Have we talked about stress before? What about the pressure to be perfect, about feelings of inadequacy? All important things to discuss. Let’s.
I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. When I start a project, I like to be on top of it from A-Z. If I have a vision, I like it to be executed exactly how I see it. When it comes to this blog, although I’ve always only considered it a hobby, it’s the same. Even if I’ve spent hours on a post, assuming it would turn out a certain way, if at the last minute I deem it “unbloggable”, it goes. I always want to bring the best content to you and that means that sometimes, things don’t make the cut. I turn a critical eye to all of my work and while I put a lot of pressure on myself, it’s that pressure that drives me to constantly get better and learn more.
Last week, that pressure backfired on me. In a couple of days, I was inundated with a record number of job offers, had multiple companies reaching out to me and was asked to be part of various different projects. While I accepted many of those commitments, partly for fear of disappointing people, partly because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it all, feelings of inadequacy set in right away. That pressure that I always put on myself got 100 times more intense. Now, my work wasn’t just for me. It was for others, too. Anything I turned in had to be better than ever before, as close to perfect as possible. It didn’t matter if some tiny, logical part of me reminded me that they wanted me for the work they’d seen- that work was no longer good enough. I bent long, long hours over my laptop, losing track of time, unable to focus on anything but work. Rapidly approaching deadlines loomed ahead, messing up my planned-weeks-in-advance schedule. All sense of (I guess illusory) control slipped away from me. I felt pulled in a million directions, and the pressure mounted.
Then the obvious happened. Everything boiled over. Instead of being able to give my all to everything, I was only able to give my half. My quarter. My less than a quarter, even. A day of recipe testing in the kitchen produced flop after flop. I accidentally deleted a very important folder. I missed a meeting. I couldn’t continue this way.
People gave me advice, loads of it. One friend told me to keep going full steam ahead, that when success comes knocking, you don’t turn it down. Another friend, realizing I’d stopped returning texts or answering calls, told me it wasn’t healthy to work like this, that I needed to slow down and rethink my commitments.
In the end, I had to take a personal day. I put every single project on hold and thought long and hard about my future. Clearly, and I am ever so grateful for this, opportunities are open to me that I’d never dreamed possible. But most important, above work, is my sanity. My integrity to myself, my work, my family, my friends. When I make that the most important thing in my life, my foundation, everything else will fall into place..
Turns out, I can’t do everything. I’m not Wonderwoman. Also, come on- even Wonderwoman can’t do everything. (Back me up here, Gal!) I’ve learned that sometimes, good enough is good enough. I’ve learned that crying over spilled milk/heavy cream is actually really cathartic. I learned a lot of lessons this week. Welcome to the big, adult world Chaya! Welcome to adulting! Ugh, I need muffins already. Let’s get to it.
After I took a day to organize all my projects and get on top of my work, I felt calmer and ready to go into the kitchen again. I had berries left over from a big project and I took to Instagram stories to ask you guys what you wanted to see. Everyone (ok, besides for two people- next time you two!) asked for berry crumble muffins!
The kitchen gods smiled down at me for these. These muffins came out oh-so tender, thanks to Greek yogurt, lofty and fluffy, thanks to two leaveners and were filled with jammy, incredibly juicy berries. I topped these with a simple crumble for a bit of extra texture and then, because I love you, and also because I love millennial pink (#sorrynotsorry) I made icing out of strawberry juice and confectioner’s sugar and drizzled that on top of the still warm muffins. Do these sound like muffin perfection? Like the last muffin you’ll ever need? Good. They are. Go make some muffins. It’s fine if the crumble gets into the stove top grates. Don’t worry if you get icing all over your fingers. Lick it off. It’s delicious. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
PS: If you any of you have ever experienced similar stresses or pressures, what are your go-to methods to relax and calm down? Do you delegate? Do you shut yourself off from other people? Do you make muffins? Tell me!
Yields: 12 big or 16 smaller muffins
Why I love this recipe: yogurt makes these muffins moist, two leaveners keeps them fluffy, and the mixed berries turn jammy and soft in the oven. Topped with a buttery, salty crumble and a naturally dyed strawberry icing, these are muffins done very, very right.
For the muffins:
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
For the crumble:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
For the icing:
- 1/4 cup strawberries
- 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan.
- Make the batter: in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the mixing attachment, mix the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy.
- Stir in the eggs, one at a time until combined. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda to bowl. Stir until just combined.
- Gently, by hand, with a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir in the berries, taking care not to crush them.
- Divide batter evenly between cups. Now, make the crumble: combine the dry crumble ingredients in the unwashed mixer bowl. Mix in butter with fingertips until moistened and crumbly. Scatter over muffins.
- Bake until golden and just set, about 23 minutes. Let cool in pan 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.
- While the muffins bake, make the icing: put the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. Squeeze and mash the strawberries through a strainer, letting the pink strawberry juice fall into the sugar and taking care to ensure that no bits of strawberry fall through.
- Whisk the icing until smooth and well combined. Drizzle over the cooling muffins. Serve.