Thursday, June 28, 2012


It had been a while, but the other day I picked up my copy of One Thousand Gifts and had a little trouble with it.

I'm about half way through - after the concept of thankfulness as the pathway to true joy and the quest to live in the fullness of His abundance had been well established. In an entirely uncomfortable moment of honesty, Ann Voskamp details her mental chatter while watching her boys fight over breakfast chores one morning.

I almost didn't want to read this part...I prefer to think of those truth giving authors as saints who have it all figured out. And this struck just a smidge too close to home. I've had those thoughts when my dogs knock into me (and my cup of coffee) as I come into the house with my hands full. Or when that last bag of groceries breaks on the way into the house. Or when someone sits at a green light (Green means go people! Even my three year olds know this!)

But her conclusion for fighting those moments of stress was simple and surprising.

She proposes that thankfulness draws us into the Presence of God by turning our faces towards Him. He's always about us, but we seldom notice. So she thanked God for her sons. For their vivaciousness. For the curls falling into their eyes. And those words brought her into her sanctuary - out of herself - and into the Presence of the God who loves her, has a plan for her, and could soften her heart, and her words, in that moment, because He was right there with her.

Kind of an odd thought, huh? When frustrated, throwing something, rather than thanking Someone, seems the more cathartic choice.

But I'll try anything once.

So tonight, as I finished the last hour at work, warm, tired, and trying to find something to finish out those last 45 minutes with in the too-quiet office, I started thanking. Thankful today, for an air conditioned office. Thankful for a job I like most of the time. Thankful for a cool house to go home to. And the mental conversation kind of took off on its own. It grew out of me, and all of a sudden, I didn't mind being at work so much.

It seems silly, but by acknowledging where my blessings come from, Who they come from, I realligned my life against the horizon of grace. These moments and tasks seem doable in light of eternity, in light of all God has given me, of all He provides me. It's not so much an easy fix to an uncomfortable problem as much as a way of seeing the problem redefined as a gift.

It's gonna take some practice, especially in those mean red moments, to remember to practice thankfulness. But I think I want to try. I think it might make a difference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crazy Day Display

My friends over at Crazy Day Gourmet have invited me to have a DaiseyBelle Designs display in their store!

 As of tomorrow afternoon, these, among other lovelies, will be available for sale only at Crazy Day! Of course, I'll still be posting new things online and accepting online orders. But there will also be an assortment of items for sale at Crazy Day. 

(By the way, these ladies have the BEST coffee in the world. It's true. Go buy jewelry and drink coffee.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mostly Homemade Mondays

Over here today at Frugal by Choice's Mostly Homemade Mondays link in!

Check out her blog for more mostly homemade items!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back on the bandwagon

I promised after griping Friday night that I'd crawl back on. And I have. Yesterday was actually a little bit better, which inspired me to get back in the kitchen this morning. And in just under 2 hours, I've prepped some for the week and learned some lessons about whole foods. Shall I share?

Breakfast - fried apples and oatmeal. This is super easy and super yummy. Start coconut oil (remember those digestive benefits?) simmering in skillet. Add a smidge of brown sugar, and stir real fast so it doesn't scorch. Peal and slice an apple, sprinkle with ginger and cinnamon, and leave it. Every few minutes, toss the apples so they cook evenly. If you use an-almost-bad-apple like I did, this takes about 10 minutes. Then add oatmeal (and chia seeds) and fry.

My only complaint here was that I like my oatmeal toasted, as in, almost granola. I probably should have started this in another pan, because by the time I added the oats I was 1) hungry an 2) the skillet was too full to toast properly. 

Dinner - Taste of Home's Coffee Pot Roast. Onions, mushrooms, little salt/pepper/chili powder and a cup and half of coffee. 

Breakfast for this week - whole wheat waffles. That's the last one on top, so it looks smooshed. But they are light and fluffy and tasty. I can take these to work and re-toast them. 

Remember me mentioning the whole wheat cake mixes a couple weeks back? 
 Well, I've found that just adding whole wheat flour to a recipe that calls for white doesn't always work. The cakes were bread-like - good flavor, but stiff. So, genius thought, I started looking for recipes that actually call for whole wheat flour. I've been slowly following 100 Days of Real Food's blog and her recipe index has a ton of whole wheat recipes.

I think baking whole wheat with coconut oil also really helps to soften it up.

Whole Wheat Biscuit Mix - again from 100 Days of Real Food. This is to replace my jiffy mix...and also because we ran out of bakery bread and I'm not going shopping until this coming weekend.

