Sunday, June 30, 2013

Food: Buttermilk Cake

I've been in the mood to just bake and cook lately. I had some left over buttermilk from last week when I made brown velvet cupcakes (red velvet without the food colouring...same great taste!). I didn't want to have it go to waste, so I tried to search for other recipes to use it up. I came across just a basic vanilla buttermilk cake and that sounded good to me. It wasn't going to be that sweet, which I wanted, since the macarons have totally sky rocket my sugar intake for this week.

Of course, as a newbie in the baking world, I had to consult other blogs and websites for recipes. I came across A Cup of Jo's blog and she made a Buttermilk (Birthday) Cake. Even without frosting, my family loved it. It was just the cake we needed after the batch of macarons. 

Adapted from A Cup of Jo, you will need:

  • 1 2/3 cups of all purpose flour (I used blending flour)
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt 
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the first four ingredients. Set aside.

Using a small measuring cup, mix together the buttermilk and vanilla extract and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar. I slowly incorporated the sugar and blending well each time.

Slowly add each egg at a time and blending well each time.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients into this mixture. Blend.

Add 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture. Blend.

Repeat the last two steps until you have blended all the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture.

Line two cake pans with parchment paper. It was my first time doing this and clearly I can't cut anything near circles!

Divide the batter evenly in two and you will find the batter will be a kind of spongy consistency. I lift the cake pans up and dropped it onto the kitchen counter. Repeat a few times until the batter has, more or less, evenly cover the pan.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Once the oven is ready, pop them in and set the timer for 25 minutes.

AND....the end result should look something like this (welll...except that the cake will not be partially eaten):

Thanks to A Cup fo Jo for this recipe, it was truly a fantastic cake! 


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tea: Buttercream by David's Tea

"With this rich, creamy blend, you don't have to hang around mom's kitchen to get your buttercream fix" 
-David's Tea

This certified organic white tea was a limited edition tea in their Winter 2011 collection. It may have been re-promoted again in 2012, but from my recent search on their website, it's no longer available (sorry!). However, David's Tea might re-release it again next winter? Maybe, let's have our fingers crossed.

I'm usually not a big fan of white tea. But, buttercream just smelt way to good to not love. 

So, today, this is my cup of tea. 


Food: Earl Grey Macarons with Honey Buttercream Filling

These cookies seems to be the most high maintenance goods that I ever made.

I was first introduced to these little sweet treats about a year ago when a new cafe opened in my neighbourhood and their macarons were the highlight. It was literally like love at first sight, but this love comes with an expensive cost. Each one of these little French cookie sandwiches cost around $2.50-$3 each. It took me a year before I finally found the motivation to try to make them myself.

Of course, with my tea addiction, I found the recipe to make the Earl Grey kind. I found the recipe for the macaron shells on another blogger site -, but I used a different filling in between. I found another blog (The Tart Tart) that made lavender macarons, but they made a honey butter cream filling that seemed perfect for this earl grey macaron. 

I tried to take photos as I went through with the process of baking these, but sometimes I just forgot. I tried my best.

Adapted from blog:

For the Earl Grey Tea Macarons, you'll need:

-1 cup of powdered/icing sugar
-3/4 cup of almond meal
-1 packet of earl grey tea leaves (I usually use Twinings for my baking and I used one and a half tea bags)
-2 large egg whites (save the egg yolks for the filling!)
-5 tbsp of granulated sugar

Of course, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and have a piping bag/ziplock bag ready for the batter.

Separate the egg whites and yolks. Put the egg whites in a a large bowl. Set the yolks aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites till they are stiff.

It'll end up looking something like this. Once you have reached to this point, grab your granulated sugar.

Add 1 tbsp and mix until well incorporated. Repeat until you have put 5 tbsp of sugar into the batter. It should remain being stiff and rise up. Once this is complete, set this aside.

Sifting your ingredients at this stage is very important in macaron making!

In another bowl, stiff the almond meal to make sure there's not lumps and they are separated.

Sift the powdered sugar into your bowl. Along with this, sift in your earl grey leaves into the bowl as well. Mix the dry ingredients with a utensil until it's well mixed together.

Pour half of the dry ingredients into the egg whites bowl. Using a plastic scrapper, gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together. Pour the rest of the dry ingredients and repeat. Keep folding until the batter looks smooth with no bubbles or lumps.

Pour the batter into your piping bag or ziplock bag (with a hole cut at the corner).

Begin piping out the batter to make the same diameter sized circles. I know, it's hard, but more or less the same size would be good enough. After you are done piping, gently lifting the cookie sheet above your kitchen counter top and drop it. Repeat for a couple of times. This will release any remaining air bubbles within the cookie batter. Let the cookie sheets sit out for approximately 30 minutes.

At this point, I'll begin pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the oven is ready, bake these cookies for approximately 10-15 minutes. Be sure to check on them after the 10 minute mark to make sure they don't burn, but you would want the tops of the cookie to be sightly golden.

Take them out of the oven and let them sit out to completely cool down. Once they are cooled down, then you can begin piping the filling onto them.

While you are waiting for your cookies to cool down, you can begin making the filling. Refer to The Tart Tart's blog for the filling instructions!

After you assemble the cookies together, you can serve them right away if you would like. What I found is refrigerating them for a few hours makes them even more enjoyable, especially for summer days. Also, it would make the cookie hold it's delicate shape together much better.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Music: Paperweight

Classic love song. My summer song at this moment. 

Books: Summer Reading List

I looked at my bookshelf and noticed the large amount of books I have accumulated over the years. And while scanning through some of the titles quickly, I realized - I haven't read a good chunk of these books. With basically two more months of summer holiday left, my goal is to finish all the books that have been left unread on my shelf. Of course, the idea of taking you guys along with me through my blog posts came to mind. I'll post a blog post every time I finish 3 books with a short review of each.

Summer Reading List (As of July 22/13):

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 
3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
6. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 
7. UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld 
8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
9. Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
10. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
13. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

I'm actually not even sure of myself if I can finish all 13 books by the end of August. But, we will just wait and see. 

Do you have a summer reading list? Please share in the comment below if you do! Also, I'll love to hear some feedback about some of the books listed above if you have read them!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beauty: Save or Splurge?

I've seen a few beauty blogs that have taken their stand in this save or splurge debate...and now it's my turn.

Foundation - SPLURGE

Foundation is a very particular makeup product. When you go to a department store, you'll be able to use testers to find the perfect colour match and can even ask for a sample to test at home before fully committing to the product. Even though drugstore foundation is starting to offer some awesome foundations lately, I find investing in a solid foundation that will more or less perfectly match you is a better investment in the long run. Plus, complexion is the starting point for anything as it serves the base for your face. 

Concealer - SPLURGE

Similar to foundation, it's the colour match that matters. Also, department store usually has a better return policy - so, if the coverage, finish, lasting power, etc. wasn't the way you want it to be, you can exchange or return it to find your perfect match. 

Powder - SAVE or SPLURGE

It really depends on your skin type in my opinion. Speaking from a perspective of a dry skin girl myself, I never powder my face after I apply foundation; it just ends up making my face look extremely cakey. But, I know you combo and oily skin lovely faces rely on this product. Thus, powder is more of a personal thing. I find a higher end powder would have a longer last power and is more finely milled, making it less likely to give you a powdery look on after applying it. Plus, colour selection is then again, very important....unless you get translucent. 

Bronzer - SPLURGE

There's not that many variation with bronzers - they usually only come in a few different shades of brown(ish) and they do their job. I find it's best to splurge on one bronzer that looks natural on your skin tone and stick with it.

Blush - SAVE 

My biggest mistake I ever made in my beauty history. Blush comes in all different shades and finishes that you can change up. Splurging on multiple high end blushes may not be a good idea, since you won't be able to use them up. I have learnt my lesson - drugstore blushes has that variation for you to choose from and you can pick multiple ones up without breaking your wallet. 

Eyeshadow - SAVE

Eyeshadow is similar to blush that it's a beauty product that people tend to love to change up. Drugstore eyeshadow have definitely gotten better with their pigmentation lately. Plus, the variation in colour and brand gives you the freedom to test out what works best for you without draining your bank account. It's good to start at the drugstore to find the perfect colours that work for you.

Mascara - SAVE

It is usually advised to change your mascara every 3-6 months to avoid eye infection. Depending on your use, the small tube of black liquid is not worth it to splurge over $20 on one. The drugstore has some great ones that can do it's job. I highly recommend to give Covergirl Lash Blast a try! 

Eyeliner - SPLURGE

Eyeliner is one of those products that people hate when it smudges. It's best to invest in a higher end that is long-lasting to get you through the day!

Lipstick - SAVE

No matter how hard you try, you'll have to reapply lipstick throughout the day. Drugstore lipstick is cheap and they have a good range of colours and finishes. 

Lipliner - SAVE

Same as lipstick! 


Tools is a wide category. There are some products that are worth the investment, while some that are not. Makeup brushes are definitely the tools that needs splurging on. They are not the cheapest, but investing in higher quality brushes will do you good in the long run; they will sled less, they will not bleed, they will be densely packed with hair, etc. On the other hand, makeup sponges are definitely a tool that you can save on. It's recommended not to use a sponge multiple times, making it pricey if you splurge on them and continue to re-purchase them.

Nail Polish - SAVE

This another one of my beauty mistakes. You change your nail colour often and it chips. Plus, a nail polish bottle can easily dry up.

Makeup Remover - SPLURGE

Even if you use it on a daily basis, a good makeup remover will not irritate your skin.

What is your take on the beauty save vs. splurge war? Let me know in the comments below!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Music: The Scientist

This song is probably one of the most beautiful tunes I have heard in my life; The lyrics is just so beautifully written.


Tea: My All-Time Favourites!

Three years ago, I was addicted to coffee - but I kicked the habit to the curb when I was introduced to tea. Don't get me wrong, but the smell of coffee is probably still one of my favourite scents ever...but, drinking tea was like entering a whole new world.

Over the last three years, I may have accumulated too much of it ... may it be loose or bagged, I had to put myself on a ban. I knew it was nearly impossible for me to finish all the tea that I had if I continued to buy more all the time - even though I'm almost a daily drinker and a regular host for tea parties. But! tea obsession is not over. Purchasing is just on a break - but, my love for it is still going strong!

I have looked through my stash and made a list of the teas that I would most likely re-purchase or have re-purchased in the past. It's definitely worth a mention and share with internet world!

(Classic) Earl Grey Tea
How can you not like earl grey tea? It's a classic tea that is perfect with milk (or soy!) and sugar. It is also a great tea to drink straight with a slice of lemon on a chilly night. One of my favourites is from an independent loose leaf tea shop in Toronto - Tealish sells the blend that is just perfect! But, if you're just walking down your local grocery store, I find Twinings Earl Grey to be a great classic bagged tea; it is also perfect for baking! 

If you want to experiment with Earl Grey Tea and a twist, give these a try:

Rooibos de Provence by David's Tea
Rooibos tea is a herb from South Africa. This type of tea will give you a boost of natural energy and has tons of health benefits associated with it as well! This particular blend has a strong scent of lavender, which really drew me into this tea at first. This tea is perfectly fine being served straight and it is also perfect when you add a spoonful of honey and milk/soy into your cup. A definite must try tea!

Pumpkin Chai Tea by David's Tea
One of David's Tea annual fall collection tea, which always have me running to the store during the autumn months to make sure I have stocked up for the year. Go to a store between September and December, take a sniff - thank me later. 

Sleepytime Vanilla by Celestial Seasonings 
A chamomile tea that is marketed to help you wind down and end your day. I wasn't too big of a fan of their original sleepytime tea, but with the added vanilla - it made it my favourite night tea. With no caffeine, it's a perfect tea to be enjoyed without disrupting your sleep cycle. 

What are some of your favourite teas? Share in the comment below!


Books: Lesson from "This Lullaby"

"No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater...The love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences. And that's the key."
-This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby seriously will catch your heart...especially if you are a young adult. This was probably the first Sarah Dessen book that I have purchased and it got me hooked to her writing. It does start off a little slow, but once you get to a third into the book - it gets good...good to the point that I couldn't put the book down. Since then, I have read the book probably 3 times so far and it's just as good each time. 

I'll try not to spoil anything for those who haven't read this novel, but, in a nutshell...

Remy (the main character) is a soon-to-be college freshmen, who is the girl behind her deceased father's famous one hit wonder song. Observing from her mother's love life, Remy views love to be a negative thing and non-existent. This all changes when she meets Dexter. And from here, the story begins. 

Out of all the romantic young adult books that I have read, I find This Lullaby to be quite realistic. Of course, there are a few parts where you know it only happens in fictional books - but more or less, it gives readers a more realistic view about love and about finding that special someone isn't always going to be perfect. It tells readers, especially young teenagers, that it requires lots of effort to make a relationship work and it's definitely not like any of those fairy tales that you hear about when you were younger. When you love someone, you'll do anything to keep them in your life.

Overall, definitely a great read for those aged between 14 to late 20's. But, no one will judge if you are over this age range I gave! Seriously give this book a read, Dexter will melt your heart.

Please let me know in the comment below if you have read this book or not and your thoughts! I'll love to read your take on this novel!


Photo taken from: