the key to dissatisfaction

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In a world so focused on being “happy”, we don’t take much time to consider what prevents us from being “happy”.

happymcdonalds
It’s interesting how much we focus on being satisfied. Everything in life we do tends to be for our own gratification – to make us “happy”. People quit perfectly good jobs, break up with lifetime lovers, leave their children, chose addiction… all because they think the grass on the other side will make them happier. Advertisers know that products sell because they claim they will be you happy.

I’ve been contemplating joy a lot lately. Actually, I’ve been pondering, searching, striving for true joy my whole life. Despite all this searching for joy, I hadn’t really taken a moment to consider the flip-side: what causes me to be dissatisfied? As a wise kid in my favorite juvenile fiction novel “Wayside School is Falling Down” once said, “You don’t need a reason to be happy, you only need a reason to be sad.”

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When I got into a particular funk this week I began to wonder “why?” I had slowly lost steam. I lost motivation to do things and be productive. The job I loved began to feel tiring and more like a chore. I didn’t have the energy to do things like I did before. What happened???

But Micah suggested something to me tonight and as much as I wanted to deny it, I had to admit he had a good point.

Have you ever noticed when you focus on yourself you see your life is full of problems? I had realized that the more selfish I got, the less satisfied I was. I began to think objects would make me happy, or accomplishing things would bring me satisfaction. It’s in the small things: little goals, little desires, little distractions, little excuses, little purchases. I had inch by inch been distancing myself from God by trying to reach for my own selfish desires to make myself happy. In the process I was pulling myself away from the only thing that truly makes me happy.

cliniquehappy

Now before you roll your eyes at the God point, give me a chance. Reflect on this: has buying something ever made you happy for a significant amount of time? has reaching that goal at work, or that promotion, or whatever level of success made you happy for very long? have you ever been completely satisfied in the long run by accomplishing or obtaining something you obsessed over?

If I’m honest, I have never been truly happy by anything I thought would make me truly happy. To take a chance at making myself vulnerable I’ll tell you a little weakness I have… purses. Oh man… I admit it! I have a fetish and it’s bad!!

I never wanted to be a handbag girl but I am. Roughly every 4-6 weeks I realize by observation (either in an ad or drooling over a purse that someone else has) that my current purse isn’t good enough! It’s too small/narrow/big/heavy/wide/dingy/plain or I need a cross body/tote/clutch/leather/nylon/cloth bag to solve my problems. I literally think “Ooohhhhh if I could just have a bag like this, my life would be so much better!” and then I search and search for the perfect bag (which I rarely find) at a good deal (also hard to find) and buy it and think “YES! this is perfect! that is so much better! I am sooo happy with my pretty bag!” Then <6 weeks later it’s the same old story again. Do you have something like that in your life? An every shifting “god” object that will solve all your problems and make life better? It may seem small, but in the end you make a much bigger deal out of it than it should be. You let it define your happiness.

In the end these things can steal joy from you because they take up your time and your emotions. If you don’t get them you are distraught. All of your life is about that thing and anything that gets in your way causes you anxiety and frustration. You are so focused on the item that you can no longer see the other things around you that could be making you happy.

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Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news: nothing on this earth is going to make you happy!! Good news: God can give you ultimate joy. And He knows your ultimate joy can’t be found in a [purse] <- insert your obsession here. He knows ultimate joy can’t be found in trying to please yourself. He asks you to look outside yourself. Look to Him for your happiness and by doing that He will give you the desire to love and serve others and give you the desires of your heart (the truly perfect desires He has put there).

Tonight I am praying that God would show me how silly my obsessions are and how foolish it is for me to live life so selfishly. I need Him to show me because I still desire those things and I don’t have the power to change my own heart. I want to see how worthless these things are so I can desire what is truly priceless: a relationship with God that leads me to the things in life that truly makes me happy. I am not looking to God to just give me the things I want, I am asking Him to show me what is really worthwhile to invest my life in so I can be truly happy the way He intended.

Do you struggle with finding joy?

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4 reasons i’ve decided to do a blog challenge

so i have decided to do a blog challenge! *trumpets*

I’ve decided to challenge myself to journal 2013 in 52 weeks worth of photos!!!

