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.

    In the meantime …

    A little sweet to tide you over while I’m in the process of making some major changes behind the scenes of this little place on the web. Please allow me approximately a week to get things re-organized and settled in. I need to have things complete in time to showcase the results of the Liberate Your Art 2013 postcard swap in which I participated. Please check back soon.

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    andrea - April 30, 2013 - 9:43 am

    How can you possible improve it????

    Susan - May 1, 2013 - 2:45 pm

    Will do! Thanks for the cupcake! Although it is way too lovely to eat!

    Debi - May 1, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    I agree with Andrea – how could you possibly improve this amazing place?

    William Charlebois - May 1, 2013 - 4:01 pm

    I want to jump into this picture and eat all of the icing from the cupcake! This photo radiates happiness to me, and that is a wonderful thing.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - May 2, 2013 - 7:53 am

    Mmmmm, cupcakes! Your new blog design is looking great – simple, pretty, and elegant 🙂 Looking forward to seeing it all done. AND, I want to see pictures of your home with all the new paint colours!

    I never got off my butt to participate in the postcard swap 🙁 I’m going to do it next year for sure!

    lisa - May 2, 2013 - 8:38 am

    I looks forward to seeing your changes, Diane.
    I am sure they will be wonderful.
    Thank you for the cupcake too, and yes, I’ll have another please! 🙂

    Jo Murray - May 3, 2013 - 1:45 am

    I look forward to seeing everyones’s postcards…it will be fun.

    There is only now

    “The present moment is the substance with which the future is made. Therefore, the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. What else can you do?”  -Thich Nhat Hanh

    I took oodles of photos this spring during the herring spawn seen from the beach below our place. I thought you might like to see some of the photos I took of the voracious and opportunistic seagulls — literally thousands of them descended upon the area during the peak of the spawn.
    flock of seagulls www.dianeschuller.com

    seagulls by www.dianeschuller.com

    Sun-warmed, it was a perfect day to photograph, observe, and take in the feeling down at the beach. The gentle whoosh-whoosh of the sea against the shore was muted by the squeal of the frenzied gulls overhead. Many, either tired or with full bellies, stood on the beach and waited. Taking in a deep breath, the salt air was infused with a fishy hint of the presence of the herring and their spawn. The kind of day you don’t want to walk away; you simply want to remain and be in it.

    There is only now. And look! How rich we are in it. ~ Vanna Bonta, Shades of the World

    Have yourselves a lovely weekend!

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    Gabriele - April 13, 2013 - 10:43 am

    What a hullabaloo! We are lucky to live by the sea and to experience the ecosystem there. Beautiful pictures..

    lisa - April 13, 2013 - 1:31 pm

    They are really beautiful, Diane, and so are your photographs of them!

    Candace - April 14, 2013 - 9:52 pm

    Those are great photos. Seagulls are so fun to watch with their funny antics. I’ve got birds on my blog right now, too. Lately, birds are my favorite thing to photograph.

    Susan - April 15, 2013 - 10:44 am

    Wow, fantastic Diane! So much to feast my eyes on here!

    Sherry Galey - April 17, 2013 - 9:25 am

    Wow, you really captured the gull frenzy! I love that last image, especially. It’s a beauty.

    Carola Bartz - April 28, 2013 - 9:18 am

    Again I find these photos quite fascinating – in my head I added the sound and it was almost deafening… Was it? Stunning photos of the seagulls.

    Susan - April 28, 2013 - 4:56 pm

    What an amazing cast of characters you captured here! I love how well you got some in mid-flight. What a day you had!

    William Charlebois - May 1, 2013 - 4:06 pm

    I have always wanted to live by the sea. The waves breaking upon the shore in a never ending cadence speak of timelessness and in turn hope. These photos of the seagulls are stunning in the way they capture the life of the sea.

    Of Course it Hurts …

    hoar frost2nd-8255

    Of course it hurts when buds burst.
    Otherwise why would spring hesitate?
    Why would all our fervent longing
    be bound in the frozen bitter haze?


    The bud was the casing all winter.
    What is this new thing, which consumes and bursts?
    Of course it hurts when buds burst,
    pain for that which grows
    and for that which envelops.

    Of course it is hard when drops fall.
    Trembling with fear they hang heavy,
    clammer on the branch, swell and slide –
    the weight pulls them down, how they cling.
    Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided,
    hard to feel the deep pulling and calling,
    yet sit there and just quiver –
    hard to want to stay
    and to want to fall.

    Then, at the point of agony and when all is beyond
    the tree’s buds burst as if in jubilation,
    then, when fear no longer exists,
    the branch’s drops tumble in a shimmer,
    forgetting that they were afraid of the new,
    forgetting that they were fearful of the journey –
    feeling for a second their greatest security,
    resting in the trust
    that creates the world.

    This poem “Of Course it Hurts” by Karin Boye was discovered at Shawna Lemay’s blog, Calm Things. I couldn’t help but be inspired to reproduce it here for your pleasure. Shawna is a writer, poet, and a fine photographer and her blog has many interesting and creative perspectives. I don’t get much time to visit other blogs on a regular basis, but it’s always a treat to pop in and see what Shawna has presented.


    ~ ~ ~
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    Sherry Galey - April 10, 2013 - 9:07 pm

    So nice to see these beautiful images of yours. I especially love the bud. That is what I love most about spring — the buds. I feel the same as you about finding it hard to get around to all the wonderful blogs out there. I have decided to put more emphasis on my own photography right now. It is just too easy to go admire everyone else’s and not do your own! And there is so much else to life as well, right? But I do like to maintain at least a small connection with those who produce thoughtful and beautiful work on their blogs to show them my appreciation.

    Susan - April 11, 2013 - 8:11 pm

    Beautiful images, beautiful words! I may have to borrow that poem…

    William Charlebois - May 1, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    Now you went and did it. Trees are my special muse even though they aren’t often found in my digital art. The poem accompanying your photos is so wonderful.

    One of the Delights of Life

    Good Aussies © www.dianeschuller.com

    It was our turn to host Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with our local newcomer’s club. Eight couples, lots of fine food, and plenty of interesting conversation. I love dinner parties.  And then up early this morning, enjoyed our cappuccino, and joined our regular dog-walking group for an exhilarating walk along the beautiful Englishman River.

    “One of the delights of life is eating with friends.” ~Laurie Colwin

    The ‘kids’ (those two up there) were very well behaved while we entertained.

    I don’t get much time to read other blogs but sometime in recent weeks, I recall having read a really interesting blog post about dinner parties. The lady wrote how much she too enjoys having dinner parties but what really made an impact was how she makes them all different by doing “themes”. I’m not talking sappy themes but one that she mentioned involved asking guests to bring something they liked or maybe it was something meaningful to them. I seem to recall each person was to bring something that could be given to the other guests and it could not cost more than six dollars. I can’t for the life of me remember what blog that was or even how I happened upon it. I’d love to find it again to re-read that post so I can get all the actual details about how she does those “themes” (but they aren’t really themes; they’re really ways of making each dinner party interesting). If I ever come across that blog again, I’ll be sure to bookmark it and share it with you (because my explanation of her dinner parties is sorely lacking in details and interest!).

    So, how was YOUR weekend? And, do you have unique or interesting things you do to make your dinner parties a wee bit different?

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    lisa - April 8, 2013 - 1:01 pm

    Dinner parties are indeed great fun, and I love the idea of having a theme that each person can interpret in their own way. If in my “travels,” I see the post you talk about here, I will surely let you know.

    Your “kids” are absolutely precious. those sweet little faces melt my heart.

    Candace - April 8, 2013 - 6:47 pm

    The dogs are beautiful!

    Kelly @ JAX does design - April 10, 2013 - 8:26 am

    Diane, your furbabies are so beautiful! 🙂 We actually did some entertaining on the weekend – we had a bunch of friends over to watch the Final Four on Saturday night. We served fajitas, which is a pretty easy dinner because everyone put their own fajitas together, we just needed to prep the food 🙂 I also made chocolate chip cookies and lime squres. Mmmmmm, lime! 🙂

    We don’t have dinner parties very often, but I really like the idea of a dinner club. I might ask some of my foodie friends if they would be interested in doing something similar. But probably starting next fall, people are often busy or out of town during the summer. Well, that’s assuming we actually HAVE summer this year. There’s supposed to be a snowstorm coming on Friday. WHAT?!

    Shirley LeMay - April 10, 2013 - 10:42 am

    I remember when progressive dinner parties were really in – you moved from house to house (or apartment to apartment, which was our case) and each place would host a different portion of the meal.
    We tend to do less formal dinner parties now – more like hang around the kitchen and graze, but they are still tons of fun.

    Your two doggies are beautiful!
    Hope you have a great week.

    As promised …

    As promised in yesterday’s post, I am finally including some recipes for  you.  Let’s get started.

    Those who wanted the recipe for my Homemade Softening Salts (for bath or foot soak), simply click on that link. Make them for yourself or be a hit and give them as hostess gifts! This is so easy to make, they smell amazing, and it’s far less expensive than anything you can buy — and safer too because there are no chemicals or toxins in the ones you make at home. You may add some colouring if you like but I prefer not to in the ones I make.

    Homemade Bath SaltsMarmalade — Click “marmalade” to visit the post which links directly to the recipe I used. You will also find the writer provides excellent how-to instructions if you are a first-timer to making marmalade. The end result is utterly out of this world delicious and your home will have the divine aroma of oranges all day long when you’re making it.

    Fiesta Corn Relish — I’ve been torn about typing this recipe out because it came directly from a cookbook and I’m not sure whether it’s infringing copyright to do so.  The recipe came out of one of my favourite books on preserving, The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. But if you click on Fiesta Corn Relish, you can have the exact recipe I used. You’ll see this is not your mother’s or grandmother’s corn relish, which would also be great. This one has a bit of a southwestern twist and it’s such a nice accompaniment to roasts, hamburgers, in a grilled cheese sandwich, dressing up a sausage-in-a-bun, or give a jar away as a hostess gift. I love that this one can be made in the middle of winter because you can use frozen corn when it’s not corn season.

    Fiesta Corn Relish

    Fiesta Corn Relish

    One thing about nearly all the savoury dishes I make, other than preserving (pickles, relishes, etc) is that I seldom use a recipe. Sometimes I use a recipe for inspiration and then I do my own thing. But most of what I make for our meals is just ingredients I toss together. Because I’ve been asked several times, I will try to write some of these down in recipe form but some of those recipes may be very general since I don’t measure as I cook either — I just do it. So if there is something that you’d really love to know how I make, keep asking and if it’s something I can jot down for you, I certainly will.

    I’ve recently joined Pinterest and can see what all the fuss is — lots of interesting lists and what a great source for recipes and how-to ideas.

    PS: Do any of you readers know how to enable the RSS or the Subscribe-by-email buttons on WordPress? I understand a couple people are not able to do so even though I see there is a wide group of followers who did have success. I wonder if it has to do with the WordPress updates possibly? Anyone have ideas? I’ve done some digging online but the information is either way over my head or I come up with no solid answers. I’m ATTEMPTING an experiment below to see if this may work (but it means I would have to manually add the code in every post):
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    sherri - April 5, 2013 - 6:42 am

    this make lovely images, diane.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - April 5, 2013 - 7:11 am

    Diane, thank you for sharing your recipes 🙂 I’ve had a canning flop in the past, so I’m not sure if I’ll try the marmalade or corn relish. But I’m pretty sure I can handle making the softening salts 🙂 I think my feet will appreciate it!

    Sherry Galey - April 5, 2013 - 11:58 am

    Thanks for posting the softening salts recipe, DIane. I have been meaning to make these and when I get home I really will. I love how simple and natural they are. And I have many essential oils that I will experiment with. I’m glad you’re finding Pinterest to be helpful. I’m not on there a lot but when I find a great recipe or project or even inspirational photo I find it so convenient to use as a place to save it all.

    Jotting it down, before I forget

    This post is a series of items jotted down before I forget. I’ve been so busy lately: we’ve been doing a lot of entertaining so I’ve been doing a lot of cooking & cleaning; twice daily dog walks; workouts 3 times each week; some visiting; some exploring; oh yes, and now there’s yard work too; and so on. Just a few reasons for taking so long to say “hi”.

    Jot One.  In the last post I promised to share some of those recipes. I’m going to have to delay that until the next posting: I’m afraid I have my blog set so that people cannot right click the text or photos and help themselves (photo theft is a big problem online, as many of you may be aware). I’ve learned that I can provide you with a nice pdf of the recipes but first I need to type them up into pdf format and then load them to my dropbox so you can easily access the links — that way you can help yourself to the recipes. You will only have to wait no more than a day for the recipe post so stand by!

    homemade dinner buns

    Jot Two.  My postcards and the rest of the package for Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art 2013 project  are completed. I chose 5 pieces of art, on postcards, wrote a little something on each one, and the works are in-the-mail! I can hardly wait to begin receiving works of art from the other participants to begin rolling in.

    Jot Three. It’s about food, again. It means I need to share more recipes. I make my own pizza dough from scratch, my own Italian pan bread, and cinnamon buns, but I came across a recipe for dinner buns that I knew I must try. Try I did, and they were so amazing, I gave half a dozen to one of the neighbours and now I’m sharing the recipe with you. Credit for the recipe goes to Mary Marshall for her Easy Big Fat Yeast Rolls — easy for sure and incredibly delicious. It’s the addition of an egg and butter to the dough that amps up the flavour. PS: Since I wrote this part a couple weeks ago, I’ve made them again since then and they were equally amazing the second time, so give ’em a try! That’s them up there.

    Definitely recommended

    Definitely recommended

    Jot Four. I have also been READING up a storm. The last novel I read was one that’s been out for ages, Chocolat, and although I did read it all the way through I didn’t find it all that satisfying. The book that is currently holding my bookmark definitely has my interest. I have around a half dozen books that have been sitting in abeyance waiting their turn to be enjoyed and I have to share with you that this one I definitely recommend, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fryby Rachel Joyce. I’m nearly at the end and can hardly wait to see how it finishes up and what happens to Harold. I don’t write reviews here since there are hundreds of them online but I will say that the subject matter is definitely unique, the characters and plot are interesting, and I really enjoy the use of imagery in her prose.

    Easter table

    We had a lovely Easter. I made an entirely non-traditional meal this Easter because I knew our guests would appreciate something a bit different. I went boring and simple on the appetizers because the rest of the meal was two days in the making. Appies included: cognac pate with sesame rice crackers; a couple (real) cheeses; and a variety of olives & pickles (that was the store-bought portion of the meal). First course was Spanish Pea soup that was really fresh and spring-like with a great flavour. Entree included fantastic (even if I say so myself) Braised Lamb Shanks, Carrot spears with Dukkah, Celery & Radish Salad, homemade Pan Bread, and Couscous with Mint & Peas. Then for dessert because I knew I’d miss my traditional lemon meringue pie, I made a spritely lemon parfait (always homemade) using my own shortbread crumbs to simulate the flavours of the missing pie. I think that’s the first time in my entire life I’ve gone non-traditional for the holiday meal. What about you? What do you make for Easter and do you like to go non-traditional at times?



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    Gabriele - April 4, 2013 - 7:51 am

    I feel so comfortable among my baking friends. Those buns look delicious and I may try them soon. Easter came and went without my cooking due to surgery but my grandson, the baker, made some fantastic braided bread.

    Michele Jack - April 5, 2013 - 6:25 pm

    Once again parallel lives. Just put the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry on my bedside in cue.
    Have you read The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons? Highly recommend!!

    Susan - April 6, 2013 - 7:23 pm

    Diane, your photos and descriptions of your dishes are making my mouth water! You are one busy, very creative woman!