Friday, December 2, 2011

I've moved!

Hi all! I've been missing in action for far too long now... 
But boy was I enjoying my little sabbatical from posting! 

Married life has finally taken on a little bit of a routine and I've been crafting like a mad woman! I can't wait to share some of my fun new DIY things with you... Yep talk about a new aspect for the blog! 

But, first, I've moved. Simpler URL, simpler look, same old me! 

Find me here! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Wedding Registry Revealed No. 1

I love being married to J. 
He's charming, handsome, appreciative, absurd... Oh how long the list goes.
But with our marriage came lots of gifts.
Lots of kitchen gifts. 
Talk about my little heaven. 
We have an amazing kitchen and lots of new tools and gadgets to work with.
So, to push myself to use them all...
And to share my new favorites and recipes with you
I will do my new Wedding Registry Revealed series of posts. 

J wakes at 5:00 am every weekday. 
While I am not obligated to rise at the same time, I am a morning gal and
find it easier to rise than to fall back asleep.
But by 7:00 am, my post workout coffee is a necessity.

This little tool, the Nespresso Frother, has made me a coffee snob. 
Coffee is not coffee without frothy goodness atop its energy laden self. 

Check out this beauty... It's tasty, but dangerous.
 A coffee without froth is just some flavored water in my snobby little mind now. 
But Starbucks has gone nothing on Ambucks. 
So really, I'm sticking it to the man right? 

I'm a coffee with a packet of Truvia and topped with frothy goodness... 
How do you take your coffee?? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peppered Maple Bacon

I married a manly man. 
You know how I know? 
Bacon is an every meal thing. 
If I served it breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, he'd only fall more in love with me. 
Would he have a heart attack at 42? Probably. 
So I save his sweet heart the punishment. 

But I do love to treat him to pure deliciousness... 
And I did that in the form of peppered maple bacon. 

Yep, he loved it. 
So does Baby Bear. And Bubba. 

Pamper your mister with this treat and he won't stop thanking you.
Just be prepared for the daily requests... 

What do you need? 
A pack of thick cut bacon (it'll be easier to flip in the oven) 
1/2 cup maple syrup
Black pepper

How you ask? 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Lay the bacon out in a single layer on two baking sheets. 
Pop in oven for five minutes. 
Once it's bubbling nicely, brush it with a layer of maple syrup. 
Let cook for ten minutes.
Flip and brush with syrup again. 
Finish for ten more minutes or remove when cooked to your taste. 
Sprinkle with pepper.

Seriously this stuff comes out HOT. 
J learned that when he popped it right into his mouth.
Talk about burning the roof of your mouth.
Maybe sit on your hands for five minutes while it cools... 

Another idea: 
I made BLTs for Bubba and J the first time I cooked this.
Tasty! The sweet and spicy really added another element.
Taking BLT to the next level!

See the bacon on the side...
I'm telling you, just can't get enough of this stuff!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Birthday Blues

Last Sunday was my sweet baby brother's nineth birthday...
Yeah, he's nine already!
Ten rambunctious third graders joined Baby Bear for a jolly jumping good time
followed by pizza and the Lizard Wizard...
Precious just doesn't cover it.

I quickly volunteered to bake the cake... Actually cupcakes because that's what Baby Bear loves.

I have seen pictures of layered rainbow cupcakes, but haven't felt like I could justify making them...
Then Baby Bear's birthday came around and I knew it was fate! 
These ended up being a semi-messy labor of love, but they were vibrant and appreciated. 

He loves yellow... That's why the frosting looks like mustard. 
And the little sprinkles are slices of Sour Punch Straws... They added the perfect contrast of sour! 

How cool does the inside look? 
I almost (alllmoossstttt) didn't want to eat them. 
But oh my didn't regret it once in my tummy! 

And this was all that was left at the end of the day. 
How amazingly artistic does that wrapper look?!? 

And how did I achieve the look? 
Following the process I found here!

1 box white cake mix 
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt or sour cream (I ended up using a half cup of each)
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 cup canola oil 

Preheat oven to temperature on box. 
(You'll bake according to those) 
Beat all ingredients together for two minutes.
(This makes it so airy and wonderful!) 
Once batter is mixed dish it into three, four, or five different bowls 
(this depends on the number of colors).
Add food coloring until it reaches the shade of your liking. 
*Aside: I used Wilson food coloring because it is fantastic and doesn't give the food coloring taste.
Line cupcake pan with liners. 
(go with light colored liners... then you get the tie-dye vibe)
To layer: spoon first color into a well. 
It won't spread like normal, so use your fingers to fill the base of the well. 
Repeat as many times as necessary. 
For the second (and remaining layers) plop a spoonful on top of the previous layer and spread. 
Fill about 2/3 of the way full and you won't get too overfilled. 
Bake for the time listed on the box.
You'll know they're done when you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. 

