Twisted Sisters Baking Co. – a slice of heaven

Sometimes life can be so sweet!

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Cake is for all Occasions. Cake is good for Grieving.  Cake is good for Celebrating.  And if you’re like Marie Antoinette, it also comes in handy for fending off revolutions. 

I’ve been eating a lot of cake lately. Thanks to my friend Tammy and her sister Shelly who’ve started a home baking company featuring a slew of the most delightful varieties.

Tammy Preast (l) and Shelly Dueck (r) Two Twisted Sisters

An amazing assortment of two-tiered & bundt-style whole cakes or by the slice (when available – 4 slice minimum).  Slices are generous too.  They started Twisted Sisters Baking Co. out of a love for baking and when self-isolating during this covid-19 period.  See menu at bottom.

So if there’s one good thing I can say that comes out of this covid period it’s these twisted sisters with their top-quality cakes.

Coincidence of Coconut Cake, 3-tiered layers of coconut delight finished with Coconut Buttercream Frosting and a layer of toasted coconut.  It was moist and super delicious.

 For breakfast this morning I had a piece of fluffy creamsicle cake made with fresh orange juice and a delicious zesty frosting.  Perfect start to the day.  I must admit it was not my first choice, however it surprisingly ended up becoming one of my favourites.  That’s because I normally go for chocolate.

Zesty Orange Cake baked with fresh orange juice & orange zest then finished with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

Another favourite is the perfectly pink vanilla sour cream almond cake with vanilla almond buttercream frosting. Shelly added lavender to the icing and it was incredible.  In a perfect world I would eat it all day long. But the coconut cake was excellent too as was the old fashioned raspberry/lemon and carrot cake.  Like I said…

If you live in Vancouver and you love cake (I don’t know anyone who doesn’t) then give them a try.  You don’t need an excuse although birthdays, anniversaries and just plain I want cake are good ones to start with.

Pretty in Pink, Almond Vanilla Cake with Almond Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. A lavender twist. This was half a slice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact:

twistedsistersbakingco@gmail.com

T: 778.552.1301

Payment by cash or e-transfer.  Pickup on doorstep in Kitsilano.

Like them on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Twisted-Sisters-Baking-Co-107605324272284/

Fine Art Portraits: Fluffy Furballs

These remarkable photographs were taken by Stacy Jacob – of Jacob Fine Art Portraits, Palm Desert, Ca.  I wanted to share them with you.  Our canine and feline friends never looked so fine. 

I met Stacy at Yappy Hour – a monthly fundraiser for Animal Samaritans in Palm Springs which takes place at the Riviera Hotel.  She was supporting “Paws for a Cause” 2020 with a booth there and invited us to her studio for a sitting.

Jia Jia – taken 01/2020

I was thrilled to see that the portrait she took of Jia Jia really captured his spirit.  It means more to me now than ever.  I have lots of photos as you well know, however this one that Stacy took is very special.

Capturing personality, expressions and relationships is my goal for your session. Bringing joy, surprise, even some “happy” tears to so many people is something I feel lucky to get to do. I get to be part of creating a memory for someone that they’ll enjoy for years to come and share with countless others. How cool is that!? –  Stacy Jacob

Studio: 41945 Boardwalk suite d, Palm Desert, CA 92211, United States

Phone:  +1 760-678-5859

 
 

Reflections

When gifts have a loving sentiment attached to them they become more meaningful.

This arrangement full of surprises, was from Tamara, Anik & Jolie – girls in the hood.
At my doorstep. Photo: Tamara Gauthier.

Following Jia Jia’s passing I received some thoughtful cards and messages, however this special written sentiment from my dear friend Tamara really got to me on a different level.  So I thought with her permission, I’d share it. Not only is the bouquet absolutely beautiful but…

This floral arrangement was made to represent all that was Jia Jia. I reflected upon what I felt he was and meant to you and your  life together.

A clear glass vase with warm opaque colours, reflecting that he clearly gave you warmth every day.

The elements of the ocean side because it was his favourite place to visit and added to the joy he had in his life with you.

Black and white sand are the yin and yang, symbolizing being rooted together in the trough of a wave and passionately growing together .  

The rocks symbolize strength and Jia Jia being a cornerstone. He was there for you and kept you solid in hard times. 

Shells, they are a strong home for sensitive beings. Jia Jia had a strong and safe life with you. And the sea glass survives the currents. Though  its been broken, the currents soften the sharp edges and gives a new beauty. Jia Jia is the salt in the current who helped you grow with beauty in the storms of life. 

Roses for your love and passion in giving him the best life possible.

Poppies for remembering him and the gratitude you had in finding each other.

Daisies for the innocent love blended with playful youthfulness.

Thistle for his endurance and victory in staying here for you as long as he could.

Eucalyptus represents that he had to depart to the heavens from his earthly time with you and they are known to drive away negative energy.

Cards and Stones. An Angel sits next to a clear quartz – the most powerful healing stone of the mineral kingdom.
This addition to my mural was completed last summer by Kris Friesen.            Photo: d. king

 

 

Jia Jia’s (2002 – 2020) Journey

A Dog’s Tale & Trail

Exactly one week ago today I said a tearful goodbye to one of the greatest loves of my life – my canine companion, Jia Jia.

A few days before. Photo: Paul LeMay

Anyone who knew our relationship, knew how bonded we were and what a positive difference we made in each other’s lives.

When I first met Jia Jia (pronounced like jaw-jaw akin to the character in Stars Wars) I wasn’t even contemplating getting a dog.  Jia Jia was already eight years old and moved to Vancouver from Beijing two years prior.   He became my next door neighbour and literally showed up at my back door one afternoon.  I immediately felt a connection but had no idea he would become mine for keeps two years after that, at the ripe age of ten.

I noticed that Jia Jia spent a lot of time alone in his backyard so asked his owner Lynn if I could take him running with me and she said “sure.” He became my running buddy. Then when she had to travel back and forth to China I looked after him, always hesitating to give him back.

 At that time my late husband and I had a VW pop-top Eurovan camper and decided to do a road trip from British Columbia to Florida with stops along the way in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama.  I asked Lynn if we could take Jia Jia along for the ride suggesting we might be away for a couple months, and she again said “Yes.”

Jia Jia has been to the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Florida Everglades, Key West, Lauderdale by the Sea and pretty much all over Florida.  He’s been to wineries in Napa and Sonoma, all over Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico.  He spent some time in Vegas casinos, put his paw on a slot machine once and won some cash.  Talk about a lucky dog!  And it all happened before he became mine for good.

From the time he was eight until he turned ten we spent a lot of quality time together.  Then Lynn said “he’s your dog.” But I already knew that.  However I never took it upon myself to say I owned him.  He owned us. 

In all that time we only spent two days apart.  Only because a friend suggested looking after my dogs when I spent two nights at a hotel with my sister and two friends for my birthday last year.  Otherwise I was planning to take them along. 

I don’t expect anyone to understand the relationship, but I can honestly say we were surprisingly attuned to each other.  He was an amazing dog.  An old soul. The dog to set the standard for all dogs for me from hereon in.

When my husband Don got sick, he suggested we get another companion for Jia Jia.  He found Layla in B.C’s Kooteney Mountain range.  With Jia Jia in tow, we all went together to meet Layla, and they seemed to get along.  I was able to get Layla about a month after my husband passed in August 2017.  She was a great choice and kept Jia Jia young.  But of course that didn’t last forever.

Jia Jia began slowing down a year ago.  This past winter in Palm Springs he could barely walk so I bought a wagon and wheeled him around and let him out to walk a bit and do his business.  Other than that his spirit was good (my husband used to say he was the happiest dog he’s ever met) and his health was pretty good considering his age.

Then 10 days before he passed a more startling change occurred and he just wasn’t the same.  He was walking in circles and couldn’t hold himself up properly.  It was heartbreaking to watch. I waited a bit to see if there’d be a change.  He improved slightly but not significantly enough.  His quality of life had diminished and for the first time he seemed tired and sad. I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and at a time of Covid-19 no less, when our vet and all other animal hospitals were asking for doggy curb-side drop off where no one else could be in attendance at the time of euthanization.  Nor did they want to come to your home.  No way was I going to drop him off and not be there for him.

After some searching and a recommendation from Granville Island Animal Hospital, I was super lucky to find Dr. Jeffrey Berkshire (liftingstars.ca – link at very bottom). We set the appointment for the following week giving some time for the possibility of improvement.

Lama Rabton prayed for Jia Jia.

The night before Jia Jia’s passing my boyfriend Paul arranged for a Tibetan Buddhist Monk to come to my home and recite prayers for Jia Jia.  It was a beautiful ceremony normally reserved for humans. My sister was there too.  Layla kept licking Jia Jia’s face.  Still, it all seemed surreal.

Next morning Dr. Berkshire, a compassionate vet, came to my home (we wore masks) and examined Jia Jia before we made the final decision.  He suspected Jia Jia either had a brain tumor or a stroke but the only way to be sure would be to give him an MRI which meant he’d have to be knocked out and possibly not survive. He explained the few options available. So we made the final decision to have him humanely put to sleep based on his lack of quality of life and the unlikely chance he would improve.

One last slow, steady walk along the Kits Point, Vancouver Dog Beach – his favorite place. Photo: Lisa King

Dr. Berkshire was wonderful and took his time, let us have some alone time and was very gentle all the way through until the very end.  Lynn, Jia Jia’s ex-owner who had since become my friend, was here too, along with Lisa, my sister, and Layla.  We did Jia Jia’s paw prints.  I held Jia Jia while Dr. Berkshire gave him a needle and put him to sleep.  It was all very fast. Finally, wrapped in a baby blanket, Jia Jia was taken out in a stretcher to be cremated on his own.  You’re given a choice whether to have your dog cremated with other dogs or by themself. I wanted his ashes.

Jia Jia saw me through some of the best and worst situations in my life.  Always a bright light by my side to ease the pain of losing a husband and two of my closest girlfriends in the space of a year.  I don’t know how I would have handled everything without him.  It was as if he was my rock.

Layla & Jia Jia on the cast iron bench for Don outside my house. Photo: d. king  It was the day before.  He looked pretty good here.

He’s gone now, however he’ll always be with me in spirit.  It will never be the same.  It will just be different.  I miss him terribly but know in my heart it was the right decision.  I never felt it was a selfless act.  Just compassionate.  I am forever grateful to Lynn for giving me the best gift in my life, and to Jia Jia for giving me a more meaningful life.

Grief is the price we all pay for love

Photo: d. king

We who choose to surround ourselves

with lives even more temporary than our own

live within a fragile circle

easily and often breached.

Unable to accept its awful gaps

we still would live no other way.

We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,

never fully understanding the necessary plan…

The Once Again Prince from Separate Life Times

(Lisa always referred to Jia Jia as her little Prince)

Website for Dr. Jeffrey Berkshire:

* http://liftingstars.ca/

 

 

Please see the following link for an article published by the Vancouver Sun on February 2nd, 2018 on pet euthanasia at home:

https://vancouversun.com/life/relationships/pet-therapy-euthanasia-and-palliative-care-at-home-in-growing-demand/

Hair Story

All Prose.  No Cons.

I couldn’t have predicted it any better or worseThe timing that is…and the fact that my hair would lose some of it’s natural lustre and manageability.

Who would have thought that I could have hair products customized specifically for me, with my name on the bottle? just in case anyone who comes over makes the mistake of using them. Never mind the length and the roots.  That’s another story. 

Early in March, at the very beginning of learning about Coronavirus, I received an offer I could not refuse.  It came from a company I hadn’t heard about before.  But it got my attention.  Because…well..custom made and all…

As far as beauty products are concerned, hair products were always at the very bottom of my list. Not sure why that was but I would use pretty much anything. It was never a priority like skincare and makeup was. But now that’s all changed.  I’ve become a prose convert.

Photo: d. king

Created in Paris.  (Gotta trust the French when it come to these things).  Bottled in Brooklyn.

I was intrigued.  The people at Prose got my attention with not so little details such as…clean, cruelty free ingredients, refillable bottles, thought to packaging, guidelines for how to use each product and finally; scent. The customization process even includes the aroma profile you can choose, which ranges from floral to citrus to woodsy. My oil has an amazing almond scent. You are one in a million.  So is your hair.

Let me tell you.  You have to first fill out an application longer than one for a job interview from what I can remember about job interviews and answer all kinds of questions regarding the quality of your overall hair condition and health in general.  

Questions like how much hair regularly falls out and how much of your scalp is shown when hair is parted down the middle? This apparently tells you about your hair density. Even diet. Yes! All the answers help to formulate each product exclusively to your needs.

My lineup. Photo: d. king

The whole Prose line is customized to your specific hair.

It’s amazing.  My hair life as changed. Find out for yourself. Here’s the link:

https://prose.com/

Ask for a discount and tell them where you heard about it.

Hairs to You!