No Mud, No Lotus

Mama Pyjama Mud Lotus

I've been going through a lot of changes recently, experiencing significant emotional shifts and dealing with many internal conflicts.  I don't feel I need to go into specifics, so will suffice to say that we all go through these periods in life.  Whether it's financial stresses, relationship breakdowns, deaths, career changes, childhood traumas, lifestyle shifts...there's one thing they all have in common. 

They all transform us.

Sometimes the transformation is subtle, with very little pain involved.  Sometimes the transformation is quick, unexpected, yet highly impactful.  Sometimes it's drawn out and painful, like a slow dripping tap upon an open wound.  These are the types of transformations that you think you're never going to survive.  That you couldn't possibly come out of in one piece. 

But, if you're sitting here reading this, you're proof that we always do.  We get through it.  No matter what life throws at us; we always manage to come out the other side.

My life feels like one big metaphor of late.  Twice in the last fortnight my septic system has overflown.  Just like the crap in my life.  Just like the emotions I've kept bottled for so very, very long. 

And then this last weekend, I find myself literally stuck in the mud (at Perth's "Miss Muddy" event).  I'm lying face down, trying to crawl through a pit of mud beneath a cargo net, being sucked down into the mud with the force of quick sand.  I like to think I'm pretty strong, and reasonably athletic (ok that's a stretch)...but at one point I felt like I couldn't possibly go on.  I felt so stuck.  I was exhausted.  The type of fatigue where you feel like every single muscle in your body has just collapsed. 

I looked over at my friend and for a second I felt like, "Dude, I'm seriously going to die in this mud pit.  I am never getting out"!  But then I saw her face (and I saw her struggle too) and it made me laugh (proof that I'm a top friend).  That laugh you do when you're like, "I've got one tiny, minuscule bit of energy left in my body and I'm going to use it to pull that weird, opened mouth silent laughing face where only a squeak or a snort is going to manage to sneak out before my neck collapses and I face plant into the mud" kinda laugh.  So I did, and she did, and with that little ray of sunshine and light I managed to pull my arm out of the mud and drag my body the remaining two metres to come out the other side. 

Mama Pyjama Mud Lotus

In that moment, beneath the fatigue and exhaustion, beneath the laughter about how hilarious we were, and how much my dress had stretched with the weight of the mud...I felt a quiet, subtle shift within me.  "I can do this". 

No matter how hard it feels, or how deep the crap runs, or how long the journey is...I can make it to the other side. I'm not going to be the same person I was at the start, but that's okay. In fact it's more than okay, because I'm going to be a freakin' LOTUS by the end of all this!  And, my dear friends going through similar times - SO ARE YOU!! xo

Posted on May 3, 2016 .

Going Full Circle

Mama Pyjama Kellie Turtu

Today is Mama Pyjama's third birthday.  How have things changed in three years?  In a lot of ways I feel I’ve come full circle.  I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that this morning when I read my “three years ago today” memory on facebook, I felt pretty crappy about the whole thing.  I’ve been very absent in this space for the last five months…so knowing that, I felt quite a lot of emotions.  Guilt, frustration, anger, disappointment.  What some would perceive as an achievement or a moment of celebration, I felt as a moment to self-reflect and, in some ways, self-attack. 

I began this journey as someone who desperately needed to reconnect with herself and rediscover her passions.  I propelled myself into a whole new world of adventure and excitement and self care…and I was doing a great job of it.  But then something changed.  Somewhere along the way everything got on top of me.  Things got too much.  The more I dug to rediscover, the more I realised I needed to change things.  And change hurts.  Change is hard.  Change is draining.  I pushed and pushed and pushed until I reached break point…and at that point I decided to drop everything. 

Going Full Circle

I left my job of 16 years thinking that that would make me happy.  That it would give me the time to invest in MPJ and in following my dreams.  But the reality is – it didn’t.  I hadn’t anticipated the impact that leaving that safety net (as much as it drove me crazy) would have on my self worth and my state of mind.  I’ve spent the last eight weeks struggling with many, many things.  Leaving work shone a huge big light on all the other areas of my life, and has made me question a lot.

I miss the social interaction.  I miss the daily validation I got from working and interacting with so many different people with so many amazing qualities that added so much value to my life.  I hadn’t realised how much of my “self” had been built on these relationships and experiences.  I guess it’d be silly to think otherwise (since I practically grew up there), but in leaving it really does feel like I’ve lost a big chunk of “me” in the process. 