Let cool, ice, and ENJOY! 

IMPORTANT: This won't make two dozen cupcakes like the box says... 
I had to make a second batch of batter at the last second to finish!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Layout, New Me!

so i'm married... (almost for a whole month now!)
boy does time fly!

and there's a new layout, 
as you can see. 

more understated. 
to remind myself it's ok to leave some time between my posts. 

here we are, happily married and on our honeymoon!

more recipes are coming your way. 
i'm back to cooking like a mad woman. 
check out these pictures and tell me how stoked you are!

yep, my mouth is watering too. 
i'm backlogged. obviously. 
and i'm off to make dinner for my husband. 
you heard me right, my husband! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

marriage, the ultimate union

We attended our first wedding as a married couple this weekend.
It was so fun to enjoy the festivities... Especially because it wasn't our day!
The wedding was so beautiful!
Duh, I was watching one of my closest friends marry the love of her life.

This reading was included in the ceremony and I truly loved it.

By: Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance
to this point of commitment.
At some point, you decided to marry.
From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes,
 indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way.
All of those conversations that were held in a car,
or over a meal,
or during long walks –
all those conversations that began with,
“When we’re married”,
and continued with
“I will” and “you will” and “we will” –
all those late night talks that included
“someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” –
and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart.
All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another,
“You know all those things that
we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed –
well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time.
Before this moment you have been many things to one another –
dancing partner,
even teacher,
for you have learned much from one another these past few years.
Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life,
and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband.
This is my wife.
I am so grateful that I get to share the rest of my life with my dear husband.
He is so much more than a best friend, a teacher, a dancing partner.

(yep, I'm sort of freakishly short compared to J... I never really knew until I saw this picture!)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Much Awaited Wedding Pictures!

I know this isn't going to seem like enough... And really it isn't. 
Our photographer is still editing so we got these few as a sneak peak. 
Oh how we love them already. 

And here are two from the photo booth which was by far the BEST idea. 

When we get all of the photos from our photographer you will probably get an overdose of our day. 
It turned out so perfectly wonderful and was a night we hold so dearly in our hearts. 
(I can't wait for you to see all the little details!)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

It's been so long my dear readers. Oh I do apologize. But speaking of "I do's", I am married and absolutely adore sharing my life with my new husband. I am blessed to say the least.

In the last two months, as I have taken a break from the blog I realized I was not missing writing, nor was my heart aching to put words out for others to read. J and I joined a bible study that we absolutely love and my thinking, pondering, God-loving heart has a restored fire within... Why is this important? It led me right back here to you.

Today marks a very special day in this world. Today my dear Popsicle celebrates his 59th year of life. What a true blessing it is to have him here with us, not only here, but alive, joyful, and so stinking funny. To think just two years ago a doctor predicted we would be celebrating his 57th and final birthday... Amen for God's glorious plan to keep him here with us!

As we have been working through Genesis at church, this last week's message was nothing new to me. Pastor Steve spoke of our refinement of our hearts and our faith through suffering. Growing up in church, I've heard it all before; but this week something different came of it. For the last three years I have watched my Popsicle suffer, physically, mentally, emotionally... I have watched his confident business man self shatter amongst the hard rocks of a disease not well known. His suffering, though heartbreaking, never held a lesson for me, until Wednesday night when we met with our small group for bible study.

My father's brokenness and his resulting humility has revealed a Christian man more devoted to his family and, more importantly, to his God greater than I've ever known. But his brokenness pales in comparison to the way Christ was shattered relationally and physically on His way to the cross. In watching the way my father has relearned to live, and is currently fighting to communicate, I realize Christ lost far beyond the suffering I witness day to day.

Christ experienced the deepest of brokenness, all the while knowing what faced him. My Popsicle had no clue a disease was ravaging his body and mind, and had he, I don't know that he would have faithfully allowed such a devastation happen. Yet Jesus grabbed his fate by the horns and lived the most God-pleasing, honorable life possible.

What a great day it is to share with my Popsicle! I am so grateful to God to know He has blessed us with another year with a wondrous man of Him, especially because I know full well, Popsicle's work here is not yet done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Posting Patterns!

Hi all! 
I have been cruising some blogs lately 
and have decided that I want to set up Fridays 
to be a special day in the world of the 
Simply Sweet Wife... 

I am loving the whole patterned posts thing 
where certain days receive the same type of post, 
but with different topics. 

