Monday, September 19, 2016

Once Upon a Time: A Story of Cupcakes

Hello, Lovelies!

Or...Uglies, if you prefer. However, I'm sitting here with a British-flag-covered, steaming pot of tea, and methinks it affects my vocabulary at times. Besides, if you're sparing the time to read of my latest (and *ahem*, long ago) adventures in cupcakery, you are lovely! Shall we begin the tale?

    Once upon a time, when the colors of spring were just beginning to come into focus and warm the landscape, Sarah traveled to the far-off state of Maryland. This land was very merry indeed for the traveler, as it boasted the wonderful attraction of home to her life-long best friend, who had married another life-long friend, the two of whom had an exciting new friend to introduce to Sarah.

  Or, to be more precise, an honorary nephew for Auntie Sarah to meet!!
     Mr. Liam was full of smiles and conversation for Auntie Sarah, and she loved him dearly. Loved him when he napped, when he ate, and when he bounced. They played bump together, read books when Mama and Papa went on a date, and toured the art museum. One day, the adventures of Mr. Liam and Auntie Sarah contained-
What's that you say? You thought you were getting a cupcake recipe? What is this nonsense about cupcakes? Look at the post title. I'm sure I wrote "The Adventures of Mr. Liam and Auntie Sarah"...


Cupcakes. Right. I will try again.

     One day, during Auntie Sarah's visit, Mr. Liam regrettably informed her that he had a busy day planned, and advised her to occupy herself as cheerily as she could with Mama while he attended to his duties (he promised to bounce in and out so they wouldn't be too devastated). Mama and Auntie wracked their brains, and finally decided that the best option for keeping happily busy would be the art of cupcakery. But not just any cupcakery. No - it would require a special kind, a kind of multiple colors and dancing flavors, to sufficiently brighten their time in which they could not be playing with Mr. Liam. And so the Sherbet Cupcake was born. Half grapefruit, half blueberry, topped with the fluffiest of So-Fluffy-I'm-Gonna-Die frostings, these cupcakes were masterpieces. Even Mr. Liam, who could not then enjoy their flavor, pronounced the aroma "heavenly" and "oohed" and "ahhed" at the colors. He thought Mama and Auntie were brilliant, and so, today, we share the recipe with the world.
     Because when life gives you no Mr. Liam playtime, you make cupcakes (and Skype him, and save to visit him again, and talk about him, and look at pictures that Mama sends you of him, and...well, you get the idea). So without further ado:

It was so fun to get make cupcakes with Mika as part of our Bloggy Cupcake Party - since we originally conceived the idea the first time Lauren and I got to visit her! For Part One of the recipe (Grapefruit Cupcakes!) and the Delectably Fluffy Frosting (a Mika-Sarah original), hop over to One Bright Corner. Below you'll find the Blueberry Cupcake side of this delicious-duo. Enjoy!

Blueberry Cupcakery
cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup Berry Blend fruit juice
2 - 3 drops purple food coloring, optional
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 cup blueberries (we used frozen, but fresh would be even more delicious!)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 12-count muffin tin with adorable cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the rice flour, coconut four, tapioca starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
3. In a larger bowl, beat the sugar and coconut oil together. Add eggs, one at a time, until texture is thick and smooth.
4. Combine the berry juice and food coloring with milk in a small bowl. Alternate adding milk and flour mixture by halves, beating until just combined.
5. Gently fold in blueberries, then fill papers with half Grapefruit half Blueberry batters!
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cupcakes spring back when tops are pressed or until a toothpick comes out clean (but remember gluten-free cupcakes are done at a more moist consistency than wheat flour cupcakes). Remove and cool completely on wire racks.
7. Frost!

(Remember, for frosting and specific details in duo-flavored cupcake assembly, see Mika's blog!)

This was my favorite cupcake recipe so far and receives two thumbs up!! They were flavorful, moist, and delicious with or without the frosting (but if there were any doubters, I'm highly recommending the frosting)! We all thought they had a slightly gritty taste, so I would experiment with substituting sweet rice flour for the brown rice. Also, I have made them again as lemon cupcakes and found them a bit dry - a problem we did not have with the original Sherbet Cupcakes. My hypothesis is that the juicy blueberries kept them moist - so don't skip the fruit! :)

     And now you know how it came about that there were Sherbet Cupcakes in the adventures of Mr. Liam and Auntie Sarah. And I think I can promise you that everyone lives happily ever after.

     Everyone except the cupcakes.

Friday, September 16, 2016

five minute friday

Let go of your priorities
Ignoble, insolent "I".
Self, her needs, desires, and delights - can wait.
Today you must be living-
Enthralled by all the grace that's granted
Nothing lacking but to serve.

five minute friday: Writing for five minutes on a theme. Skip the edits. Skip the considerations. Just write. And post.

Monday, August 22, 2016

No Pictures, Please

     Today, we had an adventure. Not the I-just-single-handedly-stopped-a-gun-point-bank-robbery kind, but the let's-get-out-and-enjoy-our-corner-of-the-world kind. It was lovely, exciting, refreshing, delightful.

     But I was unable to take a single picture! I couldn't post anything on Instagram: #eventhougheveryoneelsedid. There were no stop-by-stop updates for me to put on Facebook: that-moment-when-you-wonder-if-social-media-knows-how-awesome-your-life-is. I wasn't the one sending pictures back to mum and dad at home.

     I'm currently phone-less which means picture-less, but you know what? That's ok. Better, even. Because it means my Sunday afternoon was spent driving and talking and swimming in the river - not checking facts on my phone or trying to snap pictures. It means the day was closed with a fast-paced, steep hike to watch the sun set over rolling hills of evergreen trees, their reflections quivering in the winding river and its tributaries, the very glory of God seeming to burst forth in purple, red, and glowing gold - and all I could do was sit and wonder at its brilliance. Singing praises with my brothers and sisters, grasping to put words to the feeling of worship that throbbed my heart so vehemently I felt I may explode before I could voice it - this was all I could do. And it taught me.

 phones can't capture memories 

     Yet I know, ridiculously, if I had a phone, I would try. I would pull it out, and attempt to portray in pixels the breathtaking event of a Master Painter brushing the sky with broad, colorful strokes. I would set it up, adjust the angle, and try to save in a small electronic device the marvelous event of a massive heavenly body slipping beyond the edge of my mortal sight. I would try, and fail, and try again. I would become distracted, seeking that perfect shot. I would decide to put myself in the picture - probably with a friend - and would push a button over and over again to make sure we saved the most flattering pic possible. The sun would slip below the tree line, the colors would fade, the wind would die down, and I would have missed my chance.

Missed my chance to sing.

To worship.

To glory.

Missed my chance to marvel.

To be in awe.

To lift my hands high, stretching them toward heaven and the One who dwells therein.

     I love taking pictures because, as incomparable as they are to actual events, they have the ability to time-capsule moments. To help you recall, to go back, to say, "Oh! remember singing hymns together as the sun set on Angel's Rest? Remember that fellow-hiker who sat a bit away from us on the outcropping and clapped along, asking us to keep singing? Remember what it felt like just as that last sliver of burning rose-gold dissipated on the horizon?"

I want to remember

     But today I was reminded: it's saving the moments, and praising our King for them, that are the principle things. If pictures help - lovely. Take a couple. But if you're lucky enough to lose your phone and have no camera, drink it in. Cling to that colorful swirl of brilliance in the sky, hold tight to the shivering moments as the wind tries to blow you off the cliffs and the sun is no longer there to warm you, treasure the hours spent in praise and conversation with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

For me, God had to say loud and clear, "No pictures, please."

And it was glorious.

Friday, July 8, 2016

five minute friday: build

When I was young I used to build
Great castles in the sky.
And no expense did I e'er spare - 
In pleasing my mind's eye.

When I grew some I tried to build
A lauded life for me.
But the foundation that I poured
I found vain and empty.

And now I've grown a little more
And start to understand
That building blocks of clouds and praise
Evade my feeble hand.

Instead I find life's building blocks
From humbler origins come -
They're hewn from giving up my life
And kept in place by love.

five minute friday: Writing for five minutes on a theme. Skip the edits. Skip the considerations. Just write. And post.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

five minute friday: Pass

I remember the encounter well.

A friend and I were on the verge of missing the opening notes of a concert. As new drivers, we had survived the stress of Portland evening traffic, one-way-roads, and whereintheworldistheparkinggarage moments with surprisingly minimal befrazzlement. Dashing up the streets to the concert hall, however, we were suddenly accosted by a group of girls, nearly the same ages as ourselves, with baskets and signs in support of a cause our minds hardly registered.

"Can we talk to you for a moment?" they asked.

We barely gave a coherent answer; our eyes were shining for an evening of piano music, our feet sped us onward to the tempo of anticipated tunes.

"Well, here, take these - for your protection," they insisted, shoving miscellaneous somethings into our hands as we hurried past.

It wasn't until we were seated in the concert hall - having deposited our "gifts" in a trash bin without so much as a glance - that my friend turned to me and asked, "Were those girls representing Planned Parenthood?"

And I knew they had been. I had felt a flicker of conscience as we'd ignored them, a begging of my spirit to stop and talk with them. And I had hurried past.

There the details of our evening fade. I can't recollect who played, or which pieces we heard. I don't know if my friend and I stopped for coffee on the way back, or drove straight home to meet a curfew.

But I do remember how I felt once I was home, sitting in the quiet dark of my room.

I felt ashamed.

Ashamed to have rushed by, missing the opportunity to speak with those girls on the street corner. To learn why they were representing Planned Parenthood. To hear their stories. To show them love. To tell them of my Savior.

I felt ashamed for treating an evening of personal enjoyment as more important than the spiritual state of girls who actually tried to talk to me. For valuing the sparkle of an "evening out" above the terribly too-real lives of dozens of little ones.

Jesus once told a parable of a poor man, Lazarus, who sat outside a rich man's dwelling, hoping, begging, for food from his table. Daily, the rich man walked past, without so much as an inkling of sympathy for the sore-ridden, needy one at his feet. His life, his priorities, his comforts - these were of far greater concern to a man of the world than the life flickering on his doorstep.

In America today - indeed, throughout the whole world - we too have have lives to save on our doorsteps: the lives of the unborn, the future of women and girls facing unplanned pregnancies. Daily, lives flicker between being taken or saved, crushed or nurtured, thrown away or valued. Do you hurry past? Do you bemoan the deeds in word without a pause to help? Do you have a hurried, hardly-coherent answer for girls on the street corner?

I have written before on why I am pro-life, and others have written far more eloquently than I - but what I want to ask today is, What are you doing about it? There are countless options: volunteer at a pregnancy clinic, support your local CPC, or even simply take the time to reach out and talk to the women "on your doorstep". Don't hurry past the mission field with which God has surrounded you. These lives may not be dying on our front porches, but they are suffering in secret, just down the street.


I've recently signed up (rather last-minute) to run in a fundraiser race for a local Crisis Pregnancy Center. I'd love it if you felt led to support me! The link is here.
However, even if you are unable to financially support Pathways, please cover them - and all other centers devoted to showing Christ's love to women and mothers in need - in your prayers. 

Confession: it took me a bit longer than 5 minutes to write this, in between teaching today. Still, it was written, minimally edited, and posted all in the same day - which is an accomplishment for me!

Photo Credit:
szdl. Passing. 10 Oct. 2013. Flickr Creative Commons