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Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia
Buddy Valastro's story was so incredible. An italian spin of the rags to riches tale. =) And there are some nice memories of my mom and I cracking up over the show - the craziness that ensues, and how we are left absolutely spellbound at the end of the show with the incredible masterpieces of cakes.


I would love to learn how to make lobster tails after reading of the elaborate process.

Sfogliatelle: many layers.

It is the hardest Italian dough to make and is one ofthe signature offerings of the family business.

Making sfogliatelle is like going for your PhD in pastry. You may have other degrees, but this will take it to a whole new level...baking is like any other craft; you either have it or you don't.

The decorating room on the second floor of Carlos's Bake Shop, my family's business in Hoboken, NJ, is like heaven on earth to me.

Our customers entrust their dreams to us, and we have the power to make or break memories. That might not be the same as being a surgeon or a fireman, but you feel the weight of expectations every time somebody new walks through that door.

my only regret is that sometimes things move so quickly that we don't have time to stop and take them in.

Please! she cried to the heavens. Please, St. Anthony, give me my son back. If you bring him back, I will make a novena for you. ( St Anthony: the saint to whom we pray for help recovering lost things; according to a Paduan legend, the mother of a drowned child once promised St Anthony the boy's weight in grain to be given to the poor if he would bring her child back to life. It happened!

June 13th: St Anthony's day: he bakes 200 pounds of dough to make 1,000 loaves and delivers to St Francis Church, where priest blesses them and distributes them to people in need.

We believe that our ancestors are looking over us from heaven, and if you're a good person, goodness will come back to you. We believe in all of those things surely as we believe the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.

No matter how tired Dad was, it was very important to him that we all have dinner together every night. Dinnertime: sacred, the cornerstone of our daily lives. I think its because he came from an incomplete family himself that it was so important to celebrate ours, and to make sure we were a tight unit.

All roads lead from family and all roads lead to family.

My favorite thing to watch was the reaction of the customers when they came to pick up their cakes...those cakes were the stuff of memories, it thrilled me to watch my father delight so many people and i decided right then and there that i wanted to be able to do with cakes what he did with cakes, that i wanted to have the power to cause that reaction for people, to be the guy they turned to for their holidays and celebrations.

Baking was the thing that gave my life meaning, that kept me out of trouble and gave me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of self. I knew that it was a force for good in my life. No exaggeration: it was my salvation.

a young prince can ascent to the throne, but he doesn't truly have the respect of the knights he commands until he's shown his mettle in battle.

I don't know why i'd forgotten it for so long, but that was the day i remembered, finally, that whatever I put my mind to, i can accomplish.

I can't stand failing at anything, and I wanted to turn the situation around, to master this new Everest in my path. Why? the same reason most people climb Everest. Because it's there.

Man's Search for Meaning
I just had to re-read this when I saw it on the library shelves. I've been really into memoirs lately. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's easier for me, in this moment and during this period in my life, to find substance and personal meaning in biographies and stories of individuals who have actually roamed the territories of this planet.

This inspired me so much. I even wonder sometimes about doing more with counseling or therapy. I would like to try my best to be a good special educator, but perhaps in my 'next life' maybe years from now, I will consider something like being a therapist or psychologist.


Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

Don't aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run — in the long run, I say — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. (Nietzsche)

One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.

This part, mainly for me:

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind.... nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of Man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when Man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position Man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.

Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning.

Logotherapy: the driving force in human beings is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life.

The primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life.

Life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most difficult.

Our main motivation for living is to find meaning in life.

We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least: in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

Spirit: not religious: rather, the will of the human being.

Nihilism: a philosophy suggesting? Negation of one or more meaningful aspects of life.
How to discover this meaning:
1.       Creating a work, doing a deed.
2.       Experiencing something, encountering someone
3.       Attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering

** everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstance.
We can never be free from every condition, such as biological, sociological, and psychological determinants.

Man is capable of resisting and braving even the worst conditions.

~ We can detatch from situations, choose our attitudes, determine and shape our own character.
We are responsible for ourselves.
Anxiety: the result of dealing with a sense of unfulfilled responsibility, and a lack of meaning?
~ anticipatory anxiety: a fear of a given outcome which makes that outcome more likely.
~ to relieve this: paradoxical intention: try to do the opposite of the hyper-intended goal.
~ an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor.
~ Third Viennese school of psychotherapy.
~ Find meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones.

Don't Kill the Birthday Girl

Tales from an Allergic Life.

It was so inspiring to read about Sandra's story. I can't believe how much I take for granted. Sure, it's one thing to be vegan because it's what you wish to follow, but what if you physically were not able to have any iota of dairy, egg, etc? I can't even imagine.

I also liked reading Sandra's memoir as she was also a graduate of UVA. Now I miss it and want to visit - it's been ages since I've been, and Charlottesville is so incredibly beautiful especially during the autumn season.


Children allergic to milk, egg, or soy are more likely to outgrow these allergies. ( um..yay for lattes and..cake? )

Less likely: shellfish, peanut, tree nut.

Boys are more likely to outgrow their allergies than girls.

This excerpt is just for myself to understand better: from health.howstuffworks.com.

Food allergies have to do with a mistake your immune system makes regarding certain proteins. When you eat something with one of the proteins that your body has deemed dangerous, it releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E; the IgE then triggers mast cells, which call upon a team of chemicals. The chemicals -- particularly histamine -- are what cause allergic symptoms. Some children outgrow their allergies by the time they're three or four; some children take longer to outgrow them; other children never outgrow food allergies. The allergies that kids most commonly get over are allergies to eggs and dairy. The allergies most likely to stick around are those to peanuts and shellfish.

The most popular: and in this order:  milk / soy / egg / wheat / peanut / tree nut / shellfish / fish

I didn't realize that lactose-intolerance is so blatantly different from a milk / dairy allergy, and same with celiac disease and how it is so different from a wheat allergy.

Those with a dairy allergy can't hve 'non-dairy' creamer as it has casein and whey. Then again, vegans can't either, I suppose it depends on how 'strict' a vegan one is.


What I do still wonder or wish to know more of, is why are peanut allergies increasing? Gone are those days of carefree pb and j sandwiches, I guess.

More than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with food allergies. Almost 4 % of children!!

Parents who hve never met a food they couldn't eat, struggle to empathize with their child's allergies.

Allergies are 'quirky beasts.' Unlike many syndromes, they are primarily sorted according to their outside catalysts. THey are widespread and widely misdiagnosed.

one person's comfort food is another person's enemy. One person's lifesaver is another's poison.

A food becomes an allergen when the body decides to treat it as an enemy. The immune system creates a specific antibody designed to reconigze each allergen.Usually: immunoglobulin E: mainly skin, nose, throat, lungs, GI tract: IgE causes mast cells to release histamine.

anaphylaxis: so many vital functions shut down, body goes into shock.

Less common: banana, zucchini, potato, peas, avocado.

My heart went out to the author when she describes not being able to have much at one point in the college dining hall except white rice and chick peas.

My allergies took one of dorm life's great culinary gifts - breakfast for dinner - and rendered it punitive.


Is it inclusiveness that makes rituals valuable? Or is maintaining the rituals integrity that matters, even if that leaves someone out:

Quotable quotes from O magazine
I adore Oprah. I think she is so incredible and such inspiration to us all!

It was a gift to myself to subscribe to her magazine. I can truly say that reading her magazines are actually substantial reading. I mean I actually feel there are articles, excerpts, and information of substance.


You are not put on this planet to make everyone happy. You're here to be your best you.

Don't let anyone take away your joy.

What do you know for sure?

- Time spent reading is always time well spent.

- Every person on this planet is important and deserves to be treated that way.

- Everything changes.

- It's not so much what you stand for. It's what you're willing to get back up for.

- Destiny and free will go hand in hand. Fate requires your participation to help you reach your full potential.

- My mother was rightt!

- Every day is another shot to get things right.

- Be generous: and not just with money. Sharing your heart and wisdom costs nothing.

Elie Wiesel: When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. a person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.

EW: I do not hate the Germans. I don't believe in collective guilt. The children of killers are not killers, but children. And they deserve my affection, my efforts to make them human, to give them a world that is worthy of them.

Sidney Poitier: I was expected to be dead within 2, 3 days...but the fortuneteller told my mom: don't worry about your son. He will not be a sickly child. He will walk with kings.

The stars we are given. The constellations, we make. ( Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise. )

There are only moments. Live in this one. The happiness of these days. ( Kate Millett, SITA )

Great beauty, great strength, and great riches are really and truly of no great use. A RIGHT HEART EXCEEDS ALL.
Ben Franklin.

some favourite parts of the Ramayana ( a children's version )
But still valuable! I am finding that the re-reading of children's books is helpful for orienting my mind towards a more scholarly approach, interestingly enough.

! Versions of the Ramayana exist in all of these countries, I had no idea: Cambodia, Indonesia, Filipino, Thai, Lao, Burma, Malaysia.
Rama and Sita considered to be: incarnations of God.
Rama: Vishnu; Sita: Lakshmi.

Vishnu: 9 incarnations; the 10th is yet to come.

~ Hanuman gives Sita Rama’s ring.

**How do they build the bridge to Lanka? Why do they need to do this: because of Hanuman’s tail set on fire by Ravana? This is something I am / was not clear on, and perhaps need to re-read a longer version to understand better.

~ Lakshman is wounded. Hanuman: flies to Himalayas to retrieve a magic herb, takes the whole mountain.

~ Sita proves her fidelity by walking through fire: the flames turn into flowers. Apparently there are many different versions of this.

~ Hanuman: when he was a child, he thought the sun was a froot and tried to catch it. He nearly got burnt. The Sun was impressed and gave Hanuman the gift of immortality as a reward for his courage and cleverness.

~ Jambavan: king of the bears.

~ We light the lamps to remember this story: To guide Rama and Sita back from their exhile.

Swayamvara (Sanskrit: स्वयंवर)

~ Sita is taken away at the end to become one with mother Earth: why?? That quite saddens me.

Siva said to Parvathi: The invocation of Rama’s name is equal to the recital of the thousand names of Vishnu.

Those who listened to the saga would be purified in mind and would achieve inner calm and beatitude.

Ganga river: transparent as the mind of the righteous man.
7 Divisions:
Bala Kanda
Ayodhya Kanda
Aranya Kanda
Kishkindha Kanda
SUndara Kanda
Yuddha Kanda
Uttara Kanda
~ Dasaratha: devoted to virtue and possessing self-control, he had the qualities of a royal sage.
~ Kausalya, Kaikeyi, Sumitra.
Rama shone with a rare radiance. An embodiment of virtues and amiable qualities, he was esteemed by all. Rama: became a byword for auspiciousness (abhirama)

~ The Golden Deer.

The Strangeness of Beauty
So many great excerpts from this book. I'll try to just keep it to the ones that affected me the most.


Shi-shosetsu = the i'story.

Silent and satisfied, filled with mysteries and blessings, she was as luminous as a Renaissance painting.

Perhaps wanting what's essential and simple is the most extravagant wish of all.

Oyame-san o mini yukimasho!

There's a myth about immigrants: that we come on the wings of our dreams.

Chores that are esoteric. Take sweeping the garden path with a light bamboo broom: the point isn't just to clear off debris. Designed to develop dedication and spiritual depth, the real task is in repeating the activity, morning and dusk, over and over, for decades - until she learns to leave light, flowing impressions on the soft surface earth. Until she understands that creating these lines is a kind of ephemeral calligraphy, and expression of the balance between self expression and self control. And that - despite the transience of these tasks: each little broom stroke deserves as much concentration and can provide as much beauty as the construction of a poem.

Hanafubuki = flower blizzard. Sakura = pink snow

A change in external scenery can't alter one's internal nature.

myo - art of creatingg strange beauty.

Wabi Sabi



Kinoji = self control.

What kind of language teacher thinks volume substitutes for vocabulary?

My problem is I can get lost in diffusion, and that I do it deliberately. Hiding among ambiguities, wading through complexities, lost in an admiring fog.

In Japan there is a kata for every behaviour: way of thinking, reading, writing, eating. There are sub-kata for every discreet category.

Kata requires a lifetime of training, the goals of which are an appreciation of the universe in each waking moment, a dedication to beauty and goodness in any endeavor, and a relinquishing of personal vanity so the pupil becomes one with his trainig...the painter becomes the tool of his paintbrush, the potter feels the soul of his clay.

Introduction to Jung and Analytical Psychology
I am just writing some vocabulary definitions down and including them here for my further knowledge and research. I find Jung to be particulary fascinating and there is so much to his studies and ideas! I am excited to read his autobiography, 'memories, dreams, reflections' well IF I can find it.

Alchemy: the older form of chemistry, which combined experimental chemistry with general, symbolic, intuitive and quasi-religious speculations about nature and man.

The alchemist was said to pursue the secret and method of turning material into Gold. The alchemist was also seeking the Secret of God.

Analytic psychology? the study and applications of Jung's idea with psyche and processes via transference experience, analysand and analyst.



archetype: universal patterns or motifs which come from the collective unconsciousness and are the basic content of religions, mythologies, legends, faerie-tales, emerge in us via dreams, visions, fantasies.

Complex: an emotionally charged group of ideas or images, at the center is an archetype or image.

Constellate: whenever there is a strong emotional and/or psychic reaction to a person, situation, or psychosocial environment, a complex has been constellated.

Dream: The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness...dreams are neither deliberate nor arbitrary fabrications, they are natural phenomena which are nothing other than what they pretend to be. They do not deceive, lie, distort,or disguise. They naively announce what they are and what they mean.

Neurosis: the inability to accept necessary suffering. Always a substitute for legitimate suffering.


Persona: one's social role, derives from the expectations of society and early training.

Puer aeternus, Puella

Shadow: unconscious part of the personality, characterized by traits and attitudes which the conscious ego tends to reject or ignore.

Importance of synchronicity.

Soul: If the human soul is anything, it must be of unimaginable cmplexity and diversity, so that it cannot possibly be approached through a mere psychology of instinct.

I can only gaze with wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature.

Beside this picture...I would like to place the spectacle of the starry heavens at night, for the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without and just as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.

A Street Cat Named Bob and how he saved my life. =)
  There's an old adage I read somewhere. It says each of us is given second chances every day of our lives. They are there for the taking. It just that we don't usually take them...

A Magpie: a person who is idly talking / chattering away? A person who collects things that are not of so much importance?

Show me the child of seven and I will show you the man.

Bob's distant relatives originated from hot climates and didn't sweat. Licking themselves: their way of releasing saliva, cooling themselves down. It is also their version of the invisibility cloak.

Cat saliva contains a natural deodorant which is why they lick themselves a lot. It's been proven by zoologists that cats that lick the smell off themselves survive longer and have more successful offspring.

Cats effectively self-medicate. Licking: cuts down the number of parasites, it stops infection in any open wounds, cats saliva: an antiseptic agent.

( People were knitting and making scarves  /sweaters for Bob from all around the world )

It struck me one day that Bob was becoming a fashion model. He was regularly modelling some new creation a kindly soul had made for him. It gave a new meaning to the word 'catwalk.'

He seemed to make friends with almost everyone he met. It was a gift I wished I had myself. 

The Cat Who Came in from the Cold
By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

What a lovely fable. =)


Cat wonders: How could (dogs) give up something as priceless as independence for something as mundane as security?

The monsoons and Diwali, the biggest human festival of the year, always came together.

Cat to dog: aren't you their slave?

Dog: says who? I think its the other way around. They feed me and play with me and take me for walks. All I have to do is be happy and wag my tail.

Billi the cat loved languages. Ever since he was a kitten...he had learned Malayalam by prowling around the villages at night, and could speak and understand all the languages of the other animals in the forest. Sanskrit was an especially difficult language, Billi knew, but he felt hooked by its hypnotic cadence...

billi - the word for cat? in Hindi: came from the Sanskrit word vidalah.

Cats are never hypocritical. That's one of the reasons we prefer to remain independent. We would rather walk alone than pretend to be something we are not or to believe something we do not.

He especially liked the 3 major religions of India ( Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism ) and their shared belief in harming no living being, animal, or human: the doctrine of ahimsa.

(Sorry this part is biased as I'm vegetarian / trying to be vegan. but I mean in NO way to ever enforce this upon others. It's just that this did of course resonate with me)

If nobody ate meat, no animals would be killed. Every time someone passed up meat, lives were saved, period. To pretend otherwise was simply a way for humans to assuage their guilt.

Emperor Ashoka, who after converting to Buddhism in 261 BC: erected stone pillars all over India. Proclaimed his good intentions toward animals.

Why did humans bother creating such beautiful and idealistic religious principles if they didn't follow them? What was the purpose of their splendid temples and statues...

Ashrayaparavrttti: revolution of the basis of one's existence

How did the scholar know that blinking was a cat's way of signaling attention?

Katiyuga: age of the cat

(no subject)
A Few more books from a list I made a long time ago.

I think I could honestly re-read Winesburg, Ohio it is one of my absolute favourite short story collections.

13.   Cat’s Cradle
14.   Slaughterhouse 5
15.   Passage to India
16.   O Henry
17.   Winesburg, Ohio
22.  Journey to the East
23.  The Glass Bead Game
24.  Steppenwolf
25.   Kafka’s Metamorphosis
26.   Hound of Baskervilles

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