Monday, March 30, 2009

Time for Pansies

Pansies are wonderful cool weather flowers. And cool is the kind of weather we're having. But the pansies hold up their cheerful faces in spite of it all.

I made this little flower bag last spring from a vintage linen napkin found at a thrift store. It's just big enough for a small glass jar that holds a few pansies, or some fresh herbs. I have it hanging in my kitchen, beside the sink. It's a bit of colour on a dull spring day. I added a few vintage buttons to add a little interest along the top.

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating my husband's birthday. Now it's back to regular life, which is also pretty wonderful.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Living a Beautiful Life - Sweet Escapes

Sweet escapes is the theme at The Inspired Room today. I love this theme. Rather than pin all your hopes on one big vacation, take time to enjoy everyday. Treat yourself. One of my daily treats is a square (or two) of dark chocolate. I eat it when I'm by myself, usually after my lunch, and enjoy a few minutes with a cup of tea and savour the rich chocolate flavour. That's enough sweet to satisfy me.

Another thing I love to do is go through my photos. I spend a lot of time at the computer these days and I take breaks every 30 minutes or so. Sometimes I wander downstairs for another cup of tea, or do a few stretches in the living room. But I also like looking at the family photos that are stored on my computer.

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday so I thought I'd share some fun photos. He's the most wonderful man in the world and my very best friend. I love spending time with him. He makes me laugh and I do the same for him. This first photo is of Tim with his great-nephew at a family wedding last summer.

Tree climbing on Russell Island. We love being outdoors. This is an arbutus tree, also known as a madrona tree in the USA.

Kicking up heels on Russell Island with our son and daughter-in-law. I was so pleased to have captured this picture. It makes me laugh every time I see it.

And here's a fun list of things to do today...Enjoy God's wonderful gift of LIFE!


Say something SILLY
LAUGH 'til it hurts
Take a RISK
SING out loud
Rock the BOAT
SHAKE things up
FLIRT with disaster
BUY something frivilous
COLOR outside the lines
Cause a SCENE
GET carried away
Have a great DAY!
(author unknown)

For more beautiful life posts and sweet escapes visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tablescape Thursday

Tea is my hot beverage of choice. Most afternoons I make myself a cup of tea and a little snack to carry me over until dinnertime. I usually eat it at the computer or while studying on the couch, but once in awhile I'm inspired to set a tray. It's me taking care of me.

Cut into wedges is the way I prefer eating apples. Gnawing my way around the core of an apple is fine for when I'm hiking, but at home or at school I prefer them cut. A triangle of cheese adds some protein and I'm set until dinner.

Flowers are pretty scarce in our yard just yet. Spring is barely beginning. But I clipped this single crocus for a tiny vase and added parsley for some greenery.

I believe these are called coffee trays - please correct me if I'm wrong. I have two of these. They were wedding presents given to my mother-in-law over 55 years ago. She gave them to me and I think they are beautiful. And oh, so practical! Since they are designed to hold a snack and a teacup they are wonderful for parties and just perching on the couch.

I love using these pretty things. And for more inspiration, click on over to Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Tastes of Spring

I hated asparagus as a child and I still don't like it steamed or boiled. But I discovered that roasted asparagus is wonderful, and so I thought maybe sauteeing would be acceptable as well. It is! I sauteed asparagus in olive oil, letting the bottom brown slightly before stirring it. At the end I threw in some grape tomatoes and heated them just until a few skins popped. Mmm - sweet and good!
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring!

A little Madness in the spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
-- Emily Dickinson

Spring won't let me stay in this house any longer!
I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.
-- Gustav Mahler

Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint
And sweet thyme true
Primrose, first born child of Ver,
Merry Spring-time's harbinger
--Francis Beaumont

And so begins the first day of spring! I'm sorting through my seed packets, casting an eye on the weeds, admiring the budding branches, and thinking that my house needs a good spring cleaning!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

I have a problem...

I'm frustrated and hoping someone out there can help me. I have blogs on which I'd love to leave a comment BUT I can't.

The ones that have the "choose a profile" box are the ones I can't comment on. I've tried using the Google account, the Name/URL, even anonymous and NOTHING works!