So my super sweet Friday posts are going to be 
Foodie Friday posts!
I will post pictures of the meals I have cooked 
throughout the week as well as two recipes, 
one that's J's favorite from the week, 
and one that's mine! 

I'm going to try and do Sacred Sunday posts 
that have a little revelation of what God is speaking 
into my heart and soul... 
Lately I have been sort of starving for Him, 
but finding it hard to make time for Him. 
What a goober of a child I am to say such a thing 
about an amazing Lord that will 
listen to my smallest of fears and frustrations! 
Please pray that God will bless me with the lessons
and the words that He so desperately wants me
to share with you!

What are some of your favorite patterned posts? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Forgot to Mention...

I made an amazing dinner tonight... And I was looking at some of my favorite cooking blogs. 

Welcome back to my undercover Betty Crocker self! I can't wait to get innovative in the kitchen and then share! (I've been missing my Stove Top Science Fair)

Here's a little sneak peak of what's to come! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

my pearl necklace

graduating from college and moving home, preparing for a wedding and settling into a house that's soon to be "ours", starting a big girl job... all wonderful steps, but also huge changes that are requiring me to take leaps and bounds of faith, not only in those so close to me, but also in my God. throughout all of the changes i can't help but to think back on a sweet story i remember hearing as a young girl in sunday school. 

i'm sure many of you have read the story below, but reread it and see what God presses on your heart this time.
a cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "oh please, mommy. can i have them? please, mommy, please!"

quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "a dollar ninety-five. that's almost $2.00. if you really want them, i'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from grandma."

as soon as jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. after dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. on her birthday, grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

jenny loved her pearls. they made her feel dressed up and grown up. she wore them everywhere
--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. the only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. one night when he finished the story, he asked jenny, "do you love me?"
"oh yes, daddy. you know that i love you."
"then give me your pearls."

"oh, daddy, not my pearls. but you can have princess-- the white horse from my collection. the one with the pink tail. remember, daddy? the one you gave me. she's my favorite."

"that's okay, honey. daddy loves you. good night." and he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
about a week later, after the story time, jenny's daddy asked again, "do you love me?"

"daddy, you know i love you."

"then give me your pearls."

"oh daddy, not my pearls. but you can have my baby doll. the brand new one i got for my birthday. she is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."
"that's okay. sleep well. God bless you, little one. daddy loves you." and as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

a few nights later when her daddy came in, jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. as he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "what is it, jenny? what's the matter?"

jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. and, when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. with a little quiver, she finally said, "here, daddy. it's for you."
with tears gathering in his own eyes, jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of beautiful genuine pearls. he had had them all the time. he was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

i have started yet another book, Having a Mary Spirit (by: Joanna Weaver) and it is just phenomenal already. i’m hoping God will be teaching me amazing things through her writing and that i can attempt to share them with you through less capable words.
in just the few pages i’ve read, God has reached into my chest and molded my heart. He has said to me (a countless number of times in the last week) that i must give something up in order for Him to provide me with something better. i keep looking at everything in my life and reevaluating, but have suddenly come to a realization… i went through an extremely painful (and losing) summer last year between my father’s health scare and breaking my nose but in all of the loss i have gained times a million.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." -Matthew 13:44-46

in losing the security of my (earthly) father’s mental abilities, my family has grown exponentially and he has just bloomed into a new, fun, more-Christ like man. he longs to make memories with all of us kids, something that had taken a backseat to work. he desires to show us how much he loves us, instead of just telling us. he doesn’t want to miss out on a moment of life, which pushes us to make everything fun and exciting even when it’s not supposed to be.

in breaking my first bone and undergoing my first surgery, i realized i’m not by any means unbreakable. i am a fragile being that is no better, no stronger than the next person. but in the brokenness, God showed me He is restorative. He is here to put us back together and to heal us stronger and more capable than ever before.

in the depths of deteriorating friendships (seems like it's just one after another) i realize that "best friends" doesn't necessarily mean forever. in handing over one broken relationship, another appears to grow me and encourage me despite the pain from the last.

like jenny, i needed to hand over my dime-store strand in order for God to give me the beautiful necklace of genuine pearls. and now, with the real pearls around my neck, i wouldn’t have it any other way; however, it wasn’t easy given up what i felt was a sure thing.

what are you withholding? what dime store pearls is God asking for you to sacrifice in order for Him to bless you with something greater?

and, for some, be patient. you have handed over your dime store pearls and you are in a time of waiting. be patient, our God is a faithful God and He will provide you with the desires of your heart. be still and know He will bless you.

"Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart," -Psalm 37:4

song of the day:
god of this city – chris tomlin

“for greater things have yet to come
and greater things are still to be done in this city”
wherever it is in your life that God is working, remember it is greater than what you are being asked to forgo. hold out for greatness through faith in the King of Kings.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Do I Have to Offer You?

It's been such a stretch since the last time that I've written... Thank you for the sweet words throughout my silence. I am finally feeling better (who knew that a medicine I've been taking for a long time could make me so sick... Came off it and I'm all good!) and now I'm trying to get back into the routine of things.

My love for social media has sort of faded. I have been so busy with the people that are right here and so tangible that the online community began to fall to the wayside. I have definitely fallen off my blogging horse. Partly because I've moved home in preparation for the wedding (holy smokes only six more weeks!) and it's been busy, busy, busy, but mostly because I've been struggling with thoughts that I don't have anything to offer to you, my faithful readers.

I want to have something special, something sweet, something encouraging and enlightening to share... But I don't feel like it's within me. What's my deal? ...I would yell at myself to "GET OVER IT", but then I realize I'd look like a mad woman and I'm already running around like a hen missing her beloved rooster. (Not so much into the head cut off deal...)

Lately I've been working on being fulfilled by my God instead of by... well, everything else. It's not easy and I get so frustrated because I catch myself thinking "If I had (fill in totally materialistic object here) I would be better" and playing the "what if" game. Ugh, my God is giving me what I need, which is not always what I want, but hey, that's life.

What if I was as skinny as I wanted to be? Well, then I'd kiss goodbye to the occasional cupcake, budlight lime, popcorn, ice cream for dessert... I'd have to part with the little things that make each day special. (I don't eat all of that in a single day... Although now that you've put the idea in my head it sounds tasty...)

What if I had a bunch of close girl friends to be around for all the big memories coming up? Well, then my Mama Bird wouldn't be nearly as precious, as wonderful, as sweet to my soul... Why? Beacuse she wouldn't be the best friend I've ever had. She'd just be Mama Bird... and she's so much more than just a mom, I wouldn't give that up for the world.

So many "What if" questions... But so much more certainties that I know and love. Are you in the "what if" zone too? Give it up... We can do it together!

I'm coming back. I won't be posting as regularly as previously, but I'm going to do this! I'm going to be trying some new things... Cooking, sharing my life and thoughts and such, so please stick with me, I promise to make it worth your while. And please share what you love and what you could do without... I want this blog to be meaningful to you too.

P.S. I'm cooking again... And I have some BOMB recipes on deck to share with all of you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No answers yet... But more tests!

I finally heard from the doctors today after my
battery of blood tests and my stool test and my ultrasound...

(isn't this a sneaky ad campaign for United Colors of Benetton?)

My blood came back normal.
My allergies came back clear.
The bacteria they were afraid of is not present.
But there are nodules on my thyroid.

Yep, they are nervous about what the little lumps in my neck mean.
So, I'm preparing for a radioactive uptake scan.
They'll inject me with radioactive fluid, then watch.
I may have to write a post about all the bizarre tests I have had run on me.
It's sort of a comedic tragedy in fact.

I have run a couple of times this week.
Thank my very good God for that chance... My poor legs are restless!
But I'm not all here still.
And even with the changes in my diet I'm just not right in my tummy.
Now my sleeping is starting to get weird too.

I'm moved (sort of)... You know how that goes right?
It's a disaster before anything resembles any sort of organization...
My disaster looks like a nuclear bomb has exploded.

I'm begging J to move closer to me as soon as possible.
He says July. Oh cross your little fingers for me please!
He leaves for Germany tomorrow.
That may mean I'll be a little better at communicating here in hopes he'll read it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Where I am today... Or going to be tomorrow!

How does time escape me so? 
I can't believe that I've fallen behind so horribly in my blogging... 
But I promise this isn't the only part of my life that's being neglected with me not feeling so well. 

I know that life has got to be crazy for all of you too!
Please update me... Fill me in, what's going on with all of you? 
Other than not feeling well and working I know loves is happening here... 

I'm moving. 
Yep, no more sweet little studio in San Diego... 
I'm headed home to save some money and 
enjoy this last bit of time before the wedding with my family.
This also means not as much cooking because I'm enjoying Mama Bird's. 
I promise the cooking part will return! 

The doctors have no answers yet. 
I had an ultrasound on a lump in my neck. 
They're checking out the state of my thyroid. 
They are running about a dozen blood tests. 
And I had to complete a stool test.
(TMI.. yes... but it's important I survived)

Less than three months until the wedding.
Invites are out. RSVPs are starting to come in.
We have lots of friends and family that are coming to join us in our big day!
Now it's time to start celebrating with my bridesmaids and with bridal showers.

