Saturday, April 23, 2005

Big, Brown Bear

Today we went on another one of our mind-blowing cardio rides on the North Shore mountains. We had magnificent sunshine and crisp, fresh mountain air. As it was somewhat early, we nearly had the trails to added bonus.

Being the only lady in the group, I had my work cut out for me trying to keep up with the big boys. I worked my arse off blazing some 26 odd kilometres at top speed, grunting through the climbs and grinning like a kid on Kool-Aid overload as we flew down the hills.

Without warning, a big, brown bear crossed our path and we came to a screeching halt. It appeared to be sizing us up, as all 700 pounds of it stood up on its hind legs contemplating its next move. It was an incredible vision of nature standing only a few meters away and such a shame that none of us had a camera. We made enough noise to satisfy Pooh that he didn't want to bother with us, so off he moseyed down the hill to the riverside.

I'm sure he was singing to himself...

Hum dum de dum, hum dum de dum
I'm so rumbly in my tumbly
Time to munch an early luncheon
Time for something, something sweet

Just another day in our backyard. Big, brown bear, what an extraordinary beast you are!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Whatever the question, shoes are the answer!

It was a sauna down in the basement, only it wasn't filled with aging, half-naked men drooling about some hoochie mama they saw walking down the street. Instead, there were hundreds of shoe-crazed women filling their baskets with whatever size and color they could find. Row after row of espadrilles, pumps, slides, flip flops, strappy stilettos and mules.

Of course I'm talking about day one of the infamous Army & Navy annual shoe sale. Masterful shoppers know how to prepare for the crowds; they wear comfortable, lightweight clothing, slip on shoes and if one must, a handbag although, backpacks are preferable. Cell phones are always handy to report that "got to have" shoe to girlfriends, sisters and mothers who aren't able or willing to go to battle.

One often hears, "It's not the right size, but it's such a good deal, I'll make it work". What's up with that? Flopping around in oversized shoes or worse, squeeeezing one's feet into shoes that are too small - I can see all the podiatrists around the world cringing at the thought. Thinking again, perhaps they see their pockets weighing more, daydreaming about all the potential patients they could have. How many women have closets full of shoes that they don't wear because they don't fit properly, are uncomfortable or just plain ugly (purchased at a moment of weakness), but own them because they were "on sale"? I was once a victim, but no more...

Today I found kismet sitting on the shelf and calling out my name. They were exactly what I was NOT looking for, but one doesn't know that until they find it. I felt like Cinderella as I slipped my feet into these Dr. Scholl wannabes by Franco Sarto. My perfectly pedicured Barbie pink toes looked beeeyoootiful embraced by these 6 1/2 black denim slides! As I walked up and down the aisles looking for love in all the wrong places, I found nothing else that I fancied. These shoes were destined to be mine, all mine! Fabulous shoes at bargain basement prices; can life get any sweeter?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Greek Gods

There's nothing like a shave and a haircut to perk one up when one is feeling a bit blah. We always look forward to seeing our barber, Nick Mesotopitis and the blokes for our monthly visits. For more than 38 years, Nick has been the icon of The Barber Shop in the West End. I don't know what we'll do when he retires, as most people know, a good barber/stylist is a treasure. Not only is Nick exceptionally deft with a razor, but he's also a very handsome, fine gentleman, whom we are honored to call our friend. I'm quite sure he was an Adonis in his days!

I remember the first time I walked into the shop... the growth on my head was about three weeks old, as I had it mowed off to raise funds for Cancer Research. Since it wasn't growing in evenly, it was time for a "haircut". For more than 20 years I had been going to top salons and paying top dollar to get coiffed and primmed and now I was walking into unfamiliar male dominated territory. I raised a few eyebrows and lowered a few newspapers as I sat down in a chair and smiled nervously while adjusting the Hermès scarf on my head. There wasn't a receptionist or a numbering system, so I had to keep track of who was in front of me. Nick was just returning from his lunch break when I gestured to him that I was up next. A quick shave and a haircut and a bit more than two bits later, I hopped out of the big, old-fashioned red barber's chair carefully, as to not trip on my stilettos.

Since that fateful day of meeting Nick, I have indulged in the liberation of shortly cropped hair. He always pays detailed attention to ensure that not a single hair is out of place and without exception I walk out of the shop with an impeccably shaped do! I have learned that he has buzzed the heads of many a person I've encountered and I continue to rave about him to all of our friends and customers. Nick's the best and it's no secret that I have a crush on him. I forever joke about following him back to Greece during his holidays, for more reasons than a haircut. Who wouldn't want to laze on the sunny Mediterranean beaches and feast upon rosemary and lemon basted lamb roasting on an open spit, while drinking copious amounts of Ouzo? Remember Shirley Valentine?

The Barber Shop 1228 Burrard Street Vancouver, BC 604.688.7032

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Harrison, where are you?

We spent the weekend at Bowen Island visiting some good friends and just HAD to find out if all the buzz about Harrison Ford were true. Did he or did he NOT buy a house on the waterfront for thirteen million dollars? Our doubts were dispelled, as we were informed by reliable sources that it was a fabrication. This is also true of the farfetched story that he in fact bought the whole island and is giving the residents of Bowen until December to move off!

