Good Find Friday: Fall Baking

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox, which means it’s officially Fall in the Northern Hemisphere. And what’s a better way to make your home cozy in cool temperatures than the smell of baking?

If you’re someone who celebrates Oktoberfest, you can use up that leftover beer by making the Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting. With frosting ingredients like a pound of chocolate and two cups of heavy whipping cream, you’d better plan your work-outs now for the entire month of October! (You may just want to walk to Munich and back.)

Are you new to baking? Overloaded by pumpkin this or that everywhere you look? Go back to basics with the Betty Crocker recipe for Apple Crisp. It’s a classic and only uses six ingredients.

A word of advice for beginners: baking is a science, so follow the directions carefully. That small addition of baking powder or baking soda you’d like to skip? Yeah – you’re gonna need that.

fall-baking

I’m also a big fan of the Apple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cakes from Epicurious. Put them into your dinner party “looks impressive, easy to make” rotation. You won’t have left-overs for days – they’re made in a single muffin pan.

Chabad has 26 dessert recipes, just in time for Rosh Hashanah planning. They have several versions of the traditional honey cake as well as new things to try like vegan rugelach.

Here’s to a sweet Fall. Enjoy!

Cooking Light – Healthy Apple Recipes

Southern Living – Fall Pie, Tart and Cobbler Recipes

Pioneer Woman Caramel Apples

Barefoot Contessa Carrot Cake with Ginger Mascarpone Frosting

 

Shift the No

Tags

, , , ,

 

There’s something about “My Name Is No” that makes me laugh every time.

Top 40 isn’t your thing? Here’s the chorus a girl sings to a guy hitting on her at a nightclub:

“My name is “No.” My sign is “No.” My number is “No.” You need to let it go. You need to let it go!”

In the September series, A Lot to Learn, we’re looking at ways to shift the old school self-help “fix-it” mentality to a new cycle of constant learning.

No one likes to hear “no”. Sometimes we run into unexpected roadblocks, even on good projects. Other times, we’re the ones hitting the pause button. Whatever the circumstance, is there a way to shift out of instant disappointment?

This was Bhakti’s predicament. Her post-yoga smoothie date with her best friend, Cathy, was anything but smooth.

“I don’t get it,” Bhakti cried in exasperation. “Plans for my new business were going so well. Now everything’s a mess.”

Cathy tried to console her. “Surely everything can’t be a mess. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Where do I start?! The spa is waffling about having an ayurvedic practioner. They seemed to love my pitch, but I can’t get a firm answer about a start date and our financial split.”

“The bank doesn’t want to increase the line on my credit card until I can confirm my income, which I can’t do yet. How am I ever going to buy the supplies I need?”

“And my family is no help. At dinner, I try to get some support, but my husband and daughter give me the look of “Do we have to talk about that again?” Yes! We’re talking about it until everything is ironed out.”

shift-no-to-learning-mode

Cathy shook her head. “OK, you’ve got me. You know I’m not normally at a loss for words, but even I’m speechless over that list!” Their eyes met, and they began to laugh.

“I know it’s counter-intuitive, but I think you need to take the week off.”

Bhakti stopped laughing. “You’re kidding. I can’t do that. I need to get some answers!”

“I realize that. It’s just that trying to force decisions doesn’t seem to be working. If you can’t take the whole week, at least take a long weekend. Get outside. Go have some fun with your family and forget about business. Give your mind a rest. You can get back into it next week.”

Poor Bhakti – in every direction, she kept hearing, “My Name Is No.” But the supposed blocks were giving her a lot of second chances to learn. She had opportunities to retool her services, find a more affordable product supplier, or even consider why she was eager to be in business with someone who wouldn’t commit.

This week, accept that hearing no is a natural part of stretching, of learning something new. But shift the “no” into learning mode. Hear “not now,” “not quite,” or “not ready”. Then you can transform frustration into positive action.

And what about all that irritation and resistance?

You need to let it go.

Good Find Friday: Meet Mari Andrew

Tags

, , , ,

Have you met illustrator Mari Andrew?

