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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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  • E-mail me at:

    sara at saraarts dot com

    Make sure the subject line of your correspondence is clear and specific. I do not open e-mails from strangers unless I can tell in advance that I want to read them.

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  • I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Good reads, grownups only

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Happy Birthday!!!!
(I don't think I can even wait for my birthday to try your recipe--do you think I could substitute butter for the shortening? I don't care for shortening, but I lurves butter).

CatGirl says that Sam is looking positively plump these days, btw. :)


Happy, happy, happiest birthday (belatedly)! My emails to you have been bouncing back so please don't think I'm ignoring yours!
Thinking of you today and keeping everything crossed.
And the healthy cake? I would eat it with you. If you let me. It might cancel out all the bad chocolate I ate yesterday. ;-)


Happy Birthday! Your cake looks yummy to me - what's not to like with that mix of spices and sweetener!

Annoying that you have to wait another day to find out what's what.


Ladies, thank you!

Jana -- You know, I don't know. The original recipe called for shortening, which to my mother meant old school Crisco, it of the congealed, saturated, and hydrogenated fat. Nasty stuff. But this is already a very dense cake, and every time I have substituted butter for shortening in a cake or quick bread recipe, the results have been heavier and drier than when I used shortening or vegetable (esp. soy) margarine. I do not know why this is; must be something about the particular molecular structure of each kind of fat. Or something.

Also, though, I was aiming this time for a truly healthful product, just for kicks. Butter, as wonderful as it is (especially compared to shortening, which ideally neither adds nor subtracts flavor, only creates texture), is not as easy on the bloodstream as the particular shortening I use, the one made by Spectrum Organics exclusively out of non-hydrogenated, organically grown, pressed palm oil.

But hey, all that said, do let me know how it comes out if you decide to try it.

Naughty. It will come out naughty. ;)

About Sam, yes! Thank you, CatGirl, for appreciating his weight gain! He is not a big kitty, and he will probably never be a fat kitty, but he has gained a third of his weight since his treatment and is now capable of making himself round, as pictured. Before he was all points and lines, even in this same pose. :)

Laurie -- Hey, c'mon over! There's plenty left! hahahahaha

I am perturbed to hear about people having difficulty with my e-mail server. I did, however, get your note yesterday, and thank you for it. Unfortunately, I am still quite behind on correspondence -- and blog reading! -- and now that I'm off decadron, I actually get tired, too, like a real surgical patient. So I keep dropping into these six-hour naps which are definitely putting a crimp on my productivity.

I still have one more conversation about the findings and future plans to have with my surgeon, but I did find out what that thing was this morning. It was not a nice little meningioma, as many expected and all of us hoped. No. It was in fact a big fat melanoma met.

But, shoot, it was on the outside, they really do think they got it all, and for the moment, there don't appear to be any more in my brain. So things don't completely suck, even though this is some scary-ass sh*t.

Like how good my vocabulary got after I had my brain tumor removed? Nothing but eloquence here, all right... ;)

And incidentally, except for the stuff grown by slave labor, particularly child slave labor, there is no such thing as bad chocolate, only bad chocolatiers. Also, it has more antioxidants than anything on the planet, so it is medically necessary for metastatic cancer patients to eat as much chocolate as possible, the darker the better.

Feel free to come to me for all your rationalization needs. ;)

Leslie -- Thanks for your good wishes, and for appreciating my cooking if only pictorially! (The cardamom was my idea. I also plan to make cardamom ice cream at some point. Mmmmm.)

The wait was tolerable. Whatever it was it was still going to have been today, and there wasn't a thing we could have done about it that minute anyway, if ever. Besides, as it turned out, going to buy an ice cream maker was way more fun than sitting in a doctor's office getting bad news.

I will write more about this after I have spoken to the surgeon, but seriously, I am still the luckiest woman alive. As melanoma mets in the brain go...

Pardon me while I don't complete that sentence.

patry francis

The cake sounds marvelous. It reminds me of the wonderful muffins you brought to my reading. So thrilled to hear that you are at home baking, celebrating, and altogether thriving.

Happy, happy birthday!


Thank you, Patry! I hope you are, too. I'll visit your blog tomorrow when I spend the day reading other people.


The Goldfish

Happy Birthday Sara!

Bad news about the melanoma met, but yeah, to have had that in there and got it out is very fortunate indeed. Unrefutable proof of the benefits of a diet rich in chocolate. ;-)

I like the way that whenever you post a recipe I have to look up at least one ingredient to find out what it is.


hee hee hee -- Which did you have to look up this time? Were my links helpful?

Yes, seriously lucky about the melanoma, which not only was growing on the outside of my chocolate-fortified brain, not deep inside, but also had no snakey bits, had a definite self-containing sort of skin of its own, and came out pretty much as my true love described it, "like a muffin out of a pan," with just a tiny bit sticking to the pan which the doctor feels confident he completely eradicated with fire (but the term he used was "coagulated" and the process is sort of like cautery, not like the torch one uses for crème brulée).

Most people with melanoma find out they have tumors in their brains and it's their death sentence, and it's a very quickly looming one. No one working on my case believes that this is going to be my story at this time.

I think I feel like someone who's just walked through a minefield without knowing it and then been told.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso

I hope you got the birthday card from Luna and Stella; I had to send it to True Love's address b/c my messages to you keep coming back. Sniff sniff.

Hope you enjoyed that cake. I sure would have.

The Goldfish

Today was rapadura sugar and yes, your links are always helpful.

I really enjoyed your true love's "Muffin from a Teflon pan" description. Quite the wordsmith, isn't he? :-)

Sugared Harpy

Happy Birthday Darling!!!

Penny Richards

Oooh, belated happy birthday--that cake looks spectacular to me. Little Debbie, bah, no comparison. They're like cakes from different planets--yours from the much nicer planet.


Happy birthday :) I didn't know our birthdays were so close together.

Mexican hot chocolate is the best stuff ever. Have you tried it with three or four pequin chilies thrown in? Excellent.

Cardamom ice cream is great, too. One of my favorite desserts is rasmalai, which is brimming with cardamom. Have you tried it?


Thank you, ladies!

Michelle (Bleeding Espresso) -- Thanks in part to you, all systems are go again! As you know, my e-mail has been switched over to GMail for its POP server, so everybody should get through just fine again. Couldn't have even known to do this without your help and patience.

Goldfish -- Yes. You can see why Harvard Extension wanted him. ;) My latest post publishes all those notes, with his permission. I really think the world needs to know how great he is.

Melissa (Sugared Harpy) -- Thank you, sweetie! I am really, really glad to be here! (And soon I will be in UR blog, makin' comments back to U. heh heh)

Penny -- Thank you! I think my planet is way better than Little Debbie's, too. Little Debbie and her dance Hostess cousin oughta be ashamed of themselves, leading the pancreases of America astray like that. ;)

We will not speak of the manufacturers of chocolate bunnies who obviously have someone in this house (cough cough) in their thrall. We will not.

Amorette -- Because of drugs I was on and my true love's sleep disorder (which disagrees with alcohol), we didn't do it this way, but my favorite way to serve Mexican hot chocolate (for two) is as follows:

First melt one circular tablet of your favorite brand into two big mugs' worth of milk. Then throw it in the blender and beat for 10 seconds, or until it's good and foamy and well mixed. Pour one shot of Kahlua into each of two big mugs, then pour the blended cocoa over that. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle cinnamon and bitter cocoa to taste over the whipped cream.

So good. So freakin' good. I'll bet cardamom would work in nicely, too.

Sadly, we have middle-aged tummies which are rebelling against any even slightly hot peppers we introduce them to. But the pequins sound delicious.

As for rasmali, I have eaten it and agree that it is awesome. I usually go for the gulabjamun, though, only partly because my middle-aged tummy has let me know that it is now also kind of done with cheese. (sigh) There's something irresistible about those little sponge balls squishing syrup all over your tongue.

(No, that is NOT intended a double entendre. No. Really.)

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