Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake

I am a huge lover of chocolate but rarely take the time and effort to bake something from scratch. This year however I have committed to being more deliberate with how I choose to spend my “free” time. These heart shaped cake are the perfect thing!

This Valentine’s Day I wanted to be deliberate and intentional in creating something luscious, chocolatety, and seductive. A practice of self love and love for others, right?

Chocolate + raspberry with a minimal hint of orange will bring just that. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this.

It may be a tad more work than a whipping up a cake mix from a box or buying something from the bakery, but I’m feeling excited to create something so wonderful.

Intentional. Deliberate. And soooooo good.

Ingredients

  • Cake Mix:
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup of raspberry jam
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • Two drops pure wild orange EO
  • 12 oz bag of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Red and white sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

  1. Beat softened cream cheese and raspberry in a bowl. Add powdered sugar and whipping cream, mix on high speed until smooth. Place in the refrigerator.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Next, add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat well until mixture has no lumps.
  3. Fill up each opening halfway with batter. If you decide to make cupcakes instead, fill up liners about a 1/3 full. You can find the mold I use in my Amazon shop below.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Once done, place mini cakes on cooling rack and allow them to completely cool. (I place them in the refrigerator to speed up the process)
  5. Carefully cut the mini cakes lengthwise and place both halves on the cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath. (You’ll need it later to catch the excess chocolate)
  6. Add a spoonful of the raspberry filling to the flat side of one cake half and top with the second half.
  7. Melt dark or semi-sweet chocolate until smooth according to package instructions.
  8. Pour melted chocolate over mini cakes until fully covered. Smooth out with a spatula if needed. Add festive sprinkles or candies of your choice. Place in the refrigerator until chocolate sets.

February Love

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. – Brené Brown

As we move into February, I hope that this will be a month filled with an abundance of love, especially for yourself. As we know, this kind of abundant love comes from our inner heart and must be first directed at ourselves.

Learning to love who we are can be the doorway to experiencing a life filled with joy and richness.

For most people it is much easier to love others than it is to love ourselves. Speaking of others, be sure to check out for my LOVE gifts mini-catalog for your beloved or for you! There is something for everyone!

When we are living busy lives that are filled with everything that comes with being human; stressful jobs, demanding families, chronic pain, overpacked schedules. it is incredibly difficult to feel healthy and comfortably rested. When that is our overall experience day to day, the result is that we become stressed and burned out.

In order to nurture the health of our mind, body, and soul, we need ways to recenter and restore. We need to learn to cultivate these practices in short spurts throughout the day. A quick walk, reading a chapter in a book, calling a friend are just some of the things that can feed your soul.

Become a master at self care.

Over the years I have become a master at the art of self-care. It was not always this way and over time my entire being had taken a toll. Now, I take daily walks to reconnect. I have developed a rich morning routine. A good network of friends is a must. Having satisfaction with work is key. Working a jigsaw puzzle feeds me. And there is not a day that goes by without a luxurious bubble bath to sooth my soul.

One of the first steps is to simplify your schedule and make time for YOU.

It may sounds difficult, but the rewards are so rich. And the best part? By loving on yourself, you will in turn be loving on others with a better attitude and less stress. I’d love for you to take a listen to a recent podcast I was a guest on that describes how I went into the heart and learned to love myself and my life.

Speaking of loving yourself, I am offering a self-care package this month that is worth every penny. You’ll get three beautiful yoga practices to add to your library, my custom blend called UNCONDITIONAL, a soothing foot salve and bath bombs all bundled into a gorgeous package. I even have a special package just for the special men in your life!

This month is also a time to look at your physical heart and make a commitment to care for it through healthy choices like eating clean and exercise. Find ways to incorporate movement into your life and your heart will be happy. When the days are cold and blustery, consider making a hearty vegetable soup to warm your insides or enjoy a warm bath infused with lavender. Also, taking a few minutes everyday to be grateful is a powerful exercise in cultivating love. I find that gratitude is the best way to stay in a full heart of goodness.

As we focus on love this month be sure that beyond all the candies, flowers and romance, remember that YOU are enough exactly as you are. You are worth it and your life has purpose and meaning.

Look into your eyes and see what I see.

I have a variety of ways this month to nurture your mind, body and spirit. My events are all virtual and can take place anywhere! Be sure to sign up so that you get the goodies that often come with the learning opportunity.

The beauty you see in me is simply a reflection of you. ~Rumi

My Lantern

Although I feel like I have spent the last ten years or so doing tons of self-work and unpeeling of the layers and layers of ‘stuff’ that has accumulated in my life, I still love that I am willing to do deep soul work.

A few years ago was a definite year of courage and the willingness to listen to my inner voice.  As the dust began to settle from the major changes in my life, I took a month or so off from the heaviness that can come when you are in the labyrinth of self-improvement.  Establishing myself into my new home space and adjusting (again) was my focus. It felt so good to pause from the rigorous self development and instead just enjoy myself.

A course on courage.

Not soon after, I began an online course on Courage.  Brene Brown has been one of my favorite authors and speakers in the last few years and when the course was offered, I said a gigantic YES.  To be guided through courage, vulnerability and shame with a leading researcher and expert was an opportunity I was not going to pass on.

Knowing that I had spent the previous year in the ‘arena’, I was curious as to what I would find I would need to explore in the bravery realm, but willing I was to examine it.  Lesson one offered over one hundred values to identify just one that guides your way in life; everything from accountability to balance to faith to humility to love to optimism to spirituality to well-being.  Where do you hold your highest regard and when this value is not in place you know you are off your path? In my ego mind I wanted my chosen value to be something easy like compassion or kindness.  My soul said go deeper than that and asked what is it that I know for sure, when this is threatened, I am off my center?

Safety.

Safety?? Yea, like in the form of being judged, not being seen or understood for who I am, financial risks, being unorganized and chaotic, feeling unsure of decisions, having people in my life who are disrespectful or threatening, allowing fear to creep in, etc.

Safety.

I wear the armor to protect my safety.

So going into the ‘arena’ again, I had to be open to the rawness and vulnerability of the emotional exposure around this value of safety and to be willing to set the armor down.

The Lantern

Using the metaphor of a lantern, she explains that the flame that burns is the identified value. The glass that surrounds the flame illustrates the behaviors you display and people that you have in your life that protect that value.  The handle of the lantern symbolizes when you have set your value down and walked away allowing your ship to get off course.

My flame is safety. My glass (behaviors and people) that keep my flame protected include  boundaries, choices, self-respect, meditating, journaling, keeping a budget, being organized, people who support and honor me, a knowing and exploring of self.  When I have set this value down I am allowing fear to enter, I take risks, I allow people to speak or treat me in ways that hurt, I am not grounded and I worry irrationally.

Knowing that this value is held in such high regard to me, I can see why some life decisions I have made, and the experiences I have been offered, have caused me to feel such anguish. In addition to better understanding what it is that stokes my flame, I am way more armed with tolerance as to what makes me tick and then respond when the value is threatened.

Safety.

Indeed my highest value for my life is safety.  I know when it is threatened or I am off course because of the internal responses that I have that then lead to behaviors that diminish the flame.  It is so clear to me now.  While compassion or kindness may have been easier, I am so grateful for this new knowledge about myself and can move forward in my life with a strong flame and people and behaviors that will protect that part of me.

Balancing Your Energy Centers

Are you curious about your energy centers, also known as chakras? Years ago I had heard about them but had no idea what they were. Since then I have spent years studying the chakra system and learning powerful ways to balance them so that my mind, body and spirit are optimal.

There are seven major energy centers in the body known as ‘Chakras’.

Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means “wheel”. Our seven main chakras are connected to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. Blocked energy in our seven chakras can often lead to illness, so it’s important to understand what each chakra represents and what we can do to keep this energy flowing freely.

There are many ways to go about balancing the chakras but two of the most accessible, effective and relaxing practices are aromatherapy and crystal therapy. When paired correctly, crystals and essential oils can create potent combinations that help to release blocked energy and restore the body to full charge.

Chakras are invisible to the naked eye and yet interconnect our physical and spiritual selves.

Each of the seven chakras is tied directly to a specific region and nerve center of the body. It is believed that each of the chakras absorbs and filters the energy that we emit through our thoughts and actions as well as through the thoughts and actions of all those that we come into contact with. When one of the chakras is out of balance as a result of negative energy flowing through it, it begins to spin too slowly or too fast. When a chakra is not balanced, it can effect that physical region of the body and also effect very specific aspects of our spiritual and emotional selves.

I am so excited to share with you an ENTIRE chakra series ONLINE.

You can choose between investing in the entire series for a discounted bundle rate, or pick and choose which chakra you’d like to focus on. I am happy to help guide you through a quick assessment of which energy center you might want to address.

For each chakra we will focus on the aspects of that energy center and learn how to balance it through discussion, yoga session, a custom essential oil blend with gemstones, and a beautiful crystal. Cost per chakra is $30, or the entire series/blends/gemstones is $197 (valued at $315)Also included is a free downloadable ebook. Once registered you will get an email from me with content and a package in the mail!

Stacie believes that it is her life purpose to share the gift of Yoga with anyone who is willing to say yes. In addition to raising a family and being an advocate for those with disabilities, Stacie is founder of Embracing Spirit Yoga which specializes in bringing adaptive Yoga into community centers and rehabilitation clinics. Bringing her depth of compassion to the mat–or the chair–she offers students the opportunity to grow as an individual in all aspects of their life.

Self-Care Series

Self care is often the lowest priority for parents. School is back in session for most and that means many parents will have a little more time to think about themselves. As a parent it is hard to put ourselves first but now is a great time to do that.

For many, many, MANY years I neglected my own well being thinking that I was being a great mom by giving every ounce to my kids. Wrong.

Before long I was overweight, angry and exhausted.

It was time to learn self care

Long ago, when someone mentioned to me the idea of practicing self-care, I had no idea what that could be and I had an immediate reaction that is was selfish. Boy, have I ever come a long way.

Not sure what self-care looks like for you?

For each of us it can mean so many things. There is no one-size fits all when it comes to self care.

The good news is, if you are not sure what self-care can be, I can help!

A self-paced virtual self care series

I have an amazing virtual self-care package that includes a variety of tools to help YOU take care of YOU. And the best part? It is self paced and can be done on YOUR time, in YOUR space, but with my loving support.

Check this out! I’d love to walk alongside with you on finding YOU again.

Essential Yoga–Connection

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. ~Brene Brown

This workshop uses oils designed to help us open the heart, forgive, let go and greet the world from a place of emotional & physical balance. February is the month of the heart where we open to a new view and move ahead with love and trust. The oils in this workshop are a wonderful combination of aromas. If you need essential oils samples to work with this class, please reach out to me.

Essential Oils

YLANG YLANG (AROMATIC/DIFFUSE):

PHYSICAL: Helps equalize or balance key body functions such as our respiratory and circulatory systems. Popular oil in perfumery. Aphrodisiac qualities assist with sex drive and impotence as it helps with hormone balancing—allowing us to connect with others. Helps promote restful sleep as it assists with anxious feelings and balancing our emotions. Calming, lessening stress and tension –“cools down” agitation, helping the nervous system to bring itself into balance.

EMOTIONAL: The Oil of the Inner Child. Ylang ylang is known as a powerful remedy and connector to our heart. It reconnects us to our childlike nature, innocence and our intuition. Opens up our sexuality when fear or anxiousness has created a block. Helps release past emotional trauma, in a natural, nurturing & gentle way. Used in today’s workshop to set the stage of a calming, approachable nature within so we can begin connecting from a place of balance.

WILD ORANGE (INTERNAL/DRINKING):

PHYSICAL: Powerful cleanser and purifying agent for surfaces. Protects against seasonal and environmental threats –as it is high in antioxidants and supportive to the immune system. Uplifting aroma lifts the mind and therefore, the body as we take in a sip. Taken internally or applied topically, this oil can provide relief from occasional digestive discomfort

EMOTIONAL: Oil of Abundance. Helps reduces anxious feelings, and calm emotions. Inspires creativity, a positive mood and brings joy & peace, happiness and FUN into your day. Encourages creative thinking and fearlessness. Used in today’s workshop to help us recognize that there is an abundance of love that surrounds us and when we tap into it –it can help lift us up.

FRANKINCENSE

PHYSICAL: Powerful and rare oil that is very diverse in its use on/in/around the body. The “one” oil you want if you can only have one! Known historically as a holy oil used for anointing and sacred ceremonies when spiritual awareness is desired. Distilled from frankincense tree resin harvested from a small region in the Middle East & Northern Africa. Highly researched for its ability to helps build and maintain a healthy immune system and function. Known to support the rejuvenation of skin and other epithelial tissue.

EMOTIONAL: The Oil of Truth. Connects us to our spiritual selves creating a healthy attachment to our actual father or the father figure in our lives. Reminds us we are loved and protected with a gentle, loving Divine spirit (God). Helps release us to break free from our past, making it an ideal oil to use for those seeking spiritual awakening and evolution. Used in today’s workshop to open our heart from a place of peace, love and support that comes from deep within us and connects us to our highest self.

AROMATOUCH BLEND

PHYSICAL: Blend includes: Basil/Marjoram/Lavender/Peppermint/Cypress/Grapefruit. Referred to by doTERRA as the Massage Blend. Relaxes, calms and soothe muscles and joints –great choice to apply after a rigorous workout. Promotes circulation in the tissue to which it is applied. Oils in the blend support the healthy function of the respiratory system as well.

EMOTIONAL: The Oil of Relaxation. Opens the heart and mind –relaxing as it provides comfort in times of grief or sorrow. Calms and slows the body, therefore the mind as well as it releases tension. When muscles release tension and we slow down, we reconnect with our heart and it opens, allowing us to move in harmony with our body. Used in today’s workshop to connect with our spirit and ask where our path will lead.

GERANIUM

PHYSICAL: Helps support clear, healthy skin. Used to balance emotions. Assist with blood flow and circulation–a gentle oil used to calm nerves and lessen anxious feelings.

EMOTIONAL: The Oil of Love and Trust. Helps us restore our confidence in the goodness that surrounds us and in our world. Assists our desire to establish trust when trust has been broken by others. Reopens the heart –softening anger and helping heal emotional wounds. Instills unconditional love and trust with those who are stuck in the mind so they can begin focusing on their heart. Used in today’s workshop to help all of us connect with our true emotions. 

BALANCE BLEND

PHYSICAL–Blend of Spruce, Frankincense, Blue Tansy, HoWood and Blue Chamomile. Designed to help us ground our emotional and physical body –to keep us centered or balanced about whatever challenges cross our life’s path. Soothes and relaxes sore muscles and joints. Assists the nervous system to remain healthy and balanced. Harmonizing blend –connecting body, mind and spirit together and calming anxious feelings. Frankincense in the blend is known to support cellular health and overall well being.

EMOTIONAL— The Oil of Grounding. Calming tree and flower oils that brings tranquility to our spirit. Helps us reconnect or settle into our “roots”–very important to help those who spend a lot of time thinking, speaking or in spiritual activity.Good for those who tend to avoid long-term commitments to root down like a tree rather than finding themselves drifting on to the next thing, with the wind. Applying it helps us stay present in the moment to achieve our longer term goals –as a tree grows slowly over time. Used in today’s workshop to help us take the emotions we experience through the layering of these oils, and reconnect them into our heart as a way of “grounding” ourselves at the close of this gathering

You can purchase the essential oils here and that will give you exclusive access to education, mentoring and a free personal wellness coaching session. Plus I will teach you all the ways that you can also use these essential oils that you purchase for this class. The uses are endless! To learn more about the basics of essential oils and how to use them safely and effectively, check out this gorgeous ebook.

The yoga practice that compliments these essential oils and the theme of connection, just click here.

Crystal Grid for Love

I love spending time every month setting an intention and creating a crystal grid to reflect that intention. I have my grid in a center location in my home so that each time I walk by it I see not only its beauty but I am reminded of the intention. 

This particular grid is for bringing the emotion of love into the space and everyone who lives in the space. This can be self-love, love for others, and everything in between. Unconditional love is such a beautiful feeling to experience and the stones chosen in the grid are perfect for that! 

Crystal Grid for Love

Rose Quartz is the center stone in my grid and it is the stone of universal love. It restores trust and harmony in relationships, encouraging unconditional love. Rose Quartz purifies and opens the heart at all levels to promote love, self-love, friendship, deep inner healing and feelings of peace. 

The next stone is Amethyst. Amethyst is one of the most famous and prominent crystals because of its beautiful purple coloration as well as its spiritual and literal meaning. The spiritual meaning of Amethyst is groundedness, tranquility, and calm. The literal meaning of Amethyst is “not intoxicated” – its name translates from the Greek word améthystos. To be tranquil and calm is a great way to invite in love. Amethyst is used often in dealing with addictions…and that can be of any type. I like to use amethyst when working with love because it helps to ward of the patterns that we can slip into that do not promote self love. 

The next layer out is alternating green aventurine and clear quartz. Green aventurine  comforts, harmonizes, protects the heart, and can help attract love in life. It is one of the premier stones to attract luck, abundance and success and lots of LOVE. The meaning is also linked with the heart plexus chakra, which makes it a powerful gem for calming negative emotions that often gets stuck in the heart center.

The Clear Quartz crystal meaning is known for its high vibrations. By clearing your mind, body, and spirit of any clutter, clear quartz can help you align with your highest self and live at your highest potential.  Clear Quartz is known as the “master healer” and will amplify energy and thought, as well as the effect of other crystals.  It absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy.  Clear Quartz draws off negative energy of all kinds and is perfect for promoting love.

The final layer is alternating more rose quartz and clear quartz points aiming outward..

This brings all the goodness and energy of each of the other stones and energetically sends it outward. 

How to Use Mala Beads

Whether you’re just starting a meditation practice, or you’re an advanced practitioner, Mala beads are a great tool to help focus your attention. They provide this amazing tactile sensation to come back to when your mind starts to wander.

Rolling the beads through your fingers is a physical way to direct your energy and attention back to the present moment. It’s a gentle reminder every few seconds to reground and refocus.

Here are some simple ‘how to’ steps for incorporating Mala Beads into your meditation practice:

  • If this is your first time using a Mala, start by holding it out in front of you.  The tassel represents an end point — signifying you’ve gone all the way around the Mala for a full cycle of meditation. Between the tassel and necklace loop, there is one single bead, called the guru bead.  There are 108 beads in the necklace loop.
  • Now, start with the necklace in your dominant hand, tassel facing towards you
  • Start with the bead to the right of the guru bead
  • Begin turning each bead individually in your fingers, making your way slowly to the next bead
  • When turning the beads, try not to use the index finger as that is believed to represent the ego.
  • Try using your thumb to turn the beads. You can use your thumb nail to pull the bead towards you. Or you can use your thumb to rotate the bead by turning it and moving to the next.
  • You will notice there is hand knotting between each bead, this is meant to help ease the practice of moving from bead to bead.

Do you feel have the hang of it? If you are comfortable try adding some breath work.

  • On each bead, take a deep inhale and exhale. Then move to the next bead. Deep inhale and exhale.

Once you have the breathing down, you can layer in mantra. 

  • On each bead, along with your breath, try silently repeating your mantra to yourself
  • For the sake of this, we will use an affirmation based mantra, which is an “I Am statement”
  • On each bead, inhale “I Am” and exhale a word that embodies how you want to feel in that moment. It can be abundant, strong, patient, intuitive, etc.
  • Inhale “I Am” and exhale your word on each bead
  • You can also simply use one word such as grounded, or love
  • Once you have made it around 108 beads, you will reach the guru bead
  • The guru bead signifies a moment to pause and sit in reflection. Here, you can thank and honor your guru, your mantra, and yourself for taking the time to sit in stillness.

Congrats! This signifies a full practice! 

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What did you notice in this practice? What came up for you? One thing is guaranteed —  your mind will wander. When it does, simply return to the beads.

When your mind wanders, you have the choice to judge yourself and think things like “I’m the worst meditator, I’m never going to get the hang of this.”  These statement only keep you in a place of self judgement and are not useful.

Or, you can acknowledge you’ve had some thoughts, let them go, and return your focus to your Mala beads, your breath and your mantra.

You’ll be challenged consistently in your practice with a wandering mind. It doesn’t mean your a bad meditator — it just means you’re human.

Meditation isn’t about eliminating the thoughts. Rather, it’s about creating space between them, allowing yourself the room to connect to your higher self.

Your mala is a beautiful guide on that journey to the inner self. But remember, like most things it’s a practice.  Make a decision at the beginning of each practice to not judge yourself when your mind wanders. Instead, treat yourself with patience, grace, and love — as you would anyone else.

Check out this video to learn more.