Tag Archives: winter blues

I’ll do it Mañana #amslacking #amwriting (a little)

For those of us who regularly participate in NaNoWriMo, the month of December can be a comparatively unproductive time. I average 500 – 1000 new words each day, mostly in the form of re-writing and tweaking existing prose.

I find myself cooking a lot and doing some housework. I’m not a great housekeeper but I do like to keep things dug out, so some sort of chore is always on the list. Whatever can be done in one hour gets done. Everything else can be done mañana (tomorrow).

It’s the end of the year and a good time to look back, and see your accomplishments for the year. One of my personal goals this year was to clean out the garage.

Oops.

Maybe next year. I’m sure it will happen in 2019.

The weather has been dark and dreary here in the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been reading old Agatha Christie novels. When I’m not reading or writing, I like to bake bread at this time of the year. Few things are homier than the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the house.

And, when I have a little urge to write, I find myself in the Room of Shame, taking a look at existing work with a fresh eye and checking for:

  • Spelling—misspelled words, auto-correct errors, and homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently). These words are insidious because they are real words and don’t immediately stand out as being out of place.
  • Repeated words and cut-and-paste errors. These are sneaky and dreadfully difficult to spot. Spell-checker won’t always find them. To you the author, they make sense because you see what you intended to see. For the reader, they appear as unusually garbled sentences.
  • Missing punctuation and closed quotes. These things happen to the best of us.
  • Digits/Numbers: Miskeyed numbers are difficult to spot when they are wrong unless they are spelled out.
  • Dropped and missing words.

These are things that always find their way into my work during the mad rush of NaNoWriMo. In my writing hours, I’m working on things to submit and don’t want to send out work that looks unprofessional.

I plan on taking it easy for the rest of the month, cooking a little, cleaning a little, and making revisions, but mostly I’m going to spend the dark time of December curled up on the sofa with Agatha Christie, lost in as many Miss Marple mysteries as I can stuff into my Kindle.

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Winter Blues

The strange, dark days of winter have closed in on us. Sunrise won’t happen today until 7:43 a.m., and sunset will fall on us at 4:43 p.m.

That is 16 more minutes of daylight than on the 1st of January, but who’s counting?

This eternal darkness colors my general attitude, making me feel more like staying in bed than getting up and doing things. But then, I get involved in a project and forget how depressing the weather is.

bread machineI think I’ll make rosemary-bread today–I love it toasted. Being vegan, I usually make my own  in my bread machine. My family is used to homemade bread, and look forward to it when they come back to visit. One of my daughters commented that she missed the kind of bread we always had when she was growing up–I didn’t have a bread machine in those days-I just made it by hand. When I didn’t have time to make bread I made biscuits, which we still all love.

Today I am also making granola–another thing that is better when you make it yourself.

I do use locally sourced honey for my granola, which makes it not-vegan, but I am not a purist–honey is a good, natural sweetener and no bees are harmed in the process! For a change-up I use maple syrup. I’m not on the stevia or agave bandwagon, as I don’t really use a lot of sweeteners, and I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go.

My recipe for granola is as follows:

granolaHOMEMADE GRANOLA

BASIC INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup locally sourced honey or maple syrup
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds (or 1 cup sliced almonds and 1 cup chopped walnuts)

 

IDEAS FOR ADD INS (Mix and match–Use your imagination—Go wild!)

  • 1 1/2 cups small diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup banana chips (dried banana)
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup small diced dried figs
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries–I’m from where these are a locally grown product, so I use these most often.
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup dried chopped mango

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, and coconut and almonds/walnuts together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated.

Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 45 minutes. I set the timer so that I am called to the kitchen to stir the granola every 8 minutes–if I forget that step, our granola may be a bit dark and crispy.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruits. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container

 http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-creamy-wild-rice-mushroom-soup/


http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-creamy-wild-rice-mushroom-soup/ (replace dairy with almond or coconut milk & Toffutti better-than-sour-cream)

Maybe I’ll make a crock pot soup too, something hearty and comforting. Then, once the house is in order I’m going to write for a while–it’s that sort of day.

Maybe the long dark days aren’t so bad–maybe they’re cozy and comforting in a way. Certainly life is simpler, and the really important things gain a sharper focus–family, friends, and food–the three ‘f’s of a full life.

Tomorrow there will be four more minutes of daylight, and the day after that, four more. Soon we will be at the summer solstice, where the sun rises at 4:11 a.m. and sets at 8:11 p.m.  (5:11 a.m. and 9:11 p.m. PDT)  How good it is to know we are on the ‘getting brighter’ side of the calendar!

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