what happens when you step outside of your comfort zone

Public speaking has always been a complete nightmare for me. Even just thinking about it makes my pulse quicken and I get that sweaty tingling feeling in my palms and the bottoms of my feet, similar to when fear of heights kicks in. Sometimes presentations go as planned, like when I stumbled my way through Public Speaking in college by pretending I loved it. There really is something to be said about how much your attitude influences your performance! Then there were the times like when I gave a presentation in one of my Spanish classes that I had thoroughly prepared for then literally forgot how to say all but one sentence in Spanish. I panicked and my brain forgot that I knew another language. Instant mortification. I cried silently for like 20 minutes in class, while the rest of the presentations continued, out of sheer embarrassment and frustration with myself knowing how proud I was of the presentation I had prepared, and kicking myself for failing.

Feel uncomfortable yet? I sure do.

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That one time I tandem-jumped out of a plane. Luckily the parachute opened.

As much as I would prefer to never speak in front of people again, all of my jobs and alternative source of income require my voice to be heard.

With WIC I have to teach group education classes which are the appointment types in between certification visits when moms and their children have to be seen in clinic by one of the nutritionists. I remember laughing out loud during training when the nutritionist told me I had to do that on a weekly basis. So now not only did I have to prick peoples’ fingers to draw blood to check iron levels, I also have to speak in front of a room full of people. Nine out of ten times this is a most unpleasant experience. It’s hard enough to speak in front of any room full of people let alone a room full of people who do not understand why you are wasting their time and look at you with absolute disgust. That’s if they will even look at you at all. But that is okay. I power through it with a smile on my face because I know the value of what I’m presenting. It’s also a job requirement.

My Spanish speaking skills are functional for WIC clinic because I’ve gotten used to the things I need to know how to say, and can make some guesses/gestures/google it when words are failing me. But after the situation I had in Spanish class where I utterly failed at communicating, I flat-out refused to teach the education classes in Spanish because I was terrified of a similar situation. After a year of putting it off, last month I finally got help translating the information into a Spanish lesson plan and taught my first class in Spanish. It did not go great or really even well but everyone was patient and polite with my not-so-perfect language skills and we got through it!

The first time I met with one of the owners of Strasburg Anytime Fitness about becoming their nutrition coach and teaching classes, I acknowledged how absolutely dreadful this sounded but I tucked that thought away quickly because I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. And I almost passed out the first time I taught. I spent hours upon hours creating a presentation including activities. There were no more than ten people listening to me talk but I have never felt more self-conscious in my entire life. I was speaking about nutrition for an hour and a half. I didn’t know if I had that in me and I couldn’t even remember what I had said by the time I finished. I received a lot of positive feed back and each class got easier and easier to teach.

Lastly, as a blogger I sometimes have an urgency to get a post up and available to my viewers and there are other times when I feel like I don’t ever want to let others inside my head again. It’s easier to hide behind the screen of my laptop and methodically place each word where I need it to be, but it’s still genuine Danielle talk. Every single time I publish and share my posts my anxiety goes through the roof because I have built a reputation and do not ever want to disappoint my readers.

Tonight I am overwhelmed with the stress of a crazy week. I’m maintaining my sanity and all but I got really annoyed with myself for having made a commitment to writing a weekly blog post. I didn’t want to do it. Today was one of those days where I wasn’t feeling overly conversational and outgoing. I managed to snag 30 minutes by myself in the lunch room in the middle of the day to just sit still and recuperate from a hectic morning. That’s not like me at all, I’m typically Ms. Sociable. So there was a battle in my head: Not Doing Something I Don’t Feel Like V. Staying True to Commitments. The latter won and I already feel great about my decision by this seven hundred and thirty eighth word.

In the past three days alone I’ve done three things that make me extremely uncomfortable but are required of me to continue on a path of/to success.I taught group ed, I taught a nutrition class and I’m posting my 5th blog post of 2016.

