Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday Lunch

The temperatures are much cooler here than they were just last week. It's officially autumn and that means lots of soup! I do love eating soup in its many, many forms. Last Sunday our youngest daughter and her boyfriend joined us for lunch after church.

My tomatoes are still producing heavily and they are just so pretty. I set a bowlful in the center of the table for nibbling and as decoration. Blue and yellow are one of my favourite colour combinations.

While we lived in South America, canned soups and most packaged soups were nowhere to be found. I learned to make my own soups and it's not difficult at all. It also takes very little time, unless you are planning on a long-simmering beef bone or chicken soup. I make chicken broth with my roasted chicken carcasses and freeze it for future use. This soup is a cream of broccoli that took less than half an hour, start to finish. I sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on top and my, it melted right in and was creamy good. The cream of broccoli soup recipe can be found on my recipe blog, just click the link. With it I served a roasted tomato tart and green salad.

Table settings are wonderful ways to be creative. For more table goodness and lots of ideas, visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Indian Summer

Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands
And all the day the blue-jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands.

Now by the brook the maple leans
With all his glory spread
And all the sumachs on the hills
Have turned their green to red.

Now by great marshes wrapt in mist
Or past some river's mouth
Throughout the long, still autumn day
Wild birds are flying south.

(Wilfred Campbell, 1889)

Over the weekend I heard the geese honking and saw their V-formation overhead. This morning I noticed the temperature was 5 degrees (Celsius) on the thermometer outside my kitchen window. After a glorious September of record sunshine and heat, autumn is definitely here.
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lingering Summer

September has been a beautiful month, full of hot days and cool nights, sunshine and flowers! Yes, my flowers are still going strong, in fact, the delphiniums are blooming again, as is the lavender. I went out this morning and took time to smell the beautiful roses. I cut this bunch of lavender for drying to use in some sachets.

I'm spending today doing some sewing and crafting - hopefully I'll have something to show soon.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A September Birthday Party

There are three birthdays in September in our immediate family. Last Saturday night we all got together for one big party. We do things fairly low-key - dinner, cake, of course, games, lounging and laughter. Oh, and presents, too. I like to set the table early in the afternoon so that I'm not rushed at the last minute.

Last fall I stitched up this simple and easy tablerunner from Anna Maria Horner's wonderful Drawing Room fabric. I just love the colours and patterns in this fabric. I did a tutorial for the tablerunner which you can find by clicking on the link.

I'm not one to collect all kinds of dishes. I do love them, but have to think of storage, and really, how many sets of dishes do we need? I like to set a pretty table, though and try to do it as creatively and economically as possible. A year or two ago I found these initials at the dollar store and picked up one for each member of the family. This year, I had to find an "O" since youngest daughter has a boyfriend who joined us for the dinner. Fortunately, the store still had the same style.

Good food, candlelight, family gathered round, blessings abound.

For more tablescapes, visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. There are some wonderful ideas out there that are adaptable to using whatever you have in your home right now, without purchasing a thing! Thanks, Susan, for hosting every week.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

A New Season

Faint wisps of cloud trail across the September blue sky. I lift my face to the warm sunshine and feel reciprocal warmth radiating from the earth. These clear days linger on with only a hint of chill in the breeze that comes from the sea to remind me that autumn is coming. Today is summer's last.
I reflect on the season that is ending and wonder about the new season to come. Not just on the calendar, but a new season in my life. A new career for my husband. A newly empty nest. A new kind of normal life. A season to let God heal the hurts. A season to withdraw a little from elective responsibilities and focus on what's most important - my own relationship with God and with my husband and family. A season to contemplate, to weep a little and wait for joy to return, to ponder and to realize that the answers to my questions might never be known on this earth. A season to rest after the busy summer, to enjoy the harvest and reap the benefits of years spent putting roots down deep into God's word.

