A Very Crystal Christmas, My 2018 Christmas EP, is Out Now!

 

SPOTIFY

YOUTUBE MUSIC

APPLE MUSIC

DEEZER

ITUNES

GOOGLE PLAY

AMAZON MUSIC

 

I think this is the fastest I’ve ever put out another release, since Melodies Across Time came out last month.  But I wanted to get holiday music out nice and early so I had time to enjoy the holidays and not stress over releasing an EP, so in enters A Very Crystal Christmas!  Not to say I won’t do more holiday covers in December, just really wanted to get out my annual Christmas EP early instead of stressing over it in December…like I did last year, erk.  Gotta say it’s a lot nicer knowing if I want to do more Christmas music this year, I can with 0 stress because this is out.

 

Last year, I did my Christmas music all a cappella and really enjoyed it.  So I’ve decided to make my Christmas covering tradition just that:  A cappella Christmas music for the season.  For me, it just reminds me of the old Dickens style Christmases of Carolers singing with only their voices, and that beautiful haunting, comradery  feeling you get and the warmth you feel when you pass them by knowing oh, it is the holiday season.  So I guess that’s also why even though I could use instrumentals, I just always flock to doing a cappella.

 

But enough rambling, I’ll post the links once again below!  Have a wonderful holiday season, and  enjoy the EP if you’d like to add it to your Christmas listening!

 

SPOTIFY

YOUTUBE MUSIC

APPLE MUSIC

DEEZER

 

ITUNES

GOOGLE PLAY

AMAZON MUSIC

 

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Baking Pie By Ear – My 2018 Thanksgiving Pie Making Experience

A post that isn’t just me sharing my music releases?  Gasp!  But in all seriousness, if you follow this blog many apologies for the radio silence this year.  I’ve just been really busy with other things, mainly my music releases, which take up a lot more time to actually produce to streamable quality, and that doesn’t even include working with my album artist on designs and sniz.  I’ve pretty much converted to being more of a Spotify person than a YouTube person, though I do still post on YouTube here and there – but if you want to see more activity for me, Crystal Dennis on any online music store, and bam there you go XD
But I didn’t want to talk about music this post.  If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that I’m also into baking.  Probably just as much as making music – I got into it last year and am deep diving even further into more techniques, growing my baking skills and confidence.  This year, as a family Christmas gift, we got a new oven because ours was really on the low side as far as temperature  control goes – using this new one, I’m just like wow!  Such a world of difference, really even baking and all of the recipes that I’ve tried and thought I failed at, I want to retry and see if they’ll turn out better now that I have a far more powerful oven.
This Thanksgiving, I was on pie duty.  I had practiced making an apple pie earlier this month, and it didn’t come out too hot.  But I did that on purpose, so I would know what to do, what to fix, and how to tweak it, and doing that totally paid off because this time the apple pie came out great.  The other pie I did was pumpkin, and did a little spin on it – I watch a lot of YouTube videos for baking, and one of them showed to use a gram cracker crust for the pumpkin pie.  That helped me save tons of time on that pie, and I only had to make the pumpkin custard.  I was super nervous, because I made them on Tuesday, and we were saving them until Thursday so I wasn’t able to try them until yesterday.

 

 

But I was worried for nothing!  Both of them came out great.  The only thing was I didn’t chop enough apples, so the apple pie didn’t get filled the entire way.  But me and my Mom chopped an apple into a flower bloom pattern, drizzled the left over sauce from my pre-cooking of the apples, and sprinkled some  cinnamon sugar on the top.  I like to use a shortbread crust for the apple pie, because I started really enjoying shortbread after trying a recipe (it’s such a versatile dough!) and bam I got my apple pie recipe.  I’ve seen some people say not to pre-cook the apples, that you don’t have to blind bake the crust:  But I tried not blind baking the crust the first go of apple pie, and the crust came out all  mushy and gross.  Now I feel like with my new oven, that may not be the case, but honestly I just like the product you get from blind baking the crust – the exact texture and consistency  I want from my crust, and same goes for pre-cooking the apples.  I’m wondering now though, should I pre-cook all fruit for fruit pies?  I’m more of a custard pie person, so getting into fruit pie baking is super fun.

 

I’ve gotten into pie baking in general honestly.  Before I was like meh, cake is better than pie.  But after making some homemade pies, I see a world of difference between homemade and store bought.  I’m really excited to explore pie making, and perfect my technique with it.

