This time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, breeds thankfulness. Unfortunately, I am easily overwhelmed in my life, and it sometimes feels paralyzing, and this time of year is so full that it is especially overwhelming. I am engulfed with the messes in my house, the responsibilities that I carry, the individual and enormous needs of each of my children, things I need to do and things I want to do. During this season, even the fun things (like holiday gift buying, baking, card sending, and decorating) can feel overwhelming.
I have to stop and breathe and focus on GRATITUDE.
Gratitude is a powerful force. It is more than a fluffy idea. There is science behind it!
The research that has emerged recently on gratitude is incredible.
Here are a couple of interesting pieces on the power of gratitude.
This short piece, by my hero Brene Brown, is about the link between Gratitude and Joy:
And this fun experiment measuring the link between Gratitude and Happiness, from SoulPancake.
So, I am stopping for a moment and making a list of 10 things for which I am grateful TODAY.
Some things I am grateful for are:
1. The health of our family
2. Wonderful schools with great faculty and administration that are impacting my kids everyday
3. Good coffee
4. Meaningful work with incredible students
6. Neighbors with whom we can loan ingredients and tools, and lend a hand and feel so not alone in this life.
7. God’s faithfulness- His mercies that are new every morning!
8. The seasons
9. A good night’s sleep under a fluffy comforter
10. Friends- old and new, near and far
#10- friends old and new, is the inspiration for this post. I have a new friend, Sandi. She is a very talented, wise and generous woman that I have gotten to know this fall. She and her husband are in our small group at church and one of the unexpected blessings of this new friendship are the food and recipes that have come from her kitchen. Because we share a meal together each week at group, we have the chance to eat each other’s food weekly! (That is not a typical opportunity in many friendships).
She is a great cook and has so many recipes that are NEW to me. It has been a boon for me and my kitchen! Through the years of my food blogging, one of the things that has kept me at it (when I wonder why in the world am I doing this in the vast number of food blogs on the internet) is knowing that some friend or some unknown friend, is finding inspiration and help with what to make for dinner.
Sandi’s gift of new, delicious, do-able recipes has been so great. I couldn’t decide which recipe to share with you that I have tried of Sandi’s lately, so I decided to share both! At the rate I am posting lately, I might should double-up when I do sneak the time to create a blog post!
Recipe #1 is her Apple Cole Slaw.
I love it!
It is sweet and tangy and healthy! It is good as a side with just about anything!
I have made it twice and I approached it differently each time, and it produced different results. I liked them both. I made it once in my food processor and it yielded a much finer, juicer slaw (think Chick fil a slaw texture) and the second time I chopped with a knife and it yielded more of a loose, crunchy salad.
4 slices pineapple, chopped
2 cups cabbage, chopped
2 Tbsp. mayo
2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
Toss together the apples, pineapple and cabbage.
Pour dressing over. Stir to completely coat.
Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before eating.
Recipe #2 is Nani’s Cake
It’s called Nani’s cake because the lady who gave her the recipe got it from her Nani.
My mom tasted it and said she thinks she has this recipe from somewhere in her past and called it Butter Pecan Cake. I’d call it Sticky Coconut Bundt Cake. It is a simple- throw it in a bowl, stir and bake cake. It has a can of coconut pecan sticky frosting stirred into the batter- so it needs no frosting on top. It gets even stickier and moister after a couple of days, so it is a great make-ahead dessert. The coconut and nuts are not dominant, so even people who don’t love those ingredients would like it, I think.
1 box yellow butter cake mix
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup milk
1 can (Pillsbury)- coconut pecan frosting*
1 tsp almond extract
Beat all together (including frosting).
Spray bundt pan generously.
Bake 350 for 40 minutes.
It gets better with each day so try not to eat it all the first day.
* we used Betty Crocker frosting because they didn’t have Pillsbury
Another gift from Sandi was the book, Not By Sight by John Bloom (President of Desiring God ministries). Click the link to read more about it. It has been a refreshing morning read this fall. I highly recommend it.
So, thank you, Sandi, for sharing your kindness, and generous gifts. What a blessing.
I hope in the midst of these busy December days we can all purpose to spell our days with gratitude.
But be forewarned, it is sometimes vulnerable to do so!
PERSONAL CONFESSION: Surprisingly the act of writing the gratitude list in this post felt challenging- though in a good way. I had to dig deep, and be still for a few moments to really think about the things for which I am grateful today.
And the act of sharing the list feels/felt vulnerable and somehow risky, and I wonder if that may be part of what holds us back from practicing and expressing gratitude more!