Summer Bike Rides, Fresh Salmon & a Summer Fair

It’s been pretty busy these last few weeks. We had two weekends back to back on the lower mainland on various bike rides and spending time with our friends. Both weekends were fun and it’s at times like these when I miss the limitations of where we live

bike rides

There are more people catching the ferry now that it’s summer and so it’s quite challenging getting to and from Vancouver as the ferry fills up pretty fast. The last trip, the ferry we wanted to catch was full, so we ended up spending a couple of hours in Horseshoe Bay waiting for the next one. It’s very picturesque in the village itself with lots of restaurants, bars and coffee shops to choose from. We loved this coffee shop right on the water

with this guy to greet us as we walked through the door

and this beautiful view as we sipped our coffee on the patio

Our vegetable garden is thriving, which is surprising considering we’re not quite sure what we’re doing 😀

I moved some of the herbs from the front patio and planted them in between the veges. They love the good soil and longer hours of sunshine. To read more about our vegetable garden, click here.

The sweet peas are starting to flower and the scent is absolutely wonderful.

Yesterday, I picked a few and added them to some red current leaves from our tree near the front door

Our compost heap has had a couple of set backs due to a raccoon getting into it and making a complete mess of it all. After securing it on the top and sides a week ago, the next morning we found he’d dug underneath and got his meal that way. We found eggshells and vegetable peelings all over the place. Tori then put cement blocks underneath to stop him from digging underneath. A couple of days ago, we found him trying to get into it again with no luck.

Mr. racoon

My cat was sitting near by, watching – her eyes as big as saucers – she’s never seen a raccoon before. So we put both the cats inside and watched while Mr. Raccoon gave up, climbed the cherry tree near our patio and helped himself to a delicious fruit salad. I tried to get a photo of him on one of the branches, but every time I thought I had a clear shot, he moved and ended up being obscured by the branch.

We’ve been spending most evenings on our patio having a drink before supper and there’s been a couple of occasions when a humming bird has shown up and hovered near us as if to say “where’s the nectar at?” He became so persistent that we went out and bought a feeder yesterday, so hopefully he’ll be back.

Last weekend was a long weekend here in British Columbia, and I took an extra day off to re-organize our linen and sort out some things we still had in storage when we moved here in September. I found all my lovely specialty glasses – martini glasses, shot glasses and sherry glasses, and some ornaments that we love. So we spent a day making room for it all and rearranging a few things so that they are easily accessible (it’s a never-ending thing, really). Tori hung up a clock I gave him for his birthday

and a little wooden ship I had found in an out-of-the-way store in Mission a few years ago

We’ve been walking every morning for the past 3 weeks or in an effort to get fit and perhaps lose a bit of weight. The other day, my cat, Raven, decided to join us

and so we let her tag along. The next day, I shut her in the house before our walk as I was afraid she might get run over. Just as well I did, because halfway down the road we came across a Coyote. Coyotes find cats particularly delicious and I’m sure we would have had a problem.

This weekend we were given some salmon by our landlord that he caught a few weeks ago, and we had it for supper last night. The difference between freshly caught salmon and store-bought salmon is like night and day. The store-bought salmon has way less flavour, so this was a real treat for us.

I added the sweet peas and candles to our dinner table

We ended off the weekend with a visit to the Halfmoon Bay Summer Fair which started with a lovely pancake breakfast

and quick look at all the home made wares on sale – beautiful jewelry, pottery, leather goods, soaps and tea

and then lunch and locally made beer in the beer garden while listening to good music from a live band

this guy posed especially for me! 😀

Until next time

 

But First, Tequila

 

 

 

 

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May Day Parade, a Vegetable Garden & Goodbye to Shadow

Pender Harbour puts on a May Day parade / festival every year and so we decided to take a drive over there a find out what it was all about. We got there just as the parade started, and the first to come along were the vintage cars. Here are just four of my favourites

and a few of the floats – Piped Band (love the bagpipes)

Lots of Pirates

Our May Day Queen, of course doing her best Queen’s wave

No parade is complete without the Star Wars crowd

and these Skaters – Tori wanted the skull for his bike helmet 😀

There were lots of stalls selling all kinds of things from locally-made jewelry and clothes, to essential oils and home-made soaps (I bought some lovely lavender-rosemary soap)

lots of fun for the kids

and a live band for the adults.

The following weekend we said a sad goodbye to Shadow

We didn’t have him for very long – he showed up on our patio last August looking very skinny and dirty and smelling really awful. We gave him water, food and a bath. Over the months, we treated him for diarrhea, but he was never really 100%. The vet estimated his age to be about 13, so he was likely abandoned when he got sick. He had a good life with us over the 10 months that we had him and made friends with little Willow.

and then one day he just stopped eating and lost a huge amount of weight in a very short space of time. Our vet couldn’t find anything wrong with him except for the fact that ‘his time had come.’ And so we made the decision to end his suffering.

