Thursday, 14 November 2013

Fashion and Film...

Fashion and film are two of my favourite things, and I may well have attended more fashion shows in my life than I have had hot dinners; plus, with a husband who was a professional cameraman for many years, I have also seen an awful lot of films, videos, commercials, etc. So it was great fun to attend an evening filled with both, here in Kelowna.  The event was called 'The Final Cut' and was a joint presentation from the graduating film and fashion departments at CATO - The Centre for Arts and Technology here in town.

Yes.  You heard that right.  You can actually study film and fashion (and interior design, photography, animation, recording arts and a whole lot more) right here in the Okanagan. CATO is an arts college that offers accelerated programmes focused on the training and skills aspects of the creative industries, with the focus on educating individuals about the skills needed to go out and get work in their chosen industry. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for local creative people, of all ages.

Think about it.  What if you really want a creative career, but can't afford (either financially or the time investment) to commit to a three or four year university course? What if you are not sure enough about your interest and ability to move your life to a big city centre like Toronto, New York or LA? What if your grades at high school preclude you from some of the ultra-competitive, oversubscribed university courses on the same subjects? ('Note: Cause let's face it - creative people do not always do particularly well in traditional high school subjects.) These are real problems for a lot of people who still have a lot to offer the creative industries, and could be successful in them if given the opportunity.

Being able to dip your toe into these areas in a local setting is fantastic, and everything I have seen of the college (and in the interest of disclosure, I have been teaching a course or two for them over the last term, which puts me in a good position to observe) evidences hardworking professionals committed to transferring their industry knowledge to a new vanguard of creatives. Bravo, I say.

Centre for Arts and Technology
1632 Dickson Ave #100, Kelowna, BC V1Y 7T2(250) 860-2787

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Mosaic Books

In my perfect world, actual physical books peacefully co-exist with virtual Kindle versions, and book stores remain viable retail options.  In this world, bookstores are locally owned and operated, and are quirky, peaceful and inspiring places totally tuned into the local community.

Sadly this vision is getting harder and harder to find, but I can report there is still one of these great shopping experiences available here in Kelowna,

Mosaic Books has been Kelowna's largest independent bookstore since 1968, and - I am happy to say - is still going strong.  This is where you go when you are in the mood to browse the stacks, or chat to friendly, knowledgeable booksellers about what's new and great. You can also keep your finger on the pulse of local authors, book launches and readings. 

Since moving to the Oknagan, I have popped into Mosaic to stock up on fashion and interior design magazines, attended books launches of local authors, and chatted to staff about the local poetry scene. I love to spend an hour or so perusing the stacks of books, and seeing what great book launches are coming up. Recently, I also had a quick chat with manager Trevor Neill about all things 'Mosaic', as follows:


TG(N)L: What, in your opinion, makes Mosaic special?  What is it's USP? 

TN: There really isn't one particular aspect that makes Mosaic unique, rather, a collection of fine details that set the business apart. For one, Mosaic is a true family owned and operated business. I manage, my sister, Alicia, is the receiver/co-manager, and our parents, Michael and Michele, own the store. A family working so close together allows any aspect of the business to be custom tailored to suit our vision. There's no corporate office or red tape to fiddle with, so Mosaic represents small town ideals and the locavore spirit.

Besides the behind the scenes, Mosaic Books is very unique in it's physical size. We are one of the larger brick and mortar independent booksellers in North America, boosting over eight thousand square feet of books for kids and adults. At this very moment on Mosaic's shelves, there are 14,214 new book titles and 11,341 bargain priced titles. That's 25,555 individual titles. Combine that with our online catalogue of over 5 million titles available fast and with no shipping cost, and you'd be hard pressed to walk out of Mosaic empty handed.

TG(N)L: As an independent bookseller, how do you feel about and it's impact on the locally owned bookstore? 

TN:  Ah yes, the Amazon. It's funny, the once small and book exclusive online shop has now dominated pretty much every retail sector, from books to cars to washing machine replacement parts. You'd be hard pressed to find any independent or physical retail business that has not been effected by Amazon's price slashing enterprise. But here's the thing: people are price conscious, yes, but they're also physical. They like to touch and feel things, they like to converse with fellow humanoids in person, and they like to get out of their homes in that off chance that something unexpected will happen. Whether it be books or shoes or whatever, us physical retailers offer that genuine human connection. We offer one on one expertise and knowledge. We offer smells and sounds and rough edges. We try our best to not make these human details cost an exuberant premium, but let's face it: we will never be able to win the price battle with these online giants, and if you don't understand that, then you don't understand us. 

TG(N)L: Any new author visits, readings, launches, or events in the near future that we should know about?

TN:  No major author events are in the slate until the new year (I will say this: Diana Gabaldon fans, rejoice! She's got a new book in the Outlander series coming out in the new year, and we "may" be hosting her book launch), but we do have our annual sale coming up. It's actually our 45th anniversary coming up this November, so we'll probably be pulling out all the stops for this year's sale. Store-wide discounts and giveaways are in the works, so stay posted as the details roll out.

Mosaic Books:  411 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, BC, V1Y 6N8
Tel: 250 763 4418

Note: You can also check out Trevor's book reviews of the new Douglas Copeland novel and the Chris Hadfield biography in the Fall 2013 issue of Icon-Okanagan; on stands now, or read online at

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Good Word(s) to Live By...


