Thoughts, and a Recipe

posted in: Baking, Life, Recipes, Writing 83 comments

It’s been a strange time in my life.

On the surface, it’s all the same. Life hasn’t changed. We still do what we do. I still do what I do, offline, online.

But there is a shift. Somewhere deep inside me.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, on how it feels, but I feel a little unsettled. It’s not uncomfortable, just unfamiliar.

It is why I haven’t been writing much. At least, nothing I can publish. My thoughts are muddied, my words, inarticulate. I say too much, then, not enough. I feel like there are stories within me, but I’m having trouble reaching them.

So, I bake.

Lemon blueberry muffins

Measuring, weighing, mixing, tasting. It brings a calm to my mind, and a delicious smell to my home.

Baking is like a delicious substitute to writing. Putting together a bunch of ingredients, to create something you can sink your teeth into. Almost like stringing coherent sentences together to move your heart. Except right now, I think I bake better than I write.

Lemon blueberry muffins

Both photos are courtesy of my sister.

I have been really behind with writing assignments, and I can’t seem to get to them. My head is not in the game. 

However, I will be published somewhere new soon, which is exciting. I think once that comes to fruition, I will have the momentum I need.

I say need, because not writing is hurting me. Haunting me. I think about it all the time. Writing. Not being able to. Wanting to.

I need my writing mojo back.

In the meantime, here’s a recipe. It”s a little sweet, has a slight zing, and an amazing crunchy bite to it, thanks to the streusel topping. It’s like a muffin representation of what I think my life needs right now:  some sweet, a touch of zing, and crunchy (hah!) excitement. 

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping
Yields 14
An easy-to-make yummy lemon blueberry muffin recipe
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Muffin Ingredients
  1. streusel topping (see ingredients below)
  2. 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  3. 2 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  7. 1 cup granulated sugar
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  10. 7 tablespoons milk
  11. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  12. 1 tablespoon loosely-packed lemon zest
Stresuel Topping Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled
  2. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 1/4 cup raw/ cane sugar
To Make The Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking pan with 14-16 liners, or grease with cooking spray (I used silicone liners).
  2. Prepare the streusel topping according to instructions below.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, toss blueberries with 3 tablespoons of flour until blueberries are coated. Pour the blueberries through a sift to shake off any excess flour. Set aside.
  4. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl (or an electric stand mixer), whisk together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, vanilla essence, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and continue whisking until smooth. Fold in flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Carefully stir in blueberries.
  6. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full of batter. Sprinkle each cup of batter with about 1 tablespoon of streusel topping.
  7. Bake at 350º for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Let muffins cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan before removing to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
To Make Streusel Topping
  1. Whisk together all ingredients until combined and mixture is crumbly.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Writing, Wishing

What unsettles you?

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • June 24, 2013 Nicole

    1) Those muffins look delicious! 2) If this is your version of ‘muddy’ and ‘inarticulate,’ then the rest of us should just give up and go home! I’m a new follower, and everything I’ve read so far is beautifully written, refreshingly honest, and always inspiring. Can’t wait to hear more about your new publishing opportunity!
    Nicole recently wrote…Blogging Lessons & Quarterly ReviewMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Nicole, you’re so sweet, you made my day with your comment.
      Thank you for your vote of confidence!

  • June 24, 2013 Alma

    Baking is your “go to” to get your mojo and knitting is mine. Julia Child says “find something you are passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it.” That is how I feel about knitting a piece together. There is love that goes into it and I get so excited midway and stay up late hours wanting to finish. Like a song. Like baking. I find I like to bake when I need to clear my head.
    We all have a “thing”. This is yours.
    I would love to try this recipe, it sounds simple but amazing 😉
    Congrats on a new piece being published, you are an amazing writer and deserve it.
    Alma recently wrote…Not All Gumdrops and LollipopsMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Yes! I do believe that my baking is like your knitting. It’s love translated into something beautiful.
      Thank you for your belief and support, always.

  • June 24, 2013 Christine

    I totally want a muffin right now. Those look delicious! I get how baking can help to soothe the mind and can be a substitute for writing or whatever your passion is. I can’t seem to get myself to do anything either. But I’m very excited for you and this new opportunity. You’ll find your mojo no doubt. You have too many beautiful stories to share for it not to.
    Christine recently wrote…Seizing the SolsticeMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      You run! And do yoga! And write! And all sorts of awesome stuff. 🙂
      The muffins were yummy. Blueberries are good for you, right?

