At-Home Ladies Paint Nights

Red Dress
“Girl got Booty!”

I have so much to share with you but have been very busy teaching classes.  I was asked to take on some additional courses this term which has me busier than usual.  However, I still make time for my family and fun activities.

The most recent activity I decided to complete was a painting on canvas.  My daughter was given a neat painting set for Christmas but hasn’t broken it in, so I decided to be the first one to do so.  Since I have never painted at home without being guided (like in community PaintNite classes), I decided to consult YouTube.  Did you know there are tons of painting instructions on YouTube?  You can even have a fun Ladies night at home by choosing one of the great step-by-step options on any one of the many channels.

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Start to Finish

 

I decided to paint “Lady with Black Umbrella, Acrylic Painting“ by Acrylic Painting Techniques.  The YouTube channel link is below.  I know mine isn’t as dynamic as hers; however, I really like the end result.  My lady seems to have more “junk in the trunk” but I actually like that better anyway.  I call her “Girl got Booty!”  I think she is authentic and powerful in that red dress!

Lady with Black Umbrella, Acrylic Painting

Peace and Happiness,

Mel

Kauai, Hawaii – The Views and Colors

Visiting the State of Hawaii has always been on my bucket list.  I’ve been to many beautiful beaches, like St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and many places in Florida.  Although, Hawaii was always on my mind but out of reach for various reasons.  Recently, Micah and I were able to visit Kauai.  Before going, I learned Kauai was one of many islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago. In fact, Sprout & Sprout (2010) mention in the center of the Pacific Ocean, “is the Hawaiian Archipelago, some 132 islands strung in line for about 1,600 miles, all part of the State of Hawaii” p. 8.  As far as populated places, Kauai is the northernmost of all those.

Kauai Banner

I would love to share with you some of our wonderful visits on this lovely island, which is why I took a lot of pictures.  From the moment we flew into Lihue Airport, the air was fresh and temperature mild, which was perfect after leaving 0 to 10 degree temperatures in Alaska.  I bet the beauty of the island erased at least one wrinkle formed from years of contemplation and hard work.

For starters, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wailua Bay (on the eastern side of the island.) It was a pretty place with an open-air lobby and restaurant.  I really liked it!  We never did swim at the hotel because it rained for several days. However, they apparently had two pools and a hot tub.  When the rain cleared, we figured it a better use of time to go snorkeling.  Micah and went snorkeling on a Poipu Beach beside a restaurant where we had a light lunch and a fancy cocktail.   It was a lovely day and we did see some colorful, unique fish.

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Hilton Garden Inn Lobby
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Hilton Garden Inn Lobby Restaurant
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Hilton Garden Inn Front Desk
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There are Roosters and Chickens everywhere on this island.
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Our hang out behind the restaurant…
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Snorkeling Images
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Snorkeling Images
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Snorkeling Images
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Snorkeling Images

Furthermore, there were many beautiful scenes and pull off areas.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of all these places but all of these are easily accessible from the main road.  The main roadway where the tourists travel have many areas to stop, get out, and enjoy the scenery.  Although, one of my favorite places on the island was the beautiful, breath-taking Waimea Canyon Lookout.

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Micah, do you know you have some beautiful water behind you?
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Yes, I am enjoying the scenery. Life is good!
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A cave beside the beach

 

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Where is David Hasselhoff?
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Exposed Roots… Sorry, Alice Merton, there are roots- literally and figuratively.

 

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Waimea Canyon
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Waimea Canyon
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Waimea Canyon Rainbow

All-in-all, this was a great visit, regardless of work (Micah and I had to work some) and the rain.  Micah worked (at a conference) at the Grand Hyatt Poipu, which was a resort quality hotel.  It was absolutely fantastic too even though I didn’t spend much time there.

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Grand Hyatt – Day and Night – Photos taken by Micah
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Grand Hyatt

I feel so lucky to have been able to go on the trip and see a place that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  I hope you enjoyed the images of this beautiful place.

Hugs and Happiness,

Mel

Reference:

Sprout, J. & Sprout, J. (2010). Kauai trailblazer. Kilauea, HI: Diamond Valley Company Publishers.

Oppression and Abuse: The Handmaid’s Tale

As you know from a previous post on the Netflix series, Mindhunter, I enjoy watching captivating television shows.  Since I reference true life news features, television series, documentaries, and music in my classroom lectures, I consider this another part of my academic preparation.  (I know this may be a stretch for some to consider.  However, most of my sociological classes feature a lecture or two on the media because of its presence in our culture.)

Thus, I decided to watch and analyze, The Handmaid’s Tale.  It is a series based on a novel by Margaret Atwood and is featured on Hulu. I never read the novel, have not read any reviews of the series, and did not talk to anyone about it prior to watching.  Therefore, my discovery of the show was completely unbiased.  I had no idea what to expect. Currently, on episode 9, I have already learned that this society is a male-dominated, state-ran society. Women have no rights whatsoever. The society is more oppressive for women than a 1950s American patriarchal family.  Also, homophobia is rampant.  Homosexuality is not considered acceptable because of religious reasons and because no conception can occur from a relationship between same-sex partners.  In the series, immediately before the change of the formerly known America into this totalitarian society called Gilead, there was a dying society due to a low birth rate.

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Due to this, some men formed secret societies and decided to make a change by controlling women and eliminating homosexual relationships.  They rounded up all women of child-bearing age to serve (have sexual intercourse with) wealthy, powerful men.  This takes place in front of their wives to make it less intimidating for the wife to eventually (hopefully) end in pregnancy. This would repopulate the new society and supposedly meet their religious guidelines. The handmaids are also at the mercy and control of the wives.  While watching this Hulu Original, I began thinking about this society through a few different lenses typically discussed in “Introduction to Sociology” courses:

  • Gender Relations
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • and, Socioeconomic Status.

Gender Relations: For starters, at one point in time, women could not vote in America.  The women’s suffrage movement was a long battle for women to gain the right to vote, and finally have a voice, which eventually did happen (as we know.)  Many younger generations of women do not realize how much of a struggle this was for women to gain access to the political arena by having a voice.  Also, at one point in history, it was acceptable for a husband to deem his wife insane and have her committed to life in an asylum.  There were numerous reasons for this but pretty much any time a husband was not pleased with his wife, he could have her committed.  In fact, Pouba & Tianen (2006) state, “Between the years of 1850-1900, women were placed in mental institutions for behaving in ways that male society did not agree with” (p. 1). So, is the society of Gilead so far-fetched that it could never exist? No, it isn’t. In fact, there were some elements that have already existed if you take time to read history.

Sexual Orientation: As far as sexual orientation, gays and lesbians in this world known as Gilead are ostracized and deemed unfit for society.  One of the child-bearing females was in a lesbian relationship before being captured to serve as a handmaid.  When some of the leaders in this society realized the woman was spending too much time with another handmaid, and was previously in a lesbian relationship, they performed a female circumcision on her so she would never experience pleasure again. While this ritual is still performed in some parts of Africa and Asia (often without anesthesia) based on culture and religion, it has never been a part of American culture.  Although, some immigrants from other countries who live in America may see this as normal (Burstyn, 1995).  I may be somewhat ethnocentric about this, but I don’t see where female mutilation should ever take place.  It is inhumane and abusive. In fact, there have been social activists in America and other countries fighting to end this physical and psychological trauma so my opinions are not an outlier.

Therefore, considering all of the above aforementioned elements, are humans capable of forcing sexual choices on another human being?  Of course, we know this has happened.  If you pull out your Nazi Germany history facts, you’ll remember gay men and lesbians were banned and were also victims of the Nazi regime (Introduction to, n.d.).  Also, it wasn’t too long ago that homosexuals were abused, battered, or even murdered. In fact, only recently has same-sex marriages been legalized in the United States to the disgust of some religious followers.

Religion: Oddly enough, religion is supposed to be the backbone of every action in Gilead.  However, the lure of lust and sexual freedoms are still present in this society.  On one episode, the main character Offred, was secretly led from her home by her owner, Fred Waterford, to an underworld society similar to a brothel.  Thus, the guise of religion being of utmost importance was certainly not genuine.  Without going into too much detail pertaining to this scene, not only were the men not confined to sexual intercourse with their assigned handmaids, but they were also obviously not being loyal with their wives either. In another scene, one of the leaders was literally identified by his handmaid as requiring her to perform in sexual ways that were not outlined in the religious foundations. He called her a liar even though she was telling the truth.  Regardless of your religious preferences, you can appreciate the fact that no one is perfect and we all have the ability to sin.  However, these abusive, beyond command-and-control leaders were being hypocritical just like some are in current-day America.  This year, an Indianapolis Youth Pastor was arrested for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl and possessing child pornography (Sanctorum, 2018). Last year, an Indiana Pastor was charged with child molestation, child solicitation, and sexual battery (Miller, 2017).  Obviously, this is not an occurrence in every religious institution but it does happen.  It happens so much that a google search is limitless.  Religion is a major agent of socialization in America and has the potential to impact our decisions, ideas, and how we raise future generations. It is a powerful force.

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Socioeconomic Status: Another important part of our society, and the Gilead society, is socioeconomic status.  In sociology, we discuss how the education system, the political system, and healthcare, as well as other institutions have problems with equality between the haves (those with a lot of economic wealth) and the have nots (those without economic wealth).  In Gilead, this is true with a division among the people based on wealth. This section does not even warrant an explanation on when, how, and if this occurs.  This divide is so rampant it does not require lengthy explanations.

In the end, The Handmaid’s Tale is fiction and is not based on an actual society. However, it can be quite scary when you realize the many elements that mimic those in our society especially those that are oppressive and abusive.  I recommend budding leadership students and sociologists watch this series and analyze.  It can be quite eye-opening and sometimes has elements that are too close for comfort.

 

Sincerely,

Mel

References:

Burstyn, L. (1995, October). Female circumcision comes to America. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1995/10/female-circumcision-comes-to-america/306051/

Introduction to the holocaust. (n.d.). In United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved from https://www.ushmm.org/learn/introduction-to-the-holocaust

Miller, J. R. (2017, October 19). Pastor allegedly molested girls after luring them with candy. New York post. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2017/10/19/pastor-allegedly-molested-girls-after-luring-them-with-candy/

Pouba, K. & Tianen, A. (2006, April).  Lunacy in the 19th century: Women’s admission to asylums in United States of America. Oshkosh Scholar, 1, 95-103.

Sanctorum, M. (2018, February 15). Former youth pastor charged with child exploitation, possessing child porn. WishTV.com. Retrieved from http://wishtv.com/2018/02/15/former-youth-pastor-charged-with-child-exploirtation-possessing-child-porn/

Image Locations (in order):

https://pixabay.com/en/sunset-silhouette-evening-dusk-3087474/

https://pixabay.com/en/cross-religion-gold-glass-block-3183635/

A Personal Account: Emotional Support Animals aren’t Bull—-!

As you know from reading my blog, my daughter has an ASD, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Originally, her diagnosis was Asperger’s Disorder but back in 2013 this diagnosis *poof* disappeared from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is THE BOOK of disorder identification (Sole-Smith, 2014). This manual had many changes listed in that newest edition (Sole-Smith, 2014).  Either way, she still displays difficulties in understanding how to respond in some social interactions and has sensory issues, regardless of what you call it.

Recently, we went on a trip home to visit family.  I was very hesitant because of my last flying experience with her.  In 2016, we flew from Georgia to Anchorage.  This travel day ended up being about 14 hours.  As you can imagine, this is a tough travel day for anyone.  However, with my daughter’s sensory issues, it was horrendous.  She wiggled, squirmed, made howling noises, and was pulling my arms in agony.  I think I ended up with a few scratches and small bruises at the end of it all. (She wasn’t intentionally trying to do this, but flying is hard for her.)  The reason for her agony was the pressure in her ears and the confinement to our seats for such a long period.  I know what you may be thinking.  She was a young teenager!  How can this be?  Children with an ASD can sometimes act younger than their actual chronological age.  This causes problems with the general population because a younger child acting like this doesn’t get near the nasty stares and comments as a child who appears much older.  It is simply a much harsher world, most of the time, when an older person has a non-visible disability.  People do not understand .

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We love Alaska Airlines.
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These two are best friends.

Fast forward to our recent flying experience… I must admit that I was a little nervous.  However, our miniature schnauzer, McKinley, flew with us as an Emotional Support Dog.  (We bought her after our last flying encounter.)  There has been so much controversy about this lately that I felt I must talk about this on a personal level instead of simply offering profuse apologies. I think a better angle is to offer our story. I know some of the controversy exists about animals being on planes for people without disabilities AND the potential of these animals causing allergic reactions to other passengers. However, the scrutiny seems to be growing against anyone associated with an animal while traveling.

We were met with angry glances, rude comments, and whispers.  In fact, this very rude gentleman man in first class said something after my daughter and I walked on the plane early.  (This is another way Alaska Airlines helped calm her fears, by letting her board early.)  This man was already boarded when we walked to the back of the plane in coach.  My son overheard him saying, “I can’t believe they were able to board early.  This emotional support animal stuff is bull—-.” His comment was out of line.  My initial thoughts were to find this man and tell him the difference it has made for my daughter.  However, my son said, “mom, it isn’t worth it.”

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How can you be mean to this adorable little animal?

Therefore, let me share with you how big a difference this little, sweet animal (who is also hypoallergenic naturally) has been for my daughter.  My daughter loves her emotional support/service animal.  McKinley’s presence is very calming. My daughter is so concerned for McKinley’s well-being, that she doesn’t act inappropriately on the plane, even though she is stressed.  McKinley literally sat in my lap (with my daughter petting her) or she sat on her lap.  For our trip, all of McKinley’s needs were in order: shot records, rabies shots, a doctor’s short letter on prescription pad specifying her emotional support, and  carrier with food, toys, snacks, etc. We didn’t go unprepared.

My plea for airlines is to realize how much emotional support animals can help people.  Please do not stop allowing this because of a few disgruntled people.   There are several dogs that are hypoallergenic, like our little one.  These animals do not cause allergy issues for others on board.  In fact, Dyck (2013) has a list of hypoallergenic dogs which includes: The Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, some of the Terriers, the Irish Water Spaniel, to name a few. Also, my gratitude to Alaska Airlines is endless. Not only did we arrive in Georgia without incident (by my daughter or by her service animal), but our trip in Georgia with McKinley, was pleasant too.

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Lastly, if you are unaware of how someone is impacted by an ASD, please feel free to check out my references section for more information. Also, if you are in opposition to have animals on board to help people like my daughter, and you have no condition like hers that plagues you every day, shame on you. For someone in that last category, if you don’t think you know much about prejudice and discrimination, you know much more than you can imagine with that attitude. (Please check out a random Introduction to Sociology course from the library and read it.)

Sincerely,

Mel

 

References:

Dyck, A. (2013, October 22). Dogs that don’t shed: 23 hypoallergenic dog breeds. Homes Alive Pets. Retrieved from https://www.homesalive.ca/blog/dogs-that-dont-shed-23-hypoallergenic-dog-breeds/

Sole-Smith, V. (2014). What happened to Asperger’s? Parents. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/health/autism/what-happened-to-aspergers/

Easy to Make Headboard for under $20!

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Since we are making Alaska our temporary home, I decided spending a lot of money on furniture would be a waste.  This is because we aren’t planning on taking very much of what we have here back to the lower 48 when we eventually return. I brainstormed for a while about doing something with our bedroom.  It was so “blah!”  Then, the answer came to me one lovely evening while cleaning up after Christmas.

My mom gave my husband an awesome sled for his gift and that sled came in a huge cardboard box. (You probably know where I am going with this.)  I got the bright idea to stop by a fabric store for backing and fabric and transform that disposable box into a headboard.  Since I love sharing with you all, I want to show step-by-step how I transformed our bed.  This project would be great for anyone living somewhere temporarily who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money for decor.

Items Needed:

Cardboard box

X-Acto Knife

Duct Tape

Fabric of your Choice

Backing

Long Nails

2-4 Decorator Flowers

Hot Glue Gun

 

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First, find a large cardboard box that meets the size headboard you want
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Take an X-Acto and cut two pieces of board the same size to make your headboard sturdy
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Take some duct tape and go around both pieces of cardboard to secure together
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After taping the pieces together, add the backing by also taping it to the cardboard. (One side will not be neat and doesn’t have to be.  It will show all the taped pieces!)
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Make sure to iron your fabric before placement or it will not look neat
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The back of the headboard isn’t very attractive.
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The final product looks neat and most people will have no idea your headboard is a cardboard box! After you nail in the headboard, hot glue two flowers matching your bedspread over the nail heads.  Then, if you have matching pillows, hot glue the other two flowers to your decorative pillows to pull everything together.
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One final view…

Hugs,

Mel

 

Cream Fudge Fat Bombs (Keto, of course)

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I wanted something very chocolatey yesterday and decided to incorporate a few items I had in my cabinets and refrigerator to make some fudge fat bombs. They ended up very delicious but not at all shiny like some I’ve seen before. The taste is excellent though! I have to limit myself to two of these a day because of a pretty serious chocolate addiction. So, here it goes…

Ingredients:
¾ cup natural peanut or almond butter
3 tbsp. Hershey’s powdered cocoa (tastes the best)
½ tsp vanilla
3 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. salted butter
3 tbsp. sour cream
1-2 tbsp. powdered stevia blend of your choice (Swerve is a good brand.)

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This is how thick the appearance of the final product looks before putting in molds.

In a small pan, mix almond butter, Hershey’s cocoa, coconut oil, and salted butter until blended. Then, add sour cream and stir well. Turn off heat and add vanilla and powdered stevia blend. Stir. Add to candy molds and refrigerate until hardened. Makes about 20.

My calculations show these are 16 grams fat each.

Sweet chocolate dreams,
Mel

No, I wasn’t shocked at all…

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As I started logging into my computer this morning for early discussion forum replies to my students, I noticed an interesting article about Brigitte Bardot. It didn’t shock me at all, but did aggravate me enough to make me write about it. You may remember Brigitte was a popular model in the 1950s and 1960s who had that famous gap, which some would argue was quite sexy, between her two front teeth. She was also an actress. The article that caught my attention pertained to her ridicule and opposition in reaction to the #MeToo movement. Wearing my sociological lens today, I decided to talk about this on my website. Why? I think young ladies today deserve to understand this antiquated and irresponsible frame of mind for what it is — ignorant in light of the modern woman’s fight to be taken seriously.

For starters, I think Brigitte is being very irresponsible by spewing her obvious enjoyment of sexual harassment, but then again, I guess we do have this little thing called free speech.  Her sentiments were evident in the article which is referenced at the bottom of this post. Who is she to say #MeToo is “a witch hunt against men” (Nyren, 2018, p. 1)? Obviously, her work history and generation have something to do with her thoughts on this movement. Also, if you have any knowledge of Catherine Hakim’s book, Erotic Capital, you understand why Brigitte feels the way she does. Anyone who made a very comfortable and quite public living based on looks alone has a higher percentage than most at an unrealistic, one-sided view of the world. Combine this with her generation lends evidence to her way of thinking. After all, during her heyday, it was nothing for women to be sexually harassed and reduced to body parts. It is apparent, going back to Catherine Hakim’s controversial thoughts, that she put all of her emphasis in erotic capital (her physical presentation to the world) versus other interests like education. Also, it isn’t her fault she has this misconception of a woman’s primary duty being to satisfy a man. After all, this was how she made her living and likely how she was raised.

In the end, I want to add my two cents to women everywhere that it is okay to demand respect. It is okay to be pretty (however you feel pretty) and be smart. You can demand equality without consideration of physical attributes. In fact, all this nonsense leading up to the #MeToo movement doesn’t exist to bash men. It is quite the opposite and is supposed to generate equality. In fact, I know some great, decent men, but I also know some who are as disgusting as they come. Where does all this disgusting creepy male behavior lead? It leads to women hating women. Isn’t it obvious? We begin feeling threatened by one another and try to outdo the other by being more provocative, sexier, and more outrageous, to that aforementioned disgusting male’s delight.

I don’t know about you, but I much prefer female empowerment and togetherness encouraged through movements like the #MeToo movement. Let us stop competing and start encouraging one another. In fact, realize this, young ladies, it is okay to like other females and not feel threatened and constantly in competition. After all, the competition we feel is typically driven by a male-dominated society pinning one woman’s physical attributes against another. You can be pretty, smart, respectful, and respected in today’s world.

