5 Reasons Why You Should Meditate and My Visit to Bodhi Meditation Vancouver

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When I did my yoga teacher training in 2013, one of my goals was to ‘figure out’ how to meditate. I had been practicing yoga for many years, but there was a piece of my practice missing. And I was so desperate to calm my mind the **** down and find some stillness for myself after a couple years of health issues and and overall stress.

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Guest Post: Gill Murray’s Food Photography Hacks for Instagram Worthy Images with Your Smartphone

Instagram has become more than a fun place to share photos. It has become a community. I know that social media has its downsides, but a fun part for me is connecting with people via the app and then having the opportunity to meet them in person. The Blog Pod girls are an example of this and so is the lovely Gill Murray, a Scottish food photographer and blogger that I met a few years ago when she liked one of my Scotland photos. We’ve kept in touch and I was so happy to meet her in person last year when I was back in Edinburgh. She is a gorgeous human being inside and out. 

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City Girl Connects: An Edna SMaK x West Coast City Girl Collaboration – Skyline Yoga Leggings

One legged downward dog, hip opener

Instagram is probably one of my top five favourite things about the 21st century, so far. One of the reasons is that I have met so many lovely people via the app in the last couple of years; one of those being Shamiza Ali, girl boss and designer of a local apparel brand, Edna SMaK. Yep, Edna SMaK. Just the name made me want to further explore, and she designs lofely clothes that work for every body. She is a super sweet girl with a motivating entrepreneurial spirit, and I am so excited to share a little collaboration we worked on together for a pair of leggings. But first, a little bit about her!

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#12DaysofHygge – Day 8: Candles & Cocktails + City Girl Connects with French Seventy Six

Candles are… Practical. Sensory. Fanciful. Romantic. Celebratory. Cozy. The perfect lighting for a photograph. A major player in making a space feel hygge.

As Buddha once said:

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Continue reading “#12DaysofHygge – Day 8: Candles & Cocktails + City Girl Connects with French Seventy Six”

City Girl Connects: Interview with Townsite Brewing’s Michelle Zutz

The Brit and I spent Thanksgiving long weekend on BC’s Sunshine Coast. While there, we had the opportunity to visit Powell River’s award-winning Townsite Brewing, and I was given the reins of their Instagram account. The opportunity for that and this interview came from me taking a chance to reach out and Townsite coming back to me with an open mind to try something new. It’s very similar to the Townsite Brewing story. I sat down with Michelle Zutz (Townsite Brewing Co-Founder, Boss Lady, Director of Sales, Working Mum, and all-around Great Gal), both in person and electronically, to talk about how a perfect storm of events became a Sunshine Coast success story and what it’s like being female in a mostly male-dominated industry. Also, a fun giveaway for one lucky Vancouver beer lover!

WCCG: Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way. What is your favourite Townsite beer?

MZ: Gah!! That’s like asking which of my three children is my favourite!  Well from our flagship lineup – I love our Tinhat IPA.  But from our specialty lineup – the Assemblage Wild Blend. A mixture of vintages turns this lovely creation into a dry, effervescent wild ale with mineral-like qualities.

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WCCG: How did Townsite Brewing come to be?

MZ: It was the “Perfect Storm”! People from all over and with all different backgrounds, strengths, and attitude coming together.  From, truthfully, in the beginning calling a “for lease” number that was on our historic building about what the owner thought about starting a Craft Brewery.  His response “Sounds like a great idea, do you need some seed capital, and help with a business plan?”…..UMMM YES! We, fortunately (hallelujah!) then found Cedric (Brewmaster) and Chloe (General Manager) to add to our team.

They came with a brewing business background and were attempting to start their own place in Saskatoon. They married up with our plan, which had the building and the capital – and of course, we all had the attitude! BAM.  The Perfect Storm. Cedric then brewed an amazing Stout by the same name – which I understand you were quite fond of!

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WCCG: Having met you in person, first of all, you have become a new role model for me; and second, you have a really positive “let’s do this!” energy and attitude. Do you find that energy is one of the keys to your success as a not only a female leader but an overall leader in a mostly male-dominated industry?

MZ: A role model – wow, thank you! That’s a humbling statement. For me, with so many balls in the air – the business, my family, the constant and chaotic lifestyle of my children and their activities – I would say my energy level is part magician, part circus act and part “we can do this” attitude, with a huge influx of caffeine driven stamina! You can look at a wall that is in front of you, and decide whether you should climb it, go around, turn around – or break it down!  All but one is getting you to the other side and your goal. I am fortunate enough to be part of a business that allows my strengths to be appreciated and often exploited!

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WCCG: What is your favourite part about running a business?

MZ: Constantly changing, and having no choice but to think on your feet and run with that ball when it gets dropped – or handed off.  I have an amazing team that keeps evolving right along with our business. The perks of having a business in a small town where you live, play and spend your dollars is that you are just like Norm from Cheers: everywhere you go, everyone knows your name!

WCCG: What learning opportunities have you encountered since Townsite’s inception that have helped make positive strides at the brewery, and have helped you grow as a businesswoman?

MZ: Everything has been a learning curve for me with this endeavor.  Early on when I would be asked for “budget” – I truly had no idea what was being asked of me.  I would smile, and say “well, we don’t have much of one, but you have me! And maybe some coasters one day”.  Many would keep asking for budget, and some would straight out ask me what the kickbacks would be for them bringing my beer on. To say that I was shocked is an understatement! Kickbacks??  I was offering them a superior craft product delivered to their door and created by a Belgian-born Brewing Engineer! Being the Director of Sales, but also an owner gave me the unique position of actually understanding both sides. The fact that kickbacks are illegal in our industry didn’t make it shocking that folks were asking; I was just surprised that they expected me to follow big beer’s awful tradition of paying for taps! So I have to say, naiveté of the industry at the beginning and fully learning from the ground up allowed me to be stronger in both my position of sales as well as a businesswoman. 

I have created relationships with my customers that go far beyond my business. I am not only an ambassador of Townsite Brewingbut also to fellow BC craft breweries that share our philosophy of business, and to our region of the Sunshine Coast, with all that it brings.  When folks say they don’t want to share another piece of the proverbial pie, we say loud and proud: “JUST MAKE THE PIE BIGGER!”  There is definitely room for all of us.


WCCG: After spending time in the tasting room, the main vibe I got was community and comfort. The Brit and I didn’t want to leave! Everyone knew everyone and it was a really cozy space to be in. As you and I have chatted about, I’ve been digging into the Danish concept of hygge. To paraphrase your tagline, the tasting room seems to be where it’s at for being hyggelig. How did Townsite approach the design and feel when expanding the tasting room?

MZ: We absolutely felt that expanding the tasting room was going to give our regular patrons more elbow room (previously, there was only room for 10!) We didn’t envision it changing the patrons to our space as much– but it did! We always had tourists making their way in, and the local superfans,but the expansion created a space for more of Powell River to hang out. From various games and cards (and crib tourneys!) available, to retro video games, (Ms. Pacman anyone?) to locals sharing stories of what makes our region so magical with locals. All things that make people want to keep coming back!  Townsite IS where it’s at, and we are excited to be a part of the resurgence of the area as a popular destination for people of all life experiences.

It’s a place to come as a group to make some memories and visit with our friendly and knowledgeable staff. You might want to just kick back on your own with a book and a creamy stout, or a bright and tart sour ale, or perhaps a rich Belgian Dubbel… Or if you aren’t a beer drinker, we have local Kombucha on tap from our community partner, Raincoast Kombucha.

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WCCG: Thank you, again, for the opportunity to take over the Townsite Instagram account! It was a lot of fun and it was a great way to bridge our followers. Do you feel that social media has impacted the way craft brewers do business? Has it made everything more ‘local’ in your view?

MZ: I would not say it has impacted the way we do business, as our “head down, boots on” attitude is how we keep moving forward.  However, social media was our one and only mode of advertising in the early years, and it worked. Now we need to utilize its strengths – but also use our own creativity to step outside the bounds of what is considered “the norm.” Which is why we were excited to have the Townsite Instagram takeover with your blog!

WCCG: You may have noticed that I like to end my blog posts with quotes. Do you have a favourite quote?

