Trip To Tobermory!

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Our Bus and Trailer beside a transport truck, we’re longer!

About two weeks ago, at around eight o’clock in the morning, my whole family packed up our mini-bus and camper-trailer, and headed off to Tobermory!

We drove for about three hours until we got to Owen Sound, where we stopped and met the lovely couple who run a bed and breakfast, called The Highland Manor, where my dad stays when he works there. The bed and breakfast is a beautiful eighteenth century mansion, and it felt like I had stepped back in time a hundred years, it was amazing! Another thing that was interesting about it was that years before, a midwife had owned the building, and used it for a maternity hospital; a safe place for women to give birth.  I found that especially interesting, as I want to be a midwife myself!

After about an hour, we said goodbye and got on our way again.

When we got to our campground, two families we knew were already there; five families (us and four other families) had planned to stay at the same campground. We said ‘hello’ and started setting up our site.

All the families got together that night for a campfire, and that was a great way to start out the camping trip!

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Campfire

Over the next three days, we got to enjoy some really fun experiences, including; swimming in the campground’s pool, playing ‘Capture the Flag’, playing frisbee, having campfires, walking everywhere barefoot, testing out some campfire snack ideas, going to ‘the Grotto’, going to the Singing Sands beach, and a lot of other things!

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Enjoying a break from our hike!

The Grotto is a beach on the Bruce Peninsula, it is all rocky with huge stone cliffs, and caves with water for their floor! It was beautiful there, a very worthwhile place to visit if you are ever in Tobermory!

Singing Sands beach is also very neat, when we were there the air was cold and the water was warm, which made the water actually steam!

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Singing Sands Beach

There was a beautiful trail made out of wooden boards, and while walking on it, me and one of my friends noticed a strange kind of flower with rubbery petals, we wondered what it was. After walking for a bit longer, we realized it was the flower of a kind of Pitcher-Plant, then we ran back and told the rest of our families and friends.

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The strange flowers!

The Pitcher-Plants’ leaves, which are the reason for its name, are shaped like little pitchers, inside the leaf; tiny hairs point downwards, the leaves are half-filled with some kind of liquid that helps digest bugs that fall into this amazing flytrap! I think it is amazing how God thinks of everything!

I read on a sign at the end of the trail, that even the smooth, tall stem of the flower helps bugs to slip down into the leaves, and the tiny hairs that point down make it almost impossible for insects to escape, then the plant digests them! The sign also said since sometimes soil is missing a certain kind of nutrient that plants need, not a lot of plants can live in those places, but since bugs are full of the nutrient, Pitcher-Plants are able to grow where not a lot of that kind of nutrient in the soil! Isn’t God amazing?

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The trail that we saw Pitcher-Plants by!

After four days and four nights, everyone packed up and headed home again, but since renovations were still going on at our new house, one family asked if we wanted to camp at their house for a night, we excepted, and had a fun night and half-day at their house, then we headed home, (though we did stop at a park for a picnic supper!).

When we got home, everyone was tired, sticky, itchy, sandy, dirty, and sweaty, but everyone was glad to be home! (And I admit I’m glad to not be sleeping on the pull-out couch in the main room of our trailer, which also happened to be right in front of the front door!) After all that fun and excitement, I’m certainly glad to be home!

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My trailer bed!

Thank you Jesus for such a great trip!

Rainstorms

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Beautiful clouds!

A few days ago, my mom and dad decided that we should go to the beach, and we all thought it was a great idea, because it was a warm day and all of us were sweating! We got into our swimsuits, put my four youngest siblings in two double-strollers, packed up some beach-toys, and started walking.

As we walked, we kept glancing over in the direction of the lake; dark, angry clouds were rolling towards us from over the lake. We walked quickly, hoping either that the storm would pass by us, or that we would at least get a few minutes at the beach, and a dry walk home. We got to the beach entrance, and ran down the sand to the water. Above the lake, dark grey clouds brooded; a long, caterpillar-like cloud seemed to be the leader of them; pulling them towards the shore, and towards us.

As I stood in awe, looking up at the approaching storm clouds, and listening to the thunder, I knew I had a choice between being afraid, or being amazed. I knew I could flee from the storm, or run into it.

I ran into it.

I ran into the water and stood in it; I was not afraid. I knew that God protected me, God protected my family, and nothing could hurt us.

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A storm approaching our old house

Some of my brothers and my dad, ran out until the water reached their waists, and dove under, we were all laughing as me and my mom ran out into the water. As soon as everyone who wanted to get wet was wet, we turned around and started running home, we all started feeling little sprinkles of rain, so we packed the four youngest into the strollers again, threw some towels over them, and continued running. The rain started pounding down, and I ran as fast as I could. The rain stung my face and neck, so I covered my face with my arms and kept running, I smiled and laughed all the way home.

When my whole family got home, we all gathered in the garage; everyone was soaked and laughing. We all got changed and got cozy for a family movie-night, but when we looked outside again, it had stopped raining completely! So, we hung up our wet swimsuits and let them dry on the clothesline.

A few days earlier, my dad took six of my younger siblings for a bike-ride, to our local community center to play at the playground there, and two of my other brothers were out looking for edible wild-plants. That left me, my mom, and my older brother Dorian at home; we thought it would be nice if we could bike down to the park with a picnic lunch, and eat it there. So my mom packed up a delicious lunch, and sent it with Dorian, who unicycled to the park a little before be biked there. After Dorian left, we finished up a few things, strapped on our helmets, got on our bikes, and headed off!

When we got to the park, we found everyone playing happily on the playground, but we had just parked our bikes, when we started feeling little drops of rain. I took my one-year-old sister Nova out of the baby-swing, and ran to the nearby pavilion; it looked like it had only been made a year before, and had a bunch of nice, new, (and perfectly long) picnic-tables. We sat at one of the tables, and started eating lunch. Outside it started raining heavily, it rained the whole time we were eating lunch, but then the rain stopped, and the sun came out, just as we were finishing up!

I find it interesting that the first time God made it rain, He perfectly timed it so that we would be under a shelter the whole time it rained, and the rain didn’t hinder us in any way, and the second time, He perfectly timed it that we would be out during the rain, and have shelter after the rain was over!

I love rainstorms, and I love being in them, I love hearing the thunder, and seeing the lightning, and seeing the plants watered. When there is a thunderstorm, the grass and trees always seem more bright, green and alive! Every time I hear thunder, I think of how mighty, and powerful, and strong our God is! So strong that even storms are under His control!

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Clouds!

Sunset

 

Last night, me, my brother Dorian, and my dad, went biking around our new neighborhood, (actually Dorian was on his 36″ wheel unicycle, here is his blog post about it). We had been biking for a while, when I noticed the colour of the sky; the horizon, where the sun was about to go down, was a beautiful mixture of bright pink, orange and yellow. I asked my dad if we could bike down to see the sunset, and he thought it was good idea, so we started biking west.

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Since we have been staying at our new house by the beach, we have been able to go to the beach a lot, as our new house is only a ten minute walk from the beach.

When we got to the beach, the sky was amazing; above us, dark clouds rolled, to the west and north the brilliant colours of the sunset shone in a thin line on the horizon, the sun was still behind the dark clouds, but that didn’t hold back its light!_DSC0106

A little while later, we biked back to a pier, that is about one minute from our new house, and met two of my other brothers there. We walked out on the pier and watched the sun sink into the lake. We got some photos, but none of them could even get close to matching the glory and majesty of the view!

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It was amazing to see the sun sinking quickly, and yet slowly, at the same time, I don’t think I could ever get tired of watching the sun set! I’m amazed at how God’s creativeness; how He can make hundreds and thousands of sunsets, and yet not one is the same as another. IMG_3734

Some sunsets are beautiful because of the many colours, others are because of the beautiful clouds, others are because of their beautiful surroundings, and some are beautiful because of a mix of all those. Imagine the sun sinking behind a mountain range, or on a prarie, or a lake, or a forest! _DSC0087

Just think, God could have made just one kind of sunset, God could have made the sun set behind blank, grey clouds every night. But instead he creates each sunset new and unique every night! God is so amazing, and seeing the magic He puts into things that happen every day makes me love Him more and more!

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Funny quote:

My little brothers; Tobin and Tucker, probably about 7 and 5 at the time:
Tucker: “What is the Grand Canyon?”
Tobin: “A place you go to see the sunset!”

Sparkles & Dirt

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Ducks & Geese

About five days ago, my family hitched up our big camping-trailer to our mini-bus, packed them both up with blankets, pillows, food, books, clothes, and a few extra mattresses, and set off for four days of adventure!

We drove for about two hours, until we got to our destination; the Meyers’ house.  The Meyers are great friends of ours, and they also have ten kids (and happen to own a mini-bus almost exactly the same as ours!). We set up the camper, unpacked a bit, and played for a few hours, then went to bed.

In the next three-and-a-half days, we had a great time; making dioramas (more about that later!), foraging for fiddle-heads, ‘garage-saling’, making dandelion jelly (that didn’t actually work very well), making apple-crisp and strawberry-banana ice-cream, playing uncountable games of ‘kick-the-can’ (kick the soccer-ball, actually 🙂 ), kayaking, canoeing, playing with Guinea Pigs, taking care of little children, swinging in hammocks, doing the horse’s hair, and playing one, epic, late-night game of ‘Capture-the-Flag’ with both the dads!

There were a few not-so-enjoyable parts as well, like burning myself multiple times on a hot glue-gun, or when I tripped and grabbed the nearest tree, which also happened to be covered in inch-long thorns, but I personally think that the god times utterly drown out the bad.

One day, me and my two friends, Piper Meyer, and Winter Meyer, walked for about a kilometer, in search of fiddle-heads – fiddle-heads are baby ferns, that are still rolled up. We sold them to a man who sold them to fancy restaurants. We found a really good place for picking them, and were probably gone for two or three hours, just picking and picking! In the end, we had about eight pounds altogether.

Also, Me, Piper, Winter, and my little sister Snowy, all went boating in the river in a kayak and a canoe; we paddled for a long time, probably and hour, until we came to a bridge, where we stopped and pulled the boats up on land, and the two dads picked us tired, black-fly covered girls up (I actually put a bag over my head, to keep black-flies out of my face!).

Me and Winter also put up the mini-horse’s tail, mane, and forelock, I braided her mane, Winter braided her forelock, and I did a fishtail-braid in her tail. That was fun, as none of my little sisters have hair that long or that thick!

We did a bunch of activities like those, but the one craft we were mainly working on, was making dioramas. A diorama is a mini-landscape – ours were made out of foam, glue, paint, glue, wire, tooth-picks, glue, hairspray, kitty-litter, glue, a few materials made especially for diorama-making, and some people used glitter. Oh, and lots of glue!

First, we cut out our platforms, and rocks out of foam, then, we glued the ‘rocks’ to our platforms with a glue-gun.  The thing is, if you want it to look more realistic, you want to cut out tiny little pieces, to look like rises and hills. Next, we glued on burlap, with the glue-gun, and pushed it into all the cracks we wanted to see, then, with a paintbrush, we painted white glue all over it, to make the burlap hard.

Once the glue was dried we painted whatever color each person wanted. I painted one of mine white (for snow) and the other one dark-green, light-green and gold. We also painted our rocks grey, though I painted mine silver (most of us left our rocks alone, not covering them with burlap). Then the fun really began! We sprinkled this powder-dust that looks like moss when you put it on, and then we sprayed hairspray on it to make it stick!

We made trees from tooth-picks, wire, paint, and another kind of chunky moss-like stuff, that was for making trees and bushes. I made two rivers, out of glue-gun glue, white glue, and blue and glitter, and it turned out better than I thought it would! It was really fun to be so creative, and be able to make your own little world!

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All of the people who made dioramas!

After four wonderful days and four tired nights, filled with the noise of two large families, we are back at home again. I personally, looking forward to my warm, cozy bed, because every time I woke up on the little pull-out couch in the trailer, I would feel really cold!

After four amazing, dirty, muddy, wet, happy, fun, slimy, cold, windy, sparkly, warm, sticky, dusty, cozy days, with twenty-three amazing other people, I’m glad to be home!

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Home at last!

 

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad’s 42nd birthday, and I wanted to make his birthday cake, so I doubled a gluten-free brownie recipe, you can find the recipe here, and then I made a doubled recipe of chocolate avocado icing, the recipe for it is here.

And then I made up a sort of raspberry sauce, with raspberries, maple-syrup, coconut oil, and some cashews soaked in water for a few minutes. I blended them all up together , then I spread some of it on the bottom layer of the cake, set the second layer on, and then covered the sides and top with chocolate icing.

For the raspberry sauce, I was originally going to use a toothpick, and make one of those pretty patterns using two kinds of slightly watery icing, but both the icing and the sauce were too thick, so I tried piping it, with supplies from a cake-decorating set I got for my birthday a few years ago. The piping worked out well, though I did need to put the bag in the freezer to thicken it up! Dad hasn’t seen the cake yet, so I am hoping it will be a surprise at suppertime… Happy Birthday Dad!!!

IMG_0141My brother, Dorian, also writes about his birthday cake, which is the same recipe minus the raspberry sauce, in his blog, Scouting From Home

Soap Success

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Preparing to make soap!

A few days ago, I made soap – me and my mom learned how to a few years ago. I decided I wanted to try making coffee-scented soap, so I started by making some coffee.

 

Then I measured out the correct amounts of coconut oil and olive oil and put them into our ‘soap machine’ (a crock-pot dedicated to soap-making) and turned it to high. (Actually, a funny little story about that, is that I had plugged the crock-pot into one of those outlets that is connected to a light switch, and some considerate sibling or parent saw a light on in the corner, and decided to turn it off, which also turned off the crock-pot, so there was a bit of confusion there!)

img_0149Once I got the oils melting, I moved on to the more dangerous part of soap-making; the part where you pour Sodium Hydroxide into water. Sodium Hydroxide, or lye, is a chemical that burns but it is also the ingredient that makes hard soap soapy! Pouring lye into water almost immediately makes the water boiling hot, the lye crystals are shaped like tiny balls, so lye-dust sometimes floats up in the air, and you don’t want to breath it in.

I got my goggles and disposable gloves on, and got ready to measure the correct amounts of lye and coffee, (since I was making coffee soap, I decided to use coffee instead of water. I have also used apple-cider instead of water, and you can use tea and other water-like liquids for substitutes as well) I measured the coffee into a large liquid measuring cup, and then measured the lye into a smaller one, (all the measuring is done by weight) and then slowly poured the lye into the coffee, while gently stirring with a whisk. The coffee started steaming, and I had to be careful not to breath in the steam. I set the burning hot lye-coffee mixture outside to cool, and waited for all the coconut oil to melt. Both mixtures are supposed to be about the same temperature before you mix them together, so I brought the lye-coffee mix inside, so that it wouldn’t cool too much.

img_0155When all the oil was finally melted, I poured the lye and coffee into the crock-pot with the oils, and blended it with a handheld stick blender, (it is also dedicated to soap-making). Then came the long part, where you wait for it to become the right consistency, stirring/blending it every now and then. First it should feel like mashed potatoes, then applesauce, and then after a while it will become the right consistency, this part of the process might take half an hour.

Then , when it was just right, I turned off the crock-pot, which had been on high the whole time, poured in a bit of coffee essential oil, and a bit of vanilla essential oil, and dumped the soap mixture -which was getting more firm- into a parchment-papered soap tray and patted it down with a spatula, then I sprinkled the top with golden-sprinkle-dust, made especially for soap and make-up making, and with a fork, I mixed it into the top of the soap, but I didn’t mix it into the bottom, because it looks a little bit like gold-dust rain in the soap. Then I put the lid on the soap mold, and let it set for a day or two.

img_0170After it had set, my dad cut it into nice little soap bars. and that was it! It’s good to let it sit for a few more days after it is cut, so the inside can get harder. Then you can use it, knowing that you made it, and also knowing all the ingredients that are in it!

 

Our Trip!

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On the day after Christmas, my whole family got into our mini-bus, and drove out of our driveway at 4:30 AM exactly. We drove twelve hours, slept at a hotel for the night, and then got on our way the next day. We drove for six hours and finally got to our destination; Gulf Shores, Alabama.

That night, when it was still pretty light out, me, my dad, and a few of my siblings walked to the beach. It was so amazing, I had been in the ocean maybe three times before, when our family went to Nova Scotia, but I was pretty little, and I was also terrified at the thought that I was being held up by a life jacket and nothing else (I couldn’t swim!).

In Alabama it was different; instead of the wharf in Nova Scotia, it was a beautiful beach with millions of shells (literally!). On the beach that night, I tried to take a picture with my waterproof camera.  The flash was on, and it was really neat, because my camera took pictures of the water droplets in the air, and sometimes in the mornings when I walked around, I could feel drops of water in the air.

The next day, when we went to the beach again, we found that the sand is a different texture than fresh water sand, it is salty and it feels clean. The shells are mostly clam-like,  there are a few different styles, but mostly they are just broken pieces of big ones.

The first day our whole family went, I prayed that I would find a swirly-style shell, and on the last day I found one! I find it amazing, how God can take a little tiny request, that didn’t matter at all, and use it to build my faith.

I also found the waves majestic, as they didn’t just lap up on shore, like they when we go to Port Franks, instead they crash and foam, and it is beautiful. We never actually got to swim in the ocean, because the undertow was too strong, but despite that, we had an awesome time playing in the sand, collecting shells, jumping around in the water, and enjoying God’s world!