Favorite Things Right Now 2011

Okay, everybody! It’s my birthday today, so it’s time for my birthday tradition (started by my mom when I was a little kid) of listing all of my favorite things right now, as I enter a new year of my life. (To see last year’s favorites, go here.)

Surprisingly, it was more difficult to make my list this year than it was last year, for a few reasons: 1) Last year, I had never publicly made a list, so it was easy to think of things no one knew about. 2) I also made a small list half way through this last year, and I should not have done that! Save it all for the birthday, and make it easier for myself!!

However, I have managed to think of some significant things that I’ve added to my life that have provided increasing joy, and so now I will share them with you:

1. Favorite Snack: Macadamia Nuts

I loooooooove these nuts. Too bad they cost an arm and a leg. And a foot. The rest of the family loves them, too, so we kind of have to ration them around here or else our entire grocery budget would go into macadamia nuts. But maybe no one would mind…. (Bulk Barn is the cheapest place to buy macadamia nuts, in case you’re wondering.)

2. Favorite Place to Shop: Value Village!

While writing this post last summer, I did some long, hard thinking about my shopping habits. I used to shop at Value Village occasionally, but stopped because my pride likes to go to the mall better. I like to buy new stuff. But since I wanted to make some changes in my purchasing choices, I gave Value Village a try again last fall, and I was hooked. Here are the reasons why I love shopping at there:

  • Our clothing budget goes so much farther.
  • It’s a one-stop-shop! I can buy clothes for the girls, Ben, or myself, as well as pick up some summer reading and home decorating items, all at one place!
  • I love the thrill of the hunt. The Mennonite in me just loves to find a great deal. I think I feel like I’m actually working for my purchase when I hunt through a pile of junk to find a real treasure.
  • It is very environmentally friendly to shop there. There is so much stuff in the world already, so it’s great to reuse what we can. And anytime new clothes are made, they “off-gas” chemicals for a long time after. When I shop at Value Village, some children I don’t know have already run around in those clothes during the off-gassing stage so that it doesn’t have to happen while my children are wearing them. (I know that some people would think that’s ridiculous, but I still think it’s a nice perk.)
  • It is usually cheaper to buy slightly used, brand name, good quality stuff at Value Village than it is to buy cheap quality, non-brand name stuff brand new.

And to make things ever better, you can now become a member, and get coupons! This makes my world extremely happy – coupons that make cheap clothes cheaper. Then I have more money to spend on the stuff that we can’t get a deal on.

If we lived in civilization, I might really love garage sales, but as long as we live at camp, the garage sales are very far away, and only on certain days. Value Village is always waiting there for me.

3. Favorite Date Night: A movie, followed by sweet potato fries at Montana’s if we’re in the city, and if we’re at home, an episode of Heartland or Everwood, and fresh veggies with hummus.

I know that I wrote about the wonders of Heartland in last year’s “Favorite Things” post, but I have never introduced you to Everwood, our first TV love. Four seasons of pure wonderfulness. (Well, things get a little sketch in Season 3, but they make up for it in Season 4.)


It is just such a great show. Season 3 arrived at Costco recently, so that’s what Ben and I are watching these days. One episode a week – Ben is very disciplined about stretching out the enjoyment, rather than watching all of the episodes right away.

I used to feel really guilty about the fact that I enjoy movies and stuff so much, but I read recently that people who love to write and read usually love watching movies, as well. It’s all about a good story. I don’t have much use for TV, though, with the exception of Everwood and Heartland.

4. Favorite New Movie: I would have to say Tangled. It was the best movie I saw this last year, which is a bit weird since it’s Anika’s favorite too, so I feel a little juvenile in that choice. But my goodness. I left the movie theatre with that happy, satisfied feeling you get when the story ended perfectly, and the whole thing was just pure pleasure.


5. Favorite Way to Exercise: Pilates!


I tried pilates years ago, and thought it was boring. And silly – “rolling like a ball”??? Please. What kind of exercising is that?

But my physiotherapist (whom I love so much that I’ll keep going to see her for appointments even once I’m healed, just so I can spend time with her) told me to start doing pilates to help with my pelvic/hip problems, and I am so, so glad I listened to her. It has made the hugest difference in my life. Last year, yoga was my favorite, but pilates has surpassed that. Now I alternate yoga and pilates. I’m working my way up to resistance training….It’s my goal to have that on my list of favorites for next year!

6. Favorite New Recipe: Mediterranean Bean Salad

I eat embarrassing amounts of this stuff – for lunch, supper, snack….I haven’t had it for breakfast yet, though! But it’s a good one. And very easy, fast and cold for in summer.

1 1/3 cups barley, cooked (I leave this out, or add cooked millet)
1 1/3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1 1/3 cups white beans, cooked
3 bell peppers of various colors (orange, yellow, red), chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together barley, garbanzo beans, white beans and veggies. In a seperate bowl, mix basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

Add dressing to bean mixture. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*I found this recipe somewhere on the internet, but can’t remember where.

7. Favorite New Book: The Happiness Project

But you probably already knew that, because I wrote about it here.

8. Favorite New Blog: Oh She Glows

Interestingly enough, this is a food blog that contains strictly vegan recipes. I would never have thought that would excite me, because I am not vegan, but I can eat a surprising amount of things posted there, the pictures are beautiful, and the food is healthy! Of course I have a bunch of old favorite blogs, but this one stands out in my mind as being the new one that I look forward to reading the most right now.

And what is it with me and recipes?? Ben and I had 15 luxurious minutes in a book store on Saturday, and out of all the wonderful choices available to me there, I spent the entire time looking at recipe books! Of foods that I can’t even eat!!

9. Favorite Resolution That I Kept This Last Year: Do everything I can to improve my health.

Last spring, I sat down and made a list of everything I could possibly do to improve all of the little things causing discomfort and sickness in my life. I decided that I was tired of dealing with it all, and I was going to take charge.

I found health care professionals in every area that was necessary, made some very big changes in my life, and went to hundreds of appointments. I met some amazing people who have helped me in ways that I never imagined were possible. Here’s my list:

  • Jamie Angus @ Donna Sarna Physiotherapy for pelvic/hip problems
  • Dr. Marianne Hembroff @ The Nature Doctors for general health/Candida stuff
  • Dr. Steven Lawson for TMJ
  • Dr. Gupta @ Fort Garry Foot Clinic for orthodics
  • Renee @ Fort Garry Foot Clinc and Raffaela Pingitore @ Body Serene Massage Therapy for massages

That list looks really insane, but some of these doctors I only needed to see a few times.

I am so glad I did it. I feel really different than I did at this time a year ago, and I am very, very thankful.

Now I need to come up with some resolutions for this next year…

And that’s the list for this year of my life! And now I’m curious…

What are your favorite things right now? I need some ideas of new things to try for this next year…


I came home last night, flopped down on the couch and cried.

Actually, I didn’t just cry – I sat there and wailed to Ben about all the things that are frustrating me right now. And everything that frustrates me right now has to do with Tuesdays!

Tuesday is the day that we go into the city every week. Ben’s parents’ neighbors joke that they always know it’s Tuesday when they see the grandchildren playing in the back yard.

Spending time with family on a regular is one of the good things about Tuesdays. So is four hours of time talking with Ben while we drive.

But seriously? The errands and appointments and hours spent in the van is just wearing me down.

Most of the time I try to have a good attitude. I try not to feel sorry for myself. I try to find creative ways to make running errands look attractive for my “picture a day” project that I’m working on. But really, how many ways can you photograph “running errands in the city”?

Here’s some of my collection:

I’m trying to do my best.

But in all honesty, on some days, I feel like it’s all more than I can handle.

Yesterday was one of those days.

And Ben patiently listened, and said a few encouraging words, but wisely realized that there wasn’t much to be said. He made me tea, and turned on an episode of Heartland for me to watch while he cleaned up all the groceries.

(I really love him. Not just because he does stuff for me, but that’s very nice, too!)

And I calmed down, and was able to get all the emotions under control again.

So the point of all that? Not to whine or to try to make you all feel sorry for me.

It’s more of an effort to be real. I can post a million pictures of a perfect-looking life, and gorgeous scenery, and make camp life sound all upbeat, outdoorsy,  natural, rugged, and on the front lines of ministry. Some days I love living in a place where a ton of people wish they could live. And other days I flop on my couch and bawl because there’s stuff that’s just plain hard about it for me.

You could say that the moral to my story has to do with how important it is to keep a good attitude. Or you could say that it’s “a little bit of tea and Heartland goes a long way.”

Or you could quote my dad, the farmer, who wisely says, “Don’t  think about the crops when it’s raining!” That’s one of our favorite sayings around here. I’ll pick that one to be the moral!

Last night, it was definitely “raining on my crops” and I needed to think about something else for a little while….


Today it is 10 years since I married the most wonderful person I know! They have been 10 very good years.

But it’s kind of funny – the day feels slightly anti-climatic.  It seems like it should feel special and different, but it feels…like a normal day! But I’ve been realizing lately that normal is special and wonderful, and if I had to plan the best day ever, we’d probably end up doing what we normally do on quiet evenings at home.

We would put our sweet girls to bed at 8:00 pm, we’d make snacks together, and then we would sit on the couch and talk for hours, or watch an episode of Heartland, or practice the new ballroom dance moves we’ve been learning, and it would be perfect!

We are trying to plan some kind of fun get-away for sometime in the next few months, but in the meantime, I will continue to enjoy normal, wonderful, everyday kind of days with Ben!

Favorite Things Right Now Part 2

Ha! Today isn’t my birthday. I thought today was the 11th. So, tomorrow is the actual day. In the meantime, here’s another batch of favorites:

7)This Book

It’s the kind that makes me squirm and feel uncomfortable and convicts me and inspires me to change. And I’m only on chapter 5! Who knows what will happen to me by the end of it?!

8)  Scrapbooking

I’m not doing as much of it right now, but when I have the time and energy, it is still something that I love to do, and is a creative outlet for me.

9) Grapefruit Seed Extract!

Okay, I realize that this is a weird one. But for anyone out there who likes to deal with stuff “naturally”, this is the best. It does everything. Around here, we use it for diaper rash, aiding digestion, disinfecting, and gargling to get rid of a sore throat. (Seriously, it works SO much better than salt water.) It is cheap, and if you google it, you will be amazed as to how many different things it can be used for. Basically everything. It has become a very important part of my everyday life in this last year. Weird, I know.

10) Heartland!

I am really loving Heartland right now. We don’t watch movies, we don’t get TV out here, we just watch Heartland. I realize that it’s cheesy, but it’s also wholesome and clean. And it makes me want to wear a cowboy hat and boots, and ride horses, even though I hate them.

11) Matt’s Bean Dip

This is another one of my favorite things to eat right now. And extremely easy to make – Matt taught me how.

Bean Dip

Open a can of kidney beans, dump them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain most of the water, mash them up, and mix in cumin and salt to taste. I love eating it with corn chips, red peppers and cucumbers. Very yummy!

12) Making Floral Arrangements!

Another new thing for me this year! My mom wanted one for their house in Sebring, so we tackled that project while we were down there on vacation, and it was so much fun! Then Ben’s mom found out, and wanted one too, so we came up with the 3 in this picture, and that was fun, too! (A little stressful because of the size, and I kind of bit off more than I could chew, but we survived, and I learned a lot!) My next project will be doing one for our house, so it was nice that the moms were willing to be the guinea pigs!