Pumpkin Chocolate Chip “Cake” Cookies & Ways to be Productive

For the past month I have been sitting at my desk (and in the library, on my bed, on my floor, and at my kitchen table…) trying to write my dissertation literature review for my masters. Page after page, journal article after journal article, I sat there trying to piece everything together. I soon realized that my productivity was dropping at a negative rate as my attempt to work carried on.  It appeared favourable to just sit there, hour upon hour, day upon day, until it was finished. People anticipate that deadline like it’s the best thing to ever happen because after it passes they know they will be free from the confines they currently find themselves in. So, if you could get it done ages before, wouldn’t that advance this enjoyment?

In reality, such a process isn’t as easy as it sounds. I found myself sitting there, looking at pages upon pages,  not comprehending a single thing. Even with a few thousand words already  written and  40+ journal articles sitting in the back of my head, I just couldn’t think. Some people would call it writers block, and that it was; an unwanted obstacle blocking me from finishing my paper well before the due date. Then I realized, what is the rush? It isn’t due for another couple of weeks, I am well ahead of the goals I had set for myself, and honestly my productivity was dropping. This was when I decided to take a step back and of instead bake something! (Surprising huh?!?) And with that my productivity rose the next day as if my mind was as rested as could be.

With this, I realized that all of those cliché articles about the things to do  for yourself to make you happy were actually effective. Doing those little things for yourself does help you be a happier and more productive person. By taking time to bake each Sunday I relaxed by mind for the upcoming week, and thanks to this I can now happily say I am finished with my paper a week before it is due (well I still have to read it over a few more times).

Thanks to this effective process, I decided to provide you with another one of those cliché lists of thing you can do to be more productive. It is actually a list of the things I like to do, and maybe you will as well! I added a few characteristics to make this list a little unique from all those other ones (although this might just be making it even more cliché!).

What makes it unique: First, I decided to not number this list. Why put a finite number to the amount of things you can do for yourself. Second, this list is not going to be composed of broad categories such as ‘exercise more’ or ‘sleep more’.. anyone can think of those! Instead I am going to list the specific things I enjoy doing for myself (and for others since I really enjoy doing things for others.)

So here it goes!

  • When I have had a really long and tiring day, I treat myself to one of my favorite things to eat. Whether that be a nice big bowl of tomato basil soup or a piping hot cup of hot chocolate, if my brain is tired then it is time to relax it a bit and treat my stomach as while I am at it.
  • When I really do need to get something finished sooner but I can’t seem to think properly, I go for a short run or I do one of those many mini cardio workouts on YouTube (Yes, some of them are lame but quite a few of them will actually give you a great workout- check them out!). I find that when my productive is really low, a little mindless working out is a great way to get the oxygen running through my body while relaxing my mind. Plus, when I have been sitting at a desk the whole day a little working out is a bit necessary.
  • When I have had a productive week and I know I have to be just as productive the next week, I take Sunday night (or afternoon) and I bake something. I had to put this one in there even though I just talked about it! Yes, I love to bake for others. Often times baking isn’t something I can just do every night of the week. So, to release the past week’s tension and to have a fresh start to the next week I take some time on Sunday to bake.
  • I like to throw in some light reading sporadically when I feel like it. This includes things such as a magazine or some Buzzfeed articles, things I can read but don’t take up too much thought to process. Plus, it is interesting to learn some facts or ideas you hadn’t known before.
  • I love to leave myself little notes here and there to encourage myself in little ways. When I know I have been super unhealthy I sometimes write one that says “Think Healthy” and I put it on my bulletin board next to my desk. When I am tired of doing so much mentally straining work for school I write a note that says something like “You got this” or “All this work will pay off in the future”… Little things that push me to do just a little bit more before calling it a night.
  • I drink a lot of water. It is awful to try focusing on a paper when my mouth is all dried out because I haven’t been drinking enough water while I work. It is such a distracting thing. So, I always have my water bottle near by to drink while I work.
  • Sometimes when I know I won’t be doing anymore work that night, I crack open the arts and crafts box while I watch Netflix in bed. Yes, it may sound like a childish thing to do, but you would be surprised how relaxing it is to spend time making a handcrafted card for someone’s birthday. Plus, if I didn’t have a productive day at work, I can always say I had a productive night of art and crafts! 😀
  • I try not to be that cliché person who reads lists such as these, agrees with everything they say, but then doesn’t do any of them. Most of these lists aren’t asking for much, although they often times are a bit too broad. If the list makes some good points that I agree with, I like to try them out for a bit. If it maked someone else happier or more productive, what would it hurt to see if it worked with me as well 🙂

Incase you didn’t get it from that last point, try some of these next time you have a looming deadline or just want to be more productive in general. See how they work for you! They have always helped me out so I hope they help you out as well and hopefully make your day a little brighter 🙂

Now time for some baking (I actually made these last week but I didn’t have time to write a post until now).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip “Cake” Cookies

Pumpkin chocolate chip goodness in a cookie :)

Pumpkin chocolate chip goodness in a cookie 🙂

The dining hall at St. Lawrence used to have these amazing pumpkin chocolate chip cookies every so often! I had been craving these cookies so I decided to try and replicate the recipe. And, they actually tuned out pretty good! They are definitely come out a bit cake-like, but it really works well. I can imagine the recipe making really good pumpkin muffins as well! I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Steps

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, and sugars. Stir in oil, egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix together the milk and baking soda. Add to wet mixture.
  4. In a smaller bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking powder.
  5. Add dry mixture to wet mixture.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Drop spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes or until lightly brown (I looked at the bottoms to see when they were done)
  8. Enjoy 🙂
The better tasted deli shish uncooked (try at your own risk)

The better tasted deli shish uncooked (try at your own risk)

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Yum!

Yum!

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These have a wonderful cake like consistency!

These have a wonderful cake like consistency!

What a pile!

What a pile!

Always remember to enjoy! (Although I hope that is something you don't forget :p)

Always remember to enjoy! (Although I hope that is something you don’t forget :p)

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Caramel Popcorn

We all know that time sure does fly by, although we often try to avoid thinking about it. Minutes turn in to hours, days turn in to weeks, months turn in to years. Before you know it, life has slipped through your fingers. Moments come and go, only lasting long enough for our minds to take a quick snapshot with the hopes that our memory will find it worthy enough to store away forever.

This is how I feel as I reflect on the past month; like time is flying by and all I want to do is find the remote and press pause. I want time to stand still, I want to remember everything. Where have the past few months gone? What have I been doing? How have I let a month slip in between my baking and more than a month slip in between my posts!?! Yikes!

Even though I haven’t been baking or blogging, I know I have immensely enjoyed everything I have done recently. Yet I still sit here wondering how all this time has gone by so quickly.

Reflecting back, I have actually been doing quite a lot. I have spent this time exploring the unfamiliar world of life after college, allowing new and exciting people into my life, spending time with family, traveling whenever I get the chance, and of course trying to be the best I can be– All things that I believe are time well spent. I have come to realize that I am happy to spend as much time to these things as possible, as they are the things that bring joy and brightness into my life. So I guess what I am trying to say, as I come to the end of my little reflection, is how important it is to take time to reflect on what you have been doing recently. Are you enjoying yourself? Are your recent activities worth your precious time? What, if anything, can be done differently? It’s nice to consistently look back on how life is being spent- it brings a breath of fresh air into any pressures on your life, it allows you reorganize what is important to yourself, it give your mind and memory a chance to catch up, and it allows you to see where your happiness truly stems from.

So take a moment, reflect on your life- hopefully it will brighten up your lives a little bit, and in return you could brighten up someone elses while you are at it 🙂

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One thing I love to make is caramel popcorn. This has always been the perfect thing to make when it comes to providing homemade gifts for large groups of people. Its quick, easy, can be made in bulk, and of course delicious.

This past 4th of July I decided to make it for a work BBQ I was going to. I have made it a few times for my company before so I knew it would be a huge hit.

I hope you enjoy it as much as they did! Remember, if you are going to try it you better be ready to eat a whole lot of it. Once you start is is really hard to stop!

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8-10 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts
  • Oil or oil spray

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray two large pans with oil and divide the popcorn and nuts between them.
  2. Over medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan.
  3. Once melted mix in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, string very often.
  4. Once the mixture is at a complete boil, let boil for 4 minutes without string.
  5. Once the 4 minutes is up, remove pot from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. Stir well until mixture become a light caramel color and becomes very puffy.
  6. Pour mixture over the two pans of popcorn. Using a rubber spatula, mix the caramel and popcorn as much as possible.
  7. Bake for 1 hr, stirring mixture every 15 minutes.
  8. To cool, put parchment paper on your countertop and transfer popcorn onto it.
  9. Enjoy 🙂

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Try not to eat it all 🙂SONY DSCEnjoy 🙂

Carmel popcorn also makes really easy gifts or party favors. Just put some in a bag and tie a pretty ribbon around it and everyone will think it so creative and adorable!

Carmel popcorn also makes really easy gifts or party favors. Just put some in a bag and tie a pretty ribbon around it. Everyone will think it is so creative and adorable!