July 23, 2014

Beauty All Around

I took my dog for a late evening walk last night as the sun was setting and the air was growing cool.
I had every intention of making it a quick walk, to let my little mongrel run around, chase some birds or bunnies down the trail and head back home, but once I was out, inhaling the fresh summer air and listening to the sweet, soft sounds of birds and ducks at dusk, I had to keep walking and document some of the countless moments of beauty that I came upon.
I am SO excited for the blackberry season to begin! This year I hope to harvest LOTS. This trail near my house is just loaded with berries ripening up. These were the very first few that were ready. So sweet and tangy!

I'm not sure what this is, weed or flower? I can't seem to identify it yet. It's very small and dainty. 
Though Morning Glory is a weed, its' blooms were practically glowing white in the dimming dusk light.
Also a weed, Queen Anne's Lace has always caught my eye. Right now they are prolific all along the sides of paths and roads. They do look like lace and I love when they curl upwards making a nest-looking shape.
Willow looks like she's taking time to smell the Lace!

As the light was dimming it was time to head home.
Willow has learned how to "stay" in a nice pose for a good path shot.

Honestly, I want to frame this one. The light was dappling these grasses making the field so pretty.
There was no wind, this was just how the grass was laying.
Sometimes all it takes is a few extra moments to look closely at the world around us to see beauty in every little blade of grass, every blossom, every insect or bird.

Beauty is all around us.

We live in such a beautiful world.

I truly felt God leading me to see that these little, insignificant things are all strokes from His own paintbrush of life. And if God cares about them, the birds and the flowers, how much more does He care about me and about you?

July 21, 2014

4-Week Health Challenge: Day 12

Well it's been 12 days on my...whatever you want to call it...cleanse, healthy kick, clean eating, Naturopath Plan and I'm still alive!

To catch you up, the Plan is basically: no wheat, no dairy, no refined sugars, no eggs, no tomatoes, no mushrooms, not much red meat, no potatoes, no peanuts or peanut butter...BUT lots of veggies and fruit, chicken, fish, cold-pressed olive oil and flax oil, pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds, brown rice everyday and whatever else I can fit in that abides by those rules. (Plus all my vitamins and minerals and supplements etc.) It's for four weeks, then we slowly add in different foods to see if I feel okay or worse to weed out any further allergies or sensitivities to foods.
*You can read all bout my first day on this crazy plan here.

The first few days I'll admit, were a little rough, but I stuck to it. I had several severe headaches which I'm sure was my body detoxing from not having sugar or regular carbs.
After the third and fourth days I got over the worst of my cravings and at this point didn't want to wreck the good I'd already accomplished. (I was already down a couple of pounds on the scale and that in itself was encouraging!)

Today is the end of Day 12 and I'd like to share with you a few special foods and combinations that have kept me going and not feeling like I'm denying myself of special treats.

My breakfasts usually consist of either a fruit smoothie assisted by my trusty Magic Bullet small blender, or I've also found a great couple of gluten-free cereals that I now enjoy with some almond milk. Shock, I know! Even a few weeks ago, if you would have suggested to me to eat this combination...I would have laughed at you and grimaced with queasiness. However, I've taking quite a liking to it.

 As for snacks, I am a lover of salty things like potato chips or tortilla chips. My mom actually scouted out these Kale & Chia chips for me from Costco. I could eat these every day!! They have just a bit of sea salt on them, making them perfect as a salty snack on their own or even paired with some hummus.  So good!
Another snack I've been enjoying in my lunch is a brown rice cake with almond butter and a drizzle of honey. At first I tried the rice cakes with just almond butter but it's not yet a particularly favourite flavour of mine so adding the small topping of honey, especially this yummy local Blackberry honey, makes it just perfect! I will butter up two cakes and put them together, almond butter and honey sides facing, in a bag so the mess stays inside and twist apart to eat them. 

Last but certainly not least, I love a good cookie! My mom makes delicious cookies and I just had to find some kind of tasty cookie I could take with my when we go to the beach or even in my lunch. After scouring the grocery store aisles (that will be for another blog post in the near future, why some stores are easier than others to shop for natural foods!), I came across this brand, Lucy's Maple Bliss Cookie. And let me tell you, they ARE blissful! They were created by a mom who is also a doctor and she wanted to find a great gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free cookie for her own kids, but could never find anything. So she developed her own brand. They are super good, crunchy with a bit of chewiness in the middle. They make a few other varieties which I am sure I will try before the month is over.

So there you have it. Some healthy treats for snacking on. I'm quite enjoying the results of eating this way and I'm sure after this trial plan is over I'll be adopting a few of the rules to keep my eating habits clean and healthy. This morning I even saw a number on my scale I haven't seen for ...a very long time! Quite exciting!

Have you ever shopped or cooked gluten-free or dairy-free...or even sugar-free? 
I'd love to hear about it!

Do you have any favourite snacks or recipes or blogs you can recommend to me?

Thanks for reading! Please comment below.

Hey, did you know...you can sign-up at the top right of the page under "Follow by E-mail" to be notified by email when I post next.

July 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Bloom

On Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. 
Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. THIS WEEK Link back HERE and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Thems the rules!

OK, are you ready? 

The topic for today is:



We all bloom differently.

Some of us bloom early. 

We know what we want, we know who we are or we have it mostly figured out and we go get it.  We stick with this early conquest and make it work, make the best of it, make it flourish and grown.

Others bloom sporadically. 

We want this, so we chase after it. Then we want the next new thing, so we chase again and again, growing in character and experience all the while. Narrowing down what it is we really want again and again. Steadily expanding our knowledge and learning as we go,

The rest of us are late bloomers. 

We don't want to grow. We want to stay young, like the early bright green shoots. We don't know what it is we are going to grow into and these early stages seem to linger and last forever. 
We stretch and try to bloom but it just never happens. We branch out, try to learn, to live up to the rest of the garden's splendor, but we are still small and green and tender, easily pinched or broken.

We may need a stake or a lattice, something strong to hold us up so we can be all we were meant to be. We reach upwards, longing for that day when the gaze of all will behold the wonder that is our fruit.

Then one day, it happens. 

We realize that we are not blooming like the others. We don't have fancy flowers bursting forth, or tropical delicacies hanging from our branches. 

We have roots. Our blooming has gone one underneath the rich, dark soil. 

We may not be fancy or tall or colourful, but we've grown something unseen. When the Gardener comes along to collect His bounty, ours will be a carefully nourishing food that we have cultivated and fed from the sunlight and water from above. 

We will bloom. 
A different kind of bloom. 
A bloom that it isn't always admired, but is needed and cherished by the grateful. 

We are all different. 

We all bloom differently.


July 16, 2014

4-Week Health Challenge: Day One

Taken on top of Mt.Tzouhalem on a hike that changed me.
Let's talk about health.

I am a relatively healthy 35 year old woman.
I say relatively because I don't have any major health issues, however, I am overweight, I have an under active thyroid gland and I don't eat very healthy or exercise as regularly as I should.

I'd love to be able to go on long hikes, trek through the forests, up and down hills with ease.
Heck, I'd love to be able to climb a few flights of stairs without being out of breath!

I am realizing that unless I change something now, my health is going to continue to creep into decline, my weight is going to continue to slowly climb and I am not going to be able to enjoy my life as I should or want to.

Enjoying life...well, okay, I think that may be part of my problem, in a cheeky, silly way.

I enjoy everything a little too much.

When it comes to eating and choosing foods, I'm not what you would call a typical emotional eater.
I don't eat because I am sad or angry or to fill a void, I mostly eat unhealthily because I just love everything! I enjoy food and I enjoy the social aspect of eating together, with friends and family or anyone, really.


Yes, apparently I need to tame my enjoyment a little or at least focus that joy towards some healthier alternatives and kick-start a total lifestyle change.

After this walk with my nephews I felt like scratching my face OFF!
Another of my smaller issues in allergies.

Since moving to Victoria at age 7, I have developed major seasonal allergies that affect me from Spring to Autumn. I sneeze again and again, my eyes get watery and itchy, my throat gets scratchy and my sinuses are constantly on fire.
Yes, I have taken antihistamines, every kind, every colour, every type. Nasal sprays give me nosebleeds and the pills wear off every few weeks causing me to keep switching meds. Not fun!

These past two winters I was also struck with cold after cold after bug, with my head constantly congested and my sinuses and throat never seeming to clear.
This feeling continued long after all the other cold symptoms vacated and then allergy season hit with a wham!

Enough was enough and I was ready to seek any new treatment I could find to rid myself of this awful congestion.

So, after being tossed around by several Doctors over the past years, I am trying the advice of a Naturopath.

She administered a Scratch Allergy Test which confirmed my suspicions that I am madly allergic to grasses. (Luckily not to my dog! Heh, heh.) If I ever walk through a field of any kind I come out looking like my face is melting off! Not fun for any summer outings or attempted hikes.

She also is suggesting a treatment plan to rule out any food sensitivities witch may be causing this nasty sinus issue. Her plan, which will boost my immune system, solve a few blood-related issues and kick-start some weight-loss, includes eating a lot of brown rice, veggies, fruits, supplements, oils and avoiding all dairy, gluten, egg, sugar, peanuts, anything pre-packaged and a few other items.

Oiy, this is going to be a challenge!

Yet, if I could make it through a totally liquid fast for one week, perhaps, with a little help from above and around me, I can last for 4 weeks with LOTS of healthy, delicious meal and snack options!

Yes, yes, I CAN make it!!!

A hefty trip to the grocery store later and a few hours cleaning out my fridge and freezer (thanks to a pal!) of anything out of date, old or unhealthy, and I am all set!

Here's how it's going...
(I am this writing journal both for myself to keep track and for you, for entertainment and to encourage you on your health journey, whatever it may be.)

Day One, Week One:
I started out my day with a large glass of warm water and a quarter of a lemon's juice squeezed into it. (Aids in digestion, so I am told.)
Took my Thyroid & Iron pills with the last gulp and proceeded to get ready for work.
Gobind Farms berries from the James Bay Market...super yummy local fruit!

I made a quick smoothie to take with me for breakfast - frozen blueberries & strawberries, 1/2 cup mango V8 juice I need to use up (it's 100% juice so allowed in moderation) and 1/2 cup or Almond Breeze Original milk. (Note: I should have bought the Almond Breeze Vanilla, probably would've tasted a bit sweeter.) However, the smoothie was quick, tasty, thick and lasted a while. I took my Multi Glyco & Orti B supplements with the smoothie. (Gah, Note, need to go buy the correct amount of Probiotics! I didn't bring my info sheet to the store last night and too low of a dose where I'd have to take SIX pills instead of 2 or 3.)

Before leaving home I grabbed my plethora of lunch and snack items from the fridge and the other bottles of supplements I'll taking with breakfast (Note to self: I need a smallish pill container instead of taking these whopping big bottles to work with me! Those weekly ones won't do since some of these capsules are HUGE!!)
Also grabbed my bottle liquid Vitamin D...I have still to take it. (Another Note: I forgot to bring a nasty fish oil capsule with me, too!)
My breakfast smoothie cup and snack pack.

I have a snack pack of raisins (the tiny kids school ones) nearby, should I feel the need for a snack mid-morning.

I also brought along some yummy green seedless grapes, a baggie of my own home-grown radishes, and an excellent salad for lunch. More on that in a moment.

It's 10:42 am and my smoothie is done (it became a little jelly-like at the bottom but I refused to think too much about it and slurped it down). Ate the raisin snack box soon after.

12:23 pm and it's Lunch time! Yummy salad here I come...oh no, I forgot my container of brown rice...sheesh! I'm super forgetful today! Ah well, the salad with tuna will keep me full until later.

Lunch - Salad made up of green leaf lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, orange pepper, broccoli slaw, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cranberries, ground flax seed, and some drained flaked white tuna.
For a dressing I added some dried herb mixture into about 2 tbsp of olive oil and cracked pepper. This, however, was not a satisfying dressing mixture. It tasted too...oily and barely added any flavour to my salad. I ate almost all the salad and right away started looking up some alternatives that I can make for next time.

I also ate my two brown rice cakes with a bit of almond butter. A satisfying crunch and the almond butter will take some getting used to since I love peanut butter, but it was a good addition to my lunch.

Supper consisted of a rushed cup of heated brown rice with a drizzle of olive oil and 2 tbsp of tuna mixed in. Hurried, because I was going out to an evening market with some friends and I didn't want to be starving and not find anything to eat there.

Sure enough, there didn't seem to be a single stall, booth or food cart that I could indulge in (besides all the yummy fresh produce) BUT I did find a roasted spiral sliced yam on a stick at once place. Bingo! And Delish!!
I forgot to snap a photo but this was what it looked like - A Yam Tornado Potato.
I bought some huge, fresh raspberries to snack on later and some local blackberry honey (the sample tasted super good!) and a few other non-food items.

I came home a little hungry but I had some water, raspberries and some kale & chia chips my mom found for me at Costco. (Checked the label and looks okay.) Really, I could LIVE off of these chips! Very tortilla-like, crispy, a tiny bit of sea salt and great on their own or with hummus.

I went to bed, not hungry and not too dis-satisfied with my first day.

Oh, I also found a health food store open near the market where we were so I bought some flax seed oil and the proper probiotics. Yay!

So far, so good for Day One on my cleansing/health/cutting-out-everything food journey.

Stay tuned as I update you on my progress. 

(*I am currently a week ahead of filling you in so today was my actual Day 7, yay! I'll blog about my first week soon.)

Questions: Have you every tried cutting out any specific foods because of interesting allergies or health concerns? What's your favourite healthy snack or meal??

July 14, 2014

Dear Date...The Deserted Thirties

Join me for a series on my blog entitled "Dear Date..." 
where I share my insights and anecdotes into the exciting and often frustrating world of dating.

Previous topics in my "Dear Date..." series:
Are you Ready? Communication is Important! Internet Dating Dos & Don'ts.  Venue & Conversation Tips. And the most important...First Lesson: Have a Job."

Yes, I am in my thirties.
And no, I have not ever been close to being engaged, or married.
I am single.

Yes, that's right, I am single and not only am I in my thirties, I am exactly in my mid-thirties!
When did that happen?!?

Being in my thirties and single feels like being inside a black hole or the Kalahari desert.
Way off in the distance there is a glimmer or hope, of civilization, but where I am now it feels like no one understands. It feels lonesome, scary and a flickering contrast between being in the stark blinding spotlight or in the eerie blackness of invisibility.
Sometimes it even kind of feels like I'm a oddity at some old-timey side show.A man with a greasy mustache should be barking out to the crowd, "Step right up folks, behind this here curtain you will see a wonder of wonders, the very unique and rarely-before seen creature ever you laid eyes upon....it's the one and only, heavily endangered Thirty-Something Singleton! Yes, we have ourselves a real odd ball you ain't never gonna see anywheres else! Pay yer quarter and take a gander at 'er!"
I know it's not all that bad.

But some days it sure feels like I'm some alien that no one can comprehend.

My single 30's brain and heart work and tick so differently from everyone else.
They try to understand, oh yes, they try, but some days we need to flip through the yellow pages and find that ever-elusive ad for a single-to-non-single language and feelings interpreter.
You see, if you've been married or are married, young or old, you tend to forget what it's like.
Or you never even knew what it was like because you've never spent this many single years on your own.
You've never watched every one of your friends get married and have kids. 

Or if you have been married and now find yourself single and in your 30s, I'm sure you feel similarly confused and mislabeled.
Are you a "family" person now? Or back to being with the "singles" crowd?
And most of the "singles" around you are still in their 20s and either still in school or too young to even think about marriage yet.

Being single and 30-something is a rarity, and it is esspecially compounded by being single and Christian and 30-something! The veritable dating "pool" around you is shrinking eponentially by the milisecond or it does not even exist.
I'm not in my 20's anymore.
I'm not interested in dating forever or just for fun.
Most importantly, I'm not willing to sacrifice my beliefs just to settle down for the sake of just having someone.

I'm single. And I'm okay with that fact. 

For now.

Dear Date, if you find yourself in a similar situation, don't lose hope!

It's a desert out here, but on the horizon I see an oasis....or is it another mirage?

At the moment, I can't tell...but it's something.

(* As always, these amazing illustrations are courtesy of one of my favourite websites: explodingdog.com)

July 11, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Belong

On Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. 
Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. THIS WEEK Link back HERE and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Thems the rules!

OK, are you ready? 

The topic for today is:



As a youngest child I made my own fun a lot of the time. 

I made up games, created interesting story lines for my toys, I used whatever I found outside to make a fort or something to play with.

When I wasn't by myself, I always had a friend or two, or a cousin or a sibling to play with.

I even had no problem walking up to kids I didn't know at a park and asking them to play. 

I always felt like I belonged.

Somewhere along the way the darker side of life intervened and tried to push me to the outskirts of belonging. 

I was teased, I was bullied.

I cried, I got angry.

But somehow, by some miracle I always belonged with someone.

I had a wonderful family to spend time with.
I had fun neighbourhood kids to play with until it got dark outside. 
I had a church family full of girls and boys I could feel at home with anytime.

No matter what darkness pushed against me, I always belonged in some circle. 

Later in my high school years, I felt like a part of every small group my friendship circles had broken into.
They never pushed me away even if they pushed against others.
I am grateful for that.

The twinge of loneliness may come and go, but I have many, many groups of family and friends to which I am so thankful I belong. 

July 9, 2014

Oh for a Time Machine

Sometimes I really want to own a Time Machine.
Or a magic wand to alter the past.
Or a blackboard I can erase and wipe my personal slate clean.

Some days or weeks are just begging to begin again, to start over, new and fresh, full of better possibilities.

I know I can't go back and change the past.

With a few clicks on the internet I can try and delete and reorder and change things in the digital realm, however what's said has been said, and what's typed and seen lives forever.

I know I can't change the past...but some days I really wish I could.

Sometimes it's a moment or a chance, once gone, gone for good.
Sometimes it's a conversation taken the wrong way.
Sometimes it's news you wish to un-hear or an event you wish didn't have to happen.
Whatever it is, it's done, gone, said.

So. What can I do now?

I can learn.

Learn from a mistaken word.
Learn from what not to say.
Learn from what I could've said more clearly.
Learn that I am not in control.
Learn to trust.
Learn to forgive.
Learn to be more brave.

I can learn a lot from studying the past.

Maybe I need to become a better student.

// image source // image source

July 3, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Exhale

On Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. 
Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Your words. This shared feast.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back HERE and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Thems the rules!

OK, are you ready? 

The topic for today is:



To breathe.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

Quite often I think I am breathing in, holding on and not really experiencing the exhale.
The breath in revives us, gives us life, picks us up and as soon as we let go of that breath we always seem to be in such a hurry to catch the next, and the next...

Sometimes it's okay to pause and enjoy the breath out, the exhale, the letting go.

Busyness surrounds us, in our work, our family time, even in our play. We move so quickly from one experience to the next, barely taking a moment to appreciate and sink into and enjoy what we are going through.

For me, it's a project, or a work assignment, deadlines, approval, rewriting, tweaking this or that, spell checking, fact checking, then onto family dinners and shopping, groceries, time with friends, movies, books, full weekends, long hours, long days.......

This summer I want to exhale.

I want to breathe, deeply and enjoy whom I am with, truly listen to their stories and take time and space to feel happy wherever this warmer season takes me.

I want to hear what God is saying when I'm usually too busy to listen.

Take the time.

Enjoy and experience the exhale.

Sorting Out My Randomness (+ Freebies!)

Totally random photo of me & a moose.
All my life I've been a bit scattered, random, unorganized.

Whether it was playing with toys as a child, with stuffed animals, My Little Ponies and Barbies strew all over my room as I moved from one game or puzzle or idea to the next, or as teen in school, I always had homework mixed with reading books for fun and side projects always on the go.

I've even often seen myself as a "starter" and never a great "finisher" since I always seems to love new ideas and jump around from project to project.

Even my exciting new craft room in my new house has been full of my supplies and containers for a whole year with no sense of organization or coherence.
One day I will get to it and sort it all out. For now, I dig for what I need and dream of a pretty, sorted, clean and put-together craft room where I can instantly find anything I need.

However, I am trying to be more organized.

In the past year I have started and finished (or continued) a few of my dreams...

1} To make and sell my own jewelry at a summer market (read all about it here) 

2} I have been a bit more consistent with updating this blog.

Starting this month I am creating a schedule for myself so I can keep myself organized and on task with my goals for giving you fun and interesting blog posts.

This schedule is being assisted by a freebie my good friend Laura offered to me. She makes herself pretty monthly blank calendars for her own blog scheduling and gives them away to whomever would like one.
This month, I prompted her to post it to her blog as a free printable and she did!
So here you go, a free July calendar printable for you to use for whatever.

If you are a sleuth, you'll notice I've already missed one!

3} I also wanted to have some goals for this summer for fun activities and plans that would push me a little further passed my comfortable stay-at-home-or-only-around-the-same-people-I-know zone.

I found this wonderful "How To Summer" list printable and started filling it out with fun ideas and plans I could do this summer.

Easy instructions on how to make a gif like this.

You may notice there are a few ideas on my summer list that would involve a groups such as BBQs, Bocce, Hikes etc. Maybe you can join in!!

Hopefully these tools will help me be less scattered and more organized.
There is always room for self-improvement and I know being organized will help me finish my personal goals and move on to new, exciting plans!

Today's Question: What are some of your summer plans?