Wednesday, December 31

2014 in Reverse

2014 in Reverse. An awakening of my soul, a stirring of my heart, a spark in my heart, a light in my eyes. What I discovered in 2014...

I discovered the beauty and mystery of a land, once powerful, now dusted by sand and ancient tombs. Pharaohs, once held with such esteem and power, nothing but bones and dust. Ominous and beautiful

Gelato. The cool sweet lightness, a tingling kiss on your lips after an exotic night of tapas under the twinkling lights of ancient cities.



Rain. The beautiful pureness, the quiet stillness, the continual rejuvenation of life even when life seems gray and dreary.

Romance. Beautiful wishful promises made in a fountain. A proposal of grandeur, filled with empty promises but nonetheless a fairytale. A romantic notion filled with language barriers and sweet gestures.

History.  I explored a castle that once brimmed as the center of life. A lighthouse, a beacon. Now a beautiful and quiet retreat in the middle of a bustling city.


I explored the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I dipped my fingers in one side and felt the pulse of the other.


I discovered that sometimes it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known some one, but when two souls are destined to be together time becomes obsolete. Friendship is wonderful and beautiful and it’s the missing piece in your life. Surround yourself with the truest, most honest and beautiful people.


A fun bikini can change a girls attitude completely.


The heat of summer, the damp coolness of a shady palm tree. The aroma of tropical flowers and the sound of exotic birds that entice you deeper into a garden.


I’ve discovered that true love is worth the wait, demonstrated by my sweet friend. I’ve watched many brides walk down the aisle but none as sweet as her. Being by her side, watching her grow and change, seeing her support and love him til the ends of the earth; It’s a beautiful demonstration of how Christ loved the church and how love is a daily commitment to lay down your life for another.


Things are really bigger in Texas.


I discovered the waters of the mountains, again. That rush and adrenaline. The excitement of the fear of the unknown that is just around the next bend.


The unexpected beauty of a drive and coming upon a field of sunflowers. A happy field. A content field. A field of dancing souls, singing to the sun and stretching upward with exuberance and joy. Pure joy.


The sweet kiss of sun. Tanned tummys and sand between my toes. The peace and serenity of the waves continually kissing the shore.


I realized that I can survive a job transition. Leaving one job for another. Taking a step towards a greater future, a bigger plan. Not letting fear hold me back. Taking a leap of faith and trusting God has a bigger plan. And I made it, I am surviving and thriving in exactly where God wants me to be.


The sensation of grapes between your toes. Hello “I Love Lucy”

Passion. A revitalization of a once-dormant part of my soul. The freeness and abandonment of everything but two souls, intertwined on the dance floor.  Feeling with more than your hands and feet, but with your whole body and soul. Letting the music take over your body and for moments of pure abandonment, let nothing matter except the raw feeling of the music twisting around your body.

NASCAR. Now that was random.


Inner strength, raw strength, strength of a fierce woman. My strength doesn't come from a man, it doesn't come from validation- it comes from focus, determination, power from God and most of all my own sweat and tears.



Red lipstick. Give a woman the right shade of lipstick, and she can conquer the world.


Watch out 2015, I’m out to conquer the world, and you’re right in my grasps...


Wednesday, December 3

Twenty-Four Seven

“And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God” (NLT) Ecclesiastes 3:13

Every one of us gets 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. It doesn’t matter if you’re working or in school or in between jobs. It doesn’t matter if you’re struggling to make a living or if you’re living the dream- we each get the exact same amount of time: 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86400 seconds. We never feel like we have enough time in the day to get XY and Z done, to make a difference, to give back, to donate, to volunteer, to get in shape, to call our parents back, to… the list could continue until I could no longer type. Why is it that some people are more successful than others to get things accomplished in a day, a week, a month, a year? Is it because they sleep more? Maybe they drink green tea. Or maybe it’s because they read more books in 5th grade. Maybe they don’t sleep more than 2-hours a day. 

I don't have the answers but I do know that God grants us each the same amount of time every day, and it is our sole job to do what we do in that day to glorify Him. Whether that's sweeping up cheerios, cleaning toilets, gardening, studying or sitting at a computer all day; we can do what we do with a grateful heart, a sweet spirit and in a way that glorifies God. Recognize the gifts God has given to you and spend your day, your God-given day, to glorify God with those gifts.

Thursday, November 13

Gluten Free Adventures: Baked Apple Crisp

The Nesting Season Continues

It wouldn't be fall without the warm smell of baked apples in the oven. This evening I made a yummy gluten free apple crisp in the oven; nothing tastes more like fall!

