Book Review: Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run

running-like-a-girlYou want to read an inspiring book? Look no further that this one here. Typically when I look for inspiration it is not in running books. I don’t run. I don’t like it at all. I am more of the yoga, elliptical type.

However, reading this book made me want to enjoy the great outdoors a little bit more. In fact, after reading this book this weekend, I’ve been walking every day.

Alexandra Heminsley is an inspiration. She very wittingly takes you on a journey through her life where she goes from thinking she cannot be a runner to completing 5 marathons.

I could not even contemplate that. Reading her book, makes you feel like you are actually jogging the trails with her. Which might actually be a downside because you really should get your body moving.

She vividly describes the scenery around her and discovers herself just why she loves running so much. This book is about passion. It is about drive. I guarantee that after reading this book, you will feel like you can climb Mount Fiji.

She teaches you that pain is mostly mental. And, you can really push your body to extreme limits (there are boundaries of course). I closed the cover of this book feeling a sense of fervor and a burning desire to set new goals.

In addition to stirring your emotions, the author really goes in depth about running equipment – shoes, sports bras, hair clips…etc. This book is for the novice, as well as, the experienced runner.

I would encourage you to pick up this book today or order it on Amazon. You will not regret it, and it is an excellent weekend pool read. Get the book online here and follow the author on Twitter here.

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Book Review: Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn

bookWhen you work in a pressing job, sometimes just reading a light hearted book is a good escape. Diving into this book was a true escape for me. I may not have been lounging in a beach setting for this read; but, I sure forgot I was sitting in a tiny airplane seat.

I think you will find this a quick and truly encouraging read. Being a Texas girl, loved the setting of this book – deep in the heart of Texas.

Author of The Big Mama Blog, Melanie Shankle, is hilarious. She had me chuckling out loud in her memoir of mommy-hood. You don’t have to be a mom to appreciate this little book gem.

The humor in everyday situations is refreshing. From her tale of trying to tan her pregnant body in a bikini by the pool from her cross country road trip with three kids, this book entranced me.

It took me to a place of remembering to find happiness in the everyday. Happiness can be attained in running through the sprinklers with your kids just as much, if not more, than a super awesome job accomplishment.

If you want to be reminded of the true meaning of life – pick up this book. We were placed here to bless and be a blessing. What better way is there to do that than purely loving the moment and place you are currently in! This book will have you wanting to lap up God’s goodness.

The Night Communion Balcony

The sun sets over the big clunky buildings in the distance. No longer having the U.S. Capitol view I had grown accustomed of, I look at the lush trees framing the interstate. I traded in a city view for more space, longer commute and a balcony. Not a bad trade and on days like today I am so thankful for the change.

Forty-five minutes of yoga and a dog walk under my belt, and I am finally serene. After calming down from a mind laden with work worries, I sip on some red wine (compliments of Trader Joe’s) and think about life – the living breathing life. I think on the heart pumping life that grabs you by the hand and seizes your very lungs and soul.

Here on this balcony, there is no one to answer to. I am lost in my thoughts, in this moment, in this communion with God. My mind goes to him – my friend, my invisible observer, and I am captivated. To onlookers, I look alone and content. But, I can feel his presence near me.

Never alone. That is the title to a Lady Antebellum song. Yet, it is the mantra of a Christian’s life. How hopeful and superbly wonderful! As I listen to the sounds of the night and the last mocking birds chirping song, this provides my chest with much needed rest.

I inhale deeply and exhale in relief. I don’t have to live up to this world’s standards of success. I can just be me and be confident that I was made in the image of the Holy One. High heeled success does not match up to the victory of wearing a crown fashioned by the majestic God. Living up to the crown of honor is my mission.

My heart is wedded to the man who, even before birth, has called me his beloved. He brings peace to the chaotic. He makes sense of the messy and he recycles the scent of my mistakes into something glorious and utterly edifying.

Like broken bottles of oil, I want the fragrance of my soul to delight his heart. I pray the passion in every strand of my hair glows with an aura of the living God. In the silence, these are the thoughts that come to my mind. Outside in the breeze of the summer night, after hard work, I reflect.

What if the world took just a few minutes each day to reflect in the silence? It is said, your heart and mind drift to those who you hold most dear – those that consume that pumping, coveted space in your chest. Let us take time daily to reflect on living, loving and praising. Let’s reflect on life and it’s insanely beautiful purpose – to love God and others.

Where do you think your mind will wonder this evening?

Do You Ever Picture God As A Lion?

lionDo you ever picture God as a lion? I do. And, in fact, I do this quite often. There is something about the safe mane and sturdy body that provides my heart such rest and a sense of safety.

I look at pictures of this majestic creature and just think, ‘that’s my Jesus.’ The paws of precision and the coat of pure silky fur glowing in the sunlight. To take from The Newsboys, ‘my God is not dead, he’s surely alive living on the inside roaring like a lion.’

Reading C.S.Lewis’ book, ‘The Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe’ almost brings me to tears every time. When I read statements from Aslan (the lion protagonist) my heart is stirred with such love and my body ripples with goose bumps.

This character was meant to portray our Savior and Lewis does a tremendous job in painting a picture of fire, love and courage all in one animal. He is the fearless leader in the book, resilient and kind.

This is one of my favorite exchanges in the book between Lucy and Aslan:

“How can we live, never meeting you?” cried Lucy. “But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan. “But there I have a different name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

I long to know God better. I want to look into those lion eyes and cry, ‘you bled for me.’ You were tied up, hung and ridiculed because of me.’ Some days, here are on earth, may be tougher than others to rest in the security of his mane. Things that are not in our control happen daily. But, dear heart, your lion has overcome the world for you. Hold your head up high.

Talk to God. Cast your cares on him – for he cares for you. If it helps, picture the Lord as the king of all creation – a lion gentle, kind yet fierce (because he is!). And, rest in the shadow of his great paws of protection. He will pounce for you and roar in a weighty sound into the night. He will breathe life into hearts of stone for you because he has the power to do so. And he is your king.

Thai Squash Noodle Soup {Gluten Free}

soup yExpanded my spice pallet this weekend with some tasty gluten free Thai inspired soup! Let me tell you, this little meal was delicious and completely vegetarian. Not to mention it was very easy and quick to make.

You will need: ½ quart of gluten free chicken broth, 1 cup water, ½ cup almond milk, 1 package of cooked and shelled edamame, 1 squash, curry powder, ½ onion, garlic powder, 6 chopped asparagus spears and turmeric.

First, pour your chicken broth into a large pot on the oven and start boiling the liquid. Add in 1 cup of water and let sit until the boiling process starts.

Next, in a frying pan, dump in your ½ onion, that has been diced, into the pan with a little olive oil. Sautee these until lightly brown and dump into your soup mixture.

Add chopped asparagus and bag of edamame to the soup mixture.

For the squash noodles, I used one of these vegetable slicers. They are super inexpensive and you can get them at Target. Believe me, invest in this! (Thank you Mom for the wonderful gift!) Squash makes perfect guilt-free noodles for soups!

Dump your squash noodles into the soup. Add in the spices – 1 tbsp. of curry powder, 1 tbsp. of turmeric and ½ tbsp. of garlic powder. Last but not least, add in your almond milk (or coconut). Just don’t use cow or soy milk.

Also as a little info: turmeric is a wonder spice! It is said to help in prevention of: Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer. It reduces inflammation and blood pressure, as well, as protects your bones!

Let this yummy soup cook for about 20 minutes on low. You just want all the spices to gel together. This will ensure a tasty bowl of soup.

Enjoy. This is gluten free and paleo (if you take out the edamame.)

Watermelon Cooler {Gluten Free}

watermelonThis drink looks absolutely fantastic! It’s a WATERMELON drink – for the summer! Perfect thing to cool off those HOT days.

Bring the drink to the pool and sip on it in the hot sun. Watermelon is refreshing and detoxing.

Not only is watermelon low calorie, they are one fruit that is great to eat when on a diet especially if you are looking for a way to cleanse your body flushing potentially harmful toxins from your body.

This drink is only 90 calories per serving – awesome! And has a coconut taste to it (even better!)

Now, wouldn’t you so much rather drink this than a coke? {soda – excuse me, every soft drink is ‘coke’ to a Texan!}

You will need: 3 cups cubed chilled watermelon, 1 cup coconut water, squeeze of fresh lime and a sprig of mint, 

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Yes, this is all you do – truly a no sweat drink. For an alcoholic version try one part coconut rum.

However, I think you will find that the skinny version is absolutely wonderful.

 

10 ‘Facts of Life’ I Learned From My Mother

momMothers. They can frustrate you sometimes. But, face it – you will always love your mom. She is that friend that will never leave your side no matter how gross, dramatic or pathetic you may act.

I mean really, she changed your diapers and dealt with those sugar sporadic moments when you were in elementary (but, maybe that was her fault because she fed you sugar after all.)

However, at any rate – you love her and she loves you. And she has some good ideas from time to time. Just admit it. Here are some (just a few) ‘facts of life’ that my mom has taught me over my past 28 years of life. Sure she will teach me many more things as time progresses:

1. Add some mint to your unsweet iced tea. Yes, I said unsweet because sweet tea (though the epitome of southern charm) is loaded with sugar. Not only is this garnish girly, it adds a naturally sweet taste. What a great idea!

2. Never go out of the house without looking the best you possibly can. This is true. Like a genuine southern lady, hot rollers are used every morning. I don’t care if I have to add an extra 20 minutes to my morning routine. My hair will be big and look nice. {Ha- however, if it’s Saturday and you just have to wear jeans, T-shirt and a make-up free face, make sure you look put together}. I mean, c’mon ladies, how hard is it to wipe the mascara off from under your eyes and brush your hair!? Not hard at all.

3. Buy expensive flip-flops. Your feet are precious. Take care of them. If you have to spend some extra bucks on some shoes that have cushy soles – do it. Your back and body will thank you. No Walmart or Payless flat footed sandals (those are for the beach, so they can be thrown away). Buy some real, woman flip flops and wear them.

4. Don’t feel bad about getting a pedicure. You need to treat yourself in some way. Why not a pedicure? I used to feel so bad that someone was painting my toes for me; but, you pay for it. And, what better way to relax is there than sitting in a back massage chair and having your feet massaged and manicured?

5. Wear some type of spanx under your dresses, even if the dresses are not super tight. It does not matter if you weigh 2 lbs or 200 lbs, spanx are always needed. Period. Maxi dresses. Mini dresses. Wear them.

6. Sometimes you just have to cry. Don’t feel like a baby. As my mom would tell me when I was younger, let it out! It is not good to hold in and bottle up all those emotions. And for a puffy eye fix in the morning, cold tea bags work great. This girl speaks from experience.

7. Enjoy some good junk food from time to time. Don’t be so weight conscious that you can’t order some tasty French fries from McDonald’s (let’s be honest they have the best fries) and I am going with Arby’s to top the charts with the curly fries. Eat salads most days – but don’t hate yourself over sinking your teeth in a burger from time to time.

8. Hug long and hug often. My mom always taught me that you need 12 hugs a day. While I thought that was funny when I was younger, now that I am older – it’s the truth. Hug those you love long and often. We are set on this earth to love God and love others.

9. Wine and cheese can serve as a dinner {and maybe a vegetable plate too}. Don’t feel bad if all you want for dinner is cheese and wine. If you want to pull some yummy cheese out of the fridge and sip on a glass of wine, do it. You don’t have to necessarily have a four course meal for dinner. For that matter, I have had many a nights where sliced celery, carrots and romaine lettuce leaves dipped in ranch have been my evening meal.

10. Sing in the car. I know you may think that others will think you look goofy; but, who cares, really!? If you like the song and want to sing – bust out a tune. Life is too short to try and impress others. Get your worship on, star in your own country show, whatever. Sing. It makes the heart happy.

