June 10, 2020
by Mimi Holtz
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An Interview with Courtney Kilian, Author of Journaling Through Uncertainty

Journaling Through Uncertainty book cover

A Different Kind of Post

If you have ever thought you might want to be a writer, this post is for you.  What makes a writer?  Someone who writes! When life gets chaotic and we need to live each day despite difficult challenges,  journaling can be a way to  preserve our memories and find a pathway to balance during difficult times.  How to begin?  Read on!

Journaling Through Uncertainty

A new book called “Journaling Through Uncertainty” by Courtney Kilian offers a guide to beginning the process of journaling  for those who are just beginning,  or for experienced journalists who need a nudge in a new direction.  The author is a well-qualifed and experienced teacher who brings her broad experience to offer tools for inspiring confidence in uncertainty,  strength in difficulty, and balance for joyful living.
Today I’m sharing an interview with Courtney Kilian, who did what many of us wish to do: wrote a book to share how journaling has made a difference in her life,  and to inspire others to use journaling during difficult times.
Courtney Kilian, author

How did you decide to write this book? 

Courtney: “When quarantines and shelter in place orders first started, I focused on the silver linings that were coming from the Covid-19 pandemic because it was a way of coping for me. I journaled regularly, spilling out my thoughts and letting go of emotional wanderings so they wouldn’t build up. I listed in writing what I was grateful for and practiced mindfulness-based prompts I’d created in the past.

As I wrote and processed and centered myself through writing, I realized I could develop a resource to help others. From my own journaling practice and prompts I’ve created for classes over the years, I developed Journaling Through Uncertainty. It’s a guide for reflection and healing and to help others discover stronger, more resilient versions of themselves during challenging times.

Research has proven the therapeutic health benefits of writing by hand. My wish is to get as many people journaling as I can. Responding in writing to prompts can be cleansing and a perfect way to let go of anxiety and connect to the present moment.”

journals in a basket

  Why is journaling important in your own life?

Courtney: “Here are four reasons why journaling is crucial to me:

1. It’s a way to preserve memories. As a mother, I notice this even more: I’m nostalgic for the moment even in the moment. I want to capture and hold and keep these precious early days, and the most transportive way I know to do that—beyond photo and video—is writing, so that when I turn to a page years from now, I can I fall immediately back into what it actually felt like when my newborn fell asleep on my chest or my toddler raced after beach foam in the sand.
2. Beyond movement—a yoga practice, walking, hiking, gardening, getting my blood flowing—writing is the only way I can really process and let things go. If I’m stressed, as soon as I find a rhythm with words on the page, I’m miraculously better.
journaling on a yoga mat
3. When I write, I develop insights, important connections, and brainstorm new ideas I otherwise would not have thought of. Something magical happens when I write: it feels like the words and thoughts and images come from beyond me and I’m racing to capture an incredible download of inspiration. The process of writing is the process of discovery, and I’m always amazed at how much I learn and create by just being in the moment, handwriting in my journal.
4. As a writer, writing regularly offers a fantastic bonus for me: anything I record can be mined for material in my short stories, books, and posts. When I’m working on a large project, journals are where I start. I read through entries and pull out nuggets that can be used.”
a good pen and a blank journal

   When did you first start journaling?

Courtney: “Storytelling is what I remember most. Before I could write myself, I would dictate stories to my mom so she could record them for me. I loved inventing worlds and characters and writing about them. The summer of third grade, I started a family newspaper where I would record what my family of four did each week. My mom always had a journal with her when we took family vacations. I remember going to pick out a new journal each year for our trips or special memories.

In elementary school, I had one of those huge desk calendars where I would write as small as possibly to fit everything I did into the day into a single square. In middle school, I had yearly planners with ample room to write notes about my day and I wrote stories that I couldn’t keep in mind anymore and had to get onto the page. In high school, I started using journals with no lines—still my favorite because there’s more freedom to write big or tiny or slanted—where I collected what I called ‘snippets’: notes on characters, conversations I found fascinating, stories I’d heard, things that happened to me that felt stranger than fiction, and detailed descriptions of the world around me.

My journaling practice has morphed over the years, and it evolves depending on what I need. In my twenties after some health issues, journaling became more about finding an anchor and releasing things on the page for its therapeutic benefits. Journaling stills serves me as an important creative outlet and place for creativity discover, but it’s also a key component of self-care and healing in my life.”

Tree of Life journal

Who inspired you to use journaling in your life?

Courtney: “My mom has always loved to write and kept a journal with her. Since retirement, my dad has become a journaler of sorts as well. He plays the guitar and writes all of his own music and lyrics—the lyrics are his form of journaling, with each song a way to process the world around him.”