Gluten Free Apple Crisp
6-8 small apples (I used a mixture of pink lady & granny smith)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg 

Topping:
2/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 cup GF Quaker Oats 
2/3 cup melted butter



Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and warm and the apples are soft. Cook longer if you like softer apples, a tad less for my crunch.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salted carmel sauce and viola- the perfect fall treat!

Sunday, November 9

GF Adventures: Breakfast Tartlet


Sunday brunch is a  thing my family would do quite frequently after church when all of us kids were home. Now that several of us have moved and went to college, we do not get to do it as often. This particular weekend my aunt is visiting from Minnesota and Tyler is home from university, so my mom wanted to have the family together on Sunday morning. Being gluten free can be a bugger when it comes to brunch; there are so many yummy options like pancakes, waffles, quiche, muffins … none of which I can have. So I decide to make one of my favorite brunch options: Danielle Walker's 'Breakfast Pizza with Gruyere, Baked Eggs & Bacon'. It's a really simple recipe, quite quick and a treat that you wouldn't even know is gluten free! 

Breakfast Pizza with Gruyere, Baked Eggs
Original post: Danielle Walker - AgainstAllGrain 
Serves: 6 

Ingredients:
Crust
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil 
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
For the Pizza
  • ¼ cup Crème fraîche (scd legal), or Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 7 bacon slices, cooked until crisp
  • 4 eggs
  • fresh chives
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the dough ingredients in a stand mixer until the a soft dough comes together in a ball. Press the dough into a tart pan, then bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Mix the Crème fraîche and Gruyère in a bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper
Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the baked tart shell, then layer the bacon on top.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degree

Bake the tart for 5-7 minutes to melt the cheese, then remove it and carefully crack the eggs on top.

Return it to the oven and bake it for another 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft. If you prefer more well-done yolks, leave the tart in the oven for 2-3 minutes more. The whites will look slightly underdone due to the oils from the cheese, but they will be set.

Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Friday, October 10

Nesting Season Part 1

I don’t know if it’s my Scandinavian roots coming out, or being a Midwestern girl but this time of the year evokes a season my family calls the “nesting season”. It’s that transitional time between summer and fall where the mornings are crisp and the nights are cool. The trees are clinging to their last bit of green, the crackle of a fire draws you to the flame like a moth to the light, and the bathing suits disappear into the back of the drawers in preparation for chunky scarves and knit socks.

One of the most tell tailing signs that I’ve reached that season is an unquenched thirst for apple cider and the need to be in the kitchen all weekend. So I guess you would say I am officially in nesting mode as I’ve bought my just gallon of fresh apple cider and have slowly found myself nestled into the kitchen with an apron around my hips more often than not. I love it, it’s my thing. Unfortunately in my pre-gluten free life I could bake all sorts of yummy treats to share with friends and family: pies, bars, cakes, dumplings, and everything else that has gluten in it. Now it’s a little trickier to make things gluten free but I’ve adapted (and I occasionally I break down and bake treats and just pawn them off on friends)

After a stop at the local farmers market to get a half peck of Cortland apples, a cup of hot apple cider in hand and a pumpkin soufflé candle burning, I was ready to break into the season of nesting with a homemade apple crisp.

5-7 cups apples:  peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp gluten free flour (I used mix of almond & coconut flour)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup GF oats (I may have added 2 cups- I love oats!)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:
Set oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 8x8 pan.  In a Ziploc bag, add the 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 tbsp GF flour, vanilla, lemon juice, & apples.  Shake until apples are well-coated and pour into bottom of pan.  In a mixing bowl, add the oats, 1/2 cup GF flour, brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and butter.  Stir.  Place mixture over the apples.  Bake in oven for 35-45 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream and a drizzle of salted carmel.



Tuesday, September 30

Day 30 of 30: Reflect & Forsee

Day 30 of 30: What are your goals for the next year?

1.       Hopefully in the next few months I’ll be able to confirm the dates & book my trip to Paris in May
2.        Pay off the rest of my car
3.       Survive my first year at my new job (I’ve officially survived my 1st week on the job with no catastrophes!)
4.       Continue to deepen my relationship with Christ
5.       Smile more. Stress less.
6.       Take another step towards an international move
7.       Visit home and my extended family at least once
8.       Travel even more than 2014: I’ve visited ½ of the US, so I need to start working my way through the 2nd half
9.       Deadlift 2x my bodyweight, beast out some strict pull ups and learn to do a 1-handed handstand
10.   Learn a new language (or become better at the ones I know)
11.   Try sushi
12.   Take on a new hobby (SUP anyone?)
13.   Start my side business (in the works currently)
14.   Serve on a mission trip, internationally or on the home-front
15.   Pour into the lives of others with the love of Christ

