Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Not for Them

I am blessed to have a kind and caring boss. We have clicked since my days as an Intern.
I feel privileged to work with her. She values my opinion and I can go to her with just about anything. All of those things matter and I am grateful.

I am doubly blessed to work with two beyond amazing behavior specialists. They are literally an answer to my (and others) pleadings and prayers. After times of feeling overworked and ignored (not on purpose..just out of being too busy), I appreciate the kindness, hilarity, and thoughtfulness of these new friends. It does my heart good to work with them.

In spite of all of these things and people, I cannot make this decision to stay or leave just based on them.
There is a cloud of things that are weighing down on this choice. And I really want to get to a place where I truly mean it when I say, "God's will be done." I am getting there. But it is slow going. And that is OK. There are lessons to learn along the way.

The main thing I fear is disappointment. But I still have hope, though it has been tested. It's not really a hope based in reality, but it is full of genuine Sabrina enthusiasm!

I'm dedicated to an enjoyable life. I am special and blessed and growing in God in amazing ways.
There is peace in knowing that he will provide everything, he already has. He cares more than I can imagine. And I can trust him to lead me, and I can trust myself to give up this tight grip on my plan, my feelings, and my organization.

Praise God above for his loving kindness and loving faithfulness. Amen

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice!

                                                                       (found here)

I should be asleep. But I had to share the exhilarating news that my favorite book of all time, is 200 years old on tomorrow! Happy, Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice!

Thank You USA Today for this piece on a classic piece of literature.

Really, I have loved Pride and Prejudice since I was in 6th grade. And no matter how many times I read it, I come away satisfied and oddly comforted.

If I ever have a daughter, I could see myself naming her Elizabeth. Yeah, I love the story and characters that much!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I am a grown up now. I know that there are others who are more grown than me, but I am definitely not a child anymore. One way that I know this is the life lessons I am learning that were just not a part of my life when I was younger.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought as a child. All problems could be solved. Behind closed doors people were the same as out in public. Addiction was not even in my vocabulary. Neither was another word that I feel like society tries to cover up, and hush up because it is so very private and such a very hard and delicate situation. And that is a woman having a miscarriage.

Now, I am not, nor have ever, been pregnant, but I have plenty of friends who are and have been. This blogging land has opened my eyes more to the life stories of others. Healthy babies happen a lot. But sick babies get born too. Mothers are on bed rest for MONTHS. Women lose babies through miscarriages more than we would like to think.

Actually, let me rephrase that in the name of honesty. Women lose babies through miscarriages more than I ever thought about before in my life. It is a silent, desperate struggle and it is one of the earthly things I find myself praying about often. Because I just don't understand. And I don't think I ever will.

You see, as part of the Southern churched, family and babies are as ingrained as the air I breathe. Yet, I wonder how much damage we actually do when we question married couples about their lack of children. I am imagining that we actually do a LOT of harm with our wondering, questions, and assumptions.

My heart is heavy with compassion for those married couples who wish and want to have children. Children to love and cherish. Children to help grow into responsible and loving adults. Children to teach the love, mercy and grace that is a part of a relationship with Christ. And I don't even for the life of me understand why some have given birth again and again, and some have never had this blessing. Counselors, social workers, and others work with families and sometimes they don't even treat their children like the precious blessings that they are. Every educator can name students that they wish they could just take home with them. My friend, as a part of her job had to supervise visitation between teenage parents and a new born baby. New born baby! My heart cried out for the hundreds of people who would give anything for that baby, and the teenage parents who have already been deemed unfit and unsafe to even spend time alone with their child.

There is a hush that surrounds this painful subject. It is a deep and heavy and personal and medical issue.
There is a hush because there are no words sometimes, when the tears are falling heavily.
There is a hush because those words of disappointment, confusion, pain, and pure sadness just can't be verbalized.

My prayers are lifted for those I love who have this hardship in their lives. Instead of trite words to wrap this up, I will continue in fervent prayer and have hope for this hardship to be lifted and the pain to be healed.
God please provide comfort, and gather us close to you, when we are feeling so far away and alone.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Almost Friday Tunes- Pink

I love this song! I am applying it to my up and down relationship with my job. I'm trying to believe that there are much better things ahead. Or at least more strength to keep on trying. It's almost the weekend:)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Inside Work

                                                                     (from here)

I am trying to think back to when I first realized that there was so much inside work (my heart, my mind and my spirit) to be done in the life of Sabrina. I can't pinpoint the time, but it had to be somewhere around the time I started graduate school.

Fast forward three years and here I am, slowly and many times painfully becoming a better person. What does this process involve for me? A mixture of things actually.

First there is the admission, that there are weak and vulnerable places within me. So, I began to explore my knee-jerk reactions. And the things that brought out my anger, and frustration. It was not too hard, because no one knows you like you know yourself.

Then I had to have the highly emotional moment(s). This was the time of tears and ranting and anger. Not pretty but necessary. It was the time when I finally opened the release valve and let my thoughts just rush out. And there was a lot in that valve, and so the questions, accusations, and situations poured forth. It was a mess and a jumble.

After that is the critical period. Because I had to decide, did I really want to change. Did I want to deal with things or push them aside. But even deeper than that, did I want a better life. A more meaningful experience. I had to help myself so that I could help others.

This inside work is a daily renewal. It is humbling past anything I have known. I have no real answers. All I have is passion and effort and faith in God's will. And that is enough. Because just enough is better than abundance weighing you down.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January- Stacey

In the back of my mind I had this idea to combine my love of cooking with my love of friends.
So, this year I want to diligently try and host one friend each month. I want to cook for them and eat with them because these things mean so much to me. And they deepen friendships. I just want to have fun and food with my fabulous friends:)

In January I hosted Stacey for the MLK Jr. weekend. It was just plain old nice to have my friend stay with me. On Sunday, I cooked dinner for her.
Stove top stuffing
sauteed squash and onions
and onion/pepper hamburger steaks

The food was yummy. My first time with a recipe that my mama gave me. I am proud of my meal.
I am completely satisfied with my friendship and the wise conversations that we got to to share about the growing pains of life.

*It would be stretching myself to cook a different menu for each friend, each month. We shall see about that!*

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How I discovered fondant...but didn't patent it, A Baking Tale!

I am not usually one for the long and wordy titles to a blog post. But, well sometimes, the event just calls for it.

I was thinking about my true enjoyment of cooking and baking and eating delicious and decadent food.
And it drew me to the fact that this blog was named to represent 4 aspects; 4 areas that are repeated again and again my life, a.k.a 4 things that bring me vast enjoyment.

So, I want to spend more time writing about cooking. I would say that most of my posts are about learning and teaching. Some about reading, but not many about cooking. I want to remedy that.

Flash back to my 13th birthday. It was the night before my birthday party. A fun gathering of family, church friends and school friends. While I don't remember much about the actual celebration, this I do remember....I created fondant on that night! If you are a baker, then you know what fondant is (sheets of moldable icing). It's used often to make cakes have that crisp and sharp look that is so hard to achieve with regular frosting. Many of the oh so popular sculpted cakes, are covered in fondant. So, you are probably wondering how in the world could I claim I invented it. I'll share my story.

One of the things I wanted for my 13th birthday was to bake my own cake. My savings minded mama was thrilled. I planned out my design, thought about my flavors, and purchased all the supplies I would need. This cake was going to be phenomenal! The night before my party I was in absolute chill mode as I measured, mixed, and created the from-scratch cake that I knew would astound  my family and friends. Of course I also swiped a few tastes of cake batter for quality control.

As the cake baked, I got ready for step two. Create my own icing and then color it. I was aiming for white icing and then a rainbow, and some type of Happy Birthday Sabrina logo. So, again I start mixing and reading directions and measuring. Then I keep mixing and mixing, because my should be beautiful icing is stiff. And I am getting an arm workout with the spoon. It never occurred to me that the icing was ruined, it was just different. I scooped it into various bowls and added food coloring. Bam! I had what looked like play-doh. There was NO way this solid stuff was going into my beautiful pastry bags, to be piped into a rainbow.

Like I have mentioned before, I am not perfect in the kitchen, but I am smart. I had to quickly re-evaluate my design plan. What could I do to save my cake? I remember my grandma was in town and she was giving me a look like, "Brina, what ARE you doing?" My mama, daddy, and Melanie had steered clear, probably afraid my volatile teenage temper would land on them. I started thinking and then got this beauty of an idea. I took the "solid frosting aka fondant" and started rolling it into different sized balls. Soon I had a cake decorated with snowmen. Bright, rainbow colored snowmen! Snowmen to decorate a cake for an April birthday! I laugh now as I think back on it:) It looked like a disaster, but I proudly called the whole family in and showed them my work. They were kind to my face....I'll never know what they were thinking.

I served my cake the next day and it was delicious! A tad dry, but the love that went into making it, overcame any and all flaws in my estimation.

And there you have it. If I had just rolled out that "solid frosting" into flat sheets....I could have started the fondant craze;) Instead I shifted from cake making for a little while. And on my next birthday, and every birthday since then....we just decided it might be best, to go ahead and order a cake:)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Almost Friday Tunes-Muppets

I KNOW there is no way I should be posting a Christmas song in January. But, the lyrics just hit me randomly, so I figured I would share this tune from a Christmas classic.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The work of my Hands

I want to try and describe the pleasure I get from working with my hands in the kitchen. Chopping, mixing, washing (Oooops, that's not true) all these things and more. They in turn relax and inspire me.

It starts when my mind lights up as I come across a new recipe  I have this gut feeling for what will taste good. I like rich flavors and traditional seasonings and pairings. I am not adventurous per say, but I will throw a little bit of this and that into most of my dishes. I am a pronounced picky eater, so I like plain food that is cooked well and not drenched in too many sauces.

Sometimes, it begins in the home of family or a friend as I mentally deconstruct the meal that I am eating. Asking for recipes is like my way of complimenting the cook!

But, it's in the kitchen where my magic happens. I love a well organized kitchen, because I don't want any extra stress fumbling around for the things I need. In my day to day cooking I am not an apron wearer, I save them for special occasions, and I have some great aprons thanks to my wonderful friends.

There is something for me in the creation of good food. Well seasoned and delicious. Who has time to eat a mediocre meal. I am truthful in the fact that I usually blend ready made items with homemade items, after all I am a working girl. I don't have all day to throw down in the kitchen.

For some reason, making my meals connects me deeply with my mama who has been making mouth-watering meals for years now. It's my homage to her and all of the soulful cooks in my family.

Here are some of the things I have made with my hands that have gotten rave reviews. Really, not even being modest.
Treats- Rolo Pretzal Bites (Super Bowl party anyone)
Breakfast- Blissful Biscuits from Paula Deen
Winter Soup- Chicken Taco Soup (an easy crockpot favorite)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bringing Peace with me

I am thinking that the best thing that I could have done for me, is focusing on peace for this year.
Our society, my age group, they do not value peace, and I was no different. Rip running all over was as easy as breathing to me. But, when I focused on it, and really looked, I realized that the best me was not the busy me. She was doing fine, but she was not reaching her full potential, living one planned to the hilt exhausting day after another. So, I am prayerfully pumping the brakes for a year. In hopes that the dividends will be long-lasting.

With 11 days under my belt here is what I have learned. Though I want to change things to have more peace in the environments in which I live work and play. I have learned that it is far better for me to cultivate peace within, that can then change how I see and approach my different environments.

Focusing on peace, not having panicked reactions, leaving my troubles and cares that are way too heavy with my Lord. There is peace in these things. Not thinking about months ahead, not worrying things to death trying to figure out minuscule details, not blaming myself for things that are really beyond me. That is where I am finding peace.

The peace that I take with me changes how I see things. I perceive people as doing their best instead of trying to bother me. I feel like I can handle what is involved with one day. Instead of dreading what I figured would happen in weeks to come. I value my efforts so much more! I am listening to what I am saying to others. It really is your effort that counts! I am letting the perfection train leave the station without me. Getting more comfortable in my own skin....and it's even a grander blessing than I imagined.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friday Tunes-Mayer

The clock is about to chime in a new day! The last day of a good week at work (blessing!)
So, let's celebrate with one of my favorite songs. I heard it once and was hooked!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kitchen Personality- Paula Deen & The Positivity of Pancakes

                                                                           (from here)

I am sitting here dying laughing over this Paula Deen Christmas Carol. Yeah, I just got home, so I am catching up on ALL the holiday things I taped on my DVR. Extending my Christmas, if you will. My tree is still up too! (I think next weekend I will get everything packed away).

Anyway, back to the idea that got me writing late on a Saturday night. And posting two posts in one day!
I decided that I want my kitchen personality to be like Paula Deen. And that is because in so many ways it reminds me of my mama and grandma. Southern, all over the place, fun, and delicious. Paula Deen looks like she could throw down a pretty raucous party in her kitchen. And I could so join in the craziness.

She does not always measure evenly. There are spills and splatters. And there are stories. I love the stories. They are as appealing to my mind as the food is to my stomach. And I love that at 27 I have stories to tell about some of my own favorite meals. For example, the first real meal young Sabrina would cook was blueberry pancakes. On some Saturday mornings I would wake up and ask if I could cook breakfast for everyone. My mama would make the bacon or sausage. I don't know what Melanie and my daddy were doing:) And I would be on pancake duty. It was simple, but those times were the basis for this love of cooking that I have today.

One box of Jiffy Mix blueberry muffin mix, eggs, milk, and oil. Bam! Mix em all up and you have some mighty tasty pancakes. Of course, a true food connoisseur would say "Bah" to my pancakes because they did not include "real" blueberries. But, I was probably 10 years old, and you could not have told me that those pancakes were not the most delicious thing you had ever tasted! I would get one plate and put dabs of butter on the plate. Then slip piping hot pancakes on the butter. Then put butter on the top of those pancakes and build my stack. I was just so proud to call the family to breakfast and enjoy the work of my hands. And thinking back, those memories are precious to me. I gained all my cooking confidence making pancakes. They were not always pretty, but my family praised them. And I can't guarantee that I never sneaked the burned ones on my own plate every once in a while. Or flipped them carefully so the more toasty side was face down! I was not a perfect cook, but I was smart and resourceful.

I am far more bold and excitable in the kitchen than in other areas of my life. I learned from my mama that if you pay can't ever really ruin a meal. It might turn out different than planned, but not ruined. I learned from my grandma that you don't need fancy gadgets. Sometimes good old fashioned effort and elbow grease produce the best food. I see in Paula Deen's kitchen that the quality of her memories drives the depth of flavor in her food. And I see in my kitchen that laughter and cooperation make cooking, one of the most enjoyable things that I can do.

Positive Growth- Last Reflection

2013 has arrived. I look forward to what this year can bring. The idea of things being new is quite appealing!

I wanted to wrap up my thoughts on my 2012 goal of Positive Growth. I wrote some things here and here.

At the start of last year, I was so unsure about my future. So many things were undecided, sigh, so many things still are. But, I knew that I wanted to hold myself accountable for something. I didn't want to let the months go by and end up after another year, not being fully aware of how the inner Sabrina was doing. I can't say that every single day I spent time working on growth. But, it was something that I came back to again and again.

I gave myself flexibility, knowing that to box myself in would render no dividends. I started out just trying to be more aware of myself. My thoughts, feelings, reactions, emotions, etc. I also tried to reflect more after the not so good moments. And that was new for me. I for sure experienced positive growth as I tried to dig a little deeper after I had spoken harshly, or judged unfairly, or had covetous thoughts.

I think over last year I was able to see and know that I still need help. That this heart can be kind and funny and light, but it can also be diligent in wanting its own way. I saw that I fall for the illusion far too often. But the refreshing growth took place in spite of myself. Situations came and went and I passed and failed, yet stayed the course. Knowing that there is no success in giving up, knowing that I had to learn to be gentle with myself. Not over praising my happiness and not stomping on my hardships. Trying to live day by day. That was a point of immense growth.

I guess I could summarize my growth this way. I have always liked to plan and know. Typically I filled things out in pen and I filled them in my planner way in advance  BUT, last year after some struggles, I learned to pick up my long forgotten pencil and use that instead. Through trials and just the ups and downs of life I learned to sit and look at ONE day...this day. And then to write things down in pencil, always, always keeping an eraser near. Because you see, after scratching out my plans in pen in frustration and fear and disappointment. I grew to accept another way. And it has been so very good for me.

Positive Growth is in all of us. I just focused on growing mine and not leaving it forgotten.
2013, I am ready for the daily journey (a little nervous because the bad/sad news just keeps rolling in). Because now I mean it when I say, that all I can do is my best. And that my best is definitely enough!  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Tunes- Mraz

Here you go. My first Friday Tune for 2013. It's my first favorite song of the New Year.
I already have the verses memorized....yeah, I like it that much.
I hope that you had a delightful Friday! If mine was a sign of things to come, then that would be good news.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In 2013

Last January I wrote this about what I thought might happen during 2012. And just for old times is what I wrote about at the end of 2010.  They are a list of predictions for what I thought might happen in a year. I enjoy this idea, so I figured I would do the same thing for 2013!  I like having a mix of broad and specific things. For I find delight in looking back over times that have passed.


*Friends and family I know will have babies (including some very special twins!), and begin new relationships, and get engaged, and maybe get married,and some might beak-up
* Staying fit and fabulous;) and all the lifestyle changes that encompasses

* Do all that I can to research possible new job opportunities, and also accept the reality that I might not need to go just yet (Lord, help me find peace and contentment if that be the case)
*Daily living out my 2013 goal of Peace 
*One extra special wedding 
*People that I know and love will pass away or suffer through illness

* Being dedicated to saving more and paying back what I owe 
* A possible move, or a new roommate or maybe both 
*Assorted trips and travels and general good times with those I love (maybe my first cruise)
*Turning 28 and embracing a more gentle side of Sabrina (btw, I turn 28 on the 28th this year...a cause for a special celebration!)  

I'll end this up with the same words I have used for the past 2 years.
Now with all of that said I will say this.....2013 is a completely unknown entity. Sure, I know some things but they are so tiny compared to what I have no idea about. The key is to hold fast to God, have faith and grace, love my family and friends, and be the very best Sabrina Maude Stewart that I can be.....that should not be too hard ( I am kidding) it will probably take me 365 days to kind of get it right!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Did that really Happen?

Good Afternoon 2013. Greetings from a tired and confused Sabrina.

If you had told me that I would spend my New Years Eve in the ER, I would have scoffed.
If you had told me that this visit to Florida would be full of shared sorrow and surprises, I might not have believed you.
If you had told me that I would be one huge ball of confusion about this new year....well I might have believed THAT.

Anyway, this is a more somber New Year. I am hopeful for great things, but it is a little bit of a reach this year to have that abundant joy of "completely brand new possibilities" that usually comes so easily. But, I think the feeling will come back, if I don't rush it.

After spending the hours of 9pm to 5am in the ER, actually seeing the ball drop from the waiting room, as my injured daddy nursed his scraped and cut face. Well, I am left this day, wondering did that really happen? After the changes and different emotions of this past week, I was sure that we were in for a peaceful New Years surrounded by church family. Maybe, I need to stop being so "sure" of things;) Maybe that is just setting myself up for disappointment.

But, my daddy took a hard fall and ended up breaking his nose and needing stitches. Scary! I dislike seeing him hurting. However, God was faithful, and he was not hurt as badly as he could have been. I am here and able to assist in small ways as my mama plays nurse. And I have a calm mama and sister, who helped me stay peaceful when I could have easily frayed apart emotionally.

As I sat, on what was surely a germ-ridden chair, I thought I could cry in disappointment. REALLY! Is this REALLY how I am going to start a brand new, sparkling, hopeful 2013? But, there is no room for that kind of thinking. Better, to be thankful for life and health. Better to be happy that at least I was with my parents who I love. Better, to remember all of the people who love us. Better, to hope that things will get better and brighter as we travel along day by day into this New Year.

2013, I want so badly for you to be good to me. I am at a place of needing care and comfort and some gentleness. All I can do is wait and work diligently on finding peace within my heart/spirit. Here is to a brand new year, may I find excitement and abundant joy, and a refilling of hope beyond what I can imagine right now.