Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Vancouver Public Library's Summer Reading Club for Adults encourages us to try a new genre, learn something new and share in a variety of ways. What I call Cook Book Lit is not new to me but Egyptian recipes are. When I saw this book: EAT, HABIBI, EAT, I had to investigate further. I have seen Egyptian Canadian Chef Shahir Massoud cook (CBC) and like his sense of humor and how he makes his recipes accessible for those who want to expand their usual menus. His food passion started in his family kitchen and deepened with his training in French and Italian cuisines, and,  this is someone who loves color, texture, flavor and creative combinations that definitely are: "Fresh Recipes For Modern Egyptian Cooking". I looked for recipes close to the Greek foods we love. I also looked for dishes that would be enjoyable and possible for me to make. Stocking the pantry is a must if the dishes are to turn out and most ingredients are available at Mediterranean or specialty stores, here in Vancouver/Metro Vancouver. New to me are: Aleppo Pepper, Black Sea Salt, Cardamom, Mastic, and Sumac. Mint is one I know well but seldom cook with. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are highly recommended additions for a healthy diet. There is a whole range of vinegars to try, too. I have had Hibiscus in tea and drinks but never in meat dishes. Look forward to trying Mulberry Molasses and Ashta (Arabic double cream). Not only is the pantry list extensive but also the reasons for using are noted. Good to know that I have all the tools of the trade, except for a microplane, for a finer grate for cheese, chocolate and fresh Nutmeg. And yes, spices should be fresh. (Okay turf those old packages at the back of the cupboard.) Key kitchen tips are helpful and new to me was seasoning with fingertips rather than from a measuring spoon or box. (Nothing about salt over the shoulder for luck, though) 

So much to take in for when I try some of these fabulous tastes for a certain Toronto BBQ, coming up this August. One of our favorite appies is a bowl of varieties of Greek olives. Chef Massoud's has a mango-glaze and sun-dried tomatoes. Moroccan and Lebanese olives and chili flakes make this a more colorful, spicy and uniquely flavored olive bowl. We call them Greek green beans, but Summer Green Bean Fasolia is an Egyptian dish that contains almonds, butter, red onion, butter, beef stock and 1 and  1/2 tsp of of Ras El Hanout, a multi spice blend, in addition to the garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes and green beans and oregano that we use. The intent with these additional ingredients is to keep the colors bright - vibrant greens and reds. Grilled Calamari with Tomato Jam is a new and delicious presentation of deeply spiced and simmered sauce/dip to accompany calamari that has been coated with Garlic, Ginger, tomatoes, sugar, Molasses, white vinegar and Chili flakes and then grilled and drizzled with lemon juice. These are the first 3 of 100 recipes, all of which I intend to sample, hopefully over many family get togethers.

I loved Shahir Massoud's story of changing from a career he hated to one he loved and how his family supported his dreams, even though they cried, at first. I love the recipes and the encouragement and support to try them. I love the book cover and design by Emma Dolan. (Yes, you can tell a good book by its cover) The photography by Kyla Zanandi is exceptional. I love the couple to whom I am gifting this book, for their first anniversary. EAT, HABIBI, EAT!

Thanks to Chef Shahir Massoud for the fabulous food and the stories behind it. 


Chef Massoud's has a mango-glaze and sun-dried tomatoes. Moroccan and Lebanese olives and chili flakes make this a more colorful, spicy and uniquely flavored olive bowl

Grilled Calamari with Tomato Jam

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Jennifer Croll, a prolific local Author, Editor, Researcher, Historian, Fashionista and Cocktail Creator, knows good book launches and where to have them. They are salon gatherings and everyone dresses. She often wears a classic little black dress, but the color swirls around her as people meet and greet and gather for a book signing. Dressed to Swill, is shades of brilliant red and orange, the colors of David Bowie's Mohawk when he was Ziggy Stardust. And the drink, The David Bowie, is featured in a coupe glass with a lemon peel lightning bolt garnish. Get the book for the very doable, memorable drink, a tried and true creation by Jennifer, herself. Fashion and Art are her passions and the cocktails salute the Artists and toast the worlds to which they transport us.

At the Ellis Building, 110 years old and home to Artists as well as a speakeasy, The Library, while fellow fashionista, Dianna D. enjoyed the David Bowie, I was drawn to the shocking pink Elsa Schiaparelli, served in your best coupe glass, with a magenta carnation garnish, when you host your next salon. You will add hibiscus syrup and sparkling rose to provide even more dazzle.

The illustrations, by Daiana Ruiz, are especially colorful and detailed and whimsically depict the Icons, as you know them, in what might be a photo shoot setting or their own favorite locations, with their cocktail nearby.

Find Dressed to Swill, at Massy Books, locally. This is a hard cover, concisely written and beautifully illustrated. Plus, the cocktails are fabulous and the recipes for them, as I said, tried and true. As a nod to Alexander McQueen, I wore turquoise skull earrings to the launch, but might trade my hat for the pink cowboy hat worn (in the book) by Lil Nas X. Might also try his drink with a chili cut in the shape of a flower garnish.

Thanks, Jennifer Croll for your writing and launches! 

I have written about Jennifer's books many times and here is the last one.




Sunday, July 3, 2022

I have always loved textiles and what can be created from them. The stories, the creative communities and the Art, all reasons why I was drawn to this 3 day event, June 15-18 at Vancouver Convention Centre. But, can I sew or quilt? No, but my friend Bobbie Yoshihara, has been a life long crafter and made a special quilt, when she volunteered at My Sister's Closet Thrift Boutique, supporting women and violence prevention. Here is the quilt she made of donated fabric.

As the first day, June 15th was the grand set up day for the many Quilt Exhibits, Merchant Mall, Demonstration Booth and Bistro, Exhibit Halls A & B, I attended on Thursday, June 16th. There were 5 Demos: Bag Making by Tara Sinclair, Quilts for Survivors by Vanessa Genier, Scrap Happy Modern Quilts by Carola Russell, 2 Fabric Applique Fabric Preparation by Connie Johnson Sayer, Janome Circular Attachment by Michael Smith and Creative Quilting Using Your Serger, by Adrienne Gallagher. Although I was not in any of these classes, I passed by some, on my way to two lectures, and heard a lot of animated conversation and saw an 'all hands on deck' atmosphere in the work spaces. The entire Conference was filled with Quilters, excited to learn new techniques, to share photos and samples of recent creations and travels to share them, make them in new places and expand their creative communities. I definitely want to attend the Gala, next time, to find out more about the National Juried Show Trendtex Challenge and Viewers' Choice  Categories: National Juried Show, JN Harper Youth Challenge, CQA/ACC Individual Member Quilt Challenge, and CQA/ACC Member Guild Quilt Challenge. But you know that after going to two lectures and lunching with fellow attendees, I spent the rest of the day being immersed in the fantastic world of Quilts. When I left the Convention Centre, the whole world became patterns: container ships with layers blocks of color, the ocean shades from light to dark blues, greens, and dark purple and black, the deeper down I looked. Every setting could be divided into a quilt story, for sure. And, I looked at what people were wearing because so many Quilters had dressed for this conference. Even in the warmer weather, there were many quilted bags, jackets, skirts, hats, umbrellas and more.

The first lecture I was intrigued by was by Sandy Sandvik: Zero Waste; The Art of Up-Cycled Quilting, Mix Media and Textiles. She brought beautiful Quilts and many photos  From very Northern B.C., close to the Yukon Border, Sandy said, "Stop Shopping"; use the materials you already have and swap fabric and avoid the plastics and polys, although these can be purposefully recycled for Art pieces. Men's shirts and old sheets are great fabrics and patterns, too. I chatted with Sandy about our 8 seasons of ECO Fashion Week, here in Vancouver, thanks to Myriam Laroche and shared with her, this blog about the reuse and upcycling of hotel sheets, here. Sandy listed so many resources: "Why We Quilt" by Thomas Knauer. "Cultural Fusion Quilts" by Sujata Shah, and "Unconventional and Unexpected American Quilts Below the Radar" by Roderick Kiracofe are 3 books that appeal to me. I like that quilts are made by women and men and I like quilts that are without a frame, out of the ordinary, in terms of pattern and shape, tell a story and feature explosions of color. A video Sandy showed featured Artists Margaret Fabrizio and Joe Cunningham in discussion about Margaret's Kawandi. This can be viewed on YouTube and is inspirational. She highly recommended that we visit our local store: Our Social Fabric deadstock fabric store, that we listen to Suzanne Tick: Ted XNavesink Talk: "Weaving Trash into Treasure" and look at this link. Where do you start in your Zero Waste Practice? She recommends: Use what you have, source your supplies (local, thrifted, swapped) analyze fabric - organic or not?, use every inch of fabric and leave no waste. Sandy is a great teacher and lecturer and Quilter, of course. See her on instagram: Sandy Sandvik.

So surprised to see Ivan Sayers, Consultant, Curator, and Collector of Canada's largest Clothing Collection 17th-20th Century,  giving two lectures: Figured Fabrics 1800-1900 and Figured Fabrics 20th CENTURY. I went to the first one. Ivan says he has "the prettiest dresses in the country". but he also brought quits and fabrics for us to (yikes) touch and circulate. WOW! He also says, "I will tell you about my opinions but I don't know everything." If he doesn't know, he will tell you how to find out. He talked about how technology, for example the Spinning Jenny, changed the slow by hand movement and how the industry became more about making money. People were able to print fabric designs rather than weave them so uniformity and speed became the methods. He talked about how wars and revolutions greatly changed craft and clothing. There has always been constant revival and reuse and he showed how style trends like the big sleeve and pointed shoulder are back. Natural dyes became chemical dyes and small prints became huge blocks of color. Japanese women gave up the kimono for European dress. And now the Kimono can be seen in every shape and form. In fact, there were 4 Japanese Designers at Vancouver Fashion Week, this past season. And many of us wore Japanese styles from Terry Sasaki. Ivan has so much knowledge and so many stories that each lecture is not to be missed. He is in his element at Quilt Canada 2022, and I could not resist a capture of his enthusiasm and of the mannequins before and after. You can see more about Ivan Sayers on this blog as well as at More about QUILT CANADA on Facebook Canadian Quilters, Pinterest: cqaacc, Twitter: cqaquiltcanada, Instagram: Canadian Quilters. Should you, on your travels or here at home, see anything to do with Quilting, go and be amazed. Oh, and have a look at what you can find around you.

Here are just a small sample of the fabulous array of Quilts on exhibit. 
  Sandy Sandvik and one of the Quilts she made
  Sandy's Eco Practices Lecture
A Fantastic Magazine Must for all Quilters

 A Quilt Sandy brought for her display  

Sandy Sandvik's collection

Sandy Sandvik's Collection

  Sandy Sandvik's Colection

Sandy Sandvik's Collection
 Multi Media Artist Fuzzy Mall's Eco Practices 

  Quilted Portrait by Multi Media Artist Fuzzy Mall 

Ivan Sayers, Iconic Fashion Historian and Collector meets Sandy Sandvik, Artist/Quilter Extraordinaire


 Indian Cotton Pomegranate Printed Fabric (l) and floral print (notice big sleeves) 

From Ivan's collection - black dye was the most 
expensive so indication of elevated status

Ivan Sayer's Slide showing Japanese Women Wearing 
European Fashions Rather Than Kimonos  

  Leslie Wain representing her group Quilt: Our Sewing Room


 Photo Finish by Diane Chretien

Monday, May 30, 2022

At Vancouver Fashion Week, this season, (April 7-10, 2022) I met Yvonne Hanson, outside of the Chinese Cultural Centre. She was that dynamic whirlwind, capturing those spectacular outfits, as they came through the iron gates, past the famous VFW letters and onto the red carpet leading to the event welcome and registration before heading into the lights and action of fashion week. 

Post Covid, we are still being careful but appreciating the opportunity to dress up and meet our local and international Designers. However, the best memories are often from the photographers, who not only compose those fabulous runway videos but also masterfully convey the excitement and energy on the floor between and after the shows. Vancouver Fashion Week media is great at featuring the Designers before and after the event and sharing the memories so that it remains fresh and a reminder that the next one will be coming up soon.

The photo pit has always been a magic place for me because it is, in my mind, the place where the magic happens. I have been honored to sit there a few times, but leave that to the professionals, for sure. I thank them always for their ongoing enthusiasm and interest in sharing best shots and techniques and look forward to seeing who is new, every season. This time, watching Yvonne, I was interested in knowing more about yet another photographer (they are special, right) who took my photo and shared that this was her full time career and passion. Wow! Yvonne kindly agreed to an interview and to share a few of her favorite photos. Thank you Yvonne Hanson and I know we will see you at Vancouver Fashion Week, this Fall.  And as Annie Leibovitz says: "One doesn't stop seeing. One doesn't stop framing. It doesn't turn off and turn on. It's on all the time."

Our Interview:

Q: What got you started in photography and what motivates you to continue photography as a profession?
A: I got started when a friend of mine lent me her fancy camera for a week. I took it to a few parties and snapped some portraits, and got way better results than I was expecting. A few months later, she asked if I wanted to buy it from her. Thinking I could use it to make some money on the side, I agreed. It quickly developed into much more of a passion than a job, and has remained so to this day!

Q: What professional photographer has most influenced your work?
A: That's a big question, because there’s so many who I have learned from, both online and in person! But I would say one of the most influential photographers for me has been Elizaveta Porodina. Her work is bright, colourful, and strange. She incorporates such unusual lighting techniques and textures into her work. It is very strange and I can’t figure out how she creates these images, which is why I love them so much.

Q: Fave camera and do you ever use your phone?

A: My current camera is a Nikon D780, which is my go-to for digital photography. As for film photography, I have a whole shelf of point and shoots, but my tried and true film camera is the Nikon F801s. I love it because it is a digital-age film camera, complete with screen displays, a light meter, and autofocus!

I think I developed a love for photography with my phone, because I used to take a lot of pictures on travels and adventures, and I had a plant-themed Instagram that was exclusively phone-ography for a while. I don’t use it so much anymore because I always have my good camera with me. I would highly recommend that beginners develop a love for the art by taking pictures on whatever they can. If the phone is the most accessible way to do that, then use it!

Q: At VFW, how do you decide what to shoot? 

A: I have a basic “event photography” guide in my head that says: establishing shots, close up candids, posed singles, posed groups. Thats the magic formula, and so for all BTS/ backstage shots, I try to get an even mix of those. As for deciding which outfits to photograph when I am doing street style, I try to prioritize people with unique/ handmade looking outfits that really show off their own personal style rather than follow with trends. Colours, textures, and textiles all jump out at me. I also try to photograph outfits that are complemented by the background- I have a few different walls I like to shoot against and I try to sort outfits with backgrounds as much as possible. Finally, I like to shoot groups/ pairs in matching outfits, because it shows that effort and coordination went into planning for the event, and its hard to get a bad picture of a group of people who all match each other perfectly.

Q: If you were to go on a photo walk in Vancouver, what would be your fave location?   

A: I am torn between Chinatown and Granville strip! Both are beautiful locations with interesting architecture that absolutely glow during golden hour, but each offers very different photography prospects.
I like Granville strip if I am taking pictures of people. The best dressed folks in Vancouver can usually be found in that area or further down Granville near waterfront, and I like to hang out by the skytrain stations snapping pictures of the best outfits that walk by.

Chinatown is a great place to photograph a changing environment. There is street art, posters, a rotation of vendors, buildings of all different colours that are frequently decorated and re-decorated, painted and re-painted. I have gotten some great shots there with shadows and angles and different layers of colour etc 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Once a year, Craft Council of BC (CCBC) gallery at Granville Island, has a fund raiser,  "The Earring Show." Next year, it will be the 10th Anniversary of this fundraiser. The gallery has so many beautiful crafts, cards, pottery, jewelry and more. It has been in it current location since 1986. Previously it was in the Carousel Theatre building since 1979. See what I wrote the last time I attended an event in 2017!

We thank Alex for the opportunity to see how so many earrings are displayed. 195 this year, from 94 local and international Designers, and how the exhibit and fundraiser is displayed best in a smaller space. Every set was placed and numbered and further details are provided online. For the evening event, there are refreshments, meet and greets and opportunities to bid and buy, in person or online. Here are 10 of our favorites:

This time, I took Carolyn Bruce, of Carolyn Bruce Designs
Because we all dress for adventures and events, she wore these fabulous faces


Frog by Daniel Hunt


Orca Hunt by Daniel Hunt


Raven by Daniel Hunt

Invisible Road Earring by Lei (Yuna) Zhang

Anishnaube Florals by Jaymie Campbell

Beaded Earrings by Mishelle Lavoi 

Anishnaube Florals by Jaymie Campbell

Mismatched Pearl Sliders by Edna Milevsky

Moon by Siyu Dong

Moon by Siyu Dong

For complete list of 200 earrings and Designer Bios please see the beautiful catalogue here.

I always enjoy the Earring Show and encourage you to sign up for the year round events from Craft Council of BC.

Instagram, Facebook & Twitter: craftcouncilBC

Thanks to Alex Montes, Comm, Manager, for arranging for Carolyn and me to observe the show set up and to take photos. 

For The Earring Show, this is the community behind it:

Raine McKay (Executive Director) Program and Event Lead, Organizer, Presenter

Sheryl Mackay Host and Interviewer (Best voice, ever)

Barbara Cohen Gallery Exhibition Curator & Award Sponsor

Charlene Wichaidit Submissions logistics &data, Editing Support, Presenter

Tom Costle (Shop Manager) Shop & Gallery set up support, online shop, Presenter

Tatiana Povoroznyuk Image Editing Support, data Support, online Shop, Event Tech Support

Volunteers: Arman Qureshi, Diana Kamensek, Rafaeia Gomes, Karen Voff, Gigi Wichaidit

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