Urbandig’s Locavore Tour with Anthony Nicalo, CEO of Foodtree

On Friday, August 19 (on Day 3 of Grow Conference), I joined Anthony Nicalo, the CEO of Foodtree, on his “Locavore” tour for the Urbandig iPhone App, along with about 10 other hungry individuals, to experience some unpretentious, but gourmet food, in and around Gastown, Chinatown, and Railtown.

I must disclose that I am a bit biased in thinking that Urbandig is ridiculously awesome (you can download the app for free HERE), because I was lucky enough to work with the masterminds behind it for the past few months. You can read more about the app here. And if you try it out and love it, I’m sure they would appreciate a quick review from you, too!

Our crew roaming the streets of Gastown.

This was my first tour experience using the Urbandig app, and it was absolutely fantastic. All of the restaurants and cafes we visited were so accommodating, and the food we ate along the way was world class. This post will be a bit photo-rich, but it’s the only way to convey how superbly gluttonous this tour was.

Here we go.

Stop #1. Save On Meats

twitter: @saveonmeats

We had the breakfast poutine. It’s like most poutines, except it has a poached egg on top. It’s far more tasty than you would expect. We had the half order, since our day was going to be filled with other rich and delicious food, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.

We were also given a full tour of the Save On building, which not only includes the diner and the deli next door, but FOUR floors of amazingness. Walk-in ovens, ice cream machines, a resident artist, as well as a meat service and a linen service for surrounding businesses in Gastown. Incredible.

Stop #2. Everything Cafe

twitter: @everythingcafe

At Everything Cafe, we stopped for a quick Stumptown Macchiato. If you’re a fan, or if you have not yet tried Portland’s popular roast, try it here. You won’t be disappointed. It was also the perfect little pick-me-up to continue on the rest of the tour.

Stop #3. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop

twitter: @biglousbutcher

Here at Big Lou’s, we talked to the owner, who gave us some background and history on the shop, and they made us a Banh Mi sandwich, which we ate at their quaint bistro down the street, “Two Chefs and a Table,” which is owned by the same 2 chefs as Big Lou’s. We may have also had a beer. It was hot out. I should also add – I think this was my favourite stop. I am now forever a fan of Banh Mi.

Stop #4. The Irish Heather

twitter: @theirishheather

Steak pot pie and a Guiness. I don’t know if you can get any more Irish than that. Or more stuffed. Simple and delicious. I honestly wish I could have eaten more.

Stop #5. Meat and Bread

twitter: @1meatandbread

As if we weren’t full enough already, the next stop was at Meat and Bread. But not for your typical sandwich. No, we had a Maple Bacon Ice Cream Sandwich, made with real Canadian maple syrup and local happy-pig bacon ice cream. Soooo yummy. (P.S. The view behind the counter isn’t too shabby either. You’ll notice that there are a lot of women eating here at lunch time, and I don’t think it’s the carbs that they’re after.)

Stop #6. Salt Tasting Room

twitter: @salttastingroom

At least at this point, we got a bit of a break. Our next stop was Salt, where we sampled a taste of some locally cured meats and cheeses. I had the Chevre (goat cheese) with Apricots, and Con Aglio (salami) with Piccalilli Relish. We also sampled some BC wine, La Frenz from Naramata. The Manager at Salt came and spoke to our table, and told us a little about what we were eating and drinking. I loved the personal touch everywhere we went.

Stop #7. Judas Goat

twitter: @thejudasgoat

A few short hops down Blood Alley, and we came to Judas Goat. Apparently they have the best selection of sherry in Vancouver, so of course we had to try some. We also had some pinxtos (tapas-style dishes), which I was unable to eat because of my silly allergy. If I could have, I would have eaten it all. Clams and mussels. They looked heavenly. I dug into the haricots verts, though. I loved the vibe at Judas Goat.

