Monthly Archives: May 2014

Project Give: Goodies For Vets (Mocha Cupcakes)

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Look at those amazing swirls! I love piping frosting/icing for some strange reason. Decorating cupcakes is my calling. I made chocolate cupcakes spiked with expresso powder and topped it off with mocha icing. The vets were in coffee heaven. Chocolate cupcakes always taste better with expresso powder. Somehow, it brings out the chocolate flavor more. The mocha icing is legit. It’s a regular icing recipe with cocoa powder and some coffee. It’s delicious! 🙂 Now…if you know veterans or have been around them long enough, you’ll understand why I needed to spike the chocolate with expresso powder. All of the vets I volunteer with at the hospital drink their coffee black. It’s pretty much like tar. I poured myself barely half a cup and added three packets of sugar and cream and it was STILL too bitter for me. I was a notorious coffee drinker during my college years but I don’t drink it too often anymore. The coffee they make really hits you hard. I was telling them it could wake the dead and all I got was “that’s how we like our coffee! Strong and black!” Well….alrighty then. What do I say to that?

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been busy with work and standing for long makes me super tired so I haven’t been motivated to blog. I would like to share that one of the Gold Star families wrote back to me saying they received my card which is awesome! I can’t wait to do more to help them.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

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Project Give: Goodies For Vets (Oatmeal Cookies)

It’s cookie time! ^_^ The vets at the hospital are pretty picky about what I bring in. Usually the number one request is cookies because old men prefer cookies. I don’t know what old men prefer since I’m not an old man but that’s what I was told. I try to make other stuff too but they always request cookies so oatmeal cookies it is! I made a few batches at work the other day and they were delish. I ended up making some yesterday and bringing them in for the vets today. They gobbled them up like nobody’s business.
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Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from allrecipes)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups quick oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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– preheat oven to 375 degrees
– in a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars
– add in eggs one at a time and stir to combine
– add salt, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix (I added more cinnamon because I like it stronger)
– stir in the oats
– add flour one cup at a time and mix just until combined
– use a ice cream scoop and scoop dough onto a silpat lined baking sheet
– bake for 10-12 minutes
– let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes and enjoy!
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Technically these are supposed to be soft oatmeal cookies but I always like a hard exterior and soft interior texture. If you want them soft, 8 minutes should be good if you have a good working oven. My oven isn’t too great so it takes me about 10-12 minutes to get that golden brown exterior and have a crunchy outside but soft inside. These are delicious with a glass of milk! 🙂 They’re one of the best oatmeal cookies I’ve made so far. Enjoy em!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Project Give: Operation Bright

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Photo courtesy of Photobucket. I googled it and found this picture.

Memorial Day is a week from today. I feel as though it’s creeping up on me. To some people, Memorial Day is just another day where they don’t have to go to work or they get to have a bbq. To me, Memorial Day is always special. Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veteran’s Day are all holidays that hit close to home. When people ask me why I would willing run a project like Project Give, I usually ask them why I wouldn’t?
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I suppose you don’t really know the hardships of war until it hits close to home. I started a category for Project Give called Operation Bright. It is basically a way to brighten someone’s day. The first item on my list was letters to Gold Star families. When the big bro deployed with 2/7 to Afghanistan in 2008, they had over 20 KIA and many others wounded. And of the marines that came home and weren’t physically injured, they lost 4 (that I know of) to suicide. One is already too many. As I sit at my desk writing these letters, the true meaning of Memorial Day creeps up on me. It’s not about the sales at the mall, the bbqs, or having a day free of work. It’s about honoring all those that gave their lives for our freedom. I would like to dedicate this post to all the marines of 2/7 past and present. Especially to those beautiful angels who didn’t make it back home. I could only hope that my letters to the families would lift their spirits in knowing that their sons are not forgotten. It’s the little things that count.

Please remember these following angels this Memorial Day. These marines left behind families. Some left behind wives, fiances, and girlfriends. Some left behind children who will never get the chance to know who their daddy was. The * indicates that I have written to their family.
Capt Eric D. Terhune (D Ring)*
Capt Garrett Lawton
Capt Trevor J. Yurista
Sgt Matthew E. Mendoza (Stew)*
LCpl Andrew F. Whitacre (Whit)
Sgt Michael T. Washington
Cpl Layton B. Crass
PFC Michael R. Patton
PFC Dawid Pietrek
HA Dustin K. Burnett*
SSgt Christopher D. Strickland
SSgt Edgar Heretta
PFC Ivan I. Wilson*
LCpl Juan Lopez Castaneda
Cpl Anthony G. Mihalo
LCpl Jacob J. Toves
Sgt Jerome C. Bell, Jr.*
Cpl Jason A. Karella
LCpl San Sim
SPC Deon D. Taylor
Cpl Adrian Robles*

– Jeremie Ross – Ufrano Rios-Jimenez – Elias Reyes – Clay Hunt –

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Guest Post from Jess Loves This Life

I haven’t gotten around to blogging much since I started training for my new job. My feet still kinda hurt from standing so long since I wasn’t used to it. So this is a guest post from Jessica of Jess Loves This Life.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Hey there! Jess here from Jess Loves This Life. It’s been ridiculously hot here in So Cal all week, so today I’ll be sharing an easy, delicious, and refreshing dessert with you all! Raspberry chocolate mousse is usually my go to when we’re having company over because I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate?? If the weather keeps getting hotter, I might switch to only eating this. All chocolate diet!

Here’s what you need (makes 4):
-Half a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
-3 eggs
-Handful of raspberries
-Coconut shavings for garnishing

Here’s what you do:
1. In a blender, pulse your chocolate chips until all the chips are completely crushed. Place in a bowl and add a splash of water and melt in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Every 30 seconds, take out your chocolate and stir until completely melted.
2. In 2 bowls, separate your egg yolks and egg whites. 
3. Add your chocolate to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix together until the yolks have blended in with the chocolate.
4. For your egg whites, whip them with a hand mixer until you have a mountain of egg white foam.
5. Slowly add the egg whites to the bowl with the chocolate and egg yolks, and gently mix.
6. Grab your serving bowl (I used a ramekin) and add a handful of crushed raspberries at the bottom. Add the chocolate mixture on top, and refrigerate for an hour and a half.
7. Pull out of the fridge, and top with more raspberries and coconut shavings (or any other toppings really!)

So easy, SO YUMMY! Enjoy!!

Volunteering VA hospital #9

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Have any of you ever found “family” where you least expect it? I expected to meet people who would inspire me beyond my wildest dreams but I didn’t expect to meet people who became my second family. One of the things about volunteering is passion. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you should probably stop doing it. I go into the hospital and volunteer every week but it’s not really volunteering. I feel as if I’m going to visit family or just have a few good laughs. The veterans that I’ve met here will stay with me for the rest of my life no matter where life takes us. They’re like father figures and always look out for me. They give me advice, they encourage me to pursue my dreams, and they inspire me to be as great as they are.

Sadly, a lot of the vets at the hospital aren’t married and live alone. Most of them have children but they’re all grown up and have moved out. One of the vets that I usually talk to always says I remind him of his daughter. He’s always looking out for me and if someone says something he’ll be the first to get in their face. He always tells me these crazy stories and makes me laugh and I can talk to him about things that I wouldn’t be able to tell my dad. I call him the godfather because he dresses like a gangster, bandana, sunglasses, and all. He brought me avocados and a rose today. His neighbor has a avocado tree so he said he’d bring me some but he didn’t show up a few times. I kept giving him a hard time for it (because that’s how we are) and he went and bought me some. He also bought me a rose and said that it was for putting up with them all the time because a lot of them don’t have family and live alone so they come to the hospital and it’s like a family. He also thanked me for feeding them. I thought it was really nice of him. I was really surprised to be so appreciated. He laughed and said he comes to the hospital because I’m always happy to see him. The rose died a little because it was so hot today.

This particular veteran has had a series of heart problems and heart attacks. He’s due for a super risky operation soon so if you could pray for him and send him your thoughts I would really appreciate it. He’s like my second father and I just wish it was over and done with. I don’t know what I would do if he didn’t make it. I’ll just leave it at that.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Project Give: Baking For Veterans (Blueberry Pancake Bites)

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It’s Saturday! Only it really doesn’t feel like Saturday. Tomorrow will be a big day since my mama has all these things planned. I was inspired to go blueberry picking because Kara posted a recipe for blueberry pancake bites. I know, I’m such a sucker for food. I love blueberries. I will only eat a blueberry muffin. They are the best. End of story! 🙂 I brought some to the hospital with me and I also brought some syrup. I brought regular pancake syrup and maple syrup with cinnamon. I suppose you could eat em by themselves but they don’t taste like much.

Blueberry Pancake Bites
your favorite pancake recipe
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
turbinado sugar (optional)

– preheat oven to 350 degrees
– make your favorite pancake recipe
– mix the blueberries with the flour until all berries are coated
– add blueberries to pancake mixture and stir just so it’s mixed. Do not over mix or the blueberries will break
– line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and fill each liner about 2/3 with the mixture
– sprinkle turbinado sugar on top if you want a crunchy top (it’s best if you eat them the same day if you sprinkle them with sugar)
– bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes
– let cool for about 30 minutes and enjoy with warm syrup

I always use liners because I’m lazy and I don’t want to clean my muffin tin. These were so delicious with the juicy blueberries. You can definitely taste the difference between these blueberries and the store bought blueberries. The ones sold around my area just don’t compare to the freshly picked ones. They were so good and the vets loved them. They like to be impressed once in a while and they were intrigued when I combined pancakes with blueberries with muffins. Technically I told them they were blueberry pancake bites but I was ignored. Blueberry muffins…well, who am I to argue with a bunch of seasoned vets?

My volunteering has been going really well. I volunteered over 130 hours so far. I got a bit heated yesterday because I felt like the RNs working were being so disrespectful to the vet I was escorting. I was asked to escort a patient back to his ward. No problem. I took him to the front desk also known as the nurses station and let them know the patient was back. No problem. I was asked to escort him to his room. Problem. The house keeping lady in there said I had to take the patient up to the front desk. I told her that I did and they asked me to bring him to his room. Apparently I’m not allowed to do that so I said okay, and took the patient back to the nurses station. That’s when everything went south. I asked the RN working at the desk to find a nurse to escort the patient to his room. His room was literally 10 steps away from the station. The RN ended up telling the receptionist who then called someone on the phone. I waited there for about 10 minutes and no one showed up. I’m giving the RN crap because he could have easily taken the vet to his room. Again, it was like 10 steps away. So then the RN tells me oh you can just leave him there. REALLY?!?! That comment really pissed me off. The vet said it was fine but I was so pissed on his behalf. I mean really, how would you feel if you were in a hospital getting treatment and the RN tells your escort to “just leave you there.” I know I wouldn’t want to be left anywhere and I told the veteran that I wasn’t going to leave him there because that is so messed up. He just laughed and said it was no biggie. Seriously, he’s a saint. If I was in the wheelchair all hell would have broke loose. Some people need a good kick in the behind for their bedside manner or should I say lack there of.

Anyway, I hope everyone has an awesome Mother’s Day weekend! The winner to the giveaway will be posted tomorrow. Sleep tight!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina