Pressing Pause….For the Beauty of Mushrooms

I am constantly on the look out for beauty, and the result of that lookout is a daily reminder of the splendor of God.  I am fascinated that when I wake everyday, knowing I am looking for beauty, how my mind is transformed.  I cannot have a bad day when surrounded by beauty.  It’s impossible!  This is a daily prayer of mine, “God show me and surround me with your beauty”  How can that ever make for a bad day?

Sandpoint, Idaho trail.

Sandpoint, Idaho trail.

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The places I find beauty are different everyday. mushrooms?  Mushrooms?  This weekend, while my hubs and I were in Sandpoint, Idaho hiking, beauty was all around us in nature.  Nature never disappoints in this department.  Ever!  Each season, and every day holds within it, something of overwhelming beauty.  Sometimes it’s big and vast, in a mountain range.  Sometimes in a sunrise or sunset.  Sometimes you have to get down to see the smallest, intricate, buds of a wild flower.  But if you look, it’s there, all around.  Stopping to ponder these things is sometimes the hardest thing in our busy lives.  We are rushers.  Frenzied, running from place to place.  It takes slowness sometimes to capture the true essence of beauty.  The phrase, “stop and smell the roses” has to come into play.  When you look closely, you see the magical.  The sinews of a blade of grass.  The crystals in a cube of ice.  The delicate powder on the wing of a butterfly.  You really see the finite wonders of God when you stop and press “pause.”  As we walked, I got more and more engrossed in what was happening on the ground.   MUSHROOMS.  Of all things….  And as I searched, they kept dazzling me with their crazy, fungi-y selves. (If you know me, this would absolutely be a word in the dictionary of Paula)  Even damp, soggy, mushrooms took on such a form of beauty for me.  I was quite taken by them.

Pressed "pause" on our journey to take a look at things.

Pressed “pause” on our journey to take a look at things.

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This mushroom was amazing!

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These would’ve escaped the naked eye at walking level. But when I stooped down to see them, I was in awe of their precious little bodies.

Aren’t people a wonderful form of beauty?  I’m not talking about the outer shell appearance of someone.  I’m talking about the beauty of the heart.  Sweet innocence.  Authenticity.  Joy.  An inner-self that is unencumbered.  Sparkly eyes that are creased with age, and although that is a outer beauty, there is something inside a person, that loves those crevasses of a well lived life of laughter and experience.  A soul at peace, no matter the circumstances.  Friendships that are long and easy, and not hinged on anything but love and loyalty.  The ability to reach beyond yourself, not looking for anything in return, to help someone in need.  That small act of kindness could mean the World to a stranger, family member or friend.  The heart that loves to compliment someone, even when we aren’t feeling our best.  Someone that has amazing confidence, isn’t a braggart, but knows exactly who they are, and Who they live for.  A heart rooted in God, does this….for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7  

As I set out on this new week, refreshed, I am looking forward to the beauty I will find today and everyday.  I will take a minute to press pause and allow something to awe me.  To not rush through my day,  To stop and make eye contact with someone, even a stranger, and beam out a smile.  Try it.  Seek out and expect beauty in your life.  Some days it may be hard, but its there, all around us…waiting to be admired.  I promise, it’s so worth it.

At Riley Creek

Riley Creek. Laclede, Idaho

Can’t Get Enough-Pumpkin French Toast

I don’t know about you, but something comes over me this time of year.  It’s this crazy force that makes me want to have Pumpkin…..EVERYTHING!  Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin creamer (homemade) pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin pancakes….I mean lets face it, if I could incorporate pumpkin into every aspect of my life, I most certainly would.  I’m obsessed.  I have been in the kitchen this week cooking up a whole-lotta pumpkin…

And how about the beauty outside right now?  Wow!  I’m just taking in all of this gorgeous weather and extraordinary fall colors right now.



Pumpkin French Toast

1 cup of pureed pumpkin

1 1/2 cups of almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)

2 TBSP cornstarch

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 TBSP dark brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 stale Baguette sliced into 1 inch thick slices (I always go into the bakery and ask for a day old, preferably 2 day old baguette, or you can “stale” it yourself in your oven) *If you don’t get stale baguette the inside could be mushy after cooking.

Mix together all ingredients.  Place baguette slices into baking dish.  Pour pumpkin mixture onto bread and coat evenly.

Preheat griddle, cook baguette about 5 minutes, flip and cook other side.  They should be golden to medium brown when cooked through.

Serve drizzled with cinnamon non-dairy butter,  warm syrup and coconut milk whipped cream.


Splendid Fall

It’s Friday and I am so happy for that! We have a full weekend with NOTHING on our calendar!  Thankful!

The past 3 weekends I (we) have been on the run, out-of-town.  One Canadian adventure to see friends and participate in some fabulous wine events/tastings for 4 days during their Fall wine crush.  A quick out-of-town to the Gorge to see Maroon Five with 7 crazy girls, only to have them cancel due to weather.  I mean…what’s a little hurricane force winds, right?  We had a blast, nonetheless….and last weekend, in Seattle.  Seattle was a wind down weekend.  After an amazing summer, we wanted a little closeness with our Cub.  High school flies by, as we saw with our older kids.  They literally step onto the high school campus as freshman, and in the blink of an eye, you are watching them cross that stage, being handed their diploma.  The older they get, the harder it is to really have that quality time.  I heard the idiom once that trying to have quality time with teenagers is like nailing jello to a wall.  That’s some truth right there!  Now, I’m not a helicopter parent.  I don’t hover over my kids and require them to sit on my lap when they would rather be (and should be) out exploring the World, becoming independent, and finding out who they are and their place in this life, but we really felt like we needed some good one-on-one time with her.  So off to Seattle we went for along weekend.  Everything about it was delectable.  We laughed, shopped (that girl can SHOP) indulged in some amazing food, and sought out some sites that we had not visited in a long time.

In Canada at the Farm to Table event.  Gorgeous 6 course dinner, paired beautifully with wines from the Okanagan Valley.

In Canada at the Farm to Table event. Gorgeous 6 course dinner, paired beautifully with wines from the Okanagan Valley.

What's a trip to Seattle without seeing the Gum Wall?

What’s a trip to Seattle without seeing the Gum Wall?

....and the Fremont Troll?

….and the Fremont Troll?

An afternoon in Who-ville.  Loved these Sonic Blooms and hearing their symphonic sounds and we walked under them.

An afternoon in Who-ville. Loved these Sonic Blooms and hearing their symphonic sounds and we walked under them.

What a great food city Seattle is.  We just enjoyed the moment.  Really savored our family time.  I adore moments like that.  When the world stops spinning, the other people around you are faded out into the background of your minds photo, and all that is there is the three.  We talked about past trips to Seattle, and had some funny stories of when it was the five. It’s weird being a parent with your last child at home.  Thankful are we, that we enjoyed every drop of our kid’s lives growing up.  And still do.  As our older two are off into the world, gleaning their careers, finishing school, and getting ready to move away, we are still proud parents, watching them, relishing who they are becoming as adults, but it’s still strange, to be on the cusp of an empty nest.  We have “trained them up” (Prov 22:6) and now it’s time for them to leap out.

On another note, I am LOVING this fall running weather.  The crispness in the air. The stunning scenery of the changing leaves.  This is truly one of my favorite times of the year.  The colors here are amazing.  God has given us such a beautiful world to live in, and right now, it’s like living in a painting.  I think I forget ever year…. I forget what it looked like, and then fall arrives, and I see it again with fresh eyes.  I am wowed every year!  Hope you are out enjoying it.

I have been laid up with an injury the past few weeks, which has taken me out of my fall marathon.  That saddens me.  But I am so thankful, that with a little rest and some therapy, it is starting to feel better.  I have been out doing some short 4-5 mile runs.  It’s not where I want to be, but it’s where I need to be.  And sometimes, after an injury, you come back stronger than ever, right?  I’m banking on that.  I’m trying to keep a good focus on my form, and trying not to overdo it on the days I feel strong.  That’s a hard thing for a runner.  I’m on “simmer”  which I suppose is just about perfect for Fall.  It’s giving me some time for the other things I love.  Reading, decorating, cooking new recipes (speaking of simmering) and planning my race season for next year.  I have a few races picked out that I am excited about!

Have you started planning for next season?  What races will grace your calendars?

Driving up my hill to our home and stopped dead in my tracks by the beauty of Fall

Driving up the hill to our home and stopped dead in my tracks by the beauty of Fall