Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Childhood Memories

The trend on Twitter today is #childhoodmemories.  The result of my reminiscing...
  1. Slam books
  2. Friendship bracelets
  3. Buying fabric for my mom to sew multiples
  4. Crimp iron
  5. Keds
  6. T-ball shirt sleeves tied with large bows
  7. Big league chew gum
  8. Placing pennies on the railroad tracks to watch the train smash them
  9. Digging bike ramps and naming them
  10. Three wheeler rides through the cemetery
  11. Making up rap songs
  12. Messing with my brother's legos
  13. Buying our Nintendo and being astonished that it cost $99
  14. Dominoes games with Aunt Margaret
  15. Finding out I had a hernia when giving my best friend a piggy back ride
  16. Smell of Nanny's spaghetti sauce
  17. Pulling the trampoline beside the pool to jump in (totally safe right?)
  18. Telling my cousin that Icy Hot would make her sore better
  19. Skate City on Friday nights playing snowball
  20. Bright blue snow cones
  21. My tree house covered in Mississippi State logos and maroon and white paint
  22. Rutherford, my 4 foot stuffed rabbit
  23. Christmas Eve with my huge Italian family 
  24. Riding two people on a bike while the back person tickled the front person until she fell off
  25. Candy necklaces
I could go on and on.....but I should probably go back to work!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spicy Slow Cooker Roast

This is my most popular and easiest "go to" recipe.  Few ingredients, no hassle, cooks while you're at church, washing clothes, or sleeping (my favorite).  I paired with homemade mashed potatoes for Easter.  And I've used for sandwiches this week.  It's a bit spicy, especially if you use spicy rotel.  Only for the brave at heart! 

1 boneless chuck roast
1 can rotel
1 jar pepperoncini peppers
cavenders greek seasoning
garlic salt
black pepper

Rub the roast with cavenders, garlic salt, and pepper - to your liking.  You can marinate overnight if you wish, but it's completely fine if you don't.  Drain the pepper juice into a crock pot.  Place the marinated roast in the crock pot.  Pour the can of rotel and pepperoncini peppers over the roast.  That. Is. It.  Cook 6 hours (on high) or 12 hours (on low).

Sorry, no pics.  It's been devoured!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Two books, One purpose

I am reading two wonderful books, Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I alternate chapters each day. Both books center around gratitude.  Eucharisteo.  In the final moments Jesus Christ shared with His disciples before He knew that He would willingly lay down His life on our behalf, "He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it and gave it to them...”  In the original language, “gave thanks” is written eucharisteo. He gave.  His life.  For us.  Eucharisteo.

In Calm My Anxious Heart, Linda Dillow recounts her experiences in Eastern Europe ministering to women about Christ and helping them form secret and dangerous meetings to spread the word. One day when Linda was back in the US, a woman (part of the ministry) visiting from Europe, Eva, came to visit Linda. She and her husband have no home and live as gypsies with their 3 year old child traveling to spread the word. During their conversation, Linda said to her, "When you see all the modern conveniences here for mothers - washing machines, disposable diapers, baby food in jars - how do you feel? Life for you is so difficult." Eva replied, "Linda, when I lived here in the West, I observed Western women. They have so many things that they don't need God."

I have started my Eucharisteo (Thanksgiving) list. The Thousand Gifts List - I'm only to twenty three. What a journey this will be. A few of mine...

2. The refreshing lift leaving Sunday church
3. The sound of my knife chopping vegetables for a meal
4. The feel of my favorite sweats after a long day
5. A baby squeezing his hand around my finger
6. A first kiss that leaves you smiling for days
7. The feeling in your arm after a really good tennis stroke
8. Taking my nieces to get snow cones
9. Picking out flowers for the mood I'm in
10. The helpful men who boosted me off today when my battery was completely dead

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23

Maybe when I get to number 1,000, I'll have a different perspective of life, a more grateful one I hope.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week

"Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

Luke 22: 39-42

The Last Supper is a strong reminder of how very human Jesus was, yet divine at the same time. How terrifying it must have been for Christ to know his crucifixion was near, yet remain strong for his disciples. He was so human in his request, “take this cup from me”, which reveals his anguish. We sometimes forget that Jesus faced the same human temptations and struggles while here on earth. And yet he prayed, “your will be done” in the face of his own death.