My mother has always joked that it is pretty much impossible to get me past a shoe store or jewelry counter, and even now this pretty much holds true.  We can talk about my shoe fetish another day, but like most females, I am continually attracted by colourful, bright and shiny things, so it's not too difficult to guess that jewelry - in all its shapes, sizes, guises and price ranges -  is a continuous and enduring favourite of mine, so naturally I was delighted to stumble upon the wonderful, downtown jewelry boutique 'Posh' on Ellis street.

Like many females, I am also a big fan of self-realisation and empowerment, and of trying to do good for the planet, so when I found myself in the above mentioned shop, drawn to a rack filled with colorful, sparkly metallic leather cuff bracelets, emblazoned with words like 'Strength', 'Dream', 'Courage' and 'Wisdom', it was like a spiritual shopping convergence.  The bracelets are made by a company called 'Good Work(s) Make a Difference, who donate a portion of their profits to a variety of good causes, ranging from moving homeless families into fully furnished homes via their own 'Home Sweeter Home for the Homeless' project to donating to Tijuana orphange 'Por La Infancia', or providing beauty treatments for under-privileged single mothers in greater Los Angeles.

According to their website, "Good Work(s) Make A Difference® is a company created to promote lifestyles of optimism, goodwill, and compassion through fashion in order to inspire and elevate humanitarianism, and is determined to deliver the most fashion-forward, uplifting, inspirational bracelets and accessories that contribute 25% of net proceeds to charitable organisations that make a meaningful impact in people's lives and communities".

I love that Posh's owner Kate Morgan has found and stocked this great company, and -- with less than 60 shopping days til Christmas -- might I suggest these bracelets (ranging in price from $30 to $55) would make GREAT stocking stuffers or gifts for some of the ladies in your life - or men, Steven Tyler, Zac Brown, Gerard Butler and Will-I-Am are all fans. That way you can feel good about two things: 1) that you have ticked another item off your Xmas 'to do' list, and 2) you have helped the less fortunate while doing so. Win-win methinks.

Posh: 1393 Ellis Street, Kelowna | 250 862 9404
Mon - Sat 10am to 5:30pm

Monday, 28 October 2013

C is for Concert, D is for Dixie Chicks

In my former incarnations I have had several jobs in music-related industries.  I once interned for RCA Records in Los Angeles, and also worked for four years at The Georgia Straight in Vancouver. One of the upsides to these jobs was being able to feed my fetish for live music via the company guest lists, and I was able to see a lot of really great bands, from really great seats, for very little (or no) money.

Even after leaving the world of the freebie, I continued to love live music, and have seen everything from K.D. Lang playing a private birthday party for her manager at a little club in Vancouver, to Blue Rodeo at a 200 person venue in London, to Elton John at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, to Live Aid (yes, the first one) at Wembley Arena. And, of course, having spent over 25 years living in London spoils a person for choice, as almost every band every known has played there one time or another.

Well, Kelowna has Prospera Place, I am happy to say; a world class venue, for tours of a world class nature.  It has, in the last year, hosted concerts by John Fogerty, Journey and Sting, and last night went all out country with The Dixie Chicks. The fact that bands of this stature fit Kelowna into their busy tour schedules speaks well of the city, and also of the bands themselves and their taste in cities.  I mean who wouldn't want to spend a day or two in this lovely place, even if working.

Sadly, I didn't get to go last night, as my poor hubby had man flu and I was busy mopping his fevered (not-so-much) brow, but you had better believe I'll be first in line for Blue Rodeo in the new year. That's January 6, folks. Mark your diaries now.
Prospera Place: 1223 Water Street, Kelowna | 250 979 0888

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Poetic Popups

Scene: finishing work and heading to the parking lot past the Bean Scene Coffee Shop on Dickson Ave. Out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of a piece of paper fluttering in the breeze.  Closer examination shows said piece of paper clipped onto the waving decorative grasses planted alongside the sidewalk.  Even closer examination reveals... a poem. A good poem.


It turns out this is a poem by Lesley-Anne Evans, a Kelowna resident, poet and poetry busker and blogger who is behind

I love a good idea.  And when it is a creative, inventive, innovative idea, so much the better. Pop-up poetry is all of these. There is something just so... poetic... about stumbling upon poetry in unexpected places, and the words on that page, in that place, setting the tone for your day.

According to her website, Lesley-Anne was born in Belfast, raised in Toronto, but has been in the Okanagan with her husband and children since 1993. As a poet, Lesley-Anne has written that one of her her driving forces is 'to connect with people, not just deliver words', and she has set out to find interesting and inventive ways to do just that.

In addition to her stealth poetry forays with popup poetry, this summer Lesley-Anne was Kelowna's first 'licensed' poetry busker with Festival's Kelowna, and more recently created an interactive poem in collaboration with the audience at Pulp Fiction Coffee House, which you can read about at .

Knowing Lesley-Anne is out there, setting the streets on fire with her well-crafted words, just makes me... happy, and I hope to run into more of them - and maybe even the poet herself - soon.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Not Paving Paradise...

I'm a little bit behind the curve on this one, but it is such a fantastic idea, I have to talk about it.  The newest parking lot for downtown Kelowna opened last month, and it has nothing to do with cars. That's right.  The newest and coolest way to visit downtown Kelowna is by boat.

This is an idea long overdue.  Despite having only had one summer in the Okanagan, my husband and I - newby boat owners that we are - have often talked about how great it would be to be able to boat downtown, moor up and do a little shopping and lunching. Well now we can.

