Wednesday 30 April 2014

April 2014 in pictures

April was a bit of a lazy month blog-wise, but we managed to cram lots of lovely offline things into the month.  I will get around to blogging about them--promise!

We had a lovely (and thoroughly gluttonous) Easter with all of the family and had several jaunts to National Trust properties.  There was baking galore, and plenty of crafting, and a surprising amount of sunshine.  Naturally this was followed by a week of rain, but for once I wasn't bothered as we had new turf laid and all the rain saved me from having to remember to water it!

In May, I'm going a bit crazy and blogging every day.  I've succumbed to peer pressure and am joining Louisa and Michelle in Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in May challenge.  Given how patchy my blogging has been over the last month, this will be a massive kick up the bum for me, and should also help me drag all those unfinished posts in my drafts folder, blinking, into the light of day.  I'm looking forward to it!

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Tuesday 29 April 2014

Surf's up!

A couple of weeks ago my lovely friend Claire turned forty.  I'm still reeling at that...she doesn't look a day over 62!

(I kid, I kid...I would never have pegged her as being anywhere near the big 4-0.)

As cake is always an appropriate gift, I pulled out my favourite chocolate cake recipe and set about making her a birthday cake.

Now... Claire is sporty.  She's a bona fide surfer girl.  She bikes up and down mountain and she runs, too.  (Not all at the same time.)  What on earth she's doing being friends with a fully-fledged sloth like me is beyond me, but I'm glad she is!  With all her sporty loves in mind, I had loads of cake ideas leaping around in my head vying for attention, "Me, me, me!"

I settled on a surfing cake for purely selfish reasons.  I've been pinning ruffled cakes to my Pinterest boards for absolutely ages and I've been dying to have a go.  I also wanted to have a go at an ombre cake, and thought the different shades of blue would make quite a good ocean effect. Alas, it quickly became clearly that there was something wrong with my technique in applying ruffles, so I whipped off my embarrassingly awful efforts and went for much chunkier strips that I teased into wave-like shapes with my fingertips.

The surfboard, by comparison, was dead easy.  I just cut it out freehand then smoothed the edges until it looked right.  As a quick shortcut, I dried it in the oven on the lowest heat possible along with the pink gerbera I knocked up while I filled and decorated the main cake.  It worked a treat!

Claire's reaction totally blew me away!  I've never had someone hug me so much over a cake, nearly burst into tears, or phone their Mum and insist that they come round right now to see it!  Wow.  I was nearly in tears myself at that.

Hooray for surprise cakes and hooray for happy friends!

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Sunday 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone!  Lucas would like to share a Creme Egg cupcake with you all.

We had an early Easter egg hunt on Good Friday at Nanny and Granddad's with Lucas's cousins.  The Easter Bunny visited and left lots of eggs hidden in their beautiful garden, so after a massive fry-up we let the kids loose and enjoyed watching the fun!

Leila was surprisingly good at spotting eggs.  I paused to take a beautifully framed shot of a blue egg nestled beneath the contorted hazel and before I knew it, she'd swooped in and grabbed it.  Yoink!

As for the cupcakes...if you have some spare mini Creme Eggs (or even some mini Caramel eggs) that you fancy trying something different with, then these are a delicious option.  I mean...cake, still-gooey Creme Eggs nestled in the middle, buttercream and a drizzle of dark chocolate?  That's way better than just a plain old creme egg, right?

I used this recipe for the mini Creme Egg cupcakes.  When I came up with the idea a few weeks ago, I thought, "What a brilliant and utterly unique idea!"  And of course, it turned out that many, many people had the same brilliant and unique idea.  I guess that makes it an epically awesome idea.

Happy Easter!

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Sunday 13 April 2014

Catching up (13, 14, 15/52)

Time sure does fly when you're having fun!  That's the only explanation I can come up with for being two weeks behind with my 52 Portraits of Lucas...

15/52: I finally got around to putting a fringe on the kid-sized version of the Fourth Doctor scarf that I knitted for Lucas.  Here he is, doing his very best Tom Baker, at the front door.  Would you like a jelly baby?

14/52: Since watching the Winter Soldier, Lucas has taken to carrying his Captain American shield everywhere.  He and Dave have turned trips to the supermarket into a series of clandestine missions.  My solo shopping trips will seem positively boring by comparison...

13/52: Lucas wearing the biscuit moustache that he piped while making my Mother's Day dinner.  I still have no idea why moustaches are suddenly in but Lucas looked pretty good with one!  It doubled up as an awesome dunker for the white chocolate mousse in the jar.

