i started making version 4 of my blueberry muffins around 10:30am, figured they'd be done in an hour and i'd be able to bring fresh muffins to my parents around noontime. this batch would include slightly more baking powder (3 tsp) in an attempt to get a better rise and an initial bake at 425°F before dropping down to 375°F.

i left a stick of butter out overnight so it'd be ready come morning. creaming the sugar and butter is the hardest part of the recipe, and i'm no better at it even on my 3rd attempt. i still got chunks of butter stuck in the mixing attachments. i did the best i could, before mixing in the eggs then adding in the dry ingredients. i didn't bother mashing any blueberries this time, just added 1 cup of wild and 1 cup of normal frozen blueberries. i realized that the reason why the batter gets so stiff at this stage is a result of the frozen berries causing the butter to solidify. i baked for 10 minutes at 425°F, didn't notice any significant rise, before baking for 20 minutes at 375°F. the tops were still a bit raw so i baked for another 10 minutes until they were golden brown. the finished muffins had a dome higher than what they were at the 10 minute mark, but nothing so significant that i'd say the extra teaspoon of baking powder did anything.

for my next blueberry muffin attempt, i'd like to streamline the recipe. i think creaming the sugar and butter is a waste of time, and it'd be easier if i can mix all the wet ingredients together (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract) instead of doing it in stages. i also wonder if i can use whole milk instead of buttermilk, as whole milk is more versatile and i use it for other things besides just for making muffins. in a future recipe i'd like to increase the flour portion from 2 to 3 cups for a bigger muffin (though careful not to make them too dry). i also learned i'm mixing dry into wet ingredients, instead of the proper way which is wet into dry.

before i was about to leave i discovered i lost my credit card. i looked everywhere in the house and couldn't find it. i used it yesterday at market basket so i biked back there to check lost & found. they brought out a box full of cards (apparently a lot of people are forgetful): credit cards, bus passes, driver licenses. however, my card was not in the collection. i think the worst part is not knowing. if it's still somewhere in the house, i wouldn't mind, i could just get a duplicate card. but if i lost it outside, then i'd have to cancel the card first before getting a replacement card. fortunately, it's not the first time i've lost my credit card, so i wasn't in any panic, just a little annoyed over the inconvenience. i went online to check if there were any suspicious activities on the card, which there wasn't. i then reported the card as lost and had them issue me a new one which will arrive in about a week.

i didn't have any containers to put the muffins so i put 3 of them in one of the used round pyrex bowls i found, layered a paper towel on top of them, and put everything in an insulated tote bag strapped to my rear bike rack. i didn't get to belmont until 1pm. i had some rice porridge for lunch.

a few things around the house needed fixing. first there was a basement light with a broken pull chain. my father and i had to shut off the electricity so he could reattach the change. then there was a leaking toilet which my mother said she's been complaining about for months now. a small nearly invisible trickle of water continues to flow into the bowl long after each flush. we fixed it about a year ago, replacing the flapper, so it was unusual that the fairly new flapper would already been broken. we tried cleaning the flush valve seat and the flapper, but none of that worked, so we needed to replace the flapper.

we went to home depot, where my father returned the LED ceiling light he bought weeks ago for the kitchen that turned out too big (15", the kitchen light diameter is 11"). we went back to the lighting department to see our options. we were in the wrong section, which was all LED ceiling lights with warm glows, until we discovered all their commercial lighting section further back, which had a more neutral white glow, like the circline fluorescent bulb we currently have at home. we ended up picking an 11" low profile round LED light for $20 which uses 14.3W and puts out 1100 lumens. in the plumbing department, we picked up the same flapper we had before ($5), even though we saw an option for a flapper + replacement flush valve seat ($7).

back at home, we replaced the toilet flapper but it didn't fix the leak. that meant we needed to replace the flush valve seat. i told my father we should return to home depot now, saving us a trip tomorrow. before we left, he wanted to try out the ceiling light. instead of installing it, he manually inserted the wires into a socket to turn it out. the thing we noticed right away that it wasn't very bright. but to really know for sure, it needed to be ceiling-mounted, so i grabbed an extension cable so my father could raise the light to ceiling height. our initial observation was correct, 1100 lumens just wasn't that bright. i checked the light value for a typical circline fluorescent bulb and it was around 1800 lumens at 32W. we needed a stronger ceiling light.

so back we went to home depot, returning everything we just bought an hour ago. they had a 14" flush mount LED light that was 1600 lumens at 24W for $50. they also had even brighter lights - 13" LED versi lite with 1985 lumens at 28W for $50. however at that rating, it comes awfully close to the circline fluorescent we currently have, so it may be better to keep the fluorescent instead. we decided to postpone upgrading the kitchen light until another time. as for the plumbing, we got the flapper + replacement flush valve seat combo we saw earlier. when we returned home, my father said we should wait to repair the toilet until tomorrow, since it involves shutting off the water main.

we set another new solar record today, the most productive day by just 0.01 kWh. there was some hazy high altitude clouds and it got progressively darker by the afternoon (the approaching snowstorm scheduled for later tonight) but it made no difference as we'd already generated the bulk of our electricity. notice that compared to the previous record productive day 2 weeks ago (feb. 3rd), production is starting earlier as the sun begins to rise earlier: sunrise feb. 3rd was 6:56am, but this morning it was 6:38am, an increase of 18 minutes. compare that with june, when the earliest sunrise will be around 5:06am. my mother was doing laundry and running the dryer all day to take advantage of the free electricity. they didn't run the space heaters because it wasn't that cold.

we had leftover hot pot for dinner, which looked similar to sichuan maocai. afterwards i helped my parents book cruise tickets for august.

* riding home in the snow