Saturday, May 23, 2009

Escapades in Baking

Well, first of all let me say that I am a much better cook than I am baker. I can make a mean hopin' john and some pretty wicked tamale pie (or Mexican lasagna... whatever you wanna call it). I have always LOVED to cook but my insatiable creative urges lead me to experimentation and making a recipe "mine". I used to not understand the art of flavor combining and balancing sweet with spicy or savory, or tangy and so on, and so I used similar spices in mostly everything (garlic, onion powder & basil).

Since the days of ignorant bliss, I have learned the joy of simplicity in cooking and highlighting certain flavors while not overpowering the wonderful tastes th
at the fruits or vegetables I use deliver. Less is definitely more, in a lot of instances!
But, I am still learning mind you.... and great cooking certainly comes with experience. I will not give up though. I love being creative and spending time in the kitchen and I will master my flaws. Thank goodness though, the people who eat my food the most seem to really like it. And it's almost always healthy!! I am having a whole lot of fun w/ granola lately! Once I nail a great recipe, maybe I'll post it.

Now,... the baking. Have I mentioned that we are sort of health nuts? We don't like white flour, sugar or fatty lards, etc... We eat pretty healthy, nutrition filled vegetarian (mostly) meals and so I absolutely cannot bring myself to follow a recipe to the T if it calls for some of these unhealthy ingredients. I also love to sneak in milled flax or wheat bran or even shredded carrot, to my recipes for the nutritious value it adds. This is what leads to my less than par baking. BUT, I am a determined lady, I tell ya. I am on a mission to figure out healthy baking! And I would love it even more if I could master lower GI (glucose index) baking that is healthy, delicious and satisfyingly sweet (but not too sweet!!)

Yes, we are also guilty of having a sweet tooth... that we usually curb w/ a piece of dark chocolate... but gosh I do love muffins and cookies, etc..
In fact, I made some lower GI blueberry muffins today w/ a touch of crushed pineapple and coconut. My 3 yr old won't leave them alone! Maybe I'm getting closer to being a satisfactory baker than I think.... but I don't know. Some of my cookies turn out pretty, uh, cakey!
I think mastering my desires in baking will simply take practice. Practice makes perfect, right? Lets hope!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Beyond My Old Country Home

I certainly would love to travel abroad. I think exposing yourself to other cultures and art broadens the realm of thought. If our entire lives are lived in the same city, or round a bout, and our thoughts lie only in our circle of friends, local happenings or the next episode of American Idol or Lost, then chances are our minds will be very closed and deprived.

If we do not expose ourselves to other cultures, geographical locations and art then our brains and thoughts will never reach their God given capacity. We have to see, taste, smell and feel what the Lord has given us.

I know I don't know it all... and I certainly don't have all the answers. In fact, I would be willing to admit that I am very young spiritually and know that I still have quite a way to go... but, I think at the same time that my ideas are pretty practical. I would say I am a fairly bright girl and I do know that without art appreciation and education involving that of culture and the world, our thoughts are limited.

If we never see or learn what is out there... what God has given us and what gifts He has given other people, through ignorance, our thoughts will stay in a cozy little comfort zone.
I don't want to be confined to my old country home.
I want to see the world... I want to eat the foods, meet the people, learn the arts and appreciate what all the Lord has given us.

Homosexuality, Anxiety and Christianity...

If there is a thin line between controllable and uncontrollable personal circumstances, and our chemical make up and biology determines mental balance (bipolar, schitzophreia, etc), then the division between right and wrong becomes much more difficult to really see and understand.
I am a Christian; I believe that God intended for a man to be with a woman and I also believe that we are not to be overcome with our human emotions and simply trust that all is a part of Gods plan and everything, through him, works for a greater good- even though it may not always appear that way at the time.
And most importantly, I believe that Jesus died for our sins and that the Bible is without error.
But, there are so many foggy issues. I have studied a lot of science. In psychology I learned that when you take a set of twins who were given up to adoption at birth and reared apart, if one turns out to be homosexual, studies show that the chance of the other being homosexual is very great.
Okay... at this point I become confused. This suggests biology behind homosexuality, and not mere choice. So, what is a homosexual to do if there is uncontrollable in born chemistry that causes this way of thinking?
Now, don't think that I am disputing anything that the Lord says is right and wrong. I am not trying to disprove anything the Bible says. I believe the Bible to be true and holy and without error.
But I am simply confused when it comes to this.
My uncle is homosexual. I love him dearly... and because of that I want to delve a little deeper into these thoughts. If he was born the way he was born, and did not make a conscious choice to be homosexual, then what is he to do to be right with God?

Now lets move to the being overcome by human emotions idea. I suffer from anxiety. I always have. It was a lot worse when I was younger, but still... the thought of going to certain public places (especially alone) seems, at times, daunting. I fear praying out loud, talking to people I don't know well, dentist visits, social situations- especially crowded areas, seeing friends I haven't seen in a while- which means catching up... talking to my teachers (one on one), speaking up in class, etcetera.
I used to be so bad that I could hardly muster up a word in school and I have actually had slight anxiety attacks.
If my heart starts pounding and I get shaky, sweaty, and nervous... what am I to do? In order to obey the Lord, I am to not let myself get like this because in doing so, I am not trusting that He will deliver me from that situation.
But how do I control this? I pray about it. I still get horribly scared for no good reason.
Some people have chemical imbalances... such as bipolar. Is anxiety a chemical imbalance? And if so, how is the chemistry and biological imbalance a sin?
Like I said, I am not trying to dispute anything the Bible says. I am just voicing my confusion.

Feel free to clarify, as I know I have a lot to learn yet.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm sort of in the mood for some interesting photography...

Here is an neat photo... this one reminds me of Salvador Dali's surrealist paintings.
It does look very fake but the dreamy feeling you get from it is sort of nice. It is definitely an interesting look... if you appreciate that sort of thing. It is called "Timeless".

I love the simplicity of this photo. She is such a beautiful little African girl and the expression and lighting are phenomenal. Very nice.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And another....

This was taken in Vietnam and is called "Being Protected".
I have dabbled with photography and have always had an appreciation for art. Through photography and Art history classes, my appreciation certainly grew. Art education is of true value. It opens ones eyes to other cultures and it expands the imagination and ones thoughts.

Pictures speak volumes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

How to get over a guy... while getting a good laugh...

Well, in my recent efforts to console a friend and help her in getting over a guy who just was not fitting the bill, I found this great article on It is not only great advice, but highly entertaining!! It had me laughing, for sure...

Before I found this article, the advice I came up with myself was to stay busy-busy and turn to and trust in the Lord. I suggested she make a list of 10-15 things to keep her butt busy, in the case that unwanted hindering thoughts should reappear in her head.
Here are some ideas:
  1. Workout
  2. Clean with loud music
  3. Organize something (closet, drawers, etc..)
  4. Call a friend
  5. Go to the mall (even if just to window shop)
  6. Go for a walk or jog
  7. Read a great book... or go to the library and get several great books
  8. take up a hobby... crocheting, jewelry making, sewing, painting, blogging, etc..
  9. go find some little kids to play with (make sure you know them though... don't go snatching up random kids, now!)
  10. pray
I suggest keeping a list like this handy, so you have it to turn to when you're reminiscing about what's-his-face. And a prayer too... I wrote her a prayer to remind her and inspire her to tap into her God given strength and to simply trust in Him. Here's the prayer:

Dear Lord,
Please stand by me through these tough times and help me to remember that you are near. When I feel sad, please draw closer to me and remind me that you have a better plan for me.
Please guide me and give me strength to do what is right and what will make me happy. Help me to draw nearer to you, now and always.
Help me to fully trust that you will work things out in my life and please forgive me for not believing that I can get through this... because I know that through you, I can do this.
Please help to keep me busy and keep my thoughts from drifting to things that will prolong this pain. Lord, please hold my hand and walk with me and give me a big loving comforting hug and surround me with your Holy spirit so that I may feel strength through you and relief from my pain. Please draw nearer to me when I am feeling weak and bless me with your wisdom and strength.
Thank you Lord Jesus for never giving up on me! I love you and in your name I pray,

I think it would be best to keep a prayer in a journal or something handy... either this one or something more fitting to yourself, but nonetheless, a prayer that will help get you back in check and remind you where to drop your worries and put your trust.

Here is the link to the article I found:
(It's hilarious!!!)

Check it out if you need a laugh or know of someone in need of some advice!

To solve or not to solve... that is the question

I realized recently that all problems don't need to be solved. Now, don't get me wrong... a lot of things definitely need to be dealt with- deep marital issues, finances, parenting issues, etcetera. But the process of trying to solve everything, rather than just forgiving and letting go and letting yourself be forgiven, can cause you to fall into a painfully endless spiral of negativity and life sucking drama.

Before I came to this realization, I thought that things said during tough times would leave deep scars and would change everything (and sometimes they will- if you let them). I also thought that every little detail needed to be ironed out and explanations and corrections where a must if the situation were to ever lie peacefully again. I do think that trying to clarify things can definitely shed light but if your efforts are sucking the zeal from from your life and nothing but new problems and hurtful words are sprouting, then I would recommend learning from my mistakes and taking this advice:

Drop your problems at the feet of the Lord. Trust that he will get you through this rough patch and just forgive and let go. Also, you've got to let yourself be forgiven ::: apologize, stop explaining and correcting, and just let it all go.

Letting things go is definitely the hardest part... especially for us stubborn folk!
But, only through this will things get back to that wonderfully peacefully happy place.

And it's kind of funny how things happen when you let the Lord take control. It is never
quite how you want or would expect it to happen, but most often it is far better!
In this situation I thought that a deep friendship with this person was an ancient dream of the past, never to resurface again. But through the Lord placing situations and opportunities at our feet, our friendship is not only renewed but deeper than ever!
It is funny to sit back after a situation is resolved and realize that you have caught a tiny glimpse at the Lord's plan for your life. He knew that the hard times would give our friendship what it's been needing for some time and all of this would force us to evaluate some areas of our lives that needed some revamping.
Thank you Lord! You are always there for me...