Developed by Westcorp, Downtown Marina and Public Pier boasts 68 pleasure boats slips, with hourly and daily rental available.  Some of the slips will be first come first serve, but some will also be open to reservation, ensuring that your lunch reservation doesn't go to waste because you can't find suitable 'parking'. Prices are reasonable too, ranging from $5 for a quick 15 minute or less trip to the 'offie' (that's liquor store in Canadian) should you want to pick up a bottle of wine for your on-the-water picnic, to $50 for up to 8 hours; a two hour lunch window will set you back $20. (Full rental rates can be found at .)

The Marina also has raised piers for commercial boats, fuel and toilet facilities (hurrah! on both counts), boat and Sea-doo rentals, and the 350 foot floating pier is also accessible to pedestrians, hosting a number of benches from which to sit and watch the world go by.

Yes, in Kelowna, cars are so last year.


You can find out all about Downtown Marina and Public Pier at:

Look Global, Shoot Local

I love a good fashion shoot, and in my time as a fashion stylist/editor I have been lucky enough to shoot them in London, Paris, New York, et al.  The creativity that comes into play creating beautiful photos is totally inspirational - and addictive - so imagine my delight in being able to stage a world-class shoot here in Kelowna, using nothing but home grown talent.

The planets must have been in alignment, because I managed to connect with Lindsey Fisette, a wonderful 23 year old Kelowna-raised fashion photographer who is now based in Australia, but was just home for a month on holiday. Lindsey then hooked me up with the fantastic Bri Stein, a local - and really talented - makeup artist, and models Emilee and Matt from local agency Deja Vu.  My Icon Okanagan connections netted us hair styling from Annah at Cream Hair and Make Up Lounge, and clothes from MacDermott's Menswear and Justin Paul Fashions. And lastly, we were able to organise a simply amazing location in Bo.tegga Farm Inn - a boutique hotel and working alpaca farm.

Next thing I knew, Go Okanagan at Shaw Cable were interested in what was going on, and decided to pop down and shoot the shoot - if you know what I mean.

It was a wonderfully exciting and productive day for all involved, and the results were - if I do say so myself- pretty darn gobsmacking.  But if you don't believe me, you can see for yourself... the shoot is in the new issue of Icon magazine, which you can pick up from numerous locations around the Okanagan or online at You can also see the shoot, and learn more about Lindsey on Go Okanagan's website at .

All-in-all, it was a good days work, and - hopefully - the first of many to come!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Looking at the World Through Fabulous Glasses...

Once upon a time, I was working in Paris and spending some free time roaming around that gorgeous city.  I found myself outside the Alain Mikli store, utterly entranced by the coolest eyeglass frames ever.  They were a wonderfully geeky rectangular shape, but the biggest selling point was the fact they were made from polished, beautifully grained wood.  Sadly, they were out of my price range at the time, especially having just replaced my prescription a few months previously.  But they have never been forgotten, and they have remained the holy grail of eyewear for me ever since.

As someone who has been blind as a bat since pre-adolescence, glasses have played a big part in my life. And, being a fashionista'ish-type person, fashionable frames even more so.  I am constantly on the hunt for fabulous, flattering eyewear wherever I go - refer to above paragraph. So how happy am I to have discovered Wink i Wear in the Mission Park Shopping Centre? In a word. Very.

Open since April of this year, owner Laura Draycott has amassed an amazing array of fashionable frames from around the world in her eyewear boutique. Lines like JF Rey (France), Etnia Barcelona (Spain), MOSCOT and Le Rocher (both New York) are flying off the shelves and onto the noses of Kelowna's fashionable.  Frames generally range in price from $250 to $500, but - if you are feeling very flush and exclusive - can range up to $1600 for a pair of glasses made from real gold with 0.45K of diamonds and buffalo horn temples.  Now you won't get that at Specsavers.

As a big fan of retro eyewear, I especially love that Wink i Wear has a whole section devoted to vintage frames. Authentic vintage frames, that is, not modern knockoffs, sourced mainly from Germany and the UK. "I have always loved vintage eyewear, it makes me feel connected to the past. I have collected it for years," says Laura.  "When entertaining at home I would break out my vintage eyewear collection for our guests to try on and play with.  It was always a huge hit, and I felt that I was not alone in my love for classic eyewear."

Laura's mission is to provide cool flattering frames to the Okanagan, and she is succeeding at pace. "All customers are looking for something that looks great on them," explains Draycott. Many want eyewear that makes a statement, and sets them apart from the crowd.  I've had many customers who have been everywhere in the Okanagan, and come defeated to my store because they cannot find something they love.  It's so fun to help them, because their new issue becomes having to choose just one frame, and in some cases they end up purchasing multiple pairs of eyeglasses!"

Yup. I'm already worried that I may well fall into this final category. Better get talking to the bank manager.

Wink i Wear

Mission Park Shopping Centre
#7 - 605 KLO Road
Kelowna V1Y 8E7
Phone: 250 862 WINK (9465)
Hours: Mon - Fri - 9 to 5
Saturdays by appointment only.
Closed long weekends and holidays.

You can read more about Laura and Wink i Wear in the new issue of Icon Okanagan, out the second week of October.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Release Your Inner Surfer Dog...

Oh, but I love finding cool new things, and when it's cool news things for my dog (read 'surrogate baby') I'm even happier. And... finding a cool new things for my dog in my neighborhood, well, SCORE.  I love my neighborhood (Lower Mission), not least for the fact it has some great little local shops.

