Sunday, May 31, 2009

Words to Inspire

Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I've been inspired to doodle a little lately. Applying colour to paper, drawing with a pencil, tracing lines in ink, thinking, pondering life.

Here's where I've found some great inspiration -

Pam Garrison is a wonderful artist who works in many mediums. She, in turn, pointed me to Geninne D. Zlatkis' flickr pages. Wow, so many ideas just from looking!
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chocolate and Strawberries

I took a fruit plate to a potluck the other night. I should have ignored the pineapple, the grapes, the kiwi and the oranges - everyone only wanted the chocolate dipped strawberries. Mmm, so easy and good.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Raindrops

They fall and water the earth, tears dripping from the clouds to refresh and renew. Rainy times in life come - often unexpected - and we remember again that growth comes when we let the refreshing rain soak into the hard ground of hurt.

Be still....and know that I am God.
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Watermelon Feta Shrimp Salad

I made this a couple of weeks ago - had a craving for sweet watermelon. The combination of flavours might seem odd, but they work really well together - salty feta with the sweet watermelon. The grilled shrimp is optional but since this was our main course, I added some. I suppose you could add grilled chicken as another option.

Step One:
1 pound large shrimp, deveined (peeled or unpeeled - I like peeling them as I eat them)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Toss shrimp with olive oil. Stir in salt and pepper. Cook shrimp about 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Step Two: the Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sliced fresh mint, divided
1 T olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together the lime juice and honey, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour over the red onion and 2 T of the mint. Toss gently to combine.

Step Three: Putting it all together

4 cups arugula (or mixed greens)
8 (4-inch) seedless watermelon wedges
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

To serve, place 1 cup arugula on each of 4 plates and top with 2 melon wedges and 1/4 of the onion-mint mixture; sprinkle with equal amounts of feta, top with about 6 shrimp, and garnish with some of the remaining fresh mint. Serve immediately.

Add some french bread, toasted with herbs to round out this simple and delicious meal - perfect for a hot summer night.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Radishes

Spring has come slowly this year. This morning I took a break from memorizing French idioms to empty the compost pail. Oh, the excitement! Wandering back I stopped to inspect my garden and picked these fresh radishes. Hmmm. What will I do with them. I like them just plain, but I have enough to make some sort of salad with...I'll have to investigate. Meanwhile, the bright colours are cheery.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Victoria Day Hike - East Sooke Park

For a few years now, my husband and I have wanted to hike the entire length of the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park. We've done most of it from either end. We have tried to coordinate with other people so that we would each take a vehicle and park them at either end of the trail, meet in the middle, eat lunch and trade car keys, but it's never worked out. So yesterday (a statutory holiday here) we took both of our vehicles, parked them at either end and hiked the trail just the two of us.

Above is one of the secluded beaches along the trail, which follows the shoreline on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I think the driftwood on the beach looks like a gigantic flower.

The day was cloudy and a bit cool, but we certainly warmed up as we hiked. The journey took about 5 1/2 hours, plus 1/2 hour for a lunch break, which we ate at Cabin Point, seen here from the trail above.

We sat beside a narrow inlet/fjord, took off our boots and munched our sandwiches. Suddenly we saw a deer swimming like crazy from the open water into the fjord. His head turned from side to side as he looked for a place to come ashore. He swam all the way in and we lost sight of him, assuming he'd come ashore and headed up into the forest. But no, he came back again. We were without our boots on and Tim scrambled to take a few photos. The deer came ashore about 50 feet from where we sat. He stood on the rocks watching and listening. He saw us, we stayed very still and quiet. Another group of hikers arrived just on the other side of the point and he heard them talking. There was a moment of indecision - risk the people or....he jumped back into the water and started madly swimming again, rounding the point out of our sight. I hope he soon found a place to come ashore - that water is freezing cold and the currents are strong.
Who would have thought a deer could swim so strongly with his spindly legs?

Lichens and mosses of all sorts covered the rocks. Up and down we went. Scenery breaks seemed to coincide with breathlessness and the need to stop for a minute.

Gorgeous foliage everywhere. Lush and green. Being away from the city, in a garden or in the wilderness is so restorative. I come home refreshed and renewed after admiring God's amazing creation.

Another secluded beach. I'd love to come here on a blazing hot day to wade in the water, clamber on the rocks and read a good book stretched out on the beach.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Warm and wonderful spring

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

Today right after church we headed out to McKenzie Bight with some friends. A short hike through a forest smelling of all kinds of freshness, ferns and cedars, brought us to the shoreline. We sat in the sunshine and just soaked in the sunshine. At last.

On the way back we took the Cascade Trail which led us by a series of gorgeous waterfalls.

Tomorrow is a holiday here in Canada - Victoria Day - the day we celebrate the Queen's birthday. (which is really in April, I believe) My husband and I are going for a long hike along the East Sooke Park Coast Trail - should take us about 6 hours.

Oh, I do love spring when it's on the verge of summer!
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Flowers

I wrote an exam this morning that wiped me out for the rest of the day. For me, writing three essays in 3 1/2 hours in French is a WHOLE lot more difficult than writing them in English. But I did it. I got into the car to come home and could just feel everything start to relax - even my tear ducts. I shed a few tears of pure relief.

One more exam to go before I take a little break. That will be next Friday. Then I'll really relax. Meanwhile, I wandered around our yard with the camera before dinner, admiring all the little beauties of spring. Chives that are ready to burst into flower - I like sprinkling the flower petals on salads, too. They are a little more piquant than the stems.

