September 25, 2013

Into the Woods

It is easy to forget the sanctuary of forest shadow in the summer season. Most time is spent in open sun, out in the fields, mowing lawn or tending the garden.

Trees are there, standing patient guard, yet the brambles and mosquitoes often keep us out until leaves begin to fall.

I love this place, this sanctuary, love it fiercely. Beautiful fall days with time to breathe have given me the gift of moments in the forest.

This is the season I was seeking; just enough teaching and working, with time to just be. To go out one fall afternoon and soak up all the gifts of solitude.

To catch the dance between sun and shadow. To contemplate the light and dark things of life.

I so often aim my lens towards the sun, yet there is beauty in dark places too.

Here in the quiet is where I find my breath again, clear my head, and get ready to take on new days and new adventures. 

Then, soul-soothed, I am ready for life and all it brings.

"Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing with joy before the Lord."
1 Chronicles 16:33

September 24, 2013

Many Happy Returns

Wishing someone very special a happy 80th birthday today! 

Grandma, we all love you so very much. 
Thank you for all the ways you have cared for us through these years, and lived them so well. 

May God richly bless you today and always.

September 20, 2013

Bits of this and that...

I've gathered a few inspirations of late into a list, a 'something to' spot. September has somehow snuck up on me and there are a few fall-ish inspirations I'd like to tuck away, and share with you too...

Something to bake: Banana Split Granola Bars 

I had three frozen bananas on hand and wanted to create something outside the Banana Bread box. This recipe was perfect. The ingredients are simple and I had them all on hand. They are also healthy, made with quinoa, no flour and no sugar. One batch is in the oven now!

A new product to try (no reimbursement for this endorsement, I just love these products!): Live Clean brand hair and body care. 

I decided to give paraben and sulfate free products a try earlier this year and have been the happiest with Live Clean's line of shampoo, conditioner and face and body lotion. They are Canadian made and have high standards when it comes to their ingredients. Best of all, they are reasonably priced and you can find their products at Wal-Mart, Rexall, or Shoppers (Wal-Mart usually has the best price) so there is no need to go anywhere fancy. often has their product on sale as well. If you 'like' their Facebook page you can get a dollar off coupon, good until Dec 31st. If you are not on Facebook, e-mail me and I can get you the coupon!

Something to listen to: November by Gabrielle Aplin

Yes, it's September and believe me I am not trying to rush into winter. Gabrielle Aplin, being English, enjoys rain in November as opposed to the snow that blankets us here, so I figure our September is kind of like England's November. Either way, this song is stuck in my head and I love Gabrielle's sweet voice. If you like it too, you might also enjoy Rings Round Roses and Evaporate. The song Home is the one that sold me on this girl and her sound last September.

Something to print: 'Thankful' notecard set from Craftaholics Anonymous. I love the fall colours and little acorns in this printable, and it's free so go ahead and thank someone for something with this little gem.

A new blog to visit: Annapolis and Company

Pinterest led me here and I appreciate Mary Beth's fresh photography, thoughts on family and thoughts on blogging.

Something pretty to see:

There is something about this London photo just asking for a story. I love the moodiness of it, the typography on the storefront and how the curving cobblestone draws you in and makes one wonder what could be around the corner. 

Something to get excited about: a 1924 Singer treadle sewing machine.

Yes - another yard sale find falling from heaven. And just a day after finding some inspiring fabric. What timing! The living room of our rental has taken on a faint intoxicating 'eau de museum' scent. Mmmmm - love it. Yard sales have been so good to us this year. Remember this find? I mean really - crazy isn't it? The season is waning, so if you have a chance, check out the end of season yard sales in your neighbourhood, you truly never know what you will find.

Happy Weekend friends!

September 17, 2013

Love in the River Valley

Is September ever spoiling us this year. August-like heat draws us out for evening walks by the river on tree lined paths, down a hill and into the woods where evening coolness begins to seep through the trees.

A sun that seems to set too early spreads its last rays, casting golden on all it touches. Cloudless skies crowd with magical haze and all is peace and quiet.

Someone spies a wasp nest nearby, and being of the male variety, contemplates jarring it with a stick (which is more small tree and less stick), but changes his mind once a few wasps are spotted standing guard. No, they are not hibernating yet.

This same person once had ideas about a porcupine up a tree.

We are a balance; adventure and beauty seeking. The two walk hand in hand.

September 10, 2013

In The Kitchen: Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes (the healthy way)

Mmmm... chocolate-y, moist and packed with vitamins and fibre - too good to be true? Not at all in fact, thanks to a secret ingredient... beets. I promise you, the beets pair perfectly with chocolate and if you didn't know they were in there you might never guess.

With all the fresh garden produce around these days, I am trying to sneak healthy vegetables into everything I can, and this includes snacks for lunches. Beets are messy (and I have the pink-stained hands to prove it), but their benefits far outweigh having to sop beet splashes off the front of your shirt (suggestion: wear a red shirt). Beets are high in vitamins A, B, C and are also high in fibre, manganese, folate and phytonutrients called betalains which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and detoxification qualities  (see here for more info). And if that is not reason enough, sometimes it's just fun to play with something pink in the kitchen (which turns a lovely chocolate-y hue when baked).


3 medium sized beets: cooked, peeled and shredded 

To cook the beets: fill a saucepan 1/4 full with water, bring to a boil, add beets and cook until just soft in the centre. Once cooked, the beet skin just pops right off so peeling is easy.

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs
3/4 C coconut milk
1/4 C applesauce
2 Tb vegetable or coconut oil
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

Whisk the dry ingredients together until blended. Whisk wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then add shredded beets & melted chocolate and stir. Combine wet ingredients with dry, mixing until just moistened.

Spoon into a greased or lined muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20 mins, or until the tops spring back when touched. Remove from pan to cool on a wire rack. Recipe makes 1 dozen. Enjoy!

September 7, 2013

If only it went like this...

We could have had it built instantly! As it is, we are into year two and *this* close to listing. This road has been oh so long and we are ready and waiting for that light at the end to shine, we are ready to move on.

What a journey since the fire, and what a triumph of spirit for the community to pick up, dig in and keep going. These years have not been easy - but people - we made it. Yes, the roads are still in rough shape, construction zones still cause frustration, not everything is perfect and not everything is complete. Yet in the past two years we have turned rubble to structure, desolation to new neighbourhoods and heartbreak to hope. 

This journey is full of stories. I would venture to say that in each and every family there has been growth and good things as pieces were picked up and new beginnings were embraced. Some new beginnings have grown within the community, and some have relocated and embraced new communities. No matter where we are, this experience has marked us, changed us somehow. I pray that it has made our hearts deeper and our family ties stronger. Healing takes time, and I pray for peace in your journey.

I am grateful for every hand that has worked on this home, for those run ragged by the burden of building so many all at once. I pray that soon you can enjoy a well deserved rest as the big push winds down. Thank you for helping us rebuild, not only this home, but our life around it.

Much love,

September 3, 2013

In green pastures...

I decided to capture these tranquil cows on a drive down country roads last week. The afternoon was patched with cloud and all was serene and quiet, with the occasional munching of summer green grass.

Now, looking back, I'm appreciating the reminder of green pastures and the assurance that no matter what comes, I can rest in the care of a good shepherd.

Yes, we are still waiting to list the house in Slave Lake, we are still not sure what we will move into once it sells, the Arts and Culture classes did not work out the way I thought, and yet I have been given a beautifully open year. A year to stretch my wings again, a year to be involved in different things.

Today is the first day of school for many, and today I'm revelling in the air I can breathe as I am not standing nervous in front of this years class. I have days booked to cover classes for others as meetings and such pop up, and that is exactly where I want to be. If you are a teacher, I prayed for you today. You are amazing and a gift and I pray you have a fantastic year. If you have little ones beginning school, I prayed for you today too. May you have wonderful first days and bless those teachers who love your kids to pieces and will partner with you for great things. It is going to be a good year.

Tomorrow I attend meetings of my own, as I wade in to one opportunity already gifted, the chance to fill a position at my church as a Children's Ministry assistant. I find fulfillment in helping others and encouraging kids in their walk with God, and I am excited for the chance to get involved in our church community. This is just one of the many good things God has planned for this year.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul."
Psalm 23: 1,2

p.s. Thank you for your heart lifting comments on my last post, you are all treasures and I could not do this without you -xox-