Sunday, 18 November 2018

Georgous Cakes - part 7


This week I made a Layered Espresso Walnut Loaf and Angel Mint Cakes.  'im outdoors doesn't really like nuts so the espresso loaf is without walnuts, but I have to say it is still very nice.  I am less sure about the mint cakes.  I can deal with mint chocolates but other types of mint 'things' are just a bit weird.


I'm also not sure how the mint cakes will hold out.  They already feel a little soft! 
But I was very impressed with how well the loaf rose.  So much so the top caught a little!  Nothing a little icing can't hide.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Georgous Cakes - part 6


This week I created 3 different cakes.  Iced Lemon Loaf, Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes and White Chocolate Butterfly Cakes.
The lemon loaf was supposed to have crystallised rose petals to decorate it but I really don't have time for that, and I don't know where I'd get rose petals in the first place - it's not really the right time of year. However the cake seems fine without them so I'm not too worried.


The Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes were created for pudding as my parents came over for dinner.  I might have cooked them for a little bit too long so instead of being mousse they were more like brownies, but still tasted great. (served with creme fraiche) 


And lastly I created White Chocolate Butterfly Cakes.  For someone who'd really not into decorating cakes these were way more involved than I would normally bother with.  Not all of them came out this well!  I think there is a little too much going on with these cakes - orange in the sponge, vanilla cream filling and then the white chocolate on top.
Have to see what 'im outdoors things. 

Verdict:
 
Iced Lemon Loaf: Pretty good.  A little dry but I can just add a bit more liquid next time.  Lasted the week well.

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes: Tasty but cook less next time.  'im outdoors microwaved a spare one and had it with ice cream and was very happy.

White Chocolate Butterfly Cakes: Dreadful. Difficult to make and didn't last well.  Very wet after only a couple of days.  Too many flavors too.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Georgous Cakes - part 5


This week I made some Cappuccino Cupcakes and, as its Guy Fawkes Night on Monday, a Red Velvet Bonfire Cake.  The cupcakes were pretty simple to create and came out well.  However as the 'icing' is whipped cream I decided to only 'ice' them as needed so the topping can be kept in the fridge and the cupcakes in a tin.


I've not made a red velvet cake before and it was pretty straight forward, but wow it tastes amazing!  Think this is my favorite so far.  As you want a cone shaped cake you have to cut a bit off to get the right shape.  She suggests saving the trimmings for trifle but they didn't last that long. It's then covered in a cream cheese icing and matchmakers.  I'm interested to know how it lasts the week.


Verdict:

Cappuccino Cupcakes: These were ok, but the sponges got a little dense towards the end of the week.  The cream topping lasted well in the fridge.

Red Velvet Bonfire Cake:  This was really tasty but I didn't want too much.  Seemed to last well in the fridge although it dried a little.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Split Back Snowflake Hat

At the beginning of the year I had a go at making the Split Back Snowflake Hat. However I had real problems getting it to work and after two attempts gave up and went on to something else.  
Also this year I knitted a jumper.  This was knitted in the round, like the hat, and although I still think it's a little tight, it came out really well. 
As I was knitting the jumper it suddenly occurred to me what the problem might be with the hat.  You see the first part of the hat, the cable, is knitted flat and then joined to make the split at the back.  When I joined it I had the cables on the outside but when I was knitting my jumper it was inside out!  


So I gave it a go and it worked!  The rest of the hat took me a matter of weeks to finish but from start to finish its taken nearly a year!
The best bit was trying out knitting with two colours.  My friend Katie had suggested I try knitting with one colour in each hand as this gives a better tension, so after a bit of YouTubing I had a go.  And it came out really well and I want to do some more!  It was so satisfying to do and looks grand!  I love it. 


Once again something that looks like it might be super complicated it not exactly easy but really not that hard once you have a go.  If I think about where my knitting was a couple of years ago, or even at the beginning of this year, I've come so far! 
There are so many patterns I want to work on right now, but I just don't have the time.  Once again I will have to list all the things I want to do out and prioritise them to make sure the really important things get done and I don't get distracted by something shiny!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Georgous Cakes - part 4


This week I made Vanilla Cupcakes and a Marble Cake with Butterscotch Cream.
Both came out very well although my 'blue' icing seemed to come out more green.
The cupcakes are decorated with Dolly Mixture, so I had a bit of a mission early in the week to find some that were gluten free.  I ended up using Monmore Confectionery who have a selection of gluten free sweets.  I love the look on 'im outdoors face when he finds something nice that its safe to eat and tastes like the original.


The marble cake should have been cooked in a ring tin, but as I don't have one I made two sponges then stuck them together with butterscotch cream and drizzled melted chocolate over it.
I'm very pleased with how they came out, lets see how they last the week.


 Verdict:

Vanilla Cupcakes: These were ok and lasted the week well although the dolly mixture started to go a bit weird.  Nothing that special.

Marble Cake with Butterscotch Cream: 'im outdoors said this was his favorite and it wasn't big enough.  Got a little dry towards the end of the week but otherwise lasted well.
 

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Georgous Cakes - part 3


This week I made Truffle Cupcakes and Birthday Angel Smartie Cake.  The angel cake does mean I'm skipping through the book, but my food delivery sent me two pots of mascarpone last week so I needed a cake to use the extra one up. (the first one was mixed with the lemon curd to make the filling for last weeks lemon cake.)


My cupcakes once again rose well, but they're a bit too chocolaty for my taste.  'im outdoors seems very happy.  Hopefully they will both last the week well, although the smarties are already starting to loose their colour into the frosting.


Verdict:

Truffle cupcakes - a bit too chocolatey for me, but 'im outdoors loved them and they lasted the week very well.

Birthday angel smartie cake - Had to be kept in the fridge and the smarties went weird, but tasted really good and lasted the week really well. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

The Loch Ness Marathon - part 4



Look what arrived today!  A package from the Salisbury District Hospital Stars Appeal team, which included a certificate, a letter and a lapel pin.  
Having run the Loch Ness Marathon to raise money for their Burns Unit a couple of weeks ago, I'd sort of put it to the back of my mind, so it was a massive surprise.


It was so nice to hear how much their appreciated the time and effort I'd put in and I include the letter here as I think everyone who sponsored me deserves their thanks as well.
The certificate will sit in my study where I can see it to remind me of what I've accomplished.  The pin is already on my bag, the perfect reminder.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Gorgeous Cakes - part 2


This week it was my mum's birthday which seems the perfect excuse to make a Towering Alaska from my Gorgeous Cakes cook book.  But I also made a Rich Lemon Curd Sponge for 'im outdoor's lunchbox's and Banoffee Cupcakes.


I made the lemon cake as two separate sponges again to make sure they would rise - which they did perfectly.  The lemon curd filling is so good he's been eating the spare on toast! 


The cupcakes came out well too.  And I had to make 2 batches as there was too much mix!  She recommends decorating them with a 'chocolate heart' but I just cut up a bunch of Curly Wurlys and used them instead, which seems to have gone down well.


The Towering Alaska was amazing and my mum loved it, but it is the kind of cake that has to be eaten as soon as it's made.  Within an hour of putting it together the jam was sinking into the sponge and the meringues were dissolving into the cream.  However it tasted amazing and no one cared that it looked like a right mess.  'im outdoors finished it off for super, as always, happy to help tidy up.


Verdict:
Towering Alaska: Very tasty but needs to be eaten as soon as its put together.

Rich lemon curd sponge: Very tasty. Had to be kept in the fridge but kept very well over the week.
 
Banoffee cupcakes: Not very bananay, and dried out well before the end of the week.  Bit disappointing.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Another Laptop Sock


Last year my sister asked me to knit her a cover for her work laptop.  It came out well and she was very pleased.  However she's just got herself a new job and her new laptop is much bigger than the one she had and now the cover doesn't fit.  'Could I make her a new one?' she asked.


With some of the King Cole Glitz Chunky in platinum wool left over from last time I made a start.  This time I knitted it in the round and as it was a bit bigger I decided to add a little decoration - some cables down the front.  It took a few goes to get the pattern right, but I'm very pleased with the end result.  I think she was too, lets just hope it fits.


Note:  I've just been sent a photo and its a perfect fit! Hooray!
 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Gorgeous Cakes - part 1

Look how faded the edges are from being on the window sill!
I love to bake and 'im outdoors loves to eat cakes so this all works out pretty well.
I have quite a few cook books but seem to always end up cooking the same old stuff, so with no more Saturday runs (unless I want to) I've decided to work my way through one of my favorite books - Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell.


Today I made a classic victoria sponge with whisked white chocolate buttercream for 'im outdoors lunchbox this week, and some lemon cupcakes for snacking on when he gets in from work. 
As he's a coeliac it does mean I have to tweak the recipes a little so I use gluten free flour and I tend to add xanthum gum which means I have to add a little extra liquid, normal in the form of milk, too.  And instead of cooking the victoria sponge as one big cake I made two smaller cakes as I know a big one won't rise as well.  I might have also ignored the call for sugared flowers to decorate the cupcakes.


I haven't made either of these before - I normally stick to Mary Berry's victoria sponge recipe, but they both came out really well, which was a nice surprise as my cupcakes don't normally rise.
But of course the proof really is in the eating and 'im outdoors will get the final say at the end of the week.  Did they transport to work OK? Did they still taste good a week later?  Should I make them again?    


Verdict:
Lemon cupcakes: They tasted like lemon french fancies.  Lasted quite well but a little damp by the end of the week.

Victoria sponge with whisked white chocolate buttercream: Quite nice, but the buttercream didn't really stand out.  Lasted the week well. 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

A Bear Jumper

For Christmas a couple of years ago I knitted my mum a bear.  I had wanted to make him a jumper too but ran out of time.
So when my parents agreed to look after Milo for the 3 nights we were in Scotland for the marathon I realised this was the time to make the bear a jumper.

Flat jumper before being sewn up
Now most people would just buy their folks some good Scottish whiskey and shortbread while they are up there, but my mum has lost loads of weight this year so she could have a knee operation (which was a grand success) so I didn't want to get them food when they have both done so well losing weight.

They also recently got themselves matching fleeces in bright orange and I loved the idea that the bear could also have a matching jumper.
Mum seemed pretty chuffed with it and put bear straight into it.  I hope it keeps him warm.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The Loch Ness Marathon - part 3


 After 16 weeks of running through heat waves and down pours it was finally time to run The Marathon.

We flew to Inverness on Friday night so we could collect my race number on Saturday and chill out a bit.
We accidentally ended up walking down the finishing straight on our way into the race village, a bit like something Chris Boardman might do before a stage of the Tour de France.
In the race village we picked up my race number, 1374, then had a mooch around the expo. Listening to the experts talk about how cold it was and how we should layer up I ended up buying a light jacket, which I was very glad of on race day.
Macaroni for lunch then we had a wander round the botanical gardens, dodging the rain showers.
On Sunday we were up early. The buses for the start left at 7.30am so we needed to be there by 7.00. Here I said good bye to ‘im outdoors and had to hope I would see him again later that afternoon. 

The middle of nowhere
The coach was nice and warm with wonderful views of Loch Ness as we made our way to the start. I’m not sure how many coaches they used but there were over 3000 runners to transport to the top of a big hill in the middle of nowhere. As you can imagine the queue for the loos was massive! 

The queue for the loo
 We had about an hour standing around before the race started, but queueing for the loos and bag drop etc filled the time and before we knew it we were off, running over the start line to the sound of a pipe band.
We were pretty lucky with the weather, mostly dry except for a few heavy down pours at miles 10/11, 15 and the last couple of miles. The wind didn’t make an appearance until much later in the day for which I was very grateful.
The scenery was beautiful, all the stuff you’d expect to see in Scotland really.
But the race was mostly in my head. The counting down of the miles. Reminding myself of how much I’ve raised for charity and the wonderful people who supported me. The little games you play with yourself to keep yourself going - I can walk for a bit at the next mile marker if I just keep going now. Trying to ignore the pain in my knees/hips/feet/ankles. 


As I came to the mile 24 marker I knew ‘im outdoors would be somewhere ahead. No walking now. I didn’t know when I’d see him but I was determined to run past him. It started raining but I kept going. This mile seemed to last forever but finally there he was smiling at me. Just a mile left. The rain was coming down and I had to keep running. My mantra “all you have to do is finish” said over and over again. With the finish line in sight I was in tears.
I couldn’t believe I’d made it, finally finished what I set out to do last January.
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not just the 26.2 miles but the 4 months of training leading up to it. I can’t imagine ever wanting to do that again, but I’m glad I did do it. Glad I managed to finish it and amazed at how generous everyone has been in sponsoring me.
Thank you to everyone who supported me over the last 4 months, particularly ‘im outdoors who hasn’t moaned once, even when I’ve woken him up getting up early for a training run, or asked him to sort washing or some other chore because I was too knackered. And who came and stood in the rain and smiled at me when I needed him the most. Thank you.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Paper Sun Catchers


A couple of months ago I made myself a sun catcher. It's already starting to fade, but it's still really pretty.


I liked it enough to purchase a whole book on how to make them.  Its not very big, with maybe 8 or 9 different designs, but you can make many variations just by playing with the colours.


So when I decided to leave my current role for a new job, they seemed a really pretty but quite simple thing to make for everyone as good bye gifts. 


Every single one is different although some are similar, coming from the same design but using different coloured papers. 
 
On the desk
On the window
Spread out on my desk most people couldn't work out what they were, their pretty secrets hidden, but held up to the light everyone seemed impressed.



I really enjoyed making them, its quite a repetitive process so you can let your mind wander a bit, but the end results are so impressive. It's hard in these photos to show quite how much they glow.


I've still got lots of kite paper left so I'll be making more of these sun catchers.  Might even make some white ones for Christmas, if there is time.  They really do brighten up a window.