Welcome

Welcome to my blog.  This blog pretty much reflects me, and I am one eclectic person.  I have restaurant reviews, shop reviews, posts about human trafficking, poems (written by me or just appreciated by me), reflections from sermons, events, old mission trip newsletters – and much more. I also just got married, so there’s a whole category of posts on the wedding planning.

If you are lost, don’t feel bad.  I’m still glad you’re here.

You can easily navigate the blog by scrolling down and checking out the topics on the right hand side.  I also have links to some fab other blogs and sites which I love.  I hope you’ll share the love and go see them as well.  You can subscribe here (also on the right-hand side) or just push through.

I hope you find what you’re looking for.

In Him,

Sarah ><>

Advertisements

Poem: October Dawn

October 25, 2016

A chill in the air and the earth, still warm from the long summer, exhales –

steam coming up from the dirt, pavement, and fields

forms a blanket of fog along the ground,

spilling into the roadways and wrapping itself around the trees.

As the sun begins to rise, the trees grasp at the earthen clouds,

trying to snuggle in to their beds  for a little longer before having to rise up themselves

with the morning.

Awake!  It’s an October dawn!

Time to shake off the slumber and crawl out of bed.

The air nips at your ears and nose and the fog slowly escapes the grip of the branches –

the branches which are also in movement

from green to burning red and the varying colors within.

The invisible Someone in the sky blows the trees as if they were giant dandelion puffs –

the leaves tremble for a moment and some release,

tumbling to the earth.

 – Sarah ><>

2016 High Hopes

My hand has been wanting to write “2016” on things for the last two months which leads me to believe that it will be a very good year.  I don’t have much else to base that on, but the last week has been utterly depressing and nearly crashed my belief in the goodwill of man – the next year can’t be much other than better!  (That was a completely ingracious complaint about troublesome customers and an overarching lack of Christmas Spirit through the area.  I’m blaming the high temperatures, no snow, and full moon. People were just such Scrooges this year, not even content when they were getting what they wanted.)

We have had a fair amount happen in 2015.

One of the branches I work at was robbed very early in the year.  It was my first time ever being in a robbery and, honestly, if I ever have to be robbed again, I’d like it to be the exact same way.  No fuss, no muss, over and done.  I was able to take on some different responsibilities at work throughout the year, helping in areas that I’ve not been a part of before.  I also took over a new function which pretty much exactly suits me.  There’s a lot of organizing, detail, and filing. I am loving it!

We did a fair amount of exploring this year, though not as much as I like. 🙂  We stopped through Greenville, OH, checking out Bears Mill, which is an actual functioning water-powered grain mill from 1849. We also walked around one of the parks in the snow and sat through a star gazing (indoor, thankfully!) We got to see the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra after a few years for me. I think even Matt enjoyed parts of it. We traveled to Virginia Beach for our summer vacation and stayed at a Frank Lloyd Wright house which was partially turned into a B&B.  Probably would have stayed somewhere else for the bulk of the week, but it was super fun to learn about the house and the couple who owns it now – just what you would expect from two old Jewish folks from New York.  We visited Colonial Williamsburg, USS Wisconsin, Chrysler Art Museum, Fantomworks, and our friends, the Mehrings. To continue local exploring, we visited Englewood MetroPark and stopped at all three waterfalls on the land.  I also went to the Lebanon Apple Fest with friends Jan and Shelby – aside from the horrendous traffic to get out, it was a lovely time. Matt went with the men in his family (and the “adopted” Ken) to see a cool car expo at the Indianapolis Art Museum.  They totally gear-headed out and came back with some great memories.

Matt dabbled a bit on his wood lathe, making some lovely little bowls.  We’ve had other projects, though, using his workshop.  He made some shelves for me in the project room (which is still being organized) and also helped me with a couple little projects I have – more to come on that in the future.  We had insulation put into the house and are anxious to see what difference it makes during the cold, snowy winter (if it ever comes).

I had my first dentist visit in 7 years with no cavities!  I also started using and distributing Young Living Essential Oils and I’ve been amazed at the difference it is making in our lives.  From the health support, emotional benefits, and cleaning products – I am learning so much and I feel like our house is already on the path to being a healthier place.  We took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University and have made tremendous headway with our debt.  I can’t wait for us to have everything but the house paid off, it will be such a relief, and that time is approaching faster and faster!

