Saturday, November 23, 2013

Baking for Fun and Warmth!

Most people don't think too much about baking when its hot, especially since ovens tend to heat up the house unbearably in summer. But now that its cold...(12 degrees F tonight...) yeah, totally on my mind! I also have a huge bag of carrots that I am looking for ways to use up. So, I am on my way to carrot cake tonight. 

I enjoy baking, as long as it isn't hot. Its rewarding when recipes turn out just right, and even more rewarding when your adaptations succeed. I am going to take a carrot cake recipe and turn it into a gluten free carrot cake recipe. I know, there are plenty of gluten free recipes out there, but I am ready to experiment, so here goes.

First I do a Google search to find some good advice on how to convert cake recipes to gluten-free. The first result is For Dummies, but it turns out to be exactly what I am looking for...go figure. There are many different suggestions, which I am pretty sure are not meant to all be used in one recipe. The following are the suggestions I will use:

  1. Include an additive such as guar gum, xanthan gum, flaxseed meal blended with a little water, whey, or gelatin to help hold it together.
  2. Add an extra egg.
  3. Increase flavorings, but don't go overboard.
  4. Replace some of the liquid in the recipe with buttermilk or yogurt.
  5. Replace sugar with brown sugar.
  6. Of course, I had to replace the regular flour with an all-purpose gluten-free baking mix that I make from combining flours. I got the general instructions for this mix from Gluten-Free Girl.
Okay, here is my recipe, which I have adapted from a recipe provided by The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Ingredients

1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. buttermilk
5 eggs
2 c. all-purpose gluten free baking mix (homemade or pre-made)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1+1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 c. grated carrots

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients, except for carrots, in another bowl.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour into a prepared pan (greased and floured).
  6. Bake about 30-35 minutes for 9 x 13 inch pan, about 50 minutes for a bundt pan.
  7. Cool completely, then frost if desired, preferably with cream cheese icing.
This turned out well, considering it was one of my first attempts at converting a recipe to gluten-free. I will try again soon, so expect to see a few more recipes interspersed through my blog!






Thursday, October 31, 2013

BORED!

Although I claimed that I was closing this blog earlier this year, I have reconsidered. It is such a good name, after all! I think the point was to create a variety of blogs instead of one, specifically random one. Since I only started one other blog, I think that I should stick to one blog for now. I would like to make this blog contain more of my life and focus on whatever concepts I am pondering at the moment!

Currently, I am pondering the state of boredom. Why am I bored? I usually never am. In fact, what is boredom, even? LiveScience has an article on their website that addresses this question, at least partially. The definition of boredom, according to researchers at York University in Ontario, Canada, is "an aversive state of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity," and this is due, the researchers explained, to some sort of problem with attention to our internal thoughts/feelings or even exterior stimuli. It is sort of like being unfocused, but aware of the fact, and unable to concentrate even on activities you might otherwise enjoy.

Mike Licktieg offered some strategies for fighting boredom. These include the following:
  1. Throw some variety into your life; shake up the normal routine. Make a different meal, take a different class, watch a movie you would not normally watch, etc.
  2. Create and use a bucket list (or 101 things to do in 1001 days); explore new ideas and activities for joining or forming a hobby.
  3. Express yourself (creative activities such as writing, drawing, pottery, etc.)
  4. Focus on helping others rather than your boredom or problems.
  5. Conduct a personal search for meaning in your life, through connection with family, friends, God (in whatever form you subscribe to), public service or charity...in other words, rejoice in making your own purpose. 
These ideas are broad but definitely have made me think today. I hope that you find panache for your boredom. I will work toward a more active anti-boredom strategy that involves most or all of these suggestions to some degree. No more whiny teenage angst! (Although I am 40...just have seen this comment inundating teenagers' social networking presence at times)



Saturday, June 8, 2013

20th Post

I made a goal to blog 5 times in June, at a minimum. I am planning to diversify my blogging soon, to include several blogs that cover more specific topics, since specific randomosity is indeed vague...

Some of the ideas I have for blogs that I would be interested in writing, and I feel others would be interested in reading, are as follows:

  • Book/Reading
  • Movie
  • Health
  • Parenting
  • Gardening
  • Lifelong learning
  • Cooking
  • Motivational/personal development
  • Business/success
  • Gaming
  • Maybe others, just listing these off the top of my head...

Also, I am thinking about coming up with some kind of combination ideas that will cover multiple areas in a synchronized fashion. I don't mean that I must blog about all of these topics, just that they are potential areas I can cover. Well since this is the 20th post in my randomness-focused blog, here is a picture of my dog, for fun.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

What to Do When You Have Too Much to Do

Feeling overwhelmed? Yeah, me too. For every task I complete there are always 20 more waiting for me to do. Sometimes I write a list of things to do, and cross them off, which is mildly satisfying, when I complete them. But then the next day, I have more to add, and I get less proportionately done, because of the leftovers from the day before...!
How to solve this dilemma? Let's start by following Brian Tracy's advice, from Eat That Frog!:

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.
Eat That Frog!  Every bit of planning, prioritizing, and organizing comes down to this simple concept.
Every great achievement of humankind has been preceded by a long period of hard, concentrated work until the job was done.  Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on it until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.
By concentrating on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more.
It has been estimated that the tendency to start and stop a task – to pick it up, put it down, and come back to it – can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%.  This is not productive!
But when you prepare thoroughly and then begin, refusing to stop or turn aside until the job is done, you develop energy, enthusiasm, and motivation.  You get better and better and more productive.  You work faster and more effectively.


Another great source of advice is James Clear. In one of his recent blogs, he outlined the principle of the Two Minute Rule. The basic tenets of this rule are: if you can do it in 2 minutes or less, get it done now, and anything else, get started now, because 2 minutes is enough to get past your inertia and leads, quite often to getting the task done or at least a substantial start.

Well, it sure beats sitting around and sighing about how much you have to do!

Until next time!



Saturday, June 1, 2013

More about Personal Learning Plans and Relevant Links

Hi again. When I last posted, I promised to continue my Personal Learning Plan discussion. In particular, I wanted to make sure that I included the list of helpful links for those who want further information.

First of all, remember than a personal learning plan is a guideline that can grow and change. I think that it might be easier to understand its purpose if you think of it as goals and how to reach them. The goals have to be specific enough to have a measurable outcome, or else one may not be able to know when or even whether the learning plan has been completed. 

Recommended links to get you started or stir the imagination in the right direction anyway:

How-To 2: Write a Personal Learning Plan | The Edupunks' Guide

How to Learn Anything | UnCollegeUnCollege

https://p2pu.org/en/groups/diy-u-getting-started-with-self-learning/content/write-a-personal-learning-plan/

http://www.topra.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdf/Personal_Learning_Plan.pdf

The last one is particularly useful if you have a business mindset, or if you are working on a PLP within the context of your job.

An article that I read awhile ago now is clamoring for attention (in my mind). It is about making 101 goals to complete in 1001 days. Here are a few links to information about this idea:

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/05/04/101-goals-in-1001-days/

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/03/24/101-things-in-1001-days/

http://dayzeroproject.com/about/

The last link is to a site that is something like a social network for people who love to make lists... I gather from perusing the site that people make and post lists to share with others, often including photographs, and that the 101 goals in 1001 days meme may have been the original list that started it all. It all looks like fun.... I may join.

On any account, I must be off, since I have places to to go and people to see. It's Summerfest on the Rio Grande time, and I have promised to go watch some kids I know belly dancing...

Until next time, happy random thoughts!




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why and How to Write a Personal Learning Plan

So I had an assignment in my leadership class to write a personal learning plan (PLP). Since I consider myself an autodidact, or self-directed, lifelong learner, I thought, what a delicious opportunity to write about the process.

What I did not realize was how much potential depth could be found in that assignment. While researching and writing my PLP, I found a multitude of relevant sites, as well getting turned on to a number of ideas that I either had not realized or had forgotten.  (As an aside, it is frightful how many things get lost in the process of learning. As more stuff gets crammed into your brain, some information is misplaced, only to suddenly pop up months or years later when some seemingly random event triggers a "memory" that is apparently connected to the "lost" facts and ideas. Strange stuff, memory.)

I will post more soon, including a list of relevant links that I found useful in the process of creating my PLP. Until then, sleep well.