Making the Most of October Days

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October." Nathaniel Hawthorne
We are in the midst of sunny days and cold, clear nights that hold the best of this month. These days are all the more precious for knowing that they will soon be replaced by rain and cold.  While chatting with two friends over tea today, we all agreed that we must make the most of this beautiful weather. For me, that means spending time outside when I get home from work. There's time for a walk in the sunshine before making dinner, or some puttering in the garden.  

The bird feeder is a popular place, and close to the window where our breakfast table sits. We find great entertainment in watching the comings and goings of our feathered friends. The goldfinches, not quite so golden now in the fall, feed alongside the house finches. But let a junco or towhee try to alight and the feathers fly! Above, it looks as t…

Five on Friday

1. October has shown herself quite changeable, but pleasantly so. A day or two of cloud and rain is followed by several days of clear skies where night time temperatures dip to several degrees above freezing and the sun warms the afternoons with golden light. Who can complain about that? 

In my garden, the dahlias, zinnias, roses, and marigolds continue to bloom prolifically. The fig tree leaves are paling, and drop yellow to the ground to soon curl and shrink into crispy brown clumps.  

Every few days I pick a couple of handfuls of fresh raspberries, so good with our morning yogurt. Kale and Swiss Chard are flourishing. 

2. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a family dinner on Sunday afternoon. Here the three littles are getting ready to eat their pie. When I appeared with the camera, they said, "Happy Thanksgiving" instead of "cheese." For some indecipherable reason, one said it with his eyes closed. 

3. Monday was drizzly and grey. We pulled on our rain gear and drove …

Down Memory Lane

For one year, in the mid-1990s, we lived in a rented house in Abbotsford that backed onto a park with a pond and walking trails. That year, my husband studied for his master's degree. 

This week I was in Abbotsford for a teacher's conference. Thursday was the perfect fall day: the bluest of skies, crisp air, glorious sunshine. Before returning to my parents' home (I chose to stay with them rather than in a hotel), I drove to Ellwood Park for a walk. 

As I walked, memories of that year came to the fore, memories both good and not-so-good. It was a good year, but tough in many ways.

Around the time we moved into the house, a young girl was murdered and another attacked. The attacker was not identified for most of the time we lived there. Our eldest daughter started high school and it was a huge adjustment from the small jungle school she'd previously attended. The entire town was on edge that fall, and I walked her through the park each day to where the path came out on the…

At the end of September

The end of September hangs suspended between seasons. One day the balance tips towards summer, the next, towards autumn. This past week has been gloriously summer-ish, with golden light and warm days. The garden shows the effect of waning sunlight and cool nights with burnished colour on leaves and flowers. The fig tree leaves fade to yellow and begin to fall. Dry oak leaves scuttle along the street, swirling up into the wind caused by passing vehicles. 

On Friday afternoon it was impossible to stay indoors. My grade 9 Spanish class begged to study outdoors. I promised them a short walk around the playing field if they would work at the beginning of the class. They agreed with alacrity. How lovely it was to be out in the sun with the students, watching them race ahead and fall back, reach up to pick a few remaining sweet blackberries from the bushes along the perimeter, laugh, and talk.

After class, I bought groceries and brought them home, then went out for a little walk. When Tim came…

Seasonal Eating - Friday Bliss

As the nights draw in and temperatures drop, all the salads and grilled dishes of summer lose their appeal and I long for the cozier foods of fall. 

Recently I made an apple crisp and served it, once again, with creme anglaise. I'm planning to make some Apple Pastry Bars soon, too, perhaps over the weekend. 

When my brother and sister-in-law were here in early September, I made Salted Caramel Pots de Creme from Laura Calder's Paris Express cookbook. Oh my. Rich and so good with that sprinkle of sea salt on top.

We're eating more soup again, hearty roasted vegetable soups like this Roasted Cauliflower Pear soup, and 

Roasted Tomato Soup. Oh how good the house smells! Do you save your chicken bones and carcasses to make broth? I make broth in my slow cooker, adding water to the roasted chicken carcass, plus a carrot, an onion, some celery leaves, parsley stems, peppercorns, a bay leaf, and salt. I leave it on low for 8 hours and a lovely clear broth results, which I freeze in qu…

A Puttery Day and a Special Visit

It's Saturday, I haven't gone anywhere, and it's perfectly lovely. The past three weekends have been full with guests, and/or going away. It was time to stay home and get some things done. 

One thing on my list still isn't done - picking the grapes. With the purple ones I'll make and can juice, and we'll eat the green ones. Both varieties are sweet and delicious. 

I went on a very special outing this week to meet up with two blogging friends. Honora of Pondside and I have visited several times; she lives in town, but Mary of A Breath of Fresh Air lives in North Carolina. She let us know that she would be in town and Honora made reservations for dinner at the Oak Bay Marina Restaurant.

How lovely it was to sit at a table overlooking the water and watch the lights on the boats begin to sparkle. Conversation was non-stop and we were some of the last people in the restaurant. Our husbands came along and their end of the table was lively, too. 

It's the first day of…

Visit to a Smaller Island

This pretty pot of petunias welcomed us to the home of our friends' parents, who offered 8 of us a weekend stay on Pender Island.

Their home is on the water, with a dock where we caught sweet Rock Crabs. Although the weather is feeling autumnish, we sat at the picnic table outside and cracked crabs without worrying about the mess. It was a great start to dinner. We all provided elements of the dinner so it wasn't a lot of work for any one person. 

My contribution was dessert - a maple-flavoured unbaked cheesecake with a ginger cookie crust and roasted pears on top. It's a light cheesecake, which was a good thing because we certainly had a sumptuous dinner to precede it.  

We did go for a hike before dinner. The weather alternated rain and cloud with sun and blue sky. From the top of Oak Bluff, the misty blue islands and silvery water of the Salish Sea look like something out of Tolkien, or C.S. Lewis' works. 

"Farewell we call to hearth and hall, Though wind may blow a…