Good Things in Palm Springs

Last week I went to sunny Palm Springs for a bit of work and a bit of play. I was down here for the eTail conference but managed to sneak in a couple days poolside before all the festivities began. We stayed at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa which I had stayed in once before almost ten years ago. (TEN YEARS AGO. I CAN SAY THAT. I AM SO OLD.) Anyway, it was just as beautiful as I remember. The staff and service is friendly, the pools and grounds are beautiful and clean, and the bars and restaurants right in the resort are excellent. I’m not a dessert person but I am still dreaming about the most amazing vanilla bean crème brûlée we had at the Rockwood Grill.

I love Palm Springs, there is something about it that is so stunning.. I think it is the palm trees against the striking mountain backdrop, and of course the desert heat doesn’t hurt. I was running around like a bat out of hell for the majority of the time I was down there and didn’t have a chance to use my good camera so I apologize for the cellphone pics, but here is a quick photo diary of my favorite parts of Palm Springs and also all my must have poolside vacation essentials.

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I live out of my Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack. I have featured it before and I will feature it again, it’s the perfect travel companion all the way from the airport to my lounge chair, it has the perfect set of features not the least of which are the little lined sunglasses holder at the top and the lined laptop sleeve to protect my MacBook. I would have for sure trashed many pairs of sunglasses if it weren’t for this backpacks clever design.

I LOVE Maui Babe Browning Lotion. If someone can tell me where to find it in Canada I will be eternally grateful. I’ve noticed my friend To Vogue or Bust is in Hawaii at the moment and I may have to hit her up for refill! I also always carry L’Oreal Ombrelle SPF 30 Lip Balm with me when I am in the sun to protect my lips.

I carry two pairs of Ray-Bans with me, wayfarers and aviators, one of those two styles will always complete any look. And of course my converse sneakers, which get more wear than any shoe I own, I personally think they go with anything from jeans and a tee-shirt to a silk dress. They are a casual preppy classic. An essential by any standards.

There are more California posts on the way.. I was having so much fun in the heat I couldn’t wait to come back so I booked a trip to go see my girlfriend Whitney in LA at the end of April. Can’t wait! Also, I’m very excited for Andrea to share her review on Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Workout plan which she has been crushing and is now on week eight! Lots of exciting stuff coming up on The Big Water.

Xo

Wendy

Spring Fresh Lemon Orzo Soup

I cannot believe this weather we are having here in Vancouver… Wendy always says ‘if you are living in Canada and you aren’t living in Vancouver you are insane’ and with these sunny February days we’ve been having I think she is right! It’s making me anxious for bikinis, mojitos and pink floaties, but until the temperature catches up with these sunny days, some good food will have to do!

This is one of my FAVORITE soups. I find it so fulfilling and refreshing. It is perfect as we transition into spring.

IMG_4378I don’t know what it is about soup, but I find such comfort in a nice big bowl after a long day. Not only is it a quick easy meal, it is such a crowd-pleaser.

First I started by boiling a pot of 6 cups of water with 5 tbsp of chicken broth paste. I use better than bouillon for my chicken broth paste – which I think is the best. Only because I always found when I would buy chicken broth I wouldn’t use it all at one time and it would go bad. This paste lasts forever and has reduced sodium and no fat as compared to other chicken broths, and is relatively cheap. win win!

While the broth is boiling I start prepping the veggies. Fresh veggies are key!

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Ingredients

1 T grapeseed oil (better for cooking at high heat)

1 white onion, chopped – I use the slap chop!

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, roughly grated – I use a lemon zester as the grater, to get little bits

6 C water

5 tbsp chicken broth paste

½ C orzo

½ lemon, zest and juice – I use ReaLemon for the juice as I find the flavor is better in the soup. Use the lemon just for the zest and for the finishing touch in the bowl.

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried basil

Instructions

In a large pot, start heating up the water and chicken paste.

In another smaller pot heat olive oil.

Add in garlic and onion. Sauté until translucent.

Add in carrot. Sauté for just a few minutes.

Pour sauteed mixture into chicken broth.

Add orzo. Cook until tender with a slight bite.

Pour in lemon juice and add zest.

Season with salt, pepper and basil.

Let simmer and adjust seasonings if needed.

Garnish with lemon slices.

voilà!

Happy cooking

xx Andrea

Last Minute Valentines Day Gift Guide – For Her

It’s Valentines Day on Saturday and if you’re anything like me you will wait until… maybe tomorrow? to pick up something for your main squeeze. I’m habitually bad at buying gifts (I know I have said this before, but the point is so true it is worth reiterating) so I thought why not help out my fellow procrastinators with a gift edition part deux aimed at the ladies in your lives.

Gifts don’t have to be just for your significant other, or just for valentines day, these are items your Mom, bestie, sister, roommate, the list goes on.. is sure to love! I will be spending this Saturday, like women all over the city, with my boyfriend, his name is ‘my career’ and we will be crushing grape and crawling into bed early as I have a 7am flight the next morning heading to a conference for work. #truelove

Valentines Gifts for Her

This Jo Malone cologne in ‘Red Roses’ is the perfect Valentines day scent and the prettiest hue of blush pink. I am a huge fan of Jo Malone and wear the Lime Basil + Mandarin scent religiously.

