Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place for Canuck Place

December 8th, 2009 @ 3:29pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Sutton Place Hotel is presenting its 4th annual “Home for the Holidays” gallery of Christmas trees benefiting Canuck Place. Stop by the lobby of the Hotel anytime between now and January 1st to vote on your favourite tree and support the work of Canuck Place Childrens Hospice.

Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place Hotel - for Canuck Place

Each tree has been trimmed by local Vancouver home decorators, designers and stagers.

Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place Hotel - for Canuck Place Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place Hotel - for Canuck Place

When you stop by the view the trees, cast your vote along with a $5 donation to Canuck Place and you’ll be entered to win one of many prizes including a ski getaway to Big White, an autographed Vancouver Canucks Ryan Kesler jersey, one of two weekend getaways at the Sutton Place Hotel, a Vancouver Island getaway or a trip for two on the amazing Rocky Mountaineer to Whistler… and more.

Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place Hotel - for Canuck Place

It’s easy to include a trip to the Christmas trees at Sutton Place when you’re out and about doing some shopping or enjoying a holiday evening on the town with the family. Stop on by, warm your toes, look at the lovely tree decorations and consider contributing $5 to help make a difference with Canuck Place.

Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place Hotel - for Canuck Place

Today is also the Canuck Place Day of Giving Radiothon, which also has some great prizes up for grabs when you donate to this worthy community organization.

Vancouver Art Gallery Christmas Tree Lighting 2009

December 8th, 2009 @ 11:45am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Tonight at 5:30pm a 50-foot high Christmas tree will be lit in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The tree is put in place by local real estate development firm, AMACON, as they help raise funds for various local causes over the holidays.

Christmas Eve 2008
Photo credit: Tripleman on Flickr – Tripleman.com

Organizations that are supported by AMACON and its colleagues include: BC Lions Courage for Kids, Empty Stocking Fund, Rock 101 Cares, Lasting M.A.G.I.C, BC Children’s Hospital, Amateur Sports in BC, Canada Company and The Diana Krall Foundation.

Special appearances tonight include The BC Lions and the BC Lions Cheerleaders, Vancouver Children’s Choir, Arimasu Taiko Drummers, Rock 101’s Bro Jake, Vancouver Giants, and Santa. Honorary guests Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, and Sindi Hawkins will be present to help light the tree.

Amacon Christmas Tree, Before Lighting

Update: I stood outside for about two hours to cover this event and I have to say, it’s cold out there folks. Luckily I wasn’t shivering too hard and was able to snap some shots of the festivities including many of the performers (such as the Vancouver Childrens Choir, the Arimasu Taiko Drummers).

Bro Jake, Vancouver Childrens Choir Vancouver Childrens Choir

Arimasu Taiko Drummers

Many cheques were also given to various organizations with members of the BC Lions and even little Lola (seen in the white coat below) were on hand to make some of the presentations.

Province Empty Stocking Fund - Presentation by Lola

Canada Company Rock 101 Cares

Krall Centre @ VGH - Diana Krall, Elvis Costello

Diana Krall, Elvis Costello

Diana Krall, Elvis Costello & Kids representing VGH

Diana Krall and her husband Elvis Costello were on hand to accept a donation to VGH’s Krall Centre and also to push the big red button to light the AMACON Christmas Tree on the Art Gallery lawn.

Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Bro Jake

Amacon Christmas Tree on the Art Gallery lawn

Stop by anytime over the holiday to enjoy the tree. You can view the rest of my photos from the lighting ceremony on Flickr.

Got Socks? Help ChangeEverything

December 8th, 2009 @ 9:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Over the years ChangeEverything.ca has been doing much more than blog about social and environmental causes — they’ve been taking action. Three years ago contributor Kate Dugas decided to take to the streets of Vancouver, moving from the online realm into a real life situation where support was greatly needed.

I thought about collecting some clothes and blankets from my house and bringing them to local shelters and quickly realized that I couldn’t drive my 20 year old car with its all-season tires anywhere. I was stuck. It felt pretty awful to want to do something to help but to have barrier like this get in the way. I imagined that others were probably having a similar experience – and since I wasn’t about to be stopped, I decided to use ChangeEverything.ca as it was designed – to make some changes happen.

Kate then wrote this blog post encouraging others to look through their closets and drawers for items they could donate and then she personally went around the city to collect. She got support from the Cooperative Auto Network so she could make the pickups and deliveries, got mainstream media coverage, and connected with volunteers like Phil.

