Blog

Survival Tactics to Living Abroad

Living abroad takes what we know as “living” and turns it upside down or right side up. It all depends on the perspective that you view it. 

Like a Child: humble yourself to view your new surroundings like a child. See it with open eyes. The world is what you make of it. If you choose to see it as full of possibility, then possibilities will appear.

img_3410Try a Little Something New: don’t be afraid of the unknown, embrace the unknown. When we try something new, we are signaling our brain to get ready for the challenge and push beyond our existing capacity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Again: It can seem so daunting. You’ve worked hard to build a community for yourself and then to leave it all behind. Many would rationalize what’s the point? The point is, we’re alive for more than ourselves. Everything has a season. It’s not all about us and once we realize this starting again doesn’t seem quite so bad. We must embrace the idea of starting again. Whether it’s learning how to live in a new community, understanding a local culture or just adapting to a new way of life.

Focus: you will become like whatever you’re focusing on. Think about what is good about where you are. If you’re unemployed you might have more time than ever to learn something new, train for a marathon or study a new language. FOCUS on what is good about your situation.

Hold Tight in the Process: yes it’s difficult, especially when you’re in a new place and attempting to create a routine for yourself. But stay focused in the process. Don’t give up because with each step you make you’re getting along the road. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination.

You’re Doing Better than You Think You’re Doing: you will not always be a beginner or brand new. Although the beginning stages feel so challenging, take hope. With each new day, you’re learning and growing. You’re doing better today than you were yesterday just because you have another day under your belt so you are one day wiser. Focus on the progress you’re making and not the lack of progress you have yet to make.

Encouragement for Your Soul with Rhythms and Rhymes

“You are special,

you are loved,

who you are, is enough.” (an excerpt from “Who You Are is Enough”)

It is my honor to share my new poetry book with you today! It is my hope that it will encourage you and remind you that you are loved, you are special and that you have a purpose in life! We need you in this world and there is no one else like you!

In my poetry book, Rhythms and Rhymes, you’ll find dozens and dozens of inspirational, feel-good poetry. If you’re looking for a little encouragement to remind you just how wonderful you truly are, then you’ll definitely want to check out my book!

I write rhythmic, rhyming, uplifting poetry from my heart and it is my hope that it will speak to your heart in a positive way.

You can find my poetry book, Rhythms and Rhymes for sale on Amazon today in a paperback and Kindle edition. If it’s not available in your country, and you’d like to purchase a book, please let me know and I will do my best to personally get a copy to you. Buy the book: https://amzn.to/2DCtn5F

I hope you know just how special you are and to those of you going through a difficult season of life right now, hang in there, you’re going to make it through this, don’t give up, a better day and the best is yet to come for you!

Sending love and warm hugs,

Erica

 

This is the Day of the Girl (an Original Poem) #dayofthegirl

Celebrating 2019’s International Day of the Girl with this original poem & spoken word performance.

Today is the International Day of the Girl. Championed by UNICEF, this day works to drive awareness and advocate for young girls everywhere. Considering the fact that I used to be a little girl, I think it is a wonderful cause and it inspired me to write and perform this poem today.

Photo Credit: Canva

Look Up

Whatever you’re doing, stop for a moment to look up.

Seriously, look up.

Now, what did you feel? What did you see? What did you think?

Sometimes, we are walking about so consumed by what we see in front of us, whether literally or figuratively, that we become consumed with our challenges and difficulties because we give them way to much negative attention.

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Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

We have to be willing to put things into perspective within the big picture of our entire lives. Even the major problems, fall into perspective when you consider your entire life especially if it is not life threatening; and let’s face it, most of us have problems that are not. Maybe your problem is that something in your life has come to a crashing halt. An unexpected end.

A job?

A relationship?

A home?

You’re looking all around you and all you see is rubble from everything that has fallen apart and come to an end. But in the words of an amazing woman, who I so admire, Kendra Scott, “it’s not over, this could just be the beginning.”

When you’re tempted to keep a horizontal focus, I challenge you to force yourself to physically look up. The action of doing so, just may trigger something in your brain to remind yourself, there is more than what you can see right here, right now.

A horizontal focus tends to leave us so focused on ourselves and our problems that we actually forget that there are people around us with problems too. We forget that even if we don’t have something to give financially, the warmth of a smile or the utterance of encouraging words can lift a person’s soul far more than money ever could.

Look up, my friend.

I triple dog dare you to look up.

Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start being thankful for what you do have. If you’re reading this post right now, you are insanely richer than you know. Just look what you have in your hands. Look at the fact that you’re still breathing. Look at the fact that you have something valuable and special to share with the world, just by being yourself.

Look up, my friend. Look up.

 

Why Settle for Happy?

Happiness is temporary but joy lasts a lifetime. – EE Winkler

We all love to be happy. It feels good. I once had a history professor that stated, “everything we do in life is to make us happy.” It stuck with me. I pondered it in my head and I realized that there was a lot of truth to his statement. But I still wondered, is it entirely true? Are there innately things that we intentionally do for others without seeking our own happiness? Or do we do the things, to make them feel happy, because making them happy, makes us happy? Ha! Do you see what I mean?

There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

But beyond the idea of happy, I believe that joy is something that can actually be a life’s ambition, a state of mind, a posture. When I think of happiness, I think of this fluffy, fleeing, feeling.

  • I am happy when I eat my favorite food.
  • I am happy when I finish my workout.
  • I am happy when the light turns green.
  • I am happy when I see a butterfly.
  • I am happy when I have a soft serve ice cream cone.

But have you ever considered, that living your life from the ambition of finding happiness, could be settling for so much less than what you were actually made for? What if we’re settling by striving to be happy? What if, joy is actual the greater ambition?

What is true about joy?

Joy can remain in pain.

Pain does not make me happy. I don’t think about pain and smile. But I can still have joy, even when I encounter pain. Why? For I am learning, that pain is just a tool that is used to transform me. And if I choose, it will transform me to make me better and not bitter.

Joy outlasts happiness.

The feeling of being happy, typically does not last very long. I find that no matter what people get or do that makes them happy, if you look at their face in a few hours, you’ll probably find them with a scowl on their face as they scroll down the screen on their phone. Is that what we’re really chasing? That fickle, fading, fluffy, feeling? Alternatively, joy is a state of mind. If we allow it, it can permeate everything we think about thus directly impacting everything we do. There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Joy demands the marathon, happiness commands the sprint. Most people do not have joy because it’s difficult and it takes time to build. It requires a humility that most of us don’t want to submit to. Joy beckons to take one step at a time and not giving up, while happiness wants to measure life in sprints. Happiness yells, “if I don’t get what I want then I’m done!” Joy whispers, “I know there is more than my eyes can see. I will take one step at a time and keep going.”

We don’t have to settle for “happy seasons of life.” Instead we can embrace a joyous life.

What will you choose?

 

 

 

 

©All Rights Reserved

How to Find Peace in the Midst of Pain & Suffering

Looking for peace?

You may not be in pain today, but inevitably, at some point(s) in time in your life, you will experience pain and suffering. And at times it might feel so intense, that you wonder, how it is possible to endure. But the good news, is that none of us have to walk through pain and suffering alone. There is a companion who is closer than a brother, closer than a friend, closer than a husband, closer than anyone and while you are suffering, He’s standing outside the door of your heart, knocking….knocking….knocking….to see if you will let Him in.

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Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

Religion has done an awful job at making God seem far off or making Him seem cold and distant. But the nearness of God is closer than your actual breath. The love of God was displayed when He traded the throne of Heaven to be wrapped in swaddling clothes in a cold, dark, stable in Bethlehem. No earthly king has ever been recorded to trade his throne of riches for a life of poverty because it is only the love of the Almighty God, that would cause such an action in order to make a way for His creation to return to Him.