Super easy - just the flour, salt, and baking powder. But now I just have to add milk (almond) and butter (or coconut oil) and we're set!

And lastly - just for fun - and because I had extra coffee left over from the pot roast - coffee ice cubes! On the right, I'm freezing my chocolate mint leaves to add to my iced coffee.

So slowly, but surely, I'll get through meals this week. I wish I had time (and money!) to just stay home and peal veggies, and cook and make bread. I'm learning how to fold all of this into a normal life, and trying hard to not feel guilty for using the easy routes sometimes. (I bought a cake at Marsh last night - I just needed icing.) I figure every real food we eat is a step in the right direction, and quite frankly, our bodies have adapted to eating processed food. So every now and then, I figure it's not gonna kill us. It sure beats stressing over things! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

My digestive soapbox...

Front Cover

*Disclaimer #1: This is a tad clinical. And whiny.
*Disclaimer #2: I work in the medical field. I have learned the hard way that when you don't know what a diagnosis is, you just guess. You do not, I repeat do not, google search it. It's scary. There will be no scary pictures here, I promise.
*Disclaimer #3 - last one - If you have a queasy stomach, this may be a little TMI.

You've been warned.

So I had my gall bladder removed about a year ago. That was supposed to be the end to all stomach pain. And it helped, a lot. But when you haven't eaten well for about 2 years (I'm a slow mover) it takes a while to get everything back to normal.

I've been reading an awesome book that talks about a lot of really severe digestive diseases. When you don't have proper nutrition or are sick constantly, you actually skim layers off of your intestines. These layers are where all the good little bacteriums live that help with digestion. Once they've been evicted, they aren't too keen for the reunion tour just because they've been invited back.

So I've been working really hard at learning to eat again, for oh the last six months. And it was working! Lots of probiotics, to get those bacteria critters back in there, lots of coconut products (which help to restore cell linings), and lots of natural foods.

And then Paul and I both got the flu during the hottest, muggiest week of the year. No one feels good when it's so hot, and having the stomach flu doesn't help! And now, after being repeatedly sick again, I can't seem to bounce back. It's as if all the progress I've made, all the cells I've grown back, have been stripped off.

I haven't eaten a full meal in about three weeks. And when I eat, all my digestive organs hurt. I've been using my heating pad at work to relax those muscles - and it's been 95 degrees outside!

And I'm not sure why I've just spilled all of this to the world, except, I'm really tired of this. I worked so hard...and now I'm back at square one. Except nothing seems to be working!

I don't know if I should find a support group, go back to the doctor, start eating only soup? I'm just tired and confused and hungry.

Tomorrow morning I'll get off my soapbox, back on my band wagon, and start, one slow step at a time, to get back to normal. It's just hard to see progress lost - to not be able to eat, even healthy things, and have to struggle back to the top. Do you know how ingrained food is in our culture?

But share with me - anyone else struggle with stuff like this? What do you do to over come it?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Sale

It's Summer Sale time! It's really the only way to beat the heat. :)

All earrings listed in DaiseyBelle Designs Summer Sale Album are between $5-$6 (which is 2-3 bucks less than normal per pair). All necklaces and the bridal line (available in other albums) are 25% off. 

Dragonflies, 6.00, 1 available
Yellow hoops, 6.00, 1 available
You can check them out here. Or look at the pictures below!
Purple flames, 5.00, 2 available


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend weather

Just when you think a day is off to a pretty good start.... actually gets started. And it isn't at all like you thought it was going to be.

It's been one of those weeks. I realized today that despite my best attempts, the only room in my house I've managed to keep clean this week is my kitchen. And that's if you discount the lego-style stacked clean dishes that have yet to be put away. Before lunch today, I hadn't had a full meal since....Monday night? I haven't walked either of my dogs, or had a cup of coffee in a least six days. And I'm still wearing a little bit of eye liner from last night that didn't wash off in the shower this morning.

Due to Paul and I being back and forth sick we have a gotten at least a few nights of pretty good sleep. But between being sick and working overtime this week, we haven't had any awake time to spend together. (I have got to figure out how to go on dates in our dreams. If we could do this Inception style, life would be so much more efficient!)

And I don't mean to complain. Really. This is how life happens and some really cool things happened this week. We got to see Peter Pan at the Wagon Wheel. For free. We got to have Father's Day dinner at my family's, and everyone was there.

I've been keeping up with my joy calender , and it's filling up! I know I have things to be thankful for.

But some weeks just leave you feeling like you need a vacation. Just a day or two away, where things are easy. Where there isn't a disconnect between my taste buds and my intestines, and what sounds good, tastes good, and doesn't make me regret my very existence two hours later. Where time planned to spend together, gets to be spent together. No interruptions. Where you can forget about chores and bills and efficiency. Just for a bit.

And so I'm determined to find a few little escapes these next two weeks. A few moments to steal away and unwind. Before my top comes clean off! And I'm hoping to start with food that actually digests the way it should.

What do you do when life gets to be too much?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And cranberries save the day!

Cranberry Pork Medallions Recipe
Taste of Home photo
Mondays can be a bit treacherous. When you have the weight of the atmosphere that just won't give in and rain pressing in on your scalp, and a nasty head ache that has stretched its mangy tentacles around your cranial nerves and won't let go, Monday can be especially treacherous.

So after actually navigating through my work day, I need an easy meal. But one with lots of flavor, that was as good for my soul as it was for my mouth! 

Cranberry Pork Medallions - these have been a Taste of Home rescued stand by for a while now. It's the type of meal that takes 8 minutes of prep, but can sit simmering on the stove until you're actually ready to eat. And it pairs really nicely with noodles, or rice, or steamed red potatoes (with butter and parsley!) 

And it's versatile too! You can actually spend the extra buck to get medallions that look fancy, or you can use pork tenderloin.  And you can use the actual recipe, or you can do it my way. 

Here's your process:

Brown pork in olive oil, salt, and pepper until cooked through. (Brown is kind of  misleading term. Pork never actually gets anything other than pasty white, so remember to sauce!) 

Once done, remove, set aside. In warm skillet mix 1/2 cup cranberry sauce, 2 tablespoon BBQ sauce of choice, 1 tablespoon water, 2 cloves garlic (or whatever you have left in the fridge!) and 1 teaspoon Five Spice Powder. 

Now, I don't keep that in the house, never actually heard of it. So I did a little recipe. It is so named because it is made of 5 spices that touch each of the tastes on the pallet. So I mix about 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, cumin, salt, ginger, and mustard. It works pretty well. 

Mix well, allow to boil, then add pork. Reduce heat, simmer at least 2 minutes until thick. Then, serve, or reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to simmer for up to 30 minutes. 

The cranberry flavor isn't overly strong, but the sauce it creates is full and sweet. We had it last night with steamed potatoes and apple slices...and all in all, it was about the perfect meal. And it's even better if you're listening to Kennedy's Kitchen while you make it (which you can read all about right over here). 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

'Cause sometimes it needs sayin....


"...I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s. I don't think it is something any white woman on the other end of a black woman's paycheck could ever truly understand. But trying to understand is vital to our humanity. In The Help there is one line that I truly prize:
      'Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I thought.'"
From "Too Little Too Soon" - Kathryn Stockett's autobiographical insert to The Help.

I almost didn't write this post. I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying, which comes I suppose of not really knowing what I'm thinking. But I just read The Help for the second time, and watched the movie again. And there are all of these thoughts and questions spinning through my head. Thoughts that somehow seem important. So as I sort them out here, feel free to join my inner dialogue. I'd love to know I'm not the only one pondering things!

I'm assuming most everyone knows a little something about The Help (if not, click the link). This story has such a transcendental quality to it. It's set in a very real time and place, with real people struggles. Struggles I can't even imagine...though I know my Granny was raised by a maid, at least for a few years. (Which seems so odd to me.) But, this story is about lines that separate. Lines and rules that dictate how people can think, how they can act, who they can be. And that story arch is broad enough to encompass anyone who has ever been discriminated against, for any reason.

Somewhere along the way (I'm guessing Babel?), humanity felt the need to categorize itself into levels of humanity. Whether economics or religion is the catalyst, we've found ways to justify predetermining other people's lives. It happens across races, genders, orientations, languages, and religions. It happens in the work place, at home, in church, on the street. Some variable - some uniqueness that God installed as another facet of His glory - becomes the defining characteristic on which a hatred is grown. Grown and taught, and passed down for no other reason than it allows one human to feel more humanish, more deserving of rights and blessings, than another. And where logic might step in to point out the obvious (like if someone cooks every meal I eat, maybe their use of my bathroom facilities will in no way pose a greater danger to my health), carefully leveled lies are inserted to keep the balance of hate vs. freedom in tact.

And in the face of that insanity, it's the bravery of these women that astounds me - to speak up and say how things are. They didn't write a philosophy, or a thesis. They told their stories. Shared their life. Hoping and praying that their audience would be smart enough to see the injustice for what it was. And they did this in a time where speaking out was the most dangerous thing you could do.

I grew up in a strong, albeit, slightly transplanted, southern family. We do silence real well. We can bend our backs and press on like ugly on a possum, get through anything, but we ain't gonna say much about it. Even now, when I'm most upset, I have trouble putting words around my feelings, and saying anything out loud is physically painful. And to me, this voice is the most important part of this story. These women found a voice, while the world tried to convince them they were mute.

They found a voice, and they spoke the truth.

I might not ever have the chance to be part of as big a cause as the Civil Rights Movement. But I have a voice. And I can speak the truth.

And who knows, in fifty years, someone might be grateful for the words I chose to speak.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Okay, so most of you know I've been on a "clean up the Morales diet" kick recently. I'm actually eating spirulina. I ordered from a co-op. And last week I made "from scratch" cake mixes by mixing all the dry ingredients together and sealing them up in zip lock bags to be used later (sans preservatives and such that are in the store bought variety. Because let's face it, Carly is going to eat cake. The only question is whether or not she can pronounce all of the ingredients in said cake or not.)

And after about two months of trial and error, I have come to some conclusions. Some healthy substitutions are totally worth the extra time or money. Some, are not? Are going to take more time to acclimate to? Hmm...

Some things are really fantastic and I can't believe I've gone on this long in life without them. Such as coconut products. I mean the health benefits are amazing. And coconut oil bakes up much lighter and fluffier without that sickly-nothing-natural-is-this-color of Crisco. Also washes off of measuring cups easier. Doesn't make your hands feel greasy for two hours if you happen to get a smidge on them. I'm sold. Also, coconut milk is dairy free - which means hello cereal again! (You never knew you missed something....) and it can also be added to smoothies because the juice won't curdle it. I also have coconut milk half and half but I'm not sure about it yet. Only used it once, on a bad cup of coffee, so its hard to tell for sure.

Chia seeds. Yes. Little protein-fiber buses!! And they completely dissolve in any liquid. All that nutrition in my smoothie? Or my cookies? Um, yes.

Now where I fall short here is whole wheat flour. If you're making biscuits, or cake, or anything that is supposed to be dense, holy Moses, yes. Use whole wheat flour. Every part of your body, including your taste buds, will say thank you! (It's the nonbleached factor that is key here.) But last week, I made two batches of my Lemon Sunshine cookies (from that post back in February?) - one from a white cake mix, one from a whole wheat flour-cane sugar granules homemade cake mix. And honestly, the prepackaged variety made better cookies - they were light, and fluffy, and my small group guys ate all but four of the first batch. The second, well, they were more scone-ish - heavier. And healthier - so maybe a breakfast cookie?

They were good in their own right, but certainly not comparable. They were two different cookies. And when I want something sweet and light like a cloud, I'm gonna use a pre-bought cake mix. But I figure, every once in a while....a cookie or two ain't gonna hurt too much. Besides, I did use coconut oil in 'em. :) I'll just have to make a batch and take it to work so as not to eat them all myself!

But this trial and error is a good thing I think. I want to do right by this temple - taking good care of the body God has blessed me with. But as long as I'm feeding good, clean things into most of the time, it's well equipped to deal with a little of the not-so-good stuff.

What about you? Any healthy trends you love or aren't sold out for yet?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

DBD Bridal: the Old Hollywood Collection

There's been an idea creeping in the back of my mind for some time now. This spring, that idea slowly became a reality. And then some wonderful people (Cyd and Paul) helped to finalize the details of that reality.

So today, I'm stoked to share the final product with you!!

My jewelry company, DaiseyBelle Designs is announcing the first of hopefully many bridal lines, the Old Hollywood Collection.
The Ava Gardner
The Elizabeth Taylor. 

The Audrey Hepburn

These are just a few samples of the collection. All eight pieces can be viewed here.  

The Old Hollywood Collection is a unique take on the traditional bridal look. I've incorporated several shades of white and cream colors, as well as soft pink, and bright red. I've seen more and more pops of color being worn by brides themselves this year - and what a great way to add a little self expression to a a very traditional look! The color diversity allows these pieces to serve well not only as jewelry for the bride, but also for attendants and family members, too! The styles are elegant, but a little edgy, for the bride who wants a slightly funkier look. 

I'm so excited to announce this new line! What better way to remember your wedding day, than with a pair of earrings that you can wear again and again?