Latest Entries »

Self Reflection 2011

I am looking forward to moving on to 2012 and leaving 2011 in the dust.  It has not been the easiest year for me…yet it has been a year of growth.  Somehow the two usually go together – hard times and opportunities to change.  Here is what this year has taught me:

1.  I am not as strong as I think.  In fact I am pretty darn weak without the strength that comes from God’s help.  (Philippians 4:19)

2.  Sometimes I miss the truth that is right in front of me because the lie is easier to believe. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

3.  Beauty is not beautiful if it is only skin deep.  May my heart, soul and spirit be made pure and beautiful.  (Psalm 51:10).

4.  I am blessed with an amazing husband – loyal, a great provider, funny, handsome, kind, full of forgiveness and grace.  Satan will try to convince me otherwise on a daily basis.  However, God chose him for me, to bless me, to shape me, to bring me joy, and to teach me to handle pain.  He is my gift from God and I will not try to return or exchange him like an unwanted Christmas present. (James 1:17)

5.  I don’t have to have a plan for everything.  In fact, I can’t plan everything.  And that is ok.  God has a plan and I chose to trust Him.  (Jeremiah 29:11).  Oh, and just because a door opens does not mean God wants me to walk through it.

6.  Boundaries are good.  Even if they are hard to set.

7.  Sin is ugly, dirty, nasty and a slippery slope.  Sometimes you don’t even realize you are sinning until you are sliding head first into the pit.  (1 Peter 5:8).  I deceived myself and others in order to ignore the slippery slope I was on.

8.  Climbing to the tops of mountains and running races helps me appreciate the abilities God has given me and His creation.

9.  Taking a 2 year break from church was not a good idea, because it ended up meaning a 2 year break from God.

10.  I thought more highly of myself then I should have – convinced that I was somehow superior, that I had arrived, was mature, and had learned enough to know how this thing called life works.  That spirit of conceitedness caused me to stay cocooned in my own knowledge and experience rather than reaching out for others when I needed them.  (Romans 12:3).

Yes, it was a rough year.  I was taken off my high horse, made same poor choices, lost friendships, and found myself lost in the muck and mire.  BUT, I am so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning, that HE did not abandon me!  Somehow He still manages to love me in spite of me.  (Lamentations 3:22-24, Deuteronomy 31:8).

2012 is my year of intention – to live intentionally, eyes wide open, ready to become more like Christ.  See, I found myself wanting to be like this world.  Or maybe not the world as a whole, but like people in this world.  More like friends.  More like fitness models.  More like the sexy, alluring TV stars.  More like what I imagined happiness to look like.  What I found though was that I lost the essence of who I was, the core of me, in trying to be more like the world.  In 2012 I want to let the essence of me reach out for God, where true happiness resides, and be transformed from the inside out.

May my intentions be pure in 2012. (Hebrews 10:22)

Adventure Mission #1

I recently posted about my desire to find adventure in the midst of this ho-hum life, and in the last week I have put my money where my mouth is and set off on some expeditions!  My first mission – the Manitou Incline.  This strenuous, stair climbing, 2+ mile hike straight up the side of Pikes Peak is not for the faint of heart.  I attempted to this hike once before – made it about 20 steps and realized there was no way I could make it to the top.  It had gotten the best of me once, and I was determined NOT to let it happen again.

I set off around 6 am, alone.  Yep – alone.  I didn’t want anyone to see me fail if I couldn’t reach the top again.  Plus, I figured if I did it alone I could stop and rest for 3…15…80 minutes if I needed to.  And I did.  Well, not for 80 minutes, but long enough to catch my breath, eat a protein bar and wonder why in the world I wanted to be so darn adventurous!  The steps along the incline are made out of old railway ties, and each step causes the thighs to burn, the glutes to scream and the lungs to want to explode.  At one point I stopped to attempt to catch my breath and was sure I was going to hyperventilate.  I forced myself to slow my breathing and not panic – after all, I was on the side of this mountain alone – who was gonna carry me down if I freaked out?

Actually, I wasn’t exactly alone.  There was a steady stream of others trekking up the Incline.  Some slower than me (I took great pride in passing them) and others much faster (and yes I considered tripping them).  We would exchange pleasantries – “Good morning”, “Excuse me”, “Are we having fun yet?”.  There were those that I “tag teamed” with, I would pass them, they would pass me, and our conversations were more about the insanity of it all.

Somewhere along the way I met up with an older gentlemen who commented on my protein bar.  He said something about whether I was enjoying my breakfast.  At this point I was sitting on the side of the trail, wondering if I even had the energy to make it down, let alone the remainder of the ascent.  Seeing this man annoyed and inspired me.  I later learned he was 76 years old and if he was steadily climbing this impossible trail then why, oh why, couldn’t I?

Once I began my hike again I fell in step behind him, the man I deemed Mountain Gramps.  Normally I would have passed him, his pace was slow, crawling almost.  However we were on an area of the climb that made passing difficult.  And so I slowed my rate.  Step.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.  Step.  Slow.  Very. Slow.  But I discovered something in this snail like pace.  I could breath.  My muscles weren’t screaming.  My heart rate, while elevated, didn’t feel like it would beat right out of my chest.  I wasn’t going to die!

Numerous times I had determined I wouldn’t make it to the top.  If I could just make it to the Barr Trail “bail out” then I could circle back to the parking lot and go home.  Yet as I fell in step with Mountain Gramps I started to think that maybe I could make it.  Maybe.  When we reached the bailout, he turned left.  He was done for the day.  And I had a choice, did I bail, too – or did I press on?  I pressed.  I maintained a slow, steady pace.  I am sure it annoyed those behind me at times, but I just kept putting one slow foot in front of another.  I didn’t stop.

All Alone at the Top of The Incline

Putting my foot on the final step at the top of the Incline felt like the greatest accomplishment of my life (well, besides having my kids, because I am supposed to say that, right?!).  I had done what I thought was impossible.  I had pressed through the “wall”.  I had achieved, persevered, overcome and accomplished.  And, I had done it alone.

There was something deeply rewarding about doing this without someone else.  I was independent.  That may sound silly, but I found within me the strength to push through the pain, to self-motivate, to plan, execute and achieve all by myself.  It reminded me that I don’t NEED someone in order to have adventures.  I might want to share them with someone, but I can do it on my own if I have to.  That feels amazing to realize.

Almost as amazing as marking Mission #1 – The Manitou Incline, off my adventure bound list!

I want to be someone who has adventures.

Somewhere along the way I became a thousand things – a mom, a wife, a student, an intern, a sewer, a baker.  I grew up and slowly transformed and morphed into the person I am today.  And while I know that I am pretty fabulous (hee, hee) I have discovered that in all this becoming I have lost something.  I lost adventure.

And I want it back.

Helen Keller

I want the natural high that comes from doing something a little extreme, a little different, a little challenging and breath-taking.  I want to get dirty, fatigued, sore and hungry, all the while feeling more alive than ever before.  I want to be someone who carries a 40+lb pack on my back for days through a wilderness trail.  I want to be someone who kayaks over rapids or canoes in remote mountain lakes.  I want to scale a rock face, seeking out tiny crevices for my finger tips and toe nails to cling to. I want to be someone who gets up at 1am in order to catch the sun rise view at the top of a 14,000 foot mountain.  I want to catch my dinner on the end of a fishing line and cook it over an open fire.  I want to learn to survive with nothing but my own two hands.  I want to go off the grid – no cell phone, no computer, no noise.  I want the only music I hear to be that created by nature.  I want to push my body to limits I didn’t know it had and then push harder.  I want to feel – and I want that feeling to be a sense of aliveness.

Perhaps that is what this is – I want to feel alive.  While I love my life and my family, it is a life of autopilot.  Get up, make coffee, make breakfast, take care of kids, do school work, make dinner, do laundry, clean the house, go to bed – repeat.  My biggest high these days is finding eggs on sale AND having a coupon.  I know, thrilling isn’t it?!

I want something to take my breath away.  Something to make my heart beat faster.

I want adventure!

