Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Diet starts (again) next week!

Everyone has that one weakness when it comes to food, right? That thing that you "indulge" in occasionally? Or... maybe a bit too frequently, if you're like me?

Well, perhaps for my own mental record, but more because I didn't realise that my list of food I indulge in had more than one thing on it, I wanted to write down the specific food items that I cannot buy... without devouring it all within 24 hours.

1. Tim Tams, but only Double Coat, and preferably chilled.
2. Cadbury's Marvellous Creations ice cream, but only Jelly Popping Candy Beanies.
3. Cadbury's Chocolate, but only Black Forest.
4. Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but only Couch Potato.

So, not only am I a snob for expensive brands, I'm even a snob within the expensive brands! I can still quite happily enjoy other flavours of these things, but these are the ones that I just cannot stop eating!

Each time I buy these things, though, I do it only because I've somehow convinced myself that I won't eat it all so quickly, and that this time I will display incredible self control and prove Husband wrong, because he tells me that I have none.

But each time, I somehow desperately scramble at the end of the day to hide all the empty packets and quickly take the rubbish out, so that I can pretend that I didn't even buy them in the first place, and hope that Husband wouldn't spy the wrappers in the rubbish.

I am hoping that as I write this list down (making it totally official because it's on the internet), I will STOP BUYING THESE THINGS!

My wallet and waist line will certainly be happier if I do.

On a related matter, as I say that I'm trying to lose weight (and really want to also, despite eating through my entire list already this week), this photo always amuses me:

... Diet starts again next week!

Do you have a food item (or list) that you indulge in, and can't stop eating as soon as it's been opened??


Upon seeing this photo, Jonathan (4) asked if the girl in the photo was my friend. I said she wasn't, and asked why? He said that he didn't want her coming over to our house, because she would steal all of our food, and because he wants those chips.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Last day of school!

Today was the last day of Term 3!

While sometimes I stop to wonder where 2014 has possibly vanished to, today I instead decided that it's a great opportunity to bake for the various schools' staff, as a small way to thank them for all that they do during the year... It also helps to distract me from reminiscing about the past, and worrying that there's only one term left of school, which means there's only one term left of my youngest being in preschool, which means that next year all of my children will be in the one school, which means I need to buy his school uniform, which means that high school is rapidly approaching, which has more expensive school uniforms, which means that I need to get a job, which means that I will have less time to clean the house, which means that I should probably stop baking which makes more mess to clean up!

It's a vicious cycle.


But because I do have this minor addiction to baking and being creative, I finally attempted a 100s & 1000s cake for the school staffroom. 

It was tricky, it was messy, there's 100s & 1000s all over my house; but it was definitely worth the experience, and I'm pretty sure there were no complaints from the school office about being my guinea pigs whenever cake is involved.

Initially, I wanted to make a miniature bunting to go across the top of the cake, with the words "LAST DAY OF SCHOOL", which would have looked really cute, but I ran out of time... We were already late to school when I'd settled with rushed scribble on a plain piece of paper taped to some wire.

And because I have anxiety and didn't want anyone to feel left out or think I was purposefully forgetting about them - I made cupcakes for Ben's class, Tamara's class, and Jonathan's class. Matching the cake, of course ;)

After filling up multiple trays with mini cupcakes topped with 100s & 1000s, there were 8 leftover that I wasn't sure what to do with... I could have had them for breakfast, but instead I added them around the cake :)

The "ooh"s and "ahh"s at school made me feel better about it's many flaws that I knew were there, but was unsure of how to fix in a really short amount of time. Nevertheless, there were certainly many smiling teachers' faces, thanking me at the end of the day when I collected my children from school in the afternoon... But, perhaps that had nothing to do with cake, and everything to do with it being the last day of school, and I was taking children away from them!

Finally, because sometimes I like to pretend that I'm, you know, tall, I took a photo looking down onto the cake:

Happy last day of school!

Have a great break from packing lunches every day :)

Thursday, 4 September 2014


So, it's official. I've been seeing a therapist.

Turns out I really do have anxiety.

I'm not sure if I ever had an image of what a therapist should look like... If I did, it would probably be Hollywood's version of what a therapist should look like.

When I was referred onto a therapist a couple of months ago, I wasn't really sure what to expect. If I was to use the knowledge I've gained from movies, there would be a wall of books, a reclined bed/chair, plants, and a big window overlooking a city in an enormously spacious room.

And a older, bearded gentleman with a notepad.

There'd also be some meaningful chin stroking and regular "So how does that make you feel?" questions, as if I actually had the ability to analyse my life and emotions, figure out the reason I needed to see a therapist in the first place, jump up, thank the bearded man, and leave with my new-found outlook on life.

But if all of that didn't happen (which it didn't, by the way), I was at least expecting some answers. Answers that would identify deeply rooted childhood issues that I've been afraid to deal with, or didn't even know were there! And then a plan of action to deal with them.

Failing that - drugs.

My therapist's room was actually a little bit disappointing. There was no reclined bed/chair, there was no wall of books, the room was as small as my bathroom, and there was no window overlooking the city. And no prescription pad to scribble down my desperate need for drugs.