Step out of your comfort zone because:

  1. You never know what you are capable of without trying.
  2. You don’t become a better person without pushing your limits and finding out what you’re really made of.
  3. It makes for hilariously humbling stories when you do embarrassing things in front of other people.
  4. The hard stuff is the stuff you tend to be most proud of (and earn bragging rights for.)

Be brave, friends. And, “do the thing in which you think you cannot do.” **

**Unless it’s just something really dumb. Please don’t do that.

 

 

living with your parents in your mid twenties

 

It’s a very good thing I have no problem admitting that I was wrong, because I have to do it all the time. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that when I was in college I stated that I would NEVER move back home because I was independent and ready to be on my own. Well here I am one year and eight months after graduation living at home. Is there an end to this/start to my true independence in sight? Ha ha ha. No.

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After we lost some precious water on a Grand Canyon hike. Ironically we all still live at home.

While I was in school I obviously heard of lots of people graduating and not finding jobs in their field, (including my boyfriend) but per usual I assumed that wouldn’t happen to me. I would get my internship, get my RD and get a job. And none of that would include moving back into one of my parent’s homes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be living rent/utility free and occasionally being fed for free/getting to pick through groceries the house is regularly stocked with. I think I really got the best of this situation because my dad is happy I live here considering I didn’t live with him for about 17 years of my life. He’s also pretty newly married and I think my stepmom likes the chance to be able to spend time with and get to know me as well. As lucky I am for the freedom I have to come and go as I please without much questioning, a half bath and bedroom which is large enough for a walk in closet, living room and office area inside of it, I wish I lived on my own.

I think a lot of it stems from my expectations I have for myself that I should be on my own at this point. I also desire to be able to walk around with less than the appropriate level of clothing on, decorate how I please, take a shower whenever I want and not having to feel guilty for hiding in my room when I come home from a long day and do not have the desire to converse with anyone.

Most of the time when I’m frustrated with other people over something relatively petty, it’s because there’s something going on with me and I take that inner frustration that I don’t understand, let it build and boom I’m mad about something unrelated to the issue. Case in point, I want to be on my own and can’t. Why can’t I?? Because I need to stay at my current job until I find out about internships for one thing. I do have two separate projects I’m working on to increase income doing things I love but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m frustrated that I don’t make enough money to be independent and it’s going to be a while until I get there. So instead of pouting until 20?? I’m trying to think positively about it.

I’ve successfully been operating financially under a budget which is laid out as my monthly ledger and kept nearby in my planner at all times. My savings account is ridiculously pathetic and my credit card debt is hefty because the other thing I was wrong about was guessing what my tax return would be. Last year after working minimally part time and starting a full-time job in 2014, I got a tax return 4x the size of anything I’d ever seen. In my uninformed state of pretending so hard to be a real adult, I figured working twelve months at that job and paying even more taxes I should get a much nicer refund – because I don’t make enough to live on my own as it is. This kind of thinking lent to easing my mind at using credit cards for purchases I knew I couldn’t pay off immediately because I thought I would be getting a lump sum and paying it off anyway. The reality check came today when my accountant told me my refund is exactly the same as last year. I did not do my homework on taxes and my financial status is suffering now because of it.

I really need to do some rethinking about my spending which is totally up in the air for what this year will look like depending on acceptance to internships. Thankfully, I have basically completely replaced my wardrobe now from having lost so much weight and as soon as my retail credit cards are paid off that will be behind me. I won’t be spending thousands and thousands of dollars on clothing this year… at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I have to be honest with my readers. I still haven’t freaking started meditating yet. I’m embarrassed to admit that but when I do I think I’m going to make my mantra this quote I’ve had saved in my phone for a while, “Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” This has to help ease my mind.

Something’s gotta give and looking at how the past year has gone I’m not so sure it’s gonna be a change in my financial status for the better. I have all my basic needs met and more so I just need to keep doing my best every day to get where I need to be.

white chocolate coconut ganache filled cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream

Last week was a week of “it’s not goodbye it’s see you later.” The day after one of my best friends moved to Africa, one of my awesome coworkers left us for a new job. As excited as I am for her and new opportunities, she will be truly missed because her presence always has a tendency to make the day that much better. We had a little farewell breakfast for her but I brought cupcakes, cause that’s what I do 😉 She requested coconut and vanilla flavors so I combined the two for a vanilla cupcake filled with a white chocolate coconut ganache topped with vanilla bean buttercream frosting.

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. . . . . . .

Cupcakes

I have yet to develop my own cake recipe so for now I rely on other delicious ones. This buttermilk vanilla cake recipe didn’t explain cupcakes but it made 18 and the time was pretty spot on. Once cupcakes are done, cool and core centers.

White Chocolate Coconut Ganache Filling

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup lite coconut milk (shelf-stable)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes**

The result of this incredible cupcake filling was a complete accident/miracle. For some reason I always seem to forget that the other important detail to making a ganache besides an equal ratio of liquid to chocolate is that that liquid needs to be cream. I used coconut milk and it did not set. I put it in the freezer, nada. I gave up and left it in the fridge overnight and still it didn’t thicken. I had about 90 minutes to figure out a solution so I dumped the majority of the bag of coconut flakes into the bowl and it thickened the mixture and came out SO perfect for a cupcake filling.

**I do apologize for not supplying a more exact measurement of coconut flakes but I was in such a panic to figure out how to thicken the filling I just dumped a bunch of coconut flakes in the bowl and I think that’s about how much.

Fill the cooled cupcake centers with about a TBSP of filling.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 TBSP lite coconut milk (leftover from filling)
  • 2 TBSP cow’s milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

Beat butter adding 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time. Around the 4th addition of powdered  add in milks. Scrape bowl after every cup of powdered sugar is added. If you’ve never used a vanilla bean before, read carefully: cut it in half and scrape the insides out with a spoon. Add to frosting. Pipe frosting and top with coconut flakes.

Another mishap of these cupcakes was that I refrigerated the frosting overnight because it was late and I needed to sleep instead of waiting around to frost cupcakes. When the frosting came out it was very thick and not pipe-able at all. I waited about an hour for it to thaw and transported it to work in a Ziploc baggie with the tip cut off. While piping the frosting, the bag popped and I had to shape the frosting in my (clean) hands before placing a dollop on top of each cupcake. Three of them turned out okay and that’s what I used to take my picture on a bright green paper plate in the office kitchen. So I would definitely recommend piping immediately and then refrigerating!

. . . . . . .

The adventure that was making these cupcakes was ridiculous but they turned out perfectly and I even had a sweet note waiting for me when I got back from my lunch break from a coworker.

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Hopefully reading this ahead of time will result in a much less stressful process getting to the finished product. Enjoy!

thoughts you have when one of your best friends is moving to Ethiopia for 27 months

This is new territory for me. I agreed to be a personal reference and wrote, which I of course think was, a bangin’ letter for my friend to get accepted into the Peace Corps. I didn’t really comprehend at the time that if he gets accepted he’s going to move away for a long time. And it definitely didn’t sink in that he may be moving to a remote location where internet access is crappy and extremely limited. Or that that place would be Ethiopia.

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In the midst of a failed attempt at acroyoga in San Diego. Typical.

I’ve constantly had to remind myself that this isn’t about me, it’s about my friend’s incredible and selfless opportunity to go out and make a difference in the world. But it’s pretty difficult to separate yourself from the situation when this person is one of your best friends and not being able to see him or have regular communication is a depressing thought.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in a situation like this. Two nights before leaving Spain when I studied abroad, I had to say goodbye to my best friend on the trip. The students who went were a bunch of strangers who quickly became the closest of friends and experienced so many things together that it seemed almost impossible to imagine a time when we weren’t a weird little, fun-loving family trying to survive living life to the absolute fullest. This was in a time of my life where I needed a revival and Spain gave me that, along with a friendship I’ve never replicated. I’m sure it’s pretty easy to understand then how heartbreaking it was to say goodbye to my favorite person on that trip. In typical Danielle fashion, I drunkenly cried myself to sleep on the bathroom floor of the hotel. I wasn’t incoherent however. I was sobbing and I felt just as broken as I was before I began the trip because I knew nothing was ever going to be the same after we woke up the next day. But that friend came in the bathroom and sat on the floor with me and told me it was okay, we would keep in touch and I needed to be happy for him for the opportunity he had to move to Puerto Rico because that’s what friends do. That was a pretty sobering statement. That group stayed in touch regularly for a while and then it got longer and longer between meeting up or texting. I miss them every day, but it’s understandable. We all have separate lives and we all had to go back to them. They will always hold a special part in my heart and I will never cease to enjoy reminiscing Spain.

