Thursday, December 27, 2018

Chocolate Cake-- that your guests won't know is gluten free

I made this cake on Christmas Eve to serve for the Christmas Day meal that I cooked.  To be completely honest, I made this cake for myself.  I have food sensitivities and often can't fully enjoy traditional treats, because they'll literally make me sick and cause me to have a migraine that lasts two days or more.  I wanted to be able to have a yummy dessert that I could eat without worrying about how it would make me feel.  I did choose to alter a traditional recipe rather than making a "gluten-free" recipe dessert so that no one would notice it was gluten free.  I wanted it to taste like a regular cake and not having anyone guessing it was gluten free.

You can use regular flour, or you can make it gluten free, which is what I did.  This is a rich, dark chocolate cake.  The cake itself is almost a brownie texture with the potential to stick to the roof of your month.  One of my complaints with cake is most of them are dry, flaky, and boring.  Not this cake.  The icing is equally delicious.  I was tempted to just eat it out of the bowl by itself.

I'd like to make this again but experiment by making it dairy free.  I'd like to replace the eggs with flax or chia eggs.  I would also substitute the milk with almond milk.  I always cook with almond milk, but this time around I actually used 2% milk since I was serving it to other people and wasn't sure how the almond milk would do.  I would also like to substitute the white sugar with coconut sugar.  That will alter the flavor but will be gentler on my body.

This isn't a cake for people who don't like chocolate.  This is a cake for chocolate lovers.  I would name it Death by Chocolate Cake and make mini chocolate candy headstones to set on top surrounded by crumbled Oreo cookies (freshly dug graves, duh) if I was making this around Halloween instead of for Christmas dinner 😂.

I hope you enjoy this decadent cake!

Death by Chocolate Cake
adapted from "Especially Dark" cake and frosting recipes on back of Hershey's Dutch Cocoa package

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups Pamela's gluten-free flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Dutch Processed Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9 inch round pans.  I then lightly sprinkled cocoa powder on the greased pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water.  Pour batter into pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes then remove from pans to wire racks.  Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting (or let's be real, I call it icing):
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Dutch Processed Cocoa (I used half Hershey's Cocoa and half Sunflower brand cacao.  Cacao has super power nutrients and makes the icing taste even darker.)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
Melt butter.  Stir in cocoa/cacao.  Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.  Add small amount of additional milk if needed.  Frost the cake!

This cake isn't overly complicated, and it's worth every bit of work!  I'm definitely going to make it again soon!

Note: If you want a little different (not so dark) chocolate cake, give this one a try.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

How the Lineage of Jesus Applies to You

If you see a genealogy list in the Bible and think, “I can just skip over this”— DON’T!
The first chapter of Matthew starts with the genealogy of Jesus. Boring way to start, right? Wrong!
We first see that Jesus is from the line of David and Abraham— just as the Old Testament prophets foretold.
We close the genealogy by seeing the importance of Joseph being his earthy father. That’s how Jesus comes from the promised line.
We see men throughout this genealogy, godly men and evil men. God uses even the evil to complete his plan.
Let’s talk about the women, though. This is some real shouting ground for not only women but all mankind for how we can be used by God.
We read about Tamar in Genesis 38. Tamar’s story is one of heartbreak, full of evil, deceit, and broken promises. None of those things can thwart God’s plan. Through everything that happened to Tamar and even the deceit she committed, God showed grace and continued the line through her.
Rahab’s story is told in Joshua 2. She was a prostitute who came to have faith in God. God can use anyone, no matter their past or current situation.
Ruth gets her own book of the Bible! Despite being a widow, living in poverty, and going to a distant land, she has faith and is greatly blessed because of it. She is the great-grandmother of King David.
Who is Uriah’s wife that we see in the genealogy? That’s Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). Even in the genealogy list we’re reminded of the sin of David, the adultery and murder. Bathsheba becomes his wife, but she’s listed as her first husband’s wife in the list. God forgave David and later blessed him and Bathsheba with a son that would become king.
Bathsheba is the only one of the women above that was Jewish. Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth were from other nations, nations that practiced idolatry. God can use you no matter your background. Don’t use your background as an excuse to keep from being faithful to God.
God sees women. God uses women. God gives us grace beyond anything we deserve or can imagine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How I'm to View My Body

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with a head full of thoughts on two different subjects, so get ready for word vomit from me and to share your own thoughts. Here’s the first thing bursting out of my head: our physical bodies.
We (I know I can’t speak for everyone, but follow along if this applies to you) are so consumed with our physical bodies. Think about how much of your day is spent thinking about your body. How much do you analyze it or compare it to others’ bodies?
I am starting to get fine lines on my face. I see those and get a little startled that I’m old enough to have any! I try to take care of myself and this body I’ve been given. I apply creams and remind myself to drink water and do everything I can (within reason) to delay the aging process. I seem pretty fine with it...until someone contacts me saying they have a miracle solution to help with my aging. Then I ask myself if I really look that bad!
Let’s just skip over the grey hairs for now, because the 12 or so I’ve counted are sticking around for the time being. I’m not giving them any space in my mind right now. 😂
We’ll move on to the larger area of the body that is covered in stretch marks and cellulite. Thanks to a rare condition I have that causes my body to swell and has done so for a few years short of a decade, my body has stretched and released to accommodate the fluctuating fluids. Every line on my hips, waist, thighs, legs, and elsewhere is a constant reminder of physical and emotional pain I’ve felt from this condition. I’ve tried creams to make the lines and cellulite fade, because they’re not pretty by most people’s standards.
And, oh, my c-section. It left a scar, which really doesn’t bother me. But it also left a fold of skin above the scar. No matter how many workout videos I follow that are intended to make that fold vanish, it’s still there.
I, at times, avoid the mirror or will stand in the mirror and critique. Why? Because I’m not meeting the world’s standards. Because people say hurtful things. Because freckles, fine lines, stretch marks, cellulite, and folds are things you’re not supposed to have, right?
So what am I supposed to do? I’m to care for this body I’ve been given. Drink water, feed it nourishing food, get up and move. Even more than that, be thankful for it. Treat it in a way that’s pleasing to God. The fine lines are a reminder that God has gifted me with 33 years on this earth. The stretch marks and cellulite tell the story of the pain He brings me through. The evidence of a c-section is the evidence of how he brought my daughter into this world, saving her life and mine. They’re all signs of a life I have to be thankful for.
We take these bodies that were created in the image of God and are meant to house souls and spirits that are to glorify Him, and we instead worship the temple instead of Who created the temple. We worship the creation instead of the Creator. We tell God that what He has given us isn’t good enough. Would we really be happier with what we view as ideal bodies? I don’t think so. I see people with ideal bodies facing heartache too. Their physical bodies haven’t prevented them from pain.
My goal is to change my thoughts to thoughts of thanks each time I’m tempted to critique this body. Thank you, God, for life. May I worship you and what you’ve done in my life and view this body as a scrapbook of those stories and experiences, a body whose purpose is to reflect You.
I am made in the image of the Triune God: Genesis 1:26-27.
This body is God’s temple: 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20.
I’m pretty sure this will be a lifelong battle of choosing thankfulness over criticism, but don’t you think it’s a worthy battle?

[I’m pictured here with my daughter at her fourth birthday party. There’s nothing like having a daughter that will make you think about the way you speak about yourself and about how God created you.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Updated: Slap Yo Momma Cobbler

Back in 2011 I posted a cobbler recipe.  Since then, I have made the recipe more times than I can count.  It never fails to be delicious and a crowd favorite.

I have adjusted the recipe just a bit (the amount of sugar).  I thought I'd post it again in case you were looking for an easy, homemade dessert to take to Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever party you might have coming up!

Fruit Cobbler
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put 4 tbsp of butter in a dish and stick it in the oven until the butter melts.  Take the dish out of the oven, and swirl the butter around the bottom and sides.  You could use cooking spray if you want to skip the butter, but I like the buttery taste.
  • Cut up your fruit to whatever size you like.  You want anywhere from 2 to 3 cups of fruit once it's cut up (depending on how much crust to fruit ratio you want).  You can use whatever fruit you want.  Pictured above is peaches and strawberries.  They were both frozen, and I didn't thaw them.  You can use fresh or frozen fruit. 
  • Mix the fruit with 1/3 to 1 cup of sugar.  This where you'll have to adjust to your liking.  When I originally made this recipe, I used 1 cup of sugar-- always.  I was always using tart fruit like berries or plums.  They needed the sugar to mellow the tartness.  When I started making it with just peaches, I found that I only needed 1/3 cup of sugar.  If you're not sure how much to use, you can use 1/2 cup.  That won't be overly sweet, but it may still leave some tartness if you make a berry cobbler.
  • Start making the crust: 3/4 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of baking powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 tsp of vanilla.  I mix the dry ingredients and then add the milk and vanilla into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the crust into the baking dish.
  • Pour the fruit on top, evenly distributing it.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and bubbling.  I have found that every oven cooks differently, so it could take anywhere from 45-60 minutes.
I am definitely someone who experiments with recipes and cooking and baking.  Because you can make this cobbler with any fruit you want, there can't be an exact sugar measurement across the board.  The sugar will need to be adjusted according to what fruit you use.  You can add the sugar to the fruit a little at a time and take a small bite to see if it's enough.

Any time I make this, people love it and scrape the dish clean!  I made it for women's Bible study this Monday and didn't even get a bite before everyone else got to it!

Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top if you want to serve this at a dinner party you're hosting!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

10 Things I Made with Cricut Maker

I recently got a Cricut Maker, and I'm having fun learning how to use it.  Here are the last ten things I've made using the Cricut Maker.

You can click the link under each photo to get more information.

Bonus: I made a cover for my machine.  You can watch a video of how here.  I also made some paper crafts.  Click on the second picture to see more.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Psalm 84: No Good Thing Does He Withhold

I started reading through the book of Psalms a few weeks ago.  Today I got to Psalm 84.  Verse 11 reads, "For the Lord is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those who walk is blameless."

You might be saying, "But is that really the case?"

In April 2012, I wrote a blog post, just barely touching on this subject.

Since that blog post, I have been more sick than I was at the time I wrote that, have had job changes, have had less money, have had a child, have been well, have been sick again, have been getting better, have had more financially, on and on.

Here is one thing that has not changed: God's goodness.

Despite the sickness, physical pain, emotional rollercoasters,  and financial strains, God has not changed or been less good.  I have seen His goodness more and more.  Not because He has been more good (excuse the grammar there), but because my eyes have been opened more to His goodness.

So, how can we say that God doesn't withhold good from us when we may be ill or financially struggling?  Maybe it's because what we deem as good isn't the same thing God deems as good.  My illness isn't good, and it's a sign of this broken world.  But this illness can be a tool in God's hand to grow me and teach me lessons I wouldn't learn otherwise.  Growing is good.  Learning is good.  God teaching me is good.

We have to see good as God sees good.  When we love and follow Him, He doesn't withhold good.  He doesn't leave us-- good.  He shelters us-- good.  He grows us-- good.  He loves us even though we never deserve it-- good.

My pastor regularly says that God is more interested in my holiness than He is in my happiness.  It's not that He doesn't want me to be happy.  It's that what He wants more is for me to be holy.  Sometimes what I see as bad is really God teaching me to be more like Him.  What I see is such a small part of the bigger picture.  I have to trust God and His plan.  Even when my health is failing or the finances are bare.  Never does the Bible say that those things will fulfill me anyway.

When you back up in Psalm 84, you see that good is dwelling with God (verse 4) and praising Him (v. 4), finding strength in Him (v. 5), abiding in His house rather than among the wicked (v. 10). Being with God is good, a God that is the only One who satisfies (Ps. 81:16).  He doesn't withhold His presence from us when we go to Him.  And even better-- He comes looking for us!

When I wrote that post in 2012, I included two videos that I'll include again.

I need daily reminders of what it means to see and receive God's goodness.  The world can tell me that's status and money and my physical appearance.  But thank goodness, goodness is so much more beyond any of that.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Video: Return to Longbow

Colin and I returned to beautiful Longbow!  Watch the video of our trip!

Video of our first trip to Longbow: click here

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Video: Mission Trip to Wyoming

Colin and I took six college students to Wyoming for a mission trip during their spring break this March.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Video: Jackson, Mississippi

Harlow and I went with my parents to a church conference in Jackson, Mississippi. We spent most of our time downtown. We stayed at the King Edward Hotel (for the second time). We found a new favorite restaurant in walking distance to the hotel-- Iron Horse Grill. The downtown area is easy to walk and interesting to check out.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Video: Getaway to Longbow Resort

Colin and I took a getaway to Longbow Resort this past November.  I finally got around to editing the video!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Video: Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty

I uploaded this to YouTube a few days before Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty event began.  It just ended yesterday, but here are my recommendations on what you might want to pick up the next time you're shopping for makeup!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Video: Bold Eye Look

Need a bold eye in a hurry?  Try this out!

I filmed this two days before Ultra released their 21 Days of Beauty calendar!  I used some products that will be on sale!

Products used:
★Willing Beauty Skincare:
★Smashbox Photo Finish Primer:
★It Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact:
★It Cosmetics 704 Brush:
★ABH Brow Wiz:
★Urban Decay Primer Potion:
★Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette:
★EcoTools Shadow Brush:
★Real Techniques Shadow Brush:
★Ulta Coconut Eyeshadow:
★Essence Lash Princess (purple and black tube):
★Tarte Clay Play:
★Real Techniques Sculpting Brush (I have the mini that is not available right now):
★Real Techniques Contour Brush (I have the mini that is not available right now):
★Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer:
★elf Blush in Blushing (packing seems to have changed):
★EcoTools Blush Brush:
★Wet N Wild Small Stippling Brush:
★elf Highlight in Moonlight Pearls:
★Ulta Radiant Diamond Powder:
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