Since there was no sign of this hunky actor or his "petite" lady friend at any of the Bowen hot spots, we moved on in search of adventure. Bikes and gear in tote, we enjoyed a beautiful ride in and about Crippen Regional Park. The glowing sunshine peeking though the trees in the forrest was just a bonus to this incredibly breathtaking island, as we would have gladly accepted the rain all the same. Pungent smells of skunk cabbage contrasted by scents of pine trees and Spanish moss aroused our olfactory senses. By the end of our ride, we were grinning with exhilaration and continued on to The Snug for un café and une pâtisserie.

Now, on to the real reason we journeyed to cook a paella! Doesn't this photo make you lick your chops? Jesee's paella is quite the crowd pleaser and he comes from a family of paella competion winners that included both his father and younger brother back in Mallorca.

Preparing this meal was not without incident. The "chef" managed to cut his hand with a slip of the knife and it was not a pretty sight. It was serious enough that it warranted suturing, so off we went back into town to find a medic to sew him up. Being that it was the weekend and a small town, it was a little more challenging. After much running around, we finally were able to find the good doctor on call with the help of the pharmacist. As it turned out, Dr. Ocana is a fellow Spaniard and mountain biker, so of course we were in good hands! A severed artery explained the gushing fountain of blood, but I wasn't going to be a widow just yet. A few stitches later, we were out of the office and sped along the rolling hills back to the other side of the island to resume the prep of this national Spanish dish. My dear, Harrison, it's too bad you weren't around because the paella was fantástica!

A note to our loyal clients...

"Don't fret, the artist can still create!"

Friday, April 08, 2005

Chocolate martinis...mmm

Backstage at the fashion show it was pandemonium. Dresses, shoes, petticoats and jewelry flying around everywhere. Grade 12 students transformed into beautiful models squeezing into evening dresses with corsets, trying not to stain them with their make-up and secretions of salty water.

With the exception of hair and make-up, there were no professionals, only a few parent volunteers. Unfortunately, there were just not enough hands.

Then there was us. Just me and two of my gal pals who I roped into helping me with accessorizing the models. I was organized with photos of the models and of the dresses that they would be wearing and noted their neck sizes. I ensured that every piece of jewelry perfectly complimented their ensembles. They looked fabulous!

The emcees announced away and the models strutted their stuff down the catwalk, or so they tried. It was their first time and this by any means was not a production of "America's Top Model".

The chaotic evening of giddy girls laughing, screaming and crying from nerves and some from euphoria came to an end as the emcees thanked the audience, the teachers, the volunteers and the generous contributions from the sponsors. Here comes our moment...wait, I didn't hear them thank Izzy and Buds. I immediately brought this oversight to their attention and they tried to slip it in, but people were already leaving their seats and all that was audible was the muffled voice of the emcee.

Our whole purpose of doing this event was to gain some exposure with a different demographic for our business. We donated several door prizes and hours of time and energy and we didn't even get one customer from this fiasco!

After carefully packing up all the jewelry and saying good-bye to the models, we headed out for a much needed cocktail. Ergo, the discovery of the chocolate martini(s). Damn, those things are soooo good! It eased the pain of the train wreck and reminded us not to do this again.

  *Note to self...IF ever invited to do shows like this again, close eyes,   smack lips and savour the taste of the chocolate martini! Thank you Karli for introducing me to this wicked concoction.

You lose!

One of the things that I always try to stress to shoppers is that if they see something that they really like, then they should not hesitate to buy it. Each design is an original and we don't usually replicate them, except by special request.

Here's an example of what happened at the St. Thomas Aquinas show in November. A mother and daughter came to the table and were admiring a pair of chandelier earrings. They ooohed and aaahed for several minutes and then left the table.

Shortly after, another woman came by and had admired the same pair of earrings the day before. She went home and couldn't stop thinking about them, so returned the very next day to buy them. As fate had it, they were still there and she was one very lucky and happy customer!

Another five minutes had passed and the mother returned to the table, this time without her daughter. She came back to buy the earrings for her daughter as a gift, but it was TOO late, as I had just sold them! The look of disappointment on her face was a bit disheartening.

If it's love at first sight and you believe that those earrings are destined to be yours...why risk an opportunity to own them, unless you're a gamblin' kind of girl?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

CALGON take me away!

People often ask us how they should clean their jewelry. We are more than happy to share these simple and economical cleaning tips that we ourselves use at home.
  • Take a small bowl and line with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Alternatively, you could use an aluminum plate leftover from last night's take-away.
  • Add one tablespoon each of Calgon Water Softener and salt into the bowl. 
  • Add very hot water, but not hot enough to burn you and only just enough to cover the jewelry.  
  • Stir to dissolve.
  • Dunk your silver jewelry into the bowl. It is important that the silver be in contact with the foil and covered by the water. You will see results in about 10 seconds. If it is badly tarnished, try using a toothbrush to loosen the dirt and soak again.
  • Rinse with warm water and rub with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Remember that the best way to keep your jewelry beautiful and sparkly is to wear it. The natural oils from your skin will help to keep it shiny, so wear them often!

Since a girl can not and SHOULD not wear all her jewelry at once, be sure to store your precious baubles in a jewelry box lined with a soft-textured material. This keeps them free from scratches and protects them from the constant exposure to air, which is what causes the silver to oxidize in the first place.

*Please note that this is not recommended for jewelry made with precious or semi-precious stones.