Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thoughts on Friday

The scent of mandarin oranges whispers "Christmas" to me. My parents would buy a box or two and keep them in cold storage in the basement. Each orange, wrapped in green tissue paper, had smooth skin that peeled easily, filled the air with exotic citrus, and tasted sweet.

Do you remember the wooden boxes? After the oranges disappeared, the box became any number of things - a shelf, a doll bed, the frame for a house. I think those wooden orange boxes started me on the path of a-box-for-everything.

For me, mandarin orange scent is Christmas, but for my children, who grew up in the jungle where mandarins grew year round, the scent reminds them of home. 

A couple of mornings ago Tim pointed out the full moon - in the morning! In the half light between night and day it shone fat and bright, framed by a few skimpy forsythia branches just off the deck. 

We're going through a cold spell - temperatures just below freezing at night, warming up to cool, but brilliant sunshine. Ice in the garden stays all day. 

I took a quick stroll with my camera around Government House on Thursday. How surprising, given the chilly nights, to see these fuschia plants so hale and hearty.

Rounding another corner on the path I spied hellebores just beginning to flower. Such beautiful creamy blossoms. 

Something else happened at Government House - but that will be a post for another day.

Back to the mandarins - what scents evoke Christmas for you? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chewing and Thinking

My current breakfast fixation - one apple, sliced, topped with plain full fat yogurt and a small handful of mixed nuts, chopped. I think I've had this every day for the past month. It keeps me going strong until lunchtime. 

It also takes awhile to chew. This morning, while chewing, I got to thinking. And after I finished chewing....

I took my big cup/mug of tea and sat down on the floor in front of the fire. Such a cozy place. First I toast my back, then my front. Just lovely.

Then I open my journal and begin making lists. It's the season! Lists of things to do, goodies to bake, menus to plan. Lists of shopping and decorating. Lists of giving. Lists to remind me to take the moments as they come. To enjoy. To simply be. What gets done, gets done. The rest doesn't matter.

I've always resisted purchasing Christmas dishes. Storage is an issue, for one thing. For another, we really do have plenty of plates. But these red and creamy white ones called out to me. "For Christmas breakfast," I thought. 

And more. I used them for a recent breakfast eaten in front of the fire as the sun streamed in. 

I don't have a lot of red, but I'm gathering my bits and pieces together to display in the grey china hutch. I think it's a good beginning. 

Advent begins this Sunday, so next on the list is getting the candles and Nativity set organized. Then, a wreath on the door. I'm looking forward to singing carols in church, to family gatherings, to walks under the stars (I'm wishing for snow, but that's unlikely). I'm not giddy with excitement as I used to be during this season, but I am filled with a quiet anticipation of this celebration of Christ's birth that makes me smile. 

Now, back to those lists and some more thinking. Tell me, do you function best with or without lists? 

Linking to Roses of Inspiration.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Increments of Time

Early last week, wild wind and rain splattered hard against cars and houses, whipping leaves off trees and flinging them against windows and windshields.  

Calm arrived a couple of mornings later, along with frost that soon melted. I captured the above photo from a bedroom window that looks towards the Olympic Mountains, seen here in hazy blue. 

The wind tore branches from trees in the neighbourhood and during a couple of evening walks, I picked up a few to fill the plant pots on the porch. I was happy to see, in the daylight, that several branches included pine cones. I'll add some cedar and holly to gussy the pots up for Christmas. 

Intense color streaked this afternoon's sky as we began our walk around the bog. 

During the summer the bog drains dry. I don't know where the ducks go, but once the rains begin and the water rises, the wildlife returns. Although the light faded quickly, I captured a few placid ducks paddling quietly.

Wind. Rain. Calm. Weather, like life, is changeable.  

Christmas preparations are beginning slowly around here. I'm becoming more efficient in using bits of time to accomplish small tasks. And I'm discovering once again that a little bit done in small increments can add up to accomplishing what I'd like to see done.

As my American friends prepare for Thanksgiving this week, I wish you all a wonderful celebration with loved ones and family. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Frosty outdoors, Cozy indoors

It's my first week-day morning at home in at least a month. The 8:30 a.m. class I've been teaching has been turned over to the regular teacher and I'm back to my usual afternoons. It's delightful. 

Yesterday morning was frosty. Before dashing to school, I zipped out to the garden with my camera. Rosebuds shiver, but still stand straight and pretty. 

The fig leaves have all dropped. The late crop of tiny figs is still on the tree, but they will soon fall, too, unable to flourish in these conditions. We rarely get to enjoy the second crop here.

I mentioned bathroom renos in my last post. We still haven't chosen the tile, but I did get something done. I had two of my photos printed onto canvas. These are 9 inch canvases because our ensuite is very small, and they fit perfectly. The shadows are awful, but that's the weather these days. When the work is complete, I'll show before and after photos of the rooms. But don't hold your breath. It might be awhile. I'm just glad everything is functional. 

I've been puttering away at some Christmas projects. These silk, beaded hearts are one of them. I have so many sewing supplies and am trying to use what I have. The beads and silk are leftovers from weddings. The hardest part of this project was threading the beading needle. Wow! That eye seems to have shrunk since the last time I beaded! All that's left is attaching thread loops for hangers. For that I can use a regular needle.

There are other projects in the works. I'm enjoying the handwork while sitting by a cozy fire with a cup of tea beside me. Time to get back to the stitching.

Are you working on any seasonal projects? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Restful Weekend and Baked Eggs

It's been a quiet weekend. A few chores, a little sewing, a long walk in the rain with my husband (very Bronte-ish), some television watching, and very little computer time.

No photos, either, so I've recycled some from last fall. I played with still life arrangements for Donna's Personal Photo Challenge. This time I created a collage of a few of my favorites. (The link goes to her regular blog, as the photo challenge has been discontinued for now, after the death of her husband last December.) 

We've been working, over the past few months, on renovating our upstairs bathrooms. They are to the point of choosing tile for the back splash. Do you have any idea how many choices there are for tile? I'm sure it numbers in the thousands of thousands. I sort of know what I want. Tim needed to see for himself. We decided on something, then I found a sample of the same tile with grout and he decided he didn't like it. So we started all over again. No decision yet. 

A number of people commented on the breakfast I showed earlier in the week. The eggs are baked in ham cups - an easy way to prepare breakfast for a crowd (or one or two). 

You can use a muffin tin, but I like using my ramekins. Lightly grease the ramekins, then place a slice of Black Forest ham inside. Crack open an egg into the ham. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons cream over top. Sprinkle with cheese, salt, pepper and herbs, as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes, depending how well you like the eggs cooked.

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage, and No Place Like Home, hosted by Sandi.   

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Be Kind

Thinking of and praying for the people of France today. Such a broken, broken world. 

Yet, there is goodness.

Paris, 2009. My mother, my sister and I headed for the train station via the Metro. Going down the many stairs to the subway was a challenge with our luggage. A young Frenchman ran quickly down the stairs past us. At the bottom he stopped, turned around, ran back up, grabbed my mother's suitcase and took it all the way down for her. 

There are wonderful and beautiful things to see and do in Paris. But, this unexpected kindness from a complete stranger will be one of my most enduring memories of that beautiful city.

Be kind to each other.   

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Waterfront properties are valuable pieces of investment. I think that if I lived in a house such as the one above, I'd have a hard time getting things done. My preferred activity might be sitting beside one of those windows staring at the water. 

Would you like to have your own private island? This small one, not too far from town, is for sale - complete with a "needs updating" home - for a cool half million or so.

Moody blues and greys are the colors of the day lately. Beautiful, serene, and sculptural.

Here and there, however, patches of bright wildflowers still bloom, unmindful of the calendar. 

Another bright spot over the weekend - taking the time to make a full breakfast for the two of us and chatting over a cup or two of tea or coffee. 

What's brightening your days?