Monday, January 12, 2009

Stop -- Do Something New and Crock Pot Chocolate Cake

A few days ago, a woman called to register for the Beginning Life Story Writing class. She said she is not a writer but is excited about trying it. She went on to say that a few years ago she resolved to try something new every year. Even though we were on the phone and she couldn't see me, I found myself nodding and saying, "Yes, yes, how nice."

She enthusiastically began listing things she had done. "Last year, I had a knee replacement."

Hm. Not what I was expecting to hear.

"And the year before that I took an art class at the Art Institute. Oh, those young people were so nice, and I learned a lot. Now I think I'll try writing. My name is Mary -- so you can remember me when I come."

The week before my conversation with Mary, another woman called. She asked, "What do you do in the class? How much time does it take? What do you cover? How many people are in the class? Do I have to have that workbook?" Then she concluded by saying, "Maybe I'll come and just sit in the first meeting and see if I like it."

I laughed and suggested she call the registration office (City of Mission is sponsoring the class) and see what their policy is on allowing unpaid attendance.

Believe me -- I lunderstand her urge to avoid the unexpected. I love a rut. Give me routine. Give me the expected. Then I am happy. And I'm not a follower of Oprah's message about every experience having a wonderfully enlightening "lesson" for us. But the two conversations definitely gave me something to think about. What if we looked at every event, no matter how good or bad, even a knee replacement, as trying something new?

Highway closed? It's an opportunity to try a new route. Doctor retires? Try a new doctor. The ice cream shop is out of mocha fudge? Try peppermint. Okay, those are the easy ones. What if your events are more serious? Like Mary's knee replacement? What if your whole comfortable way of life suddenly changes? I guess a person could try to apply Mary's philosophy. Hey, I'll try something new. Recently I read a newspaper article about a woman I had met several years ago, at a time when she seemed to have a perfect life: big, beautiful house, successful husband, nice children, a little part-time graphic arts business. Then one day the perfect husband of twenty years abruptly chose to leave the family. I heard from friends that she was devastated, but what did she do? She tried something new and today she has several successful books and websites. I admire her. I admire the Marys of the world. Would I have their courage and the strength? I don't know. But I do know I'll remember Mary's plan: I'll try something new this year.

You know -- it doesn't have to be something huge. It could be just this week's recipe.

Crock Pot Chocolate Fudge Cake from Alissa who received it from a co-worker. Note serving instructions -- you have to love a cake that is served by "spooning" it into a bowl.

1 pkg. plain devil's food cake mix
1 pkg. milk chocolate or chocolate instant pudding
16 oz. container sour cream
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 16 oz. pkg semisweet chocolate chips
vegetable oil cooking spray

Put first six ingredients in large mixing bowl. Add the water. Beat with electric mixer on low until blended - 30 seconds. Scrape down side of bowl. Increase speed and mix until well blended - 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spray bottom of Crock Pot with cooking spray (or use a plastic liner). Pour in batter and cook the cake until it begins to pull away from the side of the cooker (31/2 hours on high or 6 1/2 hours on low). May take less time. Spoon the warm cake into bowls and serve with ice cream. Serves 12 happy people. Enjoy!
Scroll down to see the title of this month's favorite book and for links to other blogs you might like.

You are at the Angel In Your Inkwell blog.
For specific tips, resources, and information for writers, go to my website:

The website is updated the first of every month.
The blog is updated the first of every week.