Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year, all you amazing, lovely folks! ❀ I can’t believe 2018 already came and went. My last post served to kind of wrap up the old year before we headed into the new one. I went over how I did working on last year’s resolutions and what some of my favorite things and big milestones were. 2018 was great and all, but I am so excited to venture into 2019! πŸ˜€ With that in mind, let’s talk New Year’s Resolutions, shall we?? Here’s some of the major goals I want to conquer this year:

1.) Skydiving! My biggest fear would probably have to be heights, but my dad has talked about wanting us to go skydiving together since I was a little kid. This has yet to happen because I am a total wuss. My dad has been skydiving before and he loved it, so when I asked him what we should do to celebrate his 60th birthday, of course he would go and pick to jump out of a damn plane! *INTERNAL SCREAMING* Well, my dad is a really great dad and this is a big milestone birthday for him, turning 60 and all, so it’s happening! Full Disclaimer: I make no guarantees that I will not cry like a baby when we go to do this!

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I promise you I will be nowhere near this cool or composed.
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Yup, I think this is a pretty accurate representation of what I can expect from myself.

2.) Go on some sort of vacation with Mr. Moth! Oddly enough, we have yet to go on a real vacation together despite all the relationship milestones we’ve shared. We’re not quite sure where yet, but we know we want to make it happen this year. πŸ™‚

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3.) Complete my GR Reading Challenge set for . . . dun dun dunnnn . . . 25! That’s right, I’ve drastically lowered my reading goal for the year. My reason? I want more time to further work on other goals like writing and drawing. It’s the age old problem: too many hobbies but never enough time. Sacrifices must be made, yada yada yada.

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4.) Re-vamp my Blog. Your blog is like your online home and sometimes isn’t it nice to reorganize and redecorate a bit? πŸ™‚ I’m looking to spruce things up a little around here. I’d also like to get a little more structure to my blogging schedule and whatnot, but we’ll see about that. πŸ˜› Changes are coming, what they are exactly remains to be seen. Ooooh, mysterious, no?

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5.) Focus on my Creativity! Writing and drawing are two things I really want to make a priority this year. I want to get better at avoiding distractions and really push myself to have my first submission-ready novel by the end of 2019. This is going to be one hell of a challenge (and, honestly, it’s one I’ve failed at before . . .Β  a few times) but I’m so excited about the current project I’m working on, so I’m going to do my absolute best this year! I think I’m going to open up a bit more about my writing and the journey as well this year in my blog so I can kind of hold myself accountable more. I also really want to work on getting more into my drawing again. This started in 2018 so I’m hoping to continue to push myself artistically in 2019.

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6.) Share more recipes! I’ve done it a few times here and there on my blog, but I’d like to share more. Despite all the cussing you might here from my kitchen while I’m cooking, it’s actually something I really enjoy doing. You can expect desserts and vegetarian dishes mostly. πŸ˜‰

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7.) Health/Fitness. The usual goals everyone has: drink more water, go to the gym more, etc. I really like going to the gym so as long as I can manage my time/schedule this shouldn’t be a problem.

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Well, those are MY big goals for 2019, what about you guys?? πŸ˜€ I’d love to read about them. Trying anything new this year? Tell me all about it! I hope the New Year ends up being amazing for all of us. ❀

 

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The Eclectic Blogger Award

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It is always an honor and literally brings a smile to my face whenever I get nominated for a blogger award or tagged for one of the many fun tags floating around out there. Despite how much I always appreciate being nominated for tags/awards, I must confess that I am a forgetful master of procrastination who is normally horrible about getting around to actually doing them.

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Buuuuut, when the lovely Shameful Narcissist created, and was kind enough to nominate me for The Eclectic Blogger Award, well, of course I am going to participate in that! πŸ˜€

So, what is The Eclectic Blogger Award you may ask? And what are the rules, you also ask? Allow me to bestow you with the answers to those burning questions:

“The Eclectic Blogger Award is presented to those blogs that are both eclectic and engaging, where conversation flows freely, where new and different ideas are always welcome.Β  It’s to recognize blogs that always have interesting content to match the amazing, creative, and hard-working creators that make them possible.Β  These are the blogs that inspire you to read, watch, play, and/or create content to further enhance not only the blogosphere but also the general zeitgeist, because they themselves enrich it with their existence.”

THE RULES

  • Nominate whomever and however many bloggers you want for the award.
  • Share links from your blog for some of your favorite (or most eclectic!) posts.

So, that said, let the nominations commence!!

Read Rant Rock & Roll: Flower Fridays, Music Mondays, book reviews, Breakfast and a Book posts, adorable pets, this blog has a lot to offer and definitely falls under the category of eclectic. There’s always a fun variety of posts to enjoy and topics to discuss.

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The Happiest Pixel: Tasty recipes, creative writing tips, and a variety of other types of posts, there’s a lot of different things going on at this blog. Speaking of their tasty recipes, this blog is a bounty of meatless recipes, so if you just so happen to be vegetarian or vegan you’re bound to find some delicious ideas for things to make at home and promptly stuff in your face! πŸ˜›

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Imperial Rebel Ork: The passionate hobby of creating and painting miniatures is a big focus at this awesome blog, but IRO also presents a variety of questions and topics meant to get us bloggers talking, like his recent “Real Life Vs. Hobby Life” post. Creativity and hobbies are definitely the fuel that sets the blog ablaze and it’ll no doubt inspire you to make more time to enjoy your own hobbies as well. I’m always blown away at the variety and creativity in his work.

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All the Trinkets: This amazing feel-good blog is just filled to the brim with inspiration, motivation, humorous and endearing writing, as well as tips for personal growth. She also shares her own struggles, triumphs, and creative endeavors with us in the process, making it extremely relatable and a great place for discussion among bloggers!

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Invisibly Me: This is another inspiring blog that I just can’t help but admire. πŸ™‚ Spanning topics like invisible illnesses and awareness, Frugal Friday posts, and product picks, there’s always something to be discussed. I’m also always impressed by this lovely bloggers openness and fantastic and inspiring outlook on things.

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Aaaand even though I always tag these 2 ladies for things when I actually do tag people and even though one of them MADE this award, I gotta mention my BFF and partner in crime and general mayhem Cupcakes and Machetes along with the always-awesome and impressively organized The Shameful Narcissist. If you enjoy honest book reviews, yummy recipes, adorable pet photos, and only the cheesiest of puns, these blogs are for you! πŸ˜€

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There are so many other blogs I could (and want to) nominate, but I’ll spread that love on another day because after this dreadfully stressful day I am amazed I’ve managed to keep my eyes open long enough to make this post. Sleep calls to meeee . . .

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Thanks, as always, for reading. ❀ This is a snazzy new award, so if it looks like something you’d like to participate in just jump on in, and help spread this baby across the blogosphere. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

Book Club, Buddy Reads, and Vegan Chocolate Mousse– OH, MY!

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This weekend has been a blast. We had some good friends over to the house for the first time, which was very exciting. I hosted this month’s book club get-together, and my boyfriend and Cupcakes and Machetes‘ husband went out to one of the nearby breweries so we ladies could have the whole place to ourselves. Which basically involved a lot of snacking, inappropriate conversation, a tour of the house (the reading nook and giant bean bag were both a hit!) and more snacking. Most of the girls in our book club are strictly vegan, so I made a variety of vegan dishes for everyone to nom on and everything turned out great. The chocolate mousse was definitely a success, so I’ll share the recipe at the bottom of this post in case any of you are interested. πŸ˜‰

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C&M and her hubby brought us an amazing bundle of goodies, which was so sweet and thoughtful. Aaaaand she and I decided to do a buddy read for Kevin Hearne’s A Plague of Giants in August, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

3 Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Mousse Recipe:

This recipe is SO EASY. You just need 3 ingredients:

  • 2 small boxes of Jello brand instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Chocolate almond milk
  • “So Delicious Dairy Free” coconut whipped topping

In a large mixing bowl, whisk your pudding mix and chocolate almond milk together, adding enough almond milk so that it gets to a cake batter consistency. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut whipped topping so that it is fully blended but not over-whipped. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

I served ours with graham crackers for dipping and it was seriously addicting. I think it would be great for dipping strawberries or sliced banana into, too, though. The great thing about this mousse, is how versatile the recipe can be. If you want to use vanilla or plain almond milk instead of chocolate, the pistachio, banana cream, vanilla, and lemon flavors of Jello instant pudding are also vegan-friendly, so you could make a mousse in any of those flavors just as easily. The mousse is also great for filling or topping cupcakes, or even just eating plain or parfait-style, so you can really do a lot of different things with it.

And, if you are not interested in making it vegan, just use regular milk and a tub of regular whipped topping instead, and you can use whatever flavor of instant pudding mix you want, so the possibilities are unlimited. Go crazy, this stuff is so easy and delicious.

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Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake

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Deciding to try out a new recipe is always kind of exciting. Will it turn out like you’re hoping? . . . Or will it turn into a radioactive pile of mush even your pets turn their noses up at? Being as sick of winter as I currently am, I decided to go for one of the more tropical kinds of recipes I found online. So here we are, with this delicious pineapple coconut rum cake. I tweaked the recipe I linked above just a smidge since I didn’t have any actual rum extract or pound cake mix. I was also lacking crushed pineapple, but it turned out pretty well even with the “chunks” style. (Which, by the way, who in the hell in marketing decided “chunks” sounded appetizing to begin with??)

