Up Early...

It's extremely ironic that I took a natural sleeping pill before bed so that I could sleep a little deeper, yet ended up tossing and turning throughout the wee hours of the morning.

I also woke up an hour earlier than normal. 

I have had a lot on my mind, and it's not even 8am yet.

1. It's a beautiful morning.
2. I wish it were more quiet.  (The traffic can get a little busy at this hour in our small corner of Hespeler)
3. Why am I so awake?
4. I've been eating a lot of crap food this week. But today will be better.
5. Should I work out this morning, or wait to work out with Jake later?
6. What should I have for breakfast?
7. My kitchen is a mess.
8. Devos or blog first?
9. Must. Make. Coffee.
10. How are we going to raise the remaining $7000 for our trip in one week!!!
11. I need some fresh air.

Jake often tells me, "There is NO WAY that you can be thinking about all of that at once.  That's not even possible."

If you're like me, then you know, friend, that it is possible.  And if you're like me, you know that that list doesn't even scratch the surface of what I've been thinking about this morning.

For now, I'll finish this blog and enjoy my coffee, effectively taking care of two things at least!



Change it up...

I feel very blessed in knowing someone who, not only is a very dear friend, but is also a talented hairdresser.  I went to visit her new digs on Tuesday, and she was able to give me a trim and a colour at the same time.

It's a bit darker, but with warm tones, which is perfect for summer.  One of my fears of hair dyeing is the growing out part.  She told me this colour won't be so obvious as my hair grows.

So far, I'm loving it...
             Just like McDonald's coffee.



Hot air balloon...

This morning I looked out my window....

And I saw this balloon, hanging in the air like a 2nd moon.

It wasn't even 9am yet, and someone was enjoying the cool morning air, letting the wind caress their face.

I've noticed that it has become significantly cooler in the evening and morning now, and as Jake and I went for our run last evening, gasping in great, cold fresh gulps of the crisp night air, I was reminded how good it is to 

People who go for hot-air balloon rides have no choice to be in that space they're in.  They sit, they stare, they become fascinated by the amazing and picturesque views surrounding them.  

How many times have I caught myself running, running, running without stopping to see what's around me?

In the past couple of weeks Jake and I have been preparing, thinking, crying (me, that is), worrying (again, just me), praying for our support to come in, anxiously waiting to hear about what we'll be doing while we're in Brazil.  

I have been so completely

Sometimes I'll look at Jake and notice that I haven't actually looked in his eyes yet that day.  I haven't been in that space with him.  

All of our preparations have been seemingly happening together, but I have been working independently of him, forgetting that we are a team and that we help each other out.  

It is so hard planning and preparing like this.  I'm used to having fun with Jake, doing the daily house life with him, not preparing, planning, hashing out ideas.  He is so good at that, so in tune with his imagination and mental capacities, and he comes alive while his mind is combating the hard stuff of life.  

Not to mention he's really, really stable.  i.e. he doesn't lose his crazy.

For this, I'm so grateful.  I need his strength, his prayers washing over me, his eyes looking into mine, reminding me that we're on this journey together.

phil 4:13 says, "i can do all things through christ who strengthens me."

I need to remember to give my worries of the future to the One who created life itself, and be mindful of His desires for my present.  I need to look my lover in the eye, and let this journey take us by the hand, as our Saviour guides us to places we have never dreamed.



Coconut Curry Soup...

Last night I made this soup, and completely forgot to take a picture.  Let me reassure you that it tasted amazing!  The best part is, I made it from my brain and experience, and this recipe is indeed my own.

Bon appetit!

Ashariv's Coconut Curry Soup
Serves: 4
Time: 30 min


  • 2 TBSP oil (I used coconut oil, but anything would work)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 TBSP curry
  • 1 TBSP
  • pinch of coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 carton vegetable broth (about 2 cups)

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • corn (however much you want-I added about 1.5 cups worth)
  • red pepper (I used two small)

  • cilantro (to taste-I used about 2 bunches, but I absolutely LOVE cilantro)

1. Heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and saute for a few minutes (let them soften) before adding spices.  Saute for about two minutes, then add tomato paste, stirring well.  Add carrots, vegetable broth, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

2. Lower heat and add black beans, coconut milk, corn, and green pepper, allowing it to simmer for about 15 minutes.

3.  Once carrots are tender, add the cilantro.  Stir, then remove from heat.

**Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand.  Take my own advice-experiment :)



The End of Something Good...

Enjoying the beauty of Canadian nature on our last day together

Even though I haven't had a chance to write a blog since ETC ended, it doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about and missing my students.  This week has been nice in that I've been catching up on friends, baking, and other things.
It's not just that I'm out of a job.  ETC was more than just work to me.  It was imparting knowledge to people who couldn't have gained it otherwise.  It was getting to know a different culture and meeting new people.  It was building lasting relationships that are grounded in Christ.  It was sharing faith, stories, laughs, love, and so much more.

We had a good time, didn't we?  Yes, it came to an end.  We all knew it would.  But...we have memories that will last forever.

You know, people might think it's crazy that I gave up my job at the taxi company just to teach for 6 weeks, knowing that I would be out of a job like I am now.

But you know what would have been crazier??

Not teaching.

It would have been crazier to not do what I love, and to not have met those students and to not have had wonderful experiences together.  I don't regret a single moment.

I miss everyone, but I'm happy.  It was fulfilling and God-honouring.


I have many places to stay when I go to Korea one day :)



Butterfly Memories...

Yesterday in class, my students decided that the word 'last' was banned, and that we wouldn't cry until today.

I would like to, however, keep in my memory those wonderful times we've had during the past 6 weeks.  Yesterday we went to Elora, and they fell in love with the beautiful village and tourist area, as well as the Gorge itself.  No matter how many times I've gone there with students over the years, it always comes alive for me when I see their faces light up and hear how beautiful they think it is. 


You know how it is when you see a butterfly in a place completely out of the ordinary, like in the middle of an intersection, and you marvel at the stark contrast of that graceful fluttering against the harsh concrete?  Moments like those happen in my life, where the grueling pace slows, and I can see the joyous peace of God rippling around me like butterfly wings.

This is truly beautiful.



Worth Reading...

I  haven't been reading that much lately.  Not that I haven't been wanting to, I just haven't had the time.  Both Jake and I keep track of our "Books Read" list using Excel, but I recently found this website, and I'm eager to try it out.  I have a lot of book lovin' friends out there, so it would be fun if we could all join up there, and compare books and such.

The one I've been "motoring" through (I use that term lightly since it's taken me almost 3 weeks to read it), is about exercise, and get this: it's non-fiction.  I don't read much non-fiction for fun, that is, aside from the Bible, so this is quite a step for me.  I only have about 40 more pages to go.

So, here's to happy reading and a delightful summer day!



New Jeans and Loud Music...

Sometimes when I get pouty, I don't want to talk to anyone, least of all my dear husband.  And so, right now he's doing the dishes while I'm cranking loud music into my earbuds, blocking out sounds of his convicting sermons blaring in the background.

Is it helping? Not really.  But the defensiveness that flared up in me at our earlier argument has dissipated somewhat.  Now I can probably talk, I'll probably apologize for my attitude, and we'll talk about our issue, and we'll watch a movie, and we'll brush our teeth, and we'll read our evening Bible, and we'll go to bed, and we'll snuggle up close, grateful that we could talk things out.

I sometimes need time.  I didn't really know that.  But I've learned.  Oh, how I've learned.  I see the frustration that grows in his eyes when he's working really hard to figure out what it is he can say or do to bring me out of my funk, my sulking.  We've both learned that nothing helps.  Except time and a lot of grace.

Tonight we had a wonderful dinner with great friends, and this friend, she is so generous.  We left with some vegetables, a new Bodum, a book, and a new pair of jeans for me.  And especially those new jeans, they're just what I needed.  God provides in small ways that even I never dreamed possible.

If He can give me a new pair of jeans, just like that, He can provide a way out of my pity-party.

and that's just what we need.



African Lion Safari...

It was a wild day on Saturday.  Jake and I spent the afternoon at the African Lion Safari, courtesy of his company; picnic was provided, and fun was required.

Much fun was indeed had by all, including that time when we got soaked during two of the freak downpours that spread across the grounds. 

If you're not familiar with how the popular attraction works, there is a 1-hr safari through the park's 6 reserves (in which you can take a safari bus at extra cost or risk your precious Volvo in the baboon reserve...your choice!), three shows, some birds and other animals on display, a water safari ride (duly named The African Queen), and a train ride.

The three 20-minute shows consist of "Parrot Paradise", "Birds of Prey", and "Elephant Round-up", each taking place at varying times during the day.  It was during two of these that we were soaked to the bone.  My umbrella even started to leak.  By the end, I was gritting my teeth as I walked around with a wet backside, trying to smile and remind myself that I was blessed to be doing something fun with my husband.  We still managed to finish well, with a delightful and informative tour in their little museum, containing skulls, furs, and eggs of various animals. 

All in all, it turned out to be a pretty fun day.  I mean, it was free, we were served BBQ, and we got to spend the day together.  That is something worthy of thanks to our God.


P.s.  I was consoled by having a warm bubble bath when I got home...ah, that is the life!


On being joyful...

Something I need to learn how to do is rejoice (Zephaniah 3:14).  There are many instances in the Bible that begin with 'Rejoice!', among which I read this morning.  I equate that word with 'Cheer up!  You have much to be thankful for!'  Is that true in my life?  Do I have much to be thankful for? Of course!

My God supplies all that I have, provides me with love and grace.  He has saved me from spiritual death.  So why does it seem so hard to 'give thanks' and 'rejoice'?

Last night, Jake said something along the lines of, "We get so used to not being thankful that it seems to catch us off guard when we realize that we don't have it so bad after all." (At least, he said something like that)

But it's true.  We train ourselves to look for things that make us unhappy in life.  But why?  It only leads to more stress and negativity.

I've decided to let God train me into being a more thankful person.  I'm going to try to write down at least one note of praise and thankfulness every day.  I'm sure I could do more, but you've got to start somewhere, right?



It Must Be That Time of Year...

I've been loving these cooler days.  Last night Jake and I went on a picnic with some friends of ours, and there were so many families and friends at the park with the exact same idea in mind.  You know the weather is more bearable when...


I have many fond memories of various picnics I've enjoyed over the years, and yet, it'd been so long since my last one, I couldn't remember what are good picnic foods.  Here is a list of some of the good picnic eats that I was reminded of last night:

-chicken (KFC or a whole Zehrs' chicken)
-potato/macaroni salad
-deviled/hard-boiled eggs
-peanut butter/banana/jam/tuna sandwiches (perhaps not all of those options together)
-cookies/brownies, etc.

A few weeks ago, my fellow teacher and I took our students to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, and we had a little picnic there, as well.  Another student and I made peanut butter/jam sandwiches, as well as tuna sandwiches.  However, my students, being Korean, also made delicious rice balls, which are usual picnic fare for Koreans.  I hadn't seen them make it, so when they pulled out these little balls wrapped in aluminum, I was intrigued.  The picture below-which I can't take credit for- is similar to what ours looked like, the only difference being there was seaweed wrapped around ours.

They were delicious and satisfying, and I'm sure if you enjoy rice and fresh veggies that you would enjoy these too! Who knows, maybe I will try making them sometime and surprise people at a picnic.

So...I'm curious...what food do you and yours like to take with you on picnics?  Feel free to leave a comment so we can all broaden our picnic 'horizons' a little more.




Enjoying the cool evening at the park, with a Gino's pizza box for a pillow

Although Jake has this Civic holiday Monday off, I do not.  Yet, I am grateful for the time we were able to spend together this week-end.

It seemed as if our apartment was going to internally combust on Saturday.  We don't have AC, and from about 8:30am onward we roasted like stuck pigs.  Escaping to the mall seemed like a good idea (my closet thought so, too!), but when we returned to our place of doom, we were little grumps with each other all evening.

I was grateful for a little reprieve from the heat yesterday.  Jake and I did something we don't do much anymore-we went to Gino's pizza, bought our usual $6 walk-in special, and took it to the park to have an impromptu pizza.  Since I have started eating healthier, I usually don't give in to pizza that much (even though my obssessed husband wishes I would).  However, we asked for a multi-grain crust this time, and wow, what a difference it makes to the taste and texture!  It was absolutely amazing and delicious.  Our time at the park was wonderful. Poor Jake had a sore neck, and I think I was a little bit too hyper, but we had a good time nonetheless.

Here's hoping you have a wonderful day!



On Pride...

As a teacher, it is so easy to be humiliated in front of your class.  My worst fear is being caught off guard by a question that I won't know the answer for.

This happens to me every, single day.

"You're not prepared enough.  You're a terrible teacher.  They think you're a farce.  They don't trust your answers anymore.  They're wasting their money.  You can't even speak English yourself"

I am attacked ruthlessly during those moments of uncertainty.  Instead of admitting my faults, however, I get angry and defensive.  I have often found myself being adamant about a certain part of grammar, telling a student such-and-such, only to have them call me out on an obvious technicality.  Once more, instead of admitting my ignorance, I back-pedal, and pretty soon I find myself angry on all levels-angry at the student for asking, and angry at myself for a.) being prideful and b.) not knowing the answer.  It's an uncomfortable situation for both parties, and my first instinct is to run from the room and hide.

I struggle with my own knowledge base.  There are even things in the Bible that I know to be true, but doubt my answer if called upon.  My mind likes to make up answers to things just to save face.  My pride is the biggest obstacle to overcoming humiliation and uncertainty. 

Only by the grace of God will I learn how to be more humble. 



Coming Alive...

Burning legs
Sweat dripping from every pore
Clear mind and thoughts
Heart pumping wildly within my chest
Aching muscles
Feeling so alive

These are just a few of the reasons I love working out.  The funny thing is, it takes a little bit for me to actually start the exercise.  Sometimes I'm so tired, or so just a little bit lazy (or I don't make the time). However, with a little push (often from my loving husband), I start, and then sometimes I can't stop.  Yesterday, I was just planning on doing a 12 minute HIIT workout, and after that I was energized enough to go for a 20 minute run.  It never ceases to amaze me how good I feel after working out.  It completely changes my disposition.  

What helps you to focus and feel better when you're having an off day?



ETC 2012

Experiencing the Canadian country side at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada...

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of lesson planning, teaching, correcting, leading, guiding, touring, etc.  ETC (English Training Camp) is in full swing, and there are only 2 1/2 more weeks left.  Even though this is my third year teaching Korean students, I am still learning more about their culture all the time, even as they learn more about our culture.  

In case you're new to my blog, I'll fill you in on how this little teaching stint works.  

Every day looks something like this:
9:30-12:30--> Teaching and Learning Time (Grammar and Conversation)
12:30-2:30--> Lunch Break (I think everyone should have a 2-hr afternoon break! It's very refreshing)
2:30-5:30--> Afternoon Activity (Mondays are more low-key; Tuesdays are one-on-one tutoring; Wednesdays are 'cooking/baking parties'; Thursdays and Fridays are when we go places like St. Jacob's Market, or the Donkey Sanctuary)

Since today was Wednesday, they enjoyed making personal pizzas and cake with home-made icing.  I usually end the morning lesson around noon on Wednesdays so that we have time to get our ingredients at the grocery store and eat by at least 2 pm...trust me, it takes a long time to make food.  However, it's worth it every time.  I've been enjoying introducing them to various kitchen tools, such as electric beaters, and measuring spoons.  Believe it or not, most of the students had never baked or cooked anything before arriving in Canada.  These young people are so focused on their studies that they don't have time for much else.  Although Wednesdays are one of the most stressful, they are also one of the most rewarding.  I love hearing their sighs of pleasure as they sink their teeth into homemade apple streusel (topped with ice cream, of course!), and watching their faces as they taste lasagna for the first time.  The culinary delights that I have encouraged them to make are merely the tip of the iceberg, and I hope that it encourages them to branch out in their own kitchens when they return to Korea. 

Every group that I've taught is different, and this group has so much energy.  Whenever we do our various activities, I am always encouraged by their delight and enthusiasm.  They make me laugh, and actually, I also feel a little bit like a superstar.  There are plenty of times I've entered a room to various pitches of "Oh, hi Ashleigh!" and hands are waving and big smiles appear on faces, and I feel enveloped in love and happiness. If I start a day feeling stressed, I usually don't end it that way.  They are a blessing to me, and I hope I can be encouraging to them in turn.