Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Quick Five on Friday

1. My favorite flowers: hydrangeas and roses

2. Looking at the details: light and shadow

3. Getting the house ready for house sitters makes me realize how much I've neglected the cleaning around here. 

4. If I put flowers on the mantel and the table, will that distract our visitors from the windows that need cleaning? I'm going with that plan.

5. Raspberries: Picked today, made into Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins. Click on the link for the recipe - one I adapted from a magazine.

Red raspberries on a white plate are as much as I'll be doing to celebrate Canada Day this year. I'm so pleased to be a Canadian! Happy Birthday, Canada! 

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

Summer Days Make Me Feel Fine

School's out! Grades are in, files sorted, desks cleaned out. I even had time to send some material for printing and laminating for next year! Now it's time to play!

The sun returned this week. The three munchkins above, along with a parent or two and yours truly, went raspberry picking at a U-pick farm yesterday. Such lovely big juicy berries. I didn't get any as we have enough with our own canes here. And I forgot to take my camera along, so there are no photos of little ones reaching up to pick and then plop fat berries into containers. 

Sunshine and water are the perfect summer combination. Nana filled the pool. Mister F waded in wearing socks and pants, so we let him stay that way. He minded not a whit. The girls poured, splashed, slid, and screamed. We followed up with lunch and homemade fudgesicles on the deck. Ahh, summer.

This morning I wandered out to the garden, enjoying the freedom of not having to be anywhere at a particular time. I filled my breakfast bowl with blueberries and attempted to take a photo. The light was so pretty, all dappled and clear. 
I crouched down. Just as I clicked the camera button, the sprinkler system came on and water sprayed onto my legs. Shock! Hence the swing of the lens cover.

The light wasn't quite so great here, but I didn't get any wetter. I added some cottage cheese and chopped nuts to the berries and enjoyed them with tea. 

Now what? Oh, there's a lot list of things to do. We leave for London and Paris on Saturday. House sitters are coming. Cleaning needs doing. Packing. Last minute shopping. Paying bills. So, I'm off to start ticking things off my very long list. Catch you later.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Special Garden Visit

On my last visit to Butchart Gardens, I stopped in at the information desk to ask a question and noticed this sign. 

Hmmm. I wasn't born in 1936, but someone I know was. What could it mean?

Inquiry revealed that to honor anyone's 80th year, the Gardens provided two complimentary entrance tickets. 

So I called my mom and asked if she'd be interested. She and my father were coming over in a couple of weeks. Her answer was an enthusiastic "yes!"

The two of us spent a happy time admiring the fuschias and begonias in the hanging baskets, 

watching the fountain dance, 


and aahhing, 

and oohing some more over the roses.

This special outing included entrance tickets AND tea for two. 

We each had a large teapot - Mom had the Teaberry Blend: Black Ceylon tea flavoured with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and currants, and I went traditional with Earl Grey. 

There was a berry trifle to begin.

Hot savouries followed: House made sausage roll, and a Roasted Onion and Asparagus Quiche.

Then dainty sandwiches: Wild B.C. Salmon with mustard cream cheese, Egg salad with watercress, Smoked ham, Curried Chicken, and Cucumber with fresh ginger cream cheese. 

Was there room for more?

Oh yes. Chocolate brandy Napoleon, Orange poppy seed loaf, Battenberg cake, Chocolate Irish cream truffle, and a French macaron. 

AND THEN: Scones with Strawberry jam and cream. 

We didn't need dinner. At all.

We did take a few things home to share with our husbands. Just a few.  

My beautiful Mom (and yours truly) in front of pink roses - always her favourite flower. 

Although Mom's 80th birthday isn't until August, this was a great way to celebrate. Thank you, Butchart Gardens for a wonderful treat!

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted, for the last time, by Judith of Lavender Cottage Garden. Thank you, Judith for your time and effort in making this link up work. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Five on Friday: Summer delights

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. All exams and papers are marked, and grades calculated. All that's left is report card comments and some tidying up. Whew! Bring on summer!

One early summer delight is raspberries. They've ripened early this year and we've put 6 quarts into the freezer, eaten them by the handful, enjoyed them with yogurt and nuts for breakfast, and with ice cream for dessert. 

The last food lab the Grade Eight class completed was mini cheesecakes. It was a new-to-me recipe so I tried it out on the family a few weeks ago. Easy and yummy! The students used frozen strawberries for a sauce on their cheesecakes, but here at home, home-grown berries were in order.

Delight number two - my Bolero rose bush is showing off this year, producing bloom after bloom of intricately folded petals with a scent I just can't get enough of. Some days after work, before I start dinner, I go out to the garden and take a whiff. Heavenly!

Two years ago our across-the-back-fence neighbour, Doug, gave me some poppy seeds. They produced a few flowers last summer, but this summer the blooms are spectacular: layers and layers of delicate, fringed petals. The blooms don't last very long, especially with the wind we've had, but more seem to pop up without fail. That's delight number three.

Summer salads are delight number four. Tim was away in Ottawa for a week at the beginning of June and I cooked...nothing. The weather was warm and I ate salad after salad. I did buy a roasted deli chicken, but hardly needed it. 

