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Twice I have aspired to participate in this phenomenon which is called NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. That is, the month of November. If you haven’t heard of it, the idea is to set a word goal for yourself, and using the provided website and other participants for encouragement, pound out a novel in one month. Suffice it to say I failed miserably both times, barely reaching several thousand words.

It was discouraging, making me feel as though I must not /really/ want to be a writer, if I can’t make myself just sit down and write. Both times I became frustrated with myself, and probably ended up hardly writing for weeks afterward, due to being burnt out on trying to make it work; trying to force myself to write something that I hadn’t even worked out a plot for. Ultimately, it felt like I had failed before I even began.

I refuse to do that again.

It is a wonderful idea, and it works for very many people, but not for me. Just because something is a good thing, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for you personally. While self-enlightenment does tend to be a bit of an overstated thing these days, it is important to recognize things about yourself and how you work- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- as to live in a way that is wholesome, healthy, and beneficial to you and those that you care about.

That said, this November I will not burden myself with the goal to create. Creating, for me, shouldn’t be a goal or a deadline, it should be a pouring of soul into words and images.

So. This November, what I’m going to do instead is complete the 30-day Minimalist Challenge. Day one, you get rid of one thing. Day two- two things. And so on and so forth. I have always been way too materialistic, and it’s starting to clutter up my life, my living space, my mind, everything. I have too many things that fall under the category of “I’ll make something with it someday” or “It might be useful to have around someday”.

It will more than likely be a bit of a challenge, I fully acknowledge that, especially because lately I’ve been working hard to adopt more of a minimalistic lifestyle and therefore have already been getting rid of things left and right. I still have too much stuff though, so this November I’m letting it go.

I’m letting physical belongings go, and I’m going to try and let circumstances that are beyond my control go as well. I’m going to try and let crippling doubts and worries go. I’m going to let go of a performance based lifestyle and instead do the things that need done and that I love to do simply because that’s what I want to do, and that is what’s best for me. I am going to let go of my fear of being vulnerable. I am going to let go of the notion that circumstances are anything but what they are simply because I am met with disapproval or disdain.

So there. I’m letting go of the things that honestly matter much less than we generally think they do, and I’m letting go of unfair obligations I place upon myself to try and be someone. I am someone. Maybe I’m someone who forgets to brush my teeth, and binge-watches Netflix, and says things I shouldn’t to people who may or may not deserve it, but I am someone.

I don’t need to “better myself'”, I just need to do things that are better. Like letting crap go.

I will be cataloging the things I get rid of, and will probably post updates here on how things are going, how it’s affecting me mentally, etc.

Peace- A

eucharisteo

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No. 1 Reason Why I Got A Tattoo
I like how they look, plain and simple.
I think they’re a beautiful, artistic way to express yourself, and in many ways they’re a lovely form of expression on the part of the tattoo artist. It takes a lot of talent, patience, practice, confidence, and I admire them for that. I think that tattoos (if they are tasteful, and not obscene or disturbing) should really begin to lose the “evil” reputation that they seem to have. Having a tattoo in no way, shape, or form has any effect on who you are inside. It is simply an outside decoration of our earthly bodies.

No. 1 Reason Why I Got THIS Tattoo
Eucharisteo. It’s a fairly revolutionary way of thinking about life. What it means is this:
“A Greek word meaning thanksgiving, to be thankful.
Envelopes the Greek root word charis meaning grace, and the derivative chara which is Greek for joy.
He took the bread, and knew it to be a gift and gave thanks. We too participate in eucharisteo in communion and in life if we so choose.”

Courtesy of the Urban Dictionary. Yes, it has its uses.
So basically, the idea of eucharisteo is that when we live with Grace, that enables us to be Thankful, even through the trials in life, and from the thankfulness comes Joy.

It’s a beautiful idea, and one that has completely changed the way I look at life and live from day to day.

So that’s why I got a tattoo that says eucharisteo. Every single time I see that, I will remember. Every time. Every day.

The nest and flowers? Well, the nest because that’s what is on the cover of the book that taught me about eucharisteo. Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. And the flowers because I thought they were pretty.
And that’s pretty much it.

Disclaimers: I will not regret my tattoo ever. I do not care what it makes people think of me. I do not care what it will look like when I’m old.

Don’t Be Afraid

Life is just too dang short.

You forget that, and you hold back. You get nervous, or scared, and don’t do things that you should do. You don’t say things that you should say, because you’re afraid that the time’s not right. But if the time’s always not right, then when will it be?

You have got to stop waiting. It’s time to be amazing. Even if being amazing only entails being glad to go to work. Or being thankful that you’ve got the things that you have got.

You’ve got to be amazing because if you don’t start sometime, you’ll only have a few years left to be amazing. And I know that you’ve got plenty of amazing to add to this world, so how can you keep holding that back?

If you compare the things that scare you now to things in life that are truly terrifying, you might start to realize that it’s silly to be scared of those things. You might start to realize that it’s easier than you think to conquer those fears, and when you do you’ll be able to look back and laugh at how silly you were to fear these things.

And so I urge you, next time you become scared of something, and you wonder if maybe you shouldn’t really be frightened, decide that you don’t have time for this. Fear does not control you, or any part of your life.

Decide that the time for being afraid is over, and be amazing.

Life is too short to be afraid.

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Writer’s Block.

It’s not what you think it is. It’s not where you think it is. It just doesn’t work like you think it does, like it sounds like it ought to.

It’s terrible, that much is true. Claustrophobic, frustrating, stressful, depressing- the works. When it’s there, you feel like it will never end, like you will always have this inability, this ineptitude, to actually write your thoughts down and communicate like a literate, intelligent person.

Here’s the thing.

It’s a mental block, but like I said, it’s not where you think it ought to be. It’s not blocking the words from flowing around in your head. It’s not keeping you from thinking of beautiful adjectives and gloriously structured sentences. I mean, sometimes it does, but usually not. They’re all there, in your head, banging around something awful, creating a racket that you’re surprised can’t be heard outside your mind.

So get this.

How this “block” causes trouble, is by keeping the words from flowing through your fingers. It traps them in your already panicking brain, and mixes them all up and makes a mess, and even though you try as hard as you can, there’s no way to make them sprout from the end of a pen, no way to string them together on the keyboard, and they’re all just… there. Wanting to come out, wanting to trip across the paper, or the screen, wanting to make sense, to reach out and grab people right by the brain lobes and scream “look at this” and mean something to them, and touch their hearts like only the right words can.

But they’re blocked.

Just… drifting little words, and after a while they start to dissipate, fade away into the recesses of your stressed mind, and sometimes a blankness follows. Sometimes the block is stubborn enough that after a while there’s just nothing left. No words, no sentences, eventually no desire. Blankness, and you wonder why you want to be a writer, and you wonder what you were thinking, and you worry that you can’t write well anyways, and you worry that your words never touch anyone, and no one really likes it but maybe they just say they do to be nice and-

Blocked.

Writer’s block screws with your head, no doubt about it. It makes you doubt yourself, lose faith, become depressed, a myriad of things, or if you’re like me it just makes you irrationally angry and restless and more than a little hysterical.

So I’ll finish with a good thing, because there is one.

Writer’s Block doesn’t last.

Let me say that again.

Writer’s. Block. Doesn’t. Last.

Okay? So get that into your head right now and try not to forget it because I promise, I promise, it’s true. And I’m speaking from experience here. It may last days, weeks, maybe only hours, but it will end. It won’t be when you want it to, it won’t be like you expect it to be, but it will be wonderful, and you’ll know it when you see it, trust me.

