Saturday, February 21, 2015

Miss Evie Turns 1!

Hard to believe it has been a year already but yes, the little girl whose black & white birth shots were shared on this very blog has turned the big ONE!

Her mum had asked me if I could make a leopard print cake and so I Googled and YouTubed it and it seemed easy enough that I thought a test run wouldn't be necessary....well....I've learnt a valuable lesson there.

This is the original pic I was given.

This is how my cake turned out....

I know what you're thinking...its a Pinterest "totally nailed it" moment. Its okay to laugh.... :-/

Anyway the cake still turned out pretty tasty thanks to my tried and true Golden Butter Cake recipe which is from The Australian Womens Weekly Celebration Cakes Cookbook.  In the back section of this cook book there is a selection of classic cake recipes eg chocolate mud, golden butter, fruit cake, and accompanying these recipes is a table giving you the required ingredients and cooking time for each cake tin size.

For a 30 cm round cake;

625 grams of butter
1Tbs vanilla essence
3 3/4 cups of caster sugar (although I only used 2 1/3 cups as I knew my icing was going to be sweet and didn't want the cake too sweet as well.
10 eggs
7 1/2 cups of self raising flour
2 1/2 cups of milk

1.Grease and line the base and sides of your chosen size of cake pan.
2.Beat butter, essence and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the sifted flour and milk. Spread the mixture into prepared pan.*

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 1 3/4 hours.  When my cake had risen until it was at an even height still across the top, approx 15 mins, I decreased my temperature to 160 degrees celsius.

*At this point I separated the batter amongst 3 bowls, 2 to be dyed.  I was a bit iffy on the quantities needed for each part except knowing that I needed the most 'yellow' as in uncoloured batter.  The way the cake turned out I think I put too much aside for the coloured stripes of the leopard pattern.

The link to the tutorial I used can be found here.

I knew straight away I didn't have enough yellow batter and so was going to be short on stripes, as I had nothing to cover them with. I could have made another batch of batter but time was ticking on and I just needed to get the cake done so I made the decision to add the rest of the coloured batter on top carefully to make a couple of coloured layers. I didn't know how it would look until we cut into it at the party but everyone said it looked pretty so...that's a win I guess.

At the party I was also asked to share the Marshmallow fondant recipe again. The original recipe that I use can be found here.

Mum & Miss 1 were happy with the cake. Calling it a WIN ;-)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Releasing Myself From the Chains of the Past....

Well I've done it.

I've faced my fear of criticism and rejection and posted my first chapter on Wattpad.

If you are at all interested in checking it out, you can find it here:

I started writing at age 8. Getting minimal interest or feedback from my parents I would take my creations, that often had pictures as well as words, to school where my teacher would read them to the class.

When I started writing in earnest I was about 14 years and I paid $2000 for what was then a top of the line Brother word processor.  

I have written in the back ground all these years believing sharing my work was just a pipe dream, but with technological advancements, have no reason not to share the stories and characters of your heart and mind. 

Not everyone has to like or love what you write. Its about sharing a story.

The time it has taken me to be ready to take this step has added a level of maturity to my work, my story, that I would never have been able to convey at 15.

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."
Proverbs 19:21

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Healing Part 3

Very early on after my father passed away, I knew I wouldn't be able to speak at all about him. 

The last coherent words he spoke to me, when I knew that he knew who I was on some level, was a couple of days before he passed. As I was leaving the room he called out "Alison." And I turned and looked. He was pointing at me. "Write a poem."

Mum said she felt he was trying to tell us what to do for his funeral.  

I couldn't write a poem. So I wrote his eulogy instead.  My husband had to stand with me as I delivered the eulogy and I'm sure a lot of what I did try to say was lost in my tears.

But I was very conscious that I didn't want his memory forgotten because of my selfish grief. So, struggling through tears & the pain in my heart, I instructed the older kids to speak about their Gramps often to, then, little miss 3.  I asked them not to do it when I was around, but in private, in conversations I wanted them to continue to share their memories of Gramps amongst themselves and with their little sister.

I am no different or no special to anyone else. We all will reach that stage in life when we will lose a parent. We all do; its just a matter of when. And grief is different for everyone.  

It has been hard. It is sudden. Even looking through the pictures for these last two posts; one day I have pictures of my father, the next image is a coffin. That's it. There are no new memories to make with him.

It has grown easier over time. It has. I'm not there yet, but I can feel the difference 6 years makes. I can talk about him. But its still painful to talk about the good times, because it reminds me so much of what I've lost.

Some people may think I've robbed my children of great memories of a loving grandfather by not openly sharing about him.  And those people could be right. But my children listened when I asked them what to do. They heard my pain and knew that what I was asking them to do was important.  

And as a result Miss 5, who was born just 4 months after her Gramps passed away, is able to talk about him as if she knew him. She recognises him in pictures and videos, she even has her own picture of him in her room. 

She knows that he was her Gramps. 

And he knew that she was going to be a beautiful little girl named after his own mother.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mixed Aged School Aged...

I've had a dilemma all through my childrens school lives.

I was always felt out of sync with other families, other mothers.

When my eldest was starting school I was so much younger than the other mums, without a partner, and working and getting a degree. A lot of the mums, being mid 20 or older were seeing their last little babies start school.

When my two boys were starting school, the other kids in their class were the eldest in their families, where as my boys were the middle children. Lyssa at this stage was at school with kids who were the babies of their families; her friends did not understand having younger siblings to deal with.  The other children in the boys classes were the top dogs in their own household. 

When my next eldest girl started school it was similar again. Her classmates were either the babies of their family or the eldest. Moo Moo was neither; she was poor forgotten middle child lol. Not really but yeah, she had the bigger brothers and the younger sisters. There was only one other friend in her class like her.

And now I have sent Miss 5 off to Year one she is exactly the same. Not the eldest. Not the baby.

Why does this matter? Well its more about me than the kids. If the kids in grade 1 are the eldest or only child in their family, most likely they will be welcoming a baby soon or have a baby at home. If the child in grade 1 is the youngest, mum is usually moving off to full-time work or study if she hasn't already.   

Not that I'm against work or study but I did all of those things in my teens and early 20's. 

I have nothing in common with other mums. I still have another one at home, but hubby and I have called time on the baby making. I'm a good ten years younger than the other mums who have put an end to their child rearing years. It makes it hard to connect with the mums that my children go to school with.

Parents of teens who are the baby of the family don't understand the drama of juggling youth group drop off and pick up around toddlers bedtimes on a Friday night.  Parents with children whose eldest has just started school don't understand this either. Throw in a hubby who works away and its like trying to coordinate a 3 ringed circus!

And this is going to come as a shock to the mum who still has all her babies at home or has sent her first to Kinder with others soon to follow. It gets harder.  

Yes you read that right. The further they get through school, the more of your time they take. Not less. Especially if there's more than one. If you are guiding one child through late primary school or high school and working, you'll start to see the time juggling act.  You think the stay at home mum has it easier? Think again. Yes you have time during the day to do a few things, meet for a coffee maybe, dabble in craft although mostly we seem to just wash, vacuum, and put away that washing, not to mention dishes etc. But when your child gets home from school, they dont have 100% of your attention as they need. There are younger children who all need reading listened to, spelling help, assignments to look up on Google, all the while make sure someone inappropriate does not contact them. All this while trying to cook another gourmet, or at least acceptable meal.  Add to that trying to determine if that iPad is lodged so firmly to your sons face because he's actually doing homework or he's trying to hide the fact he's playing a video game or watching a YouTube video.....

Throw in a Uni aged child. My goodness. That girl has had me in tears. I've had to push her and push her to chase her (supposedly) own dreams....

I've got four, yes FOUR that I currently have to monitor voraciously from finish of school until 1am nearly every morning. And I haven't even mention hormones...... Do you feel scared? :-D

It doesn't get better. It gets more intense. And it gets different. And THEN it gets better.

 I'll see you on the other side when I'm bouncing my first Grandie on my lap ;-)