Category Archives: Baking

Weekend Coffee Share 26th February, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Quite frankly, I think the dog’s got the right idea. He’s lying on the floor beside me with his paws twitching in the air, evidently having a wonderful dream. I spoilt his other half yesterday. I spotted a very posh dog leash at the charity shop…a string of pearls with gold bling. Lady would look quite the part if she wasn’t such a scruffian and I hope she doesn’t roll around in dead stench while strutting her stuff.

We’ve had a big week.

Friday, as my daughter’s birthday. While we’ve put off her party until after “the test”, we still had festivities. It’s customary here for kids to take cupcakes in for their birthdays for the class. My daughter had found these uber-colourful rainbow cookies called “Unicorn Poop” on YouTube.  While seriously aghast at the “intense” colours and all that entailed, I was also concerned with her trying to make an American recipe for the first time for a special occasion. My mother hasn’t given me heaps of baking advice that I’ve taken to heart. However, she says you never make something for the first time for something special. I thought this advice went double when the recipe was in “American” and we had to translate the lingo and measurements. We opted instead for an English variation. With the end product looking like very pretty rocks, I not so subtly suggested she also makes cupcakes. Turned out that the biscuits weren’t as hard as they looked. She meticulously and artistically iced and decorated them and had a hit.

DSC_4088.JPG

Happy Birthday, Miss!

Last night, my parents came over and we all went out for dinner. It was the first time my Mum’s come over since her back went out last year and it was so good to see them up here. While we went out for dinner, we came back here for rainbow birthday cake and we shared some of our Tasmanian treats with them. That was so much fun and very yum!

Quite aside from my daughter’s birthday, much of my head space and time has been taken up with getting her prepared for the selective schools’ test, which will be held 9th March…only about 10 days away. Our daughter is in a selective primary school class and just from the perspective of staying with her friends, the test is at the very least an issue. I don’t believe in hot-housing kids and yet there’s that pressure, that anxiety, that not knowing. Believe me. It’s tempting to get all caught up in the panic/fear and throw all “distractions” aside and treat my daughter as a widget passing along an assembly line. So what about nurturing and developing the whole child?

I am hoping that we’ve trod the middle ground  and have done enough while staying somewhat sane. She’s been doing a bit of tutoring and some work at home but has still kept up with her dance and violin.

Strangely, the rest of the known world is not revolving around “the test”. Our State MP developed serious cancer and had to resign. This means we have a local by-election. I have to admit that I wasn’t enthralled with all the hoopla that entails, especially as we’re a marginal seat and experience what could best be described as an “Election Blitz”. You can share my shot at humour  here: Oh no! Not Another Election!

You know how hard it can be keeping the blog up with real life. Well, before writing about my frustrations with the political process, I’d actually found out that a friend and much valued role model, Liesl Tesch, is running as the local Labor Party candidate. That was quite a surprise and quite a thrill. Liesl is a Paralympic gold medalist and like me, juggles disability with movement and she showed me how you can use equipment as an enabler. Liesl teaches at our local High School and rides her bicycle to work but uses a wheelchair during the day and then cycles home. I first met her as the guest speaker at the International Women’s Day March and she was wheeling along the main street in her chair. However, when I next met her talking to our scout troop, she was standing and on her feet. That was good for me to see, because there are times when I could use a wheelchair to boost my accessibility and yet I’ve only done it once attending the Sydney Opera House.

I attended Liesl’s campaign launch on Friday morning. That was an eye-opener as it was more of a press conference. It felt quite strange seeing the political juggernaut back in town and I’ll leave it at that.

Meanwhile, I’m still following up from our trip to Tasmania. I don’t know whether I mentioned that I’ve told Geoff that he’s related to all of North Tasmania. He disagreed with me and it’s become a bit of a running joke. However, I’ve worked out that James Newton the convict I’ve been researching, had around 30 grandchildren and I’ve recognized quite a few names from the trip. It seems the degrees of separation get pretty tight down there historically speaking. Yet, many descendants have moved to the Mainland. So, it seems they could be infiltrating our ranks.

Well, on that note, I’ll head off.

I just realized that I’ve been a dreadful host and haven’t offered you anything to eat or drink and haven’t even asked how you’ve been or what you’ve been up to. My sincere apologies and I really didn’t mean to yawn at you then either. It looks like I’ve become so chilled today, that I’ve almost passed out.

So, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a good one.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share and you can click here for the link-up.

xx Rowena

Christmas Coffee Share!

Welcome to our Christmas, I mean Boxing Day, Weekend Coffee Share.

We hope you and yours have had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the season.

Not quite sure what to other you in the way of drinks this week. I’m leaning towards tea or coffee with a slice of Christmas Cake or toasted Stollen.

We celebrated Christmas Day with lunch at my aunt’s place with the extended family and then back to my parent’s place for “dinner”. The kids spent much of the day in the pool mucking around with my cousins. I didn’t get in yesterday, although I did manage a pre-Christmas dip in my parents’ pool.

rowena-flamingo

Never too old for pool toys!

It’s now Boxing Day Monday and we’re perched in front of the TV set watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Winds are currently 10-15 knots yet to the untrained eye, they appear stronger. The yachts are keeling over at about a 45 degree angle. While I’m no veteran of the race, they seem to leaning over more than usual.

Yesterday, my aunt asked our son when he’s going into the Sydney-to-Hobart. Give him a few years. He starts racing locally in January.

dsc_5231

Start Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2016.

By the way, Perpetual Loyal made it out of Sydney Heads first. We’re still watching, listening to all the sailing talk and giving our son a few lessons. I know watching sailing is no compensation for being out there yourself. However, this is his chance to learn from the masters…and my husband who is providing us with arm chair commentary.

Today, I’m following my father’s Boxing Day Tradition and not doing anything. Well, I am writing and jotting down all the snippets from yesterday.I know writing isn’t doing anything but it’s letting energy out, rather than taking energy in and that’s what I need. So, although I’m in my writing chair surrounded by the family and dogs glancing at the yacht race, I’m still in my own little space bubble. I need to breath. Stretch my wings again. I feel like I’ve been locked in a matchbox and I need to break free. I suspect that’s all the built-up pressure of the end of the year and I’m now  finding myself needing to reflect and debrief. Let myself flow. It’s been so stop start lately that I’ve become jammed somewhere in  between the accelerator and the brakes (if that makes any sense). That description makes a lot of sense to me.

By the way, the camera people were just catapulted off the back of the yachts as they leave Sydney Harbour, picked up by the rescue boat. It sure looked odd and more of an emergency than a planned operation, especially as there are sharks in Sydney Harbour.

Christmas Eve we went to Church and then off to a pot luck dinner. By the way, they were giving away hampers at Church and they were offering them to the person with the loudest voice. No surprises there. My son’s voice boomed out and we’re now feasting on chippies, fruit mince pies etc watching the race. Yum! I’m about to head out to the kitchen for a piece of toasted stollen . More yum. Couldn’t fit in half the goodies yesterday. So while I’m explicitly doing nothing today, I am feasting away.

We went to my aunt’s place in Sydney for the usual big, extended family Christmas and went to my parents’ place afterwards. No one was hungry although I did manage to squeeze in another piece of pudding, custard and brandy butter but only just!

Christmas cake 2014 zoom

Lego Santa Loves Christmas Cake.

I’ve been blogging about the lead up to Christmas, which I thought you might enjoy. I wrote about The Meaning of Christmas Cake. After finally making my Christmas Cake, I’d packed it up to take to my parents’ place mid-week and the dog got in and ate it…Christmas Dogastrophy. Bilbo just asked me to clarify that it wasn’t him. It was Lady, who naturally ended up at the very top of Santa’s naughty list…not that it bothered her. She kept wagging her tail and looking up at us with her huge brown irresistible Cavalier spaniel eyes showing no remorse whatsoever.She very good at that!

Bilbo & Lady

Bilbo & Lady

I also ended up making a second Christmas Cake…the Aussie Harvest Cake. This adventure and indeed, it did turn into an adventure started out with driving round and round trying to find a bottle shop which was open at 10.00PM…All For A Sozzled Christmas Cake. If you’re not into making your own Christmas Cake, you might not appreciate that they’re very heavy drinkers. This one was demanding an entire cup of brandy. I’d be sozzled.

dsc_5136

Yet the adventures didn’t end there. I should’ve realized that3 kgs of dried fruit was hugely excessive and that this recipe would produce a monster cake to feed an army. Obviously, I didn’t and that’s how I came to develop the Christmas Cake Workout .

In addition to all the Christmas preparations, I also took part in Friday Fictioneers again. I’m really enjoying these challenges and have been thrilled with the results. If you haven’t tried writing flash fiction, I encourage you to have a go. You might also surprise yourself. American Diner Down Under.

Well, I hope you and yours have had a Merry Christmas and we also wish you a Happy and wonder-filled New Year!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster and here’s the Link-Up

Love,

Rowena, Geoff, Mr, Miss, Bilbo and Lady.

For those who have been following the growth of the sunflower seeds, which were salvaged from the MH17 crash site site in the Ukraine, two are flowering for Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cake Dogastrophy

If you look into those irresistible, chocolate brown eyes, you would never suspect that cute as a button dog could be capable of such wickedness.

Christmas cake 2014 zoom

The Christmas Cake.

That she could sit there licking her lips seemingly asking for more when she’s all but devoured our homemade Christmas Cake. That’s right. The very same Christmas Cake I made using my mother’s recipe, which has been part of my Christmas every year for at least 45 years or thereabouts (I doubt a 5 month old baby would’ve eaten Christmas Cake, but you never know.)

The world was very different then and so many of our family traditions have disappeared. So, this Christmas Cake is special. Of course, it doesn’t replace the true meaning of Christmas but it was made with love and the dog gutsed all that love all by herself.

Well, fortunately, she didn’t get all the cake. Thanks to my Dad’s rather peculiar aversion to cinnamon, I’d made a tray of mini Christmas Cakes for him, which I’d safely sealed away in a plastic box.So, it looks like Dad will be sharing.

As for Lady, she showed absolutely no remorse and has shot up to the very top of Santa’s Naughty List.

So, there’ll be no pressies for her…except a potentially nasty tummy ache!

Do you have any Christmas disasters to report? After all, as much as we strive towards a perfect Christmas, most of us are only human and we’re left to blame our mistakes on the dog.

xx  Rowena

All for a Sozzled Christmas Cake…

Yesterday, being the second day of the school holidays, I was driven to desperate measures. Indeed, pushed straight over the brink, I was merely hanging onto my sanity by the barest of fingertips. The kids were asleep. My husband was there to mind the fort. It was almost 10.00PM and I had to get to the bottle shop. I couldn’t wait!

Of course, it wasn’t for me.

I swear it wasn’t.

It was for my Christmas Cake. I’d found an interesting recipe on the back of my Christmas cards and I had to try it out. With only a few sleeps before Christmas, there wasn’t any time to waste. Not that it would be ready in time. Like all Christmas cakes, it has to rest and this one needs more rest than most.

However, if I was a Christmas Cake and I’d drunk an entire cup of straight brandy, I’d need an extended rest too. Indeed, I’d probably need my stomach pumped. Unlike the Christmas cake, I’m not much of a drinker and a humble cup of tea usually does me.

So, there I was cruising the streets at night, desperately needing my cup of brandy. Yet, much to my horror, all the bottle shops were shut. I mean…where’s the Christmas spirit? Evidently, you needed to go to the pub for that.

Go to the pub? Was I that desperate, that unabashed, that I could front up to the bar with my pink melamine measuring cup and order a cup of brandy?

Yes! I was.

As I said, it wasn’t for me. It was for the Christmas cake. Surely, the pub would have a bit of compassion for someone making a Christmas cake a few days before Christmas?

Still, I could see all those bar flies with their huge, bug eyes are staring at me like rotting flesh.

What the?

