Thursday, June 30, 2011

Racing Poultry

A couple of weeks ago we received a calendar for the Coombs Fair, which takes place August 13 and 14. Along with the usual events of the fair, this year they will have Chicken and Duck races. Some of the rules include:

* Handler may coax, feed, talk, chase, cajole their entry.
( I can just imagine the cacophony on the course)

* Any entry that lays an egg on the course will be disqualified.
( Will the egg be confiscated by the race officials? If a chicken can lay an egg and still go on to win the race, shouldn't that be a cause for greater celebration? - or is laying an egg too distracting for the other competitors? - Inquiring minds want to know.)

* Entries must run barefoot or have footwear approved by Race Committee.
( Poultry in racing sneakers would be a sight to see! )

* Entries must be of good moral character.
( How does one determine the moral character of a duck? Can other ducks speak up? Do the chickens need character references? )

These rules bring up so many questions in my mind. Have you ever been to a chicken or duck race? I'm thinking this might be something to put on the calendar.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Road Trip

Under blue and sunny skies Tim and I drove down to Maple Bay where we met friends from Victoria for a stroll through the marina and lunch. 

The center photo is of a street of float houses - houses built to stay on the water. Of course, there's no yard to maintain, but most of the homes had decks with pots of flowers and herbs. The marina is a busy one with boats coming and going. Looking at where the moored boats are registered is like a mini geography lesson - Alberta, Nunavat, Washington, Arizona, and more. Tall masts reach to the sky as the boats bob gently at their moorings. The blue heron took care to stay just ahead of us, but he didn't seem too concerned otherwise.

Lunch at the marina? Fish, of course:  panko-crumb battered cod, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and green salad. And just a few french fries from Tim's plate. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted once again by Mary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ta-da! The Kitchen Reveal

As my readers know, we've been doing some major renovations on this house since we moved in 14 months ago. And now, the biggest part is done. Finished. Over with. And we're relieved. So, here are some before and afters.

This is the before and after view from the front door. We took out the french doors to the dining room, and eliminated the upper wall between the kitchen and dining room (to the left).

Here's the before and after view from the other side of the kitchen. New countertops, which are Formica (Arborite) with a Corian edge. The same cabinets, painted. The tops are white, the bottoms gray. 

New kitchen sink. Under counter lighting is so nice for ambiance in the evening, and for task lighting. I really like this sink. It's by Kindred, and is a composite material. 

The tile backsplash really lights up the kitchen, too. Most of the tiles are 8 x 13 ceramic with some accents of the glass and stone mosaic. 

View from the kitchen sink towards the front door. You can see the dining room here. Before we took out that upper wall, the kitchen was enclosed. It's in the center of the house, without windows. Now I can be a part of what's going on. When we have guests, I can be working in the kitchen at this counter, essentially an island, and still converse. Which is a good thing, because I hate to miss anything.

One of my favorite features are the pulls we chose. I chose them for their looks, but now that they are installed I love them even more. They stand out from the cabinets further than most pulls. This means that when I open the doors, I never touch the cabinet surface. I'm sure this will help keep the cabinets clean. 

Another view of the kitchen. I wanted some open shelving for displaying my pottery from Ecuador, Spain and Vietnam (the teapot - a gift). I think the shelves enable me to add some bright color into the room, which is otherwise quite neutral.

And another view. We installed a sun tube in the center of the kitchen ceiling which adds even more light. Pot lights around the perimeter of the ceiling make this a pleasant place to work. The shelf on the island is wood, in a similar finish to the stair handrail adjacent to it.

What do I like best about this kitchen? The airiness, light and open feeling. I'm happy to be there cooking up delicious things for whom ever might stop by. So if you're in the neighborhood, let me know!

Now, I've said "we" throughout this post. Really, the work was done by my wonderful, talented, hardworking husband. He has a more than full-time job and yet has plugged away on this project in the evenings and on weekends. It was more involved than we had anticipated and we're just glad it's done. Now we're going to enjoy summer!

I'm linking this to a kitchen party at Modern Country Style.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer's Here!

It's time to wade in the water...

eat fresh and summery foods ...

nibble on berries made juicy and sweet by the sun

and explore new tastes and textures ... 

The first day of summer here is overcast and not very warm. But surely things will change. We're hoping so! 

How are you marking the first day of summer?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

So Thankful for Dads

I'm so thankful for these men in my life
 - my Dad, constant in love, faithful in prayer, and fun to be with 
- my husband, wonderful in every way
- my son, just beginning the journey of fatherhood.

This photo was taken in early January when Grandbaby girl was so new. It's one of my favorites.

Happy Father's Day! I thank God for each one of you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

Emily Dickinson

Often on my walks I find a feather or two. Gull feathers on the beach, white and gray. Long, glossy black crow feathers near the woods close to our home. Not long ago I noticed these two hawk feathers and picked them up.

I like having bits of nature in my home and my pockets frequently contain a rock, a seashell, an intriguing twig, a pine cone, or, as in this case, a feather. I put them into little dishes and admire them, rotating the displays as whimsy dictates.

Whenever I find a feather, I'm reminded of the above lines from Emily Dickinson. And I'm reminded of the things I most hope for. I know people with huge hurts and I have hopes for them that are hard to express. So I'm reminded of lines from another writer, Ellis Peters, author of the Brother Caedfael mysteries. 

" He prayed as he breathed, forming no words and making no specific requests, only holding in his heart, like broken birds in cupped hands, all those people who were
 in stress or grief."

And when there are no words, this is how I pray, trusting God to mend, restore, and renew.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

J'ai descendu dans mon jardin - I went down to my garden

... and found the first rose
This is a climbing variety, still in a pot since I've not finished digging all the beds.
But, oh, how wonderful to see it.



tomatoes mingling with daisies,

chamomile blooming in a pot, 

and the promise of more roses. 

Around February, I suggested to my husband that we put up a fence BEFORE finishing the kitchen renovation. I'm sure he thought he was hearing things. 

We went ahead with the fence and I'm so glad we did. We now have a private yard and a garden safe from the marauding deer. In fact, we rarely see signs of deer anymore whereas before they used our front lawn as their bathroom stop. Even though the front is still open, they don't come through often.

My vegetable garden is not organized in neat rows or squares. I've usurped the flower beds and have planted a few lettuces in a border, beanpoles among the escallonia, tomatoes alongside daisies - wherever I could find some space. Maybe next year we'll put in proper beds. For now, I'm just glad to be able to potter about my yard.

The kitchen reno is nearly completion as well, and then we'll be free to enjoy our yard to the full!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mosaic Monday - Wild Roses

Just above the rocky tide line at the beach grow tangles of wild rose bushes. I've been watching them for awhile, waiting for the first blossoms. The flowers don't last long, but their delicate scent is one I remember from childhood. I clipped them then, and brought them home to place in a jar of water where they soon wilted. Now, older, and wiser, I hope, I leave them alone. The fleeting beauty of wild roses is delicate and must be enjoyed in place, where the bushes grow. 

As we rinsed our sandy feet off with the garden hose at home, someone spotted this tiny frog on a rhododendron leaf. He blends in beautifully, another marvel of creation.

We had company again this weekend. Sweet grandbaby and her parents, and our youngest daughter and her husband. I caught the baby in a pensive mood while out on a walk this afternoon. We are so blessed that our children come up to see us often - I treasure each visitor as a gift.

Linking once again to Mary's wonderful mosaics at the Little Red House.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Words to Inspire

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
   a wise person draws from the well within. 

Proverbs 20:5

Friday, June 10, 2011

Smores Cookies

I found these delectable looking treats via Pinterest. Yes, yet another computer time gobbler. However, in the end, if I discipline myself well, it just might save me time. 

I tend to bookmark all kinds of things, but rarely take the time to organize them. And then looking over my bookmarks, I sometimes forget what I bookmarked them for. With Pinterest, it's easy to categorize the things that catch my eye. And since I'm such a visual person, using pictures instantly reminds me why I wanted to remember that particular site. 

Anyway ... I found these treats. So I made them today. They are good. Not spectacular, but good. Cookies with marshmallows and chocolate chips on graham wafers topped by chocolate. Not much can go wrong with that. And I like the hint of cinnamon in the recipe. It adds another layer of flavour. These were easy to make. 

edited to add: I think I'll upgrade this recipe to very good judging by the reactions from others who have tried them. I guess I'm not the best judge of cookies since I'd rather have a handful of potato chips!

Smores Cookies - found here originally (recipe slightly adapted)

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
3 Hershey Bars, cut into pieces (I used dark chocolate - there are 16 rectangles in each bar)
48 graham wafer squares

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment paper. I used two cookie sheets (ones with sides). Lay out graham wafer squares side by side - they should be touching. Set aside.

Cream butter with sugar, add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. 

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the creamed mixture, combining well. Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Place 1 to 1 1/2tablespoon of dough onto each graham wafer square. Press down slightly with fingertips. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and press one rectangle of chocolate onto each square. Bake an additional 5-7 minutes or until dough is beginning to turn golden. Cool, then break apart, cutting if necessary. 

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Playing Tourist

There was a boat show in Nanaimo last weekend. I wasn't too interested, but Tim was. So we went in to town together and while he poked about boats, 
I wandered through the streets of Nanaimo, a city I've never explored at all.

The building above is the Bastion - built by the Hudson Bay Trading Company in 1853. Built as a defensive structure and never used as such, it's played many roles over the years - general store, jailhouse, museum, arsenal, and club house.

Currently a museum, it pays tribute to those first Europeans who came to the area. I can imagine a woman carefully packing this trunk, choosing which of her treasured possessions to take far away from England. The first pioneers took a 6-month ocean journey around Cape Horn to arrive here. 

It's fascinating to think of the people who have sipped tea from these cups. I'm sure these pretty things were well cared-for by their owner.

Not too far away stands this modern version of the Bastion - the sea plane terminal in Nanaimo Harbour. People still come and go from here, in faster, more comfortable travel modes. But people, in general haven't changed much in 150 years. Women still like pretty dishes and sharing cups of tea with friends. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Little Things

Yesterday,  my husband walked in the house after work bearing two branches of beautiful, fragrant lilacs. He knows how much I love the flowers and gathered these blossoms from a bush on his work property.

I've never seen lilacs like these before - with each petal edged in white. Some sort of hybrid, maybe? Their delicious scent wafts through the house like a sweet cloud.

And ... two beautifully scented bookmarks arrived from Brenda at It's a Beautiful Life. I always have a number of books on the go, and I'm really trying to use bookmarks instead of ... ahem ... turning down the corners. I finished Thackeray's Vanity Fair yesterday, and am beginning Dickens' Bleak House

Little things - lilacs, bookmarks - but both immensely thoughtful gestures that serve to remind me that it's the little things that combine, in layers, to create love and community.

What are the little things that mean a lot in your life?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Life's Loveliness

"Life has loveliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things ..." Sara Teasdale Summer's here! We've had a weekend of warmth and sunshine.
I walked on the beach in bare feet
on sand warmed by the sun,
waded in tidal pools that felt like bathwater
and let the waves lap against my legs.
Starfish come in various colors. On this side of Vancouver Island the most common color is
purple. One theory I've heard is that their diet affects their color. 
These are ochre star, or pisaster ochraceus
When we walk the beach at low tide, we often see
clusters of starfish huddled together in tangled masses under rocks.
Others are left stranded by the tide on the beach. 
These we throw back into the water so they don't dry out.
The tops of the starfish are leathery feeling, and highly textured.
Joining in another Monday Mosaic hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Making a Summer Checklist

Today, Rebecca Sower posted her Summer Checklist, which inspired me to make one of my own. It hardly feels like summer yet, with rain and cloudy skies dominating the landscape. However, the temperatures are warming ever so slowly, and we are being promised sunshine and warmth for the weekend. We'll see.

In good faith, here is my Summer Checklist:

wade in the ocean
read outdoors while sipping something cool
make homemade jam
go camping
pick blueberries/raspberries/strawberries
visit the farmer's market regularly
make (and eat) fruity popsicles
breakfast on the beach
make pesto with basil
eat outdoors as much as possible
sew a summer dress, or two
eat a warm tomato off the vine
blow bubbles on the lawn
finish my degree

These photos are both from two summers ago - before we moved. I'm hoping to get a few roses this year, here, but the bushes are brand new. Likewise with the hydrangeas. 

So, what's on YOUR summer checklist?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Step by Step

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another one."
C.S. Lewis

"Do the next thing." 
from an Anglo Saxon poem

There is a path ahead, but I can't see it clearly. Instead, all that's given to me is the next step. Then the next one. And little by little, each step makes up a life.

The next step is another essay. Word by word. Step by step. With some breaks here and there to enjoy the beach, read a few blogs, cook something delicious.

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-...