Monday, February 28, 2011

HUGE tip for a more positive outlook

I may be calling myself out, but so be it:  I am in therapy.  Teeehee.  It’s true.  I’ve had lots of time in therapy, and I find it quite helpful.  So helpful, in fact, I’m showing my true blue colors and bloggin’ about it.  One of my biggest issues - Clinical Perfectionism.  For those of you who want the hoytie-toytie definition, it is as follows:
It is suggested that the defining feature of clinically significant perfectionism is the over-dependence of self-evaluation on the determined pursuit (and achievement) of self-imposed personally demanding standards of performance in at least one salient domain, despite the occurrence of adverse consequences.
It is suggested that such clinical perfectionism is maintained by the biased evaluation of the pursuit and achievement of personally demanding standards. Specifically, it is suggested that people with perfectionism react to failure to meet their standards with self-criticism. If they do meet their standards, the standards are re-evaluated as being insufficiently demanding. (Behavior Research & Therapy, Volume 40, Issue 7)
Since February 2010, this is one of the significant issues on which I’ve been working.  My biggest breakthrough came by way of a fairly new psychological method:  dialectical behavior therapy (Thank you, Daniel Rozdial).
A key aspect of DBT, as it is known, is a technique called “reframing.”  Here’s an example...
When I trip over my won feet - as I do often, I might add; sort of Miss Congeniality style; my reaction used to be “You are such a freakin’ retard.  Can’t you even walk, idiot?”  I thought nothing of this kind of self talk.  It was common place; every day.  I cannot even count the number of times I would call myself stupid, retarded, dumb, dimwit... you get the point.
Broken down on a logical level - here are the questions one must ask:
-Do a lot of people trip over their own feet?
-Are those people human?
-Do humans by their very nature make mistakes?
-Is it okay for me, as a human, to make a mistake?
-Can I forgive myself for being imperfect - for being a human?
In a word, yes.  When you put it like that, of course.  It sounds preposterous to even ask!  But how, then, was I to get my heart to realize what my brain already knew?  Enter the DBT skill “Reframing.”
Now, when I trip over my own feet, my reaction is “Teehee, that was silly!” Now bear with me for a second, because I know ti seems so simple, but do you see how much softer it is to say to oneself, “You silly girl!” than it is to say “You retard!”  The sting, judgement, and condemnation are no longer there.  Being silly is okay; acceptable even.  Being stupid, retarded - is not.
And in making a habit of removing the words retard, idiot, stupid, dumb, etc. from my lexicon and replacing them with words like silly, goofy, quirky, zany, etc. and being mindful to do so on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minutely basis, I have begun to learn not to be so harsh on myself; to allow a bit of forgiveness for mistakes, and to relax those super standards of PERFECT it is in my nature to hold myself against for comparison.  
And honestly, if I have to publicly broadcast that I’m in therapy to help just one reader along the way to breaking the perfectionist yoke they bear, it’s worth it!  For more info on DBT, click here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diva Downtime: Scrub-a-Dub-Dub

Every Diva needs a little bit of down time.  One of my favorite “downtime” pastimes: good old fashioned soak in the tub.  I almost make a ritual of it: candlelight, drop in a bath bomb, soak for at least 20 minutes with my eyes closed and gentle music playing in the background.  To make it even more relaxing - I make my own salt scrub and give myself a truly spa-like experience right in my own bathroom.  
Salt scrubs are surprisingly easy - and amazingly cheap - to make.  Here’s my recipe:
-1/2 cup either pure almond or jojoba oil
-1/2 cup epson salt
-1/2 cup fine sea salt (or sugar, if you have sensitive skin)
-15 drops aromatherapy essential oil of your choice
A word about essential oils: They’re pretty much awesome.  They smell yummy and can soften your skin like no other.  You only need a little bit - in fact, be sure to use no more than 15 drops, because if not properly diluted, they can irritate instead of soothe!  You can use an uplifting sent like sweet orange or neroli (or for a really nice scent, blend them).  Nice calming choices are Lavender or Ylang Ylang.  If you’re dealing with allergies or a cold, Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint oil can be mixed to create a blend that is sure to open your sinuses.  Your local health food store will have a wonderful selection of essential oils, ranging from $8 - $40, depending on the scent you choose.  And they will last forever, because all you need is a few drops to make your scrub smell oh-so-perfect.  
They also make super fabulous voguish diva homemade gifts!
If you try this recipe and have a Nirvana type experience, please let me know!!! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 8

How to Pray, By R.A. Torrey

Chapter 7: Abiding in Christ
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7).  The whole secret of prayer is found in these words of our Lord.  Here is prayer that has unbounded power:  “Ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.:
There is a way then of asking and receiving precisely what we ask.  Christ gives two conditions of the all-prevailing prayer: 
The first condition is “If ye abide in Me.”
What is it to abide in Christ?
Some explanations are so mystical or so profound that many children of God think they mean practically nothing at all.  But, what Jesus meant was really very simple.
He had been comparing Himself to a vine, His disciples to the branches in the vine.  Some branches continued in the vine - in living union - so that the sap or life of the vine constantly flowed into the branches.  They had no independent life of their own.  Everything in them was simply the outcome of the life of the vine, flowing into them.  Their buds, leaves, blossoms, and fruit were not really theirs, but the buds, leaves, blossoms and fruit of the vine.  Other branches were completely severed from the vine, or the flow of the sap or life of the vine was in some way hindered.  For us to abide in Christ is to bear the same relationship to Him that the first sort of branches bear to the vine.  That is to say, to abide in Christ, is to renounce any independent life of our own.  We must give up trying to think our thoughts, form our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings.  We must simply and constantly look to Christ to think His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in us, to feel His emotions and affections in us.  It is to renounce all life independent of Christ and constantly look to Him for the inflow of His life into us and the outworking of His life through us.  When we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God.
This must necessarily be so, for our desires will not be our own desires but Christ;s.  And our prayers will not in reality be our own prayers, but Christ praying in us.  Such prayers will always be in harmony with God’s will, and the Father always hears Him.  When our prayers fail, it is because they are indeed our prayers.  We have conceived the desire and offered our own petitions, instead of looking to Christ to pray through us.
To abide in Christ, one must already be in Christ through the acceptance of Christ as an atoning Savior from the guilt of sin.  He must be acknowledged as a risen Savior from the power of sin and a Lord and Master over all the believer’s life.  Being in Christ, all that we have to do to abide (or continue) in Christ, is simply to renounce our self-life.  We must utterly renounce every thought, purpose, desire, and affection of our own and continually look for Jesus Christ to form His thoughts, purposes, affections, and desires in us.  Abiding in Christ is really a very simple matter, though it is a wonderful life of privilege and of power.
Christ’s Words in Us
There is another condition stated in this verse, though it is really involved in the first: “And My words abide in you.”
If we are to receive from God all we ask from Him, Christ’s words must abide in us.  We must study His words and let them sink into our thoughts and heart.  We must keep them in our memory, obey them constantly in our life, and let them shape and mold our daily life and our every act.
 This is really the method of abiding in Christ.  It is through His words that Jesus imparts Himself to us.  The words He speaks unto us, they are spirit and they are life (John 6:63)  It is vain to expect power in prayer unless we meditate upon the words of Christ and let them sink deep and find a permanent abode in our hearts.  There are many who wonder why they are so powerless in prayer.  The very simple explanation of it all is found in their neglect of the words of Christ.  They have not hidden His words in their hearts; His words do not abide in them.  It is not by moments of mystical mediation and rapturous experiences that we learn to abide in Christ.  It is by feeding upon His Word, His written word in the Bible, and looking to the Spirit to implant these words in our heart - to make them a living thing in our heart.  If we thus let the words of Christ abide in us, they will stir us up to prayer.  They will be the mold in which our prayers are shaped.  And, our prayers will necessarily be along the line of God’s will and will prevail with Him.  Prevailing prayer is almost an impossibility where there is neglect of the study of God’s word.
Mere intellectual study of the Word of God is not enough; there must be meditation upon it.  The Word of God must be revolved over and over in the mind with a constant looking to God and His Spirit to make that Word a living thing in the heart.  The prayer that is born of meditation upon the Word of God is the prayer which soars upward to God’s listening ear.  
George Mueller, one of the mightiest men of prayer, would begin praying by reading and meditating upon God’s Word until a prayer began to form itself in his heart.  Thus, God Himself was the real author of prayer, and God answered the prayer which He Himself had inspired.  
The Word of God is the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works.  It is the sword of the Spirit in more senses than one.  The person who wants to know the work of the Holy Spirit in any direction must feed upon the Word.  The person who desires to pray in the spirit must meditate on the Word, so that the Holy Spirit may have something through which He can work.  The Holy Sprit works His prayers in us through the Word.  Neglect of the Word makes praying in the Holy Spirit an impossibility.  If we seek to feed the fire of our prayers with the fuel of God’s Word, all our difficulties in prayer will disappear.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Voguish Diva Tip #3

