A New World by Tunnel

Today we thought we would go for a morning adventure since the day was calling to be a sizzler.
With no destination in mind, we ended up at where the creek down our road flows under the road. Dropping our bikes in the tall grasses, we wandered down to the beckoning creek. The water level had gone down significantly since spring and was no longer muscling its way into the culvert opening. So I appealed to the kids pleas and we stepped down, stick in hand, into the dark cobweb filled tunnel. That lead us into the secret world of…

the Amazon!

Or at least it felt like it.

The water gushed out of the pipe making a waterfall that poured into a little pool.

Small tree branches hung over the pool and large rocks held in its edges.

We immediately saw potential and although fully clothed- started pulling up rocks from the bottom and adding them to to lip of the pool to get it deeper.

The sun hadn’t fought its way to the middle of the sky yet and so mosquitoes found us in the shade. As excited explorers to a new land, it was a hard call, but a decision was made to return in the heat of the day. (We had 41*c today and we live up in Northern BC! Apparently a record for our town!)

We excitedly returned with a floaty in hand and we’re exceedingly pleased the water could push you through the tunnel- our very own tube slide!

We worked away at the boulders in our pool till it was mostly sand and small stones.

Although, sadly my youngest found a large sedimentary rock… with his leg. Once the bleeding stopped he was satisfied with his survival, abandoned the tears and went back to playing. And the team removed the large obtrusive rock.

I had brought a good book- but never got to it. Because it’s not every hot summers day that you find yourself transported though a tunnel into the wilds of the Amazon.

Wildflowers

It was sad a couple years ago when they logged behind our property. But I remember when the first spring came and all the destruction was buried beneath a blanket of wild flowers and lush grasses. It screamed hope. That God’s beauty cannot be tamed.

Well this year it’s grown up even more. And today, after pausing on the house work, and shooing the kids out the door, we discovered they were back!

Strawberries hid among the flowers. Thimble berry flowers stretched for the sun promising juicy fruits to come.

You know what’s even better than being given a bouquet of flowers? (Which is pretty awesome don’t get me wrong)

Walking THROUGH a bouquet of flowers.

Being IN them.

I could cry just thinking of that feeling. Being surrounded by so many beautiful things!

The arrangements change every few feet so it’s hard to tire of their carefree beauty.

Elise tried to pick one of every kind on our walk. The boys even got excited hunting down ones she might have missed.

When they would call out “do you have this white one?”

She would look down at her blossoming handful painted with stokes of whites and say “which white one?! There are so many different kinds!”

We even found a little lady bug- who rode the bouncing bouquet like a rumbling chariot. And sadly took his leave a few stops before the destination of my garden.

I forgot all about my blasted cottonwood allergies and grew excited about my new freedom from pollen- thanks to local honey. I waded through a cosmos of flowers and let Elise know her bouquet could go “inside” when we get home.

I even sang a little song as we strolled along. About my daughter, the flower maiden, being called by the wildflowers irresistible beauty with itching fingers. But although I sung it over and over- for the life of me I can’t remember the little verses.

Sometimes moments have songs. I suppose that was one of them.

Manicured beauty draws my attention- but wild natures raw beauty leaves me in raptures.

I love how God didn’t choose one kind of wild flower to paint the fallen forest with. Or even a few. But seemingly endless amounts. He’s really quite the florist! What he does with those weeds? Ummmm hmmm. He good.

And so if the great florist spends such thought on little weeds- don’t you think he spends a great deal more on you?

It’s true.

I often feel like when life piles up, or gets all crazy like my fridge art (I got four artists)- being in nature’s where I feel like what matters surfaces. And I feel gratitude eek out of me.

I love that old saying, “stop and smell the roses”.

Today just happened to be wild ones.

Life’s Adventurous Package

Most amazing stories in life come as a package. The amazing bits are highlighted and brought forth with fondness. But in actuality there were tough bits, gloomy details, or annoying segments weaving through out the perfect memory. Which often can be forgotten in the re-telling of the tale.

Or, in some cases, the tale is epic by such bits. The tale is MADE by all that went wrong. And it’s brought forth dazzling and adventurous – when at the time it felt everything but!

(Like the time my toddler ate poop on a fork, you can read about it Here.)

But this isn’t that type of tale.

Todays was a well mixed package. Like a salad that has extra tasty toppings that out-way the sharp tangy leaves.

We went wheeling as a family.

Six people squished into a old Toyota cab, with leftover pizza and a bag of hot dogs and buns. We left early in the morning, returning at bed time from our day in the great bug infested wilds of the North.

Sure a kid got motion sick and puked. Then sulked. Kids teased and poked when they were left in their seats for too long. The mosquitoes bit in places they should be ashamed seeing. And although it was crazy hot, you had to keep your body fully clothed from the flying razors with visitor appetites.

But it was adventurous!

We experienced the day in ways we never could at home.

We saw rivers, tumbling water, clear brooks, meadows, vibrant hill sides, rock faces, old cabins, and wild flowers.

We saw a black bear, and two cinnamon coloured bears; one ambling along in a meadow munching contently. Pelicans glistening in the sunlight circling over a lake. A moose out for a stroll, and a rabbit in a rush.

The boys played in a stream, and my daughter wove vines into crowns and decorative waist belts.

We met and visited old friends and new on the trail. Helped drag people out of mud holes and up hills. We got two tire punctures, but they were quickly plugged.

I thought I forgot my water bottle at home (it rolled out from under my seat as a pleasant surprise later), but remembered we had a “life straw” in the glove box. I managed to navigate around mud pits to get to a clear stream- and filled up my tea mug. Then with much initial slurping- was drinking cool refreshing mountain runoff from the straw. And of course, the kids all wanted a turn.

The air?

Might have hummed,

but it still smelled of pine needles, dusty roads, dew, sunshine, moss… and well, ADVENTURE.

We may have been all squished shoulder to shoulder in the cab of the truck most the day. But Si fell asleep against my shoulder. And we we’re TOGETHER for the day. As my kids get older I see how this might be a rarer thing. So I don’t want to take it for granted.

I used to imagine adventure as something it isn’t. But am realizing over the years – it’s a package. Of ups and downs woven together in a tale that started off as unknown, and became a story brightly woven into the tapestry of life.

A day of choosing to not stay with safe and comfortable. Choosing to just go with it, let God be the weaver, and enjoy a day of

different.

Masterpiece to Crumbs and Bellies Full

Because of the holidays, and a good book I got sucked into- Ive kinda been a lazy butt the last couple of days. Around 3:30 yesterday I felt “weird”. I needed to do something productive. And I still had all that turkey from Christmas to use up. So I actually thought of dinner BEFORE everyone was hungry 😂 which rarely happens around here.

I usually wait till little people are surrounding me. I tell them “no you can’t have snacks- it’s just about dinner.”

Even when I still haven’t thought of what I’m making.

My oldest has figured me out though. If I say we’re about to have dinner, but don’t have things on the stove (and if he’s really hungry) he takes action.

“I’ll help” he’ll say.

If I look like I’m drifting off to my land ‘Bustling Thoughts’ he might suggest ideas. If I don’t return to the problem at hand- dinner- he’ll start making chili or pancakes.

But yesterday my 12 year old was out playing in the snow with my other kids and the neighbour boy.

And I was ready to create.

This occasionally happens in the afternoon, but nearly always results in baking. We were, however, gloriously blessed this Christmas with more baking than ever before and still have plenty! (I think baking is a comfort thing. I get that. Things are kinda crazy in the world right now- let’s bake. Oh look Christmas is coming- let’s bake more and share 💕).

So if you can’t make REAL pie, you make dinner pie right?

I was so on top of thinking of dinner early, I even had enough time to raise dough in the bread machine for dinner buns. Because soft carbs, go really well with crunchy carbs holding gravy things.

