Be kind

We have all heard of the mid-life crisis.  Is there such a thing as the 1/3 life crisis?  Where you are only a third of the way through and something needs to change.  If so, I feel like I am about to be in it.

I have been feeling the need more and more to give back, to help those in need.  I found a shelter near me that I can volunteer at.  I have been finding ways to do small acts of kindness.

Most recently, the Bearfoot Baker had a post about giving back with cookies.  A cookie truly can change the world one person at a time.  It is gratifying for the cookie baker to give to someone.  It lifts us up to put a smile on someone’s face as we give our creations away.  And it also lifts that other person up when they receive our cookies, especially for no other reason but to say Hello, I am thinking of you today.

This weekend I made some toffee snickerdoodle cookies.  I had Paul deliver some to the neighbors across the street.  And last night Alex and I brought some to my younger brother for #giveafriendacookie.  If you are looking at a way to give back, try this out.  Bake some cookies and drop them off where ever you see fit.  With a friend, neighbor, police station etc.

My 1/3 life crisis:  I am feeling like I need to build the relationships in my life that I have neglected.  Life is short.  We don’t know how long we have here on Earth.  I put off so many things, or make excuses of why not to do something.  I have missed out on getting to know those close in my life, and that is my fault.  I need to focus on them and not stay in my comfortable bubble at home.

I heard on a podcast this past week:  What would your judgement look like if your life ended today?  There wouldn’t be room for “I will volunteer next month when I have the time, or I will call her tomorrow”.  What would it look like today.  Have you done good things in your life?  Have you helped others like God wants you to?  We are put here to love one another and I think we forget that as we are going through our daily lives.  How many times have we said we will do something when we are less busy next month, next year.  Is what we are doing now more important than helping others?  Is it better to stay in our comfortable bubble or should we use our strengths to help lift others up?

These are all the things that have been consuming my thoughts lately.  I feel like I need to be more present with my family and friends.  I should find ways to use my talents to help lift other’s spirits.

I started reading Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted.  Yesterday I was reading a chapter where she talks about the word new.  We may have been practicing our faith, but is there a new way that would better help those around us?  Then on the way home there was a car in front of me that said New Way.  Ok, I see the sign loud and clear.  Time to make some New changes in life.  Time to cherish my husband, love my family, and lend a helping hand to those who need it.

Time to start living a new life.

As it states in Matthew 22: 37-39  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Plain and simple.  We are here to love one another.  Be kind to your neighbors and the people around you.  It is time to put that into action.

Make it a great day,

Jen

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Carmel Apple Cupcakes

I had a request for 3 flavors of cupcakes for a friend’s boy’s 2nd birthday.  One of them was Carmel apple.  This is Paul’s favorite cupcake.

It is an apple cupcake with caramel in the center.  Cream cheese frosting with caramel drizzled on top.  Need I say more?

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They take a little time as you have to grate the apples and make your caramel sauce, but it is worth the time.  I did the caramel sauce the night before due to time.  I used this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  Caramel sauce is tricky.  It takes some time to make.  I liked this one the best so far.

I used the cupcake recipe from Georgetown Cupcakes.  I bought their book several years ago and still love it.  I prefer to use Gala apples.

I am amazed at how many recipes there are for cream cheese frosting.  Every one is a little different.  I am trying to simplify my recipes.  The pumpkin cupcake and carmel apple cupcake both called for cream cheese frosting, but were different recipes.  I decided to use one recipe for both.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

Mix cream cheese and butter till smooth.  Add vanilla.  Add sugar in three batches mixing well between additions.  Mix on high for another minute or two.

I always like to give my frosting an additional mix on high for a minute or two to help it be a little more fluffy.  I do this as well with my buttercream.

When the cupcake was cooled I used my filling tip to inject some caramel sauce in the middle.  I piped on the frosting.  Then I used my new tipless bag and filled with caramel sauce.  I drizzled the sauce on top.

Last step, Eat!

I will continue to make these as we love them so.

Make it a great day,

Jen

 

 

Halloween treat bags

We have recently changed daycares.  I am surprised at how well Alex has adjusted to the new setting.  With him being shy around new people we thought there would be some transition time.  But, he has proved us wrong.  From day one it seems as if he has been going there the whole time.  It is such a big relief as making the decision was very hard for us to make.  We knew he would benefit from the new place for the preschool aspect.

Halloween is the next week so I thought it would be fun to give his new friends a treat.  I found a printable from here  It was such an easy craft to make.  We will send them to daycare on Halloween.  I will also bring a couple to his friends in the neighborhood.

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Put five pumpkins in a snack bag and staple the tag to the top.  That’s it!

There are so many different printables out there for you to choose from.  If you don’t get a lot of trick or treaters this would be a good idea as well.  I would recommend using the wrapped candy if you are going to pass out to the kids as parents wouldn’t feel comfortable giving the pumpkins to their kids if they didn’t know you.

Make it a great day,

Jen

Donating cookies

I bought a new cookie cutter set the other week from Michaels.  It is the Sweet SugarBelle milk and cookies cookie cutters.  She did a similar set to these years ago and I have always liked the idea and have wanted to do them.

I was off for 3 days from work and had some left over royal icing, so I decided to make some cookies just to try out the cutters.

I tried the tipless bags again for the milk cookies.  I am still unsure how I like them.  The concept is great of not having to use a tip.  But I then used my PME tips for the cookies and it went smoother.  It could have been because I had to make a fresh batch of royal icing, or that my flood consistency was better.  Or it also could have been because I was in a better mood the next day.  Some days your head is not in the game and I do feel like it shows in your cookies.

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So, here I was with a bunch of cookies and no one to give them to.  I remember hearing you can donate them to the local fire station.  We have one a mile away.  So, Sunday morning I gathered Paul and Alex up to drive over there to drop them off.  We rang the bell, but no one answered.  I was discouraged when we got back in the truck to go home.  Here I had a plate of cookies I wanted to give away and now was bringing them back home.

We were in our neighborhood and I saw the family a few doors down getting in their van.  We have only smiled and waved to the family before, never struck up a conversation.  I told Paul to stop the truck, got out and gave the cookies to the boy, got in the truck and drove the 3 houses down to our home.

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Paul came in a few minutes later stating the dad just stopped by.  He tried to catch us before we left.  He wanted to say the cookies looked so nice and thank you.  And guess what, it was his birthday that day!  What are the odds that we would stop and give that family cookies without thinking and for it to be his birthday.  It made our day!

I am so glad I could put smiles on that family’s face Sunday.  Cookies truly can make a difference in people’s lives.  That is why I will continue to bake.

Make it a great day,

Jen

Hosting a sign party with my Silhouette

I have wanted to host a sign party for a while.  I didn’t know the best way to go about it, so I never did it.  I decided to just dive in and go for it.

I don’t have much room and wanted to keep it small, so I limited the group to 4 ladies.  Everyone did the same design, so it was easier on me for getting things ready.

I cut the stencil on Oracle 631 and weeded the design beforehand for the girls.  I had cut a piece of contact transfer paper for them as well.

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I made sure everyone had their own weeding tool, scraper, paint etc.  I was able to set up the table the day before.  It was very helpful to be able to do it this way so I wasn’t rushing at the last-minute.

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I had the ladies apply the transfer paper and put the design on their pre-stained boards.  Then they peeled the transfer off and burnished to the wood.

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We applied one coat of chalk paint with a makeup sponge then waited 20 minutes.  I had food and wine for us to snack on while we waited.   I had them apply the second coat.  Then we peeled the vinyl right away while the paint was still wet.

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Overall, it went really well.  We did have difficulty with the vinyl not wanting to peel off.  I since bought new Oracle 631 and it works like a charm.  I am looking forward to hosting my next sign party!

Make it a great day,

Jen

 

 

Goals

Like most people at the beginning of the year I was all about a life planner.  I made a planner (that I never used) and for the first time created goals for myself.  I have never been a goal setter.  I always would have liked to set goals, but never did.  I would say I didn’t know what kind of goals to set for fitness, or couldn’t make up my mind etc.

While I was knee-deep in the life planner I created a list of goals for myself for 2017.  I wrote down 3 goals on 01-05-17.  I don’t know if I printed it off and put somewhere.  I don’t think I have looked at it since maybe 01-10-17.  This is one reason I am not good at goal setting.  I forgot all about my goals for the year shortly after making them.

I came across the list today and realized I crushed all three goals!!

  1. Donate cookies to church – At the beginning of the month I gave our pastor a set of Halloween cookies for Pastor appreciation month.FB_IMG_1506889822402
    1. Look into bake sale for No Kid Hungry – I had a Facebook bake sale during Easter and raised $90 for No Kid Hungry.IMG_0039
  2. Practice cookie decorating, would like to be able to go to Cookie Con 2019 **this goes hand in hand with donating to church.  Can donate my practice cookies – I have been decorating more throughout the year and want to continue to get better.  I have tried some new techniques and I keep Cookie Con Sept 2018 in the back of my mind.IMG_0162

What a great feeling it is to know I was working towards my goals even if I didn’t remember.  I guess cookie decorating is becoming more and more of who I am and what I love to do.

There are two spots left on the sheet.  I wonder if I can think of two more goals for 2017 and complete them before the year is done.

Make it a great day,

Jen

Tipless decorating bags

I have recently come across the tipless bags by Truly Mad Plastics.  I feel like I am a little late to the game on this one.  I thought I would give them a try since I use the same consistency for outlining and flooding.

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Saturday was not my night for decorating.  Many things that normally don’t cause an issue, were a problem.  I normally don’t have many craters, but every ghost had one.  My flooding was off and not smooth.  My consistencies were bad.  But I continued to power through.  I also feel like I stepped back several years with my skill level.  I think I was expecting too much from the bags and was not giving it my full attention.

I have used tips for almost 10 years starting with buttercream.  I want to continue to use the new bags, but I need to rely on my skill level more and take the time the cookie needs.

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Semi Sweet Mike has a great tutorial on the ghost cookies.

October is National Pastor month.  I decided to pack up some cookies and have Paul deliver them to our church.  I love these boxes from BRP Box Shop.  They make giving cookies look so much better.

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Make it a great day,

Jen