Monday, December 28, 2015

Korean BBQ Pulled Jackfruit


Last week was a crazy, busy week for me. I had to work Christmas Eve as it was my normal day to work, and then I had to work an extra 8 hours on Christmas Day as it was one of my two holidays a year to work. My husband also had to work so we decided it would be best if we waited to celebrate the holiday until the following weekend. Considering that I'm avoiding using my credit cards as well, this gives me time to pick up all the little things for the kids (I already purchased their big-ticket items) to round out their gifts. On top of that, the magazine I write for has given me a bigger column to write the last few months and my latest editorial was also due last week. Needless to say, last week couldn't wrap up fast enough.

Saturday night was my only day off, and I really really needed to go to the grocery store. As a vegan, I usually have to go to a couple of different ones to get the various items I need, but I've really been wanting to try BBQ jackfruit. I've looked for it but haven't found it, so I figured I'd try my luck at the big Asian market I've been meaning to go to for so long. Honestly, I don't know why I haven't made it there sooner. I loved that place! I came home with all kinds of great goodies, including the jackfruit. So then, Saturday night I made BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwiches (Korean-style) with homemade slaw and a side of dill pickle chips (yum yum). Here's how I did it., it's easy!



Korean BBQ Pulled Jackfruit

2 cans of jackfruit, drained and patted dry
2 T paprika
1 T granulated garlic and granulated onion
2 T soy sauce
1 T sugar
oil for frying
Korean BBQ sauce

1. Put the jackfruit in a bowl. Add the dry spices and soy sauce. Mix well.
2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. I used about 4 tablespoons of coconut oil.
3. Lightly fry the jackfruit pieces on each side.
4. Add one cup of the bbq sauce.
5. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.
6. Take the jackfruit off the heat and dump back into the mixing bowl. 
7. Shred using two forks and add back to the frying pan.
8. Add another 1/2 c - 1 c bbq sauce and simmer over medium heat until cooked through.
9. Put on a bun and top with slaw and extra bbq sauce if desired.



Easy Slaw Recipe

1 c cabbage, sliced very thin
1 c shredded carrots
2 heaping tablespoons vegan mayo
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T sugar
1 t poppy seeds

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the mayo, vinegar, sugar, and poppy seeds.
2. Add the cabbage and carrots and toss to coat.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Winter Wonderland


Where I live, it's been at least five years since we've had a proper winter. What I mean by that is that we have had pretty mild weather, for the most part, and barely any snow. A few weeks back I made a post about the morning we started to get some snow. Well you know what? That snow was melted and gone before I even left for work that day.

This morning, our daughter woke us up with an excited, "Look outside!" as she opened the bedroom shades and thus unleashed a brightness that can only come from snowfall. Sure enough, outside I was greeted with the view you see in the picture. We finally, truly, have snow! This is exciting because Christmas never seems like Christmas without snow, and, as I'm a Swede, today is our Christmas.

We aren't celebrating until next weekend as we have to work all through this one. We'll make it extra special for the kids, and sometimes celebrating Christmas a different week from everyone else seems less hectic. 

I've been really busy the past week and so haven't spent much time writing or keeping up with my social media stuff. I'm glad that I finally have some breathing room from all of my busy work, and can spend some time today focusing on the thing I love to do most. I'm in the mood for a good breakfast too, so I'm going to whip up some vegan waffles and sausages while drinking a nice, hot cup of coffee.

Have a fantastic day, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, God Yul, and Happy Holidays!

-H.A.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ipsy's December Glam Bag

Oh my gosh you guys, I've been so busy the past several days that I haven't done much of anything regarding my author stuff. Between working and getting out for some birthday shindigs a few times, I just haven't had time. So, today I'm finally getting myself back into the swing of things, and I have a new(er) computer! 

As many of you already know, I started a subscription to Ipsy a few months ago, getting my first glam bag in October. The October and the November bags arrived right on the 14th of the month, so when my December bag didn't arrive on the 14th I was a bit bummed. Not deterred though, I patiently waited for the mailman to show up the next day. And the next. And the next. Finally, when it hadn't arrived on Thursday I got worried and emailed the company. They emailed me right away and sent me a link to track my package, which I did, and it finally arrived on Friday. I was relieved that the house the next street over didn't get my glam bag!



The bag and it's contents!



This is an eyebrow tool. One end is a gel applicator brush and the other end is the bristle brush.



This is a 100% vegan lipstick made by Pacifica. The color of the box is the color of the lipstick.



This is an exfoliating cleanser by Befine. It's made with brown sugar, sweet almond, and oats. It smells great and I can't wait to use it. 



This is Clark's Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask for the face. It's regular-size costs $72 online so yay for me!



This is a sample-sized bottle of fingernail polish by Formula X. It's a gold color and I like it. 



