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Disappearing Act

Hi! Remember me? I pulled a disappearing act over the weekend because I decided to take my own advice. I haven’t been feeling all that well – temperature a little high (but just under emergency room high) and a dry cough. In order to keep it from getting any worse I did nothing but rest all weekend. That included not blogging, not answering e-mails or comments, and completely zoning out to multiple movies on Netflix.

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Highlights included taking Buster for his walks in the 25C heat. It’s like summer up in here!

I also made a giant dessert.

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My dad kind of freaked out that I made such a giant dessert while I was supposed to be resting. In my defence, I needed to get off my butt for a while, and what better way to do that than with the lure of chocolate? The layers go as such: brownies, chocolate peanut butter cup pieces, chocolate pudding, whipped peanut butter cream cheese, whipped cream. My oh my, let me tell you, this dessert is off the charts. I know all the layers seem time consuming, but I used a boxed brownie mix (I’m sick remember!) and whipped up the rest in the 35 minutes that the brownies baked. The taste is ridiculous. So many good things happening in there.

It’s also the dessert for today’s Thanksgiving dinner. I loooove big dinners as it’s an excuse to make dishes that don’t always fit into the everyday lineup. Today however I’ll be taking it easy again. I see my doctor on Wednesday but I’m debating on going in on this holiday day. I definitely need to have a chest x-ray to see if my cough is a symptom of lung toxicity, which is basically when the chemotherapy poisons your lungs. I may pull another disappearing act until I know I’m better. If cancer is teaching me anything, it’s that my health always comes first. Obligations are never as important or demanding as being alive and well. Take care friends!

Lemon Cake for Three

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, has always said that people will come and go in your life in times when you need them most.

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If you really think about who your friends were during certain stages of your life, it’s true. For whatever reason, the universe sends them your way for a period of time, and even if you’re not the best of friends forever and ever, you still appreciate them being there for at least a little while.

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Then there’s friends who were always there, but life suddenly makes them even more important. Things like having babies or going through break-ups really allow these people to step up to the plate for you. You appreciate the universe more than ever for sending them your way.

Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve had a lot of friends like that. Real life friends who are by my side when I need some girly hang outs. The kind of friends who are more like family and know me well beyond my diagnosis. Then there’s online friends. Yes, online friends! The ones who I can e-mail or text about anything at any time of day and I know they’ve got my back somewhere on this big continent of ours.

There’s also new “cancer friends” I am making through the magic of the internet. Those who have been or are going through the trenches with me. Who send an e-mail saying “yeah, the side effects from that drug are awful,” and they just get it.

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And then there is a friend like Kayla, who I’ve been connected to for years now, and suddenly find myself connecting with now on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. We no longer live in the same city, but she was the first one I told about my cancer diagnosis.

You see, I knew she’d understand.

When Kayla went through cancer and chemotherapy three years ago, I was horrified. For so many reasons. She had been trying for a baby, but instead ended up on chemo. I wrote about her experience, which you can read here.

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It’s clear to me now why Kayla is still in my life. The universe knew I’d need to keep her around.

So what does this have to do with cake?

Well, when she came to visit me over the weekend, I had to make her something! Kayla is a Newfoundlander with an, ahem, “picky” sense of taste. But she is a girl who knows what she likes, and lemon cake with white frosting is what she has every year for her birthday. Lucky for me, her birthday is next week, so I got to bake her a cake!

The base of the cake is this Martha Stewart recipe. When it comes to things like cakes, I know I can never go wrong with Martha.

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I made a few slight changes. I didn’t include a layer of frosting in the middle because I was too lazy to cut my cake in half. Next time though, I would include it!! My palate is a little off from chemo and I’m quite sensitive to sour and citrus flavours. I found the syrup that I soaked the cake in was a little strong, but everyone else who tried it said it’s what brought out a natural lemon flavour to the cake. The cake itself is dense like a pound cake, but soft and sticky because of the syrup soaked throughout.

Really though, the icing is the most important part here.

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I made boiled icing!

I mentioned boiled icing in a previous post and was surprised by how many people commented they’d never heard of it. I’m sure there are variations of it you’ve probably tried, but perhaps my idea of traditional boiled icing is a regional thing?

I used this recipe from Zesty Cook because he’s a Maritimer, and if it is indeed a Maritime tradition then he’d know how to do it best.

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Boiled icing is just made by reducing water, sugar, and corn syrup on the stove and mixing it with beaten egg whites. It results in a sweet, sticky, and incredibly fluffy icing that tastes just like marshmallow fluff. The Martha Stewart recipe recommended adding lemon juice to the icing, but I thought it made the whole thing too tart. Instead I stuck to the classic sweet version, and it offset the sourness in the cake wonderfully.

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As for Kayla and I, we had a great visit on Saturday, including an outing for lunch. There is no doubt she is a cancer superhero after her ordeal, but even more amazing is that she produced one healthy, super-smart baby boy shortly after treatment. And get this – is now pregnant with twins!

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The universe certainly works in mysterious ways, and I’m happy Kayla now has an excuse to eat cake for three.

Cookie Lovers Anonymous

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I made a bit of a mistake yesterday.

You see, since I can’t do vigorous exercise right now, I’ve been trying to get out walking for an hour every day. Thing is, walking can be kind of boring. Hence the need to give my long ambles some form of purpose. Errands. Things like buying gum. Or diet coke. Or in yesterday’s case, chocolate and tea.

Then I found this place:

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Mary MacLeods Shortbread. A store dedicated to my third favourite cookie in the world. A love passed on from my great-great-Nana Susan MacLeod from the Isle of Skye. Shortbread is often ignored for it’s fancier, chewier cookie cousins. But when done right, a good shortbread is anything but bland. It’s a drop of silky heaven.

I wanted just one. A plain shortbread. Few things are greater than a buttery shortbread that is soft on first bite, then crumbles with each following nibble. Really, it’s just my obsession with butter.

I left with seven.

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I blame it on the minimum $10 debt purchase. But I think I may be an easy sell. Put me in a sweet smelling cookie shop and all sense of reason flies out the window. Stores that smell like that should be illegal. Or at least take ID at the door.

I ended up with coffee crunch shortbread…

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Dutch chocolate crunch shortbread…

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Their “signature” chocolate crunch shortbread…

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Hazelnut crunch shortbread…

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Rolled coconut shortbread…

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And the traditional shortbread…

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Where’s the seventh cookie you ask? There was also a whole wheat almond one. But it, erm, didn’t make it to the photoshoot.

I’m in trouble dear friends. Please help me with these cookies. I don’t have the time to work them off with 12 hours of non vigorous walking exercise. There should be a support group or this kind of thing.

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