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Jewels for a Cause Charity Event May 27th

I am excited to be photographing a charity event for the Jewels for a Cause  at the Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver on May 27th!

Jewels for A Cause was started by Teri-Ann Donaldson and Jennifer Rainnie eight years ago with a mission to bring our community together for a mutual cause to enhance the lives of women and children. It began as a very grass roots way for friends to get together, drink wine, buy jewelry and donate the proceeds to charity. The event has grown each year and has now become a very large gathering with over a dozen jewelers and artists showcasing their work. Last year approximately 200 women attended the event and they raised $5,000 for the year’s charity of choice – KidSport – in honor of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry.

KidSport helps provide support to children in order to remove financial barriers that prevent them from playing organized sport. For more information, please visit www.kidsportcanada.ca.

In addition to KidSport, Jewels for a Cause has also supported the BC Cancer Foundation, Make A Wish Foundation, YMCA Camp Elphastone, on the Sunshine Coast and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. These ladies have always felt strongly about donating their profit each year to a charity which supports or aids women and or children.

Featured Artists / Designers at This Year’s Event:

The event will be sponsored by Barefoot Wine, has an entry fee of $10, payable by cash or cheque (there will be an ATM machine available but sorry, no credit), and will be held at:

Hollyburn Country Club
950 Cross Creek Road
West Vancouver

So please come join us for a great cause next Thursday night, May 27th at 7pm, enjoy a glass of wine and buy some jewelry by these amazing artists, and support a good cause!


A Texas Wedding

Pugz & Lori Wedding

My trip to Texas in March was last minute and unexpected. I was meant to travel there with a friend and assist on a wedding shoot, until said friend had a car accident and I was suddenly the primary shooter for a couple that I had never met or even spoken to before arriving in Texas!

I arrived at the Austin airport and walked outside to warm, sunny weather. It felt so good after the cold, wet weather we were having in Vancouver! Both the bride and groom were very easy-going people and we became fast friends. They graciously welcomed me into their home, fed me, toured me around Austin, took me out for Amy’s ice cream and some tasty Texas BBQ. They were amazing hosts, especially considering they were about to get married and had a lot of other things on their minds!

On day three, we drove from Austin to Houston. I wasn’t sure what I expected from Texas, having never been before, but it was a beautiful drive with very pretty landscapes and wild flowers on the sides of the freeway.

What blew me away the most on the drive (being from tame Vancouver and all), was the freeway overpasses when we entered Houston. There were eight of them layered at some points! I couldn’t believe how high these things were built! Honestly, it was a bit freaky to be driving on one of the higher ones.

We made our way to the mother of the bride’s home and from there the ladies headed to a nail salon where every chair in the place was filled with family and friends of the bride for mani/pedis. This is where the photography began (after my pedicure of course!)

After a lovely afternoon getting pampered, we headed to the wedding rehearsal at the Houston Junior League and ran through the ceremony for the following day, then off to check into the hotel for a relaxing evening before the next day’s festivities.

The next day, up early, over to the mother of the bride’s home again to prepare for the big day. Hair! Makeup! Dress! Photos!!!

Then off to the Junior League for the noon ceremony. The bride looked gorgeous! Her dress suited her perfectly, as did her hair and makeup, and the flowers were unbelievably beautiful! The Jewish ceremony was perfect, as was the luncheon that followed. It was truly a beautiful wedding, and it was so nice to see such a happy couple.

Pugz & Lori Wedding

After the celebration ended I headed back to the hotel to download the images and take a nap! Surprisingly, the new Mr. and Mrs. made plans for a sushi dinner with me, rather than spending their wedding night doing what newlyweds do… Despite my insisting that they should celebrate their nuptials without me, they insisted.

The next day we headed back to Austin and as it was my last day in Texas, they insisted on getting some Rudy’s BBQ and took me out to the creek on the green belt for a picnic. It was PERFECT! Sunny, tasty food, great company, on the creek, nothing could have been better!

I’d like to thank Shawn and Lori for their incredible hospitality and the honour and opportunity to shoot their wedding photos! It was an unexpected, pleasant surprise and I feel that I have left Texas with new friends for life! I’m so happy to have met them both and I wish them all the best in their life together. I look forward to another visit to Austin to catch up with them and to see more of that wonderful city! I can see why it tops many people’s favourite cities list!

Pugz & Lori Wedding

Travel to Bali: Denpasar to Lovina

My arrival in Denpasar, Bali was very smooth. Having sat in the first row of the plane in my upgraded business class seat (woohoo!), I was one of the first people off and into the visa payment lineup.

If you are going to Bali for 30 days or less, you can apply for your travel visa on arrival. It costs $25 USD. If you are planning a longer stay, you must get your visa before your trip from your local Balinese consulate.

So I showed my passport, paid my $25USD, listened to some British woman complain that they did not take credit cards (which she would know, had she done her homework…) and then proceeded to a second lineup for customs and entry into Bali, Indonesia. This didn’t take long, they looked at my passport, took my visa receipt and waved me through. Easy peasy! Next I picked up my luggage, which was already set aside and waiting for me beside the luggage carousel, and I was on my way!

Welcome to Bali

My ride was waiting for me when I exited the airport and I was in the car in minutes and immersed into busy Denpasar traffic. There were more motorcycles and scooters than I’ve ever seen! and people just seem to drive where they please with a loose understanding that they should stick to the left side of the road! (Yes, they drive British style here…) Every time we passed another vehicle, the driver would honk the horn, letting them know we were there. It was very fast paced and honestly, a bit scary…

On the drive, it started to rain. HARD! Like crazy-out-of-nowhere-rain! It was difficult to see anything out of the front windshield at times and we had to slow the car right down to about 30 km/h. I felt sorry for those people out there on their scooters and motorcycles, but the weather didn’t seem to phase them at all.

Although I was very tired after my almost 27 hours of traveling so far, I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open to see what I could on our approximately 3 hour drive to Lovina on the north side of the island, where I am staying.

The coolest thing I saw on the way was MONKEYS!!!! They were just kinda hanging out on the side of a winding road, playing and eating. There were several vehicles of tourists stopped on the side of the road for a closer look. I was told that if given the chance, these sneaky little buggers will steal whatever they can from you and your vehicle!

My main impression from the ride was that driving in Bali is not at the top of my to-do list! For starters, they drive on the left side of the road here. This messed with my head a few times when driving into oncoming traffic on the left side of the road! I must have had at least 18 heart attacks during the ride from the airport to our destination! However, outside of Denpasar, things did calm down somewhat and I think that I may potentially rent a scooter in Lovina after a few more days of getting used to things and acclimatizing to the rules of the road…

And there you have it! Three blog posts later and I’m at my final destination: a gorgeous home in Lovina, which I will tell you all about in an upcoming post!

For more information on Bali and the neighbouring island on Lombok, I recommend the Lonely Planet guide.

Travel to Bali: Taipei to Denpasar

Well… I think I was MEANT to take this trip at this time or something, because things are only getting better and better (and better!) as my travels continue!

We are finally boarding the plane from Taipei to Denpasar, on Bali, Indonesia. Looks like a packed flight on this one. Not much chance of getting an empty seat beside me. I’m usually in no hurry to get on planes because seriously, why be squished into that tiny seat in that tin box longer than you need to be? But from the looks of the crowd lining up to get on, I wanted to make sure I would get some overhead storage space for my carry on bag relatively close to my seat. So through the line I went…

Everyone’s boarding pass was making a short high pitched beep as it was pulled through the machine, and then mine went through and it made a different, double low toned beep… I was thinking, “what now!” But, it seems it was nothing to worry about! In fact, it was my second seat change of the day; my seat at 21A had just been changed to 1K! Which makes it what? Yeppers! That’s right!! I was upgraded to BUSINESS CLASS!!! WOOHOO!!! My first time in business class, EVER!

Business Class Cabin

So here I sit, in my LARGE cushy seat with my plump pillow, nice thick wool blanket and glass of champagne! Pretty sure flying doesn’t get any better than this! The seats have power outlets for my laptop, and looks like an internet connection would be possible, if I hadn’t packed my RJ45 cable in my suitcase… (d’oh!) The seats are electric with foot rests, and lumbar support in my back and if I wanted to lie back and sleep, the seat reclines all the way back into a sleeping position! Craziness!

(Apologies to those of you who experience business class all the time, but not having traveled a whole heck of a lot, i’m new at this and a little bit excited to be so spoiled! Haha! –or should I say so LUCKY?! Someone buy me a lottery ticket back home, it will be sure to win today!)

The flight attendant refers to me by name, and hands me a menu of food and cocktail options for the flight. Wow! I never knew how spoiled they were up in these hidden front seats behind that mystery curtain until now! So although it’s only about 9:30am here in Taiwan, I order a vodka/soda because my biological clock is telling me that it’s 6pm in Vancouver. And hey! If they’re gonna offer me free booze while I sit here in business class, I’m gonna TAKE IT!!!

