Thankful Tuesday

Last week was snow city here in Virginia, and I’m not going to lie, I spent more than a little time complaining about our unplowed road. I was/am not thankful for the snow. It’s cold and wet and in my way… but there is still something beautiful about it… especially when it first falls, untouched by cars or people. And I think that’s a lot like life. Sometimes it’s really dumb, and frustrating and stressful, and things get in our way. Like cars that won’t start, or a sleepless nights, or difficult relationships. Sometimes it feels like how in the world am I supposed to be thankful for ANY of this? But I am beginning to see that there is beauty in the hard stuff, a silver lining to every cloud. Sometimes we have to look a little harder for the silver, but it’s there. Sometimes I really don’t feel like being thankful, because it takes so much more work. But this thankful spirit has transformative powers, and I know that I do want to be transformed. I know what a person overcome with thanksgiving looks like, and that’s what I want for my life. So I fill little journals with the daily graces, and I write down the ordinary things, and I feel myself change. It’s slow but it’s sure. Today I am thankful for:

1. Friendships, both new and old. I love deep talks and I love laughing over board games, and squealing with delight over big announcements. I love planning trips and running races together. I love that my best friend is my spouse and I love the other friends that God has placed so perfectly in my life.

2. The gym, because I have really developed a love for working out. I really feel better about myself and my body when I know that I have worked hard. Today I will start training for my very first 5k!! Maybe some people can run that in their sleep, but for me this is a big deal and I’m really excited to start the training!

3. Peanut butter ginger chocolate chip cookies that are basically healthy. That’s right, I said it. They are gluten free, vegan and oil free. AND DELICIOUS!! Chocolate Covered Katie never steers me wrong.

4. My amazingly creative husband. He has been working SO hard at recording a full length album, and next week he will be launching the pre-order for it. I’m so proud of him for working so diligently and for making such beautiful and inspiring music.

5. The opportunity to attend a Jon Foreman show this weekend. We live in a college town, and said college always attracts some our favorite bands and singer at least once a year, and this Saturday we get to see our most favorite singer/songwriter/awesome person. I am so pumped… and if dares to snow, I will kick said snow in the butt.

6. Parks and Recreation (the t.v. show) because it’s HILARIOUS. Sometimes Steve and I will walk it while we eat dinner or in bed and we just die laughing. If you don’t like it… we might have to have words.

7. Clothing that is starting to fit better, like my boots that used to be tighter around my calves.

8. My brother coming to visit this weekend/next week.

That’s all for this week. I love writing these posts, it’s really such a joyful experience for me. How about you? What are you thankful for on chilly winter day?

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My Favorite Essential Oils (and why)

I’m on an ongoing health journey, and about five months ago essential oils became a part of that journey. I did quite a bit of research on which oils did what, and what these oils were really capable of. I read personal testimonies from people who used them and saw incredible results. I saw photos of before and afters. And I was excited to have my own personal testimonies. I personally use Doterra essential oils because of their purity and the amount of testing done on them. This is my personal preference, but I by no means think that there are not other worthy companies out there. When choosing your brand just be sure they are quality oils, with testing to back up their claims of purity. I use oils to help me manage anxiety, headaches, hormones, pimples, and prevent sickness. I have a few oils that are my daily go-tos and  have really made a difference in my life. In fact… I’ve been known to basically just sniff oils through a stressful movie… I can’t handle suspense or violence or anything that is a comedy.

1.) Elevation, also known as the joyful blend, is my absolute favorite. It smells like sunshine in a bottle and has been a huge help in managing my anxiety. I usually put it on my wrists and my neck and the smell literally gives me an immediate lift. I had been looking for a natural way to manage the anxiety I was experiencing, and elevation has mad a huge difference with that. I use it every day, usually about two or three times a day. (Especially after a trip to the dentist…)

2. Clary calm is the blend for women. I recently came off birth control (not to have a baby… stopping that rumors before it starts) because there is a slight history of blood clotting in my family, and that can be a side effect of it. I just felt safer not being on it, but I was nervous about the way my body would react coming off of it. I have heard of people experiencing extreme emotions and friends… I am already emotional enough. I thought I’d give this hormone balancing blend a try and I’m SO glad I did. I put it on my feet in the morning and at night and it had a huge impact.

3. Peppermint oil is good for so many things. I have used it to help with wisdom tooth infections and pain. I have used it to help with pain from cracked tooth (twice…). And I have used it for headaches and stomach aches and to even help clear up my breathing. When mixed with wild orange it is even good to help with focus. It’s one of my favorite go to oils.

4. Wild Orange oil can also be used for uplifting your mood, or you can put it in your water. I do both of those things. You can also put it in cleaning sprays because it’s is a strong purifying agent. It is also high in antioxidants and helps protect you against sickness! It smells amazing and tastes even better.

5. On Guard oil is also known as the protective blend. I have made a blend with on guard, lemon, melaleuca, and oregano and I put it on my feet at night and in the morning. Sometimes I will also take on guard in a capsule in the morning if I start to feel worn down.

There are many more oils that I use and love, like balance, serenity, oregano, melaleuca, lemongrass, frankincense and geranium. I’ve made cleaning supplies, put drops in my lotions for soft skin, made a pimple buster blend, and soon I’m going to start making my own deodorant. My mom has used them to help with some of my brother’s behavioral problems. And my mother in love/father in love have used them to get off some medications and my brother in love has used them to help with his asthma. I know that essential oils aren’t the answer to every problem, but they are a piece of the wellness puzzle. If you want to learn more about them, and their many uses let me know!

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Friday Recipe Roundup

Good morning my fine interwebs and real life friends. IT’S FRIDAY!! Normally I embrace Fridays with a huge figurative hug and do a happy dance, especially when that Friday is a jeans and t-shirt day at work. But unfortunately this day started out with a never ending dentist appointment to take care of my poor chipped tooth. Boo hiss. A little background there, this same precious tooth had a root canal a little over a year ago but I am a cheapskate and I was paying for a wedding and so I said, “SORRY TOOTH! You’re just gonna have to go without a crown and suck it up.” Well about a year later I learned that was a mistake because my poor little tooth chipped when I bit into an extra crunchy piece of bread. But the dentist fixed it up and I thought… I’m still gonna wait on the root canal… denial is the way to go. And once again I was wrong because two nights ago the back of my poor tooth broke while I was eating a no bake cookie. I wised up at this point and faced the music. It was time for a stupid and expensive crown. Off to the dentist I went today, he shot me up with Novocaine, pulled the broken part of my tooth and then used that awful grinding tool and made my poor little precious tooth into a nub. His words, not mine. Now I just wait for the permanent crown to be done. In conclusion, I hate the dentist… I had to anoint myself in anti anxiety essential oils on my way to work. Bless.

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This was me post dentist…

Now onto more wonderful things, like black bean brownies.

Last week I skipped recipe roundup because i felt like I didn’t have enough to share, so this is two weeks of recipes I’ve tried.

1. Chicken(or turkey) spinach cheddar burgers. I used ground turkey for this recipe because it’s what I had at the house, but I do love ground chicken so I’m sure it would be delish with that. The burgers were really tasty and moist. You do use some breadcrumbs, but not cheese. I’m a fan of these and will definitely make them again. I made some sweet potato hash to go on the side, and it was perfect! I used a piece of spelt bread for the bun, but then yesterday I had one again at lunch without any bread at all and it was still just as good.

2. Cowboy Cookie no bakes (without granulated sugar). These were awesome. I accidentally put too much baking soda in them, so Steve won’t eat them, but I still think they taste like cookie dough so more for me! The combination of the pretzel and the dark chocolate is awesome. You can bake them, but the instructions say that they taste better not baked and I am inclined to believe them. The only sweetener in these is vanilla, maple syrup and dark chocolate. I used to love eating cookie dough, so this is a healthier and less calorie filled alternative to that. I found this recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie, which in my personal opinion is the best healthy dessert blog.

3. Almond Crusted Chicken Strips. These were pretty tasty, but mine did not get as crunchy as in picture. I think I will try to make them again but I will coat them better in the almond meal, I will use less olive oil, and maybe at some dried spices to the almond meal mixture. I paired this with some Israeli couscous which is so tasty. It was a pretty bland meal, but I like bland.

4. Black Bean Brownies. This is another Chocolate Covered Katie recipe, and it is amazing. Steve told me I should never make another kind of brownies again, and I can’t help but agree. They are moist and kind of fudgey tasting, and they have loads of dark chocolate. I used all maple syrup for the sweetener, and it still tasted amazing. These are chocolate heaven, for reals. Go make these right now, you’ll thank me later.

I’ve also made some delicious smoothies through this journey, with fruit and peanut butter and cocoa powder. I also put a scoop Doterra protein powder called Trim Shake. It has really helped curve my craving for carbs, which is a miracle because I am a bread girl through and through.

It has been fun to try new and delicious ways to enjoy healthier food. I’ve had stomach problems for as long as I can remember so I recently decided to cut out dairy, certain veggies, and gluten to see if it helps at all. It’s just a two week trial to see if it will make a difference, and then I’ll add things back in slowly.

I hope you have had a great week, I hope that the snow has not deterred you from doing fabulous things, I hope that these recipes inspire you to try new things and maybe even be pleasantly surprised at how delish they are. You are fabulous. DON’T YOU FORGET IT!

 

Recipes found at:

https://soleforthesoul.wordpress.com/

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/

http://www.redskyfood.com/

Thankful Tuesday

Today was a snow day, which is really the only thing that snow is good for in my personal opinion. But it was wonderful to just relax and literally be stuck in my little house. Last week was really crazy and exhausting and the past few days I had been feeling like I had reached my end emotionally. Just ask my poor husband who has had to deal with my tears the past two days. I have been on this health journey since the end of December, and I have been working very hard to treat my body well and also get into my BMI. I’ve been working hard and not seeing the results I would like. But today I have come to a place where I know that even if I’m not where I want to be yet, it’s not for lack of trying. I am working hard and I am being faithful. I am treating my body well and I am not quitting. In fact not only am I not quiting but I am enjoying this journey (most of the time). I am learning how to cook and bake in ways that are new and innovative for me. I am working out consistently and I am working out hard! When I remember all of that it puts it in perspective for me. Would I like to see more results faster? Yes. But that fact doesn’t change the reality that I am working hard with consistency. This is a big deal for me, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. Weight loss or not I am still walking in VICTORY.

I think that’s a great place to start this week’s Thankful Tuesday. So, this week I am thankful for:

1. snow days

2. the gym

3. black bean brownie

4. a temporary full time job, where I can work from home during the move

5. signing the lease for our new apartment

5. a husband who encourages me and pushes me towards success

6. a husband who works hard at the things he is passionate about, like his full length album, and works hard even in the mundane things, like shoveling out our cars

7. daily victories

8. the opportunity to see God work through our move to NC

9. having coffee this week, and not needing sugar in it, and also not needing to drink it everyday

Last week felt long and exhausting, and I didn’t always have a very good attitude about it, but reflecting on life and the things I am thankful for reminds me that I really have a ton of blessings. Even in the frustration and discouragement God is still working, isn’t He? What are you thankful for??

Thankful Tuesday

Friends, I’m going to have an honesty moment right here and now with you. I have felt very on edge the past few days. I don’t do very well with the unknown, and I don’t do well with trusting and I don’t do well with faith. Which is leading me to believe that this season I am in is Jesus trying to give me lots of opportunities to trust… and have faith. All I can say to that is oi vey. I’ve already cried in my cubicle… and there are still two more months left until we move… BLESS.

This morning I realized that I needed to fill my brain with verses on God’s faithfulness and trusting Him. The more I read, the lighter I felt. I also started to write down the reasons I am thankful for this season, and as I put things into perspective I felt more at peace. It’s funny how I know the things to do to make me feel better, but my initial reaction is normally to have a pity party and get teary eyed at my desk. Again I say BLESS.

A thankful heart is actually a joyful heart and a trusting heart and a peaceful heart. This is why I give thanks, this is why I publicly give thanks. The more I do it, the more I become the person I’ve always hoped to be. So without further ado, here is this week’s edition of Thankful Tuesday. Today I am thankful for…

1. The bible. This book and the verses inside it have become such a source of encouragement and conviction and support for me, especially today. I am ever aware that this book is living and sharp as a sword. It’s always applicable in my life, always relevant and life changing.

2. The fact that I get to go through this journey with Steven. There is literally noone else in the world I would rather do all of this with. It’s hard but it’s good. There are tears but there is SO MUCH laughter… like so much. It’s so much easier and better to do the hard stuff when you get to do it with someone awesome.

3. Houses for us to look at tomorrow, and an apartment to rent if those don’t work out.

4. Healthy food, i.e. black bean brownies. They are amazing, don’t let the “bean” part throw you off.

5. The gym.

6. Dinner with a friend tonight.

7. My job and my wonderful boss.

8. Being able to watch parts of If:Gathering this past weekend.

9. Trader Joes… because it’s a magical land of food. Amen.

That’s all for this week my friends. Life is equal parts hard and magical. It is filled with sacred moments and moments where I want to sit on the floor and cry. I’m thankful for it all, even the hard stuff.

What are YOU thankful for friends? I really want to know!!!!

Friday Recipe Roundup

YAAAAAAYYY! It’s Friday! Fridays are fabulous. This weekend Steven and I are spending Saturday in North Carolina, doing some apartment hunting. I am praying that we will have a little bit more clarity and perhaps some direction about where we will be living. We know the general area, but we just don’t have a place to move into yet and because of that we can’t set a move in date. So once we are able to narrow down our choices, we’ll be able to get the moving ball rolling a little bit more. I’m continuing to feel equal parts nervous and excited during this whole process, but I am praying big prayers, that God will keep fear out of my heart. He is a big God, I have seen His power before and I am believing that I will get to see it again!

My healthy lifestyle change is still going well. I have been attempting to go to the gym everyday, with my more intense days being Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I have been loving this addition because the gym makes me feel like a million bucks. I am working hard and feeling good about my choices, which in turn causes me to like myself a little more. And I’m continuing to find healthier recipes that I really enjoy! I only have three for you this week, plus one delicious suggestion.

Recipe number one is a stuffed pepper soup. It was AMAZING. And it made so much that we had leftovers for lunches and dinner. Steve really liked this one too so it was a winner all the way around. Winter is the perfect time for soup, and this is a really tasty and hearty one. I love stuffed peppers… but I don’t know if I’ll have made them again now that I’ve tried the soup. YUMMMMM! Here is the recipe. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef because that’s just how we roll in the Combs house. I also used a little less than 3 cups of rice but it was still plenty. I’ll definitely be making this one again… probably this week in fact.

healthy-stuffed pepper soup-soup recipe

Recipe number two was crock pot chicken and rice bowls. Apparently I really like Mexican food. This was also really good. I put some organic light sour cream on and some lettuce and it was delish! I probably won’t make this a ton, simply because I try to not make rice too much, even when it’s brown rice. I wonder how this would taste with quinoa instead? Maybe I’ll have to try that. I also love crock pot meals because they give me the ability to have dinner ready right after work, even when I can’t be home. It’s so convenient. Here is the recipe.

Light-Crock-Pot-Fiesta-Chicken-Rice-Bowls

Recipe number three is a creamy chicken quinoa and broccoli casserole. I am actually going to be making this one tonight, but I’ve made it in the past. I LOVE quinoa and broccoli so this is a match made in heavy. I’m excited! Here is the recipe. This week’s dishes have been a little bit more heavy, but still filled with good things. Quinoa is a super food, and is extremely versatile. If you haven’t used it in your cooking before, I highly recommend giving it a try.

quinoa-casserole

My final tidbit for you is that you MUST try Bark Thins. They are pieces of dark chocolate bark, normally packed with delicious things. My favorite one is the dark chocolate with pretzel and sea salt. These pieces of deliciousness are fair trade and GMO free so I feel like I am making a solid choice for my health and for someone else in the world. Chocolate is one of the most important things to buy fair trade, as the people that work in this market are often times abused. They sell this brand on amazon, but it’s overpriced! I got mine from Fresh Market but they also sell them at my local Kroger. If you check out their website there is also a list of additional places this treat can be found.

bark thinsChanging my lifestyle has definitely pushed me in my cooking endeavors. Like making lasagna and noodles with zucchini and crust with cauliflower. It’s so fun to try new things and find healthier alternatives for the things I love! Happy and healthy cooking to you my friend!

 

Website I got these recipes from:

Six2Eleven

Pinch of Yum

Julia’s Eats and Treats

Thankful Tuesday

Well folks, I’m bringing back Thankful Tuesday, or at least attempting to do so. This is a pretty crazy season and I have a feeling I will have a lot to write on each Tuesday. I’m excited to share with all of you the ways we see God move as we enter to this season of unknown.

As many of you probably already know Steve and I are moving to North Carolina in 2ish months for him to start PA school at Campbell University. In exactly two months from today we will be done with our jobs and begin the process of packing and moving. I feel equal parts excited and nervous and sad. I’m excited for a new beginning, and a new adventure with Steven. I’m excited to live closer to a Trader Joes and have new places to explore. I’m nervous because we’re starting from scratch! New home, new friends, new church, new job. New new new new new. Lynchburg has been my home for the past 7ish years. I know her well. I know her best restaurants, I know her best walking trails. I know the places to frequent and the places to stay away from. This new town will be so unknown. Which is exciting and scary. I am sad because we will be leaving behind people that have become so dear to us and a house that has absolutely become our home. We are leaving behind a sister and brother, a boss who has become like family, and friends who encourage and support. Leaving all of that is definitely sad. So basically I’m feeling every emotion possible, at the exact same time. WELCOME TO MY LIFE PEOPLE.

All of that being said, this week this is what I am thankful for:

1. 11 pounds lost! HOORAY! I have been working very hard, and the power of God has gone before me, preparing a way for me to say NO to sweets and carbs and every other thing that typically tempts me.

2. A new hair cut and color. Yes I know that sounds vain, but my hair was driving me CRAZY! So a little bit of a short do, and some new fresh color to cover the botched mess that I caused last time, has me feeling like a new lady. Also, I’ve decided I quit using natural and organic shampoo and conditioner… I CAN ONLY BE SO CRUNCHY! I have realized my limit is my hair.

3. A husband who encourages and motivates me on this journey towards healthy living (and in everything else). He also doesn’t hate me when I go through my lady time… so needless to say he’s a keeper for sure.

4. The gym. I legit LOVE going to the gym. I’m not sure who I even am anymore, but I like it. I love the feeling after I have a really good workout. I feel like I can take over the world.

5. Green smoothies. They are another thing that makes me feel like I could take over the world.

6. Pinterest, because I feel like I have the recipe world at my fingertips. It’s so much easier to eat healthy and not get board when you have pinterest.

7. My dear dear friends. They are supportive and encouraging and challenge me in every way.

8. My essential oils. They are the best.

That’s all for this week! Please notice that coffee is nowhere on the list. I have been off caffeine for over a month now. I MISS IT! SO MUCH!

I love you all dearly. We can do hard things. Now it’s your turn, what are YOU thankful for??