Life is definitely changing... But it's going somewhere great! 
I will be all settled after the move by Sunday and then I'm going to make sure this 
simply sweet space grows like it used to... 
Please bare with me! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why Gluten-Free is the Life for Me?

How could something so beautiful be so hurtful?
Looking at that field makes my heart fill with awe. 

In 2008, USAToday published an article about
the rising popularity of gluten-free diets. 
I am thankful that now, three years later, I am finding that a life
free of gluten is the right life for me. 

About five years ago I contracted H. Pylori, a bacteria that
infects that lining of the stomach which can lead to ulcers and cancer. 
After severe chest pains and a battery of tests I was put on two weeks
of harsh prescription drugs to upset the lives of the bacteria within me. 
My dietary trouble has continued to grow and wane since then. 
Originally we thought it a lactose intolerance. 
I would stop milk for a while, but cheese couldn't keep from alluring me. 

Then, about a month ago the sensitivity to food exploded. 
It didn't matter what I was eating, I was bloating, nauseous, uncomfortable. 
My mom grabbed a Fitness magazine in Target and 
flipped to a random article on intestinal issues. 
Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, was covered. 
Although I am currently undergoing blood tests and meeting with doctors, 
I have decided that gluten-free is the life for me. 

Today marks day 8 that I have ingested no gluten and I'm so happy to report
that I feel clean inside, not bloated as seriously, and overall much more comfortable. 
In researching the use of gluten I am a little bit horrified. 
Wheat is used as a thickener, as a preservative, and as an additive to many meats.
Vigilance in reading food labels and understanding the ingredients is key. 

Do you know what you're putting in your body? 

Tomorrow I will post on one of my favorite gluten-free meals and
how to keep your gluten-free self while enjoying going out to eat!

P.S. Leave any questions you have and I will put together a Q&A post! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Missing In Action... or Appetite... or an Apology to You From Me.

Wow, I've been gone for far too long... A post on here is much overdue, 
I apologize for my little out-of-the-blue sabbatical 
but those tummy issues I wrote about two weeks ago 
are still wreaking their havoc inside my intestines and it's taken it's toll 
on my energy and creativity. 

With all of the problems of the last few weeks this Simply Sweet space of mine 
has a couple major shifts in focus and food! 

1. All recipes are going gluten free!
Bye, bye to wheat, rye, and barley... Hello to a more wholesome diet. 
I'm still learning, but I want to share some of the gluten knowledge I'm obtaining! 

2. Organic is the new black.
I will share some of the ways I'm shopping organic to try and keep inside me all clean. 

3. More healthy food posts to come. 
All of the healthy food posts I wrote earlier this year were some of my favorite.
These will be coming in a greater dose now... 

4. My little journey is going to be shared with you too! 
Although we don't know what's going on, I know there's something for
everyone to learn from it... So I want to share! 

The story starts tomorrow. Please come back and share! 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simply Sweet Ingredient Challenge: Strawberries

Such a wonderful time of year with all of the baby birds and bunnies, bright and beautiful flowers, and, last, but not least, the absolutely amazing produce that's sprouting up all around! With all the tasty food showing up at Farmer's Markets near you, I was easily inspired to go for the ever-loved strawberry... and what a great idea it turned out to be!
J loves himself some Ahi, so I decided to make a tangy strawberry salsa to put atop his seared fishy! The trick to this tasty salsa treat is a food processor... If you don't have one you truly are missing out on one of the seven wonders of the kitchen. I have used it almost daily since I bought it and I truly believe that everything can be processed in one way or another! You'll never have to chop, slice, mince, or puree by hand again!
Sweet and Tangy Strawberry Salsa

  • 2 little green baskets of strawberries
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sprinkle (or two) of garlic salt
  1. Add the jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro into the processor and pulse until chopped to your liking. 
  2. Slice the tops off the strawberries then drop the rest into the processor. 
  3. Pulse to your liking. 
  4. Add the lime juice and the garlic salt then pulse. 
  5. Taste test... Add more salt or lime or strawberry as you wish. 
  6. Enjoy on chips, fish, quesadillas... On whatever you'd like! 

And for the other participants' entries: 

There's another coming, I'm just waiting for the post so check for it later! 

And for the next challenge due in two weeks... 
It's probably the most boring ingredient ever... But the list of health benefits are longer than you'd ever expect! Full of fiber, cholesterol reducing agents, and so much more! 

