I have been struggling lately. I have been struggling with the question, “Who am I?” There are so many possible labels: a wife, a friend, a Christian, an advocate, a member of my community, a woman, a dreamer, a runner, an organizer, a finance assistant, a blogger. Yet when I consider those labels, I don’t feel I embody any of them completely. I have this unrelenting want to add the word “BETTER” before each title. I want to be a better wife, a better friend, a better Christian, etc. All at once. All together. All to perfection. And as I wonder about who I am, I begin to feel overwhelmed with disappointment at my elusive potential.
That is where my biggest struggle lies: in the want to be “better” than how I perceive myself. Focusing on that want which seems so unfathomable, unapproachable, and unreachable, I recognize I am viewing my life from the base of a gigantic mountain. I can see multiple trails I could claim as my path, each with a directional sign reading who I yearn to be. Yet I feel if I choose one path, then the others will go unaltered. Never being explored, never being grown, never being conquered.
Smarter hikers than I would venture down a path to see where it leads and then retrace their footsteps to explore another trail. Stronger hikers than I would choose one path, complete it, and return to the beginning to begin anew. Not me though. I want to take all the paths at once without giving any specific label up. All or nothing is what I felt was necessary to give my life meaning and purpose. Continue reading “Saying Yes & Following The Path Of Fulfillment”
August is right around the corner and that means my favorite fresh fruit season is about to strike in Michigan: blueberry season! I have grown up eating pounds and pounds of those delectable little berries, and as I’ve gotten older and “more mature” in my palate, I look for various ways to incorporate my favorite fruit into different recipes.
Today’s Savory Sunday is a simple one. But it is also a top contender on my healthy summer meal plan. Dark green spinach, plump blueberries, sharp red onions, crunchy and salty almonds, and rich feta cheese all mixed together for a happy, healthy meal. This salad is packed with lots of nutrients and antioxidants! Plus my homemade dressing adds just enough tang to make you wanting more once your bowl is gone.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Blueberry Almond Salad With Feta”
Anyone remember me mentioning all those supplies I bought for mosquito repellent candles in my Lemon Rosemary Chicken recipe? How about my goal to eat less grains in my post with the Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes? Well, here is a dish that makes the most of both! The left over limes from my would-be candles and low-carb zucchini noodles make this recipe healthy and satisfying. Two things I love to pair together!
G was craving some shrimp this week and scampi sounded good to me. However, I wanted to use up some ingredients I already had in the fridge and pantry. I also didn’t want to go full out Cheat Meal mid-week by throwing the buttery shrimpers on top of some noodles. So I improvised and wooh-la! Another meal to find permanent residence in our cook book.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Cilantro Lime Shrimp Scampi”
I am not eating many grains so I am limiting my consumption of breads, pastas, and rices, as well as staying away from white potatoes. That means I am attempting to be as crafty as possible when it comes to carb-infused and starchy foods. Cue the riced cauliflower, zucchini noodles, and sweet potatoes!
This particular recipe caused some hesitation with me. I love buffalo chicken and I love sweet potatoes, but I am not a fan of mixed foods. (I’m that person who cannot have her food touch. I even have a special separating tray at my aunt’s house to use at holiday gatherings. Ha!) So contemplating eating this slow cooker buffalo chicken inside a sweet potato had me debating my life choices.
Then I tried a bite and my world changed.
This recipe is unbelievably tasty. The spiciness from the hot sauce and the sweetness of the potato make for a dynamite flavor! G and I already looking forward to the next time this little dish is made for dinner.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes”
Today I want to talk about self-care. True self-care. Not the romanticized and trendy version the world is constantly pushing down our throats. Not the bath bombs and face masks and #treatyourself high-dollar purchases and ritual meditations the world seems so eager to focus on for peak lifestyles.
No, I’m talking about real self-care. The self-care that is often a very unbeautiful thing.
Continue reading “The Ugliness of Self-Care”
A friend of mine posted on Twitter and Facebook a few weeks ago inquiring if any of her friends might be interested in a weight loss challenge this summer. She said it has been a goal of hers for months to lose some weight and get back into shape but that she needed some sort of challenge to push herself. She needed the push for positivity, accountability, and fun during her journey to a more healthy lifestyle.
Her post rang a bell inside me. Truth be told, I’ve gained more weight over the past six months than I care to admit. Where most brides attempt to lose weight for their weddings, the stress of planning my Big Day actually caused me to gain enough weight to bring the scale to the heaviest I’ve been in years. Not only is the scale glaring at me, but my own reflection is too. I can see the weight gain. I can feel it in my clothes. And I can feel how my confidence levels have shifted and the changes in the way I carry myself — I’m slowly resorting back to Old Ashley. Someone I do not wish to meet again.
Unlike the old days though, I know what caused my physical change. Even though I was keeping to weekly meal plans, my weekend habits hung me over a cliff and my scarce workout sessions threw me off completely. While some may fast during stress, I tend to overcompensate by snacking. I also allowed myself to have one (or a few) beers each night to “calm myself.” All in all, my healthy habits have been on a standstill for 2018.
Fortunately, choosing one’s health can never come too late. And today begins a six week journey with 26 other people towards the starting steps of losing weight, gaining fitness, and getting back on track. Today begins our own Biggest Loser’s Challenge.
And I aim to win.
Continue reading “Biggest Loser Challenge: Starting Line”
The day before our wedding I went to the local grocery store and purchased a bag full of lemons, limes, and fresh rosemary sprigs. My plan was to make my own mosquito repellent candles in canning jars to sit on the guests’ tables during the reception. Not only would this have added some more color to table decor, but also been useful in fighting the hungry little varmints throughout the evening.
Of course, I forgot all these ingredients as soon as I placed them in the fridge drawer.
So this meant I had quite a few fresh produce items to make recipes with once G and I returned from our honeymoon. Thus came this recipe for lemon rosemary chicken which I pulled out of thin air. I warned G prior to eating this meal that we may be ordered take out. I am personally not a big fan of lemon, so I was hesitant to sample this dish. It was a pleasant surprise though! The rosemary was not overwhelming, and the lemon flavors only intensify the other flavors happening in the mix (and the lemon is especially good with the sweet potatoes.) I will definitely be making this again in the future, especially since we still have a healthy amount of citrus and rosemary.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Lemon Rosemary Chicken”
Throwing myself back into cooking as soon as we finally had all our luggage unpacked, laundry washed, and wedding gift organization completed meant a fun recipe had to be tested. Thankfully, one of our favorite couples is celebrating each of their birthdays this weekend (a “dirty thirty” yesterday and her husband today.) Plus, G is an Independence Baby with his own “dirty thirty” on the 4th. So the four of us went on a double date to a local restaurant and competed in a few board games last night while enjoying this tasty dessert.
I found the original recipe on Domestically Blissful and opted for a few switches to the recipe to attempt in making it a bit “healthier.” For those of you health-conscious, though, still stay clear — it is definitely not the healthiest option out there! But for those who aren’t afraid to splurge every now and again, this recipe was a HUGE hit among everyone and will be taking a permanent place in my own cook book for future use.
Continue reading “Savory Sundays: Blackberry Cheesecake Oreo Brownie Bars”