Friday, 2 November 2018

Riverboat cruises are NOT better than MY Bed & Breakfast

Travelling with family to Ottawa and beyond should elicit wonderful memories but I a must be an ungrateful person. I just don't process things as well as other people but when it comes to travel, when I get home I have to process the trip before I can give you an honest answer to "how was it"?  It's been a year now so we should be safe. While most people come home and say oh my God that was a blast, I think of the negative stuff, unfortunately. I travel the world lots to lots of places and now most of those places I can say wow that was amazing but when I got home from that trip, nope.

My latest trip on a Riverboat Cruise from Amsterdam to Basel Switzerland taught me something about myself I didn't know; At 57, I was TOO YOUNG for a Riverboat Cruise. There is no gym, proper walking path covered by the elements, hot tubs, stores, Casino or pool. We could eat, sleep and drink. As you can see, they did lots of sleeping so maybe they are just the right age for the RB cruise but not me.

 I guess I've been spoiled by the big cruise lines which I love.  Done an Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Alaskan but it will be awhile before I do a small ship again.

On the plus side, I do find that I learn a lot on these trips. I get to stay at bed and breakfast and Airbnb's and I get to steal all their ideas and bring them back to my own bed and breakfast and call it my own. That's good, isn't it?

I especially can't wait to paint a wall in my bathroom with all of the things to see and do in Orleans and downtown. Isn't it sad that the only room in my house that is bare is a bathroom? This guy paid a lot of money but I'm cheap so will do it myself.  I will add that to my ONE DAY list!!!!  I also learned the importance of never letting your guard down as a host  by over indulging or combining pain killers with alcohol. This host had to be poured into his home and it was not a pretty sight, then he proceeded to hit on my bro- not cool buddy; hysterically funny though for future heckling opportunities against my brother......... for life!

When I went to Amsterdam two days before the cruise with my siblings, unlike the locals, we walked everywhere, hour after infernal hour because drill Sargent Diane refuses to cab or bus but the openness of Amsterdam was quite enlightening. The red light district was fascinating yet a little disappointing when you saw the bored expressions on the display of ladies for viewing. I don't know what I was expecting; them cartwheeling with excitement?
We went to a fancy dog park and I'm not sure what my brother is doing but they enjoyed playing there.

 It was interesting to see how open Amsterdam is for marijuana use which when I wrote this was fascinating but now is quite redundant.
I should warn you that this year has been off the charts busy so I couldn't blog.  I'm getting ready to go to Australia again so this cruise blog has to be off my plate before the next one.

The most shocking revelation in Amsterdam was how many people take bikes. bikers have the right of way so if you're walking in their biking path, God help you. They will hit you, not apologize and drive off because you are too stoopid for getting in their way.

The most amazing thing though was how friendly everybody was there. Everyone would stop to help you and look at your map and give you the wrong directions unintentionally. We got lost chronically around our Airbnb. I have no idea how the 4 of us could be so directionally challenged until I realized it was the whole city. Finally after circling around trying to find our "home:", about the 4th time I went in a store and the store keeper left his store and walked us home for 15 minutes. I can't imagine anybody in Canada doing that and we're supposed to be the friendly country.

It was interesting to do Christmas markets and Windmills within days of each other.  We specifically booked our cruise to see the Christmas markets. Naive me, I pictured all along the Rhine all the trees aglitter with Christmas lights and maybe different Santas along the way giving us stockings full of swag...

I guess it's no worse than the agent booking our elephant sanctuary with the baby elephants in Thailand and telling us they were so cute to hold.  Both my gullible daughter and myself pictured ourselves carrying the infant elephants in our arms.  Imagine our horror when we saw the baby elephants and realized they weighed a ton, literally but I digress.  We are gullible, let's just leave it at that.

So, when we reached our port, the free, included tour would take us to a Christmas Market and the first one was magical. The second one was an exact replica of vendors and items just a different city. It was just one flea market after another and all identical except for one place that put a skating rink downtown and lit up the ice. So beautiful. Every city should do this.

The narrow lock for two ships
I learned more about boat launch and ships that I probably wanted to. The ship's Captain is in a raised box near the front of the boat and every time they would go under a bridge, the staff would vacate the Box and the box would sink down into the boat. That's a sight to see as is when the boat passing alongside another freighter in a lock and it really doesn't look like they're going to make it but thankfully they always do even if it is with only an inch between the concrete walls and the competing for space boats.

There are lots of castles lots of markets and a bazilian churches. Oh my, I thought my siblings would string me up if we visited even one more sacred landmark and lit one more candle.   In Cologne we stopped off at St Peters and it was magnificent. The day was dreary the weather was cold the church looked dark and haunted but when we circled the city and came back, it was empty of congregants, suddenly the sunset lit up the church like it was made of solid gold. It was glorious and totally unexpected. What a magnificent structure that 20 year olds built years ago. The sunburst lasted about 2 minutes until I could take my photo but that two minutes was priceless!

There were so many castles to see in Germany but only two actual port visits.  In Koblenz we went to the Marksburg Castle which is hard to believe people live there, it's so wild. They had a torture chamber and off the kitchen, a turret with a hole in the ground for people to poop while they were talking to people who were eating. I guess I wouldn't want to be the one walking under the turret when the urge hit someone from above.

This beautiful castle was one we saw.  Everyone was trying to get the best pic but no one had an ariel view like I did.  Best pic of the day and I lorded it over all the other travelers and agreed to take them to the most magical spot.  I took them to the tourist marketing photo that I had snapped from the frame.  Oh, my name was dirt but laughter is so good for the soul.

Heidelberg castle was bittersweet for me.  I'd been there 30 years ago with 100 US male army soldiers so this time wasn't as magical and they closed off the interior tour as well.  Hard to compete with my first visit when I was young and foolish.

What I wasn't prepared for with this Christmas Market tour because late into the month of November was cold. There wasn't really any snow but we were chilled to the bone quite often. One day I counted 11 layers of clothing on me and when that day ended I recycled the clothes to a different layer on the outside and a different color. I felt a bit like a homeless person.
The Black Forest Area was surprising to me. We took a long included bus tour out to the black forest which was very deep in snow. There were workshops on black forest cake making, cuckoo clock and glass blowing. We almost got lucky and got to take home a $13,000 cuckoo clock when my brother stumbled but he recovered altho I'm sure his heart was ready to go into cardiac arrest.

Met a lovely lady from California who had never seen snow so I suggested she do snow angels and also stand under a heavily laden eaves trough with a ton of melting snow while I took lots of pictures of her but alas it never did fall on her- I was poised ready just in case. Don't judge me.  Everybody wants the perfect action shot.

Upon our return we had to walk to the three corners of France Germany and Switzerland and have numerous pictures taken. Someone said it was not an easy place to get to; they would be right.  It's an even more difficult place to find. I think the gods finally shook their heads and just moved the 3 corners to where we were wandering 'cause we never would have found it on our own. Quite possibly this wasn't even the right monument but just give it to us.

We're such fancy travelers, we had breakfast on the ship in Germany lunch in France at a boulangerie/deli then walked back into Switzerland to catch a tram to go into Germany shopping and take our picture at the 3 borders.  Poor Tom with his bad feet and I made us go from country to country to country .  

Back to the boat- because there were four of us and we would arrive often late for dinner we would have to join other tables but not on the night of the Captain's Dinner because they ran out of seats. We had to sit in the lounge by ourselves like lepers. We met some lovely people from Arizona and North Carolina, all over the place. They were all interested in hearing about my bed and breakfast but as of this date, I have yet to see one of these people.  
Hindsight helped us realize too that if we didn't cheap out on the rooms, maybe we wouldn't have noticed the smell of sewage either down in the lower level where we were located and outside on the walking deck. If you wait a year though before you reminisce, "it was the best trip ever.

Switzerland is amazing. We had an Airbnb on the Swiss German border near France.  Switzerland is pretty cool because they have mobility passes which makes tram travel free to travel anywhere in Switzerland as long as we are staying here as a tourist for a couple of nights. Ottawa should consider that but I guess they would lose money.  And I'm sure like in Heidelberg, where university is free, we are not going that route either. There is a place that offers new kinds of schools where one day they speak French, one day German, one day English... Isn't that a fantastic idea.  We think we are so progressive.  Doesn't matter, I love to travel but I love Canada more.

On our return trip, my sister bought a bottle of booze and convinced me to buy one at the grocery store.  She wrapped hers well in clothes and put it in the suitcase.  Briefly, I thought, isn't she foolish.  It will get broken.  I will just shlep mine around in the backpack.  At the security, the lady ahead was questioned about liquids and I smugly smiled that mine were all safely in a tiny plastic bag and then it hit me.  OMG nooooooo!

