late night thought

December 3, 2009

Have you ever had one of those moments where you come up with a completely original joke, but there’s no one around to tell it to, so you just chuckle to yourself about it, but then you realize it deserves more than just a chuckle, so you allow yourself to guffaw as you think about it again, but only in your head because no joke is funny enough to guffaw out loud when you’re by yourself, but at the same time you want to give it the credit it deserves because it’s ultimately one of those jokes that would lose some of its humor if you waited until you saw someone to be told out loud?

Yeah, it’s kind of a complicated feeling.


blueberry coffeecake

December 1, 2009

Yes, I know I’ve been slacking on the posts. Thanksgiving was awesome, had a few ginormous meals throughout the week. My green tea cake trials didn’t end up turning out the way I wanted them to — it never got as fluffy as I wanted and was way too dense. As a result, I went with a regular vanilla cake with strawberries and whipped frosting. I’ll take another stab at the green tea recipes some other time since I still have a lot of matcha powder left. Anywho, I spent some time working with fondant to decorate the turkey day cake since the actual cake was nothing special. I’ll do a post later about that. 🙂

I wanted to try something new this time around, since all I’ve been doing are green tea cakes and cookies, so I looked on Splenda’s website and picked this one! The original recipe is for a blueberry almond coffeecake, but I’m not a fan of almonds so I just opted to leave them out. Also, just a reminder that all of my recipes are written for a small convection oven. Enjoy!

Blueberry Coffeecake
(square 8″ dish, serves 10-12)

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
* 1 cup Splenda sweetener, granulated
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
* 1/2 cup low fat milk
* 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, allow to thaw to room temperature first)
* 1 egg white
* 3 tablespoons Splenda sweetener, granulated

1. Preheat oven to 325°F, grease square baking dish.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt — then set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light.
4. Add 1 cup of Splenda, and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until light and fluffy.
5. Add whole eggs one at a time, beating until fully blended after each egg.
6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
7. Fold in blueberries with a spatula. Try not to overmix so as to avoid coloring the cake.
8. Spoon mixture into greased dish.
9. Beat egg white with a fork until frothy.
10. Add 3 tbs of Splenda, blending completely.
11. Spoon egg white mixture over batter.
12. Bake 50-60 minutes.
13. Cool, serve, and enjoy!

It turned out pretty well! The crust on top from the egg white tastes really good, but I think I might try for a crumble topping next time, just to give it something extra. The blueberries were a bit on the sour side, so I might throw ’em in a little bit of sugar next time too.

type camp

November 18, 2009

Who would’ve ever thought that there’d be a camp for typography junkies and the like? Well, apparently there is! Enter stage left: Type Camp. Currently, there are six camp sessions planned over the next two years, in locations from India to Australia. Most of them are led by Dr. Shelley Gruendler, the founder of Type Camp, but also include instructors who are basically as qualified as it gets when it comes to typography. Their description says:

Strengthen your graphic design career and revive your inspiration by expanding your knowledge of typography through creative self-discovery. Expert instructors will help your typographic solutions to be stronger and clearer, which will make your design work even better and your clients even happier.

But really, you don’t even need to be a graphic designer to attend one of these. The gist of what I get from the website is that as long as you have an interest, and are motivated to learn as much as you can during your time there, they’d be more than happy to have you. Of course, the cost of attending is pretty hefty, considering you still have to manage getting there on your own, and in some cases, your housing too. Still, though, it’s such a rare opportunity to be in that kind of environment that I’m tempted to say any cost would be worth it. Hmmm… I guess it’s time to start a “send Marina to Type Camp fund.” Who wants to be the first to donate to such a worthy cause? 😀

bookbinding love

November 18, 2009

I recently stumbled upon this YouTube video that I have to share.

The entire process is just so intricate and shows just how much these people must love books to go through every single step, paying such close attention to every painstaking detail. I’m just so blown away, inspired, struck with awe, and [insert a thousand more ways to say this].

obligatory pictures

November 16, 2009

So, I said there would be pictures, and here they are! Really goes to show how much accountability can affect someone’s motivation to do something, yanno? I probably wouldn’t have normally bothered to upload pictures from my camera until maybe a few months had passed, but thanks to this blog, I’m doing it practically every other day! Go me!

The picture doesn’t really do it justice in terms of the color. Because believe me, it’s actually a really pretty green tea shade of green. Also, if you look really closely (which I don’t suggest you doing because of the lackluster quality of my camera), you might notice that the cake looks a little dense.. almost brownie-like. And that.. well, that’s not really the camera’s fault — it really is pretty dense. Hahaha. But I took a sip of milk as I was eating some tonight, and it was simply delightful.

I probably won’t post anymore about the different green tea recipes I’m gonna try in the next few days. They’ll probably all end up looking the same anyway. But what I will do is write a post sometime later about how the final one turns out. So stay tuned!

green tea muffin-cake

November 15, 2009

For Thanksgiving this year, I’m planning on baking a green tea cake (using Splenda, per my entirely diabetic family’s needs) and decorating it with fondant in an autumn theme. In preparation, I thought I’d try a couple of different recipes to see which one will be best. Tonight was the first trial. I got the recipe from RecipeZaar, but mdified it to my needs. Btw, all of my recipes are going to be for my tiny convection oven because my parents don’t see the need to buy a conventional one. I know, I know… it’s sad, but at least I’m not still using an EZ-bake oven right?

Green Tea Cake
(round 6″ pan, serves 2-4)

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup Splenda White Sugar Blend for Baking
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon green tea powder (matcha in Japanese)
* 1/4 cup low fat milk
* 1/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
* 1 egg

1. Preheat oven at 325°F.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and green tea powder and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light.
4. Add the sugar and egg and beat some more until light and fluffy.
5. Add the dry mixture and the milk.
6. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just incorporated (don’t overmix). The batter will be somewhat lumpy.
7. Liberally grease and flour pan.
8. Spoon batter into the pan.
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
10. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
11. Decorate as desired and serve!

Overall, it turned out pretty well. The cake maintained its gorgeous green color very nicely. I was afraid that it would turn a bit brown because I read it would happen with the brand of green tea powder I used, but thankfully, it didn’t! Next time though, I think I might add an extra egg yolk to make the cake more moist, as well as some extra green tea powder so that the taste comes through a bit better. I’m not gonna waste any icing & fondant to decorate this one since it’s only for taste testing. So don’t expect too much from pictures later.. it’ll be of just the cake. =P

the champion, my friends

November 12, 2009

I’m experiencing SUCH a feeling of triumph. For the past however many weeks, my now-four-and-a-half-month old dog has been shredding his pee pads to hell. I tried getting the plastic pad holders, but all that did was hold down the pad for him while he picked his way through the middle. So I looked to the internet for some answers, and all of them recommended getting the bitter apple sprays that they make for dogs. But I have one of those, and it seems like Chewy (that’s my dog’s name) almost likes the taste because when I spray it on the couch, he just starts lickin’ away.

And then I stumbled upon someone who swears by tobasco sauce. He rubs it on the edges of the pad, and it keeps his pup away. Well, I don’t have any tobasco sauce at home but I do have Sriracha. Mmmm.. rooster sauce. Turns out Chewy likes Sriracha almost as much as me! Friggin aye.

Then this morning I had an epiphany. We have a bottle of hot sesame oil that my dad bought mistakenly, thinking it was regular sesame oil. No one really uses it so I figured it wouldn’t be a waste if it turns out that Chewy likes the taste of this too. So I go about prepping the pad again. I took a plastic spoon, used the back of it to dot some oil along the edges, and laid it out for Chewy to investigate. IT WAS HILARIOUS. I guess hot sesame oil is a little too hot for him because after a single lick, he was running for his water bowl. YAY for hot sesame oil! I feel like I’ve found the key to life or something. This is gonna save me from SO much aggravation.

We are the champions…
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions – OF THE WORLD!”

[note: I ended up having to use a paper towel to spear the oil all over the edges because Chewy would find a corner not covered with it and still drag it around. Doesn’t make me any less of a winner though.]

version 2.0

November 12, 2009

In the past few days, I’ve been thinking about reigniting the drive to write for a personal blog. This time, though, I decided I need to set some kind of guidelines for myself. So NO, this won’t be an endless stream of posts detailing how depressing the whole job searching process is, and NO, this will definitely not be my outlet for complaining about a less than ideal direction my life may or may not take.

Instead, it WILL be a chronicle of the various projects I take on. With the amount of free time I have now, I figure the best way to utilize it would be to spend my spare moments working on things that truly make me content.

There are actually a couple of things I’m working on at the moment (re: baking and painting, via separate undertakings), so I’ll be writing and posting pictures of them as they start to show some promise. Regardless of the result though (meaning some have a very high chance of turning out disastrous), I’ll still make at least one post about each project. That way, if I ever become a glutton for punishment and want to try taking it on again, I’ll hopefully be able to learn from my mistakes. Oh, and I tend to forget things so this’ll serve as my visual “note to self.”

Bear with me! It’s gonna be a rocky ride.