April 19, 2016

Delicious Vanilla Cupcakes With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

So, this full-time chef job of mine has been a huge blessing to Jarryd and I. Huge!
Let's back up a little. I have always loved baking over cooking. In choosing between the two, I'd choose the former for sure. This is for several reasons.
One is because baking is so "by the book" and I'm very much a "by the book" person who strives for perfection. Either I want to do it perfectly or I won't do it at all. With baking there is no messin' around {except for the spilled flour all over your counter and the greasy butter fingerprints on your measuring spoons).
Also, cooking is all about speed and doesn't require much patience; baking on the other hand is a slower activity, in most cases at least. And it requires great patience as it can involve many repetitive tedious tasks, like decorating cupcakes for instance.

Once I decided I wanted a career in the culinary field {about four years ago}, I applied to bakeries like crazy. I didn't know it at the time, but bakeries are so hard to get into. :S

When I was living in Ontario I landed a job at a bakery--BUT only as a deli worker, slicing meat for eight hours straight. (My right bicep was huuuuge!) A few months into the job, after some convincing of "hey, I'm currently in culinary school and would love some extra hands-on experience in your bakery", I landed a few shifts in the back-of-house bakery. And I just LOVED every second of it.
I loved icing the wedding cakes, glazing the strawberries, filling the eclairs, and piping the buttercream frosting onto the cupcakes. I even didn't mind working at the counter and filling the little boxes with whatever delectable treats the customers' hearts desired. I realized then and there--and also within attending my pastry classes--that baking was what I wanted to do and LOVED to do.

Fast forward to getting married, moving to the US on a visa, and needing every penny we could, the baking thing kinda went out the window. Jarryd and I could hardly afford buying groceries, so how could I justify spending money on baking supplies? (Hmm...should we buy a roll of toilet paper or a bag of sugar? Haha!) :P

Now, approaching the two year mark of marriage {by God's provision, alone} Jarryd and I are now DINKS. Double-income-no-kids. ;)
It sounds like a lot of money, right?! But when you add paying off debt, bills, and taxes into the mix, it's as if the money was never there in the first place. Sigh.
Fortunately, we have a few extra coinage to spare and it's with these coins that I have FINALLY been able to buy baking supplies! This is such a HUGE blessing!! {Thank you God!!}
It makes me so happy that I can finally pursue my baking dream, which then makes Jarryd so happy because he sees me so happy--and let's not forget that I hired him on as my official taste-tester. So, hence all of the happiness going around.

About a month ago the two of us set out and went on a sort of "baking haul". We bought decorating tips/nozzles, piping bags, flour sifter, offset spatulas, cupcake liners, baking ingredients, a giant portable cupcake carrier, and other little goodies! It was THE BEST!

There is my little collection of decorating tips/nozzles. A few are from my culinary school kit, some are past christmas gifts, and some are brand stinkin' new! They're just all so fun to practice with.

So anyway, now on to the CUPCAKES!
One fine Saturday evening I tied my apron around my waist and got to baking. In regards to flavour, I decided to start with basic and simple: VANILLA.
I DO have a KitchenAid stand mixer now (it's pink!!) but I made these cupcakes well before that purchase. So, this is my humble hand mixer {wedding gift!}. Don't be fooled. It is KitchenAid brand so it gets the job done. Plus it's cute and pastel yellow. ;)
OH we also bought a new muffin tin from Kohls--on sale too!
Thankfully, the cupcakes themselves turned out perfectly.

The next day after church, I started on my FAVOURITE part of the baking process--decorating, applying the finishing touches, styling, and photography.
 Anyone who knows me, knows that pink is my FAVOURITE color, so I had to choose pink for the icing. No buts about it! I wanted to a try a two-toned icing for the cupcakes--so I went for two shades of pink: a light pink, and a very very very light pink. ;)
Mmm...this is vanilla buttercream frosting, my friends. Personally, it's my all-time favourite time of icing. Why? Because of the butter of course.
Here is how the two-toned vanilla buttercream frosting turned out. It is quite subtle, but it's there. I think next time I would create the two colours with a greater contrast because I want the tones to be more noticeable. But that's what this whole cupcake day was for--to practice, and to see what I liked and didn't like! :)
 As for the green one in the centre, I was originally going for a light "Tiffany" blue--my favourite shade of blue, but on the journey there, I decided that I REALLY loved the light minty green, so I kept it. :)
 Food styling and food photography are incredibly fun. When Jarryd watches me take all the photos, rearranging everything in every way possible, he just doesn't understand. But once he sees the end photo, it all clicks for him. Hmm...maybe my wife's not so crazy after all...
Here are all of the pink ones! We have begonias, roses, rose bouquets, and chrysanthemums!  
This rose cupcake in particular was SO much fun to do. Oh my word, I would love to do a thousand of these rose cupcakes. (Maybe one day?) :)
 I finally put my old cupcake stand to use.
 How fun is that swirly mint green one on the top tier? It's icing to cake ratio is INSANITY (I could never eat that much icing on one cupcake), but it's so adorable!!
 I didn't want to post this photo but Jarryd made me do it.

 Two of my favourite things: Cupcakes and Starbucks!! :)
This one is my absolutely favourite photo of them all!

The thing with making all of these cupcakes is that the recipe made 15+ cupcakes...meanwhile there's only 2 of us. They were too pretty and were made with too much love to just toss in the freezer for safe-keeping; so I decided to put a post up on Facebook {with the picture above} asking if any local friends and family wanted a free taste. I remember saying to Jarryd what if nobody wants any?! How awkward would that be?!

But after I pressed that "post" button, the response from people was incredible and more than I ever imagined. I mean, I thought that the cupcakes were good, but I didn't think they were amazing!

Isn't it funny how we undermine our skills? At least I do. I think to myself, oh anyone can ice a cupcake. It's easy. I often forget that yes, it may be an easy task for me, but to someone who has Pi memorized or can construct a house in their sleep, it may be something unfathomable to them.

I ended up giving all the cupcakes away--and could have given out more if I had more, but ran out! Delivering them was fun too because I got to visit with some amazing people who I hadn't seen in a long time! <3

If you're familiar with the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman...one of mine is "Words of Affirmation". An encouraging and genuine word or two about my personality, skills, appearance, ANYTHING means the world to me. It makes me feel so loved. So when I got such an overwhelming response on Facebook about my cupcakes, I felt...really really good. :) And encouraged, and almost purposeful. 

I never want to forget any of the encouraging words my friends and family gave me, because they truly meant everything. I feel like God has created a spark in me in regards to my love for baking; I'm not sure what's gonna happen or where it could take me. All I know is that it's there and I feel like God keeps nudging me in different ways. I'm seeking God's wisdom in this, along with help and advice from those I trust.

Much is unknown right now, but what I do know is:
  • Baking is one of my favourite hobbies.
  • I absolutely love using a piping bag.
  • If I had the opportunity to continue my Culinary education and get a degree in Baking & Pastry Arts, I totally would.
  • My husband's eyes light up when he sees my baked goods comin' out of the oven {and he says he's not much of a sweets-guy. Pffft}!
  • I love sharing my baking with my loved ones!!

Sooo, we'll see, my friends, we'll see! :) Thank you for reading! I appreciate you all!!

April 11, 2016

Anxiety, Burdens, & Grace.

Often I wonder why God made me the way that He did. I'm not referring to my physical self, but rather my emotional and mental self.

It takes no time at all for me to "burn out", in every aspect.
I feel stress so easily.
Anxiety is probably the biggest battle I've ever fought--and still fighting. I can go for days, sometimes a week or two at a time without feeling any sort of anxiety. Then, when I notice that I'm not feeling anxious, I'll start to feel anxious about not feeling anxious. It's as if I'm sitting on the edge of my seat in gut-wrenching suspense just knowing and waiting for it to hit, because it IS going to hit whether I'm "ready" or not. No matter how much time I spend with Jesus, no matter how much worship music I listen to, no matter how many Bible verses I read, it's still going to hit.
My anxiety and/or anxiety attacks consist of aloooooot of crying. For practically no reason at all. Also, I start to feel excessive amounts of dread...such as dreading a certain event, a certain person, or even going to bed because I know I'll be closer to a certain day that I'm dreading. Anxiety also shrinks my stomach; the more anxious I feel the smaller my appetite gets.

I feel like I'm a person who can't handle much. If we're talking plates, I am just a girl holding a saucer. My "plate" is a saucer, like half of the size of a normal entree plate. Therefore even though the amounts may be small to some, I constantly feel like "I have alot on my plate" because it's just a saucer. Then you have people like my husband, whose plates are more than just average-sized, they're like large serving platters. People like him only get caught stressing out about once a year. That, is amazing to me and I'm jealous of that fact.

I don't like telling others about how stressed out I am feeling or how I feel like I'm way too busy because I'll more than likely get a response like, "you don't know stress until you've worked a 60 hour week like me, you only work 40 hours so you don't understand", or "you don't know chaos until you become a mom, you have no idea", or "you just wait till blah blah blah, you don't even know how good you have it right now".
I don't want to hear that, I don't want to hear any of that! That's just disrespectful and full of judgement; people spew out statements like that as if they know my whole life story and the battles that go on inside my head. We all have our different plate sizes. The people who have normal plates don't understand me and my little saucer. Just like how I will never understand how women who work full-time jobs can somehow juggle two kids, a husband, a dog, church, Bible study, serving at the homeless shelter, work-out sessions, and time with friends on a weekly basis can even survive; I feel burnt out just thinking about this scenario.

It very much so helps me that my husband and I are vastly different in this way. I can't even imagine being married to someone like me. I'm NOT saying that he's not allowed to feel anxiety or stress, I'm only saying that I'm so thankful he doesn't feel it as often as I do/hardly ever. He doesn't really understand my struggle, but he tries he best to care for me; he helps keep me grounded and reminds me of God's promises to me. {He also knows when I need a Sunday afternoon spent in bed by myself watching movies and eating junk food.} :P

Having so small of a plate, I often wonder how God can use me. How can God use somebody like me to bring glory to His Kingdom? How can God use a girl like me who dislikes being busy, loathes not getting enough alone time, can hardly handle life without 8 hours of sleep a night, and struggles with anxiety?

I had pretty big fears about starting a full-time job. As someone who relishes in free-time, slow mornings/days, finding fulfillment in being productive at home, I knew that starting this full-time job and being out of the house for 10 hours a day would be HARD. But I also knew that we had been praying for a full-time job for me, and we had been praying for the extra income. Me working full-time was just something that needed to happen in order to help us reach our goals. I can't even believe this, but I'm already two months into my job now! And I'm still alive! This season of busyness is a struggle but I am adjusting, living, learning, seeking God, and taking it all day by day. {At least, I am trying to!}

The fact that I am handling this busy schedule, is a great encouragement to me. I have huge huge huge fears about becoming a mom one day simply for the reason that I'm rather selfish with my time. I grasp it so tightly that I can't picture myself letting go and giving all of that time and energy to a baby. So, if I can give 40 hours of my week and time and energy to a job and still live to tell the tale, I think maybe one day I can give 168 hours of my week to my own child. Plus, there is love in the mix. Obviously I wouldn't DIE for my job, but I will DIE happily for my own flesh and blood. Right? {Are you SEEING the places that my mind takes me on a regular basis?! I'm not even pregnant and I am already struggling with giving my time to my future child. As they say here in the US, "bless my heart"...but for real though...bless my heart!}

The question about whether or not God can use ME is one I have been asking for prayer about in my women's Bible study {Freedom group}. It's ridiculous how the Bible is filled with promises for me and yet I still choose to doubt it. I mean, my head believes it, but my heart has its moments where it wavers away from belief in those promises.

I'm learning alot from my Freedom Group, one is that if I'm the one carrying all of my burdens {my stresses, anxieties, worries, ect} then how can I be of any good to others? What kind of fruit will I bear? If I handle it all myself I can't give others the best parts of me, I'll only be giving them my tiredness, my crankiness, and my irritation. Right? And what good can that possibly do?
We need to carry burdens in life, if we don't, we are simply just living, and not being challenged. And when you're not challenged, there is no opportunity for growth.

"Then Jesus said, 'come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light" -Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus says that HE will take all of our heavy burdens and exchange them for his light burdens. So Jesus can carry my stresses, anxieties, fears, and worries, and I can carry the light burden of loving God, loving myself, and loving others? This trade doesn't seem fair in the least bit. Well, neither was Jesus dying on the cross fair in the least bit. I don't deserve to have someone carry all of these things for me, I really don't. But that's why Jesus is so amazing; his grace is never-ending!

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." -Ephesians 2:4-9
As for God using somebody like me...I have NO clue what He has in mind, but I like to think that He has created so many different personalities so that everyone can be reached in their own unique way. I don't know what God was thinking when He made me, :P {haha!} but I do believe with all my heart that we are capable of great things when we give Him our heavy burdens and let Him live through us. <3

Also, I don't know if any of this made any sense at all, but I appreciate you taking the time to read my crazy thoughts. Even if it did go in one ear and out the other, it felt good and therapeutic to type it all out nonetheless. :)

April 6, 2016


I have a 25 minute commute to and from work, and I always listen to music. Always (...except for the times when I'm too exhausted to even want to listen to anything but the wind hitting my windows, but that's rare). Oddly enough, I thought that today was a good day for some Taylor Swift. I consider this odd because as mentioned in some previous blog posts, Taylor Swift is my fall-early winter music, certainly not spring!

So, I hit the shuffle button. (By the way, Taylor Swift takes up 700MB--Almost 1 whole GB--of space on my phone, which is quite alot. Next in the running of 400+ MB's are Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, and Keith Urban. Interesting.)

Anyway. I pressed shuffle, and on came the song "Never Grow Up" by Taylor Swift.

Ugh. Bring on the tears!

The lyrics in that song that hit me the most are these:

"Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
And all your little brother's favorite songs
I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone

So here I am in my new apartment
In a big city, they just dropped me off
It's so much colder than I thought it would be
So I tuck myself in and turn my night light on

Wish I'd never grown up
I wish I'd never grown up."

I totally remember that sounds of my Dad coming home. He'd always come in through the side entrance, take off his farm boots and hat and walk into the main area through the laundry room. Sometimes I wouldn't mind going back in time to hear that sound again. <3 (Ugh, don't cry, don't cry...)

And I totally remember my "childhood room".
I had a whole shelf of Beanie Babies. I was cool like that...and then I took it down, because it went from cool to uncool in like a day.

I went through poster phases. One year it was all kittens and puppies. The next year it was all Marykate and Ashley and Hilary Duff. The next year it was Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, and then it turned into random fashion model posters torn out of magazines.

My bedroom had a window that looked out to our front yard, flowerbed, driveway, and porch. I always had to be careful at night to close my blinds or our visitors could see right inside my room as they'd walk up to our front door. (Awkward! :S )
Also, I painted my bedroom walls dark red. DARK RED. This is just soooo not me anymore, haha!
The older I get, the more I realize how good of a childhood I had. Despite losing my older brother in a tragic accident, my childhood was so wonderful.

I grew up on a beautiful farm and lived there for 18 years, and I wouldn't trade that for the world! I have never known so much freedom, privacy, tranquility, and safety as I knew on that farm. I learned so much about nature, animals, landscaping, and plain old hard work because I was raised on a farm.
I grew up with 3 older siblings and we had 2 loving parents who cared for all of us so much--and they still do. (AND they're going on 44 years of marriage this year!)

My best friend in the whole world lived literally a 2 minute drive from me. Sometimes I'd walk or run to her, drive, bike, ride the fourwheeler, or we'd meet in the middle. AND I'd go all by myself, with no fears of being kidnapped. ;)

I grew up in a small-town Christian farming community, with over 25 aunties and uncles and over 80 cousins living nearby. (If this isn't accurate I'm sure my sister will read this and let me know). Talk about a HUGE community of love and support.

I had amazing and wonderful teachers from elementary all the way to high school. Seriously, I loved every single one of them; there wasn't a teacher that I didn't like. Well...maybe there was one that slightly irked me, but that's about it!

Sure, my siblings enjoyed teasing me mercilessly.
Sure, I had a point in middle school where I didn't know who I was going to hang out with, because I felt I had no friends.
And sure, I cried alot, and went through all of those awkward teenybopper emotions full-force.
But in reality, I had it SO good. God blessed me with an amazing childhood and for that I am so thankful.

I miss it. Often I wish I could go back in time and take it all in;
I wish I could go back and treat my parents better and live more with a thankful heart towards them.
I wish I could go back and hug all of my farm kittens, puppies, chickens, hogs, turkeys, and cows just a little tighter. (And take turns with the cows licking the salt lick--yes, I did this. Nothin' wrong with a little sodium!)
I wish I could go back and ride the fourwheeler with my siblings again, just once more.
)I wish I could go back and NOT have listened to loud music with my headphones whilst mowing the lawn for 6+ hours, because I think it destroyed my hearing!)
I wish I could go back and lie in the grass of our front yard just a little longer.
But those days are gone. They are long gone. Our farm is no longer ours anymore. My parents moved into town and now I live in another country; away from my hometown, my family, friends, and home community. And that's OK. God has me where He wants me to be right now.

Now that I have grown and matured, I think of my childhood not out of sadness and regret (most of the time haha!), but mostly out of thankfulness. Thankfulness and also the hope that maybe Jarryd and I could give our future children, or nieces and nephews a wonderful childhood too one day. Being an adult is hard and children deserve to be surrounded by love, care, and innocence for as long as possible, because one day they'll turn 25 and wish they didn't have to stress about money, work, relationships, or anything and everything for that matter. :)