Friday, February 13, 2015

Cupcake Party: Sarah Hearts Chocolate


Who ever heard of a girl late for her own party? Yet, I just checked and double-checked the calendar, and can you believe it's Friday ya'll??

So, this week, cupcake party on Friday. My blog. Everyone here? Hooray!

In accordance with the real theme of Valentine's Day (not really -we actually just chose it because there is no better flavor for kicking off a party) February's cupcake category is CHOCOLATE! (and I hope you all were terribly refined and read that with a French accent. I know I typed it thusly)

Lauren made some almost-healthy-and-still-incredibly-delicious Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes last week, for which I can vouch as a keeper recipe! This week, I tried DC Cupcakes' Chocolate Chip Lava Fudge Cupcakes.

Three words:

Also a keeper.

The first step in making unbeatably delicious cupcakes is to get some unbeatably cute help, which is often hard to come by. I was lucky in my interviewing process, though, and was able to hire Maddy for some cupcake-paper-placing assistance. (please notice the hearts at the bottom of the papers. we love cupcakes.)
I substituted almond milk for the whole milk. I think this made the batter a bit more runny, and in the end I added an extra cup of flour (although if I did it again I would try only half a cup) for texture.
My other "tweaking" came in the form of dark chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips - I recommend this change!!



What can I say? It's Valentine's Day tomorrow and I love chocolate. What better shape for cupcakes??
My second cute assistant: Kate! 
Cooling 
Then the truly fun part began! Using a lemon juicer (slightly smaller than an apple corer, which is what the recipe suggested) we punched holes straight through the cupcakes, gutting out their delicious innards for a core of even more delectable-ness -
Namely, chocolate ganache! The recipe said to use a plastic squeeze bottle, which would have made this a one-handed task. However, in the lack of squeeze bottles and the surplus of hands, we made do with a paper funnel!
Yummy-Yum-Yums 
 Next came a vanilla cream cheese frosting, topped with cute little pink sugar-candy-decor-balls. I think the end effect quite charming.
Yes, they were That. Good.

And now for some recipes - just in case you care to make these mouth-watering, diet-shattering, chocolate-fixing cupcakes for yourself! 

Cupcakes
1 1/4 c. gluten-free flour {I used 2 1/4}
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 c. whole milk {I used almond milk}
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips {I used dark chocolate chunks}

Beat butter until fluffy; stop to add the sugar; beat on medium speed until mixed. Then, add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. In a separate container, combine milk and vanilla. Sift flour, salt, and soda. Alternate adding flour and milk mixtures to butter-sugar combo (adding a third at a time). Mix just until combined. Then add cocoa, and fold in the chocolate chips! Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, either in cupcake papers or greased muffin tins. The recipe said to start checking the cupcakes at 15 minutes, and mine were mostly ready to pull out then. Allow cupcakes to fully cool (on wire rack) before taking out the centers and adding the...



Chocolate Ganache
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream

Fill a skillet with about an inch of water, and put ingredients in a small metal bowl in the skillet - kind of like a double-boiler. Turn burner between medium-low and medium heat. {Ok, I cheated here and turned it to 'high' until the chocolate started to melt, then turned it back down. No negative effects.} Melt and mix until it is one smooth, chocolaty goop of deliciousness. It will seem very runny, but have faith! It thickens. We added it to the centers while it was still very runny, then just popped them in the fridge. After the initial hardening, the cupcakes were fine on the counter, and the ganache didn't get soupy again.

Finally, top with...

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting!
4 TBLS unsalted butter {but mine was salted, and still good}
4 c. powdered sugar {recipe asked me to sift it...but I didn't. However, if your sugar is on the clumpy side, you will want to}
1/4 t. vanilla extract
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature.

Combine and frost!




Review:

I really loved this cupcake recipe - and so did all my taste-testers! Those not accustomed to gluten-free cooking said they were a little dry, and they were on the crumbly side. At some point, I would like to experiment with adding a little less "extra" flour, and changing my g-free flour, to see if I could make them a little more moist. With the fudgy filling and creamy frosting, however, it wasn't bad at all. Even if this is "as good as it gets" I would make them again in a heartbeat...and probably will!

Any questions? No? Well then....

Would you like a cupcake?



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Scheming Still


Once upon a time, there were three of us. Three, adorable, us's. We played violin together, explored the woods together, told each other scary raccoon stories at bedtime, and investigated the scientific and entrepreneurial potential behind turning fondue back into cheese for resale.  Because 2 or 3 days a week is clearly not enough face time, we were ever consumed with plotting intricate "schemes" to lengthen or multiply visits. Perhaps one week we would try to smuggle each other home in the back of our respective vans. Another week held "run away from home" day. We would be suddenly struck deaf to cries of "It's time to go home!" or our feet would turn to lead when it was time to "load up." Oh, how subtly we schemed. On rare days, our plans would be astounded by the simple, "Ok" our parents must have chuckled to give when approached by "Don't you think we should have a sleepover tonight?"


Then we grew up a little, and with us, our world. When I moved the eternal distance of an hour away, our "schemes" grew more intricate. We would attempt to leave necessary items at each others' houses to require an imminent second get-together. Our ears would perk up whenever there was mention of being in the same vicinity, and we would email, and send letters, and plot until we were blue in the face to make the most of every opportunity. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But most of all, we enjoyed the thrill and adventure of discussing our "schemes."

{photo credit: Christa Taylor}
Then we grew up a little more, and the world got a little bigger. Mikaela married her bestest-estest friend and moved far enough away to put my one-hour distance to shame. And so the scheming continued, and Lauren and I (with Mama Cash!) boarded a plane and had one delightful smash of a visit last month where, true to form, the three us's hatched another scheme...


But this scheme was different. It didn't involve leaving things behind, or begging for sleepovers. It wasn't concerned with scary carnivore stories or finding a day when we could tramp through the woods to go blackberry surfing. No, no, no - this scheme was so delicious, we want you in on it!

Curious? I'll give you a hint: it's a Cupcake Party!! For details and your very-own, highly-personal invitation, read Lauren's post here, then head over to One Bright Corner's main page today for the first of many festivities. Will you join in our lovely scheme? We have years of plotting practice, and can guarantee you a wild, delectable ride!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Life Lately

In the name of preserving landmarks online for all posterity...

Because I spent some good, much-in-demand time working on it...

And because I feel like some sort of general update is due to blogland, as a result of my extended absence...

Ta-dah! Coders' 2014 Christmas Letter! Not for the faint-of-heart, length-wise. (But I do believe my blog in general doesn't qualify for those readers.)


The steadfast love of the LORD never changes,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning –
New every morning.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O LORD;
Great is Thy faithfulness

Mumsie must have sung this song constantly when I was little, because I still hear her voice, praising slowly and reverently, whenever I ‘sing’ it in my head. As we come again to a year’s end, as we prepare again our hearts to celebrate the incarnation of our mighty God, as we look again in retrospect upon the last 12 months of life, we see afresh the many changes of the year. There are new friends, new jobs, new ideas, new sorrows, new joys – and yet, through all the changes, we clearly see God’s mercies and compassion which are paradoxically ever the same, and ever new. Great is His faithfulness!

What’s new for the Coders in 2014? I’m so glad you asked! Settle back with a cup of tea or a mug of cocoa, though, because we do still have 10 kids (as incredible as that may sound to those of you who know Zachary) and this could take a while (but I’ll do my best).

New Reasons to Celebrate:
In March, Gregg and Keri celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary! Actually, that’s a slightly misleading statement. Mom and dad’s 25th anniversary was in March, but they have been celebrating all year by disappearing for a weekend a month. Sometimes to the beach, sometimes to the mountains – they keep in touch enough to make us jealous by pictures of sunshine, snow, and sea.

That’s not all we’ve celebrated this year, though! School landmarks are always good reasons to have a party, and we had a giant triple-graduation bash in July, as Ben finished WSU with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Emily graduated from the community college with an AA in Business, and Rachel graduated from high school! Pie, pie, and more pie was consumed, which – of course – made the celebration official.

New Travels: (note: for pictures and more details, check out the travelers’ blogs!)
Ø  At the beginning of the year, Ben was working as an intern at Hewlett-Packard as he finished up his degree. Even in his not-yet-a-full-time-employee status, he had the amazing opportunity to go to China for two weeks in February to oversee the production of a part he designed! Chongqing being famous for its spicy food, Ben’s only time venturing out alone resulted in a meal of many tears, LOTS of water, and huge grins from waiters. Nonetheless, he considers it a great experience and can’t wait to go back! (Plans for another business trip are set for January 2015)
Ø  Shortly after graduation, Ben enlisted the companionship of Joshua on a three-week European jaunt. After visiting family in Loches, France, they traveled on to sight-see through England, Scotland, and even a brief 48 hours in Ireland!
Ø  We have only just welcomed home our most recent world-traveler, Rachel! She struck out on her own at the end of September for a two-month absence in Ufa, Russia, where she enjoyed playing with and caring for two adorable twin boys recently born to some friends of ours!

New Challenges:
Our pastor constantly reminds us that “God is always good, all the time.” The evidence of this comes most powerfully in times of pain, of fear, and of uncertainty, and so we share these challenges to testify to the goodness of our LORD. We see the proof of His love and provision while in the midst of trials, and although we are not often told “Why?” He always shows Himself to be the “How.

At the end of August, Megan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Having a 9-year-old suddenly insulin dependent, being required abruptly to count every carbohydrate she consumes, learning all the emergency signs and responses for high and low blood sugar readings – these things have composed our greatest challenge. And yet, we have truly “seen the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” From His providential hand in causing mama to notice Megan’s symptoms (which seemed coincidental and normal), to Megan’s beautiful and grace-filled response to her life-long diagnosis, we have been in awe of how our King has marked the way.

If you had been a fly on our wall one particular night – only a few days after learning about her diabetes – you would have been touched by Megan’s attitude, as she discussed possible reasons God has allowed her to have this disease. “Maybe I’m supposed to be an encouragement to another little girl who gets diabetes!” “Maybe I will grow up to be a doctor for kids who get diabetes!” – she was joyfully ready to look for God’s purpose in her trial, and the enthusiasm and willingness of my wee sister humbled me. Yes, God is good.

New Ventures:
Ø  Work: After graduation and Europe, Ben became an official employee of HP right here in Vancouver, and continues to enjoy his job immensely. In June, I also started a new part-time job at a local tea room!
Ø  School: Joshua began classes at the local community college this fall through the running start program. At this point, he plans to study for a degree in mechanical engineering.
Ø  Play: The youngest three of the Coder clan have now been added to the ranks of costumed volunteers at Fort Vancouver. Beginning in January, they will be taught the skills and hobbies of young boys and girls living at the Fort in the 1840s, and will be trained to share this knowledge with visitors.
Ø  Music: Intrigued by the art of shattering glass and destroying good hearing, Joshua decided to learn the bagpipes this year. It was several months before he received the actual instrument, but now we are often serenaded by strains of “Amazing Grace” or “Scotland the Brave” floating through his closed door, down the stairs, around the corner, into the great room, and arriving in our ears at a loud-and-clear volume. (We love it.)

Old News:
Amidst the ever-changing newness of life, some things have remained the same year-to-year. For example, Mama is still home-schooling the younger children around the kitchen table, while our two high-schoolers (Grace and James) watch classes online through Bob Jones University. I continue to teach violin and piano lessons to about 30 students, and thoroughly enjoy my time with each of these aspiring musicians. Dad is still working at Home Depot, and will celebrate two years as an employee of ‘the Orange Life’ in April! Besides the bagpipes, music continues to be a major part of our lives, with the youngest 5 taking lessons and practicing the days away (mostly)! J

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This Christmas season, we pray that you all will be blessed with a fresh awareness of who our God is as you celebrate His birth. May we all continually learn new lessons from Him, praise Him with new songs, and wonder at His ever-new mercies.

Merry Christmas!!


~Sarah (for the Coder family)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Only Ground

{photo credit}
About a month ago, I posted the following on facebook:
I'm tired of the word "deserve." "Ever girl deserves..." "...because you deserve..." "Everyone deserves..."
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead...made us alive...that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
All we deserve is eternal death in hell, but Christ's incarnation and sacrifice have rendered what anyone "deserves" as irrelevant. Life is to be centered around His love, His grace, and His mercy. Can we stop with our false sense of entitlement? I'm so grateful to not get what I deserve!
Having the Christian friends that I do, many agreed with me, posting their own encounters and understanding of the magnitude of the free-ness of God's gift of eternal life. However, at the time, I couldn't help but wonder how many people would have so heartily concurred if they knew what had sparked the mini-rant. Last week, as we mournfully observed the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade, enough one-liners, and comic strips, and blog posts rolled across my screen to assure me that my motive in the post would have been rather - if not extremely - unpopular. Why? Because the catalyst for my anti-entitlement reaction was a pro-life ad.

How could we, as Christians, have strayed so far in defending our beliefs? Even a pro-life ad on a Christian radio station fell short. After briefly running through general information about the pro-life organization, the commercial then moved to how those looking to donate could do so as a tax write-off (in fact, the whole ad felt disproportionately money-oriented, but that is not the point here). After announcing all pertinent details, the gentle lady's voice concluded, "Because every baby deserves a chance to live."

Deserves? Is that what we believe?

{photo credit}
If you are pro-life, why? Because you believe that the child in the womb is an actual human being and abortion is the same as murder? Who says murder is wrong? Couldn't it sometimes be a necessary evil for the greater good?

Are you pro-life because studies show that a baby in the womb can feel pain? Is pain inflicted on another human a legitimate reason for outlawing a practice? Do we outlaw orthodontists? Doctors who set legs? Who's to say that the temporary pain of an abortion isn't, in the long run, the best for the child, if his life would be one of great trial?

Are you pro-life because "innocent" babies deserve the chance to live? Why? Do their mothers "deserve" to go through the nausea, discomfort, job complications, and financial hardship to bring to term children they don't even want - perhaps for whom they cannot even provide?

Why are you pro-life?

If the Christian literature I saw this past week is any indication, we are failing miserably in our attempts to answer this question. We spout our scientific facts: 8 weeks after conception, the baby's heartbeat is discernible via ultrasound; at 16-18 weeks, the baby can feel pain. These are evidences of personhood. After science we appeal to morality: the baby is alive, and it's murder to abort him; abortion is sacrificing one's children on the altar of selfishness and willful ignorance. Goodness and kindness rise up in protest.  But the weapon of choice is pathos. Miraculous survival stories, heart-wrenching testimonials, appeals to mothers who would never want pain for their children- the more tears we see, the more people we feel we've reached.

Why are you pro-life?

Christians, should not our answer be, "I am pro-life because never once in God's word did He show the unborn to be of any less personhood than the born; therefore, I cannot consider them to be anything else, either. I am pro-life because our God is the God of life and murder is against His very nature; therefore, I oppose it too. I am pro-life because God loves children; therefore, I delight in them as well."?

{photo credit}
Are we ashamed of these answers? Afraid of "turning people away" by our radical, life-supporting, Christian response? Have we so thoughtlessly burned our bridges? Our foundation was surely on the rock, but we have taken a sledgehammer to it in the name of not "forcing our views on others." If we blow the pro-life horn in the name of ever-changing science, unreliable pathos, and floating societal morality, how will it sound?

In observing the Christians of his time, William Wilberforce noted this lack of foundation from which we still waver today:
"If we listen to [the Christians'] conversation, virtue is praised, and vice is censured; piety is perhaps applauded, and profaneness condemned. So far all is well. But let any one, who would not be deceived by the "barren generalities" examine a little more closely, and he will find, that not to Christianity in particular, but at best to Religion in general, perhaps to mere Morality their homage is intended to be paid..."
"Does this seem to strong? View their plan of life and their ordinary conduct....Wherein can we discern the points of discrimination between between them and professed unbelievers?"
 I am pro-life. Not because science "proves" or "supports" the life of a child in the womb - although it does.

Not because it is "bad" or "evil" to take that life, whether from the preference of the parent or pressure on the parent  - although it is.

Not because I have shed innumerable tears over the lost lives of so many millions - although I have.

And certainly not because every baby deserves to live - frankly, they don't. None of us do.

I am pro-life because my Father in heaven, Who has so perfectly formed each being, loves, bestows, and values life, and I stand with Him. What other choice do we have? "All other ground is sinking sand."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Until Next Week...

Dear blog readers:

For your general information, I have actually been away from home the past 3 Mondays! Thanks to William's game of tag, I had scheduled posts for the first two, but am in the midst of all sort of busyness and therefore must beg your indulgence in excusing another relievingly eerily silent week-beginning.

Anyway, to tide you over until my next spurt of randomness, I hereby bestow upon you both giggles and quips. Courtesy of Pinterest, of course. :p

J.A. for Squirrels

I feel for her. I do.

hehe :p

Poor little bunny, lettuce weep for you.

lol

Everyone reads this with three different voices speaking, right?

Optimism... like a boss

Just like this goose. See a wet spot, think a lake. We're talking mountains out of mole hills here, people.
In the most optimistic sense possible.

Image Via: Crush Cul de Sac

Always.

I want to live!! :D

So live a little.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Watch-It Wednesday: Ice Women

Lauren and I were both nominated for the ice bucket challenge this past week, and decided that right after a run was the perfect time to do it! I'd been slightly perturbed by how many people simply donated to the ALS Association without doing some homework on it, first. Thus, my spiel:

It's always been a dream of mine to willingly stand still whilst being dumped with buckets of ice water - NOT! But anyway, thanks, Katie I'm nominating Karen JenkinsTitus Copper, and Katelyn Dawkins to join the fun. You're welcome.  Please know that the ALS Association funds embryonic stem cell research and is therefore not an organization we as Christians should mindlessly support. You three are nominated to donate to a RESEARCHED organization for any cause for which you have a heart. Ice water and $10, or $100 and no ice water. Ready - go! 


Have a cool Wednesday!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tag Time! {part 2}

Short. Sweet. To-the-point. These are my rules for part 2 of tag. Ready? Here we go!
TAG! Your It!   Played countless games of tag when we were little.  We played at recess, and we also played it at home with all of our neighborhood friends.  Trees were usually base.  Freeze tag was the best!
{credit}
Part II: List 11 random facts about yourself. (If I can think of that many!)

1. I've signed up for my first-ever half marathon! My friend and I have never done more than 7.5 miles, but hey - we have until May to train, so no prob - right?
First training run - done!
2. One of my goals for this fall is to start learning Korean.
❋ learn korean - colors (hoonsena.tumblr.com)
3. I was tagged in the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge...and delivered! :p For those of you who love to watch people freeze to death and don't have facebook, never fear! It will be showing up on Wednesday for your viewing pleasure...

4. "Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite fairy tale.
beauty and the beast <3 LOVE this
love this picture
5. I have just under 200 books on my easily-accessible shelves, and another massively-sized cardboard box of books from my childhood stuffed to the gills and buried deep within my closet. Also, the overwhelming majority of items on my wishlist from any given website is books.
lovely old tomes
...but you already knew I was a bookaholic
6. I'm one of those annoying people who is no good at sports, yet plays anyway (much to the chagrin of the pros).
Bad at sports
7. Despite the fact that I prefer reading to writing, one of my life goals is to write a children's fairy tale.
so sweet!
8. I'm an avid advocate of kombucha drinking.
Yums!
9. I have a random "disease" called Raynaud's Phenomenon.

10. A confirmed tea snob, I began working at a tea room this summer with a view to someday open my own tea shop!
Tea vintage typography print Imaginary Tea by hopscotchgraphics   --  Sometimes a cup of tea is shared with a friend, a book, music, an unfocused gaze out your window.  -but each cup is a journey of sorts and that's a wonderful thing.
{credit}
11. Here are the things I can see that are red from where I sit: my friends' cooler, a deck of cards, the cover of Balancing the Sword, and the dress of a paper doll.

I think that classifies as an excessively random fact, which means I get double points.

And now I get to ask 11 questions! And pick some people (forget the "11 people" clause) to answer them! I do hereby tag...

Elanee from Elanee's Endeavors! (It was so fab to meet you this weekend!)
Lynnae from Randomness by Lynnae
Red from The Case of the Red-Head JT


Here are your questions:
1. If you had tomorrow cleared of any previous commitments, what would you do with it?
2. What is your favorite book? :)
3. What is the coolest place you've ever visited?
4. Who is your favorite author?
5. If you could learn another instrument, what would it be?
6. What is your favorite sport? {and you don't have to be good at it... :p}
7. Favorite soundtrack?
8. Best movie adaptation of a book?
9. Favorite chore?
10. Most thought-provoking concept you've come across in the last week?
11. Favorite type of tea?

Are you ready? Go! In the off-chance that you've forgotten the rules, just check out the previous post. :D

Happy Labor Day!