Jun 30, 2013

4th of July Flag Cake

I've made this little gem for the past two Independence Days and it's always a hit, so I am officially declaring it a yearly tradition. Here's the sad thing... I've been meaning to post this recipe on the blog for the past two years, but I never got around to it. There pictures were taken on my old point and shoot camera in our first apartment in Arizona in the summer of 2011. And I've been saving them this WHOLE time, because this recipe needs to be shared and YOU need to make it!

Note... I know these flag cakes are all over the Internet, but let me tell you why this one is better. Instead of doing an actual white cake, the bottom of this one is a delicious sugar cookie/shortbread like concoction. And the frosting is not too sweet and not too cream cheese-y. Basically, you will LOVE it.

To make the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
3. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
4. Add the vanilla to the creamed mixture and then slowly add the dry ingredients.
5. Press into a greased 13 x 18 inch pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
6. Cool and frost {see directions below}.

To make the frosting:
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
A drop of milk for consistency {if needed}
*You can add a full bar (8oz.) of cream cheese if you like a more cheesy taste. I do not, so I only use half a package.

1. Beat butter and cream cheese until well blended
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.
3. Add a tiny bit of milk or a little more powdered sugar if needed for consistency.
4. Spread frosting over cake {once the cake has cooled!}
5. Add blueberries, strawberries, or any other red or blue fruit to create a flag design.


Jun 25, 2013

Life Lately

June... did you even happen? This month has flown by so quickly, and these past few weeks are a big blur of happy memories...


Trip to the east coast
Family in town
We bought a house!
Micah bought a motorcycle {I don't have quite as much enthusiasm about this purchase...}
Still running in the third trimester
Sweet friends who came from out-of-state for my baby shower last week

Jun 20, 2013

A Beautiful Exchange

Hi, Arizona Russums readers!!

My name is Hayley and I normally blog over at A Beautiful Exchange, but I'm so excited to be here with you guys today! I am a 20 year old mom of one, and I have been married for 18 months. It's crazy that we will be coming up on 2 years soon! Where in the world does time go? 

I really love experimenting with makeup, reading tons of good books, and getting lost in Target. My blog pretty much covers all of those things, plus anything else you can think of. I like to view my blog as all of my personal interests, hobbies, and family life all rolled into one! I love it that way, because that means more people can relate to me on different levels! 

I have done a few DIY things here and there and you can check them all out here. My personal story is on the blog here, and the love story with the hubs and me is here, for all you mushy gushy folks. If you love to read, like I do, you can find my (almost weekly) updates on What I've Been Reading. If you want to get overloaded with cuteness, you can read all about my family posts here! Make sure you come over and check out the blog, I know there's something you can relate to!

The little dude. Isn't he precious?!

So now that I have babbled your ear off about me and my blog, I thought I would share a little bit about why blogging is so great. In case you haven't figured it out for yourself, here's a few reasons:

You make great friends
I told my husband that I feel really lame whenever I say this to people about blogging. I guess it makes me feel like one of those people that sits in their house all day just talking to people that probably don't even exist in real life. I guess the difference with blogging is that the people that I "meet" give me quite a few glances into their real lives on their blogs! I know that they don't include everything, but I have made some great friends through opportunities that are out there for bloggers, as well as by just contacting someone I have things in common with!!

It's the age
Right now is the time to be a blogger. I mean, seriously. Everyone in the entire world is obsessed with social media. Those that aren't are at least (closet) reality tv junkies. People just naturally have a nosy tendency. How do you think all of the tabloids survive, people?

This is one of the main reasons I blog. I love that I can come to my blog and look back on almost every major memory that my family has made in the last few months. Some of Eli's milestones are recorded much better than they would be in some dusty baby book, plus, I get to share them with all of you!

An outlet
Blogging is something that is mine. I don't have to share my blog or my posts with anyone, but I choose to because of the community that is out there. It doesn't matter what you are going through, or what you are particularly interested in  (politics, DIY, makeup, books, product reviews, etc.) there is definitely a group of bloggers out there covering your likes! It really makes me feel great when I have people contact me saying that my story, or a post that I wrote, has truly impacted them! What an encouragement!!

These are the main reasons that I blog and I did an entire post on why blogging is so darn awesome once--you can read that here. I hope you follow Jen, as her blogs is one of my favorite to read each day! Also, make sure you follow A Beautiful Exchange on Bloglovin', Twitter, and Facebook! I would love to meet you!!

Jun 18, 2013

A Happy Reunion

After many days of travel and my little New Jersey adventure, I finally made it to Virginia Beach last week where I was reunited with one of my favorite families in this world. You may remember this post, where I talked about how my church shut down last summer when our pastor moved away to serve as a chaplain in the Navy. Well, this is my pastor's family and while he is serving our country out on a ship, we had a little ladies week in Virginia Beach {I guess Hudson is not a lady, but he tolerated furniture shopping like a champ!}. Lisa, Anne {not technically related to the family but kind of a big sister, mentee, friend of the family} and I have the sweetest friendship and  I am so thankful that it worked out for Anne and I to visit at the same time. We fell back into our old ways of talking and laughing and giving Anne life advice instantly. I'm a little jealous that she gets to spend another five weeks there with these precious kids, but I'll take what I can get. Our two days together were so sweet. Plus, there are way too many bugs in Virginia for my taste, so I'll let them do the cockroach killing, slug removal, and tick hunting without me! Ew. Ticks. I was not made for the East Coast.

These pretty ladies greeted me at the airport...

And then everyone else arrived! The girls had to run home from the school bus stop in the rain...

The cutest kids EVER.

Anne and I went to the top of the oldest lighthouse in America. And maybe the world? Need to research this...

We hired a sitter and went out for dinner one night at the quirkiest little Mexican restaurant...


And then Lisa let the girls skip school and we all went to the beach. Hoorah!

Jun 17, 2013

Father's Day

For the second year in a row, my parents, sister and I reunited in Arizona for Father's Day weekend. We had so much fun last year that we decided to make a tradition of pool lounging by day and eating at a steakhouse by night in order to celebrate our dad.

*Disclaimer: I should note here that we have a brother. I have two siblings, not just my sister who regularly shows up in my photographs. Little bro happens to be 8 years younger than me and 6 years younger than my sister, so he kind of (aka totally) functions as an only child. He just graduated from college, got his first job, and is way too cool to spend his limited vacation days with his family... love that kid.

Also, this was Micah's first Father's Day and it was fun to celebrate with him and my ever-growing baby  belly. Micah and I were both traveling last week, so we actually didn't see each other for eight days leading up to Sunday. But the baby didn't forget its dad during that time... As soon as Micah came home, he put his hand on my stomach, talked to the baby, and it kicked him instantly. Our baby is not super active yet, except for right when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed, so it was cute to see it respond to dad during the day when it's usually sleeping.


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