Good news on the taking chances front: I successfully made cake balls over the weekend. As someone who had never baked a cake on his own before, there were multiple miles gained by doing this.
Back when I had dryer issues and did a load of laundry at my neighbors' place, I noticed they were making cake balls. Knowing that I wanted to bake something for the first time for a potluck dinner in a few weeks, I figured I could try to make this stuff. Besides, if I had any questions, I knew a few people that knew what they were doing.
So using a recipe found in this article, I decided to use a yellow cake mix with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. Making the whole thing involved freezing clumps of cake overnight before dipping them in melted chocolate, but I gave myself plenty of time and plenty of room for error. Thankfully, there were no meltdowns in the kitchen or panicked runs to the grocery store. (But I did have to run to the grocery store before I started when I realized that I didn't have a measuring cup. That's neither here nor there.)
Seeing the looks on the faces of the people who had a few at the potluck (and the people in the office I brought the leftovers to) was quite a positive experience. They loved them, and I liked them myself, but seeing that my waist size has grown in the last two months, I held off on indulging.
The moral of the story: there's still hope for me in the kitchen. For as long as my desire for salvageable food made out of potential baking disaster is greater than my fear of failure, I'll be OK.