Stop #8. The Diamond

twitter: @gastowndiamond

If you’re looking for a place with great cocktails, Diamond is the place. They even run a bartending school by day. They take their cocktails pretty seriously. We had something called the Water Buffalo. I don’t remember what was in it, but it was refreshing, to say the least. They also served us a Nicoise Salad. Anthony’s tip was to choose from either the food menu or the cocktail menu, but not both, and ask for a pairing from the other. You just have to be wiling to try something new.

Ultimately, this is what the tour was all about. For many of us, we hadn’t tried out some of these places, or if we had, we got to try something on the menu that we probably never would have ordered.

I’m not a very fussy eater. Once upon a time I was, and I think I was just missing out on way too much. This day, filled with some of the best food and drink I’ve experienced in a long time, paired with the most excellent company, was a very, very memorable day. So thank you, to Urbandig, and to Anthony of Foodtree, for opening up my eyes a little wider, and exposing me to just SOME of the gems that Vancouver has to offer.


Why I Love HootSuite (And Why I Want to Work There)

I love HootSuite. And if you use social media and don’t already love them too, you WILL.

I use HootSuite, along with many of the “geeks” I know, to manage my different social media accounts, but I mainly use it for Twitter and Facebook Pages. So, I thought I’d throw together a totally unordered, no-ulterior-motives-at-all list of what makes them awesome, and why I love them.


HootSuite is Vancouver born and bred, by the smart people at Invoke Media.


HootSuite University. HootSuite Training? Webinars? If you’re a social media noob, this is for you. But hey, even us seasoned professionals can use a little training now and again, too.


They are always trying to make HootSuite better. That’s pretty great, isn’t it? And who better to listen to, than the people who use it?


The HootSuite Mascot. He’s adorable. And have you seen all of the International Owly mascots, or just the ones in different guises?

It’s a toss-up, but I think my two all-time faves are: Hawaiian Owly and Snowboarder Owly. Here’s hoping I see Owly at Hootup one day soon.


Guys like Dave Olson and Ryan Holmes. If you are going to a tech conference in the near future, chances are you are going to see at least one of these guys speak. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see Holmes speak, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see Olson speak at a few different events, and he is like no other speaker I’ve ever seen. Sometimes he even brings a bag (or suitcase) full of tricks!

Their Office

I haven’t been to it, but I’ve seen a few pictures of it. I love the mural in the entry way.

Hootsuite Office
Photo by sandkat on Flickr.

I think I want to ride my bike there. Every. Day. And hang out with all of the other Owls. (Are you picking up what I’m dropping down?)

Well, that’s it. There are a million other reasons I could mention that make HootSuite awesome, like secure profilesauto-initialing for accounts with multiple users, or the reply-all function for Twitter, but this list was way more fun. And why spoil the surprise, when you can learn about all those things at HootSuite University?

Thanks for reading,


(All Owly images are from http://blog.hootsuite.com/)

Public Speaking Isn’t So Bad After All

It’s been a very long time since I last had to do a presentation in front of people, either at school, or at work. I used to have to do them all the time, not that I enjoyed it one bit.

I go to a lot of conferences, or “unconferences” in Vancouver, but I have never built up the courage to stand up in front of people and just TALK. No way, no how.

So when my friend Brianna asked me (along with my good friend Jerra) to emcee her upcoming wedding, I thought, erm…. well… okay. Because this was different. People didn’t expect me to be an expert on something, and I didn’t have to wow them with my research, or my opinion on some obscure topic. Being a Master of Ceremonies (or Mistress, rather?) is pretty simple, since the itinerary is laid out in advance, and in full detail for you. So, we both agreed to do it, even though I may be considered as the “emotional one” and Jerra is the one with anxiety.

We’re funny, we thought.


Jerra, the bride Brianna, and Myself

Well the time came and went so quickly, I felt I barely had time to prepare. Everything ultimately went off without a hitch, and there was a point when I was saying my few opening words about the newly married couple, where I heard, and even felt, I swear, the entire room, say a collective “Aaawwww…” I immediately had this rush of confidence and thought, “They’re eating it up! I can’t believe it!” They even laughed a few times, too. Who would have thought?

