August 31, 2016

One of Those Days...

You know when you have one of those days, and you just want to get back in bed and start over? That is where I am today, and here lately, it is where I have been almost everyday. Most days you would not know, because I hide it well. My five year old does not listen anymore, my nine month old is going on almost three weeks with ear infections, the dog is, well, she is the dog, and she is like having another child in and of itself. Then there I am... The one who is supposed to be holding us all together. "The Glue" they call us, the strong one. Whoever "they" are, "THEY" have no idea, because I am struggling. Some days I am struggling to the point of tears, other days I am struggling to the point of curling up in a ball and calling it a day, and that is before dinner. But everyday, somehow, I hold it together, that 'glue', holds tight and stays strong. I swear it's Gorilla glue.

"They" never told me how hard motherhood would be, but motherhood is hard. Motherhood with a spouse deployed is even harder. Motherhood with a deployed spouse, sick kids, and running your own business... Now that is just crazy, but I am doing it. That is where my amazing support system comes into play, and saying they are "amazing" is an understatement.

I have been diagnosed with a new (to me) and rare heart condition, so my husband moved us to my parent's house, before deployment. If it were not for their support, and their help, I would have lost my sanity and given up on this deployment, the minute he walked into that airport. You see, a support system is so important, as a military family. MY support system is amazing and I could not do it without them. I know I do not tell them nearly enough, but I am so grateful and so thankful to be here this deployment.

I know I am not the only one, but on days like this, I have a crutch. A big crutch. I think to myself that my crutch is the only way to get through the day. My head tells me that if I do not get that crutch, I may not make it. What is your crutch? We all have one. For some people it is coffee. Coffee is what I kept saying yesterday, would make the whole day better. For some people it is a glass of wine. For others it could be a Xanax and a nap. For few, it is just ending it all, which is sad, because even though they may not think so, there is always something worth living for.

All of this has been going through my head today and right before I sat down to write it all, the dog, remember the dog? She had some sort of asthma or breathing attack. When that happens, I drop everything and rush to her side. It is a very scary situation for her, because lets face it, she is like a baby, she has no idea what is going on. If it was my five year old, I could explain it, promise it would be over soon, and be a huge comfort. But for Koko, all I can do is hold her, or let her sit in my lap. You know what I was thinking during her attack? I was thinking, "OMG I NEED COFFEE!!!!! TODAY IS ROUGH!!!!". That is what I was thinking. I went straight to my crutch. You know what I should have been thinking? "I need Jesus. I need Jesus to take this stress from me." I need Him to be that crutch I lean on. Forget the coffee, it is only temporary. Jesus is forever.

My kids are sick, He is there.
My husband is deployed, He is there.
The bank account is emptier than it needs to be, He is there.
My business has taken a set back, He is there.
My health has taken a turn, He is there.

My worldly crutch? I have to go get it when I need it. I have to make it, or I have to beg for it, but my Jesus, He is always there. I don't have to beg for Him to come, I don't have to make Him come, He comes on His own. He never leaves. One of my new friends told me today, "Not today Satan." (And actually right now, she text me checking on me. She's a keeper! <3)

For too long, I've been letting him steal my joy, and I've been leaning on the wrong crutch. Well guess what Satan, I'm done. I'm done letting you make me think other things are my crutch, and those things are what I need to get through. Am I saying that I'll never have another cup of coffee?!? HA!!! OH NO!!!! I love a good coffee, but I'm done letting it be the thing I turn to, or letting it be the thing that I think I need. I just need Jesus.

1For the choir director; on a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. 2From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.3For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.… Psalm 61:1-3

February 25, 2016

Sweet Potato Muffins

I do not know what has happened to my four and a half year old all of the sudden, but it is like her taste buds have come to the realization that there is more to life than grilled chicken, rice, broccoli, and protein bars. Ok, that is a little bit of an exaggeration because she also loves all sorts of fruits, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and of course cheese quesadillas, but one thing she has never really been a fan of, is sweet potatoes. Growing up, I was never really a fan of them either, so I have never pushed them on her, except when she was an infant, but still, it is like a switch was flipped, and all of the sudden, she is eating avocado and sweet potatoes by the spoon full. It is amazing, and I for one, am thrilled.

