Backyard Bargains & Best-Before Dates

Later in the summer I’ll be hosting a garden party to celebrate my daughter and son-in-law’s elopement. And yes, I know I’ve already mentioned it, but it’s become a delightful preoccupation. We’ll need extra seating, of course, and have been keeping an eye out for bargains. Well, look what I scored at a yard sale. For $15!

A pair of Adirondack chairs connected by a table creates a cosy spot for a tete a tete under the old apple tree.

Pairing the set with a gazing ball on a wrought iron stand creates a nice cottage look, don’t you think? Handy Man may paint the chairs at some point, but for now I’m loving them au naturel.

Spending time in our backyard is a favorite pastime and we do a lot of al fresco dining. Last night was no exception.

Salad fixings

The lettuce and beets are from our garden. I used my mandolin to julienne the carrots and beets – super quick and easy! Along with those are diced cheddar, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, chopped ham, sliced avocado, and on the far right a little jar of my favorite vinaigrette. Oh, and notice my adorable little crystal salt cellar with its silver salt spoon.

I don’t buy bottled salad dressing. For one thing, I get bored with using the same dressing over and over again. But then if I have several on hand, they hang out in the fridge forever. If you’re a bottled dressing buyer, do you check your best-before dates?

I’ve borrowed a vinaigrette recipe from Prudence Parker, the heroine in my upcoming novella, Kiss at the Cove, and she encouraged me to share it with you.

Pru’s super-simple super-tasty vinaigrette

Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
a drizzle of maple syrup, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake. Done.


Bon appetit! Until next time,


The flower coast

Corsair’s Cove, as the rest of the Pacific Northwest, is like Eden for flowers. Warmish wet winters and warmer dry summers mean that we can grow flowers three seasons a year. Because I’m all about simplicity (that is, fewer chores), I encourage native plants in my garden – these have evolved to be happy with the amount of rainfall in the winter and spring (lots) and the summer (none).

From white to pink to yellow, purple, orange…there’s a show from late January to late autumn, when the birds harvest the last purple Oregon grapes and red elderberries.

Here are some of my faves:

Yellow flowers of Oregon grape burst on the scene in late winter
Red-flowering currant follows close on the heels of Oregon grape, usually in March
Wild plum is also a bright spot in late winter, bridging the Oregon grape and currant




Pacific rhododendron is a pink hit early in the spring
Camas naturalizes wonderfully, spreading into purple swaths in the spring





Exuberant California poppies spread like flowery fire in the early summer
Pearly everlastings both overwinter and seed themselves, so they spread into a wonderful show




The lawn-cum-meadow at Mack Johanssen’s place at Corsair’s Cove is full of California poppies and pearly everlastings. They bloom longer there because it’s a little shadier and less dry than my front yard.

Did I mention that the native birds and bees love all these plants too? Chickadees, bushtits, juncoes, hummingbirds…all chatter, all year.

Colour me happy.