Monday, March 15, 2010

A Platform Of Praise

It started off as an introduction for the gathering of tithes and offerings...but ended up being something so much more than that. (and it took over the entire service) Our Pastor's wife, DeDe Vigil, happens to be a great speaker/teacher, but also stands as our Praise & Worship Leader at Victory City Church. Pastor DeDe was going to simply create an introduction for our time of Tithes & Offerings...and I am so grateful that her introduction was not just an introduction. It actually became the message for our entire service with the offering taking place at the end of the service.

She pointed out how so many of us live our lives in a state of complaint... "I hate my job." "I don't have enough money." "Agh, my marriage is just so hard." "I can't control my kids." "I'm stressed." "My health is terrible." There are so many things to complain about in life...and then we wonder why God hasn't stepped in and corrected it for us. But we tend to be the biggest blockade with all of our complaining.

Ever noticed how God never seems to move when you spend so much time complaining? I certainly have been guilty of complaining and whining about how things are not the way I would like them to be...and I am desperately going to try to change that.

The word JUDAH means Praise... And who was in charge of praise in heaven? Lucifer was the angel that God gave the position of guarding & leading praise and worship at God's throne. Talk about responsibility! And when God cast him out of heaven there was a very large void left to be filled.

The word LEVI means To Join... The tribe of Levi held the position of high honor...they were the ones in charge of presenting the offerings to God in the Holy of Holies. If you were not a Levi priest and you went into the Holy of Holies then that step in was the last step that you took. It was a sacred place...a place where man and God came face to face. They were our representatives, prior to Jesus, to join God's people in worship by presenting the sacrifices at the alter.

Ever wondered why we always put things up on pedestals?
Why we applaude and rain praise onto others?
We were created to praise and worship.

God created us to fill the void that was left in heaven...and when we praise and worship God, there is an amazing feeling that comes over you. I mean, when you just take the time to tell Him thank you for even the smallest things...and find yourself appreciating the things that you are provided and given...well, just try it and see the difference that it begins to make in your life. There is always something in our lives that we can express thanks for. Some days it just may be that the sun is out...or for a friend in our life.

As Pastor DeDe says, God moves in's the fuel that opens up our lives for God to move in the areas that are lacking or needing change. Praise allows us to change our atmosphere and cause emotions and mountains in our lives to become mole hills that God easily overcomes. Praise gives us clear perspective on the things that are happening in our lives.

There is so much for me to praise God for... For food in my stomach; the clothes on my body; my health; my husband, kids & family; for the friends in my life that inspire and uphold me; a roof over my head; the strength to deal with each day; my husband's job in this crazy economy; for taking me through hard times when I didn't see the way out; for giving me dreams to chase after and obtain; for being my peace when everything around me becomes insane... FOR SIMPLY BEING GOD.

THE CHALLENGE...find anything or everything that you can be grateful for. Thank God for it...and see what happens in your life and being. You just might be surprised.

I have looked around at others so many times and wondered why on earth they didn't have to struggle at times...why they hold more change in their bank accounts...why they seem to just get everything they want...and all the time leading lives that just don't bring any sort of praise or glory to God in any way, shape or form whatsoever. So when Pastor DeDe shared this Psalm, I could identify...and see that no matter what, praise deserves to be given to God...having Him in my life is more valuable than anything else.

Psalm 73 (New Living Translation)

A psalm of Asaph.

1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. 2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. 4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”

12 Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. 13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. 15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. 20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. 21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. 27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

Chile Verde Chicken Sammy

When I made a batch of Chile Verde Con Pollo, there was about half of it left...perfect for trying something new the next day at lunch time.
This is such a nice change from the typical chicken sammy. A little messy, but oh so worth it!
View complete posting: Chile Verde Chicken Sammy

!!! Holiday Item Sale !!!

Here is one of my absolute favorite online stores...and if you've never looked through Lillian Vernon's site, then it's about time you did. Lillian Vernon is running a Holiday Sale right now...on all of their holiday items. As an added bonus to the sale prices, all orders of $40 or more can receive an additional 10% off the final price with a special code!

View complete posting: !!! Holiday Item Sale !!!

