Lemon Cilantro Baked Cod Fillets

I have always been that person who thinks cilantro tastes like soap. That is, until I started living with my husband, who is a fanatic over the stuff. At any given moment during the year, we have not one, but two bunches sitting in water on our counter; so over the summer I decided to give in and start using the stuff and now I am hooked.

I adapted this recipe from something similar that called for parsley instead of cilantro. I imagine it would also be great with fresh chopped basil or even rosemary.

I love this recipe because it’s unexpectedly creamy and it smells incredible! Prep time is just a few minutes and you can assemble this dish ahead of time if you need to- just pop it in the fridge until you are ready to bake.

Start off with with cod fillets. We buy ours frozen from Trader Joe’s. Once it’s thawed, be sure to pat it dry on both sides so the melted butter will adhere to it.

Next melt about 4 Tbsp real butter (none of that no fat, low fat, fake butter crap! Use the real stuff!) We buy Amish butter. You can’t beat the freshness.

Now for the dredging stations: 1) This is about 3/4 cup of flour, mixed with a generous amount of smoky paprika, salt and pepper and one of my favorite spice blends: Essence of Emeril.

2) Next, I zested one very large lemon and squeezed its juice (about 3 Tbsp, I said it was large!). For fun, I also zested a Meir Lemon. Then add about 1/4th cup chopped fresh cilantro. When your butter has melted, add it here.

Here it is with the melted butter.

Dredge each piece of cod, both sides in the butter/ cilantro mixture and then the flour. The original recipe called for dredging only one side but I always do both. I suppose you could leave out the flour entirely, but the dish will not turn out as creamy. (It will, however, still be delicious!)

Spray your baking dish with coconut oil (or whatever you have on hand-or leave it out. I forgot this step tonight. It made no difference.), then lay out your fish. Pour the remaining butter/cilantro mixture over the fish. Here, I usually toss in a little more cilantro and sprinkle a little more paprika.

PS: This stuff? It’s your friend when you don’t feel like chopping. Find it at the grocery where you buy fresh spices.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until flakey.

We made roasted butternut squash, zucchini and baby Roma tomatoes as our sides. These just go in at 400 degrees coated in olive oil, salt and pepper. All on one sheet pan. I make then before I bake the fish, the cover with foil and let them rest.

Fresh out of the oven.

The thought occurs to me that I could have mixed the tomatoes in with the squash. I like to keep the zucchini whole, however. It’s a texture thing for me.


INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tbsp smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

4 cod fillets (6 ounces each)

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Zest of 1-2 lemons

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°. In a shallow bowl, mix lemon juice, cilantro and butter. In a separate shallow bowl, mix flour and seasonings. Dip fillets in lemon juice mixture, then in flour mixture to coat both sides; shake off excess.

Place in a 13×9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with remaining lemon juice, cilantro, butter mixture. Sprinkle on a little more paprika & lemon pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes or until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork. Garnish with more fresh cilantro & lemon zest.

Update. Cleanse Day ?!?7!?? Up Up & Away!

It is I, dismal cleanse failure, Bobbe, here to report on what is supposed to be Day 7 of my two week cleanse. I say “supposed” because I am not sure what to call it after I cheated all weekend long.  Saturday I was so tired, I could barely move so we deemed it, “couch potato Saturday”, and we literally laid around watching movies the entire day. (We justified it because we have been going and going since before summer with barely a break. Truth but it still feels like an excuse.) Long about three in the afternoon we decided to get up and drag ourselves to the store. Sometime during the three minute drive there we also decided it would be a good idea to buy frozen pizzas for dinner. (Frozen pizza? It takes little to no effort to make a fresh one from scratch, but we decided even that was too much trouble.) We settled on a DiGiorno Spicy pizza and a California Pizza Kitchen Margarita pizza. Oh, and just to complete the failure circuit, vodka.

Yesterday, we decided to get out of the house and do something new for a change. I adore planes and knew of an Aviation Heritage Festival going on, so we were out the door at 11:30 in order to meet our friends there at noon. It was a gloriously, beautiful, sunshiny day! There were food trucks, vintage cars, vintage planes and lots of old friends! What more could I have asked for. I felt like I was in heaven.

