation agent offer that an estate agent doesn’t?
C: While there are exceptions, one primary difference between the relocation and lettings agent is that the lettings agent holds property listings whereas the relocation agent does not. The lettings agency is consequently paid their commission by the landlords of the properties they list, whereas the relocation agency is paid a fee by the tenants it represents.

What relocation agents offer beyond the lettings agency is more personalized service in their client’s best interest (as explained above) as they do participate in the viewings and lease negotiation making sure terms are fair to the tenant. They also do all the extra legwork to seek out available properties to shortlist for the client’s viewing. An individual lettings agency may have a handful or less of properties meeting one’s specifications on any given day, but the relocation agency coordinates with all the area lettings agencies to compile all eligible properties across their combined listings, resulting in more extensive coverage and with the added benefit of having the same point of contact with you along the entire way.

What distinguishes London Relocation Ltd. from other relocation agencies as well is that we compile a portfolio of approximately 20 properties for viewing in a single day, so our model very much centers on cutting to the chase for an efficient turnaround (without sacrificing quality for the quickness)—other relocation agents that charge by the day have more incentive to drag the process out. I mentioned earlier that London properties can fly off the shelves, so the relocation agent also has the resources to reschedule as necessary on the fly so that it’s business as usual. And as I also related above, our empathy as expats brings an intangible quality that overall helps put our clients’ minds at ease by fielding all of their questions from their perspective and managing their expectations to optimize their London relocation experience.


R: Are there common mistakes or issues that you encounter with Expats?
C: Definitely! And, to be fair, I was a na├»ve expat, too ☺

To start, we receive a surprising number of enquiries from folks who are not even aware they need a visa to live here. It doesn’t fall within our realm of expertise to sort this out for them, but we’re happy to explain the different visa tiers they can apply for and redirect them to the UK Border Agency for more information and application forms. It’s imperative for expats to already have this in place before officially finding a place to live.

We sometimes encounter issues with people’s work assignments falling through or changing as well. That is usually not the client’s fault, however, as much as the company’s. Situations like these sometimes simply can’t be avoided, but nonetheless, it is helpful if you can provide as accurate a confirmation on your relocation timeframe as possible.

Proper documentation and funds for signing on to a flat is also critical, and sometimes expats do not arrive prepared—I will discuss this in more detail in a later question. Another big stumbling block for students is typically being required to pay 3-6 months’ rent in advance, as they will not be earning a steady income to otherwise earn the landlord’s trust. This may be waived, however, if the student can provide a letter signed by a UK-based guarantor of the funds, along with evidence of their financial ability to cover that amount if need be.

Beyond that, any issues primarily center on unrealistic expectations. We never enjoy being the deliverer of bad news when we respond honestly how much they should expect to pay for a certain flat size or neighborhood, so the best clients are the ones who trust that we know what we’re talking about and approach the discussion/process the way we do for a reason. A London move is full of trade-offs—recreating one’s home environment and/or culture is nearly impossible and unfair to expect. The way to embrace it is just appreciating it for the new adventure that it is.


R: What questions should people moving to London ask themselves about housing? i.e. budget, needs etc.
C: Key questions are:

1. # of bedrooms
2. Budget
3. Neighborhood (bearing In mind desired environment as well as commuting distance to work/school)
4. Need-to-have vs. nice-to-have property specifications (e.g., wooden floors, balcony, etc.)
5. Bringing pets?

When these are known, the rest starts to fall into place.


**************************

Will be posting the final installment next Monday. Stay tuned to what Colleen has to say in her final wrap up.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday


Etsy Finds Friday is a speckle of random things that have caught my eye on etsy.com. Great ideas and lots of inspiration for your upcoming wedding or to add a little handmade love to your life.

photo credit go to the respective shops listed below

(From left to right)
Top: blueberry shoes, MXM Jewelry, Darlingtonia Moccasin Co.

