Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday at Home

Pale blue sky shows through the grey morning light, welcome after a night of wind and rain. I snapped this from my dining room at 10 am. 

The china hutch. I'm becoming fonder of plain white dishes, especially for serving pieces. But I'll always add a bit of colour - here it's blue, although you might notice a tiny band of red on the two oversized cups on the top shelf. They are a recent acquisition thanks to a birthday gift card. 

Soon I'll add greenery and a little more red - the holly berry bush is loaded this year.

Most of the day was spent in the kitchen, baking. The Pecan Toffee Bar recipe can be found by clicking on the link. It will take you to my recipe blog.

The baking is for an event with some of my husband's work colleagues. I offered to bring a tray of goodies so that's what I worked on today, not knowing if I'll be called in to work again next week - it's cold season and there's a doozy going around. I taught every day last week in the same classroom.

How are you all faring? Escaping illness so far? I hope so. Tim and I have both had the current version of a cold and we're glad it's behind us.

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's Time

The last of the summer tomatoes. They've ripened on newsprint in the laundry room. Today I'll trim the bad spots and roast them together with pungent onions, fresh garden herbs and a generous glug of olive oil. Goodbye delicious tomatoes.

An oddly shaped package sat on my doorstep when I arrived home from school yesterday. I recently won a giveaway on the blog Delightful Repast. Thank you, Jean. These silicone spatulas will come in handy now that it's time to think about Christmas baking. That blue makes me smile inside and out.

It's also time for Cranberry Pumpkin Bundt Cake. This photo is from last year although I made the cake again recently. For lack of fresh/frozen cranberries, I used dried and the cake is not nearly as good. I also used the tail end of my organic baking powder and I wonder if it's out of date. Baking can really be hit and miss at times.

I'm looking forward to some time to light this candle and spend some time on the couch, stitching away at a few projects. However, I've been called to teach every day this week. 

I introduced Romeo and Juliet to a class of Grade 9 students. Lots of setting the stage, so to speak, before beginning reading the prologue. 

One young man's reaction to the prologue was, "Oh Shakespeare! I'd like to go back in time and plead with you, 'Please, don't write anything. You don't know what you're starting."

I could only laugh and sympathize as I could see my own husband as a high school student having the same reaction. We're onto Act 1, Scene 3 and this same young man volunteered to read a part and succeeded admirably.

How do you feel about Shakespeare? Yea or nay? What kind of literature do you most enjoy?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Find Joy in the Ordinary

The camera sits on the shelf these days. Reasons there are a-plenty: busy days of work, darkness closing in earlier and earlier, and a lack of motivation.

 Over the weekend I picked up my camera and snapped a few photos of life around here. The stack of books I'm reading above - mysteries, writing inspiration, biography.

I'd like to move into this room. Evenings find me sprawled on the carpet with a pillow and a throw in front of the fire. The book there is a new one - I was the first to check it out from our public library. A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes, niece of Julian Fellowes. Luscious photographs, recipes, and 12 chapters (one for each month) giving more insight into the world we've come to enjoy.

One caveat - if you haven't watched Season 5 (just finished in the UK) don't read this book quite yet as there are spoilers. I've watched the season on line so nothing untoward was revealed. I'm awaiting the Christmas special.

Candles on the kitchen table add coziness to our evening meal. Finding cozy is important these days. We've enjoyed a good run of sunshine, but the clouds are moving in and the rains will come. 

Jen of Muddy Boot Dreams wrote a wonderful post yesterday about finding joy in the ordinariness of life. It happens to all of us - ordinary things make up most of the day. Jen challenged her readers to find joy in these small things.

What's giving you joy today? Where are you finding cozy?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sit a Spell

seen from the boat as we headed home last Sunday afternoon

Four o'clock in the afternoon. Just home from school. Long slants of light filter through the trees outside my window. A few birds flit here and there in the bare branches. Darkness is near.
I have my feet up, a cup of tea beside me. The fire flickers. Time for a little break before moving on to dinner preparations (just leftovers tonight). 
Thinking ahead to the weekend:  municipal election tomorrow, some house cleaning and cooking, time with one grandchild tonight and two on Sunday night, giving parents time off. 
For now, I'll sip my tea and read a chapter or two of a P.D. James mystery. 
Looking forward to catching up with my favourite blogs over the weekend. What are your plans?   

