Scented Things from the Garden

Surprisingly, my lavender plants survived the winter. They seemed to suddenly turn green with a flush of new leaves after looking gray and completely dried out for months. What a tough little plant! Now it's sending out these lovely scented purple flowers.


In my little pot of herbs outside I'm trying out lemon verbena for the first time. The leaves have a very sweet lemon scent. Tried it as a tea, but the hot water seems to destroy some of the fragrance.

Lemon Verbena Tea

Peonies are possibly my most favourite scented flower - I could smell their sweet, delicate fragrance forever. These ones are from my mother-in-law, who saved the last blooms from her herbaceous peony plants for me.


Noodle-y Salad

When it's really hot and humid, I sometimes lose my appetite for rice. On those days, I like to make "noodle-y salads" - cold noodles + fresh vegetables + dressing/sauce.

Spicy cold noodle salad

A Korean version, with a spring onion, chives, carrot, tomato, cucumber, a spicy sauce and 냉면 (naeng myun - chewy noodles made with potato starch, sweet potato starch and buckwheat).

Cold Soba Noodles

Another way: soba (buckwheat) noodles, cucumber, bell pepper, spring onion, carrots and peanut sauce.

I just use whatever veggies I have and if I'm feeling fancy, I'll add chicken or shrimp. In any case, it's a perfect meal for hot summer days.


Nature in the City

A bright sunny day spent at the park. Walking near the pond among the reeds, under the blue sky:


Evidence of animals at work:

Beaver Cut Tree

Up close, you can see the beaver's large teeth marks:

Beaver Damage

The cheery, vivid yellow of forsythia in bloom:




The brief spell of summery weather is over - there's a cold wind howling outside as I write this now. But while the temperatures were up, I got to enjoy the outdoors with a picnic in the park.


I got there on my new bicycle.
 New Bike

Ate in the sunshine, surrounded by clear blue skies and trees in bud...Budding Trees


Spring Refresh

It's been so unusually warm for this time of year, that we've pulled out our Spring clothes much earlier than usual.

Hello to sneakers again:
Still splattered with glaze from last year's pottery classes.

Hello to Spring clothes too:
One Piece
I bought this light cotton one-piece in Tokyo a couple of years ago.

We also spent the weekend doing a big Spring clean of the living room, rearranging the furniture and de-cluttering. Our home feels refreshed and more spacious now. Spring renewal!



Shelling fresh peas for dinner:
Shelling Peas

Today was a bright, warm day with lots of sunshine. Took a long walk to the bookstore. The sidewalks were filled with people. People in t-shirts. People in sunglasses. People eating and drinking on patios. People out of winter hibernation. Suddenly it's a different city!


The Seeds Have Arrived

My order of seeds arrived!

Top row are veggies for my mom who rents a small plot of land every year to grow food.
Bottom row are flower seeds for my balcony.


Seeds for mom: sugar snap peas (early and mid-season varieties), lettuces, black kale (yum!), spinach and carrots (Royal Chantenay - sounds fancy, no?). She also grows lots of garlic, tomatoes, onions and Korean veggies like  ("moo" - radish) and herbs like 깻잎 ("ggaennip" - Korean perilla).

For myself, I got two kinds of morning glories - Heavenly Blue (mostly bright blue) and Persian Star (mostly pale blue). I think they'll look nice mixed together. Other repeat flowers from previous years are nasturtiums and sweet peas. New ones are marigold (Lemon Gem - edible!), baby's breath and summer forget-me-nots.



Home made pizza is delicious! I can go crazy with toppings I like and make the crust as thin as I want.


The dough recipe is from Joe Pastry. He shapes his pizzas into rough circles by hand, but I roll mine out because I like a really thin crust. He also has a fancy brick oven, which I don't obviously have in my apartment, but an upside down baking sheet makes a good enough hot surface to bake the pizza on.

This one has pineapple, spicy salami, provolone, sweet onions, tomatoes and dinosaur kale.
(I love dinosaur kale. I've been putting it in everything lately!)


Looking forward to Spring

Despite a sudden burst of winter snow recently, my thoughts are turning to Spring. Maybe because the sun feels a big brighter and warmer now when it's shining.

I'm looking forward to a new season of plants on the balcony. What seeds should I order this year?

I always grow morning glories to cover the rails and give us some privacy. The grow so vigorously and flower so abundantly they are always a favourite of mine.

Morning Glory

Other contenders are cosmos and sweet peas, or maybe I'll try something new this year like miniature dahlias or marigolds.

In addition to flowers, I always make room for some basic herbs like mint, thyme and rosemary. Last year I tried dill for the first time. I didn't use it very much for cooking, but the flower heads were very pretty - like fireworks.

Fernleaf Dill

I'm hoping the lavender I started from seed will come back this year. With the mild winter we've had I think there's a good chance!

With plants, come insects. Some are troublesome, like aphids, but beneficial insects are great, such as big bumblebees and ladybugs. Last summer, I was so excited to find these ladybug eggs on the underside of a morning glory leaf:

Ladybug Eggs

The ladybug babies (which don't look anything like ladybugs - they look like strange lizards) would soon hatch and munch away on the pesky aphids. Natural pest control.

Sometimes the garden vistors are surprising. This spider who was hiding in the the rails was huge - about an inch long:

 Wolf Spider

He was so furry, like an old man spider. I kind of hope he visits my garden again this year!