Thursday, October 19, 2017

October Cozy

A pale, lack-lustre sun is peeking through the clouds today, most welcome after some heavy rain. The morning is still rather dark and dreary, making candles seem like just the thing. Here's the view from my chair - with my slippers visible in the foreground. The fire (gas) just went out. Drat!

Here's a bit of what I've been reading. I finished Black Rabbit Hall last night and am so pleased that it had a happy ending. In Farleigh Field didn't disappoint. I chose How to Hygge from the library to read what all the hoopla about this "new" word was about. My son-in-law had read it (or one similar) and commented "that's what we already do." I agree. 

In Late Winter We Ate Pears was quickly paged through and is already back at the library. I spent more time with Clodagh's Irish Kitchen. I saw her on a television programme and was completely charmed by her accent. She has a series of short videos featuring seasonal recipes. You can access Clodagh's Youtube channel via this link.    

I've just begun Life of Elves and look forward to the Killara Farm book soon. 

I was going to write that autumn is a good season for reading, but then I realized that every season is good for reading. During the school year, I manage 4-6 books each month, and more during vacations. Do you enjoy reading?

The area where we live used to be a farm. I'm pretty certain that there was an orchard here, for here and there, a gnarled apple tree still stands. Most were cut down during subdivision development, I assume. There are also two quince trees, on private property. Several years ago, I picked one off the ground, not having a clue what it was. I kept waiting for it to ripen and soften; of course, it never did. I thought it was some sort of pear, and eventually threw it out. 

Then I read about quince! During a walk recently, I spied these two on the ground and picked them up. They've been on my kitchen windowsill for a week or so, and I think it's time to do something with them. I think I'll poach them. Do you cook with quince?

All the tomato plants have been pulled up and green tomatoes line the rest of the windowsill. I see this one is ripe and will be good in a tomato-avocado salad for dinner tonight.

The fire came on again as I write this post. Alas, it's time for me to leave it and head off to school. Although my classes are not until afternoon, I go in early to prep and mark. Today is The Great Shake-Out Drill - a region-wide earthquake drill. All schools take part, as do government facilities, hospitals, care homes, and more. So Tim will be involved, too. It's good to be prepared. I hope it's not pouring rain when we evacuate the school this morning. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Sunday Afternoon Walk to McKenzie Bight

It was far too nice a day to spend indoors. After church I put on my hiking boots, we grabbed a water bottle and few snacks and off we went. 
As we walked we discussed the meaning of the word "bight." He was right; I was wrong. 
A bight is a geographical term for a "slight bend or recess in a coastline or river. It typically indicates a large, open bay, often only slightly receding."  

Once we reached the water, we tried taking some photos with the delayed timer. I pushed the button, clambered down some rocks and up some more, trying to get to Tim's side within the 10 seconds. I've shared a couple of the attempts in the collage. We moved to an easier access point before claiming success.
It's high time to investigate a remote!

Such a pretty day. In the forest, we stood still and heard fir needles dropping like soft rain. A leaf let go and sashayed downwards, rustling when it touched a branch. There is still much green in the woods, and a definite feel of autumn crispness in the air. 

This is the kind of day that I wish would go on and on. As Anne of Green Gables says, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

October Moments

This week has been short, with Monday the Thanksgiving holiday, but busy with covering classes for another teacher. 

Rain fell this week, and temperatures are dropping. Late in the afternoon, however, golden light suffuses the garden as the sun slants low over the Sooke Hills beyond our home. 

Rich tawny shades dominate in one last burst of colour before the austere lines of bare branches are etched against the sky.

Something drew me to an upstairs window on Wednesday afternoon. A thin layer of mist covered the distant hills seen beyond our neighbours' roofs. A tree, aspen perhaps, glowed yellow. 


An enormous murder of crows rose up and swirled silently in circular patterns that spread from garden to garden including our own. The black crows spiraling upwards in the mist and the beacon of the yellow tree formed an unforgettable picture not captured by any camera.
At a time when the world aches with pain and despair, this moment of grace came as a gift from God, and I tucked it into my heart for safekeeping. 

The weekend is upon us. Some homekeeping is on the agenda, and a little cooking. Hopefully a long walk and reading by the fire. What are your plans? 

Monday, October 09, 2017

Thanksgiving in October

Eleven of us sat down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings yesterday. Although the holiday is technically Monday (the second Monday in October), we, like many families, have our big dinner on Sunday, followed by a relaxed Monday. 

I look at this photos and see the faces of some of the people I love so very much. For now, the little ones enjoy sitting at their own small table while the adults sit at the big table. I remember sitting at the children's table at family gatherings when I was growing up. Do you?

Did you notice the top right hand photo? That's Katie, our daughter-in-law. For this particular dinner, I set the food out in the kitchen and we served our plates from their and brought them to the table to eat. After dinner was mostly done, Katie was up checking on the little ones and stopped by the stuffing casserole on the way back to the dining room. She mentioned how much she enjoyed it. She ate it from the pan.  She was there long enough that I suggested she bring the whole thing to the table and sit down to enjoy it. So she did. And she posed very nicely for a photo. Much laughter ensued.   

On Friday evening, Owen and Ashley told us stories of their recent trip to Scotland, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. One thing they mentioned were the Cardamom Buns eaten with coffee in Stockholm. I had just read the How to Hygge book and remembered a recipe for the buns. Ashley suggested we make some, so we did. We used another recipe found on the internet. Baking time was tricky; some were slightly overbaked, but still delicious. Forming the dough was also tricky. 

My children wonder what has happened to their mother. I have never liked the colour orange. I tolerate it in marigolds, planted among the vegetables, never in the flower beds. Pumpkins are okay. So there was great teasing when they noticed two orange velvet cushions on the couches. What can I say? They suit the season and I'm okay with them, for now, although I get a little twitchy if I really look at them. I stitched the covers and they can easily be zipped off and replaced. 

Lovely October. Crisp nights, a bit of rain, lots of sunshine. Plenty of laughter. My favourite month.

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.  

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Just Before Thanksgiving

Sometimes, weeks don't turn out as planned. Each year, on the two school days before Canadian Thanksgiving, our school gives the students time off while the teachers go to a conference. It's a great time of learning (for the teachers) and having fun together. 

On Monday night, I came down with a sore throat that turned into a cold. So, no conference for me. I stayed home. By Friday I was feeling much better and rather wished I had gone. My colleagues were happy for me to NOT share my germs, however. 

I rescued some flowers from the garden from an impending rain and windstorm. Those white roses, Winchester Cathedral, have wicked thorns and I plunked them down onto the table without much fuss. 

I gingerly separated this one bloom from the bunch and posed it for its portrait. Such a pretty, fragrant flower. 

This basket of tomatoes and squash were also rescued. We've been eating the little Millionaire tomatoes like candy, for they are so sweet. The bigger tomatoes were cut in half, sprinkled with chopped onion, fresh thyme and oregano, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted until the house smelled like an Italian restaurant, redolent with flavour. 

Our Vancouver kids arrived last night for the holiday weekend, and I made the effort to prepare a special breakfast. A fresh corn tortilla, lightly crisped, topped with sauteed onions and sweet peppers, topped with guacamole, one of those luscious roasted tomatoes, and a fried egg. A few sprinkles of Cheddar cheese finished it all off. Very filling and very delicious (patting myself on the back just a little).  

On the mantel a cheery vase of hydrangeas and sunflowers seem apropos to the season. 

Dinner preparations are what's happening around here today - turkey, savoury stuffing, crumb-topped sweet potatoes, and more. We'll gather tomorrow with our children and grandchildren. Truly, we have much to be thankful for. 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

October is Here!

Welcome, October, my favourite month of the year. September hovers between summer and autumn. October sees true autumn: shortened cool days; brisk, even frosty nights; alternating sunshine and rain.

