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I recently had a chance to go Downtown Chicago for a work related presentation. My coworker decided to take me out to lunch at one of the cafes at Nordstrom Mall. She recommended the “Lime and Cilantro Chicken Salad” and since Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs, I readily accepted. I have to say that it was a great choice. It had a great mix of flavors and textures that made it an all-together good salad. In my opinion, it is the best salad I’ve ever tried. I came home and googgled a recipe for it but found no matches for the ingredients that I had tasted except for one that gave me some clues for the vinaigrette. Therefore I decided to create my own vegetarian version of it and let me tell you that it immediately became our favorite salad recipe (if you are not a vegetarian you can use part of the vinaigrette to marinate your chicken). We alter the ingredients every time we make it for variety. Alan loves it and he always comments, “this is a wonderful salad” after he quickly and swiftly eats it. Too much talking, lets get to the recipe right? Here it is:

Lime and Cilantro Fiesta Salad

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 c lime or lemon juice

1/4 c maple syrup

1 Tbs balsamic or white vinegar

2 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1tsp garlic salt

3 Tbs cilantro

Salad

5 cups of your choice of greens

1 carrot, chopped

1 tomato, diced

2 Tbs walnuts (gives you a good crunch)

4 Tbs pasta noodles, cooked or mushrooms (coke in olive oil and thinly cut garlic) for texture & substance

1/2 small can of red kidney beans (protein)

Mix together and serve

Good and Easy Salads

In my attempt to becoming a vegetarian I have come up with a couple of easy, tasty salads. A delicious pasta dish that Ruth Brucato kindly shared with us during Easter inspired one of them.

Easy Toss Salad

Mix together:

 tomatoes

 lettuce

 walnuts

  feta cheese 

 sprinkle with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (the vinegar gives the tomatoes a great taste and the crunchy walnuts give it a great texture combination)

Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1lb pasta

2 tomatoes

 a clove of garlic

 2 TBS Asiago or parmesan cheese

3 TBS pesto sauce

 a medium size zucchini

 salt and pepper to taste

heat up some olive oil and sauté some garlic , zucchini (a medium sized one thinly sliced) and 3 TBS of Pesto Sauce (I bought it at Trader Joes, it came in a jar). Stir in tomatoes (about 2 medium ones) and any other veggies you want to add. Stir in 1 lb cooked pasta (we used colorful cheese tortellini), salt and pepper to taste and you have just made one of the best pasta salads ever! Note: this is a fun dish to experiment with different amounts and ingredients, that’s why I wasn’t too firm on the amounts. It sure is tasty though.

Letting things go?

In regards to house cleaning, it is much easier to keep up than to build back up. What I mean it’s that even though it is very tempting (I fall on this all the time) to let things go until they really need cleaning/fixing it is actually better to do a litle each day. That way, instead of having to spend a number of hours bulding back up the clean/organize house that you’d planned to have, you can just spend a few minutes every day while enjoying the pleasure of a clean/organized house daily.

Healthy Life Style

I firmly believe that a healthy life style is crucial for everybody, not just the ones that have been labeled “healthy people”. Some of us, like myself, sit at a desk all day while surrounded by candy and unhealthy snacks that lay around everywhere. In addition to this, if you work in an environment like mine where stress is your number one co-worker, you are more than likely tempted to relieve your stress by overeating. And what do you eat? either microwave dinners, fast foods or candy among others for sustenance. You hardly give your body a chance to release the toxins that it has accumulated all day and you expect it to work 100 %. Then what happens? You gain weight; feel tight all the time because you haven’t taken advantage of the stress relieving power of exercise and you become a lazy lump at home. Well, I can see that this can easily become me. I like the quick “chocolate fix” on a stressful day. I come home from work with no energy to go out to the Gym and unhealthy meals are much easier to prepare. However, I have realized that failing in an area such as this will influence other crucial areas of my life as well, such as relationships, spiritual and mental health.

Therefore, I have decided to board the “healthy” trip but I need a lot of advice and accountability. If any of you have any ideas, useful tips and/or research that you are willing to share with me and the readers of this blog, I would appreciate it. I will share what I learn along the way. By the way, as I was looking for some ideas on how to loose the famous “love handles” I came across a very good site that gave me very useful information by Stew Smith (from the military).

He shared a meal plan that was put together by a nutritionist. You can check it out at http://www.stewsmith.com/foodplan.doc

Date Night

Wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, go to work, come home, do homework, work in the computer, etc. go to bed. Ringgggggg wake up, eat breakfast, etc. Sooner, rather than later we get into a daily routine. Unfortunately many of our daily routines don’t coincide with our husband’s. If we let our independent daily tasks  (including recreation) take up so much of our time that we don’t spend quality time with our spouses we could welcome the beginnings of an unhealthy marriage in which living together means more like living alone yet “together”. We’d become more like roommates than anything. One of the things that we, and other couples do is to set a time when you and your spouse commit to spend quality time with each other on a regular basis. Fridays are normally our date nights. We have kept this “tradition” since we were engaged and I can testify that it’s been a great unifying factor for our marriage. In addition of this we have found it helpful to plan our lunches so that we can eat together or/and we might drink tea together, sitting on the couch at the end of the day. Whether you go out or stay at home make it a point to dedicate that time for each other for the purpose of nurturing your relationship, believe me, it is worth it.

Just for fun

bMy favourite clips:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXtvGsYS0UM (viva Colombia)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if1wVeaZvUw   (vivo por ella)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x20v9F-sWHQ (a funny video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg6Ucj5d4HQ (a beautiful sad song about Cuba)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEOk4FJoApM (The best Colombian comedian, in my opinion, making fun of different aspects of our culture like dancing)

Marriage

“Cast your cares before me and I will sustain you” (Isaiah 55:22, paraphrased)

I am one that would rather learn from others instead of jumping into something that’s new to me, yet my entrance into marriage was like a huge jump into a big river. I new that others had jumped before me and that some were jumping by me, yet I felt alone. I felt that even though people had talked to me about the 1st year of marriage being hard, no one told me how to actively work at it so that it’s easier and better. However, I’m not blaming anyone, I think the main reason why I didn’t received such advise is one, because I didn’t aggressively looked for it and secondly, because the wives that surrounded me had either been married for many years or they were just married, like I was.

I have now been married 2 1/2 and I feel like being a wife gets easier and better every day. I decided to write the contents of this blog now rather than later in life because the challenges of being newly married are still fresh in my memory. I don’t intend to appear as a “know it all” I only hope that the little that I know will help someone.

Your first love
One of the deepest longings of the Christian is to behold their Lord face to face. To experience God in an intimate way, to listen to his voice and behold his glory. When you get married, you are constantly tempted to try to satisfy your longing for God with your husband. He is someone who responds to you in an audible voice when you call, you can hide under his embrace and feel his warmth. The union that will happen between you and him is one of the most beautiful. He will become your closest friend for the rest of your life. He will be your leader, friend and lover.
However, you need to remember that he is not God. I want to advice you to love your husband and enjoy the gift that God is giving you. But, Don’t let the temporary pleasure that your husband will give you eclipse the hopeful expectation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will meet his bride on that beautiful day. The perfect spotless Lamb deserves all of our hearts and our love.

May the words of Augustine be our prayer to God:
“O God of hosts, turn us around and show us your face, and we shall be saved (Ps 80.7 [Ps. 79.8]). For in whichever direction the soul of man turns, unless it turns to you, it is transfixed on things that cause pain-even if it is fixed on things that are beautiful but outside you and outside itself.”

I saw a dear old lady today; her husband has recently passed away. He died after a long fight with Cancer. I sensed a deep sense of peace that surrounded her, yet she seemed sad and lonely. She was happy that her dear husband didn’t suffer pain anymore, yet she missed him terribly. An overwhelmingly sad feeling came over me. This might be me one day, I thought, she might have felt my sadness for she said. “When you go home my dear, give your Alan a big hug” and so I did. Yet Mrs. Smith reminded me that I can’t center my life around my husband for he isn’t immortal, nor am I on this side of heaven. It is very probable that either he or I will have to live without the other before we go to be with the Lord. Only our Abba Father is Eternal, He is who he is and He will who he is forever and ever. We’ll never regret giving him our all

Fit for Him

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; nI will make him a helper fit for2 him.”
But for Adam
4 there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So
the Lord God caused a
qdeep sleep to fall upon the man, and while heslept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib
that the Lord God had taken from the man he made5 into a woman and brought her to the
man. (Gen 2:18-22)

God perfectly designed you both physically and spiritually to be a helpmate to your husband. I recently attended a wedding out in Galena, IL. One of our pastors from College Church, Jay Thomas gave a small wedding sermon that I believe was used by the Holy Spirit in teaching, challenging and helping strenghten many marriages. I will include some of his quotes at defferent sections of this blog. Here is what he said about this crucial text of Scripture that caught my attention:

God does not take another piece of earth, nor does he form his helper from
another outside source, but rather he takes something from within Adam, a
rib,
and fashions it into his wife, Eve. It is crucial to note that God did
not take
the two and form them into one. He took one and formed them into
two
– the parts
from the whole, the whole in the parts. Why? Because, God
created man in His
image, to reflect Himself to the world
. God designed into
marriage the great
reality of his own being: that He is one, and yet three.
His threeness does not
contradict his oneness, nor does his His oneness
contradict His threeness (emphasis added).


Expectations

“One of the worst things you can do, and which so many end up doing, is beginning this journey together defined by your expectations – the image you have for marriage” Jay Thomas

Minute after minute, hour after hour we dream of our prince. If we added up the total amount of time that we’d spend daydreaming about our future husbands before we met them we’d be astonished. We dream about physical features like light or dark complexity, tall or short, etc. We dream about their personality as well. Loving, romantic, compassionate, caring, etc. We dream about their spirituality, a pastor or missionary might be ideal. I mean those are the ultra spiritual ones right? We imagine using their full handyman power by fixing up things around the house, building shelves, etc. Without realizing it we create an imaginary man that does not exist. This task that I am talking about starts fairly early. Watching all those Disney classics was so much fun wasn’t it? However, they get our imagination rolling and rolling.

At last we meet the one that we will marry. Many of us automatically assume that he is the true incarnation of the man of our dreams. But when do we realize that he isn’t? I believe that it is possible for us to go through the dating and even the engagement period without being struck by the shock of reality. Then, after your wedding day, your pretty picture starts deforming and changing. He is not the man you dreamed about. On the contrary, he is very different from him. He may actually have some other great qualities that you didn’t think about. But, in addition to that, he possesses the selfish, sinful nature that plagues us all. Finally, at some point, you realize that you have to make a conscious decision as to whether you are going to choose to love your real or imaginary husband. The sooner you start to love your real husband, with his strengths and failures, the better your marriage will be.

Men are Men
Tear stained eyes and at agony of heart, I stared at my husband. I desperately wanted him to empathize with we, to emotionally respond to my frustration. Instead he stood looking and me with a puzzled face. I could tell he was analyzing the situation and was fabricating a “good” solution to my problem. That frustrated me even more, by this time I was sobbing. All I wanted was a hug, or perhaps softly spoken words like “that must be hard”. Finally, I asked why he had reacted in such a cold way. I wanted more sensitivity. He simply answered, “I’m sorry honey but I am not your mom”. Suddenly I realized a terrible reality. I had been expecting him to act as a woman. He had done nothing wrong. He was just being himself, a man. The man I chose to marry, the man I loved desperately. Suddenly, I remembered how frustrating and emotionally draining it had been to live in a house with only two women and I was content. I lived alone with my mom for about 17 yrs. She is a great mom and very dear to me. However, God’s ways are always best and I am assured that man and women complement each others in ways beyond our understanding. On that occasion, I discovered one of them.

A Homemaker
“A good wife should be the mistress of her home, having under her care all that is within it” Aristotle
“The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.” (Prov 14:1)

One of the most rewarding privileges of becoming a wife is being a homemaker. As a homemaker, you have an enormous amount of influence over your family’s physical and spiritual well-being. However, “with great power comes great responsibility” . The task of homemaking first produces great excitement for the new wife. However, it soon can become an overwhelming task that seems hard to bear with the demands of school, work outside of the home, church commitments, etc. Please remember that “superwoman” does not exist, “God-fearing” women do.

The second half of Proverbs 31 presents a great model for young and old, single and married women to follow. However, you need to remember that this passage belongs to the wisdom literature section of the Bible. A proverb is not a legalistic rule for living, however, it does offer great insight and direction for those who want to be wise and live a righteous life. One of my wise mentors once told me that she is almost certain that the woman described in this passage “must be an older woman”. She wasn’t born perfect and she probably didn’t start her married life as “super wife”. She was wise enough to learn from her failures and God-fearing enough to seek excellence as a wife. You can get there one day, just be patient. Learn from the successes and failures of yourself others.

Most importantly, remember that God hasn’t left you alone on this task. He is with you always; he will help you, trust him. Furthermore, remember the power of prayer. There is nothing to mundane to be brought before our Father. You can pray for your meal to turn out tasteful and healthy; for direction on how to organize your time wisely, etc.

Practical tips:
Spiritual

Start or/and end your day acknowledging the presence of the Lord. Whether you spend a short or a long time in the presence of the Lord, either through prayer or Bible study, start with him first. This will start you out on the right tract for the day.

· Whatever happens whether good or bad, run to God first before you go to your husband. Our dear Lord is the only one who truly knows us. He is the only one who can truly comfort you when you are sad, give you courage when you are fearful, peace when distressed, joy when sad and hope, when you feel hopeless.

Grocery Shopping:

· When you go shopping, try to start with the cheapest grocery store in town (I personally like Aldi and Trader Joes).

  • Buy enough to last you for about a month. This will save you from having to go to the grocery store all the time. In addition to this, I would recommend having a grocery list accessible to every member of your household. This list is to be updated on a daily basis. As things start running out start writing them down for your next shopping day.· If you and you spouse are not vegetarian, try enough meats to last you awhile. I get a couple of bags of frozen chicken breasts and a big tube of hamburger beef. I generally cook big amounts of meat at once. After they are cool, I freeze them in individual freezer bags.· It’s a good idea to buy some canned goods like creams of tomatoes, chicken, celery and mushroom soup.· Any good diet includes lots of vegetables. I found that buying frozen peas, corn, broccoli and a bag of mix veggies is the best idea for a busy schedule.· Tomatoes, lettuce (if you are planning on using it soon), celery, peppers and onions are always good to have in your fridge.

    · Chicken and beef broth are also important to have

    · Try to always have healthy snacks around the house to munch on when you or your hubby get hungry. I like to make homemade granola bars. They are a wonderful quick breakfast and a great snack. Fruits are also important to have handy.

    Cleaning

    · A clean bathroom and a clean kitchen is a must. Even though the rest of the house needs to be maintained as well, bathrooms and kitchens are the centers of germ and bacteria concentration. Sanitizing and disinfecting both rooms in essential for your family’s good health.

    Healthy Cleaning Solutions

    Bathroom cleaner:
    This is specially good for the tub and the title of your bathroom. However I use it for the whole bathroom, except for the mirrors.
    Mix
    1 cup of baking soda
    1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid
    1/2 cup of water
    2 TBS white vinegar
    apply, scrub and rinse

    Kitchen Solutions
    Refrigerator cleaner
    2 TBS baking soda
    1 quart of hot water

    Cabinet and drawer fronts
    1/ 2 cup of vinegar
    1/4 cup liquid soap1 gallon of warm water

    Note: This information was taken from the book “Cleaning Plain and Simple” by Donna Smallin

    · “A place for everything and everything in its place” . Get into the habit of putting everything where it belongs right away. Otherwise, you will find yourself picking after each other every day.

    · I found that a mix of about ½ cup of vinegar and about 1TBS of baking powder in a gardener spray bottle filled with water is a great cleaner tool. Some of the store bought cleaners can be harmful to your health. Vinegar gives you a healthy alternative. It is same on nearly all surfaces (I’m not sure about some woods) and it smells great and clean.
    A Family Calendar
    Get one of those wall hanging calendars and post it in a place that is easy to see and reach (I have one in my kitchen). The idea is to have a calendar that everyone uses to share important dates/activities to remember to the rest of the family.

    A Few More Tips

    A Family Calendar
    Get one of those wall hanging calendars and post it in a place that is easy to see and reach (I have one in my kitchen). The idea is to have a calendar that everyone uses to share important dates/activities to remember to the rest of the family.

    File Organizer
    I recently bought a file holder that sits on top of my desk with folders labeled with the different categories of documents that we regularly get. It has been great to have all those files handy. it makes it easy to alleviate your desks area from accumulating all kinds of paper piles.

    Grocery List
    This is similar of the idea of the calendar. Have a grocery list in the kitchen that your family updates when they notice that things are running low.

    Birth Control
    The issue of birth control is a very controversial issue, therefore, I will attempt to simply advice you from my personal point of view without claiming to have the best solution to the dilemma. My philosophy on birth control as it is in many other areas is the more natural the better. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of women stopping the use of hormone based birth control methods because of the emotional side effects that they suffered such as irritability, depression and anxiety. If you do choose the more natural way, I would like to recommend that you read the book “Taking charge of your fertility” by Toni Weschler, you can check her website at http://www.ovusoft.com If you are disciplined enough to follow the method it can be as effective as taking the pill and much better for your well being. I have greatly benefited from this method of birth control. I have gained a lot of important knowledge about myself by charting the different changes in my body.

    Finally, continue to be involved in the church and in the lives of those that surround you. It can be very beneficial for you to be in touch with an older woman that would be willing to mentor you. Ask questions, listen to advice, and be thankful for every gift that you have received, including your husband.

Need some recipes?

Check out my favorite recipes at www.recetasdemeli.blogspot.com

Please let me know if this information was of any help to you