Pumpkin Spice Practice

Today I tried a new pumpkin spice recipe from My Cake School. The recipe called for a reverse creaming method. A new one for me. You mix all the dry ingredients first and then slowly add in the liquids.


The cake tasted great, but was a little denser than I expected. I am not sure if that was due to the creaming method or a mistake I made with a late addition of sugar. I am thinking I will use the traditional creaming method the next time I make it.

I frosted the cake with pumpkin spice cream cheese icing. I tried covering the cake with roses. Relish.com had great photos to follow. Not perfect, but happy with it as a first try.


All in all fun day in the kitchen and a keeper recipe.


Make A Plan Monday

Make A Plan Monday was a great success for me last week. I actually marked all but one thing off my master list and I got everything done that was on my starred list! That is a first for this girl. Seriously, I love a cool planner, but they usually don’t do much good. I write stuff down and then that is about the end of it. I was a bit skeptical about if making a list and putting it out there would really make a difference for me. As a former elementary teacher I am staunchly in the one size does not fit all camp. But, when you find something that works for one it can often be tweaked to help others. So that is what I did. I tweaked suggestiions from my many self improvement and organiztion books, and I think it might just be the trick for me. Last week I found myself “on task” much more than usual. I felt a little cheer inside every time I crossed something off. Now let’s see if I can keep it going!

We had a little trouble with alarms this morning, as in no one got up for one! So the day has gotten off to a chaotic start. This normally would be where it all falls apart for me. I would just tell myself I don’t have time and I will do it later and never get around to it. But today I decided this needs to be a ritual for me, something I look forward to and therefore I make the time for. So I have decided Monday’s will consist of a cup of tea in my favorite mug, a review of Brene Brown’s Guideposts for Whole Hearted Living, and a few moments get a handle on the week. Crazy chaotic or not.

Obsessed with Flying Bird Botanicals tea!

I have my yummy tea, I reviewed the Guideposts and I have made my mega to do list. So this week I chose 4 projects/goals to put out into the universe.

  1. Calm- Read at least 50 pages
  2. Self- Make it to at least 1 yoga and 1 pilates reformer class
  3. Create- Blog at least 2 times this week
  4. Play, laugh and dance– Dance and have fun in the kitchen this week while I am working on my baking projects

On a side note, something came to mind while I was writing today. As much as I miss the days of running around with and after Hugh and Bella, sometimes so much that it makes me tear up. There was little to no time for rituals and quiet moments during that period of my life. When everyone overslept it was a mad dash to catch up all day. I am so grateful for all those mad dash days with my kids, but I am finding that I am also grateful for these days that I am now settling into. I can take a moment to make a cup of tea, read a book and think about what I would like to do next. I guess it is all about embracing where you are today.

Have a great day! I hope you have a moment for you!

Thinking about wellness…

It seems to me that the word wellness has become a movement. As I am approaching another birthday and getting increasingly closer to that mid-century marker, I find this word “wellness” to be a much more frequent word in my vocabulary. So I was thinking, “What exactly is wellness and what does it mean to me?”

I thought back to my childhood self. I guess for that kid on her bike riding to the 7 Eleven to get a pack of Hubba Bubba it just meant, “Am I sick or not?” I never thought about if my Grandma’s fried chicken and okra was good for me. It was just good. As a young woman heading down fraternity row or out on the town I started to add fitness into the sick or not equation. Unfortunately, in the 80’s fitness was all about Jane Fonda and how tight you could get your Guess jeans. Neither of which I would have scored too highly in, but I did try. In my 30’s as a young wife, mother and teacher, wellness wasn’t even on my radar. It was definitely about survival and juggling. I guess it was in my 40’s that “wellness” became something I really started to think about. At first, if I am being honest it was really the same as that 20 something girl, but as my 40’s have crept along it has changed significantly. Sure being sick and fit are still a component, but it is really about so much more. Now it is really about how I FEEL. My state of WELLNESS has as much to do with how I am feeling mentally and emotionally as I do physically. I have really bought into the mind, body, spirit mentality. I am not sure if that is just a natural progression that happens with age or a reflection of the wellness culture that is growing around me.

I am realizing that my Simply Laura Lee blog is my wellness project. When I purchased the domain I was going to dive head first into the world of Ayurveda and change my life and the world;0) That didn’t stick. I think it was too singularly focused and way too rigid. Next, it was a place for me to deal with the drastic changes my life was taking and figure out what I should do now that being a mom doesn’t take up my days. Then I was going to become the next great baker. Today, I realize that this blog has all and nothing to do with these things. It is about cultivating a life of wellness with or without a plan. Simply Laura Lee is my place to be creative, feed my interests and share my life.

What does “Wellness” mean to you?

Make A Plan Monday!

Hello and welcome to Make A Plan Monday! So, I have determined I have a bit of a problem with distraction. I have lots of ideas and plans, things I really want to accomplish that never quite seem to get completed. I make lists, but somewhere along the way I lose the list, the drive, or both. So I have come up with Make A Plan Monday as a possible solution to my terminal distractedness. The plan is to sit down every Monday and put all the things I would like to accomplish in my weekly planner. I mean everything, down to cleaning the toilets and mopping the floors. Then I am going to pick 3 to 5 tasks/projects off my list to share. Don’t worry, I will spare you the housekeeping crap. But I am thinking if I put it out THERE that I am working on these projects I might have a little more focus and a little more accountability.

So here goes! I have made my list in the planner. I have decided to star 5 projects from my list and share them here. All are things that I enjoy and bring quality to my life, but often get put off or rushed through. I am not making them goals, but things I AM going to do. Trying a little power of suggestion.

This weeks projects:

  1. Books– I am going to read at least 50 pages this week. I wasn’t sure what a reasonable goal would be. I have a tendency to set goals way to high and then give up when I fall short so I went for a number that sounds easily doable to start with. I love to read and it always seems to be the first thing that gets cut. I want to make sure I get this in.
  2. Blog– I will blog a minimum of 3 times this week. Doesn’t matter what it is about, Just Do It!
  3. Wellness– Get to at least one Yoga and one Pilates class this week.
  4. Create– Create a gift for a friend.
  5. Play– Play with fall cake ball ideas.

So that’s my list for this week. I used take aways from two different books in making my list, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown and The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. If you’re looking for a little light reading to add some inspiration into your daily life I recommend both.

Have a great week!

Friday Follow UP

I spent most of this week working on a Sweet 16 Cake Pop Cake. I made it for a neighbor’s daughter. We started out talking about a basket of pops, but I was thinking that a sweet 16 birthday was in need of something a little more special. I had never made a display before.I made several trips to Michaels and JoAnn’s looking for ideas and just the right materials to make it work. I found a great deal on cake forms on-line, much better prices than anything I could find locally. I had so much fun this week in the kitchen making the pops and in my crafting corner working on the stand.  I had a “oh I remember moment” of a science project of long ago that taught me you can’t paint styrofoam with spray paint without priming it first! Nasty mess, hopefully this time I will stay in my working memory;0) I ended up using crafters paint and that worked awesome! I had a great time! I am hoping the birthday girl is as happy with it as I was!


In the library I started a couple new books, although I didn’t finish any of the others I already had in my basket. I am hoping to set aside more reading time this month. One of the books I started was a recommendation of a friend. She sent me a copy of Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Romm, M.D. on audible. I started listening to it while I was working on my project and it rang true for this over 40 not quite 50 lady. I did pick up a hard copy because I am thinking I could use a little wellness reboot(the whole graduation and sending a kid to college had a significant impact on my scale). I like to keep notes in my nonfiction, trying to be better books like this so I definitely wanted a hard copy. Hopefully I can get some more reading/listening in this weekend and start on the program next week, but no promises.

I must confess my time on the mat was next to none and I can feel it! I am challenging myself to do better next week. I know it makes me feel and think better, but for some reason it is the first thing to go when I get busy.

Well that is my week in review. Have a great weekend! I know I will! I will be enjoying fall and watching a little football with my hubby, Roll Tide!

Looking Back On October

Hope everyone had an Outstanding October and a Happy Halloween! As I look back on the ups and downs of the past month, overall I am pretty pleased. I really started to embrace the “new normal” over the past month. I am starting to get used to having  one less human living here with us. Although it will always pull at my heart that I don’t talk to Hugh every day.  I am getting accustomed to him be so very far away and Bella being an independent senior and needing less of my time. I am embracing the extra time on my  hands to get a little crafty and creative. I have done a few projects around the house that I have been trying to get to for months (possibly years), but most of my time I have been playing around in the kitchen. I have been baking for friends, family and neighbors. Here are just a few images of my October fun.Image-1

I would have to say as much fun as I had working on my projects the two highlights of my month would have to be my college road trip with Bella and Hugh’s first visit home from college. Both went by entirely too fast and seemed to last no more than a minute. I am coming to terms with the fact that they are beginning to formulate their own lives and futures. I know that I will always be part of their lives, but over time my daily role will become less and less. It is important it is to cherish anytime that I have one on one with them, even if it is over in a blink. I miss those little pumpkin heads that followed me around and asked for my help and attention on a daily basis, but it is exciting to see the transformations taking place in each of them. I am trying to focus on the beauty of what is rather than what was.

As I begin to settle into November I have a few goals for myself. I am thinking that I am might do better if I share my goals here. I have recently learned from Gretchen Rubin that I am a textbook obliger. Actually explains a lot

  1. Blog regularly
  2. Devote more time in the library
  3. Spend more time on the mat
  4. Prioritize health and wellness
  5. Keep having fun in the kitchen

Let’s see how I do shall we.