It can be difficult to let go of our desires and follow Christ. Even in the simplest areas of life, we can be tempted to handle adversity in a sinful or selfish way. When we say Yes to God we are called away from our old selves, from our old way of doing things, from our old ways of thinking. We say Yes to God because “…not that we loved God, but that he loved us first and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

As we strive to align the desires of our hearts to God’s will in our lives, we can be encouraged and humbled by Christ, who so bravely in the face of death prayed, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Devotional

Lately I've asked God to change my perspective.  I'm in a rut, a bad one.  It goes something like this - "Ugh, I'm tired of looking at the same ole furniture. My bedroom needs a lift - wish I had a desk.  If I open this refrigerator one more time and see nothing but milk. This 7 year old Honda is not so fancy any more. This 30 minute drive to Clinton every day is wearing me out. I hope my boss isn't in today. Gosh, I've lived here for 9 years.  I'm tired of seeing the same ole people."

Nice thoughts, huh?  

How negative of me.  And how embarrassing. Since asking God to help change my outlook, He has been as simple as can be -- "Be content, my child.  Look at what I've given you. This world is not eternal."

One day we will enter Heaven.  What will God say to us?  I at least want to be able to face God and say -- "Father, I tried very hard, even though I failed many times, to live my life for you."  I would be ashamed to face God and know that I lived my life for new furniture, the next new car, a bigger house, the perfect circumstance, the best husband, impeccable children, a nice wardrobe, and anything else that is only of this world.

The following excerpts come from Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow.

What we are on the inside, what we continually think about, eventually shows in our words, actions, and even our countenances. Most of us base contentment on our circumstances, on our feelings, or on other people. However, true contentment is separate from our circumstances. Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs.

God fills our cup with our portion, what He determines best. Our portion is our physical and emotional being, our abilities, circumstances, roles and relationships. Sometimes we don't like what's been poured into our cup. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane seeing the suffering he was about to endure pleaded, "Father, if you are willing, taking this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42 Christ grasped the handle of his cup and lifted it to God and said, "I accept my portion. Infuse me with your strength that I may drink." We can choose to accept our cup, our portion, or we can smash it on the ground and say, "This is not right for me. I don't like what you've put in my cup. I'll control life myself." Contentment is accepting God's control over all of life's circumstances.

"I am strong for all things in the One who constantly infuses strength in me." Philippians 4:13

Contentment occurs when Christ's strength is infused into our weak body, soul, and spirit. God infuses contentment into us through His word. As it seeps into our minds, it transforms us. Just as a cup of tea gets stronger when we give it time to seep, we become more content when we spend time in God's word and allow it to seep into our lives transforming us to be like him.
I pray today that God humbles us to know He is the pourer of our portion, and that no circumstance can overcome the depth of God's love for us - that we may find contentment in our hearts and Christ will beam from us where ever we may go.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring Cleaning

First thing's first - it's been entirely too long since I've posted!  But I do have a reason.  My reason is... I've been waiting on my brand spankin new blog template that I ordered, and for some reason it is taking longer than expected.  So, what have I been doing?  Well, I spend the majority of my time in class, summarizing articles on education, studying for Praxis test(s), running, and doing all of this over and over again.  But I became inspired last week - by the weather and the fact that I have yet to put my closet in an order in which I'm satisfied.  All girls know that organized closets bring peace and joy to life. 

On my way home from class last week, I was feeling kinda skippy, so I stopped by Target.  I walked out with the following:
1.  A 9-cube, 3-story white shelf with three cloth baskets that are inserted in the three middle cubes (2 brown, one green)
2.  Two plastic white cubes that sit on top of each other with one brown basket and one green and white basket that fit into the cubes
3.  160 white, plastic hangers
4.  An organizer divided into 3 sections for my jewelry
5.  And a Diet Coke

Always a Diet Coke.  My sweet roommate helped me put together the cubicle shelves and they sat in the middle of my room surrounded by large, red and white Target bags full of plastic hangers and baskets for three days.  #Annoying.  Due to my schedule, I didn't think I'd have time to even begin this project until Sunday, but against my better judgement (or best judgement), I skipped my Thursday night run, and opted for spring cleaning. 