One of my favorites is Green and Bear It which is one of those wonderfully eclectic local shops that is part gardening store, part gift shop, part home store and part clothing and accessories boutique. This may sound a bit schizophrenic in print, but believe me, in person it works.

But... back to the aforementioned cool thing for my dog.

Green and Bear It are carrying the coolest beaded dog collars, like, ever.  Made by a Vancouver-based company called FurryBeads, the collars feature wooden beads strung on to vinyl covered stainless steel cable with a nylon webbing and plastic click fastening. According to the company's website, FurryBeads are: 'waterproof, stink proof, stain proof (do not discolor your dog's hair), massages your dogs neck as they roll, do not break or matte your dog's hair, do not tangle in long haired dogs, do not rust in salt water, look good as they age/ weather, and also make "intimidating" breeds appear more friendly and  acceptable'.

The collars, $35, come in a variety of colour combinations, and in sizes small, medium and large. Muddy the Whoodle is currently rocking a teal, turquoise and grey combo that makes him look truly 'surfer dog'.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Star Fever...

One of the coolest things about living in places like London and Los Angeles is that you never know what fabulous person you might find yourself standing behind in the supermarket queue or next to in the pub.

Sadly, I am really useless at noticing celebs. Apparently, I have stood behind Dudley Moore in a cinema lineup ('You mean the really short guy?' I asked my bemused boyfriend at the time), and also have photographic evidence of myself sitting behind Kanye West at the last fashion show I attended (and, yes, I had to ask my friend who he was). However, the fact that I can now have these same brushes with fame here in the Okanagan Valley just further confirms that Kelowna (and area) is the place to be.

So just how happening is the Okanagan?  Well... actor, director, producer, screenwriter, humanitarian and all-round heartthrob George Clooney is currently ensconced in Enderby filming his new film, Disney's sci-fi 'Tomorrowland'.

Okanagan. George Cloony. Need I say more?

Actually, I will. The movie also stars Hugh Laurie as the villain, which - for any Brits or fans of 'House' - is every bit as cool.

Word on the street says that  'Tomorrowland' will be filming on and off in Enderby until mid-September. I sense a short road trip in my future - now, where did I put my binoculars?


Image sourced from

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Boating Life For Me...

If you're gonna live in Kelowna, you better get a boat. Or so my husband thinks, and I can't say I disagree. So, we crunched our numbers and toddled along to Dockside Marine's July 'Customer Appreciation Day' to see what our limited budget might afford us.  The answer?  Something pretty damn good.

Thanks to Dale and Chris, two weeks later we were on the lake in our own (second hand, but in pristine condition) SeaRay feeling like true Kelwona-ites.  Or is that Kelwo-no-nians? Or maybe its Kelownans. (Answer on a postcard please!)

We couldn't have asked for more friendly and helpful service, all the way up to our 'on the water' induction (the boating version of the 'test drive') with the lovely Cap'n John.  Furthermore, there was a problem with our trailer on the way to the marina (the left wheel decided to low a ball bearing enroute) so Dockside organised weekend mooring for us at their Manteo Resort facility, took the trailer away, fixed the problem, then picked up the boat and delivered it to us Monday afternoon. Very impressive.

As for the boat, we love it, and being on the water is just amazing.  As one of the sea dogs in the marina said to us, 'Kelowna opens up in a whole new way when you have a boat'. Popping over for coffee also takes on a whole new meaning. Of course, like all new boaters, there are a few tricky bits - like launching and loading your boat.

Our local boat launch is the Eldorado, right beside the (normally heaving) patio, where patrons consider watching boat launchers making complete fools of themselves as part of the venue's entertainment.  I know this because my husband and I have been two of those cruel people pointing and giggling when it all goes horribly wrong for some hapless captain.  Now it's going to be us providing the chuckles.  Gulp.

Though... we may have found a way round this.  Want to watch our launching learning curve? Come down to the boat launch any morning at 6am. Yup. We are only launching when we know that NO ONE is going to be around. Now we just have to figure out how to get the boat back out of the water and onto the trailer under the cover of darkness.


PS: We are also busy discussing names for our boat.  The current favourite? 'Mywifeletmebuyit'.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Church & State

Considering that I tell all my British friends that I have moved to 'the Napa Valley of Canada' as a quick, shorthand way of describing my new home, I can't believe I have been blogging about Kelowna for over four months and have yet to write anything about a winery. Well, I am about to rectify that.

One of the first things my husband and I did when we got back to town was to spend a day exploring and re-connecting with the area.  This included a pilgrimage to the place that produces one of my very favourite wines - Church & State's utterly yummy Chardonnay.

Located just south of Oliver, Church & State is a wonderfully modern winery, nestled in the Coyote Bowl vineyards, which is in turn nestled in the Black Sage Bench of the southern Okanagan.  Not only is the wine wonderful, the winery's contemporary architecture is to utterly fab. Can anything be more modernly fan-tabulous than wood and polished concrete? It's like a match made in thegood(new)life heaven.

Now let's talk awards.  The aforementioned Chardonnay - described thus: 'great
 intensity on the nose, with lanolin, honey, spice, dried lemon zest and vanilla notes. Big and bright, the palate carries a lot of oak flavour, with spice and a touch of smokiness' -  won a Silver Medal at the Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards, and Church & State is no slouch in the reds department either.  It's 2010 Coyote Bowl Syrah was awarded Bronze for the best red wine in Canada at the Canadian Wine Awards, 2012, and the same awards saw the Syrah, the 2008 Quintessential (red blend) and 2011 Voignier all achieving gold in their categories. All of which added together to place Church & State as the fourth ranking winery in Canada. Can't argue with that.

