Cupcakes and Sunshine: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Life Lately: Summer Edition

Hello, hello friends! How is your Tuesday afternoon going so far? It's been a rainy day over here so I'm curled up watching House Hunters (so great)...

... and snacking on a couple of handfuls of some Blue Diamond Sriracha Almonds (so great also) until I start tackling my to-do list.

I thought I'd catch you up on what's been going on around here with a little Life Lately post! The past couple of weeks have been some of the best weeks of my life and I thought I'd share a bit.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that we took a spontaneous trip to Disney World a few days back. We were the first people on the ferry to cross over to the Magic Kingdom and we were the last in the park after staying until 1a.m.

We rocked our Minnie ears long. And of course, we didn't leave the park without a few of our favorite Disney snacks...

A couple of days later, I hopped on a plane and headed to Haiti with a mission team from my church! To be completely honest, I was scared to death the night before the trip. I really didn't know what to expect at all. I tried to play it cool when people asked me if I was excited... I was actually really nervous deep inside!! But Jesus is SO good and it was one of the most incredible weeks of my life. And I can't wait to do it again ASAP.

Throughout the trip, we taught VBS a few of the days, did home visits, met with the leadership council, prayed over the village and the country, and met with many of the people in the community.

I loved learning about the Haitian culture and the Haitian way of life. From the school systems to family units and living quarters, life is a bit different there than it is here. And I LOVED it. Since the trip, I've been asked a few times what was my favorite part... and I really can't tell you! The whole trip was absolutely incredible. The food was out. of. this. world. amazing.

(I've been trying to recreate crispy plantains, rice and beans, and Haitian slaw since being back. Definitely not the same. And fresh-off-the-tree mangoes aren't conveniently located in my backyard like they were in Haiti.)

The people we met and the team bond we built was incredible:

And God's love and beauty touched every single nook, cranny, and corner of the entire trip!

I'm tearing up just thinking about it. I miss it so much!

I think my biggest takeaway from the trip was that I was able to see that we, Americans, are poor in so many ways, but we are also rich in many ways. And that Haiti is also poor in many ways, but rich in many ways as well. 

Even though we all spoke different languages, we all were able to communicate through love and actions. It's amazing how much you can understand another culture, another human, another language... without even speaking! Ahh, it was just great. 

After readjusting to life in the states and getting back in the groove of things with work, I've been doing a little organizing and baking.

I borrowed a carpet cleaner machine from my aunt and uncle and I don't think I've ever felt more like an adult than when I waltzed into Kroger to purchase carpet cleaner for the carpet cleaning machine. ( time I went to Kroger and got a flu shot on my own. I felt pretty adult then too.)

While the carpets were drying, I've put together a few recipes:

^^This one is top secret, but will be posted on very soon.     :)

But the healthy zucchini muffin recipe below was posted yesterday and you should make them asap:

In the past couple of days, I've been able to cross a couple of Athens restaurants off of my restaurant bucketlist.

I met my good friend Hannah last night at Shokitini downtown:

It was deeelicious. They have excellent sushi & meal deals. And they surprised us with complimentary deep fried Oreos as a post-dinner treat. YES THEY DID. And I think I would come back just for those. Yes I would.

Today, it was one of our team members birthdays (HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY!) and we celebrated at Cali N' Titos.

I ordered the grilled fish tacos, but I was most excited about their "Tostones"- fried plantains. They were very similar to the ones we had back in Haiti and reminded me of sweet memories there.

So that's been a bit about life lately over here! What have you been up to? Any 4th of July plans?

** Disclosure: Blue Diamond provided me with the Sriracha Almonds above but all views and opinions are my own. (&they are great.)

Rise and Shine! Healthy Zucchini Breakfast Muffins

Y'all. It's zucchini season. And I LOVE it.

During the duration of our mission trip to Haiti last week, our team learned a lot about each other. Throw 15 people in a bus in a foreign country in 105 degree weather and you walk off the airplane in the USA at the end of 7 days feeling like you have known your team members for life. It's an incredible bond.

Well after a few days, many on our team learned about my love for baking. Fast forward a few days after our trip, and I had a fresh-picked bag of zucchini given to me by one of our team members ready to be baked for homemade zucchini bread! I used my favorite zucchini bread recipe online, but I wanted to create a healthier version for breakfasting and snacking too.

These muffins are made with 100% whole wheat flour and are low in sugar. Only healthy fats (hello walnuts and olive oil) are used and apple sauce keeps the muffins moist while sweetening them up a bit. So grab a cup of coffee (and a giant slather of peanut butter or almond butter) and enjoy!

Rise and Shine Zucchini Breakfast Muffins
Makes 9-12 muffins

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/8th tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar if you want a healthier muffin)
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

*Add chocolate chips too if you prefer chocolate chips in everything (not because I know anyone who does that or anything....(;  )

1. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Mix oil, honey, and sugar in a separate bowl. Add egg, apple sauce, vanilla.
3. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and add grated zucchini and walnuts. 
4. Scoop batter into muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees until done. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Citrus Cupcakes

This was one of my cupcake recipes featured earlier this summer for , but I thought I'd share it with you in case you missed the post (and because my mind is still wrapped up in my trip to Haiti last week to come up with a new cupcake recipe just yet):

Remember last summer when my good friend Kelsie and her family hosted us on the island of Oahu in Hawaii? We hiked Diamond Head, were guests at a Luau, had a lot of fun in the sun on countless beaches, swam with sea turtles, and of course—devoured every single dish that featured pineapple as an ingredient.

Pineapple is a versatile fruit that can flavor both the sweetest of treats to the most savory of dishes. Not only does it taste great, but it is high in Vitamin C and fiber, so it is good for you, too.

From fruit salad to pineapple and ham pizza, every bite of this fresh fruit brings memories of sunshine to mind. Other fruits that bring memories of sunshine to mind? Chilled orange slices at the beach and sweet lemonade on a summer day. The contrast between the heat of a summer day and the chill of fresh citrus is so refreshing.

I love cutting up fresh orange, pineapple, and lemon slices and freezing them to place in glasses of ice water too cool down. Add a fun straw and sit poolside and you have a perfect summer day!
I wanted to bring all of my favorite summer citrus flavors together in a cupcake that is a must-bring to summer barbecues. Or if you are craving a simple summer dessert, these cupcakes are the treat for you!

This recipe is so easy. A simple yellow cupcake recipe is the base for a light, citrus cake and a pineapple cream cheese frosting garnished with a fresh orange slice will send you on a tropical vacation without even having to pack your bags. Coconut Oil takes the place of butter in this summery recipe as a tropical twist. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this refreshing treat.

  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1 ¾ cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • Frosting:
  • 1-8 oz. package of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup of Cool Whip
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • ½ cup of drained crushed pineapple
  • ½ tsp.  orange zest

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill muffin pan with 24 cupcake liners.
2.  In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3.   In a separate bowl, mix coconut oil and sugar. Slowly add in eggs, vanilla extract, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange zest.
4.   Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until well incorporated.
5.  Spoon into muffin liners and bake for 14-18 minutes until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6.  While cupcakes cool completely, mix cream cheese, cool whip, powdered sugar, crushed pineapple and orange zest until smooth.
7.  Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and top with orange slices.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Haiti: Mission to Love

Grace, You've shown me grace, You've lifted my shame
Drawn me with loving kindness
Washed whiter than snow
You have redeemed and made me whole

Beautiful Lord
Awesome and mighty
I'm captured by this love I see
Beautiful Lord
Tender and holy
Your mercy brings me to my knees  

Give me a childlike heart
Lead me to where You are
Cause I'm coming back
To my first love
Only You

And all the hearts that are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy

Shout it,
Go on and scream it from the mountains...
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us...

You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

And when the oceans rage, I don't have to be afraid. Your love never fails. 

*Lyrics from: 
All Sons and Daughters: "All the Poor and Powerless"
Leeland: "Beautiful Lord" 
Rend Collective: "Simplicity" 
Bethel Music: "You Have won Me" 
Bethel Music: "You Make Me Brave" 
Newsboys: "Your Love Never Fails" 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Favorite Foodie Blogs You Should Probably Follow

It's raining out so I snuggled up in a fuzzy blanket and I set my timer for two hours of R&R time. I had planned on taking a nap, but then became entranced by a food blog I read about on Yahoo News while checking my email...which led me to another food blog... which led me to even another food blog (all of the following actually won Saveur 2015 Blog Awards)...which led me to getting up & grabbing a snack because I was practically drooling all over my computer screen.

Here are the really great foodie blogs I came across and I think you probably should check out:

Lady and Pups- This is probably one of THE most genius food blogs I've ever seen. I want to make all of the food. I want someone else to make all of the food and I just want to eat all of the food:


My Name is Yeh blog: Okay. She is cool. Actually, I want to be her when I grow up I think. How beautiful are these pictures? And she makes cookie salads. Yes.... Cookie. Salads.

^^HOW does she make eggs so beautiful? I just do not know.

Brooklyn Supper blog: I spent a couple of weeks in Brooklyn, NY a few months ago and I have never eaten so many delicious things in my life. It must be a Brooklyn thing.

The Tart Tart blog: Not only are there beautiful pictures and recipes, but how cute is the name? The Tart Tart. so cute.

Okay, well I have some packing to do and you've got some food-blog reading to do! Happy Tuesday!

**all photos above are from the sites listed. not my own photos. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

If We Were Having Coffee....

If we were having coffee right now…
I’d tell you I’m currently sipping a vanilla latte that I got with my Starbucks rewards this morning... 

It costs you an arm and a leg to earn a free latte, but hey! when it happens, life is good.
I’d tell you I’m OBSESSED with fans. Yes, box fans. And ceiling fans. And mini desk fans. All fans. And I must have at least three going at all times. & sleeping without a fan (or three) is not permissible.
I’d ask you if you’re enjoying your summer and if you have any big travels or adventures ahead?
I’d tell you I spent the day yesterday in Greenville with some of my favorite people… 

…and we planned some surprise trips this summer THAT I CAN NOT WAIT FOR. It’s going to be great y’all.
I’d ask you what you think of this season’s Bachelorette and tell you I am NOT FOND OF IT. & I AM COMPLETELY DONE WITH IT. 

All caps are necessary because the caps & Britt's face^^^ show my true emotions about this season. 
I’d also ask you what you suggest I watch on Netflix because I was gifted a Netflix password for the first time and I think my life has been forever changed. So many shows. so much indecisiveness. WHAT SHOULD I WATCH!? 
 I'd tell you I wish we still had some more strawberries from our strawberry-picking excursion last weekend....

I'm telling you...the best $12 you can spend all summer!! 

& it's almost BLUEBERRY-picking season. My peach and blueberry bundles are on my to-make list next

This skincare line is incredible y’all. Absolutely incredible. I’d then ask you if you were interested in working for an awesome company, with your own hours, on your own time and say MESSAGE ME because Rodan +Fields has changed my life and it can change yours too.
I’d tell you my laptop battery IS CURRENTLY 2% AWAY FROM DYING AND I’M RUNNING AROUND THE HOUSE LIKE A LUNATIC trying to find the charger and plug it in. (y’all know what I’m talking about.)
Aha. There. Charging. :) 

I'd conclude's been a great coffee date and I hope we can have another one soon!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!            


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