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Living Single: What Every Single Girl Hears

I am wholeheartedly a Friends fan and I watch reruns anytime I can!  I love the show, have been an enthusiast since the very beginning and cried like a baby on the series finale!  I felt like I was losing my friends!  Of course, everyone has their favorite character on the show and mine is Rachel Green.  I love everything about her; her look, her style, just everything! But it was Monica who that had so many endearing qualities that were only magnified by her OCD tendencies.  It’s what made her a great friend.  She found joy in cleaning not only her apartment, but others as well!  Something that I’ll never be able to identify with.  In one particular episode we were able to get a glimpse into what sparked that quirkiness by seeing some of her inner struggles she faced with her parents.  I forget exactly the circumstances, but apparently Monica made some kind of mistake that provoked her parents to ask, “Did you pull a Monica?” which really meant, “Did you mess up or do something really stupid?” That really irritated Monica, as it would anyone who had been forced to endure the same question since childhood.  It definitely didn’t offer any encouragement to say the least!

But as in all thirty-minute sitcoms, all was resolved quickly when Phoebe was able to change Monica’s perspective by showing her how “pulling a Monica” could be positive phrase instead of negative one.  Phoebe told her one day when people won a Nobel Peace Prize people would say they “pulled a Monica” because what they did was so good. Phoebe was able to take a phrase that was meant to be negative and turn it into one that became encouraging and sought after!

Living Single

I think that’s how a lot of single women feel when they hear the phrase “living single.” It has become a negative phrase in certain circles that no one wants to any association with. Well, I beg to differ and dare to show you how living single is a lifestyle that every single woman should feel proud of and embrace. Being single offers us the opportunity to unselfishly be selfish by focusing on our dreams and goals without interruption.  “Living single” means that we are brave, confident women who dare to take life by its reigns courageously embracing all that it has to offer.  Single life is a life that should be lived in the limelight, shining brightly as our successes and failures lead those around us to become the women we were created to be.  As single women, we are the envy of other women when we’re able to take a little longer shopping at the mall, have a girl’s night out without permission, or simply sit in our jammies all day sipping coffee and reading a book while the dishes sit in the sink.  “Living single” has the perks that “Living double” does not.

So now when we hear that someone is “living single,” we’ll all know that person has the opportunity to pursue their dreams with passion and gusto without interruption.  The world will know without a doubt that you, as a single woman, have a life that is yours completely and is only concerned about the affairs of her Father.  What an amazing privilege that is to have!  So single ladies, “pull a Monica” and embrace the phrase "living single" as one that has worth, destiny, envy and privilege. “Live single” with your head held high!

I Corinthians 7:32
I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master.

[title subtitle="Get Your Copy of Heather's Book"]Now, While You Are Single[/title]

Now, While You Are Single
Walking Out Your Purpose Before You Say “I Do”
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Now, While You Are Single is a practical guide to help women discover and embrace their true identity in Christ through a journey of healing, ultimately revealing God's purpose and plan for their life while they are single.

CW-front-cover

A Tug-a-War...Exercise vs. Mom

Summer is around the corner and as a mom, you may have this thought running through your head,  “I liked to tone up for the summer, but I do not have time for exercise and be a mom.” Trying to find time for yourself and have time with your children can sometimes feel like a tug-a-war. I remember the days before children; I worked out 1.5 hours 6 days a week.  That kind of schedule is not going to happen now with two small kids.  Not only do I not have the time, I choose not to take it.  What I have learned is that my workouts depend on my children’s stage of life.

For example

As a baby

Once cleared from my doctor to exercise after the birth of my daughter, I struggled to figure out what I should do. It was too hot to go outside in the afternoon and her naps could be unpredictable.  My focus was not to get in a long run or take the time to go to the gym.  My favorite workout was simple….a pair of weights, an exercise band and a resist-a-ball right in the middle of my living room floor. I would work as hard and intense as I could for 20 minutes, which was all I had on most days.