Prices range from $20 to $35 (the Chardonnay weighs in at $27), with the uber-special 2008 Quintessential 
(a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec & Petit Verdot, which won gold at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition) costing $55. 

For slimmer wallets, Church & State also produce the Church Mouse series, a Chardonnay and a Gewerztraminer both priced at $17.

Through the summer, the tasting bars (indoor and outdoor!) are open daily from 11 to 6.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Normal Service Resumes...

The problem with writing a blog about Kelowna is that it's very hard to write about Kelowna when you're not in Kelowna. Hence the recent extended radio silence.  I'd like to say I was somewhere really exotic or cosmopolitan - Thailand or New York, say.  But no. I was in the prairies. With my family. Which, while neither particularly exotic or cosmopolitan, was very nice in its own way.

However, I missed so much in the time I was away, it really brought home to me what a happening place Kelowna is. I missed Diner en Blanc, the fabulous global all-in-white food happening. And there is currently a theatre festival on which I will try and check out over the coming weeks. Aah... so much to do, so little time.

I had best get doing. And writing.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sometimes life is more important than blogging.
Please stand by... Normal service shall resume shortly.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Cree's a Charm...

One of the things I love about smaller communities like Kelowna, is the connections - when six degrees of separation becomes more like three.  

Case in point. 

I recently worked the BC election, spending a 14 hour shift at Rutland Centennial as a Voting Officer - which could have been hell, if not for the fact that my partner for the day was the loveliest - and funniest - lady ever, who's son just happens to be an aboriginal jewellery designer by the name of Justin Rivard. After finding this out, of course I had to pop down to Turtle Island Gallery to have a look at his work. 

I really like aboriginal art, especially when the artists or craftsmen manage to add a contemporary element or angle to their work. Rivard has managed to do just that with his wonderful 'silver totem charms'. 

Think traditional Pandora charm bracelet, but with an added 'Cree' twist; Rivard's tiny silver totems are carved with traditional native animal or bird totems, like the eagle, raven, bear, wolf, hummingbird, killerwhale, etc, and fit any Pandora, or Pandora style charm bracelet.

What I also love about Rivard is the fact that he fell into carving and jewellery design by accident. According to Justin's website (and his mother!), his story goes like this:

'I was 21 in 1985, and I needed something to do -- the local technical school’s automotive program was full. My father, being actively involved in west coast native communities, introduced me to Ray Dumont, a local native artist. Ray suggested I try carving, and the rest, as they say, is history.'

Rivard's  design aesthetic fluctuates between west coast and plains styles, due to his having been raised on the West Coast but having roots in the Cree tribes of central Canada. 'Each offers its own unique quality, stories and history,' says Rivard, 'and its impossible for me to limit myself to just one type of design.' 

In addition to the totem charms, Rivard also creates a full jewellery line (bracelets, necklaces, earring and rings) and sells his gold and silver pieces at locations like Turtle Island Gallery here in Kelowna, and galleries in Vancouver; he  also is available to design custom pieces for private clients. 

'When I create a new piece, I always picture the wearer in mind. My job is to produce jewellery that makes the wearer feel good. Many of my favorite pieces came from custom requests, because I had a specific wearer in mind, and was able to shape the piece to that person’s personality and taste.'

For more information about Justin's work check out his website at, or pop down to the aboriginal treasure trove that is Turtle Island Gallery, #115 - 1295 Cannery Lane, Kelowna, BC, V1Y 9V8.

(PS: Justin Rivard's mom is really proud of him. TG(N)L couldn't agree more.)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Yum Yum Thai...

When it comes to Asian food, the one city that comes up absolute trumps is Vancouver - surpassing, in my humble opinion, even major centres like London and New York. There are a plethora of restaurants specialising in Pacific Rim cuisine, and Thai eateries like the Sawasdee on Main Street and the SalaThai.on Cambie have long been on my list of all time favourite eating spots.

I love eating, and restaurants, and Thai food has to be one of the yummiest categories known to mankind.  I also love great design - interior and otherwise. So imagine my delight in discovering Kelowna's newest downtown Thai restaurant, Mon Thong on Ellis, which just may become my new lunch-time favourite.

If the name sounds a tiny bit familiar, you wouldn't be wrong.  They have two other locations, the first at Orchard Plaza and the second in the Landmark 5 building. But their newest location really ticks all the boxes when it comes to a delicious and stylish eating experience. The white interior is fresh and contemporary, and provides the most urban of dining opportunities. The restaurant looks fantastic, and - happily - the food is also up to par.

Beautifully presented dishes cover all the usual favourites: crispy spring rolls and satay appetisers; spicy soups like Tom Yum Gai (spicy and sour chicken soup with lime leaves and fresh mushrooms) and Tom Ka Gai (a rich and spicy broth of lemon grass, coconut milk, galanga - that's Thai ginger to you and me - and tender chunks of chicken); mains like Pa-Nang curries (nutty flavoured red Thai Curry with coconut milk and your choice of meat), Pad King stir fries (your choice of meat stir-fried with baby corn, mushrooms, onions, pepper and ginger sauce); and noodle dishes like Pad Thai (a typical Thai lunch consisting of stir-fried noodles, shrimp (or your choice of meat), egg, tofu and green onions topped with bean sprouts and crushed peanuts).

