new faces

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Every time I see my nieces and nephew my heart fills with love. The pure sight of them magically makes my face light up and turn a rainy day into pure sunshine. They fill my life with joy and appreciation.

Sometimes I am wondering, how those little human beings can steal such a huge part of my heart and love. How these little people made it to crawl their way into the circle of loved ones so easily.

 

Along with these thoughts, I am thinking about people we meet in our lives and how they affect us. There are people we know from day 1 – parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents… Then there are people we meet along the way, starting with family friends, visiting our home, until we grow our own circle of relationships. The group of people then starts to change in batches. Kindergarten, school, university, work.. The number of people in ones life gets bigger and bigger with passing years. Some of those people stay. Most leave. Some will be remembered, some will leave a vague memory of a face or a name. Some of them will even represent a question mark on old photographs. People will be good to us, hurt us, leave us behind. Some will have a presence, even if they are not around. Some will remain a sad memory, some will always make us smile. Some of them will never be friends, some of them will be like family. And family might even not feel like family any longer.

 

Two months ago we celebrated my nephews first birthday and I was sitting at the table, looking at the 20+ guests, wondering about the circle of people in my nephew’s life. Most of the people were his parent’s friends. I was thinking how this will change over time. In just a few years, it will be a party full of children his age and their parents, until he will invite only his friends to his own apartment. He will have a full list of people he met along his way, carefully choosing the ones he can trust and can be himself with. He will find the one person he will be ready to spend the rest of his life with, creating his own stable circle of people, called family. And all will start again.

For now though, all he was interested in were the toys and his stuffed animals.. the people celebrating him were of less interest. Sure I had to be present and make a cake for him. His love for animals made the theme pretty easy to choose. I spent a few days making the lion (he will sure grow up with the strength of a lion) and had 1 1/2 days for the rest of the decoration and cake making. My sister and I spent the evening before the event, making a fondant zoo. The lion did not quite survive the transport – lost some hair along the way, but hey.. that’s life 😉

We placed the zoo on the cake, made some additional colorful decorations – like an arena for the lion – and decorated everything just in time before the guests arrived. My nephew recognized all the animals (at least the ones that make a sound like snake and elephant 😉 ) and seemed very happy seeing all his favorite characters.

And so he is starting his own journey through the many faces in his life. Thinking back I am thankful for all of those I met along my own. Not all of them have brought me joy, not all of them made me happy. Some hurt me badly, some left me broken, but luckily most of them left me with a smile and good memories. One thing I know for sure: no matter who I met and whether this person is still in my contacts or not, whether this person broke me or lifted me up, I learned, I got better, I got stronger. With every new face in my life I became who I am today, where I am today. Even those, who hurt me and did wrong to me, taught me the probably most valuable lesson; something somebody told me a long time ago: those people taught me who I don’t want to be. They made me stronger and a better person. So: Thank you!

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not about how old you are, but how you are old..

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A couple of weeks ago I packed my suitcase and went on a bus. 10 hours later, some of them with the smell of cheese (no… it was not really cheese) and a couple of failed attempts to finally fall asleep, I found myself in the little house where my mom grew up. It was early in the morning, but it started busy. It was not just an ordinary visit. We had business to do… at least I did. I unpacked my suitcase, pulled out a dress, pants and some clothes for cold weather. The rest of the suitcase was filled with baking supplies. It was heavy, but I didn’t mind. It was what I was looking forward to – using all these supplies, playing with shapes, recipes, decoration, creams… It’s what I love and missed. We went shopping, visited some relatives and I started to work on my project. Cakes and cake pops for my grandmother’s birthday. I wanted to make it as perfect as possible. It was supposed to be my gift for her and I put all the love and effort into this project. Days before I started to plan and sketch the cake for the big celebration. All our relatives from the village would attend and my grandmother deserved to have a special cake. One that is made just for her. So, I started to work two days before the party (which would take place on a saturday, the day after her actual birthday). I made a cake for the neighbors who would come the day before and the rest of the goodies were planned for the big party.

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I baked all the cakes on Thursday and made the creams the next day – there was one cake with cream and berries for the first day, a buttermilk-lemon cake and a chocolate cake and the cake pops for the second day. The roses and edible lace (which I used this recipe for – If anybody is interested, please comment below and I will be happy to make a special post about this recipe) I made the day before the party as well. With that it had enough time to dry. The cake pops were also made the day before, so that I had enough time to concentrate on covering the cake and decorating it the day the party was scheduled. It all went smooth and I was happy with the result. The guests were happy as well and ate all the cake. Only a small piece was left. The biggest of all compliments for a baker.

It was great to do all that. I simply loved it. But there is something about those days that fulfilled me more than the baking itself. I was able to witness something that we often forget in our every day lives. My grandmother turned 93 and what makes her happy is seeing her family and being among them. She is incredible. She can spend half of the day in the kitchen, preparing a meal for her family. Sure, she has the usual complaints every person has when getting older. Still, she is doing most of her stuff by herself and I am very proud of being her granddaughter. Three years ago, I took the same journey to attend her 90th birthday. I remember posting a picture of the two of us, saying that I hope I will be like my grandmother when I turn 90. Three years later, I see the same woman in the same apron, in the same condition and I am thinking: she is brave and strong and keeps going no matter what. During those few days I was working in her kitchen, she sat down next to me from time to time and watched me (which I usually really don’t like). She kept saying that she is not worth all the work. It is sad she thinks that way, but I hope she understands that she is wrong about that. I am grateful to have her. I am grateful that her great-grandchildren know her and she stayed here for us. She could easily give up, but she does not and she deserves gratitude and admiration for that. On her birthday, while I was working on the roses and chatting with a friend, she walked into the kitchen and my friend gave her a hug and congratulated. My grandmother smiled and said: “You see, if you want to be hugged and get many presents and flowers you need to turn 93. When you are that old people would give you many hugs”.  I was moved. Do we really forget about our friends and people and realize that we need to show them our love when they get old? Maybe we do and maybe we need to take care of that. Maybe a cake made with love will do the job as well?

The recipes for the cakes and creams you’ll find here:

egg liqueur cake with buttermilk lemon filling

chocolate cake with chocolate pudding butter cream filling

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