60while60

December 10, 2015

Dear Followers, Friends and Family,

Today is my last post because my list has come to an end. I want to thank all my followers, family, friends and the “blogosphere” world for being kind in all of your follows, comments and likes.

It all began because I wanted to meet Rick Mercer on my 60th birthday, a year ago today. At first it appeared I would meet him but when it didn’t, I decided I wanted to do other things and then realized I had a list.

60

60 things that is and then I had an idea

My list was meant to be fun, to repeat some of my favorite things, to experience new things, to set challenges for myself.

I was asked what the hardest thing was on my list to accomplish. I have to say starting the Blog as I had no idea how or where to begin. The Blogging 101 course squashed all fears on that front. Also, writing has never been my forte. When I wrote letters to my Mom while at university, she would send them back with red corrections throughout. My Mom was a teacher. Writing each post has been a challenge in itself and oh, how I wish she could have been around to read these posts!

Some things on my list were out of my control, like having the WestWing Series cancelled by Netflix. I couldn’t control the weather for skiing so switched it up and took our grandson sailing instead. The most adventurous item was going to the Central Coast on our sailboat. The most intriguing item was having my tea leaves read. The most thrilling was the extreme course at Wild Play and climbing Mount Benson. I continue to give blood on a regular basis and now work at our local Soup Kitchen every Wednesday. I continue to volunteer at various events and I am still giving things away. I was tickled pink when I sold three of my paintings to followers.

I could go on but enough to say I loved all the things I did on my list. It gave me great pleasure, satisfaction and gratification. The stories brought back so many memories. And I know I brought a smile and a giggle to some of you from time to time and that made it complete.

Thank you to those who participated in many of the things on my list. Without you it would never have happened. I especially have to thank my husband for being a great sport on so many outings and reviewing my posts from time to time. Thank goodness because the “Charline’isms” would have been rampant. I love you!

In closing, I learned a valuable lesson from this experience and that is not to procrastinate. If you can do something today, do it! Why wait? because tomorrow could be a missed opportunity.

It’s been an adventure and thank you, thank you for coming along!

Sincerely,with Warm Hugs

Charline xox

Me

#59 – Seek out my Favourite Vancouver Island Restaurant

My husband and I love to cook but eating out is always a pleasure and an experience if you can find restaurants that don’t disappoint. My mission throughout the year was to find just that. I am listing some of my favorites for different reasons and revealing my all time number one pick.

Restaurants/Cafés/Diners I like:

Pizzeria Prima Strada in Victoria – The Funghi Pizza is to die for.

Brasserie l’École in Victoria – Best Steak Frite, no reservations, great atmosphere, always full.

The Churchill Pub in Victoria – Over 50 Craft Beer on tap. Their Kettle Chips are light and crispy and delightful with beer.

The Blue Fox in Victoria – Not one Breakfast tastes bad and served in large quantities.

 Unsworth in Mill Bay – Restaurant at the winery uses local foods with menu always changing. Always delicious.

 The Garage in Duncan – Funky Bakery and great tasting coffee.

 Willow Street Café in Chemainus – Delicious Soups served with gigantic fluffy Scones.

 Smokin’ George in Nanaimo – Great Crispy Chicken Soft Tacos that have a crunch in every bite. Restaurant was featured on “You Gotta Eat Here” and on the “Marilyn Denis Show”.

 Mon Petit Chou in Nanaimo – Best Bread Pudding made from day old chocolate croissants and sweet breads.

 Saigon Garden in Parksville – Delicious Wor Wonton Soup. The bowl is a meal in itself.

 Bare Bones in Port Alberni – Best Fish and Chips ever! The servings are huge.

Bistro 694 in Qualicum Beach – Flavourful Chicken Curry Soup.

The Qualicum Beach Inn in Qualicum – I just like the décor of the wall of glass balls by my friend Robert Held. The outdoor patio has a 180degree view of Qualicum Bay.

Ball Wall

Picture taken from Robert Held website

 Harbour Sushi in Port McNeil – Sushi is fresh, tasty, and surprisingly good.

But my all time favorite has to be Locals in Courtenay. All ingredients are purchased locally and everything on the menu is delicious, even the salads and especially the desserts. Their food is always so elegantly presented and their servers are knowledgeable, pleasant and helpful. The dining experience and service are outstanding.  Locals is situated beside the Puntledge River which creates a relaxed and peaceful setting.

Locals

Picture taken from Locals website

 

#35 – Buy Flowers for the House

I love having flowers around the house. It’s a statement of bringing the outside in and brightens any room. I try to be creative in what I put the flowers in but I am limited to a few vases. I guess a trip to the local Thrift Shop is in order in the new year.

FLower1

Flowers I have bought throughout the year

I do not have a garden because we have too many deer so I buy them at various flower shops. Just as an aside, my herb garden is thriving. The deer don’t like herbs and have left them alone.

My favorite flowers are poppies and calla lilies because of their unique shapes and brilliant colors. The poppies are free and easy where the calla lilies are sturdy and bold. Painting them is also something I enjoy.

Tante Joséphine had a beautiful garden of Tiger lilies, peonies, and daffodils to name a few. Her hedges of “Rugosa” roses were abundant, full of colour and oh so fragrant as you walked up to her front door. My grandfather, Pépère, had them growing all along the fence leading up to his house as well. These roses were also prolific hedges at the family cottage. It’s one of the reasons we named our boat “Rugosa” because they are hardy and love salt air.

Flowers2

More flowers

#27 – Meet a Celebrity. And what about Rick Mercer?

My idea of meeting a celebrity is how I have always done it in the past.

SuzukiLike the time the family ran into Dr. David Suzuki at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. We loved his show, “The Nature of Things”. He wasn’t receptive to us talking to him especially after learning my husband worked for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He had a bee in his bonnet regarding some fishery and how the Department was handling the fish stock. That was the end of that infatuation.

GoldieAnother great encounter, was at the Blue Water Café in Vancouver. Goldie Hawn came in and sat at the table next to us. Of course I engaged in conversation and asked if she would join us on a girls bike trip. She had just finished a bike tour in France and her comment was “you have been eves dropping on my conversation”. I swore I hadn’t. It was such a coincidence. She giggled and we carried on for a bit until she learned that my husband was a biologist and engaged in a conversation with him. Wait a minute! Could you imagine a trip with her, the giggles and laughs!

Then there was the time I was coming around the grocery isle and literally ran into Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. Diana grew up in Nanaimo and was visiting for the holidays. She was pregnant and all I could say, “you make such a sweet couple”. Dah! Maybe if my husband had been with me, we would have had an interesting conversation.

Krall

Anyway, all to say that to date I have not run into any celebrities throughout my travels and day-to-day shopping and time is running out.

But…. I just recently received, from at least 5 friends, a notice that Rick Mercer (there he is!) coming to do a show at the Nanaimo Port Theatre. Tickets for the general public went on sale  today. I didn’t have to think twice about ordering them. The problem is I have to wait until April 6th.

Rick

I am posting this now because by December 10th the list has to be complete and the performance is being posted now so it counts. Rick is a Canadian comedian, television personality, political satirist and author. I have lots of time to prepare myself as to what I would say if I could get backstage to meet him. The VIP tickets have been sold out but I will find a way! No doubt I would mention how this whole blog started because he stood me up on my 60th. And I will bring my husband because somehow he generates conversation!

Note: All photos taken from internet

#7 – Host a Brunch

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it provides energy and nutrients needed to start the day and can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. I used to eat pie for breakfast, arguing with my Mom that is was no worse then having toast and jam. So much for nutrients and a healthy start, oops.

I love brunches because it’s breakfast and lunch at the same time and you can enjoy savory and sweet treats without feeling guilty. Family brunches were a monthly occurrence while living in Nova Scotia. Some picked themes and focused their brunch around that. One time in particular, my brother-in-law did Chinese. He took some doors of their hinges and cropped them up to form a low table. I remember the food being absolutely delicious.

My daughter loves to cook and is always finding new recipes. I asked her to give me ideas for the brunch we were hosting for the golfing crowd we play with. I ended up making all the recipes she suggested and was not disappointed, nor were the invitees.

  • Sweet potato egg cups
  • Savoury bread pudding
  • Ham with bourbon, maple and pecan glaze

I included a variety of cheeses; a blue Côte D’Azur, a white cheddar and a soft brie, along with a pineapple melon plate with plain yogurt and homemade granola. Oh! and let’s not forget tasty Mimosas.

Brunch Layout

I look at brunch as a long extended coffee break with friends in the comfort of your home.

#34 – Have “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress

Did you know that “Afternoon Tea” was started by the Duchess of Bedford in the 19th century? She had her chef prepare a little meal with tea to lessen a “sinking” feeling she would experience in the afternoon. Soon it became known as the British “Afternoon Tea”.

The Empress

The Empress Hotel Victoria BC

I was invited to an “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC as a thank you for helping a friend. The Empress is a luxury hotel and renown for its “Afternoon Teas” enjoyed by royalty, celebrities and dignitaries.

The Ladies

An invite to “Afternoon Tea”

It was a simple yet elegant menu; a tower of delicate sandwiches, impressive confectionary and a plethora of tea choices. The fresh baked scones with strawberry jam and Empress cream were light, fluffy and delicious.

Setting

Setting, Tier, Tea

Considering the Empress was undergoing renovations, the Hotel managed to deliver a relaxed and entertaining afternoon. The setting was beautiful in the upper windowed foyer where every seat had a view of the harbor while an accomplished pianist played relaxing music. The 3hour Afternoon Tea was simply delightful!

Dessert

We were spoiled to a delicious Prosecco that married well with dessert

I had an experience of a lifetime when I was in grade 10, a trip across Canada to Vancouver BC with our high school volleyball team. It was my first major travel experience. My mother arranged for me to meet her friend and I was invited for lunch. We went to a beautiful hotel in downtown Vancouver. I had never seen so many knives, forks and spoons at a table setting before and everyone was dressed to the nines. I followed Mrs. Bell Irving’s every move during the meal. All went well until the tea service came out.

The gentlemen server with white gloves, silver tray set with ornate tea pot, sugar cubes, brown sugar sticks, a choice of cream, milk in matching silver bowls, lemon wedges on a porcelain dish, fancy demi-tasses and dainty spoons were more than impressive. He approached me first so I dove in. Before he could ask, “Mademoiselle, what do you take in your tea?”, I grabbed a sugar cube, lemon wedge and a spot of milk and stirred everything in my tea. I knew right away I had done something wrong. The server cleared his throat and Mrs. Bell Irving held her laughter by pressing her finger to her lips. I watched the curdling come to the surface of the tea. If I stirred it, it went away. So, I drank the tea while simultaneously stirring with the spoon. And then put it down and replied, “I drink it like this all the time”.

I told this story to my Mom. She immediately picked up pen and paper. I drink my tea black now.

#24 – Make a Floral Arrangement

I am hosting the Yacht Clubs’ Ladies Luncheon this month and decided to make a floral arrangement to celebrate fall and to add decoration to the table of treats. Fall is my favorite time of year for the colors, the cool mornings and the sunny afternoons.

When I make flower arrangements, there is nothing I enjoy more then going for a walk specifically to find natural things that can be used to add interest to the arrangement. “Salal” grows wild along many of the trails I walk and is a great filler. So are twigs, leafy branches and dried ferns.  I always go to the local Thrift store to find the vases I use and without fail found a red rectangular vase for .99¢. Perfect!

Getting Started

My finds to start creating

I love creating with my hands and I think if I were to find a part time job it would be in a florist shop.

Finished Arrangement

Finished arrangement

Side View

Side view

#20 – Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

The parking lot is empty, no one in sight

Up the steps, tap the door on the right.

My cause today, is one worthwhile

I’m welcomed, a handshake, a smile.

———-

I’m shown the kitchen, utensils and safety

Tasked to make a salad so fresh and tasty.

Given an apron, a knife and a bowl

With donated food, that is my goal.

 ———-

15 volunteers all in good cheer

To prepare a meal, serve and clear.

Doors swing open just at eleven

Thank the Lord, our God in heaven.

———-

They come from here and from there

Maybe they come from nowhere.

Some lonely, some together, some with child

Some eager, some meek, others mild.

———-

They sit, they chat, and eat peacefully

Appreciate the warm meal lovingly.

They leave with a loaf and a few sweet treats

Say thank you and head back to the streets.

———-

I’m blessed, I’m grateful for all I own

No reason for me to bemoan.

I’m glad I can lend this helping hand

For those less fortunate and in demand.

#37 – Ride a Horse

Out of my bike saddle and on to the next. This one was much more comfortable but I wasn’t so sure about the whole riding thing while in the ring getting used to the horse, the commands and who was in charge. My sister looked comfortable with her steed, poised, sitting tall, hands holding the reins comfortably. She has ridden before. Bev, our guide and owner told us the horses would test us and they did.

The Ring

Practising in the ring

Bev is the proprietor of Paradise Acres Ranch  located just around the corner from where we live. Her and her husband own 11 horses and board another 47. Their property is spectacular and spacious tucked away between Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Moriarty on Vancouver Island.

Avalanche was the name of my horse, a white Cremello with big blue eyes. My sisters’ was Blazen, a grey Arabian Quarter horse with large brown eyes.

Horses

Jackson, Pony Dots, Blazen and Avalanche

To get Avalanche going I had to do a clicking sound with my cheeks. Problem was that my instinct was to pull on the reins at the same time. Bev told me that that was sending a mixed message to the horse because pulling on the reins is asking the horse to slow down. Poor thing, I can imagine what he was thinking, “Ok lady, stop or go, make up your mind”. A simple “whoa” with a tug on the reins made the horse stop and then you released the reins again. Your legs should be relaxed at the knees with the heel of your foot pushing downwards. I had a tendency of squeezing my legs, which made Avalanche go faster. Oops!

Getting Going

Getting ready and heading into the trails

Our horses obviously knew the route and when Bev’s horse Jackson started to trot, they all did. When trotting, the reins are shortened for better grip because you get bounced around, up and down, out of the saddle a bit. It’s a whole new experience and you have to wonder who really is in control. I tried to go with the flow of my horse’s trot and started to laugh because my head was now like a bobble head. I can’t imagine what a full gallop would be like but apparently it is a lot smoother and quicker. I didn’t need that my first time out.

In the first hour we were both getting used to our horses and how they reacted to our movements and commands for turning left and right, adjusting our postures forward or back depending on whether we were going up or down hills. Through the narrow trails, low-lying branches, fallen tree trunks, I was amazed at how smart and agile these animals are for their size. They have instinct and are able to negotiate the paths even with a ditch on the side. How do they not slide off or take a misstep?

Home

Back at the ranch, legs don’t fail me know

After 2 hours we both felt much more in control and I think the horses also stepped into a grove. They also knew when we were heading home because they started to speed up. “Whoa”, “whoa”…. They knew what was waiting for them, a soothing brush down and an apple treat. They did not want to hang around for pictures either at the end of the ride. And it is really hard to take pictures while riding a horse. I can visualize me working on a ranch but auditioning for “Heartland”, that’s out of the question.

#31 – Vote for a Liberal

Monday October 19, 2015, I voted. I hope all eligible Canadians do too.

My father was a staunch Liberal and I remember going around the neighborhood with him handing out pins and pamphlets for the Liberal candidate. It was an easy sell because the majority were all Liberal supporters, until we got to “Matilda’s” house, the hairdresser. She spoke a mean streak and her and Dad would get into some pretty heated discussions. She was my hairdresser and the more she talked, the more she cut. I would go in for a trim and come out looking like a boy.

In the last few elections, the Northeastern riding in the Acadian Peninsula has been won by the NDP. I’m sure Dad has turned over in his grave.

Politics are not my forte but I do think the Americans have it right. After 2 consecutive runs of 4 years, the President has to step down. Not like in Canada.

I will be glued to the TV watching the results and I hope they won’t announce a winner before all ballots are counted across Canada. It has happened in the past after voting was over in Ontario.

I really want the government to change. And I know, “Just…. T…. he man”.

Oh Canada

READY!