Vista D’Oro

A day trip to Vista D’Oro Farms & Winery in Langley, B.C., is like taking a step back in time.

Tamara and I met with Patrick, a winemaker with old-world techniques, who introduced us to the farm overlooking the vineyard and an amazing view of the Golden Ears Mountains. Hence, the golden view or, for those with an Italian influence, Vista D’oro.  Now there’s a name!

Patrick in the tasting room

We toured the barnyard complete with resident owl and elegant chandeliers.

Then over to the antiquated boutiquey tasting room where we got to try a flight of five varietals from heritage orchard fruits and vinifera grapes all grown on the property. All available for purchase in the Farmgate shop in the form of either wine or preserves.

Speaking of preserves…do you know that there’s 101 uses for their preservatory preserves?  I cannot describe them all in this post but I’ll give you a few samples.

I was already familiar with the ones sold at our local wine + cheese shop and used as a staple either on their own, or added to a cheese platter (2 uses right here, you’re welcome!).  The fig + walnut wine was my go-to for a long time but I hadn’t had it for a while.  I left with another jar and one peach with jalapeño  + tequila which was excellent and for the first time I tried the small batch mango-lime salsa. I added it to a burger last night and let’s just say the burger was much better for it.  They’re all excellent. Tamara left with the Driveway. No; not the actual driveway…It’s a bottle of red wine called “Driveway” (one of 3) but that’s another story.

Vista D’Oro is also famous for making delicious fortified wines such as the 2015 Walnut Wine and 2007 D’Oro Vin de Garde (with notes of current and butterscotch). We always learn something new.  Patrick referred to the apple cider as apple wine.  In the style of Normandy to Brittany, France – that is the correct name.

Ciders with names like “smoked tea” and plum brandy are seasonal and will be available soon. 

 

 

Which means we’ll have to come back.  I Look forward to that.

 
Charlie + Layla gave the place two paws up!

Photos: d. king

Header: taken from website      Owl: taken from Vista D’Oro Instagram Account

 

Celebrating the genius of Van Gogh

Once upon a time in Arles I found myself sitting in a Café Terrace along with my late husband Don. It is a memory that I will treasure forever. It was as if we were in a dream. On that starry night it became clear to me how someone could be so inspired to paint.  It was here in Arles, a city on the Rhône River in the Provence region of southern France (once a provincial capital of ancient Rome), that Vincent Van Gogh famously found inspiration to paint.

Yes; it was exactly as in the famous painting.  Except for the plumbing, nothing had changed.

IMAGINE you are in a dream, and in that dream you find yourself surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery you’ve ever envisioned while listening to hauntingly beautiful symphony. And as you move along, the scenery keeps changing and you’re engulfed by images that transport you to another time and place.  A place you would prefer to stay in for as long as you can. A place with sunflowers, sunshine, cafes, color, possibilities and extremes. 

This, in so few words, pretty much sums up Imagine Van Gogh that is now taking place at the new convention center in downtown Vancouver. An exhibit unlike any other. 

On this page you get a glimpse of the works (all photos taken by me – d. king) although it’s much better to be there in person for the total sensory experience.

After a tremendous success in Paris, Imagine Van Gogh opened in Montréal in 2019 followed by Québec and Winnipeg in 2020, and Vancouver, Edmonton and Boson in 2021. Visitors discover more than 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings, including his most famous works, painted between 1888 and 1890 in Provence, Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise.
For tickets:
 

Spring Mix

A sprinkling of what’s coming off the runway…

Street Style at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2021
Street Style at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2021

What’s on the runway always gets incorporated into something more wearable, at least for the majority of us.  So just like a flower blossoms for its own joy, so should we wear what makes us happy. Remember; trends come and go – style is eternal.

Looking forward to lighter, brighter days ahead!