MZ: Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back!

WCCG: Thank you for taking time with me!

MZ: Thank you, thank you for your fabulous insight, your great photos, and your inspirational attitude!

WCCG: And I’m blushing.

~

Thanks so much to Michelle for taking time with me and to the Townsite Brewing family for making the Brit and I feel most welcome! Be sure to check out my guest post on the Townsite Brewing blog about their tasting room. Also, as promised…

GROWLER GIVEAWAY!

As part of our recent collaboration, Michelle and Townsite have offered up a great giveaway prize for me to give to one lucky Vancouver beer lover: one of their stainless steel, double-walled growlers! Perfect for a refill of your craft beer or even as a thermos for soup. (I am very practical!) How to enter: *THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED*

Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back!

~ Unknown

City Girl Connects – Little Me Paper Co.

It’s still the first full week of January, but as soon as January 1 – dare I say even Boxing Day – hit, the Valentine’s Day cards hit store shelves. Cinnamon heart season is around the corner, folks!

With this in mind, I present to you the first WCCG Connections profile for 2015: the lovely Leanne Govier, talented owner and designer at the Little Me Paper Co. Leanne is a British ex-pat living in Calgary; an honorary West Coast city girl, having lived in Vancouver prior to moving across the Rockies. She creates sweet custom illustrations for greeting cards, posters, and other paper items. She was a busy girl this Christmas season, but took some time mid-December to have a virtual chat.

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My custom portrait from a favourite photo. I’m on the hunt for a perfect frame! Photo: Leanne Govier
WCCG: Where did the idea for Little Me Paper Co come from?

LG: I have always dreamed of owning a little paper goods shop. I would make cards for my friends and family to celebrate special occasions and they would always tell me that I should sell them. Then last Christmas I painted a tiny portrait of my mum and I, I wanted to give her a special card as I couldn’t get home for Christmas (I moved to Canada from England 3 years ago). She absolutely adored the little illustration and how personal and special it was. After making a couple of other portrait cards for friends and family, I opened my etsy shop in August with a handful of examples and within 3 days I got my first ‘cha-ching!’. It all kind of snowballed from there and I branched out into prints, greeting cards, wedding stationery, quotes and other customizable items. I actually just celebrated my 130th Etsy sale!!!

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Leanne at the recent Calgary Market Collective Photo: Mike Tan
WCCG: Based on your Instagram posts, it looks like you have a lot of holiday card orders coming in. How does it feel to know that your artwork will be given and mailed all over the world?

LG: It feels absolutely amazing. I get so excited to pile up my packages and imagine them traveling all over the world. Knowing that my artwork will be displayed in peoples houses is so special. I have Christmas cards being sent around the USA, Canada and the UK this holiday season, it is so special and gives me goosebumps.

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WCCG: What has running your own business felt like? Favourite things, challenges?

LG: It has been exhilarating. I am excited to keep working hard and to hopefully take my company to the next level. I work another another full time job, so that has definitely been my biggest challenge as I always have more ideas than time. But my favourite thing has been seeing my ideas come to life and connecting with people all over the world . I love my job and I cannot wait to see what 2015 holds for LMPC!

I’ve heard tell that what you imagine sometimes comes true.

~ Grandpa Joe / Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

WCCG: Outside of LMPC, what are your interests? I know that you are also a talented actress.

LG: Yes! I work as an actress several times throughout the year which is my other passion. I also love to write and am currently writing and illustrating my first children’s book which should be published next year. Apart from that, I am happily engaged and looking forward to getting married in the New Year.

WCCG: And the wedding stationery will be amazing!

With Valentine’s Day coming up, a Little Me Paper Co card or portrait is the perfect way to say “I love you”. Visit the Little Me Paper Co shop on Etsy and enter code WCCG10 at check out for a 10% discount off of your purchase. Ready made and custom quote options are available. Just click away!

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Photo: Leanne Govier
CONNECT:
Instagram: @littlemepaperco

City Girl Connects – All A’glow Designs

I’m very proud to post my first City Girl Connects profile featuring my beautiful friend, Julie Barata – fellow alternative baking enthusiast, mom of two – soon to be three! – beautiful children, and owner and designer of All A’glow Designs.

