Happy Birthday to me! Let there be cake!
Friends, as of today I am “in my forties” as opposed to just being forty. There is no real difference I guess bar this one; I am more certain today than I was yesterday that adding another year to your age is cause for great celebration not lament. This fact will make no sense to you if you are say, under thirty-five, but I do hope you will remember this small gem because one day I hope for you to find this truth too.
I spent so much time not being me. I wanted to be funnier, more courageous, more daring, more accomplished, more something. I focused on what I perceived as lack rather than real worth. Growing older has changed that for me. Growing older has taught me to be the true version of myself. I have received no greater gift.
I have always been the quieter, more serious girl in the group. Youth labels this as self-centered, withdrawn, elitist. Age has shown me that rather it is gentle; it is kind, it is a strength. Living each day from a place of strength rather than insecurity literally paints life in full colour. Now, so much more than it ever did in my twenties and early thirties, life truly looks beautiful.
I see beauty even in things now that eight years ago tormented me. Like in this 41-year-old body of mine.
Now I know that this slightly lumpy and rather misshapen body I inhabit is wonderful. It can walk, it can climb mountains, it can run (if pushed), it can ride the Argus, it can play mediocre tennis and it can swim in the ocean. It will probably not wear a bikini again in public, but this body is healthy and strong. It grew two perfectly beautiful babies from scratch. It survived many varied and weird surgeries, a terrifying emergency c-section and that fall down a mountain.
These legs walked me down the aisle to my waiting prince and skipped me along the streets of Paris. They ran up and down our street fifty times teaching Handsome to ride his bike, and they can jump up and down on the side of the athletics/hockey/gymnastics fields to embarrass Pretty Girl. They are fully prepared to walk me anywhere my heart wishes to go. They are for me and this life.
These hands have cooked a thousand beautiful meals that have loved people from the inside. They have hugged small children and held close my dearest friends. They have peeled off the sticky backs of hundreds of not really needed plasters. They have held open the pages of books into which I have lost myself and lived many, many different lives. They have trembled with fear, they have shuddered with anger, they have quivered with excitement. They write notes, they pick up toys, they fold laundry, they get the occasional manicure. They are the part of me that creates the ideas that grow in my head. They are for me and this life.
This heart of mine has endured. It has cried tears that have run down my cheeks trying to fall to my chest to fill the cracks from where it has been broken. It has swelled with pride and joy when it simply looks at my children. It has grown mature learning that love is unconditional and unwavering. It has softened learning forgiveness. It has grown giddy with laughter and it has been taken by surprise by the power of hope and dreams. It is for me and this life.
So, really, birthdays are just wonderful. Have one yourself. Have it with cake, because any cake, especially this one, is also wonderful.
This carrot cake recipe is no secret – if you live within fifty kilometers of me, I have probably thrown either the cake or the recipe at you at some point. But, today it is making its debut on the blog, just in case I may have missed you in all that slinging of cake.
Speaking of cake, I am now off to have some with just a few of the women who make my life richer and lovelier. Precious lady friends, you are a gift and I love you all.
- 4 eggs
- 500 ml (2 C) brown sugar
- 125 ml (1/2 C) sunflower oil
- 1 x 432 g can Pineapple Crush, drained, syrup reserved
- 500 ml (2 C) cake flour
- 10 ml (2 t) baking powder
- 7.5 ml (1½ t) bicarbonate of soda
- 5 ml (1 t) salt
- 15 ml (1 T) ground cinnamon
- 500 ml (2 C) grated carrot
- 125 ml (½ C) pecan nuts, chopped
- 65 ml (¼ C) butter
- 1 x 175 g tub plain cream cheese
- 500 ml (2 C) icing sugar, sifted
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the oil and 250 ml (1 C) reserved pineapple syrup.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon together and gently fold into the liquid mixture. Stir in the pineapple crush, carrot and pecan nuts.
- Pour the batter into lined cake pan and bake in the oven preheated to 180 ºC for 30 – 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool.
- To make the icing, cream the butter, add the cream cheese and beat for one minute. Add the icing sugar, mix until well blended and ice the cake as desired.