Drink Local – the Cider House Rules

Cider has come a long way baby…

The Cider House – Kits   Photo: d. king

…plain old apple cider, while still nicely refreshing, is so last century.

Photo: d. king

Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood welcomes a new player to the vicinity with Vancouver’s first cider tap house and eatery…aptly named The Cider House.  We’re lucky to have them.

Photo: Tamara Gauthier

 I went to their soft opening last Friday with my friend Tamara and we were both pleasantly surprised to see their extended selection.  In fact I wasn’t sure which cider to sample first so I decided to go with a flight of four different types from their extensive tasting menu.  Blackberry Hibiscus, Rosé , Passion Fruit and Oak Aged. All made in house; all excellent.  Tamara sipped on  their local apricot cider.

The food menu looks good too, but I’ll have to go back.  For their opening they ordered pizza from Virtuous Pie on Main St.  Can’t complain.

Me taking a photo of a pretty patron. Photo: Tamara Gauthier
Photo: d. king

The Cider House offers something fresh, good menu, casual charm, welcoming staff, friendly clientele and the location…

Courtenay & Stephanie. Photo: d. king
Photo: Tamara Gauthier
The location. Photo: d. king

Need I say more?  Check them out!

The Cider House

1602 Yew St.



Table Talk: Coffee Tables

Let’s talk about the significance of the coffee table.  A focal point in your living room which serves a purpose.  It can either enhance or detract from the surrounding area.

briers home décor . Photo: d. king

How many people have coffee tables in their living rooms?  Almost everyone we know.  After all, you need something to set your cocktail glass or hot beverage down between sips. Because when was the last time you had an actual cup of coffee sitting on it? Right…didn’t think so.  And if for nothing else, it’s a perfect place to showcase that gorgeous coffee table book. Or maybe a reason to buy a coffee table book.

Perfect side table – briers home décor . Photo: d. king

Recently I wanted to change my living room coffee table from using a matching ottoman to my sofa (with cut glass to fit over top) for something different and smaller.  That’s because I decided to use the ottoman for something else..what it was originally intended for – an area to put your feet up and get comfy.  I also just had my carpet cleaned and the large ottoman covered up a lot of the carpet.  So I went on a hunt and found something that I felt worked for the smaller area and opened up the space and did not cover up the carpet.  A carpet I bought in Cairo and felt did not deserve to be hidden.  This clear tempered glass is perfect for a see-through look.

Photo: d. king
Originally there were 3 tempered glass tables which fit into one another. For time being I’m using the smallest one for folded towels in my bathroom.
3-piece tempered glass: briers home décor . $380.00
One of the tables. The nice thing is that they’re easily moveable. Photo: d. king

After having searched countless places online, I walked into briers home décor in Vancouver and there it was…the perfect fit.  It was that easy.  Cherie, the owner, suggested I do a blog post on ways to open up smaller spaces.  So this was her idea.  I’ll move along to other furniture options at a later date.

For now, this set of clear nesting tables takes up little visual space, can be stacked together when you might need just a teeny more room and moves around your sofa with ease.  I really like it.

The nice thing about coffee tables is that if you get tired of them it’s pretty easy to change them.  Certainly a lot easier and much less expensive than buying a new mattress or sofa.

briers home décor. Photo: d. king

We’ll look at a few options below.  But first…

A little history:

It began in 1652 when the first coffee house opened in London. It was so popular that more coffee houses soon opened all over Europe. The cost to enter was a penny and included a cup of coffee.  Wow how times have changed since then!  I just paid $5.50 for a coffee the other day.  That’s why I don’t want to get into the everyday going out for coffee habit and prefer to make mine at home.  I’m digressing…

These tables, called tea tables at first, were tall at 27″ high, compared to today’s coffee tables at 18″-19″ high.

There are no documents from the 17th and 18th century mentioning coffee tables although there are hundreds of references about coffee houses during the time period. It is speculated that the name tea table was changed to coffee table because coffee became more popular than tea.

Today, coffee tables (also called cocktail tables) still share the same location in the living room in front of the sofa. Yet, the shape, size, and functionality have changed vastly.  A few options:

The ottoman as coffee table – a popular choice. Image credit: Mackenzie Schieck

The ottoman as coffee table – a popular choice because it serves two purposes.  You can put a simple tray or have a piece of glass cut to size over top, or put your feet up when you want to.

Who needs a coffee table when you can have an arm rest tray, instead? It requires no additional space in your living room, but offers all of the same benefits as an actual table.

Awesome Arm Rest Wrap Coffee Table – Etsy

Posh but petite, this sophisticated cocktail table from West Elm will fit just about anywhere in your living space. Buy one for setting down drinks instead of a clunky coffee table, or two or three if you need the extra surface area.

Martini Side Table – West Elm $159

This 5-piece coffee table-slash-stool set may be the coolest. Not only does this multi-tasking table offer up plenty of surface space, it seamlessly holds four faux leather stools inside; for all the extra living room seating you’ll ever need.

5 piece Coffee Table and Stool Set – Wayfair $375

Lastly; you can always use something you might already have around the house – something like this vintage chest:

photo: d.king
 This chest doubles to store excess towels in TV room.

So many choices.  

Do you have a favorite?

briers in Vancouver:


Vineyard Vibes

I heard it through the grapevine

Trying to replicate the appearance of an outdoor area like this at home can be challenging.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard Patio, Summerland.  In B.C.’s beautiful Okanagan region.

When I had the desire to create the look and feel of a real vineyard patio I looked to photos and my imagination. Like the ones here, but not exactly.  As you will see.

The familiarity of having visited many wineries in British Columbia’s Okanagan wine region, Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Napa, Sonoma, Lodi & Temecula Valley in California and Tuscany, Italy may have helped.  

A little decadence mixed with naturalness and something to take you away and remind you of vacation.  Remember vacation?  How about stay-cation? That’s the idea I was going for.  I want to enjoy the wine regions of my home.  Specifically the outdoors.  After all, I’m an outdoorsy person!

So sitting in the courtyard area with a glass of wine overlooking my vineyard mural under the ivy instead of actual grape vines felt very relaxing and the next best thing to being at the real deal. 

Although over the years, we discovered the ivy started to slowly get out of hand, growing more and more unruly.  What once appeared striking started to take over the whole area and brought some undesirable pests along the way.  So recently I was bummed to have to remove it away from the beams completely.  A dirty task.

My cozy courtyard – Summer 2019.

It took a little while to get used to the bareness on top of the cross beams where the ivy once was, but on the bright side literally, there’s a lot more light to an area where there was no light for quite some time.  So now I’m re-creating the space once more.

It will still have a vineyard feel but without the vines.  Once it’s finished I’ll take a photo and share it. A new potential and a realization that sometimes doing something out of necessity gives you a chance to create something else. Learning to let go of the familiar in any given area takes courage but it can turn out to be a positive thing. Not necessarily better, just different.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, B.C. They offer some amazing organic vegan wines.  “ALIVE” is a new favorite.

Doing so makes me want to modify a few more areas around my home, inside and out.

Maybe modify is a metaphor for simplifying life in general.  A tiny transformation to keeping it fresh.

Anyone else feel this way?

Next: making the most out of smaller spaces

Life after Lockdown

The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life is challenging. I’m still here. Just not feeling exceedingly motivated to write as regularly as before.  It’s okay.  Only temporary, like everything else.

I’m only beginning to get started after the relaxed pace that resulted from being in lockdown mode from a world wide pandemic that I’m sure needs no more mention.  It’s on the news every night as has been for several months.  The only thing that has trumped that (no pun intended) has been brutal police attacks, protests from black lives matter and the rioting that resulted and is still resulting from that.  Rioting that really has nothing to do with the deserving protests. Black History Month isn’t just in February, It’s year round.

There has been very little to no good news of late. Right now for me no news is good news.  I’m tired of all the negativity.  I’m sure you are too.

Regarding my blog… since my blog endures on fabulous (ha, ha) outings, fashion, food, destinations, etc… and since I haven’t been going out to events, or shopping, or restaurants or anywhere exciting, except my own home, I figured it was a good time to take a break, a good excuse a least.  But as I don’t really need to go anywhere to write, and I still have some stories to share over time…  all that’s missing is being in the right frame of mind to recount them. Not to say I didn’t have other things to take care of and focus on. For instance, my priority was my beautiful 18 year old Sheltie Jia Jia who was in rapid decline and who has since passed away.  

Regarding my Sheltie… a friend recently likened missing a companion to experiencing phantom pain – the amputation of a limb phenomenon. Instead of believing a lost limb is actually still there because its pain is felt, it’s feeling the pain of knowing all that remains is a phantom of what or who has been lost and an awareness that lingers everywhere and in anything that reminds us of them.  It takes time.

Something looks very familiar in the clouds.  Lake Loveland. Loveland, Colorado.  Don’t know who took photo.

And if that wasn’t enough, then came repairs to my home: First a roof repair due to raccoons trying to burrow into it again. Then came replacing two heavy wood beams holding up half a dozen cross-beams in my courtyard, a job made necessary by vines that had grown around those beams and that brought carpenter ants that ate them to fragmenting bits. And then came replacing my 9 year old fridge that was still under its 10 year warranty… except for the only part that needed fixing – thanks to a design flaw in the refrigerating system of this now discontinued LG model.  I couldn’t believe how an otherwise perfectly good fridge failed and had to be discarded. Such a waste! The much older fridge which was here when my late husband and I bought this place twenty years ago (and was old then) is in the garage (because I didn’t want to throw it away) and it still works!  Thank goodness because it was a life saver for a few months. The newer ones, I’ve come to realize, are built to last only so many years – presumably to keep the fridge companies in business.  I’m happy with my new fridge which is needless to say, not another LG.  Like the saying goes they don’t build things like they used to.  

I did my research on all types of fridges as I did with all my home repairs. That’s how I spent the majority of my time during lockdown.  Also because stores weren’t open and people didn’t feel comfortable coming into our homes out of fear of contacting a disease, we had to wait it out – for two months, which seemed like eternity then, but now does not.  That’s when you realize how much we’ve come to take for granted.

It’s nice to finally see restaurants and stores starting to opening up.  I’m sad to see many couldn’t make it and are out of business now.  I’ve also discovered, along with many others, that I’m in no hurry to go shopping or eat out anymore.  Only once did I go to a place very close to me to have dinner and a glass of wine.  A kind of welcome back to business evening.  My hairdresser was my first personal appointment when things opened up, though my dog Layla got groomed even before I did.  Next is the dentist.  These are a few things that were always at our fingertips… until they weren’t.  How spoiled we’ve become.

The sheer audacity of ever having to wait in line to get groceries is disconcerting.  Never in our lifetime have we experienced this sort of disruption to our society, but now we’ve all been given a little taste of what it’s like to be inconvenienced. Of course we don’t like it, and we’re not comfortable with it, probably because it makes us vulnerable.

But what if this became the new way of life? We would have to adjust and adapt. Maybe it’s a good thing we had the experience. Just enough to let us know how lucky we are when compared to what many other people must live with all the time.

There is always hope in the dark.

Rebecca Solnit in her book, Hope in the Dark: “Inside the word emergency is emerge; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.”

Let’s raise a glass to emerging from a situation beyond our control and coming out stronger while being more aware of all possibilities – good and bad. 

Remember danger is real, but fear is a choice.

And let’s try to treat others with the respect they deserve.