To Pursue Happiness

Today I hold sadness. There’s a certain funk that rolls around like a plague. I catch it, I heal it; I catch it, I heal it. No one controls my mood but me- no one controls my outlook & attitude, but me. Then someone tell me why I am feeling so out of control. Why can’t I tell myself, this is what’s right, right now. You’ll do what you want soon enough. You’ll be who you want to be. I can’t let the cube define me- but it is. It’s sucking the life out of me, and cheating my time. Though I think… 35 hours a week out of 168: It’s not even that bad. Let’s see I sleep 56 hours… work 35… You’d think the left over 77 would be enough for me. It’s not. So far it has been an absurd amount of time for me to settle with.

Get out, get out, get out. It’s running through my head like they’re the last words I’ll ever mutter. My heart beats faster thinking I’ve got 7 hours left in this chair- it’s nearly deafening. Thumping into my ear drums and wavering my palms. I already know I’m unhappy- point and match; do I accept it and learn to live with it, or change it and be unrealistic?

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Though mildly upset, I settle into my rain boots for a weekend of wool socks and puddle jumping. I could hardly open the blinds knowing what the world looked like on the other side. So much of that grey I long to forget. The trickle of droplets seems unusually agitating; I love this weather- what’s making it unbearable? Is it the mere fact that my mind distances itself so far from Monday morning I forget how to put energy into the present moment? That must be it. I’ll settle for a homemade recycling center.

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I promised Caramel Apple Tales.. here you have them.

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We chose to use Kraft Caramels, rather then making the caramel like my previous recipe listing had called for. Note: Trust the package to number of apple ratio given on packages =] Or be stuck with 7 extra bags!

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Gala, Honeycrisp & Granny Smith; All relatively tart & crisp!

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Cakepop sticks- I worried whether they would hold, worked like a charm.

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Roll in your caramel- it’s suggested to wait 30-45 seconds before rolling in toppings. If too runny and hot still the toppings may slide off… but then, who wouldn’t want a chocolate/caramel/walnut disc =]

If you’re going to do melt chocolate put your apple in the fridge before wrapping… in fact, put them all in the fridge before wrapping, it will cut down on stick-age!

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The Finished Product!

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To Come Tomorrow…. Gluten Free Basil/Oregano Personal Pizzas!

“I will accept and change the way I think, I will put less pressure on myself to fit a mold, I will see myself as an individual and have faith that all will mend with time. While accepting the year of the cubicle, I will seek opportunities to grow. I will decide steps to be taken next and plan on the pursuit of happiness.” 

Oct. 15, 2012

 

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To Live & Be, Gluten-Free!

Despite the fact that yesterday I finally was too busy at work to blog- the week has flown by. Which after thinking about this, it’s nice when I’m at work for the week to go quickly, but damn, it sure does make your months go by in a blink. I decided to cure my outrageous ‘loss of time’ anxiety with a little baking & life prep last night. Recently my other half and I (mostly him because I lack self -control around beer, bread & dessert) have taken on the gluten-free lifestyle. While challenging my baking skills in the kitchen, it’s forcing me to learn more about the science of baking. I’ve always wanted to be able to bake from scratch- now that I’ve over come the “boxed cake” epidemic, I want to challenge myself to baking from SUPER scratch. without a recipe- really get crazy in the kitchen.

If I can learn why you need binders, what makes it rise, the right ratios, bake times and temps- I think I can manage to bake something from super-scratch. I’m learning. But gluten-free recipes are very broken down- it’s not like using flour and yeast, which have additives that work off each other to create a “rising” dough. You must carefully choose the right amoutns of things to add- it really does effect the structure of your food. Last night I found a Gluten-Free Bagel Recipe. I’ll admit I was afraid to bake these many times over because alot of recipes have SO many ingredients- but most of these flours (almond, tapioca, corn ect) are already being used in pre-mixed gluten free All-Purpose baking mixes. I like Red Mill’s products. Here’s the recipe & the beauties I baked last night =]

Real Honest Gluten Free Bagels
*This recipe with yield 7 bagels

Bagel Ingredients
3 ¼ cups WW gluten free flour mix (You can use any gluten-free mix)
2 tablespoons yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum

Cooking Items
1 gallon water
4 tablespoons sugar
Cornmeal
Tea Kettle of water
Vegetable oil for greasing a bowl
Kitchen towels
Cookie Sheet (I recommend aluminum)
Large stock pot
Slotted spoon

Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of sugar in the 1 ½ cups of warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the water and stir to combine. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes to proof the yeast (the mixture should get foamy in appearance).

Lightly oil a mixing bowl with vegetable oil and set aside
Set the tea kettle on the stove to get it boiling

To the yeast mixture add the salt, xanathan gum and 1 ½ cups of the flour mix. Use your hand to mix the ingredients together. The mixture will be lumpy so do not fret. Continue to add the remaining flour a ½ cup at a time. When you have about a ½ cup remaining of the flour it is time to turn the dough mixture out onto a work surface. You will really need to knead the dough well to get all the flour to combine. The texture of the dough will be slightly sticky (remember this is not wheat we are dealing with). If you feel the dough is too dry keep kneading it and it should become tacky around the same time that your arms get tired. Form the dough into a nice neat ball and place into the lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel.

Place dough into the oven on the middle rack. DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON. Place a baking pan on the lowest rack in the oven and fill it with the boiling water. Close the oven door and let the dough rise for about an hour. Adding the water into the oven really helps this dough rise. I have tired other methods but this seems to work best.

After 1 hour remove all items from the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and gently punch it down. Divide the dough into 7 equal sections and begin forming the bagels. I like to roll the dough into a ball using a good amount of pressure (for smoothing purposes) and then I gently flatten it and use my index finger to punch the whole in the middle. Let the bagels sit and rise again for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime set a large stock pot with the gallon of water on the stove and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils add the 4 tablespoons of sugar and bring the water down to a simmer. Sprinkle the cookie sheet with a thin layer of cornmeal.

After the bagels have sat for 15 minutes drop 3-4 bagels into the simmering water and allow them to cook for about 4 minutes. After 4 minutes turn them over in the water and let them cook for about 4 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon remove the bagels from the water and place on a kitchen towel. After all bagels have taken a dip in the water arrange them on the cookie sheet.

You can also put a topping on the bagels such as poppy or sesame seeds. To do this you will want to whisk together 3 tablespoons of water with 1 egg white. Before you put the bagels in the oven brush a thin layer of the egg wash on the top of the bagels and sprinkle them with your topping of choice.

Cook the bagels in the oven for 25 minutes and then turn them over and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Let them cool for about a half hour before you try and cut them. If you try cutting them when they are still hot you run the risk of turning them into a glob of dough.

ENJOY! http://theglutenfreecook.com/?p=3

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My other creation (though I’m sure I’m not the first!) Salad in a jar for easy travel. I hate taking my salad AND my dressing to work- thus we have the All in one Salad Jar! Dressing in the bottom, heaviest things go on the bottom, layer up (I did it backwards) but lettuce should be on top! Genius!

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Do you ever eat lunch at your desk because you’re ashamed to be eating poorly? I do, I do! Those days where I’ve got nothing left in my pantry, no lunch, hardly a snack and NO money… it’s one of those. I’m stuck going to… I don’t want to say it,  don’t want to say it =(… a fast food joint *Gulp* It’s like a haunted house, like an untraveled, horrid place for me. I can’t believe I’m about to do it. It’s in these moments that I understand where the obsession with fast food has come from for America. It’s THERE, it’s CONVIENANT, it’s CHEAP… America’s argument? There’s healthy options!… Healthy my ass! Eating a meal for lunch that’s 2/3 of what your daily calorie consumption should be. Unhealthy doesn’t even begin to describe how terrifying these foods are for your body. Yet here I am on a Thursday- driving down to the neighborhood FF joint, why? Because I came unprepared, it’s there and it’s cheap… I’ll have to dig further into the irony of this situation at a later time. I’m hungry, sigh.

To Make, To Bake, To Be Human

Oh sweet, sweet morning!! I have to say I was up in arms yesterday; either something was going on with my computer or the website but all hell was freezing over- I couldn’t post!! My Sunday brought happiness and delight in the season to my heart. It was filled with baking, decorating, crafting and relaxing. I always fear Sundays, it’s the day I seem to find myself counting hours down before I’m faced with Monday Morning again. So I try to wrap my mind around recycled Halloween decorations and crafty crafts that I seem to be making for no reason. Sunday Funday… My favorite Fall Cocktail & Crafts For Days!

Now to the person who sees & recognizes those roasted almonds! I wanted to share this easy, awesome recipe for roasted cinnamon almonds! Don’t ever pay 6 dollars per tiny plastic bag of them at the mall- especially when your  whole house can smell like that!! http://onecharmingparty.com/2010/12/06/holiday-party-treats-cinnamon-almonds/

Baking journey #2 for the day: No Bakes! Now this recipe comes from my Aunt JoJo’s recipe book she made for all of us as we graduated High School, always handy for those favorite family recipes that slip the mind!

Melt Away No Bakes

Combine in sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil

2c. Sugar

4 tbsp. Cocoa

1/2 c. Margarine

1/2 c. Milk

1 tsp. Salt

Remove from heat, add 1/2 c. Peanut Butter and let melt in

(I like to use crunchy but both will work!)

Fold in 3 c. Quick Oats & 1tsp. vanilla

Using generous tablespoons, spoon onto wax paper and let cookies harden (you can put them in fridge if desired)

I brought these to work yesterday and besides the ones that I smuggled for myself to eat at home- they were gone in no time! Next weekend brings on a new venture, catching up with an old friend and making caramel apples! I’m too excited. The “recipe” for these comes from an awesome blog- check it out… http://www.ourbestbites.com/2011/10/gourmet-style-dipped-apples-with-homemade-caramel/ they are beautiful… pictures to come!

I’ll leave you with a favorite message!

To Lose The Gray

Why is it that I am so captivated by being financially organized? It’s like there’s some weird magnetic attraction keeping my attention sub-consciously. I don’t want to put so much emphasis on money and bills and deadlines and savings and investments and budgeting. I don’t want to at all; these things all have power over me. I let these things control my mood, get the best of me and come in between my relationship. So am I wired this way or is it something I can draw back from?

I write a budget down on paper atleast 4 times a month. I make spreadsheets that I only use once. I track my bank account like a bear hunter. Yet it still comes down that I’m micro-managing myself and not letting go. The fact is; if I use the plastic the amounts will go down. So why is it that even though on days I know I didn’t use any money, I still feel the need to get logged onto that infamous bank statement and double, triple check things. It has become an obsession to me, a way to feel better and more confident about way my life is seemingly going and the financial decisions I am making- but why?

So am I wired this way or is it something I can begin to control?

First, I stumbled across the concept of “paying myself.” I actually receive a percentage of my own paycheck. How does that make sense… your paycheck is already your money isn’t it? Not usually. I am always baffled after payday; I get paid and within 3 days my paycheck has dwindled to a 10th of its original size… what?!

Landlords, car loans, student loans, phone bills, car insurance, gas, groceries, cable & electric bills- every one of these entities sucking the green straight out of my wallet. Perhaps it’s this concept that motivates me to live off the grid someday, allowing no company to become my own personal money leach. These things add up so quickly that I feel if I don’t re-budget every month (or even every 2 weeks because I am compulsive) things will all be a lost cause and go to hell.

So I decide to pay myself, let’s say 10% every 1st paycheck and 5% every second paycheck. If I automatically set this up with my bank then who’s to stop it. it will be like it was never there to begin with. Yes, PAY MYSELF- this will be the sole reason for having a Savings account. Whatever I have left over from a pay period I will split up HALF of it into my New Car, Tiny House & Future Farm Accounts! How do I make these my mission statements? How do I live by these? Will it cut down on my OCD and anxiety?

One of my friends used to make me so angry the way he would “not care” about things, brush things off and not stress things that were important. I used to resent him for it. But I now envy him for it. To him everything, everything, simply is what it is. The things we cannot change in life do not bother him- things are simple, things are black and white. Because truthfully WE are the only cause of “gray.” Seeing gray in a situation comes from our analyzing not the truth in the situation. So this is my mission statement: Lose the gray, everything IS what it IS.

I will have to learn how to apply my statement to all aspects of my life (especially my money), stop analyzing and see the BLACK and WHITE of things.

Things are or they aren’t.

It’s yes or no.

It’s do it or don’t do it.

Believe it or don’t.

There’s a solution and a challenge.

Think simply. Think simply. Think simply.

To Harvest & Ponder

Oh sweet, sweet Autumn how you warm my soul. My Sunday filled with gardens, farms and multi-colored trees- mix that with wonderful company, and I was in heaven. We sat for a bit on the patio, though the road is near and the traffic is noisy we were able to enjoy the beauty that Autumn brings us. The setting sun was shining over our building into the golden leafed tress that have scattered their bearings all around out feet. It was quite peaceful as I brought my warm cider (perhaps with a bit a cinnamon whiskey!) to my lips and enjoyed the crisp air, the comforting smells and once again the colors that so amazingly brighten even the darkest of my days. Early in the day came, probably what will be one of our last harvests!

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Multi-Colored Baby Kale – a beauty in salad mix, it’s amazing what the change in temperature will do to your produce  and it’s not always bad!

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Our beautiful Harvest! Cabbage, sweet potato, leaks, chives, Striped Zebra/red paste/Heirloom Tomatoes, Green- Cigarette- and Bulgarian Carrot Peppers! Huzzah!

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Smile Leaks!

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Once we got this sucker cleaned up the color was amazing! Such deep, beautiful purples!

We’ve also removed quite a few pepper plants and brassicas, sad day- but there’s always a joy! In their place we’ll be planting garlic! Planting it now before the first serious frost/ground freeze will allow the garlic to become established. It’ll go dormant over the winter allowing them to grow even larger and be more plentiful in the Spring- earlier garlic always welcomed!

I capped off the weekend making some Halloween decorations and starting my new crocheting project- an ear warmer. I’ve always been so naive not wanting to count my loops. Well I guess that doesn’t deserve me the right to be irritated when my scarf turns in to a triangle! So counting it is, the color is a light multi-shade brown- very fuzzy. I’m feeling optimistic for my week, the weather is the driving force for my motivation, the crisp air pushing me to get through the office. The smells and colors keeping me on my toes to enjoy and pay attention to every day. Bring on the sweaters & socks!