Nikki Nikki 9Dorz

While life may not really begin at 40, it sure as hell does not end, so why not make the rest of your journey amazing?

May 19, 2015
by Nikki9Dorz
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A Beginner’s Guide to Attending a Wine Tasting

Bucket lists are an interesting concept in that one person’s “once before I die” can be another gal’s “typical Thursday night”.

I was thinking about this last week while waiting in line to enter the New Zealand in a Glass wine tasting. This was the second of three tastings on my schedule this month, but I know that only 10 short years ago “attend a wine tasting” may very well have taken up a high priority spot on my own bucket list.

Since then my life has changed dramatically, and I know that my reasons for not attending tastings back then were that I was afraid of not knowing what to do, and of not fitting in.

Now, as a frequent attendee, I am here to tell you that there is room for everyone in the world of wine, and to ease the fear of the unknown for others I have compiled a beginner’s guide to finding and attending one’s very first wine tasting.

Choosing the Event

Start with a walk around style tasting

These are often less formal than a sit-down affair and allow first-timers to go at their own pace.

Look for an event that will be pouring a wide varietal of wines, preferably from different countries and/or regions

Many tastings can be country or even region specific, but for your first event try and find something that is offering a wide variety of wines, especially if you are completely unsure of your likes and dislikes.

Below are links to two tastings happening in Vancouver over the next few weeks that are perfect for first-timers.

Pelican Bay Spring Tasting

Unlocked: Australia’s First Families of Wine

Preparing for the Event

Eat Before You Go

Even if the promotional material says that there will be snacks served, eat something before you go. Trust me. You may be pleasantly surprised and arrive to find a delicious assortment of small bites that are routinely replenished throughout the evening. On the other hand, you may walk through the door to find the only food in sight is a small table topped with a meagre assortment of cheeses that is already being devoured by the first-in-line folks.

Have a snack before leaving home and you will be prepared to hit the ground running when you arrive.

Wear Dark Colors

The aisles can be narrow and crowded, people are consuming alcohol, and there is a very good chance that some fellow taster could get emphatic with their arm gestures. Tempting fate by putting your favorite white dress in a room full of slightly tipsy folks armed with splatter able sized servings of Pinot Noir is just not worth the risk.

Do Not Wear ANYTHING Scented

In general the wine tasting crowd tends to be a pretty friendly bunch…unless you show up to a tasting wearing perfume or cologne. Even casual attendees have been known lose their s@#t on anyone around them wearing scent as it compromises the smell, and consequently the taste, of the wine.

Do not wear perfume, cologne, body spray or any other personal care product that is strongly scented and you will be A-OK.

The Big Night

Your Glass

Upon entry to the event you will be given a glass. This is yours for the night.

You will find pitchers of water near the dump buckets on each table which you can use to rinse your glass throughout the event, but you don’t need to do it between every pour. Rinsing is usually practiced when switching between white and red, or if you have tasted a very powerful red and you are re-visiting a lighter tasting varietal.

Sparkling, White, then Red

Typically one starts the event sampling the sparkling, then moves on to whites, and ends the evening drinking reds.

When you approach each table ask the pourer what to start with and go from there. You can return to that table to taste their reds later in the evening when you have made the big switch.

Get Your Pour, Ask Questions, and Step Back

If you have any questions about what you are drinking be sure to ask the vendor. The pourers are very knowledgeable, not just about their own brand, but about wine in general, and they are there to ensure that you enjoy your experience.

With that said, once you have received your pour and your questions have been answered step back and allow the tasters behind you to access the table.

Spit/Dump Buckets

Don’t be afraid to dump your pour. The buckets are provided for spitting and rinsing, but they are also there to get rid of any wine that you really just don’t like. The night is short and the real estate in your belly (and blood alcohol level) is too valuable to be taken up by something you hate (I’m looking at you Chardonnay).

Learn from the experience and move on.

Know Your Limit, Taste within It

Generally each pour is about an ounce, but those seemingly small samples can add up over the course of a two hour event. Pace yourself. There will be water available so make sure you take a few breaks from the vino to hydrate yourself.

At the End of the Night

Have a Plan to Get Home

Call a cab (Yellow Cab Vancouver also has a groovy mobile app for both IPhone and Android), hop on a bus and/or the Skytrain, or make a night of it and arrange a hotel room close to the event.

Many tastings held in the downtown core will hand out free, individual Faresaver tickets. If you do plan to take transit home make sure to grab yours at the end of the night.

 

Wine

And there you have it! All of the basics you need to know in order to breeze through your very first wine tasting like a seasoned pro.

If you have any questions or know of any great wine events happening near you be sure to post in the comments section below.

March 27, 2015
by Nikki9Dorz
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The Wellness Show 2015 – Recap

Last month I was incredibly fortunate. Not only was I lucky enough to receive an invitation to attend The Wellness Show 2015, but I also had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with The Green Mama herself, the incredible Manda Aufochs Gillespie, about green makeup and beauty products.

I am a total newbie when it comes to the realm of green personal care products, but after a super fun and informative conversation with Manda (which you can read all about here) I felt ready to hit the show with my newfound (and slightly disturbing) knowledge surrounding the potentially harmful effects of the coal tar, heavy metals and hidden perfumes that are quietly lurking in so many of the products that I liberally slather across my face on a daily basis.

Hemp Seed and Smoothies and Chia…Oh My!

After registering at the show and pinning on my “media” badge I decided to make a quick first pass through the aisles in order to get my bearings, and one of the first things I noticed was the expansive amount of food and food related products that were available to sample and purchase. At every corner there was a vendor dishing out, mixing up, or pouring out some type of unique and healthful concoction that I was more than willing to try.

I have to say that the majority of the things I sampled were absolutely amazeballs (including, but not limited to, the items pictured below), and there were actually only a handful of edibles that proved to be a wee bit to the left of my comfort zone. All in all, in my opinion it would be difficult to leave The Wellness Show hungry even if one were to simply stick to sampling some of the more traditional fare being offered up by the very generous vendors.

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An assortment of the aromatic and flavorful blends being offered by Divine Specialty Teas.

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These tangy dip mixes from Your Inspiration at Home were super delish!

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The folks from USA Pears were dishing up generous helpings of these delectable beauties.

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Your Inspiration at Home also offered a large variety of smooth oils and tasty vinegars to try along with their delicious signature dukkahs

Keeping Beautiful, Naturally

After getting my bearings (and a bellyful of healthful and delicious snacks) I decided it was time to channel all of the extremely useful (and slightly scary) stuff that I learned from Manda the week before and start exploring some of the booths that were displaying gorgeous assortments of natural skin care and personal health products.

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Sugary treats at The Wellness Show? Nope! These delectable confections are actually bath bombs crafted by Essence Naturals.

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Infinite Aloe had a beautiful display of natural skin care products for both men and women.

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When melted, the wax from these beautifully scented candles created by For the Love of Baths turns into soft, silky lotion that smells divine!

 

As I wandered through the show and chatted with the vendors about their product lines I began to realize that navigating the world of natural skin care is pretty much the same as making your way through its mainstream counterpart. One simply needs to begin by assessing their own skin type and individual needs, move on to doing research on lines offering products directed at those needs, and then simply dive in and try out those products to see which ones best suit their individual skin type.

It appears that there is no shortage of high quality options when it comes to green skin care products, and while I did not leave the show with any personal frontrunners in mind there was one personal care item that I absolutely fell in love with on the spot and have since been talking about non-stop to anyone who will listen.

Dom’s Deodorant

For the past several years I have been in a conundrum, as while I am more than convinced that commercial deodorants and antiperspirants contain ingredients that I should not be putting on my skin, any alternatives that I have tried have come up woefully short (a situation which is no doubt exacerbated by the fact that I possess a near phobic level of fear when it comes to the emission of body odour).

That is to say, all of the alternatives have come up short, until now.

Doms

I was so engrossed in my conversation with the engaging Dom and her delightful son that I neglected to get a shot of their display, but here is a picture of my own well-loved jar of product.

What can I say? This stuff is da bomb! Made with pure, all natural ingredients Dom’s Deodorant will not stop you from sweating (something that the product’s promotional material points out is one of our body’s natural cooling and detox mechanisms), but this mixture of pure, unrefined baking soda, certified organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil,  natural arrowroot powder, and beautifully scented essential oils (I chose the lavender and rosemary blend) will keep you feeling and smelling fresh, even while actually engaging in sweaty, athletic-type stuff!

I have to admit I did exercise a bit of caution after purchasing this product and in the beginning set out to use it in only in careful stages. Day one was a day of mainly working from home with a few light errands. After that went well (i.e. stink free), days two to five saw me out and about, amongst people, doing mild levels of activity and still smelling fantastic. Then along came day six where I completed my regular 30-ish km bike route, on a pretty warm day, in a long sleeved shirt. And you know what? It really, really worked!

Made locally on beautiful Saltspring Island this incredible product was by far my favorite find of the day, and I am sure to be a repeat customer.

Ohhhmmmmm…

After spending a large part of the day chatting with folks about their products, noshing on delicious eats, and taking pictures of so many gorgeous displays I decided to wind up my adventure by taking advantage of a few of the personal services that were being offered on site.

The first thing I indulged in was a 20 minute session with 2 practitioners from Vancouver Pranic Healing. I knew very little (read absolutely nothing) about the practice of Pranic Healing going into this, but I have to say that it was an interesting and enlightening experience.

Before they began I was asked about any specific ailments that I would like them to target during the session and was then directed to sit on a chair with my feet flat on the floor, palms facing upwards, and the tip of my tongue touching the roof of my mouth. For the duration of the treatment one healer stood in front of me and one behind, both appearing to pull something (illness?? energy?? general bad mojo??) from my body, and direct it to a bowl of water on the floor.

At no time during the treatment did the healers actually touch me, but towards the end one did stop his pulling motions and asked if he could say a healing prayer with me. While I am typically not a praying type of gal I did want to benefit from the full experience so I agreed to letting the healer do his thing.

Now I have to admit that the prayer he recited was frighteningly specific, so after the treatment was over I asked him if he recited the same prayer with everyone or if there were different prayers in his roster that he busted out based on what he was feeling from the individual client. Basically he confirmed the latter and said that he felt that I very much needed the specific prayer that he recited. Gulp. Heard and noted Pranic Healer dude, heard and noted.

Lastly, I visited the students staffing the booth for Langara’s Registered Massage Therapy Certificate Program and for a nominal donation received a mind melting 20 minute chair massage from a very professional and delightful young man who is a student in the program.

During my time at the Langara booth I also learned that school runs a student clinic that offers 60 minute massages for only $40.00 at select times and days throughout each term. Their website contains all the information you need to know, including their current schedule, and I have to say that based on my experience I plan to make myself a full length appointment at the student clinic ASAP.

As my day came to and end I sadly realized that I had been so caught up in my adventures on the trade show floor that I neglected to take in any of the speakers that day. While I was super disappointed, it was a lesson well learned that I will simply have to ensure that I schedule in more than one day for visiting the show in 2016.

If you missed The Wellness Show this time around I definitely suggest you mark your calendar for next year. The Wellness Show 2016 will once again be held at the Vancouver Convention Center and will take place on February 12, 13 and 14.

In the mean time you can follow The Wellness Show on both Twitter and  Facebook where they post links to health and wellness articles, recipes, and other general awesomeness throughout the entire year.

Also be sure to check out Manda Aufochs Gillespie’s book, Giving Your Child a Healthy Start and a Greener Future, and be sure to also follow her on both Twitter and Facebook.