  My turn, and they "regretfully" took it away, I'm sure for their upcoming Chistmas party. I was sooooo sad.  The trip was a bust.  There was no consoling me and then when we reached the waiting area, it flashed, Flight to Amsterdam for us Canadians is cancelled, not just delayed.  WTF?  We trudged back to start all over again and I stopped briefly at security to say our flight was cancelled, and jokingly requested to have my bottle back and OMG they gave it to me.  Woohoo!  Whoopie!  Was a great trip we were
having. The irony to this story is I used to be a travel agent so I know better and more importantly, I  forget and DO THIS EVERY SINGLE YEAR!  Don't worry, I will tell you about it again when I come back from Australia. Cheers Mate.
Can't rotate the picture to save my soul.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Where to stay in Ottawa after a natural disaster?

Ottawa has been over the top busy for hotel rooms.  The phone has been ringing off the hook for the last week  and I didn't put  two and two together until my guest told me they couldn't find a place anywhere in Ottawa to stay. Now I don't know if I should be offended in knowing that I'm their very last resort, quite possibly the last place on earth they would ever think to call unless we were both the last people on the planet but sigh, yes, I have rooms. I thought I was finished for the year and then I got one call and the next day I got eight and had to turn away so many people away. It was like Canada 150 all over again. 

It was unbelievable to me that people visiting Ottawa would not have a hotel room anywhere but so many others who lost their homes due to the tornado were displaced and moved to the hotels. That left exactly ONE bed and breakfast on the planet, I kid you not, in Ottawa with availability- yes, Spoiled Rotten B&B. Picture us wearing a cape.  Don't think the worst of me for being available in the burbs because it's quite charming here; really, it's like winning the lottery; well you’ll just have to book and see for yourself.

As an afterthought, I don't watch the news but I did see many, many pictures of the tornado after effects and they were heart breaking. I received my local Journal and front page was an article stating while Orleans was not affected there were some after effects. They showed a picture of a stop sign down. I almost killed myself laughing. This is not a competition folks!

The obvious silver lining to me is all this business means I’ll be paying my bills sooner but with every silver lining comes a few rain drops or deluge.  When I went to school to learn how to run a business the organizer introduced herself and said, "Most of you will fail. Some of you will become successful. Some of you become so successful you will fail." My thought that was the stupidest thing I've ever heard but I feel like I'm at critical mass right now. On a daily basis, I get IT types telling me my SEO is bad but for crying out loud, I’m not sure I could take any more traffic even if I fixed it. 

Every time somebody leaves and I have a sanity restoring evening to myself, I get another request and my empty, peaceful house fills up instantly. You know me, I'm not great at saying no or turning down a sob story so I live perpetually like I am selling my home.  Do you have any idea how lucky you are to be able to eat supper from the pot while sitting in your underwear, in a messy living room, and you haven't done your dishes in a month?  Ok, that last part is gross but you are sooooo lucky you don't have to live in fear of the phone ringing and the tornado cleanup happening every single time.  Sure, if I kept the house perfect I wouldn’t have this problem but have we met?    

With all the chaos and back to back 21 bookings in 7 days, my body went on autopilot.  I would get in the car and she would say, “don’t worry, I know where we are going” and would take me to Giant Tiger.  Once in the store, the cart would say “Hi Cathy, don’t worry, I know what we need” and the food I buy every single time I go there would hop in the cart.  Even my Tap Debit card knew the routine. 

Apparently, I’m not the only tired B&YB owner.  The posts from the other innkeeper's on Facebook are getting pretty amusing too. We're all exhausted and getting punchy. Personally, I'm waking up in different rooms with no idea what side of the bed to get out on. I have no idea if there's anybody else in the house. I race from one room to the next only to freeze and wonder, do I have any guests or have they just gone out.  IT’S SO NERVE WRACKING living this way!!!  Having nice guests helps ease the pain.

My favorite gay couple came back for the third time in 3 years. They’re a mature couple and I just love them. This year he called up and said I don't know if you remember me; he's in my call display and I said of course I do and he wanted to come up again and jokingly said he'll bring his wife. It's so cute when they refer to each other as wives and husbands. I prepared the romance room with tons of romantic decor and flower petals. Imagine my shock when he showed up with a woman. I have no idea who this woman is, and how dare she have an affair with this lovely gay couple. It wasn't till the next morning that when I asked him if this was his ex-wife and he looked at me funny and said no she's my current wife. He must have loved the look of confusion on my face when I blurted out, “so you're not gay?” He laughed and said I thought you might be thinking that. Imagine me being annoyed setting up the romance suite and a woman shows up with a man and ruins it. I thought I'd wasted all my hard work for a hetero couple when I was trying to impress the gay couple.  Whatever! They will be forever known as the gay couple in my books and at least I was the entertainment.

Yesterday’s guests worked a trade show and came in at 10pm after already having spent a night here and they apologized for the late hour but really it was nothing because I rarely get to bed before midnight and more importantly, some other guests were coming from Toronto and arriving at 2 a.m. They thoughtfully requested a self-check in so I could go to sleep early but nope can't do that.  Cathy the micromanager- I must know who's in my house at all times, get a feel for them to protect the others so after they arrived, I could go to sleep and then four and a half hours later get up again to start the day for the early morning breakfast departures; no rest for the wicked. 

I realized, a few days ago, when I looked up the last of my bookings on the old school index cards that there were no more official bookings for the year. Now that should have scared me but it doesn't because it’s the end of the season, I’m pooped, and more importantly, after four years of being in business, I realize that I'm not a destination; I'm a last-minute booking place and October always ends up being very busy. Well before I could get that thought out of my head I had received another booking and another and another. I'm now booked into the New Year, and throwing a family the best ever Christmas stay they will not find anywhere else on the planet.  I do love Christmas and that’s good because we got snow today and I’m fighting the urge to decorate.
If the season truly ends, I might just sleep for a few months to get caught up… no wait.  That isn’t true.  I’m going to see my 1 ½ year old identical female twin grand

 -monsters in Australia soon and I think they are going to kick my butt.  I’ve never been around them for longer than a few hours; they bite and scream and run everywhere and really don’t verbalize more than a few words. I don't know which Sybil I am going to get...happy Harry Potter girls or crying tazmanian devils.  Poor Granny is not going to get her daily naps. I remember when they were tiny babies and just pawns in my photo sessions.

I must post and run.  More musing to come now that things are coming to a snail’s pace. Thanks for coming out.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Diner en Blanc Ottawa and the Excitement of this Orleans Bed and Breakfast Owner attending

Well,  I knocked another bucket list item off this weekend past. A year ago I heard about this concept called Diner on Blanc and it seemed very unique so I happily gave them my name. Apparently I signed up in the year that they decided not to hold it. The previous year 2016, they had 700 people and this year they had 200 so when they contacted me this year I was excited. I tried to sign up but you have to have a date for this;  male or female. I started asking around but everyone I know on the planet was busy.  And word to the wise, if you tell someone you are inviting, you will inevitably get a "Oh, so I was the last person on earth, was I?"  You don't make that mistake more than 8 times.   I resigned myself that I wasn't going and then I remembered one more person she said yes, yay!   I signed up and found out registration was now closed.  Nooooooooooo!  After writing a whiny, begging letter inquiring if they could open up a few more seats, it worked and we got in!!!

Now, most people had prepaid, pre-ordered their wine, pre-ordered their catered picnic baskets, their tables and chairs months in advance so they could just walk on the site. When you get in at the very last second you have to plan everything and of course,  everything must be white and you are the pack mule to lug all your uncoordinated furniture and dishes. They also have another stipulation no plastic no paper no colors. Do you have any idea how difficult that is to abide by. The food can be any color thankfully but to bring things in they have to be in a fully glass container or all white which is near impossible to find without having to spend money. We took a chance and deviated a bit praying they would not publicly shame, tar and feather us and vote us loudly off the island of this secret location.

Everyone dresses entirely in pure white, no colored bling accessories allowed. Most people I know don't own an entire white outfit with white shoes, white hair pieces, white jewelry unless maybe it was covered in sparkle from their disco days and they would have fit in marvelously had they had the foresight to keep their outfit and still be able to fit in it.  Normally I would have all white but alas the dryer has shrunk most everything I own. A few trips to Value Village and Salvation Army pulled together an outfit on the day of departure. Of course now I've added another job to do my laundry and ironing before leaving because everyone knows, you must wash 2nd hand clothes first. So much to do on D day. 
I dressed suspiciously like a man with a fedora- story of my life. It seemed like a really good idea at the time.  Every Halloween and dress-up party, I always leave saying never again will I dress like that. Every woman that went looked glamorous dressed in their beautiful white dresses and hair clips and high heels and there's clumpy old Cathy with a unisex hat and flowing white masculine over shirt.  Why on earth hasn't anyone recommended me for a fashion disaster reality show??????
Oh, and I had overnight guests whom I had to prepare their welcome snacks and clean the bathrooms and the bedrooms and vacuumed all the floors, you know usual stuff that the rest of you do every single day of your lives when you're selling your house. Luckily they wanted to arrive early but did not make it until 1:30 which was my departure time. More rushing.
While preparing for guests, I also needed to whip together a fancy little shindig of food. Couldn't find a white picnic basket and did not want to spray paint my wicker one so I found a huge white purse that was perfect. 

Shhhh we needed to bring booze but it's not allowed so we used alternative bottling and nobody cared. The only thing they cared about when I arrived was that I have a small glass liquor bottle that says vodka on it and I use it for my water. It's ironic and I like to bring that to church and drink from it as well. They asked me to put that one away in case the liquor board crashed their event.

So my friend Mariette and I drove to the meeting location point in Orleans for our group to board the school bus to a secret location which we placed bets about on the bus; possibly Lansdown, Victoria Island, National Gallery and The War Museum. The bus took us to the Rideau Falls, so we were all wrong and we set up to have a secret party.

On arrival we realize we be sitting almost overlooking the falls, near the Ottawa River perfect view of the sunset and around the corner from the finale of the casino fireworks - a perfect night no doubt- all glamorously formal.  

Set everything up and realize I'm painfully unprepared for the event. Where we packed a single white plate and silverware others packed multi-layered plates twinkle lights high above their table centerpieces with Christmas lights, multi-tiered order platters full with desserts and snacks and Main Course. Absolutely gorgeous. 

Cameras flashing, videos taken, napkins swirling commenced the beginning of the meal. 

We sat at a table of about 10 or 11 people. I jokingly commented at the perhaps Lebanese threesome who had a feast in front of them how lovely everything looked and they had enough to share for the entire group so she stood up and started sharing with the entire group.                                                     How embarrassing and                                                             delicious. 
The couple beside me, it turns out, participated in some social events that I had attended and we were both intimately aware of all the circumstances and how we probably almost met each other a hundred times...such a small world.  There were some lively comedians in the group and I suspect if we had spent more time together we would have realized we had a lot in common. 

There was dancing, mostly women. I was surprised how many women attended this event with a female partner. What a great place for a romantic night out though if you don't mind people sitting one inch from you.

We briefly viewed from the second floor of the Rideau Falls and Terrace until they kicked us off but that would have been a spectacular place to view the fireworks.

 We scored one of the best locations in the house overlooking the Ottawa River and waiting patiently for the fireworks.  Suddenly, I saw a tiny flash and realized we were missing the show.  You could only see it by the falls so there was a mass exodus and we attempted to watch the partially obstructed view.  

What a lovely evening it was, simply magical, wish you had been there.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Battling the beasts - Raccoons and Japanese Beetles in my Organic Garden at Spoiled Rotten Bed and Breakfast

Awesome way to start the day, standing here in my bathrobe, not at the spa but rather in my backyard collecting my Harvest.

I've got spaghetti squash growing All Over The Back
Fence, hanging like living growing (albeit ugly) artwork
waiting to be groomed or picked.

Would show you grapes but the family of three raccoons are very well fed off of them those rat bastards. And lately, every morning I have to go out and flip over the sod that they have rearranged when they are looking for bugs. My grass just cannot grow like this abomination and it was doing so well with three layers of sod upon the other. Really. Damn varmints saw it as a triple layer of hors d'oeuvres on a platter. When I sit at my table late at night, and I look outside and see the white twinkle lights jumping up and down in the trees, I know I have visitors and it's time to read them the riot act until these unwelcome squatters vacate the premises. They refuse to read the eviction notice and I know they have no intention of paying rent. They might as well be teenagers, eating all my food, refusing to work, and threatening me when I tell them to shove off but even with their dangerously long claws, I'd probably rather wrestle a raccoon than an ornery teen.

And don't get me started on the Japanese Beetle who has been eating my grape plant out of house and home. They have skeletonized all the leaves so the raccoons can easily see the fruit. I originally made a spray to kill the bugs and stomped them until I learned they send out a pheremone when killed to call others to come visit. Now I start every day with a ziplock baggie and pop the monsters, who are usually having group sex and way more than I am, into the bag while they luxuriate or are furiously doing their business and too occupied to see me coming at them. Victory!

Every year I buy too many tomatoes and now I've got 18 tomato plants and they are beautiful.
It's always so nice starting the day with vegetables fresh from the garden and herbs. Yesterday I was cleaning a tomato and I started looking for the tag from the store and all of a sudden I realized oh man, these babies are fresh from the garden, and don't come with a sticker. 

Salsa is my favourite thing to make.  My tomatoes are all coming ripe and I gathered up a bunch of them and made a fresh salsa for my newly arriving guests. I put it on the table first day but no one ate it.  Tried again the second day; nothing touched.   I mentioned it to them before they left and one of them admitted they didn't want to use it cuz it hadn't been opened yet.  I groaned and said I have 35 bottles in the fridge that I just made for you guys so I sent them on their way with some. Note to self, always open the bottle first. The previous group a day earlier, not only opened the med large jar but sucked it dry.

I've also become a menace to myself and any who eat here, but more so than most times. My first foraging in the forest for edible weeds workshop gave me some knowledge, enough to make me dangerous. I took copious notes until he said Queen Anne's lace looks remarkably like Wild Parsnip which will cause you to break out in boils and pus, burst into flames and probably die. Decided not to take the chance, and tuned out, skipped all that information and want my money back for that lost 5 minutes.

The follow-up class with another instructor was foraging on a farm for medicinal and edible weeds. Now I have more clarity from repetition that all the 6' grass and everything I'm chopping down with my push lawn mower once a month is edible and I'm told it's good for the bees. Can't wait to make a weed salad and not the medicinal weed that's becoming legal soon.

Can you believe how many apple are growing on this five in one tree?  I wish I had a yard full of multiple grafted trees with fruit like lemons and oranges.  Such a conversation piece.  And the raccoons love them.  Hmmmm.  

Just googled recipes for raccoon and holy raccoon,  there are tons.  Brined Bandit and Sweet Potatoes, Cooking 'Coon, Crock Pot Raccoons, Roast Raccoon with Stuffing. It's kind of making me gag but oh I wish they could read this post/threat. They would be sure to run for the hills.  

As an afterthought, for all you menopausal women out there who haven't left your homes because of the heat, You're welcome.  It always happens.  I persevere with the warm nights in the Romance suite and the guests all just say, no it's fine, don't worry.  Finally, I can't take it anymore and I install the window a/c unit and then the nights turn cold and the days cool. I'm thinking of removing it but then, you know what will happen then...more global warming.    

Friday, 20 July 2018

WHAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? Nudity, Body Image and Living a Fearless Life

My mind was blown in both Ottawa and Niagara falls  recently. Just came back from Welland ...caught the 6 a.m. sun rise in Oakville while the city was still sleeping and and I'd never felt happier, even with very little sleep. This was my second women empowerment One Woman Summit weekend in a few months and I mostly flew the car back. 

It all began a few months ago on Facebook when I saw an ad for a women empowerment seminar in Ottawa for a full day, dirt cheap. They're talking my language. A full day of listening to inspirational women doing Ted Talks  for 20 minutes each. Because of the nature of my business and the name Spoiled Rotten I end up giving way too much of myself to make everybody else's vacations perfect. I really don't do much for myself so I jumped at the chance and signed up and was very excited. 

Then I scrolled down further and saw that they were asking for speakers. My heart stopped and skipped with excitement at the same time. I'm always talking to people about their bucket list and always doing something that scares them everyday and I knew this is something that I had to do. I know I have a message to give. So I approached the organizer and told her I was interested but there were no more spots and Ottawa, only in Niagara Falls on July 7th. My friend said let's make a road trip and go together. It's always my new friends getting me in trouble and then backing out, those darn hags. So then the organizer sent me a link and I realized I was getting paid $500 for this; woohoo that was awesome news but then when I read it more closely it said I had to pay $500. What the hell. So I read up on it and found out it was an Oprah initiative sponsored by one of her mentorees to raise money for grandmas and young girls over and Africa.  Okay, okay it's a fundraiser. I was big time on the fence and my friend Joanne said what is your gut telling you? Are you disappointed that you're not going and I was, so I said I'm going to do it.

Cathy Boretski

What is On Your Bucket List?

Owner - Spoiled Rotten B&B 

I'm glad I had an extra two months to prepare my speech which was written years ago. I practiced it at nauseam but only recently gave it publicly to a close friend Claire and then to her and another bestie Louise and they were so supportive. Finally I took the plunge on my way to Niagara Falls and gave it to my drunken hillbilly family at our reunion enroute. They had told me that 20 minutes was a lifetime to sit quietly, they talked all the way through it, heckled me, interrupted me constantly and told me their own stories throughout my speech, and in the end they finally listened and said they enjoyed it, or as you can see in this photo, they were just to loaded to care.
Have you ever seen a more captive audience?  They look thrilled!
Practice it a few more thousand times on the way but was still so very nervous on the day. 

I stayed in the most wonderful Airbnb in Welland with Catherine and Nancy. After that long of a day, 11 hours of driving, they served me a free supper, offered me booze, gave me the run of their medieval mansion. It was heaven; they even had a pool. 

Went to the trade show at    Odarkhundred, got the best table and set up. Now I am not into aesthetics and everything looking pretty. As an afterthought I pulled out a wrinkled old sheet full of jewelry from under my couch that ended up being my table cloth. Wasn't sure why but I knew there would be a reason so I laid out all the jewelry from my friend; it's always a good draw for other women who like bling like me. I only had my ugly outdated house pictures that I forgot to update- what a missed opportunity since I have so many new renovations at the bed and breakfast. 

Years ago I gave away one night stays like candy and nobody ever took me up on it but recently they did and it was a year out of date on the expiry and it wasn't even the person who won the prize and bloody hell, it included a massage.  WTH was I smoking?  So I decided not to give away a room this time. I gave away the bed of nails for aloonie an entry. They loved it. I also did my standard free massages while I talked up the bed and breakfast.
These trade shows attract a lot of Lifestyle coaches who have books.   They're very good at it and their displays are exquisite. Not me- I look like I was having a wrinkled old garage sale. The lady on one side of me is an event planner and she had chiffon and frames and color matching and gifts wrapped in purple, oh my. I was out of my league.
Nathalie on the other side had done all kinds of trade shows, had candy to give away, beautiful flowers- nope not me.  I looked like I should have had dump trucks of crappy yard sale items left over at the end of the day filling up my table. I gave away many many postcards for the bed and breakfast. Such a busy day and on the breaks the droves would come for massages,  for shopping at Cathy's, and  contest entries. I felt very blessed. The speeches were phenomenal from these women who have raised themselves up from nothing and created their perfect lives, manifesting their dreams. 

My time was coming and my stomach was getting heavier and more nervous. I really felt like I was going to be sick as always when I give small speeches at my church in the past; the only place I've ever given my speeches.  My heart was racing and it was at that moment that I said to the universe you got to help me here. I know I have a message to give and I know it's a good message but I need you to fill me with peace and clarity and be a good channel for the audience so that they can get the message they need. The moment came and peace entered me. It was magical. My eyesight isn't phenomenal so when I put my glasses on to read something I couldn't see the crowd very well anyway. They didn't need to know that . 

Surprisingly the PowerPoint clicker worked great when I remembered to press it. When I practice in my car a few million times nobody ever laughed. I was shocked with the response and I hadn't practiced pausing for laughter. When it was all over with, I knew it went well. In 8 weeks I will have my professional video.  No idea how to upload my amateur copy of 20 minutes but make no mistake, you will have to suffer thru that as well.

Back to the lobby to find my table and relax for the rest of the day. I could not have imagined what was to come next, it was beyond my wildest dreams. The women came out and surrounded me and thanked me and hugged me saying I changed their life. One woman told me her friends said "I hope she never stops talking". Others told me they couldn't stop crying and I was surprised because this is not a crying speech but I guess when you're at a point in your life or you're not living the life you should be,  hearing what you should do is an aha moment which I was thrilled to provide. I had one woman tell me that she is forever pushing the bucket list, which was my topic, on to her family and friends but she forgot to do one for herself.  

Another told me "that was wonderful -now where is the book? You could have sold a hundred books today if you had them. You wetted our appetite and we want more." Now I know book is in my future someday but I have no idea how to do it. It is my dream. Sure I do have one book that my daughter Christelle created for me out of all my traveling blogs but nobody would want to read that. Would they? One woman said "I just need to hug you for a very long time". I felt like she'd gone through a change in her life. Always so uplifting knowing that you're reaching women at the midlife crisis time in their lives after 40 where they know change has to happen. 

The last line of my speech was to make a joke, post a tasteful picture of me nude on the beach and say maybe one day you could join my adventure and we will paint nude together. And then I added, speak in front of a large audience, check... meaning it's off my bucket list. The women after said we don't understand what the last line of your speech meant. 'You didn't mean that this is the first time you've ever given to public speak did you?' I told them I'd only given talks at my church and they were shocked. And at that moment the organizer walked by and said loudly, "you should be giving speeches for a living". Oh my God that felt good because she's heard a lot of inspirational women speak. I'm really milking the speech that I made for my church 5 years ago after my pilgrimmage, aren't I?  

The last picture of my presentation was me nude on the beach. At my bed and breakfast that's one of the pictures on my travel wall that the male guests zero in on out of 30 on the wall. It's like they have a radar.   One of the only males in the audience wanted to talk only about one of my biggest topics of my speech; body awareness and being nude. 

