Looking for Winter sports gear?…….Try SPORTS JUNKIES!

December 16th, 2013

Around Vancouver you will notice more and more of the locals and visitors will be all bundled up with a big Snowboard or Ski’s under their arms as they make their way up to the local Ski resorts. The Season has begun with a flying start with colder temperatures than what we are usually accustomed to at this time of year, which has been great news for hills as they have been able to get a head start with the Snow making machines. At the time of writing, the majority of the runs at each resort is now open or will be ready and running very very soon.

If you are interested in any of the Winter activities such as Snowboarding and Skiing you may want to find out where the best places are to purchase Winter Sporting Gear, so please check out the list below as these will help you find the best places to purchase or even sell Snow gear for the season.

SPORTS JUNKIES
Sports Junkies have been in operation for 20 years now and are known as one of the most reliable and popular stores in the city that will specifically suit your needs for Winter Sporting Goods.

The list below covers most but not all of what is sold at SJ
Used skis, new skis, used snowboards, new snowboards, used ski boots, new ski boots, cross country skis, cross country ski boots, ski helmets, ski gloves, new ski jackets, used ski jackets, new ski pants, used ski pants, new snowboards, used snowboards, new snowboard boots, used snowboard boots, ski poles, new road bikes, used road bikes, new mountain bikes, used mountain bikes, new hybrid bikes, used hybrid bikes, new commuter bikes, used commuter bikes, new kids bikes, used kids bikes, bike helmets, bike locks, bike parts, bike accessories, bike shorts, bike jackets, and more and more!

SJ will also buy used goods that you would rather sell and leave behind for cash if it is too much for you to take home, a lot of their supplies are purchased from around the globe via closeouts, old inventories, samples, demos and more – anything to get you a great price on gear.

They also offer rentals and leases of skis, snowboards and snowshoes. They also have a busy bike service center as well as a Ski and Board service center in the winter months.

Mount Pleasant
102 Broadway W
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1P3
Phone number (604) 879-6000

WEBSITE: http://sportsjunkies.com/

Where to capture the very best Christmas lights in Vancouver…

December 11th, 2013

December is here, the Snow has arrived and the festive cheer is in full swing on the streets in the West End. We have already seen and listened to some great Brass Bands and Christmas Carols being sung on Davie St and Bute St near the new Park and Rainbow Crosswalk, it is just a few minutes walk away so keep an eye out for the Christmas cheer here…

This is the time of year when all the festivities focus their attention on outdoing each other with the very best lights to dazzle all the family, so here we will tell where to go to get the very best Christmas Light displays…

St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s Lights of Hope
The St Pauls Foundation of Light has been dazzling spectators that walk past the Hospital since 1998 and it is all for a very very good cause.
The aim of the lights is to help raise funds for the hospital itself, so it can purchase the very best medical equipment that it needs, it will enable them to increase funds towards better research and of the course enhanced Patient care for all those in need at St Pauls.
The lights are all assembled by Volunteers and my oh my are they beautiful….If you wish to check out the lights, head down towards Burrard and Davie and walk North on Burrard, it is just a 5 minute walk or so away from the Sunset Inn and Suites.

The hospital has a target goal to reach of $2.2-million – If you wish to help you can make a donation towards the campaign’s fundraising goal, call 604-662-HOPE or visit www.lightsofhope.com.

Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver
It may not seem the best time of year to visit Gardens in the deep of Winter, but wait, we think you should consider this one……The Festival of Lights creates the Gardens into quite a stunning wonderland, it is something that should be on your list when you come here especially as the Van Dusen Gardens are world famous and for good reason!
What is even better, you will be in the company of Elves, Candy-Canes and Hot chocolates to guide your way around this most serene settings.

vand dusen festival of lights map

Website: http://vandusengarden.org/

Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park
We have written about the excellent Christmas train and the bright lights before, but it is that good that we feel it should be recommended a visit to come on down…
Check out Stanley Park like you have never seen before, the kids especially will love this trip out to the enchanted Rain-forest that we are proud to show off in the city.
Partial proceeds from the sale of Bright Nights tickets go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families. $1.4 million has been raised over the past 14 years.

Website: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx

Capilano Canyon Lights
A very popular attraction that is a must see location no matter what time of year, Capilano is quite incredible when all lit up on these very dark nights, it also boasts the largest lit up Christmas Tree too, Standing 46.4m (152 feet) tall the Douglas-fir will be adorned in thousands of sparkling lights…..Woohoo!

Website: http://www.capbridge.com/explore/canyon-lights/

Coal Harbour/Canada Place/English Bay
Although not on an official list a very good idea is to head down to the water as there will be trees, boats and yachts all decorated and decked up for the festive season, a great opportunity to see how the locals dazzle at Christmas time.

December is a busy month for Celestial Sky watching….

December 4th, 2013

Time to geek out again!

There has been a lot of talk in the media as of late about the possibility of a Comet of the Century making a grand appearance this month, yet, as it happens it seems like this particular celestial visitor for many was an incredible dud as it didn’t transpire to be the X factor Comet many had hoped for. However, all is not lost as since the confirmation of Comet ISON‘s demise after it passed perilously close to the Sun there is another Comet to take a look at if you are keen enough!

Move over ISON – Comet Lovejoy is in town!
Comet ISON was clearly the star attraction over the last few weeks, and in all the excitement and attention that was being paid to ISON many astronomers were also paying attention to Comet Lovejoy which is currently gracing our skies in the early hours of the morning very close to The Big Dipper (or otherwise known as The Plough).
For any visitors who come here from the Southern Hemisphere the name Lovejoy may seem to be quite familiar – this is because the Australian and amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy has been pretty good at spotting new Comets over the last few years…notably this one back in 2011 which wowed people in the South with an amazing display before its own ultimate demise – C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy).

Video and pictures of the 2011 Comet Lovejoy.
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/comet-defies-death-brushes-up-to-sun/story-e6frea6u-1226228904311

This has no connection to the current Comet that has a similar name, the current Lovejoy Comet and its official Scientific name is C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) and as we have mentioned before, if you have a keen eye and know your constellations you will find the Comet to be very close to the ‘handle’ of The Big Dipper which is one of the most recognisable constellations to spot.

Please look at the links below to see the final passage of Comet ISON and current pictures and information for Comet Lovejoy.

The last hurrah of Comet ISON: http://www.space.com/23803-comet-ison-fate-visibility-uncertain.html

Comet Lovejoy most recent image


Its location in relation to the Big Dipper

Take a look at Planet JUPITER and the Planet VENUS which are both now shining at maximum Magnitude and at its most striking!
Our Sister planet and the Second Rock to the Sun is now performing a truly stunning display before it slowly starts to move its way pass the Sun and start to fade.

Jupiter which is the ‘daddy’ of all our planets and is now rising higher in the overnight sky, and, as the seasons move by it will be the most dominant feature second only to the Moon. If you are looking at Jupiter on the right day and you have sharp vision, there is a slight chance you will be able to make out some of the Planets largest ‘Moons’ a pair of binoculars will greatly increase your chances of seeing this.

Venus has been gracing our Skies for most of this year and if you look South to South West not too long after Sunset you will see the planet at its most dazzling. Venus is about to start to move towards the Sun as it Orbit brings about the transition from Venus being the ‘Evening Star’‘ where it will wander during the early part of next year to become the veery bright ‘Morning Star’.
As the nights have been unbelievably clear around Vancouver, we do suggest that you wrap up and take a look above you, with the New Moon at its current phase – this means for anyone who loves astronomy will get to see the stars brightly without the Moon stealing the show.
If you are looking at Venus from the open country that is away from any kind of Light pollution, the planets light and glare is so bright that it can actually cast shadows, its over the next few weeks that you may be lucky enough to witness this incredible phenomenon.

The Mighty ORION Constellation and the PLEIADES Star cluster
Now that the darkest days of Winter are well and truly upon us, we do get to witness some of the most stunning and most recognisable structures of the night sky – the most obvious of them are the Constellation of ORION THE HUNTER and the PLEIADES Star Cluster also known to many as the SEVEN SISTERS

Orion is very famous due to the 3 stars that form a straight line and are imagined to be Orions Belt. This is a great constellation to view especially if you are just getting interested in Astronomy. It is also a great chance for you to spot a Nebula with the naked eye. A Nebula is the remnants of a Star that previously died in an explosive fashion, what you are left with is the Gasses and other Elements that the former star stripped away before succumbing – with the Nebula that is located just below the belt of Orion and is the middle fuzzy Star that forms Orions Dagger, f you take a closer look at this object with a decent pair of binoculars you will see that it is in fact not a living Star but a a ball of Red Gas and new baby stars that are have been created from the original material of its expired parent Star. Once you have spotted this, it is easily noticeable with the naked eye alone….pretty cool.

