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Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcake Paradise

They taste as good as they look, trust me!
Who doesn't love cupcakes?  That's really what I want to know.  I, for one, am a huge fan of cupcakes--they're so cute, little, delicious, and easy to eat.  One of my favorite indulgences is a little cupcake cafe located on the Hudson River.  When I first learned of Yummee Cupcakes Cafe in New Windsor, New York, I wanted to visit.  When I heard one of their many selections of cupcakes was a red velvet cupcake, I knew I had to visit!  And when I visited, I wanted to keep visiting--the cupcakes are out of this world!





Located at 54 Quassaick Avenue
New Windsor, New York 12553
I think the whole concept of a cupcake cafe is a novel idea.  This little shop specializes in cupcakes but they also make and design cakes of different sizes and flavors.  And a huge bonus--all items on their menu are very reasonably priced.

If you're looking for a sweet treat for yourself or a loved one, you may want to swing by the Yummee Cupcakes Cafe.  You can get more information on their website or more frequent updates on their Facebook page.


Seriously, who doesn't love cupcakes??  Go buy yourself something sweet and indulge a little!


 Until Next Time,


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alternative Medicine: My First Trip to the Acupuncturist

If you asked me two years ago if I'd ever go to an acupuncturist for a treatment, I'd probably respond with:  "why would I?"  I guess I'd never really thought about going before, though I would have reason to go. 

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, a form of hyperthyroidism.  Up until my symptoms started, I never experienced any major health issues.  In fact, I received an award my Senior year of high school for perfect attendance--I just didn't get sick.  A month after I graduated from college, I developed intense symptoms that landed me in the local military health clinic trying to figure out what was going on.  To make a long story short, the doctor found my thyroid was overactive. 

I've never been a huge fan of taking medicine.  In the past, I would rather sleep off a headache than take Motrin to relieve the pain.  After my diagnosis, however, I pretty much resigned myself to taking medicine for the rest of my life to regulate my thyroid levels.  I would do sporadic research to try and figure out if there were alternative ways to treat my Graves Disease, but I was uncertain of the validity of the information I read and I moved on to other topics.  Lately, however, I have developed a stronger desire to learn about alternative ways to treat this health issue.  I strongly believe God has given us what we need in the food we eat to live a healthy life.  But don't get me wrong, I'm not going to jump off of my thyroid medication and stop seeing a doctor and expect that eating purely organic food would be a safe move.

One of my sisters went to an acupuncturist last year and returned with rave reviews about how great it was.  As a result, my mom decided to go to the same practice and also returned with great reviews.  With two glowing reviews from family members, I started to do a little more thinking and began conducting more research about how acupuncture can help ease the symptoms of Graves Disease.  I learned that acupuncture is used to treat a number of ailments and health issues including digestive, neurological, and respiratory issues.  My findings led me to one conclusion:  "What could it hurt?  I'll give it a try!"

I had my first acupuncture appointment a few days ago and it was a great experience.  The needles are really small--about the same size as a strand of hair.  I didn't have any pain when they pierced my skin, the most I felt was a slight pinching.  The best part is, I'm already noticing changes in my health!  One of the major changes I've noticed is that the size of my thyroid gland has reduced.  I have another appointment in a few days, and I'm really excited to see how my body continues to change and heal as a result.  Stay tuned!

Find an acupuncturist near you. 

**These are my personal experiences.  Please check with your health care provider before seeking any additional medical treatment**

Until Next Time,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My First German Potato Salad

Last weekend my sister and brother-in-law took me and my mom up to the Catskills in New York to experience the food at a restaurant they discovered a couple of years ago.  They always do such a good job of discovering new places to visit and sharing them with others.  After we took the first bite, my mom and I were very grateful they shared their discovery.  

We sat down to eat at Hartmann's Kaffeehaus, a quaint German restaurant that's tucked away in Round Top, New York.  The restaurant is owned and run by a German family and they serve authentic German cuisine.  I started off my meal with a bowl of pumpkin spice soup, followed by a delicious bratwurst platter, and topped off with a tasty pastry for dessert.  But the highlight of my meal was the side dish to my bratwurst platter, the German potato salad.  That may have been the best potato salad I have ever eaten (second to my mom's, of course!).  Needless to say, the re-occurring topic of conversation for the day was the German potato salad.  I wish I had the courage to ask for the recipe.  I don't know if they would've given it to me anyway.

This weekend, the German potato salad came up in conversation again.  So I petitioned my Facebook friends for a recipe.  Before I received a response, I located a recipe that received great reviews on AllRecipes.com so I went with that one.  And here's what I created...


My First Go at German Potato Salad
I think it turned out to be a pretty good dish.  I do think I need to do one thing differently next time.  The picture isn't completely clear since I took it with my phone's camera, but I think I may have cooked the potatoes a couple of minutes too long so it turned out more like a German mashed potato salad.  Now I know.


The recipe is really straight forward:

For 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes; cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and chop.
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. Reserve bacon fat.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, water and vinegar to skillet and cook in reserved bacon fat over medium heat until dressing is thick.
  4. Add bacon, potatoes and green onions to skillet and stir until coated. Cook until heated and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
This recipe is from allrecipes.com

I hope yours turns out as tasty as mine!

Happy Cooking,


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Art of Frugality

So I have a confession.  I love to make budget worksheets and track my spending.  Okay, so that's not really a confession, right?  Well, here's the confession--I'm absolutely terrible with a credit card and the reason I have to make budget worksheets and track my spending is to prevent myself from living in debt.  Whew, there, I said it.  I'm not completely terrible with my credit card, but I do have the propensity to use it when I shouldn't.  I'm happy to announce that today my credit card balance reads: $0.00!!  Hallelujah!  It's truly a day for celebrating!  While this is not the first time my balance has read $0.00, it has certainly read more than I wish it had and for longer periods than I'd care to admit. While battling my poor credit card usage habits, I've done some learning and growing over the years. 

My mom always told me that if I use my credit card, I should make sure to pay it off at the end of the month.  Those "Mama always told me..." stories always have a way of appearing in my life.  My mom is almost always right about things like this--though I don't tell her that often enough (note to self-I should start telling her that more often).  The biggest thing I've learned in the art of frugality is to live within my means.  If you can't pay off your credit card by the end of the month, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're living beyond your means.  So you may be sitting at home thinking, okay Kirsten I have $4,000 charged to my credit card right now and I'd love  to take your advice and start paying off the total amount by the end of the month, but that's just not reasonable.  Trust me, I completely understand.  I recommend you pay what you can at the end of the month--at least the minimum payment but try to shoot for more than that.  I'll explain more about this in another article.  But until you have your credit card completely paid off, avoid using it at all costs!  This means you have to really budget what you're spending to keep from living beyond your means.

Frugally Yours,


                                                                            


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New to Fayetteville? Top 3 Recommended Adventure Trips

Moving to a new place is never easy.  It takes a while to get accustomed to new people, new surroundings, new weather conditions, and new traffic patterns.  One way to make the transition to a new location a little less daunting is to get out, explore, and find fun.
Fayetteville, North Carolina is known for being a big military town with a large population of its residents coming and going on a regular basis. 
Unfortunately, military towns don’t always have the best reputation for being the most exciting places to visit or live.  But there’s always an adventure to be found— sometimes it just takes a little digging to discover them.

If you’re new to Fayetteville, have hope, there are a lot of local adventure opportunities scattered all across Fayetteville; it’s just a matter of digging a little deeper to discover them. 
Here’s the list of the Top 3 Adventure Trips If You’re New to Fayetteville:
  1. Carver’s Falls Zip Line Tour- If you can handle heights and enjoy being outdoors, visit Carver’s Falls Zip Line Tour.  This tour takes you, literally, zipping from tree to tree across 8 zip lines and 3 canopy sky bridges.  Who would’ve thought a beautiful locale like Carver’s Falls could literally be in your backyard in Fayetteville?  Visit the Carver’s Falls Zip Line Tour website to find out more about this adventure.  You do have to make reservations prior to your trip, so plan accordingly.
  2. Jambbas Ranch Tour- If you are an animal lover or have children who love animals, you may want to visit Jambbas Ranch.  Jambbas Ranch is a working ranch, or a natural zoo, that raises buffaloes, elk, and even a bear.  Be prepared to spend about 90 minutes walking through the ranch and for the opportunity to feed some of the animals.  This is great for a family trip, and it’s open seven days a week!  Visit the Jambbas Ranch Tour website to find out more about this adventure.
  3. Cape Fear Botanical Garden- If you’re looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Fayetteville, you should stop in and check out the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.  While walking through the 72 acres of this serene and beautifully designed garden, you may think you’ve been transported to another place.  Visit the Cape Fear Botanical Garden website to learn more about this adventure.
This is a starting point for you to get out and explore.  Learning more about the new environment you’re in will make your move that much smoother and it will give you an inciting offer to have family and friends visit!   
Have you found any adventure opportunities in Fayetteville?  If so, share your discoveries in a comment!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Black Woman's Hair

As a black woman, hair has always been a topic of interest and frustration for me.  Ask almost any black woman how they feel about their hair and you may quickly learn that it can be the biggest source of pride or frustration for her.  So much time and effort is spent on a black woman's hair in the course of her life--I'm almost afraid to even begin to calculate how much time I've spent trying to "tame" my hair or researching ways to do it.  
 
I have friends from different walks of life and I believe hair is important to every woman. We all want to look good when we look in the mirror and we all want the objects of our affection to find us attractive; often times that starts with what our hair looks like.  

2 years old with hair puffs
My mom tells me I was born with a head full of hair and I believe her--we have pictures as evidence.  The worst part of growing up with a full head of thick hair was that I was also tender-headed.  As soon as a comb hit my scalp, I was in tears.  Just trying to comb my hair was torture.  I can't imagine what my mom went through trying to comb my hair with a little squirmy girl crying for her to stop.  I just remember it taking forever for her to do my hair!  Or at least it felt like forever when all I wanted to do was go outside and play.  Unfortunately, I didn't quite put two and two together that the more I went outside to play, the more frequently I would need to get my hair done. 

I've learned a lot about how to take care of my hair since I was younger.  Believe me, I am still learning.  I've been through relaxers, perms, braids, natural, curls, more braids, and back to natural.  Right now, I'm just over a year fully natural again and I'm enjoying it!  Instead of seeing my hair as something I need to battle or struggle with everyday, I've learned to see it as another opportunity to express myself.  
Stay tuned for future posts, I'll be sharing more about my hair journeys and things I'm trying and learning.


Until Next Time!

What have you experienced with your hair?  Share with a comment below! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Adventure Has Begun...Sort Of

Our Wedding Day
In January 2011, I walked down the aisle to join the love of my life where we both made vows to one another before God and said "I Do."  And so the adventure of being a new housewife has begun--or at least one would think it.  
 
My adventure was postponed.  We knew it would be.  My handsome husband and I are both serving in the Army and are stationed in different places; we've been in different places for our entire careers in the military, thus far.  It hasn't been easy and we're both looking forward to finally sharing our lives together--in the same place!  It's 1 April and here I am, 611.66 miles away from my love and I wish I could shout "April Fools!" on this one, but I can't.  Fortunately, there's a light at the end of the tunnel!  Only three weeks until I transition out of the Army and move in with my husband.  Three weeks until my adventure truly begins!

Now, some of you may be wondering why I'm calling it an "adventure" and why I need to prepare for said "adventure."  Well, until now, I've never been married, I've never had anyone else to take care of (aside from myself), I've rarely spent long periods of time in my home (I'm in the Army, remember), and I've never envisioned myself as a "housewife."  But this is my reality.  I'm now married, I have a husband to take care of, I will spend longer periods in my home, and I'm going to be a housewife--at least for a few months.  We will spend less than a year in this next location and the short time frame will not allow me fully settle into a new job.  After much prayer and contemplation, I'm opting to spend time learning how to be a wife.  And boy do I have a lot of learning to do!

I'm not entering marriage completely unprepared or "undomesticated."  I love cooking, baking, and trying recipes.  I also love decorating and interior design.  But I realize there's a lot more to being a wife than cooking and decorating--no matter what TV and movies portray. 
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