Saturday, February 06, 2016

Sunny Moments

When the sun came out this afternoon, I slipped into my shoes and headed out the door. Mild air surrounded me as I wandered around the garden, camera in hand. Roses are beginning to leaf out; pruning will happen when the forsythia blooms.

A heart-shaped patch of moss caught my eye. 

Mint grows in a sheltered spot and is beginning to show signs of new growth, illuminated by the welcome sunlight. 

The sunniest moment, for me, was watching these two small faces respond to the story being read by their grandpa. I love the way each girl cuddles her soft stuffed toy while looking intently at the illustrations. How quickly they grow up. 

Linking with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden. 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Five on Friday

It's been a wild week. A new semester, new classes, new students, writing report cards, and a conference to attend. Whew. 
In the midst of the wildness, I come home, collapse in front of the fire with a cup of tea, and focus on simple things that bring me calmness.

These pale pink tulips are one of them. Tight closed buds have opened. Their stems stretched quickly and I've had to trim them down already. 
The silver jug, found in a vintage shop, is another beautiful thing I enjoy, along with the lacy doily on the tray - crocheted by my friend who is also my daughter's mother-in-law. 

The red dishes of December and January have been replaced by pretty china plates and teacups. I like this topsy turvy stack. Each pattern holds meaning - the top one is the pattern I chose when I was 15 and given by my mother, the second is from my mother-in-law, the third part of my wedding china, and the fourth a cup I purchased in memory of a dear aunt.

Rain poured down this week. In those odd moments when the sun pours into the house, I admire the shadows and play of light. Here on the plate wall, the blinds cast long lines.

I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon utterly spent. I grabbed the mail on my way in and noticed a large manila envelope. Inside was this magazine, tied with a bit of white trim. A gift from Brenda, who knows, as well as I do, the value of having beautiful projects to inspire one, even though the projects themselves may not come into being. I so enjoyed turning the pages and admiring the lovely projects. That was a very sunny moment in this week. 

Linking with Amy's Five on Friday.  

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What I cooked and why

Last Thursday morning I went for a haircut and did some errands. It was exam week so the schedule was different and I teach in the afternoons. A text came in asking if I would be at school that day. Well, as it turned out, more funding came in for the learning assistance department, allowing the head teacher there to stay full time in that position and not have to teach English 10.

You might guess where this is going. Yes, instead of teaching just afternoons, I'm at school all day, beginning at 8:30 with a lovely class of 20 English 10 students. 

Hence all the cooking on the weekend. These photos are just a portion of it. I wanted to have at least this week organized. Above you see small jars of vegetable soup headed for the freezer. I'll take them in my lunch. And we enjoyed the soup on Sunday. 

I love roasted butternut squash. But coming home late and wrestling with a squash is not my idea of relaxation. Luckily, it can be peeled and cubed, then stored for several days in a container in the fridge.

I cooked up these Brussels sprouts to crisp tender, threw in a handful of dried cranberries and stirred in a spoonful of orange marmalade. Delicious and easy.

Every couple of months I make a batch of sausage. This is ground turkey, but pork or chicken or even beef works, too. Sometimes I form the sausage into patties and freeze them to cook as needed, or, like this time, I cook the meat and freeze it. It's easy to crumble some into eggs or soups.

I madly lesson planned on Friday and looked over stuff on the weekend, and I survived the first day! Ironically, my daughter taught the same two English courses I'm now teaching and I'm relying heavily on her binders of resources and plans. No need to invent the wheel! At least, not all at once!

What tips do you have for meal preparation when things look busy? Do you use your freezer?  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Apricot Almond Squares

Sunshine has been in scarce supply around here this week. In spite of the rain, however, I do think the days are brightening and when the sun does shine, it's brilliant! 

I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen, getting ready for next week. A pot of vegetable soup, a double batch of meatballs, vegetables prepped, and a pan of squares baked. 

After all of that I sat down with a cup of tea, a candle and a freshly baked Apricot Almond Square. 

As I cut the squares I thought about the size of things. Have you noticed how HUGE cookies are now? Our local grocery store offers free cookies to toddlers to munch while their parents shop. They last the entire shopping trip. Recipes used to say, "drop by heaping teaspoonfuls" but judging by the size of these cookies, they are measured out by cup fractions. Bar cookies, (called squares here) are much the same. I think the increased size encourages us to eat too much, don't you? I still make my cookies on the small side. And cut my squares about 2". 

Moving on...

Here's the recipe:

Apricot Almond Square

1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup white and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
2/3 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup butter

Whirl the above together in a food processor until it comes together in a crumbly dough that can be pressed together. Without a food processor the mixture can be mixed by hand or with a mixer. Press into the bottom, and about 1/2 inch up the sides of an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup apricot jam (I used homemade jam, any flavour would work, except you'd have to change the name!)
1 Tablespoon melted butter 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sliced almonds

Mix the egg, jam, butter and vanilla together. Spread over the hot crust. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Linking with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five on Friday

Is it really Friday again? The weeks are flying by so very quickly. Are you noticing the slightly longer days? Those short moments are easier to notice on the sunny days than the rainy ones, of which we've had plenty lately.

I ventured out between the raindrops yesterday for a fast tour of the garden. Oh, the ridiculousness of January! Snowdrops, of course, but also hyacinths and crocuses. Those sharply pointed leaves made me smile! They don't respond to the calendar, just to the mild temperatures.

Even the chives are making an appearance, thrusting up fresh growth from the brown leftovers of autumn. I'm thinking they would taste just fine snipped into a salad over the weekend.

Hellebores droop gracefully, half-turned upwards to the light. Such pretty, creamy blossoms to brighten winter.
Thank you for all the thoughtful comments on my last post. I do so enjoy this blogging community.

Last summer, while out on the boat, I thought I might want to do a bit of handwork, so I packed a few balls of cotton yarn, a crochet hook, and a pattern. These washcloths/dishcloths were the result. They've been sitting on a shelf in my sewing room, just looking pretty. The sherbet colours caught my eye yesterday and I thought they deserved a photograph.

So there you have them, my five thoughts for this Friday's link up party at Amy's.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Crossing the Strait

Sunday morning. Blue skies, bluer water. The ferry glides through the water. In Active Pass we meet a sister-ferry headed for the Island. 

Pristine white deck railings. Forested chunks of rock jut upwards from the sea.

Gulls wheel overhead, flying into the wind, holding themselves almost motionless against the sky. 

On Monday we gathered to celebrate a crossing of a different kind. Once 10 siblings posed for photos, stair-stepping in age from my mother, the eldest, to my uncle, the youngest. Now they are 7. Seven red roses for the surviving siblings, two yellow roses for sisters who crossed ahead, and one white rose for my Auntie Clara. We grieve, but not without hope.

While walking and waiting for the ferry on the return trip, this bit of moss caught my eye. Life springs up. It's irrepressible. Precious. 
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there, 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, 
your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139: 7-10 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Homemade Sunshine

Not every day is sunny. Can one create a sort of sunshine in the mind? I like to think so, but sometimes it takes more effort than at others. 

A bit of coziness comprised of a cup of tea, a bit of chocolate, a few moments with a new magazine and a soft, warm spot on the couch improved my outlook on the day immensely. 

What little things brighten your day?

Linking with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little House and Garden.