Spirituality

I AM IN LOVE! A Love Letter

It happened. I AM IN LOVE! I didn’t think I would fall in love, but I did. The best part is, he’s in love with me too. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling. Being in love. It’s consuming. It encapsulates me like a bubble. A beautiful bubble that we are in together. When I am with him, it is like no other feeling in the world, like soaring through the air. I feel so balanced and aligned. And when I am away from him, I feel so far away, like universes are between us. I crave his very being. I want to feel him all throughout my body. The sensation of his kiss upon me; it’s so loving and tender, warm tears dance down my face as I visualize how he feels. Some people may not understand our love, but I don’t care, because I love him anyway and he loves me too. He shows me his love, by his actions. He protects me. He treats me like a queen. He caters to my every want, need, and desire. He is perfect, even though i am imperfect. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t see my flaws, he only sees my beauty. And to him my beauty and my flaws are perfect.

Who is this perfection? Ahh, it’s God! God is in love with me. God treats me like a queen. God caters to my every want, need, and desire. God shows his love for me every single day. And while I am so very imperfect. God is perfect. God doesn’t judge me. God doesn’t take his love away from. God only wants to be there for me. God protects me. God encapsulates me like a bubble. And I am forever grateful.

There are days when love from friends and family doesn’t seem to come easy, but somehow God takes over and makes loving effortless. God shows his love to each and every one of us. Just take a look at your life. Even the smallest of wins is a confession of his undying love. The other day, I was speaking to friend about a donut. She said she was late to work and she walked into the break room and found the last donut in the box. It was her favorite donut. It may not seem much to some, but to me that donut was God’s love, God knew she needed it at that very moment. To truly understand, you have to know, that this is a huge office. On any other day, within minutes all the donuts would have been gone. However, on this day, not only was there a donut, it was her favorite donut. When she told me, and even as I write now, it brings tears to my eyes at how beautiful God is and how in love he is with all of us. And God knows how to show each us in our own special way. Beccause for her it was a donut. But for me, it may be that last scoop of Rocky Road ice cream. You know, with the pillowy marshmellows, chunks chocolate and nuts immersed in creamy chocolate ice cream. Yummy! Or it could be all green lights to work. Or front row parking at Target. It may even be a coworker, that doesn’t normally talk to many people, coming to me and saying that I was on her mind and she just wanted to check on me. How beautiful is that? God knew what I needed because of his undying love for me and he sent her to tell me everythinig is going to be alright. And when you have the love of God radiating through your life, how can you not fall deeply in love with God. So my pledge and I hope you will join, is to thank God daily, for being so in love with us. Find the smalls and bigs of life and know that it’s God, because he’s in love with me and you too!


Food, Food, and more Food

Meatless Meal: Vegetarian Somen Noodle Bowl

Vegetarian, hearty, and so full of FLAVOR, that is what this meal is. This meal may also be our new family favorite. I love that it has vegetables. My children love being able to slurp the noodles. It is packed with vegetables and if you have meat eaters it is easily customizable. And with us being a family of 6 (sometimes 7 when my mom comes to help out) having a meal that everyone can make their own is super important. Let’s get right into it! Here is a video if you prefer to see the action.

Select the vegetables you would like in your bowl. I like to have them on the side, so no need to worry if everyone likes everything. We chose broccoli, onions, yellow and orange peppers, red cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, and shredded carrots.

Slice the veggies up and saute them. For the asparagus and broccoli I added sea salt and freshly minced garlic and ginger. Which makes it hard not to snack on while you sauteing the rest of the veggies.

Now it’s time to make the broth. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot and turn the heat on medium. Add in chopped onions, minced garlic and minced ginger and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add in the vegetable stock and 1/4 cup of soy sauce. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 25 minutes. If you have longer than simmering up to an hour brings the flavors together even more.

Prepare the somen noodles per the package instructions.

Prepare the individual soup bowls with the broth and noodles. Let everyone add the veggies as they wish . If you have meat eaters feel free to make shrimp, chicken, or beef to add as well. I added shrimp for our meat eaters.

