Thursday, July 29, 2010

Old Window Frames

Shortly after we got married the idea of using an old window frame for a mirror became popular. My husband's grandparents had lived on a farm back in the bush and the farm was still in the family. One Saturday we drove out to Willow River and poked about the old homestead and the farm. In an old shed we found this window frame and I immediately thought it would make a great mirror. We brought it home, Tim firmed up the joints, we ordered a mirror and it's hung on the wall for years.

Since moving I haven't hung too many things on the walls because we're in the midst of renovations. I sort of dusted off the mirror and propped it for this photo. Then it's back down to the basement until we get some more renos done.

I was quite tickled to find that the old window frame idea is once again (or still) popular. Here are some ideas of what I've seen lately in blogland. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around.

Single Photograph Frame

Black and White Multiple Pane Frame (scroll down through the post)

As an art piece by Teresa Sheeley

Outrageous Ideas including garden dividers, trellis, windscreen

Jewelry Holder, Drying Rack on Old House web

Our daughter and her fiancé drove up last night for an all-too-short visit to do a walk through of the wedding itinerary. It's all coming together very nicely. I made these peach and blueberry parfaits for dessert. Mmmm, cool vanilla custard, sweet juicy peaches and blueberries that pop with goodness. I used my good friend Lynn's recipe, found her on daughter's blog, here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why I Like the Ocean

We were a lake family when I was a child. Vacations were spent camping or fishing near one of the many, many lakes in the British Columbia interior. Visits to the ocean were rare occasions and the sea was a strange, restless unknown.

Our first beach vacation was in 1982, in Ecuador. I was entranced by the miles and miles of sandy beaches and the warm water - water I could actually swim in. As our family grew, yearly or twice yearly trips to the beach became the norm. I enjoy swimming more than Tim does and he would watch the children play in the shallow water or in the sand while I swam further out. I spent long periods of time floating on my back or gently treading water beyond the breakers. Tim kept a careful eye out, sometimes worried about the length of time I spent out there. I loved the solitude. I saw my beloved family on the shore, but I was distant, observing them, not participating in their activities. There, under the brassy blue sky, enveloped in salty brine, lulled by the motion of the waves, I thought, pondered and prayed. Then, tired physically and rested mentally, I swam into shore and joined in splashing games and building sand castles.

As my acquaintance with the sea grew, so did my attraction to it. Here, I find, life's complexities are made simple. I gain a sense of perspective at the beach. Water, rocks, sand, sky. I am awed at a God who created so much beauty. The immensity of it dwarfs my thoughts. The waves rush in, then fall back, and as they do, little pieces of my worries are dragged away with them to be lost in the vast sea. I am emptied. I am filled instead with beauty that seeps deep into my soul, restoring, healing. God shows his love to me in the solace provided by his creation.

Going to the beach is somewhat paradoxical. There is the simplicity of waves and clouds. But there is also intricate complexity and diversity. Tidal pools with sea anemones, mussels clusters, sea kelp trailing long, scurrying crabs, empty shells. It's all there for the looking. The delicate tracery of sea kelp swaying in the current and the fine prints of sea birds in the sand comfort me with order. Life sometimes seems chaotic, random. Observing the details of life along the ocean reassures me that I live in an ordered world, that chaos is of man's making, not God's. And so I turn away from the sea and return to my daily routines, refreshed and restored. The problems do not go away but I find myself better able to deal with them. And I know that the ocean is there waiting for me again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"A man (or woman) should hear a little music,
read a little poetry,
and see a fine picture
everyday of his life, in order that worldly cares may not
obliterate the sense of the beautiful
which God has implanted in the human soul." 

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Perfectly Matched

Thirty-three years ago I married my best friend. He's still that today. We've walked through good times and bad, very good and very bad, with lots of laughter and tears. I think though, that the laughter outweighs the tears.

We're different, we don't always see eye to eye, but we're a good match.

Events prevent us from celebrating our anniversary for a few days. We'll likely do something special next weekend. That's okay. I was so happy to wake up next to my love in the morning and hear his slightly groggy, "Happy Anniversary."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Christmas is Coming

Did you know that there are only 157 days until Christmas? Not that I'm counting, or anything. I looked it up on the world wide web. But I AM getting excited about December's approach.

Isn't he a sweetie? This is our son, age 1. And in December he and his wife will be having their first child, and our first grandchild. I've hugged the news to myself for a few months, but it's time to share. We're all VERY excited! A whole new experience for all of us. I envision cuddles and cries, soft kisses and tiny hands, books and stories and so much more!

2010 is proving to be a year of extremes in our family. Extreme sorrows and extreme joys. Some years pass by with little drama - this one is overflowing with it.

I have lots of ideas of things to make and sew for the new little one, but they are going to have to wait until after our daughter's wedding in September. Speaking of which, I'm off to do a little more beading on the veil. My goal is to finish by the end of July.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I discovered heliotrope when we lived in Ecuador. A small plant purchased for my garden turned into a massive shrub that grew over 5 feet tall. I clipped it back regularly and was rewarded by continual deep purple blooms and the delicious fragrance of vanilla and baby powder wafting in our bedroom window.

Heliotrope is an old plant, common to gardens of years gone by. It went out of vogue for some time, and is now back. It's easy to grow in a container and here in the northern hemisphere is an annual. Its tender leaves can't take the cold. Heliotrope was also known as turnsole, for its habit of turning towards the sun, like a sunflower. (This is how it got its name - helio (sun) trope (turning)

This pot sits on my front steps where the morning sun shines and the afternoon is shaded. I love catching a whiff of it as I walk in and out of the house. Wayne Winterrowd, a garden author wrote that heliotrope gives "the impression...of a perfume bottle unstopped."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Morning at the Beach

Layers of texture in horizontal lines. Incoming tide rolling over sand bars.

Wading to get to a sandy island. Then wading back again as the tide washed over the sand.

A perfect backdrop for my handsome husband.

Canada Geese breakfasting at the shore.

I think our breakfast was better than theirs.

We woke up Sunday morning with the brilliant idea of going to the beach for breakfast. The tide chart encouraged us to hurry. Granola, yogurt, blueberries and a thermos of hot tea were quickly assembled.

It's good to be spontaneous. Our feet caressed the sand. We talked. Blue sky and bluer ocean cleared the mind and filled our souls with beauty. What a loving God created all this for us to enjoy. I think breakfast on the beach will be repeated soon.

I'm linking to Mosaic Monday. Click on over for more wonderful mosaics, slices of life in the blogging world.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blueberry Season

Oooh, these were GOOD! Tender scones with hits of sweet blueberries and a hint of lemon in the glaze. A perfect Saturday morning breakfast with 3-minute eggs alongside.

I said to my husband this morning that it's too bad we're not like bears. There is so much good food around at this time of year, I'd like to eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to store up for the winter and then hibernate. Or at least, not have to eat. I have so many things I'd like to cook right now to take advantage of the seasonal produce.  But each season, even winter, has its menu delights. And I do freeze fruit to use during the winter. We just used up the last of our frozen blueberries and blackberries a couple of weeks ago. 
The recipe is courtesy of Tyler Florence, found via Food Network. My only adaptation was to use about half of the glaze and exchange 1 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. My nod to making these a wee bit healthier. Also, I rarely use unsalted butter. It's just too pricey. 

Blueberry Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 cup all-purpose flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 cup heavy cream, plus a bit more for brushing the scones
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter and cut in with two knives or a pastry blender. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Add the blueberries. Fold everything together just to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Be gentle so as not to crush the blueberries or you will have very BLUE scones.

Pat the dough out onto a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 1 1/4 inch thick. Cut into squares, about 3 inches, then halve the squares to make triangles. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little cream. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool a bit before applying the glaze.

Lemon Glaze

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Combine the lemon juice and icing sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Stir until smooth. Add the lemon zest and butter. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth, then drizzle over the scones. Let set a minute before serving. (if you can wait)

These are delicious - a perfect start to a sunny day!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Epic Renovations...and a LOT of Dust

I was away last week. I left the house more or less clean. I knew some things would have changed by the time I returned...

This is the former laundry room - with the machines already removed.

And this is what I returned to. Progress is being made! We want to change out those busy spindle railings for ones that are more suitable to the house, and less ornate. I loved those spindles in our former house, but here, they just don't work.

There are 90 boxes of hardwood sitting in the garage waiting to replace the green carpet. That day will come, but there's a lot more work to do before that day comes. And I can do so little of it, so I have to be patient and wait.

Remember this post? I painted the dark kitchen this blue colour. But I waited to paint the French doors. I needed to be able to leave them open all day so they could dry. Our hottest weather was last week - when I was away. But yesterday was lovely.


And after. Today, I'm painting more doors. They are all in the basement - bifold closet doors and the door to the new storage room created by Tim. Yep, renovations up and down, all over the place. One positive thing about all this mess is that I don't feel compelled to clean. I tidy things up, and do scrub the bathrooms, but that's about it. No point in vacuuming or dusting. Oh, I might do some on Saturday, once the reno man stops work for the day. We can enjoy a "clean" house on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the basil is flourishing and I picked the first tomatoes yesterday. Just a handful, but oh, so sweet when added to a roasted cauliflower and avocado salad. Summer, I love you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to Eat a Cherry

The short, but oh, so sweet cherry season is here. Juicy and sweet, cherries are one of my favourite summer fruits. It's so hard to choose between cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, oh and peaches and apricots. I love them all and try to enjoy them when they are in season.

The best way to eat a cherry is, of course, fresh. I pop the cherry into my mouth, pull off the stem, bite down and let the juice explode into my mouth. Then I carefully chew around the pit, not wanting to break a tooth for the sake of the sweet goodness.

But there are other ways to eat cherries. Today has been cherry day here. I made cherry jam (wonderful for filling cakes and jelly rolls, or on toast or scones) and also Black Forest Cherry Sauce. These are put away in the cool room downstairs for a taste of summer when the days dull and rain falls.

The sauce is wonderful served on brownies, vanilla cupcakes or ice cream. Chocolate and cherries are a perfect match. You can find the recipe for Black Forest Cherry Sauce by clicking the link to my recipe blog.

For dessert this evening I tried a new recipe from Patricia Wells' The Provence Cookbook. Oh my, it was yummy! Individual cherry gratins, with almonds. I'll be making this one again.

How do you eat cherries?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Across the water, through the mountains and back again

I left home on Tuesday morning, heading to Victoria. Lunch with one daughter, a quick walk downtown with the other, no time to see anyone else. Then on to the ferry and to my parents' home on the mainland. The next day we started out for Alberta. A picnic lunch in a quiet campground with the bluest of skies and warm sun rays was a wonderful break.

Then on through the mountains, admiring the jagged peaks. Every mountain unique and all beautiful.

Dinner in Canmore, and then on to Calgary for the night.

Across the prairies for a couple of hours to Medicine Hat.

I took a walk one evening. The wind blew across the grasses and my skirt swished against my legs. Sky as far as the eye could see. Long shadows of fading sunlight reached across the open expanse. I drank in the beauty until I'd had enough of the pesky mosquitoes.

Our day and a half there was hard as we said goodbye to Colin. It was wonderful to be together as a family (as many as could make it) and the service was a wonderful celebration of his life, and of the faith and trust he placed in God. He was a new police officer and was given a police funeral in spite of the fact that he fell sick during his training, wrote his final exams while undergoing chemotherapy last fall, and never served a day. I know he considered it an honour to be granted this privilege. (He helped plan the service before he passed.)

Then a long, long day's drive, beginning at 5:30 am, back across the prairie, through the mountains, to my parents' home again. A good night's sleep, then a couple of hours to the ferry, an hour an half crossing and I was so glad to be home and see Tim again.

Today is catch-up day - laundry, a bit of cleaning, and buying of groceries. Things should be back to normal around here soon.

Monday, July 05, 2010

A Little Break

My nephew passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus this morning, at home, with his wife and parents at his side.
I'll be taking a break for a week or so. Thank you to all who prayed. So many prayers were answered in the way we wished - a quick end to his pain, the ability to be at home until the end, and many more small details that we are thankful for. Continue to pray for his wife and two small boys, and his parents and siblings, as well as the extended family.

"Underneath are the everlasting arms."

Friday, July 02, 2010

Beading and Thinking

Every day I sit on the couch and spend some time beading. This mini muffin tin is perfect for keeping the beads organized. Still, when the veil is finished I think there will be tiny beads tucked into the couch crevices.
I can only do this fiddly work for about an hour or two before my patience wears thin. The veil is long, so this is going to take awhile. I get about 18 inches done per day. I haven't measured the total length, but I'm pleased with the progress. You can see the original veil here.

We don't want the veil highly embellished because it might detract from the dress. Can't say too much, you know. The Bride was up last weekend and we revisited the dress in the store. Of course, the sample is too big, and clipping the back only accomplishes so much, but she needed to reassure herself about the dress. She is going to be a Beautiful Bride.

A tiny point of stress. The wedding is September 4. The dress is scheduled to arrive August 20. We HOPE the alterations will be minor. I'm praying.

She wanted to feel "bride-ish" when we got home, so she pinned the veil to the back of her head and sat on the couch while we talked, tossing her head once in awhile to feel the veil. So cute.

These are strange days. I sit and do my handwork and think. I think about the events and processes that brought us to this place we're in today. The years in Ecuador, the move to Victoria all seemed good at the time, even though there were the usual difficulties of life. This last year has been a struggle, no question about it, in more ways than I can share.

As I sit and bead my daughter's wedding veil my thoughts turn to my nephew Colin who declines more everyday. I bead for the bright and happy future I pray for my daughter and I think about the sadness of a young life diminishing. God's ways are not my ways, and I must remind myself of that. Life is truly a mixed drink, full to the brim of joyfully sweet moments, bitter disappointments, bewildering grey days, and mellow rhythms. And in all of those moments, God is present.

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...