Brownie Butterscotch Pudding Parfait from Awesome on 20

Brownie Butterscotch Pudding Parfait

Brownie Butterscotch Pudding Parfait from Awesome on 20

My brain shuts down in the summer. It’s a real problem. I’ve never handled heat very well. I mean, I know we have practically perfect weather here, with temperatures always between 60 and 90, but without air conditioning, my house becomes mildly unbearable in the July afternoons. I get cranky and unpleasant. Don’t even ask me to go into the kitchen and cook you something. I don’t do sweat.

But I need dessert. A dessert that doesn’t require me to think. Or know what day it is. It’s summer. I can’t handle complicated in summer. My daughter wanted brownies, I wanted pudding. We threw them both in the same cup, kept it simple, and let the grocery store do most of the work. Guess what. It tasted awesome!

Brownie Butterscotch Pudding Parfait from Awesome on 20

Okay, so you do have to turn the oven on for a little while if you bake your own brownies. I waited until right before bed when it was a little bit cooler in the house. They needed to go in the fridge to cool first anyway, so might as well let that happen while I’m sleeping, right? Or you could be extra lazy and buy premade brownies. I never object to lazy.

I layered chewy brownie bits, creamy butterscotch pudding, fluffy whipped cream, and crunchy toffee bits. Two times. It was immense. Pure joy!

Brownie Butterscotch Pudding Parfait from Awesome on 20

Hopefully my brain function will return to normal as the temperatures creep down. Maybe my sugar addiction will subside as well. Seems unlikely. Until then, brownie butterscotch pudding parfait, baby!

Brownie Butterscotch Pudding Parfait
Serves 4
Layers of chewy brownie, creamy butterscotch pudding, fluffy whipped cream and crunchy toffee bits, so easy you can do it with your brain shut off.
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Total Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 4 brownies (from your favorite recipe, box mix, or store bought)
  2. 1 box butterscotch instant pudding mix
  3. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  4. 1-1/2 cups skim milk
  5. 1/2 cup whipped cream (fresh or from a can or tub)
  6. 1 Heath bar, chopped
  1. Pour milk and cream on top of pudding mix in a medium bowl. Whisk for two minutes and refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Crumble half of your brownie into the bottom of a 4 to 6 ounce container.
  3. Spoon in two big spoonfuls of butterscotch pudding. Don't over think it.
  4. Add a big dollop of whipped cream.
  5. Crumble in the rest of your brownie.
  6. Add another layer of pudding followed by whipped cream.
  7. Sprinkle with toffee bits.
  8. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve.
  9. Be prepared not to move for a while after eating. It's probably too hot anyway.
  1. Heavy cream and skim milk can be replaced with 2 cups whole milk. Using all skim milk makes the pudding too thin for me.
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Passion Fruit Green Tea from Awesome on 20

Passion Fruit Green Tea

Passion Fruit Green Tea from Awesome on 20

In Taiwan, our very favorite drink was passion fruit green tea from a place we called 50 tea shop. There were four tea shops on just one side of the street on one single block in our neighborhood. We’d occasionally try the other ones, but the guys at 50 recognized the foreigners and usually knew what we wanted before we even made it to the counter. I needn’t have bothered learning how to say baixiang lucha. It’s one of the very few things I can actually say in Chinese. I was an abysmal expat.

Taiwan Tea

When lilikoi, or yellow passion fruit, started flooding our backyard, we knew we wanted to recreate our favorite drink from our former home. I came home from work one day to find that my husband had made a jug of lilikoi syrup. We went straight to the store to buy some green tea bags, brewed a cup each, impatiently waited for it to cool, dumped it over some ice and spiked it with the syrup. We were transported.

The lilikoi syrup could easily be mixed with plenty of other things. I’m sure a lilikoi margarita never hurt anyone. But a big pitcher of passion fruit green tea in your fridge when it’s 85 degrees in your living room really can’t be beat. It’s sweet but not too sugary. It also gives you a nice little hit of caffeine to help you through those hot afternoon slumps. It’s really the perfect drink.

Passion Fruit Green Tea from Awesome on 20

Taiwan, US, UK, anywhere you can get your hands on some passion fruit, give this a try. And practice your Chinese. You can’t be any worse than me.

Passion Fruit Green Tea
Serves 8
Sweet and slightly tart iced green tea infused with passion fruit syrup to get you through the heat.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
2 hr
For syrup
  1. 2 cups passion fruit pulp
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 2 cups water
For green tea
  1. 1 green tea bag per cup of water
For syrup
  1. Put sugar and water in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. This should only take a few minutes.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Add passion fruit pulp to simple syrup. Put a lid on the pot and leave it to steep for two hours.
  4. Strain out pulp and store in an air tight container or mix directly with tea.
For tea
  1. Boil some water and soak tea bags to desired strength. It's making tea, not rocket science.
  2. You can store the syrup in a separate container or combine it in a pitcher directly with the green tea. Fill up your desired container (short glass, tall glass, pitcher, bucket) with 3/4 green tea and 1/4 passion fruit syrup.
  3. Serve over ice.
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How To Be Awesome When Times Are Hard

sun through trees

Thus far, the year of the snake has not been our year. The ever growing list of calamities is too long to mention, but let’s just say supply is not keeping up with the universe’s demands. It’s so easy to get depressed and believe that it’s never going to end. That things will never get better. That despair will always be a step away. No matter how hard you work, things will never change.

They say that money can’t buy happiness, and this time they’re right. But let’s not pretend for one second that a lack of it isn’t difficult. It is. That’s just a fact of life. But today, I want to change my story. Maybe I can convince myself by trying to convince you. This is an unusual type of post, but this blog has always been about real life, and making things awesome with less. It’s a necessary departure in our journey.

Here are five ways to stay awesome when $20 a day is a luxury.

Kailua sunset

Take back your power

I made a plan to cut our spending and try to rebuild our savings. I don’t know if it will work, but we’re going to give it a shot. Having a sense of control over your destiny, even if it’s an illusion, is empowering. I’m doing something about it, rather than just letting my problems control my life. I’m not throwing up my hands. I’m taking back my power. 

Making a budget is too much like math. I don’t do math. But building obscure plans and rules is right up my alley. I came up with a strategy for my husband and I to try to limit our spending and put some money back into our savings account. And there are rewards at the end when goals are met, so the incentive is awesome. It will force us to make some tough choices, but hopefully, we won’t have to live like paupers. Too much restriction is depressing. Too much freedom is a slippery slope to the poor house. I hope we’re hanging out somewhere in the middle. Somewhere called awesome. 


Get outside

This is, of course, both literal and figurative. I find the best way to clear my mind is to take a walk, preferably somewhere with beautiful trees and flowers. Sitting in one place and dwelling on your problems does absolutely nothing to solve them. It just makes you feel like crap. Decidedly unawesome.

Get up, get out, breathe deep, and just put yourself somewhere else for a while. Nature won’t ask you to spend a dime. The exercise will do your mind and body good. And if you go with a friend, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to laugh about. Getting out of your house, and outside of yourself, can be a tremendous relief. It’s awesome out there. Go get in it.

on the wall

Be exactly who you are

Sometimes you’re just flat broke, and there’s no way around it. Often, though, I find that my feelings about my lack of money have more to do with society’s expectations than from anything actually related to who I am or what I want. If I don’t have a decent house/car/clothes/pet/phone/gadget and on and on, people will think I’m a failure. If I don’t have a high paying job with an impressive title, people will think I am a useless waste of space. Wait a minute? Since when did I start caring so much about what people think?

It’s so easy to give into expectations, even if that’s not truly what makes you happy. Honestly, the thing that’s brought me the most contentment lately is writing this blog. It makes me about five cents a day. I don’t want to spend all my time doing something I hate just so I can buy stuff. It’s only making me miserable and making someone else rich. I would like to be more secure, but I don’t need things to prove that I am successful. I don’t need to play that game. I do occasionally need $5 for a mai tai.

So, you strike a balance. Trade some hard work for the moments of pleasure where life really happens. And you scheme to tip the balance more toward the wonderful moments. And you ignore the voices that tell you what you should be because you know who you are, and who you are is awesome.


Open up to love

Getting through hard times is so much about shifting your perspective. You have to confront your problems, sure, but you don’t have to dwell in them every moment of every day. It’s easy to isolate yourself, especially when you don’t have money to go out. Don’t do it!

Reach out to the people you love, and they will help to take you away, if only for a moment, from the heaviness. I, myself, sometimes have to dig a little deeper to find the happiness, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to make an effort to dwell more in the light and push the darkness to the edges. Gather your friends and family around you. If you need some time for catharsis, take it. But skip to the laughter as quickly as possible. That’s where the living happens.

And if you ask nicely and make a pouty face, they might bring a bottle of wine.


Gain perspective

Even with all the problems we face, they are still first world problems. We’re struggling in the perspective of our neighbors, but worldwide, we’re in the top 12% in income. The fact that I can walk into my kitchen and have drinkable water at any given moment is a blessing and a miracle. I may not have a dryer, a dishwasher, air conditioning, or access to affordable healthcare,but I have safe drinking water. I have a roof over my head. I am able to read. I really am privileged. Everybody’s life is complicated, regardless of income. We all have struggles. My problems are not any less real, but neither are my blessings. It’s worth remembering.

I know we’re not the only ones struggling these days. I am determined to hold onto my awesomeness. I just have to choose it. Who’s with me?

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