Category Archives: Random Inspiration

Wisely Wasting Time

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I have a little inspirational card set sitting on my kitchen window sill – I switch the card every morning.  Some are “keepers”  as my husband calls them.   Others don’t seem as meaningful.  But I always think about its message through the day – when I glance out the window to see the birds at the feeder, when I grab a glass of water, when I wash the dishes.  And there’s something about that,  those unintentional reminders, that I like.

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This morning’s quote was:
Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
– Auguste Rodin

I pondered it as I wasted the entire morning making a cake to bring to my parents.  I had contemplated just buying something from a bakery instead. It definitely would have been quicker, it definitely would have been easier, and as for tastiness – well, that would remain to be seen.

But I had committed to using the left over chestnut cream that was taking up space in my parents’ freezer.  It was a creation that my aunt was adamant about making with my ailing father when she came for a visit.  She had wanted my parents to use & enjoy this taste from my father’s childhood in Italy.  It seemed so important for her to share it. It was what help she could give – a little part of herself – to help in a hopeless situation. She didn’t just make food, she imbued it with every bit of hope and caring that she could.  Unfortunately, with my father’s illness, my parents just haven’t been able to muster the energy to do anything with it.

So, there I was this morning trying to figure out what the heck I could do with chestnut cream, a sweet, somewhat unusual tasting, slightly watery paste that I’ve never had in my life.

I spent hours on the cake, literally hours…

There was so much more I should have been doing.  I should have been paying the bills.  I should have been doing laundry.  I should have been exercising.  I should have been digging into my grad work.  I should have been pursuing freelancing leads.  I should have been cleaning out the basement…and on and on…

But instead, I wasted time adapting a sponge cake recipe to be layered with chestnut cream and smothered with chocolate ganache.  I stalwartly put all those things I should have been doing out of my mind as best I could.  After getting the news earlier this week that the cancer my father has been fighting for four years has spread to his bone, I just wanted some time to not think – at least not about anything important.  So, I immersed myself in the baking process and let me mind focus on happier things.

After the cake was baked and layered with the cream, it was finally time for the ganache – the part I had been waiting for.  I followed the simple recipe with some skepticism; I had definite doubts about how well the cream would melt the chocolate.  With whisk in hand, I prepared myself for disappointment as I began to stir.  Amazingly, it worked!  As I stirred, the chocolate smoothly mixed with the cream creating the silky ganache I had hoped for.

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And I found myself thinking:

There, you just have to have faith and see it through.  Things do work out.

And I stopped in my tracks as I was struck by that thought – a comfort during this time of shadows for my family.  I’m realistic – the doctors have been pretty clear about where my father’s illness will ultimately lead him.  But I’m reminded that faith and hope do help see people through hard times, even when there is no happy ending.

So, how was the cake?   Meh…I wasn’t thrilled with the end result.  Honestly, it wasn’t worth the time it took to make it, but I don’t think those hours were truly wasted.  Maybe I didn’t create the dessert I envisioned, but I got much more then that.  I got some quiet time for myself when my mind was able to find a bit of peace in an unlikely moment.  And I’ll try to remember that “things do work out” one way or another.

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Suck it up, Cupcake! – A Lesson about “Perfection”

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I’m a great fan of the cupcake.
I’m an even  greater fan of finding wisdom in unexpected places.
~ ~ ~

A CupcakeSeveral years ago, while chatting with a scout leader at a national park, I was lucky enough to find exactly that… the wisdom, not the cupcake.

We were talking about the awful weather we were having & I asked if the scouts were still going to camp out.   He told me that his troop had a saying that summed up those kinds of situations: “Suck it up,  Cupcake!”  The scouts would just have to deal with it – because it was for their own good.

He told me a story about a group vacation he had been on with a few other families.  When they all arrived at the beach resort, they were cautioned about the rip tide that was making swimming unsafe that day.   One of the fathers became furious – he declared he hadn’t come all that way to look at a rip tide and immediately packed his family back into his van and sped off.  If it wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t going to deal with it.

It was at this point that the scout leader (aka my Yoda-like inspirer) imparted this great wisdom that I often think about till this day:  “Things in life aren’t going to be perfect… You’re never going to have a perfect job, or a perfect house, or a perfect relationship. You need to work at things and make your own happiness.   What kind of example would I be setting for my scouts if we just gave up anytime things got a little rough? So I say Suck it up, Cupcake! ”

A Harmed CupcakeI was struck by this wisdom of healthy acceptance & perseverance.  How often do I allow an entire situation to go sour just because it isn’t “perfect”?   What minutia do I succumb to that ruins what should be fun or good or rewarding?  Sadly, this happens much more than it should… But I’m working on it.

As for cupcakes – well, I must inform you that one cupcake was harmed in the making of this blog post… It might not have been the perfect cupcake, but it was still good – and that was good enough.

Who knew wisdom could taste so sweet?