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A Backpacking Trip

Last weekend Ben and I went on my first ever overnight backpacking trip. We trekked 3 hours up a mountain to celebrate our 2 year anniversary.  What fun!
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We packed up our bags and set out (not so) early Saturday morning. Somehow my legs survived the hike and we ended our journey 10 km up a mountain at Green Drop Lake in Chiliwak Lake park. It was grand.

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Dinner was lentil chili and partially cooked quinoa… A result of not enough water + impatience and hunger. Partially raw quinoa was the inspiration for our site name: Gebraulter Raw Quinoa. After dinner we went for a trek to the right side of the lake were we watched fish jump and had a swim in the icy lake. I beat Ben at both our after dinner games, I hope the trend is a winning year for me!
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When it got dark it was time to put the food in the fridge (the lake) and the dry food in the bear box. Rain made the forecast look foreboding but we woke up Sunday morning to clear skies. After a delicious breakfast of potatoes, eggs, bacon from Yarrow food co-op and coffee, we went back down the mountain with our slightly lighter but still ridiculously heavy packs.
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We stopped on the way down to swim in Lindeman lake on the hot day. A quick snack of homemade beef jerky and gluten free cookies from Spiritual Ingredients Bakery were pre-dinner to our Mayan burgers at Milestones. We might have been the stinkiest patrons in the restaurant but the server kindly pretended not to notice.

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My legs are still sore but my heart is happy. Good food and beautiful scenery with my love. What could be better? Until next time, Gebraulter Raw Quinoa!!

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Looking Back

Today I have been messaging back and forth with a woman who is wondering if gluten might be the cause of her uncomfortable symptoms. I sent her a message that I hoped would help bring awareness and understanding to the possible cause of her struggle. After sending it, I read the message and was amazing at the transformation that I wrote about. It’s been a long time since posting here but I would really like to share just how far I’ve come in the last 4 years, nearly 5 years. Jesus is good and gracious and has led me to healing and I want to share that joy with others. Note, this was originally a Facebook message and has not been edited for eloquence but I’ve learned that you don’t always need eloquence to speak the truth.

This is my story:

If I’ve realized one thing in these last 4 years it’s that the ability to be in tune and aware of your body is one of the greatest gifts we can have. If you think something is not right, trust your instinct and take matters into your own hands, that’s what I had to do.

Looking back at my childhood and teenage years I see and remember very clearly so many instances where I felt unwell and knew something was wrong but didn’t know what to do. In elementary school I asked my parents to take me for allergy testing but nothing showed up as a concern. I remember feeling tired and constantly sick. I loved the idea of exercise but I was too weak to go be regularly physically active. I constantly felt bloated, had horrible bowel movements, excema, dandruff and had irrational anger issues. Because this was normal to me, I didn’t see the red flags.

5 years ago I went to a Bible school in Germany for 7 months. While there, I was constantly sick with a cold or flu or just generally felt unwell. I has one friend who, at the end of the year, said, “at the beginning of the year I had no idea who you were because you spent so much time sick in your room. I was worried that I would never get to know that girl!”
I was very unwell.

Returning to Canada I developed strange “hay fever” and had constant colds and flu’s for the next year. I was taking evening classes and had an incredibly difficult time staying awake even with 10 hours of sleep. The following year I began teaching preschool and developed a huge list of symptoms that were quite concerning to me. The most upsetting were a series of very painful rashes and constant sinus infections. I was tired, had little appetite and felt so, so very sick. My doctor tried many different antibiotics – creams, sprays, pills – and finally referred me to a dermatologist who said, “your rashes are likely related to your allergies and eliminating those will help your symptoms”

What allergies?? I thought. At that time is was late December and my family was spending Christmas in Alberta. I went to the naturopath who my aunt sees and she promptly advised me to remove wheat from my diet, drink more water and gave me a natural nasal spray.

Within 1 week of completely eliminating wheat from my diet my rashes cleared by 90%, I began to have more energy and felt a sense of clarity in my thoughts and emotions. Unfortunately, the journey was much longer than 1 week. 5 months later I saw a naturopath here and she took me off of dairy and sugar as well as some other foods (oats, corn, brown rice, beets, garlic, mustard, pork, kale and more) that i have mostly re-introduced. Removing dairy and sugar (and those other foods and nearly everything processed) was the turning point as I believe my body finally had a chance to heal from the damage done from the previous 20 years. I remember a very significant morning in June, 6 months after I had eliminated wheat and 1 month without dairy and sugar: I ate breakfast, ate lunch and ate dinner all without a stomach ache. I told my mom that was the first day I could EVER remember not feeling bloated or in pain. Not feeling sick was a new and glorious feeling.

