Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Beach in Winter

According to the weather historians,this stretch of cold weather (just below freezing) is the longest in 30 years. Temperatures dropped in early December and haven't really risen to normal yet. 

There's been little precipitation, accompanied by clear, sunny skies.

On Sunday afternoon 9 of us took a walk to Witty's Lagoon. 6 adults, 3 small children. The forest floor gave off the damp scent of earth and of trampled pine boughs tossed down by the wind.

The Littles pretended they were horses along the path - "walk, horses, walk," then "gallop, horses, gallop," followed by "rest, horses, rest."

Once on the beach, a distant clump of rocks shone golden as the sun sank lower and lower. Gulls wheeled and cried, their white breasts and wings glinting silver as they caught the light. 

In the distance, across the Strait, the high mountains of the USA's Olympic Peninsula rose out of blue mists.

Ducks squawked, swam, dove and flew.

The beach in winter is just as much fun as it is in summer. There were sand castles, rocks thrown, trenches dug. Sticks gathered, stories told, and laughter.

The gear of a winter beach might look different than summer's. No swimming suits or sun tops. Instead these hilarious hats, one a reindeer, one a cat, both worn with careless elegance and sweet individuality. 

We missed the Vancouver couple, and wished they could have joined us. Our DIL, in the brown jacket, brought along a thermos of hot tea. When I commented on what a great idea that was, she said that she had seen her MIL (yours truly) write about it on her blog. HA! On this walk, I brought nothing. In the photo of the two couples, I caught the guys chewing on cookies. Hope they don't mind.

The weather forecast is for a warming trend, perhaps to 7 or 8 Celsius, accompanied by rain. I'm glad we got out to enjoy the sunny cold on this Sunday afternoon.

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five on Friday: In and Out

My photography mojo has gone the way of the dodo bird lately. When we walk, it's dark. We've not been out for a proper hike since Christmas. Perhaps we'll remedy that this weekend. Yesterday morning I wandered through the frozen garden to see what I could see. 

First was my potting bench. Just looking at it made me long for spring and the pleasant work of gardening. 

2. There are a few sad roses, frozen and drooping, that bloomed after the autumn pruning. Poor things. As soon as the weather warms a little I'll be out there with my clippers. 

3. The Cotoneaster seems to thrive in the cold. Brilliant red berries are a lovely sight from my window - they are the only colour in the garden just now.

4. Once indoors again I started cutting 3 inch squares from my overflowing scrap basket. I have an idea to make a Granny Square quilt. My supply of white fabric is depleted, so I won't begin sewing until I can replenish that. January seems like a good month to begin a project, don't you think?

5. The red and white in the china hutch is still making me happy. I took out the bits of pine that were dropping needles everywhere. Looking at the photo now, I see a tea cup and saucer purchased in Germany while on a trip with my sister and mother, a silver jug found in a thrift store, a soup tureen given to me by my mom, and a polka-dotted café au lait bowl that I purchased at a Matisse exhibition in Vancouver a few years ago. I like having stuff that inspires memory.

Linking with Five on Friday, hosted by Amy of Love Made my Home.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On a Tuesday in January

The wind is whipping around the corners of the house this evening. I went for a short walk this afternoon and brrrr, it was cold. Perhaps it's the restless wind that's affecting my mood. I can't settle to much. So I wandered around with my camera for a bit. Not much inspiration there, either, but I did snap this paperwhite bud beginning to form. The earlier bulbs I started are long, 18-20 inches tall and beginning to straggle. These are much shorter, perhaps because they are on the windowsill where it's colder. I don't really know, but I'm enjoying them nonetheless.

We had an appointment at 5 pm this evening and I wanted to have some dinner ready to go when we got home afterwards. This sausage and pepper pot came together very quickly. No real recipe - sauteed sausage (I used polish sausage, sliced into rounds), sauteed peppers (4), onion (1), garlic (2 cloves), a can of diced tomatoes and some frozen green beans. Served over elbow pasta and sprinkled with asiago cheese it made for a fast and satisfying dinner. 

Do you have any recipes that come together quickly after a busy day?

I snapped this photo from a magazine; the December issue of Country Homes and Interiors. I thought the rustic branch with the red heart berries so pretty, and suitable for almost any season, including Valentine's Day.

The wind continues to clatter all around, but the fire is cozy. Perhaps I'll pick up my slow knitting project, or make some more hexies. Or perhaps I'll just and dream. It's one of those evenings.  

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Craigdarroch Castle

 In the late 19th century, Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant to Canada who became wealthy via Vancouver Island coal, built an impressive mansion on a hill overlooking the ocean in Victoria. Today, Craigdarroch Castle offers a glimpse into life as it was in a colonial outpost during the Victorian era. 

We visited the house shortly before Christmas to hear a presentation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, done by a single actor. We toured the house before and after the performance.

The rooms were elaborately decorated for Christmas, particularly the fireplace mantels. 

I particularly enjoyed the dining room with the linens, crystal and silverware. I asked the guide about the china pattern, and was told it was earthenware. 

The blue and white pattern is very pretty with its gold trim. I also learned that leaning over too far to snap a photo will trigger an alarm. Oops. 

These sweet teddy bears in a daughter's bedroom caught my eye. I can just imagine a little girl placing them carefully together to keep company while she was off doing other things.

Sadly, the house passed out of the family about 20 years after it was built, serving as a military hospital, a college and a music conservatory before becoming the property of the city of Victoria and restored as a museum. 

It's an interesting glimpse into the life of an entrepreneur who had the wealth to create something of the Old Country here in the New World. High society was alive and well in the colonies. 

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

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Five on Friday: My January World

The flicker of candlelight adds a glow to dark and cold evenings, a glow I crave these January days when I go to work in the dark and often return in the dark. What is it about candlelight that so entrances?

It's chilly out there! Jack Frost creates intricate beauty during the night, etching, sculpting, outlining in ice. 

Just before Christmas I was in a consignment store in Oak Bay purchasing a china teapot lid for my mother. Hers broke several years ago and they are difficult to replace. In the shop Good Things, I found an entire teapot, with the spout chipped, for less than what it would cost to order a lid from a replacement company. So I bought it. The shop was busy and the line up for the till passed by a book case filled with treasures. Good planning, I think. I found Susan Branch's Vineyard Seasons on the shelf and didn't think twice about picking it up. Her illustrated pages are so layered and interesting that I always find something to study in them. 

Most of the Christmas decor is gone, but I leave the beaded garland around the dining room chandelier up until spring. And the red dishes in the china cabinet until Valentine's Day. A bit of glitz is welcome in the winter, don't you think?

Tea and chocolate by the fire is so very cozy. This first week back to school seems to be stretching out interminably although it's only 4 days. I'm looking forward to the weekend and don't plan on accomplishing a whole lot. Maybe some reading, some sewing, perhaps some knitting. A bit of laundry. Lots of gazing into the fire, and watching candles flicker. What are your plans?

Linking these 5 glimpses of my January world with Amy's Five on Friday linkup. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Off to a Slow Start

Happy New Year! 2017 began slowly around here, with a very little energy that is slowly increasing. School began today and I really wondered how I'd get through the day, but I did, and I feel pretty good. Enough energy remains to at least write a blog post! Thank you for all your kind comments - they cheered me up immensely!

The paperwhites are on their last legs, still pretty with their thin, parchment-like petals. 

I saw this Camembert Snowflake on Facebook and thought it would be something fun to make. Here's a link - although I'll warn you that some of the ads on the site are somewhat tasteless (haha). My version was made with Brie in place of Camembert. It tasted wonderful. I made it again in the mountain chalet and substituted chopped ham for the bacon, again wonderful. This would be great as an appetizer, or with soup for lunch, or just lunch. 

New Year's eve was spent quietly at home, just the two of us. We made an easy Mussels dish and sopped up the creamy sauce with crusty bread. We watched The Last King on Netflix, a Norwegian film about an event in the 1200s. The way those men skied was amazing! 

I wandered around the house with my camera and snapped these few photos. Above, embroidered felt birds dangling from the curtain add a bright note to the kitchen.

Another couple of paperwhite bulbs are started and will give some welcome blooms in a few weeks. A little cypress tree adds colour. The air plant terrarium was a gift from a daughter. These bright greens are so welcome in what can often be a dull month.

I'm not in the habit of making New Year's resolutions, although I do reflect on the year past, and ponder my intentions for the year ahead. I've not gotten around to thinking much of anything recently, so that will have to wait.

For now, I'm content, sitting by the fire, replete with a dinner of Cheesy Polenta and Roasted Vegetables, and I'm not even going to grade any papers. Time enough later. The tree is down, but all the other decorations adorn the piano, the mantel, and other surfaces. I'm in no hurry. Perhaps this weekend.

How is your year beginning? Slowly, or with a bang?

Sunday, January 01, 2017

What I Did During My Christmas Break

Early on Boxing Day morning, we said good-bye to my parents and began packing up for our trip to Mount Washington. My throat was a little scratchy, so I kept a cup of tea and honey close by. Then I started feeling a wee bit achy, took an Advil, and perked up immensely.

When we arrived at the parking lot below our chalet, snow was falling in thick flakes. We weren't quite certain where to go, but Daughter #2 knew a bit more about the mountain and guided us. No motorized vehicles are allowed, so everything the 11 of us needed for four days was hauled up by sled. Fortunately, it wasn't too far to go, but there was a steep incline, and I'd forgotten how hard it is to trudge through fresh snow. It was a wild time. Children were brought in, crying with cold and wet, for we hadn't thought to have their snow gear ready. Mr. F. desperately wanted his mother, but soon settled against my chest while I sang to him, while his mother helped get stuff indoors. 

My achy misery increased.

To make a very long story very short, I had the flu. I lay around for three days on the couch doing nothing. Nothing. No playing with the littles in the snow. No skiing. I barely managed a short walk the second day. The third day I just gave in, put on a movie and drowsed. The ache was dreadful. I felt cold most of the time.

You can guess where this is going - next to succumb was a son-in-law, both daughters, Miss S, then Mr. F. Oh, I felt even more dreadful. As one of my children commented, "Mom's a good sharer!" But everyone was so kind: making tea, running a hot bath, heating up my rice bag (thrown in at the last), and letting me lie on the couch.

On our last day, I felt well enough to accompany Tim and Travis (son) to their cross-country ski lesson. I thought I'd sit in the lodge and take photos. Then I thought I felt well enough to do a little snowshoeing, so I did. I felt decidedly brave to venture out on my own. These photos are all from that 2 hour snowshoe adventure, my only excursion. 

Weather conditions during the two hours varied from thickly falling snow to clear sunshine. When I rounded a corner and saw the light glowing on a scrawny tree, I knew I'd reached the entrance to Narnia. Alas, no one offered me tea, nor did beavers approach me. 

Magical loveliness around every corner.

From one vantage point I could see the chairlift where the other adults were, or had been, skiing. 

A small flock of gray jays flitted in and out of a tree, landing on the outstretched hands of a group of girls, also snowshoeing.

By 2:30 the shadows stretched long against the snow and by 3:00 the light had noticeably changed.

I was glad to see the lodge appear when it did, for I had reached the end of my energy. A cup of hot chocolate fortified me while I waited for the others.

So. The week did not unfold as I had planned. However, it was still a good week, and I certainly had a great view from the couch. We'll chalk this one up to making a memory.

Happy New Year! Thank you for reading my words. I appreciate the blogging community in ways I could have never envisioned. I've made delightful friends, been inspired by your posts to think about things in different ways, and I've emulated some of your projects. I'm looking forward to a great 2017!