Archive for July, 2010

Freebie Friday: July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We are so blessed to have Freebies 4 Mom share their list of the best freebies of the week with our readers each and every Friday. Please visit her site for fabulous freebies and sweepstakes information every single day!

This week on MomAdvice I am sharing a few tips for capturing great pictures of your children, a fantastic blueberry cobbler recipe, and a notebook full of crafty and food inspiration for the week. Don’t forget to check our weekly giveaway round-up each week for fantastic giveaways from other bloggers!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

Eucerin Daily Skin Balance
Achooz Saline Nose Wipes
BioTrue Multi-Purpose Solution


Kitchen Basics “Healthy Cooking with Stock” recipes


Kmart Kids Birthday Club
Macy’s Kidz Bop songs
Tennis Magazine


Catalog Choice
Home Made Simple Coupon booklet
Capri Sun House Party
Kraft Homestyle Comfort Food House Party
My Thai Kitchen House Party

This Week’s Freebie Events:


30 – The Cheesecake Factory Half-Price cheesecake slices
29 – Aug 1  Walmart Free Sampling Events! (select locations)

Free Atkins Bars Sampling Event

Free Purina One Sampling Event

Free Swiss Tea and Fruit 2Day Sampling Event

Free Coty Beyonce Heat Fragrance Sampling Event

Free Sun Crystals, Keebler and Tarts Sampling Event

29 – The Cheesecake Factory $1.50 cheesecake slices with Facebook printable coupon

30 – The Cheesecake Factory Half-Price cheesecake slices

31 – Club Lego coming to selected ToysRus

2 – Redbox Free Movie Monday when you subscribe to text alerts

3 – Free Chicken Fajito Taco at Taco Cabana from 4-9pm

3 – Whataburger Free burger when you wear orange 5-8 pm

5 – LEGO Stores build a seagull 5pm

For a complete calendar of events visit the calendar here!

Amy’s Notebook 07.28.10

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I am in love with this idea for using an old t-shirt to create superhero capes for your kids (@ ohdeedoh)

I love this idea for creating your own homemade snow cone syrups (@ Jolly Mom)

These whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies look amazing (@ 101 Cookbooks)

This recipe for homemade finger paints looks like a fun rainy day project (@ Easie Peasie)

This security envelope recycled into a stationary set is so brilliant (@ A Little Hut)

These homemade marshmallows and homemade graham crackers take a s’more to a whole new level (@ the urban baker)

I adore this sidewalk chalk board (@ Salty Pineapple)

We will have to try this recipe for homemade pop tarts (@ Brown-Eyed Baker)

I am loving these gift bags made from recycled newspapers (@ How about orange…)

I love this idea for decluttering and making a magazine recipe binder (@ goodLife {eats})

This bite-sized Greek salad would be a fun appetizer to make (@ Cooking With My Kid)

These peach shortcakes would be a nice summer dessert (@ Annie’s Eats)

If peaches aren’t your thing, this homemade strawberry shortcake might fit the bill (@ gimmie some oven)

I love this tutorial on how to sew a buttonhole (@ Craft)

I am loving this tiered cupcake platter (@ How Does She?)

Here is another fun little paper wreath made from a book (@ Blue Cricket Designs)

This little car mat would have been a fun travel item when my kids were small (@ Sugar Bee)

Capturing Your Children Through Photography

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

One thing that people have been asking me to share about is how to get fantastic pictures of your little ones. It was a request that I felt weird about accepting. I am just a mom who loves to take pictures. I have no formal training, no accolades, no studio, no professionalism at all…  In all seriousness, it feels strange to speak with authority on the subject.

Here is what I want you to know though! In this day and age, anyone can be a great photographer. We have more equipment, more free tools, more books, and more resources than ever before.  Unfortunately, the key to becoming great at something is good old-fashioned practice, reading, hard work, and more practice. It is not necessarily spending more money and buying more equipment. It means, simply, getting familiar with what you already have at your disposal and being the best that you can be with what you have already in your hands.

That being said, my Mother’s Day gift last year was the Canon Rebel T1i, which has been a fantastic entry-level camera into the world of DSLR cameras. It was such an incredibly big deal to me to have something so glamorous and so fancy. It is something that I would never have bought myself because I can not bear to part with money. I am sure if you read me regularly, you are nodding your head at this statement.

Even if you do not have an DSLR camera, there are so many things you can do to make your photos just as spectacular with just a few tricks up your sleeve.

Shift Your Focus- So many times it is easy to plop everything dead into the center of a picture. It feels natural to do it that way, doesn’t it?  This has been a really bad habit of mine that I have been working really hard to break. Shift your camera a little to the right, shift it a little to the left and see if you can tell a better story without having everything dead on in the center. Technically speaking, I learned the rule of thirds in a fantastic tutorial hosted by Sony and from the very famous photographer Me Ra Koh. The beauty of this simple trick is that anyone can do it with any type of equipment that you might have. Try thinking of your photos differently and shifting your perspective to tell the story!

It’s All in the Details of the Story– Look through your camera with an artist’s eye and start capturing those small and hidden details of a story. My friends refer to this (sometimes annoying) habit of mine  as my “artsy shots,” where I am taking shots of those often missed and hidden details that I want to remember about my children or about a particular place, event, or tradition that we have created together.

For example, baking a cake with your child and taking pictures of you making it together are wonderful and great. Imagine though if you took a picture of her hands stirring the batter for you, the feet that are pulled up on the stool, the snack that is shared while baking. Suddenly, you are telling a story of a family moment that will conjure up not only the special cake that you made together, but how small her hands were, that tradition of the chair pulled to the counter, the beauty of the batter that was poured, the picture of the anticipation as she peeked in the window of the oven for the cake to get done, the first slice, the crumbs left on an empty plate… Try becoming a storyteller and capturing the details that you *think* you will remember and that are sadly forgotten. These pictures are always my favorite and are my most-treasured photos in our family collection.

Sometimes It is About the Big Picture– Now that you are taking beautiful detailed shots of your children, it is also great to think about the BIG picture too.  Big shots can tell a great big story too and I love to zoom in on one picture and then zoom out (even on the same shot) and see if the bigger picture can tell a great story.

Vacation photos are a really great time to practice this. Often where you are at for a vacation is a beautiful place with much to see and much to photograph. Focus your camera on your child, but zoom it out to show how little they are as they are walking around a large museum instead of just a shot of your child in front of one small display. It helps to showcase the wonderment and the beauty of being small.

My favorite wide shot remains the one of my daughter pictured in her dance class. If I had zoomed in on her, you would have missed the irony of her movement. She was in her element, a free spirit and wildly dramatic. With the shot nice and wide, you can see that my daughter was doing her very own little routine while the other kids were following the instructor. That is what I love about my daughter and it is now perfectly captured for our family.

Turn Off the Flash– This may require a bit of reading in your camera manual, but your pictures will be a thousand times better if you can turn the flash on your camera off.  The only times that I do turn my flash on is when it is absolutely necessary (which is not often, if you can believe it) because in most situations going without the flash will create a much better picture.

Practice taking pictures in different areas of your home to find the one spot in your house where the lighting is the best and try to plant the kids there for portrait shots. Take your children outdoors (shaded spots work the best) and take photos outside instead of indoors, when visiting places (even if it is just a local restaurant) and snap pictures there. In most scenarios, you will find that taking a picture without the flash will make your pictures much more beautiful!

If I know that I am going to be in a low-light situation or I am looking for ways to get that perfect shot (capturing Christmas lights, fireworks, a child blowing out a candle, etc..) I will Google search for tips and practice with my camera before I go somewhere. Because I am Type-A like that.

Edit. But Edit Wisely.– Once I have taken my photos for the day, I put them in Picnik and spend time editing them. I did pay for a premium membership, but it has been worth every penny ($24.95 per year) for editing my photos. I don’t use anything more fancy than this although someday I hope to learn Photoshop or Lightroom. For now, it is just what I need to help give my pictures a little pop. Try saturating the color in your pictures, switching them to black-and-white, or adding a little bit of softening to them.

Truly though, it is fun to edit, but the real beauty is the picture that is taken before the editing. Concentrate your efforts on taking a great photo and use a program to help add a little razzle dazzle to the great picture that you already have. Just remember that sometimes one can get carried away with the editing and you have pictures with all sorts of crazy fluorescent people at a party or unnatural weirdness to your photos. I hope that wasn’t too technical for you all.

Here are the most FAQ questions that people have asked me about taking pictures…

Q: How do you get everything to blur in the background of your photos?

A: One of the most exciting things to me about getting a new camera was the capability that I had to get sharp focus with a blurred background in my pictures. The way to do this is to change the aperture (or f-stop) on your camera. Aperture is the size of the opening of the lens when a picture is taken. One thing that is often very confusing is  that large apertures (where lots of light gets through) are given f/stop smaller numbers and smaller apertures (where less light gets through) have larger f-stop numbers. So f/2.8 is in fact a much larger aperture than f/22.

To change your aperture, consult your camera manual to see what setting you will need to set your camera to. For my Canon camera, it means switching the dial to Av and then using the dial to turn it to the number that I wanted. I usually try to shoot in f/2.8 for most of my pictures, f/5.6 for much of my portrait photography, and f/22 for beautiful landscape shots with everything in sharp focus. For this shot of the flowers, I used f/2.8 to get just the front flowers in focus.

Q: How do you get the blurred edge on your photos?

A: The blurred edge is just something I add in Picnik. I just go under the Create tab and I select Vignette. Then I slide the slider down to almost nothing on the size of it. This adds just a tiny edge to the photo that is nice for online viewing, but not noticeable when printing them out or loading them on a digital frame. What can I say, it is my little signature move!  You can do that with a free membership to Picnik, you definitely do not have to pay anything for that one!

Q: What equipment do you recommend and what do you have?

A:  Again, I am not an expert on buying camera equipment, but I can tell you what I do know about it. I have always heard that it is much wiser to spend your money on your lens than the body of your camera. That is not to say to totally skimp on the body, but the body of cameras is constantly changing and being improved upon. I just got my camera this past summer and they have already come out with the Canon Rebel 2Ti, if you can believe it, and it costs quite a bit more than my already antique and outdated camera! The truth is, I will never stay current with the body of my camera because within a few months, a new one will already be replacing my ancient equipment.

If you are on a budget and are looking for a great point-and-shoot camera that has the same functionality as the DSLR, but you don’t have to buy lenses and make a huge investment, I loved my Canon PowerShot (the link takes you to the current model). I am a Canon girl and was really happy with this point-and-shoot camera. It is the camera that I recommend to my friends and I have always heard how happy my girlfriends are with their Canon PowerShots. Agonizing amounts of research were done before I selected that camera and I was very happy with it!

If you are still on a budget, but want to make a long-term investment and are just looking to shoot pictures of your family…then I will tell you what I have. As an aside, we found our lens on eBay from a photographer who was upgrading his equipment, but I am linking through Amazon for convenience sake. I have the Canon Rebel T1i and we bought the Canon EF-S 17-55 mm lens.  They have kit lenses that are around $100 or more each and I have seen people take great pictures with these, but we made the investment in one really good lens that would do just about everything for me for the rest of my life and until I die amen. This lens is all I really need in most situations.

I don’t use my flash often, but for  our recipe section and for some our evening events, I wanted to have an external flash. That was my anniversary/Mother’s Day/You Work Hard Sometimes gift and I got the Canon Speedlite 270EX Flash. If you don’t need something this fancy, I did really well with my Gary Fong Puffer Pop-Up Flash Diffuser (around $20) which really seemed to help my evening shots and didn’t take up a lot of room in my camera bag.

The most important thing to buy though is a lens filter to protect your lens. If for some reason you scratch your lens or something happens to the outside of it, this $10-$20 filter will protect the lens and be what breaks instead of your $100-$1,000 investment. Trust me, you will thank me later if you have this!

Q: Do you have any good books or websites to visit that can help me learn more about photography?

I am a HUGE fan of Scott Kelby and his Digital Photography Books 1, 2, & 3. See if your library has these and check them out for smartly written, witty, and down-to-earth tutorials on how to use your camera. I love that he says, “If you want a good portrait, turn you dial to this,” instead of high-brow photography terms that, as a mom,  I just don’t understand.  I just want someone to tell me what to do, not make me feel stupid!

For reading, I definitely recommend Digital Photography School for tutorials and Shutter Sisters for photography inspiration!  I also love to see what Secret Agent Mama, Mooshy in Indy, I Should be Folding Laundry, I Heart Faces, and Me Ra Koh are doing with their cameras. The best part about them…humbleness and willingness to share.

Really though, the best thing you can do for yourself is to read your manual. Discover. Play with your settings. Practice. Read the manual again. Try new things. Be unafraid to fail. Become a human sponge and learn. Display those pictures creatively. Be the treasure keeper. Live your life fully, which will in turn,  will create natural and picture-worthy moments. Love.

Questions and comments are welcomed and appreciated!

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate your camera equipment and tools easily. Feel free to order through our site, but we always encourage shopping around for the best bang for your buck! Happy picture-taking!

An Apron Full of Giveaways: Jiffy Lube Gift Cards Ending

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Aprons by Julie, $25.95

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways, where we round up all of the best giveaways on the web. This is the spot where you can share your blog contests or where you can find fantastic stuff to enter.

Our contest with Jiffy Lube will be ending at 8PM EST tonight and we have a low entry volume on this one!  We are giving away two $35 gift cards to Jiffy Lube to pay for your oil change this month. How awesome is that? We love offsetting any of those regular expenditures for families and we hope you will take a moment to enter.  Who knows? You could be the lucky winner! Head over to the link below to enter to win- PLEASE NO ENTRIES HERE!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Children’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Blueberry Cobbler With a Beautiful Read

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Despite all of our blueberry freezing, I have a feeling that we are going to be going through our blueberries a lot faster than I had originally intended.   This past week I wanted to bring a blueberry treat to an evening book club meeting and to share it with my friends. Blueberry cobbler was something that I had never made before, but this recipe pulled together so easily that I shared it that evening and then later, as a special birthday treat for my mom. With all of the ingredients coming straight from the pantry, it was a fun and frugal dish to share and everyone I shared it with really seemed to enjoy it.

The book we read was, “Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova which is a fantastic read that I read way back in January and finally got a chance to discuss it with everyone. If you haven’t read it, it is a wonderful read that will really make you appreciate the abilities of your own mind and how difficult it would be if you lost the gift of memory.

My great-grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s so I was very familiar with the topic and the emotional toll that it can take on one’s family members when they suffer from this disease. What I did not know was that over a half million people in the United States alone suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s and that it is possible to suffer from this disease at a much earlier stage in your life than I had ever imagined.

In the story, Alice Howland is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and is known for her great intellect. She is admired not only by the other faculty members, but by her students for her amazing ability to captivate an audience when speaking about what it is she is most passionate about. Her husband is a scientist, and together they have collaborated on book projects and have a mutual love for each other and the intelligent and scientific dialogue that they can have together.

When Alice starts becoming confused and begins losing her words, forgetting what she is supposed to teach on, and even forgetting where she lives when she goes for a run, she blames it on menopause and decides to contact her doctor about her memory loss.

After going through screening, it is determined that Alice, at the age of fifty, is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Alice’s quick spiral into memory loss is heartbreaking and her story is especially poignant because she is the chosen narrator of the story. At times, as the reader, you can even become confused along with Alice as scenes are repeated and her family member’s begin to lose their names, or she believes she is talking to strangers when they are well-known characters throughout the book.

The book sheds light on a very real disease in a way that can only be told through the narration of Alice. Although Alice is slipping, she is “still Alice,” even when her family feels her mind is very far away.

This book pulled at my heartstrings in a way that I can’t describe and has made me thankful for the beautiful memories that my mind can retain. It is a wonderful reminder how essential memory is in our daily lives and how important it is to love and respect those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.

I hope you can get a chance to check out the book and why not bake a little blueberry cobbler to go with it? It is sweet and satisfying..the perfect way to end any good meal or to share with a book club of your own!

Fresh Blueberry Cobbler (Adapted from

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder to a mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add in milk and butter; stir to combine. Spread batter into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over batter. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar and drizzle with vanilla. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.


Not enough blueberry recipes for you?  Be sure to check out our blueberry muffin cake, blueberry pancake syrup, blueberry syrup for iced tea or coffee, lemony blueberry muffins, and many more to come!

Freebie Friday: July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We are so lucky to have Freebies 4 Mom share their list of the best freebies of the week with our readers each and every Friday. This week Heather is giving away a $600 Apple Gift Card! Just imagine what you could apply that towards. I know I would put that right towards a fancy new iPad for myself, but that’s just me. Go ahead and head over there to learn more about this great contest!

This week we are giving away two $35 gift cards to Jiffy Lube to put towards your oil change, sharing how to freeze blueberries in 3 easy steps, a recipe for a blueberry muffin cake that you must try, and access to over 130 giveaways to enter in today!

Health & Beauty
Choose You Flower Pin (American Cancer Society)
Carolina Herrera fragrance
Nexxus Hair Care

M&M’s (12,000 daily winners)
Free Flip Flop Cookie at Cookies by Design
Snikkidy snacks
Buddig Lunch Club

Entertainment Sync Free Young Adult Audiobooks
Brides Across America free wedding gowns for military brides
Walmart Free MP3 Downloads

Upcoming Freebie Events:

Carrows Kids Eat Free
Smokey Bones Kids Eat Free
Mimi’s Cafe Kids Eat Free Sunday Nights
Aerie Fit Gym Bag Thursdays w/ any purchase
Apple Youth Workshops
Denny’s Free Pancake Puppies w/purchase thru July 25

24 – Lowes Build and Grow Clinic make a UFO 10-11am
29 – The Cheesecake Factory $1.50 cheesecake slices with Facebook printable coupon
30 – The Cheesecake Factory Half-Price cheesecake slices

1 – Famous Dave’s All “Dave’s” Eat Free
2 – Redbox Free Movie Monday when you subscribe to text alerts
3 – Lego Stores make a seagull 5pm
7 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a school bus pencil organizer 9-12pm
7 & 8 – Museums on Us (Bank of America)

Amy’s Notebook 07.21.10

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I wonder if my kids would go for these delicious green french fries (@ Dinner: A Love Story)

This blueberry ginger jam sounds delicious (@ Making it My Own)

I love this printable reading list to jot down my kid’s summer reads (@ alphamom)

Homemade pudding pops brings me back to my favorite snack when I was a kid (@ Serious Eats)

Turning a shower liner into a lunch bag that can easily be cleaned is genius (@ Ikea Hacker)

I am really intrigued by this recipe for fresh blueberry pulled pork (@ Coconut & Lime)

I am bookmarking these beautifully designed canning labels for the next time  I attempt some  canning (@ Sweet Preservation)

I am planning to make one of these beautiful Pottery Barn knock-off faux centerpieces for my table (@ Thrifty Decor Chick)

These blueberry muffins with orange glaze look are two of my favorite flavors together (@ eat at home)

I love this little rainy day magic chocolate cake made from common pantry ingredients (@ Salsa Pie)

These banana monkey bars look delicious and I love the idea of sharing them with your neighbors (@ A Soft Place to Land)

I love this Anthropologie knock-off shirt tutorial (@ The Crimson Owl)

This lemon ice served inside of little lemons is just adorable and would make a fun summer treat (@ The Idea Room)

I love these cute ideas for making a Super Mario birthday party special (@ zakka life)

This framed photo confetti project is grandparent-worthy! (@ The Blackberry Vine)

These blueberry cinnamon rolls look like a delicious way to use this fun summer fruit (@ Annie’s Eats)

Freezing Blueberries in 3 Easy Steps

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

How to Freeze Blueberries

Freezing blueberries is quick and easy, but did you know there are different methods of freezing? The Cook’s Illustrated Method of freezing is the one that I have been using for many years for freezing our berries for optimum flavor and once you try it, I am sure you will be hooked on this method of freezing your berries too.

In years past, I just threw the berries on a cookie sheet, froze them, and then tossed them into marked bags for later consumption. Cook’s Illustrated is my Bible for cooking and they claim that the best consistency for blueberries is if they have been frozen with sugar. They froze six different kinds of fruit, tried seven different methods of freezing on each fruit, stuck them in the freezer for six months, and then tasted them. I certainly don’t have the time or inclination to take on a task like that and that is why I absolutely love Cook’s Illustrated! Let me show you just how easy it is.

How to Freeze Blueberries

If you are worried about the sugar, it is just meant to help keep the fruit’s shape and texture. When you want to eat the berries, you just rinse the sugar off and enjoy the optimal taste of the fruit.

With this method of freezing, the berries truly held their shape and have a little better consistency then frozen alone. I would definitely recommend this method of freezing especially if you enjoy eating the berries alone!

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking

The kids and I went to do our annual blueberry picking for the year. Our blueberry picking wasn’t half as successful as last year. I think we had a few things operating against us this year.

1. I just was there to take pictures.

2. Emily was just there to eat all of the blueberries.

3. Ethan thought blueberry picking was boring.

4. Extreme heat and lots of hot sun.

5. Whining.

The only thing that pulled us through all of that…the fact that we were dropped off on a tractor and there was no way to get back until the tractor came around again. Oh, and Sonic happy hour bribery. Making. Memories. (said through gritted teeth).

We managed to gather two measly pounds of berries and next year I may just go with the people who really want to go (which might mean a solo operation) or I will pick at dusk and take advantage of the picking in the evening hours. I went ahead and splurged for the five pound box of picked berries and we all headed home sweaty and still a little whiny.

Blueberry Picking

At the end of the blueberry picking day and at the end of all of our grumbling, I snapped this picture before we headed to the car.

That one moment and one picture made the whole trip worth it.  This what  am choosing to remember about our blueberry picking day. We were all together and we love each other no matter what.

Are you freezing fruit this year? What is your recommendation and tried and true recipes for freezing the summer’s bounty?

Pin It

An Apron Full of Giveaways: $35 Gift Cards to Jiffy Lube

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Snappy Shop, $45

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways, where we round up all of the best giveaways on the web. This is the spot where you can share your blog contests or where you can find fantastic stuff to enter.

This week we are offering a very useful giveaway that I bet just about anyone can use! Today we are giving away two $35 gift cards to Jiffy Lube to pay for your oil change this month. How awesome is that? We love offsetting any of those regular expenditures for families and we hope you will take a moment to enter.  Who knows? You could be the lucky winner!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Children’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Blueberry Muffin Cake

Monday, July 19th, 2010

It is the season of all things berry! We are a divided family when it comes to loving blueberries. The girls in this house absolutely love anything blueberry and the boys give blueberries two thumbs down. Which leads me to my favorite grown-up saying…”Girls rule. Boys drool.” I know, I bet you wish you were half this sophisticated.

Even though the boys were not berry fans, for my son’s eighth birthday party, I wanted to add one special addition to the birthday dessert table with some of our blueberries. Although the hate for blueberries was strong, just a peek inside this cake shows why anyone can eat it. The cake only has one cup of blueberries in the whole thing. This handful of berries makes a beautiful stripe down the middle and adds just the right balance of blueberries and cake instead of the overwhelming amount of berries that can be in other cakes and muffins.

The blueberries are suspended in the batter with the help of a little reserved cake mix and a quick toss to coat them. The cake mix has added flavor boosts from the addition of cinnamon, vanilla yogurt, and a little vanilla pudding mix. The resulting cake is moist and absolutely perfect.

As is tradition in our house, the whole family helps with the cooking for our parties and Emily was more than happy to be my helper in the kitchen. A bowl of blueberries kept her content while I did the parts of the recipe that she could not help with. I will admit, we were both quite pleased with the results and one of us had a very full tummy too.

What did the guests think? A total hit with blueberry lovers and haters alike.

Blueberry Muffin Cake (Courtesy of  “The Cake Mix Doctor“)

1 package plain yellow or white cake mix (we used a yellow cake mix)

1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix

1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 large eggs

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar (for dusting on top)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan with shortening and then dust with flour. Set the pan aside. Measure out two tablespoons of the cake mix and reserve it. Place the remaining cake mix, pudding mix, yogurt, oil, water, cinnamon, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for one minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Toss the blueberries with the reserved cake mix.

Pour two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the blueberries over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the blueberries so that it covers the fruit. Place the pan in the oven. Bake the cake until it is golden brown on top and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (approximately 45-50 minutes).

Remove the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool for twenty minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack, then onto another rack so that the cake is right side up. Allow it to cool completely, 30 minutes or more. Place the cake on a serving platter and dust with confectioners sugar.