  • June 24, 2013 tracy

    Oh yum – those look awesome!

    I love this post – and you..and I miss you. I’ve stepped back to far lately that I’m not even sure how to dive back in. xo
    tracy recently wrote…Big Kid StepsMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      They did taste yummy.
      I miss you SO much. Love you. xoxo

  • June 24, 2013 Elaine A.

    Those look SO good. I was looking on Pinterest for a recipe the other day for banana blueberry muffins but this will do the trick…

    Excited to hear about where you will be published soon! 🙂
    Elaine A. recently wrote…Summer ScratchingMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Banana blueberry, yum! Gotta find a recipe for that too.
      And thank you!

  • June 24, 2013 Kerstin

    I printed the recipe and my kids will bake them for me 🙂
    I hear you, Alison – and just to let you know: your writing is still one of the things that makes me come back to your blog all the time.
    Excited for your “published somewhere new soon” – I’m sure you’ll get your mojo back.
    (P.S. – have you tried Evernote? I just started organizing all my notes and thoughts into story ideas, since I thought I have nothing to write about. Turns out there is tons. Sometimes we feel better when we just say things out loud and sometimes we get our writing mojo back when we just write out loud :))

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Let me know when your kids have baked the muffins!
      And thank you, so much, for your kind words.
      I do use Evernote, but it doesn’t help me with ideas. I use it to organize a variety of blog stuff, but not ideas. Ideas, I just plonk right into my WP dashboard!

  • June 24, 2013 Stevie


    I know that feeling. That, I can’t quite my finger on it but something feels off. For me sometimes it’s just before a shift in perception, in goals, in direction, and sometimes it’s just an indication that I need to refuel and recenter. I am sending a hug through the internet, and know that you are on your way to wherever you are supposed to be. You are an amazing writer, so I’m excited to hear where you will be published soon.

    Stevie recently wrote…I Was Called to the MatMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you for the hug!
      And your sweet words.

  • June 24, 2013 Michelle

    Your recipe looks delicious – I am definitely going to pin it. And I am sure you will have your writing mojo back in no time!!
    Michelle recently wrote…Fresh Air Fund…A Life Changing ExperienceMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Michelle! I hope so!

  • June 24, 2013 Ilene

    I understand not having yet wanting that writing mojo. I have been there too – times when the words are not flowing. I have found thought that it seems during those times, the words are gestating somewhere inside of me, I just am unaware of it. I bet the same will happen for you and the words will just explode. I can’t wait to see what you have to “say” next – because it’s always a gem! In the meantime, bake your heart out – and I’ll take your recipes any day!
    Ilene recently wrote…The WallMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I am still waiting for the gush of words, Ilene! Thank you for the vote of confidence. 🙂

  • June 24, 2013 angela

    Your words will come (and SO excited for you about the publishing.) But they really will come. I think for some people that sort of block can lead to better writing in the end, like all of those thoughts are percolating and just waiting to be let into the open.

    And yum. Muffins.
    angela recently wrote…Unburying My HeadMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Angela, I sure hope so!
      The muffins were VERY yum.

  • June 24, 2013 Laura

    You are a tease. A big, mean tease. (I mean, congrats on the new publishing space! I can’t wait to hear more about it!)

    I’m feeling a similar thing. Ever since returning to work, I haven’t found a new place in my schedule for writing. Instead, it is all last minute, deadline things that happen in fragmented little pockets of time. I think that is leading to me feeling incredibly claustrophobic and disjointed and anxious. (It doesn’t help that my tiny little home is being turned upside down at the moment too). So, I understand what you’re feeling like. I’m glad you can express it even a little bit into your baking. I wish I could be closer to sample and chat!
    Laura recently wrote…Grownup Time? What’s That?My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      You have so much going on, I don’t think it’s unusual that you’re finding it challenging to focus!
      I have no excuses. Sigh.
      As for the new writing gig, I can’t say what it is yet, because it’s still in the discussion stages, but it’s positive. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • June 24, 2013 Poppy

    I was wondering if you got your new camera – your sister takes great pictures! Can’t wait to hear about your new gig and hopefully it will help you get some of your mojo back. In the meantime, nothing wrong with muffins!
    Poppy recently wrote…Mother and Daughter Triathletes – Memories CapturedMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I have not! My husband doesn’t want to tell me when he’s getting it. He said, it’d be a sudden thing, like the Kitchen Aid. 🙂
      Yes, my sister is pretty good with this photography thing!

  • June 24, 2013 Alexa (katbiggie)

    This post brought tears to my eyes because I felt it in my inner most being. I feel exactly the same. I mean EXACTLY! Writing haunts me as well. I want to write all the time, but I find that when I sit down to write the feelings and the posts I have scripted in my mind, they just can’t flow. Part of it is that I can’t post some of the feelings I want to without risk of hurting people I love. Partly is that I am just so tired from chasing three little ones, I can’t get it together to write well. And the other part… well, it’s that strange unsettled-ness that you described. On the good side, you are doing amazing things with getting published elsewhere, and I am so pleased to hear that you have conquered a new place! I want to write for other publications SO BADLY and just can’t seem to get the submissions together! So I admire you and am happy for you.
    When you do write Alison, it always goes straight to my soul. More is not always better!
    Those are awesome pics and my mouth is watering! 🙂
    Alexa (katbiggie) recently wrote…Lifescript #ad – Women’s Health Resource {Sponsored Post}My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I’m sorry you’re going through the same thing, although I can’t say I can tell, from your posts! Do it. Submit. Pitch. Don’t hesitate. What’s the worse thing that will happen? They say no. That’s okay. Move on to the next thing. Good luck!

  • WOW, these look delicious! You’re too good to NOT jump back in, so just lean into the ride for now. And I can’t wait to find out where you’ll be published!
    Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) recently wrote…Through his eyesMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Kristin! The muffins were really good. Sinfully good. 🙂

  • June 24, 2013 Tamara

    I think you sound as eloquent and heartfelt as always, but I know how it feels when you feel “off.” Just know it’s kinda like when you have a bad hair day – the rest of us can’t tell because your hair is nice enough..always. I kinda hope to get to a point where my photography is secure enough (never will be completely) that when there are days I’m not feeling it, or I screw up settings or whatnot (it happens!), my solid foundation is good enough that maybe people won’t notice it..or not notice it as much.
    Tamara recently wrote…This is Big Time, Baby.My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Your photos are always awesome, Tamara!

  • June 24, 2013 FitBritt

    I have a hard time believing you could ever be inarticulate! Your writing is always beautiful. Yay for being published somewhere soon!

    The muffins do look delicious though! 🙂
    FitBritt recently wrote…Mind over Madness-Celebrating the Solstice with Yoga in Times SquareMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      You’re so kind, my friend, thank you!

  • June 24, 2013 Kim

    One of my favourite muffin recipes is an apple streusel muffin – so lemon and blueberry? YUM!
    I love the recipe/writing comparison – so true. Sometimes I find that my words almost get stuck. When that happens, nothing I write seems to express what I want to say. Sometimes I have an idea of the destination, but the route to expressing it is fraught with potholes. I hope that your mojo returns soon. (And I am excited to hear about you being published somewhere new!)
    Kim recently wrote…FasterMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I hope it returns soon too, Kim. I think I may just need to write it out, you know?
      Do try the muffins!

  • June 24, 2013 vanita

    there’s this spongebob episode where squidward admits he’s never had a crabby patty and spongebob just can’t comprehend the words “never had a crabby patty” and he’s going crazy trying to understand. that’s how i feel about the words “alison being inarticulate” I just can’t understand these words. I don’t think they’re possible. nope. and breaks from blogging are good. the rejuvenation is good. sometimes just writing will help get you back your mojo. or so i’ve read. what do i know except that you’re an awesome writer and the words “alison being inarticulate” do not compute
    vanita recently wrote…Fighting Your Blogging VoiceMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I love your comment so much, V. xo

  • June 24, 2013 Andrea

    I am also in a writing funk. Your description of it haunting you is exactly what’s happening here. I say “I’m going to write,” then spend that time doing laundry.

    The muffins look delicious. We have clean socks.
    Andrea recently wrote…TenMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Oh Andrea, you made me laugh. 🙂
      Clean socks is not something to be sneezed at!

