Posts Tagged: overcoming

Scones, and other scary foods

cranscone2Recipes 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.

My Facebook addiction

Christmas Tree Pass Hike 061

Don’t get me wrong, addiction is no joke. I have dear friends and relatives who have suffered with/through/around addiction and I know the heartache and struggles addiction brings with it. If you have or know someone with an addiction, get help! Start with a simple google search, like I did for this post, on “overcoming addiction” and go from there.

The rest of this post is not intended to be quite as heavy as life threatening addictions can be – it’s more a self-lament and, hopefully, step toward freedom.

I am a Facebook addict. Really. Checking Facebook is one of the first things I do in the morning and last things I do before bed at night. When I’m bored I’m most likely to grab my phone and tap that app, that beautiful, giant blue F. But I hate it, generally. I really do.

Everyone has an opinion about everything, but  more and more frequently those “opinions” are no more than a bashing of the opposition. That’s not helpful, nor does it further any sort of intelligent discourse. Then there are the cute dog videos and kitty pictures – I’ve been guilty of posting my share, plus a few of my adorable bearded dragons – these are mind-numbingly redundant; likewise baby pictures. I understand you’re newest bundle of joy just simultaneously turned 268 days old and spit up a Picasso-esque clot of pureed vegetables, but  we saw the same picture three times last week. Oh dear, the reposts, the political angst, the stupid memes!

I’m trapped, though. I am a co-conspirator to all things evil in social media and I hate myself every time I log in. So, it’s time that I figure my way out of it. Of course I started with some research about addiction.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is, in short, “an inability to consistently abstain” from a given substance, behavior, or activity. And by that definition, I am, indeed, a Facebook addict. I have gone so far as to delete the Facebook app from my phone, only to find myself logging in over Safari. In case you’re shaking your head, it’s okay. I am, too. I found some helpful information, though, when I searched the term “overcoming addiction.”

The top 10 google results included a few Christian-based advice sites, an article in Psychology Today, advice from Dr. Phil, and even a 13 Step wikiHow article. There was even a link to advice for beating your addiction to pornography… I chose not to click on that one. I’m no prude, but I’d rather not have that come up on my list of visited sites if the NSA ever takes an interest in my internet activities.

I’ll jump into the variety of advice with Dr. Phil. He’s a big advocate of self-assessment when it comes to addiction. One helpful question I found on his list was “What are you using your addiction to avoid?” Well that’s a loaded question, now isn’t it? My guess is most addicts aren’t prepared to answer such a question without a little coaxing. In turn, you may see my analysis of the question as a direct avoidance of answering it. And you would be correct. The truth? When I sit down and scroll through post after post of Facebook fluff, I’m avoiding my writing. I have some hangups about my writing and Facebook lets me ignore them. It also gives me a place to write silly little blurbs about some of the things that I really give a damn about, AKA the things that I should be turning into blog posts or articles or books. So yeah, it’s a place to hide from my fears.

There, I said it. And the Psychology Today article “Overcoming Addiction” reinforced that point for me when it advised that “the awareness of the relationship between addiction and symptoms of … anxiety is essential.” The more anxious I get the more likely I am to partake in my addicting behavior? Well now that’s a pattern I’ve seen before.

One of the more interesting revelations I had during my research was a kinship with the advice of Joyce Meyer on the Christian Post site: “True freedom is knowing who we are in Christ and that we are valuable because Jesus died for us.” Without delving too deeply into religious territory, I’ll rewrite that statement the way it sounded in my head – “True freedom is knowing who we are and that we are valuable.” To be brief, I am too much of a skeptic to be a good Christian (or any other structured religion) believer. Here’s the kicker for me: toward the end of the article this statement appeared, “Don’t try to do anything without praying.” I know prayer gives a lot of people strength and direction, but I’ve never found that, so I’m not a subscriber. Plus, I happen to believe that as I grow and improve as a person I am capable of what I put my mind to. Which is not to say I have any issue with those who are fervent believers. I like the gist of that quote, though. Having a deep understanding of ourselves and an equally deep trust that we each have our own intrinsic value is unquestionably important. Also, I’m pleased to know I appreciate good advice no matter whether I agree with its context.

Of course, there were some repeating themes, like, “the hardest part is deciding to change,” or “admitting you have a problem is the first step. ” True, but not very helpful in a practical way. wikiHow had some good advice in it’s 13 Steps. For example, “brainstorm a list of all the negative side effects” and “make a list of positive changes.” I like those. They’re good action items (for those of you in the corporate world, or up on the Top Ten Hippest Business Buzzwords).

One reassuring finding is that addiction has a genetic link. So when I claim to have an addictive personality, the Harvard Health article on overcoming addiction supports me in my belief. Why is that reassuring? Because what I’ve seen over and over again in my own family is this: addictive behavior isn’t the problem, truly. The problem lies in what you become addicted to and how that choice affects your life. There are far worse things to be addicted to than Facebook, to be sure, but I’d prefer to be addicted to my writing. That’s an especially helpful perspective to have since another recurring theme was finding other activities to replace or distract from the addiction you’re trying to break. I like the idea that the end result of my replacement behavior is the creation of new, never seen before material. Whether it’s good or bad is beside the point. To have spent my time in the research and then creation of a piece of written work that slakes my curiosity should prove to broaden me as a person. And that, ultimately, is what I’m looking for – to learn about life and my unique place in it. Is there any better reason to break an addiction than that?