Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals!

Im on a silly 4pm to midnight shift tonight*, so to kill some time I thought I would share some Christmassy bits on my blog and wish you all a good one.

I must say that its almost become a tradition for me to have a moan about Christmas on here every year. Don’t worry, I will spare you my grumbles! Ive already complained about Christmas music in this post, and what else can I say that I haven’t bitched and moaned about already!

This year I have baked two batches of ugly (but very yummy) frangipane mince pies, made a disastrous Xmas cake and hung less decorations than ever. And thats about all the festive spirit I can muster up these days!

I have got rid of donated a lot of decorations to charity as the older I get, the more clutter seems to bother me. All I want in my lounge is a herd of camp, glittery deers, a tree full of kitschy decorations and a seasonal Mr Potato head. That is enough for me. Its bad taste minimalism, I guess.

Below are a few snaps of our decorations, including an amazing new bauble that my Mum brought me. Who knows, this might be our last Xmas in this house?xmas 15 1xmas 15 2xmas 15 3xmas 15 4As for my cake, well lets just say that my Xmas cake game is really down this year! I usually bake a cake (or two) and cover it with fondant then decorate with more fondant using my cutters. This year I fancied doing something a bit different. I had a vision of a cute, arty forest scene in my head, with fluffy, snow like icing, some strategically placed fir tree decorations and maybe a deer or two (what can I say, I do like my deers at Xmas!) dotted on top of it….bad cake 1This is not quite what I had in mind!

Oh dear, I made my icing way too runny! Plus the cake decoration shops of my town let me down with their tacky offerings, and I ended up buying a Santa sleigh decoration that was too big to fit top of my cake!bad cake 2Next year I am sticking to shop bought fondant icing!

And maybe buying a bigger cake tin!!!

Anyway, have a good bank holiday everyone. Enjoy!

*Its OK, I volunteered for it. The store I work in is hell at the moment, so I would much rather go in when its a bit quieter!

My Milk Glass Cake Stand

I thought to myself recently “my blogs got a bit show ‘n’ tell lately. I must stop going on about stuff I have bought“.

And I will do. Right after I share my indulgent purchase of the month with you, that is!

I justify this post because I think a lot of us bloggers and blog readers like stuff like pretty cakes, pretty nik-naks and a right good bargain.

Do read on if you are a fan of Vintage Pyrex, Hazel Atlas, Phoenix Opalware, Anchor Hocking Fire King, Jadeite and milk glass in general. And do read on if you have long admired the cake stands that they use as props on The Great British Bake Off and that seem to be in every photograph in every baking recipe book ever.

Look away now if you are concerned about the environmental problems with cheap consumer goods manufactured in China* and the copyright issues and ethics behind knock off goods….

Cos I got me one of these!milk glass cake stand

As Wayne and Garth would say “schwing!!”milk glass cakey

Thanks to a heads up from French for Cupcake on Instagram, I am the proud owner of a 10″ fake milk glass cake (that is actually glass not ceramic) for £9.99! They had loads at my local branch. I ummed and ahhed about what size and colour to get, and I did consider buying a few more to maybe sell on Ebay. But I would feel a right **** doing that. Its all very well selling vintage bits and bobs, as they tend to be one of a kind, but I could never rip people off with something that they could buy in a shop around the corner from themselves. Note to self – this is why I will never be rich. I am not ruthless enough!

Dodgy camera phone pic

Dodgy camera phone pic

I have long admired these cake stands and I am so pleased to own one now, and so chuffed that I saved loads of money with a much cheaper identical version!

I think to celebrate, instead of baking my usual healthy-sugar free-bananary-oaty-peanut buttery-type of slice, I need to bake something photogenic involving lots of layers, food colouring and a shed load of butter cream!

Image from Click on picture for source.

Image from Click on picture for source.

* It had a sticker on the bottom saying ‘made in China’. The real deal cake stands are made (by hand) by Mosser Glass in America.

BEDN 2 Something You Made

Day 2Share something you made – it can be a craft, a recipe, your latest DIY attempt, your babies, a home remedy or even you local community group. Interpret any way you like!

Confession time – I have a blog but I am really, really rubbish at crafting.
This kind of makes me feel like I am breaking the law or something!

I browse blog after blog showing handcrafts from super talented people. I admire their clever cross stitching, amazing hand sewn clothes and beautifully crafted crochet. I then get lifestyle envy. I wish I had the time, skills and spare cash to make something pretty. I wish I was clever at crafts. If only I could make Rob a crocheted hat shaped like a strawberry. Im sure he would love it and want to wear it all the time.

