Round here

I can’t believe how fast the month of July has trickled thru my fingers!
Where did it go? I also can’t believe that a whole month has past here at West Cottage. Sometimes I wish I could make the time stand still.

Spoke to Chloe today on Skype. I miss that girl of ours so much, but isn’t it a wonderful world we live in that I can see her live whenever I want to? I also love that she’s finally (after I threatened to not renew her web space if she didn’t do something with it), keeping her blog. And, can I just say that her photography skills are so amazing now! She’s got my professional Canon in Van and has learned to use the tripod and timed shutter release and some of the photos are taken that way. But all are taken by her!

So lately I’ve been gardening weeding waging total war on weeds in some pretty impressive heat, while watching the beautiful Oxfordshire skies for approaching thunderstorms, and having silly fun; like raiding Catherine’s pebble drive and collecting odd pebbles and flints and designing prehistoric families. (My prehistoric man had an impressive cod piece for a while but Robbie waved the subtlety flag.) :D

in Oxfordshire

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This morning R had to run some chores just very close to Oxford and so I begged a ride into town. Thursday is the antique market in town and I was dying to visit the map seller. I usually buy a lot of damaged old maps form him that I can paint on.

Things worked out pretty well as R was going to be about an hour, and so we agreed to meet in 50 minutes and I hoofed it the last mile into town. Good thing I did too. The traffic was a morning grid lock and, despite the ridiculous number of students clogging the sidewalk, (for the summer months), I got to the market in ten minutes.

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OMG! So many beautiful things to see! I want to come back and buy some lovely blue and white plates for Kerstie’s collection, and this dress! If I were to get married I’d so chose a 1940s gold embroidered beauty like this rather than any new gown in the world. (Oh, and also have a couple ribs removed to fit into it! LOL)


But mustn’t get sidetracked by the shiny sparklies. (I swear I’m half magpie)

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Here is what I came for. This wonderful seller has a box of damaged maps. Just perfect for me and my art. I never want to use perfect old maps. I love the broken, ripped, drawn and written on ones. You know, the ones which have a history; which have been loved to pieces.

Unfortunately, before I got to the map bloke, I came past a tool bloke and got seduced by a sexy chisel. I did have £30 to spend, but, after my chisel I only had £24 left. I chose the maps I wanted and explained to the nice map man about how I couldn’t help myself with the chisel and he laughed and said, “Let’s see what you want and I’ll give you a deal.” Then he totalled up my maps, which came to £30, and said he’d take £20 for the lot! Wow! So I went to a used book stall and spent the last £4 on some more maps! Hooray! Now I have loads of maps to paint on. :D

So happy.

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Later this aft, I took a couple of hours to do some work on the blackbirds. I walked out to the fields and picked some fireweeds and drew them around my blackbirds and began painting them in. Lot’s more work to do still, but I like the way this little painting is coming along.


And, the village flower and veg show is coming up, so I might enter the blackbirds into the painting competition.

So tomorrow is August. Welcome August! I’m settling into the summer grove and loving life.

And speaking of love, I’m crazy in love with the beech forests right now and R has promised me a walk thru them. Can’t wait. But first we’ll go for a walk beside the Whomping Willow, (which is really a huge chestnut, but C called it that about 10 years ago). I love it there. We always see some deer. Actually, I surprised a muntjac deer yesterday evening. He walked out of some tall grass right in front of me, got scared, ran off and barked at me from the trees. Boy are those little creatures loud!

I think I might go for a walk this evening again to see if I can find him under that amazing sliver of a new moon out there. :D

Big hugs to everyone. Hope your last July day is a sunny and warm one filled with beautiful moments.

Hello from Sunday night

Otherwise known as the Midsummer Family Love-fest!

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Chloe and I got out of town to the Okanagan, 460 km out of Vancouver, to visit my daughter Kerstin and her family.

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And especially to meet this new little member: Zoe Iris Gray, (Ziggy…naturally), who is four weeks old. She is the baby sister to Ever, (Binky) 4 yrs old, and Isla, (Bunny) 2.

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The Okanagan is a beautiful, semi-arid part of BC, with an abundance of lakes, orchards and vineyards and since the weekend promised to be a hot one, we bundled up a picnic and the babies, and headed for the nearest lake.

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Everyone was very tired Saturday afternoon. The beach will do that. (Although Charlie and Mouse stayed at home, so I’ve no idea what their excuse is…lol)

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This morning Kerstie took us to the Sunday flea market. I just love flea markets, don’t you?

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Binky and Bunny stopped to inspect all the toys, but were just as happy to run around and blow dandelion clocks.

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I just have to show you the treasures I found. I’m especially in love with the sock monkey, which seems to be a very old, well loved one, but at some point in his sock monkey life, someone gave him some tragic glue-on googly eyes. I’ll soon fix that with some vintage buttons. Those tiny pictures are made with 1920′s postage stamps, and the camp stove toaster is headed to England with me so Robbie and I can take it camping.

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After the flea market and some lunch, we said goodbye to all our girls and headed back to town.

We stopped at a local orchard store for some yummies for our trip.

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We bought some handmade squeaky cheese curds, super salty and yummy…our favourite with some fresh basil and these couple huge tomatoes, which actually smell like fresh tomatoes, cherries, honey sticks, some organic bee pollen to keep us healthy, and, we were very bad, we bought that homemade peanut brittle and ate the whole thing on the drive home. (But we couldn’t help ourselves…it was sooo moreish!)

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Back at the car I picked up some tree dropped peaches. I wish there was a way to preserve their beautiful fresh green fuzzyness.

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And so we took our goodies and drove out of the Okanagan and began to climb the mountain passes for home.

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We stopped for some wild sage to make sage bundles and in the alpines for forget-me-nots and lupins, which are now at home, reminding us of our lovely weekend.


Thank you to everyone who left me a comment on my last post. I’m so grateful to you for visiting and for giving me the chance to meet you all. I’ll draw two names via random generator tomorrow morning 10am (Pacific time), and post the results here and on yesterday’s post. Good luck to everyone.

Big hugs XX

EDIT: Winner of the chickadee/bluetit painting is number 3 Patricia
and Winner of the towhee painting is number 37 Marion

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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?


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

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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.)

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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.

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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

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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.


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


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

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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Random things I love

I love that I have green eyes and Chloe has blue and Jonathan and Kerstie have brown eyes. I love that I have the whole gamut in the family. Robert’s eyes are very unusual because they tend to be very chatoyant and can look blue, green and even hazel/brown depending on his mood. I love that too.
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I love pebbles. I pick them up everywhere and stick them in my pockets. They usually end up in the garden or in craft projects or just in random arrangements in jars or on plates.
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I love fantasizing about living in all sorts of places and houses. I look at a lovely house and then think about how much it would cost to live there. Like this place in London. And then I think about the reality and realise that it’s actually 1,2,3,4…15 flats! Yeah. But sometimes I think about selling the Vancouver house and the Oxfordshire house and ending up with enough money to buy a dream like this place in Vermont. (eight times over!) :D And having all that land…and chickens…and rescuing great big Morgans and Clydesdales. (sigh)
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I love drawing on old pieces of paper; maps, books, found bits of cardboard… I love the thought that I’ve taken that worthless bit of paper which someone discarded and I’ve given it worth with my art. Transformed it into something special, multiplied its value exponentially. And then I’m always so gratified to give it away.
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I love my iPhone as a repository of photographs and notes. Spur of the moment ideas, someone’s emails or websites I want to check out, images which inspire me…never has there been a better system. I’d never want to be without one again. :)
Linking with Nancy and looking forward to catching up with everyone’s random.

Home on a rainy day

It’s one of those rainy Tuesdays after a long weekend with a rather sombre Monday, when we both feel like Morgan.

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Still, time to get to work. I have a lot of painting to do and C has her first formal project management round table discussion in her business administration class. (We’ve been having a formal-casual fashion show all morning. C’s more the skater girl than the business administration girl) Still, the outfit is getting pulled together.

Time for tea.

I bought this well loved and slightly rubbed down tea pot. Would you call it lusterware? I think so but am not sure. The only identifying mark are four gold numbers 1676 on the bottom. I also love the unexpected little raised orange spots along the top part of the decoration. Whatever it is, it was just sitting there, filthy with old tea and priced at about $5 so I had to rescue it and give it a new home.

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I love the way it looks so beautifully with my grandmother’s old tea cups. She brought these cups from the former Czechoslovakia. On the bottom is one of those old Czech marks making them Josef Kuba cups. I wonder if Grandmother had them from her wedding or something. Oh the things I never asked her about.

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Each time I bring these cups down from the cupboard we remember babi (Czech for grandma).

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So, grey business dress decided on and time to wrap up in a warm shawl and have some tea.

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I’ve begun putting the autumn decorations away and setting up a more wintery feel. This whimsical still life has in it an angel graphite painting. I drew this when my grandmother died. My daughter Kerstie was the model. The angel’s collar is copper leaf. I think that somewhere is a cross stitch pattern I made of this little angel. Maybe I should try to find it and stitch it.

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So we’re both looking out there into the rain trying to will ourselves for getting out to school and up into the cold studio.

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The hot tea is helping. But we’d rather stay right here. :)

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Sharing tea with Terri and Martha and Sandi and Bernideen. :)

Finally, a break from the rain

Spent some time with my daughters and our little girls today.

The girls and I went to have breakfast together and after breakfast look what we found! Raindrops glistening on everything but a tiny bit ever so jewel-like.

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We had to come see for ourselves. What was that? Could it be our long lost sun? It is!

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So, while everyone still has to get on with their business today…

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…maybe we can take a little time and just soak up some sun. :)

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Rainy day…let it rain we say.

One thing’s for certain about April. One day it can balmy and warm and I’ll happily plant out little seedlings and the next day a massive windstorm blows in causing me to fear for their safety. Such a windstorm blew thru Vancouver this past Wednesday knocking out power for most of the day and playing havoc with the shallow rooted firs. And the windstorm has blown the clouds around and slammed them into the mountains where they gathered into a blackish-gray mass and it hasn’t stopped raining all day.

It’s ok we say. What do we care when we can play and nap and have tea.
rainy day

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Happy birthday my sweet Clover…this post is going to go on for miles and miles and quite possibly make you hungry

Everyone who is my friend of FB already knows it was Chloe’s 21st birthday yesterday because I went on and on about it practically all day.

But just in case you missed it, or if you’re not on my FB, (why on earth not… come be my friend), then here is a little look back at this most wonderful day.

I drove up to C’s university and grabbed her and her friend Taylor for lunch at our local favorite restaurant Burgoo. Kerstie and the babies joined us…

… and Binky gave C her prezzies.
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We shared Burgoo’s special fondue and Bunny had all the grapes.
Then we had some more yummies: French onion soup for C…
…and muscles for me.
Then I returned a very reluctant C and Taylor back for their two afternoon classes and a very important group media presentation which C’s had to present and caused her tummy to break out in a bad case of butterflies.

But then it was over and we drove X-town, Adam, Kerstie, Bryson, Chloe and me, to Merchant’s Oyster Bar for supper. We were there but no Jonathan.
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Pastry chef Claire brought us some champagne. Not only is she beautiful but extremely talented and writes a wonderful food and craft blog
Happy birthday clinks all round.
But still no Jonathan!
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Oh here he comes. What is he like?
Lovely, crusty French bread was brought on a cutting board sprinkled with sel de fleur.
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And Jonathan ordered drinks, wine and 24 oysters.
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The oysters, especially with champagne mignonette spooned on them, were absolutely out of this world delicious.
Kerstie, Adam and the babies had a holiday at Parksville over Easter and Kerstie told us stories of gathering fresh oysters at low tide and eating them right at the beach and, later, barbecuing them for supper.
Claire came back and took more orders for some cold appies.
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Jonathan ordered albacore tuna poke, bison tartare and cold roasted beet salad.
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Then Jonathan ordered more wine and roasted bone marrow…
… flat iron steak, confit pork belly, salmon, and two orders of scalloped potatoes.
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There was so much yummy food!
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Jonathan went to talk to some friends and restaurant patrons and that may have been the wrong time…
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…because just then Claire came with her amazing desert creations.
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We shared desert but, as the birthday girl, C got to lick the knife. (I know, I brought her up well!)
We had the most amazing day/evening/togetherness fest and I just couldn’t stop taking photos of my beautiful three.
The reason my heart beats, the loves on my life.
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A rosy tea cup Tuesday with children

So you know how I go on about my URCs (ubiquitous rosy cups), and that I’m not so keen to use them? Well, seeing all your rosy prettiness from Tuesdays past has inspired me, so for this Tuesday I got some of my rosy prettiness out of the cupboard.

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Kerstie gave me this lovely three tiered rosy cake server for Christmas last year. It is called Fashion Rose from Staffordshire. Earlier in the day we were all feeling like having something sweet and creamy and stopped by our favorite bakery for treats, so it seemed like the perfect time to have a rosy tea party with the babies.

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The tea cups I chose were, left to right, Tudor Rose by Collingwoods, America Beauty by Royal Albert, and Adderley.

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The little gold finch cake server was on loan from Kerstin who just bought it at a church bazaar for $5.

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I’ve had these bone china children’s nursery rhyme cups for nearly 30 years and the children used them for tea when they were little. I always thought that the one is Tom, Tom the Piper’s son and the other is Five Current Buns, but I might be wrong.

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Binky gets milk, she’s a little too little for tea and the pastry sugar buzz will be bad enough without adding Milk is poured from Mrs. Marmalade Cat’s milk jug.

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Let the tea party begin!



Linking up with Terri of Artful Affirmations and thinking, “that’s a spectacularly pretty tea cup!”, and to Martha and feeling so happy about her good news, to Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage , loving all that delicious cream tea wonderfulness, and to Bernideen and thinking, “wow, this girl has so much cool stuff!”

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I’m so glad you stopped by. :)

Where she yarn bombs Binky and Bunny

Kerstie, Chloe and I went to a church bazar this morning and came up trumps! A whole box of knitted bits for $5.
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When we’re finished yarn bombing the babies we will wrap and knit the bits around the old apple tree in the back corner of the garden and show it some love. :)