Hello from Sunday night

Hello everyone, exciting things are happening here. :)

So much has happened this week and I have so much to tell you!

Robert and I cooked up a surprise for Clove several months ago.

garden

R planned to be in Canada for the spring and we kept the date secret. He flew in on Wed afternoon, just when C was in a class, and I went to the airport to pick him up.

We knew that by the time we got back form the airport, C would have been home already, so I dropped R off a block away and walked in to the house, gave Chloe some flowers to put in the vase and excused myself to the washroom.

In the meantime, R walked to the door and rang the bell.

And C had to go answer the door!!! :D Oh hugs and tears and disbelief! We pulled it off! It’s so hard to pull one over on C. We had a blast. :D

robbie

I came home from Mexico to lovely good news.

My seedlings for the Art in the Garden early display are doing very well.

IMG_6382 copy copy

And I’ve been selected as one of the artists to show my work. Hooray! I’m so happy.
But now I have to get painting.

IMG_6383 copy copy

The weather has been good enough that we’ve had our first lunch alfresco.

027 copy copy

And Morgan’s been bothering the chickadees and finches in the garden. I guess I should say that they’ve been bothering her with their singing and displaying.

030 copy copy

We’ve been cleaning out the garage to ready it for a studio space of sorts, and attacked the second work bench with my stamps and pens.

I love family projects. Everyone has so many fantastic ideas.

038 copy copy
042 copy copy

I have a limited amount of stamps but they’re good stamps, and sharpies were used to write out our favourite sayings, someone found all sorts of glitter stuff, and the Bonjour fish made a reappearance in several spots.

bench work

One other thing we did this week is finally get my father’s vintage Raleigh 20 bike tuned up.
He bought this bike in the early 1970s. Anyone remember the oil crisis of 1973? Well, my father decided he could cycle to the hospital and his practice if the worst came to the worst, and still tend to his patients.

Anyway, the worst never did come to the worst and this little bike stayed in the basement untouched and unridden till mom gave it to C. She washed and polished it, R pumped up the tires, WD40′ed the chain, and adjusted the seat, and that was that.

025 copy copy

That’s one happy girl.

bike

Speaking of happy girl…

IMG_6337 copy copy

Clove sends you this little clip. It’s of the most ridiculous porcupine, and is sure to make you happy.

Sharing with Mary for Mosaic Mondays, with Dwellings, and with Create With Joy. :D

047 copy copy

Hello from Sunday night

Hi everyone.
How’s the melt going round the old globe?

Yesterday we were at Whole Foods for a little late lunch, in the absolute pouring rain, and I think all of Vancouver freaked out and went shopping. Isn’t that the way of rainy March Saturdays? :D We sat inside, (after a ten minute wait for a table to become available), and I looked outside at the indomitable Vancouverite spirit. You know that Vancouverites don’t carry umbrellas and do sit outside in all kinds of weather? It’s true Magoo. I got to thinking that it’s high time I planted my seeds for an early showing, (for the Art in the Garden show). High time I put up my little greenhouse too, but who wants to do that in this wretched weather?

greenhouses

Then, this morning, what’s that I feel on my cheeks? SUN!!! Oh, oh, are we all on standby for spring? :D

001 copy copy

I walked around the garden and there was wonderful birdsong, so I hung up the little ball full of sheep’s wool, to feather their nests, and look who I found in the lawn crocuses. (Yes I do use the term “lawn” liberally, and generally mean that anything growing there, which is mostly green and gets mowed, equals lawn.)

birds and bees

So into my garage and over to the potting bench, I tipped a bag full of seed started compost into my potting bucket and filled up the little seed pots.