Cookies, breakfast, cakes, waffles... However you can incorporate it, I want to see it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Under the Glorious Weather

My, oh my. I have been gone far too long. I have been under the weather and trying to get myself back in action. This weekend finally seems to be better (knock on wood... I don't dare jinx my poor self!). But in it, I have come to a humble realization that my body, as great as a tool it may be, is bound to let me down. For example, I eat anything dairy and BOOM, tummy ache, bloating, cramps... I eat something too much sugar and BOOM, tummy ache, headache... I drink too much caffeine and BOOM, jitters, headache, munchies. (the list just continues to go on and on)

In the weakness of my body, I see a little snapshot of my plight as a human... I too am weak, in fact, so much so, that I'm more prone to ailments than my dear bod; however, these are ailments of the spirit. The symptoms of selfishness, anger, dishonesty, and gluttony (just to name a few) are indicative of an illness so great we cannot comprehend a cure.

As it is explained in Romans 5... 
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned... For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many... For if by one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

God, in all of His greatness, has cured and conquered the toxic cancer that runs rampant in my sick spirit. Jesus Christ came down and cleaned my soul of all the sickness that could so easily run me down. And the promise of a cure that God gives us holds so much more potential than any pharmacist could possibly give to me... A cure with nothing but positive outcome, no painful side effects or allergic reactions, no adverse interactions... In fact, God promises to grow us, to heal us, to restore us, to make us into a new me who is unrecognizable to the old you. 

What is hurting your sweet soul today? Are you in need of a cure like me? 

P.S. Did you make your simply sweet challenge recipe for tomorrow?? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Body as a Temple

So there's a little shift in my life plans after this last weekend... I got a horrible infection in my intestine that left me feeling like I was going to die for... Well, way too many days! I was completely uncomfortable and miserable until last night when the antibiotics really kicked in and my tummy figured itself back out.
J and I in front of a Mayan Temple in Cancun after we got engaged!
This morning my mom and I were talking about the way my body can be so ravaged by the food that I eat... Then I got to thinking about 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, 
whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. 
Therefore honor God with your body." 

I have always chocked this up to sexual purity. But I have come to believe -just in the last couple of days- that God is also referring to the things that we put into our bodies, the way that we use them -whether for work or for recreation, the care we exhibit towards His gift of our physical being.

My temple is anti-dairy. My temple is very, very picky... In fact, my temple is very much a temple, in that you need to put in the purest and most wholesome of foods or it goes haywire. J's body is more like a waste management plant. He puts in what is delivered and it gets taken care of by his titanium tummy. Half of the things J puts into his very tolerant temple I would barely touch with a rubber glove on... Yet, he has no digestive issues. Why my God did I get such a picky body? Why does my temple require such diligence?

I believe it's because God knows I would love to eat and eat and eat with no thought about the calories or the way it makes my body feel or the way if may affect my weight. Thus, I get sick. He has equipped my temple with a very diligent screening system to assist in my lack of self control... And after four years of struggling, I finally got the message this morning!

What are you putting in your temple? 
Or maybe the bigger concern is how much are you putting in your temple at one time? 
(Hopefully your temple isn't nearly as choosy as mine!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Japanese Street Fare: Introducing Yakitori

I got a new Cuisine at Home magazine last week that had so many amazing recipes in it! I am a HUGE fan of cooking magazines because they promise to deliver many wonderful recipes every month and a subscription really is easy to finance (especially being young and on the way to the alter!). 

This month featured a Japanese Street Fare section with amazing and fun recipes. So I decided to go for it with some Yakitori and Grilled Rice Cakes! 

