Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recipe Corner - (Sweet) Potato Roses

This was my first year hosting Easter dinner, and I was excited to try out a new recipe I saw on Facebook:
 

I adapted the recipe somewhat - using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and no cheese.  But they were super easy AND super scrumptious!

Pre-baked roses looked so pretty!
I sliced the sweet potatoes using my handy mandoline (definitely a MUST HAVE for any kitchen).  Swirled the spices in the olive oil, layered the potato slices over a slice of bacon, spread the oil, and rolled them up.  Easy peasy.  I ended up using a mini muffin pan for baking . . . I'd advise toothpicks to hold them together if you're using a regular size muffin pan.

Turkey from Honey Baked Ham
Sweet Potato Roses from my kitchen!
Then I baked them, and they smelled delicious!  I am definitely making these again.  They were a huge hit at dinner, and my husband said I can make them any time I want.  

What are some of your favorite holiday dishes?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On Your Own Time

It's been almost two years (July 2015) since I first took the Florida Bar Exam (an awful experience), and then a few months later found out that I had failed . . . by 1/2 of a point . . . not even a full question.  At that point, I took it as a sign and a blessing from God that I didn't HAVE to be an attorney . . . seeing as I've never wanted to practice law.  While my immediate family and closest friends understood that and didn't really pressure me to retake it, I spent many months fending off inquiries, motivational speeches, and guilt trips from pretty much everyone else.  And all that pressure?  Nobody wanted to accept that I was completely and utterly FINE with not passing.  They just couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that my goal in life was (and still is) to be a wife and mother.

Fast forward to September or October 2016.  I'd spent the last YEAR explaining and re-explaining my attitude towards the bar exam and how I was absolutely, positively NOT retaking it.  Ever.  And while many people would love to take credit for what happened in the past six months, it was my decision, on my time, and for my reasons.  See, the first time I took the bar exam . . . it was like pulling teeth.  I didn't want to take it at all, but everyone convinced me that if I was graduating from law school, I had to at least try.  So I did.  I studied diligently.  I completed 100% of the bar prep program.  And I failed.  By 1/2 a point.  When people asked afterwards why I failed, I said it was (a) reading too fast and missing one of the triple or quadruple negatives PLUS (b) the fact that my heart wasn't in it.  Anyway, back to six months ago, I finally had my own reasons for retaking the exam - I wanted a backup plan in a worst case scenario, and I wanted to be able to help my husband with legal matters if we ever started our own firm.  So I looked at my old paperwork . . . and it turns out I only had to retake one portion of the exam, and my other scores were still good.  So I took the plunge, signed up, and started studying.  Of course, I wasn't going to spend $$$$$ on another bar prep program, but I did use many resources in the library to study - mainly hundreds of multiple choice questions.

Fast forward to February 2017.  I'd mostly forgotten the reasons WHY I decided to retake the exam, but it was too late to back out.  So there I was . . . sitting in the same room again, forcing myself to read "slowly."  I still finished with almost an hour to spare, and that freaked a lot of people out.  But whatever.  I've always finished exams super early.  When I walked out, people asked how I thought it went.  I very confidently told them that I got two questions right . . . out of two hundred.  And that was it.  I didn't have my hopes set on passing.  I didn't think I passed.  I didn't care if I did or not.  I'd tried again, and that was that.

Fast forward to April 10, 2017.  Bar exam scores were released.  I checked.  And double-checked.  And checked about another hundred times.  Yep.  The file number was correct.  The sheet said I passed and was ready to be admitted to the bar.  I admit I was shaking when I first read it . . . I mean, I passed the Florida Bar Exam!  Yahoo!  But I still don't plan on really practicing . . . except in an assistatory capacity with my husband.  And everyone so far that I've told has been far more excited than I am.  But I do feel blessed, and I'm sure God's got a reason for why I passed now.