I have some lovely jewelry designed by Julie; and she makes fantastic custom pieces (like the earrings I commissioned a few years ago for my bridesmaids and the cute bracelet she made for our flower girl). She has a knack for making quality pieces that are fresh, pretty, and classic – all at a great price point.

Let’s connect!

WCCG: What made you start designing jewelry?

JB: I have always had a creative side to me. Growing up when most of my friends dreamed of becoming teachers, doctors, chefs or firefighters, I wanted to become a fashion designer. Jump ahead to 2008, when I was planning my wedding…I wanted to give my bridesmaids jewelry that would match mine. When I couldn’t find anything from a store, I thought, “I bet I can make it myself!” I spent about half an hour chatting with the owner of a beautiful bead shop close to my home, purchased some tools and supplies and got to work! I instantly fell in love with designing and creating jewelry.

WCCG: Why “All A’glow”?

JB: All A’glow is taken from a line in the song “So This is Love” from Cinderella. When I was little, I watched Cinderella every day. Every. Single. Day. Often more than once. It drove my three older brothers nuts. When I got married, my husband and I used that song for our first dance. And now, although not surprisingly, my 3 year old daughter’s favorite movie is also Cinderella! So “All A’glow” has a lot of sentimental meaning to me.

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Photo: Jennifer Marie Photography

 

WCCG: As the proud owner of some of your pieces, some of them custom, I can safely say you have a good eye. I actually nearly cried when I thought I had lost a particular necklace when I was away this summer. Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

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Said necklace. One of my favourite pieces of jewelry.

JB: First of all, I’m so glad you like your jewelry so much! I find inspiration in many places. I grew up loving to look through my grandmother’s jewelry. I’m inspired by vintage jewelry as I find such pieces tell stories and have character which is often lacking from modern designs.

I’m also very inspired by nature. I’m fortunate to have a view of tall trees and sky from my living room.  Some days I’ll make myself a cup of tea and just sit and stare outside in awe. I think that’s why I love to work with recycled wood. With the help of a local woodworker, I’m fortunate enough to be able to bring my ideas to life with one-of-a-kind accent pieces and pendants.

WCCG: Your pieces are a combination of classic and fresh. Who are you designing for?

JB: I’m designing for women who want to wear pieces that are unique, simple and beautiful. I strive to make things that you just can’t find in a store, no matter how hard you try! I design for people like myself, who appreciate quality and style but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get it.

 

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Photo: Jennifer Marie Photography

WCCG: What has running your own business felt like? Favourite things, challenges?

JB: Running a business is challenging but also very rewarding. I never realized just how much work goes into launching an online shop and I have an entirely new appreciation for other small business owners.

My  favourite thing is the flexibility I have to design as I feel inspired. I can go days without making anything. Then one day, an idea will pop into my head and I know that’s the night to get to work! Nothing is forced and I hope it shows in my designs.

The most challenging thing for me is being seen. I do sales through Etsy as well as Facebook and have posted a few things on Instagram, which I plan to focus on more in the future. I find there are so many vendors on these websites that it’s tough for people to find my shop unless they’ve heard of me by word of mouth. I’ve spent the last few months networking with other crafters, trying to cross-promote each other and gain more followers.

WCCG: You are a busy wife, and mom of two (soon to be three!) beautiful children. Has being able to work from home made balance easier?

JB: I absolutely love being able to work from home. It’s a joy and a blessing to be able to spend my days with the kids. Jewelry has definitely taken a back-burner to watching the kids as they’re 3 and 1, which are both very demanding ages. But it is nice that I can work online, fixing up the shop, adding new items and networking while they’re entertaining each other during the day and bedtime is 7pm which leaves my evenings free for designing…when I have the energy!

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Photo: Rebecca Sehn

Shop: www.allaglowdesigns.etsy.com (Still have some holiday shopping to do? Until December 24, enter code HOLIDAY25 at checkout for a 25% holiday discount on your purchase!)

Website: www.facebook.com/aglowdesigns

Instagram: @All_Aglow_Designs

I’ve never thought of my jewelry as trophies. I’m here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty.

~Elizabeth Taylor