There was a notepad, though.

If you're a parent, then you'd be used to having to come up with various consequences for your children's actions. Whether it's a smack, the loss of an electronic device, being sent to the corner for time out, or money for the next bus; there's always reactions to things we do. Children can quite quickly work out that if their iPod is taken away from them right after they've been sprung playing on it without permission at 9 o'clock at night, then it's because they broke the clear "no iPods in bed after 8" rule.

And hopefully they'll learn better next time, though I'm pretty sure they won't.

In a different example, I know that if I have coffee after 5pm, it takes an extremely painfully long time to fall asleep, and I wake up super tired the next morning (not that it stops me - I love coffee)...

Because things like that make sense!

I suppose going to therapy, I assumed I'd walk out with some answers like, "You react like that because you have abandonment issues", or "Because your dog died", or "Because you overcooked the pasta."

Heck - I'd even be happy with a "You react that way because you're female!"

Like how it is in Hollywood, I wanted someone (a professional that is, not a crazy semi-naked drunk dude on the street) to pinpoint the moments in my life that destroyed and shattered my mind's ability to remain calm in any situation.

Instead I am left with no answers (maybe because there aren't any 'moments')... Just a handful of exercises to learn and practice when I start feeling anxious.

If I've learnt anything about anxiety lately, it's that people don't really know what it entails. It's not something that you can shake off like a cold or flu. It's not something that I will feel comfortable sharing every minor detail about it with everyone I know. And it's not something that will magically disappear after chatting over coffee.

It's also not my fault, it's not my fault, it's not my fault.

The good news, though, is that I have a few ideas for you to support a friend who suffers from anxiety!

... But it'll have to wait, because I'm afraid we're out of time.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Stacks on!

A good friend of mine recently celebrated her 40th birthday.

A few weeks before the party, her husband had secretly asked me to make a cake for the occasion. Knowing that her favourite colour is purple, her favourite food is chocolate, her favourite animal is the zebra (though I hear it's a bit chewy), and her favourite thing to do is ballet (well, and paperwork, filling out forms, administration, and highlighting words on said paperwork/forms), I designed something that incorporated most of these themes...

But in the end, stuck to just two - Purple, and chocolate. Which was good, because I'm not sure if a chocolate zebra, wearing a purple tutu, dancing on top of a pile of paperwork, holding a highlighter in a hoof, would have worked as a cake :)

With a week to go until I needed to make the Tiffany's jewellery box cake, I really wanted to nail the 'present' cake. To do this, I may have made multiple square/box cakes, of different sizes, so I had plenty to practice with. And so that just incase some zebras were also invited to the party (and they brought their friends), there'd be enough cake for everyone!

I had imagined that if these cakes would look like present boxes, then I could stack them up like  a pile of presents! Because why limit the possibilities. In their design, they would all have a white ribbon around them, with a big white bow on the top/littlest present cake.

With slightly different shades of purple (because, again, why limit the possibilities), the cake bottoms and lids were all a bit 'mix & match'. And with the technique that I discovered making these (which I repeated with the Tiffany's cake), I covered the sides first with fondant, and then added the top. And, of course, to stick with the theme, I used purple buttercream icing ;)

Here's some of the cakes with their differently shaded purple lids:

As I envisioned them all being stacked up in a messy pile (out of the ordinary for someone with OCD, where everything else needs to be parallel), I added the white 'ribbon' at different points on the cakes:

The top/littlest cake was the funnest to make, because it was the cake there'd be a big bow on top of!

I then hit the point where I wasn't sure how to continue. I knew that the cakes were missing something, even though I wasn't brave enough to assemble them until we actually arrived at the party, and still hadn't been able to see them finished... But what? I had started writing '40' in silver on the ribbon (on the middle of the bottom cake just to see how it might look all the way around the ribbons), but it didn't look right...

So I decided to make stars! Hooray for stars!

I made them in each shade of purple that I'd used (plus a couple more), and white, and wrote '40' on those ones. They were all put on wires, and sat patiently while waiting to be taken to the party so that I could work out exactly which part of the cake I'd stick them into...

Meanwhile, the two bottom tier/present/cakes were filled with many cake pop sticks, cut to size, to be able to support the weight of the middle and top 'presents'. It was going to be a big cake. And, it was going to be a heavy cake.

We soon arrive with all of the cakes. Husband had the great (though at the time, I was convinced it was completely idiotic) idea to lift the cakes up on top of each other using two pieces of ribbon... Ribbon! One of the most easily breakable things in the world, next to elastic hair ties!

Sadly (only because it meant that the entire night was then filled with Husband telling me that "he told me so"), it worked! All the process needed was truck reversing sensor beeps, as it felt like the slowest process in the universe, and I think the earth almost had enough time to spin around itself once more before the cake was actually assembled.

Good thing we were only an hour late to the party :/

So after many "ooh"s, "aah"s, and "oh my gosh, is that really a cake?", it was time to sing Happy Birthday and cut the cake... Which began the next stage of dissembling the stack of present cakes. Flat knives and giant spatulas later, it was ready to be cut :)

And here's a quick shot of what it looked like on the inside:

Happy birthday Liz! :)