Sunday, April 29, 2012

Playing with New Toys

My desktop computer is 7 years old. In technology years my husband says that's about 95. It's been slowing down and having issues, requiring more care to keep it running. So before it completely died, we bought a new one. It's a pretty laptop - so I can blog from anywhere, like the couch, where I am now.

I had to install all my programs on it, and ended up with a new version of Picasa. I use a downloaded version of Picasa for viewing my images and editing them. There are a lot of new features in this version and I've had fun playing with both my new computer and the new editing possibilities.

For this collage, I blurred a photo of rocks to use as the background, put borders on the photos, increased the caption border, and added text underneath.

Last Christmas I gave my husband a coupon book for various outings. One was a walk through the Oak Bay Marina followed by hot chocolate at the coffee shop. A couple of weeks ago, that's what we did on a Sunday afternoon. But the boats were too enthralling - the coffee shop closed before we had our hot chocolate. So of course, we had to go again!

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scrappy Pillow

The new Blogger format has been foisted on me. I know the change is inevitable, so I'm trying to get used to it. I don't like it, nor do I see any advantage over the old Blogger. But I will get used to it.

The above pillow is another of my "use it up" projects - more leftover four-patch squares alternating with striped fabric from an old shirt. The buttons came from my button box and the white border fabric from my stash.  It's good to see something finished, but at the same time, I could sew constantly for a year without running out of fabric.

This project is part of Stumbles and Stitches "Feather Your Nest" project to (1) make something for your own home, and (2) recycle, use up supplies. I have plans for more projects, but am unlikely to finish them before the end of the month.

Have you read Annie Dillard's books? I love An American Childhood, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and The Writing Life. I did not know that she wrote fiction until this morning. While shelving books in the library I ran across The Maytrees, set it aside and started reading it during my break. So far, it's intriguing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This, That, and Other Things

Our weather has been absolutely stunning! Warm, sunny days that fairly beg me to be outside. Friday and Saturday were spent digging, weeding and mulching. The yard, neglected by the renters for two years, needs some serious attention. Once I'd pulled all the weeds and invasive plants from the above patch, I planted some herbs and plunked my Japanese fishing ball in the middle. The irises were there already and should bloom in another month or 6 weeks. 

Sunday afternoon began with little on the schedule. Then our neighbour called saying that she had tickets to the opera, had fallen ill, and would Tim and I like them. After a short consultation we said, "yes!" We had never been to the opera. It was interesting and beautiful. The opera was Maria Stuarda, based on the life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. The composer took great liberties with history to come up with a most dramatic plot. We probably won't be purchasing season's tickets to the opera, but we enjoyed the experience.

Little Miss spent a little time with us. I took this photo because she is wearing the same bib her father once wore - a handmade gift from a good friend. Travis is our second child, hence the #2. Little Miss enjoyed chasing her ball out in the yard after lunch and before her nap. 

Do tulip bulbs migrate? A few tulips came up in the garden where I don't remember planting any. Maybe the squirrels moved them for me. They are pretty wherever they choose to bloom.

Soon the lilacs will be in full bloom, too. I can hardly wait to sniff their fragrance.

The winner of the note card giveaway is Andi of Andi's English Attic

This week I'm the school librarian. Being around all those books is giving me lots and lots of ideas of what to read. I'm making a list. Next week I'm teaching and invigilating AP exams. So blogging will be a little slow. But I'll be here and there in blogland, seeing what everyone is up to. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

1.Vegetables are best fresh - raw, in salads, or roasted.

2. Ubiquitous mason jars; not only useful, but also beautiful.

3. How wonderful it is to be married to my best friend.

4. Laura Calder's French Taste is a book I'd love to recommend. Easy recipes with flair.

5. Using leftovers: I like making soup - here it's pureed squash, with pumpkin seeds on top.

6. My family makes me incredibly happy!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going out for dinner with my husband, tomorrow my plans include gardening and more gardening and Sunday, I want to go to church, relax, watch my granddaughter for the afternoon, take a walk, and in the evening we'll watch "Monarch of the Glen."

How about you? What are your plans for the weekend?

Friday Fill-ins

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Note Card Party and a Giveaway


Vee came up with a brilliant idea for a linky party. Search for four photos, already posted on your blog, that would make a nice set of note cards. This is my first time joining in and I went waaaay back - to 2007 and 2009.

The above staircase is in the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's hideaway at Versailles.

This photo is a bit blurry and wouldn't make that great a card, but it fits with the theme and I had posted it. It's in one of the salons in Le Petit Trianon. I love the blue and white room and furniture.

This oeil de boeuf (bull's eye) window is in the guard house at the entrance to Marie Antoinette's hideaway. Can you imagine a French guard peering out?

This old window latch and worn wooden frame is in the main palace of Versailles, in the Hercules Salon.

And now for the giveaway. Last fall I was contemplating opening an Etsy shop and I actually had some cards printed up. The only photo of the above which is included in the "French set" that I'm giving away is the last one of the window latch.

The Etsy shop is still in the works - I've been creating a few more things for it lately. But for now, I'm giving away a set of 5 French-themed note cards. If you would like to enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment and make sure that I have some way of contacting you. I'll draw a name on Sunday, April 22. 

Please visit Vee at her cute haven to see the wonderful links. Thanks, Vee, for hosting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Government House

My parents are visiting and this afternoon we strolled around the grounds of Government House, home to our province's Lieutenant-Governor - the representative of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in British Columbia. You can read more about the role of the office here. This is the third house to serve as Government House, the first two were destroyed by fire. This house was built in 1959 and although the exterior was contemporary, the interior was designed around the plan of the second building.

Today, early rhododendrons bloomed pink, red and white. The grounds are open to the public from sunrise to sundown.

Native plants such as this Camas Lily (camassia quamash) grace the gardens. For the First Nations peoples who lived here, the plant's bulbs were an important source of food. Harvested after the plant flowered, the bulbs were roasted and apparently taste similar to a sweet potato. The bulbs were also dried and pounded into flour.

The magnolia trees open into achingly beautiful drifts of pink and white blooms. Lily of the Valley nods on its stem, and Hellebores add their subtle tints to a garden that fits well into the landscape.

In the distance, sailboats danced to and fro on the water and so it was fitting to end our little excursion with a stop at the Oak Bay Marina for hot chocolate. Spring is fully here in all her glory!

Joining in with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House, and with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen at My Little Home and Garden.

Friday, April 13, 2012

On My Dining Room Table

My parents are here and my mom brought along some new card-making supplies. I've been having fun today, running paper through a Cuttlebug, punching flowers, and stamping. The dining room table is littered with paper - I chose only a small section to show you.

Last week I did some sewing - not just the pillow in the previous post, but also an Easter dress for the Little Miss. It was hard to get her to pose for a photo - she's a whirling bundle of energy.

Have a great weekend everyone! It's bright and sunny here today and feeling very spring-like. Sunlight is so energizing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An April Poem and a Pillow

Did you know it's National Poetry Month in the USA? I did not until I read Vee's post about it. She asked her readers to share their favourite poem. So, being neighbourly and all, I thought that it would be appropriate for this Canadian to share.

These lines are extracted from Al Purdy's poem On the Flood Plain. You can do a search to read the entire poem, which, I will warn you, contains one word that might be offensive to some.

"Whatever I have not discovered and enjoyed
is still waiting for me
and there will be time
but now these floating stars on the freezing lake
and music fills the darkness
holds me there listening
--it's a matter of separating these instants from others
that have no significance
so that they keep reflecting each other
a way to live and contain eternity
in which the moment is altered and expanded
my consciousness hung like a great silver metronome
suspended between stars
on the dark lake
and time pours itself into my cupped hands shimmering"

These lines remind me to live each day to the full, to pay attention to the moments. 

On a completely different topic, I finished a sewing project the other day.

Many years ago I made a watercolour quilt, and ordered 2-inch squares from Keepsake Quilting. I also cut a large number of squares from fabric I had on hand. When the quilt was complete, I had quite a few squares left over. At some point in the past I stitched them all into 4-patch blocks. Those blocks have accompanied me on a number of moves. I was never willing to get rid of them.

This week, while unpacking my fabric boxes, I ran across them again and decided, "enough!" Do something with them or throw them out. This pillow top is the result - sort of bright and cottagey for spring/summer. Of course, today, when I decided to photograph it, it's raining.  But the pillow brightens things up.

Stumbles and Stitches, a blog written by two crafty friends, is hosting a "Feather Your Nest" contest this month. There's still lots of time to enter and create something. Clicking on the button link in the sidebar will take you directly to the pertinent post.

So, two questions for you - 

1.  What is your favourite poem?
2. Are you working on any creative project at the moment? 

Do share.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Perhaps we should have 
cleaned the house 
sorted out the shed,
weeded the garden,
and cut the grass...

a pristine morning beckoned.
Weak against the onslaught
of cloudless promises,
we pack a lunch
and put on our boots.

Resting now against the lichens,
my head pillowed by a boot,
yours by an empty sandwich container,
I eat an apple.
 One knee bent, 
the other crossed atop
stockinged foot dangling in the light,

the vast blue bowl above
fringed round with whipped cream clouds.

Far below,
the currents pull and push,
roil against the rocks.
And just beyond,
The sea sky dazzles
a hundred million stars.
The long length of you stretches
out along the ground.
Dazed by the sun's ardor
you drift into dream,
awaken and turn to look at me.

Sun, wind, water, sky, trees and rocks
combine in perfection.

There is no story here,
no conflict, no rising action.
Only limpid water,
caressing sun,
unyielding rocks cradling our bodies.
The perfect sky above.

Lorrie Orr 2012

A poem inspired by a hike to Beechy Head, the southern most tip of Vancouver Island, on Good Friday. I think we made the best choice for the day, don't you?

And for those who have asked, the wildflower pictured is a Henderson's Shooting Star, which apparently grows only on the east side of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and is also abundant on the east side of the Cascades and in California. Click on the link for more information.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Joy

Our Easter dinner was enjoyed last night, on Saturday evening. The day was beautifully sunny and I spent all morning working in the yard, digging out weeds and thinking about what plants needed moving. I pruned the roses and had Tim dig a couple of them out - they have never done well and after two years of neglect were mostly dead. 

On the dinner table I sprinkled candy chocolate eggs but I might have to rethink that strategy as the Little Miss wouldn't be deterred once she saw the rest of us eating them. A small chocolate bunny marked each place, along with two bunnies huddled under the flowers in honour of the Adventurers who spent a quiet Easter in Istanbul. 

The garden is showing colour here and there - mostly grape hyacinths, a few daffodils and lots of dandelions, which I included in the vase on the table. Soon there will be tulips. 

I hope you have had a wonderful Easter weekend, celebrating quietly or with friends and family. I've enjoyed a break from the computer and hope to catch up with some blog reading this week. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday with Mary at the Little Red House.

He is Risen - Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday
Last night did Christ the Sun rise from the dark,
The mystic harvest of the fields of God,
And now the little wandering tribes of bees
Are brawling in the scarlet flowers abroad.
The winds are soft with birdsong; all night long
Darkling the nightingale her descant told,
And now inside church doors the happy folk
The Alleluia chant a hundredfold.
O father of thy folk, be thine by right
The Easter joy, the threshold of the light.

Sedulius Scottus
(9th century Irish poet)

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday - The Word of the Cross

The Word of the Cross

Look on thy God, Christ hidden in our flesh.
A bitter word, the cross, and bitter sight:
Hard rind without, to hold the heart of heaven.
Yet sweet it is; for God upon that tree
Did offer up His life: upon that rood
My Life hung, that my life might stand in God.
Christ, what am I to give Thee for my life?
Unless take from Thy hands the cup they hold,
To cleanse me with the precious draught of death.
What shall I do? My body to be burned?
Make myself vile? The debt’s not paid out yet.
Whate’er I do, it is but I and Thou,
And still do I come short, still must Thou pay
My debts, O Christ; for debts Thyself had none.
What love may balance Thine? My Lord was found
In fashion like a slave, that so His slave
Might find himself in fashion like his Lord.
Think you the bargain’s hard, to have exchanged
The transient for the eternal, to have sold
Earth to buy Heaven?
More dearly God bought me.

Written by Paulinus of Nola 
(c 354 - 431 AD)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Year's First Picnic

Friday morning's sunshine beguiled Tim into calling from work suggesting a picnic at the beach for dinner. By early afternoon the rain poured down and I thought soup and a cozy fire would be more appropriate than picnic fare. However, spring's moods change quickly and 5 pm found me packing up the small cooler. 

The beach was lovely - no wind, waves lapping at the shore, few people. Chilly, yes, but we had bundled up well for this, the year's first picnic. I hope it's a wonderful harbinger of things to come.

I've not yet encountered the camping dishes in my unpacking but I did find a couple of stray paper plates. Caesar Chicken Salad and a Cucumber salad were on the menu, so pretty with the slanting shadows.

This morning, after church, we celebrated Tim's birthday with a brunch. On the menu were Judy's Faux French Fries - as an April Fool's joke. For the cake I used another of Judy's recipes from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog - Plum Upside Down Cake. I neglected to take a photo of the cake and now there's very little of it left. Delicious!

We spent a very mellow afternoon chatting in the living room. When the Little Miss awoke from her nap, she wanted to play piano. Together we pick out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" followed by a free form rendition of her own creation.

Joining the party at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary, and Sunlit Sunday.

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 ...