Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday



As out of Jesus' affliction came a new sense of God's love and a new basis for love between men, so out of our affliction we may grasp the splendor of God's love and how to love one another. Thus the consummation of the two commandments was on Golgotha; and the Cross is, at once, their image and their fulfillment.

Malcolm Muggeridge

 comments closed for Good Friday


Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is a Fence Post



Mary, from the Little Red House, gave out the prompt "fences" for today. I looked through my photos and found the above one, a detail of a fence in San Diego.  I like the curved lines and the "sort of fleur-de-lis" detail at the top. 


 More fleur-de-lis adorn this fence in Paris, around the Luxembourg Gardens. How pretty a fence can be while protecting and defending. 



This fence, around part of Victoria's Inner Harbour, is a mere hint not to fall into the water. Nor does it block the view. 

Linking with Mary of the Little Red House. More fence posts (HA) will be up starting around 11 am Pacific time.

For those who inquired about yesterday's post - yes, I made the bunnies. One for Little Miss A and one for Little Miss S. But shhhhh - they won't see them until Sunday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What the Bunnies Said and Indulging in a bit of Narcissism



Bunny A:  What's she doing?

Bunny B:  Smiling and talking to herself. Taking photos, like she always does. What's that she said? "How silly is this?" 

Bunny A:  Taking pictures, that's what she's doing. She just took some of us. You know she's going to put them on her blog, don't you?

Bunny B:  I know. Do you think she'll be brave enough to put the pictures she's taking of herself on the blog?

Bunny A:  I doubt it.  


Take that, Bunnies.

My hair looked virtually the same this morning as it did last night and when someone suggested that I document the ultra-straight look, I did. ( I had my hair cut yesterday and the stylist always straightens and flattens it to the extreme.) There are a few bits and pieces in the back that are starting to curl, but otherwise, it's the severe look. Is there anything so ridiculous as taking one's own photo? Those editing features in Picasa are wonderful for minimizing wrinkles and such. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Full Moon, Stitching, and a Blog Reader



A couple of years ago I felted a number of wool sweaters. Each felted differently. I used much of the felt for various projects, but still had some left over. I've been making baby blocks from 4 inch squares. They are soft and squishy and just the thing for little hands to clutch. On each block I've appliqued a felt shape or letter. Then the blocks are assembled with blanket stitching. I completed the top one yesterday - as part of a gift for a new little one. 

These come together quickly and are easy enough to do while watching television. We're fond of the BBC dramas that come on to our public broadcasting network - shows like Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis, Doc Martin, Poirot, and others. We thoroughly enjoy watching without any commercials.


Tim and I often walk in the evenings. I could go by myself during the day, and often do, but it's enjoyable to walk together, too, and this way, Tim gets a little exercise, too. The full moon last night shone so round and bright, but all I had was my phone with me. Do you see the hawk on top of the dead tree? Seconds after I took the photo he took off and swooped over the bog, intent on some prey. 

I was unhappy when I heard of the intent of Google to shut down Google Reader. Although I always click into the blogs I read for the full experience, I found Reader very useful for letting me know when my favourite blogs had new posts. For the past couple of weeks I've been using both Bloglovin and Feedly. 

Feedly is winning. Do you use a Reader? Have you decided on which one you'll be using?

In other news, I had a haircut today. My hair is quite wavy/curly, with a lot of volume. Hairdressers always flatten and straighten it excessively. Tim walked in this evening, talking about something and stopped short when he saw me. The severe look is not what he's used to. My daughter told me I looked sophisticated. I feel like a pinhead. Tomorrow, all will be well after I do my own hair.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Celebrating




Our family got together over the weekend to celebrate Tim's birthday. The actual day is later this week. Family gatherings are lively these days, with two little misses around. I wouldn't trade the busyness for anything. Tim's cake was Black Forest - a recipe received years ago from one of my best friend's mothers who came to Canada from Germany after WWII. I cannot make my cake look as good as she could, but it tasted wonderful.


The Little Misses tried on their Easter dresses. This is Sis Boom Fabric, designed by Jennifer Paganelli. Last summer I won the yardage for the girls' dresses in a giveaway. Little Miss A is learning to pose for the camera - in split second intervals during which she says "cheeeeeese."


 Little Miss S in her bubble dress, sucking on her lower lip. The Sis Boom Fabrics are so happy you can't help but smile. It's getting harder and harder to take good photos of these little ones who wiggle around so much. I've used several settings and will keep experimenting. It's easier outdoors.


The biggest celebration in the Christian calender - Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter, is just ahead. I added a few bits to my china cabinet. The egg plate was a gift from my daughter several years ago, purchased at an antique store. I do love the colour. 
 

Tim was away for a couple of nights last week. Evenings can be long, but I spent a happy couple of hours folding linen napkins into Easter Bunny ears for our dinner on Sunday.


I herded the bunny ears into a basket where I think they look like a colony huddled together with just their ears poking out.

To fold the napkins I used Martha Stewart's tutorial, with a few alterations. Instead of tucking one side into the other at the end, I tied a ribbon around the "head."  

The weather forecast for this week looks pretty good - we may even hit 12 degrees (about 54 Fahrenheit) on the weekend. Today the sun is shining and I'm off to run errands. How is your week shaping up, weather or otherwise?

 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cherry Blossoms - Mosaic Monday





"Anne blew a couple of airy kisses from her fingertips past the cherry blossoms and then, with her chin in her hands, drifted luxuriously out on a sea of daydreams." 
L.M.Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

While driving through town these days, I'm prone to distraction. Along every street, singly here and there, or marching in grand allées (de grandes allées in French) in front of houses, cherry trees are blooming. In parks. In empty lots. Pink clouds of sweetness. Sure signs of spring. Although the skies may alternate grey and blue, although the wind blows chill, spring is well underway. Hooray for spring, I say! 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary of the Little Red House. There's sure to be more posts welcoming spring there. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sun, Sky and Sea



As I walked down the beach with Little Miss A this week, the wind at our backs pushed us along with great gusts of enthusiasm. I could only think of the return trip, against the wind. And as it turned out, I ended up carrying the Little Miss, who is not so little any more, much of the way back. 

But the day, with clouds scudding, waves rushing, accompanied by glorious sunshine was too beautiful to miss.

I hope the sun is shining for you today.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, the last of this season, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

First Things First




During the past two weeks of spring break I've been able to schedule in more time with the Little Misses. We've baked cookies, returned seaweed to the ocean on a very blustery day, visited the Ocean Discovery Centre, played with blocks and Duplo, read a zillion books, and eaten snacks. What fun we've had.


Today, the sun is shining, but I have chores to attend to. There will be a little of the above,
 

 and some of this, 


followed by a cup of tea and a little reading. Doesn't that cover look inviting? So full of colour and freshness. Do you have a favourite magazine?

But, first things first! Back to the chores!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Buds: Vee's Note Card Party


Each month Vee, of A Haven for Vee, hosts a Note Card Party. Attendees choose four photos previously published on their blog that they think would make good note cards. This month, I've looked back over my posts to find one photo from last March, immediately below, whereas the others are from April 2011.


No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.
Anon 

 

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
Robin Williams 


Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment
Ellis Peters 


"Dear old world," she murmured, "you are very lovely, and I am glad to be
alive in you." 
Anne of Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery

It seems that in much of North America, and Europe, too, winter just does not want to let go. But it will, and spring will come in all her loveliness. 

For more photos that would make lovely note cards, click on over to Vee's Party - a convivial gathering if ever there was one.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Restless







When I began blogging, oh, about 6 years ago, my intent was to chronicle my creative journey and projects, and to connect with like-minded people. It was a tentative peek over the mountain to "see what I could see." The experiment resulted in connecting with people around the world, with meeting a few bloggers in person, and in finding an outlet for some of my thoughts.

For the past few months, however, I've been restless, wanting another purpose to blogging. I feel stagnant creatively, and the things I do create, I feel hesitant to show to you. There are so many creative, artistic people out there, filling posts with things I only wish I could dream up. I've thought about quitting blogging, but I enjoy it too much. I don't want to lose the cyber friends I've made. 

These stagnant feelings are not confined to blogging - they extend to my cooking, my needlework, my decorating, and even my reading. It's time for me to create new challenges for myself, to continue to grow.  I wish to be braver. To cease comparing myself to others. To be fully confident in being the woman God created me to be.

Tell me, do ever feel like this? What do you do to challenge yourself to move out of stagnation? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunny Yellow



Golden forsythia is the first shrub to show colour in our garden. The cloud of yellow in the front yard is a welcome sight. Yellow against the blue sky makes is a stunning colour scheme, one of nature's best. 

 A couple of readers have wondered how to do a mosaic featuring photos superimposed on others. Here's a quick tutorial using the downloaded version of Picasa. For those who know how to do this, skip to the bottom for more sunny yellow.

Select the photos you want to use for your collage and edit them. Select and hold them together. Choose one for the background and one or two others to feature. In the create menu, choose Picture Collage.

Once in Collage, select Picture Pile from the choice of layouts. You will see your photos on a plain background. Click on your background photo, then move your cursor to the Background options on the left, choose Use Photo as Background. You should see the background change to your photo. Then you can remove the small photo (unless you want the same photo superimposed.) 

Now you can work with the photos on top. Adjust the size and angle by clicking on the center of the photo. A wheel will appear which shows the angle of the photo. Expand or contract the size by using your mouse. Using the menu on the left, add a border if you like. 

When you are pleased with the placement of your photos, click Create. Your collage will be created and you can then go back into your Library of photos to add a border to the entire collage, should you so choose. 

 

Lemon Bars are full of sunshiney flavours. Perfect for spring. This is my mother's recipe, a classic, found by clicking over to the link above which will take you to my recipe blog.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden, and to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary of the Little Red House.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Greens of Various Kinds



Mary's Inspiration Thursday prompt this week is green. These succulents and the little birdie in her nest are gathered together on a tray on my china buffet. I don't use many Easter-themed decorations - just things I like to have out for awhile that aren't necessarily specific to one holiday. These succulents were outside most of the winter, getting very water logged and they turned quite reddish as a result. I brought a few indoors and they thrive with the drier climate, even to the extent of beginning to shoot new growth. 


A few posts ago I showed you the kale and chard I'd harvested from my winter garden. With the kale I made Kale with Garlic and Blue Cheese. I like baking the kale until it's just a bit crispy. The Swiss Chard I added to tonight's chicken vegetable soup. Thank you for your recipe suggestions. I have lots more chard to harvest and I'm planning to use some of your ideas.


Here is a photo that's primarily shades of green - taken at Butchart Gardens. Soon, however, that bed will be awash with colour to delight the eye. 

In Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of the characters says, "The rich man gets his ice in the summer, the poor man gets his in the winter." Adapting that to green grass, we could say that those who live in our climate get our green grass in the winter, while elsewhere in Canada the grass is green in the summer. This time of year, indeed, throughout the winter, is when our grass is the greenest. In summer, it turns brown and crunchy.

So there you have it, green indoors and out. What's green around your place? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Kitchen Table



I recently read an article discussing the return of certain 1980s decorating trends. Included in that list was the return of the kitchen table. Oh, really?  The kitchen table was certainly NOT a 1980s trend. They've been around for much longer than that. When did they disappear?

When I was a child (back in the dark ages), our chrome-legged table sat in a corner of our not-large kitchen. We pulled it away from the wall when it was time to eat. Kitchen tables evoke coziness, family suppers (not dinners), homework done under a parent's watchful eye, craft projects and messes, and cutting out Easter dresses. It's the place where, after dishes were done, my mother set up her portable sewing machine and stitched away the evening, often listening to the radio. It's where we had family prayers and Bible reading, where we laughed ourselves silly, egged on by my father. 

We have a kitchen table. It's where the two of us eat most of our meals. The dining room table is currently covered with sewing projects. I do have a sewing room upstairs, but sometimes, I feel like being in the midst of things and so I haul my machine down stairs and set up shop in the dining room. Kitchen tables are small; ours seats 5 comfortably, 6 without much effort. Around a table people sit and face each other as they eat and talk, unlike facing the stove while perched at stools at an island.

How about you - kitchen table or island?  


Here's a peek at what's on my dining room table just now. The dresses need a bit of a try-on, then I'll insert zippers and buttons and finish the hand sewing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down


 

 The rainy day song from Winnie-the-Pooh which you can hear by clicking on the link, has been going through my mind this morning. The grass is green, green, green these days and full of moss. 
 

On the ledge above the kitchen sink, a handful of tight daffodil buds is just beginning to open, adding a little brightness to the day. A good day to stay indoors and that's my plan. I'll be sewing a couple of little dresses for two little sweethearts to wear for Easter. 

Do your plans include indoor or outdoor activities? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March Beauties: Mosaic Monday




My visit to Butchart Gardens resulted in a LOT of photos. Here are the last I'll share for now, until the next time I visit and see many more beauties. You can visit my two previous posts for more. Our city has the mildest weather in Canada and that's never more apparent than at this time of year.


