1985 called

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I love, love the colorful workout pants… ON EVERYONE ELSE. They’re adorable and they catch my eye every time I see them on people. But when I put them on, it just feels like “1985 called and they want their pants back”. I just can’t do it. I like my plain, black, THICK workout pants.

I’m not giving up though.  I will try again to get out of my box on this. If you read my previous post about the mismatched socks, you may remember that I have found freedom in surrendering before.  There’s a carefree attitude than can easily sweep across us when we embrace the going-for-it.  Joy can be in the littlest of things like non-black spandex.

Getting out of our comfort zone can be good for the soul, so I’m going to keep trying.  Like I wrote about yesterday, I had fun coloring my world in a day. I just can’t color my bottom half quite yet.  Perhaps this could be a good exercise in perseverance and goal setting.  Colored spandex, I’ve got my eyes on you.  Legs, get ready.  🙂

color my world

Color makes me happy.  I have never done a bible study (picture below) where I marked over the words of my bible so much.  I mean, I LOVE my journaling bible but pretty much stay in the margins.  Color coding so many different colors on so much scripture just felt a little weird when I started.  But then I realized, the whole reason I bought this bible was to get more hands on.  I wanted to write, takes notes, decipher, and learn in a way I hadn’t done before.  I wanted to step out of the box of how I had always studied.

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Seeing the pages of my bible so colorful makes me smile.  So much so in fact, that I decided I was going to try to add more color all throughout my day, to get out of my margins a little bit and be more hands on.  I want to color my whole day happy.

Below is a list of things that added color to my day… to the everyday.  Things that ordinarily seem mundane, but for today became a little more vibrant and noticed.

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1-I used one of my favorite coffee mugs this morning.  I bought it on a stop we made in Luckenbach, Texas on a girl’s trip.  I love Texas, I love country music, I love time with my girlfriends, and I love Willie Nelson’s songs.  I smile every time I use this mug, which was handcrafted by a local artisan.

2-I grabbed a different pair of tennis shoes to wear to my jazzercise class.  I haven’t worn them in forever because I prefer the fit of my others, but I love, love, love the colors of these!  Every time I looked down while teaching class, I smiled.  I’m happy to be back with my jazz friends, getting stronger each day, and working on my physical health.  Coming off of an injury, I am feeling grateful that I can exercise.  On a different note, yes those are mismatched socks in the worst way.  You can check out my thoughts on letting go and living surrendered on one of my earlier blog posts.  All because of a pair of mismatched socks.

3-I listened to different music on my way to class today.  My ipod is my lifeline for jazzercise.  It is loaded with SO many great songs that I get to teach routines to.  I skipped around my playlists, finding songs I haven’t listened to in a while.  Good music always makes you smile!

4-I brought my water bottle with me while I had to wait on an oil change at the car place.  Any other day the red blinds probably would have gone unnoticed as just part of the whole car waiting room décor, but for today, they make for a nice contrasting backdrop for my pretty blue water bottle (I’ve got a previous blog post about that, too!).  I mean, really, when is the last time I’ve seen bright red blinds in a window?

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5-I easily noticed the green summer grass!   I walked out to our back patio this morning, to water a plant that my mom gave me for Mother’s Day.  When I looked over to this exact spot in the photo, THERE WAS A SNAKE!  It’s head was sticking up from underneath the edge of the patio.  I screamed and he went back under as quickly as I could get back inside.  The part of this that’s outside of my margins?  I took this photo after GOING BACK OUTSIDE.  I faced a fear (felt a little heebie-jeebie-ish while I did so) but I got the plant watered.  It was the fastest watering job ever, but for now I’m calling it Me-1, Snake-0.

6-These simple containers will be filled tomorrow with fresh fruit for church on Sunday.  I helped start a health and wellness ministry at our church a couple of years ago.  It is something near and dear to my heart.  One part of what we do is provide healthy alternatives to donuts on Sunday morning.  I LOVE our MOVE Ministry- what we do, the people that participate with us, and meeting new friends.  It makes me smile OFTEN.

7- Laundry!  Typically I would look at this table covered with clothes that I need to fold and think, “ugh!”.  But today, I just noticed the COLORS.  99% of the time I don’t look favorably at folding clothes.  But while focusing on coloring myself happy today, and thinking OUTSIDE of my usual margins, I felt grateful for this variety of colors.  They represent four healthy daughters and a healthy hubby.

8-My lunch today.  Yummy!  I had fresh summer foods and a shrimp burger (my new favorite that I will be blogging about soon).  Eating a rainbow- from God’s garden, not a skittle bag- made me happy.  It made my insides feel happy.  And how lucky am I that I can get all of this right down the street at the grocery store.  🙂

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9- A lovely gray rain shower. Gray CAN be happy. Summer showers are perfect for snuggles and movies and forts. Even the pups like to get in on it. And it leads to…
10- Snacks! Yummy yogurt dessert to be exact. It’s been my go-to sweet treat since I started Weight Watchers.  You can’t see the chocolate chips in it but they’re a must. The pretty colorful flower bowl made it all cheery and good, especially on a rainy afternoon.
11-  Like they say, our kids- they’re watching us. This is my youngest lunch plate- she wanted to make it pretty and colorful “like mom does”. She even cut one of her strawberry slices into a heart. My older daughter also snap chatted me a picture of her pretty food plate. (But I’m new to SC and still learning the ins and outs and did not get a screenshot).
12- Riding shotgun. This one could be bittersweet if I let it, but I’m not. It’s happy in a different kind of way, a color I really  haven’t used before.  My oldest daughter now has her permit and is wanting to drive us EVERYWHERE. On one hand, it’s great to be chauffeured after 17 years of driving. On the other, we are now THERE…. watching our child gain her independence and confidence to go out on her own into the world. Today, I’m coloring my world with the joy of watching her blossom. I will cherish this sweet spot of her getting-ready-to-fly-but-not-quite-yet. And I will enjoy the ride.

Today was a good day.  I went about my usual habits and errands with an intentional eye.  I noticed things and paid attention.  Little moments, big moments, mundane tasks… the everyday.  It was all highlighted in different colors that meant something to me, just like the page in my bible.  Yes, colors do make me happy.  🙂

 

family produce project-purple and white asparagus

Our second week of family bonding over veggies proved to be just as fun as the first.  No, seriously.  It has been so much fun for all of us to just hang out in the kitchen, cooking and laughing together.  There may be a few moments of everyone trying to take charge and be the boss of everyone else, but honestly, if that didn’t occur in a kitchen of four daughters and a mom, I may have to look out the window for flying pigs.

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The veggies chosen this week were asparagus.  However, we didn’t choose the regular green vegetable that my girls are decent fans of.  We found both the purple and the white variety and thought we would check out how they compare to what we already know.

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In their raw state they are actually quite pretty.  I never think of white when I think of produce.  I think of bright green and deep reds and warm oranges and yellows.  Seeing a bundle of cauliflower colored stalks is just different.  They definitely have a clean, crisp Spring vibe.  If they weren’t five dollars a pound, they would even make beautiful centerpieces- the tidy bundles placed in bunches down the table’s center- tied up with pretty twine or ribbon. What a simple, rustic, natural look.

But this is a food post, not a decorating how- to, so back to the veggies. The purple stalks are just as pretty.  They are a deep, dark hue with a gorgeous texture.  And, to our surprise, once you cut into it, the inside is green!

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When we got these home, we had to figure out how to prep the stalks for cooking.  The purple aren’t too different than regular green asparagus.  You simply wash them, snap off the ends, and chop them to the desired size.  And this really not a sad step in the produce prep, as my daughter would have you believe with her expression.  In reality, I think she’s feeling like her sister is taking too long with the we-haven’t-used-it-in-a-while carrot peeler (see below) and that she has waited longer than enough for her turn.

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The white asparagus, having a tougher outer skin, do require peeling.  The girls took turns using the vegetable peeler and got them all trimmed up.  These needed the ends snapped, too, and are more fragile to work with.  They are also smaller so we were careful to not waste too much of it in the prep. More often than not, when we got to peeling, the stalks would break at some point.  It really wasn’t a big deal since we were chopping anyway, but it was a bit of nuisance to chase rogue pieces when you’re in your peeling groove.  And our hopeful dog goes for rogue pieces of most anything, but asparagus are not one   (Note the purple piece, untouched, on the floor next to him.)

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While a couple of the girls are peeling and chopping,  the other two are looking up how they want to cook these.  They all decided sautéing was the way to go.  So, they found a simple recipe of using part olive oil, part butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and sautéed each color separately.  They started with the purple first.  Once we got it cooking, we learned that they don’t stay purple- they turn green!

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We did a little research right then, and that is a fact of cooking purple asparagus.  They turn a green to bronze color but keep some purple accents when cooked.  There’s nothing wrong with it, of course, but if you want to retain the beautiful contrast of the purple skin and green flesh, you can eat them raw. They would look oretty to just slice them in thin pieces and add to a salad.  Never peel the purple skin off or you’ll lose the phytonutrients and antioxidant power that it’s color provides!

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All in all, both of these were a keeper.  The girls all agreed they would eat these again, so yay!  It was fun to see them try each one and do their best to decipher the different flavors and textures each provided.  The purple were preferred, maybe because they do have a slightly sweeter flavor.   The white had a slightly tender, more crisp texture to them.

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Aside from the prep and the cooking, here are a few fun facts we learned:  white asparagus are grown without light.  It’s a process called etiolation.  The dirt is kept mounded up around the emerging stalks, to keep the light away.  This prevents photosynthesis from occurring.  The plant will not produce any chlorophyll, which is what would turn it green. This is obviously labor intensive for the grower and adds to the cost of the product.  White asparagus are considered a delicacy in Europe as well.  And nutritionally speaking, one cup of asparagus provide 3 grams of fiber, 4-5 grams of protein, and antioxidants.  They are high in vitamins A,B, C and K and are a good source of copper and iron.

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After just a couple of weeks of intentionality in the kitchen, my girls do seem more at ease with using basic kitchen tools and following a simple recipe’s directions without asking me 85 questions before each step.  They seem more confident.  They’ve also already picked out the next produce we will try next week.  I can take that one of two ways:  either they secretly enjoy their mother’s food nerd tendencies and kitchen lessons, or they are appeasing me in hopes that they’re scoring brownie points to keep in the bank for the future.  Either way, we get time together doing something productive and fun and are making memories along the way. Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

seasons of stories

“He made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he put eternity in man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

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I am loving the @womenlivingwell study! I am learning about Solomon and realizing how similar his story of seeking earthly joys seems to our world today. I came across this previous note I made in the margins of my bible. It is from a women’s retreat I attended a couple of years ago.

I relate to it personally, but I think it can relate to so many of our stories here. We ALL have stories. I love following all of the stories I see on Facebook and Instagram, on Twitter, and on the blogs I follow. I find myself  learning so much day to day. I see people who are real and genuine in their fails, and so inspiring and humble in their successes. Let’s keep sharing, keep living out and telling our stories. Every part of His story is important. Every part matters…. YOU Matter.

Here’s what my jotted down notes say- notes from an incredibly wise young speaker:
“Our stories are going somewhere on purpose! Some days I feel I may have a larger part of God’s story than other days, but to God every part is important. Every part is intertwined and interdependent. Even the smallest of “parts” can have an impact for years to come. I need to remember that.”❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blackberry-basil flatout pizza

After hanging out on Pinterest over the weekend, I stumbled on the most delicious looking pizza I had seen in a long time.  The pin linked me to The Food Charlatan and I instantly LOVED her site.  Her food looks amazing, her style is very down-to-earth, and her photos bring it all to life.  And this recipe… oh my goodness!  It was different- full of fresh blackberries, creaminess, fresh basil… not to mention the fresh dough it was baked on!  My mouth watered.  And I wondered why… these weren’t the typical flavors I was drawn to, and cheese is most definitely NOT my thing.  But I kept going back to check out the photos and read through the recipe wondering if I should just go for it.

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If you know me at all, you know that I tend to OCD on things once I get them in my head.  I just can’t help it.  So, at my next stop at the grocery store, I picked up a small carton of blackberries, ricotta, and the laughing cow cheese wedges.  As soon as I got home, I set out to try a lighter version from the recipe I had found…. one that I could use up just a modest amount of my weight watchers smart points for but still get the flavors I was craving.

I must say, it turned out to be SO yummy!  When you track food through the weight watchers app, there is an option to save the list of food you entered as a meal.  I love this new feature!  I used it right away for this pizza… I will most definitely be making it again!

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Blackberry-Basil Flatout Pizza

1 Italian herb flavored Flatout Bread wrap

1 wedge Laughing Cow Asiago cheese wedge

1 small carton fresh blackberries, rinsed

1/3 cups low fat ricotta cheese

1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Basil herb blend

olive oil

fresh basil

salt

pepper

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Brush one side of the Flatout bread wrap lightly with olive oil and bake in oven for 5-7 minutes just to crisp it up.  While it’s baking, place 1/2 cup blackberries in a bowl and mash until you get an even consistency.  In a second bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese and basil herb blend until fully incorporated.

Once the wrap is toasted, spread the laughing cow wedge evenly to cover.  Second, using a fork, begin to add the smashed blackberries on top, spreading evenly.  It works best to use a fork or slotted spoon to get the pulp and not the juice in this step.  Next, using a spoon, drop small dollops of the ricotta mixture on top of the blackberries.  It works best to spread it out evenly over the entirely flatbread, leaving a small space between each blob.  Sprinkle the grated parmesan and a a bit of fresh basil over everything and add a small handful of fresh blackberries evenly over the top.  These are easy to place sort of in between the ricotta pieces.

Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until edges are brown and crispy or cheese mixture is bubbling.  Top with the remaining fresh basil and enjoy!

I’ve gone ahead an included a photo of what it looks like to have two big bites out of your piece.  Get used to that view.  This pizza is so good, you will want to dig in fast!  And maybe be a little sad when you are all done…

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dark chocolate chia seed pudding

Chia seeds are one of most nutritious foods you can eat.  They are high in protein, fiber and omega-3s to name just a few.  Making them part of your dessert is a win-win- equals parts tasty and healthy!

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This recipe is about as easy as you can get!  The trick is to PLAN it far enough ahead of when you actually want to EAT it because it takes several hours to set.  It’s best to make it the night before and have it ready to go the next morning.  There are so many variations and flavors you can add to almond milk and chia seeds, but this one is by far my favorite!

1/2 cups dark chocolate Silk almond milk

2 Tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

fresh strawberries

Fat free whipped cream

semisweet chocolate chips

 

Mix together almond milk, chia seeds, vanilla and cinnamon.  Stir well.  Pour into glass dish and let sit overnight to set.  The mixture will congeal together.  When ready to serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream, fresh sliced strawberries, and a few chocolate chips.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

stones that are alive- wait, what?

1 Peter 2:5…”you also like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  As I finished up my last day of James, a 7 week bible study I took part in, I lingered around on this verse: sometimes it just takes me a little longer to soak in certain scripture. I kept going back to the words… “we are living stones… being built into a spiritual house…”

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I really had to think on this and what it meant.  I started to imagine a stone home where every single part of that structure is made of stone- floors, walls, stairs, pillars. Every stone is unique, cut and shaped to fit where it works best, where it fits in with others to make the overall design and function of the home work. Each stone fits together to make the whole, well, whole.

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I thought back to the verses in Peter, reading how we are like living stones. How we, as believers and followers of Christ, are all so unique and different from one another. We are all shaped and designed individually by God for His purposes. We all fit together and are using our lives… our talents… and are building His spiritual house, where we each serve and do the job we are designed to do.  So, in reading 1 Peter 2:5 again, am I doing my part? Am I living for the purpose He designed me for? I had a sinking feeling. If I am not, then what happens to that pretty house I envisioned? If my stone was missing, how stable is that part of the house? What if it’s not just me? What if several of us are not living out His plan for our lives?

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Imagine what would happen to the stone house if several of those stones were missing.  If you took just the right few out of the wall, it could collapse. Take a few stones from the staircase and it could be unusable, unable to help people move about the house.

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The same thing can happen in our world. God has called each of us to live our lives on purpose… with purpose…. surrendered. Each of our gifts and callings fit together to build an amazing spiritual home. If I don’t do my part- what happens to the overall design of His home? How can we secure our stone in the exact spot God wants it and strengthen the overall design He created and planned?

Dear God, I want to be a strong living stone for you. Please help me to live a life surrendered to you. Help me find and nurture the gifts you have given me so I can be a stone, set in place, in your spiritual house. Guide me to seek and encourage others to stand confident in who they are and to help us all stand firmly in the place you have called us. Amen.