Tuesday, 24 March 2009
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
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 believe.....one 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
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
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 technical......my 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!!
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!!!
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
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!
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
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!
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Saturday, 7 March 2009
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 www.lastminute.com). 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
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!!
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!
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
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.
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 though............so 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
Here is my version of a wonderful recipe I found on a LOVELY blog http://ayearatoakcottage.blogspot.com/
Monday, 2 March 2009
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
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 love........so what could be better?
Well, they say little things please little minds - and I guess this proves the point quite nicely.