I hate being told to relax.
Winter break is over now, and as I look back at how I spent it, I’m in a funk. I want to be more laid back and take more time to just… I don’t know… Do absolutely nothing before I graduate, but I can’t even stand the thought of just… Not doing something.
I haven’t been blogging as much lately as I used to, but it’s because I’ve got other hobbies, projects, and personal things taking to forefront as I transition from school into reality.
Also, I’ve got a bad case of writer’s block in terms of personal things, and I can’t really figure out what to do about it.
Regardless, I’ve been keeping occupied, and I like it. I don’t mind being busy, because it means I’m accomplishing – or working at it at the very least – something. I’m driven by successes and the process of achieving it, so I feel like I’m wasting time if I’m not working on something. Which is why I’m not big on watching movies and television; if I’m going to be idle for any amount of time, I like to be doing something sort of productive, too. Cooking. Baking. Knitting. Drawing. I don’t want to just sit and consume. I want – no, need – to produce.
I had friends visiting a few weekends ago, and I while enjoyed their company immensely, I have never been more aware of how high-strung all of this can appear until they arrived.
It felt like I wasn’t doing enough the whole time because I was uncomfortable just sitting around. It wasn’t relaxing for me to not be active and helpful. And they, in turn, the masters of “chill,” were uncomfortable with my incessant needs to clean, organize, serve, and monitor.
So they told me to relax.
Eventually, I began to wonder what was wrong with me.
Maybe I’m being hyper-sensitive? Overly-concerned? Do I have anxiety? Am I depressed? Do I have OCD? Am I really that insecure?
They, of course, offered their own suggestions, and, not surprisingly, they didn’t help. The result of all of this was a somewhat caffeine-induced panic attack, complete with troubled breathing, a racing heart, and the need to just… You know… Sit down and relax for a second. Ironically.
And while I sat there, on the cold heartless cement outside of the new art museum, doing absolutely nothing, I had an epiphany.
I had been comparing myself to a pair of 26-year-old, single, happy-go-lucky, beer/wine loving dudes for THREE DAYS. No matter how close I was to either of them, there was no way in hell that they were ever going to understand me and my quirks because I’m a friggin’ girl, and… Well, folks. This is just life. No one can ever put themselves completely in someone elses’ shoes, huh?
I don’t care if I’m sensitive to stuff. Or if I’m constantly worried about how others are feeling or if they need more spaghetti or another glass of wine. Who gives a crap if having house guests – or anything else – makes me anxious? What’s the trouble with being a little insecure and liking everything to be orderly? I don’t care who it is, if someone is visiting me, I’m going to be all of these things because I want to do my best to please everyone. Because that’s what I like to do.
As the chill from the ground set in my bones, I myself began to chill.
I love the guys for their laid-back approach to everything in life. Seriously. They’re successful and cool and fun and neat and all sorts of other adjectives. But they’re not me. And it’s great.
Maybe my relaxation isn’t as relaxed and obvious as some, but it works for me.
I operate on my own frequency, at my own pace, with my own motivations, and toward my own goals.
Maybe they think I’m a little high-strung, but so what? I’m gonna continue to fill plates, glasses and tummies – and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
And don’t tell me to relax, either.
Gingerbread Monkey Bread with Creamy Whiskey Maple Glaze
I wouldn’t suggest putting this dough in the refrigerator, as it didn’t rise well for me after I pulled mine out in the morning (resulting in a somewhat dense, but still delicious, bread). Otherwise, I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I did. The additional spices and molasses work very well in this form. Don’t forget to load up on the glaze!
Gingerbread Monkey Bread
1 pkg (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/3 c warm water (110 degrees)
10 Tbsp butter, divided
1 c whole milk
1/4 c molasses
3 1/4 c flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter, room temp
1 c packed dark brown sugar
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, granulated sugar and warm water. Set aside for about 10 minutes, until the yeast activates and the mixture becomes foamy.
In a small saucepan, combine the
In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter butter, the milk, and the molasses. Heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally, and set aside to cool to room temp.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg with the paddle attachment. Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to low speed. While the mixer is running, slowly add the room temperature (or slightly warmer – you just have to be careful not to kill the yeast) molasses mixture, then the yeast mixture. When the dough comes together, mix for 7 minutes on medium-low, or until smooth. The dough will be sticky (sticking to the bottom of the bowl is fine), but if it seems too wet add up to 1/4 cup additional flour, one tablespoon at a time.
While the dough kneads, lightly oil a large bowl. Set aside.
After the dough is smooth, turn it onto lightly floured surface and knead for an additional minute by hand to form a smooth ball. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and roll to coat in oil. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the dough, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
Generously oil or butter the loaf pan. Put the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Place the brown sugar in another small bowl.
Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Cut dough into 64 pieces (8 rows by 8 columns), then roll the pieces into balls. One at a time, dip the balls in butter, then roll in brown sugar and place in the bundt pan, distributing as evenly as you’re able.
Cover the filled bundt pan with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise for 1 more hour. The balls should be puffy and about an inch below the top of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the monkey bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes, but no longer or you risk sticking. Invert onto a cake stand and cool for another 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with Creamy Whiskey Maple Glaze (below) and reserve the rest for dipping.