Here’s my reasoning:

1. i’m getting this tingly feeling God’s got some really interesting stuff planned for this year.

2. i want to journal and share my life more. to make blogging a habit even!

3. i have really enjoyed learning more about photography and i want to keep practicing.

4. you encouraged me! you mischief maker you!

So here’s week #1 in photos:

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Always start out with love! Micah and I saw this being drawn in the sky by a plane while we were visiting family in FL for Christmas and New Years

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that’s tinker bell’s hot air balloon in the sky at disney world. We spent New Years Eve in Disney World with Micah’s brother and his girlfriend. It was so much fun and we got to see the places where Micah and I had our first date and where he took me out to dinner the night he proposed. It was magical 🙂

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My new girlfriend! Micah and I are gearing up for our big half ironman in April. I just upgraded from my old bike to this beauty. I’m gonna be spending a lot of time with her. I named her Sybil after downtown abbey. She comes from a prestigious family name but she’s got spunk and she can hit the streets with the best of them!

What I learned from crashing my car

A not so subtle hint that I need to slow down…

I knew today was going to be busy. I went into hyperdrive from 6 am. By 10:00am I had dropped off Micah at school, went to the library to print out homework assignments for the week, researched couponing, planned the meals for the week, wrote the grocery list, bought groceries from 3 different stores (i’m picky and cheap), donated items to goodwill and got some storage items from Target. Whew! Ok, NOW to start my homework! I went home to drop off the groceries before heading out to a cafe to do my homework. After putting things away I headed back to the car, but then realized I had forgotten a book upstairs. I quickly ran back upstairs and grabbed the book. Then I heard the car alarm going off. At first that didn’t scare me because any loud noise sets off the car alarm, so I figured it was no big deal. But when I peaked out the window to turn off the alarm I did NOT see the car parked in front of the house! WH-AHHHHT? I frantically looked around and couldn’t see it… stolen!?!? In the 38 seconds it took me to run upstairs and grab my book? Poppycock! I ran downstairs in disbelief. As I stepped onto the sidewalk, looking from side to side, I saw her sheepishly perched there in our neighbors yard. I ran up to her

“WHAT are you DOING?!” My car had rolled backwards down hill about 20 yards and up the curb into my neighbor’s yard.

I looked around. Not a soul in sight. Whew!

Fortunately I pulled my senses together enough to take a quick picture to remember the moment by, and then urgently got into the car to remove the crime from the scene.

Things I learned:

1. God is good!!! No one got hurt, nothing was damaged. I think God was just rubbing it in by narrowly avoiding that huge electrical box by 1 foot. No evidence. Beautiful.

2. Slow down! God might be trying to tell me to pace myself and not to do too many things at once. *nervous laugh*

3. Don’t underestimate your e-brake.

Now to enjoy a inspiringly delicious lunch at my favorite local bakery.

California Turkey Sandwich: turkey, havarti, avocado, raspbery jam, mayo, tomato and arugula on seeded wheat bread

Hibiscus Tea

Mini cupcakes to share with Micah: Chocolate with Peanut Butter Buttercream, Pumpkin, and… I forgot the third flavor…

All salted with the delightful reading of “Sermon on the Mount” by John Stott. I am thoroughly enjoying this Bible study with my lady friends at church.

Have a great day!

content optional

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I drink coffee even though I know it’ll make me feel sick and give me a headache every time.

I start projects that I don’t have time for and I never finish.

I will never speak a new language fluently while I live in America.

I plan too many things for my day and get upset every evening when my To Do list is not completed.

I want a garden, but I always kill plants. Always.

I think I want a dog, but I only want a warm cuddly thing to play with and not the responsibility.

I focus too much on appearance – clothes, accessories, organization, cleanliness, blog theme….

Which leads me to my real confession. I focus way too much on the appearance of my blog and too little on the content. I put too much pressure on myself to write something brilliant and too little pressure on myself to share what I am learning. I don’t have to write a masterpiece all the time (or ever)…

God is redeeming all of these failures and making all of these quirks endearing (i hope). But i shouldn’t use that as an excuse to not do what I think God is telling me to do: sharing my life and lessons with you.

So, what should I do? I was thinking of doing a challenge.A blog challenge! Blog every day for 30 days!

