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The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay

With the announcement of Tokyo winning the bid for the 2020 Olympic host city this afternoon and the Sochi 2014 Torch relay only 29 days away, I’m getting very excited about my upcoming trip to experience my third Olympic Games!

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch   London 2012 Olympic Torch

In 2010, the Olympic Torch Relay came right by my building when I lived smack downtown at Howe and Nelson. This was the true beginning of that amazing energy we felt in our city for the duration of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. I cannot WAIT to feel that energy again when I arrive in Sochi! To view my photos from the final stretch of the Vancouver 2010 Relay, please visit the set on Flickr.

Sadly, I will miss the 2014  relay, as I won’t be in Russia just yet. But I do plan to find and hold one while I’m there to add to my Olympic torch photo collection. The question is, will I be wearing my Canadian or Dutch colors for this one?


Sochi 2014 Olympic TorchThe torch is one of the key symbols of the Games and often captures the imagination of the world. With its bright, eye-catching design, the Sochi 2014 torch, shown here, is intended to reflect Russian hospitality, and the joyful and inspirational atmosphere which is an integral part of the Olympic Torch Relays.

The Flame for the XXII Olympic Winter Games of 2014 will arrive in Moscow on October 6th, 2013, after being lit on the ancient ground of Olympia. From there, it will begin its 123 day journey across the territory of Russia. It will be seen by the residents of 83 regions of the Russian Federation and the coverage of the relay will be 90% of the country’s population.

The Olympic torch will be carried by a record number of torchbearers. 14 thousand people will have the opportunity to run with the lit torch across the cities of Russia, and more than 30 thousand volunteers will be active at the relay. It will travel more than 65,000 km in the 123 day journey.

For more information about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay, please visit www.torchrelay.sochi2014.com.

Sochi Torch Relay Numbers
(image source: http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/Relay/OurRelay)



Quails’ Gate Winery

Last weekend I took a little road trip to Kelowna in BC’s Okanagan to support my friends as they competed in the Ironman Challenge in Penticton. I took this opportunity to do a wine tour at Quails Gate Estate Winery (cuz it’s wrong to visit the Okanagan in the summer without stopping in at at least one winery…)

I headed to the winery with my friend Bruce around lunch time. I had heard that their food was incredible and their patio was amazing, so I wanted to see for myself.

We started with the Wild Coast Mussels and Clams (shallots, garlic, parsley, tomato broth, grilled crostini), and then I moved on to the delicious Albacore Tuna “Tartine” (confit tomato, egg, potato salad, pickles & olive house made focaccia, anchovy vinaigrette), and Bruce had the Yarrow Meadows Duck Leg Confit (quinoa and cabbage salad, sprouted beans, carrot, cilantro, cucumber, mirin dressing). We paired our meals with a bottle of the 2012 Chenin Blanc, and it was a party in my mouth! See more of the menu here.

Mussels at Quails Gate Winery    Tuna Tartine at Quails Gate Winery


After lunch we took a walk around the vineyard and took a little afternoon break to take in this gorgeous view:

Mariska at Quails Gate Winery


From there (after dreaming of never leaving), we headed into the tasting room and tasted their delicious wines. Having had the Chinin Blanc with lunch, we tasted the Dry Riesling, the Rose, and the Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch. I have to say that I enjoyed the whites and the rose more than the red, but all were excellent!


Then, of course, we couldn’t leave without doing a little shopping! (I might have left with half a dozen bottles of fermented goodness…)

If you’re a lover of food and you appreciate good wine, I would highly recommend visiting the Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in Kelowna. I can’t wait to get back to the Okanagan to sample some of the other wonderful wineries! Who’s coming with me?? : )

Which Okanagan wineries have you visited? Please share your experience and recommendations in the comments below.

How to Create a Fun Twist on a Family Portrait

Earlier this summer I was trying to come up with a fun idea as a 40th anniversary gift for our parents. Since they have everything, I thought a generational family portrait, including the grandchildren would be the perfect solution. So, my siblings and I have been working on this idea for the past month, coordinating secret photoshoots behind their backs, hehehe. The final photo turned out awesome and they absolutely LOVED it! We gave them the final print in the same frame that we are all holding in the photos.

40th Anniversary Family Photo

To create your generationally layered family photo, first take photos of each person holding the frame you will be using to put the final print in. You don’t need to include an image inside the frame, as you will add these with Photoshop later.

This is what the original images looked like:

Once you have all your photos taken and edited to your preference:

  1. Open Photoshop and create a path with the pen tool the inside of the frame on each image.
    For more info on how to use the pen tool, click here.
  2. Turn your path into a selection by clicking “Load path as a selection” on the Path palette. (If you do not see the Path Palette, go to the Window menu to turn it on.)
  3. Select the Select menu at the top of your Photoshop window and click Inverse to select everything OUTSIDE of the frame.
  4. Copy this selection, and then paste it right away into the same window.
  5. Paste the first photo into the first image BETWEEN the background layer and the new layer (Layer 1) that you just created.
  6. Use the Free Transform function (Edit menu > Free Transform) to manipulate the size and image location so that it fits perfectly into the framed area.
  7. Save the image as a jpeg.
  8. Repeat these steps and paste the new jpeg you just created into the next frame, until you have all your images.

If you have questions, or anything is unclear, please comment below, or send me a message and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.



Quarry Rock

I never even knew this place existed until I was invited to go for a hike in Deep Cove. It was more of a walk than a laboring hike and this was the stunning view that awaited me at the top. Amazing. Once again, I am so appreciative of this beautiful place that we call home!20130807-132802.jpg

Some details about the hike:

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.8 km
Elevation Gain: 100 meters
Season: year-round
Dog Friendly: YES! (insert happy face here!)
Transit: Yes
Washrooms: not on the trail, but are available at the beach at Deep Cove

The trail is the beginning of the Baden-Powell Trail, which begins along Panorama Drive. The trail is well marked with signs, so you can’t miss it.


This is always an important topic for me, as Roxie is my preferred hiking companion!

Your dog is welcome to be off leash on the trail, as long as s/he is under voice control. When you get to the top, do be careful as I have heard stories of dogs adventuring around and getting stuck in places that they could climb down to, but not back up. Also, it’s a very steep drop from the top of the rock. So if you have an adventurous puppy, you may want to consider leashing it when you arrive at the top.

As always in Vancouver, please be considerate of others on the trail, and pick up after your dog. There’s nothing worse than getting doggie doo on your shoe!

What are some new hike you’ve enjoyed this summer? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below, as I’m always looking to discover new places.

Exploring New Territory

This summer I’ve been truly appreciating this beautiful place that I live in. As a result I’ve have been inspired and made the commitment to explore a new place every weekend.

This began with Canada Day long weekend. I didn’t exactly explore a new place that weekend, but rather a new craft. Per my previous post, it was a double birthday weekend extravaganza and I was on cake duty. Being more of a pie baker than a cake baker, I took on the project of creating unforgettable birthday cakes for my nephew and my dad. Here are the results:

Spider-Man Cake Dad's Cake

The second weekend in July started out with a beautiful Friday evening sunset with a new friend in Horseshoe Bay. Although I’ve been to and through Horseshoe Bay countless times to catch the ferry, actually sitting and appreciating a sunset with a glass of wine was something I had never enjoyed before.

Dad's Cake

Chilliwack Lake
Then Saturday brought me out to Chilliwack. Chilliwack has always been a place I’ve driven through, and maybe stopped for gas, on my way to camping in Manning Park or the Okanagan. I had never actually stopped and explored or appreciated that area. A friend invited me to stay at her family’s cabin on the Chilliwack River that weekend. It was so beautiful there and I had such a wonderful relaxing time walking along the river, enjoying a campfire and relaxing at Chilliwack Lake! Thank you Deanna, it was a quickie road trip to remember!

And so my summer of #ExploreBC shall continue with at least one new adventure each weekend until Labour Day and beyond!

Chilliwack Lake





Getting Creative With Cake

I had an amazing Canada Day long weekend with my family, complete with two birthday celebrations, for which I was on cake duty. Being more of a pie baker, the cake thing was new to me, but I think I pulled it off nicely.

My nephew is a huge Spider-Man fan. It’s all he can talk about. He has a ton of action figures, and has seen all the movies and gets very excited when talking about anything Spider-Man. So naturally, I had to come up with a cake for his 5th birthday that would have him equally excited.

After collecting a bunch of supplies, I baked the cake the night before, and I spent last Thursday evening in cake creation/decorating mode. (Thank goodness for friends who pour drinks!)

Here’s how it turned out.

Spider-Man Cake

I created the second cake for my dad. I had no idea what I was going to do before I started and here is what happened:

Dad's Cake

Both cakes were a hit with family and friends. The Spider-Man cake was a family celebration, while my dad’s cake was shared one of many desserts at his big 70th birthday celebration.

I haven’t had that much creative fun since my high school and university fine arts days. I guess I won those fine arts awards for a reason! I’d forgotten how much I love working with my hands, and I’m  inspired to keep that creativity flowing.

Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch

With just over a year until the 2014 Winter Games (389 days), the torch was unveiled last night, as we slept here in Vancouver.

The torch has a fun, modern and elegant design, and I, personally, am loving that they used the traditional Russian red! The Olympic torch’s Paralympic counterpart is blue. You can see an image of it here.

Some information about the torch, quoted from the Sochi 2014 Facebook page:

Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch

“The concept behind the torch for the 2014 Games is based on the contrasts of Russia. It combines motifs from Russian folklore with ideas of innovation and technological breakthroughs. Its pattern is something that all Russians have been familiar with since childhood, when they first hear the fairy-tales and legends about the Firebird, or the Phoenix which rose from the ashes.

The torch design was developed by a Russian creative team, led by Vladimir Pirozhkov and Andrei Vodyanik. The designers paid particular attention to the torch’s construction and its flame-lighting system. The construction of the torch ensures that the flame burns reliably in difficult conditions, such as strong winds, heavy frosts or any surprises that a Russian winter can throw up.

The torch weighs nearly 1.8 kg, is 0.95 m tall, 0.145 m wide (at its widest part), and 0.54 m deep. Its weight and center of gravity were carefully calculated so as to make the torch as comfortable as possible to carry whilst running. The torch and its component parts have been put through numerous tests, and have been tested in the harshest of conditions. 14,000 Olympic torches will be produced.”
(Torch image source: Sochi 2014 Facebook page)

I had the opportunity to get up close and personal to both the Vancouver and London Olympic torches, and now I’m looking forward to picking up the 2014 torch in Sochi! I’m very excited to make that a reality! Less than 389 days to go!


For more images of the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic torches, please visit the Sochi 2014 Flickr page.

2013 Resolutions

I’ve never been one to set serious resolutions for myself when ringing in the new year, but for some reason, this year feels different. So, in the spirit of change and with the goal of creating an amazing and inspiring life, I’ve come up with some goals for 2013.


  1. Less texting, more quality time – see I tell you all about it here.
  2. Build up my photography kit and take on more photo projects – 2012 did not have me out with my camera nearly enough. To keep myself creative and inspired, this needs to change!
  3. Learn Spanish – I’ve always been good with languages, and have taken Spanish courses several times over the years, but because there has not been much opportunity to practice, it has never stuck. In 2013, I will immerse myself into a Spanish speaking environment and learn to speak fluently.
  4. Travel to a new country – Traveling, experiencing and photographing other cultures is one of my passions in life. That, and food! I’ve traveled to a new country every year for the past four years, and I don’t intend to stop now! I have a feeling that this will go hand in hand with number 3…
  5. Stay healthy and fit through exercise and a healthy diet – As cliche as it seems for a new year’s resolution, eating right and exercising makes a huge difference to the way I feel, both physically and mentally. I want to take this a step further and come up with a physical goal for myself, for example, run a half marathon or Tough Mudder. Who’s in?
  6. Continue to be the Yes-(wo)Man – New experiences come out of trying new things. I’ve made a rule for myself over the past couple of years, that if I’m invited to go do something, I MUST say yes, unless there is a reasonable excuse not to (like fear of dying).
  7. Plan and prepare for the Sochi 2014 Olympics – The Vancouver 2010 Olympics was one on the most inspiring times of my life in Vancouver. I was also lucky enough to be in London for the 2012 Games as well! It only makes sense to continue be a part of such an amazing world event! I can’t WAIT!
  8. LIVE LIFE!! – No more sitting on the sidelines of life, get IN IT!!

Bring it ON 2013!!

2013 Resolution #1: Less Text, More Quality Time

Less iPhone, more personal connectionsI was thinking the other day about what habits I’d like to break in 2013. Aside from being healthier and more fit, and other usual resolutions, my thoughts landed on spending more quality time with the people I care about. When analyzing why the quality time feels like it’s missing, I came to the realization that over this past year, I have done far more communication by electronic means, like text, WhatsApp, or Facebook chat, than actually spending time and physically talking with my friends/family.

If I look at my iPhone text history, there are far more conversations happening in there, than I have actually had speaking on the phone. My phone is no longer a social tool. My call history consists mostly of work related calls, and not a lot of calls to catch up and connect with friends. I don’t like this. I don’t like that I have formed a habit of typing to the people that I care about. It’s so impersonal! I would far rather meet up and have a coffee or share a meal with you, than text. I would rather have a phone conversation, than Facebook chat.

So, here it is! My first resolution for 2013 will be to retrain myself to:

  • Call more, text less.
  • Spend more quality time, and less time typing into my iPhone.
  • Connect more in person, and spend less time on Facebook.
  • Encourage you to do the same when communicating with me and the people YOU care about!

And there you have it. My first resolution. I won’t be waiting until 2013 to get started! With the holidays upon us, there is no better time to truly connect with the people I care about in a more personal way. I’ll be speaking to you soon!

Mariska | Mariska Richters


Muiden, Holland


Muiden, Holland, a set on Flickr.