Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy New Year

Hello everyone, I'm just popping in to let you know I've been enjoying my Christmas holiday.

I spent a few days doing a bit of last minute shopping for stocking stuffers, tidying and cleaning and preparing for the Christmas meal which was loved and enjoyed by the invited guests. One of my guests was sick so didn't come but the 6 other guests made it and we had great time of feasting and fellowship.

I especially enjoyed seeing that my guests not only enjoyed the food but in some cases had 2-3 helpings.  I remember several of these same guests to dinner about 3 years ago when they were still fairly new to Canada. At that time they only ate sparingly. I don't know if it was due to cultural differences of what is polite, they didn't like the food or they were unaccustomed to the flavours of a Canadian Christmas.  What a difference a few years made!

I did a bit of last minute baking and one of the new to me items this year was Chocolate Crinkle cookies using Betty Crocker cake mix. I got the idea from Affectioknit's blog. My crinkle cookies didn't crinkle quite enough but they were tasty. I do hope to make them again as they are very simple to prepare.

Since Christmas, I've been slowly clearing all the dishes from Christmas Day and general tidying up. I've also gone out several times to shop for sales and to run a few errands. It has kept me busy enough though I made sure to skip the Boxing Day madness.  There are always so many people in the stores on Boxing Day that I prefer to avoid the shops. There are still lots of sales for the week after Christmas though you will have less selection as people go crazy snapping up the goods while they are on clearance prices. As for me, I try to do my clearance shopping throughout the year.

One of the places I went to was Michael's. I was looking for a small, table top Christmas tree to replace the one I've been using (above).  But they were practically sold out of Christmas items and there was not one tree in sight. Instead I purchased yarn, also on sale. I started making a new to me crochet afghan. Figuring out the pattern was a bit frustrating so after several tries I gave up and went looking for help on YouTube.

Fortunately the pattern is relatively simple once you figure it out! I normally gravitate toward brighter colours and was very tempted to buy bright blues or reds this time too.  But I like the soothing quality of the colours I selected. This afghan will be used as a throw in my living room on those chilly evenings.  The colour in the finished product will complement my living room furnishings better too.

Today (December 27th) I must go out and  buy a few items for New Year's dinner. It won't be a big dinner as we have a family tradition of remaining quietly at home and contemplating what is before us in the New Year.

Like many of you I do not make New Year's resolutions but several years ago I started setting out goals in several areas of my life (things I wanted to accomplish in each area of importance). 
This method has worked well for me to keep me moving forward in several areas of my life.
A few years ago I added a guiding word for myself to keep me mindful of a key theme I need to focus on over the year.
In 2017, I set my intention to rest but was only partially successful. 
Or should I say intermittently successful.
Mom's health deteriorated progressively in 2017 and she ultimately passed on Good Friday. 
After that I did take a good long rest which I sorely needed.

In 2018 my word is "act" or "action".
(Col. 3: 23-24, 1 Peter 1:13, Titus 1: 16)
 Over the course of years a number of things on my personal agenda had to be pushed back or left undone due to circumstances and other priorities. 
I won't list my goals for 2018 as I haven't even set them down in writing yet.
There are a number of things to get done in 2018 (crocheting, knitting, a bit of quilting a bit of traveling) so I will be moving forward on those.  
Last year I also set a very modest reading goal of about 32 books. I say about because I don't remember the original number and it kept increasing as I read more books. In the end I finished off 47 books without having my nose in a book every day.  
In 2018 I will keep my reading goals to a modest number once again. For now it is set at 35 books and that number will likely inch up again.  A lower number lets me feel like I have time to do other things as well as partake in reading, one of my favourite hobbies.  If I didn't take the time to set other intentions then reading would be all I ever did.
 The goal will inch up fairly quickly at first because I already have about 7 books on the go which are at various stages of completion.
As for other goals those haven't been fleshed out yet but I have enough to get started.

We've had a few beautiful sunny days which usually means colder weather. It will warm up approximately 6 degrees and bring the rain.

Before I go I wanted to wish each and every one of you a safe and peaceful the New Year. 

 May 2018 be all you hope for and more.

 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.  
(Psalm 90:12)

Joining in with Lady Fi and the gang at Our World Tuesday

Monday, December 11, 2017

Make it for Christmas

This year I learned how to make a few things for Christmas gifts.

I made some Frankincense and Myrrh Perfume.  I didn't quite make it as per the recipe because  I had some issues getting all the right ingredients.  But I did try it out and next time I will  have everything in stock. I still have the 5 roll on bottles which I ordered from Amazon so I can make more  of this perfume or any other scent I desire.  I sourced the ingredients from local stores but they are also available on Amazon.

The bottle with the cap off and the steel ball roller is the one that I made.
One thing about the perfume is that several of the oils are quite pricey (frankincense, myrrh and the jojoba oil used as carrier oil).  Of course a little goes a long way but if you do not like the scents then you've made the perfume for naught.  I didn't mind the experiment because the frankincense and myrrh oils are associated with the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus but you might wish to at least sniff the essential oil testers if you buy in person.

Here is the recipe if you would like to try it yourself.

The other gift I made is called Vanilla Infused Sugar. I don't use a lot of sugar and neither do my friends but a little of this special sugar will be a treat.

This sugar will now infuse for one week and then I will strain out the vanilla pods.

I just made enough for several small jam jars (using about 2 cups of sugar and 3 vanilla beans).  I will give these as gifts when they are ready after tying some raffia around them or some colourful ribbon, adding labels and short notes with some ideas for using the sugar.

Here is the Vanilla Infused Sugar recipe.

Earlier in the week I also attended a workshop and learned how to make some very simple candles and bath bombs.

The candle making was super easy.  There were a lot of people in the workshop so the instructor decided to do an easy project which involved only two items:  beeswax sheets and rolls of candle wick. If you would like to make these items but don't have supplies near you these are items that can be found on Amazon.

To make the candles you simply place the wick at one end and roll the beeswax tightly.  At the end you gently squeeze the ends to the body of the candle. The wax melts and seals itself.  It surely cannot get any easier than that. Beeswax sheets now come in a variety of colours.  I used purple and the little candle below is just for me. I guess I should trim the wick a little as it is a bit long.

You can get quite creative with the beeswax sheets and use several colours placed in various ways to make a pretty pattern.  I think these candles would also make nice birthday gifts.

The bath bombs we made are also super easy to make.  The recipe is here.  The recipe link I've shared will take you to a very similar recipe to the one we used. The instructor also brought dried herbs and flowers which we could add to our bath bomb mixture and/or to the molds themselves.  One of the batches mixed by my group wasn't quite wet enough so a bit of it came apart at the top (see photo above, top right).  That's okay because these bath bombs are just for me.

I had a lot of fun with my workshop table mates.
They were all super friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Now I must get on to wrapping the rest of the gifts I am giving. Believe it or not I still haven't posted two parcels but I have to do a bit of sewing before I can post one of them.
The lead up to Christmas will now be spent cleaning, putting up Christmas decorations, buying food for Christmas guests and generally getting ready for Christmas.
I'm a bit late with things this year though I started my preparations (gift buying) early.
I really want to enjoy a Christmas of peace and joy.

Thanks for stopping by. 
Have a wonderful Christmas season.

Joining in with Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Seasonal Update

Hi friends,

It's been awhile since I posted due to my computer acting up. I thought I would have to get a new computer because mine is pretty old as far as computer years go. But I was able to get a new video card and have it inserted into the old motherboard. After a few tweaks and such it is now working. This is likely the last upgrade that can be done to my old computer. But for now it saves me a an additional big cash outlay at Christmas time.

I wanted to share a few more photos of my old alma mater taken when I went for my nephew's graduation. If you missed that post and would like to read it you can find it here.

These photos depict parts of our walk from the Chan Center to the Robert H. Lee Alumni Center where a cake and coffee reception is held for the graduates and their guests.

Firstly, you see we are in the area called the Rose Garden located next door to the Chan Center where the graduation ceremonies take place. In Spring and Summer there is a beautiful rose garden in bloom.  It's location overlooks the Pacific Ocean and graduates and their friends and families love to take their photos there.  The day of graduation we were very fortunate indeed that the rain stopped and people were able to get their photo opportunities.  The Rose Garden was still a pretty venue for photos even though the garden was not in bloom.

It turned out to be quite a lovely day after a few days of very heavy rain. The flag unfurled enough to get a good photo and you can see all the people in the background and the ocean and mountains beyond.

We walked south along Main Mall until we got to University Boulevard where we turned and headed east until we got to our destination, the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre.  On the map below it is a grey box marked Alumni Centre at the junction of Main Mall and University Boulevard. It has been many years since I walked these streets and I see heavy duty construction all around.  The map below indicates the street names and also shows a lot of construction is underway. The campus looks rather different since I was a student there many years ago. Back then I loved the campus because it was full of green spaces. Times change but overall it is still a very pretty campus especially in the Fall and Spring when everything is in glorious colour.

The building below is the Sauder School of Business.

The building in the photo below is the Koerner Library.

The stone building in the background of the photo below is what used to be the old Main Library (now replaced by the Koerner Library above).  I worked many hours in the library. I enjoyed the job and it paid well as far as student jobs in those days.

 I'm glad to see the clock tower is still standing though so many other things have changed on campus. 
I used to run from the far eastern edge of the university grounds (Thunderbird Stadium) to the western edge near the Rose Garden to make it for my Canadian Literature class after participating in my Phy. Ed. methods class. It was a breathless trek as I only had 10 minutes to change and run across campus before the class started. I couldn't arrange my schedule in a better way so I had to live with it. I'd run into the professor almost every time as he waited until the last second to enter the class.  Once he entered he did not pause but went right into the lecture for the day.
He was one of the best lecturers I ever had and I remember that class fondly.  What I don't remember too fondly is I'd always be sweating and panting from overheating. Once I got a very bad bleeding nose from being overly heated and had to leave the class to deal with it. Thankfully it only happened once.

 This clock used to keep me on schedule as in those days we didn't have cell phones and not everyone wore a watch.
Times have changed. No pun intended.

Nearing the Robert H. Lee Alumni Center we pass this totem pole

This totem pole was a gift of the Musqueam people to the university and stands as a permanent welcome and a reminder of the relationship between the university and the Musqueam people whose traditional lands are where the university has been built.

After the reception and goodbyes, I continued my walk down University Boulevard.

 I am headed to the village where there are a variety of shopping establishments.


After the graduation event it rained again for several days.  This week the weather suddenly turned sunny and has been so for several days.   I went out and captured a few photos from my patio.
Today (Thursday) it turned quite foggy. I enjoyed the misty atmosphere during my walk to run some errands.
I was buying some supplies for projects I'll share in my next post.

East facing view from my patio.

Seagull overhead. These birds start their calls at 4 or 5 a.m. every morning. They make such a racket.

The high rise complex is nearing completion. There are several adjoining buildings making up this new complex.

I never tire of the mountain view and church steeple.
A night shot of the same view but taken on a different day.

When there is no rain the weather can get cold enough for the snow to fall and I've felt the change of temperature indoors despite the heat being on.
So far we have only had snow on the mountains. I don't mind if we don't get any on the ground this year. 
Last year we had snowfall the middle of November which was the earliest I recall ever getting snow in Vancouver since I've been living here. 
It used to be we got snow once or twice in very late December or even later and it would melt right away.
Gradually however we've been getting quite a lot of snowfall. At first the snow stayed for about 2 weeks.
Last year we had a lot of snow and ice and it stayed for months!
Needless to say the winter tires must be put on soon and the earliest appointment we could make is for Monday.


Last but not least, a friend and I went to Handel's Messiah on Friday December 1st.
It was performed by the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata.  
We enjoyed it enormously but were fatigued after the very long performance.

I can only imagine how tired the soloists, choir and symphony members.  Each and every one put on a spectacular performance for a very appreciative audience at the Vancouver Playhouse. Even the conductor had a tremendous workout with his vigorous conducting.
The 3 performances by these soloists, choir and orchestra were pretty well sold out.
Fortunately there is another set of musicians also performing Handel's Messiah over several performances. 
I'm sure those will also sell out.

The photos I'm sharing are not very good.  I used my phone camera and combined with the lighting overhead  and the subjects (performers) were moving too quickly, I couldn't snap the photos fast enough.

Alexander Weimann, Music Director and Conductor
Some of the Orchestra members. Chloe Myers, Concert Master Violinist (far right of photo).

Soprano, Yulia Van Doren, Baritone Tyler Duncan hugging conductor, Charles Daniels, Tenor stands nearby

Mezzo-Soprano, Krisztina Szabó in blue

 I've been very fortunate to attend 3 concerts leading up to the holidays.
I'm very grateful for the friends who've joined me and for the enjoyment I've had so far.
I actually have one more concert to attend next week.

It is the first Christmas without our dear mom.  So much of our holidays in recent years revolved around her and travelling to see her.
This year is a very different Christmas.
New activities and traditions are required.


Rather than spend a lot of time thinking about what to do I just decided to do what I love.
I purposed to spend this holiday in peace and to enjoy the moments along the way.
I enjoy a good concert especially at Christmas so several concerts are in my schedule this year.
I've also invited several people over for Christmas dinner so I have a lot to keep me busy with dinner, house and gift preparations.

We are getting close to Christmas so I may only be posting once more.

Until we meet again enjoy your Christmas season however you choose to spend it.

Joining with Friday Foto Friends.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Special Day Under a Vancouver Sky

My family had a special day today. 

My nephew graduated with his Masters in Arts in Psychology.
Graduation ceremonies take place over 3 consecutive days twice per year. Each day there are 3 separate ceremonies.
My nephew's was the 2nd ceremony of the 2nd day which seemed fitting given it is his 2nd degree. It was also the best time weatherwise over the 3 day period.

The crowd assembles in the beautiful Chan Centre.

Ph.D. graduates are seated in their fushia and blue robes at the back  of the stage behind the professors and dignataries. The fuschia looks red in the photo but the UBC website says the colour is maroon.

The Mace is carried by the ‘Macebearer’ who leads the Platform Party, which includes the Chancellor, the President, and other dignitaries, onto the stage for the Congregation ceremonies.

 In the fall of 1957, the University commissioned the late Haida carver Bill Reid to undertake the project of carving the mace. Due to Reid’s heavy workload, he suggested that George Norris be asked to help design and carve the Mace. The planning of the Mace took some time and a final design was not approved until 1959.
(Source:  UBC Website)

The mace is made of yew wood and has west coast carved designs as well as inlaid copper.

President Santa Ono addresses the crowd. He was born in Vancouver but comes to us from Chicago, Illinois.

Vancouver has been having a deluge of rain for the last few days. Miraculously today the rain stopped, the clouds parted a bit and we even had sunshine. A much nicer way to celebrate the graduation as all the graduates like to take photos outside.

After photos we all trekked to the Robert H. Lee Alumni Center.  Along the way I snapped photos of the clock tower which used to be where the main library was located.

The stone building behind the tower is the former library. I spent many hours working there as a student.

An eastern view of Wesbrook Mall a pedestrian mall for approximately 4-5 city blocks.

A new totem pole on campus. I didn't have time to find out its significance. Perhaps it is welcoming people to campus.

The new alumni centre, made of glass, is pictured in photo below.  There the new graduates and their families were treated to complimentary cake (vanilla or chocolate), coffee and water. The chocolate cake was pronounced delicious by our family party. No one tried the vanilla but I'm sure it was also delicious.

Graduates were each given a complimentary glass of wine if they chose.  They were also permitted to keep the glass as a keepsake. Etched on the stemware are the words "UBC Alumni".

All in all we had a lovely day with my nephew. He is now currently working on his Ph. D. And an exceedingly busy young man.



 I may not get a chance to visit you in the next little while as I am having major computer issues which I will need to sort out.

Happy Thanksgiving
to all my American friends who celebrate.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Friday Night at the Opera

Half the day is gone and I'm just putting up my Tuesday post.

It is pouring rain here right now and will likely be like this all week. It was a glorious, sunny day yesterday though.

I wanted to share my photos from the opera I went to last Friday. It was performed in a small church called Canadian Memorial United Church.
It is a beautiful church.

(Photo Credit:  Church website) This is the church located on a busy Vancouver corner (Burrard & 16th Avenue)

I took a friend as a Christmas gift and she enjoyed it very much. She bought us coffee and cookies at the break .  The coffee was fabulous and the cookies were too. I believe the church was raising funds for its out of the cold program.

I've never been to the church before.  Apparently they have different outside events throughout the year.

(Photo Credit: Church website) - This is the main window of the church. Simply stunning.

The opera written by Giuseppe Verdi is Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball)  was ably performed by a new partnership between a  company called Opera Mariposa and another, called Heroic Opera. Both of these companies were formed by female opera singers for the purpose of giving more performing opportunities to young and upcoming opera singers.

(Photo credit:  Mariposa and Heroic Opera Brochure) - This photo aroused my interest to look for tickets.

The summary of the opera story can be found here. I chose not to recite the summary in this post because it is rather a long story and some of you may not be opera buffs. 
Let's just say, like any good opera, it is full of drama, love and tragedy.
People settling in before the show

Of course I could not get any photos during the opera but here are the photos I managed to get during the bows at the end.

Flowers presented to Sarah Templeton in the role of Amelia, Renato's wife and love interest of King Gustavo

Mark Pepe who played King Gustavo

A longer shot of the stage and the ensemble actors

Andrew Greenwood who played the role of Renato, friend and protector of the King

Director Adam Da Ros, who seems to have grown up in my small hometown. He brought this complex opera to life

It was my first time to the lovely church and my first time to see an opera in a church. 
The director remarked that he chose to keep the set design minimal and play up the features of the church itself.
I thought the idea worked rather well. 
The costumes were meticulously designed.
It's always lovely to see such beautiful period costumes.

The opera singers were all good and I mean that very sincerely.
Seeing the opera in such a small venue gave an intimacy and poignancy to the performance that isn't possible in a large theatre.  I enjoyed this smaller venue as I saw the same opera in a large theatre many years ago and it was nice to have the comparison.
Despite everyone being so talented, I still had a favourite soloist. 
She is soprano Sarah Templeton and her voice is absolutely marvellous.


I have one more event to go to before Christmas; possibly two. I don't normally go to so many concert events in such a short space of time.
But as my plans are totally different this year given that it is the first time I will not have my dear late mom to visit.  Going to concerts and symphonies is something that is a real treat and at Christmas is even more enjoyable so I'm indulging myself this year.

I hope you too are getting a chance to see some marvellous musical events this holiday season.

Joining in with Our World Tuesday

Enjoy your week ahead.

African Music & Happenings