The results were outstanding: 1 blog posting = 3 volunteers = over 4,000 items donated to local shelters in 48 hours.

Photo credit: adamknits on Flickr

Since 2006 Kate has kept the campaign going, and growing. “This is my fourth year using the powerful ChangeEverything.ca to collect items of warmth for people in Vancouver’s DTES,” she told me. “The campaign gains more and more momentum with each year. This year the Vancity branch network have agreed to all place ‘Got Socks?’ boxes in their branches, so now all our members can participate in the campaign on the ground too. It feels good.” With the full support of Vancity (who powers the ChangeEverything.ca community website) it makes donation collection through their branches possible.

You can help the less fortunate get through those bone-chilling winter nights this season by donating to the Got Sock? campaign. Cold wet feet are not only unbearable but a health hazard, especially in the winter. Got Socks? will take mis-matched socks, clean socks, and those that are in good condition. Even better, they’ll take new socks that you purchased specifically for this campaign. You can contact Kate through the ChangeEverything website or stop by your local Vancity branch to drop them off.

Kate says, “Each pair will totally make a difference. It’s true. Believe it.”

Update: December 21, 2009 — I just received the following update:

After hearing that many homeless people get sick and some have even died from having cold, wet feet for five months of the year Kate Dugas of Vancity’s ChangeEverything.ca asked for socks in her annual campaign to benefit Triage Emergency Services in the Downtown Eastside. Vancity members and employees didn’t disappoint: after hours of counting, Kate (that’s her in the attached pic) has over 4000 pairs of socks for people living on the streets.

She will deliver the socks tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec 22 about 2 pm.

Kate used Vancity’s ChangeEverything.ca website, of which she is the moderator, to engage the community in the Got Socks? campaign. Vancity members made contributions through Vancity branches and employees held friendly competitions between departments to see who could collect the most socks.

You can still donate by dropping of new or gently used socks to Vancity’s Head Office 183 Terminal, any Vancity branch or come to Triage at 707 Powell Street Tuesday around 2:00pm.

Canuck Place Day of Giving Radiothon 2009

December 7th, 2009 @ 11:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Tomorrow CHUM Radio stations, which include The Beat 94.5, QMFM, and Team Radio will be taking part in the Canuck Place Day of Giving Radiothon. From 6:00am until 10:00pm, tune in to hear many compelling stories from Canuck Place families and volunteers.

Through all stages of a child’s illness, an individual program is designed to meet the needs of each family. Services include 24/7 physician and nursing support, end-of-life care, pain and symptom management, respite care, school, music and play therapy, recreation opportunities and counseling. The counseling services are available to parents, siblings, loved ones and the child, to assist them in finding the courage and resources to cope with their challenges both during the child’s illness and after the child dies.

Whether a life is measured in days, weeks, or months, children deserve the opportunity to learn, develop and grow. Canuck Place encourages each child to ‘embrace life’ and believes in enhancing the quality of whatever time a child may have left by empowering them to live fully and joyfully.

Donations can be made online or by calling 1-866-480-KIDS (5437) toll free or locally (604) 777-CARE (2273).

Canuck Place offers specialized pediatric palliative care to over 370 children with life threatening illnesses and their families across BC. The demand continues to rise. Internal estimates suggest that only approximately 20% of the children and families that need the program currently have access. Your help is needed to reach those children.

If you would like to contribute in person, you can also visit the Sutton Place Hotel downtown as their Home for the Holidays Christmas tree gallery also benefits Canuck Place this season.

Christmas at Canada Place: Breakfast with Santa

December 7th, 2009 @ 8:01am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Events for the 22nd annual Christmas at Canada Place kicked off yesterday morning with the first of two Breakfasts with Santa. John and I walked down through Coal Harbour to make our way over to the iconic sails of Canada Place and the Crystal Ballroom of the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Canada Place The Sails

Christmas at Canada Place

There were children everywhere wearing their Sunday best to meet with Santa and tell them what they were hoping for this Christmas. However the entertainment didn’t stop with the jolly man in his red hat and coat. The Showstoppers sang holiday and popular tunes for the crowd which sat around dozens of numbered tables.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Once breakfast was served and the buffet lines swelled to a manageable size we got to enjoy some scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, fresh pastries (like croissants & danishes), fruit, breads, muffins and more.

