Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty for Taking Days Off in the New Year

Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty for Taking Days Off in the New Year

Ever since I became a full-time freelance writer, I haven’t taken many full days off. If you’re going to be successful as a new entrepreneur, you have to let go of the idea of having regular days off. The concept of weekends as they exist in the corporate world do not exist in the world of self-employment, which I personally think is a fair compromise for being able to do something you sincerely love.

With that being said, taking time to rest and re-charge is crucial. Running on an empty tank of energy and inspiration leads to work that is less than your best, which doesn’t benefit anyone. While it can be hard to allow yourself time to relax, it must be done. Before the end of the year, I’m actively balancing my work and days off. I’m happily preparing for a busy start to 2017, so I am prioritizing time to relax so that I can be my best self for all upcoming projects.

Even though I fully comprehend the importance of taking time to re-charge, I always feel guilty doing so. I’ll call this feeling “day off guilt.” I’m certain that many of you frequently feel the same way. No matter what job(s) you have, most of us feel like we can’t take days off. And even when you have a day off, many of us pack our schedules with errands, appointments, and chores.  Rarely do we ever use our time to get more sleep, practice a favorite hobby, or spend more time with our friends and family. Instead, we maintain the fast pace of our lives when we should be restoring our minds and bodies.

If this sounds too familiar, I want to give you permission to start using your time off to be the best version of you. In 2017, focus the hours of your days off on leisure and renewal. There are numerous reasons (which I’ll cover in a moment) to get rid of your “day off guilt,” and start making your health a priority. To complement my personal goals of keeping life as simple as possible in the new year, I’m going to ensure that I balance my work load with proper rest. I want to deliver the best blog posts and the highest quality work to my clients. I can’t meet that goal if I don’t take adequate time to renew my mind and body. It took my move in to self-employment to gain this level of self-awareness and acceptance. Now that I’ve made this discovery, I insist on making time for time off.

Why Time Off is Good for You

My needs are not unique in any way. You need regular relaxation as well. The quality of your work will suffer if you don’t leave time to restore your mind and body. If you need a little more convincing, I’m not the only one who makes this argument. Studies show that allowing yourself to take time off boosts productivity, decreases stress, and is beneficial for your brain. These three benefits are only a sampling of the reasons you shouldn’t take pride in always being busy. Our American workplace culture leads us to boast about our unrelenting, full schedules. It’s time to change that way of doing things.

Prioritizing Time Off in 2017

Here is your challenge: starting right now, brainstorm ways that you can achieve a healthy balance in your workload and your relaxation time. Don’t make it a resolution (we all know New Year’s resolutions don’t work very well), but instead make it an active project for yourself that begins immediately. Start thinking of the unnecessary tasks you can eliminate from your schedule. Can you do things in an easier way, or delegate certain tasks? Are you spreading yourself too thin among multiple commitments? Don’t be afraid to step away from things that you know deep down need to be taken off of your schedule. From my own experiences, I know that this is uncomfortable. But if you are being honest with yourself, I’m guessing you already know which commitments can’t stay on your schedule.

While subtracting tasks, don’t forget to add in your planned time to relax. Taking this step in your planning helps ensure you won’t replace one busy activity with another. Think about the activities that will serve you the most. Are you always tired? Schedule an additional hour or two of sleep. Lacking creativity? Make time for your favorite hobby. No matter what you choose, be sure that you are only adding activities that will help restore your mind and body, and help you feel more refreshed when you return to your work. After finding the right balance for you, you’ll be able to see how this new way of organizing your schedule helps you feel better and helps you produce your best work yet.

Why You Need to Set Realistic Expectations for the New Year

Why You Need to Set Realistic Expectations for the New Year
Lately, I’ve seen many variations of the same sentiment posted across social media. If you use social media at all, I’m sure you’ve seen it (and perhaps posted it to your own page) as well. I’m talking about the posts currently circulating that say things like, “2017 will be your best year!” or “nothing bad will happen in 2017 at all, and you’ll find complete peace and joy, and become a millionaire.” Maybe that last one was an exaggeration, but sadly not by much. While positive thinking is always admirable, setting impossible expectations is never healthy.

Too often at the end of a year, we build up an incredible amount of hype for the incoming year. We place an enormous amount of pressure on having this upcoming year be the “best year ever.” Magazines, television programs, and social media alike tell us that this is a completely realistic expectation. You decide that this will be the year you finally lose 20 pounds. It will also be when you revolutionize your diet, your friendships, your home life, and so on. Promotions will knock on your door, your house will be permanently clean and organized, and people will admire how put together your life has become.

But then January 1st rolls around. You vow to get to the gym as soon as possible, start working overtime to earn that promotion, and do everything else that you’ve set out to do. But then, the weeks start to fly by. Unexpected engagements pop up. You catch a cold, and as a result, miss a week at the gym. By mid-year, you decide that you want to change careers instead of going for the promotion you dreamed about. All of a sudden, you’ve reached the end of another year.

I fully recognize that I’m not going to be popular for writing this post. It is far more thrilling to pick up a magazine while in the checkout lane at the grocery store that tells you three easy steps for never having a bad day in the new year. But you know what? Those articles don’t genuinely serve you. Don’t get me wrong — I love to set ambitious goals. In the past three years, I’ve set some pretty crazy goals that I’ve achieved. However, it is often forgotten that setting goals and setting unrealistic expectations are two separate things. Every time I’ve worked toward each of my many dreams, there were countless disappointments, sad times, and difficulties. That is just how life works. Expecting that any given year will be free of problems puts you in a terrible mindset. When you start to face the inevitable tough situations, having unrealistic expectations will cause you to be one of the worst versions of yourself. You will have less patience and be less understanding when things don’t go as you think they should. If you instead choose to optimistically face whatever comes your way, you will feel a lot less pressure and stress. You can work toward your goals with resiliency, strength, and a positive attitude.

The point in all of this is to encourage you to set realistic expectations for 2017. You will undoubtedly have some incredible moments throughout the upcoming 12 months. Be thrilled for all of the wonderful things coming up this next year! But remember, life doesn’t change because of the resolutions you set. Less-than-happy things, frustrating moments, and difficulties will also be part of your year. It is an unavoidable consequence of the human experience. Beginning your year with healthy expectations will help you to be more resilient through those hard times. As a bonus, being in the right mindset will cause you to appreciate the good times even more. Get excited for all that the new year has waiting for you, but always remember to push through the struggles you face.

Make Your Writing Original in Three Steps

Make Your Writing Original in Three Steps

Is it just me, or does it seem like there is a lot of “noise” in the writing world? When I say “noise,” I am referring to the lack of originality in the content posted. There is an overload of articles, books, web pages, blog posts, and so on that, when being brutally honest, are clutter. The same things that have been said thousands of times before are said over and over again. For the reader, trying to find original content about any given subject is exhausting.

Writers are impacted by this overwhelming deluge of unoriginal content even more so than readers. It is incredibly discouraging to think of a topic to write about, only to find that the topic has been written about countless times. For example, searching for a “chocolate chip cookie recipe” yields 1,600,000 results. While not all of these results reflect actual recipes, an insane number of the pages are indeed chocolate chip cookie recipes. This is just one random example of a topic that has been covered one too many times. Multiply this by the millions of other subjects in existence, and you start to have an idea of how much clutter is out there. Ironically, this blog post is even unoriginal. I’m not the first to write about originality in writing. So then, how can writers hope to ever produce anything unique in our modern day, information overloaded world? More importantly, how can writers hope to have their work found in this giant sea of content?

Since both of those questions are too extensive to cover in one blog post, let’s focus on the first thought: making your writing original. Although almost no main idea is ever genuinely original anymore, don’t get discouraged (as I have many times about this very subject). There are still ways that you can make your writing as unique. Check out these three tips on making your content as original as possible:

Focus on adding value
Rather than placing such a heavy emphasis on crafting unique content, think of how you can write content that adds value to the lives of your readers in some way. With a rare few exceptions (especially for non-fiction), you have to accept that what you are writing has, in some way, already been written. You will rarely (if ever) be able to write about something that no one has ever written about. Instead, place your focus on making your content count. Before starting a project, ask yourself why readers should care about your blog post, book, etc. Are you writing just another chocolate chip cookie recipe that adds nothing to what is already available? If so, why would a reader be interested in another average recipe that uses the same ingredients that thousands of others use? Strive to make your words matter.

