BCBusiness vs. Squamish: What Did I Just Read?

Let’s be clear about one thing: I very much appreciate a good tongue-in-cheek satire. Case in point: Dog Lotion’s recent spin on WB/Vail’s “breaking” announcement re: new Blackcomb gondolas and chairlifts was nothing short of perfection.

But after reading BCBusiness’s “Big Fat Deal: $4.7 million to be swish in Squamish“, I was left shaking my head and thinking, “What the heck did I just read?”

I subscribe to Google Alerts for a few of my favourite topics: Whistler, Squamish, Whistler Real Estate, and Squamish Real Estate. Every morning, I scroll through my daily digest before rolling out of bed. Today, the BCBusiness article was one of the links. The short excerpt made it seem like it was a showcase of a high-end Squamish home, so I clicked to read it in its entirety.

I’m pretty familiar with BCBusiness: it’s a BC-based (duh) publication that generally posts interesting, well-researched, and well-written news and profiles. I’ve never seen anything that could be described as funny or satirical on their website or in their magazine… until, possibly, this morning, when I discovered their biting “Big Fat Deal” real estate section. (I still can’t figure out if it’s 100% a satire.)

Let’s dissect the article.

Here is the house in question:

Britannia Beach House

It’s a 5 bed, 5 bath stunner located in Britannia Beach, listed at a cool $4.698M.

The skinny: Five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 6,225-square-foot house on a 39,500-square-foot lot in Britannia Beach, Squamish.”

In BCBusiness’s defense, the MLS lumps a few different communities together into the Squamish geographical area – but anyone who is mildly familiar with the Sea to Sky knows that Britannia Beach is a distinct community from Squamish. Wikipedia classifies it as a “small, unincorporated community” and, although it is in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional Disctrict (as are Whistler and Pemberton, among others), it’s not Squamish.

“Leaping large into the luxury price range comes Squamish, previously known as the “poor man’s Whistler.” “

Poor man’s Whistler – ouch! Although not exceptionally original, this jab considerably discounts Squamish’s history – both short term (logging, anyone?) and long term (First Nations, anyone?) – and its place on the map as a mecca for rock climbing, mountain biking (in a non bike park setting, thankyouverymuch), and kite boarding, among others.

Aspirational weekenders should no longer feel ashamed to call the former pee-stop to the mountains their home away from home.

It’s true – when I lived in Vancouver and weekend warriored my way to Whistler, we stopped at the combination Tim Hortons/Wendy’s for a bathroom break and a Frosty. But the use of the word “ashamed” is a little off-base. I’m not exactly sure why one would have ever felt ashamed to live in a community that is flanked by mountain ranges and an ocean and full of awesome people who like to connect with nature and improve their community… but sure, BCBusiness. Sure.

“Indeed, here you get to lord it over the miserable middle-class commuters who fled Vancouver for a back yard that didn’t cost more than your Lamborghini (and no, we’re not talking SUV), and the service workers of Whistler who can’t afford to even rent where the really rich people play.”

Where do I start here. The lawyers, real estate brokers, medical professionals, and other Squamish-Vancouver commuters that I know are neither what one would classify as “miserable” or “middle-class” (though, for the latter, what does it even matter?). Their commute along the Howe Sound is pretty breezy, with the only real hiccup being the dreadful Lion’s Gate Bridge (which even the Lamborghini-owning West Van crew must contend with). I wouldn’t worry about them, BCBusiness – judging by the smiles on their faces and the grass stains on their kid’s knees, they’re doing alright.

As far as the Squamish-Whistler commuters, I’m sure many of them belong to the service and hospitality industries that are the backbone of Whistler. But I know many others, too: tradespeople, teachers, filmmakers, writers, and real estate agents, to name just a few. While some of us move because of the nutso Whistler rental market (not just price-wise [$2,900 for an unfurnished 2-bed-1-bath is the most recent I can find on Craigslist] but supply-wise, too), it can also be exhausting to live in a Lala Land where we are expected to serve and entertain visitors with attitudes like that of the author of this article. Some of us like Squamish because we can find parking, seats on a patio, and other people who don’t think they’re better than the “miserable middle class” or “service workers”.

“For the price of a small, out-of-the-way townhouse in the world-renowned ski resort, here you get to be top dog.”

This one is just plain old false. A 2-bedroom (is that small?) townhome in Creekside (is that out-of-the-way?) is currently listed at $725k on the WLS.

The price point that this Britannia Beach property is listed it is comparable to the following Whistler listings (to name a few):

bayshores

White Gold

  • And a 3.5 bedroom home with a private dock on Alta Lake, built in 2016 (listed at $4.498M):

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Also, this may be overly picky, but the ranking of “Top Dog” in Squamish is not determined by the size of your home – factors such as which peaks you have bagged, whether or not you have personally named a bike trail, your finishing time in the Squamish 50, and whether you can snag a seat at Fergie’s at 9:30 AM on the Saturday of a holiday weekend hold much more clout. Of course, I can’t for sure say if the same is true for Britannia Beach – it not being Squamish, and all.

“Look at it as a stepping stone to your ski-in, ski-out mountaintop cabin; get in now and let the escalating Squamish prices lift you up where you belong.”

May I presume, BCBusiness, that you believe you belong in Whistler? If so, I hate to be the one to tell you – but prices there are on the rise, too. By the time your Britannia Beach home has appreciated to an amount you deem acceptable, all you’ll be able to afford in Whistler is (gasp!) an out-of-the-way small townhome in Creekside.

“Meanwhile, feel free to invite your (much wealthier) friends over for après drinks and nibbles on their way back to town—they’ll be so glad to avoid the washroom line at Tim Hortons, they’re bound to wait until they are at least back on the Sea-to-Sky before wrinkling their noses at your B-list postal code.”

See, sentences like this are why I am not exactly sure whether or not this article is a satire. It just packs a lot of meanness into very few lines. Let me break it down:

  • First of all, I am so very grateful that my baller city friends are still able to tolerate my company, despite the fact that I live in Squamish, which obviously means that I make no money at all and must be a very awful person (a miserable middle-classer, right?)
  • I am also flattered that my rich friends prefer snacking on my homemade bread to the overpriced and underwhelming nachos of the patios of Whistler. Of course, I wasn’t up on the mountain enjoying a few runs (I must be too poor to ski – I live in Squamish!) – I was busy arranging a charcuterie board and cocktails for my elite skiing friends. I hope they tip!
  • BCBusiness author, as someone who once skied 38 days as a weekend warrior and stopped at the Squamish Timmy Hos nearly every single time, both on the way up and on the way down, let me assure you that I NEVER had to wait in line for the bathroom. The efficiency of that place is astounding. Can I get a fact check here?
  • My B-list postal code is such an embarrassment to me that I rented a PO BOX in Vancouver so that when I send my Christmas cards, my return address doesn’t reveal my true self to my friends (who are royalty and who care about such things). [end sarcasm – seriously, postal codes?!?!?!?!?!?!?!]

The hidden extras: Sea view, self-contained nanny quarters, geothermal concrete floors, security system, just up the road from Mountain Woman’s legendary burgers. Take that, Whistler!”

You forgot about the mine museum, dear author!


In conclusion, here is my advice to you, BCBusiness: you’re not Mad Magazine (or even Dog Lotion). Reading this article was like watching a first-timer crash and burn on amateur night at Yuk Yuks. If you would like to discover Squamish, I’d be happy to show you around and fill you in on how there’s more to it than the fact that it is not Whistler.

Of course, you’ll have to find a Britannia Beach resident to give you the real scoop there.

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Review: The Common, Squamish’s Coworking Space

The vast majority of the time, I work from my home office.

But every so often, I need to find a mobile work space to get my work done. On a few recent occasions that involved some outrageously expensive car repairs (ouch, ouch, ouch), I found myself stuck downtown Squamish in desperate need of a desk.

In the past, I’d have headed to the library. Now, I love the Squamish Public Library – but it is not the best place to get work done. The internet is a little spotty, the work spaces are functional but not necessarily comfortable, and things can get a bit noisy – particularly during the day when it becomes a toddler hot spot. It works, but it’s not ideal.

I’m also not one for setting up shop at Starbucks. I’ve done it in the past, but I don’t love it. I can swing it if it’s only for an hour or two, but if I’m parking there all day, I feel like I have to keep buying stuff every hour and the hustle and bustle is just too distracting for me.

Thankfully, Squamish has developed a perfect alternative: The Common.

The Common is a recently opened shared coworking space. I didn’t know much about it when I sent in an email to find out about the rates and availability, but I was hoping for a quiet, clean space where I could get my work done while I waited on my car/money pit to be ready.

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My expectations were exceeded in a big way. I walked into the space – on the main downtown drag (Cleveland Ave) – on a drizzly, grey day. It was super cozy and inviting. I kind of expected it to be on par with the offices I’ve worked at in the past (functional but somewhat institutional), but it was way better. The decor was super modern – I’ve never worked at a cool start up or tech firm, but I imagine it would look something like this.

I had my pick of desk types (they even have standing desks – cool!), so I set up shop and got to work. The Common has everything you need, and more – think fancy coffee machine (and even a fancy kettle that heats up your water depending on the kind of tea you’re having – whoa), a few printers, private rooms for phone calls and Skype sessions, and a boardroom upstairs that you can rent out.

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On one of my days there, there was just me and another person in the space. On another, it was fairly busy, with half a dozen or so people and more trickling in and out throughout the day. Both times, I found it easy to get into the zone and work my way through my to do list. The central location offers plenty of lunch options (I opted for Zephyr) and is super convenient if you’ve got other appointments or errands to run.

The price is most definitely right: the $30 a day drop in rate is very reasonable. Plus, if you’re a contractor or run your own business, you can most likely write off the expense. There are plans if you intend to become a regular – the more days you work there, the cheaper it gets on a per-day basis.

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Yup – that’s an air hockey table

I can’t think of many cons, except that it might get a little lively or distracting if all of the work spaces were filled – although I imagine that most contractor types are pretty respectful of other people at work. To be honest, the social aspect might be kind of nice for those of us who typically spend our days holed up alone at home.

This wasn’t a paid advertisement (or even a non-paid advertisement) – this a bona fide awesome resource for the mobile workers of Squamish. If you’re curious, I recommend checking it out.

Bread Illustrated’s Kouign-Amann: A Colossal Disaster

This one really stung.

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Do not be deceived by this seemingly delicious-looking photo.

I have wanted to make the Kouign-Amann recipe in my Bread Illustrated cookbook for eons. I remember seeing the bakers on the Great British Bake-Off scratching their heads when faced with a challenge that required them to bake this old-school pastry-type thing from Brittany. I was thinking, “I need make this” – and then I was delighted to discover that Bread Illustrated include a recipe for this obscure bread on its very last page.

I’ve read that Kouign-Amann (pronounced kind of like “queen ah-mahn”… I think…) are incredibly delicious. I believe it, too – it’s a laminated dough with lots of butter and a thin shell of caramelized goodness. I just, unfortunately, haven’t had the opportunity to experience the deliciousness for myself.

Because my own attempt at baking Kouign-Amann’s was a total, utter disaster and such a tragic waste of expensive butter.

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Let me rewind.

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I decided to try to bake the Kouign-Amann’s for a book club meeting. Things started out well: the first step involved mixing some dry (flour, yeast, salt) ingredients with some wet (milk, sugar, melted butter) ingredients in the stand mixer, letting it rest, and whacking together a perfect parchment square of butter.

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I love the butter whacking and Bread Illustrated provides a fairly easy way of making the parchment square. It involves carefully measuring and folding a big piece of parchment and then smacking some butter with a rolling pin until it fills the origami-like square.

It is VERY satisfying when it’s finished.

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Then, you laminate everything by rolling and folding and rolling and folding the butter into the dough. This is the same process that I used when I made croissants earlier this year, and let me tell you – it is WAY easier to do in the winter in a cold house! I didn’t have any issues of tearing down or melting butter.

Things were going very well.

(Hahahahaha. Little did I know.)

The sugar step came next (well, one of the sugar steps – there is quite a bit of sugar going on here. It’s a dessert, people). You sprinkle sugar onto the dough and fold it a few times, creating delicious layers of sugar and butter and dough. It’s a beautiful thing.

After allowing the dough to chill in the fridge, literally and figuratively, it’s time to shape these pretty little clover-like pastries. You have to roll and trim the dough into two perfect rectangles. I used a pizza wheel to cut the dough into strips, then squares. My corners were sharp and my dough looked pro – things looked so promising!

(Hahahahaha)

To give the Kouign-Amanns their signature caramelly bottom, you brush each cup in a muffin tin with melted butter and sprinkle in a little sugar (because of course there’s more sugar), tapping out the excess. Then, you dip each square of pastry into – what else – a shallow bowl of sugar, then fold the squares into the muffin tin. The pastry looks a bit like those cootie-catcher fortune teller thingies we all made when we were younger.

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The recipe indicates that at this point, “unrisen Kouign-Amann can be refrigerated for up to 18 hours; let rise at room temperature for 3 to 3.5 hours before baking”. It was getting late, so I popped everything in the fridge – and then I got a text saying that I had to work as an extra on a made-for-TV film set the following day. Which meant that I woke up at 3 AM to take the Kouign-Amanns out of the fridge so that I could bake them before I left the house. Yes, it was totally insane – but I just knew it would be worth it.

(Hahahahahah)

Before you bake them, the Kouign-Amanns get juuuuust a little more sugar and butter: brush the tops with melted butter, dust the tops with a bit of sugar, and bake the whole thing for 25 to 30 minutes.

HERE IS MY TIP: PUT THE MUFFIN TIN ON A COOKIE SHEET.

This is what happened to me: I put the Kouign-Amanns in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes, which was when I planned on rotating the pan in the oven to ensure an even bake. Then I got out of the way so that Cedric could make his breakfast and coffee. Remember – it is presently 6 AM.

I’m in another room tapping away at my computer when, from the kitchen, Cedric tells me that whatever I’m baking appears to be smoking. I tell him to turn on the oven fan, but he tells me I might want to come take a look.

The pastries have only been in the oven about 5 minutes, but I head over and it smells a little burny. I open the oven and smoke BILLOWS out – I can’t see and it immediately stings my nose and throat. While Cedric is dismantling the smoke detector, I pull the muffin tin out and close the oven door, then proceed to open all the windows to let the smoke escape.

I’m in a bit of a predicament, here. My not-even-half-baked pastries sit pale on the stove, and my oven is still smoking like mad. After a bit of investigation, it appears that something overflowed and spilled onto the bottom of the oven. I’m able to pull out the liner at the bottom of the oven and let some air circulate until the smoke is gone.

I decided to try throwing the Kouign-Amanns back in the oven, despite the fact that they’ve been sitting out for a few minutes and the oven has cooled with all the opening and closing. I cross my fingers and hope for the best as I keep a very close eye on things.

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Unfortunately, luck was not on my side. Although they emerged from the oven looking pretty good – they even had a gooey caramel bottom when I flipped them out, which hardened just as it was supposed to – the taste was seriously compromised.

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Shiny little bottoms

They tasted of smoke – nasty, nasty smoke. You could almost get a sense of what they were supposed to taste like, but the taste of smoke was so overpowering that they were inedible.

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How can something so lovely taste so bad!

I left them for a day, but nothing had changed when I bit into one the next day (the day of my book club meeting). They tasted so badly of smoke that I had to throw the whole batch out. HEARTBREAKING!

I made an emergency batch of chocolate chip cookies for book club. They were good – but they weren’t Kouign-Amanns.

The worst part is that I know I probably won’t try this recipe again for a long, long time – if I ever do at all. They were so labour intensive, and all for naught. I’m thinking I’m better off flying to France and visiting every pastry shop in Brittany to find one baked by a pro.

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: (

I think it’s safe to say that if I had been on the Kouign-Amann episode of the Great British Bake-Off, I would have been sent home.


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

14 Days of Yoga – Whaaat!

I recently set a new yoga PR.

(Ha ha – imagine we talked about yoga like that?!?)

Cedric’s friend won a two-week pass at my yoga studio, Moksha Squamish. She kindly passed it along to me – best gift ever!

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Photo sniped from the Moksha Yoga Squamish studio FB page, because I’m pretty sure taking your phone to class is a faux pas. Check out the mountain tops from the window!

I have purposely been trying to sloooowly spread out my multi-class pass to make it last all year long. As such, I don’t get to go to yoga as often as I’d like to. I decided to make the most of my 14 days of yoga by hitting 14 classes in as many days*.

*Actually, the 14th day I was in Whistler and couldn’t make any classes – so I two-a-daysed Day 13.

The timing was perfect for two reasons. One, the two-week period I picked happened to coincide with two weeks of horrible, nasty, rainy weather (i.e., a typical Squamish November). There’s nothing better than a cozy yoga class in a hot room when it’s grey and awful outside. Two, this was the perfect way to let my busted up lower leg muscles recover fully after my early November half marathon (and associated training drama).

Having the two-week pass meant that I could try a lot of classes I don’t normally go for. I set a goal to try as many different class styles with as many different teachers as possible. I managed not to hit the same class style with the same teacher at all – this required some serious schedule analysis skills.

Not only did I make a point of mixing up class styles and teaching approaches, but I also tried to hit classes at different times of day (yep – even a 6:30 AM class!), put my mat in different corners of the room each time, and approach similar classes with totally different intentions.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • A typical Moksha class features the same sequence of postures, with a minor mix-up here and there. If you ever feel like it’s starting to feel repetitive, try it with a new teacher. One of my best Moksha classes was the fifth one – despite having done it four times already in a relatively short period of time, for some reason, the fifth felt totally different.
  • As great as it is for saving money, doing yoga alone at home just doesn’t hold a candle for me compared to taking a class in person. I found that the vibe of the class changed significantly depending on whether there were only 8 or so people in the studio or if it was completely full. I liked both for different reasons, but it made me realize that you really do pick up on something from the people around you.
  • It’s hard to pick a favourite class, but if I had to, it would be the 60 minute Moksha with live music. The Squamish studio hosts this class on Friday evenings. I liked it so much that I took it twice (it’s the only one I took twice, but each one had a different teacher). The first time I did it, the teacher didn’t actually instruct – he just lead by doing his own practice in the middle of the room and gave subtle cues with his breath. It was totally different and totally awesome – I highly recommend this one if you’ve got a few Moksha classes under your belt.
  • I looooove hot yoga, but I have to admit I missed going outside and getting fresh air on trail runs. Yes, even in the awful weather. I think my ideal balanced yoga schedule would be three classes a week.
  • The greatest challenge of the 14-day challenge was managing my laundry. Specifically, I only own one yoga towel. I am a very sweaty human, so it is difficult for me to do a non-yin style class without a towel. A lot of laundry was done throughout this two-week period.

I’d love to hear how other people mix up their yoga practice. Here are a few final thoughts re: how I stayed stoke for each and every class by mixing up goals and intentions:

  • Mirror vs. no mirror: I typically set up in a spot where I can see myself in the mirror because I like being able to make adjustments based on what I see. However, it was good to mix it up sometimes and hide behind other people, where I had to rely on other sensations rather than visuals.
  • Go back to basics: I tried an entire class where I always stayed with the first variation (usually the easier one, though I don’t think it’s proper yoga lingo to say that). This was a good way of focusing on squeezing all the right muscles without having to worry too much about balance and other aspects of a pose.
  • Intentions – internal vs. external: I wrote a post about yoga intentions a little while back, but I like to set a key area of focus before I start a class. About 60% of the time, I would come up with an intention on my own, but sometimes the teacher would offer a little preamble and would suggest a pretty good intention that I borrowed for the class.

Namaste, brah!

Bread Illustrated’s Quick Cheese Bread

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In the summer, I’m all about great big salads with fresh ingredients straight from the Farmer’s Market. But this time of year, my theme in the kitchen is: bring on the soup.

Soup has been on the menu a lot as of late. Turkey soup, sweet potato curry soup, broccoli soup, cauliflower arugula soup… it’s all delicious, but sometimes, you need to spice it up a little.

I usually serve our soups with a crusty bread, a grilled cheese, or maybe a salad. On the broccoli soup night, I wanted something a little more exciting than regular sourdough – but I didn’t have time to make a very labour intensive bread. I found the perfect recipe in my Bread Illustrated cookbook: Quick Cheese Bread.

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This bread only takes an hour and a half to make – and half of that time is spent in the oven. And here’s the kicker – it doesn’t even require the use of the stand mixer. This bread is EASY PEASY.

The first step in making this bread calls for sprinkling a layer of grated Parmesan on the bottom of the loaf pan. You already know this bread is going to be delicious.

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Then you whisk flour, baking powder (baking powder! in bread!), salt, pepper, and cayenne in a bowl. By hand. The old school way. You stir in a cup of cheddar chunks (I just grated my cheddar), then you add the wet ingredients (consisting of milk, sour cream, melted butter, and an egg).

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You fold the whole thing together very briefly and very gently – and that’s it! The whole thing gets plunked into the cheese coated pan, then you add another layer of parm on top of the loaf and bake.

Quick-Cheddar

Is it quick? YES. Is it easy? YES. Is it cheesy? YES.

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Cedric could not believe his luck when he discovered that this bread basically included a crust of cheese. His favourite thing ever is when the cheese spills out of a grilled cheese and becomes a hard cheesy crispy thing, so this bread was right up his alley. I liked it, too – though neither of us loved it quite as much as the Cheddar Pepper Bread.

Here’s the thing: it had a distinct taste was oddly familiar.

Eventually, I figured out what it reminded me of: the cheesy biscuits from Red Lobsters. My Papa loved Red Lobsters and we went pretty frequently when I was little, and I lived for the cheese biscuits. I’ve actually tried to replicate the recipe a few times in the past, but nothing has turned out like I hoped. This quick cheese bread had the right crumbly consistency, so I decided to do a little recipe doctoring.

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I remade the recipe with a few modifications:

  1. I cut Cedric’s favourite part, the Parmesan crust. I had to stay true to the Red Lobster biscuit style – although I did sprinkle a little parm on a few of my biscuits just to see if it would be good. (It was – but somewhat undetectable.)
  2. I added 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and a big minced clove of garlic.
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I put grated Parmesan on the ones on the right. You know, as evidenced by the Parmesan shards.

I scooped the batter with an ice cream scoop onto my silicon Silpat, then I baked for 15 minutes, rotated, and gave it another 15 minutes. I wanted them a liiiiittle more golden, so I turned off the oven and left them in for a bonus 5 minutes.

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They are delicious, especially still warm out of the oven. However, I find they actually taste more Red Lobstery the longer they sit out. They aren’t the perfect reproduction, but they’re really, really good.

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That picture makes my stomach rumble.

So there you have it, folks: a bread that is actually better in biscuit form.

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Magee’s Favourite Things 2017

It’s that time, folks!

Oprah has announced her wonderful, ridiculous favourite things – and just as I did last year, I’m here to discuss my most fabulous finds of the past 365 days.

[PS – Apparently she announced her favourite things nearly a month ago. I only noticed when I saw the O magazine at the library – whoops.]

For what it’s worth, the items I mentioned last year are still very much beloved and frequently enjoyed (except the Rootables chips, which I sadly cannot find anywhere).

2018, here we go.

Oiselle Roga Shorts ($48 USD)

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This is a bold claim, but I’ve never loved a pair of running shorts as much as I love my Oiselle Roga Shorts. I stumbled upon these shorts when I was browsing the sale rack at Capra. I bought a pair for just under $50 Canadian – what a steal! I’ve never owned anything by Oiselle before, but judging by these shorts, I’m a fan.

If you’ve got powerful gams like I do (some call them Thunder Thighs), these shorts are super roomy. The best part? NO CHAFING. None. I have had zero issues on with chafing, whether on trail runs or road runs. I want to own a thousand pairs of these shorts.

The Bread Illustrated Cookbook ($31.28)

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If you’ve followed by blog at all this year, you already know that this book was my bible in 2017. I discovered it at the Squamish Public Library on one random late winter day when I decided I needed to learn how to bake bread. I have baked a TON of recipes from this book (see them all here) and I have learned so much. I have had many successes and just a few failures (always my fault, not theirs) and this book has inspired a new delicious, practical hobby.

The recipes cover a wide variety of breads (from sandwich breads to rustic loaves to desserts to pizzas and way, way beyond) and offer a good mix of difficulty levels. The instructions are clear and the techniques are explained very well – there are plenty of photos for those who are visual learners. I trust the whole America’s Test Kitchen world, and this book definitely lives up to the ATK standard.

David’s Tea Nordic Mug ($23)

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I drink a lot of tea – usually two cups a day, though sometimes more. My Nordic mug from David’s Tea gets a lot of use, and I’ve come to love it very, very much. (Note – mine is not the same colour/pattern as the one pictured, but they all work the same way).

The mug itself is nice and roomy, and it comes with its own little infusing cup. The lid is perfect for keeping the tea hot while it steeps, and then it makes a nice little holder for the infuser thing. Everyone needs a good, solid mug (or two) – this one is, in my opinion, as good as it gets.

Sidney Smokehouse Island Jerky (2 for $15)

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Oprah likes to include obscure specialty edible items on her list, and guess what – so do I. I am obsessed with Sidney Smokehouse’s Island Jerky. I discovered them at the Squamish Farmer’s Market and regularly picked up a couple of packs when their booth is set up. A hunk of jerky makes the perfect mid-morning stack.

In early fall, I panicked when I noticed they hadn’t been at the market a few weeks in a row. I actually emailed them to find out when they would be back. It just so happened that they were scheduled to return the following weekend, but they also told me that I could email them an order and they’d send it to me. GOOD TO KNOW.

Here’s the thing: I’ve eaten a lot of beef jerky, and NOTHING comes remotely close to this one. Not the usual store bought ones. Not the other specialty ones that you buy at fancy natural food stores. Not even the hot-n-spicy ones at the deli in Nesters (though those are pretty good, too). This is The Best Jerky on Earth. And it’s made right on Vancouver Island.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment ($29)

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Not quite lip balm, not quite lipstick, the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment tubes are the ultimate hybrid product. The colour is subtle but definitely present – it’s a good pick for those who are a little shy about going all-out with lip tints (like I happen to be). It’s super hydrating and the application is pretty foolproof, plus all the colours have a nice scent that I can only describe as lemon cookie.

I’ve tried a few colours, and my favourite has to be Rose (a pretty blush), followed by Nude (which is, duh, nude) and Tulip (like pink popsicle). If you’d like to give them a go, I recommend getting a pack of minis so that you can try a bunch:

  • This one has 3 (Rose, Petal, and Tulip – I haven’t tried Petal but it looks gorgeous, and this kit is good if you love pinks) for $30
  • This one has 4 (Nude, Rose, Fig, Poppy, and a nourishing minty lip balm) for $53
  • This one has 6 (Original [untinted], Tulip, Rose, Poppy, Honey, and Berry) for $54 <– best deal
  • This one has 7 (Rose, Petal, Tulip, Poppy, Ruby, Berry, Fig) for $70

The Gap Modern Cami ($18 – $20)

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I don’t buy very many clothes, but I bought FOUR – yes, four – of these camisoles this year. They’re perfect for wearing over leggings under another shirt and I’ve even worn them as pajama tops a couple of times – they’re that comfy. I own this tank top in white, black, navy, and grey. The grey one is my favourite – it feels a little softer and thicker than the others. The Gap always has 30% to 50% of sales, so if you can time your purchase right, you can this at a great price. This is a great wardrobe staple.

Vanity Fair ($38/1 Year Subscription)

cover_vanityfair_190My mom treated me to a Vanity Fair subscription this year, and it is really the gift that keeps on giving. I read my Vanity Fairs cover to cover. I love the variety of articles – good new Hollywood interviews, old school Hollywood stories, political pieces, tech and innovation coverage, witty reviews. It’s the perfect magazine to read on a long, boring plane ride. My only beef with VF is that the editor is OBSESSED with his hatred of Donald Trump. I’m certainly no fan of Trump (at all, at all, at all), but it’s a bit much to read two to three LONG Trump-related articles per issue. Still, I love my Vanity Fair.

LaCroix (Lemon) – $6.99 or something for a pack

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Basic, basic, basic – I don’t care how unoriginal it is, I just love LaCroix sparkling water. Sadly, in my great home and native land, I only have access to four flavours at London Drugs: lemon, lime, grapefruit, and peach-pear. Lemon is by far my favourite, but occasionally I switch it up to keep things exciting. I generally guzzle one of these a day. If you aren’t already a LaCroix fanatic, I recommend giving it a try. Here’s willing they bring the more exciting flavours to Canada in 2018.

St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse ($54) and Tan Applicator Mitt ($9)

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Believe you me – I never thought I’d have a fake tanner on this list. I dabbled in the world of sunless tanners back in my early university years, but the result was usually quite orange and streaky. At one sorority formal, the mad dash through the rain from limo to hotel ballroom caused me to get reverse freckles of sorts, where the raindrops melted away my tan. Not a good look.

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My “natural” glow circa 2005

But recently, I had a change of heart. I’d heard so much about the St. Tropez self tanner over the years and in an attempt to beat the winter blahs, I ordered a bottle along with the applicator mitt. By the way, I’m sure you could find or create an applicator mitt for like, $0.25 – the St. Tropez one works well, but seems like it could be replicated pretty inexpensively.

