Welcome A little over a year ago, one of my grade level teammates gave me this notebook and a pen from Disney World, as a gift of encouragement for starting a new school year. This notebook has become so much more to me over the past year. That’s what I’m going to talk about today. I also have a recipe for a cake that is “semi-homemade” and my very humbling decorating experience. Thank you for joining me. Note–I may receive a small compensation from advertisers or affiliate links seen on this blog. For further information, please see my Terms and Disclosure page.
Food For Thought When I first received this notebook, I didn’t think too much about the words on its cover. It was a stressful time of year, during back-to-school, and I can always use more paper, so I just tucked it away for use later. As the year progressed, I jotted notes from staff meetings, professional development, parent calls, and to-do’s in the front pages of the notebook. But as my would-be-last year of teaching progressed from bad to worse, I really began to question the words on the cover of my now frequently-used notebook. Even though I claimed a deep faith in God, I felt so stuck in my situation, a situation I never thought I would find myself in, that I wasn’t really sure anything was possible, at least not for me. I began thinking that maybe anything is possible if you look a certain way or if you have “enough” money. Anything is possible if you know the right people or if you don’t make messes or mistakes. I don’t fit into any of these categories, so I must be missing out on the “anything is possible” blessings. Now I know that God uses the most unusual, and sometimes most uncomfortable, situations to show us just how possible ANYTHING can be.
In 2017, my life has taken an incredible twist. Well, more like a lengthy series of switchbacks climbing up a mountain of dizzying heights. When my daughter was born, what I wanted more than anything was to be a stay-at-home mom to her, and hopefully a bunch of siblings for her. Circumstances at that time were not right for either of those things to happen. Even ten years later, though, I still want to work from home so I can better meet the needs of my daughter, husband, and our home. I felt I was spending too much time away from home, too distracted by work even when I was at home, and was missing key events in my daughter’s life. I was miserable on many levels because I thought it was too late to change past decisions. Well, I can’t go back and change the past, but I can start making decisions right now that will affect our lives for the better. At one time we didn’t think it was possible, financially speaking, for me to leave a job in which I had so much invested. Luckily, God’s knowledge and plans far surpass our own! God took a very ugly set of circumstances and is now showing our family that ANYTHING is possible! Our family is in the midst of an amazing transformation! We have to be so much more careful with our spending and budgeting than we were before, but we are learning valuable lessons in setting priorities. We are learning that time will always be more precious and valuable than money. We are learning about having a steadfast faith in God and His plans. We are learning what it means to truly put the needs of others before our own. We are learning how to praise God through even the most trying circumstances. The situations of the past year could have easily upended our marriage or brought me to denounce my faith, but my faith and marriage are stronger than they have EVER been. God is working in our lives at faith-family-food and we are blessed because of it.
In the Spring, when I decided to become a “Christian Lifestyle Blogger,” my notebook took on whole new meaning in my life. I started by clipping back all of the school pages and began jotting ideas for blog topics, website ideas, and even ideas for writing books. I have since cut out all pages that were related to teaching and it is now my “writers notebook.” I have a separate binder for my blog that holds formal Bible study notes, recipe notes, post outlines, expense reports, etc. But “Anything is Possible” is the notebook I carry with me everywhere (except when I exercise) because I never know when God is going to speak to me with an idea or plan or verse or key words I need to share with my audience. And those moments when doubt creeps in and I wonder why I’m doing this, what good could I possibly be doing, why did God take me on this new and different journey? I can look at my notebook and read the words “anything is possible” and feel God whispering those words of encouragement to me during my struggle. What does your “anything is possible” mantra look like?
My personal favorite–Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Matthew 17:20 “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Mark 9:23 “If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Mark 10:27 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Job 42:2 “I know you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.”
Today’s Recipe Okay, so I’m not sure that becoming a professional cake decorator is actually possible for me, unless God plans to intervene with my talents in the near future. I’ve had a few attractive cakes here lately, so I thought a spider web cake would be “no problem.” I was wrong…I had several problems. I saw a picture online and thought, “Oh, I can do that!” I’m going to share my semi-homemade recipe for the Chocolate Orange Truffle Cake and show the pictures of my finished product, but I’m obviously not the person to take tips from if you want an elegant Spider Web cake, which there are several on Pinterest. I am sharing my “flop” today because I have said all along that I am REAL at faith-family-food, and that means sometimes my kitchen projects don’t turn out so beautiful. But the cake is mighty tasty!
- Shortening and cocoa powder for greasing and dusting pans
- 2 Devil’s Food boxed cake mixes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs
- 1 TBS orange extract
- 3 tubs prepared Vanilla frosting
- 2 tsp orange extract
- 10 drops yellow liquid food coloring
- 4 drops orange liquid food coloring
- Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Grease and dust 4 9-inch round cake pans with shortening and cocoa powder. (Problem number 1-this was supposed to be a 4-layer cake, but one of my layers tore so bad that we put it in a bowl for “scrap cake.”) In large mixing bowl, combine cake mixes and next five ingredients, beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing until well-combined. Pour batter into pans, as evenly as possible, and tap pans to settle batter and get rid of air pockets. Bake 28-30 minutes. Remove pans from oven and place on wire cooling racks for 10-15 minutes. Run knife around edge of pans and gently flip pans for cakes to continue cooling on racks for another hour. In medium bowl, place 2 tubs of prepared frosting, orange extract and food colorings. Stir to mix. When cakes are completely cool, place first layer on cake pedestal or stand. Add one layer of frosting, followed by another cake layer, more frosting, continuing until all layers are placed. I chose to leave the sides of the cake “naked” for this recipe. If you plan to frost the entire cake, you will need more frosting.
- So here’s where my second problem came in…making the web. I should know better than to use prepackaged frosting for piping, but I thought “it’s just a web, how hard can it be?” So I placed the uncolored, unflavored remaining tub of frosting in my trusty decorator gun and proceeded to pipe a spider web on top of the cake, then added a border, then “web strings” going down the side of the cake. The cutest part of the cake was adding rhinestone spider rings to the web and border…way more fun than traditional black plastic spider rings. But I was not happy with the finished results. So, if you want to try making a spider web cake, I recommend actually reading some instructions and use your own stiffened buttercream or royal icing for the piping. But the beauty of this cake, is that it stays at my house for my family and it tastes yummy. And I found out very quickly that I have a lot of learning to do regarding cake decorating, if that’s a path I should choose to go (probably not.)
The absolute best product used for this recipe are my silicone cake pans. The reason my fourth layer did not come out of the pan well is because it is standard metal instead of silicone. I have never had a broken cake when it has been baked and cooled in a silicone pan. Here are some options for this great kitchen product, but I personally prefer the pans that have stiff metal side handles for easy gripping (verified 10/30/17 at 3:10 pm, CDT).