So I guess that’s my point, that public speaking may not be so bad after all. It’s not as terrifying as I remembered it, anyhow. I think I feel as if I’m back in the saddle, so to speak, and possibly ready to take on another challenge. A small one.

Weekend Photography Workshop at VPW

This weekend I took part in an intensive weekend photography workshop at Vancouver Photo Workshops (VPW). Key word – Intensive. Our classes were Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm with an hour break for lunch, and not a moment was spared to pack our brains full of photography knowledge.

I signed up for the course with my friend Jerra. She received a DSLR camera as a wedding gift from her husband, and was wanting to really learn how to use it, rather than just defaulting to shoot in Auto all of the time. (Even though there is nothing wrong with that! They do make Auto for a reason.)

I have been attempting to shoot with a DSLR for a couple of years now, and recently upgraded from a Pentax K100D to a Nikon D90, but I still didn’t feel completely comfortable behind my camera. I wanted to know the ins-and-outs of my Nikon, be able to confidently shoot in manual mode, or to choose whichever exposure priority necessary, whenever my little heart (or eye) desires to.

I was concerned that the workshop might be a bit too basic for me, that I would be itching to move ahead into the more complex stuff, but I found myself loving every second of it. Our instructor, Aura McKay, was one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met. It’s obvious that she truly loves what she does for a living, and she is able to effortlessly captivate an entire room full of eager newbie photographers. At one point, on the second day of the workshop, when speaking to us about creative composition, I almost wanted to stand up and clap at the end of her rant. Her attitude about photography is absolutely infectious.

Aura McKay
Aura McKay

Day 1

We covered the basics of exposure – aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and choosing the correct, or creating a custom, white balance. We did an exposure workshop in the studio, and worked on all of these things – getting our whites white, and our blacks black. We took so many shots of these set-ups that I am quite happy to never have to look at them again! But all in all, it was great practice.

VPW Workshop exercise

VPW Workshop exercise

Day 2

Aura talked about depth of field, basic composition theory, different lenses and when and why we use them, and lighting! We did a depth of field exercise in the studio again, then right before lunch we took off for a photowalk, to try and use all of the things we had learned – white balance, depth of field, composition – yay! My photos from the walk are not all that exciting, so I’ll spare you.

After lunch, we basically spent three whole hours shooting models in the studio in different settings under different lighting. We even shot one of the models outside. At the end of it, I think my brain and my creativity were completely tapped, but I was pretty happy with some of my shots from the afternoon session.

The rest of my photos from the session can be seen on Flickr.














Needless to say, I will happily enroll in another VPW class, after a little more tinkering and practice behind the lens. As Aura quoted many times during our workshop: “If you want to be a photographer, take a picture. If you want to be a better photographer, take another picture.” And so on and so forth. Now, excuse me… but I have to go take some pictures.

The Switch from Pentax K100D to Nikon D90

A few years ago, I won a Pentax K100D, my first DSLR (like Mother, like Daughter!), and that is when I started to fall in love with photography. I didn’t know a thing at first, except for maybe the rule of thirds, but I happened to take decent pictures now and again without even really trying. I taught myself, along with a little help from my brother Jordan, how to use my new camera.

I’ve had a few years with it now, and while I did love my Pentax and get to know it really well, I felt it was really just my “learning camera,” and I was ready to move on to something bigger and better. As we all know, there’s quite the debate over Canon vs. Nikon. I do happen to be a Canon fan; my point-and-shoot is a Canon and I love it. But most of the photographers I know, when asked for advice on what kind of camera to buy, usually suggest buying the same brand of camera as someone you know so that you can share gear with each other. Jordan has the Nikon D80, and has been whispering in my ear for some time that if I want to upgrade, I should go for the D90, probably because he wants to have access to one! It made sense, though. We would be able to share lenses or other gear quite easily, and he could show me the ins and outs of the camera.

Buying the D90 brand new right now was out of my price range, but I still really wanted it. Well, it just so happened that the other day, someone I know mentioned on twitter that he was thinking of making the switch from the Nikon D90 to the Canon 5D Mark II, for video purposes. That got my attention, so I asked if he was going to be selling the D90. Turns out he was, along with 3 lenses, a flash, an 8GB memory card, and a camera bag – all for a very good deal. I was sold.

So today, I have in my hands a new-to-me Nikon D90 camera that I can’t wait to experiment with and learn more about. I haven’t used it much yet, but I took it with me on a recent trip to Powell River for Thanksgiving dinner with the family, and I snapped a few photos. Thank you especially to my good friend and favourite hairdresser Stacey, for being such a good sport! This camera will probably be in your face quite a bit in the near future. That goes for the rest of you, too. If you thought I took a lot of photos before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

My Olympics Project: The Olys

For the past few weeks, I have been doing some contract work at AdHack. It started out as an internship, and I was to write some case studies on the results of past clients who had used AdHack’s services, but it turned into something more.

The Olys

When the case studies were almost finished, James suggested doing an Olympic ad contest over the course of the Olympics and asked me if I was interested in running it. Of course, I agreed. I thought it was a fantastic idea. So that is how the Oly Awards came to be.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Flickr Group of Ads

The first thing we did was start a Flickr group to collect some of the advertising surrounding the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. There was a ton of advertising around town, far before the Olympics even started. We organized a photowalk to get some of the initial photos in the pool. Our goal on the day of the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics was to have 50+ members and 500+ photos. We wanted to make sure there were enough people interested in the Olympics ads project, and would be willing to submit their photos. Well, we rocked it. The Flickr group now has over 80+ members and 800+ photos.

The Brands

I started writing a blog post or two a day during the Olympics on the major brands that were Official Sponsors of Vancouver 2010. We got some feedback from some of those brands too, which was great!

The Photo Contest

The next step was creating a photo contest at OlympicAdAwards.com. We set up a Strutta-powered contest for people to submit their best photos of Olympic Advertising. Our goal was to get 100 entries by the submission deadline. We got 115 entries and knocked it out of the park again.

The Judging

We enlisted some great judges to help us out with choosing the Best Brand and the Best Photo. They were:

We gave them a detailed scorecard to fill out on each of the brands. They are all Vancouverites, but they also had our Flickr group of Olympic ads for a resource in their judging. By the way, a HUGE thank you to the Judges who took the time out of their day to do this for us. They gave great feedback in the comments on some of the brands as well.

The Prizes

The 2 Prizes we sourced out to give to the winners, were original artwork by local Vancouverite Rachael Ashe. She alters books and turns them into the most unique and stunning pieces of art. The Best Brand was to receive “Swimming in a Sea of Words,” and Best Photo was to receive “The Butterfly Effect.”

The Winners

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In the end, it was a tight race, but Coca-Cola with their Open Happiness campaign beat out the Hudson’s Bay Company by three points! Congratulations Coca-Cola, you did a fine job.

For Best Photo, there were 10 finalists chosen by public voting, from the 115 entries. In the end, Kim Werker‘s photo of the Hudson’s Bay Company won the popular vote. Congratulations Kim!

View AdHack’s announcement on the blog, or view the official press release.

Well, that’s that. My Olympic project has come and gone. It was a blast, and so interesting to see what developed over the 17 days of the Olympics. Not only in regards to local, national, and worldwide advertising, but in being a Canadian, and a proud Vancouverite, and witnessing the best party Vancouver has ever thrown. I am so lucky to have taken this role and to have been a part of the Olympics while they were here in Vancouver in 2010. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

And now… a new adventure? I think so!

O Canada!

