Pampered by Gail: Big City Service, Uptown Price (Uptown Rutland, That Is!)

Pampering By Gail

In Gail’s cozy home spa.

Pampered by Gail, found in a little U-shaped townhouse complex just off Hwy 33, is a home spa.  The perfect place for Found In Rutland to profile as it fits the criteria of surprisingly great things that you might not know were here.

It’s the end unit on the left.

I visited Gail this week and met the super cute, petite lady as she invited me into her home where her Pampered by Gail services are housed.  Through her livingroom and up on the 2nd floor, her little oasis has all the things that you need for a perfect mani, pedi or facial.

Her certificates, displayed on the wall, proudly proclaim her successful training and transformation from a hospitality professional to a beauty industry professional.

With an emphasis on health and cleanliness, Gail creates a peaceful and upbeat experience along with a first rate service.

She explained to me the process of a good manicure which starts with impeccably  cleaned instruments, processes through several stages including a lightly fragrant hand massage and ends with perfectly coloured nails and a manicure that should last 3 weeks with normal wear.  (ie. not digging through rocks or bathing your hands in acid)

If you are a bit spa-phobic like I am or if you’d just prefer to spend a little less money for the same great service, do yourself a favour and check out Pampered by Gail.  Her calm, kind hospitality make you feel like you are hanging out with a friend and her professionalism and attention to detail will leave your hands, feet or face polished and perfect.

Give her a call at 250-801-8288 or email her at

Finished Manicure.

Free Professional Theatre (or nearly free)

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What if you need to reconcile with your family?

What if you did something unforgiveable; violated your own ethics and the expectations of everyone you know?

What if you left home in a blaze of glory, “I’ll do it my own way! Who needs your suffocating expectations?!”, then find yourself alone, friendless and dragging around your own personal bag of fail?

It is the plotline of so many films, the inspiration behind so much great art that we forget its genesis as a story called, “The Prodical Son”, told by probably the most famous storyteller who ever lived.  This story wears many different clothes and goes by many different names as it walks in and out through our collective conscience.

Maybe it is because our universal propensity to screw up everything .  Maybe it is because we all need to know that we can come home again.

Whatever the reason for the universal appeal of the uplifting message, it is getting a fresh treatment by the Saltmine Theatre Company.  The 3 person troupe, from the UK, is here for a few days touring the play, “A Long Way Home”, which is a comedic treatment of the familiar heart-wrenching subject.

It will be performed 5 times from January 29 to Feb 5 in various locations around Kelowna and you can find the info that you need at Willow Park Church‘s website.

As far as the Free/Almost Free note, it is not a ticketed event, rather, a by donation at the door event.  Usually this means that you donate within your means, $1 – $100, whatever. Pretty sure they won’t make a scene or turn anyone away if you don’t have a buck to pop in the box.

Picasso’s Coffee Break

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A student studies at a table, savouring her tea as she pours over her books. Nearby, on  one of the comfortable stuffed couches, friends are in deep conversation as they sip their lattes.

Picasso’s Coffee Break is easily found on the corner of Rutland and Gray, with its unique and artsy exterior providing a warm welcome, even in the midst of winter. Once inside, the the warmth and atmosphere of this coffee shop immediately says, “c’mon in, relax, and stay awhile.”

The walls feature artwork by — naturally — Pablo Picasso, which adds to the artsy-and-comfortable appeal of Picasso’s. Rebekah, the cheerful owner, is happy to point out the many extra little touches that she has brought into the coffee shop in order to give it a “come in and stay” dynamic.

“Actually, I was a customer of Picasso’s for years,” Rebekah laughs, as we enjoy lattes and lunch. “The very first day that it opened for business, I applied for a job here, and I told the (original) owner, ‘You want to hire me, or you’ll be sorry!’ I didn’t get the job, but now I own the place.”

Rebekah loved the atmosphere of Picasso’s, and the relationships with the regulars who frequent the shop for lunch — “that’s our peak time, definitely!” — and once she took over managing Picasso’s, she added things like a bookshelf with novels, to increase the sense of connection and community within the shop.

Rebekah is also proud of the fact that Picasso’s promotes healthy living, by having all organic foods, with no processed meats or cheese for their sandwiches, and that everything is fresh on a daily bases. “And no nitrates.”

And Picasso’s continues to have its regulars, among them the staff from Interior Health, who stop by almost daily for lunch. Rebekah’s commitment to healthy, organic foods makes her very pleased that health workers would choose her place to eat on a regular basis. The sandwiches, soups, and desserts are always fresh.