Courtney with her parents and Mimi Avocado

from left: Mimi Avocado, Courtney Kilian and her parents, Charles and Marci Kilian

“A writing teacher once told me, “the difference between the writer and the nonwriter, is that the writer writes it down,”—ie, we all have fascinating thoughts, but a writer thrives on capturing those thoughts, those ideas, those descriptions. This nudge encouraged me to keep writing, to keep collecting, to capture the thoughts and nuggets that I wouldn’t get back if I didn’t put them into written form. And, every time, I open a journal and read from it, I’m so thankful for the things that I wrote down.”

a place to write in a journal

Please describe your journaling process.

Courtney: “I try to wake-up earlier than the rest of my family to start my day with practices that ground me and fill my well, which include a gentle yoga practice, a walk, and journaling. On these mornings, I journal at our dining room table, or when it’s warmer in a lounge chair on our deck watching sunrise.

Somedays this doesn’t happen, but I try to fit journaling in as often as I can. I usually only have a few hours during the day to work on freelance projects and my own creative work, and I bemoaned to a friend that I just don’t have time to write by hand, that it’s too much of a luxury to journal. She suggested that I write in my journal as soon as I sit down to my desk, instead of diving into other projects. It was a beautiful suggestion. I write for five to ten minutes before I start other work. It clears my mind, increases myproductivity, and motivates me. There’s nothing like starting work by doing something for myself, instead of waiting, and then it not happening.”

Courtney's family

Courtney and her family

“On days I can’t write by hand, I write in the notes on my phone to capture any thoughts or moments I don’t want to lose. I also use journaling as an anchor and a coping mechanism. When things are stressful, when my anxiety rises, I make a practice to reach for my journal. Letting things go in writing does wonders for my mindset.

Into my mid-twenties I only recorded the good moments—nothing upsetting, nothing challenging, nothing uncomfortable. And, then I stumbled across a quote—I wish I could give you the quote; I have no idea what book it was in, nor what author expressed the words, but the gist of it was to write down everything, that it’s not life without imperfection, without tears, sadness, pain, anger, depression—that those moments make the good moments shine even greater.

From that moment, I stopped censoring myself. I wrote about hard things. I wrote about darkness. I wrote during a several years depression after a car accident. And, you know what? Almost a decade later, I’m thankful for those notes, those entries, those insights into what it was really like during that time.

We are here to bear witness. No one else can bear witness to your thoughts, your emotional landscape, your life, like you can. I’ve never been sorry that I recorded something, only that I didn’t.”

Courtney and her daughter

Courtney is the mother of Quinn Aloe Holtz, Mimi Avocado’s precious granddaughter

Links:

Kindle E-book (free on Kindle Unlimited for the next few months) http://omandink.com/product/journaling-uncertainty-writing-prompts-cultivate-confidence-strength-balance-kindle-e-book/

Paperback with room to explore prompts directly on its pages: http://omandink.com/product/journaling-uncertainty-writing-prompts-cultivate-confidence-strength-balance-paperback/

Courtney’s website/blog: http://omandink.com/


ewsletter sign-up, for a monthly dose of inspiration with writing and mindfulness practices:
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Courtney’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/om.and.ink/

May 17, 2020
by Mimi Holtz
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Cinnamon Applesauce Baked Donuts with Vanilla Glaze


glazed baked applesauce donuts

New Donut Flavor

I used a pouch of fruit and veggie applesauce to make these glorious donuts.  (scroll down to go straight to the recipe)  Our grandchildren love pouches filled with organic fruit and vegetables. These are from North Coast Organic apple products of Sebastopol, CA.  Recently North Coast sent me an “inspiration box” of their products, including these boxes of  North Coast Organic applesauce pouches.

Applesauce pouches from North Coast Organics

Applesauce Pouches  with Fruits and Veggies

The flavor choices are fun!  My grandchildren love these resealable pouches, especially when they don’t want to stop playing but need a snack.

North Coast Organic applesauce

There is no added sugar or preservatives.  Combinations include blueberry/spinach/kale,   mango/sweet potato/apricot, or pear/blackberry/beet.  Each box has four servings/pouches. Continue Reading →

donut image for pinterest

May 10, 2020
by Mimi Holtz
0 comments

Banana Cinnamon Baked Donuts with Coconut Glaze

 

Banana Cinnamon Baked Donuts with Coconut Glaze

Homemade Baked Donuts

The local donut shops have been closed around here, and I’ve been craving a good old fashioned donut .  A few weeks ago I noticed a photo on Instagram that made my mouth water.  My friend  Dorothy of ShockinglyDelicious had posted a recipe on her blog for Easy Glazed Baked Donuts. 

Before I could make donuts I needed  to order some pans.  I ordered Wilton donut pans and as soon as they came I tried Dorothy’s recipe.  She was right:  those donuts are really easy and really tasty!  I tried out colored sugars and decorative non-pareils to decorate the donuts after they were glazed — so much fun!  And let me tell you, I was the woman of the hour when my family came into the kitchen and discovered those yummy donuts!

Easy Baked Donuts

Mother’s Day Donuts: Banana Cinnamon!

