Refresh Market Contest Win

Another day, another craft fair win! Yes, as you may remember I recently won two tickets to Circle Craft Market and had a fabulous time. My latest win took me out to Squamish and the Refresh Market. Many thanks to Miss604 for offering the First Dibs Access contest. The prize included the following for myself and my husband:

  • Early entrance to the market before the public (1 hour before opening)
  • Two cocktails
  • Two goody bags including coffee and wonderfully fragrant bath salts

Refresh Market coffee and bath saltsRefresh Market: A Special Setting

Refresh Market Train

One thing that makes the Refresh Market unique is its location. The event is held in the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish. Thus, there are many vintage trains and historic buildings that transport you back in time. We went on one of the railway cars, which a fortune teller was using, to see what was inside. Passenger cars with opulent bedspreads, a galley fully equipped with food stuffs like Dainticuts macaroni, and an office with a vintage typewriter; all this made me want to come back and explore the 12-acre site further.

Finds at Delish General Store

Delish General Store Finds at Refresh Market

Delish General Store is always a favourite for me at any craft fair I visit. They always have interesting items you haven’t seen anywhere else. This time, I bought these handbag rescue wipes and used them immediately upon returning home. My purse had been in need of some care and attention for some time. I was really impressed with the results. Quickly and with no mess, my purse has been restored to an almost like-new condition. This product is well-worth the $10 I spent, especially given that there are still plenty of wipes left in the box.

Also, I thought I’d give this stain remover stick a chance. For only $5, I thought it might help restore a couple of tops that have been looking rather forlorn in my dresser drawer. Fingers crossed that the results will make me as happy as the handbag wipes did!

Refresh Market Offers Tasty Treats

Food sampling at the Refresh Market is truly enjoyable. And, of course, we could not resist purchasing a couple of delectable offerings. The first came from another familiar favourite Coconama. Coconama salted caramel truffles Refresh MarketThis North Vancouver company makes Japanese chocolate ganache truffles that are little morsels of pure joy. This time we went for their most popular flavour, salted caramel. Definitely a great choice.

For the long drive home, we selected fruit jellies from North Shore Candy Company. This new candy start-up uses natural fruit flavours and colours in their products, and the taste is impressive. The flavours are strong and evocative of the summer fruit they were made from. North Shore Candy Company Refresh MarketThese are not the store-bought, waxy gummies of your childhood. No, these are something entirely different, and perfect for an hour-plus drive home on a Friday evening.




A Footnote from the Refresh Market

I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning Annie Axtell‘s lunar calendars. Though we didn’t buy one, I couldn’t help, but appreciate the quality work and creativity that went into creating them. So, if you’re looking for an affordable, eye-catching gift for the stargazer in your life, I think she may have that perfect present you’ve been searching for.


Sewing Class Teaches Me More Than Stitching

A Winning Journey

On June 17th, I won some pretty fabric in a draw at a sewing class. While this is a great prize, like so many of the things I’ve won, it’s often the journey to winning them which is interesting. The prize itself would not merit a blog post. Thus, I pose this question to you: have you ever really enjoyed something you weren’t that good at? Well, that’s how I feel about sewing. In the last five years or so, I’ve taken some classes. I’ve made some projects on my own; the most ambitious of which was a dress for my niece. These endeavors have had mixed results. However, I continue to keep sewing. Consequently, this is what led me to sign up for a strawberry-themed tea and sewing class on June 17th.

A Strawberry-themed Sewing Class

My best friend joined me for what began as a group of ladies sipping tea and munching on delicious scones around a small table at The Stitchery. This is a new Port Moody business that specializes in sewing classes and renting access to sewing machines. It was all very civilized and relaxing, but I knew what was coming next: a strawberry-themed sewing project. My best friend decided to make a strawberry purse, whereas I chose the strawberry pin cushion. I knew that my level of ambition should be in line with my level of ability!

Slow Progress

Then, I began. As usual, I started with lots of enthusiasm, which quickly devolved into a bit of confusion. I needed to ask for help midway, and at the end when a tiny hole emerged at project end. I was also slow. The senior ladies in the group finished their projects very quickly while we hurried to finished before the next group of people were due to take their places at the machines.

Life-long Learning

So, why do I continue to do this? I think it has a lot to do with who I am. I hate to give in to my own weaknesses. I’m not a hands-on learner, but I want to improve my capabilities. I know I’m not very patient, but I want to be. It’s easy for me to sit in front of a computer screen and write, but I want to be more than a wordsmith. And, hey, five years ago I couldn’t operate a sewing machine or even sew on a button by hand, but now I can. So, I’m not going to give up. I refuse to be discouraged. I’ll give it my best and I’ll be better for it. And also, who doesn’t love a pretty piece of fabric?


The Wellness Show Win

Well, everyone, I’m back! It’s been a long hiatus, but I’ve finally won another contest. A couple of weeks ago, I entered an in-store draw at Nesters Market and won tickets to The Wellness Show. So, last Saturday, I toddled off to the Vancouver Convention Centre to experience the event for the first time.

Samples, Samples, Samples!

I love free samples—who doesn’t? So, the food area of The Wellness Show was a dream come true. Also, they were healthy samples, so pretty much a guilt-free experience. I did buy a few things as well, though, that I thought you’d like to hear about:

  • Quesava Veggie Poppers: very cheesy mini buns that are seriously addictive. A bit much at $10 a box, but they are gluten-free and quick to bake—a good thing to have on hand for my next party.
  • Bingo Lactose-free Gouda CheeseTwo blocks for $10 was an excellent deal. I was also pleasantly surprised by how nicely the cheese melted, as I’ve had some dairy-free cheeses that didn’t work out well.
  • Tea from Tea SparrowFour 18-gram bags for $12. As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying Mandarin Rose. It’s a unique blend with the caffeine boost I’m looking for in the a.m.
  • Laiki Rice Crackers$3, made with red or black rice, oil, and salt. A little on the oily side, but not overwhelming if eaten in moderation. Unfortunately, I am guilty of eating an entire bag at one sitting.
  • Organic Maple Syrup: $13 for a large bottle that is as good as you’d expect from our Canadian staple

A Table Tennis Workout

The Wellness Show Table Tennis

The North Shore Table Tennis Club had a bunch of tables set up and I couldn’t resist playing for the first time in what must be at least a decade. First, I played against the Ping Pong robot. It kept firing at me and I was soon able to return the shots. Then, I played against my husband and, well, we were both equally bad. However, I think rediscovering something fun that gets you up and moving is very cool.

Other Reasons The Wellness Show Was Fun

  • Massagers for your back, feet, and shoulders that you could try for free
  • Various demonstrations and talks on several different stages: celebrity cooking, healthy families, living well, women & wellness, and zen fitness
  • Very awesome deals (e.g. $10 off $50 worth of groceries from Nesters)

Also, and most importantly, a space in which to think about how to live a healthier and happier life. Which leads to the big question: would I go to the show again next year if I had to pay for tickets? The answer is definitely ‘yes’. At $12.50 per adult online, it’s a great deal, especially given that we don’t take enough time out to stop and think about what it would mean to live a better life. And, that’s where I think The Wellness Show is great because it presents so many different options for you to consider when it comes to how you want to achieve that goal.

Note: Life’s gotten a bit busier for me lately. Thus, these contest posts have become less frequent than they once were. However, I will still make time to update my blog when I can. If you feel you’re not getting enough Rebecca in the meantime, please check out my posts on digital marketing and disability awareness.

Stay well, everybody!



A Salute to Creativity and the Makie

My Makie Heritage

Makies, aka artists, crafters, and creative types, are amazing people. My mother is a potter and creates everything from bird baths to buttons to dinner sets out of clay. My grandmother painted, and I wake up daily to her artwork on my walls. Sewing, cartooning, and graphic design are what fuel my own creative sensibility. So, I was very happy to win a prize from another makie, Dipsy Doodle Designz.

Art and Upcycling

My prize from this Surrey-based crafting business consisted of a compact, paper weight, magnet, and two prints. In keeping with the hipster trend of the moment, the entire prize is succulent-themed.

succulent cactus

However, what I’d like to focus on is the paper canvas for these prints: old dictionary pages. I’m a big fan of this kind of upcycling. Vintage encyclopedias, dictionaries, trashy novels, and more can all be transformed into something beautiful. Here are some great ideas if you’d like to try your hand at book upcycling.

The Olde Farmhouse Market

Dipsy Doodle Designz was one of the exhibitors at The Olde Farmhouse Market. It was through this market’s Facebook contest that I won this prize. Plenty of upcycling is on display at the market, as well as, new items, and original, intact vintage pieces. However, I especially love finding new uses for previously loved items. For example, I have my vinyl collection in a Valley Canadian Apples box and stash my coupons in a Player’s cigarette tin.

By choosing vintage and upcycled, items I’m rejecting the disposable and over-consuming mindset of today’s culture. Simply put, we have too much stuff. Thus, if we can try to get the most out of what we already, rather than continually producing new things, I think we’ll be moving in the right direction.

My Winning Streak

Well, this is my second prize of the year, so I’m off to a great start!  I’ve also already won a third prize, but I will tell you more about that one once I pick it up and taste it (that’s the teaser for you!).

We Fell in Love With SFU

On January 1st of this year, we went home. We moved to UniverCity at Simon Fraser University (SFU). The university really is like a home to Ryan and I. Not only are we SFU grads, but we both worked for the university, and most importantly, met one another there.

This connection with the university and our recent move inspired me to submit our story to the “We Fell in Love at SFU” contest launched by the university’s alumni association. In fact, I didn’t actually know there was a contest connected with the call for submissions. I just wanted to share our experience.

My SFU Story

Well, it turns out there was and we won an amazing prize package, which I will describe in detail later. However, the focus of this post is on our love for SFU itself.

I attended SFU from 1994 to 1997. Every time I stepped on campus, I took a deep breath. Anyone who has spent time on top of a mountain knows what I’m talking about. It’s so refreshing, and the view never disappoints. Also, the smallness of the campus always appealed to me. It never took very long to get anywhere and there were always opportunities to meet people outside of your own faculty.

Two Amazing Instructors

My major was English and my minor was political science. I had some great instructors. A couple in particular have always stuck with me. Dr. Sheila Roberts taught Medieval Literature classes. She began her lectures by playing music that had a connection to the works we were studying. In one of her tutorials, she brought in a medieval feast she’d made, and I remember being so impressed that she’d baked authentic medieval bread! Sheila always knew how to create a classroom atmosphere that was conducive to learning and stimulating to the imagination.

Dr. Jerry Zaslove taught a course focused on the works of Franz Kafka and stories inspired by him. In my early 20s, Kafka made a huge impression on me. I don’t think any work of literature influenced me as much as The Trial. What Jerry did when teaching Kafka’s powerful novels and short stories was encourage us to engage in critical thinking, and discuss contentious ideas with one another in a respectful way. To this day, I still keep the “Team Kafka” button he had made for each of us.

I have other fond memories of my time at SFU too. Sitting by the pond, feeling the sun on my face as I studied for exams; going to the pub basement and getting a mammoth vegetarian sandwich for only $2; watching foreign films at Images Theatre with friends. Not surprisingly, the list of reminiscences is long, and sometimes I wish I could relive those years all over again.

Ryan’s SFU Story

SFU Sweatshirt
Ryan Wears His Winning SFU Sweatshirt

Ryan wanted to share some thoughts about his time at SFU too, so I present them here:

SFU was where I met some of my best friends and learned vital skills, and a lot of that happened in the Computing Science Student Society’s (CSSS’) common room. That narrow, cramped space, still in use today, had a video terminal you could check email on, a cheap pop machine, and some of the smartest people I have ever met. The conversations I had there were as educational as most of my courses. In an even odder turn of events, I was briefly the president of the society.

Our SFU Prize Package

SFU alumni prize box
SFU Prize Box

So, it’s time to talk about the fabulous prize package! The $150 box of delights included:

  • Two bags
  • Two sweatshirts
  • One USB
  • One sweatshirt blanket
  • Two glass tumblers
  • One very nice card from the alumni association

Thank you, alumni association, we are loving everything and are so happy to be back at SFU!

Winning My Way onto The Ghost Train

A Change of Scene

It’s amazing how transformative darkness can be. A familiar place suddenly becomes mysterious. Add some colourful lights, spooky figures, and a mariachi band and you’re celebrating the Day of the Dead on a cool October night in Stanley Park.

Thanks to the Westender, my friends and I got to have just such an experience on Tuesday, October 11th. We were given the VIP treatment, complete with free VIP access to the Ghost Train, a free trip to the Spooky Barn, and warm cups of hot chocolate.

The Ghost Train

If you’re after jump-out-of-your-seat scares, the Ghost Train in Stanley Park is not for you. It states clearly on their website that this is a family-friendly activity. However, on the 14-minute ride I did have a good time. You travel by a series of scenes, and performers act out the part of everything from cockroaches to Day of the Dead puppets.

Day of the Dead Puppets at the Stanley Park Ghost Train
Day of the Dead Puppets

Music helps to set the mood, which is at times eerie, but mostly rather pleasant. Sitting on a cute train watching the scenes as I go by with my friends really is a rather wonderful way to spend a Tuesday night.

The Spooky Barn

After the train ride, we checked out a few other things, including the Haunted Maze, exhibits by the Stanley Park Ecological Society, and the pumpkin patch, but what I enjoyed most was the Spooky Barn.

The Spooky Barn at the Stanley Park Ghost Train
The Spooky Barn

Inside, there’s a series of peep holes. Take a look through and you’ll see art that depicts the Seven Stages of Man from William Shakespeare’s play, As You Like It.

Skeleton Art
Peek-a-Boo Art

I absolutely loved it.


The artwork also seemed inspired by Edward Gorey, which fans of PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! will be sure to recognize. The Barn also has a dance floor for those inclined to get down to the mariachi music.

Looking back on this Tuesday night, I can’t help but smile. It made me happy with its lighthearted injection of spookiness, and took me out of the house and into the night with my friends. Always a great place to be.

Winnings Update

I received four VIP passes to the Stanley Park Ghost Train and Spooky Barn. These were worth $71.60. We also received free hot chocolate, so I feel good about valuing this prize at $75. This is only my second win of 2016, but it’s not my last! The very next day

Vintage Teacups, For the Win!

Relics from a bygone era. Treasures from decades past. Whatever you call them, we have become a culture obsessed with all things vintage. I am an unapologetic member of this culture; an aging hipster who still gleefully snaps up Don Ho vinyl records, Pyrex bowls, and English bone china teacups. Thus, I was very happy to have won a Royal Stafford June Roses teacup and saucer, as well as a Robert Gordon tea infuser from Liv Lovely, an exhibitor at the vintage fair I attended yesterday, Town and Country Vintage Market. Continue reading “Vintage Teacups, For the Win!”

The Adventures of a Shutterbug

The Dawn of Digital

I’ve always loved taking photos. I took one course in high school and one in college, and enjoyed snapping away. However, I despised developing in claustrophobia-inducing darkrooms. Fortunately, digital has put an end to all that. I’ve also received an injection of new motivation recently. I was fortunate enough to get an iPhone 6 for Christmas. Now, I have an easy-to-carry lens with me wherever I go and no excuse not to take photos.

My Photo Made It To The Finals

Back in August, I went to Cultus Lake Adventure Park and took this photo:

Cultus Lake photo

It’s one of the many rides I went on that day. I even braved the roller coaster for what may have been the first and last time. The amusement park is a photographer’s dream, as there is an array of colours, lights, and the interesting juxtaposition of man-made whirling machines and the serene natural surroundings.

As I mentioned in my last post, my photo made the finals in the Cultus Lake Adventure Park contest. It garnered some very kind votes from friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, but lost out to a photo of a cute child. My niece and/or nephew will have to star in some future photo contest entries!

Movies about Prize Winners

To pique your interest a bit I thought I’d note a few movies for you to check out about prize winners. I love watching other people win prizes, unless that means I am losing the same prize.  In any case, check these out and keep following our progress to see which of us wins a prize first!

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

It Could Happen to You (1994)

Waking Ned Devine (1998)