A Cook and a Baker

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I enjoy cooking but I don’t really bake. I’ve always enjoyed cooking more than baking. When you bake, measurements are important. Of course when you cook they are important, but if you alter the ingredients, they may not have a severe impact on the dish.  Also, I’m not the best baker. During my time in the U.S, I was able to learn how to decorate a cake from my friend’s mom, Patty. She is a proud mom and owner of Patty Bakes Cakes. She has been baking for years and specializes in creating shaped cakes. Although we did not bake a cake from scratch, she gave me a lot of tips on how to decorate a cake.

Tips on how to decorate a cake

  • 1. Before adding food coloring to the white icing, stir it with a toothpick. Then, add the food coloring to the icing.
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  • 2. To keep the icing creamy, add a little bit of milk and stir.
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  • 3. Brushing the cake with a silicone brush helps remove excess flakes.
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  • 4. Always try to evenly spread your icing when coating the cake.
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  • 5. When decorating the cake, don’t squeeze the icing bag too hard and don’t squeeze the middle of the bag. If you do, the icing will rise come out of the top of the bag.
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  • 6. Relax and have fun because it’s just a cake!
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We made a chocolate cake topped with cinnamon sugar dip. It’s a fun take on chips and dip! I was happy with the results, but I don’t think I’ll be baking a cake anytime soon.

Follow Patty on Facebook @Patty Bakes Cakes.

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How to Create an At Home Workout

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For a while, I’ve been making my own  at home workouts. For me, it’s simple because I used to be a Group Fitness Instructor. However, if you aren’t an instructor, or you only workout at a gym, it can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you create your own at home workout.

  1. Know your limits.
  • It’s important to exercise safely, but I think you should take extra precaution at home. Your home isn’t built for working out, so if you need to try some intense exercises, make sure to clear enough space to perform them. If you have an injury, or have a history of injuries, know the modifications of the exercises you would like to try. I have knee issues and some days I have to cut the jump squats and just do a simple squat. Know your limits and listen to your body.

2. Know the difference between different types of workouts.

  • Your workouts will vary depending on the types of exercises you want to do, the length of time you have and how challenging you want your workout to be. If performed well and in a safe way, your workouts will be effective. Personally, I like to vary my workouts by doing a HIIT or a circuit. Here’s an explanation of both types of workouts.
  • HIIT: (High Intensity Interval Training) Creating a workout that has short, high intensity level exercises with periods of low intensity level exercises. For example, performing knee tucks for thirty seconds followed by one minute of squats.
  • Circuit Training: A series of exercises that focuses on one area of the body or the total body. Each exercise is done for a certain period of time, usually thirty seconds to one minute. Then, you either start the same circuit over again or move on to a new circuit.

3. Start simple!

  •  Creating your own workout doesn’t have to be complicated. I’ve created a video that shows the basic exercises you need to know to get started. Once you’re comfortable with these, you can add jumps to or weights to increase the intensity. If you would like more fitness inspiration, you can check out my Pinterest page.

4. Make sure the workout is challenging but not impossible to get through.

  • There is a difference between challenging yourself and being to hard on yourself. Maybe you can only do pushups for thirty seconds instead of a minute. Over time, you’ll get stronger. One thing I do is add an extra ten to fifteen seconds to a challenging exercise until I am able to perform it up to my desired time.

5. Invest in equipment.

  • I workout at home because it’s cheaper than going to a gym. Plus, where else can I blast my music and dance around. However, working out at home does come with a price but it doesn’t have to be very expensive. If you are considering making an at home gym, I would suggest buying a set of weights, ranging from five to twenty pounds, two resistance bands at two levels of resistance, a mat and an exercise ball. With these items you can do various exercises and over time you can add new equipment.

 

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Making Xiaolongbao with my Favorite Chinese Auntie

For those of who I’ve talked to on the regular basis, you know that I frequent a breakfast spot right outside of my apartment complex. Although I don’t know the official name of the place, there is a man and a woman who own and run the restaurant. I call her ” Breakfast Lady”. She is really nice and she makes really good food, well it’s more like her husband makes the food and she sells it with a smile. Well, their restaurant serves some of the best baozi, mantou and, most importantly, xiaolongbao.

 

 

Xiaolongbao is a small steamed bun usually filled with seasoned pork. They are very delicious and it’s impossible to eat just one. “Breakfast Lady” makes some of the best xiaolongbao in town, and some of my friends who have visited have said that she makes the best xiaolongbao that they have had.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to make xiaolongbao with her. The process was kind of difficult. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t speak Chinese very well and that was how she was telling me how to make them. Regardless, I was able to kind of understand how to make them.

 

 

This was my first attempt at making xiaolongbao. It didn’t turn out so well. Rolling them is a lot more difficult than it looks.

After three more tries, I finally made one that was almost similar to the ones that she makes.

I was so proud of my little xiaolongbao.

Have you ever made xiaolongbao?

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Instagram and Accountability

Last summer, I signed up for an Instagram account. I’m usually late regarding anything dealing with technology. I didn’t get a Facebook till I was sixteen, keep in mind I am twenty-three, and I still own a Nokia Lumia 920 phone. Need I say more. So, it was a really big deal for me to make an Instagram. When I first got on Instagram, I posted random photos of things I saw and barely used it. I really didn’t know what was the big deal about this app. My perspective changed when I created my blog and began to exercise more.

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When I began the Tone It Up Challenge, I challenged myself to post on Instagram almost everyday. I would post a “sweaty selfie”, the workout I did that day and how many calories I burned during the workout. This really kept me accountable for what I was doing outside of my posts. I wanted to eat healthy and workout more, even if I was feeling lazy.

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One of my friends and fellow fitness enthusiasts, Zoe, posts about her healthy lifestyle. She regularly uses Instagram and thinks that it keeps her accountable both on and off the app. She says “I know people are following me and watching my journey. When I don’t feel like working out, I can look up my favorite fitness people on Instagram and it helps me get moving.” This is something I can totally relate too.

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However, their are both positives a negatives to using this app for fitness and exercise. Zoe believes that Instagram can be discouraging if you aren’t losing weight as quickly as you’d like too, or if you hit a plateau. She says “You may start seeing transformations of people that lost a lot of weight really fast and you start thinking well am I doing something wrong.” I agree with her. It’s completely normal to hit a plateau when losing weight, but if you see someone on Instagram, you may ask yourself ” What am I doing wrong?”. However, it’s important to not be discouraged too much and remember how far you’ve come. Every step towards living a healthy life should not be taken lightly.

Follow Zoe on Instagram @zoeflynn93.

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