As a Toddler

A walking/running stroller is a must at the toddler age.

There was nothing I loved more than a long walk or run while talking to my little one and exploring the world.  My goal was to utilize my time for exercise as an opportunity to spend time with them and be a good example of health and fitness.

As a child

A long talk, family time and a lot of calorie burning has been accomplished while they ride their bikes next me as I walk or run.

It is not always at the intensity or duration that I may desire, but it gets the job done. They have also hit the stage to play in the backyard while mommy gets in a 20 minute strength training work out.

Finding time for kids and exercise will change with the season of your family.  Do not be discouraged. Throw out what you may have done in the past and create a new plan for exercise with your kids and don’t let the tug-a-war pull you down. Not only will you “tone up” but you will be a great example and before you know they will be working out right next to you.

Growing Green

With gas prices skyrocketing , I'm willing to cut back on luxuries but  I won't compromise the quality of food that comes out of my kitchen!  I love using fresh herbs  and each time I have a glass of ice tea at Shirley Ray's house, she always throws in fresh mint. So, I thought I'd ask her for a little education in regards to  planting a mobile herb garden.  Recently I showed up with a clay pot and a few herbs and my lesson began. She took me step by step through the process .

Herb gardens have few limitations. They can be planted in the ground , a clay pot or any kind of a wire basket. They can live by a kitchen window, a back yard or an apartment balcony. Shirley begins by lining the basket with her favorite landscape fabric,  WeedFree Pro. This allows water through but keeps roots inside the container.

On this particular afternoon, she put together a couple of herb gardens. I thought this aged bicycle basket was  a perfect place for a mobile garden as well as  the traditional clay pot I brought with me.

Shirley prefers inexpensive gloves, rather than a name brand.

With  numerous choices of herbs to choose from we started off with basil, rosemary and mint. She keeps several kinds of  mint in her garden like pineapple mint, chocolate mint and spearmint. She planted multiple  herbs in each garden, but left sufficient room for each to grow and spread.

Fennel has a long droopy leaf and she planted it in the bicycle basket by the outside edge, giving it room to fall over the basket. She doesn't really cook with fennel but she informed me that caterpillars are attracted to it and  by planting fennel she'll also have butterflies in her garden.

This is called the Butterfly Bush, a member of the lilac family.Its rich nectar attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Shirley plants lavender in her garden  just because she loves the fragrance. In fact, a small pouch of  dried lavender  tucked inside your pillowcase is supposed to help you sleep.

While she's not picky about her gloves, she is particular about the soil she uses and she pampers her plants with

Miracle Grow.

After just about an hour in Shirley's backyard, she had put together two distinct herb gardens and guess whose front porch this mobile garden calls home?

Shirley Ray: personal style-Texas casual

I'm inspired by memories of my grandmother's garden. Every time I walked into her backyard, it was wall to wall flowers.

Shirley is  also the founder of Shirley's Creative Solutions. She is a caterer, event planner, provides services as a personal assistant and whips up unique hand made gifts.

Love is a Choice, not a Feeling

Take a stroll with me into the life of a busy woman.

  • It's 6 A.M. The alarm clock goes off. Do you feel like getting out of bed?
  • It's 7:30 A.M. Do you feel like going to work in all that rush hour traffic?
  • It's 5 P.M. You've had a hard day at work. Do you feel like coming home and preparing a meal for your family?
  • It's 9 o'clock P.M. Your child says: "Mommy, I need you to bake 2 dozen cookies for the bake sale at school tomorrow." Do you feel like baking at 9 o'clock at night?

If you're like me, you answered "no" to each of those questions. I think we all agree that we have to do a lot of things we really don't feel like doing. There's one more "feeling" question that I'd like to ask you. It's plagued my mind lately.

Do you feel like loving that person that is so unlovable?

I confess that I find it easier to work from 9-5 and bake cookies late at night than to love someone that just rubs me the wrong way. You know the kind of person I'm talking about. They're loud, they talk too much, and they're sort of rude and down right obnoxious.

Recently, as I was pondering my feelings about how to love those kinds of people, I was brought back to an old hymn of the church that describes that fateful but victorious day in the life of Jesus. As you read these short verses, try to picture the scene in your mind as it's happening.

They bound the hands of Jesus in the Garden where He prayed.

They led Him through the streets in shame.

They spat upon the Savior so pure and free from sin.

They said, "Crucify Him, He's to blame."

Upon his precious head they placed a crown of thorns.

They laughed and said, "Behold the King!"

They struck Him and they cursed Him and mocked His holy name. All alone, He suffered everything.

Whey they nailed Him to the cross, His mother stood nearby as He said, "Woman, behold they son!"

He cried, "I thirst for water," but they gave Him none to drink. Then the sinful work of man was done.

To the howling mob He yielded; He did not for mercy cry. The cross of shame He took alone.

And when He cried, "It's finished," He gave Himself to die. Salvation's wondrous plan was done. He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free. He could have called ten thousand angels, But He died alone, for you and me.

Aren't you glad that He said "NO" to his feelings that day and

didn't call angels to save Him. But He chose to love us just the way we are.

A Special Valentine's Message

Ahhh… Valentine's. The love holiday. For some it brings smiles, roses, candy and a nice dinner out. For others it brings knots to the stomach, tears, feelings of failure and anxiety. No matter which camp you find yourself in, I would like to share an idea that could potentially make any girl’s Valentines extra sweet and special. There's the coolest verse in the Bible found in a tiny little book tucked away in the depths of the Old Testament. Song of Solomon 1:2 says, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth- for your love is better than wine.” I have pondered the exquisite beauty of that analogy. Even if you don’t like wine, you can appreciate the fact that one type of fruit, the grape, can make 20+ different categories of wines, and each of those are not exactly the same. If you look at music, there are 12 main notes on a piano, that repeat. And how many different songs are there? An infinite number. Simple songs, complex songs, short songs, long songs, happy songs, sad songs. The possibilities are endless, just like with grapes and wine.

It’s the same with God’s love. The sheer vastness of all the dimensions of His love is amazing. Not in an overwhelming way, though, because God knows just how to pair His love with your circumstances.

Some need His tender love, the comforting kind that lets you take a deep breath and rest in His loving-kindness. Some need His tough love to say, “No, you need to cut this out of your life if you want be healthy and grow.” Some need His Shepherd kind of love because you're walking through the valley of the shadow of death and you're afraid, and you need to remember that He's right there with you and His love can cast out that fear. Some need His Father’s love, to realize that you belong; you're a part of His family. Some need to know Him as Lover of your Soul. He not only fought for your soul, but He's deeply in love with you. His desire is towards you. Some need His faithful love, because you haven’t had an example of faithful love and you desperately need to know that He's still there and that nothing can separate you from His love- not your feelings, not your circumstances, not your loneliness. Nothing, can separate you from His love.

He wants you to know that He loves you this Valentine's Day and He wants you to experience a new dimension of His love. Try it. Carve some time out to spend with Him this year. A special Valentine's date. You and your Creator. If you need some inspiration, try putting on “The Very Thought of You” by Natalie Cole and sing it to Him. Write Him a note.  Have a moment, Woman to Creator. He will meet you there.

Do these jeans make me look fat?

 Any friendship that has lasted for longer than a season has more than likely had to deal with some kind of offense. How we handle those situations can bring out the best or the worst in us at the time. Less frequent are the friendships that have weathered the storms of life and passed the test of time bringing you to the place of being able to tell someone the truth even if it hurts. Not all friendships meet this lofty criteria but everyone should have one.

 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are profuse Proverbs 27:6

Go ahead read it again.... I had to. I read it over and over and let it really sink in. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Seriously? Yes, seriously. If you have been lucky enough to have the kind of friend that will look you in the eye and say "girl I love you but you are dead wrong" or " sorry love but your husbands right" or my favorite " are you asking? because if you're asking than yes, ...those jeans are not your friend".

Sometimes we just want people on our side but most of the time we need the truth. Its a friend who is faithful to tell us the truth even if it might hurt us. And yes, like Mary Poppins said " a teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down" but she still gave them the medicine.

So with this verse in mind let us be sure to be the kind of friend that can be honest in love when needed but also the kind of friend that receives a word of truth when needed.

Father, open our hearts to your wisdom about our friendships and about truth. Show us what you would have us do with both. Amen!!

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping Like a Local

As someone who enjoys travel and shopping, and usually both all at once, I'm always curious about the trendy local places. Growing up in New Orleans, I learned that Magazine Street is the place to go for anything from a party frock to a new costume. The well known area is brimming with unique boutiques and local favorites. Stores like Funky Monkey, Wish, and Frock Candy are nestled between area coffee shops and quaint galleries. The shopping experience is definitely one of a kind. Once I moved to Dallas I had a major shopping paradigm shift. I couldn't find endless blocks of shops like Magazine Street offers. Boutiques were harder to come by, and the miles between my bus line and the nearest mall seemed like an eternity. Eventually I found my way around Dallas and wandered into the wonderful uptown neighborhood of what is known as West Village. It's a small square, a collective blend of restaurants, boutiques, and name brand stores. Aside from just shopping, West Village is the perfect spot for a relaxing Friday night, offering dinner options, a small theatre, and an active trolley which runs into the Arts District. This is definitely a destination to keep in mind next time you're passing through Dallas.

An even bigger shopping challenge than moving however, is shopping overseas or in an unfamiliar country. I've had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to other countries. In the Philippines I stood in awe inside the Mall of Asia. They had a Topshop before most Americans had even heard of the brand! Tomato? Cutest jeans I've ever spent twenty bucks on. Though each time I find myself outside of a mall and in a local market, I am simply puzzled about my shopping etiquette. Being the cheapskate that I am, my question is always the same, to haggle or not to haggle. To prevent myself from misinforming you the reader, I asked a close friend who has lived in and traveled to dozens of countries what her idea on this topic is. Her simple answer was "My only advice is when at the market in so developing nation don't bargain too hard; they have families to feed but 99% of the time you are getting ripped off." Well said! Though you do have control over what you're "getting ripped off" on. While in Haiti I bought several pieces of jewelry that are still in tact. All together the pieces probably cost about ten dollars. A worthy investment even if they do fall apart in time.

If you're planning a trip to a new destination and want to know how to shop like a local, the internet has never been more useful. Sites like Tripadvisor and Urbanspoon make it easier than ever to hear what people who have been there and done it really think. When traveling overseas always remember to have your currency traded at a bank and try not to bargain too hard!

Cupcake Wars winning cupcake: The Elvis

  I love The Food Network. There is something about watching people prepare food that just puts me in a good mood! So you can imagine when, "Cupcake Wars", made it's debut I was hooked. Basically, Cupcakes Wars starts with four bakeries who take on different "cupcake challanges"...kind of like a cupcake olympics if you will and one by one the teams are eliminated until one lucky bakery is standing. When I saw the following winning cupcake being assembled I knew I had to share it with my cyber-friends...you!  

This cupcake is a combination of a few of my favorite things...banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and Elvis :). Bake, enjoy, and pass it on!

The Elvis Cupcake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon banana extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 large, overripe banana, mashed
  • Peanut Butter Frosting, recipe follows
  • Chocolate Coating, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then stir in the vanilla and banana extracts. Stir in the vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the mashed banana.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 8 to10 minutes. Cool completely, and then frost with Peanut Butter Frosting and dip in Chocolate Coating and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, well sifted
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cream, as needed

Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and combined. Blend in the powdered sugar. Add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the frosting is too thick.

Chocolate Coating:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Melt together the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the microwave until completely melted

Next Level Fitness Part 2

After adding core work to your daily routine, the next way you can take your fitness to the next level is to incorporate both types of cardio work: anaerobic and aerobic. Each one uses different metabolic pathways in our bodies, the first without oxygen and the second uses oxygen. I am going to explain why this is important and how to add each one to whatever kind of exercise you are currently doing.

Back in the 80’s the emphasis was on aerobic exercise only. Now, research is supporting a mixture of both aerobic and anaerobic. It actually leads to more favorable effects on our hormones, including cortisol, insulin, glucagons and human growth hormone (HGH). This affects our energy levels, immune system, inflammation, as well as the way our body processes and stores sugar, protein and fat. Balancing aerobic and anaerobic training will allow your body to have more efficient metabolism.

Another reason to balance these two forms of working out is to better manage the end products of the pathways. Everyone who has ever worked out really hard and had soreness experienced lactic acid. This is the end product of anaerobic training. On the other end of the spectrum is oxidative load from aerobic training. Our bodies are really amazing at cleaning up oxidative stressors in the body, and completely avoiding oxidative stress is impossible. The goal is to do what we can to not cause excessive oxidative load, and avoiding excessive aerobic exercise is a really good idea for overall health and wellness. I could write a lot more on the subject, but will refrain to give you the bottom line.

Let’s move on to “the How”. It’s easy to balance your current workout by changing your exertion level. Aerobic training is at ~ 65 – 75% exertion level and anaerobic is higher at ~ 85-90%. So if you walk for exercise, start with the lower exertion level for about 5 minutes, and then take it up a notch and walk briskly (until you can’t talk when you walk and/or are breathing heavily) for about 1 minute, then take it back down for 5 minutes and allow your body to catch up. Repeat 4-5 times, and you will have successfully incorporated both anaerobic and aerobic pathways to your work out. You can apply this principle to cycling, elliptical, and just about any type of workout that you do. Any type of class that says it uses “burst” training is probably using this balanced approach. The key is to not overdo either one. It’s always a good idea to run new exercise programs by your doctor.

Take your fitness to the next level by balancing your the internal pathways you use when you work out. It’s healthier, and more efficient. You can’t get any better than that!

Spring Shopping After Sunset

Che Bella  is Round Rock's newest upscale boutique and they're planning their first Girls Night Out!! On March 31, Che Bella will host a two hour shopping event complete with adult beverages, appetizers & door prizes.  Owner, Cyndy Flores says she wants to give customers,

Upscale Treasures without Upscale Prices

Cyndy's vision is to showcase local artisans and help them build their fan base. Her vendor's  wares include one of a kind handcrafted jewelery, beaded serving pieces, hair and clothing accessories, bags and children's clothing.

Cyndy's exquisite taste is visible in her refined home decor.

She's also got the perfect gift for any holiday. Her desire is to provide her clients with  a place they can find a one-of- kind, unique gift for their boss, neighbor or best friend.

For those whose taste is more on the whimsical side, there are accessories like hand-made scarves, woven bags, tutus in every color and a great line of Fair Trade women's tops. You can even contract a local artist to to create a wooden image of your favorite pup (like the one peeking through the window.)

The after hours shopping event is two hours only, 6:30p.m.-8:30 p.m., March 31st.

However, if you visit Che Bella before the 31st, you'll qualify for the VIP drawings on the big night. In any case, there will be plenty of laughter and food  in addition to the Surprise Sales, games and door prizes.

Grab your best girlfriend and get ready to give yourself a little time off.

(Click on Cyndy's photo to learn more about Che Bella)

Che Bella is located at16238 N RM 620, Suite E Austin, Texas  78717 (512) 671-4438

For practical purposes it is  the corner of Great Oaks and RM620 in the Boardwalk Shopping Center, Suite E.

http://www.chebellagiftsandmore.com/