Christmas at Canada Place

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

The entertainment continued as Bobs & Lolo took to the stage — and the children went nuts. We’ve seen these two perform at least half a dozen times now at events around the Lower Mainland and their audience is always so captivated and engaged in the show (even I’m leaning all the words to the Jellyfish Song — it’s catchy).

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

In the last hour Kellie Haines & Co rounded out the production as the line up to see Santa dwindled once all requests had been placed by young, bright, and smiley faces.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Breakfast with Santa happens again next week, on December 12th, and tickets are still available online (although they are close to selling out). Proceeds go the Strathcona Community Centre’s crucial Food Security for Children program so you not only get a lovely morning out with the family but you can also help support other families in need through this campaign.

White Christmas Vancouver Ticket Giveaway

December 4th, 2009 @ 2:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s not every year that we have snow on Christmas here in Vancouver but thanks to the Arts Club we’ll have a White Christmas in town over the next few weeks.

Cast of the Arts Club’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical
Photo by David Cooper

The Arts Club’s presentation of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical is based on the classic holiday film and features songs such as “Blue Skies,” “Sisters,” and the timeless “White Christmas”. Once again the costuming for this production looks absolutely amazing and seeing this at The Stanley Theatre on South Granville is just the cherry on top.

Cast of the Arts Club’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical
Photo by David Cooper

This production has already sold out 45 shows but I still have two tickets up for grabs for one lucky Miss604.com reader and their guest. You can enter the usual way, either by leaving a comment below or re-tweeting this link including @Miss604 & @TheArtsClub. A night of theatre in Vancouver is such a nice time and a compliment to any holiday season.

The winner will receive two tickets for the performance on December 15th. They will have 24 hours to confirm they can use the tickets from the time their name is drawn and they are notified. If I have not received a response, a new winner will be drawn at random. Contest closes at noon on Thursday December 10th, 2009.

Update: The contest has now closed and I drew a winner at random… who ended up being Sita. Congratulations! Thank you to everyone for entering and please check back for more contests on Miss604.com including the current Nutcracker Ballet ticket giveaway.

Switzerland: Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

December 4th, 2009 @ 10:54am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli ChocolatesAfter our late night out at a hockey game in Zurich our group packed up and headed East toward Kilchberg, the home of Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates – sponsor of the House of Switzerland Canada that will be in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games.

The Lindt & Sprungli headquarters do not conduct tours (for health reasons) but they do have a store and seasonal chocolate markets, making it the ultimate destination for chocolate lovers. Rolling up to the small town you could tell the chocolate factory was its heart and soul. Outside on the front lawn was an enormous Christmas display complete with lights and giant golden reindeer while Smart cars decked out like Lindor truffles lined the entrance way.

Once inside we were educated on the history of chocolate as we know it and how Mr Rodolphe Lindt and Mr Rudolf Sprungli created this worldwide empire of fine Swiss chocolates.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Once it arrived in Europe, chocolate was consumed as a drink since no one had perfected the art of creating a solid form of the confection. This was until a trend started to grow in Italy that saw chocolate in solid, bar form. In 1845 confectioner David Sprungli-Schwarz and his son Rudolf Sprungli-Ammann decided to hop on board and provide this sweet solid treat as well. The craze took off across the continent and saw the Sprungli family build up from a small pastry shop to an entire factory on the shores of Lake Zurich in 1899. This is the site of the factory as we know it as its original structure still stands today.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Somewhere between their cross-continental expansion the move to their new facilities, Rodolphe Lindt over in Bern was developing his patented “conching” process for chocolate in 1879. Lindt developed a way to turn chocolate from a hard, chunk-like state into a smooth, rich and creamy form that could be molded into bars. He used cocoa butter to soften the chocolate and his 72-hour conching machine gave it a rich glossy finish along with a sweet supple aroma. He called this “chocolat fondant” or “melting chocolate” and in 1899 sold all rights to the conching process (and his name) to Chocolat Sprungli AG, thus forming the company Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprungli AG.