Picasso’s is open Monday through Frieday from 7:00 AM till 5:00 PM, although increasingly, people are choosing to rent Picasso’s for special events and parties, as well. “It’s absolutely packed in here a lot of evenings for private events,” says Rebekah.

We had to ask, as our lunch time with Rebekah came to a close, what had ever become of the original owner, after not hiring Rebekah back when Picasso’s first opened. As it turns out, there’s a story to tell about that, as well.

“Jim really missed our regular customers,” says Rebekah, “and the relationships he’d made with them, so he un-retired, and now he works here again.” Jim’s experience, coupled with Rebekah’s creativity, drive, and innovation, has created a unique synergy.

Picasso’s Coffee Break is designed deliberately to create a warm, inviting place for people to stop by for lunch, and stay longer, put their feet up with a book or magazine and a latte with friends.

Definitely one of the gems to be found in Rutland.

Neil Howe’s Christmas Lightshow

“I think the thing people are most shocked by, is that I’m not eighty years old,” quips Neil Howe, builder of one of Rutland’s highly creative Christmas light displays. “I’ve been doing this since the mid-90’s, but I’m not old!”

Inspired by the show Crazy Christmas Lights, Neil began creating his own display about fifteen years ago, and has been adding to it year by year ever since.

“It makes our electrical bill go crazy, at least for December,” says Howe, “but the neighbours are big fans and it brings a lot of Christmas cheer to the people on our street.”

“I have to choose my laundry times carefully. Our fuse boxes are maxed out, so I can’t run laundry or the microwave after 4:00 pm.”

Neil is not exaggerating for effect — electrical extension cords snake their way all around the front yard, driveway, roof, and sneak into the house here and there, to find power in outlets both inside and outside of the house. Including plugging into the washing machine. The Christmas light and music show requires it.

Neil proudly confirms his skills as a “redneck engineer”, and the more you look at how the various Christmas elements were created, the more it becomes clear that a lot of creativity and ingenuity has gone in his Christmas hobby. “I’ll see something somewhere, and I’ll think to myself, ‘I want to do something like that’, and then I just get creative with whatever I’ve got, to make it happen,” says Neil. “Garage sales are a great source for more lights and stuff. Even with everything we’ve set up, half of it is still in the garage.”

Mop handles, florescent light bulbs, old coffee cans, lots of plywood, sonotubes, wicker balls, and even a sea-doo towing Santa Claus on a wakeboard make up some of the brightly lit features in Neil’s front yard.

Fifteen different timers control the lights and their rhythms, and  cheerful Christmas music accompanies the visuals.

“I wanted to say ‘Merry Christmas from the Griswalds’, except that I’m not falling off the roof”, laughs Howe, who wears a full safety harness he’s installing new features into the extensive light show. The ever-evolving display on the front lawn includes a wide variety of themes, from Santa riding a wakeboard, to palm trees and an image of a Harley on his kitchen window.

Not content to leave things as they are, Howe’s future plans include using computers to synchronize the lights to specific Christmas songs, and to continue to refine the current display.

“We had 9000 lights running at our former residence, nine years ago,” Neil reminisces, donning his signature hat, “and here, the only limitations we have are space, and electrical outlets. I’ve already got more ideas for next year.”

Leanne Spanza: Bold, Contemporary Landscape Artist

Looking around the cozy artist’s cottage where Leanne Spanza spends her creative time painting, one can see many intriguing items on the shelves: an old, retro-style toaster, Trevor Linden’s rookie card, an old alarm clock that never worked, and various other unique pieces of memorabilia.

“And there’s a story behind each one,” says Leanne, the cheerful and easy-going artist whose work adorns the walls of the studio. And the same is true even of the furniture: a refinished desk (“that belonged to my parents”), and the accompanying chair (“my grandfather’s”).

It becomes obvious very quickly that Leanne Spanza loves the stories behind both the eclectic items collected in the studio, as well her approach to painting. When asked to describe her unique style, Leanne smiles and points to the sign above the entrance to the studio — itself a plank of wood with a story (“we found it when we were digging up our garden”) — which sums up Leanne’s approach to painting in three short, evocative phrases: “Simple Lines. Bold Colour. Happy Art.”

Inspired by the work of Ted Harrison and also the story-telling artwork of First Nations artists, Leanne began painting in 2003. Her background is in interior design, and when asked what brought about her decision to start painting, Leanne’s smile appears quickly again; “Well, we had just bought our first house, and we needed some artwork for the walls.” Leanne dove into painting full-time in 2010, during her maternity leave, and has painted on many canvases since.

