Monday, September 30, 2013

Beau Matin: Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins

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Every Sunday at summer camp, campers and counselors dragged themselves at their leisure to the lodge for a casual breakfast. The kitchen served 20 kinds of cereals, a fruit bar, greasy bacon, three different sausages, and so many muffins.

For one morning a week, I relaxed with my fellow counselors while dining on the best muffins I ever tasted. These day of rest delicacies born from the mysterious back kitchen were chocolate chip muffins.

A la my instagram

Returning home, I searched, experimented, and found the closest replacement in my chocolate chip cookie muffins.

I'm always taken back to that tight sense of camaraderie between us counselors: Christians, pagans, Jews, Americans, Brits, liberals, conservatives, feminists, etc. Differences hardly meant anything when we all dealt with teenage, rich little campers who bragged about how many Apple products and Tiffany&co. jewelry they had.

Sweet, sweet taste of camaraderie.

Or, simply dessert for breakfast. So many of my campers ate only yogurt and fruit for breakfast that someone had to go for the chocolate. I volunteered as tribute.


3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup milk room temp.
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag chocolate chips

Makes roughly 15 large muffins~

Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Large bowl: combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Medium bowl: combine butter, milk, sour cream, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and sugar. Note: add the sugar last so that it won't clump together. Stir while adding it.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. When it is halfway combined, add the chocolate chips. Don't over mix! Count on a few little lumps.

Okay, we want the classic bakery look, so put your batter into the muffin tin with mounds high than the rim. Anywhere between 1/2 to 3/4 an inch will look good! Because the tops will come up over the top, I prefer to make batches of 6 at a time in a single tin so they aren't crowded (see photo). Love that rounded look!

Baked 28-30 min for 6 muffins, or closer to 35 if you do all twelve. The muffins are done when the edges turn golden brown -- like a cookie does!

Let them cool for 10-15 minutes. Who am I kidding? Pluck one out for yourself after waiting 5! The morning is short!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Six Thousand Steps

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The times I feel most alive and creative are on my feet.

The right drink
Summer mornings meant a miniature sheltie or a shar pei scratching at my door for a walk before the summer heat set in. For the first time in all of my remembered summers, no one came.

Going from the constant action of summer camp to lethargy at home sapped me. I felt myself growing sad and didn't want that, so I took to heart the human need to walk at least six thousand steps everyday.

An old wellness professor told me six thousand steps a day means less anxiety and depression, that the brain simply works better.

I go where I walked my dogs. Far down the side of the street then onto a hidden sidewalk leading into a large neighborhood of beautiful houses, thick trees, and sloping sidewalks. The sprinklers come on around 8 am, a little fact known from my dog walking days. I enjoyed it more than they did.

Hot days mean feeling the heat rolling down my back in wave after wave. Cooler days are brisk walks with music in my ears.
Mon favorit
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Are you the Elizabeth Bennet of walking or do you get creativity going another way?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Take to the Sky

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Mid-July, a flight carried me from Maine to Georgia, down the east coast. I had never appreciated flying so much until I was up there looking down on the coast.

"The view of the coast is sublime. The tiny islands in cozy bays, seagulls on the docks, the sea and sky becoming the same in their hues of blue -- it's enchanting. I saw a lighthouse far away, where it appeared to be in the sky more than the sea. Now Maine is a white and green blue through the hazy clouds."
Oh yes, I was waxing all sorts of poetic in my diary while in my free upgraded seat with a whole row to myself. Absolutely enchanting three hours spent.

As a writer, flying has stuck itself into my imagination ever since. From up there, the hills, waves, and fissures of the earth appeared flat. Everything looked so much closer together. I think I may have forgotten until then that magical quality flight has.

Heron by ChrisSpies

Lyrics from Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

Amelie (2009)

Howl's Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli

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You. Flying. Tell me about it.

Note: None of these photos are mine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Read & Eat: Indianapolis

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Artwork from Eli Lilly, the Canal, gondolas, the monorail -- Indianapolis gets prettier and prettier. Fittingly, we find more and more interesting local eateries.

The family and I lunched at Creation Cafe in downtown Indianapolis. We ate outside where we could look over the canal and the gondolas from the shade. The falafel was tasty (first timer!), but eating came before photography. Woops!

{End of the Canal as part of our view}
Their food menu is notably limited, but the drink and dessert menu looked like a novella. Evening Nutella gelato on the water, anyone? There were a few cozy sitting areas surrounded by twinkle lights, and I can easily imagine a future late evening there for one of their imported wines and mayhaps a slice of cake (all of their cakes are from the local Cake Stand).

{From atop the Marion County Central Library}
The family was interested in checking out the new Central Library. A Peanuts display, library cafe, baking books -- talk about feeling in my element!

There were a few other great displays with exotic instruments with sound samples. And the Blind Date with a Book display had these little hints about what the book might be about. If only that parking meter hadn't been ticking!

The marshmallows on today's sundae: petites lettres from a camp counselor friend! Silly as it is, I get so happy over letters that I put off reading them to draw it out.

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Adventured anywhere new lately?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bagels, Letters, & Swimming with Dolphins

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There were so many benefits to being an art history major.

One semester, my Mondays and Wednesdays were something like:

Late 19th Century European Painting          11-12:45
Minorities in Early American Art                 1-2:15
Get a Bagel Before I Die                        2:15-2:30
Age of Giants: Leonardo & Michelangelo    2:30-3:45

Friends of Art Bookshop, inside the fine arts building, sold bagels: egg, pretzel, spinach, everyseed, honeywheat, etc. The only two kinds of their schmears I cared about were cinnamon sugar and honey almond. These things could return sweet life to me after grueling but brilliant lectures.

While there, I always perused their trinkets, art books, and oh dear goodness is that stationary? And it's so beautiful.

Naturally I had to send these out. Part of me was nervous. "These'll take days to weeks to get there, or they'll get lost." Growing up with the rise of e-mail didn't inspire confidence. But after sending them out, I got a beautiful response.

I never knew til then how sending a letter was the closest thing to appearing on their front porch. There's something so personal about handwriting their names and seeking out their address. It's like hearing a friend say your name.

I corresponded with a friend studying in Spain via snail mail.
By the way, I managed to convince my roommates this was my Friday schedule. They assumed it was an "art thing."

Swimming with Dolphins     1-3
Moonwalking                     9pm-12am

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If you could attend any class whatsoever, what would it be? (I choose Moonwalking led by Professor Man in the Moon)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bon Matin: Chai Muffins with Dates & Oats

A la my Instagram
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My morning tea hardly seems right without a good muffin.

This recipe I received from a friend who served them at every meeting our organization, Giving Back to Africa Student Association, held at her house. Madeleine is aptly named for a French dessert for all her sweetness and class. She's an enviable host with her good food and tea.


1 1/4 cups soy milk
2 teabags chai tea
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped dried dates (or figs)
6 tbs canola oil

Makes one dozen~

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the milk in a saucepan til hot to touch. Remove from heat and add teabags to steep 1-3 minutes, til caramel brown. Put oats in a small bowl. Pour the milk and vanilla extract over it. Stir briefly and let sit.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in dates and oil to lightly coat. Pour in the oat mixture and stir til just combined. Then, pour the batter into a muffin tray. Top with a few oats, as seen above (presentation~).

Bake 20 minutes and have with a hot drink!

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What do you like to have with your tea?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Now is the Start

New writing journal handmade by Faith.
A la my Instagram
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 The start never comes when I expect it.

September's hope at my shiny new home, my college, faded to a rainy, late October. On Thursday - my least favorite day full of my three least favorite classes - I remembered a Starbucks gift card of $4.77 attached to my key ring. A dear friend, having little to offer, gave it to me before I left home.

"Use it for an emergency."

Walking out of the fine arts building, my heart told me today was that emergency.

Remembering once spotting a Starbucks in the student union, I stopped by for a vanilla latte and sat at a small table to the side, where I could notice people coming, waiting, and going.

I can't remember why, but I had a writing pad my mom bought for me, and she never buys those. Writing had always been a love of mine, but I never found a story in me.

That day, not wanting to think of what upset me, I wrote a silly scene about a boy asking a girl for help in hiding from his sister.

Four years worth of Saturdays passed there, writing and expanding from that scene.

My dog days were over.

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When was your start?