Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vintage, for the Win!

Winning vintage china
Winning vintage china

Relics from a bygone era. Treasures from decades past. Whatever you call them, we have become a culture obsessed with all things vintage. I am an unapologetic member of this culture; an aging hipster who still gleefully snaps up Don Ho vinyl records, Pyrex bowls, and English bone china teacups. Thus, I was very happy to have won a Royal Stafford June Roses teacup and saucer, as well as a Robert Gordon tea infuser from Liv Lovely, an exhibitor at the vintage fair I attended yesterday, Town and Country Vintage Market.

A Compelling Narrative

This particular prize has got me thinking, though. Why do I love vintage items so much? The vast majority of the retro and vintage ephemera I’ve collected over the years were made decades before I graced the planet with my presence. Therefore, I can’t claim it’s any sort of nostalgia on my part. Perhaps, it’s because I’m a lover of stories. And, all vintage pieces seem imbued with a mysterious narrative. I find myself asking, “Who owned this?” “What kind of journey has this piece travelled?”

In the case of the teacup and saucer I won yesterday, my online research indicates that they were probably manufactured in the 1950s, and they definitely came from England. All it takes is this nugget of knowledge and I’m picturing a young lady sipping tea with her family and watching Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

A Different Kind of Reality

Another theory I have about my own, and indeed others’, love of vintage is that it centers on the longing for a different kind of reality. Now, I’m not suggesting that I don’t want to live in 2016. I certainly appreciate 21st century medical care, for example. No, it’s just a temporary escape that I seek. Vintage items give this kind of escape an authenticity. I used to watch Mad Men while sipping the same kind of cocktail as Joan out of my 1960s tiki mug, for example. For a little while, I didn’t have to keep checking my phone for messages or type on my laptop. Instead, I could imagine a time where it was really possible to go off the grid.

Town and Country Vintage Market


Repurposing the Past

From a practical point of view, adopting vintage items, rather than buying new ones makes a lot of sense. And I think that is primarily why Generation Y likes to go junking, engage in upcycling, etc. They see how much stuff there is and wonder if we really need to go on making more of it. As a 1980s kid, I remember this extreme consumerism at its height. From the huge gas-guzzling Oldsmobiles to shows like Dallas and Dynasty, the message to Gen-Xers like me was, “Make money and buy as much as you can!” Not surprisingly, this hasn’t made us the happiest generation on the planet. Now approaching middle age, I think many Gen-Xers look back at the 80s and shake our heads. This new appreciation for all things old and the desire to make them functional in a modern world is definitely a more positive path.

The Nitty-Gritty

So, this is my first win of 2016! It’s been a bit of a slow year for prizes so far, but again part of that is due to my own focus on career and school. It is difficult to estimate what this prize is worth. The other teacups and saucers being sold by the exhibitor were priced at $15, which seemed very reasonable to me, given that I saw prices going up to $100 online for the same cup and saucer I won. The tea infuser is a contemporary piece that is vintage-inspired and retails for about $15 as well in Australia. Consequently, I’m going to estimate this prize’s value at $30. I hope to write again soon about another great win!

2015 Ends With Two Wins!

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 was a great one for all of you, and that 2016 will bring you much joy and happiness. Personally, I’m sad to see 2015 go. I had one of my best years ever—a new job, great graphic design classes, a wonderful trip overseas, and some fantastic new friendships.

With all the changes in my professional and personal life, I didn’t have as much time for entering contests in 2015. However, I did have some memorable wins earlier this year and December ended with two wins; a great way to end 2015.

The first was a $50 drink and appie voucher for the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier (North Vancouver) courtesy of Got Craft? I enjoy going to this craft show every year before Christmas and this year was an especially nice experience because of the meal I shared with my mother at the hotel preceding the event. Here are the two appetizers we had:

Charcuterie Plate
Charcuterie Plate
Fish Tacos
Fish Tacos







Both were absolutely delicious! The charcuterie plate delighted us with its array of cheeses, prosciutto, pate, dried cranberries, and more. The fish tacos were also very unique, as they were wrapped in jicama and had a light and fresh flavour that we both enjoyed.

