Cherry Almond Cupcake

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Special Christmas Memory

When my older brother and I were teenagers, we gathered with all our friends one Friday evening before Christmas for a caroling party.

It was bitter cold that night; and we stopped and sang at many homes of friends, relatives, and parents to all in our little group. After each song, we were rewarded with all kinds of sweets from divinty to fudge and steaming mugs of hot chocolate.

We are tired and giddy by the time we got to the end of the night, and the last caroling stop was at our house. As we entered our home, our senses were overcome by the fragrant aroma of homemade bread.

As we all floated towards the kitchen, we were welcomed by my mother, face beaming, standing next to a huge banquet feast including ham, potatoes, vegetables, salad and homemade bread. There were squeals of pleasure and gasps of delight at the sight of such an offering. We all melted into my mother's warm kitchen, eating and laughing, finally just too full to sing another note.

What a special memory for any teenager; and there is no doubt that all these young people never quite forgot this unexpected and pleasant Christmas surprise.

As an adult, however, I realize just how much this memory really means. My mother, at that time, was parenting three high-energy teenagers, as well as overseeing three bookstores during very busy holiday season. Looking back, I know she must have been thoroughly exhausted, yet somehow found the energy after a very long and taxing day at work to prepare homemade fresh bread and a glorious meal to surprise a few hungry teenagers.

Today, each day, I pray that I continue to practice the spirit of love and the magic of Christmas that my Mother tried to instill in me. Because the joy and hope of the Christmas season can be a part of each day of the year if I remember the important lessons my mother taught, and still teaches, through her daily life. And that is:

1. People are more important than things. Furniture and carpet can be replaced, but loved ones can never be replaced.
2. Love invested in others is never wasted.
3. The most valuable gifts cannot be purchased.
4. These three things remain, FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE; and the greatest of these is LOVE.

My Mom and Dad

Jacque Benson
all rights reserved 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Victorian Christmas Cake

Recently, I was asked to participate in a special project for ICES ( International Cake Exploration Societe). The theme for this Day of Sharing was "Christmas Weddings" and I was ask to demonstrate for the group.

I have always loved the victorian styled Christmas with the soft laces and rich gilded accents and wanted to incorporate that theme into the cake's design. While working on the design to demonstrate for an ICES Day of Sharing, another request came to submit a cake and tutorial for the December newsletter. I was truly honored.

So design in hand, and all my cake tools packed, I traveled to Houston so my dear friend, Morgan Jackson, could professionally photograph the cake. Morgan was very accomodating as I literally took over her dining room, sugar and tools spread about as I began creating the cake. This was her first opportunity to see me decorate a cake; and we laughed and chatted as I worked throughout the night.

The next day was my turn to watch Morgan, a true artist, at work. She clicked and clicked away at the little monument erected on her dining room table. Although the photograher liked what she saw through the lens, she wistfully looked out the back door and sighed, "It would have photographed beautifully out in the sunlight."

To her surprise, I picked the cake up and headed out the back door into Morgan's green sanctuary . The sun was low in the sky, creating a warm glow on the cake, and the results were magical. The artist, now in her element, clicked away from every angle; and the results, as you can see, were just beautiful.
Kindred spirits and a collaborative effort always create the best things in life!
Thank you Morgan!

"God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December." ~J M Barrie