The Heavy Rocks of Insults

gentle and kindMy profession is one that requires thick skin. Politics. Insults are hurled, names are called and facts are more often than not – twisted and gnarled. In a world that is fallen and not our own, I guess this should be expected. I have learned to lean not on my own understanding and in all my ways acknowledge him and he will direct my paths.

Yes – God is at work in you and he will not (never ever) forsake you. Yet, reading insults are hard (even if they are not about you). They eat at your core and your spirit. They create a heavy heart and disappointment.

I am a firm believer in encouragement – that we need to build each other up in love (1 Thessalonians 5: 11-12). Why aren’t we doing this more often – in politics and personal lives?

Everyone is going to disagree. We all were formed with different, diverse minds. And, thank God for that! Like 1 Corinthians says, we all cannot be the ear of the body – we have to have arms, eyes and knees to make everything work in a cohesive pattern in the Body of Christ. So debate is not what I am talking about when I mention insults. I am talking about the bitter, biting personal attacks – ones that attack someone’s character without getting to know their soul.

As a conservative, I have seen it coming from the liberal side more often (merely because this is the pattern I observe regularly). But, we are all to blame. Whatever happened to the command, ‘Love one another as I have loved you?’ We certainly do not have to agree with someone to love them – and lift them up in prayer.

I point a finger back at myself writing this little post. I have been guilty of this thought process to accuse those that are not like you. However, novel thought, instead of condemning them, why don’t we lift the accused in our minds up in prayer to God the Father? Pray for those who persecute you that is a Biblical promise.

Jesus displayed this best, when he uttered on the bloody cross: Father forgive them for they know not what they do. He also famously said – those without sin, cast the first stone.

My knuckles have been white a time or two from clutching onto that shameful stone of accusation. But, it’s time to drop those rocks of callousness and embrace each other.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating skipping together hand-in-hand and disappearing into a delusional rainbow of peace and love. 1 Thessalonians also says to abstain from every evil. Yet, it also notes, do not repay evil for evil.

To take from a famous song, ‘what the world needs now is love sweet love.’ And what better way to display love Jesus’ way – because he is love. How absolutely breathtaking to act out his love with our words spoken to one another.

A challenge to myself this week will be – to speak love through my actions and deeds. Life is too short to spew hatred and vile comments to one another, whether you stand in accordance with that person or not.

I love the children’s song which goes, ‘God is still working on me to make me what I ought to be.’ The King is at work in hearts and minds across the globe. He is not dead. Let’s choose to be the face of Jesus who allowed Mary, a sinner, to douse his feet with oils and her tears. He did not recount her sins to the world or hurl insults her way, he forgave her completely in love.

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Food Allergies & Halloween {Teal Pumpkin Project}

tealFortunately, I did not find out about my gluten allergy until a year out of college, so Halloween was no big deal to me. I could stuff my face with Kit Kat’s, Twix and Whoppers and not think twice about the contents of the candy. However, not so for kids with serious food allergies!

Halloween, a typically celebratory candy fest, can be heartbreaking to some kids. They want to fit in with their friends and indulge in the goodies; but their diet won’t allow for such indulgences.

Thankfully, this year The Food Allergy Research & Education has launched ‘The Teal Pumpkin Project’ specifically for children with food allergies. How sweet it is!

All you have to do to participate is either buy a teal pumpkin or paint one teal – and offer some non-food items. How simple. Just think about how many allergy prone kids you could be helping.

glow light

How perfect are these light treats!?

Some sample non-food items include: spider rings, pencils, play doh, glow in the dark toys, whistles, kazoos, bracelets, stickers…etc.

Glow lights are super great options. You can buy a pack of 5 at the dollar store – for $1. Great deal.

I am an adult and hate having a food allergy – so I cannot imagine how kids (who want to fit in desperately) feel. This way they can gladly accept a prize at the door and Halloween will seem more like a treat than a trick.

Place a teal pumpkin on your porch this Friday night and make a child with a food allergy happy!

Follow this link to get the little sign to place in your window: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/165085142566700064/

Beer + Bread Cheese Soup {Gluten Free}

beer cheese soup

This scrumptious dish looks complex; but, I think you will be rather surprised at how easy it is to whip up. I absolutely love making soups in the winter. Not only do they warm your body, they send these feel good rays into your soul.

You will need: 1 quart of gluten free chicken broth, 1 cup water, ½ cup heavy cream, ½ yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, 1 bottle of gluten free beer (Red Bridge is readily available in grocery stores), 2 tbsp. butter, and 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

First, boil your gluten free broth over the stove. I added the Italian seasoning and cup of water to the broth first and foremost. Taste – to see if you need more salt. You may need to add a chicken bouillon cube or some powder like this.

In a separate pan, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until lightly golden brown. Then dump them into your soup mixture. Let soak in the broth for about 10 minutes.

Add in the cream and butter along with the bottle of beer. Stir up the mixture and let simmer for about 5 more minutes.

Lastly, dump in the shredded cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add – gluten free croutons to the top of the soup for a crunchy, garlicky addition. Find a recipe here on how to make gluten free croutons.

Enjoy.

5 Simple Modest Halloween Outfits for Women

Let’s face it, we live in a society where being a girl is sexualized so much so that it’s hard to find just a plain old cute festive Halloween costume. Costumes that leave little to the imagination line the shelves of seasonal shops and (I don’t know about you) but I would just feel so uncomfortable wearing anything that raunchy out.

So, wanted to provide the ladies out there (who feel the same way as me) with some cute DIY options for Halloween this year! You don’t have to be risqué to look super cute. Value your body and treat it as a temple; but, by all means have fun and dress up on October 31st. Hope y’all like these cute suggestions.

1. Olaf or Frosty The Snowman

Okay – so the hit movie ‘Frozen’ has many characters to choose from; but we all know that Olaf, the cute little snowman, has stolen America’s heart. How easy is this outfit? Purchase a white tutu and wear a white T-shirt (complete with felt buttons), red scarf, sparkly party top-hat and warm black tights! Adorable, affordable and appropriate!

snowman

2. A Christmas Present

Get into the Christmas spirit early by dressing up as a present! This is so, so simple and fun to make. So wear a black turtle neck and black A-line skirt. Buy one of those mondo packs of holidays bows and either hot glue them to your skirts or just stick them on with the self-adhesive tape on the back of the ribbons. Add a tinsle belt and a bow in your hair of course!

present

3. Disney Princess

This idea is so easy and cute. Buy a Disney Princess apron and wear it for Halloween. There are so many to choose from online (that are super cheap and won’t break the bank). As you can see, this one below is Cinderella. Simply strap on your apron of choice over black pants and a black top – you are ready to go! You can also make the aprons yourself if you are a crafty maven!

 cinerella

4. Living Fruit

Have a yellow dress and sunglasses? Well, then you can dress up like a Pineapple for Halloween. How cute is this outfit? And the little leaf headband – so simple to make. Just use a toilet paper roll and green construction paper! Here are some simple instructions on how to do just that!

pinapple

5. Whimsical Deer

So this little outfit is easy – as pie! You have a few brown articles of clothing ie: skirt, pants, sweatshirt or blouse – you are good-to-go! Just layer brown on brown, make a cute little cotton ball tail and fasten some cute horns on your head. There you go. You can even add whimsical face paint for extra pizazz! Check out these cute antler/headband ideas!

deer

White Goat Cheese & Spinach Pizza {Gluten Free}

pizza 2

It is always fun to have a pinot, pizza and painting night.

You will simply fall in love with this rich, delightful pizza. It is so light, garlicky and cheesy – that you really can’t not adore it. Olive oil and spinach sautéed to perfection on top and creamy goat cheese sprinkled in, let’s get to making this show stopper dish.

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. I might be partaking in my last night’s dinner for breakfast. Cold pizza anyone?

You will need (For the Crust): 1 packet of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix (you can buy this online for $3 or in your grocery stores), 2 cage free eggs, 2 tbsp. of olive oil, 1 ½ cup warm water, ½ cup parmesan, 2 tbsp. garlic powder and 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning.

(For the Toppings): 1 bag of baby spinach, 2 tbsp. olive oil, ½ cup goat cheese, 1 bag of mozzarella cheese and 1 tbsp. garlic powder.

First, you will want to preheat the oven to 425. Get it nice and toasty for that yummy crust that will be roasting in there soon.

In a bowl, pour in your gluten free pizza crust mixture. You will want to read the back of the packet for step-by-step instructions; but, I can tell you the gist of it too.

Crack two eggs into the mixture along with 1 cup of warm water. Mix and then drizzle in your olive oil.

In a tiny bowl, dump in your yeast mixture (that should have been in the gluten free packet) and add ½ cup warm water to it. Let it sit out for a few minutes, giving it time to activate – then add this separately to your crust dough. Mix into the dough.

For extra tastiness, add in ½ cup of parmesan cheese, 2tbsp. garlic and 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning to the dough mixture. Trust me – you will want to add these additional ingredients into the mix.

Use your hands to knead the dough into a nice little fluffy ball (just like this one pictured below).

dough

Right after I dumped the yeast into the mix, so the bread was beginning to rise.

Spray a baking pan with some cooking spray and plop your dough mixture onto the surface of the pan. Do not worry about fitting the dough precisely into the pan perimeters – I like to make mine look artisan by just crudely spreading the dough out with my fingers.

Once the dough is spread to your crust thickness preference, glaze the top with an olive oil/garlic powder mixture. And then pop this in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, pull your crust out of the oven and add on the bag of mozzarella cheese to the top. I also sprinkled on some more Italian seasoning for more taste. Put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

In a separate pan on the oven, sauté your spinach. Just use olive oil and those washed spinach leaves to make those leafy greens to add on your pizza at the end.

After 20 minutes, pull out that cheese pizza and carefully scatter your spinach leaves on the top of that white pizza. Also, sprinkle your goat cheese on with the spinach. Let this cook for another 5 minutes (or until golden brown).

Let cool. Cut your pizza into square bits or pie shaped slices. But, most of all – enjoy your gluten free artisan pizza! And hey – make a night out of it while you eat on your pizza – be creative: paint, sing , craft.

lion

My pizza night painting.

Fall & The Grateful Practice

pumpIt’s fall – the season for crunchy leaves, coats, leggings and pumpkin spice lattes. This season really warms my heart. It is my favorite season hands down. Its fun to see the pumpkin patches full of orange, plump fruit on the side of the road and oooh and awww over babies draped in head-to-toe fleece sitting plop in the middle of a sea of burnt orange pumpkins. Like seriously cute!

Fall envelopes me with cute ideas – I scour Pinterest for fluffy outfits and craft projects. This season fills me with a fervent passion to conquer. However, I tend to forget that fall is also a season of thankfulness. After all, after Halloween comes Thanksgiving. Turkey dinners simply should not be a standalone meaning for that precious holiday.

I practiced an exercise this week. Think of the things that make you angry and frustrated sometimes – and flip those trials into something you are grateful for. I know, it was a hard task; but, I did think of a few things that I wanted to share.

My commute into work. Driving in my car and sitting in a gridlock of traffic bothers me. I hate to admit it; but many times – it just makes me blood boil. People in fast, pricey cars cut you off in the merge lane (I speak from experience) and then people who are texting or talking on their phone can take forever to realize that a lane is moving. Yet, in this midst of this chore – I am thankful for my drive in. I get to pass the Pentagon, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol every single day. What a joy! There are many people who never get to experience this marble, monumental grandeur every single morning. So I thank God for that experience and my eyes that can see such wonder.

Walking my dog. I live in an apartment – so, literally every single time my dog has to go potty, I have to take him on an elevator and outside into the little doggie park. This can be a pain especially when it’s like 20 degrees outside and snowing or when I am just flat out tired from work and want to plop down on the couch. But, I thank God for my legs that are able to walk outside – for the ability of mobility and the beautiful feeling of the crisp, clean air I get to breathe. The pumping life that I breathe in and out of my life house!

Convoluted city living. Living in the city can be rough, we discussed traffic in a point above – but the living quarters are pretty tight too. Parking spaces are rare and – everything just takes much, much longer to complete. Maneuvering around DC can be pretty bleak. However, I am so thankful to everything that is proximity to me. One weekend, I can experience Gettysburg and the next, I can walk on the Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy some fresh fish – prepared right in front of me. I can tour Mount Vernon or even walk on the West Lawn of the White House and experience a garden tour.

I encourage you to practice gratefulness this week. Think of three things that are the bane of your existence and flip them around to find something wonderful in that chore. Remember that a smile is a frown turned upside down.

Baked Rosemary Cashews {Gluten Free}

Let’s talk about a simple, toasty snack – nuts! Not only are they high in Omega 3’s but they are very appetite crushing. This little recipe is simple and the perfect thing to set out for a dinner party or just out in your house during the upcoming holiday season.

cashews

The blend of rosemary and 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joe’s) is mouthwatering. Believe me. Love, love this blend!

You will need: 1 cup unsalted cashews, 1 tbsp. dried rosemary, 2 tbsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil and 1 tbsp. 21 Seasoning Salute.

First dump all your cashews in a bowl and coat with your olive oil. Make sure they are covered – this is what makes the herbs stick to the nut.

Pour in your spices and stir with a big wooden or plastic spoon. (Did I mention that I absolutely LOVE Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. Please buy this little yummy spice. It can really add to any dish you cook up!)

season

Spray cooking spray on an oven pan and dump your spice nuts into the pan.

Make sure the oven is set to 400 – you want it pretty hot so your nuts can get nice and toasty. Place the nuts in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the cashews are nice and brown.

cashews yum

Set out and enjoy!

Fall Décor Idea – Chalk Wine Bottle Vases

Just wanted to share with y’all a fun little weekend project. Today is the first day of autumn. You should start thinking about harvest décor for your home.

This little craft is super fast and easy to make. It will add a little cute factor – without the gore of Halloween decorations.

BOO

You will need: three wine bottles, chalk paint, chalk and flowers of your choice!

