Lemon Blueberry Cake as seen on Facebook by Delish

blueberry lemon cake

Man, the past few weeks have been nuts. Between April break, an anniversary celebration, a fun writing assignment, back-to-back Easters (American and Greek), a memorial event and Ally’s confirmation, I have lost complete track of my usual day-to-day routine.

Despite having felt a bit overwhelmed, so many good things came out of the chaos. One of which was this new recipe for a really good lemon blueberry cake. Typically, I’m not a baker but this cake kept popping up on my Facebook feed and it looked so good, I had to try it. Have you seen it? Celebrating Ally’s confirmation seemed the perfect occasion to give this fresh and spring-like sweet a try.

A Funny Faux-Pas

I followed the directions explicitly. Right down to the parchment paper liner for each layer. But, oops! Nowhere in the directions does it say to remove the parchment after baking. I totally forgot this step and served 3 layers of lined cake to all of my guests. Guess what? It didn’t matter one bit. Everyone liked the cake so much, they ate it anyway after pulling out the paper. Guests even went back for seconds. Not my finest moment, but the cake was a huge success and I would gladly try it again – parchment free, of course!!

The original recipe for this Lemon Blueberry Cake, as seen on Facebook, can be found at delish.com –Lemon Blueberry Cake.

Here’s everything you need to know…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box vanilla cake, plus ingredients called for on box
  • Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons, divided, plus more zest for garnish
  • 1 3/4 c. fresh blueberries, divided (I read that some folks used frozen blueberries and the end result was just as good)
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Thin lemon slices, for topping (I bought candy lemon wedges from Market Basket and used those instead – yummy and cute!)

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350º and grease three 9″ cake pans with cooking spray (I bought 3 disposable pans). Line with parchment. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, then stir in juice and zest of 1 lemon.
  • In a small bowl, toss 1 cup blueberries and flour until completely coated (to keep the berries from sinking). Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
  • Divide cake batter evenly among prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • Make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat butter and 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Add remaining lemon juice and zest and heavy cream and beat until combined, then beat in vanilla and salt. (Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar as desired for texture and flavor.)
  • Place a dab of frosting on cake plate (to keep cake in place) and place parchment strips on each side of the cake plate. Place down first cake and top with frosting, then top with second cake and frost. Repeat with third cake and frost sides.
  • Garnish with remaining blueberries, lemon slices, and zest and serve.

Buon appetito!

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Organizing a Fundraiser? Soul Warming Soups!

The weather may be warming, but a nice bowl of soup still makes a filling and nutritious meal. Recently, I and a fellow basketball mom (thanks Bethany) were charged with organizing a fundraiser for our daughters’ basketball team. I was introduced to Andrea Gallagher and Soul Warming Fundraising by a friend who was also organizing a fundraiser (thanks Jen!).

I quickly realized that team fundraisers are not only an important part of supporting our kids and youth sports, but a great opportunity to give back to our communities. In the past, I’ve purchased magazine subscriptions, pricey wrapping paper, coupon booklets that sat in a drawer and $10 candy bars. All for a good cause, of course, but no other fundraiser felt as worthwhile to me as this one with Soul Warming Fundraising.

Donate A Bag

The concept is simple. Rally your team, or group, to sell delicious 2 pound frozen bags of soup in a wide variety of gourmet flavors.

Soul Warming Fundraising also has a generous matching program for groups that reach their DonateABAG.org donation goals.

flyer for organizing a fundraiser

Looking for Something Even Easier?

You can also opt to only donate soup vs. selling direct to family and friends. This is the option the girls’ basketball program chose and we could not have been happier with the outcome. All donations were secured online. Participants were thrilled with the ease of it and satisfaction knowing that with every bag donated, we were helping a local family in need.

One mom told me that this was the best fundraiser any of her three children had ever been involved in.

Our fundraiser did so well, we were able to cover all of our team’s expenses for the year. In the end, members of the basketball and ski teams volunteered to help deliver the soup to Lazarus House Ministries. It was a great feeling for everyone involved.

Organizing a fundraiser can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be when you Donate a Bag with Soul Warming Fundraising.

Are You Organizing a Fundraiser?

Contact Andrea Gallagher at 401-212-0211 or andrea@soulwarmingfundraising.com

“My heart is in it all year round. In spring and summer, food pantry or food bank shelves are traditionally low with food.  Many parent groups, classes and sports teams are still in need of funds. It could be an easy, heartfelt way to raise dollars.” Andrea Gallagher Owner & Fundraising Consultant.

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Walking Tall – Walking as Exercise with Rachael Attard

walking as exercise Pixabay image

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I like to try new things, especially when it comes to health and fitness. I’ve shared my thoughts on “healthy eating,”spinning, kickboxing, Pilates, stretching and Whole 30. I’m a self-proclaimed gym hopper and if you hear me singing the praises of any one activity, you can be nearly sure I’ll drop that activity in about six months.

That said, I think mixing up workouts is important. It relieves boredom and helps aging bodies figure out what now works, when what used to no longer does.

Walking as Exercise

Recently, I discovered the benefit of walking as exercise. It happened when I Googled how to get lean legs. I felt like everything I was doing at the time was making my legs larger not smaller. I stumbled on this specific blog post by Rachael Attard and honestly felt like it was speaking directly to me. She said, “Are you wondering how to get skinny legs?” I thought, why yes, yes I am. She said, “whenever a client would tell a trainer they wanted thinner legs, the trainer would tell them it shouldn’t be their goal.” I’ve heard that many times or it’s not in your genetics. That one always made me want to scream. She said, “when someone complains about getting bulky, the trainer says women don’t have enough testosterone to get bulky.” Yup, I heard that too, but certain things did make me feel bulky, no matter what anyone said. Jeans don’t lie! And then Rachael said what really spoke to me, “who are you to tell a woman she is wrong – her body and her idea of “bulky” may be different than yours.”

With so many of Rachael’s points striking a chord, I decided to take her suggestions from the post. I didn’t purchase a thing and I simply began walking as exercise. Every day.

Body Type Determines The Best Exercise for You

Rachael’s post includes a LOT more information than I’m sharing here. She explained that different body types require different types of exercise. Most importantly she helped me realize that a lot of what I was doing wasn’t helping me achieve what I wanted.

She suggested that walking as exercise would slim my legs sooner than would running. She confirmed what I’d always suspected that activities like running, spinning, elliptical, Stairmaster and even walking on an incline may contribute to muscle-building right where I don’t want it.

And so, I walked and I walked and I walked and guess what? I lost an inch on my thighs and I’m kind of loving the simplicity of it all. I hop on a treadmill and I walk as quickly as I comfortably can for as long as I can. No incline, no painful running, no up and down pace setting. Just one, steady-as-she-goes, walk and I’m done. This, along with a bit of yoga, Barre and Pilates, is feeling pretty good right now.

The Pros

I love that I’m finally seeing change in the right direction and that I can do this every day and not feel sore or broken. I love that if I don’t have a treadmill nearby, I can walk outside.

The Cons

I don’t like that walking often feels long, boring and time-consuming. TV helps!

Just Something to Think About

Now, is this for everyone? No, of course not. Am I kind of loving it right now and just thought I’d share as an interesting alternative to higher impact activities? Yes!

I’ve mentioned it to a few people who have similar body types and, interestingly, they are finding similar success.

I’ll check back in six months when I’m sure to be onto something new. Meanwhile, I’ll see you later, I’m going for a walk!

 

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Happy 18th Birthday Julia!

I interrupt my regularly scheduled programming to wish this sweet baby the happiest of birthdays! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tell my girl, now an adult, how very proud I am of the young lady she’s become.

Happy 18th Birthday Julia!

Today, she will don this apropos graphic tee as she begins this new and very exciting phase of life.

 

Personally, I feel 18 is one of the most momentous of birthdays. Yet, my visit to CVS, to find just the right 18th birthday card, left me empty handed. Sweet sixteen, 21 and 50 were all available, but not 18. Hey Hallmark! Let’s get some smart 18th birthday cards on the shelves. You’re missing out on a big milestone moment!

Forgive me, I digress.

Welcome to adulthood Julia. You may now vote, you may legally enjoy a cocktail with your cousins when we go to Aruba and you can be selected for jury duty (that might be interesting seeing your latest obsession with Criminal Minds.)

Here are a bunch of other things you can also do, but I hope you won’t do most of them!

What you can legally do when you are 18!

I am so happy to celebrate this big day with you. xoxo!

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Where the Crawdads Sing – Book Club

novel where the crawdads sing by delay Owens

My last book club post revealed Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens as our next selection. I shared that the popularity of this book left me at #260 on the library hold list. Thankfully, a fellow book clubber breezed through this beautiful read in plenty of time to pass it off to me. I can’t imagine how amazing it must be for author Delia Owens to be a first-time novelist with such a critically acclaimed book. Kudos to Delia and thank you Lisa for sharing your copy with me.

I also noted in my last book club post that I was trying my first audio book. Well, that didn’t turn out well. The book expired before I could even get halfway through and Americanah didn’t hold my interest enough to re-download. I haven’t tried the audio book route again. It’s just too easy to get distracted when listening vs. reading.

OK, onto Where the Crawdads Sing.

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Review

Imagery

Book club enjoyed many things about this book and number one may be that everyone read it. I think that was a first. This allowed for some lively discussion. We all agreed that the story was well written. There was a captivating artistry to the way Owens wrote this story. Her telling of a part of our country that we were all unfamiliar with was interesting and colorful. The imagery of the marsh and small town of Barkley Cove was vivid and expertly written. The beautiful scenes in my mind made me feel this would make a great movie. I could envision the picturesque North Carolina marsh backdrop coming alive on screen.

Story

The story itself had intrigue, mystery, romance and touching emotion that shaped the main character, Kya, in a compelling way. As the dramatic details unfolded, the reader was left wanting more. This is true even at the end, when book club concurred there were a lot of unanswered questions and plenty of room for a sequel.

Struggles

Interestingly, I spoke with some people who had a hard time getting into the book. The author is very, if not overly, descriptive in her writing. While, for many, that added to the reading experience, I see where it might be a road block. I, personally, struggled early on with the premise – a child abandoned by her family to fend for herself. Had I not been committed to reading this through, I may have put it down merely for the fact that I couldn’t relate, whatsoever, to a mother leaving her child with an abusive father.

The insertion of poetry throughout the chapters also gave me pause. While it may have elevated the story for some, it didn’t add for the many readers who skipped past those bits all together.

All in All

There was a lot of depth to Where the Crawdads Sing with some surprises and twists. The ending was conclusive and, at the end of the day, everyone liked the book. It was unique and beautifully written.

Next Up

The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

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