You know the picture: the adorable, pin-curled fifties housewife, in a perfect little circle-skirt dress with a darling half-apron tied at her tiny waist, bends over in her heels and pulls a tray of perfect little circle-cut cookies from her beautiful, pristine oven in her immaculate kitchen. No dirty dishes in the sink, no flour in her hair. No burned edges or squishy centers. Just perfection, served effortlessly.
And here's my picture: the slightly sleepy, disheveled erstwhile student, in wrinkled pajama bottoms and a dingy men's undershirt, spends hours and every dish in her kitchen making all manner of goodies for her tea party, and when she pulls the cookies from the oven they're melting into each other, burning and simultaneously too raw, the beautiful patterns of the expensive cookie cutters becoming no more than blobs in the heat of the electric oven.
So why the difference? Didn't I work hard enough, plan far enough in advance? Apparently not. For one thing, I didn't take measurements of my tiny, horrible little oven, which left me with two brand-new, expensive baking sheets that were too long, and batch after batch of destroyed would-be Linzer cookies melting into one another in everything from disposable pie tins to chicken casserole pans.
I also assumed that converting from fahrenheit to celsius would create the correct environment for my beautiful little circles of dough. I was wrong again. Basically the whole thing was a disaster, and I was so tired from having cooked and cleaned the whole day before, and I burst into tears and almost threw the cookies across the room.
But of course I didn't. My boyfriend took over on the cookie front, convincing me that they didn't have to be sandwich cookies to be tasty, and I worked on the scones, which did turn out cute as well as tasty.
The tea party was a success, at least in terms of the food. Everything was adorable, including my Edward Hopper hat, and those guests who didn't bail seemed quite pleased with the sustenance provided. So I suppose the moral this time around is this: everything won't work the way you want it to, no matter how hard you try. The only way to make everything come out perfectly is to stop expecting it to come out perfectly and accept the way it does come out. Kind of like loving your kids for who they are, instead of being disappointed that they aren't smarter/cuter/better behaved. My kids are my baked goods, and I love them just as they are.