As I puttered about my house this weekend, I put away the summer decorating and brought out the warm textures of autumn. My style is spare but not minimalist, I don't like clutter. I'm sure I will add more as the season progresses, but for now I'm enjoying clear glass filled with collected bits of driftwood, another with pinecones, and a third with vine balls. Candles of course, and brass which gleams in soft candlelight. I'm looking forward to the first fire in the fireplace, watching movies with my husband, evenings spent reading or doing handwork, pumpkin desserts and warming soups.
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Friday, September 18, 2009


One of my greatest small pleasures during the time I lived in South America was the arrival of Victoria magazine. She came in a box of literature from our organization's office in the USA, and I usually received two or three at a time, several months late. It didn't matter. I did all I could to ration myself, to save them for special occasions, to take time to savour their beauty. Nancy Lindemeyer was the editor with the vision for a world where "being nice mattered," and where a woman could delight in creating beauty in myriad forms.

The magazine featured women engaged in all sorts of enterprises and opened a new world for me. I usually read my magazine in the afternoon, after the morning work was done, some dinner preparation finished, and the house was quiet except for the rain drumming on the roof or the frogs croaking madly in the jungle. I curled up on the couch, a cup of tea or glass of ice water in hand and filled my eyes and mind with Victoria's beauty.

I was so sad when the magazine changed - it lost much of its charm. And then it finally ceased publication. The past two years have seen it revived, but somehow, it's not the same. Maybe I've changed, but I don't find the same delight in reading the modern version. I prefer bringing out my old copies each month. September was always one of my favourites. The two featured above are on my night table right now.

And, did you know that the original editor has a blog? Yes! Reading her charming words again fills me with delight. Here's Nancy Lindemeyer's blog link - a bit of bliss for us all to enjoy.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Enjoying the Bounty

My garden is bursting with tomatoes and green beans these days. Last night I made this salad that featured them both. Roasted tomatoes and green beans with a hint of orange dressing topped with garlicky shrimp - a wonderful taste of late summer.
The recipe can be found here, on my recipe blog.
And to finish the meal, some fresh peaches and prune plums with a honey syrup and toasted pistachio nuts, also found here. (just scroll down past the salad)

I've noticed in the past couple of years that our springs have been miserable and cold, but summer lingers long into September. I love the lengthening shadows around dinnertime, the blue, blue bowl of sky above trees just starting to turn orange and yellow. And the crisp evening air. Days to savour the warmth, to walk barefoot on the grass, and revel in God's good gifts.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here's Looking at You

Our home was built in the mid-80's and has big, blank mirrors in every bathroom. I like their size, but they needed something to bring them into the 21st century. I asked my husband (he's so talented and accommodating) to make simple black frames for them. You can see that the frame (made from molding) really defines the mirror and punches up the space. This main bathroom is already black and red and cream so it really fits in well.

Our master bath is soft blue, but I still like the black frame around the mirror. You'll notice, too, that the light fixture is black. It is original to the house and used to be the bronzey-gold tone. Tim took it down, cleaned it well, and sprayed it black. And I've seen NEW fixtures exactly like it - in black. My jewelry is hanging on what used to be a rose drying rack - from the 80's as well when we all had tons of dried flowers around the house. Until recently my jewelry was in drawers and hard to organize. I like this idea much better.

My hydrangeas are still blooming. I just love their blowsy form and soft colours. The colour is waning, just like the sun, but these are still glorious days to enjoy. I hope your September day is full of small pleasures to treasure.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Warm and Woolly

These are some pillows I made over the weekend using thrifted wool sweaters. I washed them in hot water and dried them in the dryer to felt them and refashioned them into cozy winter pillows. Isn't this argyle fun?

Fair Isle patterns are so pretty. I'm hoping to make more of these to sell at a local craft sale at the end of October. I used to do craft fairs, but they seem to have not been as successful as they once were. However, I've seen more interest and perhaps there's a resurgence. I'm going to give one a try. I have lots of ideas and projects - but I'm trying to stay focused on recycled items, or what I have on hand.

