Tag Archive for 'British Columbia'

Danielle LeBlanc is Poor and Gluten Free in White Rock

in Blogging, British Columbia, food blog, niche blogs and Personal Blog

Poor and Gluten Free

The misconception that healthy food tastes terrible has been proven wrong many times over, but what of the persistent complaint many Canadians make that health food is unaffordable? Danielle LeBlanc is a food blogger in White Rock, British Columbia, who has spent several years perfecting her take on a gourmet, gluten free diet–on a budget. A history buff with a Masters Degree focused on modern Middle Eastern and Egyptian cinema, she runs a small business that designs Middle Eastern dance costumes. When she’s not watching obscure old Egyptian flicks, you’ll likely find her writing about her latest “dangerous kitchen shenanigans,” as her husband likes to call them. “I come from a family of cooks,” says Danielle. “Not professionals, but people who love to make good, healthy food. Even my grandfather–he made a mean buckwheat pancake!”

Gluten Free Beet BreadPoor and Gluten Free chronicles the culinary adventures of a creative spirit who doesn’t let the restrictions of Oral Allergy Syndrome interfere with her prolific outpouring of scrumptious recipes. The blog was born out of her struggle with her condition: “I went through a terrible period where I was very ill,” says Danielle. “I was always exhausted, then hay fever kicked in, so I was stuffy and sneezy all the time. Suddenly I developed hives. I think my body kind of shut down–I got pink eye in both eyes and a sinus infection that was so bad it plugged up my left ear! I was wretched, and with two pink eyes and swollen sinuses I looked as awful as I felt.”

Danielle went to see an allergist and found out she had a gluten allergy, as well as Oral Allergy Syndrome (to learn more about OAS, see her excellent post). Both of these conditions are on the rise; in fact, studies have shown that North Americans today are four times more likely to suffer gluten intolerance than in the 1950s. Suspected reasons for this are the genetic modification and hybridization of the wheat plant, as well as the increase in glutinous substances in a variety of other processed foods.

“After spending a couple of years living on a tight budget while experimenting in the kitchen I felt that I Danielle LeBlanc - Poor and Gluten Freemight have something to offer other people, so they wouldn’t have to suffer as much as I did,” says Danielle.

She was right about having something to offer people. Shortly after getting started as a blogger, the comments started rolling in. People all over the world were trying her recipes and sharing stories about their own experiences living and cooking with OAS. She was also nominated under Best Health Blog in the 2012 Canadian Blog Awards.

“I’ve encountered some wonderful bloggers and readers,” Danielle says. “I also feel that I’ve helped some people learn a thing or two, whether it be cooking gluten free, using scrap fabric or dealing with lettuce allergies. Maybe it’s an ego thing, but it feels good to know that you’ve helped somebody in some small way.”

Making Gluten Free SpaetzleDanielle’s are indeed intended to teach and inform, like the article she posted on Canada Day 2012, entitled Canadian Food 101.

My Sprouted Lentil Bread recipe is the ‘best’ post in terms of traffic,” says Danielle. “It was an early experiment in trying to make cheap, easy gluten free bread…I’m glad so many people have found it helpful!”

 

For sentimental reasons, Danielle’s post on making German Gluten Free Spaetzle is one of her favourites. Her Polish grandfather met her German grandmother after WWII; he had been captured by Nazis and forced to work as a labourer. Her grandparents married and moved to Canada, where they served spaetzle to their children and grandchildren. “Creating this recipe brought back some wonderful childhood memories,” says Danielle. “Gluten free spaetzle is also the #1 search term by far that helps people to find my blog, so I hope it helps bring back good memories for other people, too!”

Writing the blog has also fostered Danielle’s growth as a gluten free cook extraordinaire: “My Gluten FreeGluten Free Ravioli with Squash Ravioli is one of my favourite posts,” she says. “And oh boy is it pride! Gluten free baking can be really tricky, so when my GF ravioli dough made with pureed beets came out perfect the first try I was totally stunned. I felt like I had finally ‘arrived’ as a GF cook. I think [it's] a great demonstration of how far I’ve come since I started my blog.”

Danielle’s plans for her blog’s future include delving deeper into the “…fabulously fascinating yet shockingly time consuming” world of social networking, as well as a new series she’s started on her blog called Waste Not Want Not, and sharing innovative ways to live more sustainably and frugally.

A perfectionist, Danielle is still working on her definition of what makes an ideal blog post. So far, she’s come up with: “I think a good blog post should be informative, accessible, easy to read (or skim as most people do), and maybe even make people chuckle a little.” It’s working for her.

**

NEXT Robert Campbell writes that to find me a dentist near home is an acid test for local search engines. 


Niki Blasina is A Haute Mess in Vancouver

in British Columbia, Fashion Blogger and Vancouver

Niki Blasina write A Haute Mess, fashion blog in Vancouver British Columbia

"It's fashion, and it's fun!" -Niki BlasinaNiki Blasina is a fashion blogger living and working as a freelance writer in Vancouver British Columbia. Her passion for fashion could have taken her to style Meccas like New York or Paris, but she has spread her couture wings and helped build a scene in her own beautiful city. Vancouver has an active textiles, garments industry and many print media and web publishers, and Niki has become a respected local authority on style and fashion; she writes for MTV Canada’s FORA, for Huffington Post Canada as a style blogger, and of course she has her own hit blog.

A Haute Mess is Niki’s fun filled approach to high fashion. She’s got style on page and in her pictures. What’s most interesting about Niki’s blog is how she presents her ideas – she’s got style on style as she blogs in a fun and unpretentious manner; ‘A Haute Mess’ is a blog that stays true to its title. There is plenty of forward-thinking fashion photos for readers to feast their eyes upon, but Niki combines her penchant for profiling trends with an approachable honesty,  earnestly publishing her own anecdotal stores about fashion blunders and the foils that all girls fall prey to: bad hair days, skin irritations and unflattering photographs.

A Haute Mess at home“I started blogging because I was a fan of fashion blogs, and a dear friend and fashion blogger said ‘Why don’t you start your own blog’,” says Niki. But “…the idea of putting pictures of myself on the internet seemed like a horror movie waiting to be written, and was way more narcissism than I could be comfortable with. But I did it anyway!” And she doesn’t regret it. Niki’s blog is stronger because readers can see her wearing the duds and leading the charge. Her posts often acrue twenty or more comments and a great many from other bloggers.

Niki, already a PR representative, found out immediately that writing a blog is a great way to open new doors. Within a year of writing her first post, opportunities were pouring in from all directions: “I owe so much to blogging and A Haute Mess,” she says. “It’s been a life-changing experience for me and I’ve had so many interesting and fun opportunities because of it.”

Niki Blasina as web star on the cover of Flare Magazine

Mixing cool prints with leather

Niki Blasina is profiled in FLARE magazine, February 2012

Niki’s adventures in blogging have connected her to a larger fashion community, and her readers have the pleasure of sharing this new found fame with her. In her recent post Sit DOWN Mayan Calendar: These Fashion Folk have Bigger Plans for 2012, Niki asked some of fashion’s darlings to spill their New Year’s resolutions, giving her readers an inside scoop into the thought processes of some of her contacts in the industry.

Style-wise, Niki likes to try everything–glam, retro, boho, rock ‘n roll–and her readers wait hungrily to see what she’ll be wearing next; in fact, Niki admits that she can’t keep up with requests. Most readers beg to to see her personal style diaries. She features two popular recurring series on her blog, Outfits and Outtakes, “which is basically a self-deprecating blooper reel of my personal style photos,” she says, and Terms in Fashion that Make Me Uncomfortable, “which is a vocab lesson on awkward terminology in fashion.” Of the series she says: “Like most of my blog, they serve as a reminder that fashion doesn’t need to be taken so seriously and that people do need to lighten up! It’s fashion, and it’s fun!”

sunny in hawaii, niki blasina relaxes by the ocean, author, haute messNiki has a Tumblr blog too which she uses like a reader’s digest version of her own domain to highlight her best pictures and call attention to the more significant journalism found there. Her Twitter persona @AHauteMess follows the same strategy but is peppered with celebrity gossip and cute photos and videos and is no doubt the source of some inspiration for her blog.

Niki Blasina, A Haute Mess on Facebook

A Haute Mess is a great resource for fashionistas and fresh apprentices – because its fun and flirty!

“I just want [my blog] to continue growing its audience and get bigger and better!” says Niki. “2012 is going to be a good year for me and me wee blog, and I have a lot of exciting projects in the works that I can’t disclose yet, but I am really looking forward to sharing soon.”


 


The Northern Star in Prince George

in Activism, British Columbia, Culture Blogger, humourist, News Media and Scholar

The Northern Star Magazine, British Columbia, Alternative media print and online publication

Will Lewis, Northern Star Online writer, editor, publisher and daily bloggerWill Lewis is a loud voice, west of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He’s an alternative media print publisher in Prince George, British Columbia, with a well trafficked website and blog. Because storytelling runs in his blood, he writes news, comedy and political satire. His mother was one of the first aboriginal women in all of North America to get a university degree, and he has the same pioneering spirit.

The Northern Star is best categorized as ‘alternative media’, and has one goal – to entertain its readers. Every edition is filled with news stories, folk tales and funny observations. Will, and his wife Cathie, believe their job is to make readers think, smile and feel better about themselves. The Northern Star blog is an effective content repository, where they showcase the best articles and jokes from their weekly publication. Anyone is welcome to respond with their comments. Will says, “We actually began blogging as an afterthought. We first created a printed magazine, developed a readership, and then created the blog to build upon that audience.”

