Question 16 of 52

Image result for lemon

What is self esteem?

It is the measure of self-worth or personal value.

Back in University I took several mandatory courses on self-esteem. My prof. was Eva Roche. I learned a lot from her. One class she invited all of us (40 ish?) to her home for breakfast. Her house was perched on Strathearn Drive overlooking the valley and downtown Edmonton. She shared this home with Senator Doug Roche. It was a strange but lovely bohemian home with the living quarters upstairs to take advantage of the views. All the walls were lined with book cases filled with books from floor to ceiling, except the living room. It had two chairs in front of a large picture window and a sofa with a soft yellow throw. I have no idea why I remember this home in such vivid detail, but I do.

Eva asked us to bring a lemon. There was food laid out on the long farmer’s table. We only had to bring a lemon. So I did. We ate, toured her home, visited with each other and finally she asked us to join her in the library. It was the largest room about 15′ x 15 ‘ square but there were no chairs in this room. We stood around the perimeter and she asked us to place the lemon on the floor. We were to think of the lemon as ourselves and place it where we felt we fit within the group. I was asked to go first. I placed it left of the centre. I didn’t not see myself as the centre of the group.

What followed shocked me. People were placing the lemons around me so by the end I was in the centre. I always felt invisible. I never was the centre of attention but I always had a kind word for people. I also would notice when someone was felling left out or alone, I would approach them so they would feel connection. The feed back I received was I was confident, compassionate and kind. True, I did see myself like that. I wasn’t the most popular but I was the reliable, kind person of the group. The most interesting part of this social experiment was the most popular person was on the outside. She didn’t feel connected. She arranged all the fun stuff to do and people loved having this social director of the group, but she never felt connected. Never being a popular person, I never thought about how it must feel. She did all those things to gain a connection and she never felt worthy of it. This shocked me to my core. After that day, I made more of an effort to connect with her. We finished out the program as best pals until she moved back to Nova Scotia.

My self-esteem took a hit living with a man who mentality and emotionally abused me. He would say things like ‘your mother doesn’t love you.’ or ‘if it wasn’t for me, you would have no one.’ He separated me from my friends and family. I was alone and disconnected. I broke up with him once, only to be sucked back in by his ability to manipulate my family. One day he said, I don’t want to have children with you because you would insist on giving them self-esteem. He spat it out as if it was a bad thing. I looked at him and it was if a glass wall shattered. I saw the sad boy on the outside wanting to connect with someone. Making me like him was his way of connecting. That was the day I began plotting my exit. I tried a few times to leave but escape is hard when you can’t articulate to friends and family why you need to leave. I didn’t fully understand myself until years later after endless journal entries and visits to my therapist.

It took a long time to get back to understanding my self-worth and personal value. I can still see people who are looking to connect. I sometimes try to connect but I get easily pulled into their emotional turmoil so I have set strong boundaries. It took years to get here, so I am cautious who I let into my circle because I want to avoid being sucked under again. But mostly it feels good to be comfortable in my own skin.

Stay healthy friends!

Big Emotions

I see a light at the end of the tunnel. My first vaccine shot happened on Thursday and I felt euphoric. Then I went home and back to work. Whomp whomp….

This past year I have felt some really big emotions and I don’t have anywhere to put them. The world is on fire and I have to pretend it is normal as I proceed with fulfilling my regular duties. Only nothing is normal and stuff feels meaningless. All of this has heightened my stress levels. I often feel like a caged animal who is afraid to leave the safety of the cage.

My meditation practice is suffering, my sleep is suffering, my body is suffering and my outlets are limiting. I realize you are all feeling the same as me in varying degrees because as much as we are similar we are also unique. Staying positive and hopeful is becoming increasingly difficult. Its been 13 months, I suppose the big emotions are normal. The mundane life I am leading is just that… mundane. I don’t find purpose or passion in anything I do lately. In an attempt to rectify that, I took myself for a walk in the woods.

Normally a walk in nature is the first thing that cures what ails me. With my trusty pal by my side, I normally come back refreshed. Except that didn’t happen either. I find it increasingly hard to find a spot that is devoid of people. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DISTANCING! I took myself to Miquelon Provincial Park thinking the river valley would be packed on a warm spring day (19C!). I wanted it quiet. I wanted to sit and hear birds, wind through the tall grass, leaves crunching beneath the feel of animals and all I heard was loud music, bad singing and shouting people. It was the farthest thing from restful. I wanted a peaceful respite from covid life.

The 40 minute drive there and back was nice. I quietly contemplated life and where I see myself in two months and even a year from from now. My answer was – not this. I have been here before. Not this is the basis for I want that. But first you have to know what you don’t want to get what you do want.

So what do I want?

  • I want my second dose at the 6 week mark – not four months down the road.
  • I want to sit in nature and hear nature.
  • I want to work on one project and give it all the love it deserves.
  • I want freedom to be spontaneous.
  • I want my values to align with everything I do
  • I want people to understand that kindness will get you everything you need.
  • I want everyone to value honesty
  • I want a life where I don’t need a vacation to escape from it.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I am looking forward to the end. How about you?

Question 15 of 52

How do you think other people see you?

Who are the other people? My friends? My coworkers? My family? My extended family? Strangers?

Everyone sees me differently. I use vulnerability to connect with people. Some people view that as a ploy for me to further myself. Some people view that as a safe quality – it makes them feel comfortable around me. Those are the people I like. They are like me. I learn from those other people. I learn some people don’t want to be around me. Maybe I make them uncomfortable by holding up a mirror and they don’t like what they see. Or maybe they just don’t vibe with me.

My point is, it is none of your business how people see you. It is their business. Just keep on being your authentic self and things will be fine. It is stressful to pretend to be someone else so you get people to like you. Get over that. Find your people. Be yourself. Do nice things. Be good to you.

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Confetti Cake

At my house, we are heading into birthday season. It kicks off with my mom’s birthday in March and ends with my dad’s in May. In between there are nephews, sisters, best friends and my two kids. We used to have parties in the before times. Now we bake layer cakes, give two layers to the birthday person and save one for us so we can eat it virtually together. My daughter requested a confetti layer cake but shares her birthday week with two of her best friends. She wants each of them to have a layer….with money baked in. Then she will deliver the cakes and together they will Zoom chat, eat cake and likely watch a movie or play a game together. This is what quarantine birthdays part II look like. Her first one was sad and lonely, now we have the hang of this together alone business. Maybe next year will be different?

I pulled out my Dessert Person cookbook by Claire Saffitz. She has really good cake cake recipes. Her Almond Poppy Seed is stellar. So I thought I would give her Confetti Cake a try.

In my head this is a pink cake, but when I read the recipe and look at my photos – its white. Weird.

The recipe calls for three 9″ round cake pans. I have two, but I also have a 9″ spring form pan. So I used that as well since this was not going to be a three layer cake. Grease – I used Pam – the pans then cut a 9″ round of parchment for the bottom of the pan and give that a once over with spray as well. Set these aside.

This cake uses the reverse creaming method. Nothing about this method is typical to cakes but it makes a superior moist cake with a tight crumb. I will forever make cakes this way from now on.

Mix all the dry ingredients (this includes the sugar – strange but true) in your stand mixer on low and mix to combine. Give the eggs a quick whisk with a fork to break them up then add it along with all the wet ingredients to the dry. Turn the speed up and let it go for a good two minutes. You are whipping it to incorporate air. This is what makes it fluffy.

Turn the speed up and let it go for a good two minutes. You are whipping it to incorporate air. This is what makes it fluffy.

It makes a big difference so set your timer. Then add one cup of sprinkles. I went to bulk barn. When you need a lot, buying in bulk makes sense.

The stars are my favourites.

Pour out the batter into the prepared pans. You can scoop, pour or weigh but try to get them even so they bake at the same rate.

Bake at 350F for about 40 – 45 minutes rotating at about 30 minutes unless you have a convection oven – then its fine and will bake evenly. Let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Cake need the pan to help hold its structure. pop them out too quickly and you get cracks or broken sections. Then lay them on a wire rack to cool completely.

While they are cooling make your frosting. This uses a pound of room temp cream cheese – the good stuff not low fat or it won’t emulsify. This equates to two packages of cream cheese (room temp) and half a pound of butter – also room temp. Cream these two together for a minute. Then add one pound of icing sugar, a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of vanilla. Cover your mixer with a clean tea towel and start mixing until everything is fluffy and combined. Chill this in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

I trimmed the layers so they would sit flat on the cake plate.

This is the chef’s snack.

Then place a dollop of frosting onto the layer, spread it around. It is at this point you add money. Wrap coins in wax paper or cling wrap – my grandma always used foil – and lay the coins around the first layer. Mix it up! Add twoonies and loonies or even wrap a fiver – but coins are super fun. Then add the next layer flat side up. Continue spreading the frosting across the top then the sides. Use a bench scraper to get everything super smooth.

I tossed more sprinkles on top but do whatever you like. My decorating skills are basic because it doesn’t interest me to go fancy – that is my sister’s job.

I did the same with the single layer but you could add it as a third layer if you wish.

This cake was delicious and reminded me of birthday cakes in the olden days before people started buying supermarket sheet cakes. I think that is why I thought I didn’t like cake. Store cakes don’t taste like anything good.

The single layer was plenty big. You could even wrap the layers and freeze. Frost them before you are going to eat them. I recommend watching her video first.

Here are the ingredients:

Confetti Cake:

Butter for the pans

5 1/2 cups cake flour (23.3 oz/ 660g)

2 1/2 cups sugar (16.4 oz / 466g)

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (0.63 oz / 18g)

1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.16 oz / 5g)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3 sticks unsalted butter (12 oz / 340g),

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (12.7 oz / 360g)

1/3 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed (2.6 oz / 75g)

3 large eggs (5.3 oz / 150g),

6 large egg whites (7.4 oz / 210g),

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2 cup store-bought rainbow sprinkles (3.3 oz / 93g), plus more for decorating

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

Question 14 of 52

Name three qualities you love about yourself.

As we get deeper into these questions, they feel a little repetitive. Maybe that is the point. Keep telling yourself that you love you until you believe it.

  1. I am comfortable being alone. In fact, I love it. I am an introvert. That doesn’t make me shy. Introvert means my energy is depleted in a crowd of people or when I am with energy vampires. Working from home during the pandemic has me living my best life. I like the quiet. I can get lots done and I don’t feel like someone is sucking the energy from me dementor style. I enjoy my own company and get my best thinking done alone.
  2. I am a risk taker. People are not mind readers. You need to ask for what you want. This is risky and puts you in a vulnerable position. But it is helpful too. If I don’t want something I express that. If I do want something – I will say it out loud. Tell someone. They might be able to help. Tell the Universe. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything about it. Take a risk.
  3. I am a dreamer. My grade one teacher Mrs. Long used to tell my parents I day dream too much. No I don’t. Stop blaming me because your class was boring. I used daydreaming to solve problems, think about what I want in the future or just put myself into a movie of my own making. It kept me out of trouble and I wasn’t bothering anyone. Lots of teachers were interesting and I would stay focused in their class. I can sit for long periods of time in stillness but my mind is super active planning out my future, coming up with new ideas or sometimes thinking about a scenario I wish I could have done different. I am learning from all of those scenarios. Dreaming is what makes the world better.

How about you? What three things do you love about yourself?

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Not Hot Cross Buns

The act of making is typically done to please someone else. At least in my case. I have created all kinds of things to gain that praise from someone. When I bake I make things that my family likes. Not this time. Today I made something that only I like. Last week I realized I have not been treating myself – that ended today.

My daughter claims dried fruit is an abomination. Raisins are like chewing old people. I disagree. But because I love her, I tend to leave out raisins, dried cherries, candied ginger and other dried fruit to please her. My grandma put raisins in everything. I remember my dad complaining about it in everything but butter tarts. I always loved them except that time she put it in her stew… grandma – I love you but that was weird. But the raisin sauce on ham was good!

Today I made Not Hot Cross Buns because every spring the bakeries make them and they look so delicious with their currents and raisins. The hubs bough ‘hot cross bun bagels’ last week. The flavour was nice but the fruit was green and red. That candied peel fruit that is dyed is tasteless and holds way too much artificial colour. I prefer no food dye. I am not sure why – but it turns me off. Anything that alters normal body chemistry and turns things colours can’t be good for you over the long haul.

I soaked 2/3 cup of raisins – the good kind that taste like they came from a red box. You know what I mean. Then I zested one orange and juiced it. I soaked the raisins in the orange juice for about 30 minutes. Rum is good for this as well. While that was happening I weighed out my 440g of flour, 50 grams of dark brown sugar and 50 g of white granulated sugar into the bowl of my stand mixer. I added 2 1/4 tsp or one package of instant yeast, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of allspice and 1/4 of a grated nutmeg. I whisked that together and started on my wet ingredients.

Into a small bowl or two cup glass measure, I added 1/2 cup of 2% milk, 1/3 cup of butter and popped that into the microwave for about a minute swirling it together until the butter melted. I added 1 Tbsp. of vanilla and the orange zest from before. Whisked 1 egg and add it to the mix.

In your stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (or by hand – but it will take a while) on low speed, slowly drizzle the wet ingredients. Before it combines into a ball, drain the raisins and add them to the dough. Beat on medium speed until it comes together. There will likely be raisins or what ever dried fruit you used on the bottom of the bowl.

Sprinkle about 2 Tbsp. of flour onto a clean surface and dump the dough and remaining dried fruit out. Start to knead the dough until it feels soft. At the beginning it will be gritty – you will know the second it becomes soft and smooth. It will take about 5-7 minutes but maybe longer. It took me 10 minutes today. Form into a ball.

Light oil a bowl, and place your dough into the bowl. rotate it so it also is covered in oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let this double in size in a warm spot. Keep an eye on it it should be about an hour but it really depends on your kitchen.

Divide up the dough into 14 pieces and form into balls. I put them into a parchment lined pan because I like soft sides. Give them a little room because they will expand. If you don’t want soft pull-a-parts – put them on a baking tray with lots of room around them so they won’t touch while rising. Let rise for another 2 hours.

This is where I stop because a flour paste cross is tasteless and I don’t like the sticky glaze – but if you do – here are the rest of the instructions. This is why I call them Not Hot Cross Buns. My daughter said – just call it raisin buns…. sheesh mom!

The cross! Mix about a 1/3 cup of flour and 1/4 of water until it forms a paste. You are going to pipe this – so adjust the consistency as necessary. I filled a ziplock bag and snipped the end off. Pipe a long stream from top to bottom allowing it to hug the bun. Turn your tray and repeat the process intersecting the first line.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Make an egg wash of egg and cream or milk – about a tbsp, and brush over your buns. Bake in the overn for about 20 – 25 minutes.

Make an apricot glaze – I used Peach jam because that is what my mom made me and it is what I had on hand. 1 tbsp. of jam, 3 tbsp. of vanilla and 1 tbsp. of water. heat together and strain through a fine sieve. Brush over the warm buns. Eat them warm, eat them room temperature or eat them cold.

This is how they should look:

Easter Hot Cross Buns Recipe | Le Cordon Bleu

Tell me how yours turned out!

Stay healthy friends!

Question 13 of 52

Bits: Kermit, Miss Piggy Split; 'Archie' Musical In Works | Joy Hog!

Of the people in your life, who makes you feel the most confident?

The hubs. I suppose your life partner should be the one you feel safest with. I know that isn’t always true. I was married before to a class A selfish abusive rat-bastard. That relationship was the opposite of instilling confidence. I went through a series of people in my life who were allowed – by me – to treat me like hot garbage. There was a deep something that was comforting about this. I knew what to expect. Knowing what to expect – even bad – was comforting. How sad is that? Feeling bad because you know what to expect. Abuse messes you up.

The hubs held space for me to explore all kinds of feelings and experiences. He was constant. Was? IS. I had a terrible “friend” once say my hubs was a good guy like it was a surprise. He is. We are a good team. He is the anchor while I go out and try new things and either fall or fly. He is there to cheer or give me Band-Aids. Our relationship has evolved into something I can’t explain but its really good. Twenty five years this June.

Who is your person?

One year later

It’s been one year since everything changed for everyone on the planet. How are you all doing? I am tired, as in, I am not sleeping well. I have a lot on my mind and it wakes me up or worse, I dream about it. So I am doing my best to stay present. One of my strategies for that is to read. I have read 11 books in March (there is that 11 again). Reading keeps me absorbed in the story so I can’t think about the future. Since January, I have read 21 books. I can see thinks took a turn for the worse in Late February… so I read. I read at breakfast, lunch, after work and before bed. On the weekends I read most of the afternoon.

I read somewhere on some self-help thing that reading a book a week will change your life. I suppose it can. The more I read the faster I get. I retain a lot of it but I am only reading fiction with a couple of memoirs thrown in. I read a lot for work last year and you know what? I learned I am not that ambitious that I need to spend my down time reading for work. I have chose books from Jenna Bush’s book club, tried Reese Whitherspoons’ book club and have hated all of them except for one. Oprah’s books are often too tragic. I am trying to not be tragic so I can’t read those. I like happy.

My top three reads for the first Q of 2021

  1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  2. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kid
  3. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I am still baking on the regular. I just haven’t written about it lately. I made a three layer birthday funfetti cake with extra sprinkles. I made some ginger krinkles – the same ones you can buy at the Duchess and I am planning out Hot Cross Buns for Easter. I don’t celebrate Easter but I really like Hot Cross Buns and Cadbury Cream Eggs, so those will happen as a treat for me.

Treat for me.

I just realized I haven’t been doing any thing nice for me. Maybe that’s why I am feeling so crappy with the stress living in my head.

I did one thing that was fun and for me. I went downtown to the Downtown Spark Festival and saw Fantastic Planet. I love public art installations. This one was fun and interesting – I will do a post on the entire happenings including those cute chickadees and the rabbits at Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) but I need to get there first.

May be an image of standing, sculpture and outdoors

Soon I expect to hear I can make an appointment for my vaccination. I fall under 2b – those high-risk non-senior adults. I am looking forward to it because I miss stuff. Like visiting Vancouver in the spring, or the mountains in the fall. Most of all I miss brunch.

Brunch… It’s a stupid name that means delicious. The hubs and I take the bottle return money and put it in our brunch jar. So far we have enough saved for a dozen brunches. Soon I will be able to take my brunch money and have it pay for a trip to Tofino for brunch at the Point. Oh man! I miss Tofino. Surprisingly, I don’t miss Disneyland.

No photo description available.

I think the first places I will visit will be Tofino, Vancouver and then head east as far as St. John’s. I also want to meet up with friends at the Sugarbowl. Just have a giant takeover of the patio in the height of summer, drinking beer and eating their popcorn. It’s funny that you don’t realize what you miss until its gone.

The Sugarbowl Cafe | Alberta Canada

As I wait for my turn for the vaccine, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. The anticipation of a new found freedom (ironically as we head into the third wave…) I want long summer nights on patios with friends laughing. Not talking about serious stuff. Just fun stupid stuff. I want to go swimming. I miss swimming. I want to listen to music and watch theatre in the park or even inside. I want to hug family.

Realistically I know this isn’t going to happen in 2021, but 2022 will have no excuse. Get your vaccine because its science and because you should do nice things for others but most of all you.

Stay healthy friends.

Question 12 of 52

What do you do when you see a classmate struggling with something?

I suppose in my case it would be a colleague or peer. Throughout my life people told me I was too sensitive and I needed to grow a thicker skin. In the same breath I was too mean. So what’s the deal? The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone so you might as well please yourself. As a kid, I was hypersensitive to kids who were bullied or harmed, or even struggled with tasks. I wanted to help and protect everyone. I know there is a whole case study as to why I was like that – no need to go into the psychology of it. However, it is a trait I still have. I like being a helper.

But…

I am careful who I help. I look at a multitude of factors.

  • Do I consider them a friend?
  • If they are a stranger – is it something I can assist with that won’t put me in jeopardy?
  • Do they help others?
  • Are the generally kind?
  • Do I think I can trust them?

If I can answer yes to these questions – then I will help to the level they will let me. That is important. No point in helping someone who wont accept your help. Mister Rogers tells children to look for the helpers. I know I am one of his helpers.

I knew a woman who helped strangers unconditionally because it might be Jesus – you never know. But when it came to friends and family, forget it. I always found that strange. She rather let something rot in front of her than give it to someone in her family who would use it. She would demand help rather than ask for it. That’s fine, it was her prerogative. That is not how I am. If I can, I will help. As a kid I could see when people needed help. As a hermit or recluse – not really but feels like that now in quarantine – I need verbal ques and direct asking because I feel clueless. When someone struggles, it genuinely hurts my heart. Contrary to popular sibling belief, I am not a monster but siblings see each other as forever 11 never maturing. Boundaries can make people perceive you that way because you will say no. I suppose it is complicated.

I like to say yes, but saying no can be very good for me. Evaluating the situation is new for me and smart. I think the correct answer is to be self-aware and know what you are capable of doing because you can’t give water from an empty well.

How about you? Are you one of Mister Rogers helpers?