Overloaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Overloaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. That’s a mouthful.

Literally. It’s worth every single marshmallowy, chocolate-chipped, caramel and peanut butter-covered bite. It’s also worth every single jolt of stomach pain you suffer from eating a way-too-big slice after 9 o’clock at night.

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I had a moment to sit down and read through some of my favourite blogs today. I fully intended on spending the day laying around on my couch and relaxing, but the moment I saw the post for this cake on Sprinkle Bakes, my baking fire ignited and I just had to try it! The base of the cake is essentially a giant chocolate-chip cookie baked in a springform pan. It is then topped with marshmallow fluff, peanut butter chips, chopped up peanut butter cups, marshmallows, chocolate chips, caramel sauce, and peanut butter buttercream. Could it get any sweeter?

No. No, it could not.

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It feels so good to be baking again. Now that classes are winding down, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining a little bit longer with each passing day, I’ve got baking fever! I hope to be sharing more and more recipes over the coming months.

I hope you’re all having a blessed April and are embracing every possible opportunity to find a smile each day!

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Check Point

I’m twenty days into my “365 Reasons To Give Thanks” challenge. I can’t believe it has only been twenty days. Sometimes I question my own judgement–what have I gotten myself into? Other days, I’m quite pleased with myself because I know I am finally pushing myself to use my camera more. I can’t deny that I’ve already had some trouble. I got behind on the editing process and found myself backed up with a slew of unorganized photos. I’ve also struggled to find inspiration on some days. Or effort. Or even just time.

But regardless of my excuses, I am thankful that I was able to take this challenge on. I’ve taken more photos of random things in the past twenty days than I probably have over the previous six months. I just wanted to share some of the photos that didn’t make the cut (and a few that did too) in celebration of my twenty day mark. Here’s to 345 more.

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Have a beautiful and inspired week!

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New Year’s Resolution: 365 Reasons to Give Thanks

The ball dropped. Did you see it? Within a quick ten second countdown, the clocks struck midnight and we were once again faced with a new year. Besides the cliche horn-blowing and excessive hugging, I always love those first few moments of the new year. It marks a simplicity that I cherish. For those first few moments, the complicated build-up of the past twelve months seems to disappear and I am once again greeted with a fresh start that is liberating and unknown. Even though it is really just another day, the new year gives us the opportunity to start anew. It’s magical, really.

I always make a New Year’s Resolution. Sure, it’s cliche to do so, but it doesn’t have to be. In past years, I have made those typical resolutions–exercise more, start a new hobby, go on a diet–and like many others, I have failed to keep them. But for the past 4 years, I have challenged myself to make more practical resolutions that will make me a better person. Resolutions that are actually tough to do, but will reward my character. Change my thinking. Inspire me to become a more joyful person. And I’m happy to say that I have been pretty good at keeping those resolutions. So much so, that I look forward to not only making, but keeping them each year.

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My first “real” resolution was to be more optimistic. It was inspired by a thought I had one summer when I realized that I was putting too many expectations on myself, and instead wasn’t appreciating the moments that came–how they came. I realized that being happy required removing any expectations from particular experiences and instead finding that great parts that just happened. That year, I obviously still had my down days but I was generally a more joyful person. I learned to appreciate friends, moments, tough times. Life. That resolution changed my entire attitude.

The next year, my resolution was to devote more personal time to be spent with Jesus. This resolution scared me. It was vague and quite challenging. I had never really had a relationship with God that was so personal–before I just spent lots of time going to church, hearing messages, attending youth group, and listening to other people talk about how God spoke to them. But I knew that I needed a more personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. I didn’t know how to tackle this resolution, but I quickly became really keen on journalling and reading straight from the Bible. It was an incredible year. I look back on it now and realize how imperative it was in making me who I am today. I learned so much about Jesus and myself in that year that I don’t even think I could express it in words.

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Last year, my resolution took a way more practical approach. A friend introduced me to this incredible book called “Everyday Justice” by Julie Clawson. As I read through the book, my heart was stirred by the way in which our everyday choices impact so many people around the world–people we are called to love. It exposed me to the horrors that other people face because of the clothes I buy, the food I consume, and the waste I produce. I was heartbroken but also inspired. As a result, I challenged myself to go an entire year without buying any new clothing. Not because I wanted to save money (which I did–double bonus!), but because I wanted to force myself to own up to my impacts and research how I could change them. By the end of the year, I had made some clothing purchases, but the majority of them were from thrift stores or places I had extensively researched and knew were fair to those who produced them. I also had developed a new hobby in sewing as I even opted to make some of my own clothing here and there. It was an incredible experience and I know I will never go back to just buying the most cost efficient (for me) shirt I can find.

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So that brings me here. 2013. I thought about this year’s resolution for quite some time, as I wanted an equally practical and spiritual challenge. I am once again intimidated by this year’s challenge, as it requires a daily commitment. But I am also excited and inspired by it. So this year, I am going to attempt to do a photo challenge called

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My resolution is to take at least one photo every single day that represents something I am thankful for. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this resolution. First of all, I don’t exactly pride myself on my photography skills (if you could even call them that). But like many other things, I know that learning good photography requires time, experience, and experimentation. It is something I enjoy and am definitely interested in learning more about, so I made a resolution that forces me to use my camera. Second of all, I chose this resolution because I’ve come to realize that the majority of my prayer time with God is spent asking. I want to take the moments to quiet my mind and just praise God for his faithfulness. Photographing, editing, and writing about these things that I am thankful for will hopefully give me that time to simply thank Jesus.

I have decided to keep myself accountable for this resolution by posting my photos on here. I have created a page under the ABOUT section that is specifically designated for this challenge. I will update it as frequently as I can with the photographs I have captured.

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I can’t wait to see what I learn from this year’s resolution. It is such a blessing to be able to challenge ourselves to grow and evolve and learn. I know there are great things in store for all of us in the year ahead. Bring it on, 2013.

What are your resolutions? What have some of your past resolutions been?

Happy New Year, everyone. May you experience joy in new ways in this year ahead!

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Weekly Round-Up: Past, Present, and Future

It’s been a while since I have posted a Weekly Round-Up. I can’t deny that I have been a pretty bad blogger these past few months. School, friends, church, work…life has caught up with me and sadly my blogging hasn’t been a part of it. But you can bet that I’ve been hoarding instagram photos for months on end so I have finally decided to share some.

These past few months have been chaotic. Crazy actually. But they’ve also been incredible! I am so blessed with some of the world’s most fabulous people in my life who help me get through each day with a smile on my face. These photos are just a tiny peak into the large and small moments that have kept me sane in the past little while.

ONE: A photo taken on my iPhone of an iPhone taking a picture of an iPone taking a picture of a cowboy and some pretty ladies. Still with me? TWO: My kitty was pretty sick for a few weeks but she is starting to look and feel much better! THREE: I officially started a Paper Crane Project. I hope to talk about it in more detail at a later point. FOUR: I baked peanut butter lattice brownies for the first time. And even more exciting–I got to share them with my friends! FIVE: On our walk, my friend pointed out this pattern left on the sidewalk from the decaying leaves. We took a moment to mourn autumn. SIX: I finished knitting my first scarf of the season! I used this pattern that I posted on here last winter. SEVEN: I found a handful of old half-finished drawings in my desk. So many flowers… EIGHT: I recently came across this passage again and was reminded of how encouraging God’s promises are. NINE: I am knee-deep in a series of receipt prints. I cannot wait to just be finished already! TEN: One of my best friends is getting married so I got to accompany her to the wedding dress store to choose her dress. I got to practice my MOH duties by helping her get into the dresses. And yes, she said yes to a dress!

The seasons are changing (in more way that one) and I’m excited for what’s up next. Who’s excited to ditch their light jackets and scarecrow decorations for hot cocoa, ice skates, and nights spent laughing around the fireplace?

Happy November 15th, friends!

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Soft, Sweet, and Cinnamon-y: French Toast Cupcakes

I am addicted to sugar. Yes, I like my fair share of white sugar, brown sugar, and certainly icing sugar. But one of my absolute favourite ways to enjoy the sweetness is through delicious maple syrup. Sometimes, I only make pancakes or french toast because I’m craving syrup (I don’t actually really like pancakes that much). I have been on a three day break from school, so I decided to spend my last full day off baking up a storm and experimenting with tasty flavours.

I whipped up a fairly classic cupcake recipe, but substituted maple extract for the vanilla extract. This gave a faint maple flavour. I also made some streusel to give the cupcakes a little bit of crunch. They baked quite nicely, coming out fairly light and very soft. They tasted so delicious on their own that I ended up snacking on a few before I even got around to adding the maple syrup buttercream. Beware: they are addictive.

When the cupcakes were cooled, I topped each with a swirl of maple syrup buttercream. I was unfortunately out of pure maple syrup, but I made do with a little maple extract and butter-flavoured table syrup. I then sprinkled each with a cinnamon-sugar mixture to add a special touch. The finished cupcakes were soft, sweet, and slightly crunchy–all the good things about french toast.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Begin by making the streusel. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Using a fork, break up the cubes of butter until they resemble small crumbs. If needed, rub the butter between your fingers to break it up even smaller. Place the streusel in the fridge while you make the cupcakes.

Cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in the maple extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the wet mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of flour mixture, 2 additions of milk). Mix only until incorporated. Divide evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle a generous amount of the streusel on top of each cupcake. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. It will make approximately 12 cupcakes.

For the maple buttercream, cream 1/2 cup of softened butter with 1 3/4 cups of icing sugar. Add a tablespoon of milk, two tablespoons of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add additional milk or syrup to taste. Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with your desired tip and top the cooled cupcakes. Combine sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle on top of each.

These cupcakes are so tasty that you will certainly want to eat them for breakfast. But that’s ok because french toast is a breakfast food, right? I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. I hope you are finding every excuse to enjoy something tasty and sweet on these chilly autumn days!

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