September 30, 2013

Eating My Nuts and Whey

You know what? When I started this blog I expected it to be mostly about healthy stuff and homemade food and sewing projects... 'cause that's what I like. But somehow that didn't happen... and this blog has been mostly about my everyday life and struggles and God moments. And you know what? I like it that way! But I also think I'd like it if I posted about healthy recipies, herbs, or homemade projects once in a while - things that weren't so deep. :) So, maybe once a month? After you've read my first try at a tutorial, I'd love feedback about how often you'd like more of the same!

Remember in my last post when I mentioned that I was getting braces? And you know how I'm not supposed to be eating nuts while I have braces? And you didn't know before, but now you know - that raw nuts are one of my snacking staples. So. I introduce to you perfectly raw cashew butter!

Being the health nut I am, I often try to squeeze as much nutrition out of a dish as is possible without ruining the taste. So of course I soak my cashews to break down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors before turning them into nut butter. But guess what? We happened to have almost a quart of sweet whey in the fridge from making homemade greek yogurt.

If soaking grains in whey makes them more nutritious,I thought, then why not sub whey for the water when soaking the cashews before making the nut butter? 

It was worth a try, right? My only fear was that it would ruin the taste, so I did the cautious thing and soaked part of the cashews in water and some in whey. 

I let them soak for about two hours, then drained the nuts and parked by the food processor as I impatiently watched the nuts look like this: 

Then like this: 

And finally like this:

It took a long time. And I had to stop the food processor every so often to scrape down the sides, too. The first batch - which I had soaked with water - was rather bland, so I added a couple pinches of Celtic sea salt (use whatever type of salt you have) as I was finishing up. It never got quite velvety smooth, but I did learn one thing: after draining the nuts, try to blot up as much liquid as possible; this prevents a funny oil vs. water texture I got on my first batch ('cause the nuts produced oil when they we chopped up). It ended up like this:

And it tasted fine! I'm glad I added the salt, though. ;)

The batch that had been soaked in whey actually had a nice, almost salty taste - to my complete surprise - and so I left it plain, without salt. 

I thought the two batches tasted nearly the same, so I'll definitely use whey (if we have it on hand) the next time I soak nuts! 

How far would you go to add a little nutrition to your food? 

September 23, 2013

Letting Go of Grumpy

So it's been brought to my attention that I have been growing grumpy. Instead of blooming joy, Satan saw a loophole worn thin by work, work, work and sewed seeds of silent straight faces. Seeds that grew big and mean.
Mom told me, finally, right out front. Boy, I'm glad she did. Told me, whisper-like, I was getting grumpy - so go outside. 
Go outside, she said, and let it go. Let pumpkin pies and school work high, let them go. God is fully capable of catching them, you see, when all along he has been begging me to let go of the life I surrendered long ago to his capable hands. 

Stop grabbing it back, He whispers. 
Time and time again. 
So I'm letting go, of grumpy today, and opening my hands to free-falling joy raining from His throne. 

'Cause when hands are clenched, I've learned, joy can't pour in. It's only when we open, that sparkling joy is ours. 

I'm heading outside, now, to let go some more, inviting you to do the same. 

Dear, don't hold on to that grumpy life. Just go outside and let it go. Open up your tight clenched hands and receive joy overflowing. 

And now for some random pictures I took while I was outside, to maybe assist you in cracking open that gorgeous smile of yours!

How's life going for you guys? Any grumpy-type days that got turned around like mine did today?

P.S. I'm getting braces for the second time tomorrow - surprise! Just on my top teeth, though, and only for about 6 months to fix a slight problem. Just found out today, actually. :P 

September 17, 2013

Jesus-Journeys and Jesus-Journals

    So today I was feeling finally caught up, after supper, ready to chill with 'ill sis while cleaning my room. (I was in the mood for cleaning, okay?) Life seemed finally to have slowed to a reasonable pace. 
    What seemed to be true was a gorgeous, sweet-comfy deception. 
    Literally the moment I crossed into my room to get ahead of the messy monster looming, time slipped from under my feet, turbo speed. I hadn't written a blog post for y'all yet... a Tuesday type of happy-obligation! With 45 minutes until my self-declared bedtime, I'll do my best to give you some short and sweet Jesus stuff. :P
    What have I been learning lately? Let's see... well, after signing up as a youth leader for my church's youth group, I've been warming up to the promise I made to spend 15 minutes each day reading God's word and at least that much time praying. See, previously I had been spending approximately 15-20 minutes with God each morning, so this felt like a huge step. 15 minutes, praying? I knew it was a good thing, but a whole half hour is a big chunk carved out of my morning when I typically leave for work at 7:05. Sigh. 
    But there is this awesome thing called a Jesus-journal (...that is my new name for my previously unnamed battered notebook with writing on both sides of the pages) where I've recorded God moments, high sounding dreams, dark secrets, unknown struggles, and many a conversation with my Lord. So I decided to try writing in it for 15 minutes instead of trying to pray in my head for that long... and it worked!!!!!

    Let me tell you, that journal is going to be one of my treasured possessions when I'm old and gray. I love it already, and reading back in it is an awesome experience. 
    I'd actually started that journal when I was 11, and one side of most of the pages are filled with my younger-years scrawl depicting everyday life as I lived it, and also (to my complete chagrin) way too many references to a certain guy I liked. Yikes. Girls, don't moon over boys in writing. If there is any indication you might not marry the subject of your daydreams, don't dream about them in writing. It's bad enough to fill your head with useless thoughts, but to have them in permanent record is torture in later years. ;) 

    Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the journal. When I stopped writing in it about my girlish life and boys, it got shoved in some drawer for a few years. When I finally resurrected it and delved once more into its mysterious contents, I actually tore out one of the pages to throw away the evidence of my silly boy-dreams. But then I decided that my past was what it was - and that by tossing the pages I would be losing both my shameful secrets and also my sweet ones. So I kept the journal. 

   I turned it over and started afresh from the back - on the flip sides of the pages - and now I'm in the ironic place of writing my sweet Jesus-secrets on the very same pages I'd recorded what is now my shame. 

    I think the Christian life is a lot like that, actually. We all have a past, and some of it is ugly. But if you have accepted Christ into your heart, the Bible says that you are a new creation! The old - it's gone, and the new has come! 
    When you become a Christian, the notebook of your life does a 180. God totally forgives your past and presents you with a whole new slate of future to fill with beautiful Jesus moments! 
    Although God sees His redeemed child as white and pure, we humans tend to reach back to our past, remembering things that bring guilt and shame. Friends, God will never flip your life-journal back over! God wants to live this new life with you as though you had never sinned. Guilt is from the enemy, 100%. Since we are humans, we rember our past. Unlike God, we are fully capable of mulling over what "should have been". And let me tell you, Satan is all over that fact! Satan will flip your life-journal back over and underline your past failures as long as you let him. 
    Let me ask you this: has guilt ever fulfilled you? Have you ever become satisfied from mulling over sins of the past? 
    The sweet Jesus-journey doesn't work like that, friends! 

    When Satan wrestles your journal from your hands and flips it to the past, swing your sword, squeeze your eyes tight, and speak truth. God's word-truth is powerful, a double edged sword! Here Satan, try this on for size: "But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13b-14) 
    Did you catch that? Forget what is behind, sisters! God called you to a sweet Jesus-journey. Strain forward to reach that prize! 

September 11, 2013

Adventures in Unwinding

    How's school treating you guys? I'm pretty busy. Busy as in working every morning and some afternoons and laboring far into the evening (maybe not quite...) on school. Sometimes I feel like a hermit 'cause I'm always away from my family or shut in a quiet room to study. Sometimes, though, I get so caught up in my life that I forget that I'm actually part of another life... the life I'm supposed be living, loving others and pouring out myself for God's glory. Which, by the way, can be accomplished even with a hectic schedule.
    Anyway (can you tell I'm tired? My mind is going in sleepy-crazy circles as I write :P), one of my favorite things to do to unwind from my serious big girl life of jobs and school and future is to hang out with my sidekick in craziness, 'lil sis. (I shall refer to her as Ellie on this blog, which is the name she comments by)

    Sunday night we hunted down our socks and tugged on the 'ol galoshes to take a treck through the woods, visiting a couple apple trees. Half way down our quarter-mile-ish long drive way, I turned to see our neighbor's horses running down their pasture towards us. We stopped and petted them, of course. For quite a long time, actually. The sun was gorgeous that night, so we took our fair share of pictures too...

Okay, this one merits an explanation. See, I was eating an apple but wanted to get another one so Ellie could have one. The branch was high, like top-of-your-tippy-toes high, and poison ivy grows prolifically  on the ground. Since I couldn't set my apple down, it went in the pocket. :) 
I don't know what she's taking a picture of... but I like how her hair looks almost red in the light.

    Apples are wonderful things. First of all, they are yummy. And free, if you happen to have random apple trees on your property! Secondly, horses love them. Ellie, being the brilliant bulb she is, managed to give "pony" almost a whole apple at once. He spent several minutes rolling the thing around in his mouth, but somehow managed to eat it in the end.

    I, on the other hand, pulled out my trusty pocket knife and cut my core into a couple pieces, handing one to "Buster" who was almost hanging over the electric fence in excitement.

