Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Struggling with depression

I struggle with knowing if it's right to post this. Hopefully there are other women out there who have struggled and succeeded with my current challenges. I've been feeling extremely frustrated the past few days to the point where I feel like I'm going to explode but have no release valve. I've been praying about it and reading the Bible and trying to avoid causing more stress to my husband but I know I'm failing.

My husband has been working crazy hours for weeks now. He works in IT and holds the highest non-management position in his company. He's worked his way up from a lower position and I'm really proud of him. But now that he's knowlegable, he gets assigned all the hard projects and is the first point of escalation for a number of the other employees. This resposibility is good and has resulted in several pay increases but the hours are horrendous. Last week he worked 81 hours.

My husband works from home but it still feels like he's not here. There is no separation of work and personal time. Because of our religious beliefs, he does not work from sundown Friday to sundown Sabbath but works all the rest of the days. He starts working after sundown Sabbath, a number of hours on Sunday, all day every day during the week and most evenings. I can't remember the last time we had a weekend without work, other than one slow weekend around Christmas.

I try to be thankful for his work. I try to be thankful that we are doing well financially. I try to remember that we are blessed to be employed and live in Washington. But I struggle too with the long hours and how he's always busy and how it seems there is no way that he will ever have the energy or desire to possibly have children. When you constantly work 65-75 hours a week, why would having a baby sound like any fun? My heart aches for a child and now that my husband is working so many hours, I often feel alone.

Between turning 30 last fall and not having children and having my husband working constantly, I've been struggling to remain positive. I am grateful. But I'm also feeling like life is passing us by. I don't know what the answer is but I know I need a change of heart. I've been praying for one. Even if the circumstances don't change, I pray that God will change me so that I can deal with the circumstances.

Monday, January 28, 2013

In my kitchen

I had a lot of fun in the kitchen last week, playing with the new blender and trying a few new recipes.

Raw Cashew Dip

Spicy Shiitake Mushroom Roll

Tortilla soup from VitaMix cookbook

Notes on last week's recipes:
Portobello and Zucchini Tacos - We really liked the mushrooms and zucchini by themselves but the tacos were bland. We used vegan Daiya mozzerella cheese and it didn't add much flavor.
Garlic Sesame Soba Noodles - Fantastic! Definitely a keeper recipe.
Raw Cashew Dip - We've discovered we don't like plain hummus. I'm sure the recipe was good; it just wasn't to our taste preferences.
Spicy Shiitake Mushroom Roll - FANTASTIC! This was the overwhelming favorite from last week (pictured above). It was so good, I am making it again tonight.

New recipes to try this week:
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Roasted Chickpea Tacos - carryover from last week
5 Minute Wrap
Crispy Fried Tofu with Sweet Chille Sauce - for Judy's What's Cooking challenge.

This post will be linked with Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Concrete Goals for 2013

Kat has been discussing goals recently and how important it is to create specific goals rather than general New Years resolutions. My second 2013 resolution is to become more intentional, to spend my time more productively. I thought it would prove useful to write up specific goals and completion dates for several of the most important areas of my life.

Abstract Goal - To improve my quilting skills.

Concrete Goals
  • Participate in the 350 Blocks Project. I have no intention of completing 350 blocks as that is way more than I have completed in the past three years total! But I am going to use the project as an opportunity to push myself to finish more (ongoing).
  • Complete four quilts this year. I am currently working on two, a personal lap-sized quilt (March 31) and a baby quilt (Feb 28) for my husband's college friends' baby. I also want to start and finish a quilt for my new nephew (April 30).

Abstract Goal - To become fluent.

Concrete Goals
  • 30 minutes of study time each and every day (ongoing).
  • Find a language exchange pen pal and write an email once per week (Jan 31).
  • Take the JLPT N3 exam in December 2013. The exam tests reading and listening comprehension and is only offered once a year outside of Japan. We have a testing center here in Seattle. (Registration opens in the fall.)

Abstract Goal - To lose weight.

Concrete Goals
  • Incorporate more fresh food in my diet by including at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal (start by Jan 31).
  • Start eating raw breakfasts at least three times each week (start by Jan 31).
  • Run at least three times per week and train to race a 10k by the end of the year (ongoing).

Abstract Goal - To become a better homemaker.

Concrete Goals
  • Finish organizing my recipe book so that I actually utilize it (March 31).
  • Try at least two new healthy recipes per week (ongoing).
  • Create and follow my daily chores list (Feb 15).

Of course, this does not cover all areas of my life. While I appreciate the challenge of tackling each of these goals, I am a bit overwhelmed by the number of changes it will require. This is why I will have to prioritize and revisit these goals often to make changes based on what is or is not working. I know that January is almost over but there is no better time than now to refocus!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January's Nightstand

What's On Your Nightstand

Bible Reading
  • Matthew
  • Mark

Christian Fiction
  • Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings - 3 stars. An alright book that I couldn't engage myself in; not sure why.
  • Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell - 4 stars. A depressing read but it is incredibly well written. I will happily read anything by Siri Mitchell.
  • The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck - 3 stars. Most people raved about it but I thought it was mediocre simply because there were too many characters.

Christian Nonfiction
  • Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans - 3 stars. This book definitely asks some tough questions! It's about learning to ask, that it's ok to question and keep searching. The book didn't continue into the discovery of any of the answers, though, which left me wanting more.

  • Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber - 4 stars. Surprised by Oxford was my surprise gem this month. What a fantastic memoir about finding faith! I highly recommend it, especially if you love literature.

Secular Fiction
  • The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott - 2 stars. Flat characters couldn't save the interesting premise.
  • Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo - 2 stars. This book has been on my to-read list for a long time because the libraries in Phoenix didn't carry it. My current library does so I was finally able to read it. I'm so glad I didn't purchase it to avoid the wait…

Currently Reading
  • South Riding by Winifred Holtby - a random library selection.
Last night I started reading The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery but discovered it was a sequel. Oops! I'll have to track down the first book as I hate reading a series out of order.

Happy reading!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

What's Cooking?

I have been spending a LOT of time in the kitchen lately. I haven't been able to make the kitchen challenge of cream style corn but hope to later this week. I want to try this Corn, Chili, and Potato Soup. While searching up a cream style corn recipe, I came across a recipe for Black Bean and Sour Cream Enchiladas. The enchiladas are definitely going on the menu next week!

So what did I cook last week?

Banana/Raspberry/Spinach Smoothies

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (batter made in the VitaMix)

Banana/Strawberry/Spinach Smoothies

Apple assembly line

Apple Pie

The finished pie wasn't much to look at, which is why I didn't include a photo. I made applesauce with the leftover filling. It was good but very sweet, especially for someone who is used to buying her applesauce unsweetened!

I have several new recipes in the menu this week:
Portobello and Zucchini Tacos
Garlic Sesame Soba Noodles
Raw Cashew Dip
Spicy Shiitake Mushroom Roll
Roasted Chickpea Tacos

I hope to be able to make all of these recipes this week. I have all of the ingredients except the produce items and a couple of spices. Hopefully the $39 left in my grocery budget will cover everything!

This post will be linked with Menu Plan Monday and Judy's What's Cooking challenge.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Who is God? A book review

I finally reached the halfway point of this book but I think I'm going to throw in the towel. I chose Who is God, And What Has He Ever Done For Us? (by David L. Jemison) to read and review because of an ongoing discussion I am having with an atheist. I thought this book might help.

From the Amazon description:
If you are one of those people who are not convinced that there is a God, this book is for you. If you are one of those Christians who desire more power with God, this is the right book for you. If you are one of those ministers who want more power in your preaching and teaching, this is indeed the book for you, and you will all want to read excerpts from it over and over. Many will want to use it for a reference book.

For starters, it is painfully obvious that the book was self-published. I'm sure that there are self-published books that are well edited but this book was not. I've found typos and grammar mistakes. There are no page numbers. The formatting makes this book hard to read, especially for someone who is already prejudiced against e-books. The chapters are long, ramble, and I cannot determine exactly how the book demonstrates who God is other than quoting huge numbers of Bible texts with very little commentary to tie them together.

As for content, I'm skeptical of the author's claims. Very early on, he shares a letter that he says was dictated by God. In the letter, it says that "the inhabitants of the earth had forsaken me, and I had to destroy it by water twice. The second time, I preserved mankind by providing a way for my servant Noah and his family to escape" (chapter two). Unless I missed something in my Bible study, there was only one flood.

The author goes on to say that "ironically, the only negative responses that I have received have been from people who are supposed to be saved, some church members; they find fault with a couple of things. But wasn't it church people who opposed Jesus, when He walked among men? Tell me; since there are two powers in the world, YAHWEH and Satan, do you think that Satan would write such a letter? I leave it up to you, to judge." I find this an incredibly poor argument for why I should believe that the letter came from God and no reason to trust the author's "visions."

Thank you BookSneeze for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Unfortunately, I cannot and will not recommend this book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What’s Cooking?

IMG_5876Bruno checks out my new Vitamix!

IMG_5877The first thing I make with it: a chocolate mint frappe


Green smoothies – bananas, frozen strawberries, and a huge handful of spinach
(fulfilling this week’s kitchen challenge).

IMG_5884IMG_5885Fresh orange juice with breakfast.


One of my favorite features? It cleans itself! Fill it up half way with water, add some soap, and let it blend for a minute. A perfectly clean blender without having to scrub or take it apart.

I have been saving recipes that require a blender or food processor for the past year. I’m so excited to finally have my VitaMix! There are so many possibilities!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Test Post–Windows Live Writer

I decided that I wanted to try out a program that will allow me to write blog posts without having to mess with a bunch of html. I’m not very fond of Blogger’s options so decided to try out Windows Live Writer.

Here’s the test to see how I like it!


So far, so good!

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 - A year of intention

My second 2013 resolution isn't really a resolution, per se. It's more of an idea, an awareness. I want to be more intentional about how I spend my time. God only gives us a set amount of time per day, per week, per year and I believe it's our responsibility to make the most of it.

I don't really have a lot to say about this intention of mine (ha!) to be more intentional. One aspect of my life I can immediately apply it to is my reading.
Last year I had very little forethought as to what books I was reading. A few were selections from my to-read list and a lot were random selections from the library. This year, I would like to be more focused so that I (overall) choose higher quality books. I selected three specific categories - nonfiction, classics, and books that have been turned into movies.

Here is my list for 2013.

1. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
2. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne A. Grudem
3. The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
4. 1776 by David G. McCullough
5. Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person? by T. Desmond Alexander
6. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
7. The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
8. Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke
9. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

1. Wives and Daughters Elizabeth Gaskell
2. Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
4. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
5. Tolstoy - title yet to be selected
6. Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas
7. The Grand Inquisitor by Dostoevky

Books into Movies
1. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
2. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks - Finished 1/11
3. Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) by Patrick O'Brian
4. The Shunning by Beverly Lewis
5. Middlemarch by George Eliot
6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
7. A Girl Named Tamiko by Ronald Kirkbride
8. Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
10. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I am also reading the Gospels and several books on Jesus. I'm sure there will be a few random library selections and other books added to the list throughout the year, plus the Reading to Know selections. It'll be a great year of books!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What's cooking?

This week's challenge ingredient is carrots. I love carrots but had no idea what to make. It was fun browsing through VegWeb's website to find ideas.

I made きんぴら (kinpira)! It's a Japanese side dish and it's really good. I made a half serving and will definitely be making more in the future. For today's recipe, I didn't have regular sesame seeds so I used the black ones. To be quite honest, I'm not sure I can taste the difference!

I also want to try carrot fries (to go with my sweet potato fries) and taco carrots. I'm pretty sure I already have the ingredients for both recipes.

My husband and I finally started using our fireplace. I bought him a fire starter log and a lighter for Christmas so we built a fire right before opening the rest of our presents. As soon as we built the fire, I was reminded of an old childhood favorite - s'mores.

We found vegan marshmallows at Whole Foods,

...roasted them,

...and made a sandwich with graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows.


For this batch, we used Whole Foods dark baking chocolate. I want to try another chocolate bar next time and hope to improve the s'more experience!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's Cooking? Sweet Potatoes!

Judy, over at Patchwork Times has started a new cooking challenge. Last week, the challenge ingredient was sweet potatoes.

Slight problem... my husband hates sweet potatoes.

I decided to make sweet potato fries so that if he didn't like it, our entire dinner wouldn't be ruined. Smart idea! He didn't like them, but I thought they were fantastic!

My fries

I followed these baking instructions. All I did was spray the pan with oil, lay out my sweet potato slices, spray the slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Then I baked according to the instructions. Yum!

It will take some experimentation to get the right slice thickness as mine were a bit crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. But they tasted really, really good. I can't wait to make them again.

Next week's challenge ingredient? Carrots!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 - An emphasis on Jesus

2012 was a great year, the highlight of which was finally realizing our dream to move to the Pacific Northwest. I'm not tired of the rain yet!

I am hoping and praying that 2013 will be an even better year. Normally I make a ton of New Year's Resolutions but this year I am only making two. The first and biggest focus of my year is to spend more time learning about God and my relationship with Him.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves"
(John 14:6-11).

This year I plan to concentrate my morning devotions and my Bible study time on the life of Christ. I used to think Jesus was just in the four Gospels but He is actually evident throughout the entire Bible. It was Jesus who spoke to Moses in the burning bush and it was Jesus who appeared in vision to John the Revelator. He is witnessed everywhere between the two accounts.

I already have a number of books that I am excited to start reading.

My Bible and two quarterlies -
"How to Study Your Bible" and "The Spiritual Life"

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts
Jesus: Pure and Simple
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus
4 additional Sabbath school quarterlies

A. D. Chronicles (a reread)

If I can get through all of these, I will raid the library collection or order additional books on Amazon. I would really like to read The Gospel of John: a Commentary. I can't wait to get started!