August 27, 2014

Cupcake Corer

I have a little secret for you and I'm about to spill the beans. There is a lovely new blogger named Bex that you just have to check out. She blogs over at the Butcher's niche and she's talking about all life's most fabulous features food, fashion and everything in between. 

Today Bex is sharing one of her favorite baking secrets with you and since she's being so kind, I highly recommend you repay the favor and hop on over to her blog and say "hi!"

Hey new friends! I'm Bex and I blog over at Butcher's niche. I'm so excited to be here with Brittany today to share my new favorite cooking tool - a cupcake corer! just so you know no one asked me to write this post, it is most definitely not sponsored I just really love this cupcake corer and want to share my new trick with EVERYONE
I love it when I'm able to cook something that is SO delicious but is secretly SO easy - and filled cupcakes are one of the most delicious and easiest thanks to my gadget! I also love how this recipe can be tweaked to make it with your favorite flavors or whatever you have at home! 

Let's get to the details . . .
photo 1 (26)
Start with your favorite white or yellow cupcake recipe, Martha's is my personal favorite for homemade cupcakes because if you'd like a little extra flavor like white chocolate or key lime . . . just add a package of pudding. If you like to go the box route (which I do when I'm pressed for time or find them on sale) you can add the pudding there also.

For this recipe I added some white chocolate so my exact ingredients are:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 small package white chocolate jello pudding
Preheat your oven to 350 . . . then mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, pudding together . . . in a separate bowl mix the butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk together . . . then put the liquids on top of the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Spray a cupcake pan down with pam, olive oil, butter . . . which ever you prefer . . . and fill each spot 2/3 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

Let them cool for at least 10 minutes . . . I like to let them cool a little longer just to be sure they are not warm to the touch.

Now for the fun part . . . using the corer . . . just sit on top, in the middle, push the circle down, and gently pull it out . . .
photo 3 (22)
Fill each hole with whatever you want . . . I chose some raspberry jam this time, but I'm really exciting to make some with nutella or chocolate batter with whipped peanut butter!

photo (26)

Finally, ice them and decorate all pretty like with some vanilla icing . . . and yes I try to use Martha's recipe . . . icing and I have a love/hate relationship. It usually ends up too runny for me so sometimes (about 75% of the time) I get store bought . . . I will master icing one day.

photo 2 (24)

That's it! I served the cupcakes I made to show you at work for my boss's birthday and he said they were the best cupcakes he ever had . . . thanks Martha and thanks cupcake corer ;)

What's your favorite cupcake recipe?

See I told you she was amazing! I mean, just look at those cupcakes. They might appear on my game-day menu for college football kickoff next week! 


 Be Blessed,
Brittany
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August 26, 2014

The Value of Positivity

I can't claim these words, because they're not my own. In fact, they came from an Atlanta radio personality, Jeff Dauler. He posted this on his Facebook Page but I think the sentiment is so true that I really wanted to share it, in it's entirety. Last year I wrote about Operation Tucci, a pay-it-forward campaign started after the senseless killing of a very generous young man. I believe that the human spirit is equipped and eager to project kindness but oftentimes jaded by some of the world's harsh truths. These post explains the true value of positivity. 


_______________________________________________________________________________

I would like to address two groups of people:

1. People who think that the ice bucket challenge is stupid / wastes water / serves only the ego of the dumper / doesn't directly contribute to finding a cure / whatever.

2. People who don't 'get' the Starbucks campaigns where drive-thru customers pay it forward to others, sometimes for hours and hours.

If you fall into one of those categories, please keep reading. Otherwise, you are welcome to scroll on.

I'm not going to bore you with facts about how much awareness / money was raised for ALS in 2014 vs 2013 to attempt to explain why that campaign worked. I am also not going to quote economists to explain why your Starbucks kindness didn't really amount to anything, as Fast Company magazine did the other day.

Instead, I'd ask you to consider that there are other currencies ... more important currencies ... than money.

I truly have no issue with people who dumped ice but didn't donate. I don't care if their check was $1000, $100, $1, or there was no check. Because for one bucket and that one video, that person felt like they were doing good. They were helping. If they didn't write a check or even know what ALS was, they still spread some good. They felt, for a few seconds, like they were contributing. Maybe they can't afford to open their wallet. Maybe they support other causes. Maybe they don't care to learn about ALS. But maybe the person they tagged then tagged someone else who tagged someone else who tagged a woman who wrote a $5000 check. Or who just learned her husband has ALS. Or who simply laughed at the noise you made when the water ran down your back.

Or maybe none of those things happened. Maybe they just dumped a bucket of water on their head and felt good about it.

Over 300 people paid it forward in a Starbucks line last week. Some of those people spent more than they would have if they simply bought their own coffee, some spent less. In the end, financially, the only true, big 'winner' was the last person in line. The one who decided NOT to pay it forward. But before that happened, over 300 people went to their office / school / home / wherever and told their friends that they were a part of something kind. Something big. Something spontaneous and fun and positive. Who knows how many random acts of pay it forward were inspired by that? Maybe someone in that line was coming home from a tough doctors appointment or headed to a vital job interview. And for a minute, in that line, they forgot about the stress and anxiety and instead felt good and positive and happy. How many phone calls or text messages occurred right after someone got, then gave, coffee in that line? Messages of positivity, versus a traffic sucks / Starbucks was busy / I hate my outfit contact.

More positive ions out into the world.

Doesn't laughter and kindness and support have worth as well? It's not all about the checkbook.

Positive energy is so valuable, so easy to find and share, but sometimes hard to see. Don't shut it down when it's right in front of you. And do what you can to put it out there as often as possible. And when you encounter it, if your first instinct is to combat it, think again.

Cause in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. Or something like that.

_______________________________________________________________________________

What are your thoughts? How can you pay-it-forward and make a positive impact on the world today? 

 Be Blessed,
Brittany
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August 25, 2014

Spinach & Cranberry Salad

I hope you all had a beautiful weekend. One more work week until the long weekend. Score!

It's been awhile since I've shared a recipe with you so I thought a healthy (and delicious) take on a spinach salad might be just the power food to help you get through to the weekend. Which I hope, for your sake, is full of grilled deliciousness and game food, because it's COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICKOFF WEEKEND! Duh! Which is basically heaven on earth, but I digress. 

Now onto the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of spinach or baby spinach, whichever you prefer 
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 radish 
  • 3 Tablespoons of dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of slice almonds
  • Dressing of your choice 

Preparation Instructions:
Place the spinach is a medium-sized bowl. Wash and shred the carrot and radish. This can be done with a simple cheese grater. 


Combine the spinach with the shredded vegetables and mix. Top with the cranberries and sliced almonds. 

If you're making this ahead of time in mason jars, layer the spinach, carrot and radish mixture on the bottom, until it's about 3/4. Sprinkle the cranberries and almonds on top. This is a great idea if you want to prepare them for lunches or a unique way to serve salad to your dinner guests. 

Add your favorite dressing, if desired, only wheb you're ready to serve.

Enjoy!



 Be Blessed,
Brittany
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August 22, 2014

The Truth about Keratin

By now, you've probably heard about the hair-straightening treatment known as KERATIN. The expensive, chemical treatment alters your hair follicles and the outside layer of each hair strand to reduce frizz.

I recently had a keratin treatment and I'm here to debunk some common misconceptions:


Your hair will not be super straight. Boom. I said it, and this was a shocker to me. I thought keratin was the key to glorious hair days. The end of buns and up-dos, but I was wrong. Oh, so wrong. My hair is less frizzy but not perfectly straight. In fact when I do wear my hair down I still run a straighter over it. However, a great benefit to the treatment is that when I do leave my hair up the creases that hair ties leave are far less noticeable.

You'll need to use special shampoo. Before you take the plunge, stock up on sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, to help extend the life of your treatment. Even if you aren't considering a keratin treatment, maybe you should consider switching to a sulfate-free shampoo. An article by the Huffington Post explains why it's in your best interest.

You can't get your hair wet for 48-72 hours after the treatment. That's right smelly. No showers for you. Make sure you get in a good workout prior to a keratin treatment because water will damage the effects of the chemical treatment. Just be aware of this little caveat and make plans accordingly.

Straight hair for days. By that I mean, post-treatment you have to leave your hair down and straight for 3 days! No buns, no ponytails, no braids. You'll be rocking straight, unwashed locks for days.

It might burn. You're dealing with some pretty aggressive chemicals so don't be surprised if you're eyes water and your scalp burns a bit when the treatment is being applied. It's normal.

Dandruff. I haven't personally experienced this one but a common complaint with keratin is that it can dry out your scalp and give you killer dandruff. Split ends are also an issue for some people

Hello shiny hair. My hair is super shiny and I LOVE IT. I used to use Moroccan Oil Gold Glimmer Shine Spray and now it's just collecting dust in the back of my cabinet because my hair has a perpetual shine.

I just want to run my fingers though it. ALL. THE. TIME. One of the best features is how soft my hair feels. When it's down and straight, it feels glorious.

BEFORE

AFTER

Have you ever had a keratin treatment, or considered getting one?

 Be Blessed,
Brittany
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August 20, 2014

The Cure for Writer's Block

It happens to the best of us. The day will come when we don't frantically jab away at our keyboards pouring out our souls to the interweb because, well, we just run out of ideas and things to talk about. So to help you in your time of need, I've put together a list of writing topics.


You can always write about:
  • Your favorite vacation 
  • Your favorite books/beauty products/kitchen supplies
  • How you met your best friend/spouse 
  • Things that make you smile 
  • Your favorite bible verse 
  • Your dream job
  • The first time you broke a bone 
  • Details about your wedding (with pics of course)
  • Recurring dreams
  • Celebrity encounters 
  • The best gift you've ever given and received 
  • Pet peeves
  • Your favorite recipe 
  • Close encounters with death
  • A list of people you'd like to have a drink with (dead or alive)
  • A moment you were terrified 
  • What would you eat for (and how would you make) your last supper
  • A story or lesson learned from from a grandparent
  • Holiday traditions 
  • Your first love 
  • Your first broken heart
  • A letter to your high school self 
  • A time you were out of your comfort-zone
  • Your ideal boss
  • Why you choose your college 
  • Your dream vacation
  • What you'd do if you had to spend a day without electricity
  • Your morning routine
  • Your biggest fear 
  • What you order from Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Chipotle
  • Something you're an expert in 
  • Tell a joke
  • Your favorite places to shop 
  • Your day from someone else's perceptive (your child, dog, refrigerator or goldfish)
  • Three things you'd save if your house was on fire
  • If you won $1,000,000 how would you spend it
  • Your ideal weekend
  • That one time at band camp... church camp...cheer camp... or whatever camp 
  • Your favorite childhood hobby 
  • Blogging tips and tricks
  • How to....
  • Your wish list 
If you still can't think of something to write try some of these ideas:
  • Polyvore something, anything
  • Create a photo-tour of a room in your house, your work space or car
  • Pinterest collage 
  • Compile a list of the top ten funniest videos/Tweets... you've seen this week
  • Vlog 
  • Share your favorite commercials 
  • Host a giveaway 
Well now that I've shared almost all my secrets, you'll be glad to know you can expect many of these topics to reappear in some of my future posts. If you have any other great post ideas, feel free to share! 

 Be Blessed,
Brittany
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August 18, 2014

$100 Cash + 11 Other Awesome Prizes {Giveaway}

The giveaways keep rolling this month...

This time we are giving away $100 cash, but these gracious ladies also contributed other items to giveaway. The best part is that there will be 12 separate winners, so you have 12 chances to win one of these great prizes! Some of the ladies have also included discount codes for their sponsorships that you can use so be sure to enter below and take a look!
OTHER PRIZES:
US-1075-00
PROMO CODES:
Living Lavender: use code "LAVENDER30" FOR 30% off all sponsorships Marry Mint: use code "AUGUST" FOR 50% off all sponsorships A Sorta Fairytale: use code "FAIRYTALE40" for 40% off all sponsorships A Time For Seasons: use code "lavender" for 50% off all sponsorships
a Rafflecopter giveaway  Be Blessed,
Brittany
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