Thursday, May 26, 2016

Five on Friday: Four Flowers and a Recipe

A climbing rose against the deck, name unknown. Weathered boards add texture to a photo, but I'm embarrassed to say these are ours. They are almost past the point of scraping and painting - I fear they might crumble into nothing. We're not quite ready to replace the railing, so I'll enjoy the shabbiness patina and texture.

Pale pink peonies about to burst into bloom. I prefer this delicate shade to the darker pink, although they are both beautiful.

Hydrangeas, paler than normal, but perhaps they will darken as the season wears on. 

Rhubarb leaves as big as umbrellas had me whacking them back and finding tough stalks that I discarded. There were lots of tender stalks and I brought some in to make these Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bars. Oh, but they are good. 

I found the recipe here, and adapted it not a whit. The cream cheese mellows out the tartness of rhubarb and the oats add a bit of bite to the creaminess.  

And the lavender is blooming. Everything (as I keep on saying) is so very early! It was windy today as I took these photos and that is especially evident in this photo. Sometimes life can toss us around. 

Many of you know Vee of A Haven for Vee, a dear blogging friend. Her husband, John, has a torn aorta which has meant surgery and continued cardiac care. If you are a praying person, please pray for John and Vee. 

I'm linking to Amy's Five on Friday, a great link up full of interesting posts.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

Every Weekend Should Be Long

Monday evening. This Victoria Day weekend has passed by in a satisfying melange of family, friends, garden, reading and puttering.

Radishes are ready for eating: crunchy, with a mild peppery bite. Delicious just rinsed and eaten whole, but yummy added to salads, too.

The pink peonies are at their peak and the fat buds on the white bush will burst any day. I picked a bunch for the house, along with silvery soft lamb's ears and perky lemon balm. They make me smile when I catch glimpses of them on the dining room table. Another vase full sits on the mantel. 

Saturday was spent in the garden - the pots on the porch and deck are filled with gerbera daisies, lobelia, heliotrope and something silvery whose name escapes me. I weeded and trimmed, planted a new rose bush (Winchester Cathedral - a David Austin rose), and didn't really want to come indoors. But tummies growled and I wondered what to make for dinner. A vegetable souffle tickled my fancy so that's what I made.

I forgot how many dishes it takes to make a souffle. And how many steps. However, they came together quickly and I cleaned up the kitchen while they underwent the magic of baking. The recipe made 6 - 8 oz souffles. Two went down that night and the other two were reheated and eaten for breakfast this morning with Buttermilk Biscuits.

Barbara of Small Moments organized a stationery swap not long ago. I was paired with Stephanie of The Enchanting Rose who sent me the wonderful parcel of goodies seen above. French-themed note cards (handmade!), loads of tags and labels, pretty ribbons and papers, and three pieces of beautiful fabric. Everything was tied up with strips of tulle and tucked into the box. Thank you so much, Stephanie!

One more peony photo to end with. Tomorrow it's back to school, but the countdown to exams and summer holidays is beginning! June 17 is the last day of classes.

Thank you for all the lovely comments you leave on my blog. I read them and try to visit your blogs in return. I know it's hard to click back into a conversation. Have a week filled with moments to remember.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Five on Friday

As soon as possible in the spring/summer, I cease wearing socks. I go barefoot in the house and slip into my shoes when going out. I think this habit is leftover from my years in the jungle when I barely owned socks. 

Barefoot season came early this year, but it seems to be retracting a little. Wind blew a bit of welcome rain and less welcome cooler temperatures over night. The garden is delighted.

I'm terrible at remembering the names of my plants. I know this rose is a floribunda, but have no recollection of the name. Still, "what's in a name?" 

I do remember the name of the rosebud in the top photo and this open one - Secret. It's very fragrant and blooms throughout the summer.

A raindrop clings to a stalk of lavender about to burst into bloom. I think it's my potting bench in the reflection.

This evening I picked about a pint of strawberries. So early. So sweet and delicious.

Five things from my garden for this week. I'm looking forward to a long weekend with Monday off. There are weeds to pull, pots to plant and radishes and beets to thin. Other than that I'm looking forward to puttering and relaxing. What do you have planned?

Linking to Five on Friday hosted by Amy of Love Made my Home. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

From the Garden to the Beach

Saturday morning. While eating breakfast (bacon, egg, tomato) I glanced outside to see that the clematis, having wound itself around the deck railing, had opened its first bud.

I had never noticed that the petals open one by one. 

Unfurling. Opening wide to the light. 

There will be many more pretty blooms from this General Sikorski clematis. Some searching on the internet reveals that the name is to honour a Polish general who "rendered great service to his country." Personally, the name makes me think of a helicopter.

After breakfast (and photography), we threw our bags into the car and drove up Island (as we say) to the beachside town of Parksville, along with some friends. This was the view from our room. In the evening, we ate a late (and delicious) dinner on the patio and watched the tide creep across the sand. In the distance, over time, three brightly lit cruise ships sailed by, en route to Alaska.

Beach art. Found art.

Wild roses bloom along the path down to the beach. I could smell them before I saw them. 

Home again now, preparing for another week of work, but refreshed by walks on the sand, good food, and laughter and conversation with friends.  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Five on Friday

Five blueberry bushes are in a new location. A couple were moved from overcrowding and others are brand new to us. Green berries are forming and growing - I think it's going to be another very early season. I'm hoping they will ripen before we leave for Europe. If not, I know that those looking after our home will be thrilled with them.

The fifth issue of 2016 - May's Country Living. I could look at the colours in this cover all day long. Blue, turquoise, and white against a palette of fresh greens. It's just about perfect. 

A five-minute task last Saturday turned into much longer. While placing a sweater into a drawer, I noticed that the merino wool sweater already there had a hole in it. Oh no! Earlier this year my husband lost a sweater to a moth hole as well. Investigation (courtesy of Google) suggested putting the sweaters into sealed bags and freezing them, then bring them to room temperature, then freeze them again. 

So I spent some time collecting all the wool sweaters and skirts. They've been lounging in the freezer for almost a week now. Time to thaw and re-freeze. Have any of you tried this? I also thoroughly washed out the dresser drawers. Any other tips for preventing moth holes? I've seen no sign of them other than the 2 holes.

Five months. That's how long this vintage printer's tray has been stored in the shop, out of my sight. Last Christmas I casually mentioned that I'd love to have an old printer's tray. It was a very off-the-cuff remark, but our youngest daughter and her husband were up in Duncan one day over the holidays and found the tray then. It was brought out for Mother's Day. I'm looking forward to hanging it on the wall and filling it with...something.

Five x Five inches. That's the size of the puff pastry squares I used for making an easy pain au chocolat. Ready made pastry. 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips. A quick fold and roll. A brush of milk and sprinkle of sugar, 25 minutes at 400 degrees, et voilĂ , something yummy. I made them at home one evening and then demonstrated them today for my students. Tomorrow (Friday) they will be create their own. 

Five things for Five on Friday, hosted by Amy of Love Made My Home. 

Monday, May 09, 2016


How to swallow a starfish? I wish we'd hung around to see how the seagull accomplished the feat, or if he gave up after awhile. I can't help but feel sorry for the starfish. 

Inspiration is low here this evening. Mother's Day was a bit of a mixed bag. I'm so thankful for my family and was happy to see or talk with all of my children, and my own dear mother and mother-in-law.

On Saturday morning, however, a friend left this life for heaven, at far too young an age, because of ovarian cancer. I've been reminded, again, of how fleeting this life is, and how important it is to live the gift of life to the full. My friend Sue certainly did. 

In English classes recently, I've been exposing my students to a bit of poetry. Today we studied Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day" which ends with the question "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Alas, it seems that few young teens appreciate poetry, and I was left feeling a little blank. Perhaps, though, in years to come, a few of them will develop an appreciation for the distillation of thought that is poetry. One can only hope. I've asked the students to bring in lyrics to a favourite song and hope that they will be able to see them in a new light, as poetry. 

Do you enjoy poetry? Have you a favourite poet or poem? 


Thursday, May 05, 2016

Five on Friday: The Flower Edition

Over the past couple of weeks I've managed to crochet some cotton flower coasters. There will be more of these in the future as they are quick to make and full of colour. The pattern is free, from Coats and Clark. I used a variegated cotton yarn. With the summer-like weather we're enjoying, sitting outdoors on the patio with a cool drink is in the near future.

Flowers number two are not quite blooming, but just look at those fat peony buds getting ready to burst into ruffled beauties.

A few native cornflowers are in bloom. These reseed themselves throughout my garden in the summer, but they are well behaved and don't make a nuisance of themselves. This one settled in the midst of a silvery grass growing in a dry corner.

The no-name rosebush in the front garden is loaded with blooms. There will definitely be dead-heading in my weekend plans. This rose has a sweet, hint-of-apple scent that is most pleasant. 

And for the last flower - a raspberry bloom being pollinated by a very busy bee. The whole row of raspberry canes was a-buzz with bees - such a welcome sight.

Flowers of all kinds are in bloom just now, many of them more than a month early. What kind of summer is ahead? 

The fires in Fort McMurray are of real concern. We are all so thankful that no lives have been lost in this huge evacuation. We have family in Alberta and Tim's nephew left the Fort just the day before the evacuation. Pam of Playing with my Camera has an informative post on the fires. We continue to pray for the situation.

Linking with Five on Friday, hosted by Amy of Love Made my Home. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

At the Intersection of Nature and Industry

We humans have not done very well at taking care of our earth. I'm glad that we're more conscious of the effects of our industry and living habits, but we have such a long ways to go.

I'm always encouraged by creation's resilience, and how, left alone, will slowly and inexorably reclaim mankind's harsh bootprints. You have only to let a garden go for a year or two - for blackberries and weeds will encroach - to see this effect.

Tod Inlet is such a place. Once a busy industrial port that shipped Portland cement all over the world, it's now a peaceful, quiet parkland. Remnants of the past remain, and will be evident for a long time, but in less than one hundred years their mark is already fading. 

This photo, from the Butchart Garden archives, shows the area as it once was. The two tall chimney stacks, the wharf, houses for workers, and other buildings are mostly gone now. We enter Tod Inlet, by boat, from the top right of the photo and anchor on the left, out of view. It's quiet and protected, a beautiful and peaceful place.

The long cleared space in the middle of the photo is now the entrance road to the Gardens, and just to the top left of that space is where the Sunken Garden would be. 

This one chimney is left, visible from the gardens themselves, and from the Inlet. There are a few foundations of old homes still evident. There is an archaeological project going on at Tod Inlet these days, uncovering more evidence of the lives once lived there. 

These cement pilings remain, and I love to photograph them from all angles, from shore and from the water. When we anchor in Tod Inlet, I like to take the little dinghy out for a row and poke around along the shore, seeing what I can see.

When we were there a few weeks ago, I paddled fairly close to get this photo. The pilings are homes for mussels and perches for purple martin homes. 

 The narrow road that leads to the Inlet is now a walking path, frequented by many in search of Nature's peace. Canada Geese paddle by, ducks land with feet braced, moon jellyfish proliferate, and blue herons stalk the mud flats near the mouths of the two small streams that enter the inlet. Humans shape and use the earth for benefit, yet, when we leave, Nature has her way.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

May begins

The guys left very early in the morning for their fishing trip. The rest of us fell fast asleep for another few hours. I think the guys had more fun - they caught two halibut during their 6 hour trip. Divided four ways, that means that each family has about 12 pounds of halibut fillets in their freezers. We had some last night for dinner - simply pan roasted, with salad on the side. Delicious!

The girls (and Mister F) gathered at our place for a relaxing morning. I set up the little shade tent. The little girls made all kinds of "stew" using leaves and blossoms from the plants Nana allowed them to pillage. Mint, feverfew, lilacs (they are almost done) made up most of the "stew," said to have medicinal properties.

In the woods and wild meadows, the camas lilies (camassia quamash) are in bloom. Native to North America, the bulbs of these plants were a staple in the First Peoples' diet. They are harvested only when the plant is in bloom, for the leaves and bulbs are very similar to another plant, commonly called the death camas. You can probably figure out the unwelcome result of eating those bulbs. I won't be eating the camas bulbs, but I do enjoy seeing the blue flowers with their long, delicate, gold-tipped stamens.  

And so begins May. Roses are blooming, the sun is shining, and it seems as though summer is already here. I know that the west coast is enjoying a second unusually warm spring, and that other parts of the globe are still enjoying enduring colder temperatures and even snow (said in a whisper). Are there signs of spring or summer in your corner?

Of Spare Rooms and House Guests

  If you've ever read L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables , you'll remember the importance of the spare room. It was a long-...