Has anyone out there solved this problem? HELP, Please!

Simply Spring!

We had friends in for dinner last weekend. I wanted the table to look simple and fresh - pretending that it didn't snow over the weekend and that spring was in the air!

Pink tulips go well with my Lavender Rose china pattern. On top of the china plates I set clear glass plates for the salad course. The photos don't show the soup bowls that were still in the kitchen. They are also in the Lavender Rose pattern.

A cast iron urn with a trailing green plant and two perky cast iron birds complete the center of the table. I used a white cloth and pale green napkins. Astute observers will notice that the tablecloth in the above picture is different than the one in the others - and that would be because the pictures I took with the white cloth were a little blurry, so I redid this one the next day. I think these birds are too cute to miss. Check out the recipe below and then go to Susan's weekly Tablescape post for links to more wonderful ideas!

And while I did not serve this salad that night, it's one of my favourite spring salads, and with spinach and strawberries soon available, here's the recipe!
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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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Pillow Parade!

Kari and Kijsa had so much fun with the Pillow Parade last Tuesday that they decided to do it again! So I went around the house with my camera and found a few more pillows to share. I store them away depending on the season so they are not all out at the same time. This first pillow is one given to me by my mother-in-law who stitched it in 1970 while the family was living in Chile. My husband's father worked on the construction of a copper mine there for a year. The linen is getting quite worn and faded, but the stitching is beautifully done and I love the shading.

Toile pillows on the loveseat in our family room - not really a family room, but it's the eating area of our kitchen that is large enough for a table and chairs plus a loveseat, piano, cabinet and bookcase. But we don't really use it as a family room. Ooh, that was really confusing.

This adorable little pillow was made by my eldest daughter in grade 11. She had it on her bed. And it's not really finished. There is still a pin in one side where the opening needs to be stitched shut. I could do it, but I think it's kind of sweet to leave it as it is.

And this last photo is of a fall pillow that I pulled out of the closet for today. It's made from a thrift store felted sweater and a collection of wooden and leather buttons. I like its masculine feel. If I had a den with leather couches, this would definitely go in that room! But I don't have such a room so I put it in the living room during the fall months.

Don't forget to visit the Pillow Parade Finale for lots of pillow inspiration!
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Beaux Bijoux

I recently helped out a fellow blogger and Marie Antoinette fan with a fun project. In return she sent me these two boxes, prettily tied up with blue ribbons. They arrived this morning and I managed to take a photo before opening them up. What could they contain?

Gorgeous jewellry! Joy, from Cupid's Charm creates these beautiful works. This necklace is made up of tiny portraits of Marie Antoinette, each on a backing of a copy of a jewellry inventory from shortly after her death. The backs of the charms also have this inventory. Pearls and crystals add even more sparkle to this wonderful necklace. But wait, there's more!

I had mentioned to Joy that I was going to Europe this summer with my mom and my sister and that one item on our itinerary was a visit to Versailles. She sent along these necklaces for them to wear as well. I'll be seeing them at Easter and will give them their treasures then. And...we'll all wear them as we stroll through the gardens at Versailles and wander through the magnificent Hall of Mirrors. I've visited before but my mom and sister have not and I'm so excited to share it with them.

Go on over to Joy's site where you will find not only beautiful Marie Antoinette inspired jewellry but many, many other gorgeous items!
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Friday, March 13, 2009

The Little Things

Sometimes the little things can bring great pleasure and joy. Today is bright and sunny, but so cold for this time of year. Yesterday I picked up a handful of pink tulips at the grocery store and they are cheering me up. I look at them and know that spring is on the way.

This little bird sits on her perch on my china hutch. These mornings I wake up to the sound of birds twittering outside my window. What a lovely sound that is. I know that they are busy collecting bits and pieces to make their nests. They aren't letting the cold stop them from doing what they need to do.

On my mantel this morning I added a new ivy plant and two china birds, softly green. Little touches of spring throughout the house make me smile as I putter and clean and organize. Today I'm preparing for a dinner party in addition to my regular cleaning. And my son came by to pick up an item and stayed for tea and a lemon bar. We chatted about this and that. This afternoon my eldest daughter will stop by on her way home after teaching and she, too, will visit over a cup of tea. Lemon bars are her favourite.