Middle: Whimsy & Spice, Perty.ful.Tings, Heidi Creations

Bottom: Carol Hannah, little pretties, white owl

Thursday, September 16, 2010

shop :: tucker by gaby basora


(Left to Right) Button-Front Dress in Little-Flowers Print, $34.99′ Tie-Front Blouse in Lawn Bird Print, $24.99 / Signature Dress in Diamond Print, $39.99

Tucker by Gaby Basora for Target collection became available at Target stores and target.com last Sunday. Known for her quaint prints in bold colours, Gaby's clothing focuses on wearability with simply cut dresses, trousers and tops. Loving the combinations above and below.


(Left to Right) Ribbed Sweater Dress in Orange, $39.99; Sweater Vest in Floral, $34.99 / Woven Tee in Magenta, $24.99; Shorts in Green Herringbone, $34.99

I'm going to miss my road trips to Target. Oh, how I love you! So, who has an extra seat in their car?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

thanks union photography!


Robert and I had the pleasure of working with Holly and Roger from Union Photography last year on this wedding (not their photos!). Holly and Roger are super fun, super professional, super fab photographers and Holly's laugh, I swear, is contagious! I bump into Holly every now and then at various handmade markets around Vancouver as well as a few times over Twitter, but was super surprised to receive a package in the mail from them.


A package for us!? What could this possibly be? Well, let me tell you what was inside!

A wedding hero survival kit complete with:
  1. A squeeze doll - Squeeze any stress away!
  2. Epsom Salts - to soak your weary toes in!
  3. Chocolate - For those times when you don't get the chance to eat!
  4. Champagne - Celebrate a job well done!
  5. Ear plugs - In case the band plays too loudly!
  6. Tylenol - Enjoy responsibly!


Thanks Roger and Holly! Such an original idea! Love it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

london :: relocation pt 1


photo via pink lemonade / found on from london with love

One of the most daunting, yet exciting, tasks related to moving is finding a new place to live. This is especially so when you consider the size of London, the cost of rent and you have a fuzzy feline moving with you.

The housing market in London, while similar to Vancouver, has it’s own unique nuances.
  • Estate Agents: The vast majority of the London rental market appears to be controlled by them. Private rentals can be found on Gumtree and Craigslist, but with websites such as those, these are no guarantees.
  • 6 week deposits: Whoooaaa, you want how much? When signing a lease, you need to pay the first months rent plus the 6 week deposit.
  • Pets: No one indicates if their flats allows pets.
To help us with our move, we have been in discussions with a relocation firm. These firms specialize in assisting people moving to London and helping them find a place to live. After some research, we discovered London Relocation Ltd and decided to hold an interview with Colleen Wagner who handles the social media for LR and blogs for London Living, to help others interested in using relocation firms or are moving overseas.

Since this is quite a lengthy list of questions, we decided to make it into a three part series.

Hope you find this helpful! Thanks to Colleen (C) for putting up with Rob's (R) many questions.

**************************

R: Tell us a bit about London Relocation
C: London Relocation Ltd. is a personalized destination service provider that assists with an otherwise arduous flat-search. Founded by Anthony Gallo, an American originally from Arizona, our entire staff is comprised of expats from the States and Australia—we therefore bring a special empathy to the table because we’ve undergone the international move ourselves and understand all too well the special challenges that come in tow with such a decision.

Finding a new home is a particularly stressful factor that can be very time-consuming, expensive, and, quite frankly, confusing in an unfamiliar property market, which just compounds the issue when one already feels displaced. London Relocation Ltd. is all about making the process quick, efficient, and, dare we hope, fun ☺


R: Tell us a bit about yourself and London Living.
C: I myself moved to London from Chicago in 2008 as an accompanying spouse. My husband had accepted a new position that brought us here; however, as he wasn’t transferring through an existing employer, we weren’t entitled to any form of expatriate support outside of a monetary moving allowance. As I consequently found the move to be a difficult, isolating transition in the months to follow leaving behind family, friends, and career (I taught high school English at home and am on hiatus for various reasons), when I started working for London Relocation, I wanted to enhance our flat-finding service with helping expats find some social footing as well.

