In Honor Of St. Isidore Of Seville, Linky Love For Eggheads Intent On Self-Improvement

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TODAY IS THE FEAST DAY of St. Isidore of Seville.  Sometimes referred to as the last scholar of the ancient world, he lived from 560 to 636 in Spain and was an Archbishop in his day. [More here]

He is the Patron Saint of Electronics and the Internet, having been named such by the Roman Catholic Church in 1999. [More here]

Today the Order of Saint Isidore of Seville works toward Christian chivalry on the internet. Their motto in Latin is Bono Vince Malum which in English means: “Overcome Evil with Good.”

SO WITH THE FOREGOING IN mind I’m typing away like a good little blogger this morning, one who’d like to share with you the following good articles that I’ve been thinking about this past week.

I’m conscious of what I allow to fill my brain, knowing that for me it’s easy to get lost in the sauce [emotion] of what I’m reading.  Thus I tend to restrict my casual online reading away from hate and vitriol toward what I call good psychology.

Below are links to five articles, with a bit of commentary provided by moi. ‘Cause this is a personal blog and that’s what I’m supposed to do. Babble a bit, share a bit, provide joy & insight to my readers.

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Are you an evil genius? How dishonesty can make you more creative 

[well, there’s a truth to this]

The Surprising Benefits of Creating a ‘Failure Resume’ 

[did this, somehow don’t feel better about myself]

Don’t Know What To Do With Your Life? This Exercise Can Make Things Clear 

[good idea, I need a manifesto]

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. Take One That Isn’t.  

[quickly confirms that I know who I am]

Why A “Complaint Cleanse” May Be Exactly What You Need For A Happier Week 

[clever idea that makes sense to me]

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The One About Birdbaths, The Path You Choose, & A Survey About My Blog

Over the weekend we went to a garden decor center to look at birdbaths for my butterfly habitat.  There is no end to the exciting things we do here.  In fact I sometimes hesitate telling you, my gentle readers, what we’re up to because I don’t want to make anyone jealous.

We didn’t find a birdbath that’ll work for us because it’s early in the outdoor season here so the selection was minimal– and because the ones available required electricity which we don’t have where I want to put a birdbath.

But we had a nice time walking around the property in the sunshine.  YAY SPRING! 😎

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In the parking lot of this garden decor center is a sign that directs you one way or the other.  You can either meander down the Scenic Route that wraps around the front of the property where there are displays of ponds + fountains + birdbaths to give you an idea of what you might want to do in your yard.  This path is kind of artsy fartsy.

Or you can use the Main Entrance and go directly to the merchandise in the back of the property where it’s organized in large quadrants of similar items.  This is where the helpful sales people are ready to get you all squared away.  This path is fast and practical.

Scenic route or main entrance?  Those are your choices at the garden decor center.  And it seems to me, an English major who can find meaning in anything, those are often your choices in life.  Which begs the question:

WHICH WAY IS YOUR USUAL CHOSEN PATH: MEANDER OR DIRECT? Hmmm…? 🤔

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On a whim yesterday afternoon I created a free survey about this blog using SurveyMonkey.  Having never done anything like this before, I followed their suggestions about the questions to include.

There are seven questions that according to them will take you 1 minute to answer.  Trust me when I say that it took me longer than 1 minute to make this survey– learning curve, kind of steep.

I have my *fingers crossed* that this is going to work.  Also, you’ll be anonymous.  There are no demographic questions and I won’t know your IP address.

Click on HOW AM I DOING? to be magically transported to my survey, should you care to take a minute of your time and answer my questions.  Thank you in advance for your kind participation in my first online survey. 🤓

SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED.

Mercury Is In Retrograde & My Subconscious Is On The Blinketh, Me Thinketh

I’VE BEEN KNOWN TO SAY: trust the process.  I don’t know that I do that all the time because my ego gets in the way, but when I chill out and reflect upon situations it seems like a worthy goal– if you’re trying to live your life in a heart-centered way.

Thus I give you the following series of events, hoping that there is something good + insightful to be gleaned from this.  I mean, there’s nothing bad or tragic with the following, it’s just weird– even by my standards of self-awareness.

Which are low during this time when Mercury is in retrograde.

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PERHAPS YOU KNOW ABOUT THE idea of posing a question to yourself as you fall asleep at night, allowing your subconscious to give you the answer, revealed in your first thoughts in the morning?

I learned about doing this from a yoga teacher, a woman who was one of those totally centered, but not unrealistically cheerful, instructors who was all about helping other people find their way IF the other person was sincere.

I liked her classes. Useful.

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HERE’S THE QUESTION I ASKED myself last night was: what could I write about on my blog this week?  And my subconscious tossed a question back at me that is about as random and unexpected as they get.

It’s a question for which I have no answer, nor need to know an answer.  And I realize that no one is alive that would be able to answer it.

Here’s what I woke up thinking about: did my mother, who was three years younger than her older sister, know that when her older sister stepped on the train headed for a holiday in Texas, that her older sister was going off to elope? 

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THIS IS AN ODD QUESTION that has left me baffled about what is going on inside my brain.  I mean, what do you suppose my subconscious is trying to tell me?

Is it saying that I need to go on a vacation? That it’s time for me to tell stories about my ancestors? That it’s broken and needs a professional tune-up?

I dunno, but I will say I’m a little bit freaked out about what the heck is going on inside my mind.  I’ll admit to being older and more addled than I once was, but I’m usually not so far out there with the answers to my questions.

However, be that as it may, let’s blame it on Mercury in retrograde, just like I did many years ago.

The One About Unexpectedly Making A Noteworthy Mess In The Kitchen

Don’t do this.

I can’t say for certain that I created my worst kitchen mess ever, but I can say that what I did was so far beyond my usual kitchen messes that it is worthy of note.

And belongs on my Top Five Biggest Kitchen Messes Ever List.

If I had such a list.  But I don’t.

Here’s what I did. 

I got the wok out and put it on the cooktop because I was getting ready to stir-fry some vegetables for dinner. 

Then I grabbed the canola oil from the shelf and opened a new 32 fl.oz. bottle.  

Made of flimsy plastic.

I went to pour some oil into the wok but I lost control of the lightweight, squishy, poorly designed, this-is-really-not-my-fault bottle.  Thus I ended up pouring canola oil:

  • into the wok; 
  • onto the cooktop; 
  • onto the granite counter beside the cooktop; 
  • into the utensil crock filled with spoons and spatulas sitting on the granite counter; and last but not least 
  • onto and into the wooden knife holder, filled with knives, sitting beside the utensil crock filled with spoons and spatulas sitting on the granite counter beside the cooktop.

Say good-bye to half a bottle of oil.

As you can imagine the spilled 16 fl. oz. of oil immediately began to spread across the cooktop and the granite counter, dribbling down the front of the cabinets, leaving puddles of oil on the floor.  

This, you expect.

And, of course, the oil got inside the utensil crock, pooling in the bottom, where it stayed until I washed the crock and everything in it.  

Again, this is what you expect. 

But the big surprise is that once the oil covered the outside of wooden knife holder, it quickly oozed into the knife slots.  There, in an instant, the oil was absorbed into those slots in such a way as to make the wooden knife holder, that suddenly had begun to smell like mold, about as un-washable and un-usable as anything I’ve ever seen destroyed in a kitchen.

This sort of mess I did not expect.

So there you have it, another story in which my life is not as idyllic as one might hope.  A story, in fact, that lends itself to me asking you a question, my gentle readers:

What’s the biggest cooking &/or baking mess you’ve made in the kitchen?

Blogging: When Nagging Doubts Take Over Your Mind

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Would you like to know a secret? Something about me, as a blogger, that I’ve never told anyone before?

Well lean in closer, my gentle readers, here goes…

I’m spending way too much time worrying about what to write here.

I mean, if I learned one thing from my blogging break it is that when I’m not blogging I wake up in the morning with a mind filled with mellow thoughts.

And I start my day with a sense of clarity and purpose that’d make Covey [and his Seven Habits] happy.

But when I’m actively doing the bloggy thing I wake up in the morning uncertain, with confused ideas about what to write here and low-level anxiety about whether or not what I published earlier in the week was a good idea.

Doubts fill me in a way that only the Devil [and his Seven Mortal Sins] could take joy in.

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So you know what I did? How I handled these nagging doubts that worry me?

I conducted a study on my bloggy self and my writing behavior wherein: 1) I tracked the time I spent blogging during October;  2) I reviewed my following/commenting process looking for a better way to do it; and 3) I evaluated my categories with an eye to revision.

Here are my findings + changes:

1) I put in about 3 hours per day on all things blogging, such as researching, writing, editing, publishing, reading other blogs, and commenting;

2) I follow a variety of bloggers and to do this more easily I’ve ditched WP Reader entirely, choosing to upgrade my Feedly account wherein I can have everyone filed away, all orderly like;  and

3) I need to have fewer categories, well-defined in my head, so that when I sit down to write I’m focused and unworried, thus I’ve re-envisioned my blog with 7 categories.

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So has my little foray into personal blogging self-awareness helped me feel more in control of what I’m doing here?

In a word, YES.  Most definitely.

And maybe the message of this blog post is that once a year I need to revisit what I’m doing on this blog and how I want to keep on doing it, so that writing my personal blog doesn’t cause me to worry.

Seems obvious as I say it here, but sometimes the obvious doesn’t come so easily to me.

No secret about that, now is there?

Where I Was When I Wasn’t Here: San Antonio, TX

TO BEGIN

Colorful bat mosaic on wall at zoo.

“The world is a book. If you do not travel, you read only a page.”

The above quote, that I see every day when I’m at home, is on a framed piece of artwork that I have hanging on a wall in our home office.

I only mention this quote, attributed to St. Augustine, because I believe it to be true, a guiding principle.  Thus I said “hell to the yes” when I had the opportunity to spend a few days in pleasant and pretty San Antonio, TX.

You see, last week Zen-Den was in San Antonio for a conference.  Remembering how much fun we had there years ago, I joined him after the conference was over and we goofed off for a couple of days doing things in America’s 7th largest city that is celebrating its 300th birthday.

[Did not know either of those facts before visiting there. Feel that I’m a better person for having shared them here.]

THINGS WE DID

• The San Antonio River Walk which is a meandering multi-level path around an urban waterway surrounded by restaurants, shops, and hotels.

• The Briscoe Western Art Museum which was beautiful, and wherein I saw Roy Rogers’s saddle, a real Wells Fargo Wagon, and ate a complimentary cupcake.

• The Alamo Quarry Market which is an open-air shopping area filled with stores and restaurants, not necessarily unique to San Antonio but a nice place to wander around in the warm sunshine.

• The San Antonio Zoo which was lovely, with more animals from South America, Australia, and Africa than any other zoo I’ve been to.

• The Alamo City Comic Con which was our first adventure into the happy, trippy subculture that revolves around comic conventions.  Here are my observations: 1) people, often entire families, were costumed like comic book or TV or movie characters [we were not];  2) people were standing in line waiting to pay to have photos taken with and/or objects signed by celebrities [we did not];  & 3) people were buying memorabilia and posters and t-shirts from the displays set up by many vendors [we did not].

IN CONCLUSION

And with that I’ll end this post with a hat tip to St. Augustine and his travel advice, suggesting to you, my gentle readers, that San Antonio, TX, is a fun + friendly place to visit for those of you inclined to want to read more than one page of this book we call the world.

The Great Cobbler Debacle Of 2018 + 12 Fruit-Based Desserts Explained

In the aftermath of the debacle there were questions, reasonable ones.

How could this have happened? What recipe did you use?

I used a recipe I found online from what I thought was from a reliable source.  Fake news, meet fake recipes.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t double-check the recipe, comparing it with other recipes, like a smart person would do.

After the debacle, when I found a wonderful recipe by the Barefoot Contessa, I realized that I had used a recipe with the wrong batter to fruit ratio.

Did you set the oven to the correct temperature?

I did, but after the debacle I checked the oven temperature with a thermometer to confirm that the oven was heating like it should.  It is not.

In fact it’s heating about 25º below where it should be so the cobbler baked at the wrong temperature.  Hence, the cobbler remained a soggy mess even when it’d been in the oven for twice the suggested time.

 How much money did you waste on this debacle?

Oh, the shame.  I hang my head as I tell you that I bought raspberries and blackberries and blueberries for this untested recipe, assuming it’d be a wonderful desert.  But it wasn’t, it never even made it to the table– thus my $12.00 worth of berries were lost.

And from a good friend trying to distract me: what are the differences among the various fruit-based desserts? Do you know?

I didn’t know the answer to her question, so I did some research, which was a good way for me, an egghead, to get over the debacle.  This is what I learned.

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BROWN BETTY – fresh fruit [often apples], spiced, then baked under buttered bread crumbs

BUCKLE – single layer cake that rises up around the fruit that is in the middle, making fruit buckle down, while cake forms circle above it

CLAFOUTI – fresh fruit [often cherries] covered with a flan-like batter and baked, usually in a cast iron skillet

COBBLER – fruit sweetened in a way that creates a thick syrup, with dough plopped on top like individual biscuits that when baked looks like a cobblestone street

CRISP – fresh fruit, spiced with cinnamon [+ other spices sometimes], baked with streusel topping

CRUMBLE – buttery crumbs that include oats with sweetened fruit baked between two layers of crumbs

GRUNT – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top, named for the sound the fruit makes while it cooks

PANDOWDY – a baked pie [usually apple] that has a thick crust on top with slits that allow the juices to bubble up onto the top of the pie, then using a spoon one pushes the crust down as it bakes so that the dessert looks dowdy when taken from the oven

PIE – sweetened and thickened fruit as the filling, baked, usually in a round pan, between lower pastry and top pastry or crumb topping

PING – fruit [usually cherries], covered in a sweet sauce, with spoonfuls of dough that form a crust on top that when tapped makes a hollow pinging sound that indicates it’s finished baking

SHORTCAKE – I’m not going down this road again… click here & read what we discussed earlier this year

SLUMP – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top wherein the topping slumps into the fruit

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Sources of general information + a few specific recipes: Serious Eats, Huffington Post, the spruce Eats, FLOURISH, kitchn, Cook’s Country, COOKS.COM.

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I’ve eaten 9 of the 12 desserts defined above.  I’ve not had Brown Betty, nor have I had Grunt or Slump– which some sources say are the same thing.  🤨