Friday, January 23, 2015

Dinner Together

Last Saturday evening the family (minus a couple) gathered for a turkey dinner. I didn't cook a turkey over Christmas and had one in the freezer. One of my favorite parts of preparing a meal is setting the table. 

All the drizzly grey had me craving color. I really love the Anna Maria Horner fabric I used for the table runner. 

X marks the spot. Or in this case, a K. Each place was marked with the first letter of the person's name. The Little Misses know their letters and could easily find where they were to sit. Nana messed up a little, though. She'll know next time that the cousins want to sit beside each other, not across from each other.

Cooking and eating a turkey dinner without the accompaniment of Christmas was a very calm event. 

I'll be taking a blogging break for a week or so. See you in February!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Spare Beauty

Grey. Austere. Bleak. January can be all of these. It's certainly grey around here. So grey that distinguishing colour in the landscape can be difficult. 

Yesterday I took a quick walk around the Bog. Robins sang in the trees; they don't mind the lack of leaves. 

January forces me to look a bit harder, to notice the small things. Moss and lichen cluster on branches, a muted harmony of texture and neutral colour.

A Dark-eyed Junco perches in a tangle of twigs, cocking his head and eyeing me warily. I long to hold his soft feathered body in my hands, just for a moment.

This Bewick's Wren flitted from low branch to low branch, finally landing in a muddle of grass. How well he blends with the landscape. But, there, do you see them - green blades among the brown?

I stopped to watch the ducks, as I often do, and felt a bit like a voyeuse. It's courting season on the pond - delicate head bobbing, a bit of neck entwining, and finally mating. Not long now before ducklings!

Another pair of mallards taking a nap, heads buried deep in feathers. It doesn't look very comfortable to me, but to each her/his own.

Queen Anne's Lace, delicate and fragile, yet it stands in wind and rain, on tall graceful stalks that hold the promise of life deep beneath the earth. Elegant, austere. Beautiful.

"Wait," says January. "Life abounds beneath the surface. Have faith. Hold fast."

What is there that is beautiful in your January world? 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tea by the Fire

The first time I traveled to the southern USA, many years ago now, I ordered tea with my meal. I was utterly surprised (and not a little disappointed) when my glass of iced tea arrived. Ordering tea, to me, a Canadian, meant hot tea. During the year we lived in Texas, I soon learned to specify whether I wanted my tea hot or iced.

January has been deemed Hot Tea Month. Do you ever wonder who decides these things? I do.  January is a very good month for hot tea, although I drink it year round.

During the night the wind rose and howled around the house and lashed rain against the windows. This afternoon the howls and rain continue. A cup of tea by the fire is a very, very good thing. 

To make it a bit of an event, I used one of my Paragon tea cups (Romance is the pattern name) and I pulled a pink gerbera, from the bunch I bought two weeks ago, to add a little colour to the tray.

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January Days

In spite of the grey sky, this arbutus (madrona) tree seems to glow, reaching upward with twisted limbs. 

Primroses appear on nursery shelves and outside the grocery store. Mine are not yet blooming, but soon. 

I've been very uninspired with photo taking so far this January. Both of these photos are from two years ago. Work and other projects have kept me indoors other than for an evening walk with Tim. As the light increases I'm hopeful that my photo taking mojo will return. In the meantime, I'm looking for sunshine wherever I can find it.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden.


Thursday, January 15, 2015


Mrs. MacDonald presided over the Grade 2 classroom. Grade 2 doesn't hold the same impact that Grade 1 with Mrs. Cook did. That year, my first in school (no kindergarten), I learned to read. That accomplishment changed my life forever.

Looking back, though, Mrs. MacDonald was likely very creative. It's in her classroom that I remember making paper fans, Valentine envelopes, and all sorts of flowers.

She taught us to cut blue, purple, yellow or white paper into strips (using a ruler as a guide) and then to draw the strip carefully but firmly over the edge of a scissor blade to create a curl. To one end I applied glue and then fastened the curl to a sheet of construction paper. More curls were added to form an oval mass of curls that resembled a hyacinth. We cut a stem and two long green leaves and glued them carefully in place.

Yesterday the sun beamed into the living room creating stripes of warmth between the window blind slats. Two potted hyacinths, purchased a week ago, began to open and filled the room with fragrance, triggering memories of long ago.

Tell me, did you make hyacinth blooms from paper the same way?

Nana spent some time with a Little Miss yesterday as well. Her mother had an appointment so we ate breakfast together and made pompom tea. Washing dishes is so much fun! Her eyes are as blue as the hyacinth blossoms.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Duck Antics

On Sunday afternoon I went to the pantry to get my after-lunch-square-of-chocolate only to discover that there was none. This is serious! So Tim and I decided to walk to the store via a loop around Rithet's Bog. 

Grey skies, drizzle, frost, or sun make no difference to the mallard ducks who reside at the bog. They paddle around and provide light entertainment for those who stop to watch, as we often do.

Although I know these ducks are dabblers who feed just below the surface of the water, this particular pose reminds me of how I feel some mornings - "it can't be time to wake up yet!"- as I roll over and pull the covers.

The bold bit of blue on this female reminds me of a well-dressed woman in neutrals with that pop of colour that draws the eye.

But who is this? A strange chicken-shaped bird I'd never seen before. He looked a little odd among the ducks. My trusty guide book informed me that this is an American Coot who likes hanging around with the mallards. He reminded me of a teenage boy whose feet grew faster than the rest of him.

Two male mallards engaged in a squabble and a furious chase around the pond that raised great splashes of water.

More hawthorn berries. The water droplets are indicative of the moisture in the air - rain fell during the night, but none during the day.

I did get my chocolate (Lindt 70%) and very much enjoyed it with a cup of tea later in the afternoon. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Finding Light Where We Can

High noon. Light casts distinct shadows against the wall. Unfortunately, the light is artificial as our days are grey and drizzly. There's a quiet beauty to the mist that I haven't been able to capture with my camera quite yet.

Drizzly days are good for curling up with a new book. It's been awhile since I've visited Mitford and I have to confess that it's taken me awhile to really get into the story. I'm there now, looking forward to discovering how the saga unfolds.

Last night we went to watch The Imitation Game. Thought-provoking in several regards. Well done. Thoroughly enjoyable. Have you seen it?

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith, and with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen.  


Friday, January 09, 2015

Before Christmas Sewing and Soccer Coach

Making gifts is something I like to do. I get ideas all year long, but never make anything until shortly before the gift-giving event. Before Christmas I worked a lot and thus, my sewing output suffered. These are a few things I did manage to finish.
My daughter-in-law is interested in embroidery, so I made her this case.

I purchased this pattern as a PDF download from Anna at Noodle-Head. The instructions were fairly clear although I'll change a few things the next time I make it.

Katie also wanted a pin cushion so I whipped this one up at the last minute. I love that leaf print. 


For Eldest Daughter (who runs Dapple Design Shop), I stitched up this sewing organizer from the same fabrics. The bag is for collecting threads and trimmings by the sewing machine and the pin cushion is weighted to sit firmly on the table. One of these might be in the works for me - threads are everywhere when I sew.

For the little girls I made pillowcases, one of Frozen* fabric and the other of Princesses (one wearing a green dress which is very important to a little girl who loves the colour.) I pulled the snowman fabric from my stash and whipped up a set of wintry cases for the guest room, too.

Few photos have been taken around here lately. Sickness, then other things have filled my days. Today, I subbed. English in the morning and Physical Education in the afternoon.

I giggled to myself during the Grade 10 Boys' PE class. They played soccer out on the field. I numbered off teams, assigned pinnies, asked boys to set up the temporary goal posts, then walked between the two ongoing games, blowing my whistle when it was time to change opponents. All the boys are taller and heavier than I am. I am the least sporty person ever and it tickled me no end to play this role of gym teacher. The students were great. Tim laughed when I told him about my day, too.

I'm looking forward to getting the house in order this weekend, go for a walk, out to a movie with my husband, and maybe do a little sewing. How about you?


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

In the Pink

Oh, but I'm feeling better. Thank you for your kind wishes and commiseration earlier this week. I'm sleeping well, my head is almost clear and I've rejoined the land of the living. 

Walking through the grocery store these pink gerberas tempted me and I succumbed. They are brightening up the entry way which has been looking a little blank after the holidays. I managed to put everything away but didn't get the everyday stuff put back. That's still to come.

I also felt well enough to try a new salad. No real recipe, although I used a few tricks I'd read about - like massaging the kale. I used coarse salt and Persian Lime Olive Oil. The result was tender kale and hands that smelled wonderful. 

Do you chop or tear your greens? I prefer them cut. I think they are crisper that way and crisp is how I like them. I will tear the soft lettuce that grows in early spring, or butter lettuce, but for the rest - chop, chop.

I cut the kale, one bunch from the grocery store, after removing the ribs. Into a bowl with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a drizzle (1 Tablespoon) of olive oil. Then in with the well-washed hands, tossing, gently squeezing, tossing. I added sliced radishes, pomegranate seeds, chopped onion, grated carrot, sunflower seeds, diced cucumber and goat cheese to the kale. Another drizzle of olive oil and one of Cranberry Pear Vinegar (use whatever you've got). Toss again. Eat. Any remaining cold germs fled away in horror from all those vitamins.

There's plenty leftover for dinner to go along with our roasted sweet potatoes and roast chicken. I know I'm feeling better when I feel like cooking again.



Tragedy strikes everywhere in this broken world. Have we become numb? This latest attack in Paris leaves me bewildered. A free press is essential to free thinking and free living. I applaud those who print controversy although I may not always agree with their opinions.

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." (attributed to Voltaire)

Paris et la France - cet acte vilain a suscité une immense peine de par le monde. 


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Sinking into the Quiet

Purchasing stock in Kleenex* would have been a good thing. Since Sunday I've been sniffling and reaching for tissue after tissue. Ugh. I've done very little. But I think I'm feeling a little better today (I think I am, I think I am, I think I am.)  

In a burst of energy this morning I moved photos from my camera to my computer. These Wine-poached Pears with Creme Anglaise served as dessert at my parents' place last week. Some of the pears were overripe, some under. C'est la vie. We're into gluten free desserts at family gatherings these days due to a family member recently diagnosed with celiac. Ho hum.

As I was feeling even more energetic, I moved the photos from my phone to my computer as well. We had dinner at Les Faux Bourgeois with our daughter and SIL. Daughter ordered Moules Marinières (Mussels in a white wine sauce) and we all shared. All of our meals were good, but if I ever get back there, I'm definitely ordering this dish. The fries were the best I've ever had outside of Belgium and the mussels and sauce simply delectable. 

Since I was feeling so spectacular this morning, I took my camera along when I dumped the kitchen waste into the compost bin. We've had a very mild winter and many of the shrubs still have green leaves. This jasmine shows the effect of a little frost and rain.

All that activity has left me exhausted so I'm back to sipping lemon honey tea with my feet up on the couch, tissue box to hand. Sniffle, sniffle.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A Walk Along the Shore

Just before Christmas I was out and about, buying groceries, running errands, and the sun beguiled me into taking a walk along the shore.

The temperature hovered just around freezing and in the tumbled hollows of driftwood, bits of ice lingered.

Grasses stood sere and golden against the hard blue sky and steely sea, rustling in the chill breeze.

A few ducks paddled in the ocean, but the usually plentiful gulls were absent, perhaps hunkered down in some sheltered spot.

Rich red Hawthorn berries added welcome colour to the scene.

Waves ruffled along the shore and the plentiful debris bore witness to the wild winds that pummeled our island several days previous.
This bit of solitude was just what I needed before the festivities began. I read the poem again more recently and thought it appropriate for January when life seems to settle into quiet.

Linking with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen, and tomorrow I'll join Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

It's Just One Word

1. have the courage to do something 
synonyms: be brave enough, have the courage, venture, have the nerve, have the temerity, be so bold as, have the audacity, risk, hazard, take the liberty, stick one's neck out, go out on a limb

I'm pretty much a chicken. I like my comfortable routines. I've done a few brave things in my life, but I mostly settle for the easy. 
Over the past few weeks, I've returned again and again to look at the photos from the 4 year old birthday party. From these photos I've taken my word for 2015 - Dare.

There have been some hurts and hard things in the past few years that have caused me to draw into myself, to trust God less and worry more. Less laughter, more cynicism. 

Time to change that. To Dare.

Dare - to be myself

Dare - to trust God

Dare - to believe the best of others

Dare - to love without judging

Dare - to stretch myself

Dare - to dream and then work to form it into reality

Dare - to try new adventures

Dare. That's my word for 2015. 

I don't know what measure of joy or sadness will be poured out for me during this year. My intention is to live each day as God gives it to me, daring to be the person He wants me to be. 

At times I'll likely stick my neck out. Other times I'll dare to keep my mouth firmly shut. Both may prove difficult. 

How about you? Intentions? Goals? Any words or phrases to set the tone for this year? I'd love to hear them.  

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 ...