Friday, November 30, 2012

Gratitude: Part 5

Well month of November has quickly passed which also means my series of thanksgiving comes to an end, but certainly doesn't mean I will stop meditating on all the things I am thankful for! I have seen a sweet change in my perspective as I I realize the numerous things I am blessed with & realize the smallest things even bring a joy to my heart. God is so incredible & even in the rough times, we have tons of things to be grateful for. These past couple weeks have been packed with moments to cherish & I am thankful for each one.

Psalm 95:2
"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!"


27. Last night we had another youth group gathering & it was a great turnout again! We are so excited to be serving God by loving on these youth & just enjoying fellowship with them. They seem to be having a great time as well, asking questions, & really showing an interest in drawing near to God. What an encouragement & sweet opportunity to be apart of. I am so grateful that over the last many years working with youth back at home has indeed prepared us for this moment here.

28. The English institution I am working at needed another teacher for the new term & asked if my husband would be interested... we said yes! Thanks to God we will be a little more financially stable-- He surprises us even when we aren't looking. Our Father in Heaven is good to us.

29. I'm thankful always for those who offer me some sweet encouragement, even if its a little message saying thinking of you, as it reminds me that I'm not forgotten-- so thank you to all of those who send me some love, it truly brightens my spirit & know I always give God thanksgiving as well as offer up a prayer for you. Blessings to you!

30. Working on the bible study for yesterday's message at Youth Group, I came across some old notes/letters to God & blessed to see how faithful He has been over the years and how much growth has taken place since then. Thankful that I captured those moments of hardship, blessings, wisdom  scripture, and understandings, so that I could remember where God has brought me. I enjoy so much looking back at those and just being so reminded of our Father's goodness and encouraged by how He moves in us & molds us into His image. Thank you Lord. 

I hope you don't stop looking for moments of thanksgiving, but continue to think of all those things you are grateful for, even if they are the smallest of things! Every thanksgiving and prayer reminds us that there is something greater than ourselves & a bigger purpose than the agenda we have for ourselves. We should continue an attitude of thanksgiving especially as we enter into the season of Christmas. Blessings everyone!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Re-cap of the Baja 1000

November  14-17th [source]
The Baja 1000 is a grueling 1,121 mile off-road race that takes place on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. It allows several types of vehicle to compete a challenging course as fast as possible. The race begins in Ensenada, Mexico all the way to our hometown La Paz.

This was my first experience of the Baja 1000 & I have to admit, it was a ton of fun & offered a lot of excitement.  The husband camped overnight in the desert with some friends, I unfortunately had to work. But he got to see racers in action & made sure catch a glimpse at the first arrivals, motorcycles in the very early hours of the morning. Later in the afternoon I joined up with him to check out the finish line, as well as the award ceremony. Its a huge event here in La Paz and definitely brings a lot of tourists-- we had a blast especially Sam, as he loves this stuff & one day even hopes to race in it! He got to meet quite a few racers, admired their vehicles, and enjoyed a lot of exciting action.

Camp Set-Up w/ a movie!
First arrival, a motorcyclist around 3am.
Enjoying the sunrise, waiting for more racers.


Robby Gordon's Truck
Finish Line:
Victory Hug: won First Place for their class!










Overall Winners of the entire race: Gus Vildosola Sr. &
 son Tavo Vildosola representing Mexico 
w/ overall time 19:45 hrs.

Jamie Vestwick: 6 time X Game Gold medalist for BMX Vert
& won 2nd place in his class for the Baja 1000.
Us @ the Award Ceremony.

Below is a short video of clips Sam took of vehicles passing through. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gratitude: Part 4

I hope everyone had a fantastic thanksgiving, filled with tons of blessings, and sweet times spent with friends and family. I know I had such an incredible week visiting with family and friends mentioned in my last gratitude post. I continue with my thanksgiving thoughts & I hope it encourages you to look at your own life & do the same. 

Colossians 3:16-18

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

20. I am so so grateful for my family coming out to visit. We had such a lovely time together & it was such a blessing to make all these new memories. We ate a ton, experienced beautiful La Paz, and enjoyed each others company. I am so sad that they had to return home already, but thankful that they were able to come out. I will be posting a blog re-capping their trip soon.