Will and Cathie produce The Northern Star in Prince George, British Columbia, but it’s enjoyed around the world. Even the local political articles, Will's Thoughts on The Northern Star in Prince George British Columbiaespecially Will’s Thoughts, wherein he gets very opinionated about actions and decisions of politicians and government, is enjoyed world wide. Beyond that, there’s plenty of human interest pieces, like the story on Purina’s new TV commercials for dogs, and how Knokkers is played in Missouri. They profiled Leonard George Casley, the independent micro nation known as the Hutt River Principality in Australia, and closer to their home is a fascinating overview of Spotted Lake, a volcanic water body in southern BC, that weeps mineral rich mud in an unusual spotted pattern. Will follows his own passion, and publishes things that makes one think – he shares a growing conviction that ‘We Are E.T.’ (Extraterrestrials) with his readers, in pieces relating facts that challenge the standard belief system regarding the origin of mankind. But don’t misunderstand, The Northern Star is a family friendly publication, that fundamentally respects the diversity of our multicultural world.

The Northern Star, valuing differences, celebrating diversityThe Northern Star is an Aboriginal Owned and Operated Print and Online Publication

Because The Northern Star is physically circulated in print, available online, and directly mailed to thousands of email addresses, Will and Cathie can offer advertisers a variety of different options, different platforms and delivery perspectives. They have more than a dozen long term advertisers, and get good return from their ad network, which speaks volumes about their business acumen. According to Lewis, however, …the biggest obstacle we run into is that many businesses are reluctant to do business with an aboriginally owned and operated company. That’s a fascinating statement, because it makes his own writer’s quest for racial and religious tolerance even more profound.

Unfortunately, Will can’t publish all of his opinionated beliefs, because Cathie is the final filter who won’t allow some of it. When we asked him the worst thing that’s ever happened to him since publishing, he alluded to creative differences with Cathie.

Mel trucker stories truck driver british columbia blog

One of the best things to come from the rise of The Northern Star, is the discovery and promotion of Mel McConaghy, an original voice found in a retired truck driver, who started life as a dyslexic eighth grade dropout, and is now an internationally acclaimed writer. This long journey occurred in part, because of the exposure he receives from his own website, My Life Through A Broken Windshield, Trucker’s Tales From The Road Of Life, which is truncated and published as a weekly column in The Northern Star.

BC truck driver navigates a mountain creek with big tractor trailer

Some terrific examples of Will’s writing occur in Will’s Thoughts, like this favourite, wherein Will confesses to being a belief-o-holic. He writes,

Hi, my name is Will and I am a Belief-o-holic. Beliefs have always been my best friends. I used beliefs to feel better, to ease my pain, and to end my loneliness. Sometimes I believed in public, but most often, I believed alone. I’ve suffered horribly, and caused others to suffer, because of my addiction to beliefs. I put beliefs ahead of my family, friends and community. Beliefs made me do things that I am ashamed of, and almost destroyed my life.

More wisdom in Will’s Thoughts when he writes about the moral ambiguity of the word ‘okay’; he says, …any time that you hear someone say ‘that’s okay’, pay real close attention to how it’s being used.

And this little gem, ‘The Problem With Education’, is a delightful look at a dinner party, where the truth about teachers is revealed to a money grubbing career driven corporate CEO. It’s immensely enjoyable, and like the rest of The Northern Star, it shares a simple mandate to make people smile and give them hope.


Cariboo Ponderer in Northern BC

in British Columbia, Personal Blog and Photography

Cariboo PondererVic GraceVic Grace is an expert on many subjects relating to life in Northern British Columbia. She lives in a very remote, ultra scenic region of Canada; her blog posts are filled with gorgeous VIA Rail quality calendar shots of rock strewn rivers under the Rockie Mountains.

Cariboo Ponderer chronicles the life of Vic Grace, a charismatic sixty year old woman with an enviable life spent sailing, hiking and taking pictures of rare plants and animals found in northern BC.

Vic Grace map interior BCIts obvious from her writing, Vic Grace is enjoying her retirement.  She puts a particular emphasis on time spent with her older husband.  In one post earlier this spring she worries about their health and the prospect of living alone. To reaffirm her independence she recently bought a laptop, and then traveled alone to Calgary.

Vic is a wise woman and speaks with some authority on taxes, travel, kitchenware, nature photography, insurance and municipal politics. She’s an artistic woman and is now collecting beads in preparation for a big necklace? Each entry this month has been an update on her gadgets as she documents her own technological evolution into a first rate blogger.

fireweeedUnique to Cariboo Ponderer is the site banner. I expected cariboos. Instead I was presented with the pictorial representation of Vic Grace’s own quest to winter in Mexico. A collage of assorted winter activity contrasts a tranquil beach scene – its obvious what she wants. Her opening profile lists the extreme winter temperatures (-22F) and her deep freeze phobia and continues on, almost suggesting that it might be possible for her to escape her surroundings by blogging and sharing her life online… No, this is not the prelude to a John Chow affiliate program, but rather the digital manifestation of a retired woman’s plan to escape Canada in the winter. Will she blog from Mexico? on her laptop? I’m looking forward to that.

Cariboo Ponderer is Vic Grace’s observations and reflections on nature photography, indigenous animals, local cuisine cooking recipes, scrapbooking, and seniors issues steeped in BC politics.




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