I am useless at making things. And I am a realist. I think its best that I stay an appreciator of other peoples talents rather than attempt my creations! My attempts all fall apart and look like a 5 year old has made them! I do love creativity though, I love art, interiors, street art and anything well designed.

One thing I enjoy is cake decorating. I cannot claim to be amazing at sugar craft, but I have been on a course and I can ice a fairly decent cupcake if the need arises.

Last Wednesday Mum and I attended a Halloween cupcake decorating class at our local baking goodies shop and I made these!halloween cupcakes 1halloween cupcakes 2

It was great fun! It was like being a kid again playing with Playdough for 2 hours! Mum and I were the naughty kids at the back of the class with the giggles who kept dropping things on the floor (you can’t take us anywhere!)

I made a ghost, a squashed witch, a spider and a pumpkin. Will I make them again and use the knowledge I learnt on the course next Halloween? halloween cupcakes 3

Nah, probably not!

My cakes got a little squashed on the way home! All photos by Rob.

Crimbo 2012

So we survived the Mayan apocalypse of 21/12/12, and what do you know, it seems I have finally twigged that Christmas is coming (that sneaky bloody Christmas gave me no warning yet again!)

I have enjoyed seeing other bloggers photo’s of their Xmas decorations, and I wanted to put together my own similar post. But this year for the forth Xmas in a row, we have decided not to bother with the decorations.

Let me explain why, its because we are currently having a major sort out of our loft and have started to rip out stuff and do the prep work to decorate our bedroom. So we are busy doing trips to the tip, selling stuff on Gumtree in our spare time and it just feels like its another chore we could avoid. Plus its so close to Xmas now, it will soon be all over and done with!

We delayed putting the tree up because of the carpets coming two weeks ago, after they were fitted we kinda liked our lounge as it was really, so we did’nt rush to do it. It felt special enough as we had waited two years for them!

Our previous excuses are – in 2009 we had packed up and were expecting to move house (although it turned out we did not move until March’10), in 2010 our house was a disorganised mess following the move, we were still half unpacked and living with the decorating’s dusty chaos. Last year in 2011, I was a bit fed up as I was leaving my job and wasn’t feeling very festive, but Rob did put just the tree up all by himself, to try and cheer me up.

What is festive in our house is xmas1

My Mum bought me it!

My Mum bought me it!

Mum treated me during our trip to Tunbridge Wells on Friday!

Mum treated me during our trip to Tunbridge Wells on Friday, it was in the sale already!

An early Christmas pressie from Mum and Dad!

An early Christmas pressie from Mum and Dad!

All bought for me by my Mum (she's the best!). Dunno why she got the bah humbug one!

All bought for me by my Mum (she’s the best!). Dunno why she got me the bah humbug one!

I did make a Christmas cake. Its the first ever one I have baked (I know, call myself a baker!) I used cutters that my mum lent me and it took me nearly 2 hours to decorate it, but I’m quite proud of it none the less!

Annoyingly it has aquired three small dents.

Annoyingly it has acquired three small dents. It was once perfectly smooth, honest!

Oh and Mum gave me the ribbon for the cake. Did you notice a theme? My parents are two of the most generous, caring people I know, and as well as that, my Mum really tries her best to make me more Christmassy! (She loves this time of year, she even has some Christmas cushion covers!)

I think the less fuss you make about Xmas the more “meh” you get about it as the years go by. Well that’s whats happened to me. Blame it on working in retail since the age of 16. Xmas music send shivers down my spine and gives me nightmarish flashbacks of working in hectic supermarkets and shops!

Next year we will put them up. I did once enjoy doing so when I first moved out of home many years ago. I am trying to force myself to not be too bah humbug, after all no one likes a grump this time of year!

Bah humbug merry Xmas to you all! see you on the other side!

Rob’s Birthday Cake

I previously hinted that I had a top secret project planned for Rob’s birthday cake. Maybe I was a little over ambitious in my plans but I decided to make him some cookie monster cupcakes.

What’s that coming over the hill, is it a cookie monster? Umm no.

This is why I will never have a future in cake decorating!

I had seen pictures of other peoples success’s online and thought they looked relatively easy to recreate. I bought a special grass piping nozzle and some blue gel colour, and had been excitedly discussing my plans with my mum. I even watched a tutorial on YouTube in preparation!

Well on the day I made these as per usual nothing went to plan! It took ages to get the right colour blue and I stained my nails and hands with the food dye, left lots of blue fingerprints everywhere and ruined a hand towel in the process!