  • June 24, 2013 thedoseofreality

    YUM! Those look totally tasty! 🙂 I am definitely going to make them with my girls as they would love them. Sorry about feeling like your mojo is off…I think that happens to all of us, and it is just really hard.-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently wrote…Some Firsts Are Better Than OthersMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Let me know how the muffins go!

  • June 25, 2013 Mama and the City

    How cruel to see first thing in the morning when I am so hungry. My coffee and my belly are alone right now. Muffin, come to me. come to me.
    Mama and the City recently wrote…There’s no M in Father’s Day.My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Hah! This is why I bake. So when I feel that way, I can just stop by my kitchen. 🙂

  • June 25, 2013 Lady Jennie

    I love the post and the link with, what looks like a mega-delicious recipe. Mojos come and go, but they don’t disappear. 🙂
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Life in the Trenches – Chapter 25My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I’m waiting for Mojo to come back. And eat some muffins with me. 🙂 Will you? Try this recipe?

  • June 25, 2013 Mothering From Scratch

    {Melinda} Those look so good! I totally get what you mean. Creativity and inspiration is a tricky thing. Sometimes we have to push through and it comes. But other times we just have to step back, refresh, clear and process our thoughts and experiences and then write. You’ll get your mojo back. I know it. 🙂
    Mothering From Scratch recently wrote…how momma love made me lose my cookiesMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Melinda! I just need to know whether to dig in, or step back right now. 🙂

  • June 25, 2013 Elizabeth

    Oh, yes. I know this feeling: “My thoughts are muddied, my words, inarticulate. I say too much, then, not enough. I feel like there are stories within me, but I’m having trouble reaching them.”

    This looks delicious, by the way. I think one thing about baking (although I don’t do much of it myself except for an *awesome* brownie recipe that I like to make) is that it gives you a beginning and an end (ingredients, instructions, go!) That’s not always that same for writing. You can always write more, revise more, research more.

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Baking is a science and an art, which is why I love it so much.
      Sort of like writing. 🙂

  • June 25, 2013 My Inner Chick

    ****Baking is like a delicious substitute to writing.****
    You said a mouthful, Alison Lee!

    — I agree about writing, as well.
    When I can’t find the proper words, I hurt and ache and get stranger than I already am.

    Furthermore, when I have an abundance of verbs and shit inside to release, if I don’t write them down, I begin to stutter terribly.

    Am I unusual? Xx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Murder, Therapy, & Walking Thru The FireMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      You are not unusual!! You are beautiful and amazing and I love your writing.

  • June 25, 2013 KalleyC

    Alison, I understand about the writing mojo, I’ve been in a dry spell since I’ve moved, but I ended up painting the walls red (very dramatic way to get out of a writer’s block), and for now I’m feeling like I’m in a new room. Usually, my go to is reading. I like reading books–romance–so that would give me a lot of down time that my mind needs. Once you figure it out, things will be a lot calmer within.

    In the meantime–those muffins looks very yummy! Thank you for the recipe.
    KalleyC recently wrote…Building Positive MemoriesMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Painting a room red is very dramatic! I have a couple of ideas on how to get unstuck, I’m hoping to get to them soon.

  • June 25, 2013 Maureen

    Baking is awesome and that looks soooo yummy!
    I always adore your honesty, your ‘realness’ in the bloggy world. I’m struggling to post again because I’ve been spending time writing offline but I need to ‘bleed’ my words offline for now. The mojo is to write offline now and the blog, the reading is suffering too. Hmmfffh, guess what I’m trying to say is I get you, Alison.
    Take care my friend!
    Maureen recently wrote…Into Brighter DaysMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I’m sorry you’re going through the same thing, my friend. I hope you get through it.

  • June 25, 2013 Leslie

    Yum! Sometimes it’s best to just take a step back and do something you enjoy; de-stress. I can’t wait to find out more about your getting published elsewhere!
    Leslie recently wrote…{30 Things} A Day in the LifeMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I do need to destress. I have a couple of ideas, I just need to get to them. And thank you!

  • June 25, 2013 Kathy Radigan

    Not only do these muffins look amazing, the photo is great too!! I’m glad that you have your baking as a creative outlet while you work through your writing block. I find that I’m in an unsettled time myself but I also find that these periods usually lead me to the next level of where ever I need to be. Sending good wishes your way!!
    Kathy Radigan recently wrote…Giving Credit Where Credit is DueMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I like the idea of this just being a period of waiting for the next big thing 🙂

  • I like how you compare writing and baking. I watch funny cat videos when I’m in a writing funk. Your’s is more constructive…
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…How to fail at to do lists: an 8 step guide.My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Hah! Not so, says my waistline. 🙂

  • June 25, 2013 Tracie

    It is very exciting that you are about to be published somewhere new.

    Not writing hurts me, too, so I totally get that. I hope that you are able to find your words soon.

    The muffins look amazing.
    Tracie recently wrote…Going Green With Your Old Blog Posts – It Is Recycling DayMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I’m excited too! And thank you, I’m sure the words will come back too. Slowly but surely.

  • June 25, 2013 Jin Ai

    Those muffins look yummy!

    I stopped blogging for awhile with so much going on, but not writing hurts me too. Am creeping back in slowly and it’s taking time. You’ll get there eventually, Alison. Glad for new horizons opening up for you!
    Jin Ai recently wrote…10 steps to create a chore chart system for kidsMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      Great to see you back, and congratulations on baby #4!!

  • June 26, 2013 Mirjam

    I know exactly what you mean, I have the same.
    Your writing mojo will return, because it’s a part of you.
    Maybe it’s a necessary phase that you have to go through. Life is constant change and progress. And sometimes when we go through change it feels dry and barren, but when we get through it, we’re exactly where we need to be. Richer, wiser, refreshed. Have faith, you will get there. xo
    Mirjam recently wrote…Summer daysMy Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I do, because all of you have faith in me. Thank you!

  • June 26, 2013 Leah Davidson

    Those muffins look soooo good! Sometimes I find that my head is too full to write – I know that writing is a good release, but sometimes I just need to sit with my thoughts. They will come out when they are ready.
    Leah Davidson recently wrote…Oh the Places You’ll Go….My Profile

    • June 26, 2013 Alison

      I hope they’ll be ready. I really do. Thank you, Leah.

  • June 27, 2013 Greta

    I want you to come here and bake for me. Is that weird?
    Greta recently wrote…Rocking the Bump (sort of)My Profile

    • June 27, 2013 Alison

      Not weird at all – flattering! But you have to promise that your kids will have to keep my kids entertained. For at least, er, 3 hours.

  • You are NOT alone. 🙂
    @PamelaMKramer – A Renaissance Woman recently wrote…Stand Up Paddle BoardingMy Profile

    • July 3, 2013 Alison

      That’s good to know 🙂

  • July 4, 2013 Justine

    This post resonates deeply with me. I’ve not been able to shake my writing funk either. When I do write, nothing sounds right, and when I do it just to get something posted, that feels even worse. It’s not for the lack of subject because my girls give me plenty of material, but perhaps it’s just a rut?

    I hope anyway, because I do so miss it.
    Justine recently wrote…The girl formally known as ThumperMy Profile

    • July 4, 2013 Alison

      Writers go through ruts all the time. Give yourself time to get out of it. In the meantime, just write. You don’t have to publish it. But the act of writing itself is cathartic, and who knows where it’d lead you? Good luck!

  • July 7, 2013 Katie

    Anything with lemon and blueberries is a fave of mine and Eddie’s…and we just happened to get a pint of blueberries at the Farmers Market this morning. Yum.

    Also? xxoo
    Katie recently wrote…Red, White, and CoolMy Profile

    • July 7, 2013 Alison

      I hope you and Eddie try this recipe, it’s really yum.

  • July 9, 2013 Robin

    I know just what you mean. Except I can’t bake. (See: comment on your later post.)
    Robin recently wrote…Freedom in a BottleMy Profile

  • July 9, 2013 sarah

    How great that you have baking! For me it’s teaching and photography. When my writing is meh, I think about photo shoots. I get excited about something I learned that I can share with my students. And when photography and teaching get meh, I feel a burst of renewed energy into my writing. Ebbing and flowing is natural. And oh, those muffins look delish.
    sarah recently wrote…next time guys, the trainMy Profile

    • July 9, 2013 Alison

      I think it’s wonderful that you have so many loves in your life, because when one is meh, you have the others to fall back on. Also, your photography is NEVER meh. xo

  • July 12, 2013 Jessica

    The muffins sound good!
    Jessica recently wrote…Essence of Now: DivasMy Profile

    • July 12, 2013 Alison

      They were really good!

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