Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"The Best Chocolate Cake Ever"-Tasty Tuesday 2

Whenever I come across something claiming to be the best anything on pinterest, I'm typically suckered in to trying it. I know I know. Silliness. I'm also one of those people who buys food based on how "cute" it looks, even though I'm fully aware my money is actually going for the packaging instead of the product. But I digress...

So this time when I came across the recipe for the "Best Chocolate Cake Ever" on pinterest and I had pretty much all the ingredients, I went for it. It turned out to be super easy, and super delicious. Was it the best? Hard to say. But pretty stinking amazing and quite possibly my new favorite "go to" chocolate cake? Yes I think so.

Chocolate Cake
Printable Recipe
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup cocoa
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon espresso powder
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 eggs
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1 cup boiling water

Chocolate Frosting
-3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter
-1 cup cocoa
-5 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 cup milk
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare 2-9 inch cake pans by greasing and flouring. For the cake whisk together (or use a stand mixer with the paddle attatchment) the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. (I didn't have any espresso powder and was too danged impatient to wait until I got some. Remember? It said it was the best-I was in a hurry).

Next add the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla and combine well. Then slowly add the boiling water and beat on high for about 1 minute to add some air into the batter. (This sounded made up to me. I did it anyways. Actions shot for proof I guess.)

Next pour the batter evenly, or as evenly as possible if you're me, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

This is one of those nice cakes that you can frost while it's warm. Don't you love it when that happens? Let's be honest by the time the cake cools and I can frost it I've already cleaned the kitchen and dread going back and making a whole new frosting mess. So on this one? Let's make life simple and make the frosting while the kitchen is still dirty and the cakes are baking! For some reason I forgot to take pictures of this part. Who even knows at this point.

So add cocoa to a large bowl and whisk through to get out any lumps. I suggest a mixer, or at least a hand mixer for the frosting. I guess this day I just felt like getting my arm workout in early and decided to go manual. It's totally do-able, not exactly pleasant. After the cocoa is nice and fine, melt the butter and combine it with the cocoa. Then alternate adding 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk, mixing on high until well combined after each addition until all the powdered sugar and milk has been added. Add vanilla and espresso powder and combine well. If frosting appears too thick add milk, or if too thin add more sugar. For me it was perfect just as the recipe called for. Once the cakes have cooled for about 10 minutes go ahead and frost them!

This cake was delicious. Super moist, which is always a must for me. And that frosting? Totally worth the sore arm the next day. It was like a creamy fudge. The hubby and I were just too tempted to wait until it cooled to cut a slice, thus the following not-so-pretty picutre...

After it cooled, it looked a lot better. Wait until it cools, or eat it with your eyes closed and enjoy it entirely. Either way make this cake asap.

Printable recipe found here

Linking up with!!!

nap-time creations
Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays



Monday, April 29, 2013

Deep calls out to Deep

Today's post is a bit lengthier, for which I apologize. But when God does something so big, so dramatic in your life, you can't help but share it. Grab a good cup of coffee. This is a good story of a really big God and a really fragile girl.

Nostalgia has overtaken me these days as the Mr and I are about to celebrate our first anniversary. My mind cannot help but travel back to what was happening a year ago. Sure it's normal for the weeks leading up to your wedding to be stressful with the last minute to-do's and such. I experienced my fair share of this as I made list after list every day. But deep down I was dealing with something deeper than flowers and dresses and music. I was about to face one of my biggest fears-marriage. I grew up in a wonderful family, but with a very, very, bad example of marriage. To me, marriage meant anger, violence, temper, fear, insecurity, and trying to just survive. Growing up I told myself that would never happen to me. But after teenage and early college years when I found myself stuck in an abusive relationship of my own, my eyes were painfully opened to the truth. I wasn't exempt. Nobody was. Nobody had the gurantee that their marriage wouldn't end up like my parents. I had already lived in fear for the first 18 years of my life, I was determined to not step back into it. No matter what. So I made a promise to myself that I would never get married, I would simply never take that risk.

Fast forward 2 years, when the Mr walked into my life. I finally agreed to being friends with him as long as he agreed to never date me and never ever fall in love with me. (I may or may not have said that the first time we ever hung out. Charming I know.) One night he told me he had been lying to me and he had always committed to 100% honesty in our friendship. He was in love with me. Even though it wasn't allowed. So slowly-very slowly-we started dating. I kept one hand on the door at all times if I were completely honest. But then he had to go on a trip for work, for 3 long months. It almost killed me, or so it seemed. As soon as he got back, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him and somehow I never hesitated. It wasn't until the wedding got closer that I started going back to those promises I made to myself. I remembered the pain and the tears that I had vowed to protect myself from. So what was I about to do? I freaked. I almost didn't do it. It had nothing to do with my love for him, I've never knew I could love someone like I love him. It simply came down to the fact that I was facing 2 huge fears-marriage, or a life without him. I cried myself to sleep night after night.

I did marry him. With much trembling, I vowed forever. And I never looked back. The fear of losing him over losing myself and my "protection" did not compare. Mr has taught me what marriage was, what love was. No life is not perfect, but it is so so very good. He is patient and loving and gentle and slow to anger. Every morning before we start the day, he holds me and prays over me. The times that I would run far far away from me, are the times he holds me closer and loves me more than ever.

A year later, I'm still trembling. But not because I married him-but because I came so close to not marrying him. I came so close to missing out on this life that we share. I think about it almost daily as I look around in the simple moments of shared looks, morning prayer time together, laughing til we cry, doing dishes together, or evening kisses and remember these moments are gifts from God that I almost said, "no thanks" on and missed completely. So I live in such a humble state of gratitude as I think about the stubborn feet that God had to use to get me to where I am now-maybe more this week than other's. He has made all things new indeed. And with deep pain and deep risk has brought forth deeper joy than I could have ever even fathomed.

Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being praise His Holy Name. Praise the Lord all my soul and forget not all His benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. -Psalm 103:1-5

Linking up with :
Happy Wives Club

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Prayer Requests

Hey friends!! I just wanted to stop in for a quick announcement. Over on the right sidebar you'll now see a Prayer Requests Button. If there's anything you ever need prayer over please click that button!! Whether it's a health problem, a job issue, a relationship crisis, an unspoken need, or a-let's be real I'm biting everybody's head off today and really need to quit it, pray for my attitude (let's get real, we've all been there and sometimes we're not at the point where we can pray that prayer ourselves-can I get an amen??) Anything, big or small, it would be an honor to pray for you.

Have a great weekend gals!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fab Friday 1

I am so excited about this concept of Fab Friday and linking up with The Everyday Joys. I've thought about this idea before, because in a world of Negative Nancy's, we could all use some Fab, right? Plus, sometimes even at the end of a rough week this forces us to stop and think ok what good happened this week? It is there, even if it gets burried under the not-so-good sometimes after a long week. God is so, so good, all the time. So without further ado.....

1. Beauty from an evening walk. Since last Spring I was in the depths of planning a wedding, I feel like I hardly experienced the awe factor that comes with Spring-I was just walking around in a daze of to do lists. But this year? I'm blown away again.
2. The cake that pinterest calls the "Best Chocolate Cake Ever". Trust me, a blog with details and a recipe is soon forthcoming.
3. Psalm 35:3. Enough said.
4. Found "Wally the Watermelon" at the local nursery. Adorable. There was also a "Duke the Cucumber" and a "Tommy the Tomato". It made me crack up when I found it, but mostly because I can relate. Everybody named inaminate objects as kids right? (Or big kids)

Have a great weekend guys!!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

Linking up with:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Random Wednesday 1

1. I'm a semi obsessive list maker. I'm also extremely random. Random Wednesday feels like a national holiday named after me or something.

2. I was raised in the church my entire life. Coming from a small family, those people became my family. Maybe that's why I look forward to Sunday every single week, it is the highlight of my week-always has been. It's so many things I love in one day...worshipping God, digging deeper in His Word, getting dressed up (no this isn't on the important scale at all-just stayin' true to my silly girly ways), spending the whole day with my husband...NO exceptions...if something comes up we have a rule...not on Sundays, big family lunch after morning service, being with people whom I adore...in a lot of ways they "took me in". Sure I had an immediate family, but my grandparents died when I was very young. But because of those people, I was always surrounded by precious old souls who immediately "adopted" me. God saw fit that friendships that would have never seemed "logical", between a teenage girl and a 70 year old woman, would be cherished.

3. Hidden talent? Sending the wrong text message to the wrong person. I somehow manage to do this all the time. Called my mother in law "babe" in a message intended for my husband last week. Nothing like flying my crazy flag loud and proud.

4. I have an intense love for all things bright and colorful.

5. I love music as much the next person, but the sounds I love most are the sounds of life. You know...children giggling, washing machines whirring, listening to frogs on a summer night, taps of a high heel walking across the floor, steady rain on the roof...the little things that reminds me that life-in it's simplest forms-is so beautiful.