You know those mornings.  The one where the alarm went off and you thought you hit snooze but you must have hit dismiss because it’s one hour and thirteen minutes later and oh-my-gosh-you-have-to-leave-RIGHT-NOW-but-you-haven’t-showered-in-two-days-and-oh-my-gosh-what-are-you-going-to-do?????
Introducing - La Shower La Prarie (teehee... the “French” Shower)
Baby wipes or face cleaning wipes will do; hit those important-to-wash spots with them.  If you have dry skin, put on some sweet smelling lotion.  If you’re the oily type, spritz yourself down with water and pat some baby powder onto your skin (using  your hands, deftly rub it into your hair roots if your hair is oily too.)  Put on your deodorant, then shave your underarms, to avoid razor burn.  Dab perfume at your neck, wrists, and behind your knees.  
Voila.  In five minutes or less, you’re sweet-smelling and dry; no one will know you weren’t able to shower!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 7

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey

Chapter 6:  Always Praying and Not Fainting
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus emphasizes the lesson that men ought tot pray and not faint.  The first parable is found in Luke 11:5-8 and the other in Luke 18:1-8.
“And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight and say unto him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he from within shall answer and say, ‘Trouble me not:  the door is now shut and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.’ I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” (Like 11:5-8)
“And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint; saying “There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded men: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him saying, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.  And he would not for a while, but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I fear not God, nor regard men, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ and the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge saith.  And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily!  Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
In the former of these two parables, Jesus sets forth the necessity of importunity in prayer in a startling way.  The word rendered importunity literally means shamelessness.  Jesus wants us to understand that God desires us to draw nigh to Him with a determination to obtain the things we seek that will not be put to shame by any seeming refusal or delay on God’s part.  God delights in the holy boldness that will not take no for an answer.  It is an expression of great faith and nothing pleases God more than faith.  
Jesus seemed to deal with the Syro-Phoenician woman almost with rudeness.  But she would not give up that easily, and Jesus looked upon her shameless persistence with pleasure.  He said, “o that thou wilt” (Matthew 15:28).  God does not always give us things at our first effort.  He wants to train us and make us strong by compelling us to work hard for the best things.  Likewise, He does not always give us what we ask in answer to the first prayer.  He wants to train us and make us strong people of prayer by compelling us to pray hard for the best things.  He makes us to pray through.
I am glad that this is so.  There is no more blessed training in prayer that that which comes through being compelled to ask again and again, over long periods of time, before obtaining what we seek from God.  Many people call it submission to the will of God when God does not grant them their request at the first or second asking.  They say, “Well, perhaps it is not God’s will.”  
As a rule, this is not submission but spiritual laziness.  We do not call it submission to the will of God when we give up after one or two efforts to obtain things by action.  WE call it lack of strength of character.  When the strong man or woman of action starts out to accomplish a thing and does not accomplish it the first or second or one-hundredth time, he or she keeps hammering away until it is accomplished.  The strong man of prayer keeps on praying until he prays it through and obtains what he seeks.  We should be careful about what we ask from God.  But, when we do begin to pray for a thing, we should never give up praying for it until we receive it or until God makes it very clear and very definite that it is not His will to give it.  
Some people like us to believe that it shows unbelief tho pray twice for the same thing.  They think we ought to “take it” the first time we ask.  Doubtless there are times when we are able, through faith in the Word or the leading of the Holy Spirit, to claim the first time that which we have asked of God.  But, beyond question, there are other times when we must pray again and again for the same thing before we receive our answer.  Those who are beyond praying twice for the same thing are beyond their Master. (Matthew 26:44)  George Mueller prayed for two men daily for more than sixty years.  One of these men converted shortly before his death, I think at the last service George Mueller held.  The other was converted within a year after his death.  One of the great needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray but will pray for things on and on until they obtain what it is they seek from the Lord.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mama's Little Baby LOVES Shortenin' Bread

Especially on Valentin'es Day!  I confess - I am a SUCKER for shortbread cookies.  SUCK.  ER.  That’s me.  Here’s a fabulous recipe (courtesy of - shameless plug for the best recipe website on the face of the planet!!)
Shortbread Hearts
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place the hearts on an ungreased sheet pan and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Note: The edges of the shortbread are ever so slightly sharper if you chill the cookies before baking them.

Cook 'em up, serve 'em to your sweetie, and have the most fabulous Valentine's Day Ever!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Color Me Decorated

When my hubby and I bought our home, we had the great pleasure - and nightmare - of redecorating.  I say great pleasure because we got to choose whatever we wanted... I say nightmare because it was extremely difficult to do that!  We redid the floors, and chose paint for the walls, all the while keeping in mind the big picture of what our home would look like and what kind of furniture we would purchase after the immediate renovations were completed.  
We chose our floors first, keeping our color choices neutral; dark walnut stain for the hardwood that would cover the entire upstairs, and light tile with tans and browns laced through ever so slightly.  Because our flooring was so neutral, we went with neutral paint in most of the house, choosing variations of brown ranging from a very light tan to a deep chocolate for our living room, reading room, kitchen and dining room, stairway, and master bedroom.  The darker chocolate tones served as accent walls in the master bedroom and the reading room.  And we chose a dark, scarlet red as the accent color for the kitchen and dining room.
The base color scheme for our home was SO neutral, we could go with almost any accent color(s) we wanted.  We chose earth tones - olive greens, deep oranges, golds, maroons, etc, giving our home a very pleasing warm, welcome feel.  
Let’s say however, we wanted to go with a different color scheme.  How would we have chosen it?  What colors go with what?  How do you know if you can use pink and blue together?  What about pink and yellow?  Does it work?  
There are some general rules of thumb, and having the teensiest bit of experience, I’d like to help you out.  (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
As I’m sure most of you recognize, this is the color wheel:

How does it relate to home decor, you might ask?  What a fabulous question.  You have several different options when choosing a color palette for decorating.  You can choose a “quadrant” of the color wheel and play with the colors in that quadrant only.  For example:

These rooms utilize this quadrant:

Another option in home decor is sticking with varying shades of one color pallette; for example, this room utilizes neutral grey and a few different hues of orange (note the light peach shade of the wall and curtain, different fabrics on each furniture piece, the shade off the art's frame on the wall above the couch matches the corner table's wood accent piece, and the vase in the corner with buds on the sticks that are orange hues as well:

A third, most daring alternative, utilizes colors that are across the circle from each other.  For example, look at this room:

The decorating master mind in the above picture went with greens and pinks, which are directly across from each other on the color wheel:

But remember, all “rules” are made to be broken.  Check out this room, with the main color, red, accented by green:

This room breaks all kinds of home decor color rules, but it works!  The shades of red and green are beautiful together, and somehow manage NOT to scream “Christmas.”
Perhaps the easiest decorative possibility is to stick with the neutral base tones, like my darling and I did, and dress it up with whatever colors you choose.  This is very versatile, and allows for the creation of several different looks.  For example:

Black, white, and grey form the neutral color palette for this room, and a splash of yellow livens things up quite a bit!
And in this photo, the neutrals are used as accent colors, while the main color scheme are variations of blue tones:

As you can see, there are many different ways color can be used to create mood, feeling, and depth to your home.  If you have photos of your own home decor choices, I’d love to see them!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 6

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey

Chapter 5:  Praying in the Spirit
Over and over again in what has already been said, we have seen our dependence on the Holy Spirit in prayer.  This is stated very clearly in Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit”; and in Jude 20, “Praying in the Holy Ghost.”  Indeed, the whole secret of prayer is found in these three words, in the Spirit.  God the Father answers the prayer that God the Holy Spirit inspires.
The disciples did not know how to pray as they should, so they came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  we also do not know how to pray as we should, but we have another Teacher and Guide right at hand to help us (see John 14:16-17).  The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.” (Romans 8:26).  He teaches us how to pray.  True prayer is prayer in the Holy Spirit; that is, the prayer the Spirit inspires and directs.  when we come into God’s presence, we should recognize “our infirmities,” our ignorance of what we should pray for or how we should pray for it.  In the consciousness of our utter inability to pray properly, we should look up to the Holy Spirit, casting ourselves utterly upon Him to direct our prayers.  He must lead our desires and guide our utterance of them.
Nothing can be more foolish in prayer than to rush heedlessly into God’s presence and ask the first thing that comes into our mind.  When we first come into God’s presence, we should be silent before Him.  We should look up to Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray.  We must wait for the Holy Spirit and surrender ourselves to the Spirit.  Then we will pray correctly.
Often, when we come to God in prayer, we do not feel like praying.  What should we do in such a case?  Cease praying until we feel like it?  Not at all.  When we feel least like praying is the time when we most need to pray.  We should wait quietly before God and tell Him how cold and prayerless our hearts are.  We should look up to Him, trust Him, and expect Him to send the Holy Spirit to warm our hearts and draw us out in prayer.  It will not be long before the glow of the Spirit’s presence will fill our heart.  We will begin to pray with freedom, directness, earnestness, and power.  Many of the most blessed seasons of prayer I have ever known have begun with a feeling of utter deadness and prayerlessness.  But, in my helplessness and coldness, I have cast myself upon God and looked to Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach me to pray.  And, He has always done it.  When we pray in the Spirit, we will pray for the right things in the right way.  There will be joy and power in our prayer.
Praying with Faith
If we are to pray with power, we must pray with faith. Jesus says, “Therefor I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  No matter how positive any promises of God’s Word may be, we will not enjoy it unless we confidently expect its fulfillment.  “If any of you lack wisdom,” says James, “let him ask of god, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him” (James 1:5)  Now that promise is as positive as a promise can be.  The next verse adds, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”  (James 1:6-7).  There must then be confident, unwavering expectation that believes that prayer is heard and the promise granted.  This comes out in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye pray, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.”
But how can one have this faith?
Let us say with all emphasis, it cannot be forced.  A person reads this promise about the prayer of faith and then asks for things he desires.  He tries to make himself believe that God has heard the prayer.  This only ends in disappointment for it is not real faith, and the thing is not granted.  At this point, many people lose faith altogether by trying to create faith by an effort of their own will.  When the thing they made themselves believe they would receive is not given, the very foundation of faith is often undermined.
But, how does real faith come?
Romans 10:17 answers the question:  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If we are to have real faith, we must study the Word of God and discover what is promised.  The, we must simply believe the promises of God.  Faith must have God’s sanction.  Trying to believe something that you want to believe is not faith.  Believing what God says in His Word is faith.  If I am to have faith when I pray, I must find some promise in the Word of God to rest my faith on.
Faith furthermore comes through the Spirit.  The Spirit knows the will of God.  If I pray in the Spirit and look to the Spirit to teach me God’s will, He will lead me out in prayer along the line of that will.  He will give me faith that the prayer is to be answered.  But, in no case does real faith come by simply determining that you are going to receive what you want.  If there is no promise in the Word of God and no clear leading of the Spirit, there can be no real faith.  There should be no scolding for your lack of faith in such a case.  But if the thing desired is promised in the Word of God, we may well scold ourselves for lack of faith if we doubt, for we are making God a liar by doubting his word.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

You've Got to Make Time for It...

Remember when you were little, and somehow in your backpack, magically - there was a packed lunch with all the right things for a wholesome balanced meal?  When you came home from school and the snack was ready for you to enjoy? When dinner was prepared fresh and hot, and all you had to do was wash your hands before you ate?  
Yeah, I miss those days too.  Getting healthy, well balanced meals in with your busy schedule is difficult!  Here are some tips and tricks to help you manage your time more efficiently so that yummy wholesome meals are a part of your every day life again.
Tip One:  Plan ahead - take 30 minutes to sit down and look at your schedule week to week, figuring out when you can eat at home, when you’ll be eating on the run, and what nights you’ll be able to put dinner on the table.  Even plan what you’ll be cooking so that when you make your grocery list, what you need to purchase to cook the meals can be added to the list.  And I know this sounds silly - but write it down in your planner, so that you actually PLAN on doing it.
Tip Two:  Take a Business Mindset Home with You... create a “grocery inventory” of goods and items you regularly purchase.  Print it out on the same day of the week each week and do an inventory - hopefully BEFORE you’ve run out of your staples, being sure to check off what you need to purchase.  Add a “Miscellaneous section” where you can write down any extras - for example, items that you need for the recipes you’ve chosen for the week, or toiletry items that you don’t purchase every week.  Go shopping on the same day each week, making it part of your “household routine.”  
Tip Three:  When you get home from the grocery store, do any pre-preparing you can. Pre-chop veggies for meals, wash, rinse, and dry fruits and veggies, separate bulk items into single servings, etc.  
Tip Four:  Put the ingredients for the meal you are going to cook together.  I use a plastic “shoe box” and gather all canned, dry, and cold ingredients together, pre-measured and ready to go.  For example, if my recipe calls for tomato paste, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, I measure the cheese and garlic powder, grab the can of tomato paste and whatever else the recipe calls for, put it all in the same bin, and put it in the fridge until I’m ready to pull it out and use it.  This cuts down the time I spend in the kitchen when I’m ready to cook.
Tip Five:  If you eat on the run a lot, be sure to purchase food that lends itself to this type of life style.  For example, healthy grab-n-go items like granola bars, almonds, bran muffins, go-gurts, meal replacement shakes like Ensure or Boost, cheese sticks, protein powders, etc. 
Tip Six:  If you are able, store some go - to items in your work refrigerator so you always have healthy snacks available to you.  It’s important to have a “combo” of food groups when you snack as this is more filling and nutritious, so go for quick and easy things, like cottage cheese and bananas, pre-measured apple sauces and yogurts, bread and peanut butter.
Tip Seven:  Make your on-the-go meals the evening before so that when you are rushing to get out the door the next morning, all you need to do is remember to grab it from the fridge.  I put my car keys in the fridge with my meals until I got into the habit of going to the fridge before I left the house, so I wouldn’t forget the meals.
Tip Eight:  Double your recipe, so that you and your family have left-overs for the nights you don’t get to cook. 
Tip Nine:  If you are having, for example, Spaghetti Bolognese and Tacos in the same week, cook all the meat at the same time, and separate and put aside what you need for the next meal.  This can be done with rice, pasta, meat, salads, etc.  Look for ways you can prepare for your next meal as you’re making this one, so that cooking the next one will be that much easier.
Tip Ten:  Take advantage of your local grocer’s deli department.  Most stores have a soup buffet, prepared rotisserie chickens, sides and veggies that only need 5 minutes in the microwave before they are ready, salad bars, and more.  On a night when you are short of time, it’s okay to let them do the cooking for you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Putting on the Tips