Make sure you take off the wine bottle labels. Just hold the bottle under a steady stream of hot water and tags peels off easily. I used a little dish scrub brush to scrap the paper off and get rid of the stickiness.

Dry the bottles with a towel. I painted the bottles out on my apartment balcony and used a paper grocery sack under the bottles (as not to get paint on the concrete).

Simply paint the bottles using a paint brush. You will probably want to coat the bottles with 2 layers of paint. The bottles dry super fast. So, I would let the first coat of paint sit for about 25 minutes and then paint another layer over it.

You will want your bottles to set overnight – for ultimate chalkboardness. Use some chalk to write a creative slogan on your bottles. I used the phrase ‘Boo.’ It is cute, simple and not too long. You could add one more bottle to your décor and spell our ‘Fall.’

Then place your flowers in the wine bottle (with water of course).

One Week of Flats – And I Lived To Tell About It

shoes

Shoes from: Nine West, Steve Madden, Target, Shoe Carnival and Sperry

Well, one major problem about being a working woman is dressing up for work. I used to absolutely love it. I don’t know if it’s me getting older or the fact that it takes so much effort, and I have so much to do (nobody’s got time for that!). Haha.

At any rate, I challenged myself this week to dress up – but wear flat shoes instead of those ouchy high heel beauties.

Let me tell you, this was a good challenge for myself. Being a little lady, around 5’ 4” tall, I really like having that extra height the heel gives you. However, after running around on them all day (press conferences, concrete floors…etc) they can really take their toll on your back, feet and just overall weary feeling.

So I did – picked out 5 pairs of cute flats in my closet (they literally get no wear and tear at all) and wore them with choice outfits all week. And my feet feel fantastically rejuvenated. Here are some benefits that I deducted from my little experiment this week.

Flats are practical.

In my job, I run around a lot. Press conferences, media hits. These are all punctual things – and if you are running a tad late – it is full on sprint time. Um – heels were not designed for running. I have darted down the hallways in heels, not fun and not good. So, flats are so practical if you are on your feet during the day.

Flats excel in inclement weather.

Do you live in a place that has testy weather? If you do, flats are a better choice. Like really, try walking down the sidewalk in a big city while it’s pouring down rain or hailing a cab in heels while balancing an umbrella. Not my idea of a grand old time.

Flats preserve your health.

I don’t want to have back problems. Do you? I am not saying high heels are bad all the time – but don’t wear them every day. Flats will give your body a rest from the unnatural state of standing in those spiky heels. A report in The Daily Mirror notes, ‘Heels cause problems because they force your foot forward, altering the angle of your body so your weight isn’t evenly distributed over the spine, which can trigger pain from your knees all the way up to your back,”

Flats can be super cute.

Okay – so, I have thought for a long time that flats are ugly. I love, love high heels. The designs are cute and they just look so feminine. But, flats can be darling. You can get girly ones with bows (no, you are not too old for that) preppy ones with little buckles or edgy ones with zippers – etc. You can find a flat to suit your fashion taste.

Live a little and take the flat challenge (this week or next!) It is worth it. Really. It is.

Sunflower Seed Chicken Salad {Gluten Free}

This chicken salad is refreshing and seriously great. It is so easy to make – like really easy. And will last all week in the fridge (so you can have it for lunch many days!) I like to make my lunches before the work week starts. That way, I can just grab it and go in the morning. This little salad is perfect to take to the office for a quick healthy lunch. You may even have all the ingredients at home already (I did!).

arugala salad

You will need: 1 can of chicken (or you can use 2 whole chicken breasts – cooked and chopped), 3 large celery stalks, ¼ yellow onion, salt and pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder, ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds, 3 tbsp. mayonnaise and arugula leaves.

First off, dice your celery and yellow onions. You can use a food processor for this; but, I like a little larger chunks in my salad – so just use a regular kitchen knife and cut them up in small pieces. Place in a mixing bowl.

bowl

Dump in your canned or chopped chicken. And mix it into the veggie mix of onions and celery.

Next add in your mayo (if you are vegan – you can use Vegenaise®). Stir up your mixture, making sure the chicken is coated. Add in your spices – garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. You may even want to add in a little onion powder too. If you like it really flavorful.

Lastly, add in the sunflower seeds. I find that adding some kind of nut or seeds adds that earthy crunch you crave. And sunflower seeds remind me of the fall (which, I am so ready for!)

Stir and set on a bed of arugula. This lettuce, also known as, salad rocket is super good for you. Read more about it here. Rather than a peppery taste – the leaves are somewhat sweet. However, you can always use a different type of lettuce.

I like to sprinkle some vinaigrette on top of the salad for additional flavor. Paul Newman’s lite Italian is wonderful. Enjoy.