The question and dilemma that has been floating around in my heart and mind these last two months has been how to rebuild that part.  People say, go look for another job.  Or go join a community group.  Or get more involved with your childrens’ school.  But for me, that’s not the answer.  The key for me has been acknowledging that I invested so much of myself into work as a way to fill gaps I was feeling in other areas of my life.  I’ve realised even more through this process that I need to build up my own self worth from within – not from without.  Whilst social interaction is super important to a healthy mind and spirit - it cannot be everything.  I cannot base the majority of my self worth on how others make me feel.  I need to feel good within myself by myself for myself.

So, in a lot of ways, I’ve come full circle…but I don’t think I’ve gone backwards per say.  I’ve simply transitioned to the next phase of my journey.  Now I know what I’m passionate about, now I know the things I want in life (and as negative as it sounds, the things I don’t want)…now I know that I need to work on reducing my need for external validation.   So what needs to follow is the sometimes painful and uncomfortable process of voicing it, feeling the things that need to be felt,  making the necessary changes, and fully integrating all aspects of my life in order to honour myself and live my life in true reflection of who I was born to be.     

I’ve not been sitting completely trapped within my own melancholia these last two months.  I have begun making inroads towards this integrated version of my true self.  I’ve been studying vibrational medicine, and I’ve bought a vintage caravan that I hope to do up and one day use as a healing centre.  I have faith that everything will come together in time, and that the universe will ensure that it happens at exactly the right moment (when I’m truly living in alignment with my soul purpose). 

As has always been my driver, I am hopeful that in sharing my life experiences honestly, I will help others along their journey too.  I’m also hopeful that as I transition I will gain insight and experience that will provide tangible tools for others going through similar life changes – but until then, it may just need to remain as shared emotion and understanding. 

So until next time, peace love and good vibrations to you all xo

Posted on April 13, 2016 .

Video Blog - Times Are Changing

So I’ve been off the grid for a while as I’ve been dealing with a major life change.  I resigned from my job of 16 years, and today is my first day as an unemployed citizen of the world.  How am I feeling? ... take a listen xo

Posted on February 15, 2016 .

Small Pleasures Add Up

Small Pleasures Mama Pyjama

You know those years that you just want to kick in the arse and send flying out your door?  The ones where you’re itching for New Year’s Day just so that you can start fresh again; leave all the BS behind you?  2015 was in so, so many ways one of those years for me.  Broken dreams, stagnant moments, fractured hearts, health woes, deaths, financial hardships, heart-wrenching parenting moments.  Days riddled with anxiety and hopelessness.  Nights spent lying wide-eyed and fearful.  Yep, 2015 was tough and I’d be painfully dishonest if I didn’t say that a big part of me will be glad to see the back of it in many, many ways.

BUT if we define a “good year” by the sum of small pleasures rather than by the absence of bad things – then my 2015 was actually pretty awesome.

That’s been my focus this year.  For every BIG bad moment, there’s a half dozen shiny little good moments that could easily go unnoticed.  I’ve been focussed on seeking out those small pleasures; collecting them all up and storing them in the pockets of my heart left empty by each of those big bad moments.  Small things, like the way my insides felt warm when I came home to fresh baked banana bread and smiling faces.  The butterflies I felt for a good friend when his conversations turned from heartbreak to new love.  The pride that welled up in my throat watching my boys at their end year concerts.  The smiles that broke at the corners of my mouth listening to dear friends telling yesterday’s stories.  The belly-laughs with family that erupted so big I felt like my heart would explode.  The sing-song feeling that lifted my soul hearing old friends laughing as they camped in our backyard.  The security and lightness I felt having quiet conversations with my husband in the midst of those bad moments. 

These are the little things that add up.  The small pleasures that together make the big bad stuff hurt less.  This is why when people say things like, “You’re so easily pleased,” I smile and I say, “Yes, perhaps I am…because small pleasures add up.”  If I’d saved all my excitement for only the big things in life, then this year would have been pretty lousy.  If I’d focussed only on the bad stuff, then …well…I certainly wouldn’t be smiling now. 

Life really is about the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, the dark and light.  This year was a little dip on the chart of my life, but all those little pleasures bent that curve up just enough to make some really precious memories, relationships and leaps forward.

I wish you all an amazing 2016, and I do so hope that no matter what it brings, you seek to find pleasure in life’s little moments.  This, after all, is what really makes life enjoyable on a day-to-day basis.  Don’t save all your enthusiasm, gratitude and sunshine for the big moments.  You’ve an endless supply of that stuff, so why scrimp on it?  Use it every single day for as many little things as you can.  Small pleasures add up.  I promise you - it’s that simple.

xo

Posted on December 30, 2015 .

“It’s not a bad life – it’s just a bad day”

Mama Pyjama it's not a bad life

“It’s not a bad life – it’s just a bad day” ... It’s just a bad day.

I never thought I’d have to remind myself of this so many times.  I’m grateful. Grateful for everything that I have and everything that I am.  But I’m also really tired.  And I’m a little sad.  And I also somewhat dejected.  Things have been tough this year.  It’s super hard some days to keep that smile on your face.  To remind yourself that it’s just a bad day.  Sometimes you want to just fold, give-in, surrender.  

I put my heart and soul into everything I do…I’m doing too much.  My soul is starting to ache.

Sometimes, I don’t want to be the strong one.  Sometimes I don’t want to be optimistic.  Sometimes I just want to check out.

I know that people think I’m naive.  I really do see the best in people.  I trust with blind faith.  I really do believe that the world is full of people just doing the best that they can.  But I guess sometimes, it is hard to maintain.  Sometimes it’s really hard not to get sucked in, dragged down, absorbed by the negativity.

Sometimes it really does feel like the world’s against you.

Sometimes it feels like more than a bad day.

I’ve had a lot of those ‘sometimes’  lately.

So here’s what I’m coming to realise… just as a smile can raise a thousand suns, so can a thousand unshed tears sink a lifetime of happiness.  If I want to rise up, I know I need to stop pushing down.  I know I need to stop fighting the feelings I don’t want to face.   I need to feel, breathe, cry, nurture, embrace….  But I’m scared; because what if I can’t find my way back?

I know that if I was talking to a friend that these are the things I would say:

You need not fear.  Your time to be all the things you dreamed of is nigh, but it is not now.  And that’s ok.  Your time to BE is now.  Just be.  Be you.  Be happy.  Be sad.  Be angry.  Be hopeful.  Be whatever it is that you need to be in any given moment.  Stop trying to control it all.  Stop trying to make things happen ahead of time.  Stop trying to understand.  Just let it be.  Just let yourself be.  Breathe.  Dream.  Feel.  Accept.  Trust.  Everything is exactly as it should be.  YOU are exactly as you need to be. 

"It’s not a bad life. It’s just a bad day".

Posted on November 11, 2015 .

Mamas - It's Time to Reclaim Your "Me Time"!

Mama Pyjama Me Time

"Me time".  I hear this term bantered around a lot in the parenting community, and it got me thinking: what exactly is “Me Time”; and as a community of parents have we redefined its meaning to refer to any period of time alone?

Here’s where I’m going with this.  Before having kids, a haircut was just a haircut.  A trip to the grocery store was just a trip to the grocery store.  Going to the toilet alone was…well anything else was just weird. 

The things I considered “me time” were things like reading a book outside in the hammock, or playing my guitar, or writing in a journal.  Or other things, like going out with girlfriends, or doing some sort of learning and development course, or going to dinner with my husband.  Any type of activity that involved things or people I was passionate about: was “me time”. 

ME time.  With the emphasis on the “me”.  It was doing things that defined me as a person.  Things that fulfilled my emotional needs.  Things that connected me to my core beliefs, dreams and desires.  It wasn’t doing day-to-day chores alone. 

As a parent “me time” is more elusive - obviously.  We now have little humans who we are solely responsible for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  But does that mean that we should forfeit our “me time” entirely?  “No it doesn’t”, I hear you all say.  BUT, here’s my question to you:

As a community have we managed to subtly redefine the term “me time”, in a way that effectively means we have agreed to relinquish it almost entirely?    

Is a haircut still just a haircut as a mum?  Or is your basic trim now luxurious “me time”?  Is a trip to the store without your kids, just something that you need to do in order for yourself and your family to survive?  Or is it now “me time”?  You get where I’m going with this? 

It’s like that saying, “it’s not babysitting when it’s your own kids”.  It’s not “me time” if it’s not time spent doing activities that connect with your inner “me”.   Now that we’re clocking up hours of solo chores as “me time”, how many hours do we have left to actually do that real ME stuff without feeling guilty about it?

“Me time” is important – super important.  Having the time to nurture yourself and your passions is absolutely key to being a healthy, happy person.  By default, this also enables you to be the best parent, partner, friend and family member you can be too.  We need to stop the guilt game, and stop the martyrdom too.  It’s perfectly reasonable to make time in your life for yourself.  Sacrificing this time entirely doesn’t make you a better parent (or partner, friend, or family member), than those who insist on having their “me time”. 

We need start by giving ourselves permission to reclaim our “me time”.  Then we need to communicate with the people in our lives.  If you have a partner, talk to them.  Be open about the things you need, and allow them the same opportunities.  Once we’ve done that, we need to get creative with it.  The opportunities may be less or require more organisation than they used to, but the opportunities are still there.  Wake a little earlier, or ask a few more favours from friends and family.  Join a community group (Hello Mamas is a good one) and find other mums in your area that you can get to know, and then perhaps create a roster where you all get a little "me time" once a month whilst the others look after the kids.  Schedule “me time” in, in the same manner you schedule your children’s activities (and use black marker pen so you can’t rub it out). 

There are ways to make it work and to make "me time" another priority in your life, rather than the thing that’s just gotta give when other things come up.  The hardest part is convincing ourselves (and the wider parenting community) that it’s okay to put our own needs first sometimes.

What do you consider "me time"?  Has it changed since having children?      

 

 

Posted on October 22, 2015 .

Peeling Back The Paint

Peeling Back The Paint Mama Pyjama

Truth be told, it’s difficult to lose yourself when you never really knew who you were in the first place. Up until my 33rd birthday, I’d spent most of my adult life defining myself through my relationships with other people, through my successes and achievements, through how I believed the world perceived me. All my effort and energy was spent trying to please others; trying to absolve the “mistakes” I felt I’d made along the way. Everything I did was fuelled by my fear of disappointing people and of losing those close to me. I chased my vision of perfection with everything I had – house, career, husband, children. If I achieved these things, then everything would be ok. Then I would be happy. Then I would love and forgive myself. Then all would be right with the world.

Is it surprising that I’d wake at 33 to a life filled with all these things, but with a reflection in the mirror that I did not recognise? It’s hard to really know someone who has defined herself her whole life by things external to her.

I remember several moments that led to this realisation. One was doing a personality course through work and struggling to define myself. I was asked, "Well what are your hobbies?” When I went to respond (to such a seemingly simple question) no words formed. I stared blankly at the trainer. “You must have a hobby!” What made the feeling even worse was that when posed with a further question, “Well, what would you like to do, if you could do anything?” I had no answer. Not only did I not know who I was and what I liked to do, I’d lost sight altogether of the person I wanted to be.

Unfortunately, in that moment I didn’t grab hold of the reins and set about making changes. I had fallen so deeply into the cycle of “just surviving” that I had lost the energy, will or desire to get up and get living. I had completely forgotten who I was outside of the realms of the roles I was playing: wife, mother, daughter, friend, career woman. There was no “me”.

It would take a complete stranger calling me “boring” to finally fuel the fire in my belly. Boring?? Nobody gets to call me boring! This was what you’d call a pivotal life moment. I had two choices: either deny it and continue down the path I was on; or take a shower, a deep breath, and a long hard look in the mirror. I chose to do the latter.

So there I was staring into the mirror, with little recognition of the face staring back at me. I hadn’t lost myself…rather I’d just never really found myself, well at least not in my adult years. In that moment I made myself a promise: To take the time to get to know myself properly, and to honour the person that I discovered.

My journey began with memories, some of which I started to capture in journals.

I remember being eleven years old… trying to find my way…trying to make sense of my world in the midst of my parents' divorce. I felt many things – confusion, anger, shame, hurt, loss...even apathy. In short, I felt like my world had been turned upside-down and I didn’t know how to put everything right again.
I have a distinct memory of lying on the kitchen bench of my childhood home, just staring at the ceiling. Commotion all around me. I remember my mind suddenly quiet. I remember how the world faded in that moment and I was filled with silence - as white as the ceiling, as clean as the paint untouched.
I remember the thought as it was born, “What if my world really had turned upside-down?" What if I could be the one to walk on this pure untouched ground for the first time? What if doorways were steps and lights extended from the ground up? What if this whole new, quiet, serene world had been laid out just for me ?
It was like seeing everything for the first time. Everything looked beautiful and new and pure...everything seemed possible.

My perspective shifted ever so slightly and my memories began to propel me further within.

When I was in year 2 my best friend’s name was Prathanna and he was the best colour-inner I’d ever met. He’d colour the trees pink and orange and blue, and the sky purple, and the flowers green. He’d fill in the white spaces with solid, vivid colours that danced on the page and made my imagination run wild.
In later years I felt compelled to replicate his style in primary school art class. Only to be shot down by the art teacher with the words, “Too child-like, too undeveloped; demonstrates no understanding of colour”. Some memories cut deep. At 11 years old I was taught that self-expression was an action open to judgement, and as such should be carefully monitored.

The further I dug, the more I realised that I needed to look inwards and nurture my inner child to enable her to heal, grow and integrate with my adult self. I began to play more, laugh more and question more. I started to focus more and more on the present moment and on letting go of things past. The more I opened myself up, the more the colour started to flood back into my life.

I quickly began to realise how much my own children were teaching me every day…and how in turn they were watching me to see how I would behave. I became acutely aware of the importance of living my life authentically; of ensuring that I loved, honoured and respected myself. Because our children are always watching us, soaking it all in, adjusting their next move to align with our last.

So I just kept peeling back the layers – the layers and layers of paint that had masked me for so many years. The fresh coats to mark new starts. The touch-ups to cover the mistakes. The graffiti of misspoken words. Paint in colours that didn’t suit me. Paint that others had applied. Paint so opaque and shiny that it let no natural light shine through. I just kept peeling and peeling, no matter how uncomfortable or tired or scared or unsure I became, I kept on peeling until finally - the beautiful, original wood grain began to show through.

So now, now that I’ve begun to uncover, know and love the inner authentic me, I have made a new promise. I promise to teach my children how important it is to know and love themselves. Sometimes I will teach them through conversations, through praise, or by working through their feelings. Other times I will teach them through actions, including loving myself enough to do things for me sometimes, or by passionately pursuing my own dreams.

I make this promise to both my children and myself because if you love yourself, you won’t spend a lifetime chasing happiness – trying to find it in other people, in possessions, in achievements. When you truly know and love yourself; happiness naturally follows.

Posted on October 13, 2015 .

7 Ways I have Grown with my Children

7 ways I've grown with my children

We spend a lot of time watching our children grow: marking milestones with photographs and facebook posts; celebrating new skills, a lost tooth, or an extra centimetre on the growth chart.  But how often do we stop and reflect back on the many, many ways in which we as parents have grown with our children? 

Here are 7 ways that I have grown since becoming a mama.

1.       I have grown more patient

Ask me on a bad day and I’d tell you I’ve grown more impatient since becoming a mum.  But when I think about it, over the last 6 years I’ve: lost approximately 8,760 hours of quality sleep; heard my non-identity name an average of 84 times a day (quite often in quick succession bouts of “mummy, mummy, mummy, mumMY, MUMMY!”); and  increased my use of the word “no” by about 817%.

So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’ve grown more patient since having children, because quite honestly if someone in my pre-child life stole 4 hours of sleep from me, repeated "hey lady" 84 times and asked me for crap that I have to say “no” to 21 times in a 9 hour period…I would likely have poked them in the eye with a blunt stick before the day was out!

2.       I have grown to appreciate the true value of time

The days can be long, but the years are so short. There are moments when it genuinely feels like you have closed your eyes for moment and it’s their next birthday.  Hell, sometimes I wake up half expecting to see a moustache on my 6 year old's face!  Every second is precious – even the crappy ones where you’re chest deep in self-doubt or beaten down by lack of sleep and utter frustration.  I’ve grown to be grateful for all the little moments and to truly appreciate the time that we have.

3.       I have grown to become a multi-tasking ninja

It’s amazing how much you can achieve during a 3 minute time-out or in the 90 seconds it takes to microwave their porridge!  Since becoming a parent, my multi-tasking ability has grown ten-fold.  I have no idea what I did with my time before kids, but I tell you what, I can sure squeeze a lot into a 24 hour period now!  The only thing that has not grown, in fact I think it’s actually declined since having kids, is my ability to multi-task whilst writing a text message (I can’t even speak at the same time).  Not sure why that is, but I thought it was worth noting.

4.       I have grown to treasure being alone

Before having kids, I didn’t enjoy being by myself.  I was a social girl – loved a good party, always enjoyed being in the company of others.  The idea of staying home and watching TV or even taking a bath was …well…completely boring (almost tortuous) to me. 

Since having kids I’ve grown to not only enjoy, but to absolutely treasure my alone time.  I guess it is a no-brainer really – given that you now share every toilet and shower break with another human being.  But it really is a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.  I’ve grown to love the odd car ride to the shop by myself, the reality TV show that no one else wants to watch with me, the rare empty house moments where you literally sit and listen to the fridge hum. 

5.       My soul has grown younger

Though my body has grown older at a faster rate than ever before, my soul has grown younger.  Children have a magical ability to grow you through the process of actually un-growing you.  This happens through engaging in play, through shared giggles and through the pure joy of watching their  imagination unfold.   My children have driven me to look within, to rediscover and reconnect with my inner child, and to heal and grow in the process.  They’ve awakened a wonderland at the core of my being that grows brighter and more colourful with every day that passes.   

6.       I have grown to appreciate my parents’ sayings (not to mention the eyes I’ve grown in the back of my head)

There’s nothing more enlightening then the moments that follow the words, “because I said so” rolling off your tongue.  The moment where the penny drops.  Where all of a sudden you completely understand why you heard that phrase muttered so many, many times throughout your childhood.  Sometimes there just isn’t a reason.  Sometimes that’s really “all there is to it”.  Sometimes the shock value of asking them if they’d “stick their head in an oven” if their best friend did, is the last tactic you have left to try to make them understand the importance of not bowing down to peer pressure.   

7.       My heart has grown three sizes

And lastly, since having children my heart has grown three sizes bigger to accommodate the magnitude of love I hold for them.  Love that’s entwined with emotions I never knew I could feel with such enormity – like fear, pride, anxiety, hope, empathy, helplessness, wonder and joy.  I’d lay my giant emotional heart on the line for them time and time again, because I love them more than I ever thought was possible.   

 

7 ways I've grown with my children mama pyjama

This is one of the gifts that parenting brings: even on the days when it feels like you’ve taken three steps back, you’re still growing as a person as rapidly as your children are. Every day is a learning curve.  Every day is an opportunity to grow a little more, to connect a little more, to love a little louder. 

Every moment you are watching your children grow; they are watching you grow too, and using this as guidance for their own development.  If ever there was a moment to truly be ‘you’, to truly live in alignment with your values and your passions – that moment is now! 

xo

 

This post has been featured on Hello Mamas - a site connecting mums all over the world!

 

Posted on September 15, 2015 .

How to make a Pinata Cake

Pinata Cake Birthday Mama Pyjama

Birthday cakes are a big deal in our house, and this year was no exception! :)  My newly turned 6 year old loves pinatas.  What's not to like?!  A big surprise package filled with goodies that you get permission to smash the heck out of?  That's every kid's dream right - even for some of us big kids hey ;) ? So it made total sense this year to create our special little man his very own Pinata Cake. 

It was a huge success, and honestly the easiest cake I've made to date. 

If you want to give it a crack (pardon the pun) - here's how I did it:

What you'll need:

  • 2 packs of chocolate melts (I used 2 x Nestle Bakers' Choice Melts Milk 375g packs)
  • A selection of treats for inside the cake (I used chocolate freckles, gold chocolate coins and m&ms)
  • Cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix)
  • Chocolate Frosting (I used the stuff that came with the cake mix)
  • Oil Olive
  • Fondant for decorating (I used Queen Ready-to-Roll Coloured Icing from Woolies)
  • Metal pudding steamer (20cm diameter)
  • Round deep cake tin (15 cm diameter x 7.5cm depth)

Step 1: Make the Shell

  • Place the metal bowl in the freezer for 10 mins
  • Remove bowl from freezer and line the inside very generously with oil olive.  I used heaps.  Make sure you cover every inch of the surface.  This will make your life A LOT easier when you go to remove the chocolate shell from the mold. 
  • Once covered with oil, pop bowl back in freezer.

Get your spatula out and ready - you'll need this for smoothing out the chocolate.

  • Empty chocolate melts into a microwave safe bowl (leaving a handful aside to use to 'glue' m&ms to the outside of the shell).
  • Melt chocolate in microwave according to instructions on pack.  FYI, mine took three bursts of 1 minute at medium heat.  Be really careful not to overheat them - stirring each minute.
  • Once chocolate is melted, grab your bowl from the freezer, and make sure your spatula is on hand. 
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl and immediately start swirling it around the bowl to evenly cover the inside surface of the bowl.  You need to be quick as the chocolate sets really fast.  I found that I needed to use a spatula to start spreading the chocolate out as it began to set before I had fully cover the whole surface.  Work with the spatula to ensure an even coverage of chocolate.  Don't stress if it looks really messy.  Mine did too. 
  • Once partially set (a few minutes), cover the inside of the bowl in cling film and pop back in the freezer to fully set. 

I read a lot of recipes on the internet that talked about the difficulty in getting chocolate shell out of the bowl.  Cracked shells, shells that had suctioned themselves to the bowl, multiple attempts to get one out etc etc.  So I thought I'd try something a little different, and I'm very happy to report that it was super successful. 

  • I only left my bowl in the freezer for a short time - about 10-15 minutes. I just had a sneaking suspicion that the longer it was left in the freezer, the more it would set to the bowl and the harder it would be to get out.  I've no idea if there's any science to that, but it worked so let's just go with it.

Then instead of using a 'hot damp towel' to warm the outside of the bowl as suggested in several recipes I read, I did this:

Pinata Cake Birthday Mama Pyjama
  • Fill the kitchen sink with the hottest water from the tap.
  • Place a chopping board on top of the metal bowl.
  • Holding the chopping bowl firmly onto of the bowl, immerse the bowl in the water right up to the top edge (ensuring not to allow any water into the bowl of course) and then count (quite quickly) to 8.
  • Immediately remove the bowl from the water and quickly invert the bowl and chopping board and set on bench (the bowl should be now sitting upside on the chopping board on top of the bench).
  • Gently lift the bowl from the chopping board, and the shell should come out instantly.
  • Stand at the sink and do a happy dance for about 15 seconds.  This step is optional; though it really should be mandatory.
  • Wrap the outside of the chocolate dome in cling film and place into fridge.  Leave there until you are ready to decorate.  I left mine in the fridge for about 6 hours.

Step 2: Make the cake

  • As I said, I used a cake mix...you can use whatever you like, but make sure you bake it in a 15 cm diameter cake tin so that it will fit nicely inside the pinata shell.
  • I had a bit of a cake bake fail, using all of the cake mix to fill the tin.  Don't do that.  In hindsight, I probably should have used about 2/3-3/4 of the mix, not all of it.  It makes a heck of a mess, but luckily the cake was still salvageable! :)
  • Once baked and cooled, using a serrated knife cut a hole out of the centre of the cake, about 8 cms in diameter and about half the depth of the cake.  This is where all the lollies will sit.
  • I choose just to ice the very top surface of the cake so that I could stick some m&ms and freckles onto the top.  It's up to you how much you ice.  I just figured there was enough sugar on the cake already and that icing the whole thing would just get super messy for the kids.
  • Decorate the cake however you see fit and fill centre with lollies.  I used gold coins, freckles and m&ms.
  • Wrap in cling film and set aside.

STEP 3: Decorate the Pinata Shell

You can decorate the cake shell however you like.  If you want to use a variety of different sized chocolate buttons, you'll need to melt the chocolate buttons you set aside to 'glue' the buttons to the surface of the cake.

I used different coloured fondant cut into stars and circles to decorate mine.  I found the fondant stuck directly to the chocolate shell so that made things super easy.  I then added some m&ms using melted chocolate to stick them on.

It's really your canvas though - so go crazy.  You can use anything really.  So long as it's edible!  I have some great ideas for other pinata cakes - particularly some pretty ones that I'll likely not get to make being a mum of boys!  So hey, just putting it out there, I'd be happy to create for any Perth readers if you have a birthday coming up!  Feel free to inbox me at yomama@mamapyjama.com to discuss. :)

STEP 4: Put it all together

The fun part...actually the fun part leading up to the funnest part!

  • I'd suggest putting this together on a cake board of some description - a big chopping board would suffice.  Last thing you want is you 6 year old smashing to heck out of your dinner table...not to mention your plates. 
  • Unwrap the cake and pop it into the centre of the cake board.
  • Pick up your chocolate shell very carefully, and position it above the cake.  Gently and carefully lower it over the top.
  • Wrap the outside of the shell carefully with cling film and then place back into the fridge (on the board) until you're ready to sing Happy Birthday.  This will ensure the shell is as hard as possible, and will enable a nice big 'crack' on first hit.

Step 5: Smash and Enjoy!

Serve the cake with a hammer for smashing, preferably a kid's hammer. We used a meat cleaver as we couldn't find the kid's hammers that were supposed to be in their toolbox!  I probably wouldn't recommend that as your first choice though. ;)

Let the kids go crazy!

If you're in Perth and want someone else to do the hard work for you...I'm happy to discuss creating a cake like this for you.  Contact me.

If you're looking for more birthday cake ideas, check out my gallery here

To my darling sons, I promise you this...

Letter to my sons Mama Pyjama

To my darling sons,

As you near your 4th and 6th birthdays and our conversations are focused on the types of cakes we’ll have, the games we’ll play and whether we’ll have a Paw Patrol or Angry Birds party - there’s another conversation I’d like to share with you.  It’s the one that goes on in my mind in the wee hours of the morning whilst you’re both sound asleep in your beds; one flat on your back sleeping blissfully, the other curled up in a ball in the safety of your doona ‘cocoon’.  It’s full of silent promises I make to you both, when only the universe is listening.

There have been times, and there will continue to be times, where I don’t handle situations the best way that I could.  Sometimes I yell.  Sometimes I say something stupid.  Sometimes I even take my bad mood out on you.  Because even though I’m your mum, I’m human and I’m learning, and to be honest sometimes I’m just really really tired.  I can’t promise this won’t continue to happen at times, but I can promise to try harder.  I can also promise you that no matter what, I will never put you to bed without hugging, kissing and telling you I love you.  I’ll do everything in my power to ensure you know that I love you beyond measure and that nothing could ever change that.  No bad mood, no poor decision, no badly spoken word.  Nothing.   

I promise to be there for you whenever you need me.  I promise to let you go when you need to learn something for yourself.  I promise to protect you with everything I have, but I also promise to allow you to fall, to fail, and to make your own choices (even if you will later look at them as mistakes, and even if letting you make them causes me to age ten years in a day).  Because this is what being a good parent is all about.  I can’t live your life for you, I can’t protect you from ever being hurt, but I can provide a safe place to always return to.  You will always have a place to go.  No matter what.

I promise to tell you every single day how important you are.  I will remind you when you’re feeling insecure or anxious or scared, that no matter what – you have all the tools inside you to take on anything you want to.  I will fill your bucket so high that it won’t matter how many bumps and cracks and holes it gets along your journey through life, it’ll never run dry.

When someone puts you down or doesn’t want to play with you, I promise to help you through those times without allowing the lioness inside me to take over.  I promise to suggest to you that perhaps they were just having a bad day and that they took their bad mood out on you.  Or I’ll remind you that not everyone in life likes the same things, because if they did there wouldn’t be enough polony and sauce sandwiches to go around.  And then I’ll teach you that this extends to people too.  Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok…because you like you and lots of other people do too, especially me. 

When you’re doubting yourself and you want to quit, I promise to remind you that you don’t have to be the best at everything you do.  You just need to try YOUR best.  I will explain that you don’t need to be better than anyone else, because focusing on being better than others will make you forget that we all share the same universe and that you as much as anyone else adds value.  I’ll teach you to celebrate the ‘successes’ of others, and treat others with the same kindness and compassion that I will teach you to show yourself.

I promise all these things to you, but most of all I promise to teach you how important it is to love yourself.  Sometimes I will teach you through conversations, through praise, or by working through your feelings on good and bad days.  Other times I will teach you through actions, including loving myself enough to do things for me sometimes, because it’s important that you see me living my life in the way I wish for you. 

I promise to make this my biggest promise because when you love yourself, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or does.  It doesn’t matter whether you get that big job, or if you captain the footy team.  It doesn’t matter where you finish in the running race, or whether you’ve got more money than your neighbour.  It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or if you’re buffed up or skinny.  

If you love yourself, you won’t spend a lifetime chasing happiness – trying to find it in other people, in possessions, in achievements.  When you truly love yourself; happiness naturally follows.  This is my ultimate wish for you both – happiness, in its most pure form. Happiness unrelated to anything other than just being.  So I promise to do everything I possibly can to ensure you are brought up to believe in yourself and to know your own worth and value, and to love and honour yourself as a result.  And if at the end of the day you love yourself with even a quarter of the amount of love I have for you – then I’ve done my job.

So happy birthday my angels!  May your days be bursting with expressions of love from family and friends, and your hearts and tummies full enough to carry you through another beautiful year…

Mama xoxo