Childhood Cancer Awareness Month {Kalyn}

27 September 2012

This is a longer post, but I would really appreciate it if you took the time to read this.

When a dear friend, Lauren, over at Life.Love.Lauren. approached me about spreading the word for Childhood Cancer Awareness, I was more than happy to help out.

Mainly because Childhood Cancer impacted my family in a way that nothing else ever has or probably ever will.

This is Kalyn. She was my sister's best friend and a little sister to me. Kalyn's family was THAT family - the one you do everything with, go on camping trips with, are allowed to spend the night during the school week with...our families were always together. Her older sister is my age and so our families were extremely close.

Kalyn was diagnosed with cancer when I was in high school. It was a roller coaster after that. I asked my sister if she wanted to tell the story, since Kalyn was such a huge part of her life...

Kalyn. The one I turned to, shared my secrets with, and made me laugh—my best friend. 

We met in elementary school and started out in the same group of friends. As the years went by, our group of friends evolved, yet we remained the same, if not closer with each passing year. This was the girlfriend I spent every waking moment with. We went to school together, studied together, had sleepovers together, got into mischief together….I think you get the point about this amazing friendship. We even brought our two families together through our relationship.

The end of 8th grade came and Kalyn’s “sore arm” turned out to be much worse than a bruise or a torn muscle—it was cancer. The correct term is called Osteosarcoma, which in layman’s terms is bone cancer.

I was in shock, not knowing anyone with cancer before and confused if I heard this right. Unfortunately, my ears were working perfect that day, and Kalyn had to go to chemotherapy treatments all summer. I called Kalyn and visited her as often as I could, trying to be there for her and comfort her when things seemed to be at its worst.

Surprisingly, we had some fun times in the hospital with new friends made, rides on her I.V. cart, make-overs, and sleepovers. The summer ended and so did her cancer, many chemo treatments, and a long scar down her entire upper left arm finally disappeared. She was in remission and served as a role model and motivational speaker to everyone she came across.

Everything seemed perfect and our prayers were answered, or so we thought. Spring break came along and we went down to Clearwater with some friends to celebrate the upcoming warm weather, with one stop on the way. Kalyn had a check-up, which threw us for a loop.

Her cancer came back where her “port” was. This was the area on her right side of her body where they inserted the chemotherapy. To make a long rollercoaster short, I’ll just say that it didn’t stop there. It spread to her diaphragm and her lungs and eventually stole her body without even considering her young age of 16 and all the loved ones she would be leaving behind. Although the spread of Kalyn’s cancer was no news to me, the severity was. The family easily left everyone in the dark with how bad it was getting, with Kalyn receiving treatments in Texas, rather than at home.

The news of her death hit me harder than a freight train coming around a sharp corner at full-speed. This was the only time in my life I literally could not breathe. All I could say was “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” as I tried to grasp air. I never got to say good-bye to my best friend and never got to gain that full closure. Even to this day, I wish so badly that I had that moment to tell her how much I loved her as I squeeze her tightly.

As cliché as it sounds, words can honestly never describe this feeling of losing someone so dear to me so unexpectedly at such a young age. It’s a hurt that still stings today, 7 years later. Life may go on without caring to stop to allow us to catch our breath from the hurt and pain. However, God gives me a short moment of comfort each time He strategically allows a monarch butterfly to flutter by me reminding me of this friendship I was graciously blessed with.

- Michaela

I became extremely depressed when Kalyn passed away. I was in the middle of my freshman year of college and I took a turn for the worst. I have never questioned my faith up until this point. How could we pray so much and believe with everything in us that God would heal Kalyn and then He just let her die?

I struggled for the next 7 months, partying, getting mixed up with the wrong crowd, doing anything and everything I could to drown out the pain and sadness I felt. It was the lowest point of my life.

I am so grateful to God that He placed amazing people in my life - people who didn't give up on me and kept encouraging me to get back on track. It was hitting that low place that finally pushed me to REALLY become saved. That is how I found my life verse:

"Now I'm glad that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, not loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has brought you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart..."
- 2 Corinthians 7:9-12

We will never understand why God took Kalyn from us, but what I do know is that hundreds of people were touched because of Kalyn and her story. Without Kalyn, I may not have the faith or relationship that I do with God. She was more of a blessing in my life then she could have ever imagined.
Lastly, MD Anderson participates in a Children's Art Program. They let the children diagnosed with cancer create art that is then translated into cards, notepads, etc. This is a great cause and raises money for the children and their families who are struggling through cancer treatment. Here are Kalyn's items in the store:

I really encourage you to go and check this out!
 Children's Art Store

Oreo Pumpkin Cheesecakes

26 September 2012

I told Ryan I would make him a "Spook-tacular" treat to bring to work today...and that I did...emphasis on the "tacular" part...


And best of all, they take 5 minutes to prepare, 20 to bake. Easy Peasy.

I give you: Oreo Pumpkin Cheesecakes!!!

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Get out two muffin tins. Line the muffin tins with paper liners. This recipe will make 12 cheesecakes. In each liner, place a whole Oreo. If I would have had the orange Halloween ones I would have used those, but I didn't.

In a large bowl, beat together 8oz of 1/3 fat cream cheese and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat for about 2 minutes. Then mix in 1 large egg, 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!!), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbsp all purpose flour, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, a dash of salt, & 1/8 tsp nutmeg. Beat until smooth. It will look like this.

Spoon mixture evenly over Oreos. I used a 3 tbsp stainless steel scoop. It divided it up perfectly.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. As soon as they came out, I used a fork to pop them out of the tins so they could cool faster. This next part is optional, but highly recommended! Once cool, take 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and melt them in the microwave SLOWLY, so you don't burn them. Place melted chocolate in a ziploc and snip a small hole in one of the corners. Pipe 3-4 circles inside one another on top of each cheesecake. Then drag a toothpick from the center outwards to make "spider webs". Place in refrigerator for a few hours before eating!!

So cute!!!

And with the wrapping off....

Oreo Pumpkin Cheesecakes (Makes 12)
  • 12 wholeOreos
  • 8 oz, 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 dash salt
  • ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 Oreo in the bottom of each muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth (about 2 minutes). Mix in vanilla, pumpkin, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and salt until combined. Scrape sides of bowl and whip mixture until completely smooth. Spoon mixture evenly over Oreos. Bake 20 minutes or until cheesecakes have set. Remove from oven to cool.
  3. Microwave chocolate chips slowly, until smooth. Spoon chocolate into a ziploc bag and snip a small hole in one corner. Pipe chocolate in concentric circles on top of cheesecakes. Drag the end of a toothpick through the chocolate to create a spider web, starting in the center and dragging outward. Repeat with remaining cheesecakes. Refrigerate a few hours before serving.

2 Birthday Treats...1 Box Of Cake Mix

20 September 2012

I wanted to figure out a way to not make 50 Cake Pops...So began my idea to split one box of cake mix to make 2 things for Ryan's birthday.

And I was successful!

With 1 box of Funfetti Cake Mix I made:

These were two AWESOME birthday treats and were much more practical portions. I don't need 50 Cake Pops & 24 Pancakes!!!!


No Sew Fleece Blanket

20 September 2012

So Ryan is obsessed with the Giants.

One of his gifts this year was a 'No Sew Fleece Blanket' I made for him.

It only took 90 minutes, start to finish and it's a great gift since you can do it without a sewing machine!

You buy two colors of fleece fabric. The bolts (width) is usually around 60". So just get as many yards as you want so the length is as long as you need. Keep in mind that the ties on the edges take away almost a foot in both length and width. I bought 3 yards.

Layer the two fabrics with the soft sides facing out (like a sandwich).

With the fabrics stacked, evenly cut off the salvage (ugly edges) and make the fabrics equal length/width.

Like this!

Next, cut out 5"x 5" squares at each corner. This is very important! A lot of people cut out 6" squares, but that's a whole foot of fabric lost from the length/width and I don't like the ties that long.

Go along all of the edges and cut 1" strips. Some of mine were closer to 1.5" and it made it A LOT harder to tie - so I'd say to stick with 1" widths.

To tie the knots:
1-4// I did my best to show you how to do this. It's different than just tying the two pieces of fabric together. If you do it this way, the knots will lie flat and look a lot nicer. I kept saying to myself, "Up, around, through"
5// Try to pull the fabric through flat
6// Slide the know up - like a man's tie
7// See the "flat knots"
8// Beautiful

Continue on until you go around the whole blanket. This is the front and back once it was finished.


Ryan opening it...

Happy Birthday Boy!

A great and easy DIY (:

Birthday Funfetti Pancakes

20 September 2012

Funfetti Birthday Pancakes.

This will now be a birthday tradition in our house. These were so delicious and I could see kids looking forward to their birthdays for these pancakes alone!

I decided to make these when I came up with an idea to figure out a way to make two birthday treats from one box of cake mix.

This is pretty easy. Just take 1 1/2 cups of Funfetti cake mix, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 3/4 cup of milk and 1 egg and mix it all together.

Heat a pancake skillet on the stove over medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. I tried both small and large pancakes. The large ones did not work so well. So I'd say to use 3 tablespoons of batter per pancake (I have a stainless steel spring scoop in that size).

Cook for 3 minutes and flip...4 will burn. Cook for an additional 3 minutes on the other side and then transfer to a plate. This will make about 12 small pancakes.

Next, take your choice of frosting. We used this:
 Melt your desired amount in a microwave safe bowl. Add milk until it is the consistency of a glaze (so you can drizzle it). Mix in sprinkles if you want - I did!!!

Serve your special someone their birthday pancakes!!!

Birthday Cake Pops

20 September 2012

Funfetti Birthday Cake Pops.

These are the best Cake Pops I have made to date. No offense to Bakerella, but her recipes for Cake Pops have left mine too moist in the past - disastrous.
 So I set out to use Ryan's favorite cake mix and frosting this time around.

This led to my creation of two birthday treats from one box of cake.

This recipe will make 20 cake pops...a much more feasible amount than the 50 a whole box of cake makes. So this is a half recipe for cake pops, basically.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Open your Funfetti cake mix and measure out 1 1/2 cups of cake mix. Put that in an air tight container to use later or for Funfetti Birthday Pancakes. Pour the remaining cake mix into a bowl. Add in 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, 1/3 cup water, and 1/3 of 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

Ok, I know the oil sounds confusing...just find the 1/3 mark on your measuring cup and only pour in approximately 1/3 of '1/3 cup'. I promise you, if it's not exact, it's ok.

Stir the mix until smooth.

Spray a square pan with cooking spray and pour your batter in.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set on oven top to cool. I immediately cut the cake into four squares so the heat can release and it cools quicker. After about 15 minutes, crumble the cake onto a large plate. Let the crumbles air out for about another 15 minutes.

This is where I think the cake was too moist before. All of the moisture from the heat of baking it, combined with a WHOLE jar of frosting was just too much. If you bake the cake a day early you probably won't have this problem.

After the crumbles have sat, mix in 1/2 cup of frosting...THIS frosting:
This is the best frosting ever!!!!

Once the frosting and cake is fully mixed, make 1 1/2 TB sized balls (I have a spring stainless steel scoop for this)

Place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, melt about 1/4 cup white chocolate melts per the directions on the package. I used the "Almond Bark" white chocolate bar I found at the grocery store next to the chocolate chips. I read that the cheapest candy coating you can find usually works best, even though you may be tempted to buy Godiva brand or something.

After the 10 minutes is up, take the cake balls out of the freezer and get a pack of cookie/lollipop sticks. Dip each stick in the white chocolate and then press into a cookie ball. This will help secure the cookie balls onto the sticks.
Like this.

Here you can see how the chocolate will help stick the two parts together.

Cover the plate(s) again and place in the freezer for 15 more minutes. Melt the remaining chocolate in a glass bowl. Gather any sprinkles you want to use to decorate. My chocolate was too thick once melted, so I added vegetable oil until the chocolate dripped off the spoon when held above the bowl. You don't want your chocolate like frosting. You want to be able to "tap" off extra back into the bowl.

Take the pops back out of the freezer and dip them, straight up and down, into the melted chocolate. Don't swirl them around or they might fall off the sticks. Tap off any excess chocolate and decorate quickly. Set the cake pops upright, into a foam block to dry. Let them set for at least an hour before packaging them.

They are fine to stay in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days.

They turned out so cute!

And SOOOOO Delicious!!
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