Upper Bench & One Big Table ~ Connecting Through food and passion

 I am such a believer in connection: connection to our loved ones, connection to our community, connection to our food. Which is why I was so excited about One Big Table - a culinary journey into our local food community. The man behind the project, is Giulio Piccioli- a charismatic, opera singing, food-loving, Italian man, with a passion for local ingredients and his pet chickens.

Giulio's videos and blog posts delve into our connection to food, featuring how-to cooking instructions, Q+A's with local artisans, farmers and entrepreneurs, and of course feature the beautiful Okanagan.

When we chatted about working together on a few projects, I was so excited Upper Bench was first on the list. 

Upper Bench Estate Winery is an amazing winery and creamery, the ultimate foodie combo. Shana is the passion and creator behind the creamery- producing hand crafted, pasteurized cheeses that make bellies dance, and taste buds sing. I have always loved their products, but watching how the cheeses are made, the craft, the passion, the energy and love put into every step, made me respect and love the cheeses even more. Shana and Lisa (her amazing assistant) were like little cheese elves, giggling and crafting a product they believe in. Check out the video teaser on One Big Table's Facebook page. The video will be up in the next few weeks and we have even more fun coming for you.

I'm hoping to feature more of these types of projects in future, so please let me know what you think :)

A shot from Naramata Bench overlooking Okanagan Lake.

Nicaragua

Do you know that feeling when you ache for a moment as it's happening, like you're nostalgic for it as it's speeding by because you know it's going to be filed under the best section of your memory? I felt that way the entire time we were away in Nicaragua. I felt that way when I watched Elodie learning to speak spanish, and taking in all the newness in a world that's already so new to her. I felt that way when we let her watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse AGAIN because she was tired and sick of being in a plane, I felt it over breakfast of Huervos Rancheros, and when we were surfing, and when we were talking, and when we were quiet. I just felt like it was one of the best trips we've taken and for many mornings after we came home I kept waking up and expecting to be there. So in a whispered voice I'm going to admit

It's one of my favourite places ever. And some of my favourite moments ever. And the crazies that lead up to that trip and that have come since made it even more of an oasis. So I think I'll just stop there. I could go on about the details and the itinerary and where we ate and slept, but it's not the important stuff. What was amazing was travelling with a little bundle of wonderment who made me realize it was all fluid and we were just along for the ride.

Ashley & Ted Elope | International wedding photographer

These are our friends Ashley and Ted. Some time ago Ashley emailed me with the subject line reading: Exotic photos (not that kind!) She knew we were planning a trip to nicaragua. And she wanted to tell me her and Ted were going to. Oh and did she mention they were planning to get married down there? I, of course, immediately phoned her at work and was like: WHAT?!?!?! And then I may have clapped and jumped up and down.

Some time passed and suddenly we were there. In beautiful Nicaragua. We were surfing and hanging out on the beach, and building sand castles, oh and did I mention they got married? On a sailboat? At Sunset?

I could have chosen 30+ photos to feature here. But Ashley requested a small sneak peek so she could share the images with her friends and family, while they travel on through Nicaragua. She wanted to show the majority of the photos to her nearest and dearest when they returned.

Know that these two were the happiest I have ever seen them (and for Ashley this is saying a lot considering she is always glowing and smiling). There were the sweetest tears, and the kindest words, I feel incredibly blessed and humbled to have been able to capture this day. Love you guys!

Vancouver Aquarium | Kelowna Portrait Photographer

Early this week we were down in Vancouver, Chad was in a conference so I decided to tag along and take Elodie to the city. Travelling with a toddler proved to be a little different than I'd imagined. In my mind we were going to have long walks exploring the city, eat out at fun places, hang at the beach. It was the perfect trip in my imagination.

However, reality is always a bit of a kick in the face. There were moments when she was exhausted and i had nowhere to take her, there were moments she decided she didn't want to wear shoes anymore and had a meltdown on Main st regarding her foot wear. (me: you have to wear shoes. Her: waaaaaaaaaaaa. Little kid walking by: why is that baby crying and why is her mommy looking little a heap of crap?) There were moments when I looked across the table and thought she was such an angel, and moments later she was rolling between tables and squishing her lunch into the floor. There were moments when I thought for sure my legs were going to break off from so much walking in stylish shoes and there were very few peaceful moments.

 If I were to do it over again, I would have looked into renting a condo where we could have established a bit more of a routine, because meals and sleeping were pretty much out the window all week. There were many great kid-friendly (but not cheesy) eating spots, which were little havens for momma and bebe.

• Sophie's cosmic cafe in Kits

• Cafe deux soleil

• Little Nest (we didn't make it but it was recommended over and over)

When we were both feeling peppy and pleasant we were exploring and I was generally trying to exhaust her endless supply of energy. These spots provided excellent adventures:

• Stanley park walk (she burned off major steam)

• Granville Kids Market (not for the faint of heart when it comes to noise)

• The Aquarium (pricey but well worth it)

I bow down and worship the ground you walk on, if you take your toddlers anywhere outside a day trip. You travelling families amaze me. I salute you.

Skeeters

Our little cabin is under siege. The attacks generally worsen after dark when the bloodthirsty bastards come out of hiding and turn their focus to war.
I’m talking about the gigantic mosquitoes infesting our home.
Nightly Chad and I wake to the obnoxious buzzing of a fleet of mosquitoes desperate for sustenance. Even when we launch a pre-slumber, surprise assault on them, they return hours later. Dressed for combat they arrive, weapons drawn, prepared for mass destruction in true kamikaze form.
For the past three nights Chad and I have sat awake armed with a fly swatter, a headlamp and flashlight, positioned like snipers. Neither of us breathe a word, our one motive is to kill ever last bloodsucker. We have formulated the ultimate kill tactic. One of us sits with our back to the headboard while the other sits facing it. This gives us a full 360-degree swatting range, increasing our odds of fatally wounded enemies.
I am usually the bait, as it has been observed that the bugs favour me to Chad. (Proving I am far sweeter than he) Slowly they become comfortable and land to feast on my blood, but before they bite Chad slaps down the swatter squishing the bastard.
It is always a rush when we get one. But the excitement quickly dissipates when more mosquitoes come to avenge their brother’s death. That’s when the feud turns deadly. Chad and I are constantly slapping, swatting and squishing. I have to admit I find pleasure in slapping Chad. Depending on whether he has pissed me off in some way earlier in the day, the slap will be administered with only necessary pressure or with brute force.
Last night was one of the worst nights we’ve had. We couldn’t keep up with the enemy. So eventually we had to surrender. It was hardest on Chad. He eventually ran to the closet to retrieve a protective hoodie, which he tied so tightly around his face, only his nose was exposed. Of course he awoke to a giant bite on the tip of his shnoze, adding a delightful detail to his already crooked nose.
When he finally hopped out of bed something inside him snapped. Dressed only in his undies he paced around the cabin with his trustee blowtorch, lighting up any winged pest that crossed his path. With every scorched carcass I cheered and Kaz, in response, barked and jumped around frenzied with excitement. The trouble it all seemed very normal. Nothing strange about a underwear clad hubby torching mosquitoes and a wife and dog cheering him on.
I hope these mountains aren’t starting to go to our heads.

I can't get any photos to upload... strange.