Sunday, 27 April 2014

Happy Easter!

I know I'm a little late to the party, but...


Last Sunday was Easter Sunday - the day, as a Christian, we celebrate the rising of Jesus on the third day, after his death on Good Friday.

For Easter Sunday, our church held an outreach event called an "eggstravaganza" to encourage the community to get involved, come and have fun, eat chocolate, and be able to hear about the great news about the true meaning of Easter (i.e. not the one with the bunny).

My job for the event, was to organise and oversee the biscuit "Easter egg" decorating. I was super eggcited about this, as I really enjoy crafts, especially the edible kinds. It also meant I could spend more  quality time with my close friends "Sugar" and "Cadbury".

As this was our first eggstravaganza, I wasn't sure what to eggspect. So, I made (because I'm also a bit crazy) 7 different colours of royal icing, in 14 different containers. Alll the colours of the rainbow! ;)

Next time, I might perhaps demonstrate the idea that I had in mind for the decorating part (as I would usually do at our 4FAMILIES program) as the children were sitting near a container of icing, and given a plate with:

- arrowroot biscuits
- smarties
- white chocolate bits
- sugar straps

I'm sure most of them were thinking "what the heck am I supposed to make with this?" ... But this was the idea I had in mind:

Next time, Gadget.

Really, though, no matter which way they were decorated, they made for a delicious breakfast! Hehehe. It was a really fun morning, and I am already looking forward to next year's event.

And though it is rumoured that chocolate eggs are hollow because it's cheaper to make them that way, and because it's much less sickening to eat than a massive solid egg, I am sticking to the story that it is because the tomb where Jesus lay after he died, was empty when He had risen on that first Easter morning.

Not many people benefit us after they've died. Some distant great relatives may give us 'things' or money as an inheritance, etc. But Jesus, through his death and resurrection, brings us something so much greater!

Jesus brings: A way out of darkness. Direction in life. Hope to the broken. Life to the full. Forgiveness of sin. Satisfaction to the satisfied. Rest for the weary. Eternal life.

Which one is most important to you? For me, on many days, it is this:

"Come to me, all who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest."   -Jesus
Matthew 11:28

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Friday that was Good.

For the final week of a church kids club my two eldest have attended this year, I was asked if I'd be able to make some cupcakes to celebrate the end of term. "Of course!" I replied. But what should they look like? I wondered. (I do love a theme to work with).

Throughout the term at kids club, they had been learning about Jesus' life, leading up to what happened on the very first Easter.

As I was looking for inspiration for what to design for these end-of-term/Easter cupcakes, I bypassed the chickens, bunnies, and baskets, and looked back to the original Easter:

The previous week, my kids had also come home with this craft. Which (hard to see from the photo) also has the following poem on it:

Red is for the blood he gave
Green is for the grass he made
Yellow is for the sun so bright
Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made
White is for the grace he gave
Purple is for the house of sorrow
Pink is for the new tomorrow

I now had a design, and I had the colours.

For the black and white parts, I made three crosses for each cupcake. I used dark chocolate for the 'black', and milk chocolate for the 'white', because milk is white!

... And because the white chocolate didn't melt properly and looked dodgy :(

I iced them all, not in order of the colours of the poem, but in order of whatever food colouring I grabbed first- I was running out of time. Because, I had this idea that I could photograph them in their colour groups, purely so that I could achieve this:

  Red is for the blood he gave         Green is for the grass he made

 Yellow is for the sun so bright        Orange is for the edge of night

Purple is for the house of sorrow          Pink is for the new tomorrow   

To make up for not having actual white on any of the cupcakes (even if I was the only one who cared), when I wrapped them in cellophane bags, I attached some curly white ribbon onto them all. But, by then I was really out of time, so couldn't take a photo of it. You'll just have to imagine!

For God so loved the world,
that He gave his only Son,
so that whoever believes in him may not perish,
but may have eternal life.
For God did not send his son into the world
to condemn the world,
but to save the world through Him.
John 3:16-17

And, one of my favourite songs, with lyrics that beautifully describe what God has done for us, which we sung this morning at church:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure.
That He should give His only Son,
And make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns His face away.
As wounds which mar the Chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon the cross,

My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life,
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything:

No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Overdue poetry!

Exactly one month ago, Created Creatively reached 200 likes!

Finally, the promised celebratory poem has been written. This is therefore dedicated to the 200th liker. He knows who he is :)

There once lived a guy near my street,
Who is often referred to as Pete.
He's a nice kind of guy,
But some may start to cry
If they capture the scent of his feet.

On the side, I've a blog that I write,
And a Facebook page I created one night.
With the help of his wife,
Or the threat on his life,
Pete became my 200th 'like'!

I really prefer cupcakes and cake,
Because poems are much harder to make.
But I promised something wordy,
And since this poem’s not that sturdy...
The end.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Parenting level: Lazy.

The older my kids get, the lazier I become.

A couple of years ago, I had created our first chore chart for Ben and Tamara, to earn money for school banking at the end of each week. Last year, I had revised the chart, and created an updated one (which it appears I was too lazy to blog about).

I have recently created a "new and improved" version of all the previous charts combined, which debuted in our household last week!

To be completely honest, I am both amazed, and ashamed at myself.

When I think of the characteristics of a good mum, I think of a woman who loves and cares for her kids equally, a woman who makes sure they're up in time for school, prepares her children's lunches, ensures they're dressed appropriately for school, helps with homework, provides regular and balanced meals, reads books to them at bedtime, picks up after them (rubbish/clothes, etc), and generally has a calm and content disposition throughout the day, because she is full of love for those in her family.

She would never scream in their faces about trivial issues, like who ate the last of the M 'n' Ms, for example.

... I am not that kind of mum.

I break promises, break hearts, send kids to school with lunchboxes full of processed foods, refuse to buy new school uniforms even though they're growing out of them, assume they're lying about not having homework/cleaning their rooms/or breaking an arm, and, feed them lollies and chips for afternoon tea.

To make their lives worse, they also now do my housework for me!

This has been the chore chart progression so far.


In 2013, the chart was upgraded to a morning and afternoon chart:

I had added things like putting toys into the toy box, packing clothes away, playing with the dog, watering plants, taking the compost out, making beds, straightening pairs of shoes, and vacuuming.

It was also a bit ambitious to add Jonathan to the chore chart, as he sometimes doesn't even know how to get dressed without dribbling on himself.

And now, in 2014, I wonder if there's anything left for me to do:

Since I'm also a realist (or too lazy to convince him that he needs to do more around the house than play games and watch Play School), I've taken Jonathan off the chore chart until he starts school next year.

The few (but extremely essential-for-my-relaxation time) things that have been added to the chart include:

- Rolling up pairs of socks
- Taking out the trash
- Taking out the recycling
- Packing away clothes
- Tidying up a bookshelf
- Vacuuming an area* of the house

* I've created 8 "areas" in the house, which means that with this item added to the chore chart:
A) The whole house gets vacuumed once a fortnight, and
B) It's not even me doing it!!

I figure that the more things I get my kids to do around the house, the more time I have to sleep, drink coffee, and watch TV, because isn't that what stay-at-home-mums do all day anyway??

If I remember, I do give my kids money for school banking on a Friday, for all their efforts during the week with the chores. It's so nice, particularly having someone else to roll socks, play with the dog, and vacuum the house...

Or, just someone doing them full stop ;)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

All tangled up!

If you have young children, then you've probably seen the Disney movie "Tangled". If those young children are girls, you've probably seen it at least a million times! As soon as I saw it, Tangled was quickly added to my list of favourite movies, and has generally become my go-to DVD when my kids (2 of them boys) claim that there's nothing to watch...

"Put Tangled on, then."

You can imagine my delight, then, when I was asked (by my friend's daughter) if I could make her a Tangled cake for her 5th birthday :)

Of course I said yes, and immediately logged onto the internets to see what other cakes people had made in the theme of Tangled. Oh. my. goodness - they were brilliantly amazing! And amazingly brilliant! I could not compete with so, so many of them. Wow.

Confessing to my friend that my version would only be simple, I was pleased when she was fine with that! I sketched a rough design - which from the scribble may not actually look that simple, but it was meant to be! And, compared to Pinterest/Google, it was :)

As I was designing the cake in my head, there were a few main things I wanted to include:
- Rapunzel's hair
- Her chameleon, Pascal
- That sun thing that is the whole origin of her life (spoiler alert)

I also had in mind the colours pink, purple, green, yellow, and gold. And, the flavour vanilla (because it was the birthday girl's choice).

Here's my "sketch":

I started with making Pascal, assuming that he would be the most time consuming part of the cake (it actually wasn't!). I did originally hope that I could make him to be standing up, looking super cute like this:

But sadly, it didn't take long to realise that the fondant was far too heavy for me to be able to manage this position, so, Pascal was just going to have to be lying down. Bit by bit, I constructed Pascal's body. Tail (curled), body, feet, and head. With his head and body, once I'd rolled them, I simply pinched a line down the middle to represent the beloved chameleon's appearance (otherwise, it could have easily looked like a green lizard). Once he was set, I glued on his eyes, and painted nostrils and a mouth :)

Once the cake was covered with pink and purple fondant, the next task was creating the plaits. After rolling, and rolling, and rolling out long "ropes" of yellow fondant, I attempted to plait it like I would normal hair (except much, much slower, and with more delicacy, because I knew that if I ripped it, I would have to start all. over. again)...

Once they were made, I attached them to the cake.
One plait at a time.
One for each tier:

Now comes to the time when you need to be a bit flexible with the 'plan'. I did draw flowers on the plaits in the sketch, but it was at this time when placement became essential. There were certain areas of the plaits (mainly the joining parts, but also the parts that I thought looked like a flower to cover it up would be great), so I chose the areas to put a 'bunch' of flowers onto. And as I am convinced that I have some sort of OCD, the flowers, of course, needed to be symmetrical.

I had already cut out "LEXIE" in the same colour fondant as Pascal was made in, and stuck the letters onto the top tier, as per the plan.

I did my best to re-create the sun things from the movie... Perhaps from a distance they looked OK. But as a perfectionist, I knew full well that they weren't - and they were also bigger than what I'd hoped they'd be in relation to the cake, but I suppose people could tell what I was trying to achieve!?

It was time for Pascal to be placed on top of the cake! Husband suggested that I have Pascal's tail curled over the edge of the cake. Knowing (from trying) that the tail would break off if I just glued it on, I stuck a toothpick through it to support it's shape. I was then a lot more confident that it would keep its curly shape on the side of the cake!

And so the finish was in reach!! I just needed to work out how I was going to attach a "5" to the cake, and where. Hmm...

Husband had another idea that Pascal could hold a purple flag with the number 5 on it. I also really liked that idea! So I found some purple paper, drew "5" on it, taped it to a toothpick, and poked it into the cake in the middle of one of Pascal's fingers... Or, toes, really:

If I was to do it all again, first I'd re-consider whether to add a potential fire hazard (the paper flag) to a cake which was going to have candles stuck right next to it!

... And make smaller sun things.
... And have a brighter purple for the bottom tier.
Oh heck, I always think of a long list of things that I could change once a cake is done! All part of the process of experience, I s'pose.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Celebrating new life.

When someone decides to become a Christian, it is a big deal. They've decided to accept God's offer of forgiveness, and be part of a church family.

It is a time for rejoicing and celebrating!

And it is definitely a reason to bake a cake.

This has happened recently in our church. We've had a friend who's accepted Christianity in the opposite way to what you'd expect: she found out about us (church) through a kids holiday program, then came along to our bible study, next joined us (the church) for a weekend away, and then came along to her first church service on Sunday!

It is exciting news when someone close to you decides to change their lives and put their faith and trust in Jesus.

As I pondered what I was going to bake/make for this occasion, I had many ideas. I concluded with a present cake, because salvation is a gift from God, not earned through anything we do ourselves.

It was simple, and apparently both "cute" and "delicious" :)

I chose the verse because it matched the theme of the cake... Or perhaps I chose the design of the cake because it matched the verse...?

Which is (in full - my writing was a bit too big to fit it all onto the cake):

"... But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus."
- Romans 6:23