Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vacation Day 1 . . . Washington to Victoria, B.C.

We flew Southwest Airlines from Boise to Seattle, Friday May 16th to start our little vacation on beautiful Vancouver Island. It was a quick one hour flight . . . just time enough for a quick beverage and peanuts.

This is the view of some of

Washington's snow covered mountains - -very rugged and beautiful.

We arrived in Seattle about 11 a.m., then took the shuttle to pick up our rental car - - a silver Dodge Charger. Let the fun begin!

After driving for about an hour, we stopped for lunch at Fat Smitty's. . . a quaint little cafe at Discovery Bay.

You can see by the expensive decor that Fat Smitty's is no ordinary burger joint. Everyone leaves money with their business card pinned all over the interior of the cafe. The walls, ceilings, doors, and door frames were all covered with these bills--a few larger bills but mostly dollar bills.

The burger was huge, so we split it along with an order of fries and a blackberry shake (made from berries growing out behind the cafe). It was so good. The owner--Fat Smitty--was in the back cooking our burgers. (He was a good sized guy, probably from eating a lot of his own cooking). You don't get this kind of atmosphere at McDonalds.

We arrived in Port Angeles, WA. about 5 p.m. to board the ferry. After we drove the car onto the ferry, we sat on an upper deck so we could enjoy the sunny afternoon as we made our 90 minute crossing to Victoria. We met a friendly couple who told us about some interesting places to visit on Vancouver Island.

This is the view as you arrive in Victoria. The hotel facing the harbor in the grand old Empress Hotel--a beautiful and elegant world famous hotel. It has quite a view!

This is the COHO Ferry. It makes several round trips from Port Angeles to Victoria every day. It carries over 100 cars, as well as semi-tractor trailers (there were 4 large trucks, 2 huge travel buses and a Ryder truck full of band instruments in our ferry). The travel buses were carrying high school kids from California who were going to march in the Canada Days Parade on Monday. Thirty-one marching bands from all over the U.S. were going to be in the parade- - -kind of a big deal for high school kids and their chaperons.

Every person drives their own car onto the ferry. By the time it's all loaded it's a pretty tight fit--just barely room enough to open your car door so you can get out and go up on deck. I still don't understand why all that weight floats. . .I'm just glad that it does!

It was about 6:45 p.m. by the time we got off the ferry and through customs. We had reservations Friday evening at the Albion House Bed and Breakfast. This B&B is located just a few blocks from the Inner Harbor. The Albion House was built in 1892 as a wedding gift to entice a son to return back to Victoria from London with his new bride. Quite a wedding present, I'd say!

The house is currently owned by two guys. Don, the decorator, gardener and chef-- and Fernando, the artist. They bought the home 4 years ago, restored it, decorated it, filled it with antiques and are now running a B&B. Pretty interesting guys - - very friendly and nice.
(and NOT flaming at all...editorial remarks by rtk)

Here's the room where we stayed. This king size bed came from Belgium- - it must weigh a ton. (An old bed but with a new mattress--so it was very comfortable). It's a really grand old room with a fireplace,11 foot ceilings, beautiful antique dressers, beautiful original hardwood floors and woodwork, and a "fainting" couch at the foot of the bed. The bathroom was very nice--updated with a jacuzzi tub and shower! I felt really pampered.

Randy is in the Parlor reading some travel brochures so we'll know what to see in Victoria. (All the pictures in this room and throughout the house were hung by a picture rail--a rail that ran around the room about a foot from the ceiling. This way the pictures were hung without making a hole in the walls.)

Victoria is such a beautiful city with grand old homes, many of which are now B&B's. Everywhere you look the yards and parks were full of beautiful springtime flowering shrubs and trees.

After we got settled into our room, we decided to go for walk. There are so many things to see. Horse drawn trolleys and carriages were everywhere giving tourists a slower view of the city. The horses have reflectors on their legs because these trolleys and carriages work into the evening hours- - -that way they'll be seen in the dark.

Within just a 10 minute walk from our B&B, we were in the Inner Harbor. It seems like there's always lots of activity in the harbor. This little tugboat taxi was taking visitors for rides around the harbor. . . across the harbor sea planes were flying in and out.

Sailboats, yachts and boats of all sizes are parked in the Inner Harbor. Several times a year when there's concerts or other festivities in the Inner Harbor, people sit in their boats to watch the event. On one wall in the Harbor there's a huge grass area that says "Welcome to Victoria" . . . and it's written with flowers. These Canadians really know how to grow things and make their cities beautiful!

Randy is standing in front of a totem pole with the Parliament Building in the background. Vancouver Island is home to many Indian nations - - - and many of the cities have Indian names.

It was so nice to sightsee and not feel rushed--to slow down and take time to enjoy things. "Enjoying the journey" is a good way to live.

Because breakfast was served at 9 a.m., we had plenty of time to get ready for the day. We even had time to go for a little walk to the Saturday farmers market just down the block to see what the locals were selling.

