Tag Archives: cake

Winging It

As I write this I am sat on my sofa avoiding the midday heat and surrounded by the delicious scents of warm cinnamon, cardamom, butter, vanilla and gingery sugary goodness. I am paying close attention to the gas hob in my kitchen and wondering nervously if the heat has burnt the pan contents sat atop the hob or if these mouth watering scents means my random act of BAKING A CAKE IN A SAUCEPAN ON TOP OF THE GAS HOB is actually working.

Let me explain how I came to this…

I woke up yesterday and felt to bake a cake for my boyfriend. I wanted to do something nice for him and I pondered my options whilst I walked leisurely to the shop in my bright pink flip flops. The heat of the day slowly intensifying with the rising sun. I stepped up and through the creaking door of my local shop that lies nestled in the shadows of an old dusty church. The choice was limited but three sturdy orange carrots caught my eye and made my decision to bake carrot cake. I picked a handful of the finest walnuts I could see and tucked them into the basket with dates, spices, sugar and more.

I was up early and eager to begin my baking this morning. As I live in Egypt I have been missing the feel of autumn. The red and burnished gold of leaves, the smooth brown curves of conkers. This carrot cake was to be my way of acknowledging the season. It would be filed with golden autumnal sugar, the rich warmth of cinnamon and a touch of cardamom to represent the Eastern spices of where I now live. As I walked into my kitchen I knew I didn’t have scales and would have to estimate the weights of ingredients using a cup and trawl the Internet for a conversion table. I approached the gas oven and despite my best efforts it refused to light. I tried over and over again but it just would not cooperate. I almost burned my thumb on one occasion as the gas flared up and lost the lighter down the back of the oven during another as it pinged out of my grip. I had to leave the room after another attempt filled the kitchen and me with gas that made my eyes sting and water. After ten attempts and a couple of minor gas flaring incidents I resigned myself to no oven. But at least I hadn’t passed out from gas fumes in the process.

By this point I had also looked up conversion tables from cups to grams on the Internet and sadly realised they are all different. I could find no converter that had an answer for each ingredient and each converter gave a different answer for just one ingredient. Oh.  I stared at my dream of autumnal baking bliss, of carrot cake heaven, and felt disappointment rising in me like a soggy undercooked bun. I had no scales and no oven but I desperately didn’t want to give up. I took one look at the gas hob, another look at my largest saucepan and thought

Oh what the heck, let’s wing it and make a cake on the hob

That idea was WAY OUTSIDE OF MY COMFORT ZONE. I don’t wing it when I do things that reflect upon my abilities, that others can bear witness to. I plan, prepare, worry, prepare some more, lose sleep and plan some more. I have, as do many of us, a fear of failure and of being exposed for the village idiot. I fear I am not as good as all that. So the idea of baking a cake in a pan on the hob, with no idea of quantities of ingredients AND for someone else would definitely be winging it and very far outside of my happy place.

At this point I should mention I am recovering from a recent illness caused by, I believe, too much stress from unavoidable outside circumstances but also due to my reactions and expectations of myself. I ignored my Intuition telling me to stop and rest until I literally had to stop and lie down for a week. Yesterday I decided I must listen to my Intuition more and let her guide me. Stop playing by the rules, stop expecting everything (including myself) to be perfect and wing it a little instead with more laughter in every day. I simply do not want to be the cause of my own exhaustion and illness anymore by ignoring my inner self. The world is a harsh enough critic without me adding to it.

I pondered this with a raised eyebrow, and eyed up the hob and saucepan. Could making this cake be the perfect opportunity to put my thoughts into practice and let my intuition guide me? I could listen to my Intuition closely and see if I could make a cake without scales or an oven. I have made plenty of cakes in the past (albeit with scales, a recipe and an oven) and perhaps my inner self might just know the way to do this. Could it be the perfect opportunity to practice letting go of certainty of success? The cake could come out as a soggy lump of undercooked gooey, burnt batter. That would be my failing but perhaps that is okay. I won’t die from it.

So my beautiful imagined day of seamless autumnal baking for my man had turned into an opportunity for some self-analysis, growth and letting go. Who knew an almost lethal oven, a lack of utensils and a willingness to put myself out there could be so therapeutic? No, me neither.

I took a very deep breath, reminded myself to listen closely to me and then winged it BIG TIME. I threw cups of basic cake ingredients into my mixing bowl and hoped for the best. I splashed yellow eggs in, sprinkled over what I felt would be a tasty amount of different spices and added plenty of baking powder. Surely some extra lift would be a good thing for my saucepan cake? I chopped up the dates enthusiastically and threw them in without considering quantity. Why not, we’re not playing by the rules here anymore. As I mixed the ingredients together lovingly I listened closely and my intuition told me it looked about right for carrot cake batter. I poured the hearty, orange flecked, walnut filled batter into my saucepan and promptly fell about laughing at how ridiculous this idea was. Yes it was also FUN. I was letting go, I was covered in flour dust and playing. I was learning to be me and trusting I am enough. I was also learning just how divine raw cake batter tastes. If only one could survive on cake batter alone as a healthy nourishing diet.

So, my ‘cake’ has been on the hob now for almost an hour and we are back to where I started my tale. I am sat on the sofa surrounded by the delicious scents of warm cinnamon, cardamom, butter, vanilla and gingery sugary goodness. I am paying close attention to the gas burner and wondering nervously if the gas has burnt the pan contents. I tell myself it is time to check and guess what….there is a cake in my pan! An actual cake. Sure it’s not perfect looking but it is definitely cake. This is a recognisable edible item, commonly referred to as food. I can’t believe it!

Or maybe I can? My intuition told me all along I could wing this and make it happen. My stubborn mind just refused to quieten down and believe.

After a minor skirmish with my cake in the pan, a knife and a fish slice (I lack utensils here) it came free from the pan and flopped onto a plate with a heavy sigh. Here is the cake in all her autumnal, slightly burnt, middle-stuck-to-the-pan glory. Isn’t it just perfect? I think so. Okay so it may be slightly burnt, wonky and missing a middle section but it represents a step forwards for me and it is gorgeous with plump edges. As the cake cools slowly on the plate by my side I am smiling.

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What seemed like a disaster, a disappointment disrupting my plans, turned out to be an opportunity for adventure, laughter and growth today. The unexpected turned out okay in the end. All I had to do was drop my self-expectations and rules, turn up with an open mind and be prepared I may fail. Choose to give it a go even though I felt out of my depth, wing it with a kind and forgiving heart, listen closely to my intuition and do my best. Perhaps that is all I can ask of myself every day? All any of us can ask of ourselves? Because, truth be told, I think we are all winging it at times and hoping our cake comes out perfect every time. We all have fears,  wish we were better at this, less of one thing and more of another. Do we hesitate and hold back from trying new things because of our perceived limitations?

How about we just stop beating ourselves with the whisk, take a leap and enjoy the ride, bumps and all? Trust ourselves and go for it. Add heaps and dollops of glorious extra frosting and enjoy the cake. Sit down and eat the cake, eat a lot of cake. And say to ourselves…I did my best and that is simply enough. Now pass me my cup of tea.

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SuperHero Pants

 

It would appear that I have nothing to say right now, try as I might to find some words of use to this world. Words that will make someone laugh, make someone smile, feel loved and inspired. My inspiration and motivation have apparently packed their bags, taken hold of each others’ hands and left me alone with my cup of steaming tea. They have decided it is vacation time and have sauntered off to the nearest cafe before they catch the train called Holiday.

For the past few days my head has been scanning wildly for these much loved friends of mine as I have fought feeling restless, ill at ease and unmotivated. My shoulders have tightened in their absence. I have leg ache from trying to find them as I ran daily along the beach, shouting their names to the wind. I tried dancing on the disused railway track with my Ipod in order to bring them back but it didn’t help. I have mourned their loss and hoped they will come back to me soon with tales of their adventures. We had such a beautiful week together prior to the last few days. Every day was full of passion, new experiences, possibilities, love and laughter. Now I am left with an overcast sky framing the mountains around me and an inability to write.

As I searched on WordPress this morning for some inspiration to bring me back to my senses I came upon this post ‘Not a Lot to Say’ by Forest Four The Trees. It had been reblogged on one of my favourites blogs The Live Simply Community. It was just meant to be read by me today. It made me laugh out loud at myself as I choked on my cup of tea. It made me step back and drop my shoulders as I reminded myself to stop putting so much pressure on me. It is okay not to feel inspirational, motivated and full of fire this week.

 

It is perfectly acceptable if I just take off my SuperHero Pants, toss them aside and forget about being that part of me. In fact I may even put my pants on my head for a moment

 

It is okay to sit on my bottom, eat cake and do sweet nothing until I feel ready to move forwards. I am not achieving much and I am probably inspiring no-one but let it be. Time will bring back my friends Inspiration and Motivation when they have enjoyed their holiday and decided to come home to the aftersun lotion.

In the meantime, I will spend my lull giving thanks for ten wonderful moments that have happened this week. Moments that simply made me smile and breathe out contentedly.

 

They have more than made up for the lack of SuperHero pants

 

  1. The storms in Cape Town washed up a Portugese Man O War jellyfish onto the beach. I didn’t know they were such a bright azure blue. Stunning
  2. I have run 25Km this week so far and loved every step across the golden sands
  3. I am blessed with new friendships this year that bring me peace, happiness and creativity
  4. I saw two humpback whales breach simultaneously as I worked on the ocean waves. I never knew whales could sigh until I listened closely
  5. I sat on my patio and listened to the trees rustling in the breeze. I fell asleep to their music
  6. I shared good food and wine with dear friends and we created new possibilities for future work
  7. I got stuck inside my duvet cover as I tried to make my bed late one night. I laughed a lot at my duvet jellyfish creation
  8. I realised just how much someone cares about me and felt humbled by their unconditional love
  9. I experienced the magic that is chocolate and marshmallow cake at my favourite cafe
  10. I spoke to every member of my immediate family. I am so lucky we are all well, safe and happy

Who stole my peace?

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I lost my peace this past week and no matter where I looked I couldn’t seem to find it. I have hunted high and low for this peace; under the bed, in the kitchen cupboards, behind the door, in the bottom of a packet of biscuits and in my shoe. It was nowhere to be seen and left me feeling lost and uninspired. And then I looked in the mirror and realised that actually I hadn’t lost my peace. It has been there all along; as the sparkle in my eyes, the smile on my face and that feeling of knowing deep in my heart. I had just been looking in the wrong places and forgotten to look within me.

I have been so preoccupied with looking towards others and outside of me to validate who I am this past week that I had stumbled onto a path of my own fears and self-judgement. It hasn’t been pretty and I have watched my inspiration and passion take a back seat on the comfy sofa whilst I’ve been stirring a pot of negativity in my mind and working my way through the chocolate. I was greeted by two old friends of mine: fear and judgement.

 

Fear and judgement

Two perfect ways to ruin your day, squash your dreams and give up

 

They are free for all, widely available within ourselves and spread by our words and actions towards others. We all experience them in our lives and they are difficult to eliminate because we nurture and share them so carelessly. Often without even realising what we are doing.

It makes me sad to think I have wasted precious time judging myself this past week for making two tiny mistakes and have flicked on the fear switch that says in its childlike tone ‘I can’t do this, I’m just not good enough’. I thought I had firmly kicked that in the backside a while ago but it would seem fear is persistent and rears its ugly head when you least expect it. It turns your rational mind upside down, your brain inside out and is a ridiculous waste of time and space. And that is just what I have done to myself. It is a scary thought that I created that all by myself without so much as any judgement from elsewhere. Try as I might I have not been able to find anyone else that is judging me in the way I do. And believe me I tried! There appears to be no-one else to blame but me. Damn.

 

But here is the good part. If I can create the fear and judgement within me then I can also create its opposite.

 

I can sweep away those negative patterns within my mind and bring in the good, the passion and joie de vivre once again. All I need to do is put some effort in with my mind and let the good thoughts roll. So what are the opposites of fear and judgement?

 

Faith, Hope & Love (and a big piece of cake)

 

It was a conversation with a friend of mine that reminded me of these three cornerstones to bringing about peace internally. His grasp on the importance of these left me feeling somewhat humbled and I paused in my feverish stirring of the fear pot to take note. Everyone has faith in some form; be it religious, spiritiual or something entirely different. He reminded me that by cultivating Faith and sowing seeds of Hope every day, you realise that actually everything will be okay. Life is as it is meant to be right now and even when it is dark you can keep focusing on your Faith and Hope. You can create your own sunshine and smile right now at the beauty in your life.

 

And then there is Love

 

Love is the absolute opposite of fear and judgement in all its forms. It is the medicine we all need, it is free to give and receive and feels divine. We all need to experience and share more Love; for the sake of ourselves and for the world around us. It can only bring good into our souls and lifts us every moment it is shared.

 

Because with Love comes Peace

 

So whilst I can still feel fear and judgement niggling inside me I am going to turn my attention away and start cultivating more Faith, Hope & Love today and every day. I am going to head out into the sunshine and let the good thoughts roll. And yes I may also indulge in a big piece of cake.

May you all have a wonderful week and find reasons to keep on smiling today. Go and tell someone you love them, spread some happiness and hope and watch the peace within you grow.