Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review & a Little Working Out...

The last few weeks I've been working out some. Mostly bike (which gives me a chance to read), and working in some elliptical as my ankle allows. It is exciting for me to get back into the gym!!! I can't wait to try Zumba again - hopefully soon!

I think most of my friends know that I am an avid reader. I haven't always been, but now... Well, let's just say I love me some books :-) I often get asked what I've read recently or what authors/books I would recommend. So, I figured I would let you all know what I've been reading and what I thought. Hope you don't mind.

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado
I have long been a Max Lucado fan (His book On The Anvil was amazing), and really enjoyed this book . I found it to be a quick, but very impactful read. It had a profound impact on how I think about others, what they are going through, and how I can help them even if I feel limited in what I can do. I was excited to see that Mr. Lucado is leading by example in giving his royalties from this book and its products to benefit others.

If you have ever wanted to get involved or change something in your community, but don’t know where to start or fear you can’t make a difference, this is a great book to read. This book offers practical things that can truly change your life and your outlook if you let them. By walking us through the book of Acts and thinking about how it applies to us today, Lucado really challenges readers to change how they view their potential impact in this world.

Each chapter has a verse at the end of the chapter along with a prayer for you to pray so that God can change your heart in regards to that area. The book also contains a discussion and action guide that is really helpful for putting the principles into practice.

This book really challenged me and I have already recommended it to many of my friends.

If I told you about all the different things I underlined, we might be here a while, but here are a few of my favorite verses or points from the book:
Chapter 3 – Let God Unshell You – “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Cor. 1:4 NLT)
Chapter 9 – Do Good Quietly – “To do a good thing is a good thing. To do good to be seen is not… When people enter a church to see God yet can’t see God because of the church, don’t think for a second that God doesn’t react.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the ( book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Club Fun

This summer our neighborhood Bible Study group took a break from our Monday night meetings. The summers are busy for people and committing to a Bible Study is often hard. The thing was, we still all wanted to get together and see each other and have a reason to talk :-) So, we started a book club. We decided to have a Christian fiction book club which turned out to be great!!! We have read 4 books so far:

1) Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. Francine's book Redeeming Love is one of my all time favorites, and we decided to read her newest novel (the sequel is due out any day now). The group gave this book a thumbs up. We had great discussion about the book and how it dealt with parent/child relationships, and other topics as well. I definitely recommend this book.

2) Rooms by James Rubart. This was probably the most different novel that we read over the summer. It is compared to The Shack and the Screwtape Letters on the cover. I did see some similarities to The Shack, but have never read the Screwtape Letters so I can't say if it is comparable to that... The book is about a man who "inherits" a house and all the rooms in the house seem to have something to do with his life. It is clear that he is running away from things in his past--including God--but that God has other plans. We liked this book a lot and also gave it a thumbs up.

3) Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury. Karen is one of my favorite writers. In the past year or so I've become relatively obsessed with her books on the Baxter family and have read ALL of them. I wanted the book club to experience Karen's writing, but since many of the women had read the Baxter series books we opted for a stand alone title. Shades of Blue deals with relationship issues as well as with abortion. The story was interesting and I thought it was well written. Overall we gave the book a thumbs up... we did get into some good--albeit lenghty discussions on some of the topics in the book, but it was well received. If you've never read a Karen Kingsbury novel - I HIGHLY recommend her.

4) Rekindled by Tamera Alexander. We happened upon this book by chance and were so glad we did for multiple reasons. A coworker of one of the girls in our club mentioned Tamera's name and I mentioned her to my mom who said they had read Rekindled in her club and they even talked to Tamera by phone at their meeting. We decided to read this book and also contacted Tamera to see if she could speak to our group as well. I was pleasantly surprised by this book (and by the 3 other novels of Tamera's that I have read since)! I think most women could relate to this story and Tamera has a way of really bringing her characters to life. You can tell that she invests herself into her characters. This particular novel about a woman whose husband is feared dead while she tries to save their ranch is a wonderful story. It deals with communication and pride issues in a marriage as well as with what can happen with our life scars when we trust our lives to Jesus. I truly enjoyed this book and recommend Tamera.

