Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blue and Yellow

About a month ago we had some friends in for dinner. I served a rustic sort of meal (menu below) and decided to set the table very simply. No tablecloth or placemats, just lovely, gleaming wood. (My husband made the dining table about 23 years ago.) I used alternating blue and yellow plates and then patterned pasta plates on top. I bought the napkins in Avignon a couple of years ago.

There were four votive candles casting a warm glow, and in the center a simple jug from Spain held fresh sage and rosemary.


Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter and Crispy Leek Rings

Mixed Greens with a Pancetta and Dried Cherry Dressing, topped with a warmed goat cheese round

Chicken Marbella
Brown Rice
Roasted Asparagus

Frozen Lemon Souffle with Whipped Cream and Candied Lemon Rind (brought by one of our friends)

For more wonderful tablesettings, check out Between Naps on the Porch.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fun with Letters

I signed up for another of Teresa McFayden's wonderful crafting ezines. But I've not had much time to do any of the projects. When I'm not studying I am housecleaning or cooking or running around doing errands. Lately, however, I notice that I sleep MUCH better when I quit the books in the early evening and do something relaxing - like knitting or creating something with my hands.

This is what I made the other night - letters that will decorate gifts or perhaps form words to put up someplace visible to inspire me. I just love the times I can spend at my desk puttering away at a project, while my husband reads or works or plays on the computer alongside me.

We find less and less worth watching on the television and prefer to spend time doing something else. Movies, definitely, but television - nah. That said, Sarah Richardson is on tonight and I hope I don't forget to watch her wonderful design show.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Just Doing It

Do you ever over-think something? I've had this idea for oh, about a year now, and I keep wondering if I should do it. Will it look the way I want it to look? Will it take too much time? Will people (my husband, my children) think this is really silly? And so, the idea has stayed in my mind. It's nothing big, really...

Today, I decided, "Enough!" Just do it! And I did. It took less than 45 minutes by the time I pulled everything out of the china cabinet, put up sheets of old music with doublesided tape, and put the china and crystal back. One year of thinking, 45 minutes of doing. How crazy is that?

And I love it - for now. But I also know that one day I might want to change it again. And you can be sure that I'm not going to take a year to think about it.
A year! Sheesh!

For more quick ways to liven up your decor visit Melissa at The Inspired Room. Lots of creative minds have linked to the site with wonderful projects. Don't wait. Don't procrastinate. Just do it now!
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pretty in Pink

Tulips! One of my favourite spring flowers. These are from the store as no tulips are in bloom here. I bought these for our Valentine table last week and they've brightened my spirits with their cheery pink and yellow and green sweetness.

I've had a productive week so far - finished two novels, one in French and one in English, submitted a French essay and also a translation exercise. I was feeling so pleased with myself and envisioned getting lots more done today. 11:00 am appointment that took until 1:30 broke up my day. I did a little studying this morning but this afternoon has been MOST unproductive. And the sun shining through my living room window makes me just want to curl up like a kitten there and soak it all in.

Maybe I'll take some reading material down to the spot of warmth and accomplish two things at once!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Banana Bread

Three bananas were going brown on my counter today. So this evening I made some banana bread. Tim and I each had a slice with some butter while it was still warm. Mmm good. And oh, so easy. And isn't the cutting board pretty? My son-in-law made it and gave it to me for my birthday last October.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (about 3 medium) ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional - and I leave out)

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Blend in mashed bananas.

Stir flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt and nuts (if using). Add to banana mixture, stirring only to moisten. Transfer to greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 12 x 7 cm) greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees (180 C) for about 1 hour, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on cake rack to cool. Wrap to store. Yields: 1 loaf.

**You can add 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips for a different flavour.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oooh la la, a tag!

The Beautiful Miss Bella of BellaMcBride tagged me. I was to go to the 6th folder on my computer, choose the 6th photo, post it and write about it. What fun!

This is a picture of my most handsome husband in Paris, taken two years ago in June. We had just arrived and went for a long long walk to get the "jammed in an airplane seat for 8 hours" kinks out of our bodies, and to try and stay awake until the Parisiens went to bed...or until 9:00 pm. We stayed at a little family hotel in the Marais district and wandered over to the Place des Vosges. This was taken in that general vicinity.

I loved the architecture. Those smooth, slate roofs, the tall, symmetrical windows and the graceful, stone arches lured my eyes to dart here and there, taking in as much as I could. I wished I didn't have to sleep - there was so much to see and do.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you would like to share a photo (6th folder, 6th photo), please let me know and I'll come on over and take a look.

For now, I'm going to take a trip down memory lane via that folder and look at ALL the pictures from that wonderful, wonderful trip!
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Greeny Blue Sea

Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.

Isaiah 42:10
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

West Coast Postcard

Sunday afternoon was mild - not warm, but at least the bitter wind had settled down. We took our visitors out to East Sooke Park - one of my favourite places. Forest, ocean, rocky and sandy beaches - it's all here and all beautiful.

Waves rush up onto the sand and leave undulating patterns of dark and light as they retreat. White foamy edges. Tumbling rocks. Rushing sounds of incoming and outgoing water, a never ending advance and retreat.

Ghostly moss hanging from arbutus (madrona) trees. The native name for these trees is the "crazy lady tree" - so called because they shed their bark in the winter, and everyone knows that only a crazy lady would do such a thing!

A visual poem of green, brown and texture, each melting into the next.

Glistening rocks, vivid in colour, washed smooth by incessant tumbling play in ocean waves.

And keeping the flavour of postcard custom, I'll close with "wish you were here."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine Tablescape

Susan, over at Between Naps on the Porch is hosting Thursday Tablescapes. Since Valentine's Day is coming up I dug up this photograph from a couple of years ago. My daughter helped me move a small round table to the living room, in front of the fireplace. I bought some shimmery organza in this large plaid design of pinks and reds. I used some of it for the tablecloth and some as big sashes tied around linen napkins. An empty sash is in the photo. My Lavender Rose china and wedding crystal sparkled in the firelight, and a vase of pretty pink flowers added the final touch. Oh, and a few cinnamon hearts sprinkled over the table top.

I'm still working on what I'll be doing this year.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Busy Days

We've had a fun weekend with visiting family. Lots of food, laughter and good talks. The weather has been chilly - a cold wind is blowing off the ocean.

This morning I wrote another exam. Whew! I'm glad that one's done. And to celebrate - I'm not going to study for the rest of the day. Instead I have a new Marie Claire Idees magazine that I'm going to peruse while lying indolently on the couch with a bit of dark chocolate at hand.

But before I do that I wanted to do this short post. I've always wanted a clothespin bag - it seems like such a homey thing. I don't have an outdoor clothesline yet, but hope to...our yard isn't very conducive to one. But I have a bag ready for the day. And I do use clothespins indoors as well. I used up some scraps, did some fiddling around with fabric and topped it with a vintage millinery flower.

Now I'm off to read and get some more ideas.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Beautiful Blogs

Nathalie gave me this beautiful blog award. I am honoured to be included in her list. Thank you so much, Nathalie. There are so many wonderful bloggers out there - through blogging I've found a community of like-minded women who love creating with their hands and beautifying their corner of the world.

I'm always hesitant to give awards. I hate leaving people out, and I don't want anyone to feel she must respond to the blogging award. But here is a list of some of my favourite blogs - the ones I go to regularly. There are many, many more wonderful blogs out there.

1. I've been a fan of Charlotte's lifestyle and art since finding her books Between Friends: Craft Projects to Share, and Mothers and Daughters at Home: 35 Projects to Make Together. Her gentle nature and love of home shine through her art and her writing.

2. Lili and I live in the same province. As a violin teacher, quilter and crafter, Lili writes about her daily life. I love the way she gives snippets of information about her projects, tantalizing her readers with pictures until, at last, one day, the final project is revealed. This is a good lesson for me - being willing to share about the process and not just the product. In the process creativity is enhanced and is able to grow.

3. I first "met" Natalea while doing one of Teresa McFayden's fabulous e-zines. Natalea's art is gorgeous and her blog is filled with her creations. I especially enjoy her journaling pages.

4. Cupid's Charm is the name of Joy's beautiful blog. She designs and makes jewelry that anyone would be proud to wear. She's recently brought out a line designed around the extravagantly beautiful Marie Antoinette. Eye candy galore.

5. Niki writes her blog from England. I love the name - Nostalgia at the Stone House. She sews and crafts beautiful items, all with a delightful English flavour.

6. When I found Teresa McFayden's blog about a year and a half ago, it was as if a light bulb went off inside my head. Here was this woman playing with glue and paper, lace and thread, and letting her creativity burst out through her art. I was jealous, then I was inspired and thought, why not? Who really cares what I make or how I make it? And so I've begun playing too, and having a ball!

7. Rebecca Sower is another artist who inspires me. Her quiet and gentle spirit is oh, so present in her work. She creates beautiful pictures with needle, thread and heart.

This has been a blog post filled with words like "beautiful, inspiring, creativity." I encourage you to check out these blogs and read words from the hearts of their creators. You, too, will be inspired.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hearts and Flowers

Here are a few Valentines I made recently, using stuff I have on hand. Old (not vintage) book pages, bits of scrapbooking and tissue paper, little lace flowers, ribbons and wire. Easy and fun.

I'm preparing for another exam next week, and it's a doozy. Intro to Canadian Literature and I have over 100 hundred poems of which small excerpts could show up requiring identification. Plus 7 novels from which essays will be required. It's a little bit overwhelming. When I contacted the professor to ask if I'd really gotten the exam requirements straight, she said, "I know it's a little daunting but do the best you can, and I can tell you to concentrate on the major poets." Right.

In addition my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece are coming from Alberta for the weekend. We're looking forward to lots of fun. I'll be studying on the run!
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A Bit of This and That

  Off in the distance Mount Baker, in the USA, gleams in the sunlight. My best guess is that it's about 100 km away as the crow flies. T...