Visiting the Bloedel Conservatory

236 copy copy241 copy copy077 copy copyconservatory098 copy copy
120 copy copy
105 copy copy
159 copy copy
0831birds075 copy copy

Some days, when one is in a mad rush, it’s important to say, “Stuff this for a game of soldiers” to oneself and stop for more than two minutes together.

Chloe and I did just this the other day.

We stopped across town in my mother’s corner of Vancouver, to visit one of my most favourite places, The Bloedel Conservatory. A few years ago in danger of being phased out and dismantled… CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?…Vancouverites railed up in such huge numbers that this beautiful, tropical garden, with waterfalls and pools of rainbow fish, rescued airport smuggled lizards and geckos, over 200 free-flying birds, and over 500 species of tropical plant life, was saved.

I love greenhouses and, in many ways, being a gardener here would absolutely be my dream job, (if it wasn’t for the tourists…lol) But really, we don’t come here often enough. Each time we do stop by, we walk thru it from beginning to end, and then reverse from end to beginning and start over again, before we find a lovely bench to sit at, usually at a bird feeding station, and hang out for a few minutes. Only then, very reluctantly, we walk out the door, and only because we probably should not have stopped here in the first place. But for our sanity, it was the best decision of the week. :D

PS. First photo is across downtown to the North Shore and you can probably see my house in that photo. Probably about where the two orange cranes on the dock are, above them, if you divide the constructed area into thirds, then just below the first third. (Probably making no sense at all…lol)

Macaroons and the sweetest friend

Today I picked up Chloe just after she taught a particularly colourful art class to some 5-9yr olds (occupational hazard she said)…
023 copy copy
…and we headed to Williams-Sonoma to visit our friend Claire who was selling her gorgeous sweets there.
028 copy copy
030 copy copy
034 copy copy
She offered us some chocolate raspberry macaroons….
031 copy copy
…and we really only made one mistake…we tried them!
032 copy copy
Oh lord, have you ever eaten anything so delicious in your whole life? Naturally we bought a box, and, after running a bunch of errands…
038 copy copy
…found ourselves at home, at four-o-clock tea time, with a beautiful box of chocolate raspberry and pink lemonade macaroons.
248 copy copy

250 copy copy

253 copy copy
Chloe just asked if she could have the last lemon one! Oh so yummy. Thank you so much Claire.
If you should like to get to know our sweet friend, and you really should, not only because she’s lovely, but also because she shares recipes!!!
Claire’s website is here: Livia Sweets
Instagram: Clairlivia
Facebook: Livia Sweets
And the yummiest Pinterest: Claire Lassam

254 copy copy
Oh, and one last afterthought, I used Claire’s recipe for olive oil banana bread way back here with the promise of the moistest banana bread ever, and have never used another recipe. It’s that good!
257 copy copy

Getting ready for Art in the Garden

Recently I was told the happy news. My garden has been accepted again this year as a show garden for the Art in the Garden tour. (Still waiting to hear about my portfolio, but am hopeful)

So today being a lovely sunny day, and with C’s help, I decided to blow out the winter cobwebs and hit the garden.

003 copy copy

First a brief run thru and we took stock. C wrote a list of things to do and it turned out to be rather a long list!

005 copy copy

A simple thing on the list were our tattered prayer flags on the saved apple tree. Since I freed the ancient apple tree from the confines of the child’s fort and planted a flower garden around it, it has rewarded us with a renewed health and tons of apples. We figured that maybe it didn’t need the prayer flags any more.

We took them down…

012 copy copy

…and hung up seven glass globes.

024 copy copy

Morgan supervised from the cold frame.

016 copy copy

I think the glass globes look fantastic, and some have glow-in-the-dark dots on them. That might look really lovely in the evenings.

026 copy copy

Morgan practised her best skulking from behind the irises.

022 copy copy

Then a little weeding.

008 copy copy

Which Morgan approved of.

031 copy copy

Then some pruning.

030 copy copy

While Morgan claimed the box I brought the globes out in.

033 copy copy

And then, C and I spent a couple of hours fixing and supporting the old fences.

And finally, we stopped for a well earned cup of tea.

035 copy copy

A few items crossed off the list and beautiful show garden here we come. :D

A night out with my children

girls

restaurant 1

IMG_3679 copy copy

restaurant 2

IMG_3648 copy copy

restaurant3

IMG_3623 copy copy

IMG_3658 copy copy

IMG_3688 copy copy

IMG_3696 copy copy

IMG_3720 copy copy

These days, with everybody so busy in all corners of the world, it’s such a rare treat that I have the chance to get together with my three all at the same time. And now that my three have multiplied to nine! It’s even rarer to have them together.

But this evening all the stars aligned and I had a chance to have dinner with four of the nine. :D

We all came together downtown. I came from an afternoon with my mother and some lovely visiting British friends and picked up Chloe and Kerstin at the downtown seabus terminal. That’s Kers picking me up on taking photos while driving and I’m like “what?”. :D

Jonathan made reservations at the Italian Kitchen, a lovely Italian restaurant, and he and his beautiful girl Chantal met us there for a late supper.

At one point, Jonathan stumped the bartender with a Campari Americano order. Then he explained how to make it. (Jon’s got years of bartending experience)

The restaurant was busy and bustling but also friendly and intimate. The food was fantastic, and Susan, who served us, was lovely and friendly and very accommodating.

We had the most wonderful time, and, by the time we left and said goodbye to Jon and Chantal, it was almost midnight. Not quite closing the bars down, but close enough for me. :D

Hello from Sunday night, yes I know it’s Monday morning

You know what I discovered recently?
I actually only have two hellebores in my garden and they’re not very exciting hellebores at that.

Out at my favourite nursery, Southlands, Thomas had all sorts of these beautiful guys. I love winter bloomers.

h1

Is it me or have I blinked and suddenly there are about a million exciting new cultivars from the boring old Winter and Lenten Rose types? Look at the ruffles and spots and variegation! Have to look around my own hood for houses which will be demolished this spring and go steal save a few.

h2

The Southlands neighbourhood is a very bucolic country gentry life neighbourhood, with horses and stables and rural life right in the heart of a big cosmopolitan city. It ends at one arm of the Fraser River and the Vancouver airport is on an island just beyond.

IMG_3048 copy copy

It might look bucolic and country charming, but the average price of houses starts somewhere around $5,000,000 and goes up from there. One particular house overlooking the path and river is listed at $12,000,000 and has 5 bedrooms 5 bathrooms, about 5000 square ft, and an average city lot. Buying a house in Vancouver means that you can probably afford a house anywhere else in the world…except maybe New York, London or Tokyo.

IMG_3063 copy copy

But it is beautiful here. Blooming trees and pussy willows and horses in back yards.

spring

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch. :D

A mid-winter picnic

198 copy copy

374 copy copy

218 copy copy

210 copy copy

214 copy copy

293 copy copy

365 copy copy

235 copy copy

306 copy copy

329 copy copy

tea

Take my hand and come with us. Come high up on the mountain, away from the winter ocean fog, above the clouds, into the sun. Come hike the sky line Baden Powell trail for a while. Fall in love with the dogs and mourn as their owners tug them away. Explore the winter weeds and the new spring greening. Don’t worry, I’ve packed some hot tea and some nourishing soup.

Listen to the birds.

X marks the spot.
190 copy copy

Happy birthday mom

IMG_1493 copy copy

183 copy copy

004 copy copy

party

034 copy copy

076 copy copy

063 copy copy

158 copy copy

163 copy copy

kitchen talk

Three

074 copy copy

It’s not easy being a Christmas baby. One’s Boxing Day birthday is often very conveniently wrapped up with a Christmas celebration, but we’ve always tried to make it a special day for mom in some way.

My mother turned 80 years young yesterday, and we celebrated in grand style at the beautiful, Christmas-shiny home of our friend Jane. About 30 of mom’s friends came to help celebrate her birthday, and a huge treat for me because my son Jonathan and his lovely girl Chantal were in town and could join us. We all had a lovely time with plenty of yummy nibbles, plenty of wine and wonderful cake.

Happy birthday and many happy returns of the day mom! We love you. X

Christmas day warmth

184 copy copy

Christmas day

169 copy copy

home

176 copy copy

004 copy copy

007 copy copy

011 copy copy

012 copy copy

home2

Christmas day warmth.

Here on this dreary, rainy West Coast, the sun came out for Christmas. It came out and warmed up our spirits and the neighbourhood pussy willows.

Our Christmas day was full of roasting and baking and icing. It was full of quiet moments, sleepy lap cats, candle light and open fire. It was full of The Queen’s Speech, Doctor Who and James Bond.

It was merry and bright and warm. :D

Sharing all this Christmas warmth with the WordPress photo bunch :D

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas

There’s so much excitement round here. Do you all feel like that Christmas eve?

Christmas eve is the traditional Czech Christmas celebration, and, as my mother is coming to celebrate with us, I’m making a traditional Czech feast which includes a carp.

ins and outs

And here is the beast!

Robert thinks carp is a big joke. I explained that one must eat the carp to have the right to put the carp scales into their wallet, to insure that one won’t run out of money for the whole of the next year.

035 copy copy

And he said, “Let me get this straight. At some point millions of years ago, some Czech officials said, ‘How are we going to get our good people to eat this horrible, bony, but prolific fish?’ ‘I know, let’s make up a superstition!'” :D

Lol, it might be true! It’s as big a pain to prepare as it is to eat. See that scale in my hair? That one chose me!

This particular fish came completely intact, which meant I had to gut it! (Brave girl me!) I have to tell you something. Inside carp is a sort of hourglass shaped sac which is its swim bladder. It looks like a balloon, and, as children, my cousins and I were given these “balloons” to play with while our grandmother prepared the fish. (there were usually three or four carp swimming in the tub over night) I told R this story and he laughed and said that next jousting day, I better not say anything about the little British children marching around holding fake severed heads if I played with fish organs as a child. I guess he has a point.

fish

There was a little last minute prezzy wrapping.

030 copy copy

And, as usual, Morgan did her best to help.

029 copy copy

Then, then all the wrapping was done…

061 copy copy

…Morgan took up station in the kitchen to keep an eye on supper.

002 copy copy

The evening came and we sat down to our Czech Christmas supper.

082 copy copy

And Morgan took up residence in the dining room.
Yes, she was given hand-outs under the table. Spoiled cat. Milo was under a blanket in the TV room and so he missed out on the carp.

116 copy copy

We had a bit of wine and exchanged prezzies with my mom. She gave me the most beautiful and huge amethyst geode. It’s just so glorious that it now has pride of place in the middle of the mantle. I’ll take a photo soon and show you.

me

Then we kicked off our shoes and went into the family room to watch a movie. R picked You’ve Got Mail. I’ve never seen it and it was lovely.

113 copy copy

All the prezzies went under the tree…

135 copy copy

…and off we went eager to wake up for our traditional British Christmas morning.

018 copy copy

Just as we were in bed, there was a soft thump from the kitchen. That scrubby little Morgan climbed up on the counter and dragged a whole loaf of bread out of the bread basket and onto the floor!!!

But now all is still and all is calm. I wish you all a wonderfully merry Christmas day with loads of love and warmth to sustain you for the whole year. I thank you for your loving support and friendship. It means to world to me and you’re all in my heart.

May you be loved.

016 copy copy

Hello from Sunday night

076 copy copy

Hello everyone. :D I know it’s been an age since I posted, and to tell you the truth, I’ve missed photographing and posting something rotten.

074 copy copy

Speaking of something rotten, C came down with a nasty little cold last week. Tis the season, huh? We drove down to our favourite juice bar, the Juicery, and picked up some good medicine. She was over the cold in no time.

090
R and M
138 copy copy

One big bit of news, Robert has flown in for Christmas. :D It’s so lovely to have him home again. And, with R here, we went to find a Christmas tree. We found a beautiful, slightly imperfect, spruce, which a) we could afford!!! (seen the price of Christmas trees this year?) and b) reached up the nine feet to the ceiling.

tree

Then it was just a matter of decorating it. I’ve been collecting glass ornaments for about a million years now. I love them more than anything. It’s been two years since we got them out because Christmas has been in England for the past two years, and I was so excited to see them again. They’re like old friends…do you know what I mean? There’s that wonderful familial comfort in seeing Jonathan’s baby ornament, (34 yrs old now), my grandmother’s favourite one to remember her by, one special glass bird we somehow brought out of the Czech republic in 1968, the street car from San Francisco, vintage silvered glass bells from the antique markets in England…so many special stories attached to so many of them.

147 copy copy

143 copy copy

161 copy copy

150 copy copy

159 copy copy

160 copy copy

168 copy copy

So many beautiful ornaments gathered in various places over many years. It took me four hours to put most of them on.

097 copy copy

Especially since you can see just how much help I had…lol.

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch.