10 Things I Learned in February 2017

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It’s been a while since I wrote a “10 Things I Learned” post. Life has been full lately, so I’ve had less capacity to blog. But here we are!

This habit of writing down what I’m learning helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. “10 Things I Learned” are some of my favorite posts to write. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month.

1. I love baking bread with wild yeast.

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For several months I’ve been maintaining a sourdough starter, and using it to make all sorts of bread. This is the method used before packaged yeast was created. The rhythm of feeding the starter (which I named “Nasty Woman”) with new flour and water to keep the yeast active has become a part of my daily routine. And now our kitchen is often filled with the scent of rising dough, freshly baked sourdough, and crusty baguettes.

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2. If you’re ready to do a deep dive into self-awareness, explore your Enneagram type.

The Enneagram is a tool that helps you identify your personality within a spectrum of 9 different personality types. I began learning about the Enneagram several years ago, and it has given me so much insight into who I am, what motivates me, and how to continue growing.

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I’ve read several books on the Enneagram, and recommend The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson, and The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Susanne Stabile (they also have a podcast!). For those who are curious, I am a type 1 (the Reformer) with a 2 wing.

3. Spotify is amazing.

We just started using Spotify, and YOU GUYS, GAME CHANGER. But you all probably know this because I’m pretty late to the discovery. I love that I have access to so many digital albums and songs, without the hassle of having to actually own and store them. I thank Spotify for all the hours I get to listen to Hamilton on loop and create Disney playlists for my kids.

4. My favorite weekly ritual is our family’s “Golden Fork and Spoon Night.”

Once a week, one person in our family gets to use the special golden utensils at dinner. During that meal, the rest of the family shares all the things we appreciate and love about that one person. It is a way to celebrate and affirm each person, and create space for gratitude as a family.

5. I get excited about packing.

This makes sense given I am an Enneagram 1 as mentioned above. Creating lists and order are comforting. But now I love packing even more since discovering eBags.

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I received the eBags Weekender Convertible, an awesome carry-on travel backpack, as a Christmas present. Later I purchased the packing cubes and toiletry case. I’m a huge fan of the well-designed eBags products.

6. I am rich in friendship.

Several recent occasions reminded me of this. Steve and I took a trip to Los Angeles, where we had the pleasure of reconnecting with many friends from our 15+ years of living there. We’ve also hosted a few gatherings in our home in the last few weeks. These experiences were brief snapshots of the many lifelong friendships I’ve been given, and I am so grateful.

7. Parenting three kids makes my life a lot more fun.

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I love how much fun my kids add to my life. Because of them, my days involve more play, imagination, and humor.

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8. Lagunitas Brewing Company is churning out some of my current favorite beers.

Try their IPA, Undercover Investigation Shut Down, or Brown Sugga.’ Mmmm.

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9. Storytelling is a powerful way to increase empathy and compassion.

Have you watched a movie or read a story that invites you into a human experience other than your own? If you allow yourself to enter into the story without judgement, you begin to understand the perspective of other people. I watched a recent episode of This Is Us (so good!) that showed a major character experiencing an anxiety attack. It was heartbreaking, and deepened my compassion for people who deal with this level of anxiety.

Our world is filled with an ocean of human experience. Let’s all resist the temptation to remain in our own bubbles, and listen to stories of people who are different than us. Listen to the people with whom you cross paths. Read books from authors who have a different background than you. Watch films that shine light on topics that may make you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ll grow.

10. If I could, I’d wear a flannel shirt and jogger pants all the livelong day.

Steve Jobs was known for wearing black turtleneck and jeans every day. Maybe my flannel shirt and jogger pants uniform will increase my visionary leadership and innovation. Or maybe it’ll decrease all my productivity altogether.

6 Cooking Tools I Use Daily

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Like most home cooks, my kitchen is full of gadgets, tools, and appliances. Some items are used for special occasions, but others are used on a daily basis. Here are the items in our kitchen that get the most use. They are our workhorses in our kitchen, and the tools that really lay the foundation for all of our family’s cooking.

41okb6os7jlLodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven (buy it here on Amazon)

This cast iron dutch oven gets a lot of use in our house. It can do so many things – braised and seared meats, stews and soups, perfectly baked sourdough bread, baked casseroles. We’ve even taken it on camping trips. I’ve owned my dutch oven for about 6 years, and plan to pass it on to my kids as a family heirloom. This thing will definitely live longer than me.

71cagmgumnl-_sl1500_Cuisinart 12-Piece Knife Set (buy it here on Amazon)

We actually own two knife sets – this Cuisinart 12-piece set, and a full Cutco set that I’ve had since selling Cutco knives as a summer job during college. I like this set because they are good, solid stainless steel knives. They come with blade guards, and comfortable handles.

81e685wuucl-_sx425_Pyrex Mixing Bowls (buy it here on Amazon)

These glass mixing bowls are great for mixing or storing anything from salads to cake batter. They are really sturdy, and we’ve own ours since getting married over 10 years ago.

81bo7tjzyll-_sl1500_Silicone Pot Holders (buy it here on Amazon)

These were given to me as a gift a few years ago, and I did not expect to use them so frequently. They can be used as pot holders, trivets, can openers, and spoon rests. Also, they are super easy to clean.

71piuvb9-dl-_sl1067_Digital Kitchen Scale (buy it here on Amazon)

This kitchen scale is so useful. It is great for measuring food by weight, which is important if you’re following recipes that call for ingredients in grams or ounces. The scale is very precise, has a tare function (so you can automatically subtract the weight of your container), and has a unit button that converts to various weight measurements.

61qv9tsgqil-_sl1500_OXO Good Grips Tongs (buy it here on Amazon)

You need yourself a good pair of tongs. This version is great because it is a long 12-inches, and has silicone heads that are safe for non-stick cookware.

What are some of your favorite cooking tools that you use on a regular basis?

Pastelitos de Guayaba (Cuban Guava & Cheese Pastries)

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If you happen to be lucky enough to find yourself in a Cuban bakery, chances are high that it will have Pastelitos de Guayaba, pastries filled with cream cheese and guava.

I was first introduced to these amazing pastries while living in Los Angeles, California. Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in LA is famous for many items on their sandwich and bakery menu – Cubano and Pan Con Lechon sandwiches, potato balls, tres leches cakes. One item on their bakery menu that they are particularly known for is their flaky puff pastry filled with guava and cream cheese.

After moving to Oahu, Hawaii, I sadly had to say goodbye to my beloved Porto’s. It never occurred to me to attempt making my own guava and cheese pastries until one day my aunt gave me several bars of guava paste. A lightbulb went on in my head, and homemade guava cheese rolls were next on my list of “Food to Make.”

These pastries are really easy to make, as long as you can get your hands on guava paste. Other than that, you need puff pastry, cream cheese, and an egg. So there you go. Make these at home yourself, and thank me later.

Pastelitos de Guayaba (Cuban guava & cheese pastries)

Print this recipe
Yield: 6 pastries

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 package puff pastry sheets
  • 1 bar guava paste
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • White granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and milk.

On a lightly floured surface, unfold one of the pastry sheets, and cut into 6 squares. Then cut each square in half, so that you now have 12 rectangles. Transfer the rectangles to the lined baking sheet. Cut the guava paste into 6 equal portions and spoon onto 6 of the pastry rectangles. Top with the cream cheese. Brush the pastry edges with some of the egg wash. Top each of the filled and brushed pastries with the remaining pastry rectangles. Crimp the edges with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm.

Brush the pastries with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, until the pastries are golden. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.