Monday, October 12, 2009

A Book Review, Chocolate Cupcakes and a (Minor) Yoga DVD complaint

A few weeks ago, a visitor to my blog sent me a lovely e-mail in which she recommended the book Zenzele. I put it on hold at the library and as soon as it came in, was thoroughly overjoyed to put aside the utter borefest that isThe God of Small Things to get into it. And my enthusiasm was well warranted.

This slim book is simply stunning. I loved it and highly, highly, highly encourage you to read it. It's a letter written by a mother to her daughter who is on her way to study at Harvard. It's tempting when reading this letter to forget that it is fictional especially since so much of what is being spoken about in the story actually happened in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). It captures so much emotion and details so meticulously much of the mother's history. It tells the mother's story with poignancy and honesty. There is so much wisdom in this little book. It is indeed political and there are times when it does get a little heavy-handed with the warnings of "what you should not become" but that just lent tremendously to the air or authenticity because, after all, that is what mother's tend to be sometimes, i.e. overbearing and heavy-handed--just because of the sheer weight of a mother's love and the soul-deep desire to see your children happy, successful and fulfilled.

I tell you, I would just love to have such a letter written to me by my mother. It would explain to me the reasons for the things she does--the things I'm so critical of her for. It would explain what I perceive as her passivity, what I perceive as her being too humble, not ambitious enough, not strong enough. It would open a door of knowing.

I was deeply moved by this book. I have to share with you this one excerpt from page 185:
"I no longer see the world as ready-made, requiring only that we occupy our own little spot and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, as the taught me at the Sunday school in Chakowa Mision. Like your father, I am coming to understand that this world is as yet unfinished. There is no Eden here ave the one we create for one another. Our mission is to complete and preserve the work that was started. And that is why we are created in God's image."
One hundred thanks to the sister who recommended it to me.
Over the weekend, we had the chance to hang out with some friends that we've met because we share the similar goal of homeschooling our boys. We visited Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture which is a working farm that raises animals humanely and the way they are supposed to be raised, i.e. out in the open field eating their natural diet. Read more about what they do here. It was so interesting learning about the animals they keep there and the cooperation between the farmers and the chefs in the restaurant.

We really enjoyed ourselves tremendously and to celebrate a bit late Z1's birthday and the birthday of one of the other boys that make up our informal homeschooling group, I made chocolate cupcakes.

Here's my recipe for chocolate cake. Double this recipe and you will get 2 dozen cupcakes. Reduce the baking time to about 25 minutes. And, why yes, I did pull out my tips and pastry bag and get to decorating. I can't wait till I have more time to practice cake decorating. I really enjoy it.

This is the frosting recipe I use (comes from The Vegan Chef) and it works well every time.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup soy margarine, softened
1/4 cup soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
3 cups
Veganized Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Using an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, place the soy margarine and soy milk, and cream them together. Add half of the sugar, and beat well to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to beat the mixture until light and fluffy.

*Note: For a Berry Frosting, add 1/4 cups mashed fresh or frozen berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries.

For a Chocolate Frosting, add 1/2 cups cocoa powder or 1/3 cups melted vegan chocolate chips.

For a Coffee Frosting, substitute cold coffee or espresso for the soy milk in the recipe.

For a Mocha Frosting, substitute cold coffee or espresso for the soy milk in the recipe and add 1/4-1/3 cup cocoa powder or 3-4 T. melted vegan chocolate chips.

You can also stir in chopped nuts, chopped vegan chocolate, shredded coconut, or chopped fruit into the basic Vanilla "Buttercream" Frosting recipe to create additional variations.


And last, but not least, practicing yoga at night has been great for me. I'm much more flexible since I've been moving around in the day but I'm also in wind-down mode. So tonight I attempted to do MTV Yoga and it was horrible. The pace was way too fast and I found myself wanting to hold positions for much longer. By the time I got comfortably into a pose, the instructor was 3 poses ahead. Breathing, which by now has become very natural for me to do correctly while practicing, was forced and I kept forgetting. It was like aerobic yoga which is not what I am looking for in the evenings. I'm looking for a strong yoga routine that builds heat but that doesn't leave me light headed and tense. I guess in the early morning, I was more up for this kind of routine but for the night, it's a no go. So, I started tonight but didn't finish which is rather disappointing although it is what it is.


Sabrina @ my little slice of pie said... a night, maybe that's what I need. I haven't been sleeping well lately. What do dvd's do you recommend?

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