It will hit suddenly, and you’ll probably be doing something, maybe something important, like sleeping, and you’ll all of a sudden realize that if you don’t have a pen in your hand right now and a paper to word-vomit onto you’re going to spontaneously combust. There’ll be just as many words and ideas in your head as before, when the block was there, but this time they’ll all be clamoring at the entrance, all trying to spill out at once, and your hand won’t be able to keep up with them, but they’ll all come out anyways, all messy and misspelled and beautiful because my gosh you’re writing again and it’s working and it feels so so amazing and there’s nothing quite like it in this whole wide world.

Amazing.

It’s amazing, that’s all there is to it. Impossible for someone who doesn’t write to understand completely, but that’s okay because obviously their talents lie elsewhere, and that’s just fine.

But all you writers out there, just remember, it ends.

Otherwise known as a Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Tart.

DSC_0072Yeah, you read that right. I made it over the holidays, and it was flipping amazing, let me tell you. It didn’t last long enough, as per usual in our household, but it was really amazing with the pumpkin pie liqueur we had…

DSC_0077And since it was the beautiful holidays, I had access to a perfect little setting for my gorgeous tart pictures.

DSC_0080So, what we’re looking at here, is a basic tart crust, a layer of orange custard, a massive layer of orange/chocolate ganache, and finally chopped hazelnuts on top (which unfortunately I forgot to toast before putting on)

DSC_0085But it was amazing anyways. So there. I would make it again in a heartbeat, and really should some day.

This has been another Food Blog.
Peace out, homies.

-A

Oh Beautiful Foods!

Three delightful foods I made over the holidays!

1. Peppermint Muffins w/Fudge Frosting.

DSC_0006I used my trusty muffin recipe, and added a bag of peppermint tea to the batter, then made my favorite fudge frosting. They were delightful.

2. More muffins! What a surprise!

DSC_0050These ones were all lovely orange. Orangey muffins, orangey frosting, they were wonderful. And when you add teeny orange wedges to anything, it automatically becomes better. This is fact.

3. This. THIS. THING. RIGHT. HERE.

DSC_0068Maybe it doesn’t look like much. It was amazing. Gourmet tuna, I guess you could call it. We had just watched a t.v. show about the best sandwiches in the USA, and we were all starving, and all I could think about was sandwiches. And this was born.
I can’t remember all the details, but I know that I mixed canned tuna with some egg, possibly some mayonnaise, sweet onion mustard, parsley, dill, and maybe a couple other things. I then formed it carefully into a patty, and fried it in an already heated cast iron pan with olive oil.
In the meantime, I toasted to pieces of sourdough bread, and mixed up a little spread of mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill, and parsley. I put that goodness on the bread, and melted some cheddar cheese on the tuna patty, and put it all together and OH MY ACTUAL GOODNESS.

It was beautiful. Just… beautiful.

I think I love food too much.

That’s all I have for now.

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Peanut Butter Muffins with Fudge Frosting

Muffins-
1 1/2 cups flour (I used Namaste gluten-free)
1/3 cup natural sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted & cooled butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup buttermilk

Frosting-
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350, and line or grease standard size muffin tin.

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, into a bowl with high sides and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center.

Lightly whisk eggs with butter, vanilla, and peanut butter, then pour the mixture into the well. Evenly distribute the buttermilk around the outside edges of the dry ingredients.

Mix until just incorporated, using your hands or a wooden spoon (gently), and scoop or spoon the batter into the muffin tin. (I have fairly small muffin tins, so making them rather large I ended up with nine muffins.)

Bake for fifteen minutes, rotate the pan, and let go for another ten or so minutes. My oven cooks hot, so I have to watch them carefully. Take note of whether your oven cooks hotter than usual or not, and adjust time accordingly.

In the meantime, mix the powdered sugar and cocoa in a small bowl. Place the butter in the middle, and pour some of the boiling water over it. This will help to melt the butter, and as you stir you can determine how much more water you will need to reach the desired consistency.

Let muffins cool approx. 5 minutes before frosting.

Note: In my experience, muffins made with gluten-free flour tend to take slightly longer to cook.

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