Saved by a Cupcake Recipe

This is huge. I baked with my daughter. I’m still waiting for my mom award. Baking is so not my thing. Big mixers intimidate me, so I don’t own one. I can’t even get Pillsbury cookie dough to come out looking even cookie-ish. Some are too small and crispy, others are uncooked, it’s really unpredictable. Imagine my delight when they invented the pre-cut ones, very convenient if you like the dough way better than the actual baked cookie. Why waste time preheating an oven?

Needless to say my kids have never known the smells of fresh-baked goods coming from our kitchen. It’s not like I don’t understand the importance of the bonding, it’s just I never felt my kids were deprived. They had a phenomenal day care provider who showed them all around flour and a rolling-pin. She is/was amazing and even though my kids don’t go anymore there are times when I still give thanks for all she did and one of those times was this weekend.

The Girl wanted to bake, “From scratch. No boxed stuff.”

I got totally defensive, “I can bake without a box.” Total lie.

She rolled her eyes and choose a red velvet cupcake recipe because she’s twelve and spiteful.

I tried to embrace the idea. The first thing I did was go out and buy a cheap hand mixer because I’d be damned if I was going to whisk until my weak nana arms reminded me of all the body sculpt classes I’ve missed. In the end I’m only hurting my own self esteem, right?

We looked up a cupcake recipe online. This one here, by Paula Dean. It looked simple enough, but that’s the thing with baking, it appears harmless until it kicks your ass and makes you feel like a loser. Baking is bullying. Self bullying. Sort of like cutting, but only with emotional scars.

We tried to commiserate the occasion with photos.

Just forget it…

Can you believe The Girl gave me permission to post these pictures? She’s one secure tween. I did manage one with her eyes open. They’re rare so I thought I would acknowledge it even though she doesn’t approve.

“OMG, Mom, my hair is wet!”

“But, you’re letting me post the ones with your eyes closed?”

Those are funny.”

Don’t ask me why we have a rolling-pin on the counter for a cupcake recipe.

So, we mixed all the dry ingredients as per the recipe. Don’t be jealous of my professional sifter.

Then we mixed the wet ingredients together and stared at the pink batter.

“Why is it pink?”

“Because it’s not baked yet,” I said, crossing my fingers.

We got out the new mixer and tried not to spray the cupboards, then put the cupcakes in the oven. That’s when The Girl went up to her room and left me to clean up. So I did, very passive aggressively until the timer went off. I said a prayer and pulled out the cupcakes with this thought in mind.


They looked about as appetizing as a sponge left out in the sun. Not a red velvet sponge, but a pink sponge. If SpongeBob and Patrick had sextuplets this is what they would look like. It’s hard to see in this picture just how pink they were, but The Girl wanted to call them Candy Floss Cupcakes.

Someone told me it might have something to do with the vinegar? The truth is I don’t really care. I’m not sad about it. I can accept some of my downfalls. I suck at baking and these cupcakes prove it.

“Total fail, Mom.”

“You were apart of this, you know.”

“You can’t bake. You better stick to a box.”

Obviously she’s taking no responsiblity, but on the bright side she’s given me permission to nix the baking which banishes any guilt I might have and leaves us to do our bonding at the mall.

Plus, she ate them anyway so it worked out for everyone.

By the way, I may not be a baker, but I can cook the hell out of a chicken breast, it’s just my kids don’t appreciate it nearly as much.








Feeling Blue?

I’ve just finished a book by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, it’s a few years old, called Eating, Drinking, Overthinking. A more appropriate title would’ve been, Kelly, This Means You (with a big embedded picture of me on the cover). While not everything in it pertains to me specifically, a whole lot does. This makes me nervous. Not that I’m into outing myself with suffering from any psychological disorders (I don’t want to talk myself out of any party invitations here) but l’ve been known to go through bouts of depression and have had my midnight anxiety attacks that have landed me on medications, on a therapist couch and over the course of the last five years added 25 pounds to my frame. It all sounds so traumatic and horrible, but let me assure you, it’s all quite common in women.

Susan (since she wrote a book about me, I feel I can call her by her first name) calls it The Toxic Triangle, a vicious cycle of depression, eating & drinking. Doesn’t that sound frightening? Who wants to be caught in a Triangle? My parents used to go on vacation when I was a kid and they would fly over the Bermuda Triangle. I always thought, “Well, there they go, gonna fly over that triangle and get sucked right in!” (Gee, I wonder when my overthinking started.)

But, really Susan? Did you have to make it sound so harsh? Vicious? Toxic? There’s no cushion, just BOOM, you my lady are in a Toxic Triangle, what do you think about that? Well, not too good actually because one of those “sides” of the triangle I feared would be ignited right away. I would over think this. I’ll run it around in my head all day and night. I’ll find myself on every page of the book, then Google everything I can about it and tell myself I’m broken and in need of repair stat!

And so it begins.

What should I do? Besides relax (even I know that), but I’m not particularly good at it. My body? Yes. My mind? Nope. But, just because a person with a PH.D., (and a Yale graduate) is picking my life apart, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Right? RIGHT?!

There must be exercises I can do to rescue me from this triangle of terror. I finally found them near the back of the book and felt a bit of relief. At least I had a plan. There is a way out. Except part of the plan is meditation and we all know how well I did with that. (See last post).

Okay, maybe like the book says, I’m just over thinking everything. I take a deep breath, relax my shoulders and pour myself a glass of wine. Wait. Drinking is another side of the triangle. That’s two out of three. Oh hell, it’s one glass of wine to calm me down. What is life if you can’t have a glass of wine once in a while? Or two? I finish that glass as I contemplate this. Then I take my second glass of wine and continue reading, but suddenly I’m hungry. I put the book down and go into the kitchen, stopping to scrutinize myself in the mirror. This is the same mirror I’d past just hours before and berated my chunky reflection swearing to never touch another carb again, but now, two glasses in… I look good enough for chips.

After the chips (and some cheese and crackers), all hell breaks loose. How could I have eaten all those? Why am I having wine on a Wednesday? Then I continue to stuff myself with anything not nailed down as I clean up from dinner. But all is not lost, because I did leave one glass of wine in the bottle so I could tell myself that, “at least I didn’t drink the whole thing.”

I wipe the crumbs from my chin as I carry my bloated body up the stairs where I lay in bed thinking, “‘I’m three out of three. What if I never get out of The Toxic Triangle?”

And, I’m back to overthinking.

I think I’m starting to get it now.

How do women get into this mess? The answer is simple says Susan, The quieter problems of woman don’t bother other people nearly as much, so they aren’t dealt with properly.”

Meaning, we take everything internally. If we could just hit something like men then maybe we wouldn’t be tearing the cupboards apart looking for a year old King Dong. We don’t tell the whole story, scared to death of judgement, so doctors tend to only address one of the issues (depression) by throwing prescriptions at us and tell us to be on our way. The meds work, but they’re only a stepping stone to the underlying issue and they’re only addressing one side of the triangle. They clear our heads enough to see how we feel, think and talk about ourselves, to ourselves, so to speak, but it’s what you do with that information that’s the way out. If you just take the medication and wait, not addressing the internal problem you’re just sitting idle, stalled in your own life. Who wouldn’t want to fill their face with beers and chicken wings?

I don’t want to bore you with the statistics, but let’s just say that there are a good number of us challenged with one or more of these “sides”. The stigma associated with any type of mental illness doesn’t make it any easier. People with depression don’t walk around like Eeorye with a big cloud over their heads. They hide it well because they’re scared to be judged by their peers when chances are; their peers are hiding something of their own. Isn’t it silly?

Okay, one statistic; 1 in 4 women will suffer a severe depressive episode at least once in her lifetime; 50% experience mild symptoms of depression. Most have repeat episodes time and time again because they don’t have the tools to stop it. And they don’t have the tools because they’re too proud to seek help. And no one notices because we are women and we are trained to shut up and keep going so we don’t appear weak.

Don’t you think this statistic could be better if we just freaking talked about it? We’re so scared to be open, to be judged or God forbid someone think we don’t have it all going on that we hold it all inside. I mean, it has to come out somehow right? I hate to bring it up again, but kind of like a fart in your pantyhose, sooner or later it has to make an exit.

We have to learn how to take better care of our mental health. Getting rid of the stigma of depression or any mental illness is high on the list. It’s like Maya Angelo said (and Oprah repeats over and over and over again), “When we know better. We do better.” And I want to do better for my children because the probability of them ever having to deal with a period of depression is high. So I want them to be prepared, be educated and not feel like they have to hide it like it’s some nasty sexual transmitted disease (another awful stigma). It’s a fact of life and if we give voice to it now, it will be easier in the future to nip it in the bud and move on before the issue even resembles a triangle.

Then again I could be just over thinking this and reserve the right to delete this post out of shame and embarrassment.

If you’re interested in the book, here is a link to Chapters online.