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Saturday, May 31, 2014

BAKING: super-moist chocolate cake

I'm a sucker for chocolate cake and brownies, and I'm too cheapskate to buy those expensive ones which might potentially not use ingredients that I like (e.g. I hate raisins). And the internet is a wonderful place where you can find practically everything!

Chocolate cakes are a little tricky, because if you use cheap chocolate and/or cocoa, the end result could be a little icky. The beauty of this cake that it's dead easy, super deliciously fluffy and moist, and it's pretty when it's cracked on the surface!

The cake will be dark, but oh-so-delicious!
I got the original recipe on from a random Google search, and I didn't believe the recipe at first, then I read the comments and reviews - there wasn't ONE bad experience, and attempts at substitutes were successful in general.

Magic chocolate cake ingredients that I altered (measurements in imperial):

  • 2 cups all-purpose superfine flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (perhaps you could substitute with 1 cup granulated and 1 cup brown)
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup melted salted butter (the original called for 1 tsp of salt and 1 cup of oil, but I excluded that because I already used salted butter here)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • approx. 100g mini chocolate chips dusted with flour

Oven is preheated to 350"F (approx. 180"C), and prepare your pans. I used 3 medium-sized non-stick loaf pans, but any pan should do. Grease and line with baking paper or parchment, leaving two ends longer than the pan itself to make it easier to remove later.

I sifted the powders together first before whisking in the sugar (sifting helps with the soft and fluffy texture), then making a well in the center before adding the wet ingredients. With the aid of a sturdy whisk, mix everything together until just combined.

If you wanted to add anything extra to the batter (i.e. nuts, chocolate chips, etc.), I'd suggest just sprinkling them over the top, because the batter will be thin and other solids you put in will sink to the bottom of the cake.

Bake for approx. 30-35 minutes, checking the cake by inserting a knife/skewer in the center of the cake - there should be no wet batter. To prevent the cake from shrinking, bang the cakes in the pans on a counter-top a few times, then let cool completely before serving.

The result were delicious, fluffy, and moist chocolate cakes (with the melted chocolate chips plastered to the bottoms of the pans) that were awesome at room temperature, but even more awesome when left in the fridge for a few hours or overnight - the texture of the cake becomes harder, giving a decadent melt-in-the-mouth sensation!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rant: English

It's not like we never went for English classes in school. I'm Chinese-educated, but my English didn't suffer, and neither did my Chinese.

From primary school all the way into university, we're taught BASIC GRAMMAR. Past tense. Present tense. Future tense. Nouns. Adjectives. Verbs. All that bullshit. Every single year it's almost the same goddamn thing, and yet somehow, people still manage to mess up.

Not using the language on a daily basis is not an excuse. You read, don't you? You listen to music, don't you? You watch movies, don't you? You can't bloody rely on subtitles and lyric translations for the rest of your life.

It appalls me how so many people can still manage to confuse singular and plural nouns. While I can understand it and accept it in day to day speech, it makes me wanna claw at my scalp when this happens in academic writing and professional presentations.

I mean, really? Don't you take pride in how you present yourself? Even if your pronunciation is off, your grammar plays a big role in giving a good impression. I wouldn't consider someone with bad language as a professional.

For young children, fine. They're still young and learning, they can be corrected and taught. C'mon. You've been alive and in touch with the language for over two decades. For the sake of your own future, please? It's embarrassing and unprofessional.

It doesn't matter how good you are in another language - if you fail in another language, especially in a franca lingua, you fail anyway.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't be as stupid as I was

I wouldn't blame my upbringing - my mother brought us up to be self-respectful, self-protecting, and dignified. However, I was always the rebellious one in the family - I would do things, and almost deliberately give myself away for attention.

In other words, I developed into attention whore, since the tender young age of 6 or 7.

Anyone who gave me more than a day's attention was my friend. Any boy who paid even the slightest sliver of attention to me was in love with me. My naivety had me thinking that I made the world revolve around me, which was why growing up and realizing that wasn't the case had be scrambling to have my sense of secure attention back.

With all this scrambling, I lost my sense of self-respect - as long as I was willing, any guy could touch me. And this is the worst mistake I've made in my two decades of existence.

During those moments, you might tell yourself: "I'm still young, so I have my rights to explore". Well, explore away, but as cliche as this might sound - save your body for your future husband.

Drunkenly kissing a stranger never crossed my mind twice. Flirting with a guy who probably just wanted to get laid was commonplace. The surprising thing was that I thought this was something so "glamorous", something so bad-ass that none of my friends did the same.

I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, and most of these times was only when I realized that it was too late. I was so into flirting that I failed to notice all the dead giveaways that told me "all he wants is to hookup!" I kept thinking that if I gave them what they want, they would reciprocate. 

No. They won't. They'll take what you give them, and that's it.

Some may take the time to guilt-trip you into thinking that you deserved it, and you should give more to them. Don't be the fool that I was.

I came to the dead-end, where all I knew was how to please a man in the bedroom. All I knew was to change myself to conform and satisfy everyone. While I've said before that conformity is unavoidable, don't lower yourself to the point that that's all you know how to do. And NEVER let yourself be an object for the men who don't know how to appreciate your affection.

You're young, beautiful, pure - sex is something that you have an entire lifetime more to enjoy. No, you don't have to learn all the tricks of the trade now - when you meet the man who really loves you for who you are, he wouldn't mind if you didn't know how to act like the women in porn movies. The man who truly loves you wants YOU, not the sex.

This isn't to tell you to lock yourself away from a tower - get out to know people, socialize, but draw the line there. No one-night-stand is worth hurting the one you love. No poisonous relationship is worth the damage you would do to your future.

The one who loves you has to accept everything you are, yes; but that doesn't make it hurt any less. Having to deal with your recurring past haunts the both of you, especially when all the "relationships" you had were blurred lines.

Don't feel like you need to be "out there" with guys - find yourself, ignore all the taunts, ignore all the pressure that you feel to get a boyfriend, and just be comfortable with yourself. Spare yourself and your future partner the pain of dealing with a complicated past.

You and your body are priceless - there's no one else out there who's as unique as you are, who's as special as you are. It isn't your fault that others can't appreciate who you are, so move on from them, and ignore their attempts to try to change you. Love you and your body, as you would love the one who would give you everything.

Learn to love. Learn to nurture. Learn to be self-loving, so that the past can never hurt your future.

Friday, May 9, 2014

MAKE-UP: Gothic Seduction

I've been planning to do something over-the-top (for me) for some time now, and a friend requested a dark lip look. So here it is. It's pretty much just dark smokey eyes with dark plum lips.

Note that the photo was heavily edited using a combination of Meitu Pic and PhotoGrid. The colors are pretty much the same, just tinted with a little sepia.

TIP: winged / cat-eye eyeliner really helps in adjusting the shape of your eye shadow.

Potion ingredients:

EYES (shadows refer to the 120 palette available on the right bar)
  • shu uemura Creme Eye Shadow in Beige [applied as eye primer]
  • Artistry shadow in Sand [applied as a wash from lash line up to brow bone]
  • #46 (shimmery pink) [applied lightly on entire lids]
  • #47 (shimmery red) [applied to inner third of lids]
  • #38 (hot pink) [applied liberally to outer corner]
  • #8 (shimmery gunmetal) [applied in a cut crease shape on the outer corners, leaving a bit of pink to show]
  • Artistry shadow in Ash Black [applied over #8 to intensify the color]
  • Maybelline Hyper Sharp Eyeliner [applied in a winged / cat-eye shape]
  • Elianto Ultra-Define Pencil Eyeliner in Twilight Black [upper and lower waterlines]
  • MaxFactor False Lash Effect mascara
  • 1 set of lengthening lashes + 1 set demi lashes [layered for a fuller look]
BROWS (blended with a spoolie brush)
  • #29 (dark pinkish purple) [to tint the entire brow]
  • #30 (deep purple) [to darken]
  • Vaseline [to moisten]
  • Avon Ultra Color Rich Lipstick in U250 Cherry Jubilee (deep wine) [applied liberally, blotted, then reapplied for color longevity]
  • Artistry shadow in Ash Black [gently patted on top of lipstick to set, mattify, and darken]
  • Kate Concealer for Pores [skin primer]
  • Maybelline ClearSmooth Aqua Gel Foundation in 12 Natural [applied in buffing motions with a blush brush]
  • Callas Finishing Touch Loose Powder [applied lightly to set]
  • Artistry shadow in Basic Beige [to contour nose, cheeks, and jawbone]
  • Artistry shadow in Java [to intensify cheek contour]

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Time to grow up

You've had your candy
You've had your fun
Also had your share of falls and scrapes
As well as pains and tears

All will continue on in life
They won't be as simple
They won't be as small
They won't be something you can solve with a bandage

You complained about life
Your family
Your friends
Your love
Satisfaction didn't seem to settle anywhere

Pointing the finger is a child-like thing
Skipping homework is the habit of a school child
Leaving things undone is the act of a bum

Two decades down the road
Things have changed
The teenage years are behind you
The past should remain where it is

Learn from the mistakes you made
Remember the lessons left behind by the scars
Never cry again for people who never gave back
Turn your back on those who never saw the light in you
Embrace and appreciate what's before your eyes

Do not become those who hurt you
Be stronger than they are
Be the person they couldn't be

Be strong
And above all
Be true to yourself

The words of others are the thoughts of others
Advice should be taken
Opinions considered
But the words of those who don't matter...
They are people who don't matter

Love those who love you
Not for the mask you put on for them
But those who embrace even the worst of you
Cherish those who give you their time

Make your decisions with thought and wisdom
Make them with the people you love in mind
It's time
Clean up your own messes
And do things like the mature person you think you are