Everyday Inspirations

 
 
Dog birthday cake
I know, I'm one of *those* dog people. But seriously, how cute is she?
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{angie}
My puppy turns one today. The switch to adult food makes me a little sad, but she is definitely a lot easier to handle than when she was a teeny tiny pup. She is the sweetest, smartest, most playful girl I could ask for. After a day full of cake, tutus, running, playing, treats, a photo shoot, and plenty of love, I think she had a wonderful birthday.

Since it is her first birthday, I thought she deserved a cake of her very own. So I baked up a confection (if you can call it that without sugar) made of two of her favorite human foods to beg for -- bananas and peanut butter. Using just dog-friendly ingredients means it's not very sweet (though entirely edible by humans if you wanted...) but it certainly got Daisy's seal of approval.

{Banana Peanut Butter Dog Cake}

Dog-friendly cake recipe
A partially loved cake.
Ingredients
For the cake:
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup oat flour (you can use whole wheat, though many dogs have wheat allergies)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, blend banana, peanut butter, eggs, water and honey until smooth. Add all dry ingredients and mix until a thick batter is made. Grease a small baking dish (I made a mini cake but you could double or triple the recipe for a full size) and bake for 30 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cool.

For the frosting:
Whip cream cheese, honey and vanilla and spread on cooled cake.

Bone appetite!

 
 

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{ash}

Since I was already up and puttering around the house this morning, I decided to make some biscuits. I've been craving biscuits for a few days now, and this was the perfect recipe. I love it because it's made from basic ingredients you almost always have on hand: flour, sugar, butter, milk. Don't you hate it when you find a killer breakfast recipe, but then it has one random ingredient that no one has in the house?

{butter me up biscuits}
Makes about 8 large biscuits

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold cubed butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients together and add your cold butter to the mixture. Using a fork (or pasty masher thing, if you are fancy--which I obviously am not), mash the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is about the size of peas.
3. Mix in your milk (hands are best for this, but don't over-mix or you'll warm the butter, which does not make flaky biscuits). Start with 1/3 of a cup and add more if necessary. You want a somewhat sticky dough. (The floured surface will take away the stickiness.)
4. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times to bring everything together into a ball. Your dough shouldn't be sticky anymore. Flour a rolling pin and roll out to desired thickness (I like about 1/4").
5. Cut biscuits (I like to use the rim of a regular drinking glass). Arrange on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned. Rub a little butter on top and add some honey or your favorite preserves.
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Honey bear seal of approval.
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cherry custard
{angie}
I bought this big old bag of cherries and my hubby and I simple couldn't eat them all casually eating them. So, lest they go bad, I decided I needed to make a cherry delicious dessert! I just sort of winged it with what we had in the cupboard, but it turned out incredible. Enjoy!

{Cherry Custard Pie}

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They are so pretty -- couldn't let them go to waste.
Ingredients
For the crust:

4 graham crackers
1 1/2 tablespoons Nutella
1 teaspoon butter

For the custard:
2 eggs
2/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
a couple cherries from the cherry mixture

For the cherries:
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced in half
1 2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoon wine

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Directions 
Grind the graham crackers in a food processor or by hand (I used my Magic Bullet). Melt Nutella and butter and mix with graham cracker crumbs. Press into 4 small oven-safe containers (ramekins would be perfect). Reserve a few crumbs to sprinkle on top.

For the custard, beat eggs until fluffy, then mix in the yogurt, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and cherries until blended. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Mix cherries with sugar and wine and saute in a pan on high until caramelized. 

Put cherries on top of crust and pour custard over the top. Sprinkle extra crumbs on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Chill and serve.

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{ash}

Well hello! I know I've been MIA for awhile now. I was out of town last week on business and pleasure (see Exhibit 1, above) and, honestly, I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Even though I was only off by two hours, I have been going, going, going for days, and my body is only now bouncing back. In fact, I crashed at 7:30 the other night. I can't remember the last time I did that.

I have so many things to share with you guys: my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (and my first time to Orlando), all about an amazing book I couldn't put down.... Plus, it's nearly Memorial Day weekend, which means the start of summer. Can you believe it's almost June?
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My skating girls, from left to right: Amy, me, Haley and Alyssa
{angie}
Goodbyes are sometimes bittersweet. I just had to see off my dear friend Haley as she moves off to New York to grasp her dreams. Bitter because, well, she will no longer live half a mile away so sipping wine and doing crafts just won't be quite as easy from 2,000 miles away. Sweet because I am so proud of her for taking a leap and taking a great job she deserves. 

For the last couple years, Haley has been in law school and with her ambitions involving many opportunities out of state (or country), we all knew her leaving was inevitable. So this talented girl graduates and literally missed the call where she was offered the job as she walked across the stage to accept her diploma. If that's not fate telling her to take it, I don't know what is. 

We skated together as teenagers and stayed in touch through college, but I think our friendship really has been enriched in the last couple years since she moved back to Utah. Between her witty, sarcastic sense of humor and her mutual love of learning, cooking, Twitter (@hales5), blogging, crafting, and let's not forget bedazzling, we were destined to be close. We were good friends in high school, but I'm so glad we have had the last few years to really let our friendship steep to the level it is now. 

She truly inspires me with her many talents and her determination to live her passions. While I will miss seeing her all the time (this is the part where I have to take a deep breath to keep from tearing up...again), I'm so truly proud of this amazing woman. And I'm not going to let it feel like goodbye -- between Facebook, Twitter and our new obsession with Words with Friends, I'm hoping it will feel like she is still just down the street. Love you Haley and so happy for you.  
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{angie}
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Had a good girls' night last night, snuggled with my husband and puppy and enjoyed a fantastic margarita. If it was going to end, at least it would end well. But now it turns out we all survived the rapture (if it was at 6pm local time that is) which is a good thing because while I had a good day, don't think I would have chosen to spend it working. Plus, now I can actually have a date night with my husband and hopefully see Pirates of the Caribbean. So alas not the end of the world as we know it, but I still feel fine. 
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{ash}

An oatmeal fan through and through, I tried and fell in love with muesli early last summer. I thought the dish seemed difficult, but it's really quite simple: it's basically oats and granola that are soaked in water instead of cooked on the stove. With a little help from Ina Garten (AKA The Barefoot Contessa), I learned the basic rules for this dish and then went to town. I love that muesli is so good for you -- oats, organic granola, fresh fruit, nuts... who can complain?

{easy muesli}
For 2
- 2/3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
- 2/3 cup hot tap water
- 4 tablespoons good organic granola (I used cinnamon and raisin granola, which gave the dish great flavor)
- Fruit of your choice (Ina recommends fresh, but I defrosted raspberries and blueberries and they were still excellent; we also used a crisp green apple)
- Toasted nuts (I used slivered almonds -- then threw in some toasted coconut I had on hand)
- Kosher salt
- Dash of sugar
- Greek yogurt

1. Add the oats, granola, nuts, and a pinch of kosher salt to a bowl. Pour the water over the top and let the dry ingredients start soaking in the liquid (note that the oats to water ratio is 1:1; adjust as needed). Use the hottest water you can get from your tap -- nothing crazy. Let the dry ingredients soak 12-15 minutes.

2. While the dry ingredients are soaking, place the fruit in a separte bowl and add a dash of sugar, if desired. You definitely don't have to add sugar, but it will start to draw the juices out of the fruit.

3. Combine ingredients. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt on top if that's your sorta thing (it's not mine, but Dan loves it). Enjoy.
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ice rink
It make look icy cold to you, but this is one of the most comforting sights for me.
{angie}
I've been thinking about skating a lot lately. Why? Because as I get older and older, this hobby, nay, lifestyle I took on at age six seems harder and harder to fit into my life. I am overly busy, yet I still find myself making time for this sport, no matter how inconvenient it is to fit around my schedule. With the way it has completely shaped who I am, I just can't bear to give it up. Even beyond the fact that it lead me to some of the most amazing friends, has given me almost two decades of regular exercise, and has provided me with incredible opportunities, skating has taught me so many life lessons that relate to lots other areas of my life. So here's to the rink -- my home, my gym, my playground, my meeting place, my mentor. 

1. When you fall, get back up and try it again. 

2. Perfection is unrealistic, but is something you should always strive for.  

3. Take competition seriously, but don't let it ruin your day.

4. Set big goals so you have a place to aim.

5. A big, cheeseball smile goes a long way. Fake it until you make it.

6. The best results come when your blades are sharp.

7.  Always warm up and stretch.

8. When you're having an "off" day, sometimes it's best to just walk away and try again tomorrow.

9. Most of your obstacles or inabilities are a mental game. Success or failure -- it's all in your head.

10. There is nothing more rewarding than facing huge challenges, working your tail off and performing your best followed by a big round of applause. 
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{ash}
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