Monday, August 31, 2009

Sparkly Dangles


Bloggers are the most generous people EVER! A few months ago I helped Joy from Cupids Charm translate a document from French to English. She oh, so generously sent me a beautiful Marie Antoinette necklace in return. I was privileged to wear the necklace at Versailles this past summer, where Marie danced and charmed the court and loved her family and friends. Upon my return I sent a few pictures to Joy, showing her where her necklace traveled, and in turn...she sent me these gorgeous earrings.

I just love them. I put them on immediately and they sparkled and danced while I did my housework. I didn't want to take them off - ever. But I did, promptly photographed them and here they are. Thank you, Joy!

And the fleur de lis ribbon - ooh la la! You really should just pop over to Joy's site and see her jewelry. It's all beautifully done.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Tomato Season!

It seems like I wait for months for the first ripe tomatoes from my garden. I start thinking about them in January, buy seeds in February, start the plants inside in March, set the seedlings in bigger containers in April, finally plant outdoors in late May, stake them in June, prune them in July and then...August comes and I am rewarded for my efforts. This year is a bumper crop and I'm delighted. I plan on canning them, drying them, making sauce from them, and of course, eating them fresh with basil and mozzarella cheese on fresh bread. The best lunch ever!
This platter of tomatoes is what's left from yesterday's picking. The remainder I roasted.

Roasted tomatoes are so good! I just core them, cut them in half, sprinkle on salt, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, a grind of pepper on each one, a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped onion. I roast them at 300 degrees for about 4 hours, or until they are collapsed and just starting to caramelize.

What to do with a roasted tomato? Tonight I'm going to combine them with pasta, capers, leftover salmon and some fresh basil. I'm going to freeze some in batches of 6-8 halves. Combined with sauteed onions and garlic and chicken or vegetable broth, they make a wonderful soup for chillier days. I just simmer everything, then puree the mixture and add a little cream. The best tomato soup ever!

What do you do with a ripe tomato?
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Traveling Tablescape


There are no elegant dishes on this table, no heirloom linens, no shiny flatware. But it was one of the best meals I can remember. When my husband and I were in Paris, we shopped for our evening meal a couple of times. We found plastic wine glasses that come apart for packing, a small corkscrew and those were all the implements needed.

Peering at the food in the nearby store, we picked up some cold ham, lettuce, and tomatoes. We tucked a half litre of wine into our shopping basket, went by the boulangerie/patisserie for a baguette, a slice of apple tarte and a slice of strawberry tarte, then to the fromagerie for some cheese. We set it all out on a placemat fashioned from the wrapping of the baguette. Our plates were nothing more than the plastic containers the meat came in. The cashier at the Monoprix was happy to give us a couple of plastic forks and knives, and voilà, une picnique à la française!

We ate in front of our window overlooking the streets of Paris. Tablescapes don't have to take time or expense - the most important thing is to nourish both body and soul at the table.

For more Tablescapes, visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. She does a wonderful job of hosting every week.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Late Summer Pleasures


Sweet ripe strawberries, damp with morning dew

Zucchini gratin with garlic and cheese



Nasturiums glowing in mottled shade and light



Bright cosmos that never seem to stop blooming

Many signs point to the fast-approaching end of summer. Last night we went for a walk on the breakwater and down by the water the chilly wind made me glad I'd remembered my fleece jacket. Tomatoes are ripening quickly, warmed by the daytime sun and made sweeter by the cooler nights.

My husband and I went blackberry picking a couple of days ago and I have the scratches to prove it. The air had that warmth particular to late summer when the heat rises up from the ground and smells hot and earthy.

Projects include making pickles, finishing up the jam making and filling the freezer to the top with berries for the winter. We use them for cereal toppings, cobblers, muffins, sauces and more. They provide a taste of summer in the dark dreary days that will come.

And I want to cram in as much of summer as I can. Bouquets of flowers adorn my home, salads are a big part of every meal and I want to use the outside grill, not the oven. The ripening apples, the faint yellow tinge on the very tops of trees and the fading roses all seem to whisper, hurry, hurry...enjoy us now.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back from Vacation

We've been gone for just over two weeks and arrived home last night. Today was busy with laundry and catching up with the garden - I picked cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries. I need to get to the raspberries tomorrow. I was too busy to take photos of the bounty, but these are a few from our trip. We visited friends in Nampa, Idaho and Spokane, Washington, then drove north to visit family in the Red Deer area of Alberta before wending our way home through the Rockies and seeing more family in the Fraser Valley before catching the ferry home last night.
The photo is of the Spokane River, just behind our friends' home. We took tubes and floated down the river - was it ever COLD! We had wet suits on and I was still shivering after an hour in the water. But it was a lot of fun after the first set of rapids when I fell off my tube and was tumbled about in the water.

Evening sunset, also taken near the river. The pinky purple sky and glowing sun - just magical.

I've started a couple more courses and I have lots of catching up to do in the house and garden, but I hope to reply to your lovely blog comments soon. It's good to travel, and always good to come home.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunset at Winter Cove

I just love the name Winter Cove - I think of some sailor who hunkered there in a quiet anchorage over the winter and named it. We were there on a hot August night (last summer). I took this photo and the one below from our sailboat, looking different directions.

Both are beautiful, but it's important to look in every direction to get a complete picture. And beauty can be found in the sensational warm and bright colours of the sun, or the quieter tones of the shadows. I just need to recognize it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Waiting

Waiting is something everyone has to do at various points in life. I know that I don't enjoy waiting at all. I know it's character-building and builds patience and perseverance, but it's HARD. And I'm learning that I can wait badly - stomping around, being grouchy, getting impatient, or choose to wait well.

Waiting well - that's been my goal for this summer and maybe into the fall.

Friday, August 07, 2009

More of Butchart Gardens

Doesn't this look like a cool, shady place to sit with a good book and a glass of ice cold lemonade? Too bad it's just for looks. Butchart Gardens does have places to sit and enjoy the shade and the grass, but other places are off limits.

The sound of water is always relaxing and there are benches here to sit and gaze for as long as you like.

Oh, the colour!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I do love blueberries

And it's that wonderful time of year again - blueberry season! These squares are so good! I make them with frozen berries as well so they are not just a summer pleasure. A bit of lemon, some oat-y goodness and sweet bursts of blueberries.

For the recipe, click here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More Art Journal

I've enjoyed playing a little more this summer - playing with pens and pencils, brushes and paint. And glue, of course. Here's another page.

Exploring the Czech Countryside

Most of our time in the Czech Republic was spent in Prague. One day, however, we ventured out of the city to Krivoklat Castle, in Centr...