Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two of my favorite spring go-to salads.

Remember how this was supposed to be a food blog? haha! Well I actually have two very simple recipes to share with you! When we get back from a vacation I crave lighter eating after all of the restaurants we just visited. In Arizona I consumed bags of tortilla chips with guacamole and at Disneyland I had burgers with sweet potato fries! Now that I've returned home it's time to eat healthier! I like to make really big salads and keep the leftovers in the fridge for easy lunches during the week. When we were in Scottsdale my youngest wanted caprese salad so badly but when we ordered it there was pesto on top of it and she's allergic to pine nuts so I promised her that I'd make one especially for her as soon as we were home. I make mine deconstructed because then my girls can pick out the ingredients they want and I can add loads of avocado to my own. I truly think that avocados are one of the best foods around- especially in California! Here's some simple recipes for you to try!

Lemony pasta salad:

your favorite package of spaghetti noodles- ours are gluten free, cooked according to package directions

For the chicken:

1 package of chicken breasts (any size)
2 T olive oil
lemon pepper, to taste
dried basil, to taste
3 cloves of garlic, minced

For the salad:

1 c cherry tomatoes
1 c yellow teardrop tomatoes
green beans, blanched (a handful)
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 c mixed olives
1 c shredded arugula

For the dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T lemon zest
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

Meyer Lemon olive oil, optional

Saute the chicken in the olive oil adding the lemon pepper, basil, and garlic while cooking until cooked through.

Add the chicken to the cooked noodles.

Add the next 6 ingredients to the noodles.

Mix the dressing in a small dish and then toss with the salad mix.

I like to drizzle meyer lemon olive oil over the top after it's been tossed.



Deconstructed Caprese

2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 haas avocado, sliced
2 balls burrata cheese, sliced
large handful of fresh basil, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
fresh lemon juice
olive oil
freshly cracked pepper
sea salt

Arrange tomatoes, avocado, and burrata onto a plate. Sprinkle the basil over the top. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over the top, to taste. Add pepper and sea salt.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

In All Things!

Last Saturday we drove from Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon. I've always wanted to see it, kind of a bucket list thing, and it literally blew my mind! Visiting the Grand Canyon wasn't what I thought it would be, I honestly thought we'd just drive right up to it and look down but that's not how it goes. When you arrive you pay to get into the parking area and then you walk to kind of a touristy type area; we were laughing because we had driven 5 hours, then paid to get to the parking lot, walked to the main village area, and STILL hadn't gotten a glimpse of the canyon! We were confused so we hopped onto a bus which drove us to a main hiking area where we hiked about a third of the way down. Upon returning to the top we found out there was a trail we could walk all the way back to our car which was about 6 miles, so we decided to do it! The blessing of this is that we ended up walking the path right at sunset and truly it was the most remarkable thing I've ever seen! Photos could NEVER capture the majesty of this place, nor the sound of the wind as it loudly rips through the canyon; amazing! Many areas along the way lead right up to the edge of cliffs and I gasped so many times as my family would get closer to the edge than I was comfortable with- I drove them crazy, haha. To say that it was breathtaking is an understatement! I've seen many amazing manmade things in my time, the eiffel tower, Big Ben, The Vatican, etc. and NOTHING compares to the beauty and grandeur of What God has created with the Grand Canyon! As I would walk along it's edge I was so humbled that God created something so huge and majestic and yet he cares about the tiniest detail of my life! It's so amazing to think about and it caused us to stop to worship him. There's a picture here of Neal leading his girls in worship to our King and if you look at it Emma is looking to him to show her what to do, leading by example. Okay, as I type all of this I'm feeling pretty choked up! This is how we started our trip together as a family.

Fast forward to the end of our vacation...

This was our first road trip since we've been married. I had flown in early to see one of my oldest and dearest friends and then Neal drove our car down with the girls to pick me up at her house. I then joined them on the road trip home which we drove straight and just took turns driving and sleeping through the night. I put on worship music and decided to spend time with The Lord while I drove. In the quiet I began to reminisce about my trip and I have some things to share.

So... I have this obsession with the sun. Not only do I live in the rainiest state in the nation but we also happen to be really close to the water so I probably live through at least 300 grey days a year. People in Seattle are funny, we drop everything when the sun comes out, not wanting to miss a moment of it! I am COMPLETELY this way! Because of this I've spent more time than you can imagine dreaming (obsessing) about moving to a sunnier location so I planned a family trip to Scottsdale to see if it was a place we might move. When we left home it was 45 degrees and in Scottsdale it was over 95 for several days and I'm ashamed to admit that I was HOT! Like painfully, can't believe I'm admitting this, HOT!!! My youngest had a very difficult time in the heat throwing up several times, breaking out all over to the point where her cheeks swelled out like a cute little chipmunk. I always assumed that if you put me in the heat I would just acclimate immediately like a gecko but that didn't happen and it still surprises me. So we decided to check out of our hotel in Arizona and get one in Anaheim where we surprised our girls with a day at Disneyland! As soon as we hit the LA area I cooled off! It was about 75 degrees with a light breeze and it felt like perfection to me; until we hit the traffic!! It literally took an entire hour through LA to get in and another hour to get out; no place is perfect I guess.

Now sit with me in the car while I'm driving through the night and allowing the Lord to speak to my heart. As I drove along God started talking to me about my "I would just be happier if..." attitude.

I would just be happier if:

I lived in the sun and woke up to blue skies every day.

If I had a smaller yard to maintain.

If I could build more muscle.

If I this...

If I had that...

The preverbal dangling carrot.

And I realized that God just wanted me to be content and grateful right where I am, EVEN IF IT'S RAINING, and if you know me that is so painful to write! Rain has been my nemesis for a long, long time.

If you follow my instagram account you know that my name is hawaiimama808 and it's brought confusion with people thinking I live in Hawaii or wondering where in the world that name came from. When I came up with it we were at Waikiki and it just seemed as good a name as any but since I don't live in Hawaii, I just love it with my whole heart, I was wondering if I should change my ig name. As I was driving and talking this all through with God I thought, well it can't be cali girl either because I don't live there as well so I guess I'd just better go with suffering in seattle, haha!!

And then...

And then...

there was this little nudge in my heart.

In ALL things.

um what?

In ALL things.

What do you mean?

In ALL things be grateful.

In ALL things find contentment.

I am with you, I know what's best for you.


Really? So I'm not leaving Seattle?

In ALL things.

OH but it's SO grey!!

In ALL things!

Then why did you make me love the sun so much??


Do you trust me?

I do.

then In ALL things.


And then I read this today. I remember saying to Neal that my Bible just opened here so I'm just going to read it.

Matthew 6:25-26

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion {or if you live in the rain or sun} There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance that the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God {I love that part!}....

If God pays such attention to the appearance of wildflowers- most of which are never even seen- don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you do his best for you? {So I guess he knows where the best place for me to live is} What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting {a house in the sun} so that you can respond to God's GIVING... {in all things}

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW, and don't get worked up on what may or may not happen tomorrow.

In all things!

So I guess I'm changing my instagram name. :)

In all things was taken. nuts! So I had to go with in all these things. Still good! Pin It

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I wanna sing a new song!

I just returned home from a beautiful weekend in Texas at the Hope Spoken conference! What a blessing to have been able to attend! I was blessed from beginning to end. It was so special to finally get to meet Tiffini in person and also be reunited with Jeanne, Becky, Tracy while meeting many new friends! Shannan blew my mind with her story of small- so inspiring! We can all live a little smaller so that God can make His kingdom bigger! I told her that I need a lot more of her in my life! For more visit her blog here- she's a special one! When she began to introduce herself to the ladies, Jeanne and I whooped it up for her in the back of the room! We all giggled! She said it was like her old high school chums we're rooting her on. I've been so blessed with the caliber of friendships I've made online! Five years ago I probably would've been skeptical of online relationships but now I know that it's completely possible and some of my favorite, most inspiring people in my life I've met through the internet!

For me, the running theme throughout the conference was hope. (duh) Each and every girl that was brave enough to share her testimony was an example of making it through the hard stuff, that there's light at the end of the tunnel, and that it won't be this way forever. It was so encouraging and brave of every woman that shared! As I've returned home I've been remembering many of the inspiring stories as they've been going over and over in my head and it's such a beautiful reminder that God is in control, that no weapon formed against you can prosper, and that if God is for you who can be against you.

I remember back when my own life was controlled by fear and I laid in bed one night in total desperation asking God to do "whatever it takes for me to be free." That's when everything in my life came crashing down. As I look back to those crazy hard and sad days I realize that he had to tear down the old foundation of lies that I believed so that He could rebuild me with truth. Lies that constantly shouted in my ear that said things like, "no one likes you", "you're too loud", you're not good enough", "you will always be picked last." It was more painful than I can put into words to see that I had built my life on lies. The fear completely controlled me, causing me to consider it with every decision I made. Fear was my ruler instead of Jesus and that's a miserable way to live. I recently was blessed to give my testimony for the first time to a group of MOPS moms last week and as I read through my old journal and blog I wrote "there's no peace in fear." I had allowed fear to become the song of my life and that song dragged behind me like a 500 pound ball and chain.

But the miracle is that with God the old song of lies can be turned into a NEW SONG OF LIFE! He can teach you how to turn all your hurts and fears over to him and he's more than able to fill every crack and hole in you heart with life, freedom, and abundance! 1 Peter 5:7 says to "cast your cares on the Lord, for he CARES FOR YOU." He is the safest place in the world for you. He delights in you and can fill your life with JOY again! The Bible also says that He's close to the broken hearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) If this is you, I encourage you to be brave and ask God to do "whatever it takes for you to be free." and he will honor your request! TRUST him with it! Remember He WILL take care of you; He WILL fill your life with a new song.

I'd like to share this song with you. It says I want to sing a new song! And then the end of the song says that your new song is "HALLELUJAH" because when you've found freedom and joy in Jesus you just can't help it! You feel so grateful and so full of abundant life that you truly have a new song to sing and it begins with Hallelujah as you thank Him for peace, love, restoration, life, and joy! He's so, so very good! Trust Him with it all! He cares for you!

And last bit of business; Hope Spoken is scheduled for next year in Dallas March 27-29 and I suggest you mark this on your calendars! You will not want to miss this event! These girls pull out all the stops when it comes to blessing you and it's so beautiful in every way! See you there! :)

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Monday, March 17, 2014

So what then say you to these things?

Last year I was blessed to have a group of 14 sixth grade girls whom I taught on Tuesday nights throughout the school year. Junior high was a very difficult time in my life for me and so many insecurities that I can continue to struggle with today started back in the 7th grade at only 12 years old. My heart for these girls was that they would come to know the one true God in their lives and to KNOW BEYOND A SHADOW OF DOUBT that they can lean on him, count on him, rest in him during the difficult days that might lie ahead. Our theme for the entire year was found in Romans 8:31 which says, "IF GOD is for YOU, then WHO can be against you!" It is my heart for these girls that no matter if they aren't picked for the volleyball team, or if they can't find a friend to sit with at lunch, or if a boy tells them they aren't cute, or if they struggle with their grades, ANYTHING; that they can turn to God for help. I wanted this verse to seep into the deepest recess of their heart in a way that my sweet girls would NEVER DOUBT the width, the depth, the height, the boundless love that God has for them. I want His everlasting love to fill them so that when times are rough, if they only ever remembered ONE THING that I taught that it would be that GOD IS FOR THEM no matter who or what might seem to be against them.

If I had these girls sitting with me in my living room this morning I would want to add to that they can be courageous in His love because the Bible says that we are more than conquerors IN HIM who loves us. I would want to hug each of them and tell them that if they've been hurt, or if they've made a mistake and the enemy is lying to them and telling them they've gone to far and can never be forgiven I would stand for them and say, NO! The Bible CLEARLY states that God is for YOU. So it doesn't matter about your past, it doesn't matter if you just messed up this morning, it doesn't matter!! NOTHING can separate us from the love of God!!

Psalm 139: 7-12 The Message

"Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you."

You can't stray to far, or mess up to badly, he's there. If you're lonely, he's there. You don't have to carry guilt or shame, right now, just where you are you can turn to him for help and TRUST him because he loves you with an everlasting love.

You know, I'm a total sinner and I need Jesus! I'm so thankful that nothing can separate me from his love! Not even my sin because of the forgiveness he bought on the cross! That's so crazy to me!! Because truly, I don't deserve it and there's nothing I can do to earn it. It's this knowledge that changes me, that makes me want to be a blessing and hopefully reflect his love. I'm not perfect, it's really utterly ridiculous that God would choose to use me if you really knew me, yet he does.

This morning I clicked on this you tube video of tyler perry at whitney's memorial service and was pretty much jumping up and down in my kitchen by the end of this! I hope you'll watch it, it's only a little over 4 minutes, yet what he says is life changing! He brings up my life verse for the girls in a way that I had missed something before. I had missed such an important thing at the beginning of the verse which says, "so what shall you say?" As if to say that there is NOTHING you can say to me that will convince me otherwise because God loves me, he's FOR me, there's purpose for me, there's nowhere I can go that's out of his reach or away from his love. So if you speak against me I say to you, "so what then say you to these things? If God is for me who can be against me!"

And knowing God loves me FILLS ME and inspires me to live courageously!

But Tyler says it better than me!

You can buy this incredibly awesome Live Courageously T shirt HERE! Pin It

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I'm an auntie again!

My baby brother has become a father and it's the coolest thing to watch! I always knew he'd make a great dad just by how protective he's always been of my own girls. He and my sister-in-law have always been the most artistic and urban of all of us, living in the city whether it's LA or Seattle and have done some incredible traveling all over the world. I've always admired their gusto for chasing after their dreams and it's encouraged me more than almost anything to run after mine. For a time when they lived down in Southern Cali they literally only lived about 5 minutes from my Tracy girl which was so amazing to me as it was so easy to spend time with both of my peeps when visiting.

I love this little monkey! He's a tiny one right now and there's a part of me that doesn't ever want him to get any bigger! He's like holding a perfect porcelain doll! He's one of the most beautiful babies I've ever seen! But then again I seem to say this about all the babies as they so easily capture my heart!

While shooting this little munchkin yesterday there was this beautiful golden light that shown right through the window of the door to my tiny study and literally made my nephew glow! I'm so in love with him and with these photos. It's such a blessing to watch my brother and sister become parents! I love seeing their hearts swelling right out of their chests for this little angel! It blesses me!

Oh and I should probably give a "what WHAT" to my mom who crocheted the gorgeous grey baby blanket he's cuddled in! She's made a blanket for every one of her grand babies which is so extra special! It's a keepsake we'll all hang onto for our grand babies! :) Pin It

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Setting up House for Spring 2014

It's that rainy time of year where I start pulling out my hair and longing for blue skies! It's my hardest time of year and I think that by May or June many around me are plugging their ears and singing, "lalalalala" so that they don't have to listen to my complaining any longer. I long for sun this time of year and start bugging my dear Arizona friends and family to invite me to come for a visit. :) I can even be found searching through the windermere website looking for properties in Scottsdale and wondering what my house could sell for. This is actually a complete waste of my time right now as this would not be the time for us to move!

Earlier this year I started this pinterest board I entitled "my vision" where I just post anything that really tugs at my heart strings. Do you know what I've found? I LOVE the sea! and Sunshine! And family and friends! And summer! I am not a winter mouse. I suppose none of this will surprise any of you, but it did surprise me that I pretty much pin the sunshine and SEA and not the desert which is where I've been house searching when I dream, just makes me think a little. Also, the other day I had a photo shoot at the beach and it was a rare sunny day in February around here. I was wearing my flip flops and my beachy jeans with my straw cowboy hat and the smell of the sea combined with my toes in the sand made me feel so, so very happy!! And then last night it hit 60 degrees and the sun was bright and shining so we popped open a bottle of red wine and grilled tons of filipino meets and ate until I thought I'd pop open, enjoying the sea breeze blowing in through the windows!

As I get older I've figured out what's important to me in a home; things that have meaning to me. I have a large jar of shells that I've been collecting on vacations for years! I MUST have amazing smelling candles that fill my home with fresh scent! I love bringing life in from the garden and at this time of year when there's no flowers I place cut rosemary in vases. One of my favorite things is my big jar of wine corks because each cork represents a slow night chatting with my husband, or a night of fellowship with my girl friends, or some are even brought home from vacation where we've had a bottle open on an outdoor table where we eat in the sea air and watch the sun set together. Another must is strong coffee and great books where I can snuggle on the couch with a cozy throw and read while there's candles flickering on the coffee table. These are all cozy things I can enjoy while I impatiently wait for sunny weather!

I also like to have a kitchen that's ready to be cooked in. I feel better when I've got fresh fruit and ingredients ready and available for cooking! My favorite cookbooks are stacked for meal inspiration and a bowl holds onions, shallots, and garlic. Having a tiny kitchen is great for cooking because everything you need is right at your finger tips!

I keep things super simple around here. We've lived here 10 years and I'm funny about not letting stuff accumulate, it's my weird way of feeling like we could always pack up and move somewhere sunny in a moment's notice. (don't make fun) haha. I have EMPTY closets! It drives my husband nuts but he's learning to put up with his crazy OCD wife.

And my most favorite thing is to look around at special gifts that friends have given me. It makes me think of them and smile! And I catch myself often looking around and feeling so grateful for the gifts and the people who gave them to me. I also have instagram photos taped to the wall above my desk of special memories with friends and family and I love looking at them!

This summer I'm ready to start my herb garden and can't wait to plant a large rosemary bush on the back deck just off the kitchen! Dining al fresco is one of my favorite things in the whole world and I'm counting down the days until summer!
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Chase!

I've just barely walked in the door after the run. God speaks to me when I run. It doesn't matter whether I'm listening to Justin Timberlake or Toby Mac, God breaks through the noise and speaks straight to my heart. (this may have just made some of my friends twerk a little bit, haha!! did I just say twerk?? I mean TWITCH, but you know, whichever you're most comfortable with, twitching, or twerking....) Anyway, I think that it's the only time he can get my attention undistracted. At home there's photos to edit, rooms to clean, laundry to fold, etc. and I'm easily distracted.

Earlier this week I went to coffee with a sweet friend for a chat. God is opening doors for me to share my testimony with women and we were gathering to discuss my first speaking engagement. (PRAY for me!!) I need the Lord to direct my words! Anyway, we started talking about how some of us have chosen a word for the year, for example, my word is thrive and she was hoping for a word of her own. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this and I was only going to send this privately to her in an email but then just really feel like this could be an encouragement to many women. She told me that when she reads blogs, or reads a book, etc. she will become really inspired but then never do anything about it so she looked at me with the sweetest face and said, "basically I'm inspired to do nothing." Do you get it?? Have you felt that way, like you look around and see people doing really inspiring things and you feel like God might have a special thing for you too but you don't know what to do or how to get there so you end up doing nothing? That was me for a very, very long time.

So I started praying for my friend and wondering if God might have a special word for her that would fill her with hope and encouragement. As I was running today I felt this little nudge in my heart that said, "tell her that her word is chase." And I thought, "chase?" why??? I don't get it. And then God reminded me of a verse that my sweet friend Tiff sent me the other day and isn't it just like God that this would all fall together just to encourage the people he loves. He's so good. The verse is found in Psalm 23 and this is the message version. You know it right? Heard it a gazillion times... We can probably all recite it; the lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.... right?? But in the message version there's a verse that says, "Your beauty and love CHASE after me every day of my life."

And this is what I've learned as God has Chased me.

That as I understand the depth and breadth and width of God's love for me I'm beyond inspired to do stuff. It's almost as if I can't stop!! I mean look at how much I'm blogging right now! When you realize that in your mess God seeks you out, and literally CHASES you he wants you for his own so much, you can't help but begin to execute those things that you've felt inspired to do. And then knowing that he's chasing you makes your heart long to chase him because it's like you finally get it and now you can't get enough of him.

Right before that verse it says, "You revive my drooping head, my cup brims with blessing." That's the faithfulness of God!

And just a little testimony about me. I've run 5 or 6 half marathons in the last 3 years and finally last June Neal committed to running the Seattle Rock n Roll with me. He would go into work extra early so that he could be home in the afternoon for us to train together. We LOVED running around our city together!! It felt like a testimony, even though we weren't speaking with words. We would smile at each other as we ran and encourage each other with words like, "SEE!! we're still together!! God can redeem anything!!" And now we're seen running all over our city together which to me was a proclamation of the goodness of the lord.

When the race day came we crossed the finish line hand in hand raised in the air as our final declaration to God of gratitude and praise. He chased us and we've never been the same! And now we chase after him wanting to know the depth and breadth of the one who sent His son to take our place on the cross because he longs to be with us so much.

I kinda like that word chase! :)

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