New Recipe Alert: Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine

I love fall for the fall flavors, colors, and opportunity to experiment with new recipes paired with favorite foods. Carrot fettuccine is one of my favorite recipes to prepare in that it’s so easy, fun, and healthy and it gives you a great way out to get you to have your kids eat their veggies out there to all the mamas who have a struggle getting their kiddos to eat their veggies. You can even include your kids in on the activities by having them help you with the fettuccine pieces whether you choose to use a spiralizer to cut them up or with a knife.

My recipe was relatively simple. I just used some of my favorite spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder) and sauteed other vegetables and cut up about 2 whole carrots into shreds that resembled fettucine or thinner versions of carrot sticks.  And because I am an eggplant lover I added some diced eggplant to the recipe as well to add another portion of protein and some different flavor profile and taste to the recipe.  I then added a tomato sauce with a mushroom to my veggie sautee and let it simmer to absorb the flavor. This was my 2nd or 3rd time making this particular recipe but it was so yummy, cozy, and filling.

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Diced eggplant. I used this to use half for this recipe and another recipe that I made later on that night.
Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine
Cutting up the carrots to fettuccine length or style
Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine
Before sauteeing. Cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms,eggplant, and onions
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Finished product! So yummy!

What are some of your favorite fall foods that are healthy but still delicious?  I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment or message below!

Growing in Grace: The Journey of Healing through Rejection, Abandonment, Disappointment and Unmet Expectations

This has probably been one of the hardest blogs I’ve decided to write, partly because I rationalized with myself for the longest on how I would write it and whether it was even worth writing. Truthfully, I wrestled with God and myself because I didn’t think I would have the strength or emotional ability to write this. But then, God got me together real quick and made me realize that this life is so much greater than me,  and my feelings but it’s about helping others through their journeys, especially when I’ve been in that place myself and am still here to tell the story to someone else.

This journey doesn’t really have a beginning, middle, or end and that is mainly because emotional healing doesn’t have a definitive end or beginning. Only the person experiencing those emotions can say when they are ready to transition from the very things, people, places, and experiences that caused them pain. But here I am and here we go.

Describing this particular place in my life, a scripture and quote come to mind and proved to be the very writings on my own personal wall of life experiences.

Proverbs 27:6 NLT

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

“In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

This became painfully relevant for me as of the last couple of months. I greatly value my spiritual relationship and have been making a concerted effort to cultivate a very intimate and personal relationship with God. I had finally reached a place in my faith and within my faith community that I was open, loving, ready to spread goodness and joy to others. I was experiencing the fullness of life that I had heard so much from others, was the foundation of their burgeoning relationship with God.  Life was far from perfect in my own assertion,  but I was confident and ready to face it with my faith guiding me every step of the way.

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Photo Credit: Thelmathinks.com

 

Then life came at me head on. Unexpectedly. Without warning. Ripping away everything that I had considered a constant and something or someone I could depend on. I felt burdened by the weight of my own expectations for myself and what life was currently producing for me.  Although I understood that God still remained supreme in my life and was in control, I was just trying to make sense of things spinning relentlessly out of control.  While I understood his will and purpose for my life,  I struggled with him about some of the events I was experiencing, and if they were actually turning out for my good. There were few people who could empathize with the sense of failure that created in my head, and my steady push to do better for myself. Those who could empathize were out of physical reach and supported me emotionally.  But it still was a tough period to travel through, especially with what felt like uncertainty hanging over my head daily, and weighing on my heart even more intensely.

In addition to dealing with my own issues, and doing my best to stay positive and keep going, keeping the faith, and believing the best, my grandmother passed. Anyone who knows me knows that my grandmother and my maternal grandparents were near and dear to my heart. In the midst of  trying to hold it together for my mother and help her remain strong, I started looking to something that helped me keep going in the toughest of times: my faith and my faith community.

God NEVER FAILED ME. NOT ONCE.  I began to understand, appreciate, expand and look at our relationship in a new light. I began to see him as the loving, faithful, merciful, gracious, good Father that I had read that he could be in my Bible.

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Photo Credit: Kirzart.com

However, much to my surprise, my faith community much like all human beings will do from time to time, left me with a mix of varying emotions, all with some degree of pain attached to them. The long and short of it is that I felt that after hours of spending time together, discussing faith concepts, praying for one another, breaking bread with, feeling loved, and what I believed at the time was acceptance. Then this eerie shift happened.

I suddenly felt nothing but rejection, abandonment, disappointment, and unmet expectations in a time that I really wanted, needed, and hoped for more but got less than I ever could have expected. I expected and waited carefully and  quite patiently for someone to show something more than a shallow expression of forced concern but it never came.   It was like a dagger was driven into my heart. I didn’t quite understand why people who claimed to love me never asked,  “How are you? Do you need something, anything? Are you mentally holding up? How can I be there and walk through this with you?”  It hurt me, in ways that I never imagined that I could hurt. I was so confused because while all the interactions felt real in the midst of doing life with my community, my recent reality had me questioning whether I was tripping, whether I imagined it, or if it was all fake.  A mere mirage. Smoke and mirrors.

It was so lonely, heart wrenching, and heart breaking, just because I had so many unanswered questions. I didn’t understand why a community that I had given myself tirelessly to, took a position of indifference and a laissez faire demeanor towards me. I kept racking my brain to figure out where the breakdown happened, and what I could have done differently.  And I allowed myself to feel this hurt and walk through these emotions. But after feeling terribly, I decided to not unpack and live there. In the midst of all this, I learned and discovered a few wonderful things.

  1. I learned a new level of compassion I probably wouldn’t have realized for others going through difficult times
  2. I realized who was in my corner and fostered a new level of respect and  gratitude for them. I even fostered some new unexpected relationships with people who stepped up and filled the gap in ways that I never could have anticipated during this difficult time.
  3. I began to look at my relationship with God in a new light and realized that he was not like people and still wanted me to spread his love, compassion, concern, and joy as well as,  message of redemption to others.
  4. Everyone has a different capacity to love and to not hold others accountable and feel like there is a fault in you, because others can not meet the level of love you expect from them. Let God’s love be the cup that you receive from and then pour into others.
  5. Don’t create expectations for others until they have demonstrated that they are actually capable of achieving them. Unmet expectations can breed frustration and therefore you can break your own heart.
  6. In difficult times, cling to God like crazy and he will fulfill your needs and give you the strength to endure and heal your broken heart.
  7. Learn to forgive yourself and others, especially with the apologies that you often times will never receive. It’s more for you, than it is for them.
  8. Keep trying and keep going. Everyone isn’t going to hurt you. Even those who hurt you may not be doing it out of malicious intent but just out of an inability to emote in an appropriate way that you need them to, so accept that and release it.
  9. The pain will stop, you will get past this moment, and you will be able to assist someone else and let them know that they will get through this as well and reassure them that they are not alone.

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While I am not 100% assured of where this leaves me at this time, I can say that I am learning to walk with God through this period and allow him to lead me to a place of full restoration and finality surrounding this situation.  I pray that God helps those who feel like a man or woman without a country due to not having a reliable faith community to turn to, and that God mends those broken relationships.  I pray he also continues to turn the hearts of his people towards true brotherhood and sisterhood to their fellow brothers and sisters, both in good and tumultuous times.

I pray this ministers to someone who is going through a difficult period and feels alone. I pray that God covers you in his unconditional love and that you remember and are reassured that God is close to the broken hearted and crushed in spirit. I believe that by making myself vulnerable and transparent someone can be guided from the pain of darkness and into the beauty of light.

I would love to hear from you and hear your comments or thoughts so please feel free to comment or leave me a message below!

Foodie Files: Hidden Gems Jax Edition- Jax Beach Brunch Haus

It’s Sunday Funday and we all know what that means. Brunch and relaxing! Jacksonville has an awesome foodie scene that’s way too splendid to not be a part of. My latest hidden gem was Jax Beach Brunch Haus.

I stumbled upon this hidden jewel by chance as I had an appetite built for destruction today and was ready for some quality wholesome food. And boy did they deliver.

Hands down, excellent customer service, good food and great vibes. Live music. Beautiful ambience and a very relaxed but inviting hipster style vibe.

A perfect brunch spot if you want something filling but not too heavy, with locally sourced foods, a great selection of items, great smoothies and awesome cocktails. For today’s selection I had a Paradise City with Hash, T. W. Mexicali and a Southern biscuit.IMG_6686IMG_6687

I didn’t wait long for my food at all and it was quality like everything had been prepared to order and of the freshest quality. All the staff had a warm and inviting demeanor, and the restaurant itself had a very down to earth homey vibe. I am going to make it a plan to check out their espresso and coffee options next time but it is definitely worth a second and third look. You get great helpings for the price and I even had enough to take home leftovers.

The restaurant was formerly know as The Loving Cup Hash House but may be under new ownership and brand management.

I am always excited to find new restaurants that I love and this one will be another that I make a return visit too as well.

What are some of your favorite Jax Foodie finds? I would love to hear from you!

New Recipe Alert: Thai style pineapple mango rice with homemade mango sauce

I just love Thai inspired food and tonight I got a strong craving for pineapples, mangoes, and shrimp so I decided to get into the kitchen and make my own version of a traditional fave Thai dish: pineapple fried rice.

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Thai mango and pineapple inspired rice

Although my rice was not fried it still had the same effect and was still just as yummy. I used a basic rice with seasonings and scrambled two eggs, sauteed veggies, pineapples, and mangoes, and had already sauteed and seasoned the shrimp.

I was really inspired and wanted to try my hand at making my own mango sauce from scratch which turned out really yummy and did not require a lot of ingredients to make. A simple set of about 12-15 diced mangoes, lime juice, and a dash of organic cane sugar. ( I usually buy mangoes from the frozen food section as they are already cut and maintain their nutritional value and are easy to use in that form) I pulsed the mango sauce mixture in a food processor until it reached the desired consistency and allowed the shrimp, veggies, and fruit to simmer.

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Homemade mango sauce!

I also added some black beans for a little extra protein and because beans are a common staple for me when I cook.

After combining all the ingredients, I drizzled the desired amount of the mango sauce and served. Talk about yummy, filling, and a lot of fun to make! In addition it was only about 30 minutes of less that it actually took to prepare this meal and I have leftovers too! For the win!  What are some of your favorite Thai dishes? What are some of your favorite recipes? I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

OOTD: Poofy skirts, high heels, and turbans

Happy Sunday! How are you guys?!?! I am so thankful to kind of be getting back to my normal self because it has been a crazy  and tough couple of weeks! I am so thankful for anyone that comes across this page as well, the support and love is GREATLY APPRECIATED. But onto the outfit of the day! I don’t know about anyone else but there is something about the weekend that just puts me into a very chill mode, so much so that I don’t really touch my hair just throw it into a satin scarf and figure it out on wash day. Thus the fact that I LIVE in my turbans on the weekend. Not only do they keep my hair protected but it helps me still look fashionable and put together no matter where I go.

 

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Turban: I honestly have had this scarf that I often use as a turban for so long I don’t even remember where I got it from. But it’s one of my favorite pieces. I think I may have gotten it from Target years ago but I truly cannot remember.

Blouse: Touchdolls.com  This blouse is so fun because you can dress it up or down and it’s so lightweight, fun, and versatile.

Skirt: Choies.com from a bulk order. By far one of my favorite sites to shop from. They truly have some of the best pieces for prices that don’t break the bank for my budget conscious fashionistas and it’s all really great quality and most things can be hand washed. This skirt is so fun, feminine, sophisticated, and chic all at the same time.

Heels: Michael Kors.  I bought these heels about 3 years ago on a clearance sale at Dillard’s in Tampa. They are truly fashionable, fun, feminine and just a great piece that you can dress up or down if you love a nice structured stiletto.

Accessories: My accessories are a mix of Alex and Ani, Bourbon and Boweties,  Kate Spade bracelets and a bracelet that I inherited from sweet granny.

What are some of your favorite pieces that you love to bring together for a relaxed but chic look for those days you need to dress up  but still want a relaxed chic that’s put together? What helps you feel comfortable but pretty? I would love to hear from you!

Foodie Files: Hidden Gems Jax Edition

So it’s been a while but here I am again. I am trying to be consistent in posting here at least once a month (if not more) and I wanted to share some of the recent foodie files that I’ve stumbled upon in my area.

I absolutely love finding new restaurants and especially trying new foods.

One of my most recent finds is Monroe’s Smokehouse BBQ. When I say this place is amazing, that doesn’t even begin to properly explain it. Everything about this place is spectacular. From the great customer service to the food. I haven’t had anything that wasn’t tasty, well seasoned, flavorful, and fully satiating to your palette and appetite.  Best of all EVERYTHING is made from scratch.

My favorite dishes are the macaroni and cheese, sweet potato souffle, and collard greens. I’ve only had the ribs and smoked wings but everything always smells so yummy so I would safely assume that the rest of the meat options are equally as appetizing.

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Featured in this picture are the smoked wings and sweet potato souffle as well as the macaroni and cheese. The sweet little heat sauce is AMAZING!

Monroe’s has several locations throughout the Jacksonville area and they also boast a pretty awesome food truck that makes its rounds around town so it’s definitely worth the effort if you’re in the area.

The next restaurant that I stumbled upon was the Blue Fish Restaurant and Oyster Bar. I was really in the mood for some really good seafood and wanted to try something off the beaten path. This had so many positive reviews when I looked it up that I had to give it a try,

Again, another really excellent choice all around and I am sure I will be back before it’s said and done. It’s nestled nicely between the Murray Hill, Avondale, and Riverside Area so it boasts a very quiet but beautiful atmosphere and just as beautiful ambiance on the inside. Great service and almost all options are based upon seasonal availability or the local market which I also love because you can literally pop in and try something new every time so it gives it a new yet authentic feel every time that you go.

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First let me say these fried green tomatoes were not only yummy but surprisingly a great way to start the meal. An unexpected start to a wonderful meal and the roasted red pepper goulis and goat cheese set it off just right.

IMG_5980Next up, it goes without saying that summer is the best time for sampling new dishes and enjoying great drinks. BY FAR, one of the best sangrias in town. Flavorful, good distribution of wine and fruit and not too strong where it sneaks up on you but just enough to be able to enjoy the meal or ambiance and so you can relax. And it subtle enough so that it doesn’t take away from your meal itself.

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The grand finale. Herb crusted snapper with jumbo lump crab, seasonal veggies, orzo and rice, with a side of their famous white cheddar macaroni and cheese.

Both of these restaurants are fast becoming two of my favorite spots to stop in when I am mood for eating out but as always the exploration continues. If you’re ever in the Jacksonville area, make sure to stop into both of these wonderful hidden gems, you’ll be glad you did!

Wanderlust: North Florida Edition

So I have a bit of a wandering spirit and love to see the beauty of God’s creation pretty much wherever I can find it. I had a chance about a month or so ago to have a bit of a staycation because sometimes you just have to get away to get away.

Here are a few highlights from my trip to the Palm Coast/ Mantasas Shores, and Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.

Washington Oaks Gardens is full of beautiful gardens, hiking trails, an amazing gazebo and just a chance to be in nature and relax if you just love nature like I do or just need to get away.  Truly a beautiful place for a date, wedding/engagement and maternity photo shoots (saw several people doing such during my trip) and just in general a serene beautiful environment that is available to you for the low cost of under $10. Any other frugal Farrahs out there who look for inexpensive ways to entertain yourself or your family?

On the opposite side of the national park is a beautiful beach that is not super crowded and  boasts some of the most beautiful coquina rock you will ever bear witness to. I mean it literally looks like something dropped straight from a picture. This was a perfect day of self care, spiritual renewal, fun, relaxation, exploration, and just in general a great way to get away from it all. It was too good to not share!

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Washington Oaks Gardens 
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Gazebo at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park 
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One of the fountains throughout the garden section of the park 
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Beautiful trees near the entrance of the park, not sure what type 
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Entryway leading to more gardens and a beautiful photo opp 
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Beach side of Washington Oaks Garden State Park/ Mantasas Shores/ Palm Coast 
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My first time seeing coquina rock 
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More coquina rock! SO AMAZING!