“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.” —Lauren Hutton

“We must never confuse elegance with snobbery.” —Yves Saint Laurent

“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression and, above all, attitude.” —Iris Apfel

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” —Gianni Versace

Wining & Dining at Chaberton

We’re pretty spoiled living here in British Columbia.  We’re blessed with a.bun.dance…a very large quantity of something. We live sandwiched between ocean and mountains with no shortage of sports. It doesn’t get much better.

Photo: Paul Lemay

But speaking of sandwiches…Vancouver is a foodie city.  Condé Nast Traveler named it one of the best food cities in the world. And for a lot more than just a sandwich.  More on this some other time.

We’re also known for wine. Of course it’s better to be here to enjoy the full experience as many wineries (and there are a plenty) do not ship outside B.C.  And the few that do, do not ship all their supply as for the most part they’re smaller batch lots. Which in turn makes the tasting experience that much more personal.

For those of you familiar with wines of British Columbia you probably know about the Okanagan wine region – located in southern British Columbia, and one of the warmest regions in all of Canada.

Having said this, we have several local wineries closer to our home in Vancouver.  And bit by bit we’re exploring all of them.  For this post I’ll focus on Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley, B.C. – about 45 minutes outside Vancouver.

Catherine, our knowledgeable wine server
Tribute Fortified Wine

Langley is a part of the Fraser Valley wine region, which produces high-quality and hand-crafted wines with different styles and varieties. The fertile farmland around the city, especially in the Fraser Valley, is home to many historic orchards and fruit fields that grow berries.

The terroir in South Langley is similar to that of some of the best wineries in Northern France, making it the ideal place to grow a range of different cool weather grapes.  The history of the winery dates back to 1975 when the founders, Claude and Inge Violet sold their winery and vineyard in France and decided to start their next chapter in the “New World”.  So I suppose this means we are considered “New World Wine” with still a way to go.  But if you weren’t already aware of this, you might not even be able to tell. 

If wining were a sport we would win the gold medal.  Actually, we kind of treat it like a sport.

Tamara and Me

Tamara (my partner in wine and crime) and I enjoyed a deluxe private tasting last week before a delicious lunch at their award winning French inspired bistro.  Rated by the Vancouver Sun as one of the top 3 al Fresco dining restaurants in Vancouver, the Bacchus Bistro with a vineyard view, serves authentic French cuisine prepared with local ingredients and a West Coast flair. Coupled with a glass of wine, it was superb.  Tamara had Gamay Noir and I had late harvest Chardonnay.

Bacchus Bistro mussels were the best in the west.  The other stuff was pretty good too (Ling cod in a saffron sauce, seafood crepes, scalloped potatoes au gratin).

After our tasting we both agreed that our favourite white is their estate grown Siegerrebe (a grape grown primarily in Germany) – hand picked right from the Langley Estate.  The flavour is bursting with honeydew melon and mango notes, with fresh grapefruit and velvet feel on the palate.  We bought a few bottles from the wine shop on our way out.

On a nice day you can enjoy a tasting flight at an outdoor picnic table.

As we tend to say upon leaving a place we want to re-visit…We’ll be back.”

Chaberton Estate Winery

 

Elements of Design – Residential Art & Architecture

If you love style, architecture & design, here’s a unique and fun way to kill a little time while getting a luxurious dose of total home inspiration…

T. Jones Groups – Elements Estate, Vancouver

Focusing on the residential sector, we step into the world of luxury and extravagance to celebrate the best in design, outstanding architecture, interior design and product designs.

I loved perusing through all the categories of the International Design & Architecture Awards and then placing my vote for “best of” in each respective category.  You can too, until March 19th (link below).

Who are they?

The International Design & Architecture Awards, are hosted by design et al, a leading UK interior design magazine. Their aim is to commend design, recognize talent, create opportunities and quite simply to offer inspiration.  That to say the least, is an understatement.

These Awards are not judged by a panel. Shortlisted entries are presented online, and voting is open to industry professionals as well as design et al readers, clients and customers. Only 16 projects are shortlisted per category. A unique part of their voting system is that votes have to be cast in every single category, which in turn, gives all shortlisted projects maximum publicity from international industry professionals.