The highlight of our summer was our most recent meeting when we reviewed Rekindled and were able to actually have Tamera Alexander come speak to our club. What a treat for us. She is a genuine lovely woman and we LOVED getting to talk to her. She talked to us about how she got started writing, what brought she and her family to TN, how she picks character names, and much much more. She even took a picture with our group! The group was smaller the night Tamera came to visit, but we had a blast!

If you've never participated in a book club, I highly recommend it. I hope to feature a few more "reviews" of books that I read on this blog since it's one of my favorite topics and I rarely discuss it on here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Regaining Consciousness

It's been almost a year since I injured my ankle... as much as I tried to "maintain" or even lose weight, it didn't work. Honestly, it back-fired. I'm back up... in fact I've regained everything I lost. It's a bummer and I hate even thinking about it or talking about it because I feel like a failure.


I refuse to let it get to me because I'm so emotional that the minute I think about it and dwell on it I get upset and then I get emotional and then I want a Hershey's bar... self-fulfilling prophesy I guess.

So, I'm putting it out there that I am back on a plan. My plan consists of the following:

- Talking to God consistently - I know this will be vital because I just can't do this on my own. I have tried. It (clearly) doesn't work.
- (re) Joining Weight Watchers - I'm going to do this at work because I think it will be nice to have coworker support and I think it will help the schedule too.
- Exercising - a little bit every day so that I can regain my strength and stamina. My husband and I went on a short walk last night in the neighborhood and it was good. I have an appt with our gym here at work on Friday to talk about a "plan".

I know that every day won't be perfect, and I certainly know I'm not perfect, but it feels good to have some control back. I will continue posting my journey and hope that you'll follow along.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Post Surgery Update

Sorry for the slacking on the blog. I hope that my readers will forgive me...

I had ankle surgery on 3/16. They went in and repaired all the ligaments in the back of my ankle. It's been interesting. I'm completely non-weight bearing-- in a cast and on crutches for a total of 6 weeks. It's been quite a ride so far. I had trouble sleeping at the beginning despite pain pills and then I wound up with an middle ear infection which was just lovely! (That's sarcasm of course)

I've been blessed with food from my local Kappa sisters as well as ladies from my Bible study. It's been really helpful. I have appreciated it more than anyone knows!!!!!

My mother-in-law stayed with us for 2 weeks taking care of me which was another blessing I can't begin to describe the importance of!!!!

I went back to work last week which has proved to be a difficulty that I wasn't ready for, but I'll live eventually. It's just that my arms feel like they may fall off!!!!

I'm on my 4th cast now. I'll put them below. There's the one from the first few days after surgery, the blue one (second)... it was supposed to be in honor of my jayhawks who lost so that wasn't good... I got a red cast on my second go around, and then fell on my cast on my first day in the office which was really unfortunate and I had to get it checked out so I got yet another (red) cast.

I'll withhold from putting a picture of the wound on the blog - it's mainly a food blog after all.

I promise I'll get back to recipes as soon as I can stand on two feet!!!!

In the meantime I'm so super thankful for my husband who is now taking care of me... I can be rather demanding, but he puts up with me and loves me just the same! He's been really amazing!!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Ankle Saga Part 2... or is it part 3?

Well, I'm having surgery... it's about part for the course, right??!!! You will have to forgive my while the blog take a back burner...

Here's how the process will go:
- Surgery (outpatient) on 3/16 in the wee hours of the morning... and I mean wee hours... it's early folks, but that is ok
- Working from home till 3/30 - since I'll be in either a cast or splint and on pain meds that won't allow me to drive, I'll have to work from home.
- On crutches till April 27... oh how I hope I heal faster than that...

What they will be doing:
Basically repairing my ligaments and tendons so that they'll actually do their job correctly and hold my ankle bones in place because right now my ankle is too unstable! They are very hopeful that this will fix everything!

I sure hope so...

In the meantime, I likely won't be doing much cooking, and if I do it will be in the form of a large casserole that will be eaten on for days at a time... and I'm not sure how taking pictures while on crutches will work.

I'll try to update the blog occasionally if there is something meaningful to say... or if I just get an itch to update it while on pain pills to amuse you all, I might do that too...

Then the plan is to get off the crutches and into/out of physical therapy as quickly as they'll allow it... and then to get back to doing things I love like walking the neighborhood with hubby, dog, and friends... and Zumba!

Psalm 6:2 says "Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony." I pray that the Lord will be merciful to me and will heal my bones because they are in agony!!! I know that through Him my healing will be made perfect :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Ankle Saga Continued

Many of you may remember that a few months ago I injured my ankle after I fell off a sidewalk... Oops! I went through 2+ months of therapy, and was given the go ahead to start walking in normal shoes and start easing back into exercise... the ankle still felt tender so I was taking it easy, but still getting back into things. I was doing mostly the recumbent bike since I had been doing that during therapy so it seemed ok, and a few other exercises. I was wearing heals, but ones that were short and chunky so I wouldn't aggravate things too much.

Well, much to my dismay, the ankle felt worse than it had in months after a few weeks of regular shoes and moderate exercise... so I was told to go get a MRI.

I went for the MRI (during snowpocalypse 2010) and then went to the Dr for my results...

The damage to my ankle was worse than I had thought originally. I definitely had a bad sprain, and additionally I had some tearing in a tendon... UGH! Not only that, but I have an extra bone in my foot--I always knew I was unique-- and the tendon has attached itself to the extra bone rather than the normal bone which is why my ankle is so unstable. (I've sprained it 4 times)

So, the Dr. put me into an air cast to try and immobilize my ankle, and I'm back in physical therapy 3 times a week. If this doesn't work, I get to have surgery in order to remove the extra bone and also repair the damage...

It's been 3.5 wks since the Doc put me in the air cast... my ankle is still swollen (despite the cast AND a compression sock) and it is often still really painful. I wasn't supposed to go back to the Dr. for 6 weeks, but I'm going back early because if I have to have surgery - I need to get this show on the road!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, please pray for prompt healing... and please forgive me for not posting recipes or anything lately. I've been trying to stay off the ankle as much as possible and haven't been experimenting, just been cooking things like Tamale Pie and Garlicky Butternut Squash because they are comforting, easy, and I could do those in my sleep.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hodge Podge Soup

This is what our backyard looked like this morning... we got about 4 inches of snow yesterday. It's beautiful, but unfortunately we also got about 1/2 inch of ice last night which compacted it down and made it not so fun for snowman making and we don't have a sled (why would we? We live in TN!).

So, we are holed up in our house with movies, basketball games, and an entire season of LOST to watch before the season premiere this week. Since we aren't going outside much and we certainly aren't driving to the grocery store we decided to make soup to warm ourselves up. It was basically a "whatcha got stew" or "hodge podge soup".

Here's what we had:

Hodge Podge Beef Soup
1 lb beef stew meat
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) corn1 small can mushrooms
1/2 cup barley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp italian seasoning
Beef Broth - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups

Brown the beef over med-high heat with a little olive oil. Once brown on all sides, add the veggies and garlic. Cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook for 40-45 mins with lid slightly cracked on the pot. Scoop into bowls and serve.

It was really good if I do say so myself!!!! And later, we'll have some hot chocolate or apple cider... yum!

Finn (our beloved dog) didn't get to taste the soup, but he has gotten to experiment with the snow, and he definitely seems to like it!

Harley (our beloved cat) isn't allowed outside--not that she cares. She just wishes we would leave her alone and stop taking her picture while she's trying to sleep!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Frozen Tundra Calls For Soup

Nashville has been colder than I remember this winter. I don't know why, but it has seemed more like the frozen tundra than I remember it being. I like the cold, but growing up in Arizona I didn't often have a weather man telling me that the temperature was in the single digits... that's brutal!!!

It has been a tad warmer this week, but supposedly we are headed for Snowpocalyps 2010 this weekend. At least I hope so!!!!! (I want snow really bad!!!)

About the only thing that can warm the body when it's so cold out is soup, and lots of it! A few weeks ago I got a link to a free E-Book by Betty Crocker that was filled with soups, stews, and chili. And everything has calorie information so you can see whether or not it's a good fit for your daily needs :-)

I decided to make the Slow Cooker Beefy Vegetable-Barley Soup - though of course I made some changed. The original is on page 19 of the book if you are interested.

But, here's what I did....

Beef and Barley Stew - Slow Cooker Style
2 lbs beef stew meat (because the package came that big and I wasn't messin' with it)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup pearled barley, uncooked
2 cans beef broth
Water to cover
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram (I would use less than that next time)
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (I would use fresh next time - I wasn't that crunched for time)

If beef is not in bite sized pieces, you may want to chop it up. I left mine as is - because I was tired and don't mind chewing since I think it might burn more calories :-)

Place all ingredients except mixed vegetables into a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4-5 (I cooked on high because I was limited on time). Add mixed vegetables, increase setting to high (if not already on high) and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until veggies are tender and crisp.

I got about 8 servings out of this soup, and it was relatively cheap too!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cauliflower Yummy... who knew?!?

A few weeks ago I had a Kappa friend in town for a training at a local chapter and I decided to make a yummy dinner for her (and us)! I thought it turned out really well, and it contained cauliflower... A risky vegetable to make for someone whose tastes I wasn't keenly aware of. She told me the recipe was a keep though.

So, for dinner we had:

- Roast Chicken (Thanks Costco)

- Garlicky Butternut Squash (Thanks Henry and Brenda for the bushels of squash)

- Pan Roasted Cauliflower (I used dried chives, because I didn't have real! I think it would be even better with real!)

- Dump Cake (Thanks Pioneer Woman... man I say that a lot lately!)

It was an easy meal, and quite pretty if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Decade... for Everyone... and Me!

10 years can change a woman!

Today I am 30. It’s a big milestone, though I am not sure why. There are lots of people telling me that 30 is the new 20 or something like that, but most of my friends, myself included—if I’m honest, are a little freaked out by turning 30. That's a personal thing that I'm going to have to work through :-)

Since it’s a milestone year for me and a new decade as well, I thought I’d do a little recap of what has changed or what I’ve done in the last 10 years. I got the idea from another friend's blog and thought it was great!

  • Attended 2 Universities (Arizona State University, and Belmont University) there was a 3rd, and my personal favorite—the University of Kansas—if we go back to the 90s.

  • Visited another country – actually 2 I think… Ireland and then we also went to St. Maarten for our honeymoon

  • Met my hubby while visiting Ireland

  • Graduated from college

  • Got married

  • Went on my first cruise

  • Cooked live on the Today Show with my momma!

  • Watched my cousin play in a Major League Baseball game

  • Got a real job

  • Had 6 different positions within the same company

  • Lived in 5 different states (TN, NC, CA, FL, GA… and now TN again – full circle I guess)

  • Bought and sold our first house

  • Got my first cat

  • Got my first dog (that I had to pay for)

  • Went to Vegas for the first, and second time

  • Helped my hubby get through law school

  • Helped my hubby pay off some of the law school loan debt

  • Watched my brother get married

  • Got another niece and nephew (that brings the total to 5)

  • Had one of my nephews AND one of my nieces get married – oh my!

  • Went to my first NCAA Basketball tournament game

  • Went to my first SEC Championship game (football and basketball)

  • Was in a wedding, and sang in two other ones... well, 3 if you count my own

  • Joined Facebook (nope, this wasn't around 10 years ago!)

  • Started my blog

  • Worked my last summer at camp

I’m sure there’s plenty more that I’ve done in the last 10 years(some I wouldn’t want to mention on my blog!), and I’m sure there’s plenty more I’ll do in the next 10 years. I'll likely make a list of what I want to accomplish, but I'm not sure yet what all it will include!

Thanks to everyone who has made the last 10 years so special!!!! After seeing this list, it makes me realize that there are tons of great things that can happen in a 10 year time span! Here’s to a great next decade… Somehow, I think that my 30s will be just as great, if not better than my 20s!