SCHOOL IS TOO BUSY. Like, seriously, too busy.
When I prioritise, I push away my hobbies: cooking, blogging, guitar, sports, craft. So I get more time, but I end up perpetually miserable because I never ever get around to anything pleasurable and I feel trapped.
So this year I have made it a point to just do the fun stuff as well, no matter what.
The result being that I've made a few pretty and arty jewellery pieces, I've cooked and blogged and read old childhood books just for the fun of it.
But of course, I'm left struggling to get everything on my to-do list done.
I can't figure it out... it's like inventing a multi-layered cake singlehandedly and from scratch... every ingredient and proportion has to be measured and changed and tweaked till you get it right. Events, new tasks and challenges- both at home and at school- are thrown in like a sudden malfunctioning mixer, an overheating oven or spoilt eggs and they turn everything upside down, just when you think you're getting the hang of it.
But at least, amidst all of it, I'm having fun. Stuff like this thrills me, and while I don't have time for it all, doing one little thing every now and then just makes me feel good. It's the joy of taking time out and reaping its benefits afterwards: be it cooking something, sharing it and savouring each bite; making something and wearing it proudly; reading something that sparks your imagination and puts a smile on your face; or playing some music and slowing down every inch of your body.
My dad and I made this date cake one weekend morning and we reaped its benefits for at least a week afterwards. I was super proud of my dad for choosing this recipe, because it was so healthy (he invariably just gives me a look when I suggest replacing the white flour with whole wheat, the white sugar with brown or the butter with olive oil.) But for some reason he decided to go full-on health-freak with me, and it made me feel much better about eating the cake for breakfast every day.
This cake starts off crumbly, very moist and soft. It stores well in a box in the fridge, and as the days progress it becomes denser and stickier, while still retaining its moistness. There wasn't a single time I didn't enjoy it.
Just by the way, the slices weren't as huge as in the picture... being my procrastinator self I told myself each night that I'd take a photo of it the next morning, only to see the cake, cut a slab, dig in to it and rush out to school. So when it dawned on me that it was dwindling quickly, I just took the last chunk and photographed it before it was too late. My photos from when it was fresh weren't very good, but I really wanted to show you its original loose crumbliness. So apart from the average-ish last photo, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Bake this. Now. You won't regret it ever ever ever ever.
This is a post long, long overdue. In fact, almost 2 months overdue.
My 16th birthday was the very first day of school (the IB, to be precise... the thought was/is petrifying), and it was our orientation day. Contrary to what I believed the day would be like- a chilled, exciting day with activities- it was so, so dull. I didn't know any of the new people, we had endless talks and presentations, and I came home feeling completely flustered, tired, overwhelmed and really upset that it just had to be my birthday. I honestly didn't think I cared so much. This year I didn't want to make fuss over the day- I knew that what really makes me happy is cooking, quality time with my family, good food and conversation.
But within half an hour of reaching home my family had turned my day around: a movie secretly made for me, beautiful cards and poems, thoughtful gifts, and so much effort put into getting everything ready for the evening.
And this cake, a cake that I saw and that made me instantaneously decide 'That's what I want for my birthday cake!', and that I subsequently stared at for days, was so perfect. The mixture was freakishly easy, and it turned out so warm, gooey, oozy and scrumptious with ice cream.
Defining family is practically impossible. But after my birthday I've got a new piece of advice that will stay with me forever, and that I believe applies to my friends and other people around me too: family are the people who, unconditionally and undeservedly, can take you from a lonely, exhausted place and make you feel as though you're on top of the world.
Turning 16 was scary, and some days I find myself utterly daunted by the world ahead of me and around me. But knowing that I have these unbelievable people by my side each day makes everything a whole lot better.