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A crown, a cake and 2 clips

February 4, 2014

Some mothers have got ‘crafty’ hands.

I haven’t.

They can sew, ice, create, bake, embroider, knit and create wonderful dishes, art, clothes, decorated delicious cakes and know what things like box pleats are or how to reupholster a chair or even how to pipe icing onto a birthday cake.

I can’t, I don’t and I wish I could, but it doesn’t stop me trying!

I’m not belittling myself, I have (I’m sure) other talents, but those of being a domestic Goddess have eluded me.

However,

for Hope’s birthday (last year, and this year) I was determined to make and decorate her cake. Last year I had to be rescued, a friend made some lovely icing sugar flowers and wrote Hope in tiny flowers for me and supplied a bowl of butter icing after the royal icing I made sank through the cake as it was too wet. This year I tweeted another friend, a brilliant cake maker and she sent me a ‘fail safe’ recipe. I made a Victoria Sponge (infact I made two), Hope helped with the stirring, it baked, we spread butter icing and jam in the middle (home made quince jam) and then smeared it with lovely gooey pale yellow butter cream icing.

All was going well, I scattered the little rice paper flowers I’d bought from Budgens and I then tried to pipe HOPE across the top of the cake. The nozzle end was too small so I took it off, the letters came out orange and with an alarming resemblance to shiny Wotsits, infact they were pretty much the colour of Wotsits (something several so called friends pointed out). I carried on and then realised that the E was too big for the space I’d left for it so had to let the edge of the letter hang over the side of the cake in rather a perilous manner. I should have learnt really, when I was 17 I wrote Status Quo in biro on the back of my denim jacket and ran out of room, it said Status Qu in bad wobbily pen, I wasn’t a cool rocker!!

Hope's cake

Hope’s cake

I looked at my finished cake and wiped icing across my brow (unintentionally). It looked absurd but I did feel proud that I’d stuck with it and managed to bake and ice it all myself (even though it took nearly 5 hours from start to finish!). Hope enjoyed it at the time, everyone else said it tasted lovely, and now Hope looks back on the photos from the day and says, “Hopey’s cake”, “Mummy makey Hopey’s cake”, “cake says Hope”… and that makes me happy and even more pleased I didn’t resort to M&S or a Peppa Pig cake …

My creative ability is also being tried and tested every week when we go to our Parent and Child school groups. I’ve made a lantern, a star, a snowdrop, a snowflake and a gnome all of which faintly resembled the teacher’s creations. Then she announced that because it was Epiphany we had to make crowns for our small folk, from felt. I’m terrified of crafts, of making things, and of sewing, even my brother was better at knitting as a child than I was, crowns sounded seriously scary.

I set to with a blunt pair of scissors and a brown piece of felt. It took me as long to cut the wretched thing out as it took everyone else to cut it out and stitch on the first felt jewels. One girl even created bobbles to go ontop of each of the prongs of the crown. Hope kept wandering over and looking at what I was doing with rather a bemused look on her face. We had to miss week two of crown making so by week three Hope’s chums were pottering about in their wonderful, neatly stitched, imaginatively made crowns while I was doggedly and painstakingly battling with blanket stitch. I went into town last weekend and bought some sewing scissors, some felt, a few bells and a bit of elastic. Every evening while I’ve been giving Hope her evening milky, or after she’s asleep I’ve been making her crown. We’re getting there, and my fingers are toughening up with all the needle jabs they’re getting. I like her crown, it’s much more simple than the others and it makes me feel very pleased when Hope wears it – which she does, for her milky in the evening, for breakfast and for reading her night time story. She loves it, and when she puts it on she always turns round and looks at me and smiles, a couple of times she’s said, ” ‘ankyooo Mummy”, and once she kissed me and grabbed the crown before skipping off singing, “Mummy makey Hopey’s crown” to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus.

Hope's crown

Hope’s crown

Fired up with the success of the crown and egged on by a new friend, the mother of one of Hope’s school buddies, I agreed to a play date where Hope got to play with Felicity and I got to sit with her mother and learn how to stitch, glue and create felt flower hair clips. Poor woman, I think she thought I’d only be there an hour or so. It was some 4 1/2 hours after we’d arrived that Hope and I finally left clutching our two precious hair clips (one that perfectly matches her favourite dress). Hope had a wonderful time singing songs, comparing tummies with and dancing alongside her friend and I really enjoyed my clip making lesson, and the fact that I was invited back to make more must mean that I was forgiven for taking up a whole afternoon! We laughed, we discussed motherhood and I came home this evening feeling more confident in my own creativity than I have for a long time.

Hope's hair clip

Hope’s hair clip

So, there you have it. Crowns, cakes, clips … I’m on a roll!!!

All my creations look very rough and raggedy, but they were made with so much love. I’m sure as she grows up poor Hope will be mortified at times with my inability to create as beautifully as her friend’s mothers, just as I was at times with my own mother’s utterly useless cooking and attempts at needlework, but I always cherished them and look back now on how much effort she put into them for my brother and I and love her all the more for all those burnt crumbles and wonky seams…

and for now, right now, I’ll take Hope’s compliments, the delight, the wonder and the pride that she has in the things I make for her, and I’ll continue making them. Maybe one day it will become second nature to me, I somehow doubt it but you know what, I don’t care, for me it’s all part and parcel of being a mother and it makes me very happy to be able to make anything for her at all! I’m petrified of all the upcoming cake sales, children’s parties and cooking tea for visiting little friends, but I’m sure we’ll manage and at least I know I won’t be getting competitive!

Sitting here now, I’m humming a song by the fabulous English band Squeeze, and the lyrics, “The past has been bottled and labelled with love” keep going round in my head … apt maybe?!

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