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On the Forest Floor

Look down. There's an amazing world on the forest floor. Ashley is interested in learning about mushrooms, preferably the edible kind, so she had me taking photos of all kinds of fungi, from various angles. I had my zoom lens on my camera because I was planning to snap big-picture shots. But we made it work.

This is the only one we positively identified - amanita muscaria, or fly agaric - not edible but highly photogenic.

Lichens and grasses clinging to a rocky cliff edge with the sun dancing on the water in the background. 

A natural collage with leaves, sticks, moss, fungi and arbutus berries for colour. The hand of a master artist.

There were hundreds of apples fallen on the ground and more in the trees. Orchards planted by a settler family who once provided the area with fresh strawberries and plenty of apples. Crisp and delicious and now abandoned.

We hadn't brought any bags from the boat, so Tim tied his jacket into a carrying bag, and I suggested filling my hood. Ashley snapped this photo as we headed back. Tonight we enjoyed a salad with apples, avocado, grapefruit and pomegrante seeds. Yum!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Bit of Stitching

The sewing urge has been quite dominant lately. It's a good thing. My daughter-in-law's birthday is later this week, but we celebrated this past weekend. I stitched up two pillow covers using fabrics that will go in her living room. A simple Granny Square block with diagonal machine quilting came together without any glitches.

We also celebrated my daughter's birthday which was the previous weekend. I don't make clothes for my kids much any more, but last spring I stitched up this Vogue 8689 pattern and it turned out a wee bit too small so I gave it to my youngest daughter. Then I thought it would nicely fit her elder sister, so this time I made it in a cozy flannel. It does fit her, and oddly, it fits me, too, although I don't think I've lost any inches. Next I'll make it for myself, allowing for a little more room where needed.
This afternoon I worked in the garden, digging some manure into the garden beds where it can rot over the winter. I planted a few more tulips, some Siberian iris and Allium bulbs.

The winner of the Gladys Taber book is Deanna of Creekside Cottage.  Congratulations, Deanna. I'll contact you via email for your address.

We Will Remember Them

photo from the Canadian Legion 63

Every year my elementary school, like others across Canada, held a special assembly to commemorate Remembrance Day. The year I was in Grade 7, I was selected to read the poem In Flanders Fields, to the students, teachers and parents who attended. 

I remember telling the teacher that I could recite it by memory because of its familiarity over the years. However, it was decided that there was more gravitas to reading than reciting. It's a poem that has stayed with me through the years, and one that I recite to myself on Remembrance Day, to honour those who have fallen for the sake of freedom. We in Canada wear poppies, provided by the Canadian Legion, as a sign of remembrance.

We will remember them.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend Fun

This photo makes me laugh every time I look at it. Aunty and Uncle with a niece and nephew, trying to get the littles to look at the camera. Real life.

Our Vancouver kids came over for the weekend and we all gathered on Saturday night for birthday festivities. We like to lump close birthdays together in a joint celebration. Here are two little hugging cousins with their matching blue eyes.

Mister F is now mobile and interested mostly in the things he can't have, like the fireplace and technology. He's awfully cute.

On Sunday we took Owen and Ashley out on the boat. Such a beautiful day. Blue skies, blue water, and all the glories of creation. 

This was the first boating trip with my new camera and I snapped away. The zoom lens enables me to take different kinds of shots.  Such fun. 
I did have a very scary moment. On the way back the water was a bit rough. I stood in the boat and took photos sort of leaning out a bit. Suddenly a wave hit and I stumbled, my knees going onto the seat and my camera forward. I managed to keep hold of it, but promptly put the neck strap around my neck.

"That's what it's there for," reminded Tim.

We stopped at Russell Island for a little exploration. I've written about this island before, here, and here

Rocky outcroppings, arbutus trees laden with berries, paths scattered with yellow maple leaves. So much loveliness.

These colours make my heart sing - the blues, whites, greys and tans in infinite shades. Intense.

And just look at the design on these Harlequin Ducks. Isn't it amazing? They are slate blue on the top, which doesn't show up well in this photo. Such a handsome pair.

The weekend feeling continues around here. Although Tim had to work today, he has tomorrow off for Remembrance Day. The Vancouver pair are still here so the pace is slow and relaxed. So lovely to visit. And the sun shines.