Joining in with Jodie's 52 Project!

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Friday 4 April 2014

Friday Favourites #23

Friday has sneaked up on me this week.  (As have the Easter holidays--I am absolutely stuck for things to do. All suggestions welcome!!)  I vaguely remember Monday but the rest is a blur.  I'm going to assume that's the sign of a good week!

Here are some of my favourite things from this week...

Favourite print: Bristol Screen Print

I've been browsing Etsy this week and this print of Bristol caught my eye.  Not only is it a gorgeous Bristol Blue in colour, it's got hot air balloons soaring over Brunel's Suspension Bridge (one of my favouritest sights ever), Cabot's Tower, one of the cathedrals (is that the one on College Green?), the SS Great Britain and an assortment of animals from the zoo.  Penguins!!

If you're a Bristolian (or just wish you lived in Bristol, and who wouldn't) then this is the print for you!  Alternatively, pop your city/area into the Etsy search and you'll probably find a jolly nice print to adorn your walls!  You could even make a feature wall of prints from places you've lived...

Favourite geeky find: Amazing Baby & Me

OMG!  I know this is a commercial for Evian (and a not-so-subtle plug for the next Spider-Man film) but I love this short so much!!

Favourite craft: DIY flower fairy lights

Lily's fabulous flower adorned fairy lights are gorgeous!  I wish I could persuade Dave that fairy lights are cool all year round, not just for Christmas... You could take them in so many different directions...maybe use pastels in spring, bright colours in summer, and so forth.  Love 'em!

Favourite travel post: Danni's day in Amsterdam

In 2000, I lived in Amsterdam.  Back then, it was probably the worst possible place for a non-smoker, anti-drug type such as myself to live, but I loved wandering around the canals and through the Vondelpark admiring all the beautiful architecture and scenery.  Plus, awesome cakes were to be found everywhere!  If you haven't been, you should totally go!  (We're taking Lucas just as soon as we're sure that he won't fling himself into a canal.)

All images copyright their respective owners.

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Wednesday 2 April 2014

Life lately...

Found on Pinterest
Life is good right now.  Busy, but bloody good all the same!

I spent half of today at school doing PTA stuff, admiring the children's projects and watching the Easter bonnet parade.  Tomorrow I'm baking a birthday cake for a friend and in the evening there's this month's WI meeting.  Apologies if anyone sees me out and about in a weird lycra-based outfit...we're doing street dance this month and there's a prize for the best outfit!  I'm going to channel Beyonce and Rhianna.  Actually, just cover your eyes until Friday to be on the safe side!

Thanks to Lucas and Dave I had an amazing Mother's Day on Sunday.  They thoroughly spoiled me.  Not only did I get some Baileys fudge and a lens adaptor to let me use my old Canon nifty fifty on my new camera, they spent the whole day in the kitchen making me dinner!

They were so sweet about the whole thing.  For the last week they've both been bursting with excitement and loving keeping the menu a secret.  It was totally worthwhile!  They did seared scallops on local black pudding, with minted pea puree followed by Lamb Kleftiko which was amazingly delicious if perhaps not the most photogenic dish ever and finished off with white chocolate mousse and homemade langues de chat.  All utterly delicious.  They're justifiably very proud of themselves!!

Over the last week or so I've found myself in the midst of an epic craft spree.  First I played with hot glue (and made a tiny mess, but that's all cleared up now so we shall say no more) and made a spring wreath for the front door.  I'm rather thrilled with how it's turned out (and the postman said nice things about it to me this morning).  I also crocheted a bird and a few flowers to adorn Lucas's Easter hat for the Easter Bonnet parade at school.  He didn't win (boo hiss etc) but he loves the bird so much that I might make adapt the pattern to turn it into an Angry Bird.

And then there was the crochet lining for my yarn basket... No more snagged yarn!

I want to finish it off with some ribbon around the outside edge (to hide the stitches) and a crocheted rose.  This calls for more hot glue!

I have just booked my hotel room (well, cell really as it's a windowless room at the EasyHotel), bought my train ticket and printed out my ticket for Blogtacular!  It's getting closer and closer; I'm super-excited and a bundle of nerves at the same time which is fun.  Lucy from London Loafing and I have hatched a cunning plan to form a cluster of nervous people who don't know anyone else IRL and fret together as a bonding exercise.  Really looking forward to all the workshops, particularly the photo styling one!!

How's life with you?

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