Happy 2016!

new year

I know this is how everyone starts a New Year post, but I don’t care. I cannot believe it is 2016! I cannot believe another year has come and gone! (And, oh, what a year it has been!)

I have been extremely quiet on this blog over the last 12 months, which is ironic, because this has been the most action-packed 12 months of my life! And it all started about one year ago. One year, five days ago, to be exact. I’m going to share more about that later, as well as more about our adoption, but today, I’m going to do what I always do on January 1st…write out some resolutions that I will probably not keep ;)

  1. Write more. (This includes blogging!)
  2. Record music.
  3. Work out. Okay, take walks everyday, and maybe try to pick up the pace here and there.
  4. Read my Bible everyday.
  5. Make friendships and relationships a priority. (I can so easily be a task-oriented person.)
  6. Say yes to new experiences.
  7. Get out of debt.
  8. Spend time in the garden every week. (This one may need to start a little later. It’s cold!)
  9. Keep my nails pretty. (Which means I need to file and paint them today.)
  10. Give thanks in everything.

I wasn’t planning on writing out ten, but I couldn’t leave it 8. That would just be crazy.

What are your resolutions? And, perhaps more importantly, did you keep any of your resolutions from last year? (Me? I sure didn’t. But I have a very precious and beautiful excuse!)

She’s Ours

I’m going to be honest: I’ve rewritten the opening sentences of this post half a dozen times. I simply don’t know how to start. Where, exactly, do I begin? With the call? With her birth? With a timeline? With yesterday?

Maybe I’ll just start from here, the now. I will begin by saying what the last hour and a half of my evening looked like. I was in my daughter’s room, rocking her back to sleep for the third time tonight, and kissing her sweet face. I’m not sure why she was waking up (I feel like I never really know…), but the second she was in my arms, she curled up towards me, snuggled in, and fell to sleep again. We’ve had lots of these sweet moments together, and tonight was, in many ways, no different.

But then, in one big way, it was different. Yesterday we had our finalization in court, and finally…finally!…the last word was in. Today, from the moment we woke up to right now and for every moment to come, she is ours. There is nothing, no one, to change that. Even though we have loved her with everything in us from the very beginning, the snuggles and the kisses tonight were wet with happy, grateful, and let-it-all-out-it’s-finally-finished tears. All the hoping, all the wishing, and all the waiting–all has been worth it. She’s ours.

So Much to Celebrate! (So Let’s Eat a Naked Cake!)

Naked Cake with Berries and Flowers

This has been a month of celebrating! On May 16, we had a shower celebration for our sweet babe, John and Kelly came and we celebrated Kelly’s birthday, and a few days ago we found out everything was in for the adoption to be finalized! Let’s all take a moment and cheer!

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My new favorite way to celebrate is with the incredible naked cake. I first learned about naked cakes when I interviewed a local baker for Enjoy Magazine. (You can read the article here.) He explained that a naked cake is basically layers of delicious cake filled with beautiful cream and fruit and topped with powdered sugar, fresh fruit, and flowers. The outside of the cake is not iced at all, so it keeps this lovely rustic look.

In the last month then, I made eight of these cakes! One for fun, six for the shower, and one for Kelly’s birthday. I used my very favorite yellow cake recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and found a super simple cream cheese-whipped cream filling recipe. Some gorgeous in-season strawberries and fresh flowers made them look downright wedding worthy.

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The Cake

  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 Cups Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 lb. Butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces.
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment. Grease parchment rounds and dust with flour, and tap out excess.
  2. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time, mix until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30-40 seconds after all butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest speed until incorporated, 5-10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture in slow steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixture and scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer.
  3. Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
  4. After cakes have cooled completely, slice each cake in half lengthwise so that you end up with four thin cakes.

The Filling

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  1. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with a mixer. Mis well until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in cold heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form.

The Creation

  1. Note: In addition to the cakes and filling, you also need powdered sugar and sliced strawberries.
  2. Once the cakes are completely cooled, slice the cakes so that you have four thin cakes.
  3. Place the first cake layer on a cake plate. Use a piping bag or a ziplock bag to pipe the edges, then fill in a nice thick layer, and top with sliced berries if desired.
  4. Continue this for the next two layers.
  5. Place the top layer on, then dust with powdered sugar and top with fresh fruit and flowers. (Tip: Plan where you want the flowers to go on a paper plate first!)

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It really is one of those desserts that looks so difficult to make but is easily created. And there are so many variations – lemon cake with raspberries, chocolate cake with cream and chocolate curls, even a spicy gingerbread option. I love this so much and will make this the go-to dessert for my events this year.

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