Yaya's Cafe

The Mix of Stuff Blog

Planning a Baby Shower and Other Kinds of Madness December 13, 2012

Let’s catch up.

First, I competed in NaNoWriMo this past November. The outcome: I didn’t get to 50,000 words like I wanted to. I made it to 28,000 or so. I started a damn good story and I am hoping to finish it soon. The holidays are a time of Mad Science like baking so there’s very little time to work on my story. I will though. ^_~

Second, I made some cupcakes and icing using a fantastic new recipe I found online. Once I get to a computer (instead of just my phone) I will add the awesome link. Any who, they turned out great and I gave most of them away to friends and family. They were delicious.

Update with Link:

The recipe is on Glorious Treats at http://www.glorioustreats.com/2010/04/recipe-perfectly-chocolate-cupcakes.html for the Chocolate Cupcakes.

The Cream Cheese Frosting can be found here: http://www.glorioustreats.com/2010/02/recipe-cream-cheese-frosting.html *

Note: * The Links are written out in case clicking on the underlined words doesn’t work. ^_^ Hope everyone tries these.  Just in case I will include the entire set of recipes at the bottom of the post.

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And super cute when I dressed them up to give away.

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The best part: It is really cheap to make. The ingredients are basic items most people have around the house. ^_^

Third and last big update, Baby Shower time. My best friend is pregnant and I am putting together her baby shower. She is due next year but I am starting to put ideas together so it will be easier when the time comes. ^_^ I am very excited and happy for her.

With that in mind, I am hoping to make it an exciting, beautiful and unforgettable day for her. ^_^

I am checking out recipes, themes and the vast variety of styles. Hopefully, I will find a lot of great but equally simple ideas!

The Recipes

Perfectly Chocolate Cupcakes

(makes 24-27 standard sized cupcakes)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)

1 cup boiling water

Directions-

Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Heat oven to 350*F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for one minute.

Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don’t worry, this is right).

Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.  (I usually put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout, and then pour the batter into the liners.)

Bake cupcakes for approximately 18-22 minutes.

Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Recipe source- Hershey’s

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes, but should still be cool)

8 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)

4 cups powdered confectioners sugar

1 to 4 Tablespoons heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)

Directions:
*Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
*Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
*Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don’t add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
*Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

The recipe above will produce a delicious VANILLA flavored frosting, here are a couple of other options to try…

For a Stronger Cream Cheese Flavor: Use an additional 4 oz. (½ block) of cream cheese. This is good for any cake/cupcake recipe that is traditionally topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, like Carrot Cake, or Red Velvet Cake.

For Chocolate Frosting: (my favorite!) add ½ cup unsweetened cocoa (I use Ghirardelli brand, it’s really good). Add the cocoa powder before adding the powdered sugar, so it gets fully incorporated into the butter and cream cheese.

Strawberry, Blackberry, etc: Add 2-4 tablespoons of preserves. Depending on how chunky or seedy the preserves are, you may want to blend it in the food processor, and/or strain it through a fine strainer before adding it to the frosting. Add the preserves to the frosting mixture before adding the heavy cream. Depending on the amount of preserves you add you may need very little or no cream, especially if you want the frosting thick enough to pipe. A final option would be to add a drop of food coloring to add to the color of the preserves (for example, pink coloring for the Strawberry flavor).

* This recipe will frost about 22-24 cupcakes if you are piping a nice swirl, or even more if you just spread it on. If you’re making a cake, this will frost and fill a two layer 9″ cake.

Enjoy the recipes from Glorious Treats. I sure did!

Thanks for Reading and Happy Holidays!!

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Another November… November 5, 2012

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Updates,Writing — Yaya @ 12:47 PM
Tags: , , ,

Another November has come around and I am trying to write a novel. Not for the sweet and simple pleasure of getting it done. Oh no. I am attempting to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge: 50,000 WORDS in a MONTH. I tried it last year but it quickly fell apart.

I had worked hard during October to make plenty of time, come November. Instead, it got crazy. I had family come over for a surprise two week visit. It was a pleasant visit but it left little time to write. Then a lot of things needed to be renewed (like auto insurance), which meant being on the phone since we were switching to a new company for home and auto insurance. Any who, I am giving it another shot. 🙂

Last Year:

I started writing about two girls who meet at a bar, end up fighting and become friends. Each one later discovers that their friendship is going to be impossible to maintain. One dreams of becoming a cop. The other is destined to take over the her unsavory family business. Sad part is, I only have a few chapters. I never finished it, which is really sad because I was very excited about it. My goal is to continue this novel once I am done with NaNoWriMo.

This Year:

I am writing an unconventional romance novel for young adults. I am calling it “Love Smells Like Strawberries.” It’s about the life of a high school girl who has had enough of the cliques and the popular crowd. At first, she tries to change who she is to be popular but that is quickly dashed away. She soon realizes there are not enough trendy clothes in the world to change people’s mind about the clique system they’ve grown accustomed to. So how will she survive high school, making friends and even falling in love?

Well, that last one is the question I am setting out to answer but you get the idea. Wish me luck!!

Btw- remember to follow me on twitter @YalyVidal for quick updates!!

As always, thank you for reading! 🙂

 

Writing For Myself October 20, 2011

Filed under: Goals,NaNoWriMo,News,Uncategorized,Updates,Writing — Yaya @ 12:02 PM

Hello Everyone!!

I’m excited to be back. A while ago I moved into a new home and decided to consider it a time to start fresh. I took a break and figured a few things out. Some about me and others about who I want to be. What it boils down to is that in order to be a good writer I need to love writing again. I got on the grid, then off, and now on again to figure this out. Being back on the grid meant floods of information and advice. Some positive, most (sadly) negative.

That’s why I decided to write this post.  There was one article in particular that caught my attention. It was about how writer’s shouldn’t write just to write, that writers are expected to have sound reasons for writing and near flawless composition. I disagree. I think sometimes writers need to act as the readers and just enjoy what they write. They also need to write for writing’s sake. I know it sounds counter productive but all writers have ideas. Some are great and able to grow into short stories or novels. Others just go nowhere.

When writers find themselves in this situation what are they supposed to do? A writer is supposed get it out of their system, sort of speak. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m speaking for myself and several other writers.  I know I can’t speak for everyone but I’m sure we can all agree that sometimes we just need a positive push to get us going in the right direction.

My suggestion: Write For Yourself and stay positive. You should always be the first one to push yourself, not knock yourself down.

What I mean is, treat yourself like the audience. You are the only reader that matters. Other people can read it or not read it but your opinion is the most important one. During my break I realized I couldn’t force my writing. I had to let it come naturally. It needed to flow from me.

I was my best friend and my worst enemy; my fondest critic. All in all there was no objective or sound voice with which to guide my reason and prose. There was just a lot of noise. My thoughts were unsettled so I was unsettled. I needed to take a step back and start asking myself: “What do I really NEED?”

My answer: I needed a goal and a good push with a positive attitude to go with it.

There needed and still needs to be a voice that inspires the writer (myself in this case) and pushes them to be better. Not for anyone, just for themselves. I loved writing, then I didn’t. I felt bogged down and beaten every time I wrote. I couldn’t put pen to paper without over thinking it every step of the way. I couldn’t open a Word Doc on my laptop without wondering if it was even any good. I scrapped a lot of ideas that had a future but weren’t in the “Now.” I needed to change my outlook and be positive.

It wouldn’t be easy to break old habits or change my way of thinking. The first thing that needed work was the way I worked.

Smart people do silly things when it comes to writing and I am very guilty of this. It’s now or never. Write what you need to write and say what you need to say. That is how writing should work.

Instead, it’s more like write, edit, get flustered, grow frustrated, try to move forward with your mind stuck in the past, linger on said past, scrap it, change the wording, and then write a bit more. Exciting, right?

I’m sure there was a pause, some silence, and a sigh followed by a “Huh.”

For a long time writers have been convinced that what they think of their writing is not as important as public opinion. This idea discourages lots of people from even trying to start writing. It’s definitely a career that demands a day-job nowadays but totally worth it to those of us willing to put ourselves out there.

My advice: Believe in your writing. Don’t be a critic to yourself, be a supporter. Write, write, write, and when you’re done, go back and edit.

The second thing I needed to do was let go of my insecurities and I suggest you do too. Writing, unlike math has no one equation that works to solve problems. In other words, 2+2 can be four people, money, chickens, cars, or eggs in a basket to name a few; not just the solution to 2+2. In writing there is no one answer or formula. Each writer brings their own bit of something to the table.

I got over my insecurities and started to write. So far, I’m 3,000 words in and still don’t have a title. But you what, I’m okay with it.

The last thing I would suggest is challenging yourself to write things you never thought you could or would write. Some people write fantasy and fiction, why not take a stab at non-fiction? Don’t hold yourself back by limiting yourself to just what you do well.

I’m not good at sitting down to write and write and write if I’m not sure where I am trying to go with my story and I will challenge this side of myself by joining NaNoWriMo. For the past few years I have heard of the one novel in one month challenge and never tried it. I think it’s about time I did. My goal is to write using some new characters based on one of my random ideas. As I work I will add updates on my progress and some previews of the stuff I will be working on.

Wish Me Luck!

As always, Thanks for Reading!!

 

One Last Thing July 11, 2011

Filed under: Music,Writing — Yaya @ 9:18 PM
Tags: ,

A long day and only one more thing. That’s what we woke up to. One last thing is the way the mortgage lenders tell you there is much more to it. We gave them piece after piece of information and paper after paper.

Even with all that, there was still more. I was pretty overwhelmed throughout the last few weeks. Baking has helped me out though. It has eased my pain.

I also listened to a lot of music about difficult days. My faves: Wrong Way, We Love What Kills Us, Little Black Backpack, Kids, and Shake Me Down. All good songs to get back into fight mode. Now, we are down to the wire and trying to get over the last hurdle.

All we have left is the final walk through and signing at the title company. Holy hell it is nerve wracking. I thought I was really disciplined and laid back. This experience has made me a little uptight. I am going to feel so much better when we get the keys and move in.

Gosh, it feels like forever since I’ve worked on my writing or my comic stuff. I haven’t had much time for anything but blogging and home stuff. Sort of sucks. Finding time to de-stress has been tough. Totally hating the stress but I know it will be for the best. Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading my rant.

 

The Anthony Case and All the Buzz July 7, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Yaya @ 6:46 AM
Tags: , ,

Today there were a lot of shows talking Casey Anthony and how she got away with killing her daughter or how well the system worked. No one seems to be able to decide what actually happened to Caylee or what the outcome of the trial symbolizes. It seems like the trial was all a big show and there was nothing but a circus. Neither side really won. A little girl is still dead and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. At the end of the day, it is another tragic cautionary tale.

People still can’t really trust other people and there is no way to know whose truth is the truth… I know that was vague. I also know that there is always room for more than one solution. I am sad to say that there was just too much at stake all at once during this trial for the jury to decide on.

Aside from that, the situation with the Casey Anthony case is in some ways the Apocalypse for law and people as we know it. Why do I make such a shocking claim? I am making this claim because I feel like people need to open their eyes. They need to look beyond the verdict and look at the aftershock. One example is all the groups that suddenly sprang up asking for signatures for “Caylee’s Law.”

This law would make it a crime not to report a child or infant’s death within an hour of its occurrence. The shocked and traumatized people who have lost a child may suffer the penalty of law over an accident. I don’t think this drastic measure is a good idea. These things need time and consideration; not anger. A riled up crowd will say and do as it pleases.

It is never good when people are looking to pass laws and change current ones without really thinking. I do think it is important to pass a law that requires parents and guardians to report missing children within 24 hours. This is very important to keep children safe and help find them when they go missing. I see the idea of having to think clearly within the first hour of an incident as logical but not completely realistic.

I can’t seem to stress how difficult it is not to panic when something small happens. I can’t imagine a law that would harm families any further. Maybe I am not seeing clearly because I have formed my own opinions about the Casey Anthony Case. In the end, the most I could wish for is clear and thorough thinking from people and lawmakers alike.

Thanks for reading and good night!