Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8~

FOLLOW


Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Testimony

~ "Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things..."  2 Timothy 4:2-5


I think I do my best thinking when I am outdoors watering my garden. The cool brisk Autumn air makes me feel euphoric and happy. My thoughts almost always flow to how wonderful it is to have faith in a being far greater than those things which I see in the natural realm of existence. I look to the sky and see the beautiful stars begin to glimmer, and I can't help but wonder how small and insignificant we must look from the lofty heights above and beyond. I am in awe of the great creative genius of my God, my Creator.

So many traverse through this planet without that faith, or worse yet, with faith in things which are not eternal and will cease to be. I mean, I do understand how we so easily can look at the ugliness which also exists alongside the beauty and think that it is all for naught, all random and chaotic. That when we die, that is the end, and no more. I think I would have been agnostic at best, had it not been for what I experienced on that late evening in May of 1980. What I am about to share is not at all about 'religion'. In fact, I am probably the least religious person. For some reason because I am a woman of faith, and cannot help but share the joy of the Gospel, people tend to judge me as being religious or puritanical. I am neither. I am however, a believer in Jesus Christ and his power to change people's lives.

As I lay in bed in my Grandmother's house, with my little two year old baby asleep by my side, I listened intently to a simple cassette tape my Sister and Brother in law had been asking me to play for quite some time. I had refused to for so long because I just did not want anything to do with religion. I felt that being Catholic in and of itself was enough. I had no real desire to listen to any 'alleluya'  preacher. But that evening I relented and decided to just hear the tape.

It was the testimony of a man who had once been a Catholic priest, a man who had a great desire to serve God, and felt it his duty to join the priesthood. While in the priesthood, he saw ugliness and immorality in many of the church leaders he was bound by oath to respect and obey. The homosexuality and pedophile behavior he saw made him doubt the existence of God, and so he left the Church and the priesthood. He was a miserable being, until God touched his life and he found a purpose that he had been called for.

In the tape, He spoke of the parable of the lost sheep, and how he surely had been one. As he spoke, his words resonated within me. I too was lost, not knowing my way. I had experienced great pain and deception in my young life. I was a single unwed Mother, and I knew that I had not done a very good job of managing my life up to that point. And so, this proud young woman who thought she knew everything, humbled her heart. I asked Jesus into my heart, to take complete rein of my life, and to reign in my heart from that moment forward. As I uttered the Sinner's prayer and asked God for forgiveness, I began to feel an indescribable feeling of utter joy such as I had never before felt. I literally felt as though a gushing river of joy was about to flow out of my heart and being! Then a strange thing began to happen. As I attempted to thank God for his mercy, I realized that there just no words to adequately express what I felt. All I could utter was 'Thank you Jesus' over and over again. I remember physically feeling as though a very great weight was lifted off my back. I felt light as a feather. Then, slowly, without understanding or knowing what was happening, I began to utter 'words' which consisted of syllables which I could not comprehend. But they did flow from my most inner being. My sense of rational thinking began to try to stop the flow, began to almost make me feel fearful and even somewhat embarrassed. What are you doing I asked myself. And as such the words stopped. But the feeling of joy and redemption stayed with me. When my Sister and her Husband arrived a few hours later, they immediately asked what had happened, and said that my face looked radiant. They saw the change in me, without my having spoken even one word!


As I related to them what had happened, they proceeded to explain what had happened from a Biblical perspective. I had experienced what is called being 'born again'- an experience which literally is mentioned in the Bible, but when you read it, you think of it in 'natural' terminology, as in coming forth out of a woman's womb again. But it is not that at all. It is the shedding of the old, and coming forth as a new creation, a new being. And that happens when you accept Jesus Christ into your heart. And it is the beginning of a beautiful journey and a close walk with him! He promises in Isaiah 1:19: ~Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.~ What a glorious promise to wipe the slate clean!

This doesn't mean that you will be perfect and free from the temptations and perils of this life. But you will always have him to cry out to and ask for help in becoming what he called you to be.

As to the experience I had and the words I uttered: it was one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are mentioned in I Corinthians 12:4, 7-11 ~There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.... (7) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.~

In essence, it is a prayer language. Sometimes there are no words to describe what I feel in my heart, the longings of my Spirit, so I pray in tongues. I know God hears me and understands and knows. 

I share this because it is good news. In this ever growing hostile world, it is comforting to know that God's word is faithful and constant and true. I only wish I had not wasted so many years without him in my life.

And finally, I was given one final instruction by my Sister: read the Bible! It is a life manual. Through the word you will begin to see and understand and know who Jesus was and is and will be through the ages.
 
~In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5

 

John 15:11 ~These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.~ 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brief Update

And I'm back,  for a brief post. This cooler weather is so wonderful, it even makes me want to write again. I think I would be quite happy in what most would call dreary rainy weather, such as in areas of the Pacific Northwest. I feel more creative in that climate, I think. The heat here just drains me and depresses me. Too much of a good thing I guess. What depresses me most is the way the heat just eats up my garden. First, I lost so many plants to last Winter's freeze, then I about lost all the remaining specimens in this Summer's brutal heat wave. Thinking Hawaii would be a beautiful place to live. But God has me here for a reason. So I will endure.

My weight loss journey continues. Slow, almost stalled, but that's ok. I feel healthy and I feel so much better. And I think the thing that totally tickles my fancy- I can cross my legs! Oh what a glorious feeling to be able to do so. I realize that may not seem like a big deal when you've never had a problem being able to cross your legs, and when weight is not an issue, but believe me, this is right up there with winning the lotto for me. Of course, I've never won a lottery before, but I can imagine it's an awesome feeling if you do.

I can bend down and pull weeds, I can walk distances, I don't mind if we have to park far away from the stores or the mall when we're out and about. In fact, I actually very much welcome that, for it gives me the chance to walk more. It's not a big deal to walk to the park with my Grandchildren, and the list goes on.


Maybe I've written about this before, but I think it's ok to remind myself again of the things most people take for granted. And yes, I'm a happy camper.

Until next time, have a little faith.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lift Up Your Hands!

Oh, how my heart rejoices! I lift up my arms to my Redeemer! If you have been saved by his redeeming grace, then you know what of I speak. There are those who daily toil and muster their strength and all their efforts to glorify the things of this world, of this Earth. And then there are those who dedicate all their talent to glorify the one who paid the highest ransom for man.

And this one: What beautiful talent for the Glory of God!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Celebrating One Year Since Surgery

Tuesday was the one year year anniversary of my bariatric surgery. I was feeling a little adventurous, and wanted to 'commemorate' the date by doing a mini makeover. So off I went to the beauty salon for a change of hair color. I'm still not used to the drastic change, so I'm thinking I should have done this gradually. What was I thinking? Anyway, it's done, no turning back. I mean I can change it, but I am not crazy about the idea of exposing my skin to all those chemicals again so soon after the double color process I underwent. I was told I should wait before changing it again. So here's the new hair look- oh, but wait, I should probably mention that I also have been celebrating the weight loss. I mean, isn't that what this whole journey has been about? So far I've lost 119 lbs! I am still not at my target weight, in fact, I have about 30 more pounds to go, and it's going slow. But slow is good. I'm in no hurry. I just know that it has been worth it- every moment of angst and discomfort was worth this newly found feeling that I'm going to be alright.  The Lord has been good to me and has seen me through the long days of before and after.


And just to illustrate the changes I've gone through, here are just a couple of before









and after pics:



The before photos were taken on August 12, 2010, just 4 days before the surgery. The after photos were taken I believe back in May or June of this year. I've since lost just a little bit more weight. I had hoped to have reached my target goal, which is why I hadn't shared any photos before here on this chronicle. But it's all good. And now for the hair color photos:





Quite a drastic change I daresay. It's taking me some time to get used to that haircolor. I will likely be changing it up again. I'm thinking maybe red haircolor? Oh, I'm having fun with this aren't I?

All right, I know I sound trivial and light hearted, yet perhaps in the next post I can share more 'serious' things about this journey. I didn't embark on it for my looks. I didn't set out with the thought that I wanted to do a makeover or change my image. NOT AT ALL. A million thoughts have gone through my mind in the past year, and I'm hoping to be able to share what it has all meant to me. Life can be tough. But we have to look around us for strength and inspiration to get through those hard spots. The best advise I can give myself or anyone: just trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Venetian Recipes For My New Pots

I finally cooked something today on my nifty new pots. I made a wonderful meal of braised pork ribs, cut into individual pieces, flavored with fresh rosemary, sage and garlic. A side of creamy risotto with mushrooms and shrimp and a side of simple sauteed spinach with garlic in extra virgin olive oil. I used recipes featured on PBS' "Adventures With Ruth" series from Gourmet magazine fame. Fortunately, the videos are online, and I was able to find them by searching for the Gourmet magazine website. The video includes a couple of additional recipes, even one for duck, but I only used the one for the pork ribs and the risotto. Fast forward on the video to about 11:50 for the section on the pork ribs. The segment on the risotto starts at around 17:37. Right before that is a segment on making a really flavorful shrimp stock which can be used for the risotto, but I just used chicken stock and wine for the liquid, as well as cream at the end, like the video shows. It's very simple, and the risotto turns out very creamy and delicious. The pork ribs were divine! Meat falling off the bone is a good thing!

Turns out my two new pots were just the right size for these dishes. How great is that? I am thrilled with my pots! I just tried unsuccessfully to embed the video but somehow it just wouldn't load. I'm afraid I can only include the link to Enrica Rocca's Venice. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Joy Of Pots

Things which make Grandma absolutely giddy with joy: kitchen pots and gadgets. During a recent trip to the Hill Country, I made a little stop at the San Marcos outlets. I normally just visit the Williams Sonoma store, but I had something else in mind. I watch the Mad Hungry show with Lucinda Scala Quinn and also Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cooking shows. I am always so inspired by their use of the Le Creuset braising pots. Just the sight of those short clunky pots makes me want to put on an apron and slave over a hot stove. Monkey see, monkey do, I always say. And indeed, I got my little pots in my little kitchen just like I'd been wanting for a while.

Now, one thing you must know about me, I don't like to pay full price. I wait for sales and I do like markdowns. I also don't mind buying what are called 'second runs' in the Le Creuset world. It just means they're not first quality, and may have some slight imperfections, but the lifetime warranty remains in place.


The larger of the two braising pots has some slight discoloration on the lid, and being on the outside, I know it won't affect food or the cooking process.

 

The smaller braiser has a couple of very small, almost imperceptible scratches, and are also on the outer surface. I was also doubly blessed in that those two pots were in EXACTLY the color I had hoped I would find, the off white tone called 'Dune', but which I think of as Linen colored. Those are the colors that Lucinda and Ina often use in the shows, and well, I fell in love with the look. An added bonus was the little red casserole dish, which was added to the purchase as a gift from the store. I happen to already have a similar red pot from the Lodge cast iron collection, which I got at Walmart at a very good price. My other Le Creuset pots are in cobalt blue, but that's fine that they're not all in matching colors. I actually really liked the new "Kiwi" color which is a green apple color. Gorgeous, and would look so cheerful in any kitchen, but none were available in discounted prices.

One other thing which also made me very happy was a popover baking pan, as I had recipes for popovers, but no specialty pan. I do have muffin pans, but since popovers rise high like a souffle, I wanted to be able to have the full effect.


And last but not least, was an ebelskiver pan for making those delectable puffy filled pancakes. I have had my eye on this little gadget on numerous trips to the outlets and the Williams Sonoma store, but always talked myself out of buying it, not quite being able to justify the expense. I kept convincing myself that it would just be another gadget in my inventory of kitchen 'stuff', and that I probably wouldn't really be making a lot of stuffed pancakes, however cute and small they were. But I always thought in the back of my mind, that making them for my Grandsons and making them happy to enjoy something delicious would be enough of a reason to have it in my stash.



And of course the corresponding batter mix for said little apparatus. I know there is a recipe for making them from scratch, but I'd like to first see how they taste so I can compare to made from scratch.


And so these are the things which delight and make me happy. No designer clothing or jewelry for me. Just the little things which help me be a better cook. For me, cooking and baking are just a small way to show my love for my family. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Bit of Paper Crafting

About the only thing that frustrates me is our climate. Months and months of heat is unbearable! It's almost 7pm and it's 104F. I literally become a hermit during the Summer, as staying indoors affords me some respite from the heat.

Other than housework, baking and cooking, the other thing that helps keep me amused and entertained during my self imposed confinement is doing a bit of paper crafting. A few snips here and there, a little glue and glitter, and you end up with some nifty creations.






No need to rush out and buy cards when you need to send a greeting card. I still think handmade is so much better.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mexican Conchas

I've had lots to talk about, lots to share, but I will admit I just did not take the time to sit down long enough to write . In answer to those readers who inquired about my well being, through kind and thoughtful emails and comments here on the blog, I can honestly say I've been fine and in good health. I'm afraid my last post had people thinking I was going through difficult times. Nothing could be further from the truth. My intention in that post was merely to reiterate what I know to be a common human condition- that of just getting from one day to the next in these uncertain times.

In other news, I have been happily baking the days away. Although I am not able to partake of too much in the way of my baked goods, the joy of baking is alive and well in my little heart. In fact, just a couple of hours ago I took two piping hot trays out of the oven loaded with Mexican conchas. I have been wanting to try my hand at making this very popular Mexican pastry for almost two years, but somehow kept getting off track in doing so. Some time back I purchased a lovely baking book "My Sweet Mexico" by Fany Gerson, and I had to try one of the recipes. Shame on me for it having taken so long! Based on the results of my conchas, I am now anxious to tackle more of her recipes. Baking is so pleasurable, it just really stimulates the senses. I love the aromas wafting from the oven and filling the whole house- the most wonderful  aroma of freshly baked yeasty bread. Oh, to be able to bottle that fragrance!

I made all of them with a chocolate topping, although they can also be made with a white, pink, or yellow topping. My family prefers chocolate, so I made them all that way.


 




The dough itself is made very much like a brioche, rich with eggs and butter. The crumb topping recipe calls for butter, confectioners sugar, and flour. Which was somewhat of a relief to me, because most Mexican bakeries use shortening instead of butter. Truth be told, most all bakeries use shortening in their frostings and such. I can see how it is much healthier to make your own pastries because you know exactly what ingredients you used. It goes without saying that because you're baking for your own family, you would use the best ingredients. I was only able to take a couple of bites of one of the conchas, and believe me, they are pretty darn big! They puffed up so nicely, even the topping expanded so prettily.

A couple of weeks ago I made a Rustic Sourdough Bread using a King Arthur Flour recipe, and I really liked the results. I have to add that every recipe I have ever used from the King Arthur Flour website has always yielded spectacular results. It is one of my best go to sites for baking inspiration.






I will try and make a post soon about a wonderful Mexican cooking book I acquired recently. I highly recommend it. So until next time, Have a little faith!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

For Today

I awaken each day, and put one foot in front of the other, like everyone else. I wish I could write about endless accomplishments and feats. But sometimes you just have to deal with the here and now, and that is enough. I have much to share, much to say, and yet in the greater scope of things, it all seems as nothing.

We are all fighting a battle, all struggling to stay afloat and to finish the race. Reading can be an instrument which gives one that surge of strength to carry on- that gasp of air to be able to lift up one's sword and fight the demons which assuredly attack each of us daily.  Stay calm and carry on.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Note To Self

You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
~Ray Bradbury~

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Things I Learned Because I'm Old(er)

I finally learned something of epic proportion. That Mom was right about so many things, but not about all. She attempted to shelter me, just as I do my own Sons, but there are things which must be faced and learned stoically.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pretzel Time!

~Note: The step by step on doing the baking soda boil can be read at this blog link.~

We have enjoyed some fabulous cool weather the last couple of days. Really wonderful when heat is the norm. And the coolness brings out the baker in me. I found a really simple recipe for pretzels in the King Arthur website which enables me to make use of my sourdough starter. Baking with sourdough is a very good thing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Lesser Of Two Evils


The joy and beauty of Spring is all around me. And with my newfound energy I have been spending my days outdoors enjoying my garden and what's left of the plants after the Winter freeze. And, dare I say, I've actually been doing a bit of gardening after almost four years of neglecting to do so (since my shoulder injury and surgery).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Aftermath and Winning Photo

