Welcome So I feel like celebrating today. Celebrating and reflecting. Today is my 100th blog post! I’m going to share some of the good, the bad, and the ugly of my blogging adventure that started officially in June, but was in the making since February. And we can’t celebrate an anniversary without cake, so stick around to the end for today’s recipe–French Vanilla cake with Peppermint-White Chocolate Cream. Note–I may receive a small compensation from affiliate links found on this blog post. For additional information, please see my Terms and Disclosure page.
Food For Thought I don’t think we have any big adventures in our life that do not come with ups and downs, struggles and successes, peaks and valleys. Marriage, parenting, careers, and even our daily walk as Christians fit this description for “adventure.” But we can use these to our advantage. We can celebrate and focus on the joys of things that have gone well. We can learn from our mistakes and use the opportunity for personal growth or for helping others. And all of these things come together and help us make decisions about what to do next on our big adventure. While I’m sure no one wants to know every single dirty detail of my life during the past ten months, I do want to share a few of the ups and downs that have gone on “behind the scenes” at faith-family-food. And by the way, THANK YOU SO MUCH for being a reader of this personal blog and being part of my audience!
The Good I have often heard it said that if we focus on the positive first, it becomes harder to see the negative in our circumstances. For the most part, I believe that to be true. So I’m going to start with the things that have gone well, at least from my perspective. First, I had no idea I was so tech-savvy until I taught myself how to build my own website and create a blog. Even when glitches have come about, I have persevered and figured out how to fix the problem or found an alternative solution. Second, I find it incredibly uplifting and rewarding when people tell me I have made a difference in their day. This is a huge part of my goal, after all. I want others to know they are not alone, we all deal with struggles, both big and small, and there are ways to press on. Whether it’s someone who feels low due to current circumstances, a sick friend making a prayer request, a wife that relates to my tales of “epic fails,” or someone looking to boost their own devotional and prayer life, hearing how I have helped someone, even in a small way, can be even more rewarding than a paycheck. Next, I have received support from people I never would have anticipated and reconnected with important family and friends. However, I would consider by most notable success to be the personal growth I have experienced. My own faith and trust has grown more than I could have imagined and my mental health appears to be improving every day, which I wasn’t sure was ever going to be possible. I’ve even won a recipe contest with one of the recipes from my blog! Finally, to be completely honest, I have found it incredibly rewarding to work from home. This has allowed me to participate in my daughter’s school events, volunteer my time for others, keep my house tidy and clean, and get in more exercise and meditation. Also, to be blunt, I like getting to wear jeans or yoga pants every day. I like getting to use the bathroom whenever I need to. I like to get a drink or snack when I want it. I like listening to music while I work or work from my deck when the weather is nice. I like running errands during convenient times. I like experiencing so many of the activities I have missed out on in the past. Yay, lots of good!
The Bad Oh, so many things don’t quite go the way we plan or envision! I don’t want to focus on the negative, but I am going to be honest! One hundred posts and almost six months later, I thought I would have brought in some income by now, but even more than that, I thought my audience and traffic numbers would have grown a lot more by now. To say it’s slow-going would be a sizable understatement. I had to remove my AdSense ads because I did not have the level of control over what ads appeared on my blog as I had been led to believe. I am not kidding, between ads for fast food and car insurance, there were also ads for mail order brides and “adult toys.” Oh, my goodness, that somewhat reduces the integrity of my family-friendly faith-based blog! I felt good about removing the ads that could potentially cost me traffic or my reputation, but with that decision also went one of my potential income sources. I also have one more month to meet my required number of sales, or I lose my Amazon Affiliate status. The idea of making money doing something I love was very appealing when the idea came to me back in February, but I had said all along that making money was not the ultimate goal, helping others was what I wanted to do. But I thought by this time I would have at least brought in a few dollars, although there was a small cash prize for the recipe contest I won. At the present time, our household is financially stable, but we are wondering how long we should go without an additional income, or if it’s even necessary. So, while I don’t want to give up my blog, a time is coming that I will need to make a decision about continuing this path, but I’m “invested” for a whole year into this project. Other not-so-good moments?Yep! I’ve been disappointed by friends and family that I had hoped and expected to receive support from. I’ve been scared to reach out to some for fear they would misjudge my intentions. I’ve tried to bring my blog to other Christian blogging groups, but was turned away because I have recipes and crafts on my blog. I’m wanting to write a book, too, but don’t know how to even get started, especially since I invest a lot of time into my daily posts and recipes for the blog. Then there’s the self-doubt and second guessing that makes me question if I should even continue to pursue a career in writing, whether blogging, inspirational books, or even a cookbook. Like I said, it’s slow going, but I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned, the enjoyment I have in my new daily routine, and there’s no telling what blessings may be waiting right around the corner.
The Ugly I’m not just talking about glitches in technology or a lack of income here. I’m talking about the physically ugly side of running a blog. I’m talking about the UGLY pictures and fonts I used back in June and July before I discovered Pexels, Canva, and the neat features on my phone’s camera. I’m talking about the UGLY pile of dishes that are in my sink after making an elaborate recipe like my Chocolate Chocolate Cheesecake Cake. I’m talking about the UGLY outcome of projects that just didn’t quite turn out the way I planned, like my Spider Web Cake. I’m talking about the UGLY disarray of my dining room table and kitchen countertops when I have notebooks, pens, laptop, recipes, post-its and Bibles spread out. I’m talking about the UGLY transformation of my beloved scrapbook table which is now covered with things like Mason Jars, assorted background papers, and receipts for “tax purposes.” But in the midst of this “ugly” and chaos, I have heard some beautiful words, I have read some beautiful scriptures, and I have shared some beautiful meals with friends and family. And best of all, I’ve learned to see beauty in my circumstances, even when they aren’t going quite the way I had hoped or expected.
Today’s Scripture is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. I think it most sums up how I’m feeling about where I am at this stage with my blog, my perseverance, my mission, and what is my biggest priority.
Today’s Recipe I wanted to celebrate my 100th post with a cake. I also wanted something that would go nicely with the holiday season, but simple enough that people would feel they could make it for their special occasions as well. I came up with this French Vanilla Cake with Peppermint-White Chocolate Cream. It sounds and looks extravagant, but is fairly simple, as long as you plan ahead for your cream base.
French Vanilla Cake with Peppermint-White Chocolate Cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 26-28 peppermints, crushed, divided
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 6 oz. white chocolate morsels (about half a bag)
- 1 French Vanilla cake mix
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup water
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
1 In saucepan, heat cream, 22 crushed peppermints, and peppermint extract over medium heat until small bubbles appear. Do NOT bring to full boil. Stir until peppermints have mostly dissolved.
2 Place white chocolate in glass bowl. Pour peppermint cream mixture over white chocolate, avoiding any large peppermint chunks that may not have dissolved. Whisk chocolate mixture until melted. Cover the glass bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 8 hours. Also, place a metal mixing bowl and beaters in refrigerator to chill. It may sound silly, but this will help your cream whip up better.
3 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Place cake mix and next 7 ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Pour cake batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 30-34 minutes. Remove cake pans to cooling racks. After 15 minutes, gently flip pans onto cooling racks and remove cakes to finish cooling. Allow to cool completely before adding cream filling and frosting.
4 Remove metal bowl and beater from refrigerator. Pour peppermint white chocolate cream base into chilled bowl. Beat cream at high speed for several minutes until cream is well whipped and has formed soft peaks.
5 Line a cake plate or pedestal with wax paper. Place bottom cake layer. Place a little less than half of the peppermint white chocolate whipped cream on this layer, then add second cake layer. Frost the top of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.
6 Top cake with remaining crushed peppermint candies. Cake, and all leftovers, must be refrigerated until serving. I also garnished my cake with some white sanding sugar for holiday sparkle!
Helpful Products for today’s post (verified 12/4/17 at 1:25 p.m., CST):