Better Than Zovcock

Zovcock gift!

This week, I received a belated wedding gift from one of my best friends, Ashly (wifey).  She designed and created personalized Zovcock stationary, each one individually hand stamped.  To remind you, Zovcock is an amalgamation of my maiden name (Zovko) and my husband’s name (Woodcock). It’s also the #1 name amalgamation ever created (as voted by a very biased person). Immortalizing our name via stationary is even better than Zovcock itself.

If you don’t know me personally, Ashly’s gift is perfect for me.  Here’s why:

  • I am, and always have been, a big fan of stationary and other paper goods
  • The love and thoughtfulness that go into hand-made gifts is very important to me
  • Owning anything that is stamped “Zovcock” is simply hilarious

Basically, a gift that is humourous, loving and useful ranks high for me.  I’ve included some pictures of Ashly’s process below.

1. Ashly created the template for the Zovcock font by blowing up a photo of our wedding invite.  She then hand-carved “Zovcock” letter by letter to create a stamp.

Blank template

2. When complete, Ashly coated the stamp in red paint and used the tool at right to ensure paint was spread evenly on each page during the transfer.Zovcock printing

3. Ashly had the patience to hand stamp 100 Zovcock pages.  God bless her heart.  100 Zovcocks(Photos and Talent by Ashly Van Steele)

There you have it.  If you want to make your loved one feel extra giddy this holiday season, try making them some personalized stationary.  You can even add a clever drawing or two.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Zovcocks to get to…

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It’s Been One Motherfuckin’ Year!!

(image by someecards)

It’s our 1-year anniversary at Superfora!  Yes, we’ve been shoving this blog down your throat for three hundred and sixty odd days.  And you still don’t hate us.  Thank you for reading, lovely friends!

To recap this past year, Tomica and I have each put together a list of our favourite places to hit in Van, some of which we blogged about and some of which we haven’t but believe make this city a cooler place to live in.  Here we go:

Sandra

Favourite cafe: Marché St. George.  I love everything about this place; the pretty gold-lined porcelain tea cups, the fresh croissants they make daily and the owner’s thick Quebecois accent. This cafe is charming and comfortable beyond belief.

Favourite French Baguette: Faubourg Paris in Kerrisdale.  After months of searching, Simon and I finally found the most authentic French baguette in the city at Faubourg Paris; crusty outsides and fluffy insides make me inhale whole baguettes at a time.  Now all I need are bratty 13-year olds to egg me on the street and I’m right back in Paris.

Favourite Store Front: A tie between F as in Frank and Front & Company.  Each store creates tableaus that inspire and awe.  Kudos to their talented window dressers.

(photos via Front & Company)

Favourite Stationary Store: The Hach.  They carry everything from vintage alphabet stamp sets to leather-bound agenda books to baby-shaped post-it note pads.  And the owner, Tara Hach, is amazing.  The next time you’re strolling down Main, be sure to check out The Hach just west on 17th.

Favourite Sushi place: Zipang on Main Street.  The perfect neighbourhood sushi spot, this gem is my restaurant of choice to stuff face with my favourite friends.  I always leave Zipang feeling immensely content thanks to to-die-for sushi, lovely staff and a relaxed atmosphere.  Even with several bottles of white, the tab is always fair.  If you go, call me.

Favourite thing to do on a Thursday that doesn’t involve drinking: Typing Night at Regional Assembly of Text.  For the penpals out there!

Favourite Vintage Shop: Community in Gastown.  Amazing selection, super affordable prices not to mention the proceeds go back into the DTES community.  Win win.

Favourite city planning perks: An abundance of safe bike lanes + lack of highways that obstruct our gorgeous views + kilometers of waterfront paths.

Tomica

Eat: Guu
My first culinary experience in Vancouver was at Guu (Robson and Thurlow) and has remained one of my favourites. The moment you walk through the door you are welcomed by the sounds of joyous, incomprehensible Japanese screaming that makes you feel equal parts welcome and slightly afraid. The izkaya style grub is great for sharing and is SUPER affordable (not something that can easily be said in this city). Favourite items include the duck salad and Kimchi-fried rice (it’s not on the menu, remember to ask for it).
Drink: The Narrow
While I still love a good dive bar (and always will), my tolerance for the B.O.+beer+barf odeur that accompanies such establishments has dropped considerably since I entered my thirties. Well the Narrow’s got grit meets glam down to a T. The grimy exterior with spray-painted walls and no sign out front leads to a dimly lit, chandelier-and-antler filled interior playing great indie beats. The narrow space means you still get the occasional beer in the face (kidding!).
Listen: The Biltmore
What do I love most about this place? The fact that it’s 5 blocks away from my apartment? The fact that you can still see great bands in an intimate setting for under $15? The fact that they have Toonie Tuesdays? The fact that they have a Tetris machine? Check, check, check and check.
Play: Stanley Park
You haven’t really lived in Vancouver until you’ve sat on 3rd beach on a sunny day, looked into the ocean and said “this is what makes it all worth it”. We spend most of our days complaining about the rain, but on the rare occasion the sun does appear – you feel lucky to be here. Going for a bike ride along the sea wall and running into everyone you know at 3rd beach making a communal blanket out of their towels = best day ever.
(Photo by Sandra Z)
We’ve come across a lot of good in this city over the last year and we plan on spending the next year uncovering and sharing more.  Throw in a bike bail or two.

Make Your Own Wine

Nothing tops a nice glass of smooth and soothing wine after a hard day’s work. Oh yeah, how about basking in the glory of a bottle that bears YOUR name?

When my boyfriend told me he was making his own wine I envisioned a fun outing to the countryside where festive folk rolled up their trousers Lucille Ball style and stomped on grapes.

Turns out there’s a place in Cloverdale, BC that does the messy part for you, called Quality Wine Cellars. What’s left for you is to simply select the type of wine you’d like to make and wait for the fun part. The cellar prepares the raw materials and calls you when they have properly fermented. Then it’s up to you to bottle, cork and apply your own personalized labels at their facility.

We opted for the fortified kind (naturally) and went with a delectable Blackberry Port. Port wine can cost a pretty penny but with the DIY method you get to save big bucks, have a ton of fun, and be as narcissistic as you like. Anybody interested in a glass of 2011 port straight from Tomikola Estates? That’s right, you read it correctly.

Tomikola Estates

Photo by Nikola Jurlina

Needless to say, these bottles can make great gifts (you’ll walk away with a fair share of them, might be wise to go in on a batch with a group of friends) and guarantee boasting rights.


DIY Decor

Inspired by Sandra’s wallpaper post yesterday, I decide to continue the theme of DIY home décor with a post of my own. Ok, the ideas are not my own, but I’ve compiled a few of my favourites:

1. Find furniture for cheap on Craigslist and give it a face-lift with a bit of paint.

Lining the drawers with pretty wrapping paper is also a nice touch (and helps you get over any icky feelings about keeping you panties where someone else might have kept their pet spider).

(Courtesy of www.designspongeonline.com)

2. Recreate your own 17th century still life painting.

Not too many people can afford fine art like this Osias Beert original….

So why not recreate your own? Better yet, make it in 3D!

(Image courtesy of theglamourai.com)

I think this is a gorgeous yet humorous concept that can really boost any foyer and you won’t have to pull a Thomas Crown Affair to get it.

3. Turn your junk into décor.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I love the idea of repurposing run-down, defunct objects for home décor. I pass by this bike on my way home almost every day on the 10th and Columbia block and it always makes me smile.

I’d love to see your best trash into treasure makeovers so send them my way!


Saving a Pretty Penny

Last week Sandra efficiently enlightened us with some wise moves for tax-free savings. But a question many of us might be is asking is – how does one end up with cash to spare?

The short answer: Budget.

Maybe it would be easier to do if it was more fun to say. Budget sounds so drab. Budget. Budge it. Bah-dgit. Nope, not a fun word.

But would it help if it at least looked pretty? You know, like using that polka dot notebook for math class to help you subconsciously like the subject better? Or was that just me…?

While googling “polka dot budget” and “cute budget” didn’t heed any useful results, “free budget template” did. Although functional, they all looked pretty boring so I decided to dress mine up in patterns to comply with the style for Spring.

You can check out my sample “dots and stripes expense report” and “leopard print budget comparison chart” here: Budget and expense tracker (the amounts listed are solely for demonstration purposes).

