Now for More Me

I started this blog with the intent of sharing the ways I attempt to live a more slow and simple life.  I was making huge changes in my life by way of clean eating, exercising, mindful parenting and the like, and I was passionate about it all.  I wanted to share all.the.things.  Yet somewhere along the way life ebbed and flowed, I felt less passionate, less inspired to share and less desire to write.

That brings us here, to right now.

I’ve had a blog for YEARS – I started one in high school as a project in either 2001 or 2002.  I continued blogging on and off but this blog is the first blog I’ve had that was supposed to be intentional with it’s content.  When I started it I dreamt of having a calendar full of ideas, generating content and “making it big” in the blog world.  Obviously none of that has happened!  I’m actually continually surprised by the little bit of traffic I get considering how lack-lustre my efforts have been in recent years.

Here’s what I’m beginning to understand about myself:

  1. Writing is something I love to do.  It’s therapeutic and necessary for my own internal processing.
  2. I really don’t do well with constraints, limitations, expectations etc. in writing but more so just generally in life. When I write I want the freedom to write whatever flows out of my fingertips.

So it is with all of this I come today to say – I’m going to write whatever and whenever I feel like it.  I’m not going to limit myself to “simple living” and I’m not going to be paralyzed by the completely made up need for a content calendar.  I’ve never been good at being anyone but myself and I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to realize this.

With the amount of time I have on my hands I think I’ll be here more often – but again I’m not going to promise or commit to anything at all!

I hope you are all having an amazing weekend, I look forward to more sharing of ideas and stories in the near future!

Ciao!

Lemon Cake

My husband has recently become obsessed with baked good, specifically baked goods that he grew up eating in Guinea-Bissau.  He’s constantly looking up recipes and sending them to me – he’s the chef, I’m the baker haha.  This specific cake he wanted a lemon flavour and I got the idea to use some lemon oil and the results were phenomenal.  This cake doesn’t NEED the oil but if you have it you should definitely use it because it takes it from good to amazing!  Let me know if you try it!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
2 Eggs
1 cup sugar (feel free to decrease this, it’s quite sweet)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 drops Young Living lemon essential oil
Zest of one lemon
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda

Directions
1. Prepare a cake pan (we used a fluted tube cake pan) with oil and dusted with flour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat eggs and sugar for 3 minutes.
3. Add oil, yogurt, essential oil and zest and mix until incorporated
4. Sift flour and baking soda into mixture and mix with wooden spoon until incorporated.
5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Enjoy!

Notes:
I like to double this recipe and love it with some whipped cream!

One Little Word 2019

It’s that time again!

I was finding it really difficult to think about what word I was going to pick for 2019.  The obvious one would have been something related to health but honestly I’m ready to not have 100% of my life focused on my health.  Of course that’s always something that’s on my mind but 2018 was bombarded with it and it’s just enough, you know?

The last couple months I’ve been acutely aware of something I struggle with.  It’s not something I’ve ever pinpointed as a weakness in my life previous to the past couple months.  I struggle with committing to and finishing things.  It’s typical of me to start something really strong and passionately and it’s uncommon for that commitment to last any large length of time.  It’s beginning to be something that I lament and wish was different.

So.

2019 is the year to COMMIT.

When I am about to embark on something – whatever it may be – I will be committing to see it to completion or commit to a specific length of time depending on the situation.  Of course, as is the case every year with my One Little Word this will take on it’s own life but I look forward to seeing where it will take me.  I am looking forward to the growth I’ll experience and the further insight into my inner workings.

On top of my One Little Word I’ve come up with a “Bucket List” of goals for the year.  Today as I was driving home from an appointment I began to feel the pressure of a New Year.  Being on social media there are a plethora of posts all about goals, resolutions, and hopes for the new year and all of them great.  I tend to feel pulled to include everyone else’s goals in my goals because of course they seem like great ideas! However, I realized today that just because a goal is a good thing for someone doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for me in this moment.  So, instead of adding to my list today like I was tempted to I left my list as it was last week when I wrote it.  I’m going to enter 2019 with an overall intention to be the best I can be each day.

So with my One Little Word of COMMIT and my intention to be the best me I also hope to check each of these things off my list:

  • Invest in hobbies – don’t be afraid to spend money on a hobby.
  • Learn two new skills/hobbies – hoping for it to be sewing and pottery.
  • Show gratitude and be generous in everything – keeping with my hope to be abundant minded.
  • Invest in relationships – put myself out there instead of shy away from the commitment.
  • Go away on a date weekend at least once – I hope twice.
  • Do more exploring with the kids – mountains will be visited more often.
  • Read a book a month – starting with Educated by Tara Westover.
  • Transition to mostly plant based – been feeling this shift for the last 4-5 months.
  • Invest in clothes – I have two pairs of jeans, a handful of layering tanks, a couple sweaters and that’s basically it apart from my pyjamas and sweats.  It’s time to make this change.  It will be largely ethically made or homemade clothing and I’m going to be checking off this list:
    • 2 Jeans
    • 2 Lounge pants
    • 5 Tanks
    • 2 Blouses
    • 2 Casual Shirts
    • 2 Long Sleeves
    • 2 Sweaters
    • Undergarments
    • 1 pair of runners
    • 1 pair of sneakers
    • 1 pair of Birkenstocks
    • 1 pair of Rainboots
    • 1 pair of Winter boots
    • 1 pair of dressier shoes – I hope Poppy Barley
  • Do one self care act a month – could be something I spend money on or could just be an afternoon away from the kids.

That’s it.  I feel like I’m keeping it fairly simple and attainable – maybe I’m getting the hang of this!

Happy New  Year friends.  I pray that 2019 is everything you need it to be.  If you are using a word or setting resolutions or goals I would love to hear them!

2018 Reflection

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Well it’s been a minute or two since I’ve been here.  I only wrote 7 blog posts in 2018 and truthfully I wanted so badly to write more but my capacity to do so was just not there.  I needed to step away from constant evaluation, my brain was (is) in such a fog that processing life was incredibly difficult.  I couldn’t make sense of my current life, my day in and day out.  I lived in a dichotomy of hating not being able to work but also feeling very blessed to be with my babies day in and day out.

The pain I now live with is unlike anything I’ve experienced.  Not too long ago I was claiming that I could deal with chronic pain, that it didn’t change my life or what I was able to do and accomplish.  I’ve had pain as long as I can remember and it was true that it didn’t greatly impact my life.  This new pain though, it’s stronger, more intense and greatly impacts my life.  I’ve been humbled and have gained a new perspective and compassion for those of us living with invisible illnesses.  The pain definitely seemed to take over my year and if I allow it it could steal the blessings and joy that 2018 also brought.

I’m not about to let that happen.  So here’s what 2018 brought into my life that was amazing. I’ve been able to watch my toddler grow and develop, I’ve been able to be by her side and she hasn’t had to deal with as much separation anxiety as she would have.  She is highly attached and us being together has made her year much more comforting.  She’s growing into such an amazing and hilarious little girl and it’s been such a privilege and blessing to watch that happen so closely.  I’ve also watched my five year old learn and explore and imagine and create and have been astounded at his capacity to learn and his passion for learning.  We’ve embarked on homeschooling and I’d be lying if I told you it went amazing, we are still learning our rhythm and figuring it out but it’s definitely been a blessing.  I’ve learned to live in the moment, to adapt my need for control, to trust in the One who holds me close, to live despite challenges, to dream bigger, to crush fears, to pursue the life I desire, to accept help, to lean on others, to be humbled, to slow down.

My one little word was ABUNDANCE and 2018 did not bring much of the ABUNDANCE I was hoping for but it did bring an ABUNDANCE of blessings in the midst of challenges.  When I re-read my One Little Word post for 2018 I still resonate with everything I wrote. This year was the first year I continually had my word in the back of my head, I thought of it often but was usually sad at the thought of it.  Perhaps I am a step closer to where I wished I would be, though I haven’t even come close to that place.  I am still learning to let go of my poverty mindset, to switch my thinking but I do think that 2018 helped on that journey.  It’s a lifelong journey, not one I imagine I will actually arrive at but it’s time for a new word and time to focus on a new journey.

In The Garden

I’ve been meaning to do a garden post for a while.  Of course I get inspiration at ten o’clock at night when I should be sleeping! I’ve been solo parenting for a week (my husband got a job! [YAY] but it’s in a different province [not yay]) and honestly I’m completely and utterly exhausted by the end of each day but also love the quiet solitude of the evening and I always find that I want to relish this time when no one needs me and I can do whatever I please.  So here I am organizing photos and writing a blog post.

