adventures in candle making.

So lately I’ve been getting more in touch with my crafty side. A side I have long been neglecting, even though it’s been crying out to be fed. It all started with me picking up cross stitching again, and buying some very funny and adorable patterns:

And then I decided to take a painting class, something I had wanted to do for a long time, but wouldn’t dare, because my elementary school art teacher told me I was “bad at art”:

And now, I found a new venture to explore: Candle Making.

Yup, I’m that girl now.

Early today, I stopped by my sister’s house. She’s a master crafter herself and just so happened to have some candle scents for me to use in my experiment:

I also said hi to my cat nephew Sven:

After a few quick stops at Goodwill, Joann Fabric’s and Michael’s, I had all the supplies I needed to practice making a few candles of my own.

I decided that I would start this experiment by repurposing some old glassware from Goodwill (only 99 cents per jar!), saving me a few bucks so I could splurge on the soy wax I wanted from Michael’s.

And after some scent experimentation and wax melting, I ended up with some pretty starter candles:

The candle scents from left to right are: Sugar Cookie; Orange Mango Strawberry; Lemongrass Eucalyptus.

This just might be my new favorite hobby ūüôā

-C

smokey sweet corn gouda dip.

Today’s experiment came out of sheer necessary. It may not be Tuesday, but it is certainly Taco night.

In the back of the refrigerator sat a beautiful jar of gourmet salsa, waiting to be eaten. And I figured tonight would be as good a day as any – so I served it up with some corn chips.

Bad idea.

That salsa was, apparently, of the devil. Straight from the fiery pits of hell. As evidenced by my beau’s unfortunately scorched tongue. Whoops.

So, of course, I tried to make an alternative dip to put out the fire:

Smokey sweet corn Gouda dip.

2/3 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1.5 tablespoons cream cheese

3-5 dashes Tapatio hot sauce

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1-2 teaspoon garlic

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1/3-1/2 c. Gouda, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat sour cream, heavy cream, cream cheese, Tapatio and seasonings over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

2. Once heated through, add corn and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in Gouda cheese.

3. Cool and serve with tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

impromptu rotisserie chicken and garlicky golden mashed potatoes.

So, about this Instant Pot situation. I’m a bit hooked:

The beau came home with a beautiful 6 lb chicken and a bag of golden potatoes, so of course I had to see what this beautiful appliance could do.

Rotisserie Chicken

Ingredients:

-1 6-lb. chicken

-1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling

-1.5 tablespoons smoked paprika

-1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

-1 tablespoon garlic powder

-1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

-1-2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

-1 small onion

-3 tablespoons parsley

-3 carrots, chopped in quarters

-1 celery stock, chopped

-2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

-3 cups water

– 1-2 tablespoons parsley

Directions:

1. Wash and dry your chicken, making sure to remove and giblet packets.

2. Make rotisserie rub by combining olive oil through black pepper. Rub chicken with olive oil mixture, placing some under skin and inside cavity.

4. Place half of the carrots, celery, parsley and garlic inside chicken cavity.

5. Place the other half of the chopped vegetables in the bottom of Instany Pot with water.

6. Put stuffed chicken on steam rack, lower into Instant Pot. Seal cooker, pressure cook on high for 25 minutes. Do a natural release.

7. Place cooked chicken in a greased pan and drizzle with some olive oil. (You can also add extra smoked paprika, ancho chili powder and salt).

8. Put under broiler on high for about 2-4 minutes. Watch closely as skin crisps up quickly!

9. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

Garlicky Golden Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

-2.5 lbs golden potatoes, washed and chopped in half, skin on

-1/4 yellow onion, chopped fine

-2 cloves garlic, smashed

-2 c. water

-3 tablespoons butter

-1/2 cup whole milk

-1/4 cup cream cheese

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Place 2 cups water in instant pot. Followed by steam rack. Place potatoes, onions and garlic on rack.

2. Seal Instant Pot, Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. Do a natural release.

3. Unseal Pot, drain potatoes, onions and garlic and place in large bowl.

4. Using a hand mixture, whip potatoes, garlic and onions with butter, whole milk, cream cheese to desired thickness.

5. Season with salt and pepper.

an ode to worrying.

My brain is weird.

At any given moment, even if I’m already performing a task during the day, I’m always thinking ahead to something else. ¬†Usually, this means I have a perpetually running checklist of things that need to be done that day and a strategy to complete them in the most time-effective¬†way possible. ¬†Efficiency is kind of my thing.

On top of the normal checklist, I also have a steady background noise in my head¬†that is dedicated to looking into the near and distant future. ¬†“If I make career move A versus career move B, how will that affect my earning potential in 20 years?”. ¬†“If I start saving now, I can probably take a trip to Japan next year”. ¬†That sort of thing.

As you might imagine, this kind of thinking is a bit of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, this trait has served me well in certain areas of my life.  Being able to think ahead and predict how a project could get derailed and then be able to come up with a litany of contingency plans to resolve those potential issues has, oddly enough, proven helpful in my career as a project manager.  Additionally, worrying about potential danger has most likely kept me safe in a variety of situations, especially on the days and nights I was by myself, working in New York City.

However, in my younger, more anxious days (mainly high school), this kind of thinking caused a¬†great deal of distress. ¬†Looking back, I realize that it was my mother, the World Champion of Worrying, who set the example for me. ¬†As I got a little older and a little more independent, I started to realize that not¬†everything is a crisis. ¬†Some things simply don’t need or deserve the same expenditure of emotional energy. ¬†Many times it’s necessary to not give even one single fuck about certain things.

As bad as worrying can be, and it can definitely¬†be¬†very, very bad, I’m still thankful for this little defect. ¬†If I wasn’t prone to worrying, I probably would have never discovered meditation, yoga or even the simple joy of¬†walking through the woods to clear my mind. ¬†Essentially, worrying has taught me to how to relax. ¬†And while I’m still not always the best at it (many thanks to my loved ones who remind me to live in the moment), I now see Worrying, not as an enemy, but as a somewhat annoying, lifelong friend.

Chill,
-C

the perfectionism lie.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Back in college, as a prerequisite to graduating, we were required to spend several hours in the Career Center. ¬†There were a variety of sessions we had to sit through, most of which revolved around how to write a cover letter and resume as well as job search strategies and networking. ¬†In one session on interview skills, our Career Counselor told us that a good way to answer the popular “greatest weakness” question is to say that you are a perfectionist.*

“Weakness?”, I thought. “That’s my greatest strength!”. ¬†Or so I thought.

I certainly did pride myself on being a perfectionist.  It was simply how I was raised.  In my household growing up, anything less than perfection in terms of schoolwork, job performance or behavior simply was not tolerated.  Mistakes were not just frowned upon, but unacceptable.  As I got older and moved away to college, I certainly internalized this, striving for 100% excellence in everything.

I was able to balance multiple internships, side work, and DJing/news-casting at the local radio station all while maintaining a very high GPA.  Perfectly executing every task in front of me, I thought, was the path to success and happiness.  However, I quickly found out that aiming for perfectionism is not only destructive but also counter-intuitive in the long run.  Why?

Perfection doesn’t exist.

Sure, you can put on the facade of perfection and you can certainly obsess over the most minute of details¬†in every single project you ever work on. ¬†But you won’t ever be perfect. ¬†Your work won’t ever be perfect.

Eventually, you will start to realize this, but, like an addict, you will continue to reach for that thing that is just beyond your grasp.  And then procrastination, burn-out, stress and a crippling fear of failure or rejection (all common side-effects of perfectionism), will start to take over.

As I started dealing with those perfection related problems, I realized that chasing after such an unattainable goal was not only making me miserable, it was killing me.

The truth is, deep-down, I knew that perfectionism was a lie.  I never, ever held any other person to the standard I held for myself.  I loved seeing my friends and colleagues reach their goals and gain new skills and when they stumbled, I told them how these mistakes were simply life-lessons that would help them do better in the future.  Physician, heal thyself.

I’m still learning that being less than perfect is just fine. ¬†In my more¬†stressfed moments, many times on nights when my insomnia relentlessly keeps my awake, I have to remind¬†myself ¬†that life will continue to have ups-and-downs, failures, successes and setbacks. And that’s OK.

To being super human, not superhuman,
-C

*By the way, this was and still is horrible interview advise. ¬†Telling an entire group of students¬†to give the same, canned, played-out answer to a common interview question is ridiculous. ¬†Seriously, don’t use this in your next job interview.

vegan wings & the big game


Back in my vegan days, one of my favorite past-times was learning how to make vegan versions of some of my favorite foods.¬† Sundays, however, always presented a problem, as most game day foods usually didn’t lend themselves easily to vegan cooking.¬† A good friend sent me this recipe a few years ago for Vegan Cauliflower Wings, and ever since I’ve been trying my own variations on this very easy dish.

Somehow, I was able to muster enough strength to cook up a batch today, as to not show up at my sister’s place empty-handed.

It must be a “Big Game” miracle.¬† Here’s today’s version of Vegan Wings:

Gluten-Free, Vegan Wings

  • 1 cup flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour)
  • 1 cup milk (Unsweetened Original Almond Milk)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ancho Chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Hot Sauce (Cholula, or use your favorite)
  • Vegetable oil or vegan butter

Wash and cut up your caulifower into bite-sized pieces and set aside.  Mix up your batter (flour through ground pepper) and then toss the cauliflower pieces in the batter to coat.  Bake at 450 on a greased baking sheet, for about 15 minutes, then put under the broiler for another 5 minutes.  Toss the wings in your hot sauce (slightly thinned with vegetable oil or vegan butter).

Vegan Wing Dip

  • 3/4 cup Vegan Mayonnaise (Hellmann’s)
  • ~2-3 Tablespoons Almond Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 pinches Himalayan sea salt, if needed

Combine all ingredients and serve.

Go Falcons! (Just for today),

-C

the importance of doing “nothing”

Most people who have known me for more than two seconds, know that I’m one of those “doers”.¬† Whether it’s my career, a hobby, a new topic I want to explore or some new project I decided I need to conquer, I’m always doing something.¬† I don’t tend to sit still, which can present a pretty significant problem – one that I run into fairly often.

I work hard.¬† I challenge myself. I try to reach new goals. I achieve many of them. But then, I get burnt out and I start to get sick.¬† That’s where I am today: sitting on my couch, drinking tea and trying to nurse myself back to health.

Lately, I’ve been funneling a lot of emotional energy (read: stress) and time into some of my life goals, namely:

  • Adopt a dog and train her to provide therapy for my hospice patients
  • Lose some weight/get back into shape
  • Work on my career goals/network
  • Save up for a trip to Italy
  • Learn self-defense
  • Bake more

While these are all good things to work on, they’re all for naught if I don’t take care of myself.¬† It’s almost as if the Universe is trying to tell me something:

“Pace yourself. Breathe. Slow down. Relax.”

Having a strong work-ethic is a virtue, but so is self-care.¬† Looking to the future is good, but so is living in the moment.¬† Wanting to grow is admirable, but so is appreciating what you have right now.¬† Maybe drinking tea and watching funny videos on YouTube is important and vital to me being able to achieve all of the wonderful things I want to do.¬† Maybe kicking my feet up and doing “nothing” is not only acceptable, but necessary.

Lesson learned, Universe. (for now)

Peace and Love,
-C

P.S. Adorable mini cupcakes coming soon…