Learning Lessons in Celebration

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Today’s Scripture

Food For Thought  Until I can learn to celebrate the successes of others, God may not see it necessary to give me my own success.  That’s a really hard statement to make, but for me, it’s a valuable lesson to learn.

For some reason, I have been the person who did not think there was enough celebration and success to go around for everyone.  Some people get to have lots of success and big life events to celebrate, others (like myself) better get used to finding joy in the small things of life, because that’s as good as it gets.  I’ve always thought that the world has the successful people and the average people.  I wasn’t happy being average.  I wanted to be “successful.”  So when I saw other people being successful…academics, athletics, the arts, popularity, career, fitness, even successful in their spiritual walk, I felt that was potentially being taken away from my success potential.  That isn’t how it works.

It is true that I may not be blessed with the same successes as some of these people I’m observing.  That does not mean, however, that I can’t experience my own success in other areas or even success in a different way.  Or maybe my success is just delayed, waiting for the right time or right circumstances.  Like maybe when I have learned this valuable lesson of “rejoicing with those who rejoice.”

Yes, I do need to be better at celebrating for others, enjoying their good fortune and hard work.  I know several people that have worked very hard to finally get their successes.  They are very deserving of the success they are experiencing.  I should not be jealous of their moments of celebration.  And I certainly don’t want to take anything away from what they’re celebrating right now.  So, I am grateful for these lessons God provides for me, the lessons of showing me many people experiencing celebrations in their life right now, so that I may learn how to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”

Bonus Scripture

 

Today’s Recipe  Well, if there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, it’s let’s celebrate with cake!  Birthday or holiday?  Cake is the answer.  Promotion, graduation, retirement?  Yes, cake, please!  Wedding or baby?  We need cake!  Celebrating anything special or just an ordinary day, it calls for some cake!  🙂

Since it is Thanksgiving this week, let’s have a Thanksgiving (or autumn) celebration cake, like this Pumpkin Spice Cake decorated with a 3D Abstract Chocolate Tree.  The funky art style makes this delicious cake a stunning centerpiece as well (especially if you have cleaner piping than I do!)

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Tree
Doctoring up a boxed spice cake mix makes this a simple holiday or celebration dessert.

 

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Abstract Chocolate Tree

For Cake

  • 1 box spice cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • Double batch of cream cheese icing or 2 containers of ready-to-spread cream cheese frosting
  • cooking spray and flour to prepare cake pans

For Candy Decoration

Additional Supplies

 

For Chocolate Candy Leaves:  Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper.  Place 12 candy wafers of each color on a microwave-safe plate.  Melt the candies in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds, checking at 30 second intervals.

Dip a frosting spatula in the melted chocolate and spread in one swipe onto the wax paper.  Mix the colors as desired.  When you have used all of the melted chocolate, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.  The chocolate leaves will be set by the time the cake is ready to assemble.

For Cake: Set oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.

Place cake mix, milk, pumpkin, and eggs in large mixing bowl.  Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Divide batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes.  Remove cake pans to cooling racks for ten minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn gently out on cooling racks. Note: My trick for turning out my cakes to cool is to place the cooling rack upside down on top of the cake pan and then flip the whole cooling rack and cake pan over together.  If pans were properly prepared and the cakes have cooled slightly, the cakes should just slide out of the pan directly onto the rack.  Allow the cakes to cool thoroughly before frosting, about one hour.

For cake assembly and frosting: Place an 8 or 9 inch cardboard cake round on the bottom of your cake stand or pedestal to protect it from oil stains from the frosting and cake.  Place a small amount of the cream cheese frosting in the center of the cake round to “glue” the bottom cake layer in place.  Place the first cake layer and add a layer of the frosting.  Repeat this same step with the second cake layer.  Top with the third cake layer and continue to frost the entire cake with a thin crumb coat.  Frosting will set better if you refrigerate the cake before adding the final layer of frosting, but to be honest, I don’t love the texture of this cake after its been refrigerated.  So, I have a less clean frosting layer, but a more flavorful and moist cake to serve.

Frost the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting, smoothing with a frosting spatula.  Fill a piping bag with chocolate buttercream and fit with a large star decorating tip.  Pipe a tree trunk going up the side of the cake and extending across the top, including tree branches.  Pipe a chocolate boarder around the base of the cake.

Remove chocolate leaves from refrigerator.  Peel leaves one at a time from wax paper and arrange around the top of the tree.  I placed mine sticking up at about a 45-degree angle to give dimension to my cake.  This cake is intended to have an abstract feel, so the arrangement can be pretty much however you want it to be.  It’s edible art, so have fun with it!  I also placed a couple of leaves on the sides of the cake to look as though they are falling down.  To finish, I took a toothpick and swirled the tree trunk in a few places to look like a knot in the tree.  Again, be as creative as you want to be!


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