Dinner Preparations for … President Obama, Donald Trump, My Mother-in-Law… Jesus

Picture this.

Its Friday, and out of the blue a friend asks you to hold a dinner party TONIGHT at your home for some friends, and one of the guests is one of the most important people you know of… Someone YOU TRULY find important and want to make a great impression on… Your mother-in-law, Pastor Dale O’Shields, the President, your boss, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, Miss USA

Whats the first thing you would do?

I can think of about 100 things I would immediately begin doing…

1. Create an emergency grocery list for the items I was going to prepare for dinner
2. Call my husband (freaking out of course)
  • he needs to clean his papers off our dinner table
  • he needs to grab some of his best wines from the warehouse
  • 3. Begin strategizing how I can cram all the junk from downstairs in the rooms upstairs in our home.. hey if what they see “looks” clean maybe they’ll think my whole house is like that! (wouldn’t want them to think we live in anything but a “spotless-uncluttered-perfectly clean and always ready for guests” home)

    Now picture this…

    Its 7pm and your dinner guests have arrived. You’ve crammed the clutter into your bedroom, cleared and set the table with your best china, prepared yourself, grocery shopped and are almost through preparing the dinner … if only you’d had help from that friend that asked you to throw the party… but she’s in the living room speaking to your GUESTS as YOU complete the finishing touches on the dinner.

    I’m not really one to “say” something but over the years (and perhaps it’s hereditary because both my mom and dad are masters at it), I too have MASTERED the “look of death” or as some people call it, “The Evil Eye!”  I can see it now… every time I would enter the room, I would give her the look of death… one that SCREAMED, “THE AUDACITY YOU HAVE!!!”as I run around like a maniac to live up to … What? an unspoken expectation to create a perfect atmosphere … God forbid these people (or any people at that matter) see myself or my family as anything “less-than-wonderful” that lives in a “picture-perfect-always-ready-for-anything” home and atmosphere.

    “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:40-42

    I don’t think it could be any clearer, how very different God’s priorities are from our own! His priority clearly IS NOT what we produce or what we accomplish! He’s much more interested in us spending time getting to know Him!  Both sisters here are focused. But only one had her focus on the RIGHT thing. While Martha was busy taking care of all the “odds and ends,” Mary was at the feet of the Lord – learning, loving and growing with a heart wide open. 

    In Mary’s stillness, she was completely “in the moment” with her heart and mind placed on what was truly important. Just like that of our dinner guests, our Lord is much more interested in spending time with us, getting to know YOU, learning about YOU… as opposed to seeing how wonderful of a “meal” you can create, the list of 100 things you can finish in a matter of 3 hours or how “spotless” and beautiful your home and YOUR LIFE appears to be! Despite Martha’s best intentions,  and often times our own… we are way too “busy” to focus on our Lord.

    Lets Get Real. What about you? Where would you’re focus be?

    As much as I hate to say this,  I struggle with ridding the  “busyness,” of my life. I think we all do.  We run around trying to do everything, tie up loose ends, be everywhere and everything to so many different people…  I am pretty certain mine and your “intended focus” would be on the Lord.. But where would your REAL FOCUS be? Where is YOUR REAL FOCUS?

    The Lord isn’t “impressed” by making things seem “perfect” in our lives for Him or for the people around us. He knows that we are broken, incomplete, unable to be the PERFECT house wife, girlfriend, bestfriend, mother, daughter, sister, brother, chef, chauffeur, list-doer (and completer), career-minded, lover, and Child of His… complete with a never ending smile and perfect attitude!

    He doesn’t ask this of us, nor EXPECT this from us (despite our craziest assumptions!) Rather, just as our dinner guests, the Lord simply wants to spend time with YOU.. with US, getting to know us!  The Lord wants us to EXPERIENCE life… REAL LIFE – in all of its fullness – the good, the bad, the true happiness, the pain, the struggles, the messy-ness, the blessings -not as an afterthought once we’ve finished our list of 100 things to accomplish before taking a moments rest!

    I encourage you… Take some time this weekend, put aside the craziness of life and … Continue reading

    Mind, Body, & Soul. (Part 2 of 6) Basics Of Looking Chic While Preggo.

    Mind, Body & Soul

    Getting Focused. Beyond The Wardrobe.

    Part 2 of 6

    Regardless of the boutiques you have at hand, the money you have in the bank, the MUA team at your side, the wardrobe in your closet … I can promise you one thing… Your #1 Key to “Looking Chic While Pregnant” (and not pregnant for that matter) is “FOCUS!”

    Face it… It happens to us all. Those days you wake up, look in the mirror and think, “MAN, I’ve got it going on today!” … the hair, the skin, the attitude, the aura. The Planets have aligned. You could wear anything or nothing – pajamas, your favorite t-shirt, a bikini, or a gown – confidence simply exudes from every pore of your body!

    And then, the inevitable happens.  You wake up the next morning, look in that same mirror and the confidence that exuded from every pore of your body the day before, has been replaced by … a pimple, water-weight, red-eyes, dull-skin, dark-circles, cellulite, hair that clearly belongs to a Troll as opposed to any human being… essentially what they call, “DEATH WARMED OVER,”… and an attitude that SCREAMS with negativity. Its days like this that you want to crawl back into the bed, hide behind a mask of make-up, hire a live-in hairdresser, cover all the mirrors in your home with tarps, hide beneath a hat…its just one of those days.

    The thing is, on one of those days as much as we try, no amount of make up, face cream, under eye concealer, or money spent on a wardrobe can you make you “look” amazing and chic, if you truly don’t FEEL it. One of the best pieces of advice I have for “Looking Chic While Preggo,” is to stay in the RIGHT mindset…creating a world around you conducive for POSITIVITY… it’s all about the FOCUS…YOU’RE FOCUS!

    Where is Your Focus? How is Your Attitude?

    I have 5 keys steps to keeping your focus and attitude where they need to be… focusing on the MIND, BODY, & SOUL.

    1. Communicate with your Team. No, not your make up and hair team. When you wake up and have a bad attitude about the way you look in the mirror, no amount of make up is FIXING THAT! Think about how many celebrity “mishap” photos you see and they certainly have all the money and opportunity to hire the best MUA’s (make up artists) out there.  I’m referring to communicating with two separate and personal support systems here… the support systems that help work on YOUR beauty from the INSIDE OUT!  Your husband (or your partner) and your faith in “SOMEONE” or something greater than yourself… In my case, it is my faith in Jesus Christ.

    Communication is KEY. I am fortunate enough (and probably because of career) my husband knows the “look” I get on my face when I wake up to “one of those days” (I don’t even know “the look”… because I can’t see clearly into the mirror through my “bad attitude”) When my husband takes note of “the look” it is almost automatic that he will offer up one of these silly but “learned” and useful comments: for example if he’s in our closet preparing for work, “This dress in the closet, the green one (its blue but who’s being technical) I meant to tell you the other day, it matches your eyes perfectly.”  So here, the other half of MY team has done three things

  • re-directed my negative focus about how horrible I look
  • made me laugh to hear him take notice of anything “fashionable” in the “female-world” whatsoever (although who likes to laugh, nor merely smile when their in a bad mood!.. don’t be nice to me when I’m trying to be in a bad mood)
  • basically just reminded me, “Hey, remember,  I’m on your team.”
  • Yes, I have been known too on some of “those days,” think to myself after a comment like that, “WHO CARES about a stupid dress that matches my eyes! Have you SEEN what I look like? NO DRESS is going to fix this!” However, here’s the thing, as my dad would tell me growing up, “No matter where you go in this world, you have to take yourself.” No one, NOT EVEN YOU LIKES TO BE SAD… feel ugly (physically or emotionally) so when someone is clearly trying to “throw you a bone,” take it.

    Communication with Jesus is an absolute must. Every morning, “good” or “bad” I sit down in front my bible, and engross myself in his word – putting my focus 100% where it needs to be! Now, that’s not to say, every morning I can sit and spend 20 minutes doing a study or reading, but it is to say that I have my key verses on those hectic mornings, that I can flip to, read and re-read, jutting my focus from what “seems” important to me, at that particular moment, to WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT TO ME!  PS – just a little side note:  “Genesis 1:26” … “Remember God created mankind in HIS image”…

    2. Keep it Simple, but keep it Real. When it’s one of those days, Keep it Simple, meaning have a “go-to” outfit that makes you feel and (in your opinion) look good. However, when I say Keep it Real, I mean BE … Continue reading

    What came first, the Chicken or the … Pear?

    Judit’s Dish

    “Judit’s Dish,” is a recipe I acquired from a party we had at my neighbors home this past Halloween!
    Judit (my neighbor) and her husband are both from Hungary, working now in the DC area for the Hungarian Embassy – so we have been blessed to experience many of common dishes made in their home country!!

    What you need: (Serves 4)

    • 4 Pears
    • 1lb. Chicken Breast (or 2 chicken breast fillets)
    • Cheese (the original recipe called for a Smoked cheese, however, after trying this several times, it is in my opinion that the CHEESE of your choice serves best!)
    • A Sui-chef (a husband, friend, or just generally a STRONG girl or guy that can help)


    1. Chop the chicken into small squares (the smaller the better – but do not mince)
    2. Begin to brown your chicken (add a slight amount of olive oil)
    2. Have your Sui-chef cut each Pear in halves. For each half, scoop the middle of the pear out, forming a bowl shape. Place the inside of the pear into a small bowl. (any seeds you find in the pears should be thrown away)
    3. Take the insides of your pears and mix with the Browning chicken.
    Chicken and "Pear-Insides"

    4. Lower the heat on the chicken and “Pear-Insides” and allow to simmer slowly for about 20 minutes. The “pear-insides” should be soft and the juices from the pears will be absorbed by the chicken as well.
    5. Place each “scooped out pear halve” on a cookie sheet.
    Perfectly Scooped Pear Halves Prepared by my "Expert Sui-Chef"

    6. Begin to fill the halves of the pear with your chicken and pear mix.
    7. Place the pears in the oven for approximately 30 min on 130 degree Fahrenheit.
    8. Take the pears out of the oven and shred the cheese of your choice on the top of each pear.
    9. Place back in the oven and allow cheese to melt. (approximately 5-10 min. depending upon the cheese).

    The Lone Pear left at Tonight's Dinner!

    Casandra’s Recipes : Mango con Kiwi y Yogurt

    Mango con Kiwi y Yogurt


    Mango con Kiwi y Yogurt

    What you need: (serves 4 people)
    – 1 large Mango
    -3 kiwi
    -2 cups of yogurt (Vanilla, Greek, whatever your favorite yogurt is)

    Peel 1 large mango and place into blender/magic bullet. Blend. Distribute into 4 small glasses. Peel 3 kiwi and place into blender (ALONE). Blend. Distribute into the 4 small glasses on top of the blended mango. (do not mix in cup). Place a 1/4 cup of yogurt on top of each cup containing the mango and kiwi. Serve.

    Option. This is sweet, however if someone prefers sweeter, sprinkle brown sugar on the top of the yogurt.