Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Watering Grandma

Noah is the best gardener ever.  He loves to help Bana water the flowers.  He loves to help Bana water the cats.  He loves to help Bana water whatever he can possibly get away with pointing the hose at, including Bana.  That is a very very funny thing to do.  Everything is funny when you're Noah, but watering Bana is incredibly high on the giggle meter.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Remember those super cute vintage cowgirl tags that I got from Jessica in a swap recently?  They were perfect for a summer garland for our front porch.  I had actually found this rusty metal star wire at a yard sale for a quarter, and the minute that I opened that swap package and found those tags inside I knew that they would be perfect together.  I tied on a few pieces of ripped red gingham and it's just the right touch for our summertime porch. 

Do you have a front entry way that you decorate for the seasons?  What is brightening up the space this summer?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cupcakes Anyone?

You too can make these super cute crocheted cupcakes.  The pattern is by Ana Paula and can be found here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Craigdarrach Castle

I've been meaning to post about some of the places we visited while in Victoria, but it seems that something always comes up and I put things off until it's been a couple of weeks since we went on our little trip and I almost feel as if it's old news and I should just post something else.  That almost happened with this also, but I decided that it's not old news if I haven't told anyone yet, right?  So here we go....

Castle's fascinate me.  I often imagine myself in the mists of Ireland and Scotland, exploring the ruins of old castles, so when I read about Craigdarroch Castle I knew that we had to go.  The castle was built in the late 1800's for Scottish immigrant Robert Dunsmuir and his family.  Mr. Dunsmuir made his fortune in the British Columbia coal industry and had the castle built on a hill overlooking the city as a status symbol of his wealth.  It screamed loud and clear that the wealthiest family in Western Canada lives here.  The castle has 39 rooms or so and they are all lavishly adorned in beautiful woods and incredible stained glass windows. 

I took this picture looking straight up into the staircase.  I can't remember for sure, but I think the castle has six floors, maybe more.  It totally makes you feel a bit dizzy looking up like this, but it's also spectacular.  Look at all of that gorgeous wood and the work that was involved in it.

Unfortunaly, Robert Dunsmuir died before the castle was finished, so he never had a chance to live here.  His wife, Joan and daughters lived in it until the daughters married and moved away and until Joan's death in 1908.  A couple of the Dunsmuir sons also lived in the castle part time, but for the most part it was only occupied by the women of the family. 

This is one of the many parlor type rooms on the first floor.  Each room has a fireplace, all with different beautiful mantels. 

One of the Dunsmuir daughters inherited the castle upon her mothers death, but sold it pretty quickly, so the castle was only in the family for a mere 18 years.  I found that kind of sad, that the patriarch of the family had the castle built, never got to live in it and then it was only kept in the family for such a short time.

Loving this maids apron and thinking about trying to replicate it.  Someday when I stop procrastinating....

After the castle was sold by the family, it was used for a time as a Military Hospital then a music school.  If I'm remembering correctly, it was also used by the school district as offices. 

The billards room where the ladies of the house apparently entertained many friends. 

Inside the Turret Room. This would have been my favorite place had I lived in the castle.  Look at that tile floor.  Beautiful.  Wonderful views of the city from here.  The castle is now surrounded by a very nice neighborhood but was once situated on 28 acres of gardens, streams, ponds and a lake.  Just imagine the view then from this tower.  Would have been incredible.

The Breakfast Room.  This room was beautiful.  Lots of natural light and beautiful furnishings.  Even the dishes were gorgeous.  I want a room just for breakfast.  All set up and waiting for when I leisurelly get out of bed and wander in for some fresh squeezed orange juice.  No servants though.  I don't want that, so who the heck is going to squeeze those oranges?

Headed over to Ancestory.com to do some more tracing on my Scottish ancestors, hoping to find the Dunsmuir line and prove that I should be able to move right into the castle...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dashwood Manor

With elegant grace and charm, Dashwood Manor B&B sits at the edge of the world, overlooking the beautiful Juan de Fuca Strait on British Columbia's Vancouver Island. 

Riff and I have been wanting to visit Victoria for quite some time now.  It is only a few hours from our home on the Oregon coast, so we decided that the long memorial day weekend was jut the opportunity that we had been looking for.  We decided that we wanted to stay at a Bed and Breakfast, somewhere nice so that we could spend leisurly quiet time there as well as exploring the city.  A year ago we had thought about taking this trip and I had searched the internet then for B&B's.  I had found Dashwood Manor and had fallen in love, so immediately headed back there.  Riff and I oohed and aaahed over the rooms, then got down to business and picked our three favorites so that we would have a back-up plan in the instance that our first choice was already booked up. 

Our first choice was the Kensington Room.  We looked at the booking schedule and of our three choices, it was the only one available. Yeah!  (The light was fighting with me, but if you go to the Dashwood Manor site and click into the rooms tab, you can see a spectacular picture of it.)  Three big windows look out onto the sea.  The paved path that runs along the beach line just happens to be a leash-free area right here, so any given moment you can look out and see dogs frolicking off leash with their owners.  Very fun. The room itself has the most comfortable four-poster bed you will ever sleep in with lavish linens and lots of pillows.  Ahhhh!  A loveseat sits in the corner and is just the perfect place for some light reading and napping when you are enjoying some quiet time in the room.  A gas fireplace adds just a touch of ambiance and the old-fashioned radiater brought me joy.  I love stuff like that.  Our room also had a private bath, which is something I always want.  Shared baths are for the birds!

(this picture was abducted from the Dashwood Manor webpage)
Our hosts, Dave and Sharon, were welcoming, warm and genuine.  Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the front door and shown into the foyer where we were immediately made to feel at home.  Dave gave us some background on the house and told us about the neighborhood, as well as tips on getting around Victoria and places to see while we were visiting. 
The manor is a 1912 English Tudor, built by Arthur Lineham, a prominent businessman, as a family home for Arthur, Eleanor and their children.  A wonderful, fascinating history of the manor can be found here.  The house is in the historic Fairfield neighborhood.  Riff and I, the first evening that we were there, took the opportunity for a long walk around the neighbordhood.  Dave had told us that there were many Character houses within just a few blocks and we were not disappointed.  Beautiful old homes with lovely gardens and very very few in disrepair.  It is definately a neighborhood that takes pride in itself. Beautiful to see. 

Breakfast at Dashwood Manor is a delightful thing!  I failed to get any pictures of either the incredible food or the light and airy breakfast room, but believe me when I say that it's to die for.  Coming into the breakfast room, we were greeted by Dave, who had just brought in fresh fruit accented with a dollop of creamy yogurt and glasses of juice.  We were to help ourselves to coffee or tea.  The tea is called Silk Road and is specially blended by a lady in Victoria.  The first morning I choose a blend, (that I don't recall the name of), of lavendar, spearmint, and jasmine.  It was incredibly good.  Light and not overpowering with it's florals.  Next we were served light, buttery croissants with slices of brie.  Mmmm....and then, oh my! French toast with a raspberry filling.  Absolutely incredible! 
Morning two's breakfast consisted of fresh strawberries, apricot ginger scones and mushroom quiche.  Just as wonderful as day one.  An absolute delight.

               This incredible stained glass window greets you at the landing on the staircase. Gorgeous!

Dashwood Manor is just a few steps away from Cook Street Village, where we found Beacon Pub, a great little local hangout with wonderful food, and our hosts directed us to a pizza place that cooks in an authentic wood-burning oven. The pizza was incredible!

The manor is also a very easy and leisurly walk to downtown Victoria, but also far enough away from the hub-bub of the city that it is a quiet and relaxful place to be.
A huge thank-you to our hosts, Dave and Sharon.  We are looking forward to visiting again and will recommend Dashwood Manor to anyone visiting your beautiful city.

(I will be posting more on our time in Victoria.  Dashwood Manor was so beautiful that I thought it deserved a post of it's own!)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

TTPT....and a Giveaway!

(Update~ Paige from Funny Magic is the winner of my extra copy of Anne of Windy Poplars.  Thanks for all your comments!)

I'm late - I'm late - for a very important date.  No time to say hello - goodbye. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.
(The March Hare in Alice in Wonderland as he's rushing off for the tea party.)  Here it is, the first Thursday of the month and I'm just posting for Turn the Page...Tuesday.  Ah well, we can't all be on time...

Brittany sent me 'God Never Blinks' by Regina Brett for Mother's Day and it was the perfect gift.  Regina is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper and this little book is full of her writings; the 50 life lessons she has learned.  Regina grew up in a very large family, always feeling lost in the crowd.  So lost that she thought that God had probably blinked the moment she was born, so never realized that she was there.  Many years and hardships later, Regina has changed her thinking and knows that God Never Blinks.  This book has much wisdom between it's covers and is well worth the read.
From the Introduction:
"It took me 40 years to find and hold on to happiness.  I always felt that at the moment I was born, God must have blinked.  He missed the occasion and never knew I had arrived...I ended up confused by the nuns at age 6, a lost soul who drank too much at 16, an unwed mother at 21, a college graduate at 30, a single mother for 18 years, and finally, a wife at 40, married to a man who treated me like a queen.  Then I got cancer at 41.  It took a year to fight it, then a year to recover from the fight.
When I turned 45, I lay in bed reflecting on all life had taught me.  My soul sprang a leak and ideas flowed out.  My pen simply caught them and set the words on paper.  I typed them up and turned them into a newspaper column of the 45 lessons life taught me."   -Regina Brett

When Regina turned 50, she added 5 more lessons, thus the 50 lessons life taught me.

Letters From Yellowstone by Diane Smith transported me to 1898 Yellowstone Park, where Alexandria Bartram is invited to join a field study group collecting and catalouging Yellowstone's flora.  Alexandria was invited based on her college studies and her letters of inquiry that she signed simply A.E. Bartram, so upon her arrival at Mammoth Hot Springs, the professor in charge of the expeditian is shocked to find a woman, and not the young male scientist that he was expecting.   Alexandria must work harder and prove herself worthy and knowledgeable in order to not be sent back. 
From the back cover:
'Once the scientist overcome the shock of having a woman on their team, they forge ahead on a summer of adventure, forming an elightening web of relationships as they move from Mammoth Hot Springs to a camp high in the backcountry.  But as they make their way collecting amid Yellowstone's pristine beauty-threatened even a century ago by misguided tourism-the group is splintered by differing views on science, nature, and economics.
This delightful epistolary novel captures an ever-fascinating era and charts one woman's dramatic journey to a greater understandingof herself and her place in the world.'

This book was delightful and fun, but didn't have a lot of action, though there are many well done tense moments between the members of the party.  It is written all in letters and is really a good read.

For June, Adrienne has challenged us to read an American Classic.  I love the classic's and have a couple on my shelves that I have yet to read so have thrown my gloves in the ring for this one.  Won't you join in?  The more the merrier!

                                              Speaking of classics, I was re-arranging my bookshelves recently and bringing down a box of books from the attic to add to a newly re-done shelf.  I found that I have two copies of the 4th book in the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne of Windy Poplars.  Anne of Green Gables is certainly a classic, though a Canadian classic, but no matter, I would like to give my extra copy of Anne of Windy Poplars away to someone who doesn't have a copy and would like one.  Just let me know in the comments and the book is yours.  If there is more than one of you who would like it, I will use random.org to pick a winner in a couple of days.  How about Sunday?  Sounds good to me.  A winner on Sunday. 

Happy Reading!