• Archives
  • Aug14

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-11

    Vancouver-based Get Snap and Go has entered the self-portrait (aka selfie) market with a selfie stick monopod for your smart phone or point-and-shoot compact digital camera.

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-3

    The idea came about earlier this spring when Snap and Go’s founder was on holiday in Paris. Trying to get just the right angle proved challenging (likely for others too), and at that moment, the proverbial lightbulb went off.

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-7

    Those who know me realize how much I cringe whenever I hear the word selfie. It’s not a word that’s about to go away anytime soon, and the concept of taking your photo without having to ask anyone in public (with the potential risk of having your smart phone or camera run off with) is the best reason I can think of to check this product out.

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-4

    The Snap and Go Selfie Stick is portable, lightweight, and works with Android models with the built-in timer in the camera app. For iPhone and iPod users, it’s a matter of downloading the free Camera360 app and using its self-timer feature to grab shots.

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-1
    [Get those great overhead shots by turning the camera away from you too!]

    Once the app’s launched, you can tap on the screen to set the timer to fire the camera at 3, 5, 10, 15, 30, or 50-second intervals.

    Get Snap and Go Monopod-1 Get Snap and Go Monopod-4

    Screw in the tripod insert, clamp the phone in, and you’re good to go. I did find that either with or without an iPhone 5s case, the clamp, while solid, isn’t super solid, so I’d hesitate to take it over water or out on the deck of a tall building.

    Get Snap and Go Monopod-2 Get Snap and Go Monopod-3 Get Snap and Go Monopod-5

    We had a blast taking it around the Squamish Valley Music Festival last weekend.

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-2

    The Snap and Go Selfie Stick is 8” when compact, extends to 38” (97cm), and weighs a mere 150 grams. It’s excellent for travel, video blogging, hiking, camping, weddings, parties, concerts, aerial shots, sporting events—just about anywhere you’d like one to 100 people in your frame!

    Squamish Valley Music Fest-Monopod-9

    Get Snap and Go’s monopod retails for CDN $24.95; their website offers free shipping anywhere in North America. Future plans include offering a remote that can be used with the iPhone.

    I was given a Get Snap and Go monopod to test-drive for this feature.

  • Aug13

    Omni Wearable Light collections

    Though Vancouver’s summer may seem never-ending at this point (soak it up while you can!), fall is just a few weeks away. Australia-based design company TwoWheelCool recently sent us some cycling gear to preview: three colourful silicone accessories for safety and warmth.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-1

    Founded in Balmain, one of Sydney’s inner harbour suburbs, TwoWheelCool aims for performance and innovative design in a product line created for cyclists and motorcyclists alike.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-6 TwoWheelCool bike gear-7 TwoWheelCool bike gear-8

    The company was founded a couple of years ago by industrial designer/architect/motorcycle rider/bike collector Bruce Hanlee, proving that some of the best-designed products out there are created by creative types wearing many hats!

    The company got its start with 2012’s Airhead helmet ventilation liner for long-distance motorbikes; the line has grown to offer phone mounts, lights, chainstay guards, and toe warmers.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-18

    The latest in their lineup is the front/rear USB-powered Pilot Helmet Light. There’s a control button on top to turn it on as well as to cycle through four modes: Steady front and back, steady front and flash rear, flash front and steady rear, and flash front and rear.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-16 TwoWheelCool bike gear-11

    After charging up the light via the supplied USB cable to the small port on the side of the light, the battery is rated to last between three (steady front and rear) and 10 (flash front and rear) hours.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-5

    A pair of skinny velcro straps threads through the bottom of the light and then through the top of your helmet. The straps are then fastened inside and any extra strap can be trimmed away.

    When the battery runs low, the Pilot light will shine red when turned off. Once it’s connected to your computer (or to a USB charger), it’ll remain red until fully powered.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-2

    We charged the light overnight when we first got it out of the box. Same thing with the Omni Wearable Light, another USB-rechargeable TwoWheelCool product. This one can fit around your wrist, attach to a bag, or around your ankle, and shines red (rear) LED lights.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-9

    The Omni will flash through four modes: Steady, fast flash, pulse, and slow flash with battery times ranging from four (steady) to 45 (slow flash) hours of burn times.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-10 TwoWheelCool bike gear-15
    [Bottom photo: The Omni worn on my wrist]

    Both the Pilot and Omni are made of a non-allergenic, anti-static, anti-bacterial, water-resistant silicone outer with an ABS case. I was attracted to each product’s streamlined, intelligent design.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-3

    Perfect for the cooler seasons, TwoWheelCool’s Toe Cap Toe Warmers slip over your bike shoes and can accommodate cleats. Just make sure you lift the toe cap strap over and away from the cleat when putting them on the shoes. We found the fit snug and true to size.

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-14 TwoWheelCool bike gear-4 TwoWheelCool bike gear-12

    These are also hand-washable and will stretch to fit your shoes. We’ll be testing these out some more on rainy morning commutes and chilly nights. Stay tuned to this space for updates.

    TwoWheelCool Wrapper Chainstay Neon

    Another cool and handy item we’re looking at is the Wrapper Chainstay Guard, a great way to protect your bike from chain damage and wear, shaped just like a chainstay.

    TwoWheelCool products are available online; at the moment, they’re seeking North American distributors. All prices quoted below are in AUD which is roughly equal to the Canadian dollar at present. For about $20, you can order and fit roughly three items into a Registered Post pack and have it shipped to North America.

    - Pilot Light colours: Black, Celeste (aqua), Mist (off-white), Neon (yellow/green); retails for $39.95
    - ToeCap Toe Warmers colours: Black, Red, Celeste, Mist, Rosa, Neon, Orange; retails for $29.95
    - Omni Wearable Light colours: Black, Red, Celeste, Mist, Rosa, Neon, Orange; retails for $39.95

    TwoWheelCool bike gear-13

    I was sent the Toe Cap Warmers, Pilot Light, and Omni Wearable Light for the purpose of test-driving the products for this feature.

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • 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