Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Cookies - Week 1!

I'm not a Christian, but I grew up in a Christian home and I love Christmas.  For me, Christmas is more about the preparation and the  general sense of celebration than the actual day.  I love the rituals - the baking, the Christmas tree hunt, the decorating, the gift wrapping . . . all of it!  

I start my Christmas off by baking a different kind of cookies each week for the 5-6 weeks prior to Christmas.  My mom gives me a list of her selections (she tends to like spicy and simple cookies), I add in a few of my favorites (I like anything with chocolate or sprinkles) and I always try something new as well.   

This weekend I started off with shortbread.  I made two versions - traditional (mom's favorite) and peppermint (my favourite).  Mmmmm.

Traditional Shortbread

Peppermint Shortbread Stars

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lyrics to Live By

In your two ton death trap I finally saw.  A piece of love in your face that bathed me in regret.
~ Ingrid Michaelson (Breakable)

I don't know if it is the lyrics themselves that make me love this song or if it is the way Ingrid Michaelson sings them, but my heart aches every time I hear this line.  The combination of love and regret she sings of is so poignant to me.  It draws to mind all those moments where love (of any kind) exists, but for some reason the connection doesn't quite happen.  You want more, they want more, timing gets in the way, other people get in the way, you get in your own way . . . .  Whatever the case may be, you are left with the knowledge that the affection that you see (or feel) will never be more than a moment of awareness of what could be.  The only consolation is the memory of those "pieces of love" and the hope that the future will bring more love, regardless of the form that it takes.  

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quote of the Week

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art . . . it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival
~ C.S. Lewis

True friends are one of the most magical things in life.  You never know where and when they will appear but, when they do, it is hard to know how you ever lived without them.  When I start forgetting who I am or wonder if I will ever "really" connect with anyone again, it only takes a phone call or lunch date with an old friend to make everything better.  After a good chat, I am always left knowing that if I love my friends and they love me, I must lovable.  And then, everything is OK again.  Magic.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quote of the Week

I know that there is no way to happiness.  Happiness is the way.  
~ The Tao

I've always had a very strong work ethic and grew up with the attitude of "no pain, no gain".  However, I recently had an epiphany about all this.  While visiting my physiotherapist (epiphanies happen in the weirdest places), I told her that I was trying my best to keep my irritable shoulder in it's proper position.  I thought that this would be a good thing, but, instead, she told me not to force my shoulder and that relaxation would be the key to recovery.  Seriously?  The idea that something that felt good was actually good for me was too much to comprehend.  

After thinking about all of this for a couple of days, I realized how often I've done things that I didn't like or didn't want or that hurt simply because I thought I had to struggle or go through difficulty in order to accomplish my goals.  While I would never want to live a life without a few challenges here and there, it seems that following what feels good might be just as valuable as taking that road less traveled.  My new goal: don't try to pursue happiness, just go with it.  

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Me, daring?

I've just joined the Daring Bakers, an online baking adventure club of sorts.  As a blog is needed to chronicle my accomplishments (or disasters), I've set up "A Chocolate Life".  

I consider baking to be an act of love and I am hoping this blog will also allow me to ramble about other things that I love and make me happy -- my home (in Victoria), puppies, music, friends and who knows what else . . . 

One thing I love to eat, bake and talk about is cupcakes.  So, to begin, here are a few pictures of my past baking experiments:

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes, December 2007

Strawberry Fields Forever, Spring 2008

Caramel Apple Cupcakes, October 2008