I decided to try a different flavor this morning for Mother’s Day.  I doubled Dorothy’s recipe, added mashed banana instead of half the sour cream, used some brown sugar along with the granulated sugar, and added cinnamon . For the glaze I used coconut extract instead of vanilla.  Easy!  (Scroll down the page if you are in a hurry to find the recipe.)

A Few Tips

The first time I made Dorothy’s donuts, I figured out that I had over-filled the donut pans because there wasn’t really a hole in each donut. Not that it mattered, those donuts were so delicious that  nobody missed the holes!  Today when I made a new batch, I was careful to fill the pans just 3/4 full, and the donuts came out just right.  I must admit that I was happy to see those donuts with proper holes in them.

The donut pans I ordered online are non-stick, so I didn’t need to spray or grease the pans. What could be easier?

donut pan
The glaze can be flavored with any kind of extract you wish.  The first time I used lemon extract.  Today I used coconut because I was making banana cinnamon donuts and coconut goes so well with banana.  I found some pretty sparkly colored sugars in my pantry.   So fun!

banana cinnamon baked donuts recipe

Cool the donuts in the pans for about 5 minutes, then let them finish cooling on the wire rack.  Make sure they’re completely cooled before you dip them into the glaze, and then into the decorations.

Banana Cinnamon Baked Donuts with Coconut Glaze

Easy old fashioned cake donuts you can bake at home in your oven. Dip them in flavored glaze and sparkly sugars or sprinkles!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Course: Quick Bread
Cuisine: American
Servings: 15 donuts

Equipment

  • donut baking pan
  • mixing bowl
  • small bowl for glaze
  • small bowl for decorations

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 ripe banana peeled and mashed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • t teaspoon cinnamon

Coconut Glaze

  • 2 tablepoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • sparkling colored sugars for decoration or sprinkles or non-pareils

Instructions

Donuts:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If not non-stick, spray donut pans with cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and whisk in the sour cream, vanilla, oil, melted butter, sugars, and salt.
  • Stir in the flour, cinnamon, and baking soda until well combined.
  • With a soup spoon, carefully fill the nonstick donut pans with batter. This recipe filled two pans (total 12 donuts) and an additional 3 donuts. Bake for 12-14 minutes. The donuts will be golden brown and the top will be dry and springy.
  • Remove donuts from the oven and let cool in the pans for 5 minutes so that they will release from the pan without tearing. Cool completely on wire racks before glazing.

Glaze:

  • Melt the butter in the microwave oven. Add corn syrup, water, coconut extract, and powdered sugar to the butter and stir well until smooth.

Decorate:

  • When the donuts are cool, dip the tops of the donuts into the glaze and then dip into a bowl of colored sugar or sprinkles. Place on the wire rack until the glaze has set and is dry.

Notes

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Dorothy Reinhold at ShockinglyDelicious.com.  She adated hers from Dana Commandatore at Wakeandbakemama.com, and she adapted hers from a recipe from Thesemisweetsisters.com 

 Everything is Better with Bacon!

I cooked some bacon to go with those donuts.  I do mine in the oven on a cookie sheet – 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.  The Farmer made me a beautiful Latte and our daughter made scrambled eggs. Later our son stopped by with a friend so we shared “socially distanced” donuts and bacon out on the porch.  What fun!

Bacon in the oven

Mother’s Day Art

A special gift for Mother’s Day — a signed Rainbow Butterfly painting  from my two-year-old granddaughter!  Could Mother’s Day be any sweeter?

Mother's Day Art

Pin the Banana Cinnamon Baked Donuts recipe below to your Pinterest Board to save this recipe.

donut image for pinterest

popovers hot from the oven

April 27, 2020
by Mimi Holtz
5 Comments

Popovers!

popovers

On A Quest for Giant Popovers

Do you love popovers as much as I do?  Piping hot from the oven,  crispy on the outside and hollow on the inside…ready to melt the perfect pat of butter.  Large enough to stuff with yummy fillings. Popovers that create tasty memories.  I was craving popovers, so I started reading recipes, trying them out, and serving a new trial to my family every afternoon.  We all became obsessed with achieving the perfect popover.

Recipes and Tips

During the past week  I made popovers almost every day,  trying a  total of seven recipes before we all agreed that we were experiencing the perfect batch of popovers. Continue Reading →

April 19, 2020
by Mimi Holtz
0 comments

How to Peel Garlic Cloves Easily

 

Peeled garlic

The Easy Way to Peel Garlic

I used to try to peel garlic cloves with a paring knife.  It was frustrating and I’d lose much of the garlic.  Today for #NationalGarlic Day  I’m sharing the way to peel garlic cloves without touching them with a knife!  Easy and fun!

Mason Jar with Lid for peeling garlic

You Need a Mason Jar with a Lid

The jar that I use is a plastic one, but you can use a glass Mason jar or any clean empty jar with a lid.  Separate the garlic cloves and place them into the jar. Continue Reading →

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