Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tides of Change

After a day at my desk, I went out around mid-afternoon to pick up a few groceries. On the way home, while sitting at a red light, I glanced over and noticed the tide was coming in, but there was still plenty of beach left.

And so, I rushed home, threw the perishables in the fridge and went to the beach. 

Late afternoon sunlight slanted across the water. A few solitary walkers and sea gulls were the only other creatures there. 

I walked, then stood for awhile in the shallow water, feeling the waves lap against my ankles. The tide encroached upon the sand, little by little. And I thought about summer's end, how I don't want it to leave, yet I know it's inevitable. 

The beach has treasures year round. A perfect mussel shell. Rocks round and smooth. The vast ocean. 

And a reminder that change is coming. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

All the Way from France

Do you read Sharon's blog My French Country Home? She writes from her home in France - about her family, her horses, cooking, the brocante (flea market) and more. Her photos are gorgeous.

Not too long ago she held a giveaway - and I won this vintage French grain sack. It arrived recently, while we had guests. They, along with my husband, wondered why on earth I would want an old burlap sack.

For so many reasons - it's from France! (and they laugh) And the little fleur-de-lis symbol. And what I love most of all is imagining how its been used - over and over again. See the mending on the sack? There are several spots like that - a reminder of a time when people mended instead of throwing away. I like that. (although I dislike mending) 

And then the question - what will you do with it? I'm not sure yet. There are some ideas floating around in my head - you know that whatever I do, I'll blog about it.

Thank you, Sharon - I'm thrilled to have won! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

What are the Chances?

Memory is an odd thing. Or at least, mine is. I might forget what I went to the store for unless I rehearse the list in my mind or write it down. 

But I took a British Country Living magazine out of the library recently and thought the front cover photo looked familiar. Well, maybe that was because I'd seen it in Marie-Claire Idées, in the September 2009 issue, seen above.

Here's the cover of Country Living, March 2010. C'est intéressant, n'est-ce pas?

I looked at the publication information, and Country Living is part of the massive Hearst conglomerate, but Marie-Claire is not. 

Anyone in the publishing business out there? How often does this happen? Do magazines often sell photos/articles to each other? Or the photographer? I know that in writing articles, a certain time period has to pass before one can resell an article to another publication - if you've retained the rights to do so.

Regardless, I like the plates on the wall. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Summer has fully arrived, just in time to start saying farewell. A Sunday afternoon drive took us to Loon Lake, also known as Summit Lake, just off the Alberni Highway near Cathedral Grove. 

We ate our picnic lunch beside the lake, then hiked around the lake, enjoying water, mountains, ferns, and trees. 

We noticed a number of trees with scars on them. The First Nations people harvest bark for making baskets from these trees and know how to remove just the right amount so as not to damage the tree.

After hiking most of the way around the lake we realized that the trail was taking us away from where we needed to go. And there was a swampy creek to get around. A little bushwacking brought us to this tree, fallen right across the swamp/creek, about 10 feet above it. Tim sauntered across with little concern - I walked across very slowly, hanging on to spindly tree branches, which didn't provide me with much help, except in my mind.

The lake teemed with life. Red salamanders swam in the shallows, a heavy-bodied fish dragged around the skeleton of a small trout, and these water bugs skittered across the surface. The black teardrop shapes are the shadows of the bug's feet on the bottom of the lake. 

Summer might be drawing to a close but we'll enjoy the sunny days 
while we can.

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary. This week Mary's site has some gorgeous photos of her visit to Alcatraz.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Delicious Summer

Thank you for all the suggestions on what to do with the bounty of crookneck squash. Tonight for dinner I combined it with red onions, green beans, chicken broth, then finished it with a little balsamic vinegar and basil. It was delicious.

I've made cherry clafoutis and peach clafoutis, but never blueberry clafoutis. That changed tonight. Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. Combined with a light eggy batter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar - delectable.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today in the Garden

I harvested the first ripe Early Girl (I think) tomato. Enough green beans to freeze 2 small packages for soup. One cucumber. A few cherry tomatoes.

And a LOT of squash. I thought I planted yellow summer squash - like zucchini, but instead I have this crookneck squash that has a taste and texture that is a cross between summer squash and winter squash. I like it, but I'm running out of ways to cook it. Any ideas out there?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Sleepover at Nana's

It would be easy to turn this into a baby blog, but then most of my readers would lose interest. But Adria's first sleepover requires at least a passing mention. While her parents enjoyed their anniversary in a local resort, Nana and Grandpa looked after baby. She was an utter delight. Happy, smiling, charming us with smiles and crawling antics. I'm looking forward to many more grandbaby sleepovers!

In addition to grandbaby, good friends came to spend the weekend. Don and Phyllis are the friends we've had for the longest length of time (as opposed to our oldest friends - which could be taken two ways.) On Saturday afternoon, grandbaby's parents took her for a couple of hours and we took our guests to Englishman River Falls for a short hike. 

Cool green water, warm sunshine, earthy forest smells - all delightful.

On Sunday afternoon grandbaby's parents plus our eldest daughter and her husband joined us for lunch. Our children think of Don and Phyllis and their family as uncle, aunt and cousins. They fulfilled that role in our lives for 21 years in Ecuador. 

Sunday afternoon the children left for home. Monday morning, I drove Don and Phyllis to the ferry. I did a little shopping, then came home and tried to study. Instead, I took a nap. It was wonderful! There's a reason why babies are for the younger set. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beautiful Day, Beautiful Couple

Five years ago, our family gathered to celebrate love and commitment. 
It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding.

Our little family then. Families change over time, growing with love. Sometimes, it's hard not to look back and yearn over those days. But life moves on, bringing even more joy, and yes, difficulties, too. 

The groom in this photo had a little biking accident on the way home from work this week. He's now wearing, in place of a tux, an immobilizer, to help his newly RE-located DIS-located shoulder heal. 

Happy Anniversary, Katie and Travis!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This and That, Here and There

Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mom! While they were here earlier in the week, I baked a cake and we sang to her. Doesn't she look great? And my dad, too. Mom is 75 today, and young at heart.

After the cake, we drove out to Cameron Lake, just in time ...

... to see the sunset! It's coming earlier and earlier, and we know what THAT means. But we won't talk about it, not yet.

In other news, when Tim comes home from work on the days I bake bread, there's usually one crust missing, sometimes, ahem, two of them. How can that have happened? Is there anything better than warm bread with butter? It's one of life's little pleasures.

I'm getting ready for more house guests this weekend. Good friends from Ecuador days, eldest daughter and husband driving up to spend the day on Sunday, plus - Nana is looking after Adria this weekend while her parents have a little anniversary getaway. Fun times ahead!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In Veronica's Garden

"How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun." 
Vincent Van Gogh

I'm not usually a fan of yellow flowers, but lately I've been drawn to their sunny nature. When we visited Milner Gardens on Sunday, the yellow flowers seemed to say, "Here I am - notice me." 

I read the book about Veronica and her life shortly after we moved here. Pondside recommended it to me. I find that knowing more about the places I visit gives me a greater context and more enjoyment.

There's an area cordoned off for a vegetable and berry patch and in it is the Children's Garden. School children come and plant flowers and vegetables. Throughout the Children's Garden are tiny rubber boots filled with flowers. Utterly charming.

This loose arrangement of flowers, some wild, some planted, sat on the weathered, 17th century refectory table in the dining room. Most, if not all, of the furniture in that room is 17th Century English. The house is open to visitors, and tea is served in the living room and former library, the walls still lined with full bookshelves.

I think of the miles the furniture has traveled, and the many people who have sat at the table, laughing, crying, discussing, arguing, loving. 

I sat myself down in one of the chairs, this one carved with 1649, and let my mind wander, for a few seconds, over time and history, thinking of all this chair  might have experienced or heard, had it mind and ears.

Strolling through Veronica's Garden - a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Just one more thing - this vine clings to a wall on the gardener's cottage. There was no tag to identify it, and I'm wondering if any of my readers might know its name. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Willing Hands

Front doors are like first impressions. For too long the front entrance to our home has perhaps said something different than what we'd like. This weekend we started to remedy that. Above is the color of the door BEFORE. It was dented and the reddish marks you see are fill.

And here is the AFTER - from blue to mellow gray. Now the door matches the eaves-trough. 

It's not often that you can invite guests to do yard work. But thanks to my parents, this section of the front yard (and more along the side) looks neat and tidy. Weeding, trimming, cutting and laying landscape fabric, adding bark mulch and sweeping it all clean - that's what my wonderful parents did this morning.

I'm not much of a fan of bark mulch. But in this area, it's the best solution. And it will keep the deer out of the rhododendrons - they don't eat rhodos, but they crash through the bushes looking for weeds they do eat. Oh those deer!

Max Eastman said, "A smile is the universal welcome."  We do welcome visitors here, and now I think the front yard is beginning to crack a smile.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In a Garden

Milner Gardens is labeled "An ancient forest and garden oasis by the sea." It was a beautiful place for a Sunday afternoon stroll with my parents, visiting from the mainland.

The gardens are a combination of natural forest, some of it old growth, with trees estimated to be over 500 years old, and planted beds. Rhododendrons tower like trees, ferns cluster thickly in the undergrowth, and hydrangeas add delicate color.

Tim and I visited the gardens last December, but only the lighted section. This visit was much more extensive. It's a restful, calming place, full of peace and quiet beauty. 

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

Words to Inspire

"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them.
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand."

Psalm 139: 17-18a

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little Golden Fruits

Two apricot trees grew beside the house I grew up in. They were not very big, but every summer they yielded bowls and bowls of little golden fruits which my mother made into jam, platz, and upside down cakes. 

This tart is another way to enjoy the flavor-packed globes of summer. I found it on the Epicurious website. It's not very sweet, in fact, some of the reviewers  found it too tart. I adjusted the recipe slightly from the original. My personal reviewer thought it was just perfect! But then, he usually does.

Apricot Tart

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons finely ground almonds
1 1/2 cups flour

2 additional Tablespoons ground almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the melted butter and the sugar in a medium bowl. Add the extracts, salt, first amount of almonds and the flour. Stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Transfer the dough to the pan. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and sides of the pan. Sprinkle the additional 2 Tablespoons of ground almonds over the bottom.

Bake 15 minutes. (I placed the tart pan on a baking sheet before sliding it into the oven.)


1/2 cup heavy cream 
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used 2 %)
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon flour sifted with 1 Tablespoon icing (powdered) sugar

About 1 1/2 pounds fresh apricots, pitted and halved (do not peel)

icing sugar for garnish

Combine the cream, yogurt, egg yolks, extracts and honey in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the flour/icing sugar mixture. Pour gently over the pastry in the pan. Place the apricot halves, cut sides up, in concentric circles around the pan, slightly overlapping them.

Bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with icing sugar. Cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar again just before serving.

Best served warm, although I put a slice in the microwave for 10 seconds and am eating it as I write this. Slightly tart, a crust with a hint of chew, creamy filling! 

("It's wonderful!" she says, smacking her lips.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sweet Summer Days

These August days are flying by. We made a very quick trip to the mainland last Friday and back again on Saturday. It was good to see my parents and other family members - just not nearly enough time for a proper visit with anyone.

Home to a house full of guests. Most welcome guests. A niece and her husband from Alberta, youngest daughter and her husband, son and granddaughter (grandbaby's mother stayed home, just in case her sister decided to have her baby). This little one is always in motion, and my camera setting wasn't correct, hence the blur.

Here Daddy thought that the toy basket might make a nice hat for Adria. I don't think her mother would approve of the style.

Elizabeth, from French Village Life, initiated a buttons and bows swap. My partner was Jane, from Marigold Jam and she sent me, from England, this lovely assortment of soft ribbons, laces, buttons and more. I'm looking forward to using them in some stitchery projects come fall.

The guests left in batches. I waved goodbye to the last of them yesterday afternoon. The house was quieter than normal last night because Tim was out of town for meetings. I spent the evening doing laundry and re-making all the beds. This morning I cut a few flowers from the yard and plunked them into bottles on the dining room table. A motley assortment, but pretty nonetheless.

Summer days are fleeting - how are you enjoying them?

Friday, August 05, 2011

An Evening Walk

These days are busy ones. Tim works long days and frequently brings work home in the evenings - reading that needs to be done, or catching up on emails. For me, it's study, study, study, with a little gardening and housework thrown in as I plod away on my last three courses. 

But without fail, around 8:30 or 9:00 pm, we turn off the computers and head for a walk. Lately, we've been going down to the marina, about 20 minutes away. We stand and look at the water, the mountains and anything else that happens to be in the landscape. The other day a cruise ship sailed by, en route to Alaska.

This young gull has literally bitten off more than he can chew. We watched him for the longest time as he attempted to swallow a starfish. He didn't make any headway at all, and finally, feeling sorry for the starfish, we flapped at the bird, hoping he would drop his prey. Alas, he flew off, starfish still firmly in his beak.

The marina is quiet in the evenings, masts reaching high, boats gently bobbing at their moorings.

And then, walking home, four deer crossed our path. They watched us as we watched them, and then we all continued on our way.

Where do you like to walk?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

August Delights

Although it's already August it feels like summer is just beginning here. I'm loving the sunshine and warmer temperatures - still nothing like what much of North America is facing. 

So when I hear talk of "back to school" and "fall decorating" I think, "NO, not yet." I wail inwardly at the thought of summer ending before it's barely begun.

And so I'm refusing to jump on the fall bandwagon and am banishing all thoughts of that season (which I do love), until I have my fill of August's delights. Why rush the days? They pass all too quickly as it is. 

One of my delights is a daily stroll through the yard, admiring the cabbages, pulling a weed or two, looking for a lurking zucchini that has grown enormous in the night, and of course, ooohing and aaaahing over the flowers. Just now, it's the dahlias that are taking center stage. And the columbines. 

How are you delighting in this wonderful month of August?

And one administrative note: several people have mentioned that they are unable to comment on my blog. I changed the settings a couple of days ago and that seemed to fix it, but due to spam, I'm reverting back to not allowing anonymous comments. All this means is that you have to register in one of a variety of ways. I love comments, but the spam is something I'd rather not deal with. 

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-...