Crafting & unhealthy comparison

 

Cotton Yarn

 

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve read quite a number of news stories and Facebook posts about how Pinterest and ‘Mommy blogs’ are making life hard for mothers. Most with an underlying theme that those of us who DIY and make are all A-type overachievers with nothing more to do than to compete at motherhood.

This one, was posted yesterday on the Facebook page of a Mommy blogger and clearly states in its title that Modern Moms are looking for perfection in all the wrong places.

I feel compelled to comment. Particularly as of late, I’ve had a number of people not so subtly hint that I’m creating problems for other mothers.

Yes I bake elaborate cakes, host themed parties, host dinner parties, create invites, paper art, sew, crochet, embroider, knit, letterpress, re-purpose, eat mostly organic and entirely gluten-free. Then I post the things I make, create and host on this blog. I share my creations and give most of them away for free. I’m starting a small business selling a few of them.

And I’m a Mum!

I do what I do because I love it. I relax and enjoy creating. I love the space I go to in my mind when I’m making. I enjoy the process of creating as much as the finished product. For me, putting together a party is as much fun as the actual event! I find inspiration and genuine pleasure when I see what others have made and so share what I do to feed into that inspirational pool.

I don’t do these things to make others feel bad.

I don’t feel like I’m entering a competition.

I did ALL of these things before I had Munchkin and now I do many of them for her.

Lately I’m starting to feel pressure to apologise continually for my creations. But I don’t need to apologise, nor do I want to.

I’m far from perfect. My house is often a mess. I never make it through my to-do lists. I often don’t get the exercise I need. My projects sometimes belong on Pinterest Fails or Cake Wrecks. My daughter watches more television than I’d like. Munchkin sometimes eats one pot, heat and serve meals when I’m seriously short on time. My friends know that it’s just as likely that they’ll arrive at my house for coffee to find it clean and tidy and be served freshly baked cake as it is that I’ll put out a box of chocolates and ask that they ignore the clutter. I often feel like I’m struggling to find a balance between being Mother/ Wife/ Self that is akin to finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. And a multitude of other stresses, private issues, disappointments and frustrations.

I don’t post these things on Facebook or my blog. There is no point. It’s not constructive, nor, I believe, healthy to do so. I wouldn’t walk down the street telling strangers my problems so why would I post it publicly?

Why can’t we all realise that very few of us post/ share the bad things, and recognise that we all have private, sometimes chaotic lives?

I don’t care how you choose to live your life. If you chose to buy a birthday cake from the grocery store or make one. If you chose to feed your children organic, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, or entirely from the frozen food aisle. Unless what you’re doing is exceedingly dangerous I would never consider commenting on it.

Munchkin won’t care if she’s at her own birthday party with home-made cake or at a friends eating store-bought ice-cream cake. She’ll adore both parties. And I’ll adore that your little one invited Munchkin, that you went to the effort to generously host a party, that she had a ball, ate ice-cream and played with her friends. I don’t think that any party, dinner party or other project is any less worthy because the host decided to buy a cake and hates crafting. And there is no reason anyone should feel pressure to do anything they don’t want to.

I’m a firm believer that everyone should prioritise the things that matter to them and let others make their own priorities. We all chose to do things differently. It’s what makes us wonderfully interesting human beings.

So please, mother or not, if reading my blog, looking at Pinterest or another Mum is making you feel badly or like a failure, stop reading it, delete your account, ignore them and live your life as you see fit. Because I fully intend to happily live mine as I choose. And I choose to bake my daughter’s birthday cakes, host themed parties, sew, knit, crochet and anything else creative I can think of and can find time to do.

Not because I’m expected to, but because I want to and thoroughly enjoy the process.

If you don’t enjoy it. It’s simple. Don’t do it!

When we all stop turning our mere existence into a competition and comparing ourselves to everyone else, we’ll all be so much happier!

Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
I hope you’re having a splendid weekend? Mine has been gorgeous and full of festivities. It started Friday with DM’s and my wedding anniversary. DM has been at a conference in Dublin all week and only arrived home on Friday, so we didn’t do much on the actual day, we were both too tired. But we belatedly celebrated today when we went for a gorgeous brunch at one of our favourite hotels and then watched a Wes Andersen film whilst Munchkin napped.
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
The festivities continued yesterday afternoon when we attended Munchkin’s friends first birthday party. His mother and I had arranged a skills swap, she decorated the amazing cookies for Munchkin’s birthday and in return, I decorated her little boys first birthday cake.

I made the decorations out of modelling chocolate and placed them on a buttercream frosting base. Both the cake and the buttercream were made by Nikki. I was unable to sample it as it contained gluten, but both DM and Munchkin thought it delicious! Munchkin loved it so much she polished off an entire piece and, only with extreme reluctance, shared with one of their cute but very eager dogs.
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
Nikki had purchased a really cute suite of decorations called Animal Parade from Meri Meri, and made up really sweet cookies with the giraffe and zebra patterns. I took the designs of the animals and incorporated them into the cake.

I very rarely decorate cakes (though it appears I’ll be getting more and more practice in future! ;)) and so I’m pretty rusty. I’m really happy with how the animals turned out but not quite so happy with the top of the carousel, I made the panels smaller than the bunting surrounding it to allow the frosting to show through. But in hindsight I should have made larger panels and covered the top completely. I wanted to remake it but I ran out of time (and energy).
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
Finally, we’ve a little celebration for my birthday tomorrow. I’ve been banished from the studio and I’m blogging in the lounge whilst trying very hard not to listen to DM and Munchkin make me a birthday surprise. It sounds perfectly splendid. It seems to involve quite a lot of chatting from Munchkin, laughter from DM and a fair bit of bashing. I’m trying very hard not to guess at what it is! I kind of want to join in the fun, but it would mean spoiling the surprise.

After the long weekend of festivities, I’m preparing for a severe case of Tuesday-itis and so am planning on sewing up yet another cute birthday present for another of Munchkin’s friends celebrating her first birthday next week. November is a popular month!
 

Advent Calendar Inspiration

I had intended to put my bee themed invitations and thank you cards up for this weeks blog post, and to have a baking post for you! But this week has been chaotic!

DM has been away at a conference in Dublin so I’ve been looking after Munchkin full-time. This isn’t a problem, but it does mean I don’t sleep as well, so I’m not as on the ball as usual.

I’ve also been busy making cute little modelling chocolate cake decorations for a first birthday party in my spare time. They’re for a cake to match these sweet party decorations from Meri Meri.  I’ve also been trying to make a Christmas/ Birthday present for another little lady who is about to turn one too!

And this morning the lady who gives me a couple of hours help once a week cancelled, meaning I have to clean my house instead of blogging and baking. Again, just a first world problem and not a big one at that! But it does mean I’m going to have to take a rain check and post this weeks post next week.

I’ve also been thinking about advent calendars for this year. These are my previous ones, they’re both now available on my store.
 

Robot Advent 2012
Advent Calendar 2012 craft gawker

 
I’d like to make something for Munchkin that is a bit easier to get into. And that doesn’t take endless hours to put together as my daughter appears to have a love of packaging (just like her mother!) but they often don’t survive said loving. It also needs to be big enough to hold something other than lollies as I really don’t want to give her sugar every day.
I’ve been wracking my brain and as yet haven’t come up with anything fabulous. I really like these ideas (click on images to go to photo websites).
 

julkalender-11
Zenzi Adventswolke
CALENDRIER-NOEL-ZU1
Modern-Advent-Calendar 4
PicMonkey-Collage4

 
What do you think? What kind of Advent calendar are you making this year? I’d love to see them! Post a link in the comments and show me?
 

Bee Geometric Gift Box

 

Bee/ Geometric Goodie/ Gift Box

 
For Munchkin’s first birthday party I made up a suite of items that all fit with the Bee theme we’d set. I wanted them to be modern and sweet, without covering everything with flowers or running with a black and yellow bee theme.

