Kayaking on White Rock Lake.

"God made a gorgeous rich world, stuffed with glowing green trees and child cheeks and good friends.  When I spin out into my own anxieties and frantic days, I miss out.  It's all there, waiting to be seen, discovered, heard, entered into.   And I'm determined not to miss it today."
~ Shauna Niequist, Savor

Today, I got to have all three - glowing green trees, child cheeks, and good friends.  Add to that, the gently lilting waves of a beautiful lake, and a kayak for one.

I also get to cross one more thing off my Dallas bucket list - kayaking on White Rock Lake.  As part of a meetup group, in exchange for helping pick up trash on the shoreline, we got to kayak for free around the lake for a few hours.  They gave us trash bags, those grabber things, water, and snacks, and shoved us in the water.

Thankfully, I've kayaked once before on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia so it wasn't completely new to me.  I was excited to do something different for the day, to exercise my body in a different way, and to be just "me" - nothing attached to me, no one else to take care of.  Just me and the water.  It was quiet. Comforting.  Invigorating.

I took this photo right before getting in the water...

Jessica and I are ready to set out for adventure...

On the open waters...

The most interesting things I gathered were a wiffle ball and quarter-full jug of iced tea.  There was also lots of styrofoam - the worst offender!  Oh, I also saw a HUGE snake which, thankfully, did not come anywhere near my grabber.  For this perfectionist, it was tough leaving behind the trash I couldn't reach or was too tangled in the branches or reeds.  I wanted my piece of shoreline to be pristine!   But alas, that wasn't totally possible.

Here we are afterwards, slightly wet, sweaty, sore hands, and happy.

A lot of days, I "miss it."  But today, I didn't.  Even when I returned home to my lovelies, I was able to engage in play with them for the rest of the day, soaking up all that life has to offer.  I entered more deeply into life today, and it felt great.

Help us bring the farm to Dallas!

I couldn't be more proud of our Urban Acres team (and my hubby!) for putting together this incredible video and campaignWe're using the Kickstarter website to raise $30,000 by August 5th to build a one-of-a-kind farmstead in the heart of Dallas.  Our current market will move to the new location (still in our beloved neighborhood) and add features such as an open kitchen, Texas cheese counter, chicken coop, and aquaponics greenhouse.  I'm particularly excited about the outdoor patio with the communal farm table!

In case you're not familiar, Kickstarter is an "all-or-nothing" deal, so if we don't get $30,000 pledged by the deadline, we don't get any of the money.  Please, watch this short video and if you feel led to give at all to help us reach our goal, that's great!  You don't have to live in Dallas to contribute. 

And most importantly, thanks to all of you who have supported our dreams throughout the years!

A meadow.

On the first day of spring, I wanted to share this meadow that's within a short walking distance of our home.  To others it may just be an open field in the middle of a neighborhood, but you have to look more closely.  And then you'll see it's filled with wild grape hyacinth, trees sweeping low to the ground for climbing, big rocks for collecting and jumping, tree stumps made into chairs.  I found out it's owned by a nearby church but open for public use.  We've probably returned 5 times since the initial discovery.  What a treasure.

"The air was sweet with the breath of many apple orchards and the meadows sloped away in the distance to horizon mists of pearl and purple; while the little birds sang as if it were the one day of summer in all the year."
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I'm gonna find every spot of nature in this big city, yes I am.

I love that my daughter now asks regularly if we can go play "in the meadow."  Why, yes we can.  Happily.

Fall is here. (30 days of thankfulness - day 15)

So thankful fall has finally, really come to Dallas.  We're soaking it up!

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During the month of November, I'm practicing "30 days of thankfulness" - will you join me?  Use your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to voice your thankfulness for something every day in November.  My hope is that this daily routine will create in me a heart of thankfulness and gratitude, no matter the day or month or situation.

You are precious. (30 days of thankfulness - day 10)

Dear Ramona,

I admit I was quite hurried when I saw you sitting on a bench in front of the downtown library, holding a crushed, bent-open book in both your hands while you read aloud to yourself.  As I slowly pulled my car to the curb in front of you, I could see you were trembling.

I approached you selfishly, wanting to "get rid of" more of the "homeless bags" in my car by giving you more than one, so I wouldn't have to stop so many times.  I rolled down the passenger's side window and asked timidly, "Excuse me, do you need some food?"  You answered, "Yes," and hurried over to the curb.  I handed you a bag and asked if you had anyone else you wanted to give a second bag to.  You shook your head and answered very definitely, "No." 

I asked your name, and you told me it was Ramona.  I admit I probably wouldn't have thought to ask you that simple, seemingly obvious question if it hadn't been for my friend Kyle who talks with homeless folks much more often than I, and she told me it was a good thing to do.  She said you probably don't get asked your name very often.

I hope when you found this note in your bag that it meant something to you, that it made you smile.

When I passed by the downtown library again a few days ago, you weren't there.  I'm not sure if we'll meet again, but I hope through our very short encounter and hopefully future ones, God teaches me what it's like to be humble.  Because right now, the truth is I'm just thankful my life isn't sitting on park benches in front of libraries alone.

Whether you know it or not, Ramona, you are made in the image of God, and you are precious.  There is hope for both of us.  And that is something that draws us together.

Sincerely,

Christine

~ ~ ~

During the month of November, I'm practicing "30 days of thankfulness" - will you join me?  Use your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to voice your thankfulness for something every day in November.  My hope is that this daily routine will create in me a heart of thankfulness and gratitude, no matter the day or month or situation.

Our neighborhood. (30 days of thankfulness - day 8)

I'm so thankful for our super artsy and diverse nook of Dallas, North Oak Cliff.  It's the home of our small business, where we've been welcomed into the community with open arms, and where we get to pour back into the community.  It's the home of the Bishop Arts District, a small strip of Main Street USA in the heart of the city, with unique restaurants, shops, and events.  We first discovered Bishop Arts in early 2006 and were amazed that it even existed in Dallas.  Today, Bishop Arts is bustling and is even becoming a little touristy!    The white twinkle lights year-round are a bonus.  Who doesn't love twinkle lights?

Most of you know my pining desire to live in Nashville again one day...but for now I'm in Dallas, and I'm learning contentment. Right now, Oak Cliff is where I am and where I want to be.

Our store looking fallish

Eno's Pizza in Bishop Arts looking quite whimsical

Enos' Portland-ish interior

Coming into Oak Cliff at sunset over the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge

Dallas skyline as seen from North Oak Cliff

~ ~ ~

During the month of November, I'm practicing "30 days of thankfulness" - will you join me?  Use your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to voice your thankfulness for something every day in November.  My hope is that this daily routine will create in me a heart of thankfulness and gratitude, no matter the day or month or situation.

Perfect chocolate chip cookies + grain-free flatbread.

Ohhhh, yum.  These cookies from one of my favorite food blogs, The Urban Poser, are definitely a hit.  "Thick and pudgy" is right...they're perfectly light, made grain-free with almond flour, sweetened with a bit of honey, and there aren't even eggs.  Not that there's anything wrong with eggs.  I was just shocked that a cookie turned out this good without them.

Variations:

  • We didn't have any coconut milk on hand when we made them, so we subbed a little coconut cream mixed with water, and they turned out great. 
  • I think I prefer these cookies with 100% cacao nibs rather than chocolate chips.  The nibs are already tiny so the chocolate taste doesn't overwhelm the cookie, plus I like the slight bitterness, and they're crunchy!
  • Since there aren't any eggs, you could actually just roll the dough into balls, and then freeze it, and eat it raw!  Yum.  Or, what we did the other night is bake them for less than 10 minutes, then put them in the freezer.  They were so good slightly cold and cakey, with a nice cup o' bedtime tea.

And then, there's this crispy flat bread made with almond flour that we tried for dinner last night...

The Urban Poser is actually based here in the Dallas area and just posted a great feature on our small business, Urban Acres.  One of the recipes that she made with the produce was this grain-free flatbread with local arugula and mango-strawberry salsa.  When we made it last night, we topped it with goat cheese, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, chicken sausage, and arugula.  Holy cow, it was delicious.

If you try either of these recipes, let me know what you think.  So thankful for healthier recipe options that actually taste good!