So there you have it! December's Glam bag. Show me what you got in the comments!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Station - An Update



So, my latest book "The Station" got a new review recently, and it joins the rank of other good reviews. 

"Great paranormal thriller. I loved the small town and forest setting, it made the “thriller” part more thrilling. I could place myself in those woods and feel my own heart race as the main character searched for the ghost in the dark forest. Scary."

It's good to see how much people are liking this book. I felt in my heart that I had really improved from the first, then to the second, and then to this, my third book. I've grown and improved as a writer and a storyteller, and it shows. If you haven't picked up your ebook copy yet, please get it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017QICT6G . It's only $2.99 for purchase! Not too shabby for an awesome paranormal thriller.

I'm hard at work on my 4th book as well as a few short stories that I am looking to submitting to a magazine and an anthology. I will reveal the cover next month sometime along with a teaser for my 4th book, so stay tuned down the road!

Have a great weekend, and if you need some good reading on these chilly days....


-H.A.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tough Decisions





Recently, I talked about the importance of making good decisions (if you didn't read it, click here). As a mother, daughter, friend, and co-worker, among other things, I'm faced with making choices daily. I'd like to think that I've improved upon my decision-making skills over the years, but I'm only human. I know that while I make plenty of good decisions, I still crank out a few bad ones here and there.

I've had to make a lot of decisions this year, more than I feel I normally have, but I also understand that it's a result of growing older. The biggest thing I've had to deal with lately in the Decision Department is that while I know a decision I've made is the best possible one, it's still an incredibly tough decision. It's a dilemma that can truly just suck. Some decisions, no matter how wise, will fill us with dread, heartache, and sadness. I've spent more than my fair share of time shedding tears.

I guess it's natural, really, to deal with this dilemma. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm only human, and so is everyone else. Just because things are good for us doesn't mean it doesn't have a downside. Maybe it's the universal idea that for every positive there is a negative, and where there is light there is also dark. It seems that this would be so.

The upside is that the tough part of making good-for-us decisions only lasts a short time while the positive things that stem from it will be long-lasting. It's a comfort in a time of darkness to understand these two things. It helps us get through hard times while we weather the storm and wait for the end result.

I've seen several people lately, that I care deeply about, also struggle with the dread that comes with the beginning of a good decision. I remind them of the same things I remind myself often, and then lend my support. They, in turn, do the same for me. So, the next time you have to make a tough decision but don't want to follow through because of the initial sadness, anger, or various other emotions, just remember: The first step is always the hardest.

Have a great day friends.

-H.A.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Teriyaki Noodles with Fried Tofu


The other day, I was absolutely craving teriyaki. I don't know why I was craving teriyaki in particular, because I rarely ever have teriyaki, but I really wanted some. While I sat at work that evening, I formulated a plan to make some teriyaki noodles when I got home. I decided to add some veggies and some crispy tofu pieces...and, let me tell you, I was so not disappointed! Here's how I did it:



For the teriyaki sauce:

2 t. minced garlic
2 t. minced ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. corn starch
1/4 c. brown sugar 
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. water

Whisk the cornstarch and the water together and set aside. Put all the other ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble up slightly. Add the cornstarch-water mixture and whisk into the sauce. Once it begins to boil, turn it down to medium-low heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking


For the rest:

2 handfuls of angel hair pasta (or spaghetti noodles), broken in half
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 pkg of tofu, pressed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. cornstarch
2 medium carrots, grated
4 T. coconut oil (or any oil you like to fry with)


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain, cover, and set aside.
2. Put the pressed, cut tofu pieces in a bowl. Add the cornstarch and mix well to coat.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat until ripples start to form. Turn the heat down to medium-high and add the tofu pieces. Fry until golden (about 3-5 minutes) and then turn over on the other side and do the same.
4. Take the fried tofu bites out of the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
5. Add the mushrooms and carrots to the oil and fry, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender.
6. Add the veggies and the tofu to the noodles. Cover with the teriyaki sauce and stir well to coat.


Notes:

This recipe is quite versatile and you could add whatever kind of veggies and protein that you prefer. I would recommend topping this with some sliced green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Delicious!





Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cunningham Lake

Between uncooperative weather and working long graveyard shifts, I haven't been able to get outside as much lately as I would like. If you've learned anything about me by now, it would surely be that I adore being outside, surrounded by nature. Yesterday was a warm day for winter (around 60 degrees F), so when the kids got home from school I rushed them out to Cunningham Lake, just north of town, before the sun set.

We had a nice walk, found a trail out there we didn't know existed, and got some great photographs as the sun made it's way down the horizon. More importantly, I got to reset my batteries...something that nature provides me and that I feel is very important. It's nice to be able to step away from our daily hustle 'n bustle to just take in nature and breathe deeply.























This last photograph was taken in the same light as the last one, but I used my flash and it made the background black, giving it the appearance of being nighttime. I thought that was pretty cool.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like....


...Christmas! We (well mostly the kids) decorated the house for Christmas. I had to go to work so my teenager took charge of the decorating while delegating some of the work to my younger child. It's the one chore those two do that actually puts a smile on their faces. I couldn't help but be happy as well, because when my kids are happy I am happy.

I remember that child-like excitement for Christmas and how it felt like it would never arrive. As I got older (before I had kids) I never decorated and didn't really ever get into the 'spirit'. The holidays were more of a somber time for me. I think the holiday season can be stressful for adults--who are trying to make everything perfect--and as a result, it never seems to be as much fun for the grown folks.

Even after my children were born I can remember traveling to family gatherings that just ended with watching loved ones be stressed and sensitive. Combine this with being in close proximity to a larger number of people and you have hurt feelings and many upset people. It was for this reason that I started doing my own little family tradition. Instead of traveling to visit family, I choose to stay in my own home and make my own traditions.

As a result, I now love Christmas. It's the perfect time to spend time with my favorite people, my kids, while indulging them in some of their most wanted items. I cook yummy food, set out great snacks, and we watch movies like "A Christmas Story" while stuffing our faces and enjoying our gifts.

As we enter into another holiday season, remember what the holidays should really be about: spending time with the ones you love. Don't get stressed out trying to make everything perfect. Your kids, and others who love you, will be perfectly happy with your presence.

-H.A.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Friends



In life, there are few things more frustrating or rewarding as our relationships with other people. Whether it be with our parents, siblings, extended family, co-workers, children, or friends, our relationships with these people can have a big impact on our lives. Some relationships are more important than others, but without a doubt, friends rank up there as some of the most important.

Friends give us a life and a perspective outside of our family units. When we weathering storms on the home front, friends can be a lifeboat ready to take us to safety. Even if it's just for a short period of time, that safety can reground us, and help us significantly reevaluate, relax, and remove stress. In short, they're on our team and sometimes we need cheerleaders.

I know that all-too-often, I can get wrapped up in my work- and my family-life that I sequester myself for long periods. During these times I don't see my friends when I really need to. My life has been a bit of storm this year, for several reasons, and I should have sought the refuge of my friends more than I have.

As I've started to come out from the eye of the storm, I've realized that I really do need my friends, and to that end, I have started actively spending more time in their company. Last month I made a point of getting out more, and it did wonders for my mood and well-being.

 This last weekend was an absolutely fun and wonderful time hanging out with my friends. I can't believe I waited so long to do it. I got to really relax, remove myself from my sequestering, have some much-needed, long-awaited, conversations, and I got to gain some good perspectives from different viewpoints. I got to visit with some acquaintances and catch some live music as well.

Tonight, I am going to see another friend who had a baby a few months back and doesn't get out much. We're going to make homemade pizzas with the kids, relax, and have a good talk over wine. It's overdue, and I'm looking forward to it.

I had a quick chat with a dear friend this morning who remarked that after our night out this weekend, that she was in a great mood the next day. I agreed that I certainly was too. It put a big smile on my face and lifted me back up all over again. Don't underestimate the importance of good friends. They are someone to walk with on a difficult path...you don't have to go alone.

Yours,

H.A.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Six Words



I've been seeing this around the internet frequently over the last few days, and it got me thinking. What would my six words be if I could go back in time and dispense wise words to my younger self? I think I would say something like, "Don't be hasty, you have time" or "Make important decisions with utmost care". Both choices imply that I put a definite emphasis on decision-making, and that is definitely the truth.

I always told myself, when my children were small, that I would feel like a success at parenting if I raised children who could make good decisions. Why? If you can make careful, well-thought-out decisions, you're going to do fine in life. In fact, you'll probably do more than fine, you'll do great. I know I won't have to worry so much when my children go out into their world on their own if I know they are good decision makers.

Decision-making can be one of our hardest skills to master, yet it's one of the most important. I know from experience. I wish I could go back in time and re-do a lot of the stupid decisions I made. It sure would have made my life easier and more fruitful. It also would have spared me from all the grief that comes from making poor decisions.

Many positive things naturally flow from making good decisions. Sitting on decisions about major purchases can stop ourselves from spending money we don't have, thereby saving us from financial problems in other areas. We find ourselves making more sound financial decisions after that and thinking more about our financial futures. If we protect ourselves in passionate moments, we can spare ourselves from unwanted pregnancies, or worse, STDs. Deciding not to take that hike out in a treacherous area without letting someone know where you're going or when you expect to be back can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

Those are just a couple of examples, but I think you know what I'm trying to convey. The importance of a good decision can be life-changing, enlightening, and lead to good habits. It's also a cornerstone to building a good future and keeping your whits about you when the going gets tough, or when times are lean. Although I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that, I have tried hard over the last several years to make better decisions. I don't always succeed, but when I do, I take pride in that. It's a journey, not a race.

Be well my friends.

-H.A.