On the day, I incorporated loads of fresh flowers and lots of little modelling chocolate bees into the decorations. But for the invitations, thank you cards and goodie/ gift boxes, we went with something a little more modern.

This was as we had lots of our friends around, not just Munchkin’s playmates. Starting next year, we’ll have much smaller parties with her friends and it’ll all be based around what she decides she loves at that time. So I’m expecting to have to create Totoro, Curious George or Winnie the Pooh themed parties!

The gift boxes were a hit. We filled them with sweets and chocolates. They also perfectly matched the cookies we gave away.
 

Bee/ Geometric Goodie/ Gift Box

 
The templates for matching invitations, thank you cards and their respective envelopes will be on the blog next week.

They’re cut out of A4 card stock (as per usual, the thickest you can get through your printer!). I used 200 gsm. And they make up a box 8cm (tall) x 9cm (wide) x 6cm (high)

I cut the goodie boxes out with my Graphtec cutter, but a little research has shown me that the Silhouette system now has all the same functionality. So if you have a Silhouette you can make these exactly as I have. If you want to change them, you can. Load up the file in Illustrator and modify it to your hearts content.
 

Bee/ Geometric Goodie/ Gift Box

 
For those of you without a cutting system, I’ve also included PDF files with the entire image printed on the top as shown below. One with the score lines marked and one without. This means it can be cut out by hand excluding all the intricate detail in the top of the box.
  Read more

Fresh flowers & bees; a 1st birthday cake

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
A few weeks ago we celebrated Munchkin’s first birthday with two splendid parties. For the first I made a Miffy themed birthday cake and for the second, we went with a fresh flowers and bees theme. For each cake, I made up a gluten-free vanilla butter-cake with a swiss meringue buttercream. Once you taste Swiss meringue buttercream, no frosting will ever taste as good! It’s silky smooth and, due to the addition of the egg white, is not as heavy or sweet as a traditional buttercream frosting.

I figured, if Munchkin was going to have her first cake, it should be a good one!
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
For the bee themed party, I made a naked cake decorated with a wild array of flowers. All designed to be perfectly imperfect! This went against the grain a little, as I love a perfect, smooth finish. At one point, just as the urge to ‘fix’ the cake became overwhelming, my husband took it away from me and demanded I not touch it again! At the time, I found this extremely frustrating. But looking back at the photos, I love it. It was just what I wanted.
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
I made up a whole heap of little bees with modelling chocolate and put them on floristry wire, then nestled them in amongst the cake and the flower arrangements.

To arrange the flowers, I wrapped each stem in multiple layers of floristry tape and pushed them into a 1cm thick disk of modelling chocolate that was set on top of the frosted cake.

Then, I added on simple little white candle. And it was finished! I adore the result. What do you think?
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

BASIC BUTTER CAKE

For Munchkin’s birthday cake, I made three batches of the butter cake (and the swiss meringue buttercream). One for each tier, and baked it in a 28cm diameter tin.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 125 grams of unsalted butter
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 210 grams of Schar Patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 130 ml of milk

 

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly butter and flour baking tin.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each.
  4. Add sifted flour alternatively with milk until just combined.
  5. Spread into a prepared pan. This quantity fills: 2x 18cm shallow cake pans or one deep.
  6. When skewer comes out of cake clean, it’s cooked (approximately 40 minutes). If you’re cooking your cake in a thin layer like I did, it will only take about 12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on wire rack to cool completely.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

 

Ingredients
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 260 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

 

Method
      1. Place egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt into a heat proof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Ensure that the water doesn’t touch the  bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture over the simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.
      2. Remove the bowl from heat and using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is cool, fluffy and glossy. At this point your mixture should be able to form stiff peaks. This takes about 10 minutes.
      3. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Mixing well after each addition until all of the butter has been added and your buttercream is smooth.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees