Homemade Pop Tarts

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Often times, I find myself rushing out of the door in the morning, cramming down whatever I deem acceptable as a meal so that I can get something in my stomach. I wanted to create something easy to make and easy to eat, on the go, that wouldn’t leave a mess in my car while driving to work. As I was pondering finger food for breakfast, I had seen many at-home pop tart recipes on the web but all of them required making the dough. Don’t get me wrong, I love making things from scratch but there are a few things I don’t mind buying already made, like pie crust. Additionally, buying the crust pre-made makes for a faster creation of these wonderful little tarts. These pop tarts are easy, fun to make, and taste wonderful when in a rush in the morning. I decided to use some American Spoon preserves and some of my homemade apple sauce for filling but you can feel free to fill them with whatever you’d like! Imagine the possibilities!

 

What you’ll need:

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a rolling pin
flour
pastry brush
pizza cutter, or sharp knife
your favorite jam, peanut butter, Nutella, or applesauce
pre-made pie crust (thaw overnight prior to making pop tarts)
index cards
1 egg
1 tablespoon half & half

Yields about 10 pop tarts.

 

  1. take the thawed pie crust out of the fridge to allow it to get to room temperature.
  2. while the dough is warming up, prepare two cookie sheets with a layer of parchment paper or spray a layer of nonstick spray. I use bakers choice.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and cream until well blended.
  4. Once the dough has warmed up roll it into a ball and knead it slightly on a floured surface. Roll the dough to be about 1/8” thick.
  5. Using index cards as your template, begin to cut rectangles out of the dough using the pizza cutter. Make sure each piece is near similar size so that when you stack the dough there isn’t any overlap.
  6. Once all of the rectangles have been cut, place half of them on your baking sheets. Brush a thin layer of the egg mix onto the top of the rectangles.
  7. Spoon a tablespoon, or so, of your favorite filling onto the center of the rectangles. I am using American Spoon’s Early Glow Strawberry Preserves, some homemade apple sauce I canned a while back, and some of Trader Joe’s delicious Cookie Butter.
  8. Lay a second dough rectangle on top of the first and press on the edges with a fork, creating a seal. Poke a few holes in the top of the pop tart to let any air vent as well.
  9. Bush the egg mixture once more on top of the pop tarts. This will help to give them that golden brown coloring.
  10. Place both  baking sheets in the freezer for 10-15 minutes so the dough can cool again. This is so that as the dough bakes it doesn’t melt out, it keeps to shape.
  11. Bake the pop tarts in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
They are best served warm! They will keep all week so breakfast on the go is easy!

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Nicole St. John Hamborsky
nstjohn.com

 

The Translucent Revolution by Arjuna Ardagh

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January 2015 Book of the Month

For more than a decade, Ardagh has studied what he believes to be a profound revolution in human consciousness. This shift in awareness is marked by what he calls “translucents” — individuals who have undergone a spiritual awakening deeply enough that it has permanently transformed their relationship to themselves and to reality, while allowing them to remain involved in ordinary life.

The Translucent Revolution tells the story of hundreds of individuals just like you who display characteristics of “translucence”. These individuals continue to quietly work and play at life with more happiness, more satisfaction and increased purpose.

A first attempt at juicing!

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Today started my first attempt at juicing! As I near the end of my first day I am not feeling 100% but not bad either. What I am beginning to like about juicing is the prework. The juicer that I am using has a small feed chute so I have to take the time to chop everything up prior to juicing it. Taking time to enjoy my meals as I like to think. This mornings first drink was rather lovely, pictured above, it was:

3 carrots
1 green apple
1” piece of ginger

Because of the carrots the whole thing came out with a rather orange color but it was mighty, mighty tasty. The hardest part, so far, about juicing is my intense craving for solid food. Earlier today my boyfriend made a pizza for lunch and I wanted to take a bite so badly but I resisted. I’m learning that juicing is more than just detox, it’s also a lesson in self control.

Today I put together my garden and planted a bundle of seedings that I bought a week ago. Hopefully in the next few days I can start to plant more things and get the ball rolling on this garden stuff!

Nicole St. John
www.nstjohn.com

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda

Autobiography of a Yogi

December 2014 Book of the Month

Autobiography of a Yogi is recognized around the world as a literary and spiritual classic. Written in 1946, the book sets forth not only the recounting of an extraordinary life but a fascinating introduction to the spiritual thought of the East. In addition to sharing many amazing anecdotes from both his childhood and adulthood, Paramahansa Yogananda highlights stories from his many encounters with other highly awakened, spiritually evolved individuals and tells of the miracles connected to them.

As the founder of the Self Realization Fellowship, Yoganada developed a complete philosophy and way of life dedicated to creating a greater understanding of the true power that resides within.

The Empowerment Plan

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“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

If there is one thing that I am a stickler on, it is class attendance. A few years ago, a former student, signed up to take a second class with me. When she missed the first two weeks, I was surprised. A good student, Veronika, knew about my “skipping class” pet peeve. Toward the end of the second week of the semester, I received a rather breathless apology email from a very obviously busy young woman. Veronika, it seems, had been otherwise occupied. She had been invited to speak at the UN regarding her burgeoning non-profit “The Empowerment Plan”.

The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit based organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. They hire homeless women from local shelters to become full time seamstresses making coats that transform into sleeping bags. Veronika designed the sleeping bag coat while a student at College for Creative Studies. Her coats are distributed free of cost to homeless individuals.

Prior to founding the Empowerment Plan, Veronika was enrolled in a freshman seminar I taught. In her final paper, she wrote about her own metamorphosis and her awakening to the many realities of life. I remember the assignment specifically because she bound her paper between two pieces of wood. There was a hand drawn vine running between the front and back cover of the “book”. On it were a series of illustrated butterflies. It was beautiful.

I have occasionally thought about that paper while watching Veronika’s meteoritic success from the sidelines. I believe that for every situation in our lives, there is a thought pattern that fuels our actions and maintains our focus. It’s as if that final paper served as a blueprint for her future success. As a young woman just breaking free from a challenging childhood, she had a strong desire to be seen as “worthy”. By giving worth to others, she ultimately imposed worth back upon herself.

In 2011, Veronika won an IDEA Gold Award from the Industrial Design Society of America. She is also the youngest recipient to be awarded the prestigious JFK New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Foundation. In addition, she has spoken at various conferences and colleges, has a Ted talk circulating and has been featured in numerous magazines, new shows and newspapers around the world.

While it may seem like individuals have very little ability to shift cultural patterns, Veronika’s success proves that individuals are the only ones who can do the work. It is through transforming our own lives that we create and construct new realities for both ourselves and others whose lives we touch. “We” are creativity in action and where our personal action meets social issues we are able to produce new ways of seeing the world.

It has been a joy to watch Veronika’s journey unfold. Having recently enjoyed a coffee date with Veronika, I can attest to the fact that she remains grounded, sincere and committed to meaningful social change. She is a powerful game changer.

Please visit: www.empowermentplan.org

The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra

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November 2014 Book of the Month

“The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”

Deepak Chopra

Every semester I read a list of “unexplained facts” to my students.  The list is taken from my favorite of Deepak Chopra’s books, The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Life. My favorite mystery: “Fireflies in Indonesia numbering in the millions are able to synchronize their flashes over an area of several square miles.” And, while there is no denying synchronized fireflies make for a pretty good visual, my students always love the idea of several million horseshow crabs meeting on the beach for one night under a full moon to mate. Chopra’s impetus for sharing these mysteries is to inspire the reader to consider the underlying intelligence of a universe capable of producing such wonders.

I believe that a spiritual journey involves both the transcendent and the immediate.  In fact, the relationship between the two might be referred to as the bridge to heaven. It is for this very reason that I include meditation training in my class. Sitting in silence enlivens and expands consciousness. A true seeker, however, often needs more than just meditation. He/she needs guidance, validation and support on the path to enlightenment.

While I have read several of Chopra’s books, The Book of Secrets remains my favorite. It combines both practical knowledge and ancient wisdom. Reading spiritual literature serves as a practical step to support your awakening. This book offers the reader the evidence that there is more to life than the surface value of the everyday experience. Fortunately, it also inspires the passion required to go in search of unlocking these hidden dimensions.

The Label Lecture

The Label Lecture

It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

W.C. Fields

Each semester in my “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity” class, we spend one week exploring “labeling theory”. Labeling theory is a sociological method for understanding deviant and criminal behavior. The idea essentially is that to understand the nature of deviance itself, we must first understand why some people are labeled deviant and others are not. Theorists working in this field are interested in how labels affect long term behavior. One consequence of labeling is that labels often stick, marking an individual as inadequate for life.

