Living free because Jesus Christ chose me. Wife to Anthony. Love reading & writing blogs, crafting & cooking! CSUS MA alumni, work in Special Education.
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I am very excited to present the first video Anthony & I edited. This was shot with my iPhone 4 camera while we were on vacation a few weekends ago.

Video crew: myself, Anthony, and Donna (mother-in-law)

Rafters: Scott (father-in-law), Brianna (sister-in-law), Nissa (cousin), Dallas (cousin), and a few anonymous rafters

Last Friday, I informed a friend that I would no longer be in the business of baking cookies. They don’t ever turn out perfectly; they’re either too crunchy, flat, or mushy, I told her. Maybe I should start baking cookie bars instead? As I love reading blogs, I soon went on my Google Reader and saw a post from Two Peas and Their Pod for Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. I texted my husband and told him I had discovered a recipe for cookie bars and I was thinking about making them that night. Seeing as how he loves chocolate chip cookies, he was happy!

Since it would only be the two of us eating the cookies, I chose to cut the recipe in half. I used white whole wheat flour as a substitute for the all-purpose flour and extra virgin coconut oil instead of the butter (except for about 1 tablespoon). Coconut oil has recently been getting a lot of press as it is better for you than using regular oil. Katie who blogs at Kitchen Stewardship has a really informative post on coconut oil’s health benefits. 

They turned out to be delicious! The cookies were the perfect texture: soft, yet a little crunchy, with gooey chocolate chips. I would definately recommend trying this method of cookie baking. It saves time and cleanup.

Have you ever tried baking cookie bars? 

I want to share a topic that really bothers me and I admit, consumes a lot of my time: WORRY.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, the Bible is the road map (think of it as Google Maps) for my life. I believe that the Bible is the very Word of God and it was written down by men who He told what to write. The truth that is written inside of its many, many pages is alive because the Spirit of God is living and causes it to have meaning and relevance to human beings. There are lots of scriptures in the Bible that have spoken to my heart. I’d like to discuss the following section with you, Matthew 6:25-34.

This part of the Bible is very close to my heart. I find great comfort in reading about the care and love of God for his children. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to his disciples (follower and friends) and tells them not to worry. He gives a few comparisons with the birds of the air (also known as sparrows or ravens), the lilies of the field, and grass of the field.

Sometime ago, I looked up specific details from this passage. I discovered that in Jewish culture and Bible times, the birds of the air, commonly known as sparrows or ravens, were very common. In fact, these birds were brought by the poorest people as sacrifices to the Lord. Jesus tells his disciples, which includes us that His Heavenly Father feeds them. He then asks, are we not more valuable than birds?

God is the one who knows the number of hours we will live. Worrying about the time we have doesn’t make it shorter or longer.

Jesus continues with another example, the lilies of the field. They grow by God’s command and he clothes them. He says that Solomon, who was the wealthiest and wisest man in the Old Testament (see 1 Kings 3), wasn’t clothed as magnificently as the beautiful lilies!

Jesus finishes this conversation with a comparison of how God clothes the grass of the field. Field grass is incredibly ordinary. It is alive today and dies tomorrow. Yet, God clothes it.

Jesus command to us is straightforward, do not worry. Do not worry about what to eat, drink, or wear. Only people who do not know the Heavenly Father worry about these things. When we seek first the Kingdom of God and make those things our priority, He is faithful and will give us what we need.

The command to not worry is something I struggle to remember. What can we do to not forget? We need only remember the birds, lilies, and field grasses- the next time we see them, may we remember the truth that God cares for us- His children.

Matthew 6:25-34, New International Version

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This passage is also recorded in Luke 12:22-34

Top Ten {Tuesday}

This is my second edition of Top Ten Tuesday hosted by Amanda who blogs at Oh Amanda.

Please note: this list is not in preferential order.

  1. The Man from Snowy River - I love all of the scenery in this movie, the music, and the suspense. I like this movie so much my sister, Heidi, played Jessica’s Theme on the piano during our wedding ceremony! I also found out today that my Mom went into labor with me while she was watching this film. Maybe that’s a reason I love it so much!
  2. The Toy Story Trilogy - my favorite of the three movies is the original Toy Story and Sheriff Woody is my favorite toy. “You are a child’s play thing!”
  3. Little Women (the 1994 version with Winona Ryder & Kirsten Dunst) - “[Amy speaking of Jo’s hair cut] Oh Jo, your one true beauty”.
  4. Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (with Megan Follows as Anne) - Gilbert Blythe must live!
  5. My Fair Lady - I love all of Eliza’s beautiful dresses and hats. The scene at the horse racetrack is quite memorable!
  6. White Christmas, 1954 in Technicolor - “[In the traincar] Snow, snow, snow, snow! It won’t be long until we’ll all be there with snow…”
  7. Cast Away - Tom Hanks is so compelling in this film. Favorite quote, “So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail…”
  8. Cinderella, the 1950’s version - “[Cinderella singing] A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep…”
  9. The Emperor’s New Groove - so many funny (albeit cheesy) one liners. “Llama face!” “No, touchy” “Welcome to Kuzcotopia, my ultimate summer getaway, complete with water slide. It’s my birthday present to me. I’m so happy!”
  10. The Fiddler on the Roof - seriously, the songs are awesome! Personal favorite, because Tevye reminds me of my Dad (he used to walk around the house and sing this song), “If I were a rich man…”

There you have it! What are your favorite movies?

Although I already have a custom iPad case from Rickshaw Bagworks, I could not resist buying this beautiful handsewn case from The Pleated Poppy. In case you’re curious, I chose the one named Seaglass!!! Oh and I purchased extra of this fabric tool since parents bought me a sewing machine for my birthday and graduation! Yahoo for crafting!

For the month of June, I had begun reading Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, as a part of the Booking It series, but I couldn’t get through it. I think it is because I just finished a few years of “required reading” for school, and Pilgrim’s Progress is a meaningful book that needs significant thought and I don’t have the patience for it right now. Hopefully I’ll read it later on, as I have heard wonderful things about it.

Instead, I read Jennette Fulda's personal weight loss story called, Half-Assed: A Weight-loss Memoir. Fulda kept an online journal/blog and it was the starting point for this book.

Fulda is very real about her 192 pound weight loss journey. There were a few events that led to her realizing she needed to lose weight (you’ll have to read the book to find out the specifics). Her family members were also overweight and it was something they never spoke about. She mentions she wasn’t one of those girls whose mother constantly nagged her about weight. She purposely wouldn’t tell the readers what weight loss method she used, as it wasn’t just one specific thing she did to lose the weight of a whole person.

I appreciated that she addressed the fact that successful weight loss only occurs when you consistently practice good eating and health habits. Three years ago this month, in a department store fitting room, I saw the cold reality that I had gained a lot of weight. I had tried to lose weight before, but my motivation to keep healthy habits would quickly wane. I could stay on a diet for a few weeks, maybe a month or two, but then got burned out and would gain the weight back. This time though, it was different. I was really bothered with how I had so easily “let myself go”. Unlike, Fulda who said she had never tried a diet, I had and it was shocking how fast I was a plumper version.

Fulda wrote about the emotional, psychological, and physiological effects weight loss had on her. I could relate with what she said, because I had experienced, on a smaller scale-no pun intended :-), what she described. Choosing a parking spot further away from a store’s door added physical activity to Fulda’s day. Learning how to cook, instead of using the microwave or fast-food driveways, enabled her to lose even more weight. One of my favorite points she made was that she would only do something she could sustain. Taking the stairs at her office was a starting point to increasing daily exercise. She wrote that baby steps mattered and they added up to bigger things.

Whether or not you have struggled with your weight, Fulda’s writing will give you a picture of a successful weight loss journey. It is an entertaining read and there were points I laughed and cried because of her sincerity. I hope this post has given you more of a desire to read the book, I definitely think you will like it. 

Today I visited the Goodwill Thrift Store off Calvine Road in the outskirts of Elk Grove after bringing my husband some coffee at work. This location is very new, super clean, and didn’t have any interesting smells like I’ve experienced at a couple other stores. 

"Thrifting" is a newer activity to me. My friend, Jackie was the first person to introduce me to the way one shops in these stores and I have found it to be quite fun!

A few tips when you go thrifting is to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to change out of. It is a good idea to try on any clothing you might want to purchase. Thrift stores, unlike retail stores, won’t allow returns. If you have buyer’s remorse, like I often do, make sure you really like the item before you buy it.

After scanning the racks for much needed black pants for work, I found a number of items I wanted to try on. I headed to the fitting rooms, which were incredibly clean, and ended up purchasing the following:

  • white Charter Club capri shorts
  • black Charter Club capri shorts
  • black & white striped Dockers pants

All of the items I found had the original tags on them! My clothing purchases totaled $17.00, less than half the price of one of the paris of capris normally. YAHOO!

Do you shop at thrift stores? What have been your experiences?


This post is overdue as I got a teensy bit busy finishing up my Master’s degree and doing two jobs at work! As part of my reading plan for 2011, I wanted to read “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. I finished this book a few weeks ago and I think I will want to re-read it a few times over my lifetime to actually understand the depth Manning discussed. Our friend, PC who blogs at Ragamuffin Ramblings recommended this book. Here are my personal highlights:

  • Through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son (page 20)
  • When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am (p. 23)
  • The legalists can never live up to the expectations they project on God (p. 40)
  • But trust in the God who loves consistently and faithfully nurtures confident, free disciples. A loving God fosters a loving people (p. 41)
  • In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us-that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough. That is the root of peace. We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek. When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it (p. 46)
  • For Jesus this fellowship at the table with those whom the devout had written off was not merely the expression of liberal tolerance and humanitarian sentiment. It was the expression of His mission and message: peace and reconciliation for all, without exception, even for the moral failures (p. 62)
  • Joy was in fact the most characteristic result of all His ministry to ragamuffins (p. 62)
  • Christianity happens when men and women accept with unwavering trust that their sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten, washed away in the blood of the Lamb (p. 119)
  • Trust clings to the belief that whatever happens in our lives is designed to teach us holiness (p. 120)
  • The deadening spirit of hypocrisy lives on…in people who prefer to surrender control of their souls to rules rather than run the risk of living in union with Jesus (p. 140)

The chapter titled, Freedom From Fear (pp. 145-162), was was one of the most impacting chapters of the book for me

  • Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence form peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manipulate our lives. What will the neighbors think? What will my friends think? The expectations of others can exert a subtle but controlling pressure on our behavior (p. 152)
  • In Christ Jesus, freedom from fear empowers us to let go the desire to appear good, so we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are (p. 152)
  • Living by grace inspires a growing consciousness that I am what I am in the sight of Jesus (p. 154)
  • Behind people’s grumpiest poses and most puzzling defense mechanisms, behind their arrogance and airs, behind their silence, sneers, and causes, Jesus saw little children who hadn’t been loved enough and who had ceased growing because someone ceased believing in them. His extraordinary sensitivity caused Jesus to speak of the faithful as children, no matter how tall, rich, clever, and successful they might be (p. 157-158)
  • Once again, gentleness toward ourselves constitutes the core of our gentleness with others. … Solidarity with ragamuffins frees the one who receives compassion and liberates the one who gives it in the conscious awareness “I am the other.” (p. 159)
  • Certainly “tough love” and discipline have their place in the Christian family. If children are not educated to the difference between right and wrong, they can easily become neurotic. However, only the discipline administered out of love is corrective and productive (p. 159)
  • The decisive thing is the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ground and source of our freedom lies not in ourselves, who are by nature slaves to sin, but in the freedom of His grace setting us free in Christ by the Holy Spirit. We are free from the slavery of sin-for what? For the saving grace of the living God! (p. 161)
  • Second journeys usually end with a new wisdom and a coming to a true sense of self that releases great power. … It is a wisdom that gives some things up, lets some things die, and accepts human limitations. It is a wisdom that realizes: I cannot expect anyone to understand me fully. It is a wisdom that admits the inevitability of old age and death. It is a wisdom that has faced the pain caused by parents, spouse, family, friends, colleagues, business associates, and has truly forgiven them and acknowledged with unexpected compassion that these people are neither angels nor devils, but only human (p. 164-165)
  • The calls asks, Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? … If in our hearts we really don’t believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross (p. 165)
  • Faith means you want God and want to want nothing else (p. 167)
  • The second call is drawing us to a deeper faith. We need to ask ourselves: Do I really believe the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do I hear His word spoken to my heart: “Shalom, be at peace, I understand”? And what is my response to His second call, whispering to me, “You have My love. You don’t have to pay for it. You didn’t earn it and can’t deserve it. You only have to open to it and receive it. You only have to say yes to My love-a love beyond anything you can intellectualize or imagine”? (p. 168)
  • If we are going to keep growing, we must keep on risking failure throughout our lives (p. 175)
  • The Christian with depth is the person who has failed and who has learned to live with it (p. 175-176)
  • What we do about the lordship of Jesus is a better indication of our faith than what we think (p. 177)
  • After life has lined their faces a little, many followers of Jesus come into a coherent sense of themselves for the first time. When they modestly claim, “I am still a ragamuffin, but I’m different,” they are right. Where sin abounded gracehas more abounded (p. 182)
  • But we have turned the tables; we try to live so that he will love us, rather than living because he already loved us (p. 183)
  • The gospel of grace announces, Forgiveness precedes repentance. The sinner is accepted before he pleads for mercy. It is already granted. He need only receive it. Total amnesty. Gratuitous pardon (p. 188)
  • Make a radical choice in faith, despite all your sinfulness, and sustain it through ordinary daily life for Christ the Lord and His kingdom (p. 192)
  • Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from our own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ? … Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of your life toward peace and joy? (p. 202)
  • The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything. With all the goodwill in the world you cannot make anything happen. Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly (p. 203)
  • God is enamored with His people and so intent upon a response that He even provides the grace to respond (p. 208-209)
  • The love of Christ is beyond all knowledge, beyond anything we can intellectualize or imagine. It is not a mild benevolence but a consuming fire. Jesus is so unbearably forgiving, so infinitely patient, and so unendingly loving that He provides us with the resources we need to live lives of gracious response. “Glory be to Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) (p. 209)
  • [Speaking of Mary Magdelene] She simply let herself be loved. … Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. … That is what converted the Roman world and what will convert us, and the people around us, if they see that the love of Christ has touched us. … Christianity is not primarily a moral code but a grace-laden mystery; it is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands (p. 211)
  • As C.S. Lewis was fond of saying, people need more to be reminded than to be instructed. (p. 211)

Have you read “The Ragamuffin Gospel”? What things did Manning write that stood out to you?

life rearranged

I am joining Jeanett at Life Rearranged for another edition of Insta-Friday, posting all of the pictures I’ve taken during this week.

We were invited to Disneyland with my in-laws and had a wonderful time. We were there Thursday, June 16 through Sunday, June 19th. So a few of my Instagram photos are from that!

Here is my best friend at our hotel, waiting for breakfast, before we went to the Magic Kingdom!

One of the reasons, we love Disneyland is because of the amount of detail they put into everything. This picture was taken primarily for my father-in-law as he owns a janitorial company. Here is a restroom in Critter Country under Hungry Bear Restaurant. So awesome!

We got to celebrate Brianna’s 20th birthday at Disneyland and she was wished a happy birthday so many times, it made me want to go there for my birthday!

Donna, my mother-in-law and I went to one of the California Adventure cast members to ask about fast passes for Toy Story Mania or Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. They informed us that neither ride had fast passes, and then asked how many people are in your party? I said seven. The Cast Member said, let me make a little magic for you. He grabbed a pad of these tickets and said, this pass is good for any ride you want to go on. It will permit your entire party access to the front of the line! I walked around with this GOLDEN ticket in my pocket trying to figure out which ride I wanted to use it on. Finally, after going on Toy Story Mania and waiting for about 40 minutes the first time, I decided we should use it on Toy Story again! We got to walk right up the exit and handed this ticket to the Cast Member and they let us right on the ride. YIPPEE!

This is my new lunch bag. The best thing about this is that it is made of neoprene and I can wash it in the washing machine!!! I really am a germ-a-phobe, so this is great news for me.


This afternoon, about 50 NASCAR big rig haulers drove by my work (near the downtown Capitol). They were honking their horns and drumming up support for the Sprint Cup Series and their race next week at Infineon Raceway (yes, I’ve been there thanks to my Dad bringing me!). This is #14-Tony Stewart’s hauler and I thought this was pretty cool. The Sacramento Bee has an article about this event.   

I made spring rolls last night as it was 100 degrees outside!

My friend, Kim gave me the rice paper, vermicelli noodles, and a tutorial on how to make the rolls.

My cousin, Beth was my cooking show audience.

For these rolls I used:

Butter leaf lettuce

Chicken Tenders (marinated in Soy sauce & EVOO)

Persian cucumbers

Shredded carrots


Green onions, sliced

Vermicelli noodles

Assembly process:

Wet the rice paper with warm water, shake off, and place on a flat surface. The rice paper will soften and become moldable. Arrange all ingredients in the order listed above. Gently fold paper over the food and fold in the sides like you would for a burrito. Chill until ready to serve.

Slice diagonally. I used Trader Joe’s Satay Peanut Sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts as garnish.

Here is the beautiful and delicious finished product!


Ahhhh Gene Kelly…

This brightened my morning!

This is my second installment of What I Wore Wednesday with The Pleated Poppy. Here is what I wore this week:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turquoise Shirt- Kohl’s

Plaid Pants- Thrift store!

Buckle Shoes- DSW

Standard Jewelry- Wedding ring, watch, diamond necklace, (All gifts from Anthony) and silver hoop earrings

Friday, June 17, 2011

Full length…can you guess where we were?

Yellow-striped T-shirt- Aeropostale

Jeans- Thrift store

North Face Jacket- My parents as a Christmas gift

Standard Jewelry- (see above)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green T-shirt- Aeropostale

Black Tank- Kohl’s

True Religion Jeans- store in Tahoe

Standard Jewelry

Toy Story’s Woody- made entirely of Lego’s!

Looking at all the coins in the water at the Wharf bridge in California Adventure

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Black Shirt- Gap

Plaid Skirt- Thrift Store

Earrings- Forever XXI (gift from my cousins and Aunt!)

Standard Jewelry- Necklace & Watch

Buckle Wedge Shoes- DSW

Head shot

Shoes closeup and yes, I have a star tattoo.

That’s what I wore this week!

I’m linked to:

pleated poppy

Top Ten {Tuesday}

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday post hosted by Amanda who blogs at Oh Amanda. Because we just got home from an awesome weekend at the Magic Kingdom, the Disneyland Resort, I decided it would be fun to do a post on it! Without further ado here are my Top Ten Reasons Disneyland rocks.

1. The bathrooms are decorated in the theme of the “land” they are in.

For example, the picture was taken in Critter Country and I thought it was great!

2. The employees are not called workers, they are Cast Members.

3. The Cast Members uniforms go with the area they work in. 

4. Mickey’s sillouette can be seen on lots of things. Most memorable location is the Mickey-head bolts in the entryway of Disneyland/California Adventure that surround the trees. Lots of food items have Mickey’s head on them too!

5. All of the lines are themed and have snippets of ride trivia making them endurable to stand in.

6. The FASTPASS! What a great way to cut the lines. 

7. Live bands that are incredibly talented, especially Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at The Golden Horseshoe

8. Endless creativity from the Imagineers (definition: imagination combined with technical know-how)

9. At least one bathroom in every “land.” They’re not more than a 3 minute walk apart. 

10. They are always improving on their parks. If something doesn’t work they scrap it and add something that does. It makes us all want to visit Disneyland/California Adventure often to see the new things they’ve added. 

life rearranged

Today I am joining Jeanett who blogs at Life Rearranged for my first posting of Instagram pictures taken during this week!

Here is what I took:

Anthony & I went to House Kitchen and Bar on Friday night for dinner and a date. 

My new sewing machine. You can read my post about it here.

My desk-sized sandbox aka zen garden. Heidi, my middle sister, gave this to me for Christmas. I’ve wanted one for as long as I’ve had a desk and she (and her hubs) got it for me!

Mati’s Indian Express. My friend, Stacey and I went here for lunch and enjoyed some delicious food.  On the left is Lamb Curry, on the right is Chicken Tikka Masala.