Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Recipe Corner - Zucchini Lasagna

As you probably know, I'm supposed to be wheat, corn, and potato free . . . and rice noodles tend to be pretty nasty.  Which means that if I want any type of noodle dish, I need an alternative.  For a while, I've been using my kitchen contraption for turning zucchini into noodles . . . and those are really good.  But it's nice to mix it up every once in a while . . . even if you're still eating the same food.  This dish was inspired by a recipe I found for making enchiladas with zucchini.

First, I sliced the zucchini very thin with my mandolin.  I found mine on Amazon, and I absolutely love it!  It's perfect for slicing anything . . . including apples to make apple chips!  

I cut two zucchini in half, both across and long ways.  Then I sliced them with the mandolin fairly thin and placed the first layer in my greased 8x8 pan.  Since it's just myself and my husband, this was the perfect size dish for us.  But since it ended up so tasty, I'm planning on making it in the full-size pan next time.

Next, I cooked up 1lb. ground beef (I'd use more if you're using a bigger pan) with a little seasoning and mixed in spaghetti sauce.  I then alternated zucchini and the meat mixture until I was out of meat sauce.  I placed a layer of mozzarella cheese on top and baked it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

And voila!  This really was tasty AND low calorie AND gluten-free.  You could also make it dairy free by removing the cheese or using dairy-free cheese.  I'm planning to experiment with this more . . . maybe substituting shredded chicken for the beef.  Or making an enchilada-esque lasagna.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

As sanctity and holiness decline, energy declines.

First, a brief synopsis of this particular talk:
"Work hard."  To be happy, we have to do more.  Most of us live below the level of our energy.  Do all that you can!  Work to the limit of your abilities.  

Our world suffers from indifference.  Is it possible that our Lord suffers more from our indifference than He did in the crucifixion.  Don't be bored with life.  When you're in love, you'll do anything.  

Waste yourself on others - give yourself to others.  When we save things only for ourselves, it becomes sinful - lust (our body); avarice (our money); pride (our knowledge).  

When anyone asks you to do things, be prepared to do more!  Energy is renewed if we love.  "As sanctity and holiness decline, energy declines." 

"Believe the impossible, and you can do the incredible!"  If you have faith, the impossible things can be done.  

Be generous with yourself!  "As we give, we get.  As we pour out ourselves, God gives us strength."
So often we find ourselves caught up in the drudgery of daily life, focusing on all the things we must do and all the things we wish we could do if we only had the time.  We begrudge our aid to others in our lives, especially those closest to us.  We want everyone else to help us out and make our burdens less.   

I'm absolutely guilty of this myself.  Of relying on my own strength to accomplish everything and failing to increase my reliance on God, Who alone can truly give me the strength I need.  So waste yourself!  Give all of yourself through God to others, and He will give you the energy to keep going.  And if we all did this . . . if we all wasted ourselves on others, surely others would take care of us.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Whirlwind Almost Adventures and the Beauty of D.I.Y.

Over the weekend, my dear husband and I decided to go house hunting, found a place, made an offer, but eventually rescinded the offer.  Yes, this all happened in 48 hours - start to finish.  But we learned some valuable things, and we got a better handle on where we're heading down the road.

Why the sudden urge to move?  Partially a good market.  But mostly the immediacy came from my spring fever and desire for a project or a change.  I used to rearrange my bedroom every 6-12 months for a change.  I was feeling a little stuck in our current home, and I wanted a change.  But as we pursued moving and discussed all of our options, we came to the conclusion that it would be more responsible and prudent to continue living where we are and save money rather than taking on a mortgage and doubling our current payments.  However, since we're staying where we're at, we are going to invest a little in some home improvements - and I'm excited!  These projects will make our current place much more OUR home, AND they'll tackle my spring fever.  

As these projects progress, I'm sure I'll be posting about my varying success with DIY projects.  The current list includes:

  • Removing the wallpaper in the kitchen.
  • Painting the kitchen.
  • Painting the kitchen cabinets (since new cabinets are not an option right now).
  • Painting the bathroom cabinets.
  • Framing the mirrors in the bathrooms.
There are many more projects that may come after these, but I'm excited to begin.  There's a part of me that sees these improvements as tackling a "Love It or List It" of my own . . . putting some love and time into making our place our own.  Blooming where we're planted.  Being content with what we have.  And saving and preparing for the future, whatever that may be.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Catching Up

It's been three weeks since my last post . . . I guess I failed with my "once a week post" resolution.  But that's ok.  I can get back up and start again.  Plus, I'm pretty sure that taking time off to study for the Multi-State Bar Exam is a valid reason for forgetting things like weekly blog posts.

Speaking of the exam, I have absolutely no idea how it went.  Nor do I particularly care.  Obviously, it would be nice if I passed.  But my ability to practice law is not a deciding factor in my future.  Even if my husband and I decide to start our own firm, we only need one licensed attorney (and he's already got that.)  I can help with the work without being licensed, as long as he is the one with final say.  Besides, we've got our whole life ahead of us . . . and God only knows where He's leading us.

The past two weeks I've been home studying/out of town taking the exam.  And they've been heavenly . . . even with all the studying.  It was a nice confirmation that my ultimate vocation is truly as a wife and mother (hopefully).  Whether that's near or far in the future, I know that's where God's leading me.  And that makes getting through today and the present much easier.  Because there must be something He's trying to teach me or show me where I'm at right now - if I would but open my eyes and see.  

Lent begins today (Ash Wednesday), which means it's time for Catholics to renew their New Year's Resolutions. ;)  In all seriousness, I really love that the Church gives us this period of time to sacrifice and work on ourselves and our relationship with God, keeping our earthly life and our heavenly goal in perspective.  And one of my Lenten works is trying to focus on the good in each situation rather than complaining about all the little, annoying rubs.  With God's help, I'll be able to find joy in my daily sacrifices and draw closer to Him.

May you all have a blessed Lent!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"The Bond of Perfection"

"All programs and resolutions of the spiritual life are of little value if they are not animated by love and directed to the perfection of love."  ~ The Divine Intimacy, #70
We read in Scripture about "faith, hope, and love . . . and the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13.  We also read that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16.  What an incredible love that God would sacrifice His only Son for us?  And yet do we really understand or appreciate that love?  Does our desire to participate in that love drive our relationship with God and our spiritual life?  Or do we get caught up in the details and forget the foundation?
"The spiritual life requires the use of so many means, calls for the exercise of so many virtues that care must be taken lest we become lost in details, forgetting the love which should be the foundation and end of all."  ~ The Divine Intimacy, #70
Developing our spiritual life entails incorporating so many prayers of various forms into our lives.  Of setting apart time each day dedicated to meditation and contemplation of God.  Of bettering our relationship with God so that we can better hear His voice and follow His path for our life.  Of attending mass and the sacraments regularly.  Of practicing virtue, aspiring to Christ's example in our actions and thoughts.  I don't know about you, but I often get so caught up in trying to remember and do ALL these things that I forget WHY I'm doing them.  That my love for God is the underlying foundation, the driving force behind any and all of this!

As my friends know, I'm extremely detail-oriented.  I love planning and checklists and organization.  I don't do terribly well with impromptu changes or no plan at all.  And organizing my spiritual life is helpful to a certain extent; however, I find that sometimes I spend so much time planning out how I'm going to do ALL the things (daily Rosary; daily meditation and reading; Mass on Sundays; etc.) that I forget Who I'm struggling to do all of this for.  Having a plan is great, but if I lose sight of my end, then all the planning in the world is worthless.

The greatest of these is love.  Let us remember that in our daily lives.  As we go about our vocations, keep love at the forefront (I'll write a post later on about the difference between love and just letting people get whatever they want).  Keep God at the forefront of everything.  Let His love for you and your love for Him illuminate and drive your existence! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What Can We Give God?

"Suffering is the only thing that is impossible for [God], Who [is] glorious and omnipotent, the only thing which [God] [does] not have and which I can give [Him.]"
It's hard to believe that I've already been doing the readings in The Divine Intimacy for over two months now.  Time is certainly flying by - how is it already February?  Anyway, I'm extremely grateful that my friend suggested we do this reading.  There isn't always a huge "AHA" moment each day, but every day there is something worth learning and contemplating.  

Yesterday, the reading and meditation was on "Living Christ" - how our "imitation of Christ should not be limited to some particular aspect of His life; it means living Christ and becoming completely assimilated to Him."  The Divine Intimacy, "Living Christ," pg. 181.  The passage went on to talk about how we are called to be an extension of Christ's humanity to the world, a conduit through which He can pour out His graces upon the world.  Now that He is in glory in heaven, He can no longer suffer . . . yet we here on earth can.  And what do you give a God Who has everything?  The one thing He can't do.  

Through our sufferings, if offered up to Him, we can attempt to express at least a small portion of our eternal gratitude to Him for all that He has given us in this life.  There are many ways people have looked at suffering.  Some claim that it is a punishment.  That God wouldn't let us suffer if He really loved us.  On the contrary, He lets us suffer BECAUSE He loves us.  If we do not suffer or struggle in life, how can we see our own inadequacy and eventually turn to rely on Him?  Then there's also the added factor of redemptive suffering, whereby we can offer our sufferings to God for Him to use to aid others. 

And I'll leave you with these quotes from 63. Jesus Calms the Tempest:
"God is not a tyrant who crushes us, but a Father, who tests us because He loves us.  If He permits sorrow, interior or exterior trials, personal or public vicissitudes, it is only to draw out of them some greater good.  Virtue and goodness are strengthened in time of difficulty; the efforts made in bearing trials tend to make us surpass what we would have done had we enjoyed perfect calm."
"If we are disturbed and upset by trials, it means that we lack faith.  Even when God conceals Himself, when everything seems to fail us and we feel terribly alone, we can be absolutely certain that God will never abandon us if we do not first abandon Him.  Instead of becoming bitter or falling into despair, it is the moment to intensify our faith, to make strong acts of faith."
"Many times we fail to surmount interior difficulties because we work alone.  God wants us to experience our own insufficiency; therefore, He lets us struggle until we have recourse to Him with full confidence.  Certainly God wants our efforts, but He does not want us to place all our hope in them.  This accounts for the small progress so many make on the road to sanctity - too much reliance on their own resources, too little on God's help."
Lord, I ask that You help me and all Your people to recognize and acknowledge our own inadequacy and to turn to You for aid through Your grace.  Help us to follow Your path for our lives, wherever that may lead.  To place our faith in Your plan. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Following Through With My Resolutions . . . Fitness & Food

Good morning!  

I <3 the turquoise color!
I'm super excited about my new FitBit Charge 2!  A friend of mine was telling me about hers, and I decided that it would really help me get on track and stay on track with two of my resolutions - food and fitness.  The app makes it super easy to track food and portion, and seeing how many calories I've eaten throughout the day compared to the amount of calories I've burned is extremely motivating.  I've been super terrible at following my no sugar etc. . . . way too much ice cream and donuts and sweets and ALL the things I shouldn't be eating have been consumed over the past month.  But I resolved again this week to actually cut it out.  I sacrificially consumed the rest of the ice cream in the house last night, so no more temptation there.  And I've eaten so many bad carbs the past few weeks that I no longer really crave them, which is also good.  So now to keep that up and attack the portion control - which is where the FitBit calorie tracker comes in.  Plus, I can also track my water intake - which will help me meet that goal AND keep me less hungry.

Being able to track my sleep is another cool feature that will help with overall healthiness.  I got 6hr, 56min of sleep last night - only 6 minutes of which was awake/restless sleep.  That's good, right?  Honestly, the fact that the FitBit Charge 2 tracks my sleep at night is one of the key reasons I took the plunge and bought one.  I've wanted to be able to track my sleep patterns etc. for a long time, but every app on my phone requires the phone to be IN BED with me . . . which just doesn't sound like a good idea.  Thus, having a device that I'm not terrified of dropping or squishing is AWESOME!

Finally, fitness.  I love how customizable the FitBit is for every goal - steps; stairs; exercise; weight; etc.  I know I need to exercise more, and I'm still struggling to keep on top of everything else going on in my life . . . which is why I haven't yet found the time to actually think about fitness, let alone incorporate any exercise into my life.  But my current goal is to make meeting at least the 10,000 step goal a daily habit.  I figure if I can at least be moving that much during the day AND eating right for my blood type, I'll be on track with making these regular habits.  An added bonus is the heart rate tracker.  I'm hoping that I can have the presence of mind to take note of my heart rate when I start to develop anxiety so that I can remind myself to take time to calm down and focus.

How do you keep track of fitness and food?  Any tips?