T. Jones Group – Elements Estate,  Vancouver

I’m delighted to learn that Amanda & Cameron Jones (friends of mine and my sister from T Jones Group) have received 5 nominations for their @elementsestatevancouver project.  Looking through the photos we can see why.

Amanda & Cameron Jones

Elements Estate has received 3 Interior Designs Category nominations;
Cat. 13 – Kitchen over £150,000
Cat. 18 – Best Living Space
Cat. 29 – Residential Project Value over £5 million


Plus 2 Property Category nominations;
Cat. 4 – Luxury Residence
Cat. 19 – Residential Value £10 million +

A bit more on T. Jones Group and some of their amazing projects:

T. Jones Group. Elements, Vancouver

T. Jones Group represents their clients From Conception to Completion.

When you are surrounded by beautiful scenery, the standard for every project is raised. Vancouver, British Columbia pushes that standard to its absolute limit. The sights are breathtaking. Inspiration is everywhere.

And yet, the T Jones Group builds homes that set them apart from their neighbors. The passion brought to every project is sustainable because the goal remains the same: Learn what the client truly wants, and build it better than they ever imagined.

I love this…

The T. Jones Group has built a foundation dedicated to philanthropy. The Jones Family Foundation.

A project most near and dear to us has been building a four story residency in Tanzania for young women in school in the medical field. We also funded the building of fresh water for the town.

See link below for more info. on Tanzania project:

International Design & Architecture Awards Voting is NOW open until this Friday MARCH 19TH

https://www.thedesignawards.co.uk/category/design-architecture-entrants-2020/

Home

 

Healthy Choices

Making Good Choices in the Time of COVID-19

For this post I’ve collaborated with Pyure Brands who have a blog of their own called “Sweet Talk Blog” (link below). As you may know, Pyure is a line of plant-based, sugar substitutes for people who insist on the best for themselves and those they love. This post is in keeping with my Sunday Supplement which incorporates ways to improve and maintain an overall healthy immune system which includes everything from taking the best vitamin supplements to wise healthy food and lifestyle choices.

At the peak of the pandemic, there were new guidelines seemingly every day to help us stay safe and lower our risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19. Today, the advice is clear. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask (where required) and keep your distance from others.

There are other ways you can make healthy choices beyond virus prevention: changes to your diet, exercise and mindset. These lifestyle changes may not completely prevent your risk of catching coronavirus, but they can boost your immune system, help keep your spirits high and make your body stronger for whatever life throws at you. Here are some simple changes you can make to stay fit and healthy in the midst of a pandemic.

Focus on good nutrition

There are many reputable research studies that have found a link between a well-balanced diet and a strong immune system. Pandemic aside, it’s useful to start building healthy nutrients into your diet so your body is ready to ward off everything from the common cold to COVID-19. Here are some simple changes you can make to your diet.

Switch to sugar alternatives

We know sugar can have negative consequences for our long-term health and is a contributing factor for diabetes and obesity. But some studies have shown that sugar can also decrease the effectiveness of white blood cells – a critical part of our immune system that fights infection. Eating lots of sugar can actually decrease your body’s ability to ward off the bad stuff.

That doesn’t mean you should stop production on all that quarantine comfort baking! There are plenty of better-for-you sugar alternatives that can make your tasty treats even better. Stevia is one sugar alternative that we love – and Pyure Organic Stevia is one of the only organic stevia brands out there. Stevia is a sweetener that’s zero glycemic (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar), zero-calorie and free from any of the chemicals used to create artificial sweeteners.

