Summer Whites

Pairs with Everything

Image from Francesca’s catalogue

I think of all the summer whites, linen is my favorite. Linen is not a year-round fabric like silk or cotton.  Linen is the definitive summer staple.  It breathes well and you can even blame the creases (which will inevitably show up) on the material instead of not wanting to iron it.  Of course it doesn’t travel well unless you pack your trusty steam iron. However it just looks crisp.

Derived from the flax plant, linen is a highly sustainable material that doesn’t need any pesticides or fertilizers to grow plus very little water compared to thirsty cottons. One of the oldest fabrics in the world, the ancient Egyptians used it to wrap mummies, whilst in the 1930s, wedding gowns combined linen with lace.

Look of Linen Today

Theory’s Good Linen collection CREDIT: THEORY

Goodbye purported frumpy fabric of long ago…

More men are starting to wear linen suits.  Image: D’Marge

 

 

Do you have a summer favorite fabric?

 

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Slow roasted oven tomatoes

So easy to make,  roasting tomatoes enhances their natural sweetness, making them even more delicious.

roasted with feta & garlic

Use them to make a satisfyingly simple tomato sauce or add to sandwiches, salads, omelettes or bruschetta.  

Set oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut tomatoes in half and place cut side up on sheet.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil. I like to add fresh rosemary and rock salt to half and garlic salt & lavender pepper to the rest.  However you can experiment with other herbs like thyme, basil or parsley.  Leave for a couple hours until they’re soft and bursting with flavor.

 Use whatever tomatoes you like except maybe the big beefsteak kind.  For this one I used roma tomatoes.  Romas are drier so won’t produce as much liquid as say the cocktail variety. The more ripe the tomato, the more liquid it will give off as it cooks. Under ripe tomatoes won’t yield much, if any, liquid.

Store oven roasted tomatoes in the fridge, in an air-tight container or mason jar with their juice, for 5-7 days.

Elevated tomato/basil pasta sauce:

Instead of rosemary, add torn basil leaves and peeled garlic cloves to baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Once they’re cool pour into a blender in batches. Pulse 2-3 times then blend until desired chunkiness. Pour into quart jars or pour into freezer bags to freeze flat.  Add whatever extras you want but you might find you don’t need to.  It’s a very fresh tasting sauce.

Will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week or 4 months in the freezer.

Enjoy!

 

Monday Mood: Wake up

Satisfaction and fulfillment are essential to living your best life. You can be satisfied when you meet your own expectations. You cannot please everyone and there will always be someone who is happy with a lot less than what you have.

Words from a wise woman

Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way.

One of the major obstacles to what is traditionally called enlightenment is resentment, feeling cheated, holding a grudge about who you are, where you are, what you are. This is why we talk so much about making friends with ourselves, because, for some reason or other, we don’t feel that kind of satisfaction in a full and complete way.

Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. Our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, and therefore it doesn’t do any good to try to get rid of our so-called negative aspects, because in that process we also get rid of our basic wonderfulness.

We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.

– Pema Chodron        

 

Decked out for Summer

June 21st – the official first day of SUMMER

Formal date aside, this year summer started more than a month earlier than expected. It’s been mostly warm and sunny since I got back to Vancouver in early May.  June is usually an iffy month for unreliable weather.  Now you never know what to expect as normal patterns everywhere are changing.  Some drastically. Most people are starting to get used to diverse changes in climate but I’m not here to talk about climate change.  It’s real and it’s happening and we all have to weather the storm (pun intended) and hope we’re not too late to save this stressed-out planet.  

Personally, if I could control the weather by a push of a button I’d have it on perpetual early Spring mode with a rain shower here and there just to break up the monotony and to make sure everything stays green.  Then I’d have it snow in the city for 3 days a year max – December 24th to the 26th.  Also, the setting for sun would never feel too hot with “0” humidity and not enough wind to throw too many dried leaves everywhere which is a pain to sweep up…again.  But sweep up I must.  And every time I do, I admire the brand new flooring on my two outdoor spaces.  I did some Spring cleaning to be Summer ready.  Starting with…

I had a vision. It came from a magazine entitled “Home and Garden.’  I prefer the clean, elegant yet simple and straight wider floor boards.

Upstairs:

Noticing that some of the wood boards were starting to rot on the upstairs deck,

My deck AFTER.  The large planter used to be right smack in the middle.  A large barbeque and outdoor fridge sit in two corners (not shown).
BEFORE the wood was narrower, lighter and on an angle.

I enlisted the services (after careful consideration) of  Khatsalano Builders who specialize in outdoor decks and patios. I like that they’re local. They were professional, managed everything on schedule as planned (contractors are notorious for not sticking to schedule) and cleaned everything up as promised.  They also helped with added extras like moving two very heavy large items for me.  Thank you Jason, Jeff, Antoine, Davin and Mike.  Great guys.

 They totally re-constructed a large 500 sq. ft. deck pulling up all the wood and replacing it with timber-tech composite flooring. It looks great now, very clean, modern and best of all…bye bye maintenance!  No staining needed from now on.  I’m super happy about that.

Why composite over wood? For sustainability purposes Timber Tech decking is made from a combination of 100% recyclable wood fibers and 73% polymers.  Even their packing materials meet the sustainable forestry Initiative requirements. They’re working to achieve the highest level of recycling in the decking industry with a goal to make 95% of all TimberTech decking from recycled materials by 2020.  Almost there.

Talk about saving trees? Over the past six years, more than one million trees have been saved because people have chosen this type of decking over natural wood. And they’ve specifically designed products to look just like exotic hardwoods like Ipe which is cut from rainforests.

Narrowing down choices to closely match wood grain of door.

Downstairs

Wood in the process of being oiled. You can really see the difference in color and grain once it’s sealed.

For the downstairs courtyard which has French doors opening up to the outside from the main living area, I considered a clean-up only.  A sanding and staining.  That was until one of the contractors stepped onto the middle of the courtyard and his shoe went right through the wood.  He didn’t intend to make a hole but let’s just say it didn’t look good after that.

 So… decided to replace the previous wood with new wood.  I really wanted wood for downstairs with the realization that every 3-5 years it will most likely have to be re-oiled.  So…sorry trees. At a little over 300 sq. ft. it’s not a large area but wow…does it ever look amazing. They did some leveling, sealed up some areas which were bare and added two lights to light the way towards  a step-up dining area.

Finished product

After narrowing down from a few samples I chose an exotic hardwood called Red Balau from tropical hardwood forests in Indonesia which are essentially public lands, managed and protected by the Government of Indonesia.

The rich reddish-brown hue is a durable hardwood that is often compared to teak but less expensive. My concern is that it be resistant to shrinkage, splintering, extreme weather conditions, decay, mold and insect attacks (you know; should that ever happen).  Better to be safe than sorry. It is. I’m very happy with the whole aesthetic of both the upper and lower spaces.

BEFORE with a wood sample from Brazil I ended up not choosing.
It is Jia Jia approved

Khatsalano Builders Website:  http://khatsahlanobuilders.com/ 

Other considerations:

I also highly recommend VanCity Washing for eco-friendly exterior power washing and cleaning.  They made my awnings look like new again.  Of course they couldn’t do anything about the fading but I had totally forgotten that my awnings had stripes until they were finished cleaning them.  Fast, friendly, efficient and cost-effective.  Justin also power washed my outdoor furniture. They use all bio-degradable supplies when pressure washing everything from walkways to windows and everything in between.

Van City Washing Website:   https://vancitywashing.ca/

Hedge Trimming and leaf blowing was from a company called Higher Ground Gardens. I had to book them a year in advance but now that I’m aware of how it works I’m booked for next year.

Hedges + Gardening:   https://highergroundgardens.com/

Lazy Layla…just because I wanted to share a recent photo.

Well that’s my Spring cleaning story.  I’m ready for Summer.  How about you?