Mmm wine

Nals was in an anniversary trip in the Okanagan last month.  And of course, we had to do a little dipsy doodle around a couple of wineries.

Super Natural British Columbia is home to over 300 wineries.  A lot are concentrated in the Okanagan area.

MORE INFO HERE
The Mr was my designated driver so I only went to a couple wineries in the area.  Lake Country has a whole host of wineries including Gray Monk Estate Winery.
Tastings are $5-7 for 5. You can choose from a selection of say 10 wines.  If you purchase bottles, then the fee is typically used towards the purchase.

Blind Tiger is a newer winery.  It is a small family run certified organic winery that opened to the public in 2015. 

My sommelier* was fantastic.  He was a young energetic fellow who excitedly talked about the various wine-related outtings that he had recently been on.  He was an absolute delight!  He asked what wines I like, suggested some and off we went.  He was the perfect sommelier: funny, warm and also left room for me to explore the tasting notes. 

Where to buy: Only through their winery or virtual store.

Click here to reach them.

At Blind Tiger I got: Pinot Gris (2017), Reserve Pinot Noir (2017) & Speakeasy Red (2014).

Ex Nihilo has great range of wines and especially full-bodied reds. 

Tasting wasn’t the nicest experience.  It was a larger bustling winery.  The sommelier’s lukewarm detached demeanor led me to one conclusion:  That  she was a rogue ex-operative from an Archer-esque outfit… and her arch nemesis Barry finally got her 20**.

Where to buy: since the ex-operative was not chatty, I have no idea if they have shops that carry their goods in the GVA.

Click here to reach them.

At Ex Nihilio, I got: Chaos Rosso Red (2018) and Reisling (2017).

Recommendations

I loved Blind Tiger because they were friendly & non-pretentious.  Reminded me of the delightful Les Corcelettes in Oliver.

El Nihilo had delicious wines as well, but this was not a warm and fuzzy tasting experience.  I also wanted to buy the Voignier… but both the tasting & purchase was reserved for “members”.   I don’t know what this means but the sommelier didn’t invite or tell me how to become a member.  I guess as long one leaves with delicious bottles of wine… What else matters?

I would recommend drinking wines from both vineyards. 

However, the tasting experience was far more enjoyable at Blind Tiger and so I’ll be plugging them whenever I can!

Let’s Play Footsie-notes
*Not sure if sommelier is the correct term.  I thought it was better than Taster Guy or Taster Attendant.
**The Ex Nihilio sommelier wasn’t rude per se.  She answered my questions albeit in a detached fashion… with an underlying je ne sais quoi.  Something else clearly had her attention.  Eyes darted around, preoccupied energy, latency of responses… The only conclusion is that her rival finally sniffed out her shoddily-disguised witness protection deets.

Change of Choice

I’ve been thinking a lot about changes lately.

Some career opportunities have come up and so a rehaul was due.

A few years ago, I made a huge change. I left the comfort of my full-time job in mental health, to go to a part-time job in the medical field. I needed to switch gears. And the leftover time would allow me to pursue my business idea and some extras.

This was a brilliant move!

Then things started to feel a little stale. Burlesque, getaways and fitness made things a bit exciting and now we’re back to a feeling a bit stagnant.

So, I took a leap of faith on some opportunities that happened to come my way. And, it’s official: I’m back full-time in mental health!

Overall, this is a good move for me and my future. Then why do I feel this anxiety, which is overwhelming at times?

Did you know that stress is multidimensional?

It affects our cognitive, physical, behavioural and social dimensions.

Stress can*:

  • have a positive (eustress) and/or negative (distress) nature,
  • have a time frame: acute or chronic (or even acute on chronic),
  • be planned or unexpected.

There are pros and cons to everything. And that’s okay. It’s in how you process it and to find appropriate supports.

For me, the CBT approach works best. I know that I ruminate in my feelings like a dog rolls around in a rotting carcass**. My previous negative experiences roll into it. And all these feelings become overwhelming. They overwhelm my logic and I sink farther into the well. I also have a tendency to bottle it all up°.

What works for me

  1. I recognize there’s a problem°°,
  2. I label my feelings and thought distortions,
  3. I use logic to break my thought cycles,
  4. I talk it out with a trusted support person.

This is what works for me. I’ve read a lot about these techniques. I’ve done research on it. I’ve facilitated & observed CBT. I’ve had my own multi-modal therapy.

Please keep in mind that I’ve had a lot of exposure and practice so I know what works for me. This may not be what works for you.

If you are new to CBT or its tenets don’t quite resonate, N&K encourage you to research different techniques. And then to get appropriate support.

Here is a list of clickable resources to get you N&Kers started:

The Anxiety & Worry Workbook

Bounceback: Reclaim Your Health (depression)

Women’s Anger Management Workbook

Men’s Anger Management Workbook

Boundaries

Brene Brown podcasts and books

Anxiety Canada

Footnotes:
*Winning a competition can be positive. But, there can be negatives too such as feeling more pressure to win the next comp and feeling like the need to train harder. But maybe you don’t have the resources or social support for this.
*An example of acute on chronic is: having a large distressing debt and then all of a sudden, my car breaks down. I don’t have the money to fix it but I need my car to get to work to help pay down the debt.
**Except I don’t want to roll around in it.
°Not sure why I bottled shit up. It’s probably rooted in not being able to trust. But I’ve learned that I have lots of supportive people around, and I can trust them.
°°It took me a long time to realize that feelings are not fact. Feelings can be overwhelming. There are a lot of tools to help me manage. And I know I can manage when I recognize there’s an issue.

Labour Day Freedoms: oh baby look at all the places we can go!

Labour Day is today in Canada and the US, N&Kers.

After Netflixing the Alcasser Murders (#ElCasoAlcasser) and monitoring the #hkprotest, I reflected on our freedoms.

As females in North America, Kells & I are:

  • lucky to have a (safe) say in living our own lives.
  • privileged to have post-secondary education.
  • lucky to be able to work in our chosen fields. (These are fields that we actually enjoy working in!)

Things aren’t perfect in North America.

People who want a higher education or a better-paying job are not able to get what they want due to lack of resources or system biases.

People are hungry, exhausted, hopeless, depressed…

And imagine other countries where freedoms are less-than, especially for us ladies*.

Sure, there’s room for improvement. But let’s take a moment, this Labour Day, to acknowledge and celebrate how far we’ve come:

  1. how bad working conditions were;
  2. what freedoms our predecessors fought for;
  3. that workers efforts’ deserve respect and appreciation.

It took only one person’s courage to speak out and gather the masses to discuss how to make change.

What should our next steps be?

Equal pay?

Addressing Positive and Negative Discrimination?

Equality vs Equity

Please feel free to discuss in the comments below

Happy Labour Day everyone!

Stay at UBC: Okanagan review

The Mr and I went away to Kelowna for our anniversary.  

The Okanagan, which is in BC’s interior, has a mild and humid continental climate. 

More info here
Nals Okanagan 2019

There is something to do for everyone from outdoorsy stuff like hiking and water sports, R&R’ing, winetasting (also beer and ciders), eating locally-grown stonefruits, festivals and simply enjoying the scenery.

So as per usual, the spontaneous Mr doesn’t book ahead, which leads me to do it last minute’.  So the well-priced rooms, funky finds, one-of-a-kinds are probably gone!  However, I ended up finding accommodations at UBC.

Nals Okanagan UBC 2019_1

Whaaaat?!! Accommodations at a university? Yes indeed folks.

It’s the cold hard truth.

