Monday, November 14, 2011

1,000 Gifts: A Simple List

I'm on a two day cleanse and fast... this time for healthy reasons and not spiritual. However, it's been over 24 hours since I've eaten, and my brain is just not functioning very well, so tonight's list is simple. Sometimes the simple things are what matter most anyway...

Tonight, I am thanking my Savior for:

61. My comfortable bed that I look forward to laying in every night.

62. The way I feel when my two year old makes a conscious decision to mind me

63. When I am having a down day, and the moment that I am able to find that place where I know that God loves me despite the "yucky" parts

64. Christmas crafts!

65. Chick-flicks

66. The connection that I have with my husband that I know no one else will ever experience. It is unique to us, and our love story.

67. Freedom

68. My older sister, her wisdom and the fact that she always answers her phone and responds to texts.

69. When worship music gives me goose bumps

70. THIS <----Click on it

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anthropologie: Sweet Sweaters

Anthropologie just might be my absolute favorite store in the world. Even when I am in seasons where I can not afford to shop there, their collections always offer inspiration. 

I am on a sweater kick right now because of the upcoming winter months. When I moved to the Southeast Texas heat I sold most of my winter clothes thinking that I would never be moving back up north. Lesson of the day: Never say never. At the same time that I am needing some good winter clothes, I am also on a huge quest to downsize my wardrobe. Adding more winter clothes seems to defeat the purpose of down sizing I know, but I am working on having more basics and everyday items, instead of a closet full of frilly, eclectic tops that I only wear once or twice a year. I'm still holding on to a few favorites, but the rest are either being donated, or sold on ebay.  

Back to my current infatuation with sweaters: Anthropologie never fails me when it comes to cozy, bulky, cute but comfy sweaters. what I love about so much of their pieces is that they are perfect for a casual day just chasing the toddler, or you can throw on some boots and jewelry and head out to eat with the man in your life. Here are my current favorites from the divine establishment referred to as Anthropologie.

Monday, November 7, 2011

1,000 gifts: Jesus Really Does Care

41. Each friend that God has placed in my life. New and old, near and far, ones that are just like me who get me and understand my heart, and ones that are quite different but challenge me to grow and balance me out.

42. Sneaking alone time with my husband. 

43. When a baby sitter is easy to find.

44. The anticipation of knowing I'm on the verge of a personal breakthrough. 

45. When Malakai finds something new to be excited about.

46. A freshly organized closet

47. The incredible ladies with me in this picture from March of 2011
My mom, older sister-Courtney Danielle, myself (Karis Rochelle), the youngest sister-Kaitlyn Bethel', and number 3-Christiana Noelle

48. Finding a routine in the middle of a chaotic season

49. ARC (Association of Related Churches) who's leaders have supported us, believed in us, are ALWAYS there for us, and invited us to be a part of this amazing world of planting life-giving churches. 

50. Music and the way that it moves my heart in such a deep way

51. Unanswered prayers
52. Answered prayers

53. Successful Trips to thrift stores and rummage sales

54. Being able to look someone who is brokenhearted in their tear stained eyes and say with all confidence and assurance that I've been there and if Jesus is in the boat it's not going to sink, the storm will pass, and Jesus really does care. (words passed down through generations of my family. Spoken to me countless times my my grandfather who has now passed away, my grandmother who is my hero and her son, my dad, who's life has proven all three principles first hand) 

55. Seeing one of my best friends rock the baby that we prayed for years for her to conceive. I can't imagine that seeing them interact will ever get old. 

56. Feeling pretty on messy hair and no make-up days

57. The what if's from my past that I choose not to dwell on, but when I think about them make me smile, and sigh and thank God for making all things work together for my good.

58. That extra hour of sleep that we got this past weekend

59. Getting to tell people how me and my husband met

60. The constant, relentless and always perfect for the moment inspiration that I receive when I dive into God's Word. 
Psalm 34
1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
   his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
   let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
   and let us exalt his name together!
 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
   and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
   and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
   and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
   around those who fear him, and delivers them.
 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
   for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
   but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
 11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
   and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
   and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
   seek peace and pursue it.
 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
   to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
   and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
  and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken. 
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
   and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
   none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Little Jelly Fish

Malakai just wasn't in a cooperative mood when it was time to go Trick or Treating. He was a jellyfish and had fun with his costume. Oddly enough, this night, he was just not interested in showing off. We all have our off days, right??? 