The past 30 days have fun exhausting but really fun blogging on a regular basis again. Thank you guys for the sweet comments and love you’ve spoken to me over the past month; what a fun trip. God has really blessed me with a love to write and share my thoughts with others, and it constantly amazes me that my seemingly blank words can speak to you in a deep way. Always remember you are a child of the most high God. You are blessed, you are chosen, you are adopted, you are accepted, you are redeemed and you are forgiven. Your identity is in Him. {{Galatians 2:19-21}


Monday, September 29

Day 29 of 30: Crossfit Chick

Day 29 of 30: Something that is a part of your routine that you really enjoy.

Daily tasks can become monotonous and boring; day in and day out doing the same exact thing. There is some comfort in knowing what to expect, but if you’re anything like me, after so much of the same thing, I start to go a little batty. One of the things that I love about my routine however is going to workout. I find working out therapeutic, a way to clear my mind and get out aggression or frustration. As I’ve moved over the years I’ve bounced from gym to gym doing the whole Rush fitness thing, Gold’s Gym, zumba, cycling, pilates, yoga, MMA, boxing- you name it and I’ve probably tried it. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that I found my niche: Crossfit. 


What is Crossfit? Check it out!!! 



One of the reasons I love Crossfit is that although it has become a part of my daily routine, I never have to worry about being bored. Every day is something different, and with the exception of benchmark WODs, I rarely repeat the same exact workout twice. It’s tough. It’s challenging. It makes you want to puke or faint or die, but that’s what is awesome about it: the Crossfit program and coaches push you that one step further that you wouldn't push yourself riding it solo at Gold’s. It’s not necessarily about lifting heavy weight or running the fastest (although those are perks of the program), it’s really about testing your personal boundaries and seeing how far your body can go when you take your brain out of the equation. So yes, working out and hitting the box is part of my daily routine but it’s one of the things I look forward to most about the day, whether it’s at 5:00am or 6:30pm, it becomes a highlight of my day.

Sunday, September 28

Day 28 of 30: Pet Peeves

Day 28 of 30: What are four pet peeves you have? 

1. Chomping on gum: It is evident now that not everyone was taught to chew with their mouth closed as a child. A 6-year-old is one thing, they don't know better; but a grown 36-year-old woman should have the common sense to close her mouth with the big wad of double-bubble. It's gross. 

2. People who continually use vulgar language: It's not attractive. The English language has so many elaborate and colorful words to use to express you absolute detest of someones outfit, how angry you feel, or how dumb someone is. Come on people, open a thesaurus. 

3. The helicopter coworker: The coworker that rolls their chair up behind mine and scares the ever-living-daylights out of me thanks to the white noise. It scares me every single time when someone pops their head into my cube and I'm so not prepared- give a girl some warning!

4. Using speaker phone for no obvious reason: You know you've seen it, the guy walking in the mall going on and on about something via speakerphone. My theory: unless you're in the car, trying to conference call people in, or you broke your thumb and can't hold your phone- don't use speakerphone in public :) 

Saturday, September 27

Day 27 of 30: In the End

Day 27 of 30: If tomorrow was your last day on earth, what would you do with your time?

James 4:4 "How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog- it's here a little while, then its gone". We are not guaranteed an extra day on the Earth. How do we know that today isn't our last day on this planet- what would you do, and how would you react?

I'm not sure if anyone is ever truly ready to say goodbye to the ones they love; it feels like there is never enough time to get all we want accomplished. I believe knowing that today would be my last day would change my perspective on whether or not I was able to finish all the tasks on my check list- the meaningless checklist that we feel like we must complete to have a 'successful' day. 

I wouldn't be scared to be completely transparent and tell the people I love that I truly and deeply love them. I would hope that they would already know how I felt about them, but I would just take an extra moment to articulate my feelings and express how much they have changed my life. 

Shocking I know, but I love to write, so I think I would sit down and write a letter to my family and just…write: write about my memories, write about the fun trips we shared, write about the hard moments that brought growth through pain, write about my unconditional love and thankfulness for them in my life.

I would take take that risk that I'd been holding back on: I'd tell that guy I love him. I'd cut and color my hair. I'd go bungee jumping. I wouldn't let the fear of the future hold me back. I would have a reckless abandonment that only God can give you and finally have peace about my decisions. I would want to stay up all night gazing at the stars and marvel at God's wonder and splendor.

