Saturday, 30 March 2013

The day that a perfect man died...

It was a Friday...
Early morning while the sun was still sleeping, Jesus was cheated.
Arrested for no reason but the treason in men's hearts.
And just like that, it starts.

It was an unjust friday...
Six trials, nothing sticking, priests punching, judges kicking, slinging lies
at infinity, beating down on divinity, who by grace didn't speak.
Obedient. Meek.

It was a painful Friday...
As daylight tumbled in whips ripped the skin
of the one who healed a thousand wounds.
The one whose soul was right and true left in shreds
for something he did not do.
It was an ugly Friday...
The clawing crowd when given choice let villain fly in single voice
But when Jesus name was lifted high could find no word but crucify.


It was a bloody friday...
Filled with nails and wood, and a man who did what only God could.
Arms open wide good enough to die for the very people
who hung him out and bled him dry.

It was a dark friday...
A shout to the sky, a spear in the side, two Mary's start to cry.
As angry earth trembles and black clouds swell quietly.

Jesus goes through hell. Dying in our place. Dying well...
On Friday
Good Friday.

How is it a day of such evil and pain ever got the word good in its name?
This day of infamy, human villainy,
when the world showed off its most evil face?

Because there in that blood stained place,
when they pulled the body down like seed to ground,
the author of life sprouted roots of grace,
that would once and for all save the human race.

This victory death, a complete surprise,
as demons and devils with fear in their eyes realized
that once a perfect man died, the law was finally satisfied.
No more striving.
No more trying.
No more guilt.
No more dying.

The man who lived the way we should, died the way only God could.
And that's why we call this Friday good.

The day Christ fell... is the day mercy stood.

So hold your faith, lift your praise, and remember:
As good as Friday is, Easter is still on the way.
Hope Rising.
In three more days.

Friday, 29 March 2013

An Easter hat parade on a budget...

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God
that brings salvation to everyone who believes."
-Romans 1:16
I'm not sure what hats have to do with Easter, but each year, schools hold a 'parade' at this time, and the children are encouraged to make an Easter themed hat to wear, or something to dress up in, or to bring a book about Easter to show the school. I thought I'd share the things we've made for both last year's and this year's Easter Hat Parades.
I may be one of those 'slack' parents who don't really get too involved in things like this, OR spend enormous amounts of money or time on putting bunnies, chickens, and chocolates on hats - because that's just not what Easter is about to us... Easter is about Jesus dying on the cross to save humanity*.

I was incredibly proud of my children for what they decided to make last year (without any input from me) to wear to the parade at their school (which they'd only been going to for about 6 months at the time). So, knowing we needed hats to start off with, I went to a discount shop and bought them each a plain off-white-ish hat.
Total cost: $5 - $10. Can't remember exactly!
It was then up to them to decorate it with whatever they could find from home... I was not against anything to do with bunnies or eggs, if that was what they wished to go on the hat, as I wanted them to be creative for themselves... They told me what they wanted to do, and I was amazed at their ideas. I printed out pictures that they had asked for, and from our craft box, they found coloured paddle pop sticks and pipe cleaners to make the things they wanted on their Easter hats...

This is what they created!**

They each had the true meaning of Easter on their hats - 3 crosses, and pipe cleaner people to represent the people who died on those crosses, with the middle one being Jesus. They had both written notes that I stapled to their hats, which read "Jesus is Alive" on one, and "Jesus is raised from the dead" on the other. My daughter who was 7 at the time requested flowers to go around the shade of the hat, because 'what Jesus did for us was a beautiful thing to do, and flowers are also beautiful'.
I was so proud of their enthusiasm to display the hats they'd created.
This year, my son did not wish to create anything new, and so wore the same hat from last year (which had been sitting at the top of his wardrobe since he'd worn it at the previous parade.
My daughter, however, wanted to decorate a basket we'd found in the shed to carry around for the parade (decided on the evening before the parade!)... So we had to get creative!
With the basket, some water balloons I'd found earlier that day, and a permanent marker, we attempted to imitate a basket full of Easter eggs. She told me what patterns she wanted me to draw on them, the balloon colours she liked, and when to stop. She'd also found a pair of bunny ears to wear on her head (that she was given probably when she was about 3 years old).
Total cost: $0.

When I picked them up from school that day, I had to tell them that I didn't get any chocolate Easter eggs for their teachers (which they'd asked me to get - but I know that teachers get enormous amounts of chocolate at this time of year, but I didn't get my act together quickly enough to make something for them). But again, I was proud of their responses! Along with reassuring me that I'd made the right decision, Ben had been given some Easter eggs (that he got from his friends), to his teachers, and Tamara had given away her water balloon Easter eggs to her friends and teachers.
Which was another relief for me - because there will be plenty of chocolate given and consumed over the weekend I'm sure!
They had both had a great last day of school for the week, and I am ever so proud that these two children (who sometimes fight with each other or their little brother, refuse to eat their food, don't go to sleep on time, battle with me about cleaning their rooms, and occasionally argue with our authority)... Are mine!
*My next post will be more about that, but this one is about our Easter hat parade creations :)
** They look so little in this photo, even though it was taken only a year ago.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A day with our neighbours!

Neighbour. Noun.
Someone who lives near another.
A person or thing that is near another.

Smurf. Noun.
A fictional character; a blue pixie with white stocking cap, from the media franchise,
The Smurfs.

Coming up soon is a national day called 'Neighbour Day'. The official day for this is March 31st (which also happens to be Easter Sunday)... Because our family is a touch too busy with various Easter commitments (as most other people would be) we bumped it forward a week, and organised a street BBQ that we had over the weekend just passed.

With many people bringing foods, salads, drinks, and things to BBQ, I was convinced that there would still be room for some cupcakes!

But what kind of cupcakes?

A good friend of mine recently showed me Smurf cupcakes from Pinterest. They looked super cute, fairly straight forward, and I really wanted to try and make them! ... So in my head, because I knew the BBQ was only a couple of days away, I worked out a reason for how these Smurf cupcakes related to; and why I should make them for Neighbour Day! :)
The Smurfs live in a village, with each Smurf having his own
mushroom shaped house - which look the same from the outside,
but once inside the houses, you notice the Smurfs' different personalities.

So really, when you think about it, they kinda do relate anyway (apart from the obvious blue, pixie, white stocking hat, and magical parts) - we all live near each other, in house shaped houses, with different personalities, in a 'village' type of suburb! Totally makes sense, right?

One thing that the Pinterest site didn't have on it, was step-by-step instructions on how to make these! (though, I guess they did look fairly simple)... But still, I thought I would include what I did anyway.

I used buttercream icing for it all (except the eyes, which I used white & chocolate fudge frosting for), but I do think I read in one of the Pinterest sites that the Smurf's hat was made out of marshmallow frosting... Well, I may have enough time on my hands to make dozens of cupcakes at a moment's notice - but to make super-dooper tricky icing as well? Not this time!

As you can see... My 'Smurf' cupcakes turned out more like squished hermit crabs or something - but you get the idea of what to do and how to do it, I hope? I didn't have the original photo near me when I was icing them (an obvious mistake now that I compare the photos of mine to the photo of the original for this post), which meant the eyes were in the wrong place as well! I'd put them on each side of the nose, instead of on top... Oh well!

I couldn't help but laugh at the majority of these cupcakes (I obviously used the best ONE for the step-by-step photos... Whether it was because of a) the fudge frosting making the eyes gooey, and/or b) having the frosting in the wrong place; all of the eyes looked so droopy! The cupcakes then became  my retarded little squished hermit crab cupcakes, but I loved them because they made me laugh :)

Relating to these 'Smurf' cupcakes that didn't turn out the way they were supposed to look, I was reminded of this article I had recently read about Pinterest.

I am happy that I gave it a go! I love being creative, and my neighbours (perhaps being nice rather than honest) were impressed with them nevertheless.

It's all experience, though, and with each cupcake made (either successful or not), improves skills and ignites creativity. God has given us all different skills and talents - whether it's baking, or poetry, or art - we are all talented and creative differently!

Even the Smurfs are all different (and creative in their own way)!

Cook Smurf is the cook of the village. He always wears his white toque and apron. He bakes delicious cakes and biscuits and knows dozens of recipes by heart.

Some days Poet Smurf walks around for days, smurfing the perfect rhyme. You'll never see him without a quill and a parchment, and most of his poems are about nature.

Painter Smurf is the Picase of the bunch. He often wears a red jacket with a black tie. Painter likes to make experimental paintings that no Smurf can understand. He likes to paint colourful sunsets, and of course his favourite model- Smurfette.

Harmony Smurf loves to play any instrument he can find, even when broken notes come out of them. Harmony is a terrible musician that the Smurfs run away from every time he picks up a musical instrument*.

*Points for giving it a go, though! Anyone else reminded of the saying: "Practice makes Perfect"? ;)

Okay, enough Smurfing around...
Time to get creative and give new things a go.
... Even if they don't turn out quite right!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Harmony Day!

Harmony Day: A day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia their home! By participating in Harmony Day, we learn and understand that Australians from different backgrounds equally belong to this nation.

The message of Harmony Day is: "Everyone Belongs"

On an almost (but not really) unrelated matter: Today in my house, we experienced a rare harmonious morning! There was no fighting, no yelling, no whinging, and everything got done in time for us to actually be ready early for a change! It was uplifting and a great start to the day.

As I thought about it later... Perhaps it was because I was too busy and focussed on making icing, melting chocolate, and getting these cupcakes finished to take to school for the staff - that the kids had no choice but to sort out their own breakfast and make their own sandwiches? And in my focussed state (often losing track of time), I didn't have 'time' to constantly (and loudly) remind the kids of how many minutes there were left until we absolutely had to leave to get to school on time, but rather I wanted to make sure I decorated these cupcakes to the best of my ability, and, by the time I was finished, the kids were dressed and ready to go! :) It was lovely.

Thinking with a friend recently about the idea behind Harmony Day -where we are to love and consider equal all those who live around us, no matter what ethnic background they are from- and it was brought to my mind of how much in line that is with God's love and how that's how he wants us to love! ... As a Christian, the Bible clearly states that we are to love God, and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matt 22:36-40). I think that the message of Harmony Day ("Everyone Belongs") links up with the message of the Kingdom of God... "Everyone is Welcome!"

Everyone (from any nation) is invited to accept friendship with Jesus, and accept the salvation that he offers us through what he did on the cross (a pretty good thing to think of with Easter just over a week away)... It is pretty amazing, and I feel extremely blessed to be a part of an awesome local church family.

Okay, that's my little (but important!) rant - moving onto the cupcakes, though:

I made normal butter cupcakes, but decided to colour them orange... I made buttercream icing, which I flavoured with lemon juice because I was out of vanilla essence... I thought it tasted pretty good! :) ... On a spur of the moment, not knowing exactly what I was going to make this morning when I woke up, I melted some chocolate and decided to make two stick people stand together and hold hands - just like they do in the Harmony Day picture:

Without realising until I placed a couple of the chocolate 'stick people' onto the cupcakes, I noticed that in between the people, with the hands and feet touching, it makes a heart shape! ... If I'd realised this earlier than at the end, I would have been a bit more intentional with the way I drew with the melted chocolate! ... A couple of them worked out nicely, though, like this one:

In Mark 10:15, Jesus says: "Truly I tell you, anyone who does not enter the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." ... So here's a picture of my three children, both normal and crazy, whom I love and enjoy so much every day!

I am so very thankful for three different and loving children, a husband who loves me, the creativity God has given me with cupcakes, Jesus- who believed I was worth dying for, and my rare harmonious start to the school day :)

Happy Harmony Day!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Top o' de mornin' to ya.

Well... Happy St Patrick's Day!

I think I've probably only said it once to a friend this morning, as it isn't really a day that our family makes a big deal out of... We don't dress up in fancy green dress, go out to festivities, drink Irish beer or whisky, or try and find 4 leaf clovers for 'luck'...

But, heck - why not make the most of having a 'green' day, and get creative in the kitchen (my usual way to celebrate occasions)!

I have a green 'shamrock' cookie cutter, that really is the kind of cookie cutter that you can only use for this occasion, so I made some shortbread biscuits, in the shape of shamrocks. With green royal icing, and using (for the first time with royal icing) a piping bag with a nozzle, I piped around the outline of the biscuits.

And then, why not grab a green platter and put some green grapes on it, too :) ... Presentation is an important part of being creative as well!

Now, this next creation, I wasn't going to make... I wanted to, but wasn't going to. I had all the ingredients (minus one), but was trying to be realistic with the time that I had available this weekend, and decided (wisely), that I probably didn't have enough time to do these justice... I may have even promised my husband that I wouldn't make them!

But... Some things were shuffled around, and it turned out that did have time... Just enough time! And the missing ingredient -M 'n' M's- just happened to be on special, so it was clearly meant to be:


I made my butter cake mixture, and just like I did with the rainbow waffles I made yesterday, I divided the mixture into 6 containers, coloured them, and then put them all into piping bags:

Originally, I wanted the whole 6 colours to go into the one cupcake, but (perhaps because I made the same mistake of cutting the hole too big), by the time 3 colours were in, the cupcake was at capacity before I knew it would overflow while baking - so I made the 'cool' version using purple, blue & green; and then I made the 'warm' version using red, orange & yellow :)

With a simple buttercream icing (made with solite to make the icing whiter), 3 green M 'n' Ms, and some leftover green royal icing from the shortbread shamrocks, I made these rainbow, Irish, St Patrick's day cupcakes!

And a close up of the (unlucky) shamrock:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Irish, who?
Irish you a Happy St Patrick's Day! :)

Rainbow waffles!

This weekend, with St Patrick's day on the calendar, I felt inspired to make something colourful to celebrate (as that would pretty much be the only celebrating we would do)!

I had seen 'rainbow waffles' on Pinterest, and well - what other occasion than St Patrick's day would I be able to make rainbow waffles (without having to cater for a bazillion people which is both stressful and time consuming)?

So after the decision to make these on Saturday morning, I made my batch of waffle batter, divided it into 6 different (coincidentally, also rainbow coloured) bowls, and added food colouring (and a bit more, and another bit more) to make the colours bright and contrasting enough...

I prepared 6 piping bags by putting them inside glasses and folding the tops over the edges (I did trim the piping bags so they were smaller, as there wasn't a heap of batter to go in). Then I was ready to have a go at making rainbow waffles!

Attempt #1: I started with purple, as there somehow seemed to be more of that colour; and with the piping bags, used the colours one at a time making circles, getting closer and closer to the middle...

The result was a very thick waffle, with some of the colours merging together and overflowing...

... With the original purple circle underneath!! 

I took a photo of the waffle broken into its designated 'hearts', as I thought it looked pretty cool when you could see the layers of colours in the waffle.

Attempt #2: I didn't have my wonderful husband to take photos of each and every step (in case it didn't work out again!) but I started from the middle of the waffle this time, and then drew circle after circle with the waffle batter, until I reached the end (running low on the blue and purple colours, so they shared the outer circle):

The result:

I was happy that you could actually see all the colours on this one!!

The tricky part of these was that there's just so much waffle batter, which made the waffles really thick! If I try these again in the future, I will cut a smaller hole in the piping bag to hopefully ensure a smaller and more precise rainbow :)

All in all, though, these were fairly easy to make! My kids loved eating them for breakfast, and now knowing the mistakes that I made (starting from the outside & cutting the piping bag hole too big), I can see the potential of these being a wonderful success!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Butterflies in my... Tummy!

I like butterflies... Sometimes, butterflies remind me of one of my youngest son's (current) favourite book: The Hungry Little Caterpillar... But most of the time, they just make me smile when I see one fluttering by as I'm walking swiftly, usually to get somewhere in a rush because I'm running late due to various reasons/children... Their wings and weightless appearance often inspire me to stand still for just a moment and take a fresh breath of life...

Unless I'm really in a rush, in which case I don't often pay that much attention, and their presence is gone within a few seconds anyway!

This week, completely unrelated to those feelings towards butterflies, and more related to a huge amount of shortbread dough I had left over after making Omnitrix ones for Jonathan's birthday, I made some butterfly shaped ones :)

With coloured royal icing and some silver cachous, I decorated them,
making up what I did and where I put icing/cachous as I went along:

Sticking with a pink and purple theme (probably chosen because I had pink and purple silicone cupcake moulds - clearly a well thought out and totally non-spontaneous idea), I made some matching cupcakes, because I wanted to make those as well (initially, the cupcakes were going to have chocolate butterflies on top, but in the rush that I was in that afternoon -funnily enough- I ran out of time to properly make them), so instead, I drizzled some white royal icing on top of the piped pink and purple icing :)

Stay tuned for the chocolate butterfly cupcakes that will appear on this blog...

... Eventually! :)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

He's no ordinary kid, he's Ben 10.

When my eldest kids (now 9 & 8) were 2 years old, they watched TV shows like Play School, Sesame Street, Hi 5, and the Wiggles...

My youngest at 2 loved... No... Obsessed over shows like Spiderman and Ben 10... The fazes swung from one to the other, but has currently been on the Ben 10 faze for at least the last month. Well, today is the day that he is no longer 2. Today is my little Jonathan's 3rd birthday! And it felt right to make some Ben 10 related edible items to celebrate :)

With the Omnitrix in mind, I made some short bread biscuits... Then using green royal icing, silver cachous, melted chocolate, and chocolate fudge frosting, I did my very best to recreate the thing my little Jonathan would (almost daily) pretend he has on his wrist as he raced through our house, making sound effects, and claiming to be turning into the various aliens that Ben 10 turns into on the show that he asks to watch as soon as he wakes up every morning...

Ah, the joys of children and their obsessions!

It is amazing that even at such a young age, when you wake a child up and tell them that it's their birthday, they straight away ask where their presents are! ... Clever kids.

I'm not sure whether to be encouraged or dismayed when I showed Jonathan the Omnitrix biscuits that I'd made, and he said "Ohh, cupcakes!"

He must know about my obsession as well ;)

Happy 3rd birthday, Jonathan!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

So you're from Canada, eh?

This week I've been thinking of friends of ours who live in Canada, and decided to spontaneously make Canadian themed cupcakes!

With a traced and cut out picture of a maple leaf, I rolled out some red fondant, and cut around the maple leaf picture a few times... I'm sure you can get maple leaf cookie cutters, but this creation was a bit too spontaneous to drive to a cake shop and look for one!

With a solite buttercream mixture (to make the icing a bit whiter.), I piped icing onto the cupcake, and then placed one of the red maple fondant leaves on top :)

I wonder if there's white on the Canadian flag
because of all the snow and ice (hockey)...?

If I was to re-create these, and spend a bit more time thinking of what to make - I'd either make red velvet cupcakes OR somehow figure out or look up a maple syrup flavoured cupcake/icing creation...

Perhaps on the day when my Canadian friends can actually taste the cupcakes I will be more creative with flavours :)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Need more sleep?

I'm certain I'm not the only person who feels sluggish and tired on a Monday morning, whether it's because weekends are jam packed full of family adventures, parties, late nights, and hanging out with friends, or perhaps because there's a baby in the house, and a decent night's sleep is still a bit out of reach...

Well, for yet again another Monday morning needing potentially a whole extra day to sleep just to catch up on the weekend, and to possibly imitate the way I feel on Monday mornings (especially today), I made some 'Sleepy Cupcakes' :)

With melted white chocolate, I traced a dream bubble and some 'ZZZZ's onto baking paper... To get the 'icing' dark like a night sky (or perhaps it was because I was too tired to make actual chocolate icing?), I piped Nutella onto the (choc chip) cupcakes:

Happy sleeping! :)

Friday, 1 March 2013

EYE see you...

Eyes are pretty amazing parts of our body...

Researching some facts about eyes recently, some interesting thing's I've found out include:

- A human eye ball weighs approximately 28 grams.
- Our eyes stay the same size from birth.
- The average person blinks about 12 times per minute
- A shark's cornea is similar to a human's cornea, and so has been used in eye surgery.
- People (generally) read 25% slower from a computer screen than from paper!

On that note, I will continue!

This term at a play group I attend, we are learning about different parts of the body. This week (if you hadn't worked out yet) we learnt about the eyes! Of course, with a working oven again, I shot my hand up for the opportunity to make cupcakes!

With eyes as the theme, I wondered how I could make eyes on a cupcake... Then, it occurred to me that perhaps a single M 'n' M, with some chocolate fudge frosting could work!

Step by step, here's how I made them:

And of course, my daughter having a bit of fun with her food:

EYE can still see you!