IMG_6118 copy copy

In anticipation of a predicted break in the weather, I soaked some sweet pea, mange tout peas, runner beans and morning glory seeds over night. It’s always a good idea to soak these seeds and also to scarify them. You should have seen me the other night with the sweet pea seeds and a pair of nail clippers trying to nick the little round things. I was ever so careful to nick each one and keep the dark purple sweet peas separate from the white ones, (because both kinds look brown), and, just as I finished and stood up, I tipped the containers and overcompensated for the tip, spilling the peas all over the living room floor, mixing up the colours. You have to laugh…what am I like. :D

IMG_6120 copy copy

IMG_6121 copy copy

IMG_6132 copy copy

So as I was planting the seeds I spied Chloe at the little bistro table having a cup of tea. I asked her if she would be happy to plant out some lettuce seeds in the cold frame.

garden

She said she would be happy to and got the package and read the directions…

seeds

But then Morgan the Garden Inspector had to make sure the soil was suitable for the lettuce.

IMG_6129 copy copy

IMG_6131 copy copy

I finished putting together my little greenhouse and put my seed trays in it. I gave them a mist of water and zipped them up for the night.

greenhouse

In other weekend news, I finished my bench and established a little silversmithing studio on one side, (the sunny side). I bought some basic supplies and raided my late father’s tools for some more. Mom gave me an old red tool box with a bit of a rusted out bottom, but nevermind that, a bit of cardboard and felt fixed that right up. I love how clean and red it became after I washed the grime off. I also bought a little silver and some cabochon jewels, and put them into my grandmother’s jewellery box. And my ginger jar lamp, which Kerstie rescued for me from the thrift store, this little lamp which everyone loves to hate, but I love to love, has finally found the perfect home.

silversmithing studio

Adding to that a tall, comfy stool, also rescued. I loved this stool because it’s heavy oak with lovely brass details and brass foot rests. Now that stool has found a permanent place in my home too.

033 copy copy

Well, that’s about it from the weekend. It’s been such a busy week; I hope this next week is a bit easier.

I’m getting so excited about spring.

Sharing with Mary at Mosaic Monday and Sunlit Sunday, Inspire me Monday and Dwellings.

IMG_6133 copy copy

You know how you take a decision one day…

…and the next day think, “WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!”

Yup I’ve got that feeling.

Yesterday I signed my garden up for an Art in the Garden event.

garden

This is a local event where artists and gardeners come together for one weekend, this year May 31st and June 1st. Musicians preform in the garden, artists show their goods and gardeners open their private gardens for the event.
So far I’ve only applied the garden but also plan to apply for my art.

007 copy copy
009 copy copy

Today the sun came out and made the most beautiful silver linings and Chloe took her studies into the living room and is moving the chair around following the sun. So I decided I should probably take stock of the state of the garden…especially if I’m going to have an open garden tour. (Gulp)

021 copy copy

019 copy copy

It’s hard to imagine that my garden could look lush and green and fragrant with blossoms…ever!

So I got out some of my favourite gardening books from my bookshelves and had a good look.

015 copy copy

The Art of Gardening in Pots by Elisabeth Lestrieux is my most favourite “garden porn” book in the world! I couldn’t get it in Canada and I really wanted it, (this was years before Amazon delivered everywhere), and so my poor parents tracked it down in England and brought it to me. Ok, my garden will never look like any of the beautiful photos in that book!

013 copy copy

Next I looked at Chihuly at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, by RBG Kew. Then I decided that maybe what I really need is a load of fabulous Chihuly glass all over the garden…lol. Not practical you say? Yeah, if I had the million to buy the glass I’d redo this whole garden instead.

017 copy copy

So I picked up my good old stand by Martha Stewart Gardening. Say what you will, this book saved my sanity when I was confined to bed for the last trimester of my last pregnancy and I’ll always have a great big squishy spot in my heart for MS.
So now we’re talking doable. That book, plus my other two favourites: The Ornamental Kitchen Garden by the late, great gardener Geoff Hamilton, plus Creating Small Formal Gardens by Roy Strong and I’m set for some serious garden thinking.

Spoke to Robbie this afternoon Van/evening UK, and complained about the state of the garden and questioned what I had done and he said, “Oi, stop being a Joan Collins! … Miss Diva!”

Ok, lol, settling down now! :D

Random for Friday

On this rainy, soggy (and for a lot of you, dreadfully cold and snowy) Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d give you some beautiful “garden porn” photos to warm your spring-loving hearts. (And, much less fattening than chocolate)

Last year, my cimbidium orchid bloomed like crazy and I was so proud of myself, (although, to tell the truth, I completely ignored it outside for most of the year), and this year, nothing. No blooms, no spiky promise of flowers…nada. And I ignored it just like last year. What gives?

hobbs 1

I want these containers, and loads of polished little pebbles to make some sort of raked Zen garden out of. But then, I’ve got waaayy too much stuff here already and adding sexy containers and beautiful little pebbles isn’t going to help. Maybe I need a little rock tumbler and I can go picking up handfuls of garden pebbles and tumbling them myself. :D (Actually, I’ve always wanted a rock tumbler….and a metal detector)

hobbs 2

The wall clock I had in the kitchen has stopped working. It was a sort of cheap battery operated clock, but it was big and looked like a vintage train station clock. You know, I kept looking up at it automatically for days and days after it stopped working and now look at the empty space above the back door. It’s like an automatic reflex! And I miss having a clock there something rotten. This clock was with me for about a million years always in the kitchen, always up high. So now I have to replace it. I’d love this one, but don’t love the price (somewhere around $300…that’s a one-way flight to E! And about 90 chai tea lattes!) I think I might make one. How hard can it be?

hobbs 3

About a million years ago, (first marriage), I had a standing order for a dozen anthuriums/week. I know, it was all chrome and Bahhaus and black leather and glass, but I still love those flowers. The only thing is back then it cost me about $20/month for the flowers and now it costs…what? about $20/stem? I know dinosaurs were alive back then. LOL.

hobbs 4

I love planting houseplants in unusual containers, and love these seed pod pots. I think I’ll buy one for a little begonia Rex I’ve got going on. The smallest is $45, but it’s one of those things I’ll love to look at for years.

hobbs 5

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and off now to share the random the love with Nancy. :D

Hello from Sunday night!

Well, welcome year of the horse! I have high hopes for you. Not only have I just bought a cheesy 1956 paperback western called,”Thirty Notches” by Brad Ward. (gotta love those macho names), but I also painted this little painting of three horses to celebrate you.
I love threes, don’t you? For me it represents all sorts of wonderful groupings: R, C and me, my three children, my three cats. Does anyone remember that Schoolhouse Rocks little vignette “Three is a magic number”? It rather is, isn’t it? Ok, I just had to link to the Blind Melon version now that we’re adults. :D
This little painting started life as a left-over art card. I used a purple-ish vintage wrapping paper that then I wasn’t crazy about and so I painted the horses over it with acrylics. Then I wasn’t happy about the chalky, blocky look of the acrylics so painted over that whole painted and collaged mess with my oils. Ahh, that’s better. Soft, misty, blended colours. Horses coming form on high down to Earth for the lunar year. So GONG XI FA CAI everyone!

year of the horse

Outside the few early snowdrops have opened. Those precious few immediately were brought inside and put into one of the little ink bottles I bought at the car boot sale. I could hardly wait. I’m sure my neighbours thought me strange peering down into the shade garden every day, (seventeen times/day) checking on them. There are hundreds coming but these six first ones are just so very welcome. As I write this they are beside me and later will be moved to my side of the bed. They have a soft, gentle fragrance and I don’t want to miss a moment with my first garden flowers of the year.

001 copy copy

Today I had it in mind to organise and cull my overflowing book collection. So I dove into the library and then the arduous task of deciding which books to actually let go of began. The thing is that sometimes I don’t remember that I have the book and have to put it aside to read thru it to decide whether it’s a keeper or not. Some books I’ve completely forgotten about, like this lovely 1941  “A Choice of Kipling’s Verses Made By T.S. Eliot”, and then read it over lunch completely forgetting that I actually set out to clean up the library. But with a thousand books in the house…well…I do understand and appreciate that I really don’t need two copies of several Simon Winchester or Diane Ackerman books…even if I love them to pieces, and so get on with the task.

005 copy copy

So, in the end I enlisted Chloe’s help going thru the books and took about one hundred books to Dalyce at our most favourite Booklovers used book store. If you’re anywhere within fifty miles of the Lower Mainland, it would so be worth your while to come visit.

Mind you, the minute we drop off books we’re buying new ones. And by the way, Dalyce gives a credit for books brought in, which applies to books being bought. How can you go wrong? Anyway, if you come, let me know when and I’ll meet you. :D

books and bookstores

So back home now with a few of new books and looking forward to cuddling up with a soft, warm blanket, my snowdrops and books. The empty bags are waiting to be filled up with more books to bring to Booklovers, (except this one, which seems to have been expropriated by Morgan), and in a day or two the library will be organised and orderly. (then I’ll take a photo to show you.)

091 copy copy

Sharing with The Dedicated House for make it pretty Monday

Tea on Tuesday and reflections from the weekend

025 copy copy

We had some friends come for Sunday supper. It’s always so lovely, to catch up with friends.

029 copy copy

These days I’m thinking that spring can’t come too soon.

024 copy copy

Sunday morning, while I was shopping for groceries, I bought some tulips and daffodils to “spring the house up”. Later, I used my colourful and crazy Bopla plates on the table. Enough of the sombre winter hues.

014 copy copy

In the garden, the only fresh green is the ivy and the rosemary. I keep looking into the shade garden for signs of snowdrops and crocuses. They’re coming. :)

Today Chloe and her school mate Brianna had to work out a business proposal for a client and I offered to make us a big, sunny salad nicoise for lunch.

007 copy copy

As I was boiling the beans grown in Mexico and tearing up the hot-house grown lettuce and spinach, I thought back to our Sunday supper and tomatoes imported from California. It’ll be good to have some fresh greens growing in the cold frame and in my garden.

001 copy copy

To that end, I brought out some of my vintage gardening books while I had a cup of tea.

I chose this sweet, little Lady’s Slipper cup. Doesn’t it look so very sophisticated and exotic? It’s Merlin Ware by Royal Stafford china.

002 copy copy

And opened some of my books to the coldframe pages. My ancient coldframe needs a bit of repair because the wooden sides are rotting and I’m going to have to do that rather soon because I couldn’t resist buying some seeds from one of my favourite seed supplier, the Hudson Valley Seed Library. I suspect that veg and flowers seeds are probably the same from one supplier to the next, but you’ve got to love a company who hires artists to design the seed packets, don’t you?

006 copy copy

I was thinking that it would be lovely to grow a lady’s slipper orchid in the shade garden. There are seeds available on line actually. I wonder how hard that would be. I have seen some orchids in the forests around my cabin, but not this one.

cup

So I’m sitting here sipping some Lady Gray tea, (because which other tea would one have in a Lady’s Slipper cup?) and listening to a finch singing outside in the dreary, foggy coolness that is our last few days of January, and willing spring on.

008 copy copy

Oh, and I remembered that I promised a post of the new springed-up living room mantle. Post coming tomorrow then. :)

Sharing with Terri and Martha and Sandi and Bernideen.

Last randomness from E

So, it’s almost that time again, I have to switch countries.

Yesterday Robbie and I took down the Christmas tree and all the deckies. We kept it up extra long because neither one of us really wanted Christmas to end, (even though we did tell ourselves that our visiting friends Chris and Diane needed to see the tree), actually, deep down we both know that our time in E is coming to a close and it’ll be 2-3 months before we are together again and neither one of us wants that, but then neither one of us wanted the inevitability of R having to take down the tree and deckies by himself…too sad.

So the only thing Christmas left at the cottage is this basket of nuts and one box of R’s After Eights. (we also finished the Christmas cake last night)

But then, it’s time to focus on spring and new projects.
012 copy

Took Theo to the vet this week because he was acting like perhaps something was stuck in his teeth, or his mouth. The vet found a loose and infected tooth…poor old buddy…and she hoiked it out :( and sent us away with anti-inflammatory drops for him, which will also help his arthritis in the cold weather.

We also found out that he’s lost a bit of weight, which we don’t like, so we’ve been spoiling him rotten with assorted bowls of yumminess. We thought his head might explode at the choices, but he just dives right in!

001 copy

This winter R and I completed a few projects, like insulating a part of the attic space previously uninsulated, and clearing out and reorganising the shed…you know…those mundane type things no one really wants to tackle. So we’re really happy it’s done!

043 copy copy

I did some research and found out that there is no easy way I can take my orchid to Vancouver…barring three separate permits and inspections to protect Canada from imported British pests and diseases…Boo! That means I’ve just lumbered Robbie with a fifth house plant to take care of while I’m not here, and while I take houseplants as a replaceable commodity, he takes it all very seriously and wants them to survive and be happy until I get back. And he’s not a plants person at all! Poor R.

IMG_5498 copy copy

But for now, we still have a couple of days and open fires and healthy Theo and each other. Counting our blessings. :)

004 copy

Sharing with Nancy and the random crew. :)

Bracing myself for a solid week of rain

Yeah, I know, I’ll believe it when I see it! I’ve never known the forecast to be accurate in Vancouver. It’s predicted for seven days in advance and then amended the next day…lol. But either way, I can see the front coming in from the ocean and this means that, even if there will not be a solid week of rain, the next couple of days will probably be pretty drippy. So the west coast is about to turn into the wet coast again, and Monday is garbage and green recycling day in my hood.

And that lawn isn’t going to get mowed by itself.

And the garden isn’t going to weed itself either.

001 copy

I love having this little pebbly area at the back of the garden under the ancient apple tree. It’s the perfect secluded place for a cup of tea and it’s not too much trouble to weed it out because a good raking uproots the little weed plants almost on the first pass. Into the green recycling with you little weed plants!

020 copy

There’s a big, beautiful rosemary at the back of the garden…

022 copy

And there’s more rosemary in the little herb bed. This bed is a raised bed against my garage and full south exposure and completely overheated to the max. Most herbs do really well here but I have to be careful about other plants which would just fry. I want to plant a fig tree here because I think this would be the perfect spot for one.

Morgan loves the stairs to the garage for maximum sunbathing.

rosemary and morgan

Some of the summer plants are still going strong. I love plants like this sweet alyssum that cost under $1 and produce sweet smelling clumps right thru to the end of the summer. Plants like that are such good value.

032 copy

The autumnal plants are in their glory right now. I’m very excited about the little red dahlia, (top right) Bishop of Llandaff. I bought a very small tuber this year and, would you believe it, this is the first flower it’s had. That’s late! But I’m glad I got to see it bloom and, hopefully, next year it’ll be a much bigger clump of tubers and bloom its little heart out for me. :)

flowers

The maples in the shade garden haven’t started turning yet. I’m looking forward to the turning of the leaves but not so much to the sweeping of the leaves off the patio!

029 copy

Well, I’m glad I got all that gardening done today and especially glad I mowed the lawn. You know, I don’t like mowing the lawn very much and my lawnmower is acting up a little. But it’s a good John Deere gas mower and I think that maybe all the engine needs is a little tune up for next spring. And, Robert told me that fresh gas usually helps so I’ll get some for next time.

But now I think I’ll sit in the evening sun and have a cup of tea. :)

I’d love to hear about your gardens, indoor or out. :) And don’t forget to enter my giveaway if you would like.

026 copy

Linking with Sandra at Clearwater Farm and Kim at Little by Little

Late tea, being left-handed and a little giveaway

Early morning appointment had me clear across town and in mom’s neck of the woods and so mom and I took some time and went to Caffé Artigiano for breakfast.

I love the way the baristas enhance one’s coffee and tea experience with their milky and spicy designs. I mean it’s not necessary, my London Fog would have been just as nice with steamed milk, but the little heart of foam sprinkled with cinnamon was just so lovely. Mom’s latte was amazing too, and I noticed that the barista who made our drinks was left handed.

caffe artigiano

Did I ever tell you that I have a fascination with left-handed people? I do! It’s about the first thing I notice when I meet someone. Robert is left handed and I love that about him. I love watching his hand move as he writes or works.

Apparently I was supposed to be left handed. Apparently I favoured my left hand as a baby, but there was some sort of weird stigma associated with left-handedness in Prague and things were taken out of my left hand and placed in my right and I grew up to be right-handed.

This afternoon, while I was waiting for the water to boil, I cleaned up the kitchen sink.

I guess you can see my right-handedness in my sink…lol. The pretties are on the left side. That’s my new Begonia Escargot, (I love that plant), my Buddha, (a prezzy from Kerstie), my father’s radio and a photo of C at about age 9 sipping water form an alpine stream in the French alps. And on the right is the dish soap and a ceramic vase which usually holds brushes which either need to be washed or are drying. I couldn’t imagine switching these around. Things wouldn’t function at all.

sink

Usually I love to have pots of ivy in those green vases, but each time I go away for months at a time, the ivy has a fit and dies. The other day I decided to replace it and so went to Wal-Mart to “save” a couple plants. I don’t know about you but I think Wal-Mart has absolutely no business selling plants! (Oh, soapbox moment, sorry)

Anyway, the ivy was deader than mine but they did bring in some poor sacrificial African violets and so I decided to break with tradition and save two violets instead.

For my tea I chose this little late summer cup by Royal Standard. I love the little storybook scene of hay stacks on the inside of the cup.

cup

And I was going thru some of my watercolours and I thought that I would really like to send some more out into the world instead of having them stacked in a drawer in the writing desk.

The first one I chose to send out is this little violet painting. I painted it on this note paper because the gentle swaying of the notes reminded me of that sweet violet scent which you catch just a hint of and then can’t help yourself but bury your nose right into the blossoms. You know what I mean?

IMG_3641

Of course I can never just send off a painting, so I’m sending it off with a funky moleskin journal, some of my photography cards and some other bits of ephemera to inspire you with.

IMG_3642

I’m not sure if I can comment back on this post because of that random generator thingie and I don’t want it to select me…lol, but I love your comments and get so excited when that little orange bubble is lit up for me! (WordPress jargon) :)

So just leave me a comment and I’ll do the random thingie on Monday and announce it next Tuesday. (Having said that, all things being relative and hoping I’ll have time for tea next Tuesday…lol)

IMG_3646

Linking with Terri and Martha and Sandi and Bernideen and off to visit everyone. :)

A morning at Aston Pottery

I’ve been trying to get to Aston Pottery this summer and I’m actually happy it took till late summer to got there, (even if it’s only the next village over, lol). My friend and neighbour Gill and I planned a lovely catch-up over tea and a walk round the gardens.

IMG_3336 copy

I’ve been in love with the quirky, hand-stencilled pottery made here for several years now, and each time I come here there are new patterns and products on offer.

IMG_3333 copy

The ones I’m in love with are the birds. I’ve got several of these bird tea cups and other pieces but really love this blue agapanthus pattern.

china

After tea, Gill and I walked out into the gardens. There is a rare black bumblebee in England and it has been spotted on the bee balm and the salvia “lipstick”. So Gill and I made it a mission to find him in the flowers.

IMG_3349 copy

Nope, this isn’t the black bumblebee, but the echinacea was full of bees and butterflies. Isn’t it wonderful to see bees on flowers and isn’t it wonderful when people do the best they can for the bees?

IMG_3354 copy

I love autumnal colours and all these yellows were so beautiful against the sky.

IMG_3367 copy

Sedums are fantastic this time of year as well. This Autumn joy was really healthy and big, but the sedum “Purple Emperor” was so full of bees and butterflies the flower heads were practically bending over. (Must remember this when I get back to my Vancouver garden)

IMG_3358 copy

Here’s another autumnal plant I love: asters. Here’s they are called Michaelmas daisies. Mine in Vancouver always succumb to some sort of something. Last year I think it was a caterpillar. Wish I could grow them better.

IMG_3337 copy

Gill and I kept looking at each other and saying things like, “If only we could just pick five or so stems to take home…” :) But we had the best chat and catch-up, the loveliest tea and a sweet treat, we both bought a sweetie to take home for our sweeties (an eccles cake for Robbie, a piece of Eaton Mess cake for Billy), and had a lovely morning. (Even if we had to leave all the flowers there.) :)

ecen

In the end we did see several black bumblebees, but I couldn’t get a clear photo. :( Sorry.