It took a couple of tries, but I think I’ve finally nailed a sunless tanner. Now that I’ve figured out some of the tricks, I’m able to mousse on a fake tan about once per week. No one can see it since I’m basically covered head to toe at all times, but I feel like a million bucks. Here are my tips:

  • The two basic rules of fake tanner hold true: exfoliate first and apply lotion to ankles/knees/elbows
  • The tanner goes on kind of green so you can see where you’ve missed a spot or where you haven’t put enough on. Pay attention – if you see a lighter green zone, fill it in or else you will get patches.
  • Put it on in the morning after a shower and let it air out for a good 15 to 20 minutes. Then, put on some old leggings and a shirt. It doesn’t smell awful, but it does smell like fake tan a little bit. Go about your day and try not to get sweaty. Before bed, take a quick shower – it rinses off the outer layer of stuff (you can see the water turn dirty) and keeps your sheets clean.

It still kind of weirds me out that I dye my skin – but if you’re into it, the St. Tropez one lives up to the hype.

Boody Eco Wear Shaper Bra ($16.95)

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And now, my final favourite.

I discovered Boody Eco Wear bamboo sports bras last year when I was training for my first (and only, so far) marathon. I was looking for something completely seamless, and I found it in one incredibly priced product. I’ve since bought another one and will probably buy one in white when they have it in my size at Nester’s. YUP, you can buy this at regular old Nesters (it is $18 there, if I recall correctly).

I wear it as my comfy around the house bra and I still use it sometimes on long runs. Warning: you probably won’t like this if you have a larger chest because there is not much support.


That’s it – a list of wonderful, fairly unnecessary products that have made my 2017 a little brighter, beefier, and tanner.


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Bobbette & Belle’s Soft & Chewy Ginger Cookies

I’ve got to say – compared to baking bread, making a simple cookie is soooo wonderfully easy. I have a newfound appreciation for straightforward recipes.

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I recently made Bobbette & Belle’s Soft & Chewy Ginger Cookies on a whim. I wanted a sweet treat and I happened to have all of the requisite ingredients on hand, so I gave it a whirl.

The result was a delicious, classic ginger cookie – but be warned: this is the one Bobbette & Belle recipe that you don’t want to leave in the oven longer than recommended. Read on, folks.

Let’s start with the ingredients: as I mentioned, I already had them in my pantry and chances are good you’ve got most of them, too. Flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, unsalted butter, brown sugar, a single egg, fancy molasses, and some granulated sugar to give it a sparkly finish – and that’s all it takes.

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Totally smells like gingerbread house batter

It’s a typical quick and easy cookie recipe: mix the dry, cream the butter and the sugar,  add the wet stuff (egg, molasses), then add the dry. There is one additional crucial step that you don’t find in every cookie recipe, and that is to pop the dough in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. If you skip this, the dough is a bit finicky to handle.

(As you can imagine, this hour waiting time didn’t particularly mesh well with my desire to eat something sweet instantly. Patience is a virtue.)

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I used a small ice cream scoop to fill two cookie sheets. Each scoop then got rolled into a ball and then each ball got rolled into a dish of sugar. I’m a firm believer that just about everything is better coated in sugar.

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Alright, the only hiccup I encountered occurred relates to the bake time. The recipe instructs 15 to 18 minutes, but EVERY Bobbette & Belle recipe I’ve made thus far takes way longer (like, 20 – 30 minutes more in some cases) to bake than instructed.

I made two cookie sheets worth of cookies and I took one out at 20 minutes and the other out at 25. Both looked softish when I took them out, and because the dough is a golden brown, it was hard to determine done-ness based on colour. The 20 minute batch straddled the line between chewy and not, while the 25 minute batch was decidedly crunchy. Delicious? Yes – but the recipe is called “soft and chewy ginger cookies” and I think they would have been tastier if I’d cooked them as per the instructions.

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Look at that gorgeous crackle!

Oh well – that didn’t stop me from enjoying them.

I kept these in a closed tupperware and found that after about three days, they’d gone a bit stale. Solution: each them faster and/or share them with friends next time.

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Bonus: here’s another ginger cookie recipe that I have made a few times. It calls for REAL ginger, not ground. The cookies are super soft and pliable – I highly recommend this recipe.


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.