Circle Craft Market Win Inspires

Circle Craft Market

It’s no secret to any of my loyal readers that I love craft fairs. And the start of the Christmas craft fair season, always begins with the Circle Craft Market. So, I was very happy to win two tickets to this event where more than 300 artisans were selling their work. What I’m going to focus on in this post is the crafters that impressed me most with their creations, and show off some of the lovely things I bought from them.

Jackie Lee is Out of this World

Circle Craft Market Space Stuff

If all things outer space fascinate you, and you enjoy Art Deco, then Jackie Lee’s work will wow you. Her illustrations, stickers, and pins were unlike anything else at the market. This cycling astronaut pin and moon sticker are what we just had to take home.

Cheerful Tea Towels for Rainy Days

Circle Craft Market Tea Towels

My best friend has recently moved to Seattle. Like Vancouver, it’s a rainy place. Therefore, I thought that these bright and cheery tea towels might be an excellent item to add to her Christmas basket. Rain Goose Textiles is a North Vancouver-based company that has just a lovely selection of linen products with beautiful designs. Also, I was very tempted by their Bodum covers and tea cozies.

Felted Hedgehogs: My Mom’s Kryptonite

Circle Craft Market Felted Hedgehog

My mom cannot resist a hedgehog. Over the years, I have bought her hedgehog mugs, dryer balls, cards, and I recently made her a hedgehog Christmas ornament. And, Yuki, who runs Honey Canada, taught me how to make it. If you visit her website, or attend one of her classes at Bird on a Wire, you’ll understand just how adorable a piece of felt can become. At the Circle Craft Market, I couldn’t pass up this new hedgehog decoration she just designed. Mom is going to love it.

The Best Deal at the Circle Craft Market

Circle Craft Market spoons

Again, as some of you know, I am a bargain hunter. I love a deal on something fabulous. So, when I saw these spoons for only five dollars each, I had to have them. Swirly Spoons is also a local Vancouver company and has lots more affordable utensils on their site.

Let’s Talk Food

Vendors at the Circle Craft Market are very generous with their food samples. You get to try everything from chocolate to Indian curry. There were so many delectable creations I would love to have bought, but this is what I came away with:

*So, that’s it! The market was a lot of fun, and all the local artisans have really inspired me to keep sewing, felting, and cooking. If you’re interested in reading about one of my past craft fair wins, click here.

Flor de Caña Rum Party Prize

Flor de Caña: The Taste of Summer

I was fortunate enough to win entry for myself and three friends to the Hot Nica Nights Fire and Ice celebration. We arrived at the North Vancouver Shipyards and made our way to the outdoor venue. We could smell the burning tiki torches and hear the music long before we actually arrived at the Flor de Caña rum party.

When we did enter the outdoor venue, the first thing we noticed was the view. The blue sky and the blue inlet merging together, almost making

North Vancouver Inlet view

us forget we hadn’t suddenly taken a plane to a more exotic locale. I think I might have appreciated it even more, had I known that these beautiful summer skies would soon be replaced by a smoky haze.

 My Rum History

In any case, we were here primarily to try some Flor de Caña rum. This rum comes from Nicaragua, and has a 125-year heritage. Now, I’m going to be totally honest here. Prior to this event, I had never heard of this particular brand of rum. I tend to drink Appleton Estate’s Signature Blend and really enjoy it in various cocktails. However, I have tried other kinds of rum, including Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Havana Club, and Lamb’s. Also, I should mention that this was my first experience at a rum tasting too.

We each received two tickets at the door: one for a glass of the 12-year-old Flor de Caña and one for the 18-year-old. We could also have unlimited tastings of the seven-year-old rum, either straight or mixed.

Age Matters

Flor de Caña rum

I began by trying the 12-year-old rum on the rocks. It had a nice spicy, yet mellow flavor. I liked that it wasn’t overpowering and that I could enjoy it on its own.

Next, I went for a cocktail made with the seven-year-old. It also contained simple syrup, lemon juice, and hibiscus tea. Absolutely fabulous! Hands down, one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had, and I do claim some prior imbibing experience in the cocktail department! It had just the right amount of sweetness, which was key, so that I could enjoy the rum itself.

Finally, I tried the 18-year-old. That packed a powerful punch. Too much of a punch for me. At this point in the evening, one of my companions questioned whether we should be drinking rum straight at all. In his words, “What are we, pirates?” A difficult question indeed.

Will I Be Buying Flor de Caña?

Yes, I think so. At least, I’ll alternate between it and my Appleton’s. I’m not sure, given that I do drink rum only in cocktails, that I would spring for the 12-year-old, though. I feel like the seven-year-old definitely did everything I’d like a rum to do.

What I really want is the recipe for that hibiscus tea cocktail. Flor de Caña does have some great concoctions on their site, but my favorite libation is nowhere to be found. If you can track it down, my loyal readers, please leave a comment, send smoke signals, whatever you can to help me solve this truly first world problem.

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!

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