Our server was very friendly and the restaurant had lovely Christmas decorations that put us in the festive spirit for some crafting at the market.

My last prize of the year was a CND Vinylux nail polish set which I won via an online holiday giveaway launched by The Style Spy. I will be receiving my prize in January. If you’d like a preview of what’s due to arrive at my doorstep in the coming weeks, click here. This final prize is worth $137, making my total winnings for the year $412.

So ends 2015. A year I’ll look back on with fondness. 2016 promises to be an exciting one as well, with more changes coming my way! Here’s hoping for some more wins too!


The Adventures of a Shutterbug

I’ve always loved taking photos. I took one course in high school and one in college, and enjoyed snapping away. However, I despised developing in claustrophobia-inducing darkrooms. Fortunately, digital has put an end to all that. I’ve also received an injection of new motivation recently. I was fortunate enough to get an iPhone 6 for Christmas. Now, I have an easy-to-carry lens with me wherever I go and no excuse not to take photos.

Back in August, I went to Cultus Lake Adventure Park and took this photo:

Cultus Lake photo

It’s one of the many rides I went on that day. I even braved the rollercoaster for what may have been the first and last time. The amusement park is a photographer’s dream, as there is an array of colours, lights, and the interesting juxtaposition of man-made whirling machines and the serene natural surroundings.

I garnered some very kind votes from friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, but lost out to a photo of a cute child. My niece and/or nephew will have to star in some future photo contest entries!

Win #3: A Night at The Fox Cabaret

The Fox CabaretDisco Ball


On Saturday night, I kicked off the long weekend with another win. This time, I won four tickets to The Fox Cabaret‘s HEAVEN. In case you’re unfamiliar with the venue, it used to be a XXX movie theatre. Then, like most theatres of its kind, lost its clientele to the Internet. This particular theatre wasn’t torn down though. It was reinvented as a venue for art, entertainment, music, and performance.

I had wanted to go to The Fox ever since it reopened when I found out that the management team behind the Waldorf Hotel had taken it on. They’d impressed me with their sense of retro cool at that location and seemed to have succeeded at recapturing it again at The Fox. The main floor felt warm and cozy and it was fun to dance to the music I remembered loving in my teens (Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, etc.).

The upstairs has a couple of small rooms. One allows you to look down upon the crush of dancers below. The other room is the old XXX movie theatre’s projection room. It has its own bar and vintage furnishings and is a lower key alternative to the dance floor action.

I would definitely recommend checking out The Fox. That said, I must admit that I felt rather out of its target demographic. I think the fact that I actually remember the tunes being played makes me a bit of a dinosaur; a bit depressing, given that I’m only in my late 30s. However, the evening did seem to belong to the hipster twenty somethings.

For a few brief moments on Saturday night, I flashed back to the height of my clubbing days in the 1990s. Smoky rooms filled with top-forty hits. Dancing with guys you’d cross the street to avoid in mid-daylight. Filthy bathrooms that you’d attempt to use without touching anything (these were the days before portable hand sanitizers). Then, getting home late at night, and having mum ask, “Have you been smoking?” No, I just smelled like an ashtray. I always spent the next morning washing everything and shampooing my hair multiple times to get the stench out.

I’m not nostalgic for those days. In fact, I think the hipsters have it better than we did. On the other hand, they have Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to capture every moment. IMHO, that’s where we, Gen X/Gen Y, have the upper hand. What happened in the 90s stayed in the 90s. Millennials are immortalizing their mistakes forever.

Note: This prize was worth $48.36


Year in Review: 2014

Moving Forward
Moving Forward

In the Christmas television classic, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, there’s a song that always rings true to me. It’s called, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” The crux of the lyrics is that change can come from just standing up and taking a few steps in a new direction. And, that’s what I tried to do in 2014 with my blog.

I continued to enter contests that would win me cash and prizes, but I also entered those that would challenge me. There were three examples of this.