6. I have a need to paint everything turquoise. I have purchased 3 different "normal" colors (you know...black, white, gray) for the last 3 projects I've done. At the last minute I've come to my senses and ran for the bright turquoise. I have a lot of basic, unused, colors in my garage. However, my favorite color is, and always has been, pink. Someone explain that one for me.

7. Sometimes I feel like going to cosmetology school just to learn how to do cool things with my own hair, or for friends and family for fun. Not for a career though. Realistically, I only think of this concept when my BFF-who is a hair stylist-gets to go to the state beauty supply for girly and beauty products AT COST. Be still my heart.

8. Growing up, my mom was, and still is, an incredible cook. Good night, was I blessed by her. But trying new recipes wasn't really her thing, she knew what she knew and she did it great and that was that. I tend to try TOO many new things. I'm trying to remind myself it is ok to repeat a recipe twice in 8 months. Really.

9. While on the cooking front, I made 2 goals in that department a few months ago. Learn how to can, and be better at freezing meals. I still haven't done that, however I am still determined. Any tips? I'd be so appreciative!!

10. Dumbest pet peeve ever: that first paper towel on the paper towel roll. You know, the one that has the glue on it? I always feel like I'm drying my hands in glue. Makes me crazy.

Linking up with

ALSO- Ever heard of Jenny Stewart's, French Press Mornings blog? Let me just say, I find her delightful and highly encourage you to stop by there!! Every Wednesday she provides gorgeous 4x6 prints of scripture in her series "Encouraging Wednesdays". I couldn't love this more. First and foremost- because I couldn't agree more. There is SUCH power in memorizing and hiding His Word in our heart, and one of the best ways to do that is by posting it in places we see often around our homes. Second- I think there is such beauty and power in filling our homes with scripture. There has been more than once that I have been this close to letting my mouth run away from me with hurtful words and I will catch a glimpse of Ephesians 4:29 on the wall- "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but ONLY what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen." Or when I've gotten unexpected news and am tempted to panic and am reminded by the little card on my desk- "The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." -Zephaniah 3:17. Thanks Jenny Stewart for your shared desire to cover our homes with His unfailing, unchanging Word, and for using your beautiful talent to glorify Him!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vegetable Beef Soup- Tasty Tuesday

What's a girl to do when Spring just won't stay sprung and the temperatures suddenly drop 40 degrees in one day?!?
Find your favorite crockpot soup recipe, and grab a blanket and a good book-while attempting to ignore the beating your veggie garden is most likely taking. So excited to share this recipe with you all today for a few reasons-first, its SUPER easy. If you can open a can and stir, you've officially been declared qualified to make this soup. Second, it's so healthy, this will get veggies, veggies, and more veggies in your family! Third, well, it's delicious. Of course. Way better than the canned stuff any day. Fourth, I'm a total sucker for anything slow cooker. Especially on a cold, lazy day that I don't feel like cooking but the show must go on. Anyone else?

Slow cooker Vegetable Beef Soup

-2 pounds ground round
-1/2 medium onion, diced
-2 (15 ounce) cans mixed vegetables (drained)
-1 (15 ounce) can Lima beans (drained)
-1 (15 ounce) can sliced carrots (drained)
-1 (15 ounce) can corn (drained)
-4 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
-2 cups water

1.) Cook ground beef and onions until browned. (If you're like me, and like to serve this for lunch but can't stand the look of raw meat before 9 am, do this the night before and stick it in the fridge. Next morning, just dump it in the crockpot.)

Alright all ready to go. Grab your trusty can opener and let's get started!!
Open away and start pouring in the crockpot, meat, then all the veggies except the diced tomatoes...

If you're like me, halfway through you'll get lazy and stop making the trip across the kitchen to the sink and isntead grab the empty bowl your cooked meat was just in and drain over that instead. I have issues folks.

Ok now give all those veggies and meat and good stir before we add our liquids and make a colossal mess on the kitchen cabinet.
Then add your tomatoes and water and mix it all up. Turn it on low and let it go for about 4 hours. That's it!!

I served this with a wrap on the side, but I think a nice baked potato with it would make a dinner also. Any meal that is a hit with my hubby, super healthy, AND easy to make is pretty great to me. Enjoy!!!

So excited to link up today with:

nap-time creations
Totally Tasty Tuesdays

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lesson #425925 on trusting God

I wish I was one of those people who's biggest weakness was chocolate. Sure the ever-increasing pant size is a drag, but I would learn to live with that eventually I suppose. My biggest weakness however? Not trusting God.

