coincidence?

today is national cat day AND national internet day. coincidence? i think not! 

to celebrate, here is a picture of sophie on the internet. also a preview of catvember. 

sophie

when the urge strikes, write

When was the last time you were out and about, and suddenly thought, β€œI need to write about this!”?

i had finished my master’s degree and needed a job, so i took an overnight position at target to get through that whole needing money thing until i found a real job. 

before i’d left my graduate assistantship at the st cloud state communications office, i had gotten a list of books to read from the main writer in the office. i’d read a couple of the books on her list, both of which were real duds in my thinking. 

the next book on my list was bill bryson’s a walk in the woods. with a sigh, i picked it up, thinking it would be a failure like the others on her list. to my great and wonderful surprise, the book was a delight, and it still holds a spot on my top ten books list. 

back to target.

i had brought the book with me to work because that’s what i did: read a book in the corner during lunch while everyone else watched tv. i was finishing up the last couple chapters of the book, which is about hiking the appalachian trail, and i was suddenly struck –

– and i mean struck 

by the sudden urge to write about the trip down the missouri river i took with my dad, brother, cousin, and uncles. 

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it was such a strong feeling, i almost couldn’t finish the book with the excitement i had about putting that story down into words. 

needless to say, i was able to finish the book and my night of mindless work, and the finished written product was a bathroom review: or why i don’t mind a portapotty.

within a month i found a better job, quit target, and was more than satisfied with my tale of floating down the missouri river.

 

the golden hour

what is your best hour of the day? (the prompt asked specifically about 6 a.m., but i amended it.)

i am not necessarily a morning person, but when faced with the choice of working first or second shift, i will choose first every time.

i am not necessarily a night owl, but when faced with the option of reading an intense book versus going to sleep, i will choose the book every time.

i don’t like to wake up in the morning; i will choose my bed over the first hour of wakefulness every time. unfortunately, i need to deal with the first hour of wakefulness to get to my golden hour. 

once out of that first hour, however, it’s smooth sailing to the good ol’ golden hour. and weirdly enough, that golden hour changes depending on the time of year.

the golden hour for me is the last couple hours of the daylight, so in the summertime it’s about 7-9 p.m., whereas in the wintertime, it’s 4-5 p.m. (very sad face at this).

this is the perfect time to sit outside, go for a run, meander on a trail, go for a boat ride, or just watch the sun set. it’s a time to breathe and take moment to look around you, to just let the time of day and position of the sun remind you that it’ll be ok. it’s the time to unwind, let the day’s downturns trail out of you, and just relax for a moment. the sun sets slowly, light dissipating around from into vibrant, bright blue into oranges, pinks, purples, deeper blues, indigos, and into dark blues until the white dots of stars take over the sky. wintertime sunsets are quick and crisp, while summertime sunsets take their time, letting the colors wash the earth completely before the sun slips out of sight.

golden hour.

duck, duck…duck

nate has been ranting about cooking duck for a long, long time. i’ve only had duck once before in my life, and i don’t think it was prepared very well because it didn’t necessarily strike a chord in my when nate kept bringing up duck.

well, i finally caved and made duck. and it was yummy.

the first thing i did was watch the good eats episode on how to make duck, so i had that under my belt. next, i saved up so i could actually buy the duck. (duck is expensive! the one we bought was $19.) the second was to choose a date to make it – and today was chosen.

now, you could cook the duck whole, but alton brown’s recipe calls for cutting it into quarters; this was the first time i’d actually cut apart a fowl pre-cooking. after wrestling with bones and skin and my not-so-sharp knives, i finally was able to put the meat in the brine. oh, did i mention there was a brine? if i were to do this again, i’d include half the salt since the duck came pre-injected with crap. BUT. the brine had pineapple juice in it, which i thought was cheeky on the part of alton.

after the brine, i steamed the duck for 45 minutes per instructions. the only pot big enough to do the job was my canning pot, so out that came again. meanwhile, my cast iron pan heated up in the 475ΒΊ(!) oven. 

after the steam, i placed the duck skin-down in the pan so it crisped up nicely. the skin was scored so the fat that sits under the duck skin, which helps them float, has a way to get out from under the skin. so when you pull the duck pieces from the pan, you’re left with some nice duck fat, which according to nate should be good on everything.

it was a little salty due to the double brining effort, but it was yummy. would make again.

meta takeaways

here's a photo of a cat to keep you entertained.

here’s a photo of a cat to keep you entertained.

this is going to be a blog post about blogging. how meta.

i went to the minnesota blogger conference today and learned stuff about blogging. here are the top takeaways i got from the conference.

1. your blog post needs to be at least 300 words for google to index it. not 280. not 299. 300. THAT is the biggest thing i learned, and i believe the most useful for work, where i just started a news blog. the more we can get out on google, the better. 

2. another useful thing i learned that i will apply to work: it can take at least 9 months for a blog to really take off. i’ve gotten more than one comment about how no one’s reading the blog (they are) and it’s useless (can’t say that yet!) so why are we bothering? if we are still getting the numbers we are getting now, which are not horrible (the most read post is 500 views), then i will put a kibosh on it. 

3. i found out a useful wordpress plugin that gives a calendar view of posts versus a listing.

4. a personal thought process from novice to expert: “this is neat. -> i might be good at this. -> i’m a _______.” 

5. find 6 characteristics you value and use them as a filter for everyone and everything you work with. does content serve your audience? does your content fit your values? don’t dilute your message with extraneous crap. be the guardian leader of your blog. *

6. be the best answer. what can i be the best answer for? what is it i’m best at? what do i want to be known for?

* what are my 6 values?

1. eat well, but remember to eat socially as well. 

2. pay attention – beauty is in places you least expect.

3. be cynically optimistic. or optimistically cynical.

4. it’s ok to be excited about weird stuff.

5. be an environmentalist. we only have one earth.

6. still working on this one! 

a devil's syrup update

it’s been a while since i’ve done a devil’s syrup update. 

i’ve been avoiding it like normal, except when september rolls around and coffeehouses bring out the pumpkin spice everything, it’s kind of hard to keep my ban going when i love all things pumpkin. 

i’ve cut back this year on my pumpkin coffee intake to avoid the DS, but it’s so yummy. curse you, caribou! curse you, devil’s syrup! i could be going all out pumpkin, but no!

other than that, there has been a shift to devil’s syrup in some ice creams, as i’ve discussed earlier. i’ve noticed that all processed stick-shaped meat has DS in it. i thought i was safe! but even bratwurst bought directly from a meat market has it in it. the market in eyota has polish sausages that are DS-free, so i might just have to go with that. come one people; why do meats need sweetener?

speaking of sweetener, my coworker and i decided to go sugar free on our coffee creamer for the winter months, but every single sugar-free creamer we’ve picked up has had corn syrup solids in it. HOW IS THAT SUGAR FREE???? corn syrup is pure sugar! it boggles my mind.  

/rant

i’m almost done christmas shopping. i’ve got to figure something out for my grandma and pick something up for jane and my mom, but i think everyone else is done. i don’t know what this has to do with devil’s syrup, but there it is. happy almost-november! 

macaron time

well, let’s give this a go. i’m going to try to monetize macaron making. friday i’ll make a dozen for my mom and a dozen for jane. and a dozen for me. haha!

i’m going to try making pumpkin spice macarons, which should be delicious. we’ll see if they stack up to or surpass the lemon macarons. 

 

a few things

1. i am going to be published in rochester women’s magazine! how exciting. i submitted a version of my pumpkin pie thanksgiving story. i’m hoping anything out there will be better than nothing. i’m really hoping someone offers me money to write for them.

2. if you want to start yoga, i highly recommend fightmaster yoga on youtube. the instructor has the most soothing voice for yoga, and the time flies by – namaste. she has beginner, intermediate, and yoga specifically for weight loss, certain poses, etc. she has a ton of videos. that was my problem previously with yoga: i was doing the same thing over and over. a little variation helps a ton! i do it without a mat on my living room carpet; so far it’s been working. my core is definitely getting the workout it was missing.

3. mn blogger conference this weekend! i was going to go just for me, but after looking at the schedule and talking to my coworker, it’s probably going to be helpful for work, too. so i’m going for work and taking friday off! woo!

4. i gotta carve pumpkins!