Mental Roadblock

It doesn’t happen often, but every couple of years there’s a time period when I’m sick of knitting, sick of writing, not interested in dyeing or sketching, just…bleah.  I don’t know what to do with myself!  Been rereading favorite books, been hanging out in the back yard daydreaming about nothing much, going for walks and making lists of stuff to take on vacation, but it feels like it’s time for a new hobby or project, and I don’t know what.  Sewed a shirt last week and it didn’t motivate me to do any more sewing.  Got tons of sketching materials but no idea of what to sketch!

Because of previous “new hobby” experiences, where we invested a lot in supplies, tools, etc., and then got bored after a few months, I made a new rule a few years ago that none of us may start any new hobbies that require a huge cash outlay or a huge setup space.  I also won’t permit a restarting of any old hobbies where we owned the stuff and then sold it.  So, no weaving, no glassworking, no jewelry, no papermaking, bookbinding, hat making, candlemaking, soapmaking.  (We’re still using up soaps we made when living in Virginia, and we moved away from there in 2003!)  My knitting machine is broken, and while photography still makes me happy, my daily options are somewhat limited since the Young Master needs supervision while he completes his schooling.

Got any suggestions?  Initial outlay for supplies has to be under $100.  Give me a poke if you think of something.  Chris is talking about buying a dye sub printer, but first of all the cost is too high, and second of all, it appears the process is not what he was expecting it to be.

Trail Mix and Candy Snacks

It’s a tough life when you’re trying to maintain a carb-free, or even a low-carb, diet.  There are times when you need the crunch of something, or times when a bit of chocolate would completely satisfy!  Eating Swiss cheese during a movie is just not the same as popcorn.  But my trail mix is pretty good.

Donna’s Trail Mix

1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

1/2 cup Spanish Redskin peanuts

1/2 cup smoked almonds

a handful of golden raisins

1/2 cup cacao nibs

1/4 cup walnuts (only because I don’t like walnuts much, but Chris does)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

a handful of Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips.  If you can find chips with a higher cocoa percentage, that would be even better (see recipe revision below).

If you like pecans or other nuts, they can be added, though we added pumpkin seeds once and it was hideous.  The main thing is to keep the sugar to a minimum.  No honey peanuts, no M&Ms.

Mix it all up and eat it as desired.

Unfortunately Chris and I were snagging a handful every time we walked past the bowl, which is pretty low-carb, but high in calories!  So I amended the recipe to make individual candies, and now we allow ourselves just one per day, each:

Make a double batch of trail mix as above, leaving out the chocolate chips.  You may want to keep the raisins to one handful instead of a double handful, if you’re being stern about the diet.  Or leave them out entirely.

In a large Pyrex, place the whole bag of Ghirardelli chips plus two Ghirardelli 100% cocoa baking bars (broken up).  (These are 10 ounces each.  Any brand will do, but this is all they have at Safeway.)

With a mug of water next to the Pyrex to act as a heat sink, microwave the chocolate in 3-minute bursts until it is all melted, stirring in between each burst.  It usually takes our microwave three bursts to get to this point.  I always dump out the boiling water in the mug and change to cold water for the second and third bursts.

Dump in all the trail mix and stir until everything is coated in chocolate.

Scoop out onto waxed paper in cookie-sized clumps.  I have been using a flat spoon both to stir the mix into the chocolate and to scoop it onto the waxed paper, but it’s awkward, and the next time I will probably either use an ice cream scoop or dole out the mixture into mini muffin pans.

Allow to cool.  Store in the fridge in a sealed container.

If anyone does know of chocolate chips with more than 60% cocoa, please let me know.  Those Ghirardelli ones are the darkest chocolate chips I’ve been able to find around here.