Before I dive into these blood orange-infused chocolate cupcakes, I want to give you a head’s up that this post is going to be a little bit personal, so if you’re more interested in the recipe feel free to scroll down past the next few paragraphs. I’ll be honest, guys—last year was pretty intense. I ended up working a kiiiiiind of crazy amount. Part of that work required me to be away from home a lot, and I really missed being home with Jeremy and the animals and the garden. Writing my book while doing all of this was very stressful, mainly because I am a perfectionist and I love my next book so much that I agonized over making sure everything in it was juuust right. I turned in my book on January 15th and then was working on revisions until February 13th, and then went out of town again for work. And although I thought I’d start off 2017 by being more diligent about posting here, I ended up being so crazy with work and traveling for work that I fell really behind on all the recipes I wanted to share with you guys. Since January 1st, I have been on 18 different airplanes. I am writing this on February 20th. I wanted to be better about saying no to things and putting personal relationships and personal well-being first this year, but I’ve already failed pretty hard at that. I have this FOMO that takes over every time an opportunity comes up. I used to always say yes to pretty much every work-related project that came along, but that left me super burnt out, and now I’m definitely better about being more selective about what I do, but the whole work/life balance is still tricky nevertheless. As a freelancer, I struggle with saying no, especially when people ask me to do something nicely. I know what projects I don’t have the time for and what I should say no to, but I am such a people pleaser that I just really intensely hate letting people down, and saying no to someone, even professionally, makes me feel like a big jerk. I know that’s unreasonable, but that’s just how I feel. Every time I say no to something a little part of me winces and frowns.
I want to be home more. I want to be a better wife and be more present everyday instead of thinking constantly about work during personal time. I want to be able to be with my garden all summer long without worrying about anything frying up in the sun or getting crushed in a freak rainstorm. I just want to nest for a little bit. And I am stupidly lucky to be able to have a job where that’s completely feasible and I can totally work from home and stay there and make that happen. The only person stopping me from doing that is me. And I don’t know how to stop me. I have this manic drive that takes over where I just want to keep doing more and more and more—I love the feeling that comes from getting a lot of things done and being really efficient and productive. It’s almost like a high. But I know that maintaining that high isn’t good for those closest to me, because it makes me a more stressed out, distracted, and sometimes unpleasant person to be around. I’m going to really, really try to hold back a little bit and be better about boundaries with work and personal time, (no more phone/computer/working past 7 pm) and be more selective about what I chose to do and who I chose to work with. I’ve had some wake-up calls recently that have made me a little more guarded and selective in general, which I think is for the best. I think a part of growing older is growing more cautious—I’m trying to be more aware of the pitfalls of certain activities and relationships and using that awareness to guide my decision-making to live an overall healthier life. What about you guys, do you struggle with maintaining work/life balance? Do you have any advice? Did seeing a therapist change your life? You are all very wise and I would love to hear any similar experiences you’ve had and how you worked through your work/life balance problems.
So, let’s change gears and talk about chocolate! These guys are the most moist chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had. Usually I shy away from chocolate cupcakes at bakeries because they tend to be on the dry side, but these ones have a special combination of brown butter, creme fraiche, and orange zest that keeps them super rich and chocolatey while still slightly refreshing. I scooped out little bits of the cake from each one and filled them with blood orange curd and then topped them with a very simple chocolate ganache (only 2 ingredients), and some candied blood oranges. If you want to make this simpler, you can cut out the candied blood oranges and even the orange curd and still get a bit of orange flavor from the zest (but I highly recommend getting some curd in there because it goes SO good with the ganache). Hope you guys enjoy these and thanks for sticking with me through my rambling 🙂