Monday, January 31, 2011

Self Worth

I am back!!!!  Very excited to say that in the last week I have accomplished a few things.  "Abundance" is officially opening the doors tomorrow and I think it is adorable.  I have lots of herbs, supplements, and vitamins which is wonderful.  I am also making natural bath products, and I must say that is the most fun I have had in the kitchen, maybe ever.  Making lip balm is amazing, I can't believe I used to pay for the stuff.  In the near future I will be blogging my recipe but I have something else on my mind this morning.

Last night I went out for sushi with a few girlfriends.  We had a wonderful time and the conversation was fabulous.  It confirmed some things that God has been doing in my heart for a while.  Women, I would venture to say nearly all, struggle with where they derive their self worth.  This is something I have been grappling with literally for years, possibly since I was a teenager.

Society inadvertently teaches us, beginning pre-puberty, that our worth is found in....what we look like, watching an episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras" the other night was an extreme case of this, but even girls that aren't put in pageants feel the pressure to be pretty.  As time goes on and we do reach puberty it increases, pretty girls are treated better, it's a fact don't even think about arguing with me.  During the pre and mid pubescent years one out of four girls are molested, value placed on the female body and what it does for a male.  As teenagers we are constantly exposed to media that shows perfect bodies, perfect make up, teeth, hair, etc.  Impossible to live up to but we all try.  Time goes on and we become women and more of the same.  Really nothing changes, we compare ourselves to what media shows us, magazines, each other, never satisfied with ourselves.  We give birth and then complain about the evidence left as stretch marks, a little or big pooch on the stomach, breasts that don't stay in place after nursing the babies.  Then we get a little older and we hear peers talk about women that are greying and don't color their hair and we are once again pressured into fitting into a mold that the world is creating for us.  We spend a fortune on clothes that may cover those undesirable bumps.  Some even go as far as plastic surgery to lift those boobs, remove that cellulite, flatten the tummy.  Botox, which is literally poison to paralyze facial muscles.  Just writing this is making me nauseous.

So what is my point?

Who and what are we doing this for?  I believe with all my heart that as women we are buying a lie.  I think I am a pretty intelligent person and I fall victim on a regular basis.  However, I have decided to wage war on this lie in my own life.  That is not at all to say I think you are a bad person if you do all of the things I mentioned but I do think you should at least consider looking at the "why".  My value has absolutely nothing to do with what I look like, it has nothing to do with how good I am morally, it has nothing to do with what I can do domestically, it has nothing to do with how good I am in bed, it has nothing to do with anything on this planet I can "DO".

This morning I was laying in bed thinking about this.  I have heard preachers say it is in the fact that I am a Christian, which is close, but that still leaves it in something I have "done" by choosing to follow Christ.  But that would also mean that I have more value that someone who hasn't, which I do not for a second believe.  My value is wrapped up in one thing......I am a creation of God, made in His image, period the end.  If you are thinking that is extremely generic think again.  That means that the way God made me, and trust me that is not entirely desirable, is exactly the way I am supposed to be.  I am unique, extremely strong willed, crazy eccentric, moody but learning to control it, oversensitive especially when I have PMS, very project oriented, I adore change, I could go on but I think I made my point.  God created me, perfectly imperfect, my new favorite term.  I may choose to color my hair again but it won't be because I feel like I have to, I will put on makeup in a few minutes because the truth is I like to "feel pretty", I will try to be a good wife and mother because the things I "do" bring glory to God.  But I will no longer confuse the things I "do" with where my value as a woman lies.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Growing Pains

Hi friends!  This will be my last post for a few days at least.  I have come to realize that this computer screen, though it is my connection to so many, is also a HUGE drain on my time.  I have a few goals that must be accomplished ASAP and have decided to turn off the computer until they are completed.  But before I go I just wanted to babble a bit.

This morning I was in such a dreadful mood.  I woke to a monster fever blister which is a direct result of not getting enough rest.  Luckily my sweet 8 year old climbed in the bed and snuggled the grump right out of me.  It is an awesome thing to love and be loved.  Sometimes I think of my life and the many people involved in it and wonder if I moved away who would truly miss me.  No this is not a pity party blog, it's just me thinking of who really matters, who really loves me.  A few weeks ago I called my mother and one of my best friends in tears because I realized someone "unfriended" me on Face book.  I must also say I had a pretty raging case of PMS which was a contributing factor to this unrationalization.  Well this so called friend was someone I went to high school with and truth be told I wasn't friends with her in high school and had no contact with her until I discovered FB, so......what's the point. 

This Christmas I made a decision to stop going places and spending time with people that I do not genuinely like.  That doesn't mean we have to think alike, as a matter of fact I prefer that we don't.  I really love being challenged, a little healthy debate is a wonderful thing.  It is the people that disagree with me that have caused the most growth in my life.  I come from a family that doesn't disagree very often and in a way that is wonderful because I don't have to worry too much about them raging over me getting a tattoo or my nose pierced.  Also I have no doubt that they genuinely love me.  But I need to be challenged, it's just who I am.  I need you to tell me why you think the way you do even if I think it is utterly ridiculous just so I can examine the way I think and be sure I know why I think the way I do.

Religion has always been a subject that I have practically ran from, so afraid that if I understood something besides Christianity that it may cause doubt.  Oh  my gosh how completely pathetic is that.  I have decided I want to know, I want to understand.  Why?  Because I really believe that to grow in my own faith I have to understand yours.  I have to question mine.  I have to doubt it.  Not because I am interested in changing but because I am interested in growing.

Wow, and babble I have done.  I guess now I must get to work.  Love and blessings!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Time to get this Biz Cranking

Hi everyone!  I am writing this as a deadline to myself.....  I will have my shop open on Wednesday January 26th.  The name is "Abundance" and I will be selling herbs, vitamins, supplements, natural body products, organic cotton t-shirts, and whatever else I can find that you may like.  I will also be doing natural health consulting, which will include but not limited to....weight loss, improving immunity, digestion, hormone balance, raising healthy children, etc.   Consulting will be done by appointment.  I am really looking forward to getting started and will post more later.  Blessings!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pesto Veggie Pasta

Last year I was super busy with a little "homemade meal to go" business.  One of my favorite meals to cook and a best seller was Italian Stuffed Meatloaf w/ Pesto Veggie Pasta.  Although I am no longer calling it "fasting" I am still refraining from meat and so is my 13 year old son.  The best part about that is we both eat so many things we normally wouldn't.  He has been so adventuresome and I am so proud of him.  This pasta dish is his favorite meal.  It does lack protein so if you are a meat eater add some grilled chicken or shrimp to make it a really well balanced meal.  We eat mostly beans and nuts for protein but that would not have gone too well in this meal.

Pesto Veggie Pasta
1 lb. pasta, I used bow tie but it works great w/ penne too
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 container sliced mushrooms
1 or 2 large bunches of broccoli florets, you could use a bag of frozen
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 purple onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt to taste
1/3 cup pesto
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta al dente, drain.  Heat olive oil and add mushrooms, saute until they are tender.  Turn heat to medium, add broccoli and place lid on pot for 5 minutes.  Add remaining veggies and pesto and allow to cook until veggies are crisp tender.  It is important to this dish that nothing is mushy.  The vibrancy of the veggies is what makes it so good.  Add pasta to veggies, salt if needed, top with a little Parmesan and serve.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm done

I just wanted to take a second to say....I am no longer fasting.  Truth be told I have not had any meat but that really isn't such a big sacrifice so I'm not going to even call it a fast.  I can't spend another 2 weeks feeling like I should be doing more because I blogged that I was fasting.  I think I fast better alone and keeping quiet about it.  Just thought I would share that bit of info.  If you have any specific food questions feel free to send them my way and I will do my best to help you out.  Blessings.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Spinach and Black Bean Empanadas

South Louisiana is ffffrreezing.  Yesterday morning we woke up to no heat and 57 degrees.  Thankfully we have a large fireplace that kept us from frostbite.  Well when it is cold outside I always feel like cooking so I have made a few things I thought would be fun to share.  After reading Young Wifey's Blog about empanada's I was inspired to make a vegetarian version of my own.  Corbin loves black beans and Jackson loves spinach so I thought I would combine the two and they were wonderful.  One of Jackson's friends who is not vegetarian loved them.  Oh and we are only veg for a few more weeks. :]

One thought....if you do not think these look healthy you would be wrong.  All ingredients are organic!  Fat is NOT a bad thing, you need it for good brain function and numerous other things.  If you are a calorie counter.....can't help you there.  One improvement that could be made is using spelt flour to make the pie crust.

