Friday, 15 May 2009

Prom Practice

Prom Practice
Originally uploaded by bassettsfarm

So, here is my "baby" girl, Grace, last night. We had a practice for her Prom - which is tonight. She wanted me to do her hair and to try her lovely dress on. She looked just beautiful - and even more gorgeous this evening when she got dressed up for real.

I have neglected my blog terribly these last few weeks. I do apologise. I've been really busy with one thing another - and you will be seeing lots of the new cakes and cookies and cuppies that I've been making over the coming days.

I have been making lots of cakes - only for pleasure and for friends still - but I love the practice it allows me.

I just wanted to show everyone my lovely girl - she will be 16 in about a month's time and I am looking forward to it - but dreading it at the same time. It makes me feel so old, to have such a young lady as a daughter. She is ater prom as I write this and I just know she is having such a fantastic time.

I shall give a full report tomorrow - but for now I must go to sleep before my eyes do on their own!!


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Squires Kitchen Exhibition

I've been neglecting my blog for the past couple of weeks - and I'm sorry (to all TWO of my loyal followers!). No excuses really, just the usual busy life getting in the way of me doing what I want to....sit down and waffle on!

I am being forced to take it easy today though, because I feel so ill. I have some sort head cold or flu or something coming on, so I have a thumping headache, a sore throat and am aching all over. The perfect time to just sit down and quietly reflect on things.

On Saturday, I went to the Squires Kitchen Sugarcraft Exhibition in Farnham in Surrey. What a beautiful town Farnham is. I had only been there once before, and didnt' remember anything about it - but it was a delightful place, so pretty, with a proper "old fashioned" town centre. Lots of independent shops and boutiques - just lovely.

Anyway, back to the exhibition. I was one of the lucky first 100 in the queue, so was given a delightful goodie bag, filled with all sorts of treats and samples. Then, when I went inside, there was a whole world of sugar just waiting to tempt me! There were new products for sale, magazines and books, demonstrations of different techniques, displays of Wedding Cakes and a whole room full of competition entries in various catagories, from cupcakes to miniature wedding cakes. I had never seen miniature cakes before - these are not just small cakes - these are tiny works of art. I don't really know anything about them - why people make them, or where the art originated (I suspect it is a Japanese craft - like Bonsai trees, but I don't honestly know). When I was last into cake decorating (about 15yrs ago) there was no such thing........... but now I have become interested in sugarcraft again, it seems that this is a new fashion. Anyway, some of these tiny, perfect little tiered wedding cakes were just so precious. The flowers adorning them were the tiniest little things, all wired into superb little bouquets. I have taken some photos and will show them over the coming days and weeks.

I wanted to show you a photo of the goodies I came away with. I used Mothers' Day as an excuse to treat myself to some new gadgets and gizmos. I haven't used all of them as yet, but the ones I have used, I am thrilled with, and the rest, I am just itching to get to grips with.

I am off to get myself a couple of painkillers and to try to rest a bit before Archie gets out of nursery - rest will NOT be on the menu then!!!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Viking Bay

Viking Bay
Originally uploaded by Pablo101

I found this beautiful photo on Flickr, in one of the groups I follow called Broadstairs. I just fell in love with this photo the moment I saw it. It's of one of my very favourite places in all the world - Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent.

I've been visiting Broadstairs since I was a little girl, and I now take my children there every year. Broadstairs is a place full of happy memories for me - and ones that can leap right to the front of my mind every time I get back there, because it hasn't changed all that much over the years. Of course, some things change - and each year we notice how a shop or two has been replaced by a different business, or a restaurant may have changed hands - but on the whole, Broadstairs is a wonderful place that remains - to me at least - perfect.

I liked this photo so much, that I looked at all the others taken by the same phtotgrapher. Without wishing to sound too much like a mad fan or would-be stalker, his photos are fantastic. He has several more of Broadstairs, and then pages and pages more of stunning photos - I loved looking at every single one of them. I'm totally ignorant about how to take a good photo, or how to work a fancy camera - my albums and now computer are filled with "snaps", taken literally to just capture a moment I think I will remember in more detail just by looking back at my rushed photographic evidence!

Looking at Paul's work makes me want to take the time to learn more and manage to capture images that I would be proud to hang on my walls, as I would every single one of his pictures (apart from a rather too up close and personal shot of a spider!).

But, I don't think it is something I could learn. I might be able to work out how to use a camera in a slightly more advanced way than my current aim and snap fashion, but I just don't think that I would ever have the talent to capture scenes the way he does. It's a God given talent, I that I don't have! I have been to Viking Bay, and to that very spot where Paul must have been standing, hundreds and hundreds of times - and yet I've never seen it like that! He also has photos of somewhere that is just around the corner to my old home - a place that I went past every single morning on my way to work, and yet I had never "seen" it, until I looked at the photograph.

I think that a lot of people are probably guilty of thinking that a work of art has to be drawn or painted - but give me the artwork of "Pablo101" on Flickr any day! Paul's photos make me happy - so I shall look at them often, and enjoy them and the mood they create for me.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Home Economics

Here's a lovely, happy photo of my three cheeky children together. It's a couple of years old now, and it amazes me just how much they have all changed so much in that short space of time. Grace, on the right, is now quite the young lady, soon to be 16, and at the moment she is very busy with studying for her GCSEs. Alice is so much more grown up looking than she was in this photo - she's not a chubby little girl any more. And Archie - well, he is now 4, and quite a handful.

They are lovely kids though, and all of them different in character, but very alike in some ways. They are all very caring, they each have a great sense of humour, and would do anything for each other.

As this blog is supposed to be primarily about baking - I was just thinking about each of the children, and how different they are about wanting to cook. As long as he gets to lick the bowl or have some goodies, Archie loves to help. He will get his little booster stool and hop up to watch me and get involved........ constantly hinting that "those sweeties look nice" or "that icing looks yummmmmy". As for Alice, well - she is happy to do any job for me, as long as she is getting her hands dirty and messy. There is nothing she likes more than the mucky jobs, and where I will find any way, tool or piece of machinery to prevent me getting messy hands, Alice will just want to dive right in there and get gunky. She has always been the same, and I remember when she was small and at nursery she would ask to do painting..........and then be content to just paint her hands with layer upon layer of coloured paint. Then there's Grace. Quite different to the other two - she doesn't help in the kitchen, and has no interest in cooking at the moment whatsoever. I have tried to encourage her, and include her with various different projects - and it wasn't until recently that she told me the reason she hated anything to do with cooking............ the cleaning up afterwards. She said that it did look like it might be fun, but that she had seen me clearing up after a cooking session, and it was NOT for her.

When I was at school, we did Home Economics, and learnt all sorts of things about cooking, running a home, catering for different diets and needs, and how to "bake from scratch". I am now 43, so it really isn't that long ago that I was at school. I am thankful that we had those lessons at school, because it was through those that I learnt to love cooking. I can remember the very first thing we made - stuffed eggs. It was basically just mixing hard boiled egg yolk with mayonnaise and tuna, then piping it back into the hollowed out egg whites. But, from that first lesson, I was hooked. We learnt how to make all sorts of things - choux pastry, puff pastry, cakes, savoury dishes....... Wednesday nights were frequently spent eating the results of my latest Home Economics lesson for dinner.

I didn't realise that things had changed so much in schools until my daughters started secondary school. No longer was Home Economics on the curriculum. No longer was it something they did every week, until they decided whether or not to take it at exam level. Now, they have it mixed in with "Textiles and Resistant Materials", and they do it for a term a year. That means that in the three years Grace took it, she only actually had cookery lessons for about 30 weeks, and practical lessons for less than half of that time.

She came home one day and told me they needed to take in the ingredients to make an apple pie. I was preparing myself to rummage around and find lots of little plastic containers for the various things she would need..............until she gave me the shopping list of things they had been told to get. I don't know if you will be as shocked as I was, but this is what was on the list:

1 tin of apple pie filling
1 packet of frozen pastry

Another time, they were going to be doing fairy cakes. By this time, I thought I was prepared for anything - and as I LOVE to make cakes (and so know how very easy it is to whip up a batch of fairy cakes!) I had everything to hand.................................... or so I thought. The list of ingredients was as follows:

1 packet of ready made fairy cakes (or home made ones if you prefer)
1 packet of roll out icing
various sweets and decorations

Now, I'm not a super intelligent person, I don't get paid heaps of money to advise the public about healthy eating, I don't analyse statistics about how obese our children are becoming, I'm not able to have a TV programme or head up a campaign to make school dinners healthier. BUT - I CAN see that if we want our children to live healthier futures, we have to TEACH THEM how to cook healthy things, how to recognise a balanced diet and include things that are good for them. I think that Jamie Oliver should use his high profile and influence to do something about implementing some sort of change to the curriculum in our schools, and teach the next generation how to cook properly - and not to think that to make an apple pie all you need is a tin of pie filling and a pack of frozen pastry!

Friday, 13 March 2009

My Red Nose Poster

My Red Nose Poster
Originally uploaded by bassettsfarm

Happy Red Nose Day to everyone. I just made this using fd's Flickr Toys and I am SO proud of myself. I am really hopeless at anything best friend Dunn is going to be SO impressed with me!

Actually, it is probaby just a very good advert for fd's Flickr Toys - they truly are idiot proof!!

MORE cookies today

Here are a couple of cookies that I CAN show you, because I made these and DIDN'T enter them into the Cookie Challenge. As I think I mentioned, the themes were Easter and Spring, and we had to produce 3 for each. Well, Easter was the easy one - as you can tell by these "rejects". I can't tell you what I did eventually enter - but it wasn't an egg or a cross!!!
I was actually really pleased with the way these came out, because I have never used royal icing on biscuits/cookies before - I have always chickened out and used rolled fondant instead. But, this wasn't as scary as I'd thought, and the results were rather good. I'll be doing it again - when I have more time to play.
Well, the girls have gone to school in their "non-uniform" outfits, and Archie has gone to nursery for what he imagines is going to be a "Red Nose Party". I think the Red Raffle will be fun - there were some rather nice prizes there this morning....... I had my eye on a red box of Belgian chocolates. Let's hope if our ticket is a winner, Archie doesn't want to choose the prize though. I'll end up with a box of RED NOSE COOKIES that I donated! Alice, my middle child, definitely looked as if she was "Doing Something Funny For Money" this morning. Her outfit was extremely colourful - tangerine coloured jeans, yellow shoes, an orange top and a blue and white stripey jumper............ the only thing is - she WASN'T kidding. It was an outfit she was happily wearing, with no idea how dazzling she looked! I am sure that she is either colour blind or eccentric!
I am off to do some cooking before I collect Archie.......and that box of Belgian chocs, hopefully!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Red Nose Day Cookies

Here they are............. the Red Nose Day mini cookies I made for Archie to take to nursery tomorrow. You might notice there seem to be a couple missing from the first photo - that's because no matter how many times I told Archie he had to WAIT until I had taken the photos before he ate them - he could NOT resist sneaking a couple (thinking I wouldn't notice I guess!!!).
These were a bit rushed because I have also been finishing off the cookies for my "flickr challenge". I can't show you those just yet, because they have to be entered anonymously. But, as soon as the voting is over, I'll post them on here so you can all have a giggle!!!
I am now putting off cleaning up the devastation that IS my kitchen! It will have to be done very soon though, because I have to start on dinner. I was reading something yesterday that has really set me thinking...... well, daydreaming, actually. I joined a new flickr group, and there were lots of other ladies introducing themselves on there. Anyway, one of them was wrote that sometime this year she and her family will be moving house, and that she is determined to find a house to buy that can accommodate TWO kitchens - so that she can have one "industrial" type one for her catering business, and one normal one for her family cooking. The more I think of it, the more appealing the idea becomes. Not only would you have one that is all approved by the Environmental Health Department............ but you wouldn't have to be clearing up and packing away everything before you can get on with your everyday cooking. What a joy!!
I've always wanted a separate room for my hobbies - so that I don't have to get my sewing machine, or sugarcraft tools, or pottery out and then put it all away again every time I feel like doing some crafty type work. Now I'm thinking along the lines of a separate Hobby Room and a separate kitchen. Goodness, before you know it, I will have moved myself out and have a completely separate my dreams!!!
Well, reality (and washing up) calls.
Hope you like the cookies.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Cookie Day

Today, I am making cookies - these are some "older" ones that I made - the mitten ones were for Archie to take into his nursery for his little friends as Christmas treats, and the flower and sailing boat ones were for him to take in when it was his birthday at the end of January. They were a real hit with his friends (and their mums!), so I thought I would make some to sell on Friday, for Red Nose Day. I'll show you the results later on. Luckily, it shouldn't be too difficult to just do some red noses!
However - I have managed to get myself into a little competition (just for fun - no prizes involved) on flickr, where I have a page for all my creations. I have joined up to several groups over there - and it is absolutely wonderful. The ladies there are so friendly and supportive - and always willing to share tips and ideas and their wealth of knowledge. Anyway, one of the groups I joined (it's called Flickr Bake-Off) does these "throwdown challenges" where 2 people agree to make something (for instance, just recently there has been a 3D car themed cake, a 3D animal and a baby shower cake) and then, they post photos of their creations, and everyone votes for which one is their favourite. Well, not being that brave (OR that talented!!) to take someone on "one to one", I decided to join in another challenge in a different group. This group is called "Sweet Treats", and the challenge is open to MORE than two people - currently there are 10 of us signed up for it - which I think will be nicer (especially for the likes of me, who probably wouldn't stand a chance of getting ONE vote if I entered the one-to-one competitions!). The idea is to make 6 cookies........3 to be Easter related and 3 to be Spring related. Photographs of these are to be emailed to one lady, who will then publish all of them next week for people to vote on.
So, obviously, I can't show you those cookies until after the competition is over, because I could be accused of cheating and getting friends to vote for the cookies they know are mine. But, as soon as the competition is over, I will post the photos on here........... unless I don't get ONE vote, in which case, I'll destroy the photos and not mention it ever again!
Still, I guess it's not the winning, it's the taking part that's important......and not everyone can win! At school, I was always absolutely hopeless at P.E. - I was that girl who was always the last one to be picked for a team! I thought I'd left all that behind me, until I went to my daughters' Primary School Sports Days.......... and heard some of the mums and how serious they were about the "fun" Mums' Race. I can remember even saying to one lady "well, if there weren't those of us who take part just for FUN, then YOU wouldn't be a winner". I always felt really sorry for her little boy, who was clearly better at academic things than physical activities, as she used to yell at him and get really cross with him when he came stumbling in last! I'll think of little Jamie when I am lagging behind in the voting for the cookies!!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Love is in the air.....

Today, I thought I'd show you some old cake photos - well, not THAT old - from just around Valentine's Day. The big heart shaped cake was made as a raffle prize for a fundraising event went to at the local village primary school. It was a really fun evening - a Mr & Mrs Night.... where couples competed against each other to see how well they knew each other. Some of the questions and challenges were a real test for the couples.....and I am so glad that I was just a member of the audience!
The other cakes were made as part of a gift for my Mum's birthday (which is on February 9th). I made lots of cakes (so I could try out a new cake stand - more photos another time!) and she took lots home with her..........including a little pack I made for her next door neighbour....a delightful lady who has had a bad time of it lately one way and another. I made the little fabric basket that the cakes are in - and she can either use it for little odds and ends.........or send it back to me for a refill of cakes!
It's cold and rainy and horrible here today - just the day to stay in and snuggle up by the fire with a good book, or an old film on the tele, or both .......... with a cuppa and some cake! Of course, I have to make the cake I think I shall go and do that now.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Smiley Sunday