Always make an effort to contribute a new perspective
Unique topics are a challenge to find. However, a completely original perspective on the world and everything in it are already available to you. Because you are you, the world appears to you as it does to no one else. We all have a variable set of life experiences and abilities. Therefore, no one can ever have the same exact perspective that you do. Even if you share similar opinions with someone, those opinions truly aren’t identical. Leverage this knowledge in your writing to the fullest. Be as intentional about your word choices as possible to reflect how you individually experience a given topic. Tell stories from your viewpoint. Make sure that your writing voice is consistently reflecting who you are. Doing this alone will help set your work apart from the writing of others.

Research ideas/titles/plot lines for originality
When questioning the originality of your content, do a little research in advance. If you are doubting whether a subject has been written about too frequently, chances are that it has been. Don’t ever write content just to produce content, especially when you know it lacks any kind of originality. If your heart is set on writing about a particular subject, use the previous two tips. Try your best to make the content valuable and reflecting a unique perspective. If you’re unable to do this, it might be best to move on to your next idea.

Also, when contemplating a title for an article or a book, place the title in your favorite search engine and see what comes up. Do not skip this step! Because we are so impacted by the outside world, we can easily lack originality. Titles of movies, books, and articles we’ve experienced can effortlessly leak in to our own writing. For a title that comes up less-than-original, spend some time re-working it. A little effort on this will help it stand out from the rest.

Realistically Pursuing Your Passion Series: Fear

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Can I give you a few inspiring quotes about fear? I hope you said ‘yes,’ because here it goes:

Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” -Paulo Coelho

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I’m guessing that you’ve read many other sentiments like the ones listed above. Through childhood, our teenage years, and our adult lives, the notion that fear is a bad thing is impressed upon us from many wise sources. No sincerely intelligent person has ever made the argument that living in fear is a positive, healthy way to live. While temporary moments of fear have their place in keeping us safe, fear isn’t meant to be a long-term emotion. Being afraid of what others think about us, or worrying if we are going to succeed at something, are natural thoughts to have because we are imperfect human beings. We are all going to have these thoughts from time to time, and that is perfectly natural. With that being said, when you do experience this negative, limiting emotion, it’s essential to stop it in its tracks.

Fear keeps us from being our best self. It limits what we can achieve, and keeps us from being brave. It is one of the only emotions we experience that can actually lie to us. It tells us we aren’t good enough, skilled enough, and experienced enough. While giving in to these lies may initially feel good (a.k.a. staying inside your comfort zone), taking this course of action is ultimately crushing. We don’t use our gifts and talents to the fullest, and stay in situations that we shouldn’t for too long. Time goes by far too quickly, and we become saddened by the missed opportunities fear convinced us we weren’t good enough to pursue.

If you are serious about going for that promotion, applying for your dream job, starting a business, or making any other amazing (but anxiety-provoking) changes, you first have to get your response to fear under control. It’s not easy, and you won’t be an expert right away, but it is totally worth it. The larger the change you’re making, the more anxious moments you’ll experience. After making several major life changes in the past few years myself (moving 1,000 miles away from home with no job lined up, and just recently becoming a writer + entrepreneur), I’ve experienced all of those fearful thoughts. I’ve questioned myself multiple times about whether I had made the right decisions, wondered if I’d fail miserably, and so on. I’ve relied heavily on my faith to get me through the fear, and to keep me going when I couldn’t on my own.

By now, I think I’ve made my point: if you let fear control your actions, you’ll never go where you’ve dreamed of going. Your comfort zone may initially feel like a good place to be, but you limit yourself greatly in never bravely venturing outside of it. I promise you this — beautiful and wonderful things you once thought impossible live well outside of your comfort zone.

If fear regularly holds you back, let’s get you moving forward. You are good enough, smart enough, and talented enough to start realistically pursuing your passion. To get you going, I have some homework for you. By the next post in this series (Thursday, December 8th), do the following: write a list of 3-5 fears you have about pursuing your passion. Be brutally honest, and don’t hold back. You need to better understand the specific fears that are holding you back. In the next post, we’re going to analyze your list and help you break past each worry. After moving past those fears, we’ll talk about the next step!

Have a beautiful start to your week!
-Valerie

Realistically Pursuing Your Passion: Part 1

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From early 2014 until about two months ago, Our Healthy Foodie Life was more of a hobby blog for me. I have written professionally since age 13, and I wanted a way to keep my writing sharp. I became anxious that I’d forever lose who I am as a writer while working a 9-5 job. I chose to hone my writing by sharing healthy recipes, advice, and personal experiences related to healthy living. That was, as I briefly mentioned, until about two months ago.

As a tiny bit of backstory before we move on (I won’t bore you, I promise!), I have always wanted to be a professional writer. That was the first sincere profession I decided upon. I can’t begin to describe the excitement I experienced as a geeky 13-year-old, reading through the pages of the Writer’s Market handbook to see which magazines accepted pitches from freelancers. Months later, I found an unpaid opportunity to write articles for a website dedicated to providing news about NASCAR (I definitely wasn’t a normal teenage girl), and stuck with it until my sophomore year in high school. Being a writer has always felt like it was something that I am, rather than a job or hobby. Through schooling and every job I’ve had, I have always felt like I was still a writer at heart.

To try and wrap up the “me” part of this post, and start talking about why this is relevant to you, feeling like a writer without actually doing any real day-to-day writing caused some intense dissonance. I finally got to the point where (bringing us to present day) I knew my real job title needed to match the title I’ve always felt I held internally. I made the wildly terrifying decision to leave my 9-5 to become a freelance writer. The experience was even more anxiety-producing than when my husband and I left our hometown to move 1,000 miles away (with no jobs lined up) to live on the coast of South Carolina. Yeah, it has been that intense.

Despite the fear and uncertainty, every single moment of this fairly recent journey has already been so worth it. I am learning a tremendous amount each day. I am picking up new skills, new knowledge, meeting new people, and getting to practice the profession I was born to do. I am also turning this blog in to a full-time professional blog, which has been a fun few weeks of planning, and migrating content to WordPress (finally!).

My purpose in writing this post (and the posts and vlogs that will follow) is to set the new direction of the blog, and to inspire + coach you through pursuing your passion. I will still post recipes (more than ever before, actually), but this isn’t a food-exclusive blog. I love helping to motivate and encourage others to live their best life possible, so that is what I’m going to do! I think you’ll really like the incredible content I have planned for new the Our Healthy Foodie Life.

With all of that out of the way, I need to ask you this super important question: What is it that you would do for your career if you could? Maybe you know the answer, and maybe you don’t. Which ever is true for you, it’s ok!

In this series of posts, I’m going to encourage you to be brave. I’m going to give you strategies for doing what you might think is impossible. I’ll also help you set specific goals so that you know exactly where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Even if you think the time to jump in to your dream career has passed, I’m here to let you know it hasn’t. No matter where you are at this moment in your life, there are realistic things that you can do to re-shape your life, and dive in to what you’re passionate about. Start to get excited for this series. Following along might just change the course of your life!

To help encourage you further, I’ll be giving progress updates in posts and a weekly vlog. I’m still working through this adjustment of having taken the leap to pursue what I’ve always been passionate about. I am very much in the stage of finding what works and what doesn’t, and how to navigate through this new start as a writer and entrepreneur. There will be tough weeks, and there will undoubtedly be struggles. Nothing worth achieving is easy, but you can succeed. I believe in you!

On Sunday (12/4), I will be posting a video introduction and the first official post of the series. Please mark your calendar to come back and start to follow along. I don’t know about you, but I’m so thrilled to have you start your journey of pursuing your passion. You are going to do so well…I just know it!  See you Sunday!

Blog Updates!

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Good Evening Everyone!

The blog is currently undergoing renovations (switching to a new platform and look). It should be completely finished within the next two days. Thanks for your patience! 🙂

3 Reasons to Put Your Phone Away on Vacation

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Originally posted October 2016

Stephan and I recently returned from our first “real” vacation in four years. Almost one solid week of getting away from it all, and enjoying several beautiful locations. Time to unplug, unwind, and enjoy conversations with each other.

Little did we know that from this vacation, we’d gain a completely new perspective on what it really means to “unplug.”

Our first stop was Disney’s Magic Kingdom. If you’ve ever been there, you know that there is a ton to do. It is one of our absolute favorite places to visit.

In true millennial fashion, I’ll admit that I can never totally “unplug” from my phone, especially at Disney World. There are so many photo ops and unique social media check-in locations. With that being said, Stephan and I are by no means glued to our phones. We’re firm believers that if you are paying to be on vacation, BE on vacation. Be present, soak in your surroundings, and make memories.

To our surprise, everywhere we looked, people were immersed in their smart phones. I could go on for hours about the almost impossible to believe things we saw. This continued to be the theme even after we moved on to the other locations on our trip. People couldn’t pull themselves away from the digital world to be part of the real world.

I want to clarify my tone for a moment. The last thing I want is for this post to sound judgmental. I’m writing this for the purpose of drawing attention to an epidemic in our culture that is robbing us of the moments of joy around us. This is especially true when going on vacation with family and friends. Vacations (and even mini getaways) with those we care most about are precious times that are fleeting and rare. As I can confirm from first-hand experience on this trip, your smart phone will still be there if you turn it off for a day.

If you are going on vacation (or any other mini trip), consider for a moment these three reasons to put your phone away:

1. Be present: Even though waiting in line to board a ride at an amusement park may seem like a good time to play a game on your phone, or scroll through social media feeds to pass the time, you are missing all of the sights and sounds around you. We saw this happen more times than we could begin to count on our vacation. By not being fully present in your surroundings, you are missing out on making memories and taking in the experience in full. Get comfortable with the idea of not having to fill every moment with something to do. You will feel a lot more alive, rejuvenated, and connected to others.

2. Restore your health: Vacations are a time meant for de-stressing and hitting the “re-set” button on your health. This is one of the rare times you have permission to get lost in a new book, take a three hour nap, go to an extra long yoga class, spend an entire evening at the pool, or do any other leisurely activity you want to do. You cheat yourself out of the real health benefits activities like these provide when you’re checking your phone. Prioritize your health while on vacation by letting go of the need to stay connected to your phone.

3. Show those you’re with that you care: Of any point I could make on the subject, this is the most important. Spending time on your phone instead of engaging in conversation with your family and friends shows them that they are less important. No matter what your intentions are, you are communicating to those around you that you care more about your latest status update, your work email inbox, and so on. When you turn off your phone and talk with those on vacation with you, you will feel much more connected with them. You’ll find that your conversations become more meaningful when you give your full attention to those you care most about.

The Go-To Elderberry Syrup Recipe

The Go-To Elderberry Syrup Recipe
For the past few years, my husband and I have relied solely on natural remedies to prevent us from getting colds, flus, and other seasonal illnesses. We have found our favorite all-natural ways of preventing common seasonal illnesses, and we find that we get sick no more than anyone else. Regularly taking homemade elderberry syrup is easily our go-to way of staying healthy throughout the year.

One huge disclaimer before we move on: I’m not a medical professional, nor am I making any judgements. This is simply a recipe for an incredibly healthy syrup that helps us stay well during cold and flu season. When I say that elderberries are healthy, I mean it. Do a quick Google search on these fabulous purple health-giving berries.  Elderberries are super rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, antioxidants, and so much more. They are a true all-in-one!

Moving on, I wanted to share with you my own go-to elderberry syrup recipe. I use this syrup as a preventative measure, and also as a get-better-quick remedy for when icky cold and flu symptoms creep up.

Why make elderberry syrup instead of just buying it?
Check the price tag on any elderberry syrup at a health food store and you may feel a tad bit of sticker shock. Depending on the brand, you’ll pay on average $3/oz. The last time I made multiple batches of my elderberry syrup, I made about 166oz for $30. You still get just as many health benefits from homemade syrup, and you can customize the ingredients that you add.

Where on earth do you find elderberries?
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Before trying to make my own elderberry syrup, this question intimidated me to the point that I almost didn’t try it. I admit this to you even after having been the marketing director of a health food store a few years back! Elderberries are available in fresh and dried form. I always choose dried elderberries because they are the easiest to find. While I don’t have any reliable suggestion as to where to find fresh if you choose that route, dried elderberries can be found at nearly all health food stores in the bulk spices area (i.e. look for the section of the store with the large bookshelf-looking apparatus with labeled jars).

The recipe
Before starting to work on this recipe, take note: it’s slightly time consuming. I like to make this syrup on one of my days off. I use a simple blend of dried elderberries, water, fresh ginger, cinnamon, local honey, and cayenne.

Ingredients:
•    1 cup local, raw honey
•    2/3 cup of dried elderberries
•    3 1/4 cups water
•    1 1/2 tsp cayenne
•    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
•    1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
Directions:
1. Add water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne to a saucepan that fits all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low for about one hour.

3. Remove from heat for about 30-45 minutes (or until the liquid is warm instead of hot).

4. Strain and discard elderberries and grated ginger, and pour liquid in to a large heat-safe bowl.

5. Stir in honey.

6. Pour syrup in to mason jars. For this recipe, you will need about two mason jars (they will not be completely full). Refrigerate syrup.

What now?
The finished elderberry syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for several months. My husband and I take about one teaspoon per day as a cold and flu preventative. If we fall behind on taking care of ourselves and start to feel a scratchy throat, fever, or any other symptoms, we up the dose to about three teaspoons per day. This is our absolute favorite way to stay healthy over peak cold and flu season.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar & Tea Tree Facial Toner

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar & Tea Tree Facial Toner

Originally published February 2016

Facial toner has always been a luxury item for me. While my face definitely benefits from using facial toner, I can never justify the purchase. The last time I bought facial toner, I splurged on incredible raspberry facial toner pads for $40. My face has never felt or looked better than when I used those toner pads. But I felt guilty for weeks because, being the frugal gal I am, I could never shake the feeling that the purchase was impractical.

Lately, I’ve experimented with making budget-friendly beauty products at home with all-natural ingredients. I have searched Pinterest for inspiration (as usual), and found a variety of ideas for making your own facial toner.

After trying multiple facial toner “recipes” and changing the ratio of the ingredients to fit the needs of my dry skin, I found that the following mixture works best for me. You may need to adjust the ingredient ratios if you don’t have dry skin. My advice is to start with this “recipe,” and make edits as needed for the next batch.

Ingredients:
•    2 parts apple cider vinegar
•    4 parts distilled water
•    4-5 drops of tea tree oil

After mixing all of the above ingredients in a metal spray bottle (typically found in the essential oils section of any health food store), you can begin using the toner right away. It is best to spray the toner on a cotton round, and then apply gently after cleansing your face.

I use this toner 1-2 times per day, and I am truly impressed with the results. I love that I can now make effective, inexpensive facial toner (for about less than $1 bottle), and it is made with pure, all-natural ingredients. Beauty products don’t get much better than that!

The Easiest Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe

The Easiest Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe

To state the obvious, this recipe falls far more on the side of the “foodie” part of the blog than the “healthy” part. With that statement out of the way, I excitedly present to you my new favorite recipe: The Easiest Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge Cake!

If you follow the Our Healthy Foodie Life Instagram page, you’ll know that this was my project a few days ago. I have wanted to make this traditional British cake ever since I first saw it featured in a challenge on an episode of The Great British Bake Off  (love that show!). The Victoria sponge cake is a simple, yet extravagant looking cake. When making all parts of the cake from scratch (especially the jam), it can quickly become quite an involved recipe.

Despite my appreciation for baking treats from scratch, I intentionally wanted to make my version of the cake as easy as possible. Also, since I can’t eat gluten, my version of the cake had to be gluten-free.

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I am delighted to report that my unbelievably simple version of a Victoria sponge cake turned out wonderfully! I was so surprised at how rewarding it was to make this dessert. For such a low amount of effort, I could hardly believe that I was rewarded with such a beautiful looking cake.

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Ready to try making this delectable dessert? Take a look at how simple it is to make a superb, gluten-free cake with minimal effort.

Ingredients:
•    2 boxes of gluten-free yellow cake mix (if you don’t have to be gluten-free, feel free to use standard yellow cake mixes)
•    1 large (about 17.25 oz) jar of all-natural or organic strawberry jam
•    Homemade whipped cream (use your favorite recipe, or make this an ultra lazy recipe by using pre-made whipped cream. It is up to you!)

Directions:
•    Follow the directions for your chosen box cakes to make each cake separately in its own circular cake pan (as shown in the picture below).
•    Once the cakes have been baked and fully cooled, slice the rounded top off of the larger cake (or the cake you plan to use on the bottom if they are both the same size), so that it makes a flat surface to spread the jam and whipped cream.
•    Spread a generous amount of the strawberry jam on the flat cake surface.
•    After adding the jam, lightly spread a generous amount of whipped cream on top of the jam. Be careful not to mix the jam and whipped cream, but to keep them in their own separate layers.
•    Place the other cake on top of the bottom cake.
•    Serve and enjoy! (See, I told you this was easy…)