A transition of Grace

As I mentioned in my Transition Update life has gone from 0-60mph very quickly. Since I started teaching on March 11 today is the first day I feel life is leveling out and beginning to settle.

Monday night the 10th I attended our second week of Choir practice for the Easter production. Then Luke the next morning left for a VA ethics conference, on his birthday, in Minneapolis MN.

That day (March 11) I re-read and looked over my lesson plan for my first night of teaching a new course. I was obviously nervous. It was my first time teaching a four hour night class and I was feeling a little out of practice. This had made it difficult for me sleep . So tired and an odd combination of anxious and excited I ate dinner alone and headed up the hill to the community college to teach.

The first hour was a little rocky adjusting to student interactions, managing time, and bouncing between activities and my notes. But after that first hour I remember what it was like to teach again and it all came back to me. I came home beyond exhausted but still shared everything with Luke on the phone.

The next day I totally crashed. My mind couldn’t focus and I was all muddled. We had freezing rain and snow and I decided I just wasn’t up to going to the Y for my bi-weekly Zumba class. The next day I began to regroup and had a girls outing to attend which helped distract me from the empty house. When I came home I caught up with Luke as we looked forward to seeing each other the next day.

Since then it has been difficult to make it to the Y. I am still keeping our dinners healthy but getting even a half hour to work out at home everyday let alone doing more has been hard.

In this crazy time of transition I have to remember and re-learn to show myself a lot of grace.  I am a person who thrived on routines; they help me keep the everyday problems and anxieties at bay. So when that routine gets shaken-up it always takes me awhile to adjust.

This is especially true when the new changes require more responsibilities and/or more socializing. In that time of adjusting I often expect myself to keep up with the normal routine items such as :cleaning, cooking, dieting/eating right, and exercise. But keeping up these routines while the whole of the schedule/pattern is shifting is sometimes just not feasible. Still my control-freak mindset likes to have temper tantrums about this.

I have to remind myself that when new stressful situations occur it’s ok to take a nap instead of exercise, or cuddle up with a good book instead of brave the snow to go to the Y, or to eat a little extra because my brain is working overtime and trying to adjust to new/old patterns of thinking.

These reminders require showing myself grace. Because in the end, after the adjustment period has ended, I will come out of survival mode and be able to take on the new responsibilities and stressors and still maintain those important routines. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. It helps to look back and recognize I am still more balanced and overall my life is healthier than it was before even last year.

The hardest part is convincing myself that one or two weeks without the normal diet, exercise, sleep, or cleaning patterns will not be the end of me or the end of the world-just apart of a necessary adjustment while in transition.

How about you? In what areas of your life or times do you struggle to show yourself Grace?

Belated Birthday Outings

As I mentioned on Saturday Luke was out of town for his birthday so we put off birthday celebrations until he got home on Friday. On Friday I made him one of his favorite desserts: cinnamon rolls (see Bread of the month: Irish Cinnamon Rolls). Then to continue the celebration had him open b-day cards and presents.

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Then on Saturday we enjoyed a morning/afternoon of lazy sleeping in (and cinnamon rolls) at home then drove up to Dryden NY. Why Dryden? It is the home of a new hop farm and microbrewery: Hopshire.

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Outside of it’s awesome name, Hopshire serves high quality brews made with local honey, grains, and their own home-grown hops. We discovered them at the Ithaca Chili fest (see Ithaca chili Cook Off) where they were giving away samples of two of their brews: a light honey beer called :Beehave and a spicy brown ale called: Round Yon Virgil.

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We pulled up to the brewery and stepped into their taproom:s a cozy room  with a bar and a spare room with a large dinging table. Each door way was framed with  ornately decorated wood framing  carved with leaves and hops and the taproom walls were decorated with vintage beer advertisements.

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Luke decided to try a flight of what was on tap starting with the lightest beer and ending with their IPA’s. His thoughts: they revile the northwest’s beers  (which if you know anything about beer that is saying something). The favorite picks included: Fiddler’s Grain a red ale and their best seller the Shire a darker scottish ale. Even though I am allergic to barley there were one or two tasters I couldn’t resist doing more than smelling. For more on this see (Wait Barley-Free means no beer right?). After signing the guest log Luke decided to use some b-day money and take home a growler of the Fiddler’s Grain and a new hat.

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To finish of our birthday outing we drove into Ithaca for dinner at Maxie’s Supper Club a cajun/southern inspired restaurant serving: blackened fish, gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ,  grits, and more. They offer their full menu every-night until 11pm and in addition to their 4-6pm happy hour they are also an oyster bar.

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As we were brought to our seats I could see that even though it was early on a Saturday night the place was getting busy.  Decorated with new orleans style color themes and decor it wasn’t long before our water glasses were filled and cornbread with honey butter was brought to our table. After glancing at the menus Luke ordered the shrimp and cheese grits with their tasso gravy sauce and I got the house jambalaya.

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As we tried not to fill up on cornbread we watched other people receive delicious looking dishes of ribs, shrimp skewers, green fried tomatoes, and crabcakes.

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And our dinner? Amazing, Luke’s shrimp ‘n grits came with an open face andouille sausage on top and had an awesome  texture, and kick and so did my jambalaya filled with chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp. We quickly filled up and never had to wait for service; our water glasses were always full as were the multiple baskets of sweet corn bread.

It was a perfect birthday dinner out.

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

The corn beef is on the stove boiling and I am in the process of baking a loaf of Soda Bread. Don’t have any pictures from this year’s St. Patrick’s day feast yet but here’s a glimpse from last year:

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I’m sure it will taste just as amazing.

Here’s this year’s soda bread and corn beef ingredients:

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Have a great St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Bread of the Month: Irish Cinnamon Rolls

It has been a very long and full week. Luke left for a conference this past Tuesday (his birthday my first day teaching at a new job) and came home yesterday afternoon. Friday evening we celebrated with presents and a night of catching up at home (more on our busy week to come.)

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Because he spent his b-day out of state we are celebrating it this weekend and so yesterday I made him belated b-day goodies: cinnamon rolls. If you remember last year I madea Cinnamon Roll Bunt Cake with cream cheese icing and raspberries.  This year I decided to join celebrations of his birthday day and St. Patty’s day by making one amazing dessert (breakfast). As per the other bread of the months posts (so far) the original recipe for these cinnamon rolls comes from The Bread Bible . And also as per usual I have made my own version with tips and alterations. So here’s the Irish Cinnamon Rolls.

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Ingredients:

Dough:

1 medium-large russet potato

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (1 pack)

½ Cup granulated sugar

¼ Cup warm water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon salt

5-51/2 C of flour

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Filling:

  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1-1/4 cup packed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice

Irish Cream Glaze:

1 and 1/2  C powdered sugar

4-5 tablespoons Irish cream liquor

and/or milk or half and half

Instructions:

1. Peel the potato and cut it up into chunks. Put it in a small/medium pot and cover with water. Bring water to boil then let the potato cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes. With a slotted spoon scoop out the potato and place it in a large bowl/kitchen-aid mixer bowl. Add in the 2 tablespoons of butter and with a metal blade puree the butter and potato. (Keep the boiled potato water).

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2. Place the active dry yeast (1 pack) into a small bowl, add 1 tsp. sugar, then pour in the 1/4th Cup warm water. Let it bubble and foam for about 10 minutes.

3. Add to the large mixing bowl with the potato puree: the yeast, potato water, 1 egg, salt, ½ Cup granulated sugar, vegetable oil, and 2 cups of flour. Beat together until combined then slowly add in the rest of the flour (3-31/2 C worth).

4. When all dough is combined knead until it is smooth and springy.

5. Grease a deep container (I used butter) than place the dough in it turning it over one time to coat top and bottom. Then cover the container with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 to 1.5 hours. ( I put mine on top of the stove with the oven on at 250-300F).

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6. Knead the dough letting out the air and then place it back in the container and cover again for another hour to raise in a warm place. Then knead the dough again and divide it into two pieces. Roll out each piece in into a rectangle of about 10 by 14 inches at about 1/4 inch thick.

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7. Melt the butter then brush the surface of the dough up to ½ inch on all side with the butter. Make the filling then sprinkle it over the buttered surface of the dough. Roll the towards you in a tight jelly roll, once rolled; pinch the seam.

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8. Take a bread knife or other sharp knife and cut the roll into 1 to ½ inch thick slices. (The thicker the slices the bigger your cinnamon rolls.) Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a slipat. Press each roll down a little onto the sheet (this prevents it from pulling apart in the oven).

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9.  Preheat the oven to 350F and place the uncooked rolls under plastic wrap and let it rise for 20 minutes at room temp on the baking sheet. While waiting on these rolls continue to do the same process with the other set of dough.

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10. Place the rolls in the oven for 20-25minutes at 350F.  When firm and lightly browned on top take them out and let them cool. While the rolls bake make the icing and it spread over the cinnamon rolls once they have cooled.

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Note on icing: I chose to make my icing out of cream cheese, milk, powdered sugar, and a little Bailey’s. If you like your icing thick and creamy (not runny) I would suggest using cream cheese. I you like a thinner icing then you can use half and half or milk combined with the powdered sugar. Either way if you want to use Irish Cream I would suggest adding it in slowly because you will probably want to balance it out with some milk.

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And there you have it! Our St. Patty’s/B-day treat. (More on Luke’s b-day to come).

So what is your favorite B-day dessert? Traditional cake? Ice Cream ? Cookies?

A transition update

Yes I know it has been more than three weeks since I last posted. No I have not abandoned my blog or my audience. Yes I missed you too.

Now that that’s out of the way here’s why I haven’t been writing: I have been very busy.

I know it’s THAT excuse again. But I am being honest. We are in a major transition here and it is a positive one but it requires adjusting priorities and time. This means enjoyable hobbies such as blogging tend to go on a temporary invisible shelf until necessary adjustments have been made.

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So now that adjustments are underway let me take the blog off the shelf and start filling you in on the big stuff:

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1. Teaching: Yes! Starting tomorrow I will finally be back in the classroom geared up with my post it notes, paper clips, whiteboard pens, and binder full of handouts. Yesterday I pulled my teaching messenger bag out of its dark forgotten crumpled corner and filled it with books, binders, folders, and teaching supplies- you have no idea how good that felt.

I will be teaching a college level writing course on Tuesday nights through March and April with a local college. The classes are four hours long (eek! I think I will join most of my students in drinking copious amounts of coffee) once a week. I’m looking forward to be able to teach critical thinking and practical writing skills to students who will use them not only in their course work but also hopefully in their careers.  I’m excited by this new opportunity and challenge but of course nervous as well. But it will feel good to be back in the classroom (even if it is for a once a week night class).

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2. Freelance editing: Another big Yes!! If you didn’t know, for the past several years I have been editing my mother-in-law’s books and materials. Now after a few years of experience under my belt I am  branching out to do freelance editing for other clients.

Now let’s be clear I never anticipated going into business for myself even part-time let alone in editing-but as with most people’s careers things gradually change and editing  has become something I enjoy . . . a lot . . . and no it’s not all about the grammar.

I look forward to helping writers express their thoughts and intentions to their audience and that has more to do with word choice, phrasing, and writing structures then making sure the writing is spelled correctly or in the right verb tense (although I do that too). I started working with my first clients at the end of last month and so far it’s been great to read, interpret, and expound on their thoughts, and ideas in a way that will help them immerse their readers into their story.

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3. Social activities: After the holidays last year we put our couples small group on hold until we could re-evaluate it’s direction and focus. After several months of talk, we decided to join up with a new small group hosted by a couple who had previously attended our group in the fall. We are meeting on Sunday nights right now enjoying coffee, baked goodies, and open discussion on how to get beyond the positives/negatives of the label “Christian”.

Also we have just begun preparing for Easter. At our church that means a large production for the community that will be available to see five time the weekend of Easter! This year  I am excited to get back into music  performance by participating in a  Easter production choir. Luke will also be participating as part of the cast. This means practices every Monday night and as we get closer to Easter some Tuesday and weekend dress rehearsals as well. It’s hard to give up one more night of the week (a night previously reserved for exercise) but it’s temporary and gives us the opportunity to get to know more people in our community and be creative.

So those are the big reasons why I haven’t been writing. Yes you will be hearing more on these topics. Yes I will be getting back to sharing about festivals, celebrations, baking, cooking and all of those other “normal” topics . . . in time.

So how about you? Any major changes headed your way?

Are you in a transition as we move towards spring?

Anything you have had to put on the shelf temporarily?