Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter: What I Want You to Know About Friends.

Dear Daughter,

I know that middle school can be a total beating. I remember ever so clearly, and I still have very vivid scars from my OWN middle school experience. I wish we could skip right over these years and get to the fun part (aka college), but the hard years are the ones that make you into a better person, I know for a fact, so we have to grit our teeth and endure them.

But I want you to know how wonderful you are, and that I'm really proud of how you've always been sweet to people, always included people who didn't have anyone to sit with in the cafeteria, always thought about the feelings of others. THOSE are the kinds of behaviors that make me proud. YOU are a valuable treasure, you've always been a GOOD FRIEND to people, ALWAYS, and you deserve the best of everything in life, INCLUDING REALLY GOOD FRIENDS who will love you and be there for you and make you feel GOOD to be around them.

And REALLY GOOD FRIENDS treat each other like they want to be treated.

And REALLY GOOD FRIENDS save you a seat in the cafeteria.

And REALLY GOOD FRIENDS include you, and don't exclude you.

And REALLY GOOD FRIENDS aren't jealous when a boy has a crush on you.

REALLY GOOD FRIENDS are happy when good things happen for you.

REALLY GOOD FRIENDS would NEVER say words that are carefully chosen to HURT you; really good friends make you feel BETTER when they're around. Bullies hide behind "just kidding" a lot, but if everyone isn't laughing, it's not funny.

You should NEVER feel BAD after being around someone who you call 'friend,' and if someone constantly makes you feel inferior, KICK THEM TO THE CURB. Really good friends NEVER, EVER make you feel inferior.

And oh, my sweet, precious daughter, THIS is what you deserve. I don't expect EVERYONE to treat you like the priceless treasure that you are, but at the very minimum, if someone can't be a good friend to you, it's time to say NEXT and move on.

THIS is what I want you to know: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU; it's about how they see themselves, and the REALLY insecure ones will thrive on making you feel bad so they can feel good about themselves. They'll be quick to let you know where they went when you weren't invited. They'll feel smug about excluding some so that THEY can feel 'in.' They'll flaunt their 'stuff' to make you feel bad about your own.

(Come to think of it, I know a few grown women who act like seventh graders...)

You should never, ever let the insecure people steal ONE MINUTE of your joy. You're sweet, kind, smart, pretty, and wonderful, and God has huge plans for you. Keep making every effort to be one of the good ones, and know that I'm incredibly proud of you. 

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our Camping Adventure {and a Tiny Baby Goat}.

One of our FAVORITE things to do is to go camping at Michael's parents' place. Of course, with Texas being so close to the equator there are only about two weekends a year that you can sleep outside and not die, and this past weekend was one of them. 


We're RIGHT THERE! Just a hop, skip, and a jump from our very own private lake! 

That's us, right there...

Our campfire during the daylight hours... 

And some scenes around the campfire Friday night. 

She REALLY didn't have a Seventh Grade Attitude in this picture, I promise. We just snapped the picture at the wrong second.

Sometimes a fire on the end of a stick can be a really exciting thing.

THIS is what we woke up to... a sunrise over this lake. All my Plexus friends who are in Hawaii right now, just WHATEVER about it. I have this lake. 

Campout tradition = breakfast burritos with sausage and eggs cooked over the fire. There is NOTHING tastier. 

My kids have a blast on this golf cart every time we visit the ranch. And this is the reason one of Susie's first words was 'golfcart.' It's true.

This rooster is a new addition to the farm. At one point Susie felt like he needed a hug, and it didn't end well. Susie got a little banged up, but it's all ok. Farm kids are tough kids.

See? That's the face of mental toughness gained by going blow for blow with a rooster who just THOUGHT he was bad. Probably didn't hurt that she stole my morning beverage.... 

Don't let the hair fool you. She's tough. 

And... kind of a clown. Wonder where she gets that. 

Michael and his dad.

So... don't let the big smile fool you. Just F your I, my husband is TOTALLY rugged and dangerous.

I SAW him cut the head off a copperhead with a pocketknife. "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST DID THAT," I said, like, seven times in a row, because I was kind of shocked. That was a little too close to a deadly snake for my comfort level, even IF my husband is THE most bad-to-the-bone guy in the state of Texas. "You just have to be faster than the snake," he said, because, you know, NO BIG DEAL. Don't mess with Michael, is all I'm saying. 

I didn't take a picture of the snake because I had the heebie-jeebies about the whole scene (it's making the hair on my arms stand up EVEN NOW, just typing about it), and besides, DID YOU KNOW THEIR HEAD STAYS ALIVE FOR A LONG TIME? We poked him with a stick ten minutes after he'd been decapitated and he SNAPPED HIS COLD, DEAD JAWS. And his headless body SLITHERED. #nightmaresaremadeofthis

The bad-to-the-bone snake killa... 

But on to something more pleasant. Did I show you this lake? Let's look at this lake one more time... 

Two of the newest ranch residents. They have names. Don't ask me what they are. 

At the ranch, we let Susie play in her pajamas, and/or a tshirt of her cousins, and/or whatever. Shoes are optional. 

Dirty fingernails = a day well-spent.

This is when she spotted her sisters coming over the hill in the golf cart... So. Exciting.

OH. And something so exciting happened while we were there... this tiny fella was born Friday night. He was just there Saturday morning out of nowhere... SURPRISE! And OH my word... the cuteness. I can't even stand it. His name? Skippy, because Katie picked it, that's why.

The future goat-herder... 

And the wee one.

Mama and baby... 

Digging in the dirt, barefooted. It's good for you.

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Remodeling Progress, Parenting, and Considering the Ant.

Yep. I haven't talked about it in months, because we're at THAT stage in the remodeling process.

If you've ever bought a project house, you know what I'm talking about... the point where the heart-pumping thrill of starting something new is long gone, but you're still SO much blood, sweat, and tears away from where you want to be. 

It just so happens that it's also that point immediately after you've spent all your money, and yet from the curb your house still looks pretty dang shabby BECAUSE YOU HAD TO SPEND YOUR MONEY ON THE DUMB STUFF THAT'S HIDDEN INSIDE THE WALLS.

Not only do I hate spending money on anything at Lowe's that occupies the shelves beyond the lighting aisle (when I still need so much attractive lighting), but I can't even pin those projects on Pinterest, because who even wants to see that? And if I can't pin it on Pinterest, sometimes I wonder what's the POINT of even doing this nonsense? 

Because in remodeling, like in every great undertaking, I want results NOW. Pinnable results. I want the big SHAZAM of a dramatic HGTV reveal at the end of a 30-minute episode. I want the extra weight to dissolve after one workout. I want my retirement account fully funded by a winning lottery ticket. I want my children to be Godly and mature and always make wise decisions at all times, after a training session or two. And while we're at it, I want a new car, dangit, because there's not ONE THING that's sexy about a 10-year-old minivan in my driveway.

But instead, SO MUCH in my life is just what you see in that picture above: Those are my very own hands, worn and weary and worked to the bone by all the DUMB, TEDIOUS, BORING projects that HAVE to be done. Projects like scraping the infernal insulating film off of the windows. I hate that dumb film. Even on its best day, that film is UGLY STUFF, but let it bake in the sun for several decades and THAT'S what I'm dealing with. It's ugly, it's old, it's shabby. It's not what I want. It's not what I envisioned when I first walked through this house with my remodeling goggles on and saw only the potential.

What I'd LOVE to do is replace all the windows RIGHT NOW (along with an entire Curb Appeal makeover, all while being filmed by an HGTV camera crew). They NEED to be replaced; they're GOING to be replaced in the proper time. Just not NOW. 

And so I scrape. 


And scrape. 

For hours now.


I'll scrape a little, then come back a day later and work a little more at it. 

Like the extra weight I want to lose... one insignificant 30-minute workout. And then hauling myself out of bed the next day and doing it again. Getting up early, and getting up early again, and scraping away at it.

And the retirement fund... making one seemingly-insignificant choice to save rather than spend. Foregoing Starbucks, foregoing Sonic happy hour, foregoing that new car. Scraping, scraping, scraping away at it.

And just like training my children... repeating for the 172,000th time to treat your sister like you want to be treated... be a blessing and not a burden... and your shoes belong upstairs, not ON the stairs. Repeating. Repeating. Repeating. And praying for patience and diligence to carry on when it's tedious and the lack of visible progress makes me want to give up. 

Something tells me there's a lesson to be learned in all this tedious scraping away toward my goal, and some character qualities God wants to grow in me one tedious project at a time.

He did tell us to consider the ant and be wise, after all, and that's exactly the verse that came to mind the other day as I was scraping, scraping, scraping at this window and getting frustrated that I wasn't getting ANYWHERE closer making this house beautiful.

Have you ever SEEN the magnificent underground structures a bunch of tiny ants can create? I'm in AWE of it. And to think.... they build what they build ONE GRAIN OF DIRT AT A TIME.

Daily disciplines multiplied over time create massive success. 

