Easy-Peasy Sticky Buns

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and wanted to try it. So I included the ingredients in my Walmart Grocery order (*hint* place your order after midnight to grab a time slot during this time of social distancing). There was just one problem…I ordered the wrong frozen product. I got yeast rolls instead of cinnamon rolls…and my pudding was substituted for instant. So I did what I could and hacked it with what I had. Turns out it was pretty yummy!

Materials:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 package Rhodes Frozen Yeast Rolls
  • 1/4 tbs Cinnamon
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick salted butter
Procedure: 1. Grease the bottom of your baking dish by rubbing it with your butter stick. 2. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan.3. Place frozen rolls in pan, they should touch (I added another row after the picture was taken).

4. Sprinkle with pudding mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Slice the remaining butter into pats and place around your pan.

5. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm dry spot, and wait 3-5 hours. Yes, hours. Your frozen dough will defrost and begin to rise.

6. Preheat over to 350 and take plastic wrap off your pan. See how the dough is bigger?

7. When oven is ready, bake for 15-20 minutes. Careful that your sugar does not start to burn. Take out and let pan cool. 8. When cooled, place a tray or baking sheet over the top and flip your pan onto the tray. 9. Scrap remaining bits out of pan and sprinkle on top of buns. 10. Enjoy! Thoughts for next time…Add more nutsMake a simple syrup with brown sugar mix to make it stickier…maybe use lemon or orange juice…

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Do Nothing Day

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.” – Christopher Robin

Today is Saturday, but it is a different Saturday. Today is a Do Nothing Day…leave the teleworking and the homeschooling behind. Okay, so technically January 16th is Nothing Day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it today. Don’t plan on being productive today. Just plan on being…you may find that by slowing down and doing nothing that you actually discover something. Of course, doing nothing doesn’t mean just sitting in silence like a mystical monk on top of the mountain somewhere. But it also doesn’t mean that what you are doing has to be for purposes of anything other than you enjoy it and can relax.

According to a study conducted in 2014 by the American Psychological Association (APA), 77% of the people surveyed reported regularly feeling stressed. An almost equal percentage of 73% reported experiencing psychological symptoms caused by stress. Half of those responding reported experiencing a negative impact to their personal and professional lives. The cost to employers for stress related health care or missed work is over $300 billion (American Institute of Stress, 2016). Stress is an epidemic plaguing many Americans. It can affect their relationships, their work, and their health. However, through making small “c” type creative endeavors part of their daily routine, an individual can see a positive return on their emotional well-being that can lead not only to a lessening of stress levels, but also prevention.

When we are stressed, the body goes into protection mode. Our blood pressure rises, heart beats faster, and our senses become more alert. According to Abbott (1998), “our hormones can also rise the levels of fat, sugar, and cholesterol in the bloodstream” (para. 5). When we are stressed, it can affect our mood and interactions with other people such as being short-tempered and irritable. It can also lead to sleep disturbances, constant colds, and in some extreme cases: death. Overall, being in a constant state of stress is unhealthy for us physically as well as emotionally.

According to Runco (2014), “[c]reativity can help the individual maintain both psychological and physical health” (pg. 110). While many creatives face a stigma of the “mad genius” where the creative is believed to be so immersed in creative work to the point that they let their mental and physical health suffer, that example has more to do with manic type states and does not actually categorize every creative. Actually, creativity can help to alleviate stress and build a more positive mood. Nicol and Long found that music hobbyists with low levels of stress were among the group that had the highest amount of creativity (Runco, 2014). Creative endeavors are one way to cope with the buildup of emotions that need to be let loose.

Maslow (1971) also describes a need for creativity as being part of his Hierarchy of Needs. Creativity is part of the highest tier of the pyramid because creativity is part of what is needed for the individual to reach that stage of Self-Actualization. Artist and author, Julia Cameron (2002) refers to this as “discovering a sense of perspective”. She recounts the story of a woman named Sarah who was described by many to be high-strung, crazy, and nervous. This woman went from therapist to therapist, treatment to treatment. It wasn’t until she began to use creativity tools as part of her daily routine that she began to find balance in her life.

A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who do small creative projects report feeling happier and more relaxed (Lewis, 2016). According to the study, “[i]ntervention designs are still relatively rare in creative research […], but research suggests that art-making interventions can reduce stress and anxiety” (Conner, DeYoung, & Silvia, 2016, pg. 2). In fact, the study found that the effects of small creative endeavors, small “c” tasks, could induce states of “flourishing”, as described by CsikszenItmihalyi theory of flow states. These states were recorded as lasting longer, up to a day longer, than the time the participant invested into the activity. If emotions can have an effect on levels of creativity (Runco, 2014), then it makes sense that the inverse is also true where engaging in creative endeavors can have a similar effect on emotions resulting in a more positive mood and therefore reducing stress levels.

Stress Reduction Strategies

One suggestion on how to beat stress is to play music; however, music alone is not enough to beat stress. Researchers from the Stanford School of Medicine found that when played in conjunction with stress-reduction techniques, stress levels dropped for the participants in their study. They found that upbeat music was also the best selection to play during the activity (Harrar, 1999). A study of the relation of knitting towards stress reduction stated that many people choose hobbies as a way to reduce stress because these types of activities can provide a distraction from the stressor and also provide the individual with a feeling of control in the situation (Utsch, 2007). While avoiding a problem is not healthy, immersing the self into an activity like knitting can induce a feeling of concentration that allows for a more mindful and present sense of being. There may also be connections to Csikszentmilhalyi’s concept of flow and Torrance’s studies of Japanese satori (Runco, 2014). Similarly to knitting, baking is another small creative activity that can provide focus and control (Lewis, 2016). 

Journaling and creative writing are another method for relieving stress and contributing to positive mood building. Building on the work of Maslow’s self-actualization, researchers have found that if an individual participated in positive-writing, this was followed by an increase in mood and well-being. The study also found that writing created an outlet for solving problems and working through difficult experiences. In addition to affecting mood, there was also a documented increase in immune function as well (Lowe, 2006). As was mentioned in the work of Lowe (2007), positive-writing can increase mood and well-being. However, it is also important to record moments of triumph or success. Dr. Stacy Shaw Welch, Director of the Anxiety and Stress Reduction Center of Seattle recommends keeping a folder of past successes and referring to that folder when struggling or feeling anxious about a current project. By doing this, it can lay waste to the internal squelchers that distract us from believing that we are capable of accomplishing our goals (Weiner, 2007). According to Runco (2014), it is important to not only stimulate a good mood, but also to know why one is in a good mood. Therefore, it is important to keep notes or some type of journaling for reflection purposes as well as being able to analyze what task or routine was being completed that lead to the good mood.

Runco (2014) also suggests as creative tools the idea of shifting the perspective of a problem so you can see it from another angle or turning it upside down. The benefits of looking at something from a new angle is that it can inspire renewed interest in the problem which can generate new ideas and it also can change the perspective enough that new ideas will be generated because things will no longer be looked at as obstacles. A major way of changing your perspective may be leaving the problem entirely, taking a break and trying something new or even traveling. Runco (2014) states that traveling produces excitement as it can be stimulating. This change in mood can facilitate creativity as well as help people to be more grounded. They may even produce those aha moments because the individual is no longer so focused on the thing that was stressing them that they are finally able to think clearly.

So how will you spend your day? Will you pack it full of to-do lists? Or will you take a moment to savor the opportunity to find balance and center your being?

References

Abbott, I. O. (1998). Practical strategies for reducing stress. Practical Lawyer, 44(8), 63-74. Retrieved from http://www.library.drexel.edu/cgi-bin/r.cgi/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/274310495?accountid=10559 .

American Institute of Stress. (2016). Daily life. Retrieved from www.stress,org/daily-life .

Conner, T.S., DeYoung, C.G., & Silvia, P.J. (2016). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing. In The Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049

Cameron, J. (2002). Walking in this world: the practical art of creativity. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam.

Harrar, S. (1999). Got pain? Got the blues? Try the music cure. Prevention, 51, 100-105+. Retrieved from http://www.library.drexel.edu/cgi-bin/r.cgi/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/212668450?accountid=10559 .

Lewis, D. (2016 November 29). Feeling Down? Scientists say cooking and baking could help you feel better. In Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/feeling-down-scientists-say-cooking-andbaking-may-help-you-feel-better-180961223/ .

Lowe, G. (2006). Health-related effects of creative and expressive writing. Health Education, 106(1), 60-70. Retrieved from http://www.library.drexel.edu/cgi-bin/r.cgi/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/214706253?accountid=10559 .

Maslow, A.H. (1971). The further reaches of human nature. New York, NY: Penguin Compass.

Runco, M.A. (2014). Creativity. Theories and themes: research, development, and practice (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Utsch, H. (2007). Knitting and stress reduction (Order No. 3250730). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (304742173). Retrieved from http://www.library.drexel.edu/cgi-bin/r.cgi/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/304742173?accountid=10559

Weiner, L. (2007). Yes, you’re stressed…but what are you doing about it? Shape, 26, 138-146. Retrieved from http://www.library.drexel.edu/cgi-bin/r.cgi/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/195288526?accountid=10559 .

Finding My Way Back On Track

If you were to only look at my site stats for November, you would see that I am having one of the best months ever…but I haven’t posted anything since the beginning of October. Most of my traffic is coming from recipe pins on Pinterest which makes sense since this is the type of weather where you just want to curl up with a bowl of soup or stew. In other words, it is Instant Pot weather and I have a lot of recipes for that. So why haven’t I posted anything? Well, it comes down to motivation and I have had a decided lack of it lately.Read More »

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

I am the only person in my house that likes Black Bean Soup. So when I make it, I don’t want a huge pot since I will be sick of it before I can finish it. Every recipe I find seems to call for dried beans and makes way too much. I wanted to see if I could make a simpler batch.

On Sunday, I made myself a small batch that portioned out perfectly for lunches during the week. Honestly, I did not plan on making this ahead of time. It was more looking in the pantry to see what I had and what I could make. I typically keep canned beans on hand and had the tomatoes and chilies just in case. Everything (except the dried cilantro) came from Aldi, so it was a cheap meal that has saved me the cost of lunches for a whole week. Win!

I will caution that I like spicy food. This has quite a kick to it. So if you follow the recipe exactly, be advised. I also did not account for the saltiness of the chips. Different brands might have different levels of salt. This is not exactly a dump soup recipe. Be aware that the same ingredients were added in stages in some places. However, it took under 30 minutes to make. It gave me enough for six servings. Plus everything came from my pantry!

My son even tried it, but it was too spicy for his tastes. You could leave out the chilies and just use tomatoes if you wanted something a little milder.

Materials:

Instant Pot 6qt Duo

Ingredients:

  • 3 12oz cans Black Beans
  • 1 10oz can Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dried Minced Onion
  • 1 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Salsa
  • 2 tbsp Dried Cilantro
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Tortilla Chips (optional)
  • Lime Juice (optional)

Procedure:

  1. In the Instant Pot, dump chicken broth, tomatoes and green chilies, all dry seasoning except for 1 tbsp dried cilantro, and 2 of the cans of black beans together. Set on Soup for 10 minutes.
  2. When soup is done, carefully release the vent on your Instant Pot. There will be a lot of steam, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  3. Take your immersion blender and carefully blend your ingredients together. Again, be careful! This is very hot. Don’t burn yourself!
  4. Add your salsa and the last can of beans. Stir. I like the texture this adds. Also add that last tbsp of dried cilantro. I love cilantro, so the more the better for me.
  5. Serve your soup with crushed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. You could also add a squirt of lime juice if you have it. Enjoy!

Just a Little Sunday Morning Jewelry DIY

It is a bit dreary out today, but I love it because, except for the wind blowing in the trees, all is quiet. So I got out a stash of jewelry supplies I have picked up with coupons recently at Michael’s. You can typically always find a coupon using the phone app for Michael’s and, if you share your email, they will even send you bonus coupons to your inbox.

These items came from two separate trips which meant I got to use a 25% whole purchase coupon as well as a 50% on one item coupon. They are a mix of semi-precious stones and glass stones with the most expensive item being that 14k gold chain for the dark blue stone. Honestly, my pictures here are not doing the stones justice.

Most of these pendants also came from the clearance section of the store. I always check out that section for great deals. Sometimes I mix and match during that same shopping trip of items from clearance matched with items on sale or at regular price (I always use coupons!). As soon as I saw the chain with the small brown beads in the clearance section, I knew I wanted to pair it with an owl pendant. They had the perfect one on sale in another section. I have two more semi-precious stones that I didn’t have chains for, but they were only $2 each so I couldn’t pass them up. Into my stash they went. For all four necklaces, the cost came to about $30. That is less than $10 a necklace!

I love the Bead Gallery collection even though the tags don’t identify what the stones are other than semi-precious. Honestly, I don’t really care if the stones are real. I only care that they are pretty. The blue semi-precious stone with the gold is a nice addition to my collection as I tend toward silver pieces, so I am trying to open up my accessories a little to include gold. I love that Amethyst (that one did have a identifying tag since it from a different collection, so I know the stone). I paid full price, well discounted with a coupon, but it is so pretty how it fades to a brownish purple color. The sea glass stone is also such a pretty blue green color. That owl pendant is such a fun piece. It reminds me of the owl from the original Clash of the Titans movie.

I have a whole stash of loose gems and semi-precious stones that I inherited from my father. He used to order stones from overseas with the plan of one day turning them into jewelry. My mother found a box last month and gave them to me. She is convinced there is more in the house. So I might get another box if she finds it. My goal for this summer it to learn how to set them so I can turn them into pendants like the ones pictured.

I also love taking apart thrift store jewelry and repurposing it for something new. I highly recommend if you want to update your accessory collection, check out thrift stores and craft stores!