Wednesday, August 28, 2013


When staying at a nice hotel, it's the refined touches that turn it from a 3 star to a 5 star experience.  The friendliness of the people that greet you...not making you feel like a customer but a welcomed VIP guest.  The quality of those little soaps and shampoos (they do say a lot), and the little extras that define a hotel as more than just a bed to sleep's a luxurious getaway.

This year is a special year.  Both my husband's company Delvinia, as well as our marriage, is celebrating it's 15th anniversary, and enjoying luxurious getaways played a large part in how we celebrated those milestones.  There are so many similarities between marriage and business, and I've often joked that his business partner is similar to having a spouse. There is a careful balance of personalities, building on each other's strengths, supporting each other's weaknesses and respecting each other's differences.  Most importantly, it is being determined to stick together through thick and thin...a testament to committing to a common goal which ultimately helps both a marriage and a business thrive through the best as well as endure the most difficult times.

A few weeks ago,  Delvinia hosted a 1950's Havana Style Summer Soiree and staged a "luxury hotel" to celebrate this monumental anniversary.  At this event, I couldn't help but see the similarities of this hotel themed party to having a business and marriage...both with goals of building the best experience, whether it's a customer experience in business or a beautiful experience in our personal life journey.

There were symbolic elements at the party that reflect the parallels of what makes both a business and a marriage solid and long lasting....elements that have helped both Delvinia and our marriage last fifteen years.

It's in the details

The event planners paid extreme attention to little details...thoughtful touches that turned this from a generic, just-go-through-the-motions event to something more personal. From the realistic projection of the ocean at the windows which felt like we were in paradise, not in the middle of the city (the screen image changed from daylight to sunset as the evening progressed), hair and makeup touch-up stations (how thoughtful!), Cuban cigar rolling stations (very cool!) and of course, the subtle "D" (for the Delvinia logo) unobtrusively placed in various locations...small but meaningful touches that is a constant reminder of their presence.  It shows that thought and care went into even the littlest of little kisses that greet you in the morning or a brief touch on the shoulder to indicate you're right there within reach.


Something just for you

There was a delicious, customized signature drink, "La Delvinia Franbruesa", made especially for the guests.   Although this drink may seem like a small detail, I likened it to a little diamond wedding ring, symbolizing something more special...a personal, customized memento to show the importance of commitment to the relationship. Something just between us...that no uninvited guest or bystander can experience.

We're in this together

I was amazed at how many guests participated and dressed according to the theme of the party. Everyone seemed to relish in dressing the part, dressed in white linen and/or lime (the party's signature colours) or 1950's Havana style, and you can feel the energy in the everyone was part of one big family.  Like employees of a company with the same vision, or a family united in love and respect, sharing the same life morals and is this common goal, the significant glue, the bond...that keeps both a business and marriage intact.  Knowing that we're together, whether in person or in spirit.

Fifteen years is a testament to the longevity, the vision and staying power to drive through both prosperous and difficult times.  This is my anniversary wish, for my husband both personally and continue this beautiful, most wonderful and amazing journey together...for many more years to come.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

no s'more

Every summer, we try to explore new experiences, discover new places and learn what our beautiful world has to offer.  Although we had the freedom to reconnect as a family, with a new dog, this year we had to adapt our family activities. Day trips became "half day trips", as leaving a puppy with separation anxiety can leave us with more than we've bargained for.  The search for pet friendly accommodations, restaurants and general activities also changed our vacation plans from tickets for four plus one.  

With signs of summer nearing it's end...back to school commercials filling the airwaves and the CNE now open (the largest annual fair leading up to labour day, a sign that summer is almost over), the restrictions of trying to accommodate the newest member of our household (along with a basement reno) has made summer go by way too fast. It feels like there is still so much more to enjoy.  Now it feels like we're trying to make up for lost time and try to rush all the things we never got around to do.

Early this morning, I peeked into the kids' rooms.  They were still sleeping in late, and they looked so peaceful and well rested.  They weren't groggily trying to wake up to rush out the door.  I started to realize that although there are signs to hurry up and rush back to school, work or whatever, maybe I should look at these signs signs of upcoming quiet moments.  

Now that it gets darker a little sooner, we can enjoy the sunsets earlier and longer.  As bed times start earlier, we can enjoy roasting s'mores by the fire as a dessert, instead of the sugar rush before we sleep.  As the feeling in the air gets crisper, the air isn't as heavy now and we can enjoy biking on the trails a little longer.  As the breeze gets just a few degrees cooler, we can enjoy walking our dog longer, without the a posse of sticky mosquitoes surrounding us.  

As more signs appear...a few colourful leaves peaking through the trees, the signs for local fall fairs standing by the roadside....

...I'll look at them not as a sign of the busy rush of fall schedules, but as a quiet hint of what is around the corner....more little opportunities to enjoy those beautiful special moments.

(makes 12)

For a last minute gathering, I wanted to bring a dessert that is representative of summer.  Nothing says summer like a s'more.  I didn't have any graham crackers left, so I altered this recipe and mixed peanut butter with the chocolate and used an oreo-like cookie wafer instead of the graham crackers.  The kids loved it...and I loved that it took less than 20 minutes to make.

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (or butterscotch chips)
  • 1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of miniature marshmallows
  • 12 cookie wafers (I used oreo ones...graham crackers work make this a more traditional s'more)
  • Heat the chocolate, peanut butter and butter slowly on low heat in a saucepan.
  • Remove from heat when the chocolate is almost melted. Stir until melted.
  • Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, put liners in a muffin tin, and place the cookie wafers on the bottom.  
  • Lightly toss marshmallows in the chocolate mixture until coated.
  • Scoop approximately 1 tablespoon or so into the muffin tins.
  • Chill until firm.  (I had to make this quickly for a last minute gathering, so I put these in the freezer for about 15 minutes until we were ready to leave.  They were refrigerated upon arrival until ready to serve).  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

fall back to summer

A few weeks ago back in July, those dreaded "end of summer" ads started to appear. Is it me or are these ads starting sooner and sooner every year?  Sometimes when I hear those commercials that celebrate the kids going back to school, my heart sinks just a little.

I know the marketing machine is just doing it's job promoting all those autumn specials, but sometimes I think that this message is just a little too...soon.  The days are still long.  The sun (although unpredictable in it's appearance and intensity this year) still greets us brightly in the morning, and settles us with a soft glow late into the night.

August is only the halfway mark and there is still so much more freedom to explore.  There is still so much time left to walk through nature, spending carefree time with friends and connecting with family.

I wish the corporate world would catch up with the real world and learn to slow down.  To stop rushing us back to busy schedules, pumpkin decor and scary costumes (yes, I saw Halloween costumes the other day) and just let us have the time enjoy right now.  To bring us back to...summer.

So I've made a sweet treat that is quick and easy to make, and doesn't require baking (perfect for those remaining hot summer days).   It's my humble way to defy the autumn season and say not right now...we're not ready to go "back to school".  I say let's get back to summer....we're not done just yet.

No Bake Crispy Chocolatey Peanut Bars

  • 2 1/2 cups rice crisp cereal
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 cups peanut butter (smooth is preferable, but crunchy would be interesting!)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (optional, or you can substitute with coconut or other nuts).
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
  • Press firmly into a 9x9 inch pan.
For the Glaze
  • Heat and stir constantly, the chocolate chips and butter in a small pan on low heat.
  • Remove from heat when the chocolate is almost melted.  
  • Continue to stir until smooth and chocolate is completely melted.
  • Spread evenly over the peanut-rice crisp cereal mixture.
  • Let cool and set (you can place these in the fridge).

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

take a dip

Sometimes I believe with all the logistics of managing a household and balancing work and play, that the play part can be easily forgotten.

I have to admit that I sometimes forget that my kids are kids, and that they too have their own personal anxieties ...little "worries" that may seem minuscule on the grand scheme of things to adults, but are real and large to little ones.  Worries like thinking friends will forget them because they haven't seen each other since the end of school...or getting braces before they go back.  Despite all the thrilling summer activities, children too, need some balance from all the noise...a little quiet time to reflect.  

No matter how difficult it is to watch them during their brief moments of anxiety, as a parent I need to remind myself to just let them ride the big waves, and to reassure that a few months from now, their "worries" will just be small ripples in the water.

We continued our summer's "no-schedule" schedule, and just let the sunshine guide us to the calming water...and let it determine if we'll take a huge courageous dive off the pier....

...or just calmly wade in the water.

Drawn to the water for most of our family getaway, we were finally able to get some much needed rest and relaxation, to have fun diving or surfing the waves...or just reflecting on moments of peace and quiet as we dipped our toes in the water.

Easy Fruit Dip

  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping
  • 1 (8 ounce) container Strawberry Banana yogurt (or any flavour of your choosing)
  • In a medium bowl, gently mix the whipped topping and yogurt until just blended.
  • Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.