Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That's a really big "but"....

Let's be real here, I'm not so good at posting on a regular basis. Oh well.

Quick life update: school's out! and already back in...last Monday I began my new position at Oklahoma Christian University as the Coordinator of Student Alumni Relations. Consequently, that meant packing up and leaving Tulsa, Scott's job, and our parents behind. The hardest decision Scott and I have ever made, but we're learning that staying comfortable isn't always what God has in mind.

Through all this decision-making Scott and I learned the value of prayer. It's awesome, isn't it? And not in the "Dude totally awesome!" way, but in the awe-inspiring, "Holy cow, is this real life?" kind of way. The fact that the Creator listens to me, my thoughts, my Overwhelming. I prayed everything that I could think of regarding our decision: is it right for us? am I forcing Scott into this? am I just making up in my mind that this is what the Lord wants? In the end, our questions were answered and here we are.

But something stood out to me during this whole process--was I asking God for guidance, or permission? Or, more realistically, was I simply informing him of what "His will" was for me? I can tell you with good conscience that we listened...really listened. This wasn't easy by any means, in any way shape or form. To be blunt, it kind of sucked. But it was undeniable the ways we were being pushed towards this, not away. And the whole time we prayed, studied the Word, and prayed some more. And a verse I had to force myself to look away from was Phillipians 4:6-7.

How many times have you read Phillipians 4:6-7? Be honest. Hundreds? Or, if you're anxiety-ridden like me, thousands perhaps? If you're unfamiliar I'll fill you in. The verse reads, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." -Phillipians 4:6-7 NIV

Awesome, right? We can submit everything to Him. Whoa. Something I've noticed recently, though, is the context in which this scripture seems to be repeatedly presented. You're talking to a friend and she's at a crossroads in life; she wants one thing but seems to be pulled in another. This scripture is brought up because, obviously, it's calming. "The peace of God which transcends all understanding"....that's powerful stuff, right there. So you quote this scripture because everything will be alright. Which, in truth, it will. But it will be alright according to God, not according to us.

I used to read this scripture constantly, meditating on it for hours at a time. My prayers surrounding this scripture would generally go as follows: "Lord, Creator, you know me from the inside out. You know my struggles, and you only you know the answers. Lord, help me to be submissive to your will and follow you. "And peace? Yes, that would come. But only from myself, not from Him. You see, I'd follow it up with a pretty big "But...."  Have you ever done that? "Lord, I want to do your will always. But....have you heard me talk about my plan? It is ROCKIN'. So, when you get on board, that would be just great if you could fill me with peace so that I know my plan's all good." Hmm. The Lord doesn't quite operate that way.

Speaking for me personally, I honestly think I used this verse as a crutch--a green light, if you will. I prayed, I petitioned, and I got peace. That's it, right? That's all I need? Kgreatthanx. I'll just go ahead God and keep on truckin' because obviously I'm good to go. Yeah, not so much. And this verse, this message of peace, it caused me pain. Physical pain. At times I just could not possibly comprehend why on earth things weren't working out. "I followed the process, don't you get it? I want to do your will but....this just seems really great and I just need you to follow my lead here."

Friends, let me tell you something. If the Lord God listens to my prayer....shouldn't I listen to Him in return? That never occurred to me before. It was just a formula, now where's my peace? I was praying conditionally. There was always a pretty big "but." I've learned now that peace--understanding and accepting God's will--does not always equal happiness.

And the thing that I was missing the whole time, and continue to miss, is the middle of the scripture. Did you catch it? "...but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Whoa whoa, hold up. With thanksgiving? Where did that come from? I thought we were talking about me, here. My anxieties and concerns. Oh...we're not? That's selfish? Okay. Awk-ward.

Sometimes, guys, we just miss it. We miss it entirely. The point, from my understanding (which, to be fair, is limited let's be real) is just that: we're not the point. He is. Always. Yes, we can pray and petition, but we're to be thankful. Why? Because this is a opportunity we've got, here. We've got the Lord listening to what we want...He's giving us a shot. I think we've got MORE than enough reasons to be thankful, don't you?

So when you see your friends with big ol' "buts," call them out. Sit them down and pray, really pray with them. Because that peace? It will happen. And when it does, the size of your but won't matter any more.

How about you, have you ever played the "but" card?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Spring Break Beauty Buys...Also known as The Longest Post Ever

Oh hello, friends. I hope you're enjoying the wonderful Spring weather! And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Rainy weather is my jam. I could live like this forever.

So a while back I posted this about some of my favorite drug store beauty products. Well, it's been a while, so I thought I'd give you an update! Spring is fast approaching, so here are my top 5 beauty picks (in no particular order) for a fabulous spring season. Also, warning, I could talk about these products forever, and do. So...just skim along if you're not the reading kind.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation

Picture found here

Okay, if you've known me for ANY amount of time at all, you know how completely inept I am at makeup application. I get confused and give up altogether. I've always wanted to wear foundation, but my skin kind of gets in the way. Bare Minerals always made my face look flake-y, and everything else I tried just kind of made my skin look...blah. I'd been hearing allllll about this foundation on YouTube and beauty blogs, so when I got an Ulta coupon (hollaaaa) I decided to give it a shot. Oh, hi. Is that what good skin looks like? I love this stuff. Seriously. It's got buildable coverage, so I use it pretty sparingly but even when applied more liberally (like, say, at 6 in the morning when you're still groggy and have no idea what's going on) you still look flawless. Also, in case you're wondering, I wear the lightest shade...and it's still too dark. Remember when I said it's buildable? I spray on Burt's Bees Complexion Mist before hand (which they don't make anymore...commence freak out), let it dry for about 10 seconds, then get to work using my hands as an applicator (you use less if you apply with your hands than if you use a foundation brush). The foundation slides on and blends in easily and voila, no fake face! Lovely. Oh, and did I mention it's SPF 20? Perfection, I say. Even for those of us who are completely cosmetically incompetent. Also, for those of you out there who love your high-end cosmetics, this is supposedly identical to NARS Sheer Glow Foundation. For a fourth of the price. Ringing it at $12, this Neutrogena Foundation is an affordable addition to anyone's collection.

L’Oreal EverStyle Alcohol-Free Volume-Boosting Mousse

Picture found here

I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for product placements from my fave bloggers. Usually I can't afford most products, but this time my homegirl Reagan did not disappoint. I ran out of my usual styling products (couldn't tell you what they were, though, they were that memorable) and saw her post on using mousse as a foundation and I figured, what the heck, I've got an Ulta coupon (I know, I know...but they come in handy!) so I'll give it a shot. And surprise surprise, I love it! It's taken a while for me to figure out how much product to use in my hair (still getting used to the new 'do) but now that I've figured it out, I'm in love. Not only does it provide a great foundation as well as volume, but I've found that now when I curl my hair with an iron, each curl looks smooth and defined, not frizzy and just...weird. I love this stuff, I tell you. For about $7, it's a great investment.

EOS Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream in Vanilla Bliss

Image found here

Full disclosure here, I've always hated shaving cream. Seriously. I always got annoyed with it and usually I'd end up with little red bumps on my legs. Sexy, no? So I gave up on shaving cream wayyyy back in high school and just opted to use my body wash. Recently, though, the bumps on my legs came back in full force. Tried different razors, tried shaving less often, and nothing really worked. So one day at Le Target, the Husband and I were looking around and he saw this. At first I just had my usual reaction, "Too much money for a product that I already know doesn't work." But then he said something that sparked my attention, "Oh, look! You don't have to use it in the shower. You can dry shave." ....whaaa? Can it be all my lazy leg shaving dreams have come true? Well, I've used it for a few weeks and have noticed a few things: one, no bumps! two, ohhhhhh yes it works shaving dry. You know those mornings when you BANKED on colder weather only to realize that it's warmer and in all actuality you want to wear a skirt but you're legs look atrocious and you could never leave the house looking like that? Yeah, problem solved. It's thicker than lotion, but goes on smoothly for an even shave. I've tried it in the shower, but honestly, I like shaving dry better! It doesn't slide around as much and I can make sure I've applied it evenly. Even better? It's not a crazy overwhelming scent, just a nice, soft vanilla. Perfect for spring "sportin' my legs" season! Even if you're crazy pasty white like me.

