Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Cookies

This evening we had a cookie baking night, and it was equal parts delicious, energizing, magical, and so much fun. We made peppermint pinwheels, orange pinwheels, and chocolate crinkle cookies. The recipe for the chocolate crinkle cookies is from here, and the pinwheel cookies are from a well-loved recipe book. My goal this Christmas break was to make new cookies recipes, and these were all new additions to the baking repertoire. :) It's a strange yet wonderful feeling to not have studies on my mind, and to be able to bake away with loved ones and let the spirit of Christmas envelop my thoughts - oh, holidays are such a blessing. Have a Merry Christmas, wonderful people! I hope you enjoy batch upon batch of cookies, cups of eggnog, and joyous time with loved ones. 

Much love, Vivi  

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Snow Capped

Oh, today was beautiful. The snow fell gently almost the entire day, and the house radiated warmth. For the first day of Christmas break, I got to spend time with family, accomplish goals, and take the first day off studying in a long, long time. What made today wonderful?

Terri Savelle Foy broadcasts. This lady is amazing, so inspiring, and has been a huge encouragement to me these past few weeks. I had her messages on repeat while I organized and painted.

Speaking of painting, painting made today wonderful! I sat down with music playing and my water color paints beside me. I painted for almost two hours, letting the colors and shapes of the flowers come naturally. I almost never plan a painting, but let it come together as I feel inspired to add a new color, a new flower, a new element. 

Christmas wrapping. I placed the labels and ribbons on all of my loved ones' Christmas presents this year, and it feels so wonderful to have them wrapped and ready to be given. 

Dreaming big. Terri Savelle Foy talks a lot about letting yourself dream and believing God for those dreams to come to pass. The more I put my faith and trust in God, the more I am led to dream bigger than I ever have. There are no limits on God's goodness! It's up to me to dream it, ask for it, and believe for it. 

Much love, Vivi 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Dear Mr. Hummingbird

Dear Mr. Hummingbird,

Thank you for visiting this cold December morning
I saw you fluttering with speed and agility
And I couldn't look away
Thank you for perching kindly, holding still for me to capture
Your detailed feathers, round little body
Thank you for reminding me 
That God cares about the details 
He put effort into your beauty, and finds pleasure when I find pleasure
In the glory of His creation, 
In you, little Mr. Hummingbird

Much love, Vivi 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Rising Up Out the Dust

"We are the brave, the chosen ones. We're the diamonds, diamonds, rising up out the dust." - Diamonds by Johnnyswim 

I just found these pictures that I had taken early in September. Three months later, and I can remember that light breeze in my hair, the soft tune of the wind chimes, and the abundance of nasturtiums in a beautiful spectrum of oranges and yellows. It's semester crunch time, so my mind is full of biosynthetic pathways and community ecology and ANOVAs.. But! It is also ever full of thankfulness for these past three months of year 4 of university! God is so good, so full of abundant blessings, and so faithful. Happy American Thanksgiving, friends!

Much love, Vivi  

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