You may never find a bigger worrier than myself. Somedays, I find myself unconsiciously just finding things to worry about while going about the laundry or the dishes. Who does that? Anybody else? Please? I come from a long, long line of worriers. Some families pass down genetic traits like blue eyes or blonde hair. The women in my family? Worry. That's what we do. It's kind of our thing. I am not proud of it, it means I'm not trusting God, that in itself breaks my heart. But I still struggle with it and fight that spiritual battle on my knees daily. At the beginning of this year, God was calling us to really step out of our comfort zone and trust him majorly.
It's like this...
Before we got married, we knew that raising up Godly children was a huge priority and desire for us. For our family, that meant I would stay home with them. Do I think that this is possible for everyone, or that you are any less than an incredible Godly mother raising amazing children if you need to/desire to work? Not. At. All. Please don't think that for one second. But for us personally, it was something we felt very strongly and very led by God to do. So we decided that after we got married, I would continue to work for some time while we kind of got settled in and situated, but not too long after I would quit my job so that we would begin to learn to live on one income-before children became a factor. So in Janurary, we both knew, it was time-but it sure didn't feel like it. We hadn't even completely unpacked yet after just acquiring a larger house (larger payments, larger bills). I wrestled with it night after night, crunching numbers thinking that surely the 24th time I calculate it something will somehow shift and this will all logically work out. It didn't. It never did. I didn't have a ton of support either. So many of people, very dear to me whom I love so much, couldn't understand it either (and still don't, and basically think I do nothing), why wouldn't I work when I could, when I could make our financial situation easier with more flexibility. Why? I didn't know, all I knew was that was what God was leading me to do . I had to obey.
My husband is an incredible, incredible man of God, and he does things that don't make "sense" a lot-simply because God calls him to, so he does. Just like that. Simple as day. I remember before we were even dating, knowing that as a personality trait of his. Watching him, with all his faith to move a mountain, and doing something that from the earthly eye looks crazy-because that's what God was leading him to do. I remember thinking-wow, I really admire that...could never do that kind of crazy stuff though. Little did I know. Little did I know. God must've smiled a little on that one. Anwyways, he works very hard for us as he ministers to students and teenagers. I don't think I could do what he does. He works with kids in crisis every single day. He's kind of my hero. Unfortunately, it doesn't equate to a huge paycheck. While my job was simply part time and not setting us up for luxury cars and mansions, it was a fall back. It was a nice "safety net" that covered over a few small bills, or unexpected expenses. I saw my saftey net going away, I panicked for weeks. But eventually, with much much trembling, I submitted my 2 weeks notice, promptly left for the day, sat in my car in my office's parking lot, and wept like a baby.
How would we ever make it? What in the world were we going to do?

Under all this worry and uncertainty though, I knew this was not only what God was leading us to do, it was also my heart's desire. Funny how those 2 things go together. You see, as silly and old fashioned as it may seem...I wanted to be a homemaker.
I see the home as so very important, and so very neglected in our society these days. We're all so busy working to get ahead and gain more, but aren't we really losing??
I see simple, seeminly meaningless chores like laundry and cleaning and cooking as a joy. Not because they're always "fun" but because they are a piece in the puzzle of creating a home for my family. I get to set the tone, I get to set the mood. (And please Lord, let that tone be YOU!)
It's what I've always seen, it's what I've always wanted. I remember being a very young girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, on a beautiful Sunday in May-Mother's Day, when our preacher spoke directly to a women's heart. As he went over the value of a stay at home wife/mother, he said, don't call yourself a housewife-you aren't married to a house-you are a homemaker-for one way or another, for good or bad, that's exactly what you are doing...making your home. I still remember those words to this day. While I probably didn't say it out loud for fear of looking foolish, that's what I've always wanted. It's probably why I struggled through college-I couldn't find a bachelors in homemaking in the course catalog a single semester.
Funny how worry robs you of the truth, covers up and smudges out the true desires of the heart.

We've been making it though. I never know how, honestly. Each month I look at the big picture and am continually amazed and in wonder at how it's happening. While I can't find a "logical" reason, I know the reason. God is moving and working in our lives, honoring our decision to obey Him, even when it doesn't make "sense". Not only am I living out my dream of being a homemaker, but we are on this ride of trust that is scary, yes, but absolutely exciting and exhilirating as well. It's what happens I suppose when you do everything you can-work as hard as you can-and trust Him with the rest, obey Him, follow hard after Him.

I don't know why I'm so surprised, this isn't the first time He's been there and provided for me-not just financially either. In fact, I don't remember a time He was ever NOT there. Because that just wouldn't be Him. Maybe that's why this morning I was sobbing in my living room, going over who He is. I've never gotten "over it". Oh how I pray I never will.