Hello everyone. For all of my friends in the UK, I hope you’re having a lovely Mothering Sunday. It’s funny how time changes things. When my kids were little, I got breakfast in bed at the crack of dawn — with much excitement and chaos in the kitchen!
As they got a bit older, and we moved to the UK, I then got sheepish looks, and “Oh, we didn’t really forget about Mother’s Day — we actually planned something for American Mother’s Day.” And of course, by the time American Mother’s Day rolled around in May, there was nothing to help them remember…. Then last year, they got organised again, and took me out for breakfast with my eldest’s boyfriend’s mum and nan, which was really lovely.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this year, but the boyfriend’s family was heading off at 9:00 a.m. to spend the day touring around Winston Churchill’s house, Chartwell. Thankfully, my eldest saw sense and decided that was far too early for the likes of us, so I got to wake up in my own time and spend the day in my sewing studio, whilst the offspring slept until noon — so we all got what we wanted.
As you can see, my lovely kids came up trumps — even while keeping to a typical teenage schedule! When they finally made an appearance, they made a quick trip to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for a delicious dinner of steak & chips, with a bit of spinach on the side. And they even had time in the afternoon to whip up these scrumptious Chocolate Cupcakes for dessert.
You’ll never guess their Secret Recipe — Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake Mix! I’m not being paid to say this, but you can never go wrong with Betty. I’ll never forget going to my Aunt P.’s house when I was a teenager, and eating the most delicious chocolate cake ever. It was moist and light at the same time. Aunt P. favoured another brand of box cake mix, but she revealed the most important secret, which I had passed onto my kiddos — follow the instructions precisely. I mean, if the box says “Mix for one and a half minutes,” you use the very handy stopwatch function on your smart phone and mix for exactly 90 seconds people!
I must admit, as much as I love to bake, there are simply times when it’s going to stress me out, rather than bring a smile to my face. A few years back, I was invited to a breakfast party to watch the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton & Prince William on TV. My lovely friend knows I love to bake, and asked me to bring blueberry muffins — a very traditional American breakfast food. Unfortunately, she failed to realise that I had never in my life made blueberry muffins.
Still, undaunted, I thought it was a great time to learn how to make them — during the week before the party, whilst working a full-time job 12 hours a day. Unsurprisingly, my first batch was a failure, and I didn’t have time to make another trial batch before the party. When I got home from work the night before the party, I went out to buy fresh blueberries and other supplies for my second attempt (which I would have no choice but to take to the party). Then, while walking through the baking aisle, I noticed that they had a Betty Crocker Blueberry Muffin Mix. Hmm, maybe I could buy one box of Blueberry Muffin Mix — just in case I failed in my second attempt to bake them from scratch?
Well, by the time I got home, I had decided to save the fresh blueberries for another day and just bake up the Better Crocker mix to take to the party — easy peasy, and I didn’t get stressed out baking until all hours. Nevertheless, the next morning, I was a bit nervous and embarrassed for everyone at the party to discover my secret, because they know I do a lot of baking. Can I just tell you, the muffins were Devoured in short order, with lots of people asking for the recipe.
By then, I realised it wouldn’t matter how I made them, so I said, “Sure, I’ll give you the recipe. Go to the baking aisle, and look for a Betty Crocker mix — but follow the instructions precisely!” No one cared that they weren’t made from scratch — they just enjoyed the muffins, and were so pleased to discover that they could easily make the muffins at home for themselves.
So here it is, the Real Secret to Success in Baking and Making, and in Life: we need to be gentle with ourselves — as gentle and kind as our friends are to us. We need to realise that as great as it is to bake and eat homemade Blueberry Muffins from scratch, it’s just as good not to wear yourself out when you’ve had a long, tough week. Know your limitations, go easy on yourself, and everyone will still have a lovely time and enjoy what you’ve made. You can always perfect the Blueberry Muffins from scratch at the weekend, when you have more time (like I did afterwards), so that you’re able to whip those up for the next party!
Oh yes, and always follow the exact timing instructions for mixing a box mix! I would say always follow the directions in a recipe generally, but really, even in baking, I use recipes as kind of a guide, rather than an edict, so this one’s really specific to box mixes!
What could be better — scrummy Devil’s Food Cupcakes, a hand-painted Mother’s Day card, gifts covered in Liberty Tana lawn fabric, all resting on a piece of Anna Maria Horner fabric.
Isn’t it funny how kids (even when they’re taller than us and at University) know things like that instinctively. My kids produced a quick, simple meal without stressing, but which we all loved and enjoyed. And those Devil’s food cupcakes were divine — light and moist, perfectly complimenting the rich, dark chocolate icing, and just like I remembered from my childhood.
By the way, my darling progeny also came up trumps with a beautiful, hand-painted card (left in the photo) and a couple of lipstick holders from Liberty (which I’m also not getting paid to tell you about). These little beauties are covered with gorgeous Liberty fabrics — that favourite of quilters. Inside there’s a tiny mirror, and a leather lined space to hold your lipstick — just perfect for putting on my lipstick when I’m standing on the platform waiting for the train in the mornings.
I have to say that this one was of the best Mother’s Days Ever! They even managed not to have a single argument or screaming match all day, which I think maybe set a family record. Though I am slightly worried that perhaps there is now a jagged rip in the space-time continuum as a result of such a cataclysmic and unprecedented event. Still, there’s always tomorrow to repair the damage by reverting to normal behaviour….
I’m sure your kids are never so uncivilised, and I know your Mother’s Day was (or will be) just as delightful.