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.

    Where mornings begin with a drum roll! --Diane M Schuller

    Updated on random Mondays ... simply an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    Lavender Shortbread

    lavender shortbread

    Lavender shortbread from Sea Salt cookbook

    I recently made another delectable recipe from Sea Salt: Recipes from a West Coast Galley cookbook: Lavender Shortbread. I wondered how it would translate but, adventurous as I am, it was something I couldn’t help but try. I loved the result and will definitely be making this again. In fact, when I served it at a meeting, everyone who tried it also really enjoyed it. One lady said she liked the subtle combination of sweet and savoury and that’s partly why I enjoyed it as well. The only thing I did a little differently in the recipe (since I didn’t have quite enough lavender on hand) was to substitute part of the lavender it called for with Herbs de Provence, which has lavender in it anyway. So would you try something like this? Or do you prefer keeping shortbread as-is?

    Next up: more thoughts on recent books I’ve read (including Room).


    Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
    lisa - October 8, 2013 - 4:42 pm

    If it’s shortbread, I’m in, and this sounds like a wonderfully interesting combination, Diane! So yummy!!

    Anita - October 8, 2013 - 5:30 pm

    Diane –
    I would absolutely try this. The shortbread looks wonderful. I have a favorite shortbread that I have cobbled together from several different recipes and I sprinkle it on top with lavender sugar, but I’ve never made it with lavender in the shortbread.
    And, let me say that your new backsplash is beautiful. It has a mother-of-pearl sheen to it. Love it!


    Sherry Smyth - October 8, 2013 - 6:16 pm

    I love my plain shortbread but I love trying it different ways. I sampled some from a small company in Warkworth, Ontario back in September and came home with some of the cheddar shortbread. Lovely with a glass of wine. So yes, I think I’d try lavender shortbread.

    Sherry at Still and All - October 8, 2013 - 9:38 pm

    I think shortbread should replace “sliced bread” in the saying: It’s the best thing since…;-)

    Love shortbread all ways. Sweet, savoury, cheesy…I’ve never tried lavender but I’m sure I would like it.

    That is one fine cookbook. So glad you introduced me to it! Made the salmon, pasta, boursin recipe the other night for company. Yum!

    Eileen C. - October 9, 2013 - 3:03 pm

    Oh man, YUM! Wish you could come over and make these for us – I can sort of cook, but baking is tough. I might try though!

    Jessie - October 9, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    Looks amazing- but I think that of just about any shortbread. I’ve yet to meat one I haven’t liked! 🙂

    Ta Da — the elusive backsplash

    At long last I’m posting some before and after photos of our kitchen. Not all of these photos are mine and the first one, in particular, is particularly poor quality. But this first one is the best to show how dark the kitchen was and what an awful colour the ceiling and walls were painted before we made some changes. In this photo the under-counter lighting is all on so it disguises how dark it actually is below.
    kitchen before

    And this is another photo that is not mine (below). The colours are WAY off — I think whoever took this photo (I located it online but there was no credit given for the photographer) made some major adjustments in post processing in an effort to have the room appear much brighter than in reality. The cabinets and flooring are a dead giveaway because the wood is actually a very deep, dark brown much like genuine dark chocolate or dark roasted espresso beans. So the photo below is drastically desaturated and brightened. Even the colour of the walls appears to be off-white although the walls, ceiling and where-the-backsplash-would-go were actually all a much darker and drab yellow/beige.

    Pintail kitchen before


    And this photo was taken the day the painters were starting to paint the ceiling and walls in the kitchen. The ceilings became white instead of dull yellow (yes, the ceilings in every room were all a dull yellow/beige). You can also see there was no backsplash, just painted drywall (same colour as the ceiling).
    kitchen cabinets before

    Then we had the kitchen cabinets removed and professionally painted by a kitchen cabinet company to this light off-white colour called Frappe (Benjamin Moore AF-85). What a HUGE difference this made to our very small and once-very-dark kitchen. Next up you will also see Kevin, our tiler, installing the tile I finally settled on.

    backsplash being applied
    And here it is, all finished. I love it. It’s unique, it’s nice and light, easy to clean, and has just enough sparkle so it doesn’t seem dull or drab. This photo is taken without any of the under-counter lights turned on — what a difference, even without lighting on. Also, this was taken before the cabinet company came back to re-install the under cabinet valance which would discreetly hide those light fixtures you see under the cabinets. Even the cabinet guy was amazed what a huge difference it made in our kitchen with the cabinets being changed to this colour. Now the dark hardwood floors look rich and beautiful instead of part of the dark hole that it once appeared to be. It even seems larger to work in the kitchen although the only changes were colour — and adding a backsplash.


    And here is one more photo showing how nice that backsplash works as a backdrop for some of my baking.

    apple pie at www.dianeschuller.com


    Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
    dinahmow - October 4, 2013 - 2:35 pm

    Yes, it does look lovely and light, Diane. I’m always amazed that people do not “get” colour!
    We have(not our choice!) dark cabinets and dark floor stain.Mercifully, the ceilings are all white and the wall colour throughout is a soft primrose-y yellow. (Except the bathrooms, which are blue/grey and aqua/royal blue.Go figure!)
    As for the splashback…you can see a little of it herehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/18554857@N03/8022349947/in/set-72157631618055245
    I’m quite impressed by the pie, too.:-)

    lisa - October 4, 2013 - 5:11 pm

    Wow Diane!!
    I love the backsplash you chose.
    Oh, and I’ll just bet I’d love some of that pie too!!!
    Lookin’ so yummy!

    You have a wonderful weekend!!

    Sherry at Still and All - October 4, 2013 - 7:22 pm

    OMG, how gorgeous is that kitchen? Absolutely perfect choices in cabinetry colour and the backsplash is a pearlescent dream. What a superb backdrop for your yummy food creations! So glad you shared the “after” with us. I can just imagine how enjoyable it must be to cook and hang out there. Great work!

    Sherry Smyth - October 5, 2013 - 11:25 am

    The backsplash makes a huge difference to the room — an excellent choice for bringing in life and light. Once you hit the right note in decorating/remodeling there is such a sense of happiness and joy and you wonder how you lived with it any other way. And I too will have a slice of that pie, thank you very much! xo

    Andrea - October 5, 2013 - 2:36 pm

    Nice! I love the tile with the stove. Let’s see the rest if the kitchen now…? 🙂 (BTW I’m in Tofino right now!)

    Susan - October 5, 2013 - 5:29 pm

    Oh I just love your kitchen and that backsplash really catches the light so perfectly! As if your cooking didn’t already look amazing…

    Kelly @ JAX does design - October 7, 2013 - 6:26 am

    Beautiful! The dark kitchen cabinet colour in the “before” pictures is actually quite nice, but I can imagine how dark the space must have felt with dark cabinets, dark floor, and that beigey colour on the walls & ceiling. The backsplash is beautiful – the tiles are mother of pearl, yes? We have similar backsplash tiles in our kitchen, but they’re brown mother of pearl. I love how they glow when the sun shines off of them 🙂

    I bet you’re going to love cooking & baking a whole lot more now in your “new” kitchen! 🙂

    Candace - October 13, 2013 - 1:40 am

    Oh, so beautiful, Diane. I have to say, though, your “before looks way better than my “current.” We need a remodel badly.

    Do you Tip?

    © DianeMSchuller

    They’re looking rather scruffy aren’t they? Actually since I took this photo, Pearl (on the left) has been to the groomers. Her coat type is entirely different from Austin’s and is a constant struggle to maintain. We decided to take her to a groomer for a bath and a nice comb-out. She’s 11 and this is the second time I’ve taken her to a groomer but selecting a groomer is a real process. I think we’re both a bit too fussy about certain things. We did find a groomer with a nice clean facility, who doesn’t expect the dogs to sit in cages for hours before being ‘done’, and she was incredibly easy with her (yes, we can tell). :~) The groomer called us to let us know Pearl was getting tired and we should come pick her up. The groomer felt that the nearly 2 hours she spent with her was enough for the old gal but asked if we’d bring her back the next day for a short time so she could ‘finish her off’. I thought she looked pretty great but we did take her the next day for a short visit so the groomer could trim her legs and the hair on her feet plus thin out her mane a bit. And she didn’t charge any extra!! I couldn’t believe it. I have a question to ask those of you who take your dog(s) to the groomer. Do you tip groomers? Since this is only the second time we’ve ever used a groomer, I wasn’t at all sure whether the protocol is to tip or not to tip groomers. Because I was so pleased with what a fine job the gal did, how kind she was, that she went over and above what was expected, and how Pearl reacted that I felt she deserved a tip even if that’s not what people do. So the young lady received a tip from me. After all I tip my hairdresser and she doesn’t do anywhere near the work that the groomer had to do with Pearl. What do you do?

    UPDATE: It is agreed then that I did the right thing: tipping is definitely in order for dog groomers. I found this since I originally posted this and thought it spelled things out quite nicely. Enjoy:

    10 reasons why it costs so much for a Dog groomer

    In the next post I promise to deal with a few things I’ve left hanging for a while: before and after photos of our kitchen and the new backsplash plus a few words about the last book I read: Room. Oh, and I may have to talk about food again.

    Looking forward to attending Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as part of the Newcomer’s Club this weekend. I’ve already decided on what I’m taking as a hostess gift and what salad I’m going to make to bring along. For this round of the dinners the coordinator has stipulated that the man of the house will be cooking dinner for the guests. So that’s the highlight for this coming weekend. What about you?




    Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
    Sherry Smyth - September 28, 2013 - 8:04 am

    Never had to use a dog groomer (no dogs), but I think this is an excellent question to ask Diane. There are many times when we’re puzzled over “do I tip here?” — and when I’m in doubt, I do it. Your example of the groomer going over and above and not charging…in that instance I’d be more inclined to give a tip and a note with a “thank you so much”. Or make a stop with a card and a tip to show appreciation. When we were in the UK and Ireland in the spring we were at a loss about tipping in pubs. Custom says you pay and offer one for the bar tender. Which we did in the UK. But in Ireland when we tried to leave a tip the bar tender told us that wasn’t necessary, nor was buying him a pint. So different places, different customs. But we were happier to make the offer and be told “not necessary” than to do nothing and be thought of as “ignorant tourists” (lol!).

    lisa - September 28, 2013 - 6:23 pm

    They look just gorgeous, Diane, and very happy too!

    I do tip my groomers. Like you, I just figure it’s like going to get my hair trimmed.

    I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

    Sherry Galey - September 29, 2013 - 9:07 am

    It’s certainly true what Sherry says: different places, different customs. We do tip our groomers — they have always done an awesome job and it’s a way to recognize that. I tend to tip well for great service/work all the time (unless it is considered an insult, of course). Your dogs are just beautiful. I love seeing their pics!

    Sherry - October 4, 2013 - 7:50 am

    Thank you for brining sunshine to my days, Diane. I’m nominating you for a Sunshine Award. See my blog for details…http://wp.me/p2dZoc-1pU

    Currently …

    (Does it count that I wrote this one a couple days ago?)

    scale at French Creek Marina

    digging (as in liking): the utterly beautiful backsplash I chose and that was finally installed yesterday

    drinking: my usual morning cappuccino

    listening: my go-to radio station, CBC (did you read my previous post by any chance?)

    reading: Room by Emma Donahue which is our current book club selection (and studying musical notes in the evening)

    feeling: so content

    weather: a wonderfully calm, foggy morning

    foggy day at the Coast Guard station

    foggy day at the Coast Guard station

    my new favourite thing:  homemade kale chips (how can something so good for us be so darn easy to make and taste so delicious!)

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

    thinking: how much better I’m progressing in my piano lessons

    grateful for: all the homegrown produce that is so abundant here (so I made a batch of pickled beets this week)

    pickled beets

    loving: that we’ve had such an extended and very warm summer

    looking forward to: more foggy days

    excited: for my son and hoping he gets the house he put an offer on not too long ago

    busy: filling in for the book club coordinator and helping to get a new book club started; organizing a kayak club for Newcomer’s; getting rid of some unnecessary ‘stuff’; daily dog training sessions (yes, that goes on until the end of October); homemaking.

    NOW YOU … tell me what you’re most pleased about this past week.

    Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
    lisa - September 20, 2013 - 4:44 pm

    How much I enjoyed reading this, Diane!
    I love pickled beets too, and they’re good for you!
    Not sure about kale chips, but they sure sound interesting.
    It sounds like you had a wonderful week. I had a very busy one, but now I have the weekend to look forward to, and for that I am grateful. 🙂

    I wish you a wonderful weekend!

    Sherry Smyth - September 20, 2013 - 7:29 pm

    Love those pickled beets!!! And the foggy photo…it’s that time of year! Very foggy here today — muggy as well. My week has been crazy upside-down and then cold germs began to infiltrate…but it hasn’t kept me down — a little purging and tidying, a little chatting and time with friends, a little wine, a little chai latte and thinking ahead to what autumn is going to hold in store for me.

    Sherry at Still and All - September 21, 2013 - 6:25 am

    Glad the backsplash worked out so well. Our beets did not grow well this year (rats) but the carrots did. Loving honey crisp apples and setting up my photography room and spending an afternoon with friends I had not seen for a long time — and then finding out I sold three images through Getty! Been meaning to try those kale chips. Love your foggy shots by the water!

