Friday, February 27, 2009

a taste of texas!

Rio Star grapefruit...straight from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas...has to be one of the sweetest citrus fruits around. And when it's winter out here...there's nothing better than a little tropical sunshine from the form of sweet, juicy red grapefruit.

I paid a visit to my travel agent yesterday...and picked up the required paperwork for an upcoming trip to Texas. Such fun...and lots to look forward to in the 'not too distant future'. On the way home, I stopped by the grocery store...and picked up a few more Rio Star grapefruit. They are just the best...and bring back memories of picking them up by the sackful right at the orchard...the last time I visited my sister in McAllen, Texas.

Spanish missionaries brought the first grapefruit to south Texas in 1893...and the first commercial shipment of red grapefruit left the Lower Rio Grande Valley 1920. Since 1993, the red grapefruit has been the official fruit of Texas...rather appropriate!

For breakfast, we eat them with a spoon...right out of the sugar required! To use them in salads...peel them as you would an orange...and then remove the flesh from inside the membranes. They may break into pieces...but that's fine for salad.

Here's a wonderful combination...

...mixed salad greens, avocado slices, grapefruit segments and chopped red onion.

Toss with a citrussy vinaigrette dressing...and enjoy some tropical goodness...

...even when it looks anything but tropical outside your window!

There's no need to pucker up over grapefruit...try a Texas Rio Star in all it's sweet goodness...and you'll be glad you did.

Have a wonderful weekend...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Royal wasn't what I had planned on. Two days ago I was welcoming spring...and packing away my winter clothes...and thinking of gardening. But yesterday morning...winter returned!

So we made the best of our snow day...and carried on with plans.

It was the perfect day to meet friends for lunch at an historic hotel in our downtown area. My friend, Linda, and I go way back. We both had daughters at the same time...and so our girls grew up together...

...even skated together some 25 years ago.

Now both of our daughters have little girls of their own (one month apart in age)...and so we six girls met for lunch yesterday. (Pictured above: Carol with Joey...Heidi with Maelyn)

We had a wonderful rendezvous at the Royal Cafe...a place I had not been to in several decades...situated in Chilliwack's historic Royal Hotel. It was there that I had my first taste of Chinese food, when I was just a young thing...but as new places popped up all over town, I no longer frequented the old favorites. I was rather surprised at what a lovely old place it was...much nicer than I recalled!

After lunch, we were treated to a tour of the hotel. The hotel was built in 1908...and owned by the Berry family for most of the ensuing years. It has undergone major rejuvenations in the past 10 years...but the quaint look and heritage style have been preserved.

The quilt on the first landing was made by the sister of the gal who gave us the tour... honour of their 100th anniversary celebrations last year.

The room at the top of the stairwell was Room Zero. Interesting! There was of course a good story behind that. One of the early owners called that room home...and since it was not available to the public, it was given the number zero. The gentleman lived in that room until his dying day...and in his memory...the room number remains. Apparently patrons quite enjoy that particular room...and even request room zero when they reserve.

Rich wood trims...and long hallways...and you know it wasn't built yesterday!

The rooms feature claw-foot tubs...and the original cast iron water-heaters (although no longer functional) have been refinished and remain in place.

There are honeymoon suites...jacuzzi suites...

...and rooms with a view (of the snow falling on Chilliwack).

And so ends our tour of 'The Royal'. If you are ever visiting my part of the world...check it out and touch a piece of history! As I climbed those stairs yesterday...I thought for just a moment that I was checking into a European hotel... old...and grand and comfortable! I'd recommend it.

Have a wonderful day...whatever it may have in store for you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

tying one on ~ an apron tutorial

Aprons are back...for young and any style you might desire! I was eyeing all the beautiful aprons out there before Christmas...with intentions of sewing up a few as gifts. It never happened then, but I have finished a number in the last few weeks...and since you's a tutorial for a simple tea towel apron.

I happened to find tea towels in packs of three...all colour co-ordinated and on sale...just begging to be made into aprons. For each apron you will need 1 large tea towel...trim fabric as desired for embellishments or pockets...and 2 1/2 yards of twill tape. The tea towels I used were approximately 18 1/2" x 28" can always add a little trim along bottom, if they are too short.

1. Fold your tea towel in half lengthwise.

2. Starting at the centre top of your apron, measure 4 1/2 inches and mark.

3. From the top corner measure down 10 inches and mark (this is the non-fold side).

4. Using a rotary cutter and a ruler, cut between the two marks, making a triangle.

5. Unfold your apron, and finish diagonally cut edge with a narrow hem.

6. Cut a 20" length of twill tape for neck band. Attach to the top of the apron at side edges...

...being sure to encase raw edges of twill tape. (Finished length of neckband should be 18 inches).

7. Cut two ties from from remaining twill...and attach at side edges. (Finish raw edge.)

8. Decorate apron as you please. Use coordinating fabric to sew a band along bottom edge...or add a wide band and sew two seams vertically to form three pockets...or use your imagination and sew on some wonderful embellishments! Since my tea towels were all in co-ordinating colours...I could mix and match. And that's all there's to it...easy aprons in no time!

Broni (my daughter-in-law) agreed to model an apron for me last night...and grabbed a few props for the photo shoot. I pay my models well...she took home the apron and my 37-year-old Betty Crocker cookbook.

I would suggest washing the tea towels before sewing...which I failed to do! I'm hoping that my 'one-size-fits-all' aprons don't become 'one-size-fits small' once they have been through the wash.

So keep your eye open for some great tea towels...and have some fun! I've got another tea towel project on the back burner here...and may just share that as well once it's done.

Enjoy your day...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

thinking spring...

We have those brief little reminders that spring is just around the corner...and we are ready!

The robins returned...I saw the first one last Friday morning (February 20)...and took this photo through the as not to scare him off. Right next to where he sat on the branch...the red winged blackbirds have been busy at the bird feeder. It seems they are back from an extended winter vacation as well. The wee snow birds are having to share their seeds now...but they seem to work it all out.

As for the ducks...they have seemingly lost all concept of seasons...and decided that our farm is a good year-round retreat. They are not aware that they have long worn out their welcome...and seem to be inviting their friends and relatives to join them.

It's time to start thinking about gardening. I was most surprised yesterday to see a few of the early shrubs in bloom! The pink blooms in the collage...

...are Viburnum Pink Dawn. The chives are ready for harvest...and I've already done some snipping.

Also in my herb garden...are many of the little green sprouts (centre top). I did the sniff test to see what they might early and prolific. smells very lovely...rather like spearmint. That is a bit of a problem...since I had the mint in a I had been warned it is VERY invasive. It seems to have jumped out of it's cage...and is taking over!

A few pansies...and a wee bunch of daffodils...are now brightening up the front porch. It's beginning to feel like spring...and I like that feeling.

There's always the good and the every season of life...

...and so it seems the slugs have also returned. The battle for my garden boxes will soon be on once again!

The eagle is still keeping watch...but once spring has truly arrived, I will he will be vacating his post until next winter. Aren't seasons just the best...especially spring?

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant;
if we did not sometime taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
Anne Bradstreet

Monday, February 23, 2009

celebrations are in full swing

Today is an important date...especially if you happen to have a birthday on February 23rd. My sister in South Texas is celebrating today...but not nearly as much as she will be next year. Birthdays are a great time to remember those who are near and dear...and passing along our best wishes. Happy Birthday, Bev!

Today I would like to honour a dear friend...who is also celebrating a birthday today. Now this is not just any old birthday...but THE big one!

Lovella...who many of you visit at her blog 'What Matters Most' turning 50 today. Two years ago we were strangers...but since that time we have become good friends. I happened to find her blog, as I was searching for a recipe. I must say....that it was the first time I realized that a blog could be used as an inspiration and a blessing to others. I became a regular visitor to Lovella's blog...and was always refreshed by her outlook on life and her willingness to share her faith openly....her creativity and the joy she found in the little things of life. I had no intentions of starting my own blog....but some months later that is exactly what I did. And what a fun and rewarding experience it has been!

Lovella has inspired many of us in so many ways. Last summer she organized a new on-line recipe book called Mennonite Girls Can Cook. It's been such a fun time working together on that blog...and actually meeting many of the gals that contribute. She does all the administration...and corrects all our errors...and we just post our favorite recipes. Lovella has spurred us on...whether it be in cooking, walking, entertaining, decorating or in cultivating our spiritual life.

The funny thing is that we are 'almost related'...Lovella and I...but met officially for the first time last June.

I had the privilege of visiting with her on my front porch...and letting her have the first ride on our new swing. Since that time, we have met on several occasions...and she hosted a wonderful Christmas party for some of us...her bloggy friends. I am sending you wishes for a most wonderful 50th birthday...may God bless you abundantly...both on this day and in all the days that lie ahead. Keep using your gifts to glorify your Maker!

Kick-back, relax...contemplate where you've been...dream for the future...and enjoy your 50th birthday!

Let's celebrate the day...

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I Sing for Joy at the Work of Your Hands.
Psalm 92:4

If you are a little short on joy...try being thankful for the great things God has done!

Friday, February 20, 2009

what's in a name...continued

Sunshine...snowdrops...and 'sweet smelling' country air...all sure signs of spring. We are enjoying the perfect weather for cleaning windows, decks, and all those other jobs that get ignored all winter. But yesterday also turned out to be a perfect day for joining my daughter and baby Maelyn on a long walk...the final destination being the public health unit where Maelyn was due for her immunization. Maelyn wasn't in the least upset about the whole process...and went quite willingly. I was reminded of another trip to the same place...many years ago...when her mommy went against her will. It's a story I'll save for another day...but let's just say it never took three nurses to administer the vaccine to baby Maelyn!

