Monday, October 31, 2011

Expectation Stew

"May God give you heaven's dew and earth's richness--an abundance of grain and new wine." -Genesis 27:28

These are the words that conjure ideas of harvest, warmth, and blessing from the November issue of Woman's Day magazine. Heaven's dew and earth's richness--I think of a Thanksgiving puzzle; here is a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, grandma's hot apple pie, an embroidered table cloth.

These were not the sugar plum visions of Esau, the brother robbed of the blessing due to him by his deceiving brother Jacob. Jacob's "heaven's dew and earth's riches" turned bitter in his eldest brother's mouth. What an appropriate way to introduce us to Woman's Day feature article about women struggling with their own expectations and assumptions of others.

What have we to glean from the expectations we have--that others have--that are not fulfilled? We only have to look to Esau, in order to reap the harvest of life's lessons:

1. Esau allowed a temporary need to replace a long term blessing

"See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son."

Esau, upon returning home from hunting, sold his birth right to his brother. A birth right represented a double portion of physical inheritance from the father of the family. Esau, hungry and weary from hunting allowed his hunger to tempt him into surrendering a double inheritance.

What temporary needs are you allowing to rob you of your goals and expectations?

2. Esau's choices did not reflect good priorities

"When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah." 

The marriage of Esau to Canaanite women brought grief to his parents, especially his mother who favored his brother. In hindsight, Esau took a wife he believed would be a better choice. Certainly if he had consulted his father first, he would have respected and appreciated his father's love story. What could Esau have learned from a family history lesson?

How are you repeating your family history?

3. Esau found redemption and mercy in forgiveness.

"But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept." 

After his blessing was stolen and his birthright bartered, Esau's heart was full of murder and revenge towards his brother. Yet in the end we see, that Jacob's life full of blessing as the deceiver, arrived full circle (or caravan) as he received his brother's forgiveness. Esau inherited finally--not a birthright given naturally as he was first born, but herds and flocks from the brother he wished to kill--and that out of true contrition. 

And we also see that Jacob had reaped a harvest of his own deceptive seed--not only in a wife he had to work for but in a son he will believe dead from the hands of his own sons. 

Rachel loved Jacob and helped him deceive. Jacob loved Joseph and he was bitterly deceived by his own flesh and blood. 

What will the seeds you're sewing look like during harvest time? 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Home--What's Shabby is Chic Again

Eddie Ross is a pro in the field of thinking outside the box--especially when that box is in the form of an antique cedar chest or vintage, lovingly worn chiffonier. According to Woman's Day, thinking outside the box is only one of the shopping secrets that lends to Ross's success. A few tips sound like racy dating advice: know what you want, time your efforts, and...measure twice?

I have no talent for seeing art in something worn and dated. I wish I did. Local resident, Stephanie Humphries, however, personifies a true knack (or perhaps in this case "knick knack") for making the shabby into something chic--she even named her business after the art.

In Woman's Day October issue we preview three pieces transformed into 21st century elegance--an ottoman, an elevated lamp, and an old mirror. In visiting Stephanie's shop, I wondered if she hadn't given 'ol Eddie a run for his money.

A few of my favorite pieces reflected the make-over's in the article and the other treasures I found were only true inspiration for gifts or compliments to an already fashionable home. A few of the items I hadn't photographed included a lamp that had been painted in blackboard paint--perfect for a child's room--and a pair of cameo and coral silhouette portraits, creatively mastered.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

Chair, painted and re-cushioned ($60)

Mirror, paint and decoupage ($75)

Chalk Board Lamps ($70 for the pair)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Now--ADHD Girls and Women: The Signs You May Not Know

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." — Henry David Thoreau

I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2003 because I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what it was precisely, but there was no possibility that my talent, intelligence, and good upbringing could have lived in the same quarters with my irrational behavior, impulsiveness, depression, and stress for so long without realizing at some point something was wrong.

So I left the doctor's office that blessed day singing Hallelujah to the high heavens after the fourth series of extensive tests. It was the first test that came back with a 56 out of 100 (and there had been many in science and math) that I was elated to see. And my mother was elated to see it as well. There in black ink, on an official, doctor type of paperwork, there is was:

Sarah is not a liar. She actually does not see the cock-a-doody thing right in front of her and she really doesn't remember where she left that rack-a-frackis thing or that you asked her to bring it to you in the first place. So there. Nah-nah-nah. 

Those weren't the specialist's exact words, but all the same, that's about what it said. You're smart. You're talented. But you can't pay attention to save your life. 

I like to tell a story from that series of testing that demonstrates that point. In one session they show you a series of pictures. It starts off with a simple object then the pictures grow more complex. They don't tell you why or how the testing works so the instructions,"Tell me what's missing" leaves an analytical person wondering.

One picture showed a woman holding hands with her child along the beach.

"What's missing?" The specialist asked, not even looking up from his stop watch.

I thought about it--not noticing anything obvious--so I decided that maybe they were testing me psychologically.

"Um...the father?"

And I wonder why my doctors are always grinning in spite of themselves.

My short term memory is terrible and it's gotten worse over the years. But I my long term memory is better and I started considering some of the signs that we couldn't have known were signs. We are who we are, even as babies, even as children. Looking back I was able to ascertain there are symptoms that may go unnoticed--especially since girls and women are under diagnosed:


1. Constipation

I had issues with constipation up until the age of maybe 5 or 6. It wasn't that I couldn't use the bathroom, it's that I didn't WANT to go through the STEPS of using the bathroom. People with ADHD are overwhelmed by activities (that they don't enjoy or that are interesting to them) with multiple steps. As a child, if I was preoccupied with an activity of interest, I would simply hold it. And after a while--after the doctors said there was nothing really wrong with me--it started becoming an issue.

2. Hearing Problems

When I was five, before I went into Kindergarten, we were in for a check up. I was a shy child, timid almost, but Mom asked him if there was anything else I thought I wanted to take care of at the office. I said,"Mom I think my hearing needs to be checked."

I couldn't even read yet, but I intuited there was something wrong with my hearing. And there wasn't. Because there was nothing wrong with my hearing, there was something wrong with my listening. And there was something wrong with my listening because my thoughts were always rapid, loud, and attention consuming. "My thoughts are loud" is a phrase I learned through High School into my young adulthood. And they are. It's difficult to focus when you are constantly absorbed with thoughts that shoot like a toddler with a machine gun.

3. Compulsions and Odd Behavior

Children with ADHD--especially girls--are labeled with "weird" more often than not. It's not even antisocial behavior, it's that the advantages of having ADHD--fierce creativity and imagination and the ability to hyper focus--can affect the way that peers receive and interpret children with ADHD.  Also, ADHD girls may not focus on their appearance as much (that also has to do with steps--not wanting to brush teeth, bathe, etc) which will affect how others perceive them, despite the fact they may be a perfectly lovely and pleasant child.

But you may find your ADHD girl often stares off into nothing, talks to herself or people who are not there, or may even portray OCD behavior like counting objects obsessively or going through bizarre routines. The ADHD child is intelligent and aware that this behavior is not "normal" and will attempt to keep it hidden, so this may be a sign that is hard to detect.


1. You ruin all your clothing.

Pens, bleach, food--you name it. I've thrown out more clothing because of something I've done than any other reason. Because you're not paying attention to what you're doing, it's easy to make mistakes over and over again that could be easily avoided.

2. You don't see things that are right in front of you.

The picture test proved one thing for me--I really don't see things that are obviously right there. This is why people with ADHD are accused of lying or being lazy. They honestly don't notice things that are right in front of them.

3. You have odd physical ailments.

In my first year of management the doctor saw me more than the mercury end of a thermometer. I had tendinitis  pleurisy, and my hands and feet would start going numb and tingling at the exact same time every night. The later was completely due to stress; the others, the doctor assured, surely stemmed from stress as well.

Everyone gets stressed out. People with ADHD get more stressed out because they forget, misplace, and take more time to complete tasks with steps. Women, who are usually more prone to self obligation and guilt, get a double dose. They are working and they are raising families. They are ashamed of their messy house and their unfinished projects. And they aren't getting the help they need.


1. Get Diagnosed

I found comfort in the diagnosis itself. I saw all the teacher's notes ("doesn't reach her full potential/seems to day dream/is not turning in papers on time") in a new light. I will always be responsible for my choices. But it wasn't ALWAYS my character or personality that was the culprit. Diagnosis is the first step. Often a specialist can point you in the right direction

2. Get Medicated

If you choose to try medicine, be patient with it. Most medications have side affects that won't last forever or your body will acclimate itself to the effects. I just discontinued the medication I took for seven years and the first few months were rough. But I prayed myself through it and it helped. Sometimes you can discuss options and you may not need a prescription specific to ADHD.

3. Ask for Help

My family and friends were helpful in understanding and assisting with my ADHD. People WANT to help--ask them. My mother read books about ADHD and about being close to a loved one with ADHD. There are plenty of books. If you're single, then accept what you can't change and get help with what you can. Avoid dating people who are too structured and want you to "snap out of it." There are some things that will never change. There are plenty of little strategies that will help tremendously. People love you. They will remind you. They will understand if you work with them to understand who you are and how you function differently.

And don't try to do it all. Appreciate your positive points and remember: the woman who gets up at 5 a.m. to run and make breakfast out of freshly picked berries is not who you are patterning your life after. Some can do it--some need to creatively find ways to make their life work--and shine.

Congratulations on being a woman with ADHD: there is no deficit to your creativity.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eat Well: Beef, Mushroom, and Green Bean Stif Fry

Please note that links indicate I have purchased locally:

Recipe Ingredients

  • 6 oz thin rice noodles
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 3/4 in. thick
  • 8 oz green beans, halved crosswise
  • 1 1/2-in. piece fresh ginger, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Black pepper
  • 1 lb sirloin steak, sliced 1/2 in. thick

Recipe Preparation

  1. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes; drain and return them to the bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, tossing, for 2 minutes. Add the green beans and cook, tossing, until the green beans are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ginger and toss to combine. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the noodles (reserve the skillet) and toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey and 1 Tbsp water. In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the beef and toss to coat.
  4. Add the remaining Tbsp oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook just until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Serve with the noodles and vegetables.

Who I shared it with:

My friends, Leslie and Danielle, who also enjoyed the pumpkin goat cheese appetizer and almond dessert.

Eat Well: Curry Spice, Shrimp and Rice (and everything nice)

 Please note the links, which indicate I bought local.


Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 lb large peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Recipe Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Add the rice and 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Season the shrimp with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and nestle them in the partially cooked rice. Scatter the peas over the top, cover, and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the rice is tender, 4 to 5 minutes more. Fold in the cilantro.

Serve with raita (ray-tay) which is a mixture of Greek yogurt, ground cumin, peeled cucumber, cilantro or mint, and lime juice


My family.

Eat Well: Bows and Beans Soup


Recipe Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1⁄2 cups farfallini (small bowtie pasta), tubettini or other small pasta
  • 2 cans (about 15 oz each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan

Recipe Preparation

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a 3-qt saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes or until light golden. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  2. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in beans and tomatoes; cook 4 minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove from heat.

Who I shared it with:

Stephanie from "From Shabby to Chic" ladies boutique!

Eat Well: Cheddar Broccoli Soup



Woman's Day Version:


Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 1/2-in.-thick slices of bread, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium russet potato (about 8 oz), cut into 1/2-in. pieces
  • 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/4 lb), stalks peeled and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 6 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated

Recipe Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 1 Tbsp oil. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, garlic, onion, potato, broccoli stalks, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the remaining broccoli into small florets. Add the florets and 3 cups water to the vegetables, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, the broccoli should be just tender; if not, simmer 1 to 2 minutes more.
  4. Remove from heat and, using a handheld immersion blender (or a standard blender, working in batches and returning to the saucepan), purée the vegetable mixture. Add the milk and nutmeg and simmer to heat through, about 2 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Serve with the croutons.


I used store bought croutons.

I used a crock pot. I put the milk and nutmeg in first and melted the cheese, then poured in the vegetables.

Make sure to drain off all the water from boiling the vegetables, otherwise the soup will be watered down.

Don't over-salt. The extra-sharp cheddar will make the soup salty enough.


My mom, whose recipe is better but found this one remarkably sufficient.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Money: Will You Be a Fico Score for Halloween

I had to chuckle when I turned to the Woman's Day article about credit scores, mostly because while I was reading the article, I was waiting for calls about credit scores.

Helping people with their credit is what I do all day. And every day, I get a lot of the same questions, some of which were covered in the article, some of which were not. I have learned a few important points about credit scores, some of which I pull from my own experiences:

1. Your credit report and scores are probably not as bad as you think so don't be scared of them.

I was always afraid that my scores would be so low and my debt so profound, I wouldn't want to see them. I discovered that things weren't nearly as bad as I thought and their was quite a bit of hope. I had erroneous and outdated information on my credit reports because your creditors don't have to report to all three bureas (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) so while two of your scores many reflect correct information, one may not. Transunion had documented substantial debt was still owed on my car and all three bureaus had a medical bill that I didn't even owe. I also learned that some of my collections would fall off within a few years. With help and guidance, you can achieve better scores.

2. Just because you pay a collection, doesn't mean it comes off of your report.

Paying a collection is positive for one reason: the creditors will get off your back. Once a debt falls 180 days late from the original creditor, it can be sold off to a collection agency. Then, once it's sold it can be sold again. The positive fact is that it cannot renew the time it stays on your credit report. The negative is that after that 180 day date it will stay on your report for seven years.

3. You should know your rights concerning debt collection agencies.

Debt collection agencies can do several things to get their money. They may write off the money you owe as bad debt and leave it at that but if worse comes to worse they can sue you for the money, garnish your wages, or claim rights to any assets you may have, such as a vehicle. If the court files a judgement, that judgement will be on your credit report for seven years from the date filed in court.

I would advise anyone to know their rights concerning creditors. They lie and they threaten. I have heard nightmarish stories about creditors even threatening to blow up someone's house and hurt their family members. Do a little research about your responsibility concerning secured and unsecured debt. Don't ever allow anyone to bully you and don't give out any personal information to anyone. You don't have to.

However, many creditors will work with you. I recommend searching your collection agency on the Better Business Bureau first and foremost. Many creditors are happy to get any money and will take low payments. Many creditors will cut some of the balance in order to get any money at all. Once you are ready to confront a creditor, offer them what you would like to pay (don't tell them who your employer is--never do that) to determine how willing they are to meet you in the middle. Would they rather receive some money or no money at all? Remember they have employees who may earn incentive by getting any payment. They may start at a higher number but will settle for what you can offer.

4. It's not a good idea to ever allow your percentage of use to go over 35%--EVER.

I had a customer who owned an American Express card with a $15,000 limit. He maxed it out every month, because he had a small business, and paid it all off--in full--and way before the amount was due.

He was furious because his credit scores had plummeted. Why was this man, making responsible choices, seeing such a substantial decrease?

If your creditor reports to the bureaus when your percentage rate is high (use of available credit to credit limit) that is all the bureaus see--that at that moment in time, it's high. Even if you're paying it off in full, if it's not reported at that moment then it doesn't matter, as far as your scores are concerned. Keeping some debt and keeping it low can be an easy way to see your score increase over a short amount of time.

5. Closing out cards can increase your score and increasing your debt can increase your score.

The last thing that I thought would be a positive for me was increasing my debt. However, with a good reporting company I found out that getting more credit cards (given I could control their use) would cause a substantial increase to my score. People hear generic information and assume it is correct across the board. It's not. Depending on your own financial history, closing out unused credit cards, for instance, could help you. I see an increase in scores to customers who have a long credit history and over 10 accounts.

Seeking a credit reporting agency that provides tools to make customer scenarios based on you as a person is a great way to help increase your score in the future.

6. FICO scores are not the three credit scores.

You're going to Google FICO scores and you're going to see it as a plural. You're going to be under the impression that FICO scores are the three credit scores. They are not. FICO scores are used by mortgage agencies and are an entire different ball game than the three credit scores you see advertised by clever little jingles on television.

The scores that mortgage companies and often car dealerships use are calculated differently because they are being used for secured debt. With secured debt if you can't pay they can repossess something. Unsecured debt is credit card debt. There is nothing to show for what you owe, which is why the creditors get ugly and sell it to collection agencies.

Your FICO score is ONE SCORE and it is probably going to be lower than what you're getting from your credit reporting agency. That's pretty typical. So why go to these web sites that advertise all three scores? Credit card companies can use these scores and often these web sites do offer a pretty accurate picture of where you're at financially. Plus, the features they offer can help you dispute for free (going to the bureaus directly will cost) and establish better credit in the long run.

Knowing and improving your scores can help you in several ways:

1. Good scores can secure a job.

Great companies like Nationwide and Alpine require a certain amount of debt or high credit scores to even be considered for employment.

2. Good scores affect lower interest rates.

Saving money going forward is dependent on a higher credit rating. This is particularly important for secured debt like houses and cars.

3. Knowing your report can clue you in to identity theft.

There can be mistakes on your report that stem from a sibling or a child stealing your information and opening credit in your name. Unless you know what your reports look like, you will never determine fraud or even criminal records that may appear if someone has stolen your Social Security number.

By using sites like you can determine whether you have become a victim of identity theft, dispute erroneous information, and make specific financial simulations.

And if you have questions, there's a credit specialist not too far away...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Eat Well: My Own Little Monsters

This recipe calls for "bittersweet" chocolate although I was hard pressed to find it so I used semi-sweet.

8 oz Bakers chocolate, melted by directions in mircrowave

5 oz (1 can) chow mein noodles

1/2 cup vanilla frosting

jelly beans and candies

After the chocolate melts you combine it to fully coat the noodles. Then you place them by heaping table spoons on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Wait half an hour until the chocolate hardens then apply the jelly beans by placing them on icing dots, made by placing the icing in a sandwich bag and snipping a bit of the end to pipe. Then dot he jelly beans and place a little candy for the pupils.

Meanwhile, you can toast the coconut in a frying pan with a splash of cooking vanilla. It may be the best part!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Gospel of Gump

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time...Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace..." Hebrews 12:11

In this October's issue of Woman's Day there is a focus on discipline: whether it's recognizing a physical ailment and taking steps overcome the hurdles, repairing your finances, or becoming an entrepreneur, discipline is a the base of success. Discipline is at the base of victory.

The Apostle Paul set us up for success by outlining how discipline works:

1. Throw off what hinders.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..."

Sometimes what is hindering us is not obvious. You can focus on the extra weight, the piles of mess around the house, the projects that are continually left unfinished, but what lies beneath? Often we are too intimately involved with the issues that are at the root of our problems. When we can determine that it is our pride that has become a major obstacle (can't ask for help, can't let anyone know about our mess) it is often the case that pride has flourished because of another deeper issue. Many sins thrive on a Petri dish comprised of only two ingredients: fear and shame.

Sin takes root. Sometimes the root has gone deeper than the plant that stems from it's growth. It may take tools, a lot of digging, and help to remove the whole of it, but if we acknowledge it's existence we have already made a step towards running the race.

2. Run with perseverance

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

Keep moving. I can't help myself from thinking of Forrest Gump who "just kept running." Critics of the Oscar winning film thumbed their noses at the simpleton who made millions by making a series of lucky choices, but I appreciated the subtler lesson. Forrest was obedient to those in authority and to those whom he respectfully loved in humility. The race marked out for him was as simple as following orders. Often we long to know God's will, or the answer to the question why. The race is set for us in the simpler things, the things we cannot possibly find by our own understanding. What CAN we understand? We must put on our shoes, we must take the first step. We may not know where we are going but we can know, love, and trust Who told us to run.

3. Identify with Christ

"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross...Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I put on my shoes. I packed my duffel bag. I got in the car. But I didn't make it to the gym. It's not that I lacked motivation. It's not that I lost faith in the function of the treadmill. I didn't suddenly decide I had reached my goal weight.

I left my ipod at work. There was no point to going to the gym: I had nothing to focus on.

I often think of a point my Mom made once about learning to drive. She was taught by my Uncle Keith who saw her struggle with depth and perception. He encouraged her to look straight ahead and not all around her. That, he instructed her, would keep her driving straight.

It is easy to grow weary when we look at our circumstances. Discouragement is even easier when we look at ourselves. It is Christ who is the perfecter of our faith and He is faithful. Christ does the work.

I look forward to starting off this October surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.