Monday, August 16, 2010

Home sweet home

For the first time in 10 months, I see light at the end of the tunnel – and not a freight train slamming toward us – as Colin and I prepare to move into our new home. (

I shall spare you the tedious, exhausting details of trying to find the right place that included one apartment in Woodland Hills so close to the 101 we could almost touch it from the bedroom window, or being pipped at the post to the perfect place in Topanga.

At first I thought it was my fault we lost the Topanga place by admitting to the landlord we were both freelance writers. Until I learned it had gone to a drummer and a belly dancer.

We found an even better home, at the beach, where we belong. Well almost at the beach – Marina del Rey, one street away from where we were before. Thanks to Colin working his fingers to the bone writing about cars, we are back in the black, as it were, and finally able to afford our own place again.

As I said to Colin this week, if we can make it through these last 10 months of no fixed abode, our marriage can survive anything. I thanked him for his creative endeavors that are putting a new roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and promised to get a proper job if one of my creative projects doesn’t come to fruition soon. “Any idea when that might be?” he asked.

The trouble with relationships is that the one who earns the most money tends to have the upper hand. But I think the balance of power just tipped back in my favor with this chocolate cake. Colin’s digestive system doesn’t do well with gluten, so I took Marley’s birthday cake recipe and used rice flour instead of wheat. I didn’t have any buttermilk, so used what I had in the fridge – two percent – and it was absolutely delicious, though I say it myself.

Life is about to get even crazier than usual: we’re moving this week, Mum and Dad arrive for three weeks at the end of the month, Julia has a CD coming out and Marley starts kindergarten. Now where did I pack my Bach Flower Rescue Remedy?

Chocolate Cake

Trader Joe’s claims on the front of its cocoa powder that this is the greatest and easiest chocolate cake recipe. I think Joe may be right.


3 & 1/3 cups flour

1 & 1/3 cup cocoa

3 cups sugar

1 tbs baking powder

1 tsp salt

12 ozs softened butter or margarine

3 cups buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

5 eggs


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Grease and flour or line with parchment paper 2 x 9’’ round baking pans or line cup cake cups with paper liners.
  3. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.
  4. Pour into prepared pans or cupcake cups
  5. Bake cakes for about 55 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean or bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes. Make sure you halve the mixture evenly or it will overflow the pans.
  6. Sandwich cakes together with your favorite butter cream frosting. Here’s mine:

Vanilla Cream Frosting


3 cups confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar in the UK)

1 cup softened butter (salted)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tbs cream or milk


  1. Whisk together sugar and butter on a low speed till well blended then increase to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and cream/milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute, adding more cream/milk if needed for spreading consistency.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The spirit is willing, the Fleshie's weak

Julia, along with 3,339 other foreigners, became a U.S. citizen during a swearing-in ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center as I and thousands of other family and friends waved our flags and cheered. Not only did she pledge allegiance to the American flag, but she promised to take up arms if required. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Is it against the law to impersonate an American citizen? My intentions were entirely honorable, your honor. I pretended to be Julia to save her the trouble of being on hold to Virgin Atlantic for seven hours, trying to get our parents upgraded using her air miles.

To confirm that I was indeed one Julia Fordham, the charming and most helpful Virgin representative asked for my date of birth, to which I answered in all honesty: March 10. Which was a shame, because that’s not Julia’s birthday. The Virgin rep said: “That’s not what it says here.” I managed to convince him that I had temporarily forgotten my own birthday and that it is, in fact, August 10.

Then as I confirmed my parents’ names and mine/hers, he wondered – beside himself with glee – if I might be the actual Julia Fordham of singer-songwriter fame and of whom he is the biggest fan with all of her/my records, which he proceeded to list, and wondered if I might sing a few lines from “Girlfriend”?

I thanked him for his kindness, even though there still weren’t any Upper Class upgrade seats available for Mum and Dad’s flight to L.A. and couldn’t get off the phone quick enough. I had broken into a cold sweat and was babbling so much incoherent crap and felt so sick with nerves having almost blown my cover that I wanted to puke blood.

Julia can call Virgin herself next time. But not today, as it’s her birthday. August 10. We’re celebrating quietly this year with afternoon tea – just we sisters, Marley and Marley’s friend, Lily. This birthday morning, Julia is going to hear the first playback of her newly mastered CD, co-written with Paul Reiser. This will be her 11th. She started recording her first album on her 25th birthday and here she is, quite a few years on, still in the music business, and still writing and singing great songs that people want to hear. I am so pleased and so very proud. Happy Birthday, Fleshie! (Our latest and possibly most favorite pet name for each other, as in “flesh and blood”).

Labels: , ,