hey tampa bae

the GREAT british baking project

Stacey OswaldComment

I'm obsessed with The Great British Baking Show. And I'm not afraid to admit it. 

I have spent entire evenings sitting on my couch, completely engrossed with this show. It's easily the most pleasant, joy-inducing program on Netflix, and as someone who loves to bake (or used to, at least), I'm not surprised that it's become a favorite for me.

Back in college, I had dreams of going to culinary school. During my senior year, I got blessed with the opportunity to co-found a macaron business. I loved it, and it taught me so much, but it also turned my passion into a job. As the orders came flying in, I became more and more stressed out about making the perfect fillings for these little French cookies, and I stopped wanting to bake in my free time. 

 
 

Before co-founding the business, I baked (and cooked) all the time, completely for fun. It was honestly one of my greatest stress relievers. So when I stopped wanting to bake at all, I lost that outlet, and it made the whole process of making food a lot less enjoyable. I started ordering more takeout, and while I'd have my cooking sprees, it was never the same. 

When my eating disorder got really bad, food became a major source of stress, which led me to stop cooking completely. I knew that even if I tried, I would just end up in an unstoppable binge/purge cycle, and it wasn't worth that pain. All of my cookbooks got dusty on my bookshelf, and the only time my kitchen got use was when my boyfriend cooked for me. 

Now, things are obviously a lot better, but it's taken me a while to get my cooking bug back. Recently, I've found myself in the kitchen a lot more, and I think part of it has to do with The Great British Baking Show. Watching it has helped me remember how much joy I used to find in the process of baking- it was never really about eating the food, at least not at first. It was just about spending time alone in the kitchen, and letting my senses guide my creativity. 

 
 

So why am I writing about all of this? I had an interesting thought last week, amidst one of my Netflix binges. What if I cooked my way through the show, just like that one woman cooked her way through Julia Child's cookbook? I want more than anything to rediscover my love of baking, and I know my boyfriend is dying to eat all the amazing food I used to make. 

Pretty much on the spot, I decided to commit myself to baking my way through the show: I'm calling it The Great British Baking Project. Everyone in my family probably thinks I'm crazy, because they know (and I do, too) that it will be hard and time-consuming in moments. But that's the thing- I want a challenge at this point in my life. Grad school doesn't start until the fall, and while I'm working at CAMP as a yoga teacher and a blogger, I have more free time than I feel comfortable with. So I'm ready to work myself a little harder than I'm used to right now, because I'm craving that sense of purpose I get from being busy. 

I'm going to start from Season 1 and work my way through all of the challenges. I'll do an entire episode per week, so next week is "cake week." It consists of a swiss roll, Mary Berry's cherry cake, and miniature British cakes. Unless it's the technical challenge, I'll only use recipes as starting points- I really want to make the recipes my own, just like I used to back in the day. Because I have some experience as a food blogger, I'll photograph the whole baking process, as well as the end result. Hopefully I don't suck! Fingers crossed. 

 
 

I'm starting the day I come back from Austin (AKA Tuesday). I'm planning on doing the swiss roll on Wednesday, the cherry cake on Thursday, and the mini cakes on Friday. Paul's dad comes in this weekend, so I don't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen while he's here. I think he might enjoy walking into a house full of baked goods, though! 

I won't be too hard on myself if I end up falling short on any given week- life happens, and I'm prepared for that. But I am excited to get back into baking (and blogging!) and I hope that y'all will follow my journey! You can find me on Instagram at @cupcakesnkaleshakes- I'll be posting there most regularly. 

So with that... talk to you all soon. Like super soon. 

Xo,
Stace

making SMOO-GURT bowls a thing

Stacey OswaldComment

I know we've all heard of breakfast for dinner... but what about breakfast for lunch? If cozying up to some pancakes in the evening is okay, why can't I have a warming bowl of oatmeal in the afternoon without judgment? Seriously, try it.  

The other day, I decided to make a yogurt parfait for lunch, but I wanted to add in some extra nutrients. I tend to feel a lil guilty if I haven't had any vegetables by dinnertime, so I always squeeze them into breakfast via a smoothie or lunch with a salad. Since I'm so used to making green smoothies, I started to wonder if I might be able to use yogurt in place of almond milk and blend the mixture extra thick to make a smoothie bowl of sorts. I was suddenly so excited by this idea that I had to try it right away, even though it was only 11AM. I eat like an old person, it's fine. 

 
 

The end result is an amazing hybrid between thick coconut milk yogurt and a creamy green smoothie, so I'm deciding to call it a smoo-gurt bowl! I swear guys, I'm going to make this a thing. 

Read on for the recipe, and let me know in the comments if you try it out! 

Avocado Smoo-gurt Bowl

 
 

Ingredients:
1/2 avocado
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
1 cup spinach
1/2 frozen banana
1 tsp maple syrup
1 scoop vanilla Perfect Fit protein powder
optional toppings: coconut chips, fruit, granola, whatever you want! 

Directions:
Simply blend all ingredients together and layer with toppings! 
I like to keep things simple :) 

BUSCH GARDENS

travelStacey OswaldComment

Paul and I purchased the Tampa CityPASS last weekend at the Florida Aquarium, in the hopes of hitting five major attractions within nine days. The pass is a steal at $99, especially if you can manage to hit all five. But even if you go to only three, like us, you're still getting good bang for your buck. Tickets to Busch Gardens are $79, and the zoo is priced at $27.95, so even if you go to only those two, you're saving money with the CityPASS. Cool, right? 

On the topic of Busch Gardens... DEFINITELY splurge on the Quick Queue passes once you have your admission tickets. They are beyond worth it. Skipping lines is the most gratifying activity in the world, and it allows you to hit all the rides in a shorter period of time. Just don't bother adding on the extra $10 to skip the line for Cobra's Curse (see later section in post regarding this ride). 

The roller coasters at Busch Gardens are INSANE. My favorite is Cheetah Hunt- it accelerates 3 times throughout the course of the ride, and it takes you on a really scenic path through running water and greenery. Plus it's fast, as every roller coaster should be. 

Montu is consistently one of my favorites. Your feet dangle, it does a ton of loops, and it has a long ride time so it's always worth the wait. Can't beat a classic! 

Kumba is consistently rated one of the best roller coasters in the country, for good reason, and it's one of Paul's favorites. It beats you up with lots of quick turns and loops- I always walk off of this one with a slight headache. But worth it if you like big coasters! 

Falcon's Fury is legitimately terrifying. It takes you really really high, flips you sideways so you're looking at the ground (like a falcon- get it???), holds you there for FAR too long, and drops you. I was screaming bloody murder, and I typically don't get scared on roller coasters. So beware, if you're one who gets freaked out easily. 

SheiKra is great, but definitely try to get the front row. It's a ride with an almost 90 degree drop, and you don't get as big of a thrill if your view is blocked by people's heads. Cobra's Curse, BG's newest ride, is cool but not worth the extra $10, as previously stated. It's pretty slow in comparison to the other rides, and it doesn't do all that much. Just speed over there right when the park opens so you can skip the line without the added premium, as it is worth experiencing. 

I loved/hated seeing the animals. Loved because they were super close and extremely beautiful, hated because I despise the idea of putting animals in cages. Are any of y'all torn about zoos? I want to appreciate them for their conservation efforts, but I can never tell if organizations are being honest about their practices. And if I hate Sea World, shouldn't I hate other forms of animal captivity, too? #conflicted

On the topic of food- we happened to go to Busch Gardens the day after embarking on our lil vegan challenge, so it was definitely more difficult to eat there than I anticipated. But we totally made it work! Serengeti Overlook offered a great buffet with several vegan options: potato salad, green salad, quinoa salad, and fruit salad! SALAD FOR DAYSSSS. The chef even came out to walk us through the buffet and point out specifically which items were vegan. I 100% recommend this restaurant- for the food, and its amazing view! 

I already can't wait to go back to Busch Gardens! Howl-O-Scream, anyone? 

PS- If anyone has happened to notice an increased level of photo quality... blame Paul. He's officially the blog photographer, so from here on out, he'll be taking most of the pictures I post. Except food pictures (ie. the ones on my Instagram and even the DSLR ones on the blog), which I will always take. I also do all of my own photo editing.