Cupcakes and Sunshine: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

This Past Week in a Nutshell.


Happy Friday, lovelies! I laughed really hard at the title of this post. Because in a nutshell, I have gone through two jars of peaNUTbutter in the past two weeks. #noshame #nutsforpeanutbutter #itsinmysevenplan #hadtobepunnywiththewholepeanutbutterandnutshellsaying.


For those of you who do not know, good friends (aka the Council) and I have been doing the Seven Experiment together (for the past two weeks) which you can read all about HERE. And I have found 100 ways to make sweet potatoes and chicken and cheese in all kinds of combinations. I hear week three is the hardest. But I'm ready. Because I just learned that you can toss chicken, tomato sauce, and sweet potatoes in a crock pot and the end result is pretty dang good.

Also, you can melt mozzarella on toast for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. And it is the bee's knees. Sorry for the lack of recipe posts lately. I just figured it would be a huuuge temptation to make delicious chocolatey wonderfulness right in front of my own eyes. I don't think I could do it and be able to pass it up.  Have to stick to my seven!

And let's transition on to this weekend: CAN I GET A TGIF? I am SO excited it is finally Friday. This week just seemed like a doozy. It was great, but definitely a wild one. I had a Public Relations test and a Textiles/Fashion Merchandising test this week. But secretly, I love test days because it makes the day go by faster. Does anyone else feel this way? Or maybe I'm just crazy.

I am super excited because I was accepted into the Public Relations program in Grady at the University of Georgia this past week. I am so excited to see all the opportunities ahead and to start classes that will prepare me for my future. And also this week, in between homework and studying, I actually went to the gym 4 times for a few quick workouts. Crazy. I know. I may or may not be tooting my own horn here. because this is a big deal.


This week was really great in my New Media class because we HAVE BEEN LEARNING WEB DESIGN. Yes, I had to use capital letters because I am really excited. Although I'm much more of a blog content/picture person rather than a blog designer/coding person, I love learning how to design and create new web pages and how I can tweak my own pages a bit. This week, I created my first real web page:



The content for it is kinda blah. I copied and pasted a lot from my blog content-wise, but I'm very excited to actually have been able to make a site that works. You can see the rest of the site HERE.

Today, I'm hoping to get a lot done and checked off my to-do list. Take out the trash, organize my planner, clear off my desk, start some homework/studying for other classes, and pick up a few things at the store including a new memory card for my camera.

Tonight, I'm going to celebrate two birthday girls and am so excited for their "Roaring 20s We're finally 20" party. I hear there is going to be dancing. And we get to wear pjs. My two favorites.

Happy, happy Friday friends! Do you have any big plans for this weekend?

Monday, February 24, 2014

#MakeitPinterestingMonday : Homemade Baked Sweet Potato Chips



As you know, we're doing a little challenge called the Seven Experiment which you can read about HERE. But as part of this experiment, we have chosen only seven foods that we can eat for the whole month. Sweet potatoes are one of my seven and they just so happen to be super versatile. (AMEN to potato versatility. I don't think I can look at mozzarella cheese again. Well, maybe tomorrow. But not today.) 


So recipes have been just a leeeetle tough to come up with for #MakeitPinterestingMonday posts, but I've got a good one that involves these versatile root vegetables.

Baked sweet potato chips are probably one of the easiest things out there. And if you have a food processor that slices potatoes, then get ready to dance around your kitchen while singing into your fork/spoon/spatula microphone. 


Simply slice your sweet potatoes really thin. (or let the food processor do all the work) Then place them in a plastic bag, add a little EVOO and salt and pepper. Zip that bag and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Keep on shaking. Shake it a little more. Now lay your slices out on a pan, and bake for 15-18 minutes at 325 degrees. Easy peasy. 

Now, if you aren't doing the Seven Experiment, and you want even more to dance about, look at these blogger's sweet potato recipes I found on Pinterest...

Source: Cooking for Keeps



Source: Homemade Levity
 I may have to try both of these after our 1st month of Seven is finished. But for now, my super simple 3 ingredient sweet potatoes are rocking. So I think you should give those a try as well. 

