Every Friday evening, between 5 and 7 o'clock, I get what I have started calling "weekend brain." It's the feeling of not wanting to look at any more school things. When I want to turn on the new Gwen Stefani song in my room and shop for ridiculously expensive items that are realistically a teensy bit too much for my student loans. When I want to lie around and read through some of my growing collection of cookbooks (the Love and Lemons one is amazin'). When I want to hop into the kitchen and try out a new recipe or bake a cake. Whatever it is, it isn't school. It's the feeling that you've won a few extra days so an afternoon off won't kill you, right?
And then all of the sudden "weekday guilt" walks into the party, an unwelcomed guest that makes you feel like you didn't do enough. It reminds you of that to-do list that didn't get all the boxes checked off. It makes you feel like there is always more to be done. It causes you to second-guess whether you should be enjoying the moment you were having just seconds before.
Friday is almost always a battle of weekend brain vs. weekday guilt. And I used to let the guilt win. Even just last year, I would miserably put aside the fun and pull out the books. But looking back, I realize that succumbing to the guilt didn't lead to productivity. Actually, it probably led to far worse outcomes than if I had just taken a break. It left me feeling bad at the end of the day because even if I had the books out, my mind wasn't focused.
This time of the year last year, I was probably at one of my lows. I didn't understand balance, even though I was searching for it. I probably still don't completely get it, but I'm getting there. The weekday guilt still creeps in, but I've learned to politely ignore it. I go on that walk on the canal with Andrew. I go get a scoop of ice cream and listen to the feel-good tunes in the car on the way. Fridays are now my day for a necessary reset. Sure, there's work hiding around the corner, but this morning, I'm sitting here sipping on my coffee and I feel relaxed, and ready.
Bring it on, weekend.
Speaking of weekends, last weekend was a great one. Andrew, James, and I performed at our school's Evening of the Arts, and it was so effing fun. I also snuck in a few hours of studying, and got to eat a slice of this cake - a carrot cake piled four layers high and smothered in classic cream cheese frosting. It's incredibly moist and I love the effect of all the layers. And I tested out a new piping skill, I still need lots of practice but I'm happy I tried out something new for all you guys. The whole cake keeps well in the fridge too, the layers don't dry out and the cream cheese frosting stays the perfect consistency, which allows you to sneak in delicious bites of cake all week.
Carrot cake (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 6-7 medium carrots, shredded
For the frosting
- 8 oz block cream cheese
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flours and baking soda together and set aside. In a large bowl, add the oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and spices. Mix until well combined. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix again. Finally, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined - try not to overmix. Pour the batter evenly into the pans.
- Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick placed in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. After that, take the cakes out of the pan and let them finish cooling on a cooling rack when you make your cream cheese frosting.
- For the cream cheese frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, and salt together until fluffy - about 4 minutes. Slowly add in the powdered sugar until it reaches a consistency that would frost a cake - it usually takes me about 3 cups. Add in the vanilla and beat again until well combined.
- Frost your cake however you'd like. Enjoy with the best of friends and the sunshine! It's finally spring!