Aloe Vera Moon Juice

In CREATE, EAT

Aloe Vera Moon Juice - The Wholesome Handbook

It has been a mercurial summer. The rains seem forever locked in a cosmic battle with the sun, wrestling for dominance, throwing the prairie skies into turmoil as they cycle endlessly from searing, blue-hued heat to murderous black rainclouds and back again. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancient Titans themselves ripped open the surface of the earth to rise again. But even amongst the mayhem of the heavens, there is calm to be found. The moon is still wears her cool white face, and silent, glacial lakes still shine turquoise with limestone. The earth still offers up refuge and healing, medicine both spiritual and physical, very often hidden in plant life.

After a rather bacchanalian weekend, I’ve emerged with a wicked sunburn and a body in dire need of some gentle recalibrating. My husband’s grandparents recently celebrated their 60th anniversary, and Reists from all corners of the nation descended upon the mountains for three days to mark the occasion. Nazarene hymns were sung in four-part harmonies, caramel cakes were devoured, several exploratory miles were walked, and Andrew was somehow convinced to carry on the family legacy of playing the musical saw.

We snuck off for a cocktail party at our dear friend Brittany’s place, and I ended up moon-gazing and soul-baring with a new girlfriend until the wee hours of the morning, fueled by a king’s portion of creme de violette and gin. An actor friend lulled us to sleep with a dramatic reading of the first act of Hamlet, in full Scottish brogue. Four hours of fitful sleep later, we were on the road again, weaving through the purplish, sunrise-kissed Rockies and back to the family.

Between the punishing weather and the abundance of activity, I’m very much in the market for some cooling down, both literally and metaphorically. The aloe vera plant is one of earth’s most glorious remedial offerings, the perfect champion for the task.

Besides the well-known properties of aloe as a powerful cooling salve for the skin, it is also rich in antioxidants, helpful in balancing blood sugar, and intensely nutritious, boasting vitamins A, C, E, and B’s 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12. A little aloe juice in some ice water is the perfect detoxifying drink after a weekend of heavy reunion food, very little sleep, and a little more sun and gin than my body would thank me for. It’s as soothing and rejuvenating as the glow of the moon.

Continue reading

Travelogue – Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

In LIFESTYLE

The Wholesome Handbook - Dinosaur Provincial Park

The Alberta prairies, to the uninitiated, might seem like a land ruled by oil barons and cattle ranchers. Everything east of our legendary mountains might be a land of country conservatism and small-town simplicity, utterly devoid of anything enigmatic.

But my Alberta is intensely mystical. It is powerful, strange, brutal, and beautiful. The wind-battered gray barns, the howling coyotes, the harvest moon hung low in the sky… there’s an energy here that’s unexplainable. There are ancient voices carried on the prairie winds, ghosts in the grasses, and bones in the coulees. 75 million year old bones, actually, in one of the richest fossil deposits in the world.

We recently spent a few days in Dinosaur Provincial Park, an astonishing valley cut deep into the grasslands and stretching endlessly to the horizon. I’ve never seen anything like it. A landscape that exists outside of time, esoteric and arcane.

Continue reading

Homemade Lilac & Blueberry Ink

In CREATE

The Wholesome Handbook - Lilac and Blueberry Ink

The richness of spring always surprises me. Every year, I manage to forget the incredible, lush world that sleeps under the snow. The gorgeous colours, the intoxicating scent of soil and rain and grass, the warm breeze. How freeing it is to walk bare-legged into the morning chill. How magical it is to catch a glimpse of white-spotted fawn through the budding trees, or come across a field pebbled with young rabbits, wide-eyed and wild. And the lilacs… oh, the lilacs.

Although their lives are fleeting, the presence of lilacs fills the world with giddy delight. For the two or three weeks of lilac season, we fill our homes (and Instagram feeds) with cuttings, brew cordials and tonics, and press blooms in between the pages of books. In folk wisdom, lilacs are messengers of perseverance, tenacity, and new life, and I like to think that we mortals take this to heart, perhaps subconsciously, when they appear. There’s just something about those impossibly fragrant, delicate flowers that captures the imagination and fortifies the soul.

This spring has been one of deep renewal for me. I have never felt more sure of myself and my purpose. I’ve never been more brave, or more heroically irresponsible. I’ve also never worked so hard. Dreams demand blood, sweat, and tears before they can become flesh, and I gladly make these offerings at the altar of my muse. I have a feeling that this is a time in my life that I’ll want to remember. I want to preserve this exquisite exhaustion, this trembling feeling of anticipation, so very like the last weeks of spring before the world erupts into summer. And because I write, a single jar of ink, soon put down onto paper, seemed the natural choice.

This ink is my way of paying tribute. To spring, to lilacs, and to possibility.

Continue reading

Edible Flowers & A Beltane Bowl

In EAT

Beltane Bowl - The Wholesome Handbook
It’s Beltane, and spring is full in her glory.

This ancient Gaelic festival celebrates an earth suffused in her own beauty – fertile, sensual, and so very alive. The deer are rutting, the clover is fragrant, and the fae are afoot.

It is a time for leaping over bonfires and dancing ribbons ‘round the Maypole, weaving rosemary into your braids and wandering barefoot through new moss. It’s a time for handfastings, a time for lovemaking, for honouring our awakening wildness, and of course, a time for flowers.

Flowers are the quintessential symbol of Beltane and spring – colourful, fragrant, and sensual. We weave them into crowns, tuck them into buttonholes, soak in floral baths, shred petals for confetti, and yes – even eat them. There is something so poetic and primal about eating flowers, don’t you think?

This Beltane bowl is a little offering to spring, an edible hymn to life’s return. It’s chock full of peppery goodness, insanely gorgeous to behold, and leaves you feeling as fresh and youthful as the Maiden herself.

Continue reading

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Magic

In LIFESTYLE

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Magic - The Wholesome Handbook

“See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allow to wither in themselves”.
– from A Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon.

We all know someone who is just dripping with magic – who marches to the beat of their own drum, who seems to be able to navigate life with grace and style, who walks in a soft and wild confidence. They have the ‘it’ factor. They are beautifully alive, totally self-contained, and have an undeniable magnetism. Magic is our life-force. Magic is our presence, our libido, our creative energy. And many of us have lost it.

Working to reclaim our magic is an act of restorative self-care. When we are living in our magic, we become curious, passionate, strong, and wise. We thrive. Every person’s path is different, but if you are struggling with where to start, I recommend the following.

Continue reading

DIY Eggshell Seedling Starters

In CREATE, EAT

DIY Eggshell Seedling Starters - The Wholesome Handbook

I’ve never quite managed to keep a garden alive. I have all the best intentions, a potent bloodline of earth-working women to draw knowledge from, and a deep and abiding love for all things green – but most of my gardening experiments end in sad, wilted shoots that I pull up for the neighbourhood jackrabbits.

I don’t know why the green thumb gene skipped me. My mother has a gorgeous carpet of thyme in her garden that I jealously run my fingers through every chance I get, and buxom white peonies every June. My aunt is an absurdly talented florist. When I was young, my grandmother’s little house boasted a wilderness of flowers in the front, and a tangled, fairy-tale mass of pumpkin vines in the back. By all accounts, I should be an ancestral earth sage, Radagast-like, with herbs tucked behind my ear and dirt on my knees.

Alas. I just don’t have the knack. But I dearly hope to challenge that this year – I’ve meticulously sorted through seed packets of five-colour beets and heirloom kohlrabi to find creatures that might actually cooperate with me (torpedo onions and black cherry tomatoes). I’ve consulted the Farmer’s Almanac, the moon phases, the historical weather patterns, and several lovely women in my life who have beautiful gardens. Mark my words – I’ll be eating those onions come August.

I’m starting my seedlings in last week’s leftover eggshells. I love this no-waste alternative to plastic seedling trays, and once the seedling has outgrown its nursery, it’s easy to crack the egg a little and plant it right into the ground. The eggshell will decompose and provide a lovely source of calcium for your plant-babies.

DIY Eggshell Seedling Starters - The Wholesome Handbook

 

Continue reading

Equinox Bath Tea & The Forgotten Element of Self-Care

In CREATE, LIFESTYLE

 

Equinox Bath Tea- The Wholesome Handbook

Persephone is padding barefoot up the cold hill from Hades, flowers and herbs woven into her wheat-coloured hair. The earth quickens under her feet, seeds crack open, greenery thrusts tenacious fingers through the topsoil. It is the vernal equinox, and Persephone has emerged, blushing and breathless, from her dark kingdom below.

The Queen of the Underworld might, at first, seem like an unlikely candidate to breathe new life into the earth. But her deep-seated darkness is precisely why she’s the perfect woman for the job. Most life cannot grow with only sunlight to feed it. Life also needs dark, damp, rich soil to thrive.

We are no different from nature. We need both darkness and light to grow. Persephone is the personification of this fertile balance, and with her reappearance from Hades we can honour that which is unsavory, uncomfortable, and challenging, but ultimately healthy and fruitful.

Women, for too long, have been denied darkness. We’ve been told to file down our teeth, that our anger, frustration, despair, and grief are unsightly and displeasing. Unfeminine. Inappropriate. Indulgent. Our spiritual lives are bombarded with messages of pure love and cleansing light, and our darkness is treated as a disease to cure or a dragon to vanquish.

But by stifling the wild creature of our darkness, we also extinguish the magic of our light. Do not fear your night sky. It has lessons for you, hard truths, good medicine.

Continue reading

How to Spring Clean Your Entire Life

In LIFESTYLE

How to Spring Clean Your Entire Life - The Wholesome Handbook

Spring is finally, blessedly upon us, and she brings with her all that glorious opportunity for rebirth and renewal. Now is the time to till our soil, to breathe life into all of the corners of our soul, to release the old to make room for the new. It’s the ideal time to refresh not only our homes, but our entire lives.

Home 

Throw open the windows and let your rooms bathe in the loamy, leafy smell of spring. Wipe down your walls with lavender and sage, wash floors, scrub appliances. Gently tuck your winter blankets away for the season, and unfurl your sheer summer linens into the fresh air. Take everything you own out of your closet, and only put back the items that you love. Only the best should touch your body – donate everything else. Fill your home with new greenery, huge leafy philodendrons, dramatic string-of-pearls. Burn beeswax candles, shake out the rugs, re-season your cast irons, and scrub out the old frost from the icebox.

 

Continue reading

DIY Bookbinding – Yotsume Toji Dream Journal

In CREATE

 

Yotsume Toji Bookbinding - The Wholesome Handbook

Yotsume Toji Bookbinding - The Wholesome Handbook

Purpose.

We are so burdened by that little word. We spend our lifetimes yearning to be defined by our purpose. We search for it like trickling mountain creeks search for the ocean, pulled ever forward by that celestial, gravitational force. We dream of coming home, yawning wide into the sea of our elusive raison d’etre, and pouring our weary souls into inspiration, fulfillment, and happiness.

If we could just find our purpose, all of the messy, imperfect elements of our lives would fall into place. We wouldn’t feel that desperate longing to be more. We would walk through the world with all the grace and ease that we’ve been told we are owed. If only we find our purpose, we will be free. If only. If only.

So our hearts break. We wait and we wait, for purpose to come find us, for it to pluck us out of mediocrity and into the spectacular life we have been expecting. We wait for inspiration instead of seeking it, we jealously guard our hearts and minds, we become rigid in our ideas of what our purpose looks like, and by doing so, we forget to see what’s already in front of us.

Listen up, you gorgeous soul. You are already living your purpose, right here, right now. You have a completely unique set of experiences and wisdoms to share. You have gifts, talents, and struggles to lay bare at the feet of your altar. Bloom. Your purpose might not look like what you expected, but while you were waiting at the window like a lovelorn cat for your purpose to come knocking, it slipped in the back door.

Continue reading

Married

In LOVE

paige andrew married 0386

On September 5th, we were married in a relic of a hay barn, surrounded by century-old schoolhouses, a clutch of little marks on an endless stretch of Alberta prairie. The heavens gifted us the good omen of torrential rain and freezing winds.

Nothing on this day was not touched by the hands that also made us. My mother, with an army of our nearest and dearest, hung swaths of silk from the rafters and laid vintage saris down for an aisle. My aunt crafted the most beautiful florals I have ever set my eyes upon. My grandmother guided my hands and told me stories from her farm-grown childhood as we baked 20 pies together in my mother’s kitchen, a dozen dogs patiently waiting at our feet for scraps.

My little brothers worked tirelessly – escorting folks through the rain, running errands, rescuing bridesmaids. Our brother-in-law married us with the kindness and humour we love him for. My girls kept me sane. Every last person helped us set up, party, and tear down.

And our incomparably talented friend Brittany captured it all for us. These are a few of my favourite images from the day.

Continue reading