Thursday, March 31, 2011

White Tissue Paper and Pink Ribbon

Susanne had a giveaway a few weeks ago and I won! Today a parcel landed in my mailbox. I was patient and took photos before opening the packages. Everything is so prettily wrapped. I thought about just waiting and enjoying the packages as is, but that thought soon dissolved.

Isn't this button bouquet sweet? 

A journal to record lovely thoughts, an ingenious use of an old book spine - as a bookmark, a blue and white teacup, blue hydrangeas, and what could be wrapped in that handkerchief?

This necklace! I love the old key surrounded by charms. Old keys remind me of my grandparents' home on the farm. I don't actually know what kind of key opened the house, but this key seems like something that would fit there.

And all those dainty birds. Each one has a separate wing glued on. I love almost anything made from old book paper, and these fill me with delight.

Susanne has an Etsy shop as well as a blog, where she sells vintage and vintage inspired bits and pieces. 

Thank you, Susanne.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Return of the Light

Last week I felt a lightness in the air. It was as if winter said, "I give up," and began folding her things in preparation to leave. Spring is moving into the neighborhood, one daffodil at a time. 

Late one afternoon I noticed the sun shining through the windows, making rainbows on the mantel, and snapped a couple of photos. This simple shot pleases me. Strong shadows. Hints of color in the light. 

Spring is capricious around here, one day warm and friendly, the next moody and stand-offish. But for now, there are daffodils. There is light. I am learning to be content.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday Mosaic

On Saturday night, the doorbell rang as Tim was looking for a movie to watch that evening. He opened the door to find our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter on the doorstep, bearing pizza and early birthday wishes. He was surprised and happy. I had pretended to putter around making dinner in the kitchen, knowing that pizza was on the menu. 

Today around noon, the doorbell rang again. Our two daughters and their husbands stood on the doorstep wishing their father a happy birthday. His birthday is tomorrow, Monday.

It's a good thing he's not overly observant around the kitchen. I had cooked enough food for the 8 of us as he wandered in and out, not suspecting anything. We laughed, chatted, went for a short walk, enjoyed being together, and celebrated the blessing that Tim is to all of us, as husband, father and grandfather.

For more mosaics, visit Mary at the Little Red House.

Words to Inspire

"See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

Matthew 6: 28-30

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Before. The hedge along the street - chewed down by deer. The mesh along the deck - attempts to keep the deer from chewing the escallonia (with the poles broken by the winter snow). 

This WAS our yard until today. Everything we grew had to be deer proof. But they will eat almost anything - the only things they've missed are the rhododendrons, the lavender, and the rosemary (and small herbs). 

Here's the far corner of the yard. You can see where the deer have eaten the cedar hedge, and they walk right through it. We'll be putting up mesh along there to keep them out. The chairs look a little forlorn - it's been too wet and cold to think about being out in the yard. 

After. Dear Deer, you are graceful and pretty. But you eat everything in sight. Now I'll be happier to see you walk by my yard as you forage.  

Our friendly contractor finished the fence today. The gate is hung. Last night I had a hard time going to sleep because I was so excited about gardening possibilities. Hydrangeas. Roses. Oh, I can hardly wait. Good fences really do make good neighbors when there are deer in the vicinity.

We'll be painting the fence once the weather warms up. In the meantime, I'll be planning, digging holes, and cleaning up. Bring on spring!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Simple Gifts

A couple of weeks ago I gave a friend a pillow I'd made. Instead of wrapping it in paper, or putting it into a box, I made a simple gift bag from painter's canvas (leftover from my drapes), tied with a strip of toile fabric, and finished off with a felted wool flower pinned to the knot.

I've made a lot of these flowers. They go together quickly. I like using felted sweaters I pick up at the thrift store. The tutorial I used is one created by Betz White, author of a couple of books and designer of so many pretty things.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mosaic Monday - Names for Things

We've had visitors the past four weekends - each of our children and their spouses, plus one set of friends. And oh, it's been wonderful! Gut-busting laughter, meal times askew, cozy moments indoors and crankiness-clearing walks outdoors. So who's coming next weekend?

The Super Moon, more correctly called the Lunar Perigree, seen on Saturday night, caused the highest tides of the month. At low tide on Sunday afternoon we walked along the beach. 