Leanne showed us her sketchbook, filled with pencil drawings which later became paintings, many accompanied by hand-written notes. “Those are the ideas and suggestions of clients who have commissioned me to paint for them,” Leanne explains, “When people ask me to create something for them, I listen carefully to hear their story, and to take their suggestions — like the colours they most like — when I start painting for them.”

Originally from North Vancouver, Leanne and her husband have spent time in far-flung destinations such as Alberta and Belize, before settling into Kelowna.

Leanne’s studio is flanked on one side by their large vegetable garden, and on the other by many large sunflowers. “There are a lot of bold colours around here,” laughs Leanne, “especially in the summertime.”

The homey studio was renovated by Leanne and her husband, and is as cheerful and welcoming as both the artist and the art she creates.

Leanne Spanza’s art has been featured at various “Art in the Park” venues around the Okanagan and beyond, and can be viewed online at her website To get to know this talented painter better, Leanne also has a blog, Leanne Spanza’s Sketchbook, where you can see more of her art and the stories behind them.

Living Nativity: Willow Park Church, Hwy 33

Every Christmas for 20 years Willow Park Church has produced an extraordinary  Christmas spectacle as a gift to the community.  It has grown to the point of serving 7000+ guests in recent years.

This was my first time.

Finding parking was pretty smooth.  And people were fairly jolly in the lineups.  We went into the church’s giant belly for some Christmas joy.

The first people that I talked with were the ushers.

They are pretty easy to find since they are all wearing red scarves.

Next I checked out the musician’s circle on the right of the stage on floor level.  You might see some familiar faces if you are fans of – let’s see….Cowboy Bob!

The big church was packed when the show started.  Curtis “Cowboy Bob” and his team of musicians scrolled through a legacy of sacred Christmas songs.  Most of the audience was humming along, recognizing pretty much every song.

Then the stage production began.  A pleasant narrator, some dancing angels (thank God not 4 yr olds, while cute as bug’s ears are also as boring as bug’s ears unless you know the bugs in question), the regular cast of Christmas persons : Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, John the Baptist (growing up strangely quickly and chronologically improbably), Joseph and everyone’s favorite virgin, Mary, some shepards and some wise men rounded out the traditional Christmas cast.  Then the pastor, also wearing a lovely red scarf, like the ushers (I always associate this kind of scarf with Ebeneezer Scrooge after his makeover), wished us all cups overflowing with eggnog and lights that light up properly which is a far cry more pleasant that a scolding over materialism and gluttony.  Thank you, “Philip”, as your mum would say….

Now, I have been to more than a few Christmas services in my day.  Generally, this is the point in the program where we all get into our cars and go home. Surprise!  In the lobby are living mannequins.  And they are all Victorian-y.  “Ooooooh, this is new”, I say to myself.

It goes like this:  Lobby, Victorian parlour (at least that’s what it seemed to me…at any rate, it is super pretty), then into the hub-bub of 2000 yrs ago Bethlehem – complete with an occupying army of interactive Romans and a few live chickens.  Finally, you find yourself back in the Victorian era (my how time flies) and you are eating cookies.

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Terrific night!  Great show.  Excellent opportunity for time travel. Warm Christmasy feeling – I can see why 7000 people pile in here every year.  Go for goodness sake!  It’s on for 2 more days.

Uptown Rutland Business Association Meetup at Dave’s

So here I am back at Dave’s.  Starting to think that it might actually be the centre of the universe.  Let’s see… last time it was all about men’s facial hair.  This time it is a big gang of people with interesting businesses. URBA.

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I met only a few of them, alas.  But there’s another party like this next month!!

I met Janet from Pros Writing and Editing (I should hire her to write and edit this blog!) – she can write and edit anything. and a terrific artist names Leanne who paints bright, bold acrylics (which I want to buy for my house).

A new business owner, Gail, who has reno’ed a space in her home to do mani and pedis.  Quite fabulous – she also does men’s nailcare, she assures me. (no, I’m not a man but I am forever curious) .  You can make appointments with her at

In the space vacated by a florist and a hairstylist on Rutland Road will come Shawanda: Holistic Wellness Center.  Turns out, the building that they are renovating for their center used to be one large house that built out toward the road a line of storefronts.  So the inside feels homey and restful.  That’s that building down by the new John Howard residence which shares the old storefront-buildout with  T.I.E.R.S.  If you want to investigate you could email Holly

I shall not forget (ever) meeting Ono.  He tints windows (mainly for commercial buildings).  Give him a call if the glare is getting to you.