Happy Monday! 

How did you #MakeitPinteresting? 

Share on Instagram with #MakeitPinterestingMonday



Seven so Far


Hello friends!

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend and that you have also had this beautiful spring weather we've had here in Georgia. Last week, I told you a bit about beginning the Seven Experiment after reading Jen Hatmaker's book Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. And so far, so good! It has been exactly one week since we've started the experiment and I mean, I'm not too terribly tired of chicken just yet. Peanutbutter toast has become a breakfast staple. And chicken and cheese sandwiches are had for almost every lunch. And remember that food processor I got for Christmas? Well it slices my sweet potatoes into the teeniest tiniest of slices (so stinkin' cute I tell ya) and it has been great baking those up for snacks.



Of course, there have been quite a few weaknesses and temptations food-wise. I mean, let's talk about my Instagram feed for a second. I don't think I've ever noticed how many pictures of donuts are posted on my Instagram feed each and everyday. And let's also talk about Pinterest. I won't even log into Pinterest. Too.many.delicious.pictures.I.want.to.lick.my.computer.screen. And finally, let's talk about the emails I have been receiving from multiple restaurants with GREAT deals and coupons. Starbucks...Panera...The Melting Pot...local restaurants "BUY ONE GET ONE ENTREE! Tonight only!" They make things real tough, y'all.

But I have a little back up plan for when these cravings kick in. The other day I hopped into my car and on the radio, there was a story about children in Africa. A mission team was visiting them and told the children that they could only feed the amount of kids that could fit in the small room in Africa. They shut the doors as soon as the room was packed, but there were still hundreds of children banging on the door on the outside. The mission team said that there was room for two more children. They opened the doors quickly on the outside and a ten year old boy pushed his two younger siblings in the door, sacrificing his only meal so that their stomachs could be filled. In this moment, I realized this Seven Experiment isn't about me. And that every time I want a measly donut or a chocolate bar or those tempting emails are beckoning me to "Buy one latte and get one free today only!" that I need to be praying for those in need. Those who are hungry. and those who would sacrifice their only meal for their younger siblings.

Selflessness.

I have had many people tell me, "Hey! This Seven Experiment sounds great as a diet plan!" But no, this isn't a diet plan. (believe me, I went through almost a whole jar of peanutbutter this past week!) This is an excess plan to realize how much money, time, and effort is usually spent on excess. This is a challenge to pray and think about those in need and to realize that material comforts are not equivalent to happiness. This is a challenge to be more selfless. Yes, sometimes it has been a kick in the booty and a slap in the face. But so far,  in the past seven days, I feel like I have grown so much. And I also feel I have grown so much closer to the four other girls who are doing this with me. I feel so blessed for their friendship as we discuss the hardships and challenges we have faced so far. I am excited for the next weeks and months ahead as we dig further into this experiment.

Happy, happy Monday! I'll be back later with a #MakeitPinterestingMonday post. I won't leave ya hanging :)

Question of the Day:
What challenges have you been through that you have grown through? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day One: The Seven Experiment #MakeitPinteresting Monday


This is a different #MakeitPinterestingMonday post. But one that I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT I COULD NOT SLEEP LAST NIGHT. Really. And I did find links for this experiment on Pinterest so it counts as a #MakeitPinterestingMonday post.

This semester has been such a blessing because I have hardly had to purchase any school books. I think the total cost of my school books this semester came to around $30. And average course book totals for students usually are around $500!!! (Source: Scholarship.com) Big, huge savings. Since I had a little extra money saved up from not purchasing school books, I made Amazon purchases instead. And received all of these goodies on my front door.


 I read Captivating a few weeks ago, but had the chance to start Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker this week when we were snowed in. YOU GUYS. This book is so fabulous. It is so, so wonderful. Jen reveals 7 main excesses we have in our lives (Clothes, Shopping, Waste, Food, Possessions, Media, and Stress) and works 7 months to concentrate on and eliminate these excesses. Jen stated that Seven is "an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through." SO eye opening. I'm so ready for it. And I so need it. Let the reductions begin!

