"Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don't have." -unknown
This is my week to post an update to The Gratitude Diaries virtual book club, if you are following along. Are you? Have you finished reading it? I have a confession to make. I have my hands in so many things right now, I am going chapter by chapter in a very slow fashion. The one constant in my Gratitude Diaries journey is keeping my gratitude journal. Every night, like clock work, give or take a day here and there, I am listing 3-5 things I am thankful for. I look so forward to looking back over the day to capture those moments, too. It has become a little treasure for me personally. What about you? I have also managed to show more appreciation for people in my life, my immediate family as well as perfect strangers and everyone in between. I am much more aware of wanting to do that even and how important it is to express the appreciation and gratitude. But before I Dive into this week's chapter, "the No-Complainig zone," I need to go off track for a moment.
This past weekend I was developing a recipe I imagined for the blog. The vision was in my head, I knew how I wanted it executed and visualized how yummy it was going to be and how beautiful, too. Well guess what? It was beautiful and it was a total fail. So I have no new recipe to post for this blog. It's not a total loss because twice last week I had Roasted radishes cross my path. Roasted radishes? I know, right? But when the universe sent them my way not once, but twice, I thought I'd better give them a try. And you'll never believe it but they are really yummy and quite pretty. So this week's virtual Book club entry is coming with a bonus mini recipe for roasted radishes. Here's the quick version: get a couple bunches of radishes, stem them and remove the little root end (wash them of course). Halve them from stem to root. Pat dry. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F. Toss the halved radishes in a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil , sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 15-2o minutes until just tender. I used two bunches and it served three of us, so use that as rough guide for servings. My daughter, my husband and I all really enjoyed them. I will definitely make them again. See? so pretty!
Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled blog post! Up until now in the Gratitude Diaries, the gratitude and appreciation topics have rung a clear, true bell for me. I have understood and recognized the merits of practicing them, with actually committing to the practice being my short-coming, off and on. But the no-complain zone, now that struck a different chord. I make an effort to generally be positive in work and "public" settings , but I have been known to whine and complain more than even I'd like to admit to on the home front. The thing is, it is really quite commonplace to complain and use it as a bonding practice (talk about the weather lately... or anything else we have no control over changing?I thought so). As Kaplan says in the book, "the get it off your chest approach has many adherents, but what you say has an effect on how you feel. Announce too often that you are miserable and you begin to feel that you really are." Why would we do that to ourselves?!!
My goal in life is to feel good, so that means some behavior modification is in order. As Kaplan goes on to say " my attitude of gratitude has to hold in all condition. " Yup, that's my goal- rose colored glasses and a positive attitude. I know what you are saying, but what if what I am talking about is true? Well as I heard Esther Hicks say in an episode of Abraham-Hicks , that's a poor excuse! Speak it as you'd wish it to be, I will tell myself! So the call is to find the good in everything, the silver lining in the cloud, the lemonade from the lemons. It's really just a shift in perspective. I can do this! And the incentive is that this gratitude is going to result in higher sense of well-being.
Dr Seligman a renowned professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania was quoted in the book as saying ,"of all the positive strengths we've looked at, people who are highest in gratitude are also highest in well-being." That's a worthy goal in my book. He went on to say how gratitude journals, letter and visits all help reinforce the benefits. I have written such letter from everyone to an elementary school teacher of mine, to an author whose work really touched me and several others. I can't report how my letters made them feel, but I can say the gratitude and connection to something else that I felt was definitely enhanced. Perhaps it is time to look for more letters to send and more gratitude to express and zero complaining.
