with balloon toppers and walnut candles!
It's hard to believe that I've reached this point in life, this milestone of turning fourteen. My mind whirls with the thought- me, just playing pretend like it was yesterday, being fourteen today. I've been a recipient of well-wishes and kind messages throughout the day, from a multitude of people I know and not-know-so-well. I've gotten those words, happy birthday, from unexpected parties, from someone who celebrated with me yet forgot it was my birthday, and from my classmates, friends, and friends' parents. And for that, I'm thankful. I'm thankful to know that there are those who remember one of the days which I hold dear in my heart, thankful to know that they do remember, be it in the form of a call, a simple happy birthday!, or a long text message from a close friend.
The memories come rushing back, like they were summoned just by the clock which times my life. I can see myself, perched upon a stool, playing pretend with my friends, all innocent and naïve in the dawn of childhood. I was so, so young, wide-eyed and curious. I asked questions, more often than not receiving disappointing answers, or earning a shush. I would dream too. I'd dream of being a princess, or a mermaid, or some other fairy tale creature conjured by the likes of Disney. I'd fantasize, and imagine, my eyes staring to a non-existent point in the distance.
And I grew.
I grew to be tall-er (being the tallest in class since birth), smarter, and slightly wiser. I learned new things, my inquisitive edge blunted by all that shushing, but still an imaginative one. I still dreamt in the sunshine-filled days of my tweens, now stronger than ever, as I really could drift off for hours on end, nothing but a mere cord binding my mind to me. I would imagine less of myself, but of the world I'd live in, be it a small, cozy kitchen in a forest, a glamorous suite in the heart of a metropolis, or a pilgrim in a caravan (though I'm pretty sure that was from excessively reading Roald Dahl).
I would read too. Books of all sorts seemed to be filling the house, mostly of the non-fiction genre, with my favourites to read beneath the desk in school (during class) being Enid Blython, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis... Looking at the bookshelf of mine that, despite many packing and re-packings, is stuffed full, I realise that few books from then remain, save the most memorable ones. For that, I have to thank my mother, she who was always there for me; and despite the looks of fake displeasure she gave me when forking over money for a new novel, they carved a way for my interest in language, my love for dramatics and anything literature. (I'm happy that my horrible eyesight was a unfortunate side-effect of book-reading, and not television-junking)
And I grew.
I continued to blossom, to spread my wings (though more often than not, I found myself having my feathers plucked), and to gain further insight in this tumultuous world. I have developed my dreams, now shifting to the future, something more realistic, but still artistic. The future is still cloaked in this shadow of grey fog, and my mind is indecisive about which fork in the road I should take. I've developed my interests, something I once found unlikely - cooking, as well as maintained and furthered what was once rooted in me, crafts. Here in this space, I've fused them, formed a medley of cooking, crafting, and writing, where I can find the peace within myself.
At this moment, I'm fourteen - and how long a journey it's been! Years of laughter, of wails, of screams, of shrieks, of snorts... The list of sounds I produce can drag on, really. The journey goes on, whether I want it to or not. There are people and places I'm forced to bid farewell to, and life isn't judgemental whether I want it or not. I miss friends, miss places, miss those memories. But the ties of memories forged let me be connected, some way or another. I move on, in body and in mind. One of those things learned is to go with the flow and let life carry you upon the tides.
I may wish to be Peter Pan, be in Neverland and be my parents' little girl forever. But like those dreams I held as a youngling have vanished with time. I know now that being a model isn't realistic (despite all the times it was suggested by teachers), an architect not to my true interests, and a faerie princess plain stupid. I realize that those fanciful thoughts about going overseas with friends at sixteen is just a Hollywood-influenced idea, and that of going to an academy from Harry Potter.
And despite all my air-head-ish thoughts, there are people who I have to thank- those who have empowered me throughout the years and some I've encountered in my various endeavours. I've been blessed, blessed beyond relief, for the opportunities I've been offered over the years, the people I've met, and most importantly, being born in such a privileged family. Without you all, I wouldn't be the person here today, much less have the mind of myself. So, thank you. Thank you all.
But for now, I shall revel in the being of being a teenager (rather reluctantly). I had one of the most amazing days with a friend, having strolled around town for a movie, books, and food. We met at the train station, me being surprisingly late by ten minutes, later having trouble locating a building just down the street, and catching a long-awaited movie (I did say I was a sucker for movies, didn't I?). Books followed, and I got lost in that labyrinth of bookshelves, ogling at the various titles, indecisive of what to choose, and the friend being absorbed in the manga section. We finally emerged two hours later, book-laden and not-hungry-but-wanting-more. Free samples were grabbed, food bought and overall, it was an eventful day.
Before the day even began though, I awoke to a hug from my mother and cake-baking in the early hours as dawn unfolded. I began to bake. And bake I did. I baked a cake, one that was simple, yet had my favourite flavors combined within, one which would tease my tongue and arouse the palate. I baked, and yielded a well-risen cake, one which was nicely crisped and not overly-browned.
I experimented a little here, and remembered that hot air rises, so candles + balloons = pop. But when I sliced the cake up, I knew that it was a success. Soft, warm cake, not sticky, but lightly chewy, with a most pleasing texture. The flavour itself was wonderful - so you'll be seeing it very, very soon in more recipes! It was a good cake, with a pleasing texture and taste, the perfect start to a day.
Sea Salt Cake with Caramel Glaze
1/3 c flour (wholewheat for me)
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon coconut sugar / other sweetener of choice
1/4 c applesauce
1 date + 2-3 tbsp. water
1. Preheat oven to 180c. Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
2. Stir in egg and applesauce until a smooth batter is formed.
3. Pour batter into a greased ramekin / small cake tin. Bake for 25 mins or so, until tester inserted comes out clean.
4. Meanwhile, mash the date with water until a smooth, thin paste is formed.
5. Remove the cake from the oven, change the setting to 140c, and let it cool for a bit.
6. Invert onto a plate, smear 'glaze' over cake, then bake for another 5 mins. Serve, and enjoy.
5 long wooden chopsticks / satay sticky
5 small balloons
5 gift wrap ties
What to do:
1. Inflate balloons, and tie.
2. Attach to blunt end of the stick with cable tie. Make fancy 'streamer' patterns with them, if you wish.
3. Stick into cake. Serve.
For walnut candles, just place walnuts firmly onto cake and light it up with a lighter. The natural oils help them burn. But do not ever try to serve a cake with balloon toppers and candles. The balloons will pop.