After making dinner, washing two loads of laundry, and watching part of American Idol, I decided it was time to get to work.  I began with the "cleaning out".  Seven garbage bags later labeled "Good Will", and I was finally read to move my new shelves into the closet. 

I then finished arranging my closet to my liking by rearranging clothes by season and color.  And one-by-one, placing each clothing article on a new, white plastic hanger (angels sing).

After much debate between small purses, belts, scarves, socks, and bathing suits, I decided it would be best to actually see my belts and scarves vs them hiding in a trunk on the opposite side of my room.  So they found a new home in the two-tiered plastic cubes and cute baskets.

My next move was to reorganzie my jewelry and place it on top of my new white shelves.  Wah-la.

My closet is very narrow, so it was impossible to get full shots of anything.  But this next picture is the best I could do.  Please pardon the quality of pictures also.  My camera is dead (sign of my blogging sabatical) so all pictures were taken with my iphone.  And no, I have not updated to the iphone 4.  I am not an anxiety ridden Apple technology upgrader. 

Finally my hands met as if "my work is done here," and I climbed into my comfortable bed at 12:15 a.m., said goodnight to the world and my new and improved closet and closed my eyes.

Peace to all - go spring clean!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow Day = Clean out the Pantry Meal

Well who says you can't be creative when imprisoned in your home due to a winter storm?  Not me!  I began to revert to my childhood this afternoon when I would endlessly bug my mom on a rainy day,

"Moooooommmmm!  What can I do today?" 

"Clare, go draw me a picture."

(five minutes later)

"Ok, mom, here's the picture.  What next?"

After watching the Philadelphia Eagles lose (sigh for Jamar Chaney, former MSU Bulldog), I felt that childhood rainy day restlessness come upon me.  My instincts grabbed the phone to dial mom, then I remembered I'm 31 years old and should create my own ideas of entertainment (although I did take up 2 hours of her time on the phone later on).

I decided to conjure up a meal in the kitchen using what I had in stock.  Turkey/veggie burgers, homemade bread, and dill cream cheese were the winners.

By the way, you can really have fun with burgers.  I had onion, fresh garlic, and spinach for my burgers today, but there are endless possibilities...corn, beans, mushrooms.  Combine these ingredients with turkey meat, add a little salt and pepper, and there you have it.

Pour a dash of EVOO in a frying pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  I spread my dill cream cheese (mixed low fat cream cheese and Pampered Chef's all purpose dill mix) on my homemade bread (whole wheat flour) and made a nice, healthy sandwich!

Homemade Bread

5 to 6 c. flour (whole wheat flour)
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Blend well. In small saucepan, heat water and oil until very lukewarm. Add warm liquid to flour mixture. Blend until moistened, then beat with beater 3 minutes. Stir in 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour until dough pulls cleanly away from side of bowl.

Knead 10 minutes, adding a little flour at a time, if dough feels sticky. Grease lump of dough. Put in bowl to rise and cover with towel. Let rise until double, then punch down. Divide dough into 2 parts and shape into balls. Let rise on counter covered with inverted bowl for 15 minutes.

Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased pans. Let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until it has risen about 1 inch above pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow. Remove from pans and brush top with butter. Makes 2 loaves.

See what you can do with a snow day and a kitchen!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

5 Healthy Habits to Start the New Year

You can ask anyone that knows me.  I have not always been the healthiest eater.  And I am not a healthy eater every day.  But I try.  I began taking these simple steps a few years ago, and each year it seems I become more aware of my body, and add healthier habits to my life.  You can do this too, even if you begin with one change.  You have to start somewhere.     

1.  Don't eat everything on your plate.  It's my simple ground rule.  Lose the nagging mom-voice in your head, "You will not get up from the table until you eat everything on your plate, young lady."  Whatever amount of food you are served, or have over served yourself, there is no rule that states you must eat it all.  I take this as a challenge.  It has created what my friends call "A Clare plate" (always food left, and sometimes it doesn't look pretty). This habit reduces caloric intake, but more importantly, it gives you the confidence and will power needed to continue making healthier eating choices.  

