On my husband, beans in brownies, and lake life

My husband

13 years ago this weekend Dan and I were married in our backyard.

I was 28, he was 40, and it was a second marriage for us both.

Dan’s brother, David, performed the ceremony in our backyard,

marriage commissioner for a day.

Ours was a whirlwind of a courtship.

By our second date we had determined that we were getting married, which was a complete surprise to us both given that neither of us were convinced that marriage was a direction in which we wanted to head again.

However, I found myself quite suddenly smitten with this man who did terribly romantic things

like leaving a new duvet for me to find in my entry when I came home from work, because I had said that my apartment was cold at night,

and he wined and dined me to no end.

Our first Christmas together, Dan took me to Paris which was where he officially proposed . He had planned to find some romantic venue (Paris has a few),

but he was so excited to pop the big question that it spilled out of him as soon as we arrived at our hotel.

It wasn’t, however, those grand sweeping gestures that won me over (though they are wonderful memories),
rather what I fell in love with were things such as,

the first time we spoke on the phone Dan told me within the first five minutes that he had an 8-year-old daughter that meant the world to him,

he often phoned my mom in the evening to share with her news from his day,

he was still great friends with his ex-wife and her parents,

he was passionate about art, beauty, our world,

and was deeply committed to always being and doing better…..

These things convinced me of his character,
and I felt assured that our life together would be an adventure, a mutual journey of learning, discovery, play, love,


It has not always been easy.

We have needed to learn about building a healthy relationship, and we have already been through so much,

but how lucky am I,
to have someone who believes in me, cheers me on and cherishes me completely?

We have our moments, but with every big decision we are on the same page.

With you, my dear, there is never a dull moment, or lack of expression.
You know how to play and dream, your generosity is limitless, and your talents still move me.
Happy Anniversary to the man who loves me as much a woman can be loved,

is a wonderful father to our kids,

and who taught me that lighting is everything.



After a couple of weeks of eating a ton of junk food,

I decided that our summer could not be entirely comprised of chips, pop, candy and such.

I pulled out my healthier eating cookbooks, made a big shopping list and headed back to the city to stock up on groceries galore.

Back in Waterton, I started experimenting with healthier recipes again.

I made ‘Trail Mix Cookies’ from Joyous Health by Joy McCarthy to start with (positively delicious!), Creamy Avocado Potato Salad from Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon (also fabulous) and successfully offered my family fresh berries with whipped coconut milk for desserts (omg, have you tried this!?)




However, things fell apart when I made ‘Black Bean Chia Brownies’ (Joyous Health) the other day and George said to me once they were ready,

‘You didn’t put anything stupid in these brownies, did you?’

‘I have no idea what you are talking about, and that’s not a nice word to be using to talk about my food,’ I replied.

I knew that my game was up, though, when the kids and their friends all bit into the said brownies. Olivia’s friend Georgia politely tried to tell me that they were fine, but my own two were gagging dramatically. Piper, the oldest in the group, said,

‘Karen, are there beans in these brownies?’

My reply was my fit of laughter. You can imagine how my children responded.

Oh well, I think the brownies are quite sophisticated and chocolately and black beany-delicious, and my kids can always stand to have their taste buds broadened,

much to their dismay.

Peace in the kitchen is a process,

and food exploration unapologetically delights me.

Lake Life

We have been blessed these last few weeks with spectacular weather. All is still, hot, and gorgeous.

It has been the kind of weather that wants to be held onto, savoured, and absorbed into every pore.

We have spent more time at the lake,

and as I watch my kids swim, boat, skip rocks, climb the boulders and cliffs, and lie on the beach,

I remember my own similar childhood experiences from summer holidays and camping trips.

I am so grateful that my kids get to experience nature, too, in ways that I did,

as I now know there are few and rare moments in life that are so free, real, and precious.







On Superpowers, Spring, and my Chocolate Fix

Every week I am going to speak to three topics: anecdotes, books, ideas, products, or innovations that I believe are peace-building, heart-opening, community-celebrating, love-spreading vehicles. Complaining and criticizing are easy traps to fall into, but I am convinced that building up holds far more power and transformative energy.

So, my sweet friends, here goes…Our world is a beautiful village and peace does begin at home.

What I am thinking about / loving this week….