21. We also had such a sweet time with our friends from Church back at home, who vacationed in Cabo, but thankfully we were able to drive down and visit them for a night. We had such a blast and it was such an encouragement to see them all, hang out, and just fellowship with another. Again, a post coming soon capturing our time well spent together.

22. Finally our house is construction zone free as we have been living in a dirty and roofless mess for the past month as a result of our roof having terrible leaks and caving in at parts of the house. It was a long time & I did my fair share too many complaining, but its all finished, and looks better than ever. So grateful we have such a great living place that's although rustic, is spacious and affordable.

23. God is so good as He is always blessing us. The husband got some extra hours teaching English at the same institution as myself, so that is always nice to have a few extra bucks to save, etc. I'm glad we can work together & also be even more financially stable while we are here in Mexico.

24. My sister brought me a package of the many things I can't find here & I am so thankful for her generosity & lugging it through the airports. Sometimes its the small things that just bring some joy. It included things like canned pumpkin, whole wheat pasta, coconut oil, specific toothpaste, and thoughtful gifts. Thanks Kellie!

25. It may sound silly, but I am grateful for this cooler weather. Now I feel like I can fully enjoy myself, not being completely depleted of energy from the heat. Its such a nice season here in La Paz & sometimes the things as simple as weather can be something we take for granted  So I sure am thankful that I don't have to be cooped up inside & enjoy the outdoors. Life is good. 

26. I love the Christmas season and excited to start decorating. I already have the music playing in the car, but just something about the holidays that brings a good cheer. But then I am reminded why we are celebrating, that its not all the gift-giving, or the tree decorating, or the holiday spirit, it's about our Savior's birth! Knowing the great King was born with the intention of delivering us from our own sin & giving us the greatest gift of all, eternal life. Now this is truly something to be grateful for and celebrate our Savior's birth this season, as He is our deliverer and comforter. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gratitude: Part 3

13. I could not be more excited for today as we are headed to Cabo San Lucas to visit with our pastor & his wife, along with another sweet couple from our Church in San Diego. Which leads me to my gratitude, as we have been so blessed by their leadership, love, support, and direction in our lives, individually and as a couple. Their marriage has been such an example to us-- reflecting the love Christ has for His Church. They have challenged us and really been an inspiration in our lives.

14. And on top of that, this week my Older sister & her husband, and my father will be coming to visit for Thanksgiving! This will be my dad's first trip and I am excited to show him this beautiful city we have called our home for the past year & half. I am looking forward to spending some much needed time with my family, enjoying their vacation with them, and enjoy their company.

15.  During this time in Mexico, I have grown a lot as a person, but particularly in my confidence. As it has been a great struggle for me to have enough confidence in myself in speaking the language and overcoming fears of messing up and just being a timid person in general. But since living here, it has really challenged me to step past those barriers and really embrace this time as an opportunity to improve myself. I still have a long way to go, but I am grateful that this time God has used to teach me, grow me, and shape me through this season.

16. On the note of this time here in Mexico, my life is definitely a lot more laid back than in the States-- I actually have some downtime ;) And although I miss all the events and busy schedule, its nice to understand what it means to relax. It has really helped me to really prioritize and refresh my spirit. And I am so grateful for this time as it has allowed me to explore cooking, adapt to being a wife, spend time doing things for myself, and really invest in our marriage. It has been such a sweet time of enjoying each other, learning a new culture, and realizing what's important and really opening my eyes to being thankful for life instead of rushing through each day like a routine, but rather soaking up every moment. 

17. I am so grateful for technology as it has allowed me to keep in touch with friends and family, as well as keep in the loop of whats going on back home while I'm gone. And be able to have this blog, to keep all my friends at home acquainted with all that God is doing in our lives here in La Paz, as well as hopefully encouraged others.

18. Words cannot express how grateful I am to all those whom have invested in my life & have been such role models and inspiration to me. Showing me a lifestyle that is after the Lord's own heart, to seek His will, and pursue a life that glorifies Him in everything. These adults have truly impacted my life, giving me hope, and helping me to understand the purpose in life-- to serve God & honor Him with our life. Still today they offer wisdom, encouragement, prayer, direction, life-lessons, and truth. I will be forever grateful for their time, efforts, and love for me throughout these many years and know that I have become who I am today as a result of their commitment to the Lord and the way they shared that with me. Thank you!