Mostly, however, I would spend every waking moment with my family and friends and soak up their every-being and cherish the final moments I was allowed with them. Because in the end, it's the people and the memories we have that make our life truly worthwhile. 




Friday, September 26

Day 26 of 30: Call me Maybe?

Day 26 of 30: What kind of person attracts you?

People ask for your “type” but I don’t know if I have a type. There’s a physical attraction to a body type which is, obviously, important for a relationship but I think that what is really attractive is their qualities and characteristics that shine through. I mean come on, a guy can be hot, but if he’s a complete player and an absolute jerk- it’s such a turn off. Physical looks will change over time but a guys qualities, charm and personality are the things that will stay in the relationship.
For me, some of the most attractive qualities in a man:

Humorous: Laughter is contagious and there’s nothing more attractive than a man who can make me laugh and laugh at my (lame) jokes.

Genuine: I can tell when a guy is being sincere. I hate it when a guy is trying to be someone he’s not, or trying to be someone he thinks I want him to be. Be you. Be sincere. Be honest.

Relationship with God: Quite possibly the most attractive thing about a man is if he is in an active relationship with the Lord: seeking, praying, reading, worshiping Him with a reckless abandonment.

Spontaneous: I love spontaneous trips, random texts, silly dates. It’s great to have structure and established plans but it’s so sweet when a guy randomly wants to do something that you hadn’t thought about. I teeter between structure and crazy spontaneity, so having someone who compliments that is important in my life.

Adventurous: He has to be willing to take risks, try new things, go new places, and most importantly travel. I love to travel and it’s so attractive when he too wants to travel and explore the world…preferably together!

Family-oriented: I love my family and I want him to have a good relationship with his family as well. You don’t just marry the man, you marry the family- so it’s important  that he is willing to work on the relationships with his family and welcome the love of your family.

Ambitious: A man with ambition and drive is important because it shows the true sign of his character. It’s okay to be in a career you’re not in love with, but I need to see that there is drive and ambition to change things and take active steps to change it in the future.


Thoughtful: Little thoughtful things speak volumes. A note in a lunch. A encouraging text on a stressful day. A favorite drink made when you get home- it doesn’t need to be big, extravagant or expensive, I just want to see intentional, thoughtful acts because they speak louder than any sort of flashy jewelry or expensive dinner.

Thursday, September 25

Day 25 of 30: Hot Pursuit

Day 25 of 30: Something you feel strongly about

When I get passionate about something, it's pretty obvious, I get fired up. I have a heart for people and an absolute tender spot in my heart for God's creatures. I hate seeing people left out or made picked on and it's one of the reasons I became a sorority mommy for two years during college- because no one was standing up for the girls who didn't wear Lilly Pulitzer or have monogramed everything…but I digress. 

If I had to choose one topic I was adamant about it would be how a woman is to be pursued by a man. Obviously besides treating a lady right, I believe it is so important for a man to pursue a woman’s heart. Biblically a woman is supposed to be pursued and a man is to pursue her heart. I love that saying “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in the Lord that a man has to go through Him to find her”. Courting may sound old-fashioned to some, but to me all it means is pursuing a woman’s heart and not her body. He should want to ask her questions, understand what she’s thinking and feeling, discover her deepest desires and dreams all while keeping the physical side separate.

Call me old fashioned but I still find it charming when a man comes straight up to me and asks me out on a date. I don’t want this “lets chill” or “hang out” thing; I want an intentional invitation to go somewhere one-on-one and learn more about one another (and I don’t think its too much to ask of a man- any grown man is completely capable of asking a woman out on a proper date).

I believe it’s important that a man pursues a woman and provides her with a solid foundation for their relationship. That begins with talking. Talking on the phone, through texts, in-person: all of these lines of communication allow a woman to open herself up to him on a deeper level than just a physical side. Women also have the responsibility to be pursued. Especially in the 21st century when women are incredibly strong and powerful, its that much more important for a woman to slow down and let the man take the lead. It may not be in our culture anymore to let a man open the door, order for you, pull out your chair, and pray over the meal but it’s Biblically-based that women are to be pursued and sought-after.


Women, let a man court you and pursue you. Let him take the initiative to go out. Let him chase you, don’t just give in to any first guy who shows you attention. Let him go after your heart, not just your body. Let him be courteous and show chivalry and appreciate it when he does. Ladies you need to wear the Armor of the Lord and cloth yourself in dignity. You should allow a man to take a lead, let him pursue you and don’t chase him. Let yourself be open to God’s will and His plan for your life but don’t place yourself in a man’s path in hopes you will change his mind… it doesn’t work like that. Dance with God and He will let the right man cut in.


Wednesday, September 24

Day 24 of 30: Movie Date

Day 24 of 30: Whats your favorite movie and what's it about?

I love watching movies whether it's in the theater or at home. There's nothing like curling up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and M&Ms with the lights off and watching a good movie. I couldn't choose just one movie so here is a few of my quick-picks:

Favorite Childhood Movie: The Lion King

Favorite Chick Flick: Father of the Bride 

Favorite Romance: Pride & Prejudice  

Favorite Action Film: Bourne Legacy  

Favorite Comedy: The Proposal  

Favorite Holiday Classic: White Christmas 


Tuesday, September 23

Day 23 of 30: Easy on the Eyes

Day 23 of 30: Who are 5 celebrity guys who you find attractive?

1. Matthew McConaughey
So Matthew's wouldn't be my initial go-to for looks, however, his sense of humor is what gets me and I find it incredibly attractive when a man can make me laugh. 


2. Jude Law
So Mr. Law with his British accent, jagged jawline, alluring academic look… Yup! For me a mixture of brains, academia, charm and good looks is a quadruple threat.


3. Chris Pine 
Chris Pine's eyes are so crisp and blue, you could absolutely sink ;) A guy with eyes that make you want to melt is definitely an attractive factor!


4. Zac Efron
Zac still has that boy-next-door charm which is incredibly attractive.


5. Ryan Gosling 
Well Ryan Gosling is and forever will be "Noah" so that's that!

Monday, September 22

Day 22 of 30: Plot Twist

Day 22 of 30: How have you changed in the past 2 months?

Well isn't this a fitting question considering the day? Over the last 2 months God has definitely been up to some big changes in my life. I've been unhappy at my job and just didn't know where to go. I started applying and just feeling it out. I received several inquiries and a few offers but none just felt….right. Then an opening came along at a company I've been eyeing for years; on a whim I applied and about two weeks later I got a call back for an interview. I went in for the interview and felt confident about it but just really felt like it was a stretch for me to be at this company. Two weeks later I got the second call back. Stunned, I went in for a second time. One week after that I was offered the position and had to make a tough decision: stay at my current place I hated but felt comfortable and liked the people I worked with, or take a leap of faith and aim for a new adventure. I chose to leap.

So as it turns out TODAY is my first day at my new job!! I have a strange mix of excitement and nerves all in one feeling: there's always that nervousness when you don't know what the future holds, but I am so excited for a new challenge and a new adventure. Sometimes I swear I have such a disconnect: I am content to stay in one place for a while and do my thing but then suddenly I want a change and an adventure. Hence why I have this unquenchable need to travel and have fun adventures (:
One of the things that really attracted me to this new position is the opportunity to travel both in the country and internationally. Not only will I be able to travel for my job, but the company is so large that there is potential for me to move internationally within the next 2-3 years.

So this morning I embark on a new adventure in my life. God has a plan for this and I'm unsure of what it is, but God's timing is perfect so I'll follow Him and trust in Him. The past 2 months have been a whirlwind of change and meeting new people. On top of the job change there's been a few new people and relationships that God has placed in my life. There are three people in particular I have met that I know God has placed in my life for a particular reason and this upcoming season makes me so excited to see where He wants to take me.

Don't settle for the monotony of life. Don't be scared to take changes. Be still and listen to God. Set out on a new adventure. Seek out His path for you and He'll take you to places you never would've imagined.



Sunday, September 21

Day 21 of 30: Covert Affairs

Day 21 of 30: A show you are currently obsessed with.

After many years of watching Law & Order:SVU on late-night reruns, I can no longer do scary and bloody shows and movies. It just doesn't sit well with my spirit. However maybe it's my slight rebellious streak but I love a great suspense show: guns, secret service, government scandals and kick-butt high heels and I'm totally down.

I am absolutely in love with the USA Network original series "Covert Affairs". Covert Affairs is about a young CIA trainee, Annie Walker, who works for the DPD (Domestic Protection Division) as a field agent. The show is about thrill, government scandals, homeland security, romance and the thrill of the hunt- it definitely leaves you on the edge of your seat each week. The character of Annie Walker is so complex and just when you think you have her pinned down, there's a completely new component to her that makes her that much more intense, hard core and just cool as ever.

Plus besides her absolute kick-butt-take-no-prisoners attitude, her wardrobe and shoes are absolutely ahhh-mazing. Annie Walker holds it down for the the whole protecting the United States from imminent threats, no big deal.