Sincerely,

Mel

References:
Nyren, E. (2018, January 18). Brigitte Bardot slams #MeToo movement as ‘Hypocritical, Ridiculous.’ MSN. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/celebrity/brigitte-bardot-slams-supernumbermetoo-movement-as-%e2%80%98hypocritical-ridiculous%e2%80%99/ar-AAuPSQg?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=SL5DDHP

Keto Strawberry Cake (with Surprise Center)

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While in Georgia, I was able to create a new recipe for Keto Strawberry Cake to take with us to the beach. My sister graciously asked her sweet friend Cherie if we could stay at her Mexico Beach condo for a long weekend get-away while I visited. Thus, I figured having a keto sweet treat in the refrigerator there would be great to avoid temptation. The recipe is listed below. I discovered I will make a few minor adjustments on my new attempt at this recipe but have went ahead and included these for you so your outcome will be optimal.

Keto Strawberry Cake with Surprise Center
Cake:
2 cups almond flour
1 ½ cup coconut flour
½ cup coconut-almond milk
¾ cup of powdered Swerve (or other erythritol confectioner’s sweetener)
¾ cup butter (softened)
7 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ tbsp. baking powder
Strawberry sugar-free gelatin packet 8.5 ounces*
Coffee bean grinder
Three cake pans (or use 2 as detailed below)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 oz. cream cheese (softened)
2 sticks butter (softened)
1 1/3 cup of powdered Swerve (or another brand of confectioner’s erythritol)
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Fresh Raspberries and Strawberries

First, preheat the oven to 350⁰. Next, use a clean coffee bean grinder to grind your almond flour in a soft cake-like flour. (This takes several steps if your grinder is small like mine.) Then, add this cake-like flour to your mixing bowl. Add coconut flour, baking powder, and strawberry gelatin packet to the almond flour. Stir. Then, in another bowl, add Swerve and butter, beat until well mixed. Add eggs, slowly, and blend. Then, add coconut-almond milk along with vanilla extract. Mix well. Then, add your flour mixture, slowly, to the butter bowl. Blend.

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Swerve, butter, and adding eggs slowly

Then, you will want to add 1/3 of cake mix to the three different pans. Bake for approximately 25 minutes (check periodically as oven times vary). If you only have 2 cake pans, you can cook the first two layers and then bake the last pan afterwards.
While the cake layers are baking, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Also, take the warm cake layers out of the pan and place on cooling racks within 5 minutes of taking out of the oven. Plus, if you want a surprise fruit center, as soon as the cake layers are taken out, cut the center out with a small cup by pressing firmly and removing the center from the layer. Allow the layers to cool before frosting. Enjoy!

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My mom had disposable pans and those work just as well.  This is the second bake (the first two layers are already done.)
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Due to the gelatin in the cake mix, the holes from the fork (while checking for doneness), stay behind very clearly.
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This is how small the cup was that I used to make the surprise center.
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The cream cheese frosting is almost ready.

keto strawberry cake
Hugs,
Mel

*If I could have located some stevia sweetened strawberry gelatin, I would have used it. GramZero is one brand that makes this. However, I didn’t visit a store that had this option.

Items to purchase in order to make the cake are listed below:

 

A method to cure the dreaded… Airplane Ear.

It is nice to finally get back to writing even though my Christmas and New Year’s holidays were absolutely amazing.  Since I am not superwoman, it was pretty difficult to find time between visits, travel, and flights to write, even though I had many adventures to share.  This just means I will have much more to share with you in the coming weeks. (Unfortunately, those stories won’t include my visits to family in North Georgia because I did not get to visit them.  I am a disappointed but I hope to make up for this when they visit us next year.  I plan on making everyone’s visit dreamy and fun.  Like Forrest Gump so famously said, “and that is all I have to say about that.”)

On the other hand, somewhere along the way I picked up a nasty cold bug and it traveled with me home.  It is no wonder because everywhere I went people were coughing, blowing noses, and sneezing.  Even I was a little concerned about flying back with nasal congestion because of a trip my mom and I took about ten years ago.  Unbeknownst to me at that time, flying with bad sinus congestion can be quite dangerous.  This is because as you climb higher in altitude and descend to land, your ears (for lack of detail) get quite a workout with all the pressurizing required.  Add congestion to the mix and this can lead to some very painful ear pain as well as blocked eustachian tubes.  How do I know this?  My doctor at the time explained it well.  It was a full week after the blockage began that I decided to see him.  He ended up having to prescribe an antibiotic and a steroid.

Fast forward to today, would I still take an antibiotic and steroid?  Of course, I would if natural remedies didn’t work.  However, I feel very strongly that we should allow our bodies time to work out these issues if at all possible.  Unfortunately, I got the chance to try that philosophy.  My last flight’s descend into Anchorage was the one that did it for me.  It completely blocked both ears after a lot of discomfort even though I took a decongestant before flying, used nasal decongesting spray, and chewed gum like a teenager possessed.  None of these things prevented it from happening; although, I bet they helped prevent my eardrums from rupturing.

airplane ear

If you have ever had airplane ear blockage (this is what I have always called it), you know it is very disorienting. Enter my essential oil training and a little more OTC decongestant to the rescue.  I knew that if I could make it home and look around in my essential oil cabinet, I would be able to find Frankincense, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus.  Essential oils are able to pass through the skin and are also effective at passing through the blood-brain barrier and reaching us internally through the nasal passage.  I knew I wasn’t allergic to any of those oils and put eucalyptus oil on neat (not diluted) around the outside of my ears.  I also added these three to my room diffuser.  Finally, after putting eucalyptus in my kitchen pot and steaming it (my head was carefully over the boiling pot to breathe it in) 2 times a day, for 3 days for 10 minutes, my ears opened up.  (My son happened to have purchased me all three of these oils for Christmas.  He purchased a different brand than my usual Plant Therapy, but the quality is high and thus the brand meets my standards.)  Last, but not least, I am wearing these three oils in my pretty diffuser necklace too. If you have airplane ear, I hope this method works for you too. I have included a link to a company that sells great diffuser necklaces.  They have many different styles.


Plant Therapy Essential Oils

Sincerely,

Mel

New Year’s Eve and South Georgia Snow

We recently left Alaska to visit our family in Georgia.  Fortunately, the flight was pleasant with no hiccups, which was a possibility because of my travel companions.  Our miniature schnauzer and daughter can sometimes exude bursts of energy so I wasn’t sure if our flight would be uneventful.  I am happy to report both of these companions were awesome in flight.

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My Travel Companions
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McKinley loved seeing her Aunt Denise and Grammy Pat

Furthermore, I must brag about how awesome my family was during this first holiday apart.  They delayed their Christmas plans until we arrived.  They didn’t eat the traditional meal or exchange presents until we arrived.  I know that must have been difficult but it meant a lot to all of us! We loved all of our gifts, especially the gift of family.  Even though I still have more family to visit, it has already been a great trip so far.

The next holiday was New Year’s Eve (NYE).  NYE was spent in Florida with my sister and her boyfriend.   We had a great dinner (no reservation required) and had a low-key night out.  However, I must mention one really neat thing we noticed while at the restaurant/bar was a young woman probably around 22 who had a perfect 1980s hair-style.  It was quite shocking to see!  After all, I haven’t seen hair like that since I styled my own that big during the late 80s.  Is that fad coming back?  I have no idea, but if so, there will be many ladies already experienced at teasing, spraying, and styling really big. (Smile.)

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This was the pretty drive to my sister’s house for New Year’s Eve.
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My sister and I on New Year’s Eve! 
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This is Don, my sister’s boyfriend. We had so much fun too!
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These two are adorable together. Thank you for celebrating the start of 2018 with me!

On a final note, 2018 is going to be the year of wellness surprises.  The reason I know this is because I surprisingly brought the snow to south Georgia.  (Joking… Seriously, it snowed just as hard for a while in Georgia as it did in Alaska.  So much for warm weather…) For the new year, I plan on writing some of the same content you are already used to, but will also add new topics such as articles about essential oils. Not only will I discuss how essential oils can help you, but I will actually create wellness products too.  The essential oil certification I earned last year will get plenty of use in 2018!

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My parents in the South Georgia snow earlier today.

Please check in regularly.  I also welcome you to leave comments or messages. I hope your new year is a wonderful one!

Hugs and Fun Surprises,

Mel