Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Around Here Savouring Summer....

No, dear friends, I did not croak. I am still here. Although I sometimes do feel a little wilted from the lovely h-o-t weather we're having. But we're lovin' it.
It was divine to sit out on our deck this early morning, sipping coffee in the quiet, relishing the air brush past like silk against our faces, watching Momma Sparrow feeding her little ones at the feeders. Open mouths, fluttering wings and Momma patiently stuffing in seeds to satisfy her hungry brood. Cheep cheep cheep...more, Mommy, more.
Then, it was wonderful to join the line ups at the local ice cream parlour this afternoon and, for our patience, savour the smooth coolness melting all the way down our throats so deliciously... so refreshingly.

And when a friend who went strawberry picking out in the country brought us our own pail of lush, sun-ripened berries....oh my goodness, their sweet fragrance filled the room when she brought them into the house. And soon my mouth was filled with fresh bursts of flavour.  Maybe I did die ... for that surely was a little taste of heaven.

Hugs and blisses,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Post From My Corner...

I've been waiting for some time to sit and write a proper blog post (whatever a 'proper' one looks like). I've got lots to talk about. But ....

Well, you know how it is, between enjoying the nice summer weather ... and I'm still working away on the after math of my painting jobs on my office and hubby's den ... I've been trying to be a good girl and stick to the task until the last paperclip is in its proper place.

It was high time for sorting and clearing out clutter on my computer and in my ever-present paper pile.  I'm also deliberating over books and blessing some so I can release them to new owners as I now have less bookshelves. I don't need to have every book on the planet on my own bookshelves...at least that's what hubby figures. I'm not so sure why we can't, how about you?

Consider this a blog post and we'll chat a wee bit. I took a few photos during the past couple minutes so you can see where I am ...

Here's what I'm sipping right now. The Butler just brought it up to me... a cool and foamy raspberry smoothie. We were given a choice -- raspberry or blueberry. You can see I chose raspberry. Yum, seeds and all!
So, what would you choose -- raspberry or blueberry?
Here's what I'm looking at right now. A little untidy. I love when things are in order and my desk looks like it ought to. But, in truth, it rarely does. It usually has some kind of pile alongside my keyboard... plus, the invariable password notebook for easy reference, and stashes of bits of paper with the newest quote or tip or ideas scribbled thereon.
A colleague I used to work with actually had the desk of my dreams. Organized with lots of wood-grain surface showing. A tidy in-box. A photo or objet d'art in one corner. And, all her projects, except the one she was working on, neatly tucked out of sight and, therefore, mind. Totally focused.
That's probably part of my problem. I am easily distracted by some shiny object and so I think I need it close by for inspiration... or for fiddling with when I'm practicing my procrastination techniques.
So, let me ask you... are you on the side of neat or the slightly messy when it comes to your workspace?

On my screen is a link to Youtube and I'm listening to a little light something by Alessandro Scarlatti. It makes one feel they should be sitting in a fine French garden with a parasol having tea with royalty. Of course, I do feel a little like royalty at this moment, what with having a butler and all bringing me refreshments...
Here's the question... would you be listening to music while you work? What would it be today as you sip your fruit smoothie handed to you ever so nicely by said Butler?
First the top of my desk, now you can see what I see when I walk into my little office these days. The beautiful antique-style desk I used to work on now lives in hubby's den. I insisted, because for ages he'd been using some makeshift surface for his computer. It was time he had something wonderful to sit at and enjoy. It's more suitable to his needs than mine at this stage.
I hauled this 'classic' kitchen table from the basement and found it's actually perfect. The right height to house my keyboard without my wrists or elbows complaining. My little corner with the table on an angle so I can gaze out into the garden, watch the birds, look at the clouds scudding by ... and if I stand up, I can discreetly peer into the neighbour's kitchen in the early spring before the trees bud, which we try not to do... not too often anyways. Once in a while I have seen the Lady of the House sitting at her kitchen table of a sunny morning reading her paper (while I'm watching the birds, you'll understand).

Notice the new colour I just painted? (you have to scroll back up to see) It's what I would call a soft buttery yellow, but the paint company names it 'whitefish'. I know, weird, I thought so too. No pictures on the wall yet, no draperies, and I've got the blind down today as it's h-o-t out there today (well, probably not your kind of hot, but here in northerly Alberta anything over +27 degrees C = 80 degrees F seems warm to me.)

And now, for the last photo of the day.  This is a photo I'm dreaming over right now.
It's a desk I saw in a recent Crate and Barrel catolog. Not my usual style choice, as I like vintage or English Country, but I am drawn to this Ebony modern piece. Actually its designer based it on an antique style of desk called a campaign desk which was used by officers and their staffs in rear areas during a military campaign in the wars of earlier centuries.  So maybe it's not so modern after all?

I might get two (they're small). I got the idea for two from some of the reviews I read online  -- so I'll use one for my computer and the other for a writing/research/art project space.
With the photo sitting on my said pile next to my keyboard the other day, I almost felt as if I was already sitting at it.  It was a bit of a surreal moment when I realized the stainless steel table legs were still standing alongside me and not the wooden ones.

 I'm going to stop here, wish you a beautiful rest of the day.
I hope you'll stop a moment to share your answers
to those questions I posed earlier.Nor not... as you wish!

Hugs to you all,

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Summertime Favourites: Eating

Sour Cream Potato Salad, (c) 2014 Brenda Leyland

Does potato salad feature in your favourite summertime celebrations?

I l-o-v-e potato salad. For me, it is one of those top summertime favourite foods. Come the first really warm day in the Springtime and we begin to hanker after potato salad. Fortunately, I also enjoy making it... chopping the potatoes, boiling the eggs, putting together the dressing and pouring it over the still warm potatoes.

I was amazed (in doing a little Google search) to see just how often potato salad plays a star role in childhood summer memories and family gatherings like picnics in the park or camping by the lake. My mom used to make a creamy dilled potato salad that I loved. Still do. It was often paired with her picnic baked chicken that often starred at our Sunday dinners at summer camp meeting.

Another recipe, Sour Cream Potato Salad, became an instant favourite many years later when a former work colleague, now dear friend, brought it once for a luncheon at the office. I was instantly smitten. I begged Sharon for the recipe which I have treasured...and used often...ever since.  

I think it's the dressing that makes it so special for me. I love the contrast of the sweet-tart from the vinegar-mustard-sugar combo, and the sour cream mixed with the mayo makes it light and creamy. Y-u-m!

Sour Cream Potato Salad

 Salad Dressing
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt (I use way less these days)
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix ingredients together.

4 hard boiled eggs

Separate cooked yolks from the whites. Mash yolks and add to the dressing. Chop the whites and add to the cooked potatoes, cucumbers and green onions.

3/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup chopped green onions
6 cups diced, cooked potatoes (a teeny bit firm to the bite, so they aren't mushy)

The secret of great flavour in this salad is to dice the potatoes raw and then cook in salted water. I use red potatoes. Drain. Add salad dressing while the potatoes are still warm; they absorb the flavour from the dressing. Serves 10 - 12 (or less if you like it a lot!)

Original graphics by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Here's wishing you lots of summertime bliss with the best people!


Friday, July 04, 2014

The Beautiful Matters

'Polish Spirit' Clematis -- photo from my garden in a previous summer

Deborah at The Beautiful Matters recently shared a posting that, upon my reading of it, made me feel almost as if I were listening to my own heartbeat... for her message so eloquently echo my own thoughts on the matter of beauty and its importance in our up-side-down world.

If you've ever wondered if it's frivolous to desire to live a beautiful life in a world fraught with so much pain and suffering, then I hope you will take a moment to read Deborah's post Why the Beautiful Matters. She opens her heart to us as she shares her thoughts about beauty being vital to our well-being both as individuals and in our society.

"In every (woman's) heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." ~ Christopher Morley

 Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,