Monday, 27 October 2014

Master Q turned 2: The Gruffalo Cake

Master Q turned two nearly a month ago but am only now just getting around to posting the pics! Wow time flies, it feels like I was wrestling with his first birthday cake Rusty the Robot  just a week ago! We are only newcomers to The Gruffalo/The Gruffalo's Child stories by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler but to say both kids have become obsessed is an understatement! So there wasn't much discussion when it came to picking Master Q's cake this year, Gruffalo it was! It's such a wonderful story and Miss M can now recite it word for word, I have to say it helps that husband and I like it too and think we are both grateful for a break from Peppa Pig!!

 
When looking for some inspiration for the Gruffalo cake I was bombarded with lots of wonderful looking cakes on Pinterest but I could not find one that was simple and not made out of fondant icing. So I winged it and was pretty pleased with the result, Master Q insisted it turned out more like Gruffalo's Child than the Gruffalo and he was probably right but still it looked good.

 
I decided after a 'friendly' suggestion from husband that from now on I will make the kids birthday cakes WITH sugar. Not for the taste but sugar-free baking can be very temperamental and as most Mums know there is enough stress getting kids parties organized let alone worrying if the cake will even turn out! So I took his advice and stuck to a normal chocolate and buttercake. I also made chocolate buttercream icing and I do have to admit it did take a lot of stress out of the equation!

 
I baked two 22cm round cakes and fashioned the ears and legs from cut outs of the face. I covered the cake and legs and ears with the chocolate icing and used a fork to 'rough' up the fur. I hand coloured white fondant icing for all the body parts and used long licorice for the eyebrows, mouth, hair and end of the tail. The details were a little time consuming but it wasn't difficult. I made it the night before so didn't have to worry on the day.

 

I also added a few other little 'themed' items to the party table and made "Gruffalo Crumble" which was sugar-free chocolate crackles, some "Scrambled Snake" which was popcorn with lolly snakes, Maltessers as "Mouse droppings" and Twisties as "Roasted Fox". I normally try to keep the party food as nutritious as possible but this year I let go a little and funnily enough the kids hardly touched the Twisties or snakes, they were only interested in Fairy bread!



 
 
That's the kids party cakes over for another year, phew! Don't know how Mums with more than two kids do it?!

What birthday cakes did your kids ask for this year?

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have

I have been known at times to be a bit of a pessimist...ok a lot of the time,  I mean husband doesn't call me Captain Complaino for nothing. I do tend to dwell on the negative and focus on the things I don't have- a lot. And although I am fully aware that I really do have so much to be grateful for; a husband, two 'apple of my eye' kids and family and friends that I adore I tend to spend a lot of time looking outward. Especially when it comes to jobs/careers/life ambitions and houses.
 
I have an obsession with looking at real estate (which I have written about before). I am sure constantly moving house contributed to my inability to be happy with where I am but I admit I do spend too much time lusting after kitchens, gardens and libraries I will most likely never own. Recently husband and I had a 'disagreement' that spawned from a statement I made that went something like this... "Isn't it depressing to think this is it?".

Now there is certainly no blaming husband for being offended and angry at me for making such a statement as his interpretation of this comment was "Your husband, your kids, your life makes you depressed? Thanks very much". (You can see why words were then 'had') But that is not what I meant. 


I am sure everyone at some point has been guilty of obsessing over something they won't ever attain, or daydreaming of a job/house they won't ever have. Being surrounded by inspirational quotes like "Reach for the stars" and "Live the life you've imagined" can sometimes serve to be more of slap in the face rather than a fist pumping motivator. There comes a point in most adults' lives when you realise that rather than reaching for the stars, reaching for the remote is probably as far as you will go. When you realise that you, like most people, won't make it to the Forbes Top 100 list or the pages of InsideOut magazine a little bit of that starry eyed kid dies. I know I am digging myself a bigger hole, but bare with me. (I have also been accused of being a bit dramatic).

When you have a job such as mine where you have a pre-determined salary and that pre-determined salary determines you are a well established part of the middle-class there is not much point dreaming of having the aforementioned house with a library, expansive marble kitchen , extensive landscaped gardens and a winding tree-lined driveway. This is just not going to happen. There is a point where it is better to accept and appreciate the things you have rather than always hoping for something you most probably won't get but for me letting go of this daydream is a little, well depressing. (Ok so maybe I should have used 'disheartening' in my declaration to husband but you know what I mean).

 
After attempting (badly) to explain what exactly I meant by this statement husband suggested that these things are still attainable if that's what you want- the question is how hard you are willing to work to achieve these 'goals'. If I was willing to sacrifice time with my family to work full time or was willing to give up the little sleep I have to work longer hours then we might be able to afford the ladder for that imaginary library bookcase. But these aren't things I am willing to sacrifice, no matter how much I drool over the pages of Home Beautiful magazine.

I know that I am not alone in wanting more in life but when is it best to stop aspiring for the unattainable?

I suppose the answer to that is simple:

 

I have over the last few months toyed with closing down my blog. I originally created this space as a way to workshop ideas for a career change, to find my "Plan B" and as some of you might know I recently returned to my "Plan A" job (which you can read about here). It was disheartening to say the least but for the first time in a long time I decided that I would do my best to remain positive about it.

This would be my usual go-to mantra
The person who was going to suffer the most from my bitching and moaning was me. So I did, I reminded myself that this didn't mean my "Plan B" was dead, just in hibernation mode and that contributing to the household budget is something I should be proud of. Being an example to my kids, showing them that you have to make sacrifices in life for the ones you love, these were good things. It's good for them to see me set off for work just as much as its good for them to see husband cooking dinner. 
 
Whilst googling "how to be more positive" last night (yes I was desperate enough to ask Dr Google) I read an article which stated being negative was a 'choice'. I don't know why but this sentence struck me right between the eyes. I had always willingly and proudly declared that I was a pessimist not really ever thinking I could change my perception of the world, but when I read this simple sentence I realised I could, being negative was a choice I was making and so conversely I could make a choice to be positive.

Obviously this won't happen overnight, changing what has become my natural instinct will take practice but I do have a life to be grateful for, laminate kitchen and all. By spending so much time and energy focusing on what I don't have I am ignoring all the wonderful things I do have. 

So from now on my Plan B project will focus more on being positive, being grateful and being content with what I have. Sound good?