Change is inevitable, but sometimes everything changes all at once. Let it go! Stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it.

It’s that time of year again, oh how I hate the word RESOLUTIONS!

res·o·lu·tion: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

About this time everyone reflects on the past year and what they want to change in the new year.  Whether it be to lose weight, quit smoking, or spend more time looking at your family instead of your phone, I hope you succeed!  I know that personally, I am usually gung ho for about 10 minutes, and then I’m eating M&M’s while binge watching One Tree Hill on Netflix.

So, lo and behold, I went low-carb shopping today with great intentions of success.  I can just picture myself in a tiny orange bikini this summer!  One thing is different this year from all the others, I now have a partner in crime.  Hopefully we can hold each other accountable for longer than the usual 10 minutes. (As I’m finishing up this blog post, day one of our diet started with me prepping low carb meals for the week and ended with Sugarfire BBQ and pie.)

There are a few other things I want to work towards this year, but first let’s reflect together.  2016 carried the worst heartache I’ve ever experienced.  I had already spent at least half of the prior year broken, lonely, scared, you name it… I was feeling it.  Our little home town, has suffered some major losses in 2016.  Suicide checked in and took way too many lives.  Sadly, I can understand the thought process that leads some of us to that precipice.  I stood at the edge of that cliff and stared into it’s abyss.  I often wonder, why me?  Why did I recover and not choose that, when so many others did.  Honestly, I have no idea.  I wish I could have prevented every single one of them from experiencing whatever it was that led them to that place.  I wish I could have stopped them, and reminded them of their worth.  All that we can do now, is change the way we treat each other, and constantly lift each other up in hopes that we will be a difference maker in the life of someone suffering.  I had quite a few difference makers!

At some point, I stopped looking at 2016 as the worst year of my life, and started seeing it as one of the best.  It truly was a year of transformation.  There were so many unexpected changes.  If you had asked me 2 years ago where I would be sitting today, I would never have been able to imagine this place I’m in.  Once the smoke cleared, I started to see that the relationship I deemed so “perfect” was awfully one sided.  If you’ve heard the saying love is blind, I would say that could have been applied to my situation.  Anyway, enough about that…  although it is truly amazing, the whole different direction life has taken me.  I’m thankful for the place that 2017 is starting from.  I went from housewife in a bubble, to starting a career, being part of an amazing family, and a whole new group of friends.  I’m terribly sad about the friends with whom I’ve lost touch.  I know it’s not for lack of trying, but it still sometimes makes me cry.  Chances are if you are one of those friends reading this, you know I’m talking about you.  Call me please… I never wanted to lose you on top of everything else.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?

I know things change, and when you come out the other side a different person than before, people don’t get it.  When you figure out who you are, and stand tall no matter what comes, people get confused.  They sometimes get angry, when you demand more from them.  I have decided this year I won’t call them resolutions, they will be promises.  Here’s a little bit of my list of promises:

  1. I promise to focus more on the good things than on the bad.  I have a really hard time with not feeling worthy enough for someone to love.  I will remind myself that I would do anything for those I love and that in itself is a rare quality.  I’m begging y’all if you have a significant other, best friend, anyone who means the world to you…  Tell them they are amazing, beautiful, kind, funny, smart, etc.  A compliment goes a long way, in this cold hard world.
  2. I promise to be who I am, whether I am loved or hated.  If someone isn’t treating me with respect, I will stand up for myself.  If I am someone you love, then what’s important to me will be important to you.  If I want to call and talk about nothing, you’ll listen to the silence and hear what my heart is trying to say.  If I want to go dancing, we will dance until our feet hurt.  Well, I think you get my point…
  3. This should have been number one, but I promise myself to spend more time in the word of God.  Drawing near to Him keeps me centered and my mind healthy.  With all that has gone on, I struggle daily with anxiety.  I’m learning how to let that go and just be ok.
  4. I promise myself, my love, and my little loves(the kids) to spend less time being busy looking at my phone, that I miss out on time with them.  I don’t want to be one of those people who get angry when someone interrupts me, because you are distracting me from my phone.  They are growing up so fast, I see it in just the year I’ve been with them.  I don’t want to miss a single minute.
  5. Another promise I feel like needs to be made, is to little Hailey.  She is only 9, but put on her Christmas list this year that she wants a happy family.  I questioned her gently as to what this means.  Of course, I immediately thought that didn’t include me.  I know those of you who are contributors to her happy family scenario, will all read this.  I know at times it’s awkward(at least it is for me), but I feel like we have a chance to teach her and her brother how to rise above hurt feelings, and bitterness.    I know what divorce did to me, so I can’t imagine being a kid and experiencing it.  I am in no way trying to make anyone feel bad, please don’t think that.  Yet, I feel we as a unit have to do this for them.  They aren’t mine, but for some reason God decided to sit my heart down right beside theirs.  It was like He said, “Ok Crystal, this is your place and these are some little people for you to love.”  I don’t know what that happy family will look like in the end, and I’m sure I’ll get flack for writing this.  I have come to realize that I don’t just have myself to consider anymore.  I also recognized really quickly that I would do whatever it takes to ensure these kids are safe and happy.

There is so much more I could promise or resolve, but there’s not enough time in any of our days for all the things I want to improve on.  As always my heart is to be kind first, even when the situation doesn’t call for kindness.  I’ve been struggling really hard with some things these past few weeks.  I’ve made some decisions, that I won’t talk about on here, but I’m trusting God to lead the way.  I’m afraid that some of the things I want out of this life, the one I love may never want… but I’m trusting God to lead the way.  I tend to try to carry things, or solve problems that don’t need me to solve them. So I’m trying to let it go, not worry, and trust God to lead the way.  He certainly hasn’t failed me yet.  There was a song on a random CD that a friend mailed to me in the middle of 2016.  This song served as a reminder on many nights that I would not be left in the middle of the pain.

 

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name 

I’ll leave y’all with part of a conversation I recently had with one of my dearest friends.  I won’t go into detail about what we were talking about but here is a little snippet, ” My best advice is to be so built up on the things of God that when the hurt, bitterness, or resentments try to creep back in, you see it for what it truly is, a hindrance.  Oh, my dear trust me, it will come creeping back time and time again.  I can promise you that for sure.  A person may find themselves wondering, “Will I ever feel normal again?”  Life can get real lonely and hard, without warning.  One of my favorite scriptures, and one I’m standing on for a lot of things I worry about in my current situation is Isaiah 60:22 “When the time is right, I, The Lord, will make it happen!”  There are some things I’ve been praying for that to the naked eye it looks like not a thing is changing in those areas.  It’s at times like these that I hear the little lady who taught the Tuesday morning bible study saying, “Our God works the night shift!”  I don’t have to task myself with figuring it all out, and losing sleep.  While I’m sleeping, hopefully peacefully, God is restocking my metaphorical shelves.  He’s putting just what I need for each day right where I will find it.”

Do any of you find it strange that we can use up all we have for today, and wake up tomorrow renewed to do it all again?  Sometimes we overlook this fact, because we have woken up so many times already.  We tend to forget, that one day we will not.  I will never, myself be able to wake up to a new day and Not believe that God is real.  That is miracle enough for me, everything else that happens in my day is like an extra special bonus!

BROWNIES

I always bake cookies and brownies for my husband to take to work.  He came home the other day and said someone wanted my recipe for brownies.  I thought, “umm Duncan Hines DUH!”  Of course I add several other things like peanut butter and chocolate syrup to the box mix, so maybe that’s the reason they taste home-made.  I couldn’t very well send a recipe to work with him that said buy a box of brownie mix at Wal-Mart, so I set out to make my own brownie recipe.

 

Ingredients:

2 eggs (3 eggs if you want cake like brownies)

1/3 cup of oil

1 Tsp. vanilla

3 Tsp. caramel syrup

3 Tsp. chocolate syrup

3/4 cup cocoa

1 cup self rising flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup peanut butter(optional)

1 cup sugar

Nuts, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips are all great additions!

 

 

In large bowl mix sugar, oil, water, vanilla, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, and eggs.

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Slowly add cocoa and then flour.  If you are using peanut butter (I don’t know why anyone would leave out the peanut butter it’s the best part in my opinion) add it now.  Last but definitely not least load it up with extras like chocolate chips and nuts!

 

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When I see a jar of peanut butter I feel a little like Homer Simpson at the doughnut shop!  Mmmmm Peanut Butter!

Bake at 350 degrees in greased pan, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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I made these because we were having company, but as you can see I had to have a little taste!  Delicious!

 

 

 

Turkey and Ranch Gravy=Deliciouso!

My sister was the first one in our family to make this recipe.  I think she made pork chops, and every one of us loved it!  Since then I have tried chicken, pork steaks, and turkey.  The turkey is my favorite.  It’s not the healthiest recipe ever created, but it is so delicious.

 

Here’s what you will need:

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 jar Heinz turkey gravy

1 package dry ranch seasoning

1 package turkey breast (or other meat)

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The original recipe didn’t call for turkey gravy, instead it used cream of mushroom soup.  I changed it up because I don’t like cream of mushroom, feel free to use it instead if you like it.  Also I know that can cream soup is horrible for me and I am searching for an alternative, but until then I’m not quite ready to give it up.  I am open to suggestions on what to replace it with.

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Just place the meat in the crock pot or covered dish.  Pour the soups and or gravy on top, and sprinkle with ranch.  It looks kind of gross, but trust me it will be so good in about 4 hours.  In the crock pot cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours.  In the oven I like to bake a 350 until the meat is falling apart.  I like to serve it with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower and rice.

 

Manic Monday

As Mondays go, today was a great one!  We got a surprise visit from one of our best friends Emilee.  We baked Beer Bread, Banana Pineapple Coconut Bread, made a pyramid of breakfast burritos, and homemade pizzas!

We also danced and sang a lot, and made animals with play dough.   Sometime in the middle of everything I heard the 3-year-old that I babysit singing, “She’s my cherry pie!”  I’m not going to lie, it made my day.

Let’s start with the breakfast burritos!

Ingredients:

1 dozen eggs

shredded cheese

sausage or bacon(we used both)

frozen tater tots

20 tortilla shells

First we cooked scrambled eggs.  Then we placed the eggs in a large bowl to cool.  Next cook the meat and drain off any grease.  We set out all of our ingredients and made an assembly line.

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We topped the tortillas with eggs, bacon, sausage, tater tots, and cheese.  Then we rolled them up and placed them in individual plastic baggies.  We put all of those bags into a large freezer bag, but not before building an awesome burrito pyramid! (I have a slight case of OCD and I really like putting things into baggies!)

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After you finish your pyramid and get these all bagged up, store them in the freezer until you are ready to eat them.  Heat one frozen burrito for about 2 minutes in the microwave.

 

On top of all the burrito making we also managed to make this banana bread that looks Amazing!

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Emilee made this dog out of Play Dough that she was super proud of! (Emilee is 20)  I’m really not sure why he is wearing a hat.  Maybe he’s planning to go out on the town!

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All in all it was a pretty great day!  I also had a surprise visit from my friend Connie, who I’m always glad to see!  Hope everyone else had as great of a day as I did!

 

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels…. except maybe pizza, chocolate, or tacos. Mmmm Tacos!

If you are reading this Solely for the Taco Cups recipe and not my witty comments, scroll all the way to the bottom for an uninterrupted recipe:)

 

First let me start by saying that the three year old who comes to visit(I baby-sit her, but we are best friends, so we call it visiting) me everyday, requests “Taco Cups” for lunch at least 3 times a week. They are really good! Today as I was making them she asked, “Honey(that’s what she calls me), maybe can we have these again tomorrow?”
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We also almost always have to invite her favorite person, Emilee(who obviously didn’t want me to take her picture), when we have these. I haven’t figured out whether Alyssa likes the taco cups because they’re delicious, or because we invite Emilee. I suspect it’s a little of both!

Here is the recipe for the famous Taco Cups! I’m sure it came from Pinterest, but the first time I tried it was when my friend April made them.

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I didn’t really measure, so good luck!

Ingredients:

Won Ton Wraps(I buy them in the produce section)

Shredded Cheese

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Olive Oil

Taco Seasoning

Don’t forget what ever toppings you like on your tacos.  We prefer sour cream and shredded lettuce, but the possibilities are endless.

I had a little trouble getting the Olive Oil down…  but don’t worry I figured it out!

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I started off by cutting my chicken in small pieces and sautéing in a small skillet with about a tbsp. of Olive Oil.  When the chicken is almost done cooking add the taco seasoning.  I used around half of a package.

 

Brush your muffin pans with a little Olive Oil and place a Won Ton in each muffin cup.

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Then add the cooked chicken, some shredded cheese, and what ever toppings you prefer.  Today we chose precooked bacon crumbles.

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Sadly I didn’t eat the ones with the bacon, because I’m watching my calories.  They are delicious either way.  Place them in the oven and bake at 350 until the cheese is all melted.  Remove from the oven and serve with Sour Cream, and whatever else sounds tempting.

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The only downside to this recipe that I have found, is how much I hate washing each individual hole in the muffin pan.

 

Individual Taco Cups

Ingredients:

Won Ton Wraps(I buy them in the produce section)

Shredded Cheese

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Olive Oil

Taco Seasoning

I started off by cutting my chicken in small pieces and sautéing in a small skillet with about a tbsp. of Olive Oil.  When the chicken is almost done cooking add the taco seasoning.  I used around half of a package.  Brush your muffin pans with a little Olive Oil and place a Won Ton in each muffin cup.  Then add the cooked chicken, some shredded cheese, and what ever toppings you prefer.  Today we chose precooked bacon crumbles.  Place them in the oven and bake at 350 until the cheese is all melted.  Remove from the oven and serve with Sour Cream, and whatever else sounds tempting.  I also served them with Taco Flavored Rice.

Also I’m sure you could substitute the Won Ton Wraps  with something else, like maybe cut up tortillas.  I use the Won Tons because they are low calorie.  Feel free to change it up anyway you want, that’s what makes cooking fun.

 

 

Lemons are healthy… right?

Today I am cracking down on my bad eating habits.  I claim I am going to do this at least once a week! I also usually state that this time I am “really” going to do it.  I have recently purchased numerous healthy baking and cooking items such as; coconut flour; coconut sugar; steel cut oats; coconut oil; and coconut butter.  Those are just a few of my recent acquisitions.  That being said, I can’t get this Lemonade Cake out of my head.  This cake is so delicious.  It is moist, sweet and so easy to make.  I am not going to bake this in lieu of the aforementioned healthy eating plan, but am sharing this recipe in hopes that someone will be enjoying some lemony goodness on my behalf today!  

 

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