I have no idea what on earth inspired me to write this recipe, except for the fact that I had one lonely sweet potato sitting in a bowl on my counter, and it needed a purpose. I decided to peel it, shred it, and toss it in some muffin batter with cinnamon and hand it to my kiddo, and she ended up eating three. Yes, three. When I took pictures for this recipe, I ended up dicing it, and it was delicious, but the sweet potatoes still had a tiny bit of firmness to them, which we were all totally fine with, and-you could taste the sweet potato more than just when they were shredded. How you dice, shred, slice, whatever, is completely up to you. I usually do it different every time, because you know, I am no chef, I am just a home cook who likes to keep things fun, and "throws it all together". I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. Breakfast, snack, dessert, they are good for anything.

Sweet Potato Muffins
Yield: 8-10

2c. Pamela's Baking Mix
1/3c. Sugar
1T. Cinnamon
1 Egg
1/2c + 2T Water
2T Honey
1c. Peeled, Diced/Shredded/Chopped Sweet Potato (One small/medium Sweet Potato)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine Dry ingredients in a mixing bowl with a fork. Mix in wet ingredients and then fold in sweet potatoes. Spray muffin tins or lined muffin tins with non stick spray and fill to the top of the liners or almost to the top of the tin. Bake for 16-18 minutes until muffins are just firm to the touch.

Sautéed Kale

For some reason, here lately, I am extremely obsessed with Kale. When I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. Like, I need the t-shirt, the car decal, the tire cover, the face tattoos, the phone cover, I know, it has gotten very out of hand. I feel like I have been blessed with the ability to take a vegetable that has the potential to taste like dirt, and make it taste delicious. I can take it the Italian route or the Asian route and on New Year's Day, it was our "Green" and we had it with pork, black eyed peas, and corn bread and it was delicious. I have no idea how I did it, but I feel like if you will take the leap of faith and trust me, and try it at least two of the few ways I have created, I really do think you will like it, and then you will be on your way to being a whole new healthier you! Kale is packed full of so many amazing nutrients and vitamins. If you don't believe me, just google. You know Google doesn't lie. :-)

Tonight, I will share with you one way we love to eat it, and then hopefully tomorrow, I will share another one of my many secrets to finding your obsession with KALE!

Side Note:
The key to purchasing kale. If you choose kale on your own, and you do not choose a bag of pre-washed and packaged kale, choose a bunch that is firm and dark green. You do not want a bunch of kale that is limp and light green or even limp and dark green. Dark green AND firm is your perfect bunch of kale. I have found that Whole Foods has the most amazing bunch of kale and it is perfect every time and it is the better bang for your buck. At least here on O'ahu it is. The bunch is large, and it is organic and dark green and crisp and firm every single time. At the commissary, I never know what I am going to get. Most of the time it is half the price of Whole Foods, but it is maybe enough for one person for one meal and it is limp and light green, when Whole Foods is enough for two people for two meals. Find your best bang for your buck in your neighborhood and stick with that. Just because the organic may be a tiny bit more, you may be getting a bigger bunch and a whole lot better quality. I have also found that the flavor of organic compared to the flavor of the other kale is a whole lot better too. And for the record, I normally buy whatever is best for my bank account. Produce in Hawaii is definitely no help in that department.

Sautéed Kale

One bunch of Kale
1/3c Red & Yellow Bell Pepper Diced (Mixed, NOT of each)
1/4c Olive Oil
1/2t Fresh Garlic
1t Dried Minced Onion (I never have fresh onion, commissary is usually moldy-Yay Hawaii!)
Salt & Pepper to taste, usually at least 1/2t of each
Gluten Free Soy Sauce (For a drizzle)

Separate kale from stalk, wash and pat dry. Set to the side.

In a large sauté pan, on low-medium heat, combine olive oil, onion, bell peppers, salt, pepper, garlic, and let peppers cook. Do not let onions burn. Stir frequently.

Once peppers are soft, place kale on top and let sit for about 30 seconds. Stir kale and peppers together, getting kale covered well with olive oil and combining well with peppers and onions. Keep stirring and combining so that kale does not over cook. You do not want kale to go limp like sautéed spinach. Once combined well, and cooked for about 1-2 minutes, take your soy sauce, and drizzle around the pan, quickly, 2-3 times, then combine again.

Combine kale with quinoa or rice as a side dish or an array of other vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, larger cut bell peppers, and rice or quinoa) and it makes an even better side dish.