Once the deed was done, we made a stop at the post office...where we ran into my aunt...who was most thrilled to meet my granddaughter...who carries her name. Maelyn's official name is is her great great Aunt Maggie's. And if you know my Aunt know she is usually wearing something yellow...because it just happens to be her favorite colour. And wouldn't you know it...Baby Maelyn was also wearing her favorite yellow hat.

They both agreed to pose for a the drug store post office...right next to the toilet tissue. And so the first meeting of the two Magdelyn's will be recorded right here...on My Front Porch. When we parted ways, Heidi said she had no idea my aunt's real name was Magdelyn when she named her daughter...but she is so glad it turned out that way!

Oh...and did you happen to notice Maelyn's angel wings in the sweet is that?

I had no plans to do another post about names today...but the chance meeting of the only two Magdelyn's that I know...just couldn't go unrecorded. I'm done with my name game for now!

Have a wonderful weekend...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

what's in a name?

I wasn't named after anyone in particular...but was given a name that was very popular in the 1950's. Judith Ann was my official name...but at home I was known as Judy.

When I started school I realized just how popular that name was...there were three Judith Ann's in my class. The teacher assigned each of us with a different version for the year. One would be called was Judith Ann...and I was known as Judith that year, and for most of my early school years.

My older sister was named Beverley...also quite common in those years. When I was seven years old, we moved to the farm where I now was purchased from a family who also had a Beverley and a Judy. How coincidental is that?

I have met many Judy's through the years...but there haven't been any in my circle of friends for a long time. And so I go by Judith. ( sisters call me Jude for the most part.)

But I have a new friend named Judy...and although she lives far away...she visits me quite regularly on My Front Porch. And it seems some of you are thinking I am leaving myself the nicest of comments...since you have no idea there are more Judy's out there. So...just to clarify things...if I leave a comment anywhere from this day will say Judy ~ My Front Porch.

I should mention that I created my word cloud at a site called Wordle. You can have a lot of fun playing with words over there...and are free to use the graphics as you choose.

And that's it for earth-shattering news from My Front Porch today. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

friends forever...

We celebrated each other's birthdays together back in junior high...had sleepovers, talked half the night, and always found something to laugh about.

There's been a whole lot of 'water under the bridge' since those days...but we're celebrating birthdays together again...and we still find a lot to laugh about.

Marg came on a mission yesterday...there was measuring to be done...and fabric to be cut. But first we had so many other important things on our agenda...we needed to go for a walk and catch up on all the goings on in our lives. We reminisced about our walks of long ago...which were more out of necessity than pleasure! Now we could walk forever...the miles just rush by when you walk with a friend.

After the walk...we needed a little refreshment. We had macadamia nut/white chocolate cookies for our snack (made with mac nuts that Marg brought me from Hawaii) ...

...and I sent a giant one home with her as a birthday treat. (I've added the recipe for the cookies below.)

I've been busy sewing up tea towel aprons...and gave Marg one for her collection. I may just do a tutorial one of these days...if anyone is interested in a quick & easy project.

By the time we were done our walking, sipping, chatting, and trying on of aprons...the afternoon was gone...and the project was not yet begun! We reviewed the pattern...laid out 'step one'...and Marg went home with her homework. We know there's always tomorrow...the semester is never over...and we're not being marked!

Relationships between friends are something to be treasured. I look forward to many more walks, hikes, projects...and adventures, Marg.

Enjoy the day...

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Since I am not really the biggest chocolate fan...I like cookies that are light in colour...and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are hard to resist. My recipe came compliments of Kraft foods at one time...and I have changed it a wee bit.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate
(or a 300 gr package of white chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (We like our cookies I use an ice-cream scoop for shaping the dough.)
  4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
* If you have an event to celebrate...make a cookiegram in honour of the occasion. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9" round cake pan or pie plate...and form an 8-inch cookie with about one cup of cookie batter, spreading evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes...or until golden. Cool. Write your message with melted chocolate or decorator icing. I used a 'writing tip' on a Ziploc bag...and then there's no mess to clean up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

where eagles soar...

Every winter we host one of North America's largest populations of bald eagles right here in the shadow of Mt. Cheam.

For the past few months I have been watching the eagles from the kitchen window on a daily basis.

And as I go for my walk...I have kept my eye on an eagles nest not far from here...high in a tree and somewhat set back from the road.

A pair of white heads is clearly visible nearby...keeping watch, it seems. They don't care to have me come anywhere near with the camera while they are nesting. And so...that is all I have to show you of the eagles nest...

...and the wings of one of the sentries taking flight as I approach! Right on the farmyard, however...

...there is an eagle that keeps track of all the goings on...and has no worries if I pull out the camera to snap a pic or two.

We went for a drive on check out the hoards of eagles that are apparently nesting along the river.

We saw lots of beautiful scenery....

...but decided there is no place like home to watch the eagles!

It's Tuesday...and I am looking forward to spending some quality time with a friend today. We have an occasion to celebrate...and a project to begin.

Have a wonderful day...