So that taught me something; to be grateful for the experiences you have that make you feel so alive and give you so much joy and whatever you do, do not let the pain of no longer having that jade your memories or cause you to stop chasing a fulfilling life.

And that brings me right back to Michael. He is a friend I can never replace. He met me at a party when I was being a wild and crazy, drunken girl. My friend put him on babysitting duty so she could have fun and not deal with me. He did just that, and never judged me. He has listened to and read a hundred conversations about the exact same thing and has never gotten annoyed with me for needing to vent that one hundredth and first time. He has laughed with me about things nobody else could possibly find funny, traveled across the country with me, supported me in everything I’ve done, has held my hand when I was scared and most importantly gave me his American flag hat because I wanted to keep that as a token of our friendship. He did that while he was dressed as Santa Clause and pulled it out of his “toy sack.” He’s a gem.

As much as it saddens me to send him off to Ethiopia not knowing the next time I will hear from him, I do know that we will pick right back up where we left off. I’m proud to be best friends with somebody as amazing as Michael and I am proud of myself for understanding that just because things change doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

On Saturday when a few of us spent the day together before dropping him off at his hotel, we got matching Alex and Ani (except Michael cause he’s not actually a girl) bracelets of a compass. This bracelet signifies objective, direction and transition.

We will all go in different directions, be there for each other in times of transition and our objective is to be friends forever. Cause that’s what friends do.

 

 

 

five life lessons I learned in 2015

 

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Exactly a year ago today, I posted my first ever reflection post. I actually remember shaking with nervousness when I hit publish because I had absolutely no idea what door I was opening. The response I got was overwhelming. No, unfortunately, I did not become a professional blogger who got to quit her job to rake in the dough at home, but I did get some incredible feedback and built relationships with people online and in real life because I let the world (my several hundred FB friends) know what’s going on inside my head.

Anyway, since it’s a year later I figured another “life lessons” post was fitting because I strive to be the best me I can be and it’s really cool to look back and see how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned. So here goes.

1) Less partying = better life quality.

I’ve come a long way in the past year with my issue with alcohol. I’m not going to rehash it, but I am proud to report there have only been two instances in this entire year where I even remotely embarrassed myself being a drunken fool. And I’m confident one of those doesn’t really count. The lifestyle I had developed was easy. For one, I literally was easy, but what I’m getting at is that it’s easier to slip away into a drunken paradise that separates you from everything you have to think and worry about than it is to be a real, functioning person. There have been so many times where I daydreamed of going back to my old ways but I’m quick to snap out of that and remember how much better life is as a responsible adult who can let loose and have some tequila every now and then but doesn’t let that rule her life.

2) I still need to take the time to quiet my mind.

An entire year has gone by since I listed that same lesson. I wrote a post in June about how I was going to stray from my social media addiction and start meditating daily. I’ve had endless conversations about how much I want to. I’ve even gone so far as to download two apps onto my phone to guide me in meditation and I haven’t done a darn thing. It all goes back to the stages of change. I know the benefits, I know I need to do it and how much better things could be if I could quiet the thoughts racing through my mind like Olympic athletes, but I’m just not ready to take the action. I’m hoping I will make that change in 2016.

3) I deserve to be loved.

I’ve alluded to my issues a few times about understanding that I deserve to be loved and treated well. It stems from a long list of things I am not quite ready to share with the entire world, but regardless it exists. My walls go up constantly. I’m defensive and sometimes down right mean because that’s what I’ve learned to do to “protect” myself since my boyfriend and I broke up in 2012 and I quickly went down a treacherously slippery slope of bad choices that led to an even more broken heart every single time. I was extremely cautious on getting back together because I was afraid that I was too broken and that I don’t deserve someone like him and also that I couldn’t ever bare to lose someone I care about that much again. We still have a long road ahead of us but the patience and kindness he has shown me and the countless times he tells me never to forget how much he loves me is finally starting to sink in. I’m letting him back in but this time I feel a little bit safer because I know I am able to survive on my own and once you get to that place that’s when I believe you can truly let someone else in.

4) Work sucks, I know.

Channeling some Blink 182 here. The struggle I’ve had with my job this past year is not something I can divulge many details of because I still work there and need to keep my job, but it’s far from a secret that I’m unhappy there. For almost this entire year I’ve been convinced that something is wrong with me because of the struggles I’m having and every single person I talk to tells me it’s like that everywhere. But I’m convinced I can and will find a job I fit better in and I refuse to lose sight of that. In no way do I mean to insult anyone who loves it there or give the impression that I wish I never worked there. I’ve learned so many things and met so many incredible people. WIC will truly always hold a special place in my heart regardless of the negatives. I’ve continually beat myself up over not having a better attitude about it and not being able to look more towards the bright side. I finally had the strength to own who I am and what I want and accept that it’s not what I’m doing currently and to not force myself to pretend anymore simply to please others. I’m saying sorry less, remember?

5) Reading is important.

I purchased so many books over the past year and got through one of them. My attention span is horrible. I can barely sit down to read because I’m so used to changing from 5 or 6 separate screens on my phone or computer, hurrying to get to the most interesting one and on the occasion where nothing is interesting I start the cycle over and over. There was a time in my life where I was a total book-nerd and now I’m a total internet addict. It’s so nice to read off of paper and give my eyes a break from the computer screen. This is one example of where I want to regress; to someone who does not care about her phone as if it’s as vital to her life as her heartbeat. In turn I believe it will make me a better person, especially in the eyes of every single person I’ve ever annoyed by giving more attention to a piece of technology than a living person in front of me.

There you have it, five things that stand out to me about what I figured out this year. Really excited to see what 2016 brings! Happy New Year!

Btw, I have a goal of posting once a week this year. I hope you enjoyed the first one!

 

when fear of failing gets in the way of your success

What’s easier than doing something difficult? Not doing it. Boom, procrastination is born.

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But you always look more productive with a cup of coffee in your hand.

A few years back I found myself in a pair of shoes very similar to the ones I’m in now. They were in reality probably almost the same style and color as the boots I’m wearing today, but that’s besides the point.

Applying to internships. I explained in a post this summer all about my pursuit of becoming an RD and how after not getting accepted to the WIC program I have, after many, many conversations with patient people who love me dearly and a lot of deep thought, *announced in an official voice* made the decision to apply to the match program. That was my plan in Winter 2013/2014 when I put my application off and allowed the difficulty of writing my personal statements lead me to believe that the time wasn’t right and that I was making a mistake. I am relatively confident that was the case and am happy things have gone the way they have, but here I am two years later and I’m feeling the same way. I am absolutely terrified to apply, mainly for the fear of rejection. It’s happened once and I don’t even know what I will do if I get turned down again. I’m not sure how to get the message across of how badly I want this and how much I believe I deserve it and would be a great intern. So I do other things like peruse all my social media accounts and even rejoin Twitter. I begin an addiction to a podcast and commit to cooking meals for my grandfather to help him reduce his sodium content. I make plans for every weekend coming up and take an entire day to update my resume and do nothing with it.

Seriously what is the deal!?

The deadline is February 15th and I have so much to get done by that date. Because of the cost of internships, the fact that I took on a hefty car payment/insurance combo last February and have no savings account, I need an internship that I do not need to relocate for and add rent on top of all the other bills I’m going to need a small miracle to handle. Luckily, there are options. They’re called distance programs and they allow you to set up your community, clinical and food service rotations by finding RD preceptors who are willing to help you further your career and setting up your own 6-12 month schedule to fill in with these rotations while meeting specific requirements. Just thinking about that makes my pulse quicken and makes it difficult to breathe. I already have asthma and a cold so the air feels pretty thin over here. The more stressed I become, the more I want to put off this gigantic project I have ahead of me. It’s a vicious cycle getting me absolutely nowhere.

It’s pretty insane how human nature works this way for some people. I’m not sure if it’s learned behavior or innate. I am not a big proponent of New Year’s resolutions because I think if you need to make a change you should do it now. However, since January first happens to be three short days from now I think this is becoming a New Year’s resolution on accident like my first ever reflection post was at the beginning of this year.

Winston Churchill said, “success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” And I’d like to add that everything seems to happen for a reason. Don’t be held back by fear of things not going as planned, let that fear make you work harder and inspire you to reach even further.

I need to stop blogging and work on my applications. Happy New Year, everybody!

P.S.

If you are a loyal reader of my blog, I have some exciting new things coming in 2016. Hope you join me!

 

 

23 things on being 23

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I’m merely five days away from being one year younger than a quarter of a century. But really, where has the time gone? It never ceases to amaze me the things I learn about myself and life with each year that goes by. Here’s a brief recap on year 23.

  1. You still don’t know what a decent savings account looks like but are hoping to figure that one out before you’re 30.
  2. You still won’t drink milk without Nesquick or espresso in it so you’re really just a sophisticated child.
  3. You ACTUALLY can make lifestyle changes for the better, and have.
  4. You should not have thrown away all of your skinny clothes. Against all odds you are once again a size 0. A size 0 with hips. Being 23 is confusing.
  5. Coworkers are not all going to be your built-in best friends. And that is okay.
  6. Not everybody is going to like you. And that is also okay.
  7. Friendships that were once broken can be fixed and become better than ever before. It makes you realize how stupid the things you once were willing to throw away a meaningful friendship for really are.
  8. Family is truly the most important. Even if those people come into your life in your twenties and love you despite all your flaws. Shout-out to the stepmom and bros.
  9. Putting up walls and pretending to be a coldhearted b**** to avoid getting hurt or let down again is 100% a waste of your time. YOLO….you still say YOLO.
  10. Let it go. And forever sing that in your head like Elsa in that song from a movie you’ve never seen but somehow know every word to anyway.
  11. You’ve taken your judgey cap off once and for all because it finally sunk in that literally every judgement you’ve made on a person has not been adequately correct.
  12. You look better with highlights and it’s worth the money to feel that much better about yourself when you look in the mirror or take a selfie 😉
  13. You still don’t know how you feel about selfies or yourself for taking them.
  14. You got back together with the love of your life and it’s the best and most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to you because you know what it is like to lose that person and do not ever want to feel that pain again but also know you can’t risk living without him and having an incredible life together.
  15. T-Swift still knows how to sing the songs that best describe your life. As a basic, dramatic and very white girl. And when you drink a lot of tequila you may have four people posting you interpretive dancing to her songs on their snap chat stories all at once. That may be the closest you ever get to being as famous as T-Swift herself.
  16. You still miss Spain and your Spain friends just like you left yesterday. It’s painful and beautiful and something you’re actually glad nobody else could ever understand. Cause you can’t sit with us.
  17. But your fram is there every day just a group text away and they are your ride or die. For life.
  18. You despise yellow jackets and they might actually be out to get you.
  19. You earned the credentials, Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered. GO YOU!
  20. Las Vegas turned out to be about as great as the shot of Sambuca you got purchased for yourself because of your brilliant British accent skills but you’d never change a single thing about that ridiculous night.
  21. You realized how much more intelligent staying in the loop on world events makes you sound and enjoy reading the Skimm every morning with your coffee from the Keurig you purchased like an adult this year. Treat yourself.
  22. You had a participant tell you how much you meant to her and how much she’d miss you when you transferred to another office. And you realized how you actually can touch and change lives just by caring and being kind even though most people you interact with daily make you want to live on a deserted island.
  23. Your life is actually pretty amazing so be sure to go into 24 with less complaints and a more grateful heart. Cause we’re never guaranteed another day, let alone another birthday.

life in color

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Over the past year I’ve developed the ability to be really in tune with my emotions and know exactly why I react the way that I do, but have yet to be able to stop. I guess that’s because I’m human. *Sigh.* As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I beat myself up about this kind of stuff because I strive for perfection and I expect A LOT out of myself, I care about everything I do, being so self-aware is exhausting. Which, as long as I can keep it positive and remember that I have a lot of great qualities to counter-balance my flaws, I’m still reaching for the level-headed, thinks-before-I-speak, calm stars.

I’ve started to wonder lately where to draw the the line at working towards my best self and thinking deeply on some things I’ve been through, including analyzing every second I can remember of my life and events that stand out in memory to determine if I did that right thing. My boyfriend likes to say a line that he finds comforting and I find infuriating – “it could be worse.” Oh that phrase can really make my blood boil because it doesn’t matter if it could be worse, I’m clearly not okay with the situation I’ve found myself in and would like to as detached from it as possible. Like, bye Felicia. And sometimes I just want to vent about it which is a problem with having your best friend be your boyfriend, he wants to solve things and realizing your problem could be worse is helpful in rationalizing and finding solutions, not so much in having a pity party.

Who would we be if the negative things that happened to us in the past didn’t actually happen?

Part of who my past has made me has lead me to put up walls to avoid future hurt, unfortunately the way I build them up has never proven to be useful. What I need to do is build a strong foundation for myself to stand on to avoid letting people in that I shouldn’t and taking the careful steps with those I should. I’m getting tired of feeling so damaged as a whole and letting that creep into my thoughts on a regular basis.

Getting back to my question, I 100% believe I’m a better person from things that have happened to me in my past. So why do I have such a hard time letting go of the negative qualities that were cultivated in the very same soil my strengths flourished?

All of this has been on my mind lately for a handful of reasons. I’ve talked a lot in past posts about the changes I’ve had to force myself into accepting post-graduation and my resistance to them. Lately things have turned around a little bit and a lot of it is my attitude. I’ve started to appreciate the fact that I am living rent free in a nice home where I have my own space to do me as well as have the opportunity to grow closer to my family, including a stepmom and two stepbrothers.

My boyfriend also selflessly moved to Virginia to take a less than optimal job in order to be within 45 minutes of me. I’ve been dreaming of this day since I found out he was moving back home to NJ within the first few months of us dating in 2010. I honestly never stopped hoping he’d come back because it’s hard to not want a person you never stop loving to be nearby. We had talked about moving in together immediately to save money and to make up for all the lost time of long distance and being broken up. But as the days went by I realized I wanted to date my boyfriend without the pressure of living together. He was totally cool with that which really made me fall even more in love. I’ve been a challenge though. I’m not used to being doted on and given affection so often because I’ve never been in a genuinely functional relationship with someone I lived close enough to for any sense of normalcy. Being loved scares me because I don’t want to get left and I have presented quite a fight with my deep emotional trauma related mood swings. Each day we’re together it gets a little easier for me and we’re doing better than ever before – and we’ve never been “bad” so it’s pretty incredible.

At work I’m learning more and more every day how to be an adultier adult than the one Virginia Tech spit out May 2014 (not a knock at my alma mater at all!) and to not take personally what a few people think, say and feel towards me. My demeanor is of course a lot more professional but it’s been interesting learning where to draw the line between coworker and friend (I seriously need to read the book on boundaries that is within eyesight of me right now!) I am putting an active effort into not taking home what happens at work and to not let anything that’s going on in my life from here on out cause me to fall into such a pit of despair that it takes me years to climb out. Trying to stay level-headed, here.

This week seemed like a fitting time for a post like this because I am thankful for the life I live including the bad that has happened and that will always continue to arise, but sometimes I forget that and feel extremely ungrateful, overwhelmed and alone. I’m not. I do not have to be defined by my past in a negative way, and should try and remember that others are probably paying a lot less attention to everything I do and say than I imagine and there is no need to be so self-conscious all the time. I decided to change my reflection pictures from black and white to color from here on out because while what’s done may be done, it’s a part of who I am today and a colorful life sounds a heck of a lot better than one of black and white.

chocolate “dirt & worm” cupcakes

 

This year for Halloween I requested that all my favorite people come to a party I was throwing at my house wearing 90’s themed costumes. And everybody went with it. I was preparing for this event for months ahead of time, and the week before I thought I was going to lose my mind because there were just not enough hours in the day to work, get to the gym, study for my exam coming up, hang fake cob webs (aka “freaky fabric”) all over my house and try not to burn all of my fingers with the hot glue gun. But I can’t even explain how happy it made me to be the hostess with everyone at my house celebrating, especially when two of them showed up as 90-year-olds in full costume, makeup and character. Last minute I realized that it was probably going to be expected of me to have baked goods so I put my own spin on this Halloween classic and they turned out to be a hit!

gummywormcupcake

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Cupcakes

My go-to Hershey’s recipe. I had a little of both dark chocolate and milk chocolate cocoa powder left so I used a mixture, which was a great decision taste and appearance-wise. Cool and core centers.

Godiva Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 TBSP Godiva chocolate liquor

I still do not have a double boiler so I cheat on this. Warm whipping cream in a pan over low heat on the stove. Place chocolate chips and liquor in a bowl. Once cream is warm pour over chocolate mixture, whisk to combine. Put in fridge to set until a little firmer but now solid. Once set, scoop about a TBSP into the center of each cupcake.

Chocolate Godiva Liquor Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar (depending on desired texture)
  • 2 TBSP Godiva chocolate liquor
  • 2-3 TBSP cocoa powder (should turn the frosting gray)

Cream softened butter and add powdered sugar a cup at a time, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add cocoa powder and chocolate liquor, mix until combined.

Topping

  • 1 package of oreos, smashed into small pieces/crumbs
  • 24-30 gummy worms (I made big cupcakes and only needed 24, recipe calls for 30)

Pipe a bit of frosting onto each cupcake and spread to cover the whole top. Sprinkle oreo crumbs onto each cupcake. Top with a gummy worm.

Enjoy!

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One of my close friends and fellow bloggers came to my party and has a post about all the other recipes including Candy Corn Jello Shooters, Witch’s Couldren and Polyjuice Potion punches as well as an amazing sangria she made and quite the experience with some apple shooters. Check those recipes out for next year’s celebration (or the sangria/apple shooters anytime) below!

suchacliche

 

apple pie cupcakes

applepiecupcakes

Way back five years ago, the first time my boyfriend took me home to meet his family, we went apple picking in New York. Three falls in a row we visited the orchard – it had become tradition and it easily became one of my favorite things to do out of the entire year. That orchard has lent to a lot of precious memories and I was beyond excited to go back this year after two years missing out. This weekend was the first one they were open for the you-pick. We grabbed our outrageously-priced bag and wandered the orchard hand-in-hand grabbing (and me also knocking too many on the ground) the most perfect apples.

apples

Every year we went in the past we came home and made apple pies. Mixing it up this year with an original recipe for apple pie cupcakes!

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Cupcakes

I used the same basic white cake recipe as I have in previous recipes. This batter comes out thick and makes about 16 cupcakes.

Apple Pie Filling

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Bring water and granulated sugar to a boil. Once the mixture starts to thicken, add apples and cook until desired soft texture is achieved. Add cinnamon and brown sugar. Remove from heat.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8oz pack light cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream softened cream cheese and butter together. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla.

Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Topping

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 TBSP butter

Melt butter over low heat, add oat mixture. Stir continuously for several minutes until slightly crispy. Lay on a plate covered with paper towels (to soak up the moisture) to cool. Store in an airtight container.

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Once the cupcakes cool, remove the centers, fill with cooked apples and frost. I would add the crumble right before serving to avoid the oats soaking up moisture from the frosting and getting soggy. Store in fridge.

applepiebreakdown

Enjoy!!