in bloom, headaches, and an awesome drink recipe

I was away last week for work, and took these pictures of our cherry tree before I left. Now it's in full, beautiful bloom. And it's been raining for days, so I only took one quick iPhone pic a couple days ago, between showers. While I was away, I kept the cutest little jam jars from a hotel I stayed at, bought waaay too many Jelly Bellys, and had some lovely visits with coworkers. (I really do work with the best people! It's too bad that I only get to see them a couple of times a year.)
One of those lovely visits inspired me to make a new drink yesterday. It's made with equal parts lavender syrup, fresh lemon juice, gin (if desired) and tonic water, and finished with ice. I added some vanilla bean scrapings in as I made the lavender syrup, and it's so, so good. The super-brief recipe and picture are here. It's a perfect, civilized, delicious summer drink. Enjoy!
I forget what flowers I determined these are. English bluebells, I think. We have hundreds and hundreds of them in our yard, and I love picking giant handfuls in to brighten up the kitchen. They have the lightest, loveliest fragrance. And they're so pretty.

I should have mentioned it sooner, because it may be gone from newsstands now, but the May issue of Country Living magazine was particularly terrific. Like most magazines, I find that some issues are just better than others, but that one really stood out. I read it for the second time today, and kept it to read again. Which is unheard of. So if you can get your hands on it, grab it quick! The June issue is already out, so it may be too late. I'm guessing that you may be able to get a digital issue for your device, so check out their site. Worth it, for the inspiration. I promise. (They didn't pay, coerce, or ask me to post about it! I just loved it.)

I know I've mentioned my headaches here before, but they have been particularly awful lately. I've had more days with headaches over the past few months than without, and it's decidedly un-fun. It just casts an icky haze over everything, and I don't like taking as much ibuprofen as I have been. Some days, it doesn't even touch the headache, and I'm nauseous by bedtime. Ugh. I've decided that this also isn't normal or desirable, and I've got a few plans of attack. I visited my dentist a few weeks ago, we chatted a bit, and he's confident that I'm grinding my teeth as I sleep, like just about everyone else. Which may well be the cause of my headaches, so I'm having a fitting for a bite plane this week. I'm really hoping that I can get the finished product soon and that it works quickly. Someone else recommended reflexology, and since my massage therapist does that and I have an appointment with her tomorrow, I'm giving that a try, too. Hopefully those will do the trick - at this point I don't really care how or why something works, I just need the headaches to stop. Wish me luck!

There. Tomorrow starts another week, back to my regular work routine. (I'm looking forward to summer! Soon!) Hope you've had a lovely, headache-free weekend!

(Edited to add: in case you'd like to see all of my Instagram pictures, you can browse them all here.)


you are enough

Hello! I'm enjoying a quiet, rainy Victoria Day by myself at home, and have actually had time to think a little bit this weekend, as Adam and the boys are visiting grandparents. I've been wrapping up soaps, am enjoying watching the cherry tree start to bloom, and have been thinking about television, of all things. (As I watch Murder, She Wrote on Netflix.) Just to be clear before I get started: I don't think that TV is pure evil and will ruin your children forever if they watch while you make supper. (Even if I did, that doesn't matter. You know what you need to do to get through the day.) This is not meant as a judgement in any way, and please take it as I mean it - just encouragement to be mindful of how you view yourself.

I stayed at a hotel over the weekend for work-related stuff. It was lovely to have some quiet time to myself on Saturday evening to read, rest, and relax as I pleased. So on Saturday evening, I was watching Elizabeth (well done, Cate Blanchett!) but since it was on a regular channel, they awkwardly played commercials throughout the movie.

As you may know, we don't have a TV. It's not that we don't watch anything - we have Netflix and will deliberately choose which shows we want to watch, and when. I grew up in a house where the TV was almost always on in the background, and I watched a lot of it. Since I first moved out to go to university what feels like a couple of years ago (*ahem* 13 years ago *cough*) I haven't had a TV, except for a few months. And then we sold it because I didn't like having it in the house. At the hotel, I noticed something that I already knew, but it seemed clearer and more important than ever before.

Every single commercial's message, masked and presented in various ways, is telling us that we are not enough.

You're not pretty. Your hair isn't the right colour. You're too hairy. You're too fat. Your skin isn't nice enough. Your teeth are too yellow. You're too fat. Your clothes aren't right. You're not good enough. You're getting wrinkles, and old is bad. You're too fat. Your breath stinks. You're ugly. Beauty is good, and you're not beautiful.

Advertisers are depending on you to believe this message so that you will buy their products for telling you these things. Isn't that crazy?

You know what? You are enough.

Chances are, after years of hearing these messages, day in, day out, you believe that you're not good enough. Even though it's simply not true. You are enough.

Frankly, I'm not inclined to welcome a guest in my home who repeats those messages to me. And leads my boys to believe that beauty is the very superficial, one dimensional picture shown on TV. It is so, so much more than that. And so, we opt out of traditional TV. And (I think) are all the better for it.

So here's something you might like to try, if you watch traditional TV with ads in your house. Next time you see an ad, pay attention to what the underlying message is. Distill it into a few words. Do you believe it? How do you think your kids might be interpreting the ads? How are the ads influencing their ideas about themselves and others? Start a conversation with them - see what they think. It might be eye-opening. Do you want those messages setting the tone in your house? It's worth considering.

And so, beautiful you, have a lovely week.


may 13

Well, hello there! Let's recap a little bit.

We've (well, mostly Adam) has rebuilt our vegetable beds, and they're finally planted. Better late than never! Peas, carrots, kale, lettuce, onions, and sunflowers. And all of my herbs are coming back beautifully. I'm especially thrilled about the tarragon. My favourite herb!

The house is listed again.

I happily made my own Mother's Day breakfast yesterday, and I highly, highly recommend it. (Not so much the making, although I really enjoyed that. The recipe, I mean.) It was Smitten Kitchen's Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby from her awesome, awesome cookbook. I can't even begin to describe the magical-ness that happens with the buttery crispy edges, and just the right amount of spice. It was heavenly. I want to eat it every day for the rest of my life. (With maple syrup. And we have lots - 4 litres of the lovely stuff! Scored a great deal - $45. Thanks to my aunt for picking it up for me!)

I found these while out on a walk before the rain started on Saturday, in two spots well apart from each other. During a wild thunder and lightning storm on Saturday night, as I was up with the boys several times, I was thinking about all of you other mamas out there, up with your little ones, the bird mamas in their nests, and the loveliness that is the world in spring. When I was cuddled up with Phillip, despite the thunder and the fact that it was 4am, I had the loveliest sense of all being as it should.

We had some soil and compost delivered last week, and Thomas has been the happiest boy in the county. Digging, climbing, digging, scooping, sliding, excavating and always coming in the house completely covered, head-to-toe in a thick layer of dirt. We mowed the lawn for the first time of the season today. And we need a new grass trimmer. With extra batteries this time.

I made some soap on the weekend, and will be getting some orders packed up and ready this week. Let me know if you'd like some - I'll have a bit of extra on hand.

We had an unexpected sunny day today (it was calling for rain) and I just had a lovely, productive day all around. The boys were cooperative and got along all weekend (hooray!) and Adam and I celebrated our 11th anniversary on Saturday. Things are very, very good in my neck of the woods. I hope that's the case for you, too.

Happy Monday!