Showing posts from May, 2012

Tastes of Summer

Summer is so short here that I feel the need to make the most of every possible minute. One way to do that is with the food we eat. Meals on the deck using the grill for cooking, picnics by the sea or in the woods, casual get togethers with family and friends - I love summertime. Cooking needs to be easy - and what's easier than compiling the fresh tastes of the season.

Herbed Cottage Cheese Spread makes the most of the fresh herbs that are flourishing in my garden just now. It's easy to put together and yummy with toasted or fresh baguette slices, crackers from a box, or fresh vegetables. I put the recipe on my other blog, you can find it by clicking here, or the recipe name above.

The fresh taste of water can hardly be improved upon, but I like adding just a hint of flavour with fresh herbs like mint or lemon balm. Pick a handful, rinse them, and place them in a large jug of water. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours and the herbs will gently flavour the water. 

This afterno…

The First Roses

The first roses are blooming in my garden. I think this is the earliest I've seen since we moved here 10 years ago. I have no idea what kind of rose this is - but it has a delicate scent and blooms prolifically throughout the summer, if I continue to deadhead it. Unfortunately, black spot is rife here and my roses are infected with it already. 
After a week that began with rain and cold, the sun began shining midweek and the temperatures warmed up considerably. A chill wind coming off the water meant we were happy for our jackets and long pants, as Little Miss is modeling above. She would run straight into the waves and is not frightened by the ocean's vastness at all. Bubbles, rocks, seaweed and sand fascinate her.

Flocks of gulls stood on the beach, all facing into the wind, their feathers ruffling. This one looked out to sea, probably thinking, "When is the wind going to stop? Mrs. Gull is expecting me home to do my chores soon."

Happy Memorial Day to my American fri…

What kind of tree would you be?

Did you ever have to answer a question like the title of this post - what kind of tree would you be? I remember prompts like this in school, given, I suppose, to stimulate our imaginations. Regardless, I always wished to be, if I had to be a tree at all, a tall tree, kind of spindly, but graceful. Like the trees above, snapped in Bavaria 3 years ago.

During our last few years in Ecuador, we lived on a piece of property with lemon and avocado trees. And I soon decided that I'd prefer being a lemon tree. Did you know that they fruit and flower at the same time? I thought that so apt for my life - some ideas come to fruition, others are in flower, and others are mere buds. I like the cycle of a lemon tree.

When we moved back to Canada, I missed my lemon trees. Such good lemonade we made there, and guacamole was a regular after-school snack, made with our own avocados and lemons. Lemon pie, lemon squares, lemon everything! 

Last Saturday Tim and I visited a local fruit tree grower beca…

Many Things in Progress, Few Finished and a Giveaway Winner

Saturday of the long weekend just behind us was sunny. Rain was forecast for Sunday and Monday. So I put my garden in on Saturday. In the protected bed, tomatoes, basil and melon, with room for cucumbers. 

In the middle bed, leeks, broccoli, zucchini, butternut squash and rhubarb at one end that needs to be moved. 

I planted radish, carrot and swiss chard seeds in the top bed, and I'm saving room for my bean poles which will be planted a bit later. 

I'm attempting to grow potatoes in two wire cylinders this year - the idea is to save space by adding dirt as the potatoes grow, since new potatoes form between the seed potato and the top of the plant. We'll see. Lettuce, herbs and a few other things are scattered here and there throughout my flower beds.

For those averse to painting over wood, you might want to avert your eyes. When we moved back into this house, I left the china cabinet and hutch in the garage (which has never seen a car) with the intent of painting it. We'…

Blowing Bubbles

In the Spanish, the relationship between common in-laws has its own vocabulary. Parents-in-law are suegros to the couple, and the sets of parents call each other consuegros. In the same way, the terms for brother-in-law, sister-in-law and so on, add "con" to the front to describe a relationship held in common. Language and culture go hand in hand. 

When we lived in Quito, our rental home was on the same property as our landlady's. I was always jealous when her extended family got together on the weekends and holidays. I wanted to be with family, too. Now that we're back in Canada, we're much closer, but still an expensive ferry ride and several hours from my family and a long, long day's drive from Tim's. So I still miss getting together with my siblings and parents as much as I'd like. However, as our family grows, our gatherings grow, too.

Last Sunday, Mother's Day, we got together with our consuegros at our son and daughter-in-law's home. DI…

Friday Fill-ins

These bleeding hearts are from my son and daughter-in-law's garden. I added a little "Boost" to them with the Picasa editing feature. I think I need to find a place for a bleeding heart in my own garden. All those hearts dangling like beads are so pretty.

I'm joining in with Friday Fill-ins again. Working full time (until June 15) is seriously cutting into my blogging/sewing/gardening/cooking time. I know I'll get used to working all day, but just now, I come home and collapse on the couch with a cup of tea before making dinner. And then the evenings are just not long enough to do everything I want to do. 

1.  When we go for our evening walk, I'm amazed at the life that is bursting out in every yard, every tree, every patch of ground.

2.  I'm head over heels in love with my granddaughter and looking forward to being the same way with the next one, due in less than one month.

3.  It'll be AMAZING! (see #2)

4.  Scandinavia is a place I've always wanted t…

Note Card Party - Four Seasons

Autumn Reflections
Vee is once again hosting a Note Card Party in which we choose four photos previously published on our blog that we think would make a fun card set. For this month, I chose the four seasons. 

A Winter's Walk
Sea Side Spring Blossoms

Summer at the Beach
Pop on over to Vee's Haven to check out more fun virtual note card sets. Vee is featuring some delicious things to eat - so I think I'll have myself a piece of cake, real, not virtual.

Dinner with Dessert

We invited some friends over for dinner on Saturday evening. I knew the weather would be great all day and planned to spend most of the day in the garden, not the kitchen. On Friday evening I prepared as much as I could. 

I made the marinade for the flank steak, readied the Potato Splats, made the salad dressing, and set the table. Then I lit the candles just to see what it all would look like, and took a few photos. I used votive holders at every place to hold a few bluebells, a linen tablecloth and napkins, and ended up with mostly monochrome. Blue and white is a winning combination for me. 

We had guests for dinner quite often while living in Ecuador. On one such occasion, as we sat down at the table with our children and our guests, our son, probably 8 or 9 at the time, said, "Oh, good. Company. That means we get dessert." 

I found the recipe for this gluten and dairy free sorbet (since some of our guests can't have those ingredients) on Tartelette's blog. Do check …

Flowers with Love

Just a quick post today featuring some of the flowers I received for Mother's Day. The white lilacs were not a gift, but are from our son and daughter-in-law's garden where we enjoyed a great brunch cooked by the men in the family and a sunny afternoon outside. 

An azalea plant from my husband, orchids from my daughter and son-in-law, and red roses from my son and daughter-in-law. And a phone call from my daughter in Spain. What a perfect day, surrounded by love. I am so blessed.

Late afternoon Tim and I went for a walk on the beach - it truly felt like summer, with a few brave souls swimming and many families picnicking and enjoying the glorious weather. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday and hoping you all had a wonderful Sunday, whether you celebrated Mother's Day or not.

Happy Mother's Day

My mother. Memories rush in a flood as I think of what my mother means to me. She's beautiful inside and out, smart as a whip, handy at just about anything she tackles, and has a heart that leans hard on her Lord. 

Together with my father, she devotes hours of time to volunteer work - every Wednesday she gathers with other women to make quilts for those in need. On Mondays she's found in the church office, taking care of the financial records. 

What I love most about my mother, though, is the way she loves her family. Her husband, her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren receive love from her, steady and quiet. 

She lost her own mother when she was just 15 and worked hard to help care for her 9 younger siblings. Even though she excelled at her school work, her father forced her to quit school after Grade 9. She married at 18, had me at age 20, and completed her GED (high school equivalency) the same year I graduated from high school. She's an example of pe…

Bluebells of Spring

I love this time of year when the garden begins to fill with colour. In one corner of our yard a small patch of bluebells delights the eye. I'm still trying to figure out my camera - it takes fine pictures on automatic settings (I use the scene choices, mainly landscape, indoor, and close up). But since it has a few more bells and whistles, I'd like to learn how to use them.

I picked a handful and brought them indoors, placed them on a creamy plate and set them in the late afternoon light streaming through the window. 

The Aperture priority setting seems to give the best results. 

Here I used the shutter priority setting and the photo is completely washed out. I also did some photo editing in Picasa to intensify the shadows, add a vignette effect and a museum matte.

This is an untouched photo, done in the close up scene mode. Practicing with such pretty subjects is fun, and relaxing after a day of work - still invigilating AP exams and working in the school library.

Don't forg…

Playing Outside, and a Giveaway

Yesterday was a Nana day AND the sun shone. Hooray! Hooray! In the morning I tucked the Little Miss into her stroller and headed for the playground. As soon as she spied the playground both hands flew into the air, accompanied by an excited garble of 16-month speak. I might not understand the words, but her emotion was clearly expressed.

There are two slides at this park, one longer curved one, and a double wide shorter straight one. She loved them both and slid down over and over again. I climbed onto the playground equipment with her at first, not certain about how safe she'd be there alone. But then I was stuck at the top of the slide with her, and who would wait for her at the bottom?

So, I sat down beside her on the double slide, we held hands and Wheeee, down we went, together. There's nothing like a small child to bring playfulness back into life.

Then it was time to ride the horsie, all the while saying "naaay, naaay" in very horsey tones.

Picking flowers was nex…

Weekend Happenings

Just a few minutes drive from home are rural homes, acreages, hobby farms, dairies, fields of hay and horses. Woodwynn Farms is situated here; 193 acres purchased with the goal of becoming an integrated community, designed to help those who are battling with addictions, homeless, and in need of support. It's modeled on the San Patrignano community in Italy. In such an idyllic setting, away from the downtown lifestyle, hurting people will be supported to heal and move beyond the addictions that bind them. Unfortunately, the organizers are meeting with opposition from the neighbours - a "not-in-my-back-yard" kind of opposition. 

This past Saturday Tim and I spent a couple of hours there. Tim moved furniture and tossed hay bales, I washed windows in the barn - which is being re-purposed as a farmer's market.We were part of a group of about 250 people from our church (Saanich Baptist) who spread out in various locations around town, cleaning, painting, gardening - doing w…

Rainy Day Beauty and a Vocabulary Lesson

We woke up to hear rain dripping into the eaves during the night. The rain continues. Cold. Heavy skies. Today I invigilated a simulation of an AP Calculus exam. Mind-numbing. The script is strict to ensure fairness throughout the world. The invigilator may not read, mark papers, or do anything unrelated to the exam. I thought a lot. Time moved very slowly. Three actual exams to invigilate in the next couple of weeks. I'll be thinking a lot. Maybe about blog posts.

But when I arrived home, this beautiful rhododendron in my yard, to which I've never paid much attention, seemed to say, "Here, look at me, I'm so pretty." And so I did. Then I went inside to get my camera. 

The raindrops only served to enhance the pink delicacy of these blooms. And why have I never noticed the dark speckles on the upper petals? Or the long stamens seemingly tipped with gold?  How much do I miss everyday because I don't take the time to look? What new thing have you noticed recently?

Inspired by the Ocean

I grew up nowhere near the ocean. Instead, our family vacationed beside lakes. We camped and fished, boated and read on numerous lakes in British Columbia. Visits to the ocean were rare and the sea was a strange thing.

When Tim and I moved to Ecuador, we spent our vacations at the beach. The incessant rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean bothered me; they were so restless. I missed the peace and quiet of the lake. 

Many years later I read an essay by E.B. White entitled "Once More to the Lake," which eloquently expresses much of the difference between oceans and lakes. But, I digress.

Our trips to the beach in Ecuador, combined with moving to an island, instilled in me a love of the ocean. What I once perceived as restlessness I now see as soothing motion, unending and reliable. Walks on the beach reflect what my mood may require - solace, adventure, exhilaration, or solitude. 

Inspired by the ocean waves, I stitched up this table runner. Some of the pieces are from an old shirt o…