Monday, 10 October 2016

Turkey & Leaves & Pie & Rain

Thanksgiving is here, and the colours and flavours of Autumn are in full force. There was a calmness about this weekend that was soothing and inspiring and joyful all at once. My family was all together, laughing and eating and working together. Being in the middle of October, my brother and I had plenty of studying and assignments to do, yet spurts of family time, walks in the golden light, and breaks for coffee and pie made everything so wonderful. The focus on thankfulness is special and of great necessity to remind us of God's blessings in our lives - not just on one lone Monday in October, but every day, every hour, every minute. 

My 2016 Thanksgiving List 

the amino acids, 20 beautiful little structures so perfect in every way that build up proteins and support the many functions of life 
chocolatey chai tea with a splash of milk, steeped extra long 
purple/grey nail polish
quilts to surround oneself with
conquering one month of my fourth year of university! (what. what.) 
johnnyswim, my new favorite duo (thank you fixer upper for leading me to these dreamy voices)
my university and its diverse array of humans
family coffee and/or latte time
the fact that God has not called us to be "busy" but to be fruitful
peace that passes understanding 
friends that message me sweet words out of the blue 
drives home with Wes and Shelby 
the maple tree that grows tall and confident in the backyard
the oak tree I found near my house - it's beautiful 
the ability to walk and dance and leap for joy 
the ability to study and understand and recall information
my job as a peer tutor 
leading a university alliance for pre-medicine students. so much learning, so much growth
how hard my mom works 
my dad's kindness and gentleness 
my brother's growth this past year

Jeepers, I could go on. God is so good! He loves us and rejoices when we prosper and are in good health. What are you thankful for this season? 

Much love, Vivi  

Friday, 26 August 2016


A week ago yesterday I arrived back in Canada from three weeks in England. During two of the weeks I stayed at London Imperial College while attending the London International Youth Science Forum, and for the final week I spent time with my extended family just North of London. These three weeks were full of new and familiar faces, visits to beautiful classical English sites, and daily adventures. I blogged daily about my experience at LIYSF here, so in this post I'd like to focus more on my time with my lovely, warm, and oh-so English family.

 Although I'm physically back in Canada, I am definitely still in the English state of mind. I spent most of yesterday afternoon baking bourbon cream biscuits and two loaves of herb bread (turmeric and sun dried tomato for one, garlic and sunflower for the other). I have also been drinking more Earl Grey and Lady Grey tea than water, and in classic English style, accompanying each cup with a biscuit or two...

One of my best memories from my time in England was spending a couple of evenings with my Aunt at her allotment. We picked blackberries, dug up purple potatoes, and did a lot of weeding! There was a light breeze, golden sunlight, and the invigorating scent of nature in the air. The picture above shows my Aunt's pink roses, garden shed, and a snippet of the nasturtiums and blackberries in the upper left corner.

Oh, English picnics, how I love thee! Our spread included vanilla shortbread, jaffa cakes, jammy dodgers, grapes, nuts, juice, and tea!
This pond was full of geese and swans, making for a beautiful sight while we enjoyed our picnic. 
Over the course of the week we devoured scones multiple times... Slathering a scone in clotted cream and jam is one of life's greatest pleasures. 
I actually saw this flower garden during the science forum, but it is too beautiful not to include. It was somewhere by Buckingham Palace!
Here is the view from my room during my stay at London Imperial College. I overlooked the Beit Quadrangle, which meant that my view included large trees and endless red brick (my favourite)!

The architecture and sculptural mastery in London is stunning. Just when I thought there couldn't possibly be another towering building with jaw-dropping details, there were five just around the corner.  
This is the statue located at the beginning of Kensington Park, which is just before Hyde Park! 
Ahh, swans! During one afternoon at the science forum, a few friends and I went paddle boating on the lake. There was a light breeze and the right amount of sunshine for warmth but not too much to result in a sunburn. 
I love the reflection of the buildings in the sweet shop's window. This was in downtown London near the Big Ben.  
When at the Big Ben, I saw the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance. A group of us decided to adventure closer, and I'm so glad we did. The detail is impeccable. It would be easy to spend an afternoon just walking around the cathedral, taking in the intricacies and history behind each sculpture. 
Roses were a common, yet always beautiful, garden feature. 
And now, back to my time with my family! We went on a few picnics with all of the little kids, and chatted and sipped tea while they rode bikes, ran around on treasure hunts, or climbed on playgrounds. Here my aunt is offering us delicious drop scones! Mmm mmm!
Two lovely artichoke plants on my aunt's new allotment! She now has two allotments, and I couldn't be happier for her.
My aunt's allotment is overflowing with nasturtiums. We picked a few of the interesting ones and made a little flower arrangement for the kitchen window.
Dinner time! Gladioli grace the table, as well as a traditional South African dinner of boburti! 
A daily breakfast of granola, Greek yogurt, and a plethora of fresh berries. Oh, and tea of course! 
One morning we went to a flea market in search of fabric. Although we didn't buy any of these scrumptious baked goods, I couldn't resist snapping a photo.
My lovely family!
Notice how the wooden support of the building is drooping! Uh oh... 
Remember how I said we had scones a few times? These were delicious scones from the cafe/tea shop at St. Albans cathedral. Aren't the jam jars so sweet? 
St. Alban's cathedral! 
During the science forum I went to Hampton Court Palace for a day trip. King Henry the Eighth was serious about the detail of his ceilings! 
The Big Ben! Oh, what a sight. 
One of the loveliest activities that I did with my family was go to Waddesdon Manor. It certainly rivaled Buckingham Palace and Hampton Court Palace for grandeur and detail. It was built by the Rothschild family, who are, as you can see, extremely well to do!
Yes, Waddesdon Manor was a sight to behold. The inside was just as grand as the gardens and architecture of the outside. 
My three weeks in England went by extremely quickly, but they were more than wonderful. They were full of so many good things, good people, and good food (I didn't show you the English breakfasts at the science forum or the muffins, custard, pain au chocolat...)! 

I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of my trip. It is so nice to go through these memories again, and I'm looking forward to reliving these moments in the days to come, especially when the semester starts in just over a week! God is good, friends. 

Much love, Vivi

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Care of the Earth

"The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope." Wendell Berry  

I discovered author, poet, and culture critic Wendell Berry about three years ago. I read through his novel "Hannah Coulter" at lightning speed during summer time, and I soaked up all of his beautiful sentences and the way he weaves nature and caring for land into his writing. Then, this past winter I read "That Distant Land," a collection of short stories based around a community of farmers and their families. His writing is pure and elegant and poignant. I loved his fiction, and gobbled it up happily. Then! I found out from a friend that he ALSO writes non-fiction. My heart fluttered and I knew I had to get my hands on something. 

It began with a borrowed copy of "The Unsettling of America," borrowed from said generous friend, also a big fan of Wendell Berry. I loved it. I read through about three quarters of Berry's cultural critique and down to earth perspective, and his wisdom is astounding. 

So, happily, I recently ordered "The Art of the Commonplace," a collection of agrarian essays, which should arrive this week! Cue the excitement! Not only has this wonderful, wonderful author helped shape my perspective, but he continues to inspire me, challenge me, and make just-before-bed-night-time-reading one of the best parts of the day. 

The earth, the soil, the plants, the process of sowing and harvesting, is good, because our Creator is good. 
Much love, Vivi 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Picnic in the Park

Meet my babe of a friend, Hannah, who casually flicks her hair in response to a clicking camera and has excellent choice in both leather bags and glamorous sunglasses. In one word, she is fabulous, and I am so thankful to call her my friend (since Grade 10!) 

Quite a few weeks ago we took advantage of some glorious sunshine and brought a picnic to a local park. The spread included veggies, cheese and crackers, fruit, iced coffees, and hummus. It was an afternoon spent talking and eating and talking and eating- the best kind of afternoon. 

Much love, Vivi 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Chopin Has Something To Say

Why, hello! Greetings! Yes, we do know each other- it has just been a VERY long time! The month of May held moving houses (cue the deep cleaning and organization), studying/tests/digging deep into physics, volunteering with some pretty wonderful organizations, and now, preparing for my Biology honors project with some reading, reading, and READING! 

Exciting times.

Really, I love what I am doing! If asked in a game of would you rather if I would rather read about treatments for rare genetic conditions or relax by a pool all day.. I would pick the reading (by the pool of course.. ;) 

Our new house is wonderful. There is a creek that runs through the backyard, a garden of mint, jasmine, bamboo... It's stunning. I've already given "tours" of the backyard to friends, and I think I probably beam the whole way. Nature is a beautiful expression of God's grace and creativity. I'm so happy to be able to live here surrounded by reminders of God's goodness.

Not being in the thick of the academic year gives me some much needed thinking time. I've been thinking about many aspects of my life, how I spend my time, what I'd like to do differently, continue doing, and different goals for the short term and long term. And while doing so, Chopin has been keeping my ears company. Just as the sights of nature provide visual reminders of God's goodness, the sounds of Chopin make my ears just as sure. 

Much love, Vivi