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

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Spur of the Moment

I have a habit of doing things spur of the moment. Like this afternoon, for instance. I decided I wanted to go experience an olive oil and balsamic tasting first hand…so I did. Immediately upon thinking of it. This is how I roll.

 

A few months ago, a new tasting shop opened in St. Catharines called Della Terra Tasting Bar. As soon as I saw that it was opening my taste buds started yelling at me to treat them. There was never enough time in the day when I did think of it until today. So as soon as it crossed my mind I grabbed my purse and jumped in my car. It was quickly decided that my daughter and her friend would come along for the new experience. I would have just as happily gone solo had they not been interested.

 

 

 

Olive Oils & Balsamic

Olive Oils & Balsamic

 

 

 

We were lucky that the tasting bar was having a quiet moment and had the full service of a knowledgeable guide. She walked me through the types of olive oils and handed me samples as we talked, explaining the differences. She was a wonderful wealth of information. I never thought of sipping olive oils as something I would enjoy so thoroughly. There is such a huge leap from regular store-bought olive oil that is often blended or of inferior quality to imported, cold pressed pure olive oils from different countries. I had come into this knowledge a few years ago while in California and had sampled high quality oils and balsamics and have been searching for comparable quality in this area ever since. Today, I struck pure gold! Or should I say green?

 

The rich, smooth texture of the oils was sublime. Each oil was vastly unique. I sampled mild, medium and robust olive oils and ended up purchasing a medium oil called Picual. Oh my. The robust oils hit my throat like I had just ingested liquid pepper. So not expected (even though she warned me)! It was fantastic. It was fun watching my daughter and her friend taste the oil. My daughter stuck her tongue in the sample cup then declared it wasn’t for her. They couldn’t get over the fact that I was sipping cup after cup of the stuff and watched with wide eyes. They quickly zipped over to the balsamics when given their leave.

 

After the straight up olive oils I moved on to the flavored olive oils. So many to choose from…sinfully delicious varieties. Swoon. I decided on a blood orange infused olive oil that is out of this world. It is so divine I don’t want it to even touch other flavors but go straight to my palate unadulterated.  But that would be greedy not to allow the flavor sensation to meld with other foods, wouldn’t it? It’s experiment time!

 

Next, I sidled up to the balsamic tasting bar and got busy. My first sample knocked my socks off (well, if I was wearing socks it would have) – coconut white balsamic. After having the smoothness of olive oil sliding down my throat the sharpness of vinegar took me back slightly but the coconut flavor was strong and true. It would be a great summer fruit salad accompaniment. I only had eyes for the dark balsamics though. Sinful and luxurious they beckoned me to them. I had the intention of finding figs to have with a great aged balsamic this weekend but instead found a fig balsamic that took me by aback. It came home with me. No surprise there.

 

 

I believe that we all need to indulge ourselves with experiences and things that make us feel alive. Today this is what I desired,so I treated myself.

 

“The lesson adults can learn here is that the world is filled with things for our enjoyment.” – Allen Klein

 

In the Vineyard

Vineyard in Niagara

Vineyard in Niagara

The wineries nestled in the Niagara Region are jewels on the crown of this glorious landscape.

This particular winery is one of my favorites due to its incredible wines and stunning views. It’s interesting to stand in the vineyard and just be still. To feel the life force that abounds.

The hills are definitely alive!

In the distance is the Niagara Escarpment which is a ridge that was formed by glaciers. This area of Ontario is blessed with a distinct microclimate due to the escarpment that supports the production of incredible wines.

Have you had wine from the Niagara Region yet? Hunt some down if you can, it will be worth your time.

May I suggest my favorite – Old Vines Foch from Malivoire – if you like a luscious  bold red as much as I do.

One of the many reasons this winery in particular is a favorite is in part due to their mission statement on sustainability. They definitely seem to uphold this statement.

“Operation with minimal environmental impact is a foundation block of Malivoire Wine’s corporate mission. A series of operational practices has been adopted to conform to this mandate.” – Malivoire website.

For more info on the sustainable practices of Malivoire, check out their website.

Standing among the vines

Standing among the vines

 

 

 

I am always awestruck by the beauty of grapes on the vines. Luscious little fruits of the gods they are.

On the Vines

On the Vines

 

 

 

There is something so timeless about vineyards. No matter where on this beautiful planet you are, if there are vineyards there is deep-seated history within the plants. A knowledge that is passed from generation to generation of humans but is simply imprinted within the plant’s growth cycles. It is a double whammy for me, Nature doing it’s thing and our ability to capture this essence.

“It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us.” – John Ruskin

 

I Dream of Gardens

 

 

I am in a gardening frame of mind at present. I eat, breathe and sleep gardens during the summer months. Yes, I even dream of plants in my slumber. I am always grateful to get dirty and breathe fresh air.

 

 

Last weekend I felt the urge to get out into a garden that I could savor its beauty with no strings attached. To walk among the greenery, stop to smell whatever flower caught my eye, and sit still and let my senses lap up all that was on offer.  I figured that the best location to do this was at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden that is about a fifteen minute drive on the highway from my house. I hadn’t been in this particular garden for a few years so I thought it was high time I check it out again. I am never disappointed by the gorgeous planters and urns that dot the walkways. They are a symphony of colour and textures that are pleasing to behold. Despite the plethora of planters, my timing was not great since many of the show gardens, the rose garden in particular, had just finished blooming and had been recently dead-headed. The Parks had planned well and planted adjacent flower beds with eye-popping colour in hopes of detracting away from the blah vista of non-blooming rose bushes. Candy-coloured annuals distracted me from disappointment.

 

 

There is one area in particular in this 100 acre property that calls to me through the treetops and beckons me to make a beeline directly into its inner sanctum – the herb garden. This garden is walled by cedar hedges that were planted in the 1940’s and still stand, perfectly manicured to create not only a mini micro-climate but also creates the feel of an outdoor room that quite honestly, I would be more than happy to stay in for hours.

Herb Garden

Herb Garden

 

 

 

After the herb garden, a nice stroll through the arboretum was in order. Don’t you just love the cool shade beneath the trees? My inner child wants to run from one shady spot to the next by the feel of the shades’ coolness alone while the sun shines in my eyes.

 

 

arboretum

arboretum

 

If you plan on visiting the Niagara Region, I highly recommend both the Butterfly Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens on your list of places to see.  Who knows, you may even bump into me taking in the gardens in every season!

For more info on the botanical gardens, visit this link.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

 

 

I bid you farewell and many enjoyable hours in the sunshine!

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”
– Minnie Aumonier 

If only…

 

 

IMG-20130708-00005

 

 

 

Despite the heat and humidity that envelops us at the moment, there is so much bounty to enjoy at this time of the year. If only I could stop a little longer and rest by this beautiful pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.”
— Kahlil Gibran

 

Let’s Eat Cake

In conclusion to my post The Countdown Is On ,  I have decided to invite you to share a piece of birthday cake with me and a few friends. To enjoy my 40th birthday even more – and drag it on even longer – I decided to throw myself a party. Why not, right? The premise of the party was to celebrate friendship. To have an evening to enjoy each others’ company, have some laughs and savour a few glasses of wine. Oh, and eat birthday cake of course!  Only a couple of photos were selected due to a fun wine tasting where all bottles were consumed plus a few extra. I’m sure you catch my drift. Let’s eat cake!

 

 

 

birthday girl cutting the cake

birthday girl cutting the cake

 

 

 

 

Normally birthday cake does not thrill me. Unless it is a unique flavour or light and airy. I decided against heavy chocolate or something sickeningly sweet and decided to make my own cake. In my 40 years on earth I have found that the best way to get what I want is to do it myself. Don’t you agree? So, I searched high and low (ok, I scoured through tonnes of cake recipes on pinterest) for just the right one. Here is the recipe I decided upon if you are interested – there were a few of you that have asked for the recipe after eating your slice – Orange Layer Cake. The homemade orange curd (filling) was delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I didn’t use the frosting recipe included but opted for a light cream cheese icing instead. My daughter was given creative license to add embellishment as she saw fit and put hot pink candy-covered chocolates and a fresh cherry on top for good measure.

 

 

 

Cake anyone?

Cake anyone?

Would you care for a slice?

This year, something changed inside of me. I realized that a birthday is no longer just about the person that was born on that particular day but also about those that they choose to share their days with. Those individuals that make us happy and that it feels good to be around. In the name of friendship, thank you.

`The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.` – Oprah Winfrey

Melancholy Weather, Meditation and Mraz

Upon waking this morning I was greeted by melancholy grey skies that eventually broke open, spilling heavy  drops down on my already muddy side yard and gardens. The work day was called off due to a 90% chance of rain all day. Rain days are always a mixed blessing. I can always use “alone time” and relish the freedom to do whatever I so choose without interruption. Sadly, that usually ends up being laundry, dishes or some other equally mundane task. On the other hand, I seriously enjoy my job and my co-workers so a day that is normally a work day without being on the job feels strange.

 

 

Today I decided not to feel any guilt and use it as a Me Day. To get back to certain past-times I love but have set aside for a while in pursuit of other things. I started my day with a glorious hot mug of Starbucks coffee and some reading material. I do love a good read yet I tend to only read at bedtime, having convinced myself that reading during the day is simply too indulgent. Not today it isn’t. I have devoured numerous different forms of written word today – fiction, blogs, words of wisdom collections, and health reference books in my library. I refer to my large bookshelf in my living room as my rotating library. Books are always coming and going either on loan, new additions, or rotated from boxes in the basement to refresh the material occasionally. I love books. The feel of old paper scented from years of  habitation in musty basements or my fresh-air and cooking smells infused home. There is nothing quite like the feel of holding a real book in my hands. E-readers are great tools but don’t give me quite the same satisfaction as an old, well-loved novel or heavy reference journal. I guess I’m a book-worm. I do feel somewhat guilty at the use of excess paper so I tend not to purchase a lot of new books but either borrow books from friends and family or purchase used books in the name of reusing an existing product. I ponder over which is worse; the use of paper for books, either recycled or new as opposed to the plastics and other resources used to manufacture e-readers/tablets and the electricity to run them as well as the disposal of the battery and the item itself upon its’ completed life span. Books are mostly 100% recyclable and last for incredible lengths of time if treated properly.

 

 

The gloomy day has also brought me the joy of reconnecting with my love of meditation and kundalini yoga. I enjoyed my hour-long session of awakening my kundalini energy. Blissful. I now feel as though I am glowing and warm with energy. I forgot how incredible the feeling of the warm energy rising up the spine feels and how alive I feel after practicing. Perhaps my early mornings will start with a yoga and meditation session instead of racing to the kitchen for coffee as soon as my feet hit the floor. That would be a much better start to preparing myself for the day. My body will thank me profusely for cutting my caffeine consumption, I’m sure.

 

 

kundalini awakening

It was time to infuse my environment with music. Jason Mraz’s music has aroused my senses this afternoon with his gloriously uplifting music. His cd “LOVE”, is definitely one of my favorites and always makes me swimmingly happy. Check it out.

 

I seriously love this song –   93 Million Miles but my fave pick would be Living In The Moment. When I’m feeling stressed out, “Living in the Moment” always brings me back to reality. Interesting how music can speak so strongly to our emotions, isn’t it? While my musical tastes are very eclectic there are certain artists and cd’s I reserve for certain types of days, moods, and activities. Sometimes I insist on loud and proud ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughn when I’m feeling feisty, or perhaps a hit of Ella Fitzgerald when I feel strong yet sentimental. I think the only type of music I don’t listen to regularly is country.  After growing up in a home where country music was the only type of music my parents listened to, I have had my fill. My sisters and I would escape to our rooms to fill our ears with artists like Wham, A-Ha, Madonna and Michael Jackson (that was me) to Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and Ozzy Osbourne. We tried our hardest to steer clear of country music and still do! I am not a country music-hater per say, just not a fan. You certainly would never find me screaming over some country stud muffin yammering on about dogs, trucks and his long lost girlfriend, that’s for darn-tootin’! There is a time and a place for every genre of music and I wholeheartedly appreciate the creativity and artistry of musicians. The world is richer because of music.

 

 

Today continues to be a day of things that bring me happiness and uplift the spirit. We all need to take a Me Day now and then. I think I’ll go give my kids a hug and tell them how loved they are. After that I will go to my other happy place, the kitchen. I’ll pour myself a glass of red wine and start on some onion bhaji, aloo ghobi, daal, a salad and homemade naan for dinner.  The perfect rainy day meal.

 

 

 

 

 

“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” – Plato

Born To Be Alive

I feel so alive! I’m not sure whether it is the extreme exhaustion of five 8-9 hour days of landscaping/gardening/mowing at work or the sudden warm weather of 16-20 degree Celsius and burning sun that we have been enjoying over the last week. Perhaps it was the crazy dancing that took place last night after a hard day at work until almost 1 a.m. Or just maybe it was the impulse purchases I made today. Whatever the cause, I am bursting with exuberance.

I am thrilled with my first purchase of the day which was a new spade. Yes, I am easy to please it seems. I bought myself the same type of spade I use at work since mine somehow went MIA somewhere along the line. A girl needs to dig sometimes and needs the right tool to do so. Almost as soon as I got home with my new spade I put it to use edging my veggie garden in preparation for rototilling. I am as giddy as can be about prepping the garden for planting. Seeing a growing veggie garden is like a mini Utopia in my own backyard.

Then I went a bit wacky and bought something that I honestly never thought I would own…a leather jacket. Gasp! I am struggling with this a bit, I must be honest. I very seldom purchase leather items as it seems so very wrong to me to wear another animals’ hide. However, this was a pre-owned jacket that I don’t think has ever been worn so buying leather seems a bit easier for my conscience to swallow. This insanely gorgeous jacket nearly jumped off the rack into my arms, I tell you! I wouldn’t bend for any old jacket though. This beauty is lime green and says “purrrrrr”. It really does. As soon as I slipped it on it was mine.

We all need to do the things that make us feel alive. Live life the way we dream in our mind’s eye. There is nothing that fills the Soul with the presence of Life like throwing back your head and laughing until your stomach muscles hurt, letting the wind whip your hair as it so pleases, and feeling Life force make you glow so others notice.  Life is to be lived, not to watch it pass you by.

“Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’

and when you have found that attitude, follow it.”  – James Truslow Adams

Day of Smells

Yesterday. The Day of Smells. Every day is filled with smells you may say, but yesterday seems to be especially poignant in my mind. Let me explain.

 

 

 

Daffodils - Narcissus

Daffodils – Narcissus

 

 

 

Although the day was filled to overflowing with scents, there were a few that really stood out.

 

 

 

Starting my day as usual…freshly ground coffee. Mmmm, my favorite smell to start the day. Without coffee’s mouth-watering aroma my day is not the same. I even ran in to Starbucks yesterday for an extra fix on my way to work which is highly unusual. Alright, alright, I really needed a washroom before jumping in the work truck due to an overabundance of coffee already but I just can’t resist the deliciousness of wafting coffee aromas. “I’ll have a Venti Tribute Blend black, please.” Ah, just what I needed. Smell #1.

 

 

 

Smell #2 – crunchy, decaying leaves on the forest floor. I just love that earthy, rich fragrance. Breathe deep.

 

 

 

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

The fragrance of Spring is in full force. So many wonderful smells at this time of the year. More so than at any other time, I would say.  Hyacinth’s distinct smell perfumed the air yesterday. Such a heady fragrance.  The only issue was that while the hyacinth perfume was filling my nostrils another odour wafted in and altered the experience – skunk. Cough, cough…ew. There was obviously a skunks home in the vicinity. Wowzers, it was extra odoriferous.

 

 

 

The best smell of the day was a first for the season and another of my favorite smells – fresh-cut grass. Oh my. My head was swooning from the green ambrosia. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? Ahem, sorry.  There is something so mesmerizing about the first whiff of cut grass for the season. Oh who am I kidding, I am always affected by it. Always have been. So much so that years ago two friends of mine from high school (yes, I’ve love the fragrance that long) gave me a fresh-cut lawn scented candle as a gift. It was pretty darn close to the real thing too.

 

 

 

The worst odor of the day was also the last. There was a strange, funky smell in the hallway outside my office door. It was a strong iron-like stench with undertones of wet pennies. Gag. I was on a mission to find what was causing the rancidity and I eventually found it. Uh-oh. My daughter’s hamster had died and left behind wafting lines of stank. It is shocking how quickly dead animals start to decompose. I had heard him sifting around through his bedding the day before. Perhaps poor little Marshmallow was preparing himself for the inevitable. Sniff. We have had a few hamsters as pets over the years and each of them had unique personalities. Marshmallow was by far my favorite. He was a gentle little creature and will be missed. Many tears were shed last night over not being able to say goodbye. Sometimes a final farewell is within the heart, not with words. This morning I had the task of burying Marshmallow in the garden. I chose his final resting place in a small garden filled with Black-Eyed Susan that my daughter and her best friend planted two summers ago. What did I notice while fluffing the soil afterward? The spicy aroma of cedars and warm earthiness of the soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” – Gustav Mahler

Greening It Up for My Blogiversary!

One year ago today I decided to give WordPress a go, encouraged by my friend Crystal over at Change My Body, Change My Life. I am so glad I took her advice. Over the past year I have grown immensely (not in size, but in self-confidence and spiritually) thanks to making myself find words for what I was thinking and experiencing. Thank you to all of you that have read my blog and encouraged me. WordPress bloggers are an incredible group of individuals and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie that takes place. I have even made a few new friends to boot! So, once again thank you to all of you that not only visit me here at Live Love Be Green and/or on my Facebook page Live Love Be Green but that also create your own fascinating blogs that capture my imagination and that makes time well-spent reading what you have to say.

 

 

 

So, since it is not only my one year anniversary of blogging but is also St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would try something new and fun with a poll. I am just trying to get the idea of how to create a poll so bear with me if it is lame.

 

 

For our St. Patrick’s Day celebratory dinner I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (yum) with a fresh mesclun salad and a mouth-watering pint of Guinness for me. For dessert I lovingly baked a Chocolate Guinness cake with salted caramel drizzle. Holy heaven on a dessert plate! I shall leave you with thoughts of Guinness Cake. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

“May you live a long life Full of gladness and health, With a pocket full of gold As the least of you wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, Be those which come true, The kindness you spread, Keep returning to you.”  –  Irish blessing