Create and send a little inspiration

As part of my AOK Writing project, I’m creating a slide-based tutorial on fashioning your own inspirational message for those needing a little support and, using bit.ly, including the shortened/memorable URL in any handwritten note. There’s also no reason you can’t create a short inspirational video instead of a static message. Hmmm…

[Note: my tutorial includes the step of publishing a Google Slide to the web; there’s no reason you couldn’t just post your message on your blog and ‘bit.ly-ize’ your post. I just chose the other route to make the link more exclusive.]

The steps:

  1. Create a PDF/PNG/JPEG poster of support or inspiration. I used Canva.
  2. Place it on a  blog page.
  3. Create a bit.ly link to it and include the link in your handwritten letter/note.

Here is a 90-second video showing my steps that included Canva, Google Slides [optional], and bit.ly.

Here is the link to the completed project.  http://bit.ly/tryagain2

I should be writing.. Instead, apple crisp…and apple cake.

This off-kilter shot is all about featuring our beloved former dog Bear’s watchful eye.

I really had no choice.

It’s officially apple season and the golden delicious tree is burgeoning.

So, last Sunday I slapped together an apple crisp sans recipe, though my trusty assistant in culinary crimes–my wife and herder of Buddy the Rescue Dog–pulled up an Epicurious recipe for a crust topping as a guide. For the filling, I just knew what ingredients I wanted and went from there.

Result: a caramelly ooze —gee, go figure, when the cook indiscriminately tosses in plenty of brown sugar and enough flour…well, there were the sweet cherries and their juice, and the chunks of golden delicioius–well, you get the picture… and the crust was as good as the apple-goo. 

Autumn…I love you.**

***

A few days later, within hours of finishing the crisp, and with plenty of Act of Kindness Writing chores I could/should be dealing with, it was time for an apple cake…or, as the recipe calls it, a ‘moist’ apple cake.

On its own, this is a ‘will bake again’ item. As always, though, I did stray ‘just a bit’…

  • I added allspice to both the apple mixture and the flour mixture.
  • When it comes to cinnamon, I just don’t get the low doses in most recipes. Can’t remember the last time I actually measured cinnamon.
  • I added rehydrated Craisins.
  • I made my own ‘apple sauce’. I just mashed away at, and then seasoned, chunks of golden delicious with the pastry cutter. And mashed away some more.
  • Figuring on a more moist result, I used a loaf pan instead of a 9” x 13” pan.
  • Fearing there might be spillover, I scooped out about a cup of the mixture and slathered that into a greased pie pan. Gotta say, when revisiting this recipe, I’ll be tempted to go exclusively with pie pans. It’s a quicker bake and four smaller cakes open the door to more experimentation, say a little creme de cassis reduction for one of them…and Ree Drummond’s Easy Caramel Sauce for another. Come to think of it…I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have those on hand for slices of this current version…

The problem with a spillover cake is its insistence on immediate measures for quality control.
Buddy anxiously awaiting ‘his’ afternoon coffee time.
He fully approves of fall flavors.

**“No, deeeear! I don’t know anyone named Autumn!”

A day of putoffedness

I just noticed that I want a new default font on this program. I can’t move ahead with my day of extreme productivity (cool that I italicized it) until I change my default font.

I mean, it’s an expression of who I am and in 2020, it’s absolutely all about me.

So, what do I think?

Comic Sans?

Bodoni?

And do I want to bold it?

And god forbid, what font size do I want?

I might need a day to work through this and move my day of extreme productivity to tomorrow and keep today as my day of extreme angst over more important issues. (Still deserving of italics, I see.)

Yep, the life of a listless, shiftless writer is not an easy one. No one seems to understand that. 

So I guess I am here on this earth to share that ugly truth with the world.

4 simple ways to have a great idea–Richard St. John

I enjoyed this five-minute TED talk by Richard St. John. In it, he draws on lessons from Richard Branson, singer Sam Smith, Google co-founder Larry Page, Botox-pioneer Dr. Jean Carruthers, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman.

It speaks to those of us putting words to screen, paint on canvas, plans to paper, and everything in between. For some, the ideas aren’t new, but who doesn’t need a few reminders every once in awhile?

Some favorite quotes:

“Ears are wifi for ideas.”

“EyeQ often wins over IQ.”

“When a really great dream shows up, grab it.”

Derek Sivers: 6 links re: a very interesting guy

Derek Sivers offers mountains of value at no cost to you.

Check out his notes on books he’s read.

More specifically, writers, here are his notes on the classic, On Writing Well.

And this blog post: $250K books sold. $250K to save lives.

Here are Goodreads comments on his book, Hell Yeah or No: What’s Worth Doing. I don’t see the book listed on Amazon, despite the Amazon link on the Goodreads page. It didn’t turn up in Apple Books either, so I think he’s simply selling it on his site. Sounds good to me.

Even better than the comments, here is his overview of the book. (Feels more like the entire book. Hey, I’m not complaining.)

I should be writing. Instead, drifting…toward chocolate cake.

  1. Raise your hand if:
  • you’ve ever left a measuring cup in the bag of flour or sugar.
  • you’ve intentionally left a measuring cup in the bag of flour or sugar for the next baking venture.
  • you skipped the ‘firmly pack the brown sugar’ step and instead just poured in an extra tablespoon or two of the stuff.
  • you would consider breaking off a hunk of this cake rather than resorting to a [pinkies up!] utensil. Recipe below…Note: Feel free to overdo both the chocolate chips and the cocoa.

2. Best way to get rid of the redolent odor of wildfire smoke in your kitchen? Four batches of roasted tomatoes, with generous supplies of garlic chunks, rosemary sprigs, etc. [It ain’t pretty here in Oregon right now…]

3. And then there’s this: Do you think dogs lying peacefully on the floor know the difference between our giving them half our attention [one hand scratching their chin and one hand clicking links or entering a passcode] vs. our full attention? Do we send out a ‘semi-distracted’ vibe when we are, in fact, semi-distracted?

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

**

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

**

  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 TBLSP cocoa

**

  • 3 six-inch long zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cream first four ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Add next three ingredients and stir well to mix.
  3. Measure next six ingredients into sifter; then sift into bowl of other ingredients.
  4. Finely grate zucchini into bowl; stir until blended. 
  5. Fold in half of the chocolate chips to mixture.
  6. Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan –or- two 9″ cake pans.
  7. Sprinkle rest of chocolate chips on top of batter.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. [Check it about the 37-minute mark. Hey, different ovens, right?]

*Cutting the oil in half barely changes the final result.