Sunshine – Finally!, Fall Flowers & a Bear

Seeds

Hello Bloggy Friends and Family,

It finally stopped raining here, so I’m hoping my brussels sprouts will recover – they are looking very unhappy indeed. I took the opportunity to get outside and putter around. I harvested the rest of the tomatoes as it’s getting below 10 deg. C at night here – and then I pulled up the plants leaving our little vege garden looking a little bare

Fall Vegetable Garden

So I sat in the sun and enjoyed my drink and admired the nasturtiums. Found this lovely little pine leaf on the table

Autumn Fir

I didn’t really want to go inside on such a beautiful evening, so I wandered around the back and found these pretty little flowers blooming in the middle of all the dead leaves

Fall Flowers

and came across Mr. Spider making himself at home on one end of our deck. I left him there to eat all the mosquitoes and other bugs

Spider

The leaves on this shrub are turning purple

Fall leaves

And the seeds on this tree look like dragonflies – or butterflies, depending on the angle (come on! use your imagination – faeries?)

Seeds

My rose bush is still in bloom and there are more buds on the way

 

Rose bush

I was given this rose bush when it just a tiny little thing for Mother’s Day about 8 years ago. Since then, we’ve moved house with it 3 times, uprooted it from its pot into a flower bed and back into a pot, and it hasn’t skipped a beat. Last year, it developed Black Spot and I had to cut it right back and spray it with organic black spot killing stuff – but it survived to bloom another year.

Last Sunday we had a visitor for breakfast, helping himself to the apples in our back yard. Our apple tree is about 20 feet high (really). I guess it grew that way seeking the sun. So we don’t really harvest them. I mean, who’s going to climb up the tree? So, the wildlife are welcome to them

Black Bear

While he (or she) was in the process of trying to reach the apples, he (or she) broke a couple of branches and shook most of the apples to the ground. A couple of hours later he (or she) came back to finish them off

I’m sure they were very delicious. We’re off to Vancouver this weekend for an Anniversary party, so come back next week to see how that went.

 

thejaneeffect

 

Advertisements

An Evening With Friends, Another Wedding and Thanksgiving Dinner

HellOooo everyone. Well, it’s been a soggy Fall so far which is really disappointing. When I look back on photos from this time last year, it was beautiful sunshine, crisp Fall days and evenings around the fire pit with hot chocolate!

But, it warmed up the one weekend we went into Vancouver to do some shopping and visit friends. We stayed in a cabin at an RV Park in White Rock

Cabin at Hazelmere

and while Tori went to a meeting, I sat outside at the picnic table and ate my lunch, accompanied by one of the resident cats

lunch buddy

In the evening, we joined friends at a local pub for a birthday party and what fun it was. Lots of laughter and Tequila!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in South Africa, another niece got married. What a beautiful bride she makes – brings tears to my eyes.

Last week began my transition to a new position within my company. I moved over to the Freight Forwarding division, and hit the ground running. Previously, I was arranging the deliveries of containers to our customers which, if am honest, was a little boring. I became a Logistics Coordinator 15 years ago and loved it from the day I started, so I’m really happy to be back in that field again.

Our tomatoes were not ripening on the vine, so I harvested them all and put them in box with an apple in it. Many fruits, including tomatoes and apples produce ethylene gas, which accelerates ripening. Apples produce more ethylene gas than most, so placing them near any other fruit will ripen it faster. It’s working …

I took out the ripened ones and left the others. If the green ones don’t ripen in the next week or so, I’m going to see if I can find a recipe for tomato chutney or something like that. Any suggestions you can give me are welcome. 🙂

While we’re on the subject of our garden, it’s doing okaaay, but not very happy with all the rain, so I’m not too sure if everything’s going to survive. The brussels sprouts are growing – slowly

as are the chard and lettuce. I’ve harvest the chard leaves 3 or 4 times to add to various dishes

A couple of weeks ago, we planted garlic

and covered it with a layer of hay (given to us by our neighbour)

So the plan is to have a lovely crop of garlic by next Summer. It looks like we’re going to get a run of sunshine next week which will allow me to get into the garden and clean it up a little – pull up the tomato plants and harvest the rest of the herbs. Let’s hope the brussels sprouts and butter lettuce perk up a little.

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving and we invited a friend to join us for dinner last night. I haven’t entertained properly for quite a long time and I love doing it, so this was my re-entry back into it again. Instead of having a roast turkey, I made stuffed, roasted turkey breast and, for dessert, Apple Crumble. It took all afternoon to prepare, starting with prepping the vegetables – yes, those are brussels sprouts on the right. I fry them with bacon, garlic and onions. If I don’t, nobody will eat them. But they are much yummier this way. Everyone went up for seconds which warms my heart.

and the apples

Apples

And then I could concentrate on the turkey breast using, among other things, herbs from our garden for the stuffing

Stuffed Roast Turkey Breast

and decorating the table, starting with a beautiful runner from Africa

And building it from there. The leaves, plates and wine glasses are from the Dollar Store (I’m a bit of a clutz and broke all our expensive wine glasses!) and I bought the napkins on a whim at the grocery store on Saturday. The candle stick holders were a thrift store find a few years ago for a couple of dollars each.

No dinner prep is complete without a cheeky drink (or two)

Dinner was a success, considering it was the first time I’d made turkey that way

Yummm.

The day ended with this beautiful Sunshine Coast sunset taken by a friend.

See you all soon.

 

But First, Tequila

 

 

A Trip to Edmonton, The Longest Short Week & Fall

My life did not go smoothly this past week. I got back from Edmonton on Labour Day (more about that later) and spent the rest of the week catching up on grocery shopping and laundry. Most mornings, I slopped coffee all over the floor, and dropped everything I touched and my favourite coffee mug finally gave up the ghost :(. Finally on Friday night, I decided to take the night off – I poured myself and glass of wine (or two …), put some music on and had a little party all by myself (Tori was working late). He brought home flowers – probably to avoid the drunken tirade of him being late home (it worked)

The next morning, I woke up to what looked like a week’s worth of dishes. I mean, you take one day off, just one day, and all hell breaks loose! After filling the sink up for the fourth time that morning, I promised myself to save up for a dishwasher.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. While we were in Vancouver in July, we were talking to a couple that we’ve known for a while, only to learn that they live on the Sunshine Coast! I was elated! It’s hard to meet new people in this small community. They mentioned they were having a barbecue at their house soon and we were invited. This is the result of that, er, barbecue

Barbecue

There were more photos, but this one was the only “clear one.” It was an amazing evening with excellent food and excellent company.

Not long after that, I hopped on the plane to visit Clare, Alex and, of course, Neil.

Edmonton

Edmonton gets a bad rap most of the time. It’s an incredibly vibrant city in the summer. On the Saturday morning, we went to the Farmer’s Market where we sampled all the various delicious food, and bought some too. Neil acquired a frog along the way

Frog

And in the afternoon, we wandered around Whyte Avenue and the surrounding area. The buildings are lovely old brick and lots of artwork. We came across this mural by Spanish artist Okua San Miguel. It’s 6 stories high! I think I read that it took 6 months to complete.

The surrounding buildings were also painted by different artists

That night Mat, Clare & Alex took me to a restaurant on Whyte Avenue called Meat. Fall-off-the-bone to die for

and, of course, dessert

The next day, we went to the beautiful Fairmont Hotel for High Tea

Fairmont Hotel

While we waited to be seated, we went out onto the balcony and took in the view

Once inside, we eyed the teapots and cups in anticipation for our tea noting the cream and jam in readiness for our scones – I luuurve scones – and these were incredible – light and melt-in-your-mouth – just like my granny used to make. When I was growing up, we used to wake up to the smell of baking scones on a Sunday morning, and when we sat down to breakfast they were warm and delicious! Such a treat.

After stuffing our faces with delicate apricot gelato served in a margarita glass, followed by said amazing scones, this appeared on our table

and as if that wasn’t enough, I was presented with this (it’s my birthday next week)

What an amazing weekend it was!

I finally managed to wrangle my house into some sort of semblance of order and am able to do more pleasurable things – like drink wine and write this Blog.

Our vegetable garden is far from over. We harvested the potatoes and the onions, the beans and the peas and are waiting for our tomatoes to ripen. They seem to grow bigger and bigger by the day. We also planted butter lettuce, brussels sprouts (for our Christmas dinner) and garlic. Love.

I hope it’ll be shorter than a month before I post again. Until then…

Cheers

But First, Tequila

 

Edmonton Trip

Pantry organization

Vegetable garden.

Stay-cation at the Beach, Friends & a Wicker Chair

Hello. How are you all? All well here. I took a week off last week but decided not to go anywhere because where I live is a permanent vacation. We’ve been living on the beautiful Sunshine Coast for just under a year, but haven’t had much time to explore due to having to work – quite annoying. After I’d got over the need to declutter and organize everything, I spent my week off going to the beach

Beach toes

Catching up on my reading

Porpoise Bay

watching canoes drift by

napping every afternoon and generally relaxing. It was bliss.

Our vegetable garden has given us lovely beans and peas for the last 3 weeks.  Home-grown vegetables are a taste that I just cannot describe, but it makes me hope I never have to go back to store-bought vegetables again. Next year when we move our little temporary garden to a more permanent site, we’ll grow enough to freeze and eat all year round. In the meantime, we’re enjoying eating what we grow so much

We planted Broccoli and Swiss Chard to eat in the Fall and at the end of the month we’ll plant Brussels Sprouts and Garlic.

In between all this napping and relaxing at the beach,  Lauren (my niece) and Simon got married in a lovely civil service in London. They’ll be flying to South Africa for a small wedding with the family.

I lucked out at a flea market and found a white wicker love seat that I’ve been looking to get my hands on for so many years I’ve lost count. Isn’t she lovely?

It was scorchingly (is that a word?) hot and humid here and I spent many happy hours in this lovely, shady spot reading.

I ended off my little staycation with a barbecue/party on Saturday night

and a visit from friends and a bike ride on Sunday

Just before our ride, a visit to the beach

Talk to you soon

 

But First, Tequila

 

Dog Days of Summer, a Barbecue and Stunning Sun Sets

Dog Days of Summer

Summer is in full swing and it is hot, hot hot! Not that I’m complaining – this is my kind of weather.  I am, however, thankful now that we live in a forest surrounded (mostly) by trees that provide cooling shade from the hot sun. We have the best of both worlds – in the front we get full sun most of the day, and so our vegetable garden and sun-loving plants live there, and in the back, half of our patio is in shade and the other half is in the sun. So we can choose.

Speaking of vegetables – our temporary garden is thriving

and we have the beginning of peas and beans

To read more about our garden, click here.

We bought a humming bird feeder a couple of weeks ago and have two humming birds that drink from it almost constantly. Unfortunately, they move too fast and are too small for me to get a photo of them, but they are comical little birds and not afraid of us at all.  When we’re sitting outside in the evenings, they come right up to us and hover in the air, checking us out. I wish they ate mosquitoes instead of nectar!

Tori’s been taking the dogs to the beach most days this week so they can cool down. Tiki loves the water, but the little dog has to be coaxed a little bit. In the end, they’re happy to feel a bit cooler. We live in a holiday town, so it’s teeming with tourists at the moment, which makes life, er, interesting. One very large family drove their enormous motor home down the narrow road leading to Cooper’s Green beach and then couldn’t figure out how to turn it around to get back out again. This after taking, what seemed like endless, posed photos of every family member taking turns to sit on the same log. It was painful to watch.

 

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, little Neil is having a wonderful time at the park

Neil at the park

and the petting zoo

I can’t believe he’ll be 3 soon. I’ve booked my ticket to visit at the end of August – I can’t wait! We’ll be celebrating 4 birthdays and some family time. A bit of sad news – Alex and Na-mee are splitting up after 7 years. Sad, but part of life, I guess. I think it’s very stressful and difficult for a young couple to support a family these days and I think the pressure just became too much for them.

Last weekend saw us back in Vancouver at a barbecue. It was lovely to see all our friends again. There was much laughter and the Tequila was flowing. It seems everybody brings a bottle lately. Where it used to be one or two, it’s now four or five!

The next morning was not a good one for Tori, who seemed to consume the most tequila :D. After only 6 hours’ sleep, he had to get on his (very loud) bike, ride an hour to Horseshoe Bay and get on a ferry for 40 minutes.  It was very amusing to watch, to say the least.

All in all, he survived to live another week. After supper last night we sat on the beach with our drinks and watched the sun set over the water. It was very picturesque with small boats dotted around the bay and a lone sea gull scrounging for tidbits.

Paradise. I’m so grateful to have found this place.

 

But First, Tequila

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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