ORION CONSTELLATION

PLEIADES STAR CLUSTER

If this is a subject that you like and would like to visit some tourist destinations with a flare for Science then you really will enjoy visiting SCIENCE WORLD and the H.R MACMILLAN SPACE CENTRE…click on the links below for further information on Exhibits and events…

SCIENCE WORLD: http://www.scienceworld.ca/

SPACE MUSEUM: http://www.spacecentre.ca/

We will finish this blog with some of the latest stunning footage from the International Space Station:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/the-best-space-station-time-lapse-yet-has-an-incredible-1475534367

All that Jazz…..a look at some great venues for live Jazz music.

November 29th, 2013

Vancouver has a very vibrant Music scene and one of the most popular musical joints to visit are the various Jazz bars that are dotted around the area. At the Sunset we do get asked quite a lot ‘Where can we find a great venue for Jazz” so to answer the question we will point you in the right direction here…

Before we get going, one of the reasons we are highlighting the Jazz venues is because of the news that the infamous Cellar Jazz Club run by Corey Weeds will be closing its doors in early 2014 after 13 years of business. This is very sad news for Jazz lovers and its a sad moment in Vancouver as it is yet another long term favorite establishment soon to be gone.

So we encourage any of our guests to check this venue out before its too late, we promise you will not be disappointed.

THE CELLAR JAZZ CLUB – Kitsilano.
One of the most popular Jazz Venues in the city and also run by the great musician Corey Weeds who is known for his award winning Saxophone playing.
Opened way back in 2000 The Cellar has been entertaining the masses 7 nights a week showcasing popular local Jazz musicians and more from the International community. The clubs focus was to highlight the very best of local and Canadian Jazz musicians and in time it has caught the attention of the international Jazz community making it the premier Jazz Venue in Vancouver. It has appeared in ‘Downbeat’ magazine as the best Jazz club for the last 6 years.

Website: http://www.cellarjazz.com/

THE POURHOUSE – Gastown
This venue is fantastic for its famous prohibition period Cocktails, very good food and its decor, the Pourhouse is very much in touch with its turn of the century end of the Victorian era concept, it really embodies the feel, style and look of a building and establishment that was built in 1910.

Every Sunday there is live Jazz that starts at 7pm for you to really soak up the mood and atmosphere of this little Gem in the heart of the Gastown district – the are of which is also a step back in time for us as it is the oldest and most touristic district in Vancouver.

Website: http://www.pourhousevancouver.com/about/music/

THE FAIRVIEW PUB – Fairview/Westside.
Located near Vancouver General Hospital on Broadway this venue host various types of music ranging from Rock to Blues and Jazz.
Jazz nights are every Thursday at a convieniant time beginning at 6pm till 9pm with just a $3 entrance fee. Definitely a venue for the older crowd and Jazz lovers of all ages. Good old fashioned and inexpensive Bar food too.

Website: http://www.fairviewpub.ca/

CENTRAL BISTRO – Denman St – Westend
A great restaurant that is located on the bustling Denman Street area not too far away from English Bay. This is not only a great place to relax and enjoy great food and drinks (great cocktails) it also has some intimate Jazz every Sunday evening – a perfect location to unwind on dark Winters evening at the end of the weekend. It is also a great venue for delicious Brunches too….

Website: http://www.centralbistro.com/events/sunday-jazz.php

Santa Claus Parade, The Nutcracker Ballet and more. Plus a Christmas Cake recipe! (Christmas Events Part 2)

November 20th, 2013

Santa is getting ready for his busy work load next month and that means he will warm up by saying hello to the masses before he gets his head down, to get himself all geared up for festive season he will be paying a visit to Vancouver this Sunday for his annual Santa Claus Parade!

The parade will be happening in downtown Vancouver and it will be starting at Georgia and Broughton St, it will then travel East along Georgia to Howe St, the parade will then turn south on Howe where it will finish not too far away from the Sunset Inn at Howe and Davie St.

As always when Santa is coming to town there will be very large crowds, it is expected that at least 300,000 people will be attending this fab day, 3,500 of these people will be volunteers who will do their very best to ensure that Santa has the best welcome and send off before his duties begin.