Here is a photo that always makes me smile. This is my dear little Archie when he was less than a year old - he turned 4 in January, so he looks a bit different now. Oh, he was SUCH a cutie when he was a chubby little chap like this. He absolutely hated the bath when he was a tiny baby, and it wasn't really until we got him this little seat that he started to enjoy splashing about in the water. He is such a dear little boy, and has brought us all a lot of joy and happiness.
I haven't time for much of a natter today - it's been kind of hectic. The usual weekend laundry and everything else - plus the drains blocked up that all had to be dealt with. Rob to the rescue again (that wonder - neighbour, who even has his own set of drain rods!).
Oh well, off to get on with dinner now.............and then some ironing! Lucky, lucky me.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Back From London!

We are back from our trip to London! I am SO glad to be back home in our little house in the middle of a field! I was born and grew up in London, so it isn't like I'm not used to the "big city", but isn't it amazing what we get used to? I love my periodic visits to London, but I would just hate to live there again now.

Today we went to Covent Garden - part of the way on the tube..........and it was misery. I don't know how I used to travel to work on the tube every single day - either I remember it differently, or else it has got a whole lot worse since those days when I was a regular commuter. Today was hell - soooo busy, boiling hot, smelly, queues for everything from the tickets to the lifts/escalators - the platforms were just mobbed with people, it was just horrible. AND, for the pleasure of all that - and travelling a matter of a few stops, we were charged almost £6 each!!!!!

Fortunately, the reason for our trip was a lot more pleasurable than the travelling to and from. Dear old Mark had booked a special deal Theatre and Dinner package (from First, we had lunch at a lovely English restaurant (and we commented that you don't often find "English" restaurants - unless they are a carvery or a Harvester!) called Porters. It was excellent - LOVELY food (I had Salmon and Prawn Fishcakes with a Green Salad, and Mark had Faggots with Mash and then we both had the Syrup Steamed Sponge Pudding - with cream!), great service and such friendly staff. We then ambled across to the theatre to see the fab play The Woman in Black. We got all that for just £20 each - what a bargain eh? The play was really good - very spooky, but with some quite light-hearted comedy moments - and only TWO actors in it (apart from the "ghost" of the Woman in Black!).

After the play, we fought our way back through the crowds onto the tube and back to the car, and eventually home again. It was lovely to see the kids....yes, I KNOW I was only gone for 8 hours, but I do miss them so much when I'm not with them! Archie was full of the new toy my Mum had bought him today - a new Mr Men figurine AND an "endagered animal" panda bear from McDonalds (he DOES love their fish fingers!).

My feet are sore, my back is aching, and I am sooo happy to be home - BUT, I had a great day too.

On another note - I delivered the 65 cake this morning before we left, and the lady LOVED it. I was so relieved.

I am headed off to bed now - hoping that I won't have bad dreams of a Woman in Black!!!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Finished.... at last!!

At last....... it's finished. The photos are absolute rubbish, but I wanted to get a few snaps and put them on here this evening, before I crash out for the night! Because it was dark and I was basically just "snapping" away. the blue looks a lot lighter than it really is, and there are loads of shadows on the cake, making it look like there are marks on it............but there aren't. I will try to get some more photos tomorrow, but I have to deliver this at 10.30 in the morning, and it's going to be a real rush in the morning, so I just wanted to make sure I had some record of it - before it goes off and gets itself chopped up!!
It was a nightmare .......... it just seemed to be one problem after another with the making of this one. I'm glad it's finished, I just now hope and pray the customer is pleased with it.
I'm turning in for the night now, and will be back with more about this cake and some others tomorrow...... at some time.
I am being treated to an afternoon and evening in London tomorrow - we are going to the theatre and for a meal, so it might well be late evening before I get to post tomorrow.
I daresay that I'll also have a "review" of the play too!

Almost Done!

I am still doing the 65 cake...............and I am thinking that I am going to have to re-make the 6. I'm not happy with the way it is at the moment. I shall wait until I collect the girls from school, and ask their opinion. I think I already know what they will say......................."make it again, Mum" (just because they want to eat the old one - they don't care what a cake looks like!!).

I also want to have a go at the giant cupcake using the tin I hired this week. I just don't know if I will get the time though. If not, there's always another day!

Well, I'd better get back to it. More news, and hopefully some photos, later.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Here are a couple of 60th Birthday cakes I did recently. Both for the same customer (but a month or two apart!) - one for her Dad, one for her father-in-law. She had told me what she wanted for the first one (the one with Poppy on), and then when she ordered the next one, she said she wanted a 60, in blue & white, for "Bill" (ALL the same as before), but she said "but can you make it a bit different to the last one please?"!!! Hhhmmmmm - well, I tried!
The reason I'm putting these on today is because I have another "number" cake to do today..... this time a 65 cake......and guess what - it's blue and white again, but at least this man isn't called Bill!
It's cold out again today - the car was completely frosted up this morning when we went out. Glad that heating got mended yesterday. It's quite amazing to me that my daughters will go to such lengths to avoid helping me de-ice the car. Normally they try to hide in the house until it's done - but this morning they made the mistake of getting out there before me............. but they STILL managed to get the better of me by saying they had spotted a pheasant on the woodshed and the sun was shining on it just right - so they had to take photos!! It's a hard life being a teenager, isn't it?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Hooray....the heating's fixed!

Mr BoilerMan arrived and fixed my broken boiler for me ....HOORAY. Now me and the kiddies are lovely and snuggly warm tonight.

My dear friend Denise came round this afternoon, and she stayed for dinner. It was lovely for us to have a guest, and I think (I hope!) it was lovely for her - she is a HUGE Archie fan, and he was definitely showing off to her this evening.

I made her some cakes (just basic vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing) and she took some home with her. There were some left over for us, and the girls have enjoyed a couple each - I daresay Archie will tuck in tomorrow. Tonight he was too busy with the Mr Men to worry about food.............he just LOVES Mr Men & Little Misses and knows all their names (although some of the pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired..............Little Miss Daredevil is "Little Miss Dare-Double" for some reason!!).

I have cakes to make tomorrow - so at least I may have some "new" photos to share.

It's SOOOOO cold today!

OK - so this is an OLD photo...............but it FEELS like it's snowing here today it is so cold! Yes, the boiler repair man arrived yesterday.........and took TWO HOURS to diagnose what Rob next door had guessed it was in about 30 seconds over the phone. He then said that he would have to "try" to get the replacement part, but didn't know how long it will take because it's "rare". Just my luck...........having a rare boiler. Anyway, he managed to leave it so that we have hot water, but no heating - which sounded like a good idea (and IS - for the washing up!) BUT, none of us are brave enough to have a bath because of how freeeeeezing cold it will be once we get out!

Still, I managed to warm up in the car this morning. They have closed my road for "retexturing" and although the man who sits guard at the top of the road let me through, I got to within 100 yards of my lane and the workers wouldn't let me I had to back and take the diversion and go the other way.......which added 3 miles to my journey!! gggrrrrrr.

Well - I'll be back later - just wanted to get my thoughts down (and keep my fingers working LOL).

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Bob the Builder Cakes

I like to put photos on here (adds a bit of excitement to the dreary boredom of my writing!), and, although most of them won't be brand new, they are things that mean something to me. These two are of two VERY difference Bob the Builder cakes I recently made.
There's quite a funny story behind it. Somebody asked me if I would make a Bob cake for her little boy, Albert, which I agreed to do. I found and bought a book - for inspiration AND modelling help - all about Bob the Builder cakes. So far so good.............. until my now 4 year old (at the time 3 year old!), Archie, got hold of the book, went right through it, and decided he wanted me to make him the "snowball" cake for his birthday (which was on 28 Jan). I kept trying to put him off, offer him various alternatives, bribe him - anything........... but he was insistent. It HAD to be the snowball cake. Which to me, looked like the most difficult thing in the world. I was worrying over it so much. One of my friends even suggested I could make it an avalanche cake - just a BIG heap on a board.
Well, I tackled it - and, as you can see, it came out OK....................but I am glad it was only for one of "my own" - and not for a paying customer!!!! Archie was thrilled with it, and that's the main thing.
On another note, I am sitting here waiting (in the cold) for the boiler repair man to arrive. Last night, as I went to wash up, there was no hot water. I KNEW we couldn't possibly have run out of oil - it was only delivered last week. Anyway, the heating was working, so it wasn't that. So, I rang my WONDERFUL neighbour, Rob (you'll hear lots about him over the weeks and months, no doubt - he rescues me from all sorts of fixes!) who said it sounded like a valve had gone wrong, and that I needed to call the repair man. There we were, thanking goodness that we still had heating............when I noticed that the radiators were getting HOTTER AND HOTTER - so I had to turn the heating off too. I guess it might be more than one valve that needs fixing or replacing................ but I should find out today, as the repair man is coming over asap.

Chicken, Cheddar and Sage Tart

Here is my version of a wonderful recipe I found on a LOVELY blog
Marie has a whole range of scrummy recipes on there - and I just could NOT resist having a go at this one (although I was really short of time yesterday and decided against making my own pastry, substituting pre-packaged filo pastry instead). It came out really well - and there was (amazingly) a slice left so I can now test out what it's like cold too.
Do check out Marie's blog - she has really lovely recipes, and a blog that makes me want to pack up and go and visit her, so I can experience life in her happy home.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Tilt Shift Photos and other stuff

Well, have a look at this!! Less than 24 hours after seeing my first "TiltShift" photo (which is what I now know they are called), I've managed to do one of my own! To be fair, it wasn't exactly rocket science - there is a wonderful website that allows you to uploads your own photos and then it just gives it this it's a bit of a cheat really (but I still feel like I'm clever!!!). Here's the link to this fab website, if you fancy having a go yourself

You will notice that my photos is NOWHERE NEAR as good as Nigel's (below), but this IS my first attempt, and done with a photo that wasn't really that good in the first place! Incidentally, the photo is of the gorgeous gardens at Bressingham in Diss, Norfolk. We went there for a day in the summer - it's great. Steam train rides, a beautiful old carousel ride, a fantastic garden centre and the delightful gardens....something for everyone.

I haven't spent ALL day looking at photos to tilt-shift (if that's the right term). I've also had a productive day getting things ready for a cake I have to make later on in the week. I always thought I would hate making "number" cakes - and then someone asked me for a "60" a couple of months back. Then, the same lady asked me for another "60" (the first had been for her dad, the second for her father in law) a few weeks back. Now, someone else has asked for a "65" for her dad.......... so much for not wanting to do number cakes. Actually, I quite enjoy doing them - they are certainly a challenge when it comes to icing them. I also quite enjoy the fact you have a large board - so it gives scope for more varied decorations.

I am off to make dinner now - a slightly altered version of a Chicken, Cheese and Sage Tart that I saw on another blog. I say altered because I decided to save time and not make my own pastry, but to buy ready made filo pastry...also should be a bit more slimming than making my own!

I'll be back on here later with the verdict. Watch this space.........

Sunday, 1 March 2009

tiny harbour

tiny harbour
Originally uploaded by NigelBread

How COOL is this? Leading the sheltered life I do, I have never seen these sort of photos before, but I discovered this on flickr just now and I LOVE IT!! It's of one of my favourite places in the world - Broadstairs. It also looks like it's a model village - another thing I REALLY what could be better?

Well, they say little things please little minds - and I guess this proves the point quite nicely.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Well, when I say "Lazy" what I really mean is "worn out, but not finished yet"!! I've just taken a break from washing, ironing, housework and finding things for everyone else in here who think that I know where everything is!

So, last night I made some cupcakes (and a large sponge cake, at the request of Archie, my 4 year old son). I just about managed to get Alice (the 13 year old) to snap some photos of them before she took the box to her friend's house with her, and Archie devoured the summery one - having conveniently forgotten that the "plain" sponge was what he had asked for!

Alice stayed over at her friend's house last night, and this morning she reported that everyone loved them, her friend's mum asked if she could keep the card I had (very slyly!) popped in the box, and wanted to know if I take orders. Errr................YES! I'd LOVE to. I guess it will just take time to spread the word. In the meantime, my family have to be chief samplers...........which they don't seem to object to!

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Welcome to my blog!

Hello and WELCOME. I'm really not sure that anyone but me will ever read this, but anyway - it will keep me busy (as if I don't have enough to do that already!). Hopefully this will be more than just a diary for me - I am hoping that this will be somewhere I can waffle on about the cakes and cupcakes I LOVE making.

I originally started decorating cakes when I was little more than a child (I know that sounds corny, but it's true!). I can remember making and decorating a Christmas cake when I was about 11 or 12...using royal icing in peaks to look like snow, those little plastic snowmen (yes, this WAS the 70s!!!) and some tin foil placed to look like a pond!

I carried on making cakes for fun (and for family members) and kept promising myself I would take some classes, until in 1992 - I was getting married. So, I decided (foolishly, I now realise, looking back) to make my own wedding cake. I found a wonderful shop that offered lessons in Sugarcraft, and I took several courses, in how to use fondant icing properly, how to make wedding cakes, and how to make sugar flowers. I eventually finished my wedding cake the night before the wedding (no Hen Night for me!!), and it was lovely - but it was something that someone else should have been worrying about on my wedding day - as the bride, I should have been getting myself ready, not setting up a cake at the venue a couple of hours before I was due in church. Oh well, you live and learn.

On the run up to the wedding, I had been getting as much practice as possible, making cakes for colleages and friends (who very generously paid me to do this - even though my attempts weren't that good at first). Just over a year after I got married, I gave birth to my gorgeous baby girl Grace, so I kind of let the cakes slip a bit - although I carried on making them for her and then my other daughter Alice, after she was was born in 1995.

Over the years, I've gone from one crafting project to the next, enjoying lots of them, and wanting to find something to make some extra money - when all the time, cakes were staring me in the face! I started up again a year or two ago, after discovering there was a cupcake craze that didn't seem to be going away. It hadn't really "hit" Essex, so I thought I'd make some and see how they went down at local school events and Christmas Fayres. The answer is - they were admired and enjoyed by lots of people (most of whom didn't know I had ever had a hidden passion for making and decorating cakes), and this gave me confidence to carry on.

This year seems to be more "cakey" than ever, and I am making more and more cakes, which I am really enjoying.

As for the future - well, it would be my absolute dream to have a successful business selling my creations, but we'll have to wait and see. At the moment, my main problem is that I don't have the self-confidence to charge people what I should for cakes, so the "successful business" is still a dream, and I guess will be until I get tough enough (or confident enough, or busy enough) to charge more. Well, as I said earlier, we live and learn, so "watch this blog" and hopefully 2009 will be the year I start to make my dream a reality.

I want to use this blog to showcase some of my creations, and I will always welcome feedback and comments - and if anyone is local to me, I would LOVE to let you have samples of my cakes so that you can (hopefully) verify that they taste good too. There's nothing worse than the promise of a scrummy cake by the look of it, only to be disappointed with the flavour or texture.