Dealing with Writer’s Block

Tonks doesn't know what writer's block is, but she thinks that if you're not going to tap on your magic glowing box, you might as well pet her.
Tonks doesn’t know what writer’s block is, but she thinks that if you’re not going to tap on your magic glowing box, you might as well pet her.

 

Ugh. Writer’s block. Out of all the things writers talk about, writer’s block may be the most-discussed topic. Some authors swear up and down that writer’s block doesn’t exist. (Seriously: Google “writer’s block isn’t real” and you’ll get about 2,320,000 results.) Those writers insist that you just need to power through it and keep writing anyway. Sometimes that method works — like when I’m tempted to scroll through Instagram instead of write. But there are days when the words just aren’t coming, and all my ideas seem terrible. People can argue about whether writer’s block is a “real thing” or not, but that doesn’t help me much when I’m stuck.

 

I tend to agree with Ray Bradbury’s idea that writer’s block is caused by writing about the wrong thing.

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Weekend Thoughts / 24

If you're ever at a Torchy's Tacos, get the Trailer Park taco (the one on the left) and get it trashy. You'll thank me later!
Latest obsession: the Trailer Park taco at Torchy’s Tacos. And if you “make it trashy” they put their killer queso on it. SO addictive!

 

How has your week been, friends? I’ve been dealing with some fun writer’s block which I think is mostly gone… for now. *knock on wood* I’m planning on talking about it more next week, cause it happens to everybody, right? And I think it tends to strike more often in the summer, when the warm weather rolls in and my brain suddenly turns off.

 

Speaking of warm weather, it’s officially summer, which means basil, which means PESTO! I made our first batch of Sarah’s Whole Wheat Pasta with Balsamic-Spinach-Basil dressing (which is sort of pesto, except… not really at all, actually). Not only is it delicious, but it makes me nostalgic for last summer, when Teddy and I first moved to Houston when we were first married. A year ago! It’s so crazy that it’s been a whole year!

 

Here are a few of my favorite reads from this week, under the cut:

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2015 Summer To-Do List

Parking Lot Sunset

 

It’s only June 23 and this summer has already been craaaazy. We flew to Chattanooga for a friend’s wedding, celebrated our first anniversary, and next week we’re flying out to California for me to meet Teddy’s grandparents and extended family. Then I’m flying back to Texas while Teddy stays in California for a bit to collect gold and opal. And then we’re moving to a new apartment. Phew, just writing all that out makes me feel tired!

 

Since life has been so bananas lately, I’ve been desperately craving a routine. And while life won’t go back to normal until at least mid-July, Emily’s summer to-do list inspired me to write my own. My serious to-do list is already a mile long, but I want to make sure to remember that it’s summer! And summer means ignoring the to-do list every now and then in favor of eating some ice cream in the sun.

 

Here are some fun things I want to do this summer:

 

  • Make a big Goodwill trip with old clothes and books
  • Set up a little herb garden on our new back porch
  • Make pesto to keep basil from taking over
  • Have friends over for drinks – maybe a weekly or monthly sangria night?
  • Go on a weekend road trip
  • Go swimming
  • Spend as much time as possible on our porch — bonus points for ice cream eating / rosé drinking
  • Drink all the smoothies. All of them
  • Set up a little creative space in the new apartment

Having a Goodwill trip at the top of my list might seem weird, but I always want to purge my closet before I move, and apparently I’m starting early this time around. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all the clutter and I really hate packing. So I think a Goodwill trip before we move will actually be sort of relaxing. Does that sound crazy?

 

What about you? Do you have any fun plans for this summer?

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Weekend Thoughts / 23

Photo taken by April B Photography
Photo taken by April B Photography

 

Today is a big day for Teddy and I — it’s our one year anniversary! It’s been a big, crazy year, and in some ways it feels like we’ve been married for years, and in others it feels like we got married last month. It’s been a huge adventure, and I’m so excited for what the next years hold in store for us!

 

Here are some links from this week — some sad, some happy, some silly. I hope you enjoy them!

 

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Baker Diaries #2

Flatbread

 

Guys, I made flatbread! On a Monday night after work, while we finished packing for our trip to Chattanooga, which is nothing short of miraculous!

 

And it was good, but kind of different than I was expecting. I was expecting a super crispy pizza crust-like texture, but instead it was more like a cracker. I definitely overbaked the first batch, so the second batch was better, but they were still a little dry. I’m not sure if it was a mistake or if they’re supposed to be dry and I should just use more honey next time. (Also, mine were definitely less pretty than Deb’s, so I’m thinking it might be user error on my part. Or maybe the white whole wheat flour threw things off?)  I think I need to make these a few times until I can get a feel for them — I usually make pizza dough or a yeast-bread, so flatbread is new territory for me.

 

But even if the texture was unexpected, the taste was great! I LOVED the combination of honey, sea salt, parmesan, and thyme. Adding just a dash of black pepper made all the flavors brighten up and now I won’t make them without it. (I wish I could take credit for the pepper idea, but that was all Teddy.) The flavor combination felt grown-up and fancy, and I think this will be a great addition to a wine and cheese party (once I get the dough down, of course).

 

Have you guys made flatbread before? This is my first time ever, but it was really fast and easy, so hopefully I’ll be making these a lot over the summer!

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Weekend Thoughts / 22

When "get cupcakes" is on your to-do list, it's a good weekend.
When “get cupcakes” is on your to-do list, it’s a good weekend.

 

Earlier this week I read this quote from Gemma Burgess’ Beauty Uniform interview over on Cup of Jo, and I loved it so much:

 

Sometimes, when I’m really stuck in my head on something I’m writing, I leave the house and stroll around Sephora, trying different things on the back of my hand. I like to think that pondering makeup employs the part of my brain that doesn’t think about work or my children, so those parts can kick back and recharge while the beauty brain wonders, in her silly shallow little way, “But am I feeling an orange lip?” (See? It’s practically meditative!)

 

I really like the idea of having a hobby/ interest that has nothing to do with your work. I love makeup, but lately I’ve been a little lazy — I’ve gotten my 4 product, 5-minute routine down to a science, so maybe I need to start experimenting again?

 

Here are some other cool things I read this week:

 

Writing & Reading:

 

I’m really inspired by Amber’s bullet journaling and dailies. I think this might work a little better for me than my quarterly goals currently are…

 

Style:

 

Isn’t Laura’s 60’s mod look (inspired by Meghan Draper) the coolest? I think A Beautiful Mess’ new Style Muse series sounds really interesting! (It makes me nostalgic for high school, when I was way more into fashion than I am now.)

 

Around the House:

 

How to choose a color story for your home — I need this because I tend to pick random things I like, and then hope they go together. (Spoiler alert: sometimes it works, but sometimes it really, really doesn’t.)

 

Decorating on a budget — so smart, although honestly I usually don’t have the patience to go thrifting. Maybe I should change that?

 

In the Kitchen:

 

I’ve started experimenting with savory baking (and baking with whole grains), and Deb Perelman’s flatbreads with honey, thyme, and sea salt are next on my to-bake list. Yum!

I’ll be out of town for most of next week for a wedding, so things will be pretty quiet around here (although I might pop in with a new Baker Diaries entry on Tuesday — we’ll see!). If you’re interested, you can follow along with me on Instagram — I’m planning on taking way too many pictures while I’m in Chattanooga.

 

I hope you all have a great week! I don’t know about you, but I’m planning on having lots of drinks with college friends! I’ll let you know how that goes!

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Baker Diaries #1

Smitten Kitchen's Whole-Grain Cinnamon Bread

 

I’ve talked about how much I love baking before, but if you’ve ever been in the kitchen with me while I’m baking, you might think that I actually hate it. In my head, baking is relaxing. Just measuring ingredients and mixing them together — always in the right order, and always with the perfect tool.

 

In reality, baking is rarely like that (at least when I’m doing it). I’m notoriously bad at mis en place, and even when I read the recipe beforehand and try to gather all the ingredients and tools I need, odds are I’ll forget something. Then I’ll be checking my next step, and oh *#$%, I was supposed to melt the butter before adding it, and my butter is sitting in the fridge, totally not melted.

 

But I still love it and somehow find it therapeutic — although maybe not when I’m standing on tiptoe trying to find the paddle attachment I forgot I needed to use before the dough hook, and the cabinets are too $%*&@#* tall for me to find anything. I wonder if other bakers swear as much as I do. At least the cat can’t get in trouble at school for using a bad word she learned from me.

 

While I’m definitely not a pastry chef, I do really like baking, and I miss it when I haven’t done it for a while. A month ago we thought I’d have to stop baking entirely, but then we noticed that if I switched to whole-grain pasta and bread (and only ate it occasionally), I still managed to lose weight. (17 pounds so far!) Teddy suggested that since we have bread, fruit, and cheese nights for dinner about once a week, maybe we could make whole-grain bread instead of buying it. (I knew I kept that boy around for a reason.)

 

So I thought it might be fun to write about my bread/ whole-grain baking experiences here. Not necessarily an original recipe (although those might sneak in every once in a while too), but more of a recipe review of sorts. Baking is interesting because something could go wrong at any minute, and while baking flops are always disappointing, I actually like trying to figure out why it flopped. Was it a dumb mistake on my part, or a recipe failure? Or did the oven just decide to hate me and cook the bread unevenly?

 

For my first experiment, I decided to make Smitten Kitchen’s Whole-Grain Cinnamon Bread. And I was really blown away! It’s delicious and doesn’t taste too “healthy,” if you know what I mean. Whole grain flours have really come a long way since I was a kid (or maybe I’m just more accepting of bread with seeds in it now). Here’s what I learned while making this recipe:

 

  • I cut this recipe in half because I only have one loaf pan, which made some of the measurements wonky. Thank goodness I have a kitchen scale! It would have been a total nightmare without one. I even used it to cut an egg in half because the original recipe called for a whole egg for 2 loaves.
  • I used a mix of whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour (which is from a different type of wheat that’s lighter in color and tastes a little more like all-purpose flour). I really liked the mix, but Teddy said that using white whole wheat would make the bread even more decadent, so I think either way would be great.
  • I had to add extra flour while I mixed the dough because it was really wet, and I was afraid that I was going to add too much and make it tough. But I think it turned out great! It was nice to know that I remember what dough should look like, even if I haven’t made it in a while.
  • I had never heard of using egg and water as the binder for swirl bread, but Deb is totally right — it holds the bread together much better than melted butter would. (Plus you don’t have to feel bad about putting some butter on it after you toast it!) But I got nervous that the egg made it too wet, so I wiped some of it off of the dough before I added the cinnamon, which I kind of regretted. I think using the full amount of egg would make the swirl really gooey and delicious. So if you try this recipe, just be aware that the egg might look more wet than melted butter would, but don’t worry, it’ll work just fine.

What do you think of this series idea? Would you try out this recipe? Let me know if you have any recipes you think I should try!

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