Fresh Caprese Salad {Gluten Free}

capreseThis gluten free girl sometimes really misses Italian food. I see angel hair Alfredo pasta and my mouth waters. The rich flavors just pervade my senses, and I miss consuming such creamy meals.

However, skipping the wheat laden bread is a better alternative than an upset stomach. So, I find ways to satisfy my Italian cravings. And the best way to do that is – eat a lovely bowl of Caprese Salad.

I can remember my first plate of this yummy salad, which is interesting. This was even before I knew about my gluten allergy. As you can tell, I am not lying about liking this dish.

There we were, my sweet family of four, eating on a mountaintop bistro in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And, little did I know, I would fall in love that day with – Caprese Salad.

tomatoes

These beauties were too pretty not to share!

Now that I am older, I make this as a quick dinner or treat for myself. It is heavenly.

So, if you are gluten free and missing out on your garlic and olive oil flavors, this is the dish for you!

You will need: 3 medium tomatoes, 1 ball of mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, olive oil and salt and pepper.

All you need to do is – get out a cutting board and chop up your pretty tomatoes. You can chop huge chunks or little chunks. The choice is really up to you.

Next, chop up your fresh basil leaves and ball of mozzarella. Mix up these pieces with the tomatoes in a larger bowl.

Sprinkle in some olive oil. The amount of drizzle is up to you. Then add some salt and pepper to taste.

You are done! This can be a little dinner or maybe a side salad with your main course. It is completely gluten free and very delicious. Munch on gluten free ladies!

You might also like this delish ‘Caprese Gluten Free Bread’ recipe too!

Boiled Chicken Broth Potatoes {Gluten Free}

potat 2

Doesn’t this look like a Farmer’s table!? Fresh and natural.

Boiled these beautiful potatoes last night! Sometimes you just have to sink your teeth into starchy food. This fit the bill after a long day of work in heels!

These yummy potatoes were full of such flavor, and I have gluten free chicken broth to thank for that. Seriously, I may never boil potatoes the same again.

By adding chicken broth, it really infused the meat of the potato with a great taste. Give this a try.

I am so sure your family will love this recipe and dinner guests will too. What a simple little dish that is delicious.

I kind of felt like Mother Earth setting this out on my table. Don’t they look so delish and natural!?

potat

Yum. Look at those delicious potatoes!

You will need: 2 cups of gluten free chicken broth, 1 tbsp. chives, 1 tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic powder.

This is simple y’all. But, simple has never tasted so good! Just bring your two cups of chicken broth to a boil. Dump your teeny potatoes (after washing them) in the boiling broth and add your olive oil.

Add your seasonings on after the potatoes have boiled for about 10 minutes. So sprinkle on the dried chives and garlic powder. Cook for another 10 minutes. Once the potatoes are soft, serve!

Avocado Radish Toast {Gluten Free}

radishOkay – this combo may look a little kooky; but, believe me when I say – it is delicious. You will not want to stop eating this cute, dainty appetizer. Bring it to a party or just eat it as a healthy afternoon snack.

Its gluten free (used Udi’s gluten free bread) and gives you that little crunch you need. Simply toast the bread in the oven or toaster, spread the avocado on and add slices of yummy radishes.

It’s that easy. Really. AND – even more of a bonus: radishes are super good for you. It reduces pain and swelling, can aid in weight loss, helps hydration, eliminates mucus and clear the sinuses. You can read all the benefits here.

You will need: ½ avocado, 2 pieces of gluten free bread and 4 radishes.

After taking the bread out of the oven or toaster, simply cut the bread into little strips and place them on a pretty plate. In a bowl, mash up ½ an avocado with a fork and spread this goodness on to your bread strips. Slice radishes and arrange them on top of the mashed avocado.

Have fun with this dish. If you don’t like radishes, try another veggie on top. Maybe a diced red pepper! However, the radishes really give it a zesty, spicy taste.

It is melt in your mouth good. Don’t believe me, give it a try.