Tag Archives: baking

Christmas Season 2017

The holiday season thus far has consisted mostly of baking. I’ve made apple cider caramels, applesauce donuts, chai cookies, toffee-chocolate puddle oatmeal cookies, and milk chocolate cookies with orange zest. The process of baking and producing something really delicious makes me feel productive, and I always have Chris take them to work, so it’s something I can do to share, too.

I’ve also made a lot of biscuits and gravy, which I’ve decided is my best meal.  Christmas menu will consist of some kind of pasta dish (possibly salmon or shrimp alfredo), green beans with a miso dressing, crispy potato stacks, and for dessert, an almond-jam chocolate cake I’m super excited about.

We’re at home for Christmas for the first time, which means we actually have to decorate and get a tree. Because we’re in Oregon, that means getting a fresh one. For music, I’ve made a Spotify list of the old standbys: Sarah McLachlan, Avalon, Enya, and Pentatonix. Joining them this year are Johnnyswim,  Tyrone Wells, Dia Frampton, Sia, and Penny and Sparrow.

I’m almost done with Christmas shopping, which is always more expensive than I expect, but that’s because I pride myself on my gift-giving. Chris and I both have birthdays right after Christmas, too, and then it’s Valentine’s Day.

On the less happy side of things, the lack of sunlight is starting to get to me already. I need to get vitamin D. In the last three days, I’ve had naps that are much too long, and they’re those depression naps where I can tell my body is not actually tired, but my brain is so foggy I can’t do anything else. Those naps almost come with strange dreams, too, like Chris getting abducted by aliens and me trapped in another person’s body. I’m still grieving for Baxter. Haven’t cleaned his room yet, though now it’s more just because I don’t want to go to all the effort. I still miss him the most at night when I can’t sleep, and I don’t have anywhere else to go and lie down to calm down.

What else, what else…still grinding away on my novel. I write about 3-4 pages a day in my moleskin. Still writing cookbooks and food books for work. My Gildshire book hopefully comes out soon. That’s about it right now.



what I’ve been into

TV that I’m into: “Playing House” on USA with Jessica St. Claire and Lennon Parham. I’ve been binge-watching this show, and I LOVE it. It’s exactly my sense of humor. It also has the added bonus of having Keegan-Michael Key in it.

TV that I’m looking forward to: “I’m Sorry” with Andrea Savage on TruTV

Books I’ve been reading: I’ve been reading A LOT lately, which is good. Just finished a historical novel called The Ghost of the Mary Celeste. It’s based on a real incident, and pulls a lot from history including the Spiritualism craze, Arthur Conan Doyle, and more. I just started my second Erik Larson book, In The Garden of Beasts. It’s about the American consulate in Germany during WWII and his family.

Work stuff: Just finished a book on Ethereum, which is Bitcoin’s competition. It’s unique in that you can create applications on its blockchain, it’s not just for currency. If that makes no sense to you, look it up, I’m not going to summarize the book again. I usually just get blank stares. Still working on the book for my Gildshire articles, too, just finished up editing and writing the intros.

What I’ve cooked/baked lately: Made no-bake brownies with black beans and dates. It’s more like fudge than brownies, but it’s delicious. Getting out a slice is kind of like digging for fossils, because they have to be frozen, but it’s worth it. I also made homemade tomato sauce the other day. It was a bit runny, but I can thicken it up by just reducing it some more. I didn’t make this, but we tried Ben and Jerry’s “One Love” ice cream flavor, which is banana ice cream, graham cracker, caramel, and chocolate peace signs. Chris says it might be his new favorite.

Fitness stuff: Still using the good ol’ mini trampoline and rowing machine most nights. I take just one day off a week. Also got myself a resistance band, which is very convenient. Looking forward to having the toned arms of my dreams. It’s been gross and hot lately, so haven’t been exercising outdoors as much as I (or Yoshi) would like, but what can ya do. I know weight isn’t the goal here, but I am happy that I’ve successfully went down to about 155 after plateauing at 160 for so long. Paying attention to macros and sugar has made the difference. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating just 1200 calories if way too many of them are coming from sugar.

Novel stuff: Still steadily working on my Harley Gray novel. I filled out one notebook, so I’m on to a new one. That feels like an accomplishment. Been focusing a lot on trying to actually picture my characters moving around in the world I’ve created, so I can convey that to the reader. That means writing a lot of stuff that won’t actually end up in the book. I’m still figuring out how to get that in the story without actually putting it in the story (like a character’s whole marriage, basically), but I enjoy the challenge.

So that’s pretty much it, that’s what I’ve been doing. Small group meets again soon. Chris’ parents will be visiting, which means beach day!



Homemade Pizza, Thoreau, and Feathered Serpents

It seems like it’s been forever since I wrote. I really want to take a nap since I couldn’t stay asleep last night, but I’ll endure for now.

Pizza, pizza:

So I have already fulfilled my goal of making a homemade pizza dough and I gotta say, for a rough start, it turned out pretty well. The night before the pizza was to be made, I made the dough according to an overnight recipe (with the dough hook on my mixer, which is very handy) and awaited the day. When I checked on it many hours later, I was disappointed to see that it had not risen as much as promised. No matter. I’ll try again. For the second dough, I put the yeast in warm water and sugar and let it get all bubbly before I added it to the rest of the ingredients. That seemed to do the trick, because it only took about 1.5 hours for the dough to rise. So I had enough dough for two pizzas no problem. One for me and Chris, and one for Ren and Bonny. They brought toppings, so we had pepperoni, green pepper, and mushroom pizza. In the future, I’ll probably try and make the dough a teeny tiny bit thinner, and add more cheese. For a person who a year ago wasn’t sure how long to boil an egg, I’d say I did pretty well.

Also made recently: Mini chocolate chip cookies, lemon yogurt breadcrumb chicken, turkey burgers, and a hot chocolate molt cake.


I’ve actually started my class now! It’s going very well thus far. I always forget how quiet English classes are at Macalester. I don’t know if it’s an English thing, or just coincidence that I always end up with shy people. It’s definitely not a Macalester thing, ’cause I have been in classes with people who will not stop talking. In a good way. Sometimes good way. Right now, we’re reading Thoreau, which is a little…dense? That’s not quite the right word, because it isn’t like reading an academic essay, but he does go on about everything. The class is essentially about transcendentalism.

Feathered Serpents:

I’ve started my next book. After reworking my original idea, I’ve decided to make it another Harvey Grey story. It centers around Quetzacoatl, the feathered serpent deity from ancient Mexico, and I have two professor characters that I’m excited to use. I haven’t written a sequel to anything before, so further developing Harvey and how he’s changed (or not changed) since the last book will be a new experience for me as a writer. I probably won’t be posting it on the blog like I did the first book, but excerpts might make their way here.

The Speed of the Season

imageThis is my first holiday season as a married adult and I feel like it rushed upon me.

I see some other young people who are much better at Christmasing than me. They have wreaths and trees and made cookies. I bought brown packing paper for wrapping paper because I wanted to be “rustic,” but I lack the wrapping skills to make the presents look as charming as I envisioned. There is more Scotch tape and less neatly-tied twine with vintage stamps.

I am baking on Thursday and that is my Christmas activity goal for therapy. I’m making chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies, banana fudge muffins, and red velvet cookies.

I’m planning for next year. I’m going to stock up on wrapping paper and ribbons when it goes on sale in a week, and I want to do a Christmas card. This year, it didn’t even cross my mind.

But that’s ok. Christmas looks different for everyone, and this year, we’ll be in Indiana with Chris’ parents. And it will be great.

My Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie


I have successfully mastered what will be my signature cookie: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan.

I successfully implemented my new knowledge about the chemistry of cookies and used both cold butter chunks and baking soda to create a fuller cookie. I rolled the dough into balls and the cookies spread into perfectly round, equal-sized deliciousness.

That is all.

Linked In: Christmas Edition

Image25 Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Includes paint swatch trees, frosted branches, and other cool DIY.



Cookie-Baking Chemistry

Is mostly focused on classic chocolate chip cookies, but with all the holiday baking, I’m sure adjusting the flour/butter applies to all baked deliciousness. I know this year I’m going to try making red velvet cookies that use beets instead of artificial food coloring.


Stories Behind 10 Classic Christmas Songs

Who first recorded it? Who wrote it? And why? These are the important questions.


Christmas Movies

The Wikipedia list of Christmas movies released in theaters. Oddly, not as long as you would think. You can link to the list for made-for-TV movies though, which is much longer.