Showing posts from November, 2015

Thoughts on Hospitality

There comes a time, usually 5-6 hours before friends are due to arrive for dinner, when I think to myself, "Why did I want to have company? I'd like nothing better than to sit down in front of the television with a tray of leftovers." 

Then, once I begin executing the plans I've made, I feel much better and look forward to the evening. For me, planning and working ahead is key. One evening earlier in the week I ironed the tablecloth and napkins of vintage linen. 

Things that can be done ahead I do the night before - this time it was peeling and cubing the butternut squash, trimming the brussels sprouts, and making the salad dressing. 

For this particular get together, one friend offered to bring dessert and another brought appetizers. I augmented the latter with a bowl of nuts. Tim takes care of the wine. 

Saturday morning I vacuumed and dusted, and cleaned bathrooms. I would have done those things on Friday but didn't have the energy after working all day. 

I really …

Mug Rug Swap

Kim, from Camp and Cottage Living, organized a fun mug rug swap recently. Kim and I were partners and we both received our swap packages in the mail on the same day. Canada Post is consistent going from east to west and west to east!

Isn't that little reindeer the cutest thing? I'll enjoy using the mug rug and thinking of Kim as I drink my cocoa. But that's not all - she included a fun ornament and a jingly pin in the package....and

A tea towel trimmed to match the mug rug, personalized for my own kitchen. 

You'll notice that I didn't iron my tea towel before hanging it up. Do you ever iron tea towels? I learned to iron on tea towels, pillow cases and my father's handkerchiefs. Nice, flat things. There are a few tea towels I still iron, but not most of them. Same with pillowcases. How about you? 

And here's the mug rug that went east. After I looked at the photo on my computer, I realized that I hadn't stitched the cardinal's eye, so I did that before p…

Thoughts on Friday

The scent of mandarin oranges whispers "Christmas" to me. My parents would buy a box or two and keep them in cold storage in the basement. Each orange, wrapped in green tissue paper, had smooth skin that peeled easily, filled the air with exotic citrus, and tasted sweet.

Do you remember the wooden boxes? After the oranges disappeared, the box became any number of things - a shelf, a doll bed, the frame for a house. I think those wooden orange boxes started me on the path of a-box-for-everything.

For me, mandarin orange scent is Christmas, but for my children, who grew up in the jungle where mandarins grew year round, the scent reminds them of home. 

A couple of mornings ago Tim pointed out the full moon - in the morning! In the half light between night and day it shone fat and bright, framed by a few skimpy forsythia branches just off the deck. 

We're going through a cold spell - temperatures just below freezing at night, warming up to cool, but brilliant sunshine. Ice in th…

Chewing and Thinking

My current breakfast fixation - one apple, sliced, topped with plain full fat yogurt and a small handful of mixed nuts, chopped. I think I've had this every day for the past month. It keeps me going strong until lunchtime. 

It also takes awhile to chew. This morning, while chewing, I got to thinking. And after I finished chewing....

I took my big cup/mug of tea and sat down on the floor in front of the fire. Such a cozy place. First I toast my back, then my front. Just lovely.

Then I open my journal and begin making lists. It's the season! Lists of things to do, goodies to bake, menus to plan. Lists of shopping and decorating. Lists of giving. Lists to remind me to take the moments as they come. To enjoy. To simply be. What gets done, gets done. The rest doesn't matter.

I've always resisted purchasing Christmas dishes. Storage is an issue, for one thing. For another, we really do have plenty of plates. But these red and creamy white ones called out to me. "For Christm…

Increments of Time

Early last week, wild wind and rain splattered hard against cars and houses, whipping leaves off trees and flinging them against windows and windshields.  

Calm arrived a couple of mornings later, along with frost that soon melted. I captured the above photo from a bedroom window that looks towards the Olympic Mountains, seen here in hazy blue. 

The wind tore branches from trees in the neighbourhood and during a couple of evening walks, I picked up a few to fill the plant pots on the porch. I was happy to see, in the daylight, that several branches included pine cones. I'll add some cedar and holly to gussy the pots up for Christmas. 

Intense color streaked this afternoon's sky as we began our walk around the bog. 

During the summer the bog drains dry. I don't know where the ducks go, but once the rains begin and the water rises, the wildlife returns. Although the light faded quickly, I captured a few placid ducks paddling quietly.

Wind. Rain. Calm. Weather, like life, is chang…

Frosty outdoors, Cozy indoors

It's my first week-day morning at home in at least a month. The 8:30 a.m. class I've been teaching has been turned over to the regular teacher and I'm back to my usual afternoons. It's delightful. 

Yesterday morning was frosty. Before dashing to school, I zipped out to the garden with my camera. Rosebuds shiver, but still stand straight and pretty. 

The fig leaves have all dropped. The late crop of tiny figs is still on the tree, but they will soon fall, too, unable to flourish in these conditions. We rarely get to enjoy the second crop here.

I mentioned bathroom renos in my last post. We still haven't chosen the tile, but I did get something done. I had two of my photos printed onto canvas. These are 9 inch canvases because our ensuite is very small, and they fit perfectly. The shadows are awful, but that's the weather these days. When the work is complete, I'll show before and after photos of the rooms. But don't hold your breath. It might be awhile. I&#…

A Restful Weekend and Baked Eggs

It's been a quiet weekend. A few chores, a little sewing, a long walk in the rain with my husband (very Bronte-ish), some television watching, and very little computer time.

No photos, either, so I've recycled some from last fall. I played with still life arrangements for Donna's Personal Photo Challenge. This time I created a collage of a few of my favorites. (The link goes to her regular blog, as the photo challenge has been discontinued for now, after the death of her husband last December.) 

We've been working, over the past few months, on renovating our upstairs bathrooms. They are to the point of choosing tile for the back splash. Do you have any idea how many choices there are for tile? I'm sure it numbers in the thousands of thousands. I sort of know what I want. Tim needed to see for himself. We decided on something, then I found a sample of the same tile with grout and he decided he didn't like it. So we started all over again. No decision yet. 

A number…

Be Kind

Thinking of and praying for the people of France today. Such a broken, broken world. 

Yet, there is goodness.

Paris, 2009. My mother, my sister and I headed for the train station via the Metro. Going down the many stairs to the subway was a challenge with our luggage. A young Frenchman ran quickly down the stairs past us. At the bottom he stopped, turned around, ran back up, grabbed my mother's suitcase and took it all the way down for her. 

There are wonderful and beautiful things to see and do in Paris. But, this unexpected kindness from a complete stranger will be one of my most enduring memories of that beautiful city.

Be kind to each other.

Bits and Pieces

Waterfront properties are valuable pieces of investment. I think that if I lived in a house such as the one above, I'd have a hard time getting things done. My preferred activity might be sitting beside one of those windows staring at the water. 

Would you like to have your own private island? This small one, not too far from town, is for sale - complete with a "needs updating" home - for a cool half million or so.

Moody blues and greys are the colors of the day lately. Beautiful, serene, and sculptural.

Here and there, however, patches of bright wildflowers still bloom, unmindful of the calendar. 

Another bright spot over the weekend - taking the time to make a full breakfast for the two of us and chatting over a cup or two of tea or coffee. 

What's brightening your days?

We Will Remember Them

At the 11th hour,
           of the 11th day, 
                   of the 11th month...

We will remember them. 

November on the Water

The Skipper has been wanting to take the boat out one more time so he could change the oil before winter. Today was the day. Late morning we, along with two friends, launch and set our course for Salt Spring Island. 

Not many pleasure craft dot the water so late in the season, but a number of ferries, a couple of sail boats, and one Coast Guard vessel move through the steel-colored water. 

A bit of colour remains, but soon bare branches will stand against the evergreens. 

A derelict boat turns quietly at anchor. Calm water today belies the rain and wind of Saturday. 

Off in the distance St. Paul's Catholic Church is a reminder of the Kanaka (Hawaiian) settlers who built the church in 1880. It's the oldest building on the island. 

We tie up at the dock, take a short walk, and eat lunch at the Rock Salt Restaurant. I enjoy a huge bowl of steamed mussels with garlic bread. Other plates at the table include grilled salmon, a roasted yam quesadilla, and a chicken burger with borscht. Al…

Thoughts for Friday written on Thursday

Flowers left on a park bench. Drooping. I'm feeling a little bit that way myself. The time change - is there anyone who welcomes it? We get up in the near dark, and it's near dark again when I get home. Ugh. My head feels thick and stupid and I'm tired. 

Part of that tiredness is due from taking on a class for another teacher for a couple of weeks. More prep, more marking. Report cards due next week. 

When I arrived home this evening, I took my camera out into the garden. I'd noticed a few late blooms - dahlias, roses and osteospermum. I used a night setting, but managed just this one photo - the others were too blurry and I wasn't about to set up my tripod. 

Blooming in November. There's a lesson for me. Perhaps I'll make a cup of tea and settle down in front of the fire with my marking. A little autumn music - the sound track from Pride and Prejudice, or Vivaldi's Four Seasons - in the background. A cozy heated rice bag at my back. Suddenly, things look …

Birthdays, Apples and Caramel

Dinner on Sunday evening was at Il Terrazo, tucked into a pedestrian alley downtown. Such a lovely place. Brick fireplaces, lamps, plants and pottery, and a corner where the music was not playing made for a great ambiente as Tim said later. The food was wonderful, in fact, I brought part of my dish home and enjoyed it for lunch. 

Home then for cupcakes made by the youngest daughter (not in the photo). Chocolate cakes with Earl Grey icing and a caramel drizzle. Mmm good! Thanks, Ashley! The three  (yours truly, eldest daughter and daughter-in-law) birthday girls blew out the candles together.

I'm very fond of table linens. In August, while helping our youngest and her husband move, Ashley and I visited On the Table, a new-ish linen and decor store near their home. Oh. my. So many beautiful things.
I guess I oohed and aaahed sufficiently that the children went together and purchased this Italian linen table runner for me. It's thick, with a bit of lace on each end.  

One of my favor…

The Blue Hour - L'Heure Bleue

Rain pelted down much of Friday. Late in the afternoon, it ceased, just in time for a fast walk along the Selkirk waterway before going out for a casual birthday dinner with my husband. 

L'heure Bleue - the time of day when, because of the sun's angle, red light passes straight through into space and blue light is diffused. It's forty-five moments of uncertainty - is it day, or is it night?

During our walk the lights came on, twinkling across the water.  

Last night, these two cuties showed up on the doorstep, asking for treats. Who could resist? Not this Nana. They were very excited and I had to be quick to capture a photo. Don't you love the reflection of the lamp in the marble? 

After the Red Fish, and Sky from Paw Patrol (a show I'm just learning about) left for another party, we hopped in the car and headed over to the Woodland Fairy's house for a light dinner and trick or treating. Don't you think her wand is appropriate for the woods? 

Her mother created …