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.

    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.• 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.• [ trans. ] advise (someone) to do something : you are strongly recommended to seek professional advice.• 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!

    Currently …

    Hey, what’s going on? Two posts in one week? 

    the August 1, 2013 version:


    {I ‘lifted’ this great idea from Tournesol — she has a knack for writing interesting blog posts}

    digging (as in liking): that I can pick blueberries in my backyard

    drinking: home brewed iced tea (brewed with orange peels)

    eating: at this moment nothing but about to grill some spuds and patty pan squash to go with a little crab cake

    listening: to a bald eagle screeching in the backyard

    wearing: a t-shirt that was once my mom’s – it’s white with adorable pastel butterflies embroidered in front; oh and dog-walking shorts

    reading: just finished The Light Between Oceans and about to open The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

    feeling: so content

    weather: warm, sunny summer day, not a cloud in the sky and a wee bit of a breeze coming off the water

    wanting: to be able to read sheet music so I can get on with learning to play piano

    needing: more cardio

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

    thinking: I should make a decision about that kitchen backsplash

    enjoying: my bookclub

    loving: that I can simply walk down to the beach and swim any time I feel like it

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    Viv Halliwell - August 2, 2013 - 11:03 am

    What a great idea i love the freedom of just a word prompt….thanks for visiting today…

    lisa - August 2, 2013 - 3:35 pm

    What fun this was to read, Diane!! 🙂
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Susan - August 5, 2013 - 3:47 pm

    Perfect. I have many of the same sentiments. So great to be now. The title of your next book sounds intriguing.

    Carola Bartz - August 6, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    I wish I had a bald eagle screeching in my backyard. How did you like The Light between Oceans? It’s on my list as well. As well as The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a great read.
    As you guessed correctly, my family and I were in British Columbia for two weeks in July – Vancouver, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, Whistler and a few days at our relatives’ farm in the Okanagan Valley – it was wonderful!

    Neighbourly » observed by Diane - July 15, 2014 - 8:38 pm

    […] what my dear neighbour is again sharing with us. Last year you saw the baskets full of lettuce, raspberries, and other garden delights. This year we are again the fortunate recipients of […]

    creating for giving as hostess gifts

    “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ~Maya Angelou

    It feels so good to create something you plan to give as a gift. In recent days I spent some time creating a bookmark and some new, higher end Thank You notes. These are all meant to give as gifts, except I do plan to hold back a few of the Thank You cards so I can give a few of these out myself. These were sent off to the printer I use down in the USA and is the same one I used when I had clients photos, cards, canvases, etc. produced. I see I should have put a thin border around the card for display purposes before posting it here so you could see the shape and size of the card but you get the idea anyway. 🙂

    The bookmarks also have an image (different one) on the reverse and a little note from me. With these I’ll use them to slip inside a book when I buy gift books for people, and also to slip in along with hostess gifts for those who I know enjoy reading. I’ll also hang on to some to give to members of my book club (likely at Christmas). No doubt the bookmarks will disappear quickly.

    The cards are done on a lovely textured watercolour paper so they’re easy to write on and feel good to touch. There is also a ‘ghosted’ image on the inside of the card and the back of the card also has that criss-cross pattern (that you see on the top portion of the front) on the back to give it a nice pro feel.

    I have an idea for some more bookmarks that I’m going to order through Moo but I’ll wait until I actually create them to demonstrate what I have in mind. Hint: a map is my main inspiration. (If you’ve never tried Moo before, click on that link in the previous sentence to get a 10 percent discount on your first order — I love Moo products!).

    The reason for ordering these custom items that I’ve made is primarily to give as hostess or thank you gifts. I like to keep a small stash of items on hand, particularly for those times when we receive a last minute invitation to someone’s home. I don’t believe in buying expensive gifts but I do feel it’s important that the gift demonstrates how much we appreciate all the time and effort (and money) the host / hostess have put into the dinner, BBQ, party, or whatever the reason for the get together. I also like to give items that I know they will appreciate and, as much as possible, to have a more personal touch. I think about whether they might appreciate something homemade, or perhaps something they’d love but may not buy for themselves, or I think about what their interests are and try to match something up with that in mind.

    You know what some of the more interesting hostess gifts are that I have received? Here are ones I recall right off:  a humorous book of dog jokes and cartoons (we have dogs, yes and who doesn’t like their funny bone tickled once in a while?); homemade anything I always love receiving; home grown garlic (love that!); cook book; top drawer vodka (sure beats home made wine); a gift certificate; a bag of the guests favourite imported coffee beans; bar towel.  So those are some of the more memorable ones I’ve received. Since I’m on the topic again, I thought I’d share a few links at the end for anyone who wishes to gather more ideas or find out what others think of hostess gifts.

    The books I created and ordered from Apple have arrived and they turned out fantastic! I’m so pleased with them.

    I’ve started piano lessons again with a different teacher (first piano teacher and I weren’t a good match) and am really overwhelmed! I don’t even know the notes and I’m supposed to be playing tunes. Daily practice is SO difficult and frustrating. Somehow I have to learn how to do this; if I could figure out how to read the notes, I’d be doing okay.

    I hope you enjoyed the images in my last photo essay — talk about a bright subject!

    “The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.” ~ Edith Sodergran


    Should I Bring a Hostess Gift? (Emily Post says …)

    Problem Solved: Hostess Gift Ideas

    The Art of Giving the Perfect Hostess Gift

    What are some of your favourite hostess gifts that you have received? Or, what are some of the ones you like to give when invited for dinner, BBQ, or a party?


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    lisa - July 31, 2013 - 5:41 pm

    Your card and bookmark is beautiful, Diane, and those who receive them will be very fortunate indeed.

    Good for you with the piano lessons! You hang in there with it!
    I absolutely love music, but reading music was right up there with drawing and painting for me. One of life’s great mysteries that I’m not sure I will ever figure out! 🙂

    Gabrielek - August 1, 2013 - 5:21 am

    I want to look into Moo. By the way, I have a sight reading app for iPad that works well for my students. It hears your piano and allows you to play a short line of music starting with only one note. It rewards you when you play the notes correctly and on the correct beat. The tempo is adjustable. It is pricey for an app, but it costs less that a book at a music store. It believe it is called Sightreading Plus. And costs about $6,95. I will check on the name again if you are interested.

    sherri - August 1, 2013 - 7:54 am

    very elegant, diane. much nicer than many i’ve seen anywhere.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - August 1, 2013 - 11:49 am

    If I lived closer, I’d invite you over for dinner every week 🙂 These are really lovely and thoughtful thank-yous – I’m sure your friends appreciate the time and thought you put into them very much 🙂

    Carola Bartz - August 6, 2013 - 4:11 pm

    I like your card and bookmark. Moo is my provider for my business cards and mini cards, but I had never had bookmarks from them. I didn’t even know they offer those – and I couldn’t find them on their website either. How do you do them?

    Melissa - October 6, 2013 - 7:31 am

    Gabrielek, The app is called SightReadPlus! It’s perfect for adults who are guiding themselves.

    […] Made by Hand for Giving as Hostess Gifts […]

    Kite Festival — photo essay

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    lisa - July 26, 2013 - 8:59 am

    Oh my goodness, it’s been years! Too many years.
    Definitely something I need to do in the real near future.
    This is such a wonderfully cheerful series of images, Diane.

    Have a fantastic weekend!

    dinahmow - July 26, 2013 - 12:57 pm

    I saw this on Flickr and my connection dropped out before I had a chance to really drool! Lovely! Thank you so much.

    Sherry at Still and All - July 27, 2013 - 4:22 pm

    Wow! Kites remind me of freedom and open skies and spontaneity and summer. What a magnificent collection of captures. Love that first collage. Brilliant.

    Shawna - July 28, 2013 - 9:19 am

    Wonderful, creative work! I love the one with the grass in the foreground. Uplifting to look at!

    Candace - August 3, 2013 - 5:44 pm

    What a fun photo essay, love the bright colors and designs against your blue, blue sky.

    sandals, sangria, and warm sunsets


    My intentions are always the best. I’ve been promising over the past several months to update on some of the interesting and fun things we’ve been up to. Well, we continue to be busy having more of those interesting times and I never seem to have enough time to prepare the photos to go along with a brief little description. I’ve even considered just doing a few short posts, all in a row like a picket fence, simply to jot it all down. Then I talk myself out of it because a post without a photo simply doesn’t seem right on my photo journal after all!

    I may have to do a series of posts in the fall, something like writing backstory in a novel, to fill in all the blanks on what we’ve been up to since early spring. For now though, a few thoughts.

    Every time I make something or do something creative, it fills me with the excitement of youth. Day before yesterday I stayed up late and created a photo book. My inspiration was Shawna Lemay’s blog Calm Things. Hers is my favourite blog even though I don’t get over to visit very often. When I do, I always come away feeling inspired, filled with a sense of calm, or having read something that keeps me thinking. She’s a writer and is also a talented photographer. So the last time I took a few minutes to read a blog post at Calm Things, that particular one inspired me to create a photo book that I could use to give away as a gift. Initially when I stopped by Shawna’s blog the title of that post caught me. The three words are taken from the Henry Miller quote she uses to introduce her thoughts that day. Those words, the full quote, Shawna’s photos and her description of what she ‘sees’ in them had me reeling. I couldn’t get those thoughts out of my mind, thus the gift book was born.

    As I was creating the book, I decided I’d get a handful of copies made so I could use them to give as hostess gifts. I can hardly wait for them to arrive! I’ll be sure to post a photo of the finished product once it arrives.

    I’m also looking after a neighbour’s garden while they’re away. So last night I walked over with camera in hand and took a bunch of photographs of her garden. I’m going to make a little softcover photo book as a surprise for her.  I’m also going to put in another Moo order for cards using some of the images from her yard and will give her a stack of cards (in future) as a personalized hostess gift that she can use as thank you cards or such. She doesn’t go online so I don’t have to worry the surprise will be spoiled if she reads this.

    John has learned to make a dynamite Sangria and we’ve had a few sets of company over to enjoy it while sitting on the patio and having some goodies. We bought a whole salmon at French Creek fish market and will be having company over this evening to enjoy Sangria and BBQ’d salmon (and a few trimmings). What are you up to these lovely summer days?


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    lisa - July 21, 2013 - 12:41 pm

    What a sweet neighbor you are, Diane!!
    Your photo books sound wonderful.
    I actually just sent one off to Blurb a couple of days ago, and am looking so forward to it getting here.

    OMGoodness, that homemade Sangria sounds pretty wonderful to me. One of my favorite summertime things! 🙂

    Sherry G. - July 21, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    Well, you and me both — photobook fans…I’ve made a few since I got back — my favorite is a Moleskine photobook — and now I’m working on another much longer one. And I just received an order of Moo postcards and notecards…One may be winging your way some time soon 😀 Love your idea of giving the photobooks and cards as hostess presents — how utterly thoughtful and personal. Your friends are sure to be delighted. I’m a big fan of sangria too and this is absolutely the best time of year to sip it (or chug it!). How do you do your salmon? OK so one last question — what did you decide about your backsplash.?..I have been waiting in anticipation for a report ;-).

    Shawna - July 28, 2013 - 9:21 am

    So pleased to have been an inspiration for what is a wonderful idea 🙂 It will be beautiful, I know!

    […] books I created and ordered from Apple have arrived and they turned out fantastic! I’m so pleased with […]

    Candace - August 3, 2013 - 5:50 pm

    I keep meaning to do a photo book, too, but it’s the editing that is difficult for me…choosing the theme and keeping it tight. Shawna’s blog really is lovely, I may have to add her into my blogroll!