G e n e r a l I m p r e s s i o n

We were in the Queen Studio room** in the Monashee Residence*. It is a straight-up clean room with no bells and whistles. No fancy soaps, luggage racks, room safes or artwork. There was a double bed, a desk, table & chairs and full kitchen. The bathroom had a narrow shower stall, with sink outside. They provide towels, kitchenware and very basic toiletries. It felt dorm-y but also home-y. There are tons of pictures available on their website and from other reviewers.

T h e P r o s

  • The building and room require fob entry so it feels secure.
  • Each room has its own inclusive wifi.
  • The room was large and airy with one small screened-window.
  • The setting is gorgeous – very peaceful.
  • Laundry is available. Purchase cards at Guest Accommodations.
  • The awesome staff is available 24/7 at 1290 International Mews.

T h e N o n – P r o s

There is no in-room TV or telephone so bring your own electronics. There isn’t a lot of counterspace.

Sink & toilet were slow to drain (perhaps just in this particular room). Showerhead is not adjustable (problem for short or tall poppies).

The bed was a bit small. (We are used to Queen.) It was also not supportive so whenever the Mr flopped, I felt it. The pillows were flat.

There weren’t extra pillows or blankets. This was major for me because sometimes I’m a bit colder or want more pillows.

P a r k i n g and Transport

Parking is 50% discounted for guests. Parking options are close by. During summer it’s slow. But during the school year – likely a different story.

If you want to sight-see or pick up larger grocery items/clothing, you will need transport: a vehicle or take transit (stops on-campus).

S u r r o u n d i n g s

Surroundings are beautiful and serene. UBC Okanagan sits on top of a hill so you get a great view of the city. There’s a bit of green space for hikes (be mindful of the bear warnings).

On the other side of highway, there’s permanent housing, a little convenience store, liquor store, pub and Chinese restaurant.

R e c o m m e n d a t i o n


The whole point is to sleep well in a hotel room. And we didn’t sleep well on the first night”. But, if we stay overnight in Kelowna again, I will ask them if there are firm-bed options. I love the idea of staying away from the downtown core in a beautiful setting, so I wouldn’t discount this option in the future. Also, UBC is the Mr.’s and my alma mater.

N&K T i p s

  • Double check that linens, kitchenware is included in your room.
  • You don’t need to download HONK app for parking, if you have a credit/debit card. Just make surr yiu choose the 24- or multiple-hour accommodation parking option.
  • Make sure you get the guest coupon code for parking.
  • Take the time to walk around the campus. It really was serenely beautiful.
  • in our room, coffee was provided. I brought my stovetop espresso machine with my own coffee. Bring tea PRN.
  • I’d recommend picking up basic snack, tea and breakfast groceries before checking in. That way, you can get to exploring as soon as you’ve settled in!
  • Research the wineries, cideries and breweries. These are abundant, and in convenient-to-explore clusters.
  • Explore the lake options and watersports. Plus other outdoorsy stuff.
  • Explore funky fruit stands and orchards.

Footnotes:

* This building was assigned to us. There were several other options. Not sure how they make the allotments. Maybe based on room types? Length of stay?
** If we had booked ahead, our options would be greater . I see there are king beds available. Not sure if mattress quality is the same?
‘ He doesn’t like to be tied down because a better deal could be around the corner. Or, maybe something off-the-beaten path. Read about our last-straw Portland adventure here … which we didn’t book ahead but turned out pretty good.
” For the following night, we slept well because we were so zonked.

Thoughts on Burlesque

As you N&Kers know, both K&I are taking burlesque classes through Vancouver Burlesque Company. In fact, 2 each this term!
So, this will be K’s 2nd & 3rd performances. And my 3rd & 4th performances.

Instagramming our way through chair burlesque

When I first started burlesque, I was shy about telling people.

I thought I would be judged for the type of dance, or that I would dare to do it because I don’t have a dancer’s body. And culturally speaking, I was taught to be modest. Prancing around in your undergarments is not modest. I’m also too old to take on something like burlesque! And lastly, there are only a handful of visible minorities in burlesque. I definitely felt out-of-place. This translated into me being shy about talking about it.

Holy batman! All these internal battles!

Rectifying internal battles

Type of dance: I try to educate people on the burly history. It’s not just about shaking your tail feathers. This is another way to express how you’re processing society’s zeitgeist. Don’t believe me? Then look at all the sub-genres: nerdlesque, contemporary, chair, etc.

Dancer’s body: Burlesque initially came out because poor folks poked fun at the richie-rich operas/shows. With burlesque, essentially, anything goes. Different bodies, shapes, colours, abilities… it is about you telling your story. How are you interacting with the audience?

Too old: Yes, I’m older than my instructors and classmates. But, the only person who has made me feel ‘too old’ is me. Last showcase, there was a 60+-year-old woman who did a saucy chair solo. She was fantastic!

Modesty: This term means to act demure, and can include dressing in a non-sexually aggressive manner. Is it a vehicle of oppression? Perhaps it is to be deliciously explored in future burlesque?

When you are on stage, you are taking on a persona that’s bigger-than.

Maybe you’re klutzy? Super comedic? Have the ability to sensually slither along the stage? Have long legs? Expressive face? Love performing in drag?

Now…

… I talk about being in burlesque all the time. I’m excited that I can be part of it! I’ve got access with Vancouver Burlesque Company. (Screaming Chicken, K&I are coming for you, soon!) It’s affordable both financially and timewise.

The benefits

I’m engaging in self-care. I’m getting fitter and honing in on different fitness goals. I get to dress up, make costumes, have fun, learn to move, meet new people, dance with Kells, listen to music, feel inspired, feel empowered, feel confident, have a creative outlet and be around positivity.

I’ve learned that I’m not as klutzy as I thought I was. I’ve got a bit of rhythm. I’ve learned that I can jellybean, plank off of a chair, go from a standing position to the floor then do an inchworm push up in heels… all in rhythm to music!

Stage Presence

Performing on stage isn’t for everyone. With VBC, you can actually just take the class without doing the final show. And, last Fall when I took my first class, I didn’t plan on performing. But by the end, I thought: why the frig not?

Being on stage is simply exhilarating. Hearing the audience cheer and whistle. Feeling those positive vibes. Performers excited and buzzing with adrenaline. It is a fabulous feeling!

So, if you are remotely interested in this genre, K&I encourage you to take a class with VBC (or SC). Or in the very least, come and check us out. Tickets available online here.

Self-Care & The Oxford Comma

We keep hearing about the virtues of self-care. But what exactly is it?

Self-care has various definitions depending on which lens you look through Psych Central, Wiki, Mirriam-Webster, Urban Dic.

Psych Central most most aligns with N&K’s definition: something you do merely for yourself in a healthy manner, deliberate, and with personal meaning*. You may be relieved after finishing your to-do list, but this wasn’t done merely for yourself. You are happy you did the laundry that’s been piling up for weeks, but did you do it just for the personal joy?

Why self care?

We’d counter this with ‘why not?’ We spend all day running around, multi tasking, doing what’s expected or asked of us.

Why shouldn’t we do something that’s just for ourselves?

Self care helps relax and de-stress. (Refer to Livescience article and NIMH article.)

How often do I need to do this?

We believe self care should be done daily.

Self care doesn’t have to be complicated or drawn out.

It could be taking 5 minutes to enjoy the unexpected afternoon sun. Doing a facemask with your kid. Having an espresso and cookie (or nookie) with your partner. Practicing your burlesque moves. Singing in the shower. Making your colleagues laugh with a silly joke. Complimenting a stranger**. Taking your pups out for a long hike.

Nals likes to get up early so she has time to enjoy her coffee in the quiet of the morning. Kells likes to take naps on her days off. We like to catch up when we’re both working in the same part of town.

Yeah but isn’t self care selfish?

Absolutely not! As long as it is healthy, done with awareness and has personal meaning. Our old pal Mirriam Webster’s definition. Sure, self care is focused on oneself.

But self care’s focus is not on self-advantage and not with disregard for others.

What’s the Oxford Comma Got to do with it?*

Nothing directly. But self care and The Oxford Comma elicits similar reactions: debates, strong opinions, and misperceptions.

If you do use either or both, do it consistently and with honest intention.

Comment below with how you do self care. Please keep comments PG-13, respectful and on-topic.

Footies
*yep here’s your Oxford comma, folks. Self care consists of 3 separate points: healthy, deliberate and meaningful. Without that last comma, ‘healthy manner’ means that choking down veggies is self care because it is deliberate and meaningful. Add the comma, and you can see that though eating veg is healthy, it may not be with deliberation or personal meaning. Oxford comma, broken down here https://www.grammarly.com/blog/what-is-the-oxford-comma-and-why-do-people-care-so-much-about-it/
** Avoid creepiness.

Mascara Review: Rimmel Wonder’fully Real

Mascara Monday is back, N&Kers. We know you can hardly contain your excitement! This time we’ll be reviewing Rimmel’s Wonderfully Real Mascara.

So here are our rules

  1. We bought all mascara ourselves (which means nobody is paying us).
  2. We wear each mascara for at least 1 week.
  3. All mascaras purchased were black… and the darkest black they had available.
  4. Every mascara used was put on the exact same way, with only 2 coats.
  5. This is just our 2 cents. This opinion is ours…take it or leave it. Believe it or not.

What do we want in a mascara?

In a mascara, we typically discuss the following points: Lengthen, Volumize, Separation, Curl and Thicken.

The lowdown

The Bad

Everything was initially fantastic. Long lashes for dayzzz. However after a month, I noticed that the product clumped on my lashes. And, at the end of the day, flakes fell into my eyes. I typically use several thin coats plus another mascara. For this tube, I only can do 2-3 thin coats. This product falls short on volumizing and thickening. So, I tried to pair it with another volumizing mascara. And again, I got clumped.

That brush

The brush picks up a lot of product. You must ensure that swipe off as much of the product as can before application. (That is, make sure you can see lots of the pink brush showing through.) Fair warning: this brush is a poke hazard.

The Good

The bristly brush and product lengthen & separate. As such, Rimmel Wonder’fully Real Mascara is a good lengthener and separator. It also keeps the curl. (One must use a lash curler!)

An interesting thing

I felt like sporting the au naturel look a lot with this mascara. At first I thought it was due to the emergence of the PNW summer sun. (The summer makes me feel more like a let’s-skip-work-and-soak-up-some-sun bronzed goddess than a dramatic eye queen.) Or, maybe I was too lazy to add liner? But, I finally figured out why… I noticed that the brush/product inadvertently builds colour at upper water line. Which is fantastic for an au naturel look. And fantastic that Nals was inspired to keepnit low-key.

The Ugly

The ugly truth is that it’s really hard to get a mascara with all of these features. Which is why I typically use 2 mascaras on every application. But I got clumped when I tried to pair this mascara with a volumizer.

Additionally this mascara is hard to remove. After washing, you’ll need to get in there with a cotton-tipped wand.

Recommendation

I probably wouldn’t buy Rimmel’s Wonder’fully Real again unless I was in desperate need of a mascara… and it was on sale.

The brush would be challenging for novices.

The product itself is a bit annoying after 1 month.

Review of: Mozart’s Steakhouse (Leavenworth)

Kells, Cutie T & I went on a fun little girls weekend to Leavenworth in February.

Our first night in, we ate at Mozart’s Steakhouse.

Click to read our other Leavenworth reviews on: Doghaus Brewery and Leavenworth Village Inn.

Make reservations

It was hella busy in February due to skiing. So we had to wait for over an hour for a table. Either make reservations or be prepared to be placed on the wait list. Mozart will text you when your table is ready.

