Recipes intimidate me. Or some of them do, anyway. Here’s one silly example: I never attempted to make pie crust until I was almost 50. My Grandma used to make the thinnest, crispiest, most delicious pie crust and I always figure I wouldn’t come close to measuring up to hers, so why bother. Until one Thanksgiving a few years ago, that is. I had a hankering for homemade pumpkin pie and nobody else was planning to bake one, so I did. And surprise of all surprises, pie crust wasn’t hard to make at all! Huh.
This morning, I decided to make scones. I’d never tried to make scones, either.Because? Well, because I am very picky about my scones. I they must be crumbly – not bready or cakey. They must be sweetened, but not sweet. And they should be flavorful, but not over-the-top bold. That’s a tall order, right? Especially for someone who doesn’t have a great understanding of how to experiment with baking recipes. I generally love to experiment in the kitchen, but baking is different. If you mess up in baking you may just end up with soup or something… Not that I have anything against soup, I love soup. But, if you’re expecting a pretty bundt cake and you end up with soup? It’s a little disappointing.
Anyway, today I made scones. I actually did do a little experimenting. The recipe called for orange zest and I’m not a big fan of orange-flavored baked goods, so I used apple cider instead. Now hold on a second before you go yelling at your screen. I know apple cider is nothing like orange zest. But I did look up substitutes for orange zest and the page listed orange juice or lemon juice, so I figured apple cider might work. Plus, the scones I made were cranberry and I like apples and cranberries together, so I gave it a shot.
I’m not sure if it was the little bit of extra fluid (just a big T of apple cider), but my scones turned out much too cakey 🙁 And while the cranberries were bold, I wish I’d chopped up some dried cranberries instead of using the whole, fresh ones the recipe called for. Plus, salt — there was no salt in the recipe! I’m not a huge user of the stuff, but it goes so far by way of sprucing up other flavors. I think a little salt would have been a good thing in this instance.
Long story, short: Will I try the recipe again? I think so. But I’ll make some of the changes I mentioned above and also research why the texture was off. T tablespoon of extra fluid doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference. I dunno.
Why did I want to bake scones this morning in the first place? Remember yesterday’s post about being frugal? Well, I had extra cranberries in the fridge from a delicious cranberry cake I for Christmas and I didn’t want them to go to waste. Pinterest to the rescue! Although, now, sitting here, eating my scone with a nice cup of coffee? Now I wish I’d make muffins.
I’m gonna make my 2016 about exploring and experimentation. Last year I focused on writing: finding my voice, finding my confidence, finding a rhythm to write by. Now that we’re at the end of 2015, I find that I like my voice. I think I write from interesting angles and I like to explore.
This coming year, 2016, will be my time to figure out where the people are who might want to read what I’ve written. My tribe. I need to learn where I can make my writing a profession. Need is an interesting word to use, though. I guess I don’t really need to, but I want to contribute my share doing what I love to do. That’s my goal; by year’s end, but by July 1st would be even better!
I’ll write a blog about exploring, whatever strikes my fancy to explore on any given day. I’ll write blog posts freelance. I’ll tweet and text and email and post when I’ve written something. I’ll learn how to promote myself without feeling like an asshole.
My question is, who wants advice from a 50 year-old woman who admittedly doesn’t have it all together? Although my intent is not to advise, actually. It’s to demonstrate how I go about experimenting my way through life. It’s how I like to frame things.
So how will I measure? I guess the biggest difference in the way I do it is that I measure quality of life first. If I’m not happy with the way I’m spending my time, I’m just wasting it, and there’s nothing I hate worse than to waste stuff.
I had all the rest of the lessons about myself written and ready to roll onto this page, but sadly my laptop crashed on me. So, I suppose, my last life lesson to learn, before I turn 50, is that I am flexible.
I can be ready for anything at any time. That’s not to say I’ll like whatever I have to face. I should have washed my mouth out with soap, the words that flew outta there when I realized my laptop was gone with all its files.
No, I didn’t back up my files. Yes, it’s all my fault. Yes, I’m incredibly angry with myself, but no there’s nothing I can do to bring them back. Will I spend my time dwelling on it? No. That’s not productive and it would certainly do nothing for my state of mind. So, flexible.
I am rewriting my script. I am skirting around the corner that wasn’t there yesterday. I can’t say if I was born this way or learned to be flexible because life gave it to me to learn. Either way, it doesn’t make sense to me to roll around in self-pity, ever. I’d much rather pick myself up, dust off the last remnants of sadness/anger/frustration and move the hell on.
Have you ever blown a really important conversational moment? I have. I did it just the other day, as a matter of fact. I always feel terrible when that happens; probably worse than is actually warranted, but I carry that shit with me.
The other day, the conversation was me attempting to convey my condolences. I told an acquaintance how sorry I was that her Gran had passed away. Then I told her, “It gets easier.”
And that was my mistake.
No, it’s not a giant mistake and it wasn’t offensive, but it was trite and conveyed my intention in the smallest possible way that I’m embarrassed those words came out of my mouth. Because here’s the thing: It really doesn’t get easier. It’s never easy, any moment you remember that you’ll never get a chance to talk to or bump shoulders with or smell the particular scent of someone you love, those moments are always filled with sadness.
What I should have said, and would still if I could have a do-over, is that it gets less raw. That’s the real truth of it. Loss isn’t easy and it really shouldn’t ever be an easy thing to miss someone we love dearly. But it should become less raw, and thankfully it usually does.
Less raw? Yes. When you first lose someone, whether it’s from a death or from a divorce or a simple act of relocation, it leaves a ragged hole. It’s sore and throbbing and probably even bleeds a little bit, sort of like when you lose a tooth as a kid. But then a day comes, down the line, when you forget about the loss, so you poke your tongue into the empty space left there. And you forget because it’s not raw anymore. And maybe you can breathe a small sigh of relief.
So, here’s what I wish I would have said, in that conversation: I’m so sorry your gran passed away. I know you miss her and you always will, but I promise it won’t always feel so raw. One day it’ll feel good again to remember those times you shared together, whether they’re great times or completely ordinary ones. Until then just be gentle with yourself, your gran would have wanted it that way. And that part, luckily, will never change.