Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Specialties near by.

If you crave any of your favourite meals or snacks from abroad, you may want to make the trip to McLean's Specialty Foods on Fitzwilliam Street, downtown Nanaimo. They offer a mouth watering selection of fresh and imported delicacies as well as over 100 cheeses from all corners of the world. It's great to have a taste of your homeland for the holidays, or gather some items and make a basket for that special someone. If you go during the week, you should take the time and have your lunch there, their sandwiches are amazing and just melt in your mouth. The store is in Nanaimo's Old City Quarter and is just a short walk from the Gabriola-Nanaimo ferry terminal.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

Growing up on Gabriola, we always thought that my Mom was the best baker… Of course when you come home to the smell of fresh cookies just waiting to greet you, I think she had us won over. One of our all time favourite recipes, that’s a super easy Christmas recipe, is gingerbread. During this festive season, I wanted to share with you one of our all time favorites… and when they come out of the oven fresh give us a call – we’ll be right over!

Easy Gingerbread Recipe…

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Butterscotch Instant Pudding
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


BEAT butter, sugar, dry pudding mix and egg in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Mix remaining ingredients. Gradually add to pudding mixture, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

HEAT oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into gingerbread shapes with 4-inch cookie cutter. Place, 2 inches apart, on greased baking sheets. Use straw to make hole near top of each cutout.

BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand on baking sheets 3 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate as desired. Insert ribbon through holes to hang cookies on tree.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Teaching Kids the art of giving…

There are so many great life lessons that can be shared with kids over the holiday season, to help them understand the value of giving.

Kids of all ages can sort through their toys and select a few to donate – GIRO is a great place to bring items where they are quickly re-cycled into someone else’s treasure.

Volunteering is a great way for kids to see first-hand how their good deeds can affect others. On the island there are many amazing organizations that are always looking for a helpful hand, and then there is always those special random acts of kindness we can all bestow on our neighbors whether it be helping to stack firewood, running errands, or bringing a plate of freshly baked cookies over.

It’s a great time to clean out the pantry and have the kids help to box up those goods we’ve collected throughout the year and bring them to the Emergency Food Depot, who is very grateful for these donations.

There’s also an allowance, where kids can raise money to give, and it’s always a nice treat to have some extra hands to help with the day to day household chores. Letting them pick the organization they wish to donate makes them very proud of this special gift they choose to give…

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gabriola Elementary School Christmas Craft Fair

Tina & I will be heading to display our new creations, with our good friend Jane, at the Gabriola Christmas Craft Fair at the Elementary School this Saturday, December 4th from 10 am – 3 pm. We welcome you to come by for a little visit and see what we’ve been up to in the evenings.

There’s a little something for everyone, from glam jewellery, a flock of whimsical “party” birds, to the new series of paintings by Tina, auntie Jane's handsewn owls, and tutus for all of islands princesses– there are some great gift giving ideas, for you & yours.

In addition there are over 38 artists who will have a wide variety of offerings everything from honey, pottery, metal works, and so much more.

Also, please stop by the silent auction table in the front, when we’re not at our table we’ll be looking after the Silent Auction. To date we have nearly 100 treasures that will be on display, from gorgeous jewellery, to firewood, gift certificates, excavation services and so much more…

There’s also the cookie walk, which sells out quickly but has a wide array of baked goods to choose from.

It’s a great way to shop local while supporting our local Elementary School.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Ideas from the comforts of the Island…

Living on Gabriola, known as the Island of the Arts there is never any shortage of great local gift giving ideas... With the holiday season approaching so quickly, here are just a few of our favorites...

New Society Publishers, is now a 20 year old company who’s mission is to publish books that contribute in fundamental ways to building an ecologically sustainable and just society. They employ approx. 12 island residents, including the two owners. They offer a wide variety of books & some fabulous green building books & cookbooks – that we have in our personal collection. This is an easy shop with their online catalog there is an extensive list of their offerings – making gift giving easy!


Is there anything better than waking up to a coffee on Christmas morning, well only if it’s Gabriola Island’s Red Rooster coffee. Their beans are organic, fairly traded and ethically sourced. The coffee is roasted here on Gabriola in small batches & delivered locally to your door. As a micro roaster they are able to custom craft blends for you!

Childrens Books Illustrated by Gabriola’s own Diana Bonder

Watch your childs face light up as they turn the pages and walk through the land of fairy tales & whimsy in one of the amazing books illustrated by Diana an award winning bestselling Children's Book – this gift is sure to give hours of enjoyment to both parents & children alike.

Pilot Bay Guest House B&B

How about putting a gift certificate for a nights accommodation for your favourite visitors in a stunning waterfront bed & breakfast? Pilot Bay B & B offers a new, luxury, first class accommodations in a informal seaside setting. Don’t be surprised if they choose to extend their stay…

Island of Peace Yoga

How about a gift that helps to reduce stress… At Island of Peace Yoga they cater their classes to all levels and offer workshops. They strive to bring the best that yoga has to offer from the east and the west. We have heard from many clients that a trip to Gabriola is not complete without a session from Island of Peace Yoga.

Feedlot Studios

For those with a creative flair. New to Gabriola, (and very fortunate that they landed on Gabriola), Mariko is an exceptionally talented ceramic artist along with a brilliant teacher. In her creative studio, she is offering a variety of workshops and courses for both adults and children. Having had the opportunity to take a course this fall – I can attest that anyone receiving a workshop this Christmas morning is in for an amazing treat!
For those who are creatively challenged, Mariko is brilliant at getting you past your own clay inhibitions, but the studio also features a wide array of her work available for sale… I have to put a plug in for her very unique & whimsical mugs.

Gabriola Elementary School Craft Fair December 4 @ Gabriola Elementary
This is an exciting opportunity featuring a variety of island artists so you can do your shopping all in one place! In addition to the craft fair the famous cookie walk is a great way to support school activities, while avoiding the Christmas baking – but be early the cookies disappear quickly & the doors open at 10:00 am. There is also the very popular silent auction table with all sorts of some of the best the island has to offer, and because the money is going to such a worthy cause, you can feel good about your Christmas shopping!

If you have a GREAT local shopping idea to share, please send us an email to: – we’d love to hear about it.

Happy Holiday Shopping!