January 30, 2013

1.8 //I have a wicked sweet tooth


//Confession:  I have a wicked sweet tooth.

When it comes to cookies, cakes, candy, chocolate--all your basic food groups-- I'm in. Taste-tester extraordinaire. Unfortunately, in the course of the last two years, stomach issues have caused me to have to eliminate wheat and gluten from my diet. So basically eliminating the ability to enjoy the majority of the foods listed above. Sad day.

Anyone who knows me, knows not only am I fiend for sweets but I love breakfast. Wake up and it is the first thing on my mind. Pathetic, but true. I am currently however on a healthy kick. I have a 6:15 AM gym routine before work and miss my drawn out mornings of coffee and eggs. To substitute I have come up with a quick and delicious solution. Healthy breakfast cookies. Who would've thought it would be possible to put those three words in the same sentence and it actually taste delish.

I adapted this recipe from an awesome foodie blog to make it gluten free and added a boost with my raw protein and chunked up the texture with a few of my favorite add-ins. I pop a couple of these on the way to gym and they do the trick. So yummy. Feel free to get creative with yours.

Gluten-Free Breakfast Cookies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tray (a regular muffin tin works too).
In a medium bowl, combine:
2.5 cups gluten-free organic oats
1.5 cups of crushed cinnamon Chex cereal 
2 tablespoons organic protein (I use RAW garden of life, vanilla chai)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 c of sweetened coconut
1/2 c of sliced almonds (or any crush nut of your choice)
1/2 c of raisins (or dried cranberries)

Mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine:
1/2 c greek organic yogurt 
1/2 c applesauce
1.5 mashed ripe banana 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 c honey
1/2 cup almond milk 

Mix Well.

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Gradually mix dry ingredients in, until combined. 
Lastly, fold in:
1/2 c of sliced almonds 
1/2 c of raisins 

Spoon into mini muffin pan to top (if using regular muffin pan, fill about half way)

Bake for 15-18 minutes. 

Click here for a printable version with extra hints and alternatives.

Happy baking //

January 27, 2013

1.7 //I fell in love with fall

//Confession: I fell in love with fall.

Fall in Virginia made me feel like a kid again. It caused me to Google at least 3 questions a day about trees. Do leaves turn the same color every season? Why are some trees leaves more than 1 color? What causes leaves to change?... I could go on. 

The autumn season here blew my Floridian brain. The concept of fall in the past has been rolling down the windows and putting boots on anytime it is below 77 degrees. But being Virginia in October gave me a new understanding of the season. I hate to say it but Florida does not experience fall. There was a stretch of three weeks where I watched entire trees go from green to bright yellow to orange or red. Fall trees are so amazing.

I couldn’t help but think that God is the coolest artist ever. His efforts are never half done. When you stand before a half red half yellow tree, it seems so intentional and creative. I forget that about Him. Especially in my moments of self-doubt. When I feel insecure and don’t fit in—in those moments I question why. I lose sight of the beautiful tree and focus on the weird mismatching leaves.

One morning, I sat on the porch swing and watched a huge beautiful oak tree in the distance. It was a burgundy color at its very top and slowly faded into a mustard yellow.  I was watching the breeze rustle through it and one by one, like butterflies, leaves floated from the branches.

"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex,"  I thought, still staring at the leaves fluttering to the ground. The verse was from Psalm 139, a prose about the beauty of being uniquely made by God.  In that moment I found myself grateful for the complexities that make me who I am, that differentiate me from any other Lauren. Talents, personalities, skills, colors—each person holding unique and intricate differences. 

After fighting for so long to understand myself and figure out why I am the way I am, I decided to fall into it. 

I am thankfully complex//

January 23, 2013

1.6 //I am forgetful

// Confession: I am forgetful.

I may have half told this confession in my birthday post but this topic deserves to be expanded upon. I am a post-it freak and a list making expert. Yet, even with those efforts I find myself in scenarios like one this weekend. On my way home from visiting Chase, I would pass by the store I needed to go to; my list however was sitting on the dresser at my house. It took so much energy for my brain to try and reproduce that list. I left 2 things off...of course. The reason I bring the subject up is it rooted in a much bigger issue in my life. 

I forget to pray.

Okay, not for like my dinner, or when I'm in my car, I'm pretty good about carrying on a conversation with God throughout the day. But it's more for the specifics. I think sometimes I go to God like he's Santa with my request and then expect it to sort of magically appear under a tree. I don't want to pray that way. I want to be in pursuit of hearing an answer. I want to pray more about my heart. I want to pray daily about issues that I deal with daily. I can talk about my problems all day but what if I spent more time praying about them instead? I want God to change me through prayer.

When I am faced with a problem I like to come up with a practical solution. I wanted to be reminded of what I am praying for each week. This is when the right brain kicks and I get creative, thus I present to you my prayer-reminder board.  I use one in my room for prayer and I made one for the kitchen for reminders and a "need" list.

All I did was use an old picture frame, some scrapbook paper, and dry erase markers. I love these things so much that I made it one step easier for you by creating templates that you can print and frame if you don't have scrapbook paper ...or if you just like them :) Enjoy!

ps. These make thoughtful inexpensive gifts!

5x7 prints // Click the image to download the printable PDF

 8x10 Prints// Click the image to download the PDF

I'm glad the one thing I can't forget, is how faithful and good God is to me//

January 20, 2013

1.5 //I overanalyze, overclean, and overprepare

//Confession: I overanalyze, overclean, and overprepare.

Despite my ability to be goofy and fun, I have a hard time letting go. The little things in life have a way of piling up, and the unimportant suddenly carries weight. I think I do this with God also. Truth is, I am harder on myself than His grace has ever been on me.

Before I moved to Virginia, God pointed this out to me in a very unique way. It was at lunch with my family. I watched as my niece excitedly colored with two crayons. “Look Aunt LaLa! An orange and green soccer ball!”

With every completion, she celebrated as if it was Christmas morning. Dessert came and Sophia took a teaspoons worth of chocolate cake then began to recline like my dad on Thankgiving and rub her tummy. She exaggeratedly expressed that she was completely full of chocolate. She proceeded to walk around the table kissing cheeks, asking for hugs, and sitting on laps.

As I was watching her I thought; she is just so happy.  

After lunch, my family stood outside chatting. I began my goodbye’s and Sophia stood below me with her head down. Caleb noticed and asked, “Sophia, are you sad?” She looked up, eyes full of tears, nodding. She reached her arms up towards me. I held her as she sobbed and squeezed her as if the tighter I hugged the less her heart would hurt.

Thinking about it on the drive home, I couldn't  ignore God’s voice. The view I had of Sophia was one that reminded me of me. The me that I wanted to be. Free to love and care and enjoy all that God has for me. All of the things I noticed about Sophia are the things He wants me to feel. God desires for me to live life without walls, stigmas, or apprehension.  To trust I am taken care of. To love and be loved without conditions.  To be heartbroken when I find myself moving away from Him. This is what He offers me; unconditional love, grace-drenched forgiveness, joy in life’s little blessings.

Letting go is easy. All it takes is a childlike faith.\\

January 15, 2013

1.4 //I’m an immature grown up

//Confession: I’m an immature grown up.

Tomorrow I turn 27. Ten years ago, I would have told you that a 27 year old has a husband, house, two kids, and a full-time job (And is old). Funny how I don’t have any of those things…okay, technically I have a full-time job but took a vow of poverty for a year (which is a blog for another day), so it’s not exactly the same.

None the less I can say that I am actually quite fine with the way my life is now.  Though I occasionally find myself in a deep denial of my actual age--I have been turning ‘22’ for going on 5 years now-- I really love the journey my life has taken.

It’s been better than I thought. More challenging. More painful. More adventurous. More fun. And better than a picket fence American dream.

I will openly admit that despite my free-spirited ways and maturity level that hasn't exceeded an eighth grader; I am finding myself more and more doing “grown up things”. It’s just one part of getting older I suppose. No matter how fun and quirky I try to stay, I find myself falling into the norm of adulthood. Let me divulge:

1.       I regularly talk about health & tell others to take vitamin C.

Did you hear the flu is an epidemic? Gotta keep up that immune system.

2.       A prepared purse

You can find band aids, hand-sanitizer, gum, tums, pens, tissues, various types of lip product, and more in my shoulder companion.

3.       Budgeting

Not that I have a choice… and yes I coupon.

4.       I have to bring a sweater or jacket everywhere

Why do they keep it so cold in restaurants everywhere?

5.       Dressing well aka business casual

Oh how I miss rocking sweatpants to class or a uniform to work. Getting dressed requires getting up more than 15 minutes before I have to be at work and having hair that doesn't look like I stuck my head out the window on the drive.  

On the flip side, I still maintain these not-so-adult antics...

5.  I don’t put on makeup

I do, but not nearly as often as I should… ya know like daily. I’m not even wearing mascara today.

4. Checking my voicemails

          I was seven deep until yesterday. Just text me.

3. Colorful clothing

 I wore fuchsia tights for New Year’s. I own floral high-tops. I love my mustard gloves. My favorite coat is teal. Enough said. I am not ready for a closet that only includes grey-scale colors.

2. Disorganized life

Despite my attempts to make agendas, keep a date book, make lists; I take on too much, lose stuff, and forget things.

1.       Snooz’ing the alarm clock

Not on gym mornings… but I do set a “warning alarm” 15-min prior to actual wake up time. Any other morning. BEEPBEEPBEEP! Snooze… BEEPBEEP! Snooze…just 5 more minutes.

I might have to grow older but I may never grow up.\\

January 13, 2013

1.3 //I pout when I’m disappointed

//Confession: I pout when I’m disappointed.

Panic immediately filled my body. My breathing increased and tears filled my eyes. 

"I left it on the plane. I LEFT IT ON THE PLANE!"

No, I’m not talking about my iPhone or laptop or purse. My journal, I left my journal—my life in written word form.  My memories, poems, sketches and prayers from the last seven months. To me, it was worse than any other item I could have lost. I found myself becoming a little more upset about it as each day passed. 

After attempting to contact the airport with no success, I am pretty sure I actually became angry about the whole thing. It’s not just anger that shows up in moments like this; disappointment invites resentment, blame, and whining to rear  their ugly heads. It may seem silly to even write about losing a journal but it’s really about the larger picture of loss. A journal made me feel  like my memories had been stolen from me.  I lost part of my identity.  In the same way, loss in life can cause me to question who God is, and if I let myself, I stop trusting.

I stop believing that He is good. I get caught up in what isn't. When I give myself over to anger or frustration, I give up on making the best of what I actually have. What is more valuable, the written memories or continuing to live in the moments worth writing about?

Life’s varying frustrations are unavoidable but they don’t have to be something that changes the feeling of hope. I may have lost a journal but the journey continues. Focus must remain on the faithful blessings, not the fleeting disappointments. 

 Abundant life is found in the hope of a God who does not disappoint.\\

January 8, 2013

1.2 //I have greasy hair

//Confession: I have greasy hair.

I don't like to wash my hair, call me lazy but I avoid it. Some of you might think this is weird or gross, and others don't care. That's fine, click the x in the upper right hand corner (after you bookmark and/or follow me, of course) and come back for the next post.

For the rest of you, I assume you've stayed because, like me, feel a nagging discord at the thought of lather-rinse-blow dry-repeat. Besides that it is bad for your hair, especially when trying to grow your hair longer, it's time consuming.  I am a natural blond with super fine hair. My hair dries stick straight and can look greasy by the end of the day.

Overtime, (two years of failing to grow my hair longer) I have learned a few tricks of the trade to keep my hair healthy and me happy.

1. Baby powder. 

It's a must-have, inexpensive, all natural dry shampoo. Apply a bit at the roots, turn your head upside down and use your fingers to distribute it. This saves my life. I use it morning, before bed, whenever I see shine I don't like. Not into the white powder thing? Try these colored all natural shampoo powders.

2. Dryer sheet. 

In the winter, I carry one of these in my purse; it's that bad. If you have fine or thin hair and have static issues, just rub it on your hair to keep the fly aways in check. (You may need this after putting baby powder in your hair.)

3. The Sock Bun. 

Greasy hair is no match for my baby powder/sock bun combo. Insta'chic and super easy (with a couple of practice runs).

Image: Primp & Wear
Check out detailed steps here or watch this video for help.

4. Waves.

It may be cliche but I have always loved wavy or curly hair, probably because mine isn't, either way this 'do saves me. I use a wrap and wave iron at night, wake up, add product or baby powder, and go. It's a two day minimum hairstyle for me, and only takes 20-30 minutes.

 Patience and creativity may be needed but I love not having to style so often. Try the no 'poo revolution or be like me and skip a wash or two.  When was the last time I shampoo'd? This is one secret I don't mind keeping. 


January 6, 2013

1.1 //I am a wanderer

// Confession: I am a wanderer.

My mind, my passions, my ideas, tend to be all over the place. In conversation, I have been known to jump from the current topic to another subject then back to the topic without so much as a pause. More than anything, I think 'distractedness' has become a way of life in our culture. We have attention spans that last micro seconds. We scroll through hundreds of tweets, pictures, Facebook posts, and webpages daily.  It’s no wonder we have trouble focusing on anything.

My mind often feels crowded as it is with my own thoughts. When I start thinking, reading, and digesting others; hello overload. My 'distracted agenda' calls me to play games, watch tv, and continue the various text message conversations I’m having. My day is filled with diversions that keep my focus elsewhere.

I wonder if all of the time I spend doing other things hurts God’sfeelings? Is it possible that God cringes every time we download a new app knowing it’s one less minute, hour, or even day He will hear from us?

Wanderlust is this term that refers to a strong yearning to travel. It is to lust after exploration, so to speak. Not a bad thing, unless I use the term in reference to my own heart. I am prone to wander. My tendency  is to do everything else but give God my full attention. I’ll explore Pinterest for hours but can’t seem to settle my heart from wanting to make, bake, or have new things long enough to thank God for what I do have.

This year I am not doing the whole resolution thing. “It’s a new year, now cheer lead yourself into success with no accountability and a heart that doesn't actually want to change at all”… Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a recipe for failure. True change in my life has only been evident when it came from somewhere beyond surface level. My pattern is to be distracted and busy. I am prone to leave God and do me. I don’t want the desires to change… I want God to change my desires.

Bind my wandering heart to You, God.
More You, less everything else. //