Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleeping At Last

I have been getting more interested in music (again) lately. I went to see Breaking Dawn and fell in love with a lot of the music. I was like that with the O.C. you peeps out there who knew me in high school will remember. I could hear a song and tell you what episode it was from. I know, sick. For someone who is rather untalented at making music, I sure do love it, intensely.  I "shazamed" one of the songs during the movie, to find out it was "Turning Page" by Sleeping at Last. I read the lyrics to that song, and it is a beautiful imagery of marriage. "...nothing prepared me for what the privilege of being yours would do" & "I surrender who I've been for who you are, for nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart". Each day I have a choice: to love my husband or myself more. If I deny my wants for his we both benefit. Have you ever been in an argument and not said something for the benefit of the other person...that's what I think about in that "fragile heart" line.

I know that you can tell the song was written for Twilight, which it was. But that is one thing I love about the imagery of Edwards sacrificial love for Bella. It's ridiculous, like Christ's love and sacrifice for us. Ridiculous that Jesus loved us that much. Nothing else will ever be that strong, but we love to watch movies, read books, and hear songs that allow us a glimpse at that. The world loves it, they just don't know why they do. Andrew asked me why I thought people loved Twilight...I think that's it...they want a love that's ridiculous and survives...well look no further Jesus did it. I have looked at a few other songs and they have some really neat lyrics..Night Must End. The lead singer/writer supports a foundation, "To Write Love on Her Arms" that helps fight depression. It seems that Night Must End is about that, but I have no proof. Disclaimer: I know nothing about that organization!

Pretty album artwork.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin- Pecan Cheesecake

It turned out fabulous. I left the pecans off the top...
just didn't feel like it. The recipe is linked above.

30 Days

30 Days to a Greater Happiness. I don't believe this to be dead on, but worthy of sharing. It caused me to reflect on how I spend my time, and to try and be a little more purposeful with some of my moments. Some of these things aren't dead on...I usually do not care for self-help stuff, but I will share some of what this provoked in my thoughts (in purple).
30 Days to Greater Happiness

1)Start a hobby. People who engage in captivating activities are more satisfied with life. Lose yourself (and your worries) by sewing, writing, cooking, or dancing.

I've been making Christmas ornaments lately with a simple recipe. I will share this recipe and some pics soon!

2) Get plenty of sleep. Keep a consistent sleep schedule and get 7-8 hours each night for more energy and less moodiness.

I worked nights for about 15 months...I never slept more than 6 hours and during that time I slept less and less. Before I finished, I slept only 4.5 hours before working 12 hours. During that time, I often wept, for no real reason, felt angered and saddened very easily. I started working days, got some real sleep, and within a week felt like my stable self again. I know the power of sleep.

3)Develop your spirituality. Research shows that people who are spiritual tend to be both happier and healthier than those who are not.Consider meditation, spiritual readings, prayer or other religious practices.

Does anything help you cope as much as unloading your burdens on your Heavenly Father? Me either. Scripture is dynamic...sometimes it's a cutting sword...empowering you to deny yourself, sometimes it is a soothing balm to a festering sore.

4) Cultivate friendships. The happiest people spend the least time alone. Attend social gatherings, host a party, and call your close friends to catch up as often as possible.

I do not 100% agree. I love some good alone time. I also, love people, but I am probably one of those people who can be content with either.

5) Take action. If you don't like your job or other life circumstances, make a plan and take charge. You create of your own reality, and you can change your life if you're unhappy. Start today!
You do not create your own reality...I'm sorry. The rest of that seems good.

6) Find meaningful work. The nature of your job isn't as important as how you approach it. A positive attitude and a focus on the meaning behind your work make it more rewarding.

7) Smile! Grinning, even if you don't feel happy, releases serotonin in the brain, instantly lifts your mood and makes you feel better. Plus, smiling people are viewed as sincere, attractive, and sociable.

This quote seems to apply in a philosophical way to both 6 and 7:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”  - C.S. Lewis

8) Make time for yourself. Pursuing personal growth is just as important as spending time with others. Pencil in some "me" time, even if it's just a few minutes each day.

