We are four 7-year-Os tonight! 1.5 million twinkling lights got us OH SO Excited! Colourful and so mesmerizing.
Over the past 14 years, Calgary Zoolights has gotten more and more popular and was voted Best Christmas Event in 2011 by Calgary’s Child Magazine. To me, it’s one of the best part of living in Calgary like our most engaging Mayor Nenshi.
It’s not just for parents and kids. Zoolights is a pretty fantastic event for couples without kids, or groups of friends hanging out. Hop on the C-Train after work with $10 admission, you’ll have a few hours of walking outdoors sipping on hot chocolate, quite a few fire pits one the path surrounded by benches for a quick warming up, and be mesmerized by the colourful and creative arrangement of all the lights. Are you tempted?
VIVACOVA was recently invited by BassBuds to review BassBuds in-ear headphones. A pair of BassBuds was sent to us free of charge and we were very excited to open the package. It retails for CAD$85. If you buy online, you can save $30 with discount code BB75257.
We got our in-house guest writer Tom, who was once a recording engineer and now a earphone enthusiast. He personally owns about 8 sets of in-ear earphones and over-ear headphones in addition to a few more sets of Apple earphones came with of his iPod collection. Tom often uses Boss, Monster, and Sennheiser to enjoy his music. Who better to do review this product, right?!
The product appeared in an attractive gift box which included the in-ear buds, several tips, a velvet carrying pouch, and user instructions. The provided tips included 6 sets of silicon single flange tips (small/medium/large in black and clear colours) and 3 sets (small/medium/large) black memory foam or “marshmallow” tips.
Overall the buds have a good balance and feel. The various included tips will ensure a comfortable fit, and the memory foam is extremely comfortable for long sessions. An Aluminium housing, protected cable and weight gives a good fit and finish to the buds. I was presented with a “platinum” colour “Classic” set of buds which had an element of bling (as advertised) as they included a Swarovski crystal, however that colour in particular helped dress down the buds for those looking for a more conservative look. BassBuds are also available as a “Classic Collection” in various finishes including silver, blue, red, pink, black, gold, purple, and yellow. The buds also come in a “Fashion Collection” with several other colour combinations, some rather striking and unique with interplay between the colour of the buds and their tips. Although the fashion or bling element of these buds is clearly a marketing focus of the product, it is refreshing to see some colour available for those who wish to add a little flair. How many black headphones have you owned in your time? For me: too many.
BassBuds contain a mid-cable control button which acts as a toggle switch to answer calls on your Smartphone using the buds. I found this to be a handy feature and although many other buds offer this, it is typically at an additional cost over mere headphone buds. This control button not only gives some welcome weight to the cable for proper placement but it also serves as a great control feature for your music. The button acts as a play/pause (1 click), advance to next track (2 clicks), or revert to prior track (3 clicks). The control button also toggled play/pause for movies and other video files on my new iPad, which I enjoyed. While the audio control feature is useful it took some getting used to for timing to avoid accidentally switching between play/pause when attempting to navigate between tracks. Once learned it was a great feature while enjoying the mobility of the buds. The cable also contains a microphone on the right side which is in-line and at jaw level (on me anyway). The microphone does as promised and allows me to quickly respond/access my Smartphone and I was advised it has good clarity for the person on the other end of my calls.
The cable weight of the BassBuds is a little light compared to some and has a plastic feel. The lack of weight tends to create potential for snags when on the go but the cable is advertised as durable and double wrapped and it seems to be the case. Cable length is 1.2m, or approximately 4 feet, which is a typical length. My view of cable length is that it is a personal preference and I like this cable length offered by BassBuds. Simply put, I can extend the cable should I wish, but I tend to use in-ear buds when I wish to be mobile and do not want to struggle with excessive cord. Cable damage from snags comes to mind (e.g. at the gym). With the BassBuds the cable is integrated into the buds and is not detachable so any damage presumably renders the buds useless – but it is rare to see otherwise at this price point and again the cable appears to be double wrapped and durable.
The buds themselves have a 3.5mm gold plated jack and 9mm dynamic drivers with neodymium magnets. They are advertised as providing a distortion free bass with a crispy treble range. Initially I found the response to be bass favoured with the mids somewhat flat adding to a limited mid-high range. This mix often works well with Pop or bass heavy Club/Dance, Rap, or Hip Hop tracks but tends to lose something when listening to more acoustic music or music with greater dynamic or harmonic range. As I spent more time with the buds I found more detail and overall response, but often the bass weight limited the dynamics of more expressive content. It is not really that the mid to highs lack clarity, it is that the weight of the bass reduces presence and dynamic range in some tracks. It simply defeats the depth of the finer (e.g. harmonic) points of some music. This was far less noticeable when listening to spoken tracks, e-books, pod casts, movies or other videos etc. in which the audio stayed within a narrower band of frequency. That said, despite the accent of the lower frequencies, I found good overall presence for the price point. I have used many sets of much more expensive buds and I found the BassBuds to be more open, tonally balanced, and defined then many buds at twice (or more) the cost.