Random note, I love exchanging a cup of flour for chickpea flour, gives a little nutty flavour and makes them so golden!

Do you know why people take pictures of food?

Because it looks so good? Well, Yes.

Because they want others to want it? K, probably… mostly likely- Yes.

Or maybe it’s cause they created it and took a great deal of time making it. And unlike art or woodwork, or other creative hobbies they are proud of-

It’s completely devoured never to be seen again, like

ONE

HOUR

LATER.

It probably won’t even be remembered! Except perhaps by a later burp.

I’m a mother, I totally understand the REASON for dinners is for keeping the most precious treasures in my life alive, well and with happy bellies. That is my greatest reward. And I’m so blessed so live with the resources and time to do this.

But the artsy side of me, is also happy I can snap a picture to remember a great creation by. Cause they aren’t everyday. And sometimes dinner specials give me the same thrill as seeing what came from my pen on paper.

So cheers to your great dinners friends!

And cheers to all the survival dinners! Read about my Dinners of shame 😜🙃

And next time you create in the kitchen, don’t feel bad about taking a picture. Sometimes I save them for myself to remind me of what I can do… when I get stuck in bunk and can’t see beyond spaghetti or chili.

Cheers to you all! Hope your all enjoying your holidays, and have full bellies. Oh man are we blessed!

The Sun Still Rises in Winter

Winter came early this year. We had snow in October! Winter can feel like a vortex sucking me down, and a continuous struggle to keep my head above the current. It’s extra long here up North. 6 months plus. And there’s no escaping it.

Some days I feel like my cat… a tad desperate for winters long days to be over and things to warm up.

Hello? Anybody??

But just when I feel like I can’t bare it a moment longer, the sun glows behind the tree line early in the morning with promises of a glorious bright day.

I’m writing a piano piece that fills me with hope and warmth. I can get lost in the notes as they carry me along, like a ride, and bring me places I cannot go. As I was playing the other day the words “The sun still comes up in winter, the sun still rises in the cold” burst out of the notes pressed down on ivory keys. And I knew it’s true. I love the sun. When the sun touches my face I know without a doubt God is so immeasurably good, and this life (even in the cold) is a precious gift. Filled with beauty and purpose, and beating to the pulse of God’s great love.

Sometimes my feelings need to shut up, and move over for what I know.

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.

~Lamentations 3:21-24

Laundering to the Beat

My laundry machine is on strike. Again.

Too much abuse. Not enough daily appreciation. Long unpredictable hours. Demands not in her contract…. mechanics clothing, mud clad children- or at least their attire- and good old sneaky chicken poop.

She’s been complaining for months. With a high pitched wailing and clattering like she swallowed a fleet of knights. But we already gave her a door-lock replacement a while back, and she was still trudging along, so I simply closed the laundryroom door on her loud complaints. And mentioned it to my hubby.

Sometimes random visitors, or even concerned kids would question the sounds coming from behind the closed laundry-room door. But no one truly cared THAT deeply for her well being to investigate. I occasionally feared she might give me another scare like last time. But when she keeps doin her job, you push on.

Committed, I even put up with the occasional shirt she chews on spiteful days.

Like strikes of old, however, although targeted at the adults, the children often suffer.

Lack of underwear is a grievous matter. Wearing your siblings extras? Well, they were more gracious than expected.

But the real turn of events was the children’s attitudes with hand washing a load this week.

They were estatic!

I was trying to be the voice of reason, but sounded more like Debbie Downer, trying to enlighten them that this looses its fun really fast.

They could not be swayed.

Wash cycle

They even brought out a drum to slosh around to the beat. They sung and marched about in great pleasure. Eagerly awaiting their turn to jump in the soapy bucket.

Turning over the load in a rinse cycle

We did a couple rinse cycles in the Rubbermaid bin before we thought of a way we could rinse and drain at the same time.

Rinse and spin

The trampoline.

Turns out, knee drops work swell for beating the water out of the clothes as well, so that we didn’t have to wring them. They were so into it- I left them to it. And went and napped.

Just like that the clothes were ready for the dryer. The kids wanted to string them up in the yard to be finished off in the sunshine. But I figured the pounded clothes could use some fluffing after all that tromping, and we don’t have a line anyways. Furthermore, let’s not give the dryer too much idle time or she might get ideas from that naughty washer.

The kids haven’t had to borrow each-others undies for a while, and with their joyous help I think we will make it through this washer strike. At least till she gets what she wants. Then I’ll be more than happy to give her her job back and some lovely words.

It’s so easy for me to let life’s little inconveniences trouble me and let the grumbles come. But I think God cares enough about my character to give me opportunities to learn valuable lessons. Like maybe to be more like the kids with a joyous attitude to do what needs to be done. And perhaps to see more troubles as adventures and reasons to be creative.

And to season my days with a healthy heap of gratitude.

After all, sometimes you don’t know what you got- till it’s gone.

And Then it Grew

I feel like gardening is an act of faith. You plant in the damp ground with visions of what’s to come. You water, weed, tend, pest control, tie up, prune and thin with hope. Nothing is certain. It might not even sprout out of the ground. It feels like there is no point along the way you can be completely sure your garden will thrive. You are banking on hope and doing all you can to help it along its way. But who stops the heat? And the smoke filled summers? Who brings the rains? Who tells the rains when their job is done? Who holds back the hail, or let’s it thunder down from the sky? Who made the critters that devour in the night? Or brings new flowers and branches? Breezes to blow the pollens and pollinate the yellow petals? Who pulls back the clouds to let the sun in and warm the earth? Calls to the bees and nudges the earth worms?

No it’s isnt I

It is not this gardener.

It’s my creator God, The great gardener. Who makes all things and brings them to being. Who puts the desire inside me to see things grow.

And its him that gives me fellow gardening friends who know what plants need.

Year after year I struggled to make my little plot grow. Soil deficiency. Smokey summer. Too dry. Water softener hard on plants. Not enough sun. Not enough compost. Too much nitrogen. Insects. Straw? Wood chips? Magnesium? More bananas! Too much coffee. Layer method? Ack! So many roots. Crappy seeds. Wrong watering time of day. Too long of watering time, or not enough. Death to gardener by mosquitoes…

I learnt so much along the way tho. Every person who had a garden that grew something- I was asking questions.

Their advice, complied with trial and error, and google searches- I learnt things.

Like how to high heat compost my chicken manure and straw. (My parents always seemed to visit during muck-out-the-winters-worth-of poop-from-the-coop week, and at least acted like it was fun 😜). I tarped and forked over those piles weekly. Sam detached the outside tap from our water softener. I pruned back tree branches. (And loggers did big pruning in the forest behind us.) Bought quality seeds. Let the kids patiently sew the seeds. Waited till just before June. Was given a row cover (made by my kids for my birthday). And took advice and rototilled the mass compost piles into the soil- cutting roots and getting the goodness WAY down.

Every year Sam kept encouraging me to keep trying with gardening. Telling me one year I’d get it.

I kept asking friends for tips and trying.

And with the help of many, the faith of my hubby, and the Lords graciousness, and a sprinkling of hope-

My garden grew.

This was the year.

And I’m stinkin greatful.

So if your caught in a yearly struggle, don’t loose hope. Learning, listening, and leaning on the Lord- is never a waste of time.

And a big thanks to all my gardener friends 😘

The Stare

I recently read the question “how do you conserve energy?”

And do you know what instantly came to mind?

I stare.

At nothing.

Call it into space if you must. I just zone out and although my eyes are open, I’m not seeing anything. It’s a perfect hazy blur. Half the time Im not actually even thinking of anything. I’m just checking out for a bit. Conserving energy I suppose.

It never lasts long. There is always a hubby waving from the other end of the table, people asking “what are you looking at?” Or kids saying “MMMMMUuuuuummmmm!” That requires the entrance into reality. And the trance is broken. Once it took the whole science class in middle school laughing. They were laughing at my science teacher who… was making fun of me. He was making drooling sounds staring at the ceiling with his hands squishing his cheeks up to his eyes. Mimicking, well…. did I really look like THAT?Had he called my name?

It really sucks when my body goes into conservation mode when someone is delivering information to me. I then spend the later half of the talk playing detective, trying to figure out what the heck I missed without revealing my time laps. Does paying double attention to the end make up for the lack at the beginning?

All this being said, I’m pretty sure the question was referring to how often I turn out my homes lights, or skip bathing my children. But I went ahead and told you I’m like an electric car who randomly preforms in power saving mode. Surely I’m not the only one?

How many of you get caught staring off into space, I mean, kicked into energy preservation?

Pshhh you probably do something weirder.

And if you must know, I save significant amounts of energy being my homes door Natzi.

“Shut that DOOR!”

Children quake. The earth sighs.

Just doing my part.

Hope

You know what I’m thankful for right now? The hope of spring, pushing through the ice and snow. So much of the world seems to be at a halt, so uncertain right now. But I look at Spring and am filled with hope. It keeps coming. And even when it snowed only a couple days ago, (March!) Spring still fought back. The sun awakens our days, and winter melts away in steady drips. The warm wind whisks away droplets, and the ground makes more and more appearances.

When I’m outside I remember how big God is. How faithful He is. How good. That I can place my hand in his hand and know He’s got this. I’m living in His boundless love. Nothing in this world can separate me from this love. Not even death. No I am never alone, I’m forever His ♥️

Jesus is my assured Hope.

Even in life’s uncertainties. He’s my rock.

This area you see (in the pictures) where we’re walking, used to be a forest we would adventure in behind our house. We spent years learning the trails and enjoying our adventures in the woods. I cried ugly broken hearted tears when we were told it was going to be logged. I couldn’t see our lives ever being as good. They would be drastically changed. The sound of equipment sawing down the woods this fall was heart wrenching and we felt so powerless. But we prayed some trees would be spared. And clung to hope.

They so far have kept these trees that line one of our favourite places. We are SO grateful!

Then the children and I started looking for new beauty.

We saw the sun shines brighter in the mornings now without as many trees. We get to see beautiful sun rises. We’re able to walk into more areas that were too thick to get into before. Winters deep snow didn’t keep us out of the forest this year, as we were able to walk along the logging trucks packed paths. There are views stretching to the river. We saw so many animal tracks more visible not under brush. Fallen trees and logs became playgrounds to climb on. The place smells better then a million pine air fresheners. We found clay! And now there’s puddles the size of small lakes that call to the boys with an irresistible voice.

When you live where you get a lot of snow- you get really big puddles!

The adventures are endless. Just different.

Don’t forget about hope.

Even when things in the world look dismal, and bleak. When statistics, trajectories, media, politicians and theories seem to scream all kinds of fear full things. “Doomed! Doomed!”

Remember God. Remember hope that can flip the seemingly inevitable. That God can do the impossible- and loves you!

Remember spring faithfully comes every year, and the creator of the seasons is just as faithful.

My bucket of love

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

Good Bacteria?

That’s right, I’m gonna talk about bacteria. Unlike the ones the world at present is madly trying to kill with hand sanitizer, wipes and washing your hands. But about GOOD bacteria. Think of it as like some distant cousin…. but very much still family. Only using its powers of take-over for good. The warrior ninja who hugs.

Yogurt.

Milk meets friendly bacteria, Lactic Acid, whom feeds on the lactose sugar in milk. And the beautiful result- Thick white creamy spoonfuls of wonder. Yogurt.

So I figure, now with more home time for many of you with a world virus going on- what better time to learn how to make your own friendly bacteria- yogurt? You will also be helping your immune system, as yogurt is so good for you! There are MANY benefits, but one is when you have good gut flora it can help you fight off bad bacteria and make your illness go quicker.

