Mad about Macaron Classes

May 22nd, 2012

              Chocolate Macarons

Over the years I’ve received many requests for macaron classes and recipes. I’ve taught a few classes here and there, but never really considered teaching as anything more than a way to finance new cookbooks, fancy kitchen gadgets and shiny baking tools.

After a while, I went back to work full-time and haven’t conducted any more classes since, save for the occasional few for baking enthusiast friends.

              Plaisir Sucré Macarons

I’m happy to announce that I’m currently offering individual or 2-person hands-on classes for macarons by appointment only.

Please email me at csauleng[at]yahoo[dot]com for details.

An Anniversary and Memorial Cake

April 14th, 2012

              Anniversary and Memorial Cake

For H, my wonderful pillar of strength these past 15 years. Thank you for 10 years of companionship and for being the anchor that keeps my mind calm and my heart steady in my endless sea of worries.

              Anniversary and Memorial Cake

For A, my sunshine and greatest source of joy. Thank you for being such a bright beam of light in our lives. You amaze us each day with every new thing you do and say as you grow and blossom.

              Anniversary and Memorial Cake

For P, my little star and angel up in Heaven. Thank you for giving us 4 wonderful months of utter happiness. Although we may be apart, you live on forever in our hearts.

              Royal Icing Close Up

I love you all, more than any words can ever express and more than any cake can ever represent.

A Devastating Loss

April 12th, 2012

              A Cake - Bottom Tier

                                Tiny feet with tiny toes
                                A beautiful face with a tiny nose

                                Now a twinkling star shining bright
                                Forever at peace in eternal light

A month ago, I was at the highest point of my life, spending long needed quality time with H at a beautiful lodge in New Zealand, enjoying the fresh local produce and expecting our 2nd child. I remember thinking to myself how wonderful and perfect life was. We were really happy and ecstatic that our lovely daughter was going to get a little brother (and a Dragon year baby to boot) when she turned 2 years and 5 months – the perfect age gap, we felt. We were going to celebrate A’s 2nd birthday when we got home and a week later, celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a 3-tiered cake and a baby on the way.

Less than 2 weeks later, I was experiencing the moment of greatest need in my life, a cheesy cliché that I’d never imagined I would use to describe any point of my life. We’d come home to the welcoming arms of A and less than 3 days later, I suddenly went into labour and we lost our perfectly healthy son, P, at 18 weeks and 1 day. The gynecologist on-call at the emergency room made it clear that P was too young and nothing could nor would be done to save him.

P was born the morning after A’s 2nd birthday. He had long arms and legs, just like H; his tiny ears, fingers and toes were perfect, down to his tiny fingernails. He had the same cute little chin and nose as his elder sister. To us, he was perfect in every way, only born 20 weeks too early. But to the hospital and some others, he was just a miscarried fetus, too early to be considered stillborn, much less deserving of legal documents like a birth or death certificate or dignified last rites like a proper funeral.

I felt completely broken inside. I’d not only lost a precious child; with him went my dream of the perfect family of 4 – dad, mum, one little girl and one little boy, although the truth be told, we’d actually hoped for another little girl. I didn’t sleep much the first couple of days and spent many a waking hour crying, wondering if there was anything I could have done differently, feeling guilty that he’d perhaps been taken away from us because we’d wished for a girl instead, thinking that my body had failed him somehow. Our gynecologist didn’t have any conclusive answers for us.

We went out for a fancy dinner with A on our anniversary, but I struggled throughout the meal, trying not to let our waiter or A see the tears that streamed down my face as H held me close and I thought about the proud baby bump that was no more. I felt that I could never be happy again. How could I when we’d so suddenly lost someone we thought we were going to have and love for a long time? Our baby was no longer on the way and the planned 3-tiered celebration cake became a painful reminder of the happiness that was so cruelly snatched away from us in the span of a day.

9 days after P left us, H had to go away for work and a wonderfully kind friend came over to bake macarons with me. We both thought that it might help for me to have something else to think about, but in hindsight, I wasn’t really ready because I had really awful moments in between when all I wanted to do was just drop the spatula in the sink, curl up in bed and cry. Baking had completely lost the pick-me-upper effect it used to have on me.

I got through the next week on the kindness from friends who came by to listen and who held me while I cried and on the kindness from strangers I met in online forums who had gone through the same kind of loss and who knew exactly how I felt, who didn’t judge me when I told them that seeing other expectant mothers made me want to run in the other direction or that hearing pregnancy announcements broke my heart into terrible tiny pieces and who told me to take as long as I need to grieve instead of telling me to “get over it and move on.”

20 days on, I still have moments of uncontrollable sobbing, with mornings being the worst time of the day for me, especially when I’ve dropped A off at childcare and when H is travelling for work. The overwhelming desire I have now is to get my mind and body back on track so that we can try for another child, all of it amidst fears of the same thing happening again and of time not being on my side, given that we’re not the sort of couple that can conceive at the drop of a hat. I also know painfully well that any other child we may be fortunate enough to have in the future will never replace the one that we’d lost, but perhaps he or she can help us be joyful again.

While I don’t have much control over when my body gets back on track, I can try to get my mind to a better place. And this is where the 3-tiered celebration cake comes back into being. I’m making it to mark 15 years together with my dear H, to celebrate 10 years of (mostly) blissful marriage to the only person who can calm my constantly worrying heart, to give thanks for having a wonderful daughter like A, to celebrate P having given us 4 wonderful months of joy and happiness and to give our little family hope that we may one day feel happy and whole again.

I’m still working on the cake and progress is slow as I cope with my grief and work through the daily deep yearning for the impossible - to have him back with us. I’m hoping that the time between my bouts of sadness will gradually become longer, enough to perhaps bake a cake or two.