19. And lastly, I am thankful that God works out all things! He knows are needs better than we know them ourselves. More and more I see how intricately and specially prepared He works in our lives, even to the tiniest things-- like having a holiday today celebrating the Mexican revolution, in perfect time for us to have the opportunity to go visit with our friends in Cabo today. What a perfect and loving God we have, for there is no one like Him. Thank you Lord!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Virtual Thanksgiving Meal: Round-up

I simply cannot believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Time is just flying by, so start preparing for your big family holiday celebration. Thanksgiving is seriously one of my favorites, as of course I love all the delicious food but even more sharing it with all your loved ones-- which I get to do just that this year surprisingly again! Last year I flew home to San Diego, but this year my family is coming here! I am so excited for them to come and visit as we are having perfect weather & really miss them, its going to be such a sweet time. Although we aren't doing any holiday dishes but going out to celebrate with Paella-- yum! So here is my virtual Thanksgiving meal, one that I might make fir Thanksgiving-- its on the healthier side but still packed with incredible flavor & contains all your favorites, you just don't have to feel so guilty eating them :)

To find the recipes, simply click on the picture & it will take you to the source.

Herb Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy
Green Beans & Golden Raisins
Delicata Squash Salad with Roasted Potatoes & Pomegranate Seeds
Arugula with Pomegranates, Blue Cheese, and Pistachios

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings
Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings
Sausage & Artichoke Stuffing-- replace with whole wheat/grain bread
Creamy White Bean & Vegetable Mash
Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes Recipe
Cauliflower Mashed 'Potatoes'
30 Minute Spelt Rolls
Lightened-up Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry-Pear Sauce
Organic Pumpkin Cheesecake
Crust-less Pumpkin Pie
I hope you have a truly blessed Thanksgiving, full of love and joy as you share some precious moments with those you love and Buen Provecho!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratitude: Part 2


Psalm 100:3-5
"Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations."


6.  I am so beyond grateful for the gift of marriage as I know it has molded me into better person and never have I been more aware of God's grace and His perfect love. Paul Tripp wrote that marriage is "meant to be a tool in God's hands to expose your heart and to drive you to the end of yourself." And so through even though it is just the beginnings of this amazing covenant my husband and I have entered, I have seen a transformation in myself, grateful that it is shaping me into who God has destined me to become. Being a wife has challenged me in a delightful way; learning the way of being selfless, to love in all situations, and has brought me a joy that is beyond what words can express. Not only do I get to serve the Lord each day, but I have the great opportunity to do it alongside an incredible man of God whom I love deeply, and who encourages as well as inspires me daily.

7. I mentioned I am grateful for my family in the last post, but I didn't mention how incredibly grateful I am for my in-laws. They are such a sweet testimony and true reflection of God's intention for family, serving the Lord together and sharing each others burdens, as well as constantly seeking God in all tasks big and small. Last night we had the chance to pray together over Skype, which  was such a sweet joy and pleasure. They constantly remind me of what a Christian family looks like and the importance of pursuing our Father. And Sam's mom celebrated her birthday yesterday-- Feliz Cumpleanos!

8.  Of course I am super grateful for friendships! I definitely miss all my friends at home, but grateful that with technology it is still so easy to keep in contact. My friends have been such an encouragement to me and have  truly been such a light and reflection of God's character, as of course bring me so much joy into my life and holding me accountable And also, I am super grateful that God blessed me with a Christian friend here in La Paz-- God just knew exactly what we needed.

9. God has been more than faithful to Sam and I on this journey of ours. Despite our circumstance, God has always shown us His provision and indeed knows our needs better than we do ourselves.  Even at times when we had no idea how we would survive on our finances, He has always provided above and beyond. This time here in Mexico has truly taught me a trust that I had not known before because my trust was more of a  constant worry and anxiousness until I saw victory, but that obviously doesn't reflect real trust at all. I have learned that our incredible Father in Heaven is faithful in all instances and that He always provides for His children. He truly has blessed me with a great teaching job, an apartment to live (although it may be rustic & I have my fare shares of frustrations), friendships, a Church community, a beautiful city, and so much more!

10. I am beyond grateful for our Church family back at home, as well as here in Mexico. I am grateful that the Lord new exactly what He was doing, preparing us both in ministry for the youth and allowing to be raised to know His word and what it looks like to live it out. He has blessed us with role models and friendships that have impacted our lives tremendously and has given us a place to understand and enjoy the sweet community of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Sam and I, along with two other adults have taken on the responsibility of leading the youth group at our Church here in La Paz and last Thursday we had our first meeting which was a success and tons of fun. However, more importantly I am excited to see the work and growth we pray that will happen in each life on these youth, that they may understand and know the incredible abundance that is offered when we find as we walk and have a relationship with our Lord and Savior. We are excited to be apart of what God is doing and pray that we would be His tool in expanding Hid kingdom. 

11. I am so thankful for the Lord teaching me to be content. Moving to Mexico has been definitely a huge change in culture and lifestyle. Moving though has given me reason to look for gratitude instead of offering complaints. Mentioned earlier our living space isn't ideal, but compared to others its nice and spacious. I have learned what I need and what is extra. Also, I have a better understanding of living a simple life that is more slow-paced as well as given me an opportunity to really press into the Lord and seek His face, learning to quiet myself before Him, trusting in Him, and finding joy in all the things that surround me daily. I am learning to be content where I am and how that looks.


12. Lastly, but not the least by all means. I am so grateful to all our Veterans who have served and continue to, risking their lives on behalf of our nation. THANK YOU!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is such a classic and heart warming meal, its one of the ultimate comforts in a bowl. This version is packed with vegetables and is way too easy--the crockpot does all the work, well besides the biscuits, which even those are easy as pie:) or you could simply use pastry rounds as the original recipes calls for, link below.  

Instead of doing the traditional crust, which usually is packed with a ton of unhealthy options, I used an easy biscuit recipe, popped those in the oven just before serving and there you have a delicious mouth-watering, satisfying, as well as very filling meal



Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie: (4-5 servings)
adapted from: Real Simple

Ingredients:

Mixture:
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • carrots, chopped
  • 1/2  medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped (optional)
  • 1/3  cup  whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vegetable or chicken bullion cube*
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large chicken breasts, diced
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 cup  frozen peas
  • 1/3  cup  milk of choice

Biscuits: (makes 4)
adapted from Food network
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • pinch of pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 + cup milk-- couple of extra tablespoons until achieved consistency

  • Directions:
  • In a slow cooker, mix together the mushrooms, carrots, onion, flour, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ cup water. Place the chicken on top and add seasonings, including bullion cube. Cover and cook until the chicken and vegetables are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. (Note: I did the latter)
  • Thirty minutes before serving, make the biscuits. Directions below.
  • Ten minutes before serving, add in the peas, milk, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high or low until heated through, about 10 minutes more. To serve, place the chicken mixture in bowls and top with the pastry rounds or biscuits.
  • *Instead of using bullion cubes, you can always replace with broth.
To make the crust:
 Preheat your oven to 375 F degrees. Put the flours, baking powder, and salt into a food processor or blender (little more difficult) and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times, or until little sized pieces are formed. Add the milk, next oil to the food processor and pulse until just moistened. Do not over mix. 
Drop the batter in 4 round biscuits on a lined or greased baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jamaica Water




This water or considered also a tea, is a common drink here in Mexico and frankly a local favorite. It is a drink made from the flower petals of Jamaica, a type of hibiscus plant. This is a perfect, refreshing, and delightful beverage with a gorgeous color and a sweet yet simultaneous tang that will hit the spot every time.
Being here in Mexico it obviously easily to find these petals, but in the States, you can most likely find them by asking your grocer where they carry hibiscus petals, instead of Jamaica. Enjoy!

Jamaica Water: (8 servings)

Ingredients:
4 cups water
1/2 cup dried jamaica flowers
1/2 cup sugar
Another 3 cups of cold water
 




Directions:
Note: First, jamaica has the potential to stain so keep this in mind with utensils and such that you use. 

Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove water from heat and add the dried flowers and sugar. Place a lid over the pot and steep for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the mixture  through a strainer into a pitcher or jug. Add 3 more cups of cold water to the pitcher and taste, adjust according to your personal preference. You can add a more sugar if you like it sweeter or more water if you think  the jamaica is too strong. For me personally I prefer my tea not too sweet, so the listed ingredients is perfect to my taste. Cool completely and serve with ice and garnish with a slice of lime.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude: Part 1

Considering its November (which how is it already November!), I thought I would share with something I am grateful for each day of the month in bunches of 5 days. Honestly, I have a tendency to complain about little things here and there & frankly it is a horrible habit-- so this will be such a great way for me to really reflect on the numerous blessings of the Lord and I hope to help me really demonstrate to me a lifestyle of thanksgiving. I mean I would definitely say that I am a very grateful person, yet at times I can just simply ignore all the blessings and focus on those small things that bother me... so here is to being thankful!

Psalm 26:6-8
I wash my hands in innocence
and go around your altar, O Lord,proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
O Lord, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.

1. First I am thankful for the Lord's grace, as He daily forgives my sins, allowing me to walk in righteousness and live an abundant life.
Constantly I am reminded of His grace as I turn my back on Him or live in my selfishness, but yet he consistently opens his arms wide for me to embrace and uses His Word to guide, direct, and encourage my heart. Indeed our Savior is GOOD!

2. I am grateful for my husband-- a man who fears and seeks the Lord, who has an adventurous spirit, is a passionate being with a tender and prayerful heart, and has an overwhelming joy, as well as always positive attitude. 
He is such a light to me reflecting how Jesus loves the Church in how he loves me, being selfless and serving me. He shows me to trust the Lord even when at times it seems hopeless and encourages me to be a better me. He makes me laugh all the time with his little devious tricks and we have the most fun together doing the littlest of things. He makes my heart skip a beat, and my stomach flutter, he is my knight in shining armor, and  the biggest blessing-- love you handsome!

3. Obviously I am super grateful for my family! But I'll begin with my other half-- my twin sister Samie. She is  indeed my best friend, my rock, and just an incredible encouragement to me. Especially since the move to Mexico, flying out here as often as she can, our daily phone calls, and uplifting messages. She is the most dedicated, passionate, and focused person I know. She is inspires me also to live for the Lord, always taking every thought captive, digging deep into the Word of God, and living to glorify Him. 

4. I am also super grateful for my older sister, Kellie, who is so knowledgeable and ambitious! She motivates me to achieve my fullest potential and helps me see all perspectives of a situation  She is always willing to help in any way possible, taking her time, efforts, and any resources available to do so. And her loving heart has encouraged me as well as help me make some important decisions. 

5. My dad is certainly not the least, but I am so grateful for his love and support he has offered me my entire life. He has always wanted what is best for me, as well as trying to provide my every possible need. I am grateful also that he has allowed me to make my own decisions, even at times it was hard or disagreed. I am beyond thankful for his love and support in everything for all these years & the many still yet to come.

What are you thankful for!?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Roasted Sunflower Seed Butter


When my twin sister came to visit in September, she brought something for me that would change my life... Sunflower Seed Butter! Being allergic to all types of nuts, I have never been able to enjoy that luxury of a thick, creamy, delicious, flavorful, salty and slightly sweet spread. My first spoonful was seriously so delightful and has literally not stopped, I am addicted-- I love it! I like it on anything, especially my oats, but even on my yams, raw vegetables, bread slices, and of course by the spoonful. The only problem is that is can be expensive to buy it in the stores and well also we don't get it here in La Paz, so the only solution is to make it yourself. However, I actually enjoy it more homemade  a little thicker, chunkier, and well a lot less expensive  All you need is sunflower seeds and a food processor, although its fun to add more for flavoring. 
"Sunflower seeds are a very good source of vitamin E. In addition, sunflower seeds are a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and folate." [source]


 Sunflower Seed Butter:


Ingredients:
3 cups hulled sunflower seeds
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp sweetener (I used honey)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Directions:
Heat a large pan on the stove, toss sunflower seeds in the hot pan for a couple minutes until they turn a golden brown, but keep them moving so they don’t burn. Place them in a food processor, add salt. Sunflower seeds need to process for quite some time, about ten to 15 minutes, so be patient as eventually they release their oils. As the is processes the seed powder will turn into a creamy texture. While processing, you may need to stop in between and scrape down the sides and let it process again. Keep processing and watch as more oils are released, until the mixture is finally turning together and starting to reflect nut butter. At this point, add in sweetener, and slowly add in olive oil as it spins-- you can add more depending desired consistency. Also add vanilla optional vanilla if using. Give it a whirl until you have reached a nice thick, creamy, and mouthwatering seed butter. Enjoy, serve sparingly as it will go fast ;)