Austin · faith · Future · God · home · Religion · Self Discovery · Self Improvement · Texas · TX · Uncategorized · writing

It’s Been a While…

And no, I’m not talking about that song by Staind.

I have gone a lot longer without posting, but usually, November is the month that I amp up on writing.  This November is a little different.  I am not doing NaNoWriMo formally this year.  I am opting to write with Rob on a project we’ve been talking about for years now.  It’s very loosely based on our first year of marriage.  There’s a lot of misunderstanding and love involved.  And that’s all that I’m going to reveal for now.

At this moment, I feel full of hope for the future.  Weird, given the global climate of the country, and the state of things.  In spite of the trauma and despair that the world is going through, a lot of things that are personally happening have filled me with joy.  Rob and I have been steadily getting rid of unnecessary things, I’m getting closer to feeling like heaven is my true home, and all this material nesting stuff that pottery barn has told me that I needed is really just crap.  I’ve been really trying to weigh the value of the stuff I have.  Asking myself, do I really need this?  I am minimizing, while also storing up those treasures for heaven.

We’ve been living in 390 square feet of space for the past two years. We originally wanted to build a tiny house, but we moved into this efficiency apartment to see if we could live in a small space and still stand each other.  It was a great move for us.  Not sure if the tiny house thing is still going to happen because we’ve gotten real comfy with our situation. We have two cats and a dog, and moving is just hard on our critters. With the rise of property costs in Austin, we’ve been resting in the present, while also staying mindful of the future.  If we do have to make another move, it will likely be in the home where we root and raise a family.  Austin might be our home, but heaven… I’m keeping my eyes fixed on it.  Not worrying about my current living situation because I am well taken care of at the moment.

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33

Growing up, my family always had a big party for my sister and my birthdays.  Our birthdays are four days apart, and it was always easier to have a big party for the both of us, so I’ve grown accustomed to having big birthday parties.  I won’t lie, I’d love to have a big celebration, but I also have one big fear.

What if I throw a party and no one shows up?

I know, it sounds stupid, but it’s a legitimate worry that I have, so I usually try to do several events.

Here are thirty three ideas that I have for birthday events.  I’m not going to get to do all of them, but at least there’s a starting point.

  1. Go Camping
  2. Ice Cream Social
  3. Birthday Breakfast
  4. Birthday Lunch
  5. Birthday Dinner
  6. Tres Leches Cake Tasting
  7. Karaoke Room
  8. Picnic Party
  9. Swing Dancing
  10. Wine and Cheese Tasting
  11. Board Game Party
  12. Escape Room
  13. Make Art
  14. Make a Movie
  15. Pool Party
  16. Tea Party
  17. Mall Rats Scavenger Hunt
  18. City Scavenger Hunt
  19. Blazer Tag
  20. Food Crawl
  21. Build a Bear
  22. Lush Treatment
  23. Get a Massage
  24. Rock Climbing
  25. Rent Bikes and Ride
  26. Cocktail Crawl
  27. Musical Marathon
  28. Crazy Outfit Thrifting
  29. Cupcake Decorating
  30. Amusement Park
  31. Costume Party
  32. Day Trip
  33. Birthday Blessings/Prayers
Love · Religion · Self Discovery · Self Improvement

Goodbye Spring Break, Hello Spring

So this year, spring break actually took place before spring, but that’s the way the school year is.  I had a pretty good spring break.  Restful, but also I have this general feeling of being lost in life.  Not sure what I’m doing.  Feeling a bit purposeless. And yet I’m not too concerned about it.  I’m sure that something will shake things up.

The days move on, and suddenly, it’s spring.  We move our clocks forward.  A new season.  With new allergies.  I hear the birds chirping, and I hear the sounds of my thirty third birthday calling.  I feel old, and I don’t.  I am alive.  I am well bodied.  While the general world may be in chaos, I am not.  I am surprisingly well. I am thankful for God bringing me to this place, for my family, and for provision.  Though I feel the desire for more in my life, what I have is very good.  It is well with my soul.

Hello Spring. I’m happy to see you.

Art · culture · Death · DIY · Food · God · Health · History · Holidays · Religion · Self Improvement · Women

Holy Hamantaschen!

Chag Purim Sameach!  Or Happy Purim, Y’all!  I’m not Jewish, but I like holidays.  And this one strikes a particular chord because it’s the story of Esther- the “foreign” queen who saves her people from genocide.  Yaaaas, queen!  On a side note, can we please have more celebrations of women who do awesome things?

In honor of this day, I made some hamantaschen.  What is that, you ask?  They are cookies that symbolize the holiday’s origins.  You see, Haman was the evil dude who wanted to get rid of the Jews.  So he bribed King Xerxes, but Esther helped to save her people, and Haman was executed.

Some say that hamantaschen are supposed to be “Haman’s Pockets” as in the money that he bribed King Xerxes with; others say it’s “Haman’s Ears” as in the cutting off of criminals ears which happened to Haman, as well as being executed (?).  I didn’t do a thorough fact check on this, so forgive me if that’s incorrect.hamantaschen

Now, I am on a very particular diet, which is grain free, gluten free, sugar free, caffeine free, alcohol free, gmo free, cage free, organic, grass fed, wild caught, fair trade, and a lot of other hippy dippy stuff that limits what I can eat. So I’ve had to look up ingredients from every where and modify my own hamantaschen recipe.

ANYWAY.  COOKIES.  YOU WANT THESE COOKIES. Here’s what you’ll need:20170311_101705-1 20170311_104556-1 20170311_175735-1

1 & 1/2 cups of almond flour
2 tablespoons of xylitol (can be found at whole foods/natural grocers/wheatsville)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon almond extract (or vanilla, I prefer almond)
Circular cookie cutters
Jams that you like (with no sugar added)
Parchment paper
Baking Sheet
Time

Step 1: Mix your dry items together in a bowl.  On a slow speed (if you’re using a mixer), mix in your wet ingredients.  This is the order I mixed it in: started with butter, then milk, then extract, and lastly coconut oil. The consistency may seem crumbly at first, but if you mash your finger into it, and it seems soft and doughy, then it’s good for the next step.

Step 2: Get two pieces of parchment paper and roll out your dough between them.  You can make them as thick or thin as you want, but thinner dough is a little bit more difficult to shape them and cut without it crumbling apart (because almond flour is not as sturdy as regular).  Then refrigerate until your dough is firm (30 min-1 hr).
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Step 3: Once your dough is firm, using circular cookie cutters, cut out your dough.  My first attempt, I rolled it too thin in spots, and the dough would crumble.
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Step 4: Set your oven to bake on 350 degrees, and add your jam!!! Now, I’m not going to tell you how much or how little to put in your hamantaschen… that choice is yours.  You might want to test. I put in one spoon for the smaller ones, and two spoons for the bigger ones.  The choice is yours.  Oh, also, you might want to do a test run of folding them before you put all your jam in them… because I ended up getting jam all over my arms, but eventually found a way of folding the dough into triangles that worked for me.

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Step 5: Bake for about 8 minutes, let them cool off for about 5 minutes, and then eat and enjoy!!!

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Austin · DIY · Family · Film · Future · God · Literature · Love · Money · Outdoors · Religion · Self Improvement

31-derful

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and every year, I aspire to become a better version of my current self. I am in dire need of an upgrade, as is my blog. So in honor of this new year of life, I have a list of thrity one-derful (that’s oh-nedder-full) things I want to accomplish by next April.

1. Grow my relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, and worship
2. Run a 10K – this is already in the works, I’m running one April 12th
3. Complete another 365 picture challenge
4. Make and sell some bath bombs, cupcakes, and costumes
5. Write a ten minute play
6. Finish reading the complete works of Jane Austen
7. Get to the 1960’s in my Oscar Winning Movie Watching
8. Write a song on the Ukulele
9. Start a Vlog with my hubby Rob
10. Build a loft for our bed
11. Finish our Wedding Album
12. Find a job that I love
13. Run a 1/2 Marathon
14. Get back into Yoga once a week
15. Get all toxins out of my home and change to homeopathic cleaners
16. Volunteer with food banks or homeless ministries
17. Keep mentoring and focusing on youth and kids
18. Send more letters and gifts to friends and family to let them know I love them
19. Finish Baby Steps 1 & 2 of Dave Ramsey FPU.
20. Make it a ritual to Skype with my family every Sunday
21. Get a new stamp in my passport
22. Host a Wine and Cheese Party
23. Go swimming at Barton Springs
24. Get BBQ at Franklin’s
25. Go hiking at least once a month
26. Get back into Bouldering and Rock Climbing
27. Volunteer at a Horse Ranch and Ride
28. Reread and Own Madeleine L’engle’s Wrinkle in Time Series
29. Start and Finish Madeleine L’engle’s Meet The Austin Series
30. Get a massage for each season, spring, summer, winter, and fall
31. Begin to train for a marathon

Camping · Love · Music · Nature · Outdoors · Religion · Self Discovery · Self Improvement · TX · Uncategorized · Women

From Dust to Diamonds

Freedom: Dust to Diamonds

Last weekend, my church had a women’s retreat, and that first night was a little rough.  I had carpooled with friends, and the trip was good, though we were stuck in traffic for a while, we made it there. But because we’d arrived right when it started, we were all split up, sitting nowhere near one another. It was crowded, and I was now distracted by my thoughts of how my word count for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) would be effected, so I wasn’t able to put all of my heart into the worship.  My mind was scattered in many directions, and to make it worse, they announced that the “hotel” that I signed up to stay in wasn’t quite a hotel, but it was “special.”  All of my complaints started to burst through my seams, but I held it together, and tried to listen to the first speaker, Tina Miranda.

It was on condemnation vs. conviction, and to be honest, I was not paying attention well.  The seats were cramped.  I was uncomfortable and squirmy.  My foot fell asleep, and all around I kept trying different sitting positions to try to improve my circulation. However, I did manage to focus on one thing, and part of it is because I was so distracted that I just started drawing a cartoon elephant that was in the powerpoint presentation. Tina told a story of how in India, baby elephants would be roped up tightly, and on finding that they could not escape, they accepted that they would never be able to escape. By the time they were adults, even though they were much stronger than the bonds that held them, they stayed captive.  It didn’t hit me until after the retreat was over, but I have accepted a lot of lies that have kept me in bondage since I was young, and I’m only now beginning to break free of them. We broke into small groups and it was loud and noisy. I could barely hear what anyone else was saying in my group above all the noise. And at that point, I was reluctant to say a lot because I didn’t know these women, and I didn’t know how much to share with them.

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I Know the Weenie Man?

So then, the time comes for us to go to the cabins. Whoopee, I get to stay in the “special” cabin, which was farther off than any of the cabins or hotel rooms. Luckily, I had a few friends walk me to the “special” zone, or the Ranch House, as it was called at the camp site. And as I entered in, my insecurities began to well up inside of me.  The friends I had carpooled with, and all of the ladies in the community group I go to, were all staying in the cabins. Since I am an introverted extrovert, I signed up for the hotel, knowing I’d be surrounded by people all weekend.  While I do love being around people, I do not like a whole lot of noise when I’m trying to sleep.  You can ask my upstairs and downstairs neighbors, who have gotten visits from my more rational and understanding husband, asking them to quiet down because his wife would throw a fit if they didn’t. Anyway, back to the special zone.  The entry was decorated with a lot of weird paintings, like The Weenie Man.  There were others, but none as weird as this.  A little frightening, if you ask me.

 

 

 

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Giddy Up, Lamp Stand!
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I claim the lower bunk.

There were three different rooms and the hallway to bunk in.  I chose the room in the back where all the bathrooms were.  I have a tiny bladder, so I knew I’d probably have to make frequent trips.   Another advantage was that there were only three beds, so there would be less people that would be noisy at night.  The downside was that if anyone else had to use the bathroom, they’d have to come in to do their business.

 

 

 

Kiesha But the pros outweighed the cons, and there only ended up being two of us in the room.  Another awesome woman, Kiesha, who is a personal trainer, and I ended up falling asleep on the earlier side. While things were a bit noisier in the other rooms, with the bathroom fans on, it drowned out some of the talking and laughing.

In the morning, we both woke up and got ready.  I got all my things packed up into my book bag and my purse, and then I headed out, on my own.  I was feeling a little bit lonely at this point.  I hadn’t really gotten into any deep conversations with anyone. I really didn’t make any new friends, which made me feel bad about myself .

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So I climb up onto this water slide that’s closed up, and I look at the view, and I am in wonder of God’s creation. I open my Bible App on my phone, and I open to wherever. It happens to be 1Thessalonians 5. I read and I pray and I begin to thank God instead of complaining and throwing a pity party for myself. After that, I headed to breakfast, and then headed over to the morning sessions.

The next three sessions kinda blasted me. Jamie Chapman spoke on Control and how the roots of it were Fear and Pride. She used Moses’s Song from Exodus 15:2 and the Lord’s Song from Zephaniah 3:17, and made us sing out loud. Little did I know that the woman who was leading my small group would be speaking next. Shiela Chopin was preaching about Complaint. I was so engaged in her bringing the word and keeping it real when she spoke about Moses and David dealing with the people’s constant complaints, that I actually forgot to take notes, which I now regret. Luckily she provided an outline. She spoke of walking in God’s Spirit, and “getting fat” in the word because if we are full of God’s word, then there is no room for complaint. And she left us with an awesome and powerful prayer.

After that, we broke into small groups. Our group went outside, and I was much more inclined to share, especially with the woman who had just blasted my heart with conviction about all of my complaining. I was so glad to get to know these ladies, and the discussion with them really blessed me.

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Small Group Time!

After small groups, I was one hundred percent ready to receive the last session from Adele Douglin, and it was about Comparison. This is one of the areas that I struggle with A LOT. She gave examples in the Bible: Cain and Able, Leah and Rachel, Mary and Martha, and as a little sister with a “perfect” older sister, comparison has been following me around my whole life. When she talked about Antidotes to Comparison, I was hit strongly, and I’ll share them:

  1. Choose Thankfulness
  2. Speak God’s Promises Into Your Life
  3. Compliment Sisters and Learn from Them
  4. Take a Break from Social Media
  5. Let Friends Know that Comparison has No Room in Your Life
  6. REDIRECTING CONVERSATIONS TO SPEAK WELL OF ONE ANOTHER

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We finished out with worship and lunch afterwards, and I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude form the night before to the afternoon. I left encouraged and excited about what God is going to be doing in my life. I know that becoming a diamond from a lump of coal isn’t going to be easy, but I know that in the end, all of the pressure and pain in this life is going to result in something beautiful.

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culture · Death · Food · History · Holidays · Religion

St. Patrick was not Irish

So, everyone thinks of St. Patrick’s Day as a day of drinking green beer and celebrating Irish heritage and culture.  But it’s not.

St. Patrick is that Irish Saint, right?

WRONG.  St. Patrick was of Roman-British descent.  He was kidnapped and sold into slavery by Irish raiders, and it was in Ireland that he found God.  Later, he escaped from Ireland, and became a priest.  Then, he went back to Ireland as a missionary and was willing to die there if it meant converting the pagans.  He did convert many Irish to Catholicism, and it is believed that he died on March 17 in Ireland.

Why the drinking of beer and mass consumption of corned beef and cabbage?  Well, the Catholic church decided that St. Patrick Day was a feast day- so even though during the lent season, one should fast, the fast could be lifted for the day- hence the alcohol consumption.

Corned beef and cabbage is actually not very Irish in terms of Ireland, but it’s an American Irish tradition- because the Irish who had immigrated were poor, they could only afford their food on the cheap, so corned beef and cabbage was the usual on the menu.

So, another holiday debunked, but I might try a green beer before the night is over, as long as its gluten free…