Her Instagram feed will keep you smiling with irreverent insights about dating and being an artist, like the entertaining Inspiration wheel below. (Be sure to figure out “Which Plant Are You?“)

Mari Andrews Inspiration

This week, a “Thank You!” drawing caught my eye. Her stunning caption shows that getting serious can be rewarding and fun.

Mari, take it away:

“Today marks one year of illustrating!! I’m almost 30 and I just started drawing this time last year.

I realize I’m young in the grand scheme of things, but I didn’t know I could start a new hobby at this point and have it lead to so many wonderful relationships and opportunities that have enriched and changed the shape of my life.

If you feel too old/young/amateur/busy/ridiculous to begin anything that makes you happy, don’t — just pick up a pen! Making these doodles is the happiest part of my day, and your support means more to me than you can ever know.

Thank you so, so much.”

Do what makes you happy, Soul Bosses. And check her out – she’s a delight!

Enjoy!

Skip or Skim At Your Peril

Tags

, , , , , ,

 

I was surprised to hear a former colleague got married.

OK, pleasantly surprised. But still surprised.

You see, he’s a relaxed, “I’ll see you when I see you” kind of guy.

I quizzed him about the sudden nuptials when our paths crossed.

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “It was just time. Time to get serious.”

The September series, A Lot to Learn, is looking at how we can stay a lifelong learner. Keeping an open mind is only step one; we must actively pursue and begin something new.

In 2014, New York Times columnist David Carr launched his communications class, “Press Play.” Helping fledgling writers at Boston University make sense of the 24/7 media cycle was a tall order, even for a seasoned journalist like David Carr.

Here’s his lighthearted bio from the syllabus:

Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs, even when he is actually amused.

He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech.

Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.

In spite of his celebrity status, his class was not to be seen as a lark. He advised, “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings. Skip or skim at your peril.”

acres-of-diamonds

There’s a lot of talk going around about putting in “10,000 hours.” The theory is that once you’ve devoted 10,000 hours to something, you’re an expert.

Sounds good!

However, is time the sole quality necessary to be an authority?

Classical musicians find this theory especially hard to accept. You’ll see them raise an eyebrow and warn you that if you practice something incorrectly, let alone for 10,000 hours, the only thing you’ll be an expert at is making mistakes.

Where do you need to dig in to really become the expert? Where will you admit, “OK – I may have put in the time, but I’ve kind of been skipping and skimming.”

Maybe your side hustle needs to shift from “I’ll get to that business when I have the energy” to weekly office hours.

Or this could be the right time to pursue that fringe opportunity, whether it’s a new area at work or working with challenging people in your community. You know the one – where you waffle between the excitement of, “I’d be great at that!” to the panic of, “Think how much I’ll have to skill up!”

Whatever direction you go, see your time investment not as a sacrifice, but as the path to becoming an incredible artisan. Begin to live the words of Earl Nightingale: “You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds.”

Good Find Friday: 3 Ways to Kickstart September

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Are you already feeling behind, even though the school year has just started?

Relax. It’s still the first week of the month!

Kickstart September with these 3 easy ideas:

Schedule the big picture. I know a middle schooler who keeps claiming that he has plenty of time to work on the first big report of the school year. Then Dad reminded him that he has soccer, choir practice and a family birthday party in between. Hmmm…

What’s the easy fix? A monthly calendar. I use a dry erase board, but a paper version works just as well. The key is to have a large visual that’s easily accessible to everyone in the house. And before you get overscheduled, be sure to bake in some Quiet Hours.

Refresh Your Supplies. Kids aren’t the only ones that need school supplies. Put yourself on the shopping list and get something that will keep you organized (like a planner) or creative (such as craft supplies). My creative splurge was a Staub cast iron pot. New Fall comfort food recipes? It’s on!

Up your Organizing Game. Make this the season you take 10 minutes in the morning or evening to park your mail and the endless school paperwork in a Command Center. In no time your family table can transform from a random landing strip to the center of warm conversation, great meals, and fun.

Enjoy!

kickstart-september

We All Learn

Tags

, , , ,

 

Does the phrase “self-help” make you wince?

That’s ok.

Many people associate self-help with a fix-it mentality. Life would be so much better if we could just correct that bad decision. And then the next mistake. And the next.

What if we could create a model that omits the guilt?

