we’re those people.

Not everyone is meant to have a “goals board” staring them smack in the face everyday. But, we have one.

This year, instead of writing a list of goals on a sheet of paper, we decided to put it on one of our walls in the office. Yep! This way, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t remember. I’m not saying that this will make us perfect. No, not at all. But, this will certainly help eliminate most excuses. Last year was pretty amazing and we can’t take any credit; God showed off big time. Our life is blessed beyond measure and that is all thanks to God’s provision of love, care, health and provision of finances.

I love it when I can find something I’d love to have from my Pinterest DIY board, and then convince my husband that we need it. Well, this was one of those exceptions. Ha. So, thanks to Shanty-2-Chic for this awesome DIY step by step guide! I think they made this into a family picture board, but I just totally knew it was exactly what we needed for our goals when I saw it. Our wall in the office had the space & my man has the talent! Tony tweaked some of the measurements and used a stain we preferred (aged wood), then, voila! Look at this thing. It’s just beautiful to look at it in the office and remember what it is we’re shooting for this year, in a nicely framed board.

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I used twine to hang our goals on small note cards. The “Family Goals” letters I had in my craft closet from a previous trip to Target’s dollar section (don’t you love that little corner?) and finally put them to good use! The little clothes-pinned cards were made my me – I just had Tony and I write them down first and then I shortened the goals to give them catchy names or quick drawings, for a spiffier look. On the backside of the cards we’re keeping notes & progress. I must say, it’s been working out great and we’re still in March!

For now, I’ll just leave you with this to soak in. Family goals don’t have to be scary and hazardous. I’ve heard many pros and cons. For us, it’s always been so much fun! Reaching goals is like a game; you want to achieve all of your goals but you know there is always a chance that it will not happen & you’ve just got to be okay with that. The point is that you tried!

With Joy,

V Signature

No. 2 — Chocolate Fudge Cake

So, I’m a little late in posting this second recipe from my Frame By Frame Baking book Tony gifted me for Valentine’s Day. I’ve got to admit, I’m on my 5th recipe this week and the cakes have not failed to amaze me! The book and frame by frame instructions make it fail-proof, not to mention how delicious and different each cake is.

I made this Chocolate Fudge Cake a few weeks back on one of our Sabbath days and it totally knocked our socks off! The chocolate icing was perfect, not too sweet and not too thick. I could’ve done with a little less time for the cake in the oven, but I’ll perfect that later. Here’s a look at my frame by frame:

No 2 - Chocolate Fudge Cake

This cake was delicious, very chocolaty, and hearty. I served mine with some cool whip to mix up the flavor – my husband completely avoided his, he’s totally a chocolate lover. Ha.

I think this is another winner! Will be keeping this for a future dessert, for sure.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 1/4 cup self rising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder

Frosting:

  • 8oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, diced
  • 5 tbsp evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & grease your pan (I used 1 8″ and sliced the cake in half to fill with chocolate)
  2. Place all frosting ingredients in a deep pot & stir, with heat on MED/LOW, until it’s completely melted
  3. Pour out into a bowl & chill in fridge while you prep the cake
  4. Now, mix your butter and sugar in a gown & beat until light and fluffy. Slowly adding in eggs. Then, stir in the corn syrup and almonds.
  5. Sift flour, salt & cocoa powder into a bowl, then fold into the mixture. (at this point, add water so it can become less thick)
  6. Pour mix into your cake pan & bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on your oven
  7. Let your cake cool.
  8. Cover with frosting. (Cut cake horizontally if you’d like to get “two cakes” and fill the mid section with frosting, then stack the top cake again & cover with frosting)

Finally, just cut into slices, serve, and enjoy!

V Signature

No. 1: Classic Cherry Cake

Valentine’s isn’t usually a big “gift” holiday in our home. We’re usually good with a dinner and a movie date; we keep it simple.

This year, after some (a lot) of hints being given (since my birthday in November), my husband surprised me with a new KitchenAid Stand Mixer! Yes, after registering a few times to try to win one through various blogs and contests, and never winning, I think that that alone made him cave. He had me fooled that this probably wasn’t going to happen for a while since we’ve been kicking debt in the butt and saving up for a few things. Long story short, he got me and he got me good.

Along with the stand mixer, he gifted me a baking book, “Frame By Frame Baking“. It’s just about the best designed baking book I’ve ever seen. The photographs are pretty amazing and the steps are fairly clear and easy to follow. The only way I could think of going through this book is by taking it one recipe at a time during our sabbath, our days to rest, Fridays. I’m excited to taste new flavors, try (buy) new kitchen utensils, and slow life down a bit to bake something delicious that fills our home with that sweet homemade smell we love so much.

So, here we go. This is my first recipe from the Frame By Frame Baking: Classic Cherry Cake. It took me a bit longer than expected to make the cake since I had to homemake the candied cherries the recipe called for. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the process every bit of the way. Here’s my frame by frame:

Classic Cherry Cake

I got the how-to recipe on candied cherries from Shauna Sever’s blog, Piece of Cake. Super simple, inexpensive and the cherries came out perfect for the cake! The other ingredients were usuals for cake baking, with the addition of sugar cubes for the topping. I cannot tell you how delicious this cake tastes, the adding lemon rind and juice was definitely a nice touch with the cherries.

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this Classic Cherry Cake recipe, even though I’m not big on cherries. It was such a good balance between the ground almonds and sweet cherries, and lemon juice, that just balanced it all out so well. The cake is soft, sweet, and tastes delicious served warm or at room temperature.

CLASSIC CHERRY CAKE

by Frame By Frame Baking

Ingredients:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 1/4 cups candied cherries, quartered (I left these as is)
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 finely grated lemon rind and juice
6 sugar cubes, crushed

Instructions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees & grease your pan (I used a 6.5″ round pan)
  2. STIR cherries, almonds, and 1 tbsp of the flour
    SIFT leftover flour & baking powder separately
  3. CREAM butter & sugar until it fluffs up, while adding eggs
    BEAT until well blended
  4. ADD flour mix, fold lightly and evenly into the creamed mixture with a metal spoon.
    ADD the cherry mixture, fold in evenly, then fold in the lemon rind & juice.
  5. SPOON the mixt into your pan & sprinkle with the crushed sugar cubes.
    BAKE for 1 – 1 1/4 hours, or until risen & golden brown.
  6. COOL in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Finally, cut into slices and serve and enjoy the delicious cake you baked!

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let me give you the skinny.

There’s so much to update since we haven’t been so good at that. It seems to be so much easier to update to Instagram with a photo and blurb, and be done with it. So, let’s be real – can we do one post a month (or two), at least? I think we can try that.

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I can’t say not much has changed because, that’s just the case, so much has happened. One of the highlights so far is that we’ve gotten ourselves on the healthy train. Yep! It’s true. Late October I decided that after realizing I was not feeling (or looking) great.  I was at my heaviest weight. (I still can’t get myself to say how much, but I’m sure I will soon.) I was having back pains almost daily and felt so bloated most days, and the final straw was that I was having to go up another pant size. So, I started cooking healthier and trying to get up to walk around more often at work and at home but it was going to be a slow go but we were excited. We were already noticing that we were feeling better.

My AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge WEB

Next thing you know, right around that time, I saw the results of a friend that began using AdvoCare’s 24-Day Challenge. After having a few text conversations with her about it, I met her up and I was in. I couldn’t believe it, never had I done any kind of program or lifestyle change this serious. Everything was about to change but it was about time for me to do something about the uncomfortable stage I was in. So, I got on my 24-Day Challenge and hit it hard. I followed the program, used the supplements and avoided most of the foods (high in dairy, sodium and sugars) that were keeping me at my current weight and stage of unhealthiness.

My result: I lost 21 pounds and 5″ off my waist. I’m not kidding! I worked out about 8 days of my total 24 days but stuck to my strict meal plan. Tony was so excited with my results that he decided to do a 24 Day Challenge himself. He lost 10 pounds (and this was during our birthdays, anniversary and Thanksgiving)! That’s pretty amazing. I’m ecstatic to say that 3 months later I’ve now lost a total of 30 pounds. For Tony, it’s been 2 months and he’s lost 16 pounds. We still use some of the AdvoCare products, don’t workout much because of time but have completely changed our eating habits. I’m excited to share some of our favorite new meals in the future posts. Stay tuned!

With Joy,
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the world’s worst bloggers.

It is quite apparent that Tony and I are officially terrible bloggers. I can hardly believe we are 8 months into the year and have not made a single post about all the goodness that has happened.

© TheVillatoros.com Baby NiecesTo give you a quick wrap-up, we’ve moved to a slightly bigger apartment – with a second bathroom (thank you, Jesus!) and some more dining/living room space for our home gatherings which is working out so well! Our Grace Group is growing and living on mission. So thankful we got to attend two conferences as well, ACTS29 and SEND. We got to learn more and received much needed encouragement. We now have a total of three nieces!🙂 Two baby nieces were born in April, Galia and Ilena (check out their photo, done by me🙂 I’m a proud “Tia”). Yes, they are twins and they are the epitome of JOY along with our first niece, Ellie, who is growing and incredibly smart!

© TheVillatoros.com on VacationAs for Tony and I, we’ve had big highs and some lows but through them both God’s grace has been so near. His undeserved love and provision has been constant, always, and for that I am grateful. Tony has grown so much as my husband, my leader, my teacher, my pastor. God has also been working in me, in my heart, to get through many fears and insecurities that I alone put up myself. I must say, I feel like I have also grown a lot. I am not perfect, far from it, but I can look back and see where and how God has changed my heart. He has reminded me that I am not to live to satisfy myself but to serve others, most of all, my husband. Recently, we got to take an awesome cruise vacation and time off from everything. Our time together and the plentiful rest we received was amazing!

For now, I’ll keep this update short.🙂 I’ll have a post coming up this week for our current Labor Day DIY home project. Hint Hint – it has to do with our home office! Yipee!

With Joy & By His Grace,
Ruthie V.

Our Family’s First Advent

The Villatoros Christmas 2012

Believe it or not, Tony and I have never celebrated Advent. Yes, our background has a lot to do with that. Ha. Last year, I guess the newlywed status got the best of us and we didn’t plan it. This year, Desiring God is helping us out…

“Advent is an annual season of patient waiting, hopeful expectation, soul-searching, and calendar-watching marked by many churches, Christian families, and individual followers of Jesus. There’s no biblical mandate to observe Advent. It’s an optional thing—a tradition that developed over the course of the church’s history as a time of preparation for Christmas Day. Many of us find observing Advent to be personally enjoyable and spiritually profitable.”
Good News of Great Joy, Preface

I can’t imagine a better way to spend time together as a family by seeking Jesus this Christmas with these daily devotionals. Tony and I are so excited for this and wanted to share it with you all so you can consider celebrating Advent with us! Download the eBook for the Good News of Great Joy devotionals here.

Ladies, think of a fun way to set this up around the house! Pinterest has very cute ideas on how to make your own calendars and how to include the kiddos. Gentlemen, lead your family this season by making time to read these devotionals together daily.

With Joy,
Ruthie

Tim Keller Took my Weekly Allowance…

Well, I gave it to him. Sort of.

Tim Keller’s new book, “Center Church,” has been out for a few weeks. One of my friends had read a bit from it already and had encouraged me to buy it. I had seen it around and had read good reviews on it. So, when another friend of mine told me that Lifeway had it on sale for $19.99 instead of the original asking price of $29.99, I got happy. Yes, I did.

See, my wife and I have set for ourselves a weekly allowance. We use that allowance for eating out during the week, buying an overpriced drink at Starbucks, purchasing chips at the convenient store and things of that nature. We try to stay under our weekly allowance. So, when my friend told me about the sale on Tim Keller’s new book, I got happy. I rushed out and bought it… with my weekly allowance! Im glad next week is right around the corner. I would have hated to have spent my weekly allowance on Monday.

I cannot wait to dig into this 8 section textbook of how to do Gospel ministry in the city where I, as part of a church, am called to reach.

…And remember this post was not really about the book (although I’ve attached a pic and a video of it). This post was about me giving Tim Keller my weekly allowance.

-Mr. Villatoro