That sounds terrible… What do you think?Image

6 useful items for your kitchen

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the best garlic pulverizer you'll ever use

OutoftheFryingPan agress zyliss is the best!

As i get more and more into cooking and baking I seem to acquire more gadgets. Some of these gadgets end up in a draw or on a shelf somewhere and collect dust for the most part. However, there are a handful of gadgets that have been immensely useful. It’s nice to invest in something that you feel was worth the purchase. So I wanted to share a handful of items that have been well worth the investment.

top 3 most used:

3. zyliss garlic press. this sucker minces the crap out of garlic! it is so satisfying. it puts other presses to shame. we love garlic, so it gets used to make dinner almost every night.

2. Cutco parring knife. so sharp! it’s great for peeling, slicing and dicing fruit. I think I use this knife every day. Plus, if it ever breaks or gets damaged, Cutco sends me a new one for free!

1. lodge cast iron skillet. the best skillet, saucepan and all around meal cooking pan we’ve ever had! it costs a pretty penny, but getting good cast iron is definitely a worthwhile investment that you can pass down to your children. it heats everything so well, and everything tastes richer in it. Plus, some say it adds a little iron to your diet which is good for pregnant women. sometimes you can find a cast iron skillet in decent condition at a thrift store, a much cheaper option.

top 3 appliances:

3. cuisine art ice cream maker. ok so at first i thought this was a little bit of an indulgent purchase… but i really wanted to make ice cream from scratch! This thing is awesome. every time i use it the results get rave revues and i look like a domestic goddess. ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, you can do it all with ease.

2. electric teapot. this was a relatively inexpensive thoughtless purchase, but i use it so much! I am so thankful for the quick, effortless ability to boil water for anything from tea, coffee, to heating water for pasta, or steaming veggies.

1. bosch mixer. this is by far the most expensive but most versatile piece of equipment i own! it’s a kitchen mixer, blender, food processor, pasta maker and even grain grinder. its amazing. the motor is super powerful and the mixing bowls are wider and more open at the top than kitchenaide mixers which makes adding ingredients much easier.

bored with the same ol’ sammy? Banh-Mi me!

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Thank you FoodPeopleWant for the pic

There’s some sort of irrational connection between having a rough day and eating poorly. When I need a healthy, nutritional meal the most, I reach for 6 month old Halloween candy. It probably has something to do with the foreboding idea of having to create something healthy- a much more daunting task than opening a package of highly processed, artificial, refined sugary goodness. I was having a super busy weekend between hosting a party, baking intricately complicated french macroons for another party and preparing for an upcoming move. That weekend two good friends on two separate occasions brought me Banh Mi sandwiches (Thank you David and Jaenice!) it was my first experience with the vietnamese sandwich delight and I was lucky enough to have the first experience reinforced by a second dose the next day. It helped me get through a busy weekend on more than just coffee and cookies and it’s exactly what I needed. I made a mental note of these sammys and decided to try to make them on my own soon. After arriving to the sunny, 90 degree weather in TX and having left over pork roast from a small dinner party, I decided it was time to give it a shot. After partaking of my first try at making the sammy Buddy, a man of few words, said “Put this on your list of “regular recipes”. That’s saying a lot! Later that night as we were getting ready for bed he turned to me and said “those sandwiches were great!”

Let me help you beat that terrible habit by encouraging you to make this healthier, fresh, quick and super delicious sammy!

Ingredients:

Hot Chili Mayo-

2/3 cup mayo

2 green onions, or 2 T diced red onion

1 T hot chili sauce (whats your favorite? Sriracha? Secret Aardvark habenero hot sauce is my absolute favorite!!)

Sammys-

Enough roasted meat for at least two hoagies.. this could be meatballs, roasted pork, bbq pork, roasted chicken, steak. cold leftovers are best

1 cups grated or diagonally sliced carrots

1 cucumber, cut in half and thinly sliced lengthwise

3 thinly sliced radishes

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

thinly sliced jalapeño (however much you like, or none at all)

handful of fresh cilantro springs (do NOT remove the leaves from the stems)

2-4 hoagie rolls (fresh is best)

1. Combine hot chili mayo ingredients and set aside.

2. Combine rice vinegar, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Toss in veggies until coated in mixture. Set aside in fridge for 20 mins if you can wait (or over night if you are prepping for lunch tomorrow).

3. Slice meat. Spread hot chili mayo on hoagie rolls. Layer meat on hoagie rolls.

4. Distribute veggies on top of meat. Add cilantro sprigs and jalapeño liberally on top of veggies.

5. Bring finished sammy up to lips and stare it in the eye and say “Good bye”

The best chicken salad you’ll ever have… with love from Texas

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I just recently moved to Texas from Seattle and it has been quite the adjustment. Firstly, I wear flip flops a lot more now and sweaters a lot less (as in all the time and not at all respectively). I am very happy to be in a completely new climate but there are some things that are difficult to adjust to and some things that are a blessing. While feeling a little frustrated during the transition I mentally contemplated the pros and cons of living in Texas. Here’s what I came up with:
Cons:
-the bugs… within 3 days of moving in we had seen 3 cockroaches, many ants, and a SCORPION. WHAT?
-the kitchen requires constant cleaning (bc of afore mentioned bugs) and bc the heat ruins everything that sits out of the fridge. in seattle i could leave fats (bacon grease, butter, etc) and fruits of various sorts out for days and not worry about them getting funky.
-humidity and my hair
-feeling sticky all the time which leads to…
-frequent showers. NBD for some, but for me… i dry out if I wash my body and hair too much.
-it sucks to work out after work which is when i normally workout… at 4pm which is the hottest part of the day

Pros:
-the sun
-the food

I have officially put away the multitude of soup and stew recipes and now I am turning to fresh, cool alternatives. I am loving the freshness of the foods we’ve been eating lately and I’ve learned a few great recipes already. One staple that is going in my “regular” menu list is this Chicken Salad recipe. The first day Buddy and I got keys to our new apartment we had dinner at the diner just around the corner from our place. Buddy had a pot roast (he was still living in the past) and I ordered the chicken salad. Usually chicken salad sounds dull and heavy laden with nasty mayo and little nutritional value, but this recipe had a zesty, light dressing, large chunks of tender shredded chicken, artichokes and fresh dill all tumbling out of half an avocado. Amazing!!! This is my quite close and v delicious version of this chicken salad. Guaranteed to be a hit at any garden party, picnic, BBQ or, in our case, dinner for two. And it’s soooo easy! Enjoy!

Texas Chicken Salad:
1-2 lbs chicken breast
1 cucumber, cut into thin slices
2-3 radishes, cut into thin slices
1/2 small onion, diced (preferably red or sweet)
1 15 oz can of quartered artichokes, sliced
handful of fresh cilantro
1/2 cup mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ripe avocado

1. The best way to create tender, never overcooked chicken: Boil it! I got the advice to put the cold chicken in a pot of cold, salted water and then turn up the heat to high. Once it starts boiling real good (170 degrees), turn off the heat and put the lid on. Let the chicken cook in the hot water for about 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. When done, place in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile…
2. Combine mayo-lemon juice. Smother chopped veggies in mayo sauce and place in the fridge.
3. When chicken is cool, slice thinly and combine with veggies. Chop up avocado however you prefer (halves or cubes) and serve chicken salad on top of avocado.
4. Devour.

