chocolate · friends · inspiration · reading

Cee’s Share Your World ~ Week 18.

My indoors girl, fourteen year old Phoebe.
My indoors girl, fourteen year old Phoebe.

When my blogging friend Carol answers the questions to “Cee’s Share Your World” each week, I really enjoy reading what she has to say. Sometimes her responses are definite, usually they sound as though she is thinking out loud as she comes up with her answers, and they are absolutely always fun to read! After Carol has shared just a little bit more about her world, at her blog “Wanderings of an Elusive Mind”, I realise that through her simple replies to Cee’s random questions, I have got to know Carol just that little bit better.

For quite a while now I have been “bumping into” Cee around the blogging world and have often thought I would like to join in with Share Your World. This morning, after seeing the questions and reading Carol’s answers, I have decided that today is the day, no more procrastinating. I’m not sure when the “week” begins and ends for Cee, so I’m assuming that Week 18 began on the day that Cee added her post with the questions, which was Monday, April 29th, allowing me a couple of days still to join in. If I have the rules wrong, I do hope that Cee will set me straight.

So here goes ~

What is your favorite animal?

Oh, that is an easy question. Even though I love many different animals, my ultimate favourite is most definitely cats. During my entire life, I think I have only been without a cat (or cats) in my world for a total of three years. To me, a house is not a home without at least one cat to share it with. My children have often joked that as I grow older, I will probably become the crazy cat woman, with cats all over the house. You may be right, kids! 😉

Miss Tibbs enjoying the sun this morning.
Miss Tibbs enjoying the sun this morning.

What is your favorite comfort snack food?

Chocolate! No question about it. And if the chocolate is dark (my latest delicious discovery), coffee or mint flavoured (or both!) all the better. 🙂

What subject would you like to study in depth, if given the time to do so?

Linguistics and English literature. I love reading, books, crosswords, the context and meanings of words, the written word. I even love pens, pencils and paper, being the instruments with which to write those words. And when computers and the internet became readily available, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! Words and writing fascinate me, I love written communication of any kind and I enjoy the play of the meanings and context that words can be used in. Gee, I could write a blog post for that answer!

Just one of the many bookcases in my home.
Just one of the many bookcases in my home.

What object do you always have with you when traveling and why?

It took me a minute to think about that. My initial response was a camera, although thinking back, I haven’t always owned a camera. So, when I cast my mind back and thought about what it is that I always place in my packing pile first, when preparing to travel, it’s a book, or books. I have never in my entire life travelled without a book. Why? I can’t travel with my cat! Cats and books are my two absolute essentials in life.

Well that was fun, thanks Cee! Now I’m wondering why it has taken me so long to Share my World. 🙂

chocolate · music · son

With Gentle Music in my Mind…

Words escape me today.

No, allow me correct myself; the words are present, lyrically bouncing along in my mind to the tunes of the songs I listened to yesterday afternoon and last night.

It’s the written word which escapes me, so I will rhythmically share with you the music playing in my head!

How could I ignore listening to the final few songs of the “Top 100 Love Songs”, featured on television late yesterday afternoon when I arrived home?

My super cool, thirteen year old son joined me, singing along to the songs, as I listened, amazed yet again, at his knowledge of songs recorded decades before his birth.

Adam and I shared chocolates whilst singing along to romantic melodies….”I Honestly Love You” from Olivia Newton John, “How Deep Is Your Love”, the Bee Gees, “I Will Always Love You” sung by Whitney Houston (from the movie “The Bodyguard”, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and the number one song of the countdown, from the movie “Titanic”, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.

Romantic songs over chocolates with your son ~ it doesn’t get much better than that!

My musical interlude continued later in the night with the discovery of the 2011 “Grammy Awards”. Not a big fan of rap music, although rap is big right now and does appear to have many fans, I persevered through the rap, to be later rewarded by hearing “Lady Antebellum’s” smooth, lyrical voices.

Towards the end of the Grammy’s, which didn’t finish screening here in Australia until nearly midnight, came the artist with thee song…Barbra Streisand singing one of the most beautiful songs of all time, “Evergreen”.

In case you missed it, here is the song I’ve had playing over and over and over in my head, all day long!

Barbra Streisand, “Evergreen”…

I managed to find an old Barbra Streisand CD in my cabinet this morning, which went out in the car with me this morning. Evergreen (track 9) was on constant replay!

The realities and practicalities of life continued as they always do today, all day long, but oh, how much easier realities are to contend with, with a beautiful song spinning around your mind! 🙂

(Photo Credit)

cakes · chocolate · music · nostalgia

The Icing on MacArthur Park (and My Christmas Cake!)

On Christmas Eve I iced my Christmas cake, as I am known to do every year, during one of the preceding days leading up to the big day itself.

As a general rule, the icing stays put. But not this Christmas!

The moisture in the air, due to the massive amounts of rain we have been experiencing over the last few weeks, had my chocolate icing venturing to places on my cake where chocolate icing was not intended to be!

