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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021

OKANAGAN LIFE AT ITS FINEST

Unwind IMMUNE-BOOSTING BOUNTY

Add healthy vegetables to your winter plates

ROAD THERAPY

Taking the high road to mental health

THE ARTIST & THE MUSE

The bold nature of neutrals


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CONTENTS 42

On the Cover Photo by Darren Hull

Crystal Hills Organics CEO and founder Andrea Barone at her home in the Okanagan.

SECRETS AND LIVES

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62 FEATURES

DEPARTMENTS

32 ONE IN A MILLION

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CONTRIBUTORS

Daydreams, hope and giving merge in Kelowna lottery house

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EDITOR’S LETTER

By Valaura Jones

Road trip down memory lane

42 THE ARTIST & THE MUSE

By Susan Lundy

The bold nature of neutrals layered in multiple textures

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LIFE. STYLE. ETC.

By Jen Evans

Charlotte Erdely

By Lia Crowe

56 ROAD THERAPY

14

DESIGN NOTES

Taking the high road to mental health

A colour to soothe

By Susan Lundy

By Hannah Berger

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12

70

16 WELL & GOOD

28 IN STUDIO

70 SECRETS AND LIVES

Putting a lid on the sugar jar

Andrea Barone

By Kaisha Scofield

Singing his story: Isaiah Bell

By Sean McIntyre

By Angela Cowan

20 GOOD TASTE

Food for fit: BLK BOX

By David Wylie

24 WEEKENDER

48 BUSINESS CLASS

Diva magic at Dorothy’s: Rudy Tomazic

By Toby Tannas

Whistler: the other side of the mountain

62 FOOD AND FEAST

By Susan Lundy

Immune-boosting bounty

By Ellie Shortt

72 NARRATIVE

Angels in the middle of nowhere

By Barbara Barry

74

BEHIND THE STORY

By Bruce Cameron

52 SPECIAL FEATURE

Okanagan Housing Awards of Excellence

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contributors “I had the opportunity to shoot a couple of features for this issue of Boulevard, and it was great to contribute. I have really missed working with

DARREN HULL PHOTOGRAPHER DIVA MAGIC AT DOROTHY’S

PAGE 48

the team through the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with Rudy Tomazic was a standout moment for me. I appreciated the effort he put into our time together, and anytime I can work with a cool guy, a cool car and a cool location, well, that is what I consider a good day. It’s always a pleasure for me to meet and work with people in our community doing amazing things.” Darren Hull is an editorial and commercial photographer who has earned a reputation as one of Canada’s top image-makers with work informed by a strong sense of storyline.  

WRITER ONE IN A MILLION

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was genuinely surprised when I didn’t. A decade later, I bought a ticket for the Millionaire Lottery and then I started writing a different kind of bucket list: my ‘lottery list’ is for the things I will do if I win. To the surprise of nobody, I didn’t win. But that ticket and list sparked a series of significant changes in my life as I stopped waiting for my ship to come in. It’s not about winning; it’s about hope. It’s the price of admission to a different kind of daydream and perspective. And why not? It’s for a good cause, after all.” Valaura is a writer, marketer and community enthusiast with a passion for great design and unusual spaces.

“Isaiah Bell’s yearning to constantly create, even through the most dismal of years, reveals his thriving passion for the arts and a versatility that

SEAN MCINTYRE WRITER SINGING HIS STORY

J ANU ARY / F E B RU ARY 2 021

BLACK PRESS MEDIA Penny Sakamoto GROUP PUBLISHER

BOULEVARD Mario Gedicke GROUP PUBLISHER 250.891.5627

info@blvdmag.ca

MANAGING EDITOR Susan Lundy

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lia Crowe

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Lily Chan

DESIGN Michelle Gjerde Tammy Robinson Kelsey Boorman

“I was about 20 years old and living in rural Alberta the first time I bought a ticket for a dream-home lottery. I convinced myself that I’d win and

VALAURA JONES

OKANAGAN LIFE AT ITS FINEST

has helped him adapt seamlessly to his circumstances. His story offers a refreshing dose of candid self-reflection that can remind us about optimism’s power to triumph over adversity so that the show, in one form or another, may always go on.” Sean McIntyre is a freelance writer based on Salt Spring Island. He enjoys writing about the people, places, sounds and flavours of British Columbia for Boulevard.

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ADVERTISING Mario Gedicke Vicki Clark

CONTRIBUTING Barbara Barry WRITERS Hannah Berger Angela Cowan Lia Crowe Jen Evans Valaura Jones Susan Lundy Sean McIntyre Kaisha Scofield Ellie Shortt Toby Tannas David Wylie CONTRIBUTING Lia Crowe, Darren Hull PHOTOGRAPHERS ILLUSTRATION Sierra Lundy CIRCULATION & Brian Gold DISTRIBUTION 250.763.7575

TRENDING ONLINE:

View Boulevard’s Fashion Friday

www.vicnews.com/life Any device. Any time.

Victoria Boulevard® is a registered trademark of Black Press Group Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Ideas and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Black Press Group Ltd. or its affiliates; no official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents, both implied or assumed, of any advertisement in this publication. Printed in Canada. Canada Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement #42109519.

Tel: 250.381.3484 Fax: 250.386.2624 info@blvdmag.ca boulevardmagazines.com

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PHOTO BY LIA CROWE

road trip down memory lane

Last fall, my husband and I took a five-day road trip around the West Kootenays. It was a dazzling escape: the weather was perfect, the scenery stunning, and the time away an excellent antidote to the craziness of 2020. You can read about it in this issue of Boulevard. Usually on our road excursions we take our decade-old Toyota FJ Cruiser—a solid, safe-feeling ride that nevertheless lacks creature comforts. On this trip, we test-drove a fully loaded Volvo XC90 T8, enjoying all the gadgets, options and pass-anyone-anytime power. I owned a Volvo wagon back in the late ‘80s, and this recent trip reminded me that, for years, that Volvo was my favourite of a long line of vehicles in my possession. So it was with great interest—just after our road trip—that I stumbled upon a newspaper column I’d written in 1989 about purchasing my Volvo wagon. Apparently, at the time, I was less impressed by it than my companion, who was then my fiancé, and is now my ex-husband. For one thing, I had my eye on a red 1969 MG that seemed more suited to my teen-hood namesake of “Little Hell on Wheels.” I pictured myself racing around corners in it, sliding over hills and dips in the countryside and tearing down the highway with the tunes blaring and muffler blasting. And my big dog? Well, I guess, he’d stay at home. And the inevitable arrival of offspring? Their friends? The groceries? Reluctantly, I let the dream dissipate. At the next dealership, my ex spied the Volvo wagon. “This car sells itself,” said the salesman (which was probably true since my ex was a big Volvo fan). He popped the hood: “You could eat breakfast off this engine.” My ex was so excited, I suddenly wondered if men actually dreamed of staring at a fuel injection system while they forked down bacon and eggs. Interesting. A test-drive was next. And this I’d forgotten: I couldn’t even testdrive the wagon because at that point, I hadn’t yet had the extremely delightful experience of being taught by my ex to drive a standard vehicle—lessons that soon afterwards occurred on a one-ton pick-up with a four-on-the-floor stick shift. (You can picture how much fun that was!) After the test-drive, during which I pushed a few buttons on the dash and made sure the radio worked, my ex’s face was awash in enthusiasm. “So!?” “Nice colour,” I admitted. “Leather seats, air-conditioning, rear windshield wiper.” (Big deals back then.) I realized, with the wisdom of my mid-20s self, that a capital-F Family car was probably the inevitable choice. (And think of the breakfasts!) So I bought it and once I discovered that driving a stick shift turns any vehicle into a sports car, I fell madly in love with it. I loved the leather interior; I loved its spaciousness. But there was one issue. We always named our cars. That one-ton truck was called The Silver Bullet; our Land Rover was named The Heap, and my current husband and I call our FJ The Beast. But back in the day, my ex gave the Volvo a joke name and it stuck. We tried and tried to call it something else, but that car became: The Vulva. Thankfully on our Kootenays road trip, we found a better name for our shiny blue Volvo: we called it Blue Georgia in honour of the newly-turned-Democratic state in the US election, the results of which were playing out on SiriusXM as we drove the Kootenays. There is much more than road travel in this issue of Boulevard, and we invite you to take a spin through the following pages. Enjoy!

Susan Lundy Editor Susan Lundy is a former journalist who now works as a magazine editor, author and freelance writer. Watch for her new book, Home on the Strange, out April 13, 2021 via Heritage House Publishing.

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life.style.etc. CHARLOTTE ERDELY, CO-OWNER OF DESTINATION CUSTOM HOMES WORDS LIA CROWE + PHOTOGRAPHY DARREN HULL

Charlotte and her husband Travis are long established in Kelowna’s business community. Charlotte has 25 years of experience in real estate and the two mark the second generation running their custom-homebuilding business. I chatted with Charlotte about life and style, and asked what she loves most about her work. “The plans!” she said. “This is when it is all becoming real and clients are starting to get more excited as they see the home take form. We love this stage also as it gives us an opportunity to add valuable input to the client for function and the ever-important budget ramifications.” Asked what quality Charlotte possesses that has led to her success, she said, “I have a forgive-and-forget mentality; life is too short and precious for baggage. And empathy, I try to always remind myself that we don’t know anyone else’s moment or story—assume the good.” And the best life lesson she has recently learned? “My husband and I are an undeniable team. With him by my side we can accomplish whatever we work hard for.” Outside of work they are passionate about family, travel and food. “We are big foodies. I love to cook, dine out and order in. I am constantly craving mouthwatering things, from homemade comfort food to spicy Thai and seafood cioppino—and then all of it paired with wine.” However, Charlotte added, their work is their everything: “We are passionate about it, we are good at it and we love it! Delivering people’s dream homes is an emotional journey, and we love the happy endings that we are a part of.”

