• Archives
  • Jul3

    Lemongrass tea and cherry icee-1
    [Lemongrass/citrus peel tea & cherry icee; tea is Philosopher's Brew from Victoria's Silk Road Tea]

    We were on the lookout for a compact appliance that would crush ice, chop nuts and seeds, as well as produce fruit smoothies and veggie juices. Something that wouldn’t take up a large amount of counter space and would be easy to use and maintain.

    Enter Cuisinart’s new SmartPower® Portable Compact Blending and Chopping System. It’s sleek, BPA-free, and full of power, as I whipped up morning antioxidant-rich blueberry, yogurt, and flax seed smoothies, slushies with iced tea and seasonal fruit, as well as iced coffees and ground seeds and nut butters.

    Cuisinart SmartPower Compact Blending/Chopping System unboxing

    Out of the box, the set includes a 32-oz. BPA-free blender jar made of Tritan™, an 8-oz. BPA-free chopping cup with its own blade and storage lid, a digital base with High, Low, and Pulse settings on a sleek LED electronic touchpad, four BPA-free 16-oz. travel cups with sipping lids, and an instruction/recipe booklet.

    The system runs on a 350-watt motor; for the blender’s size, it’s pretty mighty, as we crushed ice in less than 10 seconds, into a fine, slushie-like texture.

    Cuisinart Compact Blender System-4
    [Crushed ice for summer drinks!]

    The one-touch operation couldn’t be easier.
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  • Jul2

    KEEN Naples sandal-2

    Just in time for summer, KEEN’s popular Naples sandal is finding a home amongst my favourite summer shoes. The Naples is a pretty, yet versatile casual sandal perfect for cycling, beach seawalls and boardwalks, and summer parties.
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  • Apr4

    Torcal landscape

    A geological formation created by nature’s whim and modified by water and wind, the imposing Andalusian “torcales” rise up on the southern Spanish horizon. El Naturalista’s new Torcal shoe is inspired by nature’s wonderful contours and bent shapes and comes to life thanks to a new Dual-Density technology in an attractive, comfortable, and simple sole.

    El Naturalista Torcal shoes-2

    When I received a pair of El Naturalista Torcals in black last week, my first impression was that they’d be super comfortable from the start. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I wore the shoes pretty much all weekend long. The shoe’s unique shape features one side slightly higher than the other, with a simple side velcro closure.
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  • Apr3

    Fossil Sydney satchel-1

    Texas-based Fossil is now entering its third decade of men’s and women’s fashion accessories and essentials. The founders, brothers Tom and Kosta Kartsotis, named the company after a nickname for their father. Fossil started out as a fashion watch company with a retro twist, using colourful tins to package their line. Since then, the company has grown tremendously to include jewelry, wallets, belts, clothing, shoes, sunglasses, and coveted handbags.

    Fossil Sydney satchel in camel

    From the moment that I spotted the Fossil Sydney Satchel online, I knew it would be the perfect accessory to wear around town. The shape is classic and not too wide, its unobtrusive profile preventing you from bumping the bag into everyone else on busy streets and on transit.
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  • Feb26

    KEEN Rivington CNX

    After my Boots to Fall For feature last year, it was time to get thinking spring, especially with the snow clearing out of Vancouver for hopefully the last time this winter.
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  • Feb18

    Le Meadow's Preserves-15
    [Le Meadow's Preserves: Pear Quince Honey, Pear Citron, Claire de Lune, Balsamic, Classic British Trio, Banana Gone Gourmet]

    I recently had the chance to experience Geneviève Blanchet’s Le Meadow’s Pantry artisanal jams and marmalades. The Québécoise mother of two girls moved to BC 16 years ago, having worked in several kitchens, serving in fine dining, gourmet, and traditional restaurants. Classic foods have been of interest to Geneviève since discovering them on European adventures as a young woman.

    It was there that she learned to enjoy and preserve food according to season, exploring a bounty of great new ingredients and flavours. Once in Vancouver, she studied traditional Chinese medicine, and later received a traditional herbalist diploma. In addition, she’s a registered holistic nutritionist. Armed with all that knowledge up her sleeves, she’s now producing a line of handcrafted, small-batch preserves, cooked in copper jam pans and made a dozen at a time.
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  • Dec4

    Kobo Touch e-Reader

    Winter reading list adding up? Looking for a compact way to take your favourite books to a warm winter getaway or ski adventure? Either way, London Drugs and Vancouverscape have got you covered this month.

