Wednesday, August 13, 2014

taking a look at life mid-august

hoping that my dental appointment goes well next week. I haven't been to the dentist in about 5 years. 
listening to channel 975 on the Dish. I think it's called "the Light." I enjoy it because there are actually songs from artists I like that I've never heard. Listening to the radio gets boring some times because they play the same songs over and over.
eating (finally) some tomatoes from our garden. The cucumbers are going strong and the zucchini keep growing.
drinking iced tea.
procrastinating on lots of things. What else is new? 
shredding about 900 pounds of credit card crap today. Applications for new cards, "easy cash" checks, and old statements and bills. I think I burned up the shredder. It will shred about 20 pages and then shuts off. Time to go industrial.
organizing the scrapbook room. I've been working on taking pictures out of old acidy albums and sorting them in photo boxes (for now). Throwing out stuff. Going through files in the office part of that room and weeding out and reorganizing. I've spent two whole days in there and I'm still not done.
enjoying a cooler evening walk with my dog.
hanging drapes in our living room. We have a huge 100 inch window and finding a curtain rod was a bit of a pain. I actually spray painted this one because I couldn't find a silvery one anywhere big enough. The curtains were a steal at Ross, only $19.99 for the pair, but they look a little slim, so I'm going to have to watch and see if I can find another pair. 
using the cordless drill all by myself and following the easy-peasy tips for hanging curtain rods found here. Life changing, I'm telling you.
pondering what my future in education is going to look like. Or if there will be one.
loving summer berries. I picked about 2 quarts of blueberries off our two little bushes this year. It was a good berry year in these parts.
deciding on our fall ladies' Bible study. I've picked this one. We'll have a Sunday morning group and a Wednesday night group (which I'll facilitate). It will be my first time leading a study. I'm excited, but a little bit nervous.
needing to finish the deck painting project. Here are a few pictures of the progress we've made so far. The before (it had been cleaned and power washed a few days before).
And the after. You can't really tell in this 2nd picture, but the deck boards are stained a tobacco color. Much darker brown with no red.
making embroidered quilt squares and scrapbook pages for our former pastor's wife.
thinking about presents for my niece Hannah and nephew Keegan who have birthdays in 10 days or so. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

butchart gardens

One of my favorite things we saw in Victoria was the Butchart Gardens. This place is amazing. You can go year around and see different kinds of flowers based on the seasons. I'd love to see it in spring because there a about a million tulips. However, we were there in June and it was pretty incredible. In June you can see about a million roses.

The first part of this garden was designed down inside an old rock quarry. Jennie Butchart had tons of topsoil brought in by horse and cart. She transformed this place.

The sign as you enter the gardens.

The main house of Mrs. Butchart. It's now a couple different restaurants and a gallery.
The sunken garden inside the quarry. 

A fountain at the end of the sunken garden. Not quite the fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, but the fountain does change and it's very pretty.

Water lily pond. Peaceful and serene.
Moving on to the back lawn where there's an outdoor ampitheatre. They also have fireworks shows on the weekends.
Around the rose garden. I think this was my favorite place. So many amazing hanging baskets and huge, huge flowers everywhere.

Roses of every variety. All labeled.
Pretty, huh?

In the Japanese garden.

The back side of the main house. It once held a bowling alley, indoor pool, and an outdoor tennis court. Now it's a Mediterranean and Italian inspired garden.
The star pond. Complete with goldfish.

Butchart Gardens is definitely a must-see place in Victoria. Even on rainy days, they have big bins of clear umbrellas for you to borrow. I love that they're clear so they don't block the view of other people. There's a ginormous gift shop and several places to eat. You can even have high tea in one of the dining rooms. We ate lunch in the cafeteria style dining room and the food was really good.

Friday, July 25, 2014

fisgard lighthouse

On one of our little explorations around Victoria, we stumbled upon the Fisgard Lighthouse. (OK, we really didn't stumble upon it. Phil505 did a little pre-vacation research and knew it was there.) It's on a historical military fort, similar to Fort Stevens on the Oregon coast. It was built in 1859 and was the first permanent lighthouse on the Pacific coast of Canada. And, it's quite possibly the prettiest lighthouse I've ever seen. I think it's because of all that red.

Phil505 and I sort of have a 'thing' for lighthouses. On my first trip out to the northwest we went to the Yaquina Head and Cape Meares lighthouses. We climbed the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse in Florida on our honeymoon, and I've been to several more on the Oregon coast in the last 10 years. Now we can add a Canadian one to our list.
I loved this brick archway inside that led to the spiral staircase.
The view from the top. . .

Because it was close to closing time, we only had about a half hour to explore the park and about 20 minutes of that was walking from the parking lot to the lighthouse and then back to the parking lot. But it was worth it for this view.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

craigdarroch castle

Sunday was our first full day in Victoria. We walked over to the Royal BC Museum (which is just across the street from the Parliament building) and learned a little bit about Vikings and a lot of Canadian history. The Viking exhibit was very crowded and I may have been getting slightly annoyed at the people taking pictures of every. single. thing. behind. every. glass. case.
After a couple hours there, we went back and got the Jeep and drove around the outskirts of Victoria. There were a lot of beach areas and homes with waterfront views that were pretty spectacular. We ended up at Craigdarroch Castle. It was originally built in the late 1890's for a wealthy family of Scottish immigrants. It has over 20,000 square feet of living space and a total of 39 rooms. Can you imagine cleaning all that? I have a hard enough time with my 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. (Well, I'm sure this family was able to afford someone to clean it for them. They were Canada's first millionaires.) Unfortunately, the man who had it built died before it was finished.

After the family sold it, it has since been a military hospital, Victoria College, offices for the Victoria school board, and the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Now it's a pretty big tourist attraction and they are working on restoring parts of the inside. The rooms have been furnished to look like they would've back when the original family lived there. It was even used as one of the sets for the filming of Little Women back in 1994. In fact, Victoria was where quite a bit of the movie was filmed. Now I want to go rent Little Women and watch it again and see if I recognize anything.
The parlor on the first floor was huge and had one of at least four pianos that I remember seeing on our tour.
The main staircase which was fabricated in Chicago went up all four floors and each landing had huge bay windows with amazing stained glass.

Out the window you can kind of see the downtown area of Victoria.

Looking down. . .
The less formal dining room near the kitchen.
I had more pictures from inside, but they turned out really dark. You can see more here.

Now I've been inside a castle. I can check that one off my bucket list.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

exploring victoria

We took the ferry to Victoria out of Port Angeles. It's a 22 mile trip across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and it takes about 90 minutes. Here are our first glimpses from the ferry at Fisherman's Wharf and our hotel peeking out in the middle.
We stayed at the Inn at Laurel Point. It was a really pretty hotel. They have a restaurant that's quite well known - mostly because it has outdoor waterfront seating. There is a pretty little Japanese garden on the grounds and the people who worked there were extremely helpful. We had valet parking as part of our package. So not used to that.
Our room was nice, very modern looking. It was so much bigger than our room in Seattle the night before!
The bathroom was all marble tiled. The tub was divine. The shower is on the opposite side.
We had a little private balcony with some lounge chairs. Here was our view of the harbor. There were water taxis going back and forth all the time and planes taking off and landing right in front of the hotel. The one thing I loved about Victoria is that there is a really nice walkway all along the water and you can get pretty much anywhere by taking it.
After we got settled in, we went out for a walk. The Parliament building was amazing. The grounds are so beautiful. You can take tours inside, but we didn't do that this trip.
Just around the corner from the Parliament building is the Empress Hotel. Oh man, this place is just magical. That's how I like to describe it. It's like stepping back in time. We did go inside and saw a small part of it. There were some fancy shops and the dining room where they serve high tea. 
We had dinner at an English pub style place called The Flying Otter. Phil got himself some fish and chips and I had a club sandwich. When we came out, this was what we saw. . . the Parliament building all lit up. So pretty.
We also were just in time to see these two put on a little strength show. He was lifting and balancing her and then she lit her shoes on fire. They drew quite a crowd and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than Cirque de Soleil.
And that, my friends, was our first evening in Victoria.