Destination Custom Homes owners Charlotte and Travis Erdely

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FASHION & BEAUTY All-time favourite piece: Cashmere cardigan. Currently coveting: FRAME jeans. Favourite pair of shoes: UGGs and flip-flops. Favourite work tool: Calculator. Favourite jewellery piece or designer: My wedding ring (Neil Lane). Fashion obsession: Sweaters. Accessory you spend the most money on: Shoes. Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: OLAPLEX products. Moisturizer: Clinique Smart. Scent: Chanel Chance. Must-have hair product: OLAPLEX 3-4-5. Beauty secret: Hair colour. One thing that has been torture to live without during the COVID-19 pandemic: Travel.

STYLE INSPIRATIONS & LIFE Favourite cocktail or wine: Really digging oaky Chardonnay right now. Favourite flower: Alstroemeria (lily of the Incas). Favourite city to visit: Vancouver. It’s nice and close to home and oh so beautiful. And then there’s the food. Favourite app: Netflix. Favourite place in the whole world: A white sand beach. One thing that consistently lifts your spirits during these hard times: Great food and wine.

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design notes

A colour to soothe BY HANNAH BERGER, DIAD PRINCIPAL INTERIOR DESIGNER, OWNER / HANNAH KATEY INTERIOR DESIGN

I

ntroducing Benjamin Moore’s beautiful new colour of the year — Aegean Teal 2136-40! This elegant, calming colour is meant to bring a breath of fresh air to the year ahead with its soothing green-blue tones. We suggest pairing this colour with chrome and Statuario marble details for a formal, sophisticated look, or with accents of jute and sea glass for a beachy vibe. Whether you’re looking for a fresh new colour for a front-door statement, or for powder-room cabinets with personality and depth, this colour will be a great choice for a variety of applications.

Mimi Lamp Robinson Lighting $556

Pebble Stone Tile Nufloors call for price

Picket Tile Nufloors call for price

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Braithwell Chandelier Robinson Lighting $6,232

This elegant, calming colour is meant to bring a breath of fresh air to the year ahead. Icon Mix Julian Tile $38.95 / sq. ft.

Aegean Teal 2136-40 Benjamin Moore call for price

15


well and good

Putting a lid on the sugar jar — and why it’s necessary WORDS KAISHA SCOFIELD

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As with many things that fall into the category of too good to be true, sugar, when consumed in such large quantities, is very harmful to the body.

T

he holidays in December can be filled with magic and love, warmth and generosity, but they can also be a time of overwhelm. Panicked to get the perfect gift, hustling to plan (socially distant) activities, cooking the perfect meal, holidays are stressful! It also happens to be the time of year when every surface is covered with our favourite stress buster, sugar. Candy canes at the bank, boxes of chocolate in the office, pumpkin pie and ice cream at dinner, indulgence is around every corner. We are on sugar overload from October to December and when January hits, we are full of regrets. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. We are a society oversaturated with sugar. It is added to so much of our food that we often aren’t even aware we’re eating it. But we are eating it and in huge quantities. We receive, on average, one quarter of our daily calories from sugar. It is estimated that Canadians consume 26 teaspoons of sugar per day, adding to 88 pounds annually! For perspective, the highly addictive magical beverage coffee was only consumed at a rate of 15 pounds per person (measured in bean form) last year. Even cheese consumption is averaged at only 39 pounds annually. Bread, arguably the most popular food item in the world, is only at 71 pounds consumed, on average, each year. I think you get the idea: sugar is king. But sugar is so delicious! Why can’t we keep eating it? Well, as with many things that fall into the category of too good to

be true, sugar, when consumed in such large quantities, is very harmful to the body. When we eat sugar and refined carbohydrates, they are immediately turned into glucose in the body, which is then used as an energy source. However, if there is leftover glucose that the body can’t use right away, it is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When these and other body cells are saturated with glycogen, the excess is converted to fat and is stored as adipose tissue. Simply put, excess sugar equals excess fat. Excess sugar is also responsible for the development of advanced glycation end products or AGEs. AGEs are created when proteins and/or fats become glycated as a result of exposure to sugars. AGEs cause damage through a process called cross-linking that leads to cellular damage and apoptosis (cell death). AGEs are a bio-marker implicated in aging and the development, or worsening, of many degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, chronic kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Scary stuff! How do we resist something so delicious and dangerous? If you’re having sugar cravings, you might want to have a talk with your hormones and look at your stress levels. One of the easiest ways to negatively disrupt your hunger signals, trigger cravings and eat junk food is through stress. Stress is directly linked to hormone balance, which is directly

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linked to hunger cravings, specifically cravings of hyperflavourful foods and instant calories (think Doritos with a side of Slurpee). Stress causes the body to release cortisol which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). Our brain is essentially channelling the evolutionary part of our body system that would react to, for example, running away from an elephant. The body perceives this as a need for instant fuel to deal with the high-level stressor, the elephant, or in today’s world, an angry email from your boss. In huntergatherer times, the body would dip into stored glucose. In our times, we can reach for a Snickers bar to get a hit of 250 calories and 27 grams of sugar, enough energy to run for 30 minutes. That elephant is long gone but your boss’s email is still in your inbox. Instead of running, however, we are more likely to return to our desk and continue on with the day. Once the glucose has been used for fuel, it is stored in the body and glucose levels return to normal. By now, however, our cortisol stores are tapped out, which causes fatigue. As the day continues and we are faced with varying degrees of stress, the cycle repeats itself. Over time this cycle creates a number of deficiencies. Cortisol can take days to regenerate and since it is interacting with the nervous system it is also working in conjunction with other essential hormones in the body. When cortisol is depleted, other hormone systems are affected, ultimately throwing the whole delicate system out of balance. Nutrient balance is another finely balanced system that is affected by the stress and sugar cycle. Sugar processing requires

a large number of vital nutrients. In order to metabolize sugar, the body requires high levels of magnesium (tissue support), thiamine (nervous system), riboflavin (oxygenation) and niacin (digestive support). When these are used to convert sugars in the body, they are diverted from other important areas. Add to this the reality that most sugar-laden foods are highly processed and devoid of nutrients, and it is no surprise that the body is quickly faced with nutrient deficiencies and overall depletion. The most immediate symptom of a depleted and overburdened system is fatigue and mental fog, which often leads to—you guessed it—an inability to properly process stress. The cycle is now on repeat. It is important to note that eating sugar during times of stress is not about willpower and instead has everything to do with mental health and wellness support. We have a tendency to put a value judgement on food abstinence: we are good if we only eat health foods or bad if we eat food that is deemed unhealthy. This thought process once again feeds into the negative cycle by increasing stress and anxiety. Limiting sugar in the diet is important, not because eating it is fundamentally bad, but because it compromises physical and mental health. Making the decision to simply stop eating “bad” foods is not sustainable. Instead, try recognizing and preparing for times of overwhelm and stress by making more nourishing options available. In this way, those candy canes and boxes of chocolates can be approached in times of celebration instead of desperation.

Dwell Well.

Nicole Verbeke, Owner + Principal Designer

778.212.2553 @copperandoakdesign www.copperandoak.design

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Keeping it Simple®

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Planning and Advice


good taste

Lonni van Diest and Greg Sebell owners of Blk Box

Food for fit On-the-go meals for health and fitness

WORDS DAVID WYLIE

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X

PHOTOS BY DARREN HULL


quick facts: X Specializing in fitness-focused, high-protein, lowcarb gourmet meals, BLK BOX opened in November in Kelowna’s Landmark District. X Surrounded by office towers, it’s perfectly located for

people to pop in and pick up a quick dish—or stock up on a week’s worth of prepped meals.

X There is a limited amount of seating for those who want to eat inside. X BLK BOX was founded by Greg Sebell and Lonni van Diest. They met while working for Third Space Cafe. Greg brings marketing and creative direction skills to the table, while Lonni brings years of experience as a restaurant consultant and regional and general manager. X Greg previously worked full-time in the music industry for nearly two decades as a two-time Juno awardwinning singer-songwriter.

mention the time it takes to shop, prep, cook and clean up. You can only get so creative and we got tired of eating the same meals like rice, broccoli and chicken. We thought, “What if we could create healthy fast food and also have a meal-prep element with meals we were excited about eating?” 

What is the philosophy behind your food? We try to hack

our favourite meals that we would want to eat if we weren’t trying to watch our macros and calories. We tried to come up with meals that we just wanted to eat no matter what, then we brought down the calories as low as possible and raised the protein as high as possible. We want to make healthy food and fitness fun and accessible—not intimidating or overwhelming. 

How do you develop your menu? Lonni and I worked closely

with Andrea McClintock (Bouchons, Salt & Brick) to develop the menu. We also worked with Michael Buffett at Start Fresh on developing a few dessert items. We work with local chefs and local personal trainers. Our menu is primarily high protein, low carb and low fat. We focused on that model because good protein is the most difficult to find—especially when you are on the go. We also have a few keto dishes and we have a good number of plant-based dishes as well. 

Where do your ingredients come from? We try to source

WE ASKED GREG SEBELL: What’s your vision for BLK BOX? Lonni van Diest and I

talked about bringing a healthy concept to the Landmark District. We both work out a lot and we both had experienced the pains of doing meal prep every weekend. It’s typically a lot of work, not to

locally as much as possible and are always looking for new local vendors we can partner with. Our eggs are locally sourced from a farm down the road. We work with our Landmark District neighbours Start Fresh and their farm, Wise Earth Farms. We also use Stoke Juice out of Kimberley and all of our frozen berries and juices for smoothies. All of our baking is also done in-house, made from scratch.

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We tried to come up with meals that we just wanted to eat no matter what, then we brought down the calories as low as possible and raised the protein as high as possible. We want to make healthy food and fitness fun and accessible.

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What sets BLK BOX apart? I think what sets us apart is, firstly,

that we create meals to fit your lifestyle. The meals are pre-made and pre-cooked, so you can take them to go and warm them up or pre-order them for the week. We can also warm it up if you’re just looking for a quick bite on your lunch break. We are also unique in that we specifically focus on food for health and fitness. For so long food and fitness seemed to be at odds. The food doesn’t have to taste good, it just has to get results. That could mean dry egg whites or ground turkey with hot sauce on it. We wanted to put some love into fitness food and make it something people can really look forward to every day. You can have your cake and eat it too; in our case, it’s going to be lower in calories and zero sugar. 

How does the restaurant’s cuisine fit with the branding?

We wanted to make it accessible and not intimidating to your average person. Whether you’re on year 15 of your fitness journey or on day three, and you’re still not sure what to eat, we wanted this brand to be inviting and a little bit familiar. The space is simple, uncluttered and minimal—just like the menu. Macros and calories on each dish are clearly laid out and there is no confusing diet plan. Just simple, good ingredients. The minimal branding also informs how we plate the dishes. Obviously, we start with a black meal prep container (hence the name BLK BOX) and then try to plate a beautiful meal from there. 

What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?

Swerve—it’s a natural sugar substitute with zero calories, zero net carbs and it’s non-glycemic, which means it does not raise your blood sugar. We created a zero-sugar NY cheesecake with Chef Michael from Start Fresh using Swerve. We also use it in our Twix bars which people can’t get enough of. It’s not an inexpensive ingredient by any means, but it’s a huge win for those of us with a sweet tooth. 

What is your go-to meal when you’re low on time?

Spaghetti squash and meatballs. That’s something I made at home all the time. The nice thing about using something like spaghetti squash instead of real pasta—even though I love pasta—is you feel lighter after, you don’t feel the weight of that.

What is the best recent food trend? People are looking for

higher-quality food. They’re looking for locally farmed ingredients. When the ingredients are high-quality and fresh, even the simplest of dishes are going to be delicious because the components are delicious to begin with. When it comes to the food you put into your body, you’re going to reap what you sow. Simple, whole ingredients, locally sourced where possible—those are really great food trends in my opinion. 

What is a simple piece of advice for pairing food and fitness? Plan ahead—when you don’t have a plan and you don’t think ahead you’re going to end up at the McDonald’s drive-thru.

What’s the significance of your location in the Landmark District? Initially, Ken Stober of the Stober Group (and

founder of Third Space Cafe) had asked Lonni about the potential of putting a healthy option in this retail space that had recently become available. It was important for the Stober Group and it was something that Lonni was passionate about too. While Lonni was exploring ideas in the early stages, he and I had coffee and from there we realized we could build something really special and unique together. We had both worked in the Landmark District for a while, and like many of the others in these office towers, we had limited time and limited options when it came to convenient, healthy food. Factor in that most of the gyms in the city are within a five-minute radius of us—it was a perfect location.   

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weekender

The other side of the mountain Whistler is more than a snow lover’s playground WORDS SUSAN LUNDY

Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

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i

t’s a wintery Monday morning and each of my five senses zings with life as I move between warm, cold and relax cycles at the outdoor Scandinave Spa in Whistler. Sitting in the hot pool, I feel a brush of breeze on my face and hear a whisper of wind in the spruce trees above me. Moving indoors, and now relaxing on a cushiony recliner, I take in the beauty of lush foliage seen through floor-to-ceiling windows. And the moment after I run through an icy cold waterfall, my skin tingles with an electric-like buzz. There’s the heat of a firepit, the cosy embrace of a blanket, the sound of a running stream, the scent of essential oils and the sensation of steam and sweat lingering on my skin. Most important—the experience of every sense is heightened due to the mandatory silence. People move between the various stations without a word. And I understand completely: silence is golden. This is our last stop before my husband and I head home, and as I revel in the all-encompassing sensory experience, my mind wanders back over the past few days. I realize that beyond everything else, I’m surprised by the diversity of our Whistler adventure. The mountains themselves, Whistler and Blackcomb, have loomed large in my other trips here: I’ve ridden the slightly terrifying Peak 2 Peak Gondola, zoomed up Blackcomb in exhilarating jeep ride; I’ve zip-lined and I’ve explored off-road on an ATV. But on this weekend getaway, we hiked, played, feasted, learned about local First Nations culture…we’ve had a wealth of experience that hasn’t involved the mountain playground.

PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE

Whistler Village.

Arriving mid-day Saturday, our Whistler adventure begins with a stop at Function Junction, an industrial neighbourhood 10 minutes south of Whistler’s main villages. With a totally different vibe than Whistler main, Function Junction emerges like the beer-drinking sister to the more coiffed, upscale villages. After tucking into a delicious vegan lunch at the highly recommended The Green Moustache, which has two locations in Whistler, we sample beer at Coast Mountain Brewing and Whistler Brewing, and then land at Montis Distilling, Whistler’s only craft spirit maker. A tasting reveals a flourish of local flavours and, although we purchase a bottle of Winter Spirit, the distillery’s answer to young whiskey, we could easily have chosen one of their tasty gins or super-smooth vodka. Checking into the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, we’re immediately welcomed by the warm staff and our luxuriousyet-cosy room. We take advantage of in-room service for dinner (the resort also offers midnight feasts, early-bird espressos and chilled Champagne at any hour), but the ultimate crown on the experience occurs the next morning, with the hotel’s signature, year-round Balcony Breakfast: a multi-tiered tower stacked with savoury and sweet breakfast treats—pastries, avocado toast, sausage, bacon, pancakes with warm maple syrup. This is a must-do: everything from the perfectly poached eggs and fluffy pancakes unfolds like a dreamy taste adventure, and it all occurs overlooking a misty-morning valley of snow-tipped trees. This resort is truly a destination in itself. Satiated, we head out to explore on foot this remarkably walkable community. Located near the Four Seasons is the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, offering a chance to explore local First Nations, view a spectacular exhibit by Lil’wat artist Ed Archie NoiseCat, step into a replica longhouse and wander along a forested educational trail. This is also where, from May to October, you’ll find a Sunday farmer’s market. From the upper village, we follow the connecter path to the

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lower village, grab coffees and wander around the pedestrian-friendly village. Eventually, we pick up a snowy forest trail that takes us back to the hotel. But there’s no time to rest! For our next adventure, we meet up with our daughter, also visiting Whistler, and embark on a new-to-us-all escape room experience. After choosing one of Escape! Whistler’s six escape room options, we arrive, get a quick briefing, and set to work solving a series of riddles and puzzles in order to escape a cottage buried in snow. This is a lot of fun! Next, dinner at Il Caminetto, with its extraordinary Italian cuisine and excellent service, marks the perfect segue to our nighttime Whistler experience—one which surpasses all of our expectations. After driving 10 minutes north of the village, we turn off the highway, drive up an obscure road…and re-emerge in another world. Vallea Lumina is a stunning, immersive multimedia show that is truly spectacular. We cap our evening with warm apple cider, sitting outside around a firepit. And so it is the next day that cocooned in the pools at Scandinave Spa, I come to an easy conclusion. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains— with their combined 8,171 acres of terrain and abundant annual snowfall—are indeed a wicked winter destination for snow enthusiasts. But there’s a lot more going on, and visitors should definitely check out the other side of the mountain.

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PHOTO BY LEILA KWOK VALLEA LUMINIA.

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Vallea Lumina is an absolute must-do on any visit to Whistler, but it’s best not to know too much ahead of time. This dazzling multimedia experience invites guests into an enchanted universe, inspired by Whistler’s natural beauty. Expect to have your breath taken away around each corner on this mesmerizing forest walk. Created by Montrealbased Moment Factory and brought to life by The Adventure Group in Whistler, Vallea Lumina offers two experiences— one in the winter months (bundle up!) and one in the summer. vallealumina.com/

Escape! Whistler presents a real-life gaming experience, where patrons are given puzzles, riddles and clues to solve within 45 minutes in order to “escape” their situation. We choose the Buried Cabin experience— one of Escape! Whistler’s six escape rooms—and, although we don’t quite solve it in time, we’re close, and have so much fun trying. Another must-do Whistler experience is Scandinave Spa. Moving through the hot, cold and relax cycles promises to soothe tired muscles, eliminate toxins and improve circulation. escapewhistler. com, scandinave.com/en/ whistler

IL CAMINETTO.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT WHISTLER.

eat. Located directly on Whistler’s Village Stroll, Il Caminetto is the spot in Whistler for an upscale Italian il pasto. Renowned Executive Chef James Walt offers an inspired menu that features mouthwatering Italian and local products. A 41-page wine list creates a major conundrum but, no matter, the sommelier swiftly leads us to a divine Amarone. Its silky smooth flavour provides the perfect complement to my husband’s rigatoni Bolognese, and my seared tuna and roasted cauliflower. The food, the ambiance, the service and the wine are the ingredients for a spectacular dining experience. ilcaminetto.ca

sleep. The Four Seasons Resort Whistler is one of North America’s top yearround mountain resorts. Following a sweeping renovation, it combines sleek, contemporary design with the warmth of a classic chalet. This winter, the resort is premiering two new culinary options: the all-new Braidwood Tavern and the reimagined SIDECUT restaurant. In addition to the must-do Balcony Breakfast offering, the resort has launched another feature through the Four Seasons app, where patrons can order ahead to have a homey, crockpot meal awaiting in-room. Resort recreation includes a fullservice spa, a fitness centre, an allseason outdoor pool with three heated whirlpools. Other winter specials and packages can be found online. fourseasons.com/whistler.

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in studio … WITH ISAIAH BELL

Singing his story

BC tenor brings solo show to Kelowna WORDS SEAN McINTYRE

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PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE


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“The concept is that issues can dissipate if you are open about lovingly confronting them...The show is about people thinking about their own experiences.”

saiah Bell is hard pressed to pick a single opera that can summarize the tumult of 2020. The year certainly featured plenty of tragedy with many unexpected twists and even a smattering of farce tossed into the mix. Instead of being epitomized by a single work, however, the year has been one of unprecedented operatic proportions, summarizes the Victoria-based opera singer. The year 2020 was genre-defining, he says, and no other form—be it ballet, theatre, even spoken word—could capture the year in quite the same way as opera. “All opera is a dumpster fire, and that’s why we love it,” Isaiah explained in a December interview from his home, which took place ahead of the launch of his solo show, The Book of My Shames, performed with Opera Kelowna and directed by Sean Guist. With news of prolonged restrictions to rein in the spread of COVID-19 swirling amid headlines about a rollout of vaccination campaigns, Isaiah’s day-to-day life in the performing arts was still far from being devoid of drama. The dumpster fire was still out of control. Regardless, plans to bring The Book of My Shames to Okanagan audiences must continue. Following a sold-out premiere with Tapestry Opera, as part of Toronto Pride 2019, Isaiah’s one-man, semi-autobiographical show returned home to British Columbia in 2020. As of December, performances with Opera Kelowna were scheduled for January 28 to 30, 2020. Isaiah describes the show as a fusion of music and monologues that delve into the universal inner human tension between our individual struggles and our roles in a broader society—the battle between who we are and who we are supposed to be. It’s a story about going through the world while apologiz-

ing for one’s existence. It may sound dark, but the story is one of catharsis and healing, with a good supply of humour along the way. Like him, Isaiah says, the performance is a living document that changes ever so slightly with each performance. “The concept is that issues can dissipate if you are open about lovingly confronting them,” he says. “The show is about people thinking about their own experiences.” Isaiah’s sojourn to the Okanagan represents a kind of return to his earlier days in opera. It was Rosemary Thomson, Kelowna Opera’s music director, who conducted Isaiah’s very first solo performance in an opera. Isaiah, who was participating in a summer opera program for aspiring performers, says he’d expected to remain among the chorus, until Thomson called him up for a solo in a Czech opera. A bundle of nerves with no idea what to do, Isaiah still vividly recalls the role of a carnival barker that left him chewing on a stream of hard Eastern European consonants. Regardless of his nerves and not knowing what to do, Isaiah didn’t flee the scene. He performed, and the experience has followed him on a career that has seen him grow from the member of a small-town choir in Fort St. John to star in operatic performances around the world, including Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Edinburgh.  The roles are equally impressive. Isaiah has taken on Marlow in Heart of Darkness, sung Schubert’s Winterreise (twice), performed in Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and played the role of Almaviva in The Barber of Seville. A recent highlight was starring in the 2018 world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s production of Hadrian for the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. Reviews from the New York Times summarized Isaiah’s performance as “sweet-voiced” and “daring.” He’s also channeled his creative spark into writing no fewer than four of his own operas. All this and he’s still in his mid-30s.

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Restrictions on gathering places such as theatres have seen Isaiah shift from major operatic productions and the physical stage to solo shows and social media platforms. “I’ve been one of the lucky ones,” he says. “I’m busier than I’ve ever been.” Isaiah’s creative spirit is epitomized by the sheer volume of ideas he’s able to generate along with the broad range of interests that he doesn’t recoil from taking on. During the interview, for example, Isaiah noted that he had just uploaded his 206th consecutive Instagram post for a project he’d begun at the start of the lockdown. In the project, Isaiah creates a short video or song inspired by a different haiku each day, posting it for his followers to see.  Perhaps it all began by playing the Czech carnival hustler or finding his way as a young gay man growing up in rural BC. Maybe it was a combination of successive challenges, each intermingling with one another in the performance of life. Whatever it might have been, it has ensured Isaiah is not afraid to approach his roles with a gravitas that defies his youth. Yet it isn’t the international accolades and track record of major performances that stand out for Isaiah, who recently took up a teaching position at the University of Victoria and remains actively committed to helping new and aspiring performers meet their personal shames face first. The former are certainly worthy of pride and are a great measure of success, but it is his work with community groups as an advocate for queer youth and the performing arts in the smaller towns and cities that he visits along the way that stand out the most. “I always thought it was the most prestigious gigs, but it’s really about the people you meet along the way,” he says.

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One in a

million

Daydreams, hope and giving merge in Kelowna lottery house WORDS VALAURA JONES PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY KESTREL RIDGE

I

n our house, we refer to 2020 as “the weird year.” In many ways, “weird” doesn’t even begin to cut it, but we are practicing optimists who are determined to find the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. With the arrival of the new year, there are two silver-lining takeaways I’d like to bring with us as we head into 2021: hope and giving. What better way to embody this message than to tour a home which offers a bit of both? The stunning structure at 460 Talon Lane in Kelowna is one of eight grand prize homes from around BC in the 2020 Millionaire Lottery, which raises funds for the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. In operation since 1996, the Millionaire Lottery is Vancouver Coastal Health’s primary philanthropic partner, raising funds for specialized adult health services and research for all British Columbians. Thousands of people did a bit of giving when they bought a ticket for the sold-out lottery, and in return, they received the gift of hope. For months, people have been dreaming of January 27, when the winner of the annual lottery is drawn. For many, their daydreams have been living at the Kestrel Ridge property in Kelowna’s Upper Mission neighbourhood. Built by Rykon Developments, the home’s standout feature is unequivocally its view. Perched on the hillside of the southernmost edge of Kelowna, the house would allow the lucky owner to bask in a 180-degree view of the lake and mountains. At night, the twinkling lights of the city and bridge unfold before it. “It is rare to have a development that starts with architecture as its principle feature, which is what we have done at Kestrel Ridge. Our homes have been carefully designed to make the most of the space in all areas, filling rooms with light and upscale finishings,” said Landon Block, project manager for Kestrel Ridge. This three-bedroom house spans a spacious 2,896 square feet over two floors. Designed for main-floor living, the upper floor includes an airy, boulevardmagazines.com  |

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The stunning structure at 460 Talon Lane in Kelowna is one of eight grand prize homes in the 2020 Millionaire Lottery, which raises funds for the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. light-filled open floor plan, a guest bedroom and a generous master suite. The great room offers 13-foot ceilings and a 14- by 10foot window that makes the most of those views and natural light. A large patio door opens onto the covered deck for easy outdoor living and dining. The linear fireplace features a custom metal surround and provides the perfect opportunity to warm up after a day spent exploring the ski hill or the nearby Kettle Valley Railway Trail.

1462 Rocky Point Drive, Kelowna 250-862-8630 | www.fawdryhomes.ca boulevardmagazines.com  |

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The well-appointed kitchen is the height of contemporary sophistication. At its heart is a nine-foot island with a solid surface waterfall countertop. The shaker-style cabinetry offers a classic, welcoming touch, while the dual fuel range and pantry keep things practical and efficient. In the master bedroom, an oversized picture window offers its

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own breathtaking view, certain to make mornings a little easier. Heated floors are a welcome addition to the master en suite, which also boasts a quartz bench in the shower and a deep soaker tub. Perfect for a four-season wardrobe, the adjacent walk-in closet offers ample space. With its 10-foot ceilings and incredible views, the walk-out base-


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ment can hardly be considered a basement at all. At around 400 square feet, the flex room offers all the space you need to flex your muscles in a home gym or flex whatever other hobbies catch your fancy. Perhaps you long for a pool table or a dedicated space to enjoy the big game and your latest Netflix binge marathon. The lower level also boasts a large den and a guest room with a walk-in closet. Abundant storage helps keep your skis, beach accessories and other gear organized. It’s a home that anyone would hope for and which one lucky, giving person may win. Of course, the biggest winners of all are our friends at the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. While one virus may have been dominating headlines for a year, our medical teams have continued to care for patients with needs great and small. A lottery fundraiser makes a significant positive impact in helping them do their best work. “Everyday medical needs didn’t stop when COVID-19 hit. Throughout this pandemic, our researchers and medical teams, who treat patients from across BC, have done a tremendous job looking after the patients in their care,” said Angela Chapman, president and CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Millionaire Lottery funds are as important as ever as we continue to ensure that our world-class health care teams are equipped with the tools and technology they need to provide the best care possible.” The Millionaire Lottery may be gone for another year, but another beacon of hope and giving is just around the corner. The BC Children’s Hospital Lottery will offer British Columbians another chance to give back in early 2021. Could you be the hopeful winner?

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We will schedule a date and carefully dismantle your old kitchen and take it away, leaving a blank canvas for your brand new kitchen. It really is that easy!

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Donating useful goods to our local ReStore keeps quality items from going to waste. Your old kitchen will help fund local Habitat for Humanity homes and in return you receive a taxable receipt for our resale value.

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The Shire

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fashion

THE ARTIST AND THE MUSE

PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE + STYLING BY JEN EVANS

Strapless dress by Club Monaco, $60, from Turnabout Luxury Resale.

This fashion year starts with a sigh of softness showing the bold nature of neutrals. Clay tones of pink, cream and grey are layered in multiple textures of wool, woven and silk fabric. Sculptor David Hunwick invites Boulevard into his studio to inspire and to be inspired. As in the relationship of the artist and the muse, the creative energy flows two ways as beauty and strength spark new ideas, angles and a fresh perspective.


Reclining Nude of Estoi Necklace, $285, and Love Lock Chain Necklace, $195, both by Pamela Card, Ligne Stud Earrings by Uni, $285, all from Bernstein & Gold.

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Jessamine Dress by Malene Birger, $625, from Bernstein & Gold.

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Long-sleeved turtleneck by Baserange, $110, knit collar by Monica Cordera, $290, plant-dyed silk skirt by Tannin and Toil, $400, basket bag by WORN, $110, all from Open House Shop; scarf, $110, and crystal necklace (on bag), $69.95, both from Migration Boutique.


Bodysuit by Baserange, $96, dress by Boheme, $400, plant-dyed silk scrunchie by Tannin & Toil, $45, all from Open House Shop; raven skull necklace from Migration Boutique, $40; large necklace by Krysia, $50, from W&J Wilson.


Reclining Nude of Estoi Necklace by Pamela Card $285, Love Lock Chain Necklace by Pamela Card $195, Ligne Stud Earrings by Uni $285 all from Bernstein and Gold; Morocco Pants $190 by Eve Gravel from Migration Boutique

Makeup and hair: Jen Clark Model: Tessa Hamelin Photo assistant: Blair Hansen Photographed on location at David Hunwick’s sculpture studio and at Cinderbloc Studio. A huge thank you to all for hosting our team.

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business class

DIVA MAGIC at Dorothy’s & beyond

Rudy Tomazic keeps the good times and the giving rolling WORDS TOBY TANNAS

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PHOTOGRAPHY DARREN HULL


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ringing people together is Rudy Tomazic’s speciality. The Kelowna-based business owner does big, impactful things for his community but he does them in what’s become his signature way: quietly, behind the scenes. “The thing I enjoy most is making people happy,” Rudy says with a smile. “I get a real charge out of that. I don’t need accolades; I just want to do it.” As the owner of Friends of Dorothy, the Okanagan’s first LGBT2Q+ cocktail lounge (now with a second location in Victoria), Rudy has created a fun and inclusive environment that embraces the very best of queer culture. “We live in a world with too much judgment,” Rudy says. “We are judged on our clothing, our face, our hair and body size. Everything is judged. But when you walk into a queer-focused place, everyone is welcome and we’re not judging at all. We want you to come in and just have fun.” Friends of Dorothy or simply Dorothy’s, as Rudy affectionately refers to it, is a place to grab a snack and a drink and take in a drag show. At least it was until COVID-19 restrictions put the kibosh on performances. But in true star fashion, Kelowna’s resident queens continue to show up for Rudy. “The queens in Kelowna aren’t being paid to come in right now, but they do! They’re dressed in drag, they’ll just sit on stage with the microphone and talk and heckle people,” he chuckles. “They’re doing it not only to keep what we’ve created alive but to make people laugh and feel good through these challenging times.” They’re also doing it as a show of respect and gratitude for the man who gave them a permanent stage. The appreciation for Rudy extends far beyond the LGBT2Q+ community. Together with business partner Nate Flavel, Rudy has turned an annual pop-up drag queen party into a significant fundraiser for the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation. Noir has sold out in each of its three years, allowing Rudy and Nate to donate upwards of $40,000 to the KGH Foundation. “Everyone needs a hospital, not just the LGBT2Q+ community. Everybody. There’s not a single person on the planet who isn’t going to need medical attention at some point in their lives,” Rudy notes.

FROM THE FOUNDATION UP, WE BUILD EXCELLENCE IN HEALTHCARE. Advancements in the health and wellness of the patients and families in the communities we serve is made possible by the foundations we build. Together, we serve all who call the BC interior home.

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The proceeds from Noir have gone to support some of the region’s greatest needs for advancing health care. This includes JoeAnna’s House, as well as a campaign to offer complete cardiac services at KGH by bringing in electrophysiology. Proceeds from Noir also supported the We See You campaign, a fundraising effort in support of KGH staff and the areas of greatest need during the pandemic response. “Rudy is very humble about his contributions to our community, but he is so generous,” says Allison Ramchuk, Chief Development Officer for the KGH Foundation. “We are so grateful for his gifts to support local health care, and his endless energy and creativity when it comes to fundraising. He’s a very special partner.”

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A second event called Diva will also be a fundraiser for the KGH Foundation once COVID-19 regulations are relaxed. Rudy is eying 2022 for the return of both drag shows. “I’m just so humbled by the support. I’m the type of person who charges full steam ahead into a project or a business. I don’t really stop to think about a Plan B if it should fail. I only ever have a Plan A,” he says, laughing. Rudy’s drive and penchant for taking risks (he went ahead with plans to open a second restaurant in the midst of the pandemic) were instilled in childhood. It’s a selftaught survival mechanism that came from growing up in a family that he says never really supported his dreams. “Someone was always telling me that I would never be


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“We are so grateful for his gifts to support local health care, and his endless energy and creativity when it comes to fundraising.”

able to do what I wanted. I was told this is the way it’s going to be and this is the way you’re going to do it. He wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but all I ever really wanted to do was make a difference.” Rudy can check the box on that dream. His philanthropy has helped and will continue to benefit an entire region. Through his real estate/ development company and his two restaurants, Rudy is keeping dozens of people in Kelowna and Victoria employed, all while celebrating the LGBT2Q+ community and putting drag queens in the spotlight. “I really couldn’t do any of this without the support of my three sons, close friends and, of course, the Friends of Dorothy teams in both Kelowna and Victoria. They’ve all been right there with me on this journey. When you look at queer culture, we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.” Rudy is determined to keep pushing forward on that. His next dream is to take Dorothy’s nationwide. “I want to build a staple for the LGBT2Q+ community. If you’re in Calgary, or Vancouver or Toronto and you’re looking for an LGBT2Q+ establishment, you’ll see Dorothy’s, and you’ll know what you’re going to get! A place that welcomes everybody.” Rudy admits he has struggled through this pandemic because it’s kept him from the thing he loves most in life—being shoulder to shoulder with people. “As humans, our nature is to be together. When I’m in the restaurant, I’m not just managing. I’m bussing tables, I’m doing dishes, helping prep, doing whatever is needed. I like to mingle, and I can’t do that right now, which is difficult for me because I just love to hear people’s stories.” Rudy is now focused on the future and the day he can invite the queens and all the entertainers back on stage to let the good times and the giving roll. Until then, he says, it’s on all of us to keep that diva magic alive. “More than ever we need to be kind and aligned. Together we will get through this.”

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SPECIAL ADVERTISING FEATURE

Boulevard Magazine Presents a selection of

OKANAGAN HOUSING AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE FINALISTS The Okanagan Housing Awards is recognized as the symbol of building excellence in the Okanagan Valley. Join Boulevard in celebrating the achievements of the building industry’s finest. .


BELLAMY HOMES Detached 500K to 750K (Urban Retreat) // Excellence in Show Home 500K and over (Urban Retreat) // Excellence in Marketing // Excellence in Kitchen Design 70K and Under, Partners: Norelco Cabinets, Smalls Flooring (Urban Retreat) >> Bellamy Homes is honoured to have received a nomination for CHBA Builder of the Year, reflecting the company’s goal of setting the highest of standards in environmental responsibility, industry innovation and community involvement. Les Bellamy is a master craftsman and cutting-edge designer who facilitates his own designs, and who pays boundless attention to every aspect of a design/ build. The Bellamy Homes brand is synonymous with luxury custom homes built with bold, one-of-a-kind solutions and garnering over 50 industry awards to date, including C of C Business of the Year. Building community is the company culture and Bellamy has donated over 150K to numerous entities, including Kelowna General Hospital, Ride to Reach and Canucks Autism Charity for Kids, to name a few. Volunteer time includes the local Salvation Army and the Okanagan College Women-in-Trades program.

Les Bellamy, CEO


OKANAGAN HOUSING AWARDS FINALISTS

Excellence in Outdoor Living Space, Partner Frame Construction (Urban Retreat) // Excellence in Creating a Feature (Urban Retreat) Excellence in Small Scale Home, Partner Frame Construction (Urban Retreat) // Excellence in Single Family Home $2 - $3 million, Partner Frame Construction (Urban Retreat) // Excellence in Single Family Home $2 - $3 million (South Slopes Contemporary) // Excellence in Urban Infill, Partner Frame Construction (Urban Retreat) // Home of the Year, Partner Frame Construction (Urban Retreat). Urban Retreat >> “People often comment, ‘It must be fun picking out furniture and finishes for these beautiful homes.’ I see it differently—it is not just a visual thing. Our environments affect how we feel, how we behave, how we live. It is a thought process, a skill, to develop and enhance our living. This project was the fourth home that I completed with these clients. I was very sensitive to their lifestyle, their family and their well-being. They trusted me to create a unique home that was about family, joyfulness and beauty. We care about every detail. Clients find a connection to the warmth of my designs. We bring humanity to our interiors—we ask, we listen, we create. The materiality of a space, the contrast of rough/smooth, scale and how each element works in context is intentional. This home was an amazing journey with my clients, Frame Construction and with my team!”

Nicole Begrand-Fast, Principal

BEGRAND FAST DESIGN


ALIGN WEST HOMES LTD. Kitchen Design (New Home) $70K and Over (The Willow Grove) // Interior Design (New Home) (The Willow Grove) // Decorating and Styling (New) Kitchen (The Willow Grove) // Show Home - $500K and Over (The Willow Grove) // Single Family Detached Home $750K - $1M (The Willow Grove) >> “Our team of professionals at Align West Homes takes on a home like it’s their own. We love to hear about the visions and dreams of our clients—the wants and the must-haves—to create a plan, or a map of their house, so-to-speak. Building a house is much more than drawing lines, framing walls and moving in—it is the whole journey, the whole project, the whole list. Owners David and Raquel, take great pride in the homes they design and build. From the custom exterior glulam-beam detail to the perfectly curated, hand-picked decor, clients will appreciate that our homes are unique and beautiful, and carry on a legacy of fine craftsmanship. Come see this in person at our show home in The Orchard, winner and finalist in five categories in the 2021 OHAE (Okanagan Housing Awards of Excellence).”

Raquel Millikin & David Pfuetzner, CHP, Owner


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Road

THERAPY Taking the high road to mental health BY SUSAN LUNDY

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W

e’re driving along the Crowsnest Highway on the southern edge of BC, a little east of Osoyoos and west of the quaint town of Greenwood. Over the last few hours, the landscape on the other side of the windshield has played out like a fast-changing kaleidoscope: at one point a snowy wonderland at the peak of Manning Park; then a lush forest splashed with red-orange-yellow fall trees, and now an expanse of rolling hills coloured in burnt yellow and topped by a vivid blue sky. As the visuals change and the landscape opens up, so too do our minds. Conversation has stopped for now as the hum of the car lulls our thoughts into a meditative place. At times, we’ve had the tunes blasting, singing along to our standard road fare: Elton John, Cat Stevens, Steve Earle….We’ve also had time to dissect a lingering issue from back home—but problems seem far away and we’re happy to let it sit at the back of our minds for a while. There’s no medical-school definition of “road therapy,” but this is what it’s all about. It’s hitting the road and just driving. Releasing yourself from the cares of home, letting your mind wander into a daydream or even nothingness. Feeling the bliss of being in motion. Letting your subconscious chew away at a problem, while you—in the present—relax.

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Road trips help you live in the moment and be spontaneous. They give your brain a workout as you navigate space and process new information. They provide time to think and daydream. Singing releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals, and exploring the outdoors provides fresh air and doses of Vitamin D. Road therapy looks different at different times. As a teenager and young adult, I often found sanctuary on the road in my old Datsun B210 with the Simon & Garfunkel tunes cranked. On the road, singing along, I could quell the emotion of a break-up or forget the angst of an exam. A few years later, now a writer at my first newspaper job in Salmon Arm, I’d take to the highway at night, driving to Kamloops and back, daydreaming and writing stories in my head. Concerns over environmental footprint and the price of gas over the last decade have limited some of the advantages of road


It’s about hitting the road and just driving. Releasing yourself from the cares of home, letting your mind wander into a daydream. Feeling the bliss of being in motion. Letting your subconscious chew away at a problem while you—in the present—relax.

trips, but with recent advances in hybrid and electric-vehicle technology, we can once again hit the high road. On our early November road trip, we decided to explore the less-travelled highways and roadways of the West Kootenays— relishing the area’s perfect combination of wide-open spaces, mountain views, lake views, snowy passes and vividly coloured fall scenery that would be equally beautiful any time of year. We travelled 1,700 kilometres and included four overnight stays on our journey, but road therapy can work as a day trip, too; it’s a good way to get out and still adhere to most pandemic health protocols. (But be sure to check with different regions’ pandemic regulations before setting out this winter and spring.) Here are a few ideas to create your own road therapy expedition:

MAKE A PLAN… SORT OF

Part of the point of road therapy is being spontaneous, driving to places unknown. Our five-day trip loosely followed a route that started in the Lower Mainland, taking Highway 1 to Hope and then the Crowsnest to Castlegar; driving various highways through Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver and Nakusp, riding a ferry across Upper Arrow Lake, and travelling on to Revelstoke, Vernon and Kelowna, down the Coquihalla and back to the coast. But we left lots of time to aimlessly drive from point A to B, X or Y. For example, one day, we set off on a driving jaunt out of Nelson, loosely heading for the small town of Salmo. It turned out that the destination itself was less interesting than the journey, as we spontaneously turned off the road here and

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there, discovering some beautiful scenery in addition to the tiny town of Ymir, once a thriving mining hub and now just a small cluster of cool historic buildings.

PICK A RIDE

Thanks to the generosity of Volvo Canada, our road trip involved test-driving a fully loaded, plug-in hybrid Volvo XC90 T8. Since the point of road therapy is to hit the pavement and free the mind, the ride doesn’t really matter. But travelling in complete luxury and comfort with a gas-efficient vehicle doesn’t hurt! Some of this seven-seater’s perks included a 19-speaker surround-sound system—perfect for the multi-stationed SiriusXM system—and heated leather seats with a massage component. Travelling in this car, with its huge front window, elegant interior and so many comforts, put me in mind of a first-class train ride. And the ability to talk to it—“Hello beautiful car, please turn on the heated steering wheel”— was a lot of fun. Road trip safety is another consideration and we experienced the Volvo’s steer assist twice—once when we skidded on a snowy pass and the car quickly recovered—and another time, just at dusk, as we swerved to avoid a herd of elk that had suddenly appeared on the road right beside us. The car had three drive mode settings for steering feel and response, and Bruce was particularly fond of the power mode, which immediately turned it into a supercharged, corner-hugging sports car. Whatever the mode, the highways in the Kootenays are a great place to test-drive a vehicle. Lone Falls, near Nakusp.

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STOP, BREATHE, ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

Our route gave us plenty of opportunities to stop, hike, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the bountiful benefits of nature. The West Kootenays have myriad waterfalls, many within easy access of the highway. The Fletcher Falls turnoff is located about 10 minutes north of Ainsworth and accessed via a short walk. Lone Falls, near Nakusp, is a popular picnic spot located just a few metres from the parking area, while Sutherland Falls—one of the most visually stunning waterfalls in the Revelstoke area—is found near Blanket Creek Provincial Park. A visit to Begbie Falls, also near Revelstoke, includes a glorious trail walk. We also hiked the beautiful Kaslo River Trail with its unique Hide & Seek art installation, and the Nakusp Waterfront Walkway, where we revelled in gorgeous views of Arrow Lake and the surrounding mountains. Ahhhh.

RELAX

In keeping with the Volvo-Swedish theme, we were introduced to the concept of “fika,” which is an important part of Swedish culture. Defined as “a state of mind, an attitude and a ritual,” it’s said to refresh the brain and strengthen relationships. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a snack. To this end, coffee experts Jay Lijewski and Joshua Boyt—or, The Coffee Car Guys—have created a mobile coffee bar for the back of their Volvo XC90; the kit includes coffee beans, grinder and French press/mug. If it involves coffee, I’m all in. So the concept of fika—es-

pecially if it occurs on the road in the middle of nature—is a wonderful idea. We stopped early one morning at Fletcher Falls, sipped coffee at a vantage point and enjoyed the natural setting of woods and water (think forest bathing with coffee). The Kootenays offer another way to relax: the area is spotted with naturally occurring hot springs. We stayed overnight at Ainsworth Hot Springs, enjoying a mesmerizing float around the steaming main pool and then taking a few trips through the hotter pools in the natural caves, which are a unique feature at Ainsworth. You’ll also find hot springs at Halcyon and Nakusp on this route.

OVERNIGHT IN STYLE

In addition to staying at Ainsworth Hot Springs, we overnighted at the historic Hume Hotel & Spa in Nelson and the upscale Explorer Society Hotel in Revelstoke. Both offered unique experiences. The Hume is centrally located, steeped in history and extremely comfortable with super friendly staff. The Explorers Society is a nine-room boutique hotel with beautiful exposed-brick rooms, a rooftop lounge and hot tub. It also features the Quartermaster Eatery, which combines a fire-and-smoke-themed menu and a thoughtfully curated collection of unique wines and spirits.

THE LAST STOP

Finally, return home refreshed, invigorated and ready to face the challenges of the day, knowing that a bit of road therapy has opened your mind to possibilities of a new world.

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food and feast

Immuneboosting bounty Winter favourites to keep your plates colourful and nourishing throughout the colder months WORDS ELLIE SHORTT

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PHOTOGRAPY LIA CROWE


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s winter takes hold, many of us have more on our minds and more on our to-do lists. Add to that the nervousness of our current pandemic reality, and some may feel a sense of fear in the air. Fear of the unknown, fear of new structures and systems, and for many, the fear of cold and flu season coupled with an aggressive virus that we still know so little about. However, one promising area of exploration is that of preventative measures as related to immune function and predispositions. While there is still minimal conclusive evidence on specifics that can ward off or diminish the effects of COVID-19, experts agree that a stronger baseline immune system doesn’t hurt, and even aside from this particular virus, tried-and-true methods for natural and safe immune support are beneficial in warding off various bugs that pop up in the colder, darker months. The following are some seasonal finds that not only contain nutrients to boost and support immune function, but taste wonderful and warm the soul on so many nourishing levels. (Please note that while I am a trained and certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, this is not intended to be medical advice for any ailment, especially COVID-19, and is meant to simply offer some sources of ingredient inspiration that perhaps also provide an additional advantage of natural and non-invasive immune support.)

You Expect More and So You Should

Roots

Root vegetables are a strong staple in the culinary rotation. Carrots, parsnips and beets in their many gorgeous shapes, sizes and colours are delicious roasted and made into salads or side dishes, puréed into soups, or simply enjoyed raw, whether that’s shaved, grated, spiralized or even juiced. They are nutrient-packed powerhouses, boasting a wide array of immune-boosting benefits. For example, carrots have a high concentration of an antioxidant group called carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene, a precursor to active vitamin A, which is responsible for many immune-based perks. There are a number of studies that support this, including one out of the Institute of Nutritional Physiology in 2003 that showed the advantageous effects of carrots (specifically carrot juice) on immune function. And it’s not just the orange-hued ones! For those like myself who enjoy the visually diverse delights of multi-coloured produce, you will find immune assistance in the purple, red and yellow varieties as well. Similar to carrots, beets come in a cornucopia of stunning assortments and offer a multiplicity of superb nutrients. Equally rich in antioxidants, including carotenoids, beets provide a comparable set of immune advantages, in addition to their remarkable ability to aid in gentle natural detoxification—another key component to healthy immune function. Humble little parsnips also contain disease-fighting antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol and apigenin, which may enhance immunity and protect against infection. They also offer up jackpot levels of vitamin C—25 per cent of the daily recommended amount in one serving, in fact. This crucial vitamin plays a central role in immune function, and according to multiple studies, including one conducted by Anitra C. Carr

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Managing Broker & President

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and Silvia Maggini in 2017, getting enough vitamin C in one’s diet may help decrease symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold and other respiratory tract infections.

Tubers

Yams, sweet potatoes and potatoes (specifically those vibrant purple potatoes) may seem like humble lumps, but are all loaded with nutrients, many of which provide mega benefits to the immune system. Sweet potatoes offer delightful doses of vitamins A and C; in fact, sweet potatoes contain one of the highest concentrations of vitamin A found in any vegetable (one medium-sized cooked sweet potato contains 21,907 international units of vitamin A or 438 per cent of the daily recommended value). Regular old potatoes are great sources of beneficial nutrients as well, primarily potassium, but if you’re really wanting to kick things up a notch, give purple potatoes a try. While they seem novel, they’re not new. The history of the purple potato goes back to the purple Peruvian, an heirloom fingerling potato. This type of potato may have been noted as early as 1817, listed as available at the market of Les Halles. They have a nutty, earthy flavour and are perfect as a side dish to complement nearly any main course. I like to cook them in a way similar to how I would regular potatoes—roasted, mashed, smashed—even the hasselback method works great with this imperially pigmented tuber. But aside from being majestically hued and fragrantly flavourful, these potatoes serve up some vitamin C, potassium and B6, all of which can aid in proper immune function.

Winter Squashes

Butternut, acorn, ambercup, delicata and my personal favourite, kabocha…there are seemingly endless options to choose from in the winter squash world, and even within each variety, there appears to be boundless shapes, sizes, colours and quirks.

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Roasted Roots Salad with Turmeric Tahini Dressing


They grow abundantly throughout British Columbia, each offering their own texture, flavour and most optimal use, and, you guessed it, are full of immune-enhancing nutrients like vitamins C and A. The bright-fleshed squashes like butternut and kabocha are particularly rich in antioxidants, including three different carotenoids, which as we discovered earlier are key elements in proper immune function. But equally as important as the nutrient factors of these gorgeous gourds is their gastronomic versatility. I like to cook and purée them into soups, incorporate them into stews, slice and roast them into side dishes and as salad toppers, blend them into creamy dips and sauces, and bake them into muffins, loaves and pies. And let’s not forget that pumpkin, a fall-time flavour favourite, is technically a squash and also jam-packed with all those wondrous nutrients mentioned above (one cup of cooked pumpkin provides 245 per cent of the reference daily intake of vitamin A and 19 per cent of the reference daily intake of vitamin C). These are just a few examples of the bounty we are so blessed to have at this time of year. I could go on and on about those exquisite leafy greens of kale, chard and collards, or the magnificent realm of mushrooms, all of which offer their own unique array of nutritional powers and immune-boosting benefits. But that’s the beauty of eating locally, seasonally and with curious eclecticism—nature provides us with what we need and when we need it, and packages it up in the most delicious and stunning ways for full sensory pleasure. So while this is perhaps a somewhat weighty breakdown of the nutritional benefits of a few of the most classic and common fall-time offerings, remember that the most important thing is to have fun with food, appreciate what’s on your plate, and try to find sweet moments of calm solace and cosy comfort amid the potential chaos, pending fears, or gloomier moments of the fall and winter season.

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Roasted Roots Salad with Turmeric Tahini Dressing Prep time: 10-15 minutes Cooking time: 30-45 minutes Makes 4-6 servings

For the dressing: ¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup tahini Juice of one lemon (about 2 tbsp) 1 tsp honey ½ tsp ground turmeric 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and minced Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I usually do about ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper) Water for desired thickness (or olive oil if you like a more richly flavoured dressing); I usually do about ¼ cup Directions Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and turmeric. Slowly whisk in the water (or more olive oil) until you’ve reached your optimal consistency. Whisk in the minced garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. *TIP: you can also combine all the ingredients in a small blender or food processor for a quick and easy option. For the salad: 1 lb small to medium beets, peeled and halved or quartered 1 lb small to medium carrots, peeled and halved or quartered 1 lb small to medium parsnips, peeled and halved or quartered 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 to 2 tbsp of minced flat-leaf parsley 4 cups of baby arugula

4 oz soft goat cheese Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste Garnish of shaved almonds and/or dried black currants Directions Preheat your oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the pre-prepped veggies with the olive oil and spread evenly on one or two baking sheets. *TIP: I like to toss the carrots and parsnips first, then the beets, so that everything doesn’t turn pink if I’m using red beets. Sprinkle with your minced herbs and a generous dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, roast for 30-45 minutes (until everything is fork tender) and remove from the oven to cool. Once cooled, toss the arugula in some dressing (enough to lightly coat the greens), spread out on a platter and artfully place the roasted root veggies and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with more dressing and garnish with the almonds, currents and any remaining herbs.

Spiced Kabocha Squash Soup with Cumin Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Prep time:10-15 minutes Cooking time: 30-45 minutes Makes 2-4 servings

For the cumin toasted pumpkin seeds 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil ½ tsp ground cumin Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste (about ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp black pepper) Directions Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parch-

A retrospective to celebrate 12 years of Swinging with the Stars in support of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association Coming Soon.... www.hospicecoha.org

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Spiced Kabocha Squash Soup with Cumin Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

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To become a member visit chbaco.com/join-now Or call us at 250.861.3988 ment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds with olive oil and cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the pumpkin seeds evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 5-10 minutes or until just beginning to toast (you don’t want to overtoast them). *TIP: you may want to stir them halfway through to ensure a more even cook. Remove from oven and set aside. For the soup 1 medium-sized kabocha squash, cut in half and deseeded ½ large onion, sliced 1 to 2 cups broth, depending on how thick you like it 1 can (400ml) coconut cream 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground ginger ½ tsp garam masala ¼ tsp ground clove 1 tbsp pure maple syrup Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tbsp to ¼ cup) *TIP: I like to use a nice bone broth for added nutrient density and immune-boosting benefits, but a simple veggie stock works great too. Directions Preheat your oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub the kabocha squash with some olive oil (about 1 tbsp or so) and place face-down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes until fork tender. Remove and set aside to cool. While the squash is cooking, sauté the onion on medium-to-low heat with the remaining olive oil until translucent and beginning to get golden brown. Transfer the onion, squash and all other ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor, and purée until smooth and creamy. Give it a taste and add salt, pepper and any more seasoning you desire. Reheat on stovetop to enjoy, or store in fridge or freezer for later.

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Join us for a virtual

Featuring keynote speaker

Chris Hadfield March 4, 2021

Raise funds to change the future for people affected by dementia. Tickets available at BreakfastToRemember.ca

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Loaf

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Loaf Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cooking time: 30-40 minutes Makes 8 slices

JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020

½ cup almond flour ½ cup coconut flour ¼ cup tapioca flour ½ cup cane sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground nutmeg

OKANAGAN LIFE AT ITS FINEST

¼ tsp ground clove ¼ tsp sea salt 3 eggs 1 cup sweet potato/yam purée 1 tsp pure vanilla extract ½ cup butter, melted, plus a little extra for greasing *

*TIP: Melted coconut oil or even olive oil works great too if you’re looking for a dairy-free option.

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THE SPICE IS LOADED Exploring the savoury side of cinnamon

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Directions Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with butter.* In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices, sugar and sea salt, and set aside. In a mixer, food processor, or by hand, combine the eggs, sweet potato/yam purée, vanilla extract,and melted better. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into your loaf pan, smooth out the top and sprinkle with some extra cinnamon, sugar and crumbled nuts, or just leave plain. Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking to see if the centre is cooked through by inserting a thin knife or long skewer until it comes out clean. Once baked through, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove from the loaf pan, and let it cool further on a wired rack for a few more minutes. Slice and serve with butter or whipped cream. *TIP: You can also line the bottom with a thin strip of parchment paper with the edges hanging out for easier removal.


ARA & TOBY B E AC H M O R N I N G S


secrets and lives —

AND THE 7 SINS with ANDREA BARONE

WORDS ANGELA COWAN

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PHOTOGRAPHY DARREN HULL


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sing synergistically blended combinations of botanicals, crystals and active ingredients, Crystal Hills Organics CEO and founder Andrea Barone has created a line of skincare and body products that make you feel amazing—physically, mentally and spiritually. Andrea, now a chartered herbalist and Reiki master healer, started the business about five years ago after transitioning from a career in bioscience and occupational health and safety. “I wanted to create something that can help people because, oh my goodness, sometimes you need that little boost!” she says with a laugh. “I love that I’ve heard from so many people that what they’ve used has helped them. Whether it’s a skin thing, or a mom worrying about her kiddo, or someone going through a stressful time in their life ... that makes me feel really good, knowing I was able to help someone a little bit with their day.” The crystals Andrea uses are sustainably sourced—the entire company is cruelty-free—and Andrea grows many of the herbs used in her formulations, like lemon balm, rosemary and lavender, at her business’s base in Lake Country. By pairing the therapeutic properties and smells of the herbs and botanicals with the energetic properties of the harmonized crystals, and even taking colour into account, Andrea is able to create products whose effect is greater than the sum of their parts. She even performs Reiki on each product as it’s being formulated for an extra boost of healing energy, and it’s no surprise that her products are immensely popular. “When I started the business, even at first, we were in the Grammy bags right away,” she says. “We were asked to be in the Coachella trend bags, and there was a Mother’s Day [event] in Hollywood.” With its strong online presence, Crystal Hills has weathered the shift in business due to COVID-19, and it could be argued the harmonizing effects of Andrea’s products are needed now more than ever.

“When I started the business, even at first, we were in the Grammy bags right away.” GREED:

You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on? Grab my beau, our kids, friends and family and jet off to Hawaii. We’ve all been on lockdown far too long and we are all absolutely ready for an escape.

WRATH:

Pet peeves? I get stressed out when I see people being rude to someone or behaving aggressively. It seems like everyone has a different opinion these days on masks, travelling, being out in public, et cetera. We all have different viewpoints, so I wish people would just pause for a moment and think about this before flipping out on someone.

SLOTH:

Where would you spend a long time doing nothing? Any tropical beach with warm sand, a light ocean breeze and that beautiful turquoise water. My favourites are Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean. I would just love to lie on a lounger on the beach with a piña colada. Total paradise.

PRIDE:

The 7 Sins ENVY:

Whose shoes would you like to walk in? I would definitely be up for going back in time to walk in Nikola Tesla’s shoes. I would love to see all of his inventions and what he patented, and I just love this quote by him: “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

GLUTTONY:

What is the food you could eat over and over again? Chips and dip. Specifically Ruffles regular chips with Helluva Good Dill Pickle dip. Seriously the best combination.

What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of ? I guess I would be most proud of my optimism or my faith that things will work out with a happy ending. That even after going through a turbulent time in my life, I would still be able to successfully launch my business and have it continually grow, let love into my life again and that I would be able to be at peace and be blissfully happy.

LUST:

What makes your heart beat faster? Two years ago I reconnected with a past love from 20 years ago, and he definitely makes my heart beat faster. When we saw each other again on that first date, it was like no time had passed and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Fortunately, all our kids get along incredibly well and we all love hanging out together.

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narrative

WORDS BARBARA BARRY ILLUSTRATION SIERRA LUNDY

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ANGELS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE I am pretty sure the term “bucket list” is a creation of the Baby Boomer generation. I know my parents never mentioned a bucket list in their retirement. They were happy to be paying the bills and going south for the winter. But, among my Boomer peers, the phrase “that’s on my bucket list” is heard often in our conversations. And so, in the summer of 2019, my husband and I decided to tick a few items off our lists. His choice was fairly easy. Being an avid golfer he had always wanted to attend a British Open golf tournament and that summer it was held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland—his birthplace.

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Apart from having to purchase the tickets a year in advance, we were able to put the trip together easily. However, the item on my list was years coming to fruition. It started with hearing stories of my family history and included attending Remembrance Day ceremonies that always moved me to tears, especially seeing the Silver Cross Mothers. Over the years, I became determined to lay flowers on the grave of my uncle, James Frank Steer, my father’s eldest sibling, killed in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, at age 20, and buried somewhere in the middle of France. No one in my family had ever visited.


My visit was the least I could do for him, for my family and for those buried alongside him. After our time in Northern Ireland, we arrived in Paris at the height of a very hot tourist season. We studied maps and investigated train routes, trying to zero in on the small Regina Trench Cemetery, which was not on the regular war monument tours. We discovered it was in the area of three small villages north of Paris and Amiens—Courcelette, Grandcourt and Miraumont— located 1.5 kilometres off the main road, up a single-track lane not accessible by car. One would need to get a taxi to the site. Early one beautiful, very hot morning we took the one-hour train trip north from Paris to the town of Amiens. From there, we caught another train to Miraumont, arriving midday, and getting off at a spot where there was no station—just a small dirt path down to a street. There was an eerie quiet in the village and no people in sight. I stopped a solitary villager and asked for a taxi in my lapsed French. He seemed confused, so we wandered the streets, eventually finding a pharmacy that was open. We explained to a customer why we were there and she said, “There are no taxis here; this is the middle of nowhere.” My stress and disappointment must have been visible because immediately a staff member started going through some phone directories to see if there might be taxis available in neighbouring villages—but with no luck. At the same time, another checked Google Maps and found the cemetery, but said it would be a few hours away on foot. We were speechless, imagining a walk in the heat of the day both there and back. That is when an “angel” appeared in the disguise of a young man picking up a prescription. With a glance at the map, he said he knew the cemetery because it was near his village, and he offered to drive us there. He was in his 20s, neatly dressed and well groomed, and must have taken pity on this old couple who were obviously frantic. We did not hesitate and hopped in his car. It was a pleasant drive and we were enjoying the scenery when he made a sudden stop and pointed to some trees in a distant field. We were thrilled and offered him some monetary compensation, which he declined. But eventually we made a deal—even with our language problems—and he agreed to accept payment and return later to drive us back to the station. With our euros in pocket, he drove off, and we realized we were in the middle of nowhere and we might never see him again. As I started my walk up the rugged dirt path to the farmer’s field, I realized that in the chaos and stress I had forgotten flowers. But there were some bright orange wild poppies at the side of the track and I began to pick them. The Regina Trench Cemetery is small, compact and beautiful, an oasis in an empty landscape that was once riddled with violence, despair and death. The grass is a verdant green and neatly mowed, and perennials, trees and bushes grow among the graves. I entered the gate to a monument with the inscription “Their Names Liveth For Evermore,” and started my search for Plot #1,

Row G, Grave #2, with a simple map found online. Suddenly, there it was! The stone with my family name engraved on it, J. F. STEER, AGE 20, with a maple leaf on the heading and his regiment details and date of death. I broke down weeping and repeating the words “thank you” over and over again. My husband joined in as well. I placed my wilted poppies on the plants already there, sat, touched his name and was overcome with grief. I thought about what his final days must have included. I wondered if he had made friends with other soldiers and maybe did not die alone. I hoped some of them were buried here beside him in the middle of nowhere in France. I spent some time with him, this man I had never known, and began to feel some peace after the anxieties of the day. But there were also thoughts of the futility of war, so many lives lost, so many Silver Cross Mothers. Eventually, we knew we should leave, thinking of the trip ahead of us. We discovered a guest book at the entrance gate, which I signed, and I was surprised to see there were two other entries for that week, someone from Stockholm and another from Oregon. I wondered what their stories might be. Then, scanning the distance, we could see that our “angel” had returned. Not only did he take us to the train station, but he had checked online for time of the next train to Amiens. As we sat waiting for the train and reflecting on the events of the day, an elderly gentleman arrived. After explaining why we were there, he told us in broken English that one of his friends volunteered as a gardener at the cemetery. I was astounded to think that someone, in the middle of nowhere, with no connection to those buried there, would give so unselfishly of his time. There must be more “angels” in the world. He asked for the name on the grave, so perhaps my Uncle Frank will have another visitor some day. Upon hearing my story, some people have pointed out that I never knew James Frank Steer. True. But I knew his parents—my grandparents who lost their eldest son. I knew his five siblings, all now deceased, none of whom had the privilege of visiting his final resting place. I am the youngest of the four remaining nieces and nephews. And I have slowly learned of the horrors of a war that I never had to live through. I know, like so many, he must have died a lonely, violent death. He never got to come home. My visit was the least I could do for him, for my family and for those buried alongside him. My “bucket” is empty now. I hope to continue to travel, but this will be the most important trip I have ever taken. After receiving my email of the events of that long day, my daughter was appalled that I would get in a car with a total stranger, in the middle of nowhere in France. But I never considered him anything but an “angel.” And I will always remember a quiet visit, with someone I wish I had known, on a beautiful, peaceful day. It was a privilege to have visited the final resting place of those who fought so bravely and gave us their most precious gift—their lives. boulevardmagazines.com  |

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behind the story

B

oulevard editor Susan Lundy and her husband, Bruce Cameron, hit the road a few months ago, test-driving a hybrid Volvo XC90 T8 in BC’s West Kootenays region for this edition’s feature story, called Road Therapy. “Road trips have been a huge part of my life, pretty much from the moment I got behind the wheel of my first car,” says Susan. “When my daughters were young, we spent dozens of glorious weekends travelling to swim meets around the province. Later, my husband and I memorized all the twists and turns of Highway 1 as we drove countless times between our homes in Calgary and Salt Spring island. Since then, we’ve driven across Canada, all around BC and through the western states. Each time we get in the car and head out, it’s like an immediate exhale. Then we feel a surge of excitement at all the possibilities—all the things to discover, all the potential for adventure. And these days, when pandemic-forced isolation has transformed our relationship with private spaces, our cars are more than just a means of transportation; they’re a safe space to escape into. Road therapy might not be a medical term, but it has offered an antidote to the pandemic—as well as a whole lot of adventure and fun.”

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 202 1

PHOTO BY BRUCE CAMERON


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