Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Category: life Page 1 of 10

Today’s haiku

dentist chairbetween injections

dentist’s chair meditation:

“and this, too, shall pass”

—apparently my body doesn’t recognize anesthetics well, much to my (and the dentist’s) dismay

Self-reflection

It’s getting towards the end of the year, which is when I tend to start looking at my To Do list (aka a ‘goals’ list, or actually more of an ‘intentions’ list) and checking to see how I’m doing*. Am I on track to accomplish the goals I set out on January 1? How am I doing with the intentions I set way back then?

One of the barometers I use is my reading list. Lately it has been noticeably devoid of my usual suspects. Where is the urban fantasy? Science fiction? Good literature? Non-fiction? Classics?

Not on this girl’s nightstand.

Nope. It’s been a slew of romance novels, ranging from YA to Nora Roberts to Christina Lauren and on up, along with my daily dose of stoicism, and occasional hit of Pema Chodron.

<insert screech of record needle on vinyl>

Yeah, I know. Believe me.

Romance novels and stoicism? What kind of combination is that?

Apparently it’s exactly what I need at this moment in time.

Romance novels are guaranteed happy stories. Right now, I like knowing how the story will end, and knowing that it will end just the way I want it to—with people making mistakes, learning lessons, and becoming better (and more loving) people.

I like that message.

Stoicism reminds me not to take myself so seriously. It reminds me that I can only control my own actions, and that to try to control what I cannot is the way to insanity.**

Pema Chodron reminds me to breathe and to take a kind, curious look at what disturbs me enough to have me hiding my head in the sand with my romance novels.***

So for all my hand-wringing about not reading “good” books****, maybe that’s okay right now.

Maybe keeping my sanity is important enough to let the To Do’s and goals and systems and intentions go for awhile.

They’ll be waiting for me when I’m ready to face them again.

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*I’ve been moving away from To Do’s/goals, and towards systems/intentions. I think it’s healthier for me, but it is a bit of change after so many years focused on Accomplishments.

**“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I think Yoda understood that trying to control anything (situations, people, marsh creatures) would never turn out well.

***Not that I have yet found the courage to do this type of reflection, but it’s a good reminder.

****I define “good” books as those that challenge me, that give me insight into aspects of life I wasn’t aware of. I’ve read a number of “good” books that happened to have been romance novels, but those are few and far between.

It’s alive! (well, online)

My (very) short story “Bitter Spell” was included in the Halloween episode of the Alone in a Room with Invisible People podcast, and Rebecca Galardo did a fantastic job reading it. It’s so different to actually hear your written words spoken aloud (esp. by someone else), versus hearing them in your head as you read. As I listened to the story, I thought, “I wrote that? Wow.”

You can hear the story here (at the 1:58:35 mark):

Episode 71: 2nd Annual Halloween Special: Listener Edition – Part Two

Credit goes to Holly Lisle and her “How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck” course (it’s free!).

And now back to the writing…

I won!

Out of numerous entries, my (very) short story, “Bitter Spell,” was chosen to be read on the upcoming Halloween episode of the Alone in a Room with Invisible People podcast.

Curious what this may look (er, sound) like? Check out last year’s Halloween episode. (Skip over the first 30 seconds to avoid the creepy intro.)

I’m excited to hear my work read outloud by a voice not my own, let alone possibly by Holly Lisle, whose classes I have taken. Validation FTW!

Have a Happy Halloween, and may your zombie ex-husbands not come after you.

 

Today’s haiku

maples leaves in the raincrimson maple trees

blazing color in the rain

nature on fire

Quick and easy rye bread? Oh, yeah

Fall is here, and that means it’s time to get back into baking bread. I was looking at making a rye bread, but discovered that my favorite rye bread recipe (which I hadn’t made since last winter) would take a very long day.*

I didn’t have the time for that.

Instead, I found a stray ‘try me’ recipe I’ve had for awhile and decided to give it a shot: Rye Soda Bread.

What I got was a fairly light loaf with lovely chewiness. And it took all of an hour**.

Rye Soda Bread***

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups whole-grain flour, plus extra for dusting (I used whole wheat pastry flour)

1 cup rye flour (I used a dark rye flour)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt (I substituted 5/8 cup sour cream mixed with 5/8 cup of water****)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Mix both flours, the oats, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream mixture) together, then use a fork to stir the egg mixture into the flour. Once it starts to come together, use your lightly floured clean hands to pat and bring the dough together.

Shape the dough into a round ball and place on a lightly floured baking sheet, dusting the top lightly with flour too. (I patted it into a loaf and placed it in a greased loaf pan.) Use your hands to flatten the dough into a disk, about 1/4 inch deep, then bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a firm crust has formed and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (I use a thermopen and look for 190+ degrees and a clean probe.)

Transfer to a wire cooling rack, and serve slightly warm.

Upon writing out the recipe with my modifications, I realized that perhaps I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Whoops. Well, give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments.

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*Multiple proofs, and that is after having to boil a molasses mixture and then drop its temperature gently, which takes forever.

**Well, after the oven pre-heat.

***Unfortunately, I didn’t note where I found the recipe. I really need to write that down when I photocopy recipes from library books.

****Okay, so it wasn’t precisely 5/8 cup, but as close as I could eyeball it with the Pyrex measuring cup.

Today’s haiku

storm clouds approaching

peeks of blue in the distance

ducks huddle nearby

Today’s haiku

lightning

woke to drums pounding
lightning flashing in the sky
—a striking commute

—Very strange for the Portland area. Very very strange.
And yet I can’t not pun.

Today’s haiku

beer and sunglasses

watching films outside

blockbusters of my childhood

nostalgia with beer

-ah, happy summer days

Bestest frosting EVER

Well, if that isn’t a clickbait title….

Just look at that! Sweet.

For anniversary/birthday celebration, I experimented with a new recipe* for Chocolate Malt Layer Cake with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting. Not only was the recipe new to me, but the technique was a new one, too: all cake ingredients layered into a food processor and set to frappe.

I’m not sure the food processor really did anything different than my stand mixer, but it was a new method.

The cake was good: chocolate tasting without being chalky and overly sweet. Could have used more malt flavor, but it was fine.

The frosting was excellent, and that was even with not adding the 4-6 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Check this out:

Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

Put 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, 1 stick room temperature unsalted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a food processor bowl. Cover and frappe until smooth “no more than a few seconds”**.

You could follow the original recipe and then add 4+ cups of confectioners’ sugar, but why would you? This frosting has a lovely sweetness that complements the tang of the cream cheese and sour cream. It’s perfect as is!***

And I’m pretty darned pleased with the results. I mean, look at that thin layer of frosting in the middle!

So this is one recipe that goes down in the “Win” column. Woo hoo!

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*For the life of me, I cannot remember which cookbook I found the recipe in. I think it was a ‘fast/easy cooking’ book involving food processors, but that’s all I’ve got.

**It took me longer than ‘a few seconds’, unless the author defines ‘a few’ as nearing 60.

***Seriously. I could just eat that frosting straight out of the bowl and not get sick off it. Of course, I didn’t actually try that. Much.

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