Starting a Home Renovation

The House on High Street

During the past 2 weeks, we have been doing more “behind the scenes” work in preparing for the renovations of The House on High Street. Such as… completing loan applications from a few banks; interviewing contractors; building a portfolio of ideas, meeting with an architect, making dozens of lists (from budgetary to DIY project lists); and of course, arguing over just about every detail (we are learning how to have productive arguments)… 

Batteries Not Included - Lessons Learned from Romantic Relationships

Extraordinarily Yours

I am by far no expert when it comes to romantic relationships. I’ve probably caused more headaches and heartaches in this department than the ordinary woman.

I was reminded of this today at my annual check-up at the doctor’s office. I had to complete a New Patient form because my husband and I have recently moved back to the same area we lived in two years ago. As I checked off the married status I chuckled to myself thinking of how, at one time or another, I could have checked off just about EVERY STATUS on the form.

20 Not-So-Talked-About Characteristics of WOMEN

Extraordinarily Yours

Hey Girls. Name that movie. You is KIND. You is SMART. You is IMPORTANT. 

Yup- That extraordinary line, that would become a classic quote, had most of us in tears or covered with goose-bumps. 

And why is that? I’m curious. Did the character, Aibileen Clark, inately know that the southern privileged young toddler of a pristine, rigid, self-absorbed mother could possibly misconstrue her true identity and end up not living the life God had planned for her?

(Oh, in case you missed the film, that line is from the movie The Help. And every woman NEEDS to watch this movie.)

Personally, I am eternally grateful that both of my parents told me, as I was growing up, that I was Kind, Smart, and Important. I believe God helped me to put this treasured blessing to good use. In turn, as a classroom teacher, I sincerely tried my hardest to remind my students that they were extraordinary, as well. And when I became a school administrator (for 5 short-lived years), I made efforts to remind the teachers how important they were for their selfless, dedicated work- day in and day out, with children.

It just so happens, that God feels this way about us whether our parents, teachers, and bosses tell us or not. But still, the world has a way of opposing this truth and often successfully misconstrues our knowledge of who we really are. As a result, a woman may not ever come to terms with some truths. 

God has given me a heart for children and a passion to encourage women. God put it there! It’s why I love kids…and why I love teachers. And it’s probably why I taught kids and supervised teachers. My heart led me to these 2 influential positions in which I could try to bring out the best in others.

God brought so many needy children, weary teachers, and broken women in to my life. In spite of my loving and pampered childhood, God allowed me to experience my own share of brokenness as I entered adulthood. So, now I can fully understand (and hope to see as LE Woman grows) that God truly does distribute blessings and lessons so that He can help us help one another. He is in the business of working ALL things together for good, ladies. If you don’t see that today, choose to open your eyes, and you will see this, in time.

Romans 8:28 says:

GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE HIM. AKA The goodthings. The bad things. The blessed things. The embarrassing things.

Anyway, there are times when I’ll say to someone, I’ll pray for you. I try to remember to write down that particular prayer need. Obviously, this list has grown from when I first started offering this kind of service a few decades ago. So now, I dedicate specific days of the week for specific prayers. There is one day each week (Thursday, for some reason) that I pray, solely, for my friends.

Recently, I realized that God had given me a deeper level of insight of the women who were on my prayer list. These women, these wonderful women, share some very extraordinary (yet potentially crippling) characteristics. I realized that some of us are battling day in and day out in ways that we may not even realize. And quite frankly, I think I may need some help with all these prayers.

But for now, I figured I’d write up a list of some of my personal insights and perceptions. Do you fall into any of these descriptions?

  1. Some of us are tired. We are putting more than 100% into one area in our life thus having nothing left for ourselves.
  2. Some of us are working too hard. Trying so hard to meet expectations that we may not even be able to do.
  3. Some of us are NOT taking good care of ourselves. Or possibly we are over-obsessing in how we look over how we feel.
  4. Some of us are disappointed and/or angry…perhaps even at God. We question about our circumstances…”Why me?” We cannot let go.
  5. Some of us are not really in to church or even learning about something beyond what we see, feel, experience- right now and today. We find the bible, church, religion, or faith to be boring or even irrelevant in our current times. So, we just try to be “good” citizens, moms, employees, etc. and hope that it’s enough.
  6. Some of us are trying to be authentic, but settle to just fit in with whatever seems accepted by our counterparts.
  7. Some of us are still waiting to feel validated and appreciated.
  8. Some of us hate aging. And some of us are never satisfied with the age we are RIGHT NOW.
  9. Some of us are pushing our bodies to defy the way our bodies may look naturally. And we forget what is “reasonable”.
  10. Some of us are not in touch with the way we really feel- Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually, Mentally. And if we realize that we are struggling, we don’t know how to help ourselves.
  11. Some of us absolutely love our husbands (or the hopeful idea of our future prince charming)…But either not enough or a little too much– to the point that we look to him for EVERYTHING. When the truth is, there is a part of our heart and soul that ONLY the one who created us can fulfill.
  12. Some of us are constantly negotiating with the clock. We are desperately trying to cut corners; Kill two birds with one stone. And if you take up more than the 5 minutes that we have for you…you can actually ruin our entire day…or week!
  13. Some of us are rarely able to fully enjoy the moment that we are in. We are either waiting for the next thing to come, or we are looking back to the yester-day in which we believed (at that time) it was too late. And as we are realizing this, we forget that we should make the most of our current moments. 
  14. Some of us have regrets on bad decisions we made in the past. We feel ashamed as if we are the only ones that made mistakes or poor choices. Isaiah 43:15-25 tells us GOD TELLS US TO FORGET THE FORMER THINGS! DO NOT DWELL ON THE PAST! HE IS DOING A N-E-W THING! HE IS MAKING A WAY IN THE DESERT! AND EVEN GOD FORGETS YOUR PAST AND YOUR SINS! 
  15. Some of us don’t feel God’s love and can’t understand, if there is a God, why we suffer? Why we lose our loved ones? Why we can’t find husbands? Why do we lose our babies or never even have them to begin with? (This is where we need to wait on God’s perfect plan. Isaiah 29:11.)
  16. Some of us are anxious and fearful of letting go of our children and/or losing control of our husbands. We are afraid of the world. And we fear that if we let go, something bad will happen.  (Look up John 16:33)
  17. Some of us are afraid of being vulnerable and/or truly honest in who we are, what we want, what we’ve done, and/or the feelings we have inside. And we feel better off and safer if we are guarded and independent. And to the other extreme… There are some of us who are too vulnerable. With the wrong people.)
  18. Some of us are magnetically drawn to stories in which women (usually beautiful) are living luxuriously or adventurously…getting fame; getting fought for; getting even; getting thinner; getting a record deal; getting a wedding dress; getting…something… that we do NOT have.
  19. Some of us are not content with ourselves… our lifestyles, our circumstances, and/or our relationships. We wrestle with any so-called notion that WE ABSOLUTELY CAN LIVE EXTRAORDINARY LIVES…RIGHT NOW!  
  20. Some of us still want to feel like a little girl in some ways. Maybe in how our man treats us. Or, perhaps we still wish that our own dad loved us more. (Matthew 18:3-4 reminds us that God wants us to be like children – In the way in which children are innocent, vulnerable, hopeful, forgiving, and EASY recipients of love.)

Ok, I’ll stop there.

Wow, that was a lot.

Can you relate to any of these characteristics? A few? Most? ALL?

On a personal note, I have made a choice to be honest with myself and address the characteristics that hit home for me. God helped me do that, and we are still working together on the ones I need to admit, forget, adjust, let go of, or just let it happen. This has been the best detox experience, ever!

Let’s get truthful. Ask God for help. And, pray for one another to live the way HE intended for us to live.

And, remember…

You is SMART. You is KIND. And You is IMPORTANT!



Rachel Maria's Modified Version of Chef John's Maple-Brined Pork Loin


**Rachel Maria modified this (already delicious and suitable) recipe by The Chef John, found here:

**Total Prep Time: 8-10 Hrs (6-8 hours to refrigerate Pork Loin in Brine Mixture)  

Rachel Maria’s Modified Version of Chef John’s Maple-Brined Pork Loin


  • 2-2.5 lbs. Pork Loin
  • 4-6 Cups of Water
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato Paste
  • ¼ C. Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Ground Gineger
  • 2-3 Tbs. Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbs. Rosemary
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • Dijon-Syrup
  • 3 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 3 T Maple Syrup


  1. Combine Brining Ingredients in a large bowl or container.  Whisk together.
  2. Submerge pork loin in water mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°
  4. Remove pork from Brine mixture and gently pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Salt and pepper both sides of pork loin.
  6. Add 2-3 Tbs. Vegetable Oil to a cast iron (or oven-proof) skillet.
  7. On Med-High heat– Sear both sides of Pork Loin (3-5 minutes each side).
  8. Remove garlic cloves from Brine liquid and add to skillet (Discard remaining Brine Mixture)
  9. Transfer skillet to oven (uncovered)
  10. Cook for approximately 25 minutes/pound.
  11. In a small bowl, mix Dijon Mustard and Maple Syrup which together makes “Dijon Syrup”.
  12. After 40-45 Minutes: Remove Skillet from oven.  (Be careful NOT to touch the pan without oven mitts!)
  13. Pour the Dijon-Syrup on top of the pork.
  14. Place back in oven for another 10-15 minutes OR once the pork reaches an internal temperature between 145-150.
  15. After removing the pork from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Rachel Maria suggests serving this with Spinach & Fresh Garlic and Sweet Potatoes. Enjoy!

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours


Snickers & Squats - Achieving Balance in an Unbalanced World

Extraordinary Living, Health & Fitness

Sometimes, on rare occasion, I am asked for my take on diet & exercise. I usually assert my personal tongue in cheek phrase, Snickers and Squats.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I have a very healthy appetite. I can out-eat most men. I’ve entered several All-You-Can-Eat Wing Bowls- Once, against a large group of high school boys (as their church youth leader) and eh hem, won first prize. And yes, I am often spotted holding up buffet lines with my second helping of dinner or dessert. What can I say? My appetite is EXTRAordinary.

Last summer, my husband and I were at one of our favorite breakfast places on the outskirts of Margate called Hannah G’s that makes ridiculous Belgium Waffles. One morning, as we were enjoying our breakfast at our table outside, a line formed alongside the pavement with several hungry patrons.  A group of women were staring at me, as I plowed through my waffle, with my mile high whipped cream and berries. (And yes, syrup, too.)

At one point, one of the ladies sarcastically asked my husband, “So, let me guess…that will probably be her only meal for the day, right?” Scott looked at me (at this point my face was half-way buried in the whipped cream), then replied, “Umm no. She’ll still eat a lunch and dinner…and probably more after that.”

There was silence. I’m presuming they were either shocked or unsatisfied with his reply. I wasn’t fazed. I have grown accustomed to the sarcasm over the years. But, I can’t help it that I eat more than ordinary. I am 5’10”. I will at least admit and agree that this most certainly is an advantage and most likely the reason why I eat more. I have more cells than someone with my exact measurements who stands 5’5”. So in my perspective, I legitimately have more cells to feed.

Interestingly, I have always sought balance in my life. Even as an awkward frame-less adolescent. I used to wake up at 5am on Saturday mornings, turn on the TV in my bedroom, and follow this corny exercise program called the 20-Minute Work-out. Does anyone remember this show from the 80’s? With the girls and their feathered, frizzy hair… and leg warmers! I did this ridiculous regime most Saturdays for as long as I can remember. And, I didn’t even have a butt or boobs to firm up back then. But, I guess in my wacky head I was attempting to “balance” my over-indulgence of food with my sacrifice of 20 minutes every Saturday. Come to think of it now, that hardly seems equitable.

As an adult, I have pretty much done it all (exercise-wise) to compensate for my affinity towards calorie consumption…from Aerobics Instructor, to Personal Trainer, to Mixed Martial Arts Aficionado. I eat well. But, I actually enjoy burning off the calories. Therefore, my personal mantra of balancing snickers and squats while maintaining a fairly healthy physique, has been working for me.

However, there are more than just calories to balance in our lives. Like anyone else, I need to work at balancing the other resources in my life, such as my time, my dollar, and my energy. And there are many areas in my life that have suffered due to an imbalance of resources.

My loved ones will undoubtedly testify that I was guilty of expending too many resources (of time and energy) at the workplace. As a result, my health suffered. My marriage suffered. Anxiety, frustration, and insomnia became the daily norm for me. I was extremely unhappy and depressed. And I never felt rested, caught-up, or even content. I had to fall hard before I was even consciously willing to let go. It was an extremely painful recovery before I accepted the changes that I so desperately needed to make. This was not as easy as compensating snickers with squats. Please don’t make this mistake, my friends.

Which brings me to a few questions for you. How are you doing with balancing your life? Are you spending too much time, energy, or money in one area and completely neglecting another? Are you taking care of your health, exercising in conjunction to calorie consumption, and feeding your mind, daily with HEALTHY material? Are you balancing your budget and living the life-style within your means? Are you making time for important relationships? Are you reserving some energy for yourself and enjoying your interests or hobbies?

I know I need support to balance these areas. Will you support me as I support you in achieving a balanced lifestyle? And while you’re at it, give me 10 squats and I’ll share my Snickers with you.





PS In her book, Becoming the Woman God Wants You to Be, Donna Partow provides an inspirational 90-Day Challenge with extraordinary tips and relevant advice on achieving a balanced lifestyle. She addresses every practical area from household management to retirement planning. Her book was one of several books that I have read during my personal hiatus that has helped catapult me from a difficult time period to my decision in initiating the LE Woman Network. You can try a sample read on your Kindle by visiting:


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