February 1st 2012

I like to consider myself a well-motivated person.

I work from a home-studio, where I get up most days and get straight to work.  I've always sort of prided myself on the fact that I can stay working from home without letting myself get too distracted.

Like every other creative who's come before me, I have my days.  Those days that I feel as though I'm stuck in a rut.  That there's some block that's keeping me from either starting new work, or continuing on with a project.

I have work to do right now.  I have a couple of deadlines coming up, and some really fun work to do.  But I just wasn't feeling it today.  This always happens in midwinter.  I usually blame it on the weather, though this winter's been spring-like.  On a usual day I get up, make breakfast, visit with Chris before he takes off for the day, then go sit at my desk.  I sat at my desk for quite a while today.  I checked my email, checked a couple of blogs, caught up on some paperwork, and kept myself thoroughly distracted.  I made a few brush-strokes on a painting I'm working on, (seriously- only a few!).  I knew that this wasn't going to happen for me.  

So I baked a cake.  Geez, doesn't that sound stereotypical?  Don't people in movies often bake a cake to avoid thinking about the inevitable or getting work done?  I can't think of an example, but I'm sure I've seen it.

I dug out a recipe I've been wanting to try.  It's one with apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, and it sounded so satisfying; that comforting kind of recipe that makes the house smell amazing.  The whole while I was thinking about writing this post.  I'm sure everyone struggles with this at some point, but I don't think I've ever mentioned that it happens to me too.

If you need a distraction from your work, I highly recommend this recipe.  I found it on theKitchn.com, and the link to the original recipe by Faith Durand can be found here.

Apple Yogurt Cake with a Cinnamon-Sugar Streak
serves 8 or more
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt, well-stirred
2/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 small tart apples, such as Granny Smith, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with baking spray or olive oil.
Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Peel and core the apples, and chop into chunks about 1/2-inch across. You should end up with 3 1/2 to 4 cups of apples. Stir the chopped apple into the liquid ingredients.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon right into the liquids and stir just until no lumps remain. In a small separate bowl, mix the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon with the brown sugar and butter.
Pour half of the batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle the batter with half of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture, dropping it on the batter in small lumps. Spread the rest of the batter over top, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-brown sugar.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, covering with foil at the end if the top is browning. When a tester comes out clean, transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.

I'm sure it will go nicely with my coffee when I'm painting at my desk tomorrow.


  1. Aww. This is just what I needed. I have totally been having one of those days. One of those months actually - I frankly find all this brown weather (however warm) kinda depressing. I like a nice fluffy white January.

    It's always reassuring to hear when fellow creative people (and especially ones as talented as yourself) are having off days too.

    1. Beth, we all have those days. I hope you're out of it now, too!

  2. That's the lovely part about working for yourself! You can take self appointed breaks, but I do find it hard to do that without feeling guilty. But you shouldn't feel guilty! Breaks are great to refresh your mind and tomorrow, you will work even better! Mmmmm! I really love apple cakes! I want to try this when my days slow down more!

    1. Celine, it is! Sometimes it's just a little too tempting to take long/too many breaks! haha! I hope you do try the apple cake recipe! It's delicious! And it keeps well for days. Mat. Leave is so soon! Time for a break before baby comes!

  3. sadly i am feeling the way you felt today. living in portland all i see are clouds and it's getting to me. so instead of working on projects i made homemade ricotta for the first time.
    the kitchen always helps i believe!

    1. Ally, it always seems to help! At least spring's on it's way! And I hear it's been lovely in Portland the last few days.

  4. I totally do the same thing! I cook or bake when I can't focus! ha! This cake recipe looks delish, I might have to try it. thanks for the share.