During the week I need to study, but Saturdays and some evenings I can stitch and craft. I'm looking forward to it. Crafting with a purpose!
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Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Pen to Paper

I have kept a journal for many years. It's not a diary of my daily deeds, or of what's going on in my world. I don't feel compelled to write everyday. Sometimes I write just a few lines, sometimes I write pages. I find writing very cathartic - it's my go-to place when I am confused, frustrated or pensive. I usually come away from writing feeling calmer and more directed in my thoughts.

I recently took some books out of the library on book binding. And as a beginning project I hand stitched this little journal. The covers are pieces of thin chipboard that were saved from something. I glued on a scrap of paper, stamped a couple of leaves and found the word to glue onto the front cover.
I hand stitched the binding using linen thread. I made three signatures of four sheets each - a combination of drawing paper and some other paper I had lying around. The entire project took a very short time and I'm pretty pleased with it for a first effort. I'd like to make some using old book covers now. I like the look of the exposed stitching, and I love the fact that the book lies flat - great for drawing and collaging. I think there will be more handmade journals in my future.

What about you? Do you confide your thoughts to a journal? Do you collect quotations and poems? What do you collect them in?
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hanging On

When times are uncertain, I have to remember that God's love never ends. I'm hanging on to his promise of love these days. This blog is, for me, a place to connect with other wonderful bloggers and to share the beauty of the world I live in - the world created by God, and the world in which I can create beauty. But blogging these past few months has been a bit of a struggle.

My husband lost his job at the end of May - just one week before my long-planned trip to Europe with my mom and sister. I debated staying home, but everything was paid for and we decided that I should go. The summer was long - it felt like we were suspended in uncertainty. We are certain that God has plans and purposes for us, but completely uncertain about what they are. I'm studying full-time, working on getting my French degree so that I can go back to teaching. Any job leads Tim has had have turned into dust that drifts away in front of us.

Uncertainty and waiting - hard stuff. I know we're not alone in this, I hear of many who are worse off. We have much for which to be thankful - our children are doing well both personally and career-wise, we have savings, we have health, we have each other. But another job dissolved into dust just yesterday - after two interviews, numerous reference checks and a month of waiting they decided to make an offer to the other candidate.

And so, today, I'm holding onto God's promises of love and faithfulness which we've so often seen in the past. Daily grace for daily needs. Today.
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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kitchen Reno

Over the summer my husband gave me a new kitchen. We didn't change much but wow, what a difference. The kitchen is your basic U-shape, quite small. On one long arm of the U, there were the standard upper cabinets and a counter with base cabinets dividing the kitchen from the breakfast table. I was always ducking my head to peer under the cabinets to talk to anyone who was sitting at the table. So Tim removed all those uppers. At the end he installed these open shelves which I love. I keep my everyday glasses there, my recipes boxes (also made by Tim), some pottery, and my beloved French-inspired clock sits above.

This is a detail of the metal brackets holding the shelves - I love their intricacy. There are still a few finishing touches Tim wants to put on, like painting the screws black so they are less noticeable.
On a random note, I was watching, on PBS the other day, an old Julia Child cooking show and noticed that she had the very same glass tumblers that are sitting on my shelf there. Mine are not very old, so it's a design that seems to have lasted for a long time. Anyway...back to the kitchen.

We replaced the old, stained, pale blue arborite (formica) with porcelain tiles that resemble slate. The back splash is composed of creamy ceramic square tiles with a border of black rectangular tiles with a scroll design in them. He finished the edge with strips of the same wood he used for the shelving.

This picture is over exposed, but shows the peninsula between the kitchen and the breakfast area. We widened the space by 12 inches which gives me a wonderful working space, and is also great for anyone wanting to help in the kitchen. Two people, on either side of the countertop can each have ample space.

 Then, on the other side of the counter he built cabinets, also finished in wood. There are two closed cabinets, one drawer, a book shelf where I keep my cookbooks (some of them), and a shallow top shelf where I keep my cloth napkins and placemats. Should someone, if we move away, want to have a bar here instead of these cabinets, Tim made them easily removable. But I really like, and need, the extra cabinet space and I'm not as fond of eating at a bar side by side as I am at our breakfast table where we can look at each other with ease.

I'm so proud of my husband and the work he does. Another thing we would like to do is replace the gold knobs. I think dark knobs would look much better, but everything just takes time (and money.) So I'll be patient and wait until the time is right.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying the open feeling of my kitchen! It's wonderful!
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Monday, September 07, 2009


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I've noticed some bloggers have wonderfully large photos on their blogs and I've wondered how to do it. Susan, from Between Naps on the Porch, gave some ideas, and I'm trying them out. So far I've had no luck, but I'll keep trying.

Meanwhile, for experimenting, since my daughter has my camera on her camping/spelunking trip, I chose this photo from my trip to Europe in June - a stone cottage in Switzerland. I love the textures and the durability of it.

edited to add - Yay! I figured it out. Thanks, Susan! Now I have to figure out my header/banner at the top.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Square by square

I recently organized my fabric stash. It took awhile, but now I enjoy looking at the piles of fabrics, all sorted by colour. Then I visited my sister-in-law in Alberta. Her living room is painted pale grey and she has dark leather sofas. Pale blue-green pillows accented them. She told me that for fall and winter, she changes the pale pillows to red. When I got home I was inspired to make this little pillow for her. I went through the red fabrics and chose a variety. There's a remnant of a skirt I made my daughter, a blouse, and a few odds and ends I picked up. Fifteen 3 1/2 inch squares combined to make a pillow I hate to give away. But I will.

Sewing is the leisure activity that is a constant in my life. Others may come and go, but sewing remains. Now with the shorter days and cooler temperatures, thoughts of sewing projects fill my mind.

This weekend, though, will probably be filled with canning/roasting/saucing tomatoes. We have a bumper crop this year and I'm loving it!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Labour Day weekend (in North America).
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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Late Summer Dining

See how long the shadows are? Evenings are becoming shorter and here on Canada's Vancouver Island we're trying to squeeze the last bit of warmth and enjoyment from summertime.

A dinner on the patio with the table dressed in cool blues and greens while we soaked up the late sunshine.

A flickering candle set on a pile of collected sea glass that reminds us of days spent wandering the beaches. A jug full of fresh rosemary provides texture and fragrance. And an iron bird stopped by to chirp a friendly hello. Leisurely conversation and good company made this dinner for two special.

Wonderful tablescapes can be found at Between Naps on the Porch where Susan hosts a weekly Thursday Tablescape. Thanks so much, Susan.

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20 Little Things to Love about Fall

Although the calendar still has a few weeks until fall, the beginning of September marks the start of fall for me. Here are 20 little fall pleasures that I enjoy:

1. a changing focus - from outdoors to indoors
2. apples - apple crisp, applesauce, baked apples, apple pie
3. candles - flickering on the breakfast table, or in the evening
4. birthday season for our family - 3 in Sept, 1 in Oct, 2 in Nov
5. the second weekend in October - Thanksgiving for Canadians
6. building fires in the fireplace

7. listening to the rain fall during the night
8. roasted vegetables
9. snuggling under a warm duvet
10. scuffling my feet through crisp leaves
11. dahlias
12. stitching or knitting in the evening
13. fat pumpkins
14. family dinners around the dining room table
15. wearing socks
16. homemade soup
17. sweaters
18. changing colours in the garden
19. sewing
20. blue, blue skies and crisp air

Melissa at Inspired Home is hosting a fall inspiration link. There's sure to be some fabulous ideas there.
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Of Spare Rooms and House Guests

  If you've ever read L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables , you'll remember the importance of the spare room. It was a long-...