Writers Need Other Hobbies, Too!

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Pictured I colored and sent to my Mom, lol 😛

Slept in super late this Sunday as per usual, and made pancakes and bacon for brunch. Got some stuffed pepper soup stewing away in the crock pot, and here I am sitting here at my desk spending some quality time soaking in my light box’s rays.

Sundays are usually lazy days for me lately, and today I am feeling creative. I have not been the most diligent writer as of late, but I must not let writer’s fear get me down.

All my activity in the kitchen this afternoon, reminds me how important it is for us writers to have other hobbies besides writing.

You need to give yourselves a chance to be creative with everything.

Lately, I’ve been coloring, working on a cross-stitching project and baking more in the kitchen. Although, sometimes I use these activities to procrastinate on writing projects that I should be working on instead, I feel a sense of freedom on working on other things.

Expand your horizons – be open to new ways of creating.

Chefs are creative when they are in the kitchen; painters dabble with different textures, different colors; bakers create freshly baked masterpieces of flaky, buttery bread and crusty goodness.

Athletes create different exercise routines, different ways of pushing themselves to the next level, of knowing what they can and can’t get away with when it comes to their bodies.

As writers, we have to get used to thinking about things in a different way.

If you just stick to what you know, or if you stick to one thing, you may become an expert at that one thing but you will limit yourselves when it comes to creating.

Writers know that the more you know the more knowledgeable you’ll become and the more useful your writing will be to others.

Never limit yourself as a writer, or as a creative person. Craft, paint, hike, climb, explore, taste and try new things.

We never know what will spark that next great inspiration. What do you like to do to stay creative?

Happy Writing!

 

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Good Ol’ Comfort Food…

I know that food isn’t love, but sometimes there’s a reason why comfort food is that…comfort food.

wpid-img_20150916_184356675.jpgI’ve had a lot of friends who’ve been having a hard time lately. Life gets you down, relationships don’t work out and sometimes work is too much. Sometimes life is too much. It’s hard to get out of bed, it’s hard to socialize, sometimes just existing has its issues…and its hard to rise above it.

“The Blues,” Depression, Anxiety, Seasonal Depression…whatever it is, sometimes there are moments where you are physically unable to “think positive,” which is the last thing that someone who is struggling with depression wants to hear.

(I heard it a few times growing up, and although they meant well, it didn’t really help.)

Sometimes I wish there was more you can do for someone.

I am very empathetic…and when I see someone suffering…I feel that pain along with them. When its depression, I know what its like to feel hopeless, I know the fear, the anxiety, the lack of social skills that goes a long with it.

And I wish I could throw a little comfort their way.

Tonight, I made some “comfort” of my own. I know you’re not supposed to eat your problems, but sometimes I home-cooked meal…is a reminder that love and comfort are just around the corner.

A good meal makes you feel safe. A good meal is something nice to share with someone. And even if you don’t want to talk, or share your problems, at least someone is there to lend an ear…if you need it.

So, what did I make?

wpid-img_20150916_185341561.jpgEnchiladas! These I made with ground beef, corn tortillas, red enchilada sauce, chopped green chilies, onion and lots of sharp cheddar cheese.

I’ve never made them with beef before, but I’m very happy how they turned out. I got the recipe from The Pioneer Women, who is one of my favorites on food network.  The real recipe calls for cilantro, but Mike doesn’t like it very much, so I left it out.

If you have someone who suffers, lend them an ear if they need it, cook them a meal, or hey – build them a nest.

Everyone wants someplace safe they can go to get away for a while.

And chocolate. Chocolate is nice, too.  😉

Hope everyone has a great night!

 

Masterchef Junior Season 2 episode 5 Recap: Pop-up Restaurant Take-over

Right from the start, the kids are congratulated on being the top six junior cooks in America. The judges reveal that they won’t be cooking in the Masterchef kitchen today, but in a professional restaurant. But there is a twist: it’s a pop-up restaurant, which Samuel explains is usually a restaurant that lasts only one evening and has VIPs and very important people there. This time, they will be serving to a culinary crowd; foodies and food critiques a like. Oh, and the restaurant is in Malibu.

The group will split up into teams of three. Abby and Samuel are team captains, as they had the best dishes in the last round. The blue team is: Samuel, Sean and Oona, and the red team: Abby, Adaiah and Logan.

Credit: Fox

Credit: Fox

The judges have prepared a sophisticated menu for the restaurant. The guests have the choice between two appetizers: tempura zucchini blossoms with goat cheese, or spot prawn ceviche. For the entrees: loup de mer with fennel trio, or filet mignon with fries and spring mushrooms.

First, the judges show the contestants how to cook and present each dish. Logan notices that Abby isn’t taking notes, but drawing smiley faces. Oh, boy. Even Samuel, who so far has proven himself to be a top contender, is a little intimidated by all of the components to some of the dishes. The judges reveal that the guests know that they are kids but they will still be judged on an adult level. And of course, Gordan Ramsay will be expediting in the kitchen.

While Samuel rises perfectly to the head chef position in his team, Abby is having a hard time being heard. Some of the other contestants in her team are having a hard time listening to her, as she is a younger chef and might not be as experienced. Logan says that things are tense in the kitchen and the last thing he wants to hear is Abby’s voice in his ear…ouch.

The guests start arriving and say that the pop-up restaurant is not an easy thing to do. Gordan starts shouting orders to the different teams and already you can start to see it flying over their heads. Even I can’t remember ten different things without it flying over my head. (Hopefully in the behind the scenes they have a pen and paper to write this stuff down.)

Oona is having a hard time getting the squash blossoms out on the plate. Gordan tells them they are serving to VIPs, not PIGs. While the red team is struggling with the seasoning on their ceviche. Gordan sits down with Logan in an uncomfortable confrontation: “Why did you do that?” (Oh, God, stop with the drama already. It was an accident.)

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Credit: Fox

Meanwhile, Oona is still struggling with the squash blossoms and it is slowing down the blue team’s orders. Graham has to step in to put them back on track. While the red team is flying out with orders, the blue team is struggling and falling behind. Gordan Ramsay is starting to lose his temper. Did I mention that the restaurant take-over is my least favorite episode?

The blue team gets confronted by Gordan Ramsay and asked why they can’t get the orders out that he asked for. He says they should just go home. But of course, he doesn’t really mean it. They re-group and try putting out appetizers. Abby says that she’s very proud of her team and thinks that if they can nail the entrees they can win this.

They start on the entrees. Graham gives Logan some tips about properly cooking the fish, something like be one with the fish and don’t push it down in the pan and be like: “I’m sorry you had to die but we are going to make some people really, really happy.” Riight.

Meanwhile, the blue team seems to be bouncing back, however on the red team, Adaiah is struggling with the filet mignon. The blue team finishes their entrees and the red team falls behind. Now it is the judge’s turn to evaluate each of the team’s entrees. The red team’s fish was cooked perfectly, however, the blue team’s filet mignon was seasoned and cooked a lot better.

Looks like it is a close competition, that’s for sure! The kids meet the guests that they cooked for and someone asks to describe their experience cooking under Gordan Ramsay in one word. Sean comes out with “traumatizing.” I say that about sums it up!

And the winning team is…the red team! This is a surprise, really, but they worked better together and as a result turned out some better tasting dishes. And the two that get to go home: Oona and Sean. What?! Is Masterchef Junior trying to get rid of their best cook? Sean has displayed (I thought) some awesome dishes…more than anyone else in the competition. But Samuel is saved because of his masterful leadership skills.

Who’s left? Abby, Samuel, Adaiah and Logan. Not who I would have thought would be in the final four, but we will see how it turns out! Looks like fish is on the menu for the next episode, and what ever happened to the mystery box challenges?

Here’s a sneak peek of next week’s episode below:

My thoughts about last night’s episode?

So far, it seems like everything in this season is being led by the judges, what ever happened to creating their very own dishes with purely their imagination? I feel like the quality of their dishes is suffering as a result, because they are limited by the challenges. But that’s just my personal opinion. I’m starting to think that Season one was a fluke.

Tonight was definitely not my favorite episode. It was stressful and the kids didn’t seem to have a lot of fun, which isn’t that fun to watch. It was definitely one of Masterchef junior’s most awkward episodes so far. Hopefully the next few we see will step it up some!

Thoughts below if you want!

Masterchef Junior Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: Cupcakes, Ramsay’s Mum, and Shepard’s Pie

Tuesday’s episode starts out with a team challenge; the top ten are presented with cupcakes and while they are devouring their delicious treats, they get the bad news: whoever has the same cupcake as them will be their partner in the next round. The task: to make a dozen high quality cupcakes, but they won’t be just standing side by side, it’s a three-legged race!

Source: Fox. Contestant Adaiah, who's been shaping up to be a top contender.

Source: Fox. Contestant Adaiah, who’s been shaping up to be a top contender.

The teams are: Abby and Mitchell, Sam and Adaiah, Levi and Samuel, Sean and Logan, Oona and Josh.

The idea is to work together on a dozen cupcakes, yet everyone seems to be doing two different flavors. For some of the kids, being tied together is more awkward than others. Joe teases Oona about being tethered to Josh after the challenge is done, to which she amusingly protests with a loud “No!” Ah, well, at ages nine and ten, I still thought boys had cooties too.

In a bit of fun, the judges are tied together as they inspect everyone’s cupcakes. I love how they don’t seem to be taking themselves as seriously this season. They are essentially the teachers, yes, but why not have a little fun, too? And a key part of the entertainment is lightening the mood in moments of stress. I think they’ve got it
down in a nutshell. When asked if being tied together was difficult, Gordon’s like, “Now you know what its like when you are married.” Har. Har.

The top three groups had the best cupcakes: Sam and Adaiah, Abby and Mitchell and Sean and Logan.

Sam and Adaiah’s cupcakes are chosen first. They made an orange honey bosom cupcake, and a vanilla cupcake with raspberry. Abbey and Mitchell also impress with their cupcakes. They made a Mexican hot chocolate cupcake and a peanut butter cup cupcake.

And also in the top three again: Sean and Logan, who impressed the judges with their culinary skills. They made lemon basil cupcakes and a chocolate raspberry cupcake with a creative candied sugar on top. The cupcakes are gorgeous; they really do look like a work of art. Logan says that, “Sean really brought it with the presentation, and he
brought it with the flavor.” They also are the only ones that had a cupcake with a filling in it.

Source: Fox

Source: Fox

Naturally, Sean and Logan win the mystery box challenge and gain an advantage in the next round. Their cupcakes really were quite stunning.

Gordan Ramsay’s mum stops by for a visit. When asked about her son’s success, she chalks it up to trial and error. I love it! For the next challenge, Sean and Logan get to choose from Gordan’s three favorite dishes that his mom used to make for him: fish sandwich, chicken curry, and Shepard’s pie. And Ramsay’s mum will stay as a guest judge.

I personally don’t think this is completely fair, as Gordan grew up in the UK, and the stuff that he was eating as a kid isn’t necessarily what kids in America would eat on a regular basis, but then again, these kids are adventurous little cooks and aren’t intimidated by a little bit of curry.

Sean and Logan choose Shepard’s pie for the next challenge.

Surprisingly, Oona struggles for the first time. Most of the kids, it seems, have never made or tasted Shepard’s pie before. It is heartbreaking especially to watch Oona, who is nine years old going on thirty, and claims that she has never done so badly before.

Levi, Abby, and Samuel come out strong, although, Samuel seems to stretch the limit a bit by deconstructing the Shepard’s pie, when they clearly said to elevate it, not take it apart. Mitchell also struggles which is tough to see, because we know that he is a top contender. Sam also breaks down when he accidentally makes his potatoes too runny. Graham is quickly there to offer encouragement, but he doesn’t seem to bounce back.

Adaiah and Levi have the strongest dishes again, while Mitchel and Sam get sent home. It’s getting more and more difficult to watch the kids get sent home, especially when we are just getting to see their personalities. And the worse part: watching them cry, because I hate to see them cry.

You can tell it’s also hard for the judges, too, but they also encourage, and their words of advice are uplifting for the heartbroken kids. And yes, they should be proud to be in the top ten best junior cooks in America.

Next episode the top eight make fried eggs and it looks like we are getting into the best and brightest. Not surprising that some of the oldest kids on the show are some of the last in the competition. They seem to have the advantage of consistency so far.

Here’s a peek at next week’s episode:

Making good food, a boost to healthy writing

What’s for breakfast today? Or rather Brunch…(I never was a big breakfast eater.)

0119131139French toast with syrup, sprinkled with powdered sugar and orange slices. Yum!

Since I started this new job, I’ve been appreciating my weekends more and more, and lately it has become a Saturday morning ritual – where I’ve liked to make something special, something that I don’t normally get the time to make during the week.

My online creativity class emphasizes how important it is for a writer to have other hobbies and I agree! It’s refreshing, because it allows you to take a break from the pressure of writing, and all the anxieties that sometimes comes with it. (Writer’s block, time management, writer’s fear, etc.) Here’s how to start: find something that you find relaxing and fun and just do it!

Although I’m not the cook in the family, I like being creative and making food that looks and tastes good, well, what can be wrong with that? 🙂 This is my NEW hobby. What’s yours?

Happy Saturday everyone!

Good Food, Good Breathing, Good Life

Well, what can I say? Life sucks really, and the more you try to make it better sometimes…the more things fall to the wayside. Feel like crawling back into bed and hiding under a blanket yet?

I guess the only thing I can do now is share this picture:

Garlic toast with freshly chopped tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, topped with parsley and freshly ground salt and pepper.

My lunch. Sometimes when life gets you down, you got to be creative. I’m no great cook by any means, but I love getting creative with food sometimes, and when you can make something beautiful out of something so simple…it reminds me to relax, take a deep breath and realize that there can be something good about the everyday goings of life, no matter how mundane they seem to be.

When I was in college and stressed out, I used to send food pictures to my sister all the time. Although, it probably helped me gain that extra freshman fifteen, it was such a comfort.

Remember that food is something you can control, too. Even if it has to be healthy, it can still be tasty! And isn’t control what some of us want just a little bit out of life?