Getting ‘Niagarafied’ at Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters,

Has Spring finally Sprung here in Niagara?

I sure hope so, I am so ready for the changing of the seasons and all the beauty that comes along with Spring here in our beautiful region.

To get a head start on this, recently I had the privilege of checking out Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge located in the historic Pillar and Post Inn & Spa in the charming Victorian town of Niagara on the Lake.

If you are an avid follower of my blog, you know that over the Christmas holidays last year I had the privilege of staying at The Pillar & Post Inn & Spa, partaking in the facilities, wine tours and fabulous culinary offerings of The Cannery Restaurant.  My full review of my over night stay can be found HERE

I had remembered that there was a wine bar that we didn’t get an opportunity to check out and was excited to finally be doing just that.

But, before I go any further with my story, I would be remiss in not mentioning that this wine bar was not going to be a normal run of the mill drop in – NO, this was going to be a very special outing, I was going to be meeting an extraordinary blogger, business owner and all around cool chick Joanne Deall otherwise affectionately known as Niagarafied!

You see when I first moved back to the Niagara region in 2013, I knew that I wanted to reach out and get to know my local merchants, business owners and individuals in my community so I could finally feel connected to something that was bigger than me.  A connection that I was unable to create in Vancouver and knew that I craved that missing ingredient in my new home.  Back in Vancouver, local area bloggers were and still are generally the ones in the know of what is going on in and around the communities they write about. So, when I moved to Niagara, I knew I needed to do a little blogger digging – Low and behold, the name of Niagarafied kept coming up!

Local winery owners revered her, and lined up to have her come and visit and taste their hand made wares knowing, they would get a hearty, well written mention in one of her upcoming blog posts, and possibly boosting their social standing and their Trip Adviser status in the process!  So I knew she was someone I just HAD to follow and get to know while secretly envying her job – Visiting and tasting artisan wine and food samplings from local wineries right here in Niagara…Sighhhh I don’t know about you, but this is  how I spell dream job!

I started by reading and leaving comments on her blogs, and before long we were talking almost monthly online, sharing, re-sharing or re-posting each others blogs, talking, connecting and each of us getting to know the woman behind the writer; evolving into a well rounded friendship, be it totally online!

Well after two years of talking and me secretly wishing I could be her personal assistant on her next winery tour, we FINALLY set a date to meet IN PERSON!

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After having to reschedule twice because of a windstorm that knocked out the power and a snow storm the second date – No really, true story – Mother nature finally cooperated.

Can I just say, Joanne is even more lovely in person than online. Funny, sweet, endearing and down right good peeps to have in your corner, not to mention a total connoisseur of her wine and what she likes to have with it.  Both of us went with local white wines – Joanne an Oaked Chardonnay and myself something a little sweeter, a Riesling.  Sipping on wine in the quaint, cozy and Victorian feel of The Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge – Decorated with lots of wood accents, a crackling fire in the fireplace, really signified to me that this was a perfect choice and a rare gem to discover in our little region.  Staff, were beyond friendly and fun to interact with, but very helpful when we tried to make a choice amongst the scrumptious appetizers.  Joanne and I decided on the flat bread with homemade garlic hummus, goat cheese and roasted red pepper appie along with the blue crab cakes with garlic aioli and mango salsa.  Both were scrumptious, well seasoned, bursting with flavour and perfectly complimented our wine choices and our casual girls night out.

Having the opportunity to take our carefully crafted online relationship offline into the ‘real’ world’ was so refreshing and actually effortless.  We honestly felt like we already knew each other and meeting was just an extension of what we had already created authentically.

I really feel like I have made a friend in Joanne and I look forward to when we can get together again and further build our friendship.

Hey Joanne, just throwing this out there – I am ALWAYS available for any PA work if you ever need any on your next winery review, #justsaying 😛

Thank you all once again for taking the time to read my weekly ramblings and supporting me on my blogging journey.  Your time and energy does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

But before we go, what local little gem do you like to get away to in our Niagara region?  I am always looking for local merchants doing their thing well using local ingredients to check out!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

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Is the Medium Still The Right Message?

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters,

It is Officially Spring!  So excited to see things starting to bloom, bees a buzzing and everything in a state of rejuvenation and rebirth!  I do love this time of the year and all the new found beauty it holds.  It is like we are all waking up from our months long slumber – LOVE!

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As you all know I work in social media, recently I met with a fellow social media manager and fellow blogger who used to be a journalist and, we got to talking as we generally do, and the topic of the proliferation of FAKE NEWS going around like wildfire since the onslaught of the pandemic rise in social media use, definitely came up.  The infamous quote from Marshall McLuhan came flooding back to me during this conversation – “The medium is the message”.  This phrase not only brought me back to my Communications Degree days at Brock University many moons ago, it also made me realize that this still is a very relevant phrase today even though it was coined back in the 1970’s when McLuhan was trying to emphasize that the way we say something is more important than the words we actually use to say it.  Very interesting and profound revelation for his time.

Fast forward to today, with the onslaught of the internet and more importantly the use of social media and this profound notion has evolved even further – The medium itself has become the message.

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No longer do we consume traditional sources of information like newspapers, TV or radio; no, we instead go to the internet, namely social media to get our news.  Recognizing how their readers and viewers are consuming information, media outlets themselves have turned to social media to gather and present their own news stories.  Those of us who are too busy to read an entire newspaper, I mean let’s face it, most of us are, instead turn to Twitter or Facebook to scan the posts and possible links from major media outlets to get our fill of the days happenings either locally and or globally.

Why?

Because we are already there on social media.

In fact, when major news is breaking in the world it is usually Twitter that will break it first.  This was the most evident during the most recent Syrian uprisings where citizen journalists were tweeting and posting videos of the rioting and mayhem, giving their last will and testaments to anyone who would hear them even though the country had put a ban on all media coming in and or going out.

So what does all of this mean?

This means that the need to be immediate far outweighs the need to be accurate when presenting the hard news – ie, the unfortunate spreading of FAKE NEWS.  We don’t want to wait until a lead or a story is substantiated to break with the next edition of our favorite newspaper, or you know substantiate the accounts and statements of some world leaders who shall remain nameless – (Hint rhymes with RUMP! :P) No, instead we want it now and if you can’t give it to us, we will find the source that will and if you are not it we will leave you behind.  This leaves no wiggle room for verifying a source or a story before going to print or on air.  As a result, many and I mean MANY false ‘new-stories’ break on social media and get spread like wildfire, causing damage before the truth finally comes out.

This means the ability to connect via the internet has unfortunately replaced many individuals want or need for face to face interaction.  This means the avenues in which companies and individuals market themselves is determined by how their target audiences consume information.  This means the medium itself has become the message.

Social media is an amazing tool and should be used as just that, a tool to communicate and interact with individuals and or target audiences.  Yes, I preach this as a social manager daily – the importance of building those relationships online, but what is just as important is to then take these relationships offline into the real world where true connection occurs.

We as consumers must also shoulder some of the responsibility of this epidemic and do our own due diligence to understand that the information that is being presented and consumed by us for us has been and will be forever altered.  That is why HOW we choose to digest and consume information must change along with it. We need to do our own research when a story that we may not understand all of the facets of breaks, so that we know we are getting all sides of the story and not just a sensationalized version to sell papers.  Us doing our part as consumers and the producers of news nowadays (hello, did someone say smartphones and citizen reporters) will continuously evolve as technology and the means in which we communicate through it continues to evolve.

Where will this end up?  I don’t have those answers, but what I do know, is that I need to update my Facebook status to contemplative while I ponder the possibilities.

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and taking the time out of your busy day to read my weekly ramblings does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before I go, I would like to ask you, how do you consume your news? Through social media or from the media outlets  themselves?

I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Always

Dina xxoo

Sometimes The Answer is Simple – CHOCOLATE!

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters!

Well I need to apologize to you all, I definitely spoke too soon,  last week I said that Spring was just around the corner and here we are under 30 cms of SNOW right here in Niagara!

Yeah,  sorrrrrry eh, my bad 😛

So I don’t know about all of you, but when things are crappy outside, the first thing I want to do is tuck in the kitchen and get creating – specifically BAKING!

So, I wander into the kitchen yesterday and who is already in there baking fresh bread – MOM!

Gosh we are so much alike 😛  So I asked her, “Hey Ma, what about something chocolatey?” Well let’s be honest this is really a no brainer, “ummmm YES!”

Now, the first thought that came to my mind is this little Chocolate Cake recipe that I remember had a little bit of a twist to it – Miracle Whip.  YES you read that right, it has Miracle Whip in it!  Searching through our box of hand written recipes low and behold there it was – The 100 Dollar Chocolate Cake.  Now, we have only ever made this cake a couple of times but every time I was always so amazed at how moist and chocolatey it was.

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Now I can’t take credit for this one – Our neighbour from when we lived in Dunnville back in the day is the one who gave us this recipe – Trudy Williamson, this one is for you!

As the snow was blowing outside, our hearts and bellies were getting filled inside –  Mom and I danced to country and western music as we baked and laughed the winter day away.

Gosh this brought back so many memories, all the while making new ones for me and hopefully Mom too. This was a wonderful reminder, to treasure those moments you share with those that you love, for tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed…

So without further adieu, here is the recipe for this chocolately goodness!

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100 Dollar Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup miracle whip
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 4 tbsp dutch cocoa (or whatever kind you have.  We use dutch because well, we are dutch and its what is in the house.) 🙂
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 package of chocolate chips (or take a couple of Hershey chocolate bars and bang them into small pieces like I have done here)

Directions

Add all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl add all of the wet ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry and mix until well blended but try not to over mix. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan or if you like add them into a bundt pan like I did here.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the top of the cake covering it evenly.  Put into a 350 degree oven until a fork or tooth pick comes out clean.  Approximately 20 minutes.  Take out of the oven and cool before removing from the pan.  Serve either still warm with a bit of whip cream or I have had it with vanilla ice-cream as well. Both are simply DELISH!

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There you have it, 100 dollar chocolate cake – a dessert that is easy to make and will satisfy anyone’s chocolate craving!

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me, your support and you taking the time to read my ramblings every week do not go unnoticed or unappreciated!

But, before I go, let me ask you this – What is your favorite chocolate treat or recipe?  I am always on the look out for new and exciting ways to use chocolate, either sweet or savory!

 

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

 

 

Today We As Women Celebrate

Hello My fellow blog lovers and supporters,

March is upon us and I and my sinuses can feel that Spring is right around the corner.  I am ready for it, how about you?

Recently, I had the privilege to attend the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce‘s  16th Annual International Woman’s Day Event in the beautiful Club Roma located right here in the Niagara Region.  As I entered the beautifully decorated ballroom filled with elegance, beauty and sparkle befitting the gorgeous women who we were gathering to celebrate- Niagara’s own Women Entrepreneurs, I was again reminded how fortunate I am to have found my tribe of like minded women entrepreneurs.  These last three years have been a whirlwind of networking, events and meeting and talking with other business owners. This foundation allowed me to enter this room not by myself but greeted with so many familiar and friendly faces that I can proudly call my tribe and more importantly my friends.  Hugs, greetings and lively small talk magnificently complimented the positive energy of the room filled with vendors and women looking to connect, inspire and be inspired.

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We were asked to take our seats so the days festivities could begin.  Ruth Unrau, focus Coach and Past Chair of Women in Niagara and lucky for us today’s MC, graciously gave her introductions and the speeches began.  Compliments, heart felt words and all around inspiration filled the room as each courageous women took the podium to present her part of our Niagara story outlining the impact of women entrepreneurship right here in the region.  No one more inspiring was the day’s International Women’s Day Award Recipient, Rosemary Hale – accomplished author and the first female to be appointed dean in my old Alma Mater Brock University.  Rosemary epitomizes this year’s theme of #BeBoldForChange; her willingness to pioneer her own path, not allowing her gender or societal prejudices to stop her from going after her dreams and her resounding proclamation that “we can and will get so much further if go it together”  solidifies that I am indeed on the right path and surrounded by the right women.

Our keynote speaker Teresa Cascioli – small town Hamilton girl who has done extremely well – Former CEO of Lakeport Brewing and author of M is for Money was the next to graciously take the stage. Through her tenacity and very strong work ethic, she was able to bring a bankrupt private company (Lakeport Brewing) and in turn sell it as a publicly funded corporation for over 221 million dollars in 8 short years. 8 short years of blood, sweat, tears and ironically gratitude.  You wouldn’t think that someone who was able to accomplish such an amazing feet such as this, would say that “working with purpose” and to remind yourself that “success is fleeting, practice gratitude everyday” would be the one of the keys to what she attributes to her success; but it is.  This was a wonderful reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, today is the only certainty that we have and we need to learn to really live and not merely exist.

Being surrounded by my wonderful colleagues and being able to witness the energy and passion of our wonderful presenters, truly has made be acknowledge and realize how fortunate I am to live in the the time that I do and the region that I do, because here, my dreams CAN come true.  So many women in other parts of the world are not given access to resources, knowledge or the support and guidance of other women to let them realize that their dreams do matter – They matter.  I was never more reminded of this than I was today, in Club Roma with all of my beautifully inspiring and supportive sisters of women entrepreneurs right here in Niagara.

So much gratitude!

A heartfelt thank you for each and every one of you for just being your inspiring selves and for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and taking the time to read my ramblings each week does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before I go I would like to ask you this, what or who in your circle inspires YOU?

I can not wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love and Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

Sometimes You Just Need To Take a Hike

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters!

March 1st is here and boy have we been blessed with an OUTSTANDING winter this year! Fingers crossed that this glorious weather continues and we slide right into Spring which is creeping its head right around the corner already me thinks!  2017 is already shaping up to be pretty amazing – why do you ask?  Because, that is how I am choosing to perceive it, and what I have learned these past few times I have circled the earth – how you perceive a situation, a moment or experience is directly related to how it will actually play out in your life.  The energy you expel is the energy you will receive.  This I have experienced more than once.

Sounds pretty simple right? In theory perhaps it is, but to put it in practice, that is a whole other ball game.  You see I lost this way of thinking a little while back.  I was so wrapped up in the big picture of my new life path and journey that I forgot to remember the immediate happenings around me, the little things.  Like the feeling of the crisp winter air on my face as I take a stroll outside, the sheer magnitude and beauty of a sunset over a waterway or the swooping and swaying of a bird gliding through the open sky.  These little things are just as important, they make you feel connected to yourself and the world around you.  In an age when we are always plugged in to smartphones, ipads, laptops and such, we have become more fragmented and stressed out, not only with our loved ones, but with ourselves as well.

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I lost myself a while back, with working many hours trying to grow my business, and trying to get this new path on track I let go of the one thing that used to bring me such peace and rejuvenation, and that one thing was my daily walk.  I used to walk everyday as a means of decompressing after a long day.  I would put on my walking shoes and my ipod and out the door I went, able to just “be” for those 30 minutes and just breathe.  These walks always left me with a feeling of relaxation and invigoration at the same time, it was like my own personal meditation.   I slept better, was more creative and just felt a spring in my step.

Well, as time in the day became a premium, my walk was the first thing to go.  As a result, over time I became lethargic, tired, overwhelmed and a wee bit depressed.  My weight recently started to creep up again and my general outlook on life diminished.  With this new path coming to fruition before me, I still felt this sense of stress and despair, everything I had been working for was happening, why wasn’t I overjoyed?

Then the other day, a Facebook memory I had posted a while back shared from my friend Nadine –  a letter that Michael Moore wrote on his journey over the last 42 weeks of taking a 30 minute walk everyday just as a gift to himself, not to lose weight or exercise but as just as a means to just “be”.

This got me thinking, when was I the most content and at peace in my life?

The answer, when I was walking!

These past few days I have taken up Moore’s challenge to take a 30 minute walk everyday, and already I am feeling a shift.  I was able to take in a breathtaking sunset over the Welland Canal the other night and see the faint sight of the twirling windmills off in the distance.  I wonder what I will be able to witness tomorrow?

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Friends, family, supporters, readers, acquaintances and such, I am sending you a challenge – a challenge to take a 30 minute walk everyday.  EVERYDAY!

Put your kids in the strollers, grab your spouse, put a leash on the dog or whatever, and just give yourself this 30 minute gift.  Rain or shine do it! Not only will you notice a change in yourself but you will notice a change in your relationships with your kids, spouse and others.  You will feel more grounded and at peace.  So are you you with me?

Let’s all grab our shoes and go for a walk!

Thank you all once again for taking the time to read my shenanigans week after week and supporting me on my blog journey.  Your support does not go unnoticed or unappreciated!

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo