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Happy Birthday B&B!


Though things have been extremely hectic on my end lately, I wanted to make sure that B&B’s first birthday didn’t go by unnoticed.  Over the last year, B&B has been a place for me to share my thoughts, stories, recipes  — and most recently, my sorrows.  Thank you so much lovely readers for being there with me on this journey, and for supporting B&B with your comments and emails!

Funnily enough, a couple of days before B&B’s birthday, I received a text message from my friend Dina saying “I am making baklava tomorrow, want to come over and babble?”.  I could not help but laugh to myself, but also thought – what better way to celebrate B&B’s birthday! So..off to Dina’s I went, and babble and baklava we did.  In honour of this very special occasion, I have a tried and tested baklava recipe for you.  Make sure to make it in the company of good friends so that you too can babble & baklava! Special thanks to Dina over at thispassinglife and to Step by Step Baking (Caroline Bretherton) from whom the recipe was adapted.

Ingredients:

Unsalted pistachios (ground) – as much as you would like
Walnuts (ground) – as much as you would like
1 cup sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 package of phyllo pastry
18 tbsp of unsalted butter
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of honey
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix together the pistachios, walnuts, cinnamon and 1/4 cup of the sugar
3. Melt the butter – brush the baking sheet with butter and lay down 1/3 of the phyllo sheets. To do this, alternate between 1 sheet of phyllo, and 1 layer of brushed butter until you have completed 1/3 of the sheets.
4. Scatter 1/2 of the nut mixture over top of the phyllo.
5. Lay down another third of the phyllo sheets as before and cover with the remaining half of the nut mixture.
6. Lay down the final third of the phyllo sheets as before.
7. Cut diagonals into the baklava, making your cuts half deep.
8. Bake on the low shelf for 1 1/4 hours – 1 1/2 hours
9.  Now prepare the honey:  Heat the remaining sugar with 1 cup of water, stirring occasionally. Pour in the honey and stir to mix. Allow the mixture to boil for 25 minutes (take care that it does not boil over). Test the heat of the mixture using a sugar thermometer (you want it to reach 239 F)
10. Remove the heat and let it reach a lukewarm temperature.
11. When the baklava is finished, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the entire pan.
12. Cut through the marked lines almost to the bottom to allow the syrup to seep through.

Enjoy!

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Birthday thoughts


Yesterday I turned 29.

More than other years, it seems that there is so much to reflect on since this is the last year of my 20s.

I’m the type of person who reacts to birthday milestones a little prematurely. Turning 24 was a big year for me because I was almost 25 but turning 25 wasn’t such a big event because I had already internalized it the year before. Now, since 29 is proving to be a big year for me, I anticipate that next year will not be too much of a shock.

Though I’m not a huge birthday person, I do feel the need to mark each passing year of my life in some way. This year, I entered my 30th year in a big hug with my husband. As we hugged and the clock turned to midnight, I thanked God for all he has brought me in my life in general, but especially in the past year and the past decade. As I begin a new chapter, I am conscious of all the wonderful things that I am blessed with.

In this past decade I started and finished 3 university degrees; I started and ended a relationship, which was probably one of the biggest journeys into self-discovery that I have ever experienced; I met and married my husband and wonderful life partner, which has been an incredibly intense and rewarding experience; and I held a number of jobs which all contributed both to my personal and professional development and through which I have met some of the people who are today my best friends (you know who you are!). I’ve also been blessed to have traveled and seen so much of the world while also meeting new people and experiencing different perspectives on life. Among the many travel highlights were the time I swam in the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, meeting my sponsored child and going on safari in South Africa, as well as our 1 month honeymoon in a beautiful and remote Italian mountain-top village. Oh, there have been so many memories. I’ve also taken up new hobbies, one of which is writing this blog (thank you for joining me on that one).

Thinking back on all of these experiences makes me realise that what I take from them are not only the memories, but how they have helped me to discover so much about myself and the world around me. This decade has taught me above all to become comfortable with and excited about who I am and where I want to go. I have learned to face my fears and bounce back from pain and heartache. I have learned the importance of having fun while also being wise and intentional.

This morning, J told me that 29 was a wonderful age because I have the knowledge of who I am while still being young and being able to do all of the things that young people do. I think he’s right and I intend on enjoying and taking in every minute of this year (the good and the bad).

20s, you’ve given me a lot and I’ve really enjoyed you; I’m going to miss you when we part ways next year but I’m almost starting to be ready to meet 30s. Here’s to our last year together – I know it will be special.

Today is August 15th…


…and I am celebrating the birthday of a very special lady – my mom! Happy birthday Mama!