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I Made A Fancy Cake!

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I like to bake. It started as a way to channel stress and has turned into something that I 85% enjoy and 15% use to punish myself. This past week a friend of mine was turning the big 2-6 (insert eye roll) and I wanted to make her a cake to soften the inevitable downhill slide into 30. She isn’t a huge fan of things that are overpoweringly sweet so I had think about a little bit.

I came up with a few ideas, but what I finally decided on was a Buttermilk Vanilla Cake, filled with Lemon Curd & Raspberry Jam, with the whole thing frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. That’s a lot, right? It sounds super complicated, and it might have been initially, but broken down step by step, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t do decorated layer cakes often, but I am staring to see improvement in my frosting and assembling. I’ve gotten a lot faster and picked up some tricks along the way, like chilling my cake in the fridge for half an hour after doing a crumb coat. It’s definitely one of those situations where you’re going to get a little better every time you do it. 
Decoration-wise I knew two things when I started: the cake needed to be that millennial pink and it needed to work around the fantastic pink “happy birthday” topper I found. I started with a sprinkling of crushed freeze-dried raspberries , put the topper in place, and then I just started piling things on. I used fresh roses, fresh raspberries, white chocolate shards, and edible gold stars… and of course, shimmer dust. Gotta have the shimmer dust. Before I knew it, the cake was chilling in the fridge, and I was trying to figure out how to safely get it across town. I think it turned out okay and the birthday girl was floored so I think this definitely goes into the win column. She also loved the flavor combination and really enjoyed that it was something specifically tailored to her. Lots of fun, but I don’t think I’ll be doing another one of these for a while, a few weeks at lease.


The Kitten Lady

Cats have been a part of my life from day one, always rescues and always treated like members of the family. In the last couple of years, Andy and I have had to expand our cat care skills to twice daily blood tests and insulin injections and it’s hard. Completely worth while, but hard. And that was for two people who know a decent amount about cat care. What about people don’t have the benefit that we have? I was talking to one of the ladies who works at our local cat cafe about cats and cat care, and she told us about one of her favorite feline resources The Kitten Lady.

Hannah Shaw is a kitten rescuer, humane educator, and unwavering animal advocate who has dedicated her life to finding innovative ways to protect animals. Her project, Kitten Lady, strives to create global change in the way we perceive and treat the tiniest and most vulnerable felines: orphan kittens.


I spent an entire afternoon binge watching videos on her YouTube channel. So much good information and if you just need a kitten fix? She has plenty of videos of the little ones she takes care of. Let’s be honest – there is a lot of bad in the world and sometimes you really need a story about a really cute kitten that overcame adversity to become a gorgeous happy health fur baby in a loving fur-ever home. Trust me, all the feels.

Super cute and heartwarming, right? If you are interested in supporting Kitten Lady, you can donate to the project here, or you can purchase something from their shop. You can also check out their upcoming events here.

Images from here


Scrambled Egg Breakfast Muffins

Mornings are hard and sometimes making good choices in the morning are even harder. I am lucky enough to have a husband who makes sure that I have a healthy breakfast every morning, but he rarely extends that courtesy to himself. I wanted to do something for him, but I well understand my limits so I knew this would have to be strategic. I’ve seen lots of people making “egg cups” online, and it seemed like a good place to start. So this past Sunday I read a bunch of recipes on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot.

Ingredients:

  • 7 eggs
  • 1/8 cup of milk
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of cheese (I used goat cheese, but you can use whatever)
  • Salt & pepper to taste.
    *I also through in some garlic and a little Mrs. Dash seasoning 😉

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease the muffin tin.
  2. Slice mushrooms and chop spinach.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, scramble the eggs and then mix in the eggs, salt, and pepper.
  4. Stir in the veggies and divide the mixture between the muffin cups.
  5. Sprinkle in the cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool and then you’re good to go.
  7. You can store the extra in the fridge for up to a week,

Notes:

  • To make sure that I was getting a less biased reaction, I took a couple to my friend Cassie; both she and Andy really liked them. 10 out of 10, would try again. I, on the other hand, have a weird texture thing with eggs, and they were just a bit…squidgy for me.
  • I think these would work with so many other mix-ins; Andy and I have already talked about some other variations we’d like to try. One of my friends is thinking of trying a super protein packed option for her husband.

Guest Post: Improve Your Outlook on Life with Better Sleep Habits with Julie Morris


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Did you know your mental health is linked to your sleep habits? Our brains regroup while we sleep, so of course health suffers when we don’t get enough. Here is more information about why you need a good night’s sleep for your mental wellness, and what you can do about it.

Unhealthy at Best

Most people don’t think that mental health and sleep are connected, but going without sleep is extremely unhealthy. We can get irritable when we do without, but it’s more than that. In fact, it can damage mental health. According to Newsweek, when we’re sleep deprived, crankiness is just the top layer of trouble. On top of being cranky, poor sleep habits can cause you to engage in negative thought patterns, continually mulling over bad things and focusing on what’s wrong in life. When you start digging in, some studies show a connection between too little sleep and a number of serious mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and paranoia are connected with not getting enough sleep. Apparently, old-school science felt poor sleep stemmed from depression, but some newer studies show it’s the other way around. Bottom line: Sleep deprivation doesn’t stop with a rotten attitude.

How Much Is Enough?

Every mind and body is different, but there are some general guidelines for how much sleep we need. Most adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night. Children generally require quite a bit more — around 12 hours or more in youngsters and up to 17 hours in infants – and older adults can require somewhat less. If you’re groggy during the day or rely on caffeine for a boost, those are indicators you should get more sleep, or the quality of your sleep could use improvement. So what can you do about that? Plenty.

Sleep Environment

Your sleep environment plays a big role in the quality of your slumber. Adding aromatherapy in restful scents like lavender or cedarwood can be a boon. Sleep patterns are inherently linked to daylight, so controlling the light in your environment can also equate to better quality sleep. One suggestion is to dim lights close to bedtime and ensure the room is completely dark for sleep. Another great way to improve sleep quality is with a new mattress, especially if you suffer with aches and pains. Don’t pick the first mattress that comes along; read reviews and choose a high-quality mattress that suits your sleeping style, whether you’re a hot sleeper, sleep on your side, or whatever your idiosyncrasies are.

Better Routine

Do you tend to stay up late some nights watching favorite shows or lingering over social media, then try to make up for it other nights by going to bed early or by napping? It turns out that habit can contribute to poor slumber. HuffPost suggests setting a schedule to improve your sleep habits. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day can help your body develop a healthy rhythm.

Drop the Bedtime Snack

Many of us enjoy a late-evening snack before turning in, but it turns out it could be a contributing factor in poor sleep quality. If you do grab a little something before bed, choose a light snack and steer clear of fatty, spicy, or deep-fried foods. Also, avoid caffeine late in the day since the stimulant effect can be counterproductive.

Sleep Well

With a handful of good habits, you can improve your sleep and your mental health. Next time you’re feeling cranky, consider how you’re sleeping and look for ways to improve. Better slumber can mean a healthier mind.


Currently: September

It’s September, guys. Sep. Tem. Ber. How the hell did that happen? I feel like the summer flew by, and we are now the merest of days from the holiday season. My calendar says it’s fall!  As unprepared as I feel for this development, I must admit I am a bit excited. I love this time of year, and things are just going to get more fun from here. Lots and lots of things in the works, but here is what is going on in my life currently.

Watching – The Great British Baking Show. There is a new season on Netflix and though I was initially a little resistant (most of the original cast is gone) it’s been pretty good. Plenty of impressive bakes, plenty of bad puns… okay, I can get behind this. I miss Sue and Mel, but I guess it isn’t horrible to meet new people, right?

Eating – A lot of salad. It may officially be fall, but Tallahassee is still stubbornly stuck in it’s summer weather and gives no sign of changing anytime soon. Cool foods that require minimal amounts of cooking are still king in our household. We are also lucky in that our local Publix carries a truly impressive amount of salad mixes. Rip open a bag, add your protein of choice, and dinner is done in under 20 minutes.

Wanting –  Some laid back down time. Andy and I are still a bit frazzled from both of us starting new jobs. Things have started to calm down just a bit, but with the holidays right around the corner, we want to rest up as much as we can before the insanity ensues. This past three day weekend helped a bit; it was the first chance we’ve really had to relax in a  really long time. It was wonderful, even if it wasn’t super productive. Another weekend or two like that and I think we’ll be good to go.

Listening – To a lot of Panic at the Disco. I rediscovered my passion for the band a couple of weeks ago when I found myself in need of some….background noise. Trading in my office for a cube has been fine, with the exception of the noise. Some of my new office-mates are very social, and while I am a pretty friendly person, I find it really distracting when I need to focus and really get into what I am working on. Panic is pretty loud without being headache inducing, and I know their work well enough that I can lip sync along without it ruining my concentration.

Trying: New things. This whole new job thing sent my stress level through the roof. Irrationally so. My take away from this is that I need to try more new things until I can stop being such an overly dramatic pansy. This past weekend it was going to cat yoga by myself; it’ll be an ongoing project. My current metric is if the idea of doing something makes me panic a little, then it might be worth trying. I am a little embarrassed to admit that it seems like I am going to be very busy for the next little bit.

 

Image from here.