The salad above has a southwestern vibe: corn, black beans, red peppers, tomatoes, and avocado, with a citrusy cumin dressing. 

This is the simplest salad ever: chunks of crisp sweet watermelon, salty feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, some pepper and fresh mint. I could eat this every day. 

Delight number five: Hydrangeas. I planted a lace-cap hydrangea a few years ago and it didn't do very well. I think it was overshadowed by the light and soil hogging buddleia nearby. The buddleia went bye-bye this spring, leaving space for the hydrangea to thrive.

Looking at these photos has me wondering about the science of a hydrangea. Which is the flower? Something to look up when I have more time.

Then followed that beautiful season...Summer...
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I'm linking with Amy's Five on Friday gathering. And I'd enjoy hearing about what delights you about summer just now. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fathers, Forest and Beach

Four of the finest fathers I know - my own father, my husband, our son and son-in-law. Our daughter and son-in-law were camping for the weekend, so the rest of us (minus the Vancouver lovelies) drove up for lunch on Sunday.

Although the weather was cooler than we'd hoped, fun was had by all. Travis blew bubbles for the littles. Don't they look magical in the forest?

What fun to try and catch a bubble before it pops. Miss A caught several with her mouth and confessed that they didn't taste all that wonderful. 

While the grandchildren tried to catch bubbles, I caught some ocean spray (holodiscus discolor) with my lens. And some pretty "bubbles" in the background.

After lunch ("We're eating al fresco," said Miss A, demonstrating a newly learned word), we headed off to the beach. The tide was out and the sand stretched far into the distance. However, the girls wanted to plop down immediately to start their sand castle. We convinced them to wander a bit further, to the edge of a tide pool. 

These cute little feet splashed and ran... 

and sat on top of the sand pile accompanied by plenty of giggles. 

Kite flying was popular that day. 

Success! We (my parents and Tim and I) didn't linger very long on the beach. It was chilly. But as we drove the 2 hours homewards, the sun began to shine and the evening was warm and lovely. I hope it was the same for those who stayed longer.

How was your Father's Day weekend? 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Roses Galore!

I promised to show you the roses from my walk in Butchart Gardens last week. Here are just a few. The roses are not quite at their peak yet, but will be in the next week or so. The weather has been cooler, which slows things down a little, but makes the flowers last longer, too. 

The gate accompanying this archway is no longer open, but still provides a pretty architectural feature for rambling roses. 

A closer look. Such a gorgeous tangle of colour and form. 

A long path, covered in arches and roses is a fragrant place to stroll. The hint of blue seen amongst the roses are delphiniums. Their tall stalks add some height to the rose gardens.

A cluster of pink roses reaches out from the arches to passersby. 

In the gardens, only the roses are labeled. To know the names of the other plants, a guide is provided according to the seasons. 

This white rose is Winchester Cathedral, the same rose I put into my own garden this spring. I'm happy to say that mine is flourishing as well as the one above.

One can wander off the main path and wind around smaller plantings. This particular corner overlooks the lawn and the house where you can have lunch, tea, and dinner.

Another flirty rose along the pathway.

This rose is an old one - Comte de Chambord, dating from before 1858. 

Going through my photos I realized that I only captured pinks and white roses - next time I'll get some other colours.

I've not been around blogland very much this past week. Marking is consuming almost every waking minute. One more week of classes and then I hope to catch up with everyone. 

Monday, June 06, 2016

An Evening Walk

Warning! Picture-heavy post! 

Hot summery weather arrived this past weekend. Temperatures soared into the 80s. We're loving it! This evening I took a walk in Butchart Gardens. These are some of the sights I saw. There are plenty more and I'll share the rose garden on its own. 

Hanging baskets, rows and rows of them, adorn one area of the garden. The fuschias and begonias hang at about 6 feet, maybe a bit more, enabling great views of the blossoms. 

When I got to the Sunken Garden a grin formed on my face and didn't leave. I had the entire thing TO MYSELF! At the height of summer the paths are streams of people, oohing and aahing and clicking away. It's great to see everyone enjoying the sights, but to have it to myself was so special. I felt like I could be wearing a trailing gown and swanning about like the Crawleys of Downton Abbey. What a gift!

Even the garbage and recycling containers have flowers on them. 

Fragrant Sweet Williams wafted their scent on the air. Mass plantings of white with purples, lavenders and dark pinks made striking beds.

Half a dozen American Robins busied themselves on a patch of lawn. As I began snapping photos, this friendly robin scuttled closer and closer. I think he wanted to show me his catch. See how the worms are wrapped all around his beak? Will he eat them, or is he taking them home for Mrs. Robin to prepare for dinner? 

This Eight-Spotted Skimmer (Libellula forensis) posed most obligingly for me on a plant along the path. I watched her for a long time, admiring the shimmery lines on her wings.

Evenings are long these days - this was taken around 8 pm. Shadows lengthen, but above the tree line the sun still shines brightly.

One clematis, of a type I don't recognize, but striking for its geometry and colouring.

Just one rose, glowing in the evening light. 

As I drove out of the gardens, I met a tour bus going in - cruise ship passengers are in town and Butchart Gardens is one excursion. The staff in the gift shop told me they were expecting them. They'll have a wonderful stroll. 

Days at Home

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