My father was a pilot and I suppose this love of winged things is in my blood. I felt totally energized from the moment we set foot on the tarmac and then, our dear friend Bobby, announced that we should go up in one of the planes for a ride. He pointed out some weird looking triple engine plane (last plane on the bottom right in the photos above) that looked like it was held together with scotch tape, aluminum oil and gum. No thanks. I am terrified of heights (and dying). I pointed to this jiffy little red biplane that I regularly see flying all over our skies. Hubs and I have often pointed to it in the sky and said that it would be so cool to get to ride in it, but then just as quickly we’ve always said, “But I would never do it because I’d be terrified.”

14633213_10157500006125573_3836398754484524306_o

Before I’d turned around twice, dear friend Bobby, had run off and found the table where you sign up to ride in this plane. Poof, just like that, I was signed up to ride with him! OMG! OMG! (Did I mention I am terrified of heights?) Also, take a good look at the plane above. The pilot sits in the back. Oh, and one other item, there is NO LID on the thing…no roof, whatsoever. Bobby kept saying this was a “Bucket List” item and he was right. He paid for me, so there was no way I would back out. Within twenty minutes we were standing with the pilot getting ready to board!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today I can barely contain the joy I feel. I was scared at the initial thought of going up, but once we got in and started, all I could do was bounce around in my seat, unable to contain my excitement. I giggled and belly laughed and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I have no idea why, but I had no fear of heights and I was able to look down and recognize where I was. We even flew over my parent’s house and they were outside to see it, as I’d called them when we go on the plane!

So what do you do after you just checked an item off a bucket list you didn’t realize you had? You go find your friends, drink some beer and enjoy the rest of the day and that is exactly what we did. I may not have been good on the cleanse, but I had a glorious day that rejuvenated my spirit. This morning I’m still smiling over what a wonderful time we had with dear, dear friends and I cannot thank our friend, Bobby, enough for forcing me out of my comfort zone to experience something I will NEVER forget!

Cleanse-Schmendz. Tomorrow is another day! ♥

Cleanse Update, Day 4

 

Guilty!

Confessing my sins.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of up and downs. For the most part I did very well. The shakes went down well, I took my walk, I even took a long soak. I planned every single detail of what I would do in the evening. YET…..

I cannot tell a lie. Despite all of my efforts, I cheated. (Argh!) Last night we had decided to do steaks, fingerlings and steamed broccoli for dinner. I was doing just fine until I got in the kitchen. All of the sudden I felt like I’d literally been struck in the heart with a horrible feeling…deep sadness mixed with a little anger. It felt like a vice grip on my heart. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I felt like someone had just hurt my feelings in the cruelest possible way.

I tried everything. I stopped what I was doing and prayed for strength. I ate a salad. I went out for a short walk. I sat down and tried to be rational about where the feeling was coming from. I even tried to write about it. Nothing came.

When my hubs came in from walking the dog, he took one look at me and he knew what I was contemplating. At first he said he was not going to say a word because whatever words he chose would be wrong. Then he reminded me that I had been working the plan like a pro and that the only person imposing the no wine rule was me. (It isn’t part of the actual “plan” I am on- I threw it in.) I kept telling him I refused to fail. Yet there I sat in misery. He told me it isn’t wrong for me to indulge one day a week. I know that. Two glasses of wine is a far cry from falling down drunk over consumption. Still, in my heart I felt a total failure.

My brain urged me to go immediately to the kitchen and stuff my face with dinner. My stubbornness refused. “I. Don’t. Wanna.”

So there ya have it. I had one glass of white wine. I had one glass of red wine. Then, I had dinner and it was delicious.

I could spend the day feeling like crap because I cheated (I do feel crappy about it) or I can do something constructive. Today I am right back on the plan and because I indulged last night, I will accompany the hubs to the gym today to do my penance. Oh, how I hate the gym!

I remain determined to stay the course and so I will push forward and not allow last night to fester into more failure. ❤️

Progress, not perfection, right?

 

 

Cleanse Update, Day 3

slow-but-steady-wins-the

Extra. Extra. Read all about it! I made it through Wednesday and Thursday, the hardest two days of the work week for me! I am so pleased and happy to report that it wasn’t as hard as I’d imagined it might be. Steady as she goes!

The absolute key for me is being prepared. Thursday’s are sometimes really draining for me; which can trigger hard emotions; which in turn trigger me to want to run home and unwind with alcohol. Knowing this, yesterday morning I made a mental note of what steps I would take in order to NOT come home and pour myself a drink.

Let’s just be brutally honest here. I have no problem giving up two meals per day and replacing them with protein shakes. I don’t miss the food one bit. The Usana plant-based protein shakes are fun and easy for me. I like crafting different flavors each day. (This morning I added a tiny bit of almond butter and coconut water to the cappuccino flavor package and the result was delicious.) What I don’t like is not being able to enjoy my wine with dinner. I do not like it at all. So far though, with careful planning, it hasn’t been the huge issue I thought it would be.

Yesterday’s visit with the Parental Units was fun. We talked mostly about all of the dogs in the family and I shared a lot of photos and videos of the animals with them. We also shared a lot of silly stories from years past and the conversation stayed upbeat. (Thank you, Lord.)

image

That’s not ketchup, it’s Sriracha. Overdid that a little bit!

On the way home I stopped at the market and picked up some more yogurt and some bath salts and even a little hard candy, just in case I needed it. I admit to feeling pretty crabby by the time I got home. Vodka crossed my mind a time or two or fifty, but I powered through and went to the kitchen to prepared dinner. (Last night we had Mahi Mahi and it was delicious.) Once I’ve eaten dinner and am satisfied, the crazy, wanton thoughts usually subside.

 

We played with the dogs and watched movies until bedtime and it was lovely.

This morning I was rudely awakened with the fact that today is Friday. Friday is always homemade pizza and wine night in our household. I love Friday evenings at home. While I was in the kitchen making my shakes for the day, I was feeling high anxiety thinking about what tonight might bring. One side of my brain kept telling me how much I need to stay the course and the other argued that it’s just one night a week. Yeah, right. It’s NOT just one night a week. If I were to allow myself one cheat night, what’s to stop me from two? I can’t do that.

What helped tremendously was when my beloved hubs came into the kitchen and told me how proud he is that I am sticking to my guns on this cleanse. We decided dinner tonight will be the two filet mignon he brought home a day ago and we’ll make some organic fingerlings and steamed broccoli to go with them. Although it’s not the fish we’d talked about doing, somehow, his encouraging words and the fact that we are switching up our menu brought me comfort. I don’t know why my brain thinks I need to have wine to celebrate the end of the work week. I don’t. There are plenty of other things to do.

You know what else helps? Being able to write this out, publish it and not care who might see it or what he/she may think. Many people I don’t even know have sent me private notes of support and encouragement. I appreciate it so much. Even if no one said a word, having a place to journal thoughts and feelings and ideas is a positive thing.

For a long time I covered myself, guarded my personal thoughts and generally hid anything important to me because people in my immediate circle frowned on my sharing. In retrospect I know it’s the conforming to other people’s ideas of how I should live and what I should share that has held me back and down and covered up in evening cocktails. Not any more.

I took my Day 4 selfie. I still look really tired and despite the fact that my sleep is getting increasingly better, I still feel really tired. I imagine it will take many more nights of uninterrupted sleep to actually feel and look rested, so I refuse to be discouraged.

I remain encouraged. I will stay the course! (And I might even find my way to the gym tomorrow. We shall see!) ♥


Lime-Marinated Mahi Mahimahi-mahi

Ingredients:

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pinch salt

2 tablespoons lime juice

Zest of 2 limes

2 (4 ounce) Mahi Mahi fillets

Directions:

Preheat a grill pan at medium heat, coat with olive oil (I also use real butter)

Whisk the extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, lime juice, and grated lime zest together in a bowl to make the marinade.

Place the Mahi Mahi fillets in a zip lock bag, add the marinade; allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.

Cook on the preheated grill pan until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Garnish with the twists of lime zest to serve.

 

 

 

 

Cleanse Day 2, Update

image

The magic number is six. Six times last night my sleep was interrupted because I had to get up to use the rest room. You would think I would be upset about this. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. It makes me happy.

This is of course, the by-product of the first day of the two-week cleanse. It means to me that my liver is working on cleansing the rest of the body and it’s a nice sign that things are on the right track.

Even though my sleep was interrupted quite a bit, this morning I am feeling more rested than yesterday morning. Better than this, I feel more determined than ever to carry on. I know it’s just the second day, but I choose to take the good feelings as they come. BTW,  I took my “Day 2 selfie” and I can all ready see a very slight difference. (I’ll post those in two weeks.) Joy, Joy, Joy!

Yesterday I planned what to make for dinner well before I got home. I planned what I would do to reward myself for not having a cocktail and for eating a sensible dinner. On the way home from work we stopped at an organic market and I bought myself some bath salts. Last night when dinner was finished, I excused myself to go and take a well-deserved, relaxing, glorious soak. I have always been a bath girl, so treating myself to something special was just the little treat I needed. Once I had my PJ’s on, the feeling that I was missing out on a glass of wine just wasn’t there.

image

I told Charlie this morning that I wished I’d bought more than one variety of bath salts, so I would have them tonight when I get home. Tonight will be one of the hardest nights to get through.

Why?

On Wednesday nights, my husband and I work together to produce a Fellowship meal for about 100-150 people who are members of the church where I work part-time. Every week we plan the menu, shop for the food, prepare the meal and drinks, help to serve it and help to clear it away when it’s over. It is an arduous task but I love it, which is why we do it.

Each week I get to work shortly after nine am and do my regular work. (I do the finances of the church.) At 1:15, I change clothes and head into the kitchen where we have until 5:00 to prepare the meal and set up for dinner service. We start serving at promptly 5:15. Like I said, it is NOT an easy job by any means. The pay-off for me is seeing people enjoy something I’ve made. It’s in knowing I worked very hard in the service of others and knowing I’ve given it all of me…and I do. My husband and I joke that, “It is ALWAYS Wednesday!” in our lives. Some weeks it seems to be so.

At some point every single Wednesday between the hours of 5:00 and 6:30 my brain starts to tell me I’ve earned the right to go home, put my feet up and have a few cocktails and usually, this is exactly what I do. (The last thing in the world I want to do is go home and eat dinner after I’ve just spent hours in the kitchen.)

Tonight will be a challenge and I admit to feeling a wee tinge of anxiety. The plan, however, is to force myself to eat dinner before leaving church so I will be full and will not want anything else. Writing this blog helps me to stay accountable too, because I hate to fail and I hate to lie. I don’t want to have to come back here and report that I cheated. I refuse!

Back to last night: For dinner this week, we decided to try to consume mostly fish and fresh vegetables. Last night’s fare was salmon that we picked up on the way home, coconut rice, mango salsa and freshly steamed broccoli.

image

My plate last night.

 

I was shocked that I enjoyed the rice because I am not a fan of coconut, but it was lovely. (Recipe is below).

I will check back tomorrow to report on how I did this evening. Pray for me.

 

 

 


Coconut Rice

image

This was Charlie’s plate last night. Mine is above. I’m not that fancy.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice

1 1/2 cups Coconut Water

1 cup unsweetened Coconut Milk

1/2 Teaspoon Salt (I used a little more)

3/4 Teaspoon White pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain the rice in cold water. Place in a saucepan with the coconut water, coconut milk, and salt & pepper. Place the pot over high heat and, bring the liquid to a boil. Stir and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.

Ideas:

When I make this again, I will tweak it and add herbs and zest depending on what I am making. Last night I was wishing I’d put some lime zest in it, but it was still really light and delicious!

 

 

 

Risky Business.

image

I was up half the night reading and following a lot of blogs. Like I said yesterday, the ones that inspire me most are written by people like me, who are trying to be and do better. I particularly love the ones that tell it like it truly is: the good, the bad, the funny and the ugly.

This morning I have no doubt the Universe is conspiring towards me getting healthier. The minute I sat down to the computer to write, I hit a wrong button that directed me to a page with the headline, “Give Up Alcohol for Two Weeks and These Incredible Things Happen to Your Body!” Okay. Okay. Message received.

So this is me declaring that as of Monday (because by now you should know that I always begin anything new on a Monday), I will embark on a two-week cleanse. (Yes, I am calling it a “cleanse” and you can humor me on this one.) In actuality, it’s supposed to last one month, but I don’t want to start off with that big of a commitment. I still have one more trip to Chicago to go. If my calculations are accurate, that trip is just over two weeks away. So there’s that.

