Dutch Cheese For the Win!

What a Gouda Win It Was

Sorry, the pun was too much for me to resist. Yes, I won $50 of Dutch cheese from the Holland Shopping Centre! The win also conveniently occurred close to my open house party, so guests got to enjoy the following (see pic):

    • Pesto gouda: green and very delicious
    • Asparagus gouda: surprisingly good
    • Medium aged gouda: a classic, must-have
    • Goat’s milk gouda: a nice alternative for the lactose-sensitive
    • Smoked applewood cheddar: not Dutch, but delicious!
    • Tomato basil havarti: again, not Dutch, but still yummy!

      Holland Shopping Centre: Not Just Dutch Cheese

      If you haven’t been to the Holland Shopping Centre, I recommend you take a trip out to this New Westminster shop. It really has all things Dutch: salty and sweet licorice, croquettes,wooden shoes stroop waffles, tea towels, Heineken beer glasses, dishes, wooden shoes, and of course, Dutch cheese.

      Also, the day I went to pick up my winning cheese, I had one of their deli sandwiches. I was very overwhelmed by the huge choice of cheese. I ended up asking the clerk to slice what she thought was the tastiest Gouda and add it to my turkey sandwich.

      Connecting with My Roots

      One of the reasons I love visiting Holland Shopping Centre is it helps me to connect with my Dutch heritage. My grandfather came to Canada from The Netherlands when he was 18 years old, but I have several cousins who still live there. I’ve been to The Netherlands five times, and have been fortunate enough to visit Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht, and several other cities over the years.

      My family, and the Dutch people in general, are very hospitable. You’ll experience what they call ‘gezellig‘. It’s this feeling of coziness, warmth, and a certain untranslatable feeling of oneness with the space you are in. I’ve felt it in Dutch bars the most, and I’m always happy to give recommendations as to where to visit!

      My Dutch Bucket List

      Tulips

      I would love to return to The Netherlands again soon, and there are two things I would especially love to do. The first is to see the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. It seems amazing that something so beautiful and fragile as a tulip can require such intricate processes to move it from one location to another.

      The second activity would be a walking tour of sorts. I want to see many of the original buildings that were the inspiration for the KLM houses. These little Delft houses are given to business travelers who fly KLM. Little Kingdom By the SeaWe received these two houses on our honeymoon flight home (even though we weren’t flying business class). Also, Little Kingdom By the Sea is a great resource for finding out all the stories behind the houses.

 

Tot ziens!

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!

Pomme Natural Market Ladies Night Win

Why Free Food is Awesome

I have a special fondness for winning free food. Aside from cold, hard cash, I think food is the most useful kind of prize. I’m also a big fan of consumables at the moment. After 15 years in the same house, we’re moving. Thus, the less we have to box and cart with us, the better.

Pomme Natural Market

It was especially delightful that the free food in question came from Pomme Natural Market via their Ladies Night on October 21st. Pomme is an amazing place. It is the anti-supermarket. The store is packed full of out-of-the-ordinary yumminess in a manageable space. I’m often looking for dairy-free food and healthy carbs and Pomme offers lots of options. My mother and my friend Anne, who came with me to Ladies Night, like Pomme’s selection of vegetarian products.

Ladies Night

Ladies Night was a lot of fun. I drove in after a long day’s work downtown, happy for the change of scene. Initially, I felt overwhelmed. So many ladies in one space! However, Anne and I made our way around the store sampling and playing various games, at which she excelled and I performed rather badly at. As usual, I also enjoyed my Pomme shopping trip and taking advantage of the 10% discount that evening.

The Find of the Night
Wild Hibiscus in Syrup
Wild Hibiscus in Syrup

So, as I mentioned, there was some serious sampling going on at Pomme’s Ladies Night. I was attracted to one particular sampling table, as I saw a large crowd around it and heard the lady offering up the samples saying in a hushed tone, “These are from Australia.” It was if she was presenting the first Martian food ever to grace planet Earth! That being said, the wild hibiscus flowers in syrup stuffed with goat cheese were so delectable. Definitely has the wow factor necessary for Christmas entertaining.

Winning Update

Surprisingly, 2016 is starting to look better in terms of winning now! I found out about this prize the day after my Ghost Train win. The tickets for the event were only $10 each, but just look at what was in my swag bag! Strictly speaking, I should value this prize at $20, but I am tempted to up it a little. Ah, well, I’ll think about it at year end. Stayed tuned.

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

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!”

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!”

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)