365 New Days – Hello 2015!

I usually begin the new year with a post filled with links to last years recipes that were hits with my awesome readers and a few of my personal favorites. This year, I’m doing things a little bit different.

2014 was a bittersweet year for me personally so it’s hard for me to look back with feelings of happiness.  So instead, I’m going to look ahead to 2015 and lay out my plans for my blog, my family and my life!  A positive look at a clean slate of a year… 365 new changes to make better decisions,  experience happier days and choose to have a more positive experience in life.  Don’t worry though, I’ll be posting the best of 2014 in another post later this week.

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I really like this philosophy… 365 days in a year and 365 chances to wake up and choose to make a better life.  But doing that isn’t easy…  I need goals and a plan and inspiration!  And in order to do all that, I needed to sit down, really think about what I want in 2015 and make a list.  As I was doing that, I started to clean up my desk and realized all the things I had around me really help to inspire my work.

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So here’s a peek into my desk.  Right now I’m working in my bedroom on a small IKEA computer desk.  It has two shelves above the desk (but I won’t be showing you that disaster!) but overall it’s a pretty small work space so I have to do my best do keep it cleaned off so I have room to work.

On my desk I have a few things to help keep me organized.  Of course a Starbucks mug for my pens and a little organizer for note pads, usb & memory cards, binder clips and push pins.  Behind the picture, is a glass jar that’s filled with change and money.  I have that jar there for easy access to tossing lose change and small bills into.  Before I know it, I’ve got enough money for a weeks worth of coffee or even a dinner date with my husband!  We call it our “funny money”!

In front of the jar is one of my favorite pieces of art by my friend Jessie of CakeSpy.  I keep this one my desk because it’s super darn cute and because it reminds me of why I started blogging!  Jessie’s blog inspired me to start my own and looking at her art work keeps me motivated!  Two cupcakes in love under the Space Needle!

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I always have my custom May Designs note books at my disposal to take notes.  I probably have 2-3 of these going at a time with recipes, lists and plans jotted down in them.  I love them because I can change the designs, colors and text on the front and they’re a perfect size to fit in my purse.  I have colorful pens and note pads to jot notes down with too.  It makes things more fun when I have pretty things to work with.

As you can see, I’ve got a pretty good list going so far.  Since I took that picture 4-5 more things were added to the list!  Lists = Goals = Motivation = Getting things Done!

One of the essentials on my desk that my external hard drive.  It’s that silver box up in the left corner of the picture above.  This little contraptions is my life saver.  I’ve got it set up to sync everything from my important folders on my computer to the external drive and then to the cloud.  This is the first of four computers I’ve had over the last 10 years that I finally decided to back up.   The three previous computers have pictures and files on them lost forever, but not this computer!  External hard drive + cloud storage = Double Back Up!  I’m not losing anything on this computer!

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Here’s a closer look at my bulletin board.  I try not to keep it cluttered because my desk is so small.  So, I’ve got a few areas on my board that I use to help keep me organized and motivated.

The left side of the board is usually covered when I have my laptop open,  so I keep a picture of my oldest daughter Emily and a picture of my new son and husband. They remind me of where I started as an adult and how far I’ve come today.  I’ve also got a list going of tattoos I want and movies I missed in 2014 to watch.

The right side of the board has all my blog related & motivation stuff.  Things I can glance at and see every time I sit down to work.  Up top are notes I keep on ideas for posts, recipes I want to make in the coming year and a breakdown of my social media stats from Jan. 1, 2015.  I’ve got my best friends phone numbers, an inspirational quote and a gold sequin “B is for Betsy” from my friend Rachel who is a lifestyle blogger! Also, I have one of the firsts checks I got for being paid to create recipes and a sweet thank you note from Jenny Kelly of jennycookies.  (She inspires me!) All these things remind me to work hard for what I want in 2015 and motivate me to get there!

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So, what exactly are my goals for 2015?  I’ve got two lists going, a short term-do right now list and a long term-work on over the year list.

First, the short term goals (some of which I’ve already completed!):

  • Get rid of the landing page on my blog. One of the comments made in my reader survey was that my landing page wasn’t really necessary and made it hard to get to my blog posts.  I agreed and got rid of it.
  • Revamp the JavaCupcake logo & colors.  Another comment on the reader survey was that the colors on my blog were just a little too bright.  Although I happen to love bright colors, I happen to agree with this one a little.  So, I updated my background to grey and got right of the bright teal chevron.  It’s still my style, just a little more muted. I also updated my logo.  I wanted a logo that was a bit fancier but that included a graphic.  I found this fun font and added the piping bag for some flair.  I really like it for 2015!
  • Update my newsletter, media kit, social media with new fonts and logos.   With a new logo and colors means updating everything in my social media presence as well as my media kit.  My statistics are always changing and updating keeps things fresh and current.
  • Comment more on other food, military and DIY blogs.  I find myself oohing and awwwwing over my blogging friends new recipes and ideas, but often don’t comment and tell them how impressed I am or if I tried their idea/recipe.  This year I plan to comment more on blogs I like and recipes I try.  One of the reasons I blog is the community it builds.  I need to do more on my part!
  • Organize my desk.  For this blog post, I cleaned off my desk… but not completely.  I really need to organize the top half where the shelves are too.  It’s not pretty up there.

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Now, here are my long term goals to meet throughout 2015:

  • Move to Hawaii! Yup, that’s right… my family is moving to Oahu in August 2015!  Yes, that means we have to leave Europe after 4 1/2 years of living here, but I am so looking forward to the sunshine and new adventure.  My best friend, Chrissy, also moved there so I’m really looking forward to being close to her again.  We’ve already started getting the house ready to move by purging things we don’t need.  It’s really cathartic actually to get rid of the clutter!
  • Get Healthy.  This is a pretty broad statement for me and I mean it in many different ways.  I want to eat healthier, work on my mental health, exercise and support my family in those same ways.  I’m not a dieter… so that’ll never be a goal for me… but I do want a generally healthier lifestyle… so that will be a goal of mine this year.
  • Grow & Strengthen Brand Partnerships.  2014 was a great year for me and brands.  I connected with several great companies who produce quality products and created some great recipes with them.  My goal is to continue to partner with these companies, strengthen our relationships and hopefully grown one into a long term ambassadorship.
  • Make New Brand Connections.  Now that I have a little experience partnering with brands, I want to do more!  I hope that my move to Hawaii will allow me to connect with more stateside brands.  Me being in Germany was a deterrent for many brands because I was technically “overseas”.
  • Grow My Readership.  My blog has grown over 2400% since I started recording my stats in 2010.  That’s a huge deal!  But, last year I only grew about 8%.  In 2015, I want to grow at least 20%.  This growth will in turn bring in more revenue and allow me to upgrade my equipment, blog, and life.  More money is always a good thing!
  • Write a Cookbook.  I’ve been thinking and dreaming about his for a long time.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to write a book in 2015 since I’ve got a big move planned in the middle of it, but I want to at least make connections in the publishing world and get the ball rolling.  I have some ideas of what I’d like my cookbook to be about… but I really need to take the time to research the industry and make those connections.  How awesome would a JavaCupcake cookbook be though!?  My high school English teacher would be so proud!

So, I think I’ve got my work cut out for me this year.  I’ve tried to keep my goals realistic and reasonable since I’ve got a lot going on in my personal life.  If I meet and exceed these goals… well, then I’ll make new ones!

365 new days… 365 chances at a better life.

Let me leave you with this question…

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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.

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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.

Snappy Gourmet Interview

No recipes or reviews today… but something equally as exciting and fun!  When Lisa at Snappy Gourmet asked if I’d be interested in being interviewed for her blog, I said yes!  It sounded like fun and I always love sharing some “behind the scenes” stuff with people!

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Lisa creates 100% original recipes over at the Snappy Gourmet and has won many awards for her delicious creations!  After you read my interview, make sure you check out her award-winning recipes!

READ THE INTERVIEW HERE!

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A big thanks to Lisa for showcasing me and some of my recipes on Snappy Gourmet!! :) It was a lot of fun to answer her questions, especially the speed round!

 

 

A Mott’s for Tots Play Date

Imagine four toddlers playing in the backyard of a house where there are clear blue skies, no clouds in sight, and 95 F degree temperatures. Now imagine that house hidden in the rolling hills of Bavaria, Germany. Seem like a dream? Well, that dream is my life!

I have had the good fortune to be able to call Bavaria, Germany my home for the last three years and have experienced the joy of making some amazing friends while I’ve been here. When I met my friend Mariele 3 years ago, we were both pregnant and due only 2 weeks apart. We became quick friends. From the moment that our babies, Lena and Matthew, were born they were playing together. Play dates together were a regular part of our babies lives, even when all they did was lay on the floor and look cute! Fast forward three years and despite everything that has been thrown our way, our kids are still having play dates!

When Mott’s for Tots asked me if I wanted to review their apple juice, I knew absolutely YES that not only did I want to review the juice, but I needed to include Lena and Matty’s other friends in a play date to do so!

We’re already fans of Mott’s products in our family. My father’s mother worked in the Duffy-Mott factory in Williamson, New York in the 1950s and 1960s peeling and coring apples for their applesauce and juice. My Dad told me stories of how his Mom would come home smelling of apples and how she’d spent all day making sure the apples were perfectly placed for peeling & coring by the machines. For over a decade, my Grandmother helped to make one of the best apple-based products in the country! How sweet is that?

Matty drinks a glass of Mott’s for Tots apple juice every afternoon and is Mr. Cranky Pants without it! The best part about Mott’s for Tots is that the juice has 40% less sugar than 100% apple juice and it has already been diluted. This means I don’t have to water down the juice before I give it to Matty and I don’t lose any of the essential vitamins & nutrition that my kiddo needs! This apple juice really lives up to Mott’s Promise to nurture the potential in every kid every day!

We invited over Lena and her baby brother Liam plus Lena’s friend Ellie and our next door neighbor Nick for the Mott’s for Tots Play Date! Since the afternoon was so hot, the kids spent only about thirty minutes playing together in the pool, running around getting wet in the sprinkler and swinging on the swing-set before they were ready for a break. Needless to say, in almost 95 F degree heat, the tots were hot, tired, thirsty and ready for a Mott’s for Tot’s treat!

Ellie was the first to get her straw into the box of Mott’s for Tots White Grape Apple Juice! She found a spot in the shade on the swing and guzzled down half a box of juice even before I could hand her a Mott’s for Tots apple juice popsicle! It wasn’t too long that Matty and Lena were on the swing with her!

Since the kids are only 2 & 3 years old, I saved the Mott’s for Tots 64oz bottles of apple juice that Mott’s sent me to make popsicles with. The kids absolutely went nuts for these popsicles and I can feel guilt-free about letting them eat one (or three)!

I thought for sure that the kids would run around with their boxes of juice and popsicles, but instead they sat politely on the bench swing and enjoyed the comfort that the Mott’s for Tots juice brought them!

Even baby Liam got in on the fun! His Mommy held him in her lap and let him suck on the delicious Mott’s for Tots apple juice popsicle! It was the perfect baby treat for this super hot day! Overall, we had an amazingly fun time on our play date together topped off by the delicious Mott’s for Tots juice boxes and popsicles! Yeah… we might have had as much fun without the juice, but I seriously wouldn’t ever want to!

Mott’s also wanted me to let you know that Mott’s Fruit Punch Rush and Wild Grape Surge have 15g sugar and the market average of 100% fruit juices and blends have 25g sugar. Mott’s has so much less sugar and I think that’s pretty awesome!

For more about Mott’s for Tots, visit their website or you can find them on Facebook and Twitter!

A big THANK YOU goes to Mott’s for Tots for providing the apple juice for this play date!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Motts for Tots via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.


What is your favorite flavor of Mott’s for Tots juice?

What is your favorite Mott’s for Tots juice drink?

I’m taking a little break!

If you’ve been following my blog for the last year, you’ll know that my husband deployed to Afghanistan for nine months.  He’s home now and we’ve finally been given the opportunity to TAKE A VACATION!  You can follow along on Instagram while I’m gone… I’ll be posting a lot of pictures!

My family together at last! Welcome Home to our Soldier! 3 April 14 - Vilseck, Germany | JavaCupcake.com

Two years ago my Dad came out for a visit and we traveled South to Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Southern Germany.  The picture below is from Venice, Italy.  We’re standing on the Rialto Bridge with the Grand Canal behind us! It was an amazing vacation, but we knew that before we left Europe, we had to head north to see France and the UK!

Italy with Dad Emme

With my Dad back in town, I knew I had to take advantage of the free childcare!  Dave and I never had a honeymoon.  Heck, we never had a wedding.  So we’re taking a little “us time” and heading to London!  It’s a little harder to leave the kids with friends and neighbors when you have two kids (one a toddler) so I jumped on the chance to get away while Grandpa babysat!  This gives my Dad a chance to spend some one on one time with the kids too… something he’s definitely been missing, especially since his last visit.

On the map below, we live where the green star is.  The red stars are all the places to plan to visit over the next two weeks! Here’s where we’re headed:

  • London, United Kingdom
  • Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany
  • Paris, France & Disneyland Paris
  • Trouville-sur-Mer, France
  • Normandy, France
  • Saint-Avold, France & Lorraine American Cemetery

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Dave and I are starting with our mini honeymoon to London for 4 days!  We’re planning to see all the main sights including Buckingham Pallace, the London Eye and the London Bridge.  Of course, I’ll be stopping at The Hummingbird Bakery and any other bakeries I see along the way and will be making a full report of what I found when I get back!

After London, we’ll head back home for a two days to do a little laundry and pack for France!

On the way to France, we’re stopping at Ramstein Air Base (the star next to Frankfurt) to visit the NATO Headquarters and show my dad all the cool military stuff they have there.

Then it’s off to Paris for 4 days!  But, not just Paris… DISNEYLAND PARIS!  We’re staying four days in a Disney resort where the kids will get to play, go on rides and experience all the wonderful things that Disneyland Paris has to offer!

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Of course, we’ll be heading into Paris as well.  And yes… I’ll be stopping at all kinds of bakeries for macarons, pastries and cupcakes.  Expect a full report on what I find in Paris when I get back!

After Paris, we’re driving up to the Northern Coast of France to stay in an apartment for 4 days.  We’ll be enjoying the beach, relaxing, playing in the water and building sandcastles.

While in Northern France, we’ll head over to Normandy where they just celebrated the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  My dad, being in the military for 20+ years and my husband are both looking forward to seeing this history first hand.

Finally, we’ll end our trip with a visit to the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint Avold, France where 10,894 American soldiers of WWII are buried. I’ve never been to a military cemetery of this size and I’m not quite sure how I’ll feel being there… but I am looking forward to the experience.

A lot of lives were lost during WWII… this will be my chance to pay my respects.

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So… there won’t be any new recipes for the next two weeks.  I know, you’ll miss me.  But take this time to enjoy your own family and maybe take a mini vacation of your own!  I feel so incredibly blessed to have the chance to travel Europe and see places in the world I never dreamed I’d be able to visit.

Of course, I’ll be posting A LOT of pictures on Instagram along our journey.  If you want to follow along… you can find me HERE!

I’ll be back the second full week of July posting new recipes and sharing new content with you!  Until then… Enjoy your summer!

The Color Run Nuremberg

Today’s post is a little different.  No cupcakes, no cookies, no recipes… but trust me, it’s a lot of fun!

The Color Run  Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

I don’t typically write personal posts that don’t include a recipe, but today I wanted to share with you what I did this weekend and how important accomplishing it was to me!

This past Sunday, my family and I competed in our first 5K run, The Color Run Nuremberg! The Color Run: The Happiest 5K on the Planet is a fun race where everyone wears a white t-shirt and gets splattered with colorful paint like powder throughout the race!  There are Color Run events in countries all around the world!  Our race was held in Nürnberg, Germany!

The Color Run  Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

But… before I get to all The Color Run Nuremberg details… let’s go back in time a little bit and set up why this race was so important for me! In 2010, I weighed 325lbs and I could barely walk, let alone run a 5K.  I had dreamed about a day where I would be able to participate in active events with my family… but I knew I had to make a drastic life change if I wanted that to happen.

So, I had gastric bypass surgery the Spring of 2010 and a year later I had lost 145lbs.  (If you’re interested, you can read all about that journey HERE!) And almost overnight, I was given the ability to be active with my family!  The picture below was about 8 months into my weight loss journey.

Before & After Gastric Bypass Surgery | JavaCupcake.com

Since the picture was taken, I uprooted my life and moved to Germany, got pregnant and had Matty, got pregnant again and had Cora who passed away and survived  my husband’s 3rd deployment.  Between the pregnancy and stress of life… my body suffered and I gained back about 45lbs.

And that has been very hard to deal with.  VERY HARD.  I mean, I love my son so much… but getting pregnant ruined everything I had gone through having the gastric bypass surgery.  My body changed in shape and in the way it handles food.  My smaller stomach no longer was processing food in the same way it did before pregnancy and I wasn’t losing weight anymore.

With gastric bypass surgery, my stomach is literally the size of a golf ball and I physically am forced to eat small amounts.  My intestines are also shorter which means the food has less space to absorb into my body.  Both of these together means I lose weight.  Right now, I’m eating the same golf-ball small amounts of food, but I’m not losing weight.  This is definitely a problem and I really should go back to the doctor to have this looked at and possibly have a surgical revision done, but I’m in Germany… and I need an American doctor.  That will have to wait until we move back to the USA.  Pink up the Pace | JavaCupcake.com

So until then… I’m going to do what I can to try to stay active and work on being healthy.  And that’s where The Color Run comes into play!  While my husband was deployed, my daughter and I participated in our first 5K – The Pink up the Pace in Grafenwoehr, Germany (see picture above!).  Emily ran with her Girl Scout Troop and I went with them.  It was a lot of fun and I was so proud of myself for accomplishing it!  After that…. I knew that I wanted to do more fun runs… but with my entire family!

This past Sunday, my family along with my friend Chasity and her family participated in The Color Run Nuremberg!  Two families + Great Weather + Germany = ONE AMAZING COLOR RUN!

The Color Run Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

We picked up our race packets the day before so we could enjoy the morning before the race started.  The packs included a Color Run t-shirt, sweatband, bracelet and bib number plus a packet of the color!  Chasity and I decided as soon as we bought our tickets that we wanted to wear colorful tutu’s to the race!  So we had a local clothing-maker (Maddy’s Girl) design and create matching tutu’s for all of us ladies to wear!  They turned out so cute!

I even made Matty a shirt that said “My First Color Run”.  He was definitely a “chick magnet” at the race too.  Women all day were saying, “süß” or “sweet” and pointing and giggling at him.  I love that Emily and Matty, although 12 years apart, have so much fun together!  They’re both süß!!

The Color Run Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

With 4000 runners participating in this Color Run, you can imagine the start like was packed!  The race didn’t begin all at once, instead they started it in smaller groups!  Luckily, one of those groups started and we were at the front!  Nordbayern.de wrote an article about the race and featured this photo that we’re in… on the left, can you see Matty’s stroller, me and Dave and Emily? How awesome is that!?

The Color Run Nürnberg - Photo: © Stefan Hippel

Photo: © Stefan Hippel

Along the race path, there were four color stations set up where Color Run volunteers squirted powered color all over us until our shirts had no white left on them!  By the end of the race, we were a rainbow… covered from head to toe in color!

The Color Run Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

My favorite picture of the entire day is this one.  Behind us is Nazi Party Rally Grounds & the Colosseum that Hitler made famous by holding six Nazy Party rallies there between 1933 and 1938.  Although what happened there isn’t pleasant to think about… the history behind us in those grounds combined with the beauty it holds today shows just how far Germany has come.  We were almost done with the race when we stopped for this picture!

The Color Run Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

Of course, because we’re in Germany, we were greeted with beer just before the finish line!  0% alcohol beer so the kids could enjoy it as well!  It was pretty darn delicious too at the end of this race!

PROST!

We made it to the finish line about an hour after we began.  I know, a 60 minute 5K isn’t that impressive, but with two kids and a Mom (me) who walks plus 4 color stations to get through and pictures to stop and take… 60 minutes was a great time!

The Color Run Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

But… I didn’t care about the time because I DID IT!  I finished another 5K and I was so excited, happy and proud that my entire family got to do it together!

I know that my weight may go up and down… life will through curve balls at me… but if I can run a 5K with my family beside me, I know that anything is possible!

The Color Run Nürnberg | JavaCupcake.com

If you get a chance to participate in The Color Run, I highly recommend it!  No one there judged me for walking, in fact  most people were walking after the second color station.  Everyone was there just to have fun!  And that’s what we did… HAD FUN!

We’re already planning to attend again next year…. maybe Italy, the Netherlands?  Who knows!  We just want to do it again!

This is the official video of The Color Run Nuremberg!

We’re in this video at about 1:39 – on the left of the start line with Matty in the stroller!

The Great Baking Closet Clean Out

I’m so excited to be hosting this blog party today with my sweet bloggy friend (and fellow Army wife) Toni Miller of Make Bake Celebrate! Toni and I have been dreaming about putting together this blog party for at least 6 months now and I’m thrilled that it’s finally here!

The Great Baking Closet Clean Out

Toni and I have teamed up with a handful of other bloggers to bring you The Great Baking Closet Clean Out! Each participating blogger has cleaned out their baking and/or crafting closet, taken lots of before and after pictures and have written up a post about how they did it. Some of us even set aside some of the stuff we don’t need anymore and are giving it away to you!

Along with individual blog giveaways… we’ve also got one GRAND PRIZE that one of you will win. $250 in prizes to help you clean out your closet! So enjoy my baking closet clean out… and make sure to visit all the participating blogs to get a glimpse inside their baking closets!


JC’s Baking Closet Clean Out!

TGBBCO-Before-1

I live in military housing here in Germany, so I didn’t get to choose the space that my baking supplies would live in.  I just had to deal with what I was given and improvise.  The main bulk of my supplies are actually kept in our front closet.  Half the closet has hanging coats and the other side shelving… this ended up being the perfect spot to store all my supplies. You can see in the photo above on the right that I’ve got a lot of storage bins already separating out my supplies… but over the last year or so, it’s gotten a little crowded.  Not everything had been put back in it’s bin, some things didn’t even have a bin and it just needed tidying up.

The Great Baking Closet Clean Out - See how your favorite bloggers organize their supplies! | JavaCupcake.com

I recently acquired additional storage (as seen in the first photo on the left), but it had turned into a “catch-all” for baking chips/chocolate/candy, props and my Sistema storage containers.  I even had a cute piece of wall art that hadn’t been hung in the 8 months I’ve owned it.

TGBCCO-After-1

To tidy up my closet, I picked up a couple extra storage bins to hold my gel food coloring, the extra cookie cutters and all my new macaroon making supplies.  I took some of the baking pans out to make room for the new bins.  Now, everything has a home and it all fits nicely inside the cabinet! I used these Sterilite bins… I like them because they’re see-though and their lids have a latch!

I think my most favorite part about this entire process was being able to hang my cupcake & coffee picture and have a place to display my CakeSpy art and baking cookbooks!  My extra storage cabinet has been transformed into a cute little area for my styling/photography props and a home for my pretties!

The Great Baking Closet Clean Out | JavaCupcake.com

The two pieces of art are CakeSpy originals.  One is of a cupcake falling in love with a cup a to-go coffee and the other are cupcakes drinking wine and martini’s outside of a bar.  LOVE both of these mini pieces of art from my friend Jessie at CakeSpy!

It feels really great to have a space that it not only cute… but completely functional and organized!


JavaCupcake’s Giveaway

I’ve been collecting items for this giveaway for several months!  I’m excited to be able to one lucky JavaCupcake reader some awesome prizes!

JC-Giveaway[left]

  • 1 Wilton 8-pack of 12in cake circles
  • 1 Wilton Cupcake Decorating Piping Set
  • 1 Wilton USA Stencil pack
  • 4 Wilton Candy Eye packs
  • 1 Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator
  • 2 Cupcake Berlin T-shirts
  • 1 Cupcake Berlin Tote Bag
  • 6 Cupcake Berlin Stickers
  • 1 CakeSpy Original Watercolor

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[right]

  • 1 roll Cupcake Duct Tape
  • 1 Rotating Cupcake Decorating Stand
  • 1 Owl & Cupcake Print
  • 1 Martha Stewart set of Ice Cream Kitchen Towels
  • 1 Cook This Menu Planner
  •  20+ Bake it Pretty Baby Shower assorted Toppers
  • 1 Duff Cake Transfer Set
  • 2 Duff Candy Writers

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grand Prize Giveaway

The Great Baking Closet Clean Out - See how your favorite bloggers organize their supplies! | JavaCupcake.com

Make sure to check out all these clean closets!
JavaCupcake
Make Bake Celebrate
Hungry Happenings
Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons
Design Eat Repeat
Sugar Dish Me

A HUGE thank you goes to our amazing sponsors!
Sweets & Treats Boutique
Bella Cupcake Couture
Country Sweetart Kitchen
Crazy for Crust

One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be chosen to WIN…
$100 Container Store Gift Card
$50 credit to Sweets & Treats Boutique
$50 credit to Bella Cupcake Couture
$50 credit to Country Kitchen Sweetart

For your chance to win the GRAND PRIZE, complete the entry form below!
Contest entries will be accepted until May 20, 2014 11:59pm EST.
Winner will be chosen Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

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He’s home!

I have great news!  Last night my husband, Dave, returned home safely from Afghanistan! This was his third deployment since 2007!

The Eves Family - Afghanistan Homecoming 2 April 2014 - Vilseck, Germany | JavaCupcake.comAt exactly midnight, almost 150 soldiers walked into the gym at USAG Bavaria – Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany to greet stands full of cheering friends and family!

I was at the gym with my daughter, Emily and my son, Matthew along with my best friend Chasity (who was behind the camera taking all the pictures!)  As the soldiers began walking into the gym… my heart started racing, looking for my soldier!  Finally, my daughter whispered to me, “I see Daddy!”

2CR Homecoming - Vilseck, Germany - 4April14 - JavaCupcake.com

And there he was in the front row, directly in front of us!  You can see in the picture above that he’s standing to the right of the soldier wearing the Stetson hat in the front row!

We were minutes away from our reunion and I could hardly contain my excitement!  Even though I’d gone through this ceremony twice before,  seeing my husband standing there gave me chills and brought extreme joy to my heart!

The Chaplain said a prayer and a high ranking Colonel in the unit said a few remarks.  And after 2 short minutes… the soldiers were released!

Me and the kids waited at our seats for the crowds to pass and for Dave to walk over to us.  But, my daughter Emily could hardly container her emotions.  She was so happy, elated, emotional that tears instantly started flowing as she ran to and hugged her father.

Emily welcomes home her Father after his 3rd deployment | JavaCupcake.com

This was Dave’s third deployment, and the shortest.  His first was 16 months to Iraq, second was 12 months to Iraq and finally this deployment was 7 months to Afghanistan.  Although this was the shortest deployment, it was definitely the most difficult.  I was in Germany while he was at war… far away from my family and friends.  And I now had a toddler and teenager to raise on my own.  Challenges I never imagined being able to tackle without my husband.

Welcome Home Kisses  | JavaCupcake.com

But, the moment was finally here.  The moment our family would be together again. 7 months had gone since I had held my husband in my arms.  7 months had passed since I had felt his arms around me.  7 months since I felt the love in his kiss.

Once Matty got a hold of Dave… he wouldn’t let go!  I snapped this picture just as we were heading out of the gym… So precious.

Matty doesn't want to let his Daddy go! | JavaCupcake.com

My husband is home.  My family is together again.  And I am so filled completely filled with joy!  These next few months of our lives together are going to be so amazing.

The Army has allowed Dave to take 4-day weekends between now and Memorial Day and then in June he’ll get 22 days off!  We plan to travel, spend a lot of time together and enjoy our time here in Europe!

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

Thank you to everyone who has loved and supported me though out this deployment.  I truly appreciate your kind words of encouragement and support!  It has truly helped get me through it!

My family together at last! Welcome Home to our Soldier! 3 April 14 - Vilseck, Germany | JavaCupcake.com

As you might imagine, I’ll be spending the next week or so glued to my husband.  So… I’ll be taking some time off from baking and blogging.  Have no fear though! I’ve got two of my great friends and bloggers filling on JavaCupcake for me!

Toni of Make Bake Celebrate and Erin of Texanerin Baking will be here next week bringing you some super sweet treats!  Make sure to come back next week to see what they’ve got baking for you!

And just for fun… here’s a look back at the Homecoming Ceremonies from all three of our deployments! Boy has my family changed!

The moment my husband returned from each of his deployments | JavaCupcake.com