Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Satisfying Weekend

Weekends are a chance to catch up on a few things around here. However, I've learned that it does no good to race around trying to accomplish too much. At the very least, I do the laundry, clean the bathrooms, and do a quick vacuum of the floors. 

Meals are taken leisurely, for the most part. If I feel like cooking, I do, if I don't, well, there's plenty of stuff in the freezer that's easy to heat up. This weekend was a combination - some cooking, some freezer items. Saturday breakfast was baked eggs with Brie and prosciutto. 

On Saturday night we invited children and grandchildren over with the express purpose of helping to whittle down some of the holiday appetizers that still languish in the freezer. Soup and appetizers was the menu, along with a tray of cut up vegetables. 

Tulips are in the stores now, and I can't resist picking them up. These are fresh and just beginning to open. Such a pretty shade of pink. 

The glow of twinkle lights on the mantel makes me feel cozy and warm, closed in by comfort. 

On Saturday evening the wind rose and howled around the house throughout the night. I awoke often as gusts clattered against the windows. Sunday, the wind eased, and we went for a walk in the afternoon. Just as we reached the furthest point from home and were beginning the return part of the loop, rain fell. Hard. We arrived home drenched, very happy to change our clothes, make some hot tea, and lounge in front of the fire. Comfort, indeed. Very hygge-ish. 

Last week's leggy tulips have been trimmed. The mosaic is composed of photos taken throughout the week, from tightly closed buds to wide open blossoms.

Sunday evening's dinner was a pan-fried salmon filet with spinach, roasted vegetables and couscous. Quick and easy. All in all, it was a satisfying weekend. How was yours?

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie from Normandy Life.  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A January Walk

Last Sunday the clouds scattered, skies lifted, and the desire for a long walk led us to the Selkirk and Songhees walkways. From Victoria's protected harbour, a winding waterway, The Gorge, meanders inland. Along its shores residential and industrial buildings mix in relative harmony. 

Several bridges cross The Gorge Waterway, including our infamous Blue Bridge, soon to be replaced by another. Construction has been long and fraught with delays of one sort or another, but in a few months, the iconic bridge above will be replaced by a sleeker, modern version. 

Roses in January? How can that be? These were blooming in the shelter of shrubs. Such pretty blossoms for winter. 

We saw many birds along the way, including Mr. Old Grumpy, aka Great Blue Heron. 

Others had the same desire for fresh air and when a woman coming from the other direction cried out, "oh look," I looked. From a stone wall above the walkway, a clump of snowdrops looked down on passersby. 

Cloud-streaked skies and delicate colours let us know that it was time to head back to the car, an hour away. 

Since Sunday, more rain has fallen, but have you noticed the days are noticeably longer? 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January Comforts

During this rainy, dark month, I crave colour. I wear a bright scarf, perhaps pink or cobalt, and put bright oranges on a cheerful plate from Mexico. Rosemary survives the winters here, and I dash out between the raindrops to clip a sprig or two to throw into a roast chicken, or a warming beef stew.

Although it's only been a week since school started, I'm exhausted. A couple of days of filling in for another teacher turned into all week, and next as well. I came home on Thursday, completed knackered (don't you think that's a great word?), and felt the need for a little self-care. The cheese, orange, and tea were lovely, but as someone who saw the photo on FB said, "where's the chocolate?" Where, indeed? I was all out. That was remedied today!

We slept in today, then lingered over a bacon and egg breakfast. A bit of laundry, grocery shopping, and some house puttering filled the rest of the day. Puttering included repotting a couple of houseplants, and finding a home for this tiny succulent I bought. There's a hyacinth getting ready to bloom, as well. I've put it in the corner window where it will get the most of the pale, watery light.

I ventured out to the garden, too, and discovered bluebell shoots poking up through decaying leaves. There are snowdrops, tightly closed, but with pearly beads showing through translucent tissue that will soon burst. My heart filled with such joy at the life appearing in the garden. 

From my window I see the maple tree beaded with silver on every branch. The raindrops catch the faint light and softly sparkle. I couldn't catch the sparkle on my camera, but imagine every branch beaded as the one above.

This evening we're having shrimp tacos for dinner, and we'll watch a movie and/or read books. I'll light some candles and put the twinkle lights on. January is the time to practice coziness. How are you faring in this first month of the year?

