"Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you've been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you wanted to be, the person you are."
–H.G. Wells, British author
Yesterday this quote was at the bottom of the free accounting related newsletter that I subscribe to. There's a quote each day, some resonate with me more than others. This one was just what I needed at this particular time. Those words reaffirmed a few unanswered questions that I had within myself. It was like a quick snap of the fingers to get my attention and to get my thoughts flowing in the right direction.
I was lucky to get a picture of this crow. By the time I usually get my iPhone out, my subject is gone, flown away or scurried for cover, but not this day. I was in the grocery store parking lot. I heard him first, and I always turn when I hear Crow...he looked so beautiful there with the bright sun in the background.
Yesterday I prepared one of my favorite chicken recipes that I found on the internet some time ago. I also prepared it for my mother-in-law on her birthday. And she didn't make a comment about it needing salt, which was a relief. The flavor was there in this simple and delicious oven barbecued chicken recipe.
I paired the chicken with oven baked yams and a macaroni salad that I through together with leftover pasta that I I had used to make oven macaroni and cheese on Sunday night...yum! I knew that I didn't need the full pound, so I set some aside with the intention of making the mac salad. I added red bell pepper, black olives, green onions, celery, dijon mustard, olive oil, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic salt with parsley, and dinner was served.
I had an appointment later that evening with a school counselor to ask some questions about the certificates in accounting and to see where I'm at. In a way, the appointment was a waste of time. I think I already knew where I was at. But, it's part of the process. I think next time I have a visit, it will be more helpful because I may be closer to my goal, unless I begin to waver again. Time is not on my side. Many of the classes that I took so long ago, no longer count because in order to obtain the certificate, in my case, in accounting, the courses need to be completed within 7 years of the date of the certificate; 10 years for a business certificate. I don't know that this little piece of paper will help me down the road, but I thought if I had the classes already, I might as well. I waited too long, mainly because I've had a love/hate relationship with accounting for as long as I remember. And that's why I'm asking myself, do I really want to petition to retake accounting principles because I got a C in the class I took way back when. I know there's something inside of me that feels the need to go through a semester length course and to possibly pick up the certificate along the way. I also figure I may as well still aim for obtaining my A.A. except that for the area of emphasis, the time rules still apply.
I think I need to do this, so that I know that I at least followed through and completed something...but part of me, thinks is it really necessary. It's an inner battle that I've been going back and forth with forever. And even though community college is a lot less expensive, it still puts a dent in the budget. The good thing is that there is no time limit on general education requirements. Back to the drawing board to see what I really want to do and if getting the piece of paper that is of little value in the real world is worth it, and to make sure I'm not fooling myself into completing something that I really have no interest in completing.
All that I could think about on the way home was the two ripe bananas that I've been waiting to be just right, so that I could make banana muffins. I found a recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites recipe book. I didn't need the recipe to be that low-fat, so I added two full eggs instead of one egg and one egg white. The recipe also called for 1 cup of rolled oats blended just until they were the consistency of corn meal–a nice healthy touch in addition to one cup of white flour. There was 1/4 of brown sugar, 1/2 t. of baking soda, 1 t. of baking powered, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, 2 T. of vegetable oil, 2 ripe bananas mashed, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, and instead of the 1/2 cup raisins, I added 3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips because I had some leftover and I thought it would be a nice addition. 400 degrees for 25 minutes and the house was smelling of banana and chocolate goodness!
I've never really been a muffin person, and I've had this cookbook for years and have only made a handful of recipes out of it, which were all good. And I have to be honest, I usually steer clear from a muffin with chocolate in it, but I think what did me in was when we stayed at a place in Carmel that brought muffins and juice to our door in the morning and I bit into a muffin with chocolate in it and I thought, this is actually pretty good. I guess that stuck in my head; ironically, hubby didn't like the muffins and he loves chocolate.
I do know that the ripe bananas were my inspiration. I saw two sitting there on the counter, as I've seen before, only this time, I wanted to make them into something, rather than send them away. That's when I looked in this particular cookbook hoping for a recipe because that other low-fat recipe book with the blueberry scones, it's going back to the library!
One of the cookbooks that I took home from the library was Aaron Sanchez's Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours. This is a beautiful cookbook with heart. I love the photographs of the ingredients and the finished meals. My mouth waters when I flip through the pages and makes me want to put the book down, get to the grocery store and get cooking! The conversational tone of the book makes me feel like I've Aaron there by my side as I read and set out to try his recipes.
I've been on the lookout for an empanada recipe ever since I had them at the food trucks and I have a regular turnover recipe, but I knew I was looking for something different; I just wasn't sure what until I found Aaron's recipe. It's simple, delicious, and the addition of masa harina (corn masa flour) makes all the difference. Subtle, but noticeable.
For the filling, I made a modified version of Aaron's recipe.
The fillings are endless, from savory to sweet. It's all up to the cooks moods and imagination.
a mixture of ground beef,
potatoes, onions, salt, pepper,
oregano, and El Pato brand Salsa de Tomate con Jalapeno.
Yesterday I had an excuse to go the library. When I was searching the library database for a book, I discovered that I had two books that were overdue by a week. I usually watch for those email reminders, but I must have overlooked these. I happily pulled the books from the pile, snapping a photo of them because I wasn't done with them yet! I was happy because I would return the books, then browse the shelves after collecting a book that I was in search of and knew was on the shelves.
After I self-checked in my overdue books, I pulled out my iPhone, and opened the email that I had sent to myself with the call number: 808.02 NAMING. I wound my way toward the back of the library, walking past tables of chattering teenagers. As I walked further and further down the narrow passages of books, I found myself at the end. I looked up and scanned the call numbers and there it was: Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer Edited by Bret Anthony Johnston. I took the book from the shelf, admired the red cover with a small image of a piece of art titled "Cockatoo and Corks," a piece of art that is interestingly strange. I love surreal art.
Instead of going back down to the front of the main library the way I came, I decided to go over one isle and I found myself in the cookbooks. I turned left and right and saw that baking was on my left, so I started there. There was one cookbook that was displayed: Krystine's Healthy Gourmet Cookbook by Krystine Crowell. I flipped through, and in the first several pages, I saw a nonfat whole-wheat blueberry scone recipe that caught my attention. I decided that I would take the book and I would make the recipe that night. All I needed was the yogurt and blueberries.
I turned to the right and eased my way down until I saw some Mexican cookbooks. I took two. I wanted to wander a bit, but as always, time slips right by me when I'm in the library. I knew that I couldn't browse for too much longer because I had to get home and wash dishes and start on dinner. But I did make a last stop to scan the new books and that's where I found The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson. I flipped through and knowing that I wouldn't have time to read it now, I would have time to skim and I wanted to take my time looking at the different libraries that he included in his book. One sculpture in the book took my breath away. Titled "Psyche" it touched something deep within my own: A huge sculpture in the shape of a head, made up of roughly fifteen hundred small sculptures of books and butterflies, suspended in air.
That was my last book, I went to the self-check machine to check out the handful of books that should have only been the one that I came for. The machine beeped at me and said my card was about to expire and that I needed to go to the circulation desk. I took my books and walked up to the standing desk. The librarian asked how she could help me and I explained. She just needed my identification and my library card would be renewed for another three years. She looked up, as she was typing into her computer and said, "Your shirt is making me want to be in Hawaii." I looked down at my deep blue Hawaiian shirt with large white flower blossoms. I looked up and smiled.
"Oh, your a Cancer she said," looking down at my identification. "I'm a Cancer too. My birthday is on the 20th. I see your on the cusp.
"Yes, I'm right on the very end, but I am a Cancer."
It was refreshing to have someone actually bring up their own astrological sign, someone who was older, and relate to me. So many times, I've done the same.
"Have you been to Hawaii before?"
I thought about this because I knew I had, but it was so long ago I had to remember one island or two. "Yes."
And so, we continued our brief conversation, two friendly Cancers, as she processed my library card renewal. She told me how she was married in Kauai and what a beautiful island it is. I mentioned how I had heard many good things about it, but that's one of the islands I had not been to.
We finished up and instead of going to the self-check machine, I had the librarian check my books out. She was such a kindred spirit, a nice change from dealing with machines and others that are too busy or who aren't' as friendly.
And this friendly exchange was all thanks to my expiring library card and my Hawaiian shirt.
After dinner, I told hubby that my plan was to bake, then study. He looked at me and said you should study first. I said, "I need to bake first because it relaxes me! Then I'll study."
I did make the blueberry scones first and they were different. They looked pleasing. They lacked a little flavor, especially after coming after oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars. With a little dab of butter, I think they'll be perfect.
This recipe is so delicious. The added chocolate chips on the top were an after thought before it went into the oven...I added more than the recipe called for because hubby insisted. I also added a small packet of chopped hazelnuts.
The night before last, hubby and I were looking through the cooking sites that he has on his Flipboard App. We watched several short YouTube clips demonstrating how to make delicious meals that looked simple enough. One in particular caught his eye, so I asked him to send me the link. I didn't say whether I was going to make it soon or keep it for later. And I have to admit, that I was feeling a bit guilty about the fact that two cans of cream of soup of our choice were part of the recipe. Was this healthy? Were we being bad? I wasn't sure if I could go through with it.
Later yesterday morning, I had to make a pit stop at Target. I walked by the tea isle and saw canned soups calling out to me. I saw the ones that deem they are the healthier choice. I looked at the sodium content. Not too bad. I grabbed a cream of mushroom and cream of chicken and tossed them into the basket. The decision had been made.
I knew that I would still need to pick up the remaining ingredients when the work day was done. I've always loved eating pasta dishes with Ricotta cheese, but I've never actually prepared any with it, so I had to figure out which section to find it in. I thought it would be near the deli cheeses, but no, of course not. It was with the cottage cheese and such.
It also dawned on me after the meal was cooked that this was the first lasagna that I've ever prepared. I had always been nervous to even think of taking on lasagna myself, thinking that it seemed too complicated.
It also became apparent to me that being back in the kitchen wholeheartedly is good medicine for me. It teaches me that I don't need to be afraid any longer, that I can do this. And one of the beauties is that it doesn't matter how simple it may seem, if it's new to me and I have these feelings of insecurity–what matters is I work through it, that I go through the process–and I love process!
Cooking has always been a part of my life and has been a stop-and-go adventure. And lately, I feel that with each meal that I prepare, with each new cooking adventure, I become that much more confident in other areas of my life.
I feel that I've been doing a good job so far when it comes to showing up to the page. Last week was a great week of colorful dreams. One in particular that I jotted down and drew as best I could. That got me inspired to bring my art box out of the garage, but it's still in the living room, waiting to have the contents taken out. I want to re-draw a portion of my dream–luckily it's not complicated–and add color and bring it to life. Even while I was dreaming, I told myself not to forget the image.
Without putting pressure or deadlines on myself, I told myself that I would like to show up to my blog journal during the week, and possibly the weekend if time allows. For me, this is also part of showing up. But most important, is if I show up at all, whether on my personal journal or my blog journal.
I feel that I started turning my back on writing, allowing it to slip away because I was switching the emphasis to work, to my class–but then I realized I was missing one of my passions–I wasn't being true to myself, and I was feeling that void. Maybe these were excuses, self-sabotage...that's why I always go back to my writing books, the ones that remind me to keep going. Even though I can tell myself the same thing, it's always nice to have someone who has lived through the stop-and-go for much longer and offer their personal stories and wisdom.
Reading certain writing books is like meditation for me.
One of the other things I like about writing is that in some ways, just as I face a blank page every day, it can really feel like that–like a new beginning every single day, every single moment. A blank page can be humbling. Even if we've been writing in our journals for years and years, tinkering with poems, haikus, short stories, what have you; for me there is always the opportunity for learning something new and growing, whether it's evident on the page or only within.
And there will always
be something new to learn
A long time ago, when I received low marks on an English paper in my early days of community college some 20 years ago, I told myself then that despite the bad marks and condescending tone of the teacher, I would make it my goal to master writing. And I've been at it ever since.
Writing is a life-long process; that is the beauty.
A few months back, I watched a two-part documentary on Woody Allen. I feel like watching it again because I know there are bits that I missed–what can I say, I like Woody, he's a highly talented and prolific writer, and he makes me laugh. The part in the movie that plays over and over in my head, though, is when he's sitting on his bed, going through a box of his writing snippets, just pieces of paper, maybe a napkin or two, and as he goes through his box of collected ideas, he remembers and tells us about them and which one's eventually grew from those snippets into something bigger. What also stuck out is that everyone loved working with him. And he seemed to have an instinct for how to bring out the best in the actors working for him, which translated onto camera.
Woody's box of ideas reminded me of how important it is for creative's, no matter what medium they work in, to write their ideas down. But not just to write them down, to go back, to flip through, thumb through–to sift out the ideas that can be worked on and brought to life.
I have snippets, collected ideas scribbled in many notebooks, half-thoughts jotted on several devices in the notes App, full drafts that need attention before bringing to the page.
Now, the sifting must begin.
My second-favorite quote of the year speaks to that feeling inside of us that stops us from being who we are or doing what we love:
"It's never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise."
On Sunday I had a patch of time to myself, about an hour and a half before hubby returned from his errand, and we went out and about together. I could have studied, could have read, cleaned. Instead, I felt a pull to the garage to organize boxes of books. There were many empty boxes that were scattered, that made it look as though there was more clutter than there actually was.
I started breaking down the empty boxes, then I began looking through the boxes of books, tying again to find more books to let go of. I was able to find two small boxes full of books that I felt it was time to part with, books that I knew I wasn't going to read, that had a time and place in my life, and I would only keep transporting them from home to home, possibly not giving them a proper home for themselves, confining my dear books to these lifeless boxes. It was time for these books to find new homes.
I was also able to consolidate some books to other boxes, marking them so that I would easily be able to find what I was looking for if the urge arose. Also, to hubby's dismay, because I would only be brining more clutter into the house, I brought two boxes of books inside. I put them in the living room and waiting for him to scold me. I told him I would find a place for them. The living room was off limits. I know how I can be, so the next morning I unpacked the boxes, stacked the books on my side of the bed to deal with later that day. I don't have any more shelf space, so I added to the stack in the corner on top of the small desk that I don't' actually use, and the rest are stacked in front of that stack. I really didn't bring all that many books back into the house. I don't like packing the boxes too heavy. In fact, I've let go of a lot of books. It's bitter sweet; at the same time it feels good to let go of these books that have been there for me, that have brought me joy–even the books that I never got around to reading all the way through. Now, they can bring someone else happiness when they're browsing the shelves of the local thrift store.
Each time I'm ready, I will continue looking through my boxes of books, tying to let go of more. Eventually, I will be left with only a few that I cannot part with–at least, not until I'm ready.
Yesterday before work, I went to the top section of a long shelf that shares books with clothes. It's where I keep some of my inspirational writing books. I pulled from the shelf: One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers by Gail Sher. Then I went to the bottom section of the shelf where I keep the few books I have on poetry. I pulled Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems: Volume One. With these in hand, I read a few pages from each to start my day. I love how Gail Sher describes writing. She says, "Writing is infinite, ever elusive, and ungraspable. We can never know what writing is. We can only know our experience minute to minute, as we write" (pg. 6). I nodded my head with a big smile as I read over her words again. She sums it up perfectly, and that's one of the many reasons I love writing for the constant discovery that writing offers, as long as we keep our pens moving and our minds free.
I've only dipped sparingly into Mary Oliver's poetry. I've had her book for several years, but as with certain books, I go at them at different paces. I'm ready to visit longer. What little of her poetry I have read, it is so incredibly beautiful and touches my soul.
During a break at work I wrote and posted "Small Slice of Solace."
Writing and books are often on my mind throughout the day, sometimes they slip away, but yesterday, it seemed there was a constant stream.
After work, I was ready to visit Barnes & Noble and use my gift card that I've been hanging on to for the right moment. I was pretty confident that I would be walking out of there with a cookbook, but I didn't even feel pulled to that section. I almost purchased a small light that is supposed to create calm. Where I really wanted to go was to the writing section. There's just something about writing books that I adore. I love hearing inspirational stories and words of wisdom from writing books. I wasn't looking for any one book. I sat on the floor and started looking through the possibilities. I saw a book that I had checked out of the library that I never finished before returning it: Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. I remember it being a fun book with a unique approach and it really is as the title suggests. Next I saw a book that I hadn't seen before or maybe I had and wasn't interested at the time: Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer's Resistance*
*Including Writer's Block, Procrastination, Paralysis, Perfectionism, Postponing, Distractions, Self-Sabotage, Excessive Criticism, Overscheduling, and Endlessly Delaying Your Writing
by Rosanne Bane.
Now how could I resist a title like that!
I think I'm really going to like this one. I've only just begun and I feel ignited.
And so, these were the two books that I chose.
Yesterday was a full course of reading, writing, books, and nature. I felt refreshed, inspired, rejuvenated.