Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Search of the Great Pumpkin

This has been a really rough year for the farmers in Metro Vancouver.  Rain has rendered many of the annual crops mush.  Even our back patio harvest was pathetic this year, each veggie more rotten than the next.  It's a shame, but part of the yearly cycle for those who chose to eke their living from the good Earth.

The more resilient farm folk turn to other, more creative ways to make ends meet; something to hold things together when the crops fail to produce.  Agri-tourism is becoming increasingly important to the farming community.  Whether it be a simple gift shop, cooking classes or a corn maze, getting the folk to come and see what happens on the farm also helps the farmers earn some additional income, and has the extra benefit of promoting the real job of growing things.

This week, my son and I wandered over to the Laity Pumpkin Patch.  These folk have been selling pumpkins to jack-o-lantern aficionados for 20 years now, and they've become quite good at it.  They understand that going to pick up a pumpkin isn't just about shopping for the biggest, orange-est gourd you can find.  It's about a trip to the country to visit the animals, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and tour around on a good old hay-ride.

There is an admission fee ($3 for those over 2 years old) but that includes all activities, including the corn maze.  There's a small petting zoo and an "Enchanted Forest", but the real attraction for even the youngest visitor is finding the perfect pumpkin.  There's no shortage of selection, and if you're feeling like grabbing a lot of pumpkins the farm even provides wheel-barrows.

This is the last weekend for the pumpkin farm so be sure to get out there before the trick-or-treaters come knockin'.  They're open daily from 9:30 to 5:00 weather permitting.  (Translation:  phone first if it's raining.)

Laity Pumpkin Patch
21145 128th Avenue
Maple Ridge, BC

Phone: (604) 467-4302

Monday, October 25, 2010

NIM - Concept Dishwasher

Photo Courtesy of
The designers at Ahha Project have come up with one of the coolest new ideas I've seen in a while. I know some of you will point to the KitchenAid Briva ... but I'll just point back and say it's discontinued.  So there.

The ECO addresses a dilemma faced in many kitchens:  Once you fill up the sink with dirty dishes, where do you wash the veggies?  Here, the sink just rotates out of the way and brings another sink into play.  And if you're looking for a faster way to clean fruits and veggies, there's a setting for that as well.

The bad news is that this is just at the concept stage.  As soon as I hear its gone into production I'll let you know.

Will Travel For Footy

I'm happy to say that this is the last year I will have to travel to see the best football (soccer) league in Canada and the US.  And while some will argue that that Vancouver Whitecaps FC were often the best team (I'm one of them), the MLS is without a doubt the best league.  Next year Vancouver Whitecaps FC joins the MLS, but until then I've had to make runs down the I-5 to catch Seattle Sounders FC matches.  Last year we went down to see an exhibition match against English side Chelsea.  At the beginning of October this year I drove solo to the Emerald City to take in the US Open Cup.

I arrived a bit early, mainly so I could pick up some sandwiches at Salumi.  Salmui closes at 3-ish and I'd promised some friends I'd pick up dinner.  But once the sandwiches were procured, I still had 4 hours before game time.  What's a footy fan to do? 


The Guinness was courtesy of Fado Irish Pub.  I'm always skeptical of any "Irish" pub.  Most are just a tourist trick to bring in the drinkers.  Having never been to Ireland, I cannot comment at how authentic Fado is, but if Sounders supporters group Gorilla FC uses it as home base ... well at least you know you'll be able to catch some footy on the TV.  Fado is in fact a chain, but the beer and whiskey selection was extensive, and the menu made a pretty decent stab at Irish cuisine.  

The Boxty & Corned Beef I had was excellent.  Boxty is the Irish version of potato pancakes.  In this dish it was treated like a tortilla, wrapped around some very flavourful corned beef.  

The game was great ... Seattle retaining their US Open Cup title for one more year and ensuring they'll be in the CONCACAF Champions League next year (good thing considering they've botched up their Champions League run for this year).  I even managed to meet up with some of the visiting Columbus fans who travelled a long way to watch their team lose.  But that's footy fans for you.  Sometimes it's just about supporting your team.