Don prepared a delicious breakfast for us in the dining room. We had fruit, warm cranberry bread, a cheese souffle, a large link sausage, orange juice and herbal tea. It was all served in a sunny dining room on pretty china. What a way to start the day. I could get used to a schedule like this real quick!

Now that we're well fed we are ready to start our adventures for the day. Saturday we plan to spend a majority of the day at Butchart Gardens. It's a beautiful morning. . . it should be a good day to see a garden paradise.

Staying in Bed and Breakfasts may cost a little more, but the experiences we've had sure has made it worth it. It's a great way to meet some very interesting people, have some delicious breakfasts, met people from all over the country, and stay in some very lovely old estates. It's been so fun - - I'd really recommend to anyone who'd like to have a great adventure!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day . . . . a day to remember loved ones

Sunday after church, we went around the yard and cut fresh flowers and lilacs to decorate family headstones at the cemetary. I still had a few tulips blooming and the lilacs were beautiful so I was able to make a couple pretty bouquets.
I always love to see the flag flying in the yard. Randy humored me by having his photo taken in the yard before we left for the cemetary.
The sun was shining, the yard looked so nice . . . and being a typical Memorial Day weekend I knew the weather could likely change any minute . . . I had to catch the moment while I could.

Randy is placing our bouquet and cleaning around Grandpa's headstone.
Grandma seemed to be in good spirits today as we visited the grave sites. It's been a difficult year for her but she's trying to make the best of it.

It was hard to believe it's been 3 years since my mother died and 17 years since Dad died. The time has passed so quickly. It was a good time on this beautiful Sunday to remember again our loved ones who have passed away . . . and to reflect on how much we owe the good things in our lives to the ones who have gone on before.

Artisan Breads . . . Kendrick Style

Ted gave me a new, easy bread recipe several weeks ago, but since we'd been traveling, I hadn't had a chance to try it. This afternoon was cool and rainy so I decided to experiment a little with the recipe.

This is what I came up with:

The round loaf on the upper left is a cranberry(craisins), orange zest, pecan loaf. Lower left round loaf is a rosemary, garlic, parmesean cheese . . . the long loaves are dill, fennel and craisin/sunflower seeds bagettes.
The two small ones are plain rolls with sesame seeds.

I didn't need to make up the whole batch of bread - - you can save the dough in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. But I was on a roll . . . and having tooo much fun to stop. I'll have to share my bake goods with the neighbors. I love to share a good recipe with friends and neighbors . . . I'm sure it will be a hit!

It's a quick, easy and delicious recipe. With just a little effort and some creativity your kitchen will smell and look like the local bakery. I'll send the recipe to anyone who's interested . . . or you can contact Ted.
Baking these delicious breads made my kitchen smell so good on this cool, rainy Memorial Day weekend. I just wish all of you were here to share in the goodness. Thanks Ted for sharing another great recipe!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Springtime at Butchart Gardens, Victoria B.C.

Saturday, May 17th, we spent 4-5 hours in the beautiful Butchart Gardens. Butchart Gardens is 55 acres of garden paradise! A "Heaven on Earth" for garden and flower lovers like me! Springtime in the Gardens are truly spectacular with hundreds of thousands of bulbs in bloom as well as flowering trees and shrubs. We slowly stolled along the paths and walkways - - you can't hurry through someplace a beautiful as this - - you need take time to be able to appreciate each colorful display! There just aren't enough words to describe what an awesome experience it was.

Everywhere you look throughout the Gardens there are arbors, pergolas, theme gardens . . . each one with different displays of tulips, groundcovers and beautiful trees and shrubs.

This tropical garden and waterfall contained many varieties of shade plants . . . coleus, ivy, ferns, hostas - - it was beautiful!

The variety of tulips everywhere was unbelievable! Pinks, purples, yellows, reds . . . in every size and height. And planted in and amongst the tulips were either blue, white, or pink Forget-me-nots or English Daisies in every pastel color. Truly breathtaking!

This bed of short white tulips had pink and red English Daisies planted amongst them. One of the things that makes the Gardens so beautiful is that the displays of flowers and plantings are at all levels. Some at your feet - some at eye level - some above your head.

Here we are in garden paradise. There are so many rock formations throughout the gardens and each one has beautiful tulips, ground covers and perennials spilling out of every crack and cascading over the edges of the beds.

Enormous Douglas Firs, Cedars and other varieties of evergreens made an awesome setting for the smaller flowering trees, shrubs and carpets of lawn. You just needed to stand and take in the beauty in each area of the garden. Every view was different and beautiful.

Here's another example of some of the un-tulip like tulips. They were so unusual . . . they looked almost like roses instead of tulips.

The pretty little blue flower under these blossoms are Forget-me-nots. . . . they were everywhere in the gardens.

These unusual pink tulips were planted with shades of pink English daisies amongst them . . . so delicate and pretty!

Randy is taking a moment to sit and enjoy the view. . . and looking through yet another variety of yellow and red tulips.

Each and every bed was so pretty and yet a little different from the last one. It was amazing to see the variety both in color and size. Every step throughout the Gardens brought a different view and variety of flowers . These red and yellow tulips were very short with white English Daisies planted amongst them.