Reason number 2….. it’s way cheaper to make it yourself. It only costs me $5.12 for milk that makes 4 yogurt containers 1kg each.

I freeze the two little ones for starter for my next batch

Reason number 3, the kids love it more! I make mine not as sour, but you can adjust its sourness by how long you leave it incubating. Look here’s my kids having it as an outdoor snack with no sweetener- only bananas!

So one of my biggest hurdles of getting behind making yogurt was that I’m a one pot kind of girl. I talk about my efficiency problems in All About Beans …. but basically I’m looking to shorten as many steps as I can, and getting-er done. So here’s how you do that.

These are the things you will need.

  • 3.25% 4L Milk (Homogenized)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (first time you will need to buy some, I used Astro Balkan style)
  • Large pot with thick bottom to it
  • Towel
  • Cookie Tray
  • Food Thermometer (I use my meat one)
  • Ladle
  • Spatula

Homemade Yogurt

  1. Take out your 1 cup of yogurt so it’s at room temp for when you use it later.
  2. Pour all your milk into the big pot on the stove at medium heat. Stir with spatula every now and then till the temperature of the milk reaches 180*F (do not skip this step).
  3. Then with the lid off, transfer pot to a sink with cold water in it. Stir the water around the pot to cool the milk. Stir the milk in the pot till it reaches 110*F- then quickly take it out. The temp drops way faster than heating it up- so pay attention!
  4. Flick your oven on for a couple mins just so it’s not cold.
  5. Ladle some of the milk out of the pot into your 1 cup of yogurt and mix them together. Then pour the mixture back into your pot of milk adding them together.
  6. Don’t stir the milk in circles. You want to mix them together with back and forth movements with your spatula. But don’t take too long, you don’t want your temp to drop below 105*F.
  7. Put the lid on. Wrap with a towel and place on a cookie tray.
  8. Slide tray in warmed oven. You can turn your oven light on if you wish. I’ve done both and found no difference.
  9. Put a note over your oven ON or BAKE button that there is yogurt in there! And wait 8 hrs. (More if you want it sourer)
  10. Take it out after 8hrs and see if it’s thick! There might be a tiny bit of whey. Don’t mix it, throw it in the fridge to cool. Then take it out cooled, ladle it into jars and enjoy!

It should be creamy and thick. If it’s not however, you could strain it in a colander with a cotton sheet square (my version of cheese cloth) in the bottom. Who knows, you might nail it the next batch😉

If you want to up the probiotics in your yogurt, you can empty a probiotic capsule and mix it in with your yogurt starter in step 4. I found this made my yogurt even thicker!

The reason the tray and the note are a good idea: No matter how much you think you will not forget that yogurt setting in the oven, one day you just might. It happened to me 😬 My hubby offered to grab my daughter from her gymnastics class and I ended up with an extra half hour before dinner. What could go better with my stove top soup but hot fresh scones? I cranked the oven to 425*F. It’s only by the grace of God and his kindness to my scattered Mom brain that I didn’t cause an oven fire. I think the oven was on for 10mins before I remembered. The tray worked as a barrier and kept the towel from flaming. The towel has a dark pot size circle to it now. Anyways, I never left myself a note because my day was going to have been too busy for baking. Just goes to show your day can change- leave a note!

Yogurt is one of those things that’s simple, but ohh so good. I find in the last few weeks of crazy (with the Corona virus) God has been reminding me to look not at the seemingly gigantic problems, but at the simple good things all around me. That when I feel my boat is being rocked, to stop looking at the waves and the storm… but realized who’s in the boat with me- Jesus. It’s so easy for me to let my eyes drift back to those waves, but I can find peace if I only keep my eyes on Him. His love never changes, He is my steadfast.

So don’t get so wrapped up in killing bad bacteria, you forget about the good 😉 And go on and try making your own.