Now you’re talking.

Just like blank notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils, the September series, A Lot to Learn, will set a new standard where everyone is a lifelong learner.

Rob Brezsny frames spiritual growth within a vibrant state of curiosity and receptivity in his book, PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings. Here’s what he wrote:

Receptivity is not a passive state. Nor is it a blank, empty waiting around for whatever happens to come along.

In urging you to cultivate receptivity, I don’t mean you should become a lazy do-nothing, bereft of goals, reacting blindly to whatever life throws in front of you.

Receptivity is a robust readiness to be surprised and moved; a vigorous intention to be awake to everything you can’t control.

When you’re receptive in the pronoiac style, you have strong ideas and a powerful will and an eagerness to disseminate your unique blessings, but you’re also animated by the humble certainty that you have a lot to learn.

Receptivity-Readiness

I was reminded of this theme while watching QVC. LOGO designer Lori Goldstein chatted with host Jacque Gonzales, waiting for the next product. Jacque laughed about stumbling over the intro when she first presented a peplum blouse, pronouncing it “pep-loom”.

Since the fashion industry is known for witty, sharp put-downs, I held my breath waiting for Lori’s comeback.

Lori looked at her and said calmly, “We all learn.”

That’s grace in just three words.

Lori Goldstein has learned a lot since arriving in Los Angeles from Ohio at the age of 17. She landed a job working for fashion icon Fred Segal and quickly gained the insight that style was more than being well dressed.

For Fred, it was constant creative expression. She remembers, “He was someone who was very much an individual, someone who showed that you can break the mold and do things your own way.”

During her long career as a stylist, including collaborating with famed photographer Annie Liebovitz for over 15 years, Lori applied the smart individualism Fred taught her. Every project had to be approached on its own merits – it was the key to successful shoots. The rigid egoism of “this always works” actually never worked.

Lori says, “The way that I live my life always is through instinct. I think that pulse is always there for us if we tap into it. I’m not somebody who looks to other people to see what they’re doing.”

This week, maintain “…a robust readiness to be surprised and moved”. You’ll probably have or witness a slip-up that’s obvious to everyone else in the room. Before you leap to judgment or put yourself down, take Lori Goldstein’s generous response as your new mantra.

We all learn.

Good Find Friday: Quiet Hours

Tags

, , , , ,

Gemütlichkeit. It’s how Germans relax.

You’re saying, “What? Germans relax?!”

Absolutely.

When you hear, “Gemütlichkeit”, think a state of warmth, friendliness, coziness, peace of mind, and even social acceptance. Some people have described it as the mood of a German beer garden.

Germans take it one step further with Ruhezeit (quiet time). Quiet time happens nightly from 8 PM until 7 AM, and all day on Sundays and holidays.

Why is this important for you? Because relaxation is as essential as getting stuff done. In fact, you won’t have the mental and physical energy you need unless you take a break.

Are you protesting? Claiming that your September To Do list is getting bigger by the day, even if you don’t have kids going back to school?

Even more reason for open space.

This weekend, take some time out in nature, linger over a meal, or find a few minutes to just be (without your favorite device in front of you). Better yet, make quiet time part of your Fall family ritual.

Enjoy!

Heaven is under our feet

The Opposite Day

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

 

I have a friend whose son just left for college. As she pored over his baby pictures, College Guy packed and told me about school. “This is going to be so much harder than high school AP classes.” “I already need more money for textbooks.” “I’m sure I’m going to be pulling all-nighters.”

Sound exhausting? Don’t worry – there’s still plenty of time to turn it around.

The August series, Easy Fixes, has focused on quick ways to address everyday problems. Here’s your parting gift – the technique of the opposite day.

It’s a process by author Peggy Rometo. It didn’t start on a mountain top. It was borne out of frustration.

When block after block appears, Peggy will ask herself, “What’s the exact opposite of what I would normally do? If I could start today all over again, how could I have the opposite day?”

Hold up – this isn’t a license to let your inner Darth Vader cut loose from the dark side. Simply flip your thinking past the tried and true to whatever pops into your head. Ideas first, decisions later.

College Guy has a golden opportunity to have the opposite day. His subconscious attitude is “the only quality work is hard work, so I’m preparing myself for life to be hard.” Instead, he could change his mind to, “College is going to be challenging, but I’m excited about pursuing my passion.” This outlook applies the Soul Boss principle to amp up the joy and turn down the struggle.

The Opposite Day

This series has demonstrated how people can choose the opposite day.

  1. Get the Easy Stuff Right” showed how to give up right fighting. Restrictive words like “always” and “never” were replaced with “I’m willing”. Above, College Guy was projecting how overwhelmed he was going to be, and he hadn’t even stepped on campus. He could have said, “I’m willing to be surprised.”
  2. Avoid the Fight” focused on heading off touchy situations before they spin out of control. You can use steps like: (1) remembering your original intention; (2) asking discerning questions like “Am I seeing this clearly?” and “Is this mine to do?”; and (3) using mindfulness to reign in and transform emotions that are flying fast and furious.
  3. Just Like Me” revealed how keeping an open mind is essential to staying in the flow. We’re drifting when we look for the “one size fits all” remedy, the moment everyone is just like us. Changes begin when we recognize that complexity and ambiguity are a problem for the ego’s shadow side, not Spirit.
  4. In “Plan Be“, we learned how to rise above upsetting moments. Taking random actions just to feel like we’re doing something rarely works out. When we’re feeling anxious and unhappy, we have an invitation to Plan Be.

This is the week to surprise yourself with creative solutions. Find one thing to get moving, one small shift. When you’re slipping back to those cliché, knee-jerk reactions, stop and ask yourself, “How can I have the opposite day?”

Good Find Friday: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Tags

, , , ,

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It’s a classic quote from Dr. Richard Carlson that still works.

He doesn’t stop there – he has a whole list of good habits. And what a better way to wrap the August series, Easy Fixes?

Enjoy!

Dont Sweat the Small Stuff

 

Plan Be

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

 

In the classic political movie, “The Best Man”, a politician glances at a Presidential candidate and sighs, “He fires off a cannon to kill a bug. And that’s just plain dumb.”

Can you relate?

We’ve been talking about quick ways to address everyday problems in the August series, Easy Fixes. Have you ever had a situation that didn’t sync with your master plan? And then you lost your cool and set off a cannon to kill a bug?

Suzy Toronto, author of The Sacred Sisterhood of Wonderful Wacky Women, described the tension of learning how to handle Plan B.

Life is all about how you handle Plan B.

Plan A is always my first choice.

You know, the one where

Everything works out to be

Happily ever after.

But more often than not,

I find myself dealing with

The upside-down, inside-out version,

Where nothing goes as it should.

It’s at this point that the real

Test of my character comes in.

Do I sink, or do I swim?

Do I wallow in self-pity & play the victim,

Or simply shift gears

And make the best of the situation?

The choice is all mine.

Life is all about how you handle Plan B.

By August, you might be feeling angry or resentful after watching your beautiful 2016 intentions get turned upside-down and inside-out. Are you ready to channel all that frustration into action? Hit the brakes before action turns into acting out. Plan B is your ally.

In fact, let’s change it to Plan Be.

Loving Plan Be doesn’t mean you stop caring about results. And you certainly don’t put your feet up, idly waiting for a miracle. The easy fix is to show some patience.

A time out would have been perfect for the talk radio caller. He was passionate about starting a business, and did just that. His parents were so excited to help that they invested.

Everything sounded great…until he asked the show host for techniques about to have a hard conversation. He forgot to mention that several banks had turned down his business plan. And that his parents didn’t have cash. What they did have was a mortgage-free home.

After convincing them about the rush to launch, his parents borrowed equity. Unfortunately, their only hope to repay the debt was blow-out profits in year 1. You see, they were retired. Now he had to tell them that in addition to the business going belly up, they were probably going to lose their home.

So how do you know when it’s time to take the hint and calibrate? If you’re nervous like the caller, or if you’re taking action to compete with or get back at someone else, you have an invitation to Plan Be.

This week, don’t get anxious and shoot off a cannon to kill a bug. You may be on the sidelines, but that time to take a second look, to adjust to changing circumstances, can be filled with purpose.

And what about all those detours and delays? They can still get you to happily ever after.