New Zealand Chelsea Buns

I’ve made one batch of these from my mother’s recipe, I made a few mistakes but they were still delicious.

New Zealand Chelsea Buns.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ingredients for the bun

  • 8oz flour (I used whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3oz unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Ingredients for the filling

  • 4oz brown sugar
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon

Heat oven to 425f.

Rub the butter into the flour and baking powder. Mix with the beaten egg and add milk a little at a time until you have a lump of dough. Roll it out into a long strip, at least 11in long and 8in wide.

Cream the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together. Spread across the dough in a thin layer. Roll up the dough on the long side and seal the edge with a little milk. Cut into slices and put in a foil-lined 8×8 dish.

Bake for 20 mins, you should see the filling melt and bubble.

My big mistakes were that I didn’t roll the dough out thinly enough, and I didn’t spread the filling over the whole width of the dough, so some parts of my buns are missing cinnamon filling. But they still taste delicious.

Batch #2 will be cooked at 450f to see if that gets the sugar all melty, and double the cinnamon in the filling.

Notebooks

I work in a software company, but I couldn’t do my work without paper notebooks. I’m running several at once:

Five Year Diary

A gift from Paul six years ago and again last Christmas, this book from Levenger gives me five lines a day, for five years. It’s eerie to read back several years and remember what I was writing about, I’m about to finish year #1 of volume #2. I love the short snapshot format. I write this first thing in the morning for the preceding day, while I’m sitting in front of my light-box.

Gratitude Journal

I started this in August 2013, but made it a daily practice on September 1st, 2015. Only good things go in here, it is my second morning journal. I read some of Janice Kaplan’s book The Gratitude Diaries, and I liked her ideas. This feels like a good exercise to remind myself of good things when I can’t currently see good in my world. This is a Rhodia Webnotebook in a (now discontinued) Saddleback Leather cover.

Sketchbook

After the five year diary and the gratitude journal, I do some sketching in a Strathmore wire-bound sketchbook until I fill up a page. 28 days straight as of December 20th. There’s some progression in my doodles and I’m finding I want to draw things from sight, not by memory, so I’m staging a few objects there, including a small model of a person, a wooden bead, and a piece of driftwood from my parents.

Diary

This is the all-purpose book I carry around with me, I leave 3 pages blank in the front for an index and hand-number the odd pages. When it’s full, I put a full index into Indxd and make a written index of highlights in those first three pages. It holds song lyrics, quotes, diary entries, musings, answers to questions, notes from talks I attend, notes on books I’m reading, sermon notes, this is my catch-all. It’s another Rhodia Webnotebook in a Gfeller cover periodically treated with One Star Leather balm, which has saved it from a leaky water bottle.

Work notebook

My daily companion at work, this travels with me in a waxed canvas clutch. Meeting notes, status updates, doodles during meetings, lists, all the work-related note-taking lives here. I use a Clairfontaine 1951 notebook in a custom leather cover from Graham Keegan. I’m on the third one of these and I managed to put this one into the holder upside down. I’ll need a new notebook soon because it’s well over half full.

Task list and Mood Log

I use a Word notebook for task lists with personal tasks in the front and work tasks in the back. Twice a day, at lunchtime and around 5pm, I put a mood rating in a second Word notebook, from 1 (hideously awful) to 10 (best day ever). I average over the week and keep an eye on the week-to-week trend. Walking into your annual check-up with metrics gets a doctor’s attention. These two travel with me in a Nock Hightower case.

End of day notebook

This is new, an experiment from Shawn Blanc’s Elements of Focus course, which is a free video course with small assignments. One assignment is to leave myself a note with what thing I should do first tomorrow, another assignment is to list what I accomplished today, and two things I’m grateful for. It’s going to be interesting to compare the gratefulnesses with the gratitude journal over time. This is a 3×5 Calepino notebook.

Handbag notebook

This is another Calepino notebook in a One Star Leather cover that lives in my handbag. It’s for out and about notes, things I think of while driving, songs I want to buy when I get home. I don’t write in it while I’m driving, but I have pulled off the road into a store car park to jot something down.

Nine notebooks, and all of them have their own purpose, I didn’t realise it was that many. I have a preference for the Rhodia and Clairfontaine papers because they can handle a fountain pen. I’ve already filled a Mood Log, a Task List, a Handbag Notebook, two volumes of Diary, and two Work notebooks this year.

Now – October 26th 2015

I used to do snapshot posts a while ago of what was on my mind and what I was working on. I read Shawn Blanc’s Now page, which refers to Derek Sivers Now page, so I’ll put mine up periodically. Link in the sidebar or these posts. I’ve added a category of Now so I can find them again.

Reading: (updates and archives here)
Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” (working through this in work with two people I’m mentoring)
Kate Fox “Watching the English, second edition” (a slow read)
Marcus Aurelis “Meditations” (feels like this is the source book for a lot of others I’ve read)

The To Read queue is getting unweildy, I might use Blinkist to knock some of these out if they’re available.

Knitting:
Second of two hats as a wedding present for a friend
Orange Feather and Fan scarf
Really need to finish the Jackeroo cardigan, it has POCKETS. So many pieces of women’s clothing are lacking a functional pocket.

Thinking about:
My 2015 NaNoWriMo novel plot, with AI and genetic algorithms, my 11th NaNoWriMo novel
A Core Curriculum I’m building (inspired from this Shawn Blanc post) using a Levenger Circa notebook
How to start and maintain a daily sketching habit
How to learn enough JavaScript to create a simple, deliberately broken website
How to run a team of 30 software QA people in 3 offices across 2 states without micro-managing them
Stoicism
Creativity

Workouts:
Strength and endurance training at the gym, definite improvements since June in lunges, wall-sits, planks and kettlebell swings (20lb weight)
Training for black belt in Chinese Kenpo at Tracy’s Karate, several black belt techniques still left to learn.

Muffin test kitchen

I’ve been testing out muffin recipes, especially Paleo and gluten-free ones. These are the successes, I’ve only had one really bad fail. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that manually grating a carrot is a lot of work.

Paleo Morning Glory muffins

I used buckwheat honey, and added a half cup of five grain cereal because my mix looked very wet. It bumped up the cooking time by five minutes and gave me 16 muffins, not 12. Instead of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, I used one each of cinnamon and nutmeg. They taste fabulous! Dense, moist, great flavour. I ran the nutrition info for these through SparkPeople since it’s not on the recipe page.

Nutritional info: Calories: 255.6, Fat: 15.3g, Carbs: 27g, Fibre: 3.3g Protein: 3.6g, Cholesterol: 46.5mg

Carrot Walnut muffins

These are tasty and very light and fluffy, I’ve made two batches so far. In the Yoga Journal magazine for August 2015, it gives nutrition info, the website doesn’t give you that. This was my first time using coconut flour.

Nutritional info: Calories: 134, Fat: 9g, Carbs: 11g, Protein: 4g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 178mg.

Applesauce Oatmeal muffins

I take issue with the directions saying prep time is 5 minutes when the first line says to soak the oats in milk for an hour, but these are tasty and filling muffins. I used nutmeg instead of cinnamon for these, plus some leftover flax seed and millet. Might add flax meal next time to bump up the protein, and switch out the whole wheat flour for almond flour. I like that they use egg white and not whole eggs.

Nutritional info: Calories: 92.3, Fat: 0.5g, Carbs: 23.6g, Fiber: 1.7g, Protein: 3g, Cholesterol: 0.4mg, Sodium: 203.7mg

I love muffins and I’m also trying to eat less carbs and more protein, definitely less sugar.

Nonfiction reading

Starting November 2013, I’ve been reading more books from the business, management, leadership, and creativity sections of the book store. By a wild coincidence, I took on more leadership-ish things at work around then. These are ones I’ve finished so far:

Jurgen Appelo "Management 3.0"

Laurie Helgoe "Introvert Power"

Sheryl Sandberg "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead"

Robert Sutton "The No Asshole Rule"

Robert Sutton "Good Boss, Bad Boss"

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons "The Invisible Gorilla"

Steven Pressfield "The War of Art"

George J Thompson and Jerry B Jenkins "Verbal Judo: the gentle art of persuasion"

Jim Collins "Good to Great"

Sunni Brown "The Doodle Revolution"

Patrick Lencioni "The Advantage"

Currently in progress are "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, and Patrick M. Lencioni, and "The Speed of Trust" by Stephen M. R. Covey. Next up are "The Art Of War For Women" by Chin-Ning Chu and "Scaling Up Excellence" by Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao. Some are recommendations, some are my own finds. Most have been useful, some more than others. I didn’t like "Lean In" one bit.

I’m trying to alternate business books with fiction. Too much nonfiction makes me cranky, the last time I surfaced from a nonfiction binge I tore through a bunch of Dresden Files books and didn’t touch nonfiction for a while. Having ten years of book reading history is fascinating.

Travel lessons

Airplane travel

Some day, you and your checked luggage will be parted. Maybe for a day, maybe forever. Have enough in carry-on that you can survive a day while you get replacements for the essentials.

Medications go in carry-on bags.

If you fly more than twice a year, do the TSA Pre-Check and get a Known Traveller Number. You can keep your liquids in your bag and use the short line for screening, and it lasts for five years.

Driving for business

Classical music is not your friend. Find something with a beat that you can sing along to, especially if you’re driving multiple hours.

Drink lots of water and take stops every hour. The one may facilitate the other.

Don’t be the fastest thing on the road.

Chocolate left in your car all day will probably melt, especially in summer.

Bring one book, not three.

General travel

When you’re in a new city, ask people for recommendations of places to go and places to eat. Then take the recommendations. This got me to Askinosie a fantastic chocolate factory in Springfield MO, and Farmer’s Gastropub, which is the closest thing to a British pub I’ve found in America.

Explore on your own.

Take the time to introvert and be alone.

Back to back travel is best avoided. You need a break in between trips.

Coming home is the best part of travelling.