The sun has been shining brightly all day, in an almost deceptive ploy to get me outdoors. For the first time since the freeze shrouded cold front arrived, I have pretty much stayed in, and finally ventured out to water my plants. My fingers felt numb after a mere half hour. And the garden? Well, the situation isn't pretty. Except for those trees which are dormant or are evergreen, almost all the plants suffered.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Heart Collage

With this being February and Valentine season upon us, and their wearing such a cheerful shade of red in their jackets, I couldn't resist making a simple heart collage of my GrandSons.....so easy with a free collage maker.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Gift For My Sweetie


My order from Amazon finally arrived today. It is a gift for my Sweetie, which I got at no cost to me from Amazon, using gift cards I  redeemed from Swagbucks. I've gotten so many free things using Amazon gift cards. I got an external hard drive for my Son, and a ton of scrapbook supplies for myself. It's true what they say about Amazon. You can find almost everything at Amazon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Pride and Prejudice Book Review (Brief)

photo from the 1995 film version of "Pride and Prejudice"

Although written during the Regency period in England, such a long time ago, this novel speaks volumes about so many timeless elements in human nature. Written in a very clever and witty style by Jane Austen.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Sight

We spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday bringing the houseplants into shelter ahead of the expected freeze. Temperatures are expected to dip into the twenties for our area on Thursday. Today felt quite chilly, with temps in the thirties! Most of our garden is comprised of tropical plants, so we had to take steps to protect them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Healthy, Filling, And Easy- And Cheap!

A few days ago I found a simple delicious recipe over at Food Party Blog. It looked so simple I knew it was something I could whip up fast. I made my spring rolls with frozen shrimp. To give them a little flavor, first I sauteed some crushed garlic and ginger in a little bit of sesame oil.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Journey

I remembered. When I awoke I remembered that today is her birthday. And I had a decision to make. Do I acknowledge it, or do I stick to my decision concerning her to just- let- it- go.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Like Williams Sonoma Gadgets

Today's beautiful weather was perfect for firing up the grill. I was anxious to try out a gadget I bought at Williams Sonoma during their online Winter sale. It's a nifty hamburger press.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Looking For Mr. Inspiration

Hobby Lobby's 40% off coupon ended today, so I made a dash to the store and snagged one of the first edition copies left of Sew Serendipity by Kay Whitt. The book has gone to a second printing, so I was lucky to get this one. Can I just say it's a gorgeous book? It is!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Cold Day In The Neighborhood

I love the cool brisk weather that a front brought in. Perfect for opening windows to air out the house and for listening to the chirps of the red cardinals and little finches flitting about in the yard. This time of year is great because we get a little bit more variety for our bird watching. Which reminds me, I must make a trip to the store for more bird seed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Baking Sort of Day

I was in a baking mood today. Spurred by my desire to save a little money, or rather a lot of money I had been spending on my favorite crackers at the grocery store. I'm referring to those very thin little Australian crackers made with parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper, similar to water crackers. I just felt that paying more than $5 for a little box was a bit much. That coupled with my cheese of choice- brie- could add up to a pretty penny. I figured I could try and bake my own, or something similar at least.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Every so often, the Lord sends down amongst us people who can only be described as angels. People of courage, and of great integrity and character. People who leave a lasting and positive mark on their fellow man's lives. Today, I am reminded of one such individual- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January Lessons


I am enjoying a hibernation of sorts- to a certain degree self imposed. There is something so nice about hunkering down when it's frigid cold outside. As I sat enjoying a cup of coffee with my beloved earlier today, I had an epiphany and was reminded gently by the Spirit of that beautiful Scripture "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Lovely Bangle

I'm having a great start to my day. Our trusty USPS just delivered a little parcel from California. I was one of the winners of a bangle giveaway held by my friend Gloria. I've got several of these lovelies from Gloria's shop, so I knew I was going to be very pleased with the quality and workmanship of her product. As always, she included some nice little extras with her shipment, such as a very nice print of one of her paintings.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Of Hopes and Goals

First day of the New Year makes most people reflect on their plans for the future. Some call them resolutions, but I think that puts an awful lot of pressure on the psyche. To me a resolution somehow entails controlling those things which really are beyond our grasp- such as the unforeseen or unpredictable. And up until now, I made it a  point never to make any. Call it the fear of failure if you will. So instead, I prefer to call them 'doable goals'.

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