Chile Verde Con Pollo

My Mother-in-law blessed me with her recipe for Chile Verde...traditionally made with succulent pork shoulder...and I decided to make a little twist to it by using chicken breast instead. I was thinking more less prep time and about my waistline...okay, it was more about all of the prep time.
Chile Verde Con Pollo Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 25-30 minutes Servings: 4-6 Ingredients: 3 Chicken Breasts, bonless & skinless 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil 1/4-1/2 Whole Yellow Onion, diced 3 Garlic Cloves 1 – 4 oz. can Green Chiles, whole or diced 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper, ground 1 to 1 1/2 cup Water 2 Tbsp. Flour Directions: Cube chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Set aside. Over medium high heat, add canola oil to a non-stick skillet. When oil begins to ripple, add chicken and spread over the bottom of the skillet. Smash and peel garlic cloves. Mince or use a garlic press and add to the chicken. Allow the garlic to sit on top of the chicken. Chop onion. Add onions to skillet and allow to sit on top of chicken and garlic. Slice and chop green chiles (if whole) and add to skillet. Season with salt & pepper. Stir. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add water, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove 2-3 tablespoons of the juices and place in a heat proof bowl or measuring cup. Add flour and mix until there are no lumps remaining. Return liquid to skillet and stir. Cover and allow to simmer 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt & pepper) if necessary. Serve alone or with tortilla chips & Enjoy.

The Destruction Zone 4 ~ Gum Meets Hair

This past weekend I happened to be hit with food poisoning which means that I ended completely incapacitated Sunday afternoon. Which no one would think is a bad thing for the kiddles since there are three other adults in the house to watch them. What could possibly go wrong?

We managed to get the family to church for our morning service, after which I fulfilled my promise to Grace & Rose of handing over half a piece of gum to each of them. This is always done reluctantly because I know that Grace is going to end up pulling hers out of her mouth and stringing it across her face, hands, shirts, etc. She just can't keep herself from playing with gum.

View complete posting: The Destruction Zone 4 ~ Gum Meets Hair

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Destruction Zone 4 ~ Gum Meets Hair

This past weekend I happened to be hit with food poisoning which means that I ended completely incapacitated Sunday afternoon. Which no one would think is a bad thing for the kiddles since there are three other adults in the house to watch them. What could possibly go wrong? We managed to get the family to church for our morning service, after which I fulfilled my promise to Grace & Rose of handing over half a piece of gum to each of them. This is always done reluctantly because I know that Grace is going to end up pulling hers out of her mouth and stringing it across her face, hands, shirts, etc. She just can’t keep herself from playing with gum. We get home, I retire to the bedroom (wasn’t feeling well at all), and I leave my kiddles and their gum in the care of the other adults in the house. I have learned from this mistake…no one ever remembers that there is a little one running around with gum in their mouth…or missing the gum that was previously in their mouth. I am basically completely useless for the remainder of the day and night…when bedtime comes around I basically kiss my darlings, pray with them and then say good night. The next morning is when I am hit with the realization that my little Rose has had a wad of gm in her hair the entire night…this is revealed when I go to brush her hair and instead of the mass that I thought was simply a tangle holds the comb and I see that it is indeed purple. Purple?! What did she have that was purple?? Oh, the gum that I had given to her after church. Of course, gum wad in the hair…just what I was hoping to deal with when we’re running like mad to get out of the house (and I’m still feeling ill). Typical Monday Morning. Rose follows me into the kitchen and I head to the pantry looking for my mother’s secret ingredient to battle gum wads. That weapon…Peanut Butter. Bwahahah! Yep, peanut butter. Let’s just say that there were quite a few times that my brother and I got gum stuck in our hair. The trick is to just be as patient as possible and let the oils from the peanut butter do their magic. So I start massaging the peanut butter into the wad of gum and try to work hairs out of the tangled mass as carefully as I can…each time wiping and gum that is still on the hair off onto a nearby napkin. This is a tedious task, but I’d rather do it than chop about 4 inches of hair off of my darling Rose. I have to say that I did enjoy her constantly telling me, “I so very sorry Momma. I not mean to get gum in my hair.” In the end, I now have an appreciation for my Momma’s patience in dealing with my gum issues when I was a little kiddle. She was one very patient Momma.

St. Patrick's Day Goodies

This is the time of year that I just can't help but break-out my dvd Darby O'Gill & The Little People...this movie was my childhood introduction to (and I fell in love with) Sean Connery. But I need something to go along with my movie...a little something or other that would make the Leprechaun King do his exuberant jig.

Here's where the problem lies, I've been SO busy lately that I haven't even got myself together to do any new St. Patty's Day recipes! *gasp* I know, it's terrible, BUT I thought I'd share a few recipes that I've found that can help bring a little more to the table this year. Who knows? They just might become some of your favorites for this holiday.