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Back to Real Life

During last week's trip to the mainland, Tim and I stopped at Brae Island for a walk. The island is in the Fraser River, alongside Fort Langley, built by the Hudson Bay Trading Company in 1827. The fort itself is a National Historic Site, and there is also a small town grown up beside it. It's a fun place to wander, with cute shops and interesting buildings. But this was New Year's Day and little was open. 

The Fraser River is navigable by fairly large ships for a long ways. These abandoned pilings bear mute witness to the industry that once bustled along the shores. 

In the Garibaldi Mountain Range across the river, these peaks played peek-a-boo with the clouds. The peaks were originally named the Golden Eyries, but the name became Golden Ears, and that's how these peaks are known today. The park encompassing the mountains is popular with hikers and campers, although I wouldn't have wanted to be camping up there in January. 

Once home again, I spent some time sewing. I wanted to make another project bag to hold my embroidery. As I began pinning the pieces together, I realized that the large floral print was directional, and going sideways instead of up and down. So I cut the bag dimensions in half, turned the flowers right way up, and ended up with two smaller bags. 

One of my New Year's intentions is to use up some of the many teas I have in my cupboard. There is a large box of various kinds, and they get ignored since I usually grab a bag from the canister on my countertop. So I sorted through the individual bags and put them into a small bowl in plain view where I'm more likely to use them. I like a little honey with my tea, as well. There's been a lot of tea made during these days at home. 

I'm beginning the new year with a new journal. Starting a blank book is full of possibility, and scope for imagination, don't you think? 

I have three of Laura Calder's cookbooks, and took this one from the library. I think it will go onto my wishlist, as well. I've never had a bad recipe from Calder - her books are full of inventive, but not labour-intensive ways to prepare vegetables, soups, and main courses, with a few desserts. You won't find muffins or very many cookies in her books. 

And one more photo from the mainland - of the birds at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve in Chilliwack. These were taken after the ice storm, and the birds were happy to crowd around the feeders. 

A squirrel was happy to clean up some of the mess made by falling birdseed. He looks quite fat and content.

School begins tomorrow, with a bang. A couple of hours ago another teacher contacted me - due to a family situation, I'm covering her morning classes. As well, a couple of visiting students from Brazil will be in my Spanish class in the afternoon. I find that I can understand Portuguese because of its similarity to Spanish, so we'll see if that works in reverse.

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.  

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Back from a Little Jaunt

On the second-to-last day of 2017, we boarded the ferry for a trip to the mainland. We spent a couple of nights in Vancouver, with our youngest daughter and her husband. I didn't take a single photo. The weather was chilly and sunny. 

We brought in the New Year with a crab dinner, watching Star Wars on Netflix, and headed to bed shortly after midnight. 

On the first we wound our way through Vancouver, crossed the Port Mann Bridge and drove along Highway 1 towards Chilliwack. As we approached Abbotsford, the scenery beside the road changed dramatically from greens and browns to crystal clear and white. 

The ice coating caused by the storm a few days earlier was preserved by the cool weather. The first photo shows a blank billboard along the highway that I decided to write in. 

My grandfather once owned a raspberry field alongside the highway. I spent a summer picking berries there and always think of him, and that summer, when I drive by. It's now a blueberry field, and although the second photo is blurry, the sea of white ice covering the plants is still dramatic. Each branch appears coated in clear crystal. 

Before driving to my parents' home, we stopped at the Great Heron Reserve along the Vedder River for a short walk and some photos.

As we walked along the trail, the sharp snap of ice cracking overhead accompanied us. Small shards fell and stabbed into the snow on the ground. The beauty was breath-taking, but also treacherous. Many were without power for several days. Branches and entire trees snapped under the weight of ice. 

It's amazing to me that more trees didn't collapse. The ice is so thick compared to the delicate thin branches. 

A larger view - a winter wonderland!

I'm looking forward to a few more quiet days at home before school begins. I've not had time to reflect on the year behind and ponder the year ahead. Some time writing in my journal and updating calendars will happen. Simple cooking. A little stitching. Quiet days. 

And now a huge storm is forecast for the east coast of Canada and the USA. One of my work colleagues is stranded in the UK with his son who played for Canada in a rugby match. We're assuming it's because of the impending weather. I hope and pray that those of you affected will remain warm and safe.  

