A Glass of Cabernet to Gulp Down my Fears

I am back, again. 1 year ago I wrote about my return to blogging. I mourned my failed senior project and promised to start anew, and fall back in love with words… And now it has been yet another year, and here I am. 0 blog posts under my belt and so much time wasted.

Girl, Wash Your Face

Lately, I’ve been listening to “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. If you haven’t read the book, close this post now and go read it because it is life-altering. If you have; then you probably already know why I’m here. Rachel tells you to write down your dreams and your goals and work like hell to follow them. As a girl who has been without a dream for a while now, I knew this was something that I needed to do. So I sat. And I stared at the blank paper before me and I wrote. I thought about all of the things that I would love to accomplish if I knew that failer was absolutely not an option. The result looked something like this:

Goals

As a daughter of 2 high school teachers, this list is stressful for me to read even now. Growing up in a small town means having an easily titled profession like: “nurse”, “police officer”, or “a waitress at The Galley”. But from a young age, I knew that my life would not be so easily titled. Below are some examples of conversations to prove my point:

Middle-aged, Decatur adult: “So Jamie, what are you studying?”
“Communication”
“Oh… so like you’ll be on the news?”
Hmm. Not quite. Let’s try “Public Relations”
“Oh… so like in politics?.. but not for that nasty Obama, right?”
Still no. Maybe event planning?
“Fun! So weddings?”

This has continued throughout my college experience, driving me constantly to calling my mom and sobbing that I am giving up and just becoming a teacher.

The same still applies today. I wish that I could easily compile the above list to just one word but that would be impossible. That’s because the list above doesn’t just describe what I want to do to make money, it describes an entire lifestyle. Some parts are specific and some parts are definitely not, but that’s okay because in my mind I can see it so clearly.

So here’s the challenge: 1 blog post every week for 2 months. Some might be short and some incredibly long. The topics? Endless. Cooking, baking, dog owning, wine drinking, and all around adjusting to my life as a young twenty-something. I’m here for it, and I hope that you are too.

Week 1 out of 8 – done.

My Return

It has been over a year since I have visited this blog. I started Baked Goods and Big Smiles the summer of my sophomore year of college, a time that I still have so many fond memories from. Now I am 22 and recently graduated. I would like to say that coming back here has made me realize how much I’ve grown, but if anything I feel the opposite. On these pages, I remember the first taste of writing for others. I remember everything feeling so new and I remember not caring about what my photos looked like or how many likes I got. I just did the things and then I wrote about them. That made me happy.

For my senior project, I attempted to take my love for blogging to the next level. I wrote a business plan, set my goals high and my anxieties higher. Blogging went from something I did for myself, to something I did for so many others. Every week I gave a summary of how the blog was doing and every week I had nothing to feel proud of. I had lost my happiness in the form of words.

Now, as I squirm through my twenties feeling a little lost and a little dull I find myself aching for those days of blogging simply because I liked it. So here I am. 2 years older and desperately aching to fill a void that seems to continue growing. Quirky and Sweet, I am still learning as I go.

Stop Telling Me That I’m Stressed

Stop

Telling me that I work too hard.

Telling me that I look tired.

Asking me if I’m getting enough sleep.

Telling me to take a break.

Telling me that I’m stressed.

I am twenty years old and perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Do you know how those questions make me feel? They make me feel more tired and more stressed and most excruciating; they make me feel like I am not enough.

By telling someone that they look tired you are telling them that they look bad. Do not try to sugarcoat it. Because what does tired or stressed mean? It means bags under your eyes, hair not done, make-up nonexistent. Guess what? I can have all of those on my best days.

By telling someone that they work too hard, you are making their work feel unnecessary. You make them feel obnoxious, when really you’re just trying to make your own lack of work seem better.

I know that none of these comments are meant to cause harm. I know you are just worried about me, so instead..

Start

Telling me I’m doing a great job.

Telling me I look refreshed.

Telling me that the work I do is meaningful.

 

The only person in charge of my schedule is myself.. and my mother. I love being ambitious. I love juggling a million responsibilities. Some people don’t but that doesn’t mean we should hinder the spirits of a person who loves what they do.

You Are Not Your Social Media

Here’s a crazy thought. Hang with me for a second…

Just because you don’t post about it, doesn’t mean it did not happen.

Go ahead and take a moment to absorb that. We have plenty of time.

Lately I have realized that I have become so obsessed with how I look on social media that I’m not living in the moment. I find myself enjoying the amazing people in my life and suddenly desperately searching for a photo op so I can post it on Instagram. Or hearing an amazing quote from a friend and rather than really listening, I’m preparing to quote them on Twitter. And it’s gross. So I repeat…

Just because you don’t post about it, doesn’t mean it did not happen.

Just because I don’t constantly share pictures with my best friend does not mean that I don’t love her. Just because I don’t always post a #ThrowbackThursday does not mean that I don’t appreciate past memories. I am not my social media accounts. I am a person with my own memories and thoughts.

I’m not going to call it a resolution. I’m going to call it a promise.. to live in the moment. To stop reaching for my phone, and reach for a drink instead. To actually get my photo’s printed so that I can marvel at them on my bedroom wall instead of my Facebook wall.

I love you social media. But I refuse to fall victim to you.

The Baking Challenge: Closing

Hello my friends. I hope you have had the warmest of holidays including family, blankets, and losing track of what day it is. While I have spent half of my week off sick in bed, I can’t complain too much after much needed quality Jamie/Bed time. I’m writing now not to share with you my fabulous baking adventures, but because I am feeling inspired through a glimpse of creativity.

As for my “2015 Christmas Baking Challenge” It ended much quicker than expected due to my own poor planning. We’ll call in an idea of “good intentions” and move on.

In one month I will be uprooting my whole life and moving to Orlando Florida. It is my greatest dream to bring magic to family’s lives and now through the Disney College Program I am given that chance. I am thrilled. I am terrified. I know this is where I belong.

Are you still reading? You’re the sweetest.

What I’ve been listening to: As a huge fan of GIRLS, I am devouring Lena Dunham’s podcast “Women of the Hour” . If you’re into contemplating life, love, and friendship through Lena’s beautiful banter, this is where you belong.

What i’ve been reading: I just completed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. This book is simple. Form the beginning the narrator states that you will not learn anything from this book and thats true. But sometimes in a world where we feel so pressured to constantly improve ourselves, not learning is refreshing.

What i’ve been watching: Rented Aloha and Trainwreck over break. Aloha: I love Emma Stone, but I understand people’s frustrations with the lack of Hawaiian casting. Yet, she is Emma Stone and she is delightful, the rest of the film is meh.
Trainwreck: The first time I watched it I was obsessed, now that I re-watch it 5 months later i’m frustrated by the main character. Maybe it’s my own growth? Maybe it’s the movie.

If you have made it this far I adore you for being so interested in my own thoughts. Thank you for everything you do, let’s try to get through January together.

Day 9: Peppermint Ganache Cups

What? Ganache?! Are you crazy? That sounds hard!

Don’t worry. Take a breath. I was scared too, but it turns out this is so simple!

These delightful little chocolate cups were my very first candy making experience. No oven required, I’ve always heard horror stories about burning chocolate but I faced my fears and ended with marvelous results.

The bottom layer is an intense dark chocolate, peppermint ganache quickly topped with a creamy white chocolate layer finally sprinkled with crumbled candy canes. I took them to a Christmas party and they were quickly gone. They look cute and make for the perfect bite-sized refresher.

Ingredients
8 oz. dark chocolate (semi- sweet would be good too)
8 oz. white chocolate
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 tsp. peppermint
5 crushed candy canes (I used mini)

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To begin we start with a double boiler. I know, I’ve never used one before either but you will quickly realize this contraption is a masterpiece!

Dark chocolate, peppermint, and whipping cream go in the pot.

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This looks nice.

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But this looks so much nicer. Out of sheer fear, I stirred mine constantly to assure no burnt chocolate. You can live your life on the edge if you want to and stir occasionally.

Once melted, it’s time to fill out mini cups.

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Fill them half way, a spoon and mini spatula do the job nicely. Fingers could work too. Admire your work and let them sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. To pass the time, lick out the bowl.. and then wash it because we’ll need it again to melt the white chocolate.

White chocolate goes in the double boiler and once melted sits beautifully atop the dark chocolate ganache. (Apparently I was so mesmerized by the melting white chocolate that I forgot to take a picture of it.

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Candy canes get pulverized. I used the butt of a knife. You use what works best.

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Back in the fridge for another 30 minutes and they are ready. Quick, simple. They made me happy and I hope they make you happy too.

 

 

Day 8: Chocolate Pie

I am now one week into my Christmas break and after having time to reflect and meditate on my semester of ups and downs I have come to one zen attitude towards love and life.

minnie

If you haven’t seen The Help you need to in order to properly make this chocolate “eat my shit” pie. The recipe is simple, wonderful, and I may or may not have already eaten half of it. I have no shame. Let’s get started.

My favorite part of this recipe is that you throw all of the ingredients into one saucepan and mix it all up. No “slowly incorporate” or “mix each individual egg”. This recipe is a one-pan wonder.

Ingredients:
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 c. cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

All goes in a large saucepan constantly stirred on medium/high heat. I use a whisk for mine and beat mine well in order to get the clumps out from the cornstarch. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium/low. Keep whisking for roughly 5 minutes or until it thickens.

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AKA whisk it until it looks so luxurious you would want to bathe in it. Whisk until you start having dirty thoughts about it. This is a beautiful pie. I really love this pie.

I’m sorry. Once thickened pour into a baked pie shell (I used store bought and I DON’T CARE). Now comes the hardest part… Let this pie cool for 30 minutes AND THEN it goes to the fridge for at least 4 hours…. 4… hours. It’s excruciating. Boarder line torturous.

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Since I usually bake at night, this meant me waiting until 2 in the morning to eat chocolate pie in my pajamas. What a wonderful life we live.

Day 3: Sugar Coated Pecans

As I begin my first few days of sweet sweet Christmas break, I find myself focusing on the little things. Like spending my evenings doing yoga, re-watching Gilmore Girls, and stuffing my face with handfuls of sugary pecans.

The recipe is simple and found thanks to allrecipes. I’ll walk you through the basics but I know you can do this without pictures. It’s easy I promise.

Ingredients:
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
1 lb pecan halves
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Yes, if you’re comparing recipes, I did up the cinnamon amount. I live by my own rules. I do what I want. I live life on the edge. You should do.

Here’s what you gotta do:

  1. Beat that egg white until it’s frothy.
  2. Add pecans to egg white, mix until covered.
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
  4. Add coated pecans to dry ingredients and mix real good.
  5. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes (or so, I cheated a little. They were fine.)

Your kitchen will smell like heaven, people will taste one, and then take a handful, and declare you as a god. It’s a nice feeling. You’ll make another batch before the end of the week.

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The next day (day 4 of the challenge) I made blueberry muffins. They photographed much better than the pecans and fill me with joy.

Day 2: Chocolate Swiss Roll

Remember in the days of your youth when you would pig out on those Little Debbie Swiss Rolls? And then you grew up and realized they’re a zillion calories and swore them off for good? Me too.

My grandma is famous for making her pumpkin roll, which my mother never likes due to her distaste for all things pumpkin flavored. So, I decided to pay homage to both her and my childhood days and make a chocolate swiss roll. I figured it seemed easy enough… boy was I wrong

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Do you see that? That is the eye of evil. Just kidding. But to be honest, this was not one of my favorite baking adventures. The swiss roll takes a lot of time, love and patience. Three things I sometimes lack. However, if you do feel truly worthy of such a task, then let’s begin.

First we select a half-baking sheet which follows with Jamie’s Mistake #1. USE PARCHMENT PAPER. This cake sticks to the pan like none I have every seen before and a cooking spray/flour combo will simply not do. Our oven is preheated to 425 degrees and 3 bowls of different sizes are plucked from the shelf because these ingredients hate each other.

Bowl #1: a small bowl for dry ingredients;  cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder) sift them together.

Bowl #2: In a medium bowl, 4 egg whites whisked until they just can’t take it no more (aka soft peaks). This is my favorite part. I love watching the ooey-gooey egg white transform into soft puffy love (i’m poetic like that).

Bowl #3: In a large bowl, the 4 egg yolks and sugar are beaten until they lose their dark color and turn a beautiful light yellow.

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So, now you have something like this. Great, you are totally nailing this swiss roll. Don’t get cocky.

First add the dry ingredients into the egg YOLK bowl. It’s going to be rough but stay strong. Next slowly incorporate the egg WHITE into the mixture which will thin the batter out a little bit. Marvelous, now you’re left with one bowl which get’s poured into your PARCHMENT LINED sheet. (Capitalization is used for your own good. I’m not trying to yell.)

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How nice is that? Too bad that after it’s baked for 6 minutes it will come out looking like this…IMG_4563

Horror. Absolute horror. It took a lot of sweet talk to get this poor cake out of my floured pan. A lot of “it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay, you can do this. Don’t break apart we can do this together.” I’m not sure if I was talking to the cake or myself. I’m also not sure which would be more weird.

Roll it up tightly in a towel while it cools so that it can take some time to form it’s spiral. Once it’s cooled fill it with whatever your heart desires. IMG_4564

My heart desired a mountain of vanilla buttercream. Jamie’s mistake #2, pay special attention to putting icing on all sides and corners so that every slice of cake is perfect and your pictures don’t suck.

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See? Not what I was going for.

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When you do roll your cake it will probably crack. It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just how life works. Don’t worry, we’re going to cover it with gaze and nobody will know.

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No problem. And the good news? Pretty much no matter how bad it looks, this chocolate swiss roll tastes amazing. Chocolate spungy cake and twice as much sweet buttercream; don’t count the calories in a “Little Debbie” fashion and try to forget how hard this actually was.

Ingredients
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
1/2 cup sugar

Jamie’s Christmas Baking Challenge 2015

Hi. How are you? How’s life? Yes, I’ve missed you too, so dearly. Now that my fall semester is over, I have a new surprise to make up for my prolonged absence… are you ready? Can I get a drumroll?

Introducing…

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The challenge: Starting this evening, December 11, 2015 until Christmas evening our contender, Jamie Schueler, will bake every single day. While the road may be difficult complete with fallen cakes and clumpy icing; she is willing to bet her mothers kitchen, 2 boxes of butter, and her own sanity for the sake of Christmas spirit. 

I hope you will follow me on this journey; because that’s what friends do right? And because i’m sure it will be a learning experience for us both. I promise to blog as often as possible and tell you all my baking secrets (there aren’t a lot). But most of all, I promise to have fun and to share my treats with the wonderful people who have made my life so exceptional this past semester.

I’m excited. Are you excited? Great. Let’s do this.

Continue reading “Jamie’s Christmas Baking Challenge 2015”