Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Tree's Christmas Message

Thank you Douglas, Fraser and Noble fir
Spruce, Ponderosa and Scotch pine
your scent is fresh, you stand divine
your branches, like limbs, bend and bow
with frosty tips and new fallen snow
Your forest is silent on this cool winter night
wee critters are ushered under blanket of white
take refuge dear bunnies, birds and deer
under strong graceful arms of fir and pine near
do not be afraid as they love you so
‘tis a season of happiness, they wish you to know

Merry Christmas
Michelle (me)

O Tannenbaum - Vienna Boys Choir
click here to listen

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hints of Christmas

I cannot believe there are so few days left of November and it is countdown to Christmas! I love this season and all the joy that accompanies this time of year. Out come the decorations ( it seems only a short while ago we packed them all away) and up go the colourful lights; cedar boughs, berries and all the beautiful Christmassy greenery from outdoors are collected for making wreaths. It is also time to start planning for baking of mince and cranberry tarts, lemon curd, shortbread and stollen - only to mention a few! I enjoy most of all the gathering of family and friends and watching children as they revel in all the excitement - it is a magical time for many of us. The joy of sharing and helping others is the greatest gift of all. My wish for this season is for happiness and love for all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In the Woods - Mosaic Monday

It has been one week since I last posted to my journal. We have had some serious rainfall these past few days on the west coast and experienced a rather exciting lightning storm on Friday evening - lots of activity in our sky lately. I rather enjoyed watching the storm - with some trepidation - but was happy to be indoors. Our poor little cat was tightly curled up under our dining room table, nestled securely on her favourite pillow - she did not enjoy the storm!

The skies cleared enough on Sunday that we were able to get outside and explore the little forest park which is a minute's walk from our property. There are many trails that meander through the park and which lead this way....and that way....up hills.....and down hills. There is a marvelous view from the top of the hill, where one can sit and look down upon Gary oaks and evergreen trees, the town of Sidney and the Patricia Bay inlet and the outer islands. The park is very typical of our west coast with ferns, cedars, arbutus, firs and abundant plant life with wildflowers that are quite impressive during the early Spring; also, for mushroom fans, it is a photographer's paradise. I admit that I am a little squeamish around fungi but am impressed by the variety of shapes, sizes and colours of mushrooms that seem to grow in the oddest of places. I love the wispy fairy-like lichen that hangs from fine branches and the emerald green moss that coats bare branches. I have a few photos that I will post for this journal entry. My intention was to take photos of pine cones and cedar boughs as we are nearing the Christmas season. The scent of cedar in the woods and the colours of the trees and natural vegetation fills me with such a wonderful 'Christmassy' feeling - the spirit of Christmas becomes so alive to me in such a natural environment.

Please check out the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Here is a recipe I would like to share which comes from the CBC radio (All Points West), hosted by Jo-Ann Roberts with her special guest Troy Townsin. Every Monday afternoon I eagerly listen for his new recipes (I am usually in the midst of driving home so cannot write them down - fortunately their website has all of Troy's recipes which are printable).

Thank you for viewing! Michelle

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mosaic Monday

There is a warm glow on this autumn night, we are cosy and dry by our fireside light...
we have finished dining and are ready for bed...
but I must post these pictures and my book must be read...
my thoughts they drift like a gentle breeze, of summer's flowers and autumn's leaves...
for these I must arrange below in a colourful mosaic good enough to show...
I wish you all a happy end to this day.....
and warm wishes and love I wish to convey.

Good evening to you and will see you again! Thank you dear Little Red House for your wonderful blog!

This mosaic is a compilation of my 'autumn' photographs. Thank you for viewing. Michelle

Michelle's Autumn Medley

Sunflower and Clouds

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

We are now settling into wintery weather and I am dreaming about food and craving thick home-made vegetable soup - my mother just happened to send me an email with a wonderful recipe for lentil and vegetable soup - which I would like to share with you. As a child growing up in the Spanish islands with my mother and sister, we traditionally had lentil or garbanzo bean soup as a starter to our main meal which we usually ate during mid-afternoon. Some of my fondest memories of living in Spain are of the food we ate - I certainly do miss Spanish meals but once in a while I try to recreate a few of my favourite recipes (with help from my mother who lives in the Canary Islands). I will be posting recipes throughout my journal and will be asking advice from my mother who has a very large ecclectic collection of tasty and delightful recipes. Let's start with this recipe. Thanks for viewing (and tasting!).

printable recipe - click here

  • lentils - 250 grams (slightly over 1 cup)
  • garlic - one whole head
  • onion - 1 large - quartered
  • Kasseler smoked pork chop - 1 large (or 250 grams other smoked pork or bacon)
  • ham or pork bone as for making stock
  • 4 medium carrots - sliced into coins
  • 2 stalks celery - diced
  • 5 medium potatoes - peeled and cut into 8ths
  • 6 flowerettes of cauliflower
  • green beans - handful sliced
  • tomato puré - small 4 oz tin
  • olive oil - 4 TBS
  • fresh garden herbs: 1 bay leaf, several sprigs thyme, Italian flatleaf parsley 2 or 3 sprigs
  • chicken stock 1 liter (4 cups) or water and 3 Knorr chicken stock cubes
  • salt & fesh ground pepper
  • water to cook lentils
  • vinegar - 1 teasp
  • garlic croutons - optional garnish
  1. Turn on oven to 350F. Put lentils in large heavy bottomed stew pot with water to cover plus about 2 inches, bring to boil and simmer 45 minutes. Check water level and add more as needed.
  2. Meanwhile put whole head of garlic into shallow baking pan together with quartered onion, Kasseler or smoked pork and ham or pork bone, drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven at medium heat about 45 minutes.
  3. Remove baking tray from oven when all is nicely browned and cut meat into small dice and add to lentil pot along with onion. Squeeze garlic from skin into lentil pot, adding ham/pork bone along with oil and juices scraped from roasting pan.
  4. Add rest of vegetables to lentils, chicken stock (or water and stock cubes), tomato puré, fresh herbs and bay leaf, parsley - reserving one sprig, fresh ground pepper. Bring to boil and simmer about 1 hour until vegetables are done, adding more water if needed.
  5. When vegetables are tender, remove ham/pork bones and any bare thyme stems from pot, Serve with a bit of chopped parsley and more fresh ground pepper. Homemade garlic croutons are also nice as a garnish.
Source: Recipe as I learned from a Mallorquin housewife years ago.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day......a day of reflection for all of us. A sad day for all of us. Rather than add sadness to my journal, I would like to add this lovely musical piece by Andre Rieu and trumpet player Melissa Venema.....Il Silenzio. Please click on link below to listen to this beautiful piece. Thank you. Michelle

Andre Rieu - Il Silenzio

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rainy Day Blues....

It has been a rainy and blustery day here on the west coast of British Columbia - but not wet enough to dampen spirits. I enjoy this time of year and the cosiness of being indoors by the crackling fireside with a good book - it is a time for cooking up comfort foods and listening to music or watching a good movie or documentary during the evening. Today I will venture out-of-doors (the rain has stopped for a while and the sun is peeking through the clouds) to fill my lungs with some fresh woodsy air with scent of cedar and fir. My plan is to amble my way down to the vegetable kiosk in quest of butternut squash - to be made into thick and creamy butternut squash soup. Don't worry, I will share this recipe (from my mother) with you too! But first, I want to share more photo collages (oh no! not again!!) from some of my older pictures. Though we are nearing winter - the trees are almost bare and northern winds are beginning to blow..... I would like to share a few 'springy' images from our yard......as soon, my photo images will change to reflect our west coast winter (our winters are not all that bad - flowers are still in bloom) - be prepared! Michelle

printable version of recipe
Roasted Garlic & Bu
tternut Soup
6 - 8 servings (My mother's recipe)
Sharon (Canarybird) - click link here to visit Sharon's beautiful website
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash - after baking there should be about 2 cups of mashed squash
  • 1 lg Spanish onion - peeled and cut into 8 chunks
  • 1 medium leek - washed & chopped, including best-looking top green leaves
  • 1 teasp cumin
  • 1 head of garlic - sliced across top to expose cloves
  • 2 - 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 200 ml (about 3/4 cup) light cream or half & half
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • homemade garlic croutons (optional) & chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Utensils needed: oven or toaster oven and roasting pan or tray, frying pan & lid, blender or food processor, large heavy saucepan with lid.
  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 300F
  2. Split, quarter and seed butternut squash, and arrange on roasting tray together with cut chunks of onion and head of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast 1 hr or until all is golden and tender, including garlic.
  3. Clean and chop leek, including top green leaves. Sauté in a little oil for in frying pan 5 minutes.
  4. Then add 2 cups of chicken broth, turn down to simmer with lid on until tender - about 12 - 15 minutes.
  5. When butternut etc is cooked, scrape it from skin and place in food processor along with the onion, cumin, and some pepper.
  6. Squeeze the garlic cloves - which should be soft and buttery - from their skins and add to food processor.
  7. Add some of the rest of the chicken broth and process to a puré. Gradually add the leek and liquid from pan. Process until all is smooth, adding more of the chicken broth as needed.
  8. Place the mixture in the saucepan and gently heat. Add the rest of the broth as needed for the desired consistency.
  9. Add the cream, reserving 2 TBS for swirling as a garnish when served. Check the seasoning - adding salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Serve with a swirl of cream, chopped parsley and small homemade garlic-flavoured croutons.
Sharon (Canarybird)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Photo Collages

I have been having fun lately putting together a group of collages with a few of my older photos - some of which can been seen throughout this blog. These pictures I took on Savary Island, it is a magical place with amazing plant life and beautiful old-growth trees. I have taken hundreds of photos there over the years and will probably take hundreds more in the years to come. Please note the 'nude beach' sign is for 'fun' only - the locals of Savary Island have some interesting signs posted throughout the island! I wish I had more photos of their locally made street signs as they are quite charming - my favourite sign on Savary reads "please drive slowly, Grandparents playing".

The island is almost tropical with white sandy beaches (you can read about it in my previous posts) - and is lush with vegetation. The month of May is a beautiful time of year to visit the island as it becomes so green and lush with new plants, the Spanish broom is in bloom, wildflowers and floxglove are bursting forth and the verdant forests and meadows almost glow and shimmer in the sunlight. The tall green grasses and billowing ferns adorn pathways and small narrow roadways. Towering old cedars and firs stand like wise and proud old souls, truly worthy of such veneration and respect. Our First Nations people were once established on this island and were able to live from the fish and plant life here - how serene and healthy a lifestyle.

I cannot capture the full beauty of this island with my photos but they do offer a small glimpse.

Thank you. Michelle

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Whimsical Memories

One of my favourite childhood artists was Cicely Mary Barker, born in Croydon, Surrey, England. Her artwork fascinated me as a child and took my imagination to wonderful places - I believed every flower and plant was inhabited by a special garden fairy and that they protected our flowers and trees. I was careful never to step on or pick any flowers from the garden! As a mature adult, I am still fascinated by her whimsical artwork and have passed along, through books and stories, the fascination of this art to my daughter and nieces. I do not usually express my whimsical thoughts about fairy art to anyone but thought it might be fun and delightful for this journal posting. Though I would love to post all of her illustrations, I will post only a few here. Thank you for viewing. Michelle

All illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween !

Oh fairies, pixies and elves tonight
do not venture out or you may get a fright
‘tis an evening for witches on broomsticks to fly
and phantoms to whisper and gently drift by
do not be frightened by the lament of groaning trees
or the screeching owl or rustling of leaves
uneasy winds rattle doors and swing lonely gates
causing villains and goblins to run in haste
shadows are cast and the moon is aglow
this evening is ready for its spooky show
oh jack-o-lanterns help light the way through
this dark and chilling night
protect fairies, pixies and elves
from too frightening a sight!
- by Michelle (me)

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