Tasty Tuesday: Pink Flamingo Cake

""

This YUMMY recipe came across my Facebook page some time ago.  When the NEW Flamingo prints with Thirty One arrived this Spring (yes, it is Spring at Thirty One), it seemed the perfect time to share it…

Thank you Delish for today’s recipe….

If the name didn’t hook you, the hot pink, amazing-tasting cake itself will. But really, pink flamingo cake, how could anyone resist it??  This fun, fruity feast looks great and tastes even better! It gets the majority of its flavor and color from cherries, both maraschino cherries and cherry jello, with a touch of pineapple in the frosting to round out the overall flavor and bring a little more brightness to the dish.

Think of the fun everyone will have when they cut into the cake, thinking it will be an average vanilla or chocolate, BUT find a bright PINK interior.  This is a nice, simple recipe anyone can tackle – even the kids!  Flamingo cake could become one of YOUR summer go-tos.

Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes to prepare     Serves: 12-16

INGREDIENTS

Cake:
1 (15.25 oz.) package white cake mix
1 (3.5 oz.) cherry jello mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting:
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple
1 (3.4 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (16 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (8 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, halved, juices reserved

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, beat cherry jello mix, vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract into white cake mix until just combined, then pour into greased baking dish.
  3. Place baking dish in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Place crushed pineapple, with juices, and halved cherries in a large bowl and sprinkle pudding mix on top.
  6. Fold in frozen whipped topping and 1/4 cup cherry juice until smooth and combined, adding more cherry juice, if desired.
  7. Frost (cooled) cake and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until set.

Take your flamingo cake on the road in Thirty One’s Perfect Party Set! The Perfect Party Set expands to hold two 9” x 13” casserole pans inside 2 interior water-resistant thermal compartments. Handle grips make it easy to carry, while the exterior zipper pocket can keep additional items like utensils, baking instructions and additional ingredients secure during transport. It’s the most convenient way to take your favorite casseroles, desserts, appetizers and more to your next family picnic, neighborhood cookout, celebration or camping trip!

Have a recipe you want to share?  Send it to me and if I share it in my blog, you will receive a FREE gift!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day1

Fear Has a Really Big Mouth!

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

I often try to quiet fear by pretending it doesn’t exist. Clever… I know. But alas, it does exist and that’s not always a bad thing. To the contrary, it can actually keep us safe in proper context. When my house was struck by lightning and lit with fire, fear sounded an emotional alarm, insisting that I escape – and fast. In this instance, fear was good. It kept me safe.

In many instances, however, fear is not good.

I’ve found that while it’s natural to be afraid at times – human, even – it’s best to not allow feelings of fear to consume and control large spaces of real estate in my heart. David handles the intersection of his fear and faith nicely.

In Psalm 56, captured by the Philistines in Gath, and in Psalm 57, hiding in a cave to escape the pursuit of Saul, David sifted through honest feelings of vulnerability and desperation. I imagine his reality was one of shaky hands, pulse raging wild and brows soaked in sweat. Yet fear was silenced as he made the powerful decision to redirect his emotions toward a more productive, more faith-filled response when David chose to trust God.

By choosing to trust God in the hiding and in the chains, David’s fear shifted to faith.

Faith shuts the mouth of fear.

“When I am afraid, I will trust you.” (Psalm 56:3, CSB)

“You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9, CSB)

These weren’t just flippant statements or memorized verses.

These were sturdy declarations.

Deliberate choices made by a deeply determined worshiper. The kind of choices that change and calm a frantic heart. The kind of choices that speak peace to anxiousness. The kind of choices we can make when we’re afraid. The kind of choice we can make when fear screams loud within.

Bring it.

Fear is a liar.

We can choose faith, knowing God is for us.

Decision made.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#TBT: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I can hardly believe it has been 6 years since I started this blog.  For those of you who don’t know, it was started as a result of a challenge by Vanessa Coppes as a way to grow my business.

For those of you who have ever thought about blogging – do it!  It hasn’t just been good for my business but it has been good for my soul.  Sharing my strength, hope and experience with others has been amazing.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my when it comes to blogging since my MS plays havoc on processing thoughts BUT I will continue in some way!

So, as I celebrate heading into year number 7, here is a throwback to my very first post:

I wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

I was a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things I had when I was growing up and give my daughter, Belinda, more. Isn’t it every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  We lived in a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area with a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to change to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

It was then, the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker who loves working with troubled kids (she now works for the State helping disabled individuals). As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park which as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talked about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t head in that direction. 

Many believe if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent and confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Since signing up to be a part of the Family Wellness & Beauty Day for Kickin’ It Kids AntiBullying, God has pressed on my heart to share this story. 

I know this was a a LONG post but it will always be a part of my story.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#MSWillNotDefeatMe


Over the last month, I have reconnected with people I haven’t seen in years (27 years for one)…. It should be a time for excitement as we reminisce about past adventures, unfortunately, it has been a struggle.  I’ve shared my diagnosis and the most devastating part is not being able to remember….

When they ask “What’s it like living with MS?” Uhm…there’s just not a simple answer.  To those who don’t see me every day, they don’t know the subtle changes taking place.  They figure all must be well since I am still walking.  I mean isn’t MS all about not being able to walk and constant pain?  The truth is there is so much more to it….

When I try to describe the occasional physical and daily mental difficulties I experience because of MS, it is often met with some interesting responses. They have stemmed from “eat healthier”, to “eat more potassium” for the spasms in my legs, to try those pills on TV to help with memory, to “take B12” for the exhaustion. When I explain, I do some of those things already but they simply don’t work, They look at me like I have 12 heads!   After all, it works for them so it should for me too.

Some people just don’t seem to understand that those of us living with MS aren’t like them. We have a damaged Central Nervous System and our immune system is in chaos causing our own body to attack us. Some of the damaged areas to our nerves have healed well over time but some haven’t and new damage appears all the time.

The exhaustion I experience isn’t always because I didn’t sleep well the night before or because we aren’t eating nutritionally. It’s a debilitating symptom which isn’t always remedied with natural herbs and better sleep. Those things can help, but it’s not a “fix”. Catch me between 1PM – 3PM and you might find me falling asleep mid-sentence.

The loss of memory is something i will have to live with FOREVER!  Some things come back – you know those random things – but maybe only a snapshot instead of the whole movie.  LOL.  I’m learning to be honest about it and thankfully most people understand.

A trip to the mall is exhausting!  Some days just making my way across the parking lot of the grocery store presents a challenge.  When I am with my mom I always say, I wish I could walk as fast as she does at 82!

Through it all, I have learned to look this disease of MS square in the eyes and say, “I am not defeated because of you and regardless of what happens in life I am thankful for each new day I am given.”  A friend said to me recently, “God has a plan for you through all of this, just remain faithful”.  My recovery and working the steps has helped tremendously with this process.  I am turning things over and waiting for God to tell me what to do!

We will never understand all the why’s in life. Why MS? Why now? Why me?

No matter what the storm is you are going through; face it and be determined to be thankful as you go through it. Yes, it is possible to be thankful even in the most horrible of circumstances, but it’s a choice; and you have it within you to make the choice. You can stand up (even if only on the inside) and say, “I refuse to be defeated by MS (or whatever storm you are experiencing).”

Strength isn’t measured by the amount of things I can do or by how big my muscles are, it’s determined by the attitude I have while going through the difficult times in life. You are doing it. You are making it. Square your shoulders back and hold your head up high today because you are STRONG even though your body is weak!

This is MS Awareness Month and his has been my mantra lately.  I’ve had more days then I can count where the reality of MS has hit me. From struggling to walk with an ache in my legs, to brain fog which never seems to end to not be able to process thoughts, words or sentences.  God has placed loving people in my life who help me through the struggles.  It is his plan and even though some days I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel…. I will hold onto my faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Tasty Tuesday: Wicked Good Spices Vegetarian Chili

Today’s recipe is from my friend Rachel at Wicked Good Spice Mixes Co.  I was introduced to their amazing products at the Brick Farmer’s Market about two years ago.  Their spot was a must every week.  From flavored vinegar to organic olive oil to spice mixes.  The best part is they have a multitude of uses for some of their products.  Who would have ever thought of using flavored vinegar in seltzer water for a refreshing drink?

I made this YUMMY recipe this week.   I will admit, I had a brain fog MS day and despite having the directions in front of me I forgot the spaghetti squash, and the tomato paste BUT the end result was still delicious!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash; sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash (peeled & diced)
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 each of diced orange, yellow, and red bell pepper
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, diced
  • 4 tablespoons of wicked good wild canyon pepper blend/ or pigs can fly blend (add more spice if you like more heat)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 24oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  2. Add onions and garlic.  Saute
  3. Add bell peppers, sweet potato and squash. Sauté until soft
  4. Add wicked good spices wild canyon pepper blend or pigs can fly. Mix thoroughly
  5. Add corn, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste
  6. Stir to blend
  7. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender
The main reason the company was started was to show people how easy, healthy and fun it can be to make a delicious meal at home!  Rachel always thought the hardest thing about cooking is how much of this spice and how much of that spice you should add.  So go ahead and throw all of those spices you use infrequently and start using our spice blends! They are fresh and economical!  Our blends are perfectly formulated to use for just about everything you like to cook.

The farmer’s market may be closed until the end of May BUT you can get these awesome products at the following locations:

Berry Fresh Farms, 151 Brick Blvd, Brick NJ 08723  (732)477-0606

Cream Ridge Winery, 145 Route 539 (PO Box 98), Cream Ridge, NJ 08514 (609) 259-9797

Dearborn Farm Market, 2170 Rt 35, Holmdel, NJ 07733  (732)264-0256

From The Garden, 353 Fairfield Road, Freehold NJ 07728 (732)866-1745

Cedar Post Farm and Garden Center, 147 NJ Route 70,  Lakehurst,NJ 08753 (732)270-8833

Delicious Orchards, 320 Route 34, Colts Neck, NJ  (732) 462-1989

New Egypt Marketplace, 53 Main Street, New Egypt, NJ 08533 (609) 458-7900

The Lusty Lobster, 88 Bay Ave. Highlands, NJ 07732 (732) 291-1548

Twin Ponds, Rt 9 Howell, NJ 07731

Lovelandtown Grocery and Provisions, 219 Bridge Ave, Point Pleasant,NJ 08742  (732)903-6855
Princes Farm Market , 1123 Mountain Ave, Mountainside, NJ 07092
(908)358-3311
Have a great recipe you want to share?  We would love to feature YOU!  If you try this, let us know what you think…
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!