CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES


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Last Thursday was my birthday and I was lucky enough to have the day off from work. I decided that, since I am a self-proclaimed champagne addict, I wanted to drink my champagne and eat it too. I also might be in denial of my participation in adulthood (pretty sure adults don't make deserts with bubbly) but that's besides the point. Of course, I went to good ol' Pinterest for inspiration and found Beth's recipe. It looked so simple that even a remedial baker like myself could attempt it.


INGREDIENTS

1 BOX OF WHITE CAKE MIX
2 STICKS OF BUTTER
1/2 CUP OF VEGETABLE SHORTENING
4-6 TBSP OF CHAMPAGNE
(TBH A BOTTLE IS THE PERFECT AMOUNT FOR 18 CUPCAKES & 2 MIMOSAS)
4-5 CUPS OF POWDERED SUGAR
GOLD SPRINKLES
CUPCAKE LINERS
PIPING BAG & TIP


You're going to want to preheat the oven to how ever high your cake mix requests (I used a Betty Crocker cake mix so I preheated my oven to 325°F.) While the oven was preheating, I lined a muffin tin with silver cupcake liners and began preparing the cake mix.


The one thing that I did different from the cake mix instructions was to replace the water with champagne. After mixing the dry and wet ingredients together, I poured the mix into two cupcake tins (a total of 18 cupcakes.)


The next step is to bake your cupcakes! I took mine out after 18 minutes and tested them by sticking a fork in them (I didn't have any toothpicks.) While I waited for my cupcakes to cool, I started making the frosting.

I'm not gonna lie, the frosting was a major struggle. I don't have a mixer, let alone an electric one, so I made the buttercream frosting with a wooden spoon and a fork. The end result worked out fine, but I definitely would have appreciated an electric mixer (and recommend using one.) Honestly, I feel like this cupcake journey was hashtag I need to buy more kitchen ware.

I combined the butter and vegetable shortening in a medium sized mixing bowl, and mixed until smooth. Next, I stirred in champagne, slowly, and taste-tested the frosting as I went (when the frosting tastes up to your yum standards you can stop adding the champagne.) Then I added the powdered sugar with the same mindset (slowly and until you have achieved your desired taste.)


Next, I placed the frosting in a piping bag (fit with a 1M piping tip.) I pushed the buttercream frosting down into the bag and piped the frosting onto the cupcakes. I'm not really a big baker and I have definitely never piped frosting (if that's even the right way to say that.) Needless to say, the frosting as a whole was a process. I started in the center of the cupcake, swirling out and swirling back in. After multiple tries I was sufficiently impressed with my newly acquired cupcake skills.


I finished my masterpieces off by sprinkling gold sprinkles on the tops and adding cute little gold straws (which I cut to the appropriate sizes.)


These actually ended up being pretty delicious and I don't know if I would try this recipe again, but it did make me more confident in trying to bake new creations. 

{What are some of your favorite desserts to make?}

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5 REASONS TO VISIT ARKANSAS


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This Summer has seriously been the summer of spontaneous trips. I don't think I planned any trip this summer, yet this year I traveled the most I have ever traveled (and apparently lost my ability to come up with any synonyms for the word travel.) One of the most underrated states I had the opportunity to visit (are you proud of me for not saying travel?), while moving my younger sister into college, was Arkansas.

I really think that the reason that this short trip stood out the most to me, was how random and relaxing it was to explore the natural state.

There's definitely more than just five reasons you should make the road trip to Arkansas, but I didn't want to bombard you with all 448 of my pictures. So, I'm just go to KISS and get on with the five reasons why you're missing out on one of the most beautiful places in the country.

1. The Water

These pictures were taken at Devil's Den State Park and the surrounding Arkansas area. We just walked around the park for a couple of hours, but I would love to actually camp here in the very near future. 

I actually climbed on the top of the waterfall (in flip flops - yes, I'm that girl) to get these pictures. The waterfall, and the park in general, was so unbelievably serene that I just wanted to hang out for about 7 billion more hours.

Can we talk about how GORGEOUS the bodies of water are in Arkansas (can you say Nat Geo status?) Seriously, the water alone is reason enough to check out this heavenly state.





 


2. The Greenery and Florals

Yes, we have trees and flowers in Texas, but no where close to this. Every where you looked you could see some sort of green. Whether it be Ireland status or the trees lining every road and highway. Can you say paradise?










3. The Rocks and Architecture

One of the pit stops we made on our way to the Arkansas mountains was the Subiaco Abbey. I felt like I was in some sort of Jane Austen novel as soon as we stepped on the campus (did I mention that the abbey is also an academy? Can you imagine going to school somewhere that beautiful?) Also, I'm pretty sure I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with the abundance of rocks in Arkansas. They are so breathtaking (and if you don't agree, I don't know if we can still be friends...)






4. The Roads

The roads in Arkansas are the kind of roads that make you want to drive for hours. Whether we were driving up the mountains, on the highway or through a tiny town -- I was in love. I'm sure the other drivers on the road thought I was certifiable, taking pictures of the roads, but I couldn't help myself. Also, every time I see a sign that says Scranton, I'm obligated to document it (because The Office.)








5. The Mountains

Honestly, if you only make the trip to Arkansas for the mountains -- I. Don't. Blame. You. They are so beautiful. We went to Mount Magazine (Arkansas' highest point.) Even though it kept raining on and off the entire time we were there, the view was incredible. Maybe, I'm just not used to living around mountains, but it was definitely a spiritual experience (10 out of 10 would recommend.) Pro-tip: if your sister sits on the ledge overlooking the mountains for a insta-worthy picture and like 20 vultures start to circle above -- you should probably tell her to get down. 






{What are some of your favorite states to visit?}

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ADIOS AL VERANO


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This Labor Day was hands down the most relaxing and perfect weekend to end the summer season. My weekend was made up of spending quality time with close friends and taking a day trip to Austin.

Originally, I was going to spend the day at Canyon Lake, but the rainy weather scared me off. I refused to spend the last day of the holiday weekend indoors, so I packed my water bottle and sunscreen and headed up to Mayfield Park.


Mayfield Park is a West Austin park located near the ever-popular Mount Bonnell. This park is home to TONS of free roaming peacocks, and they are unbelievably friendly. Aside from the beautiful wildlife that call this park their home, you can find a beautiful garden (with lily-padded ponds, turtles, and a variety of fish) and a winding trail. On top of this park being heaven-sent, the weather stayed at a steady 86 degrees the entire time!

I'm not going to lie, the peacocks were definitely my favorite part (I had never been so close to them before.) So, I may or may not have gone a little overboard with the pictures (okay a lot overboard - I took 142 pictures, but lucky for you I narrowed it down.)






There was definitely something so peaceful about the beautiful garden and trails throughout the park, as well. Even though there were multiple families and visitors at the park, the garden was basically silent (it was borderline magical.) I can completely see why so many couples have their wedding portraits done at this location.






Can we talk about the trails? There are basically two trails at Mayfield Park: one that winds down towards a beautiful lake and one that loops back to the front of the park. Of course, I was not prepared for an afternoon of hiking (wearing a thin pair of gladiator sandals), but the trails were doable in spite of my unfortunate decision in footwear. The best part, in my opinion, was the enormous amount of greenery and shade - I serious felt like I was in the Jungle Book. I definitely am planning on coming back someday very soon and exploring the rest of the park (as well as Mount Bonnell - which is practically right next door.)








Of course, no Labor Day celebration is complete without some top-quality BBQ. And, nothing beats Salt Lick as far as I'm concerned.

Pros of amazing BBQ restaurants: the amazing BBQ. Cons of amazing BBQ restaurants: the food is so good, there is no time for before pictures.




Honestly, I don't think I could have planned a better goodbye to summer weekend, even if I tried.

{What are some of the things you did during Labor Day weekend?}

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