Friday, August 30, 2013

5 Things To Do in the First 5 Years of Marriage

Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. Jun. Jul. Aug. 

Nine months. That’s how long Rolly and I have been happily married, in fact, we’re turning 10 months in a week’s time. :) We are very new in this husband-and-wife thing, so it’s nice to find helpful articles that give pieces of advice to newlyweds like us. Let me share with you one that I found on http://davewillis.org. The pink text below was copied from the site verbatim.

1. Find some good “Couple Friends”

"If you only have “his” and “her” friends and you spend social time apart from each other and always hanging with the girls or the guys, you’re missing a great opportunity to grow in your relationship with your spouse while also growing in friendships with other couples."

grabbed from Google Images

Hmm. Do Rolly and I have couple friends? Yes. But we rarely hang out, and majority of our friends are still single. However, we make it a point that my friends also become his friends and vice versa. We would always include each other in the other’s circles. Perhaps when these single friends tie the knot, then we’ll have lots of couple friends already. :)


2. Make your health a priority

"When I got married, I got kind of fat. I temporarily lost all motivation to eat right or to exercise and I dug a hole for myself that I had to work hard to correct. I’ve seen a lot of folks abandon their health early in their marriage and it can create a lot of negative effects on all aspects of your life and your marriage down the road. Find a physical activity that you enjoy doing together and then you’ll get exercise and quality time all at once."

grabbed from Google Images

Oh no. This is something we have to work on! I am the I’d-rather-starve-myself-than-exercise type when it comes to losing weight. I don’t like to walk, I don’t like getting sweaty and malagkit! But hubby is my complete opposite. He does push-ups and crunches every morning. He loves running and boxing. He even has this device that measures his footsteps everyday! After I sent him the link to the article on davewillis.org, this is the one item that he brought up to me. We gotta exercise together! Hahaha. Okaaaay. We agreed to play badminton the week after next and we’ll make it a regular thing. :)

3. Develop a financial plan

"We started off flat broke so we figured we didn’t really have a need to budget, but our neglect of financial planning early on led to a lot of debt and the debt created stress and that stress put an unnecessary strain on our marriage. We’ve worked hard to get out of debt and it’s been one of the best things we’ve ever done for our relationship, but it would have been even better to not make those financial mistakes in the first place!"

grabbed from Google Images

I’m pleased to say that we may not have a lot of money in the bank, but at least we are not flat broke. Between the two of us, it’s me who takes care of all the budgeting and financial planning, and I think I’m doing a good job so far. :) Rolly gives me all his earnings every month, and together with my income, I carefully plan our expenses and savings using my trusty excel template. So far, we’re doing okay in this aspect. :)

4. Find a good church

"Faith is the foundation that sustains a lifelong marriage. Ashley and I made a commitment to get connected into a church right away and it’s probably the single best decision we made. We volunteered together in a youth ministry, made some wonderful friends and grew in our understanding of how beautiful marriage and life can be when you do it God’s way."

grabbed from Google Images

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a God-fearing man who shares the same religious beliefs and values as mine. Together, we go to church every Sunday and if there’s time, we attend The Feast in Alabang on Saturdays. Every night before we close our eyes, we pray together (and aloud). Rolly always leads the prayer. There are times when I would forget, but Rolly never fails to remember. :) 

5. Keep dating each other

"Never stop dating just because you’re married! Continue to create new memories and adventures together. Keep discovering new things about each other. Having a consistent “Date Night” is one of the biggest reasons our marriage is so strong today."

grabbed from Google Images
This is pretty easy! :) Our dates now that we’re married may not be as expensive as our boyfriend-girlfriend dates, but at least we still find time to just enjoy one another. 


********

We have heard time and again that being married takes a lot of hard work. You don’t just fall in love and get married and live happily ever after. There is no such thing in the real world. There’ll be bumps along the way, rough roads and whatnots. But what’s important is that the two of you, husband and wife, together, are committed to making the sparks last. For newlyweds like us, for sure, the embers of love are still huge and burning. Let’s challenge ourselves to keep it this way, shall we?   And for starters, why don’t we try to observe the tips above? Game face on! :)




Cheers,



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Red Velvet Goodness

Emma Stone

Emma Stone's statement is no surprise.  Life is too short to pass up on that red velvet goodness waiting to be devoured. That delicious and distinctive flavor that is not quite chocolate and not quite plain vanilla is unquestionably irresistible!

This afternoon, I finally gave in and  made my dreams come true (I mean this literally, for I've been dreaming about red velvet the past week)! :)

Deep red! :)  I used food coloring by McCormick.
The batter looked like a mess on the liners, I knooow.  It's very thick and transferring it to the pan was a challenge.  Because I do not have a scooper yet, I just made use of a couple of spoons!  It took me quite some time to finish and my back ached. =P

Straight from the oven!  They domed but cracked. =P
Cooling 'em up! :)


And what's the perfect topping for a red velvet?
CREAM CHEEEEEEESE! 


Finished goodies! :)

I am very proud of my first ever red velvet cuppies, especially since the cream cheese turned out to be really good this time.  I tried making that once before but it was too runny, but now I found a recipe that can finally hold shape!  Cream cheese goodness at its best. #LoveYourOwn! ;)

I wonder what cupcake flavor I'll try next time. Any ideas? :)


A happy baker,


The Perfect Dome

I am a super newbie at baking.  As a matter of fact, I have only baked three cakes and four batches of cupcakes after I took baking classes in June.  But there's one thing I'm proud of --- I've already made a perfect cuppy dome! 


When I started making cupcakes, getting that dome shape was a mystery.  My cupcakes always looked flat and lonely, or they would dome right after I took them out of the oven but would deflate eventually.  But now I already know the "secret" after scouring the web for tips and tricks!  

Bake the cupcakes at 400 degrees F initially, 
then lower it down to 350 degrees  after five minutes 
and for the rest of the baking time.

And that's it!  Hehe.  Ang simple lang pala ng solusyon. :)  But the thing is, no cupcake recipe would tell you that.  Glad there's a bunch of ingenious bakers out there who discovered and shared this after years of experience.  This is not 100% guaranteed though, the practice hasn't been tested for every single recipe on the planet.  What's sure is that it works for most cuppy recipes, and that's enough for me. :)



Cheers,


Friday, August 23, 2013

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes


After my relatively successful attempt at vanilla cupcakes, I just couldn’t wait but try my hands at chocolate! And how do we want our choco cuppies? Moist, always!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
¾ cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 egg
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup boiling water

Directions:

1. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
4. Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin).
5. Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. Since the batter is thin, I used my measuring cup with a pour spot so it’s easier to transfer.


6. Bake cupcakes for approximately 18-22 minutes.
Fresh from the oven! :)

7. Cool completely on wire rack.
I used my purple liners for this batch. :)

I tried making meringue frosting for the cuppies, but boy was it a mess, like all other eggwhite-based icings I did in the past. :( Guess what came to the rescue?  My mallows and candy sprinkles! Good thing I had them on hand.



Ta-daaaah!  There goes my moist chocolate cuppies! :)  They're yummy!   Sabi ko at ni hubby!  Haha. =P Hmm... I wonder what I'll do next.  Will practice making frosting, perhaps? :)


Cheers,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vanilla on Vanilla


For quite some time now, I have been obsessing about cupcake baking.  The truth is, I took basic cake baking classes with the end goal of learning how to make these cute little cuppies with pretty frosting on top! :)  Weeks ago, I tried making some but the icing was a failure. I tried again last weekend, and I finally did it! These are vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.  Sweet!




If you're interested about what recipe I used, this was it:

FOR THE CUPCAKES:
Source: http://www.glorioustreats.com

Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 cups cake flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil, beat.
4. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined. Scrap down the side of the bowl.
5.  The batter will be thin. Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners. Fill liners about 2/3 full.
6.  Bake cupcakes in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes.
7.  Cool in pan for 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.


FOR THE FROSTING:
Source: http://www.browneyedbaker.com

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Procedure:
1.  Using the mixer's wire whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
2.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar.  Once all sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated.  Whip until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Then it's done! :)  When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost away using your favorite decorating tip (I used a big French piping tip here.) :)

*******

Baking these vanilla on vanilla cupcakes is actually pretty easy, you just to have the right tools and the right attitude (read: PATIENCE). I am no expert yet and I'm sure I'm gonna fail again in some other recipe I would try next time, but that's fine.  As C.S. Lewis said, failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.  And as long as I'm on this road, I'll keep on going. ;)

Up next: chocolate cuppies!



Cheers,


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Baked Birthday Goodies

Obviously, this one's a mess! Hehe. This is a sponge cake with foam icing topped with nutella frosting.
There were so many things that went wrong as I was baking this.
Won't enumerate anymore. =/ =P
Fudge brownies with semi-melted marshmallow toppings.
Looks gay, I know. Hehe. But it tasted really good! :)
Well, at least that's what my friends told me. =P
My award-winning mango butterscotch! =P
Didn't get to taste enough of this though
'coz it was wiped out by ze friends so quickly.

I baked these three when I invited my friends over last month in celebration of my and Xylem's (a friend) birthday.  It was the first time ever that I let them taste anything from my oven, and gladly, I got their thumbs up, despite some baking mishaps that I went through.  Hehe.  Happy happy! :)


Cheers,


The Joys of Instagram! :)

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