Anyway, I did it in MY time (and God's) . . . not bending to the peer pressure to retake it immediately.  I waited.  I relaxed.  I got past the bad taste of law school and the bar exam.  And, most importantly, I WANTED to retake it.  I wasn't being forced to do it.  And that made all the difference, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sit Still; Look Pretty

Does it ever scare you how distorted modern music makes relationships sound?  That all men are selfish pigs.  That all girls are simply put upon and used.  That romance means a quick tumble in the backseat.  That love means a pretty girl and a hot guy.  I find it hard to listen to the radio these days (for many reasons), but chiefly because the lyrics depress me.  And they disguise their subversive message in upbeat, happy tunes - like "Sit Still, Look Pretty".  A fun tune to listen to . . . but the lyrics?
You get off on your 9 to 5
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I'm never gonna be 'cause I don't wanna be
No, I don't wanna sit still look pretty
The refrain makes a marriage sound like a death sentence for the women.  That their sole purpose is to make their husbands look good.  And the subliminal message, at least to me?  Women who choose to stay at home and care for their families with their picket fences are being used and essentially suffering from some kind of Stockholm syndrome.  
That Snow White
She did right
In her life
Had 7 men to do the chores
'Cause that's not what a lady's for
And then this!   As if women somehow feel entitled to have a man do EVERYTHING for them while they sit around ruling the world and doing whatever they want.  How have we lost the understanding that responsibility and a shared partnership in marriage is what it's really about?  That marriage isn't simply "the only thing a boy's gonna give a girl for free's captivity" . . . but that it's a beautiful example of self-sacrifice?  Or at least it's supposed to be.
I'm never gonna be that girl
Who's living in a Barbie world
. . . . . 
This queen don't need a king
. . . . .  
But this gal right here's gonna rule the world
Now, I understand that not every girl is as girly as I am . . . that we have different personalities and likes and dislikes etc.  And granted, Barbie definitely gave a skewed view of the world as well.  But not needing a king?  That's simply not true.  And I'm not advocating that every woman needs to get married.  Absolutely not.  There are definitely women who are called to the religious life or to the single life.  But in that case?  Their king is God alone.  And in a marriage?  The relationship between the husband and wife is meant to mirror that between Christ and the Church.  Wives are called to submit to their husbands - not to rule the world.  I mean, have you met women?  We're awesome at organization and love and brainstorming . . . but we also tend to think with our hearts first, which could have disastrous effects on a nationwide level.  Because in business and economics and politics, logic should come first.  Even if it feels awful.  And men are just better at that in general . . . at least, they used to be before society emphasized being in tune with their emotions so much that we wound up with a bunch of boys who can't handle adult responsibility.  And then women swooped in to take over and fix things.  And we've got the mess we have today.  And yes, I'm aware there's a lot more nuance to that story . . . but that's the topic for another day.

So what's the bottom line?  Other than the fact that these lyrics and all others like them really piss me off?  Marriage is a partnership.  It's a union of self-sacrifice and giving for the other.  It's helping each other get to Heaven.  It's not a phenomenon where the woman is constantly downtrodden and used as an object.  And it's not a situation where the man is constantly overruled by the woman and made to feel inferior and incompetent.  It's a union where the two become one and they use their individual skills and abilities and gifts together to create a firm foundation and a solid example for their children and the world.  At least that's my two cents on the matter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bloom Where You're Planted

Do you ever get that nagging feeling that something is missing?  Or the little green monster pops up unexpectedly at the worst times and reminds you of all that you're missing?  He compares your meager and measly life to the thriving ones of your friends and family, convincing you that you're never going to achieve your dreams and that life is just a drag - well, a drag for you anyways.

Believe you me, I'm well aware of how quickly and deeply that little voice pierces your soul.  And you catch yourself focusing on all the things you don't have yet and may never have rather than on all the blessings in your life.  There's a saying: "Bloom where you're planted."  And honestly, that's the answer to your jealousy and sorrow.  For better or worse, God has placed you where you are right now for a reason - maybe to test you; maybe to prepare you for trials ahead; maybe to give you blessings you don't even realize.  And that little monster talking about YOUR dreams and YOUR wishes?  He's trying to turn your attention away from God's plan for your life and make you focus solely on your own idea of what should be happening.  And then making you feel like crap when that isn't the reality.

Of course, blooming where you're planted doesn't mean you shouldn't be working towards those dreams as long as you aren't trying to go against God's plan.  And knowing what that plan is . . . well, that's a tricky business.  But if you pay attention, He'll show you.  Blooming where you're planted often means making the best of the situation you're in . . . focusing on the positive and learning the lessons you need to learn.  And oftentimes, being stuck in a situation far from your ultimate dream can help you discern what that dream really should be.

Your life isn't going to change with a snap of your fingers.  You have to make it change.  And if you keep trying and trying and hitting roadblock after roadblock, then either you're not trying hard enough or God is perhaps giving you a sign that you should try a different path.  Or maybe the devil is working against you.  Regardless, with discernment and reliance on God, you can figure out your path in life (at least for a few years down the road) and can then set about adjusting your present to prepare for the future you want.  If you want something, you're going to have to work for it.  The hard part is figuring out how.

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?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where Do You See Yourself?

Last week, this question came up in a group of people, and we were going around the room saying where we see ourselves going, what our goals are, etc.  Since I work at a law school, everyone's goals were centered around life after graduation - starting their own firms or working for a law firm etc.  I was last (and part of me hoped I wouldn't have to answer since I was one of the instructors . . . no such luck.)  And I just said the first thing that came to mind because it's been my goal and aspiration since I was five years old.  My goal?  I want to have 12 children.  And that's what I said.  I also added on that I enjoyed working and helping people because I do enjoy my job (and my co-instructor seemed a bit shocked that 12 children was the goal I chose to share with a class full of law students.)  In fact, he wanted to know if I had any law firm aspirations . . . to which I replied possibly if I get my license and my husband and I start something.  But in the back of my mind, I was thinking "Not really."  I absolutely support my husband as he considers starting his own firm, and I will do everything in my power to assist him in whatever way I can.  Especially while we don't actually have any children.  But I know, deep in my inner core, my vocation is to be a wife and mother.  It's all I've ever wanted and worked towards.  I fully believe that a large part of why God led me to law school was so that I could meet my husband.  Who also wants 12 children, by the way.  So that works. :)

Typically, when I tell people my goal is to have a large family, they laugh or dismiss it saying "Come back when you have two kids and tell me that."  Or something else along the lines of "That's all?  What about all of your potential for SO MUCH MORE?"  And my self-conscious introvert sits there and feels like I'm not good enough somehow.  That my dreams aren't "big enough" or whatever.  That somehow the world views the bearing and raising of children as insufficient for a fulfilling life.  That I, as a strong, intelligent woman, need to DO IT ALL in order to be truly successful.  That having that many children would mean giving up myself. (I will say it was refreshing that one person in the room last week said afterwards that my goal was admirable and worthwhile.)

When I hear those responses and reactions, I just want to scream back at them.  That having children and raising them to be good, moral, Catholics is the highest goal and aspiration I could ever have.  That my goal to be a mother is one of the most important in the world.  I mean, without mothers, how would the world survive?  We'd essentially breed ourselves OUT OF EXISTENCE!  It was really saddening to read a statistic the other day that more women today are choosing simply not to have children.  They just don't want them.  And I understand that having kids is hard work, absolutely.  And I know that I don't have first-hand knowledge yet since I don't have kids of my own.  But even so . . . what will become of our society if we don't have children?  

I've known my vocation as a wife and mother for decades now, and yet somehow I still feel doubt in myself when people question my goal.  Should I really be that selfish to want to just stay home and raise a dozen children?  Shouldn't I be contributing to society in some other way?  Shouldn't I be fiscally responsible and help generate income for my family?  And it saddens me that I know my calling, and yet I still allow others to spread doubt in my mind.  It's been a long struggle, and I'm definitely more confident in my goals than I used to be.  It helps that my husband fully supports this goal.  And what greater aspiration could I have than to share what little I know with my children who will one day go out into the world and continue on the next generation?  

I don't know what life has in store for me or when God will bless us with children.  But I do know that being a wife and mother is a noble, admirable, and sacrificial vocation - one that I am nowhere near worthy of successfully living but one that I am striving to fulfill as best I can.  And in the meantime?  I work and help the people around me as best I can.  And I place my trust in God that He's got all of this taken care of.  That He's the one in charge, and we're working with His timing and not mine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Letting Go

It's been a crazy week.  Classes started, so I'm up to my ears in lesson plans.  Bar prep is in FULL SWING, which means at least 50 multiple choice questions every day - should be more.  And life still goes on, which means chores and laundry (my husband fixed the washer!) and teaching piano and ALL the things.  All of which to say . . . I haven't had time or energy to come up with a new post this week.  But don't worry.  I won't leave you hanging.  This is a re-post from my old blog on letting go and dealing with emotions etc.  Particularly apt for myself right now, so I thought I'd share it with you all.
There are several ways to deal with anger, frustration, sorrow and the like.  Some people retaliate with force and sweep a path of destruction.  Some people crumble to the ground and bemoan their trials.  And some people don't seem affected at all.  These last often take the most dangerous approach to trouble.  They force their emotions aside as they deal with the problem at hand rationally.  While it is extremely useful to have a level head when dealing with trials, it can also be extremely dangerous if you never release your emotions.  I've seen first hand how burying your true emotions beneath layers of sturdy masks can damage and sometimes ruin relationships with everyone around you.  If you don't deal with the entire problem, you may fall in to the trap of developing a sub-conscious grudge that will grow and grow until you can't stop it.  But I also know how hard it is for these same people to let go of their control and just allow the emotions to take their course.  So here's my advice:

1.  Keeping a strong face in the midst of trials can be a good thing, especially if you have other people leaning on you for support.  Everyone falling to pieces solves nothing.  Just be careful of how many people you try to care for.  If you are a generous and loving person, it's often hard to say no or to even realize when you should.  You have to remember that in order to help them, you must also help yourself.  If that means taking 5 minutes or 5 days away from everyone else who leans on you, then so be it.  You don't want them to become annoying ticks rather than the friends and family you truly want to help and support.

2.  When you do take time for yourself, find an outlet.  Get the emotions out so that they don't continue to build up inside your heart.  I find an outlet through my writing.  Or talking to a very close friend.  Remember that a true friendship has give and take.  You rely on each other.  Just make sure that you deal with the emotions and your own pain in a timely fashion.  If you allow it to build up for too long, you often either forget it or become too overwhelmed.


3.  Be aware that the sorrows of your past (unless dealt with properly) will probably encroach on your future.  Some trial that you pushed aside years ago may suddenly resurface with vehemence.  So please face your trials.  Don't use comforting others as an excuse to hide once more behind the mask.  You needn't face them alone.  You can always find someone to help you, even if you can't see them.

Basically, don't bury your emotions and forget about them.  Push them aside if the present case calls for it, but don't forget to pull them back in and find closure regarding whatever the issues may be.  And if you have buried issues in your past, figure out how to solve them.  Do whatever you can to ensure that your heart is no longer a potentially hazardous waiting zone for grudges and thoughts of revenge or depression.  Seek out the light, and you will find it sooner or later.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year . . . New You . . . Right?

It's officially the New Year 2017 . . . and that means it's time for resolutions again!  For me, New Year's resolutions always seemed like an excuse to wait until January to begin something and then forget about it by mid-February (which is why I'm thankful for Lent because that really gives me something to work on).

So this year I have a few resolutions, and they happen to coincide with the new year . . . and I suppose it'll be interesting to see how far I make it over the course of the year.  Anyway, here they are:

Faith

My Catholic faith is the cornerstone, the foundation of my entire life.  Without it, I'd be floundering with no direction.  But like all things in life, faith cannot flourish if it remains stagnate.  So one of my resolutions this year is to develop my spiritual life.  I've already started this by reading The Divine Intimacy each day, but this resolution includes adding in a daily spiritual reading with my husband and eventually a daily rosary.  


Finances

While my husband and I are currently both blessed with full-time employment, our ultimate goal is to live within one income and funnel everything else into savings . . . for children or retirement . . . basically for the future.

This resolution is to curb spending, find more ways of cutting expenses, and learning how to have fun and enjoy life WITHOUT having to spend big bucks or go out to eat.  It also involves overcoming my occasional distaste for cooking our own meals, which ends up costing us too much money as we eat out instead.

Another aspect of this resolution is to develop a supplemental income to help pay for travel and fun trips and such.  This is through my business as an Independent Thirty-One Consultant (and if anyone is interested in learning more about the company or hosting a party, let me know!)

This was definitely me this week.

Food

Sweets.  Sugar.  Portion control.  These are things that I do not deal well with.  I've gotten better at portion control as far as actual meals go, but when it comes to ice cream or chocolate . . . I'm lost.  Plus, all that sugar is bad for me . . . supposedly.  So I'm cutting out processed sugar completely to start, and probably completely for the most part.  This will also help with the Finances resolution of cutting expenses . . . no more ice cream!

Additionally, I'm going to try and work in more O-Blood type beneficial foods and cut out as many of the Avoid foods as possible.  And starches.  Starches are nasty.  They should be cut out as well . . . by and large.

Fitness

This is my last resolution . . . it's also the one that will be addressed last.  I've never been a good exerciser.  Never enjoyed it.  Never liked it.  Never found the stamina and motivation to keep up with it.  And with a job that has me up at 6am and working until 8pm (between breakfast and lunch and dinner and work-work and housework), finding time every day to exercise has seemed impossible.  I know it's not . . . but like I said, the motivation just isn't there.

My resolution is to try and incorporate some small exercise into my daily routine . . . maybe just 5-10 minutes of simple exercises in the morning.  Obviously, I'd like to be able to spend more time, especially since an O-Blood type thrives on physical exertion, but we'll see how this one goes.

And that's my list of resolutions.  Hopefully writing them down will help keep me more accountable.  Plus, it helps to have actual accountability partners - I've got an awesome friend keeping me accountable with my spiritual development and a terrific sister who's joining me in the "no processed sugar" fight this year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Recipe Corner - Pecan Pie Cheesecake

This post is a few days late (ok almost a week) . . . But surely all will be forgiven when you see the amazing and decadent dessert I'm sharing with you today!  I've made this cheesecake twice now this week (one for each Christmas celebration we had - it's been fun experiencing our first Christmas together as a married couple and celebrating with both sides of our family.) And it's been a delicious treat to share with both families.

I found the recipe via Pinterest (check out my page for many more food pins) and ultimately used the recipe from Lil' Luna (which can be found here).  Fair warning - this cheesecake is extremely rich and decadent.  Go easy on the serving sizes.  :)


Pecan Pie Filling
The first time I made it without the crust since we're gluten-free, and I couldn't find any vanilla wafers that were also gluten-free.  Still tasted amazing.  The second time we made it with a crust, and it was still amazing.  Another change I made was substituting honey for the dark corn syrup.  I did a 1-1 ratio substitution; however, you can use the corn syrup or do another substitution.  My family decreed the pecan pie filling bottom absolutely the sweetest part of this cheesecake.

Once the pecan pie filling is made and in the pan, the next step is cheesecake (my favorite part)!  I would advise letting the pecan pie filling part cool in the fridge while you mix the cheesecake to keep the cheesecake from filling the center and pushing the pecan pie filling up the sides.

Next came the hard part - letting the cheesecake sit overnight so that we could mix up the topping and finish it the next day.  But the topping tastes and looks amazing!  And, as an added bonus, it hides any mistakes or imperfections in your cheesecake top!  I do recommend, however, baking your cheesecake in a water bath.  This helps prevent cracking.  But also wrap the bottom of your cheesecake pan with tinfoil to avoid getting water inside.

And voila!  You've got an amazing and decadent dessert perfect for any special occasion!  As an added bonus, I used my leftover heavy whipping cream to make my own whipped cream - 1 c. whipping cream + 2 tbsp. sugar/honey + 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.

What do you think?  What's your favorite dessert?