The first involved taking photos of public art in Port Moody. I had hoped that one of my photos might be chosen and featured in the city’s 2015 calendar. Unfortunately, none of them were, but I learned a great deal in the process. I realized that I wasn’t aware that there was so much art in this city. Also, the act of going out and taking photos from multiple angles and trying to capture the best light was really enjoyable, as was the editing process later. Thus, photography has become an even more important part of my life than it was before, and learning Photoshop has certainly helped with that as well.

The second contest that challenged me was the DAVIDs Tea Contest, which I have blogged about at length and I invite you to reread my post here, if you haven’t already. All I’d like to add now to what I wrote before was that enjoyed stretching my creative muscles for this contest. I’m not a huge fan of puns and this naming challenge made me think outside of my comfort zone. That’s a really great exercise for a writer and something I resolved to do more of.

Consequently, we have reached the third contest: National Novel Writing Month. Again, I wrote about this at length here. Writing a 50,000+ word novel in a month is a huge task that I think I am still recovering from! Yet, I’m proud that I stuck it out. I’m happy I learned things through the research process and even waxed nostalgic about the early 1990s! In the end, I did win ten free ebooks from Kobo that added up to almost $50. I will really enjoy reading these in the coming winter months, especially as some focus on how to become a better writer.

So, that’s it. 2014. Not a year that I really enjoyed, but certainly one filled with lots of learning and adventure. I’m looking forward to 2015 and more opportunities to become a better writer, editor, and person. All the best to all of you!

*Total cash and prizes won in 2014: approximately $240.00

National Writing Month


I was utterly exhausted after writing 50,000 words in a month, as well as going to school part-time and working on writing contracts. However, I am glad I did it!

My background in fiction writing is limited, but my non-fiction writing experience is rather vast and varied. Thus, I was interested to see how the process differed when it came to getting words on the page. After just three days into the contest, I realized I was in for a roller coaster ride. My imagination took off and my characters seemed to have wills of their own!

Let me pause here and give you a brief synopsis. My novel is called Two Women. It takes place in 1993 and 1994 in Vancouver, Victoria, Tokyo, and Kyoto. The first half of the novel is from a limited omniscient perspective and is focused on the life and relationships of a young woman called Cassandra. The second half of the novel is also in limited omniscient, but from the perspective of Michelle, a somewhat older woman. These women are linked by a man they are both involved with, though they don’t actually meet. The genre of the novel is women’s fiction and deals with questions like: What does it mean to be a feminist? How has modern technology changed relationships between people? How do we define success?

Anyway, I found that when I was writing this novel that every impactful experience I have ever had seemed to influence what I was writing. My characters’ personalities, their daily lives, and climatic moments all contained at least a flavour of the life I have led. That’s why the thought of showing the novel to anyone is so abhorrent to me. It is just such a revelatory document!

It is also very rough. It needs serious editing for continuity! It was very challenging to get the two women’s stories into the same time frame and have them mirror each other to a degree. Were I given the chance to do it over, I would definitely create a much more detailed outline. However, having two perspectives in the story was a choice I made along the way and I think the book is better because for it.

Would I ever write another novel? I don’t think so. I find real life and real people’s stories incredibly interesting. I also like the fact that I just tell those stories and don’t find my way into them. That said, I would certainly consider writing a short story or play. I think the brevity of those forms would allow me to express myself without giving too much away.

National Writing Month sponsors offer generous discounts to winners who want to get their novels published. There are also supposed to be some ebooks given to winners. More information is becoming available, so I will provide an update if I collect any prizes as such. However, I think what I have really won through this experience is new knowledge about myself, the writing process, and the importance of sticking with something and seeing it through to completion. I have always managed to do the latter in a professional capacity, but it was nice to do it for myself just this once.

How I Didn’t Quite Win A Tea Contest

The Contest

As some of you know, Davids Tea has a Mystery Tea Contest each year. They put out a blend for sampling and ask customers to submit names, based on the taste and ingredients in the tea. This year’s tea was a white tea blend of pineapple, melon, and mango. So, I was one of the customers who submitted names.