(The humidity level has regularly hovered around 80 – 90 % for some time now.)

Immediately, I had music in my head…

“MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down…
Someone left the cake out in the rain…”

Yes, I know, my icing was sweet brown icing and no, I did not leave it out in the rain! Although it looks for all the world as if I did!

Do you remember the song, “MacArthur Park”? It was written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by actor, Richard Harris in 1968. The song became an instant one hit wonder for Harris, the actor.

I remember the song well, from listening to my mother constantly singing it around the house, whilst going about her housework! She was totally besotted by the song!

As to the actual recording of the song, even as a child I found Richard Harris’s voice haunting. Still do, for that matter.

Not that I had a clue as to what the lyrics were going on about!

It got the better of me. I had to take myself off to YouTube and find the song. Just to hear that voice again. And the orchestra. And to feel the sensation of goose bumps….

Yep, I’m my mother’s daughter. I’m besotted by that song!

I came across a few trivial facts to share with you also, just in case you’re interested in Richard Harris, or his gorgeous voice, or his acting, or that song…

Richard St. John Harris was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1930.

His movie career began in 1958 and included roles in such memorable movies as “The Guns of Navarone”, “Mutiny on the Bounty” and “Camelot”.

In 2002, Harris played his final movie role in “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets”, as Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore.

Unfortunately, Harris passed away just two and a half weeks before the release of the movie.

As to my not understanding the lyrics of “MacArthur Park”, apparently they are meant to symbolise the ending of a love affair!

You can watch and listen to a YouTube video here ~

to hear snippets of the song, as sung by Richard Harris, along with interjections of anecdotes about the song and Harris himself.

For an uninterrupted (shortened) version of the song, go here ~

This second link is “A Tribute to Richard Harris”. Whilst he is singing the song, various photos are flashed across the screen, of Harris as he appeared in some of his movies roles. At the end of the video, an Irish Blessing appears, reading,

“May you always find blue skies above your head,

Shamrocks beneath your feet, laughter and joy aplenty,

Kindness from all you meet,

Good friends and kin to miss you if ever you choose to roam,

And a path that’s been cleared by angels themselves

To carry you safely home”.

Isn’t that a lovely blessing?

And so ends my “Richard Harris / MacArthur Park walk down memory lane and trivia quest”.

The humidity has dropped today to around 60 %, the rain is gone and the sun is shining, but I’ll be waiting a while before I add any icing to any cakes I bake!

cakes · chocolate · cooking · recipe

Chocolate Cake ~ Vegan Style

These days, more and more people are changing their eating habits, as part of their search for a healthier lifestyle.

My own personal preference is to grow as many fruit vegetables as I can in my own back garden. So far, I have shied away from keeping my own chooks for the eggs, only because I hate the thought of the poor little hens being terrorised by snakes…we get quite a few here during the summer!

My daughter found this recipe so we would have a vegan alternative to our regular chocolate cake recipes. We do want to make our vegan and vegetarian guests feel welcome in our home!

We discovered that this cake is so delicious, there is no need at all to be a vegan to enjoy it. It’s light and fluffy and oh-so-chocolaty!

125g soft vegan margarine

1 cup castor sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

½ cup cocoa

½ cup hot water

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 cup soya milk

1 ¾ cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Cream margarine, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Blend the cocoa in the hot water and gradually add to the margarine and sugar mixture.

Add the lemon juice to the milk to sour it.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and add it to the creamed mixture alternately with the soured milk. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon the cake mixture into a greased and paper lined 8″ cake pan and bake in a moderate oven, 180 deg. C for 30-40 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Allow to cool before icing.

Decorate as desired…enjoy! 🙂

birthdays · cakes · chocolate · cooking · recipe

Chocolate Cake, For Any Occasion.

This Easter just passed, rather than let the family eat Easter eggs all weekend, but still staying with the chocolate theme, I made my favourite version of good old fashioned chocolate cake.

During all of my years of hosting children’s birthday parties and a multitude of various other family events I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy a slice of chocolate cake. If it isn’t the number one choice of preferred cakes, it always runs a close second.

Although I have many chocolate cake recipes, this is the recipe that I invariably choose, time and time again…in fact, I first made this particular cake when I was roughly fifteen years of age and living at home with my parents!

Served with a hot cup of coffee, this cake is close to perfection!

Chocolate Cake

90g butter, at room temperature

Chocolate Cake

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 eggs, separated, and at room temperature

1 tablespoon rum or water

1 ¼ cups self-raising flour

Pinch salt

¼ cup cocoa

½ cup milk

Grease a 25mm ring tin and pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C.

Beat the butter and sugar together, add the vanilla essence and continue to beat the mixture until it is fluffy and light in colour.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then add the rum or water.

Sift together the flour, salt and cocoa and measure the milk.

Using a large metal spoon fold the sifted dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix lightly but thoroughly.

Beat the egg whites until they are firm and stand in soft peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes.