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Vancouver Island Mushrooms

I went for an autumn hike up the mountain behind my house on Vancouver Island yesterday and came across tons of different kinds of mushrooms and fungi. I posted the following photos of Vancouver Island Mushrooms to Instagram and they’ve been getting a lot of attention (yay!) I’ve even had one person request prints of a couple of the images, so I thought I would share them here as well.

Do you know which mushrooms are which?

I have no idea what kind of mushrooms these are or whether they are edible or not, but they are beautiful and they have me imagining a little gnome community hiding out in the woods behind my house and that makes me smile. If you know what they are, I’d love for you to share your insight in the comments below?

Have a look and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more great daily Vancouver Island and travel photos!

I found lots of autumn shroomies on my hike with @Roxidoo today. #mushrooms #shrooms #autumn #fall #forest A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

More autumn mushrooms. #mushroom #fungi #autumn #explorebc #cowichan #fall #forest

A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

More fungi! #mushrooms #fungi #vancouverisland #cowichan #autumn #forest #woods #fall #shrooms

A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

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Pumpkins at Abby Lane Farm

As I drove home from the gym one morning last week I decided to take a new route and was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful fall colors at the Abby Lane Farm Stand. As I came around the corner I was faced with hundreds of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes.

Abby Lane Farm - Sign Abby Lane Farm - Sign

There were pumpkins in buckets, in bathtubs, pumpkins in wheelbarrows, pumpkins in the back of a truck, pumpkins on tables, pumpkins under tables, pumpkins on chairs, pumpkins in barrels, pumpkins on shelves, and pumpkins strewn all over the grass.

There were regular pumpkins, warted pumpkins, gourds, acorn squash, hubbard squash (warted green, red and blue), kabocha squash, buttercup squash, and spaghetti squash. I had never seen so many different varieties of squash and pumpkins all in one place!

Abby Lane Farm - Pumpkins Abby Lane Farm - Pumpkins Abby Lane Farm - Pumpkins Abby Lane Farm - Pumpkins Abby Lane Farm - Squash

About Abby Lane Farm

Abby Lane Farm consists of 56 acres of rich farmland located at 7233 Mays Road in Duncan, BC and has been owned by the same family since the 1960’s. In 1982, the farm was named after a combination of the family dog (Abby) and the Beatles song, Penny Lane, to become Abby Lane Farm. The farm was mostly used for cattle and growing hay over the years but in 2007 they started growing pumpkins. The largest pumpkin that they’ve grown to date weighed in at 1,689 lbs! 

Abby Lane Farmers pride themselves on following organic farming practices with absolutely zero pesticides and herbicides used on the farm.

With Thanksgiving and Halloween happening this month, it’s the perfect time to head out to Abby Lane Farm for a horse wagon ride and to choose your perfect pumpkin! Be sure to visit a bank machine before you go, as they are a cash only farm stand. And please leave Fido at home, there are no dogs allowed at Abby Lane Farm.

No dogs allowed at Abby Lane Farm.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

When you get your pumpkin home, try roasting the seeds for a nice healthy snack.

  • Remove the seeds from the pumpkin cavity
  • Wipe them off with a paper towel if needed to remove excess pulp that may have stuck to them
  • Spread them out evenly on a paper bag and let them dry out overnight
  • Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and light roast them in a 160-170ºF (about 75ºC) oven for 15-20 minutes *Roasting them for a short time at a low temperature helps to preserve their healthy oils.
  • After letting them cool down, sprinkle them with salt, or cinnamon sugar.

Enjoy! 

How To Get To Abby Lane Farm

The Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm – The Savour Cowichan Festival

This past weekend marked the beginning of the Savour Cowichan Festival in Vancouver Island’s beautiful Cowichan Valley. With 40 artisan food and beverage producers participating it will be an incredible 10 days of  tastings and special events in the Cowichan Valley. Savour Cowichan runs from September 26 to October 5, 2014, be sure to check it out!

After visiting Cherry Point Estate Wines, we moved on to the Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm.

Cheese Point Farm

The Creamery at Cheese Point Farm

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of cheese. And wine tastes best when accompanied by cheese. So naturally after visiting Cherry Point Vineyard, our next stop was the Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm.

Cheese Pointe Farm is family run by Hilary and Patty Abbott and features handcrafted cheese, artisan local treats and cheese tours.

I just loved the artwork on their signage and the sign at the driveway made me giggle,

“Drive Slow, we have lots of animals and a deaf cat.”

Cheese Point Farm

Unfortunately the cheese maker was away at the local Farmer’s Market, so we were unable to take a tour of the cheese making process, but I’ll be sure to go back soon to check that out. We did get a chance to sample some of the delicious local cheeses: camembert, blue cheese, squeaky cheese curds and a selection of flavoured cream cheeses. They were all simply delicious, the camembert was my favourite!

Cheese Point Farm Cheese Point FarmCheese Point Farm Cheese Point Farm Cheese Point Farm Cheese Point Farm Cheese Point Farm

Not only was the cheese delicious, the Cheese Pointe Farm itself was lovely.

Cheese Point Farm Cheese Point Farm Cheese Point Farm

Cheese Pointe Farm is located at 1282 Cherry Point Road in Cowichan Bay, BC. They are openFriday to Sunday 11am to 5pm. Follow The Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm on Facebook.

What’s your favourite cheese?


Update: We’ve been notified that the farm at the Creamery at Cheese Pointe has been sold and will no longer be making cheese at this location. The nearest option would be Hilary’s Cheese in Cowichan Bay.

Cherry Point Estate Winery – Savour Cowichan

This past weekend marked the beginning of the Savour Cowichan Festival in Vancouver Island’s beautiful Cowichan Valley. With 40 artisan food and beverage producers participating it will be an incredible 10 days of  tastings and special events in the Cowichan Valley. The event runs from September 26 to October 5, 2014.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting some of the participants, one of which was Cherry Point Estate Winery.

Cherry Point Estate Winery – About the Winery

Cherry Point Estate Winery is located in Cobble Hill, BC on Cherry Point Road (see map below). Tours are available year round but must be booked at least 48 hours in advance, and take about 45 min to complete. The tasting room is open every day from 10am to 5pm giving you an opportunity to sample their award winning wines.

Cherry Point Vineyard

Cherry Point Estate Winery – Savour Cowichan

Cherry Point Vineyard and the Amuse Bistro served Spanish Paella and Sangria to celebrate the wine and culinary festival to thank the community for their continuous support. After indulging in a wine tastings by the wine maker (the whites were my favourite), we sat and enjoyed our paella and sangria on the beautiful garden patio followed by a wander through the vineyard to sample some juicy grapes. (shhh!)

Cherry Point Vineyard Cherry Point Vineyard - Wine Maker

Cherry Point Vineyard - WinesCherry Point Vineyard

Cherry Point Estate Winery – The Wines

2009 Pinot Noir

2009 Pinot Noir

Cherry Point Wines - Pinot NoirSweetness: 0
Price: $24.00

This 2009 Pinot Noir is produced from a single vineyard block that was carefully tended to during the spring to ensure early ripeness. This wine was aged in old oak barrels for 10 months and has big cherry aromas with hints of raspberry and undertones of clean cedar. A silky mouth-feel is brimming with cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavour notes. A perfect wine to pair with smoked salmon, roast beef or any favourite west coast dinner.

2009 Coastal Red

2009 Coastal Red

Cherry Point Wines - Coastal Red 2009Silver Medal, North West Summit Competition
Sweetness: 0
Price: $16.95

A delicious blend with aromas of orange blossom, wild blackberry and spice. Juicy dark cherry and black current flavor notes with a kiss of oak are followed by a peppery, berry finish. Food friendly wine, ideal while picnicking al fresco, barbecuing or just sipping on the patio.

Bête Noire

Bête Noire

Cherry Point Wines - bette_frontOur Bête Noire is a cross varietal, cross-vintage blend of our better vintages and a wine representative of soils and climate which are unique to Cherry Point. Pinot Noir 2007, Agria 2009 (the true black beast) and Castell 2009 have been crafted together to create a wine reminiscent of the Rioja region in Spain. Rich red in colour, an earthy nearly dusty aroma introduces the wine followed by plum and spice with a savory oak finish. ThisBête Noire has a great backbone; perfect pairing with steaks and mature cheeses.

2009 Forté

2009 Forté

Cherry Point Wines - forte_2009_frontSweetness: 0
Price: $25.80

Cherry Point Estate Wines premium red wine is made with the best performing Castel, Agria and Zweigelt grapes. Forte is aged in old French oak barrels for 18 months giving the wine a supple velvety texture. This wine is dominated by a cherry aroma, with hints of plum and raspberry. The full-bodied fruity taste is suitable for pairing with all red meat dishes.

2011 Pinot Gris Reserve

2011 Pinot Gris Reserve

Cherry Point Wines - pinot_gris_2011_frontSweetness: 0
Price: $19.75

Pale yellow with a lovely citrus fruit and spicy bouquet, juicy pineapple, mandarin orange and pink grapefruit flavor notes on the palate, with a long honeyed finish; Delightful with poached salmon and white sauce, pasta primavera and crisp shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy.

2010 Coastal White

2010 Coastal White

Cherry Point Wines - Coastal White 2011Bronze Medal, Northwest Summit Competition.
Sweetness: 1.
Price: $16.95

This Germanic style blend of Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe and Sylvaner has a light straw hue and aromas of honeysuckle and fresh citrus fruit, pear and orange flavor notes are followed by a long crisp finish. Ideal for summer sipping or as an aperitif. Great with seafood, poultry and Asian dishes.

2011 Gewürztraminer

2011 Gewürztraminer

Cherry Point Wines - gewurz_2011_frontBronze Medal, Northwest Summit Competition.
Price: $23.20

This stylish aromatic white has subtle tones of lychee and peach on the nose with floral undertones and a crisp grapefruit finish typical of our terroir.

2011 Ortega

2011 Ortega

Cherry Point Wines - ortega_2011_frontDouble Gold, All Canadian Wine Competition
Silver Medal, North West Summit Competition
Sweetness: 0

This Cherry Point classic is pale straw in colour and displays aromas of grapefruit and apricot with underlying floral notes, typical of the varietal. A full palate of ripe peach lingers with balanced acidity. Pairs well with risotto, pasta and chicken.

Cherry Point Estate Winery – Wine Tour Photos

(click for larger image)

 Cherry Point Estate Winery – Location

The winery is located at 840 Cherry Point Road in Cobble Hill, BC. For more information visit the Cherry Point Estate Winery website and/or follow them on Facebook.

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake on Vancouver Island

Nitinat Lake is considered to be the jewel of Vancouver Island for kiteboarding. It is an ideal place for both novice and expert kiteboarders to practice their skills.

Nitinat Lake is a tidal, saltwater fjord, 23 km long and 1.2 km wide. The southern end of the lake lies in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which also includes Nitinat Hill on the lake’s northern shore and Nitinat Cone on the southern shore.

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

Kiteboarding Conditions

The wind on the lake picks up around 11am – 12 noon and brings great conditions for both kiteboarding and wind surfing throughout the day. The windy season at Nitinat (also known as Nitnat) Lake runs from May through September with the windiest months being July and August. During these months a normal day will deliver thermal winds in the perfect 18-20 knot range, and then slowly dies off in the evening. For weather and wind forecasts, visit Windfinder.com.

Every summer Nitinal Lake hosts the Windfest kiteboarding competition which attracts kiters from the USA, and more recently the world. For more information visit Windfest.ca.

(For more photos of the kiteboarding and scenery at Nitinat Lake, please visit the set on Flickr.)

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake
Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

How to Get to Nitinat Lake

Access to Nitinat Lake is by gravel logging road via Lake Cowichan/Youbou. It’s approximately 3.5 hours from Victoria and 3 hours from Nanaimo, and 2.5 hours from Duncan. Make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the dirt roads, as they can be slippery and riddled with potholes.

Where to Stay at Nitinat Lake

The Nitinat Lake Recreation Site provides rustic camping, managed by the Ditidaht First Nation.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spot right on the lake.

The campground provides picnic tables and fire pits at $12.00 – 14.00/night – although no one came around to collect fees when I was there. 

A Few Camping Tips…

  • There is no cell service, no running water and no power at the campground.
  • Nitinat is bear country –  be ‘Bear Aware.’
  • Pack out your garbage when you leave, there is no disposal services.
  • There are outhouse facilities, but it’s a good idea to supply your own toilet paper, as they tend to run out.
  • Evening temperatures can vary during the summer from cool to tropically warm. Be sure to bring enough blankets for those cooler nights.
  • During the summer months, there is a good chance that there will be a campfire bans in effect.

The alternative to camping is the Nitinat Lake Motel. Room prices ranging from $65 – $100/night. For information and reservations, call 250-745 -3844.

For more photos from my time at Nitinat Lake, please visit the set on Flickr.

[Tweet “What you need to know to go #Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake, the jewel of #VancouverIsland. “]

3 Reasons You MUST Build a Lifestyle Business

If  you caught Natalie Sission’s webinar on Thursday, you learned about the Freedom Plan, her amazing new program that teaches you how to build your ideal lifestyle business. 

But what exactly IS a lifestyle business? And, more importantly, why do you need one? 

The basic premise of a lifestyle business is that the entire purpose of the business is to enable the lifestyle of your choice. In other words, you decide what your ideal lifestyle looks like, then work backward to figure out what you need to do to get there. 

Click here to get the Freedom Plan now (registration ends September 27)

So, what are the three best reasons to build a lifestyle business?

  1. The Freedom Plan from the Suitcase EntrepreneurYour job sucks. It’s a well-known fact that most of us work to get by or because we feel like we have to be beholden to a job in order to have a steady income. Fortunately, we live in an era in which this bondage to our jobs is more of an illusion than ever. The barrier to entry for becoming an internet entrepreneur is lower than ever.
  2. Making your own career and travel choices rocks. Once your lifestyle biz is up and running, you’ll be astounded at the freedom you enjoy. You can literally work anywhere on earth with an internet connection. Most lifestyle business owners choose to work fewer hours (because LIFESTYLE is what it’s truly all about), dedicating their fully focused attention to running their business at predetermined times. As Natalie mentioned in her webinar, she literally travels the globe — one country after the next — all while running her six-figure business.
  3. Creating money on demand is awesome. With your own lifestyle business, you don’t have to wait for every other Friday for that elusive paycheck. YOU make the decisions on how to bring money in the door, and YOU are the beneficiary of your own hard, focused work.

Click here to enroll in the Freedom Plan now.

Natalie’s Freedom Plan program walks you step-by-step from concept to systems to generating your first income to scaling and making MASSIVE income so you can finally ditch that J-O-B for good. 

There are just a few more days to enroll (through September 27), so don’t delay!

Click here to get it now!

[Tweet “Stop talking about your dream lifestyle business. Make it a reality with the #FreedomPlan! #digitalnomad”]

 

A Photowalk at the Cobble Hill Fair

The Cobble Hill Fair celebrated its 105th year this summer and the 4-H Club celebrated its 100th year in BC.

“The fair showcases everything about the Cowichan Valley that is good and its emphasis on agriculture is really a reflection of the founding of South Cowichan area,” said Cobble Hill Area Director and long-time fair volunteer Gerry Giles. “It began when people came into the area, cleared land to farm and really that tradition or heritage and culture has continued on through the years. When people come to the fair they get glimpses of our past and what agriculture means to the community.” 

If you missed the fair this year, be sure to keep an eye out for the 2015 fair date!

The Cobble Hill Fair Parade

Cobble Hill Fair 2014-25

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The Animals of the Cobble Hill Fair

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The Children of the Cobble Hill Fair

Cobble Hill Fair 2014 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-42 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-9 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-7
Cobble Hill Fair 2014-6
Cobble Hill Fair 2014-28 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-4 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-10 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-8 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-40 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-37 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-10 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-45 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-44 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-11

Celebrating 105 Years of the Cobble Hill Fair

This Saturday August 23rd, the Cobble Hill Fair will be celebrating its 105th year. Visit the Cobble Hill Fair from 7am to 5pm for an old fashioned country fair celebrating South Cowichan’s agricultural roots and rural lifestyle. You’ll enjoy seeing livestock and poultry, domestic science entries, flowers and fruit, crafts, needlework, horse show, vintage machinery, stage entertainment and much much more.

The Cobble Hill Fair is organized by the Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmers Institute and Agricultural Society and is run by volunteers with aim to promote and celebrate the legacy of agriculture and support the education and participation of youth in agriculture.

The day’s entertainment begins early with a pancake breakfast at 7am followed by a parade at 9:30am and the opening of the exhibition hall at 10am. Enjoy a full day of outdoor exhibits and activities with the whole family.

CHF-08242013-031_result CH Fair 015_result CHF-08242013-043_result

[Tweet “Visit Cobble Hill on August 23rd for an old fashioned country fair experience for the whole family. “]

 100 Years of 4-H in BC

This year not only marks the 105th year of the fair, but it is also the 100th anniversary of 4-H Clubs in BC. 4-H is a developmental program designed to build leadership qualities in today’s youth. Their motto is: Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Projects within 4-H can range from animal husbandry to bees, dogs, sewing, agriculture, crafts, photography, domestic science and so much more. Be sure to visit the 4-H displays and watch Club members show their animals at the fair. Visit the BC 4-H website for more information about the 4-H program or to find a club near you.

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Cobble Hill Fair Details

Come join a full day of exhibits, activities and entertainment on August 23 from 7am to 5pm, in Cobble Hill on beautiful Vancouver Island.

For a full list of events, exhibits and activities check out the Fair Catalogue.

Admission:

Adults (17 to 64) ………………………………. $7.00
Seniors (65 and older)…………………………. $5.00
Juniors 12 to 16 yrs …………………………… $5.00
Children under 12………………………………. free

Parking is available at the Christian Church at 3805 Cobble Hill Rd on Fair day with a convenient shuttle to the fairgrounds.

The fair is located in and around the Cobble Hill Community Hall at 3550 Watson Avenue, Cobble Hill, BC.

(Photos courtesy of the Cobble Hill Farmers Institute.)

9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery on Vancouver Island

There are countless reasons to visit Merridale Cidery. I’ve listed 9 of them here, all of which place it near the top if my list of local Cowichan Valley tours.

Merridale Cidery is located on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo. Follow the Wine Route signs from the main highway to get to the orchard. (See the map below.)

Merridale Cider Works - Things To Do

9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery

1. Orchard Tour

Merridale does not disappoint with its gorgeous orchard. Merridale is located in Cobble Hill, BC, one of the area’s main farming regions. It’s well worth taking a walk around the orchard and taking the fun and interactive self-guided tour to get a good thirst going before you hit their tasting room to sample their refreshingly delicious products. Be sure to ask any questions that may arise when you hit up the cider bar for a tasting.

Merridale Cidery - the Orchard

2. Orchard Faeries

Besides the resident bee hives, birds and other creatures, the orchard is home to a community of faeries! Bring your children along on your orchard adventure (they tend to come out when you sing as you walk) and when you get to the cider bar, they can sample Merridale’s apple juice and collect an Orchard Adventure Stamp.

Merridale Cidery - Orchard Faeries

The Brandy House Distillery

The Brandy House is one of the few artisan distilleries in the province and offers tours, and tastings of their spirits, fortified line, and fruit based vodka. The Brandy House is also an excellent venue for stand-up receptions and is a unique venue to host company or group gatherings. Merridale will be adding their first whiskey product to their already impressive product line later this year. Stay tuned here and to the Merridale website for updates.

Merridale Cidery - the Distillery

3. The Bistro

I try to plan my stop at Merridale so that I can enjoy lunch or a snack in the bistro. The food is inspired by traditional cider regions in Europe using local seasonal ingredients and fresh cut herbs. The bakery features an amazing outdoor brick oven.

[Tweet “9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery – #VancouverIsland #WineTours @merridalecider”]

4. Sunday Night Pizza and Music

Every Sunday throughout the summer, Merridale hosts their famous pizza nights on their covered deck.  Each week they feature several unique artisan pizzas straight from their brick oven featuring housemade charcuterie and local seasonal produce. Pair that with a fresh glass of cider and local musicians and you’ve got yourself a fun evening out to get your upcoming week started off just right. For a list of musical artists, visit Merridale’s events page.

Merridale Cidery - Yurts

5. Yurts and the Orchard Spa

Sip cider and nibble on charcuterie while you get pampered in the Merridale Orchard Spa! The spa is located in the Merridale yurts which include with a relaxation patio overlooking the pond. “What IS a yurt?” you may ask. A yurt is a portable, round dwelling used by the nomadic groups of Central Asia. Yurts have been around for at least three thousand years, and are known for their spiritual and calming benefits. The yurts are also available for romantic getaways from April to October. For rates and more information or to make a reservation contact Merridale staff.

Merridale Cidery - Yurts

6. Get Married!

Merridale Cidery is a magical venue for a wedding! Get ready with your wedding party in the yurts or the outdoor bridal suite. Then walk down the manicured lawn and exchange vows in the pond-side gazebo. Celebrate and feast with your guests with gourmet food and drink in the Ciderhouse with a panoramic view of the orchard below.

Merridale Cidery - Wedding Venue

7. Local Products

Not only does Merridale grow their fruit locally, but they also support other local farms and artists in the Cider Shop. You’ll find products from local cheeses and sausage to blown glass, paintings and cider-scented soaps. It’s definitely worth checking out to support the local community.

Merridale Cidery - BC Grown

8. Tasting: Merridale Ciders

Merridale makes a variety of beverages from ciders to ports to spirits, listed below. Tastings cost $5 (including tax) and all proceeds are donated back into the community to their charity of the month.

Merridale Cidery - Cider Bar

  1. Monarch Cider – It’s dry, bubbly, and created from a balanced blend of full bodied cider apples. 
  2. Traditional Cider –  It’s light, dry and effervescent. It appeals to true cider connoisseurs, and has been called “the best English-style cider in Canada” by wine expert Jurgen Gothe.
  3. House Cider – A lighter, sweeter version of our traditional cider, but still very dry.
  4. Scrumpy Cider – Scrumpy is strong and sharp, and rich in the flavours of our strongest cider apples.
  5. Cyser Cider – A traditional blend of pure vintage apple juice and wildflower honey, combined in a slow fermentation process that dates back to the Viking days.
  6. Merri Berri Cider – A refreshing blend of apple cider and the unfermented juices of a blend of BC berries and fruits.
  7. Somerset Cider – Dry and sparkling with balanced acids. Somerset is slowly aged for more than a year to become completely dry and is bottled Champagne style so it’s perfect to celebrate a special occasion.

Merridale Cidery - Cider Bartender

9. Tasting: Merridale Spirits & Fortified Products

  1. Winter Apple – A fresh and velvety sipping drink with an aroma of baked apples and buttery brown sugar.
  2. Pomme Oh! – A delicate balance of apple and brandy with a soft, slightly sweet finish. This is wonderful with soft cheeses. 
  3. Mure Oh! – Has a strong blackberry odour and taste with a bitter sweet finish. Great for dessert or with apple pie. 
  4. Stair’s Pear Brandy – Exhibits a clean fresh pear nose enhanced by the oak with subtle fresh aromas of pineapple and lemon zest finishing with strawberries and marzipan. 
  5. Cowichan Cider Brandy – Made from six different blends of cider apples which we then placed in French Oak Barrels. When tasting the brandy, it is best served in a ‘snifter’ at room temperature. Swirl it in the glass and enjoy the aroma.
  6. Frizz Vodka – This is not fruit infused vodka, but vodka made from fruit. It is a secret blend of spirits made from cherries, plums, apples, and some pear. To make it a little more fun and distinctive, they’ve carbonated it!
  7. Blackberry Oh de Vie – Unfermented blackberry juice is added to rough brandy for the final distillation. This brandy has hints of anise along with the blackberry notes.
  8. Apple Oh de Vie – Has a distinct apple and cider aroma with a slight floral undertone of spring apple blossoms. It is wonderful as a digestif or in your favourite martini. 

So what are you waiting for? Merridale Cidery is a fun afternoon outing for the whole family! Wander the orchard, search for faeries, learn about the cider making and distillery processes and then tickle your tastebuds with a bite and a tasting.

Have you visited Merridale Cidery? What was your favourite Merridale product?

Where is Merridale Cidery?

1230 Merridale Road, Cobble Hill, BC
Phone: 1.800.998.9908
Website: merridalecider.com

Follow Merridale on Facebook and Twitter.

Photography: 10 Composition and Creativity Tips

I’ve shared a whole schwack of photo tips over the past several weeks:

Now that we’ve covered the technical aspects, we will be getting into the fun part with some composition and creativity tips.

In photography, composition and creativity can be about following the rules or breaking them. It’s all about experimenting and trial and error. There is no wrong answer when it comes to being creative, so get out there and start shooting to see where your eye takes you.

10 Composition and Creativity Tips

  1. Create a Project For Yourself – Coming up with shooting ideas can be tough sometimes when you’re running low on inspiration. To get around this, set yourself a project so that you have a focus. If you’re feeling particularly inspired one day, create a list of mini projects and write them on small pieces of paper. Drop them into a jar and pull one out every time you need some inspiration. Check out this article to get yourself started.
  2. Simplicity – Some of the greatest photo compositions are not about what’s in the image, but rather about what has been left out. Look through your viewfinder to see if there is anything you can remove that doesn’t add to your image and adjust your shot to crop it out.
  3. Straight Horizon – Make sure your horizon is level. There’s nothing worse than capturing a great shot but then finding out later that your horizon is totally crooked, sometimes rendering your image unusable.
  4. Rule of Thirds – The rule of thirds states than an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally. Position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. You can also apply the rule of thirds to existing photos by cropping them later. You’ll find more information on the rule of thirds here.Photography: Rule of Thirds
  5. Fill the Frame – Filling up the frame forces you to keep your background simple and clean. Getting in closer to your subject eliminates distracting elements and cluttered backgrounds that detract from your image. Use a wide aperture to render your background slightly out of focus to make the viewer focus directly on the foreground and subject being presented.
  6. Look For Reflections – Reflections in water or in glass can add symmetry to your image. You can also try to shoot reflections in isolation for more abstract compositions.
    Ucluelet Boat Reflections
  7. Try a Low Viewpoint – Get a more creative view by shooting from ground level for a different perspective on common subjects. For portraits of animals or children, get down to their eye level for a more intimate image.
  8. Try a Panoramic Image – I’m a big fan of the long thin panoramic images. They can add impact to your landscape shots. You don’t need to worry about stitching images together however, you can just take your high resolution image into your image editing software and crop it for the same effect.
    Vancouver - False Creek Panorama
  9. Shoot in Odd Numbers – Odd numbers give a more balanced composition than even numbers. Try to arrange your shot with an odd number of elements.
  10. Break The Rules!!! – The rules of composition can be helpful when you’re finding your eye and your vision, but they can also be a bit restricting. Once you have the rules down pat, get creative and start breaking them. For example, try putting the horizon at the top or bottom of the frame.

There are many more composition rules and ideas out there, but these should get you started.

Bonus Tip: Try shooting a picture everyday to get yourself into the habit of finding great photographic opportunities. We all have our smartphones with us all the time these days, so use your phone’s camera if you don’t want to lug your DSLR around with you everywhere. Post your daily pics to Instagram and see what people like. This is a great tool to find out what people find aesthetically pleasing. Share your Instagram profile link below so we can follow along and weigh in too!

Do you have any composition tips or tricks to add? Share them in the comments.