A recent art journaling activity from the online Brene Brown course I am taking asked participants to ‘identify their superpower’. Another article I came across this week also concidentally talked about the value of tapping into and acknowledging the idea of your ‘superpower’,

in other words that one shiniest part of you that comes utterly naturally.

An intriguing question….one that, to be honest,

left me sitting there not sure how to move forward with the assignment,

because this question was actually asking me to delve far deeper than simply identifying what I am good at, or where my talents and strengths lie.

What is my –


What is that thing, that most in-the-groove part of me, that comes easily and truly and freely, and always has. To delve deeper, it’s not even really about something that I ‘do’, though it partly is. It’s also about who I am

Spiderman, after all, just is Spiderman.

Take Alex’s boyfriend fiance (more about that next week!), Ryland.

He is a brilliant songwriter..


The lyrics he writes that pour out of him astonish us,

every time.

The wisdom and beauty and clarity that he is able to convey and encapsulate through his story and song are nothing less than inspired gifts.

But here’s the thing. His superpower isn’t necessarily singing and songwriting, though these are certainly wonderful and natural byproducts of his superpower.

His superpower is his ‘voice’, his need for and his abilities around,


Not being quite sure what my superpower was, I asked my family members what they thought.

What ensued was the greatest discussion about not only my superpowers, but also identifying everybody’s superpowers.

It can be a beautiful and uplifting thing to hone in on someone’s superpower. It’s also surprisingly simple, because it all just seems so obvious when you are looking at another, especially someone you know and love.

It’s not that people can be simply summed up, because of course they can’t, and perhaps who we are even changes over time,

but it is still easier than you might think to speak to the unique essence of a person…

their loveliest, who-they-are and what-they-have-to-offer-the-world part.

Olivia needs to move creatively.

George is deeply curious and concerned about the natural world.

Alex is incredibly perceptive and brings clarity.

Dan is sensitive to his environment.

These individual ways of being are so unique and deeply rooted that they are also our ‘Kryptonite’, as Brene Brown would put it. Our deepest challenges are often part and parcel of our superpower journeys,

that ultimately can’t be denied,

and there is such precious empowerment in owning our fullest best versions of ourselves.

oh, how I love this stuff.


Spring on our street

Something really special happens every year on our street around May,

in this part of the world where much of our year is so cold and daunting.

Our street is a one-way, and so it is narrow. Also, there are not a lot of garages out front as the houses are older. Our boulevards, then, are close and inviting and traffic is limited.

So when the weather starts to warm up, people slowly and surely start to emerge from their houses.

The kids, of course, are first. They fling out of the houses and knock on each others’ front doors, chasing each other, chatting, skateboarding and scooting down the sidewalk.

The family next door has just set up a trampoline, so the sounds are also of screeching and jumping,


The adults follow, less uninhibited and busier, but still happier to spend more lingering minutes visiting in the sunshine.

We are often walking now in the evenings too.

Last week we met the toddler grandson of the neighbours down the street, and he and his grandpa followed us all the way to the park

and back.

For days, Olivia and George relayed the hilarious things this little boy had said and remembered him wildly jumping in the puddle.

It also seems inviting, now, to sit on my steps as I talk on the phone and watch the springtime action,

the leaves that are finally greening this very week,

and feel the warmth of the sun.

These are little things, it seems, but really not so little –

they speak to the annual re-building, re-birthing, and re-affirming of this peaceful community of neighbours.



My Chocolate Fix

I never really set out to write about food. After all, does the Internet really need one more person commenting on food,

and posting recipes and pictures of what they just ate?

Probably not, but alas here I sit unable to resist adding my bit to the masses.

To be honest, I have always felt that making and sharing meals is possibly our most meaningful and celebratory social activity.

This week, however, I made something that I didn’t share with anyone.

I was tired this week. Maybe I was fighting off a virus, but I just could not sustain any reasonable level of momentum or energy.

So, I did what any sane woman in my situation would do as she was trying to get through an afternoon or two of writing, book-keeping, and emails before her embarkment on the after-school weekday driving to and from activities shift….

I looked for quick and easy avenues to  good quality chocolate.

