Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cherry Blossoms

Changeable. Clouds scud across the sky and tree tops toss their heads. Bright sunshine alternates with showers of spattering rain. And all over town blossoms are whipped off the trees to twirl a confetti dance.

Airy pink lines the streets. In some pockets of town the blossoms are nearly finished. In others they are just beginning. Who can resist a cherry tree in blossom?

Not me. The wind tore at our scarves and hair, but I was determined to get some cherry tree blossom photos.

Home now. A cup of tea and some photo editing. A lovely Sunlit Sunday.

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

Five on Friday

1. The miniature daffodil buds have opened into full flower. I'm getting antsy to get out into the garden. Rain showers are scheduled for the weekend, but perhaps I can get out there between the drops and do a little more clean up. Spring means lots of work outdoors, but then things settle down and don't require as much time.

2. Another photo of the bog. I fancy I see a little bit of green on the bushes here and there. Perhaps it's just wishful thinking.

3. We enjoy watching the drakes and hens swimming around together these days. There are a few American Coots in the water, too, but they don't pair off in the same way, and, in fact, often seem to be making an unwelcome third. They are such awkward looking birds and remind me of some of my young students who have not yet grown into their limbs.

4. I had my husband's grandmother's crocheted lace tablecloth out recently and used my macro lens to take a photo of it. The centre motif is a scant one-half inch diameter. Such intricate work and a labour of love that I treasure.

5. It's no secret to those who know me that I'm a Francophile. The fleur-de-lis topped crown sits in my garden and is becoming wonderfully aged and rusted. These days, we are planning our summer trip to England, Wales, and surprisingly, France. France was not on the original agenda (to my regret), but when friends contacted us about doing a Paris to Normandy river cruise, we began thinking about it. The dates will work with the remainder of our trip, so I'll be seeing Paris once again. In England we plan to visit London for a few days and the Cotswolds and then Wales. We have the dates organized and now are beginning to plan what we will have time to see, for we know that it would take a very long time to see everything on our list. 

I'm linking with Five on Friday (it's still Friday here) hosted by Amy of Love Made My Home. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waking Up

The calendar says late winter, but the sun beguiles and charms. I drop my bag of marking, pick up my camera and head outside. What is that I feel on my back?

Warmth. Faint, but definite. I close my eyes and turn my face upwards, bathing in warmth. I cannot help but smile.

Oh, look! The first forsythia bud is opening. Soon there will be a flurry of gold. 

An unnamed and soon unloved weed displays a starry cloud that provides for it a short reprieve from yanking.

Fragrant rosemary opens purple to the light, awaiting the bees. Like a slow awaking from a heavy sleep, earth stretches and sighs, slumbers a bit, and stirs some more.

"Soon," she mumbles, "I'll be there soon." 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Spring in the Bog

The skies looked ominous as we set out for an afternoon walk. Soon the drops fell, scattered at first, then in a steady downpour that echoed through the hood of my raincoat. 

We kept on slogging around the bog trail and as we rounded the last corner where the path came out of the trees, sunlight appeared. And not only sunlight, but rainbows. Double, full arches stretching across the landscape. The red-winged blackbird trilled a merry song. As he posed, I snapped several photos of him with the rainbow in the distance.

Mr. Red-wing was oblivious to the rainbow; he was trilling a love song to his mate, luring her near. She finally obliged by perching on a lower branch. 

A little further along, Mr. and Mrs. Duck bobbed their heads delicately in a mating ritual. Droplets drip from their beaks as they dip and bob again.

Yes, it's spring in the bog. There will be chilling winds and lots of rain yet, but it's starting.

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five on Friday

This week's weather almost had us drawing up plans for an ark. Later in the week the weather dried up a little and I squelched out to the garden to see what was up. Tiny daffodils are beginning to emerge. In the background purple hyacinths show their colour.

Have you heard that Google is shutting down Picasa (online photo storage)? I'm leery about storing my photos in the cloud, but I've used Picasa (the downloaded version) to view and do simple edits of my photos for years. As of March it will no longer be supported. I have a few other photo-editing programs (free) that I'd like to check out. Do any of you have one you find useful?

The days are brightening noticeably, but the fire remains the focus indoors. My Valentine roses are holding up well and add a bit of elegance to the living room. 

Candlelight is still very welcoming, too. Winter may be losing his grip here on the west coast, but today the wind was chill, reminding me that spring is capricious and moody.

How do you handle having a long list of things to do and not enough time to do them? When I find myself getting overwhelmed, I tuck myself onto the couch and lose myself in a book for an hour. When I emerge from that fictional world I find myself much more equipped to cope with life as it is. And everything that really needs to get done, gets done. 

During a discussion in the staff room about reading as stress relief, the term "brain candy" was used. The above book falls into this category. Easy, pleasant reading. I'm hoping to consume a little more brain candy this weekend. 

Linking with Amy for Five on Friday

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Aged Beauty

One tulip petal falls onto the windowsill, then another. Two remain, arched protectively over stamens and pistil. 

Withering into wild and graceful curves. Swirling lines. Deepening colour. 

Beauty is not just for the young and fresh. 

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever"
John Keats

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lemons on Sunlit Sunday

A week ago the sun shone and we worked in the yard. I took a peek under the lemon tree cover and was pleased to see ripe lemons. We picked 2 dozen and covered the tree again for another few months. 

The Lemon Dessert cookbook was a Christmas gift from a friend.

This week the rain poured down, and I did a little puttering in the kitchen. Since my husband prefers lemon to chocolate, I made a batch of lemon curd. 

And then what to do with the lemon curd? A batch of macarons seemed just the thing.

I should have known better than to attempt macarons on such a rainy day. They turned out a little flat, without the cute "feet" characteristic of a successful macaron.

But they taste scrumptious, filled with lemon curd and raspberry jam. Lemons, lemon curd, and macarons certainly brighten up the greyness outside. 

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

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Five on Friday

Our students listened to a personal security presentation today. The digital world can be frightening, and dangerous for those unaware. For two hours the presenter held his audience's attention. I learned a lot about internet safety. And I also learned how much I don't know. Darren Laur is a former police officer. He's not anti-internet, but counsels students to develop an online presence that is strong and positive rather than one that may come back to haunt someone in the future.

Mr. F. turned two this week. His mother created a perfect cake for a little boy who clutches his Thomas and Friends trains tightly wherever he goes. Each train car was a small cake (some chocolate, some white) with different toppings. Yum!

February is flying by. It's almost Valentine's Day. I pulled a few things out of my VD box (shoebox size), including the patchwork heart done several years ago, and the stitched post card finished last year.

I don't think I've ever been so busy in my entire life. I confess that taking on another English class has more than doubled my work load. I know that I'm still easing into it, and I'm hopeful that I'll develop a rhythm of lesson prep and marking that won't consume every waking moment.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. There will be some housework to do, but I also hope to do a little sewing or stitching. I'd love to work in the garden as I did on Monday (holiday here). The sun beamed with real warmth and I made some progress weeding and trimming. However, we're back to rain, rain, rain, so I'll stay cozy indoors. 

How about you? Indoors or out this weekend? Linking up with Five on Friday, hosted by Amy of Love Made My Home. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

City Life

Last Wednesday this school teacher hopped a big, yellow school bus for a trip to the big city. 5100 teachers met for a conference for independent schools. The conference was both inspiring and overwhelming. So many ideas. Too many ideas. 

North Vancouver seen from the Conference Centre

Many people confuse the city of Vancouver with Vancouver Island. They are not the same place. Vancouver (the city) is on the North American Continent. Vancouver Island is roughly 100 kilometres from Vancouver, and is accessible by air and water. There is no fixed link. 

I took a break from the crowds during one lunch hour for a walk around the block. With my camera. I find the city very beautiful, although I never want to live there. The far building is slanted out towards the street and it appears to be leaning over for a better look at the water.

So many glass towers reflecting sky and sea. And each other. Buildings within buildings.  

Our closing speaker was Col. Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station. He spoke, then ended with a revised version of David Bowie's Space Oddity, a song that he sang from space. Have you watched any of his YouTube videos? He made life in space real for many people.

Car co-ops are very popular in Vancouver. Here is a row of Cars-to-Go ready for use. Our city-based children don't own their own car - they use public transit or pick up one of these car share vehicles. Saves on parking and insurance! It was great to meet up one evening to share dinner.

At least the grass was green. Little else showed much colour. Grey, grey, grey, intermixed with rain, rain, rain.

I enjoyed the visit to vibrant, beautiful Vancouver, but was happy to get back to our smaller city across the water. Is city life for you? 

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Sunny Moments

When the sun came out this afternoon, I slipped into my shoes and headed out the door. Mild air surrounded me as I wandered around the garden, camera in hand. Roses are beginning to leaf out; pruning will happen when the forsythia blooms.

A heart-shaped patch of moss caught my eye. 

Mint grows in a sheltered spot and is beginning to show signs of new growth, illuminated by the welcome sunlight. 

The sunniest moment, for me, was watching these two small faces respond to the story being read by their grandpa. I love the way each girl cuddles her soft stuffed toy while looking intently at the illustrations. How quickly they grow up. 

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

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Five on Friday

It's been a wild week. A new semester, new classes, new students, writing report cards, and a conference to attend. Whew. 
In the midst of the wildness, I come home, collapse in front of the fire with a cup of tea, and focus on simple things that bring me calmness.

These pale pink tulips are one of them. Tight closed buds have opened. Their stems stretched quickly and I've had to trim them down already. 
The silver jug, found in a vintage shop, is another beautiful thing I enjoy, along with the lacy doily on the tray - crocheted by my friend who is also my daughter's mother-in-law. 

The red dishes of December and January have been replaced by pretty china plates and teacups. I like this topsy turvy stack. Each pattern holds meaning - the top one is the pattern I chose when I was 15 and given by my mother, the second is from my mother-in-law, the third part of my wedding china, and the fourth a cup I purchased in memory of a dear aunt.

Rain poured down this week. In those odd moments when the sun pours into the house, I admire the shadows and play of light. Here on the plate wall, the blinds cast long lines.

I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon utterly spent. I grabbed the mail on my way in and noticed a large manila envelope. Inside was this magazine, tied with a bit of white trim. A gift from Brenda, who knows, as well as I do, the value of having beautiful projects to inspire one, even though the projects themselves may not come into being. I so enjoyed turning the pages and admiring the lovely projects. That was a very sunny moment in this week. 

Linking with Amy's Five on Friday.  

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What I cooked and why

Last Thursday morning I went for a haircut and did some errands. It was exam week so the schedule was different and I teach in the afternoons. A text came in asking if I would be at school that day. Well, as it turned out, more funding came in for the learning assistance department, allowing the head teacher there to stay full time in that position and not have to teach English 10.

You might guess where this is going. Yes, instead of teaching just afternoons, I'm at school all day, beginning at 8:30 with a lovely class of 20 English 10 students. 

Hence all the cooking on the weekend. These photos are just a portion of it. I wanted to have at least this week organized. Above you see small jars of vegetable soup headed for the freezer. I'll take them in my lunch. And we enjoyed the soup on Sunday. 

I love roasted butternut squash. But coming home late and wrestling with a squash is not my idea of relaxation. Luckily, it can be peeled and cubed, then stored for several days in a container in the fridge.

I cooked up these Brussels sprouts to crisp tender, threw in a handful of dried cranberries and stirred in a spoonful of orange marmalade. Delicious and easy.

Every couple of months I make a batch of sausage. This is ground turkey, but pork or chicken or even beef works, too. Sometimes I form the sausage into patties and freeze them to cook as needed, or, like this time, I cook the meat and freeze it. It's easy to crumble some into eggs or soups.

I madly lesson planned on Friday and looked over stuff on the weekend, and I survived the first day! Ironically, my daughter taught the same two English courses I'm now teaching and I'm relying heavily on her binders of resources and plans. No need to invent the wheel! At least, not all at once!

What tips do you have for meal preparation when things look busy? Do you use your freezer?  

Days at Home

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