In honour of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games coming to Vancouver, I thought I should do a blog post somewhat dedicated to the event. I’m getting pretty amped for the Games to start in February, and I thought this might help some of those people who maybe aren’t that excited about the Olympics (yet).

I have had this version of O Canada by Classified running through my head for the past month – I blame my brother Wes, because he posted the link to it on twitter. I downloaded it too, so I hear it on my iPod every once in awhile while I am commuting to and from work on the bus. Nothing gets me pumped up more than hearing O Canada. I’ve always liked it; it gives you a feeling of pride, or even a bit of a chill when you hear it, especially before a hockey game.

I have another version of O Canada in my iTunes by Big Sugar, an instrumental version. This got me thinking, “I wonder how many versions of O Canada I can find.. just on YouTube?” Well, there are a ton, but these are the ones I narrowed down to being the coolest, and most share-worthy.

First things first, here is the one by Classified. I bet it’s going to be stuck in your head, too.

The instrumental version by Big Sugar (the only one with good sound quality I could find):

O Canada – a rock version by the DuBay Band

Sung ‘a cappella’ by a group of boys called the Hojas:

Sarah McLachlan at a Montreal Expo’s game in 1996:

Deborah Cox at the NBA All-Star game in 2008:

Canadian Idol Eva Avila at the Grey Cup in 2006:

We need at least one French/English version, so the obvious choice is Celine Dion (she screws it up at the end!), but there’s no real video, just a bunch of pictures. Boo. It’s all I could find.

And just for fun – Stompin Tom Connors’ Hockey Song, because I’m in that kind of mood:

There you have it folks. Some pretty awesome versions of our National Anthem! Get ready to sing it, and sing it proud in the next couple of weeks, because I’m guessing you might hear it a few times.

Tell Ten Friends. Do it.

A little while ago I told you about working for my brother Wes, and doing his marketing, well, I’m also working with my brother Jordan at Tell Ten Friends. I know. It’s complicated. But our family makes a really great team. It’s not always a “great minds think alike” situation, but we all bring something valuable to the table and we work well together.

At Tell Ten Friends, we help small businesses with their marketing and social media. There’s a whole list of services that we provide, and can tailor just for you. We also teach you how to do it yourself. Seriously. Check it out. And contact us if you need our help.

Ta Ta for now.

Granville Island Night Photowalk

After a pretty lame Saturday, I decided that I better do something productive with my Sunday. So I did. I ran 10.6km at Burnaby Lake with my good friends Liz and Di, and I went for a walk and did some shopping with my friend Sheralyn downtown, taking photos all along the way. I felt like I had been neglecting my camera lately, so I made a promise to myself take it with me more often when I go places. We saw this tree absolutely covered in ladybugs on the way back from our walk. Good thing I had my camera, eh?

So, I had been debating on whether to go on this evening photowalk or not, and finally decided to stop thinking about it and just do it. I’m very glad that I did.

There was a large turnout for it, more than I expected. We met on Granville Island, and there were 3 models there to shoot, which I also wasn’t totally expecting.

I took some shots of one of the models, Barbara, in front of these lights boxes (after some coaxing from Scott) and this is probably my favourite one of the bunch.

Meanwhile, the guys were all shooting using flash triggers, which I don’t have any experience with, but Jeremy loaned me his remote trigger and Peter helped me get the correct settings to get a good shot. He got me to shoot using manual settings, which I’ve never done; I always just shoot in either shutter priority or aperture priority, but this is what these photowalks are for, learning! Below you will see my beautiful subjects for my first “off-camera flash” experience.

Afterwards, we walked around Granville Island a little more and John let me borrow his tripod for some shots. I really have to thank all of these guys. I was pretty intimidated at the beginning, but they sure made me feel welcome. It ended up being a total learning experience for me, and I look forward to more photowalks like this in the future.

Here’s another one of my favourite photos from last night – John showing the models one of the shots on his camera. To view the rest of my photowalk set, click here.