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!

To Tea & Tomato

This morning there is nothing more welcome then the joy of my tea. I read an article about the healing additives of tea; the power of healing comes not only from the herb- but the experience as well.

“Tea isn’t a casual drink; it requires the careful choice of the best leaves, the patience to wait for water to come to the right temperature, the knowledge of how long to steep, and the time to let the wisps of steam warm your face as you savor every sip.” –Text by Holly Lebowitz Rossiand Lilit Marcus

I’ve taken on some reading material lately that I found very interesting about herbalism and the power of holistic healing. http://www.naturalhealthschool.com/ If you’d like to do some reading as well. But it is all quite interesting the power of herb, vitamins and minerals. My mother and father both suffer from arthritic conditions; I want so badly to persuade them to take on a healthier, herb-enriched diet and practices daily. But the catch is that I must be learned to provide an influential argument. You wouldn’t take lessons on becoming a duck from a penguin would you? So today I enjoy my tea, it’s steam leaving my cheeks warm and my eyes low (though I’m convinced they are avoiding the glare of fluorescent lighting beaming above). Today I choose a Chai Malsala blend by Organic India… oh and in my favorite thrift store find- the right teacup always brings more joy to the tea!

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Another joy of Wednesday- the brilliant dark pink colors of our 2.65 lb.  Polish Heirloom!! How tasty this was in our vegetarian chili! The wonderful beefsteak-like cuts that come from a beauty like this…

With only one thought on my mind (4 hours until I get to run for the door and forget about this place until 8 am tomorrow…) I find solace among mantras. Thoughts and quotes, the beauty in words. And though I’m stuck listening to the click-clacking of keyboards, ringing of phones and complaints of clients- when I reach for power on my computer (fortune cookies these days are a joke, but I found a gem) I’m simply reminded to…


To Love Unconditionally

I have no other words today then to preach the love I have for my Kittens with Mittens. My fats, my Mr. Kitty. A neighbor recently lost their dog- but they have yet to put forth true undying effort to save this little pup (who is lost in the woods after being hit by a car). It makes me sick to think of abandoning my little man. I could never- I would lose anything for that little shit! It is just quite baffling to think of ever leaving him. Today this is all I can think about, I am his person and he is my mooshoo. Everyone has loved unconditionally whether pet, daughter, son, mother father or all- the feeling you get when something is taken away; sickening. Today I make a vow to always stand beside my little man, for better or worse- because, it’s what I signed up for when I scooped him up from under a car at sketchy gas-n-go. My love, my life: cheers to Mr. Kitty (aka Fatts).

 

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

-Anatole France

To Love The Autumn Air

As Autumn is approaching… actually Saturday the 22nd is officially the first day of Autumn, I am thrilled, glorified, ecstatic, pleased, humbled, anxious, hopeful- everything good under the stars- Autumn takes me there. I’m not sure if it’s the crisp air as it hits my cheeks in the morning, when I know it’s just cold enough to need a thicker sweater, but I’ll lose it by noon-time. Maybe it’s the sound of the wind and the leaves falling. If I weren’t stuck in the suburbia life- oh the joy that would consume me to the brim! I’ve found ways to enjoy this Autumn, though stuck un-with nature, I will prevail.

A pair of these

The sound of these

The taste of this

The joy of these

The warmth of these

The joy of this day

Some produce from here

A stroll through here

And lastly the comforts of scarves, flannel, boots and mittens. A hot cup of cider in your hand starring out through the leaves, the temperature sitting around 58, it is most definitely all I need to relax.

The colors relax me the most. How splendid is it that we can recreate the colors brought out by nature herself. I can put leaf-yellow, red, orange or purple on my own walls. I love simplicity, but thank God for paint departments.

Today I’m enjoying all of this. Most exciting moment- there are so many more leaves to turn from green.

To Make No Sense: Just Write.

(From a brain’s sidenote…) I have yet to encounter a literal oxymoron, one I watch with my own eyes. I watched a GFS Truck(Gordon Food Services aka… processed, unhealthy, chemically induced food services) pulling out of a Rehab center near my house. They also house elderly, sick and patients going through the final stages of dependency and physical rehab. How on earth can the justify receiving food from GFS?!  How are our bodies supposed to heal if they’re just being pumped full of more chemicals, more disease and absolutely  nothing that will provide nourishment, nutrients and strength. Through this pathetic display of “care,” I think I see an outlet. I will provide these centers with healthy food, with knowledge and provide the means to obtain a healthy food system. Keeping my eyes out for new ways to market, I think this could be a wonderful possibility. Though I’d have to confront them myself question what they’re feeding their “patients” and challenge them to make a change. Healthy foods are the first step to any body’s’ healing.  Besides food, besides physical health, and safe food mumbo-jumbo: How can I improve my mental health?

I’ve still got this desire to run, as fast as I possibly can, away from everything. Here I feel relationships fighting and scratching to come up on a clean, healthy surface. Here I feel my feet slipping out from underneath me as I try to stay positive in a workplace full of dullness and routine. Here I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’m squinting to see in blackness. Here I want so badly to be free but I’m bound by what I can’t see past: anger, frustration, sadness, urgency, anxiety; I feel like a ball of wires so jumbled even the quickest Rubik’s Cube master would struggle to undo. How do I fix, work on, heal, look away, look up- from all this?

So a quick (I find worthless) search on “improving your mental health.” It returns to me this list of what “healthy” people feel like. And of course, what I do not feel like.

“People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment. -Not quite.
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun. –Does it count if I laugh, have fun and live without the whole zest part?
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity. -Eh, working on it?
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.This just worries me.
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.I suppose I’ve always been able to do this.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.Define “balance?”
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.Can I use the latter… eh, working on it?
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.”Sure… none of that matters to me, I function with or without it, it does not define me.

I suppose at the end of the day, today, I feel like this: I am not happy fully content with the person I am right now…. So, where do I start?

Physical Health. I’ll start there. What if I challenge myself to walk just 2 miles a day, 2 miles- it’s nothing! I will start today, I’m making a vow, to my future-self. Physical health is the first important step of lifting your mood and improving your brain function. Create a to-do-list…

  • Put in my daily 2 miles
  • Groceries (grain, coffee, milk, eggs, butter, yeast, chocolate chips, flour, cream cheese, chips- healthy chips)
  • Make bagels (Favorite recipe below…)
  • Wednesday- Farmer’s Market! In dire need of produce. Walk to this, it’s just about 2 miles, round trip.

Bagel Recipe

 

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more, I know I did)
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour(will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Optional Toppings:
Caraway seeds, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. (Everyone in my house prefers plain bagels, but I have no preference, so I just went with the plain, so no one could complain.)

Preparation:
1. In ½ cup of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.

3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.

4. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.

5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

6. Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (I used a scale to be extra precise, but it’s not necessary). Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms (as pictured below). Repeat with 7 other dough rounds

7. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

8. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York Style bagel with this option)

10. If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels and if you’re risky like me, make a combination of the toppings to top the bagels with, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.

11. Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

13. Cool on a wire rack

Best Bagel Recipe I’ve found as of yet, here’s her blog too: http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/

I want to make a vow to my future-self to CALM DOWN. I’ve got to breath and for Pete’s sake, STOP ANALYZING and causing unnecessary anxiety. Analyzing does nothing, I’m not a shrink, therapist or anything few and far between, I am myself and I’m not going to fix my problems by picking them apart like roadkill. TAKE WALKS not only to clear my head but to get my brain moving as well. BAKE MORE it’s good for me and it’s something I really enjoy. Turn off the damn TV: TV’s don’t want you to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Turn it off and listen to music instead. Last I need to promise myself that I’ll focus on just One Day at a Time: I sound anxious and eager when I try to take on yesterday, today, tomorrow and the upcoming weekend.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,

but when you look back everything is different.”

– C.S. Lewis