Rules of engagement

It’s been like a roller coaster around here. I’d say striving for balance is a good goal for anyone, but it certainly takes up most of my days. It’s trying to go from a huge to do list and lots of motivation to huge to do list and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed. And while Luka is a pretty darn cute companion, he's not a great conversationalist (nor can it be expected of anyone who constantly snatches garbage out of the garbage can for snacking). I can go much of the day without exchanging more than a stern “no!” with anyone. 

Such is the life of a writer, I suppose. I picked up a book recently (I’m a total sucker for bookstores. If ever you’re trying to get me to buy something on impulse, put it in a bookstore and I’m all yours). It’s all about the daily rituals of famous writers, tinkerers, scientists, thinkers and doers. I thought perhaps I could be inspired into a bit of a routine by following in a well-known formula of the greats. The only problem is: they’re all over the place. Simone de Beauvoir had lunch with her intellectual (and bedroom) sparring partner, Jean Paul Sartre, every day, while WH Auden rose at six and started his day with the crossword. It looks as though I’ll just have to settle into my own patterns. Currently my daily rhythm involves a good breakfast, granola more often than not, a run or walk around Greenlake, and a daily to do list, some or none of which I make it through by evening. 

I've learned a few things this week about working for (and by) yourself; here is a sampling of just a few of them:

Rules for being self-employed/independently artistic/entrepreneurial/start-up-y/etc/:

Every day is a prototype. If you don’t like how today went, do it differently tomorrow.

Set an alarm (you’re not on permanent vacation - you can still get plenty of sleep, just set an alarm).

Get dressed (even if you answer emails and eat breakfast in your pajamas, no one feels good or productive spending the whole day in sweatpants). 

Leave the house. Try to schedule a meeting a day. Go to a coffee shop. Meet a friend for a walk. In fact, while you're at it: 

Exercise every day. Every. Day. There's really no excuse and nothing will make you feel more productive.

Don’t work all the time. It’s ok to just relax, too.

Say yes. To anything and everything. You never know what might fall in your lap.

 

After not cooking much for week, yesterday I holed up in my house and made four different things; I just cooked and ate all day. I have a lot to tell you about now and I also just feel better in general. I haven’t made my own granola in a while, though a homemade batch is far superior (and way cheaper) than buying it out in the world. Try it. It doesn’t take a ton of time and is hard to mess up. Maybe this recipe will soon become the anchor of your daily routine, too.

Coconut Honey Almond Granola

Whenever I search for granola in the grocery store, the second ingredient is almost always sugar. I like mine not too sweet, ready to be loaded up with fresh fruit or sweetened naturally by the raisins or apricots. I use honey instead of sugar and just enough coconut oil to get it to crisp.

Ingredients*:

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts, roughly chopped (I use almonds mostly, and some hazelnuts)
1 cup large coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (I threw in some chopped apricots for a little tang)

1. Preheat oven to 300

2. On a baking sheet add chopped nuts, coconut flakes, and salt. These quantities are estimates - you can adjust to your liking. Usually I try to use enough nuts and flakes to almost cover the pan.(You can add seeds, too, if you like! Sunflower seed would be a nice addition.) I then add enough oats to completely cover the layer of nuts below. 

3. Heat oil and honey in a bowl in the microwave (tip: if you use the measuring cup to portion out the oil first, when you pour the honey in it will slip right out of the measurer into your bowl).

4. Pour oil/honey mixture over the entire pan and toss to coat evenly. 

5. Spread mixture out evenly on baking sheet and put into the hot oven.

6. Cook 35-40 minutes, pulling out the pan every 10-15 minutes to toss the mixture for even browning.

7. Allow to cool and stir in the raisins (or dried fruit). Store in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks. 

*This recipe can be easily doubled to make two pans at once. 

Check out my (first!) Steller story of this granola here.