Farm fresh eggs, avocado mash on 35-calorie toast   

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Farm-fresh eggs with avocado mash on 35-calorie toast. Never fails! Always a nutritious powerhouse to start the day.

I learned that if you dice up the avocados with a paring knife, you end up with an interesting, chunky texture. (And don’t mash it with a fork afterwards.) In my opinion, the result is much better than the puréed texture of most guacamole.

Fresh basil, ground pepper, and sea salt on the eggs.

Fresh basil, fresh cilantro, lemon juice, ground pepper, and sea salt in the avocado mash.

Yum!

Duck-fat-fried parsnip fries with sea salt and basil   

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Leftovers and a time crunch. Those are the two ingredients that, more often than not, produce wonderful surprises. For this slapdash delight, I sliced parsnips into thick fry shapes, and tossed them in the oven on a baking sheet at 350 F for 30 minutes, to soften them up. Then, I heated an inch of duck fat in a wok. I tossed the parsnip fries in there, and in 5 minutes: voila. A crispy explosion of flavor in every fry. I tossed the fries in sea salt and basil, and served while still scalding hot. On a cold winter day, not much can beat these for comfort food.

Duck Breast With Garam Masala, Seared Grapes, and Glaze   

Monday, 19 February 2018

Duck breast with garam masala, seared grapes, and glazed with a balsamic, honey, and cinnamon sauce. My mouth just exploded with joy after making this. I can’t take credit for the recipe though: that goes to my favorite book of the last month, Secrets of the Best Chefs: Recipes, Techniques, and Tricks from America’s Greatest Cooks. After an exhausting, trying week, there’s nothing like a delicious meal to transform the mood. Here’s to great food and recovery!

‘Which Promotes More Productive Practice – Practicing for Time, or for a Set Number of Repetitions?’   

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

It’s really easy – and tempting – to prescribe practice in units of time. Or as a set number of repetitions. But as it turns out, neither are especially good ways to approach practicing in most cases.

After all, if you pick up on something quickly, you might get bored before the time or repetitions are up and end up practicing mindlessly. Or conversely, when you’re working on something challenging, a set amount of time or number of repetitions may not be enough to get done what you need to.

Proficiency goals, on the other hand, are much more conducive to deliberate practice, and encourage more engaged, thoughtful practice. But the challenge is…how do you know when it’s good enough to stop practicing? Because, honestly, does anything ever sound good enough?

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‘What else can do that? I can’t think of anything other than music.’   

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

In countries such as Germany, Burdette noted, music therapy is commonly an integral part of the rehabilitation process for people who have had strokes, brain surgery or traumatic brain injuries.

“If you’re trying to restore neuroplasticity in the brain, to re-establish some of the connections that were there before the injury, music can be a big help, and I’d like to see it used more widely in this country,” he said.

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‘Musical training shapes brain anatomy, affects function’   

Monday, 29 January 2018

From Neuroscience 2013:

Today’s new findings show that:

  • Long-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight. […]
  • The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact. […]
  • Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain.

Yep.

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‘Musicians show advantages in long-term memory’   

Monday, 29 January 2018

From the University of Texas Arlington:

“Dr. Park’s research uses the latest scientific instrumentation to reveal knowledge about human cognition that was previously unreachable,” said James Grover, interim dean of the UT Arlington College of Science. “It provides usable information about far-reaching advantages arts training can bring.”

[…]

“Our work is adding evidence that music training is a good way to improve cognitive abilities,” she said.

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Uncomfortably Public Challenge Results: Week 1   

Monday, 22 January 2018

Tasks Report

1 = I did it!

0 = I didn’t 🙁

Goal Report

  • Lost 4 pounds.
  • 2 recitals booked.
  • Invested several hours in learning new budgeting software.

So. There was success (rejoice!). There was failure (sadness). But wow is it satisfying to build up some streaks!

For my daily to dos, I created a Google Sheet where whenever I input a 1, the cell turns green (hooray I did it!) or if I input a 0 it turns yellow (boo, I didn’t do it). I’m having fun each day tallying these up. And now that I can see a week of results…I am feeling far more motivated than I was last week. The goal here is to maintain the chain and over time, the cost of breaking the chain gets higher and higher.

By FAR, the hardest habit here is to stop dead in my tracks, with zero distractions, and meditate/pray for 10 minutes. Driving in the car or the phone on means it doesn’t count. I want to stop all the things in my life and focus on one thing: silence. For ten minutes. It goes against everything modern life demands of us. And it’s wonderful. But if the rest of 2018 is anything like Week 1, I’m in for an epic battle to make this a habit. But I really believe it will be worth it. I think this is one of those habits where the investment is small, but the pay off is asymmetrically huge.

Failure: So What?

I failed a few times. So what? Each time, I got started again the next day. The impulse to beat yourself up is as productive as milking a Jeep. It’s a great way to stay planted in the Garden of Mediocrity. (Yuck, that sounds terrible.) Pick up, learn, move on!

Here’s to some uncomfortably public results!

‘How to cook soup’   

Monday, 22 January 2018

First, you need some water. Fuse two hydrogen with one oxygen and repeat until you have enough. While the water is heating, raise some cattle. Pay a man with grim eyes to do the slaughtering, preferably while you are away. Roast the bones, then add to the water. Go away again. Come back once in awhile to skim. When the bones begin to float, lash together into booms and tow up the coast. Reduce. Keep reducing. When you think you have reduced enough, reduce some more. Raise some barley. When the broth coats the back of a spoon and light cannot escape it, you are nearly there. Pause to mop your brow as you harvest the barley. Search in vain for a cloud in the sky. Soak the barley overnight (you will need more water here), then add to the broth. When, out of the blue, you remember the first person you truly loved, the soup is ready. Serve.

File under: Greatest Recipes of the Modern World.

‘WHAT YOUR FAVORITE COMPOSER SAYS ABOUT YOU’   

Monday, 22 January 2018

Gustav Mahler: You are the biggest drama queen but insist you don’t like drama

Frederic Chopin: You believe in love, but not being in love, and you play the ukulele

Ludwig van Beethoven: You probably have deep-seated anger issues but also constructive ways of dealing with them

George Gershwin: You have worn a culturally appropriative costume for Halloween, but you also probably regret it now

I haven’t laughed so hard (or felt like a bunch of descriptions were so eerily accurate) in months. Alternative title suggestion: “If you have friends in music, here’s a list of everyone you know.”

And I can’t resist quoting this one too:

Antonio Vivaldi: You were forced to play violin as a child, and you wrap your Christmas presents obsessively

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