Sunday, October 31, 2021

October Daily 31: Thirty-One Days


Here we are at the very end of October, such a lovely month. How quickly the days pass. Committing to blogging every day had me racking my brains at times to come up with something to write about. Thank you to all who read the posts and commented. I discovered some new-to-me readers, through comments here and personal emails. 

It's humbling to think of people reading my blog in so many different countries of the world. The essentials of daily life are similar for most of us, and we have so much in common as human beings. Food, clothing, family, Nature, reading and leisure activities make up the bulk of my posts and of my daily life and that's what I share on my blog. 

I've enjoyed writing every day, but I will be stepping back from daily posts. I'll very likely do this again. 

Thank you, too, for all the birthday greetings. It was a lovely day, and there are more celebrations to come. My parents return on the ferry tomorrow morning, and we've had a wonderful visit. 

These are the little trick or treaters who stopped by this afternoon. All except for the sword wielding fighter whose mother sent me the photo. I'll see her tomorrow. 

Iris was a ladybug and her aunt painted little ladybugs on her face. Her mother made the cape.

Cora was a little grey bunny with the sweetest long ears. She is not very happy these days as she's produced four teeth in very short order. 

I've not read much in the past few days, but I have a stack of books from the library that I'll be getting into this week. 

And so ends one month and another one begins. Thirty days of potential ahead. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

October Daily 30: Birthday


It's my birthday! I'm officially a senior citizen! We'll celebrate with our children next weekend (along with a daughter and daughter-in-law's birthdays), so today has been very laid back. 

I received a beautiful bouquet of pink roses (my favourites) and lilies from my parents and a jar of Mom's pear marmalade. Tim gave me a down jacket that we had picked out together earlier and I pretended not to know what was in the package. All in good fun.

We'll be going out for dinner this evening. It's been such a sunny bright day. I spent some time in the garden cleaning up for winter. 

This photo was taken three years ago, but I haven't changed too much in that time. Life is grand!

Friday, October 29, 2021

October Daily 29: Sunshine in the Garden


After days of grey clouds and drizzle, the sun broke through this afternoon, illuminating the garden in lovely golden light. I dashed out with my camera to snap a few photos. 

Lilacs are not known for their autumn foliage, but I've been admiring the russet shades from my kitchen window. This close up highlights the rich colour and curving veins of lilac leaves. 

One more dahlia blossom is slowly, ever so slowly, opening. It's a dinner plate variety, and I don't know the name, but I'm watching it carefully. 

A volunteer cherry tomato vine grew up behind the zinnias and cosmos and it's still producing tiny fruits. Garden clean up will soon put an end to that, but they will stay for a few more days. 

Hydrangeas remain full of colour - mostly the pink and purple shades, but a few later blooms display summer tints of blue. 

Inside there's been lots of wonderful visiting with my parents, along with putting a puzzle together. This evening they are having dinner with our eldest daughter and her family. 

We don't have a lot planned for tomorrow other than going out for dinner in the evening, but it's lovely just being together. More sun is in the forecast. Hooray!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

October Daily 28: A Drippy Day


Soft rain drips outside my window this afternoon. It's been falling all day. Bright leaves thin and skeletal dark branches begin to show winter architecture. Indoors, the fire adds both warmth and coziness. 

A couple of days ago I told you about my father's favourite cookie. Today, I baked Lemon Squares, one of my mother's well-liked treats. I enjoyed one with my lunch - just to check and see if they were okay. All for quality control. (wink)

They passed. 

The supermarket had organic lemons on sale and I bought a bag of them. I was reminded of preserved lemons by Rosemary who gave a recipe for this condiment used in Moroccan and other Middle Eastern cooking. I prepared a jar and in about four weeks I look forward to adding them to salad dressings, chicken dishes, and perhaps a tagine, as Rosemary hopes to do. 

When my parents arrive in a few minutes (it's easy to gauge because of the ferries), I'll make a cup of tea and serve cookies and lemon squares. Which would you choose? 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

October Daily 27: Anticipating Visitors


"I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It's right in front of me, if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude."
Brené Brown

Here's what October looks like these days. It might be overcast and grey, with plenty of rain, but there are bright spots in the landscape if one takes the time to look. 

