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Archive for April, 2008

Agnes\' dresser, mirror and lampGreat spot for Mom\'s desk

I am so happy to have a few items from my grandparents’ home to use and admire at our cottage. This chest of drawers, the mirror and the lamp all came from my mother’s childhood home in Nelson B.C. I grouped them together in one of the bedrooms, where each fulfills a practical purpose, but together they form a bit of a shrine to my grandmother.

I spent part of all the summers of my childhood at her cottage (and still take my family there for a week or two each year) so it is only right that a few of her lovely old things should find a place, all these years later, at mine.

The desk is also useful and fits perfectly into this corner near the kitchen. My grandfather made it for my mother more than 60 years ago. He was a housebuilder and carpenter, and she saw him making it in the basement, without any idea that it was meant for her. On Christmas morning, there it was, beside the tree. There are a few places on the desk where his carpenter’s pencil lines are preserved under the varnish like a fossil in amber.

My grandfather was born in 1884 and served in Belgium in the Great War until discharged at age 34. He became a father in his late 50’s and lived into his 90’s.

When I was a little girl, he would sit on the porch at his cottage and watch us swim in the lake. When I’d had too much sun, he would let me beat him at cribbage. He once bought me a packet of stickers with my name on them and I stuck the biggest, shiniest one on his dashboard so he would think of me each time he got in his car.

I never miss a chance to tell my sons about the memories I associate with some of the things that have been passed down to me. While it isn’t possible or practical to preserve everything, I like to think that something now in our cottage will someday find a lasting home with one of my boys, and will serve as a connection to memories of this time and this place. 

 

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Delavay Olive in full fragrant bloom

While I appreciate your help, House Bloggers, I had to go to the experts. I signed up at GardenWeb and went straight to the Name That Plant forum to post my query. Went to bed, dreamt sweet dreams, and this morning I have my answer: My unknown tree is actually a shrub called Osmanthus Delavayi or Delavay Tea Olive or, by its common name, Sweet Olive. Apparently, I am in for a treat this Friday, when the day is meant to be fine and I should find my shrub in full bloom and exuding a sweet ‘Daphne-like aroma.”

Great Plant Picks says this is a fragrant, blooming evergreen shrub that adds interest to the garden year round. It is easy to grow in full sun or part shade, drought tolerant once established, adapts to a wide range of soil types, and can be easily maintained through summer pruning.

I’m very relieved to know that it is “quite amenable to trimming” as one nursery site noted, since I intend to give it a jolly good haircut after it has done blooming. While I didn’t find too much information about the root structure, I am prepared to adopt Cottager’s position that so long as the septic is working, we shouldn’t worry about it. Besides, what are the options? Cut down my Delavay Tea Olive? Not on your life!

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What am I?Unknown shrub/tree

Please have a look at these two photos and let me know if you recognize this. It has small, dark green, leaves with pronounced serrations. Much to my surprise, last weekend it came out in thousands of long cream-coloured blossoms. I expect they have opened further since these photos were taken – if so, I’ll add an updated photo next weekend if I’m still in the dark.

I have three reasons for wanting to identify it:

One, I’m curious;

Two, it needs a significant trimming and I’d like to look up the best time of year to do it;

Three, it is growing on my septic field, and I feel I should have an idea of what sort of root structure it might have and how much of a problem that might ultimately pose.

Any opinion or advice greatly appreciated!

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Needs some TLCA quick sand before the second coatReady to use, if not finished

I had a very particular bookcase size in mind. I wanted it to be squat-ish. No more than 40 inches tall. 

I got this dirt cheap, probably because it was covered in dirt. But it is solid wood and had a good coat of faux granite finish under the grime, so I just filled roughly 4 dozen upholstery tack holes, gave it a light sanding and then two coats of some old white paint we had lying about. As we like to say in Canada . . . Voila!

If the walls ever change colour (!), it stays white. If the walls stay white, then it is only primed and it will get two more coats of something very bold – french blue or aqua.

While the paint decision drags on, I am happy to have a place for favorite games and books. Now I am more determined than ever to find something colourful to replace the cat quilt . . . and the rug . . .

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Morning cake and coffeeCottager\'s wife takes a breakView of Gibsons from Soames Hill

The weather was promised fair for the weekend. We were on the first ferry out on Saturday morning (7:20) and the last back (8:20) on Sunday evening. And in between… what didn’t we do?

We demossed the roof, cleaned the gutters, painted a bookcase, replaced bathroom light fixture and switch, mounted the switchplate (that didn’t get away), repaired dresser drawers, then sanded the dresser runners and waxed them, cleaned out tool shed, measured for screens, chopped dandylions, pulled blackberries . . .

But that’s not all. We also went for a lovely bike ride out to Chaster beach, had a bonfire, went for gelato twice, barbecued burgers (and ate the leftovers for breakfast!), walked on the beach and talked about all kinds of things.

The kids whittled, built Eeyore-style houses on the beach, burned holes in leaves with a magnifying glass and lit dryer lint on fire with a flint and striker (we are in a pyro phase), loafed about in the hammock and occasionally helped out, pushing a broom or chopping wood.

We still found time to read (a bit) and to enjoy morning cake and coffee and afternoon ‘happy hour’ on the deck. On Sunday morning, Cottager and I climbed, for the very first time, to the first look-out on the hiking trails that start just behind our place. The view, as you can see, is spectacular. That’s Vancouver Island in the distance and Gibson’s Landing down below. Over the May long-weekend we plan to pack a lunch and take the boys for a hike to the top. It is a fairly steep 40 minute climb, but the view will be worth it.

 

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Frugality seems to be a blossoming interest in my home and in those of my friends and neighbours. We are hoping to rent out our cottage on the odd weekend, and for a few weeks over the summer, to help with property taxes and improvements, so this month we are focused on some inexpensive finishing touches to make it both a comfortable and desirable retreat for paying guests.  Window screens and a lockable storage room for our personal effects are the two practical projects that stand out, but let’s not forget ambience. 

I found these 10 inch frosted glass vases at the A&N boutique, marked down to $2.99. The polished stones are from Ikea ($1), as are the large glass ‘Glimma’ tea light sets. Total cost for this pair of decorative candle holders is about $12, including a good supply of large tea lights.

 I like the beach-glass finish of these repurposed vases, their shape – vaguely reminiscent of lighthouses – and the smoothness of the pebbles. They will likely live on the mantle, but could easily be moved to the deck.

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I have been enjoying Mary’s Frugal Tips discussion at OwlHaven, and decided to respond to Shana’s request for bread machine recipes with this beaut that I got from my sister-in-law Sue.  This bread is made on the dough cycle, then plopped onto a sheet of parchment and into a cold oven, set to 350 degrees. It has a chewy, bagel-like texture that makes it great for the toaster.

TIP:  Brushing the loaf a few times with water while it is baking also adds some moisture to the oven and gives the bread a slightly glossy, less floury finished appearance.

RAISIN BREAD (Bread Machine dough cycle to oven)

1 cup + 2 Tbsp. water

2 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

3 cups flour

1+ 1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup raisins

Note that if you put all ingredients in your machine at the start, the raisins get a bit beaten up. If you can drop them in about half way through the mixing stage, you will get a prettier product, though if you wait too long, the raisins don’t distribute evenly through the bread (Is it just my machine?) 

Once you have lightly shaped your finished dough on a parchment-covered baking sheet, pop it into your cold oven on a middle rack and set the oven to 350 degrees and the timer for 35 minutes. 

Let me know how you like it.

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