September 27, 2012

Woodland Love

"There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations."
Washington Irving


Trees in company have always intrigued me. Now, especially at this time of year, I find myself inexplicably drawn by the damp autumn scent and the beginning of bright colours gracing noble branches. 

 

Creatures great and small are preparing for the season ahead and I find myself drawn to them as well.






Here are a few little woodland prints I've been working on lately. I'm rather partial to the little racoon, isn't he sweet?

  

{view these prints in the shop}

Have you heard of The Paper Kites? I've just discovered their pretty tunes and 'Woodland' is a favourite of mine, I like their mellow, hippie-ish sound...

{listen to Woodland by The Paper Kites}

So if you have a chance this weekend, find some woodland to walk through! Enjoy the sights, smells and feel of autumn in the woods. May you enjoy sunny blue-sky days, changing leaves, garden harvests and all this beautiful season has to offer.

September 24, 2012

making a way

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:19

It came quietly, in whispers and small seeds; words to spur growth and bring healing. After walking through heartbreak and fire, playing the victim comes easy. Temptations to shut down and shut off are real, and I have spent time locking horns with fear and anxiety. Hope can falter, this is all a process extremely non-linear and quite circuitous. 

I feel I have lain on an altar in surrender, wincing as my heart and will have been broken and re-shaped, over and over. My state of being has alternated between numbness and acceptance. Fears try to distract from the process; will the house sell? will jobs continue to be provided? If I give in to fear, it quickly infuses every aspect of how I live and interact with others, and it is not a nice place to be. 

Yet on this altar I have also known a growing faith, and belief that even this can be used for glory. 

I found myself reflecting on our journey as I was driving to the kick-off brunch of this year's Bible study. In the past month we have experienced God providing a wonderful teaching position for Neal, we have spent time around a campfire getting to know the leadership of our new church home, and we have spent time with wonderful couples, both family and new friends, enjoying good food and even better conversation. All are gifts. How far we have come, from an extreme up-rooting and unsettling, to land gently in a community we are growing to love more and more.

As I drove, I also reflected on words which caught my eye and my attention the day before; 'don't let your circumstances define who you are'. I am not the divorce I went through, I am not the miscarriage I experienced, I am not the fire, I am not Loss. I have journeyed through these things, God has used them to shape and refine me, yet they are not who I am. As I drove past golden fields in morning light, words were spoken into my heart;

You are not a victim. You are a victor.

victor; a winner in a battle, contest or struggleTwo warm, thankful tears run down, as truth sinks deep and healing comes. Victory? It had not even crossed my mind before. Did I believe it was not possible?

Yet with God, all things are possibleI have victory over these circumstances because someone won the victory for me, so long ago, on an altar shaped like a cross. Jesus offered the sacrifice that bought me back into relationship with Him. I am no longer a victim of circumstances. The power of sin and death have no hold on me. I cannot see ahead into the future, but I am convinced that if I press on with an open heart, I can only learn more about who I am in Christ. I need not fear. He is my victory, come what may.

I find irony in this faith journey, for where else do you gain victory through surrender? Yet it is not my victory, it is my acceptance of a victory already won and available through faith in Christ. I will not find this victory anywhere else. It is a stream in the desert, refreshing and free to all who come. Oh, won't you come with me? 

"The battle rages on, a storm in tempest roar, we cannot win this fight inside our rebel hearts. We're laying down our weapons now. We raise our white flags, we surrender all to you, all for you. We raise our white flag, and we surrender. Love has come. Your love has won. Here on this holy ground, you made a way for peace, laying your body down, you took our rightful place. This freedom song is marching on. We raise our white flags, we surrender all to you, all for you. We raise our white flag, and we surrender. Love has come. Your love has won."  

{White Flag, Chris Tomlin}

September 20, 2012

A little bit of pink porcelain


One of the many benefits of our relocation has been the opportunity to meet my mom for lunch and go on antiquing adventures together. We have one favourite place, a veritable antique warehouse, that we like to peruse every so often. You could spend hours (and we do!) combing row upon row of vintage treasures. Some are quite old, others not so much. Some are monetarily valuable, others have more of an emotional value as they bring back memories of times past.


And so it was with this little bit of pink porcelain. She is not overly rare (having been mass produced in Japan) but that quality seems to mean she was a fixture in many households in the 1950's. One similar to this was a fixture in my Oma's home, and I thought I might as well carry on the tradition. She really was too sweet to pass up. The choices were blue or pink, and though I would usually gravitate to pink anyway, she also reminded me of Ma's china shepherdess from the Little House on the Prairie series. At that moment I knew she was coming home with me.


I was lucky enough to find most of the Little House books at our local vintage book store. On my last visit there I noticed a 'closing out' sign on the window and went to see if I could find the last two books I need to complete the series. No such luck on the books, but I did spy a sturdy cardboard box that must have held a complete series of Little House at some point (you can see it in the background of the above photo). I felt a little silly asking if I could purchase the box, but I was determined not to lose the opportunity if I could indeed take it home. The lady at the book store was so kind and obliging, after asking what I was thinking of paying for it (after all, who buys a box from a book store?), she let me have it for just two dollars. To some that may seem rather silly, but I now have a lovely illustrated box for my (almost complete) set!


This little blessing and beautiful reminder of faith makes me so excited for the time when, just like Ma, I can put her in a special spot of my own.

"Be present at our table, Lord, 
be here and everywhere adored. 
These morsels bless, 
and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee. Amen."



Linking up with Rebecca over at Simple As That for Simple Things Sunday

September 17, 2012

All creatures great and small...


I had planned to share a cute vintage find with you today. It was never my intention to write a post on... *squirm* spiders. I mean really, who wants to see a spider? Especially the BIG, hairy one that lives on our back porch! Still reading? I'll distract you with another pretty web picture...


I am not overly fond of spiders myself, but this one... well, she has become somewhat of a 'pet' around here. You see, she has this habit of waking up every evening, just as we are settling down in the living room, and wandering out on her large web in the corner of our window (on the outside of course). She is SO big and hairy and scary that she is actually kind of intriguing.


I watched with fascination on one particular evening as she spun the inner rings of her wispy web. Round and round she went, spinning gossamer fine threads perfectly spaced, each vein of silk carefully secured. I was in awe really, how does she know to perfectly space and secure each line? Creation is truly amazing. I find myself cringing when strong winds blow, in sympathy for the work this little creature will have to put in, mending and fixing holes and broken lines.

Now, if you really are squeamish or have arachnophobia (ha! that was a terrible movie...) then don't look at the next picture.

If however, you are somewhat curious, then I would love to share a peek at one of God's amazing little creatures with you,


There. That wasn't so bad was it? I find her rather interesting, but I will spare you the macro shots. Unless you have children who would be interested or would benefit educationally from some great macro spider shots (showing the individual hairs on each leg etc). Then I would love to share them with you! Just drop an e-mail to takejoy at rocketmail dot com. I do promise to get around to the vintage find this week, so stay tuned!

"O Lord how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." 
Psalm 104:24


Linking up with Rebecca for Simple Things Sunday. Stop by and check out the beautiful photography!

September 12, 2012

In the Kitchen, Apple & Cheddar edition...

It seems the one consolation to the end of summer is the beginning of fall. I've been attempting to embrace the cooler nights, harvested, bare fields and the beginning of that fall musk-y smell in the woods.

One activity which seems to help the fall embrace is baking up some apple and cheddar goodness in the kitchen. This obsession started small, just a grilled cheese sandwich on homemade bread with a tart Granny apple as company. After that, it seemed apple recipes were everywhere!


Here is a wonderful Apple Oat Muffin recipe for heaping pans of apple-oat goodnesss. I just love it when a recipe makes tall, gorgeous muffins! It took a bit of time to convert the grams in the recipe to cups, but the conversion for dry ingredients is basically 100g = 1C (it's actually 110g to a cup, but close enough!) I threw in some craisins too.

Oh, and if you look close above, you can just see a sneak peek below of some wonderful kid-art that is hanging around my kitchen, compliments of our favourite little 6-year old girly in Slave Lake (who started Grade 1 this year!) As a side note, moms, I don't know how you do it. It is crazy enough for me to spectate as a child I met when she was just a wee two day old babe walks into the school I used to teach at to begin First Grade...

Now before I get too sentimental, I'll also share the ultimate Apple Cheddar Scone recipe with you.


These scones! They are UN-be-live-able! If you have apples and cheese - go make them! Now! You will thank yourself later, I promise. My overuse of exclamation points is merely an attempt to convey their tasty-ness.

Apple and Cheddar Scones: 

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup very cold butter cut into small pieces
2 eggs
½cup Greek yogurt (or any thick, plain yogurt)
2 green or red apples, finely diced
3 teaspoons finely minced sage (I used fresh parsley - sooo good!!)
½ cup diced sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 375˚


In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Pulse to mix. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the apples, cheddar and sage/whatever herb you have around the house. Place mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl combine the eggs and ½ cup Greek yogurt. Whisk well to combine. 
Add eggs and yogurt to the flour mixture and stir until dough just comes together. Add additional tablespoons of greek yogurt if necessary.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface. For smaller scones divide the dough into four equal portions. Form each portion into a rough circle 5-6 inches across and 1/2' to 1' in height, depending on how thick you like your scones. Cut each circle into 6-8 wedges. For large scones form two 8-10 inch circles, then cut into wedges. Keep unused dough in the fridge while you wait for one pan to bake.

