Wilderness Wednesday: Sunday Sunrise

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It’s not Wednesday anymore – I know! Sometimes our good intentions and well-laid plans fall to pieces, and we find ourselves at the end of the week, confused as to what just happened.

I had to stop and think about where the time flew…This week I inched along a highway in holiday traffic, I spent a lovely afternoon in a Victorian tea room with some fantastic women, I cooked and baked goodies for my family, and I just found out I have to pack most of my kitchen by Monday so it can be torn apart. I may have to borrow my friend’s kitchen! Now that I’m not working, eating out is a luxury! And I’ve started writing. Not here obviously, because it’s not Wednesday any more.

What started this week was a good thing too. Me, the person who would put “Mornings” on the “Top 10 list of things I hate” (alongside spiders and crumbs on the floor), crept from my bed at 7 a.m. last Sunday morning. I was up before anyone else, including the sun. I grabbed a hoodie, shoes and my camera and slipped out the front door. I put my shoes on outside so I wouldn’t wake Big Guy who was sleeping on the couch, and there was frost on that front  porch. In fact, everything was covered in frost and the thick grass was soggy. I could see my breath, even without my glasses, which were still inside.

The world was still rapt in silence.

Heavy mist veiled the coloured forest beyond the field, and the dampness crept around the edges of sweater and my bare legs (I was still in my nightshirt)! The skyline remained pale gold for a long time, so I wandered around the back. I startled a mourning dove resting in the tall grass, which made something in the trees scold me for waking it too early.October 3_ed

A single crow’s raspy voice blared like an alarm clock.

Ever so slowly, an almost imperceptible golden warmth begin to embrace the trees, creating the impression of trees on fire. My photos don’t begin to capture the contrast.

October 5_ed

My legs and toes were cold and my fingers were beginning to ache. I seriously considered going in, but hesitated, thankfully, long enough to see the sun break over the horizon. The higher it rose, the mist grew thicker and began to move.

October 4_ed

A few final snaps and it was all over. I sneaked back in the house and crawled into bed to shiver. My fingers were nearly frozen, but my soul was warm.

The soul that is within me, no man can degrade – Frederick Douglass

Happy Weekend!

What’s In My Cup: Baked Apple Chai

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Baked Apple Chai (formerly Spiced Apple) is potpourri for all the senses. It starts with the  aroma of rich spices long associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas: cinnamon, chicory, cardamom and star anise. It filled the kitchen where it was steeping, and it made my mouth water.

Star anise is often used as an exotic spice in Indian and Chinese cooking. It is rich in antioxidants, and vitamins A and C, all of which help with coughs and colds, and a number of digestive issues.

 The colour is a rich amber, like apple cider. The tea itself is quite chunky with dehydrated apple and figs, whole star anise, and cardamom pods. The flavour was sweet with deep tangy notes from the fruit, followed by the heat of cinnamon and clove, and the slightly bitter and herbaceous zing of the star anise.

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.
– Mother Theresa

This caffeine-free fruit infusion steeps for a minimum of 5 minutes in water that is 95C. If you tend to “eyeball” the amount of tea by judging the height of the leaves in your infuser, be generous. Since the tea is comprised of chunky pieces, it will fill the infuser quickly. I didn’t use enough at first and I was left with a weak apple tea with mild spice. Also, use an infuser that will allow the fruit to expand as it steeps in order to extract the most flavour! As with many teas that use cinnamon, you may have some residue settle at the bottom of your cup. I figure, that’s just part of the experience of loose tea.

Apple Chai-ed

Otherwise, this was a mildly spicy “hug in a mug”, perfect for a crisp Fall afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s In My Cup: S’mores Chai

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It’s the first Monday of October, and the next three Mondays will be all about chai. While we’ve still enjoyed some extremely hot, summer temperatures, there is a definite chill in the air. Perfect for evening campfires!

Marshmallows

S’morons…parents who get way too excited about making s’mores!

S’mores are gooey goodness – toasted marshmallow and chocolate smushed between two graham crackers – and reviews of David’s s’mores chai rave about a toasty, decadent fudgy flavour. Reviews also recommend this tea as an iced tea or latte. Maybe when it’s warmer…

David’s s’mores chai is a pu’erh tea, with a mixture of brittle hazelnut pieces, cinnamon, sugar, marshmallow, and chocolate chips. It has a medium caffeine rating. It should be steeped at just below boiling (95C), and I steeped it longer than the recommended 5 minutes.

I first tried this tea huddled up next to a campfire. Some would say that this tea doesn’t really qualify as chai. Normally, chai is a blend of tea leaves and spices, like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or peppercorns. Chai usually has some bite or heat to it. This tea only had cinnamon as its spice, so while it didn’t have a bite to it, the cinnamon was definitely present, providing a little heat to compliment the chocolate. It smells like graham crackers!  And while the texture was reminiscent of a thin hot chocolate, it was still a smooth, delicious, and warming evening treat. I expect it will also compliment long winter days with a good book and a warm a blanket, or a sensational snack after building a snowman!

Warm sweaters. Warm memories.
Hot dogs. Marshmallows. S’mores.

Smores chai

Thanks to Hubby for modeling for me, so I could work the camera and not spill my tea by  the fire!

Happy Monday!

 

Gaming for Seniors

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As a parent, I normally take great pride in my children’s accomplishments. I’m pretty sure it’s a written rule somewhere in The Parenting Handbook…which was buried centuries ago on Oak Island. But I’m competitive too, and that’s not always a good thing. Especially when those accomplishments overlap. I’m pretty sure there’s also something in that handbook about being a gracious loser, and I am. Or at least I try really hard to be. We all have our moments of parenting fails, and that’s when we have to admit our mistakes and trust our kids are gracious with us.

Don’t worry – I’m not writing about a parenting fail. At least, not right now.

It’s no secret I like video games. The obsession interest took shape just before Big Guy moved out. He got me hooked on Guitar Hero. And since his Xbox 360 went with him, he conspired with Hubby to give me my very own. I’ve wasted hours of my life since.

Unlike Little Guy, I’m not obsessed with earning all the trophies and racing through the levels. I try to enjoy the journey. Until I get stuck and force one of my kids to get me over the hump. I’ve helped them through a few too, but at an ever decreasing rate. Worse, I’m at a higher level than both of them, but can’t seem to kill it quite the same way. And the algorithm groups me with players who are levels below me.

It can be frustrating!

In the Summer, after a particularly brutal game of Monopoly, I felt conflicted, so I wrestled through this question: When did my kids get better at everything than me (leaving me feeling like a washed up loser who is ready to sit in a senior centre and weave baskets while singing Kum Ba Ya)?

An aging gamer, Theo Karasavvas described gaming in his younger days as “breathing…then all of a sudden, after thousands of hours spent playing across genres and platforms, boredom hit me hard for the first time”. He assumed he need only find a different game to stimulate his interest once again. He also blamed more responsibilities and stress in life for ruining his appetite. But is his reasoning completely accurate?

Sure, our appetites changes as we grow older, but (sometimes sadly) so do other things. Like our priorities, our sense of accomplishment changes too. High scores pale compared to a lower body mass index, especially as muffins tops sprout exponentially with every decade.

The desire to compete also decreases with age. The core gaming market targets 18-30 year olds. Many of the first-person shooter-style games, like my favorites, Halo & Overwatch, take time to develop skills. Older gamers simply don’t want to invest that amount of time, and prefer slower-paced, or solo games.

And who can forget that our bodies and brains are slowing down with every passing birthday! We tend to buy into the lie that we can’t keep up with our younger counterparts and our struggles become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Sometimes we can’t keep up, but gaming continue to have benefits as we age.  There are a number of reasons why I play video games. And as long as my kids don’t mind if I sometimes slow them down, I’m going to keep playing. This “senior gamer” prefers to call it – leveling up!


Happy weekend!

Beginning and Ending

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I have been thinking about endings and beginnings a lot lately over the past few years. More so in the last several months. Maybe that’s why I’ve been drawn to take more photos of sunsets and sunrises (although I’m rarely up in time see a sunrise). My heart has been drawn to the beauty of day’s ending, the rich colours painted across the sky, and the knowledge that after the dark, it will slowly grow light and the beginning will be just as beautiful as the ending had been.

Seasons are like that too. Each one holds the promise of renewal and precious moments – moments that take time to mature, and we hold our breath in anticipation.

I am beginning a new season too. I recently reached the point of letting go of something I love –  my job. It is a necessary ending, for the sake of my body and soul, but to say my heart isn’t torn into a million pieces, would be an understatement. Friday marks the end of my tenure as the gatekeeper in the cubicle of purgatory. Who knows, I may end up there again. Healthier? Saner? Sharper ax?

What I am beginning remains to be seen. For now, I am planning to rest. To take long walks around my neighbourhood and satisfying strolls through scripture. I may finish some project around the house, and discover some new recipes. Most of all, I’m toying with writing, really writing…even if it’s only ever just for me.

I’m sad, but I also have peace that I am exactly where I need to be. The pages of my own life are delightfully blank, and I’m excited to see how God writes the next chapter.

Outside, the flowers are fading and the trees are taking on their colour. And the sky, well I am watching for the sky to lighten. The kettle is already boiled. I’m ready to start again.

Empty journal_ed

Beginning
Just let the word wash over you…So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
‘Cause your story’s far from over, and your journey’s just begun.
– Danny Gokey, Tell Your Heart to Beat Again

Happy Monday!

Cruisin’ The Strip

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Beach car2_ed

I’m gettin’ bugged driving up and down the same old strip
I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip
My buddies and me are getting real well known
Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone
I get around! – Beach Boys, I Get Around

Happy Wednesday!

This is my post for Cee Neuner’s Weekly Fun Foto Challenge. This week the theme is Cars & Trucks.

Wade Royal Victoria Coffee Set

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This burgundy and gold fluted coffee set was a wedding gift given to my parents-in-law over 50 years ago. It traveled with them to Canada when they immigrated from Ireland in 1970. Hubby remembers being amazed by it as a kid, assuming it was very valuable because there was so much shiny gold.

Wade Coffee Set_ed

The Wade Group of Potteries started in 1810 near Burslem, England. Early in the 20th century, a number of potteries merged to become George Wade & Son, Ltd.

In 1945, post-war industrial ceramics were in great demand so the Wade company purchased an old mill in Bann, Portadown, Northern Ireland.

In 1954, Wade Whimsies were introduced and almost immediately became a huge success. This included the Red Tea Whimsies, which are still prized collectibles.

Wade cup_ed

Never lose the childlike wonder. Show gratitude…
Don’t complain; just work harder…Never give up. – Randy Pausch

Happy Monday!