    Kobo readers

    London Drugs has provided me with a Kobo Touch e-Reader in silver to give away to a lucky reader this holiday season. Cozy up near the fireplace with your favourite bevvy and enjoy some downtime, or fill someone’s stocking with some gadget love.
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  • Nov12

    White Wedding Green tea
    [White Wedding Green tea]

    Tea Sparrow’s co-founder/tea connoisseur Michael Menashy’s 15-year passion for tea began in China when a factory owner showed him how to brew tea in his boardroom. That day still holds fond memories for Michael, as he remembers the floral-scented oolong that tasted like toasted walnuts. The experience left Michael with a desire to explore the world of tea.
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  • Oct25

    KEEN Delancey boot El Naturalista Iggdrasil Boot
    [L to R: KEEN Delancey boot; El Naturalista Iggdrasil boot]

    Shopping for a pair of fall-to-winter boots is a yearly ritual for many Vancouverites. There’s no shortage of styles to match our wardrobes, tastes, and budgets. Our two wettest seasons are just around the bend and with it, I thought this would make a great opportunity to check out a couple of pairs of boots perfect for casual, urban wear.
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  • Oct22

    Tealeaves-3

    Tealeaves sells a large selection of both loose-leaf and bagged custom-blended teas to tea lovers around the globe. Shortly after the company was founded in 1994, the company’s teas were featured at Four Seasons Hotels, first in Vancouver, later in New York.

    Tealeaves-8

    By 2000, the company had gone global, providing products for the German market, numerous hotel programs, and The Disney Company. Tealeaves reached yet further afield to begin operations in London, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Guadalajara. Their client list is impressive, making them a leading tea purveyor in the industry.
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  • Sep17

    Tovolo TeaGo tea press-1

    I recently came across a pretty nifty tea accessory for enjoying loose-leaf tea on the go.

    From Seattle-based Tovolo, makers of a wealth of kitchen gadgets and cookware, comes TeaGo, a mobile tea press that stores, steeps, and plunges excess water straight from your backpack or purse to a tea cup.
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  • Mar6

    ZAGGsparq 6000-3

    I was on the hunt for a universal USB charger that would work with all my devices, to charge on the go as well as having an extra charge supply on hand. The ZAGG Sparq6000 will hold four charges when its battery is at 100%.

    ZAGGsparq 6000-2

    The ZAGG Sparq6000 is part of a series of three USB chargers that differ in size, amount of charges they’ll hold, and price. The 1220 holds one charge, the 3100, two charges, and the 6000 can keep four charges on its two-USB port device.

    ZAGGsparq 6000-1

    All three Sparqs: 1220, 3100, and 6000 are named for their capacity. The 6000 ($99.99) has 6000 mAh and up to 2.1A at 5 volts. The other two, while smaller and with one USB port, each carry less charges, but are slightly smaller and are priced at $39.99 and $69.99 respectively.

    The Sparq charges smartphones and tablets four times faster than a standard USB charger, and in the case of the 6000, can charge more than one USB device at a time.
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  • Jun20

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-10

    After seeing SwitchEasy’s Avant-Garde 3D iPhone4/4S cases, I just had to have the Chateau case for review in time for summer. Before I proceed, I’d like to let my readers know that I tried taking product shots with three different cameras. Not one shot came even close to this case’s actual greenish-turquoise colour.

    Chateau colours

    The above photo shows the three colour choices more accurately: White, Turquoise, and Mican (a nice deep yellow colour).

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-6

    The Chateau case forms part of a series of four different styles that also include Blossom™ (Black, White, and Pink), Clockwork™ (Black, Bronze, and Silver), and PLANK™ (Blue, Brown, and White).

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-3

    I wanted to review this case for two reasons: its slider design and the whimsical 3D decorative back.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case

    The case comes with a full protective kit:
    - Two sets of colour-matched covers for both headphone jack and 30-pin dock connector
    - Two anti-static screen covers
    - Squeegee and microfiber cloth for application

    The plastic frame is made from durable polycarbonate, meant to protect all of the iPhone’s impact points. The 3D rear design helps to grip the phone. In the hand, the sides feel a little rough, also helping with grip.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-16

    I also like the front beveled bumper edge made to protect the front screen.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-2

    The slider is easy to clip onto the back once the phone is clicked into the main part of the case assembly. The slider clicks firmly.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-12

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-13

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-14

    I tried putting on and removing the headphone jack and 30-pin dock connector protectors. Both were easy and felt solid once in place.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-7

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-15

    For added dimension and whimsy, little sections of the iPhone’s rear also show through the design. The case works just fine with the camera. I noticed no shadows on photos taken with the case on.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-8

    This is a fun case and a great summer accessory for your iPhone 4 or 4S. Kids’ll love it too. And if castles aren’t your thing, check out the three other unique designs in the collection. The Plank consists of five broken planks, Blossom is a field of roses with an extra large rose located towards the bottom, and Clockwork is a pretty cool series of cogs and pistons.

    Avant Garde collection

    I couldn’t find any real negative aspects of this case, but bear in mind that while it won’t wobble on a flat surface, some users might not like a phone case to have an uneven back.

    The SwitchEasy Avant-Garde case retails for US $34.99 and comes with a two year warranty. It’s available around the US (shops and online), and in Vancouver at Kube Computers, and via Memory Lane Computers, Blue Wave Digital, and Jump+ elsewhere in Canada.

    SwitchEasy Avant Garde iPhone 4 Case-9

    Disclosure note: I was sent the SwitchEasy Avant-Garde Chateau case for the purpose of writing this review: cmply.2

  • May8

    Bamboo stylus range

    Wacom, pioneers in the digital tablet market (and recent interactive displays) for creatives, also carries a range of Bamboo tablets and stylus pens for the iPad. There’s two stylus versions available: the Solo and the Duo. The $10 price difference between the two includes the Duo’s additional built-in ink tip on the opposite end of the stylus. I was sent the Stylus Duo for review (currently only available in black).

    Bamboo Stylus duo-1

    As a comparison point, the Solo is only slightly longer at 120 mm than Griffin’s stylus at 110 mm. The Duo is 131 mm (I chose not to include a photo with the Griffin, as I’m only comparing the Solo’s length with their model).

    Bamboo Stylus duo-2

    From a design perspective, the Bamboo is both sleek and modern, with a minimalistic thin Bamboo logo emblazoned on the pen cap. The tip is more pointed than others I’ve seen, and on the iPad, very responsive to movement. The cap can be placed on either end depending on your needs. The ink is black (my personal preference over blue), with a fine point.

    Bamboo Stylus duo-3

    It would be great to see the Duo offered in a few colours, perhaps in a more refined colour palette than the Solo’s current range.

    Bamboo Stylus duo-5

    Bamboo Stylus duo-7

    Overall, I preferred this slightly longer stylus for added control when using the iPad. The stylus also responds well to pressure, perfect for drawing and adding textured lines to your work. It’s also easy to jot down notes using SketchPad Pro HD.

    Bamboo Paper app screenshots

    Speaking of sketch apps, I’ve also been playing with the Bamboo Paper iPad app (free limited version; $1.99 full version includes 20 notebooks as well as cloud archiving and notebook sharing). The app’s a fun way to create journals with doodles, photos (from your iPad’s camera rolls), and text.

    I’m not sure what the full version offers in the way of colour choices, however the free app has a limited range of brush and pen colours to choose from. Wacom is also working on a future version of the app for Android devices.

    Wacom Stylus Duo

    The Stylus Duo weighs 20 grams and its nibs are both replaceable and compatible with the Bamboo Stylus solo (the version without a built-in pen).

    The Bamboo Stylus Duo retails for US $39.95. London Drugs sells the Solo for $29.99, as does Staples. In Canada, the Stylus Duo is available online; local retailers will be added in the near future.

    Disclosure note: I was sent the Bamboo Stylus Duo for the purpose of writing this review: cmply.2

  • Apr12

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-13

    As gadgets keep churning out of the tech world, so do bags that can carry them all securely and comfortably. Case in point, jill-e’s Everywear Gadget Bag. I was just sent the black version (also available in Nougat) for review.

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-1

    Part of their Classic Collection line, the Everywear Gadget Bag is small yet fits a variety of gadgets for women on the go.

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-6

    DSLR and lens compartments, a padded, removable iPad/digital e-reader sleeve, point and shoot cameras, cables, smart phones, everything and anything can pretty much fit inside.

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-3

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-5

    I tested it with a DSLR, 18-200mm zoom lens, Nikon Speedlight SB-700, and the new iPad. All fit well with room to spare.

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-11

    The two front outer pockets snap shut and can hold smart phones, point and shoot cameras, chargers, etc. There’s an external zippered pocket in back for more notes, an MP3 player, etc.

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-2

    There’s also an interior organizer that will fit pens, digital stylus, keys, business cards, credit cards, a notepad, etc. This is something I look for in all my bags, as it’s the only way I can keep track of certain items such as a bus pass, pens, receipts and business cards!

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-10

    The leather handles have a 9.5″ drop and can be worn over the shoulder as well as hand-carried. I love the compact size and the fact that I can go out without looking like the photographer in the room.

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-9

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-8

    The exterior is made with weather-resistant nylon and top quality leather trim (handles, zipper pulls, both front pocket flaps). The bottom contains four tiny metal feet to protect the surface.

    Pros
    Great for carrying a number of electronic items as well as personal items
    Doesn’t look like a conventional camera bag
    Padded, removable iPad/digital reader case
    Weighs only 1.5 lbs (.68 kg)
    Modern compact design

    Cons
    I couldn’t find any, but it would be great to see this offered in a few more colours

    The Everywear Gadget Bag’s Dimensions
    12″ (30.48 cm) L x 7″ (17.78 cm) W x 10″ (25.40 cm) H

    Jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag-12

    As a promotional tie-in with jill-e, I’m offering my readers a 20% coupon code on the Everywear Gadget Bag. All you have to do is 1) “Like” their Facebook page, 2) mention this review in a comment on the jill-e Facebook page, and 3) send an email to info [at] jill-e [dot] com.

    Jill-e will then send you a coupon code for the Everywear Gadget Bag via email, to use on their website.

    The jill-e Everywear Gadget Bag retails for US $99.99 and is available online. Standard shipping service to BC will cost US $24.50.

    Disclosure note: I was sent the Everywear Gadget Bag for the purpose of writing this review as well as the Facebook partnership promotion: cmply.2