Friday 29 June 2012

News of the Day

This is my brother Doug, who, as you can see, is an enthusiastic cyclist.  I'd go so far as to say he's more than an enthusiast.  
He cycles about 1000 km (621.37 miles) every month!

Last weekend, Doug participated in Ryder Hesjesdal's Tour de Victoria.  

For those of you not familiar with Ryder, he's a local boy made good; the first Canadian cyclist ever to win the Giro d'Italia.  

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Anyway, back to the Tour de Victoria:  

The ride was conceived by Ryder Hesjesdal and Seamus McGrath as a means of showcasing the incredible cycling routes here on Vancouver Island.  

Cyclists riding the Tour de Victoria have an opportunity to choose from three routes: a 50 km route (31 miles), a 90  km route (55.92 miles), and a 140 km route (87 miles).  

Doug rode the 140 km route and completed his ride in 4 hours, 54 minutes, making an average speed of 28.5 kmh (17.7 mph).  

Are you impressed?  

I sure am!  

Here's a map of the route.  You can click on it to enlarge the image.

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While I'm terribly impressed with Doug's achievement, I'm no cyclist myself.  
I do love to walk though, and Victoria is a city very hospitable to pedestrians.  

I thought it might be nice to show you a few of my favourite Victoria spots.

This is the legislature, our provincial capital building.  Doug works here, as MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for the constiuency of Nanaimo - North Cowichan.

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The buildings were designed by Francis Rattenbury and are quite beautiful both inside and out.  Public tours are available and it's a fun way to spend an afternoon, checking out the beautiful stone work, stained glass widows, murals, and fountains.  You'll learn a little provincial history along the way too.

Directly across the street from the legislature is the Royal BC Museum

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We lived near the museum for a time as kids, and visited it nearly every single day.  It's still a wonderful place to explore, with outstanding exhibits.  
I can easily pass an entire day there,
exploring the First Nations gallery,

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visiting the natural history gallery and saying hello to the woolly mammoth 
(We call him Fuzzy :),

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and exploring the old town, mine, cannery, and dioramas constructed within the building.

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The Empress Hotel is the third stately building on Victoria's inner harbour; across the street from the museum and kitty corner to the legislature.  

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Like the legislature, the hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury and, even though the building was renovated and expanded in the 1980's, it remains strikingly beautiful.  

The older part of the hotel, which houses the tea lobby, the dining room, the Library Bar, and the Bengal Lounge retains its original details, including some amazingly intricate carved wood paneling and ceilings.  

Every Victoria visit takes me to Beacon Hill Park.  

Since 1882, the park has formed the heart of the city and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.  I love the park for its beautiful gardens, but also for the peacocks that wander the grounds near the circle drive,

the herons that nest in the trees, 

the waterfowl in the many ponds, 

and the turtles often seen sunning themselves in the afternoon.

All of these wonderful things can be seen within a kilometer's walk of each other and, if you have the time, you can enjoy a walk along the seaside too!

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You can see why I love it there.  :)

Thanks for letting me take you on a walking tour.

Now it's time to say goodnight.  
Wishing you sweet dreams and a happy tomorrow.

Monday 25 June 2012

News of the Day

This lovely woman is my sister-in-law Leanne.  

Leanne and my niece Brooklynne are both enthusiastic highland dancers.  They've been very busy the past few weeks; preparing for their end-of-year recital, and fund raising to take their troupe - Kathy White Highland Dancers - to compete in Scotland.  Leanne has been pitching in tirelessly, manning hot dog sales, instructing young dancers, practicing, and helping to both organize and promote the troupe's performances.

Their upcoming trip has me thinking about all things Scottish.

Whenever I want to do a little armchair traveling, National Geographic comes to mind.  Today I enjoyed this photo gallery, showing a group of diverse Scottish images

and made a special trip, just to the Hebrides.

I also enjoyed some beautiful, contemporary watercolour paintings through the virtual gallery at The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.

Of course, no trip would be complete for me without visiting a kitchen or two.
I read some entertaining posts and recipes at A Wee bit of Cooking

and explored the wide range of recipes on the Rampant Scotland website.

I finished my visit with a tour of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

All in all a lovely day!
I traveled a long way.

Time to call it a day and bid you all a good night.
Thanks for joining me.

Saturday 23 June 2012

News of the Day

One day a man was walking along a beach and noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it in the ocean.  Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”  The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.  The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”  “Son,” the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach, and hundreds of starfish!  You can’t make a difference.”  After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said…”I made a difference for that one.”  - Loren Elseley

I took a week off writing.  I missed it.  It's good to be back.

Not writing left me more time to read and, in doing so, I found some wonderful inspiration.  There are some remarkable people out there. 

 On Thursday morning I found this collection from Buzzfeed, of 21 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity.  What a perfect way to start the day!

Then I read a truly inspiring story at Huffington Post about The Nine Nanas; a group of women who kept their great kindness and generosity a secret for more than three decades.  These ordinary women provided me with a happy reminder that we're all capable of extending kindness and care to those around us.

I saw a video on about Nicholas Winthrop, a man who saved more than six hundred children during the second world war.  His secret heroism wasn't discovered until he was in his 80's.  

This remarkable man was also awarded the MBE for his contributions to the Abbeyfield Society, helping to provide affordable sheltered housing for elders 
throughout the United Kingdom.

Local heroes like Betty Anne Devitt inspire me too.  Betty Anne volunteered at our local food bank every day for more than two decades.  She never asked for thanks, never wanted a fanfare about what she did.  She just showed up, rolled up her sleeves, and pitched in, quietly lending a hand to many people within our community. I shared a piece about her here last May.

All these different and diverse people, all doing remarkable things, each in their own particular way:  

Why am I writing about them now?

I was feeling discouraged when I took my break, and their fine examples cheered my heart.

We all need a little inspiration now and then, and a reminder that it lies within all of us;
that potential to do something really great.

Monday 18 June 2012

Sunshine Award

I feel so blessed to have connected with some wonderful people since starting my blogs.  People that I have never met in person but have gotten to know through our mutual likes and things we find inspiring in our lives.  People that have shown such generosity, love, humor and just downright ‘care’ for me and mine.

Tara at Della Rose Living is one of those people I speak of, and she has generously given me  the Sunshine Award; an award given by bloggers to other bloggers.

Tara has been a generous motivator to me and my blog.  Her positive attitude and beautiful work have provided me an excellent example, encouraging me along the way as I have worked to build my blogs and my Facebook page.  I love her passion for life, and her compassionate nature.  A great lady indeed, and one that I’m happy to have connected with.

Part of the award is giving it to other bloggers that have inspired you!   Passing it on, if you will.   Below are the rules:

Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. Answer 10 questions about yourself. Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award! Don’t forget to copy and paste the award on your blog!
So here goes!
  1. Favorite color: Rainbow.  I can't pick a favourite colour because I love them all!
  2. Favorite animal: Great blue heron.  These amazing birds are a common sight on the shores and estuaries here.  Ungainly in appearance and perfectly graceful in motion, these ancient birds have become a personal totem for my husband and I.
  3.  Favorite number: I really don't have one.  I'm "math impaired" and would avoid numbers entirely if I could!
  4. Favorite drink: Tea.  There are few things better than being curled up on the couch on a rainy day with a hot cup of tea and a good book.
  5. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook, although I'm annoyed at their recent glitches and "filtering."  Twitter is too noisy for me and feels like a bunch of people who are all busy talking to themselves.  Now if they'd included Pinterest in this list...  ;)
  6. Good Book or a Good Movie: Book every time.  Your imagination is always going to be better than someone else’s and, besides, I rarely have the patience to sit through an entire film!
  7. My Passion: Oh, gosh!  Do I have to pick just one?  If so, I it ulitmately comes down to the people I love.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.
  8. Giving or getting presents:   Giving.  
  9. Favorite day of the year:  Every day brings its own special gift.
  10. Favorite flowers: That depends upon the time of year.  Each season brings its own beauty.  Right now I'm in love with the tangles of wild rose and honeysuckle in the hedgerows, and the swaths of white daisies growing among the tall grass in the fields. 
And now to pass on to 10 other bloggers in no particular order…

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist because he helps me to remember that the things that make us happiest are not really things at all.

Randy Hall of Photography by Randy Hall because he shares my love of this beautiful place and helps me to see familiar sights with new eyes.

Kristen of We Are THAT Family because she has a unique ability to enjoy, and share, the happiness she finds in every day life.

Rebecca Subbiah of Chow and Chatter because her Facebook page posts are like chatting with a chum, and her blogs are always both interesting and informative.

The Happy Houswife shares recipes I remember from my grandmothers' kitchens, together with charming glimpses of life in Wales.  Her husband shares his own particular brand of quirky humour through his Facebook page, The Henpecked Husband

Jams'n'Pans shares delicious recipes from Brighton on her blog, and charming posts about day-to-day life on her Facebook page, together with some gorgeous pictures of beautiful food.

Michael Wurm of Inspired by Charm, brightens my days with lovely images, beautiful food, and positive thoughts.

Donna from Funky Junk Interiors shares interesting pictures and places from the Fraser Valley. She inspires me with her wonderfully creative approach to fashioning beautiful things from found objects.

And I've run out of space on my list!  If your name is not here, it's not because I don't admire your work.  I do!  I'm inspired every day by the work of my blogging friends.  My life is richer because of you.  :)

Thank you again Tara for giving me the award!  A true honor coming from you sweet lady!


Thursday 14 June 2012

News of the Day

I don't much like weeks where I feel like I'm slogging along toward the finish line.
And this has definitely been one of those weeks.
 Still, although I'm cranky, I'm well aware that I'm a fortunate woman.
I have a comfortable home, a loving family, and a good job.
I live in a beautiful place, where on any given day, a person can be blessed with a sight as wonderful as this.

This swan family - mother, father, and five cygnets - live in a small pond near a larger lake only a couple of kilometers from my home.  Most of our swans fly north during the summer months but this little family have decided to stay in our area year-round.  I guess plentiful food, absence of hunters, and warmer temperatures are all strong enticements to remain. I sometimes wonder if they feel they're spending summer at a resort!

It's good to look for blessings when you're feeling under the weather.  I know it always cheers me up.

We live in the middle of some incredibly productive farmland, with ocean around us, and have access to wide variety of locally produced foods.

Every spring, we enjoy the spot prawn fishery.  These prawns, among the most sustainably fished in the world, used to be caught almost exclusively for export.  Now about 10% of the catch is purchased fresh, by local residents.
Taste Buds' Spot Prawns on Toast is a near-perfect way to enjoy them.

We can buy wonderful goats milk cheese here, from Hilary's Cheese.  Their chevre would work very well in these stuffed portabello mushrooms with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese from A Food Centric Life.

Vancouver Island Salt Company gathers salt water from nearby Cherry Point and reduces it in cauldrons purpose built by the company's owner, Andrew Shepherd.
I'm dying to try using this wonderful, local product to make these homemade sea salt caramels from Judicial Peach

Every spring we see an abundance of stinging nettles along our local trails.  They're too mature now for me to gather the tender green tips for cooking but while they were at their prime the Cowichan Pasta Company used them to make stinging nettle rotini, which is still available frozen.  Made entirely from locally sourced ingredients, this dark green pasta would pair very well with a creamy sauce.  Maybe a light alfredo sauce like this one from Science of Eating?

And tea, beautiful tea:  TeaFarm grows herbs and blends them with imported, organically grown, black teas.  Any one of those black tea blends could be used to infuse the fruit in my Welsh Tea Cake.  I'll be heading out that way before I bake the next one.
Imagine raisins and currants infused with black lavender tea!

Now, see?
All this happy imagining has cheered me right up!
I'm off to bed now, to dream pleasant, foodie dreams.
Good night all.  

Wednesday 13 June 2012

News of the Day

I've been feeling pretty crummy.  
I was up sick almost all night last night, slept late this morning, and struggled through the day today.  It was like trying to work my way uphill in roller skates.  

