Food Menu for August Alberta retreat

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

A theme was created for this years summer retreat which included the food that was shared with the participants.  ‘InTouch Lifestyles’ at Inside Awareness includes a focus on the environment.   We consider that living food items stimulate one’s physical, mental and emotional experience.  Our belief is that food is an environmental influence for health, wellness and happiness.

Our menu’s included:

Healthy Water Infusions & Teas

Moringa Infused Water & Tea

Beet Kvass Infused Water

Ginger Infused Water & Tea

Spruce Tree Branch Infused Water

The water used for daily infusions was set out in the sun for solar infusion and under the new moon for infusing the qualities of the moon.  Each glass jar also sat on written words that would infuse into the water such as:  Healing, Vitality, Inspiration, Compassion, Love, Balance and more.  Have you read the words that are on the outside of the popular Kombucha drinks by GT’S that are there for the same intention?  or, read Messages of the Water by Dr. Emoto?

Fermented Foods

Home-made Sauerkraut – high in fibre, Vit A, C, K & B, a good source of iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium & calcium


Fermented Beets & Turnips

Garlic Cloves Infused in Apple Cider Vinegar

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria and it enhances ones immune system.  Eating fermented foods adds beneficial bacteria and enzymes to ones intestinal flora which increases the health of gut microbiome and digestive system.


Simple Fun Foods for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Eggs with Veggies & Salsa

Chicken Quesadilla with condiments & Black Bean Salad with Cilantro & Feta  (includes Home-grown Mung Beans & Urad Bean Sprouts)

Fish baked with orange, Veggies & Tossed Salad

Baked Apple Crisp

Fun, Healthy Snacks

Dark Chocolate

Dried Cranberries

Dried Ginger


Cherry & beet juice Popsicle


Our sincerest appreciation to Nicole for taking on the kitchen and creating some fantastic dishes for our enjoyment. Nicole arrived with her pup Mishka who was quickly identified as a healer.  This little pup radiates compassion and healing energies.

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Fermented Salsa


Wildflower Essences from Southern Alberta (#yyc’s) in August

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

Time was shorter than I hoped  to pick some wildflowers to infuse into flower essences from the Farm meadows in the Eastern Slopes of Southern Alberta (#yyc’s).  We had traveled to offer a Women’s Retreat and I had a desire to create from the land while present there.

On walks before our offering I noticed many gorgeous wildflowers blooming that would have potential for medicines and essences.  I have added a link for those interested in the wildflowers of this region below.  In the following picture are some of the flowers picked for the center of the labyrinth that was built facing the Rocky Mountains located between B.C. and Alberta (the great divide).

On the open meadows of the farm cattle roamed.  Mom’s and their babies curious at first of our arrival and comings and going.  As I built the labyrinth they appeared over the rise and hung their heads over the fence to observe what I was doing.  For a few days walking the labyrinth they would come by to observe us with curiosity and then showed up to watch our Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement sessions outdoors!  It was fun to look up and see a row of cattle squeezed together to get a better view of us.  We happened to be inside the fence and they the onlookers!


Cattle at the Farm

PDF – Common Coulee Plants of Alberta

Creating ‘Eastern Slopes Labyrinth’ in southern Alberta, #yyc



by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

This summer I was invited by Maria Vanderham, to a piece of land she calls, “The Farm”, to teach a workshop program on Listening which integrates mind, body and space to connect more deeply to one’s center.  As part of this journey we made a decision to create a labyrinth.

On arrival I discovered that there where two entrances to the homestead.  There is one gate to the land and a second one to the homestead to separate the grazing from the home space.  An area inside the second fence was chosen for the labyrinth.

Based upon a 9 square Ba qua grid  the area the homestead sits upon is in the area that transitions from the fame and relationship corners of the property, .  (Mentally I viewed the land to divide it into these nine squares.)  This means the labyrinth sits in the 1/3 square that reflects the helpful people area inside the homestead fence.  On the whole piece of land it sits in approximately where the two squares translation from fame to relationship.  All nice placements for a labyrinth.

This  homestead is in transition itself from old to new that is evident upon our arrival.  Old items had been partly carted away with the reminder left in piles on the patio to the house.  These items represented great works of art once displayed and now left to crumble.   Maria focused upon getting this sorted.  She supported my ideas of what could be recycled into use for the labyrinth creation giving it new artistic life and appreciation.  This included the wonderful stones.  Along with the stones Maria picked up a load of aging wood left on the land that was being cut up for fire wood.  She also discovered bones that had been found on the property that made a nice reflection in the labyrinth.  These natural elements together with coloured scarves, candles and a bird bath created the circuit borders to define the pathway for a wonderful walking experience.

The intention of the design was to support the natural objects of the farm and to create an active walk for inner reflection to better achieve a focused point of action in the center.  This was done by using the five elements and yin and yang shapes to support creating balance.  Stones and wood placements between the circuits were used to create interesting yin and yang shapes.  Candles to reflect fire were placed in the labyrinth and there was a bowl of water in the center to balance the fire aspect of action in the large stone with orange moss.  The shape of the bowl was metal that contained the water.  Another metal element containing water was used to support the blue birds in the bird housing along the labyrinth fence.  The feathers, round shaped container and water reflected the three elements of air, metal and water.  A jagged orange rock was placed around the edge of the bird bath to reflect fire.

Scarves were added to create the circuits between the paths to reflect our body energy centers called the Chakras, and one scarf was added by Maria to reflect a dear friend of hers who could not attend.  Participants were invited to add their own beauty as they arrived and we walked the labyrinth together.

Spontaneously a hand drum became apart of walking the labyrinth for the first few times.  Both Maria and I held one and played as we walked through the first time together setting a deeper connection to the upcoming weekend teachings.  Over the weekend there were many walks around the labyrinth that included drumming and singing.  The one rhythm I cherished sharing was the rhythm of the heart beat.  Walking the heart beat is the focus of my listening teachings in Feldenkrais®Movement, Compassion Communication and InTouch with the environment.  As we walk and listen to the sound of the heart rhythm there is an opportunity for our heart beats to align.

The entrance of the labyrinth was laid facing the east.  A direction in the Medicine Wheel that reflects new beginnings.  When I lay a labyrinth the center seed pattern reflects the seed pattern of the Medicine Wheel.  The both begin with a cross and each have a circular circumference.  As a body worker,  for me,  the labyrinth also reflects the potential forward and back plumb line movement of ones body posture and the side to side plumb line movement in posture that is required for better balance.  In a labyrinth one walks in a circular pattern crossing over the cardinal directions, while in a medicine wheel one walks around the directions.  The natural rhythm of balance within ones body includes spontaneous centering using the cardinal directions from the inside out.

Connect to ask about Labyrinth Programs for Adults & Children 

More on Labyrinths @ Inside Awareness

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Last of the Solar Powered Natural Plant Dyes of the summer, ’18

Dye Pots of Natural Plants

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

From left to right:  Rue Seed Pods & Stems, Oregon Grape Berries, Hollyhock Flowers, Crocsmia Flowers, Fennel Flower/Seed Pods

In Victoria there was a window of high heat from the sun these past two years that created a perfect opportunity to dye with plant materials using solar energy.  This year I used the pails pictured above for convenience and found that the glass is a higher heat that lasts even as the sun went down.  I also found that dye in glass left  more consistent absorption of dye into the material.  .

Rue Seed Pods & Stems

The dye from the Rue plant parts creates a nice tan with yellow tones.  I found infusing the plant in water under the suns solar heat takes a couple of days for the dye to emerge.  Rue can be used as a repellent so I used the water to steer ants away from my front door and off my driveway after I was finished with the dye!

Oregon Grape Berries

I found the dye infusion was immediate with Oregon Grape Berries.  To begin it was a beautiful purple that after a few days in the sun deepened into a navy blue shade.







Hollyhock Flowers

The Hollyhock flowers create a beautiful shade of pink.  I love being able to pick fresh flower heads to add to the dye pot to continue adding depth to the colour.  This is one of the first plants I began infusing in water to create a dye.

Crocsmia Flowers

This plant turns the dye water to a bright orange.  However the dyed material turns a bright yellow with orange tones to it. This plant is also one of the first plants I experimented with.

Fennel Seed Pods & Stems

This plant creates a bright green with yellow tones.  It takes a few dyes to infuse with water in the sun before the colour emerges for dyeing. One has to be patient.

Read more and see pictures of Hollyhock and Crocsmia plant dyes

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Sun Powered Natural Plant Dye Explorations: ’18

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

I have been spoiled by the Butterfly Tree (Buddleia davidii) dye baths.  They have been easy with good results and  no complications.  The plant dye was absorbed evenly into the material in the tops pictured below even though they were not treated in a soda or alum bath.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Tops dyed with Butterfly Tree

Here is a picture below of a top that was prepared for dyeing ahead of time with soda ash and alum baths.  It is a top sourced second-hand with a fluorescent image that was too bright for my taste.  I wondered how dyeing it would calm it down.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Top after a Butterfly Tree Flower dye bath

It completely calmed the image colours, however the picture is not showing the depth of colour the dyed outcome actually is.  The material itself is patterned and the coloured material from the dye differentiates this pattern.  It dyed the raised pattern  more quickly that is darker of the lower pattern which dyed more slowly.

The ease and colour consistency of the earlier Butterfly Tree flower dye bathes was misleading.  I came away thinking, “Wow, this is easy!”  However I am discovering that not all plant dye baths will have the same outcomes.  This is defiantly a learning experience as I go.

Just below are some sample patches of some exciting new and surprising plant colours.  I am noticing that the plant parts that are making the darker colours I enjoy are actually considered invasive species here in #yyj’s Greater Victoria Region.

pic by Renee Lindstrom

Natural Plant Dyes

In this photo it shows the dye water after two days in the sun and clothes after a day in the sun.  Had I taken the clothes out at this point the second sample from the left would be a light green and the third a bright green.  Both nice colours.  From left to right the plants are:

  1.  Saint John’s Wort – Landscaping scrub variety
  2.  Butterbur Leaves
  3.  Dried Feverfew branch with spent flower cuttings
  4.  Dried Butterfly Tree Flower cuttings

Here are two samples of Feverfew and Saint John’s Wort dye bath samples that were left for in for 3 days.  The Feverfew stayed bright and deepened in colour while the Saint John’s Wort in the photo above is dove grey while now it darken into a stronger colour with black tones.


Had I taken the top out of the Feverfew pot at 2 days it would have been an even and perfect dye absorption.  Unfortunately, I left the clothing in the pot with the plant matter to darken in the sun.  The plant material against the material created dark spots.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Top dyed with Feverfew – spotted after leaving in pot too long with plant material

I can type in the same for the Butterbur plant parts.  This plant is extreme in it colour variations and even having the material bunched up causes differences in the absorption of the colour.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Butterbur Plant Dye – clothing left in pot with plant material

I have just learned that when dyeing clothes to soak the plant material in the sun until reaching desire dye colour.  Then filter out the plant material before putting in the articles to dye.   I have come away now understanding that dyeing wool and clothing articles have differences.  Experiential learning!

A oberservation I had that I did not pay attention to at the time, is that when I first put in the clothing to absorb the colour they absorbed colour immediately.  I had my mind-set on slow-colouring and now realize that had I followed a similar pattern of moving the articles through the dye bath evenly the results may have been different.  Next time!

Now I am off to change the steps in my post about Dyeing cotton using Natural Plant Dyes! 

Read more on Natural Dye Plants, Dyeing with Butterfly Tree Parts

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This post may contain Affiliate Links, thank you in advance for your support!  Renee

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Sprouting Camellia Sinensis (Tea Leaves)

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

Camellia Sinensis (Tea Leaves) inside Table Top Greenhouse


I hope you can see the little round balls on black landscaping paper inside this Table Top Greenhouse.  These are Camellia Sinensis that I hope to start and grow in #yyjs Greater Victoria area.  As I mentioned in post about starting Moringa Seeds, it was one of small trees I had hoped to focus on this year.

The first attempt of soaking and sprouting these seeds did not result in germination.  Inspired by the success of  germination in the second attempt at the Moringa Seeds here is another attempt with these Tea Plant seeds.


These seeds soaked for 24 hours and I did notice that some seeds sunk and others stayed floating.  I have read research that suggests the seeds that do not sink are not healthy or the pods are empty.  Others suggest they have started seedlings with the floaters.   In the first round I soaked the seeds and cracked the shells open.  Now  I have just come across someone who places their seeds in the sun for a few days to crack open.  This releases an agent that is in the shell to stop the seed from germinating.  I came across this with Kiwi Fruit!  They too have a substance around the seeds to stop them from sprouting that has to be removed.

So this is where the experiment rests for now while the sun does its part.  I expect to plant the seeds as soon as they crack and put aside for at least a month before noticing any sprouts.  Fingers crossed!  Stay tuned.

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“Hello little Moringa Sprouts”

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles


They are so tiny you may not see them in the pictures.  I feel like a new mom!  In an earlier post on Moringa Seeds and Leaves I mentioned how last winter I was given seeds and no matter how I tried they would not sprout.  I had two trees that I wanted to focus my attention on this year; the Moringa and the Camellia Sinensis (Tea Leaves).  I tried all different ways to get these seeds to sprout.  The Camellia Sinensis  could take 6 weeks or longer to sprout which is a long time to wait for nothing to happen.  Talk about watching a pot!

The year is not over yet and round two.  Noticing that the Moringa Sprouted this time around diminishes my disappointment experienced from the first attempt.  Not a loss of effort though as I think I have more understanding of the seeds.  Something had to have been gained by all the focus, right?

Once again I soaked the seeds in two ways.  One with shell on and one with shell peeled.  I began  with shells on and soaked them for 24 hours before planting them in sand.  I used small boxes of sand and just submerged them.  They were then placed in a small, and I mean small, tabletop green house in the hottest sun #yyj has received this year.  That was not my intention and I worried that they would bake in there.  Upon taking them out and digging one or two up I noticed they had sprouted.  Hallelujah.  This took about 10 days.

Mini Table Top Greenhouse

Watching these pots and not seeing any upward sprouting I decided to peel the shells on some more seeds and soak them.  After 24 hours these have been placed in the tabletop greenhouse and are now resting in sand.  I am curious to see if these sprout too.

For me it is exciting to observe these plants and learn more about them.  I hope to experience them grow tall enough to grow their infamous pea pods that are so abundant and nutritious that they are being naturalized in countries that lack both of these; food and nutrition.  It is my experience that with increased nutrition there is decreased addiction.  Could this be an angle to focus on with support in our own community?  I would like to explore this as a new table vegetable for myself as well.

Stay tuned, my living room may be full of Moringa Trees this winter.  Maybe I have to dream in a shared greenhouse that someone is not using?

Read more on the benefits of Moringa 

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