Eat Cake and then do the Bridge Pose!

I’ve made two birthday cakes from scratch in the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d tell you about them today. Because who doesn’t like cake? (I don’t see any hands raised…Everybody loves cake!)

I can make a cake from scratch, no problem – it’s the decorating that gets me. Just call me the queen of lopsided. Highly skilled in filling divots with extra icing. Nothing ever so bad that a good handful of sprinkles can’t make better. That’s me.

I was bemoaning the fact on Facebook last month when I baked a cake for M’s birthday, and here’s what my friend Val had to say:

cakeThese days, my heart warms to see a lopsided, real ingredient cake. More often, a perfect, symmetrical synthetic cake from the store is our effort to show love. Your handmade one is the real thing. It reminds me of the choices you make to spend your time on things that matter to you.

 

Isn’t that wonderful! It made me feel better right away. Because she is 100% correct. So pfffft that my sprinkle-drenched over-frosted-to-cover-the-divot cake was lopsided. It was delicious and I made it by myself for my son.

cupcakes

 

Today we’re going to a 59th birthday party for Mr C’s cousin who lives in Vernon. Feeling bolstered by Val’s wisdom, I volunteered to bake the birthday cake. I’m not sure how many people will be there, so rather than baking a two-tiered cake, I made cupcakes instead. They look very pretty on my wire cupcake stand. This is chocolate cake from scratch, with a chocolate whipped cream icing that is very similar to chocolate mousse.

And lucky you….I’m giving out the recipe! Now go eat some cake!

Nita’s Deep Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe
Mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa (the dry powder)
1 1/2  tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Mix together wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
Mix wet and dry ingredients together.
Add 1/2 cup hot coffee & 1/2 cup boiling water.
Pour into 2 cake pans (batter will be very thin). Bake @350 30 – 40 minutes until done.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Icing
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
Whip until stiff.

Now that you’ve eaten all that  cake, you can work some of it off doing a bit of yoga during the April A-Z Blog Challenge:

BBridge Pose

Lay on your back with your arms down along your sides. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Scoot your feet up as close to your bum as you can comfortably get them. Push down through your feet and lift your bum into the air any amount.

Any amount means one inch, six inches, twelve inches – whatever feels good.

I like to press my lower back down into the floor and then slowly peel my hips up off the mat, raising my back one vertebrae at a time until I’m resting on my shoulder blades. I roll myself back down the same way. But that’s just me. You do what feels good for you.

Once you’re up there, you can wiggle around a little bit and get your shoulders underneath you.  If you’re way up there, you can lace your fingers together underneath your bum and push your arms into the mat to help get more lift in the hips.

If this hurts your neck don’t do it.

You might find that bridge pose feels really good in your mid & lower back. You might find it feels really good across the front of your chest.

Here’s a short video tutorial so you can see what it looks like:

And because every pose should be adjusted for every body, here is a great modification using a strap for those of you who are blessed with abundant bosoms (so that you don’t smother yourself), or using a block for those of you who haven’t developed the strength to hold yourself in the pose just yet. 🙂

 

99 Square Feet: a tiny space with a big heart

I got a note from a friend the other day week reminding me that I haven’t posted any pictures of my creative space yet. Thank you to Shannon for the inspiration and nudge to get it done!

This is the North wall:

008The mirror is for dance practice.  The bookshelf holds my yoga, aerobics & (about half of my) dance videos. The TV and DVD player are mounted on the wall above the shelf.

And yes, there IS enough space in the middle of the floor to roll out my yoga mat!

West wall:

010I used one of my happy retirement gift certificates from my mates at Yukon College to buy these storage shelves for my fabric stash and sewing supplies.

006This morning I unpacked another box and found some missing items:

005If you’re a quilter, you probably have a big grin on your face right now. 🙂

On the South wall, Kelly built me the most gorgeous sewing nook in what used to be the closet.

007The East wall will eventually contain my writing desk and/or work table. I’d love to get one of those sweet little antique secretaries. But as you can see, space is an issue.

012The room is 9×11. Pretty good for 99 square feet, eh?

Last but not least, I’ve pulled the fabrics for my next quilt project:

002I’ve been collecting these oriental prints for a few years now.

003I actually have two lap quilts in mind 🙂

001Stay tuned!

Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)

58-Collins

Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…

41-CollinsPLAY!

This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!

PLAY!

(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)