For some, the Gospel of Jesus has become common place. They’re no longer moved by it. They’re no longer in awe of it. Their hearts have become complacent or hardened from believing. Truthfully, it is indeed a love that cannot be found upon this earth. For not even the person who loves you the most would endure what Jesus endured for you, nor would they be capable of doing so.

God in the flesh, beaten until nearly dead, unrecognizable for all of the beatings and lashings that He endured, then hung on a cross, naked for six hours, pulling himself up by His nailed feet just to keep breathing for every minute of those six hours. All the while, people walked by, mocking Him as He suffered on the cross for you and for me. The soldiers who stood nearby, divided His garments among themselves like a game.

We have never seen anyone crucified in real life. But it was gruesome and horrific. What motivated Jesus, to endure the cross and all the shame? You. Me. Every human being that has ever or will ever exist. His motivation was pure, complete and total love. He knew that there was no way that we could ever “earn” our way to Him or “work” our way to Him. There’s no laws or pillars that will ever amount to “earning” your way to God. No human being can do enough good that would make him or her acceptable in the sight of God. It is only through the cross of Jesus. It is only in accepting and believing, confessing and receiving Jesus as Lord, Savior and God.

He hung naked on a cross with His arms wide open and when He breathed His last breath, it wasn’t the end. He rose from the grave and He is alive. Only God Himself could do such a wonderful, love stained thing. Jesus is God. One part of the Trinity –Father, Spirit, Son.

If you think that whatever you have done has somehow made God not love you or accept you, I’ve got good news for you. God loves you and accepts you right now, just as you are. You might be full of selfish pride, or full of heartbroken pain, regardless, God loves you. No person is better than the other. God loves us all and accepts us all. Jesus paid the price for our sin. If you’ve lived longer than a day on planet earth, then you probably have figured out by now that you have sinned. And so have I. And so has every person. It’s why we need a Savior. It’s why Jesus came to this earth.

When pain and suffering come into our lives (and they will, in various degrees and various ways), we can either walk through it on our own and try and “cope” someway or somehow, OR we can reach out and call upon the name of Jesus. How true to His Word He is. When you call upon His name, He will not turn you away. He’s been waiting for you to turn to Him. Regardless if you’ve never called upon His name or if it’s been a long time since you have, or if you’ve never known the PERSONAL love of Jesus, He’s waiting for you. His love is up close and personal. It’s real and tangible. It is a love like no other. The only love that can carry us through valleys of pain, suffering and darkness.

We live in a fallen world and no person will escape the troubles of this life regardless of their status, wealth or name. There is only one name that is above it all and that is the name of Jesus. He wants to walk with you through the pain you’re facing right now. He wants to comfort you and give you His peace and joy. He wants you to know how deeply you are loved and accepted and cherished. You don’t have to push Him away. He wants you. You don’t have to wait until you go to a church building, He is wherever you are right now. You can meet Him, right where you are. You can tell Him your story and your pain and not live in shame anymore.

His presence, the presence of Jesus, is the blessing of pain and suffering. His nearness in a way that is unexplainable. His comfort through weeping that seems to never cease. His mercy to provide blessings in the midst of brokenness. His peace to calm and quiet our fretful minds to sleep at night. His love to cover over all our sin and embrace us in His arms. Oh beloved, take your heart and entrust it in Jesus. He will never break it. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has many good things in store for you. He wants to walk with you through this. His love can give you a good attitude, full of His joy even in the midst of suffering. Really knowing Him, makes you really love Him. I know I don’t deserve the love of Jesus and yet He loves me anyway. And you know what, He loves you too. Just as you are, disheveled, broken, smelly, fearful, however you are, He loves you.

Jesus wants you, do you want Him?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Hörnchen Little German Crescent Rolls

Soft, fluffy and a simple bread to prepare at home today.

There are truly a plethora of different types of German breads. If you have the opportunity to visit Germany, do yourself a favor and don’t pay for a hotel breakfast. Instead, do what the locals are doing and head to a Bäckeri (German for bakery).

For the recipe video, click the image below! 

Inside the bakery you’ll find plenty of bread rolls, loaves and sweet pastries for an affordable price. Even in big cities like Köln and Berlin, you can buy 4 or 5 Brötchen for only 1 Euro! Amazing!

However, the hörnchen is a little bit more expensive, but definitely worth giving a try, because it’s not that much more expensive. The texture is quite soft and fluffy. The taste is buttery with a hint of sweetness. With a bit of honey, marmalade, or nutella — it is a wonderful treat!

Not in Germany? No problem! This recipe is quite simple to prepare just about anywhere in the world. In fact, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry now. So what are you waiting for, let’s make some hörnchen!

Erica’s Hörnchen Recipe

  • 2.5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP melted butter
  • 1.5 to 2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

For the egg wash:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 TBSP milk

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, warm milk, salt and melted butter. Stir well.

Continue to stir and gradually add in the flour, little by little. Keep stirring until the dough no longer sticks to sides of the bowl.

Then turn the dough over onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, only adding flour if the dough is sticky.

Shape the dough into a ball and using a mezzaluna or a knife, cut the dough (like a pizza) into 8 equal portions.

One by one, roll out each portion into a long triangle, about 6 to 7 inches (15-17cm) long.

Then starting with the widest end of the triangle, roll the dough up until you meet the smallest end.

Then fold the dough to create the horn-shape or the shape of the letter “U.”

Continue until all of the hörnchen are shaped (grab some little helping hands if you have them:).

Then place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover them with a dish towel and allow them to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until they have doubled in size.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 375F/190C.

Once the hörnchen have risen, remove the towel and prepare the egg wash by mixing the egg and milk in a small bowl.

Using a pastry brush, brush each of the hörnchen generously with the egg wash.

Then place them into the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve and enjoy while they are still warm or save some for later.

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Guten Appetit!

P.S. Hörnchen literally translates to mean “little horns.” This of course is in reference to their size and shape.

P.P.S If you google Hörnchen from an English speaking country, Google might show you a picture of a squirrel. It’s because the word actually has more than one meaning. Go figure, lol! But not to worry, no squirrels were harmed in the production of these bread rolls. 

Sending you lots of love for reading this far 🙂 You’re amazing!♥

 

©All Rights Reserved

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant – Imam Bayildi

Tender eggplant packed full of tomatoes, onions and spices! Heavenly!

Love eggplant? Looking for a hearty & delicious vegetarian & vegan recipe?

Meet Imam Bayildi.

It’s a Turkish dish that I learned in culinary school and every time I make it, it brings me back to Turkey every time.

Follow along with me with the video below ⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓

Imam Bayildi literally translates, “Imam fainted.” Why?

  • Some say that it tasted so good that he fainted after he took a bite.
  • While others say he fainted because it was too expensive.

Imam Bayildi (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant)

Serves 2 or 4 (as a side dish)

  • 2 large eggplant
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 cups crushed tomatoes (about one 14oz can)
  • 1.5 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & black pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Wash and dry the eggplant. Then partially peel it lengthwise to create a stripe pattern.

Rub the egplant with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil and place them in a baking dish.

Bake the eggplant for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1.5TBSP of olive oil in a frying pan.

Add the sliced onions and saute until they are tender.

Then add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, and crushed tomatoes.

Stir well and cover.

Place on medium low heat to cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If needed, add some water to keep it from sticking.

Using a knife, cut a slit down the middle of each piece of eggplant.

Take two spoons and place them in the slit and gently pull open the eggplant on each side.

Then take the filling and generously stuff the eggplant.

With the remaining filling, pour it into the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the eggplant are tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olson!