Carrot Cake made from Scratch

Published April 7, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

Cake

1 cup pecans (4 ounces)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

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Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
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  5. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
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  7. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes.
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  9. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
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  11. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners’ sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  12. Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour. Slice and serve.

carrot cake

I love carrot cake but honestly it seemed like to much work to make from scratch and I was completely right way to much work but it tasted so amazing! To begin with I did not use pecans because my family does not like them. Next I have to shredded the pound of carrots by hand. It took me a half an hour and my wrist hurt so bad. Now mixing all the ingredients was easy but the carrot part was not. The cake was easy and simple of you just follow the directions.

Hope you try it!

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My Version of Strawberry Shortcake!

Published April 7, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

heart emoticon STRAWBERRY DESSERT heart emoticon

Serve with whipped cream on top!

Ingredients:
2 Betty Crocker Sugar cookie mixes
16 ounces softened cream cheese
2 cups sugar
1 to 2 cups whipped cream or cool whip
2 or 3 lbs. strawberries washed and sliced
Strawberry glaze – you can buy it in jars, box mixes or make it using cornstarch
Whipped Cream for topping

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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare the cookie mixes with the butter and egg as the directions on the bags say to. Spread in a Texas sheet cake pan (like 10×15 I think) to make the crust. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Mix softened cream cheese and sugar with hand mixer until well blended. Then fold in the whipped cream or cool whip.

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When cookie crust is done and slightly cooled spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust.

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Then mix strawberries with glaze of your choice (or even just mix strawberries with sugar and let sit overnight in fridge and they would work) and pour the mixture over the top and chill for about four hours or more.

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Serve with whipped cream on top!
Enjoy!

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My family loves strawberry shortcake but we get tired of trying the same thing over and over. So I found this recipe on Facebook and we had to try it. It was so easy to make too. It took about two hours with mixing everything together and baking and cooling but it wasn’t a hard task. This was such a hit with my family for today. I think that my family ate almost 3/4 by the time we got home. It does make a lot and I do suggest to grease the pan even though the cookie mixes say to put on an ungreased pan. It also says to use 2-3 pounds of strawberries I would go more for four pounds that way the strawberries cover inch of the icing on top of the cookie once it is cooked.

Hope you try it!

Digital Mindness

Published April 3, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

I know that people feel like the internet has taken over people’s lives. We live by it, and we can’t go without checking our social medias or even pinning something on pinterest. It has even gotten to the point that people share what they are cooking or even eating for dinner on the internet. When it comes to the internet, I used to be very bad. I was always online and I was always checking such things like Facebook, instagram, and even pinterest. Then my son came and I cut back significantly, just so my attention was on him. Although I do still find myself from time to time when I am on my computer doing homework to click another tab and open Facebook. In the article I read Simplify the Internet by Leo Babauta,http://zenhabits.net/unline/  he tells use to use social media sparingly if we can’t cut it out completely. So that is something I have been trying to do. It has actually helped. I do check it more than I probably should but it does not become my main focus and I am able to complete homework quicker than I used to when I was getting distracted by the internet.

It is hard sometimes to put the internet away right? We may miss something, but have you ever thought you are missing something from the real world. In the article What Happened When Teens Try to Disconnect From Tech For Three Days by Katrina Schwartz http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/06/turned-off-how-teens-respond-to-a-no-tech-challenge/ the students were talking about how it was actually eye-opening to have all technology taken away. They were able to have conversations with friends without interruption and even accomplish homework in a quicker time. It seems that when we are with family everyone is on their phone and not enjoying each others company like it used to be. My husband is guilty of this sometimes and I always get on him about it. It doesn’t always help but sometimes it does. The hard thing is that sometimes people use social media to keep in touch with family who do not live near by. I know that I use it for that sometimes.

Today in this society people need to learn that there can be both using the internet and our devices and enjoying the real world. We can gain from both but we have to learn when the limit is enough. So lets enjoy our families, and the life that we have but lets also learn about new and exciting things from the internet. Lets keep in touch with people who we have forgotten or lost touch with. We can use the internet and our devices for good, but we have to learn what is right and what is wrong.

4461019149_448d2df8ee_o cell phones

Who Knew the Generation of Teenagers Can Help With Digital Activism?

Published March 28, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

After reading all of the articles on digital activism and doing some research on my own, I realized that the generation of teenagers that are around today are the best bet to get digital activism out there. They are the best bet to let people know that they are beautiful in their own skin and no matter what others tell them about themselves they are amazing just the way they are. I know cheesy right I just quoted Bruno Mars, but he is right we should all know what we are amazing just the way were are. We need to let those people who are the victims of bullying that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and going the route to end it all is not okay. Digital activism is also out there to get world out about hunger, or even poverty that is in out in our world today. We all have seen that commercial, the one where the kids are on there talking about solving poverty and even world hunger by taking baby steps which could lead to bigger steps. They are absolutely right! It takes one person to bring awareness to something and their message to be clear as day and your message is out in the world for people to see.

Social Media has become the best tool available out there for teens to get there word out there. When researching a teen nominee for activisim I came across a girl who has an instagram. Her moto STAY STRONG. She will post pictures of inspiring quotes for people to read when they are having a bad day. https://instagram.com/project_bully_free_zone She is doing something that I am sure many teens out there wish they had the courage to do it. Well I am here to tell if she can do it so can you! She was not the only teen that made thtat list of nominations. There were plenty more who decide it was their turn to take a stand.

We as adults are not powerless either. We need to teach our children to be kind to everyone they meet. We also need to let them know it is not okay to judge someone by their appearance or the life they live. It is just like that old saying never judge a book by its cover. We do not know the demons someone is fighting behind closed doors. It is our time as a society to but a plan in action and run with it, just like those teens did. So take the time to use your 140 words on twitter to let someone know they are special or can make a difference in the world. Use just one status on facebook to let people know that being different is okay. We can even use instagram just like the young lady I choose to research and post a positive picture or even quote.

Everyone should listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS_TKKeucpQ

HERE IS TO OUR GENERATION, THE TEENAGE GENERATION AND EVEN OUR CHILDREN’S GENERATION TO CHANGE THE WORLD!!

Beauty change It starts with you

Mini Nilla Wafer Cheesecakes

Published March 27, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

Mini Nilla Wafer Cheesecakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 8-ounce packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature!!!
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Dash of lemon zest
  • Mini Nilla Wafers (make sure these are the regular kind, not the reduced fat kind otherwise the wafers will actually float up to the top!)
  • 1 Can cherry pie filling

Preparation:

  1. Make sure your cream cheese is softened to room temperature. If it’s not, the batch will come out clumpy!  You may even pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds if you’re impatient like me   🙂
  2. Mix together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth. (Use an electric mixer – I’ve messed these up before trying to do it by hand. The cream cheese is tough to get completely smooth if you’re just using elbow grease.)
  3. Line up mini baking cups and place a mini Nilla Wafer face-up inside each one.
  4. Scoop mixture onto wafer, filling cup 3/4 full.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  6. Refrigerate. Once chilled, scoop cherry pie filling atop each mini cheesecake. Chill again.

Enjoy!

I know what you are thinking, another cheesecake but these cheesecakes were a little different from the others I made. I made these because I never tried to make a mini version or without graham cracker crusts. We made these for a family occasion and we made at least a hundred. Even though they are little they are a bit time-consuming. When I was buying ingredients I did exactly like the recipe said, I bought low-fat cream cheese and mini nilla wafers and made sure they were the regular kind. Although I am thinking that using the low-fat cream cheese was a wrong choice. I mixed all of the ingredients together like the preparation part said too, but I think the low-fat cream cheese made it super runny. After I made the mixture I place the mini cupcake papers in the pan and placed one mini nilla wafer in each spot. I poured the runny mixture into the mini cupcake pan. I did everything like the recipe said, but my nilla wafer’s still rose to the top on a couple of the ones I did. I am not sure where I went wrong but none the less they turned out amazing and the family ate every single one of them. The recipe says to put cherries on top but we also used caramel. The caramel was so much better. These are a definite thing to make again but I will need to play with the recipe a bit.

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Who are You Online? Friend or Foe? Bully or Savior?

Published March 19, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

Nowadays everyone is on social media and everyone posts things about their life. Is that a good thing? Sometimes the things we post have no affect on others but other things that we post have a huge impact on others lives. Being on social media we want to post what we ate the night before, where we have been and what we want out of life. It all started with MySpace when we were younger and now it has moved to things such as twitter, Facebook, and even instagram. We use these sources to keep up with family who live in different states or even the friends who we haven’t seen in months. Instead of calling people it is easier to Facebook, or tweet people. The response is almost instant. As a society we should think about the consequences about the things we post, such things as pictures of our children or even our daily lives. These are things that lead people to track you down and use them against and could even possibly hurt you. In the article “Who Are You Online?” http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/guest-post-who-are-you-online-considering-issues-of-web-identity/?smid=tw-share&_r=0 the author talks out if someone were to google you what would they find, so I tried it. I googled Ashley Melvin North Platte, NE. The things that came up amazed me. Nothing was bad but there were things that I didn’t even realize you could still find. There was an obituary that I was listed in for my husband’s grandfather who passed away two years ago. That was one of the first things that popped up in my google search. The next thing that popped up was a link to my twitter and then my Facebook. The last thing I found was the meritpages for Chadron State College. This was kind of interesting because in realizing that all of this stuff really is out there for everyone to see kind of scares me. I make sure all of my privacy settings are fully blocked but who knows someone could sneak around them and use information against me. It makes me think that I should be very careful about the things I post.

If I were to have a criminal record or any charges a potential employer could easily find that out about me. Even looking at my Facebook and twitter I should be careful because I am sure there is always someone out there to judge what I have done or am doing now. These are things that I should be thinking about with graduation coming up and the chance of getting a teaching job. The even scarier thing about digital citizenship is the way you talk and treat people online. Are you a friend or foe? Are you a bully or savior? When you talk bad to people and treat them horribly you become a bully on social media for the whole world to see. Is that how you want to be remembered? The other article that has caught my eye is “7 Ways to Prevent Cyberbullying”. http://www.teachthought.com/culture/7-ways-to-prevent-cyberbullying/ This article really hits home because my family has experienced some hard times  with bullying and loosing people to suicide. We as a society and even parents should teach our children that it is okay not to bully someone to make themselves feel better. We need to give them all the facts about what bullying does and if someone is pushed to far the end result could be suicide.

This all leads to digital citizenship. The things we post online can hurt ourselves as well as other around us. People can physically attack you for the things you post or the way you look in a photo. They can call you fat or you are to skinny or even to ugly but their opinion should not matter. Just make sure the things you post on social  media and what you leave for your digital citizenship will follow you for the rest of your life.

Here is a youtube video that has helped my brother and his friends through some things. I hope it helps someone else who is struggling with being bullied, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkaxbaX1WAE

1506461_10202384427669467_1825654186_nThis is how I want people to know me, as a mother, a wife, as a student and as a person who cares for people in general. I also want to be remembered as someone who has a heart of gold and will help anyone in need! This is what I want my digital citizenship to be!

Pretzel Almond Bark

Published March 18, 2015 by ashleymelvin34

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I decide to take a break last week from my independent learning project and have fun with the family. So this week I decided to make pretzels with almond bark. They seem simple to make right? That is what I thought so too, I was definitely wrong. The ingredients needed for this are simple. You need a bag of pretzels, I used the mini ones, a package of almond bark, you can do chocolate or the white like I did, and you will need caramel or stuff to make your own caramel. To first start this process you need to get the almond bark into a bowl and get it melting. I did this in the microwave to make it quicker but you can also do it in a double boiler. Both work just as well as the other. I broke the bar in half and put one half in the bowl to start with. I started it at two minutes took it out and stirred it with a whisk. I then put it back in for another minute and did the same thing over and over until it was completely melted. Then you take parchment paper and put it on the counter. You begin making little circles of the almond bark. Do one circle at a time so it does not harden. Once you have you circle of almond bark you then place two to three pretzels on top of the almond bark. You repeat this until all of the almond bark is gone. Once my first half was gone I did the same with the second half and did the same steps. This recipe also called for caramel to drizzle on the top but as you can see from my picture I failed at the caramel and did not put it on my bark. You are supposed to take the caramel squares and melt them down. I was not sure how to do this, so I called my dad. I tried on the stove and it burned. I then tried in the microwave and lost a bowl and whisk because the caramel ceased up and there was no getting it out of my bowl or off my whisk. My dad failed to tell me it wouldn’t work like that in the microwave. Oh well you live and learn. They were just as good without the caramel but I am sure if I tried to make my own caramel sauce it would have worked.

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