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

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