Friday, May 6, 2011

Coming to an end

As I mentioned previously, I created this blog as a part of a semester assignment for the writing class I'm in.  I didn't know the first thing about blogging, formatting, SEO, monetizing, back linking, etc. before this class.  I learned so many useful skills I know I will keep with me for the rest of my life, as well as had a lot of fun applying it and using my creativity in the process :)

The Internet opens up a whole new window of opportunity for our generation that we need to take advantage of.  Blogging is just one great way that we can use our skills and talents for God's glory and use this gift of writing to help others and hopefully, impact lives.  People all over the world are struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, severe health conditions, and are at the end of their rope.  I think its SO exciting to think what I have to share might be just the thing to brighten someones day or even just provide helpful information about something they never understood.  Who could have guessed technology would come so far in the past several years??

 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. -1 Timothy 4:12

My biggest goal in life is to ultimately obey my Lord and follow the plan he has already mapped out for me.  I want to truly make a difference in the lives of the people I'm surrounded with and use my talents to further His kingdom and do His will.  I love this verse and believe God has endless possibilities for the young people in the world if we would only submit our lives fully to Him and let him have full control. I want to go out there and in everything I do be an example of what Christians really should look like  <3

I definitely want to continue blogging this summer and try to update this blog whenever I'm able to! It's such a great outlet for sharing thoughts, articles, and recipes.  I love to bake just for fun and love having a place to keep track of my favorite recipes and share them with the rest of the world.  

So, here is a delicious Turtle Cheesecake recipe that is to die for! It's super rich but totally worth all the calories :)

Layered Turtle Cheesecake

Layered Turtle Cheesecake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
6 T. cold butter
4 packages (8-oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 T. all-purpose flour, divided
2 T. heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T. chopped pecans
Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and pecans; cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup flour, cream and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Remove 1 cup batter to a small bowl; stir in melted chocolate until blended. Spread over crust.
Combine caramel topping and remaining flour; stir in pecans. Drop by tablespoonfuls over chocolate batter. Top with remaining batter. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.
Bake at 325° for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from waterbath.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.Place chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chips; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Spread over cheesecake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with pecan halves and additional caramel topping if desired. Yield: 12 servings

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Depression: The Nation-Wide Epidemic

 Depression affects more than 21 million adults and children across America.  It is a scary, chronic illness that has drastically increased in popularity in the past 10 years.  We hear about teens conflicting with this deadly disorder, being bullied or mocked and driven to commit suicide. Pretty much all of us can count off numerous people we know battling depression for one reason or another, and taking anti-depressants to try and fight it. I can think of at least 4 teen suicides; friends of my friends from nearby high schools that have taken place in the past two years.  It's obviously a growing issue. We see the articles, we watch the news and think "oh how sad,  that poor family..."  but what do we really do to make a difference?

  The Symptoms

  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
 Now some of these aren't surprising at all, and I'm sure we all possess at least a few of these symptoms at one time or another.  The real issue is in overlooking the signs in our own friends and family.  We need to recognize the symptoms and educate ourselves.  Depression is nothing to mess around with!

Personally, I have many relatives that struggle with chronic depression and are taking medication to help.  Sometimes it is very apparent when someone is depressed, and sometimes it is nearly impossible to tell.  In today's society depression medication is among the top 10 best-selling prescription drugs.  I believe it truly
does help because a big part of depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medication can definitely help regulate those hormones and release serotonin to lessen the feelings of depression.

The only true answer to depression is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the only thing that can fulfill you and give you purpose and hope.   His love and his peace has gotten me through even the seemingly impossible situations in my life, and I know he always will. I also am sure that if the world knew there was a God who loved them and longed for them to turn to him, there wouldn't be nearly as many suicides and much lower rates of depression. I want to be someone's hope.  I want to show them that they do have a purpose on this earth and that there is a God who loves them more than they can understand. I want to share that I've found the only source of true Joy that exists.  <3

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose
hope is in his unfailing love,
Psalm 33:18  

What can you do? 
Here is a list of suicidal symptoms a person might show when they are considering taking their own life:

Warning signs
  • a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • always talking or thinking about death
  • clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • losing interest in things one used to care about
  • making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • talking about suicide
  • visiting or calling people one cares about

We all have the ability to help stop teen suicides from becoming an every day occurrence.  We can be someone's answer, someones ray of hope in such a dark, evil world.  The biggest way you can impact someone's life is giving them your time.  Show them that you care by listening, and getting to know them and what's going on in their lives.  When someone shows me love in any sort of way, the last thing I feel is hopeless!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

5 qualities to look for in a guy

So this week, I was assigned to write a post on the 5 most attractive qualities-- or at least the ones I look for-- in a guy.  Well I do have a boyfriend who I've been dating for a year and a half whom I care about so very much and hopefully will marry someday, but only God knows really! So here are the 5 qualities I find most important, from my own personal experiences...

1. A Godly Man

So this one is pretty much a given.  As a Christian I will never even consider marrying a man that isn't in love with God fully and completely.  He also needs to show me that he will be the spiritual leader of our family and show me that he is wise in his decisions as well as responsible!  No one is perfect, but I want to make sure the man that I choose to marry walks with God in all aspects of his life. 

2. #1 in his eyes 

I want to be absolutely sure that the man I end up marrying loves me with his whole heart and every little quirky, insanely annoying thing about me.  As selfish as that sounds, I know that is how it has to be for a marriage to work the way God intended it to.  If he doesn't show you that he cares about you and that you are absolutely the most beautiful, precious thing he's ever known, he's not treating you the way you deserve, ladies!

3. My best friend

The person I want to someday marry needs to be someone I enjoy being around no matter what.  The one I'm excited to tell everything to, good and bad. Someone who builds me up and makes me just an all-around better person.  Someone who truly is my best friend.  


4. Smart and driven

I know that seems too simple but for me, I know that I want to marry someone who is intelligent; someone who really thinks things through. He must be able to support our family someday, and if he has already worked hard for a degree and pursued a career, that shows me he would be able to.  I don't care how much money we have or how big our house is, but I want to marry a man that will  work hard to provide no matter what that might mean.

5.  Someone who shares my dreams and ambitions

I've been told many, many times that dreaming is never a bad thing.  If you don't dream big, you have no standards to meet, and you will end up achieving very little in your life.  I already have a few dreams of my own and I'm sure those will change as I get older, but I want a guy who admires that and wants to help me follow them someday.  

So, these are just a few of the many, many necessary qualities I look for in a guy.  I think too many girls settle when it comes to finding a boyfriend or a husband even, and I think that is such a huge mistake.  You are worth so much in God's eyes, and take it from me: if the man you're with doesn't treat you with respect or make you feel loved and cherished the way you should, he is NOT the man God has waiting for you.  So never ever tell yourself you're being too picky; chances are you won't have any doubts when you've actually found The Perfect Man!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wanna make some money!? Google makes it easy

This has been a crazy week so far! I've had hardly any free time, and haven't really even thought about writing.  But this week, I'm  going to walk you step by step through the process of monetizing your blog! As scary and intimidating as it sounds, the research I've done proves it to be so much easier than I expected.  And any little money that can be made off something as fun as blogging is always a good thing, right!?

Just in case you're wondering what the word "monetize" means, it's only a fancy term for making money through your blog.  Google has come a long way in the last few years and they have made it SOO easy to set up accounts and manage your settings. 

Using Google AdSense!

1. On your blogger homepage, there is a tab that says "monetize." Click on that.

2. Next, you will create your own AdSense account through Google by clicking create AdSense account.

3. Next, complete all the necessary information and have an adult help you if you aren't 18.  Its pretty simple and Google keeps all information secure.

4. There are many ways to put ads into your blogger blog, but some are easier than others.  This way is the simplest.  Click on the Design tab on bloggers dashboard.

5. . Click "Add a Gadget."

6. Click on the Add a Gadget button. Find the AdSense gadget and save all changes. 

Its really just that simple! You've just created your own AdSense account in just 6 simple steps; not so bad, huh?

Using Amazon Associates

The next thing I want to walk you through is making your own Amazon Associates account. I have heard from several people that they prefer Amazon Associates to Google Adsense, and found they made more money off it too.  It can take a little more getting used to, and there are a lot more options, but I definitely think you'll find it's worth it!

1.  Go Click on the Monetize tab to start.

2.  An Amazon Associates link will be right under the word monetize.  Click on that.

3.  Click on "I Want to Create a new Associates ID" and then on Setup Amazon Associates.

4. To create your own Amazon Account, you must make your own ID at Amazon's homepage,  and click sign up, then fill out all the information needed.   If you already have your own account with Amazon, that makes your job even easier; all you have to do is enter your ID and password. 

5. Next, you must fill out the information as directed. 

6.  Then you enter the necessary information regarding your website.   The final step in creating your Amazon Associates account is simply to choose the settings you prefer under "configure settings."

7. The final step in creating your Amazon Associates account is simply to choose the settings you prefer under "configure settings."  

And you're done! You have just learned how to create both a Google AdSense and an Amazon Associates account in a matter of just a few minutes :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Highschool, College, and Life's Uncertainties

Like many high school juniors out there like myself,  I'm approaching that all-important decision making time in my life where I'm starting to think about where I want to go to school and what I want to do with my life.  Let me tell you, the best word I have for you is overwhelming.  I went on a tour of Purdue University yesterday, and just like the last college visit I went on, I came home feeling loaded down with questions, concerns, and stress about all the choices I will soon have to make.  (And of course, how the heck am I going to afford it!?)

Life, is stuffed choc-full of questions and tough decisions.  As a Christian I've often wondered if it's okay to have all these questions, and mostly if it's wrong to question God.  That may seem like a terrible thing to do, and at first, that was my reaction.  Of course it's not okay to question God, hes GOD. But the further I looked into the subject, the more fascinated I became with the truth that God made us knowing we would have questions.

I recently listened to a sermon on this particular subject that really got me thinking.  The Bible  has a lot to say about trusting in the Lord, and God proves to us many, many times that He will guide us down the right path if we follow him with everything we are. I just get SOOO excited when I think about the fact that God has an amazing, wonderfully fulfilling plan for my life that is so far beyond my expectations.   All that He requires is that I give my life over to Him and let him have full control :) (Jeremiah 29:11)

I'm reading a book right now that I absolutely love called Radical by David Platt. 

 Each time I pick up this book I feel like I gain so much more understanding for God's intent for my life and what Christianity today should (but doesn't) look like.  The author references The American Dream multiple times and compares it to Christianity. "While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God."
He identifies clearly how we can honor God: "we were created by God to enjoy his grace . . . but also to extend his glory to the ends of the earth."  We have a command in the gospel directly from the mouth of Jesus to go to the ends of the earth carrying the message of his gospel. "Anything less than radical devotion to this purpose is unbiblical Christianity."
So the conclusion I've come to is that questioning God isn't a bad thing at all; we simply need to do it in the right way, with the right attitude. Saying, "God, I know you're in control and that you have a plan for what I'm going through, but please show me what you want me to do and why you are putting me through this,"  Our God is mysterious, awe-inspiring, and all-powerful.  We can never fully understand his love or know his reasons, but he intends for us to turn to Him in our times of doubt.  Wondering, questioning, and pondering what God has in store can be a good thing, because it allows God's glory and power to shine through the situation.   I've been told more times than I can possibly count that the Christian life was never promised to be the "easy choice".  We were made with a purpose, and that purpose is to bring glory to our creator and be a light to this dark, hopeless world. Knowing it's going to be tough, yet knowing we have Jesus, the only answer to life's toughest question sure makes me feel a whole lot better! :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bloody Wes Teague/Tie-Dyed Cupcakes!

This week, I was assigned to write a review on a book I've recently read called Bloody Wes Teague.  I must say, I was impressed with this book! I tend to stick to my tight genre of modern-day teen romantic comedies, christian literature, and otherwise only read the required books for school.  I have learned a valuable lesson: It pays to read outside the box!

It only makes you a better writer and helps you in all other aspects of your education to be able to read and comprehend all different aspects of literature. If you never expand your horizons, you'll never know what you're missing out on! So moral of the story, put down those video games, shut off your television set, and read, read, read!

Now, back to that book..

Bloody Wes Teague

Bloody Wes Teague is a western fiction novel with a romantic twist, perfect for action lovers and hopeless romantics of all ages!
Wes Teague is a tough, rough cowboy from the west, with his sights set on a prim 'n proper southern belle.  Determined to capture the love of his life and sweep her back to his Wyoming ranch, he sets off to Colorado to win her heart.   Encountering a few unexpected problems along the way, Wes Teague proves himself to truly be the baddest cowboy in all the Wild West!

I would highly recommend this book for basically anyone.  It was an easy read, held my attention, and kept me wanting to read on the way any good book should.  Besides the mild violence, this book would be great for anyone from 12-95 :)  I've never read any western fiction before reading this book and I definitely think I'm going to have to start! My grandmother was always watching old western shows or reading books about cowboys, and I never quite understood her fascination.  It's been a few years since then and I'm beginning to realize, cowboys are quite a fun subject to write about :)

So take it from me, and start reading books you normally wouldn't even think to pick up; I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised by all the benefits!

Now, of course for a recipe :)

I brought snacks for the Cubbies class at my church this past Tuesday night, and decided to try these colorful cupcakes.  The recipe was super easy and actually really fun to make! The different colored batter/icing can be a little time consuming, but is definitely well-worth the effort!

                                  Tie-Dyed Cupcakes



Ingredients:                                                                          325 F.
1 box white cake mix
water,oil,eggs called for on cake mix box
1 box white chocolate instant pudding
food coloring of choice (at least 5 colors)

For frosting: 1/2 lb. powdered sugar
                   1 stick butter
                   1/4 c. shortening
                   1 T. vanilla
                   4-8 T. milk
                   food coloring

Make cake mix according to box, adding 1/4 cup extra water after pudding.  Split batter up into seperate bowls, adding several drops of food coloring to each.  Drop a teaspoon of each color of batter into lined cupcake pans and twirl a toothpick through each one. bake for 14-16 minutes.  Cool completely. 

For frosting:
Mix all ingredients aside from food coloring on low speed for 2 minutes or until well-combined.  Split up icing into seperate cups and add food coloring to each, same as above.  (I used red, purple, blue, green, and yellow but any colors you want work!) drop a tablespoon of each color frosting in tip of icing bag, and pipe onto cupcakes.  Do not mix icing once in bag or make too thin, or the colors will run together! Store in refrigerator for up to one week :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Homemade Ravioli/ Tiramisu Cheesecake Bars

I decided it's way past time for another food post,  considering this was originally my theme for this blog.  I want to include all aspects of my life and my interests, but I do spend a large portion of my spare time in the kitchen....  I don't see myself pursuing a career in the food industry at this point, but I sure do enjoy cooking.

At my youth group last night we were talking about finding our passion.  God has blessed us each with our own set of gifts and talents, and  expects us to use those for His Kingdom.  It really got me thinking about what my gifts are.  I may not be an athlete, a musician, a dancer or a public speaker, but I am certain that God has given us all special, unique talents.  I love to help others and talk to people.  I love working with children.  But most of all, I love using food to show others that I care about and love them.  I bake for my friends and cook dinners for my family, and these things really do give me a true sense of joy.

  Now the hard part comes when I consider what I could do to take that to the next level! How can I use my God-given abilities in ministry, to turn the wandering hearts in this world towards God?
I am definitely going to be looking for opportunities around me :)

 Here are a few recipes I have tried out this past week when trying to decide what kind of foods to make for my class to represent Italy.  I don't really know anyone who doesn't like good Italian food, so this wasn't very hard!

My friend's mom made the most delicious tiramisu cheesecake bars when i was over there last.  If you love coffee and cheesecake, you really  won't find a better dessert out there! These bars are easy, BEYOND  delicious, and great for any occasion really. 

tiramisu cheesecake bars             

  • 2  cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies (about 60 cookies) OR graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3  cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2  tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2  tablespoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 3  packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4  cup sugar
  • 3  eggs
  • 1  oz bittersweet baking chocolate, grated
  • Chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix crushed cookies and melted butter with fork. Press mixture in bottom of pan. Refrigerate while continuing with recipe.
  2. In small bowl, mix whipping cream and coffee granules with fork until coffee is dissolved; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until smooth and creamy. On low speed, beat in sugar, eggs and coffee mixture, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes longer or until ingredients are well blended. Using rubber spatula, spread cream cheese filling over crust. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until center is set.
  4. Top with espresso beans or chocolate drizzle. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours

    homemade spinach ravioli

    Fresh Egg Pasta:
    4 large eggs
    1 T water
    3 ½ cups all purpose flour
    ½ teaspoon salt

    1. Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in mixer bowl. (we use our Kitchenaid) Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds.
    2. Now use the dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and knead for two minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1-2 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Divide the dough into four pieces before processing with the pasta roller.
    3. Roll out pasta according to your pasta maker’s instructions.

    Spinach and Cheese Ravioli:
     frozen chopped spinach (10 oz.)
    ½ medium onion, minced

    2 cloves garlic
    1 T olive oil
    ¾ cup ricotta cheese

    3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    1 large egg yolk

    Salt and pepper

    1. Thaw frozen spinach and pat mosture out with clean towel.
    Heat 1 T of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, until translucent. Stir in the spinach and salt to taste. Cook for about one minute.
    2. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella, and the egg yolk. Mix well and set aside. The filling can be refrigerated overnight.
    3. Lay out your long sheets of pasta on a lightly floured table. Place small balls of filling, about 1 teaspoon, in a line about one inch from the bottom of the pasta sheet. Leave about 1 1/4 inches between each ball of filling. Fold over the top of the pasta sheet, lining it with the bottom edge. Seal the bottom and 2 open sides with your finger. Use a ravioli cutter to cut out the individual raviolis. Place the ravioli on a large plate.

    4. Boil a huge pot of water with salt. Add in the ravioli and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Strain and serve with the sauce of your choice.