The First Chapter of 2021: Choosing Our Own Adventure

cake with 2021 candle to celebrate new year

We have just opened up the first chapter of 2021, which is already exciting with that ‘new book’ smell and the crisp pages. Of course, it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ book, where we know only some of the characters and nothing about the full plot or ending.

Read More...

Stopping to Smell the Pastries

I haven’t blogged in a while because…well 2020, right? Like everyone else, I’ve been home and only venturing out for exercise or groceries. Channeling the baker protagonist in my most recent novel, Christmas at Maplemont Manor, I’ve also been baking up a storm.

The fresh-baked smell of cardamom rolls, cinnamon rolls, banana walnut bread, pumpkin spice cupcakes, lemon blueberry bread, and honey wheat sandwich bread wafted frequently in my house every few days. Fortunately, I’ve also learned to freeze such beautiful creations to be able to balance out the exercise to carb ratio. (FYI – you can freeze most bread for up to a month – wrap it up in aluminium foil to freeze and then pop it in the oven at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes to reheat – You’re welcome.).

Mostly the recipes have turned out pretty good, however, my attempt at a simple pound cake with my substitutions resulted in disaster and required me to clean the oven. I also attempted some shortbread cookies that turned out like concrete, making me worry I would chip a tooth.

What I’ve learned is that I can pretty much bake any type of bread, but once any recipe gets too close to “cake” or “cookie” territory, then it’s a disaster. It’s an odd superpower to discover somewhat late in life, the bread-making ability, but life often surprises us.

I’ve also started learning Swedish which has been pretty entertaining and providing me with some sense of structure and progress. Perhaps the most fun phrase I can say in Swedish now is: “It’s raining men.” Ha ha!

What I haven’t been doing is…writing. And, that’s OK. I’ve written myself my own permission slip for that. It’s in the form of a cinnamon roll. 🙂

However you are getting through this time as an artist and human is awesome. If you’re able to turn this time into something more creative than carbohydrates, then I’m absolutely cheering you on. If you’re just happy to have checked the mail, I’m also absolutely cheering you on as well!

As for me, I’ve managed a blog article today which is very exciting. However this reaches you, please know that I’m sending you light and comfort – that feeling we all get when consuming the most perfect of cardamom rolls or blueberry lemon bread.

Please take care of yourselves and others. There’s no “right” way to get through this. In case you need to hear it – you’re doing a great job. Hang in there. And remember, you can freeze the bread, cupcakes, and rolls – they’ll all keep. 🙂

Finding Joy in 2020

While it hardly feels like 2019 ‘is so last year’ yet, we have indeed embarked on a new decade and a new year. Usually the new year brings along ideas of resolutions or simply goals for what things should fall into the ‘out with the old,’ and what we should add ‘in with the new.’ Maybe it’s more gym time or finally taking that trip, or learning a new language. Whatever you’ve settled on, I wish you godspeed in 2020.

Last year, my resolution was to publish a new novel – and, I’m happy to report that I did so and it was great fun to share Christmas at Maplemont Manor with the world! For those who have read it, I do hope that you enjoyed the holiday splendor and joy of the season that I had aimed to share. Writing it (especially the pun-filled chapter titles) brought me such joy – it really was terrific fun. As a self-published author, I write for the simple joy of it!

This year, my focus is 100% on spending more time on things that bring me joy. For me, that list includes downhill skiing, cooking awesome food, spending time with friends, reading interesting books, and traveling someplace new.

Since it’s still (happily) winter, my favorite of the seasons, I’ve started with the goal of downhill skiing every week while the snow lasts! I basically grew up on skis, in a little mountain town where we lived minutes from a ski hill. I started skiing about the same time that I learned to walk. That said, I’m not an Olympian skier, however, there’s something about skiing that brings me joy.

It’s that same spark of joy that I experience from opening the oven to smell fresh cardamom rolls that I’ve made from scratch, which is now something I do most weeks. I think our jobs as humans is to find these experiences that bring us joy and then incorporate them into our lives as much as possible.

Sometimes we tend to go overboard with the idea of ‘joy’ – like it should be something big that others notice, that it must be pursued in some dramatic fashion, or that it’s fleeting. I think that joy is around all the time, but we do need to take a breath to notice it and enjoy the moments. Today, for example, one of my moments of joy was making the perfect cup of coffee in my new french press.

My hope for all of us in 2020 is that we find and celebrate those moments and we embrace the things and people that bring us joy. Life short – find your joy! It’s most likely right in front of you!