January is a busy month for us. Ella's birthday is this month, and here she is - a six-year-old!

Although we had already partied and were gearing up for another event, I knew we needed a moment so we headed out for a hike. Fresh air and space to run and roam were just what was needed for rejuvenation. We even saw some turkeys playing tag, at least that's what we decided they were doing. The snow is melting and uncovering life underneath. Isn't the color of this moss beautiful?

I have had fun baking to celebrate my daughter's big day. Here are some creations.

A Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich Cake: two layers of brownie with peanut butter chocolate chip filling then sprinkled with powdered sugar.

This was made for a joint event to honor two January babies: my daughter and my sister.

I put together some calzones using this dough. My husband asked if calzones were easier to make than pizza. There is more handiwork with the calzone, which doesn't make it harder, just more time consuming, and I actually like feeling the dough. So calzones (or Pizza Pockets, which is what I've decided to call them) will be more frequent than pizza at our home from now on, I think!

And here is another cake I made for Ella's Kid Party: A leopard cake. I made 2 batches of this vanilla cake recipe for a two-layer cake - yum!

Ella requested an African Animal theme and so the look for the cake was yellow with black spots (leopardish, you see.) Quite doable! I'm all for designs, but not necessarily for creating a cake of the actual animal - not enough time or brain space! For the African Animal theme I created decorations by simply using foam board and paint. I used Ella's animal encyclopedia as a reference, and , voila!, an animal extravaganza was created for the birthday girl!





When my daughter was still a baby we were encouraged to read the book The Blessing authored by Gary Smalley and John Trent. The Blessing details blessings given out by fathers as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible. It then encourages parents in giving out their own blessings to their children. The book mentions the strong presence in a child's life, affirming words, bestowing honor on a child as ways to bless. The act of gift giving does not come naturally to me. It is not something I'm predisposed to. I know this is because it's not what matters most to me so I don't naturally think of bestowing gifts on other people. However, having children has taught me how I can be specific in showing my love to them through gift giving - such as birthday cakes and decorations! Yes, children love gifts! Having children has stretched me in so many ways that at times I'm not sure I recognize myself! Painting, baking? These were not activities in my former life. I'm so thankful, though, that I'm learning new things and able to give the gift of honor, attention, blessing, and love through these acts. I am determined (my strong will speaking here!) to grow in this area of gift giving, and what I've found is that it is a really fun exercise in thinking about the person to receive the gift and identifying what matters to them and will bring them joy.

Now I am off to rest with a cup of tea, and then contemplate my son's birthday. I'm glad I have half a year to prepare.


amanda jolley said…
You artist, you. What a creative time you've had preparing and celebrating. I think my favorite painting is the zebra. I love his expression. :)