Posted in Food/Recipes, Music, Nature, Photography, Quotes

Life’s Too Short

“We only have one life and one body to care of, and we better do it right. You never know what tomorrow may bring and so we better live this life the best we can and be grateful for everything we have.”

Novak Djokovic

I want to wish all of my readers a very happy Thanksgiving! Life outside the blog-o-sphere has been very busy. Tried a confetti creamed corn recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for a few potluck dinners I was invited to, and though it doesn’t quite look like her pictures 😉 it was still a great hit!

Rory’s Challenge? 3 quotes. 2 songs. 1 image…
Once again, I over-delivered! Take care everyone! ❤

Rory’s 321 Quote Me
Beautiful mellow sentiments
Enjoying my varied tropical music jams! ❤
Chill Your Mind background music – Summer as a mindset! 🙂
Snapshot of my new cute bracelet that my women’s fellowship gifted me with!
Image Credit: Pinterest
Posted in flashback, Food/Recipes

A-to-Z Challenge: Zest

“Orange Creamsicle Poke Cake is a wonderful addition to all your summer parties! A lovely vanilla cake that is bursting with orange flavor and topped with a fluffy orange and vanilla frosting that no one will be able to resist!”

Trish, Mom on Time Out
orange-creamsicle-cake-recipe
Image Credit: Mom On Time Out

I finally caught up! So I will end this year’s A-to-Z challenge with another yummy delight involving some orange zest: Orange Creamsicle Cake! Trish created and featured this recipe on her blog “Mom on Time Out“.

“Creamsicles have always been one of my favorite summer time treats. That combination of orange and vanilla is just so magical! Today I’ve recreated that magical combination in cake form. “

Trish
Image Credit: Pinterest

Yes, I know exactly what Trish means when she says this! I remembered when I first bit into an orange ice cream dream bar one hot summer day. It was a great taste combo. I haven’t made this cake yet, but I do enjoy baking with citrus. Oranges are one of my favorite fruits. I might try to bake it for next year’s blogger’s bake-off. It seems that I will collect recipes along the way!

Orange Creamsicle Cake Recipe

COURSE: Dessert
CUISINE: American
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 28 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 38 minutes
SERVINGS: 24

INGREDIENTS
Cake
– 15.25 oz boxed vanilla cake mix
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup Almond Breeze Vanilla almond milk
– 1 tbsp orange zest
– 3.4 oz orange JELLO
– 1.25 cup boiling water
– 1.3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Frosting
– 15 oz can of mandarin oranges (do not drain)
– 3.5 oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
– 8 oz Cool Whip

INSTRUCTIONS
Vanilla Cake
– Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting vanilla almond milk for the water and adding the orange zest. (Your exact measurements may vary slightly depending on the brand of cake mix you use.)
– Bake using package directions. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for approximately 10 minutes.
– Use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake.
– Place orange JELLO mix in a heat proof bowl and slowly add boiling water. Whisk until the JELLO has completely dissolved.
– Stir in fresh orange juice.
– Carefully and slowly pour JELLO mixture over the top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Mandarin Orange Frosting
– Beat mandarins and pudding mix together until combined.
– Gently fold in the Cool Whip or whipped cream until incorporated.
– Spread on cooled cake.
– Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Previous Posts in 2019 A to Z Challenge 
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Posted in Crafts, Culture, Dance, Events, flashback, Nature, Quotes

Q&A: A Ray of Sunshine

” People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.” – Elisabeth Kubler Ross

staglass
Hey guys! Hope you don’t mind that the tone of my posts have been quite bipolar. Dark and light like a strobe light! Just don’t get dizzy. 😀

Anyway, I’ll never forget the day when my friends and teachers described me as a ray of sunshine on my farewell cards when I moved to another school during the fifth grade. (Mentioned the experience in my post: The Transfer Student)

Just imagine an adorable, bespectacled girl reading “James and the Giant Peach” with a mephistophelian laugh enthusiastically infusing life into these fictional characters where her classmates were her captive audience hanging on to her every word. Did that make her a ray of sunshine?

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Even as an adult,  my dance instructor wrote in my Christmas card, “Sa, you’re an epitome of joy!” Hmm! I had my own worries about life like any other normal person and often thought about many people who were suffering in the world. Yet, thinking about those things often impelled me to make a difference and help others out of love.

I would like to congratulate Jenna, The Sunshine Artist, who was recently awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award, “an emblem of spreading light and love into the world”. I’ve enjoyed her prompts for the past few months. She has asked her “rays of sunshine” some questions, and I wanted to reflect on some of  them here.

  1. What’s something in your life that makes you feel truly alive and happy?
    I feel truly alive and happy any time I’m exploring a new culture and experience one of those “shocks”. It sends a jolt of electricity through me tugging at my curiosity which inspires me to share their unique stories.
    P1040441.JPG
  2. What’s an event in your life that would you would describe as a defining moment of who you are and what you want to share with the world?
    My parents took me on various road trips in our Toyota 4-Runner for our various escapades. We traveled around the world, I witnessed great beauty and encountered so many people from a variety of backgrounds. Those are some of my favorite, cherished experiences! My current “holy grail” as Jenna aptly puts it is a quest to understand from other’s experiences and help others realize their importance and purpose in life.

    Grand-Canyon-4
    foundtheworld.com
  3. What is a skill you’ve never tried, but always wished you could master?
    Ballroom dance (waltz or foxtrot) to an entire sequence of songs at a masquerade ball. Yes, I’m fond of this sort of get up occasionally. It may be highly impractical (I don’t know if I can practice that many hours), but there are days when I want to be whisked away to some fanciful, fairy tale world.
     

  4. What is special about the place you grew up?
    My hometown has given me wonderful and cool opportunities. I would say it is one of the places that has defined and shaped a huge chunk of my character and my intellectual growth. It’s a place where my neighbors genuinely care about one another and the environment we all lived in.

    We focused heavily on acts of service around the community and those experiences broadened my perspective of the world around me. I also love that it was also an incredibly diverse place that allowed the public to experience a variety of cultures. One such experience is the Chinese Latern Festival.

    Chinese-062.jpg
    Chinese Latern Festival in Fair Park Dallas, TX – Jodi Catherine Photography

     

  5. Do you consider yourself more of a morning person or a night owl?
    I’m a morning person, through and through. I’m so chipper that I wish I could transfer my overflow to others! I love to watch the sun rise as I’m drinking tea and having quiet time writing in a journal. I like to watch the trees and flowers sparkle and shine after I shower them with water.
    tea-381235_1920
     
  6. What’s one thing in your life that you hope never changes?
    My ability to adapt to changes and keep learning from life’s greatest lessons. 
  7. What are 3 small things that make each day a little brighter?
    Counting my blessings with gratitude, spending time in nature, homemade spa treatments
    Homemade-Honey-Yogurt-Oatmeal-Mask-homemade-spa-treatment

  8. What’s your favorite activity to do on a rainy day?
    I have a couple of activities I enjoy: I love to play Settlers of Catan board game with my siblings.
    catan.0.0
    I also like to try out a new recipe: cook/bake. (OH! I just got the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication with Dorie Greenspan‘s recipes!!!! Her recipes look absolutely divine!)
     


    I like to play the piano. I whip out my non-toxic paint and start creating abstract works of art. I also crochet/knit, sew, snuggle with a great book, or draw a map from a work of literature. Last one I did was “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
    to kill a mockingbird

  9. What’s a small gesture from a stranger that’s had a memorable impact on you?
    The first one that came to mind was a woman who was dining at a location where I was a waitress. I’ve always been one to want to deliver 5-star service to my customers. I took her order, but since it was a slow day I sat down and talked to her a bit and listened to some of her problems. We joked about a few things and I can feel the tension melting from her face. She left, but then returned with a month supply of groceries for me and took me out to eat. I was surprised to say the least!
    waitress
  10. What is a soothing smell for you that fills you with a sense of warmth, like a sunshine balm for your soul?
    I love the scent of a cranberry mandarin candle. I sometimes light a scented candle when I take a shower and have it travel in the mist. It infuses me with a indescribable sense of joy throughout the day.
    candles-2000135_960_720

“Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Thoreau

butterfly-196745_1920

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Posted in Food/Recipes, Quotes

Bun Baking Adventure

baking

Today, I turned one of my dreams into a reality today by making some cinnamon raisin buns! I followed a recipe on “A Culinary Genealogy: The Woks of Life“.

Cinnamon raisin buns are lightly sweet, soft, and better than cinnamon toast. They disappear quickly but this cinnamon raisin buns recipe is so easy to make.
Author: Sarah
Recipe type: Bread and Pizza
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 dozen buns

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Ingredients
For the bread dough:
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
To finish the buns:
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½-2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water to form an egg wash
  • simple syrup: 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

Instructions

  1. Start by making the bread dough. In the bowl of a mixer, add the heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt (in that order). Using the dough hook attachment, turn on the mixer to “stir.” Let it go for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together.
  2. After 15 minutes, the dough is ready for proofing. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for 1 hour. The dough will grow to 1.5X its original size.
  3. After the bread dough has proofed for an hour, put the dough back in the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles. Dump the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces.
  4. Roll out each piece into a rough 8×4 inch rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and dot with a few raisins. Roll into a cigar, and cut the cigar in half lengthwise, leaving one end attached (it’ll look like a pair of pants). Twist the two pieces together, and then roll the whole thing into a snail shape, tucking the ends underneath the bun. Lay on a baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise for another hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the risen buns with egg wash and bake for 13-15 minutes. Right after they’re baked, brush with simple syrup.

My Experience
I gathered all of the ingredients I needed for the bread dough. I think my egg beater wasn’t powerful enough to mix my ingredients, so I kneaded and folded the dough by hand for 20 minutes. I then left the dough to rise in a warm place by the oven for an hour and a half. Afterward, I kneaded the dough some more and separated it into 12 pieces.

DSCN6112

I took a rolling pin and began flattening each piece. I sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon. Then I sprinkled the raisins.
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I preheated the oven 350 degrees. I rolled it into a cigar shape, and cut it in half to look like a pair of pants. I braided the two pieces, and then I rolled it into a snail shape tucking the ends at the bottom. After letting all of the buns rise for another hour, I brushed the buns with the egg wash.
DSCN6114

I didn’t have a baking pan, but inserted it into some foil cupcake holders. I do think that the baking pan will give it more room to expand. I popped it into the oven, but I ended up baking it roughly 30 minutes instead of the 13-15 minutes on the recipe. I tasted a piece after 15 minutes, and it was still doughy even though the outside looked ready. It could be due to various factors. Maybe it was the kind of dough I used or the kind of pan that I put them on.
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This is how it looks after 20 minutes in the oven. The egg wash does a wonderful job with the buns!
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I brushed some light sugar syrup, and it’s ready!

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I gave some to my roommates who really enjoyed them, and said they were delicious. One of them added some extra frosting. She’s a sweet tooth! I delivered the rest of the fresh buns to my coworkers down the street. They were really excited to see them and even more excited to hear they were made from scratch. All in all, it was a pretty good experiment if I say so myself!

Posted in Dreams, Food/Recipes

The Raisin Buns in the Bakery

09.29.18
Dream: I was travelling with a tour group in the daytime along a cobblestone street towards our hostel. I dropped off my luggage and decided to go walk down to the bakery which I couldn’t miss. It was located in a bright, yellow bricked building. I walked inside and saw a VERY long line.

I looked to the racks on the side of the bakery, and noticed some raisin buns: 38 cents for a package of 12. I hastily grabbed the bag knowing that it would be gone if I waited. “Where am I? There is no way I’m in the United States for raisin buns to be at that price?!!” As I was checking out, I took note of the surroundings. Everyone was dressed in heavy coats and seemed grateful for the warmth of the soft lighting in the bakery. 

When I got back to the hostel, I had an itch on my head that I was dying to scratch. I dropped my package of buns realizing that I had lice in my hair! I rolled my eyes, “To the pharmacy, here I go.”

That’s it! I wake up feeling so motivated to bake. I’ve had enough of dreaming about delicious food that I have yet to taste. I’m going to find a recipe for the tacos from my Taco Run dream as well as another recipe for this one. I think I found a wonderful recipe of some cinnamon raisin buns on A Culinary Genealogy: The Woks of Life.  The recipe calls for simple ingredients which looks promising.

raisin-sweet-rolls-1
For the bread dough: 

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
To finish the buns:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2-2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water to form an egg wash
  • simple syrup: 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water