Little things mean a lot and make life beautiful. I just need to take time to savour them.

For more Beautiful Living posts, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

another day

Slogging through another "dissertation en français" (French essay) is what has filled my days this week. And it's done! Three more to go! Plus several in other courses. I'm really trying to finish these courses before the end of May June I'm heading off to Europe with my mom and my sister.

I went in 2007 with my husband and oh, what a wonderful trip that was! But this one is for the girls. Just three days in Paris, then we'll take the train to Frankfurt and tour around Germany, Austria and Switzerland for two weeks.

The photo above was taken in front of the Hôtel de Ville - the City Hall of Paris. (Republique Française)
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pillow Parade!

Kari and Kijsa are hosting a wonderful pillow-themed day. Pillows are a great way to add colour and texture to a room. The above photo shows the pillows on our bed - I made the two white ones and the ones with buttons. Pillows are fast and fun to create, like miniature canvases.

Here's a more tailored pillow in the living room. It's a taffeta-type fabric with a sheen to it. The texture of the pintucks save it from being plain and boring. When I make pillows, I usually just make the covers so that I can pop them off and change them as I wish.

I have a chair in my front hallway on which I usually perch a pillow reflecting the seasons. I put away the Valentine-themed one today and pulled out this more spring-like number. Silk and chintz, lace and buttons, ribbon and felt are used in this one.

Don't forget to head on over to the Pillow Parade to check out the posts on Mr. Linky!
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Feeling Artsy

During the Christmas holiday, my husband took a few days off and we played tourist in our home town. One afternoon we went down to the IMAX to see the show on the Swiss Alps. We were late for one show and had a couple of hours to kill before the next one so we paid a visit to our downtown library. I don't go there often because we have branches closer to home and I can order any books I want. But one thing the main branch has is a plethora of magazines, including the Stampington publications.

Sitting there on that cold December or January day, I was inspired by Somerset Studios - the issue with the white cover and a star on it. And I had the idea of making a piece of art in a similar style, with squares of small collages. This is the result, something I started working on yesterday afternoon. I don't think it's quite finished yet, but I want to think about it and look at it a bit more.

Each small collage is based on a word taken from Psalm 37, one of my favourites and one included in my themed collage for 2009, seen here. The words on the tag in the library pocket in that collage are from Psalm 37.

Delight, Trust, Do good, Be still, Wait, Commit, Dwell, Cultivate, and Enjoy are the nine words on this collage. It's the biggest piece of artwork I've ever done and was so much fun. (It's a 20 x 24 inch canvas.) Each square is 3 inches.

I've pondered this project for 2 months, not a year like this one, my china cabinet. I guess I'm becoming more willing to risk trying something and not be so concerned about it not turning out the way I'd envisioned. Or maybe, thinking about things for a long time helps me to plan them out well so I can just move along and enjoy the process of creating.

So, I'll leave this on my dining room wall for a few days and see what else needs to be done to it.
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Shivering Primroses

I just took this photo standing on my front porch - it's blowy and snowy and cold! Those bright primroses are shivery cold. I think it's a night for some warming soup!
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Friday, March 06, 2009

Craving Colour

When January comes, I love a calming, neutral decor. I use lots of white and crystal, with candles for warmth. Come February I add a few sweet red and pink touches. But when March hits - I want COLOUR!

I wish I had a bowlful of just lemons, but I don't, so I filled my lead crystal bowl with oranges, apples and the two lemons I did have. Set on a silver tray covered with a lace doily, with an Eiffel Tower and ivy plant to keep it company, the colour brightens up my dining room table. When I walk through the room, vacuuming and dusting (as I should today), the colour draws my eye and makes me smile.

For more ways to beautify your life check out Melissa's Linky list at The Inspired Room where today is all about beautifying what you have.

And for more about lead crystal, read Laura's interesting post at Decor to Adore. This crystal bowl is square and was given to my husband and me on our wedding day almost 32 years ago, by his grandparents. It has little round feet and a sweet scalloped edge. I love using it.
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Living Alongside Medieval History

  Several people have asked why we chose Leiden for our visit to the Netherlands. We've found it's easy to stay in the large cities ...