Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gold Wrapping Paper

I know you all are busy finishing up Christmas plans and shopping. In the midst of all of this hecticness, may you remember what Christmas is really about.

The societies in which we live function in a way which often make us forget a little bit the true meaning of this season. It's about giving, not necessarily receiving, it's about loving, forgiving, sacrificing and not necessarily breaking the wallet for the most physically enjoyable things, food and comfort included.

If you have somewhere to go for Christmas dinner (whether it's your home or not), think of all the men, and women and children, both young and older, living under bridges, in mud huts, or literally on the streets. 

If you've got somebody to spend Christmas with, consider yourself blessed. Think of all those who are lonely, in nursing and retirement homes, in military bases, in prisons and detention centers, in mental health hospitals; think of those who have no family despite their wealth and material comfort, those who have been rejected or abandoned, or those who have been forgotten.

If thoughts of those delicious meals especially prepared for you (or in expectance of you) bring happy thoughts to your mind, if Christmas shopping, gift wrapping and Christmas tree decorating was fun, think of those battling various diseases in hospital beds, some of whom cannot eat or enjoy food, cannot walk, and will probably be left reminiscing memories of more joyous Christmases. 

If you have a computer and you can read this post, think of the many children for whom what we will spend/have spent on our decorations, or meals, or gifts on this season, could cover meals or a shelter for many many months. 

Finally if the Christmas season brings happy memories and thoughts, a smile of your face and much to look forward to, remember those for whom Christmas is a torture. Maybe they have lost a spouse, a child or a mother or father at this time of the year? Maybe they have lost their home? Maybe they have been raped around Christmas time? Maybe they have had an abortion, or cheated on their partner or have taken somebody's life and are just being eaten out by guilt? Maybe they have a bed but cannot sleep? Maybe they have simply lost their job, their ability to provide for their family and their dignity by the same token and life has been a nightmare since then?
Say a brief prayer for all your fellow human beings, suffering or not, family or not, friend or enemy.

Before I wish you merry Christmas, let me share this inspiring little Christmas story with you (and 2 of my favorite Christmas carols). Read on...

"Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.
As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.
Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"
As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.
But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside the package!"
The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."
The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.
An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold."

Count your blessings and thank the Man upstairs. And for you all who believe in the sacrifice of the Holy Son of God, let us all remember His humble origins, born in a barn, held in a manger, in a faraway, foreign land, Him who was/is the only Son of the Creator of the universe, son of King and King Himself. No gold, no silver. Only stars, sheep and shepherds to witness the birth of the One who would change creation.

May your Christmas be filled with joy, laughter, and a true, deep feeling of peace and happiness.

Merry Christmas! 

"Carol of the Bells" - an upbeat version

My all time favorite (even though I don't like this version), 
deep touching touching words; reminds me of my 
semester performing this song with the 
Malone University Women's Concert
Choir many years ago
"Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming"

The inspiring story was taken from

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is your phone rape free?

My eyes are red and swollen from crying and my heart is bleeding out. Somewhere in the world, since 1996, more people have been killed than during the Jewish Holocaust and there is a woman or a child being raped every minute. This tragedy has largely, blatantly and purposefully been ignored and attempts to unveil it have been hushed. However grass root movements are slowly springing out all over the West to denounce the privileged public financial and logistic support that perpetrators of these horrendous crimes have been getting from our dear Uncle Sam (and other Western nations) in the name of natural resources.

 Please watch this very sad and shocking short video...

It's funny how they had to have a western, white, upper middle-class family as the victims in this video, because otherwise, people would not care to watch or to get educated about this conflict that touches all of us: the use of rape as a weapon of war. If you have a mother, sister, a daughter, then you should care...

Watch this next video if you want to get the full picture (it's in English with french subtitles)
Warning: Even more sad than the previous one, but very very educational.

For the update: last week the current dictator originally installed and sponsored by the West (mainly the US) has just cheated his way to the presidential seat when for once the people of Congo had the opportunity to take their future into their own hands. The diaspora was not allowed to vote, people, including children were coerced into obtaining several differing voter cards per person and polling station agents were forced (as in beaten, threatened and kidnapped) into stuffing the boxes with hundred of thousands of already filled ballots.

You cannot watch this, and not want to do anything. You cannot watch this and keep silent. And if your mouth has a hard time voicing this (I know how awkward it can be sometimes), your fingers can speak, talk and even shout.

You can do several easy things:
1) You can share either videos on your Facebook page or your blog (see the end of the post for the urls of the videos) or you can share this post on your blog. What the conflict needs is to be exposed by regular citizens like you and me. So if you have a bigger following than I do, please mention and link my post on your blog in a way that draws attention. The more people know about it, the more we are likely to raise voices that will try to speak for our voiceless brothers and sisters
2) You can sign the petition at
3)You can make a quick virtual trip at Friends of the Congo at and read a little bit about this issue. Friends of the Congo is a US-based grass root movement composed of regular people who devote some of their time to raising awareness about this conflict. 
4) If you are on Facebook, send a friend request to "Kambale Musavuli". He a young Congolese who grew up in the US and abandoned his academic career to focus on speaking out on this conflict. He has very interesting links, videos, Facebook statutes about Africa and particularly Congo and neo-colonialism/neo-imperialism.
5) Above all you can pray for the Congo. These issues are real. Pray for peace, pray for healing from psychological, physical and emotional trauma. Pray for freedom from greed. Pray for hearts to be touched and souls to be renewed. But please do not pray only, as your Father in Heaven uses real human beings to bless and touch lives. Action #5 needs to paired with another one.

Your most powerful action would be:
share these videos AND to read up little bit on the issue just so you have a basic understanding of the situation and how it affects you and the rest of the world, and how it affects Africa. You have all the resources at your fingertips to help in your own little way, which will actually go a long way.
On my end, I have decided to blog once a week on that particular issue in addition to all of the above options.
Would you give me feedback on which of number 1 to 5 you can do (will do, have done)?

In this world of evil and suffering, stay blessed and covered by His wings in the name of Jesus.

PS *** First video: Is your phone rape free?
            Second video: Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth!***

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Little Girl's Pink Birthday Cake

As I promised, here are a few pictures of the cake I made yesterday for my little niece, Anyi, who was turning 2.

It's a Red Velvet Lemon Curd Vanilla Cheesecake. See my Inspiration Wedding Cake #1 for details and pictures of the layers.

For the brief description: It was decorated with light pink fondant for the main color, medium and small fuchsia, yellow and purple fondant circles, and light pink purple bow, a figure "2" for the new milestone and other fondant details mimicking a wrapped gift as well as fondant flowers.

I baked, torted and iced the cake (it was actually 2 cakes that were assembled together) and also made the decorations the day before the birthday let them dry overnight, and put it all together yesterday morning.

The little rolled pieces of paper were for support of the little structures and helped keep the round 3-dimensional shapes. I took the pictures around noon and the birthday was later in the evening so I took the pieces of paper out before we headed out.

Actually here is a video of it before the pictures.

Inspiration Wedding Cake #1

I thought to myself since I have been inspired this weekend to blog a little bit, why not just keep going while it lasts?

So, I have decided that you might be craving for a little piece of heaven. After thinking that particular thought, another closely related thought crossed my mind? Who better could offer you, at this very present moment, that little bit of ohhh so smooth and moist velvety sweetness? Then, something lit up in my usually-sharp-but-lately-very-jelloed brain. ME!!!!! Of course, me!!!

Look at this pic? Can you find the object of our interest?

Good job!!! You got it!!

Let's not play easy here, let me present a few facts before I let you salivate.

Fact #1   I love baking

Fact #2   I love decorating the cakes I bake

Fact #3   No, but seriously though, I have high hopes of being able to open my own cake business (from home) hopefully very soon, once I feel my decorating skills are worthy enough to be making money off of it and once I have a solid base of friends and friends of friends who have seen or tasted my cakes.
I have always wanted to work for me, clock me in clock me out, pay me, review me, promote me... lol you get the picture. But I have just recently realized that in addition to this, I do NOT like being employed, as in waiting for a paycheck, calculating my hours, and having my personal life revolved around somebody else's business or company... And that's not good because that can potentially make me a not-so-good employee and turn me into a clock-watcher which I absolutely despise.

Fact #4 Uhm... I went off track with Fact #3. Anyhow. I have made an engagement cake before but it was a surprise gift so the cake was not requested or expected therefore even though I wanted to do a good job, there wasn't the pressure of doing what was asked and even more. I have made 2 birthday cakes. I am now waiting for the right occasion, or somebody to request a baby shower and/or a wedding cake. Uhmm... the wedding cake will be a challenge, more because of the word "wedding" itself than anything else.

Fact #5 While waiting for the opportunity to present itself, I thought I should inspire myself with designs that I could use on a wedding cake. My intention is to make a series of inspiration wedding cakes that I could just present into a portfolio format at some point.

Red velvet and cheesecakes are my favorite cakes so unless nobody request something different, that's what I make.
It turns out that my sister-in-law, the mother of my little niece for whom I was making the Little Girl's Pink Birthday Cake shares my taste so thats what I made.
*Cheesecake factory anyone? Have you tried their red velvet cheesecake cake?*

I made this mini-cake which is a replica (in taste) of the above-mentioned birthday cake, just so I can have an exact taste of what people will taste, eating that birthday cake (sorry for the redundancy). Basically it's my "control cake" and will let me know how it all tastes the next day, the 2nd or 3rd day, how moist it stays and how well the flavors remain and blend a few days later.

So this is a Red Velvet Vanilla Lemon Curd Cheesecake Cake.

With no further additions let me introduce to you Inspiration Wedding Cake #1

It has 3 layers of red velvet cake, one layer of vanilla cheesecake and one layer of lemon curd.

This was an absolute piece of heaven and I was really, I mean really pleasantly surprised. It was moist, almost spongy and almost melted on my tongue. The lemon and the cheesecake flavors complimented each other really well and it was richly sweet without being too sweet, or tasting too "fatty" or "buttery".

Hope you liked it (at least the sight of it!!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Still around... Mutuashi

Hey all!!!

I just wanted to stop by and say hi. I have been a little quiet and probably will be for a while as I am focusing on a few important things in my personal life. Please pray for me...
I hope you are doing okay. The Almighty is watching over all of you guys as we head towards the end of this year. I pray that you all remain safe and the remainder of the month be filled with all sorts of blessings and good news, in your life and that of your family and friends. Say Amen with me!

I have baked a couple of cakes since I last posted. One that I just got finished making actually, for my little niece's birthday.

My other passion is music. I am very eclectic as it comes to that and love alot of different musical genres. In the past few years I have been re-drawn to African music more than anything. I am completely disconnected from  all the trendy new musical releases other than what plays on the radio which I randomly happy to listen to. Anyhow, it's almost been like a rebirth to me, music-wise and even in the way that I dress (a lot more ankara styles and the likes) and decorate: everything ethnic and African.

On this note, let me introduce some of my culture to you. Here are two of my favorite songs (and videos) by one of my favorite Congolese singer. For those who do not know, this is Tshala Muana, the queen of Mutuashi (a particular congolese dance that involves mostly moving the hips). She was very famous in the past decades as she turned foreign officials heads in concerts all over western, central and eastern/southern Africa with her winding hips. As she has gotten older, she has kind of "calmed down" a little bit. She sings mostly in Tshiluba (one of the main languages in Congo, which I do not speak or understand lol), and some french and lingala (the main lingua franca for communication).

The title of this song is "Sikila"

Now let me show you some more traditional versions of the same dance... truly  and absolutely African, beautiful!

For the story Mutuashi is mastered mainly by men (in the traditional way of dancing it), and I cannot describe how these men move their hips, you just have to see it.

** The main dancer is a female but the rest of the crew dancing in the back are men, I couldn't find a video with just men dancing that was worth putting up**

And the last video, it's a little long and the real dancing starts at minute 5:40, so you can start watching at that time if you want.
** Click here if nothing shows up, it's been giving me a little bit of a hard time **

For the little story, most traditional dances in Congo involve the hips. Maybe I'll share something more urban and trendy in another post!

Have a blessed week-end!!