Lemon Spring Cupcakes

So my boys had been begging me to make cupcakes for about 2 days and I finally gave in (it was now the first day of Spring, which they had been looking forward to all month). I was looking for a recipe that looked good, and I came across this recipe for vanilla cupcakes and I thought, “I’ll try that one!” and I got started.

Well, partway through, I realized that I was out of vanilla extract! “No big deal,” I thought. “I’ll just use lemon.” Nice and bright and springy anyway for the first day of Spring. Can’t go wrong. And then I realized I also didn’t have any Greek yogurt. Uh, oh. So I poke around in my refrigerator to see what I’ve got, and lo and behold, there’s a partially used can of “extra thick” coconut cream, and I figure I could try that, just to see what would happen, because, after all, I couldn’t turn back now; half of my ingredients were measured and mixed!

I get my batter finished with it’s modifications, preheat my teeny little toaster oven, grease my miniature muffin pan with butter, fill the 12 tiny cups with the cupcake batter, and hope for the best.

The batter tasted fantastic (the child in me can never resist licking the spatula, and my boys begged me to let them lick the beaters from the mixer too. It was awesome.), but I wasn’t sure how the final baked product would be as far as texture and rise.

Let me tell you what: These were the most fabulous, perfect, fantastic, wonderful, glorious little mini cupcakes I’ve ever had! Oh my!😀 We ate the whole little mini tray before I could even get the second pan in the oven (and then I had to institute a temporary “no touch” rule just so I could get some frosting made for them; if I hadn’t they would’ve all been gone before I could even get it mixed, much less decorated!).

Pay no attention to the poor quality of my photo. Cell phones at 11PM just don’t do these beauties justice…

LemonCupcakes

Not the best piping job either, in places, but my boys were bugging me (“can I have one now? Can I eat it yet? When are you going to be finished?”) so I had to get ’em done quick!😉

Now that I’ve told you the back story and how fabulous they turned out, I shall share the recipe with you so you can see just how awesome they are for yourself!

By the way, remember how I said I greased my pan with butter? Well, I definitely recommend doing that instead of using those canned sprays. It gave the edges of the cupcake this perfect little hint of crisp that was absolutely delicious! Just leave a chunk of butter on the counter until it’s soft, wad up a paper towel like a ball, swipe it across your softened butter blob, and swirl in the cupcake pan (make sure it’s a thin coat, just enough to see a film of greasiness, not an opaque swath of butter streaks!.. you don’t want your cupcakes swimming in butter!). They pop out just fine with a little twist and you don’t have to worry about buying those little paper cups (unless you just prefer the cups: it does eliminate the need to wash your pan when you’re done, though you miss out on the awesome little butter edges).

So here goes!

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) at room temperature
2 large eggs (also room temp)
2 teaspoons lemon flavoring or extract (Simply Organic is what I used)
1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Extra Thick coconut cream (I get mine from Trader Joe’s
2/3 cup whole milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake pan/muffin tin/whatever you want to call it with butter (or you can line with paper/silicone liners if you prefer). Set aside.
In medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together to incorporate. Set aside.
In mixing bowl add the room temperature butter. Beat on medium speed for about 1 minute to loosen up the butter, add in the sugar and beat on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add in the lemon flavoring and add in the eggs one at a time, mixing in between.
Mix in the coconut cream. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
Slowly add in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/2 of the milk. Mix with a rubber spatula gently, just until most of the flour is incorporated, not fully mixed. Continue to add 1/3 dry, 1/2 milk, then the last 1/3 dry so that all the milk and dry ingredients are together. Gently stir the batter to incorporate all the dry ingredients, it’s ok if there’s some lumps in the batter. Don’t overmix.
Scoop the batter into the cupcake pan filling the cups about 2/3 full.
Bake for 15-16 minutes until fully cooked (or if you’re using a dinky little toaster oven with mini cupcakes like me, you can bake them for 18 minutes. My oven doesn’t bake as well as it should and everything takes longer!), tops will be golden and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for 2-3 minutes and then carefully remove cupcakes to continue cooling on a wire rack before frosting them with your choice of frosting (I made lemon, because I just like to have lemon on lemon–ultimate lemon!! Cream cheese frosting would be good too. Or just some heavy whipped cream. You decide.)– or you can eat them warm like we did😉 .

This recipe, as per the original, should make about 16 cupcakes, but if you’re using mini tins like me, you can get 48 out of it if you’re careful. I got 47, but a few were filled a smidge much, so I’m sure I could’ve gotten that last one if I had divided better lol.

Enjoy!! These little beauties are a taste of lemon heaven. And did I mention how perfectly fluffy and just the right amount of moistness they were?😉

~The Smore

Sharing Coffee with the Little Guys

I love making “coffee” for my boys. Little Baby Cutie-bug gets so jealous when I drink coffee with Hubby that I usually either have to give him a sip or make him his own version and when I do that then Little Man gets jealous and wants some too! So if anyone has little people that want to feel bigger and drink “coffee” with you here’s what I do:
I heat up some fresh, raw, whole milk and froth it up in a frother (if you have a steam wand on an espresso machine that works awesome. My personal frother is the inner press part of a french press that broke, stuck into a tall chinese soup container… Works just as well as a store-bought frother.) and I add a little raw organic sugar, some cinnamon, coriander, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla (ratios of each one being dependent on your child’s tastes. My little guys like the cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg to be top flavor with the coriander and ginger in the background, although Little Baby Cutie-bug adores my chai blend with tons of ginger), then I stir it up, and serve it in a little baby-sized mug just for them.
They love it. ^.^ And the little foam mustaches as they look at you with a full mouth, savoring the flavor, is just precious!

Helping my Hair: One Adventure at a Time

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My goal these days is to attempt to gain the awesome results with my hair of the shampoos and conditioners I sell, but to figure out a system that works, using raw ingredients in my very own kitchen, by myself, through trial and error. I’m sure I won’t have the same wonderfulness level in certain regards, since I’m not a professional scientist (I just like to pretend lol), but it should be an educating and fun experience nonetheless.

So, since my last random hair treatment concoction, my dandruff has lessened, but somehow, my hair was still oily from the olive oil/avocado oil that was in it. Yesterday, I did a new thing.

I used lemon juice on my scalp (to continue my dandruff fight) and then I did a classic milk with honey wash… except that I wanted a red tea latte at the time, so I just brewed extra, drank my yummy mugful and used what was left on my hair… I’m lazy😉 But I had the added benefit of the antioxidants from the Rooibos red tea, so I’m totally OK with that. Cinnamon too.

Cinnamon has several benefits for hair (not to mention how good it is in my teas), including preventing hair loss (which I don’t really have a problem with, but it never hurt to keep the hair I’ve got), it has some antifungal/antimicrobial/antibacterial properties which is always good, it can help with dry/brittle hair (at least the oil can.. not sure about powdered form), and stimulate hair growth.

Sounds good to me. And the fact that it helps increase glucose uptake is a totally great reason for me to drink it in my tea before putting it in my hair too! Awesome for my low blood sugar! Its been helping me with my last little bit of baby belly pudge, too, by decreasing insulin insensitivity which can indirectly assist in reducing mid-section extras.

As an aside: Continuing the lazy theme of the night, after I washed my hair with the milk/honey/tea mix I used what was left in the bottle as a body wash. I usually just rinse my body with water, wiping over my skin with a washcloth for gentle exfoliation, but I didn’t want to have to put the mix back in the fridge.😛

So after I washed my hair with the lemon, rinsed, then the milk, and rinsed, I then followed it with my usual ACV rinse, with my usual ratio of 1-2 Tblsp to 1 Cup water.

My hair is very clean feeling, now that it’s dry, however, it took a very long time to get dry. As mentioned at the beginning, I think the oils from my last treatment are still in there some, mostly on the midsection. My roots have been thoroughly cleansed and my ends are naturally drier, but that dratted midsection gives me trouble sometimes. I should learn not to put the oil there one of these days lol. I am VERY determined NOT to use any baking soda (as with typical no ‘poo routines) because even though I love using it to clean around the house…. that’s exactly why I don’t want it on my head. It’s too harsh. Better for cleaning the copper bottoms on my pots and removing stains from carpets…

So anyway, as a last informative bit: though the heavenly smell of banana/chocolate/peanut butter was fantastic at first from my last treatment, after a day or two, it went rather sour and left a smell reminiscent of… how shall I say it…? Barf. Not too pleasant. It’s main benefits were soft hair, non-irritated scalp, and no dandruff. The smell lessened after a water/ACV wash about a week ago, and I had thought it would be gone after this wash, especially with how fabulous the honey-milk smelled, and the fact that I started with lemon juice, but for some reason, getting wet reactivated the smell and I still have eau de barf on my head.

Take that as a word of warning if you were thinking of trying a banana/peanut butter/oil concoction… If you are more concerned about your hair’s health and are willing to take an interesting (but smelly) step in the process as I have, go for it, but if smells bother you, don’t even think about trying my last recipe! At least not as it is. You can still try parts of it, modified to your preferences, of course. And also, of course, this (today’s) recipe shouldn’t cause any problems as long as you rinse all of the milk out of your hair very thoroughly.

I can live with it by pulling my hair up into a bun where it can’t waft at people, and looking at the bright side of that part, my hair is more protected from breakage when it’s in a bun, so even though I lose on the smell, I still win in the doing-good-things-for-my-hair department! Yay! ^.^

To sum it all up: My hair is getting healthier every day (with some adventures along the way), but I sure wish water was a little better at removing smells and olive oil!

 

Happy Hair Days!

~m

http://www.morroccoaffiliate.com/aff.php?id=820

You can’t kill love

I think we all need to be reminded of this once in a while. Something we should not forget! ~M

Chris Martin Writes

Jesus died on the Cross and rose again in three days.

I could easily end this post now, right here, without writing another word. That’s how amazing, awesome, and powerful love is. Death had no power over love. The grave couldn’t keep love buried in a tomb. Sin was defeated by love.

I Corinthians 13 says love never fails.

I’ve spent most of my adult Christian life believing there were things I needed to do in order to please God. I kept trying to be good, and when I failed, I would feel guilty, as if I wasn’t good enough for God.

That type of thinking comes straight from the pit of Hell.

Yup, you read correctly. Most everything we’ve been taught about God, especially how He views us, is not even close to the truth I’ve been finding in the Bible.

Any feelings of guilt, condemnation, or failure are from…

View original post 412 more words

Interesting Hair Care

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My story with natural hair care starts in November, 2013 when one day I just got fed up and decided to try something unconventional and completely natural. It started as a google search for a natural deep conditioner, such as honey, and I found several different blogs and webpages about different methods of not only using an occasional treatment on hair, but doing 100% of all cleansing and conditioning as well, in a natural way!

Now, I’ve never been interested in baking soda on my head, even though I do know it’s a good cleansing agent around the house and I sometimes use it to get stains out of things or to scrub with, so I was not at all interested in the classic baking soda and apple cider vinegar No ‘Poo method. The ACV interested me some, just not the baking soda, because I was looking for something that would cleanse my hair, not strip it.

In my searching, I came across a blog that mentioned honey shampoo and it caught my attention, so after kickstarting my adventure with a homemade deep-conditioning recipe that I made up using an egg, olive oil, lemon essential oil, sugar and coconut oil, I tried the honey-wash method for a few weeks.

When I started, it was good! My hair felt like a greaseball when I stepped out of the shower, but as it dried, it became light and fluffy and clean feeling. This happened with every wash until a few weeks in, my roots started feeling heavy. Not bad-greasy heavy, just over-moisturized kind of heavy, so I decided to stop the honey and just rinse my hair with water, followed by ACV rinse, which I did about once a week.

Recently, though, my dandruff has been getting worse. I’m not sure if it’s from the hard water, or just from not rubbing my scalp well enough, but I was getting a layer of dead skin goop under my hair, so that if I scratched any itchies, my fingernails came up caked under with crud. This was not good.

My hair, however was still very soft and manageable and beautifully shiny with hardly any tangles, so I didn’t want to go back to regular shampoo just for my scalp’s sake and end up ruining my hair’s progress, so I did some more research and found out that both turmeric and bananas are good for dandruff and itchy scalp problems! I am a HUGE fan of turmeric in anything, so this was an awesome discovery for me (my actual google search was “is turmeric good for hair?” because I knew it’s good for many other things and I was curious if it’s amazingness stretched that far). I also found out that a lot of people who have used banana ended up with banana pieces stuck in their hair…

The tips I came across to solve that problem are this: use a VERY ripe banana, blend it with your other ingredients in a blender or other such thing (I used a nutribullet, personally) to make sure it gets very smooth and creamy, mix it with an oil of some sort, and use a fine toothed comb in the shower while rinsing it out, rinsing the comb in between each pass to make sure it’s all gone.

The recipe I used in my latest concoction involves:

  • a VERY ripe banana (for moisture, dandruff control and itches),
  • avocado oil (for moisture, vitamins E, A and D, antioxidants, and amino acids),
  • olive oil (moisture, dandruff control, shine and softness),
  • a good, un-homogenized, cream top yogurt (for some serious moisture, probiotics and gentle cleansing),
  • blackstrap molasses (for minerals [like copper, among others]),
  • raw honey (for moisture, gentle cleansing, and it’s antibacterial, anti fungal properties),
  • brown sugar (exfoliant. NOT white sugar. It dissolves),
  • turmeric (for the itchiness, dandruff control, exfoliant, and antibacterial properties),
  • apple cider vinegar ( for ph balance, shine, softness,  blood circulation, gentle cleansing, dandruff control,  and antibacterial properties)
  • pineapple ([it has bromelain, which breaks down protein and is an anti-inflammatory agent] for healing [especially in combination with turmeric], and hair growth, antioxidants, vitamins B6 and B9 [for protein metabolism and blood flow]),
  • peanut butter (for protein, curls, shine, and softness),
  • and cocoa powder (for minerals, antioxidants, moisture, shine, softness, volume, healthy growth, flavanols [natural sunscreen], vitamins, healing, and stress-reduction [who can resist the strong scents of peanut butter, banana and chocolate?! ;)].

 

So, now that you’re overwhelmed with ingredient information, and are in awe of the wonders of nature… I blended all that up in my nutribullet cup so that it was very, very smooth and creamy, applied it to my dry, unwashed hair and scalp, then massaged my scalp only with grape seed oil (protects against moisture loss, faster hair growth [via vitamin E, linoleic acid, proteins and minerals], blood circulation, loosening dandruff flakes, shine, and hair strength), put my hair up into a top-knot, and let it sit for about 45 minutes.

When I rinsed it out, I used hot water (to help release some of the oils from my hair), and yes, the fine-toothed comb to comb out any and all banana, peanut butter and loose dandruff flakies.

Aside from some oil still in my hair (it always takes me about 3 rinses to get it all out.. my hair sucks up oil like a sponge! But amazingly, it doesn’t really feel greasy. Just really moisturized), my hair is now the softest, shiniest and curliest it’s been in a long time and you know what the best part is that I noticed almost immediately..? My head doesn’t itch. The flakes are gone (except for a few loose ones that I missed with the comb) and the itch is gone, my hair is still healthy, and I didn’t compromise on my real ingredient standards.

Speaking of which.. In my searching for answers to my scalp dilemma, I also found some shampoos and conditioners from a company called Moroccan Method that have the same standards that I do for using real, raw, straight-up ingredients, but they already have it mixed up in a bottle! So if you’re a daring one, and want to brave the world of trial and error in your kitchen and at the grocery store, playing with different natural hair treatments as I do, go for it! But if you’re interested in natural hair-care, and just don’t quite have the gumption or creative mind-set to make it up as you go… check out these shampoos and conditioners. You’ll have the same quality (if not better!) of ingredients that you would have if you mixed it yourself, but it’s made by professionals who know what they’re doing, and you won’t have the hassle of mixing, blending, gooping, and rinsing.😉

So, have happy hair days, get rid of those chemical laden atrocities in your bathroom closet, and come back to natural goodness!😉

~Smoresy

http://www.morroccoaffiliate.com/aff.php?id=820

Successful Memories

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I haven’t tried a french braid in my hair since I was around 9 years old. That’s because I didn’t know how, and trying to figure it out on my own with young hands and thick, slippery, tangly hair was like trying to hold a handful of oil without it dripping through your fingers. Epic fail. I gave up and never tried it again… That is, until 2 days ago. I saw a random link for interesting hairstyles and I clicked it. I saw some gorgeous braids (and I’ve always wanted to know how to do them, I just somehow never learned), and oh, joy! There were videos showing how to do it! When I saw them, I was shocked at how easy it was. Each video was 4 minutes or less (of course, this was an experienced braider doing it..). Needless to say, I had to try it. Now, I’m still not the most proficient braid-person out there, but it really wasn’t as hard as I had always imagined it to be, and in these 2 days I have now done both a french braid and a dutch braid. I had always thought that people who knew how to do dutch braids must be utter geniuses with superbly amazing and dextrous hands and that it must be terribly complicated to get the braid to sit on top instead of folding under, as in a french braid, which was hard enough, but, my, oh my! So simple! So elegant! Slightly messy when I do it, but hey, I’ve only had 2 tries, so I’m not complaining! The moral of this story is this: Don’t waste your life not doing something you’ve always wanted to do, for fear that you can’t do it. Just google a tutorial, sign up for a class, read a book, just step out in some way, shape, or form and try it! It’s probably not as hard as you thought! And even if it’s one of those few things that turns out to actually be as hard as it looks, don’t give up. Practice makes perfect. Or at the least, it makes interesting.😉

~M

A Labor of Love

I’ve recently been working on upgrading a flower bed that my husband and I made, about 2 years ago, and even though it’s been hard work (with still more ahead), it’s wonderfully enjoyable. There’s nothing like building something with your own hands and then stepping back to see what you’ve accomplished.

