August 15th – “There are a number of ways we can end up borrowing from the future…such as overindulging and promising ourselves we’ll cut back tomorrow, or making promises so you can put something off.”

I’ve been putting off work projects for the past month. It’s starting to catch up to me now and I want to get some things checked off my list before it gets out of control. There are no real deadlines, but I will miss some great opportunities if I don’t complete my projects.

For the past two days, I’ve spent 10 hours re-watching a television series I’m writing an article about. It was good that I did because there were so many things that I forgot about! I missed so many details and may have to rework my entire argument. Eeeck! Well, may not the entire thing, but my brain will definitely be working overtime the next few days.

It was not easy to stay away from junk food during those 10 hours. I had a ton of apples, so I made a slightly healthier apple crisp. Let’s get real. If I baked chocolate chip cookies today, I would have eaten them all! An oatmeal apple crisp was the best thing I could think of making without derailing my semi-healthy diet. I already borrowed from my future last week, so there will be no more indulging until the weekend.

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Oatmeal Apple Crisp

Filling
8-9 medium apples, sliced
3 tablespoons lemon
½ cup maple sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
½ teaspoons ground ginger

Topping
1 cup whole rolled oats
½ cup ground oats (oat flour)
½ cup flour (or more oat flour)
½ cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup olive oil
A few pinches of salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix filling ingredients together. Pour mix in oiled 9×13 pan
3. Mix topping ingredients. Spread on top of apple mixture.
4. Bake for 50 minutes.

Original recipe here

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August 4th – “If a friend is in need, let them know you’re at their service. Make time for them.”

It’s summer, and as usual, I’ve disappeared for a while because I am trying to focus on a number of things at once. What makes summer especially busy for me is the added responsibility of managing a garden.

For once, I’m doing a pretty good job of harvesting, consuming, and giving away my fruits and vegetables before things go bad. I’ve made several loaves of zucchini bread,

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pots of apple sauce,

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and pints of strawberry rhubarb jam.

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There’s nothing like fresh broccolini and kale for dinner!

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I even had enough energy to pick wild blackberries on my jogging trail.

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Now that I’m caught up, I have time to listen to a friend in need.  

July 20th – “Mars bolts into Leo, heating up your tenth house of career and long-term planning until September 5. “

Retirement is not in my cards. I was 100% sure of that even before I went for my tarot reading last November. I once told the 401K manager at work that I didn’t plan on retiring. I’ve never forget the horrified look on his face.

Even when I am not getting paid to work, I work. There’s always some project in the back of my mind that I’m thinking about. Hey, thinking is work too!  The tarot reader said she saw 2 books in my future. My prediction is that I’m going to go (yes, I mean die) when that second book is finished. I don’t even have one book yet, so I have a few years left.

Since I’m not going any time soon, it would be wise for me to figure out what my next career move will be. After all, I do have bills to pay. It’s a real shame that I don’t want to get married because the stars do say that I could be financially supported by such a union!  My resume and CV have not been updated in awhile, so I brainstormed some ways to start padding it.

Brainstorming is easy. It’s choosing what to focus on that’s difficult. Although I’m no closer to figuring out what my big picture plan is for the future, I have determined one thing. I cannot work in isolation. All the options I’ve written down involve interaction with people, and lots of them.

This goes contrary to how I have been behaving. I’ve been playing an introvert for 2 years and I’ve reached the limit. If I don’t start dealing with people, I may end up lifeless, grumpy, and unappreciative like some of my coworkers.  

Today, my boss brought in this lovely coffee cake crumble chocolate Challah bread from some fancy hipster bakery in San Francisco. It was a nice treat.

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Look at the layers of chocolate and dough!

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At the end of the day, there was still half left. I don’t think my work environment is right for me. I like to eat, laugh, and enjoy life. If my coworkers are an example of what I have to look forward to as an introvert, I’m tapping out. Give me another slice of Challah bread, please!

 

July 19th – Content yourself with just working like crazy around your own home. Bet you’ll find quite a few things to get done, too.”

The garden was neglected for almost an entire week. I had disappeared for a few days for work and a short trip to Minneapolis.

There’s a big Scandinavian population there and I got to try their cuisine.

Herring with cucumbers, fermented apples and potatoes in buttermilk sauce

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Kropkakkor (dumplings)

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There’s also a big bunny population there.

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I arrived a day too late and found out that there was a Weird Al burlesque.

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By the time I returned home to tend to my garden, these giant things showed up.

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My partner watered the plants while I was away, but didn’t harvest anything.  I was only gone for 6 days! There’s no stopping zucchini’s once they start growing. I found quite a few things to do in the garden today. 

July 13th – “End a bad habit — pat yourself on the back as you take a step in a new direction!”

Ooops! Too late! I already had a maple leaf cookie sandwich for breakfast today! It’s one of my favorite cookies, so it was hard to resist.

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One of our customers sent us these cookies a couple of weeks ago. He does not live or work in Canada, but I guess he celebrates Canada day.

I really wanted to have another cookie, but I should end this bad habit today. Goodbye sweet maple leaf cookie. I’ll see you next Canada day!

July 10th – “Work your charm on any grumpy types.”

I don’t have any special charm for grumpy types. The best thing to do is to avoid grumpy people. When that isn’t possible, I distract grumpy people with things they like. From my experience, food is a good distraction.

Today, I made pork buns in preparation for any grumpy types who might cross my path.

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Steamed Buns

2 ¼ teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 to 1 ¼ cup warm water

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. Proof yeast by adding yeast, sugar, and water (start with 1 cup). Wait for 10 minutes until the mixture becomes foamy.
  2. Sift in the dry ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes. If it’s too, add water a little at a time until you get a soggy sticky mixture.
  3. Let rise for 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Punch down. Then divide into 16 pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten, leaving the edges thinner than the middle.
  6. Fill with meat.
  7. Steam for 15 minutes.

Original recipe here

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Pork Filling

5 spice powder

Oyster sauce

Hoisin sauce

Soy sauce

Ketchup

Grated/diced ginger

Grated/diced garlic

Rice wine or white wine

Honey

1 pound of boneless pork ribs or shoulder

 

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients, except for pork, to taste. Sorry, I don’t measure! Just try to sauce before putting the pork in!
  2. Marinade pork for at least 1 day before cooking in oven or pan.

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July 3rd – “ Give yourself a break — maybe even a whole night off.”

The great thing about not comparing myself to others is that I don’t measure my success or failures based on anyone else’s. The bad thing is that I can be hard on myself.  

Lately, I have been feeling lazy and very underachieving.  When given the choice to get more sleep or stay up to work on something, I choose sleep.

This weekend I had a small gathering in my little town. We went for a hike among the redwoods,

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ate a ton of food,

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and painted.

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I had plans to make fancy wine country inspired meals from scratch, but I ended up substituting half the recipes with store bought stuff. I was feeding 5 people a late breakfast and dinner and took shortcuts. We had frozen tater tots instead of hand cut fried potatoes, bbq sauce out of a jar instead of a homemade concoction, and veggie burgers that came out of a box instead of my food processor. The strawberry rhubarb pie was made with freshly picked ingredients from my garden, but the pie crust was ugly and I didn’t churn any vanilla ice cream for it. It was not the extravagant meal I planned.

I didn’t feel very accomplished until one of my guests remarked, “You do a lot.”

I paused for a moment. She was right. I don’t know too many people who would take time to organize outings for friends, all while working on creative projects, managing a garden, teaching, and clocking in hours at a day job. 

That’s a lot. I took a night off.

June 23rd – “Slow down today — you are right on track and you have nothing to worry about.”

It’s been a busy month. I have a two projects I am working on, so I’ve put the blog aside for the month. I can do two things at once, but not three!

As predicted by my horoscope, June has been a beautiful month for devoting more time and energy to passion projects, learning, and extra-curricular activities.” I’ve been doing all three and I am already experiencing some of the rewards!  

The end of month deadline is closing in on me and there’s still so much work left to do. I started worrying about it yesterday, but today is a different day. So what if I wasted time and worried yesterday? I don’t have to do that today. With each new day comes new challenges, new ideas, and new attitudes. For example, yesterday there was no cake in the office. Today, there was cake in the office.

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Is 10:00 a.m. too early to eat cake? I don’t think so!

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If cake isn’t a sign to slow down and stop worrying, I don’t know what is!

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Tomorrow is the beginning of pride weekend and my boss brought this understated cake to the office. The outside is simple, but the message it conveys is crystal clear. I think there is something for me to learn here.

I have been trying to add more adventure and excitement to my story and I don’t think it needs that. The story is a simple one. It’s not supposed to be a drama filled with twists and turns, betrayals, reversal of fortunes, or evil twins. No, that was never the intent. My tale is about the everyday life of people who are not often seen.  If my story were a cake, I think it would have ten or twenty different colors underneath the vanilla frosting. Thank you for the sweet lesson today, horoscope!

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May 28th – “Hold yourself and the company you keep to high standards.”

 

Whenever I have the time, I like making things from scratch. I think that’s a pretty high standard. Lucky for me, today was such a day! Well, sort of.

We had a carton of tomato soup that needed to be consumed because it was close to expiring and we wanted  grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it. There was store bought bread with all the preservatives and yucky stuff that keeps it intact for weeks sitting in the frig. We did not want to have that. Homemade bread is MUCH better!

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The best part about homemade bread is that you can cut the slices to any thickness you like!

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Our sandwich was completed with 2 slices of Gouda.

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White Sandwich Bread

2 ¼ teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons honey

1 ½ cup warm water

2 ½  cup flour bread flour*

 

1 tablespoon butter

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cup flour (or wheat flour)

2 tablespoon and 2 teaspoon honey (optional)

 

Some butter (for the crust when the bread is done baking)

 

*If you don’t want to buy bread flour, you can get wheat gluten separately. To make bread flour, substitute 1 tablespoon of flour with wheat gluten.

 

Directions:

  1. Mix first 4 ingredients together. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the next 4 ingredients. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Put dough into an oiled/buttered bread pan. Let rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has risen just above the pan.
  4. Bake in preheated oven of 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Take bread out of the pan and let cool on rack. For a soft crust, cover top with butter.

 

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