Bowing your head before eating that burger

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Policemen praying before a meal-Pinterest

Note: This post is not meant at all to draw attention to myself and to my prayer life. I’m just sharing some insights I recently had on the topic of prayer in public.

Truth to be told, I often eat at home because in the cafeteria there’s way too much food on the tray and the consequences of eating too much at lunch time are usually seen in the afternoon: in 6 years of uni I took more naps in class than I can remember. However, yesterday, for the first time in a long time- a very long time, I had to eat at the cafeteria with some friends. As people sat and start eating their entrées and undertook the task of gobbling down their cheeseburger, I looked at mine. What do I do ? I want to thank God. The first Person that I want to thank, and honor before that meal is the Lord. I rested my head upon my hand, said a quick prayer in my head and as always, people started asked me questions: “Are you okay ? Do you have a headache ?” “I’m okay, thank you !”. Though I have the habit to pray silently when I’m alone, I sensed that I had taken the posture I usually adopt when I try to “shrink”, to hide; had anybody seen me he would have never known I was praying. Yet I pray even when I’m alone- I am not trying to display it in public for the sake of being seen. Prayer is an integral part of my life. After the last lecture of the day, I tried to recollect my thoughts.

Continue reading “Bowing your head before eating that burger”

My (very blessed) (really cool) week in pictures !

This week was one emotional week, packed with celebrations, friends and new happenings. This week, on Thursday, I skipped class to attend my brother’s doctoral thesis defense and, in the small room where he presented his thesis, was overwhelmed with emotion as we heard the professors award him the summa cum laude honor !!! My parents, friends and I were so proud as he pronounced the oath of Galen !

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My best friend, study buddy, inspiration and partner in crime, is now a PharmD !!!

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Celebrating our champion at the restaurant, a few hours later ! 

Seeing my father bow his head in prayer as my brother pronounced the oath was something incredible to see. I’m extremely grateful for all the joy that my brother has brought to my parents, not only during the graduation ceremony but also during his life. My brother has been so good to me during the time we lived together as students and grew to be a strong man during these years. Seeing the pride, relief and happiness on Dad’s and Mom’s face, during that night, is something I will never forget. They worked so hard to help us make it through these years of pharm… We are definitely blessed with godly, wise, caring, generous, extremely loving parents.

 

raclette

After the celebration and a good night of sleep, my brother had to return at his workplace for an early Christmas Party-which left me a few hours to study some immunology before I celebrate something else. Ummmm, in fact, there was nothing in particular to celebrate, it’s just that my friends and I never have the time to catch up, being in different programs, so it was about time that we gather again for our kind of food, raclette. Bring on the cheese, the cheese, the cheese, the cold cuts, and, I almost forgot to mention, the cheese. And the baguette. And the pickles. And the potatoes. And the mannequin challenge !! We ended the night with a hilarious mannequin challenge, and obviously one of the girls had to crack up every time I almost caught a perfect scene on camera.

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Today is a study day ! It might sound basic to a lot of people-especially if you are someone who is really organized and who plans everything in advancee, but I started to plan the day ahead as soon as I wake up. It takes a few minutes but saves you a lot of time and discouragement- I used to do homework and work on projects without much planning and scheduling and as the end of the day was nearing, I found myself discouraged, because I did not have a clear of idea of the progress I had done that day. Crossing items of your list definitely gives you a motivational boost !

me-running

Call CNN, Fox News, BBC, everyone !! I took up running ! In fact, I’m taking up crossfit-my brother runs marathons and IronMan and every sort of competitions; it was not always this way, however. We are not a family where physical exercice was something that important, and it was not until his 3d year of university that my brother started going to the gym, running, etc. Since we have flat feet, we have a small disadvantage when it comes to training but my brother is not the kind of person to find excuses and slowly but surely, began to run. 20 minutes. 40 minutes. 1h30. And then, a few years later, crossed the finish line of two marathons after 5 hours of running non-stop. He oftens says that he would get depressed without running, and today for the first time, I took advantage of the beautiful, foggy weather (nope, as an autumn lover, these words are not antonyms to me lol) and went for a run in the local part that is 5 minutes away from my home. It felt SO GOOD ! I went back home  energized, and wondered why I never started before ! If you have never done it, go ahead- you can thank me later.

Running across flamingos, peacocks, ducks and a wallaby makes the experience fantastic…

… And makes returning to work easier.

Thankful for this week mercies ! Have a beautiful weekend y’all !

My heart is heavy

rose

 

 

I am writing this post on Thursday because my weekend will, God willing, be very busy.

To be honest with you, I had scheduled in advance, for Friday, two articles. One on homemaking, and I thought of posting a recipe of those falafels I did for dinner tonight. But I decided to write something else instead because tonight, my heart is heavy. Sure, I enjoy all these things about homemaking and recipes and fashion and whatnot, but a few things happened this week that made me think, and made me sober:

I am working in a hospital, and my whole semester is about cancer. And everyday, I get to see patients who know, and I know it as well, that they only have a few months or weeks to live, and for some, they could die anytime. I will spare you the details but, though in medicine and pharmacy we have to take a kind of “distance” as to not be overwhelmed by emotion, in order to truly focus on our job… It is hard. We often have that illusion of immortality, we are so alive, and when you learn that soon, it will be the end, everything shatters in your head. You either deny it or face it, but my poor patients, do they have hope ? Do they know the Savior, and do they have hope ?

What made me ashamed about myself is that lately, it seems that I have made myself the center of my own little world and some aspects, was guilty of self-idolatry… And it was the words of an unbelieving friend at university that gave me a slap: “What I am seeing in the hospital, these days… It makes me think about life…What happened in Belgium… makes me sad…”.

I am truly guilty, sometimes, of wanting to lead a peaceful life free from pain and free from life’s reality -sure, I don’t want to live in a huge mansion in Miami and dress in Dolce and Gabbana, but even as I dream of a humble life, I find myself making the comfort of my home an idol, homemaking and my little routines idols, but till now I did not want to put a name on these things.

So tonight, as I am writing those words, I want to humble myself before our God and wake up. This life is not eternal, we are mortals, and at any time, we could die. As someone said, then, “Only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last“.

Oh, to not seek to achieve spiritual disciplines for the sake of being called “spiritual women, godly women”, just for entitlement ! Oh, I am so ashamed that often I am knowledgeable about many things when it comes to the spiritual realm, or the Christian “culture” but when it comes to the work of Christ, how little do I know ! How few my thoughts are when it comes to what He has done !

Maybe it’s about time, to start getting serious about these things. I am not talking about doing more as a quantity but maybe, at least for me, it’s time to start evaluating some things in my life, and some of my priorities.

As I come back from school, I often cross a glamorous place in the Centre-Ville.

 

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The said street.

There, you find all those French shops selling high-end clothes. All those lovely French cafés. Those restaurants that make us all proud of our culture Francaise. Yet it breaks my heart to find that in the midst of all this architectural beauty, there are TONS of beggars in that street. And it kills me to see that we have made food an idol, especially here in France, and do not care for our poors the way the early Christians did: they fed everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, with such love that even the last pagan emperor of the Roman Empire, though he hated them, could not but admit they were full of good deeds. As Leonard Ravenhill said, the early Christians did not have all those huge churches and technologies and ministries and all those things yet they turned the world upside down. We have so much, and at least in my case, I do so little.

Truly, as somebody else said, prosperity does more harm to the Church than adversity does. You see that in the Proverbs, I think:

“give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9) 

I clearly remember that when I went through hard things in my life, it is there that I cried for God. That when I lost everything and everyone, when my little crystal castle shattered, God was my only refuge. But how careful are we to be when we have a lot… The cares of this age (Mark 4:19) are like ropes around our necks. You just finished eating, and before you are done with the last bite, you are scrolling down endless pages on Instagram looking for more food, instead of giving thanks. Instead of being like John the Baptist, who was happy that he could decrease so Christ would increase, we constantly worry about what people are thinking about us, as if we were the center of the world ! What a culture of narcissim we live in !

