Snow Day

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 — 8:44am PDT
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A perfect storm of MidWest blizzards, record YVR snowfall, delayed connections, airport sprints, and a pilot’s illness has left us stranded in Denver while we try to get back to John‘s hometown in Iowa for Christmas. As such, I didn’t anticipate having two straight days of travel and I haven’t been able to put today’s posts together. So… I’m taking a “Snow Day”!

Snow, Trees, Filigree
Photo credit: Gordana AM on Flickr

lovely, uncommon Vancouver scene
Photo credit: Judy B – The Travelling Eye on Flickr

Hopefully we take off and land safely at our destination (which is a new destination about 90 miles outside of our original location) and I’ll be back with more contests and content for you later today. Happy Holidays!

White Spot Christmas Lunch for Charity 2012

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 — 10:54am PDT
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The kind-hearted staff at two Lower Mainland White Spot restaurant locations are once again prepared to donate their time, tips, and net proceeds to a very worthy local causes on Christmas Day. The White Spot Christmas Lunch for Charity will take place on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 from 11:00am to 3:00pm at the following locations:

White Spot 2
Photo credit: Derek K Miller on Flickr

Richmond Centre: Benefiting Richmond General Hospital Foundation
Unit 1902 – 6551 No. 3 Road, Richmond

Kingsway & Knight: Benefiting Variety – The Children’s Charity
1467 Kingsway, Vancouver

Last year the two restaurants raised more than $13,000 and they hope to break that record in 2012. Families, friends, and colleague are invited to take a break from the Christmas rush and head into one of these White Spot locations for lunch. You’ll get that burger, pasta, or milkshake and the Richmond General Hospital and Variety – The Children’s Charity will benefit.

Follow White Spot on Facebook and Twitter for updates leading up to Christmas and for information on special events, menu items, and deals throughout the year.

YYoga iPhone Application & Giveaway

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 — 9:44am PDT
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Vancouver’s YYoga has recently released free an iPhone application to help connect yogis. On the app you can search classes by style, time, date, and location, booking a reservation and seeing if your friends are signed up as well. If you have an existing YYoga online account you can sign in otherwise you can sign up through the app. It also has basics to introduce those new to yoga to various poses – what they look like and what they’re called.

YYoga App YYoga App YYoga App

YYoga was created from the shared vision of Terry McBride and Lara Kozan in 2007. Their vision was to offer a guest focused approach to yoga in an ‘all are welcome’ environment. At the center of this environment would be an abundance of classes offered by the industry’s best teachers. These classes would be surrounded by spa-like amenities and services such as wellness, showers, saunas and lounges; all working to create an amazing experience, local community and healthy lifestyle.

YYoga App YYoga App YYoga App

Using the location finder you can find the nearest YYoga centre, by turning on location services or selecting the venue nearest to you from a list. Locations include Flow Wellness downtown, Highgate in Burnaby, Kitsilano, Neoalpine in Whistler, North Shore Elements in North Vancouver, Richmond, South Granville, Yaletown, and West Sixth.

YYOGABagA few early app reviews are very positive with just a few feature suggestions like adding the ability to search by instructor. However with the app being 4 days old at this point, it’s off to a pretty good start.

Download the free YYoga iPhone app for yourself and give it a try, follow the YYoga blog, and find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to learn more.

To promote the app, YYoga has offered up a one-month pass, a yoga tote bag, and a manduka mat (as seen in the photo to the right) to one of my readers. The value of the prize package is $285, here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win a 1-month @YYoga prize pack & try their new app via @Miss604

I will draw one winner at 12:00pm on Thursday, December 27, 2012. Update The winner is Kristine!

The Rush: Mike and Fiona Go National and Social

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 — 12:54pm PDT
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Back in October the Vancouver-based television talk show Urban Rush got an overhaul as beloved long-time hosts Michael Eckford and Fiona Forbes went national. The show’s name changed to simply The Rush and it got bumped up on Shaw and Shaw Direct with national and local segments.

therush-logoThe biggest change was probably in the way that the show is presented — and interacted with as they started live streaming the broadcasts online.

Using LiveStream, Mike and Fiona answer questions in real-time as well as gather questions for guests through the stream’s chat, Facebook and Twitter. This feed doesn’t stop at any point in the show, sharing a full behind-the-scenes look at the show’s production.

“The live stream has been really interesting because we sort of knew what it was, we’ve seen it in use before but television has always been sort of a one-way passive media. That’s the way everybody thinks and that’s the way that it’s alway been done and so it shall be in the future,” said Mike as we (fittingly) chatted over Skype for this interview.

It’s been a game-changer for the hosts as well as the audience who can now ask questions to guests. Fiona says there’s even a core group of audience members that pop up for each show, some from as far away as Finland, Germany, France, Ireland, all over Asia and from Africa.

“Talking about interesting things going on, talking about interesting things people are doing — I think it helps the city grow up and find an identity and figure out who they are culturally. Hopefully we get to continue to be a part of that.”

Having the live stream not only adds a new layer to the show’s format, it also provides even more content. Fiona told me that she loves the spontaneity of it all. “It’s been really cool to have the audience join in. Sometimes we take questions during the interview and other times we kind of do bonus footage or interviews during commercial breaks to get extra footage. We’ll open it up to different topics — random things the audience is curious about.”

With local audiences growing to national and international viewership has not stopped the show from celebrating its local roots. Both hosts grew up in the area and were pleased that with the switch, they wouldn’t have to lose their Vancouver touch.

“It’s where we are, it’s who we are,” Fiona said. “We want to reflect that but also make it applicable to the rest of the country. It is Canadian content.” Mike said that supporting the community is still key and talking about Vancouver, while being in Vancouver is what helps the most.

The Rush: Mike & Fiona
Photo courtesy of The Rush

With social media playing such a big role in their hosting duties, it was a bonus that both have been using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other networks for quite a while. “I’m not sure we could have jumped into it the way that we did without being a little bit nerdy on our part when it comes to social media,” Fiona laughed. She added that they both love social media anyway so it was a natural fit as far as opening the door to the audience and striking up that interaction.

“It’s still just talking to people,” Mike added. “It’s still letting people know you and getting to know other people as well. Part of it is we’re pretty social people anyway just in terms of our job so even though it is using new technology in a certain way, it’s still the oldest art form in the world, which is a conversation.”

Catch The Rush weeknights in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba on Shaw and in Ontario on Shaw Direct (check local listings for exact channels and times). Taping takes place between 12:00pm and 2:00pm Pacific and this is where you can hop on the LiveStream and follow the day’s topics on Twitter. Episodes are archived on LiveStream and online.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival 2012

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 — 10:39am PDT
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Celebrate the change of seasons on Friday December 21st on Granville Island, in South East False Creek, in Yaletown, Chinatown, and on the East Side with the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. Presented by the Secret Lantern Society, this free family event will have lanterns, singing, dancing, and a processions through town.

Granville Island

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival 2012Starting at 4:00pm you can stop in to the False Creek Community Centre (1318 Cartwright St) to make a lantern for $10, which will just take 30 minutes. Processions will leave right at 6:00pm from three different locations: Leg-In-Boot Square, Granville Island Triangle Square, and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.

At Leg-In-Boot Square the crowd will split, with some heading toward Granville Island and others heading east to Creekside. When the three processions meet on Granville Island they will be greeted by the traditional torch-lit Song Of Welcome by The Vancouver Morris Men. The Carnival Band and the Rhythm Spirit Drummers will combined to lead everyone over to Ron Basford Park where the Vancouver Fire Collective will weave their fiery magic and a giant fire sculpture of the rising sun lights the darkest night.

Returning to the False Creek Community Centre at 7:30pm, festivities will continue until 9:30pm with the Roma Swing Trio, music from the Carnival Band, singing from Indian Time Drum Group, and storytelling from Mind Of A Snail Puppet Co. You could also head into Performance Works on Granville Island at 7:30pm for a community dance.

