Friday, November 16, 2007

"Like, what are my skills?"

I know, Pedro. I've been asking myself that same question. I know for sure that I don't have any nun-chuk skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills.

I wrote this awhile ago-- about learning to love the role of mother. And as I started feeling that paradigm shift, I decided that it was time to throw my whole self into my new calling, just like I did as a student, as a missionary, and as a teacher. Now, I'm about to write about developing my domestic skills. Please understand that I don't think you have to be June Cleaver to be a good mother. And I know a lot of moms are working moms, and don't have time for a lot of extra projects. I, in fact, am a working mom, so I don't have as much time as I would like for exploring my creativity. I guess my point in all of these disclaimers is to say that all of these things aren't necessary to fulfill the role of mother and wife, but are things that fulfill me, as I now spend the majority of my time in the home.

But this whole "operation domestication" (Taylor laughs at me when I call it that, because it sounds like I'm trying to become house broken) thing is hard for me. As you know, this is my husband. He is amazing. And not just with food. When I taught second grade I could say, "Hmmm... what should we do for a Thanksgiving craft," and he would bust out some amazing, colorful turkey made of paper and say, "You could do this!" At my first school my classroom had this super fun space for a window display and when he would design a new one it seriously drew crowds like a window unveiling at Macy's in New York City! Oh, and when I injured my back, he just sewed up a little rice bag for me to heat up. I know! Amazing. I used to feel a little bit threatened by it. I don't really anymore. But sometimes I still let myself feel helpless in the kitchen. Like I ask Taylor questions about frying an egg and get all nervous that it won't look as nice as his. Needless to say, I've been fairly insecure about my skills.

When I first left teaching, I didn't do any projects. I think I was a bit lost for a while without lessons to plan. I didn't really know what most of my friends did with their creative selves. Then I started blogging and realized I wanted to do things like this and this and this and this. Oh, also, everything this woman does makes me drool. Those are pretty ambitious, obviously. So I am starting out small, and mostly in the kitchen, seeing as how I know a little more about baking than about restoring old furniture or sewing.

So here's what I've been trying:

A couple of months ago I made some cupcakes for my friend, Lisa. It was her birthday. (Note: I had my hair cut that day. And my beauty operator (as Grandma would call her) always makes my hair look super fabulous like this after the cut. Most days I'm lucky to get a shower.)

I think fresh berries make the prettiest toppings. I was so proud of myself that day!



In the spring I planted these impatiens around the base of the tree in Grandma's front yard. They are still healthy and beautiful, which is an absolute miracle because I am horticulturally challenged. Seriously, I've killed a lot of plants in my day.

Last month I decided to help the fourteen and fifteen year-old-girls I work with at church make caramel apples. My sister, Kathryn has a killer recipe. They turned out so-so. So ugly is more like it. Then, Taylor got involved. He helped me figure it out and the last few turned out beautiful enough to give away. This is before:



During:
And after: I was so thrilled I could squeal!

So I'm starting to gain confidence in my skills, which is really fun and exciting for me. And do you want to hear the absolutely most fabulous thing that happened this month? I volunteered to bake a cake for a funeral luncheon at our church. I found a nice chocolate cake recipe with an especially tasty chocolate frosting. I hardly ever bake a cake without direct help from Betty or Duncan, so I was nervous. I couldn't taste-test the cake obviously, but the frosting was yummo, so at least the thin layer on top would please the crowd. A few days after the funeral there was a message on my phone from one of the women who served all of the food that day. She said, "Anne, everyone was raving about your cake, and I must have the recipe!" She later told me that the ladies in the kitchen had hidden away a couple of pieces of my cake so they could have some after serving the food. Do you love it?! I was elated! My cake was good?! My cake was so good you want the recipe?! My cake was even good enough that you hid some away?!

That's so much more exciting than having nun-chuk skills!

18 comments:

danielle said...

Oh Annie...I am just so proud of you! Look at you rocking those cupcakes. I say we are all entitled to be good at anything we choose. I love your zest and zeal for tackling new things. Good for you!

ps. if you ever want to sew or refinish furniture...I am here to help;) as long as you agree to help me teach my child to sleep...I mean when the time comes.

kate said...

You make me giggle, and I have to say that I am jealous of all your domestication! It is SO fabulous! and I must say that those cupcakes are making my mouth water! Right now I feel so totally drained of any creative juices that I don't even know what to think about anything. (But that's a topic for another time...blah)

But you are inspiring me, even though I feel like I might never recover and find the time to do anything creative or fun again. ok that's being a little dramatic, but that's how I feel, whatchagunnado?

I want to come over to your house and soak up all your creative, zesty attitude! I wish you love and best dishes (that's what Paula says) and please post more about your creativeness...it makes me happy!

Eric, Halcyon, Viana and Brooke said...

OK Anne, maybe one day in the future we could team up for an afternoon of operation domestication. Because heaven knows I'm nearly up a creek without a paddle when it comes to being domestic!

EMILY said...

You are awesome! I love that you are putting your creative foot forward. And those cupcakes...they look delicious! I am excited to hear about your next project.

Vicky said...

Anne, I'm glad to hear that you also get jealous of other women's skills! Those were some pretty amazing things that your friends did, but you have skills I wish I had! For instance, I wish so much that I was as knowledgeable and in-tune with good books as you are. Loving to read isn't the same as knowing what makes a good book. Thanks for sharing your skills with me. And count me in if you decide to share your new domestic skills, because I think we could all use some!

Emily said...

I think you are so neat.

liz said...

First of all, where's the great cake recipe? I hope you're posting that soon. Second, (here's my motherly, all-knowing advice) I was a lot like you when I first started staying home. Not only had I never really focused on domesticity, but I had shunned all things crafty, sewing-related, and homemaker-ish. Wasn't that all beneath me? When I finally realized that not only was some of that stuff part of my wife and mom job, but that I actually enjoyed doing SOME of it, I felt pretty overwhelmed and incapable -- I called mom every time I made a pot roast for YEARS. All of that stuff is trial and error. You learn. You figure out what you're good at and what you just shouldn't bother with. And you gain confidence. And it's fun. It's also fun for me to watch you go through this part of life -- before you know it, you'll be an old "expert" like me :)

Katrina said...

Anne, I totally relate to you on this one! My husband is more domestic than me and it makes me insecure sometimes, so that I don't even want to make the attempt. I really appreciate your attitude! You have definitely inspired me.

The Innkeeper said...

Fun stuff! I love your creativity!

You are too cute. I'm trying to live more simply and haven't bought any new clothes for a while. I was talking to Sarah about it, telling her the last time I bought clothes was right after you were here. I wanted to be a super cute mom like you! Sarah agreed that you have that effect on both of us!

andrew & brittani said...

Uh, can I hire you? Seriously. I think you're pooh-poohing your skills too much...I think you're fabulous!

rhall said...

Loved this post and the comments and why do I have to create a new account EVERY time I try to put a new coment on this blog?!! I am happy to say all the Hall women have the useful domestic skill of pie baking, even with homemade crust!

Sarah said...

I thoink you're doing amazingly well. The biggest part of it all is wanting to do new things. I woul definitely feel intimidated by the kitchen if I was married to Taylor, but your stuff looks aweaome. Just so you know, I am often intimidated by how funny your blog is, and how sylish you always are!

Sugar... said...

You know, the cool thing about being domestic is that you don't have to be good at ALL of it and that's okay! I can sew up a storm, but I loathe scrapbooking, which is practically Mormon terminology these days...not to mention that my husband is el presidente of a scrapbooking company (yikes!). I really don't like cooking that much either. It's like what your sister said, you find what you like or what you are good and at you go with it. Just leave the other stuff behind and have fun with what you like! Love your cupcakes...you have plenty of qualities as well that make people envious!

The Lindsey Ladies said...

I have to agree with your sister on this one. Nobody is going to be fabulous at all of this domestic stuff right off. I think we both have skewed views though from growing up with such fantastically creative, knowledgeable and clever mothers...that make you feel ashamed for not making your children's Halloween costumes! But all we can do is keep practicing until we get as good as them! ~and so far it looks like you are doing great, I expect the Statue of Liberty by next year :) ~

wes said...

(lori)
love, love this post. and love you! Can't wait to see you guys! Hope your trip was FAB!

themother said...

dear dear Anne, I've have always known you to excel at anything you put your mind to--this is just one more arena. What I have loved seeing is how you have turned your focus from your 2nd graders to your family--they are now the beneficiaries of your "skills" as you continue to develop them. Your mothering is becoming an art--every bit as beautiful as your cupcakes.

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

amy said...

anne i just found you! how could you not tell me? i love it. and i love you. :)