I came to the above realization tonight after a frustrating day at work. It was long, I was tired. My attitude was all out of whack. Hubby has been working excessively this weekend/week, finishing up a grant that's due tomorrow. All that equals a Very Grumpy Mel. So I went to the Y, burned through about 2 miles of aggression, and then went to the grocery store. Some girls go for shoes, but I go for the overstuffed produce bins and organized aisles of my local grocery. And there, walking the familiar rows, I find the world melting away and my imagination spinning with thoughts of new dishes and old favorites as new ingredients jump off the shelf. It always makes me laugh when women say they hate grocery shopping, because it is absolutely one of my favorite things to do, second to the actual cooking and serving of the food. Tonight, my therapy worked ... I brought home a much-improved demeanor and all kinds of delicious goodies to cook over the next few days. It's the stress reliever that keeps on giving!
Anyway, now that I've waxed poetic about my unusual adoration for the grocery store, I have to share a little triumph from today!
I've already mentioned that today was rather unpleasant ... more than just circumstantial unpleasantness, but the kind that brings out the ugly side of my soul and I really just can't stand myself. We all have those days. So it turns into this nasty cycle of self-righteousness and self-loathing ... know what I mean?
All that to say, I was pretty down on myself. The workout burned off the outer layer of nastiness, and then the grocery store melted away the hardness around my heart. And then I came home to make a birthday cake for a co-worker ... and making birthday cakes makes me happier than just about anything.
I ate frozen pizza, drank a Dos Perros, and broke into a pint of peanut butter ice cream. (Recalling my earlier grumpiness and my 2 miles on the treadmil, thereby justifying the calories. ) This is a favorite routine, but one that I normally share with my aforementioned absent husband. Then after dinner, I decorated my cake!
I'm so proud of this little cake. I'm never, ever happy with my cakes ... and I'm not entirely happy with this one, but two things about it stand out to me as special. The first is that I finally found unbleached cake flour (thanks to the ever-addictive King Arthur Flour) ... cake flour is typically bleached, which makes it so light and fluffy. I got to use the unbleached cake flour in this cake (based on the fabulous Ina Garten's flower cake recipe). I'm excited to taste it tomorrow and see if there is a difference!
I made a little strawberry sauce for the middle layer with some fresh strawberries, and then made a stiff buttercream to decorate the cake with a basketweave. I don't basketweave often, but tonight I felt like taking the time. (Cake decorating, when my intense self-criticism is dampened by, say, a beer or two, is actually quite relaxing.)
This was my inspiration, from Epicurious:
Isn't it pretty and summery? Perfect for the May birthday of one of the sweetest women I know.
Here's my interpretation:
I'm so happy with how it turned out! It's not perfect by any stretch, but it makes me happy. I can't wait to share it tomorrow.
So the moral of tonight's story? I'm learning what makes me happy, and I'm learning to be okay with pursuing those things. I was talking to my dear friend Tabitha last night about something that makes her happy, and she was so emphatic it got me to thinking. And today, in the midst of work craziness and personal disappointment, I remembered what I love, what makes me happy. So I did it. I went to the grocery store. I baked a cake for a sweet friend. I decorated. I relaxed. I had a beer. It was a good day, and I'll sleep well tonight ... if only my husband would come home soon! (Because he makes me happiest of all!)