Then there was Brian.  Easily the gentlest financial broker I have ever met.  I think that he would be perfect if you are completely freaked out by the current financial situation and you wanted to talk to someone calm.  To calm your rattled money-nerves look up

After a glass of wine and some lovely appies, meeting a slew of new people, each busting with entrepreneurial spirit, in walks Santa.  Santa Tom Kliner that is.  I tried photographing him from across the room but he really needed to be the star of the show.  So I came closer, unprepared for the light-reflecting properites of a beard that white… So when you watch the slideshow, you’ll see a very reflective beard and Ono, the window tint guy, checking it out. Santa and his magnificent man fur are available for all kinds of Christmassy things and you can find him at this website:  Santa Tom

At the corner table was Dr. James Hull and his lovely wife.  He has specialized in the history of science and technology and teaches history at UBC.  When he told me this I was suitably impressed and tried to think of something related to either science or technology  but I quickly realized that I don’t know anything about that stuff.  So I made my, “you are smart and I like you” face and took their photo.

It was time to rush home and get my daughter off to ballet.  So I found my husband Rob (who sells houses) Rob McAlpine with Royal Lepage chatting with Kel Good of Custom Software Development .  Kel will make you some software that doesn’t suck – also if you can’t find software that actually fits your needs, he is the guy you need to be talking to.  He and Rob were talking houses and different ways to buy and sell them but I must confess that I missed some of that because I was trying to remember where I put my camera bag. (It was behind Mr.Dr.UBC)

On the way out, I met Aron  from Valleyview Funeral Home.  I had photographed his car for the Uptown Rutland Christmas lightup event.  The big car had brought Santa to the Light Up.  Tonight he had his  wife with him and they were standing chatting with Cyril.  Cyril was my last photo of the night.  He is the Pastor for Community Ministries for the Salvation Army.  This is a busy time of year for Salvation Army as we approach Christmas and it is a terrific time of year for the business leaders in our community to support each other and lend a hand.

See you all next year!!  (Where is the URBA meeting for January?  I can’t wait!!)

Christmas Light Up in Rutland

Now it’s Christmas!

Papa Thom sang, the kids were excited, there was hot chocolate and cookies and Santa arrived in a fancy, shiny limo. (as tradition dictates…)

It was chilly for certain but there was a great group out.  Around 4:30 people were whipping out their cameras and smart phones to get a sunset photo.  The hills were glowing magenta.

As my mom used to say, “red sky at night…sailor’s delight”.  It’s bound to be a great day tomorrow and with that towering tree gracing the Rutland skyline (Do we have a skyline?) it’s a great night too.

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Whisk Cake Company: 203 Rutland Road North

Today they are testing recipes for “cake pops“.  I put that in quotations because I have never seen these little wonders made before. In fact, I have never been in this shop.  It is a large commercial kitchen, a front area for clients and loads of space for classes.

But more about the cake pops.

Here I am thinking that it is basically a Timbit on a stick but I couldn’t been further from the truth!  Sure, there seems to be some elements in common between the two; flour, sugar, chocolate…the stick.  But really, it tastes much more like a chocolate truffle with mouth-melty texture, almost a caramel-rich-ooze inside and toffee-crunchy-bits stuck to the outside.  (That was the one that they gave me to try.  Tanya said to share it.  Fat chance!)

I showed up early in the afternoon to watch the evolution of the cake pop.  When I got there the owner, Tanya, had her crew busily rolling the inside parts.  Not exactly cookie dough and not exactly cake batter. I’ll have to take the class to know how? what?

While Tanya rolled, she answered some of my questions about Whisk.  She has a culinary pedigree that has few peers in the valley.  You can read it on the Whisk site. Intimidating info until you meet her.  No irritating prima donna stuff, just someone who loves what she does and seems generally fun to be around.

I need to tell you about the classes.  Not just cake pops but a host of different levels of cake decorating.  Again, this is all on the website for the company.  You see the link up at the top, right?

When I left I had some hungry-making photos, a cake pop of my own and a strange desire to make cake.

Featured in the photos are Tanya  Jennens (owner and chef), Jon Garratt (who has an equally monumental culinary pedigree as does Tanya), Rosanne Jennens (Tanya’s mum who used to run a ceramics shop in that very location and is brilliant with making edible flowers for the cakes), and Sandra Tubman (she made the gingerbread men pops: one shocked and one sinister).

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