Got the Edge
A light-hearted Q&A with the people who make the Okanagan work


Stuart Lang
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 19 - Got the Edge

Name: Stuart Lang.

What business or organization are you involved with? Smile Cycle Tours.

What is your role with that organization? Owner.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? In the Okanagan it’s all about getting outside and being active. I love that about where we live and it’s part of why I started Smile Cycle Tours.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I’d catch up with my late mom, and tell her all about the wonderful modern family we’ve since evolved into after my father remarried. She’d smile.

What’s your go-to happy place? In the mountains all around us, or in the lake at our feet.

What are you most proud of? Starting Smile Cycle Tours in  four months, and the never-give-up attitude I’ve learned over the years which helps me push through adversity.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
-Try a beer from every craft brewery in B.C.;
-Restore a few collector cars with my dad;
-Host a rockin’ family reunion at the Kelowna Forum.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I’m open to trying all sorts of foods, but there was a time where I was totally weirded out; I ate a spoiled lemon-filled croissant in a small town in southern Italy, needless to say it took me a while to give croissants a second chance.

Latest movie or book: You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Stretch Armstrong – who was tragically overstretched before lunch on Christmas.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Having an outdoor BBQ with my family, and the love of my life Marissa.

Paul Mondoux
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 18 - Got the Edge

Name: Paul Mondoux.

What business or organization are you involved with? Royal Lepage.

What is your role with that organization? Realtor.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? I would usually say the weather, but after this past winter and spring I would have to say no matter what’s in the forecast our views and landscape cannot be beaten.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Nobody living I’m afraid, but wouldn’t it be cool to sit down with Robin Williams and George Carlin at a beach bar in Tahiti? Why is self-explanatory I think.

What’s your go-to happy place? Any stretch of road on my motorcycle. Freedom is a full tank!

What are you most proud of? I am the first realtor in Kelowna Royale Lepage history to win the coveted diamond award and rookie of year. Starting my own business is terrifying. Leaving the comfort of employment to hopefully create something of my own in an industry I had no friends and no experience in, and succeeding, is an epic victory.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Watch my kids realize their dreams;
2. Standing inside the coliseum in Rome;
3. Building my empire.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I eat everything so this question does not apply.

Latest movie or book: I’m going to the new King Arthur movie tomorrow.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? It might sound like a cliche, but my kids. I have the coolest, 100-per-cent-jock six-year-old son who is so competitive and stubborn he makes everyone proud with his desire to be the best at what he does. My four-year-old daughter is the cutest quintessential blonde girly girl, who is built to scrap and take no prisoners. Her personality is so close to mine it truly frightens me, because I know what she’s going on to try and get away with.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I think about this question every single day. The scariest thing about life is the thought of it ending before you can honestly feel you’ve done it and seen it all. But if today was it I would fly to Maui to catch the sunset, and then have my ashes spread in the ocean.

That’s where you’ll find me.

Alexandra Babbel
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 17 - Got the Edge

Name: Alexandra Babbel

Employer: Opera Kelowna Society

City: Kelowna

Occupation: Founding and Artistic Director

Tell us about your job: I bring a fusion of gorgeous singing, fashion and art in fresh and forward productions that gain national attention! Cast members are international and costumes are couture.  The culminating production is dramatic in stature and spectacle.

Tell us about yourself: I moved here from Chicago after falling in love with a Canadian man, and eventually founded a professional opera company.  I have sung all over the world and love bringing the beauty of my experience to this region.

What do you do for fun? Exercise and drink wine – in reverse priority.

What Winnie the Pooh character do you most relate to? Winnie, although hopefully not “short, fat, proud of that.”

Latest movie or book: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalani

What’s your go-to happy place? The dining room table with the family for Sunday night dinner.

Cheryl Eedens
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 15 - Got the Edge

Name: Cheryl Eedens

What business or organization are you involved with? 
Vernon Vintners

What is your role with that organization? 
Owner/operator

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? 
Our beautiful backyard, all the lakes and parks that we can use anytime, and of course all the amazing wineries we have around us . I have travelled a fair amount and theres not many places that compare to what we have here .

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? 
I would have lunch with my dad and my family . My dad passed when I was very young and I would love for him to meet my husband and kids and just talk.

What’s your go-to happy place? 
Going for a walk and just just letting my mind go wherever it wants and enjoying the outsoors .

What are you most proud of? 
My family, my kids and my business Vernon Vintners.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 
Traveling the world: Hawaii, Australia, France, Holland and Greece.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
We went to a wild game banquet a few times and I had couger and bear meat.

Latest movie or book: I just watched the movie Bad Moms on the plane to Dallas with my girlfriend and we laughed so hard half the plane turned around to stare at us.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? 
My family and friends.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? 
I would spend it with my family in our kitchen cooking and eating and drinking amazing wine.

Mel Schmidt
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 12 - Got the Edge

Name: Mel Schmidt.

What business or organization are you involved with? The Simpłe Clothing Company.

What is your role with that organization? Owner and stylist.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? My fave thing about the Okanagan is EVERY-thing. Like seriously, the beautiful air, forest, hills, lakes. But my very most fave would have to be Kalamalka Lake; it’s breathtaking.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I would do lunch with my gram. She has been taking me out for lunch all my life and it’s always the funnest. She would pick me up at lunch time in Grade 8 and we would go to this little health food restaurant on Main Street in Vernon and they had the best bread.

What’s your go-to happy place? My happy place is ANYWHERE with my nephew “Theo the burrito.” He is one and a half and he is literally the cutest, funnest kid in the whole entire world.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my honesty. I make brave life choices based on being honest with myself about what is best for me and my life as I value every day I have here on Earth.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? My top three things are: Definetly flying in a pod on an airplane. I’ve been on so many flights for work and I’m always crammed into coach dreaming of the day I can stretch my legs in a pod and order a piñata colada and watch the Kardashians in a silk robe and slipper. I’m so fortunate to have done like so many amazing things that I think that’s really it.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? The weirdest thing about me is that when I was a little girl my fave food was liver and onions. What a sick kid I was.

Latest movie or book: I’m kind of dorking out to Game of Thrones. I know that’s not a movie, but it is based on a book – I’m the worst though. I have to hit pause about every four minutes and ask my boyfriend what the heck is going on because it’s just so packed full of crazy content.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The biggest gift I ever received is my nephew. He is the best gift ever hands down.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would want to spend it with all my friends and family, rent out Atlantis water slides for the day and have a pizza party.

Karla Longacre
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 11 - Got the Edge

Name: Karla Longacre

What business or organization are you involved with? Touchstone Law Group LLP

What is your role with that organization? Office manager; accounting; Mother Hen.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? I love the weather, the view and the smell of the air after the rain.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I would choose my mother. She passed away almost nine years ago. There were just never enough lunches in our life time together.

What’s your go-to happy place? I have two places. My winter place is at home in front of the fireplace, snuggled up watching movies with my daughter. My summer place is at our beach lot, sitting on the deck listening to nature and the sounds of summer.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my daughter. Her childhood wasn’t the easiest as I was a single mom for most of it but she persevered and graduated with honours from college. She has become a beautiful young women with morals and values to back her up! Love her to bits.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Traveling to the “old country,” meaning Germany and Austria;
2. Go to a fly-in fishing lodge in northern Saskatchewan for a week;
3. Attend an Olympic figure skating event

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I ate conch in the Dominican. I thought it was chicken on my Cesar salad. Boy was I wrong. I didn’t find out what it was until I ate it all. It wasn’t fishy at all. Pretty good actually. But, had I known what it was before hand, I would have never eaten it.

Latest movie or book: Diary of Anne Frank on Netflix. I love the true stories

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The best gift I have ever received was my two-burner oven and propane stove. I use it all summer at my beach lot. I am not sure how I ever cooked without it!

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would take my daughter with me for a pedicure and a massage, then off to meet all my family for beers and a great steak at our beach lot.

Natalie Preston
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 10 - Got the Edge

Name: Natalie Preston.

What business or organization are you involved with? Okanagan Hockey Group.

What is your role with that organization? Marketing and sponsorship coordinator.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? We are raising our two boys in a beautiful, clean and safe community where they have opportunities in youth sports that are top notch, convenient and affordable. Seeing out boys group with the same friends they’re had since kindergarten is something special that my husband and I didn’t experience as kids. I also love our four seasons.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you chose and why? I would have lunch with my grandmother, Daphne. She passed away in 2012 in England. I didn’t get to say goodbye and there are so many things I wish I could tell her.

What’s you go-to happy place? Home is my happy place? In the winter we sit in front of the fire watching movies with the kids, and in the summer we are by the pool entertaining family and friends. Our family is always on the go, so downtime at home is what brings us together to regroup and recharge.

What are you most proud of? I’m proud to say I have a job I truly love. It’s never too late to find your dream job.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

  1. Take up yoga;
  2. Buy an investment property;
  3. Travel to Europe: Italy, Greece and Portugal are at the top of the list.

What the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? If you’ve ever been by the seaside in England you may have heard of cockles. It’s a type of clam with the distinctive ridged shell you commonly see on British beaches. Let’s just say I don’t like them and they don’t like me.

Latest movie or book: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? A good coffee machine; it brings me joy daily.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would watch my kids play hockey, then order dinner with a. nice bottle go Pinot Gris (a good one, it’s my last day), with my husband, the boys and our dog Zoe. I’m sure we could catch up on the Amazing Race and Survivor before I go.

Jason Spencer
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 09 - Got the Edge

Name: Jason Spencer.

What business or organization are you involved with? Central Tarp Ltd.

What is your role with that organization? Operations manager.

What’s your favorite thing about living in the Okanagan? The first thing I love about living in the Okanagan is the people. I’m from Vancouver where everything is always a panic. I like the laid-back life style and being able to enjoy such a wonderful place in our province with amazing people. The second thing I love about living in the Okanagan would be the wonderful and always changing weather. I definitely appreciate being able to enjoy four honest seasons. And the summers? Speechless.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? If I could have lunch with anyone in the world it would be Chris Hadfield. He is a true Canadian hero who spreads his knowledge and kindness with all Canadians and the entire world. I wouldn’t even know my first question, I would probably just stand there in awe.

What’s your go-to happy place? My go-to happy place would have to be sitting on the beach and
watching the sunset. A feeling of calm and tranquility falls over you as you enjoy the last minute of the sun’s warmth on a beautiful day.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my children. My three beautiful daughters continue to amaze and impress me everyday with the kindness, generosity and love that they put out to their family, friends and all those around them. It truly is an honor to be their father.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1.) Get the nerve to actually go skydiving;
2.) Be on a mission to help impoverished people in a foreign country;
3.) Know that when I leave this world I have done the best I can to contribute to humanity, and love life.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Squirrel (it doesn’t taste like chicken).

Latest movie or book: All and none.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Three beautiful, amazing daughters.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Today is not my last day. But if it was, I would spend it doing exactly as I do everyday. I don’t live in the past, I learn from it. I enjoy the present to the fullest and know that tomorrow is a gift.

DJ Block
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 08 - Got the Edge

Name: DJ Block.

What business or organization are you involved with? LoveSmart Life Skills Inc.

What is your role with that organization? Volunteer executive assistant.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? My favourite thing about living in the Okanagan is the water. I have dreamt of living near water since I left my home province of Ontario at age 10. There is an essence of calm that sediments in my soul when I look out over the lake and feel the ebb and flow of nature.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I would dine out for lunch with Lady Diana, formerly Princes of Wales, if she were still alive.

Some people used to say I looked like her when my hair was shorter, which I took as an incredible compliment. But the truth is her heart is what appealed to me the most; she was humble, kind, and had an incredible personal spirit that knew what she valued above all status or power; the human spirit.

What’s your go-to happy place? My go-to happy place is being on the water, gliding through easy flow, or battling against a strong wind. The energy of water is an amazing element for rest, rejuvenation and realignement.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my two adult daughters, Jessie & Michaela. Their strength of spirit and hearts of hope continue to humble and inspire me.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Italy;
2. The Butterfly House Retreat Centre;
3. Co-Auther a Book.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten is Octopus.

Latest movie or book: My latest book was Tomorrow’s God by Heale Donald Walsch.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The best gift I’ve every received is respect from a LoveSmart man.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? If today were my last day, I would spend it with my two daughters, their loving men, my two best girlfriends, and a bottle of red wine with delectable food. We’d be on a sailboat on the ocean, watching the waves and the sunset while we laugh and remember the beautiful moments we shared together.

Justina LeeStolz
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 05 - Got the Edge

Name: Justina LeeStolz

What business or organization are you involved with? Century 21 Assurance Realty Ltd

What is your role with that organization? Realtor

What’s your favorite thing about living in the Okanagan? The incredible great out doors and wilderness. There are so many hiking, biking, and climbing spots, as well as some pristine and gorgeous lakes to camp at.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Oh, that’s a tough one. Do you go with the celebrity train because it would be hopefully awesome, or do you stick with the sappy “someone I already know” because it’s guaranteed to be awesome?

I’m a bit of a sap so I’d say lunch with my parents and sister because I’m guaranteed to have a good laugh and a ton of smiles at that lunch!

What’s your go-to happy place? So many tough questions. I have several go-to happy places and it’s less about the place and more about the feeling.

When I need an instant pick-me-up all I have to do is engage in an activity that forces my mind to focus. For instance, latin dancing, rock climbing, snowboarding, and slack-lining are a few of my go-tos. Good music is also an instant cure; it can transport you, as they say.

What are you most proud of? I’m most proud of my family. We’ve experienced a lot of adversity over the past few years and the endurance with which we’ve managed to stick together and support each other is overwhelming at times. I’d say that I’m mostly proud of my mom; everyone says “my mom’s the best,” but in the world I exist in, there is no one who has the stamina for life like my mother.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? I might be flogging a dead horse by now with all the family sap, but the top thing on my bucket list is to take my whole fam-jam back to my mother’s home country of China and explore our heritage and culture.

Next on the list is to pull out my saxophone and really start playing again. Music is my soul food and I can’t imagine a world without it. Some of the most incredible feelings I’ve ever had are when I can take the thoughts and emotions from inside my body and transform them into music that others can hear. There’s a language there, a communication, like no other in the world.

The third thing on my bucket list is to travel to Ireland to visit some of the roots on my dad’s side. I’ve had an obsession with Irish folklore and fairies since I was a child and I can’t wait to see the place where it all comes from. Not to mention I’m a sucker for accents, so I’d probably melt with happiness being in Ireland.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? If I tell you, you might look at me differently. No, but really. I grew up in a multi-cultural household and quickly realized when I started going to “westernized” schooling that eating pigs ears, pigs skin, pigs intestines, chickens feet, cow stomach liner (tripe) and other such various organ meats wasn’t exactly what other kids thought of as normal.

Latest movie or book: The latest movie I watched and was absolutely enthralled with was La La Land. Not because it was a musical, although I do like those, but because it was an incredible combination of great jazz music, good choreography and very real conversations. It also wasn’t the conventional happy ending I hoped for so I may have been emotionally distraught in the theatre by the end of it. You could say that I’m a very engaged audience.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The best gift I ever received? I can’t say that there is any particular “one” that sticks out in my mind, but I can tell you that the gifts I always remember most are the ones that I never expect; the ones when you say you’re hungry to a friend and an hour later they show up with a burrito and a latte for you, or when you check your phone after a stressful situation and there’s a note from someone saying “just thinking of you and wanted you to know that you’re awesome” etc etc.

Those gifts, the small, meaning-filled ones, those are the gifts that really get me.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? If today were my last day, you can bet your boots that I’d be trying to fulfill all three of those bucket list items above with my family right there with me. Ain’t nothing like a whirlwind adventure with the ones you love to make your life go out with a bang!

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