    I'm sure you all have been told to hold your hand flat when feeding horses, to keep them from assuming your fingers are carrots. Well, I've heard that a few times, and advised plenty of kids to do the same. It's a good idea, friends. A good idea.
    Apparently something was blocking the path of reason in my head on Sunday night, though, and I unconsciously decided to throw caution out the window. I could feel Buster's bottom lip as I was giving him a slice of apple, and for some reason I didn't promptly remove my hand. I wish I could have seen my face when I realized one of my fingers was clamped firmly in a horse's mouth. A bubble of panic ballooned as I started tugging my finger away, and the next thing I remember was Buster's confused look as my hand returned to me all in one piece.
    There was a dent in my finger. And it stayed there for a good five minutes. It hurt, but that was overshadowed by relief and my command to Ellie to take a picture of the new purple design - horse teeth - imprinted on my middle finger. Soon feeling and a full range of movement returned to my finger, and Ellie and I ran back to the house to watch Duck Dynasty. All in all, it was a good night. :) 

    I'm afraid this post is a product of a few too many 6. a.m. mornings, so I guess what I wanted you to get out of it can be summed up in two points: 
-Siblings can be great partners in crime - ahem, adventure. Spend time with your family! In my opinion, one of the best therapy there is for a frazzled brain is to find some laughter, fresh air, and freedom to be yourself. For me that means spending time with Ellie. What do you do to unwind?
-Hold your hand flat out when feeding horses. Coming from someone who knows. ;) 

September 3, 2013


    So, folks. Life. And lemons. But mostly life. It happens to all of us, and it's happening to me right now. The lemons part, I mean.
When summer is faded and frantic I try to make more of family evenings and every sunrise...

When I'm dragged always down by temptations I bow to, then straining ahead towards the goal is fogged by guilt from the enemy...
When school turns scary next Monday and I host a tug of war for brains vs. ease to play...

(Those are flashcards, btw. sigh.)

    When little sisters ask patient, if I'm "doing my b'og" and this blog-love of mine turns all goopy and mucky, skeeter filled and humid. It's a blog, not a bog, my mind whisper says, and I tug a foot out of sucking, thirsty mud. My foot escapes, but boots must be tasty, or juicy, or something. I teeter, a one-booted crane, then topple and fall.  Sometimes, sometimes one step forward doesn't put me three steps behind. In my life, a step can leave me floundering, right where I am, covered with filth, mud-tied to the ground. If you dissected my mind-body right then and there, you would find a lemon or two rolling around in my head.

    Sometimes God gives me lemonade, ready-made when I write. He pours His words into my awe-struck mind, and when I read His words, taste the sweetness, the lemonade gives me chills. 

    But ready-made is meant for ease, for enjoyment, not growth. Ready-made is too effortless, too sweet for a girl growing strong. So this week when I found a pile of lemons rolling around in my brain, it was hard. This week words didn't flow easy-sweet, and I puckered up inside. Two tries, no lemonade. 
   The first time I tried to write all I got was four sentences and a presiding sense of melancholy. (Seriously, friends, it was basically my word of the day. Ask 'lil sis.) Trial nĂºmero dos remained stuck somewhere between the truth and a lie, words that came from my mind but got mushed up so's I didn't know if I agreed with them on a page. Confusion, basically. 

    I tried, you see. I tried to whip up some ready-made. Twice I tried. 
But those tries, they were a knock off of what I longed for, God's ready-made. Two batches poured down the drain.

    Then God tapped my shoulder and soft smiled at me said, Ariel, blogs turn to bogs if what you write isn't what you are, what I've made you, put inside you. I'll give you words, but they may be small, yellow and sour. Ready-made isn't for growing strong girls. Here, have a lemon. Fresh-squeezed is refreshing - hard work, but refreshing.  So I wiped off my pucker and stammered out words of life, of lemons, of blogs and of bogs. And He made it lemonade. 

    Hard squeezed is different than ready-made, yes? Well, it felt different, to squeeze instead of pour. But now I'm stronger, after squeezing out my life, real, sour life out into the open. And now I know when ready-made is too sweet for my growth, I've got to swallow my pucker and squeeze out words of life, real and sour as it may be.

    Sometimes sweet doesn't cut it. Be real, girls. Use your lemons, sour as they may be, and trust God to do the magic making, the transformation to lemonade. If He gives you lemons, it's likely that He's fixing to make you stronger. Take on those hard things in God's power. Brace yourself and fight temptations in Jesus' name because your life, life to the fullest, depends on it. 

    Lord, just keep the lemons rolling in! This was the most awkward post I've put my hand to, but I know you've got a reason. Lemons. Wow. Boy would I have laughed if someone had told me the next post would be about them! So awkward. :P 

    So, girls, have you had an experience like this? When you totally let down your hair (that means you were completely real, not caring what others thought) and experienced God's power to transform?

    Lemons. Where to next, Lord?!?!