Back in the days before the economic bubble burst, I used to have acrylic nails, and I LOVED them.  Nowadays, finding the extra money in the budget isn’t the easiest, so I decided to check out the thrifty version.  Store bought nails have come a long way since Lee Press Ons, ladies!  Here’s a review of my inexpensive manicure...
Product used:  Nailene French Finish Personal Fit Nails, Medium Length, coming in at a whopping $5.99.  Nice on the pocket book!  Also, they included a $1.00 off coupon for the next time.  Love that!
Application process:  I followed the instructions given on the back, and tweeked them just a bit.  First, I trimmed my own nails so that the fake one would provide full coverage.  Then, I buffed them using the included mini-file.  Then, using the included little cuticle pusher thing-a-ma-bob, I gently pressed my cuticles back away from the nail bed.  I cleaned my nails with an acetone based nail polish remover.  Finally, I began gluing the nails onto my dominant hand first (I figured once the nails were on it’d be more difficult to do the other hand.)  The glue container was really hard to squeeze, but when I trimmed the tip with scissors it came out better.  I used an application brush from a clear polish to smooth the glue onto the whole nail, then carefully pressed the fake nail onto my own nail.
What I wish I’d done:  Sized each nail before gluing, then done any filing on the sides of them to ensure a better fit.  It also would’ve been easier if I’d lined them up according to which nail I was applying them into instead of scattering them all over the place!  If I'd been thinking, I would've used a regular nail buffer rather than the included file to minimize damage to my natural nail.  I also should’ve bought the short length, or trimmed them a bit first, because even the medium length is a bit too long for my taste.
My finished manicure looked like this: 

Not bad for a $6 manicure!  The “crooked” looking third nail on the left hand is actually a result of my crooked finger, not the nail!!
Wearability:  So, night one I had one of them pop off, which was an easy fix.  I realized when I put the new tip on the old one had been too big for my nail bed, which I assume caused the problem.  When I glued the new one down, I also didn’t use the polish brush to smooth out the glue - it was a good call!!  The nail fit better and was more firmly attached to my finger.  Over the next four days, I had three or four come off one at a time, which I fixed with the extra nails in the pack.  Turns out, I had mis-judged a lot of my nail beds, thinking they were bigger than they were.  The smaller ones fit better, looked better, and didn’t have as many gaps in the glue since I was only putting a drop of glue on the nail bed before applying.  All in all, I am pretty happy with the manicure, and would definitely do this again for a special occasion. :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 5

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey

Chapter 4:  Praying in the Name of Christ and According to the Will of God
It was a wonderful word about prayer that Jesus spoke to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion:  “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.  (John 14:13-14)
Prayer in the name of Christ has power with God.  God is well pleased with His Son Jesus Christ.  He always hears Him, and He also always hears the prayer that is really in His name.  There is a fragrance in the name of Christ that makes every prayer that bears it acceptable to God.
But, what is it to pray in the name of Christ?
Many explanations have been attempted that make little sense to the average person.  But there is nothing mystical or mysterious about this expression.  If you go through the Bible and examine all the passages in which the expression “in My name” or “in His name” are used, you will find that it means just about what it does in every day language.  If I go to a bank and hand in a check with my name signed to it, I ask of that bank in my own name.  If I have money deposited in the bank, the check will be cashed; if not, it will not be.  If, however, I go to a bank with somebody else’s name signed to the check, I am asking in his name, and it does not matter whether I have money in that bank or any other.  If the person whose name is signed to the check has money there, the check will be cashed.
If, for example, I were to go to the First National Bank of Chicago and present a check which I had signed for $50.00, the teller would say to me,  "Why, Mr.  Torrey, we cannot cash that.  You have no money in this bank.”
But if I were to go to the First National Bank with a check for $50.00 made payable to me and signed by one of the large depositors in that bank, they would not ask whether I had money in the bank or in any bank.  Instead, they would honor the check at once.
When I go to God in prayer, it is like going to the bank of heaven.  I have nothing deposited there.  I have absolutely no credit there.  If I go in my own name, I will get absolutely nothing.  But Jesus Christ has unlimited credit in heaven, and He has granted me the privilege of going to the bank with His name on my checks.  When I thus go, my prayers will be honored to any extent.  
To pray in the name of Christ is to pray on the ground of His credit, not mine.  It is to renounce the thought that I have any claims on God whatever and approach Him on the ground of Christ’s claims.  Praying in the name of Christ is not done by merely adding the phrase, “I ask these things in Jesus’ name,” to my prayer.  I may put that phrase in my prayer and really be resting in my own merit all the time.  On the other hand, I may omit that phrase but really be resting in the merit of Christ all the time.  When I really do approach God on the ground of Christ’s merit and His atoning blood (Hebrews 10:19), God will hear me.  Very much of our prayer is in vain because men approach God imagining that they have some claim on God which obligates Him to answer their prayers.
Forgiveness in His Name
Years ago when D.L. Moody was young in Christian work, he visited a town in Illinois.  A judge in the town was not a Christian.  This judge’s wife asked Mr. Moody to call on her husband, but Mr. Moody replied:  “I cannot talk with your husband.  I am only an uneducated, young, Christian, and your husband is a scholarly non-believer.
But the wife would not take no for an answer, so Mr. Moody made the call.  The clerks in the outer office giggled as the young salesman from Chicago went in to talk with the scholarly judge.
The conversation was short.  Mr. Moody said:
“Judge, I can’t talk with you.  You are an educated non-Christian, and I have no learning.  I simply want to say that if you are ever converted, I want you to let me know.”
The judge replied:  “Yes, young man, if I am ever converted I will let you know.  Yes, I will let you know."
The conversation ended.  The clerks snickered even louder when the zealous young Christian left the office but the judge was converted within a year.  Mr. Moody, visiting the town again, asked the judge to explain how it came about.  The judge said:
“One night, when my wife was at a prayer meeting, I began to grow very uneasy and miserable.  I did not know what was the matter with me, but finally retired before my wife came home.  I could not sleep all that night.  I got up early, told my wife that I would eat no breakfast, and went down to the office.  I told the clerks that they could take a holiday and shut myself up in the inner office.  I kept growing more and more miserable and finally I got down and asked God to forgive my sins.  But I would not say, “for Jesus sake,” because I was a Unitarian and did not believe in the atonement.  I kept praying, ‘God forgive my sins,’ but no answer came.  At last in desperation I cried out, “'O God, for Christ’s sake, forgive my sins,’ and found peace at once!”
The judge had no access to God until he came in the name of Christ.  When he finally came in the name of Jesus, he was heard and answered at once.
Knowing God’s Will Through His Word
Great light is thrown upon the subject in 1 John 5:14-15:  “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.  
This passage clearly teaches that if we are to pray correctly, we must pray according to God’s will.  Then, we will beyond a shadow of a doubt, receive the thing we ask of Him.
But can we know the will of God?  Can we know that any specific prayer is according to His will?
We most surely can.
First by the Word.  God has revealed His will in His Word.  When anything is definitely promised in the Word of God, we know that it is His will to give that thing.  If, when I pray, I can find some definite promise of God’s Word and lay that promise before God, I know that He hears me.  And if I know that He hears me, I know that I have the petition that I have asked of Him.  For example, when I pray for wisdom, I know that it is the will of God to give me wisdom, for He says in James 1:5:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him.”  So, when I ask for wisdom, I know that the prayer is heard and that wisdom will be given to me.  In like manner, when I pray for the Holy Spirit that I know from Luke 11:13 is God’s will, that my prayer is heard, and that I have the petition that I have asked of Him.  “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”
Some years ago, a minster came to me at the close of an address on prayer at a Y.M.C.A. Bible School and said, “You have given those young men the impression that they can ask for definite things and get the very things that they ask.” 
I replied that I did not know whether that was the impression I had given or not, but that was certainly the impression I desired to give.
“But,” he replied, “that is not right.  We cannot be sure, for we don’t know God’s will.”
I turned at once to James 1:5, read it to him and said, “Is it not God’s will to give us wisdom, and if you ask for wisdom do you not know that you are going to get it?”
“Ah!” he said, “we don’t know what wisdom is.”
I said, “No, if we did, we would not need to ask.  But, whatever wisdom may be, don’t you know that you will get it?”
Certainly it is our privilege to know.  When we have a specific promise in the Word of God, if we doubt that it is God’s will or if we doubt that God will do that which we ask, we make God a liar. 
Here is one of the greatest secrets of prevailing prayer:  Study the Word to find what God’s will is as revealed there in the promises.  Then, simply take these promises and claim them before God in prayer with the absolutely unwavering expectation that He will do what He has promised in His Word.
Knowing God’s Will By His Spirit
There is still another way in which we may know the will of God - by the teaching of His Holy Spirit.  There are many things that we need from God which are not covered by any specific promise.  But, we are not in ignorance of the will of God even then.  In Romans 8:26-27, we are told, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought.  but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”   Here we are distinctly told that the Spirit of God prays in us, draws out our prayer, according to God’s will.  When we are thus led out by the Holy Spirit in any direction, to pray for any given object, we may do it in all confidence that it is God’s will.  We are to be assured that we will receive the very thing we ask of Him, even though there is no specific promise to cover the case.  Often, God by His Spirit lays a heavy burden of prayer for some given individual upon our heart.  We cannot rest.  We pray for him with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Perhaps the man is entirely beyond our reach, but God hears the prayer.  And in many cases, it is not long before we hear of his definite conversion.
The passage in 1 John 5:14-15 is one of the most abused passages in the Bible:  “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.”  The Holy Spirit, without a doubt, put this passage into the Bible to encourage our faith.  It begins with “This is the confidence that we have in Him,” and closes with “We know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.”  But, one of the most frequent usages of this passage, which was so manifestly given to bring confidence, is to introduce an element of uncertainty into our prayers.  Often, when a person is confident in prayer, some cautious brother will come and say:
“Now, don’t be too confident.  If it is God’s will, He will do it. You should add, ‘If it be Thy will.’”
Doubtless, there are many times when we do not know the will of God.  And submission to the excellent will of God should be the basis for all prayer.  But when we know God’s will, there need be no if’s.  This passage was not put into the Bible so that we could introduce if’s into all our prayers, but so that we could throw our if’s to the wind and have “confidence” and “know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Voguish Diva Tip #2

For baby soft touchable skin, take medium warm showers that won’t dehydrate you.  Add body lotion to your daily routine.  Apply right after your shower to seal in the moisture (my fave is Bath & Body Works Rice Flower and Shea Body Lotion.  If you tend to have really dry skin, use oil instead - try Nutrogena’s light sesame formula ($9.99 at Walgreens).  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Visual Journaling

of or pertaining to seeing or sight: a visual image (adjective) photographs, slides, films, charts, or other visual materials, especially as used for illustration. (noun)

a daily record, as occurrences, experiences, or observations

Visual Journaling: An artsy-craftsy method of exploring thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences. This practice is more tactile than traditional journaling, and has the capability of creating a more visceral experience for the journaler.

To begin, get a sketchbook with a medium weight paper. Compile some basic art supplies - Elmer’s glue and/or glue sticks, acrylic paints, color pencils, water color pencils, and the like. I also gather ephemera that catches my eye or is meaningful to me.

Explore different art techniques ( a great book to help with that is Journal Junkies: Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict.) Your journal entries can be whimsical, brooding, happy, confused, whatever. It’s up to you. The point isn’t to create perfect artwork, it’s to look into yourself and help work out whatever you are dealing with at the time.

Check out these awesome links for more information on visual journaling:

Below are some examples from my own visual journal:

My very first page, noting the day I started journaling.

I was feeling chaotic this day, and it's reflected in the work.

Journal entry the day I found out my grandma was near death.

Exploring thoughts about my life.

Dealing with loss.

Scrapbook style entry memorializing Grams.

I enlisted my nieces help to create this page.

Celebrating my anniversary

Ephemera and drawn exploration of my feelings.