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Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Sweet Treat: {The Best Chocolate Cake (Ever)} by Robyn at Add a Pinch

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever} from
Photo Credit: The Best Chocolate Cake (Ever) by Robyn @ Add a Pinch

I made this cake on Monday, and it definitely gets my vote for "the best chocolate cake ever." Yes, it truly is THAT good, and my family loved it!  If you're a fan of chocolate, I highly recommend this one! The recipe calls for espresso powder, which I couldn't find at my local grocery, so I substituted instant espresso coffee. It doesn't have a huge coffee flavor, but just a hint, and complements the cocoa very nicely. It's a fantastic cake, and very easy to make. It's a 10/10 in my book! Robyn has a lot of amazing recipes on her site, so be sure to check out her website at Add a Pinch.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever} from
Photo Credit: Robyn @ Add a Pinch
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. For the cake:
  3. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  5. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Frost cake with Chocolate Frosting.
  8. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  9. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  10. Melt butter and pour into bowl with cocoa powder. Whisk together until well-combined.
  11. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  12. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  13. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{Duck Commander Phil Robertson - Deciding to Follow Jesus} + Book Preview

Raise your hand if you're a Duck Dynasty fan!  Me, me, me! ::Jumping up and down, waving hands wildly:::

I watched Duck Dynasty on A&E on February 24th for the first time, thanks to my hubby's channel surfing.  I wasn't actually watching the show, but probably playing Candy Crush on my iPad, when I heard some VERY funny things being said.  My interest was piqued, and I looked up to see what he was watching.  I continue to crack up for the remainder of the show . . . and I was hooked!  Thankfully, they were running several episodes in a row, so we watched some more.  Come to find out, they're a Christian family, that incorporates their faith into their show.  No words are being bleeped out, and it's a great show that the entire family can watch together.  Amazing!  Sign me up for more of this, I say!  :D

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten to know the Robertson family even more, by reading their book, The Duck Commander Family.  It's a great book, by the way!  I highly recommend it if you're a fan of the show (or even if you haven't watched it yet)!

In addition, I stumbled across this LifeWay Christian video on my Facebook newsfeed, and I must say, I'm loving this family more everyday!  Their show has more than 4 million fans on facebook, and it just appears to be growing daily.  I don't know about you, but I think this is HUGE.  I'm so happy to see that this family is using their platform to bring glory to God, and that they appear to be staying grounded.  I just can't help but think, how many will be lead to Christ through this family and the example they set?  They have a huge platform, and a tremendous influence for Christ.  I pray they continue to use it well.

The patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, has a book coming out on May 7, 2013, titled Happy, Happy, Happy.  Here's a little bit about the book . . .

In Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the DUCK COMMANDER, author Phil Robertson, the founder of Duck Commander, shares his inspiring stories of creating the first duck call, beginning the Duck Commander business, becoming a Christian, and living his faith.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Book Review: {Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska} by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

About the Book:

Two romances weave together in one novel. When a woman discovers old letters that reveal a tender love story, she is convinced to reignite her romance with a former flame. Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams—a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood. But When singer Ginny Marshall travels to the isolated town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, she is charmed by the town's colorful characters and stunning scenery. She discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between an early missionary to Alaska Territory and his accidental mail-order bride. When Ginny's former fiance returns to Glacier Bay, will she discover that the love she always wanted was the one she always had?

My Star Rating:  5 Stars

My Review:

Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss have come together to create a beautiful love story, that warms the heart.  They're both talented authors, who draw the reader in, and immerse you into the small town of Glacier Bay, Alaska.  I know it may sound cliche to say, but I really did feel like I was there, and I could see everything clearly as if I was right there with Ginny, Brett, and Grandma Ethel.  And while the setting was beautiful, the characters were equally enjoyable.  I especially enjoyed Brett's Grandma Ethel.  What a sweet, precious lady; she added so much to the story, and I love how her character imparted so much spiritual wisdom to Ginny.  Truly great stuff!

I found this story to be quite unique, in the fact that there are two stories in one; Ginny's story blends beautifully with Ellie's story through Ginny's reading of the letters that were written in the early part of the 1900's.  Ginny has her own struggles, and through Ellie's letters, she's able to relate and work through some of the issues she's having, and it's wonderful to watch how she (and Ellie) grow in their faith.

I love how everything comes together, and how the authors have perfectly woven two time periods, and two love stories.  With its amazing setting, heartwarming romance, contemporary aspects, historical charm, and a well-written spiritual thread, I recommend this one with two thumbs up!  Definitely a great read!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Music Monday: {Strangely Dim} by Francesca Battistelli

So many things can happen from day to day that don't meet our expectations; things don't happen the way we think they should, people don't act the way we think they should, and the plans that we've laid out don't come to pass.  But Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  When we take the focus off of our circumstances, and we look to Him, and keep our eyes fixed on Him . . . all the rest seems to melt away, and become strangely dim.

I pray that you enjoy Francesca Batitistelli's new single, Strangely Dim, and that it blesses you wherever you are today.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Funny: {Duck Dynasty} Talkin' My Language

The A&E show, Duck Dynasty, has been out for a couple seasons, but I just discovered it about three weeks ago, and I am H.O.O.K.E.D!  What a GREAT show!  These guys are a HOOT and and half!  Love, love, love!

Now, I'm not a big TV watcher, because let's face it, most of what they show on TV is garbage.  When I first watched this show, I didn't even realize that they're a Christian family, and that their faith is a big part of the show -- there is a prayer at the end of every show, while the family sits gathered around the dinner table, plus many other times during the show where the Bible and their faith is mentioned.  I. LOVE. THAT.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, I'm "Happy, Happy, Happy" that I found this show!  In the words of Uncle Si, "Hey!  That's a fact, Jack!"  ;-)

Today's Friday Funny is a montage of funny quotes and "quirky moments," titled "Talkin' My Language."  ENJOY!  :D 

Have y'all seen the show, and do you love it as much as I do?  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Music Monday: {Promises} by Sanctus Real

Have you all heard this awesome song by Sanctus Real?  It meets all of the criteria for a Music Monday song . . . amazing sound, stellar vocals, and a message that will knock your socks off!  If you haven't heard it, I think you're really going to love it!  It's the perfect reminder to each and every one of us, that when things seem to be falling apart around us we can hold onto God's promises . . . letting his words be our strength.  Praise the Lord that we don't have to flounder around wondering where to turn and what to do.  He is always there for us  . . . He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Enjoy, and be blessed!


Sometimes it's hard to keep believing
In what you can't see
That everything happens for a reason
Even the worst life brings
If you're reaching for an answer
And you don't know what to pray
Just open up the pages
Let His word be your strength

And hold on to the promises (Hold tight)
Hold on to the promises (Alright)
Jesus is alive so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

All things work for the good
Of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you
Not even His own Son
His love is everlasting
His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So if you feel weak

Neither life, nor death
Could separate us
From the eternal love
Of our God who saves us

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Book Preview: {Love's Awakening} by Laura Frantz (September 2013 Release)

From beloved Christian author, Laura Frantz, comes Love's Awakening.  This is Book 2 in the Ballantyne Legacy Series, scheduled for release in September 2013, and if you've read any books by Laura Frantz, you know we're in for a real treat.  I can't wait for this one!  And look at that beautiful cover . . . WOW!  It's stunning, to say the least.

About the Book:

Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has quit finishing school. Missing her family, Ellie leaves Philadelphia determined to never return. But at her family home in up-and-coming Pittsburgh, Ellie finds her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don’t seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks, slaveholders and whiskey magnates, are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future—and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family’s violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?

Love's Awakening is available for preorder at

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Book Preview: {Love at Any Cost} by Julie Lessman (April 2013 Release)

From beloved Christian author, Julie Lessman, comes the long awaited first book in The Heart of San Francisco series.  Love at Any Cost is Julie's eighth novel, and is scheduled for release on April 15, 2013.  As a fan of Julie's work, and the rich history of San Francisco, I can't wait to read this one!  Thankfully, Julie's eager reader friends won't have to wait much longer!  It's hard to believe the wait is almost over!

About the Book/Series:

From the glitter and glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill and Napa wine country, to the seedy dance halls and gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, “The Heart of San Francisco” series is a study in contrasts between the haves and have-nots, and barriers between rich and poor that only faith can transcend. 

The story of the McClares, a wealthy political family in 1902 San Francisco, not only highlights the struggles of faith and heart of three cousins, but of the matriarch of the family as well, Caitlyn McClare. A widow of strong faith and beauty, Caitlyn butts heads and hearts with her handsome brother-in-law Logan McClare, the fiancé who betrayed her before she married his brother. In a breathtaking city where the Irish were predominant in the early 1900s and wielding power in both politics and wealth, the story of the McClares is a glimpse into beauty and degradation, poverty and promise during a riveting time in our nation’s history.

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?

With delectable descriptions and a romantic sensibility, bestselling author Julie Lessman brings the Gilded Age to life in this sumptuous new series. Readers will faithfully follow Lessman to the West Coast for more romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in Love at Any Cost.

Love at Any Cost is currently available for preorder at

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Book Review: {The Reunion} by Dan Walsh

About the Book:
Aaron Miller was an old, worn-out Vietnam vet, a handyman in a trailer park. Forty years ago, he saved the lives of three young men in the field only to come home from the war and lose everything - including love, dignity, second, and even third, chances.

But God is a master at finding and redeeming the lost things of life. Aaron is about to be found. And the one who finds him just might find the love of his life as well.

Expert storyteller Dan Walsh presents The Reunion, a holiday tale filled with the things his fans have come to love - forgiveness, redemption, love and that certain bittersweet quality that few authors ever truly master. Fans old and new will find themselves drawn into this story about how God cares for everyone.

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:
Dan Walsh is a master storyteller, and has woven a wonderful story of love, friendship, forgiveness, restoration, redemption, and second chances.

I found all of the characters to be likeable and believable, and I especially loved the main character, Aaron Miller.  His story is remarkable, and while it's fictitious, I imagine it's one that could easily hold true to real-life veterans.  I truly enjoyed everything about Aaron's character:  how he lived a humble life, how he found beauty in the world and people around him, and how every life he touched was changed for the better.  Everyone who knew Aaron was better off for knowing him.  He touched people's lives in remarkable ways . . . and yet he was humble.  In my eyes, he's a fantastic example of what it looks like to live a life that looks like Christ.  He laid himself aside for others -- back in Vietnam and in his job as a handyman in the trailer park.  His heart for others, and his humble character make him one that I'll never forget.  I'd say he's one of my favorite characters in any book I've ever read.

There wasn't anything I didn't like about the book.  And even though I had a little bit of an idea about which way the story was headed, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.  Then of course, there was the "tear factor" . . . I love a book that moves me to tears, and Dan definitely has the skill to provide a heartwarming and emotional read.  I highly recommend this one with two thumbs up!  Dan Walsh is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading many more of his books.

You can find out more about Dan and his books here at his website.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Music Monday: {Slip on By} by Finding Favour

Yay!  Another great, new group!  Finding Favour's single, Slip on By, is awesome!  I've heard it on KLOVE a few times, and I just love it!  It's a song that reminds us to embrace every moment that God has given us.  Every moment is precious, and they pass all too quickly . . . We're only here for a little while.  God gives us only so much precious time, so don't let it slip on by.  

Finding Favours debut album releases on March 12th, and if this song is any indication, I think it's going to be awesome!  Enjoy and be blessed, my friends!  (P.S. You might need a Kleenex)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Music Monday (on a Friday!): {You Set Me Free} by Angela Miller

It's been a couple years since I've watched American Idol, but when this video showed up on my facebook newsfeed, I was awestruck!  You Set Me Free is an original song by Angela Miller (aka Angie K. Miller), and she is a contestant on American Idol this season.  She's a young Christian woman, who appears to have a very special anointing on her singing career.  The vocals on this song are amazing, and the message is so powerful!  I may be a bit late in posting this here, and you may have already seen this video, but just in case you haven't seen it, you're in for a real treat!

If you search her on youtube, you'll find that she has MANY other songs worth listening to.  I predict big things for this young lady, and I pray that she stays humble and sings for the Lord to bring Him all the glory.  From many of the comments I've read on youtube, she's already making a huge impact on people's lives.  Needless to say, I'll be rooting for her!  Shine your light, Angie!