My plan was to stay the night with friends in town, but the game ended early enough that I decided to do the road warrior and drive home the same night.  An uneventful drive aided by the fine folk of the Washington State OES.  If you've ever been to one of the rest stops along the I-5 you know that this service group offers up free coffee and cookies for road-weary travelers.  It was 10pm and I had another 2 hours of driving to go.  I fealt I qualified as "road weary."  "Gladys" was behind the counter that night, and when I pointed at the cookie I wanted she said, "Oh dear.  Those are dunkers."  I'd never heard the term, but when I almost broke a tooth when I bit into the cookie, I knew what she meant.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Work in Progress: Pitt Meadows (or: No, I'm Not Independently Wealthy)

Despite what some may think, I'm not an independent designer.  I work with the fine folk over at Paradigm Kitchen Design ... you may have noticed the link over to the right, below my smiling mug.  In addition to the design work I do for Paradigm, I've also been keeping a blog for them.  The Paradigm Blog is more focussed on the company and what it can do, while useful spaces is more about me and things I find interesting. 

Normally, I'm happy to keep the two blogs separate, but every now and then I post something on one that seems appropriate for the other.  Such is the case my most recent post on the Paradigm Blog: WIP - Ridge Meadows Reno - Part 1.

This project is my second re-re-do, the first being a project I did in West Vancouver.  I did the first remodel for the Ridge Meadows folk back in 2000.  I suppose the fact that I'm back there means things went well the first time!  Anyway, have a read and keep following the action over on the Paradigm Blog.  I'll be updating as things happen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Street Eats - Kimono Koi Crepes

Quick ... when you think of Japanese food, what's the first thing you think of?  If you said crepes, then you're either lying or better versed on Japanese cuisine than I (which wouldn't be difficult, trust me).

Kimono Koi Crepes likely has the best location of the new food carts.  Just come up from the Vancouver Centre station on the Canada Line and you run right into it - either the cart itself or the lineup in front of it.  Kimono serves up a wide variety of savory and sweet Japanese style crepes.  Ingredients include tuna sausage, ham and cheese and usually a couple daily specials.  But it's on the sweet side where they really shine.  Cheesecake, brownies, ice cream ... topped off with a couple Pocky. 

A couple things to note:

These are not small crepes.  They're rolled into a cone so they hold a lot of filling, so for your $5-$10 you get a lot.

The sweet crepes are ... well ... SWEET.  The "Banana Brownie" (banana, brownie, nutella, custard, fresh cream, chocolate syrup) I enjoyed left me with the sugar shakes a couple hours later, but was so good I'd do it again.

There are only two people working the stand, and they make each crepe to order.  Translation: expect a wait.  I was there in the middle of the afternoon and waited about 20 minutes.  I'd expect lunch would be longer.

Kimono Koi Crepes
Granville St & W Georgia St
Vancouver, BC
12:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Tuesday to Sunday, Closed on Mondays

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Solid Design - Italian Style - Part 2

It bares repeating ... the Italians do SOLID design.  And by SOLID, it appears I mean Solid Surface.

Italian company Moma Design features many different bathroom fixtures, a number of them created from Corian.  Shown abopve are the Provence bathtub and the Docciacqua shower head.  Besides their clean aesthetic, because they're made of Corian, the surfaces are non-porous.  Translation:  easy to keep clean.

While putting together this post I came across another post from last year that featured a Corian kitchen from ... you guessed it, Italy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ode to a Dougnut

It's called a Rolly-Polly, and when they're fresh out of the fryer there's not a better doughnut in the city. I've been coming to Honey Dougnuts in Deep Cove for years ... even before my kids were born. Whenever I sign a client in Deep Cove I celebrate a little bit more because I'll be closer to the Rolly. I signed such a client last week. Hooray.

I believe they sell other pastries (they do - I saw the menu) but it's always been about the Rolly for me. And so even though Honey's has changed (they've added '& Goodies' to their name and expanded recently) I remain faithfull to that big ball of fried dough, and always will.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Modular Sound

I spend a lot of time on-line. Whether it's for work or entertainment, the internet is an amazing source of just about everything ... some of them even useful. Music is easily my favourite internet commodity, whether it be from iTunes or internet radio, music is continually being streamed through my laptop. The one downside to this way of obtaining your music is that it often means you have to listen through your computer.

The folks at Chordette have recognized this and offer a series of modular compenents that allow you to play your music from a music server, PC, MAC, iPhone, iPod, laptop, cell phone, PDA, or stream it from the Internet. The system begins with the Chordette Gem, a high quality USB / Bluetooth DAC which lets you easily take music from any digital source directly into your stereo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Getting Corked

Cork flooring isn't anything new.  In fact, when I first got into this industry 15 years ago, it wasn't new then either.  Cork has been used as a flooring material for years.  It's resilient, comfortable to stand on, and is considered a "green" choice since it's renewable. 

In a strangely related issue, there is continued debate over the use of cork versus the Stelvin, or screw top closure in the wine industry.  (This is a design blog, not a wine blog so I won't wade into the discussion.  But do click the link if you're at all into wine.  Interesting times ahead).  It reminded me of an elementary school teacher I had who asked all his students to ask their parents to collect their wine corks for him ... not for a school art project, but for a home remodelling project.  The plan was to glue the flat ends of the corks along the wall for a sort of 1970's themed wine room.  Come to think of it, it was the 70's!

Photo courtesy of Jelinek
Years later, when I was introduced to cork flooring, I remembered my teacher's wine room and wondered if that sort of recycling project would work for flooring.  Apparently the folks at Jelinek Cork Group were asking themselves the same question.  Through programmes like Cork Re-Harvest, Jelinek is able to reclaim some of the millions of cork stoppers that go into the landfill every year.  The cork is re-cycled into various cork products, like coasters and gaskets.  But what really caught my eye and reminded me of the wine room all those years ago was their Mosaic line.

Photo courtesy of Jelinek
The wine corks are cut into circular discs about 6mm (1/4") thick and glued on a paper backing, much like mosaic ceramic tiles. Installation is similar to ceramic tiles as well.  Just like any other cork floor, the cork mosaic can be stained, and like ceramic tile, the patterns that can be created are limitless . These floors have all the characteristics of regular cork floors but besides being suitable in most common rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens and entrance ways, they are also suitable for saunas, showers, pool surrounds, and other potentially wet areas.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Not A Drinking Fountain Either

Kitchen & Residential Design is one of my all-time favorite blogs.  Its author, Paul Anater, has a terrific sense of design, but it's his sense of humour that keeps me coming back.

A while back Paul received an email from a reader asking for some ... assistance: 

Help! My husband, my son and I were over at my cousin's new house last weekend and while we were walking around the master bath and oohing and aahing over the size and decor it was hard not to notice that she had one of those things (I blush when I say the word) next to the toilet. I can't help it, every time I see one they just scream out to me "We have lots of s*x and don't shower afterwards." Anyhow, my four-year-old asked why they had two toilets in the bathroom. I was embarrassed and didn't know what to say, so I told him that there were two so that no one had to wait while the other one finished. He said "nasty" and didn't push it any further. But seriously, what do you tell the kids?
Paul's answer cuts to the chase, and is exactly what I would have told the client ... right after I picked my lower jaw up from the floor.

I asked for Paul's permission to reprint this for two reasons:
  1. It's just DAMN funny.
  2. It nicely illustrates something that designers have to face everyday:  ignorance, and an unwillingness to accept that ignorance.
Now before you accuse me of calling this lady "stupid", I used the word "ignorance", and ignorance is not the same as stupidity.  As ridiculous as I find her comments, I applaud her for asking for guidance in an area she obviously knows nothing about.  I've commented many times before about the multitide of product decisions faced when doing a remodel.  There's no possible way you can know about all of them.  So ask.  As silly as you think the question is, the only stupid thing to do would be to not ask and remain ignorant.

I won't laugh.  Promise.
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