And one day, someday in the future, I'll be able to look back and appreciate the results of my labors. I'll see this beautiful HGTV-worthy home and forget the painstaking hours I spent scraping windows. I'll go shopping for skinnier jeans.... and Dave Ramsey won't frown at me for doing so, because of all those times I saved and didn't spend. And my heart will absolutely swell with pride when I see the Godly, mature, wise adults my children grew into.

But for now, I have some scraping to do. 

And you better believe I'll post some pictures on Pinterest when I'm done.

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sarah's Amazing Cheesy Kale Chips {Trim Healthy Mama S}

You know, I have tried so many times to like kale chips. I know all about how healthy they are. I know other people love them. I've made half a dozen batches TRYING to LIKE them, and I just never have... they've always been bitter. And who likes bitter?!

But then my wonderful friend and neighbor Sarah came over with a little bowl of kale chips for me to try, and I almost fell out. THEY WERE SO AMAZINGLY GOOD that I didn't even share them with my family... I stood there and devoured the WHOLE BOWL.

And then texted her and demanded the recipe. Finally, kale chip perfection... not only are they NOT bitter, they're delicious and have a cheesy taste, and I love them so much I keep a batch in my dehydrator CONSTANTLY. It's just a BONUS that they're chock full of SUPER FOOD NUTRITION. Make some NOW, and then thank my friend Sarah for bringing this goodness into my life...

Start with cashews, preferably soaked, Nourishing Traditions style. (If this is new to you, here's a post on how and why you should soak nuts before you eat them!) Here are mine, fresh from an evening in the oven... 

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Toss your soaked, drained, dried cashews into the blender along with everything else...

A tablespoon of yellow miso. I couldn't find yellow, so I bought white. I have no idea if there's any difference, but this one had a really mild flavor and I liked it.

This is what miso looks like, and I found it in the refrigerated section of my health food store. 

Add the juice of one lemon

Citrus press = one of my most-used kitchen gadgets. 

A few tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar. Be sure and use the unfiltered kind that comes with the mother (Bragg's brand is my favorite). Don't ask what 'mother' means. It's complicated.

You'll also need to add a red bell pepper (I also use green when it's what I have; no biggie); 2-3 peeled cloves of garlic; and a tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast (I like the flavor of KAL the best). <-- a="" addicted="" and="" be="" cheesy="" chips="" gives="" honest="" href="http://astore.amazon.com/thbiblho-20/detail/B000F4Y2GY" i="" is="" it.="" kale="" love="" m="" taste="" the="" their="" this="" to="" what="">Nutritional Yeast
on popcorn too, FYI. (*This is not bread yeast. It's also not candida yeast. Because yuck. It's GOOD FOR YOU yeast). 

Blend it up, baby. Make sure it's smooth with no cashew chunks. Then dump it all into a big bowl of kale leaves. And please use fresh kale BUNCHES and NOT the bags because the bagged stuff has stems in it, and also who knows how fresh that really is (and it tends to be more bitter, FYI); I use kitchen shears to cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces and toss the stems into my compost bin.

Stir it up well; it will be REALLY thick. 

I should note that on all subsequent batches of kale chips, I've added 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil to the mix for two reasons: to make the mixture smoother and easier to spread amongst the kale, and also to add in some extra Super Food nutrition. Tropical Traditions coconut oil is my favorite. It also makes this recipe an S Snack if you're a Trim Healthy Mama. 

Spread it in a thin layer in your dehydrator. Sorry about the blurry picture; I was drunk on cashew sauce by this point.

You can ALSO dry the kale chips in your oven on about 175* for 4-6 hours or so.

That's it. Store them in an airtight container (though at my house they get eaten right out of the dehydrator and there's nothing wrong with that). 

Sarah's Amazing Cheesy Kale Chips (THM S Snack)
2 bunches of curly kale 
1 red bell pepper (green is fine too)
1 cup cashews, soaked Nourishing Traditions style
Juice of one lemon
3 T unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (I like Bragg's)
1 T Nutritional Yeast (I like KAL)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

Remove kale leaves from stalk and tear into bite-sized pieces; place kale leaves into a large bowl and discard stems. 
Add next 7 ingredients to blender or food processor and process until cashews are finely ground and ingredients are well-mixed.
Add coconut oil as needed to make mixture a spreadable consistency. 
Add cashew mixture to bowl and stir until it's evenly distributed. 
Dehydrate at 105* for 8 hours, or until light and crispy.
Enjoy, and try to share some with your family.

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor

FYI, this post contains affiliate links. You don't have to buy through my links but doing so supports this blog financially, so thanks!
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