Just a general update: Plants and a Lunch Date

Yesterday I went grocery shopping. But I didn’t just buy groceries. I poked around the grocery store’s Garden Centre first. And after getting my groceries, I went and bought a pretty peach Begonia hybrid and a flat of four portulaca. I have no idea what colour mine are yet as the buds haven’t opened yet. I then had to get a couple more planters and some soil for the balcony. And I got a geranium.


More plants. These ones are for my balcony though: Begonia Hybrid, Geranium, Portulaca

I also want to show off my purple shamrock. And while it doesn’t show in this picture, there are actually TWO new shoots! I am so excited!


My purple shamrock is growing!

My Beach in a Bowl is sprouting a SECOND palm tree! And my smaller Christmas cactus also has a second new leaf. I am really enjoying my plants. I love looking at them every day, to see if they are doing anything. I love when I notice a new leaf or shoot. Knowing that I’m growing things that bring colour to my life make me smile. My balcony now has 4 planters, with a variety of pretty colourful plants in them. I also sprinkled some wildflower seeds in the pots so I’m hoping those will grow and attract bees.

A Planned Lunch Date with my Great-Aunt

Today was an outing I was REALLY looking forward to. When I last visited Audrey, I noticed a bus trip from her retirement home to the Robert Simpson Park here in Arnprior. The home has picnic outings through the summer and today’s was the first of the season. Audrey put her name down for the trip and I told her I meet her at the park and have lunch with her. I called yesterday to confirm she going. Oh yes, I was told. We’ll make sure she gets on the bus.

I packed up my lunch, grabbed my beach chair and walked down to the park. Under the gazebo, there was a group of seniors sitting at the picnic tables. I walked over and as I got closer, my heart started to sink. Audrey wasn’t there. The supervising staff noticed me and I explained who I was and why I was crashing their picnic. “Oh, Audrey’s name wasn’t on the list I was given this morning. There were some names obviously crossed off, but I couldn’t read them through the marker.” I thanked the staff and turned to go have my lunch alone. But they wouldn’t let me leave. The chef, who was manning the BBQ, said, “Since you’re here, you should stay and join us. Would you like a burger or a hot dog?” I said I had brought my lunch. “Nonsense,” he replied, “if Audrey had been here, you’d be having a burger or a hot dog with us. Please, there’s lots of food and I don’t want to take any of it back home.” So I had a lovely lunch with a chatty, feisty group of seniors. When they left to get back on the bus for the drive home, several of them gave me a hug and thanked me for joining them. When I told them I’d be at the residence on Friday, they all invited me to join them for the cocktail and entertainment hour.

Tomorrow I will tell you about one of the women I was chatting with today. After doing a bit of research, she definitely deserves more than a brief mention. What she had the strength to do is truly remarkable, so stay tuned!


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There is Definite Improvement

I am getting better. I can see the improvements with each passing day. I am now getting out of my apartment 3-4 days a week, instead of only once. 

Yes I still feel anxious when I go out, but I am no longer dealing with full on vomiting and almost fainting. I now deal with crazy sweating and heart palpitations. But I think they are an improvement.

I’ve had the energy lately to do things around the apartment. I’m almost finished making a dress. Today I repotted some plants. Yesterday I was out and about for almost 4 hours. And I felt AMAZING.

Here are my new plants, all repotted in their new homes. I worked on my balcony because I knew I’d spill dirt all over the place.

Posted in day-to-day life, illnesses, Indoor Gardening, Mental Health, Show and Tell | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Is it possible to be addicted to plants and gardening?

So I don’t have a big apartment, but I have discovered that it is really great for growing plants. I never used to be able to keep indoor plants alive. I used to tell my family and friends if they wanted a plant killed, to give to me. However, I appear to have gotten much better at keeping houseplants alive. And even getting them to grow!

I know I’ve told you that my Christmas cactus has been putting out new leaves, well, we’re now up to 7 new leaves! This one makes me really happy because these cuttings came from Grandma’s cactus.  The other cactus cutting I have is from her sister’s, and I was thinking it wasn’t going to do anything. But I was wrong. It is also putting out a new little leaf!


