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I Just Booked My Ticket To Mars!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m addicted to travel, adventure and photography. So when I saw the opportunity to book a ticket to Mars, I had to jump at it! And I’m taking my niece and nephew with me!

I just booked my ticket to Mars and you can come too!

Well, not exactly….

Every so often Nasa has fun interactive programs to name a star or to send your name to space, I’ve participated in a few over the years. The current campaign is sending names to Mars on the Orion Flight Test with a launching sometime in the December 4 – 6, 2014 launch window.

“NASA’s newest spacecraft, Orion, will be launching into space for the first time in December 2014, on a flight that will take it farther than any spacecraft built to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years and through temperatures twice as hot as molten lava to put its critical systems to the test.” Credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center

This NASA video explains the whole adventure far better than I ever could:

You and your kids can be part of this adventure too by visiting NASA’s website. But HURRY! The deadline is October 31st at midnight (ET).

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

GREAT NEWS from the Olympic Spirit Project!

By now my Kickstarter project backers should have received their Olympic Spirit Project – Sochi 2014 rewards – postcards, prints, books, eBooks. If you have not received yours and you haven’t heard from me to let you know it’s on its way, it’s most likely because I’m still waiting on your mailing address. If this is the case, please shoot me a message with your mailing address and I will send it off to you.

The Olympic Spirit Project Book – Print, ePub & PDF!

Last week I announced that the Olympic Spirit Project – Sochi 2014 eBook was ready for download, YAY!! At the time, the eBook was only available in ePub format, so today I’m happy to announce that I’ve released a PDF version for those who do not have access to an ePub reader.

 

Olympic Spirit Project Book - ePub Olympic Spirit Project Book - PDF Olympic Spirit Project Book - Print

  Buy now as ePub        Buy now as PDF        Buy now in Print

Early Reviews For The Olympic Spirit Project Book:

“For someone who really wanted to be there but couldn’t, this book is the next best thing! It’s obvious once you look at it, how much love went into producing this book. The pictures tell a great story about the spirit of the Sochi Olympic Games. Thank you Mariska for taking all those awesome pics and sharing your passion.”     ~ Reese Richards

“This book really captures the spirit of the Olympics games and the inspirational message they carry. Plus, it has beautiful photos! A perfect gift or coffee table book for any athlete or Olympics fan.”   ~ Toffler N.

“The Olympic Spirit Project is a wonderful book that gives you an inside look at what it was really like to attend the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. If you are an Olympics fan, this book is for you!” ~ Hilary Curry

A sneak peek inside The Olympic Spirit Project Book…

Epic Canadian fans at the Men’s Gold Medal Hockey Game:

If you were glued to the television watching as Canada competed in Sochi, this book is an up close and personal encounter of being on the sidelines cheering with your fellow Canadians!

 

Olympic Spirit Project - Sample Page

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Cauldron and Olympic venues:

If you were at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, this is the perfect souvenir to keep those memories and Olympic Spirit fresh!

Olympic Spirit Project Book Sample

Get your Christmas shopping done early!

This book is the perfect gift for any athlete or Olympics fan on your list!

 

  Buy now as ePub        Buy now as PDF         Buy now in Print

 

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

Olympic Spirit Project Book is HERE!!

A year ago today I made a life choice to leave the shackles of the corporate office world behind and to pursue my dreams a digital nomad.

The year that I’ve had has been incredible!

  • I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly $7500 for the Olympic Spirit Project Book
  • I traveled to Russia for 12 unforgettable days at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games
  • blogged about the whole experience – sharing the good, the bad and the photos from the Olympic Spirit Project
  • I built an online store and am selling postcards and enlarged prints and the Olympic Spirit Project Book
  • I learned all about creating and self-publishing a photo book!!!

And now I’m excited to announce that…

The 2014 Olympic Spirit Project Book is available in print and eBook format!

OSP Book Cover

Book Preview

About the Olympic Spirit Project Book

This 40-page book of photography from the ‘Olympic Spirit Project’ is created through a love of sport and the examination of human emotion. Mariska Richters creates a dramatic collection of work that captures the diverse expression of national pride and Olympic spirit from around the world.

Mariska’s work tells a powerful story through captured moments in time where lives are changed and memories of a lifetime are made. In this collection, Mariska gives us an intimate glimpse into Olympic Spirit that makes the Olympic experience so memorable.

About the Olympic Spirit Project eBook

The eBook is available through both Blurb and iBooks.  The eBook book is rich with links leading you to more detailed articles Sochi Olympic experience.

eBook Preview

About the Photographer

Mariska Richters is a freelance photographer whose collection of works can be found at mariskarichters.com and across various online social networks. Raised in the Cowichan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Mariska’s passion for capturing the human experience through images and words was born from her experience at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She has attended three Olympics to date, and aspires to continue the Olympic Spirit Project in future. Proceeds from the Olympic Spirit Project will be put toward continuing this project in 2016 and beyond.

Postcard: The Sochi 2014 Olympic CauldronGratitude!

I’d like to, once again, send out a HUGE thank you to my Kickstarter project backers who made the Olympic Spirit Project book – with special thanks to my corporate sponsor, Brandy’s Whistler – without all of you this book would never have been possible. You will all find your names on the contributors page of the book, as promised.

I’m flooded with gratitude for the kindness and generosity from all of my family, friends and people I’ve never even met who helped make my Olympic dream a reality! Thank You all for this unforgettable experience!

Special Thanks To…

I’d like to send a special thanks out to a few people who were especially helpful to me on the ground in Sochi – Shauna, Greg, and Jordan – You guys are SUPERHEROES!!

Shauna was at my side on almost a daily basis and was an adventurous partner in crime and the exact Olympic Spirit poster girl I was hoping for when I began this project! Thank You Shauna!

Greg helped me out with Canadian Olympic Spirit swag when my luggage didn’t arrive and he provided me with much needed cold and flu medication when the Sochi Flu knocked me down. To top that off, he was my Olympic Spirit poster boy with his epic custom made Canada suit. Thank you Greg! You’re awesome, as always!

Jordan helped me when I first landed in Russia and got me into the Canada Olympic House open house where I saw President Putin. He also helped me find the giant stack of postcards that I sent off to all my Kickstarter backers. Thank you!

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be sending the eBook out to my Kickstarter backers as promised. You should be receiving it in your inbox soon. If you did not back the project, please visit the web shop to order your very own copy, or click the button below.

Buy eBook!          Buy Printed Book!

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

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.

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

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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.

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 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.)