Thursday, July 12, 2012

great thought

A great thought I received by email today!

Today's Bible Verse (James 5:10-11)
Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. NIV

Today's Devotional
Father I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You have asked, Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge? Surely I speak of things I do not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. I will listen now, while You speak, You will question me, and I will answer You. My ears have heard You and my eyes have seen You. Forgive me for questioning you Lord. In Jesus name I pray, Amen. (Job 42)



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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

pantry challenge

In my previous post, I eluded to an "excess" challenge I've given myself.  If you are my friend on facebook, you've seen a summer of pictures of food.  And as much as I love to cook, so much of that has come from a challenge I've given myself.

As part of my process with these books, I challenged myself to a summer "pantry challenge". There really were no rules, just some boundaries I set for myself.

-Use the things you already have in your freezer, fridge, and pantry

-don’t buy groceries if you don’t have to

-substitute with something you have if you need to

-get creative

-try new recipes you have been wanting to

-freeze part of it so you don’t get tired of eating it (this one is super important if you are single!)

-for Pete's sake (not sure who he is!) quit wasting perfectly good food.

After seeing my pictures on facebook, someone asked me - "So, what is this pantry challenge" - and seeing as how I never posted the rules above - because who likes rules? And, once it became something with rules and not "fluid", I knew I wouldn't stand up to the challenge any more - creativity for me has no boundaries - you just "go with it"!

So, now you know what's with this pantry challenge - its just a personal challenge to delete excess. For me having a "full cupboard" is symbolic of having a full life. I, thankfully, grew up in a home where the cupboards, pantry, fridge, freezer, snack bowl, cake stand were always full (might explain some very chubby pictures in my past!). It was the way my mom expressed love to us. And, it was the place SO MANY AMAZING childhood memories were created. My mom loves to cook - its what she does when she is stressed, wanting to be helpful, bored, creative, well, basically she LOVES to be in the kitchen! And, she passed that on to my sister and I. It's so interesting how different all 3 of us cook, but it’s our thing. It was my grandmother's thing and she passed it on to us.

It just felt fitting that the only thing I could find myself able to control this summer was this "cooking" thing. And, it has been fun. I have really worked through some emotional issues in the process of trying to cover up emptiness and void with this need to have a full cabinet. Yes, I will open a cabinet and rearrange cans just to see if I can make it look more full. I'm getting somewhere. I've not been to the store to "buy groceries" in a I can’t remember. Yes, I've gone to get milk, or coffee creamer, berries and toothpaste, but to just walk the aisles and fill up a buggy. Its been a long time. My checking account is more grateful, but I've had a blast just trying to create with what I have.

You see for fun, I will totally go walk the aisles at Wal-mart. I love to find new products and see "what's new". When I go on vacation, we always stop at grocery stores. Even when my sister and I were in Italy, we stopped at markets all the time and I think the majority of our souvenirs came from there (hope that was ok!). But, that's just a place I love. Combine that with my desire to save money and I was going at the end of every month and using up coupons. Now that's a whole another post, but I would only buys things where it really was a money saver and that I would use. If it was free, I would get it and figure out how to give it away. It was a fun game I was playing, but it was adding to my excess. Seriously, who needs 6 bottles of Dawn? - Even if it was less than a dollar. I don’t hand wash dishes, as a matter of fact, I'll let big dishes sit for two weeks just because I hate washing dishes that bad. So, as I began to see this "storing" process, I was disgusted and decided I had to do something about it. I had to control my urges and set new boundaries for myself. It has worked for the most part. I even found myself wanting to impulse buy something last week and really stood in front of it for 20 minutes before I picked it up out of my buggy for the 3rd time and put it back on the shelf. It was a moment of victory, a small moment, but a big one for me nonetheless.

So, in the process of all this, I've discovered some new amazing recipes that I highly recommend:

-Sante Fe Chicken Casserole - I had bought this cooking creme on a free coupon and I combined that with black beans, corn, brown rice, chicken from my freezer that I bought on a BOGO, cheese from my freezer (I had bought a big bag that I put in smaller bags for such a time as this), scallions I had frozen from not using in something else, and of course I always keep diced tomatoes on hand (never know!). I did not have tortillas, so I just put it all in a 9x13 and told myself with out the tortillas, I had less calories! Of course, this was one of those things I had to separate into portion size amounts for lunch leftovers and put half of it in the freezer - I've learned to portion freeze things. About 2 meals is all I can handle. This did freeze and reheat well.

-tilapia and fresh veggies - I had fresh veggies left over from a wedding I helped with so one night, I did stir fry veggies and baked a tilapia fillet in a sauce made from things in my fridge door. The next night, I roasted the veggies (I always toss them in an Italian dressing or olive oil based dressing) and pan seared the fish. It was the same meal fixed 2 different ways. Oh so fresh and healthy!

-tortellini and tomato salad - I had some tortellini on my pasta shelf and had just made a trip to my grandparents. Since I came home with a box of produce, I had to use it up before it went bad. So, I added fresh tomatoes, corn and roasted squash (all form good East Texas dirt!). I only used one package of tortellini and the sauce was very oily, so I threw in some left over shells and cheese I had in the fridge. It was perfect with all the add ins!

-waffles - I had frozen wheat waffles from one of those spontaneous trips to Wally world and some peaches from the local farmer's market that I wanted to eat before they spoiled. So, instead of syrup, I made a compote from the peaches. I cut them up and put them in a sauce pan with butter. After they cooked down, I added a little brown sugar and cinnamon. Then, I poured that over the waffles straight from the toaster! Heaven I tell ya!

-this week, I made homemade spaghetti sauce. I had lasagna noodles and more tomatoes and I needed to take something to small group, so I blanched the tomatoes and cooked them down with basil that I had in my fridge (needed to use it up before it went bad - none of my herbs did any good this year - way too dry). It was really good. I did have to buy the cheeses for this, but I felt like an Italian woman on Sunday and my kitchen sure smelled like one!

These have been some of my little creations. Some more healthy than others, but definitely fun on every level to access what I have and try to come up with something that will work. Thankfully, there are some great resources out there like Allrecipes and Pinterest and I've found that the company website for most products have some great ideas. For example, I made pop tart casserole for a July 4th party all from ideas I found on the pop tart website. (It was weird and different, but a new creation I discovered)

You can do it!


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conversations

I recently had a conversation with a friend about some books that I've been mulling over in my head.  I've not read any of them, but I've read enough about them to get the idea.  Honestly, I think part of me is scared to read them bc of the life it is going to challenge me with.  So, I'm like a little kid running my chubby little, copper toned toes through the edge of the swimming pool.  I really want to go in, but it might just be too cold!

Here are the thoughts I shared with her and as I've mulled over them, I think I want to share them with you too!


One Thousand Gifts – this is the one that has the iphone app – also, here’s a link to the JOY Dare that’s affiliated with it.

A Holy Experience – the website for the lady who wrote One Thousand Gifts (the music alone is worth going to the website – I have it come to my Google reader so I forget how calming it is!)

A Place at the Table – I’ve not read this one, but I’ve heard great things.  His movement on the Advent Conspiracy really changed some serious thinking for me in December and the way my family looks at Christmas.

At the end of all this, I really feel like I need to say something – I’ve obviously not gone full force into any of this. (I mean, I have 3 closets at my house full of clothes)  It’s not like I pick and choose the easy parts, but I think it’s all more about adopting the idea of accomplishing more with what you have.  I feel guilty about having a pantry that’s full to over-flowing.  Sometimes I compulsively buy things that I don’t need bc I want them and that’s why my cupboards look like they do.  I don’t think its emotionally healthy.  I find myself sometimes coming back to this place needing healing where I realize that I was covering up loneliness, and other insecurities with food and while yes that meant weight, it meant more of a heavy “cabinet”.  That weight was worse.  For me, part of this is the healing of taking that bad time, that bad place and using it for my healing.  There are things I’ve had to throw out and more things that will be right behind it.  I hate throwing food away when I know there are people around the world starving (I catch myself wondering if I had donated that money instead of feeding my impulsive shopping).  And, that’s the place that all this comes from for me.  Right now, it’s an emotionally healthy moment and that’s why it feels extreme, but I will hit a low and I’m sure that will come from opening my pantry and seeing an empty shelf and somehow personally affiliating myself with that.

But, in all this, I think theses authors are on to something.  I don’t compare myself to them, I can’t.  It’s not healthy and I realize that they are just in a different place from me.  I mean Ann has 7 kids that she home schools.  She lives on a farm in the middle of nowhere and makes everything.  She is gorgeous and has a hot, farming husband who “does” life with her.  That is not my life.  That works for them, but it doesn’t for me.  I’m a modern, 21st century, single, young professional who doesn’t have kids or the prospective of a man.  I’m ok with that.  But, I have to keep all those things in mind when I read these stories and let my convictions come over me.  I may be moved, but moved differently than them. 

This summer, I would love to “purge” my house.  I need to get rid of the emotional “clinging” I want to do to things.  They don’t really make me feel better, but I think they do.  They are baggage, weighing me down and making me wait for “someday”.  It’s not healthy and these are some of the tools that for the first time don’t make me feel bad about myself, but empowered to at least freely think about what I can do in my world.  How I can adopt some of these schools of thought and make them work for me and the convictions that God has placed on my life.  Not convictions that other people have placed on me. 

That’s way more than you asked for, but I really think its easy to read these and be overwhelmed by how amazing these godly, Christian women seem and compare ourselves to them.  I’m grateful that they’ve chosen to articulate their feelings and personal processes in a way to challenge us, but I think it has to be that.  Not a measurement tool that we grade ourselves on whether we are as holy as they are, but to use their words as portions of encouragement.  So often, that’s not the case but I really believe at the heart of these books and “movements” is a challenge to just be better, live with less, and do more with what we have – time, resources, family, passions, skill sets, etc.

I don’t let any of it plague me, but instead just let it be gentle nudges in the right direction of become better and essentially becoming more. 



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etsy listing

Last night I posted some new items to my Etsy store - kcutiedesigns!

You may not know that about a year ago, I opened my own little business.  It's called K Cutie Designs.  Right now, I sell t-shirt dresses and car seat covers.  I'm always looking for new items to make and LOVE doing custom pieces.  Stop by and check it out.  If you like what you see, tell your friends about it.  If you dont, just "X" out of your browser!

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