Showing posts from July, 2009

Beauty in the Commonplace

I do love this quotation. It reminds me to look for beauty in the little things of everyday. Right now, it's so hot I can hardly think, but I can hear my neighbour's water fountain trickling coolness in the evening. Cold soups have become a staple for dinner. I make one in the morning and it sits, melding flavours beautifully and getting cold in the refrigerator all day.

Last night we went to the lake. I swam and swam until I had goosebumps. We were in the water for over an hour, floating on tubes, or swimming lazily and chatting.

And last night we slept outdoors again. I was awake for a long time - I forgot that the iced tea I made was caffeinated - oh dear. But I lay and looked at the stars and saw two more shooting stars. Now, I have to ask myself, are there always this many? And why don't I see them? Then I realized - I'm usually in my room at midnight, not laying outside looking up at the sky. And it made me think - how many more wonders are out there that I don'…

Our outside bedroom

Victoria, and much of the west coast of the USA and Canada are in the midst of a heat wave. Record-breaking temperatures all around. Last night it was just too hot to sleep in the house, so outside we went. A corner of our deck is somewhat private and we set up our camping air mattress and settled in.

Listening to the noises of the city - and the neighbor's trickling water fountain took awhile to get used to. We watched the stars and just as I turned over to go to sleep - oh, a shooting star blazed across the sky. I think we'll be out here again tonight.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

Western Canada is undergoing a heat wave! I'm loving it - until about 10:30 pm when it's time for bed. Heat like this is so rare in Victoria that practically no one has air conditioning. We do have a fan in our bedroom, but last night, even that air felt warm.
Meanwhile, during the days I'll enjoy the flowers in the yard and the fact that I can just about SEE my garden grow - the tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini are soaking up this lovely warmth.

Evening shadows on my potting bench. A birdhouse constructed by my son, painted by me years ago, some driftwood from the beach and a heart-shaped rock found in my garden.

Bag Pattern - A Summery Bag

This handbag pattern is one I've had in mind for awhile. I spent a pleasant afternoon stitching and ended up with something fresh and cheerful for summer. The bag is 12 inches wide and 9 inches tall, plus the handles. It's large enough to hold a paperback book, a water bottle and the essentials of wallet, comb and lipstick. There are two pockets on the outsides - I love having easily accessible pockets for my keys and sunglasses.

Piping along the tops of the pockets and the bag adds a crisp finishing touch.

I took pictures as I went along, and wrote down the steps so that someday I can make this purse again, and I decided to share them.

Summer Handbag Tutorial

1. Gather your supplies.
1/2 yard (or so) of fabric (I used a decorator cotton print)
1/2 yard of heavy interfacing (fusible or sew-in)
1/2 yard of lining (I used a cotton broadcloth because that's what I had on hand)
matching thread
paper to make pattern (or mark directly on the fabric)
hardware to attach handles to p…

Ways with Flowers

One thing I love about summertime is the luxury of having fresh flowers from my very own yard to cut and arrange. I spent a happy hour or two this week arranging flowers for several rooms in preparation for a visit from my cousin and her family.

I don't know why this photo insists on being off to the side, but it's stubborn and I can't move so... It's not the greatest photo but I took it because it illustrates my point of this post. You can see that the flowers are in a glass jar which is smaller than the vase itself. I found this round vase at Michael's and put the flower filled jar inside, held the jar firmly in the center, and inserted seashells all around it. In the past I've used paper items - music paper or whatever. Being separated from the jar with the flowers means that nothing else gets wet.

This wicker basket is also filled with jars, which in turn are filled with water and beautiful hydrangeas. Combining water with "un-waterproof" items is…

32 Years of Pink Roses

Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary. My that sounds like a long time - makes me think I should be more grown up and older than I feel. I carried pink roses in my bouquet and they have always been my favourite colour of roses. Life has not been strewn with pink roses - we've had ups and downs but I have never regretted marrying Tim and am so thankful for the years we have had together. I hope we have at least another 32!

We have overnight guests staying with us tonight and I'll be making dinner for them. So Tim and I will celebrate on Friday. It will be low key, but fun just to be together.

(edited to add: I pushed publish before changing the post option date - our anniversary is the 23rd, not the 22nd)

Blues and Greens

A couple of hours upstairs using the sewing machine and then an hour or two of sitting on the deck handstitching seemed like a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

And the result...a patchy pad for an underused bench on the patio. This has been in my mind for some time and I decided to just do it one day without overthinking it. I grabbed blue and green fabrics from my stash (which I'm trying to whittle down), used my rotary cutter to make strips of varying widths, and stitched them together in one long piece. I tried to not spend too much time planning which fabrics looked best next to each other, but I did make sure the fabrics were evenly distributed.

This bench is about 6 feet long, or 7 or 8 (I'm too lazy to go down and measure it, but I know my 6 foot husband can stretch his length along it). I used two layers of cotton batting in the middle and some leftover white quilted fabric for the backing. I wasn't planning on doing any handquilting. The binding was leftover stri…

One more post about Versailles

During the spring Joy of Cupids Charm contacted me about translating an old document listing some of Marie Antoinette's jewelry from French into English. I enjoyed the work - it was more pleasure than anything else. In return, she sent me the beautifully worked necklace I'm wearing, with the Chateau de Versailles in the background.

Here's a close up of the necklace - each charm features a different portrait of Marie Antoinette. Today, Joy has posted some of my photos on HER blog - go take a look, and check out her beautiful work.

Summer Tablescape

It's so easy to have a pretty table in the summertime with all the fresh flowers everywhere. My daughter put this arrangement together as she wandered around the yard, clippers in one hand and the vase in the other.

I tend to use just one or two flowers, but I love the loose and casual arrangement she made with at least 6 kinds of plant material.

Dinner on the patio - perfect summertime.

For more wonderful tablesetting ideas, visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.

Visit to Butchart Gardens

On Friday a good friend invited me for a stroll in Butchart Gardens. We are so fortunate to live just 20 minutes away from these famous gardens. I love visiting them year round. No matter what time of year, there is always something to admire. The begonias were amazing - huge and colourful. They are in the ground and also hang in baskets under an arbour created just for them and the fuschias.

The sunken gardens were created by Jennie Butchart from the old quarry where her husband made his fortune. Standing at the top of the stairs I always admire the winding paths, the artfully laid out beds and the wonderful patterns created by flowers, shrubs and trees.

The combination of texture and colour never ceases to amaze me. It's such a peaceful place to be - if you get there early enough. On a summer afternoon the crowds are intense, but we went at opening time, 9 am, and enjoyed the quieter atmosphere.

The dahlias are just starting to bloom. There are so many gorgeous colours and shapes a…