Calling Friends, Artists and All Onlookers – Check It Out Again!!

Bonnie Michelle at the fabulous nature photography blog, The Iris and the Lily, published one of my oil paintings that was inspired by one of her incredible photographs. Please visit Bonnie’s blog and get a huge dose of nature-inspired uplifting! You won’t believe what Bonnie’s camera can capture in her garden. Thank you so much for this honor, Bonnie! Johanne

The Iris and the Lily

It is an honor to share another interpretation of the natural world at Valley View.   Johanne L. shared she spent part of this last cold, long winter season creating this amazing oil painting.  The photo on the right was taken at the gardens in May of 2012. To visit Johanne’s blog please click on the link:

French Garden Dishes   Thank you Johanne!

Iris close-up                                                                                                                    Johanne's oil painting

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Proust, Madeleines and a Swann Song

For more than 25 years the whole collection of Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”, was stacked on my night stand.  On a trip to Paris in 1987, I went seeking immersion in French culture.  In my enthusiasm over discovering an adorable Salon de thé and librairie on the charming Left Bank, I decided I needed to start reading in French again.  I had just finished 7 years of formal university education where I had had no time to read for pleasure.  It was time to balance the deficit.  I shipped 5 CASES  of books back to Toronto, including Proust’s “A la recherche du temps perdu”….all 7 volumes of them, in French. image  Continue reading

Early Spring Front Porch Welcome

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“And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.”  Wordsworth

The calendar says spring and for a few days last week the thermometer, flirting with higher digits, fooled me. With snow again in the forecast, I may have gotten seduced a little too soon by all the spring flowers at the supermarket!  Pussy willows, daffodils, pansies and some brave tulips and hyacinths came home with me and are greeting visitors cheerily at our front door, unaware of the fickleness  of the weather. Continue reading

Flower-Pot Blueberry-Orange Muffins and Coffee in the Garden

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With the hellebores blooming, the witch hazel perfuming the air and the green shoots of the English bluebells and tulips reaching for the sky,  I took an impromptu coffee  and muffin breakfast into the garden on a warmish early spring morning.  To create a garden-themed breakfast,   I decided to make the blueberry muffins in adorable terra cotta flower pots and serve the minneola oranges I was setting out, in a weathered decorative  birdcage.

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Spring Sizzle: Seared Ahi-Tuna Niçoise Salad

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Spring is finally here and even if the thermometer is still fluctuating , I am ready to transition away from the longest stew/soup season in memory and wake up my taste buds with some fresh cuisine.  Salads are always more appealing in sunnier weather and this salad is bursting with flavor, color and interesting texture.  With protein coming from the tuna, eggs and white beans, it is hearty enough for dinner and to satisfy the men in the family.  It is a great option for a meat-free Lent meal.

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DIY: Transforming An Ice-Cream Parlor Chair Into a Flower Planter

imageTransforming a cast-off chair into a flower planter is an easy and fun project.  With yard and garage sales gearing up, now is the time to be on the look-out for a metal chair to repurpose.  My classic ice-cream parlor chair was taken off a friend’s hands when she no longer had any use for it.  Another’s man’s treasure! Continue reading

Maple Syrup Time and an Irresistible Maple Pie

In Québec and New England, it’s maple syrup time.   The maple syrup business is a multi billion dollar business and it operates during a narrow 6-8 week window when the sap of maple trees starts flowing and can be harvested. Tapping season requires daytime temperatures above freezing  with nights below freezing.  40 to 50 gallons of sap are needed to produce 1 gallon of syrup!  No wonder it is on the pricey side!  This year the brutal winter has delayed the season by about 2 weeks. Continue reading