february goals

February goals

It's been a while since I've set monthly goals, and I'm feeling put together enough to get back into it. February will be simple, because I need simplicity right now. I need time to breathe and get my head back together. I need time to just be. February will help me rediscover that.

  • Take a lunch break. Even if it's just 15 minutes, I will get away from my desk. Maybe I'll walk, maybe I'll read, maybe I'll just take a power nap in the car. I just need to get away for a few minutes each day.
  • Knit 20 rows a week to make progress on my scarf.
  • Read one book. Just start with one…
  • Hit my move goal on my watch every single day this month (barring any crazy illnesses).
  • An oldie but a goodie: Coffee at home, not from the gas station every morning.
  • Keep calm when I start yoga teacher training this month.

February, you're going to be such a great month.

one little word: january

One little word january open

Ali Edwards runs a fun class each year that encourages participates to choose one word to help guide the year ahead and provides prompts and journaling ideas for each month. Most of the participates do some form of scrapbook or Project Life book for the OLW class, but my creativity doesn't exactly lay in that medium. The best way for me to work with the OLW class is through word, so each month I'll work my way through the prompts here. If you missed it in a previous post, my word for the year is open. I'm not a closed-off person, but there are many times where I could be more open to new things, new ideas, and new experiences. I'm choosing to have a more open mind this year and to be more open as a person.

January is all about showing up and being present in the OLW community. 

Olw january

definition

[adjective]: not closed or barred at the time, as a doorway by a door, a window bya sash, or a gateway by a gate; relatively free of obstructions to sight, movement, or internal arrangement

[verb]: to begin, start, or commence an activity; to move (a door, window sash, etc.) from a shut or closed position soas to admit of passage

[noun]: an opening or opportunity

quotation

"A mind is like a parachute. It does not work if it is not open." – Frank Zappa
"Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light will not come in." – Alan Alda

invitation

This year I want to new adventures and new ideas into my life. I don't want to get too specific right now. I want to invite everything so I can decide what to allow in and what to not. How can I be specific when I want to be open to new things that I may have never dealt with before?

let go

To be more open this year, I need to let my guard down a little bit and let go of any preconceived notions I may have about things I have never experienced or have experienced in a limited fashion. I need to let go of my control sometimes, because always having control doesn't allow me to open up to the new.

reason why

I've been so involved in my everyday life that I never stopped think about how closed off I've become. I wake up, go to work, come home, and go to bed. I do the same things at home. I cook the same style of food (usually). I go to the same bars with the same people. I think I'm open, but I actively seek out ways to keep my routines. There is nothing wrong with having a routine, but every once in a while that routine needs to open up to the new. You never know what you are missing out on when you don't allow yourself time to be open and see something new in life.

crispy salmon with yogurt sauce

Crispy salmon

Remember when I said I wanted to eat more fish this year? Yeah, this is the way to eat fish. I've always loved salmon, but crisping up that skin really added more to the dish. I found this recipe on Bon Appetit and added my own spin with the addition of spicy harissa on the salmon. Also, ignore my torn off skin. I hesitated posting this picture, but I'm a home cook who has blunders and is proud of this dish.

crispy salmon with yogurt sauce

for the yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to tase

for the salmon:
1 1/2 pounds salmon, skin-on
salt and pepper
2 tbsp spicy red harissa
1 tbsp canola oil

First, make the yogurt sauce. Combine everything in a bowl and set aside. 

Cut the salmon into 4-5 filets, if not already cut. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and spread the harissa on the side without skin. Heat the oil in a skillet pan until shimmering. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Don't disturb the salmon while it cooks and you'll get a nicely browned skin. Flip the salmon and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. The salmon should be opaque at the center. Drizzle the salmon with olive oil, sprinkle on some additional salt, and serve with the yogurt sauce.

january craft: weaving

Rya weaving 1

I'm such a sucker for Instagram marketing. I learned about this really awesome subscription box from some of my favorite Instagrammers that sends you crafting supplies each month for a new project. Taking the guess work out of trying new things? Sign me up!

The January box from The Crafter's Box is a weaving kit. They sent the loom and all supplies needed to create a beautiful weaving. I'm never sure about my penchant for actually finishing things, and I told myself that if I didn't start the weaving by the time my February box payment was due I would cancel my subscription. Well, I started it and finished over the course of a long weekend. And let me say that I LOVE the idea of weaving. It was a great change from knitting. The Rya weaving looks gorgeous on my wall and I have that sense of pride that I haven't felt in a long time.

Rya weaving 2

You guys, I made this! And I had fun doing this!

Who knows, maybe I'll make a couple more to work my way through my yarn stash. January craft = success.

I’ll do it tomorrow

Procrastination

Procrastination has always been a major enemy of mine. I'm such a lazy sloth sometimes. After a long day at work all I want to do is melt into the couch and watch the life of Mindy Lahiri unfold in front of me. And I swear my procrastination is worse now than it ever has been. Grad school gave me concrete deadlines, and now I make up the deadlines and can change them as I please. This is how I'm still working on the same scarf from last March. It's how it took me three months to get out to a park for an hour. It's how it took me 18 days to write a simple post about a scone. No matter what I do, it's just so easy to sit down after work and cooking and cleaning up after dinner and say "Whatever, I'll just do it tomorrow."

What's weird is that I don't procrastinate on household things. I cook almost every night. I clean up right after dinner. I tidy up a little bit night. I clean the bathroom regularly. I never really procrastinate on these things, but when it comes to my hobbies I'll procrastinate to no end. Maybe I'm just not as passionate about knitting as I am about binge watching Grey's Anatomy, but I also don't need to re-watch the tragedies at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital for the 20th time. I need to stop procrastinating on hobbies for my own sanity.

Unfortunately, I think I will always battle with procrastination, but I can work a little at a time towards my goals. I can knit ten rows in that scarf while Johnny plays video games. I can write one blog post during my down time between getting home from work and making dinner. I can read one chapter in a book each night before bed. It's not like I don't have the time for these simple things. It's just so hard to will myself to get off the couch and focus on something sometimes.

If I'm going to accomplish anything this year I need to cool it on the tomorrow's. Tomorrow will catch up to me eventually and I'll have nothing to show for it.

How do you handle procrastination in your life? What do you tell yourself to get yourself motivated?

20 doughs: cranberry scones

Cranberry scone

Well, my first foray into scones was…interesting. I used this recipe from The Kitchn for cranberry scones. It seemed easy enough, but somehow I managed to make a mess of my first dough.

First, the recipe calls for fresh cranberries. Mine were fresh…at one point. I threw the bag into the freezer after Thanksgiving, and I treated the frozen cranberries like I would making a cranberry sauce. I didn't think about the cranberries defrosting and getting extra liquid in the dough.

My second mistake was surprising. Even after reading the recipe 20-something times, I still managed to forget the milk. Somehow, though, the two mistakes kind of cancelled each other out. The water provided extra moisture that the milk would have added. I managed to get 6 useable scones from the dough. Finally, I forgot to sprinkle on the sugar before baking, so the scones were missing that touch of sweetness.

Overall, I was able to eat these scones despite some mistakes, but the whole process could have been a little better. Baking isn't my forte, and I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting project.

 

hello 2016

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Well, that was quite a break for me. It was interesting to be both extremely busy and not busy at all. It was both fun and boring to do stuff without turing it into blog content. It was exactly what I needed: a chance to step away from something that I like but was stressing me out too much. I spent 2015 really figuring out what makes me happy (in no particular order: Johnny, cooking, writing, creating) and what doesn't (more school). I feel like 2014 was about growing up and 2015 was about finding myself. Now I can refine everything and put it all into action in 2016.

With that said, I wanted to say hello to 2016 and talk out some of what I want to do this year.

In the kitchen, I want to eat healthier and bake more. I was all over the board in terms of diet in 2015, and I definitely finished out the year not on a strong note. My face is breaking out, I'm super bloated from so much sodium, and my stomach is rioting against what I've been eating. Clearly it's time to get back to my veggies and fish and healthy grains. My CSA share is helping me get more veggies, but I need to better about using them up…and that's all just cooking at home. I don't want to set any hard rules on food, but I do want to eat more dinners at home and eat more greens and fish.

I've also started figuring out my KitchenAid mixer that I got as a graduation present in 2014. The only real quantifiable goal I'll be setting in 2016 is to help me use the mixer more. I want to make and bake 20 different kinds of dough this year. Pizza crust, breads, scones, muffins, cookies…they're all fair game.

For writing, I want to come back here more often. Clearly the rigid posting schedule, while being great for traffic and sponsors, isn't for me. I really struggled to come up with content last year because I was reaching into topics that weren't really interesting to me. If I'm ever going to keep interest in this, I need to do what works for me. This year I'm reaching for a once a week post on whatever. I can talk about my baking, my cooking, life, whatever. And if I post more in a week, that's awesome.

When it comes to creating, I want to finish the scarf I started for Johnny last year and I want to try a new craft once a month. Simple as that.

In the miscellaneous category, I want to read more and do more yoga. It's just choosing to do those things over another marathon of Top Chef.

And probably the biggest thing I want to work on this year is my relationship with my husband. My One Little Word for the year, open, will really help here. I want to be open to new experiences with Johnny, even if it means thinking and stepping outside of my comfort zone (like taking a week-long vacation somewhere). Being open to doing more things that makes him happy will just make our relationship stronger in the long run.

Hello 2016, I'm ready to see what you bring.

next steps

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A year ago I used blogging as my escape from my capstone coursework. Now, blogging is something that I like to do but don't feel the need to do as often. My break really showed me that I'm not in the rat race like many bloggers. I don't really care about page views or monetizing right now, so why am I spending hours of my time producing consistent and (sometimes) new content? 

I want to make blogging personal again. My favorite posts have always been the around here/currently/thought dump ones because, in 10 years, those are the ones I want to read again. Link roundups and small business talk and the posts that are supposed to get traffic are the ones I'm waaaaay less interested in, but I did them because that's how you get readers and sponsors and everything. Eh, that's not where I am anymore.

I'm not going to lie, I really did think about just deleting this blog altogether at one point, but I ultimately decided not to do that yet. It may happen down the road (especially when I have to renew my domain), but for now I'll keep making my personal posts. Maybe once a week, maybe twice a month…who knows. I'm in a weird place where I'm trying to find what sticks for me, and monetizing and whatnot just wasn't. It was producing too much stress and anxiety, and I draw the line at waking up at 3:30 in the morning because I realize that I forgot to write that day's blog post.

So, we've covered what's next for this space. What else is next for me? I'm not going back to school next semester, and I'm enrolling in yoga teacher training starting in February. I've realized how little I care about traditional school now that I've had a taste for freedom, and I've been seeking that next step in my life. I'm also painting again (good sign!) and my vegetarian eating has been on point lately. I'm also getting new advice on my thyroid treatment and visiting a naturopathic doctor to see if that's where I want to go. I'm still reading when I can, although my book of choice isn't always on my list of books I need to finish (and by that I may mean I'm re-reading Michael Pollan…again). I'm also having fun decluttering both my physical world and digital world. Yay new beginnings!

I also got my Star Wars tickets and preordered Adele's new album on vinyl last week, so I have that going for me too.

Clearly, there will still be tons to write about, and none of it will feel as forced as it was starting to get. Will be top-notch quality content that will draw in thousands of readers a day? Probably not, but it will be something I'll want to read 10 years later. That's all I want right now from this.

sometimes you just need a break

Taking a long coffee break

As I mentioned last week, I've been stuck in a massive rut and don't really know where to go next. I mean, I kind of do, but we'll see if those things can actually pan out.

As part of figuring out what comes next, I'm giving myself a two week break away from this blog to let my mind rest. The constant wheel of generating new content is starting to get to me, and I may have written Monday's post at 3:30 in the morning because I couldn't sleep knowing that I forgot to get something up. When that happens it's time to step away for a little bit.

I might come back, I might not. It all depends on how I'm feeling. I still have this domain until September 2016, so I can pick back up on a month or two. Or I can scale back to posting once or twice a week. Either way, I need some time to figure out how or if this blog fits in to fixing that rut.

In any case, I'll see you back here on October 28th with at least one more post.

In the meantime, go play around in my archives. There's some great recipes from 2014 hiding in there.