Saturday, November 28, 2009

Flower Harvest

One of the things, among myriads, for which I am grateful this year, is the abundance of flowers in my garden. This is the first year that I always had something fresh to pick and put in the house all season long. It started with violets I believe and ended with the bouquet of fall leaves and berries that I posted a photo of on Thanksgiving. It was so wonderful to step out the door and always find something to brighten up our kitchen table. The only thing I planted in my new stone planters that the insurance man made this year was a bounty of gladiola bulbs. They had a nice long planter in front of the fence and did very well. I planted them late (after he made the planter) but they just had time to bloom well before the hard frosts hit. These were bulbs that I dig up and replant every year, due to our hard winters. I divide them as I dig them, so the amount is growing and so is our pleasure.
I am very thankful for my flower gardens this year, and the pleasure they have brought. The harvest of flowers....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Strawberry Cake

Just to finish up our British Columbia Trip, we had no trouble crossing back over into Washington, and we journeyed to Seattle where we enjoyed a stay at a house in the Fremont area, and some seafood and a trip to the Public Market on Saturday morning. A very nice finish to a wonderful week.
Now I am going to take a break from all our travels, and get back to everyday blogging...
One evening some friends invited us over for dinner, and fixed a wonderful gourmet meal, finishing with this scrumptious cake. I am not a fan of bakery frosting, where you can taste the shortening etc. However I just loved the whipped cream frosting on this cake. I asked how it was done, and they told me it was stabilized whipping cream made this way:
For 1 1/2 cups of frosting, combine 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 2 T. of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, then whip to soft peak stage. Add 2 T. Wilton piping gel and 1 t. clear vanilla (I think regular would work fine) and continue whipping to stiff peaks. Both the piping gel and clear vanilla can be found at Michael's (or other craft store) in the cake decorating dept. My friend said that to frost this cake it took this recipe times 3, or 3 cups of whipping cream etc. She also said to take the beaters out prior to finishing and turn over the mixture by hand. The whipping cream tends to stay soft on the bottom even while firm on top, so mix it up then finish.

They used a regular white Duncan Hines cake mix, then added glazed strawberries on the top. The stabilized whipped cream was piped around that and the bottom for decor. They added a few dark chocolate curls on top and boy did we ever enjoy it! It was beautiful and delicious. Just thought I'd share : )

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

British Columbia trip revisited Part VI

After looking through my photos I realized that there were just too many good ones left over after the last post, so I thought I would post a few more from Butchart. It was so beautiful there, that a person could take hundreds of photographs to enjoy the memory later.
We ran across this unusual shrub, at least unusual to me. It had lavender/purple berries and was very striking. (You can see it better by double-clicking on the photo to enlarge it.) We found out that it is called 'beauty bush' and with good reason. Here is another little viewing house that we climbed to...Nancy is in the top but you can barely see her smiling.

Fall color with delphiniums...a wonderful combination!

Just a few more dahlia's... they were so incredible!

Some of these were so perfectly formed they hardly looked real...and the colors were so vivid. This little house sat behind the dahlia garden, all covered in ivy turned an autumn red. There is an organ housed in there, and every once in a while a family member gives a concert. That would really be a wonderful event to see.
One last photo of the beautiful leaf color...
Good-bye for this time to Butchart Gardens!

Friday, November 13, 2009

British Columbia trip revisited Part V

Our whole trip to British Columbia was based on going to see Butchart Gardens. In the fall of '08 I received an email forward that was a lovely scene of Butchart in the autumn. I forwarded it along to my good friend Nancy and she replied "why don't we plan a trip there next fall?" So this trip was a year in the planning and dreaming. And now finally, it was the day to go visit Butchart.
We started out with a 'typical English breakfast' as our host told us, in this pretty dinning room. A very nice way to start the day. The B & B was only a few minutes away from the Gardens so we had a nice leisurely breakfast and packing up.
John and I had been to Butchart on our 25th anniversary, but our friends had never been there. What a treat we were in for! The weather was still cool, but not as cold and there were only a few minor showers, no real heavy rain for which we were grateful. They had umbrella's you could use, but I didn't want anything to block my views! As we got our tickets we noticed that they were featuring lunch included with a modest fee added on. So we signed up for lunch and made reservations.
One of my grand kids asked recently what my favorite flower was. I honestly couldn't answer because I have toooo many favorites. In the gazebo as we started they had these lovely baskets of double begonias. *By the way I hope you like long posts, because so many of these photos were beautiful, I couldn't help but post most of the ones I took. Hope you enjoy the tour, and feel like you were there Aunt Elna, Kathy, Julie, Mom and Aunt Wilma!

There are so many unique things about this garden. Because it was planted in an old rock quarry there is a 'canyon' shape to it, and lots of contours. This photo was taken where you climb a hill to a little viewing house on top. Lest you think the insurance man has started drinking coffee, no such luck. He is holding mine while I take the photo.
This is the INCREDIBLE view from the top...and no those colors are not touched up, they are the real thing. I wasn't too sure about a late October visit to the garden but it put all my fears to rest. Everything was more than glorious.... and I don't think the colors could be outdone at any time of the year. The crowds were very small also, another added benefit.

This is me peeping out of the window and taking another breathtaking shot. The head gardener here does an amazing job of putting things together for color and texture and bloom.

One more photo from the top...

Next some photos of the fall color in the trees. Without all the beautiful pine and fir though the color wouldn't have stood out as much. The blending of plants and trees really struck me this visit.

Boy did I enjoy autumn on this wonderful day...

At the far end of the gardens on this side is this natural area, complete with a lake and fountain. In the summer they have fireworks from here, but I think I enjoyed the fall color just as much or more.

This is another photo coming back the way we had strolled....aren't the purple leaves striking?

The insurance man took this photo from the crest before the last view before we went on to other garden areas. It was hard to leave here!

They are adding a children's area, complete with a carousel. Glenn and the insurance man posed for their wives cameras.
Next we went on to another of my favorite flowers, the dahlia gardens. We both enjoy these magnificent specimens of God's creativity... enjoy!

I just love the photo above. It looks like an oil painting, one of God's!
We tore ourselves away from the dahlia's to make our way to the restaurant for lunch.
On the way we saw these circles of single begonia's in the green lawn, and they made such a pretty display.
We also walked through the rose garden, as the house/restaurant is just past it. Of course the roses were mostly past, but there were enough left to really enjoy. The structures present to support trailing roses were more noticeable perhaps, and we examined them to get ideas for our own garden.

We found that we were glad we had made reservations. The ticket/lunch had proved popular, so many were turned away. The restaurant is very pretty and very much like having lunch in a garden.
We each had something different, and everyone loved what they had. The food was absolutely delicious. The insurance man had a burger made from ground sirloin, and he said it was the best ever...and I had an autumn squash soup.
The soup was delightful, but oh my...the dessert. It was a lemon curd that was the best thing I have put in my mouth in a long time. I just had to take a photo to preserve the memory : )

After a very leisurely lunch which we all enjoyed immensely, it was back out to the gardens for some more visual delight.

We visited the rose garden again, the Japanese garden, the Italian garden and then a peep out into Puget Sound. There is a little cove at the far end of the garden where the original Butchart family kept a boathouse and enjoyed the water.
Here is the boat they keep now, named after the lady 'Jennie Butchart' who had the vision for this glorious garden. Note that it's raining now, and starting to get serious.
We began to make our way back to the entrance, and went by this pond in the Italian garden. In the background you can see the house where we had our lunch. Also note the rather large arched wall of arborvitae, and the two white arches cut into it....
I thought this would make a good last photo from our time in the gardens. The arborvitae made a wonderful dividing wall, and I was amazed at how big and well it grew there.
Needless to say, we felt very blessed on this day to have the opportunity to visit here. It made our fall of 2009 memorable. We left reluctantly to drive back to catch the ferry to the mainland. Because we stayed and enjoyed it so long, we didn't arrive at Whistler until about midnight. Glenn did the driving home, which was greatly appreciated while we dozed. A wonderful memory...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Late Veteran's Day

"Blessed be the Lord my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle-"
Psalm 144:1
I'm truly grateful that, since there is evil in the world, God made men to be warriors and boys to grow to be men. May the next generation be prepared to defend, protect and uphold the good, for the sake of the Kingdom.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

British Columbia trip revisited Part IV

Continuing on with our trip... after reaching Victoria we headed straight for the Inner Harbor and the Empress Hotel. This is one of several Victorian-era Hotels in Canada. While growing up in Seattle my family made many trips to Victoria, always to wind up standing & staring in awe at this beautiful building. Later my dad and mom did stay for a week-end here.
At this time of year the ivy is so spectacular! It has lots of variations from green to red. When I was little I always wanted to stay in a room up on the very top, behind one of those little gables. Now I know that those were the servants quarters!

We arrived too late for tea (sorry Kathy) but did enjoy just walking about the grounds first.

Between two 'arms' of the building there were a few little steps down into this courtyard. It was screened in by trees and shrubs, and seemed just like a little hidden place with a fountain in the center.

This photo is looking out from the fountain...back where we came in.

In one side of the garden is this pretty pergola with climbing rose vines all over it. There were still some actually blooming. Now from my part of Oregon we don't have climbing it's always a treat to find some.

And this is from the opposite side of the Empress admiring some fall foliage.

Of course we went in and walked around admiring the decor... and went downstairs to where they have a little alcove showing the history of the hotel, and some old photos. After we returned to the lobby, we decided to go up the elevator...something I had always wanted to do, but had never ventured. We found the fourth floor under renovation. They last had a major renovation in the '80's and so it was time again. These are their best rooms on the fourth floor. After talking with the project manager he OK'd us to look around all we wanted, and we did want to!

In each room there was an original gas lit. They were so pretty, and the details added so much.

We got to see what the views looked like from the inside...and to see the hanging strands of ivy at the windows. We found one room with a rounded corner cupboard by the window. I went in to look and found it was a very tiny toilet room. It must be the most expensive one in the world with that view : )

After finally and relunctantly leaving the empress we crossed the street to the harbor and took this photo of the parliament building. Victoria's famous hanging flower baskets were down for the season, but we did find some planters still blooming with geraniums, marigolds and dusty miller.

We walked to the parliament building and took a last photo of the Empress from there as the light was beginning to fade.

The same architect planned and built both this building and the Empress. We came by this building after it was fully dark, and it is outlined in hundreds if not thousands of white lights. Quite a sight and very impressive.

Out front is this statue of Queen Victoria...the city's namesake. The statue turned out black but you can get the idea. It depicts a young queen Victoria and has been there as long as I can remember (and that's getting to be quite a while now.) After walking around the downtown area a bit longer we found the car and drove over to Victoria's Chinatown. We had decided on Chinese food for dinner but it was crowded and a bit uncomfortable...I think we could have chosen better. Three of us liked our dinners, but Glenn had ordered fried oysters and regretted that until the next day!
Well, another wonderful day drew to a close, so we headed back to our cute B & B for rest and relaxation. It was good to know there was a warm room waiting for us. Tomorrow we were headed for Butchart Gardens.