Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Becoming Beautiful

This past weekend, I had the honor and pleasure of attending City Centre Church's annual women's retreat. I attended last year, when Annie was 3 weeks old. Let me tell you, this year was a lovely breath of fresh air. It was a gift, truly, to spend 2 days with incredible women, friends and mothers. It was like youth group all over again... 7 ladies that I grew up with and have known since birth were alongside me. And some newer friends too. It simply was a fabulous time. The theme of the retreat was 'Becoming Beautiful' and the speaker's messages focused on renewing our minds as well as the power (and importance) of prayer. It was so refreshing to relax, cry, laugh, listen, pray, sing, eat, read and just 'be'. I learned so much... about myself, my friends and what it is I want in this life. And how to get it. I came home feeling rested (well, not physically as we had late nights full of hot tubs and snacks) and ready to love my husband, my kids and myself in new ways with new passion. I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult

This is Jodi Picoult's latest novel. She has written 21 books and I am sure I have read 14 or 15 of them. Her most famous novel is "My Sister's Keeper" - this was adapted into a motion picture in 2009. She is a gifted storyteller. When I read her novels, her characters become real people to me. She grips me... they grip me, and more often than not, I find myself lost in their world, craving more of their lives. Each 'chapter' is written from a different characters point of view, which is precisely why her readers get so encircled by their stories. Her past 2 novels, "Sing Me Home" and "Lone Wolf" have not been on my favorites list. It's not that I didn't like them, they just weren't "Jodi" enough for me... no twists, no intoxicating legal battles, no characters that I was drawn to so when I stumbled upon "The Storyteller", I was skeptical... momentarily of course, because I knew I would eventually read it. I got it Thursday evening. I finished it Saturday night. Enough said.

In my opinion, this is hands down her best novel. I was addicted to this book. Any chance I got, I read... even if it was 2 or 3 pages. I simply could not put it down. I don't know how many details I want to give. One thing I will say is that it is sad. Heartbreakingly sad. And horrible. A section of the novel is a character, Minka, describing her experience at the concentration camp 'Auschiwtz' during the Holocaust. Yes, this novel is fiction, but her depiction of the genocide I have no doubt is filled with many truths. Each page described the desolation, the discrimination, the ghastly acts, the repulsive living conditions that were Minka's reality. I was devastated. And drawn in. However, this is not necessarily the 'meat and potatoes' of this novel, so to speak. There is more. Much much more. I found it to be refreshingly different than her other novels. And yet, it had the same delicate thought put into her characterizations and of course, her ending. I am salivating for more of Jodi. If you get a chance, read it! Mainly because I NEED someone to discuss this with :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Five Favorite Things...

Right now of course. These 5 things will change next week I am sure :) Just thought this was a cute idea for a blog post (yes, I did steal it from another blog I follow). Somedays, my creative juices just do not flow.

1. Creamy Almond Butter -

I literally eat a jar a week. On anything. In anything. With a spoon. It is delicious. A few of my go-to snacks: a plain rice cake with this, topped with a drizzle of honey or a scoop of vanilla Greek Yogurt and a heaping teaspoon of this vigorously mixed in. So darn good.

2. Protein Pancakes -

I came across these recently and haven't been able to stray! I have a sweet tooth and starting my day off with these deliciously tasty pancakes help satisfy that craving. I top them with *SHOCK* almond butter and eat. They are perfection! And healthy to boot!

1/3 cup rolled oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder 
1 ripe banana
1/3 cup liquid egg whites
1/2 tsp baking powder
1. In a bowl, mix together ingredients.
2. Preheat a skillet (medium-low heat), spray with non-stick spray, and pour in half of the batter while shaping it into a pancake with a spoon.
3. Heat until partially cooked and flip pancake.
4. Once cooked through, top with syrup, nut butter, fresh fruit or anything else your heart desires.
This recipe yields 2 big, banana-y pancakes. *drool*

3. Food Blogs-

Oh man, I LOVE food blogs. Love them. I read them nightly and have come across so many delicious recipes, including my protein pancakes :) Here are my top 3:

Peanut Butter Fingers
Carrots 'N' Cake
Eating Bird Food

4. Balsamic Vinegar + Oregano + Tomatoes = Best Combination Ever

Not much more to say here. My lunch today: the aforementioned ingredients plus spinach, chickpeas, zuchini and salt and pepper. I have leftovers and I can hardly wait for tomorrow's lunch! Yum a yum!

5. Mirrors - By Justin Timberlake

Since I didn't want to sound like a piggy, I figured I better include something non-food related in this post. I love JT. Always have. Always will. And I can hardly wait for his album, 20/20 to drop on March 19th. This song is his second single from the album and it is A-MAZING. SO much better than Suit & Tie (which I also love but just does not compare). I listen to it while I cook, while I work out... it's just so dang good. Give it a listen on iTunes.

(well, hello there JT)
What are some of your favorite things?