This will of course, mean that in addition to my two protein shakes replacing breakfast and lunch, I will abstain from alcohol and I will eat a sensible, organic meal at night. I was thinking this morning it would be a worthwhile project to take a photo of my face every day for two weeks in order to document the difference.  This will require a huge amount of courage on my part because at the moment, my face and I are not on friendly terms. This also begs the question, “Am I brave enough to actually post the photos?” The jury is currently undecided and will get back to you on that.

The mere thought of doing this gives me anxiety, but I have worse anxiety thinking about never being confident in my appearance again. (Does that sound vain?) I’m so sick of looking and feeling tired and puffy. I equally as sick of feeling like life is slipping through my fingers at a rapid pace. I desperately need a jump-start and so this will be it.

I am not going to even try to pretend this will be easy. It won’t. I do very well following a prescribed plan, but I have some huge triggers to overcome. In past blogs I’ve spoken about Wednesdays and Thursdays being hard, but I haven’t actually been that honest about why Thursdays are such a big deal. I think it’s important for me at this time to drop my guard, so expect for me to get very honest and open.

Great things never come from comfort zones, right?

.risky

 

 

 

Reflection Imperfection.

yellowsprite2

As I stated yesterday, I wasn’t in a very good frame of mind for a Monday. (I usually love a Monday–clean slate and all that good stuff–but not yesterday.) This morning again, I wasn’t feeling my best self, but I DID force myself to get in the kitchen and make my two shakes for the day. Both of them today are plant-based protein from Usana.com. I added a couple of strawberries, a tiny bit of banana, a couple of raspberries, some aloe juice & a dash (just a dash) of honey. I have to say they are not the best tasting things on the planet but they do fill me up. Usually after the first day, I adjust nicely and best of all, any and all cravings go away. The other benefit is that this stuff is so expensive, I wouldn’t dream of cheating!

Still even having accomplished this small task, I felt a bit sad. Of course, I know why. For whatever reason I am NOT doing the things I know I need to do in order to feel emotionally balanced. Typically, the first thing I need to do in the morning is sit quietly to write in my prayer journal. Today I sat right next to it; I stared at it; I contemplated it; but I didn’t write in it. Instead, I ran off to figure out what to wear today.

I arrived at work this morning and as I was running around opening the office, turning off the alarms, turning on the phones, etc. I stopped at the front desk where I found a small piece of white paper.  I picked it up prepared to throw it in the garbage, but when I turned it over I discovered the following:

A Prayer For Today:

This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good, but what I do today is important because I am exchanging a DAY of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain and not loss; good and not evil; success and not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.

Amen

I stood there reading it knowing darned well this was a not-so-subtle message from above. This is relevant to me because yesterday afternoon as I sat there on the couch, I felt depressed, defeated, drained and sad. Of course I did. I didn’t do a thing to improve my mood. In fact, I did the exact opposite and what for? Self sabotage? Self punishment?

Isn’t it funny that sometimes when a person is all ready feeling low, self punishment can come into play? We think we are comforting ourselves, but in reality, we are doing the polar opposite. So I will just own the fact that on the way home yesterday we stopped at McDonald’s and ate Mcdoubles and french fries. (I feel so dirty saying this!) This is almost unimaginable to me. We NEVER eat fast food; and I mean not EVER. Who’s idea was it? Mine.

Message received loud and clear, God. I will not exchange another day of my life for a minute’s worth of unhealthy behavior. I will use this day for good. I will succeed and I will not regret the price I paid for it.

Amen. Amen. Amen. (and thank You!)

More tomorrow.

take-the-step

I don’t feel like it.

tiredanimals

How is it possible to wake up on a Monday and feel defeated even before I’ve had breakfast? I had a perfectly lovely day yesterday and I went to bed feeling grateful and happy.

(I had slated today to begin my protein shake program again since the last time I did it I was interrupted by a trip to Chicago.)

Yet, this morning when Charlie asked me if I was ready for my shake, I told him no. I don’t feel like it today.

I don’t feel like it today?

Translation: I don’t feel like having any rules today. I don’t feel like being restricted. I don’t wanna. I.DO.NOT.WANT.TO!

Looks like yours truly needs a really big attitude adjustment or perhaps just a fresh pair of soul glasses. How is it that just a few weeks ago I was excited to begin this program and not only that, I was having success with it. Today I woke up and said, “No. Not today. Nope.”

I’m tired, for one thing, and for another, I failed to do my preparation work. For me that means that I did not take the time over the weekend to feed my spirit with what it needed. I didn’t take the time to write in my journal. Although I always pray, I did not spend enough time actually feeling my prayers. I didn’t plan for today. I didn’t even think about today. I just went on my merry way letting the spirit blow me around wherever it wanted to.

Did I mention I’m tired?

And so thankfully, tomorrow is another day. This evening I will revisit my reasons for wanting to do the 2 weeks of protein shakes. I will again look at the photos of my pudgy face and squinting eyes and I will reaffirm that I want this face back again.

1477612_10156338116340573_258924886173400322_n

Yes, I know it’s been a while but this girl…she’s still in there. Is it wrong to miss my eyelids?  Methinks not. Last time I did this, after just four days I saw signs of this girl coming back to life…

Just so you know, it’s not just the face I would like again, it’s the confidence and the health benefits I want too. I’d like to be able to look in the mirror again and love the face looking at me. I don’t feel that way right now. I don’t feel I even know the person in that mirror.

I just need to set my sites and start again….AGAIN.

And so I will. (I end a lot of stuff like this lately! ha ha)

 

11133714_340944409435395_3836395117751034917_n

 

Day 5 Progress Report. God Sees.

i-can-do-it

Amazing grace, I made it to Friday! Wednesday and Thursday were really hard days for me, but I had armed myself with my “plan-ahead” weapons, so I made it!

To recap: Monday I began a two-week jump-start project which I am calling, “return-to-me”. For two weeks I am working on rehabbing my tired body, mind and spirit. For me this means more prayer, replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes, eating a healthy dinner, limiting alcohol and writing (because it feeds my spirit.)

I knew Wednesday and Thursday would be  trigger days for me because they are the most stressful of each week. Wednesdays my hubs and I work until 1:00 PM and then we head into the kitchen of a local church, where we create, serve and clean up after their Fellowship Meal. Usually this meal serves about 100 people, but sometimes it can rise to 150. This week we served pork tenderloin.

So you get the idea, it’s laborious, but glorious. I always go home smiling when the people are full and they’ve loved the meal. (In case you are curious, the sides were wild rice and a veggie medley of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a three bean salad or coleslaw plus cake and brownies for dessert.) We aren’t playin’!

My Thursday afternoons from 1 until 4:30 are spent with my aging parents. While I am so grateful both of my parents are still here on earth for me to visit, it can be hard at times. (This is a story for another blog, though.) I usually arrive home emotionally drained in some form or fashion.

The problem for me on both of these days is that we have fallen into the habit of evening cocktails on these nights. Everything is so stressful, it’s a nice feeling to get home, change clothes, flop in our favorite chairs and sip on whatever it is that we’ve decided upon for that night-sometimes it’s wine; sometimes it’s vodka; sometimes other things. The bottom line is, this is what we’ve done for years, so it’s a habit that we equate with “reward”.

I knew this would be an issue at the beginning of the week so I intentionally prepared for it. Wednesday morning I woke to my usual prayers for strength and perseverance, then I wrote in my prayer journal. I planned to eat a meal at church just before going home so I would be full. Even with all of this, the drive home a battle raged inside my mind.

“Just one won’t hurt.”, said my ego.

“You made a commitment! And you’ve prayed to God, too! If you do this, it’s like you are quitting on God, ya know. You have to give Him a chance to work.”, said my heart.

“Drat! Blasted Heart! But still, you don’t have to do this all at once, ya know.”, said Ego.

“If not now, when? I’ve prayed over this and over it. God will help me fight you when I get home, now shut up.”, said Heart.

“Still”, Heart thought silently, “What if I fail yet again? Why can’t I just do this?”.

When we arrived home, I went straight upstairs opting for a long, hot bath, which has always been a source of comfort. While I was in there I prayed again for strength and I thought about just what I was asking for and why. (Aren’t I worthy of having the life I was intended to have? I am. It’s up to me to do the work in order to get back there. I’ve let things go for TOO long-taking care of everyone else. It’s time for ME. If not now, WHEN?)

So I went downstairs, had a banana, flopped on the couch and turned on a comedy show. Later, I went to bed happily thanking God for seeing me through the day.

Last night, having battled through Wednesday night, I knew what to expect out of that darned ego-talk. Even though I was prepared the same as the night before and EVEN though I knew Friday was slated to be “cheat night”, as far as dinner and cocktails are concerned, it was still THE hardest time I’ve had. I went to my parents per usual, then stopped at the grocery on the way home (my happy place) in order to select something I’d like to cook for dinner. (This is my way of tweaking the usual routine.) I even went so far as to go to a market I do not frequent. I selected some nice filets, fresh asparagus and I planned on serving the last of the fresh squash I’d made nights before. I even bought two tiny cheesecakes as a treat. Then, I stopped at Redbox and rented a funny movie as a non-food, non-alcoholic activity.

Still, when I arrived home the temptation to throw it all out the window, met me right at the front door. Blasted demon ego!

“Look, you made it past Wednesday! Isn’t THAT enough? You are stressed and sad. You can make up for this later. Next week you can tackle Thursday over! Have a drink. If it makes you feel better, you can skip dinner!”, Ego quipped as if it were nothing.

This time my heart was silent. Instead, I thought of what I’d written in my journals to God. I thought about what I really want. I thought about why I started this in the first place. I thought of starting over and over and over again, never making it over the hump.

“Darn it. This is ridiculous. I am worth MORE than sitting on the stupid couch with a stupid cocktail.”, said Heart.

Just then, I remembered I’d ordered a special herbal bath potion to soak in. Walking to the mailbox I told myself if it was there, I’d use that as my reward. It was.

Determined, I went back into the house, made a nice salad, and sat down and ate it so I would not be hungry while I prepared dinner. After dinner, I headed up the stairs and took a glorious, “I DID IT” soak!

And so here I am today. It’s Friday. (Tonight, I get to have wine and homemade pizza and it doesn’t even feel important any more.)

As I reflect back on the work-week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways. There is something to be said for journaling thoughts, hopes, dreams, prayers etc. to God. (I think it cements things in the heart more securely.) Is it necessary to do so in order to communicate with God? Absolutely not. (In fact, I’m sure there are some people out there who will be offended that this is one of the ways I choose to be connected. Oh well.)

Having said all of this, I am fully aware that after tonight, I still have to go through Saturday and Sunday in order to truly say I had a successful week. (This is a Holiday weekend so I know it will be a little harder.) These days I really am trying to keep focused on the day at hand. While I do plan ahead,the object is to keep my emotions and my determination centered on “one-day-at-a-time”.

So color me grateful. I know God sees me and I like to think He’s happy with my tiny bit of progress. I am feeling joyful beyond measure! The bonus factor that I knew when I began this is that I’m feeling closer to God than before. Lest you think all I do is pray about getting through these two weeks, among other things, I also pray that my relationship with all things spiritual, especially God, continue to strengthen. It’s working.

NOTE: Although I missed a couple of days blogging, I am still here, and I am not going anywhere. Admittedly, this is a lot of harder to do than my blogs of days-gone-by where I had a set routine and outline to follow each day. I WILL persist!

****************

So you have a visual, here is a photo of the tiny journal I keep in my purse. I pull it out and write in it whenever and  I have something on my heart. (The first page I always use for my favorite verses.) When I get home later, I’ll photograph the book I use there. It’s similar but large. The one below is about five 1/2 inches by 3 and 3/4″. It fits perfectly inside my purse.

FullSizeRender (1)                    FullSizeRender (2)

BTW, if I talk about food, I will always leave the recipe here:


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • (2) 1/2 lb Tenderloins (1 package of tenderloin has two 1/2 lb tenderloins inside)
  • 4 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Any seasoning blend you like. I used a prepared one that had garlic, lemon, oregano, chili pepper etc.) You can even use prepared rubs OR just make your own with whatever you like–you want enough to coat the Tenderloin all over.
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • On a baking sheet, sprinkle each tenderloin with the balsamic vinegar. Rub it into all sides.
  • Drizzle olive oil and rub into all sides.
  • Coat with your seasonings (or prepared rub)
  • Let the pork sit for up to 20 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. If it still gives a lot to the touch, flip it and let it go for 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile:

While the pork is cooking, to a sauce pan add the following:

  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let the sauce reduce by half until it will coat a spoon. When your pork comes out, drizzle it over the top prior to serving.

Grateful Heart stays the course.

happy-heart

Good grief, it takes so little these days to truly MAKE my day. Yesterday I posted the second little blog I’ve done in years. It was with a bit of trepidation, because I am such a perfectionist! (I have a hard time showing anything that I do not deem to be my personal best.) I did it though, because I am attempting to challenge myself in new ways; ONE of which is to relax my standards a bit. (Who am I kidding, that’s really never going to happen the way it sounds! ha ha) It’s probably better to say I am currently challenging myself in all sorts of new, uncomfortable ways.

Anyway, before I hit that “publish” button, I held a silent pep-rally for myself.

“It doesn’t matter-no one is going to see this anyway. It’s just practice. You can share the links later when you are back in the saddle, etc.”.

Soon after I hit that button, I left my home office determined not to think about it again; just happy I could cross, “write something” off my list.

Then last night something happened. I started getting email notifications that people were subscribing to and liking this blog. I nearly cried. It’s such a small thing, but truly, I am so grateful. It’s the little things that count, right? ♥

So with this tiny boost to my heart, I was able to get through last night without veering from my current eating plan. (Protein shake for breakfast; chalky protein shake for lunch; sensible dinner.) Instead of my planned menu, I made perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever made in my life (recipe below), steamed broccoli and regular baked potatoes. The plan had been to make naked burgers and sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it. (Also, long about four PM, I was starting to have food fantasies, so I made a salad of romaine, tomato, artichoke, onion and light Caesar dressing. It hit the spot.)

(Did I fail to mention I’m a foodie? I probably should have said something. Soon you’ll be seeing photos of my creations!

Tonight is the biggest challenge of the week. Wednesdays are always hard as my hubs and I cook the Fellowship meal for a hundred church people each week.  (Of course today, I FORGOT to pack my lunchtime caulk – I mean shake- but that’s not the real challenge.) Wednesday’s we get into the kitchen around 1PM. Dinner is served promptly at 5:15, so it’s a lot of running around in between. (Did I mention it’s four thousand degrees in the kitchen right now?) The challenge comes when we hit the door at home and it’s almost 7PM and we’re tired. The last thing I want to do is eat, but we’re so wired from working, we don’t want to just lie down either. So what do we do? Usually Wednesday night we have a well-deserved, delicious celebratory cocktail. Not tonight.  I made a vow to stick to this program for 2 weeks, so no imbibing for me this evening.

How will I manage? Determination, dedication and prayer and lots of it. This morning before I got out of bed, I had my morning convo with Jesus. Later, when I went downstairs, I got out my prayer journal and wrote for a while. It’s making a huge difference. There is something to be said about keeping prayer in the forefront of your heart. There is something to be said about keeping a journal just for prayers and intentions. For me it feels as though it’s written on my heart as well as in that journal and it helps me STICK to the PLAN!

Tomorrow I will start to include photos of the things I’m talking about in the hopes that you are currently in the midst of a challenge, you might think about the things that are working for me and give them a try! (I even keep the cutest mini journal in my purse for times when I feel I need a boost. Yes, I do jot down notes and prayers to God there. You’d be surprised at how often the answers come in all sorts of ways.)

OH and…ALSO tomorrow, I have to share the coolest thing EVER…one of my new favorite things…a piece of art that someone rescued from a dumpster for me! (perks of working part-time for a church!) Stay tuned!!

If you are following me, THANK YOU! You make my heart smile! If you have a blog, I will be visiting soon!


Best little Meatloaf Ever 

meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (we had a grass-fed 80/20 on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I had organic pizza sauce on hand so I used that)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash or two organic ketchup for the top (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except the optional ketchup).
  • Press into a 8″ x 4″ loaf pan, top with a slathering of organic ketchup if you so desire.
  • Bake 45 minutes.

This recipe will serve 4 – 6 people depending on how large you like your slices. Since it’s just my hubs and I, he will have leftovers for a couple of lunches!

PS-I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet.