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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mistakes



Admitting mistakes and managing expectations...

If I could un-do the first three months of 2016 and probably the last couple of 2015 - or even erase them completely, I absolutely would.  However, if I've learned anything about change recently it's that whatever was done can usually be un-done.

Back in September/October of 2015 - I made a number of decisions that I thought would greatly enhance my "quality" of life.  These decisions were fairly well-thought-out in my mind, although may have appeared impulsive to those around me.  I'm not the best at explaining myself - especially on things I've been thinking about internally for quite sometime.  Things that seem rational, intentional, and purposeful internally - externally present at the drop of a hat because I haven't told anyone what I'm doing.  The biggest one - my decision to move.  This along with a number of other smaller changes I made all at once over the course of a month or two.

I moved on November 30th, 2015.  By the second day, I was painfully aware of my mistake.  I thought it was just moving day nerves/anxiety.  I unpacked as quickly as possible, thinking once all my stuff was in place, I would start to feel better.  If anything, it just made my anxiety worse.

I hated everything about that apartment and I couldn't explain it.  I couldn't sleep in there, I couldn't work in there, I didn't like the noises, the darkness, the space.  I would sit in my car in the evening after I got home at night, sometimes for an hour or more just because I didn't want to go inside.

I decided I couldn't risk staying in an environment where I felt so unhappy, where I had to struggle every day to stay in the light.  It wasn't good for me and I needed to feel in control of the situation especially if I had the opportunity to change it.

But how do you explain that?  How do you explain that mistake to your family and friends?

Well, I didn't.  I just told everyone I was moving back.  Then I was really unhappy that no one was being very supportive and that everyone was questioning me.

Lessons in managing expectations: I've been listening to the Jess Lively podcast since about August of 2015 - she's amazing and you need to check it out!  I don't listen to them in any particular order but recently I listened to #108 (conscious uncoupling) where they discussed managing expectations when you're delivering news (good or bad).  It made me reflect on my most recent experience with this - my moving news (other many professional applications as well).  The theory isn't necessarily about explaining yourself (which is hard for me), it's about setting the stage for what you need after you give the news.

For example - instead of me just blurting out, "hey I'm moving back." and waiting for all the Why?s and other questions which eventually just upset me more.  I could have started out by saying "I'm in a stressful situation and I really need your support on this first and foremost.  I'm planning to move back - can you support my decision?"  By directly asking for support, it can help limit the negative why questions and will hopefully start the conversation out with "yes, I support your decision - what's our next step..."

If only I had noticed that podcast sooner!!  By not managing expectations (mine and others) when I shared my somewhat sudden news, I turned a negative situation into an even more stressful one (mostly for me).  It did eventually all smooth over, but could have gone better.

I moved back April 1, 2016.  And I'm a little nervous to type this into black and white... but things have NEVER been better.  It's shockingly weird.  I understand many things align to create good v bad days / good moods / that high on life feeling... but things are back to where they should be.

Some people would power through, make the best of the situation, whatever you want to call it... it's settling.  You have to trust your soul, your gut, your intuition to know when things just aren't right and believe when you need to fix it.  Life is way too short to be unhappy.

Also, I hated wordpress.  I'm back on blogger as of Sunday.  Someone got in my head about giving up on this blog so I'm here, I'm writing again.

-Justine

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Moving!

LilyBitDifferent is moving and I'm moving… 

So much change is happening in my life, I can barely begin to describe it.

The blog first.  I could bore you with how I've been neglecting LBD for the last two years… yes it's been TWO full years since I've been posting regularly.  And don't think I haven't been thinking about it every day.  I have, and I'm fully aware (no need to guilt trip me).  Well no more!  LBD is heading towards bigger and better things -- and by that I mean the big old move to WORDPRESS. 

This is scary for me - I've been researching it for the last couple months and I'm ready to make the plunge.  I think I've figured it out - at least past the part of losing everything (maybe).  So please bare (bear?) with me as I transition… The new lilybitdifferent.com will launch in January of 2016 in full force.  You won't have to do anything different, the site will just look all new and fancy.  Or maybe it won't -- maybe it will disappear!  Hopefully everything will transition smoothly.  It may come and go in the next couple months as I work through the bugs.  But I am VERY very Very excited about this. 

Here's a little preview:


New branding strategy, new mission, new concentration… just cleaning things up a bit.  Still everything gluten free, still me… It's just been two years -- new year new you right?? 

New me… So I'm moving.  I'm soooooo over Omaha.  Omaha's been great for the last five years.  Wow, FIVE years.  I blew threw a lot of jobs in that first three years, learned what I loved in a job, met so many great people, built deep true "grown-up" friendships, not to sound cliche but I "found myself" in a way - grew up as much as I could through board service, volunteering, mentoring, new hobbies, arts, cultures, big city life, and on and on.  

Now I have the job I felt I was always destined to find - the one that uses every last ounce of my talents, that challenges me every day to be better than I was yesterday - true Job Love.  And to truly do my job to the best of my abilities, I'm better off in Lincoln.  I'm packing up my millions of books and cookbooks (it's really all I have packed right now) and heading back - closer to home. 

