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Discovery
When Tanya Northcott goes on vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador, so does her camera. Really, it’s an adventure for her camera, which doesn’t see much action back home in Ottawa, Ontario.

“My camera is not really used anywhere else but when I’m in Newfoundland,” Tanya admits. “When I’m in Ottawa it just sits on the shelf. I’m working on changing this, as there are many beautiful places in and around Ottawa, too, but it just doesn’t inspire me the way Newfoundland does.”

Tanya was born on the mainland and was introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador by her adoptive parents, who raised her there.

“I’m a descendant of Ojibway ancestry. My birth family once lived on the Wabigoon Lake Reserve, which is South of Dryden, Ontario. I was adopted by a wonderful Newfoundland couple who were living in Thunder Bay at the time, but after living there for a few years they decided to move back to Newfoundland and that’s where I grew up,” she explains. “I’m very happy to have grown up in Newfoundland; it’s a beautiful place with very friendly people.”

Her first experience with photography was during a vacation to the southern United States and Mexico in the 1980s, when she was gifted an Olympus camera to record her experience. “During this trip I was really inspired by the beauty of the ocean and landscapes,” Tanya says.

These days, Tanya captures scenes using her Nikon D-90 with its AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm lens. She also uses a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens and an AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm zoom lens. While her camera gear has changed over the years, what she trains it on has not. She is still is irresistibly drawn to the sea and landscapes.

“My favourite subject to shoot would be Newfoundland outports and landscapes simply because it’s so beautiful: the ocean, beaches, cliffs, wildlife, wharfs, boats and colourful houses…the only thing I need to do is to capture good composition and good lighting – the natural beauty of the land does the rest.”

She makes it sound simple, but to get the right composition sometimes means clamouring over cliffs or crawling beneath wharfs. And that great lighting? Well one could be waiting for hours or even days – sometimes even returning in a different season – for the best light. But it’s all worth it, as Tanya and every other photographer will tell you, when you get that perfect shot, that image that inspires you and others every time you see it.

Click here to view a slideshow of images taken by Tanya.
Explore
Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.

No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.

Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.

Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.

“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”

Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)

Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.



Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.

In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).

Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe

Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
Discovery
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.

Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.

As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.

Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.

“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.

Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.

“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.

He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.

“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.

“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”

Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
Discovery
When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.

Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:

• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.

• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.

• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.

• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”


Feel Good Messages

Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:

“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake

“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton

“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk

“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane

“I am home safe.” – Deanna Dwyer

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From the Archives
With our busy jobs and demanding schedules, we all deserve a vacation suited specifically for our desires. Before booking your summer trip this year, decide what you want out of your vacation. Do you enjoy peace and quiet or a thrilling adventure? Or would you rather a romantic hideaway or a complete lifestyle change? Here are five great summer getaways - one of which is sure to suit your vacation style.

Far Away From it All
Do you ever just want to get away from it all? Every so often, everyone needs a break from the traffic, the bright lights, the ringing phones and the hustle and bustle of daily life. Newfoundland Coastal Safari is just one tour operator that will take you far away from all of these things. The company takes vacationers to Tickle Beach, a remote location 2 km inside Long Harbour Fjord in Fortune Bay, by boat - no roads lead to this wilderness hideaway. While there, vacationers may take in the scenery, wildlife, whales and icebergs and revel in fishing, kayaking and hiking.

Romantic Retreat
There is nothing more romantic than a solitary lighthouse at the edge of the sea, a beacon in the night for lost seafarers trying to find their way home. These structures dot the coastlines of Newfoundland and Labrador, with its strong seafaring tradition. A local tour operator, Linkum Tours, has turned outbuildings at the foots of both the Cape Anguille Lighthouse and Quirpon Island Lighthouse into cozy inns - perfect settings for a romantic getaway.

Working Weekend
While vacations have traditionally been looked upon as times for rest and relaxation, more and more people these days are seeking to experience a different way of life. Several farm vacations are available in the Maritime provinces. Vacationers typically take up residence in a farmhouse located on a working farm, where they may choose to simply enjoy a quiet stay. However, many visitors enjoy pitching in and experiencing the life of a farmer, milking cows, grooming horses and baling hay. McCrea Farms in Shannon, New Brunswick and Springwater Farm in Albion Cross, Prince Edward Island both offer these unique vacations.

Underwater Adventure
If you are a thrill seeker, you probably don't want a quiet vacation sunbathing on a beach. Instead, you might prefer underwater exploring to sitting at seaside. Newfoundland-based Ocean Quest's diving vacations are every thrill-seekers dream. Between pool training and open water dives to swimming with whales, exploring shipwrecks, and examining the undersides of icebergs, you'll stay at the Ocean Quest Lodge.

For the Ladies
If you are a woman who loves a "girls' night out," then perhaps a vacation with the gals is just the break you need. Several inns and lodges accommodate women's retreats at different times throughout the year, where instructors teach outdoors skills like wilderness survival, fly fishing and much more. Then there's also the Beyond Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) workshops, which see women trekking through the wilderness and learning about the outdoors with the added challenge of leaving no trace of you ever having been there - that means not leaving refuse, food leftovers, or even toilet paper behind.

With the holidays fast approaching, here is a sweet treat you can bake and freeze now to serve later.

Chocolate brownie:
1 ¾ cups dark chocolate pieces
2 cups butter
4 eggs
2 ¾ cups sugar
1 ¾ cups flour

Chocolate glaze:
1 cup dark chocolate pieces
¾ cup 36 % cream
1 tbsp Grand Marnier
1 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 tbsp Kahlua
1 tbsp liquid glucose

Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar. Add chocolate mixture, then fold in flour. Pour into sprayed or greased mini-muffin pans. Bake at 325°F for 20 min.

To make the glaze: Heat cream and liquor in a saucepan. Add chocolate and corn syrup. Stir until smooth. Pour over brownies. Chill.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, to top off your sweet treats, here's a delectable recipe for chocolate ganache icing (that can be seen on the cake that graces the cover of our February issue) that's sure to satisfy, and put a smile on your loved one's face.

Ganache

10 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Place chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan bring cream to a boil over a medium heat. Pour cream over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally until ganache reaches a spreading consistency. Spread over top and sides of cake.
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