Friday, December 29, 2017

Between the Years

While the rest of Canada and much of the USA are enduring deeply cold weather, we on the "balmy" west coast watch the rain pelt down. It's very grey outside, dull and heavy. The above photo was taken from my kitchen window - you can see how leaden the background is. 

So let's cozy up by the fire with a mug of tea (I can make coffee, if you'd prefer) and some treats. The photo shows my breakfast bowl of yogurt, berries and nuts, but that's long gone and it's time to break out the cookies. 

There's some Cranberry Orange Shortbread left, and Nanaimo Bars. My daughter made the shortbread. So pretty, and tasty, too. Help yourself. Take two. There's more in the tins.

The paperwhites bloomed beautifully, but didn't seem to have much scent this year. They were starting to fall over and the blossoms dry out, so I gave them a haircut. I don't want to miss any of this bright greenness that is such a wonderful contrast to dull outdoors. Twinkle lights on the mantel help, too. 

This is a photo from Christmas Day. So pretty. 

How has your 2017 been? It's been a good year for me, mostly, although aching loss and unfulfilled deep hopes have been a part of it. For the first time there was no parcel to mail to Tim's mum. No phone calls. We miss her. The deep hopes are carried forward into another year and we trust the God who loves us. 

Several days before the snow, there was frost. This is an untouched colour photo. Monochrome morning. 

Are you doing anything for New Year's Eve? We won't be at home this year. I took a few fast photos just before the guests arrived to our party earlier in the month. I love cheese, even the smelly blue stuff. I thought the cheese board looked so pretty. But I probably will do things differently next time. The mingling of the nuts wasn't a good idea - some are allergic to tree nuts, others to one kind or the other. 

The spread in the bottom corner is easy to make, and looks festive. Layer goat cheese with chopped sundried tomatoes, pesto, and fresh herbs in a clear glass container. I used a cylindrical vase/candle holder from Michael's. The clear sides show the layers well. 

In this week between the years, I hope you are enjoying some moments of quiet reflection. I know that I am. There's not much being accomplished around here. The beef stew mentioned in my previous post was eaten last night as we went out to dinner with friends the previous night. I finished watching The Crown last night. Today I'm doing a little laundry and will head out to do some errands. Reading, some stitching. Nothing pressing. Heavenly!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rambling Thoughts on the Second Day after Christmas

A thin layer of ice lies along the far shore of Tod Inlet. Dull skies cast a monotone light over everything. Bits of snow remain in the woods and the path is icy with compact snow. Our boots crunch.

Early morning on Boxing Day (December 26). I awake around 8 am and my mind feels curiously blank. No mental list of tasks to accomplish. Nothing on the schedule. My head feels physically lighter, somehow, as if there is room inside my skull, and my brain can rattle around freely. 

The woods are infinite shades of green and brown. Tangles of moss creep along branches.

No lessons to plan. No student management issues to think about. No marking to do. (I worked very hard the last week before Christmas to get all the papers marked and back to students.)

Abandoned dock pilings, each with their scarf of emerald and cap of white, stand stoic in the cold. A family of placid ducks swims in and around the pilings. 

No meals to plan - there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge. In the morning I drank my tea and visited with our daughter and son-in-law (who foraged for their own breakfasts). I did make my bed. 

In a clearing, one small tree holds a few ornaments, placed there by an unnamed someone who likes to delight the passersby. A silver angel blows his horn announcing the good news of Christmas to all. 

We dropped off our daughter and son-in-law at his parents' place around noon, then stopped for a walk along Tod Inlet. 

The woods are quiet. Not silent. Quiet with soft plops of snow, delicate rustles of birds, and one loud crack of twigs that startle me.

I realize that it's been too long since I didn't have something demanding my attention. One of my classes has been extremely challenging to teach this semester. I look forward to the switch over, and new classes at the end of January. 

My camera doesn't want to focus on this single rose hip. Tim puts his gloved hand behind it, focus happens, he moves his hand and I snap the photo. Teamwork. 

We return home and I continue to do nothing. I read a little, write a blog post, drink tea, nibble on cookies. Not much conversation.

Moss against snow. How lovely it all is growing greenly. The world is awash with beauty. 

Today is Wednesday. Tim is back at work. There's still nothing in my brain. It feels delightful. I have a hankering for beef stew, so I'll go for a walk to the grocery store. There's a library book to return, too. That will make the walk a little longer. That's okay. I have time.