A great screech of gulls, seen as white dots in the photo, feasted on the roe left behind by an army of herring who left their roe clustered onto the seaweed that washed up onto shore. 
Gulls were not alone in enjoying the herring. Every big rock had an eagle perched on top. On the large rock in the photo, an impassive convocation of eagles surveyed the scene.

Thank you to Mary for hosting Mosaic Monday

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Words to Inspire

"But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds."
Psalm 73:28

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dispelling Crankiness

I try to keep my blog a reasonably happy place. But some days are just harder than others. Today was one of those days - and for no particular reason. There's a host of things running through my mind these days, things that usually need thinking about around 3 am. So, I woke up, from too little sleep, feeling cranky. 

My creative bent is being consumed by studies but I decided I needed to take myself in hand, and bought a few tropical plants for this terrarium given to me by my daughter a few years ago. I hadn't changed out the decor in it Christmas. Now it sits prettily on my mantel, living green and a spot of color. 

Crankiness is being dispelled, slowly. Our youngest and her hubby are coming up for the weekend and that will surely dispel ALL crankiness.

Have a thoroughly UNcranky weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nut Crusted Little Qualicum Brie Cheese Salad

In the comments to my post a few days ago, a couple of people asked about the cheese and the salad. I've made this salad quite often for a number of years and don't even know where the inspiration for it came from. It's simple and tastes so good, the creamy cheese melting against the crunchy nuts with a slight buttery taste offset by the crisp greens. Really, there's little to improve on.

As far as a recipe goes, it's very loose: 

Set out three small bowls. In one place a couple of tablespoons of flour, in another one beaten egg, and in the third, some chopped nuts. These could be almonds (as above), pecans or walnuts. Hazelnuts might be good, too. 

Cut the Brie cheese into wedges, not too thick. The last time I served this I used thicker wedges and I think I prefer the thinner ones - the ratio of crust to cheese is better.

Coat the wedges with flour, then egg, then nuts. I use one hand for the flour, the other for the eggs and nuts. It's a little messy, but the end result is well worth the effort. Place the wedges on a plate and chill them, if you like, up to 4 or 5 hours. They can also be cooked immediately, but it's nice to do this ahead. 

Melt a little butter in a small skillet and when it's hot, almost browning, add the cheese wedges. Quickly sauté them on each side. They should sizzle a little and the cheese will begin to ooze. Place them on a plate of greens that has been drizzled with your choice of salad dressing - raspberry vinaigrette is good. And, if it's berry season, add some raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries to the salad. But really, this salad is all about the cheese.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rainy Day Thoughts

I lie in my warm bed, lulled by the rain drumming steadily on the ensuite skylight. I pull the quilt up closer and roll over. My husband's steady breathing accompanies my thoughts. 

I think of people in far off countries, Japan, Libya, New Zealand, Bahrain - those suffering enormous loss and terror. I think of how broken this world is. And while thinking and praying for those who hurt, I wonder about my own response. My prayers and donations seem so insignificant in the face of such devastation. What can I do?

I've been pondering this lately and here's what came to me--

* Be thankful for what I have been given.
* Remember.
* Pray. Give.
* Extend grace.
* Be aware.
* Live each day to the full.
* Keep short accounts.
*Laugh til it hurts.
* Say "I love you." Often.
* Be prepared.

Several years ago I put together an earthquake/emergency kit. I've never used it, but try to update it every year or so. Living in a developing country for many years taught me the necessity of keeping basic supplies on hand. 

I look at the recent earthquakes: New Zealand, Japan. And I look at my location on the globe. It could so easily happen here. Could we survive for a week or so without the infrastructure we all depend upon? 

This week I updated my earthquake kit. I keep it in the front hall closet, accessible in an emergency. Water, and other supplies are scattered throughout the house, but this box would keep us going for a few days. 

Be thankful. Be prepared. Give and pray. There's little else I can do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Visiting the Farm

Back in September, I wrote a post about the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, just 10 minutes by foot from our home. We visited the farm again this weekend, with friends from Washington. 

It's springtime at the farm - there were several brand-new-to-the-world baby animals to admire. The tiny lamb above stayed very close to her mother. An imperious llama stared me down, while the little goat, intent on munching delicious, crunchy hay, ignored me.

The cheese being made yesterday was Brie. I brought a wheel home with me, then encrusted wedges in finely chopped almonds, gave them a quick sauté in butter and placed them on a bed of greens. What a great salad. 

Little Qualicum cheeses are available in many of the grocery stores on Vancouver Island. It's fun to shop local, and how much more local can this be? 

Linking once again to Mary's Mosaic Monday, at the Little Red House. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

For Today...

Outside my window ... wind hurling rain against the house, trees tossing madly

I am thinking ... too much

I am thankful for ... hot tea, warm house, good conversations, life's possibilities

I am learning ... life's adventures never end

In the kitchen ... spinach stuffed eye of round roast, quinoa, roasted broccoli, carrot sunflower salad, baked apples with crème anglaise (company for dinner)

I am wearing ... black cords, eggplant top, cream cardigan

I am going ... to town to drop off boxes at the thrift store and buy a few groceries - when the rain stops

I am reading ... Western Europe in the Middle Ages

I am hoping ... in the character of God, for dreams to be fulfilled

I am hearing ... wind outside, and the hum of my electric heater beside me inside, along with the clack of the keyboard

One of my favorite things ... the pot of hyacinths that remind me that spring is coming soon
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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Beach Mosaic

A lovely, mellow weekend included a Sunday morning walk on the beach with our eldest daughter and her husband. Skies that shifted from cloud to sun accompanied a sharp wind, making us glad for hats, gloves and turned-up collars. 

Seagulls, Pacific Black Brant geese, and red-beaked Oystercatchers were our only company for most of the time. We studied shells, picked our way through rocks, traversed creeks, and enjoyed the brisk air. With the wind at our backs and faintly warm sunshine on our faces, we turned homeward, replete with the "solace of nature." 

I composed the first mosaic with the help of my computer. This second creation is that of the Creator himself, using the wind and waves; bits of flotsam and jetsam thrown together in a melange of texture and color. 

I'm linking once again to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House. This week she has a giveaway - so pop on over, and be sure to click on at least a few of the mosaic links.

Walls of Stone

                                                                                                                          (Tulum, Mexico, Feb 2011)

With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
Psalm 18:22

                                                                                            (near the Pont du Gard, France, 2007)

May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.
Psalm 122:7

Friday, March 04, 2011


Five days each week I receive an email from A.Word.A.Day, which contains a word, its definition, usage and a quotation. This week, the theme is words borrowed from German. I don't think I'd heard of even one.

I was tickled by one word - siztfleisch (you can read the etymology below). In English we would say, "stick-to-it-ive-ness" which in itself is not a word. When I mentioned this word on my Facebook page, my mother, who grew up in a German-speaking home, said that her father told his children that "sitzfleisch" was lacking. A cousin said that her father would say this to her at the dinner table. 

Whether in English or German, I've been applying the concept this week to my studies. I have a goal for finishing my degree that going to require some serious "sitzfleisch" to accomplish. That, combined with lots of welcome weekend company has cut into my blogging and photography time. 

Sitzfleisch, in the sense of "sitting out a problem - ignore it long enough in the hope it will go away" is also becoming my attitude towards the weather around here lately. Snow, rain, sun, wind, frost, slush, hail - you name it, we've had it this week. So I'll apply sitzfleisch to waiting out the winter.

This morning when I put out the recycle containers, I noticed a small cluster of color underneath a tree. I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots. These pretty little irises brightened up my day. Did you notice the stem in the front growing up through a dead leaf? Now that's sitzfleisch!


(SITZ-flaish, ZITS-) 
1. The ability to sit through or tolerate something boring.
2. The ability to endure or persist in a task. 

[From German Sitzfleisch, from sitzen (to sit) + Fleisch (flesh). Earliest documented use: Before 1930. 

Sitzfleisch is a fancy term for what's commonly known as chair glue: the ability to sit still and get through the task at hand. It's often the difference between, for example, an aspiring writer and a writer. Sometimes the word is used in the sense of the ability to sit out a problem -- ignore it long enough in the hope it will go away. 

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