South East False Creek

Starting at 4:00pm you can stop into the Creekside Community Centre (1 Athletes Way) to make a lantern for $10, which will just take 30 minutes. The procession will leave at 6:00pm from Leg-In-Boot Square and return to Creekside for more festivities at 7:00pm until 10:00pm. Hot chocolate, live music, stories from Lost And Found Puppet Company, and more.


Starting at 4:00pm you can stop into the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) to make a lantern for $10, which will just take 30 minutes. Processions will set out from three locations: Cooper’s Park, Emery Barnes Park, and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. Lead by the drums of Tege Fo Collective along the seawall as well as through historic Yaletown, the processions will converge in David Lam Park where they will be welcomed with a spectacular fire performance by Fire Tribe.

Head back inside at the Roundhouse from 7:00pm to 10:00pm for live music, dancing, drumming, lantern creations, stories, and more. Sit beneath the giant Tree of Life in the Secret Lantern Garden, enter the realm of myth and legend in a fabric and light installation created by Heather Jones with Zee Kesler, or be entranced by the aerial dance of Kira Schaffer and Colleen Yuen of Firebelly Performance Society. From Russian gypsy musicians and dancers to traditional English folk dances of the Tiddley Cove Morris. It will be a grand celebration.

Tonight in Vancouver: The 17th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Photo credit: [travelfox] on Flickr

18th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival at the Vancouver Chinese Garden Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
Photo credit: & mountainhiker on Flickr


Starting at 4:00pm you can stop into the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer St) to make a lantern for $10, which will just take 30 minutes. The procession will head out from the Strathcona Community Centre at 6:00pm with Russell Shumsky & Friends on the drums, winding through the streets of Strathcona and ending up at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Festivities will continue until 10:00pm with drummers, stories, a choral performance by The Real Treble Makers, and raise your spirits in the Winter Solstice Music Ceilidh featuring Toddish McWong and the Black Bear Rebels & Friends.

East Side

The evening begins in three neighbourhood homes that will have lanterns and performers before processions head out. 2256 Parker St (lantern workshop, with music by Savoir Faire), 2257 Parker St (music by Taryn the Tailor), 2162 Parker St (music and shadow puppetry by Erica Mah + the Sargasso Season). Tickets are required for these shows and they have sold out in the past. Email info[at] to pre-register for the show or workshop you would like to attend.

Immediately after these house concerts follow the wild Roma-influenced music of Orkestar Slivovica as they lead you in a procession down Parker Street, straight to the Britannia courtyard for more music, hot chocolate and the on-going Labyrinth of Light. Events at the Britannia Community Centre (1661 Napier St) are free for the whole family. From 6:00pm to 10:00pm you can enjoy the lanterns, dance, sing, and be entertained.

Labyrinths of Light will only be at the East Side and Yaletown events this year.

Labyrinth of Light - 2011 Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
Photo credit: eych-you-bee-ee-ahr-tee on Flickr

The Secret Lantern Society reveals details about the event every now and then on their website, keeping a bit of mystery going until the very day. Donations for the society are accepted at all events.

Holiday Ice Skating in Vancouver

Monday, December 17th, 2012 — 3:49pm PDT
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We’re bundling up with our coats and scarves as the local mountains continue to get sprinkled with fresh powder – winter is most definitely here this week! A popular family activity is to lace up the skates and enjoy an afternoon at the local ice rink (perhaps followed up with a cup or two of hot chocolate). The Vancouver Park Board has plenty of skating options over the holidays including a few rinks that are even open on Christmas Day.

Skating Bench Monday Fun and Games
Photo credit: {Karina} & Chiot’s Run on Flickr

Holiday Family Skating December 22-28, 2012

Sunset Rink: Open Saturday December 22nd from 2:00pm to 3:00pm for family skate and 3:15pm to 4:15pm for public skate. Open Sunday December 23rd for public skate from 2:00pm to 3:15pm and family skate from 4:30pm to 5:30pm. Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day. Open Thursday December 27th from 3:00pm to 4:15pm for Low Cost Skate.

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