Change is good, right? 

-Justine



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

Good Morning!  

I know it's been awhile but here's a recipe post (finally) as I still get things figured out for the new year on Lily Bit Different.


I used my favorite Red Velvet Cake recipe as posted here… with a few tweaks.  I actually think this recipe works better as cupcakes!

Red Velvet (cup)Cakes:

In a regular sized bowl - sift and combine:
3 1/2 cups of Domata Flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together with an electric mixer:
12 tablespoons (room temp) butter
2 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of vegetable oil

Then to the large bowl…
3 (room temp) eggs (add in one at a time)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (or more) of red food coloring
*be very careful adding the food coloring, it will splashing and stain!!

Slowly add the flour mixture to the large bowl a little at a time along with 1 1/2 cups (room temp) buttermilk.  A little flour mixture, a little buttermilk, mix… until you have it all incorporated.  This batter is VERY thick and sticky.  You may have to give up on the mixer if you're using a hand mixer and just combine the rest with a spoon.

Using a scoop or spoon, put the batter into lined cupcake pans.  I ended up with almost 36 cupcakes from this recipe.  I think it was actually 35. 

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Use the knife test for doneness.  If it comes out clean, you're good to go.

Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a rack.

Once COMPLETELY COOL… you can add any type of frosting you like.  I usually use 7 minute frosting as I did in my previous cake post, but sometimes it's a bit temperamental and it makes a huge mess (maybe that's just me!).  I decided to try something new yesterday :)


Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream until it's just about to medium peaks… the mixer will leave significant tracks in the cream but not quite at the stiff peak stage.

add in one 8 ounce container of (room temp) Mascarpone cheese

Mix until throughly incorporated but do not over mix (you'll end up with mascarpone butter!).

Frost the cupcakes!  

I used a piping bag but you can certainly just use a spatula as well.

This frosting is amazing!  I thought it would fall the way whipped cream does after about 30 minutes, but there's something magical in the mascarpone that keeps it very stable and beautiful!  It's the lightest, fluffiest frosting I've ever eaten.  It's also not overly sweet - it's perfect for red velvet cake!

*because of the frosting, I would keep these in the fridge!
**Also the frosting only covered about 24 of the cupcakes, so I put the other 12 (unfrosted) cupcakes into a ziplock bag and into the freezer.  I've always been impressed how well this recipe freezes!



I hope you enjoy these!  I made these yesterday and then shared them with friends and coworkers, in a conscious effort not to eat them all myself!  

You definitely want to make these for valentine's day!! :)

-Justine




Monday, September 29, 2014

Apple Carrot Pecan Bread


You'll want to save this recipe!  It might be my new favorite fall recipe… the pecans are the best part, honestly!  Don't forget them!

Ingredient List:
1 1/4 cups Domata Flour*
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cardamon
3/4 cup chopped roasted pecans**
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
vanilla 
orange zest to taste***
3 green apples, shredded
5-6 (large) baby carrots, shredded

In your largest mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together including the pecans.  Then set aside.  In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, then add in the rest of the wet ingredients. 

When preparing the apples, seed and core them - but I chose to leave the peel on (this is optional) - then run the slices over a large-holed cheese grater to shred the apple.  Take the pile of shredded apple and squeeze out most of the juice… and there will be juice every where!  Add the shredded apple to the wet ingredients.  Then shred and add the carrots, it was possibly half a cup of carrots. 

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.  If the batter is too dry, just add a little more vegetable oil, a teaspoon at a time.  But it really should be just right because of the apples. 

Prepare a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  350 if your loaf pan is dark metal, and 325 degrees if you're using a glass loaf pan. 

Add the batter (it will be very very thick!) to the pan, smooth out the top lightly.

Bake for 60 minutes, then check for doneness.  A knife in the middle should come out clean, but you also don't want to over bake it!

Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack. 

This bread is wonderful plain but you could certainly serve it with an orange glaze or just some powdered sugar sprinkled on top.



Notes::
You could leave the carrots out, but I wouldn't - I love the carrot and apple flavor together especially when you use sweet baby carrots with tart granny smith apples.  It's just a lovely combination.

*Domata Flour… this is the only gluten free flour I use, cup for cup in all my favorite recipes.
**I bought the roasted chopped pecans at Trader Joe's and I used them straight from the package, no additional chopping required!
***This really depends on the size of your orange and how much you actually like orange flavor, I truly love orange so I used almost the zest of an entire orange but some people might find that a little over powering, so maybe just half… it also depends on your zester.  Go with your gut.

Apples were sourced locally at Arbor Farms in Nebraska City, Nebraska 


Enjoy!!

-Justine

Monday, September 22, 2014

Applejack Festival 2014


Well we made it to the Applejack Festival this weekend… which usually sees crowds of 80,000+ people so we always leave extra early to ensure our favorite parking spot.  However, this year, it poured rain most of Friday night and into Saturday morning and we drove right into a pretty good rainstorm in Nebraska City, complete with flooding streets!  This definitely slowed down the crowd this year… good for us through… a little rain didn't stop us! 



We were more than prepared for a little mud… lots of mud.  Our boots and umbrellas kept us fairly dry until the rain moved through mid-morning.


We always head to the store first to pick up all our apple products so we can drop them back off at the car without carrying them around all day… and we usually seem to buy a bunch!!  I picked up a bottle of apple wine for my Aunt Donna, my favorite black walnut syrup, some apple cider (which I used to make caramels - recipe will be posted this week!!), and some apple cider vinegar which I debated buying…but then one of the Arbor Farms employees explained that they aren't able to make that product every year and they were very excited to have it back after such a long hiatus… so I figured I really needed some if that was the case!

Once we were loaded down with all our wine and apple products… we headed out to pick apples!







It's always surprising, and I do this every year… I always think we should get a bigger bag than we did when we're walking out to the orchards.  In my mind, I never think we'll get very many apples or we just don't have enough.  I'm wrong every time.  We always always have plenty… and they're heavy to carry back!! 

I cooked apples all weekend… I had plenty!

We had such a great time - I'm already excited for next year!!


Here's some links for this post:




I'll have a couple apple recipes coming in the next few days/weeks with all the apples I picked at Arbor Day Farms.

and one last photo:

Wally, my little fruit!!


Happy Monday everyone :)

-Justine








Friday, September 19, 2014

High Five for Friday!

This week really has flown by, just like every other week lately.  I think because my job knows no set hours and my work week isn't exactly monday-friday, my days just seem to blend together!  

Linking up with Lauren @ the Lauren Elizabeth Blog

Now that I'm happily back to blogging after quite a long hiatus… which was needed because I'm truly loving my blog again.  I hope you noticed my new design and some changes I've made!!  Please feel free to let me know if something isn't working or if you have suggestions on user-ability! 

one:: I'm still proud to say at this point, that my blog design is my own and I've done all the coding on my blog.  I've worked hard to teach myself this skill and even though I'll freely admit I'm not very proficient at it and I don't even want to admit how long it too me to complete this redesign but I'm happy with it for now! 

two:: This past week was a lot about mud.  Mud everywhere.  We've seen more rain in the last 2 weeks in Nebraska than most of the summer combined.  And I've been out and about in it…every pair of jeans I own are currently muddy, quite a few pairs of shoes are muddy, there's mud all over the inside and outside of my vehicle…next week's project - laundry and carwash!

three:: Mud and meetings… I have evening meetings almost every night of the week.  After almost a year in my job I'm finally feeling at home with all my members.  They've become such wonderful resources and friends.  Topics of conversation always range from politics, insurance, weather, family matters to who's bringing treats for the next meeting!

four:: No one else can play your part - World Suicide Prevention Day was September 10th.  Campaign by TWLOHA.  Do you follow them on instagram?  You should.  Check out my story here.

five:: I have the cutest cats.  I just can't give over them sometimes.  I forgot to make my bed the other day and before I could get back to it… Wally had crawled right up on the pillows, made himself all comfortable, and didn't move the rest of the day.  So much for making my bed.

I hope you had a wonderful week!

-Justine




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lauritzen Gardens


Lauritzen Garden's is a hidden gem in Omaha, a hidden botanical oasis actually.  I feel people who have lived here their entire lives don't even know it exists.  

I truly feel, sometimes you just have to step out and be a tourist in your own community - take time to explore and truly live - see everything there is to offer!

My dear friend Vera and I try to get to the Gardens on a monthly basis… usually after Saturday morning coffee or a visit to the farmers market.  She has a membership which works out perfectly because I have one to Joslyn Art Museum so we share our cultural experiences with each other.

We missed our trip in June which is usually the height of Rose season, but there were still a few late bloomers out when we went a few weeks ago.  Even on their last leg they were as beautiful as ever.

In the spring, visiting the gardens always gets me geared up for planing my own flowers and container garden.  It's inspiring to see all the foliage, flowers, and sculpture working together on the grounds.  Then as we visit through out the summer and into fall, I love seeing the changes - the natural variations and the work that the grounds keepers do to ensure colorful blooms as long as possible.  

As we walk the 100+ acre grounds, we chat and reflect, talk about gardening, how things look different compared to our last visit or even a year ago - but regardless we always talk about how much weeding they must do to keep everything looking so lovely and manicured!! 

Vera and I are both excited for October 2014 when the new expansive greenhouse will open…actually I'm not sure that's officially what it's called but it resembles the National Botanical Garden's glass sanctuary in DC if you've even been there.  It's been under construction for over a year and is highly anticipated…It will make the Garden's more accessible year round. 





Here's some of my favorite posts with Vera:


Well, Vera and I are off to the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska this weekend… We look forward to this every year and I'm ready for some apple baking!!  Have you ever attended this festival? It's one of the best! 

-Justine