I stayed till the very end cleaning up my garage sale when another speaker came by and said I really should have written a book. I confided I really have no idea how to do it.  All I have is blogs and she says put them all together and make your book-  it will sell! 

The universe is sending me so many messages that I should write a book that I'm thinking maybe I should. It makes my heart race with excitement. And who wouldn't want to have a house full of unsold books about herself to look at everyday? I can make furniture out of it and give them as thank-you and Christmas gifts like socks that nobody ever wants lol. 

Oh well it's all over with or just beginning not sure yet. I really do feel so blessed that I not only had the opportunity and saw the ad on Facebook but that for a change I actually followed my heart. I think good things are going to come out of the speech. 
One woman said don't change a word on that speech. There's a group that meets in Niagara Falls and I think you should come back and give that exact speech to them. Would you be interested? Hell I'm always interested to pay $500 to give a speech, who wouldn't be? This may be the first of many speeches around the world with Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. Oh, they will come, if we build it... and you talk about nudity.

Monday, 16 July 2018


Virtual Reality is not something you expect to experience at a B&B but then again, this is not your ordinary Bed and Breakfast. 

Most of my experiences are done standing up so this MUST be fake.  
I share my technology, my music on I-pod, cell phone (especially if they have an out of country sim card) and my virtual reality (VR). Now that is one hilarious sport to watch.

The first time I tried on VR glasses, I knew I HAD to have it for the B&B, no matter what. As a result of owning a pair, I have probably increased the sales of the VR headgear beyond what other marketing companies could ever hope to achieve. I should actually have bought shares because once you try it, you are hooked. I encourage the use of the virtual reality experience twice per guest; the first time for the feel good Introduction to VR, and the second time for the high adventure, Fear of Heights. The latter is so intense that when I did it the 2nd time, I had to lift up the glasses to see my red carpet and reassure myself I wasn't teetering over top of a wire at the top of a skyscraper.  Don't even thing of asking your guest to hold your hand while you bring them closer to your counter and away from a wall because they will scream and wail, "No I can't do it.  I will fall".  I now make people hang onto the back of a chair for their own safety. I know the game so well that I stand nearby and coach where to look for the optimal experience.  Spoiled Rotten is the place  where people go to die AND they walk away laughing.

The Logistics of Owning VR With Your Cell Phone:

The headgear comes in two types; one for an I-Phone and one for an Android.  I used to have an old phone, S5 but 'they' suggested I upgrade so when I did at the local big box store, as a reward they gave me $100 gift card.  The entire headset came to $45 for me altho it could have been cheaper because sometimes they give $200 cards.  I am thrifty so I downloaded the two free apps, Occulus and VR and in those apps, all the free ones where the ratings weren't too sad.  I haven't paid a cent more than $45 for hours and hours of fun and one day, I will find the courage to ask a child to teach me how to use it for more than two programs.  Recently, a guest commented that if I had a 360 camera for my family reunions, we could watch them on VR.  I am soooo tempted for $144.  

One of my favourite moments was encouraging a man to try it.  His company had just taken on a client with VR capabilities and his team was representing them, BUT NOONE ON HIS TEAM HAD NEVER USED VR BEFORE!!!  Can you imagine?  I let him play for as long as he wanted so he could at least talk intelligently about it.  That's just the kind of good Samaritan I am.  

The challenge with entertaining this way is that the headgear uses my cell phone so it's tied up whenever the whole group is trying it out and loving every minute of it and I'm getting behind on my emails. If a personal message comes in, they can see the subject line and that's a little unnerving.  On the upside, it's pretty hilarious to watch people diving and screaming and overly dramatic but of course I can't take their pictures because THEY HAVE MY PHONE!!!  Often the grown kids are hooked and want to do another one and another but I draw the line at two or I'd never find out what spam or urgent porn is anxiously awaiting my action.  

And this is one of the only pictures I will ever have sadly.

Sharing my phone is a pain but the laptop is worse. I live on my computer laptop but there are times when guests arrive with only mini tablets, older cell phones that they can't see because they've forgotten glasses or they hate small technology, like myself so I lend them my laptop for hours and hours and hours at a time; ok, it's probably just 20 minutes but it's sheer torture for me because I am just as addicted as they are to their media and emails. I am forever getting behind in my duties but it's always for a good cause, even if I get a little twitchy waiting for my turn. And no matter how much I'm crawling the walls, you will always get the same company line from me, "No, no, it's no problem at all. Take your time", as my head is bursting into feverish flames and I'm imagining throat punching them. Oh, the things us innkeepers do for you.  I'm just kidding, "It's no problem at all.  Take your time".