Caramel Cupcakes


This weekend a group of my daughter’s friends gathered items (in lieu of a baby shower for our new addition that is due in November.  My daughter decided she didn’t need anything for the baby since this is #3) and wanted to put together 20 Love Bags.  These bags will be given to foster children who are removed from homes for various reasons and arrive with only the clothes on their backs.  

Items were removed from sacks, laid out on the kitchen island and we began walking around filling the bags with toothpaste, a toothbrush, baby wipes, a blanket, Kleenex, coloring book, crayons, a photo album and a storybook.   We saw the truth of how something bigger than ourselves had become a reality.   It is the hope that these bags will not only be a comfort to the children but also the families that are taking in these little ones.


After we had completed our project we talked, laughed, shared and, of course, ate.  One of the items I served was a Caramel Cupcake.  I was a bit challenged because I wanted to make sure my daughter, who needs to avoid eggs, could enjoy them.  The solution was found by substituting the egg with milk (I used almond/coconut milk) and apple cider vinegar.  We also had Monster Cookies, Almond Joy Bites and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Caramel Cupcakes
A caramel cupcake with caramel frosting.
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  1. 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  2. 1 ½ cup almond milk, unsweetened or (your choice of milk)
  3. 2 cups white spelt flour, (or your choice of flour)
  4. 3/4 cup white sugar
  5. 2 tsp baking powder
  6. ½ tsp baking soda
  7. ½ tsp salt
  8. ½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  9. Caramel Liquid Stevia - 6 to 8 drops
  10. Caramel Frosting
  11. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  12. 3-4 cups Powdered Sugar
  13. 1/3 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  14. 8 Kraft Caramels, unwrapped
  15. Caramel Liquid Stevia, 6 drops
  1. CAKE
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Line two-12-cup muffin pans with muffin cups. Spray lightly with a coconut oil.
  4. Combine the 1 1/2 cup almond milk and vinegar into a 2-cup measuring cup and whisk together. Let sit 5 minutes until curdled (little bubbles will appear on top).
  5. Add stevia in liquid mixture.
  6. In large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. In a separate bowl whisk together the almond milk mixture, oil and stevia.
  8. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and mix well.
  9. Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 full. (Do not overfill)
  10. Lightly bang pan against counter to even out batter.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back clean, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  12. Cool in pan on a cooling rack.
  13. Make frosting below.
  14. When cool – Top with frosting and sprinkles, caramels and chocolate.
  15. Caramel Frosting
  16. Place caramels in microwave-safe dish with milk. Heat in 20 second increments, stopping to stir until well combined. Add in liquid stevia
  17. Place butter in the mixer and whip until smooth.
  18. Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar.
  19. Add in caramel milk mixture.
  20. Continue to add sugar until frosting is the consistency you desire.
Deliciously Inspired
We hear about so much bad in the world but there are many who are doing what they can to spread kindness to our hurting world.  We live in a world that strives to have our focus remain on the yucky instead of the good. I have been blessed lately by seeing the generation of my daughter stand up and create good – and I am encouraged.  “Do not let kindness and truth leave you.  Bind them around your neck and write them on the table of your heart.”  Proverbs 3:3


Frosting Done


Ready to Decorate


Here are my favorite items for making cupcakes.  

Kitchen Aid Mixer – I would consider going into debt if this kitchen tool broke but I’ve had mine for over 25 years and it’s still going strong.

Rachel Ray Cupcake Pans – I recently replaced my worn-out pans with these and enjoy how easily they clean up.  PS – They are on sale.

Cooling Racks – It is important to cool your cupcakes down before frosting – a cooling rack helps speed the process.  Tip:  I often bake my cupcakes the day before I decorate.  After they have cooled, i place in my cupcake storage containers and refrigerate.

Cupcake Storage Containers – These are my favorite holders because the tray can accommodate 12 regular size cupcakes or 24 miniature cupcakes or be removed entirely to hold a batch of cookies.  They also stack on top of one another.

Disposable Frosting Bags – These are worth the money – cuts down on clean-up.

Frosting Decorating Tips – I am not an expert on decorating but these large tips make my cupcakes better than my skill level.

Large Tip Decorating Coupler – This is made up of two piece – one will go inside the bag and the other will hold your tip onto the outside of bag and connect everything together.

Go to the Thrift Store and buy a cylinder vase or use a large drinking glass.  Place bag in vase/glass, fold the edge over vase/glass.  This makes getting the frosting into the bag much easier.


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What I’ve Read in 2016


When I was a child, yes, before the internet, one of my favorite things to do was a trip to the library.  The best day at school was when the class was taken to the library to check out a book.  During the summers my group of friends would get dressed up and go to the library.   And, of course, there were those special days when the bookmobile bus would drive into the neighborhood, park on a designated street and wait for me to climb those 3 or 4 steps in to search for a book.  I felt rich as I wandered the rows of books looking for my next adventure, reading about places I had never been and opening my heart and mind to the power of another’s story.  Oh how grateful I am to my family and teachers who taught me how to read. 

Reading causes me to slow down, to stretch myself, to be a treasure hunter and often fact find if what I’m  reading is true and learn from others.  Reading brings me comfort, laughter, leads me to a new idea and often is a restful place to land from my own life.

Because of recently downsizing our home, my commute to work has become an hour longer each day but you know what – it has been a blessing.  Because of the internet and, I can now download a book on my iPhone and play it through my car radio.  The little girl in me is delighted for this new library that is so easily available.  The commute flies by.  My coworker and friend, Amy and I started listening to books on our commute years ago.  It is a great way to remind us that the workday hasn’t started yet in the morning and ended in the afternoon.  We have been known to sit in front of her house because we have 15 minutes left and then broke out in applause at the ending while listening to The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I am sure we were quite a sight to those outside the car.

Don’t get me wrong – I also read on Kindle; and I still treasure holding a book in my hands, turning the pages with my highlighter and pen in hand in case something catches my attention. 

This year I set a goal to read 40 books, as well as my bible.  I have met 3/4 of this goal and I am currently reading the kindle version of  Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and listen to Among the Gods by Lynn Austin (which is the 5th in the series Chronicles of the Kings – I will be sad to finish this series).  The books of 2016 are a snapshot of my year – learning about people who settled our country,  the kings of the Old Testament, maneuvering the grief of a loved one, many areas of our history – Chicago World Fair and the women who stepped in to work the shipyards during WW2, downsizing a house and discovering there is a freedom in having less stuff, learning to cook more with organics and non-GMO ingredients as well as becoming very attached to a kitchen appliance I’d been scared of – the pressure cooker.  

I have been wanting to document and share my reading list for sometime and with Christmas less than 3 months away, I thought this might be a resource to all my fellow readers.

The Justice by Angela Hunt

The Keeper of the Ring Series by Angela Hunt

The Last of the Mohicans by James Cooper

A Good Yarn (Book 2) by Debbie Macomber

Susannah’s Garden by Debbie Macomber

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Brides for Brothers by Debbie Macomber

A Woman’s Place by Lynn Austin

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin

Faith of My Fathers (Chronicles of the Kings #4) by Lynn Austin

Gods and Kings (Chronicles of the Kings #1)  by Lynn Austin

Song of Redemption (Chronicles of the Kings #2) by Lynn Austin

Strength of His Hand (Chronicles of the Kings #3) by Lynn Austin

The Next Place by Warren Hanson

Remind Me by LN Croak

Magdalene by Angela Hunt

Getting Through the Tough Stuff by Chuck Swindoll

Moving On by Linda Hetzer/Janet Hulstrand

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Where I Am by Billy Graham

The Elimination Diet:  Discover the foods that are making you sick and tired and feel better fast by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malters

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

One Simple Act:  Discovering the Art of Generosity by Debbie Macomb

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

First Easter by Peter Marshall

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankel

Unbroken by Laura Hollenbrand

Rightsize, Right Now.. by Regina Leads

The Paleo Kitchen by Julie Bauer and George Bryant

I’d love to hear what you are reading or listening to.

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Happy Page Turning…



Downsizing and Our Kitchen Makeover


It took over a year to get our house of 25 years ready to sell.  There were children’s school work, report cards, mementos that needed to be sorted through, greeting cards I had kept, hard copy photos, etc.  Then add on what is being kept in all the other rooms – dishes, appliances, furniture, books, etc.  (and most importantly what is being sold or given away) and it can cause a few gray hairs and a rise in blood pressure. 

I look forward to sharing our kitchen makeover but first a few things I learned during my downsizing/moving journey.

 To prepare, I read books (Right Size,Right Now, Essentialism:  The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less and Moving On, and A Practical Guide to Downsizing The Family Home  I listened to podcasts (Organization Station @Home and The Frugal House – Jenny Martin) and sought the advise of those that had been on the downsizing trail before me.  Here were a few of my takeaways..

  • Keep a few things to remember others by but not everything that has been handed down or given.  By the time we were emotionally and mentally ready to downsize –  I had 3 sets of china, one set was mine, one was my moms and a set my grandmother had handed down.  I couldn’t remember the last time we used any of it.  First I offered them to my my daughter and daughter-in-law.  My daughter passed; my daughter-in-law took my grandmothers set.  I packaged them up in the following storage chests…Foldable Storage Chests .. Jumbo Storage Boxes .. Quilted China Starter Kit.  I tried to consign my mom’s set – there is no interest in these items anymore.  I ended up donating to my favorite thrift store – Gracie’s Cottage.  I actually moved my set with us, thinking we’d keep our formal dining room and china hutch.  That didn’t happen – the furniture ended up being to0 large and we ended up donating to Goodwill along with all of my china except for 2 dessert plates.  I’ve decided that a nice set of white plates can take you anywhere and that a fold out 6-ft table and chairs will work nicely when we have holidays at our house.
  • Only keep books that mean something to you today.  Donate to someone else that can use all the others.
  • Keep only the clothes you feel good in and will fit in the space you have.  Jeff and I were going from each having a closet to sharing one.
  • When deciding what to do with an item – ask yourself if you were to see it today for the first time would you spend money on it, want to store it, have a use for it and does it delight your heart.  If the answer isn’t yes – you are basically storing something that you have no use for.
  • We keep our lives cluttered with things.  The item(s) may be in the closet, drawers and cupboards but they also take up precious space in our mind and life.

So back to our kitchen.  We went from a 2800 square foot home to a 1600 square foot home.  It’s funny when you are looking to buy a new home it doesn’t really register what you are started with until you do the final walk-through and then move in.  Everyone has their own taste and I believe the people who owned the house before us loved their home.  But we were looking forward to giving the house a simple open decor and discovered we were going to be busy.

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Here is a picture of what the kitchen looked like when we moved in – the cabinets had seen better days and had chips that you can’t really see.  It was painted a mint green with rooster decals as a backsplash and had plaid maroon and green curtains – the small dining room area was painted blue with the same curtains.  There wasn’t a pantry and we needed to use what we considered the hall closet for our food.  After cooking scallops on the stove, we soon discovered there wasn’t any venting for cooking.  The garbage disposal could inhale a bowl when turned on because all the rubber in the sink drain was nonexistent.  The features we liked:  hardwood floors, decent wooden shades on all the windows, gas stove, and kitchen window.

When you first move in – the first step is to make the space functional so our time was spent unpacking boxes, buying groceries (because eating out soon loses it’s luster).  Then the dreaming starts and the realization that kitchens aren’t inexpensive.   The appliances were delivered and I want to share one the best things we spent money on was a new Kitchen-Aid dishwasher.  The family room is very close to the kitchen and the dishwasher that came with the house was LOUD.  Our new dishwasher is so quiet we sometimes have to check to make sure we turned it on.

I took all the curtains down from the windows and Jeff removed the rooster decals.  He also fixed the oven venting problem.   We then headed to Superior Stone and Cabinets and began planning.  We chose a gray toned cabinet, decided to extend our island by 18 inches to include garbage bins, and add a 18″ pantry.  I have to say that I’ve been surprised how much the pantry can hold.  We were very happy with the service we received – Superior  delivered on exactly what they promised and were in and out of our home in 3 days.  First day was demolition…2nd day was cabinets…and 3rd day was the granite.  

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This was our old formica countertop.

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This is the cabinet and granite samples we chose along with our flooring and paint color for the kitchen.  We were feeling pretty bold that day and took a chance of really making the kitchen ours.

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This was the old sink with the nonexistent rubber part of the drain.  Yuk!  I was counting the days until my deep double stainless sink went in.

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Once they demo’d the kitchen,  Jeff painted with our paint color of choice Sherman Williams Analytical Gray.  We decided to paint the entire house this color to give it a continuous flow of calm throughout the house.  It also would provide the benefit of not having to store several paint cans in the garage.  The new pantry would be placed to the left of the refrigerator.

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Then it was cabinet day.  We had a trash compactor for 25 years and thought we would get another one but this has actually been a better option for us.  It encourages us to recycle.

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The third day, the granite went in, as well as the stainless steel sink.  We decided to have the backsplashes done in the granite as well. They also installed the new handles on the drawers and cupboards which we had found at Home Depot.  This was so very fun to watch it go in.  Time for the dishes and cookware to go into their new home.  Because I wanted to maximize my counter space, I purchased a collapsible over the sink drain

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Here is a picture of our pantry.

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By the next day – appliances were back in, new faucet, garbage disposal, reverse osmosis system, and soap dispenser.

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Recently Jeff has added under cupboard lighting which is amazing – a very inexpensive, easy project and of course, it comes with a remote control.  Don’t get me started on how many remote controls we have..ceiling fans, sprinklers, lights…oh my.  These lights make a huge difference and have a lot of different settings.

I’d love to hear your downsizing/moving advice or experience.

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