Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake

I love to bake (surprise, surprise)!! I'm always looking for either a reason to bake or the next big thing to experiment with. Last Friday night was the annual youth cake auction to raise funds to send the young men and young women to their respective summer camps. I had my reason and I found what I deemed my next big thing! I was SO excited I couldn't hardly wait. I also found out that you can make the layers of this AMAZING "cake" ahead of time and freeze them until ready to assemble. I can only attest to this for up to a week, so tread carefully on your own after that. :)

Let me introduce you to the Ultimate Layered Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake.

Photo Cred: Life, Love & Sugar
My version!
Okay, so I thought my version was very similar to the original, but for a first attempt and my own perceived lack of cake decorating skill I thought it turned out pretty good! I already know I'll do better next time (and I'm working on make this on a smaller scale...stay tuned). Regardless, I'm so proud of this cake and loved the adventure trying something new. If/When I open my bakery/restaurant, this is SOOOOOO going on the menu. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Creating Experiences

A follow up to the post regarding the YSA conference I attended focuses on the lessons I learned from listening to Abe Mills speak. Like his wife he shared many thoughts that touched my heart and really spoke to me. At this time though (and I'd like to point out that it is 3:30 IN THE MORNING and I'm at work) I only have the mental capacity to share this one thought. Let me explain.

Abe talked about how we have goals, dreams, and plans for our lives. We focus on what we want to accomplish but we don't always focus on creating the experiences that we need in order to reach these ambitions. I've realized over the last several weeks that I've become a bit complacent in my commitment to how I live the gospel and I'm trying to break myself and regain the ground that I've willingly given back or simply neglected and lost my footing on. I needed to create an experience in which I could get back on track.

On Saturday I thought about the Time Out for Women event I attended several years ago and longed to have that type of experience again. It had to have been inspiration that I thought instantly to search YouTube for TOFW videos. Do you know what I found? TONS of them!!!

When I have a few minutes I select another video to watch and love what these 1-5 minute clips teach me and allow me to feel. Tonight I got to come to work the night shift and have been here since 11 p.m. As you may imagine it is pretty quiet in the office. Last year when I covered a later shift I put movies on in the background. In all honesty, that was what I planned to do tonight. Instead I thought of these videos again and have now spent the last several hours being spiritually fed in ways that I hadn't planned.

I know when we allow even a few minutes to have experiences that draw us closer to God, He reaches out to us and magnifies that time. He truly wants us to come to Him and honors whatever time we allow Him. I'm going to include a few of my favorite clips.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Everyday Miracles

I'm back and I have this burning desire to write. I've been struggling with things for so long and not feeling inspired, or inspiring for that matter, that I didn't feel that I could write ANYTHING! 

This weekend I attended a Young Single Adult Conference for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ages 18-30 in Orlando. What an AMAZING weekend! I met so many wonderful new friends, caught up with other friends, enjoyed some beautiful (although chilly) weather, but most importantly learned and heard exactly what I needed.

The theme of this conference was based on a talk by President Thomas S. Monson entitled "We Never Walk Alone". There were many highlights for me that drove this thought home, but two in particular. Today I want to share the first. We were honored to have Abe and Rachel Mills and their adorable children as the guest speakers. Their thoughts were pertinent to me and so frequently during their devotional I was overwhelmed with a variety of feelings. In particular Rachel shared how she had been struggling over months and shared many of the lessons she learned. She talked about feeling isolated and alone during trials, of the need to build others up, of realizing that God never leaves us alone AND has also provided us with all of the tools we need to succeed in this life. The culmination of these thoughts came to me in a way that I'd not experienced before. I've considered my struggles to be just that, struggles, something to test and try me, to push me further than I've been before. What I hadn't considered was that these struggles are an educational experience, an opportunity for me to utilize the tools that I've been given, to fully rely on the Lord and His word, and to indeed become stronger because I've passed through these experiences.

I also realized as I sat there and had the feelings of the past rush through my mind and heart that I hadn't realized that I really have been feeling better in recent days. That was also eye opening. I realized that even though I may not still be feeling the exact same way I was a few months ago I was harboring the memories of those times (I'm still not sure why I was doing that, maybe fear of relapse??). I feel it a blessing to realize that things are going much better and that it is okay to let it all go.

Another thing Rachel shared was that she had made an effort to stop picking, on herself and on others; to be kind and build up rather than to tear down. Yet another lesson that sank deep into my heart and realized that while I do need to be better to others, I'm still much better to others than I ever am to myself. I have work to do, but that's not a negative thing. This is my opportunity to step up and acknowledge that while I'm not perfect I'm also not required to punish myself.

I regretted deeply that I forgot my notebook on this trip as I wanted to record much of what was said. While I'm trying to reflect and record what I can remember, I also found Rachel's blog. Thankfully she has written much of what she shared with us and this is helping me tremendously. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read her reflections on the daily miracles in her life and see if they don't open  your eyes to miracles you've experienced.

I count the experiences of the last several days as a miracle in my life and hopefully the start of CREATING brighter days ahead. More one the idea of creating experiences next time (courtesy of thoughts shared by Abe).