Saturday, May 23, 2015

Goodbyes and Greetings


It happened. I graduated. I walked across the stage at the Greek Theatre in my cap and gown, was given a fake diploma, and shook hands with a man I'd never met before but I believe was the head of my department (yep, star student over here), and got like sixty awkwardly-posed photographs. And the entire time I couldn't stop smiling.

After all this time being a student, I can't really imagine what life is going to be like as just...a person.   My brain doesn't have the capability to process it quite yet, but I'm sure it will hit me sometime in the next few weeks. I can tell you that I am definitely feeling a lot of fear and anxiety, some discomfort, and a fair amount of sadness as many of my friends from the past two years pack up and move on with their lives. I'm glad that they have these amazing journeys to embark on, but the somewhat childish part of my brain feels so insulted that they would ever think to leave me. I love how maturity goes right out the window when the emotional part of the brain kicks in. Classic amygdala. But, as hard as it is for me to feel all these feelings that are part of this transition, I'm working to accept them. I'm not used to allowing myself to feel anything but the "good" emotions, and chastising myself when I focus too hard on the "bad" ones (which, actually, just makes me feel worse). Its takes a lot of effort for me to just breathe and allow them to wash over me, not judging or adding to them, just welcoming them and letting them go. Its that ebb and flow that comes with change.

But my graduation itself was nothing and everything like I expected it to be, and of course my dear old dad was there to capture the best moments.





(So distinguished) 

I think the best part of graduating was seeing my family and friends out in the crowd and reveling in the fact that I got to share this day with them. It is only because of them that I was able to make it this far, and only to them that I owe my success. There were times this semester that I thought I would have to dropout, especially when I started having panic attacks and felt like I couldn't be left alone. But these people, these beautiful people, stuck by me and helped me through the roughest of days. Thank you to my mom and dad, my two sisters, Hannah and Katie, my best friends, Jenny and Gina, my boss Natalie, my professors who allowed me to take time off lectures when I needed to, and my beautiful house and all the people in it who kept/ keep me feeling noticed and loved. 
And can I make a shoutout to some beautiful grad presents I got! I'm all about gift giving, and receiving them makes me feel like I'm going to explode with emotions. I literally feel like I can't keep myself together. I only took a few photos, I was too busy being overwhelmed. 

Soooo liiiikeeee, what do I do now? Ah, the age old question. 
Well, I kinda figured that the time after I graduated would be a weird floating period of confusion, so I'm mainly trying to embrace that. But, I'm also still a working gal on the lookout for a second job. Any bakeries out there desiring a hard-working, slightly clumsy (kidding, kinda) baker with a production experience and a constant flow of energy? I can also bring kitchen D.J. experience to the table, if thats a convincing factor. 
Other than that, I've finishing up a class for my degree and taking on a ceramics class just for the hell of it. Look forward to a lot of misshapen mugs, made with love. 

I'm also just looking to gain a little more balance back into my days since the whirlwind of finals, graduation, and house move-outs/ goodbyes came crashing into me. I've missed the times of meditation, deep breathing, and exercise. I've also missed journal writing, which is a key grounder in my experiences. And I've missed baking for nothing at all but to create and share. I'm hoping that I can incorporate some serenity, even with some somewhat hectic plans this summer. And I'm telling you all, so at least I have some people to keep me accountable. I had so much fun hanging out with all my graduating friends, eating, drinking, and laughing, but my self-care tactics have kind of fallen to the wayside. Time to bring em back! It's all about that balance, people. Anyone who wants to do some yoga with me, go on some nice long walks, hit the climbing gym, or just veg and watch movies while we eat weird cookie creations is more than welcome. No, seriously, come over. 
I'll keep you all updated on the summer of newfound adulthood, and all the food adventures therein. I'm looking forward to a little more cooking and such. You know, some cake and some kale, the best of pairings. 
Thanks for checking in and I'll be back soon,
Lia <3

P.S. I'm currently pinning the most amazing adult-esque recipes right now. Meal prep? Who knew. Plus like twenty kinds of cheesecake. Stay tuned. 

Happy Graduation to all those newly-minted adults out there! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fear

Heyo, long time no post.
I apologize for being so sporadic, but I'm nearing the end of my college career and life is pretty hectic at the moment. Its good, its bad, its heartbreaking, and its exciting. It's forcing me to face the reality of the world of adulthood, which is a crazy concept in itself. My approach right now is to let control go, and feel all the whirlwind feels that come with such a huge transition. But trust me, I'm gonna miss so much about my college experience, especially the people that have kept me going through all the ups and downs. Big shout out to my home and homies for the last two years, Hoyt Hall <3 

Something that I'm been considering a lot over the past few months is fear. We all have fears, rational and irrational. In a perfect world, they are meant to keep us safe. We need fear to tell us that something is not right or we are in danger. But, more often than not, fears seem to hold us back. They make us avoid things because of the all the negative possibilities, even when the positive possibilities are just as likely. Its our natural instinct, to avoid. 
I've been avoiding for most of my life. I remember avoiding relationships for a long time because I could stand the idea of vulnerability, that I would have to put my trust in another person. I avoided any situation that would cause me embarrassment or pain. I avoided by shutting my thoughts up tight inside my head, praying that no one would know all the horrifically raw things that went through it. I focused a lot on my appearance to keep things in control. I needed control. And truthfully, I know many of us have our own ways to keep fear at bay. We are human. 
However, now that a lot of my fears/ insecurities/ dark thoughts have finally burst through the carefully constructed shell I had, I realize that there is no avoiding fear. You might be able to stave it off for awhile, but eventually it will come back and knock you down. And even when its being avoided, its always there, looming in the background. The only way to cope with fear, to really survive it, is to embrace it. Not to deny it, not to hide from it, but to allow it a space in your heart. Having fear doesn't mean having weakness, its completely natural. Its what you do with that fear that really affects your life. You have to push through the fear, meet it face to face, to really overcome it. 
You have to let yourself be vulnerable, or else you will shut yourself off from all the truly beautiful gifts of life, along with the things that you fear. You're shutting yourself off from what you can become. 
I'm not saying this because I have overcome fear, I definitely have not. I still fear many, many things. But I'm coming to a place where admitting my fears and allowing them to exist is finally allowing me freedom. Each risk I take, whether it ends how I pictured or brings on the unexpected, gives me a little more strength and confidence in myself. It allows me to feel happiness, because I am starting to accept all the other emotions that I am capable of. Its hard, really hard, but its worth it. 
I actually came across the Brene Brown Ted talk yesterday when I was thinking about vulnerability, and it reminded me of everything that I've been working toward in my mental health journey. She discusses shame, and how holding ourself back from things that make us uncomfortable also cuts us off from joy. She experienced that realization in her own life, and in her desire to "beat" shame. Anyone who is interested, I would highly recommend watching it. 

Quick switch, here are some pictures from the last week or so! Its been a tornado of tears, goodbyes, and drunken bonding experiences. 


This is the cake I made for the Iron Chef competition at the Berkeley Student Cooperative graduation party, the chocolate covered strawberry cake. Any cooper could enter in a dish to be judged by BSC alumni, so of course I chose cake. Cake is really all I know. And I actually won money for our house!  Nailed it. 
P.S. It was actually extremely fucking heavy, and I suffered carrying it's chocolately-goodness to the alumni house. 

All the graduating seniors from Hoyt. Babes, babes as far as the eye can see. 

Two of my closest, most beautiful friends. I love you, m'doges. 

A few ways to remember my time at Hoyt. 

And then, here are some bakery pictures from the craziness that was Mother's day preparation. This is actually scaled-down version of the massive list of orders we had. 



Mothers Day Sugar Cookies 

Salted caramel cupcakes 

Cinnamon rolls and orange almond rolls 

Shortbread jam sandwiches (as part of a tea cookie box) 
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Add in two more kinds of cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, lemon lavender shortbread, vegan peanut butter cookies, and caramel almond thumbprint cookies, and you have our night in a nutshell. I definitely had moments where I wanted to lay my head down on the table and just pass out right there. There's nothing like those late night bakes. 

There you have it! Things are going to change, but I'm grateful that I was able to have all the unique experiences that only the BSC and UC Berkeley can provide. I'm going to be spending the next week studying/ cramming/ crying and knocking out my finals, but I'll check back in soon. 

Lia <3 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Velvet Cheese Birthday Extravaganza

Its been awhile since a baking post hasn't it? Well never fear, my phone was repaired to its original, unsmashed glory. And that means I was able to snap some pictures of....



The Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake or as Veronica named it, The Velvy Cheese/ V-Cheese Squared.

When I asked the birthday girl Wendy what kind of cake she wanted, she said red velvet. It always happens that whenever I hear someone want a pretty standard dessert, like chocolate chip cookies or vanilla ice-cream, my head is already buzzing with all the possibilities for expansion.
"Dude, brown butter and toffee is gonna take the chocolate chip cookies to the next level."
"Lets bake brownies and grab a container of raspberries to go with that vanilla icecream. And how do you feel about chocolate sauce...?"
I'm not sure if its just for the sheer entertainment of adding cool shit on top of already cool shit, but I am just obsessed with complex desserts. Especially when making them for other people. So when red velvet came to the table, I started brainstorming ways I could make it even more awesome. I remembered reading a recipe many days back about a red velvet cake with a layer of cheesecake in the middle, so I knew that this was the perfect time to use it. It just so happened that Wendy loves cheesecake. Bam. Done.

Unfortunately, I was so rushed in the process of baking the different layers that I only took pictures of the finished product. My b. But I can still walk you through.

Step 1. Bake the two layers of red velvet. I only had one cake pan of the size I wanted, so this took me a little extra time. I used the Paula Deen cake recipe, which made me feel slightly guilty for some reason. I have mixed feelings about Paula, as I'm sure we all do...

Step 2. Freeze the layers. This is a really important step for successfully putting the cake together, especially if you plan on doing it a different day. I found that if I wanted to saw the dome off of the layers to make them level, it was SO much easier when they were frozen. You don't have to worry so much about the cake breaking and falling apart on you.

Step 3: Make the cheesecake layer. This is a pretty simple step, you just need to combine the ingredients and pour into a greased springform pan. Its in your best interest to add a layer of parchment to the bottom of the pan, otherwise you might have a really fun time trying to get it out. You'll put the springform pan into the freezer after baking and wait a couple of hours. You want the cheesecake pretty rock solid.

Step 4: Layering. So with this step, you're gonna work to make sure the cake is level and even on all sides. I took each red velvet layer and I sawed off the dome that puffed up in the oven with a serrated knife. The serrated knife helps to make sure the cake doesn't drag with you as you try to cut. I put the excess cake in a plastic bag.
You put the first layer face up, then add the cheesecake layer. You then add the next red velvet layer face down, so that the flat side is in view. At this point, I noticed that the cheesecake was hanging over the edge of the cake by about an inch. To solve this I took the serrated knife and sawed away at the sides until it looked even all around. Thankfully, any weird edges could be covered by buttercream. I put the whole cake in the freezer.

Step 5: I made a cream cheese frosting, using a 2:1 powdered sugar to butter recipe and then adding cream cheese to taste. We have this fluffy whipped cream cheese at my house in bulk, and I think it really added something to this frosting. I honestly didn't add that much, I didn't want to overpower the cake with too much cream cheese.

Step 6: Then, I frosted the cake. I had purchased a cake spatula awhile back for just this occasion, so I  used that to smooth the process. I've just started learning about cake decorating, so I was stoked to try it on my own. It actually went really well! I started with the crumb layer, froze it, and then did another coating. At this point I left it out, and crushed up my bag of extra red velvet. I used this to coat the sides of the cake, a technique I'd seen done with many other red velvets. It was harder than I thought, and I ended up with a red crumbs everywhere (table, floor, dress, hair, hands, face, you name it). There is some sort of trick to getting really small crumbs, which I just didn't know about, and they ended up kinda clumpy. But whatever, I thought it looked pretty fucking cute for my first try.

Step 7: I wrote on the cake in chocolate, because that's the only way I've ever learned in my baking career. I did have a pastry bag and tip, so that made things a little easier. I'm excited for the day when I can branch out and try new decorating techniques. I was just nervous for this cake so I didn't want to go too out there.




Victory. 

It got pretty rave reviews. Granted everyone was pretty intoxicated when they ate it, but I'm not about to turn down a compliment. 

When I was younger I always wished that I could be skilled at something, because it felt like I couldn't do anything. It was hard to maintain focus, nothing seemed to stick. It feels good to improve with something, especially something I can make for other people. It makes me wonder what other things I can do, that are just lying dormant. For now, I'll continue to make birthday cakes for anyone and everyone.

Here's the recipe for the whole cake from Recipe Girl, just in case anyone wanted to try their hand.

Seeya! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Understanding OCD

(Im about to get super serious, so bear with me)

OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A name. A label.

Last week, I started my therapy at the Santa Rosa Cognitive Behavioral Center, and learned precisely what has been my constant struggle over the past few years of my life. It's both relieving to know, and  somewhat unnerving. I hadn't heard much about OCD before studying it in college, but I think the common stereotype is someone who needs to wash their hands multiple times in a row or spends a huge block of time double checking/ triple-checking that everything in their room is just right before leaving it. And these are not wrong, but they are such a narrow view of the bigger picture. Even at this point, after reading so much about it and talking it over with my therapist, I also only have my limited knowledge to go on.

However, I do know one thing, having OCD does not mean you're crazy. I've come to hate the word crazy, but that's another post for another time. It means that you have a certain type of brain, an extremely brilliant and quick brain, that has lost control of its ability to let go of intrusive/ distressing thoughts. So they circle, over and over, until you've spun yourself so deep into a web of disillusion  that you feel you can't get out. These are called obsessions. We all have strange thoughts from time to time, one's that kinda freak you out, disgust you, or make you shiver. However, for a more level-functioning brain, these thoughts can easily be rationalized and released, a balance restored. The issue is not so much the thoughts, but the reaction to the thoughts that causes the problem for people with OCD.

So there you are, keyed up with anxiety over the possibility of an extremely terrifying event or "truth" . At this point, all you can think to do is something to get rid of that anxiety, something quick because you feel you can't deal with the discomfort. This is where compulsions come in. Compulsions are some sort of action taken to reduce anxiety caused by the obsessions, and it varies depending on the person. Hand-washing, checking, seeking reassurance, repeatedly touching or counting, etc. The mind is trained that these actions will reduce the anxiety, for a brief period of time. However, this does not get the anxiety under control, it only delays it until the obsession resurfaces, which it will. But an individual will continue to use them, because the feelings that are hiding beneath the surface are too monumental to be faced.

Its an extremely scary and debilitating disorder, one that steals any power you have away from you. The deed to your life is handed to the anxiety, and it rules for however long it takes until you decide that you are going to fight back.

Now, I've heard a lot of jokes and referencing to OCD throughout my life, but you never quite understand the reality of a situation until you or someone close to you experiences it. And I have to say, there is nothing funny with this kind of struggle. Or any mental illness struggle, for that matter. That's not to say that there isn't a positive side to the experience and the recovery, because there is supreme growth in accepting that part of yourself. But damn, its a hell of a fight. There's no way I can really describe the inability to trust your brain, but its one of the most chilling experiences I have ever had.

Okay.

I felt like a lot of that just needed to be said, for me and for others. If you ever want to learn more about OCD, you can check out the International OCD Foundation. Or read some blogs online, because every person gets to tell their own story, and no two are exactly the same.

OKAY. DONE-ZO.

So, on a lighter note, you might wonder why I haven't been posting pictures of treats. This is supposed to be a partial baking blog, right? Well, my friends, that is because I smashed the front of my phone into smithereens and it is revolting against me (understandably). My other camera was forgotten in Santa Rosa. Or maybe its hiding there, hoping it won't be subject to the same fate as my phone. Either way I don't have the means to take pictures, which is a major bummer. However, I will have both fixed/ in-hand by the end of the week, and there will be pictures aplenty to share. I'm baking my friend a birthday cake that's going to need to be documented. Unless it's ugly, in which case....well I might post it anyways but then hang my head in shame.

Think cheesecake. Think red velvet cake. Think of their giant, layered love child.

Yes. It will be a mighty sight to behold.

As for now, you'll just have to stare at my words and pretend they are food pics. Ugh.

<3 Lia

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mindfulness (How to Stay in the Moment)




What is the trick to living in the moment? And is that even possible?

I've always been a worrier. Well, actually I think my main concern as a child was candy and how to get it in my mouth as fast as possible, but other than that my brain loves to worry. Whenever I find myself in a new situation in my life or am confronted with a new problem, I find my mind in a constant negative tornado, picking up speed quickly and destroying everything in its path. Its rumination, the mind's true enemy. 

I never actually considered that there was a way for me to change. And to be truthful, subconciously, I found comfort and stability in worry. At least I could be prepared for any negative possibility that could occur, right? At least I would be safe. I think it has taken me this long to realize that you really can't prepare for some of the scariest things in life. You don't know when bad things are going to happen, and does it really make your life that much better to be mentally prepared for them? Not usually. Obviously this is my own personal experience, but I find mentally preparing myself for negative consequences leaves me both fearful and paralyzed. And I don't want to live my life that way, I don't know anyone who does. 

I've encountered the idea of mindfulness many times over the past few years, and I've only just started understanding what it truly means to me. Mindfulness is the reinserting of yourself into the present moment. Its releasing control of your thoughts and fears, and allowing them to drift in and out of your mind. It's allowing both the positive and negative of a situation to exist, not just attaching yourself to one or the other. It's just being, not judging or controlling, but being. Looking at our society, especially in the realm of education, it is really really difficult to be mindful. We are constantly bombarded with a slew of technology, media, and expectations for our success. If we are not part of the constant race to be somebody, we don't exist at all. If we don't create an image of ourselves that is so unique, and yet so conformist, we are lost. 

I am a slave to social media and technology as much as the next person, and I do find numerous benefits to the connections that it provides. And yet, the time that I devote to it really isn't fulfilling. It's more a distraction. A way for me to find stability in a persona that I create, as opposed to focusing on the rather uncontrollable aspects of my own state of being. I started reading a book recently called the The Mindful Path Through Worry and Rumination. Aside from the obvious cheesiness of the title, there's a lot of really good insights in there. While reading it, I was reminded of all the complexities of the brain and how rumination can cause such distress and hopelessness in one's life. It also reminded me that the best way to "cure" myself was to accept the way that my brain works, and use it as a tool to increase my happiness and ability to enjoy my life.  My stability is within myself, surprisingly enough. I would recommend it to anyone who deals with uncontrollable worry or rumination in their life. Here are a few techniques that I've been reminded of while reading:

1) Breathing exercises: I've gone in and out of using these consciously, but they are surprisingly helpful. Even on days when I don't make a point to sit down and take slow, calculated breathes, I find myself taking these when I am out and feeling overwhelmed. It kind of resets the body and allows you to take a step back from the situation that is causing you distress. I find it good to do whenever I have a moment in the day, but usually in the morning and at night.

2) Exercise: I always find myself falling off track with this, but for all the mental energy I have, this is an unbelievable help. I find myself feeling so positively stimulated when I exercise, not to mention stronger and healthier. I don't usually get too intense with it, but a little bit everyday keeps me grounded. It's not so much a competition for me, I'm just in it for the endorphins. And being outdoors,  thats a big one. I'm hoping to fit in a walk and climbing today!

3) Radical Acceptance: Radical Acceptance in mentioned many times over in this book. It's extremely simple but can be extremely difficult. Its about accepting every aspect of your life, both good and bad. Its about realizing your life is the only vehicle you have to happiness and contentment, and its up to you to use it. You can't get too caught up in the negative or distressing aspects of life, because those will always be there. Everyone suffers, that is a solid fact of life. But, everyone also has the ability to find the beautiful aspects of life as well, as those are much more easily located when we stop giving the negative aspects so much power. They ain't all that.

4) Negative thought challenging- Sometimes I like to use this and sometimes not, it just depends what will suit my mind the best that day. Basically, this is just taking each negative thought that you have, and challenge it using its neutral and positive opposite. For instance, if someone blows you off when you had plans, you could spend the rest of the day assuming that they didn't really want to hang out with you and that you are boring. Or, you could realize that it probably had more to do with them than you. Perhaps they were feeling stressed or sad, or they had some work that they needed to finish.  Usually, its more likely that they had something going on in their own life that prevented them from hanging out, not because they don't enjoy your company.

5) Its the journey, not the destination: Huge, huge realization. I think we've all probably heard this before, but life is absolutely, 100% a journey. There is not going to be a moment when you suddenly have everything you every wanted and it is perfect. There are always ups and downs, always things to work on or work toward. Thats why its important to enjoy the things that are in front of you right now. If you are constantly looking forward or behind, your whole life may fly by without you every getting to experience it. I would hate to feel like I missed out on some of the most enjoyable aspects of living because I was so busy worrying.

So, in the spirit of this, with all the pressures of my life on my back (tests on tests, papers on papers), I'm going to slow down and enjoy my life in every way that I can. Why not?

And, here's a quiche picture to hold you over until next time. Bacon, cheddar, spinach, holla.


Catch you later. (Hopefully with a new, shiny baked good)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dreams

First off, I'm about to get real cheesy. I'd like to thank every single person who reached out to me after my last post. It really touched me to see so many people in my life coming to my aid, even those that I don't get to see on a regular basis. It made me realize how people are still willing to help those around them in need, even if they are only an acquaintance. I hope I get the opportunity to return the favor.

This morning I was thinking about the loss of dreams in my life. Over the last few months, I've been so preoccupied with negativity, so bogged down by worry and fear, that I hadn't even thought about my future. Sometimes when you hit a really dark time, you lose the ability to look past what your system is feeling right then and there. You lose the ability to have hope, and to recognize the positive things you have in your life in the present and the possibilities for the future. While I'm still working through my fears, I wanted to take the time to write down a few things I like about the present, and a few things I'm looking forward to. Because, truthfully, what is life if not a platform to do what you like and work towards your dreams?

Here and Now

My friends and family; my support system- Over every up and down I've had in life, they have always been there to pick me up, wipe my tears, and push me forward again.

My dogs- My littlest homies, always down for a snuggle.

The trees and the green earth- I've never felt better than when I am walking through a park or a forest,  where there is a quiet simplicity that can't be replicated. Negativity doesn't have a place there.

Good food- This is pretty much what I think about 24/7. You know those days when you are just looking forward to your next meal? Yeah, that's everyday.

The means to bake and share what I make- One thing that I think I take for granted. If I had a purpose in life, its to use my hands and create things that I can use to connect with others. Baking is just a vessel for that. An extremely delicious vessel.

My body- The fact that I have a body that lets me run a 5k, hike countless miles, walk around campus, do yoga, almost do a somersault ( still working on this one)

The ability to express my emotions

Entertainment

Just hanging out and enjoying now


Hopes and Dreams for the future 

A family

My own business

A dog/ cat/ buddy of my very own

A home- One that I can decorate to my liking. One that represents all of me.

Traveling to new places

Expanding my baking/ cooking skill base

Hiking- Half Dome, Big Sur, Joshua Tree. And that's just in California.

Being able to enjoy the here and now- I think the more I practice mindfulness, the easier it will be. Enjoying my life will be top priority, instead of an after thought

Work on a farm

And those are really just the ones I came up with off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many more to discover.
For instance, baking this braided bread has been on my mind now for the past few weeks. I was all over Pinterest looking at all the beautiful, glistening breads that people had created, and I knew I wanted to try it for myself. Most of the ones I found had sweet fillings, which I'm always down for, but I just ended up using what I had on hand: pesto and feta. I definitely could have used more filling, but the aesthetic is awesome.

Pesto Feta Braid









I'm stoked I actually ended up trying this. Next time, I'm going for the dessert braid. Lemon cheesecake all the waaayy.

Dough from Eat Live Run 

<3 <3 <3


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reconnecting (And my favorite forgotten cookie)



I haven't posted in quite a while. To be honest, I've felt so many shades of embarrassment about writing a blog. I kept thinking, who is going to read this? Or worse, what if somebody reads this?

I've never been a "writer", and I was sure people would notice that right away. And maybe they have, or maybe they haven't. But the uncertainty was enough to stop me from writing altogether. And yet, here I am, throwing myself out there to reconnect with you and with myself.

The reason that I started the blog in the first place was to have somewhere to put my thoughts and my baking. Today, you'll get a little bit of both. For a long time in my life, I've struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression. I never really discussed it or tried to understand it until I started therapy about 4 years ago. That's when I really began to explore all the dark places inside me that tainted all the good things that I had or would have. The more I talked and listened, the more I realized that I was letting those parts of myself ( because yes, they are not the whole) speak for the entirety of who I am. I have insecurities, I have many, many fears, I have emotions that wake me up in the night, panicking and clutching my blankets. But I have so much more, and it really takes a daily effort to remind myself of that sometimes.

Within the past month, I've seemed to hit another road block in my recovery. I started having major, debilitating panic attacks that shook my whole being. I couldn't directly name why they were there or what triggered them, but I don't know that I've ever been so afraid in my entire life. I tried to recover from the first one, seeking help from close friends, taking things slowly, finding solace in my bed when things became too overwhelming, but truthfully my sense of control was shattered. Tears and breakdowns seemed to be an almost everyday occurrence for me. Thoughts like "What is wrong with me?" "Why is this happening?" " Is this the way I was meant to be?". And honestly, suicidal thoughts started to make an appearance. These were so foreign to me, and the fact that they could ever enter my mind was unfathomable. I never thought that fear could drive me to that point. I was confused, I was ashamed, and I was mad at myself for taking my life for granted. I didn't want to admit to it. But at a certain point, I let my family/ friends in, because I knew that I needed them. It's been a few weeks since then and I still feel the panic and the shame, but I want to forgive myself. And that's where I'm at.

I think I've spent a lot of my life trying to appear put-together for people. I wanted to be the way people seem when I pass them on the street. So confident and poised. So easily relaxed. But appearing and being are two completely different things, and I'm realizing that creating an image of a perfect person does not create happiness. And I'm not perfect, and I never want to be. Because now, I associate perfection with burying your demons so deep that they attack you from the inside out. And I want no part of that.

I know I haven't written in a while, and the posts may be spaced out from now on, but I want this to be some part of my life. Because the honesty is so releasing, even if no one ends up reading it. I want to document strides that I make in my life and in my baking, so that I can see them and realize their importance. And if the posts get boring, that's cool. If you resonate with them, that's even better. I hope that people who deal with anxiety/ depression/ any sort of mental illness can read this and know that they've got someone out there who has felt the same. Because yes, you do, and yes, I'm here.

Thanks to everyone and anyone who read through that. Here come the COOKIES.

This is an old school throwback. These are the cookies I used to beg my parents to buy me at Safeway every single time we went. These are the cookies, in amazingly cool teenage rebellion, I used to steal from the same Safeway. The addiction was real. They were my FAVORITE COOKIE. And yet, I've totally forgotten about them and their chewy, sugary deliciousness. Until tonight that is.

M&M Sugar Cookies, everybody.


I know. These aren't the most exciting cookies that ever existed on the planet. They aren't even the best looking ones. But there is something about buttery dough wrapped around crunchy chocolate gems that speaks to my inner child. 


Okay, to be real these are Sun Drops. I just can't stay away from Whole Foods. Shame and more shame. 


Cookies and dough included, I probably ate about 4. And I still have more, so if I run into you, you are getting a cookie. 

I'm glad I had a chance to make these, because activating those simple desires inside yourself is the surest way to happiness. And after all the negative energy that's been floating my way lately, my inner child needed some serious pampering. 

Shout out to The Girl Who Ate Everything for the recipe. Appreciation is definitely in order. 
And shout out to all the people in my life who've been there for me during this time, you all deserve/ will get cookies. 

I'll be back with more corny words and baking adventures. 

<3 Lia