This late start to the school year has me all discombobulated. Back to school photos happened on September 23 ...this was the last first day of school photo I would be taking of the boys together in front of the front door. Adam has started grade 12 and there are all sorts of lasts and firsts that will come with that!
And then there are all the other things that come with back to school...pulling out the slow cooker, hockey and soccer games and the changing of the seasons.
So the world keeps turning, the seasons keep changing, life keeps moving forward. And its the little things that help us keep things in perspective.
I continue on my quest of sharing #justlittlethings photos via Instagram each day this month. Some days are easier than others and the stars align and something happens that lines up with a page in the book. Other days, I realize that the book's author leads a different life than me and I have many other #justlittlethings that make me happy because of who I am, where I live and what I love. So I thought I would share some other simple pleasures in my life this month.
being able to pull off the road and up to a farm stand to buy strawberries...
fresh baked banana muffins on a Sunday morning...
being able to walk out the back door, sit down and take in lots of green...
trying a new recipe...
taking time to enjoy a beautiful sunset...
There have been lots of amazing sunsets this month. Sunsets always put the world into perspective for me, standing along the river or ocean, realizing how much bigger the world is than me and my "first world" problems. Have been needing that this month.
When my sisters and I were going through my mom's kitchen, we found her last batch of blackberry jelly. It was a favourite growing up and my dad would go berry picking, coming home with scratches on his arms and legs so that mom could make jelly. All I remember ever seeing in the process was the big bag of cheescloth tied up with twine to one of our cabinet doors dripping luscious blackberry juice into a big bowl on the kitchen counter underneath the bag. And then, magic, there were little jars of jelly. I still remember way back when mom's jelly had a coating of paraffin wax on the top as that was the way jams and jellies used to be preserved.
This summer, my sister took one of my mom's last jars of blackberry jelly back to Philadelphia with her. A very tangible memory to be appreciated and loved.
I have been on a bit of a canning blitz this summer and printed my labels for blackberry jelly back in July, long before the blackberries growing over our fence were beginning to ripen. I was determined to make blackberry jelly this year in honour of my mom. I usually make jam - so much simpler and faster and last year when I was hoping to make blackberry jelly, time just slipped away as once school had started it's like poof, time disappears and jelly was not made.
This year, not by my choosing, there has been some extra time available and I also had two teenage boys at home to help with the picking. We used to be able to just walk down to Railway and gather ice cream buckets full of berries but those bushes were all taken out for the lovely new pathway. We ventured to the Terra Nova area and to another favourite picking spot near Garry Point and came back with some end of season berries. I added some picked from the bushes crawling over our side fence into our yard and from the local farm market and had a enought for a batch of jelly.
Blackberry jelly made from freshly picked local berries has a depth of flavour that just can't be matched with store bought jams. By using about 20% berries that weren't ripe (reddish) I didn't need to add any pectin so pretty simple - berries, natural cane sugar and lemon juice.
One of my sisters gave me the book Just Little Things for Mother's Day this year. My mom had always liked these little inspirational books. Its been sitting by my reading chair and at the end of August, when many things seemed to be heading towards doom and gloom, I decided I needed some reminders to be grateful, to appreciate my life and to be.
Starting on September 1, I have been using the diptic app on my iphone and creating an image with a photo from my day alongside a page from the book. Some #justlittlethings from the beginning of September...
my last sleep-in morning for probably months
lots of stories from passionate educators this week
Each year when we visit the Oregon Coast in the summer, we try and do or learn something new and visit a new place or two. This year, those things were all rolled into one as we spent a day in Pacific City, Oregon. Pacific City is a small town north of Lincoln City, a few miles off of Highway 101 where two rivers merge near the Pacific Ocean. The town has a population of about 1000 people which I am sure swells in the summer months with all sorts of visitors. There are a few stores and restaurants (really one very short main road and intersection), a hang gliding school, horseback riding stables and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area with its amazing beach, cape, dunes and haystack rock.
The main purpose of our visit to Pacific City was taking part in an all day hang gliding lesson. New place, new learning and trying something we all thought we would never do. Recipe for a good day.
It was a great family experience. So glad we did it! A short video shows our experience from dryland training, to the simulator to repeated launches off the dunes:
After our hang gliding experience, we explored Pacific City a bit more and headed north to Cape Kiwanda to check out the dunes, beach and haystack rock. The parking lot was huge and very full..a very busy place. What looked like a very popular restaurant was right beside the parking lot. I saw the signs for the dory launch (which I had read about before heading here) and hoped that we might see one.
After taking in the amazing views, there was a bit of commotion on the beach and all of a sudden a beautiful blue dory came flying into the bay and propelled itself up on to the beach. The boys didn't quite understand my giddiness about actually seeing this! This beach is only of of two on the entire west coast where dories can launch. One of those things I have always wanted to see.
We loved our day in Pacific City. Its a little off the beaten path and not as well known as some of the other towns on the Oregon Coast which makes it really nice for a little escape. Would love to go back.
This year's 6th Annual Garlic Festival at the Terra Nova Sharing Farm was a family affair. Both boys volunteered, Neil biked around it and I stocked up on garlic and attended a gardening workshop.
Colin was volunteering all day as a first aid attendant and I had to drop him off early. This gave me a chance to walk over to the new playground by the dyke. Amazing.
The community gardens were lush, colourful and full of flowers and produce. It's great to see how this farm has grown over the years.
And then the star of the day...garlic.
I bought bags of garlic to last me for awhile and one XL bulb to plant in the garden this fall. This festival grows and grows every year with thousands of people descending on this lovely spot in our city. I heard so many comments from first-time visitors about what an amazing setting and event it was.
I have had it in my head that I wanted to get to Victoria this summer. It has been a few years since I have been and there was a museum exhibit I really wanted to go to, so I almost had my family convinced to join me for one last summer adventure. The boys, that would be all three of them, just didn't seem into it when we got back from Oregon so it became a girls' trip instead and my good friend joined me for a day away.
After a lovely ferry ride over, we were heading down the highway and saw a sign for a lavender farm so we veered off the highway and had a look around. I guess its been a very hot summer in Victoria because the farmer explained to us that the lavender was already done blooming, three weeks early and that he had actually lost much of his crop to heat burn this year. He grows 30 species of lavender and extracts lavender oil on the farm to create all sorts of food, health and beauty products. I'd like to go back to Victoria Lavender when it is in full bloom!
We found a great place to park and headed to the Royal BC Museum for the Our Living Languages exhibit, the main reason for my wanting to go to Victoria. The exhibit was interactive and well-done highlighting the importance of language to culture and the role place plays in language as well.
After the exhibit and a stroll through the Empress rose garden, we ducked into a washroom to change into dresses for afternoon tea at the Empress, a very special treat. I've never been before and may never go again but in the spirit of seizing the moment and living each day like it might be your last, we went for it. Such a lovely experience.
The Empress Rose Garden
The Empress Blend Tea
After our leisurely tea, we wandered around the harbour a bit, commenting on what a beautiful city Victoria is.
And then we headed home via BC Ferries, so lovely and peaceful and beautiful.
We commented on how just a day away seemed like we had been on a holiday. Such a nice end of summer adventure in beautiful BC.