October 30, 2012

Remain in me...

A young girl just entering her teens is bulled at school, and she begins to believe she is not enough. Not pretty enough to be popular, not athletic enough to be accepted, not vocal enough to be noticed.

A young woman in her mid-twenties is a puddle on her kitchen floor as boxes fill the living room. Tears and anger come quickly. He has left, you are abandoned. You are not enough. 

Job interviews come and go. You do not have enough experience. You are not enough.

Later, with a job secured, evaluations come. You know in many areas you come up short. You are not enough.

You stand in front of a class filled with sparkling eyes and moldable hearts. Your greatest fear; am I enough?

How often have I wrestled to be enough. I have learned that on my own I am far from enough, far from being sufficient to meet my own needs and the needs of those around me. Our culture whispers, if you just look inside yourself, believe in yourself, be the best you can be, you will be enough. Yet experience has taught me that no matter the striving, no matter the effort and strain, if I am depending solely on myself I am surely not enough.

Another voice whispers, "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." {source}

I know this voice, kind and full of unconditional love. It is to this voice I must tune my ear and heart; knowing on my own I am not enough. Large loving arms pull me in and speak to my heart; "remain in me, and I will remain in you... apart from me you can do nothing". I know this to be true. 

Self-sufficiency crumbles and I choose to abide in the one who cannot be shaken. In Christ we are enough, for He is all that we need. It is in Christ that we find strength for each day and hope for tomorrow. I cannot produce strength and hope on my own, but I can choose to rest in the one who is strength and hope enough. In him I must remain.

Remain is an active verb, implying that I must each day choose to remain. It is not a one time deal. Over and over, when not enough is whispered I must choose to acknowledge Him who is enough.

"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love... I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete... 

I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last... If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." {source}

He chose you. Not because you worked hard enough to earn it. Not because you were pretty enough or smart enough or talented enough. Not because you volunteered enough or served well enough. He chose you because He made you, and loves you as his very own child. 

Wherever you find yourself today, may you rest in the arms of the one who is enough. May strivings cease, and may you find peace and unconditional love. 

In Christ you are more than enough.

October 26, 2012

Vintage Floral Washi Tape

Here is a little something just for you! Really, it is about time that I offer up some fun and free content. I figure now that Neal and I are both teaching full time my hobbies might just have to sneak their way in whenever they can. I enjoy teaching, but will certainly miss the time I was able to spend designing and playing with photoshop. Fun little projects like this don't eat up too much time though, and I know I'll need the mental break every now and then!

I like to use digital washi tape to pretty up my blog pictures sometimes and thought you may like a little step-by-step on how to use the tape on your photos too. Feel free to use the tape to pretty up blog posts or create designs and invitations for your personal use.

1. Create a new document in photoshop (I usually use an 8x10 inch format with a transparent background, just choose a size that will work well with your photo)

2. Open up the photo you wish to pretty-fy and open up the washi tape png. Drag the window of your new file out so you can see it separately.  Now you are set! 

3. Using the move tool (the little black arrow button), drag your photo onto the new doc and resize if necessary. Sometimes I like to rotate the picture so it isn't perfectly square.

4. Using the rectangular marquee tool (the little dotted rectangle button), select the tape piece you would like to use, then use the move tool to drag your tape onto your new document.

5. Resize the tape and rotate and place it until you are happy with the way it looks. When you close the washi tape file make sure you do not save any changes!

6. Save your new document as a JPEG file and you are ready to upload it to your blog.

{ for personal, non-commercial use only, thanks! }

October 22, 2012

In The Kitchen: Healthy Food Funnies

What happens when kids are asked to re-tell infamous family stories? Well, in the case of the Roberts family, you get Kid Snippets, and Kid History, gut-splittingly hilarious videos with adults acting and kids 'writing' the script (read a little behind-the-scenes here). I recently discovered Kid Snippets at a teacher's conference this past Thursday and have spent much too much time watching more and more... and more. I really can't get enough. The kids are hilarious, authentic and completely random, as kids often are. The adults do an amazing job of copying facial expressions, imitating sounds and not laughing while they are acting (I have no idea how they manage to keep it together... I certainly couldn't!). These skits remind me of a little girl and her younger brother, making recordings on an 80's cassette player, with much the same random story-telling and silly nonsense. Add a few cousins and a few stuffed cats and then you really have a good time... ah, the good ol' days.

I wanted to share this Kid History episode in particular, as part of my In The Kitchen series. Those who attempt to feed their children healthy food will have an appreciation for this one for sure. "A pinch of salt, lots of love, and lots and lots of to-fuuuu..."

My favourite lines come from the little guy pictured above, who starts out with "my little toe-sies are tick-ling you - tick tick tick!" and the absolutely priceless, "guess what? I'm gonna sing a fe-ew wowds of this song, and I want you guys to guess what it is, 'twinko twinko little staw, how I wondow'... can you guess what it is? It's not the Happy Biwthday song... I'll give you a hint... it satwts wif the leddow 'p'... *whispers* guess...gita-gita guess... Yea, thes only one mlin, one minute left in my bwain... *whispers* time is wunning out... so you betta guess... YES! It's Twinkl Twinkl Widdow Staw

Oh.My.Goodness. I die laughing...

Happy Monday - enjoy a good belly laugh this week!

October 16, 2012


I had a post all ready to go, pretty pictures and the long convoluted story of our employment journey this year, relating all that to the faithfulness and provision of our loving God with lovely metaphors and imagery. I wanted to share a tale of waiting, praying, saying no, saying yes, and knowing to whom, and when and where these answers were to be given.  

Of course I still mean to say all of the above, but when I was editing said post I hit the back arrow one too many times and suddenly I was staring at a blank screen... which happened to auto-save the moment the content was lost... I have been humbled. So bye-bye to that post and hello to this smaller, simpler version in point form! 

This week I am taking joy in;
- Neal's part time teaching job becoming full time, and a steady nudge towards one choice of the     two we had to decide between
  (this is h.u.g.e)
- An opportunity for me to temporarily teach grade two at the school Neal was at last year 
  (this is all very unexpected, kind of exciting, and I know it's going to stretch me big time...)
- This quote from Pete Wilson in 'Plan B': "God's will is as much about the person we are becoming   as it is about where we are going" and from Erwin McManus, "The process of becoming the         person God wants us to become usually doesn't come from success, success, success. It's loss,           success, failure, success, heartbreak, success, disappointment, success."
  (as a success driven person, this is humbling)
- 'Home' by Gabrielle Aplin, it has mesmerized my heart, it gives me goosebumps, and oh, does it     remind me of dreamy evenings on the beach in P.E.I... 
  (this is beautiful)
- and I must thank you all for your sweet comments on Rocket, you are a blessing and a comfort.     Getting to know you, dear readers, is something I take joy in often!

"I'm a phoenix in the water, A fish that's learned to fly, and I've always been a daughter, but feathers are meant for the sky.

Cause they say home is where your heart is set in stone,
is where you go when you're alone, is where you go to rest your bones.
It's not just where you lay your head. It's not just where you make your bed.
As long as we're together, does it matter where we go?"

Hope you are having a blessed start to your week, and know that wherever you are at, you are loved and you have a purpose. Under the wings of our heavenly father we find home.

October 12, 2012

remembering Rocket

It is the end of an era out on the farm. The last of our original cat trio passed away peacefully in her sleep Wednesday night after seventeen years of brightening our lives. Always a fixture at the back door, and sure to follow if you are out on the front deck or rummaging around in flower beds or gardens, she was a constant little companion. Always the dainty and squeaky one of the three we had, always one of two who delighted in kneading your lap and rubbing up against your legs (especially if you were trying to get somewhere). 

Seventeen years is a long time. She was there just weeks after we moved to the farm, part of a promise that we 'can have cats when we move to an acreage'. And not just one, but three made their way into our new home and our hearts. Rocket, Willow and Moe, the three musketeers of adventure, always keeping us on our toes, sharing their mice and other fine catches so proudly (Moe once caught a flying squirrel, and a mole...). I remember sitting with my brother and our two new kittens in the flower bed, deciding on names for them. Being a prolific scribbler, I had my little diary with lists of pet names and we ran through deciding. Since my kitten was a soft gray, white and beige I named her Willow and we tossed up Buttercup and Rocket for the little cream coloured bundle of fluff. Michael chose the name Rocket and it was perfect. 

Our days were filled with kitten adventures in the flower beds and later 'walks' in the woods. I chuckle remembering how Moe and Willow would meow loudly thinking they were lost (even though they could still see us up ahead on the trail) and Roceket would just bounce along beside us. You could see their personalities so clearly on a car ride to the vet; Moe trying to peer out every window and see what was going on, Willow sitting grumpily in the back window yowling and Rocket hiding quietly under the passenger seat, just her fluffy tail showing. They were all unique, at times the best of friends and at times Rocket and Willow were the worst of enemies (hmmm... much like siblings). Yet you would always find them piled all together up in their loft in the cat shed at night.

I know I will still look for you at the back door Rocket, expecting you to be there. Seventeen years is a long time. You will be missed.

October 11, 2012

Thanksgiving & the Pumpkin S'mores Cake

(the everyday peasant edition)...

We had a low key, small family dinner for Thanksgiving this year and I offered to bring dessert. I was thinking of making a pumpkin pie and the Pumpkin S'mores cake. When I discovered buying a pie cost as much as a can of pumpkin I ended up buying the pie, which freed up some personal courage for the cake itself. 

Looking at the original recipe I noticed copious quantities of eggs, did not like that idea, and searched for a substitute pumpkin-esque cake. I found this recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Party Cake over at The Art and Soul of Baking. Who can resist a cake with 'party' in the title? It met all of my cake expectations; moist, spicy and pumpkin-y. 

Armed with a good cake, I set out to find an alternative to the complicated instructions for making the toasted marshmallow filling. Although having a double boiler and a torch in your kitchen sounds like a lot of fun, they are not kitchen appliances I have immediate access to (though I considered using our BBQ lighter as a substitute torch...).

Enter an amazing recipe for Fluffy White Marshmallow Frosting from the Cake Duchess. In my mind, if a recipe comes from a vault of tried-and-true family recipes it is bound to be a success. 

Neal made it known that he planned to hide upstairs just in case I burned the sugar or had other such mishaps while attempting this frosting. He was also glad to hear I decided against the BBQ lighter/torch idea. Previous experience has taught him that the kitchen is not a happy place to be if a recipe begins to unravel. This is the one area in which I struggle with Bad Words. Especially if when I burn myself.

Thankfully I had the forethought to heat the sugar on med-low heat as I brought it to a boil. High heat settings and sugar do not get along (a recipe for Kettle Corn taught me that lesson, and was not added to the recipe box). I whipped the egg whites and slowly added the sugar mixture, following the instructions to a tee. 

It is so much easier to follow well written instructions with pictures to accompany - thank you Cake Duchess! The frosting turned out perfectly fluffy, strong enough to hold cake layers, not too sweet and SO easy. This recipe is a winner.

Now for the chocolate... do I follow the original recipe and give it a chance or find another substitute? Hmmm... looking at the instructions I am already confused, "prepare the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl". But how do I prepare it? My idea of preparing chocolate is to unwrap it... and then eat it. Also, I have no idea what nonpareils are. It would appear they are small round decorations you are supposed to put on top of the cake. But they sound more like an un-favorable medical condition than something I want to eat.

After doing a little research at Ganache 101, I discovered that preparing the chocolate in a heat safe bowl simply meant throwing it in. Then all you have to do is heat 1/2C thick cream until it bubbles and scoop it into the bowl. Stir and stir and as the chocolate melts...

it blends into ganache... voila!! Also easy. Why do french names always make a thing sound intimidating? Note: I may have put in a little too much chocolate... but it tasted divine!

{ keep lathering on the chocolate until the cake is completely covered! }

In short, my peasant version of Pumpkin S'mores cake is;
1. Pumpkin Spice Party Cake ~ from The Art and Soul of Baking
2. Fluffy White Marshmallow Frosting ~ from the Cake Duchess
3. Dark Chocolate Ganache ~ choose your own adventure at Ganache 101

One word of caution, there is still a fussy aspect to this cake... do not naively suppose that the meringue layers will survive a 5 hour wait as you attempt efficiency and assemble it at home before taking it to Thanksgiving dinner. Assemble the layers right before you eat it - do not let it sit too long!

Also, you need enough people (10-12 would suffice) to clean up the cake so there are no leftovers. Why? Well, when it was time for dessert and I sliced into this labor of love, I died a little inside as I noticed the beautiful, fluffy meringue layers has disappeared into the cake...

It tasted like a chocolate covered pumpkin cake, but it was nowhere near as pretty as I was expecting it to be. I debated nixing this entire post in shame, but decided to keep it real, culinary failures and all. Props to my family for the encouragement that it still tasted great, I love you all!

Perhaps next year I'll just buy the pie and the cake. Or this...

October 4, 2012

In the Kitchen, Pumpkin Edition

Ah, pumpkin, the quintessential fall flavor. First popping up at Starbucks as delectable pumpkin spice latte's, then slowly ripening in gardens and fields,  finally making their grand entrance at local markets and grocery stores. 

I am already armed with recipes for pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins, and my favourite pumpkin pie, but when I saw this it stopped me in my tracks...

Does anything sound more delectable than a Pumpkin S'mores cake?

I may just have to try it out this Thanksgiving weekend, along with pumpkin pie of course! Read the full recipe over here.

Mmmm Hmmmmm...

Do you have a favourite pumpkin recipe? Do share!

October 1, 2012

First Nations Celebration - Fort Edmonton Park 2012

Neal and I were privileged to spend a gorgeous autumn afternoon at Fort Edmonton Park (one of my all-time favourite places) this past Sunday. Not only was it free admission day, with donations being collected for the food bank, it was also an afternoon of First Nations cultural dancing. Since leaving Slave Lake I have truly missed seeing these dances, as they were a part of our school assemblies at times. Upon arriving at the Fort I was beyond thrilled to discover that we could watch and participate in this celebration of culture and life. It is truly such a gorgeous thing to be part of it takes my breath away! Here are some of the images I was privileged to capture, for sometimes pictures do speak a thousand words;

{ the Warrior Dance in full regalia }

{ Jingle Dance girls in their beautiful jingle dresses }

{ gorgeous Fancy Dancers }

{ the Drumming Circle }

{ a young boy dances the Chicken Dance it's not the one you are subjected to at weddings... }

{ the afternoon concludes with a round dance }

At one point all dancers were taking part in an inter-tribal dance and each dancer was instructed to invite someone from the crowd to join in, stepping along to drum beat and song. I watched, smiling, as one by one each dancer found a willing volunteer, all but the chief in full regalia (pictured first above). Perhaps it was his intimidating and awe-inspiring appearance, but everyone he tried to invite refused! So when he worked his way around to our side with outstretched hand, and more head shaking and moving backwards ensued, I heard a small voice saying "I'll join in". He took my hand and off we went! Now, I do not have any First Nations heritage, but I know Dutch/Hungarian people know that dancing is integral to celebration, and sometimes you just have to throw shyness to the wind and live a little. It was an experience not soon to be forgotten.

These cultural celebrations always leave me feeling quite emotional, and it is my hope that the photos shared convey a piece of what is was like to be a part of something so beautiful. If you would like to see a short bit of video footage, click here.

A 70-300mm telephoto lens on a Canon T3i was used for these photos. Besides some cropping and watermarks, the photos are not edited in any way. I wanted to capture the afternoon just as it was; beautiful light, colours and people! *