Place wedges on a lightly greased or non-stick baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
Try not to eat them all at once!
{Original recipe found here, adapted from Good Life Eats}

Linking up to Tonya's Weekend Potluck - stop by and see the yummy smorg of recipes!

September 6, 2012

A bit of funny...

Last night my brain revolted and decided to be fully alert from 3 - 5 am. Why? I have no idea. So I decided to spend the wide-awake hours cozied up in the living room. Not with a book. With Pinterest. Oh dear.

After finding a few crafty things to file away for future reference, I decided to cautiously explore the humour section. It is a good thing Neal is a sound sleeper, otherwise he would have heard; *silence* *HA!* *fridge humming* *snicker* *slience* *BAHAHA!* *silence*. This went on for two hours, but I was marvelously entertained. 

Here are some of the highlights, if you care to indulge my sense of humour, or need a good laugh today;

Hmm... my next printable? hahahaha...


Whaaaat?

The crowning glory however, is a link to the comments section of a banana slicer advertised on Amazon. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, or the fact that I was already in a silly mood, but I laughed till I cried.


My personal favourite is the following: 

2.0 out of 5 stars Angle is wrong
I tried the banana slicer and found it unacceptable. As shown in the picture, the slices are curved from left to right. All of my bananas are bent the other way.
Published 1 month ago by J. Anderson


Perhaps the next time my brain revolts at 3 am I'll have the wittiness to post random comments on ridiculous products too...

Do you have your sassy pants on today? 

September 3, 2012

on a September eve...


Can it really be September already? I suppose the early evening light, the cool tang in the air and the changing prairie grasses are all telling me so. I think I'm simply in denial. In July the hot hazy days seem to stretch on forever, then August flies by and here we are!


I am rather enjoying another slow start to the school year, free of the responsibilities of my own classroom. God is providing for this season in wonderful ways and I'm excited to tackle another year of happy balance between work and play. Neal has accepted a local teaching assignment, our re-build house continues to progress, and we will be snug in our treehouse for another winter.


Not that every day is smooth sailing. Having kitties in the house has made me ache for the day we can rescue a fur-ball again. In fact, we are in agreement that having two cats is quite up our alley and certainly a hope for the future.


The choice to seek God in everything, especially when it involves any amount of patient waiting, is not always a natural choice. Yet, as I look back on the past year, I see threads woven carefully together, all part of a masterful plan.


These glimpses of beauty this evening feel just like a love letter. Standing on the cusp of a 'new year' with new opportunities and continued new adventures is a beautiful thing.

"Young men and women, old men and children, let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens." Psalm 148:12&13

September 1, 2012

Out on a limb

Vulnerability = risk + emotional exposure + uncertainty
{source}

In one hand I'm holding a tender vulnerability, in the other, a drive and courage to begin something new. In beginning this new thing, I recognize my inabilities, my inexperience and my fear of failure (oh yes, that's a big one!). I'm just a regular girl who loves to create and inspire beauty to bring glory to the God who created it all. 

So what is this new thing? Well, I've been working on creating a variety of printable art and I've opened my very own little Etsy shop! I will continue to offer free prints as I develop in this artistic area, very much a beginner, yet bursting with ideas. So far all the artwork is made digitally, using fonts, photoshop brushes etc... but I would also like to try drawing and painting my own designs somewhere down the road. 

As I embark on this adventure, I'm holding tightly to these words;

"There will always be someone better than you.  Everywhere I go I find better worship leaders, better musicians, and better artists than myself.  This isn’t self deprecation, it’s just  the truth and I’m ok with it.  But imagine if I allowed that to affect me so much that I stopped creating my art?  Stopped leading worship?  Or stopped telling my story?  I would be in danger of hiding God from others.  If God’s fingerprints are all over my life (which I believe they are, and yours too) and I neglect to share my story or my art with the world then what witness would I have?

Tell the God story that is in you. Tell it to everyone and anyone that will listen. Tell it with your personality, with your gifts. Tell it through your actions, tell it through your words. Tell it through your songs, your paintings, your photos, your videos, your anything and everything. Because His fingerprints are on you, and He has given you a story to tell" {Caleb Delamont}

I will continue to tell my story. My prayer is that you would be inspired and encouraged to tell your story too. Show God's fingerprints, in each and every way he has gifted you.

Be blessed friends, and thank you for supporting me on this journey. 

Visit the shop here - hope you find something you like (and feel free to message me with custom work, I would love to design something personal for your home or blog!)