Tag Archives: Family

dear Vanessa ~ Who am I?


who am i

Image of VanessaDear Vanessa,

I don’t know who I am anymore.  I am a mom, who loves her children dearly and gives her everything to them.  I am a wife who supports, and loves her husband.  I am a listener who hears the worries, concerns of friends and family.  But who am I really?   I feel so lost… What is left for just me?   I wonder sometimes if others feel the same way.




Dearest Annie,

I believe others are exactly in the same place as you are right now.  Others have gone through this season in their lives, and some have yet to.    You are not alone – that much is for sure!

About three years ago I was going through a similar season.   I sat back one day, and thought – what makes me, “me”.   I know at the time I felt empty.  Strange, considering all of the people I supported and loved, but true.  I had lost some of the core elements that made me feel at peace in my day.  This is when the excavation process began.   For me, tragedy triggered the excavation process, and I am sure for most there is an event that triggers this thought process.    Sometimes these things happen so that we can rediscover who we are and slow down and reflect on what may be missing.

There is nothing wrong with feeling that something is “missing” in our lives when everything appears to be perfect.   This is a trigger that is telling you, it is time for the excavation process!   So although you may be feeling bummed out right now, the truth is you are about to embark on a soul journey towards authenticity!

When you look back on your life, you likely could see a theme.   I want you to grab a big piece of paper, pull out some magazines, and jot a timeline in your life.

  1.  Jot down some of the memorable moments from childhood into your teen years (when you were dependent on your family and no one depended on you ~ the individualist stage).

  2. Also look at the moments where you felt the most energized what would you do as a child/teen to break away from everyone else, what made you feel good about your self-identity?  What formed who you are? (write it all down – this is about YOU!!!)

  3. Then I want you to take a variety of magazines, and cut anything out of it that warms your heart, makes you feel good, or anything you are drawn to.   Paste it around your timeline.

  4. Now take a step back, observe….. You are seeing you!!! 

I went through a similar process, I have always been drawn to rainbows, colors, music, and writing.   I love to be creative, and found that I forgot that… I also love love love helping others, helping them see what is right in front of them – so I had to do something that could combine all elements.   This triggered a new found love for writing and blogging.    My talents were always there, but not used in the way I felt like I could say – this is for me…  I felt there wasn’t time, others needed me or I was tired.  Yes the excuses are easy to believe aren’t they?

The key is my friend, they are simply excuses.  The enemy wants us to believe these things so that we will not use the talents that we have built in our lives for ourselves and for good.     When we take the time for ourselves and use our gifts, we feel full.

I challenge you my friend, can you take 1-2 hours a week for yourself?  Do it!  Start it now J   Maybe you were a runner, swimmer, a musician, a painter, a cook…. The list can go on.  Start today and discover your authentic self – she loves you and is just waiting for you to tap her on the shoulder again.

Nurture you!  It is ok, and you will then be amazed at how everything else – being the mom, daughter, wife, sister and friend will flow with ease.  Once you do this, God will be sitting back smiling and saying – that is the daughter I know J

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV)


Dear Lord God,

I pray for you to help us discover who we are, right where we are.  Help us to see our gifts and talents you have given to each one of us for good.  Help us to feel full and abundant as this is the life you promised us.  We look to you to lead us to where we need to be.  Thank-you Father.

I pray for this in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.


May you be blessed beautiful lady,


If you have a question for Vanessa please email her at [email protected]

You can also read Vanessa’s personal blog and journey at www.nesschesters.wordpress.com

Vermont Sugarhouse Maple Muffins with Maple Buttercream Frosting


I recently returned from a road trip out east, part of which was spent in the beautiful state of Vermont. Since my destination was a small town, I spent a lot of time on twisting backroads that took me through lovely and heavily wooded hills. The official flavor of Vermont is Maple, a bounty they reap from the millions of maple trees that grow there. Maple Syrup is one of Vermont’s primary agricultural products; with over 1 millions gallons produced in 2011. Maple syrup is produced and sold at sugarhouses; which are often owned by generations of the same family. You can find many of these sugarhouses throughout the state, and visiting several was on my agenda. I especially made a point of stopping at Harlow’s Sugarhouse, a place in Putney, Vermont I had read about in Food Network magazine. It was a little out of my way, but well worth it. The sugarhouse was well stocked with their three varieties of maple syrup, Fancy, Medium and Dark Amber, as well as maple candies, jams, jellies, honey, mustards and Vermont cheeses. The Fancy is from the first run of the sap, and is lighter and milder in taste; the Ambers are from later in the sap run, with the Dark Amber from the end of the run. Some sugarhouses have Grade A and Grade B syrups. The Grade B is darker and more suited for cooking purposes.

These cakelike muffins are easy to make, and were a unique and tasty way to use up some of that Maple Syrup I brought back with me from Vermont. I used Grade B syrup for these. I am including a maple buttercream frosting recipe here, but these are so good they really don’t need frosting! I love their delicate oaty, maple flavor! Can you imagine anything more yummy than a warm Maple Muffin in the morning? Or with a glass of milk?

Vermont Sugarhouse Maple Muffins

This recipe makes 18 regular muffins, or multitudes of mini muffins!


2 ½ c. flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

¾ t. ground ginger

½ c. unsalted butter, softened

½ c. light brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 ¼ c. maple syrup

2 t. pure vanilla extract

½ c. buttermilk

½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger together in a medium bowl. Set aside.


  • Beat softened butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy.



  • Add eggs, syrup and vanilla. Mix until blended.



  • Mix in flour mixture alternating with buttermilk mixture one-third at a time. You will notice that the batter will get progressively lighter as you add the mixtures, and that the batter will have a sheen on it from the maple syrup.



  • Lastly, using a large spoon, add the nuts in by hand, stir in briefly.


  • Grease or put liners in muffin tins, then fill tins 2/3 full. More than this, and the muffins will flatten out.


  • Bake for 20 minutes, test to see if done. I use the “touch to see if it springs back” method. You can use a toothpick if desired.  Remove from oven when done.


  • Cool for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes from tins.
  • DSC02817
  • Cool completely, then frost with maple buttercream frosting, if desired.


Maple Buttercream Frosting


1 c. butter, softened, unsalted

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

2/3 c. dark brown sugar

1/4 t. salt

3/4 c. maple syrup

3/4 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. confectioners sugar


  • Beat softened butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and salt in medium bowl until fluffy.
  • While beating, add maple syrup and vanilla
  • Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium speed.  Beat until frosting is fluffy.
  • Frost cupcakes as desired.  
  • If you choose to add maple syrup on top, refrigerate frosting for one hour. Frost cupcakes, but make an indentation on top of each one.  Pour a small amount of maple syrup to fill indentation.  

OK, I love the taste of maple, but the real affeciandos of this recipe not only frost the cupcakers, but then pour maple syrup in a little indentation on top of the frosting! For me, that’s sugar overload, but, hey, feel free to try it!

I hope you and your family will enjoy this wonderful, homey recipe inspired by the Sugarhouses of Vermont. I know that I will definitely make these again! (Darn, I wish I had bought more maple syrup!)

Until next week, wishing you and your family all of God’s blessings, good health and happy eating!

Smiles, Maria