Saturday, September 20, 2014

My September Garden

Most of the flowers I like are the cool tones - the blues, the pale pinks and dark purples. Come September, however, golden yellow appeals. Shadows deepen in the rich green foliage. Flowers seem to soak in the sunshine that slants low in the clear afternoon light. 

Paper thin hydrangea blossoms benefit from this light, too. The pale blue of summer darkens to a richness that reflects the colours of harvest. Summer's end is here yet she loiters, not wanting to miss anything. 

We enjoy the sunset on our evening walk. Curtains are pulled against the darkness that falls earlier. Street lights wink on as we pass. Farewell, sweet Summer, welcome Autumn.

I'll be linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Season

Orchards used to grow where there are subdivisions today. The odd tree survives, mute witness to a once productive landscape, abandoned now among blackberries, ivy and natural growth. We see them along our walks and collect apples from time to time. Our little trees don't yet produce enough. 

With a few scavenged apples (pale green, crisp and moderately sweet) I made a Norwegian Apple Cake. The recipe comes from Mia's blog "Mias Landliv. It's a delightful place to visit, full of the beauty of Mia's garden, her charming home and her sewing and knitting projects. If you aren't a regular visitor, I'd encourage you to pop over there.

Mia served her cake with ice cream, but I had some caramel sauce left over from the pumpkin cheesecake we enjoyed over the weekend. Delicious!

Apples go so well in so many recipes. What's your favourite way to use them?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Golden Days

Summer lingers on and on, burnished light warming the earth and the abundance of harvest seemingly without end. Today it was grapes, fat and oh, so sweet. I plucked each grape from its stem and simmered them, then put squeezed each morsel of juice with the aid of a chinois. Juicy grape fragrance filled the kitchen. 

Peaches slipped from their skins after a dip into boiling water, then each sweet orb was cut, the pit removed and the quarters plopped into a light sugar syrup. Grape juice and peaches burbled in the canner and sit now, cooling on the counter top.

Sunflowers drop pollen onto the table top, but the effort of a daily wipe up is well worth the vibrant late sumer colour they bring to the dining room. 

Summer is drifting ever so slowly into autumn. I hold her clear light in my heart against the coming grey days. Stay summer, linger on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What a Weekend!

When the family gets together we make the most of our time together. Saturday morning we gathered for a brunch at Cristal and Gerry's home. The dahlias were beautiful in the morning light.

Three September birthdays (son-in-law Gerry, daughter Ashley and son Travis) celebrated with one party. Lots of laughter and talking. I think we get louder as the hours pass.

Early last spring Katie's mother called her up. "You have to come over and see this tea set at the garage sale across the street." 
Katie realized it was Russian porcelain - collected by Ashley. This tea set for 6 includes cups, saucers, dessert plates, tea pot, cream, sugar and fruit bowl. It has never been used and the seller was asking $15.00 for the box. Katie asked her if she knew what she was selling. 
"Oh yes, but I've never used it and just want to get rid of it."

Katie's been saving it for Ashley's birthday and we could all hardly wait to see her open the gift. She was as thrilled as we had anticipated.

Auntie Ashley reading to her "girlies." 

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated Felix with a baby dedication/baptism done here at our home. Felix' maternal grandfather is a pastor and did a beautiful job of reminding us all of God's grace. My parents came over from the mainland and my father (Felix' great-grandfather) read Scripture. Here are Tim and I with the little man.

And here he is, smiley and dapper in his shirt and tie. He doesn't sleep much and his parents are very tired, but he's a joy to all of us.

I made this cake for the birthday party - a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream and Sugared Pecans. It seemed to pass muster. I used the recipe in the link for the cheesecake, but did a different crust and my own caramel sauce recipe. Extra sauce was served on the side.

Everything is mostly cleaned up. Today I'm canning peaches and continuing some garden clean up. As my hands work I'll be mulling over all the weekend events. Do you relive happy moments in the same way?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Capturing Motion: A Personal Photography Challenge

This month's photo challenge, hosted by Donna, is about capturing motion. I feel like I'm on a steep learning curve with my new camera and this challenge stepped that up a notch. Between the unfamiliar equipment and being away, I haven't spent as much time on this challenge as I would have liked. But I can keep practicing.

This is one of the first photos taken with my Panasonic DMC-GX7, snapped without much thought on the automatic scene setting (bright landscape). The slightly blurred wing tips give the illusion of beating wings although anyone would assume the birds are in flight, and therefore the wings are moving.

1/125 s     f/5.6     ISO 200

This photo and the next were taken off my back deck around 9:00 pm, using a tripod and long exposure time (a full minute for the one below). For this photo, I wanted to capture the forsythia bush moving in the wind with the clear residential lights behind. It looks a bit like a blurred mess. The wind was not blowing at the moment I wanted to take the photo, so I jiggled the tree during the exposure. I jiggled it too violently and it looks like a wild storm rather than a gentle breeze.

30.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400

This is the opposite of above. I was hoping to pan the camera and create movement in the lights. Instead everything is moving, and I've decided to call this photo "As the World Turns."

60.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400

I'm sneaking in one more photo because the two above sort of count as the same thing, don't they?

I used a tripod, indoors, and gently blew on the candle flame as I snapped the photo. The flame's angle and slight blurring contribute to the effect of motion. I think this photo is a little bit ominous with the dark shadows looming. It adds suspense and makes me wonder what comes next in the story. Kind of a shivery excitement.

1.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400 

I can think of all sorts of possibilities with this new knowledge - ocean waves, cars at night from the overpass, little grandkids who can't stay still - thanks, Donna, for this fun challenge.

Do check out the other participants' photos. It's sure to be a "moving" experience.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Signs of the Season

Books set in years past often include scenes of spring or fall cleaning. I don't really follow a schedule for seasonal cleaning, although there are things I do at certain times in the year. Yesterday, I scrubbed the siding and porch rails of the front porch. Front porch in the fall, back deck in the spring. 

The door window framed was painted and I also took down the plaque with the house numbers, removed the numbers and painted both the plaque and the numbers. Now to replace the very old weathered mail box. A pot of mums and I'm finished with this area. It feels good to have one project finished.

The hydrangeas faded early this year; some to this pale lavender, others to a richer burgundy. Although the sun shines brightly and skies are blue, the wind whispers that colder weather is coming. I put on blue jeans for the first time since June. I might be thinking about putting socks on my feet. 

But the dahlias, brightly coloured, still dance in the breeze. There's so much beauty in our world. Early Autumn is a time to let the blue skies and lingering flowers seep into my mind and soul, even as my days are filled with busy chores. Take a moment to breathe. To give thanks. 


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Too Many Fronts

My house looks like a battle zone. Piles of garden produce to deal with make me wonder why I embarked upon a major clean out and reorganization of rooms and closets. I'm faced with too many fronts - a clear strategy for losing. Just ask Napoleon. 

In an effort to gain some perspective, I took a little walk around the garden with my camera. A few new spikes of lavender bloom and the dahlias are lovely.

My neighbour has a grape vine that trails over our fence. She (the neighbour) encourages us to help ourselves to the grapes. Last year I canned some grape juice which made a wonderful drink when mixed with club soda for those who don't want wine with dinner. The grapes are ripe now and should be picked soon. But I won't think about that now.

I wanted an evergreen plant for the pot in front of the porch and settled on a bay laurel - laurus nobilus - that I'll prune to a fuller shape. The prunings can be dried and used to flavour soups and stews.

This little village spends most of its time in a cardboard box, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I have it out on our dry sink in the dining room just now. The buildings replicate those of Old Quito during Spanish Colonial days and make me think of the years we spent in Ecuador.

How quickly the years pass. I'm feeling rather pensive just now, looking at those little buildings. Those were the years of active mothering. Now I'm a grandmother of 3. How can that be? 

There's a weekend of celebration coming up and I have to get the house in order. The important things will all be accomplished. Onward I go, taking little breaks here and there to read a few of your blogs and sometimes leave a comment. How are your early September days? Full to overflowing or just right?