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Showing posts from October, 2017

Abkhazi Garden

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The story of how a displaced Russian prince and a wealthy British woman came to build a garden in Victoria, BC is filled with tragedy, war, internment in Shanghai during WWII (the Princess), and a meeting, after years of separation, on the top of the Empire State Building in New York.

The garden that Peggy and Nicolas spent 40 years developing encompasses just over an acre and is built on a rocky slope where bare granite, narrow swaths of lawn, Garry Oaks, rhododendrons, and pools of water dwell in harmony.


On a very sunny, warm Sunday afternoon, Tim and I visited the gardens. The noise of the squirrel caused us to look upwards and we watched him gathering bunches of leaves in his mouth. It didn't look like there were any acorns attached, but he looked like he knew what he was doing.


Tim had made reservations for tea, and after our stroll we entered the Prince and Princess's house where we sat in their sun-drenched living room and enjoyed tea while looking at the gardens they cre…

Improving Upon a Good Thing

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Back in 2010, I first posted this recipe for Apple Cake on my recipe blog. (I like keeping all my recipes together in one spot, hence the separate blog. Makes it easy to search.)

Anyways, I make this cake every year. It's a recipe I first tasted in the jungles of Ecuador, made by a good friend. It's delicious, as is, served with softly whipped cream. 

I've mentioned previously how I love watching The Great British Bake Off, and how inspiring I find it. I know there's a new series going now, not on the BBC, and I haven't watched any of it, yet. I have to find out where to view it.



Back to the cake. Inspiration struck when I thought about apples and apple crisp. For me, the best part is the crispy topping. I make a triple or quadruple batch of the topping to keep in the freezer for quick crisps. 

"What if," I thought, "I put some of the apple crisp topping on the apple cake?" 

I did. It's delicious. An improvement upon an already very good cake. Es…

A Stormy Weekend

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We spent a good chunk of time in this room over the weekend. My parents came over on the ferry Friday night. Saturday was blustery and wet, very wet. We ventured out in the car for a little bit, but most of the day was spent at home, enjoying being together. 

In my previous post I included a similar photo, but with my slippers showing, and the fire off. Here the fire is barely on, and my slippers no where to be seen. A more formal view, as it were. 



Those quinces I mentioned earlier were poached in white wine with orange peel, then sliced and made into an Upside Down Honey Spice Cake. It's a Fine Cooking recipe, found if you click the link. It was okay. The quince taste wasn't very pronounced and I'm a little ambivalent about the whole thing. It was a fine experiment. If I get my hands on more quinces, I think I'll make Membrillo, a quince paste eaten with cheese in much of Latin America.

The cake was dessert for a family dinner on Saturday evening, four generations gathe…

October Cozy

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A pale, lack-lustre sun is peeking through the clouds today, most welcome after some heavy rain. The morning is still rather dark and dreary, making candles seem like just the thing. Here's the view from my chair - with my slippers visible in the foreground. The fire (gas) just went out. Drat!


Here's a bit of what I've been reading. I finished Black Rabbit Hall last night and am so pleased that it had a happy ending. In Farleigh Field didn't disappoint. I chose How to Hygge from the library to read what all the hoopla about this "new" word was about. My son-in-law had read it (or one similar) and commented "that's what we already do." I agree. 

In Late Winter We Ate Pears was quickly paged through and is already back at the library. I spent more time with Clodagh's Irish Kitchen. I saw her on a television programme and was completely charmed by her accent. She has a series of short videos featuring seasonal recipes. You can access Clodagh'…

A Sunday Afternoon Walk to McKenzie Bight

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It was far too nice a day to spend indoors. After church I put on my hiking boots, we grabbed a water bottle and few snacks and off we went. 
As we walked we discussed the meaning of the word "bight." He was right; I was wrong. 
A bight is a geographical term for a "slight bend or recess in a coastline or river. It typically indicates a large, open bay, often only slightly receding."  


Once we reached the water, we tried taking some photos with the delayed timer. I pushed the button, clambered down some rocks and up some more, trying to get to Tim's side within the 10 seconds. I've shared a couple of the attempts in the collage. We moved to an easier access point before claiming success.
It's high time to investigate a remote!


Such a pretty day. In the forest, we stood still and heard fir needles dropping like soft rain. A leaf let go and sashayed downwards, rustling when it touched a branch. There is still much green in the woods, and a definite feel of aut…

October Moments

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This week has been short, with Monday the Thanksgiving holiday, but busy with covering classes for another teacher. 

Rain fell this week, and temperatures are dropping. Late in the afternoon, however, golden light suffuses the garden as the sun slants low over the Sooke Hills beyond our home. 


Rich tawny shades dominate in one last burst of colour before the austere lines of bare branches are etched against the sky.


Something drew me to an upstairs window on Wednesday afternoon. A thin layer of mist covered the distant hills seen beyond our neighbours' roofs. A tree, aspen perhaps, glowed yellow. 



An enormous murder of crows rose up and swirled silently in circular patterns that spread from garden to garden including our own. The black crows spiraling upwards in the mist and the beacon of the yellow tree formed an unforgettable picture not captured by any camera.
At a time when the world aches with pain and despair, this moment of grace came as a gift from God, and I tucked it into my …

Thanksgiving in October

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Eleven of us sat down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings yesterday. Although the holiday is technically Monday (the second Monday in October), we, like many families, have our big dinner on Sunday, followed by a relaxed Monday. 


I look at this photos and see the faces of some of the people I love so very much. For now, the little ones enjoy sitting at their own small table while the adults sit at the big table. I remember sitting at the children's table at family gatherings when I was growing up. Do you?

Did you notice the top right hand photo? That's Katie, our daughter-in-law. For this particular dinner, I set the food out in the kitchen and we served our plates from their and brought them to the table to eat. After dinner was mostly done, Katie was up checking on the little ones and stopped by the stuffing casserole on the way back to the dining room. She mentioned how much she enjoyed it. She ate it from the pan.  She was there long enough that I suggested she bring t…

Just Before Thanksgiving

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Sometimes, weeks don't turn out as planned. Each year, on the two school days before Canadian Thanksgiving, our school gives the students time off while the teachers go to a conference. It's a great time of learning (for the teachers) and having fun together. 

On Monday night, I came down with a sore throat that turned into a cold. So, no conference for me. I stayed home. By Friday I was feeling much better and rather wished I had gone. My colleagues were happy for me to NOT share my germs, however. 

I rescued some flowers from the garden from an impending rain and windstorm. Those white roses, Winchester Cathedral, have wicked thorns and I plunked them down onto the table without much fuss. 


I gingerly separated this one bloom from the bunch and posed it for its portrait. Such a pretty, fragrant flower. 


This basket of tomatoes and squash were also rescued. We've been eating the little Millionaire tomatoes like candy, for they are so sweet. The bigger tomatoes were cut in hal…

October is Here!

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Welcome, October, my favourite month of the year. September hovers between summer and autumn. October sees true autumn: shortened cool days; brisk, even frosty nights; alternating sunshine and rain.

The dahlias still bloom prolifically. Every few days I clip another small vaseful. I can see them growing from my kitchen window and admire them at every stage.   




It's time to light candles and focus on home. Saturday I puttered about the house all day, making things sparkle for the beginning of this season. 

I washed the downstairs windows and cleaned the grime from the sliding tracks. Has someone invented an efficient way to clean these? A cloth and a knife for getting into those 90 degree angles are what I use. My few silver pieces gleam; baseboards are dusted, and the house seems to sigh in contentment.



We walked around the Bog this afternoon. Clouds teased us with their forays across the sun, but no rain fell. Hawthorne trees are rich with berries. The Bog is mostly dry, awaiting rai…