Saturday, July 23, 2011

My first giveaway!

This Is The StuffLife has been crazy lately. Melting in our current heatwave, struggling to get back on track with my diet and exercise program, trying to find time to shop around for bargains instead of making a quick run to the convenience store, trying to lean on the promises of Jehovah Jireh instead of fretting about college tuition, insurance payments and credit card bills. (You would think that printing, folding and stuffing more than 330 bulletins each week, with Philippians 4:19 staring me in the face on the front of each bulletin, that I'd get the message!)

To quote Francesca Battistelli, "in the middle of my great big mess, I forget how big I'm blessed." A big blessing showed up in my mailbox this week, in the form of Robert Pierre's new CD, I'm All In. I had a chance to listen to some sample downloads of Robert's music earlier this year, and loved his voice, his musical style, and the message to his music.

I'm All InRobert Pierre is only eighteen years old, but here he is, with a new album -- and he wrote most of the songs himself! The songs are lively, the words are thought-provoking and challenging, and they were just what I needed, like the words of "Trust in You": I don't have the answer to what comes next. I can't see the outcome of my next step. Still my anxious heart and give me rest. 'Cause you are in control.

I've been listening to the CD for a couple of days, and I still haven't decided on a favorite song. Some appeal to me because of the music, others because of the message in the words. Robert said that all of the songs have something to do with the things he's going through in his life as he transitions from his senior year in high school to heading off to college. Having two girls who are also going through transitions, with Connie graduating from college at the end of the year, and Candy trying to figure out the next steps in her medical school journey, some of these songs really resonate with our family. I appreciate the way his music focuses on keeping your eyes on God no matter what path God is taking you down. 

Robert's CD will be released on July 26th, but you can check out samples of the music at Amazon before then: I'm All In Stop by Robert's Website (if you go quickly, you can enter his drawing for a guitar!) or his Facebook page

The Giveaway! 
One lucky person can also win a copy of Robert Pierre's I'm All In CD. To enter,  visit the CD's sale page on Amazon and listen to some of Robert's music, then come back here and leave me a comment to let me know which is your favorite song (remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you if you win). Giveaway ends Sunday, July 31st at 11:59 PM. Winner will be selected in a random drawing on Monday, August 1st. Limit one entry per person. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Robert's "I'm All In" CD mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gluten-Free Berry-Nut Muffins

I went berry-picking yesterday. It's still early in the season, so it was slim pickin's. I only got a handful of black raspberries, but then I discovered a tree with black berries on it! I picked what I could from the ground, but only got about a cupful.

This is a picture of the branch I broke off and brought home. I've got it in water, hoping it will take root and I'll be able to plant my own blackberry tree. According to an online tree identification site, it's a mulberry tree. You can see a couple of white berries on the stem over at the left.

So, this morning I had a cupful of berries, and felt like getting creative, so I took a recipe for chocolate chip muffins, tweaked it a bit, and made some Berry-Nut muffins that turned out really well.  Sometimes gluten-free muffins look a little too pale. With the blueberry yogurt, these browned up very nicely. Here's the recipe:

Berry-Nut Muffins
3/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
6-oz container Blueberry yogurt (I used Yoplait)
1 tsp vinegar
1/4 c oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup berries
1/4 c chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds)

Preheat oven to 350. Put paper liners in cupcake pan. Combine cornstarch, brown rice flour, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add yogurt, vinegar, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in berries and nuts. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

So far, so good!

It's 5 PM... I'm tired, stressed out and hungry, but I've stuck to my plan today. I had a healthy breakfast, only ate the on-plan foods that I brought to work with me, and drank plenty of water. As I'm typing this, the ice cream truck is driving by, and although I'm cringing at the distorted tones of The Entertainer, I'm not running out to buy a treat. (Well, the fact that I only have about 45 cents in change in my purse might have something to do with it...)

Before work, I got in a good workout by taking a 2-mile walk with Bob Harper and a bunch of former Biggest Loser contestants, including one of my favorites, SunShine Hampton.

I think the Biggest Loser Power Walk DVD is one of my favorite "walk inside" workouts. It starts out with Bob leading you through a one-mile walk. It may be only a mile, but it's tough. He throws in arm movements and jogging and really gets your heart rate up.

The second mile is led by Sione. He leads you through a series of exercises with weights in your hands. I did it with 5-pound dumbbells, and I was sure glad when he said it was time to put them down!

Bob is back for mile 3, which is a bit more intense than the first mile, and then Tara wraps it up for mile 4, doing some exercises with a weighted exercise ball. I use my smallest kettlebell, and it is tough to get through all the exercises!

The neat thing about the DVD is that there is a "marathon tracker" where you can keep track of your miles, and do a marathon over the course of a month.

2 miles down for me... 24 to go!