Olive This & More

“I buy extra virgin olive oil by the case (much less expensive this way) and reach for it several times a day. I use it to marinate and cook my protein, saute my vegetables, and drizzle on my salads.”  —  Suzanne Somers


Running errands in Victoria’s core downtown,

I stopped at Olive This & More to pick up

another bottle of Tuscan herb

infused olive oil, a staple in our cupboard.


This was supposed to be a quick stop.

Not so…………I was soon side-tracked.





The rows of stainless steel urns with their informative labels begged closer inspection.

As I was processing the information on a label of extra virgin olive oil, a helpful staff member urged me to try a series of three different olive oils.  The first one was made from the arbosana olive, a Spanish cultivar grown in Chile, and was noted as a mild flavoured olive oil.

Next was an oil of the picual olive, a Spanish cultivar grown in Australia.  Immediately I could taste the difference.

Then I tried the oil from the picholine olive, a French cultivar grown in Australia, yielding a strong flavoured oil.  The difference was remarkable!

Just like the the taste of wines

varies according to the grapes

(among other factors),

so it is with olive oils.

So much to discover! 

The shop offers ready-made gift baskets,  or you can choose products to have a basket put together.


Olive This & More offers other tantalizing culinary fare as well, such as jars of various olives……….

……….salsas made by Tasteful Essentials in Parksville, above, and their sauces, below……………

………….smoked oysters from Campbell River,  Gunpowder Sauce’s flavoured pepper sauces from Nanaimo…………
…………….flavoured finishing salts from Saltwest Naturals in Sooke…………..

……………..and concentrated sauces from That Extra Touch in Qualicum Beach.
Saltwest Naturals in Sooke also offers a line of bath salts, below.
What an array of very distinct products, all made right here on Vancouver Island!
And of course, Olive This & More offers specialty oils, as well as white and dark balsamic vinegars, plus infused balsamic vinegars.

These are some of the oils and vinegars already in our cupboard.
Picking up my Tuscan herb infused olive oil, for which I originally came, I added some small gift packs which are always appreciated by the recipients.

Visit this tiny shop with its world of information and flavours!

Olive This & More
619 Broughton St, Victoria

Mon-Fri 10 – 5:30,  Sat 10 – 5,  Sun 12 – 4.

Russell Nursery

“Gardening is how I relax.  It’s another form of creating and playing with colours.”  — Oscar de la Renta

How lucky I felt to find this charming and well-stocked garden nursery close to our home when we first moved to the Greater Victoria area!

Just driving through the entrance gate, even on this December day, made me feel warm, knowing I was entering one of my “happy places”.

On this visit, my eye was immediately attracted to this leatherleaf mahonia which bursts out in spring with stalks of yellow flowers, and in fall shows off its needle-edged leaves topped with blue berries.
Russell Nursery staff have a solid knowledge of their plants and our microclimate here on the Peninsula.

Upon their recommendation, I’ve planted Mountain Fire Pieris (above), ubiquitous in this area, and various rhododendrons which even now in December sneak out a few blossoms, like this ‘Elizabeth Ostbo’ rhodo (below), ready to burst open…..

……….and this overly optimistic ‘Hansel’ rhododendron (below).

Walking past the benches of heathers,

I was drawn to one of my favourite performers, the Callicarpa beautyberry shrub (below).

Russell Nursery offers pottery, next to their shade garden.

Walking in the shade garden back to the main plant and shop area, I caught the sun on a large pot.
As this was approaching Christmas, it occurred to me that if one was searching for an extraordinary gift for a special gardener, one of these Halls English greenhouses would surely make a lasting impression!

But the stars of Russell Nursery right now are all the seasonal items, starting of course with trees, such as Douglas fir, Grand fir and some pines, sourced in Mill Bay and Duncan here on the Island.

The area normally filled with flowering trees is now chock-full of these cut evergreen trees, ready for decorating.

Christmas planters and centerpieces are made on-site using local plants.

Or you can design your own arrangements using Russell Nursery’s design elements.



I made my way to the garden shop where I knew the wood-burning stove would cheerily welcome me.

The garden shop is the business end of things where payment is made for purchases.  Brian Russell and his wife, Michele, have owned and operated the nursery for 25 years and are easing into retirement in January, 2018 as they sold the nursery to two of their senior staff, Susan Tice and Laurel Rassenti.
We’ll still be able to catch Brian on site in the coming months, as he’s remaining to help with a smooth transition to the new ownership.

Not only are Susan and Laurel the new owners, but they have decades of experience and this translates to the entire staff being educated regarding the plants and merchandise they sell.

Laurel pointed out to me the acid-etched steel art created by Roz Stanton from Pemberton, BC.

Unique gardening books are offered.

Laurel and I both commented on the Rustic Woodcrafts birdhouses (below, left) which are created less than two km from Russell Nursery.
Also offered is the Pender Botanicals line of soaps, cremes, balms and candles (above, right, and below) made on neighbouring Pender Island.

Susan and her staff offer a number of classes where participants can make their own holiday wreath or centrepiece.  Workshops are held next to the shop and all supplies are provided.

Having no personal experience with this, a friend and I took the wreath-making workshop, and these are the wreaths I made in 2016 (left) and 2017.

I think I’m getting the hang of it!

Russell Nursery
1370 Wain Road, North Saanich     
Closed Dec 23rd through Jan 31st


 Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things.

  The Sound Of Music – My Favorite Things Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I visited one of my favourite stores today, French Vanilla Home and Garden, and had a delightful chat with the owner Sheila Stone. I adore this store and when I want inspiration or simply refreshment in vision I stop by and browse through the many displays that Sheila has so beautifully designed.


Sheila’s artistic eye favours Nordic and Farmhouse French; a casual look that can pair a crystal chandelier with grainsack cushions, mixing textiles of homespun fabric with velour and velvet.

French Vanilla carries the wonderful Belgium magazine, Jeanne d’Arc Living, which illustrates so beautifully Nordic French design.

Sheila introduced me to Fusion Mineral Paint. It has a built in top coat and you don’t have to wax it. She has been carrying it for four years and finds it to be easy to use with a lasting finish. This might be the ticket for the vintage mirror that I found on line.

Sheila has a passion for painting furniture. She holds workshops in How to Paint furniture, and How to use glaze and waxes and hopes to hold more classes in the new year. This is her petit studio where the workshops are held.

She carries Rub on Transfers…adding a French touch to furniture and mirrors…a number of the Rub on Transfers are made from old French graphics…..how gorgeous is this mirror!!

…and Sheila also carries Decorative Stamping.

Using ink or paint you can stamp onto fabric or furniture. How stunning is this chest!

Sheila stocks French soaps, Lavender, and locally made candles and cushions,

and handmade cards.

Sheila welcomes her customers to browse, chat and discuss ideas and questions they may have on decor and/or products. She was most helpful in helping me to decide on how to ‘freshen up’ my powder room. Before we leave let us take one more stroll around the shop.




A bientot!

French Vanilla Home and Garden

1848 Oak Bay Avenue

Victoria BC

250 592 0422


Check the website for workshop information and/or phone the store to put your name on the list for workshops.

Best of Both Worlds, now at Fan Tan Alley

“When we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives.” — Yo-Yo Ma

Linda and I visited Best of Both Worlds at the Quadra Street location in the fall of 2015.  http://www.victoriassecretgems.ca/best-of-both-worlds-imports/
However, this new location in popular Fan Tan Alley is proving to be a good move, due to the enhanced foot traffic.


The first thing that caught my eye upon

entering the store was this silk lamp

from Thailand.  Striking!



Then there was the collection of  small

lidded boxes — a weakness of mine! —

made of mango wood.

Of course, there were Thai silk scarves……………

………………….beautiful hand crafted paper parasols………..

………………..picnic baskets from China………….an elephant table from Thailand……..

……………..Thai silk cushions……………….

……………..carved statues and figures………….

……………wall carvings…………………bamboo ladders for climbing or for displaying throws, etc.

And then there was the furniture, such as this 12-drawer teak cabinet from Thailand,
or this 30″ saddle stool from China,
or this reclaimed teak cabinet from Thailand,
or this substantial warrior chair made of monkey wood from Thailand, or this armoire from China.

There were several styles of carts from India.

There were unique shelf units or bar storage units from India made of reclaimed wood and iron.

Reclaimed wood items from India seemed to be particularly popular.

Perhaps because I’m a newly minted grandma, I was drawn to this child’s rocker from Thailand,

and this, my favourite piece, a unique chest from India made of reclaimed wood.

Do visit this charming store in Fan Tan Alley or the warehouse on Quadra St and let your senses experience some of the unique products from the Far Eastern world.  Your sense of smell will let you know when you’ve crossed the threshold!


Best of Both Worlds

19 Fan Tan Alley

2713 Quadra Street 


Mon – Sat 10 – 5,  Sun Noon – 5

Red Barn Market

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”   — Henry Ford

The Red Barn Market is known around Victoria for its good quality, fresh, local produce and the meats and cheeses sourced locally.  There are currently six Red Barn Market stores in the Greater Victoria area.

