2015, June 29

Organizing something, or seven somethings

This past week, the assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Organize something, or seven somethings. And I took it very seriously.

I do love organizing, and even though I finished my Spring-cleaning-in-the-middle-of-Summer two weeks ago, there were still things I wanted to better organize. So here’s what my week of organizing looked like:

  1. I organized our closet (in three rounds), because I brought home clean clothes from my mom and after putting them away, figured the rest could use a little tidying up.
  2. Took the BF’s ties and sorted them into “Nice, “Okay” and “No way in hell” categories, and tied each one, placing them neatly back onto two hangers so they’re not all crowded onto just the one.
  3. I folded up his shirts because he doesn’t really wear shirts that often, and when he does he irons them before wearing anyway, so now they don’t occupy space on hangers unnecessarily.​
  4. This led me to organizing my own shirts, since there was all that free space to play with. After it was all done, I took all the left over hangers and placed them in a bag, then put them away.
  5. At my mom’s, I sorted and put away stuff I hadn’t even looked at since packing them up before the remodeling last year. It’s funny how easy it was now to get rid of the stuff I didn’t need from those boxes. Out of sight, out of mind, for sure.
  6. Still at my mom’s, I rearranged the plants on the window sills. I decided to also do some “gardening” (re-potting, clearing off leaves, etc.) so this took most of my Saturday to tackle, but I bet the plants will be prettier and happier now.
  7. And last but not least, I wrapped a box in X-Mas paper, and placed in it all the Christmas decoration we had in our apartment (which I took home to my mom’s because of the lack of storage space here, and was storing them there on top of my desk of all places)… I wonder why it took me 6 months worth of procrastination before finally putting that stuff away in less than half an hour?

The assignment for week 26 is, Don’t ride on anyone else’s rollercoaster.
In the 52-52 guide, j describes it this way:
“Don’t get on anyone else’s rollercoaster. If you’re the target of someone else’s crazy, don’t engage. If you’re the hand someone’s trying to grab, stand still, let them settle down and come to you; don’t feed the crazy by jumping onboard. Mark your sanity boundaries and stand firm.”

I think we all do it, ride on someone else’s rollercoaster, more than we should. So even when you are  totally right to want to state your case, and believe that when you do the other people involved will act like sane, rational people – the moment they respond like spoiled brats, get off their rollercoaster and enjoy your own ride.

How was your week? Did you organize something? Or did you organize seven somethings, same as I? Do you feel lighter now?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

 

2015, June 26

Recipe of the Month: Coconut Heaven

It’s been a long time since I posted a Recipe of the Month bog post, but let’s correct that right now, shall we?

You might remember my Easy Pumpkin Sheet Cake recipe from a few years back. Well, I still bake that, in all sorts of variations, depending on the season. Last week, I tried it with coconut, and it tasted heavenly!

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Coconut Heaven

For the sheet cake:
2 mugs flour
1 mug sugar
2 eggs
2-3 table spoons vanilla extract
1 pack baking powder (10 grams)
half a teaspoon salt
5 table spoons oil
1 mug Coconut milk

Use the same mug (250 grams or more) all throughout baking!

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Break the eggs into the mug, add the 5 spoons of oil, mix, then pour the coconut milk over it to fill the mug. Gently stir, then add it to the rest of the ingredients in your bowl and mix well. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk. (You may need to add a bit more milk than just 1 mug, depends on the flour and sugar you’re using).

Bake in preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes on medium temperature (which depends a lot on your oven, it should be about 200-250 on an electric oven).

For the syrup:
150 grams butter
30 grams cocoa or dark chocolate
200 grams sugar
10 tablespoons milk
rum essence – optional
coconut shavings

Heat up the butter over Bain-Marie, add in the cocoa, sugar and milk while stirring continuously. Keep stirring until everything is melted and the syrup is at a smooth consistency.

“Assembling”:
Once the sheet cake has cooled, cut off the edges, and cut the rest up into squares to your liking.
Take each square and roll it in the chocolate syrup, and then in coconut shavings to cover them evenly.

Bon appétit! ;)

 

2015, June 22

Letting go, and doing what I believe

For week 23, the assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, was to Let go, deeply.
Truth be told, and proven by the fact that I had no blog post up last week, I have a hard time letting go of stuff. In my previous post I said how lately, I’ve had so much on my plate, and so much worry overall, that this assignment will either come in very handy, or make me feel like I failed if I can’t fully let go… I hoped it’d be the first.
But that didn’t really happen before my second go at it this past week.

Reading a friend’s e-mail on Monday really helped me see that I was going about this from the wrong angle, and that I could be much better at it if I re-framed how I think of things.
She talked about how at one point in time she was engaged in what she felt was an unequal relationship with a longtime friend. She was sometimes accepting, sometimes felt angry, sometimes mourned something special that wasn’t a part of her life anymore. And, the truth is, this is one of my biggest issues lately, so her e-mail resonated with me in a way that nothing else has when thinking or talking about this.
My friend resolved this issue when she decided to let go. To let go of her own expectations around that friendship, and that way she didn’t have to let go of her friend, or the friendship itself.

This is something I tried my best to do this week. To let go, deeply.

There are a few relationships which chronologically frustrate me, and leave me feeling small or disappointed. Old friendships where we make plans to go out for weeks in advance because something always comes up.
And if we go out I feel like I’m just tagging along, or like I am kept out of the loop for the sole reason that in 99% of the time I don’t share my writer’s Facebook account and previously existing, real-life friendships. I recall my friends talking about some detail of their lives and asking when that happened, only to get the “Oh, you don’t have Facebook, so you don’t know” response. I didn’t get up and walk out right then and there, only out of respect for our long time friendship.
Now, I’m thinking that I don’t want to give up on the friendships altogether, but I don’t want to feel like this anymore, either. So, I’ll let go of my expectations from said friendships and call it a day.
This past week, I made a point of this and let go of the expectations that my friend should call me when school finishes as she said she would, or that my other friend reach out when she got back from her trip as she told me before leaving. I haven’t heard from either of them.
But I let go of these expectations, and I feel so much better this way. I did look forward to talking to them, but after letting go of my expectations, it didn’t bother me. I think this is one of the best decisions, and one of the most powerful acts of self-love I made so far this year!

For week 24, the assignment was to Do what we believe. And I have to tell you, it was a little bit harder than I expected. However, this assignment somehow resonated with me, backwards. It made me really think of my life and actions.
Because, even though I believe in leading a life where love is my religion, I sometimes do things that I’m not proud of. For example, I dislike gossip, yet I sometimes do it when I’m upset over something/someone instead of being more accepting.  I believe in leading a healthy life, yet I usually skip breakfast and sometimes have unhealthy food. I believe in supporting local businesses, but in this day and age of finding many good books online with minimal effort I don’t own a library card anymore.
I thought of many things that I believe in, and even though I found several things that I could be better at, it was such a great exercise to pay attention to what I advocate for and to what I absolutely know to be true no matter who tells me otherwise!

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The assignment for week 25, is to Organize something (or 7 somethings).
Here’s what j says about this assignment in the 52-52 Guide, and her recipe on how to go about it:
“This week is devoted to organizing: clearing, decluttering, simplifying. Here’s how you do it.
1. Pick a space; it can be as big as your garage or as small as your junk drawer.
2. Sort everything in that space into piles: a “throw away” pile for anything broken; a “donate” pile for anything you haven’t used in the last six months; a “moving on” pile for anything that makes you feel small or constricted or unbearably sad. (You might throw these things away or donate them as well, but they get a little send off, a formal, cleansing recognition from you that they no longer serve you. If they have sentimental value, or if dealing with them makes you squirmy and uncertain, you can have a friend store them until you’re ready to part with them for good.)
3. Take everything that’s left and make it pretty (or logical, or alphabetical, or color-coordinated).
4. Stand back. Gaze at your beautiful new space.”

Oh, this will be easy. I think. I do love organizing, and even though I finished my Spring-cleaning-in-the-middle-of-Summer a week ago, there are still things I want to better organize (like the closet, for example, or the 3 left-over boxes at my mother’s place which haven’t been unpacked since last Summer.)

How was your week? Did you let go, deeply? Or do you generally have issues with this, same as I? Did you do that you believe? How did it feel and turn your week around?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, June 8

Smiling at strangers

The assignment for last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Smile at Strangers. It went oh-so-nicely with my favorite people moment, of which the conclusion was that a smile and two kind words can turn around your day, from my London trip! Here’s what j said about smiling at strangers, in the 52-52 guide:
“You may feel surprised by the times when you hesitate, or by the times when you absolutely don’t hesitate, and you see it happen, the little jolt in someone else, the light that comes on behind the eyes of a person who was, until the moment of your smile, running on autopilot.”

Smiling at strangers isn’t too hard for me. Not in the sense that I go about my whole day with a smile plastered on my face, but in the sense that I do my best to be kind to people and smile at them often.
I think that we don’t do it often enough. I think that people are so absorbed in whatever their everyday holds that they forget to notice other people… And it’s not a new phenomenon, either.

I recall working at the flower shop many years ago, and being kind and smiling at every customer. Every stranger.
An American lady came in and wanted 12 roses. I asked if they were for herself, or if she was buying them for someone. Given that I asked, we had a short chat while I was making the bouquet for her.
I explained to her that I asked especially because here in Romania, the custom is to buy an uneven number of flowers for surprising people, and an even number of flower if taken to the cemetery. And while personally I don’t see what the big deal is, many people here are likely to make a huge fuss if you happen to confuse the two.
After paying for the bouquet and just as we were saying goodbye, she stopped, turned around and said, “Thank you for the chat. I’ve been here for over a year and people aren’t too friendly, from what I noticed. It was a nice change!”, before walking out of the shop.

Needless to say, I was beyond happy that she felt this way about our short encounter, and ever since then I have made a point of it to smile as often as possible, even at strangers.
And, aside from the few times when I managed to pick up some stalkers, I haven’t regretted this choice.

For week 23, the assignment is to Let go, deeply.
In the 52-52 guide, j suggests it this way:
“Just before you go to bed think about the day that has just passed – all the fraught, happy, stressful, surprising, big, little, ordinary moments that make up a day – and feel grateful for them. They are, after all, absolutely unrepeatable. However delicious or distasteful they were, they were also fleeting, and they’re gone now. Remember them, and then let them go. Fully. Deeply. Tomorrow, everything is new.”

Generally speaking, I have a hard time of letting go of stuff. Lately, I’ve had so much on my plate, and so much worry overall, that this assignment will either come in very handy, or make me feel like I failed if I can’t fully let go… I’m hoping it’ll be the first though.

How was your week? Did you smile at strangers? Do you usually smile at strangers or are you shy and avoid eye contact altogether? If the latter, do you think it’d be a good idea to push yourself with this?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, June 1

Visit a favorite place; send yourself a postcard

In the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, this week the assignment was to Visit a favorite place; send yourself a postcard. When I wrote my initial thoughts on this suggestion, I said that I can’t wait to look at postcards I brought home from places I visited, and maybe even mail one of them to myself!

Well, that didn’t happen. I don’t have *all* of my stuff with me since living with my boyfriend, and the pretty postcards I brought home from places I visited and loved are nicely placed under the clear glass top of my desk at my mom’s.
So instead, I decided to go through photos of my old trips. That did the trick!

I started with London, since that was my most recent trip, and looking through the photos on my phone, all the memories came rushing back. It also reminded me, that I delayed buying a post card on several evenings and ended up forgetting before I left on Friday… So, I e-mailed myself the photo below.

A smile and two kind words can turn around your day!

A smile and two kind words can turn around your day!

I thought about how much I enjoyed everything in London!
All the people who were very very nice, both at work and if I was asking for directions or anything they were kind and went our of their way to be helpful.
I loved the double decker buses! And while I was more comfortable riding on the top deck for more than three stops, it was nice because for two days I rode with my friend Stephany so was sure to get off at the right stop, and then in Kingston where I was staying/working I couldn’t have gotten lost had I wanted to, cause it’s such a small place.

It was funny, because I had a few days stay there, but I did not get used to which side of the road I was supposed to look before crossing the street (neither with looking down and reading where the sidewalk said to look, because obviously we don’t have that here in Romania).
Repeatedly I waited for buses on the wrong side of the street, and had several buses pass me before someone pointed out that I need to signal the bus driver (the way you signal a taxi driver) if I wanted it to stop for me.
And the currency… don’t even try asking me about it, because aside from the full pound, I have no idea which penny is which, etc.

Also, I even managed to overlook pushing the button which said “push to open door” and rode an extra stop with the train at around 11:45 pm only to then have to cross to the other side, wait for another train and ride one stop back to the one I needed.
The train conductor, a lady, smiled at me and wished me a good night as I was walking all tired, feet hurting and upset about having missed my stop earlier, towards the gates in the right station. She hadn’t seen my clumsiness, of course. This made me smile and forget about it all, thanked her and wished her an easy shift. This is one of my favorite “people moments” from that trip!

