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How Very Non Martha of Me

Posted Dec 03 2012 12:00am

I'm not a big fan of the women's magazines, and I rarely read them. But this time of year, they're virtually everywhere – you're almost invariably inundated with images of magazine perfect holiday gatherings. I try not to read them, try not to even look at them: I know they're going to make me feel bad about myself. And I can do that well enough alone, I don't need any help in that manner.

But something about Christmas always makes me want to try harder, do more, embrace more "Martha Stewart" lifestyle changes.

Take this weekend for example. It was my plan that we decorate the house for Christmas. I know that many people have done it earlier than now, but I have a personal vendetta against decorating before December 1. So, Saturday was December 1, and I decreed that once I finished my work for the day, we would set up the tree. It was a good way to get everyone to help clean up, because they were excited to decorate.

I also decided that I was going to make chocolate cake. That has nothing to do with now, but factors in later.

Somehow or another, time got away from me, and it was evening before we began to decorate the tree. And when my kids were decorating, I took a step back for the hubbub to observe, and I just broke out in laughter. In my mind, we were living a Hannah Anderson dream. Everyone was adorable, everyone matched, and no one fought. The reality? Well I'll let you be the judge of that.

No one's pajamas matched the other. In fact, no one's pajamas even matched their own. Some people were in jeans, and despite the heat being on, wore sweatshirts. Three of my kids fought almost nonstop, loudly enough that it mostly drowned it out the Christmas carols. One of my big people was not even home. We had broken ornaments. We had missing ornaments. We had fighting, tantrums, yelling, cursing, swearing, inflated egos and grandiose ideas that will never come to fruition, and oh! the complaining – it definitely wasn't my best Martha Stewart moment. We plugged away and it got done, but I almost felt like a failure. At the end, I just wanted everyone to go to bed, already. I was sweaty and exhausted and a better Grinch than the Grinch himself.

Never mind basking in the moment or enjoying the tree.

And then the cake. Oh, that cake!

I've seen the picture on Pinterest, and had an enormous desire to eat chocolate cake. It was all I could think about. It was all I could imagine. I was going to have chocolate cake. And this was a beauty: three layers of deep chocolate, made with coffee, frosted with dark chocolate ganache. It promised to be everything that I could want and more.

I made the three layers. I went to make the ganache, and realized I was a little short on chocolate. No problem, I thought to myself. Just reduce the amount of cream called for in equal proportions, and you'll be fine.

Yeah, well, math and I are not close. Were not even neighborhood friends. Somehow, my proportions were off, and the ganache went liquidy. No problem, I thought to myself, I am resourceful, I am intrepid.

I'll just pop it in the fridge and it will firm up.

15 minutes later, I took it out of the fridge. I put the first layer on the plate. Topped it with a bit of the slightly runny ganache, topped it with the second layer. Topped that with ganache, put on the third layer, and my phone rang. I stopped to talk to my dad, and with the phone wedged between my ear and my shoulder, I decided to finish frosting the cake. I put the ganache on the top, and the entire cake slid about 15° to the right.

No big deal.

I scooped up some ganache to spread on the top and it dripped off the spatula and dropped it on the floor. I scooped again, and in transferring it from the bowl to the cake,  it dripped onto the stove. In my haste to pick it up, I got some in my hair. The cake continued to drift just a little bit more to the side.

I tried to finish it quickly, thinking tht I could pop the cake in the fridge and the ganache would set up.

I almost made it, too.

But the last side was unfrosted, because I was a little short on ganache, thanks to my intrepid math skillz and the frosting that had been spilled. I scraped the last little bit out to try to thinly frost the remaining portion, and as I was moving it from the bowl,

a gigantic glob fell onto my foot.

At that point, I just started to laugh. I got off the phone with my dad and sat down at the bar and laughed for a good five minutes. Because really, what else could I do? It was probably the ugliest cake I've ever made, in conjunction with one of the worst Christmas tree decorating experiences I've ever had, which goes along with everything that's been going on in my personal life lately.

I am definitely no Martha Stewart. I'm not an Uber Mommy Blogger. You will never see this blog as a pinnacle of mommyism, a blog designed to tell you how incredible my life is, a blog that makes others feel bad about how they struggle.

But, if we can't laugh, we might as well just give up, right?

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