Did you attend The Wellness Show 2015? What were your favorite experiences? Let me know in the comments box down below!

February 10, 2015
by Nikki9Dorz
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The Wellness Show – February 13 to 15, 2015 – Keeping Beautiful, Naturally

I have to tell you that I am super jazzed about the upcoming weekend, and not because Saturday is Valentine’s Day. The BF is not a big fan of this particular “holiday” (his quotation marks, not mine), and therefore we have no special plans.

Luckily for me The Wellness Show rolls into the Vancouver Convention Center for a 3 day run beginning Friday, February 13, 2015 and this will be my first time attending Canada’s largest trade show dedicated to health, wellness and good clean living.  

Now I am sure many will read that last sentence and their eyes will immediately dart to my Instagram feed on the left featuring cold hard evidence of my semi-regular indulgences of the alcohol infused variety, but if you take a moment to scroll through my feed you will also find pictures of me zipping around the Seawall on my beloved bicycle, Elwood, (my regular route is about 32 km), happily hiking on the North Shore with my BF, or simply enjoying some fresh and healthy snacks, often in the great outdoors (patios count as outside…amIright?).

In preparation for my adventures at The Wellness Show I recently found myself extremely privileged to have had a one-on-one phone chat with The Green Mama herself, Manda Aufochs Gillespie, award-winning author, researcher, and consultant who has been dubbed “the green guru” by the media for her work as an ecological designer helping parents, businesses, and communities find greener lifestyle solutions that work for them.

Going into our conversation I knew that I wanted to focus on an area where I know I can definitely integrate more natural product choices, and that is my makeup and skincare routine. Now as readers know, I loves my makeup, and while in the past I have been known to wander through the personal care aisle of Whole Foods gazing longingly at bottles boasting a host of wholesome sounding ingredients such as rooibos, shea butter, rose water, and lavender, I readily admit that I typically retreat, empty-handed, as ultimately I end up questioning the effectiveness of these unfamiliar, and let’s face it, unsexy looking brands.

With that said, as I age I find that I do have to check myself, as no matter how attractive the short-term benefits that I am achieving through the use of my high-performance roster of mainstream personal care products is, if these items are comprised of potentially harmful ingredients that could result in long-term health consequences down the road are they in fact actually “effective”?

Straight out of the gate Manda informed me that the typical, average woman is exposed to over 500 chemicals in her beauty routine every single day. Gulp. Know I know that I use way more products than what would be considered “average” in my beauty routine (when visiting my house do not look under my bathroom sink, or in my train cases, or in the other bathroom…) so, this is a pretty sobering fact.

Ok, so we now know that we are slathering a ton of chemicals on our bodies daily, but what are these big, bad ingredients, and why should we not include them in the aforementioned daily slathering rituals?

When I asked Manda about some of the ingredients that are regularly found in personal care items that consumers should be on the look-out for she provided the following easy to remember tips for ingredients to look for and avoid the next time we go shopping for personal care items, including the reasons why we should steer clear of products when these things appear on their labels.

  1. Artificial Colour – Many artificial colours are made from coal tar dye, which is a known human carcinogen. In Canada artificial colours are identified by a CI number and in the United States they are designated by a D&C number, making them easy to spot on a label.
  2. Petroleum Based Cosmetics – These are made from a by-product of gasoline.
  3. Perfume/Fragrance – As fragrance is considered proprietary manufacturers do not have to reveal all of the ingredients on the label. Allergies associated with perfumes are our bodies trying to rid themselves of invading toxins, and while they have been linked to causing harm in fish and wildlife the long term effects from these ingredients on humans is harder to determine as we are exposed to so many things it is difficult to go back and pinpoint what the exact causes of any given ill-effect are. Also note that even things marketed as “unscented” can contain perfume as manufacturers often use masking fragrances to give the product a neutral smell.
  4. Heavy Metals – Lead and mercury are known neuro toxins and can be found in products such as lipstick, mascara, hair-dye and deodorant.

Now I have to admit that at this point in our conversation panic was starting to set in as my thoughts flashed back to the lean years during University when I habitually used Vaseline (aka petroleum jelly) as an inexpensive eye makeup remover, and 99 cent lipsticks and mascara of questionable origin were smeared haphazardly across my face on a daily basis, but as Manda and I continued to speak she quickly moved on to tell me that in our individual paths to change our habits we can’t focus on the mistakes that we have made in the past, as that can get too overwhelming. Phew. So, if there are all of these potentially harmful ingredients lurking in so many types of personal care products what can we do to start on a path to a greener, more natural personal care routine? For starters, Manda advised that one “not start with the research, as it is too overwhelming”. She maintains that change is easier if you just go do something, and when I asked her for suggestions on how a natural newbie such as myself can make a gradual move towards incorporating products that are not comprised of potentially harmful ingredients into their beauty routine she provided the following suggestions for those planning to embark on the swap-out process.

  • First look at those products that may have hidden ingredients such as deodorant, skin cream, and toothpaste. Products that are deemed to be of medical use such as deodorant do not have to list all of their ingredients. In addition, many of these types of products are used in our most sensitive areas and can have a high impact in terms of overall health.
  • Look for lotion alternatives early on in your natural journey. While Manda admits that this can be a longer transition than other products, she highly recommends finding good quality, natural oils and acids that are appropriate for your skin type and maintains that it can be just as cost effective as using mainstream products due to the fact that the sellers of these natural alternatives are not spending millions on advertising, nor are they passing on large markups to the consumer
  • As products run out or you become dissatisfied with them simply look for greener, more natural brands to replace them.

Easy-peasy, right? Gulp, version 2.0.

While I do believe in indulgences (sigh…perhaps a bottle of Duckhorn Merlot will be my Valentine), I also believe in taking responsibility for one’s own health and well-being, and after my eye-opening conversation with Manda I now know that there are plenty of changes that I can easily make to my current beauty regime causing me to be even more motivated to explore my options.

There are so many ways that we can easily integrate natural, healthy habits and products into our everyday lives and sometimes the best way to start is simply to proceed with ways that are meaningful and significant to us personally. Whether this means searching for ways to overhaul your entire personal care regime or simply substituting fresh squeezed, organic orange juice for that made from concentrate in your nightly vodka and OJ, it’s all a start.

I for one will be making a beeline for the Natural Beauty Area at The Wellness Show this weekend (I started using organic OJ in my screwdrivers years ago), and will report back with what I find both there and throughout the entirety of The Wellness Show next week here on the blog.

In addition, you can learn more from the amazing Manda Aufochs Gillespie about ways to green up your entire life by checking out all of the insightful and accessible resources that The Green Mama has to offer. You can visit her website, TheGreenMama.com, check out her blog, purchase her book, Green Mama: Giving Your Child a Healthy Start and a Greener Future, and you can see her not once, but twice on the Workshop Stage at The Wellness Show on Saturday, February 14, 2015 (full schedule here). The Wellness Show runs Friday, February 13, 2015 (12:00PM – 7:00PM), Saturday, February 14, 2015 (10:00AM – 7:00PM) and Sunday, February 15, 2015 (10:00AM – 6:00PM).

Ticket Prices

General Admission: $14.50

Students & Seniors $12.50

Children (5 and under free) $6.00

3 Day Pass $30.00

Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or at the door (cash only).

Location:

Vancouver Convention Centre, East Building Exhibit Hall B & C

999 Canada Place Vancouver BC

January 16, 2015
by Nikki9Dorz
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3 Easy Steps to Wide Awake Eyes

While January is typically viewed as a slow month, mine has been anything but, and quite frankly it is only going to get crazier. With at least one speaking engagement on the books, plus a wine-tasting, the Dine Out Vancouver Festival (2 reservations and counting at time of publishing), AND some new work prospects all on the horizon I know that I am going to be having some very late nights, and consequently will be staring down the barrel of some very early mornings in the coming weeks.

Now, in my 20’s, hell, even in my 30’s, I would have not even batted a mascara laden false-eyelash at such a prospect, but now that I am in my 40’s I have realized that while my spirit may be willing, my body often has an agenda of its own. But, since we all know that I refuse to bow to the convention that tells us we must slow down as we age, I have come up with a fail-safe routine that has me looking like my head was on my pillow and my wine glass was empty for at least 8 hours the night before…even when nothing could be farther from the truth.

3 Easy Steps

If the eyes are the gateway to the soul, then the under-eye area is the disgruntled old gatekeeper who is willing to spill his guts to anyone and everyone about what you have been up to if he feels you have been giving him the shaft. With this in mind, my post late night to early morning makeup routine is all about “the cover up”, and focusses squarely on coercing that surly old gossip into zipping his lip and putting up a united front.

Step 1

Primer is always the first step in any makeup routine, but Smashbox makes a fabulous one that is specifically made for the under-eye area. Step one involves slathering a fingertip full of Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer under each eye, focussing carefully on the outer corners where “laugh lines” tend to reveal themselves. This product not only primes the area for the next step, but also brightens and reduces the puffiness that can often follow an extra late night.

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The Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer by Smashbox Not Only Primes Your Under Eye Area for Concealer, But Also Hydrates and Eliminates Puffiness.

Step 2

The next step is to carefully apply a quality concealer. This product needs to be thick enough to cover the inevitable dark circles, yet blendable enough not to settle in any fine lines that may be more prominent in tired, dehydrated skin. In addition, you need to ensure that any concealer you apply in this area is a shade lighter than anything that you would apply to your entire face as using a slightly lighter shade is essential in creating the illusion of youthful, rested skin.

Two of my favs, depending upon the severity of the collateral damage I am facing in the morning, are Boi-ing and Fake Up, both by Benefit. While Fake-up offers easy application in stick form and includes an outer layer of moisturizing goodness (and heaven knows on some mornings words like “easy” and “moisture” can be what keeps a gal going), if I am facing a code red type of morning then my go-to concealer is the rich and creamy Boi-ing. Carefully cover the area that was primed in step one with concealer, and ensure to let it set for a moment before moving on to step three. You want to mitigate the effects of any natural settling that may occur, and be sure that the product is blended and even before you proceed.

Benefits's Fake Up Concealer Has a Moisturizing Outer Layer Perfect for Perking Up the Dry Skin Under Tired Eyes

Benefits’s Fake Up Concealer Has a Moisturizing Outer Layer Perfect for Perking Up the Dry Skin Under Tired Eyes

Step 3

The final step of this process is the silver bullet which will not only keep that old gatekeeper at bay, but guarantee his undying loyalty until the time when you can slip discretely into your bed for a good night’s sleep. Benefit’s Ooh La Lift is an under-eye brightener that gives the illusion of lift by brightening and illuminating the area with just enough oomph that you look wide awake and rested, without risking the disco-glitter glare that is a hazard when using many all-over illuminators.

Carefully dot the product under each eye, then blend upwards, toward the outer corner, with a foundation brush. While the brush is not a necessity, I find it gives a much smoother look than just blending with a fingertip. Finally, place a small dot of the product between your nose and the inner corner of your eye, blending in a half moon circle, ensuring of course to not actually get any product into your eye.

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Benefit’s Ooh La Lift is an Brightener and Illuminator Formulated for Under Eye Wear

 

And there you have it! 3 easy steps that will have you looking rested, alert, and fully prepared to flip the bird to your middle-aged body the next time you find it giving you grief when you order “just one more” glass of wine on a Wednesday night.

Do you have any tricks for disguising your own late night rabble rousing the following morning? If so, please hit the comment button and share them below!

This is not a sponsored post

December 7, 2014
by Nikki9Dorz
0 comments

Week One of Benefit’s 2014 Advent Calendar

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe that the first week of December has come and gone!

Well, the outdoor lights are up, I have already attended two Christmas themed parties, and I cant’ wait to share with you the fun I had trying out the first week of “beauty treasures” that awaited me behind doors 1 to 7 of Benefit’s 2014 Advent Calendar in the first post of this series.

Soooo lets do this!! The good, the awesome, and the WTF?!?!…

December 1

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Pink and Magenta Heart-Shape Paperclips

Uh huh. While I have to admit that these do have the potential to be a whimsical way of marking pages in my agenda, a cosmetic company kicking off day one of a pricey Advent Calendar that is supposed to be filled with “beauty treasures” with office supplies is a wee bit disappointing. With that said, they are super cute, totally in line with Benefit’s branding, and there are still 23 doors to go! Moving on…

 December 2

Yay! The sight of this sweet little lip gloss quickly washed away the minor letdown of day one, and reminded me why I love Benefit products so much. I have purchased the Ultra Plush lip gloss in the past, and enjoyed the thick, rich formula that managed to be full coverage, while not being gloopy. While “A-Lister” is not a color that will work for everyone on its own (it is a really light pink) it is perfect to swipe over a darker, more pigmented lip color to give it a bit of sheen, or as a highlighter on the middle of your bottom lip.

December 3

Wahoo! This mascara is a part of Benefit’s “They’re Real” line, and has been on my own wish list for a while now, so I was super excited to try it. As a disclaimer I should mention that one of the criteria that I use for reviewing mascara for personal use is how well it blends fake lashes with my real ones (totally counterintuitive to the branding, but whatevs), and even with this in mind this little mini blew my mind! Thick, dark, and clump-free, this mascara will make it into my basket on my next Sephora run, fo shizzle!

December 4

This product is marketed as a primer for both undereye concealer and eyeshadow, and while it does indeed leave a smooth and even base for eyeshadow, I found that it emphasized everything that I did not want attention brought to when I applied it under my eyes. For younger ladies I am sure that it works well, but I found that it settled in the pre-crows feet areas around the corner of my eyes, and caused the concealer I applied on top of it to do the same.

In addition to the accumulation issue, I am very pale and like to ensure that anything I used under my eyes is at least a shade lighter than my skin tone, and this light/medium formula was actually a bit darker than the rest of my complexion.

In short, while this may not be a product for me, for younger, darker skinned ladies it may work well.

December 5

I was SUPER excited to find this waiting for me behind door number five as it is a product that I have never tried but have been very interested in due to the fact that well, I am 41, and my dark rimmed, pre-crows feet eyes basically need all the loving they can get.

While I was only able to use it for a few days before writing this post I have to say that I do believe that I can see a difference already! I have been using it each morning before I embark on my regular makeup routine and it has left the skin under my eyes noticeably brighter, leaving me with a dewy look that I really dig. I will definitely need a full size bottle of this in my tool box, ASAP! Santa Baby, please take note! *wink

December 6

Yes! This product used to be a mainstay of my cosmetic bag, and I am not really sure why I never replaced it the last time it ran out. This balm is intended to minimize the appearance of pores (think spackle, but for your face), and does exactly what it claims to do. It leaves a smooth, silky, translucent finish, which serves as a perfect make-up base for dry, mature skin. If you have noticeably large pore, as I do, you definitely need to check this out!

December 7

And last, and certainly the least, we come to day seven.

Here is the official description.

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The Description

Sounds pretty, right? Annnnd here is what it looks like.

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The Reality

Yup, that’s a piece of silver elastic with a knot in the end.

All I can say is that those paper clips from day one are looking pretty slick right about now.

Be sure to come back next Sunday to get the full low down on week two’s beauty treasures! Will there be more stationery? Or perhaps we will find some replacement ink cartridges for our printers? Stay tuned to find out!

Have you been following along with your own Benefit Advent Calendar? Have you used any of these products before? Do you have any questions about the products in this post? Please be sure to let me know in the comments section below!

 

This is not a sponsored post.

December 3, 2014
by Nikki9Dorz
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“My Precioussssss” or “The Nikki 9Dorz Holy Grail of Adult Advent Calendars”

It is no secret that I love Christmas, and we all know that the anticipation leading up to a long awaited event can be almost as fun as the actual day itself, especially if you get creative in the way that you execute the big count down.

As a kid I loved ripping open one of the tiny cardboard doors of my  Advent calendar each December morning to reveal the tiny chocolate hidden behind it, and as that sweet treat slowly melted on my tongue I  would quietly savour the knowledge that as of this moment I was that much closer to my favorite day of the year! While I still do think that a chocolate a day is a pretty brilliant way to count down to, well, just about anything, there are many companies cashing in on our generation’s love of nostalgia, and creating high-end Advent calendars that appeal to adult tastes and sensibilities. On October 24th B.C.’s own Phillips Brewing Company announced the return of its popular Snowcase Calendar which features 24 different delicious Phillip’s beers, some of which are only currently available through this seasonal promotion. And if the treat of a delicious craft beer a day is not enough awesomeness, this year the Snowcase experience is enhanced by a companion website where Phillips fans who are lucky enough to snag one of these limited edition cases can go each morning (hey, it’s Christmas…no judging) to get the backstory on the beer of the day and share their own thoughts about it with their fellow festive drinkers. If beer is not your thing, then perhaps think about heading over to Starbucks where they have released a pretty nifty Advent calendar of their own that uses 24 re-usable, magnetic tins to hide each day’s treat. All of the tins comes stuck to a small chalkboard that you can re-purpose as a message board once the holidays are over. While coffee, chocolate, and beer all rank highly on my list of personal favorite things I have to admit that my heart came close to a full stop around this time last year when I was blissfully strolling through my local Sephora and came upon a beautiful pink box emblazoned with the logo of one of my favorite beauty brands, Benefit, and 24 of those familiar cardboard doors marked clearly on the front. Sadly though, my already failing heart was quickly smashed into a million tiny pieces as the reality sunk in that the Nikki 9Dorz Holy Grail of Advent Calendars was now completely sold out, both in store and online! Gaaahhhh!!!!!! While not as in-your-face as Urban Decay , or as bold and brassy as Too Faced, many perceive Benefit, with its pink packaging and sweet themed graphics, as a brand that is also geared towards a younger market, yet my personal experience with their products has actually revealed them to be perfect for the needs of more mature faces. One of the areas where this brand really has it nailed down is their wide array of primer products, a step that is crucial when putting together a party worthy look for ladies over 40. Whether you are seeking a soft, dewy glow or prefer a more matte complexion, Benefit has a primer that can help you lock down your look for a price that is considerably lower than higher end luxury brands. After experiencing such a devastating heartbreak  last year I swore that there was no way in hell that I was going to find myself without one of those gorgeous pink boxes this time around, so shortly after Halloween I began trolling the magical interwebs for any indication of the release date for this year’s calendar, and behold…

Benefit Advent Calendar

“My Precioussssssssss”

 

As many ladies over the age of 40 are not regular users of the Benefit line, and I love to share my experiences with products that I adore, next Sunday will mark the beginning a series here at Nikki Nikki 9Dorz featuring a reveal and review of each of the items found in the calendar that week. To ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the fun be sure to sign up to receive emails that let you know when a new post is up, and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. In the upcoming weeks I will be ramping up the frequency of posts both here and on these other platforms, so be sure to look out for sneak peeks of items from the calendar…

Benefit Advent Calendar - December 1st Beauty Treasure

Like This! Pink and Magenta, Heart-Shape Paperclips on December 1st!

  …tips on cool events that are happening around the city this month, and perhaps maybe even be a giveaway! (*wink) So stayed tuned, and be sure to jump into the conversation! Have you come across your own Holy Grail of Advent calendars? Share your own favorites in the comments section!

This is not a sponsored post.

November 26, 2014
by Nikki9Dorz
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“Merry Christmas from Me and Matthew McConaughey, Bitches!”, or “Fun Filled Christmas Events in Vancouver, for the Adult in All of Us”

Me: “Hey Babe, do you wanna come to the Candytown event in Yaletown with me on Saturday?”
The BF: “Ummmm nooooo.”
Me: “But Christmas. Is. Coming!!!”
The BF: Silence
Me: “It says there will be booze?!?!”
The BF: “I’m in!”

Sadly, this verbal exchange is presented with very little hyperbolic affectation.

You see, I LOVE Christmas, which is a pretty ballsy declaration for a childless woman in her 40’s, as it has the tendency to cue emphatic declarations from well meaning folks who feel the need to insist that they did not know the meaning of Christmas until little (insert name of offspring here) came along. This in turn cues me to tag them in every Facebook status for the next month that declares what a fabulous time I am having drinking a lovely bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir at a fabulous wine bar on a Wednesday night with (insert name of their celebrity crush here). Okay, maybe there was a wee bit of hyperbole applied there, but I digress.

As I dragged my very patient yet forlorn BF down Mainland Street last Saturday (you see the event organizers failed to update their website, and alas, there was no Candyland Cocktail tour this year), I began to think that there has to be a way to tailor one’s own experience at such holiday events so that Christmas crazy adults such as myself can celebrate on our own terms, in ways that do not always have to revolve around the kiddos.

So whether you are childless and looking for ways to celebrate this season, or you are a parent looking for event ideas that will allow you to be footloose and Olaf free for an evening or two over the holidays, here is a list of my favorite holiday happenings in Vancouver, all with a Nikki 9Dorz twist!

Christmas in Vancouver

US Thanksgiving Dinner

Long before Black Friday became the door busting, violence ridden brouhaha that we have come to know it as today, a family tradition saw me spending the last Thursday/weekend of November (aka American Thanksgiving) in Seattle, and this adopted holiday will forever mark the official start of the Christmas season for me.

If you want to kick off the holidays by celebrating along with neighbours to the south you don’t have to brave the border line ups and suck up the current crappy currency exchange rate in order to get your own piece of drool worthy turkey action. While not widely advertised, on November 27th the Gramercy Grill will offer a scrumptious three course, fixed price, Thanksgiving dinner that is a great way to kick off the season in an intimate and sophisticated atmosphere which is perfect for a mid-week date night or an evening out with friends.

Reservations are required so be sure to call and reserve your spot for tomorrow night ASAP!

Peak of Christmas – Grouse Mountain

Granted, there are a lot of family oriented activities once you step off the gondola, but with that said there are many ways that you can customize your adventure to ensure that it has a grown up feel, while not missing out on any of the Christmas themed good times.

Even if you do choose to brave the kid riddled chaos that is the outdoor skating pond, or opt to take in a family focused presentation by the Reindeer Rangers (because seriously, who does not want to get up close and personal with a reindeer?), a perfect anchor for the day is to lock down a reservation for the fixed price Christmas lunch at Grouse Mountain’s only 5 star dining venue, The Observatory. Entrees such as Parsley and Ricotta Gnocchi and Nori Cured Salmon offer pretty reasonable insurance (not to mention the $55 a person price tag) that most families with a pack of young ‘uns in tow will not be choosing this venue as their go to lunch spot, thereby providing you with an adult friendly refuge in which to enjoy a festive holiday meal.

The Peak of Christmas 2014 begins on November 28th, but please note that Christmas lunch is only offered from December 1 to 24, and reservations are required.

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden: 30th Anniversary

While their website boasts nightly gnome performances, shadow puppet shows, and photos with Santa, don’t let that scare you away from venturing out to experience this dazzling display.

Simply put, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is HUGE, and with over a million lights adorning the greenery you can easily stroll around the grounds at your own pace, avoiding the highly congested, family themed areas, and enjoy the display on your own terms.

With that said, the one high traffic area you do not want to skip is the garden’s gift shop. Many of the items carry a steep price tag, but their seasonal products are absolutely gorgeous and will be sure to offer some upscale inspiration for your own holiday decorating plans.

The Festival of Lights is open from Wednesday, December 10, 2014 to Sunday, January 4, 2015, (closed on Christmas Day) and with this year being the 30th anniversary of the event I cannot wait to see what they have in store for visitors this year.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Several varieties of warm hooch, the sweet and savory aromas of freshly cooked meat and baked goods mingling together in the crisp, winter air AND Christmas dazzle as far as the eye can see? Are you kidding me right now? Seriously, this place is my personal version of Christmas paradise!

For a more mature market experience simply side step the carousel action, grab your mug of traditional Glühwein, and take a few minutes to map out your culinary game plan before diving into the stalls. Every year the food vendors consistently step up their game, and you want to make sure that you reserve some valuable real estate in your gullet for all your faves!

In order to avoid meet and greets with Santa or similar moth-to-a-flame, children riddled attractions be sure to check the performance schedule when planning your visit to make sure that the action lined up for the gazebo stage is not going to cramp your Feuerzangenbowle guzzling style.

The Vancouver Christmas Market is open from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm from now until December 23rd, and from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm on December 24th.

 

Remember,  even though many Christmas activities are focused on the young, they should also be enjoyed by the young at heart.

 

DSC_6819

Do you have a favorite Christmas event where you add your own adult twist? Please share your own traditions with the Nikki Nikki 9Dorz community in the comments section below!

 

May 31, 2014
by Nikki9Dorz
1 Comment

“Thinnnnerrrr”, or, Yelp Is Your New Best Friend!

“What do you wanna do?”

“I don’t know…what do YOU wanna do?”

Let’s face it, we have all been there. Whether it be trying to figure out where you want to go for a quick, mid-week meal, or deciding how you want to celebrate a momentous event like a milestone birthday, all of us at one time or another has sat, slack-jawed, staring blankly at another human being, internally cursing them for being such an indecisive asshole that they cannot even articulate what they feel like eating, like, within the next half hour (pffft…seriously?!?!), all the while of course being completely oblivious to the fact that we also have no idea what or where the hell we want to eat either.

Unfortunately, in my experience, these instances grow more frequent, and at times more volatile, as one gets older. I am not sure if this is because our taste buds become more refined, significantly limiting the acceptable “go to” options that were once so much a part of our basic survival skills that our 21 year old selves, even when sloppy drunk at 3:00 am, knew the exact location of every 24 hour by-the-slice pizza joint and fast food outlet within a 15 block radius, or, if these innate abilities, like so many others, sadly simply diminish with age.

Perhaps as we get longer in the tooth Mother Nature expects us to have the hunter/gatherer shiz all locked down, and assumes that if we have lived this long we must have acquired the requisite skills to ensure that we are both adequately fed and sufficiently entertained, at the very least to a level where we are not putting Stephen King-like revenge curses on our friends and loved ones simply because they cannot decide whether they want to go out dancing or for Dim Sum.

On the other hand, perhaps we have just gotten lazy in the wake of having so many choices and such a high level of convenience laid at our feet by the magical interwebs?

Regardless of either of these possibilities, I have compiled a list of simple steps that will ensure you never again have to suffer the consequences of bad karma racked up from wishing that your BFF develop lizard-like scales over their entire body as a result of your code red hanger levels and/or their indecisive assholedry.

1. The main factor that contributes to the success of an evening out is engaging in an activity that you really like to do.

If you don’t really care for sushi, admit it, even if you find something on the menu you will eat you know that this choice completely    obliterates the possibility that you are going to have a stellar meal. Life is way too short, so if given the first world luxury of choice why not pick a restaurant that serves a type of food that you really love. Ask yourself what your favorite type of food is, take that answer, and move on to step two.

2. Find an atmosphere you are comfortable doing that activity in.

Maybe you really love dancing (hellz knows that I do), but if you did not enjoy the downtown club scene at 22, you sure as heck are not going to dig it at 40+. It will take less than 5 minutes of mind melting dubstep beats and one trip to the bathroom to realize that no matter how much you love shaking your groove thing, the Red Room is not the place for you to do it. Define your comfort zone, admit to the style of music that caused you to rack up that $500.00 chiropractic bill after slipping in the shower during your epic, one night only dance show, and find a place that spins those tunes!

3. Find your Homies!! AKA, Yelp is your new best friend!

Vancouver is as diverse as all get out, so unless your thing is observing nocturnal marsupials from the southern hemisphere by light provided exclusively from headlamps fueled with authentic, Victorian era candle wax, chances are you are going to find a place that you will feel comfortable in, doing the thing that you really love to do.

Yelp is da bomb, and has helped me and the bf find the best breakfast food in Kamloops, British Columbia, (*waves at Hello Toast!), and the raddest little jazz club in Portland , Oregon (*high fives Jimmy Mak’s for their amazeballs Etta James tribute, on the weekend of my 40th birthday, no less). Think old school yellow pages, but with reviews, and ratings, and stuff.

If this little app can serve me that well abroad, imagine what it can do in our own hometown! If you are unfamiliar with Yelp and want a quick start “how to” lesson that will teach you how to apply the info that you determined through following steps 1 and step 2, take 1 minute and 21 seconds of your life and check out this tutorial.

 

photo (1)

 

Have you had success with Yelp at home, or abroad? Or perhaps your thing is observing nocturnal marsupials from the southern hemisphere by light provided exclusively from headlamps fueled with authentic, Victorian era candle wax and you want to rip me a new one for so quickly dismissing your niche hobby? Either way, I would love to hear from you in the comments section, below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2014
by Nikki9Dorz
0 comments

Re-Boot: Nikki 9Dorz + Vancity = True Love 4-Ever!

Sooooo, hog jowls…what can I tell you? Basically, they are pretty gross. You can place them on top of a fancy cracker comprised solely of rare seeds harvested from the depths of an ancient, untouched rainforest, cover them with a finishing sauce made from the finest red wine that money can buy, and serve them in a room that costs more to rent for one evening than many people spend on housing for an entire year. None of these things change the fact that when all is said and done hog jowls have the same texture and aroma as the fat that clung to the edges of the shrivelled up, Super Valu sourced pork chops that my grandma used to serve at Sunday dinners, circa 1978.

Anyone who follows my Instagram and Twitter feeds knows that I am very privileged in that I have a very active social life, and I am extremely fortunate to have found a partner who has the same drive and desire to eat, drink and celebrate their way through the rest of their lives as I do. As a result of our many food, beverage, and travel centered adventures I have found myself, at the ripe “old” age of 40, involved in a mad, passionate love affair with the fair city of Vancouver, and for the first time in my life I am actually getting out there and really getting a piece of all of the amazing people, places and events that this city has to offer. This, as you may have guessed, includes events that serve hog jowls. Mlech!

In addition to this, many who know me personally are aware of the fact that despite having settled into a life that is everything I could ever want it to be, things for me have not always been so joyful. My life course has seen me navigate a large number of abrupt twists and turns, and if these unexpected obstacles have taught me anything, it is that you can set out on a path expecting your journey to deliver a very specific experience, but that does not necessarily mean that this is how the Universe intends to have things play out.

And you know what? I have also learned that in situations such as this, the best thing to do is simply hang on, and roll with it, because in the end, that is where you are really supposed to be.

When I first created Nikki Nikki 9Dorz I did so with the intention that it would serve as a space for me to share and explore both my love of storytelling, and my respect for the power of the written word (for more on this, check out this post here), yet as I progressed through the process of learning how to optimize the capacity and reach of my voice on the magical interwebs I discovered that in addition to telling stories about the crazy things that happen to me, I also have the opportunity to become a champion of the belief that life does not end at 40, and assist in dispelling the myth that if you are over the age of 25 there is nothing for you in the downtown core after 6:00 pm.

While some may maintain that painting the town red is a young(er) woman’s game, I  wholeheartedly disagree, and going forward here at Nikki Nikki 9Dorz, through sharing with you some of the crazy tales of my not-so-everyday life, I hope to pass along some of my own tips, recommendations and life hacks for having an amazing, age-appropriate night out in the city of Vancouver.

True Love, 4-Ever!

True Love, 4-Ever!

Are you excited to learn about fun, age-appropriate things do to in the city of Vancouver for the 40-something crowd? Do you have a favorite haunt that you would like to share with the Nikki Nikki 9Dorz community? Please let me know in the comments below!

May 4, 2014
by Nikki9Dorz
2 Comments

Does the YBC Accept Canadian Tire Money?

When I was a little kid growing up in the 70’s I used to have an obsession with stationery stores.

Even before I could write a proper sentence I remember begging to spend any birthday money received from relatives not on toys, but on all kinds of ruled notebooks, colorful folders, and smooth writing, medium tip, ball point pens. I recall returning home from many a summer shopping trip with my grandparents, pulling out the dusty old Singer sewing machine from its corner of exile in the kitchen, and setting up a small ersatz desk with all of my purchases laid out carefully in front of me, ready to “work”.

The adults in my family, although used to my eccentricities (ok, I will say it, I was a little weird) were initially confused, they eventually came to the conclusion that I was playing “office”, or perhaps even “store”. The latter theory was added when I reached the age of 7 or 8, and started getting really ambitious. It was at that time that I began taking the large stack of Canadian Tire money that my grandpa always kept on a special shelf by the kitchen sink, carefully counting it, and then adding it to the top drawer of my sewing machine/desk before I began my day’s “work”.

As a creative only child I was quite used to having my intentions misunderstood by the grown-ups, so I decided early on not to waste my time with correcting their misinterpretation…and truth be told, I really dug having control over my own little secret.

You see, despite what the adults thought, I did not love visiting those stores because they sold office supplies that would allow me to practice becoming the best secretary that the world had ever seen. I loved those stores because they were filled with the tools I needed in order to WRITE! The smell of crisp, bleached paper and thick, black ink made me swoon as only a little kid can because I knew that with these things I could create my own stories, just like the ones that I read in any of the books that I could get my hands on.

Even at a very young age I knew that with these simple tools came the power to create worlds for myself that existed far beyond my small, sometimes frightening reality, and as a scared, lonely and bullied little kid the stories and plays that I wrote in those piles of notebooks were worth more to me than any of the dozens of Barbie dolls and tea sets that I ever owned.

Fast forward 30 years and I now find myself in a very different place. First of all, against all odds, I am very, very happy. Secondly, as I once again find myself setting up a makeshift desk in a small, dusty corner in preparation to write, the stories that I wish to tell now are not the tales of fantasy which I used to escape into as a child, but instead they are the real stories from my not-so-everyday life…because if growing up has taught me anything, it is that the truth can be stranger, and sometimes much more awesome, than fiction.

Oh, but wait…what was I using the Canadian Tire money for, you ask?

Well, once again I was a child of the 70’s, and while I did spend a lot of time reading I also had a second love, and that was the television. TV taught me many things over the years, but primarily I learned that if I ever wanted to have a glass of Chardonnay with Jack and Chrissy down at The Regal Beagle a modern woman was going to have to pay her own way…so my writing gig had to pay me something, didn’t it?

 

YBC blog photo

 

Uhmmmm, now that I am “back in business” do you think that the YBC accepts Canadian Tire money?