Big Sexy Hair Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder

Picture found here

Braids are back again, friends, and in a big way. This texturizing powder is the perfect product to help those pesky hairs stay in place. I originally bought this as a dry shampoo just kind of on a whim with a leftover Amazon gift card. It does work as a dry shampoo, but serves more to add life back to your hair rather than hide any oily-ness you might have from second or third day hair. But, let me tell you, sprinkle a tad on your scalp and massage it in and Poof! you've got your first day hair back! It's an odd texture, so don't be freaked out if you try it and touch it and get super weirded out. Don't you worry because soon enough you won't be thinking, "What the mess did I just put in my hair" because you'll be thinking, "Oh dang I look good!" I especially like using it on my bangs when I decide to braid them back.  It adds just enough texture to give your hair a good grip without looking sticky and stringy like hairspray does. It's also great if you want to add some volume and grip to first day hair-just lift your hair up at the crown and sprinkle directly on your roots. Massage, tease, and be amazed! You might see the price and gasp a bit. So much for a tiny bottle? Buttttt it seems like it's going to last me a long, long time. I've had mine since January and looks like I haven't even made a dent in it! Gotta love that.

Too Faced Liquif-Eye Eye Shadow Transformer Eyeliner

Picture found here

Okay, so yes I'm a sucker for product placement on blogs, but I'm also a sucker for product demonstration. I was in Sephora last weekend to swatch a few eyeshadows I was wanting from Ulta (I know, right? Soooo sneaky) and saw a lonely makeup artist waiting to assist a customer. Okay not really, but I asked a question and suddenly I was in a chair sans makeup and listening to her gush about Too Faced. It's a company I don't know too much about since all I really hear about is Urban Decay's Naked Pallettes, but I figured I should go ahead and listen. She really seemed to just want to try lots of different looks so why not, I sat there and let her. During demonstrations like this, I usually feel guilted into buying things, and this time was no different....but it's because I think this product is so. dang. cool.  Basically, it's a clear formula waterproof liquid liner that turns any eyeshadow into an eyeliner. Any color! She showed me with emerald then with bronze, and I was hooked. I love things that allow me to change my mind frequently, and this seemed to be the perfect product! And it is. To date I've tried gold, mocha, and black eyeliner and I love it. The key with this product is you have to completely wipe down the wand, or else you'll taint the rest of the formula. It glides on easily, even on my wrinkle-y eyes (that's a whole other story) and the best part is, if you mess up, use a Q-tip and some eye makeup remover and it's like it was never there. Love it! Such a great product for someone who can't make up her mind (me) or someone who loves to experiment with different colors (also me). It's kind of pricey at $18 per bottle, but I talked to lots of people in Sephora (not just employees) who raved and raved about it, and even one lady who came back to buy more was a professional make-up artist who said she runs out about every 18 months and uses it on almost every client. Well, I don't have clients, it's just me, so I figured I'd try it out! If you're looking for a new liquid liner, I definitely recommend you give this one a shot!

So there you have it my friends! My 5 Spring Break Beauty Buys. What are your spring beauty favorites? Do you have anything you can't live without during warmer weather?

Also, let me know if you like product reviews! I've been thinking about doing some grocery store reviews of different products...would anyone be interested in that? Just let me know in the comment section!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shortcut Butter Chicken

Ok, first off, please excuse the picture. I just don't think there's any feasible way to make it not look like a big pile of mush.

