Winter Hideaway

I’ve taken you to the beach in the winter with me before. In my mind it is truly majestic, even if it is one of the Great Lakes and not the sea. My future holds intimate moments connecting with the sea in all seasons. For the time being, I must content myself with Lake Ontario lovely and splendid in its own way.

 

These photos were taken on three separate walks over a two month period. As you will note, the weather turned and Old Man Winter blew his icy breath upon us as the winter wore on. Spring is now peeking its lovely face forth like a child playing hide and seek, making sunny days ever so welcome. Yesterday was one of those bright days saturated with sunshine which has put a spring back in my step and a smile on my face.

 

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As the season slides dreamily into warmer temperatures, birds singing and flora unfurling and flowering, this Spirit of mine begs to see what she can see.

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Beach Bliss

 

 

 

Snack Shack/Restrooms

 

Have you ever heard the call? The call to head to a certain location?

Do you listen?

This morning, although the temperature was frigid, the beach called to me.

I have not been spending as much time as I desire outdoors lately so when the beach called, I dropped everything and went directly there.

Wind blown sand and snow

Wind blown sand and snow

 

Nature holds many surprises if you look around and notice the details.

The windswept sand and snow is a temporary painting on the landscape.

I dare not walk past without admiring its beauty.

swim at your own risk

swim at your own risk

 

 

 

 

trees along the pier

trees along the pier

“Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.”
~Charles G. Stater

 

beach volleyball

beach volleyball

 

 

 

 

Winter Beach

Winter Beach

 

There is something so mystical about the beach in the winter.

It is other-worldly. The sights, sounds and scents are very different from during any other season.

I stood in this spot for an extended period of time. Taking it all in until my face started to hurt from the cold.

With my ear buds in, listening to music I found myself dancing. I know. Weird, right?

I was alone on the beach without a soul in sight and here I was dancing!

I rejoiced in the sensation of pure bliss – of Spirit and surroundings.

Think I’m odd if you want to…whatever. Before you pass judgement though I dare you to give it a go for yourself.

Glimpse of Summers Past

Glimpse of Summers Past

 

 

 

 

snow fence

“Land really is the best art.” – Andy Warhol

 

 

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

 

 

 

 

Bench

 

 

 

 

[W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.”  ~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866

I Dream In Shades of Green

Here in the Northern hemisphere winter has unfolded and Old Man Winter’s icy breath blows relentlessly. The beauty can be awe-inspiring to some, downright depressing to others. I am of the inspired mindset. I tend to do a lot of inner work when winter settles in. Inner as in practicing self-love, or taking care of my Spirit, focusing on what I need to keep joy in the heart and regain focus on health. As an avid gardener, horticultural tech and professional landscaper I tend to yearn for garden time while simultaneously rejoicing in a bit of a break in the schedule. Plants are always on my mind…seriously. I dream in varying shades of green. I long to get my hands in the soil and mud on my boots. To smell the earthiness of freshly cultivated soil.

 

Something I had failed to ponder, which now occupies my mind almost on a daily basis is what exactly is going on within the garden while we are, for the most part, forced out of it. There is surely magic taking place. I find it fascinating to think upon what is shakin’ underground that we never see. The slowing of the biological processes of what we are aware of that is above the soil line while life force is still maintained. The energy that is still flowing constantly while for the most part we as humans deem the garden to be resting until we get back into the garden to assist; as if plants were relying solely on our actions.  I am humbled by the realization that we are merely a player on Mother Nature’s stage. 

 

 

winter garden

 

 

 

 

Blanket of White

Yesterday morning as I started my day with a steamy mug of coffee, I pondered all of the things I could possibly do over the weekend. Then I cleared my mind of its swirling chaos, sunk back into the couch and watched the snow swirl and dance as it floated down to earth while I savoured my caffeine fix. The snow storm we had been promised had arrived…with a vengeance. School was cancelled due to the weather conditions so we were all moving like sloths. We had at least a foot of snow by the time I finally stepped out the front door around noon into a swirling mass of blowing snow. Each winter our front walkway becomes a wind tunnel for blowing and drifting snow since it faces North and is flanked on one side by the house and the garage on the other. In the summer it creates a nice shady, cool space to enjoy a beverage while in the winter the wind seems to lay in wait for me to open the front door to slap me in the face. Actually, truth be told, I kind of like getting an icy blast when I step out the front door. By the time I make it to my car I am acclimatized to the wind. Good morning!

Our super handy neighbour that helped me prep my garden in the Spring (see here for details) noticed me shovelling and swung his snowblower around to assist me. Sweet. I was only shovelling for a grand total of about 10 minutes! With a wave of thanks I darted back inside for a refill of hot coffee. Mmmm…

The rest of my day was spent organizing and cleaning. Some things just have to be tended to. Thursday I assembled a shelf and desk that my daughter received for Christmas. I should have known by the instructions clearly depicting an “x” over one individual and then indicating two people were needed for this task that, perhaps I should employ a helper. In typical Me fashion I went ahead thinking, “No problem. I’ve got this.” As I fought with the final screws in the shelf I realized that I should have heeded the pictorial warning.

Four hands are better than two.

Four hands are better than two.

I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the remainder of my day except to say that I delighted in the gorgeous snow drifting and blowing to the point it seemed as though it would never end. I managed to hunker down inside all day except the brief foray into shovelling. The best part of the day? Why, enjoying the fire that I started in the fireplace and reading a book as the snow continued to fall. Divine.

We have more snow now than we have had in the last few winters combined, I think. I love the fresh look of a blanket of clean snow. Interested in how much of the white stuff we were blessed with? Here is a article from a local media source.  It seems as though we have more snow in our neighbourhood than any of those pics show. I took this pic while staying cosy and warm inside. This was about an hour after the neighbour and I had totally cleared the driveway but you can’t even tell where it is anymore. As you can see from my car in the driveway I have some work to do before I can go for a spin. My Mazda wasn’t going anywhere too quickly, that’s for sure.

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

I love the pace that a big snowstorm sets. Everyone slows down a fraction. Neighbours help each other shovel. There is no intense pressure to run around all over town. We simply adopt a slower rhythm as our ancestors did before us by instinct.

” The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found.” 

– J. B. Priestley

Snack Attack!

I love snacks but they have to be worth having or forget about it. I have learned the hard way about choosing wisely when it comes to snacking. This time of year is especially difficult for me to snack wisely since all I really want to do is what Nature intends for us to do and pack in calories to get us through the winter here in this chilly climate.  I have started making my own healthy snack options for a couple of reasons.

1: I don’t want to munch on crappy junk food.

2: Eating something just because it’s “healthy” is pointless unless you actually like it.

3: Cutting out extra sugar and sodium is easy when you are the one to decide how much to use.

4: There is nothing wrong with being frugal.

5: I really, really like to cook and bake.

One of the latest snack crazes that has risen to popularity in our house is  Roasted Chickpea Bites. These little guys pack a serious nutritional one-two punch while satisfying the need for salty or sweet (or both). One cup of chickpeas contains 10 grams of protein, approximately 15% of your RDA of iron, 6% of your RDA of calcium, 7 grams of fibre and 0 mg of cholesterol. I’m in love. Sure the calories may be on the high side at 220 calories/cup but I’m okay with that. Everything in moderation, right?

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

 

 

 

I thought you might enjoy these tasty morsels as well so I am going to share with you so you can snack-on without guilt.

Roasted Chickpea Bites

large 796 mL (28 oz ) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

olive oil

seasonings of your choice

Preheat oven to 350*F.

After rinsing the chickpeas well, pour them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with approximately 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil,  add your seasonings (today I used 1 tbsp of my favorite madras curry powder and 2 tbsp maple syrup), and stir.

Gathering the ingredients.

Gathering the ingredients.

 

 

Mix well to ensure each lovely little orb is coated with deliciousness.

Pour the chickpeas and any liquid onto a rimmed baking sheet. Don’t use a flat cookie sheet without a rimmed edge or you will have chickpeas all over the place, no matter how steady your hand is. I know this from experience!

Chickpeas on baking tray.

Chickpeas on baking tray.

 

 

 

Put the chickpeas into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Wiggle the tray around every 10 minutes or so just to ensure even cooking and so the chickpeas  don’t stick to the tray. I like my chickpea bites to still be soft in the centre but crispy on the outside so after 25-30 minutes I put the oven onto broil for about 5 minutes. Watch them carefully because you can quickly gazorch (okay, burn) things very quickly under the broiler. This I also know from testing the reaction time of the smoke alarms.

Remove from the oven when they feel crispy and are dark golden brown. They will start to “pop” when they are perfectly cooked to my taste. Allow the chickpeas to cool on the tray. Don’t try to eat them when they are first out of the oven. You will burn your mouth. Yup, done that too. Once your mouth is burned you won’t be able to enjoy the yum-factor as much so please try to be patient.

Voila! Here is the finished Roasted Chickpea Bites ready to snack upon. Dig in!

roasted chickpea bites

roasted chickpea bites

 

 

 

I recommend storing the Chickpea Bites in the fridge once they have cooled down. Since there are no preservatives they will go bad quickly. These are scrumptious cold by the handful or tossed on top of salads.

“When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste. ” 

 ~Laiko Bahrs

Winter Skin Blues

This frigid weather is brutal on my skin! My back is itching like crazy and my face feels as dry as a desert. I have tried product after product trying to aid my visage to no avail. The closest I have come with a manufactured product has been the gorgeous line of Shaklee Enfuselle products. I use these products on a year-round basis because they are naturally sourced and chock full of great stuff for my skin. However, this time of year always gets my skin crying out for extra TLC, no matter what. For the past few years I have slapped on coconut oil religiously and it works pretty well. However, my kids balk at the scent of it and make gasping noises when they come in for a hug. Thanks, guys. It can’t really be that bad. In the container it smells delicious like a pina colada. On my face, not so much, obviously. Weird since I can’t smell it and my nose just happens to be smack dab in the centre of my face.

 

I think I have finally come up with a solution! The past few weeks I have been experimenting. I am sort of in an obsessive domain at present since the itching and stinging of dry skin is all-encompassing. I have tried a slew of DIY concoctions with varying success and have put ingredients from different skin care recipes together in my own formulations. I have figured out that exfoliation two times per week is necessary during the winter. I’m sure there are skin gurus out there gasping somewhere. Oh well.

 

 

Almost good enough to eat!

Almost good enough to eat!

 

 

 

Perfectoid Exfoliating Scrub:

*All ingredients are approximate amounts since I just put everything into a small dish and use immediately. This makes the correct amount for one use this way everything is fresh, fresh, fresh.

 

  • 1 tsp melted organic coconut oil
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp used coffee grounds (or is it grinds? I am never certain)

Mix these few ingredients together and you are ready for superior exfoliating and moisturizing action!

Splash warm water on your face a few times – just water, no cleanser necessary. You will feel as though you are in a face wash commercial at this point. Turn off the tap to conserve water while applying the concoction. Scoop a bit of the mixture onto your fingertips and apply to face starting with the forehead and working your way down. Apply all of the mixture before starting to scrub. Lightly scrub in small circles starting at the forehead while leaning over the sink since bits will fling while you are scrubbing. Go easy. You don’t want to irritate your sensitive facial skin.  Allow the scrub to stay on your face for a minute or two for the most benefit. It is now time to wash off the mixture with warm water. Cool water is great for your skin but makes the oils harden slightly so it is much easier to rinse with warm water then follow with a couple splashes of cold water. Do not use any cleanser or soap to wash of the oil residue. This is beneficial to your skin and no, it will not cause breakouts.  Pat your face dry gently. Very gently.

 

You are finished!

 

For added moisturizing, I finish with a very light coat of either avocado oil or coconut oil (at night). If it feels too oily simply dab a tissue over your face to remove excess. If you wear makeup, now is the perfect time to apply. I usually add extra moisturizer to my tinted moisturizer for a more natural look anyway so this is a great way to cut out a step.

 

 

Why did I choose to use these particular ingredients? Other than they were some of the few ingredients that my very sensitive skin didn’t react wickedly to.

Coconut Oil –

  • prevents and protects skin against free radical damage.
  • aids in reestablishing the skin’s natural antimicrobial and acid barrier
  • easily absorbs into the skin and doesn’t feel greasy
  • helps to reduce inflammation

 

Avocado oil –

  •  avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, D and E, all of which  help maintain healthy skin
  • heals and soothes skin
  • keeps skin young and supple
  • helps reduce itching, dryness, and inflammation

 

 

Sugar –

  • stripping away tired old skin by using an exfoliant is rejuvenating. Exfoliants smooth your skin and help increase the production of new collagen to improve the appearance of fine lines
  • sugar is rough enough in texture to help rid the top layer of dry skin
  • can be too abrasive and cause sensitivity if scrubbed to firmly. Go easy. If white sugar is too scratchy feeling, perhaps brown sugar would be a better option for you.

 

 

Coffee Grounds –

  • contains caffeic acid which is suggested to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects
  • stimulates collagen production
  • helps skin feel silky smooth
  • great use for used coffee grounds since I am not using them in the garden this time of year
  • What can I say? I love coffee whether it be in me or on me!

 

 

 

One of the best ways to assist skin this time of the year is ensuring you maintain a high level of water consumption. I drink a lot of water because I simply like water not juices. I must admit that I suck down far too much coffee which doesn’t help but I do try to compensate by drinking extra water for every cup of coffee I consume.

 

If you try out this DIY exfoliator, please report back with your comments.

 

 

“Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.”  – Rosalind Russell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter at the Beach

lighthouse

Today the sun was shining brightly and the temperature  a cool 4 degrees celsius. My body was longing to be in the fresh, cool air so I set out for a walk. My feet took me to the beach. The beach on a sunny winter’s day is miraculous. The biting breeze off the water was invigorating and the beach was still. I noticed that the sound of the beach in the winter is totally different from in the summer. It was incredible.

There were a few other people around but the stillness was peaceful. A few men were fishing along the pier and there were a handful of other walkers but no one else ventured onto the beach other than myself and a lady running with her dog. An older couple was feeding bread to the seagulls.

Tucked Away for the Winter

Tucked Away for the Winter

The marina was quiet with all of the boats tucked away snuggly for their winter slumber.

looking down the pier

looking down the pier

On  one side of the pier the water was still and the sun shone off of it as though it were ice. The other side of the pier the water was rough with ice chunks and waves. It seemed as though the water had a dual personality.

The icy, rough water was hypnotizing and calming. The sound of the water on the rocks soothing.

 

 

 

 

Looking from the pier toward the beach, the breaking ice reminded me of shaved ice in a glass. If it wasn’t so cold it would have tempted me to have a margarita!

The sound of the ice chunks bobbing around and clinking against one another was like music. Sweet, tiny chimes playing an enchanted song for whoever would take a moment to slow down and listen.

melting ice

 

 

 

Snow-Ice-Water

Snow-Ice-Water

The snow on the beach, the icy bits and the open water of the lake created distinct layers that intrigued me.

Beach in the Winter

Ah.. the beach all to myself.

I see a strong resemblance to Gumby. Minus the head shape. Mine seems to be the size of a pea from this perspective.

Windswept Sand

Windswept Sand

The sand. Windswept and beautiful.

Remnants of Summer

Remnants of Summer

 

 

 

Seagulls

Being in the fresh, wintry air by the water was invigorating. I felt the rosy glow on my cheeks from the breeze and the warmth of the winter sun on my face.

Turning for home, I looked forward to getting back to my kitchen where it was warm.

The apples and squash on my kitchen counter were awaiting my arrival.

“What nature delivers to us is never stale. Because what nature creates has eternity in it.”  – Isaac Bashevis Singer

Welcoming Winter

Finally! We have snow…and lots of it! I think we have had more snow in the last four days than we did all last winter.

 

 

snowy porch light

snowy porch light

 

I love the look of snow. The crisp whiteness that makes everything look clean and pure. The way animal tracks show up so perfectly. Most of all I love the look of snow heavy on tree branches. The crisp white against the greens and browns of the trees. I could reflect on this for hours. The temperature is cold but wonderfully fresh and the air feels cleaner for some reason. There is a certain scent to snow that is so incredible. You may think I sound a bit nutty, but seriously, breathe deep the next time the snow falls (if you are in an area that receives snow) and smell for yourself. Lovely…ahhhh…

 

I have to admit though that I am not a winter sport kind of gal. I don’t like having cold fingers, toes or nose for any length of time. The thought of skiing gracefully downhill is appealing, than I remember that I am a total klutz. I think I am better suited to sitting by the fire in the chalet. I love the thrill of tobogganing, though. Bumping and flying down a hill at top speed totally out of control! I always find myself screaming and laughing until I cry. I instantly turn into a kid again. Not much skill needed. Just strong legs and stamina to get myself back up the hill repeatedly. Note to Self: get my butt out to the sledding hill. I usually end up as a giant snowball at least once, but it is so worth it. This would make a great Girls’ Night activity. I must put the word out. Sledding, then wine and snacks…who’s in?

 

It has been snowing beautiful, fluffy snowflakes all day. I went out into my backyard to look at the trees and quickly found my jeans soaking wet and heavy. I stayed out for only a few minutes to fill my lungs with the wonderfully crisp air and listen to the stillness that winter always brings.

 

snow pressed up against the door

snow pressed up against the door

 

 

 

 

snow accumulated on the outdoor chandelier

snow accumulated on the outdoor chandelier

snow-covered tree

snow-covered tree

” Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She
withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and
stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them
for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” ~Hugh Macmillan,
“Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871