One of the frustrations of giving the “label” lecture and the discussion that typically follows is that it leaves all of us feeling pretty low. The associated literature paints a picture of a chaotic criminal justice system plagued by almost insurmountable problems and populated by overworked individuals doing their best in an environment of increasing crime and violence. Thinking outside this box may require an act of bravery – especially for people in power who are dependent on election cycles.

Enter: Judge Frank Syzmanski. Judge Frank is a member of the Wayne County Probate Court and a personal friend of mine. I invited him to come to class last week to talk about working with kids in the juvenile court system here in Detroit. For once, the labeling lecture ended on a high note rather than a sigh of resignation.

Judge Frank is aware of the power of labels. His goal is to undermine the forces that help them to stick. His in-class presentation focused almost exclusively on ways to encourage healthy identity development. “When I think of all limiting, divisive, small world attitudes that so many people live with, it makes me want to shout out ‘Enough, There’s a Better Way’! Seeing the changes kids make in my court in spite of their challenges is a regular source of inspiration for me.”

True change always starts with individuals caring about the well-being of others. According to Judge Frank, compassionate attention is the key to shifting the behavior of the young people he sees in his court every day. In addition to building a program that brings yoga and meditation to young offenders, Judge Frank is the founder of the Youth Deterrent Program. His enlightened approach to sentencing offers young people an opportunity for transformational change.

Thanks for the inspiration, Judge Frank! It was a pleasure to have you visit our class.

Video produced and directed by TTSM friend, Alan Sedghi. You can see more of his work at www.aardmultimedia.com

i found a lonely blueberry

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Today I found a lonely blueberry on my blueberry plant. It is the only one that has survived this season. My first crop got eaten by an animal of sorts. Gardening this year has shown me patience and nurturing. There is nothing quite like being able to grow your own food even if it’s not the most successful. Self sustainability is a wonderful thing!

Nicole St. John
www.nstjohn.com

Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda

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October 2014 Book of the Month

So, in essence, the world that your reason wants to sustain is the world created by a description and its dogmatic and inviolable rules, which the reason learns to accept and defend.”

Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power

A few years ago, a good friend of mine shared an old copy of Tales of Power with me. On the title page he listed several page numbers with the expression “HA HA” next to them. He also wrote “allow for a week between parts”. Good advice. Reading Carlos Castaneda requires patience. The experience is a bit like being suspended in time. As a reviewer for Time Magazine stated in 1974, Tales of Power is “hypnotic reading”.  The brilliance of Castaneda’s excursion into the unknown is the unique framing of his story. By suggesting that his books belong in the annals of anthropology, Castaneda creates an “otherness” that allows the reader to relax his judgment of the story as it unfolds.

Tales of Power is the fourth book in the Carlos Castaneda/ Don Juan series. Inspired by Native American mysticism, Castaneda blends philosophy and narrative to tell the story of his training in Shamanism. Written in the first person, Castaneda takes the reader on an excursion into the unknown. In order to be trained in the art of sorcery, Castaneda must struggle to overcome his own immaturity, fears, mental laziness and assumption about the world around him. Fortunately, for Castaneda, Don Juan is a patient teacher and don Genaro a benefactor with a sense of humor.

Myths regarding our personal identity do not die easily, especially when our personal commitment to them is so strong. For most of us it is difficult to even entertain explanations that run counter to the basic premises we hold dear. Most of us “see” ourselves as we have been taught. When someone seriously questions our accepted belief system, it often triggers anxiety. The beauty of the Castaneda series is that it transcends conventional storytelling, illuminating new frontiers for understanding. Whether you believe in the literalness of Castaneda’s research or simply the power of his insight, Tales of Power is bound to introduce readers to the warrior that lives within us all.

 

Lunch “gazpacho” juice!

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tumblr_n6npo1qmFt1sb3cb4o2_1280A really hearty juice that is definitely more savory than sweet. It’s almost like drinking gazpacho itself!

4 plum tomatoes (I used two larger tomatoes)
1/4 red onion
1 cup, chopped parsley
2 stalks of celery
1 lime
2 red bell peppers
1 cucumber

Aside from being savory, the lime in this juice really brightens it up. It dances with the parsely delicately on your tongue to create flavors you wouldn’t dream of finding in a typical juice. It’s very filling and has just the right amount of lime to compliment the heartyness of the tomatoes and onion.

Nicole St. John
www.nstjohn.com

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