There is nothing better than crisp cotton pyjamas, and this shorts set floral print pair from Plum Pretty Sugar is the perfect set as we creep closer to spring.

Chapters always has cute home stuff, specifically this gold painted stripe cushion, which hits two major wins on my current lust list, gold + stripes.

I love a good Essie polish and recently they have come out with a new Cashmere Matte line; I can’t wait to get my paws on this pale pink color, cleverly titled ‘just stitched.’

This Olive Oil was actually an idea from a girlfriend, she got this for her Mom for Christmas and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It’s a company called ‘Nudo Italia‘ and the way it works is you adopt a tree in Italy and the company regularly delivers to you the olive oil it produces! How cool is that?! You can also adopt a tea garden in India or receive honey when adopting a beehive in the UK. I love it.

Lastly I have pulled this adorable Flamingo Print available locally at The Cross in Vancouver, one of my favorite decor stores. I have a Flamingo obsession and I think this print would look so chic mounted in a gold frame in a white wash apartment.

Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration here! And when all else fails wine, chocolate and flowers. (But mostly wine.)

xo

Wendy

Sweet Things for your Sweetheart

Now for a complete change in pace from my last post which was directed towards all my single ladies, this one is for chicks who are looking to buy something for their boo. If you are like me, you are a terrible gifter. I have been dating my boyfriend for a little over three years and his last birthday (which was two months ago in December) was the first time in our courtship I haven’t been embarrassed to hand over whatever shamble of a gift I had thrown together. Even after countless hours brainstorming, seconding guessing, last minute ordering, looking for a better deal etc. I always end up so unsure of what to get that it inevitably becomes a last minute gift. So this gift guide is as much for me as you. Hopefully I will remember it next time I am stressing and before I order a Lynch Seahawks jersey off a shifty Chinese website for half the regular price and it shows up spelt ‘LINCH’. A similar situation did take place a couple years ago.

Fortunately for me, Scott and I aren’t huge gift buyers. We exchange birthday gifts, but usually plan trips for Christmas and nice dinner dates for anniversaries and Vday. For me personally, the best gift I can get from him is a card with a sweet note. That could also be because he has the emotional capacity of a kidney bean so anniversaries and Valentines are the only days he really feels the figurative barrel to his figurative temple to spit out something sweet. But I love him none the less and will be missing him and our dinner date next Friday as he is in Brussels until the spring.

So here are a few ideas for your main man:

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1. I love Hershel backpacks. Scott and I actually both have camo print ones similar to this. They come with awesome features and are a local Vancouver company. Whether he’s a camper, a traveler, a student, whatever, he’s sure to get use out of this styley backpack.

2. Sperry Top-Siders may be a little bit too preppy for some guys. But I love them. With jeans or shorts, they are the perfect casual summer shoe. Also a little red for Valentines never hurts. These one’s are even on sale!

3. A portable speaker might seem boring but I actually use mine all the time. In my bathroom while I’m getting ready, in the basket of my bike while I’m seawall hustlin, at the beach, on the patio of my White Rock house, everywhere. I think they are just the best. This one is awesome, I actually got it for my Dad this Christmas. It plugs into your computer to charge and uses Bluetooth which is perfect when you want to be able to keep your cellphone on hand (AKA ALWAYS).

4. Apple TV. For the tech dork in all of us. Apple TV is awesome and if you need me to explain why GTFO.

5. Men’s shaving kit / travel case. Men’s accessories are so much sexier than women’s aren’t they? Our travel cases are hot pink and plasticy, even the top tier brands usual choose a vinyl type material, but men get leather. When men step up their game in the accessory department it makes a huge difference, I find those little details so refined and attractive. This Fossil Travel Kit in a rich cognac color is the perfect travel accessory the GQ aficionado in your man.

6. Socks. Not the six pack of champion tube socks your Grandmother gets your for Christmas (barf). These patterned socks are such a simple fun cheap gift, and they add an element of unique style to the otherwise fairly simple outfits that boys wear. A JCrew button down, good jeans and a pair of converse is really stepped up when you throw in a matching pair of polka dot socks. The BANNER sock from STANCE shown above, are the perfect example of a styley colored patterned sock that will boost your boys game (wait do you want that?). Joe Fresh has a few great picks on sale, also Urban Outfitters has a ton of awesome options and you can usually find a 3 for $20 deal.

7. We luuuhhhh coffee. I had always used a traditional coffee maker before meeting Scott who opened my eyes to this gem. These stovetop espresso coffee makers will blow your cute patterned socks off. It makes rich, strong and delicious coffee, you’ll never go back.

Of course I believe the  best gifts come from the heart, so whatever you choose to give your boo this Valentines, make sure it’s accompanied by a little love note, I think the loves in our lives appreciate that more than they let on. On the other hand if you are solo next Friday please refer to my last post and come find my girlfriends and I terrorizing the dance floors of London Pub and Fortune. You’ll be able to pick us out by the way we hunt in a pack and make our decisions according to the WWBD? principle. [What would Britney (circa 2007) do?] 

What are your Valentines day traditions? What are you gifting your significant other?