Sugar Cookies

This blog post came to mind when I made sugar cookies a few days ago. I wanted to share with you my all-time favorite sugar cookie recipe. These cookies are perfect for decorating (especially with royal icing or buttercream) and only take one bowl to make! Here is a picture of how mine came out:

(I ended up using cookie cutters and shaped them. I also frosted them with buttercream 😋)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Domino® Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons for sprinkling Domino® Granulated Sugar (optional)

 

Instructions:

Step 1

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Step 2

In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat sugar, butter, and shortening at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat mixture until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour and mix until combined.

Step 3

Using a small ice-cream scoop, drop dough onto lined sheet pans. Flatten slightly with hand. Sprinkle the additional 2 tablespoons of sugar on top of the cookies (optional). Bake for 8 minutes. Let cookies rest for 5 minutes. Remove from cooking sheets to cooling racks.

Recipe by:

https://www.dominosugar.com/recipe/classic-sugar-cookies

Thanks for reading! 👋

Frances Dowell Story

Writing a story has always been a challenge for me. Whether it was a short story, or a longer book, I never felt like I could write in a creative way that grasps the reader and has a flow to it. It’s hard to come up with an idea and put it into words, which is why being able to write my story was such an accomplishment.  🏆

Through my writing process, I was taught many lessons about how to write a story from Frances Dowell, a very talented author. One of her lessons was about all the parts of a story and how they fit together. The parts of a story include the opening action scene, the background check, sticks and stones, the big monster problem, and finally the resolution: 

  1. The first thing before beginning to write is coming up with What If questions. These questions become the central theme of a story. For example, “What if there was a wizard named Harry Potter?” What If questions help to get out of a writer’s point of view and lead in towards making a general idea for what your story is about. My What If question that I chose to write about is, “What if dinosaurs were still alive?” 🦕 
  2. After selecting a What If question to write about, the next step is to make an opening action scene. The very first scene in a book is almost considered one of the most important scenes. This is because the first scene is the reader’s first impression of a book, so it has to pull the reader in. To make an opening action scene, the only real requirement is that something has to happen that changes the course of events. Most people think of this as an explosion or physical action of some kind, but it can also be something else, just as long as it sets the protagonist on its journey through the story. My opening scene was actually set in the future, and my whole story was working up to that moment. 🧩
  3. After the opening scene, things should start to calm down in a story. In the opening scene, there were no details given about the protagonist’s life, so it was left a mystery (which is part of what pulls the reader in 📚). This is where the background check comes in. The background check fills the reader in about who the character is, such as things like their age and where they live. I used the background check in my story to describe the protagonist with details like these.
  4. Besides the big monster problem and the opening action scene, a story has to have “bumps” on the way. These mini-problems in a story are described by Frances as “sticks and stones in the path to the boulder”. This conclusively means that the mini-problems in a story can be worked out easily by the protagonist, like sticks and stones on a path, working its way to the monster problem (boulder). My story is a mystery story, and some of my stick-and-stone problems were the protagonist in risk of being caught many times throughout the story. 🕵️‍♀️ 
  5. Another important scene in a story is the big monster problem. This problem that the protagonist faces is way bigger than the sticks and stones and requires them to face it. For example, in an action movie, the fight scene might be the monster problem. I used this lesson and created my monster problem by making the protagonist face a threat to their neighborhood. 🏠 
  6. And finally, every story needs a resolution. The resolution is where everything in the story is resolved and there are no cliffhangers or untold details. The resolution wraps up the story. Since my story is a mystery story, the resolution was almost completely after the monster problem, since the mystery had already been solved. 🗝

 

After I wrote my story, it was on to revision. One of the most important things that helped me revise my story was the feedback from my classmates and even from Frances Dowell herself! Instead of looking over my own story, I got to listen to other stories and hear feedback on my own to help me revise. I feel like the process of doing this helped me get out of my own point of view and listen to a reader’s perspective. Not only that, I enjoyed reading everyone’s story!

Other than the specific feedback I got from Frances Dowell and my peers, one of the things I learned from this method is that everyone has a different perspective. I thought it was interesting to see the diverse feedback I got and the wide variety of writing styles in each individual story. ✍️ 

As I said before, writing has always been challenging for me. It wasn’t easy, but I am very proud of the outcome. I have never attempted writing a story this long and I am really grateful to have had this opportunity! 😊 

To learn more about Frances Dowell, click Home below:

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Raspberry Tart Recipe 😋

Recipe by:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/raspberry-tart-5201627

Welcome back! This raspberry tart recipe is personally my favorite, so I thought I would share it with you: Enjoy!

(also, look at the very bottom for a cookbook recommendation)

Ingredients

Tart Shell:

pinch of salt

Filling:

1 cup raspberry preserves

Directions

Special equipment:

a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.
  3. Butter one side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Spread the tart with raspberry preserves and place the raspberries, stem end down, in concentric circles. If you are making a square tart, place the raspberries in rows. Serve immediately.

 

If you are a friends TV show fan, and like to cook, here is a cookbook I would recommend:

Window or Mirror: A Tale of Magic ⭐️

Earlier in the year, I read A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer. A Tale of Magic is about a girl who works to change the unfair world she lives in. And yes, it includes magic. The introduction (as told from the actual book) is down below if you’re interested in reading it. Also, fans of The Land of Stories will love this book. In fact, it is written by the same author!

A mirror book is a book that reflects some aspect of your life. That similarity can range from something small to something big. A window book is a book that doesn’t reflect your own life, but instead shows you a different perspective. A Tale of Magic is a window book for me. I feel like I am looking through a window at the many different perspectives throughout the book.

Introduction ( 🚨 Warning: may contain some spoilers 🚨 ):

Fourteen-year-old Brystal Evergreen has always known she was destined for great things–that is, if she can survive the oppressive Southern Kingdom. Her only escape are books, but since it’s illegal for women to read in her country, she has to find creative ways of acquiring them. Working as a maid at her local library gives her the perfect excuse to be near them and allows her to sneak a few titles home when no one is looking. But one day Brystal uncovers a secret section of the library and finds a book about magic that changes her life forever.

Magic is despised and outlawed throughout the world–Brystal is well aware of the severe consequences the book may bring—but her curiosity gets the best of her. By reading some of the text aloud, strange phenomena begin to occur and Brystal discovers she is capable of magic! And the more she practices it, the harder it becomes to hide.

After being caught and convicted, Brystal is saved by a mysterious woman named Madame Weatherberry. The woman takes Brystal to her Academy of Magic and teaches her to become a fairy. While Brystal studies magic and befriends the other students, Madame Weatherberry is suddenly called away on suspicious matters. When she doesn’t return, Brystal and her friends work together to find and save their instructor. Along the way, the students discover Madame Weatherberry’s true intentions for the academy are not what they seem, and they come face to face with a sinister plot that puts the fate of the world, and the fate of magic itself, in grave danger…

https://thelandofstories.com/ataleofmagic

 

January Habit: Stretching

My daily habit for the month of January was stretching. I created a routine of different stretches and each week I would add a few more to it. I chose this daily habit because it was always something I wanted to accomplish and the monthly goal created an opportunity for me to pursue that goal. 🏆

At first, a goal of stretching might sound weird. Trust me, it did for me. However, there are tons of benefits that I was totally unaware of. Stretching is really important for preventing injury, getting stronger, and flexibility. 🧘‍♀️

One of the hardest challenges about a daily habit is keeping a routine. However, I learned that creating and improving a routine (for anything, not just stretching) is actually easier than it seems. You can compare it to something like homework, for example. The hardest thing about doing homework is simply just starting it. Well, that’s the same for a routine. I noticed that once I got into the habit of stretching, it became easier to maintain it. 🗓 

I felt incredibly proud of myself at the end of January. Maintaining a routine and taking a specific time out of the day to stretch was a challenge, but I continued to improve my routine and stay on track. I realized that throughout the month I got increasingly more flexible and my muscles hurt less after doing some type of exercise. One of the most good-feeling related things one can do is accomplish a goal, especially if it is one that takes a while to accomplish and requires determination. 🎉

What Punctuation Am I?

I feel like I am a comma because even when bad things happen to me, I am able to move on from them and continue looking on the bright side, just like a comma moves on to another part of the sentence. The comma also is able to see both sides of the story and never leaves out any part of it. For example, “I like dogs, but I also like cats”. If the comma was never a part of that sentence, the sentence wouldn’t have included the other side of the story, which in this case is liking cats as well as dogs. The comma is calm, unlike exclamation marks who are excited, question marks who are always asking questions, and parentheses who are always whispering. Man those parentheses get on my nerves. Anyway, those are the reasons why I am a comma.

Habits

From November to December the LA class started with a 30 second plank and gradually added on 10 seconds every two days or so. I thought this was a fun experience and it challenged me to have the determination to be able to stick to a daily habit. Having this daily habit got increasingly harder as we increased the time, but I am proud that I never gave up on it. At the beginning, I had no idea how I was ever going to do a plank longer than 2 minutes. Even so, I managed to overcome that and plank for 5 minutes at the end. 

 

My daily habit that I am working on currently is stretching. It might sound weird at first, but stretching every day has a ton of benefits including injury prevention, increased flexibility, and more. Especially for an athlete like me, it’s important to stretch. So, I created a daily habit of stretching. This particular daily habit isn’t as hard as the planking, but I challenge myself to add a stretch about every 3 days.

Wisdom Tale Comic: Antlers

I chose to make a comic for the wisdom tale Antlers. Antlers sends a message to say that everything serves a purpose. I chose Antlers because I like how the story interprets the moral and puts it into the eyes of a deer and a hunter. Even though the tale is very short, it goes through the same process of having a character with a series of events that changes their perspective, which is how the moral came to be. I also just like the fact that it has animals instead of humans as the main character. I guess it is just more interesting that way to me 🦌 🌲.

I made it by (1) using Comic Life to make the layout and (2) using Sketchbook to make the illustrations. Here are the steps of how I made the comic:

  1. download Comic Life
  2. make a new comic design
  3. choose your layout for your comic
  4. add text to it (speech bubbles, thought bubbles, etc.)
  5. go to Sketchbook and create multiple images depicting the events in your story. I drew with a black marker to make the outline of what I wanted to draw and then filled it in with color.
  6. take screenshots of those pictures for your story
  7. add the screenshots to Comic Life in the image bubbles with each blank space.
  8. That’s it 💭 📖

 

Art!

I have recently started Art as a new fine art. I am enjoying all the fun activities we have done so far, so I thought I might share some of the things with you 🎨:

 

The first activity we did was making a picture of a face. Just a typical face, with a nose, mouth, eyes, you get it. This sounds pretty simple, right? Well, there was a twist. We could not use markers or any other drawing supplies, and only make the picture with things out of our backpack. I used paper to create my face 🗒 🙂.

 

The second activity we did was take pictures of all the art supplies we have at home and then draw that picture. I used a plain piece of paper and a pencil to recreate the image on a drawing  ✂️ ✍️.

 

That’s all we have done so far! I am really excited to do more fun activities 🖼