Sunday, February 27, 2011

Art Journal - Monday Mosaic

Art journaling is something I like to do, I want to do, but I never seem to get around to actually doing. So I packed colored pencils and a few markers along with the sunscreen and swimsuit on our recent vacation. And I completed these two pages during the week and the week after our return. 

Drawing and coloring is relaxing. I think about the patterns and the colors, and my mind wanders - I puzzle over whatever random questions pop up in my mind, I mull over family situations good and bad, prayer comes often to mind. I think I need to make more time for journaling.

Linking to Monday Mosaics, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House. Each week the mosaics give tiny glimpses of the lives of people around the globe.
Visit -  and enjoy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter's Last Gasp and Weekend Visitors

A cool but sunny day beguiled me into working in the yard last Saturday. I cultivated the herb bed, enjoying the smell of oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary - plants hardy to our area. I felt sure that spring was well on its way.

Wednesday morning saw this system roll in. Heavy snow. And the temperatures have plummeted, meaning the snow has hung around. 

I feel I should qualify "plummeted" for those readers not living on the west coast. It's about -7 Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit), nothing at all like the deep freeze across the Rockies. But it's cold for here. 

I'm not going to be working in the yard this weekend. But that's just fine by me. Adria is coming to visit - and she's bringing her parents. Sweet baby snuggles are in my weekend plans - what about yours?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Royal High Tea

Laura, from Decor to Adore has been doing a weekly focus on the Royal Wedding, coming to a television station near you on April 29. Her posts are fascinating glimpses into facets of royal life and procedure.

She's hosting a blogging tea party today. If you pop over to her site you'll find links to all sorts of wonderful tea parties taking place all over blogland.

I'd like to invite you to tea chez moi. I've set the table with English bone china, from Paragon in the Romance design. 

When I was about 15, my mother, my sister and I were downtown and spied a wonderful collection of teacups. That day, mom told my sister and I to each pick out a pattern. This was mine and I've loved ever since. 

Unfortunately it ceased production quite soon and my pieces are limited. All the pieces I do have - salad plates, tea pot, cream, sugar, tea cups and saucers were gifts from my mother and mother-in-law. All the pieces but one. A friend gave us a cake plate for our wedding.

In keeping with the royal theme, here's the back of the plate showing the coveted "By appointment to H.M. the Queen" warrant on the back.

"Royal warrants are a mark of recognition to individuals or companies who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to H.M. the Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh or HRH the Prince of Wales. Warrants have always been regarded as demonstrating excellence and quality and are highly prized." There are about 850 royal warrants.

Around the time of our marriage I also chose this crystal pattern. I found it at the Hudson Bay Company. It's name is, fittingly, Prince Charles, however I do not know who made it. And like the china, production ceased soon after I started collecting it. 

Since the tea is partially to celebrate the upcoming nuptials, I thought it fitting to place a piece of romantic sheet music under the place.

The linen napkins are vintage, over 50 years old, and a wedding gift to my in-laws. There is small tablecloth to match. I love thinking about the history of linens and dishes and of all the people who have sat around tables enjoying food, conversation, and laughter. 

Let's keep the centerpiece simple - a bouquet of pink roses, in a crystal vase given to me by my husband on our second wedding anniversary. Softly textured roses glowing in the sunshine are the prettiest things.

For a little light entertainment, let's play a word search with all the words having to do with the wedding.

It's often common, around these kind of celebrations, to look at the past and ooh and aah over the bride and groom. I have no photos of the bride's past, but a book of the groom's. 

Here is William's mother, Princess Diana, beautiful and glowing.

William going home from the hospital with his parents.

And of course, there must be good things to eat. How about blueberry scones?

This raspberry meringue roulade is delectable, and there's plenty for seconds.

For tea, let's be sure to have something English, like Twining's Earl Grey. Twining's also holds a royal warrant.

Crystal servers for sugar and milk (not cream and NEVER the powdered chemical stuff) for those who want it.

The best part of this tea table would be the conversation. How fun would that be!

Be sure to check out the links at Decor to Adore.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Texture Mosaic


     Beyond capturing places and events, I like to use my camera to record different layers of the world we live in. Color, certainly, and shape, but also texture add so much to our experience of a place or event. Weather-worn stone, soft pink leaves, tough and rustling palm fronds along with rough tree bark are a few of the textures captured on our recent vacation in Mexico. 

     Touching a photograph is not the same as touching an object, but looking at a photograph triggers memories of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. 

     Painter Andrew Wyeth says, "I search for the realness, the real feeling of a subject, all the texture around it ... I always want to see the third dimension of something ... I want to come alive with the object."

     Linking to Mosaic Monday hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This and That

It's Friday already. This week has zoomed by and I feel like I haven't accomplished a lot. I've been recovering from vacation :). 

These roses, brought home by my sweetheart on Valentine's Day, have inspired a couple of photo shoots. They are opening beautifully and I have plans for more photos. I do love the flexibility of digital cameras - no need to worry about taking too many photos!

Tonight Myrna and her friend Caroline are coming for dinner. They are in Nanaimo for a sewing retreat. I have great plans for sewing more clothes, but I'm not making a lot of progress on that. I keeping telling myself that "there will be time" and for now, finishing my studies is paramount. When I take a break for creativity these days, I'm looking for fairly quick and easy projects.

Myrna has some dietary challenges. While I'm glad I don't have to worry about dairy-soy-corn-gluten free cooking every day, I think of preparing a menu for her as a fun challenge. 

For dessert I found this recipe for Chocolate and Raspberry Financiers (scroll down through the post to find the recipe). I'm usually confident enough at reading a recipe to not worry about a trial run, but this time, I thought I should. The batter has to sit for awhile, so I made it up yesterday and baked just one this morning. I ate it for breakfast. It was wonderful! Hopefully I'll remember to take a photo or two tonight before serving them properly.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a paper this morning (medieval history) while ignoring the scraping noises created by the workman who is repairing the ceiling after we pulled down some walls.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Week - Barely Enough

Our week in Mexico flew by. There is so much to see and do on the Yucatan Peninsula. Tourism is the lifeblood of the economy there. And they do a great job of it. Several people asked if we were nervous about visiting Mexico these days. We felt perfectly comfortable and safe the entire time.

This was not an "adventure" vacation where we were totally independent. We went on an all-inclusive vacation to a resort. We just needed a break, Tim in particular. 

We relaxed, but didn't sit around too much. This was a new part of the world for us to explore! We took a guided tour of Tulum, a late Mayan town perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. 

Our group from the hotel included both Spanish and English speakers and we were told that we would each have a guide speaking our language. Tim and I looked at the large group of English-speakers and the small group of Spanish-speakers and decided to go with the Spanish guide. Puzzled looks resulted. Speaking Spanish again was one of the most fun parts of the vacation.

We climbed a couple of these towers and surveyed the very flat landscape. Beautiful birds live here and it was fun trying to catch glimpses of them.

I didn't take as many photos as I normally do. My camera is a simple point and shoot and I don't have an underwater housing for it. So taking pictures of snorkeling was impossible. 

But snorkel we did - for the first time! Wow! Equipped with life jackets, flippers, masks and snorkels we followed our guide over the reef. It was COLD! After 45 minutes I was hugging myself in the water, swimming with just my flippers, in order to conserve warmth. Several others in our group did the same thing. I declined a second tour over another part of the reef, preferring to stay in the boat and try to warm up. 

What an amazing world there is under the sea. Plants and coral of myriad shapes, colors and sizes. And so many colorful fishes. Truly marvelous. We're hooked on snorkeling.

Another day found us swimming in an underground river system, exploring another beautiful world of stalactites and stalagmites. We weren't permitted to take cameras into the caves. But I took this photo showing part of an underground pool (cenote) in another area of the jungle. 

And now, we're back to real life, but the break accomplished its goal - we're ready to tackle the every day challenges that come our way.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mosaic Monday - Warmth and Color

Today, driving home from Victoria, I was struck by the gray tones in the landscape. The contrast between the cool tones of our island home and the warm brightness of Mexico's Yucatan coastline are striking.

We spent a lovely, restful week away. Our biggest decisions involved choosing what to eat from the buffet and which excursions to take. We read, we swam, we snorkeled, we walked. Mostly, we unwound and relaxed. I took some photos, but not oodles of them. No internet nor email distracted us from our vacation.

A thousand different shades of green punctuated with abrupt color make for a landscape that delights the eye. Set against the clarity of the Caribbean ocean simply adds pleasure.

And now, we're home again, back to the same work, the same studies, the same issues that we faced before leaving. But the break did us a world of good and we'll face each task, each problem, with renewed energy. It's good to "vacate" everyday life from time to time.

I encourage you to visit Mary's Little Red House to see more mosaics that are just like taking a mini-vacation! 

Our Bags are Packed

...for the homeward bound trip.

We've been off enjoying a week in the sun and, Lord willing, will be back today. Looking forward to catching up on my blogging friends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

From the Heart

I like Valentine's Day. Around here it's sweet and understated. I put out my rock hearts - three of them for my three children, each one unique. A bit of lace and a touch of pink finish it off. 

The other day I went through my night table drawer and found a number of Valentines given to me by Tim. And ones that I've given to him. I save them and put them all out the next year. In fact, I have the very first Valentine card he ever gave me, back in college. We don't exchange cards every year but acknowledge the day in a variety of ways.

I like to cook a nice meal for my husband, and eat by candlelight. I might get flowers or I might not. With his current work schedule I'm thinking not, this year. And that's okay. As I've grown older I think I've grown a bit wiser - and lessened my expectations. Love isn't shown by flowers and chocolates, although they are nice, but by coming home every night, sharing dreams and thoughts, and enjoying each other's company. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

An Old-Fashioned Dessert

On a bookshelf downstairs I have, neatly arranged by the month, stacks of Victoria magazines. I think publication began in 1988 or 89, and continued until 2003, then resumed with a different publisher. I'm not so fond of the newer issues. Rather, I find inspiration in the older pages.

Looking through the issue dated January 1995 I was drawn to a page featuring a beautiful dessert. Here's what the author of the article wrote:

"...the choux-pastry ring is a classic mainstay of New Year's Eve celebrations all over France. This praline-flavored cream and almond confection dates from 1891, when a pastry cook decided to make ├ęclairs that looked like the bicycle wheels that raced by his windows. His shop, it seems, was located on the route of the bicycle race between Paris and Brest, a happenstance that gave this sweet treat its quirky name." 

I made a Paris-Brest recently. For anyone who loves cream puffs (as I do), this version takes it up a notch with crushed almond praline folded into the whipped cream. Mmmm good! 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

"When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing - just

 sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or

 waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?"

--Ralph Marston

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Saying Thank You - Tutorial

Recently, when I go on a trip, I like to say a personal thank you to the people whose work I appreciate. Waiters, chambermaids, guides, and drivers do much to make a tourist's vacation pleasant, and a pretty card along with a tip adds a personal touch. 

This fast and easy project could, of course, be easily adapted to saying thank you to anyone.

You'll need:

old greeting cards
cardstock printed on both sides
 8 1/2 x 11 designed paper for your printer
stickers or other embellishment
scissors, glue, or doublesided tape

1.  For some cards I used the fronts off old greeting cards. Just trim the front with scissors or a paper cutter.

2.  For others, cut various sizes of printed cardstock. Suggested sizes include 4 x 6 inches, 6 x 6 inches, 5 x 7, or whatever you like. 

3.  Open a Word document and compose lines saying Thank You, Muchas Gracias, Merci Beaucoup, or whatever line of thanks you want. I used a couple of different fonts, 24 point size, with three dashes before and after the words. Leave space between the lines for cutting.

4.  Print the document on printed paper - I used scrapbooking paper cut to size. Cut the lines apart, then trim as needed and apply to the back of the cardstock or card fronts that you prepared with double sided tape or a gluestick. 

5.  Add embellishments. I kept mine very simple, with stickers. Stamping would add great texture. 

And there you have it. Sweet and simple.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Paper Hearts

When I saw these paper hearts at Jill's blog, I knew I'd be making a few. Book paper and hearts, what's not to love? A few strung together for a simple garland, and one more...

to hang from the dining room chandelier. Decorating for Valentine's Day is always minimal - but these are so sweet. 

Mine are a little smaller than Jill's - it's easy to adjust the size. Here's a link to the tutorial, and another one to see Jill's finished garland. Go on, make one, or two, or a whole string of them. Jill is making a flurry of them to adorn the backs of chairs at her daughter's wedding.

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 ...