Even I have to admit it’s weird…like a scene out of Fawlty Towers, Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em  or some more recent comedy show.

I’ve been known to cause  embarrassment before, but this would have taken the cake (forgive the pun).

We live in a beach side town and while there are plenty of people living here, it’s yet another insular peninsula. Nothing’s private. Everybody knows your business and I can tell you that some old chook turning up at the bar ordering brandy in a measuring cup, would not go unnoticed. I’d be the talk of the town and for all the wrong reasons.

dsc_5011

Yet, hasn’t anyone else ever been caught out trying to make a Christmas cake a few days before Christmas? Surely, after thousands of years of celebrating Christmas, I am not the only one…the very first?!!

By the way, if you’ve never made your own Christmas Cake, you probably don’t know about their heavy drinking habits.

Of course, they have all sorts of excuses. I mean, if I earned a dollar for every time I’ve heard a Christmas cake blame the dried fruit, I’d be a very wealthy woman. But you try giving a thirsty Christmas Cake a few glasses of water, and you’ll soon see their true colours. They’ll be throwing that slice of lemon straight back at you and demanding the hard stuff…whiskey, brandy, rum. If you’re on a budget, you might be lucky. They might settle for a sherry, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. These Christmas cakes hold nothing back and that’s why they’re always at the very top of Santa’s Naughty List.

Indeed, if you drank a cup of straight brandy, I’m sure you’d be at the top of the Naughty List too!

With the bottle shops shut and feeling too intimidated to go to the pub, I did consider Facebooking a few friends. Who could I pop in on at 10.00PM asking for a cup of brandy rather than the usual cup of sugar? I’m sure we all know a few likely characters, but by this stage, I’d finally accepted defeat. I decided to head back to the bottle shop in the morning.

Meanwhile, before I call it a night, I have some advice for Santa.

dsc_5005

Beware of eating too much Christmas Cake. I don’t know if they have random breath testing for sleighs,  but you don’t want to end up at the top of your own naughty list.

I’m not quite sure how many standard drinks are going to be in this Christmas cake by the time it’s done. Although much of the alcohol will be cooked out of the cake, you keep adding it as it ferments. It’s going to be sozzled.

So, my piece of wisdom for this Christmas…

Be careful before you eat and drive!

Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Wishing you a cautious Merry Christmas and some moderated “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

xx Rowena

dsc_4994

I must admit it feel odd walking out of the bottle shop at lunch time with a bottle in a brown paper bag. It’s not mine! I swear it’s not mine!

 

“Danger, Will Robinson! It’s Heston Junior!

“As we get older, we tend to become more risk averse because we tend to find reasons why things won’t work. When you are a kid, you think everything is possible, and I think with creativity it is so important to keep that naivety.”

-Heston Blumenthal

When I first laid eyes on my daughter’s efforts in the kitchen yesterday, the world’s greatest chef, Heston Blumenthal, came to mind and I wondered how his mother survived. Did he convert her kitchen into a similar scene of mass destruction… a post-apocalyptic disaster zone with bowls of rainbow-coloured cake mix all over the kitchen table, trying very hard to look like pots of paint? How did she cope? Did she ever resort to a Bex powders and “a good lie down” just to get through the day? (Damn those side-effects!  Motherhood’s never been the same again!)

Yesterday, was my kids’ first day of Summer Holidays. For me, the first day of school holidays is a designated “Pyjama Day”. Unlike some of our traditions, this one wasn’t going anywhere. Just like an immovable rock, I wasn’t budging .
Yet, although we spent the day in our PJs, that doesn’t mean the residents were asleep.
dsc_4935

When it came to adding colour to her cake mix, my daughter held nothing back!

Indeed, far from it. While I was having a siesta, my daughter whipped up a cyclone in the kitchen.Rather than feeling excited, energized and inspired by such unbridled creativity, I felt like I’d stumbled into an apocalypse. Bowls of lurid, rainbow-coloured cake mix were scattered on the edge of the kitchen table like paint pots. Indeed, in hindsight I should’ve been grateful that the colours hadn’t been plastered all over the wall. A few bowls isn’t such a huge mess, is it? It’s only me being Catastromum again!!
And yet…
My revulsion and outright panic showed me just how much I’d changed. Not so long ago, all I could see was the masterpiece and never noticed the mess. Yet, somewhere along the way, I’ve gone from making the mess to becoming the:”Make sure you clean up after yourself” person. Have I gone stark raving mad?  I guess so. Armed with Spray & Wipe, I’ve now joined the Clean Police!
dsc_4943

Food colouring is like  glitter. You can’t have too much of a good thing.

Well, not entirely! As much as I complain about the rainbow mess, the results were particularly striking, especially when you sliced the cakes in half. The lurid, multi-coloured swirls reminded me of the inside of a thunder egg with its dazzling crystals and colours. They were impressive.

Indeed, they were works of art.
Yet, they were works of art I was reluctant to eat. Not because they were beautiful. Rather, I didn’t want to OD on all those  artificial colours. Talk about bouncing off the walls for a week and not in a good way either.
Speaking of works of art, there was one last detail my daughter had overlooked…the clean-up. Given all these multi-coloured bowls of drying out cake mix, this was like cleaning -up after a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. Move over Cyclone Katrina and the Brisbane Floods, we had Cyclone Cake Mix to resolve and those bowls weren’t going to clean themselves.
Yet, as desperate as I was for the mess to go away, much to their disappointment, I wasn’t about to resort to the doggy dishwashers. Yuck!
dogs

Mum, we’ll clean-up. Promise!

After all, we have a dishwasher but for some reason, the bowls aren’t migrating from the bench into the machine. Rather, they just keep sitting there making me mad.
Why is it so?
It seems Heston Junior hasn’t read her contract. That she is required to clean up all messes made in the kitchen immediately. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
I had to remind Heston Junior that my job description does NOT include cleaning up after her fanciful cooking experiments, especially when they expand so far beyond one bowl.
Oh no! Junior Heston had to face the harsh reality of cleaning up after herself.
It’s cruel world.
Do you have any funny stories to share about kids cooking at home?
If you enjoyed this story, you should also have a laugh at my efforts teaching the kids to make pizza three years ago when they were nine and seven years old. It was a hoot: Cooking with Kids: Pizza From Scratch.
xx Rowena
crumb-palette-with-dog-hair-and-chocolate-streak

The End…Rainbow Crumbs,  Dog Hair and a Chocolate Storm Cloud.

 

 

Anyway, although I whinge so much about the mess, I was impressed with the stunning colours, even if she did use a packet mix to make it. Yes, I know Heston’s cooking philosophy is primarily about taste despite his creativity but everyone has to start out somewhere and this was just the first day of the school holidays. She has plenty of time to grow.

The Meaning of Christmas Cake.

Last night, I was making my Christmas Cake.

In case you’re not familiar with what we Australians know as “Christmas Cake”, it’s a boiled fruit cake crammed with sultanas, currants, raisins and prunes soaked and boiled in sherry. The next day, glace cherries and almonds are added to the mix, along with the usual cakey ingredients. It’s very much a British tradition, which has immigrated along with the settlers to the Antipodes.

Christmas cake 2014 zoom

Our Lego Santa Loves Christmas Cake.

There are so many steps to making a Christmas cake, each almost being an essential pre-Christmas ritual. So, let’s get started.

The first step is to boil up the dried fruit with the sherry, lemon and orange juice on the stove. If you have never experienced this smell, you are really missing out. As I hunch over the hot stove stirring the fruits with my wooden spoon, all those smells tantalize my senses, heralding Christmas. Indeed, I’d swear my nose was even twitching. Wow! It smells amazingly good!

Then, you leave those fruits in the fridge overnight to stew.

In this era of instant everything, it almost feels unnatural to wait for anything. Yet, this waiting process seems quite appropriate for a Christmas cake. After all, so much about Christmas involves waiting…How many sleeps? Where’s Santa? What am I getting for Christmas?

So, the Christmas Cake is simply being in synch with the rest of Christmas with all its waiting and delays.

The next day, we move onto the baking phase.

jonathon-jan-2007

Our son sampling the mixture, aged 3.

This starts out with the ceremonial beating of the butter and brown sugar, watching them spin round and round in my Sunbeam mix master. They’re like two people falling in love and becoming one flesh, as they dance round and round the beaters creaming together. That’s when fingers and spoons invade the bowl for mandatory testing. You’d be surprised how things can go wrong in the beating process, and how multiple tastings are required… just to be sure!

Then, you add the eggs. Even if you deplore Christmas Cake, I guarantee you’ll be licking the spoon once you taste brown sugar, butter and eggs creamed together. Not only do they taste delicious, but they have such a smooth, creamy texture which truly dazzles your taste buds. Yum!

More mixture disappears.

And a bit more!

There’s still plenty left.

Then, even a bit more mixture disappears onto a passing spoon.

Time to add the flour and spices before there’s no mixture left!

Next, I throw in the halved glace cherries and slivered almonds and it’s into the tin. More slivered almonds are sprinkled on top, and the Christmas Cake has finally made it into the oven.

Strange how there’s still so much mixture left behind!

Of course, some of that has been put aside for the mini Christmas cakes I make for my Dad. Dad has a pathological aversion to cinnamon so I always make him his own. My Dad looks very much like John Cleese playing Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers. So, it’s a wise move to keep him happy, as we don’t have Manuel on hand to keep him in check.

However, it also seems like such a waste to cook all of that scrummy mixture, especially when it’s only going to become Christmas Cake.

Funny that I could ever deride the sacred Christmas Cake!

How soon I forget! Three years ago, I had a round of chemo to treat my auto-immune disease starting the week before Christmas. Indeed, I literally was singing: “all I wanted for Christmas is chemo” in my head that year. After all, without the chemo, I wouldn’t be here now. So, despite its hardships, it was more of a celebration than an ordeal.

This is where the Christmas Cake enters the story. I had three days’ notice before chemo began and do you know what I did in that time? I made my Christmas Cake and I posted my Christmas cards. That’s what was important…along with my family.

I had to remind myself of that this year. Now that the pressure’s off and my health has vastly improved, making the Christmas Cake wasn’t quite happening. Indeed, I only made it last night with 6 sleeps to go. I was really struggling to get myself moving!

That’s also because I’m not a huge lover of fruit cake. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Christmas, I’d never make any kind of fruit cake. I much prefer chocolate cake and have been known to mix the boiled fruits in with a chocolate cake mix before. That was yum! The boiled fruits also mix in well with ice cream. Indeed, the boiled fruits can be very versatile, if you’re willing to let go of tradition heading into the great unknown.

rowena-santa

Photographed with Santa aged 6. Unfortunately, the photo needs a spruce up.

I’m not quite there yet. I still need a slice of Christmas Cake with my cup of tea and my parents particularly love this Christmas Cake. After all, I make my mother’s recipe, which she adopted from her university friend Deirdre. They go back a long way and so does this Christmas Cake. I’ve been eating it for something like 47 years now. It’s a keeper and I hope my kids continue to  make it wherever they are and whatever their world is like when they grow up. Who knows where they’ll be in 47 years? Yet, like any parent, I just want them to be happy (which is often the most elusive “achievement” of all!)

You can find the recipe and a previous post about the Christmas Cake here.

You might also enjoy reading about Christmas Cakes: here. I found it a very interesting read.

Do you have any Christmas baking traditions? If so, I’d love to hear all about them and feel free to share your recipes.

Love & Christmas Blessings,

Rowena

Disaster Crafter!

Kid’s craft should definitely come with warnings. I’m not talking about those warnings such as: WARNING! CHOKING HAZARD- Small Parts. Not suitable for children under 3 years.

I’m talking about warnings for parents.

THIS PROJECT SHOULD NOT BE UNDERTAKEN UNLESS YOU HAVE THE PATIENCE OF A SAINT

Or…

WARNING! MUST BE QUALIFIED SURGEON/ENGINEER/ARTIST TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT!

Perhaps, I should have confessed upfront. I have failed kid’s craft again. This time I have screwed up a relatively simple project that any 8 year old could do but was somehow beyond my abilities! I guess that makes me a loser! Make that loser loser!

Our latest craft project, aside from obligatory choking warnings, advised that children 6-8 may need some help and children 8-10 should be able to do it themselves.

I thought our 6 year old daughter would have no trouble completing it. She is very advanced like most people’s children. What I didn’t envision was that I would have trouble doing it. In fact, that I would sabotage and almost destroy our fairy completely!

Yesterday, we visited our local toy shop. So far, so good. Well, I came across a kit where you can make your own “stained-glass” fairy. She even comes with her own pet unicorn. You simply pour the crystals into the metal frame and put it in the oven to bake. Miss and I were both very excited! She loves craft just as much as I love revisiting my childhood!

You see I loved making these as a kid. That’s why I bought it. I remembered pouring the crystals into the frame and then watching them metamorphose like magic in the oven. They were so much fun and so easy. I wanted our daughter to share in the magic. Our son too if he hadn’t disappeared.

In all my excitement, I didn’t look that closely at the fairy and didn’t appreciate the fine attention to detail required. The metal frame was indeed quite intricate in places and we needed to apply one crystal at a time with the precision of a micro-surgeon.  This is all very well if you are the micro-surgeon type and you have the time to be so meticulous. We, on the other hand, were making ours’ before school. While we weren’t exactly rushing, we didn’t have all day either.

As I said before, my experience of making these stained-glass thingys was pouring the crystals into the frame. That is much more my style. I’m much more of a broad-brush kind of artist. Slap on the paint. I need a style which is a bit forgiving and allows a lot of scope for mistakes. Precision isn’t my thing and when it comes to staying within the lines, I couldn’t be bothered. After all, aren’t lines  meant to be broken, extended, challenged? Isn’t that what being creative is all about?

dsc_3836

Miss Aged 6 with her doll.

Miss Perfectionist, on the other hand, is very particular. Precise. Without any consideration for my poor, wounded self-esteem, she very bluntly lets me know when my artwork isn’t up to scratch and doesn’t look like the real thing. She is also 6 and one of the first rules of colouring-in is that you stay inside the lines. I’ve been told before that I need to go back to kindergarten to learn how to colour-in properly.

As much as Miss is precise, she is also a perfectionist. Of course, she started off with the most fiddly bit where you could only apply one crystal at a time. She was struggling and quickly became frustrated and that’s when I was called in. My approach of tipping the crystals in wasn’t really appreciated. I also mixed the colours and I thought the fairy would look quite nice in a pink dress with purple spots but this wasn’t good enough. It didn’t meet Madam’s high standards and so she started to remove the offending dots. Well, I obliged and was using a fork to get them out when disaster struck. The fork clipped the metal frame lifting it ever so slightly off the tray and the crystals all tumbled out of position. To make matters worse, I couldn’t wriggle the frame back onto the tray either. It was resting on top of the crystals instead. The crystals had all gone AWOL.  On the brink of despair, I shoved it in the oven. It was a done deal!

At first, Miss was surprisingly impressed. She was quite excited and told me it was “pretty”. It didn’t take long for either of us to see its short comings. There were quite a few “extensions” added to the frame. You know…extra bits. I even managed to fill up the hole at the top. Yes, that’s right. That hole where you put the piece of ribbon to hang it up. At least, I could have got that bit right!

I soon found her chiseling away at these offending additions with a sharp knife. As I carefully removed the knife, once again craft had become yet another lesson in “acceptance”.

I know this won’t be our last craft project. As much as I protest, I keep finding more craft activities to frustrate us.

For the time being, however, we’re going back to baking. You can’t go wrong with cupcakes!

cupcake

A Cupcake…the safe alternative.

Do you have any craft disaster stories to share? I’d love to hear from you!

I have reblogged this post which was first published in 2012. My daughter made another one of these sun catchers today and wanted to share this with you as a back story.

xx Rowena