Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dragon Boat Races - Victoria, Canada

When our ferry pulled into the Victoria Harbour, boat races were under way. Now these weren't your ordinary boat races; these were The Dragon Boat races.

I was amazed by how many people were invovled; old and young. I was impressed by how much grey hair I saw!. It somehow inspired me (no not to grow my roots out). I saw this enjoyment for life a lot on my trip - older people engaged in outside activity. Maybe it's because they are indoors so much of the year? Who's to say? Again, it inspired me somehow. Who knows? Maybe I'll join a dragon team of my own! Check out the following site for a Dragon Boat race near you: http://www.dragonboatcalendar.com/

The BC Parliament Buildings in Victoria were constructed in 1893 by a young 25 year old creative architect, imagine that - just 25, by the name of Francis Rattenbury in honor of celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The festival was in full swing by the time we made it to the tent area. Don't you just love these drummers! They were really good too! One thing about these dragon people: They certainly know how to have a good time. I would venture to say that I saw more beer drinking than paddling going on. We tried to order a glass of wine on the ferry on the way back to Port Angeles but the Dragon Racers had drank it all! Linda and I had to settle for a gin and tonic....darn!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pretty in Pink

Isn't she lovely??? Taken at The Butchart Gardens - Victoria, Canada. It was in a vase on the table where we dined for lunch.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sun Dried Tomatoes

These have been the biggest producers. The name is of this tomato is appropriately called San Diego. We purchased these at Walter Anderson Nursery and were told they were developed for the San Diego climate. I live near the coast and our nights are not as warm as I've heard tomatoes like. Anyhow, I purchased a 6 pack of these gems and gave one plant to a East Coast transplant that has been gardening longer than I've been born. He told me these were the best tomatoes he's ever grown.

What to do when one has too many tomatoes...sun dry them! You'd think with all the sun we have here in San Diego that would be an easy task but I dried them in the oven. I cut the tomatoes into thick slices and then cut the slices in half. I sprinkled them with a little sea salt and Herbs of Provence. I baked them in the oven at 200 all night and when we woke, the house smelled wonderful and voila, sun dried tomatoes! I did this every night this week. Did you know that it takes 20lbs of tomatoes to make 1 pound of sun dried?

I'm freezing them and will had them to olive oil and home grown herbs for Christmas presents.

Note: Be sure to spray your baking pan prior with olive oil spray. Baking them seemed to carmalize them a little in some places, leaving them browned and sweet. My husband keeps eating them like candy.


Picture #4 of my Washington/Victoria trip

I do not know the name of this rose. Taken at The Butchart Gardens, Victoria, B.C..

Friday, August 22, 2008


Picture #3 of my Washington/Victoria trip

Among the roses, the ‘Peace’ rose is unique. It has truly played a significant role in world peace.
It was christened the day that Berlin fell in 1945. That same year, Dr. Ray Allen, secretary of the American Rose Society, arranged for each of the 49 delegations at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco to receive a bud vase with a single, long-stemmed ‘Peace’ rose. He attached the following note, “We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

On the fiftieth anniversary of the rose’s introduction, the firm responsible for its creation released some notes that Francis Meilland had recorded about the plant. He and his father were owners of Meilland, the legendary French rose firm. He wrote, “For all people of good will who love flowers and the rose in particular, it gives the opportunity to praise God with ‘Gloria Dei,’ (the name under which the rose was known in Germany) to conquer life with a smile—with ‘Gioia,’ (the name the Italian rose growers gave the plant) to wish for peace with ‘Peace,’ and for us it is an everlasting remembrance of Mme. A. Meilland.”

Naturally, the most remarkable feature of ‘Peace’ is its flowers. These can be six to seven inches wide. They’re fully double with over fifty petals. Depending on the climate, the flowers can vary somewhat in color. Here’s what Robert Pyle of Conard-Pyle wrote in 1945 to Francis Meilland, “While dictating this letter my eyes are fixed in fascinated admiration of a glorious rose, its pale gold, cream and ivory petals blending to a lightly ruffled edge of delicate carmine. I am convinced this will be the greatest rose of the century.”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Love's Promise

Picture #2 of my Washington/Victoria trip

Butchart Gardens Victoria, Canada

Love's Promise
I promise to love you, as you - always
And for tomorrow, if it should ever come
Until the sun shines no more
And the moon has lost its glow
When Alpha and Omega rest side by side
Only to hear his majesty's calling
And we as one take that last walk
Towards eternity.

~Jacqualine Williams Rippy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cherry Parfait - Butchart Gardens

Picture # 1 of my Washington/Victoria trip

I just returned from an amazing trip to visit my friend Linda in Washington. We spent an afternoon at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada.

The above picture is a rose named Cherry Parfait. It was introduced to The Butchart Gardens by France in 2003.

Return tomorrow for a picture a day from my wonderful trip.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Miss you Mom

If I sit really still and close my eyes, I can see her. I can feel her. I can hear her. She was taken from us too soon.

I can feel the times we spent together hanging out in the kitchen or watching Wheel of Fortune. I can feel dancing the jitterbug with her in the kitchen. I can hear her as we would harmonize a song together.

I can see her bent over the sewing machine when I awoke from a bad dream in the middle of the night as a child. I don’t think she ever slept.

I can see her in her duster and slippers on a race against her "to-do" list. I can hear her go on and on about something she had read in the morning newspaper that just wasn’t right.

I can smell her Este Lauder perfume that she wore on occasion and see the sun glistening from her beautiful hair.

I can see her hanging her sheets out to dry and pulling weeds in the front yard.

I see her beautiful smile – always happy to see me and never in a bad mood.

I sit at the computer with tears running down my cheeks onto my pajamas. I cry for selfish reasons now; for a life we could have shared – for times she has missed. I cry for the look of pride she always had when she saw her granddaughter – I cry because I miss my Mom.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lavender Day

We will be planting about 20 additional lavender plants in the garden today. My husband is from Provence where it is ALL about lavender. His Mother often cooks with it. My darling french girlfriend just gave me a lavender sachel and soap last night as a gift from her recent trip to France. Merci Beatrice!

I've had good and bad luck with lavender. The climate here in Sunny San Diego is perfect, yet the soil is not. The soil in my garden is clay and lavender needs good draining soil. I have to compost like crazy and at times even throw the orginal soil away. I remember the soil in my Grandfathers garden in Lincoln Nebraska. It was rich; almost black. Anyhow, I've amended like crazy and will even add some cactus or maybe palm mix to help with the drainage.

When the plants mature (like the pic above) it will bring a bit of "home" to Jean Louis. Funny how the lavender here can be called French Lavender but it looks nothing like the lavender I've seen in Provence.

These cookies are probably better classified as shortbread.
1 cup butter2 cups sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers1 cup self-rising flour
Cream butter and sugar; add egg. Mix in lavender and flour. Place small heaps on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown in color.

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pesto ~ Pistou

The French call basil the “royal plant” - “l’hebre royale”, and there is a good reason for that. In accordance with research, the scent of basil has a positive effect on people’s attitudes and outlook. Wow, no wonder I've been feeling so good lately!

In French cuisine, basil is an important herb. The most famous basil dish is pesto - and the French have their own version, called “pistou”. Pistou means pounded in the Proven├žal language and is most often associated with the Provencal dish Soupe au Pistou. I will make this for my hubby when the weather cools a bit.

We have alot of basil in le jardin. I finally made pesto for the first time. I think there are are as many recipes for pesto as there are cooks so I created my own. Try using it as a marinade for bbq fish or chicken. We use it as our main ingredient for salad dressing. I will prepare more this weekend and freeze it in ice cube trays to use when the plants are no longer. Jean Louis brought a lovely pestle and mortar from the South of France when he moved here. I will use it next time.

Nancy's Recipe for Pistou
1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
one small handful of raw pine nuts
3/4 cup quality Parmesan, FRESHLY GRATED
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Roast pine nuts in a heavy pan until lightly golden (sans oil).
Roast garlic unpeeled in same pan until it becomes dark brown. Peel and chop. (I did one batch without roasting it in pan and the garlic taste was stronger)
Add to food processor and pulse
Use baby leaves (about 2 cups) to food processor and pulse (I like it a little coarse)
Add oil last.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Aubergine - Green Thumb Sunday!

I was not the biggest fan of eggplant until I met my French husband that grew up in the south of France. Ratatouille anyone??

These beauties grow very well here in my sunny San Diego garden. Yesterday was my first harvest. Harvest plants after they develop color, but before they lose their shine. Seeds on over-ripe fruit turn brown. Check for maturity by pushing on one side of the fruit with the ball of the thumb. If the fruit does not spring back when released, it is mature. Cut the stem with pruning shears and leave some stem on the fruit.

My friend gave me this recipe which I will make this afternoon (after a long walk on the beach)

Eggplant Dip

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.
Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend.
Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with toasted pita triangles or crackers.

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Friday, August 1, 2008

Be Kind

Do you know who won (or who is winning) Le Tour De France? Can you name an Olympic Gold medalist from the last Olympics? How about naming a recent Pulitzer Prize Winner? Name one – any one. Can you tell me who won Miss America or who won an academy award for best actor?? If you are like me, you probably struck out on most of these questions.

I wonder, however, if you can tell me who the last person was that told you “I love you". Can you remember the last random act of kindness someone did for you? Can you tell me the last time a stranger smiled at you that made your day? Can you remember a sweet random thing that your parent or Grandparent did for you when you were little? What about a teacher that made a difference?

Great acts may go down in the history books but it’s those small acts of kindness that we do for each other that will be remembered.

Weekend Homework: Try a little kindness this weekend – do something spontaneous for someone. Find a cause and help make a difference.

Don't wait for people to be kind;
show them how.