Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rose Water

Rose water ... a delectable beautifully scented liquid made from the petals of fragrant roses. Used widely in cooking in places such as India and the Middle East to make exotic treats, it may have originated from Persia.

I like to make my own version that I use, not for cooking, but for scenting bath water, as a face wash or to scent linens. Poured into a spray bottle you can use it to spray on yourself to revive your spirits or lightly scent your hair. You can use a fine mist on your linens, sheets and pillow cases to lull you to sleep as the scent of roses helps with stress, to relax and calm the nerves.

My method for making rose water is quick and easy but it is important to remember that it should be kept refrigerated and will last for less than a week. There are no preservatives in it so the water will grow bacteria if kept too long. But it is so easy to make that you can quickly produce a fresh batch as needed, as long as your roses are in bloom. I used petals from a “Cabot” variety from the Explorer series, but the dark pink very fragrant wild roses seem to yield the best results, both for their colour and heady aroma.

1. Gather a bunch of fragrant roses.
2. Remove the petals and place in a glass or metal bowl.
3. Pour boiling water over the petals. You will notice that the colour immediately bleaches from the petals.
4. Let steep until the water has cooled.
5. Strain into an airtight jar or bottle.
6. Refrigerate between uses. Keep for up to 1 week , less if you notice any discolouration or bacteria growth.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lemonade Stands

A perfect day for the Great Glebe Garage Sale, sunny with cooling breezes. Endless tables heaped with treasures waiting to be discovered. Hotdogs and hamburgers cooked on grills along the street corners, musicians providing a sound scape as people sauntered down, some with bicycles, or dogs, or little ones in tow. But the sight that warmed my heart was the tiny entrepreneurs with their lemonade stands, their signage totally charming.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Climbing Clematis

Clematis plants are a great way to introduce a little vertical in your garden. Coming in endless varieties, their beautiful and sometimes nothing short of spectacular blooms can add a much-needed shot of colour to an otherwise drab background. The Clematis, of the family Ranunculaceae, belongs to the buttercup family, a fact I found rather surprising.

If I remember correctly, those pictured here are "Nelly Moser", "Josephine" and "Ice Blue". I planted the last two together thinking they would bloom at different times and thus lengthen the amount time I had blooms along the tool shed wall. Unfortunately that didn't work according to plan, as you can see!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rescue Mission

While gathering flat rocks from the garden of a friend of mine to complete a little corner in my backyard, I noticed this wee table under a tree towards the back of her garden. “Why is that table out in the elements?” I asked, “Are you hoping the paint will peel off?”

To which she replied that no, she wasn’t trying to do anything with it. She had just left it out there and did I want it? Well, you can imagine my response. Already I was thinking of all the possibilities of how one could use a little table like that! So, after I’d loaded up the back of the van with layers and layers of flat rocks and a few pots of various ground cover, I spread a garbage bag across the back seat and placed the table upside down, securing it with seat belts before heading on my way.

Once home, I placed it on the patio in our backyard to give it a closer look and beamed at my treasure. It seems a shame to have to scrape away all the peeling paint because it is a very pretty shade of green. What I didn’t realize when I saw it in the woody area of my friend’s garden (because the legs were stuck in the earth) is that the bottom portion of the legs have already started to rot away and though you wouldn’t know it from the photos, it is leaning very badly to the right. I will have to cut the bottoms of the legs a little to even everything out.

The weather has done quite a lot of damage, so I am hoping that with some work I will be able to rescue it. Restoring it for use wil be such a fun project. Stay tuned for the results!

Monday, May 24, 2010


The first of this year’s David Austen roses are beginning to bloom in my garden. I can’t tell you how much enjoyment they bring me. I never get over how exquisitely beautiful they are. These photos have captured a certain translucence that reminds me just how transitory their beauty is. And at the same time they have a luminosity about them. No wonder they are my favourite roses in my garden!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Return of the Mung Men!

I have been very busy lately, as you have probably noticed by the scarcity of my posts. But my absence has been for a good cause. I have been planning a get-together as part of a larger reunion with my high-school classmates. And in preparation, I have been baking for a few days now in order to treat the ever-growing gang who will be gathering this Saturday afternoon to a selection of baked goodies. And one of those treats is a very special type of cookie. These cookies are not special in and of themselves, what makes them special is their form. For they are mung men. Mung men took over our class year, a sort of band of mascot warriors. Before we knew it, they threatened to take over. They made an appearance on our winter carnival buttons, and on our school beanies, and of course they graced the pages of our yearbook. So in honour of the event, the mung men have made their return.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Columbine Design

Columbines come in such a variety of colours, rather old-fashioned hues just like the flowers themselves. So fragile and yet so strong at the same time. Even more fragile than the blooms however, are the stems that they are attached to. Seen head on, the blooms have a sort of honey comb design to them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Glimpse of the Future

Studying things close-up can amaze and delight. Just look at the astonishing texture and fluffy softness of these fiddleheads. It is hard to understand how the rich lushness of a fully unfurled fern leaf can be compressed and packed so compactly into such a tight ball. But if you look closely, you can see the texture and shape of the full-grown fern in each of the ridges in this tightly coiled stage. Spring offers us the promise of the future and if we look hard enough, sometimes a glimpse of what's ahead.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Plain but Pretty

Some times the simplest things are the nicest and give us the greatest of pleasures. Like these two pale pink tulips with the lovely paler pink stripes inside their petals. They were the only two like them in the garden. The squirrels must have got the others. So I cut them and plopped them in this unpretentious and dear little jug. I love the contrast of the pretty pink with the equally pretty aqua.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lilac Lovelies

I pass a stand of a breathtaking variety of lilacs most days and right now they are at their peak and the scent intoxicating. There they are, all in a row, the most beautiful view in sight along an otherwise uninspired stretch of road .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tea Dyeing

As my posts have often had tea themes lately, I thought I would share this tea-dyeing project. Friend D. found this lovely cotton shirt on a recent thrifting outing and when I gushed over its loveliness she very kindly gave it to me! Just look at its beautiful embroidery work. My skin tone looks better in cream than pure white, so my solution was to give the shirt a tea bath. I also decided to remove the buttoned tabs on the sleeves. I used Red Rose tea which resulted in an ecru colour ever so slightly tinged with pink.

Tea dyeing is really the easiest thing, and gives the most wonderful results. If you'd like to give this a try here are some instructions:

1) Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
2) Remove from heat and add teabags (I used 6).
3) Let the tea brew. Test by dipping a slip of white paper into the liquid, allowing enough time until the desired shade is achieved. (Note: finished colour will be slightly lighter, after rinsing and drying.)
4) Remove tea bags and stir well.
5) Wet garment and wring out, unwind and plunge into pot.
6) Keep turning the garment over in the pot to ensure complete and balanced coverage.
7) Pull out the garment from time to time to check colour. When desired shade is achieved, remove the shirt and immediately run it under cold water.
8) Rinse well, wring and hang to dry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reading the Leaves

It was a very cold damp Mother's Day but I took the chill off with numerous cups of tea throughout the day, including the tea I drank for a tea leaf reading session at the Billings Estate.
Tea leaf reading was a form of fortune telling that was a favourite Victorian parlour pastime. Anything Victorian is of interest to the Billings Estate Museum and today the planned events included a Victorian tea, tea leaf readings and a Victorain fashion show. Not one to pass up the chance for a little Victorian fun, I wandered up to the library for a reading. And what did my tea leaves reveal? A wide variety of predictions including a night time sighting of an unusual animal, a connection to Egypt, a new small creature to be added to our household, a trip near water, the beginning or ending of a project to do with contstruction or gardening, and the arrival in about three months of a grumpy relative who tends to put a damper on things.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In the Style of Dottie Angel

No more flowers today. Thought at least some of you might enjoy a creative project around about now. It’s been awhile since the last one. This project was inspired by the unique and wonderfully quirky style of blogger, Tif Fussell, a.k.a. dottie angel. If you haven’t yet discovered her delightful blog and refreshingly different take on vintage, then be sure to check out

When I found this very plain wall-flower of an apron at the local Nearly New for 50 cents, I immediately thought that it was screaming for a makeover in the dottie angel style. Poor thing had probably been languishing in the corner for ages because, really, who would have noticed it, looking as washed out as it did? Time for an intervention! As I have drawers of vintage lace at home and a tin of old buttons just waiting for projects such as this one, I brought the apron home with me and couldn’t wait to begin the transformation.

And here is the result, a little bit of lace here, a little lace there, some buttons for accents, a snippet of vintage material to brighten it up a little, a crochet doily to add some interest, and voilĂ ... my Plain Jane apron has been madeover. I think it still needs some work... stay tuned. And in the meantime have a look at dottie angel's designs who does this sort of thing superbly!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding hearts. What odd flowers they are. Until I photographed them up close I never fully understood why they had the name they do. I knew the blooms are heart shaped but I never understood the bleeding part. Now I see that it's their dripping quality, so evident in these photos, that "bleeding" refers to.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At the Centre

These tulip centres remind me of Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings. Hers were big and bold and sculptural. These photos have similar qualities about them. We often forget to look inside blossoms to see their centres, by when we do... what pleasures lie in wait.

Although I must say, the last photo has a rather scary centre, there's a creature lurking there with spidy legs and a cream coloured head.