Leprechaun Rainbow Punch @ ~ A kid-friendly drink that's great fun for adults too. For A Listing Of Yummy Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes, CLICK HERE
Beer Waffles with Cinnamon Caramel Apples ~ Brown Eyed Baker ~ Start the morning off with a little beer you say? With this recipe, why not?!
Irish Soda Bread @ Brown Eyed Baker ~ It's St. Patty's Day, you have to have it.
Irish Shillelagh Sticks @ Little ~ Perfect side to Irish Stew or a cheesy dip. Roasted Potato Wedges with Cheddar Sauce @ ~ Great little appetizer for your Irish feast 
Sheppard's Pie With Cheesy Potatoes @ The Chatty Mom ~ This is one of my recipes and one of our family favorites. Since I'm the only corned beef & cabbage lover in our little family, this is going to be our St. Patty's Day dinner. **You could easily substitute Guinness® for the wine in this recipe! 
Oven Irish Stew @ ~ An alternative to the traditional corned beef & cabbage. 
Guinness® Corned Beef @ ~ A great alternative preparation for corned beef.
Colcannon - Irish Mashed Potatoes @ If you love cabbage (like I do) and potatoes, then you've got to try Colcannon! 
Wild Rice & Barley Stuffed Mushrooms @ ~ Such a great side dish or appetizer. 
Guinness® Milk Chocolate Ice Cream @ Brown Eyed Baker ~ This is an ice cream recipe made in heaven for chocolate & beer lovers alike.
Bailey's Irish Cream & Chocolate Tapioca Pudding @ The Chatty Mom ~ Yeah, this is one of mine...I love Bailey's Irish Cream and I am a die-hard chocolate lover...couple that with my childhood love of tappioca pudding and you have a winner! 
Rainbow Cupcakes and Ice Cream @ Hoosier Homemade ~ If you're planning on having a few people get together for a celebration, this is a great dessert/fun centerpiece! (you have to see the whole rainbow in it's entirety) 
Shamrock Pretzels @ Hoosier Homemade~ My kiddles love pretzels...SO these are definitely on my TO DO list for St. Patty's Day! 
Lucky Green Velvet Baby Cakes ~ Who needs red velvet cake when there's green velvet cupcakes?
Mint Cream Dream @ LA TIMES ~ Need something light in calories? Here you go! 
Gilliland's Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel-Whiskey Sauce @ LOS ANGELES TIMES ~ If you love bread puddings, or even if you don't, you're going to love this!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stay Out Of My Kitchen!

This morning I found myself reading Dear Abby's column as I tried to get my eyes to focus and start my day with a nice hot cup of coconut creme coffee. What I found was a heartwarming tribute to a mother-in-law who had passed away two years prior. Her daughter-in-law was contacting Dear Abby in hopes of getting copies of her Keepers Booklet to include as gifts at a bridal shower she was throwing for her niece. The idea was sparked by the little poem her mother-in-law had taken from the Keepers Booklet and had framed in her kitchen.

View complete posting: Stay Out Of My Kitchen!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Really? 6 Years And Counting Already?!

Can it really be true? Have 6 years passed since Charming & I said "I Do"? Six years since this musical-theater loving/country raised girl and her tatted-out/WWF loving/gang area raised man tied the knot? Where has the time gone? How does it only feel like a few months ago we were getting dressed and rushing for photos on our "Big Day"? It's funny, the smell of the flowers in my bouquet are still fresh in my mind...the taste of our amazing cake from Cinderella Cakes in Costa Mesa still makes my mouth water...the sounds of family enjoying themselves...the look of Charming's face as I walked down the aisle...and the sheer joy that on that day we were beginning a journey together. I love wedding days! There is so much hope and promise on that much joy and complete elation...and amidst the chaos of getting the whole thing together, there is that magical feeling that just overcomes everything that "might" go not exactly as planned.

View complete posting: Really? 6 Years And Counting Already?!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Favorite Traveling Potty

You're on the road, in the middle of nowhere, and *DUM-DUM DUM-DUM* there is the dreaded cry from the back seat, "Mommy, I need to go pee-pee!" For anyone who has to take a road trip with a little one either being potty trained or just under the age of 6, this is a must have in the car. It's like a glowing beacon of "I Can Save Your Interior".

We regularly take 9-10 hour trips back to Southern California and I can not even begin to tell you just how valuable this little Potette Plus portable potty seat has been for us. It has litteraly saved our Sorento from a bad dowsing of ___...well, you fill in the blank. And the nice thing is that not only is it a portable seat for the car, it also is a portable potty seat for public toilets! That with a little spray can of Lysol and we're in the clear for the public potty scene. Wooohoo!

Let me just say, I know that the background is really dark...but assembling a potty on a kitchen counter or table just didn't seem right to our bedspread became a logical choice.

Super simple to unfold the seat "legs" and with a little push lock them into position.

The initial package comes with a few of these baggies that have an absorbant liner at the bottom. It's basically a plastic shopping bag that is just a little smaller with a small diaper in the middle.

You lay one of the baggies with the absorbant bottom in the middle,

Gently pull the sides of the baggie over the edges of the seat

And loop the handles through the slotted area of the legs on each side.

Voila! That was easy. One potty seat ready for action!

And when the kiddle is done doing their business, just undo the bag handles from the legs of the seat, bring them up and tie off the bag. (I carry an extra plastic bag from Target (or any thick shopping bag) to put any potty seat baggies in...just to be sure that there isn't any spillage) Then toss the rubbish away in the next available trash receptacle.

Then what I like to do is get the Potette ready for it's next use...just don't loop the handles of the bag onto the legs of the Potette.

And then store it in it's little drawstring bag. Isn't that nice? They include a carrying bag.

OR if you are in a public restroom, you can simply fold out the legs and lock them into place to become handles for your little kiddle to hold when they are on the potty. (keeping little hands off of the public potty seat)

Seriously, this is the #1 item that I tell anyone who has a little kiddle learning to use the potty, "You have to get this!"

They can easily be found at Babies R Us along with the replacement potty seat baggies. (or you could use a lick plastic shopping bag, but make sure there are no holes, and place a small diaper in the bottom...that works too)

Restlessness ~ Breaking The Yoke

My Pastor, Chris Vigil, was wrapping up his series this past weekend and just really hit home a point that is incredibly true. The scripture that he referred to was Genesis 27:39-40 where Abraham is replying to Esau’s request for a blessing (as he gave his birthright away to his brother).

Genesis 27:39-40
(New American Standard Bible)

39Then Isaac his father answered and said to him,
”Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.
40“By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless,
That you will break his yoke from your neck.”

I have read this scripture so many times before, but it never really hit me until this past Sunday…

View Complete Posting: Breaking The Yoke

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breaking The Yoke

My Pastor, Chris Vigil, was wrapping up his series this past weekend and just really hit home a point that is incredibly true. The scripture that he referred to was Genesis 27:39-40 where Abraham is replying to Esau's request for a blessing (as he gave his birthright away to his brother).

Genesis 27:39-40 (New American Standard Bible)
39Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, "Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. 40"By your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck."

I have read this scripture so many times before, but it never really hit me until this past Sunday..."But it shall come about when you become restless, that you will break his yoke from your neck." I know that a yoke has been used for centuries to manipulate animals to till the fields and keep them from straying from the path that the driver desires to go...but I had never had the revelation that this scripture holds. It's when we become restless that we begin to look around, see the other options, think outside of our little box and have the ability to change the direction that our lives are going.

You may be thinking, "Duh...that's not much of a revelation." Oh, but it is. We live our lives complaining about our jobs, our family, our marriage, our weight, our friends...and yet all the time it is within our own ability to change all of it. It's not just making a u-turn from the things that may be driving us crazy, irking us to death, but it's the attitude that we carry while dealing with the things that drive us crazy and are irking us to death.

For instance, I have been incredibly frustrated with my 5-year-old, Grace, and the fact that she has had a rotten attitude every time Momma & Daddy tell her she can't do something or need to do something. It has been driving me crazy. And I have been praying about it, mostly because I can't stand the Momma that I become when I let her get to me...that's not the Momma that I have always pictured myself as being...and it's not the family that I want to create. SO I started changing my perception of how to handle things...Like taking a deep breath, saying to myself "I will not explode" over and over again in my mind and then addressing Grace in a low calm tone (as calm as I can get).

Now, it didn't change things right away, and in fact we are still working on things, but it did bring down my level of stress that I experience every single day. And because I was sick and tired of dealing with things the way they were, I made a change. And Grace has reacted to my change a little more positively every day since I started.

I know that I cannot just change another person...that's not my job to do, it's their job to make their own adjustments to their life and personality, but I can change how I process and react to things that another person does to me. If I explode, have my stress level sent through the roof and am screaming at the top of my lungs, it's not another person's's MINE. I'm the one who reacted the way I did to whatever has been put before me. Now, another person may have done something wrong, but the way I react is solely my responsibility...not anything that I can put on them.

That's just an example of one area that we have the power to change. Some others are taking the time to bring a little more care and romance into our marriages, spend time focusing on the interests of our children and taking part in some with them (or steering them carefully away from others), taking that 30 minutes that we might spend on a TV show and turning it into pampering time (facial, polishing nails, etc.) that we used to do prior to the craziness of life....there are so many little changes that we can make to make our lives more like the life that we have always dreamed of having.

Thank you Pastor Chris! This was a revelation that I am holding close to my's Life Changing.


Poor little Grace is getting re-psyched for getting "picas" on Tuesday. "Picas" is what my family calls shots, thorns or anything that pokes you. She was supposed to get them yesterday, the chicken pox vaccine, but since she's been fighting a cold (and the rest of the family has been too) Momma figured that it just wasn't the right day to add more for her immune system to deal with. What really stinks is that she wants to go back to school so badly, but won't be allowed into the classroom until she gets this stinkin' shot. Which reminds me, I have to send an email to her teacher to let her know why Grace hasn't been in class this week...just in case she doesn't know the school's restriction. So after making the call to the doctor's office to reschedule I had to go explain to my 5-year-old that she wasn't getting her "picas" yesterday. To which she exclaimed, "Yippee! No picas!", and clapped. Then I had to tell her that she was getting them on Tuesday instead..."Oh man!" I couldn't help it, I had to laugh. I love my Grace. She took the news with, eh, grace and then reminded me that after getting her "picas" I promised to take her to the yogurt shop for some frozen chocolate yogurt with chocolate chips. Yes, I have committed the cardinal sin of bribing my kiddle to be brave enough to get her "picas". But I remember what it was like when I was little...I hated shots, and the doctor's office...even though my doctor gave us little toys and a lollipop for being brave. Well, I'll update how successful our day is when the chicken pox vaccine invades my daughter's body on Tuesday. Lord give me the strength to hold her while the shot comes her way. Literally...I mean, the last time she bent the needle! How do you deal with getting your kiddles ready for shot visits? Sid The Science Kid: It\'s Gonna Help A Whole Lot ~ Thanks Mindy for the link!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hot Honey Lemonade

Our family's "go to" when the Sickie's start showing up. A great source of vitamin C and antibiotics in a soothing hot lemonade. The kiddles love it and so do us adults. There's just something comforting about it...and it smells & tastes so good too. (almost like having a candy treat when you're not supposed to)

View complete posting: Hot Honey Lemonade

When "The Sickies" Visit

Agh...why is it that "The Sickies" always seem to make their visits during inopportune moments. I mean, as a Momma there really aren't gooddays for "The Sickies" to show their ugly faces...but there definitely are days when there isn't so much going on. And it seems like they never really leave...they just move from person to person to taunt and torture the whole family. Again and again and again...see where I'm going with this?

My little family has been fighting the Sniffles, the Stuffies, the Coughs and the Exhaustions since the beginning of the year. Fighting and fighting and trying to pull out all of the stops to get the battles...and ultimately the war... to come to an end. END ALREADY!

View complete posting: When "The Sickies" Visit

Three Bean Salad

Sometimes I just want a salad that is missing the main ingredient that we all associate with "salad"...on those days I turn to legumes instead. Here's a great side dish for BBQ or an afternoon it's a great source of protein from our much forgotten legumes.

This is the ultimate quick & simple side dish that has NO COOKING required! Woohoo!

View complete posting: Three Bean Salad

Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms

Charming & I are big fans of sauteed mushrooms...we just love them.
And if I'm making steaks or pork chops, then I better make sure that I have some mushrooms ready to hop into a pan or dinner just won't be complete.

This is such a quick and simple side dish to have and it delivers every time. So quick in fact, that by the time you finish reading this you'd be at least half way through the cooking process.

View complete posting: Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms

Peanut Butter Banana Bagels

My little Grace LOVES bagels...anything that is sweet or cheesy and she's a happy little girl. Typically her bagel half gets topped with just a little butter and some cream cheese...but one morning things took a turn. A good turn.

Grace loves to help make her bagels in the morning, and other than any knifing skills that may be needed, I happily encourage her to "cook".

View complete posting: Peanut Butter Banana Bagels