Thursday, December 30, 2010


If you want a celebration, cook food and pour wine.  That's my mantra for today's Nine Muses prompt: celebrate.  As this year draws to a close I like to think of people all over the world celebrating (with food and drink) the end of one year and the beginning of a brand new one.  Think of all incredible variety of food world wide cooked and enjoyed by people.

The photo above was taken at a cooking class given by my friend Kalayanee, who creates the most delicious Thai meals for small groups.  Six of us gathered at this lovely farmhouse on a Saturday evening as the snow fell outside.  We learned to cook red hot chicken wings, tiger prawn curry, fish in spicy coconut cream, hot and spicy soup, and asparagus salad.

And then we got to enjoy this fabulous food along with shared wine, laughter and conversation.  Truly it was a celebration of friendship and fun and the joy of cooking and eating.  What is your favorite celebratory food?  Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy some of it tonight while welcoming in the new year.

Sparkling water

Today's prompt is sparkling and I want to share the sparkle of sunlight on water droplets.  These images are from yesterday's walk with the dogs.  After several days of stormy gray skies the sun has come out and it makes everything shimmer.  Who needs glitter with this kind of sparkle?

Visit Nine Muses Musing today to see other takes on the sparkling theme.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Oranges are a Christmas tradition around our place.  It was my blog buddy Parsnip who reminded me about the orange in the toe of the stocking.  She said it was one of her fond memories of the season--and coincidentally it's one of mine as well.  Probably it is for lots of people, especially the tangerines that come into the stores towards the end of November.  That scent is irrevocably tied to Christmas in my mind.

Oranges come up in other ways at Christmas time too.  At least once over the season my husband tells about his mother's story of getting nothing for Christmas but an orange.  She grew up in backwoods Maine and I can totally see that then (around 1920) an orange would be a complete treat in the middle of winter.

And then there's the traditional casserole of sweet potatoes and oranges that I've made for Christmas dinner at every single year since I was a little girl.  The recipe is in my old Joy of Cooking and the book actually opens to that page because every year I have to check on the proportions of yams, orange rind, orange juice, brown sugar, butter and salt.  Every year I buy a bag of oranges and we eat them all up in a few days.  Yes,  oranges are definitely a traditional part of the season here.

You can find out about other people's traditions today over here on Nine Muses Musing

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas books

Today's prompt on Nine Muses Musing is stories, and so I'm thinking about Christmas books.  A Christmas tradition at our house since Jamie was little was taking time to look at the beautiful illustrations in this book that was given to him as a baby.  Mind you, Jamie's 22 now so we don't look at it together anymore, but I still flip through it to admire Louse Brierley's lovely pastels of the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Here's her image for the six geese a-laying. 
Isn't it sweet?

My Christmas books came from the library though.  I recently found a list on someone's blog of books she'd read in 2010 and from some of the titles I knew that she had similar taste in authors.  This was a great opportunity for me to do a search for some of the titles at my local library. 

Maybe I overdid it though because ten of them came in at once.  So this is what my pile of Christmas reading looks like today.

I am so grateful for our public library.  It has just about any title I search for.  Sometimes there's a long waiting list for popular new books but eventually my name comes up.  I don't know what I'd do without it as I'm an avid reader and consume several books a week, often dipping into two or three at a time.  I think for 2011 I'll add a reading list to this blog.  Should it be all the books I've read or just those I particularly enjoyed?  What do you think?


Monday, December 27, 2010

A time to share

Today's prompt is sharing and in looking for an image I got to thinking that this is the one time of year when just about everyone finds opportunities to share.  Even such a little thing as hanging some ornaments on a bare tree in the front yard is a small sharing of beauty.  Of course there's the tradition of gift giving and Santa for the kids, but we also share food and treats and donate or volunteer to help others. 

For me, one of the best things about this season is the week of quiet time between Christmas and New Years.  If you're lucky enough to have this time off it's an oasis of space that can be shared by family members and friends.  I love that this is a time when there are no real expectations, and so it allows for impromptu gatherings, card games, watching videos, long walks with the dogs and cozy fires. I love this time of sharing.  

