Lemon-Lavender Cupcakes

Lemon-Lavender Cupcakes

Recently, I joined Young Living to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. One of the exciting parts of Young Living is the Vitality line, a group of essential oils that can be taken internally.

As soon as I received lemon and lavender essential oils, my mind jumped back to a great time in my life working with a wonderful baker. Just for fun one day, she created lemon-lavender cupcakes, and I couldn’t believe how tasty they were. I had never even thought about eating lavender, but the combination with lemon created a beautifully aromatic and delicious dessert.x

I was looking for a recipe that would be easiest for a busy mom with multiple jobs, and after a quick Google, I found the fancy version to base my recipe. This recipe is perfect for anyone jumping from project to project and looking to fill all extra moments with something productive.

Lemon Cupcakes – What You’ll Need

1 Vanilla Cake Mix (with whatever ingredients the mix calls for)

3 Drops of Young Living Lemon Vitality Essential Oil

Zest of 2 Lemons

Lavender Buttercream – What You’ll Need

2 Sticks of Butter (Room-Temp)

3 1/2 to 4  Cups of Powdered Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

1 Tablespoon of Milk or Cream (If Necessary)

3 Drops of Young Living Lavender Vitality Essential Oil

1 Drop of Purple Food Coloring: I carefully used red and blue to make the lightest purple

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line your cupcake pan with liners.

Put together the cake mix based on the directions to the box, but as a last step to fancy up the cupcakes, add 3 drops of YL lemon and the zest of two lemons.

After filling your cupcake tins about 2/3rds the way full, bake them based on the directions for the cake mix. I always watch my cupcakes closely because my oven is a tricky one. I usually rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even temp.

Now, it’s time to create your lavender buttercream. There are plenty of in-depth ways to make exceptional buttercream, but I went with the easiest recipe to keep the process fun for me in this busy season of life.

Using a mixer, whip your butter until it is fluffy; and then, gradually add your powdered sugar a cup or so at a time, mixing well. Add the vanilla extract and mix again. Checking the consistency of your frosting, add a tablespoon of milk if the frosting is too stiff; or add small amounts of powdered sugar if your frosting is too soft. Next, add 3 drops of lavender oil. Last step is to add your food coloring. I went for as little coloring as possible to keep the cupcakes looking more natural (if that’s a thing a cupcake can be!) and light.

After your cupcakes have cooled completely, you can pipe or spread your buttercream on. You’re done! You did it! You made some fancy cupcakes, and no one has to know you didn’t slave away all morning. Feel free to garnish the top with more lemon zest or culinary lavender if you would like. Play around with the recipe and see what works best for you.

 

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Lose Weight, Not Your Mind

The biggest issue with weight management today is a lack of nutrition education. People learn how to eat from their family (primarily dad), and then go on throughout their lives continuing these habits. This can be a blessing, if you have parents who are adventurous in culinary arts, or it can be a curse. Sometimes parents pick the tastiest, or the cheapest, or the easiest things for their family to eat; which leaves you with the same mentality until someone shows you how to do it right.

Yum! For the longest times, American scientists have contended that fat makes us fat. After all, it makes sense to hear it. The logic sounds right. Over the last few months, I’ve learned that this isn’t completely true, and there is much more to it. Right about now, you might be thinking, “AWESOME! I’m going to get that burger at lunch and rejoice that it’s not going to make me fat!” The trick here is that while the occasional burger itself doesn’t make you fat, it’s what the burger is wrapped in that holds your weight loss dreams at bay.

The food pyramid says grains are an integral part of our diets. Of course, we know that any white carb is extra bad for us, with little to no nutritional value. So, we work to stay away from white bread, white rice, white potatoes, white pasta, and white sugar. The growing popularity of whole grain and whole wheat options has us brainwashed into thinking that those options are healthy options.

So here’s the truth. Here is some of the hardest food information to swallow. Here comes an entire lifestyle overhaul:

CARBS ARE KILLING US!

Now, I don’t mean all carbs, because of course beans, veggies, and fruits all have carbs; what I really mean is we need to stop buying bread, stop buying rice, stop buying pasta and stop incorporating these items into our diets as a huge staple. Stop thinking that every dish needs one of these. If you can wrap your mind around this, change your habits and break the sugar/carb addiction, not only will weight fall off of you, but you’ll have more energy, and any issues with anxiety or depression you might have will greatly reduce. In fact, if you’re a woman having trouble conceiving, the best thing you can do is follow a light-carb lifestyle.

This is just an intro, because there really is so much information to learn about the effect of carbs; so for now, I’ll tell you the basics.

You need to reach ketosis. Ketosis is defined by Wikipedia as, “a metabolic state where most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis where blood glucose provides most of the energy.” In simple terms, if you greatly reduce sugar and carb consumption, your body eats your fat for energy. WHAT? Your body just eats your fat?

Yep! I’ve struggled my entire life, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I counted calories, I exercised, and I lost all hope because the scale didn’t budge. Now, I am really coming to terms with the dangers of processed foods, have broken my carb addiction, am feeling so much better, and am 20lbs lighter in 3 months with no added exercise and a fair bit of cheating.May to July Weight Loss

I’ll write more soon to explain the details, offer some advice on how to get started, and perhaps some more links to details.

In the meantime, I challenge you to eat one meal a day without bread/pasta/potatoes. Try eggs and veggies for breakfast, or pork chops with stirfry veggies for dinner, or veggies and hummus for a snack. Start small, and I promise you’ll see results.

Don’t wake up one day and look back, wishing you had done things differently. You deserve to feel better. ❤

 

 

 

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How I’m Getting Over My Social Anxiety

I’ve always been a worrier, and while some might think this feels good to me in some way (or else why would I keep doing it), it can be the most frustrating thing about me, even for my friends and family. One of my biggest issues with worrying is the anxiety I go through before a social event. Before the event, I worry about what I’ll wear, how I’ll look compared to others, what I’ll say, what others will think of me. I’ve found some unorthodox ways to work through it: My family.

The two people who help me grow every day!

The two people who help me grow every day!

My husband is the comedian who not only often plans the social get together I attend, but can sometimes be the center of attention. While I know a lot of women who are threatened by this, I rejoice in it. Part of that comes from the relief that the pressure is taken off me to entertain, while the rest comes from being proud that this man, who can add light to any room, is mine. Not only is he boisterous in public, but he’s loud and hilarious in private, too. His outspoken nature helps me especially when he comes up with simple, boarder-line offensive, “suggestions” for  my worry. “Dude, shut up. You look great, and everyone loves you,” is usually the way it goes. While other women might think, “HOLD UP! Don’t be a bossypants,” I welcome the jolt out of my swirly mind full of unrealistic expectations.

The second surprisingly helpful person, has been my nearly one-year-old baby girl. This shocks me, since she can often be the source of my pre-gathering jitters. “Will she have what she needs? Will she need a nap? Will she have something to do when we’re out? Does she look presentable…” On and on the list goes, and it probably helps me because I’m focused on whether she is alright, instead of whether I’ll be.

So, with my naturally attention grabbing crew in tow, I really don’t have much to worry about. Will I have enough to talk about? Sure will! I’ve got a great family to fill up the luls in those conversations.

The majority of my stress comes before the event, and I end up having a blast when I do get out. Being a natural homebody can be challenging! Now, this baby is going to force me to go out in the world, and trust people. Making friends is going to happen inevitably, which is surprising to me since I have trouble trusting women. I’m still stuck in the mindset that most women are catty, gossip-loving, meanies like in high school.

Now, I’ve learned that we have to take risks. We have to love others even if it means getting hurt, because we don’t want to miss out on the love we might find just because we might meet a few thorns in the rosebushes of life. I’ve learned that practice really does make perfect. The more I get out there and spend time with people in places I’m unfamiliar, the easier it becomes. While I’m still far from my goal of switching from an intro to an extrovert, it’s kind of the one day at a time concept. Today, I go to the store with baby in tow. Tomorrow, I go to a mom’s group at a church. Maybe someday, I’ll build up the courage to actually go to a church service.

The whole point is, I’m working on it, because life is short; and I have a little one to be an example to. You’re beautiful because you are you. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Don’t waste another moment worrying about what other people think about you, because it’s none of your business. And harsh as it is to say, don’t think you’re so important that everyone is spending their day complaining about what you said or didn’t say or what you wore or didn’t dress your baby in. Most people are good and have better thing to fill their thoughts with. Just be you!

Canvas Painting with Baby

I’ve been looking for a craft to do with baby that includes painting, but I didn’t want it to turn into a purple-gray mix of colors. My solution is a painted canvas by layering colors.

1st- Create your non-toxic paint. I chose the recipe below because I didn’t have any cornstarch. I added about a half cup more water because the original recipe is pretty thick. Even with the extra water, there wasn’t any splashing!

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I also got out some acrylic paint for the words I painted on after baby was done.

Edible Non-Toxic Paints for Baby

Then, set up your canvas. You’ll need a small canvas to do the project the way I did. I added some masking tape, which creates some neat lines in case you’d like to add some text afterward.

Canvas with masking tape for clean areas.

Set up the highchair for painting by covering with an old table cloth or sheet. Dress baby in junk clothing or make a cute smock from an old shirt. You might want to get a sippy ready, because baby will most likely try to taste the paint, which is super salty! Yuck!

Pour a few spoon fulls of the first color on the high chair tray.

Baby painting with non-toxic paint

After baby has played in each layer of paint, press your canvas on the tray to pick up the pattern baby made. Rubbing hard on the back of the canvas gives the best results. Then, clean the tray and baby’s hands a bit, so as not to mix colors. After baby finishes with all colors, you’ll have something that looks like this:

Non-Toxic Painting with Kids

You can flatten the texture with a brush if you’d like, but I didn’t want to change baby’s original design too much. If you added tape, remove it, and you’ll end up with some area to work your own magic. Choose a quote or a pattern to paint in the blank space.

Painting with Baby

Let the canvas dry; and then, write baby’s name and age on the back of the canvas. This idea will make a great gift for aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. You could use red and pink for a sweet Valentine’s Day gift. Go wild!

Edible Paint

Upscaling Baby Food Jars: Ornaments

With my first baby switching to solids, I wondered what to do with all of these adorable baby food jars. I don’t like throwing things away that might be re-purposed, so here’s how to create an ornament from a baby food jar:

1. Find a cute baby to eat the food:
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I know she’s not eating the food in the photo, but she’s so dang cute, I wanted to take another photo!

2. Wash jars and remove the label and adhesive.

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The adhesive can be difficult to remove, but I found that WD-40 and an old dish cloth will do the job. Then, just give the jar another quick wash and set out to dry. Once they dry, you may have to polish out a few water spots with a dry or slightly-damp cloth.

3. Punch a hole in your baby food lids, from the top to keep the sharp metal parts on the inside. Use a hammer and nail or whatever you’d prefer.

4. Spray paint the lids. You can use any color and any type of spray paint, but I opted for glossy black paint that adheres well to metal. It’ll most likely take two coats. Let dry a day or so in between layers of paint. Paint indoors if possible (if it’s cold out), and bring your project inside asap to keep the paint from freezing.

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5. Add some ribbon as your ornament hanger. I looped it, pushed the loop through the top of the lid, and tied a knot underneath. I cut off the extra. If you push the ribbon through from the bottom, you risk fraying it with the sharp metal around the hold. If you come up with a good way to flatten it- go for it!

6. Add some glitter! My sister and I added some glitter to make things extra festive.

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7. Have your photos printed 300 ppi and about 2 inch by 2 inch. You can fit 6 on a 4x6inch photo. If you want your photos to sit straight up in the ornament, have them printed a little smaller.

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Print two so you can glue them back to back before placing them into the jar. I chose black & white photos so that they would look nice no matter the ribbon or glitter I added.

8. Slip in your photos and add some glitter to create a snowglobe effect.

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9. Screw on your lid and hang on the tree! You’ll have a sweet, personalized gift for grandparents and aunts/uncles that is super cheap and recycles something that belongs to baby.

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Leave a reply with your ideas!

Starting Over… Again

My last post was about starting over; and although things are much different now than they were a year a half ago, it wasn’t the “starting over” I had planned.

Shortly after I wrote last, I got pregnant and married- in that order and for no other reason than we wanted to be pregnant and married. Turns out, my little Bailey helped cure my medical issues. I had no issues with my insulin resistance while pregnant and only suffered from borderline preeclampsia the last few weeks of pregnancy.

I was supposed to go back in to check my insulin resistance afterward but never made the appointment; but instead, found myself without insurance as my favorite job let me go. I’m about 98% sure that my sugar issues don’t exist anymore. I don’t have the sleepiness I had before, and I’m 15 lbs down from my pre-pregnancy weight without trying. That’s why I think Miss Bailey fixed me.

So, here starts another go at transformation: the transformation of my mind. Although kicking and screaming, I’ve almost quit smoking (just three yesterday and one today!). And about two days ago, something clicked and I got my old mindset back that I don’t need to eat to entertain myself.

If you ever get the chance, read the book Women Food and God by Geneen RothImage. If you’ve never been able to figure out why you suffer with being overweight or underweight, Roth hits it on the head. Somewhere along the way, we all learned that we were not enough or we were too much. We learned we’d never have enough if we didn’t take it right now or that we didn’t deserve what we had. Whichever of these is true about us is the start to understanding why we don’t like our bodies the way they are.

The remedy is to love your body. Love yourself and you’ll view your body and nutrition differently. You’ll treat yourself better and think about living a long healthy life and the minimal maintenance you need to do today to add extra days to the end of your life.

I looked in the mirror and realized that I CAN reach my goals for my body and that I DO have control over how I look (to an extent). I can already feel that shifting my mind to loving myself into being fit is loads better than hating myself into being skinny. Who’d have thought?! 😛

Check out this neat website I found: MyBodyGallery.com. You can put in your physical specs and find photos of people who look like you. Helps us get some perspective. Just remember that every change you want to make starts with a baby step, or as my mom says, “Little Bites!”

Starting Over

ImageAfter a quarter century of battling with weight, emotional and mystery health issues, I finally have some closure. The insight I’ve gained on my journey to wellness has triggered the stages of the grief process in a silent boiling below the surface. It is hard to absorb that I’m on my way to a new life, a second chance, and the emotional healing that I’ve struggled with for so long is quietly concluding.

As a teenager, I struggled with the over-emphasized coordination of weight and social acceptance. Despite being raised by wonderful parents in a safe and upbeat household, I focused on the negative body image that the women in my family were at war with. The preconceived notion that thinness and being loveable were synonymous created a cycle passed down from generation to generation of women on both my mother’s and my father’s sides of the family. I’ve realized after the fact that if I just would have accepted my own weight, other people would have too. If I would have understood then that no matter what the number on my pants said I was always Rachael, the confidence from loving me would have glowed from within and attracted the friendships I longed for.

I found myself not only loathing my weight, but eventually hating my lack of confidence. It wasn’t until my marriage was failing, and I subsequently found any way possible to blame myself, that I started to wonder if I was a hypochondriac. If I could only have more energy, if I wasn’t depressed, if I didn’t want to sleep so much, if I was thinner, if I dressed well, if I was sexier, if I wasn’t me, he would love me. These were the silent tracks that ran in the back of my mind until that crushing voice was louder than reason.

I’m a firm believer that we learn the most when lessons are learned the hard way. The wise parents and grandparents of the world can tell us over and over how to keep ourselves from heartache, but we never understand until we suffer it ourselves. My divorce saved my life. I, like most 20-something and newly-single women, dove into a discovery period where I become who I never was and therefore always wanted to be. While my period of rebellion is tinted with embarrassment, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I did everything exciting that I could while knowing I couldn’t deny my values. The internal conflict was confusing and thrilling. I skinny dipped on private property, marveled as reckless teenagers tripped on ‘shrooms, and laughed drunkenly as I stared at swirling stars in the night sky. I felt the full gamut of emotions, but most importantly, remembered what it is like to feel alive.

I knew after my few months of testing the waters of a typical teenager, in my early twenties as marrying my high school sweetheart who was also a pastor’s child doesn’t exactly leave time for teenage experimentation, that I was trying to pretend this poisonous world was something beautiful. I had lived an almost complete life, too quickly, too well-planned, which made the ending of my first try at life that much more shocking and heartbreaking. Now, after a year’s worth of therapy and soul-searching, I’ve realized many things. I learned to put pride away and that therapy is helpful, and just plain necessary, for almost every person on this planet. I learned that we are all hypocrites and weall have double-standards. I learned that I took everything too seriously. Most importantly, I’ve learned that there is hope and beauty in the world, but it has to be approached with caution. Life isn’t to be rushed. Life is best experienced in the moment with moderate pre-planning, but with plenty of resilience. It isn’t what this world throws at us that is most important, but how we choose to react to those events.  As my dad, a marine, would say, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.”

I plan to record this journey. I’m not sure why, other than that it would have been great to have known someone like me while I was going through all that I am. I want to record the changes in my life as I’ve gotten a grasp on my self-confidence and as I start to change more of my behavior. I recently found out that I am insulin resistant, which sounds like just a health issue. It’s slowly dawning on me that this may have shaped who I have been and the emotional issues I’ve struggled with. I start medication soon to regulate my insulin levels and want to note what changes I experience so that maybe I can help other people dealing with the same sneaky illness. I thought I was a heavy, lazy, lack-luster, hypochondriac, but it turns out that I’m about to meet the Rachael that I’ve never known, that I’ve always wanted to be. I’m intimidated and excited by the potential that I have and how I’ll improve as a person throughout this process. Let’s see what the new me has to offer, shall we?

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