November 19th – “You’ve met your match, but is that such a bad thing? Winning all the time is boring.”

Rainy days are the best time for baking. I fantasized about making an array of cookies, cakes, and breads this weekend, but I didn’t get very far.

I made chocolate chip cookies this afternoon.

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Thirty minutes later, all of these goodies showed up at my door.

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A few friends and I have birthdays this coming week which always coincide with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. While I expected more desserts than usual, I didn’t think it would start until Monday.

There were two oversized creamed horns,

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one tiramisu slice,

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one red velvet slice,

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one taro brulee slice,

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one strawberry roll,

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one strawberry tiramisu slice (I didn’t know there was such a thing until now!),

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and two mystery flavor mochis.

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I love desserts, and on a few occasions, have even eaten entire cakes by myself. These cakes, mochis, and horns are going to sit in my frig tonight untouched. I don’t know how I’m going to eat all of this. Frankly, I’m intimidated.

I’ve met my match.

Dessert baking is officially banned at my house until next month. The stars sure find creative ways to redirect my path.

I guess it’s time to get started on my next Alice Hoffman novel.

 

 

November 8th – “Get ready to greet a brand-new day.”

Yesterday’s horoscope advised me to, “think twice before hitting send.”  I wanted to follow up with some networking contacts, but decided to wait a day. Mondays are not good days to send emails anyway because people are usually swamped after weekends. According to some studies, Tuesdays mornings are the best time and day. I already received one response so I think those studies are right!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m ready to greet the new day!

To start off my new day, I switched out my warm weather clothes for winter wear. I found this shirt from last year. Is November too early to wear a Christmas shirt?

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I didn’t think too hard about it because my zodiac reading told me that it wasn’t time to relax yet:

Despite all your various successes, remain coolheaded and continue to work relentlessly.

I have a stack of books to read, applications to work on, and paintings to paint. To help me get through the day I made some almond thumbprint cookies filled with blueberry, apricot, and rhubarb jam.

This is one of the easiest recipes I make. Sometimes I substitute more almond and oat flour when I don’t have regular flour. It turns out great each time! If you’re busy and pressed for time, I highly recommend it. It’s hard to mess up and is sweetened by maple syrup.

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Vegan Almond Thumbprint Cookies

 1 cup oat flour

1 cup almond flour

1 cup wheat flour

½ cup oil

½ maple syrup

1/8 tsp salt

Some jam or jelly

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients except for jam/jelly. Roll into tablespoon balls. Makes about 2 dozen.
  2. Use spoon, thumb or teaspoon and press down into to each ball
  3. Fill balls with jam/jelly.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 mins.

The original recipe is here.

October 30th – “Switch up routines with yoga, or weights, or meditation.”

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I didn’t do any of the exercises suggested by my horoscope, but I did add something new to my routine.

I’ve been out jogging or at the gym 5 times this week which wasn’t enough to make up for all the heavy meals I’ve had. Last week, I went out for Shanghai dumplings, made lamb shanks, and had dessert for breakfast.

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Recipe for lamb is at the end of post.

Did I mention that I made cookies last night too?

I definitely needed to do an extra workout yesterday!

I only got through the first 10 minutes of this dance video, but I plan on doing the whole thing tonight. This is a great for anyone like me who isn’t very coordinated. A lot of the work out videos out there are too fast, advanced, and frankly, DANGEROUS, for the average person.  I think many fitness classes don’t spend enough time warming up and speed through the movements in order to increase calorie burn. If you’ve taken yoga at a studio AND at the gym, you know what I’m talking about!

Based on this video, Ryan Heffington really knows his stuff and how to teach. It’s like having a real dance teacher at home!

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Lamb Shank

2 to 4 lamb shanks

12 oz can of beer (preferable a stout/dark beer) OR red wine

12 oz can of beef broth (or half a box)

1/2 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

½ can diced tomatoes or fresh

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 sprigs of fresh oregano

2 cloves minced garlic

A few tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:

  1. In a large pan, brown lamb shanks (about 5 – 10 minutes) with some olive oil
  2. In a large pot, brown onions and garlic with some olive oil. Then add all other ingredients including lamb shanks. Bring to boil. Then simmer for 2 to 3 hours until meat is falling off the bone. If the sauce gets too thick or dry while simmering, add more broth and beer. It’s goes well with a side of mashed potatoes and your favorite greens!

 

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Apple Cider Caramel Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups flour

10 packets (1 box) apple cider powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 package (36 count) small caramels

 

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together
  3. Slowly add dry ingredient mixture to wet. Mix until just combined.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  5. Divide dough into 36 balls, flatten the dough balls, then wrap each caramel with dough.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 13 minutes. They’re ready when the caramels have fully melted and the cookies look flat.

Original recipe here

October 3rd and 4th – “are strong days, so see if you can exceed your normal effort.”

Who likes to do crunches? No one. Well, no one that I’ve ever known. I know people who like yoga, dance, running, lifting weights, boxing, but no one loves to work on their abs. It’s difficult, not fun, and takes a long time to feel or see any results. It’s like a bottomless pit of exercise.

For the last two days, I pretended that those challenges didn’t exist for me. Yes, sometimes I lie to myself into order to get things done. Don’t we all? Anyone who tells you that they NEVER lie, are DEFINITELY lying. We’re all imperfect people, so unless you’re a robot or a cat, it’s impossible not to lie (especially to yourself!).

I decided to get up extra early so I couldn’t make any excuses. To keep myself interested, I did a variety of exercises:

Standing Kicks

Standing Side Crunch

Lunging Twist Crunch

Planks and plank crunch

Full Sit Ups

I have taken ab classes at the gym before, so I know there are plenty more moves I can do next time.

At the end of the day, I rewarded myself with a couple of maple leaf cookies. They are REALLY REALLY good! I can taste the maple syrup in the super creamy filling. It’s AMAZING!  I hope to recreate these at in my oven one day.

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