Semiahmoo Potter's Club Member Vivian McMillan shows off her watermelon salad.

Semiahmoo Potter's Club Member Vivian McMillan shows off her watermelon salad.

LOCAL FLAVOURS: Watermelon salad

White Rock resident Vivian McMillan shares her watermelon salad recipe.

Walking along the path leading to Vivian McMillan’s home, it’s easy to see why she has won numerous awards for her garden.

The dark concrete leading up to the front door is covered in confetti-like light pink petals from her cherry blossom tree, while the rest of home is surrounded by lush green plants and trees.

Bright and vivacious, Vivian quickly comes to the front door opening it to reveal the “dream home” that she and her husband, Keith, built 26 years ago.

It’s hard to focus on one part of the hobbyist’s home. To the left there is a 32-unit glass case housing McMillan’s extensive collection of rare and colourful seashells; above the fireplace lies her collection of fossils; and directly across from the kitchen, through tall, clear windows, is the view of her spectacular garden.

The avid collector admits that when she finds a hobby she likes, she really gets into it, including her pottery.

“My husband always says, ‘to heck with a hobby, that’s an obsession’ – and you know, it’s true,” she laughs.

She points out her pottery pieces that are placed all over the house and the few who have found a home in the garden.

“The broken ones or the ones that didn’t turn out, I put in my garden,” she said, pointing to leaf-shaped creations that catch water or hold one of her many plants.

McMillan has been a potter and member of the Semiamoo Potters Club for more than six years. And while she calls it a hobby, the craftsmanship and skill exhibited by her creations show it’s far more than that.

It’s all in the details, whether it’s the delicate petals of a life-like daffodil or the intricate veins of one of her many leaf creations.

McMillan goes to her kitchen to reveal another hobby. Held in a blue, lacqured leaf-shaped bowl is her watermelon salad.

A unique and tasty combination of refreshing watermelon, salty and briny black olives, cilantro and red onions, the salad is a burst of flavour and colour.

While she admits it may not sound like an appetizing combination, she insists it all boils down to taste.

“It sounds awful to think that olives and onions would work with watermelon, but boy do they,” McMillan said, popping a watermelon in her mouth.

The best part of the salad, she added, is that it can be tailored to any taste, simply by swapping out the ingredients.

“You can take out the cilantro and olives and you can add feta cheese and parsley. I’ve even used oranges before.”

One recommendation she makes when it comes to cooking – just like any hobby – is to have fun.

“Have a glass of wine, put some good music on and enjoy it,” she said.

McMillan and the Semiahmoo Potters Club will be hosting their Spring Sale on May 5 and 6 at the Ocean Park Community Centre, 1577 128 St., showcasing the work of the members.

For more information, go to

Watermelon, red onion and black olive salad

1 yellow/red watermelon (8-10 pounds)

1/2 a red onion, sliced thinly

1/4 cup cured black olives, drained and cut into rounds

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Cut watermelon into 1 to 1/2 inch chunks. Toss melon, onion, olives and cilantro to combine.

Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over salad and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve immediately.



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