                 

My kids love the cheesy pasta dish that seems to have become an American staple.  Yet the stuff that comes in that blue box is full of artificial colors, flavors and a whole list of ingredients I can’t even pronounce.  Even the “healthy” varieties contain powdered cheeses that don’t always taste like cheese!  Guess what – there is an alternative and it is just as QUICK and EASY as the convenience product!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (elbow or penne works well but other varieties can be fun!)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is my favorite)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS flour

Cook pasta according to directions in large saucepan.  Drain.  In sauce pan melt butter, add milk and flour, whisking together to make roux.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  If mixture seems too thick add a bit more milk.  Add pasta and mix to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and serve! 

This is so tasty that my son ate two large bowls with his dinner last night!  His comment – “It tastes like real cheese, Mom!”  It surely does, better for you, less expensive and just as satisfying for grown-ups as it is for kids.  And even better – you can actually pronounce the ingredients!  🙂

Potato Cakes

Last night I made a few too many mashed potatoes for dinner (oops) and I just hate throwing away food.  So I decided to make these taste potato cakes to have with eggs this morning.  The family loved them!  I guess I need to make too many mashed potatoes more often!  🙂

Potato Cakes

  • 2 Cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced well
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • milk (2 Tbs-1/4 cup)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix potatoes, onion, cheese, egg, salt and pepper together in bowl.  Add milk to thin the mixture out enough to shape into patties.  If mixture gets too thin you can add a little flour to thicken.  Heat oil in skillet.  Add Potato Cakes and fry on each side for 4-5 minutes or until brown.  Serve immediately.  So yummy!

In the midst of the morning rush I often struggle to make sure my family gets a nutritious start to the day.  Let’s face it, something from a box is quick and easy.  But other than providing the day’s allowance of sugar there is not much nutritional value.  So what’s a mom to do?  How about try this tasty smoothie that will send you on your way with a serving fruits,vegetables, grains, protein and dairy already under your belt!

I was first introduced to the wonder of smoothies that included vegetables by my dear friend over at KabibiMei.  I was at her house for craft day and saw her throw all sorts of things into the blender and thought there was NO way it was going to come out edible…let alone something that my kids would drink.  When they all declared, “It taste like ice cream!” I was a believer!  I have since incorporated smoothies into our morning routine.

The standard smoothie recipe is below, followed by some of my favorite variations.  Feel free to experiment with what you have on hand!

Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen fruit (or fresh and then add ice to make it cold)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 large carrot, ends removed
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I like Trim Shake because it is high fiber, low glycemic index, has 125 calories and less than half a gram of sugar)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup milk, juice, soy milk or other liquid
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup nuts or grains (instant oatmeal or barley works well)(optional)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Serve immediately.  The spinach and carrot really “disappear” in the smoothie and you can’t even taste them!  I highly recommend using organic ingredients if at all possible. 

Tropical Variation – use frozen mango and pineapple, add a banana and use macadamia nuts and coconut!

Chocolate Dream – Add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder or use chocolate Trim Shake instead of vanilla.

Orange Creamsicle – Use 2 whole oranges (peeled) in place of frozen fruit.  Use vanilla flavored soy, almond or rice milk as liquid.  Add 2 drops Wild Orange or Citrus Bliss Essential Oil.

I would love to hear of any variations you might try and love!

These smoothies are quick, easy and provide servings of fruit, vegetable, dairy, whole grain and protein all in one portable cup!  Perfect for drinking in the car on they way out the door!

When St. Patrick’s day is over, the cabbage eaten, the Guinness drunk, what do you do with the leftover corned beef?  Why, make hash, of course!  Growing up corned beef hash was a staple that my older brother and I shared after a night of too much alcohol…not sure why that was the food of choice, but I, being the adoring younger sister, just went with it.  As the years past my palate matured and that slop from the can would now longer do on the morning after.  I finally realized that corned beef hash was more then just teeny potatoes and indistinguishable meat mush.  It actually could have texture and flavor!  And it still has the hangover busting properties of carbs, salt, and protein…

Corned Beef Hash

  • 2 cups chopped corned beef
  • 2 large potatoes, cooked and cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons butter

Melt butter in large stockpot or skillet.  Cook onion and carrot until tender.  Add potatoes and corned beef.  Stir in spices.  Place lid or plate over top of mixture and press to flatten.  Leave lid or plate on and cook 5 minutes, then stir and repeat.  This helps get great coloring on the hash.  If desired serve with eggs and enjoy!

The weather here in Colorado has turned warm, the windows have the been open, the tulips are popping up and the house is in need of a good scouring!  Out with those dust bunnies and dingy baseboards!  Yes, Spring is in the air…so why taint that wonderful smell with harsh fumes?  Tackle your Spring cleaning with these natural, non-toxic, homemade cleaners!

Disinfectant Spray

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 10-15 drops OnGuard Essential Oil (this blend kills 99.99% of germs, just like Lysol, but without the toxins!)

Mix in large spray bottle and use for cleaning counters, toliets, and door knobs!

Scouring Powder

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup salt

Mix together and store in plastic container.  Sprinkle into sinks or bath tubs, scour and rinse.

Window Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 cup water

Mix in spray bottle.  Use on mirrors and windows.

Tough Toliet Cleaner

Mix ingredients together to make a paste.  Apply to toliet bowl with rag, sponge, or toliet bowl brush.  Allow paste to set for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).  Flush toliet to rinse.

Other fun essential oils for Spring:

Have a happy and healthy Spring!

Go to www.mydoterra.com/Diva or leave me a comment to learn more about essential oils.

Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed.  I mean really, how many hats is one person expected to wear?!  Full time Graduate School student, mother to two, school counseling intern, essential oils educator, wife, dog owner, dish washer, floor sweeper, laundry doer, meal maker, grocery shopper, toliet cleaner, confidant, friend, coffee fetcher, blogger, tweeter, and on and on and on and on…

*Sigh*

But really, just like anything in life, it is all about finding a balance.  And what is balance?  It is the redistribution of weight in order to make things stable.  It is learning to let go of somethings so that there is room for others.  It is being grounded. 

Here is what I know from my experience in yoga – to balance you need to do three things.  First you have to “ground down”.  This means that whatever foot or leg is not leaving the floor you have to push it down against the ground, spread your toes, and have a firm foundation.  Second, you have to have a focal point.  If you are looking all around chances are you will fall, but if you find a fixed point to lock your gaze on it is easier to stay balanced.  Really advanced yogis are able to close their eyes and fix on an internal point of reference (I am SO not there yet).  And third, you have to pay attention to your breathing.  If you aren’t focused on what you are doing you will get distracted and end up on your butt.

Translation for balancing everyday life?  Remember your foundation, is it your family, career, faith that centers and drives you?  Then keep that first.  Second, remember to fix your gaze on what is long lasting, or your goal.  For me I know that this season of trying to balance a million things will lighten after I finish grad school, that is my goal.  And finally, keep breathing…there are so many things that vy for our attention, but really only so many we need to take on.  Remember that with each new item you add you have to redistribute your weight to accommodate it…even things as “light” as a worry.

Oh and a little Balance Grounding Blend Essential oil doesn’t hurt either…  🙂

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

I have a speical place in my heart for Chinese food.  I just love the stuff for some reason!  My favorite Chinese restaurant is 35 minutes from my house though, and sometimes when that craving hits I want it and I want it NOW!  Enter homemade Chinese Lettuce Wraps – quick, easy and my whole family loves them!

Chinese Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, drained and chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, rinsed and diced
  • 5-6 mushrooms, chopped (I had to chop these finely and sneak them in because my husband doesn’t like them!)
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons Kung Pao or Hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground (fresh is best but powdered will do)
  • 1 head of Boston Lettuce or Iceberg

Combine first six ingredients in large skillet.  Cook until meat is browned.  Add sauces and spices.  Serve in lettuce leaves! 

To make a great sauce to go with these healthy Lettuce Wraps combine Chinese Mustard, Chile Garlic Paste, Soy Sauce and White Vinegar.  Mix together well and drizzle over top.  My family loves this meal served with steamed!

2 wraps = 200 calories, 16 grams protein, 22g carbs, 4 grams fat, 5 grams fiber