Month: June 2014

Remembering the Positives

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill

After a week when my shortcomings seemed glaringly obvious at every turn, I was reminded that my ADHD is more than just a series of challenges. No, it’s more than that. It gives me the opportunity to do and think and be differently than others are able. And in that sense, ADD is a tool. An asset. Better yet, it’s a gift. The trick is to harness that tool appropriately The question is, what are the benefits? And how do I use them? For me, it means I’m always interested in many things…yes, that means there is sometimes a lack of focus. But it keeps things interesting and allows me to respond to situations with a wide array of background information that might not seem related. But that added — and often creative –perspective is oh so powerful. While I might not be able to focus wonderfully on one task for an inordinate amount of time, the number of things constantly swimming around in my head actually allow for better multitasking…I could point to the number of activities that I attempt to do in the car while driving as an example, but that might get me in trouble. 😉

pic - thought bubbles
Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sure it leaves messes behind and can be frustrating, but, for today, I’m choosing to be thankful and remind myself of the positives. And sometimes that choice makes all the difference in the world. Do you, or someone you care about have ADD/ADHD? Have you thought of it as an asset or  just a challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Cupcake Shoes and Information Overload

The last couple of days I’ve been utterly disappointed and frustrated with myself and my lack of focus.

Things always seem to take longer than I think they will.

And today (I began writing on Saturday, in case you’re wondering), I am (finally) going to bake those cupcakes that I promised for a friend’s birthday – no more excuses, her big day is tomorrow! And I’ll double it so there are some for the family, too. After all, Father’s day is right around the corner…

But like I said, I’m discouraged with how inexplicably long things seem to take me. So I was looking at this gluten free vanilla cupcake recipe. It claims to take 8 minutes of prep…and 19 min to bake. Now obviously, my bake time will be different, since I’m doubling the recipe.

But here’s the goal…16 minutes prep time. Double the ingredients, double the time for prep. I don’t want to be overambitious (Boyfriend says 24 would still be a win…and he’s right, unfortunately). Nothing like making a little game of things to lighten the spirits, eh?

So, I know I’ve got all the ingredients…already checked. Just need to gather them. Measuring cups are clean and out, milk and butter have been brought to room temperature, music is on, and a glass of wine has been poured (have I mentioned it’s been a long week?).

vino

I promise to keep you updated as time passes (maybe after 16 minutes…I’m sure you understand. In it to win it, right?).

So here goes….commence the mess baking.

Well, I got the first batch in at

 

Timer

….And that was moving as fast as I could. Perhaps there was some sloppiness that resulted…It’s now been 19 more minutes of tidying and spooning out the last of the batter as “batch one” was in the oven… I just took them out.

 

blank slate cupcakes

What do you think? The one on the back end needs a little more time, but I didn’t want to risk burning his friends. I suppose they’re actually his siblings. Hmmm…

ANYHOW…back to the timer. I got the other two batches in the oven pretty quickly….but it’s after that that things went downhill. The actual cupcakes only took 27 minutes, but the decorating. Well, that’s a whole other story…

While they were baking, I started on the long decorating process. You see, dear readers, the friend had requested particular cupcakes. And they required a bit more time and attention than your average cupcake swirl decorations. I was up for the challenge, but didn’t anticipate how long it would take…or how overwhelmed I would get.. But that’s not the cupcakes’ fault. Leave them out of this.

In fact, I was super frustrated while at the store and then when I got home…I spent waaaay too much money at the store. Had too many supplies, and still wasn’t sure exactly what I was even doing. Recipe for success, right? Nope. Just ask Boyfriend…he’ll tell you how crazy I was.

BUT as he kept reminding me, none of these things was the end of the world.

Fast forward to Sunday…On the car ride home, Boyfriend and I listened to a telecast of a seminar on ADD and motivation (yes, we fully acknowledge that we’re nerds. But luckily he’s a bigger nerd, so when I want to listen to something like this, he just rolls with it. And YES, we do know that most people just listen to music. We are also quite adept at singing along to the songs on the radio, so don’t worry too much about us).

I might write more commentary at some point on the seminar, but a couple of things did stand out. Particularly, the idea that our distracting world makes our weaknesses that much more obvious. The ADD struggle is one with information.

And it struck me…this was my problem. Too much information. You see, I had not one, but like ten cupcake combos in my head. Just as an example….

Friend wants vanilla cupcakes. I don’t have a good GF vanilla cupcake recipe…[searches online for recipe…gets distracted by other things on pinterest. And other yummy recipes on GF baking blog]. Funfetti vanilla cupcakes should work. But she wants this shoe style design…should I try to find the confetti to make them funfetti inside? That seems like lots of work. Oh, I was going to fill them. But with chocolate or strawberry? How ‘bout both. Well, I have the chocolate, but need to go to store for topping. Oh, I haven’t decided on frosting. I want to make that swiss meringue buttercream. But that has ganache topping to finish, and I can’t put that on shoes. Well, maybe still… Oh, maybe I should make ganache to fill the cupcakes instead of the pudding.!!! But that will take forever. But SOOOOOO GOOOD…Or there’s a vanilla frosting recipe to try here. That has flour in it?! Weird. I like the cream cheese frosting from a few weeks ago, but  that wasn’t as stiff as I would’ve liked, and these have to hold well. Should I buy gumpaste to make fondant flower decorations? Save time, see if the store has any. Oh, how about spray on food coloring. That’ll save time and effort. And everything will be same color. I have white pearl sprinkles already, but maybe these silver/grey ones would work better with purple frosting. And sprinkles. I have sprinkles. What on earth am I going to use to decorate the shoes???

And on it went. The problem with this is that not only did I not have a focus, but I also had trouble actually making a decision. And once the decision had been made I would forget and either start the mental process over OR purchase the wrong ingredients. For example, because I mistakenly thought I was making a meringue, Boyfriend now has an extra 18 eggs in the never-enough-space-for-what-we-need-refrigerator. He’s thrilled. But he’ll be fine once I make something tasty for him with the extras. 😉

Anyhow. You can see how there’s waaaaay too much information floating around haphazardly in my head. And Saturday, all of those thoughts got the best of me.

BUT!!! Once I was able to focus and zero in on what I was doing, things got a lot better. Sure there were still things that frustrated me about the process (don’t even ask me about the strawberry filling disaster. Suffice it to say…be sure to always blend your strawberries…those chunks don’t really work that well in the Wilton #230 decorating tip. Just a word to the wise…explosions may occur. No, really, strawberry preserves EVERYWHERE. And no, I didn’t take a picture for you…because *I* was covered in strawberry as well…), but I actually enjoyed working on the small details.

And, also, it’s amazing how getting a good night’s rest (after like 7 hours of working) helps me to gain a little bit of perspective. (ya think!?!?!)

The question for next time is this: how do I pare down the information that’s rolling around in my head and focus in on one thing. Perhaps making a shopping list would help, though I hate to admit it (and am unlikely to remember to do, if I’m being honest, sorry Boyfriend). But even more than that…learning to simplify my projects would help immensely. I think I allow myself too many options.

So. Next time, this is my goal: to have ONE design objective decided upon before going to the store. And only TWO ways of accomplishing this goal in mind. Not 72. With 39 more backup plans ready and waiting in the wings.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

~J.

 

P.S. In case you’re just dying to see the end result, here are some pictures of how the cupcakes turned out.

These are half decorated - before adding any toppers or turning them into shoes...The different colors mean different fillings
These are half decorated – before adding any toppers or turning them into shoes…The different colors mean different fillings
poppies
poppies?…well, originally supposed to be roses, but I changed my mind. these were easier. and still cute
Ribbon shoe
So bummed I didn’t notice that this pic was blurry. The ribbon bow shoes were my favorites
pointy flower
Fun flowers… you can see the heel on this one wasn’t cooperating
no topper just simple
I decided to keep one “pair” plain and simple.
carnation
This carnation looks a bit wilty. It looked better in person…I promise

Stuck

I’ve had a productive couple of days, my dear friends. But sometimes that focus results in exhaustion.

For the last three days, I’ve left work planning to bake. But once again, after leaving class, I find myself uninterested in the prospect. It seems like so much work. Like, a LOT of work. I have to decide which recipe to use, make sure I have all of the ingredients, gather the supplies, clean the ones I used for class and haven’t had a chance to clean, and then I have to actually make the recipe. Not to mention that I also need to make and color the icing. And fondant/gum paste for some smaller details. And that’s all before cleanup. Oy.

Seriously. Whose idea was this, anyway?!?!

Perhaps, my lovely readers, you have, with this seemingly silly admission, dubbed me as “lazy.” And I won’t deny that I am a little bit.

But I also think there is more going on. The sheer act of starting. Of getting to and making all of those small decisions. It’s a little overwhelming.

I’m reminded of a book that I read (well, part of it, anyway) that talked about how to organize your house if you have ADD. Things that seem like extra steps make small tasks seem…insurmountable. For example, I have a set of drawers where I keep my socks. But the book recommended having open storage, so that there is nothing to open every time I need to put something away. And to store things where you actually use them…

And in thinking of this, I think I know part of the problem. You see, dear reader, I eat gluten free (for the duration of a little test I’m doing, at least…I’ll write about that one day soon. I promise), but no one else in my house does. That means that all my stuff gets put on a shelf separated from the items containing gluten, etc.

Well, this was fine for awhile. But as I’ve started baking more, my repertoire of supplies has expanded…drastically. I now how a half bookshelf of supplies that’s overflowing and contains maybe half of my things. So, every time I want to bake, I have to go FIND the supplies. Where have they been stored most recently? Do I still have enough of X, Y, and Z supplies to actually make my recipe? And there are some funny ingredients that no one else would even look for, so if they’re not on hand, they won’t go on a store list…do you know when I last made a list for the store? Ha.

Except when Boyfriend makes me. But that’s usually for a specific meal. Anyhow…

The question is, what’s my solution? I’d love to have dedicated kitchen space. But that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time in the near future. And my dedicated shelves help, but they’re not in the kitchen, so that is an unfortunately added extra step (quite a few extra steps, in actuality).

Today, I’ll try to organize the shelves. But I know full well that this won’t solve my problem, unfortunately.

Perhaps I’ll go back to that book – if I can find it – and see what ideas they have.

And in the meantime, I’ve really got to bake those cupcakes…

Distractions…discouraging or delightful?

to-do_pic

Today is the first day in over a week that I’ve felt like myself. You see, dear readers, I caught a nasty virus that got the best of me for a bit. Indeed, I swore to both Boyfriend and mother alike that I was on my deathbed.

But, as usual, I digress. Will all this feeling better business, I had rather hoped for a productive day…or at least afternoon. I left work in the mid-afternoon, knowing that my body was still recuperating, I shouldn’t push it, and probably needed a short nap. Well, almost two hours later, I woke up from that “short” nap.

Rejuvenated? Sure. Happy with myself for losing so much time?

Not so much.

You see, I had several computer projects to catch up on after not being at my best next week. Not to mention several housekeeping items to take care of…Can anyone say “laundry”???

On a positive note, I did get some of the clean clothes put away. So there are a few less piles in the bedroom than previously. And I did find a voucher for Michael’s baking supplies that I needed (it’s now expired, of course).

But then, I came downstairs with the dirty laundry to find that there was company in the form of my aunt. Who I swear, has an undiagnosed case of ADHD. But that’s a whole other can of worms.

I also discovered that we had already received two of the x-men movies from Netflix…which are clearly required watching before coercing Boyfriend into seeing the new movie in theaters with me. Obviously. 😉 And, excited as I was, it somehow found its way into the DVD player during dinner.

Somehow, in the midst of all this, it was suddenly past 10:00 pm. When or how that happened, I do not know.

All I know is that my hopes of having a productive evening spiraled into a pile of unproductivity.

Perhaps I aim too high, with too many goals for what to do in a day. In fact, I do believe I’ve read somewhere that goal setting and prioritizing those goals is often a struggle for us ADDers. I’ll have to see if I can find a link to that information again.

Needless to say, this is frustrating, and led me to vent and wonder what I can do to be more productive. Earlier today, I was reminded of the value that regular exercise has in increasing mental clarity. Perhaps there is something to this.

Perhaps that will be my next official addition in my quest to find solutions.

For tonight, however, I seek catharsis with pen (or keyboard, as the case happens to be) and the written word.

Gluten Free “Carrot” Cake – aka brown butter cake.

The other day I made my first attempt at what I’d deem a carrot cake. Now, normally I have a hard and fast rule about all desserts containing chocolate. But this exception was allowed for three reasons:

  1. The originally posted cake was beautiful and made me want to try my hand at it, even if I didn’t go the fresh flowers route.
  2. My dad loves carrot cake and his birthday is in May
  3. Boyfriend’s work friend asked for non-chocolate (!?!?!?!?) cupcakes.

So, when I ran across this beautiful post, I couldn’t help but pin it and mentally remember that it was something to try.

And I’m glad I did. As usual, it took me a bit longer than I anticipated. But I think that the results were worth the wait….and the mess.

Have I mentioned how neat and tidy I am when I bake?

kitchen2 kitchen1

My mom tells me I have a special gift…

Both she and Boyfriend attempt to contain the tornado-like effects, depending on which kitchen I’m in. But be careful, there are usually casualties. And invariably, there will be flour of some variety, frosting, and whatever I’ve chopped  recently in small (or sometimes large) quantities on me.

Yes, this is baking. ADD style.

So, right…back to the cake.

The list of ingredients might, at first seem a bit long and daunting. But when you take a closer look, it’s not so bad. In fact, what I love about this recipe is that there are no weird, hard to pronounce ingredients, unlike most gluten free options.

The flour was primarily almond with a little bit of coconut. Which means they’re high in protein as well.  Did I mention that there was no refined sugar, either? #awesome

Photo1

With all of the many healthful ingredients, I’ll be honest…I was concerned that they would taste healthy as well. So, I kept my mouth shut and just told everyone they were carrot cake…and it worked, by golly! Everyone loved them (including me…we won’t talk about how many of these wound up in my belly…without frosting they totally count as healthy breakfast muffins….right?)

As usual, though, by the end of the process I was exhausted and had no desire to clean up whatsoever, much to the chagrin of other kitchen users. It most certainly did not help that somewhere in the baking wait time, I was put in charge of this little munchkin…

Landon_Kitchen_pic

Now, really…who could possibly blame me for leaving that mess? I had a sweet sleepy boy that needed holding. Priorities, right? Right.

In any case, the kitchen did eventually return to a semi-organized state, though I can’t take all the credit. It’s that lack of focus problem coming into view again. But that’s ok, I’m learning to harness those times of focus and use them for my benefit.

And in the meantime, I’ve found a great recipe to share with y’all. I topped them with a tasty cream cheese frosting, though it wasn’t as stiff a consistency as the recipe claimed it would be.

carrot cake cupcake pic

These weren’t aren’t exactly an example of my finest decorating skills, but they were delicious nonetheless. If you get a chance to try these….enjoy! They’re totally worth it. 😉

 

 

ADD Casualty of the day no. 1

Yesterday I made cupcakes for Boyfriend’s friend at work. They were gloriously gluten free, similar to a carrot cake. But that’s another post. I put them in the fridge (cream cheese, you know…) and was quite proud of myself for finding space in the never-enough-space-for-what-we-need-refrigerator.

But then, I remembered that I wanted to show you, dear readers, and tell you all about what I’d made (that’s still to come, I promise!). Which meant…crawling out of bed, a search for the phone, and trek back to the kitchen. And photograph I did. I even sent some pictures to the friend in question. Quite satisfied with the product (and myself for remembering before the cupcakes disappeared for good), I popped them back in the fridge and headed back to the bedroom.

Well. This morning I was not so pleased with myself. Into the kitchen I walked, focused on mentally gathering everything I needed for work (Yes, I continually tell myself that I should do this in the evening…but I digress).

There, sitting on the kitchen table was a package…

fajitas_pic

A sad and lonely package of beef fajitas that had been picked up at the deli a day or so earlier. Yes, you guessed it…I left the uncooked fajitas out over night. Awesome…or, you know….NOT.

Now, I’m not so dramatic that six dollars worth of marinated beef and veggies is gonna throw me over the edge. But I was quite disappointed with myself. As I thought about it, you see, I do recall getting them out of the refrigerator. But as I clicked away with the camera, that mix of red bell peppers, onions, and delightfully pre-marinated meat quickly vanished from existence in my head.

Even though it was the only thing on the table.

You see, with ADD, I have a problem with focusing. Many times, it’s hard to focus on complicated, detailed things. Other times I hyper focus on something. It’s a double edged sword, because often I do my best work in times of hyperfocus. But other times, the absent-mindedness that comes along with it gets the best of me.

Do I have the solution? No. But there are ways of coping and learning to use theses quirks as assets. Because they are. Somehow. Even if I haven’t figured that out yet.

But for today, I’m thankful for a supportive family and boyfriend who try to understand, learn about this with me, and above all, are unendingly patient with me.