Pros: Overall good balance and feel with presence and detail in response. Handy in-line phone/audio control with microphone.
Cons: Clearly a bass mix with flat mids but still manages to produce surprising clarity on various tracks.
Bottom Line: BassBuds have an attractive product with quality included accessories. Good fit and finish with sound response, presence and clarity as good (or better) than several higher price buds on the market. If you prefer bass oriented audio you will enjoy these buds. At the price point BassBuds are a great buy.
I was in charge of making dinner arrangements for a business trip to Las Vegas. Looking for something new and refreshing, I stumbled upon The Barrymore on TripAdvisor and it seemed fitting for the occasion The taxi took all 3 of us to this relatively very retro and understated Royal Vacation Suites Hotel where The Barrymore is located. I was concerned and didn’t know why I felt I was responsible for the entertainment value of this trip.
Greeted by the hostess and restaurant manager, we entered into this old school luxurious and elegant chic decor. The film-rimed ceiling caught my eyes immediately. Yes, it speaks the name Barrymore.
The evening and the whole experience was superb! Israel, our server, made the show! We tried to persuade him to move to Canada and show us what customer service is all about. He had us under a spell which he “suggested” what we were going to eat, and we responded like three little puppies with tongues down on the table and tails wagging with excitement. Israel has this magic power of reading our minds and we were seeing and tasting the foods with just his words and hand gestures.
The fantabulous creations of chef Anthony Meidenbauer and Billy Richardson had our heads nodding the whole evening. Flavor and presentation were so satiating, top notch for a steak house. Knifes, in my opinion, were not necessary for the melt-on-the-plate short ribs we had. Seafood was also impressive. Octopus was marinated and cooked over low heat for 6 hours then slightly charred over the grill. I never would have imagined this much love and care to seafood in a steakhouse. Maybe it’s not a steakhouse?! Pasta dish, forget about it! Cream and cheese flavors were inside the spaghetti, not just coated around it.
1. Delicious non-alcohol beverages: yes
2. Checks on the table: 6
3. The decibel point: 70
4. The price tag: $517.00
It’s that time of the year. Starbucks starts using red cups and red menu display. The shopping malls are playing Jingle Bells. People starts counting down days to Christmas on Facebook.
At VIVACOVA, we are itching to bake cookies for the holidays. In search of new inspiration for our baking pleasure (and yours if interested), let’s all bake some cookies and share the recipes. Here’s how we are making it fun and exciting:
1. $100 up for grabs! CAD for participants within Canada, USD for those outside Canada.
2. Find or create a cookie recipe, no more than 1hr prep and bake
3. Make the cookie, take a pretty photo and post on VIVACOVA Facebook page with the recipe before December 23rd, 2012
4. Most “Liked” cookie on the page will be the winner
5. Must “Like” VIVACOVA on Facebook to win!
Click on photo to see the recipe by Martha Stewart
From one of the very early episodes of Eat Street on FoodNetwork, I learned this fascinating little joint in Victoria BC Canada. Red Fish Blue Fish is always on my agenda when I visit.
This time it was for a business trip. I spared a whole day walking around town with my husband, though raining, it was quite romantic. He’s been itching to try this place I’ve been bragging about, so off we went with a big umbrella borrowed from our hotel Empress.
The entire restaurant operates inside a shipping cargo container on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. I always see a long lineup of the people before I see the cargo container. It uses 100% sustainable ocean wise seafood from the nearby area. With a big display by the restaurant, Red Fish Blue Fish tells the exact location from which its ingredients were supplied.
We tried BBQ Fanny Bay Oyster Tacone ($10), and BBQ Qualicum Bay Scallop Burger ($14). The grill marks on the seafood are as real as the ocean fresh taste in these two dishes. The classic fish n chip is totally worth the calories. My favorite and must have when visiting this place is the Pacific Rim Chowder. It’s so unique and special made with chipotle coconut, sweet corn and sweet garlic’d white fish confit. My mistake during my first visit was getting a small 12oz chowder. I ended up lining up for another 30 minutes to get a second order. So, always go for the large 16oz chowder ($6) if you are eating onsite; and don’t even hesitate to get the 1 litre ($11.50) if you are hanging around town for a while.
The locals like to hang around the restaurant. Can’t go wrong to go where the locals go, right?!
1. Delicious non-alcohol beverages: no
2. Checks on the table: zero (self-serve)
3. The decibel point: 66 (at outdoor patio)
4. The price tag: $33.60
We were sick one day, and our Pampered Chef came over to nurse us back to health with Potato Chowder made with dutch baker. This is a great chowder base for other variations: add clam to make clam chowder, add corn to make corn chowder.
Here are 3 easy steps to make this nurturing, comforting, creamy and baconlicious chowder:
3 big Russet potato cut in halves and microwave in the baker for 10 minutes. Rotate potato and microwave for another 10 minutes
Mash them into chucks real good!
Pour in milk, mix in bacon bits and shredded cheese. Then microwave (lid on) for 5 minutes.
Done! So creamy and baconlicious! We added broccoli for Vitamin C boots. It’s optional.