When I'm feeling poopy, I want to do things that comfort me.  I couldn't curl up in bed with a book but I could, and did, do some reading, letter writing, and knitting.

Do you know about Ravelry?  It's knitting heaven:  An entire website of knitting patterns, project ideas and blogs.  I spent a lot of time there today.  If you're a knitter, you'll want to check it out too. is anther great site for knitters.  They have a sweater pattern generator and a knitting stitch reference worth bookmarking for frequent reference.

Crocheting makes me happy too, and Etsy is a great source of patterns.  One of my favourite vendors is  The patterns there are just plain fun.

This lego blanket from All Things Bright and Beautiful caught my eye too.  I know a few little boys who would just love this.

If you're not a knitter but love to make projects using knits, there are all sorts of fun ideas on Pinterest.  

I think this felted sweater blanket from Yellow Suitcases Studio is particularly beautiful

and these pillows from Centsational Girl look really snuggly.

Now it's time for me to find some pillows of my own. 
It's past my bedtime.
Goodnight everyone.
Sweet dreams.

Monday 11 June 2012

News of the Day

Ah, Monday!

My weekends these days are often spent chipping away at an endless chore list, but this Saturday I took the day off to go visiting.  Lots of walking in my day,
and looking about at my surroundings.  It reminded me to take the time to appreciate
this beautiful place I live in.

I took this picture on Saturday morning, in Central Saanich.
The photo was taken from the side of the highway.  I had to pull over to snap the shot because I was so captivated by the electric green of some of the fields, and how it contrasted with the dark browns of the newly plowed and planted soil.

But even living in a place so beautiful as this, I dream of seeing other landscapes.
I'm a great armchair traveler, and ever grateful for the way the internet affords me glimpses of places I can only visit in my imagination.

Today was an armchair travel day.

After I finished touring Balzano, I popped over to Rebecca's Tuesday Market board on Pinterest to see what other beautiful markets I could browse through today.

(photo by Mary Hartley via Pinterest)

All that shopping made me think about cooking, and since it's Meatless Monday, I thought some vegetarian dishes were in order.

I traveled to India to sample some flavourful meat free meals.

and Cookie + Kate's tomato and lentil curry will find its way to our table soon, I'm sure.

And now it's time for me to travel once again, this time off to the Land of Knod.
Good night. 
I hope your Monday was a happy one.

Friday 8 June 2012

News of the Day

Did you know that the first commercial ice cream was made on June 8, 1786?
I didn't know either, but I’m sure glad it was!

My recipe for Rhubarb Custard Ice Cream got some nice recognition today:
It was featured on Gallery of Favorites.
Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife host the Gallery of Favorites.  They've been very encouraging to me as I've built my blogs and Facebook page and I appreciate their kindness.  Please do stop by and check out the Gallery of Favorites.  There are always wonderful links there.

I had some fun checking out other ice cream recipes on line today.  Sweet and salty works for me, so Love From the Oven’s dark chocolate ice cream in pretzel cones sounds like a perfect combination.

This Ocean Pie by The Nature of Grace isn't ice cream but it is a chilled dessert, and it was 'way too cool not to share.

This day in history also marks the advent of the vacuum cleaner.  Ives W. McGaffey recevied a US patent for the suction vacuum cleaner on June 8, 1869 and - while it is certainly not as much fun as a nice ice cream cone - I'm grateful for my vacuum cleaner too...especially since I have a husband who is willing to operate it!   ;^)

The blogosphere is a treasure trove of housekeeping tips.
Here are a couple that caught my eye today:

This Old House suggests placing a coffee filter in the bottom of your plant pots before adding soil.  It keeps the soil from running out the hole in the bottom of the pot while still allowing water to drain through.

Dryer balls really do help to soften your clothes, and I think these ones would be kinder to fibers than those plastic ones from the store.  Lots of things in favour of these dryer balls:  They'll spare your clothes, save you some money, and help to empty the "Department of Lost Socks."

Good stuff right?  But my favourite housekeeping tip of the day came on this sign, Handmade by Is.

Smart woman, that Erma!

So that's it for me today.
Happy Friday!
Happy Weekend too.  :^)