"My mind sees that I am nothing, my heart sees that I am everything, between these two poles my life unfolds."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"I do not know how anyone can live 
without some small place of enchantment to turn to."

Tuesday greetings! I hope you're enjoying the summer and getting out there every chance you get. The days are flying by - it's hard to believe we are halfway through July already. I thought I'd start off today with a peep in my garden...

This is a small corner of my front bed - I don't have a lot of flowers up front,
preferring instead the low-maintenance of cedar, flowering bushes and grasses.
Beauty is everywhere...
Sometimes you just need to get low and look up...
A week for the pinks :)
Some flowers are just coming into bloom...
While others have already gone to seed...
This is the lane directly behind my home,
there is a field to the right and a highway beyond that.
When you're back here, you could almost swear you're in the country.

Now that it's summer, these are the shoes I quite often wear when going for a walk. I took this pic when we were driving to Winnipeg a few weeks ago. At the time I was reflecting on how much my decision last summer to stop wearing high-heels has changed my life. I am a new woman!

Yikes - does the 'D' stand for Dumb... lol!

This was a huge decision for me (I repeat, huge) and I owe it all to a pair of skinny jeans I'd purchased and then of course needed the proper shoes to wear with. Up to that point I wore only high heels: adamantly and exclusively! I would have worn them to exercise in, if at all possible... Anyways, the instant I slipped my tender tootsies into the above soft-as-butter ballerina flats, something magical happened and the evil spell I'd been under since I was sixteen was broken - it was my own personal Cinderella moment! A few weeks later I bought black leather riding boots and I've never looked back. I can now walk, talk, shop, and chew gum all at the same time: pain and blister free lol! As well, I'm way more relaxed - why I'm practically laid-back at times ;) Additionally, according to a very interesting article I read on Sunday, I'm also doing my bones a huge favor. Here's the link - every woman should read this.

Another healthy choice I've been making lately, is to incorporate more meat-less meals into our diet. (Good for us and the planet.) Here's a light, very healthy meal we had on Saturday night. Homemade hummus and butternut squash soup - two of my favorites and relatively quick to make. 

Butternut squash soup

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp fresh ginger very finely chopped 
1.2 liters vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
coconut milk

Slowly saute your onion in olive oil on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until it is softened. Add butternut chunks and continue to cook until they also soften and just begin to lightly brown (watch your heat). Add your spices and continue to cook, stirring throughout, for another 2 minutes. Add in vegetable stock, bring to the boil, turn down and simmer covered for 1/2 hour. Mash and then blend smooth with a hand blender. Salt and pepper to taste. I add a big dollop of coconut milk and a sprinkle of nutmeg to each bowl, which tastes great and looks lovely when serving :) 


I originally found this recipe in "The Mediterranean Diet" book, but have changed it up quite a bit over the years. Hummus is so easy to make yourself, I don't know why people buy it.

1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well 
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves fresh garlic
Juice from 1.5 lemons (the other half I use later)
1/4 cup milk (I've used cow, soy, unsweetened almond)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

In blender add the following: sesame paste, garlic, lemon juice, milk, olive oil and 1/2 of the chick peas. I use the chop feature here at first, then blend, add rest of chick peas and chop and blend until you get the consistency you like. 

Ladle into your serving bowl - at this point you can either heat the hummus slightly in the microwave (be careful, it heats up very quickly) which really brings out the flavor, or enjoy at room temperature. Drizzle additional olive oil and reserved lemon juice on top to your liking and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

I finally got around to another chapter in The Sound of Paper. You may recall I profiled the first chapter and accompanying exercise a few weeks ago (link) This book has turned out to be one of my great 'finds' - it contains practical methods and musings designed to help discover and boost your creativity.

Try this: Set aside one hour's writing time. You may wish to take yourself to neutral territory, a cafe or coffee shop. Once there, settle in to write and to describe yourself as you would a literary character, in the third person. Describe your looks, your attitudes, your perceptions. Try to draw a clear portrait of yourself, filled with telling details. In other words, pay attention to how you are and how you are doing. 

Personally, I would find a coffee shop very distracting - I am too much of a people-watcher to concentrate in such a public arena, so I holed up in my office on Saturday and worked on this. I found it quite challenging to look at myself objectively: Who am I? Perhaps describing oneself as the person they see themselves becoming could be another way of approaching this exercise. 

I love visiting new blogs and stumbled across a very interesting one this week. In one post, Sherrie of Little Home in the Country, discussed the practicality and joys of repurposing items. I was reminded of something I'd repurposed a few weeks ago and have been meaning to show you. This concrete fountain had been languishing in my garden shed for the past five years. A few times I almost got rid of it when we were doing our annual spring clean-up, but now I'm glad I didn't. Turns out it's perfect as a planter. A few vines, some amethyst and tada! Not sure if you are aware of this, but amethyst is Ontario's official gemstone. We used to live in Thunder Bay just prior to moving out west and a 'dig-your-own' amethyst mine is located right outside the city.

That's all for now, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week :)

I leave you with a very odd work of art.
If you are a Pastafarian, you are likely still celebrating this week's victory!
What's a Pastafarian you may ask?
Follow this link and find out...


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If it's Tuesday... then this must be Jane's Jewels!

Greetings and I hope your past week was a good one. Above is a metal sign I hung in my garden shed office the other day. It gives me a chuckle each time I look up. Some highlights from my week include our fantastic weather (the weekend and first part of this week have been a write-off though), finally completing a long over-due garden project, digging out a new flower bed, many thanks to my dh* and giving my house a much-needed big cleaning over the weekend (well, it was raining anyways).                 *dear husband 

This was Wednesday afternoon, looking down from my deck; my completed project, sigh :) This seemingly simple creation was three years in the making, due of course to me dragging my feet! When we first made this area (six years ago) these blocks had a different finish and there were also small rocks in between and around the perimeter. Also, the center area had an extra four blocks in it. The rocks were a bad choice - you couldn't walk across without knocking them onto the patio blocks... grrr... and then the weeds and grass eventually made their way through the garden cloth. After digging out the rocks and removing the garden cloth, I applied a new finish. (Flexstone)

(Expand to see finish)

A conduit pipe for the electrical cord and sod completed the job. The fountain (a gift for our 25th anniversary two years ago - thanks again Mom :) was previously located in another part of the yard. To me, this area now gives my garden the over-all serene feel I was hoping for.

Here is another angle yesterday. The vines are hops, they completely enclose our covered deck as well. 

The other day I planted a Virginia Creeper at the back of my yard against the fence, which I expect will engulf the fence in time. I hope that wasn't a mistake! - if anyone has experience with this vine, please let me know anything I might find useful. I've made peace with the hops (we've had our battles), and in retrospect I would have chosen a different vine, but I guess that's all a part of the joy of gardening, isn't it?!

Greetings Gardeners! 
I also hung this slightly creepy wooden Watcher.
Not something I'd want in the house, but fun for the office :)

Here she is mid-howl!
We fear what we don't know, and our puppy Emma is no exception. On Thursday she had a fit over an empty plastic bottle we'd tossed on the floor. Instead of playing with it, she barked non-stop for 15 minutes - no exaggeration. However, Friday she barked for only 10 minutes and then something clicked: she got her nerve up and attacked, lol!! Too funny!

I'm relieved to see that she isn't the only animal 
with an irrational fear of everyday objects...!
This went viral last week.

Isn't this a gorgeous shot? Unfortunately, it marks NASA's last space shuttle for at least three years, possibly five or more. Atlantis and four astronauts roared into orbit on Friday and it was noted that the crowds (and resulting emotions) were on a scale not seen since the Apollo moon shots. In response, Former NASA Chief Michael Griffin had the following comment: 

"The regret in retiring the shuttle is not that we're retiring a 30-year-old system. That's to be expected," Griffin says. "The regret is that we're not moving on to something that can do more for us. We're not moving on to anything. … I was in favor of retiring the shuttle if that was the price of building a system that could take us back to the moon and beyond. I'm not in favor of retiring the shuttle and replacing it with nothing. … That is what is going to happen."

I agree. It's pretty disappointing.

Shouldn't we be halfway to this by now?
Or at least here?

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth lol, here's something not quite 'out of this world', but stunning nonetheless :) In fact, this short video is perhaps the most amazing thing I've seen in a very long time. Robins built a nest in a hanging basket and the next four weeks were filmed... Let me know your favorite part, mine was dedicated Mom sticking to her post, even in the pouring rain.

That's all for now, I hope you enjoyed this meander through my week...
As my profile states, Jane's Jewels is a "cornucopia of my interests" lol!!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"People take pictures of the summer, 
just in case someone thought they had missed it, 
and to prove that it really existed." 
My first peony bloomed on Saturday :)

Tuesday Greetings! Can you believe it's July already? 

I turned the page on my Inuit art calendar :)
This lithograph and stencil is entitled Blue Bird by Kavavaow Mannomee

It seems like forever since I last posted; except for Thursday's little extra which doesn't really count.  I've been busy mentally filing away jewels throughout the week to share with you; hopefully you will feel it was worth the wait :) While I still stand by my decision to post only once a week throughout the summer, I'll let you in on a secret: I really had to force myself not to sign in everyday and pop up something... anything!

This weekend we kept entertained (!) by cleaning out our garden shed and garage - not sure how it happens, but every year we accumulate so much stuff - mostly junk we should have dealt with at the time, but instead chose to either throw it in the garage (our catch-all all winter) or move it from the garage (before the snow flies) to the garden shed and then back to the garage in the spring! Sheer laziness which we always pay for later. At least we had gorgeous weather to work in and the occasional beer to help break up the monotony, lol.

In gardening news, my Ninebark is positively laden with lovely blooms.
This is it's 7th season and it stands just over 5 feet tall. 
Strangely enough, I don't recall it ever flowering before...
It was kind of sickly looking the first 4 years,
and it's really only begun to flourish these last 3 seasons.

A faithful reader sent along this pic to me - it's a great shot if you enlarge it.
This little guy was spotted in Huntsville Ontario.
He was kindly assisted across the road to safety -
and then proceeded to reward his rescuer by snapping at him!
I had no idea that turtles this big even lived so far north...

Here is a little friend I made at the Winnipeg Zoo when I was there last week :)
There are so many of these cuties all over the grounds,
they're practically tame and come right up to you looking for handouts.
Just look at those nails!

 My favorite exhibit was the butterfly house.

The zoo is undergoing a complete transformation, 
(something we found out only after paying our entry fee)
and a lot of the exhibits were closed as a result.
Nonetheless, we still had a great time.

Enquiring minds want to know lol!

I think it's safe to say that pretty much all of us consider ourselves to be animal lovers. Now that it's summer a lot more people will be bringing their pets along with them as they run errands or on vacation. This past week I read a very informative article which outlined the safest way to transport our furry friends. 

Just as we buckle in our babies and children, we should also be securing our pets in a harness, pet-carrier or behind a cargo screen in a SUV or minivan. An unrestrained animal can be severely hurt and in turn become a projectile injuring other occupants in the event of a quick stop or accident. Seeing dogs (& the occasional cat) traveling loose in a car has been a pet-peeve of mine for years. Personally, we always buckle our puppy Emma in the center back seat in her carrier (which I found out is the optimum spot). I'm also considering a pet seat which you buckle in and then in turn buckle her harness into - that way she can look around a bit too! 

The most important thing I learned from the article was that any animal in a seat facing an airbag (& this includes side airbags) can be severely injured or killed should the airbag deploy - scary! - that's why the center back seat is more often the safest location or, if you want your pet in the front passenger seat, disable the airbag if you have that feature. Here's a link to the article.

That's all for now,
I leave you with a few pics of my Bellflowers,
(another look at my Ninebark behind)
I have loads of these and love them.

These pics do not begin to capture their delicate beauty.
They literally require no care whatsoever,
and will flower non-stop until fall :)

Hoping you have a great day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Can You Pass The Test?

Video: Canada Day Quiz | Video Zone
Happy Birthday Canada, Eh!

An extra this week in honor of the day :)
Thought I'd post some random iconic Canadian stuff for your amusement.

The 'Loonie' Echo Bay, Ontario
The 'Toonie' Campbellford, Ontario
Can't imagine life without it!
This is apparently a road-sign somewhere in Canada
Shame on you Saskatoon lol!
Remember "It starts here"?
Poutine :) Goes great with a beer!
What says Canada more than Pamela Anderson and an RCMP escort!
And who could forget Rene Simard?
Not sure why Bob and Doug are not yet gracing our funny money!
Very lame, but oh so Canadian...

Have a good one everyone :)