I think I've mentioned before that my mother sews quilts for a charitable organization. It's MCC (Mennonite Central Committee). They work with refugees, in disaster areas, and with justice systems around the world, advocating for the vulnerable. The quilts Mom sews are either sold, or auctioned off at the annual sale. Although she does the piecing, others do the quilting. Some are machine quilted, others, like the beauty above, are hand quilted. 

When I saw this quilt that she was working on over the past year, I knew I wanted it. I put my name down and when it was finished, contributed to the cause, and brought it home. It's called Moonglow; a most apt name I think. Mom is very precise in her work and that makes this quilt (and others that she's made) a standout. 

Mom and Dad are coming for a visit this weekend. They will see their three grandchildren and their families who live here, and meet their latest great-granddaughter who is almost a year old. Their last visit was Christmas 2019, just before the pandemic began. We are all very excited to have them come. I put Mom's quilt on the guest bed. I think some pillow shams that match the quilt are needed. What colour do you think they could be? 

Over the weekend I made this Winter Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake, from Smitten Kitchen. I confess that when I was putting it together I really wondered how it would turn out. There is no precooking of anything - not the dried pasta, nor the butternut squash, nor the spinach. However, my doubts were assuaged by the delicious fragrance of this baking (it does take 90 minutes), and then the satisfying taste. I did use kale (frozen from my garden) in place of the spinach, and the next time I would use a vegetable or even a chicken broth in place of the water, for a bit more flavour. 

We ate half of it and I put the other half into the freezer for an easy meal some other time. 

Before I forget - several people asked for the recipe for the Date-Filled Oatmeal Cookies on my previous post. I've added them to my recipe blog and you can find it by clicking on the link. 

I noticed that the Dessert section of my recipe index is far longer than any other category. So I've begun a new category for Cookies and Squares - things you can eat with your fingers, as opposed to desserts that are served at the table after dinner. It will take a little while for me to change everything over, but hopefully it will be done in a few weeks. 

For me, baking requires more precision than cooking, hence the weight of recipes in that direction. 

Today I played with Iris, made granola, and did a little cleaning. Tomorrow my parents arrive and I'm so looking forward to their visit. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

October Daily 26: Close to Home


Along the road I drive frequently, this line of trees has caught my eye more than once. When the sun shines, they glow like gold. Even when it's cloudy, their brightness attracts the eye. 

This morning I walked to the spot with my camera, hoping for some of that elusive sunshine, but it was gone by the time I arrived. Still, those gold and russet leaves charmed me. A senior living residence is just behind them, and I think how lovely it would be to look out and see this bit of autumn loveliness. 

Fall blooming cyclamen add a splash of cool pink to the tawny shades so predominant just now. 

On Saturday I mixed up a batch of sourdough bread and sort of forgot about it in the refrigerator. I baked it yesterday and it didn't seem to suffer at all for its two days of lounging in the fridge. We enjoyed still slightly warm slices with soup for supper.

Before my walk this morning I mixed up a batch of old fashioned Oatmeal Date cookies and left them to chill. When I returned I cut them, baked them, made the date filling, and put them together. They are my Dad's favourite cookie. Not a fancy bit of baking, but satisfying and delicious. 

I enjoyed one with a cup of tea. The sunshine flirted with the clouds and then disappeared. The wind rose and swirls of leaves rushed along the road. 

For dinner tonight I made a beef stew and the fragrance filled the kitchen with the savoury goodness of beef, onions, carrots, mushrooms, red wine, and herbs. I add a bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and a twist of orange peel. Just before serving I'll add some frozen green peas and let them heat through. Served over rice or potatoes, with bread, it's a good meal for an October night. 

What do you add to beef stew?

Monday, October 25, 2021

October Daily 25: October's Party


October gave a party
The leaves by hundreds came - 
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners;
And gaily fluttered by,
The sight was like a rainbow,
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide and seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground,
And then the party ended,
In jolly "hands around".

George Cooper

This fun poem came to mind the other day as I watched the wind gusts tear leaves from the trees and swirl them about the street. The storm is now passed and all is calm - there were power outages and wind damage, but not here, and I am thankful. Ferries were cancelled for the day and there is a huge back up. 

Regarding the container ship mentioned in my last post - the fire is mostly out and now the operation is moving to one of salvage. The ship will likely go to either Vancouver or Nanaimo for offloading the remaining containers. Thankfully no lives were lost. The 40 containers floating about the ocean have been located and salvage operations will begin as the seas calm. 

The photos above were not taken this year - today was wet and oh, so dark. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

October Daily 24: Stormy Day


It's 9:30 pm and the wind rises and falls and curls around the corners of the house, and rattles the windows. This afternoon we drove down to Ogden Point, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca to see the storm effects on the water. 

Waves tossed huge logs onto shore, then dragged them back again. The sea was a heaving mass of debris and white foam.

The Ogden Point breakwater is a 1.6 kilometre cement block structure that creates calm water for ships coming into port. If you've ever cruised to Victoria, you'll have sailed right by the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater.

We walked out to the lighthouse and back, and it wasn't long before we were drenched in sea spray thrown up by the waves crashing against the breakwater. Although we, along with anyone else who walked out there, were soaking wet, we all had grins on our faces with the exhilaration of being out in the storm.

There hasn't been much rain here, in fact, patches of blue lay alongside heavy clouds for much of the afternoon. 

Yesterday, a South Korean container ship lost 40 containers overboard in the storm. As the ship continued its route towards Vancouver, the instability of the remaining containers resulted in a fire that spread to about a dozen containers. In the photo above, you can see another ship to the left spraying water on the beleaguered container vessel. The water is to cool the ship down and prevent the boat itself from catching fire. Because of the flammable nature of the chemicals (used for mining) in the containers, there is little that could be done to extinguish the fires.

The Coast Guard rescued 16 crew members from the ship, and 5 were left to try to do what they could. It now appears that the fire is smoldering and not spreading to other containers. 

We had planned to walk further after the breakwater, but were so wet and cold that we simply came home, peeled off our clothes and took showers. I settled in with a book and a cup of tea for the rest of the afternoon. 

We've just finished watching Foyle's War on our public broadcasting station. The wind continues to beat about the house, and I'm so thankful for our warm, dry, and so comfortable home. 

How was your weekend?

Saturday, October 23, 2021

October Daily 23: Sewing Studio Tidy Up and a Bomb Cyclone


I spent most of this morning in my sewing room, tidying up and getting things organized for a round of intensive sewing. Christmas is coming and I usually make things for people. Our gift giving is not extravagant, and something hand made usually accompanies a modest gift. The grands still like me to make pajamas for them and I've started one pair. 

It feels good to have things tidied up and ready to go. After tidying, I finished a couple of small projects for myself - hemming a pair of cords, and two t-shirts. They are now hanging in my closet, ready to wear. 

Many years ago I started cross-stitching, mainly because most of my friends at the time were doing it. I invested in some threads and painstakingly wound them onto bobbins to store in numerical order. After doing a number of fairly large projects, I realized that I didn't enjoy cross-stitching at all. All that counting and precise stabbing! Instead, I embroidered, very often free-hand. I find it more liberating. 

A friend who no longer has the eyesight to cross-stitch or embroider gave me a large bag of threads. This is just a small amount of what she had. I've given some away, and now I'm going through the threads and my boxes of bobbins to see if there are some I can replenish. The remainder will go to the thrift store. 

The colours are so pretty. I love sorting through the threads. 

We had an "atmospheric river" recently, followed by a "bomb cyclone" and another "bomb cyclone" is due overnight and tomorrow. This is a new term to me, but it's been used since the 1950s, so it hasn't been made up just for this. When the barometric pressure falls rapidly over a number of hours, it's called a "bomb cyclone." Who knew? I took a screen shot from the weather report. Never have I seen a warning like this. We live on the southern tip of the island and have been told to expect storm surges, wind, possible trees down and power outages. We'll see what actually develops. 

Is it wild or calm weather where you are? 

Friday, October 22, 2021

October Daily 22: Cozy Autumn Evening


It's a cozy evening here. A bouquet of garden flowers, including the Cafe au Lait dahlia above, sits in shadow on the dining room table. Across from my chair, my husband sips a mug of Lemon Ginger tea and reads in a pool of lamplight. Brass candlesticks gleam on the mantel and the low fire comes off and on as needed. 

When our children lived at home, Friday night was often celebrated with pizza or tacos. Something fun and easy. I've carried that idea of easy Friday nights over into our life as the two of us. Sometimes we'll purchase pizza, but this afternoon I felt like making it, so I made two and one is tucked away into the freezer for another easy meal. I went out into the garden and picked arugula (rocket) for a salad to go along with the pizza. 

Salami, mushrooms, red peppers, black olives, onion slivers, tomato sauce, and cheese topped this variation. I baked these in a rectangular shape on a baking sheet rather than round. I find the shape doesn't make a whole lot of difference to the taste.

In a few minutes we'll turn on Knowledge Network (our local public broadcasting station) and watch an episode of The Mallorca Files, a fun lighthearted British mystery series set on the Spanish island of Mallorca. The television is to the bottom right side of the above photo. 

What do you put on your pizza? Or what kind of pizza do you like to order? 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

October Daily 21: October Morning


A very quick post today. After teaching French and Drama today, I had a routine eye exam this afternoon, during which my eyes were dilated. My vision is still very blurry. Below is a lovely October poem that I want to share with you. 

October Morning

It is the exquisite and early hour

The sudden sunrise reddens the sky.

Through the autumn mist

The garden leaves fall.

Their fall is slow. We can follow them

with our eyes and recognize

The oak by its leaf of copper,

The maple by its leaf of blood.

The last ones, the most rusty

Fall from the bare branches,

But it's not winter yet.

A fair light sprinkles down on 

Nature and in the whole rosy sky,

You'd think it was snowing gold.

François Coppée

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

October Daily 20: Beautiful Things


I've been watching the three buds on the cafe au lait dahlia bush. They were slow to appear and seemed to take forever to open. I wondered if they would succumb to frost or all the rain. Today, after a morning of drizzle, I clipped three lovely stems, then looked around for what else I could put with them. Two Falstaff crimson roses, a few pink and aging hydrangeas, and two orange dahlias joined the bunch. 

I treasure this late bouquet almost more than all the flowers picked over the summer for they are likely the last of the season. 

I took Iris for a walk this morning. Usually I bring her to our house for the day, but I had an appointment this afternoon. We went on a little date to the bakery where we split a carrot cupcake and she had a cup of lightly steamed milk, and I had tea. On the way home, she stopped to hug a tree, and marched along in her yellow rainboots.

We have the wrong kind of fig tree for our climate, and we're planning on replacing it in the spring. We get just a few ripe figs in August and tons of green ones that never have time to ripen. Big yellow fig leaves are dropping every day now, and revealed about a dozen small ripe figs. I slit them, baked them with a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup, then crumbled blue cheese into the middles and baked them a wee bit longer. They made a fine salad. 

Beautiful things to see, do, hear, and taste. What's beautiful in your world lately?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

October Daily 19: A Little Trip to Spain


We've enjoyed a bit of sunshine the past two days, but this morning's sky was streaked with pink and that reminded me of the saying "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning." The skies have clouded over once again and another "atmospheric river" is headed our way. So I thought it would be fun to revisit Spain. 

In October 2019, I accompanied a dozen students on a school trip to Barcelona and Madrid. We had a wonderful time. Whenever I encounter those students around town (some of them work as clerks in the grocery store, bakery, and bookstore I frequent), they remind me of what a great trip it was. Then someone always says, "I'm so glad we went when we did." 
Yes, indeed. It was the last major school trip before the pandemic shut down travel. 

Above is the Casa Bruno Cuadros in Barcelona, where the owners used to manufacture umbrellas. And did you notice the brilliant blue sky in the top photo. Ahhh!

We visited both the Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia cathedral, where Gaudi's immense creativity is shown in so many ways. 

Fishing in the Mediterranean Sea. We didn't fish, but we did go swimming, something our guide thought a little crazy since it was October. The water was far, far warmer than our sea ever gets. 

En route to Madrid we stopped at Zaragoza where many spires from the Basilica reached up into those endless blue skies. 

Then to Madrid where the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) impressed us all with its architecture, painted ceilings, and hand-embroidered wall coverings. It was the latter that really impressed me, and I so wished I could have taken photos. 

This photo is taken from the web. The ceiling is painted, but the decoration on the walls is embroidered in silk and gold threads. A little too heavy for my taste, but the workmanship is just amazing. 

We all had some free time one afternoon in Madrid, and on the advice of our guide, I took myself off to a busy little cafe where they served churros and chocolate. Oh my, so delicious. Thick chocolate, too thick for drinking, but perfect for dipping the crisp, hot churros. Worth every calorie!

I'd like to return to Spain one day, with my husband, and explore more of the country. We'd also like to visit Scotland and Ireland, and more of England. For now, we're content to explore our own backyard, for it is indeed a beautiful one.

To where would you like to travel?

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