Monday, June 30, 2008

Cold Avocado Soup

This is perfect for a hot summer evening. Cold and creamy with a hint of mint. I like to serve it in martini glasses (I've never actually had a martini - I tend to stick with wine, but I love the shape of the glasses.) This can be made ahead, in fact, it needs to chill for an hour or so. It's fast and delicious. I found the recipe in the June 2007 issue of Country Living magazine.

1/2 seedless cucumber, chopped
1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
1 shallot, chopped ( I used a slice of Vidalia onion)
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh mint (I use a lot less, just a few leaves)
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (I prefer it without)
1 cup cold water

Throw everything into a blender and process until smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve garnished with a sprig of mint.

Over at Kathy's Cottage, there's a summer recipe exchange. Hop on over and see what's cooking!
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Some of my favourite things...blogs

Roses are my favourite flower, but today I thought I'd share a few of my favourite blogs with you. These blogs inspire me for different reasons, but they all contribute to me spending a lot of time reading on line. This is by no means an exhaustive list...there is so much more inspiration out there.

Beth of Gathering Dust shares her love of buttons, vintage trims and making things with her hands. Collage, knitting, finding treasures in old boxes, Beth displays her creativity in many forms.

Dawn of The Feathered Nest has a beautiful blog where she shares her assemblages. She is an encourager, often providing links to new bloggers. Soft whites, creams, and coffee-coloured images are a trademark on her site. She is very generous about sharing images with her readers for their own creations.

Melissa at The Inspired Room writes thought-provoking posts about home decorating. And provides lots of photos to inspire. She's currently talking about Creative Concealment - those things we all do to cover up the imperfections we perceive in our homes.
"Creative Concealment: The act of camouflaging, hiding or disguising something that is ugly, distracting or unsightly with whatever creative means are necessary. This method requires far less money than resorting to the perfect solution, yet yields acceptable results that can be either temporary or permanent. "

At The House in the Woods, Britt-Arnhild shares her love of life, God and family with lyrical writing. She writes from Norway. Her beautiful photos make me really want to visit that part of the world.

There are more, so many more, but I'll save them for another day. Enjoy visiting!
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Queenly Thoughts

I made this card for a friend from Victoria (the magazine) forums. It features a copy of an image of Queen Victoria as a young girl. The quotation reads, "Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves."

Isn't that the truth? I know I often get flustered and caught up on miniscule things, things I need to learn to leave behind. When something major happens, what's important tends to come to the fore.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to Make a Handkerchief Pocket Pillow

In days gone by, everyone checked to make sure a hankie was tucked away in a pocket. This is a variation on the theme, but now the hankie has become the pocket.

Here's a quick tutorial on how to make a summery pillow. It takes no more than one hour, is easy and you need only basic sewing skills.

1. First of all, gather your supplies. You will need 2 squares of fabric (13 inches), one square of felt or quilt batting (13 inches), one handkerchief with a design in one corner, needle, thread, scissors, sewing machine (or you could do it by hand), and some pillow stuffing.

I used natural coloured linen, but a soft pastel would look lovely, too. Or a small print. You don't want it to be too busy because whatever you put into the pocket should be the focus.

2. Fold the hankie to make the pocket. First of all, fold it diagonally, right sides together.

Next, fold in one corner, about 1/3 of the way across the bottom,

and then the second corner.

Lastly, fold down the top layer of the handkerchief and voila, the embroidered corner is displayed front and center. Press to flatten the pocket.

3. Stitch the pocket to the pillow. I stitched it a couple of inches above the bottom of the square so that whatever you place into the pocket will be in the center of the pillow. Pin well, then

4. Handstitch the pocket to the pillow, using small stitches that hide in the folds of the pocket.

5. Layer the batting underneath the pillow front. This will ensure a smooth look to the front of the pillow. Lumps are not nice.

6. Place the back side of the pillow (the other 13 inch square) on top of the pillow top, right sides together. Sew around the pillow 1/2 inch from each edge, leaving a 5 inch opening on one side for turning. Pivot with the needle in the fabric at the corners. Turn pillow right side out.

7. Stuff the pillow. I use polyester batting. Make sure to get it evenly distributed, and tuck it well into the corners. You want a nice plump look.

8. Fold the seam allowances on the opening to the inside and pin closed. Slip stitch closed.

10. Add some fresh flowers to your pocket. Lavender is nice for a bedroom - very relaxing. The lavender will dry as it's not in water, but retains its scent. Other herbs would be equally pretty - a bunch of rosemary, even a single rose.

Or, tuck in a love letter, a bit of chocolate, tickets to a special event. It could be a pillow that makes its rounds throughout the house.

Enjoy! And if you make this pillow, send me a link to your photo!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Art Journal

I've always wanted to begin an art journal and Teresa's latest e-zine gave me the impetus to do just that. It's been a lot of fun, frustrating sometimes when a technique doesn't go the way I planned it to. I've been tempted to stop, but have pushed through and completed them and learned much in the process. And I'll use the techniques over and over. I tell myself, it doesn't have to be perfect, this is learning.
These particular pages are my favourites so far.

I love the blues and yellows. I was in a rather pensive mood when I did this - with a lot of things on my mind. And as I splashed paint, glued paper, wrote words and doodled, a sense of peace came to me and the feeling of being untangled. A lovely sensation.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Lavender and Linen

"best among the good plants for hot, sandy soils are the ever blessed lavender and rosemary, delicious old garden bushes that one can hardly dissociate." Miss Jekyll Home and Garden 1900

I clipped some lavender this morning and tied it up in a linen napkin with a bit of green velvet ribbon. Lying on the cabinet in the front hallway, a slight waft of its perfume rises as I climb the stairs. I'm not a huge fan of lavender scent - too much gives me a headache, but I think it so pretty I'll risk it.

In the winter it freshens the linen closet and I hope to make some sachets or lavender wands for that purpose. My favourite scent is that of roses, or lemons, how about you? How do you scent your home?
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Rose Syrup

I was entranced by Clarice at Storybook Words telling of how rose syrup makes her feel pampered. And I thought, how exotic - rose syrup! Then I read the directions on how to make and was even more entranced. It's so very easy! I started with this bowl of rose petals and followed Clarice's instructions. (Except I used about 6 cups of petals and 6 cups of water, 3 cups of sugar)

Today, this is what's sitting on my counter! I had some leftover that didn't fit into the jars. I'm going to make her Rhubarb Rose Fool this weekend. What a great idea!

I took a little taste and oh, what a flavour - the essence of roses!
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mantels and More

Kari and Kijsa are hosting a mantel open house! We all get to show what we're doing with that wonderful ledge above the fireplace. It's perfect for displays of all sorts.

For Christmas I use lots of greenery, candles, pine cones, and some paper cut trees made years ago.

In the fall I use a bit of orange and brown although they are nowhere in my decorating scheme. But natural things, like pumpkins and leaves, fit in everywhere. I change the artwork above the mantel to reflect the season as well. Sometimes it's hung, other times I like to prop up pictures. Our mantel is fairly high, so the space above it isn't expansive. Propping the pictures brings them down into the whole fireplace scheme of things.

And here's the current look. You'll notice that we painted out the dark blue. I was sad to see it go, but wanted more light for the summertime. In the winter it was cozy, but I like the light. I stacked a couple of paintings one in front of the other. Tall branches, trailing ivy and a bit of crystal provide a contrast in textures and shapes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Recipe and a Tag

I've been tagged by Barb of The French Elements. I love her subtitle: French is a state of mind.

For this tag, I'm to share 6 unimportant things about myself. Unimportant to whom, I ask? Well, probably to everyone but myself. So here goes...

But first the rules:

1. Link back to the person that tagged you.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Share 6 unimportant things about yourself.

4. Tag 4 people at the end of your entry.

6 Unimportant Things about Me

1. I like eating vegetables more than fruits. Zucchini, broccoli, salad greens, squash...mmm good.

2. I'm an extremely fast reader - I read an average-length novel in three to four hours, a thin paperback in less. That means stacks of books in my carryon when I travel long distances.

3. List making is one of my pleasures. Things to do, to create, lists of projects, recipes, gardening ideas, goals - I make lists constantly but don't always stick to them. I find listing making to be a creative exercise.

4. A recipe to me is just a guideline - I rarely follow them, unless I'm baking a cake.

5. I love summer and am not too crazy about spring - it's too capricious and I don't like cold wind. Autumn is better - the earth is still warm which makes the air warmer.

6. I prefer volcanic activity to earthquakes. Having lived in Ecuador, I've experienced both. Volcanoes usually give warning, earthquakes do not.

I'm not going to tag anyone in particular. If you want to share 6 unimportant things about yourself, I'd love to read them. But I'm always concerned about being a nuisance to other people, although I'm very pleased when tagged myself.

Now, the recipe...

Our spinach is nearly finished and the strawberries just beginning. While they overlap, I love making this salad. The flavours meld so beautifully.

Strawberry-Spinach Salad

Spinach leaves, washed, trimmed and sliced or torn
Fresh strawberries, washed and tops removed. Halve the berries.
Goat cheese (Chevre)
Freshly snipped chives

Amounts depend on how many people you want to serve. I make individual plates these days, placing first the spinach, then the berries, then crumble a little goat cheese on top. Sprinkle with chives after drizzling a little of the following dressing on top.

Raspberry-Poppy Seed Dressing

2 T raspberry vinegar (or use cider or champagne vinegar)
1 T sugar (if desired, I leave out)
1 tsp poppy seed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil

Whisk all together then drizzle over salad.

You can also add toasted almonds or pecans to this salad. The combination of the creamy goat cheese, sweet strawberries and crunchy spinach is one of life's little pleasures. Enjoy!
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Sail


Here's the skipper, aka Mr. Handyman Husband, with our eldest daughter and her husband. Mr. HH loves being out on the water, and the rest of us are happy to come along. A bit of wind gusted through and we put up the sails and moved along the water without engine noise. That is the very best part of boating.


We anchored near Sidney Spit and took the dinghy to shore. This is our son and his wife walking on the beach. Lovely sand, sun-sparkled ocean, and family...a near-perfect day. It would have been perfectly perfect had Ashley been with us, but she's having a wonderful time in Estonia.
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Friday, June 13, 2008



I started this skirt last summer and finished it yesterday. It took no time at all. Now I'm hopeful that since the sun is shining today things will begin to warm up! And everyone needs a pretty cotton skirt to wear in the sunshine!

I'm using my daughter's camera since I let her take mine to Europe. It's taking a little getting used to the different settings.

I'm off to water, apply organic fish fertilizer and enjoy the morning outdoors! (while running in and out changing laundry)
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Thursday, June 12, 2008


Those in the know say that spring/summer is about 4 weeks behind normal for this time of year. Roses are starting to bloom, irises are beautiful and I ate my first sweet juicy strawberry this morning while inspecting the garden. It was so good, nothing like commercial strawberries.

And the foxgloves are in bloom. Wandering around the yard with my mom over the weekend, she looked at them and told me that when she was a child, foxgloves grew wild on her parents' land. She and her sisters gathered the leaves, her mother dried them and then sent them off somewhere. Heart medicine was made from them. It was a way of earning a bit of cash.

I love hearing stories like this about my parents' childhood.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Filtered Sunlight

I'm having a rather slow week after finishing a big project. But my creative juices are beginning to flow again and I'm looking forward to creating an art journal along with others at Teresa's Write Time Write Place group. There's still plenty of time to sign up. I just did today as a reward to myself.

These flowers were given to Ashley on Saturday. I took photos of all her bouquets since she left the very next day and I'm the one getting to enjoy them. Today the sunlight isn't filtered, it's hidden by the drizzle.
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Monday, June 09, 2008

A Sweet Award

According to Arte Y Pico, the originator of the award, it is "dedicated to many who nourish and enrich the spirit and creativity. They see dedication, creativity, camaraderie, joy and above all, ART, much art. I wish that this prize is entertaining to all those bloggers and to bloggers who day by day share this space and enrich it a little more each day."

Christi gave me this lovely award. I'm honoured to have been chosen. Christi's charm and grace comes through in every word she writes and in her beautiful sketches. In return here are 5 blogs that I find inspiring - I could list so many more.

1. Karin at Creative Chaos has a blog chock full of inspiration - from beautiful projects and photos to humourous accounts of the mothering life.

2. Kari and Kijsa are two sisters with a double serving of creativity. Their blog is full of grace. Simple and elegant projects and photographs that help me treasure the beauty found everyday.

3. Natalea at Kandeland loves colour and shares her beautiful garden with us via exquisite photos. I met her through a flickr group and love her sense of style.

4. A French blog that I love is Esprit Champetre. Even if you can't read French, her images evoke the french joie de vivre. Flea market finds, beautiful architecture, flowers and more.

5. I don't know any of the Scandinavian languages but Min Lilla Veranda is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit for northern charm. I find the white on white tones used so lovely and fresh.

Please visit the above blogs and let me know what you think of them.

The rules for the award follow:

1) Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter the language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself. (I would like to add that as some don't do these kinds of things, so if you choose not to do this I will not be offended!)

4) The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico"blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

Rather tired...

after a celebratory week. On Wednesday Ashley's convocation was held, Thursday my parents arrived and on Saturday we held an open house to celebrate Ashley's accomplishment! So much fun!
I glued old maps to thin pieces of wood, applied quotations to the maps and clipped on photographs of the graduate with mini-clothespins. Propped on the mantel and tables, they were fun and added a personal touch. This photo is of Ashley and her father, also known as the Handyman Husband.

Ashley (right) and her friend Sheryl. Ashley has a Bachelor of Science in Linguistics and Sheryl a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics (with distinction). And now these two friends are off on a great adventure - a five-week trip to Estonia, Finland and Sweden. They are in the air over Canada as I write, my heart flying along behind them.

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And here's the traveler/graduate doing some last minute sewing (or unsewing) before leaving.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Party Day

It's an open house to celebrate Ashley's university degree (Bachelor of Science in Linguistics) and to wish her bon voyage for her trip to Europe - she leaves tomorrow.

The kitchen is filled with polka-dotted cupcakes, nanaimo bars, shortbread, cheeses, fruit and more - all of Ashley's favourites.

I received a lovely blog award this past week which I will tell you all about on Monday - things are really busy around here today - my parents are visiting so there's talking, laughter, shopping, cooking and all round fun!
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Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...