There are also some choices that are new to my radar - I'm going back just to try the Pad Kee Mau - wonderfully described as 'stir-fried drunken meat (marinated in whiskey) in a ginger and chilli sauce'. Thai food and whiskey - now, that's one fusion I can get behind.

A small selection of traditional desserts are also on offer, including Sticky Rice with Mango, Thai Coconut Custard, and Jackfruit (which looks like slices of Mango but tastes more like Lychee) with either vanilla or green tea ice cream. For chocoholics, they also offer a Chocolate Lava Cake - which comes with vanilla ice cream, jackfruit, and raspberry sauce.

The dinner menu is even more extensive, and prices for both lunch and evening menus are reasonably prices with appetisers under $10, mains between $12 and $17, and deserts at $6.95.  The lunch menu also offers spring rolls and satay by the piece, and soups by the half order, which is a great option.

Mon Thong is located at:

1573 Ellis Street,
Kelowna, BC
Phone: 250.868.8009
Open from 11:30am to 9:30pm daily 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

SOPA: Painting the Town...

One gorgeously sunny afternoon in New York, I found myself in a little gallery in Chelsea near the High Line.  It was one of those chance discoveries while wandering the city, fueled no doubt by the New York 'Time Out' listings. I had gone to see a little exhibition by a couple of fashion photographers I was familiar with, but what I found instead, in the main gallery, was a wonderful exhibition by an artist whose work really moved me.  

The gallery was the Andrea Rosen Gallery on West 24th Street , the  artist was Elliott Hundley, and the exhibition was entitled "Agave of the Bacchae". His expressionist assemblage canvases were full of colour, and detail that needed to be looked at closely - including the thousands of tiny golden pins and wires that jutted out from the surfaces, giving them a depth and shimmer.  From a distance they were simply breathtaking, huge organic visuals, as were his large accompanying sculptures made from found objects like bits of wooden stools, magnifying glass, and folded paper. The whole experience was somehow transcendental.

That's what I love about contemporary art.  A good piece hits you on a very subliminal level.  It makes you...  feel.  Or makes you...  think.  Or... both. To me, the colour block paintings of Mark Rothko are hypnotic, and I could easily sit for an hour staring into the dark burgundy-black depths of No. 12 (Black on Dark Sienna on Purple) for hours, literally falling into the canvas.

But... this long rambling intro about the international art scene is merely getting me to the main focus of this blogspot.  The SOPA Fine Arts on Pandosy.  Because, I am very happy to report,  Kelowna has it's very own international contemporary art hot spot.  

Established in 2005 by self-confessed (according to her Twitter account!) 'Okanagan art maven'  Deborah Boileau, SOPA  brings contemporary art to Kelowna in a way that surely has serious collectors and budding art aficionados rubbing their hands together joyfully.   

The 2600 sq ft gallery changes its exhibitions monthly, and at the moment I am thoroughly entranced by Spanish-Canadian artist Jordi Alfaro's sensuously organic, rounded ceramic sculptures, and also by ex-Montrealer (now a Salt Spring resident) Michela Sorrentino's colourfully patterned cold wax and oil panels.

SOPA represents a veritable who's who of up-and-coming and established artists from as far afield as France and Germany and as close as the Okanagan Valley. The Good (New) Life recently contacted the lovely Ms Boileau to talk galleries and geography, with the following results:-

TG(N)L:. What was your idea/inspiration/driver behind starting the gallery here in Kelowna?

DB: My husband is an artist, and so early on we began collecting art. Over time, we grew to appreciate more contemporary artwork but found there weren’t any galleries here that specialized in it. SOPA Fine Arts has been a self-serving endeavour, since the gallery only represents artists whose work I also want to collect.  Now I waver somewhere between being passionate about art and being addicted to it.

TG(N)L:. What do you look for in the artists/work you chose for the gallery?

DB: Relevance is a big thing for me. I don’t want to represent an artist who chases market trends because that sort of work can become passé just as easily as it was in style. When an artist is making a genuine contribution to the art world, finding their own voice and following their own path, the work becomes timeless.

TG(N)L:. Where do the artists come from geographically? 

DB: We get submissions from all over, but we try to limit ourselves to North America. One of our artists lives in Germany now and another is heading to France soon... the rest are from Montreal, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Edmonton, Michigan, Louisiana, Denver, Victoria, Seattle... well, you get the picture. We also represent some really talented local artists. The key was that I wanted to connect the gallery to the larger art world, rather than staying too regional. Small communities often suffer from that stigma.

TG(N)L:.  Do you think Kelowna is becoming more open to contemporary art?

DB: I’ve seen a greater shift towards modern interiors here, which lends itself to contemporary art. But I’ve noticed that even if someone bought a contemporary painting because it suited their modern home, they could easily hang that same piece in a traditional home if they ever move. It’s not quite as easy to hang traditional work in a modern space though. I think more people are discovering this.

TG(N)L:. What advice would you give people looking to buy contemporary art for their homes?

DB: Look at as much art as you can. I always use a wine analogy for locals, since most of us can relate. You never want to invest in the first wine you enjoy, your palette will outgrow that soon enough. Art appreciation is pretty much the same, exposure is the key.

TG(N)L:. What are the price ranges at the gallery?

DB: Our clients love the quality of art we have in the $2500 – $5500 range. But we also sell work lower and higher than that... it all depends on the artist.

TG(N)L:.  What is YOUR very favourite art gallery in the world?

DB: Only one—that’s not fair!!!

SOPA FINE ARTS is located at: 
2934 South Pandosy St.  
Kelowna, BC  
V1Y 1V9
Tel: 250.763.5088

Gallery Hours: Tues-Sat: 11-5, Sun: 12-4 and by appointment.


Friday, 10 May 2013

A Little Recommendation is Good for the Soul...

One thing I don't miss about the big bad city (London, New York, LA, et al) is the furious level of competition generated by the ridiculously large populations.  Don't get me wrong, I think a level of competition is healthy, but in London it has reached a fever pitch, whereby it was not just 'dog eat dog', but 'cat eat cat' and even 'mouse eat mouse'. Everyone is fighting for every inch of space, which has generated the very unhealthy philosophy of thinking that if something good happens to anyone else, that means there is less for you. Blech. Sad face.

I much prefer to subscribe to a more spiritually enlightened philosophy that by helping and being happy for our fellow beings, we generate more good, not just for them, not just for us, but for everyone. Call me idealistic, or even hippy dippy, but that is how I chose to live my life.

And that, in part, is why my husband and I chose to move to Kelowna.  Small(er) towns still have a sense of community, and a sense of the greater good.  Nowhere better have I seen this exemplified than at the utterly lovely homewares store Olive & Elle.

Located on the corner of Pandosy and Lawrence downtown, owner Linda Povarchok and her right hand Kandace - being the lovely and approachable individuals that they are - found they were answering so many questions from tourists about where to go, or where to eat, or where to shop, that they have had cards printed up declaring 'Olive & Elle Recommend'. I LOVE this.

I think Lynda knows instinctively that being protectionist is not really good business. Shoppers will find their way to the best places in Kelowna, whether she helps them or not, so why not help them?  It's just good karma, and the little cards are great advertising for the store, and I'm sure they ensure a very good portion of these visitors return.

If you need any further convincing the Olive & Elle is full of nice people, deserving your shopping dollars, then have a quick read of the 'mission statement' on their website homepage.

'Olive & Elle was born out of a need and a desire to share wonderful things with wonderful people. In the four years that we've been open, we've befriended many of you who have passed through our doors and it's our absolute joy to continue to operate a sort of corner of domestic therapy in downtown Kelowna. Please do come visit soon and let us share our home with you.'

A little good will goes a long way and in times of economic austerity, I don't know about you, but I would much rather give nice people my money. Hurrah for Olive & Elle. Happy Face.


Olive & Elle is located at 1585 Pandosy, Kelowna, V1Y 1P5. Telephone: (250) 862-2778. Or check them out on line at their website or on their blog

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Good (New) Life Meets La Bonne Vie...

Doesn't everyone absolutely love it when you discover a new place to shop that utterly tickles your aesthetic fancy? LBV Designs (LBV stands for 'La Bonne Vie' - or 'the good life') on Pandosy is such a place for me. This little 'house-like' boutique is packed full of treasure for both the home and your wardrobe, and is an Aladdin's cave of style.

Owner Tracey Wickenheiser embraces design from a global perspective, then distills it into her own world view - and her shop would not be out of place on Melrose Avenue in LA or in New York's SoHo, London's Hoxton or Paris's Le Marais.  The fact that it is here is Kelowna is so cool, and makes me so happy, that I am actually dribbling.

La Bonne Vie's fashion department contains great labels like 7 for All Mankind, Current/Elliot (from whom I-want-I-want-I-want a pair of 'Boyfriend' jeans), 213 Industry, oneteaspoon (from whom I-want-I-want-I-want a pair of chambray 'Bobby Pants' or 'Surrender Super Baggies') and Rebecca Taylor (from whom I-want-I-want-I-want a 'Starflower Shift Dress'), Daisy Knight watches (which I will be doing a whole blog posting about, so stay tuned)... It's like LBV is Holt Renfrew packed into a 'Mini-Me' version.

Then there are the interiors.  Great coffee table books on fashion and design, felted cushions with a beautifully crafted skull motif, a slender fourposter bed with elegantly hooved feet, a 70's-spikey 'Orion' Mirror, and gorgeous wall coverings in deco'esque geometric patterns in sumptuous colours like plum, jade, blush pink and powder blue, mixed with metallic silvers and golds ... LBV's aesthetic for the season is all about modern maximalism, and what a tonic it is.

And... what's in the shop is only the tip of the iceberg, at least as far as interiors are concerned.  Tracey can work with you, bringing in a wide variety of things from her carefully chosen suppliers, to create the kind of home of which you dream.  Whether you want to go whole hog, which could get you featured in magazines like 'Style at Home', or simply pick a few perfect pieces to add oomph to your current decor, your home can't help but be better off.

If I sound like I'm gushing, well... I am. The Good (New) Life [La Bonne (Nouvelle) Vie] has meet La Bonne Vie [The Good Life] and thinks we may well become BFF's.

Images sourced from La Bonne Vie

I've decided that book launches in Kelowna are like buses in London.  You wait ages for one, and then three come along at the same time. I've already talked about the ones for novelist Corinna Chong and poet Tim Linburn, and recently I popped in to new Kelowna bar and grill, Social 242, for a launch party to celebrate local author Becky Komant.

As well as being a writer, Komant is a business woman, personal trainer, and life coach, offering people help and support with all aspects of their lives. It was a lovely evening, and I was able to chat to her about both herself and her new book, The Controlled.

TG(N)L: Are you originally from Kelowna? If not where are you from and how did you end up in Kelowna?
BK: ‘I am a Kelowna girl – born and raised.  I couldn't think of a better place to grow up and also to raise my four children’.

TG(N)L: What made you decide to write: a) a book? and b) this particular story?

BK: ‘I honestly had a vision of writing a fitness book for years which took a wild twist into an dramatic adult suspense!   How did it get there?  A chance run in at the airport with a client and a conversation later, I started taking notes in my iPhone and my journey started.  After sharing some of my ideas, it ignited something inside of me. I wanted to write a book that was not only entertaining but that people could relate to on different levels, such as self doubt, fear and control issues.  

I had a great idea for a story that brewed for several years and figured that I could intertwine many different elements together and create a fiction book that would not only entertain, but it would touch on many issues people deal with in life.’   

TG(N)L How did your work as a life couch influence or help with the writing of The Controlled?

BK: ‘I have been a fitness trainer for years.  I find as a trainer, coaching goes far beyond the physical aspect.  Because of that I became a Certified Life Coach.  It is my passion to help others and because of that I wanted to weave many challenges into the story line.

It is those challenges that make the story so intriguing but also give some readers hope and strength to fight for their freedom from any issues they may be dealing with.  It also is a great story for those in search of a suspense thriller full of intrigue, seduction, blackmail, lies and manipulation.’

TG(N)L: What is your favourite thing about the book or story?

BK: ‘It is hard for me to pick a favourite part of the story.  It would give away the plot.  I enjoyed developing the character Sarah and watching her evolve as she struggled to find her path.’

TG(N)L: What was the most challenging thing about writing the book?

BK: ‘The most challenging part about writing the book was where to end it.  I guess I can put a little hint out there that there is a sequel in the works!’ 

TG(N)L: Did living in Kelowna have any influence on the story in any way?

BK: ‘I wouldn't say living in Kelowna influenced the story but it would be fair to say that growing up in Kelowna and my path in life has made me who I am today. If I had chosen another path, who knows where I would be!’ 

'The Controlled' is Komant’s first book, and is a sexy adult thriller – synopsis as follows:

'Who is in control of YOUR life?

Fitness model and mother of 5 Sarah Ruiz thinks her future is as bright as the Miami sun. By the time she realizes a stranger, who is hell-bent on destroying her, has wormed his way into her life, she finds herself backed into a corner with no apparent way of escape.

The Controlled is an adult dramatic thriller for mature readers who have a thirst for a mystery laced with sexual tension and suspense. Get ready for a fast-paced, hot ride that traverses Miami, New York, and Las Vegas, with a glimpse into the dark side of human nature.'

Sounds like a perfect summer poolside read to me, and I am all for supporting local talent.  

The Controlled is published through BK Press, and you can order your copy through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or through your local bookstore.

ISBN: 978-0-9918115-0-2

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Plays the Thing...

I love live theatre, but will fully admit to being a full blown theatre snob.  I like my theatre challenging, intelligent, evocative and provocative, and have a great distaste for what I call 'theatre for couch tours/tourists'; I walked out of 'Cats', and have never seen 'Les Miserables' on principle (although I do hear the latter is actually quite good). For better or worse, that's just me.

So when visiting New York, one of my very favourite things to do is hit the Times Square 'TKTS' booth and get great cut price tickets to the best Broadway has to offer.  The last time, the highlight of my cultural frenzy was seeing 'Venus in Fur' at the Lyceum Theatre.  It was my 'wild card' choice of the trip; I didn't know that much about the production (apart from, of couse, having read the original Leopold von Sacher-Masoch book years ago) but... 1. It was pouring rain; 2. I desparately wanted to escape the inclement elements with an afternoon matinee; and 3. this was one of the few plays left on offer whose time frames fit my schedule.

It is so great when things work out.

The play itself was amazing... everything I look for in a theatrical experience, and the cast was also brilliant.  As a matter of fact, the two actors went on to win accolades for their performances: Nina Arianda won the 2012 Tony for Leading Actress for her electric performance as Vanda, and Hugh Dancy (he of 'Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene'  and 'Hysteria') received a Drama Desk 'Best Actor' award nomination for his role as Thomas.

So... when I saw posters advertising the play at the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country, I was intrigued.  I really wanted to see what the Fred Skelton Theatre Company would make of this challenging, and rather edgy play, and how this local production would stack up to the one I saw on Broadway - no pressure there. The answer is... pretty darn good.  Dorothy Dalbi was really quite fabulous as Vanda, the mysterious/ditzy/and possibly menacing auditioning actress to Neville Bowman's most competent Thomas, the 'play within a play's' adaptor/director.  And, again, the play - in and of itself - is quite simply... wonderful.

I also couldn't help but think what a brave choice it was for director Shannon Moore. The play's content is challenging and sexually charged, and the vocabulary - at times - the other side of blue.  To see it performed in a smaller metropolitan centre like Kelowna (the theatre was full, and the audience very appreciative - the performance I attended garnered a standing ovation) bodes well for the intelligence of theatre buffs in the area.  Hurrah.

Final words... if this is theatre in Kelowna, I'm going to be one happy bunny.  More please.

'When a young actress shows up hours late for her appointment, she knows she may have blown her chances at the role. But when her emotionally charged audition for the demanding playwright/director becomes an electrifying game of cat and mouse that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, love and sex—well, the rules may have all just changed.'

Pictures sourced from Fred Skelton Theatre Company, Kelowna