Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chocolate Cheesecake Filled Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing!

In celebration of Baby Girl's birthday, I made these scrumptious cupcakes upon Babe's request. They are a favorite of his and so ridiulously good.  These yummy treats go against my "healthy" conscience, but life is too short not to enjoy special treats now and then, right? Baby Girl hasn't had something this sweet in her entire short life, but we let her have a few bites. It was her birthday, after all!  To make the cupcakes even more sinful, I made a butter cream icing to top them off! 
Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Chocolate Cheesecake Filled Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • for the Filling:
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Make your filling first. In a medium bowl, Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with liners and fill cups 1/2 full. Add one heaping tablespoon of filling into center of each cupcake.
  3. This is a sticky batter so I lightly greased the top of my pans, just in case, it works great for any cupcake or muffin recipe.
  4. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 25-30 minutes or for mini cupcakes about 18-20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely

    18-20 cupcakes
The recipe I normally use is from a mennonite cookbook that is currently in storage. I found this recipe on pinterest and thought it sounded fairly similar. They tasted just as great!!!  Source and pictures 

Buttercream Icing

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
  • 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
Serves: 2.5 cups

Birthdays are made to celebrate! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Baby Girl's 1st birthday

Happy 1st Birthday, Baby Girl!  

August 15, 2013 changed our lives forever. After 30+ hours of active labor, we were delighted to finally meet our baby girl. Our joy was dimmed when minutes after birth, the nurses realized something was wrong. Baby Girl wasn't getting enough oxygen into her blood. The details are now blurry in my mind, but I can still feel the heartache. I got to hold my baby only for a few moments before they took her to the NICU for observation, where she would remain for the next 10 days. 

After many tests and doctors telling us the worst case scenarios, we were told Baby Girl had pneumonia and fluid in her lungs . The days were a blur of tests, medical lingo I didn't understand and a roller coaster of progress and regression in our baby's health.

I have never in my life FELT prayer like I did over that time. Some of the days I felt I would break from the weight I was carrying. I felt fear that I may never get to take my baby girl home. I felt frustration and anger. But I also felt peace. Peace that passed human understanding. Peace that no matter what happened, God hadn't forgotten our little family. Thanks to our amazing friends and family and social media, we had hundreds of people from literally all over the world praying for us. We are so thankful, humbled and in awe of our Great God who healed and restored our baby girl's lungs 100%.

Today, Baby Girl is healthy, happy and full of energy!  We love her spunk, sense of humor and determination. She loves people, especially other kids, and loves going "bye bye" (anywhere outside of the house). She is pure delight and brings laughter and joy into our lives. 

And so once again we CELEBRATE! 
We celebrate life!

Happy Birthday, Alaina Grace! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Singing the Hallelujah Chorus

We are doing a little happy dance and singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Our settlement finially went through. You probably had no clue it didn't go through, right?? For many reasons, we kept it on the down low. Mostly because we didn't want people "nicely" reminding us that what we are doing is crazy.

Everything was lined up perfectly. We loaded the truck on a Wednesday. Settlement was to be Thursday. I was to fly out Friday and Babe was to hit the road in the moving truck Saturday morning. We got the call from our realtor on Wedenday afternoon, literally right after we had closed the door of the loaded moving truck and done a final walk through of our empty house. She told us she had been on the phone for hours trying to sort through everything. She informed us that there was a glitch in some of the buyer's paper work and settlement would not be happening the next morning. WHAT?!? I wanted to cry and throw something. We had come so far on our journey and we wouldn't be able to settle?? She assured us the sale would still go through, but just be delayed.

The next morning we met at the settlement office and were able sign all the paper work so that we would not have to fly back for that. But the buyers would not "own" the house until their paperwork was approved, and because of that, we would not be getting the sale money until then.

As I drove to my in laws after getting that call, doubts flooded my mind. What if the sale didn't go through? Do we wait to move until we see the money? Where will we stay?!? God, what is going on?!!?!? 

I can still picture exactly where I was on the drive. It wasn't an audible voice, but was so loud in my spirit I could almost hear it in my ears. "DO YOU TRUST ME?" No God, obviously I don't because I'm trying to figure this all out on my own. "I HAVEN'T BROUGHT YOU THIS FAR JUST TO FORGET ABOUT YOU NOW". Oh wow. Those words rang in my heart so loudly. I took deep breaths, trying to find comfort in those words (and tried not to burst into tears). 

We decided to proceed with our plans to head to Texas and trust that all would fall into place. Our realtor told us settlement would happen the next Monday. It got pushed back to Friday. And then pushed back AGAIN to the following Monday. And then finally, yesterday, 3 weeks after our original settlement date, our house sale was finalized!!!

And this is why we are having ourselves a little dance party!

It's so easy to dwell on the things that go wrong in life. 
What about all the things that go RIGHT? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We haven't melted . . . YET!

I figured out pretty quickly that Texas summers are like PA winters. You just stay inside and don't attempt to do many activities outside. And my brave Babe! He just endures the outdoor temps while working, whether the PA cold or the Texas heat! He never complains.

We are alive and well here in our new "home". I say home in quotes because we are currently staying with my parents. Though we are settling in nicely, it doesn't quite feel like reality that we are here to stay since we are not in a house of our own. 

We were not able to find a suitable house to rent before we had to have the moving truck returned. Currently all of our belongs are in a storage unit, with the exception of the few things we brought to my parent's to make our stay here feel a little more like home. My parents are so gracious to allow us to stay with them! Though we hope the arrangement is temporary, their house offers a great set up. We have our own room and bathroom and Baby Girl has her own room as well. So thankful for their giving hearts! And of course, Baby Girl is loving all the attention Grammi and Poppy are pouring on her. (Babe and I are loving the "breaks" we get as well!!) 

Babe started working the first week we arrived and since has been working for 2 different companies, sometimes working two jobs in one day. We are not sure how permanent either job is, but for now we are grateful for anything provides income. 

I had an interview this week at a local Christian university's onsite cafe. The job looks promising and seems like something I will enjoy! I am thinking I'll work 2 or 3 days, with my mom watching Baby Girl. I look forward to getting back to work, simply to meet people and be social. 

Despite things that seemingly went "wrong" with our move, so many more things went right. Above all, we have a peace that passes ALL understanding! We know God has not forgotten us and he continues to guide and direct our steps. 

If you've been praying for us, thank you! Please don't stop :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Texas Update

Thank you to those of you who have prayed,  text, commented on fb, helped with packing and loading the truck or stopped by to give hugs and say goodbye over the past week. 

WOW what a week!!! I finally feel caught up on rest after Baby Girl and I slept about 10 hours last night!

Baby Girl and I arrived in Texas yesterday with my parents via plane. ALL of our stuff is on it's way now with Babe and 3 of our awesome friends helping to drive the moving truck and our pickup truck. Should arrive by tomorrow morning.

Our original plan was to stay with my parents for awhile and put our stuff in storage until we find a place. After loading the truck, we got a little weary thinking of loading and unloading our stuff so many more times. We are going to Plan B and looking into finding a house to move into right away. Babe and I have had our eyes on a few rental properties that we found online. Yesterday my parents drove me around to those properties to get a neighborhood view and feel. Tomorrow, once Babe arrives, a realtor is taking us to tour some of the houses we picked out. Praying for a rental house that we like, that is in our budget and within a reasonable distance of my parents house and church. 

Baby Girl is doing good overall. She did awesome on the plane ride and is loving exploring Grammi and Poppy's house. I know the change is effecting her, though, as I see small changes in her behavior. We will be very glad to have daddy with us again and to get into our new "normal".

Please continue to pray for us. As much as we've looked forward to this, it is still a BIG change. Lots of adjusting, transitioning and being  s t r e t c h e d!

Thanks, friends!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

It's not "goodbye". It's "see ya later".

This is our last weekend as Pennsylvania residents. Next week this time Alaina and I will have landed in Dallas with my parents and Durrell will be soon to follow in the moving truck. ((deep breath)) It's starting to hit. But hit mostly in waves of excitement and anticipation. This is our adventure. And how exciting it is!!!

Yesterday morning as I was alone and driving around the Lancaster County country side, I thought over the events of the last 3 years. I remember times of crying tears of frustration. Times of asking God WHY?! Why was our house not selling? Were we to stay in PA? Why would our hearts not stop longing for something that may not ever become a reality!? Right at what felt like my breaking point, the doors swung open. And now . . . W O W. It's really happening. God answered our prayers. Not in our timing, but in His.

? Will we live in Texas forever? We don't know.
? Do we feel "called" to Texas? Or feel that God "told us" to go? No. It is simply something we have dreamed about doing and we are going to give it a try. We feel at peace with our decision and have been amazed at the doors that continue to open for us.
? What if we hate Texas? We'll come back to PA.

At times I have had a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth about Lancaster County. The small town-ness sometimes gets to me. But as the weeks have counted down to our departure, I have been reminded of the things I love about this place. There is a tiny part of me that is sad to leave my hometown and it's deep rooted traditions and religious backround. But I know many of the traditions I have held on to will be passed down to future generations, no matter where we live.

And so, as we embark on our journey, it's not "goodbye". It's "see ya later". Because we'll be back, if even only for visits. We'll be back!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

For over 2 years, we have had big dreams of moving to Texas. Our attempts at making it happen continuously failed. In the last couple of weeks, doors have been opening and our dreams are becoming a reality. Our house has sold. We are now free to make the move we've been hoping for!

If all goes as planned with the settlement of our house, we will be headed South by July 12th. That is in 6 weeks!!! 

Do we have a house in Texas yet? Nope.
Does Babe have a definite job lined up? Nope.
Are we nervous or scared? Sometimes.
Are we excited to embrace a new life? Most days.
Why are we moving? Why not. (my parents live there, which is a big draw . . . we've also found an amazing church that we absolutely love . . . And we keep thinking, if we don't do this, we'll always wonder "what if".)
Are we crazy? Probably.

To most people, we are crazy and maybe even foolish. And then there are those few who encourage us onward, daring us to step out of our comfort zone and embrace change and growth. 

I know it will not be easy. Packing has already proved to be more of an emotional process than I realized. We are leaving behind all that we have ever known. But I also know that we are about to embark on a journey that will change us for the better and we will (hopefully) never be the same again. 

Here we go, ya'll! ;)