Outdoors 1

The Red Barn Market opened its doors in 2005 at Mattick’s Farm location in Cordova Bay.

Meat 1The Red Barn Market is known for sourcing meat locally, smoking these meats and cheeses as well at their own local smokehouse.

Sausages 1         Their own sausages are made daily.

Outdoors 2          Produce is sourced locally as well.  In fact, the Red Barn Market proudly features Island grown, Island raised, Island made foods.

Personal mealsPersonal meals are prepared by Red Barn Market staff and are big sellers to locals.  This Market at Mattick’s Farm is on the Lochside trail, so cyclists are frequent shoppers here.  Our son swears that the wraps at the West Saanich Red Barn location got him and his classmates through their Civil Eng Tech program!

Unique products 2The Red Barn market offers a number of unique products not generally carried in supermarkets, such as these bread kits.        Mrs Bridges Preserves             What to choose!  That really was my dilemma.
As I pondered this, a shopper came by and struck up a casual conversation, and she advised that the Red Barn’s meats are “clean”, always fresh, and are less expensive than similar meats at the supermarkets.

Apricot Peach Preserve    I chose a jar of Mrs. Bridges’ Apricot & Peach Preserve — great choice on the next morning’s toast!


Red Barn Market,  Mattick’s Farm
129-5325 Cordova Bay Rd,  Victoria       
7 am – 7 pm daily

Red Barn Market,  West Saanich
5550 West Saanich Rd,  Victoria

250- 479-8349
7 am – 8:30 daily

Red Barn Market,  Vanalman
751 Vanalman Ave. Victoria
6:30 am – 8:30 pm daily

Red Barn Market,  Oak Bay
1933 Oak Bay Ave. Victoria
6:30 am – 9 pm daily

Red Barn Market,  611 Brookside Road
Victoria  (Colwood)
6:30 am – 8 pm daily

Red Barn Market,  1310 Esquimalt Rd,
Victoria  (Esquimalt)
Mon – Fri  6 -9,  Sat & Sun 8 – 9

SheShe Shoes

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” —  Harry Winston

This 4-metre topiary in downtown Victoria made me stop in wonderment this past summer, but admittedly, it was due to the green thumb in me, not so much to the fact that I had shoes on my mind. But since that seed was planted……….yeah, the pun is intended!………we did go over to She She Shoes.

On offer we found ankle boots…………and prim ‘n’ smart loafers………

……….and flat-heeled ankle boots, such as these by Blonde.

There are practical items such as these flats from Butterfly Twists…..
……..aptly named, because the heel tucks into the toe of the flat, like a cocoon, taking up little space when travelling.


Socks are offered too.




And there are the warm-weather


……………like these sandals from Miz Mooz………..

……………and these lace-ups from Sacha London.

The shoes in this shop could almost be considered commonplace………….almost………

……………but then we noticed these very comfy and colourful flats, and these pumped-up lace-ups….

………….and these booties…………….

………….and these flats from Poetic Licence………….

……………and these almost-staid polka dotted pumps…………….
…………….and these almost-practical shoes from Shoe the Bear:

……….and then it got interesting.

You love animals, and you want to put that forward?  Try these!

Or these, from Irregular Choice.

And then the heels kicked it up a notch…………

……………..moving to the ice creams, …………………….

 ………….to Bambi, ……………….

…………the stacked dice…………………..

…………….the pink flamingos………….

……………and even an adorable bride & groom pair in which to kick things up in style at a wedding!

Those heels made these shoes look tame by comparison:

Even the flaming red embellished pair looked almost demure!

I HAD to try some…………….

……….and walked out, a delighted customer!  Even the shoe box is unique!

She She Shoes
618 View St
250- 383-1883

Mon – Sat 10 – 5:30,  Sun noon – 5

Art in the Barn Gallery

“Great art picks up where Nature ends.”  — Marc Chagall

Tucked onto a natural, forested acreage just off West Saanich Road is a most unusual barn.
No question, it’s a barn;  inside, you can see the concrete curbs on each side of the main aisle which formed the footings for the horse stalls.  The floors slope toward this middle aisle — that was a functional slope.

What is unusual is the contents.
This former barn now houses horses differently – horses painted on canvas.

It also houses other animals, painted on canvasses…………..

………because, as no doubt is apparent,
this is a barn converted into a gallery.

The proprietors are Jacqui and Gabriel.

Jacqui is a painter, and all the paintings
featured in this post are hers.

In addition to her own resource material,
Jacqui also paints animals by commission,
such as the two portraits of dogs, above.

Gabriel is a photographer.
Several of his matted and framed photographs are exhibited in the gallery.

Nature figures strongly as a resource in
Gabriel’s photographic work.

Other local artists’ work is also welcome to be exhibited in the gallery.

The art pieces, above and below, are examples of Gabriel’s photographs taken in nature.

Linda tried to gauge the size of this creation by Jacqui.
The art piece depicts a sight that’s so typical of our Peninsula outside Victoria.  It is this aspect of nature that Jacqui continues to capture in her paintings.

Gabriel also spends hours to get the “perfect” shot of a specific aspect of nature that he wants to share.
He also photographs “found” items!

Matted prints of Jacqui’s paintings and Gabriel’s photography work are available unframed as well.


The painting above, right, is one by Jacqui of Gabriel.

Art in a Barn is a true gem………local artists creating, displaying, and making available to others the personal creations of Nature that they want to share.    Check it out!


Art in the Barn Gallery
4578 Hughes Road



Thur – Sun 10 – 4  or by appointment












Cast Art Studios

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.   And you are beautiful.”   —
Amy Bloom

Seeing such a sign generally does not instill confidence in the quality of items below that arrow!

And the “showroom” is a fenced off portion of a parking lot just off an industrial street on the Peninsula.
But let us not generalize!
These items are not ones that you’ll tuck up under your arm as you head off to the cashier.
They’re statuary made of concrete, and they are large, and they are heavy.    












And they are durable — tested to withstand even Prairie winters — and I recall plenty of those!
We checked things over carefully………

…..including the bird baths, of course………decorative pedestals……


………interesting benches………..
……………..wall art…………..

…………serenity-inspiring statuary……………


……….and my personal fave, which has nothing at all to do

with the fact that I’m about to become a grandma!


These palletized items are ready for shipping, to anywhere!

So, you want statement garden art?    Where y’ gonna go?

Cast Art Studios
2145 Keating Cross Road

Mon – Fri    9 am – 4 pm


GBuddy Leatherworks

A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist. Louis Nizer
Meet Gord Budden; craftsman and most certainly an artist.

I met Gord and his wife Janet at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific during the Art and Music in the Gardens weekend. They were one of many talented artists displaying their wares.

Gord designs and creates leather hand bags, yoga totes, belts & straps and collars & leashes. Every aspect of the process of crafting with leather is done with pride by hand states Gord.

By hand, folks ….. “hand cut, hand tooled, hand stitched, hand finished.” His work is stunning.

Let’s take a look.

Yoga totes….note engraving on the totes…. Gord welcomes the opportunity to personalize an item for you.

Belts and straps…take a look at the belts for the guitar player in the house, notice the ‘fretboard and the frets’ on the belts. So clever!

Leashes and poo bag holders….yep, you read that correctly…..Gord has designed a place to hold the bags for your dog’s excrement…and he will engrave a picture of your dog on the poo bag holder. Brilliant!


Up close….wallets…..poo bag carrier….note the engraved dog faces…..your dog could be on a carrier.


Like a crow attracted to bling my eye instantly picked out this leather hand bag. Gorgeous!


….but this messenger bag is also very attractive.

Gord welcomes custom orders and you can reach him at his website: http://www.gbuddyleatherworks.ca/

The website displays many more of Gord’s beautifully crafted leather works.




Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.

Henry Ward Beecher

I would like to introduce you to Karen Booth – Artist. Born and raised in the Lower Mainland, Karen has called Sidney home for over 20 years.
 Karen has a comprehensive background in the Visual Arts. She spent 7 years as a set decorator in the film industry, designed site decor for the Fringe Festival, Writer Festival and the Comedy Festival in the Lower Mainland, taught painting classes and sold craft project designs to Woman’s Day magazine from 1998-2007. Karen is now inspired to take an image (her painting) and translate it onto apparel and home decor. The results are stunning. Let us take a look.
Karen’s paintings (an image)….
…translated onto…
sundresses and kimonos
matching cloth bags,
leggings, capris and tank tops
pencil/makeup cases….so vibrant and beautiful!
and I-Phone cases.
Karen’s art work is stunning and translates beautifully onto the material. The fabric is milled and manufactured in Canada and the company that Karen works with is based in Quebec. To order Karen’s art wear you must go to the link below and order through the company.
To order clothes, bags, pillow cases etc.. here is the link to the shop.
Follow Karen on Instagram: @karen.j.booth
For more information contact Karen by email: karenjunebooth@gmail.com