Several years ago at a church I was attending at the time, the pastor talked about not complaining. Her suggestion was to wear a bracelet , like those silicone bracelets that were so popular several years back, and when you catch yourself complaining, you move the bracelet from one wrist to the other back and forth it goes as long as you are complaining. In fact I believe it came from the book A complaint Free World by Rev. Will Bowen. The bracelets are still available here, if that's something you may be interested in. Another time I heard the idea of wearing a rubber band around the wrist and snapping it on yourself every time you complained. It could be helpful to have a physical reminder like either of those to help me break the habit of complaining. What's working for you? I have been practicing the no complaining since this past weekend, after finishing the chapter. This may turn out to be an idea I investigate further, but in my short time of practicing no complaining, I have noticed it is much more empowering to turn a complaint around and acknowledge the good. As Kaplan states at the end of this chapter, "I felt liberated to understand that it wasn't events that made me happy but how I chose to frame them." I challenge you to join me on the no-complain train this week. Let me know how it goes for you! Sharing our experiences and ideas is what makes them richer for all of us. Join me on facebook or Instagram or right here and let me know how your gratitude Diary journey is coming along. In the meantime, roast some radishes! ♥
"Come with me, and we'll see if a cupcake can make the world a better place to be." -Unknown
It's almost Valentine's Day, and for my that means chocolate (well, just between us, that's my MO on any given day actually). And what could be better than a cream-filled chocolate glazed cupcake? Hand-held happiness right there!
Growing up, my aunt and uncle owned a little neighborhood corner store. Besides penny candy they also carried the whole line of Hostess goodies. In my opinion, the only one worth the time to unwrap was the two pack of hostess cupcakes, one for me , and well, the other one for um, me. We saw them several times a year and could eat our fill of all kinds of awful-ly wonderful stuff. But the Hostess cupcakes took the cake (pun intended).
Inevitably I grew up and evolved, taste buds included, and the packaged, highly processed delights of my childhood no longer delighted me (with the exception of an occasional vanilla Pop-Tart* and M&M's*, but I digress)., but the memory certainly did. Mock Hostess* cupcakes to the rescue. There are several steps, but don't be intimidated. They are all easy, can be broken down, made ahead and assembled later. Printable PDF of recipe below. Fill your hearts with love and your tummies with treats this Valentine's Day!
Mock Hostess Cupcakes- makes approximately 2 dozen
Prepared and cooled Chocolate cupcakes (the best recipe is here)
Marshmallow Cream Filling (recipe below)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe below)
specialty equipment needed - Wilton Bismark Piping Tip
Marshmallow Cream Filling:
3 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon cold water
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin, such as Knox
4 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste OR seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cups marshmallow cream
(adapted from Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard)
6 ounces good quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
small pinch instant espresso powder
1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup such as Karo (not high fructose corn syrup)
1. Put water into a medium sized, microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly on top. Let sit 5 minutes to soften. Microwave mixture on high for 30-60 seconds, JUST until gelatin is melted and small bubbles appear at the edge. Remove.
2. Whisk in butter, salt and vanilla bean paste until smooth. This is a little messy but trust it will come together because it will.
3. Whisk in marshmallow cream. Again, it will come together. Patience and care. Cover mixture with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (can be made up to 3 days ahead at this point, cover and refrigerate until needed).
4. Meanwhile prepare chocolate glaze: In a medium sauce pan, combine cream, espresso powder and corn syrup, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate just until submerged in cream, cover and set aside for 3 minutes.
5. Remove cover and whisk glaze until smooth; set aside. (can be made up to 3 days ahead, cover and refrigerate. To use, gently reheat in microwave on half power at 30 second intervals, until smooth and fluid).
6. Insert tip into piping bag. Fill bag half-way with cold marshmallow cream mixture. Poking a hole through the bottom of the cupcake, pipe filling, applying pressure to the bag while simultaneously pulling it steadily back out as you pipe, finally releasing pressure right before removing tip,until you feel cupcake get slightly heavier. Do not over-fill or cupcake will pop open. This may take a few to get the hang of it, but you'll master it in no time!
7. Once all cupcakes are filled, dip the tops into chocolate glaze, twisting back and forth a couple of times to make sure it's well coated. As you remove the cupcake from the glaze, holding the cupcake close to the surface of the glaze, give it a little shake to allow excess to drip off. This is a gently motion. Immediately tip cupcake right side up and shower it gently with sprinkles of your choice.Repeat until all cupcakes are finished. Alternately, while glaze is still wet, you can pipe a design with melted white chocolate on top instead, more closely mimicking the whole Hostess thing.
Happy Valentine's Day to you, lovely reader. May your day be sweet and delicious! ♥
NOTE: Cupcakes are best eaten fresh, but may be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
* Hostess, Pop-Tarts and M&M's are registered trademarks and not affiliated with this recipe at all.