observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

  • Welcome to my photo journal

    Living on Vancouver Island in B.C. Canada Diane loves the scent of forests and rain, the rhythms of the sea, and holds discoveries and stories in high regard.

    "If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" ~ Shel Silverstein

    This online photo journal is ad-free; commercial-free; linky & link party-free; Facebook-free; ... it's pure and simple an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    Tip Time: What to do with Coffee Grounds

    be sustainable: how to use your coffee & tea grounds

    The TIPS:

    • Sprinkle coffee grounds around plants to deter slugs and snails.
    • Coffee grounds are an ideal and economical soil amendment.  The grounds act as a slow release fertilizer with some of the nutrients available immediately and other nutrients available over a period of time.
    • Earthworms love coffee grounds so they further condition the soil.
    • Apparently cats don’t like the smell of coffee, so sprinkle coffee grounds liberally in areas where they may be using your garden as their potty.
    • Acid loving plants (such as azaleas, rhododendrons for instance) will benefit from digging coffee grounds in the soil or adding to the mulch.
    • Add extra coffee grounds to your compost pile to be incorporated and ‘diluted’ so they end up being suitable as well for non-acid loving plants.
    • Add coffee grounds around blueberries, cane fruit such as raspberries, and fruit trees.
    • Because coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, they can also be raked into the lawn though I’d rather use it on the shrubs and garden area first.
    • For the same reason (high in nitrogen), it’s a good idea adding coffee grounds early in the season to some of the heavy feeders in the vegetable garden (think any of the squash family, tomatoes, sunflowers, etc.).

    PS: If you are still using paper coffee filters (why not use the permanent, washable filter and save money and trees?) toss the filters into your compost bin and not the garbage.

    WHERE to Get Coffee Grounds:

    Did you know your local Starbucks bags-up their grounds and they are pleased to give them away (free) — all you have to do is ask.  Don’t forget about your local coffee shops — they too are willing to save grounds (you may be asked to provide a small compost pail or counter-top bin for them to save them in).  If you have a coffee maker in your workplace or coffee room, ask your co-workers to save the grounds for you. As long as you pick up / remove the grounds regularly without having to be asked, all these sources will be happy to do this for you.

    And, of course, the other place to source coffee grounds is right at home. The only thing I will caution against is using any of the flavoured coffees. Those contain synthetics, oils, and artificial flavourings. If you only brew flavoured coffee then toss the grounds in your composter and not directly into the soil.

    Of Note:

    I understand that the concentration of coffee can be harmful or make a dog sick. So if your dog starts eating up the grounds (can’t imagine why), simply work the grounds into the soil. My dogs don’t touch the coffee grounds and I have them all over my yard and am constantly replenishing certain areas.

    How easy is that?

    how to use your coffee grounds

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    lisa - April 5, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    What a great post this is, Diane. I knew very little about this, and you can bet I am going to start saving my coffee grounds, and get them into the garden this year.

    Thank you so much!!!

    Susan - April 6, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Thanks for spreading the word. Our Tim Hortons has about a dozen large rubbermaids they fill with coffee grounds. The public pick up the bin, take it home, use the grounds and return the clean bin to TH. I love the element of trust and respect.

    Susan - April 9, 2014 - 9:46 pm

    Great ideas, thanks for sharing, Diane!

    […] Read the source article at dianeschuller.com […]


    knitting at www.dianeschuller.com

    Still knittin’ away. Still forging ahead building up my stamina on daily walks. Still grateful for: being able to walk again; continuing to improve; good friends; living in such a beautiful environment.

    My grand daughter is arriving today for her spring break. How lucky am I?

    Remember that weekly environment column I used to write for one of the local newspapers in Alberta? Last year I wrote a loosely similar type of post I had planned on sharing here in my blog. The topic is coffee grounds. Since I’m so busy lately, I may resurrect that draft and post it here. Stay tuned … when I get a chance I’ll pop in a photo or two and post that information on coffee grounds to share with you. Until I get around to doing that, here is a link to “Coffee, tea, and the environment”, one of my columns I wrote back in 2011 which is now archived online. You will likely be surprised at how decaffeinated coffee is made. And if you think tea is any better, think again. Tea growers use extensive amounts of pesticides — I refuse to drink tea anymore because of the headaches I would get from the pesticides, even though I still love the smell of it when I brew it at the request of guests.

    Would you have a difficult time giving up or simply adjusting your coffee or tea habit?

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    Susan - March 31, 2014 - 1:12 pm

    Oh dear, not great news about the tea. Is nothing safe? I grow my own veggies but I can’t grow tea. What do you use for a hot refreshing drink.

    dinahmow - March 31, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    Brava! I’m afraid I’ve been going on at boring lengths for years! I no longer drink tea, but always used loose leaf.Peter, when “home alone” uses tea bags.And you know how I like my coffee!

    So pleased to see you doing so much, Diane.And I wonder if you and grand daughter will play a duet?

    lisa - March 31, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    Oh, no!!! I am almost afraid to read this (but I am going to). Scary what we don’t know about some of the things we eat/drink.

    I am so glad to hear that you are doing so well, my friend, and how exciting to have your granddaughter coming to visit.

    Enjoy every moment. xo.

    Michele - April 3, 2014 - 8:10 pm

    I gave up coffee in November. I was having heart palpitations. It was difficult at first but I have adjusted. Now I just drink the occasional cup of peppermint tea.
    I miss it at times…but feel much better.
    Hope you are enjoying your granddaughter.

    Susan - April 4, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful week with your granddaughter, Diane. I am a bit afraid to read that article…I live for coffee! Seems everyday I read about a food or drink that’s not good for us. :(

    Currently, the Daffodils

    learning piano
    The piano lessons have resumed but they sure aren’t easy. Nevertheless, I really do love the piano and sit with it each and every day. I hope one day to make her sound as beautiful as she deserves. She’s been incredibly patient with me through these lessons.

    daffodils www.dianeschuller.com

    Symbolism of the daffodil / narcissus:
    “Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.” Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world.

    … a gift of daffodils is said to ensure happiness. But always remember to present daffodils in a bunch – the same legends that associate this cheerful flower with good fortune warn us that when given as a single bloom, a daffodil can foretell misfortune.” ~~ taken from teleflora.com.

    narcissus / daffodils © DianeMSchuller

    knitting by www.dianeschuller.com


    digging (as in liking): when we break bread with friends

    knitting:  currently working on a very simple rib-knit something (might be a wrap or might be a small blanket) for the guest room

    feeling: so in love with life

    weather: windy like crazy, but full of sunshine and the waves on the ocean today have been remarkably boisterous

    grateful for:  good friends who really care — and daffodils:)

    looking forward to: the next Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (dinner party with Newcomer’s Club)

    NOW YOU … what’s the best part of your past week?

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    steph - March 17, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    ooooo—are the daffs from your garden? Not a sign yet of mine!!! best part of my last week was one beautiful warm day (we’re back below freezing. grrr)

    Anita - March 18, 2014 - 4:25 am

    Diane – It is lovely to see this bloom. So glad you are getting your strength (and coordination!) back. It is still very much winter here = we had another 3″ of snow yesterday and a “drizzly mix” today, so it is bleak. And with “spring” only a few days away!
    Yes, that is Aedan, who is now 3, looking across at New Orleans from Algiers Point. He has a little brother now, age 20 months. I was just there last week for a visit. My daughter-in-law just got a 2 year position at Tulane – Yeah! So they will be living in The Big Easy for the foreseeable future.
    Take care.

    Celia - March 18, 2014 - 10:21 am

    Hi Diane, thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. Yes I see your blog popup in my Bloglovin list but I don’t always click on it so hadn’t taken in about your stroke. Knitting must be very theraputic for you, I can tell you are now hooked!
    My blog was 7 years old last Friday! And Phoebe, my oldest hen has been with me for the whole time. x

    lisa - March 18, 2014 - 3:38 pm

    Yaaaaaaaay! on those piano lessons, Diane. I am so thrilled that you are back to it.

    Without a doubt, the best part of last week for me, was my son being here while on spring break. It went by way too fast, as it always does, but it was the absolute best!

    Have a wonderful evening, my friend. xo.

    Sherry G. - March 22, 2014 - 7:18 am

    Those daffodil images are just wondrous. I think it is while yet for daffs back home. I have been missing reading your blog and the beautiful blogs of other friends since I have such intermittent and slow Internet access here in the Bahamas. Today I have a few good minutes so I decided to visit. You always show me what it is to appreciate and be grateful for life. I’m glad you are back at the piano. I’m sure it’s hard but hard things that we love are so worth it. xo Take care my friend.

    Annie @ knitsofacto - March 24, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    Have you noticed how the improving weather is perking everyone up?!

    The best bit of my past week has to have been it being light enough at the end of the day to take the dogs for their afternoon walk before the sun goes down. Such a simple thing but a splendid one.

    Susan - March 24, 2014 - 7:03 pm

    Oh so happy to see you’re back at the piano…and those daffodils are all so beautiful! Yay for new beginnings! Happy Spring, Diane!

    Shawna - March 28, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Such an uplifting and soothing post, Diane. Such beauty. Thank you…..

    Candace - March 30, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    The daffodils are beautiful and I’m sure your piano playing is lovely, too. You have so many various talents.

    walking gently through the world

    walking gently through the world …

    I love making things for others. Homemade artisan bread – a photo book – natural bath salts – knitting a scarf – knitting a cowl – homemade napkins.

    Neighbours are beginning to open their garage doors, bring out their rakes and are poking about in their yards. Yesterday I sat beside the pond and knit a bit.

    Speaking of neighbours, it was a neighbour from whom I gleaned an answer to the question I asked of you in my previous post. He went ‘digging’ and found the answer to how the sprinkler head on watering cans came to be known as roses. It’s also quite appropriate that he was the one who ‘unearthed’ the origin of that term since he is French and so is the answer. The French word arrosoir means sprayer and the French verb “to water” is arroser. Therefore it goes that the sprayer on watering cans is called a rose. It all makes perfect sense. Thanks Lionel.

    copper pot with brass rose

    “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” ~Eckhart Tolle

    ripples © Diane M Schuller

    ripples n

    “There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks.  Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story”  ~ Linda Hogan

     And since I’m in a quoting sort of mood, I thought I’d also post what I am currently using as the ‘signature’ in my emails lately:

    May the Sun bring you new energy by day. 
    May the Moon softly restore you by night. 
    May the Rain wash away your worries. 
    May the Breeze blow new strength into your being. 
    May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.
    ~ Apache Blessing

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    lisa - March 12, 2014 - 5:50 pm

    Knitting by the pond…
    This sounds so wonderful, Diane.
    No chance of that here right now.
    We’re getting hit hard again with another snowstorm. :-(

    Sending thanks to Lionel!! :-)

    Have a wonderful evening, my friend. xo.

    katieb663 - March 13, 2014 - 9:38 am

    great information on the watering can! who knew? being able to sit outside for any length of time would be so nice~ we just had what i hope to be our LAST snow & cold snap~
    happy knitting my friend!

    steph - March 15, 2014 - 5:32 pm

    Thanks for the follow=up on the watering can. Of course, that makes perfect sense!!

    beautiful work on the needles!

    Smiles and a Brass Rose

    copper pot with brass rose

    Observed along the way: She walks along the roadway, a clouded afternoon, the sea air warm for an early March day. Her smile contagious and given to her soul’s inner thoughts. A middle aged couple, chatting freely, the woman’s arms flitting in sync with her thoughts, he smiles knowingly. Another woman approaching briskly, head held high, her smile shines from a distance. As we pass, we nod, each of us with our secret thoughts blooming through our smiles. The day has been charmed by smiles.

    “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~~ Thich Nhat Hanh

    Brass Rose: I have always appreciated my two Haws watering cans even though they are the modern heavy duty molten plastic version. The spray heads, or rose, always produces such a lovely soft-as-rain flow of water, they are easy to carry and non-spill. I also have always found copper, whether bright and shiny or well patinaed to be very appealing, something like jewelry. The other day we were in Victoria to see the neurologist and after my appointment we went to Lee Valley to pick a few things up. My husband gifted me with a beautiful copper watering can for my indoor plants. The copper can has a heavy gauge brass rose that really grabbed my attention once we arrived home and I put it to use. But that got me to wondering, where or how the spray ends became known as “roses”. A lovely term indeed. I have been unable to find the origin of that name though I did learn that Haws of England patented their design in 1886. If you happen to know the origin of the name “rose” for the spray end of watering cans, of which Haws seems to be the ones to use that term, I would dearly love if you’d share that with me.

    Knitting: Now that I finished my first knit lace project (the white scarf you saw in progress), I’m so thrilled with it. I began knitting a lap blanket for the guest bedroom but had to start over twice because I lose count on which row I’m doing (I think that’s part of the residual issues from my stroke) and the pattern goes all wonky. So, after ripping it out twice, I decided to start another quick project before trying again. I started an infinity scarf that will likely be a gift though I don’t know for whom just yet. I got half of it done yesterday and plan to finish in the next day or two.


    Remember in a previous post I talked about how much I was not enjoying the last book club selection? Here is a brief summation of my thoughts on the book (NOT recommended by the way) over on Goodreads. Our next book club selection is The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. So far so good; interesting and no complaints. Where does your bookmark rest these days?

    www.dianeschuller.com Knitting in progress


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    Leanne@CottageTails - March 9, 2014 - 11:53 am

    The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert I’ve not been tempted to read as I found Eat. Love, Pray annoying – I wanted to shake her while reading it. So I await your review of The Signature of All Things.
    Love Leanne NZ

    steph - March 9, 2014 - 7:39 pm

    why did i not know that the sprinkling end was called a ‘rose’!!! Lovely. I’ve needed to know this for a long time!!! (hee hee!!!)…..and you live near Lee Valley????!!!! My favorite catalog. How fun!

    lisa - March 10, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    What a beautiful quote this is, Diane, and how very true it is also.

    Congratulations on finishing your scarf!

    That brass watering can is so lovely, and what a sweet husband you have!

    Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.


    Lionel Daneault - March 11, 2014 - 7:35 pm

    Hi Diane!
    Being a speaker of French I should have made the connection. The sprayer on a watering can is called a “rose” which comes from the French word “arrosoir” which means sprayer. The French verb “to water” is “arroser”.
    Now you can sleep tonight.

    Sherry - March 14, 2014 - 6:47 am

    I love your beautiful image of the gorgeous watering can. Love Lee Valley too! Did you know that the founder Leonard Lee comes from Almonte where I live in the winter.? He is a fascinating man. SenDing hugs from Green Turtle CAy in the BaHamas.

    mystery bag: an assortment of this n’ that

    rhododendron ready to bloom in Parksville, BChomemade baked beans & artisan bread || www.dianeschuller.comKindle and knitting || www.dianeschuller.com
    stitch markers for knitting

    Kindle nestled in lace mohair scarf || www.dianeschuller.com

    Now that the rhododendrons are threatening to pop open, I’m thinking how nice it would be to throw a brunch party — just like this — (well maybe for us ‘more mature’ gals)  just because, or maybe to celebrate something or another — spring perhaps.

    The other day I made enough homemade baked beans that, after I filled a bean pot and added one of my homemade artisan breads for a friend who is not well, we had enough leftover so we could also enjoy some for lunch.

    We are always amazed at how surprised people are when they realize we don’t feed our dogs kibble; instead feeding them strictly real meat and raw bones. We made the switch more than a decade ago after finally thinking for ourselves about how to feed our dogs. I came across this blog post quite serendipitously and thought I’d share it with you. It’s about how dogs deserve better health (even if you’d rather not consider what we do): “Your Dog Deserves The Best …

    One other ditty you may not realize about me: I am really drawn to __(these things)____ .

    Have I mentioned that I’m actually enjoying my Kindle Paperwhite? I used to be one of those who said I’d never read anything but real books thank you very much. But I’ve loosened up on that. There’s no glare, it’s easy on the eyes; it can easily be read in bright sunlight or a darkened room; it’s much like holding a real book; you can make notes or highlight while reading right on the device or even use the vocabulary builder (how cool is that!); and the battery life is astoundingly generous before needing to be recharged. It’s easy to carry around, especially with it being in a protective e-reader carrier. That said, I still prefer holding a real book and have only read a few books so far on my trusty little Kindle.

    The pretty black and white chevron e-reader came from this Etsy shop. But if you care to make one, here’s a decent tutorial.

    The beautiful stitch markers are from Lavender Hill Knits on Etsy. I love the ones made from tiny shells.

    Thanks for slogging through my bag of miscellany. To end this all with a smile on your face, take a look at this little ditty I recently added to my Pinterest boards.

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    Debby - March 5, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    Vancouver island sounds so lovely. I just picked up a Louise Penny novel recently just because it’s set on your beautiful island. What pretty photographs you’ve shared. I have a big pot of rose coco beans cooking on the stove. I cook them with a big spoonful of tamarind sauce and serve them up with lots of fresh lemon juice squeezed in and a glug of olive oil. What a lovely idea to make some for a friend with your home baked bread. It sounds like a good remedy. I still love the feel of reading a real book. How the weight shifts from one hand to the other as you go through the pages. But I can see how practical it would be, especially when travelling. Think of all the tomes you could carry in one go.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Candace - March 5, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    Diane, beautiful bokeh in the first photo. I love labyrinths also and the one you showed is especially beautiful. We have one here that I frequent altho it is made of stones.

    One of my co-workers has a paperwhite. I still have and use an older Kindle but I really like her paperwhite. She dropped her old Kindle in a swimming pool so had to get a new one. I kind of keep hoping mine will fall into a pool, too, because I can’t justify getting the new one when my older, larger one works fine.

    Nat @ Made in Home - March 6, 2014 - 4:57 am

    I love your pictures! That knit looks so soft -a nd great quote on Pinterest, very funny and very true! Thanks for checking out my blog.

    Jenna | The Eighty Twenty - March 6, 2014 - 6:06 am

    Thank you so much for linking back to Danielle’s post on The Eighty Twenty. Our pets, like our children, really deserve the same quality of life, and food, as we do! Thanks for spreading the word.

    If you’re ever up for writing a guest contribution on the topic, we’d love to have you!

    Jenna | Founder + Editor

    Leanne@CottageTails - March 6, 2014 - 6:56 am

    Hi lovely to meet you! I’ve just had a peek through your blog – all the very best for your journey back from a stroke. ((HUGS)) Life changing I bet!

    I too love labyrinths, don’t feed kibble to our dogs and love nature. But I’ve yet to do kindle SMILE.
    Love Leanne Nz

    Susan - March 7, 2014 - 11:55 am

    I’m still in my PJs but as soon as that is rectified I’ll go take a look at my rhodos, I’m desperate for something to bloom. I have two brave little primroses and one crocus so far. I love labyrinths. I’d like to see one in our small town on a piece of unused land by the seawall. Unfortunately our council lacks imagination and I have my finger in too many pies.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - March 7, 2014 - 12:02 pm

    The beans & bread look delicious! I love my Kindle too – although it’s been a while since I read a book. Too busy playing Words With Friends and doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad! I would love to come to your brunch party to celebrate spring – too bad you’re so far away! Enjoy your weekend :-)

    katieb663 - March 7, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    hi diane~ beautiful photo’s! thanks for sharing lavender hill’s shop, lovely goodness~

    happy weekending~


    lisa - March 8, 2014 - 1:33 pm

    Thank you so much for the doggie link, Diane. Definitely something to consider.

    I just love those stitch markers. Surely they are far more attractive than the plain rings you normally see.

    I actually just played with the Kindle Paperwhite a couple of days ago. Like you, I never thought I would use a reader of any kind, but then along came my iPad. I added the Kindle app, and the rest is history. I love the ability to carry many books all in one place.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend! xo.

    As Mrs. Ali said to the Major …

    “I am to be converted to the joys of knitting,’ said Mrs. Ali, smiling at the Major.
    ‘My condolences,’ he said.” — Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel

    snow day
    knitting & reading www.dianeschuller.com

    very pretty lace scarf at www.dianeschuller.com
    “The information is now in your hands for you to enjoy in the way that suits you best. Learn it all, or learn a little — the choice is yours. Have fun.” — Montse Stanley

    “Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” -- Elizabeth Zimmermann

    Well, that about sums up my feelings on this topic. It’s been a crazy week knitting-wise. Started a new project (that pretty lace scarf under construction up there) and had to teach myself the “magic loop” which wasn’t so magical, for me. Andi at My Sister’s Knitter came to the rescue, along with some helpful knitters at Ravelry and things are knitting along wonderfully again. For the knitters out there, here are the details on this current project:

    In my last post I mentioned the book I’m reading for our current book club selection is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I definitely do not recommend it. Don’t like the scattered storyline, don’t like the style of writing, and can’t wait to get it over and done. But I can recommend one of my favourite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. A great story, told in a unique way, with an adept writing style, and well worth reading. I also recommend the novel about the Major (see quote at the top) for a delightfully perky read.

    Time to pay it forward. With all the help and support we received when I first had my stroke, so many people helped John out and both of us when I was home from hospital. A friend has been in a bad way for nearly two weeks and I’m finally doing something about it. I made a huge pot of homemade baked beans and some of my artisan bread to take over. Since she’s not able to cook, it will be a relief to her husband I’m sure. See you later, I’m headed out the door shortly.

    But before I go, another question for you. What do you value most in your friends? I’d love to read your responses.


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    Andi - February 28, 2014 - 6:36 pm

    Adore those quotes. Quite fitting. So glad I was able to point some rather wonderful knitters in your direction to help you love your knitting again.
    I have been wanting to read The Book Thief, thank you for reminding me!
    Have a lovely weekend. :)

    lisa - March 2, 2014 - 3:45 pm

    Oh, Diane, this is beautiful. The combination of this yarn, and that soft lacy stitch is simply perfect.

    I have not done a lot of reading lately. I am kind of getting things done around the house while it’s too cold to be outside for too long, because I know that as soon as the weather is better, I am going to want to spend as much time outside as possible.

    What I value most in my friends, is quite simply the fact that they are there. To me, that is the best. Much like you, making something to bring to your friend who is not well. I hope she is better real soon.


    lori - March 3, 2014 - 9:52 am

    hi diane,

    thank you for your kind comment. vancouver island, how lucky! you have a beautiful blog, such lovely photos of your dog. i love joelle’s book, i don’t know how many things i’ve made from it (many!). your mohair scarf is looking very pretty.

    Susan - March 5, 2014 - 8:01 pm

    Lovely quotes and that Lacey scarf is so beautiful! The Book Thief is a fave here too…I’m anxious now to see the movie. John Williams composed the soundtrack and I love his music.
    What I love most about my friends is that they are always there for me.

    From soft winds to movie night

    Australian Shepherd ©DianeMSchuller

    I can’t help but think of this quote when I see Pearl’s contented look and how the wind is ruffling her hair, “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”~ Kahlil Gibran.

    finished Three-turn cowl at www.dianeschuller.com

    Not wanting to bore you all with my knitting, but thought I should show you the finished product from the other day. This cowl is knit from a lovely silk and merino wool yarn. I love how it shows off the stitches and how marvelous it feels wrapped around my neck. This morning I went to the yarn store and bought some lovely mohair to knit another little project (no, not another cowl). But I’m hoping by the time I finish this project, the bulk yarn I ordered will arrive — I plan to make a lovely cable stitch afghan in a rich eggplant colour. For years — no decades — I’ve always romanticized how wonderful it would be to make an afghan. Well, I’m about to make that come true.

    Since my stroke I’ve been having problems with reading, particularly with comprehension and focus, so novels have been a struggle. I’m still trying to read each day to build up my comprehension (and don’t tell anyone but I actually signed up for Lumosity to exercise my brain). I’m currently working on ‘attempting’ to read this month’s book club selection, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I don’t know if it’s my stroke-induced deficiency in comprehension or if it’s just how the book is written, but the novel sure does wander a lot. I hope it improves as I get further along — just hoping I can manage to get it finished before book club.

    See what it’s doing here today — it’s so beautiful but I think I’m the only one who really appreciates it:

    snow falling on cedars, right?

    snow falling on cedars, right?

    snowing on the fountain at www.dianeschuller.com

    I rode my bike for the first time since my stroke a couple days ago. I was fairly sure my balance was good enough but one thing I hadn’t count on was tipping over simply trying to lift one leg over to get on! But once on the darn thing, away I went.

    Oh and I got together with a group of ladies who live in the area the other evening. We have this fantastic thing known as Beach Flicks. They are movies brought in once a month that were shown at TIFF so generally are quite worthwhile. But the best part, or at least for me, is being able to walk to the movie and then walk home again. Beach Flicks are shown in the clubhouse at the nearby golf course and, of course, we all met up in the little restaurant and gabbed over dinner before the movie. After living such a long way out in the boonies, far from people, let alone anything fun to do, I get so excited about things like this.

    I am so grateful.

    So, that’s my update. Now a question for you. What is your favourite winter past time or activity? Hurry, ’cause winter is nearly over. I’d love to know.


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    steph - February 24, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    winter (spring, summer, and fall!!) activity……KNITTING! I really love the cowl…..I can only imagine how decadent it feels with that silk in it!!

    Jessie - February 24, 2014 - 9:46 pm

    I’d like to say my favorite thing to do in the winter is something exciting like cross country skiing (which I do enjoy) or ambitions like knitting an afghan (which I’m not currently qualified to do) but really, my absolute favorite thing is to take a walk while it’s snowing at night. Nothing like it. If I can come inside to a warm fire, a hot cup of tea and a good book my day is made! Enjoy the rest of winter and your knitting projects!

    lisa - February 25, 2014 - 9:28 am

    This cowl is GORGEOUS, Diane. I love the color, and I love the silk/wool combination. I have a tough time (itchy!) with all but the softest wool, but I do have a couple of scarves with this combination, and they are toasty warm and comfy too. :-)

    Good for you, getting on your bicycle!! When some of this ice and snow leaves, I intend to do the same, but for right now, I am going to have to be patient.

    Hmmmm, my favorite winter past time? Most definitely catching up on reading. In the spring and summer, I am outside as much as possible, and it does not leave much time for reading, so that is how I spend much of my winter. That, and editing photos, and you know what?? You have been such an inspiration to me with the knitting, that maybe I will be able to include that in my list for next winter! :-)

    Happy day to you, my friend xo.

    Debi Bradford - February 25, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Diane! I am behind on correspondence and blogs since the holidays and our cross-country drive-about. (It was lovely) Therefore, you could’a knocked me over with a feather when I read you’d had a stroke. A stroke? How ARE you? In secret I share that we are in the same club because I, too, have had a couple of small strokes. The doctors called them small but I begged (many times) to differ. Anyway, if you feel like doing so I would love to know more, and most especially how you are doing.


    andrea - February 25, 2014 - 10:31 am

    I really enjoyed reading and looking at this, Diane. So glad you are recovering so well!

    Susan - February 25, 2014 - 5:05 pm

    I am so in awe of you Diane, so many wonderful projects going on! Your knitting work is so lovely, what beautiful soft yarn you are working with. As far as the reading goes, I’m sure it will improve over time…some things probably take a bit longer than others. As for me, I finished some very simple scarves I worked on all winter and I’ve been reading a lot…I’m currently reading “the Goldfinch” by Donna Tartte and loving it. I’m getting antsy for spring now…can’t wait to get my hands dirty in the garden.

    Andi - February 25, 2014 - 5:16 pm

    I could get lost in Pearl’s beautiful eyes. I wish she could talk and tell us what she is thinking. :)

    Never feel you are boring us with knitting, as I can’t get enough of your knitting images.

    Favorite Winter past time was sledding and sipping hot cider.

    Sherry G. - February 26, 2014 - 10:45 am

    That cowl is sublime, Diane. So happy to hear you had a good bike ride the other day. That must have felt good. Also, that Beach Flicks is such a good idea – especially since they are Tiff films. We’re working away to get ready to leave the dock — it always seems there is at least 500% more than you think ;-) Oh well, fun to just work through it all.

    Gabriele - February 26, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    Your knitting is inspiring. I’m doing some Mixed Media these days. So playing with paint is the perfect winter pastime.

    Michele at Sweet Leaf - February 26, 2014 - 4:47 pm

    Beautiful picture of your dog! Wonderful portrait of Pearl! And a great quote to go with it. :)

    You are “going-to-town” with the knitting. It’s good therapy, isn’t it? So is riding a bike and watching movies! And snow falling on cedars. Glad to hear your recovery continues.

    Annie @ knitsofacto - February 28, 2014 - 4:20 am

    Some stunning images here, especially that gorgeous hound and the snow falling. The cowl looks perfect for the weather you’re having. Favourite pastime here … that’s a hard one, but knitting and blogging are about even I think :)

    Susan - February 28, 2014 - 5:36 pm

    Snow Falling On Cedars is one of my favourite books. I like to hibernate in winter-a pile of books, a roaring fire and comfortable chair. I will crawl out of my nest for a walk on the beach. Love those bracing winds and everything seems so fresh and clean.

    Knittin’ Cookin’ and Olympic-watching

    Life is so good. I’m recovering so well, though not entirely, from a stroke. My son flew in to spend four glorious days visiting. I finished another knitting project — a lovely cowl for my oldest granddaughter – the pattern is called Three-Turn (a skating term so it’s quite apt that I knit it while Olympic watching). Now I’m knitting one for me. Been watching the Olympics: felt so badly that Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue missed out on gold but they beautifully won silver. Just watched, with great excitement, Jennifer Jones and her team win gold in curling — entirely undefeated in every game! Life is good.

    Three-Turn Cowl knit by dianeschuller.com

    Cowl knit by www.dianeschuller.com
    Of course, we must eat …
    homemade stew and artisan bread
    homemade artisan bread www.dianeschuller.com
    another Three-Turn cowl www.dianeschuller.com
    knitting @ www.dianeschuller.com

    For those who are curious here are a few links, based on these photos:

    • Although I make several different varieties of artisan bread, here is the original recipe that I use and then add ‘goodies’ accordingly.
    • If you’d like a great visual how-to, this is the best video tutorial for making the no-knead bread the way I do.
    • For the free knitting pattern, visit Laura’s Three-Turn Cowl.
    • No, I do not have an automatic ball-roller; I do it myself. If you want to see how I learned to unwind a skein and roll it into a center-pull ball ready for knitting, visit this video.
    • And if you are a knitter and you’d like to keep tabs on me, come on over to Ravelry — lots of patterns and inspiration in that community.
    • I continue to utilize Pinterest for inspiration, to save recipes, patterns, and ideas.

    So now you — what is shaking around your campfire this week or lately?

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    dinahmow - February 20, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    Wonderful to see you making such great progress, Diane.
    What’s shakin’ here is mostly monsoon! A bit late, but so very welcome.Having removed a hideous half-pie hedge a lot more light is coming into the space and, once the cooler weather comes, I have Great Plans.
    But right now…laundry whirling in the machine and as soon as that’s dealt with I’m off to the shops.Basic grocery shopping is easy-peasy, but I really am not a fan of shopping for other things.

    Sherry G.. - February 21, 2014 - 5:53 am

    It’s so great to hear that you are recovering so well. I’m not surprised but just delighted. I cannot get over how good you have become at knitting so fast! Your cowl neck looks amazing. And well your food makes me feel all warm and cozy. I tried that no-knead bread recipe a while back and went on a bit of a binge with it. It is fabulous. I haven’t tried baking yeast bread on the boat (matter of space) but soda bread works well. The new mast is on and other things are proceeding well here in Florida. Off to te dentist today to finish up with the unexpected root canal I had to have a few weeks ago!

    Laura - February 22, 2014 - 8:57 am

    Your cowl looks fabulous! I love that light yellow yarn you’re using. It’s so pretty. =)

    steph - February 22, 2014 - 7:31 pm

    knitting and bread—-soothes the soul!!! :)

    Susan - February 23, 2014 - 10:10 am

    I’m in reflective mode as I sit in front of the fire, snow coming down outside and listening to Zamfire’s pan pipes. Your post has me pondering on life as knitting-twisting, turning, unravelling, picking up, growing row by row.

    lisa - February 23, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    You sound so WONDERFUL, my friend, and I am thrilled about that. :-)

    The cowl that you made is just gorgeous. I love the beautiful jewel-toned colors. I am sure that your granddaughter is gong to love it.

    Now I am off to check out the links you so generously shared here. Thank you so much for sharing them.

    I wish you a wonderful week ahead. xo.

    A New Favourite Thing

    “If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” ~ Shel Silverstein
    knitting & needles

    As you know I’m learning to knit as part of my rehabilitation after a stroke. The crazy thing is, it’s becoming such a deep enjoyment and fascination I wonder why I never did this before!  Since I finished my first project (that beanie) I’ve begun a couple more — yes, I’m actually knitting more than one project at a time. To begin one of the new projects I had to purchase a larger size needle and am loving them so much. Who knew the feel of a larger wooden needle could actually feel comforting in the hand. These new needles also make it easier to knit; the small diameter needles (below) make a project quite a challenge, which of course is good for fine tuning my fine motor skills:)

    I’m also realizing that, although I’m anxious to knit a fancy schmantzy cable project (likely an afghan but maybe just a scarf), I really do like the simplicity of plain old garter stitch. That shouldn’t surprise me because I tend to gravitate to the simpler things in life anyway. Although I still have yarn (provided by the class) leftover from my first project to use up, I have only purchased solid colour yarn for my other projects. I much prefer solid colour yarn to that mottled stuff. See, my preferences are piling up as quickly as projects I want to accomplish.

    knitting a Downton hat
    This small patch of knitting in rich brown is the Downton Hat I am working on. The pattern is easy enough to follow but my stitches are so small and so are the needles that it’s a real challenge. For that reason I can only work on it in bright daylight. I mention this is a Downton hat but the crazy thing is, I have never watched a single episode of Downton Abbey. I simply love the style of the hat.

    I’ve joined the Ravelry site and have added another collection site on my Pinterest page. It’s like the beginning of a passionate love affair. Knitting.

    When I’m knitting, I forget the reason I took it up in the first place. Sitting in a comfy chair, wearing slippers and stretchy pants, I get into a rhythm. My project grows as I knit, and the resulting fabric feels as soft and warm as a kitten on my lap. Alone with my thoughts, the distant hum of the washing machine, one of the dogs sighs, hubby working on crosswords, and all is right with the world.

    PS: I love reading your warm and lovely comments. I apologize for being so slow in sending you a reply. I DO send a personal reply to every single comment — thank you for being patient waiting for a return note from me.

    Downton hat being knitted

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    Candace - February 5, 2014 - 6:08 pm

    I like that rich brown color, too, so warm. How nice to develop a new interest and skill, I wish I could knit but don’t think I would have the patience, not right now, anyway.

    Jessie - February 5, 2014 - 8:41 pm

    Your projects look like they are coming along beautifully! I had a brief knitting stint – and then I had kids, and now I haven’t touched yarn for years. My favorite time to do it was riding in the car, chatting with my husband, getting someplace and making something at the same time it was great. And perhaps one day I’ll try that again.

    Sherry G. - February 6, 2014 - 5:05 am

    I really like the idea of knitting but what I like even more is looking at your images of knitting and reading about how you feel about it. It’s wonderful that you have discovered such pleasure from something you took up for a more instrumental reason. Just shows all the gifts that are to be found when one is open to them! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    lisa - February 6, 2014 - 11:32 am

    The last paragraph here, Diane?
    That says it all. Really and truly it does, and how beautifully you have expressed it.

    I love that beautiful brown, and I hope you will show us the hat when it’s done.

    I am enjoying hearing about, and seeing your work, as much as you are enjoying doing it.

    Thank you for sharing this here, Diane. xo.

    Susan - February 9, 2014 - 5:06 pm

    I so agree with Lisa, that last paragraph sums it all up so perfectly. I too enjoy knitting, especially on cold winter days, the rhythm of it all is so relaxing. You seem to have picked it up so quickly…I’m still chugging away on simple scarves and you are already working on hats! And I so love that chocolate brown!

    Meghan - February 16, 2014 - 6:38 am

    Your knitting is lovely. Congratulations on finding such a wonderful therapy/hobby. I’ve been knitting for 26 years and it’s always been a happy place for me. There is always something new to learn. Some projects, like socks for me, become so routine you won’t even have to follow the stitches. After a time There is no down side to knitting. It brings calm, learning new things, beauty and ultimately a useful item. Knitters keep their world warm and loved. Can’t wait to see what new project you’ll start next!

    Currently . . .

    the beginning rowdigging (as in liking): learning how to knit as part of my therapy to work on fine motor skills

    listening: invigorated by Il Volo (Granada, Un Amore Cosi Grande)

    reading:  since I still can’t concentrate enough nor comprehend when reading a novel, for now I’m content to read poetry from Ocean by Sue Goyette

    feeling: easily fatigued, but alive!

    weather: unusually dry for winter but mild and incredibly foggy for most of the past week (also unusual)

    my new favourite thing:  no-knead artisan bread (a great way to get back to baking bread despite some of my inadequacies)

    home baked artisan bread

    wishing: you know, I don’t wish for a lot. I love what I have

    surprised by: what a person is capable of, in a good way

    thinking: how quickly life as we know it can be snatched away from us

    grateful for:  despite having had a stroke that I’m recovering so well; in fact, I may end up regaining most of my faculties in time

    loving: that I can (sort of) play the piano again — though my brain isn’t yet allowing me to work treble clef and bass clef together

    looking forward to: getting back into circulation

    excited: that I can walk again, even if I resemble a drunken sailor

    busy: well not really busy yet because I’m still working on regaining strength and endurance

    first ever knitting project: beanie nearly done

    NOW YOU … tell me what most pleases you this past week

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    dinahmow - January 28, 2014 - 11:10 pm

    Ooh, what a lovely cloche! And well done for persevering.
    What have I been doing? Trying to catch up on correspondence and all sorts of other things.I did wash all the windows(except the front ones, as I don’t have a tall enough ladder , not the nerve!) And now the windows are all clean and ready for the cyclone. sigh…

    I’m so pleased you’re doing so well, Diane. keep it up.
    love x

    lisa - January 29, 2014 - 5:11 am

    Truly, what pleases me most right this very moment, is how good you sound! I am a very firm believer that emotional state has so much to do with any sort of recovery, and you sound wonderful. Keep at it my friend, and never lose that wonderful spirit.

    ALSO, when you learn how to knit (although it looks like you already know how!!), you can teach me!! I have tried so many times to teach myself, and I CAN knot a scarf or something straight, but that’s definitely my limit! :-)


    Sherry G. - January 29, 2014 - 2:54 pm

    Wow! Diane, if you hadn’t mentioned the stroke I would have never known. Your images are as exquisite as ever, your baking looks as yummy as ever and you sound as amazingly positive as ever. On top of that you’re knitting — something I cannot imagine doing. So brava, my dear. I was writing a guest post in the last few days — and I too was reflecting on how quickly life as we know it can be snatched away. My honey had a heart attack 11 years ago and that’s one of the things that spurred us to get a sailboat and live on the water…Whatever you’re doing, keep it up and thanks so much for this post, it made my day!

    shawna - January 30, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    I just wanted to say what an inspiration you are. I admire your strength so much. xo

    Candace - January 30, 2014 - 8:15 pm

    Gosh, Diane, you are making remarkable progress and your attitude is so wonderful. You’re an inspiration to others. And that hat looks great!

    Susan - February 3, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    I am so amazed at the progress you are making! Your images are as beautiful as ever and your baking looks just as delicious as always…and how wonderful that you’re knitting and back to the piano again! So very happy for you!

    Laura - February 4, 2014 - 9:44 am

    That looks like a great hat! I think it’s really cool that you’re using knitting as part of your fine motor skills recovery. =)

    A New Favourite Thing » observed by Diane - February 5, 2014 - 1:42 pm

    […] you know I’m learning to knit as part of my rehabilitation after a stroke. The crazy thing is, it’s becoming such a deep […]

    Susan - February 11, 2014 - 1:03 pm

    Reviewing the week seems like an excellent way to take stock. You are doing all the right things. I’m proud of you!I hope you are proud of yourself.
    Last week I was at my son’s wedding. I wish I had relaxed more and embraced the moment. A good friend phoned a few days later to see if I was O.K., she had picked up on my anxiety. It is wonderful to have a friend who understands me and cares enough to check in with me. Back on the coast I’ve been busy protecting the spring bulbs from the frost. I’m grateful I’m forced outside.
    Looking forward to another update from you.

    Good health to you …

    So life goes on. As some of you know, and some may not, I had a stroke at the beginning of December. I’ve been in intensive rehab and continue to work on my progress. I don’t feel this is the venue for elaborating on this issue but I do feel it’s important to share a few things about this with you.


    Although I’m definitely one of the more fortunate people in that regaining the use of my right side has occurred more quickly than some and even to a larger degree, it will take quite a while to regain things like strength, coordination, balance, and some more of my brain function. This is another reminder: stroke is a brain injury; we do not heal like we do from an operation or a broken bone — the brain is damaged. I’m sharing this because whether you know me in person or simply through contact with this online journal, I have a message or take-away that you may find beneficial.

    Fact: If you combine deaths by heart and stroke here in Canada, they account for more deaths than deaths by cancer. Yes, despite what you may have been led to believe. And the following facts about stroke-only, quoted by the Heart & Stroke of Canada and taken from Statistics Canada:

    • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada. Six percent of all deaths in Canada are due to stroke (Statistics Canada, 2012).
    • Each year, over 14,000 Canadians die from stroke (Statistics Canada, 2012).
    • Each year, more women than men die from stroke (Statistics Canada, 2012).

    And now that doesn’t count all the people out there, like me, who have stroke and do not die. Add to that all the people who have stroke and, unlike me, will never get back to ‘normal’. Stroke affects every person in a different way, to a different degree, and the recovery rates vary drastically. Again, I am one of the lucky ones because I am regaining most of the use of my right side and I can talk. Not everyone who suffers a stroke is nearly as fortunate. The other thing I want you to know, that may surprise you, once you have a stroke you have a high likelihood of having another.

    The medical staff tell me, partly because I was so healthy and so active, that is why I am recovering so well. But that’s not always the case either.

    Please inform yourself about the risks of stroke, how to prevent it, and what lifestyle changes that can positively be implemented to work towards that end. Believe me, stroke will change your life.

    To learn more, read information, watch videos, get statistics, or sign up for a monthly health newsletter, visit Heart and Stroke Foundation online.

    This is likely all I will say for now and hope to get back to posting photos and uplifting notes in the near future.

    To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha
    To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.~ Gene Tunney

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    lisa - January 17, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    Diane, I did not know, and I am so sorry this happened to you.
    I am very happy to hear that you are on the road to recovery, and please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Stay strong, and take care of you, my friend. xo.

    Susan - January 17, 2014 - 7:59 pm

    I didn’t know for sure but I had a feeling that this was what you were dealing with. So sorry to hear this but knowing how active you were…your photography, your cooking, your reading, your piano…I have a feeling that you will come back strong as ever! Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Big hugs to you Diane.

    Jessie - January 17, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    I’m very glad to hear you are still mending.
    Better everyday I hope.
    I read an interesting book a few years ago, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor about a brain scientist who has a stroke herself. Your stroke facts brought it to mind, it was a very interesting book, full of lots of info. I hope I’ll never need, but as you say, the percentages are so high…

    dinahmow - January 17, 2014 - 11:47 pm

    Well, firstly, I am glad you are progressing so well.And secondly, on behalf of all stroke folk, kudos to you for this information.You may just jolt a few people into taking stock.

    Your bubbles will surely lift you up again! Go well, my friend.:-)

    Sherry G. - January 18, 2014 - 7:28 am

    First and foremost, sweet Diane, I am holding you in a bubble of light and vibrant health. I am certain that your previous good health and positive attitude will make for a great recovery. I am so glad that you can come online once in a while to share with us. Your blog has always been such a happy and inspiring place for me to visit. And isn’t it so like you to think of others in this post and give us good information and resources about stroke? I read Jill Bolte Taylor’s book too a while back and learned so much…Take good care of you!

    Laurie MacBride - January 18, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    Diane, I had no idea you were grappling with this. I’m so sorry – and so relieved to hear you are on the road to recovery. I hope that road proves smooth and steady for you, and I admire your ability to write so clearly and helpfully about this issue so soon after your stroke Your reminder to the rest of us to be active is important and I will endeavour to heed it – more time in photo shooting, less in processing, would be a good start for me. Thank you and take care.

    Lotta - January 19, 2014 - 9:51 am

    So sorry to hear about your stroke. I know what can happen in the aftermath.
    It’s so uplifting to read about your speedy recovery. Sending warm and positive thoughts to you!

    Gabriele - January 22, 2014 - 5:03 am

    I came upon your post today and want you to know I am thinking of you. Your experience sounds scary yet empowering. Your message is timely and important for us all to hear.. My best to you as you reset your expectations and plans. You are a gracious and creative woman.

    Michele at Sweet Leaf - January 25, 2014 - 7:12 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience with stroke, and encouraging your readers to learn more about it–before it happens to them. I hope this doesn’t stop you from participating in the Liberate Your Art Post Card Exchange this year–if that’s something you want to do. I so enjoyed your images! May you have a full recovery, so you can get back to the things you love doing. — Michele

    erin - February 1, 2014 - 12:46 am

    thinking healing thoughts, diane, continue to work at wellness and bravery, two things i really pulled from this post. i have so much admiration for your strength and determination. xo

    A New Favourite Thing » observed by Diane - February 5, 2014 - 1:44 pm

    […] you know I’m learning to knit as part of my rehabilitation after a stroke. The crazy thing is, it’s becoming such a deep enjoyment and fascination I wonder why I never […]