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Friday, February 5, 2016

Purpose!

Choosing to live intentionally isn't always easy. In fact, might I dare say it isn't easy at all? Sometimes what is easy, is to fall back into the ruts that we were in before. It's just hard to focus on staying out of them. So we, sometimes let ourselves drift back into the comfortable, the known, and we forget to be intentional.  

My word for this year is "Intentional". I really felt like I needed to focus more on taking care of me. I wrote about it in this post and this post. Some days I rock the intentionality, other days, not so much. Some days I find myself drifting back into the ruts. My ruts weren't necessarily wrong, or bad, or harmful, but there wasn't any "me" focus-ness in them. Intentionality is a lot of work, at least until it becomes natural, until it becomes a habit and even then, it takes work. But that was part of the definition of intentional wasn't it? Done on purpose, done deliberately. 

One thing I did at the beginning of the year was print this awesome sheet from Ann Voskamp. I printed the "uncolored" version because I wanted to color it myself. It's a reminder to me to be intentional, to have a purpose everyday. Some days I forget to look at it, some days I just am tired (like today) and I don't feel like I was intentional at all, and that's okay. As long as I recognize it and make the necessary adjustments and don't just stay stuck in the ruts. To remember that we are amazing! I encourage you to go to her site, sign up and print the sheet...then really take time to quiet your heart and mind and ask yourself what you want to purpose to do in each area. What is in your heart to do? What have you felt led to do? My list may change throughout the year because maybe I'll sense a need to change, or maybe I'll feel like I really accomplished one thing. 


One thing I know is that when I have the right mindset, and I partner with my Papa God and resource from who I am in Him I can rest and know that life will be full and abundant, even on the days I end up in one of the ruts. It doesn't change who I am or who He is. Yay!

I also printed a few other coloring pages, one from Crystal Paine's site, MoneySaving mom. It was created by another blogger Lisa at CreativeLei. The other page I now cannot remember where I printed it from. I love quotes, sayings and phrases, so I plan to print other pages and keep them handy and we also got our daughter some coloring books with quotes that I think I'll make photo copies for myself. 

Have you purposed in your heart to make some changes? Are you trying to be intentional in certain areas? Do you find yourself in the ruts? Keep going, the nice thing about ruts is there's always a way out of them!




With Joy UNquenchable,

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Recipe: Lasagna Soup


A few weeks ago I found a recipe for Lasagna Soup on the blog Reluctant Entertainer. Her recipe was inspired from the recipe on Skinny Taste. The thing I like about finding the same recipe on multiple sites is that everyone adds their own twist on it and you get to decide which twist you want to make or take or add your own! 

I combined a bit of both. Sandy used cilantro and it looked like she added beans...I wanted to keep it totally Italian so I used parsley and no beans, though some Cannellini beans would have been good. While grocery shopping for ingredients with my youngest (16) daughter I told her I was making Lasagna Soup. She looked at me with a bewildered look and said "why? Why not just make lasagna?" Because it's something different was my reply. But now, I have to make real lasagna, because while she enjoyed the soup, it's just NOT lasagna. So guess what's on the grocery list for this coming week? Yep, REAL lasagna!

Now, while I LOVE me some REAL lasagna...I do love changing things up, and this recipe cuts quite a few calories which is never a bad thing right? It lightens up a favorite dish that can tend to be heavy. And the topping...uh...I may have eaten a few spoonfuls of it plain, because I really love ricotta cheese! No lie.

Here's what ya need:

2 Tbs. Oil
1/2 onion chopped
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
4 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley or more..give or take a little more.
3 c. chicken broth
2 1/2 c. water
26 oz. marinara sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 tsp. Italian seasoning
9 oz. broken lasagna noodles
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. fresh parsley

Here's what ya do:

1. Add oil to a large soup pot. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add turkey and cook till browned. 

2. Add crushed garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes

3. Add the parsley, broth, marinara sauce, water, salt and pepper, and italian seasoning. Bring to a boil.

4. Add broken pasta. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 10-15 minutes. DO NOT add too much pasta...I did and It absorbed too much liquid.

5. In a bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and parsley. I also added some garlic powder to this.

6. Top each bowl of soup with a few tablespoons of cheese topping. Savor and enjoy!!


With Joy UNquenchable,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vision Board

Probably at least 4 years ago I purchased a framed corkboard piece at a garage sale...OUR garage sale. A friend had brought over some items to sell and I thought "I could do something with that"....and I never did! If you read my post yesterday about being more intentional in 2016 you will know I'm working on making more time for me, taking care of me. One of the things I've wanted to do but never have is to make a vision board. I was browsing Pinterest and found a framed one that someone had done and I loved it. I grabbed that frame that was sitting in my closet and got to work. 
I believe vision boards are awesome for inspiration in any area of life and it doesn't even have to be a "board". How about an inspiration journal? Or an "inspiration board" on Pinterest if you are more tech savvy, or a desktop picture collage as an inspiration board. The options are limitless and you can have more than one. Mine is meant to be encouraging to me to be intentional, to live life fully, to embrace who I am! I have some spaces to add more quotes or pictures, but I really like how it turned out. Maybe eventually I'll re-paint the frame and do what I originally wanted to do which was make it a chalkboard/cork board that went in my kitchen. But for now it's serving a greater purpose. 

The inspiration I got came from this post, and she has some great tips with it as well. I loved her "definition of a vision board.

So, what’s a vision board? It’s a place to display images, words, or objects that represent what you want to be and do with your life in one beautiful, central location...Jeanette Lynton, Close to My Heart Blog

I love that...what you want to be and do...that's exactly why I decided to create my own. So, here's what I did to create mine.

The frame I had was kind of a light blue so I covered it with gray craft paint and then roughed it up with some sandpaper. 

The cork that was on it, wasn't very nice looking and I considered painting it, but I love color so I trotted off to Walmart and purchased a book of scrapbook paper. I chose a pattern for the background and decided to use solids for behind the quotes. 
I had received an Oprah magazine for Christmas and it had some amazing quotes that really fit what I wanted for myself this year. A few that I loved but wouldn't quite work, I did on the computer and printed. I also added a few things that my mom had written to me (she passed away 11 years ago) and a note that a FB member wrote to me when she sent me the "intentional" card after reading that was my word for the year. I'm sure I'll change things out throughout the year, with new words, quotes or pictures, but the key is making sure they reflect what I want to see happen this year. 


 Original color...it was pretty beat up and I just didn't like it.

 A part of me wishes it was more glossy, but I didn't have anything that would make it glossy or glossy paint and wasn't going to go to the store. So flat it is..but I like it.
Distressed so the blue comes through. I like it this way!
I love color and thought this added to the frame. I did have to ask my daughter if it was too much. 

What do you need? Not much really. Even just whatever you have around the house. I DO NOT have much extra money (as in seriously, I really don't) so much of what I used except for the $5 book of scrapbook paper that will last me awhile, I had at home.

  • Something as a background: corkboard, frame, heavy cardboard works too cut to size you want
  • tape (double sided would be great) or glue gun
  • push pins
  • scrapbook paper
  • magazines for quotes, pictures, words
  • quotes or other inspiration printed from computer
  • ribbon, washi tape, paper punches, etc...
  • Scissors
  • If you don't have financial resources create a board online
Decide how you want to organize and create your board. There is no right or wrong. It's yours, let your creativity soar. And if you think you aren't creative, read this quote from the book The Fringe Hours...

"Nobody is not creative. There is no such thing. I think there are only people who don't exercise their creativity"...Karen Walrond

So, no excuses! Have fun, get creative and make your board. I started by placing my papers (taping it in case I want to change it later) to the cork. I then cut out my quotes and placed them on the board. That's it. Don't think about it too much, just enjoy the process. My board is on the desk in our living room..so not only I can see it, but my family as well, and they can also be inspired. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016 and being Intentional



I have never been a fan of New Years Resolutions. I'm not entirely sure why, but it could be because quite often our resolutions are so "high" that we just cannot realistically meet them. Or maybe it's the pressure of meeting them that causes us to "freeze" and go no further! Whatever it is, you have to decide for you what's going to work. Maybe you totally ROCK those resolutions, or maybe not!