Left: Christmas cactus putting out a new little leaf; Right: Beach in a Bowl is finally sprouting a palm tree!

And My Beach in a Bowl has finally decided to do something. Yes, I did plant 6 seeds. And so far only 1 has sprouted. But I figure one is better than none. I have the glass terrarium wrapped in plastic wrap to create a greenhouse of sorts. So I’m going to keep it like that a little longer and see if I can get a couple more seeds to sprout.

Last week I planted the seeds of an African Daisy, as well as some herbs (basil, thyme, oregano). Well, they are ALL sprouting! And my purple shamrock has FINALLY decided to send up another shoot. I’m thrilled because Grandma had a green shamrock, and I know she would have loved a purple one.

With all the plants I currently have (because let’s not forget my avocados, spider plants, or aloe vera), you’d think I’d stop. But no. I went out today and bought more. And pots to put them in (I’ll be planting them tomorrow).


Meet my new plants, from back to front: a Begonia Rex, a succulent called Pork and Beans,  a Moon Cactus, a Dracaena, and a Croton (with the red leaves)

I really need to stop buying plants. I now need to see about getting a shelving unit to put them all on.

Posted in day-to-day life, Hobbies, Indoor Gardening, Show and Tell | Tagged , | 2 Comments

I received a Blogger’s Award Nomination

I will confess, I don’t normally do these sorts of things. Mainly because I don’t like making people feel forced to answer questions. But Discovering Your Happiness, the blogger who nominated me for the Awesome Blogger Award, asked such interesting questions that I couldn’t help but wanting to answer. So thank you, Anita, for the nomination and the awesome questions that compelled me to answer 🙂

What is the Awesome Blogger Award?

This award was created by Miss Maggie over at dreaming of Guatemala! And she says: “This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”

Rules of This Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you & include the reason behind the award
  • Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader
  • Answer the questions your nominator gave you
  • Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers
  • Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer
  • Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated

Anita’s Questions

What part of the world are you from?

I’m originally from Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada. But for now, I call the small town of Arnprior home.

What made you start your blog?

I decided to start a blog when I went to Barbados for an extended stay in 2015. It seemed like a great way to keep family and friends up to date on what I was doing. Plus, I wanted to be able to record my experience so I could come back and read it later.

What is your favourite movie?

Hmm…..I haven’t seen it in ages, but Dead Poet’s Society, with Robin Williams.

Have you traveled, if so where?

Oh yes. I’ve been to England, The Netherlands, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Greece, France, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Honduras (Roatan Island), Curacao, and Barbados.

What is the meaning behind your blog name?

It comes from the length of time I spent in Barbados in the summer of 2015. I was there for 161 days, hence 161 Days in Paradise.

What is a fun fact about you?

I love collecting cookbooks. Which is funny, because I often just throw things together when I cook. I don’t often USE the cookbooks.

Do you believe in life after death?

Yes. Since the deaths of parents and grandma, they’ve all found ways to contact me. In fact, I blogged about it here: Encountering Lost Loved Ones

What is your favourite food?

Favourite individual food…probably pizza. Favourite cuisine: anything Thai.

What do you do to calm the mind?

Lately I’ve tried a whole bunch of stuff. But listening to music seems to be the most consisitent way I have of calming my mind.

What is your proudest moment?

This is kind of tough. So I’m going to pick three. The first is the day I graduated from University. It took me a long time to get my B.A. and I even managed to do it cum Laude. The second would the day I graduated from college with my Chef Training Certificate, also with Honours. And lastly, the day I got on a plane to live in Barbados for 161 days.

My Nominations

I’m totally copping out on this. I nominate any blogger who reads my blog and feels like answering the questions I ask below. Frankly, I think anyone who takes the time to set up a blog and maintain it is AWESOME. Go you!

My Questions

  1. How long have you been blogging?
  2. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
  3. What is the best concert you’ve attended?
  4. Do you like pineapple on your pizza?
  5. Would you prefer to scuba dive or sky dive?
  6. What do you typically eat for breakfast?
  7. Do you have any pets?
  8. What is your favourite childhood memory?
  9. What is your favourite T.V. show?
  10. What is your biggest fear?

Anyway, anyone who wants to play, go to it.


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Meet one my of Hobbies: Sewing

I think I might slowly be getting myself back. Today I decided to tackle a sewing project. Even though I just bought some lovely new clothes this past weekend, I do have lots of gorgeous fabric that I have plans for. So, I taped together a pattern and started cutting pieces.


Getting started on a dress (Sunshine Dress by Patterns for Pirates)

Now, I haven’t been sewing for very long. Back in grades 7 and 8, I made a pillow and sweatshirt for Home Economics class…but I haven’t really touched a sewing machine since then. Over Christmas, I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to start making my own clothes. Let me tell you, I’m really slow at it. I don’t have a lot of space so I don’t have a great table for cutting fabric or patterns. I lean over my bed, which is horrible for my back. But working on the floor is even worse on my knees. So I slowly cut fabric and take lots of breaks. This afternoon I got the bodice mostly assembled. Mostly. I’m fighting with pinning the neckband on properly. And tomorrow I’ll fight with the arm bands. And hopefully get the skirt cut out. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes.


My in-progress Sunshine Dress

I do think it will turn out really nicely. And I will look fabulous in it.

Posted in day-to-day life, Hobbies, Show and Tell | Tagged , | 3 Comments

My Blog is 2 Years Old!

My blog, 161 Days in Paradise, is 2 years old today! When I started this blog, I figured only family and friends would follow it so they could see what I was doing in Barbados. I never really thought that other people would follow my blog. But I’m so glad you all decided to hop on for the ride.


Happy Birthday to my blog!

I love sharing things here. And I’m always so touched and honoured when someone tells me that something I’ve written has really spoken to them. I know lately I’ve really been focused on mental illness, but that’s only because in the course of my own struggles, I’ve found that we still need to talk about these issues more. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and all other mental illness are still so badly misunderstood.

But I am trying to not be defined by my mental illnesses. I am more than that. I’m a traveler, a music lover, a reader, a knitter, a seamstress, a hopeful grower of plants, a baker, and a cook. And I will admit, as a cook, I love that my recipe posts are my best posts.

Since recipes ARE so popular, that’s how I will end my blog’s second birthday post. I got it into my head that I wanted potato salad today. So here’s the recipe:

Recipe: Potato Salad with Feta, Black Olives, and Peas


  • handful of medium potatoes, washed but not peeled, and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 scant tbsp of pesto (I used the stuff in the jar)
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
  • 8-10 black olives, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup or so of frozen green peas, defrosted


  1. Bring the potato pieces to a boil in salted water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes (you want the potatoes cooked through, but not mushy)
  2. Drain, and rinse the potatoes in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside to drain completely
  3. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, pesto, lemon juice. Stir to combine and then taste. Add salt and pepper as needed
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine cooked potatoes, yogurt dressing, feta, olives, and peas. Stir to combine, cover, and put in the fridge to allow flavours to blend.

Potato Salad with Feta, Black Olives, and Peas

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Picture Post: My New Clothes

In a pleasant turn of events, I was able to get all 5 items that I had put aside. I’d forgotten that the store was having a Surprise Discount sale (you put your hand in a bowl and picked a slip, with a discount of 10%-50% off your total purchase). Well, I ended up getting 30% off! So I did a bit of math, figured I had plenty of food for the week, and decided to treat myself to some fabulous clothing. Yes, I’ve been learning to sew, but I’m not very fast and now that we are slowly getting some warmer weather, I really needed some summer pieces. So, here’s a little fashion show. The pictures aren’t great but they’ll do.

Outfit 1 (shirt is a new purchase, pants are mine):


Pretty new turquoise shirt. 

Outfit 2 (all new)

I will confess to being surprised that I bought white pants. But I LOOOOOVE them. They are so comfy.


Ultimate summer outfit. Bring on the patios!


Outfit 3 (all new)



Love this shirt! It hides all the bumps!

Of course, we’re now supposed to get rain and cooler temperatures for the next few days. But I am all set for when summer truly arrives!

Posted in day-to-day life, Show and Tell | Tagged , , | 6 Comments