Enter vodka/soda with two slices of lime in a REAL glass (none of that plastic crap they’re getting in economy class!) complete with cocktail stir stick! LOVE IT!!!! I could get used to this! If this keeps up, this is going to be a fantastic month of adventure!

My cocktail in a REAL glass!

Next on the menu: A shrimp cocktail appetizer, then shrimp, rice and bokchoy in a creamy mushroom sauce as the main course with a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, and cheesecake with fruit, whipped cream and chocolate sauce for dessert, all followed by a lovely cup of green tea. Holy horse! I’m not going to have to eat for a week!! The best airline food I’ve ever tasted, that’s for sure!

Business Class Entre

Business Class Dessert!

Approaching Bali by Air

Approaching Bali by Air

Yep, there’s no better way to spend 5 hours flying through clear skies, 11,634 meters above the ocean to the tropical paradise island of Bali, Indonesia… Haha! Today, this is MY LIFE!!! I wonder what tomorrow will bring! 🙂

Stay tuned for more Balinese adventures coming soon…

For information on Bali and the neighbouring island on Lombok, I recommend the Lonely Planet guide.

Travel to Bali: Vancouver to Taipei

Right from my check in experience at the Vancouver airport (YVR), I was very impressed by China Airlines and their efforts to accommodate my seat request for my 13 hours flight from YVR to Taipei (TPE) Taiwan. My seat was decent to begin with, 9A by the window fairly close to the front of the Airbus 330-300, but the clerk at the desk said he could probably do better for me and find a similar seat with an empty one beside me as the flight was only at 70% capacity. He would let me know at the gate if he was able to make the change. And SUCCESS! I ended up in 12K, a window seat on the opposite side, with the whole row to myself! YES!

The flight was smooth for the most part, a few bumps and fasten seat belt warnings along the way, but nothing major. The food was… well… it was airline food… But surprisingly, I was able to sleep away about 7 hours of the flight… Almost like a time machine deleting these hours from the flight time! 🙂

The landing at Taipei was smooth. There was an attendant waiting there to help passengers find their next gate. So after a short train ride and a bit of a walk, I found Gate 1A, complete with drunk-airport-crazy-lady and all!

When I first arrived at the gate, drunk-airport-crazy-lady was passed out at the end of the people mover (you know, those escalators that don’t actually escalate? they are just flat people movers)… Then I decided to find myself a snack and some tea, and when I passed her for the second time, she was awake and ranting at everyone who passed her. Then she stumbled her way to my gate, and caused a bit of a ridiculous scene. Yelling, screaming and waving her arms like a crazy person. (ah-hem, straight jacket please!) The airport crew then moved her to a separate area in hopes, I think, to calm her down… But lemme tell ya, I sure hoped she wouldn’t end up on my 5-hour flight from Taipei to Denpasar!

Honestly, I’d be surprised if they let her on a plane at all…. but no security had shown up yet, so who knew…? If this was Vancouver, they would have tackled, pepper sprayed, tazed and handcuffed her by now! (ok, ok, bad joke… but still… the point is that this would never be acceptable airport behaviour at YVR…)

Anyway, now I have some dude sitting behind me in the waiting area and a China Airlines worker, who claimed to be the purser for our flight, hijacked his guitar and played Eric Clapton tunes flawlessly! Loved it!

Hehe, if the rest of my trip is this interesting, I think the next month will be an amazing one!

I later ended up talking to said “dude” with guitar (who ended up being from Vancouver Island) and he was telling me how he got upgraded to business class on his flight from Miami to Taipei and how great that was. I was pretty happy having an empty seat beside me, but I had to agree that a 13 hour flight in business class would have kicked ass!

So, that’s it for the first leg of my 30-hour travel adventure. Stay tuned for Part II in my next post about the flight from Taipei to Denpasar

Quebec City Ice Hotel

I never thought I would take a winter vacation, being a sun baby and one who is not at all fond of the cold. But with a friend from Montreal, the idea to head out to Quebec City in February 2009 for the annual Carnaval d’Hiver somehow didn’t seem like such a crazy one. It was an incredible 5-day adventure that I will not soon forget!

We decided to spend the first couple of days just outside of Quebec City at Station Touristique Duchesnay, home of Quebec City’s Ice Hotel! We were not able to make a reservation to stay in the ice hotel, but thought we would go anyway and tour the ice structure and stay at L’Auberge Duchesnay, next door. Connected to the hotel is spa, which we took full advantage of with a massage, body scrub, sauna and jacuzzi package. AMAZING!

Ice Hotel Entrance

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

Drinking nook at the ice bar

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

The Ice Chapel

We thought we would check out the bar in the ice hotel for a cocktail one evening, before it was closed off to the public for the hotel guests. Because it’s so cold at the Ice Hotel, they serve only hard liquor, as anything else would freeze due to the icy temperatures. To boot, all cocktails were served in glasses made of ice, eliminating any worry your drink getting warm!

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

For entertainment, they held an ice carving competition. I never imagined myself as an ice sculptor, but now was my opportunity to give it a shot. It turned out to be a fun, creative experience! The ice was fairly soft and easy to carve. Between myself and my travel partner, we carved the head of the Bonnehomme d’Hiver, the mascot for the Carnival. I carved the toque, while he carved the face.


Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

We had such a great time in the Ice Hotel that evening that we tried our luck with the ice hotel reception desk to see if there happened to be any cancellations that night. We were in luck! We were even able to swing a themed room for the price of a regular room, and ended up with the Cathedral Room.

Again, let me stress to you how much I hate the cold… And I mean HATE THE COLD!!! So I’m really unsure what possessed me to agree to staying in a hotel with walls made of ice, floors of snow, a bed made of ice, and an average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius! I think I may have suffered from some form of temporary insanity at the time… But in the end it was a “cool” experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to do it!

The hotel provided us with North Face sleeping bags and a crash course on how to stay warm for the night. There were  six hot tubs and a sauna at the Ice Hotel, to warm up before turning in to your COLD room for the night. They recommended to dry off COMPLETELY (including all your nooks and crannies) when leaving the changing area, as any moisture at all would be a risk of freezing and making your Ice Hotel experience a very unpleasant one. They provided blow dryers to help with this – not only for your hair, but your entire body!

Once in the room, we unpacked out sleeping bags and crawled in fully clothed, socks, toques and all! The bed frame was made of ice, but the mattress itself was foam covered with animal furs, which made things much more comfortable.

Ice Hotel, cathedral themed room

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

We survived the night right up to the 8am wake up call when they booted us out to prepare the hotel for the daily public tours. I had woken up maybe an hour prior to the wake up call and it was not until then that I started to feel cold and a bit uncomfortable. But I stuck it out, my sleeping bag was still the warmest place to be at that moment!

The best part about the stay at the Quebec City Ice Hotel is that you have the comfort of knowing that you have a room at the nice WARM L’Auberge Duchesnay, just up the hill included with your stay. So just in case you do get too cold and don’t think you will make it through the night at -4 Celsius, you are able to go to a nice warm bed! And after our wake up call, you can bet that I made a beeline for a nice, long, hot shower!

For more photos of the Quebec City Ice Hotel, please visit my Flickr page.

Gold Medal Hockey at the Molson Hockey House

I watched the Canada vs. USA Gold Medal Hockey game from the best venue in town next to Canada Hockey Place: the Molson Canadian Hockey House!

Already at 8am the lineups were growing for bars, pubs and cultural houses around the city. The lineups on and around Granville Street were huge in the morning in anticipation for the noon-time game! This was the view from my living room window that morning.

Pre Gold Medal Hockey

Inside the Molson Canadian Hockey House, the people were packing in and the energy and excitement for the upcoming game was building!

Inside the Molson Hockey House

Francois-Louis Tremblay stopped by to celebrate the Canadian speed skating team’s Gold Medal win!

François-Louis Tremblay visits the Molson Hockey House!

Wide Mouth Mason played two AMAZING sets! I was very excited about this, as I had been hoping to see them at some point during the Games and my moment had finally come!

Wide Mouth Mason at Molson Hockey House

Wide Mouth Mason at Molson Hockey House

And of course, the crowd cheered for Team Canada with such loud, excited optimism, that I have no doubt that we could be heard at Canada Hockey Place!

The Gold Medal Party at the Hockey House

The Gold Medal Party at the Hockey House

Canada wins GOLD!!!

After the game, and during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremonies, Roberto Luongo and his daughter, Gabriela, stopped by for a quick visit to thank the fans for their support and show off his gold medal and the crowd went WILD for one of Canada’s newest heroes!

Roberto Luongo visits Molson Hockey House after the game!

Roberto Luongo visits Molson Hockey House after the game!

All in all, it was an amazing day and the perfect wrap up for the Games! If someone had written a script for the day, it could not have been written with a better ending!

For more photos of the Molson Canadian Hockey House during the Gold Medal Hockey Game, visit my set on Flickr.

For more photos of Wide Mouth Mason, there is a Flickr set for that too!