Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday

This naturalized lawn, currently awash with croci and cyclamen adds immense cheer to my walks. Mossy trees only add to the charm. 

Earlier in the month I made a mushroom onion stuffed pork tenderloin. Delicious with an applesauce sweetened sauce. I made it again last weekend and was very underwhelmed with the results. The difference is in how long the pork is cooked. Overdone equals tough and dry. 

Another new idea I tried was roasting beets. They took a fair while in the oven, nestled into a foil pouch with a drizzle of olive oil, but the result was scrumptious and sweet. I combined them with sticks of apple, topped with blue cheese and fresh chives. I dressed the beets and apple separately in a bit of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper. Different, but satisfyingly crunchy, sweet, tart and creamy. 

Vee hosted a discussion on the season finale of Downton Abbey. Actually, there were two discussions because she had so many wonderful screen shots. The second focused somewhat on fashion. This blue coat worn by Lady Mary is one of my favorite pieces from her wardrobe. She has beautiful dresses and gowns, but this jacket speaks my language. The fit, the velvet lapel and cuffs - it's something I could see myself wearing.

And for the last of my five Friday items, the sun is shining and I'm off to run a few errands. Library, bank, grocery store and perhaps I'll fit in a cuddle with Mister F. 

Have a wonderful start to your weekend. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On Finishing Projects

First of all, thank you for all the good wishes for Ashley. She didn't win the competition, but she has made some great connections and the experience has been wonderful. She spent yesterday and this morning touring a bit of Montreal (and was hoping to visit a Sugar Shack), and is flying home this afternoon. 

Above - a few succulents and moss from my yard brighten up my kitchen windowsill.

About 19 or 20 years ago I started this quilt for our son Travis. I got bogged down on the hand quilting because of the poly batt thickness. It's been through several moves, packed into boxes and bags, and gave me a guilty feeling every time I looked at it.

Then I found out that Katie was thinking of doing Mister F's room in an airplane theme. 

"Aha," thought I, "a great excuse to get it out and start quilting again."

However, sometimes there are good reasons why a project should NOT be finished. This quilt is a case in point. The solid fabrics are quilting cotton. The starred fabric is mostly cotton. The striped fabric is less cotton. The backing is something unknown. The fill is polyester. All but the airplanes and star fabrics were purchased in Ecuador. It was just about impossible to find quality cottons there. It puckered. It pulled.

The original quilt was intended for a twin bed. I tore it apart, preserving the hand quilting I had done (outlining the airplanes) and then put it back together in a crib size. I machine quilted the squares. It's not a project I'm very proud of, but I am glad I finished it. And I hope that Mister F will feel cuddled in love by it. 

How long do you store your unfinished projects? Or are you one of those rare people who never begin a new project without finishing the previous one? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Winter Weary. I read that somewhere lately and thought "how apt." Everyone is tired of wearing layers, tired of the cold, tired of the grey, tired of the snow (some more than others). Of the four seasons, winter seems to be the one that outstays his welcome. Still, spring will come. This I know without a doubt. It seems just a little bit closer when I notice that the forsythia branches I cut a week ago have blossomed into yellow on my mantel. 

This past weekend, the snow fell. I spent a couple of hours on a very grey Sunday afternoon playing with pencil, watercolour, and ink. Dreaming of more croci. 
Some in our area have had more snow. This morning I was called in to teach because a tree had fallen across a road, blocking a teacher's route to town. It was a day of scrambling since her power was out (no email or landline) and her cell phone coverage was down. All went well. I'll be teaching tomorrow and Thursday as well.

Waiting for spring. Preparing to teach. Waiting today for news about a design competition. Our youngest flew to Montreal on Monday to take part in a design competition put on by Télio, a Canadian fabric company. Tonight is the final competition. Whatever the outcome, Ashley has done well in being one of 25 finalists (out of 500 entrants). She'll make connections and have a wonderful time. We are so very proud of her. The link will take you to the Télio blog where there's a little writeup about each of the contestants.

Are you waiting for anything in particular? Would winter-weary describe your state of mind?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blooming in the Snow

Spring might be on the way, but winter has not yet disappeared. This is the second morning of snow. Wet. Heavy. It's not sticking much and I expect that this snowfall, like yesterday's, will melt away by mid-afternoon.

Poor little Dwarf Iris shivering in the snow. Still, a reminder that indomitable spring is lurking around the corner.

A good day to drink tea and stare out the window at the falling snow. Or read a book. Or embroider. Or....what's your preferred snowy day activity?

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Croci in the Sun

Pale croci (or crocuses) cluster companionably, lifting upwards to soak in the warm of the sun in a week that has seen howling wind and rain, frosty mornings and even snow. Fresh green shoots. Pale blossoms. Simple and lovely.

Linking with Sunlit Sunday hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden


Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday

Blog post ideas come in spurts. Some days the ideas flow, other days they stagnant. Today is one of the latter. I thought I'd join in with others - I've seen Five on Friday and Friday Favorites.  This is a takeoff on that idea. 
Sunshine in the house is so welcome and I captured the light, if not the warmth. I'm hoping for more as the earth tilts ever so slowly towards the sun.

Tiny spoons in a china teacup, with a vintage French postcard, all under a cloche. This just makes me happy to look at. 

Bacon-wrapped dates. So easy. So addictive. I made these for the baby shower last month, and again for our Valentine's dinner. The thickness of the bacon makes a big difference. I usually purchase bacon at the fresh meat counter, by the slice. It's thicker, and I think, tastier than the plastic-packaged stuff. But they were out last week, so I bought a package. Much thinner and I rolled the slices around the dates several times. Still very tasty. Tim loves these.

Always intricate lichen. But I'd like to point you in another direction. Jen of Muddy Boot Dreams alerted me to this blog possibility - a "return to top" button. You can see it there in the lower right hand corner of my blog. I often read through a post in its entirety, then scroll back for photo details or to get to a link. This button takes you back to the top - so very convenient.
Here's a link to Brenda's Blog Tips on how to add the return to top button to your blog. Also, check out Jen's blog for really wonderful photography.

So little. So new. So precious. Mister F is settling quite well. Here he is sleeping soundly under the same blanket his father used, made for him by his maternal grandmother. Definitely a favorite on this Friday.

Any favorites to share?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Cautionary Tale

If a man buys a boat, he's going to spend a lot of time working on it.

Then, he's going to need a vehicle with enough power to pull it to the water.

When he gets the vehicle, he'll probably ask you to sew an anchor rode bag for some rope.

When you've finished the anchor rode bag, he'll think it a good idea that you know how to drive the boat as well. So you'll take weeks of lessons on Boating Essentials and learn all about charts and plotting and buoys and daybeacons and how to avoid the chunky bits that litter the ocean waters.

He'll want to eat well out on the boat, so he'll give you some boating cook books for Christmas (at your request). 

If you give a man a boat.

(with a nod to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February in my Garden

Imitation is the best form of flattery, they say, and for this post, I blatantly imitated Sharon of My French Country Home in making a mood board of what's happening in my garden these days. I went out in between the raindrops and took a few clippings of shrubs and flowers. A very few flowers.

Viburnum and moss seem to go together well.

Snowdrops on a salal leaf. 

More viburnum. Such delicate little flowers.

Everything is fresh and damp after all the rain we've been having. The slugs are happy, too. I discovered a tiny one on a leaf, probably wondering where he was.

These are my offerings for Vee's Note Card Party, held each month. Click on the link to join in or view other note card possibilities.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February Days

The wind hurled rain at the windows last night again, roaring up the street, curling around the corners of the house, rattling anything not tied down. Today the wind is easier, less furious, but through the glass I see bare branches waving steadily. 

The dull grey outside my window is contrasted to soft pinks and greens when I change my focus to the bouquet of flowers on the table. The pink gerbera daisies are my favorites. I love their frilled centers with bright yellow stamens and their layers of long smooth petals. Soon, I tell myself, my own garden will be filled with bright blossoms nodding on long green stems.  That's a sunny thought for a grey Sunday.

Sharing with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden, and with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary of The Little Red House.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Love

Love is more than romance. For me, Valentine's Day is a lovely way to celebrate not only the romantic aspects of love, but friendship and familial love as well. Sugar cookies are made. (but the photo above is from last year) We'll have a cozy dinner tonight at home, just the two of us.

He might bring home flowers, or not. But he'll be here and that's more important. I bought tulips earlier in the week and they are beginning to fade and wilt. 

Yesterday I made a little dinosaur toy for Mister F. Just 3 days old now, it will be awhile before he can hang onto this. He's keeping his mother awake at nights and seems to sleep only when being held. Tiring days for a new family. 

In the summertime Little Misses A and S know that there are always home made popsicles in Nana's freezer. So I created these bags of felt popsicles for play. I'll take the gifts around to their homes later today.

How are you marking this day of celebrating love?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sweet and Fresh

 There's a sweet new little man in my life. Felix Alexander, born on Feb 11 to our daughter-in-law and son. 8 lbs, 3 oz. So perfectly new - a blessing from God. I love this photo, taken in the hospital when we took Little Miss A up to meet her baby brother. The focus of this photo is his darling face, but look on the outskirts - all the hands. Sister hands, cousin hands, mommy hands. Hands of love, big and little. Hands to help. Hands to share. Hands to play. Little Felix, you are so welcome in our world.

Yesterday, Little Miss A and I waited at her house so she could welcome him home from the hospital. Here she is holding him for the first time - an Iphone photo taken by an emotional Nana.

Heart full.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Procrastination

 I'm a procrastinator. Sad, but true. I've been intending to paint the hallway and stairwells for well over a year now. Last spring I talked myself into waiting for the summer. In the summer, I thought I'd wait for fall. Then it was Christmas. My excuses ran out. So last week, I went out and bought paint. Saturday was the day. It took all day. I'm so glad I chose the same colour of paint (pale grey) so that one coat would suffice. So many doors to cut around, such high ceilings in the entrance. Do you know how much dirt settles onto the top of door casings? I cleaned. I stretched. I reached. I rolled. I brushed. I tottered on ladders. I set the step stool right into the tray of paint. It's done.

It feels wonderful! Not only are the scuff marks and bashes gone, but a huge weight is lifted off my mind. I think, "why didn't I just do the work?"

To be fair to myself (I'm usually on my own side), there were a couple of spots that I couldn't possibly reach, no matter how much I stretched. I knew I needed Tim around for those. Which meant a weekend. But still. 

That was Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, we blithely skipped town and went to East Sooke Park, introducing the wonders of the park to friends who have never seen it. I think it's the prettiest place on the Island. Skies were grey and threatening rain/snow. I was hoping for a good snowfall (I can hear the Easterners screeching) but it didn't happen. 

Do you procrastinate? 


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Sunlit Sunday

Little Miss A intent on building something with Duplo. The sun shines brightly belying the cold temperatures outdoors. Through the window streams warm rays of light, illuminating blond curls. 

Bright blocks and animals. "No, Nana, we can't visit the polar bear today. He's old and sick. He needs to rest." The giraffe gets to eat bright flowers. And what does the tiger eat? "Nana, tigers are carnivores - he gets the steak." Carnivores? In the vocabulary of a barely 3 year old?

Snuggling with Grandpa, Little Miss S looks content. Grandpa looks pretty happy. This was taken 2 weeks ago. This week, she's been a bit poorly. Her mother didn't know why she was so fussy and wanted to be carried all day. The discovery of a rash and a subsequent visit to the doctor revealed the cause - Fifth's Disease - a virus that will run its course in a week. Such a relief to know what was ailing her.

Two little girls who make my life sunny. 

Sharing with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Street Scenes: A Photo Challenge

Donna's Photo Challenge this month was to get out there and take photos of street scenes. I tried. I really did. This week, though, there weren't many people out on the streets in my area. It was too cold. 

This was a hard challenge for an introvert like me. As I walked, I pretended to photograph scenery with my camera, slowly panning it around and stopping as if I were taking a photo of some tree, but really I was looking for human victims subjects. One person who saw me with my camera promptly hid behind a telephone pole, ostensibly looking at her cell phone, but I saw her watching me. She moved away when the camera moved. Utterly demoralized, I quit looking for people.

Then, at the shopping mall, I saw this gentleman marching along at a good clip (remember, it was cold) and thought I'd snap him from the back. He couldn't duck behind a tree if he couldn't see me, thought I. So I clicked. Now, I wonder where he was and where he is headed. To meet friends for coffee at Starbucks? To go to Canadian Tire for some auto parts? To the drug store to fill a prescription for his ailing wife? The possibilities are mind boggling. I quit looking for people again. 

Instead, I went back into my archives (2009) for a few photos from Bratislava (Slovakia). I had my point and shoot Olympus at this juncture. I really do need to return to Europe with a better camera, don't you think? (are you listening, sweet husband?)

Our local guide told us that after the fall of communism, civic pride was restored and people began fixing up their homes and businesses again. The yellow building on the right has been repaired. However, the city decided that some buildings should remain in disrepair as a reminder of how things had been for many years. A visual cautionary warning. On the street.

On another note, the colour of the repaired building is known as Empress Yellow, named after the Empress Maria Theresa because it was her favourite colour. (She was the mother of Marie Antoinette.)

These two photos qualify as street scenes, don't you think? As I prepared this post, questions came to mind, such as, "Why do I think photos of manhole covers in Bratislava are so interesting?" "Why have I none of my own city's manhole covers?" These are questions to ponder in the dark of night when I cannot sleep. Or not.

What IS interesting, however, is the little brass crown. They mark the "Coronation Road" which 19 Austro-Hungarian emperors followed en route to being crowned in the Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral. 

Click on over to Donna's Personal Photography Challenge blog and discover links to people who really did follow the rules and succeeded. 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Adventure Awaits

Baby Showers. Lovely events to celebrate an anticipated birth, or a recent arrival. A couple of weeks ago, we held a baby shower for a new little one soon to be born, our third grandchild. The shower was held at the home of our daughter-in-law's sister. My two daughters and I helped with the shower.

Airplanes were a theme, with white clouds and paper airplanes hung from the ceiling.

Since it was a morning shower, we concentrated more on savory than sweet. These luscious fruit skewers were delicious and refreshing. 

A bouquet of red and white flowers in a blue vase graced the table. 

Big Sister, aka Little Miss A, attended. Who says jack-o-lantern pails are just for Halloween? She didn't want her photo taken that day so this is the best I could do.

Her favorite part of the shower, according to her mother, was the snack bag she received when she left. Her father called me later to find out if we had any left over. I sent them right over.

There was lots of delicious food. These Brie, Bacon and Onion Polenta Squares were delicious. Click on the link for the recipe.

Another tidbit were Bacon Date Snacks. They always disappear in a hurry. As I was packing them up to take them over, my husband said, "Be sure to bring home the leftovers." I didn't know if there would be any, so I left a couple at home. Again, click on the link for the recipe. 

The mother-to-be, our beautiful daughter-in-law. Just 10 more days of waiting, thereabouts, until we hold a sweet little new one. I can hardly wait.

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 ...