2.  Replace (and avoid) fattening butters and oils.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO in Rachel Ray's world), Canola Oil, and Macadamia Nut Oil are the best oils to use for cooking, baking, and mixing salad dressings.  Butter, my friend, is not your friend.  Choose a healthy butter substitute such as Smart Balance or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.  I promise (from the bottom of my dear heart) that you will not be able to tell a difference using healthier butters and oils. Except on your hips.      

3.  Ask for your salad dressing on the side.  A salad  is healthy, until you add a bottle of dressing on it.  Order salads with low fat and healthier items such as chicken, tuna, almonds, cranberries, artichokes, and peppers.  Go light on the cheese and croutons, and omit the bacon.  Don't have some salad with your dressing.  The first time I actually tasted lettuce was about a year ago.  It feels good to savor the healthiest part of your meal.

4.  Choose Omega-3.  I know, I know, a good steak is a-ma-zing.  And well deserved sometimes.  But a piece of fish is a-ma-zing-ly healthier. Just ask the Mayo Clinic.  I won't argue with them.  

5.  Avoid bread as much as possible.  It is nearly impossible.  And how do I love thee.  Most people do not realize how much bread they consume.  A muffin for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, three pieces of bread with spaghetti for dinner.  It adds up.  Then it shows up!  Just be mindful of bread in the new year is all I'm saying.  Choose whole wheat/whole grain breads when possible.  And make a sacrifice every now and then.  Bread for lunch?  No bread for dinner. These sacrifices will slowly pay off.  You'll see.

The best way to become a healthier eater is to not overwhelm yourself with too many changes in your diet all at once, and simply, to be mindful.  Think about what you put into your body.  It affects how you feel, your energy level, your immune system, and your self esteem too. Be good to you.  And have a wonderful new year!

Here are some great websites where you can find healthy eating and lifestyle tips and recipes!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rollssssssss

For real.  I mean, these rolls are 'for real'.  I decided to make Pioneer Woman's famous cinnamon rolls for my girl's Christmas get together tonight (because I love them so much, my friends that is).  And because I would NEVER, EVER make something this sinful and delicious and leave it in my home as bait.  I would fail.  And then my hips would grow, and then I'd have to run more (no fun).  And anyway...

The recipe calls for extreme amounts of butter and sugar.  So if you are a diabetic, stay away.  Dad.  Although I'm making them for Christmas morning breakfast so I don't know what he'll do, except we'll pray for his willpower, which we know he doesn't have.  I'm a mean daughter I guess.

For step-by-step instructions on how to make these cinnamon rolls, visit http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/cinammon_rolls_/

So I bid you, go, get your roll on.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Year, New Mission

So I've been inspired.  By Pioneer Woman.  A woman I just found last week.  A woman whose blog is everything I ever imagined mine to be (and is totally not).  She has my life.  I want it back!  Just kidding, I wish. But this brings me to contemplation.  The same contemplation I felt when creating my blog.  What to name it, what it should be about, what do I even have to say?  Which I always have a lot to say.  Just ask my friends about my looooong stories and the countless times they have said, "Ok, Clare, get to it."  I vowed to keep my blog to one subject, cooking.  And now I've turned into a major slacker, and for lack of better words, blah.

Sooooo...for the same reason I did not title my blog anything cooking related, in case I had this euphoric moment of wanting my blog to be more than it is (which would not be hard since no one knows about it or cares), I am going to write about anything and everything that comes to my little head.  It may include cooking, or it may be ramblings of a subject you could care less about.  And no one may ever read it, which is completely fine because I often have writers remorse, or posters remorse.  I can't count the times I've posted something on facebook or twitter, only to delete it manically two hours later.  I change my mind a lot.  And I may even delete this post in a few days. Who knows? But really, who cares because Pioneer Woman I am not.  But Pioneer Woman has single handedly inspired me.

To a new year of blogging and inspiration!  (when it begins in 17 days because I have a lot of shopping and sleeping to do)

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