 

One huuuuge tip I can give to beginning fruit pie makers, is cut more fruit than you think you’ll need.  I cut four apples, and thought because I cut huge apples, that I’d only need three.  I forgot that apples shrink when you pre-cook them, so I probably should have chopped up five, or even six if I wanted to do the design I did on top.  But this was a really happy accident, because I love the design me and my Mom came up with to improvise filling the crust fully.  And, it really isn’t’ that bad:  there’s just a gap between the edge of the crust and the filling.  Like I said, next time I’ll chop way more apples than I need!  I have tons of apples left over, so perhaps I’ll make another one.
And with that, my holiday baking season is here, yay!  Summer was a huge bummer, because I love baking and it was far too hot to do so.  But now that the season is here, I’m all ready and prepped to bake up a storm!  So far on my list are candies (I bought special candy melts that I’ve tested and are fab) gingerbread, cookies, more pies…ugh I love holiday baking so much, can’t wait to get going!
I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving, and have a great holiday season!

Melodies Across Time, a Chrono Trigger EP is Out Now!

 

Spotify

YouTube Music

Apple Music

Deezer

iTunes

Google Play

Amazon Music

 

Hoo boy, I didn’t realize my last post was when I last released some music, but here we are again with a new music trailer and no blog posts in between.  Really need to get better at posting, a lot has happened in my life this year!  But one of the major things I’ve been doing is putting out frequent music releases, and that’s pretty much taken up the majority of my time.  I do miss blogging though…time for a balancing act next year XD
If you Liked The Crystal’s Call, then here’s some more video game music with lyrics, this time from Chrono Trigger!  Melodies Across Time is a huge labor of love, it took me about five months to make because Chrono Trigger music is deceptively hard to arrange when it sounds so siple!  I’ll have to go into that more in a vlog…which I also need to get back into doing…ugh I need to be less hyper focused on things XD
Links to all stores are above, hope you enjoy the album if you take a listen!  Some Christmas stuff is coming soon, so next will probably be another music post!

The Crystal’s Call – A Final Fantasy Tribute Album is Now Available!

 

I’ve been working on this release since December of last year, so I’m beyond happy to announce it’s now available to stream and purchase!  The Crystal’s Call is a Final fantasy album that compiles my Final Fantasy covers into one EP.  There are two never before released tracks on there as well!

 

If you’re new to my style, I’m heavily inspired by folk and indi music.  So I like to add lyrics to the video game music I adore, and do them in a folk singer-songwriter style.  Final Fantasy as a series is near and dear to my heart, so I really hope you enjoy this EP!  You can stream and purchase it at the links below:

 

Spotify

Apple Music

Deezer

iTunes

Google Play

Amazon Music

 

Hope you enjoy the album, and thank you so much for listening!

I’m Back! An Imprompto Leave of Abscence

So I know I haven’t been super active on here in general, but for the past month I wound up having to get my computer fixed, so didn’t have a ton of access to the computer.  I had a really old phone  I could do limited stuff on which was a Godsend, and my brother was letting me use his computer here and there for small things.  I didn’t want to hog his computer though, so didn’t do toooo much.  I remember last year I did an intentional media fast where I just wasn’t going on unless I needed to, and having one forced on me this year honestly was really nice, and something I wasn’t expecting!
At first it bothered me, because I have a lot of projects going on.  I have an EP I wanted to post up, a document I was working on and all in all it just was really annoying to have all of that draw to a hault because of my computer deciding to randomly die on me.  Plus the anxiety of will my computer work again?  Really made me discouraged.

 

But luckily, my family helped me and having a PS4 to play on really helped my stress levels stay to a minium.  And also luckily, I didn’t have to replace my computer!  Just had to get a new charging cord, as per usual.  So now I’m back in business!

 

I luckily didn’t have too much of a backlog, but I’m working on stuff right now.  Like I just posted said album release that is in the process of being sent to stores, and working on setting up a mixing commissions document to post, and start opening up commissions for audio mixing services.  I’ll be sure to post both on here when they’re done, very excited for this new chapter:  I’ve never tried charging for audio mixing services, so I’m a little nervous about doing that.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  We’ll see what opportunities come just by putting that out there.

 

But yeah, I’m back, and very happy about it!  I’ve been working on a new set of original songs, and all in all I’m happy I got a forced media fast.  It’s nice to recharge your batteries and just disconnect from the internet.  I think doing so is what got my inspiration to rework and retool this one original song I didn’t put on A Warrior’s Heart, and turn it into a full on concept for another EP that tells a story.  I’ve been super churning out ideas and lyrics for that one, and I feel like I wouldn’t have decided to just nix the idea I had for the 1st song that inspired the EP originally if not for my lack of YouTubes and the like.  Always a good idea to take a break and refocus yourself, and having to do that is something I wouldn’t have done if my computer didn’t die for a bit.

 

And that’s all for me now.  I’ll update when my album is out.  Hope everyone is doing well!

Crystal Chats Episode 3: Blind YouTubeing vs Sighted YouTubing

Hey guys, it’s been a while!  Honestly my main reason for being quiet over here is I’ve been posting more on YouTube.  I’ve sort of moved to vlogging about things I’d normally talk about here, but I’d still like to keep the blogs active so will try my best to still post on both this and The Blind Nerd!  I have a lot of YouTube links to share from last month honestly, but figured I’d start with the latest one and work my way back XD

 

Since people seemed to enjoy my first blindness related vlog, I figured I’d do another one about how I do YouTube as a blind user.  Why is this episode 3 when last you saw was episode 1, you may ask?  My 2nd one is a vlog about my A Warrior’s Heart EP, that’s why!  I’m thinking of making a playlist for the blindness related stuff, even though every video is going to be called Crystal Chats when I vlog…or maybe I should give it a sublabel, who knows~

 

Either way, enjoy the video!  Will try and be more active over here!

A Warrior’s Heart EP is Now Available to Stream and Purchase!

 

I’ve been working on this EP almost exclusively for the past 3 months, and I’m so happy to say it’s finally out!  A Warrior’s Heart is my first EP of original tracks, all themed around stories of different warriors and their tales.  All of the music is folk/acoustic, aka my genre of choice and I can’t wait for you guys to all listen to it!  The link above is a song from the EP that I’ve posted to market the EP, and is track 3 on the album.  I’ll also be releasing a vlog where I talk about my mixing and recording process for it, which is why I’m keeping this post short – any other details are going to be in the vlog, so stay tuned for that if you like behind the scenes sniz like I do!

 

To stream A Warrior’s Heart, you can go to these places:

 

Spotify

Apple Music

Deezer

 

To Purchase A Warrior’s Heart:

 

iTunes

Google Play

Amazon Music

 

Let me know what you think of it if you listen in the comments below, and have a wonderful day!

A Candy Making Flub, Oops

As much as I keep on telling myself I’d like to get back to baking, I keep on doing different candy making projects.  I still  enjoy baking of course, but candy making is so interesting, and fun, and it’s just tacked on to one of those hobbies I circulate from now:  I was never huge into science, but sugar science is so fascinating to me, and I really wish where I went to school, I was able to have a baking class!  I would have learned science so much easier if cookies were in the mix 😉

 

The latest thing I tried was some toffee.  It’s pretty much the same thing as caramel sauce/chews, accept exchange the heavy cream for butter.  You add chocolate and nuts to it after it’s cooled a little, then have your toffee.  All sounds nice and easy, right?  Well it is if you don’t mess up a step!!  I hadn’t looked at the recipe I had found for toffee before doing it, because I was reducing it anyway.  So in my head, I thought you just pour all of your toppings into the bottom of the tray you’re going to pour your toffee into, and then pour the hot toffee over it and you’re done.  Nope!  I’m an idiot, and didn’t realize that maybe boiling hot sugar would burn chocolate and nuts, and of course, of course it did.  My brother noticed it better than I did – to me, it just tasted like it all was burnt.  He was able to figure out it was a layer on it so I was like “A layer?” and tried scraping off some of the chocolate and nuts, and it tasted better!  Still burnt, but I could taste that the actual sugar and butter side of it tasted fine – which was a huge relief!  I always taste, and feel the  consistency of my candy as I go (very carefully, please don’t do this until the sugar you’ve scooped out is COMPLETELY COOL) and that side of it tasted fine when it was on it’s own, so I was baffled.  So being able to figure out it was the other side of the candy.  Sucks because why didn’t I think of that as a factor, but also is good, because it wasn’t my sugar boiling, I still got it as far as smelling and tasting my sugar for doneness is concerned!  Like I said, huge relief 😀

 

I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the method of pouring stuff over your super hot candy, even if it does say let it cool for five minutes.  It’s just a more visual way of doing things, and I don’t want to try and do a visual thing with something that’s so hot – I have my Mom do the pouring into the pan for now, which I may do eventually but like I said dealing with very hot sugar is not something I have to deal with right now, so why even chance getting burned?  I think the best way for me to do things if I want chocolate on them is to let the candy set, melt chocolate and mix in any add ins I want to the chocolate (nuts, etc etc) and just do a dipping of each candy into said chocolate.  That’s the best way for me to do things, and it works without having any errors, which I wouldn’t have realized without this flub, so I guess I owe it a thank you 🙂

 

I also think that doing things in steps in general is a better way to do baking, and candy making.  Any time I’ve tried to do things the way a recipe says, where you layer things in and then bake just has never turned out right for me.  Not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s just not a method I mesh well with, so will stick to my method of doing things in steps because it’s easier to manage, and airs towards the side of having less mistakes.  I don’t mind mistakes, mind you, what I do mind is using, and wasting ingredients!  There were cashews in this toffee grrr -shakes fist-.

 

Have you learned any good tips from mistakes in the kitchen?  Would love to hear in the comments!

I Did the Disabled Misconceptions Tag!

 

I’ve wanted to vlog for ages, and never could talk about a topic.  I’d try and get nervous and think it sounded dumb then stopped, so I figured actually doing a tag was a great way to start vlogging.  Got this tag from another blind youtuber, so figured why not start with that!  Hope you enjoy, and if you have any other things you’d like to hear me talk about, I’m all ears!

More Truffles Ah Yee

Late night post is ago-go because my brain can’t be quiet at all and sometimes I get the urge to just write so here we are~

 

So I’ve been working on a cheesecake filling for truffles, because cheesecake is my favorite dessert, hands down.  The first time I tried it, the iflling was way too soft for rolling, the candy melts were too thick, and all in all it just was not a pleasant expierence.  So I hunted for some other recipes that weren’t just a cream cheese buttercream, more or less, and found one that was a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream cheese.  So I figured, why not play around with that?  If I replaced the milk or dark chocolate with white chocolate or vanilla candy melts, it would turn out tasting just like a cheesecake.  I was a little bummed I didn’t have white chocolate chips, but figured next time I had them, I’d try it.

 

Well my Mom goes to the store, and being the amazing Mom she is, she found white chocolate chips and picked them up, because she  knows I’ve been experimenting with truffles!  I was super pumped, and ready to try my hand at it again.  I beleive they’re candy coating chips, but when I melted them they were so smooth and easy to work with, far easier to work with than the cany melts before which are far better to use as a filling instead of coating.

 

I also tried rolling in chocolate chips first, and they taste great, but at room temp they get mushy.  Not to a melted point, but they’re a little ooey-gooey and I like being able to pick up solid chocolate.  I loved them so much that I made another batch today, for 2 reasons:  first time I tried this recipe, the centers were still softer and hard to roll.  It was doable, but I just wanted a more solid center to mess with, so added twice as much white chocolate to cream cheese.  It worked!  The fillings were way easier to handle, and roll.  I also did that to see if a harder filling would make the milk/dark chocolate not get soft on the outside, and nope!  It still does.  I had read that chocolate chips were bad to use for candy coating, and never realized why until using actual candy coating on the 2nd half of my batch because I ran out of chocolate chips.
I did a room temp test, leaving both truffles out all day.  The chocolate chip covered ones got soft, but the candy coating covered ones stayed hard, and kept that bite to it I want a hard candy shell to have!  It’s so rewarding to have that work, and know there’s a store right in the mall for me to buy amazing candy melts that work as well as these ones did!  I’m still amazed that they stayed hard all day, it’s so great!
It made me realize that the tools of the trade are important.  Like I said, I’ve read in tons of places to use candy coating, and not WIltin, but was liek psssh whatevs I’ll use what I have.  But after dealing with a coating I don’t have to temper, tha tmelted like silk, and that set in the time it took me to roll the last truffle in the chocolate, I’m sold on the candy coating way of making truffles.  I’m going to probably stock up on both white, and molk chocolate flavors of these, so excited that I can use these for candy, and stick with using chocolate chips for baking!  Super pumped that I got a cheesecake filling recipe I really like to, and that I made it by doing some test kitchen attempts before I found something that worked for me, and using a recipe as a basic guideline.  Baking level up, +2!