Vancouver Greek Summerfest Win

A week and a half ago I returned from almost two months in Greece. It’s wonderful to come home, but I always feel like I leave a part of me (the Greek part) overseas. However, that’s why it’s great to live in a culturally diverse city like Vancouver. You can always find places and events that help you reconnect with your roots. I was delighted, therefore, to win a $25 gift certificate to the Vancouver Greek Summerfest.

Vancouver Greek Summerfest Serves Up Deliciousness

Vancouver Greek Summerfest

Greece is famous for its ancient ruins, glorious beaches, and its fantastic food. For more than 30 years, volunteers from  St. Nicholas & Dimitrios Church have been making everything from the famous roast lamb dinner to loukoumades, irresistible Greek donuts in honey and sesame seeds. I enjoyed everything I ate, and it was an added bonus that this year they had drinks like Loux iced tea that I can normally only get in Greece.

A George Michael Impersonator, Greek Folk Dances, and More

Vancouver Greek Summerfest folk dancing
Greek Folk Dancing

Another way I connect to my heritage is through enjoying the kind of dance and music the Vancouver Greek Summerfest presents. It’s interesting to see the various performances and note how the dance and music changes, depending on the region in Greece they originate from. On a lighter note, I was sorry to miss the George Michael impersonator. Fun acts like this, as well as acts from other cultures, are always great.

St. Nicholas & St. Dimitrios: A Place of Serenity

Vancouver Greek Summerfest Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church

Before I leave the Vancouver Greek Summerfest, I always stop in at St. Nicholas & St. Dimitrios. The Greek Orthodox church is a quiet place amidst all the excitement of the festival. The iconography and chandeliers in Greek Orthodox churches are traditionally elaborate. Thus, you need to sit and take it all in. Fortunately, the church has explanatory notes that give you a better understanding of what you’re seeing.

So, you have until July 14th to experience all this for yourself! Swing by and hear some great music, dance, eat, and live a day the Greek way!

Vancouver Maritime Museum’s Winning Exhibit

The Lost Fleet Exhibit

I recently won tickets to the Vancouver Maritime Museum’s The Lost Fleet exhibit. The exhibit focused on the treatment of Japanese immigrants and those of Japanese descent in Vancouver during the Second World War. It’s main emphasis was on the confiscation of nearly 1,200 Japanese-Canadian owned fishing boats by Canadian officials on the British Columbia coast, which were eventually sold off to canneries and other non-Japanese fishermen. It’s not a pleasant period in our history. However, this was an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about this part of Vancouver’s past.

Japanese Internment in Vancouver

Now, I can only give the briefest overview about these events. Click here if you want to learn more. Basically, Vancouver’s Powell Street area once had a thriving Japanese community (Japanese-Canadians also lived in other parts of the province as well). After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese people in Vancouver were taken from their homes and placed in holding areas and internment camps. Holding areas included places like the livestock building at the Pacific National Exhibition where living conditions were very poor. Today, the Powell Street area only has remnants of the Japanese community. However, the yearly Powell Street Festival, helps to celebrate Japanese culture and the neighborhood as it once was.

Performances Liven Up the Vancouver Maritime Museum Exhibit

Vancouver Maritime Museum

The Vancouver Maritime Museum examined many aspects of the Japanese experience in Vancouver as part of their exhibit. What made it especially interesting, though, were the live performances. Actors read diary entries of Japanese-Canadians during WWII. They acted out roles like a Japanese ship captain, ordered to return to port, and a Canadian of Japanese descent asked to go to Japan.The exhibit also featured pottery and sound art, as well as artifacts and informative text about the period.

I also found it very interesting to visit the permanent collection, including the St. Roch vessel. It was especially lovely to go outside at sunset and see several vintage boats at the museum’s dock. Some rather strange objects were also on display inside the museum, such as a narwhal’s tusk.

A Tourist in My Own Town

Vancouver Maritime Museum

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I don’t know if I’ve ever been to this museum before. Yet, this brings home, again, why winning contests is awesome. You get the opportunity to go to places and do things you might not otherwise seek out. While traveling overseas is an amazing experience that I love, being a tourist in your own town can be fun too! So, many thanks to the Georgia Straight for making this adventure possible!

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!).

10 Contests that Changed History

Sadly, I haven’t had a lot of success winning contests lately. That reality has started to sink in and I’m feeling a bit depressed. I’d settle for a free cup of tea or maybe a good book. I’m not asking for a trip to Hawaii, a car, or lots of cash. Just something that I could write about; that I could experience and you could experience along with me. That’s been my intrinsic motivation for this blog since it began, and will continue to propel me forward.

In any case, it’s time to get inspired. Sandra Grauschof’s post made for a very interesting read, and I’ll hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Ponder her initial question:

Have you ever thought about how many contests have changed history?

Then, take some time to read the amazing true stories about how contests have been the catalyst for change and invention.

Source: 10 Contests that Changed History

2015 Ends With Two Wins!

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 was a great one for all of you, and that 2016 will bring you much joy and happiness. Personally, I’m sad to see 2015 go. I had one of my best years ever—a new job, great graphic design classes, a wonderful trip overseas, and some fantastic new friendships.

With all the changes in my professional and personal life, I didn’t have as much time for entering contests in 2015. However, I did have some memorable wins earlier this year and December ended with two wins; a great way to end 2015. Continue reading “2015 Ends With Two Wins!”

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!

The Woman in the Window

Film Noir Fascinates

In luscious black-and-white, the screen flickers. It takes us back to a world filled with crimes, intrigues, and elegant men and women with dark pasts. Film Noir. I’m a die hard fan and have been for years. Thus, I was delighted to win tickets to the screening of my choice during The Cinematheque‘s recent Film Noir series. I chose The Woman in the Window. It’s not as well-known as some other Noir classics, but I had to see it.

Edward G. Robinson, More Than a Gangster

The primary reason was the lead actor, Edward G. Robinson. I feel about Robinson the way many people felt about Lady Gaga after she sang The Sound of Music classic at The Oscars. Why, exactly, had this woman with a fantastic voice been wasting her time singing songs like “Poker Face” all these years? Robinson played so many gangster roles throughout his career that it’s easy to think his abilities as an actor were limited to these parts. A few performances, however, showed audiences that he was capable of so much more.

The Woman in the Window was one of the films that demonstrated his ability to convey pathos, inner turmoil, and utter despair. Yet, he displayed a subtle, restrained sense of humour at other points in this movie, as well. He goes from being a rather staid, middle-aged professor to a man bewitched by beauty. He becomes capable of acts that we, the audience, couldn’t have conceived of him doing moments earlier.

Two Endings

I would encourage all of you to seek out this film, if not for Robinson’s performance, but for the ending. I’m not one for giving away key plot points, but let’s just say there are two endings to this film. The first is the real ending. The ending that the film would have had if it were made today. Instead, it concludes with the censors’ ending. Even in Film Noir, bad guys don’t get off scot-free and bad deeds don’t go unpunished. The world was always portrayed as a generally good place, even while World War II was raging.

Well, this latest win brings my total to $225 for 2015. Look for my next installment when I describe the experience as a finalist in a photo contest.