Santa really knows how to party, so this year there will be entertainers such as Festive Floats, Choirs to get you in the Festive Cheer, 65 Marching bands and many local community groups participating.
In front of the Vancouver Art Gallery there will be a designated area that will be known as Christmas Square, here you can get your Face Painted, write letters to Santa, Balloon twisting and you can even decorate Ginger Bread men, plus live music to entertain everyone. Once the Parade has finished you should head down to Robson Square Ice Rink where the kids can get their picture taken with Santa

This is also all for a good cause too, there will be a donation drop off zone for the Vancouver Food Bank, the parade has been recognised as one of the leaders for raising fund for the Food bank and since 2004 collected $110,000 and more than 67,380 lbs. of food for families who are in need though-out the Lower Mainland.
It is encouraged that people donate at least a dollar to the Food Bank as this equals to $3 worth of Food for each $1 donation and if you wish to donate food, make sure that it is non perishable.

For further information on the Santa Clause Parade: http://rogerssantaclausparade.com/

THE NUTCRACKER (GOH BALLET)
Probably one of the most famous Ballet’s for the Festive season returns once again to entertain the masses through December.
Prepare to be dazzled by the amazing costumes, choreography and and dramatic set design that the GOH Ballet offers, all danced to the music of Tchaikovsky’s memorable score and performed live by the members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.
The story of the Nutcracker will take you on an unforgettable journey of Clara’s dream as it comes to life, you will embark on her magical journey through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets where she is greeted by the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy, and you will see her battle against the evil mice along the way.

For further information, dates and times: http://gohnutcracker.com/

VAN DUSEN BOTANICAL GARDENS – FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

From December 11th 2013 through to January 4th 2014 4:30 to 9 p.m. each evening , except December 25th when the Garden is closed. A magical experience for the whole family with 1.4 million twinkling lights all in the stunning setting of these beautiful Botanical gardens.

Check out their Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=kF–83rIjSE

And for further information: www.vandusengarden.org

CHRISTMAS CAKE RECIPE
It may seem a tad early to bring out the Christmas cake recipe, but there is a reason! If you like to prepare the cake properly with the appropriate amount of the fine liquor then it is wise that you prepare the cake now, and over the next few weeks add the liquor to the cake between now and Christmas so it turns out great!

Cooking time
Prep:25 mins
Cook:2 hrs, 10 mins Plus cooling
Skill level is easy, Cuts into 12-15 slices
Prepare this fruit cake in advance and feed it regularly with rum, brandy or whisky to build the flavour and keep it moist over the coming weeks for maximum flavour.

Ingredients
1kg mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
zest and juice 1 orange
zest and juice 1 lemon
150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
250g pack butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
100g flaked almonds
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Buy Ingredients

Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

Recipe courtesy of the Good Food Magazine (UK)

Read about the Festive events happening during November and into December. Its never too early to think about Christmas…Part 1

November 13th, 2013

Ok ok so its still November and we are about to talk Christmas, but for very good reason. Although we all know that the Christmas Season really gets going around the mid December mark in Vancouver the festivities begin to get underway come Mid November.

If you are planning to visit us between now and the end of the December then this blog will hopefully help you plan some festive activities for all the family, we do hope that you get to visit some of these awesome events.

NOVEMBER EVENTS

4th ANNUAL VANCOUVER CHRISTMAS MARKET
Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6B 2P1
Fri November 22, 2013 – Tue December 24, 2013

Now running in its 4th year, this is a fun market to get you all revved up and in the full festive spirit of Christmas. At this market you will get to experience the feel and vibe of a traditional German styled Christmas Market with all the goodies you can expect, with lots of delicious foods, drinks and festive items for you to enjoy!

Website: http://www.vancouverchristmasmarket.com

CANDYTOWN – A YALETOWN HOLIDAY FESTIVAL
Throughout the Yaletown District
Saturday November 23 from 12pm – 9pm

Candy Candy Candy all around! Check out the Yaletown district and experience Candy treats like you have never done before, after the success of the Candytown of 2012 the event is returning again this year. At Candytown you will be able to buy some delicious items that will sweeten your mouth-buds you will be able to make your own Candy treats, enjoy sleigh rides, listen to great live music and much much more!!!!

Website: http://yaletowninfo.com/events/candytown/

THE PEAK OF CHRISTMAS – GROUSE MOUNTAIN
At Grouse mountain Ski Hill
Sat November 23, 2013 – Tue December 24, 2013

A host of activities will welcome you at this stunning location right at the very top of Grouse Mountain, here you will get to see Reindeer’s, Santa Clause, outdoor Ice Skating, Sleigh Rides, Carol Singing and Christmas Movies.

