Friday, August 21, 2015

Slamming into the Workforce

The working life.
Its like everything I thought it would be, and yet not at all what I thought it would be. 
To put it simply: never have I been so exhausted in my entire life. It's been two weeks and a full-time job has already knocked me on my ass. 
I realize that as I was lamenting on the fact that I was still knee-deep in classes, I was also gifted with a very flexible schedule with ample nap time. Well, that's probably an exaggeration. But I know I had time for naps or just laying in bed before the next thing on my t-do list. In the working world, naps are a distant memory. So beautiful, yet so elusive. Five days of baking a week is no joke, and my legs/ back/ brain are definitely in agreement on this fact. I've been spending two days a week at Three Babes Bakeshop and three days a week at Natty Cakes, with average wake up times between 5:30 and 7:30 AM (that's right, AM, bright and early, the butt crack of dawn). After spending a whole semester at school with classes that started at noon or later, I was not exactly prepared for this. To be honest, I know that I will adjust to this new life, but for now it is making my mood a little haywire. I like to be open and honest about my good and bad times, because I wish to be an observer of my emotions rather than a judger. I don't want to be ashamed, and I don't think I should be. 

So yes, transitioning into full time work, along with moving from a home I've had for two years has been a little bit of a struggle for me. Not devoid of good times by any means, but a struggle to be sure. But now that I am recognizing that and allowing that to exist ( or trying to), I want to talk about what I can do for myself to help with the an anxious time. 

MEDITATION: This is such a tough one for me. I know I've talked about it in the past and how hard it is to stay committed. I notice that consistency with treatment for mental health is a huge wall to climb over. It's not impossible, I've seen many, many people hold a very stable relationship with meditation, but it is tough. So, I always seem to do better with external motivators. And, right now, this blog is a great external motivator for me. As soon as I put something out there, I feel like I need to do it! So as not to disappoint the average of 2 people that probably occasionally read this...maybe. 
Either way, it is helpful to have somewhere to write my progress and experience down. And I think it will be helpful to do a little check-in every time I do it. Even if its only a few sentences. We'll see how that goes! 

EXPOSURES: I believe I've talked about exposures before, but they are basically time set aside to focus on my biggest fears. It's an OCD tactic that I picked up in therapy, and it exposes you to the possibility of these fears materializing and forces you to sit with that anxiety. I've now done it many times, and yet subconsciously avoid doing it when things get hard. I think that, while you know rationally how silly your fears are, you still wonder if this is the time that you're going to physically explode from the anxiety. That the "bad" feelings will literally swallow you whole. They never do. Exposures are important, they allow you to face your fears and move forward. 

REACH OUT: This could be done in so many different ways.  But put simply, reaching out to people when I need support, and offering support to those who need it. I just came across The World Needs More Love Letters, and I'm looking forward to sending out some letters to people who need it. Its very little effort from me, but could mean the world to someone else. And, I'm not ashamed to say that it's very therapeutic for me as well. 
I've also decided that therapy will always be an essential part of my life, and I think I would like to return to that. I wasn't sure if I should continue going to therapy, if it would be a crutch while trying to learn how to process my own emotions. But, I think everyone needs time and space to talk openly about what they are feeling, and I am no exception. 

LET GO: Just breath. Allow mistakes. Try new things. Dance, flail, create as much skin-to-skin contact as you can, without judging. Observe. Reset. 

I remember reading a blog written by the sister of Kath Younger from Kath Eats Real Food, and it was about how to claim your life back post-graduation. I didn't exactly connect with it then, but I finally understand that entering the workforce can totally consume your life if you let it. Not that there aren't useful skills/ joys to gain from work itself, but there is so much more to living than work ( though some days it doesn't seem like it). I think this blog is claiming my life after many years of a life focused on depression and anxiety, and perhaps only on the negative parts of existence. 

Thank you so much for reading! 
I'll be back soon 
Lia 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Post-Grad Life

This is the first time I've really sat down to take a breath since I crossed the stage to receive that all-important (fake) diploma. My mind has been spinning with the new trials of "adulthood". Get a job, find a place to live, feed yourself, attempt not to move back in with mom and dad. Not to mention you're basically floating in this strange abyss, simultaneously more you than you've ever been yet struggling to figure out your path.
Even now, I feel a wave of anxiety wash over me as I sit in my somewhat quiet house. Coming from a co-op of sixty people, this new four-person abode feels like such a foreign place. It's a beautiful home, one that I'm lucky to have found, but its new. It always takes my system awhile to adjust to new surroundings.
But lets back up.
After I graduated, I was struck with the task of finding housing and a job (any job really). It was extremely nerve-wracking, so I put it off for about half of the summer. But you can only procrastinate for so long. Eventually, it was time. After an extremely short searching period, an opportunity dropped in my lap. A beautiful house in West Oakland, with four people I barely knew. A younger me would have never jumped on such an unpredictable housing situation. But, at this point in my life, with so much uncertainty, I figure I have to take a few leaps. So here I am, the second night in my home, getting used to the new sounds, smells, and people.

As for my therapy, the last time I checked in I was attending CBT in my hometown once a week. My therapy included constant exposures, where I would purposefully think about or bombard myself with visuals of things that absolutely terrified me. Suicide, insanity, global warming, any uncertainty, etc. There were days that I avoided them as much as a could, and days that I tackled them as soon as I got up. I'm not going to deny it, it was tough to commit to such a rigorous therapy course, especially in the midst of a stressful, transitional time in my life. But I can truly say that I'm proud of the progress I've made, even when I felt like crawling in a hole most of the time. It's paid off, in so many ways. I feel more capable to handle my life than ever before. I can't really believe that I've gotten to this point. I completed my last session last week, and I actually feel good about venturing into the world without therapy. I can't say I won't go back, but I'm testing out the waters with my newly found skills. Wish me luck!

On the job front, I'm awaiting a new position opening up in Sept. I don't want to say what, just to be safe, but it's going to be an amazing experience. I was walking around SF today in a daze, so proud/ stoked/ blown-away at my post-grad life! I was so afraid that I wouldn't have my shit together, that I would have to move back home, that I couldn't hack it as an adult. Sometimes your fears are just...fears.  In the meantime, I'll continue to work for Natty Cakes and Three Babes Bakeshop, two of my favorite businesses. I'm glad I get to continue with them for a bit longer, its rough to leave jobs when you're so attached to your bosses (You guys reading this shit?)

So life is moving, I'm just along for the ride.

In other news, here's some pictures from Natty Cakes, Three Babes, and a very special birthday.

Flutin' for The Babes 





Rich Chocolate Gems made with Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan pie 


Working on a lemon buttermilk cake for Loretta's 1st Birthday <3







For now, that's all I have to report. I'll be back, hopefully with some job updates but definitely with some mental health updates. 

Lia 






Monday, June 15, 2015

New Bakes and a Meditation check-in

It's been quite awhile since I've posted any pictures of desserts.... yeah, its a travesty. I am deeply sorry, and (slightly mad at myself) for not being better at documenting all the baked goods I encounter on my day to day. They deserve to be seen!
So, that being said, I have a few pictures lined up to get you right back up to speed.

First up, birthday treats! Both my friends Avi and Leah (the first) had birthdays in the past few months. And what better gift than sweet sugary bliss? For Avi, after some prodding, I found out that he liked the peanut butter/ chocolate combo, and decided on a layer cake. I need all the practice I can get with layer cakes, so it was a two-birds-with-one-stone situation.
Here she is!


Truth be told, I did go a little crazy with the side decoration. Once I started I just couldn't stop! 

 
I also ended up with a bunch of extra batter, so I made cupcakes for my house mates. They were demolished pretty quickly. 

For Leah's birthday, I made her a batch of salted caramel brownies. I've been making a lot of salted caramel at work, so it felt pretty comfortable to incorporate into her present. 

Whaddup sexy. 


Ta da! I didn't get a chance to try them but it sounded like they were enjoyed. Leah had to wrap them up and hide them at one point so that she was guaranteed the rest. 

My aunt had a paella party/ graduation celebration to honor my recent entrance into the "real" world, so I made a huge pan of brown butter blondies. For some reason, I rarely ever make treats to bring to my relatives house, and they bug me about it every time. This time, I came prepared. 


This is the browned butter. You can see how the butter solids separated and browned, giving the blondies a delicious nutty, almost caramel flavor. 


Big ol' pile of dough. 


I didn't take a picture of the finished product, but here they are about to head into the oven! 

I also baked some standard brownies while babysitting (or sitting around while the baby slept), but I wasn't super impressed with how they came out. I think I could tell from the recipe that they weren't going to be the dense, fudgy kind that I am addicted to, but I went for it anyways. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. I'll just post a picture of the batter, because that was certainly on-point. 


I like making brownies just so I can get some of that batter. Drool. I can imagine that being killer with some vanilla ice-cream...

A quick update on my meditation so far. I think I have been doing a pretty good job incorporating it into my day. I do miss somedays, especially if I have to wake up early and feel too rushed to fit it in. I had been doing 5 minutes at a time, but now I'm increasing it to ten minutes. I'm finding that I need a little more time to sink in to it, and allow my mind to move freely. It's not as if it really stops my thoughts, but it allows them to soften, to detach from the constant flight-or-fight response that they tend to activate. It's pretty amazing to watch my mind from an observant perspective. It's capable of so much, but it gets caught up in certain small aspects of my day. I'm learning to keep moving forward, to let uncomfortable feelings exist. 
I have used a guided meditation through UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and it can be really helpful if I'm having a particularly anxious day. 
It's not perfect, but I'm willing to keep trying. I'm excited to see what else I find in the practice. 
<3 Lia



Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Meditation Challenge


So I've been trying to meditate. Again.
I've been sitting in my bed every morning, as soon as I wake up, and tuning in to the flow of my breathing. I watch as my thoughts swirl and tie themselves in knots. I watch as they cause tension in my shoulders, my stomach, my face, until they move on again and my body relaxes. I can feel the anxiety and uncomfortableness of sitting still, of allowing my thoughts and pulling back on my desire to control them. And I feel the cool air flowing in through my nostrils and then out through my mouth, slightly warmed from its travels.
It feels like an entire process that I have to mentally prepare for, but someone walking in on me would just see a girl sitting in bed, breathing. It is as simple, and yet as mentally confounding as anything I've ever experienced.
I keep coming back to the concept of meditating, starting and then stopping again, feeling guilty but lacking the discipline to continue. But I think as time passes, and I learn more about myself and how my brain works, I find the desire to meditate grows stronger. And when I think about the ebb and flow of life, its understandable that meditation can sometimes decrease and increase with need. However, I think that making it more of a consistent part of my day would really push me in the right direction with my mental health. So....here comes the challenge.
I'm going to commit to meditation in the morning and night, starting with 5 minutes at a time and moving on to 10 minutes the next week. I'm starting small because I find that easing your way in to habits is really the best way to go. When you dive in, it becomes too overwhelming and you stop. Perhaps thats not the case with everybody, but it certainly is with me. Plus, I want this to stick, so I think the best way for that to occur is to be slow and steady.

I think one of the main reasons for meditation, at least in my practice, is to train my body and mind to handle negative emotion. Not control it, not push it away because it is uncomfortable, but to sit with it. My mind, the tricky devil that it is, has slowly been collecting these different compensatory habits over the years that will prevent me from feeling the full force of my emotions. When I feel something "bad", I immediately feel the need to counteract it with...anything. That might be something as mellow as just switching positions, going outside, picking up my phone and mildly scrolling, or trying to find someone to talk to at that moment so as to distract myself. Or it might be more damaging things, such as restricting my diet/ eating to cope, hiding myself inside for hours upon hours, or using drugs/ alcohol for more than recreation. I've found that my brain is so accustomed to having these safety nets at my disposal that to sit and just concentrate on my breathing is an extremely difficult task. My thoughts will be screaming, "Move! You need to move!", as if something so terrible is speeding in my direction and I only have seconds to jump out of the way. My body starts to itch, fingers tremble, and my heart's beating becomes louder and louder. I can't even be sure what I am running from, all I know is I've been running too long and its time to stop and face my fears head on.
To put it simply, I'm teaching myself how to feel sad. 
It's a completely alien concept for me, and yet it seems so basic. I've been sad before, haven't I? I should know how to do it. And yet, when I really think back on the many different times that I've been sad/ angry/ embarrassed/ nervous, I can't help but see all the different ways that I avoided confronting the brute force of these feelings. And even as I watch my thoughts, I can see the way that my brain "jerks" every time I feel something I don't like. As if I am so afraid of just allowing the concept of feeling bad to exist in my mind, that my brain has found a way to shut it out. I think i've always considered negative feelings to be unacceptable, and yet the more I pushed them away, the more they pushed back. That's when you start to feel overwhelmed, like you are drowning. But, I'm ready to start feeling things again. It's time.

I've kind of already started doing this for a few weeks, but its been pretty inconsistent. I also noticed that I tend to reach straight for my phone/ computer when I wake up and as a way to calm me down before sleep. I'm planning on putting both on my desk before I go to sleep, so that I can focus on the meditation as a top priority. I've used guided meditation in the past, like the Headspace app., but I think I can manage on my own this time. I like the idea of quiet, just me and the space around me. This morning, I managed to get out of bed and start meditating right away. I took notes after my five minutes, and I noticed a lot of internal resistance. That was to be expected. But I also noticed a moment of calm, of clarity. It only lasted a few seconds, but it felt good. It gave me hope for the future.

I'll keep you updated on my progress as I go along. And if anyone wants to do a meditation challenge with me, I'd be happy to keep you motivated. Let's get our meditation on.

Lia






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!