Head on over to Nine Muses Musing for links to other posts on sharing.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Festive table

Last night's Christmas dinner was fabulous.   Nothing can be better than sharing a feast with special friends and family. I tried brining a turkey again, this time with a wet brine, and it turned out really well--delicious in fact.  I hope your day was as special as ours was.

Today's word over at Nine Muses Musing is shiny and it was easy to chose this sparkling photo of the table set for dinner.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Elephant ornament

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.  We've had a lovely celebratory day and I hope you have too.  Today's prompt is ornament so I'm posting a photo of one of my favorites--the silk elephant balancing on a ball.  Most of my special ones are folk art ones, many homemade.  To see other ornament photos, click here.  They are really lovely.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dogs at Christmas

Of course our dogs are an integral part of our Christmas celebration.  They even have their own stocking--shaped like a dog bone.  I think this one was part of a prize at a long-ago flyball tournament.  Of course it's hung with the others on the fireplace and Santa fills it with toys and treats.

Aren't humans funny with their dogs?   I wanted to get a photo of my pups with their stocking so I had them come and pose with it on the carpet.  They're doing their best to accommodate but they really have no idea what I'm wanting them to do. 

Geordie (the eterenal puppy) started out being quite interested in the stocking, even grabbing it and trying to play with it. But as I kept taking it away and then telling him to leave it alone, he gave up, eventually just resting his head on it.

Maggie (the aging princess) really wanted nothing at all to do with the stocking.  Here she's putting on her long-suffering look.

By the end of the photo session neither dog would even look at at the stocking.

I'm sure that tomorrow morning after Santa's visit they'll both find it interesting again.

I know there are other dogs with stockings today over at Nine Muses Musing if you'd like to take a peek. Do you hang a stocking for your pets?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Living here on the west coast we don't see much in the way of snowflakes.  And when it does snow we're in such shock that we can't do much except whine and turn the heat up.  So today's "snowflake" prompt leaves me no option but to photograph plastic snowflakes hanging on my Christmas tree.  I know it's tacky but this one looks quite sparkly, I think.  It's the closest we'll get to snowflakes this week as the forecast is for rain, rain and more rain.

If you'd like to see other takes on the snowflake theme, head on over to Nine Muses Musing today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas candle

Today's prompt is candle and it was easy to choose this angel candle holder that was given to me the Christmas my mom died.  It's always in a place of honour at this time of year.  I took a lot of photos of it and chose this one to post. I like the way the silver reflects the candle and the deep blue of the late afternoon outside the door. 

If you're confused about what you're looking at, here's the complete picture.  It was hard to get a photograph that didn't have my image somewhere in the reflection.

Take a look at  Nine Muses Musing for more candle images today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Callie's fourth Christmas

This photo shows my niece Callie at age four in a quiet moment with her mom.  It was taken three years ago on Christmas morning at our house. Callie's seven now and we've missed seeing her at Christmas for the past two years as we were spending that time in Mexico.  We're so looking forward to a family Christmas this year with a tree and presents and a big turkey dinner.  Today's prompt on Nine Muses Musing is family--and family is what makes it special, of course.  But most of all I love the excitement and magic this season brings for the children.  Visit Nine Muses Musing today for more images of family at Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chirstmas sweets Victoria style

Victoria is a tradition bound city with a strong British background and it shows up in its two famous sweetshops:  Rogers Chocolates and Murchies tea room and bakery.  During the week before Christmas these two places are usually mobbed with people buying Rogers' signature chocolates in the historic store that's been in operation at the same location for over 100 years or stopping for tea and cake at Murchie's while Christmas shopping.

I went early enough this morning that I was able to beat the crowd and purchased a Rogers Victoria Cream chocolate for a friend.

Then I drifted over to Murchie's to see what was on offer.  Their specialty is cakes that look something like this.