The ambience and service

Despite the fact that it is quite a large space, it felt quiet, rustic and cozy*. Service was good**. Note that you have to walk up steep-ish stairs. If there are folks with mobility issues, inquire ahead about alternative entry routes.

The menu

Varied meats and European fare. Some veggie options. Drinks menu contains typical beers, wines and mixers as well as other surprises.

Our food and drinks

Cutie T & I ordered flights (of beer), which were mostly delicious. For dinners, Kells ordered her usual spaetzle and schnitzel. Cutie T & I couldn’t decide. So, we ordered the Platter for Two. The meals were fantastically delicious with large American portions. The 3 of us were starving. We also have large appetites. And, we couldn’t finish our meals.

N&K Recommendation

Yes you must definitely go! K has been here a few times and each time it has been wonderful.

If you need to kill time before your table is ready, take a boo at the varied boutique shops along Front Street.

Footnotes
* “Cozy” is partially due to dim lighting. So, our photos aren’t crisp and fabulous.

**American and Canadian restaurant service is different. Canadians are a bit more doting. (Not annoyingly so.) However this was also the end of a busy day, near-ish to closing. Everyone must’ve been tired. We waited a bit long for our drinks and asked our server a couple times about it. Our meals also seemed to take a while. But definitely worth the wait!

N&K $50 Bruncheria Cafe Meal Contest Rules

Click here to read N&K’s review of Bruncheria.

Contest opens May 4, 2019 and closes on May 17, 2019.

  1. Follow Bruncheria Cafe on Instagram*.
  2. Follow Nals and Kells on Instagram*.
  3. Like the post**.
  4. Tag a brunch Friend**.
  5. Each tagged Friend is one entry. Tag as many friends as you’d like**.
  6. N&K will randomly select one lucky Winner and notify the Winner via Instagram message by May 20, 2019. The Winner will get one complimentary meal at Bruncheria Cafe, up to a $50 value***.

A big THANK YOU to Bruncheria Cafe for providing N&Kers with the Giveaway opportunity and the gorgeous photos.

The fine print:

*Though conducted through Instagram platform, this contest is not affiliated with Instagram. **All Tags and Likes must be indicated the original contest post on N&K from May 4, 2019. ***No substitutions or transfers, must be used in the time frame specified by Bruncheria.

Review of Uli’s Restaurant (White Rock)

Uli’s is a delightful restaurant on waterfront in White Rock.

Nals & Missy R went there for brunch in early February for our 16th Friend-a-versary Celebration. As it was wintertime, it was cool. But that usually-shy sun was shining brightly. And I could easily see where the pier was nipped off in the storm a few weeks prior.

We were the first or second customers so it was wonderfully quiet. Restaurant was filled with wooden tables & chairs, minimalist beachy feel. This went well with the laid back feel of Marine Drive & Pier. Our server was lovely – helpful, attentive but not intrusive.

Our order

We had Baked Brie (carmelized garlic, blueberries and homemade crostini) to start. Missy R had the Schnitzel (Vienna style with rock salt & lemon). I had the Cuban Croquette Eggs Benedict (with fabulous bursts of pepper jelly).

And drum roll…

All dishes tasted delicious. Coffee was tasty strong. Missy R had the perfect Bloody Caesar, extra spicy.

However

The dishes could’ve been warmer, especially Brie. Apparently, TripAdvisor (TA) diners have observed this before. TAers also observed that portions were small. We both have healthy appetites and we thought they were a good size. But we also had drinks and Brie.

We love scratch kitchens!

Other considerations

Parking can be a bit of a pain so take time or carpool. And also take time to stroll along the waterfront. Enjoy the view, salt air, maybe get an ice cream or window shop. And remember: do not get close to or feed the wildlife. Watching Marine Life: safely. What could happen if you: don’t.

Do N&K recommend Uli’s?

Missy R has been here before & enjoyed it. And, yes we both would recommend this place.