Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Journal Jottings

It's hard to believe we're here enjoying the last day of September. Already. But what a perfect day it's been. The weather is like something straight out of paradise with most every tree, shrub, and flower now brushed from autumn's paintbox. The garden outside my window is alive with bird song and the air is fragrant with that earthy mix of dried leaves and moist soil -- grass seeds are being watered down in a bare patch. The air feels silky against the face while wisps of clouds float along as if they had all the time in the world.

As I thought about what to post on this last day of the month, I know some bloggers, like Cheryl, create a photo wrap-up of the month's events and moments. And, Emily posts about the things she learned during the month -- she has a link-up too. Both have wonderful ideas for 'gathering the moments'....


Thumbing through my journal, where I write most days, I realized I wanted to gather a few jottings together and offer you a little glimpse of some things I was thinking about -- a few quotes, notes, and gentle reminders that have been a touchstone in some way for me during the month of September.

 1. journal note to self

 2. the quote

"There was another life I might have had,
but I am having this one."
~ Kazuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes

I've been re-writing this quote in my journal every few days so I don't forget it. Oh my ... this has been such a freeing thought ever since I first read it earlier this month. No matter how settled we think we are in our own skin, I still find times when I'm not.  And then, how we can lament those lost opportunities or the forks in the road where we wonder how our lives might have been if we'd only taken the other road. They might not even be about the huge decisions of life, but those smaller ones that we mutter and re-mutter the 'what if' questions to ourselves -- not to mention, to any willing pair of ears, until we all want to #barf.

Of course, our lives would have turned out differently, if we'd made different choices and had different opportunities. But we don't know if they would have been better or not. I don't know about you, but I'm totally ready to acknowledge and accept that, and to truly let go and relax into the shoes I call my own. And forget about the what if's already! I'm in the right place at the right time for the life I'm having right now. Good, not so good, and just plain ordinary. So no more letting those nebulous unidentified feelings keeping me wondering. Chances are, as my wise sister is wont to remind the both of us on occasion, in many cases we would still do the same things and make the same choices, given the same circumstances.

Yes, there is another life I might have had, but I am having this one. And it is good. Don't you just love that?

3. facebook messaged


Jennifer and I worked together a long time ago ... she is one of those beautiful women with a heart of gold, not to mention a ready laugh and sharp wit. She has been as a pen in God's hand on more than one occasion to me with her rare, but all the more treasured, messages of encouragement and grace. They seem to appear out of the blue just when I need them. So, you can well understand why this note was transcribed from my Facebook page into my journal (for safe keeping).

4. wish I had the words

"Lord of the universe,
how I wish I had the words to
fashion beautiful prayers to praise Thee!
But, alas, I cannot find the words.
So listen to me, O God, as I recite
the letters of the alphabet. You know
what I think and how I feel.
Take these letters of the alphabet
and You form the words that express
the yearning, the love for Thee
in my heart." ~ Unknown


  5. playing with my pen

  -- I love drawing swooshy skirts! Must be the 'Queen' on the inside. Love dresses from the 1950s. Maybe there's this urge to sketch such outfits because, as a girl I longed to be grown up so I could wear those feminine, swirly dresses and skirts, but fashion changed before I grew up and I missed out. Always felt cheated with the fashions of the 1960's.

7. mulling these words I wrote down

 "I awake each morning torn between desires to save the world
and a desire to savor the world."
~ E.B. White

Oh good, I'm not the only one. Haven't quite figured the balance of that but listening to the Still, Small Voice -- those nudges and hunches -- will help us make choices moment by moment. For we need to do and have both the saving and the savoring in our lives.


"When life has difficult times,
fight back with normal life."
~ Unknown

Simple things like preparing a a meal, eating it with loved ones, washing up dishes in a sink of sudsy water, bathing the baby, and taking the dog for a walk ... it's what gives stability to our ofttimes shaky world. I want to recommend one of my favourite books to read: the memoir Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini. It is a perfect read on this very theme -- her story shows so eloquently that daily routines can be comforting and that there is a sustaining power of food and love in the midst of hardship.


