Saturday, March 03, 2012

Thanks a lot...

Thursday wasn't my best day. I was not in top form. I did not find sunshine and rainbows around every corner, nor did I shrug my shoulders with nonchalant indifference when things weren't going my way. No... instead, I allowed every little mundane bother to weigh on my mind until even more mundane, less bothersome things seemed insurmountable.

And nothing horrible or earth-shattering occurred. It was just "one of those days." I've had some freelance work this past week -- of the "very deadline oriented" variety -- and I woke up Thursday morning, ate breakfast, got some coffee brewing, and then immediately tackled my work. I was finished by 11:00 -- and, happy that I'd have the finished product back to the originator before noon, scanned in the 23-page document and sent the pdf in an email. And then I got down to the REAL work of the day: baking a cake for my dad's 70th birthday party.

And I'm sort of weird when it comes to baking -- I really, really love it. Mixing together butter and sugar and vanilla is strangely hypnotic and relaxing. (And am I the only one who actually thinks butter and sugar and vanilla -- JUST butter and sugar and vanilla -- taste really good?? I always sneak a sugary bite before I add any eggs or flour...) And I was particularly excited about this cake, because a couple weeks earlier (knowing that I'd soon be baking a cake), I splurged and bought vanilla beans at the grocery store. Not vanilla extract -- actual vanilla BEANS. They are ridiculously expensive, but I've always heard that the flavor is superior to extract. And I thought that a special-occasion cake would be the perfect time to experiment -- I decided to make a chocolate cake with a vanilla bean frosting.

But sometime between mixing the butter and sugar and gathering cocoa and flour, I checked my email and noticed that I had an error message. The file I'd sent so promptly hadn't gone through... it had been unceremoniously rejected by cyberspace. So I sent it again... (rejected again) and again... (nope)... and again (aaarrrggghhhhh). I finally tried shutting down my computer, re-attaching the file to an email message, and sending it again. THIS time I didn't receive an error message. However, Rick (who is much more computer-savvy than I am), said I should check with my contact to make sure the file actually DID go through, because he thought the attachment might've been too large. And he turned out to be correct -- the file STILL didn't go through, because the pdf file was too large. So after some tweaking, I was able to send a smaller file that DID finally make a complete journey to the other side.

By this time, it was past 2 o'clock, and I was stressed out by the fact that my work hadn't made it back to its originator by my (admittedly self-imposed) 11 o'clock deadline. But I tried to put it behind me and tackle the frosting for my cake (the cake itself having baked quite nicely). But something went wrong -- apparently the milk I added to thin the consistency of the frosting was too cold, and it caused the butter to seize. I ended up with a strangely fluffy, slightly separated sort of buttercream. I went to the internet to find a solution: half of what I read said that the solution was to heat the frosting... the other half said to cool it down. I tried both. Neither worked.

I don't think I've ever cried over a baked good... but the combination of my morning of work, the frustrating email issues, and an epic failure of frosting (that I'd not only been looking forward to making for weeks, but also spent extra money on so the frosting would be extra-special) brought me to tears.

And that extra-long story was simply to get to this: I recently read that researchers believe we should all write down five things we're thankful for once a week. Apparently, the act of thinking about the GOOD things in our lives and writing them down can contribute to our overall happiness. So instead of allowing the frustrations of my Thursday to affect me so negatively, I should've turned it all around:

1. I'm thankful for coffee, because coffee is awesome.
2. I'm thankful that people have enough confidence in my abilities to give me freelance work now and then.
3. I'm thankful that my finances are such that I was able to buy ridiculously expensive vanilla beans.
4. I'm thankful for my dad, who is totally proving my assertion that 70 is the new 40.
5. I'm thankful for all my family and friends who actually said my cake was good, even after I'd spent an hour trying to fix the failed frosting and another hour crying about it.



LL Cool Joe said...

Well it sounds like a stressful day, but the cake turned out well and your client finally got the email. So really it was a good day in the end.

I like the idea of finding 5 positive things to write about each week, I may do that on my blog from time to time.

Mom said...

For some reason, I haven't checked your blog in a few days. I'm sorry you stressed over the frosting. It tasted GREAT as did the whole cake!! Thanks again for making it.