On My Mind: October 2021

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

Om My Mind, October 2021, Fall, Susanne SkinnerAnd just like that it’s fall. The second half of the year goes by faster, and I feel the days accelerating to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

On reflection, this year is harder than last year. Everyone is ready to be done – done with the virus, politics, divisiveness and all the negativity stifling our balance and breath.

I’m doing my best to remain positive in anticipation of 2022, but that doesn’t mean I’m letting this year slide. There’s a lot on my mind as we enter the 2021 home stretch.

The World Keeps Turning

I spend a lot too much time wondering if the pandemic is declining. Given what happened with the delta variant I am not overly optimistic.

The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub combines nine different mathematical models to project a six-month outlook. They forecast new infections will continuously drop from about 140,000 today to about 9,000 a day by March.  That still feels like a lot.

Where Have All the Workers Gone?  At the height of the pandemic more than 23 million Americans were unemployed and not all of them are returning to the workforce. As the pandemic recedes a new trend is emerging. Workers are seeking jobs with higher salaries, more flexibility, and career advancement — and they have the upper hand.  A remote office is the new signing bonus.

The Lighter Side of October 2021

If you need a reprieve from all those Tik Tok videos and Dollar Tree craft ideas (my guilty pleasure) here’s a little something:  Customer reviews of Sugar Free Gummy Bears. I’m still laughing.

On the Lighter SideWant to Know How to Be Happier?  In 2007 advice columnist E. Jean Carroll created this short video that still rings true.

The debut of Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony, completed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), premiered on October 9th at the Telekom Forum in Bonn. A team of musicologists and computer scientists taught a machine Beethoven’s entire body of work and his creative process. Here’s how they did it.

In the Fall Kitchen With Suze

Apples

Living in Florida deprives me of New England’s fall. To make up for it, I bake autumn into my kitchen.

Warm and spicy scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves underwrite fall baking. They marry perfectly with apples and pumpkins, filling me with memories of my hometown.

An apple cake highlighting these spices led me to Ina Garten’s Fresh Apple Spice Cake. It rings all the bells and easily adjusts to personal preferences.

Dark brown sugar adds a wonderful base note for the spices. Since I am not a raisin fan I substitute currants. The recipe calls for soaking them in rum, but apple cider is also delicious.

Pumpkins

Sugar Pumpkins, In the Kitchen with Suze, Pumpkin Cake, October 2021Another fall favorite is pumpkin and my go to remains Paul’s Pumpkin Bars. I try other recipes but none compares to this one!  Everyone loves them and they feed a crowd.

I love the idea of combining pumpkin with the flavors of chai, a beautiful blend of Indian spices including cardamom, ginger, clove, black pepper and cinnamon. This Chai Spiced Pumpkin Cake delivers an autumn inspired dessert. I use a dusting of powdered sugar rather than a glaze.

If you’re going the canned pumpkin route, follow a tip from America’s Test Kitchen and bloom the spices in the pumpkin first by gently warming both.

Using fresh pumpkin requires prep work and offers bragging rights that come from ”the ground up.” Sugar pumpkins are perfect for baking because they aren’t as stringy and have less water. It’s a sweeter pumpkin and will not overpower desserts or savory dishes.

Experimenting with lattes led me to this milk frother (because I am no barista) and I am delighted with it. This recipe reduces the graininess from the spices by infusing a syrup and straining it, but it is more work. I have not found a perfect recipe but this one and the one above are current favorites.

Watch ~ Listen ~ Read

Lupin – Netflix

Watch Read Listen, books, music, televisionLupin is a French mystery thriller inspired by Maurice Leblanc’s fictional stories of gentlemen thief Arsène Lupin, written in the 1900s.

Assane Diop is a professional thief and the only son of a Senegal immigrant who came to France seeking a better life. Diop’s father is framed for the theft of a diamond necklace by his employer, Hubert Pellegrini, and dies during his incarceration.

Twenty-five years later, inspired by LeBlanc’s books,  Assane’s plans for revenge include clever disguises, theft and subterfuge to expose Hubert’s crimes. Not a dull moment in this series!

I normally shy away from subtitles and voiceovers as I find them hard to follow. This is a wonderful exception and I barely noticed. There are ten episodes and each one is delightfully written and acted.

Listen

If Van Morrison and Norah Jones had a baby it would be Amos Lee.

Amos Lee is not a household name but his music is easy to listen to; often heard in the background of television programs and ads. He’s a schoolteacher turned singer and songwriter whose soft stylings wrap around the genres of folk, rock, and soul.

In the spirit of staying positive Amos encourages us to Worry No More and when we’re struggling just Hang On Hang On.

Read

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Not a fan. The story is poorly constructed; the plot and characters lack depth and plausibility. The author adds too many weak sub plots, making it difficult to follow.

The story centers on Mariana, a recent widow and group therapist. Her niece Zoe, a student at Cambridge University, contacts her when one of her classmates is found murdered. Zoe asks Mariana to assist in finding the murderer  in a plot that is too contrived.

It’s missing the wow factor of The Silent Patient and I struggled to finish it.

Words to Inspire You

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,
if one only remembers to turn on the light.” 
~ Albus Dumbledore

 

 

 

 

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