The dahlias still bloom prolifically. Every few days I clip another small vaseful. I can see them growing from my kitchen window and admire them at every stage.   

It's time to light candles and focus on home. Saturday I puttered about the house all day, making things sparkle for the beginning of this season. 

I washed the downstairs windows and cleaned the grime from the sliding tracks. Has someone invented an efficient way to clean these? A cloth and a knife for getting into those 90 degree angles are what I use. My few silver pieces gleam; baseboards are dusted, and the house seems to sigh in contentment.

We walked around the Bog this afternoon. Clouds teased us with their forays across the sun, but no rain fell. Hawthorne trees are rich with berries. The Bog is mostly dry, awaiting rain. 

A few trees, very few, show signs of colour. As these 31 days pass, more and more colour will appear and leaves will drop to the ground - perfect for scuffling.

After returning home I set myself up in the kitchen and made a big batch of pastry dough. Two unbaked pie shells rest in the freezer, ready for next weekend's Thanksgiving (Canadian) pumpkin pies, a Spiced Plum Pie will head there as soon as it's completely cool, and the dozen apple hand pies are diminished to less than half. For tonight's supper I used more pastry for a Tomato Pie, full of cheese and herbs.

Here's a link to the Tomato Pie recipe, on my other blog. I didn't use the pastry in that recipe as I'd made a big batch of regular pastry. I have to say that the one that goes with this recipe gives a richer flavour to the savoury pie. Also, I substituted the cheese I had on hand. The key is to letting those tomatoes drain for at least an hour. 

This was a lovely weekend. I'm left feeling rested and satisfied, and ready for the week ahead. 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Last Summer Day

Here we are, almost to the end of September, and summer lingers. Shimmering days of warmth that cool to "pull up a blanket" nights create some of the most perfect weather imaginable.

I've picked raspberries twice this week, probably a pint each time, and today I gathered another handful. This is luxury. 

Tomatoes that just won't quit. I hate to say I'm getting tired of them, for in a month or so they will be mere memory. So I pick and roast and freeze against the dark chilly wet that will soon be upon us. 

The roses don't seem to have any inkling about the cold front that is moving in tonight. Growth abounds and I fear that their promise will be nipped in the bud, so to speak.

Today was so lovely I could hardly bear to be indoors. Since we are learning about activities we like to do in Spanish class, I asked them if they would like to go for a walk. Of course, they did! And so we spent 15 minutes walking around the block, enjoying this last summer day. 

Echinacea opens, a stalwart perennial that I planted a mere month ago. I bought one white and two purple and hope to have masses of blooms late next summer.

We celebrated two of the family's three birthday celebrations last weekend. I brought a tray of stuffed jalapeno peppers - pepper poppers. They are a treat most of the family enjoys. A bit fussy to prepare, but gobbled down in a hurry. It's always a bit of a gamble to eat them, for jalapeno's heat is highly variable, and there's no way to know until it's in your mouth.

There's been some reading, as well. Louise Penny's latest Inspector Gamache mystery Glass Houses, as well as the stack above. The Susan Wittig Albert stories are gentle mysteries set in England's Lake District, featuring Beatrix Potter! The historical timeline is correct, but the events and other people in the books are fiction. Even the animals play a part in solving the mysteries. I enjoyed reading Luard's book mostly for the essays written about each month of the year. 

I mentioned a Grilled Kale salad a few weeks ago and some asked for the recipe. I used this recipe for the grilled kale, but then added nectarines and goat cheese instead of the plums and ricotta, because that's what I had on hand. The dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a bit of honey, and fresh thyme was delicious.  Now I have a bag of plums in the fridge, so perhaps a plum version is next. 

The garden beckoned when I returned home this afternoon and I followed its siren call with my camera. The bees were busy, busy among the flowers, especially the oregano. 

Tomorrow, they who watch these things say, clouds and rain will prevail. It's best to enjoy the weather that comes along, for we really can't do much to change it. So out will come the cozy sweaters and blankets, and there will be tea and chocolate in the evenings, along with a lighted candle for cheer.