Website: http://www.grousemountain.com/

LUMINESCENCE AT THE VANCOUVER AQUARIUM
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6B 3X8

Thu November 28, 2013 – Wed January 22, 2014

Get into the holiday spirit by exploring this celebration of aquatic light. Gaze at a display of 100-plus origami jellyfish, marvel at an electric eel-powered holiday tree & learn how sea creatures create & reflect light. Take a virtual tour through the depths of the ocean with a deep-dive installation & don’t miss the exhilarating 4-D film Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas. Afterwards, continue the journey to a winter wonderland in Canada’s Arctic Gallery & meet Scuba Claus. Admission is $25 for adults, $18 for students, youth & seniors & $14 for children (ages 4 to 12).

Website: http://www.vanaqua.org/

CHRISTMAS AT FLYOVER CANADA
999 Canada Place
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6C 3C1

Fri November 29, 2013 – Mon January 06, 2014

Enjoy the ride of a lifetime from the comfort of your chair at Flyover Canada – here you will get to see Canada as you have never before with a Christmas twist!

Website: http://www.flyovercanada.com/

CANYON LIGHTS AT CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE
3735 Capilano Rd
North Vancouver, British Columbia
V7R 4J1

Sat November 30, 2013 – Sat January 04, 2014

Come visit the worlds tallest Christmas tree at the world famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. Prepare to be dazzled by the thousands of lights glittering throughout the rainforest, across the Suspension Bridge & on CLIFFWALK, the Park’s newest attraction. Also part of the fun – a children’s scavenger hunt, gingerbread cookie decorating, sing-a-long carols with the holiday band & glass blowing.

Website: http://www.capbridge.com/

The mountains have a dusting of snow…Time to think about the North Shore Mountain Ski Resorts!

November 6th, 2013

Earlier in the week Vancouver witnessed the very first dusting of snow high up on the peaks of the North Shore mountains that overlook the city. It’s a nice change to see first hand the beginnings of the impending Winter that will be soon upon us in over a month and half’s time, and we do not complain, when the wet stuff is falling on our heads down here, the White fluffy flakes of snow will be falling in abundance guaranteeing the locals and visitors alike some Winter Alpine fun.

In this blog we will give you a detailed look at the 3 popular Ski Resorts of the North Shore Mountains that dominate the Vancouver Skyline and bring in various visitors from all over the world who love to Ski, Snowboard and more….

CYPRESS MOUNTAIN
A popular resort for Skiing and especially for those who prefer the more challenging runs then this will be the place for you. Cypress Mountain Ski Area is located in the West Vancouver area and is part of the Cypress Provincial Park which is avery popular area for Hiking in the Summer and long distance Skiing in the Winter.

Cypress mountain was also used for certain events during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games that was hosted between Vancouver and Whistler Mountain resorts, the climate leading up to the games had some worried as the weather was unusually warm leading up to the games which had an impact on the amount of Snow on the hills, as the pack was very very low, it was decided that snow would be transported in and extra time was given for the Snow Making machines to salvage the events due – and thankfully it was a success…huzzah! Cypress hosted all of the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding competitions (Moguls, Aerials, Ski Cross, half-pipe, snowboard cross and parallel giant slalom)

The Ski hill have 53 different Alpine Runs and 19 km cross country of trails which are extremely popular for Snowshoeing. Tours are available for many of these activities.

For further information: http://cypressmountain.com/

GROUSE MOUNTAIN
Probably the most well known of all 3 Ski hills, Grouse Mountain sits directly above the city of North Vancouver and is just one Bus Stop away from the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Grouse Mountain is a very popular destination all year round due to its well known hiking paths such as the Grouse Grind and its Summer activities at the top of the peak such as the Lumberjack shows, Eye in the Sky (Wind Turbine) Theater & Restaurant.

Skiing on Grouse is certainly the most popular for all ages and abilities, so if you are a complete newbie then this will be the ideal location for you to fin your feet so to speak, some runs are much more gentle than others.

