Showing posts from July, 2015

Random Bits and Pieces

Last weekend we went to the mainland for a family picnic. You may remember a dinner in May where we celebrated my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. This was a larger event, some 35 of us gathered at my nephew's.

The biggest draw, for most of the second cousins, was the trampoline. The saddest faces occurred when it was time to give someone else a turn. I've only included our grandchildren in these photos, but others enjoyed the bouncing, too. Oh, the energy. And it struck me how long and lanky those girls are getting at 4.5 and 3. 

Our back fence neighbour and I often chat over our respective compost bins and gardens. Last summer I admired his gorgeous poppies and he generously gave me an envelope of seeds to plant. I need to ask his advice because while this flower is gorgeous, the plant isn't nearly as tall as his. And only one plant flowered.

Such deep, rich colour in this lace cap hydrangea. Such intricacy of design.

There were blackberry bushes with a few berries at …

Beautiful Blues

What kind of blogs do you read? My blog list includes "slice of life" blogs much like I write, with a focus on finding beauty and pleasure in the ordinary things of life, but I also enjoy reading blogs about food, fashion, travel, photography and more. 

Several weeks ago a black box tied with a ribbon arrived in my mailbox. I knew what it contained and could hardly wait to open it.

One of my favorite fashion blogs is The Vivienne Files, written by Janice. Her posts are full of wonderful ideas on how to have a coordinated wardrobe that will give you the clothes you want when you want and/or need them.

She held a giveaway for the scarf above, from KathKath in the UK, for one lucky reader. I was so surprised and pleased when my name was chosen. This scarf is lovely to touch and even more lovely to wear.  

It will go well with my wardrobe - largely based on black, grey, navy, and blue. At first I wondered how I would wear this scarf in the heat we've had, but I saw a woman in t…

Preserving Summer

The lovely scent of rain-washed air blew in the window early Friday morning. Throughout the weekend, rain fell in fits and starts.
"Welcome, welcome," said the earth. 
"Ahhh," breathed the plants. 
"Relief," sighed the forest.

And the rest of us didn't mind at all. 

It was a good day to preserve summer. Chop a few apricots.

Combine them with some sugar in a deep pot. Stir and let them meld together while you...

run out to the herb patch to clip some rosemary, not even minding that you can feel your hair gaining volume and frizzing in the damp air.

The piney smell of rosemary rises to your nostrils as you chop it finely, then...

add it to the apricots and sugar. The mixture bubbles for 15 to 20 minutes while you stand and stir, thinking of summer and winter and the sweetness of apricots combines with the pungency of rosemary and it's all you can do not to eat the mixture by the spoonful.

You think of melting Brie and cheese scones and perhaps a glaze for ch…

Garden Gone Wild

Last night after dinner I asked Tim's help with the tomatoes. They are a tangled mass of stems and green tomatoes. I can't tell which branch belongs to which plant. The cages have fallen over with the weight of the growth and the tomatoes. So we spent some time tying everything up. 

This morning I went out to cut a bouquet for the house. Several years ago I moved the phlox from the front to the back, but it's a persistent perennial and there are several stalks growing where they shouldn't. I cut them down this morning and added some hydrangea to the vase.

Three years ago we planted an apricot tree. In our climate it needs full rain cover, so it shares a roof with the lemon tree. This is the first year we are enjoying apricots and are they ever good. It's the height of luxury to pick a perfectly ripened apricot and bite into its juicy, sweet warmth right there in the garden.

The backyard, transplanted phlox is blooming madly. I love the bright white against the cedar …

Enjoying the Ordinary

This summer is a bit crazy. Between trips and house guests, all very good things, the "lazy and hazy" days of summer are few and far between. 

An evening stroll in the garden revealed the purple coneflower blooming its little heart out. 

We picked a few plums from the tree hanging its fruit over our son and daughter-in-law's fence. I made three jars of jam. Love the light shining through revealing the chunks of fruit.

I used a recipe from this book. The concept of small batch preserving is good when there's just the two of us and we don't eat as much jam as we used to. I plan on using some of the plum jam to make an oriental plum dipping sauce for meatballs.

This week is quieter. I took our Australian friend to the airport on Monday morning. I'm doing a little sewing, a little preserving, a little gardening, and lots of quiet thinking. 

How's your week? Busy or calm?

It's Cooler on the Water

Saturday. 6:28 am. Uncannily calm water. Tim and I launch the boat early. 

The sun in the east shimmers behind light clouds. Granola, yogurt, hardboiled eggs and tea for breakfast. We anchor. Nap. At 9:30 we head back to the dock and pick up our passengers - our visitor from Australia along with Eldest Daughter and Husband, and a Little Miss.

A seal swims nearby. Curious. Watchful. He soon dives under the cool sea.

The sea sparkles (or "farkles" as someone says). We anchor and stern tie in Royal Cove and hike a short distance to a rocky shore. Blue water dotted with boats of all sorts - big, small, mostly white. They pass to and fro.

Open areas on the island are sere and golden. They prompt the Little Miss - "this grass is poky, Nana." We name the place "The Island of Poky Grass." 

On the white midden beach she prepares dishes of Cobb Salad with Chicken for us. I line them up in a row for a photo and sadly, that stops the game. Patience, Nana.

Tiny crabs. Tini…

Thoughts on Friday

Whoosh! That's the sound of summer days passing by at an alarming rate. A friend is visiting from Australia and I'm having fun showing her the sights. Butchart Gardens was a must - that was Wednesday. Tuesday was our seaside walk in Sidney and yesterday was spent downtown. All these photos are from Butchart Gardens.

Perfect symmetry in this dahlia from the Perfect Designer. I love the way each curled petal is holding a tiny droplet of water.

Interplantings. If you've been around my blog for very long, you'll know that I'm fond of pinks, blues and whites in the garden, and tend towards the cool and understated. 

I took time on this visit to appreciate some of the other combinations. It's easy for me to admire, briefly, the hotly coloured begonias and leave without taking a photo. Above is a sampling of interplanting that is warm and vibrant - it fairly pops.

In contrast, here's another group of plants that, put together, form a very different impression. Calmer.…

A Seaside Walk

A friend and I walked along the water this afternoon. Our temperatures have cooled down to the very pleasant mid-twenties (Celsius). Queen Anne's Lace is in bloom everywhere along the roadsides and beaches. 

A unique decorative windmill, charming to watch spinning round and round in the breeze. 

This single white feather, caught in a flower bed, probably drifted down from one of the many gulls curving over the area. 

More Queen Anne's Lace, some going to seed already. I've heard this plant called Cow Parsley, but often wonder if it's the same thing. Whatever the name, it's so graceful and pretty.

Back to the Jungle

Humid. Warm. Damp. Lush. Trickling water. Harsh cry of a macaw. A thousand shades of green. Butterfly World. An indoor garden for tropical creatures. The only thing missing is the musty jungle smell of decomposing plant life.  

Tortoises, flamingos, koi fish, and geckos live happily alongside the hundreds of butterflies that glide from flower to flower. Above is Little E, (Eclectus). He tilts his head this way and that and eyes Miss A with interest.

Beautifully coloured butterflies. The Lantana in the top right photo above is something we called the Fruit Loop Bush because of its multicolored blossoms. 

The only butterfly I recognize is the Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides), seen above. When the wings are closed, the spots are distinctive, but it's the iridescent blue on the inside of the wings from which it gets its name. Truly beautiful but hard to capture with the camera. I'm thrilled when one lands on my shoulder and stays there for 5-10 minutes while we wander around. Miss A …

Five on Friday

We sat outside as the sun sank low against the Sooke Hills. While chatting with Tim, the light played on the flowers and I was struck by the echo of petals in the white container, so much so that I retrieved my camera for a couple of shots. 

This pretty basket of lobelia, petunia and the smaller white flowers caught my eye in Charlottetown last month. So fresh and lovely. I'm afraid my hanging basket is looking rather the worse for wear with the extended heat.

I cut lavender this week. A bundle lies on the entry table and this little pouch in the china cabinet. I stitched the pouch a few years ago from a damask linen napkin from the thrift store and added a row of odd buttons to the cuff.

Cold and sweet. I like to keep some kind of frozen treat handy during the summer for friends and family. This is the second batch of fudgesicles so far. The recipe is below if you'd like to try it. Those of a certain age will recognize the Tupperware* molds - these are from my childhood.