Lemon Lilt Cake

cake Lemon Lilt Cake

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “lilt” as “a pleasant, gentle accent,” and perfectly describes the flavor of Lemon Lilt Cake. While I contend that the more lemon flavor a dish has, the better it tastes, I realize that not everyone enjoys such a robust twang. Lemon Lilt Cake is for those who want a gentle flavor of lemon instead of one that is overpowering. 

Following the same recipe skeleton as my Chocolate Chip Pound Cake, Lemon Lilt Cake is a super simple cake to make. Start with a box of Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix.

cake mix Lemon Lilt Cake

Add in a box of Jello Lemon Pudding.

jello Lemon Lilt Cake

Find a darling preteen girl who loves to bake, and get her to do the stirring for you.

Mixer Lemon Lilt Cake

Mix in half a cup of water, a cup of oil, 4 eggs, an 8 oz container of sour cream, and a tablespoon of vanilla. Find another cutie to help mix it all together.

stir Lemon Lilt Cake

Pour into a bunt pan sprayed with baking spray, while the littlest cutie looks on with great anticipation.

Sister Lemon Lilt Cake

Bake at 325 degrees for an hour. Remove from oven and turn onto a cake plate to cool for a few hours.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze to pour over the top. Melt a stick of butter and mix in two cups of confectioner’s sugar and three tablespoons of lemon juice. When cake is cool, pour glaze over top. Slice and serve.

recipe title Lemon Lilt Cake
Lemon Lilt Cake
recipe title Lemon Lilt Cake
A sweet, slightly tangy cake with a lovely lilt of lemon.
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  1. One box of Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
  2. One box of Jello Lemon Pudding
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 8 oz. sour cream
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1 cup vegetable oil
  7. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. 1 stick melted butter
  2. 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. This is a super easy recipe. Just mix all cake ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spray a bunt pan with baking spray, and bake in 325 degree oven for an hour. When done, turn onto cake plate and let cool for a couple of hours.
  2. To make glaze, mix melted butter, confectioner's sugar, and leon juice together until smooth. Pour over cooled cake.
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Educating Kids During Summer

CNN1 Educating Kids During Summer

A long school year will soon be coming to a close. While kids are predictably excited, many parents are left wondering how to keep their children engaged in learning over the summer. As a homeschooling mom, I am often asked how parents can continue educating kids during summer, while at the same time giving kids a break from the pressures of school.

School isn’t easy. Children today are under more pressure to perform academically than at any time in history. Mountains of testing and homework promise to deliver academically superlative kids, but children often emerge from the school year burned out and hating school. My best advice to parents just beginning their summer – allow kids some time and space to decompress from the pressure of school. Take a break from the busy pace and allow kids time to play outside with friends, swim at the neighborhood pool, and have sleep-overs. This approach might not look like a traditional education, but maintaining a slower pace allows kids to be kids, which is one of the primary way they learn life skills like effective communication, creativity, and problem-solving.

Sometimes as parents, we think learning only happens if kids are in a classroom or have their noses stuck in a workbook. But learning happens all day every day as children explore the world and their place in it. When parents think outside the box of traditional educational methods, they allow children to learn through play, adventure, living life beside their parents, and experiencing new things. A trip to the grocery store becomes a lesson in math as they learn to shop for the best bargain, a lesson in science as they learn how to determine whether fruit is ripe, and a lesson in hospitality as they plan the menu for a sleep-over. Reading a fairy tale with your child allows them to visit other worlds and expand their imagination. A visit to the hair salon teaches them how to communicate with adults and how to use polite manners. All of these are necessary life skills that aren’t necessarily learned from a textbook, and the slow pace of summer provides rich teaching time in these areas.

When parents want to create more intentional, purposeful educational opportunities for their children, the two ways I find to be most effective are travel and service projects. When children travel, especially to cultures different that what they grow up in, their views of the world change. They see that the way they live isn’t the only right way. They experience new ideas that expand their way of thinking. They learn to celebrate people’s difference for adding richness to life.

Service projects can have similar effects on children. Seeing people in need softens children’s hearts to the world around them. They learn that not everyone is as blessed as they are. Serving others teaches children to see other people as fellow human beings, each with their own story of struggle and triumph. It gives kids a sense of responsibility to care for each other. It gives them a tangible way to live out their call from God to care for the poor and give help to those in need.

Summer can be a wonderful time of learning and growing for children. Even though it might not look like a traditional education, parents can play an active role in continuing their children’s learning, even during the off months.

Gap Year Experiences

There’s a new-to-me phenomenon in education that I’m all shook up over (in a good way). I’m seeing more and more that high school seniors are taking a “gap year” between high school graduation and college to travel and/or work abroad. I couldn’t be more in love with this idea. The majority of students who take advantage of a gap year experience report that the two main reasons they do so are burnout from the competitive pressures of high school and the desire to find out more about themselves. When I was a high school senior, this wasn’t really a socially accepted or parent accepted notion. You went straight from high school to college, and that’s just what you did. Looking back, I think so many kids could have benefitted from a year off to figure out where they want to go in life and what they want to do with their time for the long haul.

The American Gap Association (Who knew there was such an organization, right?) reports that the three highest rated outcomes of a gap year are:

  • Gaining “a better sense of who I am as a person and what is important to me”
  •  Giving students “a better understanding of other countries, people, cultures, and ways of living” 
  • Providing students with “additional skills and knowledge that contributed to my career or academic major”

Missionary and blogger Seth Barnes says that sending his two oldest children on World Race’s gap year experience is “one of the best things we ever did to help them lead full lives and make their faith their own.” He says further, “(A gap year) introduces you to the person that God wants you to be. You’ll learn how God wants to use that to live the life he created you for.”

My friend Melissa, whose beautiful 18 year old daughter Meredith is also participating in the World Race Gap Year program says, “I personally feel that traveling to other cultures cannot be substituted with the class room. Young people need to see that the way we live is not the only way; the way we worship is not the only way. We tend to want to stay in our bubble and not venture out, but that is not Biblical, and to me, tends to make a person even more self-centered instead of other-centered. Meredith has seen unspeakable evil, but she has also seen incredible joy in hardships (like the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban, and people who praise God for what little they have while living in squalor). You cannot duplicate that experience just going straight to college.” Meredith’s gap year experience has taken her to three countries in nine months to work with people in poverty. She’s been to Honduras, the Philippines, and Botswana.

The American Gap Association reports that students participating in a gap year experience gain a better ability to focus on academics once they returned to college. “Taking a 1-year break between high school and university allows motivation for and interest in study to be renewed.” Not only do students do well in school, but they also fare better after graduation. Students who participate in a gap year experience are overwhelmingly more satisfied with their careers after college. Upon further questioning, participants explained that by participating in a gap year in which they saw more of the world and the problems people face, their focus became less self-centered and more others-centered. As a result, the careers they chose were ones that brought great satisfaction because they were more geared toward serving other people.

Are there risks to taking a gap year? Of course. My friend Melissa says about her daughter, “The biggest risk to me is that the student may not wish to pursue higher ed afterward. But that is with my mama hat on, and my fear of the unknown future. Of course, I think that Meredith needs an education so that she has skills to offer on the mission field when she returns. That is not necessarily God’s path for her, however.”

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Have you or your children taken a gap year? If so, what was your experience like? Benefits or risks? Share!

Birmingham Parade of Homes

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This weekend I had the privilege of spending a few hours at the 2014 Birmingham Parade of Homes Ideal Home. It is an absolutely stunning home in the Ross Bridge neighborhood of Hoover, and it was built by Murphy Home Builders. The incredible interiors on this home were a joint project between the builder and interior designer Bee Martin Little at Set to Sell Staging. I promised you a full tour last week, so without further ado…

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As you enter the home through the foyer, the formal dining room is immediately to your left. Though it is considered the “formal” dining room, the room’s relaxed feel makes it much more comfortable and inviting than a traditional stuffy dining room.

DR Full Birmingham Parade of Homes

DR Buffet Birmingham Parade of Homes

The color of the walls is Sherwin Williams’s Intellectual Grey, and it is accented by a beautiful patterned tone-on-tone wallpaper on one accent wall.

DR wallpaper Birmingham Parade of Homes

And it is crowned with a lovely tray ceiling and two gorgeous lantern pendants.

DR ceiling Birmingham Parade of Homes

Connecting the dining room to the kitchen is a wonderful butler’s pantry.

butlers pantry Birmingham Parade of Homes

Though a butler’s pantry is typically a small room, even the smallest details received attention.

butlers pantry tile Birmingham Parade of Homes

The butler’s pantry leads you into the to-die-for kitchen.

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Can’t you imagine entertaining family and friends in this gorgeous and well-planned space?

kitchen range Birmingham Parade of Homes

kitchen fridge Birmingham Parade of Homes

kitchen cabs Birmingham Parade of Homes

The kitchen adjoins the family room.

Den full Birmingham Parade of Homes

den painting Birmingham Parade of Homes

den bookcases Birmingham Parade of Homes

den fireplace Birmingham Parade of Homes

And just off the back side of the kitchen and family room is a lovely breakfast room that has windows on three sides. Oh, the beautiful natural light in this cozy space!

breakfast room Birmingham Parade of Homes

This built-in bench provides a ton of seating!

Breakfast room bench Birmingham Parade of Homes

Just out the back door is a lovely outdoor room, complete with lots of seating, a TV, and a fireplace to warm the space on cool nights.

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porch fireplace Birmingham Parade of Homes

The master bedroom suite is a calm, peaceful retreat. It would be the perfect space to end a long day.

MBR full Birmingham Parade of Homes

The gorgeous paint color is Sherwin Williams’s Sea Salt.

MBR dresser Birmingham Parade of Homes

The artwork in the room ties it all together wonderfully.

MBR painting Birmingham Parade of Homes

And the room is toped off with this beautiful tray ceiling with white-washed pine planks and distressed chandelier.

MBR ceiling Birmingham Parade of Homes

The bedrooms flows right into the master bath, which is a lovely combination of marble, tile, beautiful fixtures, and bold pattern.

MBa cabinets Birmingham Parade of Homes

MBa tub Birmingham Parade of Homes

MBa flooring Birmingham Parade of Homes

Heading downstairs, there is a man cave with another complete kitchen.

man cave kitchen Birmingham Parade of Homes

man cave island Birmingham Parade of Homes

The downstairs area also features a large media room, a small game room, a guest bedroom, and a full bathroom. Upstairs boasts, several bedrooms (I lost count. Maybe four??), an additional kids’ media room, and several more bathrooms. Needless to say, there is plenty of room in this home for family and guests. But the things that make it so special are the details.

Like the wallpaper accent wall in the guest bathroom…

detail wallpaper Birmingham Parade of Homes

The drink fridge in the kitchen island…

detail drink fridge Birmingham Parade of Homes

The detail on the interior doors…

detail interior doors 682x1024 Birmingham Parade of Homes

The stunning light fixtures…

detail lighting Birmingham Parade of Homes

The octagon tile in the kids’ bath…

detail tile Birmingham Parade of Homes

And the stamped and stained concrete sidewalk…

detail sidewalk Birmingham Parade of Homes

Somebody is going to be very happy raising their family in this home!

The Parade of Homes continues next weekend, April 12 and 13, from 10:00-6:00 on Saturday and 1:00-6:00 on Sunday. There are 77 homes on the Parade this year, so get out and see as many of them as you can.

2014 Birmingham Parade of Homes Starts This Weekend

You guys know how much I love to look through Pinterest and design blogs to get ideas for beautiful home decorating. You know what I love even better than that? Seeing beautiful homes in person! This weekend is the first of two weekends for the Birmingham Home Builders’ Parade of Homes. If you love touring gorgeous homes as much as I do, join me Saturday from 10:00 til 1:00 at the Birmingham Ideal Home located in Ross Bridge. I’ll be there with the B-Metro blogging team, along with Beth at Unskinny Boppy. I had the opportunity to tour this gorgeous home built by Murphy Homes at the kick-off party on Thursday night, and y’all, it is absolutely FABULOUS!

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Here are a few sneak peeks of the house:

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I’ll be back next week with a full tour of the home, but in the meantime come on out to the Parade and see it yourself! The Parade is this weekend, April 4-5 and next weekend, April 11-12. The homes are open to the public on Saturday from 10:00-6:00 and Sunday from 1:00-6:00. This is a FREE event, and you are welcome to bring cameras and take lots of pictures. If you can’t make it to the Ideal Home in Ross Bridge, there are 76 other homes on the Parade, and they are all worth seeing.

To follow along with our social media coverage tomorrow, be sure to “like” The Hill Hangout on Facebook and follow The Hill Hangout on Twitter. Also, you can follow the Greater Birmingham Parade of Homes on their Facebook page and on Twitter. While on Twitter and Instagram, be sure to check out the #BhamParade hashtag to see lots of photos.

All photos courtesy of Murphy Homes.