Add in a few supplements

In addition to cutting out the bad stuff, you can also add in some minerals and probiotics to make your immune system even stronger – and able to fight off threats. We get most of these minerals through eating a balanced diet, but many of us are deficient in the so-called “Big Four” that help our immune system:

  • Zinc: This mineral is critical for the development and function of immune cells, yet 79% of us are deficient in zinc. Studies have shown that “80–92 mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%.”
  • Magnesium: This so-called “master mineral” is involved in processes like producing energy and building important proteins. Your body needs magnesium to function properly, and most people should aim to take 400 – 450 mg per day.
  • Selenium: This mineral acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation in the body and improve immunity. You can get selenium through foods like fish, eggs and mushrooms.
  • Iodine: This mineral boosts your thyroid gland, which produces hormones that directly impact your immune system. Too much iodine can be a bad thing, so be sure to consult with a doctor before adding in an iodine supplement.

The more proactive you can be about building a healthy immune system, the better! Luckily, many of these minerals can be found by adding some new ingredients to your grocery list.

Eat your leafy greens

Feeding your body with the good stuff is an easy way to keep out the bad stuff. We’ve all heard that citrus is full of Vitamin C and can help ward off the common cold – these foods can also make a big difference in your health:

  • Red bell peppers: These veggies contain almost 3 times as much Vitamin C as a Florida orange.
  • Broccoli: It’s packed with Vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and many other antioxidants.
  • Spinach: rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene
  • Plain yogurt: Look for the unsweetened kind, which is packed with Vitamin D to help regulate the immune system (and add a little Pyure on top to make it taste great!).
  • Kiwi: These little green guys are high in folate, potassium, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.

These are just a few foods that are great additions to your diet – there are many more out there that can give your immune system a little extra power.

Stay active, even at home

With many gyms closed and workout classes canceled, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active – but every little bit counts. “Inactivity is an important risk factor similar to high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol,” reports the American Society for Nutrition.

Regular physical activity supports your immune system and your mental health (more on that in a minute). It’s also a big part of protecting your health from long-term, chronic issues like heart disease and high blood pressure.

If you’re not sure where to start with an at-home workout, think about what it is you would like to improve. Do you want stronger arms? Better flexibility? More aerobic capacity? From there, you can find a workout plan that works for you. Aim for 15 to 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise and build from there. Check out YouTube and Instagram for free at-home yoga classes, circuit workouts and bodyweight strength-training to keep your routine varied and interesting.

Don’t ignore your mental health

Mental stress can put your body in physical distress, as anxiety takes a big toll on the body. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking care of your mental health. Immune system activation alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects the innate and adaptive arm of our body’s defense system. Many of us are juggling working from home, caring for family and many other parts of life, but getting a good night’s sleep – that’s seven to eight hours for adults – should be a priority.

There’s also evidence to support the idea that meditation can improve your immune system. Meditation can not only improve your sleep, but it can also help you manage stress and anxiety. Take 20 minutes out of your day to do some deep breathing, relax and calm down your nervous system. Your body will thank you!

Check out some of our favorite recipes that use Pyure Organic Stevia for some healthier at-home baking inspiration.

Sweet Talk Blog:

https://pyureorganic.com/sweet-talk/

Happy International Women’s Day

I want to acknowledge this special day in celebration of all womenthe better half of the world’s population.

Having said that, there are a bunch of women in my life worth paying special tribute to. They’re women of strength, courage, intelligence, integrity, creativity, capability, beauty, talent, style and fun with a capital “F”… as shown here in photos of me with them (and a few without me).  But one thing is for sure… they’re all simply fabulous!

with Alex, Elizabeth & Ramona at The Tropicale, Palm Springs.
with Tammy & Kathy at a fashion show in Palm Springs.
with Rosa at Sandbar, Vancouver.
with Lisa (my sister) at home.
with Renée (my ex sister-in-law) at Pinky’s (now Romer Burger), Vancouver.
with Lynda on Robson (watching Pride Parade from her balcony).
with Lisa
with Susanne at The Naam, Vancouver.
with Margeaux at the Planetarium, Vancouver.
with Ryoko & Margeaux in Castlegar, B.C.  – at Margeaux’s beautiful resort-style  home overlooking the river.
Two Tramps.  With Tamara (or; Tramara) on the Tram, Palm Springs.  I know, it’s a silly one.
with Natalia in Palm Springs.
With Natalia at Lulu’s, Palm Springs.
with Jenni at Roadhouse, Palm Springs.
with Stacey & Jen at a restaurant on Main St., Vancouver.
with Ann Marie at the Revel Room in Gastown, Vancouver.
with Lynn in Palm Springs.
with cousin Liz in a tree – Vancouver.
with Joanne on Galiano Island, B.C.
Rosa & Louise (Louise’s birthday at Colleen’s).
with Tracy at Asia SF, Palm Springs.
with Tamara & Cassandra on a blueberry farm in Richmond, B.C.  (The picking was plentiful).
with Candy, Claudia, Tracy & Rhonda at the Riviera (now Margaritaville), Palm Springs.
chilling with London-based Masako at Colleen’s.
with Masako at a Boutique Hotel, Vancouver.
Celeste, Kiki & Candy at “A Curated Collection” – Palm Springs.
Joselle (had just met her but nonetheless) at “A Curated Collection” – Palm Springs.
Donna & Llana (two of the most capable women I know) in Palm Springs.
Angie (in middle) with Jackie (L) and Colleen (R).
with Anik, Tamara & Jolie at The Victor, Vancouver.

This year’s IWD theme is #ChooseToChallenge, with the following shared on the official #IWD2021 website: “A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.

with Tammy (Valley of the Dolls) in Palm Springs.

Here’s to ALL OF US making Herstory!

Tracy & Candy at Asia SF, Palm Springs – the last outing before Covid shutdown.

Below are two friends gone way too soon.  I miss them both terribly.

with Jackie and her cheshire grin in Gastown, Vancouver.
with Colleen at the Sailing Club, Vancouver.

ps: If you’re my friend and you don’t see your photo here it’s only because I don’t have one (if so, what a shame).  Please send me one for next time – with or without me in the photo (but preferably with).

 

 

At Kits Days on 4th – with Colleen, Robyn & Stacey.  Always a fun meet-up with music & shopping and friendship.

Red and Near InfraRed Light Therapy

Is Red Light a Missing Nutrient for our Health?

This Sunday addition to my blog is about more than how specific vitamins can help support our immune system, especially during Covid.  It’s also about improving overall health in general.  Because we can’t get every nutrient our body needs from food alone, we supplement with… specific supplements.  Vitamin D is getting recognized by mainstream doctors as a preventative for viruses and the dosages are being properly upped.

Which brings me to another light-associated nutrient worth discussing, namely Red and Near Infrared Light. Yet unlike Vitamin D, this nutrient isn’t available in pill form. It’s something I’ve been curious about and it’s something I’ve been using for back massage for several years, but now I’m trying it on my face.  I’ve been using a device from Melbourne, Australia called the “Hive” by BLUBlox (link below). 

Peer-reviewed scientific research has shown Red Light & Near Infrared Light therapy has anti-aging effects on our skin, it can help combat a number of neurological diseases, help fight depression and anxiety, it can help increase fat loss, speed recovery from exercise, improve your sleep, increase muscle strength and endurance, combat some autoimmune conditions, fight hair loss, and speed healing from injury, and all with few to no negative side effects.

I just listened to a podcast with Dr. Michael Hamblin; a recently retired dermatology professor at Harvard Medical School. He gets into all of the therapeutic applications, among which are skin burn therapy, beauty salon applications in skin rejuvenation and hair regrowth on thinning scalps. It is used in physiotherapy to help speed the healing of injured or inflamed tendons, ligaments, and muscles as a result of exercise. And to my surprise, the interviewer spoke about red light as a nutrient.

But what I liked most about the interview was Hamblin’s comments about Red and Near InfraRed Light being used to treat both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Diseases, which have no other significant treatment options; and his comments about the 4th state of water, which he called nano-structured water (@ ~27:38).

The link to this interview is below with a few other reputable links should you want to check them out.  I personally find this very fascinating.  The light also feels pleasingly warming on the skin.

Link to podcast interview with Dr. Michael Hamblin, a Harvard dermatologist and one of the world’s leading researchers on the topic: https://blog.humanos.me/red-light-missing-nutrient-for-health-podcast-michael-hamblin/ 

Link to a peer-reviewed science paper on the topic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066074/

this is the device

Link to the Hive Near-Infrared and Red Light unit that I’ve been using:  https://www.blublox.com/collections/red-light-device 

Of course there are other device makers, such as Joov and VieLight that you can check out.

Send me your thoughts on this.  Have you tried it?

I Care, A Lot

I’m just here to help… because movies are one of life’s little pleasures and if they include a messageall the better.  This movie certainly does.

Rosamund Pike just won the Golden Globe for best actress in a Musical or Comedy.  I Care, A Lot is a new black comedy (now showing on Netflix in the USA & Amazon Prime in Canada).  The trailer piqued my interest.  That and knowing that both Dianne Wiest and Peter Dinklage are supporting actors in this timely movie. In fact, just saw a news story last night about eerily reminiscent misconducts in care homes addressed in the film.

On Netflix

In light of a recent conversation between my boyfriend and my brother and the fact that so few people are making effort to question or think about what they are being told, sometimes the best way to get them to think is to talk about a film.

Films are often ways to reach people who are trying to “escape” their reality… which is to say, to be entertained without having to think. But whether we like it or not, films actually do make us think about topics we might not otherwise ever think about, whether it be the drug smuggling trade (Queen of the SouthNarcos and El Chapo), the espionage world (e.g. James Bond and the Bourne trilogy of films), the world of grief and loss (Manchester by the Sea), or the fanciful world of royalty and privilege (The Queen, The Crown series, the Downtown Abbey series), or the world of high finance (e.g. the series Billions, and the films Wall Street, the Wolf of Wall Street, and the Big Short…)

What they all have in common is that they transport us into a world that allows us to better feel what it would be like to be in that world.

What the “I care a Lot” film is about is just how ruthless the “care” business can be. And this doesn’t just apply to vulnerable seniors. It also applies to doctors and the medical profession. That’s what the film Patch Adams with Robin Williams was about. 

There are two types of people in this world.  Predators and Prey!

This has implications for how our society is reacting to Covid. We tend not to question government because we think governments always have our best interests in mind. But if you don’t realize that the policy-making apparatus within so many government departments has been so captured by large corporate players, that it’s easy for them to pervert the science so they can make money. The end point are products unleashed into the market place that have been insufficiently scrutinized.

Peter Dinklage in I Care, A Lot – Neflix

This is what the back-story of “I care a Lot” is all about. It’s about trusting people and officials who are great at giving the impression that they really care, where in reality, their talking the talk is little more than marketing schmooze designed to get we the consumers to buy their questionably reliable products and/or services. This is what sets us up for maximum exploitation.

You can change the world if you care enough.  But you can also change the world if you don’t care enough.

Here’s the Trailer:

https://www.imdb.com/video/vi1114947865?playlistId=tt9893250&ref_=tt_ov_vi

 

 

MARCHing right along

What’s not to love about March?  March puts a Spring in everyone’s step.  Bright, cheerful flowers bring smiles and joy.  Here’s a sampling of what’s beginning to bloom.  

The Daffodil.

The daffodil, which symbolizes new beginnings, is one of the most popular springtime flowers! It is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring.
The first blooms of Spring always makes my heart sing – S. Brown
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Upcoming: 90 minutes north of Seattle, the fields of the Skagit Valley bloom into a quilt of technicolor tulips throughout April each year. As a leading tulip production area in Washington, the Skagit Valley has a unique microclimate – much like the wine production area Woodinville.  I went one year and it was unbelievably beautiful.

 

Extra Reminder…Don’t forget to Spring Forward!

March 1, 2021 is the 60th day of the year 2021 in the Gregorian calendar. There are 305 days remaining until the end of the year… but we really don’t want to think that far ahead right now, do we?