Tag Archives: baking

Time to refocus

1 Jan

Happy new year!

Here we are again. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of resolutions. But I know I’m not perfect, by any means, unlike Calvin:

calvin-and-hobbes-new-year

(I love that cartoon.)

So looking back at what I wanted to focus on in 2013 and setting the focus for 2014…

Physical health
I did get back to the gym on a regular basis. I certainly ran more. But then I broke my foot. I was in such great shape prior to that, and it’s been hard to get back into a regular routine with any sort of endurance. But this week has been good. So for 2014 I’ll keep working on going to the gym regularly, building endurance, and running more.

Food
My eating didn’t change much this year, although I somehow got a little sugar addiction lately. Boo on holiday food. So let’s refocus on that for 2014: more veggies!

Writing
My writing was definitely done in waves. I had stretches of lots of blog posts, and then nothing. (See: lack of posts in December.) So there’s the focus for 2014: more consistent blogging.

Dancing
Breaking my foot really made me appreciate dancing. Prior to that, I was going to more groups and practicing on my own. After I broke my foot, I practiced a lot because I was working on checking out. But since then, I’ve struggled to get into a routine. So after the holidays, it’s more group classes, more practicing on my own, and still appreciating it.

Creative hobbies
I stopped baking for a while in the last few months for various reason. I packed my grandma’s recipes, so I can’t go through those until after July. But I’ve baked more this week and will continue to do so. I did learn to crochet but didn’t practice, so now I need a refresher. I certainly knitted more this year and will continue to do so for 2014!

Relationships
No movement there. Meaning no action taken on my part to have anything happen. Stupid Mr Big still in my brain. But steps have been taken this week…more on that soon.

Money
I’ve made some progress towards my financial goals, although Christmas was not planned for as well as it should have been. Oops. So I’m going to take the first six months of 2014 and refocus on money.

Mental health
This year, I realized that my issues are like a chronic condition. I will always have them; I can only cope with the flare-ups. And I’ve done a better job of that lately. This will always be a focus for me though.

At the end of the day, I still strive for this:

peace

And hope to remember this:

light of your being

I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be. Happy new year!

Weekly roundup

15 Jul

Last week, I…

*Got the all-clear from my doctor on my wrist. I can now resume all normal activities! Strength training, here I come!

*Started the yearly big project at work I get to do every July. But this year, I found a trick that will save me about 10 hours of work on it. Yay productivity! Or just yay, less stress!

*Broke bread with friends: Dinner with ND and CD, brunch with SP and DF, dinner with LS…all good friends and good food. Makes me grateful for those people in my life. And for good restaurants.

*Went to a ballroom dance competition. My very first non-Arthur Murray one. And really enjoyed it. And decided to just go for it.

*Almost completed my free time list. More on that soon.

*Danced. Two lessons, during one of which we did full run-throughs of the smooth opens. I had very low expectations for them, both in terms of remembering choreography and in terms of how well I would be able to dance them since I hadn’t dance them since before I broke my foot. (Oof, run-on sentence!) And they went well! Even Viennese waltz. So happy. Oh, it felt so good to just DANCE. Next up, the rhythm opens! Oh dear, that means mambo. And neither me or my teacher can ever remember the mambo choreography. I guess we’ll find out Saturday how that goes.

*Almost baked. It’s so hot here right now – highs in the 90s – and I hate using an oven during that kind of weather. (I don’t have central air conditioning, just a little window unit.) But I miss baking! So I might try it this weekend. Maybe. If it’s not too hot.

*RAN. Three times. My endurance is getting better each time! It better be, because I signed up for a 5K for the end of August. Eek. I think I’ll be 100% by then. I hope. That’s the goal anyway!

Weekly roundup

2 Apr

In the last two (sheesh, I’m behind) weeks, I…

*FINALLY shared some of the amazing recipes I’ve made lately, including a super one for homemade peanut cups.

IMG_0675

My friend LG read about them and tried them the very next day and loved them.

*Had a book club meeting where we finished “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It was a loonnnnggg book, and I had the abridged version (by mistake.) I’d like to go back and read the full version someday because I do feel like I missed some details. Someday.

*Went for coffee with my niece LB who was home from college for spring break. So fun to see her!

*Enjoyed a very lovely day off, including a long run outside. Well, long for me…about 2 miles. Slow (about 10:45 per mile), but still, I ran them all!

*Was all fancy and had dinner with my friend SH at a private club in St Paul. So posh.

*Saw the hand surgeon about my wrist. Surgery is scheduled for the end of May.

*Had dinner with my friend SP. And we tried a fantastic place for dessert. SO GOOD. And I could feel the diabetes setting in just walking in the door.

*Practiced at the studio. I do dance homework at home, but some things you just need the studio space for. But I hate practicing at the studio. Which is silly and ridiculous but true. My friend SH feels the exact same way, except I don’t think she practices at home. So we made a pact to meet at the studio once a week to practice. We did it last week for the first time, and it was great. Like having a workout buddy but with dance.

*Caught up with the fabulous KB over coffee. Alas, it was way too short – we didn’t cover everything!

*Took a knitting class with DF. It was great because she had never knit, and I learned some basic things (cough cough cast-on) that I never really learned properly.

*Had Easter dinner with the family.

PB all the way

22 Mar

There has been a trend to my baking lately, without my even trying.

PEANUT BUTTER.

I love peanut butter. Especially with chocolate. You know I’m not much of a sugar person; give me salt! But peanut butter and chocolate…just can’t beat that combination.

A while ago, I made these buckeye brownies from Brown-Eyed Baker. They were amazing. My roommate still talks about them. Sadly, though, they didn’t really last long enough to take pictures of them.

Then a few weeks (months?) ago, my friend KB talked about these homemade peanut butter cups she made. Homemade? With salt? I had to try the recipe. So I got the recipe from the blog she found it on and tried it.

IMG_0675
Bite-sized amazingness.

The recipe used full-size muffin liners; I made them mini-muffin size. The chocolate part didn’t quite work for me, I think because I used skim milk. So I remade them and this time just used melted chocolate. I should have added some cream, but they were fine without it.

Then I saw a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that I had to try. Especially since my roommate pinned the same recipe because she wanted me to make these.

most-awesome-cookies
Amazeballs.

They were great. A huge hit at book club. I made them smaller than the recipe said to, and they worked out great.

Three fantastic recipes that use peanut butter. All of them so very good. And easy too.

Great, now I’m hungry for a Reese’s.

Weekly roundup

18 Mar

Last week, I…

*Got a Kindle Fire!

kindle!

And it’s awesome.

*Went to the doctor and learned I need to have hand surgery soon to remove a cyst on my wrist. Luckily it shouldn’t interfere with my life too much. But still annoying. I find out more next week.

*Waged war on the mice.

mouse-war

Cotton balls with peppermint oil on them in tea defusers. And dryer sheets. Our house smelled like peppermint linen for a while. Then the smell dissipated, and we saw signs of the mice again. So more peppermint oil, more dryer sheets, and refresh both more often.

*Had dinner with MH and heard about her amazing trip to Belize.

*Saw “Searching for Sugar Man” with SP. It is a great movie – well deserving of the Oscar it received. Go see it. And then go listen to the music.

*Made these…

most-awesome-cookies

More on those soon!

*Finished “The Great Gatsby” for book club.

Weekly roundup

11 Mar

So last week, I…

*Ran outside for the first time in a long time to prepare for a 5K. Not as bad as I thought it would be. Except for when the jog interval on the program I used started over halfway through. And I ended up running for 50% longer than I had planned to.

*Babysat for a friend. And learned very interesting things from the oldest child.

*Saw this fantastic picture on the Facebooks and remembered that we’re all awesome in different ways.

dont-compare

*Gave up on online dating.

*Had great dance lessons. So much progress still being made. Did lots of dance homework too.

*Declared war on the non Gus-Gus mice in my house.

gus-gus

*Ran a 5K! In 36 minutes – the exact time of the last one. Except that this means I was faster than before, because we lost about 2 minutes traipsing through a snowbank to walk around a ginormous puddle.

*Did a dance group class and a lesson after the 5K. Yep, met my quota of physical activity that day.

*Had brunch with KC. (No sunshine band, though.) We tried a new restaurant that was so good. So yummy. Must go back soon.

*Made these:

IMG_0675

Homemade peanut butter cups. SO GOOD. More on these soon!

*Realized that my body now wants a certain level of physical activity. Whoa, that’s new.

All in all…a very FANTASTIC week!

White cupcakes aren’t bland

3 Jan

My coworker’s birthday was Tuesday. I like my coworker, so I wanted to do something to celebrate, especially since he took me to lunch for my birthday.

I thought about making a cake but he’s rather particular on his baked goods. For cakes, he only likes white cake with white frosting. YAWN. But it is his birthday, so I thought I’d try it.

Taking a whole cake to work seemed a bit over the top, so I made cupcakes. That way, I could take him a couple and take the rest to the studio for the New Year’s party. I found a recipe in my grandmother’s recipe book, so I thought I’d give it a go. If they didn’t turn out, no one would know. The beauty of surprises.

I was expecting a flavor like a store-bought cake or a cake mix, which were the only white cakes I’ve ever had. And this as nothing like that. It has an amazing flavor, very light and airy. The frosting I used was just the regular Betty Crocker recipe (powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla.)

I thought that white cupcakes with white frosting might be a bit bland for most people, so I sprinkled some crushed candy canes on top of the ones not going to my boss.

white-cupcakes

I really need to not use my iPhone to take food pictures. But try the recipe…it really is fantastic.

***
White Cake
2.5 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 salt
1/2 cup butter
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350. Grease cake pans. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the milk, then 1/3 of the flour mixture, the vanilla and the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour. Fold in the egg whites last. Spread in prepared cake pans.

I baked the cupcakes for about 18 minutes, so I’m guessing cake layers would take maybe 5 minutes longer? Just keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Time to refocus

1 Jan calvin-and-hobbes-new-year

I like New Year’s because it’s a chance to refocus. I don’t like resolutions…they sound like work and negative consequences and failure. I prefer to think of it more positively: let’s refocus our efforts as we start a new year.

calvin-and-hobbes-new-year

Unlike Calvin, I’m very aware I’m not perfect. But here are the main things I’d like to refocus on in 2013.

Physical health
I was doing very well for most of 2012, but December was kind of a bust. So, time to get back to the gym three times a week (like I was before). I’ll keep running and do more strength training. I want to continue and increase my morning yoga. It’s such a great way to start the day.

Food
It’s also time to get back to eating healthier, especially now that the holidays are over. (I don’t even want to think about the food I ate in December!) And expand the types of food I cook. Chicken and rice can only be made so many different ways.

Writing
Writing has become very important to me as has this blog. I’d like to write more often and build a consistent schedule of posts. (I’ve been doing well this week, haven’t I?)

Dancing
You know, this has become such an integral part of my life, and I sometimes take it for granted. I want to make it a more deliberate part of my life again, and I want to become a better dancer. I want to dance more – go to more group classes and more parties at the studio. I don’t always make a priority of the group classes, and they are really good and fun to go to. I also want to work on things on my own that I can do on my own, like Cuban motion exercises.

Creative hobbies
I’d like to bake more and try new recipes. Keep going with my grandma’s recipes and try those. I’d like to do more knitting – maybe try mittens – and maybe learn to crochet too.

Relationships
I think I need to take a more active part in dating too. Meaning actually trying to meet people.

Money
I think I have one final hurdle to overcome in terms of managing my money as well as I’d like too. So my goal this year is to tackle that hurdle. If I can do it, I’ll reward myself with some of the money I’ve saved.

Mental health
It’s going to be important to continue to work on avoiding the thinky place. I’ve made great progress, but I still have some work to do on it. I have a feeling this will always be something to work on for me.

***
I guess my ultimate goal is this:

peace

Thanks, Michelle, for the image! It sums up perfectly what I ultimately aim for. That, and to make the day better for people I meet each day.

Here’s hoping 2013 is all that we all want it to be. Cheers!

2012 roundup

31 Dec

2012 was a good year for me.

*I moved out of my parents’ house and back to my beloved city.

*I went to my first Dance-O-Rama. It was a great experience, although difficult at the time, and I can’t wait until I can do another one.

*I had a rhythm dance dress made for me.

*When 2012 started, I was 3 weeks into a new job, which I really liked. And I still like it a lot, and I’m still learning a ton.

*I started knitting much more. And have made some nice things.

finished-cowl

baby-blanket

*I started running, and ran two 5Ks, including this one.

*I found an old cocktail book and have been making great old cocktails from it.

burkes-cocktail-guide

I did the same with some recipes from my grandmother my dad found.

*I made some crafty things, and they turned out OK.

jewelry-holders

wall-quotes

hair-dryer-storage

*My dancing has improved A LOT this year, especially in the last three months.

***
In terms of the goals I made at the beginning of the year:

*Better physical health? Yep. I lost more weight, getting within 10 pounds of my goal. (I have gained 5 in the last month, but we won’t talk about that yet.) I was eating a lot better (until the last month, but we’ll ignore that for now.)

*Better mental health and a most positive outlook? I think so. I’ve tried to be more positive and to not go thinky. A few people have commented that they’ve noticed a difference in my attitude.

*I went to a Dance-O-Rama, I’ve not been as thinky about dance, I’ve done more creative things like baking and knitting, and I’ve continued with my blogging.

***
Speaking of my blog, here are some interesting stats.

*In the past year, most of my views came from the US with England, Canada (Hi DG!), and Australia (Hi KP!) next.

*My most viewed post is one I did on Quicken vs Mint.com, followed by infusing vodka, and pear chocolate cake. Money, alcohol and food.

*The most common search term used that drives people to my blog is “mint.com vs quicken” (or some variation of that) followed by “pear chocolate cake”, and “handle of Svedka”. Money, food, and alcohol. Sense a pattern yet?

***
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what my goals for 2013 are. Til then, be safe tonight!

Weekly roundup

3 Dec

Last week, I…

*Got back to doing yoga in the mornings. OK, so it was only 3 mornings. But still, that was more than the few weeks prior to that. And it felt good, so I’m going to try to do it more this week.

*Realized that for me, dancing is so much more than just dance.

*Started getting excited for the holiday season.

*Watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

it's-a-wonderful-life

And cried. Again. Don’t judge.

*Started working on a new header for my blog. Stay tuned!

*Got stood up by two friends on two days. Both for good reasons, but still. Oh well, at least it was a cheaper weekend as a result.

*Made an egg bake for dinners this week with an ingredient I haven’t used much before…chorizo!

egg-bake

It’s fantastic.

*Made great progress on knitting for Christmas presents. But I can’t show you those til after Christmas. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!

*Finally saw the Gangnam style video. Yes, I’m way behind the times. Just call me old and out of touch, thanks.

*Made those chocolate-covered pretzels again. And haven’t eaten TOO many of them…yet.

*Read. I finished “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for book club and “The Lost World” just because. Now I’m on to “Jane Eyre” and “The Alchemist”. I love reading.

*Went to my first dog agility trial. A friend of mine and his wife run their two dogs – miniature poodles – so cute! Their dogs are really good.

That’s a random shot of the course. Sorry, IPhones aren’t real great for taking action shots. Or close-up shots.

dog-agility2

The black blurry ball in front of the tunnel? That’s one of their dogs. It was a very interesting experience and tons of fun. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a dog event. And how can that be bad?

*Had two great dance lessons. Huge progress being made here, people!

*Received what might be the best text message ever.

If you don't watch TBBT, you don't get this.

If you don’t watch TBBT, you don’t get this.

Made me laugh out load and almost spit out my coffee. Thanks, AD!

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