April 29, 2006, is the day I decided to start blogging. Yay for 14 years!
I’m forever grateful to my past self for taking the leap. Even though back then blogging was considered sketchy by many. Now it’s a standard for most businesses and has been for sometime now.
What a difference 14 years makes! Given we’re now in the midst of a global pandemic, what a difference six weeks makes.
Depending upon the country you live in, or what part of the United States you’re located, many of us are still remaining at home to help flatten the curve and stop the spread. I live in Quincy, which is part of Greater Boston and we’re in the worst of it so far.
While staying inside, I’m also on a personal journey of inner healing. I’ve found several people on Instagram who are inspiring millions of us to look inward. Links to them are below, in no particular order, if you’d like to follow them too.
My quarantine baking is in full swing. I’ve also found a keeper of a chocolate chip cookie recipe. How can I express the enormity of this?
I’ve been baking since I was a little kid. My mom baked from scratch. She baked a lot. Growing up we literally had dessert every night after dinner.
I was always by her side “helping” or at the very least just licking the spoon and bowl clean. I learned so much watching her over those years. One of the things that she baked most often was chocolate chip cookies. There was nothing like getting a spoonful of raw cookie dough to tide me over until the cookies were baked. It’s still a treat that brings me back. Eventually I was able to make them myself.
Over the years, I’ve probably baked dozens of variations of chocolate chip cookie recipes. The recipes don’t vary much. For the most part there are no surprises. At least until I saw the recipe for the DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe.
It’s a game changer. I’ve never had their cookies before and now I know why they’re so beloved. This is the most substantial chocolate chip cookie that I have ever baked by far. It’s delicious, gooey, solid and filling.
As an aside, because of pandemic panic buying, I hadn’t seen all-purpose flour on store shelves in weeks, so I bought cake flour and used that. I guess I need to make this recipe with regular flour as well to see if there is a difference.
Anyway, the ingredients in this recipes are different. Along with the standard ones, there is cinnamon, lemon juice, walnuts and oats. Also there’s double the normal amount of chocolate chips. But an even bigger difference is the manner of baking. Most recipes bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. These cookies bake at 300 degrees for 20-23 minutes. That’s revolutionary!
I cut this cookie recipe in half and didn’t add the lemon juice, because it was such a small amount. I might try using it the next time. And there will be a next time. I think this is my new standard chocolate chip recipe.
Here is my adapted version of the recipe below. The original version is supposed to make 26 cookies. Maybe I made smaller cookies than called for, but I baked six yesterday and still have plenty of cookie dough left in the fridge. I guess the amount you get will be based on how much dough you use for each cookie.
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DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup and 2 T flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Put oven on 300 degrees. Take out cookie sheet.
In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough onto the cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Keep them socially distanced! Bake for 20-23 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. Enjoy!
Being someone who appreciates food and an abundance of flavors, it’s no surprise that I have a strong sense of smell. I enjoy scented soaps, lotions, perfumes and often burn incense and scented candles.
A few months ago, I remember seeing some very pretty reed diffusers at a small pop-up shop. They were somewhat pricey and I wondered how well they actually worked. Would the scent really permeate my whole apartment like a candle or incense?
Then a few days ago, I saw an Instagram post with some simple instructions on how to make my own reed diffuser. I realized that I already had all the items necessary to make one. So why not give it a go?
About an hour ago, I made my own. It took about 15 minutes, which includes the time it took to empty a spice bottle and remove the label.
I probably used a little more than the recommended 25 drops of essential oil. Don’t! I shouldn’t have. I had removed the stopper from one of the bottles, so it spilled out. The smell is actually a bit too strong now.
Next time I’ll be more careful with measuring and will play around with the different scents. It does smell good though and will fade over time. Plus, I like the look of it.
This cost me nothing to make, because I already had everything at home, so I’m glad that I didn’t spend money buying one. The markup is incredible.
So if you like making things and already have most of the ingredients at home, do it yourself and save the $25 or more for something else. Below is what I used, based on the post from Wandering Wild Home.
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DIY Reed Diffuser
Small glass bottle with a smaller opening at the top – spice bottles work perfectly. 7 bamboo skewers 1/4 cup grape seed oil 2 T vodka – I only had vanilla vodka, but it worked fine. 25 drops of essential oil – I used 5 drops eucalyptus, 10 drops orange, about 12 drops vanilla.
Mix the oil and vodka in a tiny bowl. Then mix in the essential oils. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into the bottle. Put the skewers in and you’re done! Flip the reeds when you want a stronger smell.
I never wanted a pandemic theme song. Then again, I never wanted to be in a pandemic.
For whatever reasons, there have been certain periods in my life where I wake up and the first thing that comes to mind is one particular song. It happens over and over again — each day upon waking. And again, if I go back to sleep and wake up. Sometimes, even if I take a nap. Kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. It’s been going on for weeks.
I’m not dreaming. It’s as I wake up, the lyrics and music are my first conscious thought. No doubt stemming from my subconscious in some way.
When this happened before, I don’t remember what made it stop or the name of the songs. But generally, when I need to get something out of my head, I have to write about it. Then it will go away. So this is my attempt to make it stop.
I woke up. Suddenly I just woke up. To the happening.
Maybe my subconscious sees the pandemic as the happening. It certainly is happening even though I wish it weren’t. Though I’m not sure why my mind needs to put it to music.
During school, when it came time to write papers and study for exams, I worked best with lots of music. Including the bar exam. I remember playing Alexander O’Neal on serious repeat. The Teddy Riley – Babyface musical battle on Instagram, which I did watch by the way, came closer to some of the songs that should be my theme song.
Music has always helped me cope with difficult situations. But “The Happening” was never one of those songs. It came out in 1967, when I was only three years old. It’s not a bad song. I like it. But I’ve never had any particular affinity with it.
Life is certainly testing all of our coping skills, so maybe this song is one of my coping mechanisms. I had planned to write differently about the pandemic. I’ve been reading articles and saving links, but have found that it’s been too much. So I’ll write in bits and pieces as I can.
I sewed a mask to wear when I go out and found that I had to modify it, because it was hard to breathe. A poem called “Wash Your Hands” by Dori Midnight has become a favorite.
We’re in a liminal place right now. Our lives are so different than they were just two months ago. And we don’t yet know what the future will bring. But life will never be the same. We are in that in between where things are changing. Life isn’t what it was or what it will be.
The discomfort we’re feeling is grief, according to an article that I read. Grief for what was. Grief for people who may have already died or who may die. Maybe even fear of our own deaths, especially dying alone. We’re all dealing with so much loss as we transition to whatever the “after” will look like.
Recently, I finally watched the Netflix seriesSALT FAT ACID HEAT and was especially struck by the show on heat. Heat is the element of transformation. It triggers change.
It made me think about the saying, “If you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen” and the idea that extreme heat and pressure transform coal into diamonds.
This pandemic has us all under extreme pressure. For those that are sick, a literal rise in body temperature is one of the symptoms. Our lives are being transformed into something else and we are very uncomfortable. We don’t have the option of getting out of the kitchen. We have to deal with the heat.
I don’t know how to process it all except to acknowledge that this is where were are right now. And sit with it. It’s happening to me and it’s happening to you. Maybe that’s what my pandemic theme song has been trying to tell me all along.