"Wherever you are, be all there!"
~ Jim Elliot, Martyr in Ecuador

Yes, yes, that's the secret, Mr. Elliot. Present in the moment. Living it right now and not pining for something else, somewhere else.

8. remembering the harvest moon

Wasn't that moon s-p-e-c-t-a-c-u-l-a-r ? Really, there aren't any words for it. Although I didn't get any great shots, I've been privy to some splendorous photography of that moon. So beautiful as to take your breath away. I'm so grateful to everyone who's been sharing online. What a feast for the eyes and soul!

Thinking of such a harvest moon now reminds me of Neil Young's song. Come a little bit closer...

It's a wrap -- it's been a happy September!
I'm linking up this week at Little Things Thursday.

Sending hugs to you,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Leafy Post

It never gets old, does it? This leafy autumn art show. Every year, trees blaze into season's russets, golds and bronzes, and every year we marvel as if we've never seen such a thing of beauty before. I'm glad. Indeed, it is new and we've never seen this particular grand show. I never want to grow old in my heart and find myself weary of such treasures of nature.

We look up, we bend near, and peer deep ... always looking for those glimpses that make our souls throb for joy at yet another sighting of autumn's glory. Glimpses in a tree, a pond, a leafy river valley, even scattered light on fallen leaves on a man-made path.

"Sense of beauty is the
gift of God, for which
those who have received
it in good measure, can
never be thankful enough."
♥ Gertrude Jekyll

Here's wishing you a beautiful leafy day,

Today I'm joining Judith at Monday Mosaic

Friday, September 25, 2015

Five Desserts We Enjoyed This Summer


Today as I'm linking up with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday, I decided to share photos of five desserts I enjoyed this past summer. 

In truth these past few months I had more than my fair share of delicious desserts. Some were made in my own kitchen -- fruit cobblers, lemon loaves, gingersnaps, pineapple cake with vanilla sauce, ice cream with hot fudge and pecans -- while others were enjoyed elsewhere.

While we were in BC,  we had the fun of having lunch at Government House in Victoria, BC one afternoon after we toured a lovely garden. Warm and sunny out, there was an excitement in the air around the beautiful grounds as there was a big tea party going on to mark the day Queen Elizabeth II became Britain's longest-reigning monarch. The 89-year-old monarch surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years and 216 days.

Although we weren't part of that particular festivity, we enjoyed a pleasant lunch, after which hubby and I shared this delectable carrot cake topped with cream cheese icing and decorated with fresh fruit, including one round orange persimmon tucked under its parchment-like leaves. It all looked so pretty, we hated to dig in. But we bravely took forks in hand and slowly savoured every bite... without shame or guilt.  Paired with a black Ceylon tea, the combo was tea party p-e-r-f-e-c-t.

"Vegetables are a must on a diet.
I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie."
~ Jim Davis

"Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty."
~ Lora Brody

While we were in BC, we had the happy opportunity to celebrate a great-nephew's 12th birthday. His dad, being the head chef in a popular restaurant in Chilliwack, made us the most exquisite chocolate mousse cake I've ever had the privilege of sinking my teeth into. With a hint of raspberry coulis on the side -- you know how lovely chocolate and raspberry go together -- it was m-m-m good.

"Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It's all about the memories." ~ Buddy Valastro

Earlier this summer, we had the very happy privilege to gather with loved ones to celebrate my dear mom's 80th's birthday. My dear niece made and decorated this exquisite cake ... moist white vanilla cake layered with chocolate ganache ... it was a cake most elegant for celebrating such a grand birthday.

"A party without cake is just a meeting."
~ Julia Child

 Along with the cake, my niece made these toothsome cupcakes. Of course, I had to try one of those too, but I did have the 'wisdom' to wait until the next day. A little dessert seems too little, but we all know what we feel like when it's too much -- I didn't want to spoil the effect. 

We end our collection of five with this summer favourite, for who doesn't love a dessert of fresh rhubarb, oatmeal, sugar and cinnamon (with just a hint of clove) ... hot from the oven on a cool summer's evening. Topped with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream, it's not fancy but it sure is homey, comforting, and sooo satisfying. I love it when the ice cream melts into the warm fruit.

"You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,' [Chef Bugnard] said. 'Even after you eat it, it stays with you - always." ~ Julia Child, My Life in France

Wishing sweets to the sweet,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

More Vacation Memories: Visits To The Bookstores

One of my favourite treats on any holiday (well, any time really) is to snoop out the used bookstores in town and while away a blissful hour or two browsing bulging shelves. 

Beacon Books, Sydney BC
“Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace.” ~ Helen Hanff, Q's Legacy

Victoria and Sydney, BC, both have wonderful new and used bookshops with treasures galore. Although this trip didn't have as much time available as we might have liked, we did manage to squeeze in a brief but happy hour at Beacon Books in Sydney before boarding the ferry back to the mainland.

Beacon Books is described as a general bookstore of secondhand books with thousands of good used books covering categories like the Arts, Classics & Literature, General Fiction, Nature, Travel, Nautical, Music, Reference, Canadiana, Self-Help, and the Sciences. Includes Modern First Editions and Authors Signed editions, and collectible, rare, and antiquarian books.

The good news is that if you can't get there in person, their inventory is available online through I've ordered books this way and have always been satisfied with their great service.

Hubby on the snoop

I'm grateful that hubby gets almost as much pleasure in a bookshop as I do, and so we each go our separate ways, down the aisles to our favourite sections, promising to meet back at the front of the store when we're done. Which means I have to carry my own armful of possibilities. And, we do set a time limit ... or we might miss lunch or in this case our ferry.

One author I went in search of was Kazuo Ishiguro, author of Remains of the Day, which is also a movie starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins. I loved the movie, read the book over summer, and now I wanted to find more of his work. Here's a quote from the book -- which happens to fit the theme of today's post....

“If I'm alone at home, I get increasingly restless, bothered by the idea that I'm missing some crucial encounter out there somewhere. But if I'm left by myself in someone else's place, I often find myself a nice sense of peace engulfing me. I love sinking into an unfamiliar sofa with whatever book happens to be lying nearby.” ~ Kazuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall 

Hahaha ... loved discovering this photo of Tom and Mary in Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey.  Do you see what I see? Hint:  What's that Mary's holding?

I actually found the book for $5.00 at a Winners in Chilliwack -- as SIL hunted for a birthday present I found this treasure amongst a pile of junky sale items. Woo-hoo! Surely, it will help while away the hours and weeks till the first episode airs here in North America come January.

It's airing in Britain now ... I found a teaser article you might want to read by Nick Briggs in The Telegraph (UK).


Sorry, the above photo is awful, I snapped it quickly as I didn't want to get 'caught'. But I found wonderful photos of the interior on their website, so you'll be able to get a good idea why I felt like swooning when I walked in the front door. Click here

By the time we arrived at this store, time was of the essence -- we only had about 10 minutes at Tanner's Books. (Ferries don't wait for book browsers.) Not a used book store, it calls itself a bookstore and more, with the largest newstand on Vancouver Island with magazines and newspapers from Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. Stocking over 2000 magazines to meet every possible topic and interest, it was Magazine Heaven, never mind everything else they offered!

You mean, in our online, social media kind of world, where digital reading is prominent, there is still such a haven with print magazines for people, like us, who still love to hold magazines and books in our hands? W-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l !

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.” ~ Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I breathed a quick prayer as to what I should choose. I mean, there just wasn't time to even glance at more than a couple dozen of those colourful covers. One magazine jumped out -- fairly new on the market and certainly new to me. Called Bella Grace by, the front cover sold me, and all 160 ensuing pages are filled with imaginative stories and articles, photographs, creative sayings, and ideas for making life's journey more beautiful. Right up my alley!  To see some excerpts from this issue, click here.

At Bella Grace, they believe that:
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • An ordinary life can be an extraordinary life.
  • There is beauty and magic to be found everywhere.
  • It's OK to embrace imperfection.
  • Life should be lived with a full heart and open eyes.

There, 'nuff said for one post ... I had great fun working on this one with you in mind!

Wishing you a beautiful, bookish kind of day,


Monday, September 21, 2015

A Walk By The Ocean

"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea."  ~ e.e. cummings
We're back from our holiday to BC and we're still reveling in the memories we made. Visiting family, spending time by the ocean near Victoria and Sooke on Vancouver Island, taking in a garden tour or two, eating some great food, and just plain hanging out marveling at the scenery in this beautiful part of the country. The weather was great and a wonderful time was had by all.

Today's blog post feature is a mosaic of the walk we took by the ocean one Sunday afternoon. We climbed over huge boulders. Got sand between our toes. Smelled the salty air and heard the exhilarating squall of gulls.

"A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean." Henry Grunwald 

We gathered tiny stones tossed silky smooth from the sea. Hubby 'complained' he was listing to the left from all the rocks I piled into his pockets. Picked a couple pretty pieces for my desk (to touch as I think about what next to write) ... and chose a few to share with others too, as I know someone particularly who is homesick for the ocean side.

A glimpse of the sea, even in a tiny rock, can hopefully refresh a heart during for those times when she can't be there in person. Yesterday as I unpacked the bag with the rocks,  I caught a barely-there whiff of sea air. It was so fast, I wasn't sure ... did I just imagine it?

Then there was the ga-lumphy gray seal sunning himself on the sandy beach. He didn't seem to care people were around. I walked a little closer to him -- carefully -- and for a brief second we stared into each other's eyes. I hoped he wasn't ill because he was so docile, but a fellow on the beach, who seemed to be in the know seal-wise, figured it was probably a juvenile in moulting season. (Would that be right?) I didn't know seals did that, did you? It was a fine moment in nature to be that near.

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea. ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone. ~ Anonymous

And so, beautiful friends, there's a glimpse of our ocean walk ... which I hope will make you feel like you've felt and smelt it too. Today I'm linking with Judith on Mosaic Monday.

 Wishing you a beautiful day,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Garden Visit

Sunday morning and in a little while we're heading to the ocean for a walk along the beach. It's our last day on the island visiting family. Yesterday we dedicated the day to garden touring and tea at Government House. Today we just have to set our face toward the salty sea breezes, our toes swiggling in some sand, and listening for gulls sss-calling over the water's edge as they swirl higher and higher on the thermals. Lorrie, I was really hoping for a chance to connect with you but it didn't work this trip -- next time for sure.

I wanted to post some pics from the Abkhazi Garden but I haven't learned the technique of easily downloading them from my phone to my ipad. It's such a lovely place to visit no matter the time of year. The showy seasons of spring and summer long gone now pave the way for softer, calmer poses of trees and shrubs still green but creating the ambiance for autumn colours. Patches of cyclamen are popping out in shady nooks all over the place.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Visiting Victoria

Visited a plant nursery yesterday
Fall planting includes pansies here in Victoria, BC

Good Morning Beautiful Friends,

Today I'm posting from the beautiful city of Victoria, British Columbia. I'm at my SIL's teak dining room table trying to create a post and download photos on my iPad -- a new venture for me! I usually post fromy desktop. 

We've breakfasted on grain toast slathered with butter and homemade lavender jelly. Oooo...yum! And in a little while we're heading out to visit the local

I'll come back and share photos...

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Monday, September 07, 2015

Blueberry Fruit Cobbler

This is one of the simplest cobbler recipes I've ever used. It also makes one of the loveliest cobblers I've ever tasted. And, it's because this recipe doesn't use a biscuit dough, i.e. where you cut the butter into the flour and make it crumbly. You see, I have never cared for biscuit crust cobblers.

In this version, the butter is put in the baking dish and melted in the oven. So when the smooth batter gets poured over the hot butter, it puffs up and creates a lovely crunchy edge when it's baked. You can see that in the photos. It reminds me a little of the way a Dutch Pancake puffs.

It can be served warm or room temperature with a dollop of yogurt or vanilla ice cream. And, if you put the left-overs (should there be such a thing) in the refrigerator, the next day it tastes just as wonderful cold. I've used this recipe to make a peach cobbler. Oh yes, that was yum too.

I found this recipe on and it's called Easy Batter Fruit Cobbler. Instead of using an 8- or 9-inch pan as suggested in the recipe, I baked it in a glass pie plate. You can find this delicious recipe by clicking here.

Today I'm joining Judith at Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday.

Wishing you a beautiful Labour Day Monday,

Sunday, September 06, 2015

An Irish Blessing

Today I offer the words of this Irish blessing... along with the link to a post I shared several years ago called Words For Life and Wellness. I felt drawn to post it again. I needed the words, perhaps you do too.

“May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you, and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.”

This is my heart wish for you today, dear beautiful friends.
With a gentle kiss atop thy head,

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

With A Turn of the Calendar

And here it is September. We're three quarters into the year and to me it seems like we should still be in Spring or at least early June. I'm usually quite good at living in the present moment... and I did revel in the beauty of so many juicy joy-filled moments of my summer. Yet, I still feel like the days whipped past in a whirlwind, and I wonder if I actually fell asleep and missed the last month or so -- like old Rip Van Winkle.

The ruby red apple in the photo above is sitting on my counter. Nothing says autumn quite like the arrival of fresh, fragrant batches of apples in a grocery store or marketplace. And, then when you bite into the crunchy, crisp skin, there's that sweet juice dribbling down your chin and you feel like a kid again. For who of us of a certain age didn't have an apple rolling around in a little tin lunch kit (mine was patterned in red and black plaid) when we started first or second grade.

So, what else did you find in your lunchbox? I remember Grade Four very well for that was the year I wouldn't eat anything but tuna fish sandwiches. All year. Every day. I couldn't get enough. My poor mother was gagging already as she put together one more sandwich and wrapped it in waxed paper and tucked it next to the apple and a couple of cookies. She'd ask every morning, are you sure you want tuna again? Yup, I want a tuna sandwich. It would have been on homemade white bread. Yum!

And... did you take some of that wax paper with those little toothy edges and iron brightly coloured leaves between two sheets to hang in your classroom or on the kitchen window? Were you permitted to press the waxy pages together with the hot iron? Or did your mom do it? Did you love the smell of the wax as it melted? I sure did.

And... what about that first week of school when you wanted to take something for your new teacher and your mom would wrap a fistful of pointy petaled dahlias to take on the school bus, and you'd shyly, but proudly, present them to her when you got to school.
Sitting in the front row in my blue jumper with my Grade Two Class

All this talk of school days and I had to go find my old pictures. Here's my Grade Two Class. Staring into the faces of my old familiar classmates, I still remember everyone's names. And such a flood of memories of those wonderful, simpler times in the early 1960's.

I can even tell you which boy I really, really liked... he's standing on the end of the last row, on right side. He tried to give me a kiss once on the playground. Everyone else had already gone inside, the bell had rung, and we were trailing behind. I didn't realize what he intended. I was surprised and moved my head. So the kiss met empty air instead of my cheek.You know, I forever regretted not getting that kiss. I wonder if he ever did.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ~Albert Einstein

There... enough telling tales out of class. And all because we turned the page on the calendar. Here's wishing you a beautiful day and a wonderful September ahead!