Cuppa Love update & a simple Sunday school craft

Last month I was so excited to share my new little charitable endeavor with y’all. Well, we had our first Sales Week and it was a HIT! Just wanted to give an update – after nineteen orders, we were able to raise $500 for clean water in Ethiopia. Of course it’s just a small fraction of the overall project cost (46k!), but it means we are inching ever closer towards our goal! Only about $3000 left in the entire project. Two weeks from tomorrow Cuppa Love will be featured at one more sales event for the year, and I’m hoping and PRAYING that puts us over the top. It is so much fun to make friends happy with delicious, gourmet treats, and all the better for a life-giving cause! Thanks to everyone who helped support Cuppa Love and clean water.

10342012_331180927047070_8051715936313053432_n

My first official box full ‘o love, delivered to a dear friend and supporter

Now, a change in gears. I haven’t posted any kid-crafts to the blog yet, but I’m constantly coming up with something of the sort because I teach Sunday school 6 months of the year. Doing crafty stuff takes up so much time…finding time to blog about it seems to happen for only about 10% of the things I make! Anyone have a brilliant solution to this problem? I vote we add a few hours to the day…but unfortunately I can’t control the axis of our globe…;)

This month we’ve been in the book of Exodus, both in “big church” and in the kids’ wing. It’s been fun to discuss the stories with the preschoolers, and with my kiddos at home as well. I’m hoping parents will notice the parallels and build on our weekly Bible stories with their own growth in the Word – just layer upon layer of God’s truth. It’s a good thing!

Anyway, back to the craft. A couple weeks ago we taught the story of Moses striking the rock (Ex. 17) to provide water to God’s people. I love the stories of Exodus, and the way they portray eternal truths about Jesus Christ. He is our Rock (1 Cor. 10:4) who was smitten (Is. 53:5) and out of Him pours living water (John 7:38) that gives eternal life. Even the account of Christ on the cross further illustrates the fulfillment of this story (John 19:34).

I wanted the children to have something to remember the story, and also tie it to Jesus. I happened to have several dozen smooth stones from a project, and my vision was to make little paperweights that would serve as a reminder of the Exodus story, as well as Jesus’ living water.

20140810_090016

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Several smooth stones (one for each child, and some examples)
Sharpie
Blue paint
Dixie cups or little sample paper cups
Paper plates
Clear or blue glitter
Liquid glue (that dries clear – like Elmers)
Several small twigs (one for each rock)

STEP BY STEP:
First, make examples. Make one for each table of kiddos – we have two tables in the 3’s room so I made two. Write what you want your children to remember with Sharpie – I chose “Jesus is the Rock” but you could use your memory verse, or just Exodus 17, or whatever you like. Place your rocks on a paper plate, squirt paint into a Dixie cup, and pour over the rock so it runs down. Sprinkle on glitter – glitter makes everything better! It makes your “water” look more realistic too. ūüėČ Add a dab of glue, and put the twig on top (Moses’ rod). The steps with the children are obviously the same, but let them do as much of it as they can. I pre-wrote on the rocks, let them choose their favorite, and wrote their name on the paper plates (not really part of the craft – just for catching stray paint and glitter, and so moms/dads could pick them out of a lineup). The kiddos poured on the paint however they liked, did their own glitter, and glued on their twigs. I love how they came out! Pretty simple, but fun, and no two crafts were exactly the same. I think the children enjoyed these, and I hope they’ll spur on good Bible discussions at home!

20140810_091105

In Him,
Monique

Have a Cuppa Love

It’s been a couple weeks since the launch of Cuppa Love – Cupcakes for Clean Water. ¬†This week is our first official “Sales Week,” meaning now is the time to purchase cupcake vouchers for anytime thru the end of 2014. ¬†I am updating and posting info on the Facebook page, but thought it would be handy for non-FBers to also post here. ¬†So, if you’re local (Portland Metro Area) and in need of a sweet fix for a sweet cause, be sure to sign up this week!

how to order pic

 

 

 

Voucher pic

Also, for those of you who haven’t heard, I am hosting a completely *free* tasting party {ladies only} this Thursday, August 14 from 7-8:30! ¬†I need a headcount today in order to prepare enough cupcakes for everyone, so again, if you’re local, and want to come, please email me! ¬†I will host another when we get closer to the holidays for kiddos as well. ¬†Here is just a little smattering of some of the deliciousness you might get to enjoy at the party:

10339744_10204300281496424_8651189203797543079_n

Lord bless!
Monique

…And this is it!

I gave you a teaser this week of something big in the works.  Well are you ready?

I can’t hear you!

ARE YOU READY?

Ok. ¬†That’s more like it.

I’m thrilled to announce that I am partnering with my¬†beautiful and inspirational friend, Kristen Greene, in her ongoing missions to bring medical relief and clean water to the rural regions of Ethiopia. ¬†I first met Kristen several years ago at a jewelry party fundraiser. ¬†Her story burrowed deep into my heart – she was first exposed¬†to the harsh¬†poverty in Ethiopia¬†when she adopted her two precious children from rural Bachira, ET. ¬†After God brought her¬†daughter and son home to a life of health and safety, Kristen had an indelible urge to go back and do more. ¬†She has since headed up several relief efforts through fundraising to provide a maternity clinic, pediatric clinic, and an ambulance to this impoverished region. ¬†Kristen¬†has such a deep love for the people of Bachira and surrounding communities, and no project is too big for her¬†to tackle! ¬†As I’ve gotten to know her through these fundraisers and our growing friendship, Kristen has taught me what it means to be eternally-minded and others-focused.

bachira water
Children¬†of Bachira – including Kristen’s kids’ biological brother – at their current water source

Needless to say, immediately I was HOOKED. ¬†Not being one to splurge on¬†fashion,¬†Kristen’s fundraisers gave me a fun, tangible¬†way to help aid the efforts in Ethiopia while shopping for presents I’d otherwise be buying at the mall. ¬†Since then, all the ladies in my family know what to expect¬†each¬†Christmas. ¬†Buying jewelry to aid these life-giving projects¬†was just a no-brainer!

Recently Kristen expanded her fundraising opportunities to include a revolutionary new makeup line.  I happily signed up to host a party, which was a raging success Рthanks to many of YOU!  Hugs and kisses to all you dears who helped bring clean water to more than ten impoverished children.  Yes, a few dozen tubes of mascara did THAT!

clean water

Well, you might say I was high on fundraising…because midway through the party I got an itch. ¬†An itch to do more. ¬†Lots more. ¬†What could I do? ¬†What was my niche? ¬†How might¬†¬†I channel my own passions and creativity to make a difference in these precious lives, long-term?

Friends, this is where the rubber meets the road. ¬†Unto good works. ¬†It’s what I strive to be about. ¬†It’s about doing things that God created me to do – with the talents I owe only to Him – in a way that blesses others and draws them near to Him. ¬†Now, some¬†might argue¬†that the pastimes¬†of a homeschooling housewife¬†are¬†trivial. ¬†Not big enough for God’s work. ¬†I beg to differ.

Cuppa Love logo pic

Enter Cuppa Love Рcupcakes for clean water. 

Yes, you heard that right! ¬†This Fall I will strive to help push Kristen’s clean water project over the finish line, to be fully funded, by making and selling my very own custom, gourmet, cupcake creations. ¬†For the past few years I’ve enjoyed making cakes for my family and friends. ¬†Word of mouth turned that into friends-of-friends. ¬†Soon I was getting requests to¬†go into business as a baker. ¬†Legally speaking, selling my cakes for a profit won’t be¬†possible anytime soon. ¬†But what I can do (and yes, I did call the state to verify) is hold bake sales, up to three times per year, to benefit a non-profit. ¬†Sing it with me – HALLELUJAH!

 

So how does it work? ¬†I thought you’d never ask. ¬†Here is a handy-dandy info sheet I created.how to order pic

Come August 11, I will release Order Forms for our first Sales Week. ¬†Cupcakes will be available in dozens (for regular size) and double-dozens (for minis). ¬†I’ll even have gluten-free and paleo options! ¬†To say I’m excited is a vast understatement. ¬†Up till now,¬†baking¬†has been just a fun, creative outlet…so to think this little hobby ‘o’ mine could serve to improve, even save, the lives of Kristen’s Ethiopian family and friends…it’s humbling. ¬†It’s thrilling. ¬†It’s Unto Good Works.

Today I am launching Cuppa Love on Facebook¬†– be sure to check it out and ‘like’ my page to receive updates about the first upcoming Sales Week!

And, if you’d like more info about the clean water project, visit¬†Kristen’s page.

In His love,
Monique

Mocha Mudcake

Image

 

Come to mama.
Ok, disclaimer: I am not an artsy foodblogger.  No professional quality photos here (yet anyway).  But rest assured: even without all that dazzling photoshoppy goodness, the cake depicted by this too-dark, sorta-shiny, phone-camera picture is completely, one hundred percent drool-worthy.
Do I have your attention?
All right then.
This cake was an afterthought – a result of some leftover batter from baking a large triple-batch for my bestie’s wedding. ¬†More on that later. ¬†Much later. ¬†When her professional photos come in, to be exact. ¬†But for now, mocha mudcake. ¬†The cake itself is more like a giant brownie. ¬†Mudcake is dense, rich, and not clean to cut (be ye forewarned). ¬†But it is by far my favey-fave chocolate cake to eat. ¬†As a bonus, this cake can be easily made gluten free. ¬†You have no idea how many delighted ladies (at Bible study, at their doorstep, and at the wedding) wanted to tearfully hug me when they discovered I was serving gluten-free cake. ¬†Who knew a little non-wheat flour could mean so much? ¬†Well, it does. ¬†If you serve¬†gluten free cake, keep tissues in your apron pocket. ¬†Just sayin’.

Now, for the filling. ¬†Since I wanted to adorn the outside all ruffly with swiss meringue buttercream, I filled the cake with rich dark chocolate ganache. The combination of dense cake, velvety ganache filling and cloud-like buttercream was so. so. good. ¬†Add to the SMBC a bit of melted chocolate, strong brewed coffee and a splash of amaretto, and well, you’d better just get a fork and skip the plates altogether. ¬†Right? ¬†Right. ¬†No, no, it is much more blessed to give than to receive. ¬†Pass out some forks and share with your friends.

For this recipe, I need to give credit where credit is due. ¬†You will see me reference Jessicakes quite a lot on this blog. ¬†Jessica is my biggest cakespiration – and an amazing momma of three as well. ¬†And she happens to go to my church. ¬†What a lucky girl I am! ¬†I have learned so much from her blog, tutorials, and kind responses to my crazy hairbrained questions. ¬†Next, there’s Dyann Bakes. ¬†You will really want to spend some time with her when you make your first (and second, and twelfth) batch of swiss meringue buttercream. ¬†She is like having your sweet aunt Mildred beside you in the kitchen (if you have an aunt Mildred, which I don’t), reassuring you every step of the way. ¬†And she’s adorable. ¬†Really, go check her out. ¬†K?

Now, finally.  Your recipe.

THE CAKE: I got this recipe here, from Jessica.

Ingredients
250g (1 cup + 1 Tbsp) butter, chopped
200g (7oz) dark chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 + 1/3 cups of strong coffee/espresso
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (use good stuff!)
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Method
Add first four ingredients into a saucepan and heat on low until melted and sugar is dissolved
Allow to cool for 10 minutes
Sift all flours together and add to cooled liquid, beating gently until incorporated
Add eggs and beat gently until incorporated well.
Pour mixture into greased+floured cake tins and bake at 350 degrees for appropriate time¬†(mine always seem to need more time than the recipe calls for, but I have an old, cranky oven – my 6″ tins take about 35 minutes). ¬†Watch for the cake to¬†begin to crack on top, check it with a toothpick…when it comes out nearly clean with just a few moist crumbs, it’s done!
Another awesome thing about mudcake is you can make it ahead Рup to 3 days ahead Рand let it sit wrapped at room temperature before filling/frosting/serving.  It is even better when the flavors are allowed to gel together.  Very nice feature for a multitasking mama like me!

Now, to make this cake gluten-free: 
Sub GF flour for your 3/4 c. plain flour
Sub 1 tsp. baking powder + 1/4 tsp. salt + flour to fill 3/4 c. for your 3/4 c. self rising flour
Add one extra egg.  Voila Рgluten free and just as delicious as the original (if not more so)!
If you’re wondering what type of GF flour to use, I have always relied on Bob’s Red Mill all purpose GF flour. ¬†But use whatever you like best.

THE GANACHE: Also learned my ganache-making method via Jessica, from Inspired by Michelle.

Ingredients
One part heavy whipping cream
Two parts extra dark chocolate (chopped in pieces, or chocolate chips – but make sure it’s good stuff. ¬†I like Guittard)

Method
I’m giving you ratios here, not amounts, because you only need a little bit to fill a 6″ cake like the one I have pictured. ¬†But ganache freezes beautifully, so feel free to make a nice big batch and save some for a future cake endeavor later. ¬†Or just spoon some out from the bowl for a midnight snack. ¬†All the best¬†bakers do it. ¬†Wink wink.
Put your chocolate bits into a glass microwaveable bowl. ¬†Make sure your bowl and utensils are bone dry – a drop of water will cause your chocolate to seize, and this is very, very sad. ¬†Pour your heavy cream over the chocolate. ¬†Microwave for 2 minutes, then remove the bowl and allow to sit for a little bit. ¬†Wiggle and spin your bowl on the countertop to gently incorporate the cream throughout the slightly heated chocolate. ¬†Microwave again for 2 minutes. ¬†Allow to sit a minute before stirring with a rubber spatula. ¬†Repeat this process until all your chocolate bits are completely melted, then whisk vigorously for several minutes until very smooth. ¬†Allow your ganache to cool slightly before covering (otherwise you’ll get condensation). ¬†Then continue to cool, covered, until it is a spreadable consistency.

THE BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients
One part liquid egg whites (6 oz.)
Two parts sugar (12 oz.)
Three parts unsalted butter (18 oz.)
4 oz. dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2-3 TBSP strong brewed coffee
Splash of amaretto

Method
Make your buttercream as directed by the lovely Dyann Bakes.  At the end, beat in your melted chocolate and ever so gradually and carefully, your coffee and amaretto.  Overdoing the liquid in SMBC will cause it to break, so just go by teaspoonfuls at a time.

ASSEMBLING YOUR CAKE

Smear a little ganache on a cake board, plate, etc.  Place your first layer of mudcake on top.  Fill with a thick layer of ganache, add your second layer of cake.  Press the cake down to even it all out; scrape off any excess ganache (and eat it; you know you want to).
Chill for a few minutes in the fridge, then apply a thin crumbcoat of your mocha buttercream.  Chill a few minutes more while you fill a pastry bag (fitted with a petal tip) with the remainder of your SMBC.
To make the ruffles, first score out even vertical lines around your cake so the ruffles will line up and look even. ¬†Then, using your pastry bag, line up the petal tip fat-side in, skinny-side out from the cake. ¬†Go back and forth, back and forth from bottom to top of each vertical column to make ruffles. ¬†Try to end at the top going the same direction every time. ¬†When you’ve done all around the sides, you can do a spiral of ruffles on top, or my favorite way – a fan of ruffles as pictured. ¬†I recommend scoring again before you start so they are all about the same width. ¬†Alternatively, you can just spread all the frosting with an offset spatula, rustic-old-fashioned style, or do a scallop pattern (I will explain this in a later blog post), or whatever frosting method that tickles your fancy. ¬†I like ruffles because they’re cute, and they mean a LOT of frosting. ¬†And frosting = happiness.

I think that about covers it – did I miss anything? ¬†Comment and let me know if you have any questions. ¬†This is my first official blogged recipe, so go easy on me, friends! ¬†ūüôā

All for His glory,
Monique