Pin-tested: brownie in a mug

We all see those perfect pictures on Pintrest from time to time and cock an eyebrow in doubt. There are whole blogs dedicated to putting those so called “simple” recipes and quick-fixes to the test (and most of the time, the results are hilariously horrible), but I’ve decided to give it a spin myself. I’ll probably make this a semi-regular feature, since I waste so much of my time on that godforsaken website anyway.

Mug cakes are a growing trend, perhaps a bit past their prime at this point due to the fact that they usually suck. I’ve tried many a mug cake myself, and they always turn out to be either ridiculously complicated, so much that you might as well prepare the full-sized version, or flat-out horrible tasting. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of cake in the first place, but when I saw this mug brownie recipe that didn’t require some weird yeast or separated egg whites or other obnoxious ingredient, I had to give it a shot.

P1100639In the end, it wasn’t much like a brownie texture-wise, but it was still pretty tasty! For a five-minute, homemade, perfectly portioned dessert with no artificial ingredients (and technically vegan!), I thought it was a surprisingly agreeable option for a chocolate fix. This pin, though perhaps in need of renaming, passes my test.

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Rainbow cookies and gift giving

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There is something so satisfying in creating something for someone else, especially if the task you plan to conquer is something you’ve never done before. Today is my boyfriend’s birthday, and I made these rainbow cookies for him because they’re his favorite kind to make himself. I learned that they are incredibly time consuming, and to make them you need several specialty grocery items you wouldn’t normally keep at home, such as almond paste and apricot preserves. Who knew? The final product is cooling in the fridge now, but I made myself a little taste-test from the rough edges. And I’m really proud of myself. They taste just as good as his and better than any store-bought kind.

P1100641When I was a kid, I loved Christmas and Valentine’s day and other similar holidays because I loved getting presents. But as I’ve grown, I find that giving is by far the most rewarding part. I love finding the perfect, functional gift for the people I love (This past christmas, for my tea-loving, engineering major best friend, I found a tea infuser that looks like a robot — perfect!). And I especially love making things. I’ve given up on my handmade-craft-business dream, but I can still make miniature card earrings for my poker-playing aunt in her winning hand, and I can still bake these complicated cookies for the love of my life on his birthday. It’s the little things that often bring the most happiness, and to know that I’m providing that opportunity is the greatest gift of all.

life rules

I’ve found that the worst periods of my life tend to be when I’m stuck in no man’s land, without a clue what I enjoy, who my friends are, or what I stand for. Inspired by a close friend of mine who recently quit doing drugs and adopted a whole new life philosophy, I’ve decided to write up my own little list of life rules. The concept of this is that these “rules” are more like loose guidelines and things you know to be true. They will likely change with time to reflect who you’ve grown to be. They are things that make you feel centered, values you’ve structured your life around, and goals for your future. When you’re feeling lost in the storm, it helps to have a written reminder of who you are and why you’re still trying.

My life rules are as follows:

Care about things, because apathy will never satisfy you.
Question everything.
Read books.
Don’t do anything without a reason.
If you have to lie about something, it’s probably not worth it.
Breathe fresh air every day.
Never miss an opportunity to learn.
Celebrate every silly little thing.
Be present.
Wake up early sometimes and watch the sunrise.

I wrote them down on a piece of paper, added some color and doodles, and taped it to my closet door. I can see it when I wake up, from my desk and bed, and whenever I walk into the room. I also have a note of it on my phone. In the two weeks since I’ve created it, it’s brought me a surprising sort of comfort and inspiration. I hear the words in my head when I feel myself slipping into bad habits: “be present. question everything. celebrate.” It may not have the same effect on everyone, but if you try it, I would love to hear your list and how it works for you! In a world that is constantly changing, knowing what you stand for can be an anchor that keeps you from floating astray.

On healthy eating

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Everyone’s always telling you to “eat healthy.” The FDA guidelines suggest impossible servings of vegetables and whole grains to be consumed within a day. That source says eat mainly fruit and vegetables, the other says fruit is too full of sugar and you should eat protein bars, another says whole, real food is the way to go. My consensus is that no one really knows exactly what they’re talking about, so I’ve taken it all into account, added my own knowledge of biology and human metabolic processes, and made my own spin on healthy eating. My basic approach: eat a lot of fruit, avoid all processed foods as much as humanly possible, make healthier substitutions where possible, and never skip a meal.

My breakfast, pictured above, consists of steel-cut oatmeal with coffee cake topping, inspired by this post,  and half a grapefruit. Who says healthy can’t be delicious, right?

On the other hand, sometimes healthy isn’t that tasty. Guys, I confess, no matter how much I try to like salad, I just don’t. I can’t get over the taste and texture of the lettuce, spinach, or whatever other greens they’ve thrown in there. So today I tried a green smoothie, in the hopes it would be more bearable. Spoiler alert: it isn’t. This layered green apple smoothie recipe tasted like tart vanilla yogurt with pieces of spinach in it. But hey, it looked awesome in this beaker, right?

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