Feel free to use it or modify it to keep you on track and in style.


Uh oh: Your Finances

With the RRSP deadline looming  (it’s less than one short week away), some of you still haven’t decided whether or not you’re going to contribute this year.  You have in the past because the allure of receiving a portion of your taxes back immediately trumped the knowledge that you’ll have to incur those taxes when you’re retired.

Well, before you contribute to your RRSP account this year, I want you to think for a minute about another investment vehicle available to you.

In January 2009, the Canadian government introduced the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), which many of you are already familiar with.  I’m going to recap the RRSP’s and TFSA’s benefits and disadvantages to help you decide where to invest your savings (assuming you aren’t investing them all in the extensive draught beer selection at the bar near your house).

RRSP account

Pros:

  • You’ll receive a tax deduction if you contribute within your limit
  • Tax-free compounding over time (you don’t pay taxes on the interest, dividends or capital gains the savings earn)
  • Several investment options available within the RRSP
  • Helps you save for the future (ie. all the bingo you will be playing in your 70s)

Cons:

  • You will incur income taxes upon redemption during your retirement
  • You will be charged a fee if you redeem any of your contributions before retirement (exceptions are the purchase of your first home or paying for post-secondary education).  You may consider this a benefit if it helps you ensure your retirement savings remain saved.
  • Maximum investment is your CRA contribution limit

TFSA

Pros:

  • Tax-free compounding over time (you don’t pay taxes on the interest, dividends or capital gains your savings earn)
  • Accessibility: you can dip into these savings without financial penalty at any time
  • Several investment options available within the TFSA

Cons:

  • Investing in a TFSA does not yield a tax deduction
  • Maximum investment is $5,000 per calendar year

If you’re still unsure about where to invest, consider the marginal tax rate you face now versus the one you expect to face upon retirement.  If the marginal tax rate you faced in 2010 is higher than the one you expect to face at retirement, it might be a good idea to invest in an RRSP.  If, however, the marginal tax rate you faced in 2010 is lower than the one you expect to face at retirement, think about investing in a TFSA instead.  Something else to consider is how flexible you want your money to be.  Your TFSA savings will always be accessible to you, penalty free, while the same is not true of an RRSP contribution.

As a dear friend once told me, I wonder if I should invest in RSVPs this year.  Hmmm.  I wonder indeed.


Yes, I’m going to talk about buttons

Like many of you, I like new stuff.  It’s a trait that I’ll likely never outgrow.  Similarly, I like re-discovering things I already own, be it old fashion magazines with sexy spreads or a cardigan tucked away behind piles of sweaters in my closet.  Revisiting something you already own but forgot you had makes it feel new in a way.

Another great way to make an old piece of clothing feel new – and give it character – is by adding unique details to it.  For example, a thick strip of black leather on each shoulder of a dress, suede or corduroy patches on the elbows of sweaters or swapping out old generic buttons for new ones that stand out.

This last way of upgrading something old is the easiest.  And it can cost you as little as a dollar. You can even make an afternoon of it.

Go for a bike ride with a friend to Button Button in Gastown.  They have the best selection of unique buttons in the city.  Before you know it, you’ll be inspired by the various possibilities of resurrecting your old clothes.  When my friend Jess visited me from Toronto a couple of years ago, we spent over an hour in Button Button oooh-ing and ahhh-ing everything we saw.  She had crazy wild stories to retell when she returned to Toronto:

Jess’ friend: “What did you do in Vancouver?”

Jess: “We bought buttons.”

There’s myriad ways of revamping your clothes and accessories with buttons:

  • The standard way: remove the old buttons and replace with the awesome new ones
  • Add buttons as accents to purses and bags like I have:

  • Get creative.  Buy ten of the same button and create interest on a plain shirt by sewing a line of buttons down the front or back (not both).  Or, cuff the sleeves of a tee and sew them in place with gold buttons.  Create a brooch effect by grouping many buttons onto the lapel of your blazer.  (Are brooches in this season?  I can’t keep track)

There you have it.  A dirt cheap way to refresh your wardrobe.

And for all you wisecrackin’ readers out there: no, my next post will not be about scrapbooking.