INGREDIENTS

Vegetables of choice; we used broccoli, onions, yellow and orange peppers, red cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, and shredded carrots

1 medium sized onion, chopped

7 cloves of garlic (2 for the broccoli and asparagus and the other 5 for the broth)

1 3 inch section of gingerroot (a little more for the broccoli and asparagus)

2 32oz boxes of vegetable stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 package of somen noodles- prepared as package instructs.

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice up vegetables and saute them. Add freshly minced garlic and ginger to them if you desire.

Add olive oil to large pot and add chopped onion, minced garlic and minced ginger. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil and then turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Prepare somen noodles per package instructions.

Add prepared noodles to broth. Add veggies as desired to individual bowls.

Enjoy!

Food, Food, and more Food

Meatless Monday or Any Day: Vegetable Soup

 

It is so cold outside. Let’s start with that. I am cold, so I want something warm in my tummy. Next thing is I have been toying with different diets. I listed them all below. I am sure there are so many other diets available. Not to mention, I could just focus on eating healthier, but until I make a firm decision, I decided to try out different recipes.

Vegan (no meat or meat byproducts, which means no eggs, cheese and butter),

Vegetarian- no meat, but dairy is okay (Yay, we can have butter!)

Polutry and fish- chicken, turkey and seafood.

Pescatarian- only seafood

You know what is great about soup? Well, I will tell you. You can put whatever you like or have on hand in a soup. I wanted a meatless soup that I could eat now and put a bowl aside in a freezable glass storage container for lunch one day. I had carrots, celery, chickpeas, frozen green beans and a lemon. I always keep garlic. And a friend has been growing parsley and gave me a bunch. So there it was, all the ingredients for our meatless vegetable soup.

 

I chopped the carrots into rounds. Chopped the onions and minced the garlic. If you have a garlic press, minicing garlic is super easy. I heated a large pot on medium and poured 1 tablespoon of olive oil in and tossed in the onions and garlic. I let it cook for about 3 minutes and then I tossed in the carrots and celery and let them cook for a few minutes. Then I poured in the vegetable stock and tossed in the remaining veggies; chickpeas and green beans. Now it is time to season the soup. I put cayenne pepper, brown sugar and sea salt in mine. I know brown sugar seems to be an interesting choice, but believe me, it balances out the flavor. Feel free to season as you wish. Cumin, chili powder, tumeric, are all great in soup; and change the flavor. And with vegetable soup you can flavor however you like and you will have a delicious soup. You can go Asian and add soy sauce and ginger, or you can go Indian and add curry powder.

 

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Let the soup come to a boil and then turn it down to medium low and add in the juice from a lemon and the fresh parsley and thyme. Take a taste and see how you feel about it. If it makes you say “Hmm!” excitedly and out loud then it’s seasoned perfect. If you say “hmmmm” (yep, with four m’s) slowly and with hesitation, then it is not ready and you need to adjust your seasonings. Extra garlic or a tad bit more salt usually does the job. Just don’t be heavy handed because you can add until it is just right, but it is harder to adjust when it is too much!

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So there it is! An easy weeknight/ Meatless Monday, vegetable soup! Of course, if you are alright with it not being vegan or vegetarian, you can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. You can also add meat to this recipe. I suggest diced chicken breast, for a non-vegetarian alternative. Enjoy!

 

Budgeting/ Finances

Wait! What? Christmas Budgeting in January?!

Christmas is over. So why do we have to budget for Christmas already? I know, I know, it sounds crazy. You just finished buying all the presents, wrapping them, and handing them out. If it didn’t fit, wasn’t liked, or is a double gift then it was returned. Shouldn’t you get a break from thinking about Christmas? Well, the answer is sure… take a break from buying presents, but don’t take a break from planning and budgeting. If you are anything like me, every year there is some aspect you wished you had planned just a little better. Maybe it was the neighbor gifts. Maybe it was the cookie exchange. Maybe it was presents for your children or spouse. Whatever aspect you feel could use a little more finesse then by all means use January as the time to work on it.

Budgeting for Christmas right after Christmas is the best time to do it. You already have your list, even the usual stragglers that you always forget are fresh on your mind. If there were aspects of Christmas that you felt you over indulged in then this is the time to make adjustments, because it is fresh in your mind. Hubby is in the military, so that is a common topic after every task. What were your lessons learned? So let’s get your lessons learned out on paper or the notes section of your phone/ tablet. Then you can budget. Maybe someone had a great idea for gifts that you wished you had did this year. I saw a great gift idea, where you gift monthly activities. That is freakin’ fantastic! Most likely there is no wrapping paper to clean up, you get the kids out of the house, so they aren’t messing up, and the mess of the activity stays at the facility. Are you getting the idea that I prefer a clean house, by any means necessary? Ha, ha, I wish! We definitely try, but we have 4 kids y’all, as soon as they clean up they like to pull out more toys!

Anyway, back to budgeting. So if your budget was of any concern this past Christmas set in your mind how much you want to spend on each person. I suggest adding up how much you actually spent this Christmas. If you felt it was too much, then pull it down by 20% or whatever you feel is reasonable, just don’t budget unreasonably. If you spent $100, don’t take it down to $10 unless you know for sure, you can stick with. I have an example here for pulling your budget down by 20%.

If you see here, just 20% adds over $200 back in your pocket. I don’t know about you, but in our family $200 can pay a bill, buy groceries, put gas in the car. You see the thing about Christmas is, it’s not your birthday! So everyone getting bigger and better presents then they do on their actual birthday is a bit much. We would all benefit from doing a more modest Christmas. With that being said, just imagine if you halved your Christmas budget. In the example, it would be a savings of over $600! This is doable. You can make teacher gifts. If you look at some of my other posts you will see DIY Holiday gifts which are perfect for teachers and neighbors that would be in a modest budget. So let’s get on top of our budget! 2019, the year for saving money, making money, and getting out of debt!

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3 Steps to a Prayer that God Answers

Everyone likes steps, right. We want information broken down so that we can easily digest it. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. My coworker always says that and it’s a true statement even if you have no plans to actually eat an elephant. The point is that everything we do must be taken one step at a time to accomplish our goal and prayer is no different.

I like to break my prayers down into three parts. The first part is acknowledgment. You want to acknowledge all of your past and current blessings. We all have them even in the worst of situations there is still a positive, even if the positive is the breath you breathe. I like to thank God for all he has done for me and my family. We are blessed. God constantly blesses our family, even when things aren’t going perfectly.

The second part of the prayer is asking. God is so mighty and powerful, why bother him with your silly little wants and needs? Well you “bother” him because that’s what he wants us to do. I pray for absolutely everything. I pray for a good day at school for my children. I pray my daughter will eat her vegetables so that she will be healthy. I pray that traffic will be safe and smooth for everyone. It may sound a little silly but I wholeheartedly believe that my constant prayers keeps a bubble of protection around my family and I. Get into the habit of asking God for all your needs, wants, and desires. But here is the caveat, asking isn’t the only part of this second step, there is one more thing.

Believing. We MUST believe that God hears our prayer and will answer. And to form your belief you have to visualize your ask. Close your eyes and let yourself see what it is you are asking for. Visualize yourself in the mist of what you asked for. A couple of years ago I prayed for our current home. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew God was the key. And I prayed just how I’m telling you to pray. I closed my eyes and visualized all the things I wanted in my home. I saw myself walking around this home. I saw my family laughing in this home and playing in the backyard. I prayed about our neighbors and what qualities I wanted in them. Now this prayer obviously wasn’t instant but it did come to fruition. I would say it was about a year, but that’s okay. God answers prayers in his time. He has to get things in place for you. I knew that, so I wasn’t worried. I trusted God would answer my prayers and he did.

The last step is giving thanks. A simple thank you. A meaningful thank you. That’s it. Tell God thank you for his wisdom and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.

God wants to bless you. Get yourself ready to be blessed. Stay positive. Stay honest. Stay forgiving. Stay loving and kind. And follow the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated.

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Zesty Ranch Trail Mix Recipe and Very Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea

Okay! This is it. This is the last ditch effort at providing a neighbor or coworker gift. Ranch Trail Mix is my go to. It’s so easy and so tasty. I make it every year and the kids look forward to it. I won’t make you wait any longer, let’s get into this quick and simple recipe.

My family likes any brand of pretzels, Cheese Nips, and Chex Cereal. I like to use Cheese Nips because the aren’t as seasoned as Cheezits, so adding the ranch seasoning to it isn’t overwhelming to the flavor. If I have Chex I use it, but any brand of corn cereal works perfectly fine.

Pour pretzels, cheese crackers, and corn cereal onto a baking sheet.

Add a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch to 1 stick of melted butter. Drizzle over the cereal mixture until lightly coated all over.

Pop in a 300° oven for 20 minutes. Stir about halfway through. It will be lightly browned and crisp when it’s done.

Store in an airtight container or package it to give away as gifts. Perfect for neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. It’s also a perfect party snack but make sure you have plenty because it’s so addictive!

If you want a visual check out our Ranch Trail Mix video.

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Hot Cocoa Mix/ DIY Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea

Baby it’s cold outside! When it’s cold my family loves to drink hot cocoa. I typically pick up a huge box of instant individual hot cocoa packets. The kids will drink at least two packets a day! We would go through this huge box in no time. However, this year I decided to make up my own mix. This way I can control the ingredients and possibly cut down on cost.

A few years ago we had a holiday party and we gave this hot cocoa mix out as gifts. We love hot cocoa this time of year and this super easy hot cocoa mix is fantastic! We add flavored creamer to change the flavor and Oh! My! Goodness! I’m so excited to share this and what’s even better is this can be made into the cutest gifts to hand out to teachers, neighbors and friends. Here is a video if you would like to see how I pulled it all together.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Ingredients

2 Cups of confectioner’s sugar

1 Cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 and 1/2 Cups of instant dry milk

1 teaspoon of salt

Directions

In a large bowl add all ingredients and thoroughly mix to combine. Store in a large airtight container.

To serve add 2 tablespoons to 4 ounces of water or milk. If you’re a real boss, add flavored creamer, like peppermint, caramel macchiato, or french vanilla and let your kids take turns slapping you because it’s gonna be good! I’m just kidding. Please don’t hit each other. Just drink the hot cocoa and enjoy each other.

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Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea: DIY Body Butter

Time is drawing near and Christmas time will be here soon. I love making homemade gifts. To me it feels so much more special to make a gift. Earlier this year I learned how to make body butter. I tried it out on myself and my family and we all really enjoyed the way it felt. It also smelled really yummy! So this year for my homemade gift, I decided to make whipped body butter. The great thing about making your own body butter is you can control the quality of ingredients. I try not to skimp on the quality because your skin is the largest organ and absorbs what is on the skin. However, if your budget is tight, by all means get what fits your budget.

To make it easier to customize always keep in mind that it is 75% butters to 25% oils. Butters would be Shea, Cocoa, and Mango. Oils would be Olive, Grape seed, Coconut, and Almond. These are the ones I keep on hand but for an exhaustive list research online. This recipe I have for you is enough for a 4oz mason jar.

Melt butters and oils in a microwave safe bowl until liquid. You can use any combination of butters and oils as long as you stay with 75% butters to 25% oil.

I used the microwave and took 30 second intervals so that it didn’t stay in a second longer than it needed to. Now it’s time to pop it into the freezer for 20 minutes or until thickened.

This is what it looks like when it’s ready. It was almost too long. Hey! I got a little busy. However if it is rock solid, let it sits until you can push on it. It may take an hour or so, with that being said, it’s best to put the timer on (unlike me 🙂 ).

Add the Arrowroot powder and essential oils if you choose to put essential oil in your body butter. Arrowroot powder helps to keep the body butter from getting too liquidy in warm environments.

Essential oil is best put in at this time to keep the scent poppin! This recipe is more of a “manly” scent so I used black pepper, ylang ylang, and orange. It has a freshness to it so women may like it too. I know I do!

Now whip it! Whip it real good! Whip it into shape. Ha, ha, but really, use a standing or a hand mixer and whip until the consistency of frosting.

Now it’s time to put the creamy goodness into jars. DISCLAIMER: It will look and smell good enough to eat. Most likely all the ingredients are edible but don’t eat it. I promise it won’t taste good and I won’t tell you how I know. But I speak FACTS y’all!

Now you can gift this to someone special. Or yourself because you’re special too!

DIY Whipped Body Butter Recipe

INGREDIENTS

3/4 C Organic Mango Butter

1/4 C Raw Cocoa Butter

1/4 C Grape Seed Oil

1 T Arrowroot Powder

30 drops of Essential Oil (optional)

  • Melt butters and oils in a microwave safe bowl until liquid
  • Pop in freezer for 20 minutes or until thickened
  • Add Arrowroot powder and essential oil
  • Whip with hand mixer or standing mixer until the consistency of frosting
  • Store in an airtight container for up to six months
  • Smooth on skin after bath or shower
  • ENJOY!
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Love Yourself for Your Children

I normally write about my experiences with my children, but today is for the parents. Us parents have to be all the way together so we can be a role model to our children and they can grow up and seek out positive experiences and relationships. 

How do you Love Yourself?

You first have to think about how you show someone else love. What do you do to show someone love? You buy them presents. You say nice encouraging words. You make them things. You put them first. So in the process of learning to love oneself it is important to do those same things for yourself. Buy yourself a gift or two. Say encouraging words to yourself, “I am beautiful”, “I am a good friend”, “I am smart”. You can make yourself your favorite meal. And don’t cut corners. Go ahead and impress yourself just as if you were trying to impress that love of yours. Putting yourself first, and believe it or not this will be the hardest process of loving yourself. It’s important to push through and put yourself first. Because that putting yourself  last has caused a backlash of hurt because when you put yourself last you taught others to put you last too. You taught others that you don’t mean as much as they do. And when you finally come to the realization that being last hurts, it’s a hard pin to swallow. You will look back at your life and realize all your dreams and purpose have been put last and you are empty from giving your all to someone who allowed you to put them first but didn’t put you first. So now you have to fill that love tank back up. But instead of filling it up with empty love like alcohol, sex, drugs, and broken relationships, you can fill it up with that good love. That love that you know how to give others, you just have to learn how to give it to yourself. But don’t worry you will get there. Loving yourself is a process but it’s worth it. Because you give good love. That’s why everyone wants your love. Because you give it so good. So get you some of your good love. First step is to say encouraging words every day. Start off looking in the mirror. And be sure to look yourself in the eye so you know you mean it and say, “You are a child of God and you are loved.” You have purpose and a mission to fulfil and you will start your mission by loving yourself so that when you go out to give the world your love you will have a full tank.

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Explore Something New

The other day I was talking to a co-worker about Americans and culture. She is from the “islands” and very proud of it, as we all should be proud of where we come from. Within that pride we also need to be accepting of others and their cultures. Respect, acceptance,  and understanding is what most people look for from others when bringing you into their “world”. 

I remember traveling all the time as a child. As a family of 5 we didn’t get out of the country (well my parents took me to Canada when I was 13) but we traveled all over the country. This may be why I have to take at least 2 trips a year as an adult. 

With all that being said, she made a statement that from her perspective some Americans seem very skeptical about trying new things. She felt she knew many people from all over the world but when she encountered Americans they were not as open to exploring her culture. Now I am not sure who she encountered because I know plenty of people who travel outside of the United States and according to Forbes.com 1/3 of Americans hold a passport. However, I still felt the need to respond. Maybe us Americans have so much to explore in our own backyards. Maybe we are scared to travel because we have heard horror stories about Americans being conned,  abducted, or jailed. I really am not sure what the deal is but I do know that we have to explore other cultures and  other countries. I want my children to grow up with an open mind for exploration. My children have been to Japan,  The Bahamas, Canada, and Puerto Rico and there are so many more places I want and plan to take them. So the lesson here is be open to trying new things and exploring new cultures.  It’s the only way we can learn about one another.