A week later, this came in the mail from our Vet

It was such a lovely thing to do and meant so much to us.

We didn’t think we’d be able to have a vegetable garden this year because our Landlord, who’s building a cottage next door to us, is quite a bit behind schedule and the space where we were going to grow things is still occupied by a lean-to. But, as an experiment, I planted a store-bought butter lettuce (minus the leaves, of course) in a pot on our front deck, and I also planted some tomato slices that I’d seen demonstrated on FaceBook – to see the demonstration, click here. I don’t really believe much of what’s posted on FaceBook, so when they started to re-grow and sprout, I was elated:

The tomatoes – these have already been transplanted out – there were approximately 10 seedlings but, of course, I forgot to take a “before” photo

So, with renewed enthusiasm, we decided to build a smaller version of our original vegetable garden using things that we found around the yard to save some money.

We planted the seed potatoes that we bought a month or so ago (and forgot about), onions, beans, peas, tomatoes and broccoli. We also planted nasturtiums, mint and marigolds as companion plants to ward off colorado beetles and other such pests.

Here’s what it looks like now – just 3 short weeks later –

potaotes

Lettuce planted in between the potatoes (this one was so successful that I planted two more store-bought lettuce. They already have little leaves on them

 

onions

Peas and beans

Broccoli seedlings

lavender and mint

and a new tomato plant to replace the one that my cat dug up 😦

We also had this little visitor to our front yard a week ago

Cute as she is, I’m told that her favourite food is vegetables. Especially delicious are tomatoes. So we decided to build a fence to keep her, and others like her, out. Once again, we used materials that we already had or found around the place. We got halfway done yesterday before calling it a day

We also started a little compost heap and I’ve been putting kitchen scraps into this little container and adding it to the compost every few days

I’ve also been adding kitchen scraps to another container, putting it in my slow cooker along with some inexpensive (read cheap) cuts of meat and leftovers from the fridge, and feeding to our dogs as an alternative to goodness-knows-what’s-in store-bought dog food. They wolf it down every night so it must be delicious

Our weekly garbage has been reduced from 3 garbage bags a week to half a bag a week 🙂

Last Saturday saw us at the Blues Festival in Pender Harbour. Tori loves the Blues and it was a fun night out

Cheers for now

But First, Tequila

 

 

 

 

A Birthday Dinner, More Toddler Fun, Ruby Lake and Spring

Being with good friends is always an amazing experience. After celebrating a life at last month’s funeral, that night we celebrated a birthday

The following weekend was warm and sunny. Tori was still in Vancouver completing his course, so I decided to take a drive out to Ruby Lake. Ruby Lake is named because the water turns red at sunset.

It was worth the hour’s drive from Halfmoon Bay – stunning views

hiking trails and a beach.

This is definitely somewhere we’ll come back to over the course of the summer.

The following weekend we took the opportunity of having Neil for the weekend. His parents have decided  to move back to Edmonton, which broke our hearts. The sunny weather turned cloudy and cold, but that didn’t stop us from visiting the beach and eating ice cream

Spring has come in with a vengeance at Halfmoon Bay – the daffodils and tulips that I stuffed into a window box last September when we moved, started to bloom

So beautiful – I just adore Daffodils. Of course, they were too crowded, so not all of them bloomed. When they’re done, I’ll separate them out.

The first of the Rhododendrons – we have 4 surrounding our little cottage

and cherry trees

And then these little flowers that are dotted around all over the place

Last weekend saw us back in Vancouver for some shopping and one last visit with Neil and the family

Until September.

It was Mother’s day the next day and Na-mee and Alex gave me a mug with chocolates in it (love chocolate)

The weather soon warmed up again and animals and humans alike spent many happy hours on the patio enjoying the sunshine

All too soon it was Monday and back to work. I guess Willow felt it too

Until next time …

 

But First, Tequila

 

 

 

A Night out with Friends, Easter in Edmonton, A Wedding & a Funeral

It’s been pretty hectic since my last post. Tori has settled into his course and is doing very well, according to his trainer. Living in a hotel isn’t exactly his cup of tea, so he’s very keen for it to be over so he can come home again. Only 4 more weeks!

We had some sad news in March – a friend of ours had what everyone thought was the flu bug that was going around, but unfortunately, it was clearly more than than and he passed away after only a few days. He was a wonderful man who always had a kind word for everyone, and always took the time to talk to us, no matter how busy he was.