Clotted cream as a metaphor for my life in 2012

This time of year is full or remembering the past year and trying to get ready for the future. I am usually stuck trying to predict the future. This past week I was sitting on the couch praying “God, show me what to do next. Which midwifery program should I do? I want to do whatever you ask of me…” and He sent me a message that went something like this “How about you complete that doula certification that I asked you to do almost two years ago? Why would I give you the next big thing to do when you haven’t finished the last thing I asked you to do” Touche God… touche… then He added lovingly, “Tasha, I know what you need to do and I know the timeline. I’m gonna make you a midwife. Don’t worry about that. I won’t let you be late and I won’t let you miss the opportunity.”
So, I did what he asked… finally. I completed my certification and sent it in the mail. What a relief! And right in time – Buddy and I start teaching a christian childbirth class next week! We just looked at our schedule and we are barely going to be ready in time. I would have never made any time for finishing that doula stuff.
So I am waiting on the Lord. Is that what it means when people say “Abide in the Lord”? If so, then I am ‘abiding’. I am so into this abiding thing you might as well call me “The Dude”… (“The Dude abides” for those of you who don’t know The Big Lebowski).
But knowing me, this phase will probably last about 2 days. I am so impatient and I feel like I am in slow bake mode. Can’t I come out of the oven yet God? Am I done yet???
This is my smooth segue to the recipe for this post: clotted cream.
I stumbled across this recipe in the book Buddy got me for Christmas “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter” (I highly recommend it, btw!) This recipe is unbelievabley simple and yummy, but it can be hard to be patient for it to finish. Kinda like my life….
I first tasted clotted cream in elementary school because of my friend Jodie, the girl I sat next to at lunch everyday. Her family was from England and her lunch was my favorite luncht o trade with. Her mother always gave her Carr’s crackers with clotted cream. I loved the cream but never knew what it was. Clotted cream is just like it sounds… smooth, creamy, sumptuous and it probably clots your arteries. And it’s great on any breakfast bread item you typically enjoy: toast, scones, muffins. Enjoy!

Clotted Cream (from “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter”)
Ingredients:
Roughly 5 cups heavy cream

1. Preheat over to 175 degrees F. Put cream in a wide, over safe bowl. Place the bowl in the oven and let it cook for 12 hours.
2. Spend this time considering how this metaphor applies to your life.
3. Remove bowl from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Cover and place in fridge for over night.
4. Have dreams of baking in an oven and coming out as butterfly.
5. Pull out of the fridge and remove the thick layer of cream from the surface. This is the yummy stuff you will consume on your breakfast scone or lunch crackers!

Home sweet homemade ice cream

Another great aspect of fall weather is the time spent with family during thanksgiving. I love my mom and dad but we dont have a big family.  Buddy’s family on the other hand is big. This thanksgiving we visited his family and there were usually 13 place settings at the table. The ages ranged from 6 months to over 90!  The conversations can be quite entertaining but I always love the food. Buddy’s family spent most of their lives in Germany. German food is amazing, and their standards for family dining are right up my alley. All of this makes me want to join in the fun. One of my favorite German traditions is celebrating advent. Advent celebrates the coming of Christ’s birth the four Sundays preceding Christmas with a decent breakfast, a large late afternoon supper and a dessert meal of pies, Christmas cookies, coffee and tea. Before each meal the advent candle(s) is/are lit. One candle is lit the first sunday, two the next Sunday, and so on until four candles illuminate the table on the night before Christmas. This symbolizes the lightness penetrating the dark with the coming of Jesus. It’s quite beautiful. This year I wanted to make something to add to the cozy dessert meal. I didn’t get to make ginger ice cream this thanksgiving and I was craving it bad. Someone in the family didn’t like ginger so I compromised and made coffee ice cream instead. It turned out quite well and definitely complimented the mixture of pumpkin pie, cherry pie, mince meat pie, and ginger cookies we had with coffee and tea. I love this recipe. Happy advent season everyone! I hope you spend some of it cozied up around a table full of good family and food.

Courtesy of my 8 year old niece


Coffee Ice Cream (recipe from epicurious.com… its one of my favorite apps!):
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a dry 5-quart heavy kettle cook sugar over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork (to help sugar melt evenly), until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel, without stirring, gently swirling kettle, until deep golden. Remove kettle from heat and carefully pour cream and milk down side of kettle (mixture will vigorously steam and caramel will harden). Simmer mixture, stirring, until caramel is dissolved.
In a large bowl lightly beat eggs. Add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into kettle. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.) Whisk in espresso powder and vanilla until espresso powder is dissolved. Pour custard through a fine sieve into another large bowl and cool. Chill custard, its surface covered with wax paper, until cold, at least 3 hours, and up to 2 days.
Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker, in 2 batches if necessary. Transfer one third ice cream to a 2-quart airtight container and drizzle one third caramel swirl over it. Repeat layering with remaining ice cream and caramel swirl. Freeze ice cream until hard, at least 8 hours, and up to 1 week.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Coffee-Caramel-Swirl-Ice-Cream-15755#ixzz1fLud1plf