Dads, Books, Flowers, and Food

Summer came in with a rush over the past several days. Clear skies and heat! The poppies are nearing their first flush of blooms and what a run they've had. Bloom after bloom. I think I love the seed pods almost as much as the flowers themselves. I poke them into flower arrangements for a bit of architectural interest. 

Strawberries and thyme. I was talking with my younger daughter one day, via Skype, and she said she was making Honey Thyme Strawberry Jam. It sounded delicious, and there were another couple of pounds of strawberries just picked, so I made a batch. It's from Marisa McClellan who writes a blog and books about small-batch canning. The thyme flavour is very subtle, and I wonder if I didn't add enough. Perhaps the flavour will intensify over time. 

My reading stack. I've finished the bottom three and enjoyed them. Today, after the family left in mid-afternoon, I took Winter Garden out to the patio and read, lounging in the shade. Utter luxury. 

Today is Father…

Friday Five: Admiring the Morning

First, a caveat: This is a Friday 6, not 5. 

As I sat at the table this morning, the sky was cloudy and things looked a bit dull. I forked up my last bit of egg and avocado, and then - the sun burst through, and compelled me to go outside. I poured myself a mug of tea, slung my camera around my neck, and stepped out into the morning. 

Oh, what a morning! No noble lady strolling her vast estates could take more joy in seeing the day's delights than I in my little urban bit of garden. God's wonders are everywhere.

I notice the oregano will flower soon, so I'll cut it back tomorrow, drying the stalks on trays before stripping the leaves and storing them in jars. The bees enjoy the flowers so much, and I'll leave a patch of stalks for them. Blue campanula peeks from underneath the oregano.  

The Secret Roses smell wonderful and bloom repeatedly, although they are mottled this year, with splotches of odd colour. Perhaps they absorbed some of the peony colour blooming behind the…

June Days

It's 9:30 pm. There's still plenty of light in the sky, and the street lights have just come on. Birds have chirped their sleepy goodnights and the air is still. 

These days the garden grows almost visibly each day. Just now the strawberries are the stars of the potager. I've harvested at least 8 pounds already. It's a bumper crop in our area. We're enjoying them every day with our yogurt in the mornings. I made some strawberry preserves, froze several bags of them, concocted a fresh strawberry pie, and on Saturday we enjoyed a puffy oven pancake with mounds of fresh berries. 

For showiness, the poppies have taken over. Huge pom-pom like heads in grand profusion fill one corner of one of my vegetable beds. Two plants seeded themselves there and I let them be. There are others in the flower beds that haven't yet bloomed, so I'm looking forward to more of these beauties. 

I discovered that the poppies don't do well in cut arrangements. I put together a vase …

A Mountain Escape

About 10 days ago I read a text from Tim: "I have to go to a conference in Whistler. Can you come?"
My first reaction was "no," but then I thought about it, checked with my principal, who said, "certainly." 
So I arranged for a TOC and last Sunday, Tim and I took the 11 am ferry to the mainland and drove to Whistler. You might remember it as one of the main venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

It's in the most beautiful setting, in the heart of the Coast Mountains. The Sea to Sky drive showcases view after view of the ocean, snowcapped mountains, distant peaks, and more. I'm glad I wasn't the one at the wheel so I could just take in the scenery.

The above photo is the view from our room, overlooking the hotel garden and pools (not visible) and Whistler Blackcomb ski runs. 

Tim was in conference all day Monday, so I had the time to myself. What to do? I could swim and lounge by the pool, or wander through town, or go off exploring one of the many t…

Now in the Garden: Mosaic Monday

It's always a bit of a thrill when the garden begins producing. One evening this week I thought I'd go out with a small bowl and see how many ripe strawberries there might be. I ended up returning to the kitchen for a bigger bowl and filling it to the brim. Sweet and juicy strawberries are a great way to kick off almost-summer.

Then I pulled up a bunch of radishes. I got mine in late this year; usually they are the first thing to harvest. 

To go along with dinner last night I paired the radishes with cucumber, fresh snipped chives, and a simple dressing with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Crisp and delicious. Bring on summer food!

My potting bench needed a serious tidying up, so that was done this weekend. I cleaned up the paperwhites from Christmas (still in their glass containers), scrubbed pots, threw away old plastic pots, and swept off the bench. It looks much better now and is actually usable for potting, not just for throwing things onto. 

The stars of the …

Friday Five from the Garden

Sometimes, I actually get a project done. This driftwood planter is one of them. I saw the idea several years ago and thought it would make a nice addition to our garden. First, I had to find the driftwood. We picked up this piece on our trip to the north Island during spring break. Tim drilled and gouged it out recently, and I added dirt and succulents and oregano from my garden. It's sitting on the garden edging bricks for now, until I decide where it will fit best. 

On a fine summer evening I was inspired to get out a piece of watercolour paper and do a quick sketch of the bird bath. I've begun painting it, but haven't made much progress this past week. It's a pleasant way to while away an hour or two with the windows wide open to let the breeze drift in.

The peonies are in bloom. How I love them in all their ruffled elegance. Layer upon layer of soft petals. There's a vase full of them on the dining room table tonight. 

A view of one corner of the garden. Siberian…

On a May Long Weekend

We took a quick trip to the mainland. My parents recently moved from their home with a garden to maintain to a townhouse where someone else takes care of it. They didn't move far, from Chilliwack to Abbotsford, and now they are living where they first met, probably 65 years ago, or more. 

We spent Friday night with them, and Saturday, seeing where they volunteer at MCC (Mom with quilting and Dad with the thrift store). On Saturday night, after a good dinner cooked by Mom, we drove to Vancouver to spend the night and following day with Ashley and Owen, our Vancouver kids. 

Following church on Sunday we drove to Deep Cove and enjoyed a yummy brunch at The Village Table. Ashley and I had Eggs Benedict, with spinach, tomato and avocado - and we ate all of our platefuls. Tim and Owen had the Village Hash, also good. 

The weather vacillated between sun and clouds, warmth and a bit chilly from the wind. We warmed up considerably during a hike to Quarry Rock. Up through the forest, past tric…