The resort has 26 runs, half of which are lit for Night Skiing and Snowboarding The most prominent run on the mountain is the Cut, one of two beginner runs, which is easily visible from the Vancouver area. It runs alongside the Screaming Eagle chairlift. East of the Cut are several intermediate runs, which take skiers and snowboarders down to the Olympic Express, which accesses the mountain’s easternmost expert runs, most of which originate from the mountain’s 4,100-foot (1,200 m) peak. Grouse Mountain features three green (beginner), 15 blue (intermediate), six black diamond (advanced) and two double black diamond. There is also an Outdoor Ice Rink located in the Village.

For further information: http://www.grousemountain.com/

MOUNT SEYMOUR
Located above North Vancouver, Deep Cove (a popular area for kayaking in the Summer season) and the Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm waterways The resort has 4 lifts, the Mystery Peak Express quad chairlift, Brockton, and Lodge double chairlifts, and the Goldie Lake covered magic carpet. Seymour also offers great Snowshoeing trails that are very popular with groups or just as a solo excursion.

For further information: http://www.mountseymour.com/

Events to look out for in Vancouver this November 2013

October 30th, 2013

Here is a look at some of the events to delight us during November….tis the season to be Jolly as the festive season begins to influence us at the end of the month….enjoy!

DIWALI FESTIVAL
This annual event that happens in October and November is more commonly known as ‘The Festival of Lights’ Diwali also Deepawali to many has its roots that hark back to ancient India, the festival is a celebration of light and life!

When: October 29 – November 8, 2013.

Website: http://vancouver.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=vancouver&cdn=citiestowns&tm=1339&f=00&su=p284.13.342.ip_p554.23.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=8&bts=0&zu=http%3A//diwalifest.ca/

CHARLES EDENSHAW AT THE VANCOUVER ART GALLERY
One of the most celebrated artists from the Pacific Northwest and recognized as one of the most prolific artists of his day and now in history. Through his Art you will get to see the Haida peoples culture as it is and as it was, you will learn to see how the lives were shaped and hardships that the Haida peoples endured through his creations.

When: October 26, 2013 to February 2, 2014

Website: http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/the_exhibitions/exhibit_edenshaw.html

CHOR LEONI – MEMORY ETERNAL at ST ANDREW’S WESLEY UNITED CHURCH
In commemoration of the fallen during the World Wars this musical and theatrical tribute will lead you on a journey in memory of these terrible events that cannot be forgotten. This journey will inform and unite everyone together.

When: November 11th (Remembrance Day)

Website: http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/events/details/6738

VANCOUVER CHRISTMAS MARKET
The Vancouver Christmas Market is back for its fourth year at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza!
Enjoy our expanded offerings of delicious food items and find your unique Christmas gift! Enjoy seasonal music and a great entertainment program of authentic folk groups!

When: November 22nd to December 24th

Website: http://www.vancouverchristmasmarket.com/

PEAK OF CHRISTMAS at GROUSE MOUNTAIN
Celebrate Christmas in this wonderfully snowy setting at the top of Grouse Mountain, this is a great time to bring the family young and old to kick off the Christmas festivities with plenty on offer to entertain everyone, some features to look out for….SOS Children’s Gingerbread Village, Santa’s Workshop, Visit Prancer, Outdoor Ice Skating, Mountaintop Sleigh Rides and much much more….

When: November 23rd to December 24th

Website: http://www.grousemountain.com/events/the-peak-of-christmas-2013

BRIGHT NIGHTS – STANLEY PARK CHRISTMAS TRAIN
During the holiday season, Stanley Park sparkles with two million twinkling lights, decorating the darkness that comes early at this time of year.

When: End of November till Early January (Closed Xmas day)

Website: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx

Indulge yourself at the Festival of Chocolates, and make some Brownies too….

October 23rd, 2013

On these cold foggy fall days that we are currently experiencing in Vancouver, its time like this when its just nice to curl up with a Hot Chocolate as the fog drifts by. As it happens, this is also the time when the annual ‘Festival of Chocolates’ festival comes to the city, what can be better than a festival that lets us indulge in one of the most popular delicacies around. We do not know many that do not enjoy chocolate.

This festival showcases the very best chocolates around, you will get to experience a wider range of varieties and will also get to learn how to make various chocolate recipes and more…..if you are interested in the Culinary world and specifically the sweeter side of cooking, then this will be the festival for you!

For more information, please check their website to see what is happening
http://www.festivalofchocolate.ca/

And to get you into that chocolate mood, how about trying out this recipe…

Ultimate Chocolate Brownie
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons golden flax meal

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda

7 Tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
¾ teaspoon salt

¼ cup boiling water

1 ½ cups sugar
6 Tablespoons (80 grams) Regular Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine, melted (not tub margarine)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1) Prepare the flax meal, your oven and your baking dish
In a small mixing bowl whisk together the water and flax meal. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture gets goopy. Place your oven rack on it’s lowest position and preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper allowing excess parchment paper on opposite sides so you can pull the brownies out of the baking dish later.

2) Whisk together the four and baking soda
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour and baking soda. Set aside.

3) Mix the vegan brownie dough
In another medium mixing bowl add the cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate, espresso powder and salt. Add the boiling water and using a spoon, mix in the ingredients into a paste, making sure that all of the chocolate pieces are melted. Add the sugar, Vegan Butter, vanilla extract, flax meal mixture from Step 1 into the chocolate mixture and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in the walnuts if you’re using them. Using a spoon, mix in the flour until well combined. The mixture will become extremely thick and you may need to use your hands to mix. Refrain from mixing this dough with an electric mixer at this point; this will overwork the dough and activate too much gluten, negatively affecting the texture of the brownies.

4) Transfer the brownie batter to a baking dish and bake to perfection
Transfer the batter to the baking dish. You may need to use your fingers or a spatula to press the thick dough into place. Bake for 35 minutes on your oven’s lowest rack. Transfer the baking dish to a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool for about an hour.

5) Allow the brownies to cool completely
Transfer the brownies to the wire rack by lifting them out of the baking dish by taking hold of the exposed parchment paper on each side. Allow them to cool completely before slicing into squares.
This recipe makes one 8 x 8 inch baking dish of Ultimate Vegan Brownies.

THE ‘WILL-O’-THE WISP & the JACK O’ LANTERN – Why we Carve Pumpkins at Halloween…

October 9th, 2013

As Halloween is fast approaching it is time for us to get creative with the Pumpkin carving! At the hotel, we are putting our heads together to think of cool images to carve into the pumpkins – we will also love for you to help us out -what kind of cool imagery do you want us to carve into our own Pumpkin? If you have any ideas please let us know and even better, share your photos of the cool carvings you have created for this occasion!

In this blog we will discover the origins of pumpkin carving and as to why we continue this tradition every year.

THE ‘WILL-O’-THE WISP & the JACK O’ LANTERN Connection
The tradition of carving pumpkin has various origins and the most popular in well known folklore are the stories of The Will-O’-the Wisp and Jack O’ Lantern.
The ‘Will-O’-the Wisp’ was created by a natural phenomena that happens to occur when plants are decaying over Swampy or Peat Bog areas and are in the process producing a Phosphorescence Glow .
During the 18th Century tales of folklore were created to personify this ghostly apparition and tales of Pixies and Sprites were soon born to explain what was happening. The Sprite was said to form wispy flames of light around it and would lead foolish travelers astray by luring them towards the swampy bogs – where ultimately some may have gotten themselves stuck in the dark murky swamps.
In Latin the light is known as “Ignis Fatuus” which translates “foolish fire.” The reference of the name “will-o’-the-wisp” has been extended to any impractical or unattainable goal.

On the subject of the Phosphorescence Glow there are many common occurrences of this that you can see for yourself, materials such as Paints, Glow in the dark toys and Clock dials are all examples of a man made material that presents the Phosphorescence glow processes in opposition to the chemical states happening naturally.

The Jack O’ Lantern is related to the Wisp, but in modern times when we follow this tradition the Lantern seems to be a more common phrase that comes to mind.
The origins of this are from Irish and Scottish Myths and Legendary Folklore that come in various incarnations. In short, the tales usually involves a man ‘Jack’ Who has an undesirable trait wether he be stingy or a thief and has played a trick on the devil which never bodes well for his Soul. As punishment, Jack’s Soul after passing is generally to be found in Limbo as the devil agrees too spare it, yet, unbeknownst to Jack it means the soul cannot be entered into Heaven nor can it be let into Hell in part due to his lifestyle decisions and as well as the experience with the devil itself!!!

The images portrayed into the Pumpkins are of a ghoulish nature for these reasons, and over the years that we have traditionally celebrated the tradition, there have been many pranks played into the custom too – so the evolution of some of these Lanterns portray humorous looking Ghouls and imagery.

Below are some Lanterns that were created with some friends on a Halloween excursion to Seattle…..what do you think of them? Cool eh!