Daily Archives: September 5, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama ~ DNC Speech Video: ‘Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it’

CHARLOTTE—First Lady Michelle Obama never once mentioned Mitt Romney’s name. But in her speech before the Democratic National Convention speech Monday night, she offered a dramatic contrast between her husband, Barack Obama, and his Republican opponent, insisting he understands the struggles of average Americans because he’s lived through those tough times, too.

“Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it, and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love,” Michelle Obama said. “He believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

It was a speech meant to bolster her husband’s legislative accomplishments — and it did, as the first lady touted the president’s push for health care reform, the auto industry bailout and efforts to keep down student loan interest rates.

But not unlike Ann Romney’s speech on behalf of her husband at last week’s Republican National Convention, Michelle Obama also sought to humanize the president, and to remind voters of the working class background she and her husband came from. With tears in her eyes, she spoke of her father, a pump operator at a Chicago water plant, and how her husband was raised by a single mother and by his grandparents.

“We learned about dignity and decency — that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself. We learned about honesty and integrity; that the truth matters; that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square,” she said. “We learned about gratitude and humility; that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean, and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.”

Those are the values they are trying to pass on to their own children — and values that inform her husband’s job as president, she said.

“After so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are — it reveals who you are,” said Michelle Obama. “As president, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.”

Her husband, she said, “is thinking about folks like my dad and his grandmother” and is “thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work.” It was a line meant to push back against Romney’s claims that Obama doesn’t understand how to create jobs because he’s never worked in the private sector. But it also offered a subtle contrast between her husband and Romney, who came from a well-off background.

She spoke of the student loan debts they incurred as a young married couple: “We were so young, so in love, and so in debt,” she said.

And she spoke of her husband’s skills as a father — which she insisted have been unchanged even despite the pressures of the presidency.

“People ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago,” she said, her eyes wet with tears.

Pushing back against GOP charges that her husband is driven by politics, Obama insisted there is no “us and them” for the president, that “he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or none of the above.”

She told voters her husband never lets himself “get distracted by the chatter and the noise.” He just keeps “getting up and moving forward,” she said.

“He reminds me that we are playing a long game here, and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once,” she said. “Many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.”

That has been the story of the American dream, the first lady said. “That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, and so many other American stories possible.”

BarackObama.Com

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Strawberry Cake

Next to pineapples one of my favorite fruits is strawberries. I remember growing up and my home ed teacher, Mrs. Burns would sell this extra large cupcakes after school for $0.75 cents. Without fail every afternoon she would sell of this delectable delights of lemon, vanilla and strawberry. So this past Labor Day weekend I decided to re-visit an old friend, the Strawberry Cake. So as our farewell to summer until 2013, we celebrated with a delicious, scrumptious strawberry cake.  It was fresh, fruity and full flavor.  Just like I remembered.

Ingredients

Strawberry Cake

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed; Reserve 1/4 cup for frosting
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup reserved strawberry puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
  • 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • red food coloring, optional
  • Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

3. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

4. Time to make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the reserved strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth.

5. Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

*Chef’s Note – 1) You can use fresh or frozen strawberries. If you use frozen, let them defrost first and then place in a food processor and pulse until pureed. If you want puree to be seedless just run through a medium-sized strainer to remove the seeds.

2) Some chefs avoid using red food coloring, I did however add some food coloring to achieve that perfectly pink color. If you don’t care about getting the pink color, feel free to leave it out. I used about 5 drops, but you should add them one at a time until you achieve the color you are looking for.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cake

Now you know I love me some peanut butter and chocolate. And any way I can get, I have it. This cake is so rich & so delicious. Don’t forget the milk. You will definitely need it! It’s like having a BIG OLE’ peanut butter cup in your mouth.

Ingredients

for cake:

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Devil Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

for frosting:

  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese, soften
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, soften
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, chopped (optional garnish)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (on chocolate cake mixes I love to use cocoa instead of flour) two 9 inch circle cake pans.

2. Place cake mix, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla and oil in large mixing bowl. Blend on low for 1 minute, scrape bowl, and blend on medium 2 more minutes. Batter should look thick and well combined. Lightly coat chocolate chips with flour and fold into the batter, making sure they’re well distributed. Pour batter into greased and floured pan.

3. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched and cake just starts to pull away from sides of pan. Place on rack to cool for 20 minutes.

3. While cake is cooling make frosting. In medium bowl beat the peanut butter, cream cheese and unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, whipping cream and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Beat well and continue to add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time  mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and it reaches your desired consistency. About 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Now for the  assembly, place bottom circle on cake stand or plate. Spread top with 1 cup frosting. Add the second circle to the top. Spread the rest of frosting on sides and top of chocolate cake. Carefully garnish cake by pressing chopped peanut butter cups into frosting. Chill for a few hours, or overnight, before serving. Serve & Enjoy!

*Chef’s Tip – This cake benefits from some refrigeration due to the cream cheese & heavy whipping cream in the frosting. It helps the entire enterprise of cake while melding the layers together. Maybe an hour. Not a lot. Or forget it and just dig into the cake. Perfect slices are for when you need to appear fancy. Get over it and just eat the darn thang. Nobody really remembers how good it looked. Just how good it tasted.

Relaxing Detox Bath

I always did take and love baths growing up. And then college came along I turned into a shower-head. Well like I had a choice. Anywho, while on the quest of having better health I ran across the benefits of detox baths and thought this would be a great escape. I quickly discovered that a detox bath is thought to assist your body in eliminating toxins as well as absorbing the minerals and nutrients that are in the water. But most importantly, it will leave you feeling refreshed, renewed and awakened. Even if it’s only for a little while.

Who knew? Our parents sure did (LOL). That’s why we slept so good after a hot bath from a long day of play. And if you grew up in the era I grew up in; We stayed outdoors. So light some candles and pour yourself a glass of wine. It’s time to relax & melt your cares away. All in the name of DETOX that is!

Practically Functional Detox Bath Recipe:

1/3 C Epsom salts
1/3 C sea salt
1/3 C baking soda
2 1/2 t ground ginger
1 C apple cider vinegar

I hope you all enjoy and let me know how the detox experience turned out for you? I know you are going to love it!
Love You Much, Sunshine =)

How To Overcome An Addiction To Fast Food

Fast food has become a regular way of life for many people. Recent controversy over how unhealthy fast food is has led many individuals to start looking for effective ways to break their fast food habits. Regardless of why you indulge in your fast food addiction, it is important to understand that you can break the habit if you are willing to really put the effort in.

Examine Your Eating Habits

Step 1: Assess how often you stop at fast food places.

  • A) Is it every day or several times per week?
  • B) Do you find that your on-the-go lifestyle lands you in the fast food drive-thru more than once per day?

Step 2: Consider what time of day you are stopping at fast food restaurants.

  • A) Do you grab a quick bite during your lunch break?
  • B) Do you pick up a meal on your way home from work because so you don’t have to go home and make dinner?
  • C) Does your morning routine include a fast food stop for breakfast on your way to work?
  • D) Do you experience late night cravings that prompt you to get in your car and drive to the closest fast food place?

Step 3: Think about why you make the fast food stops. Identifying the underlying cause for your fast food addiction is an important step in breaking the habit.

Begin With Acceptance

Step 1: Review your examination of your habits to determine whether you have an addition. Like just about any addiction out there, it is important to first recognize and understand that you do in fact have an addiction. Without acknowledging that there is a problem, you cannot get the help you need.

Step 2: Accept the fact that you may need to alter your eating habits.

Step 3: Acknowledge that you may have a bigger problem than you realized. For some people, it is an actual physical or physiological addiction that may require much more effort to curb rather than just accepting and altering diet and eating habits.

Start Investigating

Step 1: Begin adding up all of the money that you spend on fast food. Try saving the receipts for a few weeks or pay only with a debit card so that you can total your fast food expenses. Chances are that you will be surprised to see how much money you are actually spending. Consider how much you may be able to save by purchasing food that you can prepare yourself at home.

Step 2: Count all of the calories that you are consuming in the foods that you purchase from fast food places. Compare the ways that you can cut back on calories by preparing your own meals at home.

Step 3: Examine what foods you are craving. Do you have a strong desire for cheesy products, dairy items, or red meats? If certain foods seem to be on your list of must-haves, it may be your body’s way of telling you that it needs that particular ingredient. This can be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency or from poor nutrition.

Step 4: Keep track of how often you are craving specific items. If there seems to be a pattern, you may want to discuss it with your health care provider in order to rule out any possible deficiencies.

Plan A Strategy

Step 1: Consider how you will fulfill your needs once you stop frequenting fast food places. Plan out what foods you will purchase from the supermarket to replace your fast food meals.

Step 2: Look at exactly what foods you are buying. Chances are that there are healthier options available for just about everything you are eating. Take the time to read and compare the food labels in order to choose the healthiest option available. It may be time consuming at first, but once you come to learn what the best choices are, shopping healthy will really be no different than your usual trip to the market. Keep in mind that the fresher the item, the more nutrition it offers.

Step 3: Alter your normal purchases by changing things up and opting for healthy snacks. In order to incorporate the healthiest options, you need to replace that bag of chips with a bag of nuts.

Step 4: Expect possible withdrawal symptoms when you stop eating certain foods or ingredients. Removing excess sugar from the body can leave you feeling tired. Lack of caffeine when the body is accustomed to it can lead to a headache. Know that your body will adjust to the change after several days.

Eliminate

Step 1: Begin by removing soda from your beverage intake. For many individuals, this may prove to be the biggest challenge. Avoid all forms of soda. Diet and caffeine- free sodas are not really any better for you than regular soda. If this step proves to be very difficult, start off slowly. Begin decreasing the amount of soda you consume by replacing a few drinks here and there with a healthier option. Continue substituting other drinks for your soda until you are able to eliminate soda entirely.

Step 2: Stop bringing unhealthy snacks into your home. Replace as much junk food snacks as you can with healthy options. By incorporating new choices and eating them often, you are allowing your tastes to adjust to new flavors. You may actually come to have some new favorite snacks that are good for you.

Form New Habits

Step 1: Carry healthy snacks and drinks with you. Remember that you are trying to take the edge off your hunger. You do not want your snack to be your meal. If this proves to be a challenge for you, try bringing along a limited amount to snack on.

  • A) Keep healthy, convenient snacks such as nuts or trail mix in the car.
  • B) Purchase a small cooler if necessary. This is a great way to avoid a stop at a fast food place. Keeping it stocked with some yogurt, fresh fruits or carrots and ranch dip can help you to control your hunger until you are able to get home for your meal.

Step 2: Limit your indulgences. If you absolutely must have something that you know is not really good for you, try to keep the portion size small. Purchasing a single portion size rather than an entire box can be effective.

  • A) If it is not possible to purchase small sizes and you are forced to buy a large portion, eat only a small amount and toss the rest out. You will want to eat it if you see that it is still available.

Step 3: Stay away from all-you-can-eat offers. Many individuals find that it is too difficult to avoid overindulging. Many people think that they have to get their money’s worth and choose to eat until they are so full that it is actually uncomfortable. All-you-can-eat buffets make most people want to sample a little bit of everything. This almost always leads to eating much more food than is reasonable.

Step 4: Stick to your plan and don’t give up just because you are having a hard time. An occasional lapse is no reason to beat yourself up. If you fall off the wagon, try again and get back on track with a bit more effort this time. It does get easier as time goes on.

TIPS

  1. Slowly eliminating one unhealthy food at a time is a gentle way to start cutting junk food out of your diet. Going cold turkey and cutting out all unhealthy food items at once can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as headaches and irritability, and makes you less likely to stick to your plan.
  2. If you and your friends are addicted to fast food, you can all give it up together. This way you will have less temptation than if your friends are chomping away on burgers in front of you. You may look into groups or networks of healthy people to surround yourself with to provide support through this important stage of life.
  3. Recommended reading: “Fast Food Nation”, by Eric Schlosser. This book gives you a sense of fast food’s effect on your health, and also its effects on the global economy, agriculture, immigrants, etc. You’ll think about this book when you feel tempted to go to the drive-through.
  4. Consider setting rules for yourself that will make fast food less convenient. For example, if your favorite fast food place is a long way away, only allow yourself to buy fast food if you walk there instead of driving. Not only will you get a healthy walk in if you do give in to the craving, but it will make cooking your own meal seem easier than the fast, greasy alternative.
  5. Putting some numbers to your fast food habit might make the reality sink in. Estimate or keep track of how much money you spend and how many calories you consume each week or month on fast food–it will shock you.
  6. Don’t treat this (or any dieting) a punishment or a hardship, otherwise your regimen will never last. The trick is to replace something that you may like with something healthy that you will like even more. Make this switch slowly, one piece at a time (for example, start by laying off the food court at lunchtime, or avoiding snacks between meals.) Make a small, but real change, and then move on to something more ambitious. Remember that you want this to be an entirely new lifestyle.

Source: wikiHow

Photo To Inspire

Keep Pressing On

Posted by Victoria Osteen on 9/4/2012

You know how some people just always look like they have it all together in life? One thing I’ve learned is that trials and difficulties affect all people. No one gets a free ride or a “hall pass” from challenges in this life. If someone is making it, if they are on top of the mountain, it’s because they are pressing.

In Philippians 3:13, Paul said it like this, “There is one thing that I do, forgetting the past, I press forward to what lies ahead.” He was saying, “I don’t care what’s happened, I’m pressing forward. I don’t want to become complacent. I don’t want to get stuck; I’m moving forward.”

This isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s a fight. There is effort involved in pressing on, but with effort comes success. Resistance will come against us all, but we have the choice to either stand still or fight life through!

Scripture calls this the fight of faith—and it’s a good fight. Do you know what makes a good fight? When you’re on the winning side! You know that you’re winning as long as you keep on going—keep pressing, keep praying, keep declaring, keep forgiving, keep obeying His Word. You have to stay in the game if you are going to win!

The enemy will try all day long to take you out by reminding you of what happened in your past. He’ll remind you of every time you made a mistake or said something wrong. He’ll attack hard on the battlefield of your mind. But do you know how to stand against those negative thoughts when they come? By simply speaking the truth of God’s Word. See, you can’t speak one thing and think about something else. Your thoughts have to follow your words. That’s why Matthew 6:31 says, “Take no thought saying (what shall we eat or what shall we wear)” because when you say something, you are taking hold of it in your heart. If you speak words of worry, you will take hold of worry. If you speak God’s promises, you take hold of God’s promises.

Today, I encourage you to take hold of the good things God has in store for your future. Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on speaking the Word of God over yourself and your family every single day. Take hold of the truth. Bind it to your heart. Let it nourish and refresh your soul. As you press forward, you’ll receive the victory and blessing God has in store for you!

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV)

Copyright © 2012 Joel Osteen Ministries

Our Daily Bread – The Hidden Door

Read: James 1:12-21

It wasn’t the first time it happened in sports, and it certainly won’t be the last. But perhaps mentioning it again can help keep us from making a similar shameful error.

A college coach—one noted for his Christian character—resigned in disgrace after it was discovered that he had violated rules clearly spelled out by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. One magazine article concluded: “His integrity was one of the great myths of college football.”

This was certainly an embarrassing time for the coach, but here’s the most sobering part: It can happen to any of us. The temptation to go behind the hidden door of secrecy in our lives and do things that dishonor the Lord haunts us all. Indeed, we are all capable of turning our own integrity into a myth—of turning our testimony for Jesus into a sham. No matter what the temptation, we are all vulnerable.

So, how do we avoid giving in? We acknowledge the universality of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). We recognize the dangerous results of giving in to sin (James 1:13-15). We keep accountable to fellow believers (Eccl. 4:9-12). And we plead with God for help not to fall (Matt. 26:41). Only God’s grace and power can keep us from falling and pick us up when we do.

The devil is clever, deceiving us all,
He cunningly causes the strongest to fall;
But we his sly methods are sure to discern
By making God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan
Each sin has its door of entrance; let’s keep that door closed.