20 Questions with Ariane Colenbrander

The 20 Questions series seeks to remember what made writing and reading blogs so great by highlighting intriguing bloggers with interesting stories to tell. Don’t miss my past profiles of these bloggers.

 

20 Questions with Ariane Colenbrander

Originally a graphic designer, Ariane Colenbrander’s career has taken her all around the world. Before settling in Vancouver and launching the Vancouverscape blog, Ariane lived in San Francisco and then Amsterdam. It was while travelling in Jordan that she met her husband, and in 2004, the pair made the move to British Columbia. It was after the 2010 Olympic Games that Ariane dove head-first into the local social media community, finding her voice among other bloggers and creators. Since then she has successfully grown her blog and features a diverse range of content including travel, dining, local events, photography, and more. Apart from blogging, Ariane is also a traveler, wife, Tweeter, foodie, copywriter, graphic designer, nature lover, and creative director.

1. What are you really excited about these days?

More travel writing – living the dream!

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2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?

This morning, at a media event with Ford Canada atop Grouse Mountain.

3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?

So far, I’ve been lucky to have avoided some of the haters. I don’t bait them with a response. They’re only out there lashing out as a means of frustration, in my honest opinion.

4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?

Quality over quantity.

5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?

Bear. Just because I hibernate when temperatures drop below 0C (and my love of salmon – here in BC we’re spoiled with fresh seafood).

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6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?

Aside from the jock, probably at bit of each. I was never in a clique; as a result, I had a wide variety of friends that fell into all those categories!

7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?

I’m not too sure yet, but it would involve snorkeling and underwater photography. Yeah, those two. And someplace with aquamarine-blue water and golden sunsets.

8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?

The hardest question of all! Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging” and “Fashion,” The Cars’ “Bye Bye Love,” and The Smiths’ “Sheila Take a Bow.”

9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?

Hopefully still relevant with the times. Micro-blogging has become such a big part of the social media scene and there’s always the next big “thing.” If and when everything else fades from the scene, and provided the internet sticks around, there will always be my blog.

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10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?

A bellini. Simple and classic.

11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve served you half a dozen of those. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?

That’s way past my bedtime!

12. In Vancouver, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?

Given the amount of foodies and food writers out there, it’s hard to imagine any place left undiscovered. I can, however, recommend Salade de Fruits in Kits. Not many people know about it because it’s kinda tucked away, off busy Granville Street.

13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?

That I’m always out at events.

14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?

There are many, but I suppose Carrie Fisher in the original Star Wars would be at the top of the list. Or go back to my little self and star as Drew Barrymore’s Gertie in E.T.

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15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?

Final Cut Pro, power user level.

16. Who are you most proud of?

Honestly? Me, for pursuing the two most amazing careers ever (graphic design and writing) – and knowing just the right time to transition from one to the other.

17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?

My father. Sadly, he’s no longer with us but I’d like to imagine that his ingenuity and passion for seeing the world have been instilled in me. I know he’d be proud to see how far my site – and life – has come!

18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?

Steve Buscemi, Casey Neistat, John Cusack… and can we add Christopher Walken?

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19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?

When are you off to Japan?

20. When are you off to Japan?

Hopefully this year.

Meet Ariane Colenbrander:
Blog: Vancouverscape
Facebook: /Vancouverscape
Twitter: @ vancouverscape
Instagram: @ vancouverscape
Snapchat: vancouverscape

All photos are provided courtesy of Ariane Colenbrander.

Wellness Wednesday: Benefits of Budgeting

Budgeting is not a life sentence. The benefits of budgeting far outweigh any challenges to it.

One of Canada’s Big Five banks has a slogan that implies that its customers have more wealth than they think. Me? I’ve always scoffed at the slogan. Under my breath I normally respond, “I am acutely aware of how much money is not in my bank account.” I also know that wealth doesn’t materialize out of thin air and money doesn’t grow on trees. I can’t ask for a raise any time I want (or need) more funds.

In the last three weeks I have learned that one of the benefits of budgeting is that I am, indeed, far richer than I ever imagined. I’m not a millionaire – not even close. But, as it turns out, I have far more income available at my fingertips than I had realized.

Examining the Numbers

Out of sheer curiosity, I spent some time on the weekend combing over all my bank account statements and Visa bills from between January 1st and May 31st of this year. My goal was to account for and add up each and every cent I spent on what I now deem “unnecessary” expenditures. The grand total that loomed on my computer screen was far scarier than I imagined it would be.

Benefits of Budgeting
That’s approximately $1,200 per month!

In the interest of transparency, I will say that not all of those expenses were unnecessary. Sometimes a new tube of mascara or a pair of jeans (to replace ripped ones) are completely legitimate purchases! I also, for the first time in my life, bought a brand new laptop to replace all the hand-me-down systems I’d been using over the years.

Value vs. What’s Valuable

Despite all that, the reality is that the majority of that $5,938 was tossed away. It was spent on a Starbucks cup as an accessory on my way to work or a ride home in a cab because I didn’t want to wait for a bus. And what do I have to show for that nearly $6,000? Next to nothing. I’m not going to Europe this summer. I didn’t make a hefty investment in a mutual fund. I didn’t renovate my bathroom.

Benefits of Budgeting
Photo: Bruce Guenter on Flickr

Since I’ve started my path to mindful budgeting, I’ve discovered that there are many benefits of budgeting. Some are more obvious than others – like having an extra $6,000 to my name. Others have taken me by surprise.

A few friends and family members have recently expressed their interest in adopting a more considerate approach to budgeting, but the hesitation is that most think it won’t be easy. Can I let you in on a secret? It is easy! In fact, far easier than I imagined.

Benefits of Budgeting

There are a lot of benefits of budgeting, and here are a few I’ve realized on my journey:

  • I’m Richer Than I Think – Suddenly there’s money in my bank account! Instead of draining the balance in the day or two following pay day, those funds don’t disappear and are there for saving or emergency expenses.
  • Emergencies Aren’t a Burden – Last week our dog required an unexpected visit to the vet. Normally my reaction would be “crap – another item added to my Visa bill.” Instead, I shrugged and said to myself “no worries – I can just use my debit card.” You know why? Because there was money in my account!
  • Building Wealth – We’re all told at a young age to pay 10% of every bit of income to ourselves first. Save it, invest it, put it in mutual funds – I don’t care. But just pay yourself first. And the best part? I really haven’t missed it since it comes off the top. In just three weeks I’ve already saved, literally, a couple hundred dollars.
  • Developing Awareness – The more present I am with opportunities in which I could spend money, the more I am aware of the fact that I shouldn’t spend money. Marketing and corporations’ efforts to get my money into their pockets becomes shockingly clear and only reinforces my desire to save it.
  • Taking Control and Maintaining Control – I’ve used this opportunity to set up new budgeting rules for myself, including a shopping ban. Doing so allows me to control my money rather than the other way around.
  • Appreciating My Own Efforts – One of the biggest benefits of budgeting ends up pointing directly right back at myself. When I become a good steward of the funds I’ve earned and respect the efforts taken to earn that money, I develop a greater appreciation of what I’ve accomplished. And that, my friends, contributes beautifully to my self-esteem and self-worth.

A New Kind of Freedom

I can’t lie: exercising restraint, following my own rules, and adapting a new practice takes effort. But it’s also true that the benefits of budgeting are far greater, more empowering, and liberating than I imagined. When I set forth on this journey, I assumed that for the next six months my life would be over as I know it. Instead, I’ve quickly discovered a new sense of freedom I ever expected. I’m not tethered to or controlled by my money (or the lack of it).

Your turn: Are you a budgeter? And if so, what are some of the benefits of budgeting that you’ve experienced. Let us know in the comments below!

Camping on Hornby Island

Camping on Hornby Island is the easiest way to find a slice of paradise in BC.

As a child, a two-week visit to Hornby Island each summer was a must. Not just a suggestion or a place we’d get to if our family had time – it was a required and expected part of every sunny season. The first time we went I wasn’t older than eight or nine, and back then, it was a relatively unknown haven. The only people you’d run into besides Hornby Island residents were others from Vancouver Island. Meeting someone from Vancouver was an extremely rare occurrence.

Path View

I have an endless bank of vivid and wonderful memories of Hornby Island: from watching the sunrise over Sandpiper Beach by myself while listening to U2’s Zooropa on my Walkman, to paddling around Tribune Bay at sunset on my inflatable orca whale. One thing that remains the same, no matter the passage of time, is the undeniable charm and lure that this island holds for me.

Getting There

When I had the opportunity to take my now-husband to Hornby Island for his first visit, I didn’t hesitate. Half of the adventure is getting there, especially when you’re coming from Vancouver. The first leg of the trip involves sailing on a ferry to Nanaimo before driving north to Buckley Bay and taking the first of two island-hopper ferries to your final destination.

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Camping at Tribune Bay Campsites

As a child, each summer we camped, and each summer it was always at Tribune Bay Campsite. When my husband and I went, it only made sense to return to the same spot, perfectly adjacent to the Ringside Market and Tribune Bay itself.

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Things to See and Do

Commonly known as “Little Hawai’i,” Tribune Bay is a smooth crescent of powdery-white sand, licked by the turquoise waves of the Georgia Strait. Because it’s a sheltered bay with exposure to a lot of sunshine, the waters are almost always warm in the summertime. It’s the quintessential beach for sandcastles, skimboarding, volleyball, or simply sunbathing (with SPF 30+, of course).

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In the other direction from the campsite, the Ringside Market was one of my favourite hangouts. Years ago, the ice cream shack sold soft serve mini cones for 25 cents, so I always came to the island loaded up with saved quarters. Today the soft serve is gone, but it’s still a great spot to grab an ice cream cone, browse for a new book, nosh on local fare at Jan’s Cafe, or simply sit and people-watch.

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Vorizo Cafe Ringside

Beachcombers should make a point of visiting Ford’s Cove on the west side of the island. When the tide is low, dimpled sandstone reveals itself for lunar-like exploration, and nearby tidal pools are often full of unique west coast sea life. If you’re hungry, I’d recommend grabbing a fresh pizza from Ford’s Cove Marina store (available through July and August only).

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I can’t visit Hornby Island without a hike along the trails of Helliwell Provincial Park. A winding path through an old-growth forest eventually leads to rocky headlands overlooking Vancouver Island. The views are, in a word, spectacular.

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Caution must be exercised as the cliffs are steep in some places with no reinforcements in place. The entire loop is approximately five kilometres long and takes about two hours to complete, depending on how often you stop to marvel. This is the perfect spot to bring a picnic lunch and savour the most of this tranquil spot.

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In recent years, Hornby Island has become prime farmland for wine-producing grapes. The island now boasts three vineyards and a meadery, each producing its own unique taste of the island. I’ve always really enjoyed Carbrea Vineyards‘ pinot noir each time I’ve tried it, and their vineyard welcomes visitors. Don’t forget to check out Hornby Island Estate Winery, Little Tribune Winery, and Middle Mountain Mead.

Pinot Vines

If you’re considering – or are already planning – a visit to Hornby Island, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Plan early and book ahead. – Hornby Island’s accommodations are limited due to the island’s size, and campsites in particular tend to book up fast!
  • Pack it in, pack it out. – Hornby Island residents are huge fans of sustainability and recycle as much as possible. If it can’t be reused or recycled, take it home with you and dispose of it properly.
  • Bring water and lots of it. – The island’s infrastructure is limited by its size and the island faces drought conditions each and every summer. Water is limited in supply, so bring as much of your own in jugs as is possible.
  • Don’t get stuck! – Check the ferry schedules because services vary depending on the time of year. With the exception of Friday nights, the last vessel leaving Hornby Island is usually 6:00 pm (even in the summertime).
  • Leave the phone alone. – Hornby Island’s peaceful atmosphere practically begs you to unplug, so make the most of it and opt for a bike ride instead of a Facebook update.

For more information and ideas on where to stay, eat, or play on Hornby Island, visit the island’s official website.

Grouse Mountain Resort

Grouse Mountain Resort is the perfect spot to play tourist in your own town!

As school days have wound down and summer is officially here – today! – I’m looking ahead to our niece’s annual visit to the city. Each summer she crams her little suitcase full of books, goofy sunglasses, and her own unique sense of style, and heads to Vancouver for some quality time with her favourite aunt and uncle. I have no idea what kind of adventure this summer’s visit will bring, but one of our most memorable excursions was a trip to Grouse Mountain Resort.

My Niece with me and her Uncle J

My husband and I have been visiting Grouse Mountain for as long as we’ve known each other – we hiked the Grouse Grind on our third or fourth date! Climbing the Grind is somewhat of a rite of passage for Vancouverites, but the task of exploring the top of the mountain in the summertime often seems left to the out-of-town crowd, so we decided to change that.


Taking in the View

Enjoying the Ride


Passing by the crowd funnelling through the entrance gate to the Grind, we bought our tickets to ride the Grouse Mountain Skyride tram and made our way to the Peak of Vancouver. Naturally, for a kid, getting to the top was half the fun! As we slowly rose above the treetops, we caught glimpses of the world below until the entire city skyline stretched out before us.

Daddy & Daughter

At the top, my niece made a beeline for the grizzly bear habitat. Since 2001, Grouse Mountain has been home to Grinder and Coola, two unrelated and orphaned grizzly cubs. They are just two of several animals who reside within the mountain’s wildlife refuge. Today Grinder and Coola happily spend their days pawing at butterflies, overturning logs, or soaking themselves on hot summer days.

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Several times each day Grouse Mountain features a Lumberjack Show – an often funny and always exciting showcase of incredible lumberjack feats. Tree climbing, log rolling, and axe throwing are just a few of the challenges presented as lumberjacks go toe-to-toe.

Log Rolling

Chop Comp


One of the events in particular required audience participation. As soon as the call went out, my niece’s hand shot up. However, being too young for the duty, I was grabbed, garbed up, and given my chance in the spotlight. Er, sunlight.

If the apron fits, wear it.

Saw Competition


As a thanks for participating (my team lost, by the way), I was handed a ticket for a free Beaver Tails pastry treat. Sienna had no problem helping me finish every last bit of my cinnamon-and-sugar reward, though I’m certain most of it ended up on her face.

Sugar and Cinnamon

Say "Sugar!"


There was undoubtedly so much more we could have seen and done on Grouse Mountain – such as the The Eye of the Wind turbine or mountain ziplining – but a child’s attention span only lasts so long. The good news is it gives us plenty of reason to return again soon for more adventure!

My Niece with the Lumberjacks

Peek-A-Boo!


Sometimes the most memorable experiences happen not when you visit a far-off place but when you explore your own backyard. Grouse Mountain offers endless activities and amusement for anyone and everyone, and I feel so lucky we were able to see the mountain in a new, hands-on way!

Grouse Mountain Resort is open daily with the first Skyride tram going up at 8:45 am and the last one returning at 10:00 pm. Various activities’ times vary so check with Grouse Mountain’s website for details. You can also find Grouse Mountain on Facebook and Twitter.

20 Questions with Cait Flanders

The 20 Questions series seeks to remember what made writing and reading blogs so great by highlighting intriguing bloggers with interesting stories to tell. Don’t miss my past profiles of these bloggers.

 

20 Questions with Cait Flanders

When it comes to money, Cait Flanders is a girl who knows what she’s talking about. Cait became quickly well-known for chronicling her journey from being nearly $30,000 in debt to being debt-free in just two years! She also managed to save cash and do some extensive travelling along the way. Cait is an inspiration to many and, while she was originally known as the “Blonde on a Budget,” she now blogs over at her self-titled home on the internet. I’ve yet to meet Cait in real life, but the year is still young and I’m grateful that she has agreed to answer 20 questions for this week’s segment. Apart from being a financial maven, Cait Flanders is also a blogger, podcaster, nature lover, traveler, hiker, writer, and hopefully soon-to-be-published author! I’m excited to reveal more dimensions to her in this week’s post.

1. What are you really excited about these days?

So many things! My agent and I just submitted my first book proposal to editors at a bunch of publishing houses, so I’m anxiously waiting to see what will come from that. I’m recording the second season of my podcast, which will run all throughout the summer. And I’m also planning an extended road trip across the top of the U.S. and then back home across Canada, which I’m hoping to start in July.

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2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?

Every Tuesday, my friend and I try to go on an “adventure day,” where we explore an area we’ve never visited and tackle a hike or two. This week, we went to Quadra Island for the day and did two hikes. The last picture I took is of the view from Chinese Mountain. It was beautiful!

3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to not receive too much criticism from bloggers or readers – and I think that’s partially because I try to show, in my writing, that there is no one right way of doing things. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes in life, so I don’t judge what anyone else does in their own journey. We’re all just trying to do what’s best for us as individuals. Compassion trumps criticism. :)

The worst criticism I’ve received has been in the anonymous comments sections of news sites, like The Globe and Mail and Yahoo! I choose not to read the comments now, but still remind myself of two things: when people can write anonymously, they will say terrible things. And even the worst anonymous comment can’t outweigh all the positive ones you receive from regular readers.

4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?

I try to reply to every single comment that is left on my blog, within the first few days of publishing a new post. I’ve always thought that if someone takes the time to write to me, they deserve a reply.

5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?

A penguin! I have to live near a body of water, and I love to swim, travel and play. But I’m also extremely close with my family and friends, and would happily spend half my time huddled up near them.

6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?

Good question! I don’t know if I fit into any one clique or stereotype. I was friends with everyone, but was a bit rebellious and spent most of my time with the kids who partied a lot. I cared more about boys than homework (a B-student). And I was a tomboy – definitely not a princess! I was also valedictorian, but ours was based on votes, not grades. Does that paint a clear picture!? Haha.

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7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?

I have so many ideas that my answer to this question would probably change drastically from month-to-month. Right now, I think I’d like to set up a retreat for women who want to learn from one another and spend some time outdoors. My dream would be to host it in Squamish, which is my favourite city in Canada. I’ve gone on a couple solo trips there this year, and would love to explore more of it with a group of inspiring women.

8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?

Everything Michael Jackson put out in the ‘80s (Thriller and Bad).

9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?

A few months ago, I might’ve said that I didn’t know if my blog would exist in another year – let alone another five years – but that’s because I felt trapped by the name of it. Blonde on a Budget was so young and pigeonholed me into feeling as though I had to write about personal finance all the time. But that’s only one of my interests! I rebranded to my name, which will never change, so I think I’ll still be writing in 2021. But my writing can be deeply personal, which will probably never change, so I can’t predict what direction it will go in.

10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?

I usually just order water or Diet Coke with lime (so if you were a highly-skilled bartender, you would hate me, haha). I quit drinking in 2012, after recognizing I had a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve served you half a dozen Diet Cokes with lime. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?

I do still love greasy food though, haha. One big slice of cheese pizza with a white garlic sauce (instead of marinara) would fix me up.

12. In Victoria, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?

The Village! People actually have heard of it, as they have three locations – but each one is in a smaller neighbourhood, so the downtown brunch-goers likely don’t know it exists. I went to high school with one of the owners, and he’s told me they intentionally choose to open locations in areas where they feel they can get to know their customers and become part of the community. I love that. Plus, they have the best eggs Benny in Victoria.

13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?

I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends think I’m really busy. They see that I write my blog, have a podcast, teach a course, freelance, etc. And my Instagram feed probably makes it seem like I travel a lot. But truthfully, this has been one of the slowest and quietest years of my adult life. If I could guess, I would say I’ve only been working 25 hours/week for most of the year. I’ve been able to go on lots of day trips and explore more of Vancouver Island than ever before. And I still spend a lot of time in bed reading and binging on Netflix. “Busy” is definitely not a word I would use to describe my life!

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14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?

I don’t know about movies, but I wanted to be Elizabeth Wakefield from the Sweet Valley Twins books when I was a kid. And I will always want to be Rory Gilmore. (Both were writers/editors.)

15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?

I would love to be a better cook – the kind who makes everything from scratch, and knows all the best spices and how to incorporate them into meals. I have a couple signature dishes, but tend to eat a lot of the same stuff every week.

16. Who are you most proud of?

I’m proud of everyone I know who intentionally chooses to live the life they want; that includes readers who take control of their finances, friends and family who have gotten sober, people who follow their dreams and so on. It’s often easier to just go with the flow and follow those around you, but it takes courage to live a counter-cultural life and do what’s best for you. I’m inspired by the courage of others.

17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?

It’s impossible to pick just one person. I could say my mom for being a hardworking single mom the first eight years of my life, my stepdad for quitting drinking 20+ years ago and never looking back, my coaches and teachers growing up, my bosses (I’ve always worked for women) and my friends. The list never ends, and for that I am truly blessed.

18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?

As a writer, my answers are so cliché, but I can’t help it! I’d invite Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed and Maya Angelou.

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19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?

Do you want this mortgage-free house and property in Squamish?

20. Do you want this mortgage-free house and property in Squamish?

Yes, please! And you will always be welcome to drop by for coffee. :)

Meet Cait Flanders:
Blog: CaitFlanders.com
Facebook: /CaitFlanders
Twitter: @caitflanders
Instagram: @caitflanders

All photos are provided courtesy of Cait Flanders.