Like the calendar format? I'm loading my pictures into monthly calendars at Shuttercal.com. Here's to 11 more successful months!
Welcome to the Spread the Love Blog Hop! We are excited to be bringing you ideas for Valentine's Day. On this stop, I'm sharing a recipe for one of my most favorite kinds of cake... Red Velvet! It's a party and one of the sweetest holidays of the year, so of course our blog hop needs a cake!
Red velvet is rich, slightly chocolately and not overly sweet. We chose this as our wedding cake and now enjoy any excuse to have a slice or cupcake.
2-1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red liquid food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups confectioner's sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Makes approximately 24 cupcakes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place paper liners into muffin pan.
3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and oil using an electric mixer on medium speed.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, to bowl of wet ingredients and beat until incorporated.
6. Add food coloring and vanilla extract to bowl of wet ingredients and beat until incorporated.
7. Alternate between adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the bowl of wet ingredients. Beat on low speed between each addition of ingredients.
8. In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and white vinegar. Allow to become foamy.
9. Add foamy mixture to the batter and mix on medium speed for approximately ten seconds.
10. Pour the batter into lined muffin pan, dividing evenly among the muffin cups so that each is about three-quarters full.
11. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
12. Remove from oven and transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack before removing the cupcakes.
13. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
14. Beat butter and cream cheese with mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes.
15. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed after adding each cup of sugar.
16. Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
17. Spread onto cupcakes and enjoy!
Red velvet cupcakes are already colored for Valentine's Day all on their own. But if you want to make them even more festive, you can make your own toppers like I did.
To create these toppers, I was inspired by the popular conversation hearts. I simply chose my favorite sayings, printed them in an all-capital-letters onto colorful paper, and punched out the sayings with my heart punch. I then put adhesive on the back-side of one heart, rested a toothpick onto the heart, and sealed it in place with a second heart. Yummy and pretty!
I hope you'll check out the other amazing projects we have to share with you for Valentine's Day! Please stop by these blogs for more great ideas...
Carrie at Through the Camera Lens
Laura at Cameron Crazy
Maya at Basement Chronicles
Melissa at Sunlight and Simplicity
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a very lovely Valentine's Day!
Instead of making a real dinner, catching up on Design Your Life, or doing anything on my "to do" list, tonight I'm going to keep digging into this...
I am so fascinated by the idea of playing an active role in determining your own happiness that I can't stop reading. It begs the question, instead of waiting or assuming happiness is just around the corner, what if you made conscious decisions and took actions toward goals that you knew would bring you more happiness.
Gretchen Rubin wrote "The Happiness Project" after her year-long project to add more happiness to her own life. There are multiple schools of thought on happiness, whether it's something that can be increased, and whether you have a say in the matter. After her own extensive research, Rubin decides that "yes" you can influence your own happiness. With that settled, Rubin determines her plan for the year and chronicles the project.
Although I'm not far in the book, it's been packed with thought-provoking ideas and quotes. For example, as Rubin develops her plan, she establishes some guiding principles and "commandments." And she whittles down all the research, theory and opinion to this basic concept: "To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth."
I'm very inspired by Rubin's idea to think about and record your own personal commandments. Recording your own commandments is an opportunity to identify the values and the principles that you want to guide your own actions and thoughts. I think it's a useful exercise to help you reframe situations when your gut-reaction is not the best choice. So today, I reflected on my own values and came up with these ten personal commandments:
I already had the chance to practice these commandments. My drive from work to home takes me through very busy Milwaukee streets, where drivers are known to frequently switch lanes and speed at minimum of 10 miles over the limit. On the drive home tonight I was cut off by a car that was speeding. My usual reaction: "what a stupid driver!" Or worse! Today, I told myself, "no judgment," said a little thank you that there was no car accident, and immediately got back to enjoying the radio. I know it sounds minor, but I really do believe that small daily choices to be positive add up to overall feelings of joy.
If you like the idea of recording your own personal commandments, I encourage you to visit two places:
Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project Blog
The Happiness Project Toolbox
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that this concept didn't fully click for me until I picked up the book. I had been following the blog for a couple of weeks, but I wasn't inspired to action and didn't make as many connections until I started reading the book. Which is not to say the blog and toolbox are useless! But if it's not 100% clicking for you but you know you're intrigued by the topic, I encourage you to pick up the book, too.
I'm looking forward to sharing more thoughts as I continue to read "The Happiness Project." Have you been following Rubin's blog or read her book?
I admit it. I have a serious crush on Anthony Bourdain.
Seriously. I mean, he's got this whole mysterious, rugged, older man thing going on. But maybe it's just me! My hubby has learned to deal with my crush and together we love watching his show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations.
And tonight, we are seeing him LIVE! He's doing a tour right now, talking about food, travelling, and writing. So it will be an evening of dinner and then the Anthony Bourdain show.
I. Can't. Wait.
Do you have any favorite food and travel shows? And please tell me I'm not the only one in love with this man!
I love books. You may not know it from this blog, since it's not a popular topic around here. But I'm a reader, through and through.
My college degree is in English Literature. I walked into college as a lover of many kinds of books, but most specifically anything on the Oprah book club list, with a few Stephen King novels thrown in. I graduated obsessed with anything written by Margaret Atwood and with an emphasis in postcolonial women's literature.
I started a book club this summer with friends and we meet every six weeks or so. We met this week and got on the topic of what we read and why. I'll normally choose a challenging novel over lighter reading or self-help. It's not about trying to be pretentious. Or high brow. I really think it centers around the personal decision on why we read. In college, I became accustomed to being challenged by novels and ended up liking that aspect of the reader experience. I like to have to think about what I'm reading and like learning something in the process. I also became accustomed to writing ridiculously specific essays that analyze a novel to pieces. I'm convinced that writing in this way trains you to be very good at writing analytical essays and very bad at writing general reviews.
But I want to change that. I want to feel comfortable writing my general reactions to the books we read for book club. So I do hope you'll enjoy if I share a few thoughts on our books for this year... starting with our most recent selection, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows.
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an immensely delightful novel that passes far too quickly because of its style and charming characters. Written in the form of letters between the novel's major and minor characters, a story unfolds of the German occupation of the British Guernsey Island during World War II. But this is not a novel about war. Rather, it's a few years after the war and a London writer begins an unexpected exchange of letters with the people of Guernsey, who started the society named in the title and begin telling the stories of their society and the occupation.
The characters are well-rounded and interesting. And the way they "wrote" their letters had me laughing and near tears along the way. I never felt like the letters were overly-contrived, considering they were the authors' only method for providing us with important details. I breezed through this novel because I couldn't seem to put it down and kept thinking I'd read "just one more letter."
There were many interesting themes to this novel. The war is present to frame our understanding of their real-life conditions. But in the end this story is about friendship, hope, love, and the power of reading. The novel was historically interesting, easy to read without being "fluffy," and very enjoyable.
I definitely recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! Have you read this book? I'd love to hear your thoughts!