The Renaissance Women and The Impossible Expectation.

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Hey, you. Your cupcakes are stressing me out. Your domestic achievement stands before me like an obtainable beacon of perfection. Your cupcake says to me:
“Hey! Look! I’m a Mormon domestic and I make beautiful things on the first try. Every cupcake I make is better than any cupcake you could make, because I used tweezers to individually place each sprinkle. And don’t worry, it’s a gluten-free cupcake, but I still managed to make it taste amazing. Come! Come one, Come all! And realize that when you partake of this particular batch of joy, you are also imbibing an extra dose of self-consciousness, because deep-down, you know that you’ll never create something so singularly perfect as this.”
Probably, in all honesty, what your cupcake meant to say was:
 “Oh my gosh, I made a pretty thing for once in my life, or I happened to have exactly four pretty cupcakes in a batch of twenty, and so I am going to prove to the world that I have somewhat awesome potential by editing this photo and posting it on facebook//blog/instagram/pinterst so that hopefully someone will stroke my self-confidence—because, well, to be perfectly honest, this is an area of my life where I am not used to accomplishing much.”
Friends, I would know. Because I am guilty of posting the following picture on facebook//blog/instagram/pinterest:

I spent several minutes assembling this adorable box you see, and then selecting which were my best cupcakes to publicize. I’m part of the phenomenon—I AM THIS PHENOMENON—the phenomenon that only celebrates my successes publicly, keeping (or attempting to keep) my failures a private secret. Why am I so keen to put my best face forward online all the time? 

Because everyone else is doing it. And it’s stressing us all out.
Men: You might actually be exempt from this particular societal observation. Hence, this blog is not catered to you. But ladies, I’m not just talking about cupcakes here. Cupcakes are a metaphor for (insert whatever you feel self-conscious about here).
For me, I didn’t reallyfeel the sting of inadequacy until I got married—and not because Jeremy made me feel this way. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but whenever I overcooked the eggs or pulled the laundry out of the machine too late, I’d feel a tremendous amount of pressure. Whenever I came home and the hallway smelled good because my neighbors had cooked something awesome, I allowed that to be something awesome that I had not done. Husband and I call it “Wifeyness,” this pressure that I put on myself to be The Perfect Homemaker. The pictures on facebook of other’s successes started to infect me…. I felt inadequate, so I posted a couple of pictures of my own cupcakes. Let someone else feel inadequate for the evening, I think I thought subconsciously.
The fickle thing about indulging in self-consciousness is that it bleeds into areas where you previously felt confident. As women, I really do believe that we are asked to “Do It All” these days. The demands on the modern LDS women are intense:
  • ·      Our religion asks us to be a nurturer. There are a ton of sub-responsibilities in this category.
  • ·      Our religion’s culture asks us to be a homemaker, and I suggest that you that there is a difference between nurturer and homemaker.
  • ·      Society says we need to be working women, severe, pencil-skirt wearing, ambitious feminists.
  • ·      Society suggests that we need to be friendly, affable, social party-goers, because there is something wrong with introverted women that prefer good books to good booze.
  • ·      We are made fun of by men for being “overly-emotional,” and Heaven forbid, we have tempers.
  • ·      The University asks us to be high-achieving, good-grade obtainers.
  • ·      The Media suggests we need to be sexy, yet also guarders of virtue.
  • ·      The world makes us feel like we should be skinny at all times, in all places, in all bikinis. 

What a silly expectation. WHAT SILLY EXPECTATIONS.
And we are expected to do this in heels, yet. No wonder the “Claire” from Modern Family, and “Debra” from Everybody Loves Raymond stereotypes exist. A tremendous amount of pressure is placed on women these days. And so once we internalize these things, if we are not one, or two, or all of these things, we are bad at being a woman, or a bad woman. Too often we confuse this: In the woman’s mind, Bad (Homemaker, Feminist, Skinny Person, Super Model, Etc) = Bad Person.
I need you to understand something: I desperately want to be a pencil-skirt wearing domestic, a hard-hitting career woman by day, mommy-dearest (not the crazy type) by night. I want to be a sexy protector of virtue that is a writer, seamstress, photo-shopping professional mother. I want to be a healthy eating, fitness guru who can actually keep my house clean! 

But here’s the important part: Even without the tug-of-war of influences, I think I would want to do this just for me. These influences, when I allow them to, just help to give me a complex about it—because I am not there yet. And neither are you. And that’s ok.
These are not “new” ideas. As women, we “know” in our heads that we are doing this to ourselves, that we are allowing our understanding of our personal divine natures to be corrupted by the published accomplishments of others. I suppose the difference here is that this blog seeks to publish it all:The epic achievements as well as the epic failures. Because life is a process, and the process deserves to be celebrated just as much as the mastery. Successes and Failures, it’s all part of being a woman. In fact, a healthy combination of the two probably makes us really fantastic women.

So, You! You out there, the amorphous, talented, beautiful, smart, hard-working, domestic-goddess in development, this blog is for you. Because, you, like us, like everyone else, aren’t “there yet,” wherever “there” is for you. If you’re not there yet, that is ok.  We aren’t there yet either.  

*This blog post is the premise to an upcoming blog I hope to co-author soon. Stay tuned.

SOL: Butterbeer Cupcakes

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I think I undergoing an advanced case of denial. I am perfectly aware of the two essays I have due this week, the humongous movie project due on Monday, in addition to the impending stress of travel during the busy time of the school semester. Yet, today, I found some time–three hours of non-existant time–to do some stress baking.

You know that I am genuinely stressed because stress-baking is something that I never do… It is a dead last resort to soothe my anxiety. In fact, at any given moment if you were to ask what stresses me out more, baking or homework, I would usually say baking.

But today… today, I baked. Because homework sounds worst of all. 
I made Butterbeer cupcakes, and to be perfectly honest, they are sincerely fantastic. Beyond amazing. And they turned out kinda beautiful too. 

Here’s the recipe, if you’re interested. I got it from Elly Steinmetz. She brought me these cupcakes on my wedding day.
Here’s to an all-nighter of doing the homework I did not do when I was baking.

Sierra Version 2.12

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This semester I find myself “marginally employed,” meaning that since I was a TA, but now have an unmovable class during the class I TA-ed for, I am now a mere Writing Fellow. I’ve never gone into a semester of school without a job. I’ve been able to provide for myself, I think, exceptionally well since I started college, so now I find it a little bit humbling that Jeremy is doing such a good job providing for me.

I admit, I’ve gotten to that place where I am having a college-life crisis: I am realizing just how much work household maintenance requires, and Jeremy and I both agreed that it might be nice this semester if I just focused on school work and keeping the house sane. While some might welcome the break, one of the hallmarks of my character is how hard I push myself. I like to work hard. I love to work hard. And admittedly, I like making money.
But today, as I’m New Years Resolutioning all over the place, I have learned that there is great joy in channelling my hard work energy into being a wife for a little bit. And here are the fruits of my efforts:
 1. I packed away all our Christmas Decorations. We don’t have a lot yet, but I still felt cool wrapping my ornaments in bubble wrap. 

2. I proudly made THIS mess of the kitchen while making a MARTHA STEWART healthy meal. 

 3. I did cutesy crap like the above. I’m a little disgusted with myself for this one, but at least Jeremy will eat tomorrow. Maybe next time I will do it without the heart.
4. Self Explanatory. 
5. This is a picture of an empty laundry machine, which symbolizes the fact that I did three loads of laundry, but didn’t take pictures of it in the process because whoever thought doing the laundry was blog worthy.

6. I organized the CHRISTMAS CANDY. We have two more jars full on the other shelf.

7. I organized the shelves. Top = Dinner Shelf. Middle = Lunch Shelf. Bottom= Dessert Shelf
8. I put all new pictures in our crazy frame. 

9. I accomplished about a third of my before-school starts To Do List.

10. I even wore this.
So the scary thing about all these accomplishments is that I am boring myself (and probably you too) just writing about them. Yet I feel accomplished at the same time. Maybe that’s the life of a housewife? I need to start listening to books on tape for this semester. And then I need to get an awesome job for the summer.
*Fear not. I am now officially scared that my blog has become a Mormon Housewife Blog, and I will henceforth begin the process of… not making it so.