This start of this years gardening season has been amazing.  It’s been full and busy and wonderful.  I hurt my back at the end of April which has prevented me from working but it’s also given me ample time to do little bits of gardening here and there.  Thankfully my husband did the majority of the physical labor before he left – filling the beds, emptying our failed compost, building a new flower bed.  I’ve been planting seeds, tending to seedlings, potting up and planning, planning, planning.

I started planning in February (separate post on that coming!) and then started planting the end of February with the peppers and tomatoes.  I didn’t order/buy any new pepper or tomato seeds the year.

This year I decided to grow a lot of leafy greens and brassica’s in hopes that I can try my hand at some fermentation.  So in April I started all the mustards, kales, cabbages, pac choi’s, and bok choi’s, as well as the lettuce that I hope to grow as head lettuce.  I also am trying my hand at growing more flowers than in previous years.  I’ve started snapdragons, sweet peas and marigolds.  The marigold’s will be scattered throughout the gardens as a form of pest control, the sweet peas will be planted in the new flower garden that is against the greenhouse.  I’m hoping to be able to grow a shade wall!

In May I’ve basically started and planted everything else! I started some pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, watermelon, scallopini, and cucumbers.  I started them in solo cups because I’ve read they don’t like to be moved or root bound so I’m hoping this does the trick.  I also started some herbs, which I probably should have started earlier, basil, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, oregano – that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.

The last few days I’ve direct sowed almost everything else that we will be growing, aside from the beets which I’ll plant next week and some edible flowers which will be scattered around all the seedlings once they are transplanted this week.  The seeds direct sown – cilantro (between tomatoes and peppers), mixed edible flowers (between peppers and rest of garden), radishes (3 varieties including daikons), and zucchini in the large garden.  Carrots, spinach and arugula in the deck garden.  Peas, beans, and some lettuce in one of Ezekiel’s gardens and in the other morning glory, calendula, viola and bachelor button.  In the greenhouse shadewall garden Ezekiel and I planted morning glories and scarlet runner beans.  I decided to try out some garlic this year as well and planted some in the tomato grow bag.  Finally – where the compost pile used to be I decided to block off a small garden which will just be planted in ground.  I planted potatoes there today and will add garlic as well as marigolds.  I’ve started hardening most of the seedlings off and will start planting the gardens this week – I think it will take a while with my back the way it is but slow and steady wins the race!

Whew! Just writing that all out makes me realize just how much work has already been done! It’s amazing that none of it really feels like work.  This year gardening has been so good, with a 4 yr old helping along the way, bursting with excitement at every little change in the plants, and every worm and bee he sees, having a toddler running around my feet has been a joy as well.  I love to watch Eden as she explores the outdoors and learns what’s ok to play with/touch and what’s not.

Finally (thanks for getting this far!), this year I’m doing a new form of documenting over on Instagram which I’m really excited about.  I’ve been taking weekly pictures from the same spots, as well as weekly video walk throughs which I share in my stories and then save in highlights.  I can’t wait until the end of the season to watch the transformation in full.  I’ll share those pictures here as well for those of you who don’t obsess over Instagram like me :).  I’ll catch you up now and then hopefully be able to share them weekly!

April 29

May 6

May 12

May 20

There you have it! Until next week friends! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you are growing!

Spring has Sprung

Ah, can you tell I’m back to work? The silence here is telling of life these days.

Stress, worry, stress, and worry.

When that happens I retreat into a shell, only tackling what absolutely must be done (and cleaning, always cleaning because that I CAN control).

With the longest winter ever, returning back to work, figuring out child care, a jobless and very stressed husband, [trying] to pay bills and buy groceries, health problem after health problem for each member of our family, and a baby who is having separation anxiety I have been dealing with my own mental health.  For a while there I was scared that I was actually starting to truly be depressed.  I noticed the signs of anxiety, the feelings of hopelessness and loss of control, the inability to control my thought processes.  There were several times I thought about making a doctors appointment – our physician is a strong advocate for mental health and screens for it with every visit, sometimes discreetly and other times bluntly but I have ALWAYS appreciated that.  With every snowfall I felt the pressure more and more, and I began to understand why many people struggle in the winter months.  I also began to understand why it’s important to get outside, stay active, and eat healthy in every season – something I DID NOT do this winter.

Anyways, with the much anticipated change in weather I feel the fog lifting, the anxiety dissipating, and my thoughts focused less on the negatives and much more on the positives.  With the changes in my mental clarity I am also beginning to make and implement plans to get healthier because that is also something I can control.

Frankly I’ve been wondering if this day would come again, I’ve thought about it often. About how my desire and passion for healthy living was put to the side as I dealt with a very difficult 1.5-2 years of health issues and then a complicated pregnancy and finally the recovery from that pregnancy and [ungraceful] transition to a mother of two.  Even my love of cooking had faded and I really only cooked out of necessity.  I still tried to eat balanced and definitely stuck to my convictions with feeding my children.  We still mainly eat fresh food but our budget has shrunk drastically and so the quality of food we can afford has also suffered as a result.  Since I have such strong feelings about food I have really struggled to want to cook or eat the food we can afford to buy.  I realize that fresh is always better than processed but it’s still been a significant struggle for me and has had a huge impact on my motivation to live a healthier lifestyle.

Having said all that, I feel as though I am finally in a place that I can start to make some small changes for my health.  I’m not making any grande plans that will be hard to keep with but something I do want to eventually end up doing is following the Autoimmune Protocol.  I don’t think I can implement it all in one shot but I am going to try and implement it little by little.  I also hope to get more active – walk A LOT, stretch and maybe get some other simple strengthening exercises in.  I’m at a disadvantage right now because I’m having some major back issues but hopefully it all clears up quickly and doesn’t affect me long term so I can get going! Something else I need to get back to doing is seeing my chiropractor – I was lucky enough to find an incredible chiropractor before getting pregnant with Eden but with such a hard pregnancy and very limited finances I had to stop going but I know I need to start up again soon.

You also know that gardening season has begun and so that is a major source of mental health for me and I’m so excited for this years garden.  I’ll be sure to post about it often!

Did you struggle this winter? Give me some simple healthy changes you think I should be implementing! I’m all ears!

Abundant Living

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying about living abundantly.  If you’ve been here for a bit you’ll know that my One Little Word for 2018 is Abundance and that it’s less about having MORE and actually about appreciating what we already have.  It’s less about the physical and more about my mindset.  A couple weeks ago as I was praying through this I had such a clear message placed on my heart, I wrote it out on a piece of paper and left it to resonate for a while and I think it’s time to share it here.  I pray that it blesses you.

In times of hardship we tend to just “survive” to just “get by.”  We don’t live our best life and feel as though that’s an impossibility, we feel trapped because our circumstance is unable to change and so we accept defeat.  In our acceptance we probably make poor choices which don’t line up with how we “wish” our lives could be.

I’m using “we” here very lightly – maybe you can’t relate to this at all and I’m sorry if I’m clumped you into what’s actually my own reality or I guess what WAS my reality.

I spent the last 3 years in a poverty mindset.  I was working as hard as I possibly could just to keep our heads above water financially and because I was just barely making it work I thought we were poor.  That mindset that was initially only applied financially eventually trickled into all the areas of my life.  I came out on the other side quite literally broken thinking there was no other option and that it was just an inevitable consequence of my circumstance.  My question after reflection is: what if there was another option?  What if changing my mindset from thinking we were poor to thinking we had everything we needed could have changed the outcome?

Is it possible to be living a seemingly unbalanced life and still thrive rather than just survive? When our circumstances are not what we had hoped can we change our mindset to accept them and learn to live well within them?  Can we dig deep, work hard and get to the other side stronger, healthier and happier rather than beaten, broken and barely alive?

If we can (I really think we can!) what is the formula?

While I don’t pretend to think I have this all figured out, there are some things I think will definitely help.  These are things I’m going to try my best to adopt into my life:

  • Daily “me time” of at least 30 minutes.
  • Daily prayer and surrender – acceptance of what is.
  • Compromise – we can’t do it all, pick your priorities and let the rest go.
  • Accept the sacrifice and know it’s temporary, stop feeling bitterness towards it.
  • Find a tribe, confide in them and accept help from them rather than isolating yourself.
  • Eat well, sleep well and make time for movement.
  • Use oils daily for emotional, mental and physical wellbeing (the Abundance oil pictured above has been very helpful!)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have anything to add to my “formula.”  This isn’t an easy journey to abundant living but I’m convinced it will be worth it times a thousand!