Coming Up With The Name

I believe the company got hundreds of names, as one customer announced on Twitter that she alone had submitted 35. The name I came up with occurred to me after tasting the tea at the Gastown store and having the clerk remind me how much Davids Tea likes puns (last year’s winner was “Mint to Be”). I was trying to think of words that rhymed with “melon”, rather than mango, as Davids Tea already has a number of mango-related names. Believe me, nothing good rhymes with pineapple.

Helen rhymes with melon. Famous people named Helen: Helen Keller, Helen Hayes…Helen of Troy! Thus, “Melon of Troy” was born and submitted to Davids Tea.

Making It To The Top Ten

After I sent in “Melon of Troy”, I kind of forgot about the contest. However, I wanted to vote when I saw a reminder notice on Facebook. I looked at the list of the top ten names and “Melon of Troy” was there! I was so elated. I’d been having a rather dull week and this surprise made things much better.

I started campaigning for “Melon of Troy”: sending out Tweets, posting on Facebook, e-mailing my friends and family, and even making an announcement in my graphic design class. I connected with a young woman on Twitter who tweeted that she was the originator of “Honey-I-Dew”. I was really impressed by such a creative submission and liked it almost as much as my own, and certainly more than the other options.

Finding Out I Didn’t Win

Tonight, on the way home from my Photoshop class, I found out that “Honey-I-Dew” won. I am a bit disappointed. Not because I didn’t win 250 grams of the tea, which frankly I didn’t like that much, but simply because it’s nice to have your creativity validated. I hope the nice young woman from Montreal who won is happy and will smile when she sees “Honey-I-Dew” on the Davids Tea wall in 2015. I am going to try not to wince. Maybe, I’ll just avert my eyes from the white tea section and remind myself that there’s always next year. 

Thank You For Voting and What I’m Up To Next

I’d like to thank everyone who voted for “Melon of Troy”. It was nice to have support from so many friends and family members. As that great sage Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life says, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

So, in terms of entering contests, I will still continue to enter contests as I see them, but the main contest I will be a part of is National Novel Writing Month. Basically, I will be writing 1667 words per day in the month of November. By the end, I should have a novel the length of The Great Gatsby, if not the quality. I win if I complete the required number of words by the end of the month. What do I win? A few discounts from online sites and the legitimacy to buy a t-shirt that says I “won” off the website. What I really win is the chance to cross off a bucket list item. I very much doubt I will show the novel to anyone when it’s finished. Yet, I’ll know I did it and it will stand as a relic of my perseverance, if nothing else.

Note: At the start of November, I will post a link if you’d like to follow my progress.

Got Craft?

Saturday morning crowd
Saturday morning crowd

Got Craft? is an inspiring event, which I have been fortunate enough to win passes to for two years running. As you can see from the picture above, I am not the only one who got up early this Saturday to marvel at all the creativity on display.

Just Beautiful!
Just Beautiful!

There’s always lots of jewellery at the show and this year I was especially struck by these gorgeous Shi Studio pendants. It was with great difficulty and tremendous self-restraint that I avoided picking up several of these beauties for myself.

Felting is so cool!
Felting is so cool!

I never get tired of checking out the felted creations at Got Craft? It is amazing how such a variety of things from wreaths to sushi displays can be created from these tiny fabric balls. If I had had more time, I might have joined one of the workshops and finally tried felting for myself. This is where Got Craft? stands out from other craft shows. Instead of just looking at all the work of others, you get the opportunity to try crafting for yourself. For example, in addition to the felting workshop, Spool of Thread had participants making fabric bows. Other workshops were also available for those who had signed up in advance.

My finds!
My finds!

So, as you can see, I didn’t entirely resist temptation and bought a few items. The first was from Karla’s Specialteas. I LOVE tea and think it is truly the best drink on the planet. However, instead of adding to my already vast collection of brews, I thought it was high time to announce to the world, via very pretty earrings, that I am a serious steeper!

Also, I love earrings and that is why I have yet again bought from Lana Betty. Her resin flower earrings are irresistible and at the show she was offering two pairs for $12; a great bargain! The red roses will be taking a trip to Greece later this month and will make a wonderful made-in-Vancouver present for my cousin.

Got Craft? has some tasty food samples, too. This year, I was won over by The Candid Confectioner and some highly original caramels. Have you ever had bourbon and orange caramels? Well, this was my first time indulging and it won’t be my last. They had an intense, memorable flavour that you must experience for yourself. Also, the texture was the right balance between hard and soft. Definitely a pleasure to chew!

Finally, on the way out the door, I signed up for Got Craft’s newsletter and received a free copy of UPPERCASE magazine. I have certainly flipped through this design-focused publication before and am very eager to give it a more in-depth look this week.

So, if you have time on Sunday, I sincerely hope you will check out Got Craft? Then, like me, get bitten by the crafting bug and start making something marvellous!

2013 Winnings in Review

2013 recently came to a close and it is time for me to take stock of my winnings:

1. Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing
2. An all-day pass to Fusion 2013
3. A $10 gift card to Metropolis
4. Two tickets to Got Craft?
5. Two tickets to the Nikkei National Museum’s art auction
6. Two tickets to the Great Canadian Spring Fling
7. $50 to Brentwood Mall
8. Canucks tickets
9. a surfer-style music CD

My total winnings for the year came to approximately $307. This is considerably lower than previous years, but I was very happy with all the prizes and experiences I had in 2013.

In 2014, I am going to blog with renewed energy, seeking out new and exciting contests. I would invite all of you to send me links to any great contests you hear about!

May your 2014 be a lucky one!

And the Wins Kept Rolling In…

Winning sometimes eludes me, no matter how hard I try.  Droughts make me sad–not because I want more stuff, but because I miss the element of surprise.  However, like many droughts, this one ended with a downpour.  I won five prizes in just over two weeks!

1. April 9th: It all began with Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing.  @chaptersindigo posted a contest on Twitter.  It involved tweeting the name of your favourite Canadian poet to receive Cohen’s book of poetry.  I chose Robert Service, as he was one of the few Canadian poets I remembered.  Luckily, my tweet was one of the five winning ones!

2. April 11th: The second prize I won was an all day pass to Fusion 2013:

I entered this contest via e-mail with through The Georgia Straight.  I entered in hopes that my husband would go, as he’s interested in photography and videography.  Unfortunately, he was working on a side job that day and there were no takers for the pass, so I had to forfeit this prize.

3. April 14th: Next, I won a $10 gift card to Metropolis.

I won this by playing the spin and win contest on their website.  I ended up spending my gift card at Lush.  I bought a face mask called Love Lettuce.

This mask is amazing!  It makes my skin feel really soft and costs less than $10!  I have tried lots of face masks and I would really recommend this one to anyone with combination skin like myself.

4. April 23rd: My fourth win was two tickets to Got Craft?

I entered on Facebook and won the prize by answered a trivia question about the show more quickly than anyone else.  I must confess I was watching my news feed like a hawk in order to get those tickets.  Got Craft? is my favourite craft show of the year.  Not only do they have fabulous vendors, but they have a lot of DIY workshops which I love!  Oh, and I took my wonderful mother with me to the show!

5. April 24th: My last post-drought win came on the heels of my fourth one.  I won two tickets Nikkei National Museum’s art auction fundraiser.

I won this prize on Facebook/Twitter from Hello Vancity:

I greatly enjoyed the auction, canapés, and the beautiful dolls, one of which I bought for my Mom for Mother’s Day.  Check back for an upcoming post.

*An additional prize came just this Friday, May 10th.  I won two tickets to the Great Canadian Craft Spring Fling from Miss 604.

**Total winnings are approximately: $134.00 to date.

***A fond farewell to Rubens; my year of chocolate ended yesterday.