The Valentine Cupcakes

I was supposed to write this blog post last night then brownout happened. We had power interruptions three times yesterday. I can feel the summer heat now even if it frequently rained hard the past few weeks.  Ok, enough excuses.

I practice effortless baking. Yes, the cupcakes in the previous blog post came from a box. I made my birthday cake and our Christmas fruit bars from the box.  Hey, I made a tiny bit of effort mixing the batter and watching the oven (making sure I won’t burn the house down).

I bought these cupcake mix when I went to Cebu in October last year. I was supposed to bake them for Christmas but we had too many food for Christmas and  I got lazy busy so these boxes remained in the cabinet.

The funny thing is that this is the same brand Max use for her cupcakes in ‘2 Broke Girls’. A friend of mine suggested that I should watch this TV series and by episode 13, Max cupcake secret is out.  Coincidence!

Can you see my cupcake boxes? Now where can I get those other cake boxes? Hmm. (Photo: screen capture)

 I just followed the instructions in the box.

This is the confetti cupcake before baking. Can you see the specks of colors?

This is how it looked after baking. These are the yellow cupcakes.

I wanted to frost my cupcakes to make it look fancier. It was Valentine’s day so there was a reason to be fancy.  (Do I even have to have a reason?) I got the buttercream frosting recipe from the  The vanilla cupcakes in that site looked pretty. I chose this one because the usual royal icing used by cake decorators uses egg whites. Uncooked egg=salmonella. What they usually do is beat the egg whites over simmering hot water to heat the egg at a certain temperature that will kill any bacteria.  Too many steps for the effortless baker so buttercream it is!

Using my mother’s 30-year-old cake mixer,  I followed the recipe.

Photo of the mixer taken 2 yrs ago.

The recipe used buttercream and confectioner’s sugar.  I did not buy food coloring. The best thing I can find in the house is a sachet of Tang grape flavor.  So I mix in the powder until I get the color I like.

Photo from Kraft Foods

I also do not have a piping bag and those tips that can create fancy rosettes.  I have zero-experience in cake decorating.  What I had was a plastic bag where I cut a hole in the corner after I filled it with frosting.

Tada! This is the finished product.

Pick a cupcake! Thank you, Duncan Hines.

Verdict: the cupcakes are good. The buttercream frosting is a bit sour because of the Tang.   We scraped off the frosting when we ate the cupcake. We kept the frosting in the fridge and used it to butter our toast (and kamote) the next day. 😉


Source: via Juliette on Pinterest


Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

I cannot claim to be a Whitney Houston fan. I did not follow her career. However, I do acknowledge her voice is captivating and powerful. Her untimely death is a great loss to the music industry.

The Dubai Fountain paid tribute to Whitney Houston’s legacy though a fountain show choreographed to “I  Will Always Love You”.

In the recent Grammy Awards, Jennifer Hudson also paid tribute to Whitney Houston.

Last week, in a Lea Salonga fan group, we were busy talking about the BYU feature on Lea Salonga. When Lea Salonga auditioned for Miss Saigon, her audition piece was “On My Own” from Les Miserables. When Claude-Michel Schonberg asked her to sing another song, she sang “The Greatest Love of All”. This is a clip of from the BYU feature with Lea singing her version of “The Greatest Love of All”. Little did we know, this turned out to be a fitting tribute to Whitney Houston.

Incidentally, I wrote a blog post on singing last December. I cited “The Greatest Love of All” as one of the three songs that I know from the heart. I did mention Whitney Houston in that post.

RIP, Whitney Houston.

Ten Things That Make Me Smile

I came across this thought question.


I have been busy lately that I felt the need to pause because I might miss something beautiful. A lot of things make me smile. I am really easy to please.

1. The nephew.

Two weeks ago, the little guy was taken to the hospital for fever and abnormal bowel movement. It was amoebiasis. When the IV needle was inserted to his tiny vein, he cried his heart out.  I told him, “Don’t worry, you won’t remember this happened.”  I said it with conviction. Like him, I had amoebiasis when I was a baby. I don’t remember it happened. That was the first (and the last) time I was hospitalized.  I even think that my stomach  can fight any other bacteria who want a piece me because my stomach already won a war against amoeba. In college, there was a food poisoning incident in my dorm. Nothing bad happened to me even if I ate the questionable embutido. Here’s the little guy two days after being confined.  Doesn’t he make you smile?

2. The pet.

My aunt’s dog is now big. He barks at strangers. His barks are deep and strong. He can startle anyone. It can be embarrassing when we have guests because he barks at them as if they are criminals. He is truly a guard dog. The only command he understands is “Sit!”.  He is funny whenever there is a siren blasting in the streets. He apes the sound by howling so loud and so creepy.  I took the chore of walking him in the morning and in the afternoon. He makes me feel like I am protected from harm. People we meet while walking would change their course upon seeing this large dog. That makes me smile.

3. Little Treats.

I am home most of the time. My cousin who works nearby would take his lunch in my aunt’s house. He would drop by my room to take a short nap. We would catch up on the latest news. Whenever his payday is near,  I would egg him to buy me pizza, coke, ice cream and whatever food that catches my fancy.  It takes awhile before he gives in to my requests. It takes constant nagging. ha!  The other day, he brought me ice cream cake. It pays to be persistent (and annoying! ;))

4. My penmanship.

When I uploaded a scanned copy of a page in my journal in college, a few of my friends commented on my pretty handwriting. Too bad, the digital age ruined my nice penmanship. I am trying to recapture the lovely penmanship. When I get it right, I smile. When I don’t, I can always try again.

5. The weekly trip to the market.

This is a chore I do not like doing. The market has wet floors. I don’t like the smell and I always go home smelling like a fish. But I have no choice but to go with my aunt because I need to save money. I pitch in my food budget with their budget and I join them in their meals. It is a clever trick. I do not have worry what I will eat everyday. HA! This is also a weekly bonding activity with my aunt.

When I was on a trip, my cousin accompanied my aunt to the market. The vendor noticed my absence.

Vendor:  Asa imong anak? (Where is your daughter?)

Aunt, without blinking: Nilarga. (She went on a trip.)

When I got back, I went to the market with my aunt again. I have a habit of just waiting for her in one corner while she hops on one stall to the next.  The vendor noticed me.

Vendor: Asa imong Mama? ( Where is your mom?)

Me, pointing at my aunt: Tua. ( There.)

We anticipated a long conversation so we did not bother to correct. It is a long explanation: She is my aunt, single, without child. She is my mother’s sister. My mother passed away. No, I don’t live with her. Yes, I’m single. No, I don’t have a job. It is exhausting. The market trip gives me my weekly dose of iodine. 😀 This appetizer only costs Php 5.00!

6. Manageable health problems.

We had a health scare. Last week, my aunt’s urine was reddish. We went to the doctor immediately.  She underwent various laboratory tests. Her ultrasound showed  kidney stones. The x-ray showed an enlarged heart.  The electrocardiogram show a left bundle branch block. She has high blood pressure. Cholesterol is high. Uric acid is high. The good news: no diabetes. The results were alarming for my aunt because she never had health problems before and now she is bombarded with a lot of medications. She  was prescribed medicines for each condition. Every time she takes her medications, she frowns at the prospect of swallowing bitter pills. We often encourage her to see the positive side: be thankful for the reddish urine. There are medical conditions that do not show symptoms until they got worse. Because of the blood in her urine, we found out about her other problems. Good thing there are medications available. There are some diseases with no cure.  We kid her: “You have a big heart, literally and figuratively”.


taken from

7. The gift of sight.

I do not have a perfect vision but it makes me smile that it did not worsen. I started wearing eyeglasses when I was 11. I had bouts of severe headaches. My parents suspected I had problems with my sight. True enough, after I had my eyeglasses, I never had headaches as severe as before.  My first eyeglasses, they say, were correctional ones. They would correct my 25/25 vision.  Through the years, I have a love and hate relationship when it comes to wearing eyeglasses. I’ll wear them for a year and quit wearing them a year after. In 24 years, I have had five eyeglasses with different grades: (25/25, 100/75, 50/50, 100/50, 50/50).  Now, I have astigmatism with a 50/50 vision. I am glad that through the years, it never got worse. I know friends who are blind without their glasses. I’m not.

8. Music. I have reached the age where I do not recognize new singers or new songs. I get my updates from my cousin who is in high school. I stick to my perennial favorites like Lea Salonga and Josh Groban. Thanks to Glee, YouTube and friends who are music fans.  My playlist now includes Train, One Republic, The Script.  A friend shared this music video. It’s upbeat and fun. I heard my cousin sing the song a number of times but I did not appreciate it much until I saw this video.

9.  Family and friends.

I am an only child and single. At 33, I became an orphan. Yet I do not feel alone nor lonely. I have an extended family in my aunts, uncles and cousins. Family and friends are there to keep a smile on my face. I cannot choose my family yet I was lucky enough to be blessed with people who love me.  Friends, near or far, put a little smile on my day. It may be through witty banter with their cute kids, a funny status update or a simple compliment. I am thankful for the family and friends I have. They have managed to touch my heart in many ways.

10. Faith.

So, what are the ten things in your life that make you smile?

ViHart’s back

I have been busy that I can’t seem to find the time to blog. I have quite a long list of blog topics I want to write on but life happens.

ViHart completed two more videos on mathematics and nature.

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