For me this has to be eye candy because if I were to have something like this in my fridge I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it...until it was all gone!  But Christmas is a time for sweets so I'm heading off now to make a batch of traditional Scottish shortbread.

To see more photos of seasonal sweets take a look at Nine Muses Musing today.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fernwood Village

The prompt for today's post on Nine Muses Musing is "village" and what comes to mind for me are the many small neighborhoods in Victoria, each with its own special character.   One of the most distinctive is Fernwood, a diverse community of students, young families, retired folk, and people who are struggling to gain a foothold in society.  It's center is a corner dominated by the Belfry Theater housed in an old church beside an open square.  Across the street are some century old buildings with store fronts and apartments above.

The buildings are funky but charming and many are gradually being renewed.  This building was purchased by a community neighborhood association and converted to apartments for low income people.  The bottom is a trendy cafe that's always busy with people of all ages and stages.

Fernwood village is a mixed bag.  It has charm but also social problems.  And of course it's the people who live there that create its character, perhaps even more than than its old fashioned houses.  Fernwood has a compost demonstration area, community gardens, pocket markets, and two vibrant community associations. 

The house that we're renovating is just a couple of blocks from Fernwood village.  It's the one at the top of this photo.  I've owned this house for 28 years and first moved in as a single mother with my five year old son.  Just recently we rented the upstairs suite to a single mom with a five year old girl, who will be celebrating Christmas there and getting to know Fernwood Village.   I live outside of town now and I really like my home but at Christmas time I long for the neighbourhood feel of Fernwood Village.

You can see other takes on today's village prompt here

And by the way, thank you Mosey for choosing my journey post from yesterday for a prize.  I'm thrilled.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 4: Journey

Today's prompt for the  Nine Muses Musing was "journey" and I spent quite a bit of time throughout the day thinking of how that word might apply to this time of year.  Of course there's the journey of the Magi and the light from the star that traveled through space, but I was thinking more of nature and the journey from the darkness of the winter solstice back into light. How often when things seem bleak or dark in our personal journeys we tend to forget that things change and shift and move, and often quite quickly.

So for today (and better late than never) I offer a series of three photos taken in October when a few friends and I went to a ridge-top cabin at Saturna Island and took a morning walk.  We started out in the fog, then the clouds lifted and blew quickly away, leaving us walking along the ridge in brilliant sunshine.  It all took place in less than ten minutes.   That's how quickly the clouds can move in their journey.  And that's how quickly things can sometimes shift in one's life journey too.

I hope that your journeys will take you out of the clouds and into the sunshine.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas bells and nostalgia

Our prompt for today is bells and this is what I found yesterday hanging on the door of a ballet gear store while on my way to do an errand.  I  opened the door and ducked inside to take a quick photo so didn't have a lot of time to compose or fiddle around.  But I'm somewhat pleased with this.  Thank goodness for the crop function!

What I would have liked to take a photo of is the old faded red leather strap with brass jingle bells attached that we hung on our front door at Christmas when I was a child.  But that's in my sister's Christmas box and she's away on a driving trip this year.   I think it's because of that jingle bell that I love this type of bell at Christmas so much.  Christmas includes so much nostalgia for me, and I think for everyone.  We tend to remember other Christmases from the past and try to either recreate them or move away from them.  No matter which we're attempting, the images and sounds bring us back.

There are some lovely photographs of bells to view today on Mortal Muses.  Take a look.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 2, Lights

Perhaps the thing I like best about this time of year is the lights.   It's wonderful walking through the misty darkness at suppertime and seeing the brightness.  I can't say that I like the new LED lights though.  To me they're just gloomy and weird looking.  The photo above is taken through the leaded glass of my front door and its homemade wreath, to the lights on the outside of the house.  

I haven't tried taking many photos of lights but this one from the truck parade pleased me with its abstract lines of color.    You can see more images of lights here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nine Muses Musing, Day 1

I've recently discovered Mortal Muses, an inspiring blog of nine female photographers from around the world.   Every morning one of them posts a musing and a photo submission.  For the next 18 days this blog features Nine Muses Musing, a series of holiday prompts for creativity and I've decided to join in. Today's prompt is "giving" and here's what I came up with.

We've been honored to have some Anna's Hummingbirds overwinter this year in our plum tree.  We receive a daily gift of beauty and joy watching them  dart and fly around the feeder as they enjoy their nectar meals.  We are also happy to be able to give them the sustenance needed to make it through the winter.  It was especially gratifying during the week of freezing temperatures and snow that required us to bring the nectar indoors to thaw several times a day. I'm not sure why these birds stay on Vancouver Island in the winter as there are few, if any, nectar-producing flowers blooming now.  But there are enough people here who put out feeders that they are able to survive.

It's wonderful the way nature constantly offers us different species opportunities to give to each other if we remain alert to them.  

Check out the Mortal Muses blog to see other submissions on Giving.  And maybe you'd like to join in.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ruby Tuesday warmth

Wow, it's Tuesday already and I haven't posted for a while.  I'm looking out my window at grey and brown trees, sodden cedar boughs and a leaden sky.  It's been raining for a while and shows no signs of stopping, plus I've been fighting a cold for a few days and the cold seems to be winning.  So when  browsing through my photo archives this morning I found comfort in these images from El Quelite, just north of Mazatlan.  The colors of the walls in El Quelite are just astounding.  They bring a shot of warmth with them that I'm needing just now and I thought I'd share them here.  Happy Ruby Tuesday.  I know the bottom two photos don't really have any red in them, but the orange and yellow warm my heart as well. 

If you want to see lots of shots of red, click here for other Ruby Tuesday posts.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cal Lane's art work

For Shadow Shot Sunday I give you a sample of Cal Lane's sculptural work.  She is the daughter of a friend of mine and is making her living in New York City creating amazing lace work from cast off metal objects.  The image above was taken at her mother's house where this sculpture hangs on the wall creating a lovely shadow.  You can see it was made from a gas can. 

Here are some of Cal's other works, using wheelbarrows, shovels, oil drums and even bigger sculptures.  I love the way Cal transforms these rough objects into beautiful lace with her welding torch. 

Cal is making it with her artwork and I'm so happy to hear about it. I'm always thrilled to hear that people can make a go of it with their vision.   Here's a link to her website if you'd like to see more of this brilliant and creative artwork.   

For more shadows, go to Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.

The social whirl

We've been away from home for the past two Decembers and the busyness of these first two weeks in the month has taken us by surprise.  It seems that every group around puts on their Christmas event between December 1 and 15.  Since last Friday here's what I've attended: A musical concert,  an old girls Christmas tea at the Empress, the truck parade, lunch with family from out of town, dinner with an old friend, my book club's annual Christmas dinner, the Tai Chi potluck dinner, and the local high school's production of It's a Wonderful Life.  And we do it all in the cold and the dark.

That's not to say I haven't enjoyed the social whirl; it's been fun but I'm feeling pretty tired and I'm fighting a cold.  The funny thing is, that after tonight's Flyball Christmas party the calendar is clear until the 21st.  This will give me time to catch up with the cleaning and decorating, the Christmas shopping and planning, and the volunteering, and oh yeah, our renovation project which is proceeding apace.

We were thinking of hosting a Christmas party ourselves but have decided to hold off until January when things are quieter and people will welcome an invitation out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Virgin of Guadalupe

Over at Recuerda mi Corazon, Rebecca is hosting "A Virgin a Day" theme.  Starting on the first of December and going through until the 12th she's inviting us to share our photographs.  I think this is leading up to a festival on December 12th when Mexico celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  This is the virgin you see images of all over in Mexico.  I've collected a few images of her in our travels and so I'm posting them here.  The one above was pinned to a wall in Alamos, Sonora.

The two below were found in the old part of Mazatlan.  I love the way these two are entwined with the flag of Mexico and are truly living shrines done by regular people.

If you're at all interested in the Virgin iconography, take a look at the links under Rebecca's blog.  You won't be disappointed.