JavaCupcake 1st Annual Reader Survey

JavaCupcake 1st Annual Reader Survery
This January, I will be entering my 7th year of sharing my life and recipes here at JavaCupcake! I’ve grown so much over the last 5 years as a blogger, recipe developer, story teller and photographer and now am ready to hear what you think!

So I’m excited to bring you the JavaCupcake 1st Annual Reader Survey! Below you’ll find a series of questions intended to get valuable feedback from the most important part of JavaCupcake… You. The Readers!

Please answer them honestly. I’m looking for both positive and constructive answers. You are why I blog. Your loyalty to me as a blogger and your pure love for baking are what keeps me going!

So THANK YOU for being a reader of JavaCupcake and THANK YOU for participating in this survey!

PS… There’s a little thank you gift at the end of the survey!

Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake

Decadent red velvet cake filled with a whipped cream cheese filling surrounded by a rich chocolate fudge frosting adorned with mocha macarons make this cake an extravagant dessert fit for any special occasion!

Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake | JavaCupcake.com

A couple months ago, my friend Rachel of the fashion and lifestyle blog Glitter & Bow asked me to make a cake for her friends birthday.  But, not just any cake… it had to be a very special cake.

Rachel and I discussed several options, but decided on a Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake.  Red velvet and cream cheese go perfectly together inside the cake, but to tie in the macarons, we went with a chocolate fudge frosting.

Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake | JavaCupcake.com Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake | JavaCupcake.com

Deliciously sinful in every bite… or so I was told.

Since the cake was for a party, I couldn’t really cut into it for a photo for this post, so I tried to take a picture of the cake before I frosted it to give you an idea of how the inside looks.

Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake | JavaCupcake.com

The birthday girl sweetly emailed me after the party and said the cake was delicious and she was so very thankful I made it for her.  I only wish I could have had a slice of the cake myself!

Happy Baking!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Red Velvet Mocha Macaron Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1 cake
Ingredients
Red Velvet Cake
  • 8Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 Tbsp unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbsp liquid red food coloring mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp distilled white vinegar
Whipped Cream Cheese Filling
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
  • 12Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1lb package plus 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4oz semi-sweet bakers chocolate
Mocha Macarons
Instructions
Red Velvet Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease & flour 2 9-in round cake pans.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 3 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs and mix well after each addition. Cream again for 1 more minute.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, water, vanilla and red liquid coloring until it has become a thick paste.
  4. Add this mixture to the bowl of the mixer and mix until completely combined. Scrape the bowl down to make sure all the batter has been colored red.
  5. Combine the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add half the buttermilk to the batter and mix until combined, the mixture will look grainy and curdled. Add half the flour and mix until combined. Repeat this with the remaining buttermilk and flour.
  6. Add the baking soda and vinegar and beat for 2 minutes or until the mixture is completely smooth and uniform.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Wrap the cake layers in plastic and freeze until firm or ready to use.
Whipped Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and continue whipping until incorporated.
  2. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the whipping cream and whip until incorporated. Turn the mixer to high speed and whip until light, fluffy and smooth.
  3. Chill for at least an hour or until ready to use.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
  1. Using a double boiler, gently melt the chocolate. Set aside to slightly cool.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. While beating, sift together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar.
  3. Pour the cooled, melted chocolate into the butter and mix until incorporated.
  4. One cup at a time, add the powdered sugar and cocoa to the butter beating well after each addition.
  5. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
  6. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and beat the frosting on high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Mocha Macarons
  1. Use THIS RECIPE to make the macarons and filling. Instead of making mini macarons like the recipe, use a 1½in circle template to make your macarons.
Assembly
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake plate or stand, flat side down. Spread whipped cream cheese filling evenly over the top of the cake leaving a ½in border of unfrosted cake on the edges. . Gently place the second cake layer, flat side up, on top of the filling and press gently until the filling reaches the edges. Chill cake for 20 minutes to set.
  2. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting to the entire outside of the cake. Freeze/chill the cake again for 20-30 minutes or until the frosting is firm.
  3. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the outside of the cake. Use a bench scraper to create a flat surface of frosting on the top of the cake. Use a small spatula to create a textured side/edges of the cake.
  4. Place macarons evenly on the top of the cake along the edges.
  5. Chill cake and macarons until ready to serve. Remove 20 minutes before serving.

Apple Fritters

The best way to enjoy these warm, chewy, crisp on the edge full of delicious flavor Apple Fritters is with a big cup of coffee and your loved ones!  Perfect for a cold fall Saturday!

Apple Fritters  | JavaCupcake.com

I have loved Apple Fritters me entire life.  When I was a child, every Sunday my parents would take my family to church and most times we’d stop after for “coffee & doughnuts” in the church hall.  If they were out of my favorite maple bars, my #2 was always an apple fritter.

Apple Fritters  | JavaCupcake.com

There’s just something about the crisp pointy edges, sweet glaze on top and the juicy apples in the center of the chewy dough that I couldn’t get enough of.   And in the town I grew up in there were several local bakeries that whipped up these fritters every day so I was never without one! Unfortunately, most of those bakeries have closed and a hot, fresh fritter is hard to find now a days.

Apple Fritters  | JavaCupcake.com

Until I came to Germany.  Apple Fritters are easily found during apple season here and I’ve fallen in love with them again!  So much that I decided it was time to try making them myself at home!  When I scored a big bag of local German apples for only 2 Euro, I knew it was a sign to make me some Apple Fritters!

Now, the process was long and there were a lot of steps, but let me tell you… it WAS WORTH THE EFFORT!  I’m already planning the next time I’m going to make these.  Seriously, they are so good.

Apple Fritters  | JavaCupcake.com

Soft in the middle and slightly chewy.  Juicy apples.  Crisp edges.  Sweet glaze.  You can’t ask for anything more in an apple fritter.

Well, except maybe MORE FRITTERS please!

Enjoy!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Apple Fritters
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: doughnut, breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Dough
  • ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast (2¼tsp)
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Apples
  • 6 small/medium apples
  • 3Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Glaze
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1tsp vanilla
Frying
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Thermometer
  • Spider spatula (Asian style wire spoon)
Instructions
Dough
  1. Whisk together the yeast, sugar, 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Fit the dough hook onto the mixer.
  2. With the mixer on low, pour in the room temperature milk until combined. Add the eggs and continue mixing until incorporated. Do your best to get as much of the dough mixed together to form a ball. It's okay if it's not all together, you can knead it in the next step.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of flour on your work surface and roll out the dough ball. Knead the dough a few times until the ball is smooth and everything has been incorporated.
  4. Add one tablespoon of butter to the dough and knead until incorporated. Repeat until all the butter has been added.
  5. Lightly butter a glass bowl and turn the dough out into it. Flip the dough a few times in the bowl to coat with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubles in size This should take an hour or two.
Apples
  1. Peel, core and cut the apples into small chunks. Place the prepared apples in a bowl and toss in the lemon juice.
  2. In a medium pan over medium high heat, melt and cook the butter until it browns and smells nutty. Add the apples and toss to coat. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the apples and stir. Cook on medium high until just tender. Add the vingear and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Assemble the Dough
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. Roll the dough out into a long rectangle about ½in thick.
  3. Spread ¾ of the apple over the dough. Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough away from you in a tight spiral to create a log. Turn the dough 90 degrees and press to flatten. Spread the remaining apples over the dough. Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough away from you in a tight spiral. NOTE: Don't worry if the apples squeeze out, just shove them back in where you can!
  4. Roll the dough out into another rectangle about ½in thick. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces.
  5. Place a piece in your hand and pull each corner up into the center creating a rough ball. Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and allow the dough to almost double in size. Make sure the dough rises in a warm place.
Glaze
  1. Just before you're ready to begin frying the fritters, prepare the glaze.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. You'll want a slightly thick and spreadable consistency. Stir often to prevent a crust forming on the top of the glaze.
Fry the Fritters
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven, heat 6 inches of vegetable oil to 360F degrees.
  2. While the oil is heating, prepare a cooling rack by lining it with paper towels.
  3. Once the heat is to temperature, gently lay 2 dough balls into the hot oil. The fritters sink at first but will float to the top. Cook about 60-90 seconds on each side. You want them to cook all the way through and have a dark brown color. Use the metal spider spatula to flip and remove the fritters. Place the cooked fritter on the paper towels to drain and cool. Allow the oil to come back to 360F degrees before frying another batch of fritters. Continue until all the dough has been fried. NOTE: After the first batch has been fried, cut into a fritter to check that the dough has been cooked through, if not then adjust the time you fry on each side accordingly.
Glaze the Fritters
  1. Once the fritters have cooled to the touch, brush the glaze generously over the top and side of each fritter. No need to flip them over, just make sure to get the sides that you can reach.
  2. Allow the glaze to harden before serving.
  3. Store in a non-airtight container for up to 3 days. They are best if eaten immediately.
Notes
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.

 

German Plum Cake

Ripe, sweet, juicy plums are one of my favorite fruits in the Fall. Here in Germany, the most delicious cake is make from these dark purple pitted fruits, Plum Cake!

German Plum Cake | JavaCupcake.com

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With less than a year left in Germany, I’m determined to learn to bake as many of my favorite treats that I’ve come to love in the last 3 1/2 years.  Cake rectangles topped with fruit and struessel are a German staple and one of my most favorite desserts.

In Germany, small purple plums are in season beginning in late summer and continue into the Fall.  They are an inexpensive fruit to purchase but they make one of the best and most unexpected additions to cake.

Before I lived in Germany, I had never seen plums in cake before and to be honest, it would have never crossed my mind to use them in a dessert.  Let me tell you though, this Plum Cake is one of my all time favorite treats in Germany.

German Plum Cake | JavaCupcake.com

Now, you may be thinking, “This doesn’t look like a cake?!”  And you’re right!  German cakes come in all shapes and sizes.  The base of is almost a bread like dough made with yeast and rolled out into a pan.  Topping the dough  is a whipped cream and quark mixture topped with rows of fresh plums and a streusel to die for.  Hmmmm… yeah.  This really is the quintessential fruit cake in Germany.  It’s a must have and now a must bake!

There are several names for this German Plum Cake including Pflaumenmuskuchen or Zwetschgendatschi.  When I go into the bakery, I just smile and point and say, “Pflaumenkuchen, bitte!”

German Plum Cake | JavaCupcake.com

I translated this recipe from a German baking book I picked up at the Kaufland here. It’s called Omas beste Kuchen by Parragon Books.  You can buy it on Amazon if you’re interested.  The book is full of traditional German cakes that can be found in all the bakeries here!

If you need help with measurements in the recipe, you can download my Baking Conversion Charts to help you with the conversions!

Enjoy!

German Plum Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: German
Serves: 16-20 slices
Ingredients
Crust
  • 175ml milk
  • 350g all-purpose flour
  • 21g yeast (3 envelopes/packets)
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp vanilla sugar
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 60g unsalted butter
Filling
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g granualted sugar
  • 500g quark
  • 2Tbsp corn starch
  • 100g heavy cream
  • 850g or about 30 small purple plums, pitted & quartered
Topping
  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, cold
  • powdered sugar, for garnish
Instructions
Crust
  1. Warm milk in a sauce pan to 100F-110F degrees and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast. Sprinkle the salt and half the sugar over the yeast. Add 50ml of the warm milk (about ¼ cup) and vigorously stir together with a wooden spoon. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to proof for about 10 minutes (may take longer if it's not warm enough).
  3. Using a stand mixer with the dough hook, place the dough into the bowl. Add the egg, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon zest and the butter and mix until combined. Add the remaining milk and mix until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Filling
  1. Wash and remove the pits of the plus. Slice the plums into quarters (4 pieces) and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until stiff.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until fluffy and the color has lightened. Mix in the corn starch and quark and stir until smooth.
  4. Gently fold the quark mixture into the whipped cream being gentle not to deflate the cream.
Topping
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cube the butter and add it to the mixture. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until crumbly.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C degrees.
  2. Grease a 30x40cm pan with butter and flour.
  3. Knead the proofed dough 3-4 times on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough to the size of the pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, pressing it into the sides and edges.
  4. Spread the filling evenly over the dough.
  5. Arrange the plums in rows on top of the filling.
  6. Sprinkle topping over the plums.
  7. Bake 30-45 minutes until golden brown. Turn heat off and let the cake rest in the oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Cool completely then garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
  9. Cut cake into rectangles and serve with coffee or tea.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 16

 

Baking Conversion Charts

Since living in Germany, I’ve been exploring European recipes and baking… most of which are in Metric measurements.  This can be tricky since most recipes in the United States use the Imperial measurement system.

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Converting recipes can be time consuming and frustrating so I’ve teamed with with my great friend, Rachel of the Lifestyle blog Glitter & Bow to bring you these easy to follow Baking Conversion Charts!

The Basic Ingredients Conversion Chart below will help you convert basic baking ingredients such as flour, sugar and butter.  We’ve also included powdered sugar and heavy cream since those are both used in many frosting recipes.

FREE PRINTABLE Baking Conversion Chart - Basic Ingredients | JavaCupcake.com

Download & Print the Baking Conversion Chart – Basic Ingredients

The Measurements & Temperatures Conversion Chart below is designed to help you with the rest of the ingredients in your recipe.  This easy to understand chart should make converting things like liquids and nuts or baking chips from Imperial to Metric.  We’ve also included a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion to help with baking temperatures.

Baking Conversion Chart - Measurements & Temperature Download & Print the Baking Conversion Chart – Measurements & Temperatures

Finally, we’ve got a Mini Printable Temperature Conversion Chart below for you to keep close to your oven!  You could easily attach this to a magnet at stick it to your stove top!

FREE PRINTABLE Mini Baking Conversion Chart - Temperature | JavaCupcake.com

Download & Print the Free Mini Temperature Conversion Chart

I really hope you get some great use out of these charts!  A huge thank you goes out to the team who designers who made these charts possible!

Layout design by Glitter&Bow for JavaCupcake

New Feature: LIVE CHAT!

I’m super excited to announce a new feature on JavaCupcake!  LIVE CHAT! 

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Now, when you’re making a JavaCupcake recipe and you need help, you can quickly ask me a question and get an instant answer!  I’m just a few clicks away to helping you create some delicious treats for your family and friends!

I’m typically online from 1000-1500 and 2100-2300 CET every day and will have the chat line open to take your questions. (This of course is subject to change if my family/life takes me away from the computer.) If by chance I’m not available, no worries! You can just shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP… usually within a few hours!

CHAT-new-feature22

Getting help is easy… just follow these steps:

  1. On the lower right corner, click on the pink box that says “Need help with a recipe?”  This will open up a dialogue box.
  2. Enter your name and email address.
  3. Click on START CHAT!
  4. This will bring you to another screen where you can ask all your recipe questions and if I’m online, I’ll answer.

CHAT-new-feature33

If I’m not online… you can still ask a question!  Simply click on “Need help with a recipe?”, enter you information and question and send!  I’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

So easy! Right?

I really hope this new feature gives you the confidence to get in the kitchen and get to baking knowing that I’m just a few clicks away to help!

Happy Baking!

 

Salted Caramel Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies

My comfort food is soft, chewy homemade cookies. And in very stressful times of my life, I tend to eat a lot of them. These Salted Caramel Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect salty, sweet and chocolate cookie sure to cure any of life’s cravings.

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Salted Caramel Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies | JavaCupcake.com

These cookies may look like any other cookie, but trust me they aren’t.  Chewy in the middle, firm on the outside are the familiar textures of a great chocolate chip cookie, but what makes these cookies different is the addition of sea salt and Salted Caramel Peanuts!

When I saw the can of the Planter’s Salted Caramel Peanuts on the shelf at the commissary, I knew they’d be the perfect addition to a chocolate chip cookie.  They add a delicious amount of salty sweetness and a bit of a crunch that turn these cookies up a notch.

Salted Caramel Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies | JavaCupcake.com

Seriously, these Salted Caramel Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies are OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious.

I’ve made 4 dozen of them…. twice in the last month.   Yeah, we needed that many and yeah, they’re that good.

Salted Caramel Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies | JavaCupcake.com

Try them, you don’t be disappointed!

Happy Baking!

Salted Caramel Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies | JavaCupcake.com

Salted Caramel Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4 dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped Planters Salted Caramel Peanuts
  • sea salt
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on high for 2 minutes. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything has been incorporated.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt then add this to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed until incorporated.
  4. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix on low until combined.
  5. Chill in the freezer for 90 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop 1" balls of dough onto the baking sheet leaving 1½" between each. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt onto the top of each ball.
  8. Bake 8 minutes or until golden brown. DO NOT OVER BAKE.
  9. Allow to cool on the sheet for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Behind the Blog: My Soldier, His PTSD & Our Life

Foreword:  This post is a personal one.  I’ve been struggling to produce any new content for my blog because my focus has been on my family for the last few weeks.  Writing all of this down on my blog has helped me cope and deal with the struggles of my life.  Hopefully now, I’ll be able to get back to baking. Thank you for reading. 

 

My husband is the bravest person I know.  For the 8 years I’ve been in love with Dave, we’ve spent half of that apart.  3 years were of him deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom (’07-’08 and ’09-’10) and to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom (’13-14′).  The remaining time apart took Dave away on long nights at work and days, weeks and months training in the field.

Until recently, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was only something I had only read about or learned about from Army pre & post deployment briefings.  I never dreamed PTSD would be something my husband and my family would be learn to cope with and live with.

Welcome Home to my Soldier! 3 April 14 - Vilseck, Germany | JavaCupcake.com

This photo is from Dave’s homecoming from his most recent deployment to Afghanistan.  Homecomings are amazing.  One of my favorite parts of living this military life.  Having my soldier in my arms after he’s been away fighting a war is one of the best feelings in life… knowing he’s physically home, safe and with me, it’s a priceless moment. Unfortunately, military life brings more than just joyful moments like this homecoming.

I am so incredibly proud of my husband, MY SOLDIER, for all of the time, hard work, sacrifice and dedication he has put into being a United States Army Infantryman.  His profession requires him to be away from home a lot, putting his countries needs ahead of his own.

These needs range from late nights at work to ensure that his Troop has everything they need for the next days training to being in combat and witnessing the vehicle in front of his being hit by IED while on a mission in Iraq.  You can imagine how stressful his job can be.

My husband has dedicated his life to the Army and in turn he has given up a part of himself.  He has been forever changed.  He will never be the same.

iraqThe picture above is from Iraq during his second deployment, Dave’s in the back/center. 

Two and a half weeks ago, Dave attempted to commit suicide.  Fortunately, he did not physically hurt himself, but it was evident that he was in so much emotional pain that he didn’t know what else to do and thought suicide would be the answer.

The 48 hours following his suicide attempt were probably some of the hardest moments I’ve ever had to endure as his wife.  Harder than any deployment.  My strength was tested and my eyes were opened.

Dave’s attempt on his life happened on a Sunday and since we’re on a smaller Army base in Germany the Behavioral Health Clinic on post was closed.  Our only option was to wait until the next day to see a doctor.   After being assessed by the clinic, it was decided that Dave needed to be admitted to in-patient care at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LMRC) on Ramstein Air Base.  I didn’t see this coming at all. I thought Dave would need help, but I didn’t think he would be admitted.  I think I was blind to how bad things really were for him.

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See, Dave has always been the kind of person who was so laid-back, go-with-the-flow and casual that he never showed any signs of PTSD, anxiety, or depression that are commonly associated with post-war behavior.  He kept his feelings mostly to himself and always put on a strong, tough exterior.  I always got the impression from him that he was strong and was handling everything life through at him.

I was wrong.  He was wrong.  Dave was broken.  The Army, previous life experiences, and war… they had broken Dave and now he was crying out for help.  Something needed to change and it turns out that attempting suicide was the catalyst for that change.

Landstuhl is almost 4 hours away from where we live.  I knew I wasn’t going to let Dave go alone to the hospital, so I pulled Emily out of high school early, packed up and headed across Germany with my kids to support the love of my life in his most vulnerable time.  It is Army protocol that Dave be escorted by members of his platoon to the hospital, so three soldiers drove him to LMRC and I followed.

Up until this point, I had been by Dave’s side going through this with him… but as we arrived to the hospital, I wasn’t prepared to not be able to go into the hospital with him, get him settled in or have time to say goodbye.  The Psych Ward at LMRC did not allow children behind their doors, so I was forced to say goodbye to my husband, my soldier… unsure of what was to come at the entrance to the Psych Ward.  The tears flowed from my puffy eyes.  I knew that Dave would be physically safe there… but my heart was breaking for my him.  My strong soldier, my brave husband was so sad, extremely scared and I couldn’t be there with him.  He had to do this part on his own and that broke my heart.

Visiting hours didn’t begin until 4pm the next day, so I set off to get my kids settled in at our hotel room on Ramstein Air Base.  It was a long, sleepless night of mixed emotions.

I was scared.  I was confused.  I was heartbroken.

I really just didn’t understand how I missed it.  How did I not see how much pain three deployments, a changing Army, a stress-ridden job had caused my brave soldier?

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After a few days of being in the Psych Ward, Dave was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and sleep apnea all under the umbrella of PTSD.  He was put on a few different medications to help him sleep and get his depression and anxiety under control so he could come home and begin working on his overall health and wellness.  Dave was released from the Psych Ward a week after he was admitted.

I didn’t know what to expect when Dave came home from the hospital.  I knew things would be different, but I didn’t know how.

There were triggers that brought me back to the moment I found out he tried to kill himself.  The first time he did something that he previous did right before he tried to kill himself always seemed to set me off into a tailspin of sadness.  The first few days were really hard having him home.  I didn’t realize how much his attempt on his life really scared me until he was home and I was reminded of how I felt in those moments.  I was so thankful he was home and alive that those feelings of joy for his life brought me back to reality and have kept me moving forward instead of dwelling on the incident of suicide itself and more on helping my  husband feel better.

caring

LIving with a soldier with PTSD is a helpless feeling.  I look at my husband I wish I would fix it for him, take all the pain away, make the experiences he’s endured go away.  It breaks my heart to know that this is his battle to fight and that all I can do is stand by his side and support him in whatever way he needs me to.

But, since being home, our marriage has changed for the better.  It hurts my heart to know that it took going to the hospital for it to happen, but our marriage is better, stronger for it.  We communicate more than we ever did before and we have a mutual understanding of what each others needs are. Our lives together as a couple and a family will never be the same.  Some things will get harder and some things will be easier.  Not all days will be full of anxiety, nightmares and pain.  Those are the days I hold on to.

I can feel our lives changing every day.  I am committed to standing by my soldier and our family as we navigate through what a decade of war and training has done to our lives.  It’s not going to be easy… but the struggle will be worth it when my husband is healthy, happy and in control of his life again.

 You may be wondering why I am sharing this story with you on my food blog.  My husband wondered the same thing when I asked him if I could share this with my readers.  It’s simple,  my blog has allowed me to express myself in ways that I never imagined.  Over the last 5 1/2 years of writing here, I have found that sharing the hard times with my readers really has helped me to cope and move forward.   Meeting others who have gone through similar situations, creating connections with those who understand my feelings…. well that’s simply priceless.  I share, because I want others to know that they are NOT ALONE in this battle against PTSD and that I am not afraid to talk about it.

So I will probably write about PTSD and our family again.  It maybe an entire post, it may be a few paragraphs included with a recipe.  But this is now a part of my life and I am embracing it.

For more information about Suicide Awareness & Prevention in the military, visit the Army’s website here.