The Company Today
Lindt products are available in 100 countries around the globe with offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Their American operations also include Ghirardelli, based in San Francisco. The cocoa beans come from exclusive growers in Ghana where the company makes a solid contribution to the promotion of fair economic conditions for the cocoa farmers in the region. They support the Sustainable Tree Crop Program (STCP) in West Africa as well as research projects and are members of the World Cocoa Foundation.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Chocolate Tasting
Once we learned how the company came to be we headed over to do a chocolate tasting with Master Chocolatier Daniel Tannler. He asked us, “do you eat chocolate or do you taste chocolate?”. We then learned the 5 steps to enjoying and savouring chocolate, which match up with each of our senses.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Here are some of the tasting notes they provided:

  1. Seeing – Study the chocolate’s colour and texture. High quality chocolate has an even texture and a matte, silky sheen.
  2. Feeling – Consider the feel of the chocolate. Is is soft, brittle, smooth, rough, sandy or granular? High quality chocolate should not melt in your hand, just in your mouth.
  3. Hearing – Yes, you can hear chocolate. Hold a bar up to your ear the next time you break off a piece. The broken edge should then be smooth, not crumbly, and fine chocolates should break with an audible ‘snap’. Tannler also said the sound of the Lindt foil unwrapping is something that every Swiss child grows up with. It is ingrained into their memory and the metallic crinkle lights up the senses in anticipation of the treat.
  4. Smelling – You can simply hold a piece of chocolate up to your nose to smell it or break off a small piece and place it on your tongue. Once in place, breathe in with your mouth and then out with your nose to really inhale the aromas. You may even find hints of milk, caramel, vanilla, honey, or apricot, depending on the type of chocolate you are sampling.
  5. Tasting – The best part, just put a piece of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt — coating as many taste buds as possible — so that you can sense all of its nuances, aromas, flavours and essences.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Ms Nina Keller, PR & Communications officer for the company told us that the chocolate business is similar to the fashion industry as people anticipate the new styles and trends that are developed each year. We sampled their latest Lindt Excellence series that features flavours such as Chili and Fleur-de-Sel. Perfecting these recipes is a true art form as Tannler told us they went through about 300 different types of chilies just to find the right mix for their bars.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

After our education and tasting we stopped off at the Christmas Market behind the building which in itself it a holiday chocolate wonderland. From pralines and Lindor truffles to the gold reindeer all decked out with their festive bows.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

It was such a treat to learn more about the history of modern chocolate, the company’s practices and technologies, and of course, taste some cocoa creations.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates is an official sponsor of the House of Switzerland Canada that will be at Bridges on Granville Island during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The House of Switzerland will be open to the public and I can assure you they will have many goodies for you to sample along with daily giveaways (of the chocolate variety). Stop by Bridges this February to see the folks from Lindt or if you’re in Whistler, House of Switzerland Canada will be at the Mountain Club.

You can view the rest of my photos from my media trip to Switzerland in this photo set, and read all posts here.

Link Fest: More December Events

December 3rd, 2009 @ 10:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

As John and I spend the better part of today flying home from the Dominican Republic — back to the land of cool mountain air nipping at frosty noses — here is this week’s link fest for you to enjoy.

Photo credit: Judy B on Flickr
  • Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge kicks off tomorrow night. Congratulations to my contest winners, Cameron and Tina!
  • A favourite event of ours is the Vancouver Giants Teddy Bear Toss which is happening December 5th during their game versus the Oil Kings. Bring a stuffed or plush toy to the game and toss it on the ice when directed to do so. All will be donated to The Province Empty Stocking Fund.
  • Stop by the QE Theatre for your last chance to participate in the Vancouver Opera’s Food Bank Drive on Saturday December 5th.
  • Got Craft? this Sunday December 6th at the Legion (2205 Commercial Drive) from 11:00am until 5:00pm. Admission is $2 for adults and $0 for kids.
  • The Rogers Santa Claus Parade is this Sunday as well. Remember to bring non-perishable food donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and there is also a tweetup to rally volunteers.
  • Christmas at Canada Place launches on Sunday December 6th with their annual Breakfast with Santa benefiting the Strathcona Community Centre.
  • Verve Hair Lounge in North Vancouver is doing a Wigs for Kids campaign on Sunday December 6th from 4:00pm until 8:00pm.
  • The Canuck Place Radiothon Day of Giving with CHUM Radio stations is Tuesday December 8th.
  • Speaking of radio, tune into CBC radio tomorrow morning as I’ll be on the Early Edition during their Food Bank Radio Day as they collect donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. It’s also an open house over at their newly remodeled downtown broadcast facilities so feel free to stop on by.