carrot cake cupcakes + cream cheese frosting + some thoughts on money


Recently, one of my friends told me, point blank, that she wants to be filthy rich. When I pressed her on it, she talked about having the ability to pay for her children’s college tuition {which will likely rack up in the hundreds of thousands in twenty years time}, and live the life she wishes to live, in comfort, without fear. I was quiet for a time, and said, that’s not about being filthy rich, that’s about not peering over your shoulder in fear of debt collectors, that’s maybe somewhere down the scale, way down, from rich. Or, I could be completely off the mark.

I’ve been thinking about money lately, and what it can and can’t afford you. Next month marks a year from the time I tacitly made a decision to leave comfort behind in pursuit of something other. I would leave behind a handsome paycheck, equity {although it was doubtful that I’d ever get it}, health benefits and the stability that comes with swiping your keycard in the same office building every day. I would step into the unknown with little savings, credit card and student loan debt, but I knew I had to do this. And I had to be confident that I would always find something. That I wouldn’t be my own undertow.

Nearly a year later, and I’m making enough to get by and that’s okay. I can pay my rent, mail in my student loan and credit card payment checks, and there’s a little bit of money leftover to buy a fancy meal here and there, and that’s okay. While I do have minor panic attacks about when I’ll secure my new project, or god forbid should I get sick since Cobra is a MILLION DOLLARS, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m no longer anxious or broken down or stressed out or snapping at people or angry or crying in a bathroom stall. I’m writing, thinking of new side projects {how I’ll fund this magazine, who knows}, and being present for myself and my loved ones. I am no longer the woman who constantly apologizes for not being there because I’m there.

So while I’m not making a MILLION DOLLARS, I have time on a Thursday to make carrot cake cupcakes. I have time to read articles and books. I have time to think, and I guess that means more to me that a fancy handbag or some lofty title.

My god, how I’m changing. Ask me this three years ago and I would have likely said something completely different…


INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
For the cupcakes
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown {or coconut cane} sugar
3/4 cup canola {or safflower} oil
3 tbsp buttermilk {or almond milk}
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups tightly packed shredded carrots
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

For the cream cheese frosting
12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (left out for at least 4 hours or microwave for 30s)
1/2 cup {1 stick} unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

For the cupcakes: Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and brown sugar on medium high for three or four minutes or until mixture is light and thick. (This step will take about 8 to 10 minutes with a handheld mixer). In a small bowl or pitcher, whisk together the oil, buttermilk {or almond milk} and vanilla. On low speed, slowly pour the oil mixture into the egg-sugar mixture. This should take about 30 seconds.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture. When most the of the flour mixture has been incorporated, add the carrots, raisins, and walnuts and continue to fold until the batter is homogeneous. Pour the batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake the cupcakes for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool completely in the pan on wire rack.

For the cream cheese frosting: While the cupcakes are in the oven, start cracking on your frosting. Using your stand mixer {or handheld} Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth {about 1 minute for the stand mixer, 3-4 minutes with the handheld}. Add the butter and continue to beat for another minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat for 1 more minute, or until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to firm up enough to spread on your cupcakes. The frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.



15 thoughts on “carrot cake cupcakes + cream cheese frosting + some thoughts on money

  1. I really “get” this. There is something to be said about the freedom “lots” of money can get you but it depends on how you define freedom. Like you, I am self employed and don’t know when I will have clients and when I won’t. I spend within relation to what I am making and have realized that the freedom that comes with free time is worth much more on most days. Whether it’s sneaking into a weekday matinee, spending time with a friend, volunteering, peeking in on my daughter’s school events, writing in my pj’s all day or having a 90’s Netflix tv marathon, it’s all worth it!
    That being said, my situation is not as independent as yours as I am married and we have another main income but you are me in my former life and we share so many similarities of our early life and our crawl to make our own way and because we started young, we always will-make our own way!


    1. Thanks, Laurel! I certainly do feel freer as I have dominion over the projects I choose and how to spend my day, and it’s exactly how you said — priceless. I do tend to freak out about the uncertainty of projects, but so far, what I’m getting in return: rest, the ability to be creative again, is worth the stretch.


  2. As I make my own plans to leave corporate America, pay down my bills, and head into life as a small business owner, I too have come to learn what is important. As The Minimalist blog discusses, I am gathering memories and not “things” at this stage in my life. I am looking at what expenses are truly necessary in my life. Here is a dramatic change too – once this all happens, I plan to sell off my house, and will be moving into a tiny home; this is a 192 sq foot home built on a trailer. It is paid for, off grid (no utility expenses and solar powered) and requires little money to maintain. I have a few more months of this corporate world before I jump into all of this, and I honestly cannot wait!


    1. Kel,

      When I first read this yesterday, I was leaving yoga and shaking with excitement! You’re doing it, really doing it! I love your plan, which is completely wise!! What’s next? What’s the new venture?

      Warmly, Felicia


      1. I am so excited myself I can’t stand it! My business partner and I have found a business that has been looking to expand to include a coffee shop. Forgive me for not providing more details on what the current business is, as that is kind of a novelty to pair with a coffee shop. Whilst my dream has been to open a bakery that served coffee, for the first phase of our business plan this will be a coffee shop that will feature my baked goods. I have a few favorite recipes, like my “signature” chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, buttermilk doughnuts and scones, which will be available daily. Sundays will feature more labor intense specialties, such as cinnamon rolls or brioche buns. I want to be “the face” of the business as well, so I am realistic in knowing I am facing long hours on my feet; getting up quite early, who am I kidding, INSANELY early to bake and then open at 6 (at least the current plan) and then rock the coffee bar for several hours each day. Likely I will finish out each day in the kitchen prepping for the next day.

        While being crazy scared, I am crazy excited. There are a lot of hurdles to get over first; will the city allow us to renovate as we desire? Can I find commercial kitchen space to rent that won’t eat up every cent we might make? Can I barter kitchen time for goods? Like I said, a lot to figure out but I am more jazzed about this than any adventure ever! YOU have inspired me this past year. Keep bringing it on!


  3. Fantastic.

    These thoughts on money ring so very true with me. Some day I’d like to be able to travel somewhere far and exotic (and I don’t mean a fancy sparkling resort, hostels in a third world country would do just fine for my adventures) just once per year for a couple of weeks, and not have any debts to pay. Maybe own a small place that I can properly afford to upkeep, and as well as yourself- a little extra for small things here and there that put a smile on your face.

    That’s all I really want in the way of wealth. To not be held back or constantly stressed out, as I seem to be recently.

    I guess hard work is truly the way of the peaceful warrior… inner, and outer.



    1. My goodness, Ashley, this is EXACTLY what I pine for. A few years ago, I started traveling more frequently. It was, at the time, a means to escape work, but as the years pressed on, there was something wonderful about being in another country, another place, and immersing. Feeling out the greys and getting lost. I aim to take 1-2 trips a year outside the country, and so far I’ve been pretty successful.

      I’m crossing all fingers + applicable body parts so that your dream, which is totally accessible!, will be realized.


  4. I sometimes want to be filthy rich, too. especially at the moment, when I see my savings dwindling. I don’t need much. it’s the perceived security it may or may not bring. that said, I’m happy to have grown up with little. it sucked at times (especially in high school), but it made me who and how I am now, and it made me appreciate whatever comes my way. my best friend grew up with a golden spoon up her ass (sorry, German expression), and I often envied her, for her fancy camera back in the day when they were really REALLY expensive, for being able to shoot as many roles of film because she could afford to develop them all when I had to do it spread out over many months. but looking at her now, I wouldn’t want to be her. things come and go in her life, and it’s all meaningless, not to mention her inability to be content with less now that it’s not her parents paying for everything anymore….


    1. I think you’ve got it, Petra. There’s a flipside to the filthy rich coin, and it’s the fear of not having money, of losing it. That terror is another sort of prison to which I never plan to visit. I’m really content with just enough that I won’t be frightened of not having a place to live, basic essentials, etc, but I certainly don’t NEED (to your point) oceans of money at my feet.

      Warmly, f.


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