A Confession of Mortality and Dreams

After rereading many of my posts, it struck me how frequently I speak of death. This surprised me quite a bit because, if anyone, I’m someone who is obsessed with living life. With more goals and ambitions than I can count, it was shocking to see how at the same time, I appear to be death obsessed.

But that is wholly untrue. My obsession lies within the idea of embracing morality and making life worthwhile. St. Jerome was believed to keep a human skull on his desk to remind himself of mortality. So did H.L. Mencken and many philosophers. The concept is anything but new, but at the same time, I feel like it has never reached as many people as it should.

It sickens me to see people who, for the most part, go through the motions of life, never accomplishing the little things they dream of. And then it’s too late. They see that they’ve messed up, and always wonder what things could have been like.

Now I’m not advocating you quit your job and go out to become a hermit. That is far from what I am saying. Responsibilities are a part of morality. But, rather, add in what makes you happy and keeps you motivated!

With these ideas in mind, I set out on creating my own “bucket list” (it also seems like I have an obsession of taking on tasks…haha). It was around 3:00AM on Sunday when I started. I think your mind is most fresh when you are on the verge of a sleep deficiency. You are more vulnerable and honest.

My list came to be about 40 items long. Some were random and others were cliché. But all of them had meaning to me. Finally having all of this written down, it feels even more feasible.

I am tempted to share some of my own items, but at the same time, I don’t want to influence anyone’s list. You should put on it what you truly want to accomplish, not what think you should accomplish.

Go get writing! Keep it where you can see it, that way it’ll always be fresh in your mind and you’ll work towards it.

-C

P.S.: The pictures are just random from around my home of things that make me happy. Like you should make your list do. Go do it. That is all. =)

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RMS Titanic 100 Years Later

Today marks the 100th anniversary since the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England. Most of us are familiar with the story of the ill-fated ocean liner. For generations the idea of a massive ship sinking in a matter of hours has fascinated us; especially since the discovery of the wreck in 1985. Unfortunately, the 1517 (the number is always debated) deaths are often looked at as more of a statistic than anything, and little is known about many of these people.

Three years ago, out of an unwavering pity for these people, I undertook the task of documenting every passenger on the Titanic and writing a short biography about them. After compiling hundreds of manila folders full of information, I realized that I had taken on an almost impossible task.

Although it remains unfinished, I did learn more than I had ever imagined about these people. I thought I would share with you one of my favourite Titanic stories. Quite honestly, I’m not sure if it is well known or not, but I’ll put them here anyway…

Master Robert Douglas Spedden

Douglas was a seven year old American boy when he boarded the RMS Titanic in Cherbourg, France as a first class passenger. He is best known for the picture of him on the deck spinning a top (from Father Francis Browne’s collection).

Before leaving from America, his aunt had given him a white polar Steiff bear from FAO Schwartz. Douglas named the bear “Polar”. The bear traveled with him on his European vacation and boarded the Titanic with him.

Fortunately, Douglas and his entire entourage (mother, father, and nanny) were all saved in lifeboat no. 3. Polar was also saved. When Douglas woke up in the lifeboat, he is noted as saying “Look at the beautiful North Pole, with no Santa Clause on it!”

As a Christmas gift in 1913, Douglas’s mother presented him with a book that she had written. Entitled Polar the Titanic Bear, the story is narrated by Polar and tells the story of the Titanic from his perspective.

On August 5, 1915, Douglas was killed (at age 10) after his chased a football out into the street (thus becoming Maine’s first road causality).  In 1994, Polar the Titanic Bear was published and has since sold more than 250,000 copies.

-C

Sources:

http://openlibrary.org/works/OL3541088W/Polar_the_Titanic_Bear

http://viking305.hubpages.com/hub/Douglas-Spedden-child-survived-sinking-Titanic-April-1912-first-class-passengers-iceberg-100-years-ago-Frederic-Daisy

3 Ways to Die by Chocolate

Ok, let me make this clear: unless you put arsenic into any of these recipes, you shouldn’t actually die. No promises though, because these are 3 recipes from the lovely Martha Stewart Food magazine that will leave you wondering if you’re having an out of body experience. I might be blowing my own horn a bit much, but really. These recipes, try them.

Double Chocolate Pudding
Double Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus shavings

Directions

  1. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
  2. Whisking constantly, heat over medium until the first large bubble sputters, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate; stir until smooth.
  3. Place plastic wrap on surface of pudding (to prevent a skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days). To serve, whisk until smooth; divide among serving cups, and garnish with shavings.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 4 ounces melted and 4 ounces coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in vanilla. Combine espresso powder and melted chocolate; beat into butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.
  3. Drop dough by two heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are dry, 14 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 pound large strawberries (about 20), washed and dried well
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (optional)

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. One at a time, dip each strawberry in chocolate, twirling to coat; then sprinkle chocolate-covered portion with pistachios, if using, and place on waxed paper.
  3. Chill chocolate-dipped strawberries at least 15 minutes to set chocolate. (Strawberries should not be stored in refrigerator longer than 1 hour as condensation drops may collect on the chocolate.)
Chocolate Strawberries
And yes, that will be all.
-A
Recipes from:
Pictures from: