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Dear self,
Yesterday you turned the big 3-0. Thirty.  Take a deep breath. That’s right. You are officially out of your 20’s.

Your 20’s were good to you. They brought you your husband. Your kids. Your career. Your passion.

But they were rough, too. The loss of your brother, your parents. Chronic sinus problems. Back trouble. Bad feet.

You’ve had some good times – times you’ve laughed until you’ve cried, times you’ve cried until you laughed.  Sometimes those events were the same day!  There’s been lots of lessons learned.  Lots of friends made, and more than a few you’ve lost touch with over the years.  You’ve learned relationships are tough.  Sometimes really tough.  Tough just to keep going – tough to put the extra work in to keep the flame alive.  But oh, so very, very worth it.

I guess I wanted to write you this to give you some advice. Advice you probably won’t listen to, but you’ll nod and smile and say you’ll listen, and I wanted to write it out here so there were witnesses, so to speak.  So here it is. The big advice for you going into your 30s:  Do hard stuff.

Life is hard.  Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Friendships are hard. Work is hard. Faith is hard. Cleaning is hard. Downtime is hard.

Cooking is hard to find time for in light of all that other stuff.

Be kind to yourself – but also, be good at doing hard stuff, because at the end of the day that’s really what life is about.  Dig in to the moment, be present and real with people.  Acknowledge that you’re doing something hard, and then do it.  Give yourself a break when you fail, because you’re going to. Just be ready for it.  Every day you’re going to wake up with 57 things to do and you are going to fail to do most of them.

Try to do them anyways.  Don’t half-ass it, either, because who wants half-ass attention? No one. So do one thing really good. And then do another, and another, and another.  You may end up with 14 good things by the end of the day. Awesome. You did good.  You failed at 43 things, but they don’t matter because you rocked at 14 things.

When you turn 30 (if you’re me) you start to think about your legacy.  At the end of my life I want to be known as someone who was real.  Someone who had to dig her way through life with broken nails and tear stains and dirty tennis shoes who was a real person to the people she interacted with.  I don’t want people to think I’m something I’m not. I’m a mess – just like every other human being on this messy broken earth.

By the grace of God I’d like to fight against that brokenness – the brokenness that destroyed my parents, the brokenness that threatens to take others every day… I’d like to BE KIND and DO HARD STUFF because it helps fix some of that brokenness. And if on any given day I can only do 14 good things, or even just 1 good thing, it means the world is that many more things better than it was yesterday.

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I have a sourdough starter in my refrigerator. It’s been there for months.  When I first made the starter, I had grand visions of delicious sourdough bread.  However, life happens and before too long it was placed into the back of the fridge on the shelf of forgottenness.  Back when I started the starter (heh!) I named it Goob, after the adorable character from Disney‘s “Meet the Robinson’s.”  If you’ve seen the movie, the rest of this post will make sense to you. If you (by random chance) haven’t seen it, drop everything and go watch it.  Seriously. It’s amazing.

So at any rate: Goob was good to me, and then I abandoned him, and now he stinks.

I opened the fridge today to put away some pizza, and there sat Goob.  My failure out front, in the open, for all to see.  I turned to my husband and sighed.

“I’ve got to take care of poor Goob. I’ll try to look it up tomorrow and see if there’s anything I can do to save him.”

My husband immediately pops up with: “Go back in time, don’t neglect him so much.”

I love my husband.

Two quick toddler quotes for you, although one is dialogue so you can get the context of the ridiculous.

“I can’t go potty, I’m crying!”

 

“Benjamin, what do you want for dinner? Do you want some chili?”
“Yeah! I want CHILI!”
“Ok buddy, I will make it in a few minutes.”
In the meantime, he proceeds to repeatedly ask for chili.  I go to the kitchen and heat up the chili.
I set the hot bowl on the counter (out of his reach).
He reaches for the hot bowl, saying “Chili!”
“Benjamin, don’t touch that, it’s hot! Mommy is going to get you your own bowl.”
I get him his own bowl, dump half of the heated up chili in to it, and turn to him, bowl in hand.
“Benjamin, do you want cheese on your chili?”
“NO!”
He then proceeds to start crying. I was like, do whaaaa??
“Ok. Well, then here’s your chili buddy!”
He looks in the bowl.
“That’s not chili!!!”
I’m like, do whaaa?
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not chili!!”
“Benjamin, yes, that is chili, just like we ate two days ago!”
“No, it’s not chili!” He is adamant.
“Well, then, son, what do you think it is? What is this?” I point to the chili.
“It’s Rock ‘n Roll!”

He never did admit that chili was chili, and he eventually had soup for dinner.  Ahh, two year olds are awesome.

Do you ever have the BEST of intentions, and then something happens so that it JUST. DOESN’T. WORK. OUT.

Yeah, me too.  But luckily (and by luckily I mean my husband saved the day), this story has a happy ending.

I love to bake, but I don’t love to gain weight from eating things I bake… so I generally try to experiment when giving away food.  Luckily I’m a Baptist now so there’s plenty of opportunities for me to bake.  I have been eyeing a Key Lime Pound Cake recipe for some time and thought that the spring BBQ at my church was a perfect chance to try it out.

How I found the recipe is kind of weird – and once you hear the story – ironic.  I was looking at reviews of my bundt pan and someone mentioned how they had made a key lime pound cake in it.  The reviewer talked about how nice it was and how tasty and pretty it was.  My baking senses started tingling and I printed out the recipe.  What I failed to do was note that the reviewer put straight up butter into the pan to get it to come out.  What I also failed to do was take into consideration the 10-cup capacity and the 12-cup recipe.

Oops.

So. After the extra two cups billowed out and snuck down the side of the pan, I thought, hey, I bet I can still save this.  No one will look at the bottom of the cake once I invert it onto a beautiful cake stand! 

The title of this post is “Key Lime Cakeballs” – you can see where this is going, right?

I couldn’t get the cake out of the pan. It wouldn’t even budge.  I started to worry and Justin (my amazing husband) said: Hey, why not just make cake balls? You can do that, right?  Except I had never successfully been able to coat the cakeballs.  No time like the present to learn!  So he looked into the correct way to do the coating (I had not been adding shortening to my melted chocolate chips) and I figured out a way to make the balls.  Somehow the cumulation of everyone in the family working together – me to bake, my father-in-law to buy chocolate chips, and my husband to think outside of the box – we ended up with some of the tastiest cake balls I’ve ever had.  And since they’re picky and strange and I’ve never seen anything like it… I decided to post the recipe for you.  Enjoy!

Key lime cake balls with blue-green sprinkles!

Key Lime Cakeballs
(adapted from this recipe)

Cake:
1 cup softened salted butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon key lime zest
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice

Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
water, as needed

Candy coating:
2 packages Nestle white chocolate chips
5 tbsp shortening

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Mix butter and shortening in large bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, until just blended.
  5. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/3 of the milk, and repeat until both are fully incorporated into the butter mixture.
  6. Stir in vanilla, key lime zest and key lime juice.
  7. Stick your finger in and take a taste because mmm, mmm, mmm!
  8. Bake at 325 until a toothpick comes out clean.  If you bake it in a tube pan (which might be easiest) it will take around 1.5 hours… start testing it at around the 1 hour mark.
  9. Let cool about 15 minutes in pan, then dump it out and crumble it up so it will cool faster. I just put it in a huge bowl and took a sharp knife to the chunks that I had scooped out.
  10. While the cake is cooling prepare the frosting.  Mix powdered sugar, lime juice and vanilla extract, adding water very slowly until you get sort of a runny glaze.
  11. Mix the glaze in with the chopped/crumbled cake until well combined.
  12. Create balls! I used gloves.  I got a lot. Probably around 5 dozen, just depends on what size you use.  Put them on parchment paper or some sort of baking mat so they don’t stick to stuff.
  13. Put balls in the freezer to let them firm up a bit.
  14. While balls are freezing, grab your double broiler (or your glass bowl over a saucepan with water in it) and dump in the chips and shortening.  Mix on medium heat until everything is good and melty.  Do not boil!! Once it’s melted, it’s good enough. If it starts to get firm, heat it back up until it’s thin.  Trust me.  Turn off the heat, but keep the pan on the hot burner if you can do so easily.  I did, and I think it helped keep the chocolate coating warm.
  15. Take balls out of the freezer. Make sure that you have a place to put them once they are coated.  Think parchment paper or baking mat.  Don’t think mouth – that will only work the first dozen times, then it gets more difficult.
  16. Drop the balls one at a time into the warm candy coating.  Here you really need to do what works for you personally… here is what I did: Drop ball in candy coating. Use spoon to cover the ball with candy coating, then pick up the ball out of the candy coating with the spoon and roll the ball onto the edge of a fork.  Shake the fork twice to get excess off. Wipe the bottom of the fork off with the spoon, then set the spoon upside down on the edge of the bowl so it can drip.  Carry the fork over to the parchment paper, setting the fork down on the parchment paper. Take a toothpick and slide it between the fork and the cakeball so it will gently roll the ball onto the parchment paper.  This was the only way I could get the cakeball not to have one side all goopy and gross looking.
  17. If desired, sprinkle a touch of green sprinkles on top of the cake ball.
  18. Eat at least 3 and enjoy.

What do you guys think? Does it sound good? It sure tasted good!