Tag Archives: birthday

Let Them Tweet Cake!

16 Sep

The last few weeks have been manically busy with birthdays, sick people and work so once again, writing has taken a backseat.

* Slaps hand and promises to try harder in future*

I’ve been on hand making chicken soup, buying cough medicine and generally doing a Florence Nightingale routine for various people, and as everyone who has ever come into contact with me knows, I am a notorious feeder. I genuinely believe that you can show love through food, feel better from the right veggies and garner comfort by eating. This might go against any advice by doctors, but you know what, I am laughing in the face of the doctor. Some food nurtures the body, other food nurtures the soul. And although I appreciate and recognise the importance of a healthy, balanced diet (blah blah blah) I also know that a birthday cake makes you feel the love. RIGHT?!

I had 3 birthdays in August, and for each and every one, I made a cake. There were a few touch and go moments, a dusting of tears and maybe, just maybe, a minor temper tantrum when all the fiddly little wafer curls kept falling off one of the cakes, but on the whole they were fairly successful.

1) The Boy’s Birthday Cake

Picture the scene. As much chocolate as you can physically get into a cake, with a ribbon twisted round the outside, for added effect. If I was Willy Wonka’s wife, it would be a really happy union.

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2) Mother Superior’s Birthday Celebration

This one was a hard task for me. My Mum doesn’t like chocolate cake or many chocolate based products, so I had to revise my tried and tested method to create something she would like. I swapped out the chocolate cake for lemon cake with lemon marmalade baked in, and decorated the outside with hazelnut wafer curls. Winning.

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3) Workmate Celebrations

One of the girls on my team also had a birthday, so I decided to show the love with cake. Why not. We had seen pictures on Pinterest (where else?) of a Pinata cake, and so with inspiration from the Great British Bake Off, I decided to go forth and have a go. The man in the supermarket thought I had an eating disorder as I stockpiled Smarties and various types of chocolate, but all in all it was successful, and a definite show stopper for the future!

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What have you guys been up to lately?

Cupcakes – Nailed It!

11 Jul

Birthdays are my favourite time. Not my birthday, but the birthdays of my friends and family; the people I love. I find so much pleasure picking out a gift that sums up my relationship with that person or something thoughtful that will show them I pay attention and put some thinking into picking. I even think I prefer it to my own birthday.

EAT ALL THE CAKE!!

EAT ALL THE CAKE!!

I also love cake. As a child my Mum made cakes and decorated them beautifully, and I have always wanted her to start her own business. Over the years I have had clowns, Little Mermaids, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie (this is a personal favourite as she made the pie lid stand up to see the birds inside) and all sorts of fantastic Christmas cakes.

It’s given me the bug. I’m pretty good at whipping up savoury treats, but desserts have always caused me problems. Little Tinker won’t let me make pancakes on Pancake Day as they come out like door stops while hers are thin and papery, and I was kindly asked not to choose Home Ec as a subject to GCSE after an incident that involved slightly too much baking soda and a cake explosion, taking out the other kids who were sharing the oven.

There are rare times when I pull a blinder, but it’s taken me a few years and time to realise that it is an exact science, and not like savoury food where I can throw stuff together and it come out right.

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My Great Grandmother used to bake the most perfect chocolate cake; it was moist and delicious, with a layer of apricot jam and then set chocolate on the top. Everyone loved it and it didn’t last five minutes when it got home, wrapped in the old fashioned baking parchment that she used to parcel her sweet treats up in. the whole fun of getting the cake and the build up to it was part of it; opening the parchment and finding the delicious cake inside, that we had been dreaming of since we polished off the final crumbs of the last one.

I love baking birthday cakes for people. I’ve posted previously on my successes, but glossed over the times that I have had cake meltdowns in the kitchen, covered in cake mix and having incinerated a batch of cake dough to the inside of the oven. It’s often hard to do, but I love the way it makes you feel when someone has made you a cake. My Mum created the memories for us every year, never making us share a cake (we are 6 days apart) and I love to recreate that for other people

This weekend marks my best friend’s 27th birthday; the day that she is back to the same age as me and no longer refers to me as the older one. She had exactly 2 months each year to do this, so I smile graciously about being the oldest and take the jokes on wrinkles and Zimmer frames.

So I decided I wanted to make those cupcakes that look like ice-cream cones (damn you, Pinterest!) I thought that it might be difficult, but after the Cookie Monsters and Kit Kat cake successes I gave it a try as I’m starting to become a bit of a one trick pony.

The result was pretty horrendous. The cakes were a doddle; replace the cupcake cases with those free standing cones, but the topping was a bit of a nightmare. Let’s get to the truth… I cried. It was the freezer that started the sneaky cake hate spiral; a pizza box got jammed as I was trying to open the drawer, squeezing the frosting out of the piping bag and into my freezer, and then breaking the drawer. I sat on the floor, fish slice in one hand and sobbed about how my cakes were going to look like one of those ‘nailed it’ Pinterest memes. You know the sign of a good boy when they look at you, look at the cake mess you are standing in and declare “it’s not what it looks like anyway is it chicken? It’s all about how it tastes”.

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So anyway, back to the cake Armageddon. Cakeageddon. I scraped the runny frosting off the cupcakes, the walls and my kitchen floor and after getting really stressed with the boy when he suggested eggs WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT FROSTING?! WHEN DID YOU LAST MAKE CUPCAKES?! I decided to a) say sorry and b) sleep on it.

The results were fruitful. I woke up with a renewed plan and decided to reread the recipe which I had skim read about three months previous.

Turns out it did need eggs. The frosting is made with a meringue mix to start, and then the buttercream is gradually worked in to prevent the meringue peaks from collapsing and give it a thick and creamy texture.

VOILA! They taste pretty good too.

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If you want the recipe then click here, they also have a great buttercream recipe that is dead easy!

Have you ever had any kitchen meltdowns? We won’t talk about the time I set fire to my Mums favourite cookery book when cooking pasta on the gas stove.

Age Is But A Number

16 May

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the day I was born, a day my mother’s life became considerably more awesome. As a child I was a complete primadonna, scared of getting muddy, refusing to eat most foods and reluctant to admit that my baby sister was something that was staying around. As a 27 year old im scared of getting muddy, sure, but I will eat anything within a mile radius and am reluctant to let my little sister leave when we spend any time together. What a difference over a quarter of a century makes!

The fact that I am now 27 is a bit of an issue for me; my brain has a power struggle with things that I think I should be doing and things that I am actually doing, causing minor meltdowns when I think that I have missed something off the list. As an over achiever, I long for the days when I was at school and papers got marked, exams got scored and you knew you were bang in line with your peers. Thanks Facebook.

For example, when having a chat with my mother over the weekend I casually asked her how old she was when she met my Dad. 22. How old she was when she married him. 24 and how old she was when she had me. 26.

I then dramatically declared myself “behind the curve” and announced that I would be a spinster surrounded by cats, growing old in a hoarders house surrounded by old cardboard boxes and things that I had formed emotional relationships with for no reason other than attachment, like bin bags. Sure, I may have been watching too many of those compulsive hoarder shows, but the fear was still there. I ate a whole lot of cheese (I might be old now and my cheese choices have matured from orange square cheese to goats cheese, but cheese is still my comfort food of choice) and went back to my lovely urban flat, minus children and significant other half  to cook and clean (makes me feel calm, don’t judge) until I proudly announced that “I liked it when my flat smelt of swimming pools” and I wasn’t even joking.

My housemate (God love her) then proceeded to read me an article about things that would make me feel old, and they did. So it worked.

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The main killer that took me from ‘strangely happy about the fact that I am turning 27’ to ‘wait while I go slash my wrists with my OAP bus pass” was the fact that Luke Perry, the first TV star who I was in love with in 90210, is 45. Goddamit, 45??!!!! The Backstreet Boys are also rocking their 40s, and according to this article, not too well given the hair plugs and protruding beer bellies.

If you fancy getting hit with the full list, here you go.

The moral of this story is that after a brief chat with myself where I pondered my existence, I realised that I don’t actually want to be 17 again. I had bad hair, hadn’t mastered the art of contact lenses and ……….. TEQUILA.

I rest my case.

What makes you suddenly realise you’re a grown up?

Let Them Eat Cake

19 Nov

This weekend saw the birthday of my friend Lauren, and since I didn’t have a clue what to buy her, I thought I would make a cake.

Let me give you some background. I used to be pretty bad at cakes. I had a dream that I might be a modern day Julia Childs, and at school I looked forward to the module in Home Economics where we made cakes. I whisked and prepped my first cake ever, put it in the oven, and promptly blew it up, taking out the two cakes in the oven above. Turns out you CAN put too much baking powder in cake mix. Who’d have thought it? I was kindly advised by the teacher to try something different for GCSE, and my hopes and dreams of becoming a chef were crushed (as if).

hyperbole and a half, one of my favourite cartoon blogs.

If you’ve been reading my blog a while you’ll know stubbornness is kinda my thing, and like the French teacher who told me I’d never amount to anything (I then proceeded to walk out of my final exam with a high A) I’m a pretty good cook. I do the Christmas dinner for my friends, and I’ve been known to rustle up entire three course meals for dinners. So f**k you, teachers!

So, back to the cake. Pinterest has been distracting me from daily life for a while now, and it makes me feel pretty inferior when i see all the absolutely outstanding recipes that people make, while I draw smily faces on the top of cupcakes. Out pops Stubborngirl! “Well if random, faceless Pinterest stranger can create masterpieces from cake, then so can I!” I think, without any background knowledge of said faceless user.

I looked at this one.

Bit much? Maybe.

Then I saw this one…

Yep, probably still a little too much effort for a Saturday.

And then I found my inspiration. A Kit Kat and M&M cake, In actual fact, I had my eye on it for a little while, but could never justify making it for a night in with a film. Although I reckon I could have had a good go at destroying one by myself :)

I went to the shop with a spring in my step, and some slight anticipation. I have done this before you see. When I was 20, I decided to lovingly craft my then-boyfriend a birthday cake. He loved playing the guitar, and in my head I would make a white cake with a guitar on it and be crowned the best girlfriend ever. Fantastic idea. In reality, my mother came home to me rocking and crying, sobbing at her “I don’t know how you do iiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt!!!! Yours always look so gooooooooood!” When she investigated the situation, my cake looked like it had been hit by a car at speed and flattened, and the ‘guitar’ icing shape I had made was no more than a hotdog looking disaster with a really long sausage. Turns out that my head is far more creative than my hands. Mum had to sort the cake out, he was amazed, but I couldn’t lie and say that it was my work of art, in case friends and family started commissioning me for cakes. Imagine, me not being able to refuse and a birthday cake for a party looking like this…

“I don’t get it, she used to be so good at cakes!”

Anyway, I got there, bought all the ingredients, including four family packets of KitKats, and danced home, singing a song about baking a cake (It happens, can’t help it) and set to work.

It was awesome.

I sandwiched it together with chocolate spread, feeling very grown up (cake sandwiching?! Normally I just cover cupcakes in frosting so you can’t see how misshapen they are) and stuck the KitKats on the side.

Fuck. There might not be enough KitKats to go round. Not going back to the shop, I thought. Man already thinks I have an eating disorder due to the incorrect correlation between the amount of KitKats I am buying and my body weight. Must fit round!!

Panic over. They fit round. I iced the top with the M&Ms, and then spent 25 mins dancing round my kitchen like Will Smith in the Fresh Prince, marvelling at how amazing I am.

See!!!!!

“And lo, behold the cake that will end all cakes.”

Mischievous Movements of a Cherub ~ Part 1

12 Aug

After posting a little this week about my childhood particularly with reference to my little sister, the angelic looking cherub with a naughty streak a mile wide, I thought I could go somewhere with this. It had mileage. My little sister was naughty and reckless, and therefore often in trouble or up to no good, so I have hundreds of stories where I pointed the finger of blame at my sister. I was never an ally, always a grass. So hereby begins a series of posts named the Mischievous Movements of a Cherub.

When I was four years old, I was girly and pink and into nothing but ballet. I lived in my tutu, ate, slept and breathed dancing and was generally pretty content dreaming of the days I would follow in Darcey Bussell’s steps and dance Swan Lake. When asked what I wanted for my birthday I thought long and hard, and all I could muster was ‘flamingo pink tights’. They had to be this precise shade of pink, and this would make my heart content. I read Drina the Ballerina, watched Angelina Ballerina (the dancing mouse) on the TV, and danced EVERYWHERE.

So when my mum decided to throw me a joint fourth birthday party with a boy down my road, my cake was made in the shape of a four (my mother is by far the best cake maker in the land) and on it was two fondant ballet shoes, with ribbons and piping. I was so happy my heart could have burst.

It was, of course, ruined by my two year old sister. The night before my birthday party, when the house slept and a blanket of dark covered the room, my sister (obviously in early training to be the bane of my life) snuck down the stairs to the kitchen. I’m not sure how she managed to do this without making some sort of noise (we shared a bedroom at the time and it was like Beirut in there) but she did.

The next morning when I woke up, my beloved birthday cake was still there, with one and a half fondant ballet shoes. My chubby little toddler of a sister had snuck down the stairs and gorged on my ballet shoes. Utter. Devastation.

Still not forgiven.

Dear Little Miss Twenty

19 May

It was my birthday this week, so last weekend I celebrated the final days before I turned twenty five and said goodbye to the heady days where I was closer to twenty that thirty years of age. Christ!

I honestly feel that, like fine wine, as I get older I get better. I feel better, and I have more of a sense of myself now than I did when I turned twenty. But it’s funny, because when I turned twenty I was living in a shared house, and now, at twenty five, I am back in the nest with papa.

At twenty I was in an already long term relationship, I was managing people in my job and I spent my days as a makeup artist, painting the faces of old ladies and wishing they were more adventurous than the standard browns and reds that they requested. I dreamed of using their faces as easels and creating my own masterpiece in bold colours and sharp lines. It wasn’t to be. My nights were spent dining with my best friend and her husband; watching tv and playing with her two year old. I went clubbing every weekend, returning home as the birds began to sing and the sun rose, and slept the weekends and my days off away. I was happy, but I was young.

When I was in America my seventeen year old cousin commented about how old I was, and it made me think. Am I boring because I don’t drive, singing along to my music with my hands off the wheel? Nope, dead has lost its cool in recent years. It really limits what you can do! But I have changed, and in five years my world seems to have spun on its axis. I now live at home, I write for a living with my job (although it’s not the sort of writing I love. The words stick at the end of my fingers and I struggle to put the thoughts to paper, writing about things that don’t excite my mind, rather than the writing I do out of love where sentences wrap themselves around my teeth and the world bubble out like steam from a kettle. They distort and twirl, and I often have to go back and re jumble the intricate web of undulating words.) and my best friend now resides in Brisbane. She has another baby, and a third on the way, and I feel like we held hands at our crossroads, but she went left and I went right, and our paths have never rejoined.

If I could go back five years, would i? Absolutely not. I know what I will and wont do now and Im far more able to say what I think. Don’t get me wrong, at twenty I was forthcoming and forward, but now im less trappy and more confident in quietly believing what I believe in. I don’t follow a crowd and I stand up for what I believe in.

“Belle,

Don’t worry too much about things not going to plan. You’ll soon learn that they weren’t right for you anyway. Be a bit better at not worrying when plans don’t come to fruition; if you just go with the flow you will find yourself a lot happier, and life has a funny way of doing what you don’t think it will anyway. Let go of hurt and hold on to happiness; stay in touch with the people who enhance your life and let the others fall to the wayside. Don’t stick with friends out of duty; some people will hurt you despite what you give to them, and that’s just human nature.

You can’t always be healthy, but be happy. Strive for the best and push yourself; there is nothing rewarding about complacency.

Be humble and thankful, youth often causes a lack of respect when you think you know the world; but you don’t and one day soon you will need your daddy and what your granddad has to say. They have lived the life you are just stepping into, so at least listen to them. They won’t be there forever, and one day when you fall they won’t be there to catch you. Take the time to be polite.

Hold your sisters hand when she needs you. She has your back forever.

Lots of love, your old granny self.

x”

Todays Song…

1 Apr

I heard one of my favourite songs on the radio this morning, so I thought I’d share.

I love The Beatles, was born in the wrong decade and when I went to see Cirque De Soleil Love in Vegas I totally got beatlemania. Continue reading

Daddy’s Little Girls – A Post to My Dad

29 Mar

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” -Sigmund Freud

Once upon a time, around fifty years ago there was a little boy. His name was Kevin and I didn’t know him. I know that he was tall and  skinny, and a beautiful mischievous little boy who loved fishing, watching the birds and playing football with the other little boys. Kevin lived for a time in Singapore, and then came home with his Mummy, his Daddy and his little sister Karen and remained in Hampshire.

Continue reading

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