6/22/11

Leaving the Nest

We have a family of chickadees living in our backyard. Earlier this evening I heard a lot of peeping and chatter coming from the Juniper shrub.  I peered through the branches and sure enough, there they were, collecting food and feeding babies. They’re fully feathered fledglings (say that 10 times fast) and it seems that it is the time of year for leaving the nest. Last week I was dive-bombed several times by a protective Red-Winged Blackbird. They must be especially vigilant once their babies start to wander from the safety of the nest.

chickadee faded

The cats have  a great view of all this activity.

cat window faded

Anyway, sorry for the grainy photos, but it was getting dark and the sky was already grey and gloomy. I have yet to improve my low-light skills :) Any tips would be great!

C

6/21/11

Rose Petals

The other night I felt inspired to make use of the rose petals in your backyard before they all fell to the ground. I poked around online, looking for some recipes to inspire me. I found several jelly recipes (with rose petals or rose hips), and many other concoctions including tea, candy, honey, and butter. Being that it was a spur of the moment idea I only had one mason jar, so jelly would have to wait. I decided to dry a few rose petals to see how they turned out. At the very least they would be pretty, and I could try steeping a few with some black tea.

Most of the roses in our garden have a beautiful but fairly mild scent, as Explorer Roses are cultivated for hardiness, not fragrance. The one I chose to pick from was John Cabot. Within a few minutes I had collected almost 2 cups of petals, and barely made a dent in the bush.

Collecting Rose Petals

In the kitchen, I trimmed off the white tips (which is bitter)  and I spread them out on two baking sheets covered in parchment paper. They could also be dried on wire screens over several days, but in our house they would just get covered in cat hair. Most directions suggested baking them for 3 to 4 hours at 200F, but I found that 45 minutes was plenty to dry them out completely. I didn’t bother washing them because they are pesticide-free and I figured any bugs would perish in the oven.

Drying Rose Petals

After letting them cool, I put them in a glass jar to await a future purpose. I just love how the colour turned out~ they’re a deep jewel-toned magenta.

Dried Roses

And oh yes~ happy first day of Summer! Here is the recipe for Mojito Sorbet. It turned out wonderfully (if a little large to fit in my ice cream maker) and it was a light, refreshing complement to our fajita feast. Don’t skip on adding the rum, because that’s what keeps it from freezing to a solid ice cube.

6/20/11

Hanging on

These bean sprouts have been growing in a planter for a few weeks now. They seemed so small at first but now they are beginning to climb up the wooden stakes. I took the first photo around noon when this curly tendril caught my eye.  I walked past the planter a few hours later, and the vine had already leaned over and wrapped itself around the pole.

Beans time elapse diptych

How Zen it would have been to sit there and watch it happen. I must clear my schedule to make time for such things.

Violets

I have so much love for this little flower. Beautiful colour, perfectly painted little faces, and a gracefully dainty little neck.

Violets and Leaves2

Violets and Leaves profile

~xo

6/19/11

Bumblebees in the Garden

Last week we had a big crop of irises growing in front of the rosebushes. I loved watching the bees as they collected pollen from the roses, but their approach with the irises was much more entertaining.

irises

It was so funny to watch them crawl in head first with their little legs stretched out behind their fat little bums, and to emerge dusted with yellow pollen.

Flight of the Bumblebee

A couple of photo tips I learned from this:

Using Sport Mode to shoot moving insects (or animals) seemed to make a huge difference. The ones I shot with my regular settings were considerably more blurry.

When shooting a sequence of movements, consider composition more carefully (where possible). As I took these photos, I never occurred to me that I might want to put them together in a mosaic. It would have been more interesting if they were all from the same angle or from completely different angles (top, side, below, etc.)

6/18/11

Cats on the Windowsill

I am long overdue for a trip to the farm; I fear I could be missing the roses, peonies and poppies. The weather has been beautiful, and at least I’ve been spending time outside and getting fresh air. Today I did a few walking errands and gave the dog  a bath in the backyard. The cats have also been enjoying our deep windowsills, and today they spent some time basking out on the sun porch and relaxing in the cool breeze.

Paige Windosill

Roxie Windowsill

We’re also enjoying a lot of food with family this weekend. My brother cooked for us last night (lamb sausage wth tomato cream sauce and pasta) and tomorrow we’re celebrating Father’s Day with fajitas and mojito sorbet in the backyard. I haven’t used my ice cream churner for years; I’ll let you know how it works out!

Hope you’re having a great weekend! I’d love to hear about it~ leave a link in the comments if you’ve blogged about it.

C

6/13/11

Columbines

These last few weeks I haven’t really spent much time blogging, taking pictures, or doing anything very creative, except cutting flowers. We’re just trying to settle in and work out our new routines. I have yet to set up my work room so that I can paint and do other crafts, but on Saturday I did spend a bit of time on the computer. I made a new dragonfly, inspired by the columbines that are popping up all over the back garden.

DRAGONFLY COLUMBINE PINK WM

I’ve also noticed that my favourite field is full of dragonflies now (and probably butterflies too). Hopefully this week I will have time to take the camera on my first scout of the year.

6/8/11

National Parks Project

I wanted to share a little piece of Canadiana with you.

National-Parks-Project-Soundtrack 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada, and to celebrate it, a film and music collaboration was born. Inspired by our richly diverse landscape, filmmakers and musicians teamed up to create a series of beautiful, short films featuring forests, oceans, mountains and lakes. I won’t say too much, because I am still taking it all in and savouring it, but you should definitely check it out for yourself.

A friend of mine, Amanda Sage, wrote a great story about the founders of this project. Read the article on her website, Kickass Canadians.

Roses in Bloom

Hello there! I haven’t been around here much because we have been busy moving and settling into a new house! We are so happy to have more space, and a beautiful garden. I haven’t had a lot of time (or energy) for many photo walks, but here is a little peek inside our backyard. We have several rosebushes, in which the chickadees seem to love hiding. The first one is a Yellow Rose of Texas, and the other two are Explorer Roses. They are Canadian varieties, bred for their winter-hardiness. Read more about them here. 

yellow texas

red explorer rose

explorer roses 

What’s blooming in your garden right now?

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