Following on from my last post here are some picture of the bad day in the kitchen and the end results.
Following on from my last post here are some picture of the bad day in the kitchen and the end results.
Today is a day when I just shouldn’t have attempted anything in the kitchen. I woke up feeling less than well and Miss E was also not quite herself. She wanted lots of cuddles and was quite clingy. That was fine by be…nothing can be better than 40 minute of cuddles in bed with peaceful silence (minus the sound of the rat who is still very much alive and terrorising us). When we finally both wanted to go downstairs for snacks, I felt it was a good time to make some cupcakes. It’s my mum’s birthday on Friday and Miss E and I are going up tomorrow to take her out for lunch and I wanted to take some birthday cupcakes.
I whipped them up quickly, popped them in the oven and 20 minutes later they were looking delicious on the cooling rack awaiting decoration this evening. I covered them with a clean tea towel as there were pesky flies around grrr. I was on such a roll I decided we could bake some bread too. I got some spelt flour yesterday as I have been dying to try a spelt loaf recipe. All was going well, I got the yeasty mix set to the side to do its yeasty frothing, I measured out the flour, and, once the yeast mix was ready, Miss E helped mix it in. We kneaded and left it to the side in a covered bowl to rise.
After dinner the dough had rise enough to be ready to shape. The recipe said to braid it, so I did! First time I’ve ever braided bread; normally it just gets put in a loaf pan. Then I set it on a cookie sheet to rise again. I had to cover the dough the second time again due to the pesky flies still being in my kitchen. And I left it to do its thing.
And this is where things go awry. While sorting Miss E out K Dog gets into the kitchen and helps herself to four of the cupcakes. She was NOT a popular dog. So after shoving her outside with a stern telling off, i go to check the dough…..due to covering it the poor loaf instead of rising up like it should just went out and splayed all over my baking tray and stuck to the cover, obviously. I baked it anyway, but I knew it would never rise up like it was supposed to, so now I have a flat hard thing that could probably do some damage if lobbed at someone. Do I dare re-enter the kitchen this evening to decorate the remaining cupcakes?!
After our eventful day yesterday, when Miss E had gone to bed, and I was waiting for Mr P to get home from work, I decided to make him something nice. We had a lot of eggs and some lemons, so I wanted a lemon dessert. I didn’t have enough butter for a lemon drizzle cake, but I found Mary Berry’s lemon cupcake recipe, and they are just divine so I had to share the recipe!
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
You will need
125 g soft butter
125 g self-raising flour
125 g caster sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
For the lemon icing:
125 g soft unsalted butter
250 g icing sugar, sifted
Juice of 1 small lemon
Edible silver balls or glitter to decorate
Deep 12-hole muffin tin and 12 paper cases
1. Line the muffin tin with the paper cases. Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until evenly combined and smooth.
2. Divide the mixture among the paper cases. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 20–25 minutes until well risen and light golden brown. Transfer the cakes in their cases to a wire rack, and leave to cool.
3. Make the icing: put the butter and half of the icing sugar into a bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until evenly combined and smooth. Add the lemon juice and the remaining icing sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy.
4. Spread the icing over the cold cup cakes, and decorate with silver balls or glitter.
In just a few short weeks my baby girl turns one (sob!), and I thought it was time to sit down and have a look at what’s changed in the space of a year. Becoming a mother has changed my life drastically. It has brought changes for the positive, and it has also been a magnifying glass for the glaring short-comings in my life. So what has changed then?
-my health: from hitting rock bottom with the threat of a spell in hospital as conventional GPs were of no use, finally through the help of a homeopath we discovered what was making me so ill. Without having my daughter, I would probably never have discovered the truth. The physical strain of the pregnancy and labour brought my body to such a state that we were pushed into searching for the answers instead of allowing ourselves to be pacified with the mediocre state of health offered to me by the National “Health” Service and their pills to mask symptoms. For improving health even though I still have rough days, I have my daughter to thank.
-creativity: I would never consider myself to be creative. It wasn’t something that was overly encouraged in my childhood. My parents would openly admit they weren’t great at drawing etc and I guess due to this it was never something they felt they had the skills with which to encourage me to be. All through school I hated arty stuff, and I never felt my work was worth anything. Since having my daughter I have somehow from somewhere found a love of creativity. I don’t believe my skills have improved any, but maybe my acceptance of them as they are has improved, and my willingness to push myself and try out new things has increased. In the last 11 months I have done more artistic stuff than I have since leaving high school(quite some time ago now). I have made a pattern for and sewn up a stocking for my daughter for Christmas, I have made her a picture with a quote on it to be framed for her bedroom for her birthday, I have also drawn and coloured her birthday invitations which were sent out to people(even a year ago the thought of someone seeing and judging my “handiwork” would have been enough to handicap me in this area), and I am also hoping to take some of Miss E’s baby clothes and turn them into a keepsake stuffed toy for her. Wow, I never could have guessed such things would be done by me before she was born!
-baking: I have rediscovered my love of baking. Before my GCSEs I used to be baking all the time. I loved to make cookies, cakes, bread etc. Then studying took over and adult life got in the way of another creative channel. Now I love the times I can be in the kitchen whipping up some form of cake batter or a frosting cupcakes. I’ve even allowed other people outside of my husband and my parents taste my baking. I also decided I would make and decorate the cake for her first birthday party……………….my first time ever dealing with fondant icing!
-confidence: As I look at the two previous points, I guess a big thing that my daughter has given me is confidence and self-belief. Ill health and years of people just assuming I was making it up because on the outside I looked normal, caused me to lose a lot of confidence in myself. Since having Miss E, I have regained some of that. I am open to pushing myself and yes, failing sometimes. I am willing to go to gatherings of strangers alone to make new friends and to give my daughter the chance to attend different events. In the past I’d rather not go, than have to face a bunch of strangers.
-sacrifice: Miss E has taught me the meaning of going without for someone else. I have sacrificed my body, my time, my possessions for her, and I am ok with that.
-love of peace and tranquility: by this I don’t mean the times when she has gone to bed in the evenings or for a nap. We used to have the tv on a lot before Miss E was born. In the evenings, we’d flop down on the couch and get sucked into that thing for hours. Communication, real communication was minimal. It always bothered me, but it took having Miss E for the big change to come. When Miss E is awake the tv is not on, plain and simple. Now, when she is asleep we rarely have it on either. I love the peace of just being. I no longer have to have something filling my brain with noise and images all my waking hours. It’s liberating. In fact, I would quite happily get rid of the tv altogether, but my husband isn’t quite so far down this road as I am and still likes the security of having the black screen sat in the corner just incase something good comes on tv that might be worth watching.
These are some big things that have changed since having my daughter, but there is still much room for improvement. Some of these areas are;
Selfishness: I have made big sacrifices, it is true, but I am still oh so selfish. Selfish with my time. I want my daughter to sleep when I want her to sleep, to play happily by herself when I want her to do that. And when she doesn’t, I often don’t take this impingement upon my plans very graciously. This is an area that with God’s grace I am still working on and learning much about.
Patience: This area is HUGE for me. Various happenings in my life have caused me to become rather impatient and snappy. I can fly off the handle easily. Since having my daughter, I have made big steps to keep my cool, and sometimes I do succeed. But more often than not, I fail miserably. I raise my voice, I get angry, I storm about, I get demanding, I want my daughter to do things to my time scale. I am more often than not displaying the type of behaviour I do not want her to see or copy. This must change, and it is an area that I bring often before the Lord in prayer. I want to, NEED to cultivate a heart of patience and gentleness. It’s not easy to kill off old habits, but it must be done as my daughter deserves a better example after which to model herself.
As I look forward to the next year of life with my daughter this is the thought I want to keep at the forefront of my mind:
“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.”
― Lisa Wingate
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, isn’t it? All those gifts sat wrapped under the tree awaiting distribution to the receiver; the eager anticipation of what gifts we will get in return. Hmmmmmm, or maybe it’s a stress trying to get all those gifts bought and trying to make the budget stretch to cover the cost. Maybe you are lost in a sea of wrapping paper and gift tags willing the whole thing to be over. Since having my daughter, I have been forced to take a step back and really evaluate my life, the things I do and why I do them. Christmas has probably seen the biggest revolution so far for us. But gift giving, this is an area where I’ve felt most challenged and an area that’s caused me to face up to the selfish person I like to pretend doesn’t cohabit this body. I’ve always given gifts, but the thing is, I have always given gifts to those who are going to be giving to me in return. Selfish or what?! Or there’s that other gift giving sin I am guilty of, buying a gift in a price range that I think the other person will also pick mine from. What is the point?! We both may as well just keep our money in our bank accounts and spend it on ourselves. I am not writing this to say gift giving is bad, far from it!! But, as we set our hearts and minds towards advent, and we started thinking about what we really wanted to teach our daughter from this blessed time of year, we built in something we have never done before………….giving a gift to someone who isn’t going to give us one in return. Gasp!!! It’s never happened before, but it’s going to be one of our advent traditions. It’s not a big thing we’re giving. In fact, we’ve started of pretty small; the gift is homemade cookies, but the point is not the gift itself, it is in the selfless giving. We are giving these treats to our neighbours, who we barely know. I have made the cookies with no expectations in return, just for the sheer joy of giving something freely and out of love. Where does this stem from? Well, from both of us looking back at our childhood and seeing how selfish we were. Christmas is about Jesus’ birthday and yet, we thought the day was all about us and those heaps of presents coming our way. But we want to teach our daughter, that, yes, it is GREAT to receive, but it is BETTER to give, and in giving to those who are not obliged in any way to return the favour we are sharing a little bit of Jesus with them and also giving a gift to Him as well. It’s his birthday, afterall, and after coming to earth and giving us the ultimate gift salvation and life eternal asking nothing in return, a plateful of cookies to strangers sharing the same street really is the least we can do. What about you? Do you give to people just for the sake of giving and not expecting in return? Is this something your family has been doing for a while, maybe? Let me know, and share your inspiration for great gifts to touch hearts at Christmas and throughout the year. I can’t wait to distribute my gifts this evening when people get home; my gift in return will be the smile on their face. That alone is gift enough.
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