A Season of Brokenness

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It’s the Christmas season. Retail stores are busy, favorite christmas ornaments are beautifully placed on our trees, Christmas carols are being sung, favorite seasonal recipes are being made, Christmas lights are flooding our streets, white elephant games are being played…and I’ve had my share of caramel brulee lattes.

Tis the season.

As we enter this new season of Christmas, I can’t help but ponder my own season in life.

These past months have been a whirlwind, to be honest. I believe wholeheartedly that life comes in increments of seasons: seasons of growth, healing, rest, learning patience, grieving,  laughter, etc (Ecc. 3:1-8)

In this season I am learning more about myself… who I am… who I am as a wife and how I can be a better wife… who I am as a Christian and a friend and what I can do differently… my future… reevaluating my heart…my role as a therapist… my faith and how I want more of it… how I can change my perspective in the midst of external situations out of my control… This season has definitely been a time of looking at myself through an invisible “microscope.”

Through this “microscope” I have seen my many wonderful qualities such as being nurturing, passionate about striving to be a godly wife, and the love I have to serve others and God. On the contrary, I see my weaknesses of wanting to be accepted by everyone and taking it personal if I’m not, along with my need to have structure (sometimes to a detriment). In addition, I have an internal struggle of wanting to fix circumstances or defend myself while God wants me simply to trust in Him indefinitely. I’d like to think of myself as a forgiving and graceful woman since I am a Christian and have seen God overflowing with these attributes on a personal level and in the life of others; however, often times I fall short. My mister and I have a bright future ahead and are ecstatic about those years, but it takes these seasons of God searching me, breaking me, and putting me back together again that bring us to a healthier place than what would have been possible had we not gone through this season of being under the “microscope.”

At the very least, it is not a comfortable season by any means. Although I lived and learned long enough to understand that these seasons tend to repeat if I don’t embrace them (by “embrace” I mean, living through it while learning and developing as much as possible rather than being in denial and running from the season.)

I’m inspired by Joseph’s life in the Book of Genesis. In brief, God gave him dreams and visions of him being a leader over many, but he went through a very long season of scrutiny, betrayal, suffering, false accusations, etc. This continued for years. As his life story plays out, his characteristics of honesty, integrity, faithfulness, and forgiving are evident, and he was set in a position of authority with the ability to provide for his family. His season of brokenness was purposeful. Had he not gone through his painful season prior to being placed in his position of authority, he would not have grown, developed,and matured into the role God ultimately intended for him. Had he fought against the difficult season in His life, he may have lost out on the greatness God was preparing for him, or perhaps he would have prematurely stepped into the role God had for him without valuing the process. I find it sobering how through Joseph’s darkest hour he never lost sight of God’s vision for his life, and how God was enough for him.

In the midst of this season of being “broken” I know two things are certain. First off, I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator Himself. The Creator who forethought the depths of the seas and the color of the skies and positioned the sun and the moon has predestined my life for greatness. I am His masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece. He has my absolute best interest in mind and understands what seasons my character needs to endure to prepare me for my future. Secondly, God is enough for me. Paul says it quite best in Philippians 4:12 that whether you have it all in life or not, contentment is key. Whatever season I am in life, God is enough. His grace, peace, hope, and security is enough. Our society often tells us that “enough” does not exist. We always just want a little bit more…. more money, nicer furniture, upgraded vehicle, etc. On the contrary, we weren’t created for “things” to fill us up with contentment. We were created for God to be enough in us. I’ve known this to be true, but it is in this season that this knowledge is translating into a personal testament.

Through this season of life, I’m learning to hand God my whole heart – insecurities, fears, failures and even my lovely characteristics. His plans are always better than our own.

I’m interested in hearing from my readers. Have you experienced this season in your own life? If not, what season are you experiencing now?

I’d love to hear from you.

Caffeinated Love,

Ceci

 

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Fall.

It’s a such a captivating word, and the meaning excites me.

Fall represents crisp and colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, chic scarves, perfect rainy weather like today, and of course, all things pumpkin.

This season has my name written all over it.

As we all know, a good indicator that fall is quickly approaching is when Starbucks offers their famous, seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL).

I get the warm and fuzzy feelings inside seeing all my dear friends post their first PSL of the season throughout social media.

While I am a Starbucks PSL groupie, I do understand that it is not the healthiest fall treat as a grande with whip contains 240 mg in Sodium, 49g in sugar and 380 calories. Not to mention all the artificial ingredients and colorings. Heart-breaking right?

Learning this tragic information, I couldn’t help but develop a PSL free of gluten, dairy, and artificial flavors to satisfy my taste buds and accent my comfy sweaters.

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Ingredients:

~ 4 ounces of chameleon or homemade cold-brew coffee (or one cup of brewed pumpkin spice coffee)

~ 1 tbsp of pumpkin puree

~ 1 cup Almond Milk

~ 1 Cinnamon Stick

~ 1/8 tsp of Nutmeg

~ 1 1/2 tbsp of raw Honey

~ Dash of pumpkin spice

Recipe:

~ In a low-medium heat small pot, pour the brewed coffee and almond milk. Stir.

~ Add Pumpkin Puree. Stir occasionally until pumpkin puree evaporates, and there is simply a beautiful dark orange color.

~ Add raw honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice. Stir.

~ Stir occasionally until your PSL is lightly boiling.

~ Carefully pour into your favorite mug or to-go cup, and simply enjoy your fall in a cup.

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As always, thanks for reading!

Caffeinated Love,

Ceci

Protein, Blueberry, Banana Pancakes

pancakes 2As I’m sure ya’ll can relate, it’s enjoyable to connect with others over social media through common interest. In this case, it’s FOOD! Not just any food, but nutritious and wholesome food without compromising taste.

I connected with Briana months ago on instagram, and found myself drooling over her food pics. While I mainly eat Paleo, I do recognize one can eat healthy using various methods other than Paleo, and Briana definitely brings her A-game when showing off her delish, healthy eats. She not only is a great cook, but she has a sweet personality. With this in mind, I knew she would be a great person guest post! I am thrilled about this pancake recipe. Can’t wait to try them myself!

Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram @myfood__diary (two underscores).


My name is Briana and I recently developed a love for cooking and baking while staying healthy and all natural 95% of the time. I have always been healthy but used to deprive myself of many different foods. For example, pancakes, muffins, cookies and many more until I would crack, binge on these awful things, then be upset with myself. It wasn’t until this past January I discovered how to turn these unhealthy foods from empty calories without fiber or protein and loads of sugar to delicious and nutritious food.

Pancakes are a breakfast fav for many people. As much as I loved them, I knew they were filled with calories, sugars, and simple carbs. I found a recipe online and altered it a little to make it even more healthy and delicious. I also took this basic recipe and create different flavored pancakes out of it.

I now eat pancakes almost twice a week. NEVER in a million years would I believe you if you told me that a couple years ago.

Ingredients:
~ 1 cup of oats
~ 1 scoop of protein of your choice
~ 1 tsp baking powder
~1 tsp cinnamon
~ Blend in food processor until flour like consistency

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More Ingredients:

~2 egg whites (or 3 tablespoons of egg beaters)

~1/2 cup almond milk

~ 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (any flavor)

~1 tsp vanilla extract

~Half a banana

Recipe:

~ Blend all together in food processor

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~Heat pan, griddle, or pancake maker and form your pancakes! They don’t take long to cook and try not to over cook them!

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~These are vanilla protein blueberry and banana pancakes. So I used blueberry Greek yogurt and added blueberries and sliced bananas after I poured then batter on the maker. (I prefer to use egg whites but ran out of eggs!)

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(For lemon pancakes add 1 tsp of lemon extract as well as lemon zest) Extra!: When I make lemon blueberry pancakes I make a lemon yogurt drizzle that tastes delicious with these! It’s just 1/2 cup of plain 0% fat Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp lemon extract and lemon zest if wanted.

(For almond chocolate chip use chocolate protein powder, add 1 tsp of almond extract, chopped almonds, and cacao chips)

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Never forget- food is fuel and eat good to feel good!
Xoxo, Briana
Follow my food account for more healthy and delicious meals @ myfood__diary !

5 Ways Women Can Refuel Daily

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I’ve realized the older I get the more I feel time speeds up. Seriously. I remember the day I received my high school diploma and anticipated college as if it were yesterday. Now, I live half way across the U.S., am married, and am hitting the big 30 while adjusting to the reality of crow’s feet.

Time is consistent, neither stopping nor waiting for anyone. Before I know it, my week is over and no matter how much I do, I feel one of two ways: Tired and accomplished or tired and unaccomplished.

I forget about myself and my needs and replace them with meeting other’s needs, wants, and expectations. As women, we are often pulled in so many directions that we often find ourselves on the brink of burnout. While meeting the needs of others isn’t a bad thing, lacking within is. This spiral continues to drain us day after day, week after week, year after year.

Then it occurred to me while driving home from work with hunger pangs and a list of “to-do’s” that I don’t like this spiral! It’s not the way I want to live my life nor is it the life God intended for me. I want to live a life with purpose on purpose, but in order to do this effectively I must make myself a priority.

Whatever season of life we are in, we have many God-given qualities to offer ourselves and others, but if we aren’t feeding ourselves daily then we can’t give what we don’t have. As one professor once told me, “If you can’t be good to yourself, you can’t be good to anyone else.”


Below are 5 areas we can rejuvenate daily. Although I must say it’s not realistic to implement all these methods every single day, I aim to do so and have found myself to be less drained and more fulfilled in life and purpose as a result of doing so.

1. Grow Your Mind. Read a blog post, a portion of a book, or a magazine. You may be interested in gardening, parenting, or cooking. Whatever topics excite you  – read up on it. As for me, I read about marriage, money, God, psychology, etc. Grow your knowledge on matters you are passionate about. Side note: Few things are more fascinating than a classy, educated woman.

2. Be with someone you love. Spending quality time (whether it be 5 minutes or an hour) with someone you love does wonders for your day. Positive relationships are imperative to our physical and mental health, and stimulate us to be better individuals. That in mind, make it a priority to invest in your interpersonal relationships. We all lead busy, busy lives with so much clouding out our schedules that it’s easy to forget about the important people in our lives. Life is too short not to invest in those we love and appreciate.

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3. Exercise. After a work out, have you ever wished you didn’t? Of course not! After, you feel like you can conquer the world! Do the exercises you like so you are more prone to continue to do them – whether it be palates, running, or walking. Exercising not only helps maintain weight or weight-loss, but it helps reduce stress, improve mood, boost energy…need I continue?

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4. Pray. Prayer is a practical method of simply communicating and connecting with God. Maybe you can relate, but I have spent too much of my life embracing insecurity, doubt, fear, anxiety, and un- forgiveness – believing this was simply part of life. However, through my years, I’ve come to the understanding that this is not God’s purpose for me, or for you. Security, peace, confidence, forgiveness and so much more come through prayer. Spend time in daily prayer – life change and rejuvenation will follow.

5. Do Something You Love. Yes, do something you love, and the key is  not to feel guilty about not doing something else such as laundry or dishes. Whether it be reading, painting, photography, baking, or completing a dyi inspired from pinterest – do what  you love! We are beautifully and wonderfully created with lovely talents and passions. Life is a delicate span of time to work hard, but also play and seize the opportunity to do what you love.

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I hope these ideas help to rejuvenated you as they have for me.

As always, thanks for reading.

Caffeinated Love,

Ceci

6 Perks To Being Single

 

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Let me first start by sharing that I have been married for 1 year and 2 months now and am absolutely loving my new season of married life.

Now that I shared that disclaimer, let me continue….I got married when I was 28 which was a little later than “normal,” and the awkward, cringing question “So, when are you getting married?” before I was even dating anyone is still all too familiar.  Although I do know those questions did not have harsh intentions, it was difficult at times not to feel as though I should be ashamed or believe others thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t have a significant other.

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 I believe there are amazing qualities of life being single as well as being married. Both have their good times as well as their challenges.

I realized being single is ok and I’m really not going to grow up to be a cat lady! Ladies, it’s ok to be single, and there are lovely aspects to this lifestyle. Not everyone is called to be married at 21 with 3 kids. Life does not start with marriage. Life is about actually living it, appreciating it, and living it with purpose – irrespective of what season of life you may be in at a given tim. In my opinion, although my marriage is imperfectly perfect, I am grateful for my single years since I am a better version of me because of my singlehood.

So just to share a little perspective and encouragement to single ladies out there, I have compiled 6 Perks to Being Single.

1. The opportunity to invest in other relationships. Invest in those you love and value in your life. We never know where marriage will take you (across the US, in my case), and having those interpersonal relationships already established is important. I lived 7 hours away from home before I got married, and it was difficult to keep in touch with family and friends being a nanny and studying in grad school, but being that those relationships are important to me I made an effort to invest in them. Although I look back and wish I would have made more of an effort ( life is about learning, right?). Of course, marriage does not seclude us from our other relationships, but it does change dynamics a bit in terms of shifting priorities and lifestyle.

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2. GROW. Being single, we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves while developing ourselves. During this time, it’s essential to devote to learning our hobbies, likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths, needs, etc. Why? For one, it helps married life in terms of communicating your needs and wants while you learn who your mister is. It’s hard to communicate yourself if you don’t know yourself. So why not invest in your future marriage by investing in yourself now. As ladies, we have so much more than we think to offer the world and our future husbands, and with a lack of confidence we minimize our potential. We don’t stop growing when we get married, of course, but it’s good to have a foundation prior to tying the knot. Growing in our identities develops self confidence. So, grow away…

3. Toilet Seat Down Happy Dance. It is a beautiful thing to walk in the bathroom with the toilet seat down, and should never be taken for granted. Seriously, something so minute will. drive. us. women. a. little. nuts! Thankfully it hasn’t been a point of contention with my mister and me as I’ve heard it has with others, but the point is to be grateful walking into the bathroom with the toilet seat down (do a little happy dance). It’s the little things, ladies.

4. The Grass is “Greener” on the other side Where You Water it. We all have heard the saying “the grass is greener on the other side”. I tend to disagree. It is greener wherever you water it. If all a single gal is thinking about is “When I get married everything will get better…” then marriage will be a complete disappointment. Really. Singlehood is not a lifestyle consisting of loneliness, distress, or deficiency. It is a time to explore yourself and the world. If you’re single, celebrate it and “water” it. In other words, seize the moments (large and small) of being single.

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5. EXTRA TIME. When you are married, there comes twice as much laundry, cleaning, meal prep, dishes, and the treacherous ironing . It’s true. No complaints here, but I wish I would have appreciated my extra time throughout my week as a single person. Think about it….your extra time as a single woman can be spent hiking, extra time singing in the hot shower, road trips with friends, or anything else your heart so desires at that moment. For me, it was soaking in the California beach with my iced coffee and magazine. So, take the time to enjoy your extra time…

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6. GOD HAS A PLAN. Last, but not least, the best part about being single is you are where God has you. Don’t be discouraged about your friends getting married and living “happily ever after”, or wondering “what’s wrong with me?”, or “Is God mad at me?”. In answer to these questions, our friends are on a different journey than us, there is nothing wrong with us, and surely God is not mad at us. Allowing these negative questions to bring doubt in our minds can possibly lead us to settle for someone less than who God has for us. Rest assured, God is preparing someone impeccable for you while preparing you for them.

Of course, there are more than just 6 Perks to Being Single. I simply hit a few that were close to home for me. Feel free to comment below and share another perk.

As always, thanks for reading.

Caffeinated Love,

Ceci

Easy Paleo Chicken Ceviche

Fresh veggies, chicken, and ripe avocados are my food love languages on hot summer days.

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Sometimes I just come home from work and simply want to enjoy a hassle-free dinner with my mister. You know what I mean? The kind of dinner that requires few dishes, little prep, and no oven use. The kind, however, that is still healthy, fresh, and delicious.

Yes, I admit this is me at minimum once a week.

So on days like these, I find myself whipping up my Easy Paleo Chicken Ceviche.

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Mouth watering right?

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It’s husband approved, doesn’t compromise our healthy lifestyle, and allows me a little extra time to do house chores or blogging. Can’t ask for a better evening.

Ingredients:

~ Half of a shredded rotisserie chicken

~ 3 small mashed ripe avocados

~ 2 diced roma tomatoes

~ 1/4 cup diced cucumber

~ 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

~ Juice from half a lime

~ 1/8 tsp chili powder

~ 1/8 tsp black pepper

~ 1/8 tsp sea salt

Side notes:

~ You can add onions if you would like. It’s not added here since I am an onion hater. It’s true.

~ If you are feeding 4 or more, you can use the entire chicken, add 3 small avocados (or2 large avocados), and double up on the seasonings.

~ This meal takes about 15-20 minutes to make, and also makes for a great topping over a bed of kale or spinach.

Recipe:

~ Combine mashed avocados with shredded chicken in a medium bowl

~ Mix in tomatoes and cucumbers

~ Add cilantro and mix well

~ Add in lime juice and seasonings then mix again

~ Try to devour with classiness

As always, thanks for reading.

Caffeinated Love,

Ceci

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Inside Look at the Original Starbucks

Starbucks has brought a whole new meaning to coffee through their branding, marketing, and easy- access cafes. I think it’s safe to say that across the board, we all enjoy hitting up Starbucks on the way to work, hanging out with friends or meetings, or to caffeinate for a road trip. There is something so lovely about having a hot (or cold) cup of tailored-for-you-joe with a Starbucks logo in hand.

Pricey? Yes. Over-priced, many would say. I don’t go as often as I did during my education days, but I still love my occasional venti skinni one pump vanilla latte.

That being said, one can’t tour Seattle, Washington for the first time and not make their way into the original Starbucks tucked in the heart of Pike’s Market.

Whether you are a caffeine junkie like me or not, the experience of sipping your favorite drink from this landmark is simply too enticing to pass up.

So here we are at the entrance of the Original Starbucks.

The line is out the door. No one seemed to mind the wait as we could all feel the touristy anticipation floating in the air.

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 We are inside!!! We were greeted by a barista and their beautifully arranged selection of tumblers, mugs, and coffee beans.

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Isn’t their selection lovely? I wanted one of each, really, but we found ourselves at the register purchasing a cup and our drinks.

Fun Fact: Since Aaron and I love coffee and travel often, we buy mugs from every state we go to. 
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Here I am with this handsome mister of mine waiting for our drinks.

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…..and we’re out. Couldn’t help but have him take my pic outside of the original Starbucks, and of course, being serenaded by the guitarist (on the right) was a bonus.
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The space at this Starbucks is limited with no seating area, and so we found some stairs about a block away. We sat to absorb the beauty of Pike’s Market while savoring the delish, custom-made brew. Oh, and we found a cheesecake shop on the way and, naturally, couldn’t resist the cheesecake pops it had to offer!

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Such a handsome man I have. :-)

Sooo moving forward a couple days, my parents and cousins came from California to meet up with us in Seattle. Of course, I brought them to this lovely coffee boutique to absorb this charming and exciting ambiance.

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Pros and Cons:

Cons

~ Not that this could be something to be changed, but it would have been wonderful to have a few tables and chairs in this shop to give us tourists a spot to sit and chill and enjoy this environment. I do understand, however, that this shop is pocket-sized  and this is not an option. I’m simply saying that this would have been a cherry on top.

Pros:

~ They are quick with their service.

~ Customer service was exceptional. Every barista was lively, and carried conversations with the tourists.

~ I can’t say enough about the environment. There was so much excitement and anticipation in the air from us tourists, and the baristas were feeding off of it. Everyone was having a great time and living in the moment of their holiday.

~ Lastly and importantly, my SVL was pure perfection!

As always, thanks for reading!

Caffeinated Love,

Ceci