This is the best we could get...

Fall Festival

One of my favorite things about Centralia is the fact that all four seasons are each different, and all celebrated. Just about the time you can't handle winter anymore, spring and all of it's new life comes along. When the summer heat is just getting to the point of annoying, here comes fall with it's beauty and charm.
 I think I would definitely say that fall adds a certain level of charm to the Midwest.

The weekend of Halloween is celebrated city wide and each day offers the chance to make memories that will last us years and year to come. From community Trick or Treating, to a Kids Costume Contest and Kiddie parade, then it's on to the Fall Festival where the streets are closed and the down town area is bustling with a community excited about the cooler temps and the Cardinals in the World Series. To end it all, the annual (and not to mention massive) community wide Halloween parade. I think there were 160 entries or somewhere around that number. People begin to set out their lawn chairs along the parade route at the crack of dawn. It always reinforces just how many people live in this area. You get in the mind set that because it is a small town, there just aren't a lot of people you don't know. Literally thousands of people from Centralia and the surrounding areas line the long and straight parade path. 

This year me and Seth were looking at this massive crowd through a different lens. These are the people we are here for. There are the people God has called us to. It only inspired us more deeply to run after the vision that God has placed in our hearts for this city and it's beautiful and unique individuals.


Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31: 1,000 Gifts

This was an interesting week for me. It had ups and downs, complete with tears of brokenness and tears of joy. I am walking away from the past week feeling quite emotionally exhausted as I begin this new week, but at the same time, I feel a calming peace moving in and resting my heart and calming my mind. We made so many incredible memories this past weekend with trick or treating, a fall festival and Halloween Parade. We have had some amazing encounters with encouragement and some disappointing confrontations with discouragement. All in all we are leaving yet another week behind us that has been packed full of God's beautiful grace, and we are so thankful for this journey that He has allowed us to partake in.

Gifts 23- 40:

23. Fall colors

24. Peaceful afternoons

25. Days where not having an agenda is perfectly okay

26. Sleeping in

27. Pumpkins

28. Emotional weeks that although tough to navigate through, cleanse the heart

29. The anticipation of the approaching holidays

30. Being friends, despite all of the odds.

31. Random encouraging texts

32. Seeing growth in myself

33. Seeing Kai's face light up the entire day of the Fall festival, from the kiddie parade, to the train we got to go on, inflatables, and the big Halloween Parade. He was more adorable than you could possibly imagine! It was almost too much to handle. I cried at least twice just because of how happy he was.

34. A front page article being written about City Hope Church

35. Unity in local churches. (In particular: a local Pastor wanting to come to a launch meeting and pray for our new church plant!)

36. God in me being greater than the rough spots in me.

37. Finding new local restaurants that have a great menu.

38. Skype!

39. The kind of friends, that you know without a doubt will be there when (not if) you call.

40. This truth: "Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little City Style: Sunday Best and Tattoos

This past Sunday me and my husband went to church with his 94 year old grandma. This is something that means so much to her, but something that we will hardly ever be able to do once we launch City Hope Church. We didn't have a church launch meeting or anything on Sunday and could always use a service where we are getting poured into instead of being the ones to pour out. (A high recommendation for all of those in ministry!) Isabel, or "Grandma B" as we all call her, lives with us, so we waited to get dressed until she left the house for Sunday school. We got to church just in time to surprise her before the service began. The look on her face when she saw us walk in was precious! I loved it! She had just seen me in my pj's just an hour before we got there in our Sunday best. I think I shocked us all by getting myself together that quick!


Top: Sears (less than $10)
Belt: Cato
Skirt: Sears - $12
Tights: Kohl's
Shoes: Payless
Sunglasses: Francesca's
Photography by my precious husband, Seth

Many people ask about my tattoo on my back. My brother-in-law, Sean Baltzell, is a very gifted tattoo artist who specializes in classic style tattoos. He just opened up an absolutely incredible tattoo shop in St. Louis, MO in the Tower Grove area. Check him out at Tower Classic Tattoos. If you are serious about good quality classic tattoos, you should seriously check it out and try to make it to St. Louis sometime for an appointment. Aside from the incredible artistic ability of Sean and his other artists, you will experience a tattoo shop that just raised the bar for the entire industry. Sean happened to be hanging out with me and Seth on this day, and although he looks like a creeper in this picture... he's quite a nice fellow. Sidenote: me, Sean and my son Kai are the red heads of the family. (in case you couldn't tell!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's THAT Good: Tortilla Soup

I have searched for years for the perfect Chicken Tortilla Soup. A local restaurant in my home town (Elena's)  has the world's best tortilla soup. I make special arrangements to eat there every time I am in Beaumont. for years I have been trying recipes and variations of recipes and to no avail. UNTIL, I came across this one from Soup Addict... no crazy awesome introduction needed. (Yeah, it's THAT good)

(I added a little bit of paprika to this recipe instead of a jalapeno. I have used a  to go ready rotisserie chicken from the store and also boiled chicken. Both turned out equally delicious. And lastly, I use a lot more chicken stock, tomato puree and add some Rotel...I didn't list my changes in the recipe below)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
red bell pepper, chopped
poblano pepper or green bell pepper, chopped
jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
15 ounces can tomato puree
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound cooked chicken, cubed or pulled

Cheese sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream, half and half or milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces cheese, grated (use your favorite or a mix of favorites)


Tortilla chips, crumbled (or if you can find them, tortilla strips)

Sour cream

Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

1. Make the soup: Heat oil and butter in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions, celery and garlic until soft.

2. Add a splash of chicken stock, and then the red bell, poblano or green bell and jalapeno peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.

3. Add all of the spices (salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, sugar, chili powder), and stir until fragrant.

4. Add the remaining chicken stock, tomato puree and Worchestershire sauce. Mix well and bring to boil.

5. Add chicken, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes (or more – the longer a soup simmers, the better!)

6. Make the cheese sauce: Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in flour to create a paste.

7. Slowly add the dairy, stirring constantly, until a thick, creamy sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Add grated cheese and stir to completely incorporate into the sauce.

8. Add cheese sauce to the soup, stirring to mix well. The soup should now be creamy, but not necessarily spoon-hugging thick.

9. To serve: ladle into bowls, then sprinkle on cilantro. Add a spoonful of sour cream and top with tortilla chips/strips.

A Day Late: 1,000 Gifts

I'm a little late in jumping on the band wagon. I've wanted to read Ann Voskamp's book "A Thousand Gifts" for a while now, but have just not had the time or energy to devote to any book other than Bible based devotions. I am excited to finally start this book and also excited to join in with many other bloggers in the commitment to give thanks always and in everything by starting my own list of One Thousand Gifts. Daily events, happenings, revelations and encounters that all make me thankful, bring me joy and settle my ever-restless heart will be highlighted and celebrated through the magnificent lens and covering of God's never ending goodness.

I am a day late. Typically this will be a Monday routine.

1. This incredibly inspiring practice of begining a list of One Thousand Gifts

2. An encouraging phone call from a special mentor

3. How well behaved my 2 year old was in Walmart today

4. The journey God has me on and what I feel and know to be true in my heart

5. The beautiful fall weather the doesn't make me sweat, or make me wear a sweater.

6. God's faithful financial provision during this season of our life.

7. Renewed energy (spiritual and physical)

8. This recipe

9. Overcoming a personal struggle that I've dealt with for years

10. A toddler that loves to cuddle.

11. Finding an easy to make, and inexpensive Halloween Costume for little Kai

12. Having time to develop friendships in my life

13. My silver sparkly Tom's

14. Living somewhere where the trees turn colors for fall

15. The hole in the wall Greek Restaurant we discovered today - Authentic gyros.

16. A living room that stays clean for the entire day.

17. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 

18. When Kai wants to watch something other than "Little Einsteins" or "Rocket" as he calls it

19. Restored health to our little family. Stomach bug, sniffles and ear infection free.

20. The "block this user" option on Facebook. (for the haters)

21. Church with Grandma this past Sunday. 

22. Finding myself content with simplicity after a life of being addicted to excess

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Art of Encouraging Yourself

This season some of our biggest dreams are in the beginning stages of coming true. We are overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation. It has been one of the most beautiful seasons of my life. Trying to wrap my mind around the fact that God has chosen us to carry out this vision. Fragile, imperfections around every corner, and definitely not the most qualified for the job, but completely desperate for God to use us in any way for his Glory.

Even with all of the beauty of this season, there is room for the occasional fear and anxiety. Occasional? yeah right! It's a daily struggle to hand over all of my fears and worry and place them into the hands of the God who brought me here in the first place. Leading up to February, there are so many emotions, circumstances and what feels like an always growing to-do list saturating each and ever day of the week. It is busy. It is uncharted territory. It is exhausting. It is so packed full of grace and mercy that big emotions (good and bad) are inevitable. It's one of those seasons where you know the end product just isn't even remotely possible without absolute and totally dependance on our big God. Fear creeps in from time to time. I'm not a cry baby, or haven't been throwing the worlds longest pity party, but some days I just get worn down. It has taken a lot of sacrifice, but at the same time that I want to cry about all the we left behind, I want to cry about all that God has led us to and the doors that He continues to open day after day.

I think in this season of my life individual's words and actions stand out to me so much more than they typically do. The discouraging words cut like a knife on a level of intensity that I have never experienced. If no words are spoken at all, it can be equally as devastating to my day if I'm overwhelmed and my heart is longing for some small glimmer of affirmation. and them, at the same time, all it takes is a simple "Atta girl!" and the tears are flowing out of a heart that is overflowing with gratitude for such intense encouragement! Have you ever been there? I'm there and I'm not even an emotional person! (at some point before this season of my life is over, I'm pretty sure God is going to see to it that I quit using those words to describe myself!)

What I have learned is this, where there is fear there is always a peace that is greater. On most days, most people just aren't going to say exactly what you need them to say, when you need them to say it, and there will ALWAYS be days where it's just you (you're two year old) and Jesus. Yep. Alone... with no encouragement in sight. Especially when your husband is working 2 jobs, doing freelance design work and in the process of planting a church. (Have I mentioned that my husband is my hero?) Alone is always a scary thought. Alone is incredibly devastating if you are in a season where friendships are just non-existent (been there, done that and that's an entire other blog post). "Alone" can be equally as draining even if you are surrounded by great friends and people who love you, but if you are in a season that hold a very specific set of emotions for you and have a hard time relating to life as you once knew it. "Alone" is in the eye of the beholder, and no matter how many people we are surrounded by, days of feeling alone are just inevitable.

There is a great truth to be learned from the life of king David of the Bible. In 1 Samuel 30, David was having a bad day. A quite horrible day to be exact. not only had he suffered great loss, the people that surrounded him who had also suffered loss wanted to stone him. Ok, so my days don't look so bad at this point. Things get tough, but I'm pretty sure no one has ever wanted to stone me, that I'm aware of at least. But there have been days, and will continue to be days that even those who you want to sympathize with you and send some encouragement your way just might be consumed with their own lives... and rightfully so. We are all busy, all tired, and all have our fair share of valley's to walk through in life. Don't get mad, don't get sad and don't get bitter just because your "close" friends aren't validating your every emotion. In this case, David found the key. 1 Samuel 30:6 says "...but David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God." DAVID encouraged and strengthened HIMSELF.  You can not possibly always depend on tangible encouragement. Your heavenly Father sees you, knows you, and is the world's best at validating your tears and fears. He led to to the place where you are and holds the perfect amount of peace to calm your every fear, to encourage your disappointed heart and to rejoice with you when you feel like you are alone in your joy. Learn the art of encouraging yourself in the Lord. Remind yourself of where His grace has brought you from and where His love is taking you. I may be a long ways from where you think I need to be, but you have no idea how far I've come. Even if joy is hard to find, count your blessings and trust in His relentless grace, and quietly wait for help from your great big God.

This is a passage from Lamentations 3, using The Message translation that I use to encourage myself quite often... If I were to be honest, it is sometimes even needed on a daily basis.

"22-24God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left.
 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.
 28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst."

Encourage yourself today... and if you still have some energy left, 
go encourage someone else too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Little City Style: Secrets Revealed

This post is a little long, but I'm setting you up for many posts to come in the future! Little City Style will be a common feature on this blog from here on out. I am not from a little city, (quite the opposite) but the precious details of my life have led me here, and I have refused to let it damper my love for fashion and all things style related. I choose to adapt. After many years of living in denial, it's official... labels just don't mean as much to me as they used to. This is a funny thing to admit because at the same time I admit this, I would REALLY like to say that I could CARE LESS.... but it's even still not 100% true! I still swoon every time I walk into an Anthrologie and Juicy still makes my heart flutter! Why do we take such large amounts of pride in who designed our over priced v-neck and where we bought our over-bedazzled jeans. I'm on a journey out of this silly mindset, and this post and on-going feature is a result. So here we go....

OK, I'm letting you in on a HUGE secret of mine. Like a big one. Are you ready? (whispering...) Right now, some of the favorite pieces of my wardrobe came from low end departments stores. GASP! Can you believe I just said that?! I'm talking like the kind of stores you just don't talk about when you shop there... especially for clothes! It's one thing to hit up Sears for a new power drill, but for a date night top? 

One thing that living in a small town has forced me to do is improvise when it comes to shopping. There are little to no shopping options right here in town.
Here's the Centralia line up:
 A couple of thrift stores that have good vintage options: they are a tad smelly, and I want to bathe in anti-bac gel when I leave, but still VERY cheap and loads of great vintage finds because there is just not a market for that kind of stuff here. They don't even know what they have!
Maurice's: Good for emergencies and blue jeans, but mostly just not quite my style)
Walmart: Just plain old Walmart. Not even a Super Walmart. I didn't even know normal sized Walmarts still existed until I moved here.
Peeble's: Like a Palais Royal or Bealls, but worse.
A Payless, another shoe store, and I think that completely sums it up as far as retail goes.

Store options that are less than 30 minutes away:
JC Penny
Bath and body Works
Resale Shops
The Shoe Dept.
A Super Walmart

So, there you have my options. A trip to St. Louis is an hour away. With gas prices, my SUV and a toddler who is currently fascinated by escalators, on most days it's just not worth a trip. The good news is that one most days, you don't need a trip.

Sears, for example, has several trendy lines of clothes (including the new Kardashian line) and absolutely incredible clearance racks that are usually stuffed full. Here's a tip: smaller towns = less of a city influence which means the edgier, more trendy options stay on the rack longer! Most tops I get from Sears are less than $10. (the top in this post, and both tops in the post on our trip to Birmingham were from Sears and all $7.99 each. Three words: told you so.)

Cato is harder to find tops and bottoms that I can work with, but they always have a stellar collection of shoes. They even usually have several options of 3" heels, rather than the typical 4-5" and that just makes this tall girl happy. (Even though I don't hesitate to splurge on a fabulous 4")

J.C. Penny is home to Mary-Kate and Ashely Olsen's line as well as a couple of other trendy and dare I say "hipster" lines.

Kohl's is home to Vera Wang, Elle, Lauren Conrad, and as if those weren't enough a new Jenifer Lopez line, and lots more. Also, my most favorite pair of jeans that I get compliments on day in and day out are from the Kohl's jr department. They are the Kohl's brand "SO" and I got them on sale last Christmas for $17. They ran true to size, have kept their shape, length and fit beautifully even after several months. (I typically stay far far away from juniors jeans, but are a current wardrobe staple of mine)

So I hope that helped some of you small town fashionistas. Don't make a several hour trip to the big city just for the sake of a designer, or a favorite spot. I still shop at my favorite city spots when I have the chance, and I am constantly on their websites pulling inspiration and applying it when exploring any type of retail store. My wardrobe consists of pieces from Sears, Walmart and Forever 21 all the way to Anthrologie, Nordstrom and H&M.

Fall, family day, here in town at the park.


Top: Sears
Ballet Jacket: Forever 21
Jeans: Kohls
Shoes: Cato
Jewelry: earring and necklace from Forever 21

My boys and me:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Crusted Fish with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Dinner tonight was a home run. This word choice has nothing to do with the World Series being on tonight. (or does it?!) It was just a flat out delicious meal.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it was love at first sight. I knew that I'd be whipping it up in no time. You can trace the original recipe back to here. I did modify it a little because I cook for four other adults and a two year old. I added the modifications into the recipe I provided here. The instructions sound a little complicated, but once I did the first one, it was totally easy after that.

This blogger has a great selection of easy, delicious looking recipes. So far I've tried two and both have been crazy good! The other recipe I tried (Easy Cheesy Hot Bean Dip) didn't last more than 10 minutes around here. It was an appetizer of sorts. It didn't even last long enough to get a picture, but it is a great simple party food or appetizer for the family.  

My revisions to the original recipe are in bold

Here is my version of the main course.


It was a hit and it will gladly be put into the Baltzell recipe box.   

Sweet Potato Crusted Fish with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette


Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
2 cups fresh cilantro - packed (We LOVE cilantro!) 
2 medium cloves of garlic
2 limes- juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup light olive oil (I ran out of EVOO, so used 1/4 EVOO and 1/4 Canola)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon scourcream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch of sugar (1/2 tsp)
(I had to improvise at the last minute because I was cooking for 5 and was afraid we would run our of dressing, so I added about half a bottle of ranch dressing to the final product. It did change the taste a little but it was still delicious, and definitely made it stretch.) 

1 pound Tilapia, or any light flaky fish (Dolphin, Grouper, Snapper, Halibut etc... I used a family pack of tilapia and it was perfect)
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded (I used 5 small)
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup flour - seasoned with a little salt & pepper
2 TBS canola oil (or any light oil) (I used 2 tbs per batch, and had 3 batches)
2 TBS butter
Mixed Greens
Black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can of corn drained
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1 cup of salsa


Combine vinaigrette ingredients into a food processor, mini chopper, or blender and pulse until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

If serving over salad, prepare salad now so it is ready to go.

Mix the black beans, corn, onion and salsa in a bowl, set aside or refrigerate

Add flour to a pie plate (or any dish with sides) and season with salt and pepper. In another one, whisk together 1 egg plus 2 egg whites.

Heat a large skillet (one with a fitted lid) over medium to medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter plus 1 tablespoon oil (you may need extra if it's a large skillet - you want the entire bottom coated). Allow this to heat up.

Eyeball the size / shape of the pieces of fish and then, add a small mound of shredded sweet potatoes to the oil. About the same size & shape of the fish. (one mound for each piece of fish).

Quickly dredge the fish into flour mixture, then egg wash, and set on top of the sweet potatoes in the pan.

Repeat with each piece of fish. Top with additional shredded sweet potatoes, making sure there is a good even layer on top of the fish.

Cover the pan with a lid and allow to cook for 7-8 minutes (check after 5 minutes to see if the bottom is browning too much). When bottom has browned, they are ready to flip. Using a spatula, gently remove the pieces of fish from the pan (one at a time). Set on a plate for just a moment.

Add the last tablespoon of oil & butter to the pan making sure it coats the bottom of the pan evenly. Using the spatula, carefully (one at a time) flip the fish into the pan (uncooked side down). Cover pan with lid and allow to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until done. (I almost doubled this recipe. If making more than a couple of filets, just repeat this step of adding oil before you flip the fish over with every batch. Doing this prevents the sweet potatoes from sticking to the pan and not the fish. The first batch I had one pretty side and one ugly side.)

The fish doesn't dry out due to the natural moisture in the potatoes! When both sides are browned, remove the fish fish from the skillet, serve over mixed salad, and then top with black bean salsa and cilantro lime vinaigrette.

Can't forget about dessert! Simple, and insanely delicious and totally perfect for a cold, fall night! I will probably be making it for every holiday party I attend...and then some! (no pictures, so sorry!) Found it HERE.

Church Planting, a Full Heart, and a Fab Wardrobe

If you don't know much about ARC, you should definitely get to know more about this incredible association that is completely committed to seeing life-giving church plants all across America, and then helping church planters receive the proper training and resources in order to be successful. 

We absolutely love ARC and their heart for Church Planting. We always leave our time with them feeling refreshed and encouraged exponentially. We have made so many incredible friends. The amount of counsel and coaching from the leadership and those who have gone before us is absolutely priceless! Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for so much support and just overwhelmed in general that God would give us this dream and then arrange a lifetime of details to get us here!

This was our final assessment before we know which direction they will recommend that we go. I have enjoyed the journey so much! I am sad that we won't be going to anymore trainings or assessments but incredibly stoked about having the tools that we need to take our next steps in this amazing process. 2.12.12 is quickly approaching!

Although fashion and style were the least of my concerns while I was in Birmingham, it's always fun to be in a different city and compose your line-up for the days spent there!

Me and my love, who I couldn't be more proud of!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


This week in pictures:

I got my hair cut. This is the before picture. There is no after picture yet because I have yet to take one that I am OK with. I've never hated a haircut before, but this might be a first. Not a bad haircut, as a matter of fact my stylist was amazing, I just don't think the new cut fits me quite as well as the last one. Oh well. It will grow.

 We made some home made dough nuts.

I introduced Kai to watercolors. He absolutely fell in love with painting, which made this mama's heart very happy.

I would offer to sell it, but you probably can't afford it. =)

Me and Kai also made Color Aquariums with old water bottles and some Dollar Store craft supplies. It was great for his motor skills and he was so proud of his work. It was like he knew how pretty all of the colors were and knew that he put them all together. Love that little creative soul of his!

In the works: Turning 28: Birthday weekend!
"50 Reasons to live in a small town... Centralia Style" ...or something like that
A post about one of my new favorite local spots
The Best Tortilla Soup EEEEEVER (dramatic much?!)
Punkin-palooza. (pumpkin pie and pumpkin pop tarts with maple icing)
Friday Night Lights Outfit (it's not Texas football, but we're going to playoffs so that makes up for a lot!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Here are some facts:

Small towns = a lot of fast food restaurants. VERY few restaurants offer any sort of health food value.  I flip out when I see a vegetarian or gluten free option. It just rarely ever happens.

Small town = most people live in a bubble of sorts and are not concerned whatsoever with what goes into their body. (not dogging small towns, I'm actually working on a 50 reasons why you should live in a small town... I might even make it specific to Centralia.. Stay tuned for that one) Because of the lack of interest in individuals, health food is not in high demand and as a result the selection at any of the local grocery stores is quite sad. 

Aldi is owned by the same company that Trader Joes is. 

There is an Aldi right here in little ol' Centralia. (hear the angels singing?!)

Hands down there isn't a grocery store within driving distance that can beat their prices.

They have a great selection of organic, healthy and gourmet foods.

Living a healthy lifestyle in a small town is a bit more challenging, but worth the pay off.

If you love to cook and explore new recipes then eating healthy instantly gets much easier.

Disclaimer: When I say healthy, I mean healthy-ish. In our family, we are by no means a strict diet type of family, but we always try to make good choices, and are always open to new strategies to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. We snack smart, cook light, and usually have one meal a week where we are allowed to "splurge" and just satisfy a craving. Then there is my method of totally limiting my caloric intake during the fall season, so I can partake of as many pumpkin desserts as I want and still maintain my weight.

Here's what was for lunch today. All courtesy of Aldi. I was excited to see that they carry Greek Yogurt. I was pleased with the taste. The texture was a little bit more thin than typical Greek Yogurt, but it was still great. Added some granola cereal to it and drizzled some honey on top. It was perfect!

P.S. My pumpkin dessert of choice this week is the pumpkin pie mini blizzard from DQ.'s a small town so OF COURSE we have a DQ. To balance out how many calories are in this closing statement, I will also add that the Centralia DQ also now has an Orange Julius attached to it, and who doesn't love a nice, refreshing and possibly healthy smoothie? (of course I am saying this BEFORE researching the health benefits... if there are any.)

Tomorrow is Friday my loves! 

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Significant Details

Thank you all for your sweet patience while I get this new blog up and going. I am glad I don't have to depend on someone for my own design work but at the same time I can be slightly OCD when it comes to my own projects. Sometimes insignificant details get too much time spent on them. However, I am happy to say that sometimes I get lost in the significant details as well. Today I introduced him to painting and it's all he talked about right up until bedtime.

Operation Inspiration: Pinterest

One of my nightly rituals is to settle on my couch with a quilt, glass of iced tea, or a mug of hot tea and I find myself lost in the inspiring and hypnotizing world of Pinterest.

Tonight I actually have iced tea and hot tea by my side. I tend to usually be on the cold side, but recently I have found myself having hot flashes every night. I'm not 50, nor am I pregnant, so your guess is as good as mine. Any doctors out there? The ice tea is for the hot flash and the hot tea is for my sore throat that has developed over the past few days. It is quite normal for me to have several beverages on hand at one time anyways since I have a deep rooted fear of being thirsty and not having something to drink. <----- There's a little Karis trivia fact for you. 

Here are some of my favorite pins from the past few days: