Productivity for Work: Getting Past the Sick Day Blues

Let’s face it, sick days may be inevitable, especially during cold season, so how can you still be productive even in the midst of these times?

Push past the sick day blues with productivity? Before you think it’s crazy just weigh in what you might actually still be able to do. 

I think like most people, I absolutely hate getting sick. If I see a person coughing or sneezing nearby, I will try to walk at a distance to avoid them, without looking too awkward if you know what I mean. But every once in a while, despite living a healthy lifestyle, I will get sick with a cold or a sore throat especially during the winter season.

Personally, I hate taking sick days. I hate just having to lie in bed and do absolutely nothing. It’s so boring. But sometimes, for the sake of colleagues, it’s better to stay at home or even work from home especially if you have something that is contagious.

While I know my productivity levels may not equate to the same efficiency when I am sick versus when I am well; I am still convinced that there are reasonable and feasible ways to be productive.

How to Be Productive Even When You’re Under the Weather

1.) Know Your Limits. It’s good to know what your limitations are based on the sickness that you have. For example, if your voice is weak from a sore throat, then try to focus on communicating via text, emails and Skype. Try to limit voice communication to the only dire “need to have today” type of conversations. Sometimes when we try to push ourselves too much we end up feeling worse and unable to do anything at all.

2.) Take Extra Care. Don’t forget that when your body is in this state, it needs extra care. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious foods to energize the body and try not to overexert yourself. If you take a little extra care, then most likely your recovery will be more rapid than it would be if you still tried to do all the things that you normally do.

3.) Focus on the “Can-Do’s.” Okay, so of course you’ll have limitations when you’re under the weather but what can you do? If you’re working from home and can’t go into the office, then maybe you don’t have access to all of the software and equipment that you normally would have, but thankfully since so many things are Internet-based, there are still many things that you can do in order to still get work done. For example, in the Marketing world, I can still work on e-marketing campaigns, design cool thumbnails in Canva, communicate via Trello boards, update social media accounts, curate content for website and promo materials, etc. There are still many things that I can do, but the efficiency of course, depends on the level of sickness. For example, when I had a migrane that made me sensitive to light (artifical or natural) it made it quite challenging to even keep my laptop open. There’s no shame in this, it’s just good to know what you can and cannot do and to know that eventually, you will feel better.

4.) Be Patient With Yourself. Sometimes when we get sick with a cold, sore throat, etc., it’s our body’s way of saying that it needs a bit more rest. Sometimes it is even the result of a super busy season of life that has required more of your time and energy. But regardless the trigger, we must be patient with ourselves and make the most out of even these gloomy, old sick says. If leveraged and perceived correctly, they can still most certainly add value to our lives.

Tell Me…What do you think about productivity when you’re sick? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Eton Mess with Fresh Cherries

Eton Mess–this is what dessert dreams are made of! No fuss, no perfection just simply delicious!

Crumbled, crispy meringue, light whipped cream and fresh sweet black cherries combined together are my twist on the classic British dessert known as Eton Mess.

According to my research, Eton Mess was a dessert that originated from Eton College in the UK. While I have discovered numerous narratives that try to identify the exact creation of the dessert, I have settled it within me to let the story remain unsettled, if you know what I mean. Could it have been the school kids that combined all of these ingredients together into a beautiful mess, or could it have been the cafeteria staff that decided to make a new creation or was it a beautiful accident in the culmination of 3 delicious ingredients coming together to form a heavenly dessert delight? I don’t know, but Eton Mess is one of those dessert urban legends that recipe dream books are made of. I like that it’s a mystery. In fact, I relish in the mystery.

Traditionally, Eton Mess is always prepared with fresh, ripe strawberries. But since I LOVE cherries and made this recipe during cherry season, it was to my delight to use cherries. I also took complete creative liberty to write a recipe that I would find delicious and thus why I included other flavor elements like the juice and marmalade. Feel free to choose your preferred fruit because I find that with whipped cream and meringue cookies, you really can’t go wrong.

Here’s my recipe:

Erica’s Eton Mess with Fresh Cherries

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh cherries
  • 1-2 TBSP white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cherry juice
  • 1 TBSP raspberry marmalade
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled meringue (either store-bought or made from scratch)
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups of lightly sweetened whipped cream (I made my whipped cream at home)

Preparation:

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In a large bowl, combine together the cherries and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Then add the cherry juice and raspberry marmalade and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl, crumble the meringue into bite size pieces.

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Then add the meringue piece and whipped cream into the cherry mixture and gently fold everything together until it is well combined.

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Serve in beautiful glasses and top with a few more cherries on top.

Heavenly…trust me…Heavenly.

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Creamy Rice Pudding

Creamy tender rice, lightly sweetened and warmly spiced with cinnamon, vanilla & nutmeg. 

 

Rice pudding is a favorite dessert of mine because it tastes so decadent but light at the same time. Plus, it’s super simple to make. Basically, if you can measure ingredients (or even eye-ball them) then you can make rice pudding because everything goes into the pot at one time and with occasional stirring, you have a beautiful dessert.

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Creamy Rice Pudding

Serves 4
  • 1/4 cup short grain rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 TBSP cream
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP sugar (add more to your preferred level of sweetness)
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, nuts or fruit

Preparation:

In a medium pot combine all of the ingredients together and stir.

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Place the pot over medium heat, slightly covered and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not stick.

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Remove from the heat and serve warm or pour it into a heat-safe bowl, covered with plastic wrap pressed against the rice pudding (to ensure that it does not form the layer of skin on top).

Serve cold if desired with whipped cream, nuts or fruit.

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Note: Depending on the consistency that you like your rice pudding, you may want to add more milk and/or cream. I always like to add extra but it’s totally about personal preference. Enjoy it as you wish!

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Bon Appetit!

Poetry is…

Poetry is…

by EE Winkler

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

with words I reconstruct my day and build dreams in the night

in a matter of moments I can be anywhere I want to be

with a few lines or verses I write a new story

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

since my childhood it has not betrayed through joy or through plight

it has been there to right my triumphs and comfort my despair

it never leaves me wondering if it really cares

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

fueled both by sorrow and joy do they simultaneously ignite

a sputtering of endless words that somehow coexist

to help my brain take my thoughts and make sense of all of it

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

no matter where I am it has been by my side

with a longing to convey the emotions that bang on the door of my heart

it is poetry that has remained the train for my feelings to embark

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Photo by Michael Mongin on Unsplash

Just for Today (Imagine)

Just For Today

by EE Winkler

Just for today imagine that you can’t lose

and that every wrong around you can be diffused

you don’t have to be led by the feelings at bay

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that hope is restored

in the things that you’ve always been longing for

no longer bound by the limitations you see or say

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that there are endless possibilities

to be the person that you always longed to be

not restricted in any single way

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that the end is near

not to keep you contained or bound in fear

but to finally give you a chance to really live beyond the zone in the grey

if you can imagine just for today.

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Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Black Eyed Peas for a Southern Style New Year Celebration

A savory Southern classic dish and the perfect way to ring in the New Year!

As a kid, it was never too unusual to me that we ate black-eyed peas at the beginning of the New Year. It wasn’t necessarily on New Year’s Day but sometime early in January. Although the tradition around eating black eyed peas for each new year is associated with luck, I don’t think that is why my parents actually prepared them. I think it was more about the fact that it was a nice tradition and a delicious but affordable dish for a large family.

What I love about black eyed peas is not just the fact that they remind me of home and my childhood but also, they are just so simple to prepare. With minimal ingredients and a bit of time, you’ve got a simple meal. Paired with rice or more traditionally, corn bread and collard greens, you really have a satisfying, hearty wintertime meal.

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Here’s the recipe:

Black Eyed Peas with Snaps & Bacon

  • 1 cup dry black eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup green beans (snapped into 1-2 inch pieces)
  • 2 TBSP cubed bacon
  • 4-5 cups of chicken broth (or water seasoned with chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (to taste)

Preparation:

Quick Soak for the Black Eyed Peas: Place the black eyed peas in a large pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil for 5 minutes and then cover. Allow the black eyed peas to soak for about 1.5 hours. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large pot, add the bacon and onion and sauté until the bacon is browned and onions are tender.

Then add the black eyed peas, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 2-3 cups of the chicken broth.

Bring the black eyed peas up to a medium boil and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more chicken broth or water as needed.

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Then add the green beans and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then remove from the heat and enjoy!

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Bon Appetit!

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Künefe (a sweet cheesy pastry)

A sweet & cheesy treat covered with crispy kadayif! Künefe is a treat found throughout Turkey & the Middle East.

 

One of my all time favorite Turkish desserts is künefe! It’s something that I enjoyed going out to eat but it is also something I learned to prepare when I attended culinary school in Turkey.

Like pizza, künefe is best enjoyed when it is hot and fresh. The cheesy is melted, the kadayif is crispy & buttery and the simple syrup, referred to as “sherbet,” is still bubbling. Mmmm!

If you’ve never tried it, I think you should find a place asap that sells it and give it a try. Künefe places in Turkey have perfected the art of the service. They specialize in a myriad of different types and make each künefe to order. At your table, they serve some seasonal fruit, kayamak (a sweet clotted cream) and shot glasses filled with milk. All of these items uniquely compliment and enhance the flavor of the künefe.

The beauty of künefe, is that you can make it at home pretty easily. You just need the kadayif, which I have found can be difficult to find in some countries even in the Middle East especially since there are different variations of künefe such as the one in Nablus that uses a finely ground kadayif instead of the shredded kind.

In southern Turkey, I love to visit the kadayif shops. They are small little shops filled with massive machines to make the kadayif. Once it’s made, when you walk in the shop you’ll find piles and piles of it. It looks like a golden wonderland!

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Here’s the recipe:

Peynirli Künefe

  • 4-5 cups of tel kadayif (shredded kadayif)
  • 1/3 c melted butter plus 2 TBSP for greasing the pan
  • 12 oz cheese (I used Hatay Peynir, a special Turkish cheese but you can substitute an unsalted mozerella; it needs to be a neutral cheese that melts well)
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 small lemon wedge (like the size that you put it iced tea)

Essential Tools

  • Künefe pan (Two are better than one, but I used one in my recipe) -Substitute: a 6-8 inch frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Pastry brush
  • large bowl
  • a small plate

Preparation:

Grease your künefe pan (or frying pan) with 1 TBSP of butter.

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In a small saucepan, prepare the sherbet (simple syrup) by combining 1/2 c white sugar with 3/4-1 c of water and the lemon wedge. Gently stir and place over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don’t want it to come to a rolling boil, just lightly simmer.

Place the kadayif in a bowl and drizzle over 1/3 cup of melted butter. Toss to evenly coat the kadayif.

Then layer half of the kadayif in the bottom of the künefe pan pressing it down to create an even layer.

Slice the cheese and then layer it evenly on top of the kadayif.

Cover the cheese with the remaining kadayif being sure that no cheese is exposed.

Using a small plate, press it down on top of the künefe to compress it.

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Now, it’s ready to the stove. Note: a gas stove is preferrable because you can have better control over the heat. But if you’re using an electric stove, place the heat on low, be patient and diligently watch your künefe so it doesn’t burn. When it’s ready to flip it should smell like browned butter not burnt butter.

Over a low flame, cook the künefe until golden brown on the bottom. (Note: this takes about 5-6 minutes but you can check it by gently lifting up a corner. If it’s golden brown, then it’s time to flip it.)

When it’s ready to flip, take a large plate (big enough to cover your pan) and place it on top of the künefe. Gently, with oven mitts holding the pan and the plate, flip the künefe to reveal the browned side up.

Then, place the pan back on the stove and using the pastry brush, coat it with the last tablespoon of butter.

Then carefully place the künefe back in the pan by placing the plate over the pan and gently moving it into the pan with a spatula.

Then cook the künefe again until it is golden brown on this side.

Remove from the heat, and place on a  heat proof surface.

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Gently stir the sherbet (simple syrup) again and then ladle it onto the künefe making sure it is fully covered. Note: It might seem decadent to top it with a sugar syrup but really this is the only sugar being used in the entire recipe so it actually has less sugar than my average cake recipe.

Serve & Enjoy immediately because it is sooooo delicious.

And of course, Afiyet Olsun Arkadaş!

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All photos & text by EE Winkler