As our London Living members do include both current and future expats, their participation has broadened the ability to field any number of questions, and it’s essentially become one-stop shopping for some of London Relocation’s own social media efforts (i.e., the information we share through our blog and Twitter) as well as London events and advice from our “Londonistas”. First implemented in January of this year, it has grown into a lovely community that has already established close friendships. I am hoping to organize a social event later this month to give Londonistas the opportunity to meet each other—we keep it casual. It doesn’t matter whether London Living members use our service or not—this initiative Is purely about camaraderie and reestablishing a support network far from home.


R: Can you provide a list of online tools for researching London?

Robert's personal favourites at the moment are:
Colleen's Additions:
Beyond my pet London Living, other good practical, interactive guides on moving to London I’ve encountered are:

Canadians & Americans in the UK
Moving 2 London
Yankee Landing

For a mix of the practical and the fun-n-quirky London goings-on, I also like:
Anglotopia.net – the ultimate source for Anglophiles!
Londonist.com
Little London Observationist

And for getting around London, the
Transport For London site is positively awesome (you can read up on the brand new cycle hire scheme here, too!)—a great way to research your commuting possibilities in advance, which in turn can help in deciding on where to live.

**************************

Stay tuned for the second part where Colleen covers basics such as finding a reputable agent and why everything is quoted pound per week.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday


Etsy Finds Friday is a speckle of random things that have caught my eye on etsy.com. Great ideas and lots of inspiration for your upcoming wedding or to add a little handmade love to your life.

photo credit go to the respective shops listed below

(From left to right)
Top: Peppermint Cloud, Chouettes, Vigilante Laboratories

Middle: Sapti, Pasaii Paperie, Mia Beads

Bottom: Chloe and Maddie, Faith and Franny, A.J. Machete and Sons Clothier

Thursday, September 9, 2010

make :: paper ribbons


(found via Twig & Thistle)

I thought that this would be a cute alternative to a boutainnaire. Follow this simple tutorial to make you own paper ribbons and show your loved ones who's number 1!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

london :: banking

photo credit: Frank Songbird

Money, money, money….

One of the biggest hurdles for us when we first tried to move to the UK in 2004 was banking. Oi! It's making my head hurt already. Being twenty, I guess I could have done more research at the time, but basically, I closed up my bank account in Vancouver and asked for the bank to issue me a cheque with my remaining balance. The cheque was in Canadian funds which brings us to ...

lesson # 1: If you show up to a British bank with a cheque in Canadian funds, it will be mailed back to the bank that issued it and a new cheque with the amount in British pounds will need to be sent. This could take 6 to 8 weeks. The bank failed to tell us this and we spent a lot of time wondering where our money was.

lesson #2: If possible, get an account before you leave. I strongly advise this. When I wanted to switch bank accounts in the UK, I originally was not approved due to bad credit even though I had never missed a payment nor had any debt at the time. The bank finally figured that my papers were shuffled to a random bank teller back in Canada. They may have not known what to do with it and declined it or decided not to approve it because I had closed my account with them earlier in the year.

Earlier this year, Lloyds TSB offshore made bank accounts available to those who wish to open a foreign current account, live / work overseas or even if you just travel frequently. So far, the customer service has been great - super helpful and friendly and the nice thing is that they have staff based in Vancouver and Toronto.

Other possible banks to consider are:

Barclays (This is where we originally set up our accounts on our first trip in 2002)

If you decide to work / live abroad or just want to spend a good chunk of time traveling, having an account in place with some cash in it, will, in the long-term, make your life a lot easier. Trust me. I can't tell you enough how happy I am that this has all been taken care of. * whew *


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

summer garden life

I have pretty much killed every single plant that I have ever owned. When Erin gave me a beautiful orchid earlier this year, it went straight to my friend's boyfriend, aka the orchid whisperer, where it is living a happy life. Trust me. It was for the best.

This is our third year with the community garden. We have a plot over on West 16th Avenue and Oak Street. Last year was kind of a bomb. With summer wedding and event season, Rob and I seem to struggle to find enough energy to go and pick weeds and harvest our work. This year, we made a conserted effort to revive our little garden plot. Although, it's not exactly something that I would write to Canadian Gardening Magazine about, it is an improvement from the last. Check out our strawberries above and the potato plants below from earlier in the year.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

summer times

Even though Fall hasn't officially arrived, it feels like it's time to kiss the warm days of sunshine goodbye. Summer went by super fast for us this year. We were expecting it to though. With a super packed schedule and knowing that it would be our last Vancouver summer for a year or two, we knew that we had to cherish as much as we could.

Yes, we did work a lot the last few months. Um.. remember July? Summer hiatus on the blog due to 8-12 hour work days for the entire month. So crazy good with an emphasis on crazy. I remember wrapping up my last day finishing up a contract and realizing "Woah, I don't have to put pants on today" - hehe.

Armed with flip flops, slushy drinks galore, we spent the last summer BBQing... becomine an aunt and uncle... gardening... getting bitten by mosquitoes... meeting new friends... road tripping... eating berries... enjoying an annual cotton candy feast...

We visited two fairs this year, the Oregon State Fair (pictured above) and the Pacific National Exhibition. Not to be a cotton candy snob or anything, but US and Canadian cotton candy seem to have a different taste. Just saying ... Oh, and that's the fair lift pictured above. For a small price, you can ride it from one end of the fair grounds to the next and back. It's a pretty length ride and yes, I did take my flip flops off. No way was I going to be the person to lose their shoes on the ride. Eek.

It's currently raining outside and I can't sleep. Looks like tomorrow will start with a nice lie in, a hot cup of coffee and maybe a bit of work. Need to get some organizing done before the zany starts again!

What do YOU have planned? Are you getting ready for the first day of school Enjoying the last of the long weekend?

happy anniversary!


photo credit: Tracey L. Heppner

It's our sixth anniversary today! It looks like we share this special day with another fine couple we know. For lucky number six, it shows that our modern symbol is wood. Maybe that means that I will finally find a wood table that matches my library catalogue!

We are off to the Farmers Market for a new market bag, some fresh garlic and tomatoes and then off to a BBQ dinner with family. Happy long weekend!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

&hearts portland





Random polarized snapshots ... the last shot won me a gift certificate to Burgerville (a fast food chain based in South WA and OR committed to only using local, sustainable and fresh ingredients) - onion ring face!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday


Etsy Finds Friday is a speckle of random things that have caught my eye on etsy.com. Great ideas and lots of inspiration for your upcoming wedding or to add a little handmade love to your life.

photo credit go to the respective shops listed below

(From left to right)
Top: Fox & Clover, Rabbit's Stop, Royal Buffet

Middle: Evelda's Neverland, Family Attic, Lily Lady Blue

Bottom: Lost & Fawned, Patkas, Kathleen Cavalaro

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

eating waffles


Sorry for the late post. We were busy eating dutch tacos from the Flavour Spot (yes, they include an 'u'!) food cart in Portland. I heard rave reviews about this place, so I thought that since this may be the last trip to Portland for a while, we better go and try it! Imagine a 7" crispy waffle baked to order wrapped around your favourite fillings - ham and cheese, mallow fluff and nutella, bacon and sausage, etc. You can their menu here. The one pictured above is the no.1 Sausage and Maple - sweet and savoury - 3 sausage rounds with maple syrup wrapped in a waffle. Tasty, but I think I'm going to pass on the maple syrup next time. It was a little too sweet for me.

We head back to Vancouver tomorrow, but I promise that I will post more Portland love soon.
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