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Saturday, 29 March 2014


The wildflowers are blooming on M Hill.  That's what a friend tells me.  So I scramble over rocks and up dry stream beds.  I have a camera around my neck and a toddler on my back -- a bit ambitious perhaps, but how else will I see these seasonal beauties?

From the parking lot I start along a forested trail, but it doesn't take long to climb up from the fir canopy into meadows of moss, punctuated by outcroppings of bare bedrock.

There's little soil here, so trees grow small.  Arbutus, twisted and red, was the first coastal tree that I learned to identify.  Garry Oak are less showy, but utterly unique to this region.  These trees are survivors.  Stunted and gnarly, they look it.

But it's the flowers I came to see.  They're subtle, small enough to be missed.  


Fawn Flower.  Shooting Star.  Satin Flower.  They sprout from the shallowest of earth and fling their fragile hearts open to the spring blusters.  What brave souls.

I lean over a rock, sprawl on the damp ground, contort myself around a shrub to meet them.  They drip dew and quietly conjure the sun out from behind the clouds.  Hello spring.

Linking, for the last time this season, to Sunlit Sunday at My Little Home and Garden.  Thank you for hosting, Karen.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My One and Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

My recipe repertoire evolves constantly.  The standby suppers of three years ago have vanished from the menu.  New foods have taken their places.  Tastes change.  Health ideals change.  The rhythms of life change.  Only a handful of recipes survive for the long haul.

My Chocolate Chip Cookies belong to this select group of foods.  The recipe is hand copied on a student-basic ruled index card.  It's not even a full recipe, just a list of ingredients and an oven temperature followed by the exclamation pointed exhortation "Don't Overbake!"  It's been in my recipe box for as long as I've had a recipe box.

Of course I've tweaked the formula over the years, but they still come out of my oven on a regular basis, hot and gooey and smelling like home.  Soft and chewy but not too sweet, these cookies are everything that cookies should be.  Whole wheat flour gives rich flavour and fends off guilt, while chocolate chips aplenty made them decadent as can be.

My One and Only
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe 

1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
21/2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1-2 cups chocolate chips*
Cream butter and sugars together with mixer.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy.  Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl; add to sugar mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by rustic spoonfulls onto baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  Don't over bake!  Makes about 4 dozen.
*Try a combination of chocolate chips and walnuts, or raisins, or dried cranberries and almonds (then use almond extract in place of vanilla).  These cookies are marvelously adaptable.

Do you have a recipe that has stood the test of time?  I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunlit Sunday with Real Sunshine

It's raining again at the moment, but the sun shone this week.  All week.  I'm not talking about a metaphorical sunniness or a symbolic scrap of yellow, not a transitional breath of light between showers.  The sun shone.  All week.  Temperatures crept up.  Spirits soared.  Croci opened wide in their last hurrah and I, shovel in hand, inhaled the aroma of fresh soil and the food that it will grow.  Hallelujah, it's spring.

I'm joining Karen at My Little Home and Garden for Sunlit Sunday.

Friday, 14 March 2014

This Moment: She Sells Sea Shells

Joining SouleMama and others in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Stitching Bliss

Evenings are for remembering to think and breathe, for rhythmic pursuits that leave the imagination free to roam.  

Lately, I've been filling my evenings with short and long stitch in three shades of creamy yellow.  It's the precision of this work that appeals to me, as well as the freedom.  There are no patterns or counted stitches, just an outline -- a suggestion of shape -- and floss to paint with one tiny stitch at a time.

My mind wonders back through the day to sift and interpret, to remember and smile.  I have conversations with people I saw today and characters from books I'm currently reading.  I think of my mother-in-law who gave me this set of linen place mats from her stash because she doesn't like embroidery.  I wonder if I'll ever finish them and realize that I don't really care.  On the way up to bed, I notice my cup of tea, still half full and cold.

What do you do to unwind at end of day?

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Words and Letters

This month's photo challenge has been the most fun yet.  I love words, and there were so many possible directions to take this challenge:  Signs, books, a photographic alphabet -- all beckon to me.  As you'll see momentarily, I have focused on signs -- words found and photographed in the wild -- but I may well do a little extracurricular shooting around this theme.  My inner English teacher demands it.

I like the puny potential here.  Can cracked souls be fixed like Birkenstocks?

Inspired by the slightly artsy feel of this image, I had fun playing with the different filters in Picasa.  I'm amazed at how much the mood of an image can be manipulated.

A shortcut through China Town.  I zoomed out from the neon Fantan Cafe sign for a little context and captured exactly the sort of scene that I'd been after for last month's challenge on street photography.  Maybe I just had to get warmed up.

Finally, a little graffiti scratched onto the sea wall.  Who is Kurtis?  Was he here to kiss the girl who wrote this or was he obliviously living his own life somewhere else?

This picture benefited from my Picasa play.  Here I increased the colour saturation a little and brought up the shadows in order to emphasize the depth of colour and texture in the cement wall.

I'm wondering, how much post-processing do you typically do on your photos?  What program do you use?  Do you tweak all, most or just a select handful of your photos?

Thanks again to Donna at A Personal Photo Challenge for another stimulating camera assignment.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Into the Garden

After days and days of downpour it was finally time to get outside.  Rain or no rain, here I come.  Imagine my surprise when, emerging from the house, I didn't get wet.  In fact, my walk to the grocery store got brighter and brighter.  "Sunny?" questions Miss S.  "Yes" I tell her, "look, there's a patch of blue sky."  She was tickled pink.  Blue sky.  What a funny thing.

Here she sits, enjoying that fleeting patch of sky and munching an apple while I inspect the garden and officially start spring clean up.

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Slow Start and Seagulls

I'm enjoying a slow start to this Monday morning -- reading blogs, reading the latest from Ukraine.  I'm drinking coffee and looking out at the drizzle while Miss S brings me pieces from her puzzles.  It was one of those weekends that need to be recovered from.  Instead of lounging at home with a tummy full of pancakes and a tall stack of story books, I was up bright and early on Saturday morning to volunteer at the high school Provincial Debate Tournament.  The weekend also included a late night chatting with out of town friends and our regular Sunday morning commitments at church.  It was all enjoyable, even exhilarating, reminiscent of a different life stage and some joys and sorrows past.

Life is a little simpler now and a lot slower, centred on family and home.  It's also a season, one that will be gone before I know it, so I'm enjoying the opportunity to start my Monday slowly.  

Switching topics, these pictures were taken late last week when very spring-like weather beckoned us to the beach.  We walked along the rocky shore, watching seabirds circle and swoop.  Miss S coined a sound effect for the slight splash and bob when a seagull lands on the water -- Boing!  We waded in to the tops of our gum boots and ignored the evil eye cast by parents of less suitably clad children who did the same.  Spring was here for a full afternoon.