Writing this blog post, the assignment itself and going through the photos from my trip prompted the thought that I should mail myself a postcard when I travel next. From every trip, actually. It would be so cool to sum up a thought, a feeling and have it arrive by mail on a beautiful postcard after getting home.

The assignment for week 22 is to Smile at Strangers. Wow, does it go oh-so-nicely with my favorite people moment which I just detailed above from my London trip! Here’s what j said about smiling at strangers, in the 52-52 guide:
“You may feel surprised by the times when you hesitate, or by the times when you absolutely don’t hesitate, and you see it happen, the little jolt in someone else, the light that comes on behind the eyes of a person who was, until the moment of your smile, running on autopilot.”

How was your week? Did you leave visit a favorite place? Or did you also just take a stroll down memory lane by looking at photos, postcards and other mementos you brought back from previous trips? Have you mailed yourself a postcard either this past week, or ever before?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, May 25

Leaving Love Laying Around

Last week, in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, we left love laying around.

That means, I lit a candle, baked cookies and made tea. I left pots-it note love on the fridge, and wrote some Love Letters and left them laying around in the kitchen at work, on the street, under windshield wipers and in a coffee shop.

Having my birthday last Wednesday, I was also on the recipient end of some love. Friends called me, texted, e-mailed and left me sweet comments and messages on Facebook and via Twitter. Dinner was made for me, I received presents, flowers, I got a massage, and was pampered.

It was a good week, and it felt like all the love I left laying around, came pouring back in!

For week 21, the assignment is to Visit a favorite place; send yourself a postcard.
When j decided to write this e-guide, she sent a note to some people she loves asking for ideas. Her friend sent her this idea, and I like it so much! Can’t wait to look at postcards I brought home from places I visited, and maybe even mail one of them to myself!

How was your week? Did you leave love laying around? For your family only, or in public places for strangers to find as well? In case you took pics, too, I’d love to see them!

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, May 19

My Artist’s Date and my Personal Manifesto…

I’m a bit late in posting about my Artist’s Date, which was the assignment for Week 18 in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly.

In my last blog post, I said how great it’d be to take yourself on a date and do something that inspires you. And I was hoping that for me, it would be as simple as a walk in the Botanical Garden which I’ve been meaning to write about (and a relaxing walk through it while taking lots of photos sparks my creativity, and at the end of said walk I’d rush home to put all my thoughts to paper).

Well, needless to say that walk never happened. The Tulips aren’t in bloom anymore, so I put the walk off and haven’t realized it until the week had past.
So my big date turned out to be a Saturday in. I went out to toss the trash and buy bread, and walked back on a different route. Children were outside playing, mom’s were chatting by fences and dads were fixing cars in the background.
After that short walk, I came home to Pixel and started cooking. Nothing fancy, just normal, yummy food to have over the weekend. But I realized it has been way too long since I cooked and baked every weekend. Life is harried on most days, and it’s so easy grabbing a bite at lunch in the city during the week, that it made me all the more happy to just be by myself and cook. It cleared my mind like nothing else could have!

Then, for week 19, the assignment was to Write our Personal Manifestos. From the guide…

“I love manifestos. I love the certainty of them, the optimism of writing out your aspirations as faits accomplis, the boldness of life plans deeply rooted in personal values.

They’re mission statements with personality, business plans for the soul.

This week, write a personal manifesto. Dig deep. Put it all down on paper – where you’re going, how you’re getting there, the beliefs and principles that guide you, consciously or not, every step of the way. Get conscious. Take your time. Add to it daily. This is you, as art.

Even though I initially wanted to flake on writing one, luckily I followed j’s suggestion and typed “manifestos” into Google. The Image results definitely inspired me, made me want to play with image editing – and so, below is my own manifesto:

Estrella's Personal Manifesto

The assignment for week 20, this week, is to Leave Love Lying Around. As j suggests in the guide:
“Choose any (or all) of the options listed below.

Write lipstick messages on the mirror.
Bomb your neighborhood with tear off posters.
Make post-it note art.
Draw love in chalk on the sidewalk.
Leave love notes in surprising places.
Declare yourself (boldly, beautifully).
Leave bookmarks in library books.
Bake something heart-shaped.
Light some candles.
Tuck a flower under a windshield wiper.
Leave a Scrabble note.”

Oh, how much fun I had leaving love notes behind every day for a full month a few years ago. This will be a great week, I just know it!

How were your past two weeks? Did you take yourself on an Artist’s Date? Have you written a Personal Manifesto? Or have you had one written for a while now? I’d love to see!

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

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