Monday, April 27, 2015

Coloring Therapy

I confess.  I love to color. And I'm far from the age where coloring is a part of my daily life.  

When I was a child, I loved getting that box of 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener and a fresh coloring book to fill with all my crazy ideas for what everything should look like.  I took liberty in making hair and clothes look very different.  Because I could.

With all the stresses of life, I started coloring again about six months ago.  Now, i don't do it daily (so don't call the men in white coats to come get me), but I do often whip out the crayons and colored pencils and my stashed coloring books to decompress from life's pressures and stresses.

Today I don't need that built-in sharpener as my box of crayons are twistable and, like mechanical pencils, stay sharp all the time.  I even have a couple of boxes of twistable colored pencils, and one that is even erasable!  My how Crayola has advanced over the years.  

This picture was a masterpiece I created and decided to share it this week - Derby Week - when hot air balloons fill the sky.  I subscribe to Phone Case of the Month where I get a new phone case each month.  (Betcha didn't figure that one out!)  A couple of months ago this card was included and we were asked to design our phone case and tag them on Instagram for a chance to have our design accepted as a future monthly design.  I squealed!  And then grabbed my colored pencils and crayons to begin my work.  I am not a freehand artist (as evidenced in this picture), but you can't really mess up balloons.  I haven't heard if I've won yet, but I sure felt more refreshed when I finished!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Father Knows Best

This past weekend was the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival.  For those not familiar with the activities leading up to the greatest two minutes in sports, the city of Louisville begins the celebration two weeks before the big race.  It kicks off with a boom at Thunder Over Louisville.  The largest fireworks display in the country is displayed over the Ohio River with more than half a million people gathered at the river to watch.  

My friend, Ashley, found a wonderful way to enjoy this festivity - a Steamboat Dinner Cruise to watch the fireworks.  Like me, Ashley is an only child and introvert and the thought of commiserating with thousands of people isn't appealing.  This was the perfect way to view the fireworks.  We would board at 6pm and sail at 7pm with the fireworks at 9:30pm.  We were excited.  Until Wednesday prior to the event.  Due to the water levels from all the rain we've received, the steamboat couldn't make it to the port in Indiana, so the cruise was canceled.  We were quite bummed but moved on to Plan B.  

Plan B was to see the Cinderella feature film and dinner after.  Knowing my love of Cinderella, this was a wonderful Plan B in my book.  We did see the movie (which I adored!) and enjoyed some yummy food at Red Robin, back in time to watch the fireworks on TV.  

Do you ever ask God why He allows things to happen (or not happen) in your life?  I certainly do.  Things that occur and I think "what!?!" and sometimes later on I realize His Protective Hand on me or see the bigger reasons why something did or didn't happen.  When those times never come with an answer, that's when my faith must grow to trust God.  But, God does sometimes provide those answers to help me trust Him when He is silent in other situations.

I mentioned the cruise was canceled on Wednesday.  Thursday night when I came home from work I felt awful.  I thought it was allergies or maybe the start of a Spring cold.  But I felt tired, listless and began to feel feverish.  I took two Tylenol and couldn't wait to crawl into bed.  Especially when I took my temperature and it was 100.  I had a feeling I knew what was going on.  The heel of my right foot was tender to the touch and was red and warm.  I was getting cellulitis.  For those who do not know what that is, the simple answer is a bacterial infection of the skin.  Because my immune system is suppressed due to the medicines I'm on, I'm highly susceptible to this and have had it before.  It's very easily treated, but if you don't catch it quick enough, it can spread and require hospitalization.  I called the doctor the next morning, got in to see him, got antibiotics and felt like I'd dodged a hospital bullet.  Part of the recovery is not to overdo it and be on my foot too much and keep it propped up as much as possible.  I did and after my check up yesterday, I'm on the mend.  

All of these colliding events show me that Father knows best.  Though I was bummed I didn't get to see fireworks on the Ohio aboard a steamboat, God knew better that I didn't need to be up and on my foot that much.  He protected me.  Watching a movie in a theater was much less "activity" and allowed me to get the rest I needed.  Though every situation like this will not come with a lovely answer as to the "why," I am grateful that God gives me enough of these answers to keep trusting Him even in His Silence. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cooking for One

I truly enjoy cooking and baking.  But there are a few things about those enjoyments that keep it from being a regular occurance in my life.  I'm single, so cooking solo is difficult.  I end up with leftovers for days.  Days!  And although I enjoy good leftovers, day five of something that I've had for lunch and dinner makes me want to never cook that recipe again for a while. Then there is my work schedule, church involvement and school...along with some semblance of a social life and doing all of this while planning meals is futile.  Add to that making it healthy and I throw up my hands and end up eating cereal, peanut butter and crackers, or scrambled eggs.

My company began a wellness campaign last year.  We were invited to multiple webinars on maintaining wellness from eating healthy to getting enough rest.  Some were interesting and some were painful to sit through, but the end result was a bonus.  Everyone that attended a webinar was in a drawing for multiple prizes after the year ended.  I was in a drawing for an Apple Watch since I attended all six.  But, I didn't win the Apple Watch, but I did win something even better - a gift certificate to Plated

Plated is a subscription service where you can order "plates" each week that make two servings each.  Everything is sent in an insulated bag - all meat, fish, vegetables, seasonings - and all in the exact measurements you need.  You can have Plated choose your plates, or you can choose the recipes you would prefer.  They list the cooking difficulty and calories, plus what you'll need to have.  Most of the supplies you need are already in your pantry - salt, pepper, olive oil, canola oil, milk, eggs - and various pots and pans.  They even offer desserts for two if you'd like to add that to your weekly shipment.  

My first dish was Ginger Trout with snap peas and roasted sweet potatoes.  I was hooked!  I've never cooked fish at home and this turned out beautifully.  Plated even sent the parchment paper I cooked the trout in along with all the various aromatic seasonings to make it taste just right!  I was sent just enough snow peas and other seasonings.  Even the sesame oil came in it's pre-measured bottle.  When I cooked the dish, I plated both plates up and wrapped one up to put in the fridge I would warm up for a second dinner that week.  

I have to admit I'm in love.  Eating these meals has helped me eat a more balanced diet and the more healthy I eat, the less non-healthy food is a craving.  Most days I work past 6pm so getting home at 7 or later and knowing I have a meal to cook that could take 45 minutes wouldn't have thrilled me before, but knowing I can just pull out the items labeled for the dish and jump in makes it much easier.

If you are living solo, or even a couple that have no kids or are empty nesters and you you have an adventurous streak to try new things, I'd highly recommend Plated.  As I'm burning through my gift card, I'm monitoring my grocery budget and if I save money on groceries that equal the cost of Plated, I'm going to keep doing it.  Oh, and did I mention you can skip any week you want with no penalty?  Another plus!  Here is a way to join Plated and get $24 off your first box:  It can't hurt to try!