Today I realized I have more than 100 lbs to lose. I find that daunting… very much so. But, if I do not start this journey, I will get bigger and unhappier.  Today is the first step to more than 100 lbs.

I was nervous heading in to Herbal Magic after my first day on the program. I knew it would all be ok when I drove into the parking lot and met two lovely friends who go there as well. We are a not so secret club. It was nice to connect with kindred folks who are on their own path. Pretty awesome.

Katie was my counselor du jour. She is rather adorable – sprightly. She surrounds me with warmth and kindness. Talks to me about the first day and gives me more confidence to keep going in the right direction. She also set me straight about doing it all… I was feeling horrible that I did not got a walk in today. She said not to worry as it will come. One thing at a time. That in itself took a weight off me. One day at a time.

Bring on tomorrow – and all that it has to offer.


Tree blood… sweet, sweet tree blood.

I know, it is not tree blood, but maple tree sap. But, tree blood sounds so cool and hip and vampire-y.

For the last couple of years my family and I make the trek to Duncan to check out the BC Forest Discovery Centre’s Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival. We try to get there early, because we LOVE tasting the award-winning maple syrups. We sip and collectively decide on the bottle of goodness we will purchase and take home. We do this early, because the elixirs have been known to sell out.

Once we decide on the maple syrup we love, we check out everything else. On site, there are workshops led by experienced maple syrup producers, walk and talk tapping demonstrations (we enjoy learning how it is done, temperatures needed, right trees to choose etc) presentations, and displays.  There will also be some cooking featuring local maple syrup. Oh… I just remembered… the maple syrup fudge. It will be a sweet day for sure!

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Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival Schedule:

10:00 am – 4:30 pm

Tapping Demonstrations:  


Maple Syrup Presentations


Taste Local Maple Syrup
Train Rides  
10:30 pm – 3:30 pm every half hour

Special Admission Price:

$7 adult/seniors/student/youth

$5 per child (2-12 years)

children under 2 are free




Back…. by Popular Demand: Ken Lavigne



A number of years ago in a TV studio in Vancouver, I met Ken Lavigne. Having lived in Nanaimo for a few years, I had of course heard of this Vancouver Island man and his talent for singing. I had yet to meet him. The day in the green room at this TV station, I had a OMG Celebrity Moment. I had the great pleasure to chat with him about his life on Island, his kids and his upcoming Carnegie Hall date. He was excited about it all. He was gracious, kind and interested.

Ken is one of the Islands treasures! His voice, writing and passion for music is top-notch. He has a couple performance dates coming up and I really encourage you to come hear/meet this man. He is more classically trained, but do not let that put you off. His voice and variety of music will put you at ease. I am so excited to see him perform… like giddy excited. I hope you can come out and hear him too.

Ken Lavigne, is Back By Popular Demand – with the Vancouver Island Symphony. Two shows – Saturday, February 9th at 7:30 pm at Qualicum Civic Centre (tickets at Mulberry Bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach or call the Symphony office at 250-754-0177) and at Port Theatre in Nanaimo on Sunday, February 10th at 2pm (Tickets: 250-754-8550

Here is the press release about the shows:
Romancing with Ken Lavigne


When it comes to Valentine’s Day, Chemainus tenor Ken Lavigne, a popular charmer, storyteller, songwriter and humorist says; “I think Valentine’s Day is one of those days that strikes terror in men to be ultra romantic.” Then he paused while thinking about his upcoming Back… by popular demand concerts with Pierre Simard and the Vancouver Island Symphony at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on Sunday, February 10 at 2 p.m.  “You can only give so many cards and chocolates. If you want to be creative, don’t give your loved one ‘things’, give them an experience, like this concert!”

He’s quite the salesman, a tenor who obviously believes passionately in his art and performance.  “I’ll be singing a lot of romantic tenor love songs through the ages – love songs with a symphony orchestra – definitely stirring! There will be romance from around the world – French, Italian, German, Scottish… and of course there will be surprises!”

Lavigne has been working on not doing the same-old, same-old. “We are crafting the show to use the VI Symphony to its greatest ability, and to highlight the songs and time of year. Pierre is an absolute dream of a conductor. We have such a wonderful time together on stage.”

It’s been a busy year: Lavigne has added to his list of great easy-listening recordings with Show Time, released in June. “It was inspired by the desire to finally record some of my favourite musical theatre ballads. I love these songs and each one is special to me. Keep Holding On is doing well. The title song was chosen to represent the mission of the Salvation Army and was used to kick off their media campaign for their annual Christmas Kettle drive.”

Back to shows and opera: In 2012 Lavigne performed in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, Fallujah for City Opera Vancouver, and Rattenbury with the Other Guys Theatre Company in Victoria. “When getting back on stage in my own show it’s a much more relaxing environment; it’s second nature to me to sing a few songs and spin a few stories.”

A romantic journey: Lavigne’s choice of song and often hilarious unscripted stories embrace the audience as he takes them on an inspiring journey of life, love, dreams, hope and parenting. That’s real entertainment, warm and fuzzy style with the rapturous sounds of a full orchestra. “In any kind of romance you have to build trust,” he explains. “The first two or three songs of any concert are about building a trust with the audience so they can go on a journey with you for the next two hours knowing they are in good hands.” That’s romance, Ken Lavigne style! With Lavigne the audience will indeed be in good hands on a cozy, exciting and amorous musical journey.

For tickets call 250-754-8550.

For more information visit Keeping Music LIVE!

For information and formal biography of Ken Lavigne visit:


Cancelled – Cirque Zíva

Makes me sad to hear about cancellations. Alas, when it comes to issues with travel visas and immigration, they have the power. So, Cirque Zíva is cancelled. Below is the advisory.


NANAIMO, BC (September 28, 2012) – The Port Theatre Society is extremely disappointed  to announce the cancellation of The Spotlight Series presentation of The Golden Dragon Acrobats in Cirque Zíva due to unavoidable complications with international travel visas and American immigration for these foreign touring  artists. The Port Theatre Society was notified on Monday, September 20th of this by the troupe’s North American agent.  It has become very clear that none of the four scheduled Canadian dates will be able to take place in January, 2013 and there is currently no discussion of rescheduling this tour.

There are always risks and challenges when working with artists from abroad, although this is an exceptional circumstance.


The Port Theatre Society will ensure that all ticket holders will have the option of exchanging their tickets for another “premium” Spotlight Series presentation, either The Number 14 or Burlesque To Broadway and will be offered special discounts on the other remaining Spotlight Series events.  These discounts will be available at the time of exchange only.


Refunds will be available to current Cirque Zíva ticket holders upon request.

Contact the Port Theatre Ticket Centre at 250.754.8550 to rebook your tickets to one of the other “premium” Spotlight Series presentations and to receive discounts on other Spotlight Series events.




For further information, please contact:

Bruce Halliday, General Manager – 250-754-4555 or

Crimson Coast Dance Society and Jennifer McLeish-Lewis co-production will come to Malaspina Theatre at VIU on September 29th at 8 pm.

Vancouver Island art aficionados will have the opportunity to see contemporary dance and hip-hop through the eyes of touring professionals and emerging local artists.

Soft Animal
choreography: Jennifer McLeish-Lewis
Dancers (R-L) Nicole Dupuis, Kathryn Carlberg, and Caitlin Brown
Photo by Yvonne Chew

As the season changes from the still and sultry nights of Summer to the vibrant colours and crisp air of Autumn, “Leaving Traces – New Dance Works” brings to Nanaimo fresh ideas from both seasoned professionals and bright young talent. This Crimson Coast Dance Society and Jennifer McLeish-Lewis co-production will come to Malaspina Theatre at VIU on September 29th at 8 pm. Tickets $18 in advance, $25 at the door and $10 for students.

“Leaving Traces – New Dance Works” is an evening filled with breathtaking and innovative performances from a collaboration of studios, dancers and choreographers:

– Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society
– Jennifer McLeish-Lewis
– Local, pre-professional choreographers from Nanaimo’s VIBE Dance.

We welcome Jennifer as a part time resident to Nanaimo!  She is a west coast-based contemporary dance artist working internationally. She has performed from as far away as Brussels to our

own back yard. McLeish-Lewis will have two pieces in the Nanaimo show – “Leaving Traces” choreographed by Daelik and performed by McLeish-Lewis and, “Soft Animal” choreographed by McLeish-Lewis – the work they do with stiletto’s is worth seeing.

The other choreographers – Voula Rounis, Melisa Jones, Dominique Saab, Chelsea Ikona – have been working hard to ensure their choreographed pieces are ready to showcase. “Leaving Traces” will create a bright, fresh take on hip-hop and modern pieces with the aid of gifted dancers and will show how much talent we have here on the central Island.

Don’t miss the Island’s own innovative collaboration happening right here in Nanaimo. The Malaspina Theatre is located at 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, on the campus of VIU. Check out for more details on this show and all that they do locally.

The NoteworthyKids Music Club – Through the Stage Door!

I really love the Noteworthy Kids Music Club. Both my daughters have been involved in it… and my talented sister-in-law, Patricia Plumley, does choir and voice with the kids. It is a great opportunity for children to discover music, instruments and joy of a show! I just got a press release about the upcoming registration and thought I would share. It is cost effective, the time commitment is not onerous and the kids enjoy it.

Symphony for Kids – LIVE!

with NoteworthyKids Music Club and Mayhem at the Museum of Music

Children of today are born into a world of iPhones, iPods, BlackBerrys and computers. But, do they know where the music they hear comes from and how it is made? For 15 years the Vancouver Island Symphony has been passionately addressing this very issue and has come up with some unique solutions…

What began as a seed in 2005 has now become a full-grown movement, one that’s exciting, energized and still growing! Kids ages 7-13, from around the Central Island, can join the NoteworthyKids Music Club. Members walk through the Stage Door at The Port Theatre, see musicians and their instruments, take a sneak peek behind the scenes, enjoy extra-special events, and experience a symphony LIVE – with over 50 musicians on stage.

The first NoteworthyKids event this year is on Thursday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m. with registration and orientation. On a typical NoteworthyKids night the Back Stage area is filled with excitement as children in bright coloured T-shirts mingle with musicians and VI Symphony staff. Explains Bobbi Kurtz, Symphony Outreach and Education Coordinator; “Music comes to life for kids when they meet the musicians one on one, talk with them and ask questions.” NoteworthyKids also watch a rehearsal of the orchestra with guest artists, like Cirque de la Symphonie! They see how conductor Pierre Simard leads the orchestra and prepares for the concert. Adds Bobbi, “Just being able to see everything LIVE is so different from listening to it on CD or iPod.”


Symphony Community Day

And another great event – on Saturday, October 20, kids, parents, family and anyone in the community are invited to this season’s first FREE Symphony Community Day. Activities begin with the highly popular Musical Instrument Zoo (11 a.m. to 12 noon), followed by the NoteworthyKids Music Club Family Event – Meet a Musician (11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.). Everyone is then welcomed to see what happens at a Symphony Rehearsal (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.). Complimentary tickets (required) are available through the Port Theatre at 754-8550.


Mayhem at the Museum of Music

On Friday, January 18 (taking school bookings now!) – it’s Mayhem in the Museum of Music. Over 45,000 elementary school kids have experienced the Vancouver Island Symphony performing LIVE on stage with the annual Education Concerts, where kids are bussed from schools to the theatre. Says Bobbi, “Mayhem in the Museum of Music is considered to be one of our conductor Pierre Simard’s best-written education programs. It is about a night-time museum security guard and composer named Jimmy who works in the Composers Hall. When he asks for help, ghost composers emerge from the displays to give him tips. Pierre plays all the characters. There’s fabulous lighting and sound effects. It is a fantastic show!”


For information about kids’ programs and registration to the NoteworthyKids Music Club call 250-754-0177 or visit (NoteworthyKids Music Club costs only $40 for the entire season, and includes a T-shirt and tickets to a concert. Bursaries are available for kids who require assistance.)



4Cats Art Studio Hosts First National Costume Swap Day™ Canada Event in the Central Vancouver Island Region

4Cats Art Studio head curator, Tara Gray, gets into the Halloween Spirit!


(Sept. 25, 2012) Lantzville, B.C. – Are the dark corners of your storage room a little spookier than usual? Do they come complete with piles of too small, underused or long-forgotten costumes, bits and bobbles of Halloweens past? Do you have no desire to spend tons of time and money fighting the crowds (and your kids) to score another costume that will end up in that cob-webby pile?

4Cats Arts Studio has got a fun, economic, creative and light-on-the-earth solution for you –  National Costume Swap Day Canada. The swap takes place on Saturday, October 13th, 2012 at 1-7221 Lantzville Road, Lantzville, BC. It starts at 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and is FREE!We encourage you to bring your CLEAN costume to the studio by Thursday, October 9 so we can sort them for easy swapping on National Costume Swap Day – October 13!! Costume Swap costumes can be taken at the door on swap day as well. Please bring a non perishable food item for Loaves and Fishes too… they do need it right now!

We’ve got your back in the costume department this year. Spend a fun early October Saturday afternoon with other parents and kids looking to discover some great finds and get rid of that never-to-be-worn-again (by you) box of costumes, accessories and more in the spirit of upcycling.

“Everyone has a stash of costumes from Halloweens gone by that they don’t use any more,” says 4Cats Nanaimo curator, Tara Gray. “We’re putting those old costumes to good use and making them new to you while helping families save money and live lightly.”

Get all of the details on the local costume swap and find out all the details on this national movement at

How it works: Come and bring your costumes to exchange and trade with the group. You will get an exchange ticket at the door for every costume you bring in that allows you to go home with a new-to-you costume for your kids.

4Cats Nanaimo is pleased to be part of National Costume Swap Day Canada celebration where communities throughout the country are helping families save money, create a stronger sense of community and live lightly on the Earth this Halloween.