That was 4 years ago and my journey has continued. As mentioned in the comment (in a group thread started by this woman), I still avoid gluten like the plague and dairy will still make me feel sick. I feel incredibly thankful because my body has healed and I am finally at a place were I am comfortable with my diet and feel physically and emotionally healthy. I do not need an official diagnosis from my doctor because my body tells me what feels good and what doesn’t.

In terms of my symptoms, I no longer have painful sinus infections (I have not had one in over 2 1/2 years), I am able to think clearly without brain fog, I am in control of my emotions- no longer am I irrationally angry or weepy, my skin has cleared up by 95% (I believed the 5% left is actually scar tissue that becomes re-irritated and will never actually heal), my nails are healthy and strong, my hair grows faster than ever, dandruff is only an issue if I eat something I’m not supposed to, I haven’t worn deodorant in 3 years and only stink when I am detoxing from a mistake, my bowel movements are incredibly healthy, I am no longer bloated, I have energy to exercise and am learning to workout properly and love hiking and playing sports. No longer do I need a midday nap and I have energy for the whole day. My muscles only ache when I am sore from a workout instead of every day, my period is much less painful, I am no longer constantly cold- my body temperature has regulated itself. I still love to sleep in but don’t need a 10 hour rest every night and I wake up refreshed instead of exhausted and most importantly overall, I feel incredibly healthy.

To maintain my new lifestyle, I do avoid gluten and all cows dairy. I limit my sugar consumption and only use organic cane sugar. I avoid GMO’s and eat organic as much as possible. I purchase many of my vegetables from an organic farm in Surrey, I eat out on occasion and do not feel limited in that (FYI the white spot on Scott road and 72 has gluten free hamburger buns!!), I tried eating a Vegan diet but because I am anemic, I need to eat meat. As much as possible I buy organic pastured chicken and grass fed beef. I have learned to love vegetables and to cook many delicious meals that I never would have learned had I still ate wheat.

In all honesty, going gluten free has been an incredible challenge but an even bigger blessing. Jesus has transformed my life through what I thought was a curse.

However, it was not always easy, there were many, many tears involved and I literally had to change the way i thought about food. I had to convince myself that gluten was poison. It was very difficult and that is why I get defensive when people do not take a gluten free lifestyle seriously. Yes, there are many fad dieters but people do it hoping for their body to feel better and that cannot be ignored or understated. The big problem I have with people who “try gluten free” is that they expect it to fix their problems instantly. It will not. As you read above it took me SIX MONTHS to know what it was like to have a day without a stomach ache. Going gluten free is not for the weak. It takes emotional courage and dedication and can be extremely overwhelming and exhausting. There has been hundreds of times I have cried in anger about this. But now that I feel like I am other side of the bridge I see how the journey is worth it.

A word of advice, what helped me was not just “going gluten free” it was a dramatic change in my eating habits and lifestyle. No longer was convenience food an option. Had I gone from eating a poor diet of gluten containing packaged foods to a equally poor direct of “gluten free” packages foods, I would have failed miserably. I had a friend tell me that to start gluten free you should only eat food found on the outer edge of the grocery store and since part of that is the bakery, that leaves the produce section, meat section and dairy cooler. Since I was also avoiding dairy that meant for me meat, fruit and vegetables. I avoided all packaged foods for nearly a year to allow my body to heal from the garbage I had been consuming all my life. I cooked / home made 100% of the food I ate. Now I’d say I eat 70% homemade an 30% packaged food but the packaged food is very carefully selected with few and pronounceable ingredients.

I do still have some challenges and there are days where even the healthiest food doesn’t agree with my stomach, fortunately I have figured out a few solutions. I sell doTERRA essential oils and they have a blend called Digestzen which a digestive blend. I use it to relieve stomach aches and bloating. I do no know what I did before that oil, it is an absolute savior in times of trouble. I also take detox baths if I feel extra ill- Epsom salts, baking soda and ginger in hot water and I find those really help. I do still have creams that I use on my skin but now very minimally compared to before. Oh! Also, I stopped using shampoo and conditioner because the ones I had both contained wheat! (and I was too lazy to buy new ones. I’ve been shampoo free on and off for nearly 5 years) Eliminating gluten has to be a total transformation. I’ve had Chapstick with wheat in it and supplements with wheat. You have to be incredibly diligent.

AAs you might have noticed I am incredibly passionate about telling my story and helping others experience the joy and physical freedom that I have. It is not an easy journey but it is am completely worth it. A good blog to follow is Glutendude.com – he was super helpful in the early stages of my journey. Take time to read through the archives of his blog.

If you continue to suspect that gluten is an issue but still want help or support removing it, please keep in touch. I would be happy to have you over to see the safe food in my kitchen and give you recipes and ideas to eat. I should also add that I am not a doctor and do not have medical training but I the experience and testimony of myself, my friends and my family to share.

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To note, that message does not mention the INCREDIBLE support I have received from my friends and family. From Amy who at the very beginning decided to go gluten-free with me (until she decided she liked baking better… grrr) and my parents and in-laws who have learned to cook for me and are constantly asking to make sure the food they make is safe. From Amanda who made me gluten free pasta and Jana who makes me INCREDIBLE gluten-free cookies and meals and my colleagues and administration at work who take time to make sure I can eat during staff events (A shout out to the amazingness at Hilltop Christian Childcare Center and their compassion for the staff and the children who attend. I have never worked somewhere where I have felt so valued and supported in all my difficulties.) And Kerry who swaps recipes with me and introduced me to some of my favorite blogs and Aunty Cheryl who has been through the same journey.  Most of all, Ben. He has listened to a thousand rants and has wiped away thousands of tears and skipped out on trips to restaurants with me in solidarity and support, he eats the food I eat and cooks better than I do (when he does). I could not have done this without him. Thank you Ben.

If you are seriously considering a food overhaul and lifestyle transformation, a solid support team makes a huge difference. I have been blessed beyond words by friends and family who care and take time to support me in this journey.If you are one of them, THANK YOU.


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A victory indeed!

Judging from the messages I received from some of my freaked out friends, I’m pretty sure I caused a lot of people to think Ben and I were in grave danger or close to death when I posted this picture and caption on Facebook last night:

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If I caused you to have a minor heart attack, I apologize. Yes, we are dying but as far as we can tell, we’re still expecting about another 70-75 years each… death from natural causes usually takes that long. It would not be wise to post all of the details online,  but I do want to let you all know what happened and the reason why I asked for support.

This year, I found myself in a situation where I believed that I had been treated unjustly. I spent many hours crying over what had happened, and another many hours ranting about how angry and frustrated I was. I spent a lot of time at my parent’s house the month following (I basically moved back in) as I tried to figure out what to do and how to move on.

I submitted a complaint to the government branch responsible for dealing with situations such as mine. A mediation was scheduled. It was to be over the phone with a government mediator and both parties. As the mediation date drew near, I was required to submit documentation that supported my side and they were to do the same. Both were sent and the mediator exchanged the documents with the other party. I knew that reading their documents would upset me… and they did.

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Reading their documentation was incredibly intimidating. With the mediation date fast approaching, I was nervous about the direction it would take. Both my parents and Ben’s parents were very supportive and helpful. My dad gave me a crash course on “Sounding Professional Under Stress 101”, my mom prayed and Ben’s parents offered direction and support. I felt prepared, but completely unprepared at the same time.

There’s a feeling that one sometimes gets when they find themselves in a situation completely beyond their control. When it seems like there is no hope, and dread weighs in the stomach like a boulder, hands shake with fear and nervous anticipation bad enough to puke – that is how I felt last night as I pulled up to the church for youth.

It shouldn’t surprise me that God showed up when I needed him to. Last night at youth we taught the kids about Matthew 5:2-12. A passage that seemed more applicable to me then to them. ha. It was a huge reminder that without Jesus, I am truly lost. I know that I suck, but this passage makes me so thankful for grace and the opportunity to live through His mercy and with His strength. The game I led might have stunk (literally) that night but that was unimportant in light of love and value and power in His name.

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When Ben and I got home from youth, we wrote out the verses and stuck them on our wall. We added a few others and Ben wrote encouraging words at the bottom of each page. My favorite is the one where he wrote “Be still and know that I am God” and then added “you aren’t…” A good reminder indeed. We prayed a lot and went to bed early.

The morning dawned and honestly, I was nervous but felt peaceful. I was scared but calm. Ben and I set up a little station with both of our computers – one to view their documentation should it be necessary to look at and one to see mine. We prayed and at exactly 10:01 I had a phone call from a mediator explaining that the other party was on the line and that they were there to facilitate the mediation session. Ben sat silently beside me, occasionally writing on a note pad, and held my hand as I talked and we listened. It lasted about 30 minutes before the mediator explained that they wanted to speak with both of parties separately. Ben pulled out a bar of chocolate and we munched and waited for the phone to ring again.

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In the end, a resolution was suggested. Though it was not what I had originally hoped for, Ben suggested to accept the offer and I agreed it was for the better. We had gone in expecting there would be nothing and received something. The opportunity was given to decline the proposal and further pursue the issue but I was content with what happened.

In the end we actually got more then what we had hoped for. We had prayed for peace, a sense of calm and the ability for me to speak without crying or yelling. We hoped for a clear head, patience and a stronger trust in God’s ability to work in a situation.  We needed courage and reason to be able to say what I needed to say. We wanted to let this go without bitterness or regret. We got it. All of that was victory enough for us. Jesus taught us a lot through this situation; the experience was a learning one, and in the end, knowledge is of far more value than anything else that could have been given.