BUT, friends, do not let pictures deceive you, lest you should miss out on one of the most simple, delicious ways to prepare this tasty Indian dish.

Most of the ingredients you'll have in the pantry, but maybe not the garam masala. Garam masala is a blend of Indian spices that I find tastes relatively similar to restaurant spice blends. You can find it at most grocery stores with the other spices. But again, I remind you that this is the shortcut version! If you're looking for authentic, sorry, but I should redirect you to...not here. This recipe is completely customizable according to taste and preference, so there's no wrong way of doing it! It will always be delicious.

I should also mention that I have what some might call an obsession with using rotisserie chicken in recipes. To me it's just a cheap shortcut; I get meat thats pre-cooked and usually cooked well, and for less than I'd pay for 1.5 lbs of chicken tenderloins at the store...can you see where I'm going with this? I love cooking, but I also love easy. So...that's how I created this!

Also, I just want to note that this is husband and Dad approved. For the adventurous eaters they are, they usually shy away from "ethnic" (read: anything not Italian or Mexican), but both enjoyed this dish!

Serve it up with some white rice and garlic naan and you'll have a full-bellied happy family with money to spare. Dontcha love that?

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Shortcut Butter Chicken
Recipe adapted from this recipe

  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (give or take)
  • 14.5 oz can tomato sauce (not pasta sauce, y'all-just straight up tomato sauce)
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1-3 tablespoon garam masala (you'll adjust according to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2-2.5 cups cooked, shredded/chopped chicken
  • Fresh cilantro

Heat up your butter in a skillet and saute the onion until translucent. Add the cans of tomatoes and give it a quick stir. Here's where you get to customize the recipe (generous of me, I know)-start off slowly if you've never had garam masala before. I usually start with one tablespoon, taste, and add according to how much more I want. I usually end up adding about 2.5 tablespoons total, but it's up to you! 

Bring up the heat a bit until the sauce begins to boil, cover with a lid then reduce to a simmer. Simmer around 25-30 minutes. Do you smell the deliciousness? You should. Add in your shredded chicken. I usually just kind of add until I think there's enough; I like my sauce to chicken ration to be pretty equal, but you can do it however you want! Once the chicken is heated through, reduce the heat to low and add in your heavy cream. Note: I usually don't end up adding a whole pint because I think it makes the sauce too liquid-y. This is another adjust according to taste/thickness preference. Make sure everything is good and heated through, and you're good to go! Sprinkle on some chopped fresh cilantro if you want, and you've got yourself a happy tummy. 

And there you have it. My shortcut version of Butter Chicken. What are some of your favorite dishes that you have a shortcut for? 

Monday, January 23, 2012


***Note: I'll be honest, this post has taken me a long time to post. About 3 weeks. As in I wrote this on January 1st. There's a lot of healing that's happened since I started, and a lot of hurt, too. Grief, I'm learning, strikes at the oddest moments. And grief, I'm also learning, is unrelenting and to be honest, sometimes I feel like it will never end.

And yet...writing is healing for me. So you may read this post and think I'm weird, you may not, but to be honest I don't care. This helps me tremendously. And you know, I may have to come back to this post over and edit, re-word, or entirely change the whole thing. I may have to write about this again, I may not, I don't know yet, but I think that's okay. But I just need you, or maybe more so myself, to know that I have not touched this since January 1st. Not a word. So if I come across as a crazy person, don't be shocked. Just know that this is for me. I'm putting this out there so I can come back and smile at the memories. Even now typing this little intro tears are streaming (or maybe flash-flooding is more accurate) down my face.

This post is not for pity. This post is not for sympathy. It's for me. If it helps you, I am so thankful. But if not, I'm okay with that. This is just one more step for me in the process of grief. I know there is more--so, so much more that I haven't even encountered yet--but for now, this works.

So here's to healing, to pain, and to a little bit of laughter.

