FitBit!

I have recently been introduced to the FitBit.  It was a gift and it is super fun!

You all know I am a fitness/health guru.  I am constantly trying to find the best workouts, chiseling muscle routines, healthy eating plans, and diets.  Through all of this I have become a healthier person.  I no longer think that I will be prettier if I am a size negative zero.  I really only thought like that for a year a few years ago.  I now know that I have a 10-15 pound range and both ends are very healthy.  One end may be more muscle and one more thin, but both are ok.   I know what I need to do to be my healthiest, I know when I don’t do that, accept it and start new the next day.  I have plans on using my interest in these areas to become a personal trainer.

Enough of that ramble.

Even though I have come to this realization for me, I also know I need accountability so I don’t go crazy with laziness or gluttony.  😉  The FitBit is great for that.  It keeps track of everything!  I can track my calories burned and eaten, how much sleep I get and its quality, my activities and how many steps I take in a day.  I am currently around 13,000 steps a day.  🙂  You can also link up with friends and have a healthy health competition.

I highly recommend this for EVERYONE.  Such a great gift and tool and toy.  🙂

Check out their website.

http://www.fitbit.com

Frozen

I was listening to the radio last week when the dj mentioned that Frozen was the only Oscar nominated film he had seen this year.  It made me smile, because I may just be in the same boat.  I am a fan of the movie Frozen, but moreover I am a fan of the soundtrack.  I enjoy playing the songs for my kids, because I like them myself.

I think music touches us all a bit differently.  The one song from the soundtrack, “Let it Go” is probably my favorite.  And…the more I listen to it, the more I relate it to my relationship with God.  Elsa (one of the princesses in the movie) is born with a special gift or curse, depending on how it is used.  Her parents told her to keep it hidden, so she was isolated and afraid of letting others see who she really was.  She gains a bit of freedom in the movie and sings about how she can finally let her whole self show, she can be herself and she doesn’t have to be perfect anymore.  I see this as an excellent teaching moment for kids.  We all have been given gifts and we all have faults.  We can try to be perfect, work very hard at it, but we cannot do it on our own.  Only with God can we truly let ourselves go, be who He wants us to be, figure out how to rely on Him instead of trying to be perfect.  No, we should not go on sinning simply to get more grace, but we can show Him our scars, our faults and our attempts at being perfect.  We can rely on Him for everything, stop hiding who we are and let it go.  A long time ago a friend told me to “Let Go and Let God.”  I think that applies well here and in life.

Christmas

The days surrounding Christmas had ups and downs this year, but one thing that NEVER changes is that Christ came down all those years ago to be born here on earth, leaving His perfect Kingdom, so that He could save our lives.  That is THE meaning of Christmas.  That is the unchanging good news.  That is why despite sadness we have joy!

Joshua’s birthday celebration:

Christmas Brunch, before eating commenced:

Some yummy recipes this year included banana cream cheese stuffed baked french toast, blueberry white chocolate coffeecake, scones, quiche and about a million other things.  😉

Here are a couple desserts after they were dug into…red velvet cheesecake and butterfinger bars:

The butterfinger bars were very good…a little difficult to cut and the recipe is surely for a small pan (I used a 9×13 and had to double and it was still a stretch!)

The red velvet cheesecake I couldn’t try, because of the red dye, so I am not sure how it turned out, but it looked good!  😉

BUTTERFINGER COOKIE DOUGH CHEESECAKE BARS

YIELD: Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1/2 cup for top
  • 5 Butterfinger bars, king size

CHEESECAKE LAYER

  • 8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION:

Create a sling by lining the pan with foil so that there is a one inch overhang on each side. Cover foil with bake spray. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

Melt butter and let cool to warm. Add in brown sugar and mix to combine. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add in flour and fold to combine. Add in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips and fold to combine. Pour mixture into pan; set aside.

TO MAKE CHEESECAKE

Add all ingredients in a bowl and beat until blended. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Press 3/4 of cookie mixture into pan. Place Butterfinger bars side-by-side on top of cookie dough. Pour cheesecake mixture on top. Crumble remaining cookie dough sprinkle on top of cheesecake layer along with remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips all over top.
  2. Transfer pan to oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven set on wire rack to cool.

 

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

Prep Time: 1 hr + cooling and chill times

Cook Time: 1 hr, 15 min

CHEESECAKE:
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

RED VELVET CAKE:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake  and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

2. Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour). In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

5. Frost and decorate the cake

Bittersweet

Today is a special day for many women across the globe.  A day where they can either celebrate their mothers or their children…in some cases both.  Sadly, for some, it is neither.  My prayer for those women is that they know how special they are, how loved they are, and how important they are to the people close to them and to their Lord and Savior.

Today is a special day for me.  My mom is the greatest.  She is such an example of a Proverbs 31 woman.  She works hard, gives much, sacrifices, loves, is patient and has a love for the Lord.  She is pretty perfect when it comes to moms.  Today is a day I can celebrate her and how blessed I am to have her in my life.

I am doubly blessed in that I also get to celebrate my children.  My 4 children.  Today is a bittersweet day for me.  I have so so so so so much to be grateful for…a great mom, other great women in my life (grandmas, aunts, sisters, cousins, nieces, friends), and children that melt my heart.  (I have great men in my life, too, just am focusing on women today)  It is also a day that hurts my heart.  I miss my Joshua…every day, but today hits harder than most.  We will be going to the cemetery (or Joshua’s Park as we call it) as we do every Mother’s Day to make sure his area is the most decorated in the cemetery.  We will go through the explanations again as to why we are there when he is not, why we leave him presents that he can’t play with, and why sometimes we are sad even though he is in the best place he could ever be.  These topics are difficult for adults to make sense of, but the kids grew up with their brother in Heaven and have accepted it in their own way…they make sense of it in their own way…sometimes I think they understand it more than we do.

My day will be happy, too, because I can just hang out with my kids.  My oldest son at home with us is a miracle.  We put a lot of effort into getting him home…all of it worth it for sure.  He has a giant heart and a lot of love!  He loves God and people.  He is great!  My daughter is close to Jesus.  She loves to learn, is super smart and is good at caring for others.  My youngest is a bit of a goofball.  He also loves Jesus and cuddles and life.  He is in a testing phase right now, but we love him anyway.   All our miracles are truly miracles, none arrived easily, and each is a tremendous blessing.  I am grateful for my children even when they push their limits….I am blessed to have children to hug and scold and discipline and teach and LOVE.

For all those who are saddened today…you are in prayer.  For all of those who have reason to celebrate, let those loved ones know how blessed you are that they are in your life.  And for everyone…enjoy a beautiful Sunday…a gift from God.

Happy Mother’s Day!