Today I felt an overwhelming desire to both get things done and know how those things will turn out. This reminded me of a day from my first quarter of graduate school when I got some advice I did not so much want, but did so much need.
Our professor had separated our class into small groups. I do not recall what we were supposed to be working on, but I do recall that we were not so much working as we were talking about adjusting to our first quarter with the big kids.
For me, the adjustment was not all that severe. I’d spent the past four years at the same school doing my undergraduate work, so I did not need to familiarize myself with much. Instead of wondering about campus, like many of my classmates who completed their undergrad degrees at other schools were, I was worrying about getting stuff done.
I was carrying on about how I had not yet, on Monday, written a paper that was due on Thursday. A classmate did her best to look at me like I wasn’t out of my mind as she calmly said, “It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself.”
Really? You mean feeling stressed over something days ahead in the future is counter-productive? Really?
Not everyone is motivated in the same way, but I once read that worrying is like praying for something bad to happen. As much as I crave a schedule, once I took my classmate’s advice to heart, I began to realize how peaceful taking one day a time could be.
Once I completed my degree and began working as a hospice social worker, literally dealing with the forces of life and death that paid no mind to schedules, I was forced to go with the flow.
Living each day at a time has taken nearly a decade of practice. It is not always easy to stay in the present moment when I think about how perfect my life will be when I when reach so-and-so milestone. It is easy to get back to the present moment by remembering I do not want to lose my life to the “if onlys”. If only I were thinner…if only I were wealthier…if only I had ordered dessert. 😉
One thing I’ve liked worrying about the past few weeks is when I was going to bake these Chinese Five Spice carrot cake cupcakes. I sampled one while out shopping a few weeks ago, and the moment I popped a bite in my mouth, I knew I’d be baking them soon.
In addition to Chinese Five Spice, the carrot cake gets a flavor upgrade from a little crushed pineapple too. A delicious cupcake on its own, these taste even better once topped with ginger cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are worth turning on the oven for. Enjoy!
Chinese Five Spice Carrot Cupcakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded carrots (3 to 4 medium sized carrots)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
optional: crystalized ginger for garnish
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, Chinese Five Spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the carrots, sugar, vegetable oil, crushed pineapple, eggs, and vanilla.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl, and beat until just combined.
- Fill each well of a muffin pan lined with paper liners about 3/4 full with batter.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ground ginger in a mixing bowl and beat until combined.
- Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- If desired, garnish the cupcakes with crystalized ginger.