For our celebration? Bacon. Obviously.

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Just look and wonder in awe at the sheer magnificence and beauty of it!

The blessing in disguise of allergies is that I appreciate food so much more than I did before. Sure, I always loved bacon, it was always magical but now bacon is held with such reverence and appreciation that even smelling it is a treat.

Unfortunately, pork in any form isn’t so good for my system which makes even organic “regular” bacon not an option… but turkey bacon? Pretty dang close. The brand we buy is labelled as organic, gluten, casein, dairy and nitrate free aaaannnnnd it is expensive. We save it only for truly splurge-worthy occasions and deemed today worth it. So we made BELTGC’S! Bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato and goat cheese sandwiches. Thank-goodness for wonderful food 🙂

Thank goodness for wonderful friends as well! Thank you so much for all of your thoughts and prayers…and for reading all of this. I know that many of you weren’t aware of the situation but offered kind words and support when it was truly needed most. We really appreciated your Facebook messages and texts. Thank you.  We feel loved, blessed and humbled by the love from the people who care for us 🙂

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Case closed. I am a happy camper today 🙂


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Honeymoon! (An extra long post)

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It’s been over 2 months and I have yet to post pictures of our honeymoon. What! Well… mostly it’s because the blog was dead.. but now the blog is alive again! SOOOO honeymoon 🙂

On August 10, 2013 (exactly 2 months ago!) I was privileged to marry my best friend! Horray 🙂 It was an absolutely PERFECT day. Both Ben and I were so pumped, everything was better then we could have imagined. Except for the parts that didn’t go so well.. but neither Ben nor I “know” about those parts.

The day after the wedding, we packed up the car made a pit stop at our parent’s houses and then headed off to our exotic vacation destination: Whistler, British Columbia.

Ben chose Whistler, he had been there on three (?) stags over this summer and decided that he wanted to go there with me as well. Having only been there in the Winter, I figured going in the summer was worth a shot.

If you’ve never been to Whistler in the summer, I highly recommend it! There was sooo much to do!

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In the beginning…

 

Day 1. Jenga.

Our hotel room had a window overlooking the town plaza. Right away when we arrive we began to unpack. It seemed like every 5 minutes or so there was a crashing noise or some cheering coming from the plaza – a noise curious enough to halt our unpacking and send us down to figure out what the commotion was. Turns out it was a game of giant jenga! Jeep was doing some promotion that week and had the jenga set up as their attention grabber. It

worked. We played a well-fought game and by the end, we had a crowd of people watching us. So much fun!

After jenga we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring and had a marvelous time

Day 2. Bike ride.

We brought our bikes, of course. There was so much to do that it seemed we hardly used them at all, but it was awesome when we did. On day 2 we went for a bike ride along the lakes but it was cut short when we were stopped by a cross country bike race. It was cool to watch the riders weaving through trees and between rocks.

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We live in such a beautiful place

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Day 3. White water rafting!

Self explanatory! We used a combo deal from the adventure group to do white water rafting and zip-lining at a “reduced” rate. I’m not to sure how “reduced” it really was but it was awesome regardless! Rafting was so much fun. We choose the intermediate river over the advance simply because it was 4 hours instead of 8. As fun as it was, both Ben and I would like to do the advanced river next time because we found it too short. We’ll just have to plan for it to be a day-trip.

Day 4.

Yikes. What did we do on day 4? It’s getting late and my brain is turning into mush. I THINK this was Farmer’s Market day. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Farmer’s Markets? I think local food is the coolest thing ever 🙂  Also the coolest thing ever, cauliflower! I DID NOT know that there we so many different kinds! I forget what farm they were from but it was pretty awesome. This farm also had like 10 different types of potatoes including a red variety and a purple variety. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that

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Also on Farmers Market day, I checked off an item on my bucket list “Go on one of those flippy trampoline things.” Check.

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How fun 🙂

Day 5: Zip-line!

I think the pictures are pretty self explanatory for these ones 🙂

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Check out my shirt in the wind 😛

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Fun day 🙂

Day 6? Yikes. I think I’m done with this “day” thing. I want to share a few more pictures and I can’t remember what day’s they are from.. I could if I tried but I’m to tired to carreeeeeee. And most of them are of us eating food.

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GLUTEN FREE DAIRY FREE PIZZZA I LOVE WHISTLER!

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Ben may have got 2…

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Isn’t he just the best?

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About to do the Peak to Peak

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We LOVE pancakes 🙂

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Farewell!


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Saltspring Island

Ben and I said farewell to summer with a trip to Hippie Mecca, also known as Saltspring Island, last weekend with my family. My parents booked a lovely little cottage in the middle of a hobby farm and we happily spent the weekend climbing mini-mountains, singing to sheep, racing around the porch, kayaking and poking jellyfish, eating plums, going to markets and hanging out with my crazy family. Through it all, we took pictures with the newest member of our new family, Wallenby.

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Selfies on the ferry 🙂

The Saturday market was filled with all sorts of amazing booths – so much of it I could eat 🙂 My favorite was probably the gluten free, dairy free, all organic grains olive bread from Laughing Daughters Bakery. Close runner up was the lady selling raw vegan gluten free goods. I bought a heavenly coconut macaroon that had just a hint of ginger. Ah. Soo good!

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Ben eating the amazing bread 🙂

After the market the fam-jam headed out to get lunch we stopped at the Harbour House restaurant and organic farm. After eating the food we went out back for a tour to see where it all came from. Forget 100 miles, the 100 meter diet would be possible here!

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In the entrance

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Both Ben and Dad ordered these amazing looking chicken burgers 🙂

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Paradise

On Sunday we hiked a mini-mountain and were rewarded with an amazing view of Vancouver Island and some of the other Gulf Islands. It was a perfect little hike with a huge reward 🙂

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Looking across to Vancouver Island

On monday morning Ben nearly swallowed a fly… I wonder if had anything to do with Javier’s and my impromptu rendition of ‘There was an old lady who swallowed a fly’ the night before.

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There was a young man who [almost] swallowed a fly…

And on monday he swallowed something a bit more enjoyable, sorbetto from Salt Spring Gelato. Best part? I could eat it too! Have I mentioned that I LOVE that island?  Because if I hadn’t, I love that island. The people there have such a commitment to healthy living and environmental stewardship through the products they make, and by the way they take care of the resources they have. Love it. Love them. Love food that I can eat!

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The glorious sorbetto.

Our trip ended monday evening with a ferry ride back to the mainland. I’ve been forever tainted and can’t wait to go back 🙂

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What a gorgeous place


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I am learning

The realization that one is utterly dependent on others is an terrifying yet incredibly freeing revelation.

I’ve been leading up to this realization slowly for the past months, but today it finally registered. I can have all the passion, energy, excitement and enthusiasm, dedication, commitment, strength and ability in the world but if I am not looking to others for support, I cannot do anything. Does this make sense? It works in my brain. I CAN do it on my own, but for it to succeed, I need guidance. I have my opinions and ideals, but un-checked they can sometimes to more harm then good. Man, that’s hard to learn. Buuutt, I’m learning it. Slowly.

I am learning in so many ways. I am learning to cook, to clean, to stay organized. To appreciate people, to encourage, to let go of my expectations. Most of all I am learning to praise. To the one who sits upon the throne, be blessing and honor and glory and power forever. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I will forever be unable to change even the smallest thing without his strength and power. nope, it’s been made pretty clear lately that I suck. I am learning that I am incapable. I am learning that I will fail, and that others too will fail me. I am learning that he never will.

I am learning to be fully dependent on the hands that bled, died and rose again for me.

I write that and think… pfff, no. Really? Alicia, you are too inconstant in your faith to truthfully say that you are dependent on him. Well.. I’m not. I don’t think I ever will be. I am constantly looking for affirmation in everything BUT Jesus. But I am learning. And so, so so thankful.

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Eggs, asparagus, and a lemon tomato topping.

I am thankful for redemption, grace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion and the opportunity to try again. I am thankful for friends, I am thankful for family, I am thankful for Ben. I am thankful for Grandma’s who buy you organic, free run eggs because she knows that those qualifications are important to you. I am thankful for lunch, even if I over cook the two best parts of it. I am thankful that my first attempt to cook asparagus and poach eggs was still palatable.

Also, I never would have considered this particular food combination before but I found inspiration here and here. It is definitely something I will try again!


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tmi? tmi. a gross post.

Warning: What you are about to read dangerously flirts on the TMI!! side of personal information. Just fyi. The pictures don’t though, so feel free to look at those 🙂

TODAY I HAD A REAL HAPPY HEALTHY POOP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME!
And that is seriously good news, folks, cus let me tell you what they’ve been like these past couple of months. Actually no, I’ll pass. Ya’ll can use whats left of your imagination to figure this one out.

Backtrack. Did you know that every bowel movement has a story to tell? Lets’ say for a moment that you were able to overcome all overwhelming desires to flush and run, what would you find? Make a ring with your thumb and index finger, note the inner circumference. Now bend your wrist up and look at the distance between your wrist and inner elbow. At my very first appointment with Lynn I was absolutely shocked to find out that a “healthy poop” is supposed to be roughly the size of both those measurements, easy to pass and notably compacted. Gross eh? And seriously impossible. I mean, 1 year ago I could have counted the amount of times I have (shockingly) seen that in the water.

Turns out, it really does happen when you are healthy.

Feeling pretty healthy today eating at Terra Organica 🙂

As many of you all know, last summer was the most incredible one of my life. I finally began to have energy, an excitement for life, a new attitude and I discovered an incredible passion for healthy living. And plenty of happy healthy poops! Horray! Then came September, October, November, December, January and February. Each had their own high’s and low’s… but mostly the lows – including and not limited to a simply stated, lack of healthy poops. After seeing Lynn this month she stuck me on the most absolutely horrible tasting parasite cleansing remedy humanly possible to create. Nastttttyyy stuff to kill off nasty stuff. One of the side effects of the parasite die-off has been random debilitating stomach aches that have come with no warning after eating. I’ve had 5 of them thus far and there is nothing traceable between any circumstance – it seems there is no predictability to the pain. It has been frustrating and discouraging to feel worse when I am supposed to be feeling better howeeeevvvveeerrrrrrrr, I am feeling better! Many of my parasite causing symptoms have gone away or lessened, and everything in the toilet has been looking much more optimistic this past week (or so) I know that I have a LONG way to go, but a healthy poop is a drop in the right direction!

Ben feels healthy too! (If by healthy I mean sleepy)

Ben feels healthy too! (If by healthy I mean sleepy)

Thanks for reading through all that! I know it was probably hard for some of you. Here’s a picture of my dinner to help cheer you up! It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made but it was an absolutely delicious way to wrap up a lovely day spent with my wonderful wonderful wonderful Fiance and [parts of] my awesome family.

Happy pooping everybody!

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Gunna turn this into you-know-what!


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How do you even start to describe December? This year, December seemed to be synonymous for the words tears, temper, sickness, exhaustion, frustration, dread, sadness and agony; some for a moment, many all at once. The month started off wrong and seemed to keep going that way. And, when it improved in once facet it only got worse in another. Rejoice? Ha, not in December.

Work was absolutely nuts, there is no other way of putting it. “Getting ready for Christmas” is absolutely exhausting. What with all of the decorating, party planning, play rehearsing, present making and people pleasing. Stress, stress, stress, get it done, do it fast, then do more. Believe in yourself, believe in others, and believe in the Christmas spirit. Donate to the less fortunate, pump yourself up and feel really good about how well you do charity. Tell children about Santa, feed them candy; feed them poison, feed those lies. And make sure to give yourself a headache by riling up the children for the holidays. Have you seen Santa yet? What is Santa bringing you for Christmas? What do you want for Christmas? What are you getting? What is inside those presents underneath your Christmas tree? Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, to from, to from, spend, spend, spend. ‘Tis the season to be jolly – smile, laugh, have energy, be lively. Give everything to make you look good. Spend money you don’t have and give gifts you don’t mean while pretending your hastily written Christmas cards carry more value than you actually intend. Spread the Christmas spirit but make sure to do it quickly before time runs out.

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Nothing is simple. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is calm. No wonder why everyone is burnt out and tired.

Near the beginning of the month I had a lovely conversation with a good friend. We talked about frustrations at work and how she was not in the mood at all to celebrate Christmas. The realisation had already started to come to me that we, as Christians do not celebrate the same holiday. Christ. Christ is the holiday, not Santa, not gifts, not family, Christ. Christ, then everything else. As hard as it is to avoid the commercialism and try not to get sucked into the mindset, if we deliberately shift our focus and attitude then Christmas can be something completely different. It was hard to step back and watch rather than participate. At times I did find myself wrapped up in the false front but when I actually let that all go and thought of him, that joy started to sneak in and cover up the sickness of my heart.

Sick in the heart, sick in the body. Sick definitely was I. December was a dreadful month for my body. Starting with a terrible allergic reaction to a jacket, ending with a never-ending cold (still not fully ended), and impelled on from a cake-pop contamination before winter break. One thing after another has left me weak, tired, and quite honestly, with little hope of being better. Lies, obviously, but I have felt so physically ill and emotionally exhausted that it has been hard for me to rejoice in progress. It has been exactly 1 year (well, 1 year minus 2 days) since my journey began. 1 year since I actually began to experience life like it was intended. 1 year of incredible healing and knowledge. 1 year of growth and excitement. 1 year of strength! I have begun to run, to bike, to work out and to enjoy movement for the first time in my life. And have the energy to sustain myself through it all. All of that was taken away this December. Some days it was all I could to do to get out of bed and go to work. No running, no work out videos, no energy for the kids. No energy to clean, little energy to cook. It is hard, really hard actually, to take steps back and be stuck in the past. To get up early to work out only to go back to bed after the warm up is one of the biggest disappointments I have thus experienced. In Christ alone my hope is found; he is my light, my strength, my song.