The first month, the focus is on food. You can choose only seven foods to eat for the entire first month. And today, a group of friends and I are beginning this adventure. I.Can.Not.Wait. We have all chosen our seven food items that we are going to each eat. I know it is going to push me and pull me. You guys know I LOVE food. I love restaurants. I love sauces. I love spices. I love ingredients. I love...chocolate. And didn't even choose it as one of my seven items because it is nutrient deficient. (DANG IT) We are living in such a commercial society. And everything we do revolves around excess. It really is wild, distracting. During this month, I'm really going to be praying for a clear mind. And to keep my eyes focused on God. Instead of material excesses, I pray that God will show me how I can help those in need. Hundreds of thousands of people are so grateful for the one meal of rice and beans they receive each day. And here I am... stressing over the hundreds of yogurt options and candy bar choices and cereal selections at Publix. How is this right? Obviously, there is a problem.

While the author was writing the book, she was in the process of adopting two Ethiopian children into her family. Her three children at home decided they weren't going to eat their nuggets because they were lacking ketchup. She said her heart hurt for her hungry children in Ethiopia, and also for her own children  "who will battle American complacency and overindulgence for the rest of their lives." WOW. wow. She said she didn't know who she felt worse for.

For the next month, I have chosen for my 7 items to be...
1. Chicken
2. Cheese
3. Bread
4. Sweet Potatoes
5. Apples
6. Peanutbutter
7. Tomato Sauce

Currently, I have hundreds of ingredients sitting in my cabinets. (I really do have a problem) I have at least 8 selections of flours. 12 different chocolate brands in my baking cupboard. 4 different types of spreads (Peanutbutter, Almondbutter, Nutella, Cookie Butter...the good stuff ya know?). I like to have ingredients on hand just in case I want to bake up something that catches my fancy on-the-fly.  Excessive is probably an understatement for the amount of food I have.  and excited is an understatement for how much I'm looking forward to kicking this excessive habit to the curb.

Food is just the beginning of this excess experiment. I am so ready to grow and see where God leads us during these next seven months. I am so thankful for such a wonderfully supportive group of girls to be doing this with. Would you care to join us? Please check out the book and comment below if you are joining in!

 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A LOVELY Weekend!


Ahh, this weekend has been so, so wonderful! 

Actually, let's start off with how wonderful this entire week was! 
I have six good friends who all live together in a lovely house that we call "Jelarsymarny." (All of their names put together. aka #Jelarsymarny.) They ever-so-kindly invited me over Monday night when we heard that there was going to be a huuuge snowstormapalooza hitting GA that evening. And what a crazy storm it was! Classes were canceled Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and delayed Friday. We had such a wonderful time watching movies, snacking, playing UNO, baking, chatting, laughing. and #Jelarsymarny wins the hospitality award. It was such a great week with such wonderful friends whose hearts are so generous and kind and loving. I can't wait to do a little blog post on their absolutely adorable home. It is the coziest home I've ever stepped foot in. And the perfect place to be stuck during a snowstorm. (AKA 1-3 inches in Georgia).


Now let's get to Valentine's day festivities. I invited some of the Jelarsymarny girls and others over to my apartment for a pajamas and calzones Valentine's party. We snacked and made our own calzones. 


 and I hung my Valentine's Banner from #MakeItPinterestingMonday to make the room a bit more in-the-Valentine's-Day-spirit-y. 

Chips and Salsa and M&M place cards:


and Joni did the honors of testing the calzone's readiness.


We purchased pre-made pizza dough at Trader Joe's and stuffed the dough with cheese and pepperonis. 


 they were hot and delicious and perfect in every way. So I'm having another one for dinner tonight. 
We served them alongside a dipping bowl of marinara. (also thanks to Trader Joe's) 

this is Carly. PUMPED about our homemade calzones. 

And then of course, there was dessert: Buttercream brownies, chocolate dipped Oreos, and sparkling grapejuice to top it off. 



 it was a lovely week spent with the most lovely of people! 

How was your Valentine's week?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Banner (#MakeItPinterestingMonday)


Last week was a bit cuhraaazayyy. I had a bad reaction to some medicine and had to miss my marketing test. Ladies and gentlemen, just a little side note...whatever you do, do not miss tests in college. It is a big no-no. I walked into my professor's office at 12:15, which was the time she had scheduled for me to retake the test today. After I said a cheerful "hello!" , she continued to keep typing away on her computer and didn't even look up or say words. At this point, I was thinking...what the hey-hey? Do I just walk out of the room? and turn around? or stand outside the door? (I'm naturally awkward anyways so this whole waiting thing really really just complicated things) After a few more awkward moments of silence and rummaging in my bag for my doctor's note for missing class (AKA my lifeline security ticket/pass to take this test) she finally looked up and said, "Put all of your things down in this office and follow me to take your test." 

Y'all, I was scared. She was scary. And I will never ever miss a test again. Lesson learned: even if I am on my death bed, I will not not not miss a test. But I'm pretty sure I ROCKED that test OH YEAH. and after I completed it, the rest of my day just went wonderfully.



I had dinner at Dolce Vita with my bestfriend Carly after classes. We always get the gnocchi. and they bring out the most delightful homemade bread. And then, I worked on today's #MakeItPinterestingMonday project!
Remember a few days ago when I pinned a few of my favorite Valentine's Day ideas? I decided to make a quick Valentine's banner that would look great anywhere. I saw this one on Pinterest, and wanted to make one that was a bit easier and a bit less pricey. 

A few weeks ago, I purchased a pack of Valentine's Day paper from Target from their dollar section for...you guessed it...$1!!




and then I cut the paper into little triangles...



and then hung the banner with yarn!



(yes, that's the yarn from the scarf I knit a couple Mondays ago. I'll have to do an update on that little project!)


Ta-Da! instant Valentine banner! 


This project was super easy and super fun.

The perfect project to end this day.
And the NEWS THAT I FOUND OUT! CLASSES HAVE BEEN CANCELED DUE TO SNOWY WEATHER TOMORROW.

Here's to #MakeItPinterestingMondays and snow days. Stay safe and warm!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Valentine Favorites!


Happy weekend! I have spent this weekend studying, working, and of course...baking. I made these banana bread muffin tops from Oh She Glows. You guys, these are wonderful. I love love love them. and have made them three times now. (thanks Aunt Susu and Uncle Rog for the food processor. I've used it countless times!) 



I also went to the gym, work, grocery shopping, and have done a little cleaning. I watched the Olympics (how great were those opening ceremonies!? other than the small Olympic ring happenstance),  and the Kardashians on Netflix (my tv guilty pleasure...terrible, I know!) It's been a very productive weekend.

This evening, I've been relaxing and looking at lots of fun Valentine's Day ideas.
Valentine's Day is less than a week away. And it is one of my favorite holidays. (actually, all holidays are my favorite, but it is my favorite holiday this month. teehee!)

HOW CUTE IS THIS VALENTINE?
from Little Beans Boutique

As you know, donuts are my favorite...

and what a coincidence that Little Beans Boutique used my name on its donut Valentine packaging.(they must know about my leeeetle donut obsession)

I love these sparkly deer as a Valentine tablescape:
and those perfectly pink lollipops. So sweet!

 These conversation heart balloons from StudioDIY are so festive:
Go check out the StudiDIY site. It is so, so much fun! 


How precious are these dainty, pink marshmallows
 They would be the perfect sweet treat for the 14th. (in addition to donuts)


and treat-wise, let's talk about this cake
I'd probably pluck all of the conversation hearts off before eating the cake (I personally think they taste a bit chalky.) But I think this cake is absolutely adorable. 


And finally, this banner would be the perfect Valentine's Day touch to any room or party:
 So much love and so many hearts and lots of pink and red. 
I've been dotting my i's this month with hearts. 

Do you have any special Valentine's Day plans, traditions, or treats? 


I hope your Saturday is going great, sweet friends!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Quinoa Chocolate Cake for #MakeitPinterestingMonday


If you don't know me too well, you probably do not know that I actually like healthy food a lot. I've told you a lot about Mama's Boy, my obsession with donuts, my weakness for French toast, brownies, and biscuits. But I haven't really talked much on the blog about my enthusiasm for healthy desserts (or anything healthy for that matter). My roommates probably think I'm crazy because I've probably tried every "healthy" dessert you could possibly make. Healthy-fied ice-cream, healthy-fied smoothies, healthy-fied puddings, healthy-fied cookies. Gluten free this, vegan that, etc. You name it. 

Sometimes, the healthy-fied recipes are terrible. Really terrible. I'm sorry, but I've never had a black bean "brownie" that doesn't taste like dirt. 


Sometimes, you do find a winner though. With better ingredients. That make you feel a little less guilty when indulging. And that just makes you feel like a better person. It really does. And when you feel like a better person, then you feel like you can eat more biscuits and donuts and French toast and brownies.It's about the balance, y'all. But let me tell you, making healthy desserts is an art. And I just want to high-five all of the bakers out there who can master the skill of healthy dessert recipe development. Gold stars for you because it is tough business.


Today, I would like to give a huge shoutout to Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe who inspired today's #MakeitPinterestingMonday post. After finding her Quinoa Chocolate Cake recipe on Pinterest, I was intrigued. Quinoa!? In cake!? No way! Quinoa is...healthy! With raving reviews and positive feedback from her commenters, I had to give it a go. 


AND BOY OH BOY AM I SO HAPPY I DID. My roommates, friends, and friends of friends who sampled it would agree. I may or may not have had three slices.


it was absolutely wonderful. 


decadent and chocolate-y. 


and the frosting was light and fluffy and dreamy. 
I'm saving this recipe in my books forever. and ever. 

I did change a bit of the recipe. Instead of butter, I used coconut oil. And I replaced half of the fat in the cake with applesauce. And guess what? It worked. This cake is unbelievably delicious. I was skeptical. But bring this to parties and I swear it won't disappoint. And the good news is, it's sort-of healthy.

The Pinteresting Details:

My thoughts: This.cake.is.so.wonderful.there.just.are.no.words.(yes, periods and dramatic one-word sentences for emphasis because this cake deserves it)

Easy? Um, well, sort of! I would say it was a little tough waiting for the cakes to cool. And then waiting for the heavy whipping cream and chocolate mixture to get cold enough in the refrigerator to whip into soft peaks. I have zero patience when my face wants to stuff itself with delicious chocolate things. So that was hard. Also, the cake was extremely fragile. You have to be vewwwy, vewwwwy careful when taking the cakes out of the cake pans. 

Changes I made: I replaced the butter with coconut oil and used applesauce in place of half of the oil. 

Would I make it again? YES YES YES. 

Give it a go and pin it HERE.

Don't forget to checkout my other #MakeItPinterestingMondays and pin all of your Pinterest favorites. 

Happy Monday!






Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Cowboy's First Birthday!


Hello, hello! I hope you have had a wonderful weekend and that you have stayed warm with all of this crazy cold weather. Atlanta was a hot mess this past week with the snowy roads, but I was so happy it cleared up in time to head to CRU's leadership conference. It was such a great time with sweet friends. The CRU community is wonderful and worshiping an awesome God is such a blessing. 


I headed out of the conference a bit early to SC, where my sweet cousin Rylan turned one. 
Just a year ago I was at the hospital, anxiously awaiting his arrival. My, does time fly! But this little cowboy sure does know how to celebrate a birthday. 



His Mimi handmade his delicious cake.(everything from the horse to the little fondant cowboy! So, so talented!) 

And Rylan had no trouble digging in...





The party details were absolutely adorable.



and so many baby friends came to celebrate! 

This is Liam...




baby Tate, 


Lila and Lucy too to name a few! 


There were lots and lots of presents to be opened:



and of course we didn't leave without our cowboy crackers for the trip home! 


it was such a fun celebration. Happy 1st birthday Rylan!


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