On Saturday morning I awoke to the sound of birds twittering (in the old-fashioned way) outside my window. Tim and I spent much of the day in the yard, weeding, pruning roses, clipping bushes. My garden beds are almost ready for spring planting. But before doing that, I needed to harvest more of my winter garden. Rainbow chard, kale, and underneath is purple broccoli. More chard awaits cutting. This winter was so mild that some lettuce plants survived our few frosts.

This was my first time planting chard. I'd love to know if you cook it and if so, how. I've added it to soups, but that's about it. If you have ideas, please let me know!

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

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Late Winter at Butchart Gardens: Part Two




Visiting Butchart Gardens (see yesterday's post for more) in late winter means fewer people and more opportunity to wander about. I went alone and took every little pathway, finding nooks and crannies that I had not previously noticed. Normally, the paths lead people in one direction, keeping the flow of traffic going in one direction. In a moment of whimsy, I decided to trace the route backwards, beginning with the Japanese Garden, where the miniature irises glowed blue. 
 

Water features are a major part of the Japanese Garden. The sound of water trickling through bamboo, gurgling over small rocks, and flowing along pathways, is inescapable. On a hot summer's day, this is the coolest spot in the garden.
 

Stepping stones lead through a pool. Notice the red railings on the bridge in the distance. I'm imagining taking two little girls here in a few years - wouldn't they have fun on these stones? Wouldn't Nana be watching carefully? 
 

Rhododendrons just beginning to flower. I plan on returning in a couple of weeks when even more colour will be visible.


 Moss abounds here, along with ferns. 







In the Rose Garden, there are no roses now, but tiny English daisies smile sweetly.



 I noticed the structure of these rose bushes - masses of blooms in summer, now bare.


I took this photo from a pathway above the quarry. This is the area where Jenny Butchart began her garden - filling in the empty quarry with soil, plants and trees. 
 

Bright pansies top a trash container, beautifying even the mundane. 
 

 Blooms in a rock wall. We've had a lot of rain recently, but my time in the garden was dry, and as I left, there was even a bit of sunshine.



It takes an army of people working hard to keep this garden pristine and beautiful. Here's proof. Our daughter-in-law worked at the gardens during high school and university. She worked in the entrance and directing traffic.
 

One of our son-in-laws grew up on the grounds of the garden. His family lived in a house overlooking this cove. He tells a story of going down to the water one day, getting in a boat and setting off on his own - aged 4 or 5. His mother rushed down to see him in the middle of the cove, unable to navigate on his own.

 
One last bunch of crocuses! Have a wonderful day!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Late Winter at Butchart Gardens



At the time of our Christmas Day visit to Butchart Gardens I upgraded my entrance ticket to a season's pass. I sort of forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I've been watching the skies and my calendar, looking for a dry, not-occupied day to walk through the gardens.


From January 15 to March 15 part of the original house is open to the public with historical documents and artifacts chronicling some of the history of the gardens and of the Butchart family. You can read more of the history online. Above is a small garden room. The pink rose wallpaper is covered with a gray-painted wooden trellis. Sitting there would feel like being in a garden, especially with the white wicker furniture.
 

Isn't this a pretty little causeuse, or conversation chair? It's designed so two people can sit facing each other to chat, or "causer" in French.


The billiards room is very large, with window seats on each end of the room, several sofas, a player piano and a grand piano, along with a couple of desks and display cases. I noticed that some of the old photos showed a swimming pool someplace, so I asked the assistant about it. He opened a door off the billiard room "behind the scenes" and showed me where the pool had been. It was an indoor salt-water pool, now cracked and covered to prevent any mishaps.
 

From the billiard room and the garden room, the windows open onto the Italian Garden. This area was once a tennis court, but it was little used and so converted into the garden seen above. The wing of the house visible on the right is long and narrow and was originally a bowling alley - so the grandchildren would be entertained. It now houses a gardening library.

Here's a view of the house from the Italian Garden. The Butcharts moved to Victoria from Owen Sound, Ontario, to start up a Portland Cement factory. When you read the history of the gardens, you'll discover that Jenny Butchart decided to beautify the huge empty hole that resulted from quarrying the limestone. She had tons of topsoil hauled in and began planting. What vision she had. Tod Inlet adjoins the gardens, and I wrote about a walk we took there last January.


I'll show more of the gardens themselves tomorrow. It's a great time of year to visit. Not many crowds, and although the blooms are few, the structure of the garden is clearly visible. 

Have you visited Butchart Gardens? I'm always surprised by the number of people who have, from all over the world. 

Circling Spring Break

Some of the names and geography of the west coast of Canada can be confusing. For example, we live on Vancouver Island, but the City of...