Here’s the ingredients I used:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix.
  • 1 20 oz. can of pineapple (chunks) in 100% pineapple juice.
  • 1/2 Cup shredded sweetened coconut.
  • 1 tsp. Malibu coconut rum.

Following the recipes directions, I mixed it all up, poured it into a lightly sprayed pan, and popped it in the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It certainly doesn’t rise quite as much as your typical cake might, but it was a good, light cake with a pleasant flavor. Especially when there is whipped cream added on top, as pictured above! πŸ˜‰ And for those of you who despise coconut, one of my testers who also loathes coconut said that it wasn’t even really noticeable, and also enjoyed the cake. So, all in all, I chalk this one up as a pretty decent success. πŸ™‚ The flavor was good, but I don’t think it will really win many points for overall presentation any time soon. But if you’re just looking for an easy tropical dessert to enjoy at home, it does the trick quite nicely!

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Festive Chocolate Truffles

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I’ve never tried making truffles before but after stumbling across a recipe for Christmas Sugar Cookie Truffles I just couldn’t resist giving it a shot.

I was pretty happy with how these turned out. Bonus: they were incredibly easy to make. I tweaked the second batch I made by using only one and a half tablespoons cream cheese and then adding one and a half tablespoons peanut butter. Then instead of dipping the peanut butter ones in white chocolate I dipped them in milk chocolate. Variety is the spice of life, and who doesn’t like to shake it up once in a while?

Purple Pop Cake!

Tried a new pop cake experiment the other night!

I found a bubble gum flavored soda at the store and ended up mixing 12 ounces of it with a box of strawberry cake mix. The resulting cake was a pretty snazzy purple-magenta color. The lighting in the pic doesn’t really do the color enough justice, but here was the result:

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The pink-canned bubble gum soda was surprisingly bright blue when poured out of the can, so when mixed with pink cake mix, it created quite the lovely color. The fizzy batter literally looked like cotton candy when I was stirring it.

The flavor was pleasant, not-too-sugary-sweet, and is pretty good when topped with whipped cream (like most things, I suppose). πŸ˜‰

Though, I gotta say, it really didn’t taste all that much like bubble gum.

 

Let Them Eat Cake

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Oh, Chocolate, you foxy seductive minx, you. You know I can’t resist ya, baby. Not now. Not ever.

Thank goodness for easy baking recipes. After working all day I came home, did some dishes and BAM! chocolate craving! The only thing that could be done was clearly to bake some damn cake. Luckily for me, a co-worker recently turned me onto the whole “soda pop cake” trend going on. For those of you who don’t know about pop cakes already, these super easy baked goods somehow manage to make those handy boxes of ready-to-go cake mix even simpler, aaaaand they allow you to make dozens of more delicious flavor combinations than you’re bound to find on the shelves of your local grocery store.

We’re talking two dirt cheap ingredients:

12 oz. soda

1 box of cake mix.

No eggs. No water. No oil. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, people. πŸ˜‰

So far I’ve only tried the following combinations:

Cherry chip cake mix + Faygo Redpop = yummy strawberry cherry cake that we just went ahead and topped with whipped cream. It turned out very moist and was quite sweet so a simple topping like whipped cream paired nicely with it. (I’ve also tried strawberry cake mix combined with Faygo Redpop, which was also good!)

Vanilla cake mix + cherry Dr. Pepper = very good cake that had an attractive dusty rose color to it. My co-worker actually made this one and she topped it with some white sugar sprinkles.

The cake I just pulled from the oven is a triple chocolate fudge cake mix combined with Faygo Rock & Rye soda. I have yet to try it, but it seems like it could be A.) really good, or B.) really bad. We’ll see!

These cakes always seem to wind up being nice and moist, and due to the freedom of mixing whatever soda flavor you choose with whatever cake mix you decide on, there are so many flavor possibilities you can try out. Some flavor combos I’ve heard good things about include:

French Vanilla cake mix + Orange Sunkist = creamsicle cake

Spice cake mix + Ginger Ale = ginger spice cake

Lemon cake mix + Sprite = lemon cake

Chocolate cake mix + Root Beer = chocolate root beer float cake

Strawberry cake mix + Cream Soda = strawberry shortcake

So, to sum it up: mix 1 box cake mix with 12 oz. soda and follow the baking directions on the box of whatever cake mix you are using. You won’t regret it. Unless you hate cake. And delicious things. (Like delicious cake.) In which case, what the heck are you doing reading a blog post about cake to begin with???! πŸ˜›

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