Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Random Thoughts About Nothing, Really. Skip This If You Have Anything More Important to Do, Like Clip Your Toenails.
Clearly the muses have gone on vacation.
I have eleven drafts waiting to be worked on, but nothing grabs me.
In the past week I attended the baby shower, (Edit: I have deleted the post to which I just linked because I do not want to risk offending a friend--basically I'd been invited to a baby shower and was making negative observations about gift registries.) which was pleasant. I realized that I'm so not in baby mode. Mine or anyone else's. My kids are grown, but no where near making me a grandparent yet, so babies are the farthest thing from my mind and I discovered how disconnected I am from all things baby related. Also, I didn't know anyone other than the new mother and her mother.
Serendipitously, (cool word...wanted to use it!) I met a lady there who had lived in England before I did. She was actually the sister of someone attending the shower, didn't know anyone either and is also out of baby-mode, so we struck up a conversation. She and her husband were stationed in England and they also pastored there for some years, so we had some old stomping grounds in common. That was nice. My husband is actually there preaching this week so between having daily conversations with him and meeting her I'm longing for a visit. I thought I was way done with long haul flights, but...maybe not!
So. See? I am clearly lacking inspiration to write, so maybe it's just better if I don't. At least until the muses return. Maybe they went to England too.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Creamy Hot Chocolate
1/3 C cocoa powder
3/4 C sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 C water
3 C milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 C half and half or cream
Combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan. Blend in the water and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Simmer and stir for a couple of minutes. Stir in milk and heat thoroughly until very hot. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add cream to individual mugs.
Amazing Chocolate Cupcakes
Use your favorite chocolate cake recipe to make cupcakes and add a Hershey's kiss to each before you bake. (I find it best to use baking cups for these...the kisses tended to stick to the bottom of my pan when I don't use the baking cups.) Just pop one onto each cupcake on top of the batter and let it sink as it will. Bake as normal and frost as desired. I like to use a rich ganache icing:
Heat together over medium heat: 1 C cream and 5 T corn syrup. Simmer for a minute or two and remove from heat. Add 2 t vanilla extract. Chop 8 oz by weight of semi sweet chocolate or use chocolate chips. I use Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet chips. Pour the warm cream mixture over the chocolate and stir well to combine until the chocolate is all melted and the whole business is glossy. Dip the cupcake tops into the ganache and let set. You can refrigerate the leftover ganache and dip into it with a spoon periodically when no one is looking! ;-)
Chicken Noodle Soup
I made this up when we lived in Europe and I couldn't find good old Campbell's. Now we like it better! Its super easy comfort food but maybe not the healthiest way to do it...
Use cooked chicken, pulled from the bone and chopped into bite sized pieces. Leftovers are great or cook chicken breasts or pieces specifically for this recipe.
Make a rich broth using water and chicken stock cubes or bullion crystals. For four people I use 4 to 6 C water and 10 cubes.
Cook spaghetti, linguine, or fettucini noodles. Drain. Add the cooked chicken and cooked noodles to the broth and serve with crusty bread and salad.
Home made Flavored Syrups for Coffee
Boil together 1 C water and 1 C sugar for 1 minute and let cool slightly. Add any flavor extract you desire. That's it! Add more sugar/less water for thicker syrup or more water for thinner syrup.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Lots going on in my mind lately. Thinking about simplicity, minimalism, what's really important in life materially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, what's not. How much "stuff" do I really need? Has my "stuff" become my identity? How would I cope if I lost all my "stuff" due to some natural disaster or other event?
I do a lot of reading about living simply, downsizing, minimalism and the like, and I am becoming temporarily introspective to a degree; re-evaluating priorities and decisions and even personality characteristics. Sort of New Year's in the spring in a much bigger way. I'm making decisions about the kind of person I would like to be for the rest of my life. (Mid life crisis? Maybe, but I think it's a good thing. My youngest child just turned 18, and I realized that all my children are adults now, and I still have my whole life ahead of me! Pretty exciting prospect!)
Heavy...I know. This was all precipitated by the breaking of my purse strap, the second one in as many weeks. I returned to Target, from whence the offending article came, only to find that I couldn't return it for the purchase price because it had gone on clearance and I didn't have the receipt. It had originally been a gift, but no gift receipt. So I ended up with a $5 gift card. I wasn't in the mood to argue and what could I do anyway? So. This brought me to a point of thinking about retail products, their quality, what's really important concerning my belongings, and did I really need to purchase a new purse right this minute.
I concluded that, no, I did not need to make that purchase. I do have other purses that languish in a closet. I don't use them because I don't particularly care for them, but they are functional. I did clear out a whole bunch of junk in my latest decrapification session, but I saved a few of those old purses. The decrapification thing is a slow process of letting go. I'm seeing a need for balance on the decrapification front, by the way. It makes sense to keep some things, while others need to go. The balance is in figuring out which is which!
So. The conclusion to this long and convoluted post is that I am further investigating what minimalism means to me, and learning to remove my focus from what's not important, freeing me to focus on what is.
Oh yeah. And since I do make bags and purses for sale, I should probably make an every day one for myself. The quality will be much better than retail trash, for sure! And while I'm at it, I think it's time to restock the store.
Photo credit: Me! That's one I made and sold, not one I bought! :-)