A windstorm in the night

Well, here we are in that terrible West Coast spring weather, where the clouds pile up and crash into the mountains and it rains and rains and rains.

I’ve been busy inside the new silversmithing studio and also I’ve repotted the indoor plants and terrariums.

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Then last night we had a windstorm and all the rain clouds were blown away.

Unfortunately, my greenhouse was also blown away and almost all the seedlings were dumped out into the garden.

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I picked up as many as I could and repotted them and watered them in. Robert righted the greenhouse and weighed it down with rocks and bricks.

Well, this will certainly be an interesting gardening year as I can’t tell my aster seedlings from my bachelor’s buttons from my zinnias! :D

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Still, the sun is shining, and so we got on with some outdoor work. (With Morgan’s supervision of course.)

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We bought a new, small pond pump and created a fountain from an old water pump I’ve had for years, and then, finally hung up a second fountain into a permanent place. Previously, this ornate Italian fountain was in the entrance hall of a past heritage house I owned, and I didn’t know what to do with it since I moved and left it in storage for about 13 years. The jury is still out on that one, but I think it’ll be fine where we put it; especially with a beautiful clematis growing over it.

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And also, we took my dad’s old Craftsman toolbox and, after R drilled out the rivets holding the handles, we sanded down the rust…

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…and sprayed it with rust paint. I love the new shiny red. It still needs to dry and be put back together again and slid under one of the work benches, but as soon as I’ve got that done, I’ll take photos.

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We got lucky today, and tomorrow it’s supposed to be back to the rain, and, I suppose, back to indoor work, but the sun was lovely while it lasted. :D

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Round here

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It’s been a quiet sort of day round here. A little work, a little play, a walk in the rain around the hood…nothing special going on.

I suppose it’s the first day we’ve had without someone rushing around. Chloe has finished her semester now and had a big sigh of relief, and now she’s off to Bryson’s parent’s cabin for a few days rest and cats and dogs and horses.

Robert and I are trying to figure out the best way to photograph my art work without a lot of natural light and it isn’t really working so I’m going to put it off till we get a brighter day.

Yesterday I made C a new ring, a bit of a congratulations of finishing your semester prezzy. I love the way it turned out but I still have a bit of work to finish burnishing the bezel around the beach glass and black goldstone.

And, after starting all the sweet peas and ending up with about 200% more healthy seedlings than my garden can accommodate, I smartened up and bought five nasturtium seedlings…just the right amount.

What’s going on with everyone? How’s spring coming along? Has it shown up in your part of the old globe yet?

My friend John has sprouted enough cabbage seedlings for England, Diane is having to protect her porch flowers from some late frost, Michelle has made the most wonderful, cuddly, bear sweater in the world, (she’s such a talented knitter), and Joanne is brewing some wonderful natural dyes. Can’t wait to see what she does with them. Speaking of, has anyone been dyeing with onion skins lately? I remember colouring Easter eggs with them. Think I might try again this year.

Let me know what you’re all up to. :D

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Hello from Sunday night

Hello from a wonderfully lazy Sunday night which resulted from a wonderfully lazy Sunday. Isn’t that how Sundays should be?

Every time…OK, it’s rare, but I try hard…every time I get a Sunday like today, I sink into it and enjoy every moment.

I think it has something to do with the rain…and stillness…and lack of energy after an all out Saturday and very late Saturday night…but what ever’s done it, isn’t it wonderful and decadent to have the time for a Sunday like today?

Actually, tonight is the full moon, isn’t it? Shame the night is so rainy and overcast, otherwise I would be tempted to put the crystals out onto the window sills into the moonlight for a clearing of energy, and grab one of those crystals to help me tomorrow.

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It’s been a hectic week with loads of unpleasantness all round, but I’ve done well. The notices in my Quo Vadis are checked off and everything is accounted for, and generally I’m on top of things. And seven days and counting till Mexico so lucky me will not be complaining.

Balance, it’s hard to find it some days, isn’t it?

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Like today, I decided to get a lazy start on the bunting for the Art in the Garden show. Now I know, I can swear, that I have a rotary cutter…somewhere…but for the life of me I couldn’t find it. Don’t you hate it when you so feel like getting into a project but lack the raw materials you know you have somewhere? Oh I hate that. It takes me so much energy to organise a project that I hardly have any left for the project itself!!!

So no rotary cutter, plus the old cutting board I have is cracked and definitely not self healing any more, meant a drive down to Michael’s to see about replacing the mat and rotary cutter. But then, bonus number 1! Don’t you love Michael’s perpetual 40% off on-line coupon?

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The cats didn’t move even once today. Milo has switched allegiance. He used to sleep on my bed but these days he’s on C’s bed; or rather, under C’s Hudson’s Bay blanket. I tried to call him for supper but he gave me the look as if to say, “you can’t mean me; I had the night shift.”

Morgan…well…Morgan is very good at ignoring everyone…all day.

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But I did hit my closet today. Mainly because our friend Eugenia will house sit for a week and, also, I need to organise some warm weather clothes, so my closet got the overhaul. This photo is from about midway thru organisation with a serious “not sure what to do with” pile on the shelf.

You know, sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who hangs art inside her closet. If you do then let me know; I’d love to feel like part of a pack.

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C’s major focus this weekend has been on homework; on submitting two term papers ahead of Mexico week so she has peace and quiet, and evidence of study is all over her bedroom floor.

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I’m back to the lapidary club tomorrow with Walt to try to cast the silver things. I’m a bit trepidacious about the process, but feel like I’m in good hands with Walt, so feeling so very excited as well. I just want things to work out…you know? Want things to turn out perfectly. I know… the big I…the capitol “I”… ego talking. (But it’s all such a one shot deal…you know…such a long process of preparation and casting and one of a kind materials, which will be destroyed in the process and gone forever if it doesn’t work out.)

Later tonight when I speak to Robbie he’ll remind me that if I think I can control even 10% of my life I’m being arrogant. I love that he grounds me.

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I’ve been cooking for two lately. NO, DON’T GET EXCITED! I meant for two suppers…sheesh…I have three children too many already…and they keep multiplying!

No I meant I’ve been making larger suppers in order to freeze a portion for Eugenia while she’s here. Tonight I made the most delicious pork tenderloin a la Cordon Bleu; a left-over from my Cordon Bleu days. I’ll share the recipe. It’s been a most welcome family favourite for near on 30 years. Do you have family favourites?

We should do a family favourite cook off. :D

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Pork Tenderloin a la Cordon Bleu

2 lbs pork tenderloin
1 cup stock, (chicken or beef)
6-8 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, sliced
bit of oil for frying

marinade for the meat:

2 Tbs soya sauce
4 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs fruit chutney type sauce, like HP sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pepper

- cut the meat into 2 inch slices
- mix marinade in a bowl and put meat into it and let stand for at least an hour. (I’ve left it overnight, frozen the pork in the marinade…all sorts of shenanigans.)

- pour a little oil into pan
- heat the oil and lift the pork slices from the marinade and brown them. Work in small batches and transfer the browned meat into a pot.
- After the meat is browned, add the onion to the pan, brown, and put into the pot with the meat and deglaze the pan with some stock and the rest of the marinade. Pour the stock into the pot over the meat.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 450 and, after the 30 minutes, lift the pork out of the pot reserving the stock and place pork into an over proof baking dish. Place cut tomatoes on top.
- reduce the stock by half and pour over the meat. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Oh so simple and so yummy. Sorry for the not exactly precise directions. It was a sort of invented on the fly thing, and it’s been ages since I bothered to measure anything…but it’s safe to say you just can’t go wrong with this tangy/sweet/savoury dish.

I usually serve this with mashed potatoes, (mainly because I really love mashed potatoes), but it’s just as fabulous over pasta.

I hope you give it a try.

In the mean time, I hope you keep your balance this next week and please cross your fingers for my Great Lost Wax Method silver experiment; this next step on my silversmithing journey. (Sounds so mysterious, doesn’t it?)

Much love and big hugs. Keep your balance this week and I hope you start it off on a lovely positive note.

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Sharing with Mary at Mosaic Mondays and Dwellings-the heart of your home, and Create with joy.

Connections, Kristen’s wonderful challenge

It’s funny sometimes how a spur of the moment though…actually, maybe it’s more accurate to say, a mind empty of thoughts, a mind in the present, how that inspires the perfect action.

I knew that the challenge word for this week is connections. I knew this for a full week and everywhere I went, everything I did, I saw connections in. But then, you might be saying, you can hardly help that, can’t you? Well, it’s true, but rarely do those connections inspire a meaningful piece of art.

Yesterday at the beach, it was gloriously warm and bright. I picked up a piece of orange nylon rope thinking I would recycle it properly, and, as I sat looking around me at the sunshine and the happy dogs I decided to save that piece of rope and weave it into something which connects.

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So I walked along the beach to find the perfect branch and some other objects and took them home.

I was going to wait till this morning to do something with them, but the evening was so lovely that I decided to start right then.

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I wove the nylon rope around the branch and thru itself.

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I found some ribbon and yarn and wove that in to symbolise seaweed and the reflection from shells.

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And then I went to get my other found goodies to add those on, phoned Robbie and went to bed.

Sent photos for the weaving to R and he said, “you’ve made yourself a talking stick. Even more connections. I like it!”

This morning my newly proclaimed talking stick lay on the dining room table.

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It sparkles in the harsh morning light, with its beads of birch bark, its combinations of man-made and natural elements, discarded and wanted, saved and used. Offers, connections, from the ocean and from my hands to your heart.

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I took it outside to greet the day and held it up against the sky.

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When you have a chance, the list of participating artists is here on Kristen’s site. :D

Randomness, here it comes:

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Clover and I went for a walk in the old hood this week, (only a few minutes drive). It’s so beautiful in Vancouver when the sun shines! Every time I find myself on a day like this, in a place like this, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world…and there are hummingbirds displaying.

Actually, walk is a loose term, always remembering that if you go down those stairs, at one point you have to actually hike up those stairs to get back to the car…but we can’t help it. :D

Briefly wondered what those mysterious white spots could be on my African violet leaves, then it dawned on me: potato starch! I started to peel the potatoes over the sink right beside the little plants…DUH…lol.

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I’m starting to really love this boho, floopsy, gypsy, layered clothing look.

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The more I get into silversmithing and begin to understand the how-to of it all, the more I: a) appreciate innovative designs and craftsmanship, and b) shake my head at the unbelievably high prices some craftsman ask…especially when I know that a certain piece with the $300 price tag has about $50 worth of silver in it and took about one hour with simple techniques. What gives? Maybe it’s me.

I started a Pinterest board of the most beautiful jewellery just for inspiration. Don’t you just love Pinterest?

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I want a boat!

I really want a boat!

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Sharing with Nancy and the random bunch. :D

Bit of a mixed up tea this Tuesday

I guess by now you all may have heard that Vancouver is under a bit of snow.

I KNOW! RIGHT!?! My poor little garden flowers…which might be made for the snow…but still.

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There really wasn’t anything to do about it but go shopping and have some tea.

Actually, I should have been working and Clover should have been studying for her midterm…but whatever. :D

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You all probably noticed that my child has been looking a bit blonder lately. She’s got that ombre thing happening, you know, where she looks like an alien with tin foil all over her hair and can listen to BBC Radio thru her teeth for 30 minutes, and now, the side effect of all that free broadcasting thru teeth, is that she looks completely washed out in my Chanel Coco Rouge lipstick, which she loves to nick for an evening out.

So high on C’s priority list was finding a red lipstick for evening which actually looks good on her. And for C, it has to be organic, cruelty free and affordable. So we did the lipstick run-around and when she was finished trying seventeen different shades and five different brands, she ended up looking very pink around her chin and cheeks from the Kleenex and lipstick smears.

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By the end of the lipstick adventure I was dying for a cup of tea and C was feeling starving so we stopped at a new cafe called Faubourg Paris Café and I ordered my Earl Gray and C a ham and cheese croissant.

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This is a lovely cafe with a patisserie where they make fabulous pastries, but the Mariage Freres Earl Gray tea they served was just way too weak and flavourless for me. And I did let it steep for a long time.

On the other hand, the cafe is lovely and bright and twinkly with loads of crystal drop chandeliers and pendant lamps, there is a gently projected movie on one wall and the chairs, with the Lucite centres and painted feathers, are lovely.

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So back at home, I still wanted my lovely, fragrant Earl Gray and so brewed myself a cup from my super secret, only for me stash of loose tea from Fortnum and Mason and I chose this sweet little cup to have it in.

I love this frosty rose from Royal Southerland and it seems like a fine homage to this ridiculous February snow.

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So I had my tea and C got into her sweats and her cue cards and I sat down at the kitchen table to think about my personal journal and see if I could come up with a page.

C and page

You know, this page was so hard won. I loved the words “experimental genius” and tried to form a thought from among the other words on the page but it just wouldn’t come and wouldn’t come…and I’d been staring at it off and on for about a week now.

So I sat there and had a little meditation over the page and suddenly there the words were! Right there all along!

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The words say: “await the experimental genius in the magnificent fabric of the mind’s eye today”

I saw the experimental genius as swirling colours. Bold and bright colours, mixing and rushing in, taking over an empty space.

But I also saw the experimental genius as small and shy and quiet and softly moving in on silent wings, and you turn around and there he is. So suddenly I was painting an owl. A Little Owl. One of the smallest owls out there.

And then I dulled down the magnificent fabric with a little bit of soft, white tissue paper, a little imperfection, so we don’t take ourselves too seriously as artists. :D

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Sharing tea with Terri and Martha and Sandi and Bernedeen, and, just after I drive C to the uni to take her midterm, I’ll be around to catch up with everyone.

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Silversmithing advanced class…spinner rings

So this was the most fun!!!!

Remember when I took the basic silversmithing course a few weeks ago?

Remember I told you I would be a repeat offender in Walt’s class?

Well, guess what? Walt decided to hold a spinner ring class with slightly more advanced techniques and I jumped at the chance.

Do you know spinner rings? Fun, fat rings with an outside ring which can spin freely around the inner ring. So lovely, so handy when you’re nervous, so dress up unusual when everyone is wearing plain old “rings”…so what I have to make right now. (Below are a couple Walt made for demonstration.)

But you know me…I’m so not colouring within the lines, by the way…lol.

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So come see how these are made, it’s not too hard, I promise. But I would still recommend a class before you try any silversmithing on your own and, if you’re in the Lower Mainland, you can’t do better than Walt’s almost one-on-one, private studio classes, and, he’s running a basic class in a week or two again.

So this ring needs a thicker inner ring which means I got to design, measure and cut out a custom sized piece of silver.

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Silver is pretty easy to cut out using these metal cutting shears at this stage, so a saw isn’t necessary for this step.

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Next, that whole palaver of adjusting the ends so they fit completely smoothly and snugly begins with endless filing.

Remember, if you decide to become a silversnmith, it’s useful to say, “I love filing…filing is my friend!” over and over again. You can also see how badly I cut this piece of silver with one end slightly wider than the other. You guessed it…more filing. :D

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I’m skipping over the basic flux and solder of the inner ring…you can refer to the earlier post…but let’s just say that after the ring is filed and soldered and in the “pickle”, it’s time to begin work on the outer ring, which will spin around the inner ring.

Now let me tell you why Walt is one in a million.

I think I said something like, “Walt, I’d like to make a wavy branch and have a jewel on that branch in a bezel, kind of like a flower, and I’d like some leaves and maybe a bird on that branch, and I know that this class will finish by 4:30pm and I know that this means hours of custom work which I don’t know anything about, and I also want to make a second spinner ring for Clove, which I haven’t even designed yet but it won’t be simple,…but it’s what I really want.”

And Walt said, “sure, go ahead!” And then! He encouraged me in my crazy designs and showed me short-cut techniques and introduced me to new tools.

So my outer ring began with a length of silver wire. I cut it to two sizes larger than my inner ring size and, after soldering it together, I bent it into a wavy pattern. Then I filed a smooth spot on the branch and soldered the bezel cup to it.

my spinner beginning

Next I thought about the leaves. I took a little piece of silver, drew three leaves with a sharpie and cut them out with my saw. Then filed them smooth and to the irregular shape I wanted, and used a heavy sort of screwdriver thing and my rawhide hammer to make the leaf veins on the leaves. You can see by the tip of my finger just how tiny these leaves are.

leaves

Then I took the edge of a thicker gauge sheet of silver and drew a tiny bird on it and cut it out with my saw.

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Then the nightmare of soldering all those bits on my “branch” outer ring began. Whew, they took a fair few tries to get that straight remembering to use the solder in the hard, medium, easy and extra easy steps so not to melt the previous soldered piece with each subsequent heat-up and solder.

From such humble beginnings as scrap bits of silver to fitting the little carnelian gem took hours but I was so proud to be using the burnishing tool and doing that almost final step of fitting the gem.

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The very last step to my ring involved slipping the outer ring over the inner ring and gently hitting the ends of the inner ring with a ball-shaped tool to spread them out and keep the outer ring trapped on the band of the inner ring. I’m sorry but I was so excited to do this that I forgot to take a photo. :( My bad.

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For C’s ring I wanted to make her a tree. Not just any tree, a tall, majestic and slim sitka spruce. Walt suggested I learn a new technique or sawing inside a bar of silver, like lace, or cut work. I knew the minute he said that, that this would be the best ring for C. The way to do this is by using this new tool to make a small hole thru the silver and then treading the saw blade thru the hole and gently sawing out the tree shape.

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So C’s ring began the same way with a bespoke inner ring, a bar of silver, shaped, filed and soldered together, filed some more and polished, and the outer ring began the same way as the inner, with a bespoke bar of silver, slightly narrower than the outer ring, shaped to make sure the size was correct and then flattened out again.

As with everything, practice makes…well…a better mess the second time than the time before, and after a prototype on some copper, the bar of silver was relatively easy, even if very time consuming. (by the way, filing silver must be a good work out for your upper arms because mine are killing me!)

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I got home around supper time and gave C her ring and showed her mine. She absolutely loved them both and immediately gave me a big hug and Instagramed it. LOL. I’ll take more photos in the day time so you can see the rings better but if you have any questions at all I’ll very happily find answers for you.

Oh, and by the way, C has asked for a sitka spruce necklace now…lol. A mother’s work is never done. :D

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Sharing with Mary at the Little Red House and with Create with Joy and Amaze me Monday

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

Post Valentine’s loveliness plus a new page

Today’s rain and cold is making us want to stay at home.
Hibernate. Have a bit more winter.
But we were out of fruit and so decided on a morning trip to Whole Foods.

Every time I’m there I think of how much I love to live with whole, natural, organic goods.
Do you like beeswax candles and fresh, handmade soaps? I do.

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Some of my friends make their own candles and soap. I’ve made candles before but not soap. I’d like to try to one day.

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It’s lovely at home today. It’s warm and fragrant with flowers.

Yesterday I made another page in my personal journal and it was late when I finished constructing it. This afternoon I sliced up a blood orange, lit some candles and had a good look at the page.

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I love these little candles. They are peony scented, made by a small Cornish company called St. Eval Candle Company. Robert gave them to me for Christmas. They are just so delicious.

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I’ve decided that I really love this page.
The words I found there say: “The problem was not sufficient to keep the drive down.”
To me, this represents my drive to constantly create things, to get over my problems and limitation, you know, not let anything hold me down. The words reminded me of weeds…misunderstood flowers really, plants that belong.

Weeds which are so powerful that they push thru cement and grow and flower in any condition, with any limitations. I love weeds and draw, paint, carve and sculpt them a great deal. I used some vibrant tissue rectangles, which came form a wonderful New Year’s Eve years ago, and collaged the other words away, then painted with my acrylics and inks. I’ve run out of mat medium and so used gloss medium and really love the glossy look. Proves once again that there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. :D

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Now I’ve made myself a cup of tea and am reading the next page. So far the words “experimental genius” have captured my attention. (By the way, this next page is the last page with writing. Not sure how I’ll construct the photo pages.)

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Experimental genius reminds me of R! This Valentine’s we are in different countries and he sent me a little video called “look what I found”. It shows all the flood water running across the field paths and I was completely ready to see some squeaky little thing paddling its head off, and, instead, there was an “I” and a heart and a “U” made from bright pebbles under that cold, running water. And his hand was red from the frozen water!

R is such a keeper! :D

Hope your weekend is lovely and tranquil and you’re all basking in the Valentine’s love, which hopefully sticks around in your heart all year.

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The Juicery Co. A new discovery in the ‘hood

Robert’s father was a naturopathic doctor. When I came down with this cold, R told me that his father would have ordered me in bed for two weeks on nothing but a fruit diet.
“But I can’t,” I said. “I’ve got too much to do!”

Now, I am a great believer that proper nutrition is the key to good health and Chloe has been making her smoothies lately and we’ve both seen an increase in energy, with the added bonus that this rotten little cold of mine has been beaten and sent packing.

So the other day, when we were at Whole Foods for lunch, the coffee bar was handing out samples of a carrot/ginger and a green juice; we grabbed one of each and gave them a try. (We thought that was a lovely coincidence because we were just talking about possibly getting another juicer for the house.)

Well, I hate to admit it, but to us these samples tasted absolutely horrible. (I guess we’re not as as juice savvy as we’d like to be.)

But yesterday we walked down to the ocean and back home to run some errands and C wanted to check out a new juice bar in the ‘hood not too far out of our way.

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Oh lordy, I’m so glad we did.

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This is Alex of The Juicery Co.

We walked into this lovely, warm space and Alex poured us a sample of the most delicious sprouted almond milk, fragrant with vanilla bean and cinnamon. Since C is lactose intolerant, we’re always looking for a lovely milk alternative and this one is heavenly.

Then Alex explained their zero waste policy of reusable cooler bags and returnable bottles. And they donate the left-over pulp to the local gardens for compost.

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I bought a bottle of the almond milk and Chloe got a bottle of greens. And we enjoyed them to the max. If you’re in The Lower Mainland, then I encourage you to give them a try…and they have a delivery scheme.

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We fully intend to be repeat offenders! :D