Showing posts from November, 2017

How to Slow Down

A hallmark of current life is busyness. A frequent reply to "How are you?" is "so busy." We try to pack a lot into our days. When we add in special celebrations, such as Christmas and Hanukkah, the busy factor ramps up to what can become frenzy. Sometimes I think we wear busyness as a badge of honour. 

I'm no exception - there's always far more that I'd like to do than there is time or energy. And I'm learning the value of slowing down. I'm not a "fix-it" kind of person, but here are some things that help me. 

1. Wake up slowly. Our alarm clock goes off at 6:30. I try to make my first conscious thought one of gratitude to God for the day ahead. Then I lie in bed for 5-10 minutes, sometimes talking with my husband, sometimes semi-conscious. Leaping out of bed in the morning has never been my usual style. 

2. Eat slowly. I tend to be a fast eater. Consciously putting my fork down between bites and taking more time is beneficial both for enj…

A Little Bit of Christmas Beginning

The new kitchen area fireplace is now finished and Tim says I can begin adding decorative bits to the mantel. Flooring will be done at a later date. I went through my photos and ordered an enlargement from a photo taken this past summer, to frame and hang above the mantel.

Until that happens, I put a touch of Christmas cheer on the mantel. Evergreen bits were collected along our walk this afternoon, blown down from the trees during windstorms, taken home and soaked in vinegar and water to remove any bugs, then arranged here and there. 

There's nothing like volunteering to host a large party to make one look at one's home with a critical eye. 

Pot holders and hot mitts tend to show wear and tear quickly, so I bought a couple of new ones that I'll use the night of the party for the first time. While looking for the pot holders, I spied the racks of Christmas-themed tea towels and succumbed to temptation. The bird print is a dark grey-green. 

I was away overnight Thursday for a p…

Working Ahead

The awareness that Christmas is less than 5 weeks away startled me this week. The calendar is already filling with celebrations big and small. Feasting is a traditional part of celebrating Christ's birth, and sharing with others. 

This year, we are hosting a gathering of work colleagues on the 15th of December and I'm planning ahead. It will be an Appetizer and Wine evening. My lists are made and this past weekend, I began cooking a few things ahead. Some items will be purchased, but I like to make as much as I can. 

When I posted a photo of the empanadas on Instagram, I was asked for the recipe and for other make-ahead savoury items. I like to bake, not just sweets, but savoury treats to have on hand during the holidays.

All of the recipes above have been tested by Yours Truly and I can vouch that they are delicious. The links will take you to my recipe blog. 

On the top row:
Gougeres, aka Cheese Puffs
Stuffed Mushrooms
Bacon and Date Snacks

On the bottom row, from the left:
Sage and …

Rambling On

Friday morning. The end of a busy couple of weeks. Report cards were due this week and there is a huge sigh of relief when the grades and comments are finally submitted. Done! 

Another thing that's done is most of the autumn colour. Those glowing red maple leaves are sparse on the trees and soon the last one will fall, whirled away by the howling wind and lashing rain we've been experiencing. 

This paler version of leaves in the woods is now more dominant. With all the dreary weather, I've been feeling paler, too. One morning sunshine streamed in the windows to lift my energy. I seem to accomplish much more when there is sunshine, do you?

Christmas is not far away. I'm in favour of a slow run-up to celebrating the season. Anticipation and soul preparation are enhanced, for me, by waiting a little. So I watch what goes on around me, and I stand back, thinking, hoping, planning. 

Last night I finished up two soft and pretty flannel nightgowns for two grand girls. A pair of c…

Fading Autumn

In Rithet's Bog, one of our favourite places to walk, the colour is fading. The brilliant yellow, gold, and red leaves fall to the ground and become dull. Soon grey and brown will dominate the landscape in austere architecture.

Red-winged blackbirds alight onto exploded rushes that sway back and forth. 

Rain fills the bog once again and the ducks return, swimming placidly among the weeds. 

A few wigeon pairs have appeared amongst the mallards. They all seem to get along well. 

An awkward skein of ducks alight on a sunny day. They circle, then land, forward thrusting feet acting as brakes on the water. 

A family walk around the bog yesterday. The three-year old perches on Grandpa's shoulders. Two paths intersect and the train-loving boy calls out, "Junction!" The girl cousins run ahead for a bit, then fall behind and run to catch up, legs pedalling like windmills. They pick "woodland bouquets" along the path for their mothers. 
By the end of the walk, I'm cert…

Teacup Exchange

It was lovely to receive a parcel in the mail from Sharon, in Ontario with many pretty things, including the teacup above. It's from Paragon, with pink and blue bachelor's buttons on it. I love the shape and the colours. 

I'm a firm believer that tea tastes best from a bone china mug or teacup. Do you think the material of the cup makes a difference?

Here are some of the other things Sharon included: pretty vintage crocheted items, embroidered linens, lovely pink candles, and a great selection of teas that I'm trying out. 

Thank you so much, Sharon. Sharon doesn't have a blog, so I hope she reads this. I've sent a thank you note in the mail, as well. 

Stephanie, from The Enchanting Rose, organizes a teacup exchange one or two times per year. I think around 200 ladies took part this time. That's a lot of organizing. Thanks, Stephanie. If you click on the link, you'll be taken to a page where you can see the exchanges from all over the world.

A Week of Contrast

Unusually warm sunshine for the end of October began our week. My eldest daughter and I enjoy birthdays just two days apart and we try to go out for coffee or lunch together during this time. 
This year, we went to Butchart Gardens for a walk and then enjoyed scones and tea in the coffee shop.

I wondered if we would see any dahlias. Yes, indeed. They were still their in all their glowing colour. We were just in time, though, for I noted a wheelbarrow filled with cut plants and tubers. The lifting out has begun. 

Dahlias are so varied. It's almost the end of the fall flowers now and we watched gardeners planting bucket fulls of spring bulbs. One gardener threw them over the beds, letting them fall where they may, while others followed and dug the bulbs in with long-handled tools.

I planted bulbs in my own garden last Saturday. What a hopeful thing it is to place dry brown bits into the ground, and cover them up, trusting that they will transform into beautiful flowers in a few months. …

Into November We Go

On Sunday afternoon (after our tea at the Abkhazi Garden mentioned in the previous post), we met up with our eldest daughter and her family for a walk. 

This is the time of year when Pacific Salmon return to their birthplace to spawn the next season's fish, and then die. 

Tall cedar and maple trees line the banks of the Goldstream River. They crowd out the sun and dapple the light on the water. Occasionally, looking up through a clearing, one sees the burnished shades of autumn against the blue sky.

The salmon run is late this year, and although we saw a number of dark silvery fish hanging out in quiet deep pools, they have not yet laid their eggs nor turned red and begun to die. 

Leaves drifted and swirled down from the trees along the pathways, mesmerizing to watch. They came singly at times, or in great flurries when a breeze passed through the branches. 

Here's the November 1st birthday girl hiding behind a big leaf. (edited to add - My birthday is at the end of October; our da…