Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a doggie dog world in Steveston

It’s not Paris but dogs are obviously very near and dear to the Stevestonite heart.

Just take a walkabout on a sunny day and your legs might get tangled up in a leash or two.

A short jaunt past the waterfront restaurants and you risk kicking stainless steel water dishes and even a doggie biscuit.

And guess what’s the most popular ice breaker when two dog walkers come head to head on the street?

I don’t know how many canines call Steveston home and the ratio of owners to dogs, but a friend hires herself out as a pet boarder and care-giver. Let’s just say that if she were to strike the word “no” from her vocabulary, she would spend her days – and evenings – jogging beside, tripping over, and having her shoulders pulled out of their sockets by a convoy of canines. Or even by one solitary pooch. There is no shortage of clients, it seems.

For those of you who are ailurophiles, take heart. Steveston is not an exclusive bark community. Now and then, you can see a furry face with whiskers atwitchin' in a window.

Or see a bushy striped tail brushing past someone’s flowerbed. But cats prefer to preserve their dignity by keeping a low profile.

I often bemoan the fact that mine refuses to walk beside me on a leash, peek out of a pet tote, ponder the road ahead from a bicycle basket, or just press itself next to my ankles while I read a book in an outdoor café.

Instead, he prefers his own company. In fact, his favourite indoor activity is to perch himself atop his favourite stool and spy on Mr. Crow or Mr. Squirrel on our front lawn - while his whiskers tremble and his tail swishes back and forth.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An early Steveston Christmas greeting!

Some of you will be going through this front door in the coming weeks.

You will be hugging Christmas cards and parcels as you figure out whether you have enough days till December 25th.

I was walking past this beloved landmark when I decided to deck it out in seasonal decorations and see what happens.

First I came up with a postcard:

Then I added a dolly and a couple of parcels and made up a Christmas art card:

If you like them and want to send them out to spread some Christmas cheer, they are available for sale.

I will be participating in the South Arm Community Association Christmas Craft Fair on November 19th and the Steveston Community Centre Christmas Craft Fair on November 26th.

If you can't make it on both days, no worries - just email me through this website and we can make it happen.

Hope to see you at the fair!

If not, let's plan to bump into each other in the post office.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bare Basics: silk, lace, and a lot of spirit

Looking into Bare Basics' front windows is like peeking into the pages of the Victoria Secret's catalog.

Only better.

You still get to see some lovey lacy lingerie, but without the gorgeous models that make you feel, well, less than perfect.

There is nothing judgmental about a set of mannequins. And you can actually imagine yourself wearing the same things that they do, well, may be not the more skimpy ones. Not me, anyway.

Those belong on long and lean ladies, like this one...

I find Bare Basics' window displays very pleasing to the eyes.

One in particular, really lit the entire village's imagination. Was it just the 2010 Olympics spirit that had its grip on all of us British Columbians?

I may be biased but, I think that Bare Basics' display trumped all the others. Who else could have expressed our pride and hope with nothing more than feather boas and lace.

Chickens lend their charm to London Farm scene

I was asked to add another facade to my Stevestonlife heritage building collection.

London Historical Farm is a sprawling 4.06 acre site that includes gardens, a barn, a small museum, a sprinkling of chickens, and of course, the stately farmhouse itself.

Behind the front gate, this white structure is graced with ornate pillars, tall windows, and a porch that suggests warm conversations over tea and freshly baked scones. In my imagination at least.

I arrived on location on a cold spring morning, to scout the area and take some photos.I trudged back and forth and around the building, trying to find the best angle for my pictures and avoid trampling on some terra cota pots littering the ground.

Moisture from the rain-soaked grass soon seeped through my shoes and socks. My hair grew damp. And it was only with great reluctance that I peeled my right glove off so I could press on the shutter button.

And press I did.

Snap, snap, snap, went the camera, as my nose and fingertips edged ever closer to total numbness and paralysis.

Back at home, a few weeks later, I finished applying the last dots and dashes and stepped back from the picture for a final inspection. Yes, the farmhouse appeared complete, with all the details in place. But, for some reason, it appeard dull and lifeless.

I cycled through all the photos I took that day and the answer leapt out at me. Of course, the chickens!

With renewed vigor, I added the clucking, pecking, and jostling group of hens and the proud rooster that kept on giving me the "What in tarnation are you doing?" look. To show that I bore him no resentment, I graciously pencilled him in, in the place of honour no less - perched prominently and authoritatively on the porch railing.

Only then did the London Farm scene come alive - with colourful blossoms springing up in the tidy flowerbed and chickens huddled over spilled seeds in the front yard. Charming!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jerusalem in the window

Do you remember this beautiful representation of the City of Jerusalem in the centre of a ship's steering wheel?

In 2009, it adorned the front window of Romania Country Bread.

The bright splashes of colour and bold black strokes reminded me of a child's colouring book. I was so smitten that I had to take a closer look and take a couple of photos.

Years later, and long after the wheel had been taken down, I decided to recreate this image. It was then that I decided to see whether those tall towers, stately buildings, and endless walls really existed in Jerusalem.

After Googling various sites, I was delighted to recognize a few landmarks: The Dome of the Rock, the Tower of David, the quaint neighbourhood alleys and pathways - surrounded by the stonewall of Jerusalem's Old City. Of course, never having traveled to Israel, I was only guessing and if I have made a mistake, please correct me.

Jerusalem is probably on just about everyone's list of must-see places. I myself dream of packing my bags and catching the next plane out to this ancient city. Until then, I'll just take a peek at my picture now and then and imagine it coming to life once I set foot on this world heritage site.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Can you ever just walk past Nikaido in Steveston?

I would say "no."

What is it about Nikaido's window displays that seems to draw you in, root you to the spot, and transport you to ... elsewhere.

May be it's their maps of Paris, or books on London, or - your childhood favourite - adventure books of Tin Tin by Georges Remi.

May be it's the way they artfully arrange things in clean zen-like simplicity.

Or cluster objects of monochromatic colours to make you think of similarities instead of differences and harmony instead of contrast.

Or prop up whimsical posters like this one of a lady trying to escape the winter chills with seven pots of tea.

Whatever their formula is for this arresting experience, I can tell you that it works.

Just look around you the next time you find yourself gawking into Nikaido's windows. I did. And this was what I saw...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bell's Bake Shop serves cups of sweetness to Steveston

Please welcome Jennifer Bell, who opened her cupcake shop in Steveston on December 10th, 2010.

Jennifer is a Richmond girl who left home to seek culinary adventures in Merry Old England. While living in the old country for four years, Jennifer immersed herself in the pastry world and her last three months abroad was spent in - yes you guessed it - a cupcake shop.

No wonder then that, when she returned home, she dreamed of opening up her own bakeshop.

"I was thinking of offering full size cakes that would be sold by the slice," says Jennifer. "But cupcakes are a lot easier. And there is less waste because I just hate waste."

Currently there are nine regular flavours on her display shelves. They stand in cozy - and creamy - clusters, sporting such dreamy labels as:
1-Devils food cupcake with dark chocolate frosting
2-Banana cupcake with butterscotch frosting
3-Carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting
4-Confetti cupcake with vanilla frosting
5-Vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting
6-Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting
7-Rich chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting
8-Coconut cupcake with coconut frosting
9-Lemon cupcake with lemon frosting

"At the moment, I have one gluten free flavour that's available every day. In the future, I will be offering diabetic and vegan cupcakes as well," continues Jennifer.

And if you tend to think big, Jennifer can also whip you up a giant cupcake, which is available by pre-order only.

For the moment, Jennifer's nine everyday flavours would satisfy a heck of a lot of preferences, including the newly introduced maple bacon cupcake for those who like to depart from the strictly sugar and spice variety. My personal favourite is the lemon cupcake which is as light and refreshing as a burst of sunshine.

The next time you find yourself on First Avenue, why not poke your head in and pick your own this irresistible lot!