Standing on the deck to envision the layout from above… Laying on the ground next to it to have a straight side view to ensure levelness… Toting rocks back and forth to build a small (but long) retaining wall around the edge… Digging and moving wheelbarrow, after wheelbarrow, after wheelbarrow of dirt to fill it back up with… Replanting the plants that were dug out for the revamping process… Planting some new plants with them to make the bed full and fluffy… Spreading the mulch carefully and evenly around the plants to finish it off… It’s all good! To look at the before of a dirt patch basically, compared to the gorgeous flower bed that it is now (at least one tier of it.. and it’ll fill in better once the plants grow to full size…), is a very fulfilling feeling.

A lot of people look at landscaping as hard work. It is. But in that hard work is the joy of creating something new and lovely. The beauty in things natural is astounding, and creating a garden bed with recycled natural things is one of the most awesome, beautiful things I do (My husband too😉 We work together on most projects).

Instead of thinking of gardening/landscaping as a chore, or as a hobby, or as work, I like to think of it as a labor of love. The more love you put into it, the more beautiful it becomes.

 

~M

Aborting Minds

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This post is a bit of a rant about taking people as junk and throwing them out with the proverbial bathwater, and about disrespecting people by disrespecting their things and their space that just may be connected to their minds through those oh, so elusive beauties that no one but the creator understands: ideas.

So, somebody went into my house, into my garage, and took my tires that I was saving and threw them away, then complained about how they had to pay for it and blamed me for their price because I had had the tires in the first place. That seriously irks me. I really hate that someone just waltzed in and took my tires without my permission. Without even telling me they were going to my house! I am VERY bothered by this. First, that my home could be invaded like that, regardless of whether or not I’m actually in it right now, and second that my things were thrown away so carelessly under the perverted guise of “cleaning up”.

So. Why does it bother me so much that my tires were thrown away? You don’t understand why it would matter! They’re just tires! And used ones, at that! Well you don’t need to understand me. You just need to understand that I AM me. And I don’t like it when people throw me away! Throw me away? you say. Those tires aren’t me! Oh, yes they were. I mean technically, no, I am not a tire, and I am fully aware of this. But they were most certainly a part of me, in a sense. They were a puzzle piece that I tiringly and thoughtfully gathered up for an idea. An idea that formed in me. An idea that was borne out of my spirit, thoughts and feelings. Whose spirit, thoughts and feelings? Mine. I had an idea, a plan, and I was slowly gathering the necessary pieces to bring it all together. Nursing it in the womb of my mind. And when you think of it in terms of being a process — like a baby being formed — this idea was being turned around in my spirit, my soul, my mind- slowly forming, slowly growing.. then when you see those tires from my point of view, as you hear that they’ve been taken without consent and thrown away– it’s no better than a partial birth abortion where the medic, the “fix-it man” sucks the unborn fetus out of it’s mothers womb and chops it into pieces before tossing it into a mass grave.

 

03-09-14 The Artist

Love’s Rose

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you embody
the essence of the emotions
of love
velvety petals
of many colors
showing the soft
romantic
varieties
layered in complications
thorns on your stem
tracing down the leafy offshoots
symbol of the pains
come across
as we grow
yet your bloom
in so much beauty
captivates
and we cannot help
but to breathe of your fragrance
07-18-08
another older poem that I like

Asylum in the Coffee Shop

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I plea
loose insanity’s
grip on meit takes hold as I battle it
death grip
strangling my mindI sit
and sip my latte
the world around me moving on
as though
nothing were wrongbut I know betterit’s all in my head
this raging war
between reality
and the placid pain i feel

it settles in the cobwebs
in the corners of my imaginings
waiting
for the opportune moment
to strike
revealing for the world to see
my insanity

my pen moves
of it’s own accord
spilling words I dare not think
I cannot believe
I’m this far gone

please help me
throw a line to my sinking ship
so I can grab a hold
rescue me from the waves
of desperation misunderstood

suddenly
the espresso tastes bitter
and I set it aside to avoid
becoming sick

but though my body still functions
as best it can
my spirit flies away
leaving my emotions to torment me
as twisted and non-sensical as the art
on the walls around me

take my heart in your hands
glue the pieces back together for me
for I am incapable

the sunset I see through the window
beyond gourmet advertisements
reminds me
even as darkness falls
there’s beauty in the making

pity, the process evades my soul
dashing away
out of reach
for I would have my spirit to not be
bereft of beauty

these musings of my aching head
tumble about inside
never falling into sensible lines

I give up

I pay for my coffee and step
outside
breathing the fresh, clean, just-rained air
escaping from the little shop
my asylum
the inspiration to my insanity

Author Notes

09-11-08

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This is one of my older poems that I just like🙂