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 each Monday ... simply an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    Firsts …

    Things are looking up!

    My bucket list first (learning to play piano from scratch): Though I still don’t know all the music notes to read them at a glance, I’m getting there. Better than that, I’m slowly improving with my piano and, with all the daily practice, I’m gaining so much confidence. I can actually play a few tunes! I’m really pleased with my piano teacher — he’s so encouraging. In fact, I’m getting so excited about being able to play a bit I tend to head to the sunroom where the piano is whenever I get a few moments to pop off a quick practice. Sometimes (with those extra short bits) I only have time to do a warm up and play one tune, but I’m noticing the progress — what a great feeling. In addition I’m still making time for a good 30 to 45 minute practice every day so the old maxim, “practice pays off” sure does apply. The one thing about learning something new is that, with each new lesson, aspect, or concept it always feels so difficult and can also induce anxiety. Yet, after enough practice, those difficulties become more comfortable. I have to give my piano teacher credit for pushing me though — otherwise it would be very easy to hold myself back at that feeling of comfort without pushing forward into new territory. It’s also making the old grey cells work a little harder!

    A first in the kitchen: Last weekend, after some friends offered for us to come pick as many apples as we want, I made something I’ve never tackled before. I decided to try making apple strudel but make it the proper way with genuine strudel dough rather than using the cheater filo pastry. To me that cheater ‘strudel’ made with filo simply doesn’t taste as good nor is the texture right. So I dug around and found an old strudel recipe that my mom had tucked away between the pages of one of her recipe books. The recipe made two strudels so I split one in half and gave it to two of my neighbours. That evening we had company over for dinner so I had a ready-made dessert. I was delighted how well it turned out and will definitely make it again — it’s no where near as difficult as I had thought all these years.

    Peach pie I made 2 weeks ago — sorry no photo of the apple strudel ūüôā

    First time Austin takes Obedience lessons: As I mentioned before, I’ve got our 9 year old Australian Shepherd registered in an obedience class (Companion Dog, level 1 — but don’t let Austin know it’s level one!). He’s really well behaved in the house and for the most part on walks but there were other reasons for putting him in classes. Ever since moving to town we’ve been building his confidence with new house rules and other guidelines such as the daily walks on leash. But I find he could still use more confidence building so decided that the structure of formal obedience would do him good. Well we’re in week two and he’s doing quite well so far. He’s still a bit distracted but he’s definitely liking the extra attention and praise for a job well done with our daily training sessions. This Sunday is class night so I’ll see how the youngsters in his class are progressing. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks — that old saying that states the opposite is just a bunch of hooey. You should see how both Austin and Pearl have learned since we’ve moved from the farm to town! And now Austin is back in school learning again. Heck, if this old dog can learn to play piano in my senior years, surely the Aussies can learn one or two new things too!

    PS: At book club this week, we had a great discussion about The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I’ve started reading the next book club selection, Room. Talk about two entirely different bodies of work!

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    lisa - September 8, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    Oh my goodness, bless your heart on the strudel, Diane! That is definitely not an easy task, and I am so glad it turned out good for you. Also, a very big congratulations to you on the piano lessons. There was no doubt in my mind that you would overcome any bumps in the road, and it sounds like you have done just that.

    What a handsome fella, Austin is, and thank you for telling us about his obedience classes. It sounds like he is cautiously enjoying them. ūüôā I too, am a believer that you can teach an old dog new tricks!!!

    I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, my friend, and I wish you a fantastic week ahead.

    Sherry at Still and All - September 10, 2013 - 1:55 pm

    Really, strudel is not that hard? Somehow I don’t quite believe you, although I want to. We have some amazing apples here and I’d love to make something yummy with them.

    Day Trippin’

    In the last post I closed by saying how I was looking forward to meeting up with two fellow Flickr-ites who were taking the ferry across and we were going to do a photography field trip. It was great meeting these ladies for the first time and we fit in from the moment we met — you’d have thought we’ve known one another for years.

    After picking them up from the ferry, we headed back up island a tad to Coombs. There we grabbed our cameras and set off to take photos in the Coombs Market, Goats-on-the-Roof, and all the interesting gardens, statuary, shops and displays. It’s ideal for a photo field trip because of the eclectic nature and the wide range of subject matter. Photos in this post were taken on the field trip. Of course, I took oodles and doodles of photos so this is simply a sampling.

    From there we drove back into my home of Qualicum Beach to enjoy some [locally caught] fish & chips at a local establishment that is situated right on the beach. Afterwards I showed them part of our downtown area which has a bit of an old English vibe. Of course we had to take a few photos there also.


    I’ve been baking again but felt I’d spare you more photos of what I’ve been making. I’ve been making pies lately and am on a bit of a pie kick — my pastry is working perfectly so it has me making more than I should. Last week I made a chicken pot pie — can you tell I’m also on a bit of a comfort food kick? So over the weekend I took advantage of the peaches that have arrived from the Okanagan and made a flaky, deep dish peach pie. I also made enough scalloped potatoes to last two full meals and oh my gosh was that insanely delicious. I don’t know why I don’t make scalloped potatoes more often — wow that was incredibly tasty. Then yesterday, inspired by the lovely owner of Bread n’ Honey, I made a batch of Oatmeal Peanut Butter cookies. No wonder I’m gaining back all the weight I lost!

    Anyway, I actually spent some time one evening writing up a couple extra posts. So, you will likely notice that I’m posting much more frequently than usual since all I have to do is decide on a day and click to have the post ‘go live’. Hint, one of the posts is about dogs (no kidding) and another is a list of tips. And in between I hope to fill you in on more of the happenings around my campfire. By the way, did I mention that I am taking my 9 year old Australian Shepherd to obedience classes? Uh huh. We started a week ago and go until the end of October. I could honestly write an entire post on that one, including why we decided to teach a somewhat ‘old’ dog new ‘tricks’. See you soon!

    Tell me … what is the best thing you experienced, saw, or did this past week. I’m waiting …


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    lisa - August 29, 2013 - 5:43 pm

    I am so glad you got to meet up with new friends, Diane! what fun that must have been, and I look forward to seeing more of your photographs.

    I’m on a pie kick too. Blueberry. We had an unusually good year for blueberries, so it’s been pies and muffins for a couple of weeks now. Now you’ve got me wanting peach pie too!

    Hmmmm, obedience classes for a 9-year old “puppy?” I definitely want to hear more about this! ūüôā

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

    Candace - August 29, 2013 - 9:54 pm

    Sounds like a fun get-together. I don’t think I’ve ever met up with anyone I didn’t previously know to go shooting but I’ve thought it would be fun. I’ve met a couple local bloggers whose blogs I read but that’s about it.

    We went on a little day trip last Friday, too, where I was able to get enough shots for at least 4 posts, which made me happy, as I sometimes just don’t have enough photos especially in the summertime when it’s too hot to get out there.

    andrea - August 30, 2013 - 1:07 pm

    It was so much fun meeting you, too, Diane. We’ll meet again soon because I’m catching the next ferry for dinner at your house plus pastry recipe! ūüôā

    Sherry at Still and All - August 30, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    Ooh, I’m so envious of you meeting up and going on a fabulous photo shoot. I would LOVE to do that one day if I ever get out your way — and I definitely plan to — I have so many friends out there. I adore your buddha shots and I hope they might turn into postcards. Love the cat too. Heavens I love everything you post. Anyway, I’ve been baking too, but not pies. I should really work on my pastry though. But as you know it was granddaughter week so we’ve been doing everything she wants to do…and loving it. I’ll be interested to hear more about your experience with obedience class for an older dog. We have a 10-year-old who could use some.;-)

    Susan - September 2, 2013 - 5:36 pm

    By your gorgeous images it sure looks like a perfect day! And your cooking descriptions have me drooling! Nothing like comfort food!

    Susan - September 5, 2013 - 8:55 am

    How lovely to start new friendships over a shared passion. Qualicum Beach is such a pretty town. I enjoy browsing the antique shops with friends.

    dinahmow - September 7, 2013 - 7:33 pm

    Oh, late to the party-again!
    Thank you for such a great day out, Diane.I’m still sorting and sifting photos from that day.And I’m finally writing a post and will link to you.
    Now, about that pie…;-)

    shooter - October 20, 2013 - 11:08 am

    Love this collection of shots you have a good eye for a pic


    ‘bubbles’ (bokeh is really what it is) in my garden …

    It’s been somewhat busy in the past week. Drove my neighbour and joined him in a local Probus meeting. The guest speaker was a woman who traveled to Machu Picchu and she lost 100 lbs to be able to walk the Inca Trail to the summit. Her talk was fascinating, her ‘street’ photos really made the place come to life, and I loved something she suggested for travelers. She told us, when she travels somewhere, she always makes a point to take some local cooking lessons. Not the gourmet stuff but the classical home cooking of the local culture. I thought that was a superb idea and hope to do just that when I get a chance to travel.

    The next day was ladies lunch with the Newcomer’s at one of the local golf courses. We enjoyed some lively conversation, ate a nice meal, and had a gorgeous view. Back at home we had a few huge trees cut down on our property this week and don’t you want to believe that had all the neighbours talking — and driving by for a look-see. Last evening we enjoyed ‘happy hour’ with our neighbours on their deck. The other couple who joined us are new to the neighbourhood and I must say the six of us had such a fun time together.

    Oh and how could I forget! This week’s piano lesson was so uplifting! Despite all my worrying about my slow progress, my piano teacher thinks I’ve done really well and that I shouldn’t be expecting so much since I’m learning all this from scratch. What an uplifting lesson that turned out to be. With such positive encouragement I’m feeling much better as I plod along with my daily practicing.

    Today I took a little ‘road trip’ with the Newcomer’s club. We drove up to Port Alberni and rode the old steam train (what a blast from the past!) up to one of the wineries where we all enjoyed a couple hours of sampling wines & appies. You won’t believe it but I actually forgot to take my camera! I took a few photos with my phone but those are never very good.

    Tomorrow is another exciting day. Two ladies I met through Flickr are taking the ferry up here and we’re going to do a photo field trip. Should be a fun and exciting Friday.

    Wishing all you lovely people a sunny and joy-filled weekend doing whatever makes your heart sing!

    keys to my secret garden

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    lisa - August 23, 2013 - 5:20 pm

    It sounds like a wonderful week, Diane, and congratulations on the piano lesson!
    I wish you a weekend as special as your week.

    Sherry at Still and All - August 24, 2013 - 9:26 am

    Wow, Diane, this amazing first image stopped me and put a huge smile on my face. There is lots of bokeh about but this has to be some of the prettiest I’ve seen. What a full and rich week you’ve had. I’ve had a few trips on a steam train in the Gatineau (outside of Ottawa) in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact one of our friends had a wedding reception on it and another had a birthday party. By the way, I made that special glaze you told me about for salmon. It was magnificent. I will definitely be doing tat one again! Congratulations on your piano progress. Keep it up! And I hope you let us know all about your flickr meet up. How fun.

    Candace - August 29, 2013 - 9:54 pm

    That bokeh is gorgeous!


    digging (as in liking): this amazing place where we now live

    drinking: earlier had a small shot of Sambuca

    eating: at this moment nothing but made chicken curry and roti for dinner; then nibbled some blueberries I had picked in our yard earlier today

    listening: to the heavy breathing of the dogs who just came in from their evening walk

    reading: The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

    feeling:¬†frustrated because I’m having a difficult time with my piano lessons

    weather: warm summer evening, though slightly cloudy so no colourful sunset tonight

    wanting:¬†to be able to read sheet music so I can get on with learning to play piano (that’s a theme lately)

    needing: to get on my bike (without the dogs) and go for a spin

    grateful: for all the new friends we’ve made and for several of them having us over for dinner, BBQ, or appies this past month

    thinking:¬†now that we’ve decided on the backsplash, we should find someone to install it

    enjoying:¬†all the interesting things I get to do by being a member of Newcomer’s Club

    loving: receiving real mail whether it’s a letter, a card, or a postcard (thanks Sherry!)

    looking forward to: reading Love Anthony¬†and reading the lovely note you’re thinking of leaving for me …

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    Sherry at Still and All - August 16, 2013 - 6:42 am

    Diane, I love this post. A simple list of where you’re at these days…so brilliant and different. I’m list crazy so this really speaks to me. Sounds like a rich, full life. A bit of frustration to leaven all the rest of the good things! But think of how learning the piano is lengthening your telomeres! And so glad you liked the postcard!!!!

    Laurie MacBride - August 16, 2013 - 6:58 am

    Great post, and I love the first photo – it’s gorgeous!

    lisa - August 16, 2013 - 5:58 pm

    What a wonderful post this is, Diane.
    You sound so content, and that is definitely the very best place to be.
    I wish you a beautiful weekend.

    lisa - August 16, 2013 - 5:59 pm

    Oh, and you hang in there with those piano lessons!!!! ūüôā

    Gabriele - August 17, 2013 - 8:05 am

    Hi Diane,
    Thanks for sharing your life. May I suggest a delightful book? Piano Lessons by Noah Adams. He is a NPR journalist who decided to learn to play the piano in his later years. The book tells of his year in problem solving all the issues that arise when an adult starts a journey of learning from the ground up. He was “back on the floor again”.

    Sherry Smyth - September 22, 2013 - 5:54 am

    I love the shot of the sunlight streaming on the piano. And yes to “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” — thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve just picked up Jamie Ford’s new one from the library, “Songs of Willow Frost”. Haven’t started it yet, but will in a day or so (when I’ve finished the other umpteen books I have on my nightstand!).

    And Diane, thank you so much for the comments you’ve left on my blog and your words. What you’ve said has stayed with me and filled a little space in my soul…a space that needed filling.

    Not Any Ordinary Muffin, that’s for sure

    Looks like an ordinary homemade muffin doesn’t it? It’s not.

    Would you believe these are Bacon, Leek, & (white) Cheddar muffins? Oh yes, and this is the second time within a week that I’ve made them. They are so darn delicious and perfect for a quick breakfast or to have with a more robust breakfast. The recipe, taken from Sea Salt: Recipes from the West Coast Galley by Alison Malone Eathorne, Hilary Malone, and Lorna Malone. What’s cool about this cook book is that it’s all about food and resources for recipes in my neck of the woods: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada (NOT Vancouver, btw). The cookbook is written by a mother and 2 daughters who are focusing on the recipes and the way they cook on their sailboat but you need to know that every single recipe applies to any land-locked person as well.

    This isn’t the only recipe I’ve made from the cookbook but it’s such a simple one and so easy for having on hand for mornings, or anytime snacking, that I simply had to show you. I don’t know if it’s available yet in the USA but it can easily be ordered online from Amazon.ca even if you live outside Canada. I saw the book in a local bookstore and bought the first copy for a friend’s birthday. I loved it so much as I was wrapping it up that I had to order one for myself. And then I had to order a couple more to give as hostess gifts. Sure beats taking a bottle of wine.

    Do you have any cookbooks that grab you in this way? Please do tell.

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    lisa - August 16, 2013 - 6:02 pm

    OMGoodness, I WANT one (or three!!).
    These look and sound wonderful, Diane.
    A few of these and some good wine, and I’d be quite content.

    Michele at Sweet Leaf - August 17, 2013 - 4:15 am

    Mmmh–I can almost smell them! Sounds yummy!

    […] 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 […]

    Random Photos plus Recommendations

    recommend |rek a mend|verb [ trans. ]

    1¬†put forward (someone¬†or something) with approval as being suitable for a particular purpose or role¬†:¬†George had recommended some local architects¬†|¬†a book I¬†recommended to¬†a friend of mine.‚Äʬ†advise or¬†suggest¬†(something) as a course of action¬†:¬†some doctors recommend putting a board under the mattress¬†|¬†[with¬†clause¬†]¬†the¬†reportrecommended that criminal charges be brought.‚Äʬ†[¬†trans.¬†]¬†advise (someone) to do something¬†:¬†you are strongly recommended to seek¬†professional¬†advice.‚Äʬ†make¬†(someone¬†or something) appealing or desirable¬†:¬†the house had much to¬†recommend¬†it.
    from the New Oxford American dictionary

    Thrilled with so many things lately.

    I recommend:

        • This fantastic project, The Reframe, by Holstee (take a couple minutes to watch their video)
        • The Light Between Oceans: A Novel— our book club just read and discussed this — lots of discussion ensued over this novel.
        • Taking a long walk every day — it’s simply good for the soul.
        • Inviting someone over for a meal this week — so much fun. (make the meal simple and don’t be afraid of potluck)
        • And, if you’re going to invite someone over, Whitewater Cooks at Home¬†is utterly fantastic even if you think you aren’t a great cook.

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    Shirley LeMay - August 8, 2013 - 5:25 am

    Thanks for the lovely images and recommendations! The novel looks very interesting and would be a great choice for the book club I’m in – I will suggest it at our next round of book selection!

    lisa - August 8, 2013 - 11:08 am

    I love these photographs, Diane!
    The cookies look so yummy, and your(?) dog is just gorgeous. Oh my goodness, those eyes!

    Thank you so much for the recommendations. I am off to check out the books.

    I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

    Candace - August 8, 2013 - 8:52 pm

    I LOVE the flower with sheet music photo!!!!! Glorious. And your pup is so beautiful!

    Susan - August 12, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    Beautiful soft images and some wonderful recommendations here. I’m going to check out that cookbook as I just joined a cooking group that some friends recently started! Looking forward to cooking again after being away from it for most of this summer! Thanks Diane!