Monthly Archives: January 2012

Why I love the Super Bowl

I am not a football fan and I don’t think I have ever watched a Super Bowl.  However, it seems that this year the Patriots are going to be playing in the Super Bowl and a whole lot of people have been visiting my blog looking for cake decorating ideas.  So, I would like to thank the Super Bowl and the Patriots for the extra blog traffic.  Last year I posted about cakes I made for my friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner, which included a football cake and cupcakes representing the Colts and the Patriots.  I included pictures, but not much “how-to” information, so I thought I would revisit that post and help out all the football fans out there.

For the football cake I used the Wilton Wonder Mold pan.  The cake comes out looking like a volcano.  I normally stick a doll in it and decorate it like a princess.  Can you tell I only have daughters?  For the football, I cut the “volcano” in half.  Imagine cutting straight down the middle starting where the lava would come out!  Then I laid the tall pieces down flat on the board and pushed the fat ends together.  If the two halves are not exactly symmetrical, than a little extra carving is required.  Once I was happy with my football shape I used a star tip to put on the brown frosting as well as the white stripes.  I used this tip for a textured look, but smooth frosting would probably work just as well.  Then I used a fat writing tip to pipe the white laces.  The “stars” are fairly tall, so the lacing may take several layers to stand out properly.

The cupcakes were a little more time consuming.  I made the logos a day in advance to allow time for drying.  First, I found the team logos online.  I copied them into Word, adjusted the size and printed them.  I put the printed logo under waxed paper and traced the design with royal icing.  I use Wilton’s meringue powder and follow the recipe on the can to make the icing.  I have not had luck with color flow, so I use my pastry bag to pipe all of the icing and then I go back over the design with a wet paint brush to smooth the icing.  I always make more designs than I will need to allow for breakage.  On game day, bake and frost your cupcakes, and carefully peel the logos off of the waxed paper to transfer them to the cupcakes.  The easiest way to do this is to pull the paper down off the edge of a table and the logo should pop right off.  I wish I had a picture of this process, but I never thought I would be writing a tutorial like this.  Next time I do this I will take pictures.  I promise. 🙂

I hope this is helpful to all those football fans out there.  Enjoy the game and your festive cakes!

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Too Much of a Good Thing

Chapter four of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World is full of stories about knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no”.  Taking on too many projects is never a good idea even if they are all worthwhile projects.  Weaver mentions that she likes to jump into ministry whenever she feels passionate about a project, but sometimes all God really wants her to do is pray for the right person to step up and take on that project.  She says that taking on a job that was not intended for her causes her to feel stressed out and is probably robbing someone else of the chance to be blessed by that responsibility.

This idea is what struck me most in this chapter.  It is easy for me to identify what I am passionate about in terms of ministry, but it is not always easy for me to know what I should do about it!  I have two big examples from my own church experience that illustrate this point.  More than anything it shows that I really don’t know what I am doing and desperately need to learn how to seek God in these decisions.  I believe that Weaver will be shedding more light on this later in the book.  Let’s hope so!

Example #1.  I attend a very small church, and it is hard to get children’s programs up and running.  This is my number one interest in ministry.  I love working with the kids and I think I am good at it!  I decided to start a Vacation Bible School one summer a few years ago.  The first summer went well.  It was a good first run.  We had fun and learned a lot about how to improve the program for the following year.  The second summer was awesome.  We had a bigger group of kids and everything ran smoothly.  We even had a great response from the congregation at the end of the week.  I had people asking if they could be volunteers for the next summer.  I was very excited about the response and doing it again the next year.  The third summer nobody signed up.  There was little to no interest from the kids or the volunteers.  I have no idea what happened, but we haven’t had a summer VBS since.

Example #2.  My husband and I tried to start a young families group at our church.  The intent was to build relationships among the young kids, so they would be excited about getting together as a youth group as they got older.  We have a problem with teenagers disappearing at our church, so we thought this might be a fun solution.  It started off great.  Everyone loved the idea and we had a good number of people coming to our monthly events.  But like the VBS program, this fizzled out.  It was much more gradual, but with the same result.  The group is no longer meeting and we are left wondering what we are going wrong.

Today I don’t have answers.  Only questions.  This chapter made me think about my place in the church and what jobs I should and should not be taking on.  Hopefully as I keep reading and learning how to seek God’s will I will come up with some answers!

Victory Over Anxiety

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Chapter three of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World deals with worry. We all worry and I am not going to bore you with my laundry list of worrisome topics.  I like that Weaver ends this chapter with some tools to help overcome worry.  She doesn’t say, “worrying is bad and unproductive so stop it!”  She gives some practical applications based on Paul’s words in Philippians.

First, she tells us to turn our anxious thoughts into prayers.  No matter how small the worry, it is never too small for God.  Sometimes I think that I am worrying about something far too silly to bother God with, but I need to change my thinking because all my concerns can be brought to God.

My oldest daughter is in fourth grade and sometimes I worry about the friendships she is building at her new school and how she will handle the meanness that sometimes comes out in girls at that age.  She is younger than most of the kids in her class and she was homeschooled for the last two years, so this year has been a big adjustment for her.  However, if I am going to follow Paul’s advice I need to change my train of thought.  On days that I a start to worry about her, I should turn my worry into a prayer. “Lord, give my daughter the wisdom to build good friendships.”  The next step is to praise God and give him thanks when my daughter comes home glowing about the  fun day she had at school.

This is one simple example of turning worry over to God, but it is easy to see how this can apply to so many areas of my hectic life.  By turning worries, big and small, into prayers our focus turns to God.  This reminds me of the verse in 1 Thessalonians that tells us to “pray without ceasing”.  I have always wondered how that is truly possible, but I think this is a step in the right direction.

Motivation: How I Get my Kids to Behave

Okay, so this title might be slightly misleading.  It’s an attention grabber though, right?  My oldest daughter is eight years old and we have spent most of the last eight years trying to figure out how to get her to comply with our rules and be a productive member of our family with the least amount of whining, screaming and talking back as possible.  We have always felt that our downfall was not finding the right “currency” to motivate her.  She just doesn’t care about things that other kids care about.  If we take away TV she happily reads a book.  If we take away all of her toys (yes we have done this) she happily reads a book.   If we take away her book she happily stares at the wall like it’s the most interesting thing she has ever seen in her life.  We have also tried having her work towards earning outings, toys and privileges.  This rarely works.

A few weeks ago I think I finally hit on something we can use to our advantage.  Sibling rivalry.  The annoying “not me”, “she did it”, “it’s her fault” business.  I found a way to use this to our advantage.  I noticed that the girls were incapable of using a toothpaste tube without making an enormous gooey mess.  I taught them how to do it properly as well as how to clean up the mess when they didn’t do it properly.  I just could not get through to them because they were too busy blaming the mess on the mysterious “not me” person that lives here.  So, I bought two brand new tubes of toothpaste.  I wrote their names on them and told them that I was going to find out once and for all who was making these messes.  They were thrilled!  Finally they could prove that the other sister was the messy one.

The result.

 

 

 

 

Two perfectly clean toothpaste tubes.  One small victory for mom!  How else can I use this to my advantage? Have you tried similar strategies?

Distraction, Discouragement, and Doubt

I realize that this is not a very cheerful title for a blog post, but it is the theme in chapter two of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. The chapter starts out discussing how life is not fair, so I guess I jumped the gun last week when I wrote about that in relation to chapter one.  If you missed that post see Mary vs Martha to get caught up.

Chapter two seems to be geared towards busy moms.  Weaver is pointing out tools that Satan uses to disrupt our walk with God.  It makes a lot of sense, but is kind of scary to think about.  If distraction is step one, then I am in trouble right off the bat.  It is so easy to be distracted by things that are important, but can become all-consuming.  My list of important distractions would include taking care of the kids, keeping up with chores, running errands, and making time for friends. Not as important distractions might include e-mail, facebook, and checking my blog stats!  Step one: guilty.

Step two is discouragement.  Once we are completely distracted by our busy lives we can quickly become discouraged.  I think this is especially hard when we see value in all of the things that we are doing that keep up so busy.  Martha felt the same way.  Anything that makes us too busy for God is bound to make us feel discouraged.  I can definitely relate to this.  I am often discouraged when I feel that I have done all the “right” things, but can’t seem to get ahead.  We work hard, but the bills keep piling up and it’s hard to find any money for the savings account at the end of the month.  We try to teach or kids manners, but they continue to do some gross things at the dinner table!  Both of these things are discouraging, so I’m guilty again.

Once we are distracted and discouraged it is easy to see how the next step can be doubt.  If I work hard at good things in life and end up feeling discouraged, then I start to doubt God’s faithfulness and forget his promises.  As depressing as all of this sounds, it’s a good reminder of how Satan works to mess up our lives.  Once we are aware of it we can work to avoid that path. I am sure this is where the “Mary heart” comes in.

What Your TV is Telling You

I have always been interested in commercials.  Well, not the commercials themselves, but their strategic placement on television.   The type of show you watch and the time of day you watch TV determines the type of commercial you will have to endure.  If you watch shows geared towards children you will get to see the hottest toy/doll/action figure on the market.  Daytime television offers a wide variety of career and parenting advice and don’t even get me started on the sports channels.  Yuck!

Yesterday, Monday, I was watching TV in the middle of the day and a couple of commercials caught my eye.  They were back to back commercials geared towards parents.  No surprise there.  The first was for diapers that you slip on like underwear, but this was not a commercial for Pull-Ups.  These diapers are not meant for children who are potty training.  These diapers were advertised for “squirmy babies” or babies that would rather be playing and crawling away than having their diaper changed.  Next up: PediaSure.  I have used a similar product with my kids when they were sick or we feared they might be dehydrated.  But this is not what the commercial was telling me about.  Apparently, PediaSure is great for picky eaters.  If your child refuses to eat healthy food, then you give them this tasty drink.  No more fighting!  No more worrying!  Your child will grow up healthy and strong!

What is wrong with this picture?  What happened to parents being in control of their children?  Of course babies are squirmy and don’t like to hold still for a diaper change!  I also realize that a lot of kids tend to be resistant to healthy or new foods.  I really don’t think this is an exaggeration, so stay with me here.  If we teach a baby/toddler to hold still through a diaper change, which honestly isn’t all that long, then maybe we can also teach them to eat their vegetables.  My poor kids had to do these things.  I also make them clean up their own messes and do their homework when they get home from school before watching TV.  Actually, most weekdays they don’t watch TV at all.  *Gasp*  I know, I might be asking too much.  I might be a “tiger mom”, but it’s time that parents take back the control of the family.  Are you with me?

Mary vs Martha

This week I finished the first chapter of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World  by Joanna Weaver.  I hope to read one chapter each week and write a little about it each Friday.  I do not plan to summarize or review this book.  I will just share my reflections on each chapter.  If anyone else out there is reading this book I would love to read your thoughts on each chapter as well.

When Jesus arrives at Martha’s home she runs around the house making preparations for him and his disciples.  When she realizes that Mary is not helping her she runs to Jesus to complain.  Mary is at his feet listening to him and Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better thing to do.  This seems to be a lesson in priorities.  We should be putting God first in our lives and not let the daily distractions get in the way of what is important.  Jesus makes this quite clear.

However, when I read this story, I cannot help but think of how this made Martha feel.  Talk about sibling rivalry!  Martha is working her tail off for Jesus and his disciples while her sister is just sitting in the other room enjoying the visit.  That’s not fair!  This story reminds me of the prodigal son.  There is such a celebration when he returns home.  But what about his brother?  His brother was faithful to his family and always worked hard, but there was no party for him.  That’s not fair!

Life’s not fair, right?  That’s what we tell our kids.  What if life was fair?  What if we got what we deserved and gave up grace and mercy?  It can be easy to wish that on someone else, but we certainly don’t want it for ourselves.  Poor Martha had to swallow her pride and realize that she was missing out on an opportunity to sit with Jesus.  I would like to believe that she handled this situation gracefully and joined her sister without bitterness.  To me this is a harder lesson than putting your priorities in order.  Life isn’t fair and we should be very thankful that it isn’t.

Something to Blog About

I decided to add a new category to my blog for 2012.  Until recently I belonged to a small book club.  We met about once a month and talked about books and our families.  I really enjoyed the variety of books that we read as well as the time to get out of the house and have adult conversation.  Unfortunately, our group has stopped meeting.   As our kids are getting older and more involved in activities we are finding it difficult to schedule meetings.  I am not sure when our last meeting was.  Last summer maybe?  I do hope our group is able to start meeting again, but for now I will blog about the books I am reading.  I would love to hear from people reading the same books, so please leave comments.

I just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  The story focuses on a young, war-time, author who interviews members of a book club that  formed as a cover story for a group that was caught meeting after curfew.  She begins to form relationships with the people in the group and eventually makes her way to Guernsey to meet with them face to face.  I heard that this was a popular book club pick, so I am curious to hear from people who read it as a group.  This is a fast and easy read with an entertaining plot.  However, I did find it fairly predictable and I am not sure it could be discussed at great length.  It reminded me of the novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.  Both are epistolary novels and deal with some heavy topics in a fairly lighthearted way.  I will admit, however,  that Dunn’s novel is much more difficult to get through.  He deals with the topic of censorship and totalitarianism as actual letters of the alphabet begin to disappear from the book.  It makes for some challenging reading, but it is a fun and unique novel.

Next up: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.  I read this book about six years ago, but I am ready to read it again.  It’s a devotional based on the story of Mary and Martha and how they responded to Jesus when he visited them in their home. (Luke 10: 38-42)  I plan to read the first chapter this week.  Feel free to join me!

Happy New Year

Today is the last day of winter break for the kids, which means that tomorrow is the first potentially productive day of the new year.  I am hoping to write more for my blog this year and not just about cakes.  I am also going to host my first give away thanks to the generosity of my brother.  Details coming soon and you don’t want to miss it!

I am not big on making new year’s resolutions, but I am excited about the one my five year old daughter made.  She is going to do her chores without being asked.  Apparently, this was inspired by a speech given by the principal of her elementary school.  Before the kids went on break they were all told to help out at home and do chores without being asked.  Have I mentioned that I love this new school?  I don’t know how long she will be able to keep this resolution, but I look forward to her efforts. I should also mention that my eight year old goes to the same school, heard the same speech, but made no such resolution!  Oh well. 

Happy 2012!