Two years ago we went through some rather sudden changes that were certainly not in our plans, were pretty painful to our hearts and life altering in regards to our day to day lives. I won't go in to details but life as we knew it changed. I'm a fairly stable person, pretty solid, steady, go with the flow, but this threw me for a loop, hurt my heart and added some extra responsibility on my shoulders since my hubby no longer had a more flexible schedule. In a sense I felt like I lost a part of me. Who was I really? Who were my friends? I threw myself into taking care of my family, the lady I worked for, the kids I helped babysit and the "friendships" I had on FB because they seemed more accessible than the IRL (in real life) friendships that seemed to have dwindled and the ones that I felt I still had were so busy it was hard to coordinate schedules. 

I let go of "me". I have always been a nurturer, peacemaker, hater of conflict and I just wanted to take care of everyone. Everyone but "me" that is. I quit exercising, gained 10 pounds and was just stuck in a rut. It wasn't that life wasn't good, it was, it was just different than what it had been, different than what we wanted it to be. Now, I know there are people going through things that would be considered far more intense or life shattering, but we all go through things that are like a smaller earthquake,  not huge, but it can still be felt and it shakes us up a bit. 

So, with that all said, I decided I needed to do some things differently in 2016. The main thing being taking care of me! Honestly, that was the only thing! I needed to take care of me, take time for me. Make me a priority. Because if I do that, then everything else will fall into place, and even if it doesn't, it won't fall apart either. 

I decided to choose a word that would represent what I wanted to see happen in 2016. That word was INTENTIONAL! 

Intentional = Done on purpose; deliberate.

What a great definition right? That is what I needed. I needed to take care of me on purpose, deliberately. Emotionally, Mentally, Physically (health and body), Spiritually. With INTENTION! I would find myself asking myself "is this intentional? Am I being intentional?". "Are the things I'm doing, thinking, feeling, being done, thought, or felt with intention?". 

I know I have a long way to go, but I can sense changes. For me, I do best with little, achievable steps. I'm sure if I had to I could do big, drastic, cold turkey changes, but I'm more likely to be successful if they are small. So I take one day at a time. If I have an "off" day I'm working at not being discouraged or beating myself up, but recognizing it for what it is and evaluating what I need to do differently, or why I was "off". Yesterday, I found myself snacking more and I needed to stop and think about why I was doing this. I think I was really tired, had a bit of a stressful day and that was probably the reason...I didn't take time to be "intentional" with those things and they got away from me. 

So what are some things I'm "intentionally" doing?


  • Made a vision board (see tomorrow's post)
  • Reading some encouraging books and not just reading but "ingesting" them. I have several others, but these are the ones I'm reading right now.
    • The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner
    • Improvised by Robin Konie
    • Mirror Bible
    • God Believes in You by Francois Du Toit
  • Watching periscopes that challenge and encourage me in different areas. 
  • Exercising daily. 
    • I downloaded the 7 minute App (paid version) and I'm starting with that.
  • Working on eating intentionally.
  • Choosing joy and not stress
  • Embracing the everyday as exciting instead of mundane.
  • Finding quotes and sayings that encourage and challenge me.
  • Being confident with what I know, feel and think, even if it's different than what others think. It doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Things I want to do a bit more of or try doing:

  • Blogging more regularly
  • Maybe doing periscopes on books I've read as encouragement, etc. or other topics
  • Pursue learning photography more just for me
  • Do more things that I love, even if I have to do them alone
  • Make time for friends. 
  • Get outdoors more, hikes, walks, just out!
  • Continue finding and being creative with cooking.
I know there are more things that will make their way on to the lists, but these are just a start. I was going to share my vision board here, but I think I'll do a separate post tomorrow. 

I want to encourage you to be intentional. Don't forget who you are in the midst of life. I love the following verse..


By the waters of reflection, my soul remembers who I am...
Ps 23:2-3

Doesn't that just encourage your heart? It does mine! Take time for you. I'll be posting more on intentional living periodically and my journey. I hope to encourage you. 

Well, I've rattled on long enough. So I'll sign off. Check back tomorrow on my vision board. 




With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, January 18, 2016

SRC Reveal: Sweet Potato Praline Brownies

Sooooo....The end of 2015 was CRAZY and I'm glad I had that month off from SRC (Secret Recipe Club for those who don't know). My oldest daughter got married on December 17th and my body decided it would be a great time to get a cold...so from the day before the wedding till now really, I've been sick..still coughing though I feel 97% better. With all of that, and the holidays, I wasn't really paying attention to SRC assignments...maybe somewhere in my brain I was thinking I had January off too, or maybe I thought I forgot to sign up for that month...whatever the reason, the other day I went on to the SRC FB page (which because of life I don't always do), and saw that Group C and D reveals were coming up..."hmmm", I thought, "I didn't get an email, maybe I forgot to sign up...I better check". Uh, good thing I did. While I didn't get an email (I checked), I was assigned a blog...yikes..I might have been THAT person that leaves an orphan. So once I received my assignment I had to quickly peruse my blog and find a recipe with things I had in my  house or that would cost very little money since it wasn't payday yet. I. FOUND. ONE. Phew!

Okay, enough with the drama. My assigned blog was Tea and Scones. The author LOVES to bake but her blog is filled with many, many other types of recipes. There are more than enough to choose from. I had pinned a few Indian dishes to try at some point, which is a stretch for me. 

In the end I chose to make her Sweet Potato Praline brownies. Can I just say I died and went to heaven. They were so good. I did stress out just a bit though. Not entirely sure why, but I was just worried about a few things as I went. In the end they were great. They really couldn't be held like a brownie, you almost have to eat it like a cake, it's that soft. 

The 3 things that stressed me out the most were:

1. The Sweet Potato. The recipe called for a large sweet potato. Ummm...what is the definition of large. I went to the original recipe and it said the same thing, just a large sweet potato. oookaay. Well, there's no flour so I'm guessing this is important, but I just bought what I deemed large. I don't know if that affects the consistency. Then they were still a little lumpy after I mashed them.

2. Egg Whites. They had to be beaten to a stiff peak then gently stirred into butter and sugar mixture...my butter/sugar mixture was pretty thick, so I used my mixer to mix the egg whites in, but then I was nervous that I just ruined the recipe.

3. The praline. I have never made praline and I just didn't know if I'd get it right. I'm pretty sure it worked. 

Okay, I'll stop yakking and get on to the recipe. 

Ingredients:

Brownies:
1 large sweet potato
5 large egg whites
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Praline Topping:
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. powdered sugar (confectioners)

Instructions:

1. Cook sweet potato. If using microwave, prick potato, wrap in paper towel and cook on high for 5 minutes. Continue cooking in 2 minute intervals until done. Or, prick potato, wrap in foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until done. Allow to cool, then peel and mash well.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8" square pan.

3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. 

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and sugar and beat at medium speed until combined.

5. Add cocoa powder, baking powder, and vanilla. Gently fold in egg whites till combined. Stir in pecans and sweet potato. (I used my mixer to do all of this).

6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is firm.

7. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter. 

8. Add brown sugar and salt and bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

9. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in evaporated milk. Return saucepan to heat and bring to a boil again. Boil, stirring constantly until mixture reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer..(be patient, it takes awhile). 

10. Remove from heat and stir for 2 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm (wasn't sure what that was, but when it started getting hard to stir I moved on). Add vanilla and stir in powdered sugar and pecans. 

11. Spread over warm brownies carefully. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
These were well worth the bit of stress. You don't miss the flour and the flavor is wonderful. My hubby shared some at work today and didn't tell anyone what was in them until they were done eating. They were impressed. 






With Joy UNquenchable,

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