Spinach and Black Bean Empanadas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 lb. frozen chopped spinach
Chopped jalapeno to taste
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt to taste
2 refrigerated pie crusts
Saute' onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add spinach and jalapenos, season with salt.  After the spinach is cooked taste for flavor and adjust to your taste.  Let mixture cool a little.  Add black beans and cheese.  Open pie crusts and roll out a little.  Cut into 4 pieces each and place mixture in the middle then seal edges.  Bake on 375 until golden brown, 20 minutes or so.  I served these with cilantro sour cream, which is just sour cream and a little cilantro placed in a food processor.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Potato Soup

Ahhh, fasting is so much fun.  NOT!!!  Okay truth be told I have had more energy and just felt better in general, and the reality is that eating vegetarian is not that hard.  My wonderful friends that are Daniel fasting with no bread or dairy... I do not envy you but I pray God blesses you sooo much.

I am not exactly the most spiritual person on earth.  Don't get me wrong, I love God with all my heart and am committed to Jesus.  However, I have to walk by faith because I never receive spiritual visitation, ever, not even when I am fasting.  So this experience for me is a reminder that I do not have to do what my body is telling a big juicy hamburger.  Nor do I need to gossip, be negative, not show love, etc.  It's really all the same you know, just saying "no" to ourselves.  The devil is not our biggest enemy,  we are our own!

Although I'm not seeing angels I am seeing red!  Which is a sure sign I am fasting, arhhhh, grouchiness extravaganza.  Corbin, my child that has hearing issues, told me that he was being picked on about his not hearing well.  Lord help those kids, they better be glad I am at least trying to listen for the voice of God right now, because my own voice was screaming to follow that school bus and have a little chat with their parents.  However I went to visit the principle instead.  Maybe anjels are closer than I think because my human nature had WAY diffent plans.  ;]

On to lighter things.  Yesterday I made potato soup for Jackson's teachers.  They asked for the recipe which constitutes success to me.  The boys and I ate a spinach quesadilla and potato soup for dinner and together they were total yumminess.  I did not make the quesadilla, it came from Whole Foods, but it was just sauteed spinach, mozzarella cheese, feta, olives, and roasted red peppers.  The potato soup recipe is one I have used for many years and have found a way to make it ridiculously simple.

I didn't take pics but I'm sure you can use your imagination.

Potato Soup
2.5 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 stick butter
1 lb. bag frozen seasoning blend
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
Salt and Season all to taste

In one pot place potatoes and cover with water an inch above, add salt to the water.  Boil until tender.
In another pot, saute' seasoning blend in butter until it is completely tender.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.  Add potatoes with water and stir well.  Add milk.  Season.  I use an immersion blender at this point because I like it creamy.  If you don't have one, you should, however for the moment....before adding milk use a potato masher and mash potatoes as much as you would like.  If you like it really creamy with no texture you could put it in a blender at the end.  Garnish w/ shredded cheese, green onions, and bacon if you eat meat.

To make this vegan friendly.....use Earth Balance instead of butter, and rice milk instead of milk.  It will still be delicious!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Beans beans good for your heart.......

Okay admit it, you know that little song is the first thing that comes to mind when you eat or think about beans.  Well if you aren't eating meat then beans are a MUST.  They are loaded with protein but unlike meat also fiber.  So no sitting in your digestive system for a couple of days to rot, yuck!  Earlier this week I made black beans and garbanzo/chickpeas.  With the two I made veggie burgers which tasted good but the texture was too mushy, next time I think I will add a little brown rice to the food processor and if they turn out, then you will get the recipe.

I do want to tell you how I cook beans that taste good without sausage, bacon, ham, or any other meat.  Please realize this is coming from a true southern girl that thought, a few short years ago, just about anything could use a little touch of bacon grease.  The same recipe applies to almost any bean I  can think of with one alteration.  Sometimes I add honey, sounds weird but it truly adds a depth of flavor that they need.

1 lb. beans of choice, go crazy, there are so many out there you need to try.  Whole foods bulk section has a good selection.
1 lg. diced onion
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon diced jalapeno
Sea salt, to taste
Seasoning blend, I went to Whole foods and found a replacement for Tony's that doesn't have salt, just get something that appeals to you
These were some of the beans at the San Francisco Farmer's Market.
This farmer grew loads of heirloom beans, we bought some giant speckled butter beans, yum.
First, soak your beans.  If you soak them overnight use cold water, if you only have a couple of hours or less use hot.  I recommend you soak at least an hour.  Drain the water and rinse well.  Place them in a 4-5 quart pot and add water, enough that it is at least an inch over the beans, more if you want them soupy.  Keep in mind you can add water as they cook.  Next add everything else, you do not need to saute veggies, also don't over salt, you can add more at the end.  I cook on high until they are boiling, then turn them down to medium and cook until tender.  If you like creamy beans use the back of a large wooden spoon and mash some against the side of the pot, turn the heat to simmer and let them cook until they are the consistency you like.

Okay these are the beans I add honey to.....Black eyed peas and butter beans.  They already lend themselves to a little sweetness so they benefit when you play that up a little more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 3

Yesterday was wonderful.  Got loads of work done on my shop and got in a little exercise.  I did not however cook a thing.  Ended up at Whole Foods getting groceries and bought a spinach lasagna for dinner and made salad to go with.  The lasagna was really good and I am planning to develop a recipe in the near future.

Today my kids are beginning their attempt to eliminate meat.  This morning I was supposed to be making Corbin a PB&J but was sorely dissappointed to discover that Jackson left the organic peanut butter, that requires refrigeration, out.  So I sent Corbin to school telling him to just do his best to avoid meat.

They are also supposedly fasting processed food.  Corbin and I were having a conversation about what vitamins are in which foods.  He says what about B vitamins.....Funyuns have that.  I cracked up, looks like the mass produced junk food marketers are doing their job when an 8 year old thinks Funyuns are healthy.  Crazy!

Today I am cooking beans, black and garbonzo, to make veggie burgers, black beans soup, and garbonzo bean creole.  Recipes to come.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 2, I want cabbage!!!!

Today is day 2 of my fast.  I am having a hard time understanding why I don't eat like this every day because I have SO MUCH ENERGY!!!  I have gotten more done today than I have in the last month.  I will not pretend not to be hungry....I am.  Considering the fact that I gained 6, I repeat 6 pounds over the Christmas holiday I suppose that is to be expected.  My tummy is used to being quite full.  Yesterday I had a green smoothie for breakfast, a fresh carrot and apple juice for lunch, and oatmeal with hemp hearts and almonds for dinner.  I was not terribly excited about my dinner.  New Year's day I made some super delish cabbage that I spent the entire day anticipating for dinner with some cornbread that I made all organic and with whole wheat flour.  Well my beloved took it to the camp, arghhhh!  I wanted to drive there and get it but it's and hour and a half away.  So for lack of anything more exciting I will tell you how to cook this cabbage, that has NO meat and I promise tastes amazing.

I did not say it was pretty, just yummy.
Sauteed Cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 head cabbage
jalepeno peppers, diced
Sea salt, to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add onion and saute a couple of minutes.  Cut up cabbage and wash in a large colinder.  Add cabbage, jalepenos[I use around a tablespoon but adjust it to whatever you like], salt, and honey.  DO NOT add any water, the cabbage has a high water content and doesn't need it.  Place the lid on the pot and let steam a few minutes.  Stir, and continue to cook until it gets tender.  We like a little texture left in the cabbage.  A lot of people cook it until it's mush but this is better if you stop it a little earlier.

I cook all my greens this way except most others require a little water added, I also add garlic to others but not cabbage.  My favorite is kale, don't let it scare you, it is delicious.  But you can also use mustard greens, collards, turnips, or spinach.  Hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fasting 101

I was 19 years old and attending Bible college when I fasted for the first time.  Of coarse, being the all or none person I am, this fast lasted 7 days, yes I am serious.  I survived on chocolate milk, grape juice, orange juice, probably a malt or two, okay I am literally LOLing right now.  Obviously I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, hopefully I'm a little better now.  My focus back then was supposed to be entirely spiritual but in reality I remember getting on the scale constantly.  In those 7 days I lost 10 pounds!!!  However, I broke that fast on a bag of Doritos and went on to eat a quarter pounder and who knows what else and managed to gain that 10 pounds back in 24 hours.  

Since that time I have fasted numerous times and read a few books on the subject.  My observation is this....fasting sounds spiritual, I believe it can lead to spiritual growth, but more than anything it is a physical reality.  You are denying your physical body.  My point in all this is if you are going to fast make the most of the physical benefits of it too.  Forget the scale, the truth is whatever weight you lose if you break it on junk like I did it will immediately come back.  If you fast in a healthy way and begin incorporating foods slowly you may not gain it all back.  Your stomach shrinks and therefore you will eat less after if you listen to your body.

Last New Year's our church participated in the Daniel fast.  Basically eating a vegan diet while also excluding bread.  This wasn't a very big deal because we ate this way most of the time already.  The problem I noticed while observing some of the participants were that people were so bored, they ate french fries all the time, and took no joy in the food they ate, feeling deprived.  Well I know the whole point of fasting is deprivation but I do not for one minute think Daniel felt deprived.  Go read the story!  Eating this way is closer to the way God created us to eat in the first place.

I have fasted many times using the Master Cleanse recipe.  Basically you make a lemonade with organic lemons, organic grade B maple syrup [loaded w/ B vitamins and enough calories to sustain you], and cayenne pepper [I took a capsule, can't handle the taste].  You also drink a laxative tea at night.  That is it, the only thing you have, ideally for 10 days.  I've made the 10 a few times but it's usually more like 5.  This fast produces amazing physical and mental benefits.  Within a day or two of starting my mental clarity is amazing.  Physically you cleanse and I mean cleanse.  That is also the problem with it.  If you aren't a few steps from a bathroom at ALL times you are in trouble!  So I am not doing that one this year.

My fast of choice this year is to have liquids for 2 meals a day, which will include homemade green smoothies, and fresh carrot juice, and one solid meal that eliminates meat and all processed foods.  I am believing God for a few specific things and am excited to see spiritual growth in my life.  I am also excited about the physical benefits of doing this.  I will not be getting on a scale but I will be monitoring my physical body by observing my eyes and tongue mostly.  Why?  Well healthy people have very white whites, and very pink smooth tongues.  True, check yours out.  

I will post recipes for things I make during this time.  My kids are going to attempt to eliminate meat also, it should be interesting to see if I can keep them happy with veg meals.  I have a couple of cookbooks that sound promising so tune in to see what I'm cooking.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Grace

I seriously feel like I blinked and a year went by.  The saying that time goes by faster as you get older is so true.  Today I spent my entire day at home with my family and it was wonderful, except for a little headache that tried really hard to ruin my day.  I had a wonderful opportunity to focus on what I want to change about myself during the next year.  Hmmm, sadly so familiar.  How many resolution lists have I made  that are a whole page long?  Too many!  So this year change is NOT what I want.  I am  a rare person that adores change.... we have moved 8 times in our 16 years of marriage and mostly because I get bored and need a project.  Usually a house is the creative outlet I choose.  I have lamented that truth because I am criticized plenty for it.  Guess what.... our house is for sale now.  We live in a beautiful farmhouse that was truly my dream home when we built it 4 and a half years ago.  So why are we selling?  I have realized I would rather an amazing life than an amazing house and I am finally getting past caring what my critics have to say about it.  During the past few years I have discovered that since I was around 18 years old I have lived my life for others.  This is no one's fault but my own, but I am on a path that is focused only on pleasing God and luckily my family is totally on my side with this.

My first step was quite controversial, a few summers ago I had my nose pierced.  This was by no means a rebellious act, my husband was all for it and my kids were okay with it too.  I had been wanting to do this for 20 years and it suddenly dawned on me in Taos, New Mexico that I was old enough to make that decision for myself.  You may think that is ridiculous but let me tell you it was the first step to liberty for me.

My nose ring.  
So I am making one resolution this year....... to knit a prayer shawl.  If you knew how tightly I am wound you would know how difficult that little task is.  I sit by the fire and knit and feel all the tension in my body focused on making this thing perfect and it is so far from being.  I need to let the tension go and accept imperfection in myself.  Years ago when I got married and became a stepmother I was so focused on being a supermom that I had to go to counseling because it was causing me so much stress.  It took years for me to let that go and I am constantly feeling the draw back to that person, yet I refuse to go.
Prayer shawl.  I have been working on this for 5 days so I'm guessing it will take me the whole year.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.  Thankful for my daughter in law for teaching me to knit, I am not an ideal student.
  I look around at the material things that I love so much and they are all very old, paint is chipped, and many people would think they are garbage.  But I see the value, because they contain sentiment for me, because I love them.  Well this year I will see myself the same way.  Perfectly imperfect because God loves me.  No one expects more of me, I happen to be blessed with a husband that lets me cry about the same old hurts that I have cried about for the last 16 years.  He never says "get over it" because he knows I'm working in that direction.  I am truly a blessed woman!

A table I love simply because it is so imperfect.

This is a sign Mike bought me that is 100 years old.  Reasons I love it... yes I am Mrs. Green but in my mind my mother in law is the original, what an amazing woman.  Another amazing woman is my mom whom happens to be a tailoress extravagant, unbelievably talented.  This sign symbolizes the two women I love most. 

Mike bought me this for Christmas a few years ago.  I saw it in a gallery and it made me cry when I read it.  I know it's a little crazy but hey so am I.  This is what it says......There are things you do because they feel right & they make no sense & they make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & eat each other's cooking & say it was good.

This is the trunk my mom stored our pictures in when I was young.  

He is blinding proof for me that God loves me.  I do not deserve his love but it's still there.  True evidence of the grace I am so desperately in need of.  Thank you JESUS!