Here we are in a gorgeous sea of color! Just look at the variety of colors and shapes. These are veiws from the sunken garden. In the early 1900's when the gardens were first started, the sunken garden was on old quarry. Jenny Butchart hired men to haul hundreds of thousands of yards of topsoil from neighboring farms into the quarry. Then trees, shrubs and flowers were planted. The sunken gardens has evolved into a breathtaking display of spectacular plantings. And in this garden as well as throughout the 55 acres, each season brings a new and different display of flowers.

I can't imagine the garden ever being any more beautiful than it was when we saw it. I asked one of the gardeners if he had a favorite season in the gardens. He, of course, said he loved them all . . . they were all different and beautiful. But it would be hard to have any season surpass the beauty of the springtime gardens!

This is a view from a stairway leading into the sunken garden. This view of the gardens was almost a sensory overload. We stood on the stairway for a long time just trying to take into our brains all the beauty our eyes were seeing.

This is my idea of heaven! The hillsides are covered with ivy and other vines - - the variety of trees in all shapes, sizes and colors - - pathways over carpet like lawn - - and some of the most beautiful flowers you'll ever see anywhere. It was breathtaking!

This display of tulips is in the Italian Garden. Huge beds of tulips in amongst fountains, arbors, benches and boxwood hedges. The most formal of all the theme gardens . . . and so pretty.

This is a veiw looking into the Japanese garden. The different varieties of trees and shrubs with Japenese Maples everywhere made this shady garden so cool and refreshing to walk through. It was very peaceful and secluded.

You can see why I loved the gardens and I spent so much time here. When the brochures says:

"Spectacular spring bursts forth in a show of unparalleded beauty. One of the finest displays in the world heralds the season with hundreds of thousands of bulbs" . . . it really means it! I don't think I've every seen anything prettier!

I felt so fortunate to be able to take in so much beauty. Above me is a Rhododendron - - an enormous flowering shrub. These shrubs were everywhere in the gardens. . . and in reds, pinks, salmon and white. The blossoms are huge!

Butchart Gardens are an example of one womens dream to beautify a ugly, barren piece of ground and turn it into something beautiful. It is now a National Historic Site. You can see what's possible in a climite of 100's on inches of rainfall each year, an army of gardeners and volunteers . . . greenhouses full of gardeners dedicated to producing amazing plants varieties.

What a thrill to have spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon strolling this gardern paradise! It was such an unforgetable and perfect day! And the fact that I got to share it all with my best friend, who also appreciated the spectacular surroundings and beauty, made it all the more special! It was a truly memorable ocassion!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spring . . . it's finally here!

It's finally spring. . . . at least for today! Tomorrow might bring more winds, snow flurries, rain and cold again. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to finally see green grass and have the trees start to get their leaves. We've had a looooong winter so looking out and seeing my yard finally show signs of spring does my heart good.
Even though we had a long winter, I was warm and cozy in my sewing room working on projects all winter long. I spend a lot of time in this room because I'm surrounded by bright fabric colors, photos of my children and grandchildren, quotes and other things I love. It's a room where I can let my creative juices flow. . . listen to good music and enjoy this time of my life.

When it looked like this in my back yard, I was so grateful to have a warm cozy room to work on some of my favorite winter projects.

I'd go through the back yard several times a day . . . both morning and night to feed the cats and horses, just staying out long enough to do my chores. Then I'd come back inside to my nice warm home and find something some project to work on that I was interested in.

The winter months were a good time to learn new sewing techniques that I 'm interested in. This is an example of some tiny little houses I made for a birthday gift for a special friend. It says, "The way is never too far . . . to the home of a friend." The method is called paper piecing and the pieces are tiny and precise. It was a lot of fun and a great way to use tiny scaps of fabric.
I've always enjoyed making gifts for family and friends. As I'm working on the gift I am thinking of them and hoping they'll enjoy it as much a I loved making something special for them.

In December the quilt quild members exchanged a quilt block at our Christmas party. I was given a salt box house block. I couldn't decide how to use just one block. Then I had the inspiration to add sashing (strips of fabric around the block) quilt it and make it into a pillow. I love it! I think it turned out really cute!

I like to learn new patterns but don't want to make large quilts out of each new pattern I try, so I've made several mini quilts for my tables. This pattern is called "flying geese" . . . it's found a spot on one of my end tables.

And this little table runner is called "little spools". Just the thing for someone who loves to sew and uses lots of spools of thread!

The quilt quild that I belong to challenged each member to make a "snowball" baby quilt. (The snowballs are the large white squares.) It was a wintry day and I didn't want to go to the fabric store so I made this from my fabric stash. The pink in the quilt is from a small amount of leftover fabric scraps I had from an outfit I made Lani for her 11th birthday. I added other coordinating fabrics to make it large enough. After I finished piecing and quilting it I gave it to Payton as kind of an heirloom quilt. . . from mother to daughter to granddaughter.