CupletSuccessI am an imperfect baker.

 

I don’t know what it is about the kitchen, but whenever I step in there to bake or cook, I lose some of my typical behaviors.  Organized? Nope.  Detail-oriented? Nope.  Perfectionist?  No way.

It’s not like I’m lazy about making food in general.  I love food and making food from scratch, at home.  I am constantly dreaming up complicated plans of things to create in the kitchen.  When I’m cooking, my laid-back style is (usually) not a problem.  Soups can handle a little extra spice here and there.  Any dish can handle a few more vegetables than is called for.

Baking though…being a science of its own right, requires some planning and rule following.  If you want a successful outcome at least.

You know what makes a good baker?  Someone who plans ahead.  Someone who ensures they have all the ingredients they need for a recipe.  Someone who carefully measures out the correct amount for each ingredient.  Someone who reads the darn recipe to start with.

So even though I love making food and dream big when it comes to baking, I am not a natural baker.  I’m working on it!  I now (almost always) read the recipe 2 or 3 times before I get started.  (No, reading it once wasn’t enough…you’d be surprised!).  I check my cupboards for all of the ingredients before I start mixing.  I pull out the kitchen scale and the right measuring devices each time. I do not concern myself with how many dishes I am dirtying to follow each step of the recipe as written.

There’s still been some hits and some misses lately.  Pumpkin muffins = success.  (I followed this recipe.  I don’t have a doughnut pan, so I made muffins instead).

My mom’s Cocoa Pink Cuplets = less successful.  The first round turned out super flat and full on tiny holes on the surface.  They tasted fine, so I covered up the visual issues with some butter cream frosting.  I added some additional flour before baking the second round of cupcakes, which fixed the rising problem.

CupletLessThanSuccess

I plan to continue working on my baking skills this fall.  I’ll just keep some frosting on hand to cover those imperfections that arise from time to time.

FallLeavesNow that’s its mid-October, the weather seams to be seriously thinking about turning to fall here in DC-land, which got me thinking about changing up my wardrobe.  Not buying up the new trends, but revisiting my closet and doing a targeted review of what’s in there.

Along the vein of thinking about less, my main goal for this seasonal closet review was to reduce the amount of clothes in my closet.  To achieve this goal, I kept two ideas in mind while sorting through everything:

  1. I will keep only the clothes I need for fall in my closet.  My clothes for other seasons I’ll place into a storage bin that lives in a different closet.
  2. I will only own clothes that I love, that fit me well, and that I actually wear.  If I don’t feel great about myself in an article of clothing, it gets donated or tossed.

My approach to my closet review was inspired not just by the changing season, but also by Project 333.  In Project 333 you choose 33 articles of clothing and wear only those for 3 months.  The rest of your clothing goes into storage.  After 3 months you switch up your wardrobe for the new season.

What I like about Project 333 is that the creator is not pushing the number 33 or even the number 3.  She’s really just asking you to be more mindful about how many clothes you need in your closet to dress well.  It’s this second point that drew me in.

Many people (myself included!) like shopping and finding new clothes to wear.  Sometimes we buy things for the wrong reasons though.  Maybe they don’t fit exactly right – but oh so close to being right.  Maybe the style isn’t quite me, but it’s a version of me I want to be. Maybe I just feel like I need to buy something.  Buying for these reasons is not being mindful about your wardrobe.
Everything in your closet should be something that you love and that fits you well.  You deserve to feel great about yourself in your  clothing.  All of your clothing.  Any clothes that give you a negative feeling are not worth holding onto.

The Process

As I mentioned before, this was a targeted review of my closet, so I did not take everything out and reorganize my closet and dresser completely.  For more details on doing a full review of your wardrobe, see my tips on getting started here.

Here’s how I approached my closet refresher:

Summer clothes

  1. From your closet, pull out all items that don’t fit the fall weather: summer dresses and skirts, bathing suits, light weight tanks and shirts, summer workout clothes and pajamas.  If you wore these items this past summer, they go into storage.  If you didn’t wear them, put them in a donate pile or the trash if they’re worn out or stained.
  2. From your closet, pull out any articles you’re unsure of – anything you don’t love anymore, are not sure how it fits, or have negative feelings about.  None of us have the time to feel bad about something hanging in our closets.  If you’re unsure how something fits, try it on and decide whether or not it’s worth keeping.  If you are still hesitant about any item in this pile, put aside in a box for 1 month or more.  If after that time you haven’t looked for it or thought of it, let it go for real.
  3. From storage, take out any items you’ll wear in the next couple of months.  I took out some sweaters and heavier workout clothes as well as some light scarves and hats I knitted. Most of my other fall clothes were already in my (pretty full) closet.  I’ll do another closet review in mid-December when (maybe) winter has arrived.  Then I’ll take out any additional sweaters or winter gear I need for the new season.

The End Result

This was a good first effort on my part to clear some space in my closet.  I did a large, full scale review of all of my clothes this past spring where I gave up a lot of items I had been holding onto for years for some unknown reason.  In this closet review, although it was more targeted, I still found a number of items that I was keeping for the wrong reasons.

My Fall Closet - improved, but not yet complete.

My Fall Closet – improved, but not yet complete.

This time around I was able to let those items go and place them in my donate pile.  My closet is still pretty full and although I wasn’t aiming to hit anywhere near the 33 item limit like in Project 333, I still see a lot of room for improvement in the number of items I keep in my wardrobe rotation.  I’m doing very well on the “love everything in your closet” guideline but I’m doing less well in the seasonal items only area.  Hopefully once fall fully settles in I’ll be ready to pack away a few more of those summer and spring tops and share an update of my even emptier closet with you!

 

Previously I shared my go to granola recipe with you.  That recipe is great if you are thinking ahead because it makes a whole bunch all at once.  However, sometimes you don’t really think far enough ahead and sometimes, you just need some more variety in your breakfast life.  Am I right?

Enter muesli.museli-prepared  It’s just as fast as boxed cereal, but is made with whole grains and nothing you can’t pronounce.  Some people call them overnight oats.  I sometimes thing of it as cold oatmeal (but I swear, a delicious form of cold oatmeal).  Traditionally, you mix muesli up the night before you want to eat it and let it soak overnight in the fridge.  Recently I’ve been mixing it up first thing in the morning and eating it at the office about three hours later.  I have also mixed it together, microwaved it for 2 minutes and called it oatmeal.  All variations are delicious.

Today I’ll share both the short, quick version of my muesli method and a longer version that makes 4-5 servings at once.  This second version has all of the options and variations I’ve tried. You could call these both recipes, but I actually think of them more as formulas, allowing you lots and lots of customization for your tastes.

The Basic Recipe

In a jar, bowl or large mug combine:

museli-ingredients

  1. 40 g (1/2 cup) rolled oats  *pro tip: using a kitchen scale means no additional dishes to do!*
  2. Dash cinnamon or baking spice. *or pumpkin spice because that is all the internet is talking about right now.
  3. 40 g (~1/3 cup) frozen berries
  4. 1 tsp of maple syrup or honey *if you are adding fruit, I think the extra sweetener is unnecessary.  if I am going to microwave the oats, I will add the syrup or honey though.
  5. 1/2 cup milk of your choosing *using whole milk here is amazing. it tastes totally decadent

Wait a few hours or even overnight, then enjoy!

 

The Full Recipe – makes 4-5 servings.

  1. Decide on a number of servings to make. As written, this makes 4-5 servings.  Feel free to double, triple, or halve the recipe as you see fit.
  2. Choose a container with a lid.  For 4-5 servings, I use a quart mason jar for storing the dry muesli.
  3. Combine the following in your storage container:
    1. Rolled Oats
      1. 2 cups if you won’t be including many nuts (or eat a lot :) )
      2. 1 cup if you will be adding a lot of nuts or dried fruit
    2. Spices
      1. 1 tsp. cinnamon
      2. 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
      3. 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
    3. Seeds or Nuts – add up to 1/2 c.
      1. sunflower seeds
      2. sesame seeds
      3. coarsely chopped raw, unsalted nuts
    4. Additional Add-Ins – 1 or 2 is sufficient and always optional
      1. 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
      2. 1/4 c. ground flax meal
      3. 1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
      4. 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    5. Dried Fruit – a good option if you don’t have any fresh or frozen fruit
      1. 1/4 c. dried cherries (my favorite)
      2. 1/4 c. raisins (traditional add-in, also a way to add sweetness)
      3. 1/4 c. chopped dates or figs (will be trying this fall!)
  4. When (almost) ready to eat, combine:
    1. 2/3-3/4 c. dry museli mixture
    2. 1/3-1/2 c. fresh or frozen fruit
      1. Whole blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
      2. Peaches or nectarines slices
      3. Grated apple (the most traditional add-in)
    3. 1 tsp. Optional Sweetener
      1. Maple Syrup
      2. Honey
      3. Vanilla extract
    4. 1/2 c. milk of your choice
  5. Wait at least 2 hours before eating to allow the oats to soften. If short on time, microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy your oatmeal!