The rice cakes fell apart on the grill so there's some tweaking that needs to be done there, but they were tasty nonetheless! First, the delicious yakitori!
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup soy sauve
  • 1/2 cup mirin (sake)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 thin slices of fresh ginger (I just used 2 Tablespoons of crushed ginger I already had) 
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 bunches scallions 
  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Brush the grate with sesame oil. 
  2. For the sauce, combine the broth, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil in a saucepan over high heat. 
  3. When the sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for ten minutes. 
  4. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, then stir into the sauce. 
  5. Bring the sauce back to a boil and cook for five minutes. 
  6. Strain the sauce and reserve 1/2 cup for dipping later. 
  7. While the sauce boils, slice the chicken breasts and scallions into 2-inch-wide pieces. 
  8. Skewer chicken and scallions alternating onto sets of double skewers. 
  9. Baste the meat with the sauce and grill skewers covered for two minutes on each side. 
  10. Flip and baste. 
  11. Continue grilling and basting the chicken until cooked thoroughly, about 12 minutes. 
  12. Enjoy! 
And now for the rice cakes... Which I'm still working to perfect! 
Sorry for the lack of a picture for you... They didn't fare well after the grill and J and I devoured them.
  • 1 cup dry, short-grain white rice (in other words sushi rice)
  • 1/3 cup frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared wasabi
  1. Cook the rice according to the package directions. (Mine didn't have any so I used a rice cooker and it worked wonders!) 
  2. After it's done cooking gently stir in the edamame. 
  3. For the sauce, combine soy sauce and mirin in a small saucepan over high heat and allow to reduce by about a third. 
  4. Transfer the sauce into a small bowl and stir in the wasabi until dissolved. 
  5. Transfer 1/4 cup cooked to a plastic bag. Shape the rice into a big triangle using the corner of the bag. 
  6. Repeat with rice to form 7 more triangles. 
  7. Grill bakes until marked, 2 minutes per side. 
  8. Dip cakes in sauce, then grill 1 minute more on each side to set the sauce. 
  9. Remove from grill. 
  10. Enjoy! 
*Simply Sweet Note: Two hints for you... [1] Don't wait for the rive to cool before forming it into little cakes, do that while it's still warm so they stick more and [2] Be VERY careful with the sauce on the rice cakes, it can easily over water them. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lord, make me free like a baby birdie

Yesterday morning Baby Bear came running inside and asked Mama Bird and I to check out the baby birds in the nest a bird built in our patio cover. We went outside to see their growth and realized the birds were ready to get spread their wings and fly.


We were all so excited for them, but with two dogs running amuck in the yard grew nervous. We put Pennie (our bird-obsessed pup) away in the dog run and Calvin (our pain-in-the-neck old man terrier) took off in the house to avoid the pen. We watched as baby birdie one leaped from the nest, flapped his wings clumsily, and then hit the ground. Baby birdie pulled himself up into a pretty little posture and as he did so, Calvin came running out of the house and gobbled the birdie up in one bite.

It was such a sad little moment. We yelled at him no and he finally dropped the baby birdie, but he was already dead. We locked Calvin in the dog run before baby birdie two decided to get his flight on. No movement from the nest left Mama Bird and I bored so we went in to finish getting ready for the day. Suddenly Baby Bear said the other bird came out of the nest and we had to see. Baby birdie two was sort of a hot feathery mess laying face down on the ground. We thought he too had died. Suddenly a little flap of the wing and he was all put back together!

Baby Bear had to leave for school but laid down his compassionate, animal-loving law. No dogs out until baby birdie two was gone. The backyard needed to be searched before the dogs could be free to roam. We all agreed.

Baby birdie two flew the coop yesterday sometime. Thank goodness, all alive and well. But as I think of the excitement of the morning, I can't help but think of God. Of His love and provisions for us.

But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; and often He restrained His anger, and did not arouse His wrath." -Psalm 78:38

Just like Baby Bear did for the birdie, God provides for us to fly, to soar, and to fall without being gobbled up by a ready-to-pounce enemy (or Jack Russell Terrier!). Much like the dog run, God's grace and mercy keeps us from becoming history before our time. Much like a backyard free of dogs for many hours, God gives us time and space to grow while delivering us from deadly danger.

This Friday afternoon, I pray for the freedom to grow and spread my wings while taking comfort in the grace of the God who provides safety for me. I pray that I can lean into the beautiful heart of God that loves my feathery mess of a self... Even when I'm not quite ready to fly. I pray with much thanksgiving for the sweet baby birds that gave me a lesson while doing precisely what God made them to do, if only I could hold tight to my purpose like them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Greatest Demon

I'm not so sure about you, but I know that I can pretend everything's perfect when it's really not. I'm good at telling myself, "No Amber, that's not you" or "It's ok Amber, you don't have a problem." I may not have a problem, but I have a little demon that sits on my shoulder and whispers mean things in my ear. Just like the little guys in cartoon characters.

My greatest demon is body image. I grew up playing soccer and never had to think twice about what I was eating. My freshman year of college was marked with much bad "dorm food" and the eradication of any kind of working out. When I moved home from my freshman year carrying fifteen pounds more than I left with, I realized it was time to take myself more seriously.

I hit the road hard. Running three miles at first, quickly building to five, and then growing higher and higher in number from there. I rushed a sorority and realized that all the really cute girls were skinny. I wasn't super cute, but I ran a lot so I stayed thin.

Two and a half years later and I'm running like mad now... Six miles is a short day and working out at the gym to get the killer arms my wedding dress seems to call for... But I'm not at that skinny sorority girl weight. And every time I look in the mirror I see that extra pudge around my waistline only to be frustrated.

I'm not overweight by anyone else's standards (well maybe some...), but I have no problem looking into the mirror and seeing so many things I wish I could correct. Probably more that I wish I could fix than that with which I am satisfied.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; 
male and female he created them." 
-Genesis 1:27

Growing up in church I have always heard that God made our bodies, thus we should love them as His creation. Well, I love my body because it's a useful tool that God made for me to use... But I don't like that I can't shape and sculpt it to look "perfect" (whatever that means). I have been praying what seems like constantly for God to rip that little demon from my shoulder and place him far, far, far from here, but God is showing me that I can tell that demon "No." It's that simple, just saying no.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden form you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."
-Psalm 139:13-16

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows my frame. He knows those little pockets of fat. He knows the unwanted pimples and follicles that I despise. But the difference between God and I: He loves  dearly my greatest (and tiniest) imperfections. In fact, it's through those most hated parts of me that He acts so greatly through. In fact, the parts of me I love the most, I happen to take for granted... Leading the "loved" to be lessonless.

I'm beautiful because He made me so. Little demon, be gone, I'm a beautiful babe of His.

Practically some tips I have found helpful to dealing with body image issues and frustrations:
1. Listen to your body and eat when it needs fuel.
2. Know that your size is genetic and environmental... Not everyone can be a size 0.
3. Exercise regularly in a way that you love.
4. Know that weight changes in cycles that run weekly and monthly.
5. Work on being gentle mentally... Treat your body right in your mind.
6. Ask for support and encouragement from friends. In return, be honest and vulnerable with them.
7. Decide where your priorities lie. Would you rather spend an hour at the gym getting the "perfect bod" or walk and chat with a close friend?
8. Mental health effects physical well-being... Take time for your mind.

What's your greatest demon? 
What are your practical ways to deal with your demon? 
Let me know, I will pray for your fight... And please, please pray for mine. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Simply Sweet Ingredient Challenge: Hummus

This week's Simply Sweet Ingredient Challenge was to make hummus! Such an easy, but so fun and creative way to make a tasty treat that you can use as a dip, a condiment, a garnish, or fun tasting dish! 

I couldn't help myself and made a little trio of Triscuit toppers that J and I gobbled up several nights in a row as an after dinner snack! 
(sorry for the poor pictures... I left my camera at home so iPhone photography it is!)

The first of the trio: 
Spicy Black Bean Hummus

  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 heaping scoops of jarred jalapeno slices
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to garnish
  1. Drain the black beans of their liquid and pour it down the drain. 
  2. Add all other ingredients into a food processor and pulse away. 
  3. Add salt and pepper (or even jalapeno or red pepper flakes) as you like. 
  4. Enjoy! 
*Simply Sweet to Note: Chill it in the fridge and it firms up a little nicer than the warm soupiness you may originally end up with.

The second of the trio: 
Spicy Cilantro Lime Hummus
  • 1/3 cup cilantro 
  • 1 lime, both its juice and zest
  • 1 15 ounce can of cannelloni beans 
  • 2 heaping scoops of jarred jalapenos, sliced 
  • Drizzle of olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • Red pepper flakes (to garnish and taste)

  1. Drain the cannelloni beans of their liquid and pour it down the drain, then drop the beans in the food processor. 
  2. Zest the limes then cut in half and juice in the food processor.
  3. Add all other ingredients and pulse away. 
  4. Add jalapeno or red pepper flakes as you like. 
  5. Enjoy! 

 And finally, the delicious recipe I debuted here!
(It's my first made all by myself recipe so I'm sort of proud!)


  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (plus some to drizzle on top!) 
  • 1/2 of a really juicy lemon
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 bunch of basil 
  • A handful of sun dried tomatoes (mine weren't in oil, but if so just drain)
  1. Place the feta cheese, goat cheese, and garlic in a bowl. 
  2. Sprinkle with pepper and add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. 
  3. Mix together with a spoon (sort of smashing the cheese together into a paste). 
  4. On a cutting board mince the basil into finely chopped bits. 
  5. Layer basil on top of the cheese in the bottom of the bowl. 
  6. Chop the sun dried tomatoes on a cutting board into smaller pieces. 
  7. Sprinkle these on top of the basil and cheese. 
  8. Drizzle with olive oil and dash with pepper. 
  9. Use pita chips or triscuits to scoop up the tasty topping. 
  10. Enjoy!
Now for the other recipe from my Mama Bird... Check her sun-dried tomato hummus recipe here. This is absolutely irresistible and loved by all (especially J!). 

And the next challenge's ingredient... 
(drum roll please) 

Their season is thriving and they are so wonderfully tasty... So cook away with these tasty fruits!