Did you see me?!

I was so excited when I spotted a plea for guest posts from the lovely Annie over at Mrs Crafty B. It meant an opportunity to get my Christmas craft on early & totally legitimately!!

I originally had the idea for a 5 crafts for 5 minutes sort of thing. It worked out slightly differently though! We completed 4 over a few days and abandoned 1 completely, not the project’s fault but more not having the right materials, and being abroad so not having the language skills to get exactly what I needed, we were so busy that we took the opportunity of a  half term trip to visit my parents in Italy to get lots of things done and the craft for this post was top of the list.

I was looking for inexpensive ideas for cards to give out to teachers & school friends, (now there are about a billion of them!!), & little homemade gifts she could give to friends………………….

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You can read on here and see how you too can make the sparkly, Christmas wonders you see below!! Come and say hi on Twitter (@pinkpearbear #CraftyChristmas) and Facebook too, plus you can find lots of my photos, (LOTS!), on Instagram my new favourite place! 😀

 

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Pretty pleased with my sparkly improvised snowflakes, can’t beat a bit of sparkle at Christmas!!
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Our Rudolfs. Would definitely look better with paint noses, we used coloured pencils.
I love the snowmen, as you may be able to guess, I added the embellishments to them!
I love the snowmen, as you may be able to guess, I added the embellishments to them!
More improvisation!  My finger print fairy lights!
More improvisation! My finger print fairy lights!

 

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I’m a tantrum survivor. Sort of!

As I sat, white faced, close to tears, next to a pale, blotchy, hiccuping daughter, I tried to work out exactly why what just happened had happened. Believe it or not from that description, no major tragedy had befallen us, no near miss in the car, no death of a beloved pet, we still had all our limbs.

No, all that had happened was that we had just survived a tantrum, not just any tantrum though, not a bit of foot stamping or the lying on the floor wailing business that small boy is so fond of. No, this was a full on screaming, punching, kicking, flailing, sobbing, ‘you’ve ruined my life’ kind of a tantrum. (Yes she really said that, she is five, I have no idea where she got it from!!)

I’m aware that I’m sounding dramatic, and maybe we both have a flair for it, she certainly picked her stage well, a packed square in the centre of a popular Italian town on market day. (We had a crowd around us at one point!) However, I did feel completely drained, emotionally battered and physically shaken up in the aftermath, as if we had both weathered the sort of storm that you see on the news.

We have only had a few of these thank goodness, but each time I feel as though my soul has been slightly pummeled. I end up wondering if it was my fault, if I could have done anything differently, whether I am a bad mother.

There are certain things that I think trigger these monumental melt downs, tiredness being the main offender. I also think that sugar is a contributor, and if there has been a change in routine it doesn’t help and over indulgence and spoiling when on holiday or around birthday time is pretty fatal.

But it is impossible to work out which combination of these will result in the tantrum, if at all, because sometimes she is whacked out on sugar after an exhausting party and is the sweetest little girl.

I wish I had the answers as to how to deal with it. I have tried lots of tactics, the most recent being offering a no-strings-attached cuddle, and then sorting things out and getting the requisite apology when it has all calmed down.

Sometimes it is impossible to get through to her though, when she is so far into it, reaching out to her is just not an option, especially if she is angry and lashing out. This is fairly rare thank goodness, and getting much less frequent as she gets older and I learn how to read the warning signs.

During this last one, I kept calm, remarkably calm, I stayed firm and didn’t back down, I’d told her we were leaving the market due to her behaviour, after having given her several chances to turn it round and her continuing down the same line, and I was determined to follow through with it, even when she started screaming as if she were being kidnapped and the crowd gathered!

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I resorted to threatening to cancel her birthday party and even pretended to write a text to the bouncy castle man to tell him it wasn’t needed! (I know I know but it was a desperate measures situation and I was feeling totally out of my depth and at a bit of a loss.)

I got her away eventually, and managed to find a less public place to sit, she raged on for a bit more, until eventually the rage burned out and we were both left sitting there like tornado survivors.

After it had passed, she was the sweetest little girl again. It was hard to imagine her ever being like that. She is not coping fantastically well with the whole idea of school. She misses me when she is there and feels frustrated that she has to go and we do fun things without her. Which I can completely understand.