And the lilacs. Oh my, what a heavenly fragrance they have. I had some in the house last week and they scented the living room beautifully.

And this is a plant I don't know the name of - it's very hardy, native to this area, I think. I like it because of its blue flowers and elegant architecture.

Dinner tonight is a grilled shrimp, watermelon and feta salad. In just a few minutes. I can't wait.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Flirty Apron for a Friend

My friend Karen's birthday was yesterday. Sewing and crafting have sadly taken a back seat to studying, but once in awhile I make time to do something creative. This apron was one result.

Tomorrow is my French-Canadian Literature exam and next Friday is the French Vocabulary Expansion exam. Then....I am done...for now. I'm taking about a month off from studying before I start again in July. I can hardly wait....
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Monday, May 11, 2009

A Fun and Full Weekend

My Mother's Day celebration began on Saturday afternoon. We met all the children at Thetis Lake and went for a hike. The water was calm, the air warm. Sunshine and shadow danced along the trail.

My wonderful children - three of whom I gave birth to, and two more added in love.

My husband walking with the kids. They all kept looking for me but I was busy taking pictures and had to run to catch up!

Wildflowers. I do love the colour blue.

I tend to talk with my hands a little (ahem) and my husband caught this picture of me in action. I think I was demonstrating the American Sign Language motion for Holland - something I learned this weekend from my hard of hearing cousin who stayed with us.

Trees standing like silent watchers along the lakeshore. Long shadows filtering through leaves and branches. Glints of sunlight sparkling on the water.

Then to my daughter and son-in-law's house for a barbecue. Hmm good - hamburgers with mushrooms, cheese, carmelized onions, tomatoes...a delicious Mediterranean salad with roasted veggies...and a wonderful raspberry cake dessert with vanilla gelato and chocolate raspberry crumbles. Oh my.
My son-in-law loves tulips and their yard is filled with them - all yellow and red. They make a statement!

I didn't take any more photos - we were sitting outside by the outdoor fireplace and I was too lazy to go inside and get the camera. It was so comfortable sitting around the fire talking, listening and just being with the people I love most in the world.

Mother's Day Sunday involved a trip to the ferry first thing in the morning (my cousin and a friend had stayed with us over the weekend), then church, then my husband took me out for a yummy lunch at Milestone's. I had a grilled seafood salad, lots of salmon, prawns and shrimp. For dessert we shared a wedge of chocolate ganache pie that swam in a puddle of warm burnt sugar sauce. Decadent!

Then, mid-afternoon, my children drove me UP the WALL! Literally. Ashley has become quite the rock climber, and Cristal and my husband, Tim have recently begun going as well. Gerry, Cristal's husband and I went out with them to the climbing gym and had a blast. There's a lot to learn about trust when you climb - can my 100 lb daughter really support me up on that wall? Yep, she can. I did three full climbs and then spent some time bouldering. Afterwards, my arms quivered from the exertion. But oh, what fun!

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mothering is a tough job, but one with wonderful rewards! I am blessed to have two wonderful mothers who affect my life profoundly. My own sweet mother, and also my mother-in-law. (I so much prefer the French term for mother-in-law - "belle-mère" - beautiful mother)They are very different women, but each has incredible gifts and immense love for her Lord and her family. To them, and to all moms I want to wish a very happy Mother's Day.

And how am I celebrating? I don't really know. I was told to be ready at 4:00 pm today (Saturday) since we're beginning the celebration tonight! I'll let you know!
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Shirt Makeover

I've not had much time to sew or craft lately, so I thought I'd show you some of my daughters' creations. My youngest is quite a fashionista. She's not afraid to try anything and always looks smashingly chic. She took a man's dress shirt and transformed it into something that fits her petite body. I really love these cufflinks - they belonged to her grandfather.

Here's the back of the shirt. She put tucks into the shoulders to shorten the sleeves, and pleated the back for fitting, then covered it with a piece of wide lace that gives a belted effect to the back. With her skinny jeans and maryjane shoes - ooh la la!
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

One Month

In one month I'll be in Paris with my mom and my sister. It's coming so quickly. I'm anticipating a very different trip than the one my husband and I took two years ago. Fun, but different. We're planning on a visit to the Eiffel Tower...
and one day at Versailles (this is Le Petit Trianon). Then we're taking the train to Frankfurt to go on a bus tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We're getting excited. But...
this is the list of things I need to accomplish before then. This is the reason for the spotty blogging lately. And no sewing or craft projects to show. I miss doing that stuff, but my focus is completely on finishing these two courses before the end of May. I wrote one final for an English course last week, so I am making progress.

I'm writing this blog post as a break from doing the rough draft of the first essay - I don't think or write as fast in French as I do in English.

Now...back to work

Monday, May 04, 2009

Hometown Tourism

My sister and her husband were over from the mainland this weekend. We went downtown on Saturday - to see the Treasure of the British Museum Exhibit at our own Royal BC Museum. This exhibit was beautiful, encompassing history from ancient to modern times. I held a 3000 year old hand tool that had been found in Switzerland and wondered who used it, what she or he thought about as she did.

My three favourite items were a beautifully proportioned silver wine cup made in the time of James I, and a charcoal sketch by Henri Matisse of a woman in taffeta, and the marble Greek busts and statues. I wished I could have touched the marble - I know it would have been cold, but it looked warm.

The museum is right across the street from the Provincial Legislature. The spring flowers are in full bloom and everything was so pretty.

Cherry trees in a riot of pink blossoms against the stone building. Bare branches of trees not yet in leaf, but slowly coming. Green green grass.
Cherry blossoms - sigh.
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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 ...