Sunday, 30 September 2012

If in doubt, bake a cake...

One of my followers on Twitter saw this picture and thought of me.

How very appropriate - my sentiments exactly!

Now, baking cakes isn't going to solve all of life's problems, by any means.  But in our family, a cake brings us together - we create cakes and bakes with the children, getting them involved in the preparation, selecting of ingredients and the mixing.  We share cakes with our family and friends - we invite them over for a cuppa and a catch up over a slice of homemade cake.  Every birthday is marked with a homemade birthday cake - the variety is made as per the specifications of the person celebrating their birthday.  My husband and the children make a cake for me on my birthday each year! 

I have fond memories of baking with my mum as a child.  Standing on a chair, wearing my apron, helping my mum with the baking of cakes, biscuits, traybakes and other sweet delights.  Getting involved, cracking the eggs, mixing, breaking up the chocolate - and always, always licking the bowl, spoons and any other utensils afterwards!

I'm in my thirties now and I'm creating these types of memories for Lizzie.  She helps me in the kitchen, too - we put on our aprons, wash our hands, and bake.  Very little has changed in the way I bake to the way my mum taught me - even the equipment I use and the techniques I opt for, as well as the recipes I favour, are all very similar to the way my mum and I baked in the 80s.

Lizzie loves to be involved and hands on.  And I love to see the pride on her face when she's made something in the kitchen.  Here she is getting to grips with a piping bag.

If in doubt, bake a cake.

Best wishes

My little lady turned 7...

Last week we celebrated Lizzie's 7th birthday.  Wow, 7 years old - how did that happen?!  Blink, and you'll miss it. It's very true indeed; enjoy your children, every day, as they grow up far too quickly.

Last year's birthday cake was probably more technically challenging, but this year's is perhaps more visually impressive!  These are edible rice paper butterflies (I bought them on eBay) and I applied them to the cake using pink royal icing.  Lizzie was certainly impressed - and that was the most important thing.

I made this with vanilla sponge, strawberry jam and buttercream filling, and fondant icing.


6oz self-raising flour (I used gluten-free)
6oz caster sugar
6oz butter
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
vanilla essence

Combine all the ingredients using a hand mixer and add milk as necessary to achieve a smooth, dropping consistency.  Split the mixture between two lined, 8" cake tins and bake for around 25 minutes (I use 160 degrees in my fan-assisted oven).  Once cool, add the filling and then the fondant icing.  Decorate as you wish!

Best Wishes

Monday, 24 September 2012

Saying Goodbye

On Saturday I went to a Saying Goodbye remembrance service at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.  These services are taking place across the country, for people who have lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy or in infancy.

"The services will provide an opportunity to join with others who have experienced a loss, and together we will say: our children did exist, and they may have only been on this earth for days, weeks or months, but they were truly loved, and will always be missed!"

The cathedral provided a truly magnificent backdrop for such a service.  The grandeur of this ornate building reflected the beauty and the significance of the occasion.  

St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh

We were there to remember our lost babies. 

I was there to remember my beloved daughter, Daisy.

I wasn't sure what to expect; having been to only a handful of religious services in my life, I didn't know what would happen or how I would feel.  I was scared that the service would be heartbreaking.  I was worried that I would feel overwhelmed.

The service was beautiful. 

Music and singing filled the cathedral.  The sound of handbells resonated; each chime representing a life lost too soon.  I rang my bell twice; once for Daisy, and once for my friend's baby, Catriona. 

I lit a candle for Daisy.  I watched the light flickering and dancing during the service, amongst rows and rows of candles burning, representing all of our babies.

It was a time for reflection.  I thought of my family, my life, my hopes and dreams for the future.

And I felt comforted.

I am not alone.

Families and couples and individuals, sitting together in the grandest of buildings, each remembering a precious life taken from us.  We were united in our loss.

A common understanding between strangers. 

I felt uplifted.  I felt supported.  I remembered Daisy in a bittersweet way - not with sadness.

At times, losing Daisy feels like a stone weighing down my heart.  After the Saying Goodbye service, my heart felt a little lighter. 

Daisy will never be forgotten; the journey of grief is long and at times the pain is more than I can bear.  But having the opportunity to stand with others who have experienced the anguish of losing a baby, to look into their eyes and see understanding and compassion reflected there, reminded me that I am not alone.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Family Life in Fife continues...

As we progress through our journey of grief, family life continues - and invariably with that, a new routine emerges - and life goes on.  That's not to say that we are forgetting Daisy; far from it.  In fact, I think I may even allow myself to think of Daisy more these days, as it hurts less.  But life does go on, the days and the weeks pass, and life must be lived.  So, Family Life in Fife continues.

I dusted off my cookery books and put my apron on, and did some baking and cooking.  I'm starting to find pleasure in these things again.  I ordered some cheap fabric on eBay and when this arrives, I'll dig out my sewing machine and start work on a new quilt.  The recent drop in temperature signals the change of season and as we move into autumn, my thoughts turn to preparing for winter and Christmas preparations.

I've blogged about these things in the past; it's how the blog started.  It reflects me, it reflects my personality and the things that bring contentment to my life.  My family life continues, and I want to blog about these things again.  My day-to-day antics and ramblings may seem trivial and insignificant in comparison to the sorrow and pain of losing Daisy.  But I don't just want to write about the sad things - I want to write about the happy things too.  And running my home, living my life, being organised and thrifty are the things that make me happy.  If anything, these "trivial" things are more important to me than ever.  Family life, making a comfortable and happy home for my family, spending time with my husband and the children, is more important to me than ever.  One thing that Daisy's death has reinforced in me is how important family life is and how much it matters to me.

So blogging about making fairy cakes with Lizzie may seem like a dull and uninteresting topic - but to me, it's the centre of my world - Family Life.

Best Wishes

My first Sands meeting

Last week I went along to our local Sands support group meeting.  The meetings are held monthly and are there for anyone affected by the loss of a baby to go along and have a chat, to meet other bereaved parents and to obtain support from trained Sands befrienders.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from the meeting, so I went with an open mind.  Almost three hours later, I left with my shoulders feeling a little less heavy and my heart a little lighter.

These were people who knew.  These people, mums and dads, knew and understood the pain and heartbreak of losing a baby.  No explanation was needed - there was a mutual understanding amongst the group.  A collective feeling of "I know how you feel".  Eyes not full of pity - but full of compassion.  How refreshing to feel not quite so alone and to be with people who really did appreciate just what it feels like to lose a baby.

I made a connection with one of the other mums at the meeting and we met up during the week for a coffee. We talked, we cried, we shared the stories of our babies.  Our beautiful baby girls who we miss every day.  I wish I could explain how helpful I found it, to be in the company of another mother who felt the same as me - the same regrets, longing, heartache, fears, hope.  I felt supported.  I felt less alone.

The support I am taking, from all around me gives me strength.  The strength is what I need to move forward - to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Bit by bit, we're picking up the pieces of the life that was shattered, and re-fashioning them into the life we'll live from now on.

Thank you for reading.

Best Wishes