For the Kitchen Impaired

So this weekend I decided to bake cookies instead of sleeping. You should know that I have never baked cookies by myself before, so I was half-excited and half-anxious. But I thought about it and said, if there was ever a perfect day to venture into the land of Cookiedom, it’s definitely today.

So I googled “Oatmeal Raisin Cookies” and found this recipe  that didn’t look too complicated. After all, I am a baby baker. I prepared all my ingredients and was about to begin when my older sister came out of the room and said, “What are you going to bake?” I said, “Oatmeal raisin cookies.” Wary of my lack of kitchen skills (and she has good reason to be), she said, “Make half instead.” I saw her rationale. You know, in case they turned out to be really terrible.

I was like, half? You mean….half everything? How am I supposed to half 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon?! So I googled “How to half the measurements of a recipe” and I found this really nifty site that provided accurate baking measurements in both standard and alternative units of measurement. It was so much easier to half the recipe by 50%!    I also used this awesome converter to make sure that my measurements were accurate. With these life-saving tools at hand, I began my baking adventure!

The ingredients! The lemons and onions aren’t counted!

Butter, sugar, pure vanilla extract, 1 egg, raisins, cinnamon, baking soda, all purpose flour and good ol’ fashioned rolled oats! For the original measurements, you can check out the recipe! If you want to know the measurements reduced by 50% I’ll let you do that math. Hahaha!

The dough!

 

Mmm!

 

So here’s the dough! I used an electric mixer for this. Doesn’t it look like it’s going to turn out well? Hehehe

First batch

The first batch to go into the oven! Now as I was forming these cookies, I was pretty impressed with myself. Looking good, looking good, no? No. Methinks I might have been a little too overconfident because little did I know (and I should have known! But again, in my defense, I am a baby baker!!!!) the cookies were going to expand and expand to look like this…

What happened?!

I MEAN, WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! They don’t even look like cookies! They look like…like…I don’t even know! So lesson learned, use a bigger tray and space the cookies out MORE! They didn’t taste too bad, though! In fact, they weren’t too sweet which I liked. AND they were pretty chewy, which was what I was going for. HOORAY! I guess the only thing keeping me from getting an A for a-ffort (haha) is aesthetic appeal.

Cookie bars?

I had to cut them up, of course. I mean they had to resemble cookies somehow. They kind of look like bars, really. Oatmeal raisin bars, anyone?

Second batch

So for the next batch, I tried to space the cookies out more. I couldn’t use a bigger tray because I was using a small oven, and I hadn’t heated up the bigger oven. But four cookies as opposed to six in one small tray should have more room to expand, right? Well…kind of. They were still pretty big and I burnt the edges but they didn’t turn out too badly either!

Finito!

Things I have learned:

1. USE A BIGGER TRAY, AND A BIGGER OVEN

2. Adjust oven heat in relation to the weather (it was pretty hot that day and the oven is strong, so maybe instead of 350 degrees I should have gone down to 310 degrees)

3. HEAT EXPANDS THINGS (this is quite embarrassing, really. I mean, I remember this from my elementary science lessons but I don’t know why this information didn’t register when I needed it to. Huhuhu)

For a first try, though, I think this was pretty okay! The taste was just what I was going for, and so was the texture. Although, it could have been more chewy. Now I can try this recipe again with the appropriate adjustments!!!! 😀

Kitchen skills +1

Also, one of the things I’ve come to LIKE making is ciabatta and poached eggs. It’s so easy to make (though the ciabatta takes about 2 days to bake), and SO YUMMY too! I also sprinkled paprika, kosher salt, and pepper to add more flavor! Mmmmm!

My specialty!

 

Mmmm!

Kitchen skills +1

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My New Musical Obsession

Thank you to The Words trailer for introducing me to Demons by Imagine Dragons! Loved the song so much that I looked for more of their stuff. I think Imagine Dragons and I were meant to fall in love because I was able to find the whole album!

Definitely in love with this band. I’m currently working on a ukuelele version of the track Demons! Wait for it 😉

In the meantime, soundtrip to IMAGINE DRAGONS!

Last Week in Photos

I decided to do the “last week in photos” type of post again because I feel that photos are able to convey, quite adequately, what my words cannot.

(Or maybe I’m too lazy to type it all down, but I’ll never admit to that.)

I love fall colors!

It’s officially fall! I’ve been bundling up and loving it! I seem to be agreeing with the fall weather. I don’t find it too cold, surprisingly. At night though, that’s what the temperature really drops but I don’t need to worry because I’m all warm and toasty inside the house. This weather reminds me of when I was a kid. We used to set the airconditioning at the coldest temp. I’d wake up early in the morning, shivering, and would stay in the bathroom to warm up. But strangely, I liked it. There’s just something about being cold and warm at the same time that appeals to me. Like…the tips of your ears and nose feeling cold, but feeling all toasty because you’re wrapped in a thick, comfortable blanket. Maybe it’s a snuggle-friendly weather sort of thing. Kind of like how rain felt to me, back at home (it only ever drizzles over here, not the whole shebang of rain we have over there).

Spasso’s yummy selections
My spot at Spasso that I never fail to occupy

So remember that delicioso breakfast I showed you in the last post? (I know, I know! I am turning into one of those instagram-your-food fanatics. The only difference is, I don’t have instagram) I figured I’d show you my regular hang out on weekdays. This, my good people, is Spasso. I adore Spasso and have spent every day of the last month here. I’ve always wanted to have a local hangout, someplace that feels like it’s my second home. A place where I can just do my thing, you know? It took me a while to find a place that I feel utterly comfortable in, but it was worth the wait. I love Spasso because it gives off an understated but quirky vibe. The place is not pretentious at all. When you enter, it’s just so chill and welcoming. I love the mismatched decor (and not in a Cafe Juanita I-meant-to-mismatch-it sort of way. It’s like we’ll throw whatever furniture we have together because that’s all we’ve got but hey it seems to be working out!) , high ceiling and natural light. Plus the music is A+. Sometimes it’s world music, or Latin, or indie, or whatever. But whatever Spasso has on seems to be agreeing with my musical tastes. The coffee is comforting, and the food is good. I think I’ve mentioned comforting a number of times already but that’s exactly how this place makes you feel! I’ve studied in here, read books, slept (that cabinet beside my table makes for a great headrest), applied my makeup while drinking my Cafe Mochabianca (I know, I have completely violated the rules of etiquette by not applying my makeup in the bathroom but what can I say? I’m just too comfortable here already!) and have baptized my spot with its first heart-to-heart conversation moment with one of my best friends, Kevin, who also recently just moved here.

Across from my spot

Across from my spot is this other spot that actually doesn’t get filled up very often. Shame, it’s a nice spot. I guess I might bring a group of friends over for coffee and good conversation one day.

THE spot

Now this…this is the creme de la creme of Spasso’s sought-after spots. 3 charming elderly gentlemen who have been coming to Spasso for years have made it a game to see who gets this spot first. One time, they each arrived just a little after the other. One was already sitting down sipping his coffee and reading the paper when the other one came in and  said, “Oh you’re early!” The gentleman sitting down said, “I thought you were going to get it today!” just then, the third gentleman arrived and said, “Looks like I’m late today!” Hahaha. They are so cute. One of them sat beside my spot since the other 2 filled this spot up, and asked me, “Are you getting to be a regular here?” I said, “I think I just might. What about you?” he said, “It’s like my second home!” Today, that same gentleman was there, at the spot. He saw me arrive and said, “Looks like you get to hang out more here today!” (I haven’t kept my regular schedule since last week because I’ve been waking up late) to which I replied, “I know! It turns out I didn’t have to go in to volunteer today cause there was no school. Looks like you got the spot all to yourself!” he said, “I’m about to head out, it’s all yours.” I like my spot just fine though, cause I’m the only one who ever occupies it so it’s all mine. I told him this. He put his hands up in the air in a gesture of, like, I don’t know surrender maybe? He laughed and went on his way. Nice man.

Kevin’s US army kit!

Here’s Kevin, showing off his US army kit. That’s right! One of my best friends is GOING TO THE ARMY. It’s so surreal, but I’m so excited for him (yeah, this was the heart-to-heart I mentioned earlier). It’s so nice to talk about your future plans, and all the new things you’re experiencing and learning about with someone who’s going through more or less the same thing, but who is able to provide you with their own perspective. Kevin leaves for the army about the same time I leave for Grad School. He’ll be training in South Carolina and I’ll be in L.A. but it’s so exciting to meet up after a few months (or years) and talk about everything that’s happened! Lately, my conversations with friends have been of this nature and it’s just so uplifting! We’re all shaping our lives and so far, it’s looking good!

Kevin’s official “reserves” shirt (I think)

You can tell how much he’s loving it. Hahaha! He was hesitant at first, but so far it’s looking like the best decision he’s made since he got here! I’m wishing him all the best!

This church never fails to make my mornings
It’s always something funnier each day

This Presbyterian church is doing it right. HAHAHA!

Waiting for the train

I prefer open-air train stations. I find the underground ones so stuffy and claustrophobic!

African symbols

Today was pretty funny. So I went to Peralta for my volunteer work and it turned out that there was no school! So Ms. Castelo, the principal, let me join an art workshop on African symbolic textiles that the teachers were having. I didn’t get to the hear whole lecture, but I did gather that these symbols represent values that you’d like to live out. You put these values onto a cloth and wear it as a reminder to live them out.  That’s my piece of cloth up there!

Free fairy house!!!
What it looks like inside

Saw this today too, on the street, on the way back from Peralta. Look at that! It even has a little basket! Awwwww! I wonder if any fairies moved in.

My Berkeley School Volunteer ID

This arrived in the mail a few days ago. I don’t really wear it though, cause I’ve been volunteering for a while, so the teachers and kids know my name already. But it’s pretty cool to have this anyway! You’ll notice Peralta elementary isn’t on there. It’s because Peralta, while in the same area as these schools, belongs to the Oakland Unified School District.

Cape Gooseberries

This is probably the prettiest fruit I’ve ever seen. They look and smell great, but I don’t care much for the taste. So, the fruit is encased in a flower-like structure that’s sort of thin. You just peel it off to reveal a perfectly round, bright yellow/orange berry!

Isn’t it so pretty?!
Surprise!

My Kuya says that they’re good on cakes, maybe as a sauce or something. I don’t know, this isn’t a fruit I’ve seen before. If you have any ideas as to what I can make with this fruit, or at least eat it with, do tell me!

So that’s it for now! Happy Friday everyone!

The Last 2 Weeks in Photos

Full tank for the Mazda 3!

This was during one of my behind-the-wheel practices. My older sister’s mom was the one who went with me to practice that day, and she decided to take a photo of me gassing up the car. Hahaha! I really want to pass my 3rd driving test!!! I can’t bear the thought of having to take the written exam and going through the entire process all over again. Blagh. And I want to be able to drive myself places na rin so I don’t have to keep waking up my kuya or ate so I can get around! Huhuhu!

Shopping at Berkeley Bowl

It feels pretty good to make your own list of groceries, tick the items off as you buy them, and load them in the car. It feels even better turning your groceries into dishes for the week! Again, my older sister’s mom felt like it was a good photo op.

Sunday Brunch at Mimi’s, Hayward

I like their brunch menu. The servings are pretty filling, but not too overwhelming. Well…except maybe their hot chocolate. That cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream was too much for me to handle!

Hot Chocolate topped with a monster mound of Whipped Cream

Actually, now that I think about it, the hot chocolate at Millbrae Pancake House was a lot bigger than this with a huge mountain of whipped cream. I swear, it took me minutes before I got to taste the hot chocolate.

Yum!

I did manage to drink almost half of the hot chocolate. I tried my best to finish it but it was just too much. If my friend Russell was with me, I know he wouldn’t let the hot chocolate go to waste!

Sunday Breakfast Crepes
One of my favorite things to make. It’s tasty, versatile, and super easy!

My breakfast crepes are getting better!!! This batch was a little too thick to be considered crepes, though. They were more of pancakes. But the texture, consistency, and taste are definitely improving! I’ve got to work on making sure the crepes don’t turn out too thick!

While walking to Spasso Coffeehouse, I saw this!
I saw this little note stuck to the bus stop sign. Wise words to start the day with!

Interestingly, I saw this post-it while I was waiting for the bus to come, mulling over what makes me happy. Coincidence? I think not!

A pair of real estate magazines

Another funny thing: these were below the note at the same bus stop!!!! Just the day before, I was thinking about where I wanted to rent an apartment in the future! I haven’t decided yet…L.A., San Francisco, Berkeley…? The possibilities are endless!

A healthy breakfast!

This is my usual breakfast (I’m kilig that I can say, “the usual” and the barista knows what to give me. I’ve always wanted to do that!) at Spasso Coffee Shop during weekdays. 3 runny eggs and whole wheat toast. The drink changes for variety. I had Ginger Orange tea that day because I had a sore throat. Rezas, the barista, was nice enough to give me lemon slices and honey to put in my tea to alleviate the sore throat. He told me that half of the people at the coffee shop had sore throats. I think it might be because of the weather, since it’s transitioning to fall and all. He gave me a fresh slice of ginger for my second cup of tea. That really helped.

It’s looking like fall!!!

I am SUPER excited for fall because I can bundle up in all my scarves and shawls! Plus I bought this fabulous pea coat that was marked down to $23 from $84!!! It’s so warm and cute, such a steal! Not to mention I absolutely love fall colors! Time to buy a new pair of boots! I’m thinking since I already have a black pair, I might go for a warm brown tone one in suede.

New Look! New Post!

Okay, so I realized that I’m beginning to slip back into the bad habit of procrastination. Tsk. Never a good thing. So I decided HEY I think I’m going to give my blog a new look because I think the old one was a little too…boring. This new look is making me ganado again. Hahahaha!

A couple of important things I’ve been putting off:

  1. Schedule my 3rd driving test. I’m still reeling from the unfairness of it all. That 2nd tester in Fremont was definitely having a bad day and decided to take it out on me. My 3rd and (hopefully!!!) last behind-the-wheel test will be in Hayward FOR SURE. The testers there are much more professional and courteous. 
  2. Have my transcripts Evaluated. Well, it’s $140.00 plus mailing fees and other misc, fees so that’s a pretty big expense. I have until March to get this done anyway. In my defense though, I’ve started the application already.
  3. CBEST. Ahhhhh. The California Basic Educational Skills Test. The test that I must pass to become eligible to teach in California. While I have gotten past the reading and math reviewers and completed some practice tests, maybe the reason as to why I’m putting this off is because I want a break from exams. I mean, I kind of just got out of college so it would be nice to not have to stress over another exam for a while. But alas poor Yorik (what) I have to take the exam by November in case I don’t get a good score in which I’ll have to take the exam again. Hay.
  4. Schedule a meeting with a financial consultant. I love that Provident offers this free service! I know I’m pretty young and not earning that much yet, but I’d like to get a head start on investment. It really is never too early to start, I believe.
  5. Post in this blog. I have a good reason for this. I’ve been really busy with my volunteer work and my regular job. My free time is spent recharging so I haven’t had much energy to do anything besides that. But I also realized that I have A LOT of kwento so I might as well get down to it and update this blog! Hahaha. The reason I started this blog was to keep in touch with people anyway, and how can I keep in touch if I’m sleeping all the time? Hahahaha!

Things that I’m not putting off:

SAVING FOR MY CAR! When my dad first shocked me by saying, “Oh I’m not giving you a car anymore. You’re going to have to buy it yourself.” I felt cheated. But now, I’m really excited to buy my FIRST car ever with my hard-earned money by the end of this year! I don’t care if it’s a 2nd hand starter car, it’s always better when it’s earned! And I love the idea of starting from the bottom and working your way to the top! I remember cringing at the thought of starting from scratch in the United States. I was like, ughhhh I’m going to have to start all over again. Hassle.

But now?

Now I’m loving it and I’ll tell you why.

  1. New faces, New places. I love meeting new people and exploring new places. There’s just so much to learn from a country with so much diversity. Like for example, each city has its own culture and I love experiencing the differences in every city and its locals
  2. Challenges, experiences, and lessons that I probably would not have been exposed to had I stayed in the Philippines. Every adult I meet here always tells me that I’ve “come here at the best time of my life”. The first few times I was like okaaaay? But now I get what they mean. At this point in time, I am beginning to shape and direct my life. There are so many opportunities available to me, and I have the energy and time to invest in them (should I choose to). In every opportunity there is growth. I feel so alive, and empowered, and passionate. What I have to remember though, is to stay focused and make good decisions because what I do today will affect my tomorrow.
  3. It’s an Eye-Opener. I’m beginning to understand more about so many aspects of myself, people, society, spirituality, the world. Everyday there’s a question to be answered, or an occurrence to be mulled over, or something. It’s very stimulating, in a good way.

Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not saying it’s loads better over here than it is in my country. All I’m saying is, new places offer new experiences. It’s different. I’ve grown so much in the Philippines and now, I’m growing over here. It’s great, and I’m thankful for it now. I’m sure I’ll be thankful for it later on too. I’m going to make the most of my time here. It’s a good feeling, actually, starting over. It’s exciting to see how I’ll make something of myself here, what I can do. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. Isn’t it funny how things work out? 🙂

Has my literary muse returned at last?!

Forces of Memory

Visions of you, yet again
Rise, as do bubbles
Emerge from murky depths
And suddenly, break into the surface
Shatter, as does glass
When a fist, with all its might
Charges into, and breaks free
The memories I’ve worked so hard
To imprison–
Now, they dance among shards

Hmmmmm. So this is me trying out my literary abilities after such a long time of neglect. This came to me about 30 minutes ago while I was creating a new character on memegenerator.net