Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Black Bean Taco Recipe

Happy Friday, friends! I was going to post this on Fit For More's new Facebook page, but then I realized it's been forever since I shared a recipe on the blog (or anything other than Marriage Mondays, really). So, here we are! Today, I want to share a favorite recipe of mine. It's a great way to get in some protein as a vegetarian, and a tasty way to have some Mexican food while still watching your health, too. Wins all around, yes?

Oh, and to keep things real honest, I eye ball when I make this. So the measurements listed below? They are 100% "I thiiiink that's how much I use?" status. Feel free to use what feels good to you. ;)

Black Bean Tacos

For 2 servings, you'll need:

4 corn tortillas
1 cup black beans
Garlic powder (I used this kind)
Olive oil (I used the garlic TJs brand)

Things that mix in well:

Bell Peppers


Step 1: Chop whichever vegetables you are choosing to mix in with your black bean tacos.

Step 2: Add a teaspoon or so of the olive oil to your frying pan, and preheat. When the frying pan is hot, add your chopped vegetables and black beans. Pour in a few tablespoons of liquid aminos, and a teaspoon of garlic powder. If you've never used liquid aminos before, it basically is a healthier version of soy sauce. No need to add salt with this delicious flavoring! Let saute for 5-10 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated. 

Step 3: Add tofu if you're including that. I prefer my tofu to be pre-cooked, and I'll be posting a recipe on that soon! Let saute over heat for an additional 2-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stirring will prevent the beans from sticking to the pan.

Step 4: Heat up tortillas, either over the stove or in a microwave. Pour a forth of bean / vegetable mixture into tortillas. And voila! Black bean tacos. :)

Even PJ approved of this meat-less recipe, so you know it's good! What are your favorite vegetarian recipes? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Marriage Mondays - On Marrying Your Best Friend

Growing up, I think I romanticized the idea of the person you're dating also being your best friend. I would say it with nearly every person I seriously dated, that they were "my best friend." And I would genuinely believe it, too. 

Looking back, I think a more accurate statement would have been that they were the person I spent the most time with at that time, or my favorite person to be around. It wasn't until I began dating PJ that I first experienced the beautiful merge of friendship & romantic love. 

Perhaps it was the long distance between us that led us into deep friendship, or perhaps it was just how our relationship progressed, but either way I am forever grateful for this aspect of our relationship now that we are married. Because now, I can say without any hesitation that I married my best friend. 

Romance gives me butterflies when I walk in the room, and friendship has me going to him for advice. Romance has us slow dancing in the living room, and friendship has me laughing at all of our inside jokes. Romance has us holding hands while driving along the 101, and friendship makes him my all-time favorite travel companion. Romance is what sparked our connection at first sight, and friendship is what gave me a deep sense of security in our relationship. 

Even in just our 6 weeks of experience, I can already see the importance of being intentional with both romance, and friendship. I see how easy it is to slip into the day-to-day routine without leaving room for romance, and I also see how important it is to have a foundation of friendship to help during arguments or "off" days. 

I am so grateful to have gotten to marry the man who caught my eye from across the room, but I am equally, if not more grateful to marry the man who has faithfully pursued both my heart, and my friendship. 


I am ending today's post on a question, because I'd love to hear it! What are some ways that you intentionally pursue both romance and friendship in relationship? A girl could always use some new ideas, right?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marriage Mondays - Trust & Control

One of the first lessons I learned about marriage is the importance of grace. "Extend grace" is one of the most common pieces of advice aside from "don't go to bed angry." And that advice becomes extremely applicable as you are learning each other's habits and preferences, noticing what ways you irk one another, and what unintentional ways you can hurt one another. 

Another area where grace is helpful? When you write a post for your "Marriage Mondays" series on a Tuesday evening, ha! Such is life, yes? Good thing there's grace. ;)

Today's post has to do with the 4 legged addition that came into our family last week, and how adopting a puppy reminded me of a valuable lesson for not only marriage, but faith in general. 

We adopted our sweet Koby boy from Santa Barbara's Dog Adoption & Welfare Group. Our apartment has a strict 25 lb. weight limit (we were so relieved Koby met that requirement!), so after some failed attempts due to hesitation at how big a puppy would grow, we decided to keep our options open and look at some full grown dogs. The first one we spotted was a beautiful year and a half old spaniel / dachshund mix named Woody. 

He had a gorgeous, long-haired coat (something I'm a total sucker for), and a seemingly calm demeanor. He looked perfect for us! We were nearly ready to fill out the paperwork before an employee came over & gave us some fair warnings on some behavior issues. Woody had already been returned twice, and they wanted to be sure they found the right owner to ensure he found a forever home. 

As she explained to us the type of training and atmosphere a dog like Woody would need in order to thrive, she said something that really caught my attention and stuck with me. She didn't emphasize the immense amount of behavior therapy that he would need, nor did she drill us on the extensive amount of training we would have to give him; she said, "with the right relationship built upon trust, Woody will learn to feel safe & respect boundaries." {Or something like that.}

She was saying that relationship leads to obedience. And that concept has stuck in my mind ever since. 

We didn't feel in the right place to step into that role in Woody's life, but we have stepped into that role in Koby's life. And I'm so grateful for that employee sharing those wise words with us, because it has helped me focus on building a relationship built on trust with my pup versus trying to control him. And in doing so, we have seen awesome results!

It was this past weekend that I drew a connection between this concept of dog training, and having a relationship with God. It's not only dogs that require trusting relationships, but us humans, too! For so long, I struggled with obeying the Lord. Now, I can see a direct correlation with my obedience of the Lord, and my trust in the Lord

As I began to trust the Lord, I began to obey the Lord without a second thought. If I trusted Him, what reason would I have for not obeying Him? Why would I struggle giving up control to someone I trust? Just like a dog can relinquish control to a loving owner, I can relinquish control to a loving God. 

And ding-ding-ding! That's when this lesson related to marriage, for me. Because as one can imagine, sharing your life with another human being involves a lot of giving up control. You go from having total control of everything in your life, to sharing it. You share your finances, you share your time, you share your food. The chores you used to do yourself? The ones that you didn't even realize you were particular over? Yeah, you share those duties now. Sometimes, you do them your way. And sometimes, he does them his. 

I didn't think I was controlling before, but boy! Do I see it with new light now. It's something I'm consistently working on, how to surrender control gracefully instead of forcing my hand, and my way. 

So this lesson? For me, it showed that if I have a loving, trusting relationship, I can joyfully yield control. My dog does not fight me for control of his leash, does he? And just as I hold the leash directing him, I know Who holds the reins in my life. So whether it's yielding control to my husband, or yielding control to my God, either can be done when I remember how much I trust, respect & adore them both. 

And on that note, another guy I adore? Koby. Here's a video of our first week together as a family of 3, if you'd like an extra dose of cuteness for your day. :)

Happy Humpday, friends! Thanks for reading. It blesses me more than I can say!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Marriage Mondays - The First "Fight"

Hi, friends! I got the idea a few weeks ago to start a weekly series called "Marriage Mondays", partly to hold myself accountable to consistent blogging (which I miss SO much!), and partly to chronicle our first married year. 

I always loved reading about the marriages of other bloggers during my single years; it was so raw & real, and yet HEALTHY too. It inspired me as to what to look towards in a marriage of my own one day, and I'm so grateful for those bloggers sharing their lives with little ol' me. It impacted me more than I could say. 

I can't guarantee the content of these posts, mainly because I can't guarantee the content of this first year! But what I can guarantee is an authentic look into how God is moving in the marriage of PJ & A. I can guarantee a transparent view of two human beings trying to merge into one life, and the simultaneous beauty & mess that can transpire as that happens. 

And, what I can guarantee the most is the mush & the gush of how insanely grateful I am to have Philip James Cosentino as my husband. Because boy, did I marry up. ;) 

I had a total vision for this first post. It was either going to be an account of our first married date night, or a letter to single me encouraging her to be patient. Both of which likely would have detailed the flowery parts of our first {almost} month of marriage, which would have been entirely accurate because boy have there been a lot of that!

But then, life happened. And I find myself actually sitting down to blog after an incident that taught me much, and deserves to be recounted. An incident that shows that for anyone like me or PJ, with a dating past that wasn't the healthiest, there are very real consequences for that. 

I don't mean consequence in a bad way, like a punishment; I mean more of a chain-reaction series of events. Our hearts get marked by dramatic times in our lives, and even though some people can walk through break-ups without a single scar, most can't. Most of us walk out with new emotional responses to situations that we may not acknowledge until they stare us straight in the face. Like mine did last night!

I don't get mad at PJ often, and when I do, it's often my own moodiness to blame. He is so dang wonderful at being a human being, that he's hard to get mad at. Don't get me wrong, I still find ways to get frustrated. It's just usually harmless things (most of the time that don't warrant frustration), so we move onwards from it quickly.

Last night, I found myself deeply angry at my husband. I put the word fight in quotation marks in the title because it was pretty much me fighting with myself, but my level of anger felt like it warranted the description of our first fight. And my level of anger was not warranted, given what happened. It was a simple absent-minded mistake of PJ's, having to do with miscommunication, that was in no way, shape or form intended to hurt me. 

And yet it did. And instead of responding with the buckets of grace that I would have liked to, I felt like I somehow time traveled 6 years in the past to 21 year old Amy handling relationship drama. I praised Jesus for removing alcohol from my life, because being at a birthday party, things could have gotten reallll sloppy. Or at least sloppier than sober Amy made them, ha! 

I couldn't put the pin point on WHY I was so angry, I just was. I was in a state of mind that the genuine words "I'm so sorry" couldn't even penetrate. And it wasn't until later in the evening that I realized that my anger 100% was a defense mechanism. I was not angry, I was hurt. And I was not treating PJ like my loving husband whom I trust with all my heart, but like my past. Like the relationships where I never felt stable & secure as I do with him. 

I share this to show that our marriage is just like any other marriage. We are two human beings coming together, and learning more about each other every single day. We are two human beings with nearly 25 years of life lived before we even knew the other existed. We are two human beings with triggers, scars, and lessons that came out of those 25 years of living. 

BUT, we are also 2 human beings that have been bought & redeemed by the blood of Christ. We are 2 human beings that seek to live transformed lives every. single. day. We are 2 human beings that know that we need Jesus more than each other. And in a world where the divorce rate is climbing by the minute, THAT is where my hope comes from that my marriage will not add to that rate. 

I am thankful for grace this morning. PJ needed it last night, and I did too. And thankfully, God never fails to extend grace like I did last night. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), and by His grace, we get to continue growing & learning how to move from the unhealthy situations of our past to the opposite. We get to take those emotional responses learned from the past, and retrain them. Because PJ is not my past, and I am not his. 

By the grace of God, we get to be each other's future. And that will have me happy dancing and raising all the praise hands into eternity.