The flowers in the garden keep coming up and getting prettier and prettier. I can’t wait to see them in the Spring, although the crocuses are a bit confused and are trying to push through even now! Our irises from Michigan bloomed and were gorgeous. I hope they spread and shoot out even more flowers this next year.

We are always seeking to honor God in our lives and marriage and want to continue growing in our faith and dependence on Him. Going to church, reading the Bible, praying together – we are lacking in quality time with other believers outside of a church setting.  We both tend to be introverted home bodies, but building into others in the church and building those relationships is a key part of growing in Christ. I am praying that we will have more opportunities and be more willing to take them, even if it’s “inconvenient” or out of our comfort zone.

I hope you have a great start to your 2016!

Stuffed Strawberries & Essential Oil

I needed to make something yummy for a gathering tonight. It is, of course, strawberry season up here in Ohio, so I picked up a lb of strawberries and then looked around online for a good recipe. I also just started as an Independent Distributor of Young Living Essential Oils. I’m glad that I was able to find an easy recipe and adapt it to my purposes.  Here you go!

Ingredients:

1 lb of fresh strawberries – hulled
1 8 oz container of Honey Noosa Yoghurt (or other organic yogurt brand)
2-3 drops Young Living Citrus Fresh Essential Oil Blend
mini chocolate chips or other topping of choice

Directions:

1.  Remove the stems and tops of the strawberries. Allow to drain in a colander while you prepare the yoghurt mix.

20150607_163315-01

2. Add the drops of essential oil to the yoghurt and mix thoroughly.

20150607_163445-01

Citrus Fresh™ contains: Orange (Citrus aurantium), tangerine (Citrus nobilis), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), lemon (Citrus limon), and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Find out more about this essential oil blend here.

3. Using a spoon, fill the strawberries with the yoghurt mix. Top with a few of the mini chocolate chips.

20150607_164529-01

RecommendationThese quickly became a little runny and top-heavy, of course. You could probably stick the yoghurt back in the refrigerator for an hour before stuffing the strawberries. I put them in a container and put them in the freezer for about an hour. Any longer than 2 hours and they will freeze through. If you do not have essential oils on-hand and would still like to try this recipe, you could substitute the oils for a teaspoon of lemon or orange juice.

If you would like to learn more about Young Living Essential Oils, you can send me a message through the “About” page on this blog.  If you would like to place an order or become a member, you can click here.

(Any suggestions made on this website only pertain to Young Living essential oils and should not be used with any other essential oils on the market from any other source. Statements made on this website about Young Living essential oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. If you are currently on medication, do not stop it. The information on this site is presented for educational purposes only.)

Recipe: Crock Pot Beef Stew

It’s been a while since I’ve had beef stew and I’ve never made one, until NOW!

And then, I couldn’t really find a great recipe online. So I asked some ladies at work if they’ve made it and have any tips – and one did! Gretchen overheard me asking and came over to give me a play by play of putting together a beef stew in the crock pot. I am going to give MY actual recipe used but also share some variation notes which I didn’t use. I more or less borrowed from a few other recipes and…improvised when I didn’t have the right ingredients. Yay for cooking!

20150110_203049_1

Ingredients:

2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 daikon, chopped (about 1/2 cup) (sub with 1 cup sliced celery)
2 medium carrots, sliced
5 medium gold (or red) potatoes with skins, diced or sliced, whichever you prefer (about 1 – 1/2 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato soup
1 32 oz carton of beef broth
water, as needed

Herb Mixture:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Directions:

1. Put the coconut oil in the bottom of the crock-pot. Then begin preparing your veggies. I did not leave the ceramic bowl in the heater basin, so that I could add the veggies as I chopped them. Per Gretchen, start with your hardest veggies first and layer up. My order was daikon, carrots, potatoes and onions. I guess that if you used celery, you would do carrots first and then celery. I forgot that I had bought some spinach to add in, but it stayed in my fridge until it was too late. I wish I had, would’ve been pretty. Top the veggies with the minced garlic.

2. Prepare the herb mixture. I was told that this is the key to getting a good texture to the soup. I just know that it tasted so good. In a small-medium bowl, add the flour and the spices mentioned above. Throw them all in and toss the mixture so you’ll have a good breading.

3. You do not HAVE to rinse beef, but mine was kind of bloody, so I did just a little. Also, it was the same price at my butcher to buy a full chuck roast or the pieces already cut. I’m all for making my life easier (and saving time in the kitchen) so I bought the pieces already cut. They looked a bit big, but once they were cooked, they were perfect. Toss the pieces into the bowl and cover completely with the herb mixture. Then lay the meat on top of the veggies. You should have a fairly heaping display of ingredients there. It was pretty impressive to me.

4. Pour the tomato soup over the beef pieces, as is. The recipes I read included either pieces of tomato, or tomato paste. I didn’t have any of these, and I’m not a fan of tomato, so I didn’t use it. Gretchen recommended forgoing the tomato paste and beef broth altogether and only use V8 juice. You could definitely try this, but I didn’t have time to pick it up. Break apart the bay leaf and drop onto the top of the ingredients.

5. At this point, I moved the ceramic bowl back into the heat basin. Pour in the beef broth and then add water until the bowl is filled to one inch below the top.  If you decide to go for V8 juice, just be sure to fill up to the same level.

IMG_20150110_195713

6. Add cover (do not lock the lid down, if you have that capability) and set on low. Cook for 6-8 hours.

7. When finished, stir the soup, making sure everything is mixed well. Add salt to taste and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Do you have any variations you use and love?? I’d enjoy hearing about them!

Fresh Friday – Devotions

Last year, I decided to make the commitment to read through the Bible within the calendar year. I found out how many chapters there were and divided them by the number of days in a year. The number came out to just under 4/day, so I rounded up to read 4 chapters each day (with Psalm 119 taking up the spot for 2 chapters). I marked them off and plotted it out for the calendar year. With that set-up, it landed me at finishing the Bible just before Halloween. That would give me a whole lot of wiggle room if I missed days throughout the year…which I did. In fact, towards the end, I would frequently skip my readings on Sundays.

I enjoyed my reading times. I fit them in to the 1st half hour of my day – plopped down in the corner of my couch with a cup of coffee and read away. I found some amazing chapters that I hadn’t read before, relived some of my favorite Bible stories, found fodder for research throughout the day, particularly through parts of the Old Testament. Some of it was monotonous -genealogies and the rigid Mosaic laws – but some surprised me as being way more interesting than I gave credit for.  I’m really glad that I did this for the first time. I will probably read through the Bible again at some point in the future. I’ve been trying to break it down a little better so that certain days wouldn’t be so overwhelming and the reading pack would be more equal and spread more evenly throughout the year.  It could be fun to read the Bible in chronological order and not just in the Canon. I’ve even joked about reading through alphabetically! Could be fun.

I used an ESV Global Study Bible and I pretty much used it just for my daily reading, but there are some amazing gems of information in there. I love having a historical context for events and traditions. There are so many things that I don’t understand from the Bible just because I live in a 21st Century developed nation.

Now, I have this allotted time each morning which I could easily fritter away with either more sleep or just mindless perusal on the internet before getting ready for the day.  I started looking for devotionals that I could find online to do each day. It is tough! Crosswalk.com has some devotionals, but as I’ve found over the last week, they are not always updated by the time I have my quiet time. In some cases, they are too story-ish and fluffy for my taste. I want Scripture. I want depth. I want substance, not frills and feel-good.

On instagram, I kept seeing some of my favorite grammers posting screenshots from shereadstruth.com. I went through their “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” plan throughout the Christmas season. I LOVED it! On the mobile app (available on both platforms), they have a great layout. Each day has three pages. The first, Scripture. The second, commentary by one of their contributing writers and a cool square graphic with a key line or verse featured which is easy to share on social media. The third, and probably the coolest, are comments from other women readers from all over! It makes this online devotional accessible, real, and so utterly encouraging as you hear tidbits and gems gleaned by other women who are really not so different from us (no matter what we might believe).

Starting January 1st, they began a study on the Book of John. I’ve only done two days of it now, but I’m already pretty pumped to get through it.  Another AWESOME thing they just unveiled, though, is a 365-day Scripture reading plan! It’s right there on the app and, while some of the studies they offer cost a small fee, this one is FREE and allows comments just like the others. I’m all for more organization, especially when it comes to getting more Bible-reading in your daily life.

How about you?!? Do you have a favorite devotional? What do your quiet times look like? Are you a crazy, earlybird (I know for those who have kids, it might be the only down-time you have) or do you just cram it in whenever you have an opening? I would love to hear how YOU get your daily dose of God and His Word.

And if you are struggling with getting this to happen, I would highly recommend adding She Reads Truth to your daily activities. Also, feel free to check over on the Bible Verse Calendar tab at the top of the page. I am humbled that it has been getting a steady stream of hits each day. It includes free printables for a daily Bible verse calendar – each month represented. Heads up that is is US-based in any reference to holidays in the graphics. I’m not very skilled at design, so please be gracious when you see them. 🙂

Happy New Year!!!

Fresh Friday 11/21/14

Hey everyone!

I’ve had so much going on lately! I’m sure you all are in the same boat. Such a busy time of the year.  We have a shake-up of staff at work so that’s been going on, prep for holidays, and a mother who had surgery at the start of the month. There has been a lot of highway driving to go to the hospital, rehab center, and her place to hang out or to get things prepped for her return home. We (well, really, the Huz) installed a stair-lift at mom’s place for her to get between the 1st and 2nd floors. That was a HUGE ordeal, but after 2 weeks, it’s all finally taken care of and installed. Mom is thrilled. I’m glad that she can be more independent in her home now.

Last night, the Huz and I went to see Interstellar at the IMAX. Oh man! It was beautiful! I want to go into so many details with you on here, but I hate spoilers, so I’ll just give you the highlight reviews. No spoilers.

I mean, everything was beautiful. The plot, the actors/characters, graphics, sound effects, music (Hans Zimmer…great job!), concepts. Just beautiful. They did an amazing job of getting me to relate to the characters and their plights. For the raw content review: no sexuality, not much language, some violence, some intense frightening situations. I would not take a little kid to see it. Apollo 13 was an emotional movie, but this was more intense on that regard. I got choked up and teary in several spots. If you’re worried about non-Biblical philosophies, there was no mention of religion, except for a sarcastic comment about prayer to an object. It was a pure science-fiction movie and one with no agenda besides getting people curious about space again and what could be out there. That was very refreshing.

I am not one of those people who thinks there could be life “out there” in space somewhere. I think the Earth is God’s unique creation. But the universe is so enormous and so diverse! All of it was created to give God glory and I think it does an amazing job of that. I have always had an explorer spirit so the idea of going to see something brand new would be incredible. I would not be able to survive in space though. Yipes! But I enjoy (most) movies that take me there instead.

One comment by Anne Hathaway’s character was so poignant and, I thought, almost a hint of the Gospel, but not quite there. She made a comment that love is something that could not be a survival instinct. Love for the dead especially, but that it must be a kind of artifact of a higher dimension. I whole-heartedly believe that the higher dimension is God. He put the capacity for love in our hearts and it is beautiful.  Anyway, I would highly recommend this film and if you can see it at an IMAX, it is well worth the price!!!

Before heading out for the movie, I had some time to make some cookies. Our local Kroger carries persimmons and I have been dying to find more things to do with persimmons. I found a few cookie recipes on Pinterest and tried of them out. Yum, this recipe is so good!!!

You’re welcome and enjoy!

Fresh(ish) Friday – Imported Posts

Yesterday, I decided that I should finally import some of the posts from my old Xanga blog. It’s a work in progress…I was quite a prolific poster back then, but not all of the posts line up with what I want to present on this blog, so I’m sorting through them slowly.  In the meantime, you can check out the category Imported from Xanga to check out what’s made it over so far. There are a few posts which show the steps leading up to my time in Japan and some posts that didn’t go into my weekly newsletters while I was there. Fun times! I think one of the funnest things for me is that any comments left on those posts also came through. Some are spam comments, but some are from people I connected with long ago. Xanga had quite the community going on over there.

Hope you all have had a great week. Is it as cold where you are as it is here? I saw flurries yesterday and I was NOT happy about it!