Creative Cooking

Cantaloupe mini-cupcakes. Yum

 

Today my creative juices inspired me to bake something out of cantaloupe.

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Cantaloupe mini-cupcakes

Every summer I enjoy this sweet melon. I eat it cut fresh, in salads or in smoothies. It’s a refreshing flavor, but I have never baked with it.

I decided to try making a sweet bread with it. You know, like banana bread. I didn’t want to use the same recipe as banana bread and just switch out the banana and use cantaloupe. That just didn’t seem right. Cantaloupe has its own sweet flavor and I didn’t want it to taste just like banana bread – except it has cantaloupe in it. So I revised a couple recipes for the cantaloupe.

Instead of making a loaf of bread, I like to make mini-muffins or mini-cupcakes.  Everyone loves popping a mini-muffin in their mouth on the way out the door. And they’re easy and fun to pack in a lunch.

Here’s the recipe I used and baked at high altitude.

  • 2 cups very ripe cantaloupe puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a mini-cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and the cantaloupe puree.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and pumpkin spice together.
  4. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients.
  5. Add the walnuts and stir until mixed through.
  6. Spoon into mini-cupcake pan filling about 3/4 of the way.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Or if you don’t like putting your arm in a hot oven try this trick.
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    Use spaghetti instead of a toothpick

    Use a piece of spaghetti instead of a toothpick. It’s longer and you won’t have to reach into the oven as far. And you won’t have to throw it away like the toothpick. Keep the spaghetti and cook it later!

  8. Makes about 60 mini-cupcakes.

These come out  moist and yummy, with a delicate flavor. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Creatively speaking,

Cynthia

 

 

Freelancing

Freelancing is a great way to make an income. It may be scary to step away from the corporate grind to go it alone. Freelancing could allow you to spend more time with your family and provide a decent income. Or it could suck up every waking minute of your time for a minimal income and you’ll hate it.

Starting out as a freelancer isn’t easy unless you already have a huge network of potential clients waiting at your door, which most of us don’t.  So the first challenge is finding the clients. Then there’s  meeting with the clients, presenting a proposal, and waiting to see if they’ll accept it. What if the client rejects the proposal, what then? Should you lower your rate? Promise to do more than the proposal stated? Guarantee to get it done sooner ?

How you respond to those questions is a vital step. If you lower your rate you could get the business, but it probably  won’t help you reach your income goals. It would be like getting hired to work for $20 an hour but when you get there the boss says he’ll only pay $10 an hour. Would you stay and work anyway?

Another potential negative outcome from lowering your rate is that when the client gives you a referral, that referral has been told that if he balks at your price, you’ll cave in and charge less. That’s not good for business! And it’s not vey professional.

The problem is getting the first few clients without having a portfolio or past clients to provide commendations that you can use. This can make you feel like an imposter. Then the “imposter syndrome” starts to creep in. You know the saying  “fake it until you make it” or “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. While doing this you may feel like an imposter for awhile. But think about this, are you good at what you do? If you are, then go ahead and strut those tail feathers proudly. But don’t go overboard and become cocky just be confident in yourself and your abilities. Cocky won’t win clients, confidence will.

Here’s a link for “Charge What You’re Worth” It’s a free 9 lesson course. If you’re new to freelancing or not getting the business you want, take a look at it. It may change your perspective and help you get more clients.

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. It takes courage, confidence, and skill. But it could be the best job you ever have.

 

3 Key Things From #HootEssentials

One of my goals is to  learn about blogging, tweeting, and social media  from a business standpoint. Most of us have a FaceBook page, so we are already part of social media. But it seems different when I’m looking at it from a business viewpoint. Here are the 4 steps I need to learn to become successful at blogging.

  1. How to find people to read my blog.
  2. How to incorporate Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to grow my audience.
  3. How to keep people coming back to my blog.
  4. How to earn money from my blog. – That’s my ultimate goal!

Today I watched a webinar to learn more about social networking #HootEssentials. It was really great!  Here’s a snapshot of the 3 key things I need to learn how to do. The focus of these 3 things was for Instagram. But I think it applies to building an online audience as well.

 

Top 3 gripes about online articles.

I love to write. I have several stories that I started when a topic inspired me, but most are unfinished. It seems like my other creative projects pull me away. Some days, I’m just not inspired to write, or I  have so many other chores to do that I just can’t take the time to write. So I spend the day pondering over the story plot or characters.  Other days, I can write all day and on into the night.

None of my writing has ever gotten much notice. My goal is to learn how to get my blog (or any of my other stories) noticed, or even better to make some money with my writing. This means I have to learn about how to promote myself online. Making money as a blog writer would be my dream job because I love writing. NOT because people promote it as an easy way to get rich. So far I’ve learned that it takes patience, time and skill. And mostly that it is not a get rich quick way to earn a living. Besides, I’m not after get rich quick, I’m after doing what I love and making a modest living  at it.

I’ve searched several sites on the topic of how to promote and make money blogging. Some of the sites look like ‘get rich quick’ schemes. I did find some that have good information. At least from my beginner level experience, it seems like good information. There’s so much information about how to make money blogging, that I decided to start evaluating the sites based on a few criteria (my 3 gripes).

First, I know that typos are a common occurrence online, but why? There are so many spell checker apps available that no one should ever have a typo. I think that if the site owner wants to look professional, she/he should run a quick spell check through the article.

Second is sort of related to spelling, it’s grammar. The spell checker may not find any misspelled words but that doesn’t mean the article is error free. I’ve seen several articles that contain “I’m am” or “I’ve have” it in.  Also in this section, I include using the wrong words, spelled correctly, but misused in the sentence. Like using the word pain instead of the word pane. As in  “Look at my dirty window pain”.  Little mistakes like that make an article difficult to read, at least for me. I’m thinking more about the errors than I am the information presented.

Third, I’ve come across some sites that have terrific information, to start with. Then in order to find out all the real details, I find out I have to pay for it. That to me is a bait and switch technique. I’m sure it works, and those people probably make a lot of money doing it. But I don’t want to make money that way. If the information is for sale, tell me upfront. Don’t suck me into reading 5 pages of material, hinting that the answers are coming. And then tell me I have to pay for it. I hate wasting my time that way.

It doesn’t take much to re-read an article. Most of the time the articles are not that long. And if it is, maybe it’s a good idea to have a friend or co-worker read it over before it’s published. Or better yet, use a spell and grammar checker.

My top three gripes about online articles.

  1. Misspelled words
  2. Incorrect Grammar
  3. Bait and Switch tactics

What do my top 3 gripes about online articles have to do with learning how to make money blogging? It tells me 3 things that make a good article.

  1. An article has to be professional, no mistakes.
  2. It has to be easy to read.
  3. It has to give the reader good information.

My quest to learn about promoting my blog will continue. It will take some time before I can say “I write (or blog)  for a living”. And probably even longer to actually write articles that avoid my 3 gripes and incorporate 3 things that make a good article.

Stay tuned for all the steps I take and things I learn on my way to learning how to make money blogging.

Creatively,

Cynthia

Inspiration from a spider web

Beauty can be found all around us. We just have to stop and look at it. For example, when was the last time you stopped to look at a spider web? It really is a thing of beauty. Water hugs the intricate strands as it dances in the breeze. It’s amazing. And it’s functional.

A spider web can inspire our creative juices. The water reflects the sunshine, it looks like sequence. Voila! Upcycle a t-shirt  by adding sequence. The shape of the web looks like a shawl. Why not knit or crochet a lacy shawl.

That’s a little bit of how my creative mind works. Besides having a creative side, I also have a technical side. These two sides may seem opposite. What does technology have to do with sewing? The answer is creative design.

I love all things creative. Be it designing a new website or making new jewelry, I think it’s all about being creative. So my purpose is to join with others who love doing more than one thing. I’m not going to list all my hobbies, the list would be too long. I’m not bragging because some of my hobbies I don’t do very well. I mention it because I like trying new things.

For example, I recently decided to learn how to make Irish lace. I must admit, I had quite a learning curve. But now I love it. It helps me express my creative elegant side. If I had started this blog a few months ago, you would have gotten the blow by blow steps of my attempts and failures at lace making. And of course, you would get to see the final piece. Which I am happy to say,  will be appearing on my niece’s wedding dress in October!

My journey through this blog will focus on creative projects and resources.  I may even throw in a few recipes. Because I love being creative with food and trying new flavor mash-ups.

So let the creativity flow.