The One About Improving Myself: Three Books And A Pie

HELLO!

When last we spoke I was languishing during this region’s second hottest summer on record.  You see, I’m not a “hot weather is great” person. Daily temperatures over 90ºF do me in, quickly.

BUT now that the weather in my part of the northern hemisphere has turned autumnal and cool and fresh + the final 2021 Mercury retrograde is over, I’m feeling more focused on getting my act together and doing things, good things, again.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I love the fall [except for pumpkin spice in coffee– that’s just wrong].  I’m feeling happy and agreeable, relaxed, and open to the idea that with some effort I might be able to become a better me.

It could happen.

Thus I’ve read three self-improvement books AND I made a delicious new-to-me pie.  So without further dithering, and bless you if you’ve read this far, here are the books I read and recommend + the deets about the pie I made.

THREE BOOKS

Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel

This book is filled with great advice, useful questions that prompt personal insight, simple worksheets, and a positive vibe that didn’t insult my intelligence, while nudging me to get to the heart of what matters to me.

The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer

This practical well-researched book explains that there are two aspects to writing: the scribe and the muse.  Each is your writing friend once you know how to engage with them, and therein is the crux of the book.  Pay attention to which part of your brain you’re using as you write that which you must write– and you’ll make progress.

Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life by Agapi Stassinopoulos

This book, a compilation of short essays/personal stories + a meditation for each, focuses on 52 different aspects of life.  The tone of the book is encouraging.  It’s centering, quietly profound, without being icky inspirational sweet. [Hat tip to Nicole at GIRL in a BOY HOUSE for recommending this book.]

ONE PIE

In the photo at the top of this post [and isn’t it a cute one?], the wedge of pie the dragon is about to eat is called Atlantic Beach Pie.  Last summer when I saw the recipe for the pie in Southern Living magazine [LINK HERE] I had to try it.

Had to.

It was easy to make*, tasty if you like lemon-lime flavor, but what makes this pie interesting is that the recipe calls for saltine cracker crumbs.  You use them, not graham cracker crumbs,  when you make the crust.  Now how unusual is that?

AND IN CONCLUSION 

Having said all I can think of to say I shall end this post by asking you, my gentle readers, a few simple questions– because that’s kinda what I do here.

Have you read any self-improvement books lately that you’d recommend?  

Have you made any pies recently?

Have you discovered something unusual in your world?

Tell all in the comments below.  You know you want to.

* If you make the pie I used whole wheat saltines, because that’s what was on hand, and I made 1/3 of the whipped cream which seemed like plenty.  Wedges of the pie froze nicely, tasted great after defrosting at room temperature.

Jottings About The Opposite Of Purple Prose + A Question About Endings

THE JOTTINGS PART

Purple prose is writing that is too elaborate or ornate. It detracts from the narrative instead of moving the story forward. [More here]

My way of describing purple prose is that it is fussy, unfocused, and old-fashioned. I don’t write like that.

I’m a straightforward writer. I tend to have a point, get to it, and make it snappy in the process. Photos and images help me make my point. I like pretty.

I edit mercilessly because while I can be chatty I shall not dither, possibly wasting someone’s time. That’d never do.

And when possible, depending on the topic I’m discussing, I prefer to come to a conclusion, whether it be my reasoned opinion and/or a specific question.

Thus I give you, my gentle readers, the following. It’s something I’ve been thinking about of late, for a reason you’ll understand.

• • •

THE QUESTION PART

The longer I write this blog the more I wonder how much longer I’ll be writing this blog.

As many of you know I had blogs before this one, starter blogs as I think of them, but when I created this blog in 2011 I told myself that if I hit 1,000 posts I’d call it quits.

Welp, after hitting publish on this post I’m 15 posts away from 1,000. Meaning that if I’m true to my original plan, I’ll soon be faced with a decision about what to do with this blog.

Which brings me to my question to you:

HOW WILL YOU KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO END YOUR BLOG?

A March Mélange: Googly Eyes, Passing Grades, and Snazzy Socks

I bugged out of blogging last week.

I didn’t mean to neglect you, my gentle readers, but it was a spontaneous decision on Monday morning. I wanted to finish my online self-directed college class and decided to just do it, get all the reading, research, and writing over with. It took me a few hours every day causing my eyes to blur and spin in my head, but I finished the class a few weeks early, earning a passing grade of 93%.

And that, as they say, is that.

It was fascinating to see lectures, read assignments, do homework, and write a research paper again. It took me outside of my usual thinking patterns, so the mental challenge was a good one. For winter. During a pandemic.

Was it worth it? Will I do it again? That is, take another online university class with homework?

Welp, I’m going to say probably NO.

I didn’t hate being a student, but I didn’t love it either. Fortunately I understood the subject matter [history learned through the interconnections among antique objects and academic disciplines in a museum] but I vehemently disliked the computer user interface for this online course. It was clunky and awkward, visually cluttered– and there were typos and inconsistencies that bothered me, a writer.

The mediocre system made every assignment a struggle and as such sucked the fun out of this whole adventure in higher education. No matter really. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

In fact, continuing on with the idea of something gained, much to my delight while in the process of researching my final paper I stumbled on the word SNAZZY used in an advertisement in the current Vermont Country Store catalogue. Don’t ask how I ended up there, but I did and it was worth it.

Yes siree kids, it’s my all-time favorite word spotted in the wild.

In this case the best word ever is used to describe mild-compression support socks. Granted the topic of socks had nothing to do with the project I was working on and I don’t think I need these particular ones, but I am getting older so maybe I do and just don’t know it yet.

Anyhoo, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And you? Whatcha been doing?

Spill the beans in the comments below. Missed ‘ya. Mean it.

A Thursday In February: Seeing The Sunshine Whilst Not Doing Something I Should Be Doing

The snow isn’t deep here, the sunshine is warm & lovely, but the temperature is frigid outside.

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WOULD YOU BELIEVE ME IF I told you that by writing this blog post I’m avoiding going to class and doing my homework?

Well, it’s the truth.

You see, in January I signed up for a pass/fail college course that is from the history department at Harvard University offered through edX. The course is entirely online and you do it at your own pace following an official syllabus to keep you moving along in a timely manner.

[Currently I’m failing, btw. I have 63% and need 65% to pass, but whatevs.]

I should be doing the right thing this morning: that would be watching the lectures and reading the articles and answering the questions, but I don’t want to. And therein might be the most dramatic difference between younger me and older me. Younger me was the good Do Bee” student [Romper Room, anyone?] while older me is a wise “Your Ken can kiss my Barbie” woman [The Big Bang Theory].

Case in point, I’m not doing my schoolwork today and you can’t make me. Ha!

~ • ~

HOWEVER I WILL SHARE WITH YOU something I learned in the process of doing research for my final project that is due in a few weeks. Interestingly enough I came across a word that can be used to describe the feeling you’d have if you were standing outside in the sunshine, like the birch trees are in the photo at the top of this post.

The word is Apricity [Merriam-Webster] and it means the warmth of the sun in the winter.

Yes this is another word to add to your personal lexicon because who doesn’t like the joy of knowing an obscure word and using it in a sentence? I mean, why else would you be here today if not for another unique learning experience– and the opportunity to answer a timeless question on a cold winter’s day.

Thus I leave you, my gentle readers, to answer and comment below: do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

~ ~ • ~ ~

A Letter Home Blog Post + Food For Thought On A Tuesday Morning

February 9, 2021

Dear Friends & Relations,

Not much happening around here, but I’ll write to you anyhow because it’s Tuesday, my favorite day of the week. Huzzah!

Nowhere to go, no one to meet, but things to do.

We continue to wait until we are eligible for our first Covid-19 vaccine shot. Then, of course, there’ll be a wait for the second one, which seems to be in short supply around here, so maybe not getting the first one yet is a good thing?

I dunno. We’ve been home together in our own little bubble for about 11 months now, so what are a few more weeks or months? We’re safe, we’re healthy, we’re doing low-key things.

Here is where we updated the cookbook.

We’ve finished updating our Family Favorites Cookbooks, 3rd edition. Yep, this is a re-do of a re-do of my first home computer project that I completed in February 1994, then updated for a second edition in April 2005. The bottom line is that we now have all our favorite recipes saved in the computer as well as printed, put in binders, and ready to go in the kitchen.

Move over Martha, you ain’t the only kid on the block who has it going on with her recipes. Ha!

The epicenter of clutter where the paint fan now resides.

We’re also in the process of deciding on a new exterior paint color for the trim and siding of Chez Bean. A new roof a few years ago + a new limestone retaining wall last December + a new deck sometime in 2021 [fingers crossed] = time to repaint exterior of the house bringing the color scheme into this decade.

Deciding on a new color is fraught with design peril. Oh yes it is. We have four seasons with natural light shining in different ways on four sides of the house, and there’s a need to coordinate with the brick and new retaining wall. Thus there are many variables, many possibilities– and one dithering me.

Our “communication center” where I await your replies.

And with that I’ll end this missive about our humdrum daily life, hoping it finds you well. What’s new with you?

Very truly yours,

Ally Bean, the bored

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Food For Thought: When’s the last time you wrote a letter home? It seems quaint now to think about doing that, let alone write one that includes snapshots. Remember doing that, too?

~ ~ 🔹 ~ ~