And I wonder, is all what I am doing just wishful thinking and pretty thoughts put together just so I would publish another post on my blog ? We talk SO MUCH these days and do SO little !

So this is it. I would love to apologize for this post with randoms thoughts here and there, but my intention was not to make a Pinterest-worthy post here. I wanted to express my thoughts: maybe it’s time, to take life seriously, to realize that there is pain in the world, maybe it’s time to go down on our knees and to pray, for real, and not out of boring duty, maybe it’s time, to wake up, and follow the Savior, and pray that others would come to know Him as well.

In the kitchen: my first Challah !

I clearly remember that Friday night, during our summer vacation last year, when we met some elderly people from Israel. They had just celebrated Shabbat and wanted us to try the Challah, the braided bread they traditionally have before dinner. I heard numerous times about it and saw pictures on the Internet yet it did not seem appealing to me: it reminded me of the heavy French brioche which my mom would buy us for school when we were kids.

This week, I was determined to bake my first bread. I have no idea how I thought of Challah but I remembered that Friday night, when that old architect handed me with a big smile a piece of that bread, I tasted something that was approximatively the culinary incarnation of a childhood dream: eating a cloud.

(Yea, weird: I imagined that if one could eat the moon, he would eat something like a cookie and clouds could be a more dense version of candy floss. It’s called imagination).

Challah has a crust that is sure to please even those who remove the crust from their bread because it is so thin, and the inside of the loaf is to DIE for: it’s so fluffy and moist, I ate plain chunks of it but I imagine it would be the perfect match with everything: jam, butter, Nutella, and toasted, I think it would make a really good bruchetta or french toast.

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Can you see the clouds ?

This recipe calls for honey (like most Challahs I guess) and I though I added 3 or 4 spoon of a very strong thyme honey a friend brought us from Greece, it just gave it the sweetness that made the loaf so decadent; if you really want a sweeter version of a Challah I think you would have to add more honey or even sugar…

 

In the kitchen: thai chicken

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Ladies… Y’all know that feeling when you’re finally able to replicate that dish you were drooling over at the restaurant once, right ?

It just happened tonight as I cooked this Thaï chicken stew I once had at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant…

 

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The well-known Pho I eat every time I go there
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The dreamy decorations…

Thanks to this restaurant, l’Indochine, I discovered two things: spring rolls, which I thought were bland and tasteless because in the great majority of Chinese/Asian buffets, springs rolls often consists in a sheet of rice rolled around a pound of noodles with a piece of chicken and a leaf of lettuce.

Boy I was wrong. At the Indochine, they make sure the beef in their beef spring rolls and bo-buns was coated in a citronella/lemongrass marinade and it makes a world of difference ! Oh, and they also put fresh mint leaves everywhere, in the Pho, the shrimp spring rolls, so that adds lots of flavor too and helps you digest the big roll you just swallowed.

The other dish I had there that led me to try my hand at replicating it was one of those hot main courses they serve under silver “cloches”. It was a thai cod simmered in a coconut sauce and served with rice, and I.was.smitten.

For this recipe, I replaced the cod with chicken and roughly (I never measure when it comes to food), I chopped one onion and sautéed it in a pan with olive oil, a garlic clove, one small bell pepper; I added the chicken, a bit of chili sauce+ red chili pepper powder, half a can of coconut milk, a bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, and the secret ingredient… Lemongrass (learn how to slice it here). What I love about this “herb” is that it gives to the dish that “lemon-y”, “citrusy” flavor that will not disappear in the sauce but stay distinct from it- from a gustative point of view it adds texture. Serve with basmati rice and bon appétit bien sûr !

 

 

 

 

In the kitchen: vegan mayo

 

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Most of the time when I cook vegan/vegetarian “meat” with tofu, I don’t try to persuade people it tastes something it does not.Oh, of course, I once had tofu which, after a little trip in a plate full of flour and then into a frying pan, tasted like chicken nuggets but to be honest -it was a special tofu, stuffed with crow garlic that made it-well, special.

Tofu is tofu. Soy milk is soy milk. You can’t have your cake and eat it too (as a Frenchie I never got the point of that expression, I am buying the cake to eat it- what’s wrong with English guys ?!).  You become a vegetarian, though there are more and more bloggers that aim at recreating a “dupe” recipe of something, you either have to have a lot of time, imagination, exotic ingredients and perseverance to create a perfect replica of an authentic chicken. 

Today, my opinion on that slightly changed. I woke up at 5 AM and had a very busy day. My mom, who by the way is from Middle-East, saw that after the exams I shed a few pounds sent me a ton of food including real chicken. I had to have mayonnaise with it. And just for the challenge (and also because I never tried a real mayo-only the store bought one, which is a shame for a French), I wanted to try a vegan mayo; and for one of the first times, I had a vegan product which not only tasted exactly like the real mayo, but it was better: lighter yet still creamy. No picture here because the lighting was not good enough though ! I made the first recipe here and added a bit of pepper and garlic powder. To be honest, I think anyone who will try this recipe will never come back to the store-bought mayo.

Blogs I follow: food, homemaking, and other cool blogs

Recently, I decided to compile all the useful ressources in a list that I am posting here on my blog, just because I think that nowadays, the temptation to use every.single.app. in the world can make one waste a lot of time. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook…Sometimes, the quest for a recipe become an endless wandering on your phone or your computer, and instead of really doing “real stuff”, you just spend hours and hours contemplating what you could do…without never doing it ! I really want to be wise when it comes to time management. Though I did not get rid of my accounts by deactivating them, I recently got rid of the Instagram and Pinterest App on my phone. And, instead of having my energy being spread everywhere, I choosed to stick to a few good blogs ! Here we go 🙂

Let’s eat !

  1. Oh she glows. Mostly vegan recipes !
  2. Une végétarienne presque parfaite (French)
  3. Cléa Cuisine (French)
  4. Paris-Alep (Syrian food…in French :/ Sorry guys you can’t beat French and Middle-Eastern food, hence the lack of english blogs)
  5. Cookie and Kate (oh, look, another cookie 😉 )
  6. VegrecipesofIndia

Cleaning up

Here are a few tools I use when it comes to my cleaning routine.

routine

Found on Pinterest. I really need schedules- without them I’d attempt to do everything in a day instead of divide up the work.

-Since I am trying to find natural alternatives to conventional cleaning products, I found a website full of tips-(french) and another one here (english) on how you can make your own cleaning products at home with products you already have (vinegar, essential oils). When I’ll have time, I hope to print them and put them in a “homemaking binder”.

Fun stuff

Here are a few blogs I’ve been following-just for fun:

  1. Blessed Femina, by Miss Jen- one of my favorite
  2. Maid for More
  3. Living for Jesus. Katrina had a tremendous influence on me and she’s probably one of the sweetest women I know.
  4. I’m no Angel. Kylie Bisutti is a former Victoria Secrets model who became a Christian. You can know read her blog posts on her blog- I also read her eponymous book which is really great !

Ballet

Everyday, my workout consists in doing a bit of fitness-ballet. It helped me a lot with my posture and I can do it every morning at home, which is great because I would not have the time to go to the gym anyway. Don’t let the word ballet fool you though, it’s harder than you think !

That’s pretty much everything for today. Nothing fancy, but I’m intending to simplify my life and not waste it on social media- so I’d rather gather everything in a list that I can access easily via my blog 🙂

Have a lovely weekend !

Stéphanie

What my plate taught me today

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Google

This year, as I mentioned in a post once, I had to slightly alter my diet and, without making it an obsession either, I began to make healthier choices, reducing my consumption of certains foods, even, for some of them, make them almost disappear from my menu and only have them on special occasions. I now feel better than ever and while in the past, the idea alone of parting with some of my favorite snacks and dishes would have been inconceivable, today, I’d say it is the opposite: what seemed to me to be a sacrifice and a restrictive diet solved some problems I had- and if everything goes well I will not go back.

And today, as I was eating lunch, I was thinking about something. I am careful to pick the right ingredients and I follow a scrupulous meal plan type. Some of my family members who have type I diabetes have to be even more extra-careful about what they eat, and when they eat it, because what they eat will have a tremendous impact on their health, and -as one of my professors told me, what a diabetic patient eats not only influence his sugar levels today, but how he eats will, for a great part, determine the severity and the degree of medical complications he will be likely to suffer from later in life.

So here we are, being attentive what we put in our plates: the extra spoon of sugar. That gluten-free bread. That pinch of salt.

But how do we care for our souls ?

On what kind of spiritual bread do we feed ? What do we put in our “spiritual” plate ? When it comes to nutrition and science, opinions vary and nutrition is not always, depending on our body type and environment and dozens of other factos, an exact science- but when it comes to our spiritual life, do we feed on what we know for sure are toxic foods ? Lethal foods ? Do we feed on the Word of God or on what the world has to offer us ? Are we careful to not set our eyes on things that are harmful for our souls ? Things that, when watched on TV, read, seen, will stir our affections for bad things ? Or will we set our eyes and minds on “things are true, that are honest, things that are just, things that are pure, things that are lovely, things that are of good report” (Philippians 4:8) ?

In the kitchen: fancy desserts made easy (and vegan)

This year, I altered my diet a bit and became a part-time vegetarian.

Or a flexitarian, if you prefer.

The dreaded word. Vegetarian. The first time I heard that word, I was something like 8-9 years old, and when an adult in primary school told me that she did not eat meat because was vegetarian. And I clearly remembered thinking two things:

-I pictured her eating, every single day of her life, a bowl of lettuce leaves and tomatoes

-How can she live without a cheeseburger ?

A little more than a decade later, at 22, I am the one happily eating lettuce leaves and trying to eat less ditching cheeseburgers.

Surprisingly, this unexpected turn of events happenened for no reason: one of my friends is a vegetarian -for ethical reasons- and she just challenged me to use grains, cereals and vegetables to develop new recipes. Challenge accepted. I was bored with the perennial steak/chicken breast with a small side of rice and salad and realized that I was not eating enough crudités. So just for fun, I started decreasing my meat consumption and sooner than expected- I coped without meat, and pretty well, I must add. I only have meat on week-ends when I visit my parents and family. And when it’s sushi time because raw salmon is one of the best thing in the world.

I really enjoy the way I eat now, I’m more creative in the kitchen and, being a student- it’s easier and faster to prepare than a 36-courses meal.

Another thing that changed (and for good) in my diet is that I now got rid of dairy products. I am not a doctor, but I noticed that when I went a little overboard with cheese (and little is a euphemism when it comes to French people !), I had less breakouts and my now my skin looks better than it ever did: even my younger sister, who used to make fun of me “She only eats veggies and tofu“, told me a few times that my skin looked nice after years of breakouts.

So I recently tried to make vegan desserts-and recently I added two recipes to my list:

This vegan, dairy-free avocado chocolate mousse: don’t let the avocado scare you away- it won’t taste like guacamole. Avocado absorbs the cocoa powder and you won’t even know it’s there. I did it without coconut milk/cream- simply blended the cocoa powder, honey, and pecans with the mashed avocado.

– You know those coconut balls/pearls you microwave in Chinese buffets ? I finally found, in a nearby Asian store, the glutinous rice flour the recipes calls for and ended up with nice pearls- my friend prepared the filling by mashing in a mortar canned chesnuts with sweet potato and honey. It was easier than expect, quick, fun, and a bit messy, too ;). In this recipe, I did not add the peanut oil or any oil for that matter, nor sugar for the coating- coconut was enough and I did not want it to taste too sweet..

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Here is the finished product !