Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to B for a Bit

I mentioned in my last post that I had made vegan chocolate cupcakes, but did not include the recipe.  They were just as tasty as any cupcake with eggs or dairy would be.  The only thing I did not make was the frosting, so they were not completely vegan in the end.  But the cake recipe is completely vegan.  My favorite part about this recipe is that it is simple and uses ingredients you probably have on hand all the time, so you really can make them whenever you feel like it.

To be honest, I forget which website I found this on.  But they were all basically the same as far as ingredients go.  I actually sort of combined two recipes in the end.  This was originally for cake, so I had to refer to another recipe to determine the baking time and the like.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil (the original calls for vegetable oil, but that stuff is no good for you so I used safflower oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
Pretty straight forward here.  Preheat to 350 F.  Mix together the dry ingredients first.  Then add in the wet ingredients.  Mix it all together.  Line your muffin pan with baking cups, pour in the batter, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

As for the frosting, you can use anything really.  You can make it from scratch, which is easy since it's usually just powdered sugar and milk or something simple like that.  Or you can buy your favorite kind.  Whether you are vegan or not, these cupcake are easy to make and even better to enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

B: Blogging and Baking

The Blog:

I'm one of those artists who gets bored easily with what I'm working on, or what I've already done. And, unless I am officially sold on something, whether it be the title of this blog or the overall look of my web presence in general, I will mull over it until it feels right. Sometimes I give it a week to decide if it stays or goes; sometimes it takes me longer (usually the simple issue of a busy schedule).

Anyway, it was time for a change. The overall look and layout of this blog had been driving me mad for quite a while. And, while I've been changing it off and on, nothing had quite satisfied me visually. So, today I finally got a chance to mess around with Blogger and to create new designs in Illustrator. Not only am I pleased the simple, clean, new header, but I'm glad I was able to use my own design. I hadn't had time before to work this out, and so I'd been using the pre-made templates. You can only customize those so much, and sometimes it's still not quite right. I have yet to learn the html tricks that will allow me to customize the side bars to my liking, but that will have to wait/

I also changed the title from "The Colors of Joy" to "A Stroke of Joy." Who knows... maybe it will change again, but for now, at least, I just like this better. Sort of the play on words I'd originally wanted when I started this blog, and it reflects my interest in fine art as well as design. I think I will be more likely to update this blog, now that I can tolerate the new layout.

The Baking:

I decided last night that it was time to start getting rid of my cocoa powder, so I made some chocolate cupcakes (they happened to be vegan and were delicious).  I want to start buying ethically sourced ingredients, especially chocolate. But, rather than toss all of the possible, unethically sourced items I've already ignorantly purchased, I will just try to hurry through it, so as not to cause any child slave to have worked in vein all the more.

I love baking. Especially with chocolate. But since my recent discovery of slavery in the cocoa industry, I can no longer go through life and think of chocolate the way I used to. I cannot eat chocolate, bake with it, or buy it... unless I know that it has been ethically sourced. That means the cocoa farmers get paid what they deserve, and, therefore, can sustain themselves without the work of slaves.

If you are reading this, if you believe in freedom for all people, and if you truly desire to make the world a better place... let this knowledge change your life with the hope that it may benefit the lives of those being oppressed. The cocoa industry thrives at the expense of many innocent people. Namely, children. Children who are manipulated into slavery, who are kidnapped from other countries and brought to work the cocoa plantations until they die, or are killed because they are too weak to work. These kids are the same ages as the ones who go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween, filling their bags with chocolate goodies. The saddest difference, besides the obvious one, is that the kids working the cocoa fields have no idea what chocolate even is or what it tastes like. They have no idea where the cocoa goes, or that it's used to make the delicious treats we enjoy.

Do not buy Hershey's products... or Nestle or Mars/M&M or Cadbury products. In fact, you should look up every brand you know and love, and discover what's really in your chocolate.  But chocolate lovers, fear not.  There is chocolate out there that IS ethically sourced.  It might be a little more expensive, but it's worth it to support this cause.

If you are at a loss for what company might be good, Green&Black can be found at most major grocery stores.  It's a good place to start and they make good chocolate.

Other favorite B's:

- Books
- Birds
- Bed
- the color Blue
- Brushing my teeth
- Blankets
- the color Brown
- Brainstorming
- the color Black
- Bold lines
- Ball point pens
- Bumble Bees (the cute, fuzzy little guys)
- The Bible

Monday, October 3, 2011

An Alphabet Adventure: Anniversary

Two years ago today, Adam and I began our new life together as husband and wife. While we don't have anything special planned for this day in particular (I'm sick, Adam is at work, and there are many errands to run later), I thought it would be the perfect day to start another new adventure as an artist. And so, today begins my first ever alphabet undertaking.

I have been picking away here and there at various things over these past two years, some art-related, some not. I am inspired to do so many things, and yet I hardly have the time to do them. So, I thought a simple alphabet series would not only inspire me with each letter, but that perhaps it would also help me feel like I'm accomplishing something, one step at a time.

The photos above are from our wedding and honeymoon. Being the artist that I am, I made sure we took a picture of the three distinctly different colored trees, located outside the Yankee Candle in MA. Mmmm... nature's palette!

Some favorite A's of mine:

Acoustic Guitar
Art Ministry
Art Museums
Annual Celebrations

I don't know what will come next in this alphabet, but I hope to have a fun time coming up with all the things that inspire me.