Spent a very busy weekend in Vancouver on the 24th and 25th – there always seems so much to do and so many people to see. It started off with breakfast with Alex, Na-mee and little Neil. Neil was so very well behaved and it was wonderful to spend time with them catching up on all their news.

Neil - pancakes

That evening we gathered at a friend’s house for a few drinks (lots of Tequila was involved) and appies

before going on to a charity dance.

Thousands of miles away in South Africa, it was my niece’s wedding day. It’s at times like these that I really miss being closer to my family.

Unfortunately, we didn’t feel so wonderful the next day after so many tequilas and about 3 hours’ sleep, but we still had so many things to do, so we sucked it up and got on with our errands. I picked up some Easter cookies I had custom made for Clare

and after some more shopping, we moved onto the baby shower our friends were having for their daughter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay very long as I had to catch a ferry back home, but, all in all it was a wonderful weekend.

Easter weekend saw me in Edmonton spending time with Clare & Mat. I always love going there – they are such great hosts. We did a bit of shopping at Ikea on Friday and watched a movie on TV in the evening after an amazing supper of pulled chicken. I made this dish for Tori when I got back and he was hooked!

The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken - Family Fresh Meals -

The next day we went to a very popular bake shop called The Dutchess. People were lining up for 30 minutes or more to get their orders in. I don’t usually wait in line for too long for anything, but Clare assured me this was going to be worth it – and it was. It didn’t take us long to realize that we were’t going to be able to get a table, so we bought some macarons,

a rhubarb pie for dessert that night and a couple of London Fogs

and went home to stuff our faces.

That evening, one of Alex’s old school friends and his girlfriend, came for dinner – Easter ham followed by the delicious pie.

We played a board game which was a lot of fun – (I lost quite badly!) and played with Clare’s new kitten

and took selfies

The next day, we went to a move – A Wrinkle in Time. I love moves like that. There were very few people there, it being Easter Sunday, so we had a place to ourselves

Back in Vancouver, Neil was having a wonderful time with the Easter Bunny, and Na-mee sent us photos

Soon it was time to go home. After travelling most of the day, I relaxed on my patio with a glass of red wine.

and then I displayed the cushion covers that Clare brought back from Zimbabwe.

Until next time …

 

But First, Tequila

 

Clearing The Garden, New Patio Furniture & a Relaxing Weekend

Tori started his heavy equipment course on March 5th and I didn’t see him for 2 weeks. The first week was ok – I managed to get on with some home organization and cleaning – but the second week it started to wear a bit thin. So, he came over on the ferry on Friday evening to spend the weekend with me.

We decided to make a start on our patio furniture and bought two adirondack chairs to go at the far end. In a couple of weeks, we’ll buy another two.

We also bought some potatoes and onions and blood meal to add to our growing collection of vegetable and herb seeds.

We spent a lovely afternoon cleaning up the yard a little and making a start on the space for our vegetable garden. Our landlord is building a cottage above us and storing some of the building materials in one of the sheds on our property (the one on the right in the picture below, which will then be torn down to make space for the sewage system). A couple of weeks ago, they dug up some of our driveway to put in some piping, and cut down one of the trees, so where we plan to have our vegetable and herb garden, water feature and fire pit, looked like this. A bit of a mess, yes?

So Tori decided to have a bonfire to at least make a start on getting rid of some of the old wood and junk in that space.

Bonfire

The back yard was a bit of a mess where I had thrown some branches from pruning the shrubs

Back yard

So I put them all into the pile bound for the bonfire, and cut some dead-looking brambles

Branches

to neaten it up a bit and make it more pleasing to the eye

Even Tiki came out to help

After all that hard work, we sat ourselves down with a beer in our new chairs and watched the fire burn for a bit.

We made quite a dent in that old wood and only have a small pile left.

After spending a couple of relaxing hours by the fire, we cleaned ourselves up and went out for dinner.

Things are starting to bloom slowly. Little purple flowers are opening on the Creeping Charlie

Soon, this will be a mass of blue on the ground. Also, little crocuses coming up all over the place

and the previous resident planted hundreds of bulbs everywhere

When they flower, this will be a beautiful field of pretty flowers.

This morning, we put the new chairs in their place on the patio

and took our dogs for a walk down to Cooper’s Green.

The Canadian Geese are back and seem to have chosen a tiny island to nest on. They were all swimming around noisily and chasing each other

Also saw two little Sandpipers foraging for food on the beach. So cute with their little red beaks.

All too soon it was over. Tori went back to the lower mainland and I got on with prepping my lunches for next week and finishing off my laundry. Next weekend I’ll be the one taking the ferry over the to mainland to see Neil and spend some time with our friends – I can’t wait!

 

But First, Tequila

 

 

A Cold Spell and Toddler Fun

Neil- beach

This house has been sick these past couple of weeks. Tori has been a very good nurse to my while I coughed and hacked my way through it. Today, he woke up with it, so it looks like it’s my turn to play nursemaid!

Of course, mine started the weekend we had Neil. I almost cancelled it, but I wasn’t contagious and we’d looked forward to having him for so long, I decided against it in the end. And I’m glad I did! He was fascinated with the ferry – something new for him. He loved watching the water go by. Once on the Sunshine Coast, we went to the local diner for breakfast and Neil had pancakes

Neil - pancakes

After some grocery shopping, we took the dogs (and Neil) to the beach – he loved the surf – called it “bubbles!”

Neil- beach

and then some play time, while I did some household chores.

Neil - trains

After supper, we snuggled together on the couch and watched Sesame Street on TV and shared a bowl of his favourite snack – popcorn.

Neil - popcorn

It had been a very busy day for him and I guess it all proved a little too much – he fell asleep on the couch at around 7:30. All I could think at the time was that I was going to have to wake up at some ungodly hour, like 3 or 4 am, but he woke up again at around 9pm and we played some more before going back to sleep.

NEil - Sleep

The next morning, I had to wake him up, which gave me some time to drink my coffee and check my emails :). All too soon it was over. His parents came over on the ferry to visit and then took him home with them.

The broccoli seeds that we planted on the 12th, started coming up the very next Friday – yes, the 17th! I couldn’t believe it – the instructions on the seed packet said that germination was between 7 – 14 days, not 4 days.

Broccoli Sprouts

A few days after that, the basil that I planted also started to come up

The broccoli was getting so tall, it was starting to fall over, despite my running my fingers over them to strenghten the stalks. So today I transplanted them into a deeper tub, and planted some more seeds. I’m going to do this every two weeks so we get broccoli well into September.

Broccoli replant

Tori fixed our headless fisherman – so he’s looking pretty cool. To see what he looked like before, click here. I’m gathering some water feature ideas, so hopefully I can start working on it soon.

While we were basking in Spring-like weather last week and starting to feel pretty smug about how warm it was in February, Mother Nature decided to remind us that it’s still winter by giving us a bit of snow

I’m told my bulbs will be fine and will continue growing and flowering when the weather warms up, but for now, they look like this

Today I comforted my myself my buying some Spring bulbs.

spring bulbs

Hopefully, we’ll both we well enough for a trip into Vancouver next week – I have some shopping to do!

Cheers!

 

But First, Tequila

 

Stirrings of Spring, Starting Seeds & a New Shed

Chamomile

We’ve had so much rain in such a short space of time, that everything was starting to look a little waterlogged, especially the four palm trees. Last weekend, I had to cut most of them right back and re-pot them as they were getting root bound. I left two of them under the eaves on our patio and put the other two underneath our porch to dry out – along with the Lavender, Sage and Rosemary.

Palms

Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, Palms

This weekend, the sun came out, so I moved them into the sunshine to dry out, and gave the lavender a haircut

Lavender pruning

I kept some of the trimmings to use as cuttings for more lavender plants. Hopefully, in about 6 weeks, these should have taken root and will be ready for transplanting into the garden.

Our bulbs and garlic are starting to come up and there are buds on the trees. The evenings are starting to get noticeably lighter, so while it’s still pretty cold, February is shaping up to be quite cheerful.

Soon we’re planning on starting our vegetable seeds indoors and I’ve been gathering egg boxes for this purpose. However, yesterday I read that Basil harvests in 80 days! Yikes, that’s a long time! So I’ve decided to start these seeds this weekend so we can harvest in May or June instead of August. Tori filled two egg boxes with potting soil and brought them inside to warm up a bit. We’ll plant the Basil seeds tomorrow. The rest of the seeds can wait until mid-March or so.

While puttering around what is to be our new vegetable garden and planning where things will go, we came across this poor guy at the very back of one of the sheds (the one that will torn down soon)

As you can see, he’s lost his head and is looking a bit creepy. But Tori is going to glue his head back on and I plan to use him as part of a small water feature I’m going to make for our herb garden.

Yesterday, we came home from grocery shopping to find our Landlord and his dad putting up a shed in our back yard :). When it’s done, we plan to put our little deep freeze in there along with a few garden tools and such.

Next weekend, we have Neil for weekend. I’m so excited – there’s so much here for a toddler to do. I also booked my air ticket to visit Clare in Edmonton over Easter – so excited for that too.

Cheers

But First, Tequila