When I finally managed to get some of the icing into a bag ready to pipe onto the cakes, I found it is much trickier than it looks to get the desired fur/grass effect! Then some of my holes in my piping nozzle blocked up, so the icing was only coming out of one or two holes! Plus I don’t have much patience with fiddly things, so basically I just gave up after managing to get one cupcake slightly resembling cookie monster!

After eating nearly a whole bag of white chocolate buttons and a few Maryland cookies, I calmed down and the crisis was over. I just put the rest of the icing into another piping bag with a nice large (read it as easy!) nozzle to decorate the rest of the cakes and call them smurf cupcakes!

Next time, when I recover from this fiasco and I am brave enough to have another attempt at these I will try the coconut method as shown in this video here instead of the piping method.

I just thought – I could have poked the nozzles holes with a cocktails stick to unblock them! – Doh!
Never mind, yet again its not WWND ha ha!

I admitted defeat and gave up after one attempt! Fiddlyness 1 Me 0.

Smurf Cupcakes!

I sent the cakes over with Rob to give to his work mates at a place where he freelances. Apparently they dyed everyone blue!


Here’s Some I Made Earlier

Due to fitting a new kitchen in our house – which I believe I may have mentioned before on here! I have not been able to bake – until today. And I used my Kitchenaid for the first time!!!! Wheeeee!

That was an interesting experience, let me tell you…..not the mixer, no that was amazing! I love it! I almost cried with happiness when I saw it spin for the first time! Anyway enough gushing!

Well, let me tell you about my first bake in the new kitchen with the Kitchenaid…… To start with I did not bother to think too hard about what to bake with it first. I was just thumbing through one of my recipe books and saw a marble cake recipe, and thought I would give it a go as I have never made one before.

So off I went, all super organised by getting the three eggs required out the fridge, to bring to room temperature before I went to work this morning. I was so excited about what I had planned, my first bake since early February this year. So far so good!

When I made the cake (and experienced the daddy of mixers) it also was a good test for the new kitchen layout, as I tend to make a mess and use every utensil/inch of worktop I have when baking. It was all new to me. And I guess I got a little over excited when using the Kitchenaid…….because I forgot to put the eggs in the cake!

Hey, those are my excuses and I am sticking to them! Luckily I realised my huge clanger about seven minutes into the baking time! So I grabbed the cake out of the oven and weighed up my options. I could either A) continue to bake it and call it a vegan marble cake, but then I remembered I put milk in the cake. From a cow. Or B) I could just try adding in the eggs and hope for the best. Or C) just give up!

I chose option B. So I gave the mixture around five minutes to cool down then poured it into a bowl (it already had tiny lumps of cooked cake around the edges can you believe!) Then mixed the eggs into the warm mixture (thankfully they did not scramble!) Then bunged it back in the oven and prayed to the gods of self raising flour that things would work out for the best.

Well its not WWND but it turned out OK(ish). Sure It doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes nice and is surprisingly moist! My first marble cake turned into a chocolate cake with a few plain sponge specks/lumps scattered in it! Not what you would serve it at a tea party!

I am far too embarrassed to post a picture of my disaster on here, so in the mean time here’s some I made earlier!

Some have been previously shown on here, but my photos were terrible! I tried to improve them on PicMonkey! The bottom circle pictures are of cupcakes which were baked over six months ago for a friends baby shower and the pictures were taken with Rob’s iPhone.

P.S. I have a top secret baking project for Robs in a few days planned! Wish me luck, I think I need it!

P.P.S Big kitchen reveal pictures coming in about a week, we just need to seal edges and get the window sill fitted. Ha- I just realised all that’s left is to seal and sill. Pah ha ha!!

Cupcake Decorating Course Week 4

This was the final night of my course and these cakes were the most technically difficult and fiddly of all the cakes that we created! We were shown how to decorate four more cupcakes to become sunflowers, flowers, wolves and a scottie dog. Boy these were tricky! Piping is not my strongest point and I did struggle to ice these, especially the scottie dog and the sunflower cakes. If I am to be honest though, the biggest struggle I had was my own lack of patience in doing anything fiddly! Lets just say that I am not likely to start making cakepops anytime soon!

I am quite pleased with these for my first attempt. I think with a little bit more practice and with the correct equipment I could recreate these at home again.

Unfortunately on my way home my scottie dog‘s nose fell off! So the snout hair’s parting icing effect and his tongue that I lovingly made got ruined! I managed to stick it back on with a cocktail stick to show you. It was a shame because he looked so much better before! Anyways I don’t think Bakerella is quaking in her boots about me as competition!

I apologise for the quality of these pictures, it was a very dark February day! I have tried to enhance them the best I can on iPhoto!

Iced by moi!

after surgery!