Friday, April 30, 2010

cameras, concerts and chocolate cake...

My camera can do many only to the expertise of the photographer. And that is quite my case.

But...if you would like a photograph highlighting the colour purple...I can do that. If there is another accent colour you would prefer...I would have to bring my binder (that would be the camera manual I printed off from the on-line version)...and do a little step-by-step adjusting. I may be slow...but eventually I will figure out a few of the camera's features.

Last night we had the privilege of attending a spring our neighbourhood elementary school. That would be the very same school where I took part in the spring concert as a student...some five decades ago. I played a recorder way back then...and knew only one song I recall.

Well...some things have changed over the years. There were no recorders around last night...but several hundred enthusiastic students sang, danced and acted out the message that we can each do our part to make the world a better place. They did a fabulous job! And when the show was over...we had a quick stop at our place for a well deserved treat for Emme & Spencer. They had their just dessert.
Have a great weekend...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

my collection of great canadian literature....

They may have Martha...and Paula...and the Barefoot Contessa...but we have our own favorites here in Canada. Have you ever heard of Jean Parè Alberta native who has become a household name in Canadian kitchens over the past few decades? She is the author of an entire library of Company's Coming cookbooks...and I must admit that I have a goodly number of her books on my shelf.
For many years Jean had a catering business in her hometown of Vermillion, Alberta...and with her success came the constant request for recipes. That led to the publishing of her very first Company's Coming cookbook in 1981...and a new one annually for the next six years. Today they are more than eight Company's Coming cookbooks published every year. (Unfortunately my library won't have room for them all!)

Jean's positive attitude, warm personality and her down-home recipes have helped to make her Canada's most popular cookbook author. She has sold over 27 million the recipient of many awards and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada...our country's highest lifetime achievement honour.

I still remember the first Company's Coming cookbook that I was called Muffins and More...and became a fast favorite! Someone must have needed that book more than I did... I see it is no longer on the shelf.

My most recent CC addition is Healthy in a Hurry....which was a gift from a dear friend not so long ago.

It's a collection of nourishing recipes that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less....I like that kind of fast food. I've tried several of the recipes recently...

...including a new way to cook brussels sprouts...a vegetable that finds it's way into my shopping cart only when hubby comes along to the grocery store. Dressed up with bacon, red onions, herbs and olive oil...and broiled for some 20 minutes...they become almost delicious!

Yesterday we had 'sesame pork skewers' served with 'fragrant rice'...simply special!

If you have need of one more cookbook...I'd recommend one from the Company's Coming family. And if you are just visiting Canada...and need a good souvenir...let me suggest you take home a Company's Coming cookbook. Is it possible to have too many cookbooks?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

hats off to...

Selma....the lady who wears the hat...and so much more!

It's Wednesday...and I have another wonderful woman that I would like to pay tribute to today. We go back a long way...although she likely has no recollection of me from some five decades ago. I was just one of a hundred students who attended our local country school...where she was the school janitor...and knew us all by name. She lived across the road...though it seemed she was always at the school. I don't recall her wearing a hat on the job...but I can still see her in her work dress....a smile on her face and a kind word for every student. That's how I knew her then.

Now I know her in a different way. She is the lady who always wears a hat...walks with a purposeful gait...exudes enthusiasm, vitality and JOY. Oh...and she still always has a smile on her face and a kind word to those she meets...some things haven't changed. She will be 97 years old this summer...and I see her in church on Sundays. And as I was thinking of doing a post about Selma...I realized I had no photos. Until...

...I looked through my files and found a picture of a crowd in the church lobby on a Sunday morning. There in the middle of the crowd...was a lady in a hat...none other than Selma.

And then I borrowed this picture from another publication that featured an article about the lady who bakes 'pie by the yard'. That would be her! She is always sharing gifts from her kitchen. Three years ago we hosted a conference at our church...with more than 500 people in attendance. Though the food had all been pre-arranged...a large supply of piroshki arrived fresh from the oven as the conference began. Bakery bought goodies could not compare...and soon everyone was wondering who had supplied the light, flaky fruit pastries. It came as no surprise to me that it was Selma...who never quits giving to others.

“I just love to bake,” says Selma Fleming. “I’m so grateful to God for his goodness and for allowing me to enjoy what I do.” She bakes regularly. She bakes generously. She usually gives away seven of the eight delicious multi-grain loaves of bread she makes in a normal-sized batch.

Sometimes people leave a sack of flour or sugar outside her door – whether as a thank you, or to encourage further baking, she doesn’t know. Neighbours also bring vegetables for her homemade soups.

“God is so good,” she says.

Selma loves God...believes in prayer...and has joy in her family. She spreads her joy around. What a wonderful example she is to all who have had the privilege of knowing her.

Have a wonderful Wednesday...

(words in italics taken from featured article)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I liked the house. I always have!

Made of stone...with stained glass windows. It had character.

At one time it was surrounded by shrubs...and trees...quite properly clothed.

But it seems some who lived there in the recent past never treated it too gently.

I was rather saddened one day when I drove by and saw the smoke arising.

This is all that remains today.

And the trees where the eagles rested...and I often stopped to take photos...have disappeared as well.

I'm left with the memories...and a few photos.

Nothing remains the same...especially not this neighbourhood.

And for the record...the blue skies you see in the photos above...are also just a memory. It seems spring is teasing us this year.

Monday, April 26, 2010

rollin' down the river...

The mighty Fraser it is often called...flows through our valley and out to the ocean in Vancouver.

For the most part we look for order to cross to the other side. Yesterday we decided to travel on the river...rather than over it! We found an entire busload of friends who were all ready to explore the river...buttonholed another friend into driving the bus...ordered up some sunshine and blue skies especially for the day...and drove out to the pier in New Westminster. There we boarded a paddlewheeler riverboat...and began our excursion.

There's nothing like a narrated river tour to learn a little (a lot) about the river we cross over so often. The Fraser River begins as a clear stream some nine hundred miles from here...near Mt. Robson. It is still known as the number one salmon river in the world...though we know salmon stock have been dwindling in recent years. We saw fish jumping...and even a harbour seal as we cruised the river.

Yesterday we passed beneath the bridges. It was a whole new perspective!

Some even opened up as we approached!

Though the river was not exactly a hub of activity yesterday...we saw freighters being unloaded...

...and lumber being towed upstream.

And off on the side channels...we passed by entire villages of houseboats.

Some came with appropriate 'The White House' pictured above.


...and men riding logs...all part of our Fraser River experience.

And for those who might be interested in real estate on the banks of the river...a row of quaint homes had some appeal.

Several hours later we were back in New Westminster...after a most enjoyable afternoon on a paddle wheeler riverboat...and with a much better idea of what actually happens on the Fraser.
From our vantage point midstream...we also noticed a bike path along the shore. Maybe we'll check that out one day.

Soon we were back at the pier...

...and bidding farewell to Frank...our trusty tour guide from Paddlewheeler Riverboat Cruises.

Oh...and our trusty bus driver was also a Frank. was a good Sunday outing. I'd recommend it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

he scared me away...

So who would be scared away by a Jack Russell terrier? Though I am not one is afraid of dogs...I happen to think dogs have their place...and a hair salon is not one of them!

Here's a bit of my hair-cutting history. Over the past two decades...I have visited three different hairstylists. First there was the guy...who was well-known in our community...and happened to have a shop in our neighbourhood for awhile. It was convenient...and he gave the best none. But to appointment is meant to be kept from both ends...and after being stood up twice, I decided to find a new hair stylist. (Who hangs a note on the door saying it is too hot to cut hair...please reschedule your appointment?)

Enter my next hair stylist. She was bubbly...and pleasant...and worked out of a shop in her home. The haircuts were fine...but I like to relax when I'm having my haircut....and she never quit talking...even for a moment. And so I thought I'd try someone new.

So for the past few years...I have been seeing a gal who runs her own shop...and has other employees working for her. I liked her haircuts...she let me fall asleep while she did my hair...and all was good. Until...the Jack Russell arrived on the scene. She had a new dog...and decided he would make a great workplace pet. He had his basket at the door...and stayed there during my first visit after his arrival. I thought I might just be able to ignore him. My next visit was one I will never forget! No sooner was I settled in my chair...then he came over to see if possibly he could sit on my lap. When that never worked out...he ran around at my feet...making all kinds of noises. It turned out the dog was sick...and said hairstylist needed to take a break to clean up the mess. Needless to was not a spa-like atmosphere. I thought I would give Russell one more chance....and if he never behaved on my next would be my last.

Oh...oh...there he was at the door as I arrived. I think he quite likes me...since he tried for my lap again as soon as I was settled in my chair. And...though I had no issues with the haircut...I knew it would be my last visit to this particular place.

It's time for a haircut again. Where should I go? The guy with the best haircuts is still cutting...and the girl who loves to chatter is still in business...and then there are some one-hundred beauty salons listed in the yellow pages. But I have decided to choose none of the above...and am going with a blogging connection...just for fun. I checked out the profile of a new commenter on my blog...and discovered she has a salon in town. I'm off to meet Cindy today...and get my hair cut...all at the same time. How fun is that?

Oh...and if she has a Jack Russell terrier...I will only visit once!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

six degrees of separation...

There is a theory out there that everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth. I am beginning to think that maybe that could be changed to four steps..or even three. Especially after all the connections that I have made with blogging friends this past week.

As I went for a walk last night (before the hockey game with the good ending)...I got to thinking about how small the world really is!

I met my blogging friend Pondside for dinner earlier this she happened to be in my neighbourhood on business. We live many hours apart...grew up in different parts of the country...and met for the first time just over a year ago. It wasn't long before we made connections...she knew some of the same people we knew. I think she may even be spending time with a mutual acquaintance as we speak.

I met another blogger a few months ago...a gal who lives in Pondside's part of the world. Though we have not met in person...we discovered that we know many people in common. I have known her sister for years...taught her nephew in Sunday School...her brother was a pastor at our church some years ago...she knows my uncle and aunt...and my cousin is married to her uncle. Start talking...and you soon discover there aren't many degrees of separation!

Last week...over at In A Garden's blog...I read all about a newly released book called Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy . It is sub-titled Grandma's Bag of Tricks...and is chock-full of fun things to do with the grands. Though Sharon is an American author...and the book is published in the didn't take me too long to find it on-line at Two days was in my mailbox. I didn't know anything moved that fast with Canada Post! I am quite enjoying Sharon's great ideas for making fun memories with the grandchildren...many of them related to gardening and nature. Imagine my surprise when I read yesterdays recipe post over at MGCC...and noticed a comment by Sharon Lovejoy. That would be the Sharon who is a delightful author of children's books...who lives on the California coast or at her cottage in Maine...and whose book I hold in my hand. is a small world.

Yesterday I wrote a tribute to Hilda...a wonderful woman in my life who is celebrating her 85th birthday this weekend. No sooner was the post published...than I received an e-mail from MGCC blogging friend from Winnipeg. She could not believe that I knew she was also a friend of hers. We had never before connected the dots!

All I'm saying is...start talking to the people around you and you may be surprised what you learn! I'm thinking it is a very small world indeed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

celebrating a wonderful woman...

There seems to be a blog theme happening on Wednesdays...and so I thought I would join in the chorus this week...and share a secret or two about a wonderful woman that I know.

Her name is Hilda...and she happens to be my sister's mom-in-law...and lives in faraway Winnipeg. I met her for the first time more than three decades ago...and once or twice a year since that time.

For most of her married life, Hilda and her husband lived in this pretty bungalow on the banks of the river. I had the privilege of visiting her here several times...and will always remember her beautifully set table...and tea parties extraordinaire! She is a most sentimental person...and has family heirlooms...and keepsakes galore. And her stories...had us all laughing and crying with her.

My most memorable visit is the one in 1992...when we four sisters flew out to Winnipeg for a cousin's wedding...and stayed for night at Hilda's B & B. Her hospitality went far beyond anything that could be expected...even including sleepwear for the guests. That's right...I slept in Hilda's nightgown that first night...since the airlines somehow left my luggage in Saskatchewan...or somewhere else enroute. She likes to call us sisters 'her girls'...and we don't mind one bit...but I think I'm the only one of 'her girls' that has ever slept in her nightgown.

Over the years we have had many fun times B.C. and in Manitoba. I also have a collection of little gifts from Hilda...coasters, candy dishes, candles...

...and some 'not so little', like a set of hand-embroidered pillowslips that she gave me for Christmas several years ago. She is a kind and generous woman...funny...emotional...and one who loves her family above all else.

She was out here over the past her grandson was graduating from Columbia Bible College with a degree in worship arts. I sat with her at the CBC spring concert on Friday night...

...and she cried as she said it was so worth making the trip just to see Jamison up there singing his heart out. Oh...and to see him with a haircut and all dressed up...that was almost more than she could take! She cried...I laughed. Jamison happens to be my nephew...and I wish him all the best as he pursues his love of music and seeks to be where God wants him to be.

Hilda has returned to Winnipeg...because there happens to be a party there this weekend that she wouldn't want to miss. Does she look like someone who could possibly be the guest of honour at an eight-fifth birthday party? She is 85 years old...and most excited to be celebrating it together with family and friends. She had the guest list pared down to 70 people...but I suggested she should just invite a few more and make it 85. I'm sure it will be a most memorable celebration!

Though Hilda won't likely be reading this's a verse I would like to give her on the occasion of her 85th.

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

The future may look a little scary when you are 85 years old...but Hilda knows who holds her future...and my wish for her is to walk into it with confidence.

Happy Birthday to a wonderful woman in my life!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

black licorice, creme brulée and orange floats...

It was a gardening kind of day yesterday...

...and my little assistant was quite willing to join me on a trip to the garden shop.

He knows there's a whole other world out there...back beyond the plants. Elvis and Emma (the resident emus) were waiting for visitors.

And then there was the suspension bridge that needed to be crossed...against my better judgment!

After trudging the entire length of railroad track...we were able to select the plants that I came for. Heucherra...with interesting names like black licorice and creme brulée...

...have now found a resting place in my flower beds. And after all the hard work was done...

...we got our just reward. There's nothing like an orange float on a hot April day!