Though I was low on energy,

I did have in my kitchen reserves some soft speckled bananas, ripe avocados, and a container of fine dark cocoa that Patricia at Umami introduced me to. I blended all three in my treasured Vitamix and



This is the rich beautiful chocolatey ‘healthier’ deliciousness that magically resulted.

I have tried several versions of this pudding, but this recipe was the easiest and creamiest. If your bananas are over-ripe you really don’t need any kind of sweetener at all and you will be meeting your craving in less than five minutes.

Totally satisfying.

Here is the link to the recipe I used, from All Recipes.

Eat whilst drinking a cup of of lovely green tea, and you will get through your afternoon. You will.
























On Rainbow Looming, Sending out Love, and ‘Oh She Glows’

Every week I am going to speak to three subjects: books, ideas, people, products, or innovations that I believe are peace-building, heart-opening, community-celebrating, love-spreading vehicles. Complaining and criticizing are such easy traps to fall into, but I am convinced that ‘building up’ holds far more power and transformative energy.

So, my sweet friends, here goes….Our world is a beautiful village and peace does begin at home.

1) Rainbow Looming

Rainbow Looming has been BIG in our house as of late. Admittedly, this makes me happy. It just does. I love watching my kids engaged in a craft for hours. I love it because they are so hyper-focused on something that feels peaceful and almost meditative.

All the time we hear that kids today are crazy distracted, screen obsessed, and lack creativity, and yet, there my two sit on the living room carpet researching new designs online and experimenting with colour and design for hours.

I know they are not the only ones. My sister-in-law tells me stories of  tween hockey players looming away their bus trips and a few weeks ago the friendly cashier at Michaels told me that their new shipments of elastics always sell out in just a few days.

To be honest, I am a little jealous of the looming kids. I yearn to jump head-on into a project or craft, losing all sense of time, yet ….distractions and places to be inevitably pull at me before I have the time to sink my teeth into anything.

A dabbler in so many things I remain.

There is something so simple, calming, and inspiring in weaving away the hours with colored elastics.

2) Sending out Love

The other night we all watched the news together before supper, which we never do. Here’s how that little ‘family activity’ ended:

Olivia was in tears, worried that a major meteor might soon hit the earth and kill us all. I was completely shaken for the rest of the night by the image of the grieving families of the missing Malaysian aircraft passengers. George heard the word ‘war’  while the situation in Crimea was being discussed and went into his own tailspin of worry.

I decided then that, for us, watching the news is certainly not peace-building. We can inform ourselves of current events but refrain from having our senses and sense of peace inundated.

Here’s the thing. I am simply not going to be the one who is going to solve any of these problems, nor is Dan.

There are people and initiatives working to solve all sorts of crises as we speak but for the most part, these things are not even within our scope of influence or proper understanding.

Here’s what we can do though.

We can write letters and sign petitions supporting causes we believe in and offer support through donations of time and/or funds.

I can continue to blog about peace-building because writing is what I know how to do.

Dan can design beautiful spaces that lift spirits and he can always aspire to maintain integrity, along with his partners, in running their business, because that’s what he can contribute.

We can both extend kindnesses in all sorts of spontaneous and planned ways as we move through our day,

and we can ALL send out deeply loving collective thoughts or prayers to families and countries experiencing times of unimaginable loss and or uncertainty.

3) The ‘Oh She Glows’ Cookbook

I bought this cookbook by Angela Liddon because I couldn’t tear myself away from it. It is simply beautiful – both text and images.

It is a vegan cookbook. To be clear we are not vegan, rather just trying to eat less white flour, less sugar, less meat, less of all the things that you are supposed to eat less of.

I love and celebrate all food, especially food that is prepared with love and creativity, whatever that looks like (don’t get me wrong -butter is my friend),

but if it is healthy than all the better for all of us.

This book makes me want to eat at this elevated level of goodness every single day.

Last night after supper I made the apple crisp. Without exaggerating, Dan ate half the pan in one sitting.  For all you apple crisp lovers out there (and I know there are legions of you) this recipe is divine!  Best apple crisp ever.  And…. it includes ingredients like chia seeds, almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil…

Don’t even get me started on the ‘crispy almond butter chocolate chip cookies’, the ‘vanilla chia pudding’, or the ‘ultimate nutty granola clusters’. (I know – My cravings have been on the ‘sweet’ spectrum this week)

Oh, this book glows.