I would emphasize the "just a few minutes each day" of focusing on yourself. I like alone time, but typically not just focusing on myself.

9) Savor every bite. Eat in a calm environment and use all of your senses to explore the texture, smell, appearance and flavor of your food. You'll be more satisfied after every meal.

This seems like such a simple way to enjoy life more. I mean I love instead of eating more I should savor more.

10) Simplify your life. Unburden yourself of possessions that lock you in the "rat race" of earning more money to pay for more things you don't really need. Spend time and resources on things that add real meaning to your life.

This was ingrained in me at an early age. We always went through our clothes several times a year and weeded out the unworn or outgrown. This doesn't mean you aren't allowed to have sentimental items...just that they shouldn't be taking over your life or house.  My mom once said, "you can either have enough room for you or your stuff."

11) Start a journal. Use it to record positive experiences and things you are thankful for. Read your own words during times when you feel down to remember how fortunate you truly are.

Also nice to write down your prayer requests and how God has answered them.

12)Eat chocolate! Dark chocolate is healthy in moderation, but it can also increase well-being and boost your mood. Savor a small piece to satisfy that craving.


13) Be optimistic. A positive outlook is associated with better health, a longer life, and greater joy. When you look to the bright side and believe people are good, you directly increase your own happiness.

Don't be fake. But again the C.S. Lewis quote applies.

14) Exercise regularly. Physical activity produces "feel good chemicals" (endorphins) in the brain, which promote satisfaction and well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, most days of the week.

I've been working on this...I got a bike for my anniversary and I've been riding the block and taking my walk/jogs in the woods with Gage. I would love just a few more minutes of daylight...not complaining though.

15) Don't compare yourself to others. Happy people judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have. Keep up with yourself-not the Joneses.

Yeah...if you won't a sober view of yourself look at the Cross. But remember that work has been applied to your life. That is what allows you to breath, knowing you have been saved from your self.

16) Play with your pet. Simply petting an animal can decrease anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. So give your pet a little extra attention and you'll increase your own calmness and pleasure.

Sweet Baby Gage we love you!
17) Forgive and forget. Refusing to forgive fosters anger and resentment, which makes your own life miserable. Let go and put your energy into something positive so that you can be happier. Beat stress.

Forgive as you have been forgiven. Bitterness drowns people...they lose their life to bitterness. Have you met bitter people...they are hard to be feel like you are constantly throwing life preservers and watching them swim away from them.

18) Help others. Sharing your time or talents with the less fortunate can help you appreciate how much you truly have and feel better about your circumstances.

This is a great time of year to also give, if you can, to those who may not be expecting a joyful Christmas season.

19) Beat stress. Life's difficulties can take a toll on your mood. But stress busters like exercising, talking to a
friend, and journaling can help clear your head and calm you down.

20) Get some sun. Sunlight improves your mood and can help prevent the onset of seasonal depression. Don't forget the SPF!

21)Maintain your health. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to be happy. Eating right, exercising, getting preventive care, and reducing your stress level can all enhance health and happiness.

22) Spend time outside. Getting closer to nature can help you feel more connected to the world at large. Spend time outside today walking, biking, picnicking, or raking, or planting a tree.

Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." This verse (and surrounding) is showing God's coming wrath and our lack of excuse, but it also states that "God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen, by what he has made"...When we were out West I remember just constantly thinking of how AWESOME God was and really being in AWE. Since I have been home, I've appreciated the beauty in nature here more too.  My Mom's Dad always said he felt closest to God in the woods.  I think I feel closest to God in breathtaking views of nature as well.  There is an overwhelming awareness of God's abilities to create-maintain-sustain, his power, his presence. I'm a country girl...I like the God made so much more than the man made.

23) Just say no. If you're already overworked and over scheduled, don't take on more tasks in order to please others. You have to remember to please yourself too.

24) Create a mantra. Does a particular word, phrase or quote make you feel better? Make it your mantra. Write it, think it, and repeat it any time you need a little perspective or a pick me-up.

In college, my entire nursing class seemed to have mild (or sometimes not so mild) panic/anxiety attacks before tests. Like every test...I remember sophomore year realizing it was a problem for me.  I knew I needed to do something. I found a picture of my niece, she was almost 3 then, she had jelly smeared on her face and a huge grin.  I also put two verses with the picture in the front of my binder:
Philippians 4:6-7 "6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Matthew 6:33 " But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Cassie was one of the few things that when I looked at her face, it would completely distract me, then I would focus on laying my anxieties on Christ and believing that his kingdom came first. I studied...I didn't just pray for A's, but I trusted and committed my studies to him. This helped so much for my anxiety. It still helps and has become my mantra to say these verses to myself.

25)Connect with your family. Make time for your loved ones, partner and children each day. Reminisce, celebrate, and just have fun together! Enrich your life with family memories for greater purpose and satisfaction.

Andrew and I have really enjoyed our families over the holidays. We've also started cutting back on TV (a little) he's pulled out his guitar some and we've been painting ornaments.

26) Do your best. Your accomplishments are important and deserve recognition, so be proud of a job well done. Mastering skills and meeting goals can increase your own self esteem and self-worth.

We should do everything to the best of our abilities, because God is our audience, not for recognition.  If you have noticed you may have lots of people who don't do their best in your office, working hard with a content attitude I believe shows who you are working for. "Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." C.S. Lewis (I can't wait until heaven, I hope I run into him)

27) Grow a garden.Watching plants grow and thrive under you care is a great experience! Dig in with cheer, knowing you're beating stress, becoming more active, and surrounding your home with beauty.

I love it! It's so fun to watch plants grow...really! I'm also a little "granola, organic, tree-hugging, close-to-the-earth" b/c after all God made it, shouldn't we do our best to take care of it.

28) Make a donation. Clear the clutter in your home and give all those "extras" you don't use to someone who needs them. By downsizing, organizing and giving, you'll help yourself and others at the same time.

It feels good to get rid of stuff, and know that someone else that may need it can use it.

29) Laugh out loud. Visit a comedy club or watch a funny show. Laughing makes you feel good, so make time for fun and humor every day.

Slacker Radio...great app for this...Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, and Brian Regan are some of my favorites and for the most part pretty clean.

30) Ask for help--if you need it. If you feel unhappy most of the time, talk to a therapist, career counselor, or spiritual advisor to help you find what makes you happy.

We all need some help at some point.

Anyway, I just thought this stuff was kinda good. These are the posts my husband doesn't love...too many words, not enough pictures.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Excited about Thanksgiving!

I have been staring at the cover of Southern Living for weeks now...drooling over the Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake. We are having Thanksgiving with my sister and my side of the family. We are actually going to have the entire day over there...activities like baking together, walking in the woods, and enjoying time together, maybe even watching Elf. I hope you have wonderful plans for your day. Remember to remember all that you have to be thankful for. I know I have so many blessings that I forget to count. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Did you know?

Ok...this may be dumb to you, but did you know that you have to make adjustments when baking if you live at different altitudes? I had no idea!!! I was just at this site (food blog) and read this:

 "Hello, I currently attend a school in Colorado with an altitude up to 7,000. Could you offer any suggestions for baking at high altitudes? Maybe some standard measurements of conversion or tips? I would love to use some of your recipes. Thank you!"

hmmmph....who knew?

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Possible this might be the BEST WEEKEND EVER!

So...tonight Andrew and I are starting the evening with something yummy from downtown Columbia; we haven't picked the restuarant yet. Next we will be rocking, rolling, and just in general having a blast at the Taylor Swift Concert; Need to Breath will be there too, awesome!!! Tomorrow I'm going to see Breaking Dawn Part 1 with Miriam...yay!!! My excitement level is slightly dangerous right now.  Last night we went to Vista Lights and ate yummy food... and this morning I had "the stranger in the car ahead of me" buy my Starbucks.

Have you heard of that? WMHK 89.7, the Christian Radion station, must have this idea that they've put out. I'll attach the letter I think it explains it all.  Anyway, it was super amazing and made my day, which was hard considering it was already made. I was reminded that all we need to do is pay attention to others needs. It's not really that hard to serve God and our neighbors; we just need to wake up and look around.  Did you ever learn this prayer: Bless O Lord this food to our use, and us to thy service. Make us EVER MINDFUL of the NEEDS of OTHERS, in Jesus name, Amen. I have prayed that prayer who knows how many times in my life, but the older I get, the more I love that phrase...make us ever mindful...a constant awareness of others interests, cares, needs...pretty powerful for me. I feel that I'm ever mindful of my wants instead.  I loved this act of generosity; it made me greatful for a wonderful free cup of coffee, but more importantly it stirred me up. I need a lot more stirring. Have an amazing weekend...enjoy everything...especially this gorgeous crisp weather.

By the way...I did call in and report their generosity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's kinda a funny/creepy story

I know I'm not ancient looking and love Twilight and Taylor Swift and hanging out with teenagers, but that doesn't mean I'm a teenager. It just means that there's still a teenager inside of me. Anyway, Andrew, my mom, and I attended the Carolina Christmas Classic or whatever you call it, at the State Fair Grounds. We had seen lots of stuff that reminded us of our nephews, but not much for our niece. She loves really loves them. We saw these blankets and one of them had a bunch (like maybe 12-16) of horses' silhouettes on it.  I thought it would be really cute, but wasn't sure how much it would cost.  I asked the lady and she said that was a demo blanket of all the horses she could do, and you pick one to accent. I said well I like them all together. She said, "they are 80 dollars a horse, but I would love to make you one. Just ask your Mommy and Daddy." what? Andrew and my Mom were standing a few feet away from me.  In what world could Andrew be my dad? So weird!

This weekend Andrew and I went on the Senior High Fall Retreat at Myrtle Beach.  I was with some kids on the beach hanging out playing music and it got too cold so we headed in.  They still wanted to play, so I went to ask a hotel worker if it was ok to use a common space, or was that not ok at all. He said, "not ok at all. Besides you are all supposed to be in your rooms at midnight." I guess he meant minors weren't allowed on the property at night alone??

In both situations I was too dumbfounded to say...hey I'm 25 years old.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3 years of Pumpkins!

A couple of years ago, our good friends Miriam and Glen introduced me (not Andrew, he alread had some practice) to pumpkin carving. We've kind of made it a tradition to carve pumkins together.  Here are the last three years of our pumpkins. I've loved each of my pumpkins equally!

The First Year!

I took out the skull and crossbones to make it more of a sailboat...
Andrew's pumpkin was going more for the comedy portion!

Stop checking out my hubby's butt!
Year 2...

The one on the left is Andrew's.
This years pumpkins...I went with the Southern Living Oct 2010 design.
It's etched into the pumpkin instead of carved through.  Andrew went with traditional.
Every year I am the last one to finish my pumpkin...I turn into a bit of a perfectionist. Weird that pumpkin carving is what brings that out.

Rereading the Saga! I haven't been posting much, because all of my spare time has been involved with the Twilight Saga. I know it's embarrassing to say, but I love those books. I get sucked in everytime. A week and a half ago, I caught Twilight on FX and decided to reread the saga.  I forgot how sucked in to the story I get. Also, I realized that almost every song on the new Taylor Swift album could be inspired by those books. Anybody else think that? Probably wouldn't know since most of you aren't teenagers.  Apparently deep down, I still am.  Anyway...I will post some normal human things soon...maybe. I am pretty stoked that Andrew and I are going to the Taylor Swift concert on November 18th...also that's the day the next movie, Breaking Dawn (part 1), comes out.  Busy weekend...poor husband.  I also realized that for sure Eclipse is my least favorite in the saga.  Sorry Jessica! I would say from a Christian analytical perspective, the most dangerous part of the books is the dietizing of romantic love. What are your thoughts on this modern phenomena? I know that I enjoy reading the story, but I'm cautious of younger girls getting into them.