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Be Grateful – I’m Grateful For What I Have, Are you?

grateful-words-0111-2I awake each day looking forward to what new wonders await me. I wish that were the case with so many people I know. I naturally tend to avoid negative people. Not only is it draining, but sometimes these ungrateful people are so self consumed they don’t even realize how they sound. That maybe what they’re complaining about, someone else would be thankful to have.

Everyday, I have a friend who is constantly complaining about her job. Her list of complaints are in fact minimal. There’s nothing really wrong with it except for the fact that she’s actually tired of working, and would like to stay at home. The flip side of that is I have another friend who is desperately trying to find work. She would kill for my other friends’ position and salary, everyday she struggles to make ends meet, sometimes is not even sure of where their next meal will come from.

When I look at these two individuals facing different aspects of life each day. I am grateful for everything I have. A husband who loves me, a son who I adore, my wonderful dogs and a cat, a beautiful extended family and friends who are always there if I need them. My life is far from perfect, but I am grateful for what I have. When I was young I often heard the expression there is always someone worse off than you are. Back then, I wonder who the heck these people were? As a kid everything is the end of the world. But, how true that was. There were and still are people living in cars or on the streets. I grew up in a home.marriage-advice-gratitude-2-2

So as I leave you with this blog post today I ask you to be grateful and thankful for all you have. Life is too short not to be.

 

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Chocolate Chip Pound Cake Recipe Original and Gluten Free Versions

imagesOne of the fastest developing areas requiring creativity is the kitchen. Dietary restrictions has replaced the occasional picky eaters. In our family it has been evolving over the past five years. My husband would eat basically anything giving no thought to calorie content, preservatives etc. Then he became health conscious and decided not eat certain foods.

I on the other hand was born with food allergies. My main food allergies are corn, peanut, MSG, wheat, which has now become Celiacs Disease. Corn or a derivative seems to be in everything. Out of necessity I have always been a label reader and now with the Celiac added to my list I have been converting recipes from regular flour to gluten free flour. Since I’m not comfortable with premixed flours I try to make my own or substitute a rice flour.

I have two versions below the first is the regular version, the second is the gluten free recipe. This recipe is delicious and my husband ate the gluten free version and never knew the difference.

CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE – ORIGINAL VERSION

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened (the more softened, the better–leave the stick of butter out overnight to soften if you can)
1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt or you can use sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 Tablespoon half and half
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s DARK unsweetened cocoa powder)
3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips (Nestle® DARK Morsels) If you don’t care for dark use whatever you like but dark makes it decadent.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, Yogurt or sour cream, sugar, and half and half, blending ingredients well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add half the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and blend well; then add the remaining flour mixture and blend everything well. Fold in the mini-chocolate chips, stirring to distribute the chips evenly in the batter.

Pour or spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (your toothpick may not come out totally clean because of the melty chocolate chips in the loaf; be careful not to overbake or loaf may be a little dry). Cool in loaf pan 10-15 minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely (that is, if you’re planning on frosting it…it’s great unfrosted, too, right out of the oven when the chocolate chips are warm and melty!)

 

cat-1701-300-1CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE – GLUTEN FREE

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened (the more softened, the better–leave the stick of butter out overnight to soften if you can)
1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt or you can use sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 Tablespoon half and half
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour but you can use white rice or store bought gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s DARK unsweetened cocoa powder)
3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips (Nestle® DARK Morsels) If you don’t care for dark use whatever you like but dark makes it decadent.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, Yogurt or sour cream, sugar, and half and half, blending ingredients well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add half the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and blend well; then add the remaining flour mixture and blend everything well. Fold in the mini-chocolate chips, stirring to distribute the chips evenly in the batter.

Pour or spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (your toothpick may not come out totally clean because of the melty chocolate chips in the loaf; be careful not to overbake or loaf may be a little dry). Cool in loaf pan 10-15 minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely (that is, if you’re planning on frosting it…it’s great unfrosted, too, right out of the oven when the chocolate chips are warm and melty!)

 

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Removing The Emotional Vampires From Your Life

iStock_000017057586XLargeWe all have them. Those emotional vampires. People who are so called “friends” or “family” that drain you day after day with their problems, call for solutions to theirs and ask for favors, yet never reciprocate. Or maybe for you it’s something else like you’re job.

Each year, another birthday clicks by, no matter how we try to snap off the hands of time, it moves forward. Each year, we should be working towards living a more peaceful and harmonious life. That means ridding ourselves of the unecessary burden thrown at by others. I’ve decided I’m not going to entertain the kind of garbage that’s littered my life from other people. I’ve learned to release unhealthy hurtful statements tossed at me by others.

By nature I’m an optimist. There’s always tomorrow and it will be even better than today. My husband feel this is why people cling to me because as he puts it, “my cheerful demeanor makes them feel better” in the moment. I’m forever trying to offer helpful suggestions and raise their spirits.

Unfortunately it’s draining and brings me down for a spell. I don’t need to boast or brag about my life to others, so I fight off their negativity by living my life full of happiness and love. I’m truly blessed to have a wonderful family, awesome friends, and fluffy pets who worship me because I feed them every time I enter the kitchen.

Life is so short. So stop hosting those emotional vampires, and start living your life – each day to the fullest. I am. Why not join me!

By the way here’s my latest book. I’m thrilled how well it’s been received:

http://www.bookstrand.com/irresistibly-deliciousdaf-cc-id-full

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Changes In The New Year!

Last night we welcomed in 2014. Some of us in the quiet of our own homes, some of us gathered with family and friends and some of us might have spent it out among strangers. After a turbulent 2013, my year ended on a positive note. We received many blessings towards the end of the year. My first book, Irresistibly Delicious was released on New Years Eve 2013.daf-cc-id-full

A new year with endless possibilities awaits us.IMG_2391 For our family this will be a year of change. I’m not one to embrace changes, I adapt to them out of necessity and my husband likes change even less. People say change is good. I imagine if you’re not happy with a situation, then change is a good thing. In my case I’m torn. The excitement of moving to a new location for my husbands work will better our future, but the sadness of leaving the area and people I love, a place I’ve called home for the past ten years is difficult.

In the meantime I will continue to work on my stories,make soaps for family and friends, paint my paintings and look forward to a bright new year with endless possibilities. What are your hopes for 2014? I’d love to hear from you.

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Switching Gears on Careers

Last year, towards the end of 2012, I came to the conclusion that I was tired of working in construction. I was tired of all the male testosterone, the constant attempts at intimidation, and the lies and manipulation on the job sites. I’d been dealing with this on a daily basis for the past twenty years– but even so I loved my job, did it well, and had an excellent reputation.

At five feet tall and weighing less than one hundred pounds, I’d held my own.  I could verbally backhand another contractor on the site if need be, but dealing with this each day began to wear me down. I managed crews on some of the largest renovation sites in Central Florida. The Gaylord Palm Resort for example, Walt Disney World – all parks, resorts, and every inch of their backstage area.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
View of inside Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando, FL.
View inside the Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando, FL

Oddly enough it was at an event in 2010 at Disney’s Dolphin Resort that I had an epiphany. They were hosting the RWA Literacy Signing. For those of you who don’t know, and I didn’t at the time either, RWA stands for the Romance Writers of America. Romance authors from all over the country were signing books and all of the proceeds were going to literacy organizations. I had been reading romance novels for years, and now I was in a huge convention hall meeting some of my favorites. Nora Roberts, Cherry Adair, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, to name a few. These woman were the warmest bunch of woman I had ever met.

While chatting with historical author, Victoria Alexander, I shared that I had made several attempts at writing a romance novel, but never followed through. She planted a seed of encouragement for me to follow my dream. So in 2012, when the opportunity presented itself, I shifted gears on careers.  I began writing and completed a 83,300 word small town romance story this year. I also began painting in oils and acrylics.

Painting I did yesterday.
Painting I did yesterday.

Taking the first step was scary. Am I on my way with a new career? Who knows, but I hope so. Have you ever made a major life change? If so lets talk about it.