Just Baked: Triple Chip Cookies

I may have hoarded a lot of baking ingredients in the last couple of months that I find myself wondering how I could use up all of them. Among the things I bought so much of are morsels in white chocolate, butterscotch and semi-sweet chocolate variants.

I was in the same situation last Christmas when I was thinking of what to gift to my colleagues. I was too lazy to look for three different recipes that will use up those morsels. I found my perfect solution when I found the Triple Chip Cookies recipe from Shugary Sweets. You may go to her website for the complete recipe. However, stay tuned here for the little tweaks that I made to her original recipe.

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The one thing I love about this recipe is that it calls for melted butter. That being said, I need not worry about getting my butter from the freezer (that’s how I like to keep my butter) very early for it to come to room temperature by the time I am ready to bake. It cuts my waiting time by 90% and that is a plus for me.

While hers called for only a cup and a quarter of melted butter, I opted to use a cup and a third. I figured that with four and a quarter cups of flour, a little extra butter will help keep the cookies from being crumbly. I also decided to brown the butter a bit for that extra nutty flavor that ups the cookie game by another level.

I also added a quarter teaspoon more salt making my salt a total of three quarters of a teaspoon. I always like a hint of saltiness in my cookies to cut through the sweetness of the sugars and the chocolate chips. I only had table salt available but I am sure using sea salt would have been even better.

I followed the rest of the ingredients as written in the Shugary Sweets site. My only problem was that my white chocolate and my butterscotch morsels were too tiny compared to my semi-sweet chocolate chips. Hence, a cup and a quarter of these morsels seemed too plenty because they took up very little space. Oh well, maybe I can try to find morsels sized evenly next time.

My common problem with any cookies that have chips or morsels in them is that the dough covers them a lot while baking and there’s not much trace of them on the top. That is why, unlike my attempt like Christmas season, I made it a point this time to save some chips/morsels to decorate the tops of my cookies. After scooping them on the tray lined with parchment paper, I stuck a few more chips on the cookie dough so they will show up after the cookies bake.

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Using a small scoop (4mm), I ended up with six dozens and three pieces of cookies! The did not spread so much and because of the baking powder, they rose up a little bit. I think the size of the morsels affected the yield of the cookies.

Anyway, I liked these cookies a lot. The nutty taste of the browned butter made the cookies even more yummy! Admittedly, they were a tiny bit too sweet for me though so, I think I’ll adjust the amount of chips/morsels next time. I might go for more semi-sweet chocolate chips and lessen the amount of the white chocolate and butterscotch versions.

I was able to fit a dozen cookies in a 5″ x 6¾” x 2″ box. It’s perfect for gifting for special occasions! All it needs is a ribbon (or two) and a tag!

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Just Baked: Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

“Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” ― Lemony Snicket, When Did You See Her Last?

I am forever in love with the smell of cinnamon and sugar whether they be on my pretzels or on my snickerdoodles. Still, nothing beats warm, fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls that fill the house with a heavenly scent.

With humidity at only 58%, I decided it was time to once again attempt making cinnamon rolls. I had all the ingredients at home to make this treat and it was my chance to use my pastry mat from Hong Kong.

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My first attempt a few months ago was a disaster because no matter how long I kneaded the dough and how much additional flour I put in, the dough was too bloody sticky and soft that I was not able to do anything about it except to just make a cinnamon loaf bread. Hey, it was still so yummy despite being in a different form! Too bad I forgot the recipe I used at that time.

For my second attempt, I followed the recipe of Anna Olson from her Oh Yum YouTube channel. Her recipe looked easy to make for an amateur like me. My only problem was I only had a hand mixer. I figured that if I was able to make Hokkaido milk bread using it, I should be able to make cinnamon rolls with it too.

Oh dear. The dough was still just as sticky as the last time I made it. I think I consumed 60 minutes kneading the dough, alternating between my hand mixer and my own hands.  I also added what seemed like 1/4 cup of flour because everything was freaking sticky! I do not know if it was my flour or if I was simply unlucky because I could not achieve the smooth, baby’s bum texture of dough like I see bakers on YouTube get.

68165312_unknownWhen I finally decided to give up with kneading because my arms were needing some rest already, I placed my dough in a lightly oiled bowl and covered it to let it rise. I left it alone for 90 minutes while I prepared the cinnamon sugar filling and the goo.

The goo! Oooh, it smelled wonderfully of butter, sugar and maple syrup! I added walnuts and raisins in the pan with my gooey syrup mixture because I am fond of cinnamon rolls with fruits and nuts. They give the buns some texture that I absolutely love. That being said, I do not get why A LOT of people hate raisins.

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I enjoyed beating this bad boy.

My favorite part about making bread is that I get to punch the dough as part of the degassing step. Boy, it’s therapeutic when I get to punch it and shout “Bam!” With this dough, I especially wanted to beat the gas out of it because it gave me a hell of a hard time kneading it. Thankfully, it was no longer too tacky after proofing.

Rolling out the dough into a rectangle shape so I can spread the filling was not as difficult as I was prepared for. The best part? I was able to roll the whole thing into a log! I was getting more and more excited because at this stage, I was far better from how it was during my first attempt. This looked promising!

Using a cooking twine, I sliced twelve pieces that were of uneven sizes. Yeah, I still have to improve a lot on that part. At least the twine made sure I didn’t squish my buns unlike if I used a knife. I have to thank Mom for the twine because there was no way I was using mint-flavored floss on my hard work.

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I let the buns proof for another hour before finally baking them for 45 minutes at 350ºF. Oh my gosh! They look adorable sitting on that puddle of goo!

Oh my gosh! Achievement unlocked! I did it! I made my very own cinnamon rolls and I did not use store-bought dough.

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Okay, happiness aside, I admit finding the amount of goo too much for the buns. I would probably use just half the recipe next time because I am not fond of overly sticky and soggy cinnamon rolls. After flipping the buns out, I poured around 3/4 cups of excess goo in a jar to keep and use for something else. I think it would be nice to pour on pancakes.

I also find that the buns browned a little darker than what I was aiming for. I was afraid the bottom half weren’t baked yet despite the tops already browning so, I held on to the last 5 minutes of the baking time. Perhaps lower temperature and longer baking time on my next attempt?

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I am so proud of myself today despite the uneven sizes of the buns and the excess goo. It’s okay to have a lot of room for improvement because it only means more adventures in my kitchen. On my next attempts, I want a tighter roll, more filling, less goo and finally, even slices.

For now, I shall be enjoying this gooey, sticky fruit of my hard work.

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Bends and Twists

“Your mind is a key, and whatever it unlocks, the greatest treasure of all.” -Michael Bassey Johnson

After joining the workshop on caging crystals, I got hooked on making accessories. I promised myself to buy materials and tools so I could busy myself with making baubles, putting into practice what I have learned.

I made a trip to Wellmanson Beads and Accessories in Quiapo, very near the Quiapo Church, in my search for tools, wires, and charms. I did not expect to be overwhelmed by how many awesome items they had in the store! There were rows and rows of beads, chains, gauge wires, and so many more!

The items I got from this store include my wire cutter, round nose pliers and long nose pliers that I think were only around ₱60-₱70 each! I also got wires, some chains, jump rings and lobster claw locks and a string of rose quartz beads.

Outside the store, along Villalobos Street, there were tons of other stores that sold beads, chains, charms and stones for making accessories. One of them was DIY Beads.

If you thought the beads and charms selection from Wellmanson was overwhelming already, this store was even more so! I was not able to snap a pic because I was so busy looking at stuff to buy!

I got a string each of carnelian, moonstone and rhodorite. I am no gemologist and cannot attest to the authenticity of these stones. All I know is that they are super pretty to look at!

Since I was not satisfied yet, I went to a couple more stores until I found one that sold some heart-shaped cherry quartz. Again, I do not know if these are real but I truly hope so.

Once home and have had my lunch, I immediately went ahead to play with my purchases! I ended up making keychains for everyone in my team at work. I also made some pendants to wear.Making accessories has helped me lately because my insomnia has come back, allowing me only three hours of sleep instead of my normal six to seven hours. By the time my hands were tired, I was ready to doze off.

I realized that I forgot to get gold-colored gauge wires so I searched online to buy. I ended up buying from PlanetAccessory over Shopee. From that shop, I also got a few more charms, and strings of black onyx, ruby, jade and amazonite beads.

Because of the heavy rains, I had to wait for about half a week to get my hands on my orders. By this time, I have found lots of ideas on Pinterest on designs to re-create and tips to be better at making wired jewelry. I am so glad that there are lots of DIY guides that could be found there!

I could not sleep at all last night (again) and so,I busied myself making a few more accessories. Most of them were rings.

In my attempt to be better at bending and twisting wires, I cut myself in the process. Thankfully it was just small. I wrapped the wound with a plaster and went back to wringing the hell out of my wires.

By the time I knew it, it was sunrise already. My fingertips were aching and I think I grew callouses in the process.

I realized how quickly time passed by when I busied myself with making trinkets. My mind went on laser focus mode and did not have space for worries and anxieties. I found the activity truly realxing (except for when I scratched of cut myself).

On the other hand, I realized how I could not entirely make the wires bend to how I want them to at all times. Sometimes, they have a will of their own and would want to bend to a different direction than what I had planned. Forcing the wire sometimes meant making dents or marks that I could not straighten anymore. I had to work with them not against them.

I also found out that my ring finger is of the same circumference as a Vicks Inhaler. I did not have a ring sizer or ring mandrel (costs a lot!!!) on hand so the inhaler was such a huge help to me when I made rings. I guess having caught a flu recently had its perks.

I plan to grow my collection of semi-precious stones. I also need to buy them not in these round form, but in irregular shapes for added charm. I already got myself an organizer from Daiso that will allow me to keep them in containers that are so cute! I think I will need to buy some more!

I hope to greatly improve my creativity and hand dexterity so I can make beautiful accessories. For now, I shall be browsing my Pinterest for inspiration.

Fancy Cages

A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories.” — Oscar de la Renta

When I was a little girl, I remember always asking to wear my Mom’s jewelries or my Dad’s heirloom necklace. Jewelries and accessories made my eyes shine with glee when I lay my hands on those sparkly things. My Mom would always remind me that when I was around two years old, I kept on begging to have my ears pierced and I felt so “grown up” when I finally had them.

img_7754I guess it’s karma for my insisting to have them early because my ears developed an allergy for gold earrings. My lobes would swell and get wounded so I stayed away from those things unless absolutely necessary. Even then, I would remove them after a few hours. As I grew up, I lost that fondness over accessories. I either just wear a necklace or a bracelet, but never the whole shebang.

Lately though, I have rediscovered my penchant for gemstones or crystals. I used to love reading about them as a kid and wondering if their so-called healing properties were real. I am not sure how a stone could make one more tranquil or relaxed but what I am sure of is that they are pretty things, regardless of whether they are impregnated already (with added materials) or in their pure state. So, when I discovered the Caged Crystal Jewelry Making Workshop hosted by Maartsy, I made it a point to make sure I could attend it.

After attending church service, I went straight to the workshop. An hour early there, I saw Ms. Benj of @penumbra.ph (the instructor) preparing the materials to be used throughout the workshop. She was as pretty as her jewels and charms! It looked like she really made sure to prepare everything we will need. We had tools, handout, and a buffet of crystals and charms to use that afternoon.img_7671

Ms. Benj was very hands-on in teaching us, going around the table to make sure we were getting the instructions from the manual right. She would make it a point to show everyone our finished work of art every time we would complete one. I think she taught us a total of six ways of caging crystals.

img_7712My most favorite is this tree of life style I used on a very adorable heart-shaped rose quartz. It looked so feminine and sweet! I paired it with a long chain because I have not tried wearing long necklace pieces. I figured, I should try experimenting on wearing such kind.

I had so much fun bending and looping wires that I forgot all my worries at work that day (deadlines coming up). All I could focus on was the design I was trying to make. And despite struggling with the silver wire that was a little too thick for comfort, I was so happy that I was learning how they made those pretty accessories I would see from online shops in my IG feed. It was not easy but I was glad to know doing it was not too difficult for me not to manage.

img_7728I went home with the accessories I made and some extra wire. I remembered the amethyst crystal I bought not so long ago and tried to apply my learnings from the workshop by caging it in my remaining gold wire. The result was so cute! I guess I now have two favorites.

I realized how much I loved creating stuff with my hands. I may not find happiness in drawing or painting because I was not gifted in those areas at all, but I found that I enjoy creating stuff with my hands like when I bake or when I mix up some concoctions. This was not any different. I loved it so much! I found the process therapeutic for a reason.

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Products of my hard work.

Do I recommend this workshop? Yes! Whether you’re a girl or a guy (yes, we had a male participant that day), learning how to turn crystals into wearable accessories will not only be a good pastime but might also turn into an income-generating activity.

What will you need?

Patience

You cannot create a beautiful piece in one or two twists of the wire. You have to be patient when working with it especially when you have to loop them around.

Hand dexterity

Some designs can be intricate and will require careful and calculated maneuvering of the wires. The thicker ones are tougher to bend into place. I even cut myself a little bit in the process. But, that should not stop you from enjoying this activity.

With practice and time, you will be twisting and bending wires like a pro to create beautiful crystal cages to house your favorite gemstones.

A creative mind

There is no such thing as an ugly design but you can let your creativity flow in this activity. You can twist and bend the wires in multitude ways and no work can ever be exactly the same as another.  You just have to trust yourself and the design you are aiming to create.

I am glad to have found another activity that I am sure to enjoy doing. I am already scouting for sources of materials to make accessories for myself and for friends and family. I am pretty excited about what I can create once I have all that I need.

Just Baked: Pionono

“You just gotta roll with it.”

Another weekend, another baking day for me! This time, I shall be making pionono.

What is pionono? This is difficult to answer. You see, depending on where you are from (e.g. Spain, Philippines, South America, etc.), we may not be talking about the same thing. Pionono varies depending on where it is made. The common factor though is that it is said to have been named after the Italian name of Pope Pius IX, Pio Nono.

In the Philippines, these are small, Swiss roll-like cakes. I loved them as a kid and used to buy them at the Landmark, Makati when they still had Fortune Bakery. Today, it’s not very often that I see pionono in bakeries and I truly missed them lately. That’s why I decided to make my own.

Actually, this is already my second attempt at this because I did not document my first try. Half of the first one I made went to my aunt who came over to visit. Mom mentioned lately that she wanted to have it again because she did not get her fill the first time. So, I decided to make it for her as soon as the weekends came.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F. Separate the whites and the yolks of 5 large eggs. Make sure the egg whites will have no trace of the yolks.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, gradually adding 30 grams of white granulated sugar. Add in 25 ml milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 25 ml melted butter.
  3. Sift 1/3 cup cake flour and 1/8 tsp salt and add to the egg yolk mixture. Fold in gently and stop once combined.66060928_unknown
  4. With a clean whisk/beater attachment to the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and continue beating. Gradually add 70 grams of granulated white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the egg whites do not slide or move when you tilt the bowl. This is the meringue.
  5. In three batches, add the meringue to the egg yolk mixture and fold in gently. Be careful not to over mix to avoid knocking all the air out from the meringue.66061200_unknown
  6. Line your baking tray with a parchment/baking paper and gently pour in mixture. Gently spread it around to get to the corners of the pan. Give the tray a light tap on your counter/table.
  7. Bake at 150°C for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.66061312_unknown
  8. While still warm, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Then, cover the top with parchment paper. Get another baking tray and flip the cake over. Gently remove the parchment paper that was used for baking.
  9. You may either divide into four or six portions to make small, individual rolls or just make one big roll. Gently roll the cake into a log using the new parchment paper to guide it. Let it cool while rolled into a log.
  10. While waiting for it to cool, combine 1/4 cup of softened butter and 2 tbsps of powdered sugar. If using unsalted butter, you may add a pinch of salt just to liven the taste of the filling. You may just use butter or margarine too. That should work fine.
  11. Once the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the filling. Make sure to leave one inch on each side without filling. Then, gently roll back the cake into a log.
  12. If desired, you may brush the top of the cake with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

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When it came out of the oven, it smelled strongly of eggs. It’s not a wonder given that five eggs were used in making this treat. I was too lazy to make 6 individual pieces out of the whole pan I baked so I decided to make it into one big Swiss-roll like piece.

I might have been a little impatient because I realized that it has not cooled enough to keep the butter filling from melting. Tsk. Also, I have to work on making a tighter roll.

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The good news is, it still tasted great! It tasted exactly like the pionono I loved as a kid. Even Mom liked it too. She was even teasing me that when I was younger, she baked and I taste tested. Now, it’s the other way around.

It’s true. I learned how to bake from my Mom. We just used a stove-top oven because we could not afford an electric oven yet. Today, we still dream about a large oven and a stand mixer. Hence, I must work very hard to be able to afford these.

Anyway, there you go, guys. My go-to recipe for pionono. What’s the pionono like in your country? How do you make it?

Just Baked: Corn Muffins

“But since you’re asking me, I’ll tell you my opinion: all cornbread is authentic, as long as it’s good, hot, and made with love and fresh ingredients.” ~ Jeremy Jackson

The first time I heard about cornbread/corn cakes, I was watching the animated film, Thumbelina. Ms. Fieldmouse baked corn cakes for Mr. Mole and she wanted Thumbelina to bring those cakes to him. Trying hard matchmaker, humph!

Having loved corn growing up, I was curious what corn cakes were. I imagined them to taste just as sweet as my favorite bright yellow Japanese corn! I would soon discover what corn in a bread tasted like when I ate at Kenny Rogers for the first time. My Mom, knowing how I wanted to try the closest thing to corn cakes, got me Kenny’s corn muffins.

It was nothing like how I imagined it. It was drier that I thought and not as sweet as Japanese corn. Despite that, I loved it so much! I was hooked! I knew right then that corn muffins will be my favorite muffins my whole life!

My mom learned how to make corn muffins when I was in high school but I only remember her trying to make it once or twice. Cornmeal was difficult to find in the groceries and Mom found them only in the nearest baking supplies store near us. Despite the proximity, it was difficult to go there and to go home (the more difficult of the two). I promised myself nevertheless that I will learn how to bake corn muffins no matter what.

Today, is that day! To my surprise, I found a few packs of cornmeal in the grocery I frequented. I was only looking for flour but its yellow color caught my eye. To me, it was like the yellow powdery stuff looked like a gleaming pot of gold that I had to get my hands on immediately. I grabbed one and didn’t think twice about paying for it.

I found Todd Wilbur’s Corn Muffins Like Kenny Rogers Roasters recipe and I decided to try it given the high ratings and reviews. It called for 3/4 cup of my cornmeal so I felt good that the quantity I bought was more than enough.

So what else did the recipe called for?

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Two eggs, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/2 cup of butter, 2/3 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of frozen corn

But since I am stubborn, I used one whole can (drained) of whole kernel corn! For me, the more corn, the better.

1/2 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of honey

Lastly…

1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour.

I sifter both the flour and the cornmeal for a super smooth batter!

I pre-heated my oven at 200°C while I creamed the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. It took around two to three minutes before I started adding my eggs, honey, and salt. Then I mixed them all until well combined.

I combined the flour, cornmeal and baking powder together, mixing well so that each ingredient was well distributed throughout. Then, I added my dry ingredients to my wet ingredients, gradually adding milk while I mixed.

It’s time for the corn! I dumped one can worth of whole kernel corn and made sure they were mixed well with the batter.

I scooped them to a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners (I hate having to clean up stuck pieces of baked goodies from my baking trays and pans). Since I did not know how much it would rise, I only filled my first 12 cups with one scoop of the batter using a regular-sized ice cream scooper. Turns out, the don’t rise much so I filled my next batch with more batter. I ended up with 22 muffins, the last 10 bigger than the first 12. I guess it would have made 24 muffins if I used a 2-oz muffin pan instead of my 3-oz pan.

The recipe said to bake at 20-25 minutes but mine cooked at 15 minutes only. 400°F is around 204°C and mine was only at 200°C! I wonder why…

Oh, never mind. What’s important is that they were finally here! My first batch was too small for the liners so I removed the liners before taking their pictures

The second batch was much larger than the first.

They were yummy! I am not sure if they tasted anything like Kenny Rogers Roaster’s but it does not matter to me. I loved how the recipe worked out. They were not too dry (like how some corn muffins tend to be) nor were they too crumbly. I’m sooooooo happy!

Another dream come true!

What’s your corn muffin recipe? When I was doing my recipe research, I saw a lot of bickering how there should or should not be any sugar in it. Hmmm… What are your thoughts?

Inkling: A Tarot and Journaling Workshop

IMG_5798Last March 17, I attended a tarot and journaling workshop at Craft MNL. It was my first time to attend a workshop with Craft MNL and my first time to attempt learning about tarot reading. I was very excited and though I was still recovering from my sprain, I made it a point to attend (I was half-way paid even before I got sprained).

It was a small group. There were only six of us attending the workshop led by Chinggay Labrador from @practical_magical for the tarot reading and by life coach Aurora Suarez from @yourheartcraftedlife for the journaling part. The workshop package included a brand new deck of Rider Waite tarot cards which made the deal and experience even sweeter!

We started by talking about intuition and how powerful of a tool it is. The workshop was not meant to make us really good at tarot reading right away and I think three hours is not enough for that. Instead, it helped us tap into our intuition to know what the card is telling based on the basic knowledge given to us about the card meanings.

For my Past-Present-Future reading attempt, I got the following cards: The Fool, Nine of Swords and Ten of Pentacles.

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Research says that The Fool indicates innocence and beginnings. It is also the card of unlimited potential. That is my past.

Nine of Swords means anxiety, despair, excessive worrying and fear of the future. That is my present.

For my future, I got Ten of Pentacles which indicates wealth, establishment, comfort, accomplishment… Okay, I got it. It’s the card of success. That sounds good, right?

So how can I relate to these cards? I recently moved from an internal audit to an IT audit type of job. I am aiming for certifications that will help me get the tools that I need in order to achieve my goal of going into fraud examination that is somehow on the IT side of things. In order to achieve those certifications, I must have IT audit experience. Thus, I arrived at my decision for a career change.

In December of 2017, I was ‘The Fool.” I was someone who was embarking on a new journey in my career life and venturing into my third field of audit. I had no strong background in IT general controls but I do have a good background when it came to risk identification and assessment. The more technical stuff, they expect me to learn and master as I go along.

This leads me to my current situation. My line manager is leaving. Hence, as his deputy, I have to take on most of the tasks of his role once he is gone. I do worry because I am only just getting the hang of my new work and now, I have to take on more tasks too. And that of a more senior officer!

Despite that, I welcome it as an opportunity to improve myself and be better in my work. It’s an experience that will surely make a better professional out of me. I just could not help but overthink stuff sometimes. At least our senior team manager is very supportive and he assured me that he will guide me along the way until they find a replacement for my line manager.

This makes it sound like my future card reading is a sign that if I worked hard enough, I will achieve what I want. The pentacles represent the element of earth though so I have to make sure I stay grounded and humble. Instead of seeing obstacles here and there, I am now seeing lots of open doors–opportunities to prove myself. I just need to work really hard at it and not give up when I am having difficulty already. No pain, no gain.

I am not in a hurry to take those certifications. I want to build a solid foundation first by really knowing my job well. At least the card reading gives me a boost of confidence.

I know, I know. The cards cannot determine my destiny because it is something I should work hard for. I just use it somehow as a motivation to do even better. That being said, I should work on my motivation board already.

After learning about tarot, I learned more about self-care and how journaling can help me be more in touch with myself. I learned how to get my thoughts to flow and turn into ink on paper. It was not about the usual dear-diary writing. Instead, it was something deeper than that.

I fell in love with that notebook and card that they gave to us during the workshop because the messages written on them were exactly what I needed to hear. What’s even more amazing is that the supplier of the cards and notebooks, Micah, joined us in our activity! IMG_6030

For more of these cute paper products that are filled with positivity and inspiring messages, visit Micah’s Eden Street website. I am sure you will love her products!

Also, Eden Street is on a summer-long sale to celebrate its second anniversary! Go check out her products right now!

In a world of competing demands for our attention and focus, it’s sometimes difficulty to listen to ourselves and to know how exactly we are feeling. Journaling, I believe, helps a lot in that aspect as it is something very personal and requires us to be honest with ourselves in order to have something to write about. It’s like thinking out loud but our voice is the paper and our mouth, the pen.

I tremendously enjoyed this workshop and hope to learn more about tarot reading. I have uncovered my sister’s old tarot cards and books that she used when she was also into learning this art way back when we were teenagers. I plan to read the books and practice reading the cards. I do not want to make a career out of it though. I want to do it for fun.

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My sister’s old tarot cards and reading materials.

28946985_605049846500859_8452938138205940165_oI also started journaling already, using the pens I have hoarded over the years but have not used since I got them. My golly! I am such a pen hoarder! In the picture is just a quarter of the pens I have all in all. I wonder from whom I inherited this habit…

Do you like tarot readings? Have you tried them and have they worked for you? I still believe we create our own destiny but, these are fun to do from time to time, right?

Just Baked: 3 Ingredients Coconut Cookies

The comment section sometimes contains more information than the actual post.

A friend at work recently tried going vegan for a day (and is planning to transition to being full vegan). I was then curious about vegan recipes and I chanced upon a double coconut cookie recipe from Gemma Stafford’s Bigger Bolder Baking blog.

I was so excited to make the cookies seeing how all the ingredients listed on her recipe were available in my place. Since they were very cheap to buy, I decided to double the recipe!

While my oven was pre-heating, I went on to making my cookie “dough.”

4 cups shredded coconut

1/2 cup coconut milk

4 tbsps granulated sugar

I mixed the ingredients to form sort of a dough and spooned them on my baking sheet.

They looked so lovely and so white! I could not wait to try them after they have baked for 15 to 20 minutes at 180°C.

Unfortunately, no matter how much longer I bake them (I even got to 30 minutes), only the tops seemed cooked and the inside remained still a little moist. They also crumbled so much and a little touch makes them fall apart. Only 20 of the 30 cookies I baked were able to make it to the cooling rack.

I have to say though that they are soooo yummy! Despite feeling bad at my failure, they made my taste buds happy.

I decided to go to the comments section of the recipes post to see what I did wrong. It was then that I realized that I should have read the comments first before trying the recipe out because that section contained useful tips on how to make the recipe work better and clarifications on the ingredients used.

I was surprised that a lot of people had trouble with this recipe too. I guess one of the main reasons is the confusion about the right kind of ingredients to use.

First was the sugar. By granulated sugar, I was sure that it was the regular sugar I was used to. Granulated = having granules. Granules = small sugar crystals. My eyes went wide when Gemma said granulated sugar in the US is called caster sugar in other places. Caster sugar in the Philippines is the almost, but not quite, powdery kind of sugar!

Next, for the coconut. It said shredded. I assumed it was fresh. I also got my coconut milk from the shredded coconut that I did not use for this cookie recipe. Unfortunately, Gemma was referring to desiccated coconut. My heart broke at this point. 💔

Despite my baking fail today, I learned a lot stuff. Next time, I will also check out the comment section first before getting on with the baking. Still, I hope ingredients listed in recipes will be clear to avoid confusion. A little more description won’t hurt, I am sure. 😊

Meanwhile, I shall have to find something else to do with those cookies. What might I turn them into? Hmmm… Any suggestions?

Productive Sunday!

I am thankful for activities to keep my mind and my hands (and feet too) busy. I am someone who needs to be doing something in order to keep my mind from being idle and wandering off to not-so-positive thoughts that only make me feel bad about myself.

It’s the third day since I sprained my ankle. There’s more swelling and pain every time I put weight on my foot but I have to be careful with how I position my foot when walking. I still cannot point and flex my foot so much because it still hurts a bit.

Still, nothing could stop me from being productive today. In the morning, I was able to make peppermint and charcoal soap and also blog about it (click here to read).

This afternoon, I crossed off another item from my list of cookies to try to bake. Snickerdoodles!

I will post an entry about it soon but let me say how thrilled I was that it turned out really delicious! And this is coming from someone who tends to look for flaws in her accomplishments!

And yes, my snickerdoodles look way too brown. That’s because I rolled my cookie dough in a mixture of cinnamon powder and dark brown sugar instead of white. Reason number 1: I love brown sugar better than white sugar. Reason number 2: I ran out of the white sugar.

I am currently using an ice pack on my foot because all the standing and walking somehow took a toll on it. Pain’s not as bad as it was last Thursday though. I hope to fully heal by next week because I have lots of stuff in my to-do list to accomplish!

Thanks to my mom and our companion, Joann, for assisting me in my projects today! I swear, they’re the most supportive people when it comes to my little projects at home.

Peppermint and Charcoal Soap

“There is a legend that if you go take shower and scream out loud “Mom” three times, a nice lady appears bringing the towel you forgot.” -Source unknown

As promised, I am back with another soapmaking project. This time, it’s peppermint and charcoal soap.

I decided to eye-ball my measurements again and trust my instincts. Since there will be no flower buds or teas going into this soap, I was not very wary about what the results might be.

To start, I chopped up my last bits of opaque white glycerin melt-and-pour soap base to get 1 & 1/2 cups of melted soap.

Before melting the soap, I took 1 tsp of shea butter and melted it in a glass measuring cup using the microwave. It was at this point that I realized my soap base melted quicker than the tiny amount of shea butter I put in. I had to wait for a couple minutes to put it back in the microwave to heat and melt further. I was afraid the glass measuring cup will not be able to take more of the heat and shatter inside if I did not stop every 30 seconds until the butter has completely melted.

Now on to the star of the soap…

Activated charcoal is said to be very good in helping remove impurities. I have also used a few charcoal soap bars and my skin always felt squeaky clean afterwards.

I dissolved 1 tsp of the activated charcoal in the shea butter before adding to my soap base that I melted after three 30-second bursts in the microwave. Most of the recipes I looked at called for 1 to 2 tbsps of charcoal for every 2 lbs of soap base so I felt like 1 tsp should already work for the amount of soap base I had.

I was not expecting my soap base to turn into an intense black color given that it was so opaquely white. If I had used clear glycerin or goat’s milk melt-and-pour base, I am sure it would have turned much more darker and closer to black.

Next, I added about 20 drops of peppermint essential oil, stopping when I reached my preferred level of the scent’s strength.

I love peppermint anything from tea to candies to peppermint mocha drinks. I also love it in bath products like the Peppermint Fresh Scalp Shampoo from SkinFood that my sister let me use when I stayed with her in Hong Kong.

I poured the mixture into two of my round silicone molds and was able to fill an equivalent of nine round soaps. Then I sprayed the tops with alcohol to try and get ride of air bubbles. Then I let the soaps cool and harden on their own.

I waited for two hours before popping them out and here they are!

Some of the charcoal powder refused to completely dissolve in the shea butter and sank at the bottom of the mold during the cooling process. Hence, those specks of carbon you can see on some of the soaps.

The soaps smelled so good and lathered up nicely. Despite the addition of shea butter, it is still advisable to follow up with moisturizer. My dermatologist always reminds me to moisturize even if it does not feel like a very exciting idea when you live in a country with tropical climate.

I still have a few melt-and-pour recipes to try but I am now very curious on how I can make the soap base myself. I just need to prepare all that I need to safely handle the use of lye. Also, I will need the patience in allowing the saponification process to take its course of a few weeks before being able to use the soap base safely. Guess I really have to save up for the Php 5,500 workshop to learn the tricks.

To read about my other soapmaking projects, click here.