End note***

You may notice something different around here, you may not. I've deleted some posts. Why? Because I don't want this blog to be something it's not--forced. I don't want to write about things that I'm not passionate about. That's what blogs are for, right? To pursue a niche of your own, to show the world what you're proud of. Or to just ramble about random things. It's whatever.

But for me, I want this blog to be mine. If someone requests a specific post topic, cool. I'll do it. If not, I'll do my own thing. If that's a recipe, right on. If it's me rambling about shoes, neat. If I write about my luscious ginger locks (what?), cool, but at least it's me being me.

I've never been a big resolutions gal, not one to follow through on things. I like to keep things generic, that way I don't get disappointed. I would tell you what they've been in the past but, to be honest, I'm not really sure what they were. Like I said, not good on the following up part.

But I think if I were to put one word to 2012, one goal, it would be "genuine." And I think that can be achieved through my favorite medium-writing.

2011 was everything I wanted and then some: finished up my last summer working at my favorite place, got to travel the world with my sister and dad, and had the pleasure of marrying my best friend and inherited a wonderful group of in-laws. 2011 was perfect. It had it's ups and downs, but all-in-all it was one of my favorites.

I'd be lying if I told you 2012 started off great. Sure, I rang in the new year like everyone else, but I woke up on January 1st not to my alarm, but to a phone call. A phone call telling me that my sweet Grandpa had passed away.

You know, you can prepare for things like this all you want, but you're never, ever ready. My family and I have known for some time that this could come at any moment. But all I could think was, "No. No, not now. Not yet." And you know what? I think that's okay. Because that means I loved him.

My Grandpa was a lot of things. He was tall, goofy, faithful, determined, compassionate, purposeful, intelligent...but one thing he wasn't was fake. Honest to goodness, I don't know of a single soul that met Tom Saffell and didn't like him. He was the most genuine man I've ever known. When he looked you in the eye, you knew he was listening. Never judging. Well, not really. He did quite a bit of "Well, I reckon"ing when it came to me (and maybe more specifically my nose piercing), but he never judged.  He was genuine. He did his own thing, and you know what? I can look at my time with him and remember the stories he's told me about his youth and being a parent and grandparent and know, know that he lived his life to the fullest. No regrets. Now that's genuine.

He genuinely believed that there was merit in ranking his jeans. No, seriously. He had a rating scale for his Levi's, from 1-10. From frayed to "fancy," he had a pair of Levi's to cover every occasion. He genuinely believed that if someone hadn't heard the story about Avery and I playing soccer as 5 year olds, well, stop right there Mister because you've haven't heard anything yet. He genuinely believed in working with his hands, hard work, and he was able to make his dream come true and build a cabin in the woods from the ground up. He was able to work his way up in the Phillips oil company--from a limo driver to a celebrated researcher and innovator, Grandpa did everything to the fullest. He dedicated his life to his wife, children and grandchildren, invested in us and gave us things money could never buy. He lived a faithful life by example--his sweet, gentle spirit and dedicated nature proved to others what Christ can do. He lived a life anyone could be proud of, but especially me.

Like I said, you're never ready. But, here's the best part, he lived his life so that my family has no doubt that he's kickin' it in Heaven. Telling Jesus that he's never fished until he's thumped a catfish on the head to hear it hum (seriously, try it sometime). Explaining to the angels that I'm "high main-ten-ance" because I like makeup and hair products. And goodness, he's probably worn everyone out with his stories, but I know they're laughing.

So you know what, 2012? You didn't start out too great, but I already see where you're headed. This is the year for love, dedication, and being genuine. I want to be able to look back at my life, smile, and "heeheehee" just Grandpa did. Maybe throw in a wink for good measure. 2012 you've dealt me a rough hand, but I'm ready to raise the stakes. Let's see what you've got.

And Grandpa? Don't party too hard, dude. We'll see you soon.

"G-pa's Posse" circa 1996ish. Rockin' those "fancy socks."