She is also exhausted, everything new, so much to do, so much to learn, and I am relieved to say that this was at half term and we haven’t had any incidents anywhere near this scale since, but I know that friends are struggling as well, and now I realise how many of us are experiencing this, it does make me feel better to know that I’m not alone, not that I would wish it on anyone else but it’s nice to know there are others out there who know what it’s like to cling to that emotional life raft in a sea of screaming!

Especially as all the mums I know that are also going through it are wonderful, kind, caring people, and it helps me to see that if we are all in the same boat, maybe it is just that some children are more sensitive to big life changes then others, can’t cope with tiredness as easily, find their emotions harder to understand and manage, and it isn’t the reflection on my parenting that I have been beating myself up about in the aftermath of these tantrum tornados. She is a lovely girl usually, she isn’t badly behaved as a rule, we are nowhere near applying for a spot on a ‘send in a nanny and film us all melting down’ type of tv program, generally she is sweet, polite, funny, helpful, just ever so occasionally, something overtakes her that she has no control over.

So if you are a mama and any of this rings a bell with you you, give yourself a hug from me because it’s hideous and horrible but these days will pass and I’m sure that one day we will be sipping wine and laughing uproariously about how embarrassing it all was.

Just not yet!!

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Thankfully things are more like this between us…otherwise I wouldn’t want to get up in the morning! 😀

 

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My brand new, super exciting story venture!

I won’t say much, as it’s very late, but I was too excited not to share straight away!

I’ve been working on a little story book idea for small people, with accompanying videos. Designed to keep little ones engaged for 5 minutes while you can send an email, phone someone important, or just drink a cup of tea before it goes cold!

Klara and fred title page

I do hope you enjoy.

(Well, mainly your children actually!!!) 🙂

If they like this, please do head over to our website to subscribe to our mailing list and I can tell you first when the new one is out! (There are lots more in the pipeline, this picture might give you a hint to what is coming next!)

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You can also follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for fun, chatter, photos and the latest Klara and Fred news, hot off the press…..or the sketchbook!!

 

 

 

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10 parent-y things I do, even when I’ve left the kids at home! 

This week I got two whole days away from the children, amazingly exciting!

Out! At the theatre. Drinking champagne. Wearing high heels. And a posh frock! So exciting. 😄

Though I quickly realised there are some ‘Mum things’ that are so ingrained in me as a parent that I do them even when the kids are not with me.

Here’s a quick round up;

Travel

1. Packing an activity pack.

2. And snacks.

3. Taking a water bottle. (Such a mum, pay for water?! Pah!)

4. Point out interesting things from the train/car window. Oooh look a tractor! Then feel like an absolute plank. This is 100% worse if you are travelling on your own.

Getting around

5. Wait for someone else to press the button at the traffic lights.

6. Then only cross when the green man tells me I can. Even if the road is completely clear. And everyone else is surging across.

Shopping

7. Spend most of my efforts looking for presents for my children.

8. And saying stuff like; ‘oooh they would love that Lego soldier!’ (Who goes to Hamleys without kids btw?! Me, that’s who!!)

Eating

9. Eating fast. Especially if there is cake. My mentally is firmly stuck on, eat fast and leave or eat fast so I get more then one bite and it is nigh on impossible to shake me out of that. Resulting in me almost always being finished first and waiting impatiently for the people leisurely enjoying their food! Anyone would have thought that meals were to savour and enjoy or something, not purely functional re-fuellings!

Lie ins 

10. Wake up before 7.30am. Like awake awake. Then get up because there is no point in wasting a day.

‘Wasting a day’?!?! I have become a mum cliche!

What would you add to the list?

(Just so you can see how ‘Mum’ I am, here are a selection of my photos from London!)


  

  

  

I did take a couple that were not totally child based too!


  
  
  
  

We just found The Best Place Ever. Officially!

**Scroll down to the bottom for our updated view after a few months of visiting!**

I’m so excited, my friend invited small boy and I to try out a brand new play group in….wait for it….a trampoline park in Gloucester. Oh yes, it really is as amazing as it sounds. On the website they describe ’90 trampolines in 10,000 square feet of bouncing fun’ but we weren’t totally sure what to expect. They have so many different events for all ages, (including a fitness session!), and it is only £5.00 for an hour in there for the toddler session.

When we arrived, we were slightly daunted by the unfinished exterior, there wasn’t that much signage on the building itself to let you know they were open and the board outside still states it’s ‘coming soon’ as it is only two weeks old, but then we saw people inside, lucky really as we’d hyped the boys up so much about it that I can’t think of anything else that would have been an acceptable alternative!!

The unfinished feel does continue inside, with lots of un-plastered walls around the reception area, it feels as if they opened rather in a rush to catch half term, however, look past all that, because once you go through, it’s obvious that the priority went into making the trampoline area absolutely amazing, which they certainly managed!

When we signed in, we were asked some further questions to complete the waiver form that you begin online, then you buy some special ‘grippy’ socks, which are £1.50 a pair, but yours to keep and use for future sessions. We were a bit early, but there is a large spacious area to wait, (and a cafe upstairs), and just before the session starts there is a safety briefing to make sure you know all the rules for keeping safe.

Then you are allowed in and it is so exciting! I’ve never been anywhere like it, there are bouncy surfaces everywhere, it’s hard to describe but there are trampolines set into every surface, including around the walls and every section that isn’t bouncy is padded, which is a relief if you have a fearless small boy like I do, who will quite cheerfully launch himself off anything. There is also a massive foam pit at the end of three long trampolines which is perfect for long running jumps.

Small boy spent quite a while just running around everywhere and collecting up all the balls scattered about, and then graduated to giant jumps into the foam pit, including some ‘walk the planks’ which involved me pushing him in, (or vice versa!), after chanting walk the plank for a bit first.

Then, as he tired, he moved on to playing with the staff are all lovely, I mean really lovely, they were genuinely enjoying playing with the children and a couple of them sat and played with my friends’ baby so she could bounce with her older boy. Then a bit later on, the girls on the reception desk offered to look after him so she could go back in.

It’s really rare to find places where all the staff are so happy to play with the children and seem to genuinely enjoy it and were coming up with games for the children. Normally at places like soft play, it is a bored looking person in the corner doing there best to ignore all the noise!

There are several staff in there at all times, playing with all the children and making sure that everyone is following the guidelines. It all felt very safe and secure, even with small boy demonstrating some flips and giant jumps off some of the platforms. I would actually really like to watch one of the teenage groups because it looks like you can do some seriously amazing stunts in there.

After the session, (an hour flew by but it was definitely enough, small was so sweaty by the end and exhausted!), we went up to the cafe, unfortunately the lift is currently out of order, but one of the ‘green daddies’, (as they have been christened by small thanks to their green t-shirts and easy way with the kids!), offered to carry my friend’s buggy up and we went for a cuppa and a drink for the boys. Pretty basic, a sea of green and purple tables, but with a great view over the whole trampoline park, they serve hot drinks, slushies, a selection of toasties and paninis and cakes. I’m not sure if they did hot food as I wasn’t looking, (rubbish sorry!), but I’m sure there are further details on their website.

All in all, I can easily say that we LOVED it here, and will definitely be back next week! There is nowhere like this that I know of, and for me, the staff made it even better, having a super active little boy, it can be such a relief when you find somewhere where other people are really happy to pretend to fall over dramatically 50 times after small has hit them with a ball! 😀

This is a really photo-less post I’m afraid, we were far too busy to even think about photos, plus all that bouncing wasn’t conductive to keeping a phone on you, but I got just a couple, look at his beaming face after!

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**Update! We have been going almost every week since this post was written and I’m really pleased to be able to say that they have been working really hard  to make real improvements to the look of the place.

The downstairs is totally finished with new coin operated lockers, (bring a £1 coin), the painting has all been done and it all looks fresh and bright.

The toilets, (the womens’ anyway, I can’t speak for the mens’!), are finished now.

The cafe has extended their range of drinks to include joosed fruit juices, capri sun, lots of different cakes, paninis and sandwiches and all the coffees you could ask for, (except decaff-maybe next week! 😉 ) and the party area looks great with screens up to separate it from the main body of the cafe.

The staff have lost none of their enthusiasm for the job and have just as much fun playing with the children as the first time we went, the trampoline area has more soft play pieces and balls and the foam pit has had a major refill, much to the kid’s delight today.

There are lots of plans for new sessions and classes which all sound very exciting, weekend toddler sessions are coming soon and there is talk of classes for the little ones in trampolining and as they get a little bit older, free running. Which I would so love to do but think I’m going to have to live through my son on this one!! 😀

Our experience is only of the toddler sessions so far but there are loads of other sessions on offer, including Fit-tastic which I would so love to try but has been fully booked unsurprisingly! I would also really love to watch some of the free running sessions as I imagine there are some super talented people out there who would be a lot of fun to watch. I’m just scared about small boy getting too many ideas!! 😀

Check out their facebook page for all the up to date news about session times etc and some amazing videos of what you can do if you’re a lot braver then me!!

Go and try it, I’m almost certain you won’t be disappointed! 😀

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Always desperate for the session to start!!

Oh mi gosh, I forgot Dinovember!!!!

Holy macaroni! In the aftermath of ‘The Craziest Weekend We Have Ever Had’ (official title, more to follow in a future post), I completely forgot about something that is possibly my favourite thing ever ever……Dinovember! This is the month where all the dinosaurs in the house come to life in the night and get up to all sorts of mischief. A bit like elf on the shelf….but way cooler!

This will be our third year doing it and as the time went on, family and friends got really involved and started donating dinosaurs to the cause, we even had a few posted to us!

It is so much fun, except when you remember at 11pm and have to come up with something on the spot!

I will be posting them all on my facebooktwitter and instagram and I would love ideas and comments for those moments when my mind goes blank! Come and follow me and join in the fun, I’d love to see piccies if you decide to have a go too! 🙂

Here are a few of last years’ efforts:

  • Escaping the dinosaur box.
  • Dino wacky races.
  • Preparing breakfast..badly.
  • Polishing off the last of the birthday cake.
  • A Dutch boat trip.
  • Welcoming the new Dutch dinosaurs, (we went to Holland for Sinterklaas).
  • Dino disco.
  • Movie night.
  • Going upstairs to visit the kids.
  • Bath time.
  • Fridge raid.
  • Doll’s house takeover.
  • Some new dinos arrive.
  • Dino kitchen utensils band.

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So much fun!!

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The amazing crochet diet!

Sounds totally mental but bear with me, no eating of wool necessary!

I’ve always loved food way too much, the naughtier the better, if it is cream, butter, sugar or chocolate based, I want it. I eat to celebrate, a birthday; ooh cake! If I have had a rubbish day; to cheer me up, cake! If I’m tired; ok, you get the picture!

I was doing pretty well with exercise, I started running in January last year and managed to finish a half marathon in September, I’m not going to lie, I cried, then my legs gave way totally but it has now been a year ago but I’m still dining out on that victory far too often.

I have slightly lost my running mojo recently though, and am feeling pretty unhealthy, my main issue is snacking. I find myself constantly looking in the fridge and picking at bits all day. I have also started finishing my kid’s leftovers which I never used to do. Luckily they are not vegetarian so it’s only the odd veggie meal they have that I can polish off!

Also, my hubby has just taken a photo of me that is that photo, the one that makes you confront all the wobbly bits that you have been trying to block out, that makes you think, aha, that is the photo to go on the cupboard to make me think twice about raiding the biscuit tin. Or maybe in it, so no-one else sees it!!

I now need to loose some weight so that I can enjoy Christmas properly……by eating obviously!

So, something really has to change, and as it is rubbish weather, extra running is looking, if not impossible, a little unlikely, and a diet is no use because the minute I even type the word I want to eat everything in sight! *eats a biscuit*

I now have a whole new idea. Several years ago, I used knitting to give up smoking. The theory was that if I kept my hands busy and my mind occupied, I would be able to resist temptation, I also wouldn’t want my knitting smelling of smoke. Do you know what, it worked a treat, (a non sugary one obviously!). I got more addicted to completing another row, I stopped smoking, and I had a 10 foot long doctor who scarf to keep me warm….perfect for when I started again! (I know, not fail safe obviously, it would take me a few more attempts to give up for good, but it did last a good few months.)

I am now going to apply my theory to food. Evenings are my danger zone, the obligatory 9pm cuppa has been joined by ‘something sweet’, which varies from cake, chocolate or biscuits, depending on how long ago we’ve been to the supermarket. Having a shop two minutes walk which is open until 11pm has not helped either.

So I’m turning to crochet! It looks slightly quicker, (easier!!), and therefore more satisfying , then knitting. It should keep my mind busy and I will get to create some lovely things.

It really seems to be working so far. I’ve made some fabulous, (albeit a bit misshapen!) ,bits already and my snacking is down quite a bit.

My daughter has put in a request for a head to toe outfit for her doll so I do have a lot to keep me going and I have some luscious new wools that have been make being drool more than chocolate fudge cake!

I will keep you updated with how it is going and do please tell me your crafting stories, have you used a hobby to change something in your life? Did it work?

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My very first make. An incredibly dodgy pair of culotte 'leggings' for Mary, big girl's doll!!
My very first make. An incredibly dodgy pair of culotte ‘leggings’ for Mary, big girl’s doll!!
Next day's effort!
Next day’s effort!
My parents found me some gorgeous turmeric dyed natural wool on the market.
My parents found me some gorgeous turmeric dyed natural wool on the market.
My first attempt at a star didn't fare too well, looks like a monster with horns!!
My first attempt at a star didn’t fare too well, looks like a monster with horns!!
It’s official, I am in the grip of crochet fever, we went shopping today and this is the only thing I bought for myself!! Sooooo beautiful, can’t wait to start making bizarre misshapen items to delight my friends and family……!!

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My top tips for flying solo with children!

1. Don’t.😂

2. Visit the doctors in plenty of time to procure some Valium for your fear of flying, only a white lie, it is genuinely a fear, just a fear of flying with children.

3. Pack plentiful snacks. The boxes of raisins will be tipped between the seats upon opening and the one thing they have always liked will be deemed disgusting after two bites. If you are really unlucky, they will be completely unable to swallow the warm and super sticky contents of their mouths and you will not have any tissues.

4. Pack suitable entertainment. Surprisingly, the felt pens in the specific travel wallet were not suitable. We all wish you well in your new life as a high flyer pen lid. You were appropriately, (and dramatically!), mourned for an inappropriately long time.

5. When the trolley comes round, do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the peace and order a hot drink. This will be the precise moment that pen lid-gate will occur. You will choke it down whilst attempting to hold your tray flat as small people batter it from underneath in their search for the tiny and round roll-y item.  There will be a lot of exaggerated crying and standing on each other, making it extra difficult to drink through the gritted teeth you now have.

6. Instead order two wines on the special offer, you can chug these straight from the bottle with no tray needed and minimal spillage risk. They will also help the Valium that you managed to wangle take maximum effect.

7. When booking seats, ‘accidently’ book the children into a row at the back of the plane and yourself at the front. These online booking systems are so complicated aren’t they?! Especially if you do it when testing out the Valium/wine combination at home, for research purposes of course. 😉

It was almost worth the extra grey hairs I now have to get these amazing in flight shots. Perfect for my instagram, where I post an awful lot more photos of my life, come and say hi!  😊

Thanks so much for reading! I’d absolutely love to know what you think and what your number one tips are for flying with children. Proper ones will be much appreciated as well, we have to go back still!!

dragon    

  

Why is it seen as so ok to be unkind to some mamas just because they are famous?

As you may have guessed from my previous posts, I try and be kind and nice and treat others as I would like to be treated, (see, all those hours in church as a youngster weren’t totally wasted Mum!), and there is something that I just can’t get my head around. Why is it seen to be acceptable to abuse celebrity mothers? I can’t think of anything worse then to go through the early days, months, years of motherhood under really intense scrutiny with people from all over the world commenting on your every choice and decision.

I think that the anonymity of the internet is a lot to blame. Would these people walk up to a new mum in the street and tell them that they look fat? Or if their friend manages to loose her baby belly quickly, would they tell her that they think she has an eating disorder?

It seems to be social norm to pass judgement on just about every little detail of a celebrity mama’s life and they should just be so thick skinned that any comment directed at them, no matter how hurtful, should just wash over them without leaving a trace. There are magazines devoted to catching them at their lowest and pointing out their flaws using giant red circles. Can you imagine the outrage if your neighbour snapped you stepping out of the house in your pajama bottoms with unwashed hair and made giant posters circling your flaws, putting them up on every lamppost on your street?

There is no such similar outrage if it happens to someone in the public eye, with some arguing that it is their own fault for putting themselves out there. I just don’t believe it is fair to suggest that because someone is famous they deserve to hear truly horrible things about them or even their children, really personal and unpleasant things that would drive most women, no matter how strong, to doubt themselves and to feel very hurt, especially if the looks of their beloved child are debated over.

If a mother is a model and works unbelievably hard to regain her figure after the birth of her child, forgoing all the cakes and comfort food that most of us indulge in to cope with the sleepless nights and spends long hours working out despite their exhaustion while the majority of new mums are watching hours of Philip and Holly debating the merits of spanx, lying on the sofa in their milk and drool covered dressing gowns, (yes this was me, both times!), surely she deserves respect. And our sympathy, because, cake!

There seems to be a suggestion that because someone is very wealthy, this will somehow make them immune to feelings. That they can pay for a therapist maybe? This seems a very strange attitude to me. It doesn’t matter how much you have, whether your riches are measured in money or material things, possessions or love, anyone can suffer after the birth of a baby, from self doubt, crisis of confidence, feelings of fear, post natal depression. I think there is a very good chance that reading page after page of negativity about yourself can drag the happiest person into a very dark place.

The other argument, they don’t have to read it. Well, for a start, it is pretty impossible nowadays, to avoid information. You go to buy milk and there is a headline of a magazine screaming about your 4 stone weight gain, you pick up your phone and there is a news title shouting about your husband’s alleged affair. Not to mention the hoards of people desperate to catch a snap of you at an unflattering angle every time you step out of the house.

It would also be so difficult not to read a thing about yourself because we all need appraisals in work, we like to know how we’re doing, to receive feedback. Why would that be any different for an actress or a singer. But imagine if your work appraisals were peppered with comments about your physical appearance, the choice you made for lunch, the day you lost your hairbrush and failed at a messy bun.

It leaves me wondering, is the idea that it somehow makes someone immune to hurt if the people the comments are aimed at is reading them in a Gucci dressing gown soaked in milk instead of a Tesco one?

I read an article in a magazine recently about how kindness is something they are bringing back, (shame it had to leave), featuring a lady who felt lost and alone after moving to New York, and so she started writing love letters to strangers and leaving them hidden around the city, from that her blog and website were born connecting people up to write to each other. What a simple and wonderful thing to do. Our words can be such powerful tools for good and unfortunately for spreading bitterness too. If every word that we put out there on the internet was recorded and presented to our children as a book on their eighteenth, surely that would make a lot of people think harder about what they write online.

If all these people hiding behind their keyboards, trying to chip away at others really stopped and considered the pain their words could cause someone, the tears that could create, maybe they would think of the old adage about not saying anything at all when you don’t have anything nice to say.

I’m going to try and be online kind. Who’s with me?!

(With all this nicety I’m going to need to up the running or something, everyone needs an outlet for their inner cow!! 😀 )

bestandworstlinky

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My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. I hate you!!

Just a short one tonight to tell you that I have been traumatised by some lemon meringue cupcakes. It was a while ago now but I’m still not over it.

It was all going so well, I was following a recipe, (which is where it all went wrong I think!!), and I made the batter, hid little spoonfuls of lemon curd in the middle and put it in the oven and made the most perfect, beautiful meringue, my first ever attempt was wonderful.

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Baked the cupcakes for the requisite amount of time, then piped the meringue on, (that bit needs a lot of practise!), popped them back in and the meringue went a perfect light brown and the timer went off.

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They looked a little pale underneath but I thought that might be how they were supposed to be. Until we tested one. (The baker’s prerogative!) It was raw in the middle. Really sloppy raw! It was so gross! So they went back into the oven with tinfoil over to protect that perfect perfect meringue at a slightly higher temperature. To cut a long story short, I was up until midnight, they were overdone and I vowed never ever to follow a recipe so blindly again! I will be trying them again. Just doing it my way!!

I’d love any tips or fail safe recipes for these please. I will not be defeated by a cake!!! 😀

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(I made the photo before I cut it open. Grrrrr!)

I was baking for The Children’s Society’s Bake and Brew and didn’t feel I could charge for them so gave them away. If you feel sorry for me and would like to make me feel better, or you just want to donate to such a wonderful charity, I have a just giving page! It’s right here!!

I have also had some lovely people give me the money at the school gates etc and I’ll be adding that on soon too.