    Jennifer - September 27, 2013 - 7:50 am

    I would like to do a post like yours. It seems like it would be such a fun exercise to reply to the one word prompts. I love that you are taking piano lessons. Once upon a long time ago I played the clarinet- badly. In high school, I was a member of three bands no less. Though I have no gift for it I love music making.
    Sundays on CBC radio is my absolute favourite. I have wanted to read The Room by Emma Donahue. You’ll have to let us know if you enjoyed it.

    Books and Fairy Dust

    Admit it, we all need books and fairy dust once in a while.

    books ©Diane M Schuller

    This year, CBC Radio was conducting a survey of sorts with a public vote asking listeners to choose which book from the past two decades we think was the Giller winner of all Giller Award winners. I didn’t even have to think about it — that came naturally, even after I reviewed the entire list (you know, just in case). So I voted. But in order to place a vote, each voter was required to write a little blurb about why they chose that book over the others. I chose Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (I realize it was once an Oprah pick but I read it years before she chose it 🙂 ). Absolutely one of the top 10 books I have ever read! And that is saying something.

    So here is the cool part. On Twitter today I noticed they tweeted that they were announcing the book that the public voted as number one. I opened the link, and could see immediately it was A Fine Balance. But the bigger surprise came part way into their article. They used an excerpt from my reason for selecting the book within their article! No kidding. Take a look.

    So, like I said, we all need books and fairy dust once in a while.

    I realize picking a single favourite book is impossible but what would you say is one of your all-time favourite books, and why?

    books on my shelf

    Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
    lisa - September 18, 2013 - 4:39 pm

    Wow!! How neat is this, Diane???
    I’ve not heard of this book, but you can bet Im going to check it out.
    I hope you’ve had a wonderful day!

    Anne - September 18, 2013 - 10:07 pm

    Way to go. I have not read this one but will add it to my list

    Sherry at Still and All - September 19, 2013 - 9:39 am

    How wonderful, Diane. Your comments about the book are full of heart and beautifully expressed. You write so eloquently. And I agree, it is a magnificent book. I find it impossible to pick an all-time favorite book…there are so many I love. And many of the books that have had the greatest impact have been memoirs…

    Jennifer - September 27, 2013 - 8:03 am

    How neat that they quoted you! Rohinton Mistry’s book is one of my all time favourite Canadian books. The characters are all so vivid and real. I have yet to read Through the Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden which was the runner up. We heard Joseph Boyden speak about his latest novel The Orenda at the Word on the Street in Toronto. What an interesting and funny speaker he was!

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

    Look who I found inside my Hawes watering can? Ye olde Tree Frog, that’s who!

    tree frog inside Hawes watering can

    tree frog inside Hawes watering can

    The crazy thing is, he (she) simply remained there while I emptied the entire contents on my tomatoes and a few other pots. I noticed this little guy when I went to refill it with water. That’s when I let out a little “eek” despite knowing how harmless the little creature was.

    If you’re curious about the photo challenge visit The Weekly Photo Challenge at WordPress.

    FYI: Do you know what happens to frogs during winter in the cold areas of the country? National Geographic has an excellent article “Frogs Freeze and Thaw”.

    Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
    mightwar - September 17, 2013 - 3:52 am

    It seems so totally un-phased considering you have been using the watering can. Maybe it’s meditating? And I really like the contrasting colours of the frog’s skin to the plastic of the can.

    lisa - September 17, 2013 - 5:49 pm

    I love this, Diane!!
    So nicely seen and photographed.
    It looks like a wonderful place to hide out! 🙂

    Amanda Wilson - September 17, 2013 - 9:01 pm

    Love the angle of this shot, and the colors!! I’m also particularly partial to cute lil froggies… 🙂

    Jessie - September 17, 2013 - 11:00 pm

    Aw! he’s so cute!

    Sherry at Still and All - September 17, 2013 - 11:05 pm

    I love the sheen of the green frog against the matte of the gluey-green watering can. Well seen, Diane!

    shawna - September 18, 2013 - 8:54 am

    What a sweetie! Had to come and see yours after seeing Michele’s frog on Flickr and your comment there. 🙂

    […] Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside » Diane Jarvis-Schuller […]

    Sherry Smyth - September 19, 2013 - 11:40 am

    I’m afraid I would have let out a very BIG eek!!! But it is rather cute and looks so cozy in the watering can!

    Vibha at PixelVoyages - September 20, 2013 - 6:53 am

    Spectacular picture. Lovely composition.

    […] Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside » Diane Jarvis-Schuller […]