Siblings :)

Siblings 🙂

He does not leave me alone, ever. I have so many people supporting me. From my mom to Ben to friends, Lynn and random people at the grocery store, I am always surrounded by people who have wisdom, knowledge and love to share with me. I am surrounded by people here to heal my body and people to reconcile my heart. Sometimes I am blind to my surroundings, oblivious to the encouragement that is within my reach but he always gives me a reason to look out. Just this past week, I was delighted to discover that a cousin-in-law has also been on a health journey of her own. We have some key differences but I was delighted mostly by the knowledge that I am not alone. There are other people eating for health and healing and doing it in a way that counterculture to the norm. I am not alone! Though there are people who try to understand, I think you can never fully grasp the frustration and discouragement until you actually live through. To know that I am not the only one being called cracked, crazy and dumb. It is such a relief and encouragement! Truly it is hard for most to understand how difficult it can be to live / eat this way. Awareness is different from experiencing and it seems that most cannot look at the way I eat without questioning or judging me to some extent. And I know that because one year ago I was one of the worst. But through it all, Jesus has brought me joy, peace and understanding through people like Kerry and countless others who have supported and encouraged me along the way.

Joy. Even with everything that December brought, through all my tears and exhaustion and sickness there was an unquenchable joy. In himself Jesus has given me life abundant that I may live in peace and joy free from guilt, or shame or worthlessness. He was born a child and then a king, born to set his people free!

He hasn’t left me on my own. He has blessed me beyond belief with friends and family who are all here to support me no matter what. He has given me the most incredible gift, a fiancé! On December 15, 2012 I caught a cold and I caught a fiancé. I’ll be you can guess about which I was most pleased. I am so excited to marry my best friend. Horray!! This might be my shortest paragraph but these words hold the most love and the most excitement for the future J This summer I get to be a wifey to the most amazing man I could have ever imagined being blessed to fall in love with. Blah. I love him J And miss him right now from here in the land of cold while he is at home.

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A last minute “You need a ring picture before you go!” picture

Yikes, it’s getting late and time to get this wrapped up so that I can go to bed! Although aren’t we allowed to stay up as long as we want while on vacation? I realized on the 23 that a Christmas feast just isn’t a real Christmas feast unless there is a chocolate pie to accompany dinner. And assuming (rightly) that I wouldn’t be able to eat any other desert items I decided that it was high time to make a chocolate pie.  A dairy free, sugar free, coconut milk chocolate pudding pie to be exact. It didn’t turn out quite like I wanted it to, but I’m quite sure I know where I went wrong and next time (which there will be) I’ll give it a couple of nicks. I started out trying to force people to eat the pies (I made 2) but gave up when nobody seemed interested, however by the end of the night all but a piece or two were left and many compliments were given. Thanks everyone! The recipe I followed was a hodgepodge of many and have lost my sources. My recipe will be normal with my desired modifications (for next time) bolded.

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Almond Crust

2 cup Almond flour (1 ¼ cup)
¾ cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (no tapioca)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup honey
1 egg (no egg)
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Mix wet
  2. Mix dry
  3. Pour wet into dry and mix
  4. Pat into pie tin – mixture will be very stick but harden as it cooks
  5. Bake 15 minutes at 350 in a pie tin.

Filling

2 cans coconut milk (1 whole can + 2 cans no liquid)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
¼ cup coconut oil (1/3 cup)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup cocoa powder
1 pinch cinnamon (no cinnamon – some liked the flavour but I did not)
(Gelatin – I saw some recipes that called for a bit)

1. Heat coconut milk and vanilla on stove until warm
2. Temper the eggs (Honestly, I don’t know how important this is but I followed directions for at least one of these steps :P)
3. Add cocoa powder and tapioca starch
4. Whisk continuously on medium-low until pudding starts to bubble
5. Pour into freshly baked pie tins and cool

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One day I will learn to clean as I go..

In the end I found the filling very soft, when it cooled it was a very soft pudding rather than a thicker pie. I suppose the addition of gelatin is perhaps what makes it hold shape. Other than texture though, the taste was delicious.

Time for bed, Merry (dayafter) Christmas everybody!

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I’ll leave you with lion love 🙂


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Last night Ben and I were waiting in the border line-up talking about things that God has been teaching us lately. This was the first time I had put it into words and that voice inside was at work trying to get me to keep my mouth shut. I couldn’t, it’s been bothering me for a couple off weeks now. First a gentle nudge with a simple loop back, ‘hmm, I sure would like to make that quinoa flake porridge again. The recipe is on my blog but I bet I could just make it off the top of my head.’ That happened, then there was post that I commented on, while typing my info there was an optional “website” box. Part of me considered not putting it in because we’ve been dead here since August. For some reason, I put it on anyways. That happened twice. Two weeks ago I attempted to make a batch of coconut milk egg-nog. A complete fail, but something to talk about nevertheless. Last week, I made a giant pot of rice and beans and it wasn’t ‘amazing’  but I was excited and even entertained the idea of writing about it… but I was convinced that I shouldn’t bother because of a lack of pictures. Last night I finally put it together.

It always seems to follow the same pattern -God gives me those little nudges, first gentle and spread out and then all of a sudden I can’t stop thinking about something and it keeps coming up everywhere. I like to think I’m pretty good at convincing myself that I’m just being silly or a bit more truthfully my brain will start to entertain ideas like this: “nobodywantstoreadwhatyouhavetosayaboutfoodbecauseyoudon’tknowverymuchaboutitatallbabystepsdontmatterjustgiveupuntilyou’regoodenough.” And then I stop, step back and think good enough, really? Like that will ever happen. Seriously Alicia. Jesus didn’t give you life because you were already “good enough”. You have life because HE is good enough and can take your brokenness and turn it into something beautiful. He can turn a seemingly terrible life sentence into something beautiful. In fact, he is already doing just that. Being stuck this was isn’t as awful now as it was 6 months ago- He is changing you. So don’t worry about good enough. Focus on sharing your passion and excitement and knowledge with other people. It is YOUR blog and if you write it for Him than nothing else matters.

Dinner for one :)

Dinner for one 🙂

With that in mind, tonight I made myself a garlicy salmon that sat on a bed of carrots, tomatoes, peppers, onions, leeks and lemon slices. It was pretty fantastic, I was incredibly proud of the results 🙂 Regrettably, I went the cheapo route today bought non-organic, non-local (although Canadian) tomatoes. Taste buds were happy but digestion, not as much. Note to self: organic tomatoes are a must. Or at least local because those ones don’t bother me as much.

I also made some cookies for desert. They didn’t turn out exactly the way I was hoping they would but they taste great. I smell another batch coming up soon (these ones definitely wont last!) and maybe even a new post. We are back in business over here 🙂


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Perfectionism?

It has occurred to me lately that I am more of a perfectionist than I would like to think. I already knew that I am very particular about colors and artistic projects and music, but not much else. I realized early on that during crafty activities at school and camps, I always felt inferior to others because they could accomplish a vision that I could not. I was never satisfied with what I could do because I wasn’t willing to take the time to learn how to achieve a certain skill. As I got older and started making poster boards and presentations I was always very picky about what things went where. The confidence level increased hugely, but partly because no body else in all of the high schools ever seemed to care about their posters, aka, mine was always neater and nicer. For most of my life I was too sick or tired or just plain lazy (but mostly sick and tired) to try anything new. Cooking was another world and sports were too hard. My room was always messy because I didn’t have the energy to clean it.

8 months ago, life flipped and sent me to a very new world of health, energy, passion and excitement. Slowly I became stronger, slowly I began to have energy, slowly it became possible to run up a flight of stairs without even breathing any more at the top than at the bottom. Slowly I have begun to experiment with life.

Great, right? Most of the time I love who I am becoming. I love being able to run, I love being able to eat healthy, I love being excited about what God is doing in my life, I love my friends, I love my job, I love my family and I love to try new things. Most of the time, it’s easy and natural for this new person to grow.

Turns out though, that sometimes it’s really hard. Now that I have energy, I expect myself to be able to do all these crazy things and to be able to do them really well. How is that rational? How? Seriously.

Amy and I did the Grouse Grind a couple of weeks ago and as awesome as it was, I was bummed that my time wasn’t under an hour. Because obviously 1 hour and 15 minutes  is not good enough when last year you could barely even make it up a flight of stairs. Last weekend, I picked up a tennis racket for what was probably the first time in my life, voluntarily. Overhand serving is fun, but I found myself frustrated when I could only get it in the court 2/5 times. 2/5 times is way better than never. We played soccer and I got mad because I can’t kick the ball properly. I didn’t go running this week because I was too sore from biking on Monday then was just too tired the other days so today I walked around feeling guilty. And as I am sitting here typing this pity-party for myself, I have a cake failing miserably in the oven and an ‘interesting’ pan of brownies on the stove. The kitchen is a disaster and I am trying to tell that stupid voice in my head that it doesn’t matter if they failed, I still tried and that’s more than I did before. You have a cake in the oven and brownies on the stove and a capable body to clean up the mess! Who cares if they’re funky, ya still tried, Alicia.

I am tired of comparisons and unnecessary perfectionism. I am a million times better than before. I am blessed, I am loved no matter what, I am trying and you can’t get better if you doing fail. I think that’s my lesson for right now. God has a plan for me and I bet he’s just saving the blessing of ‘knowing how to make a perfect grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free, chocolate cake’ for another day.