Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The 52 Marvellous Makes Madness Challenge - Week 2 and a hodilay!

Hey folks......
Week two's marvellous make was this... ickle knitted pouch for my crochet hooks.  It's a bit skew-wiffy because I added an extra kitted layer at the bottom to keep the hooks in place (too lazy to line with fabric) but it will do the job and I've been meaning to replace the vanilla pod metal tube I've been using for a while now as it makes an awful noise, all those hooks rattling around inside.  I used Rowan handknit cotton and a lovely button I received as an 'extra' from Jess at Nellie&Elsie.  I wanted to make it  for the project (you can just about see the practice squares in one of the above pictures) I have planned for next week when we are off on this...

The 'Speckled Hen'- image from cottage4you

...for a whole relaxing, rejuvenating seven days.  Meandering along the canals of England and Wales with a book or this granny square project for my bed, on my lap taking in the sights and sounds at a slow pace. Sipping on a nice wine of an evening........bliss!!  It won't be like this all the time, we will be with the Biscuits after all but the potential is there and I'm all about the potential.  Father-in-law will be present to talk 'boring' narrow boat things with Hubby Biscuit and help drive etc (all those things I want no part of!!) and Mother-in-law will be present to talk 'interesting' things about whatever we like, with me.  The Biscuits will partake in one or t'other, both or none of the above.  
As expected I am having a busy, busy week preparing.  Hubby is working a lot of extra hours coincidentally, so can't help organize as much as he usually does and to top it all I spent the better part of yesterday at the orthodontist in Edinburgh (aahh! those blue eyes!) so I am in pain today AND I had an appointment at the hospital earlier today to see a surgeon and the Biscuits and I had to wait 


to be seen.  Like I had nothing better to do when I have a holiday to prepare for and in pain and my poor boys were amazing considering.  I eased my guilt at dragging them along with crisps as soon as we got out.  Having to wait that long to discuss procedures I don't particularly want but have to have was a right pain in the proverbial...and mouth for that matter!!  I am finding it hard to concentrate on writing lists so I am procrastinating a little by being here with you.  I've a gazillion things to do and feel my usual mantra about hodilays floating around my head 'after preparing for a holiday, I'll need a holiday'.  The fact I will be going on one is handy then!!!  
Hubby Biscuit still doesn't believe me when I say I am leaving my laptop behind.  I bet he sneaks it in a bag pretending he was thinking of me if it rains continuously for the whole week but it''ll be for him really to look up something 'boring' about narrow boats! 

See you soon!!


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The 52 Marvellous Makes Madness Challenge - Week 1

 (click on image to find out what it's all about)
This challenge was set up by the lovely Mrs Thrifty as a way to get those usually endless 'WIPS' completed, one per week for 52 weeks and importantly to enjoy and find pleasure in the process of the making of those projects.  I wasn't inclined to accept such a challenge as I hate feeling I have to do things but I thought of that list I have of things I mean to make and somehow never get around to.  I thought I'd use this challenge as a way of trying to get through that list and any of those new challenges in the land of homemade.  All that and any of those things I really find pleasure in making.
So for Week 1 I thought what better place to start than with THAT wedding cake!  It was mainly a pleasurable experience, especially when it was done and dusted, ready to be enjoyed.  So here it is...

(click on image to take you to the T52MMMC Flickr group)

Here is a the photo of the gorgeous Bride and Groom with their heads....the above photo was all about the cake...

 Don't they look happy?  
They cut the cake with a humongous sword, by the way, shame you cannot see it!  
It was a wonderful wedding!  The atmosphere was amazing, infectious and all the guests were up for having a huge celebration.  The last wedding I was at was so serious, formal, dire and pretentious, it was actually really uncomfortable and unsettling to be there so it was bliss and such a relief to attend a wedding that was how they should be, a joy filled celebration!  
Other than our own wedding  four years ago, My Biscuits have never been to a full day ceremony and reception, so they had a ball.....check out their outfits!

Eldest Biscuit cannot pose seriously for a photo!

They managed to stay until the end, for Runrig and Loch Lomond, at midnight, but they did flag a little during the disco...

 Not really sleeping though, just resting their eyes. 

So that was the wedding, the cake and the first week of The 52Marvellous Makes Madness Challenge
I wonder what I'll make next week?


Monday, 19 July 2010

A heartfelt thank you!!

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you wonderful people for leaving reassuring, supportive, kind comments in regards to my hormone lead, flagging motivation during Project Wedding Cake.  Suffice to say by that evening I felt back on track and a bit like my old self again.  Thursday was one of those days I hated everything and really should have stayed in bed and tried to miss it out completely (as if!!!!). 
My lovely Husband brought me wine and chocolate and what an amazing comfort/crutch they were.
I shouldn't have doubted my abilities as the cake turned out how I planned and was very much appreciated particularly once it got cut up and eaten.  I often feel I lead a boring little old life where I do nothing of real consequence or importance and on Saturday at my friends lovely wedding I felt I had achieved something, did something I may never have ever challenged myself to do and not only managed it but did a really good job of it.  
Yet I am not in a hurry to do it again, I put way too much pressure on myself to achieve perfection!  I stand by the statement I have found myself uttering.. "I don't make wedding cakes, I made a wedding cake!".......well until the next person challenges me!

Smoochy smooches to you out there for making me feel better when I felt mucho crappo!!


P.S I will be posting photos of the completed cake at a later date as I am leaving them for the first week reveal of the lovely Mrs Thrifty's T52MMMChallenge.  To be honest I'm so fed up of the rain, suffering a little from cabin fever and didn't have the energy to upload them tonight.  I am a naughty, read lazy, Ali! xx

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I'm fighting hormones this week!

It's so frustrating!!!
I am trying to make a wedding cake for goodness sake!  Trying to put love in it!!  What a week to be expecting a period, I'm so down and grumpy!!
Sunday - the baking was a breeze!
Monday - the trimming, cutting, layering with jam and buttercream and covering was a breeze!  Thankfully as the hormones hit that day!
Tuesday - covering with marzipan was a breeze!..............then yesterday, yesterday.......
Wednesday - the day to cover with sugarpaste, when my fears of the warm weather affecting the pliability hit, it was not a breeze, it was very tricky indeed!  The upside was I didn't panic, I kept calm and carried on BUT it was not easy and the results are NOT perfect.  I do not like imperfect, I want perfection!!!  I mean it wasn't a disaster, no huge problems or major tears or anything like that, just not perfect!
So I have had to have a word with myself........
That anniversary cake I made earlier was rubbish in my eyes right up until the moment it was finished and I stepped back from it (and the sugarpaste wasn't tricky!).  I am feeling this cake is rubbish now, it is still to be put together and decorated with ribbon, but now I'm all grumpy and dissatisfied and annoyed and want to growl lots!  I am too close to it I knows but it's still getting to me.  Incidentally my period started today.  
I know on the day people are not going to be inspecting it for imperfections but will be seeing the overall effect, I know I am putting any imperfections under a microscope and exaggerating them but I cannot help myself.  I just want to shout out how hard it it to work with sugarpaste when it's a bit on the soft side!  I am a right old perfectionist moody puss!!
I'm a bit fed up with it now and feel bad that I want it over with, that seems unfair and I confess I am worried people will look at it and say "it's alright for an amateur",  yuck!!  No doubt I'll feel differently in a bit!  I know I am not trained at this, I am not a professional and I also know my friend didn't want me to make her cake for any other reason than wanting me to make it for her.  Tonight Hubby Biscuit will be helping me put the dowels in to make it tiered.  I am hoping my bad mood will lift a little when that part is done!
Maybe the problem is the process, it lasts so long meaning any pressure I am placing on myself is being felt over that length of time.  I know I won't feel totally fine again until the cake leaves here on Saturday morning, maybe not until everyone gets to taste how yummy the sponge is in the evening.  Maybe on Sunday when it's all done and dusted!
I am wondering how much of these feelings are due to hormones, any or all?
What do you think?


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Tomorrow it begins!

145ml  Vanilla Extract
1.925kg  Caster Sugar
1.4kg   Self Raising Flour
28   Medium Eggs
1.4kg  Salted Butter
1kg  Unsalted Butter
1kg   Icing Sugar
Strawberry jam...

2.5kg   Marzipan
3.5kg   Sugarpaste
6"  cake board
8"  cake board
10"  cake board
13"  cake drum
15"  cake drum
9 plastic dowels
15mm white satin ribbon
35mm  pink  satin ribbon
Victorian Diamonte Brooch
Pearl Headed Pins...

Various already owned equipment
Peggy Porschen's Cake Chic
One whole day to bake
Five days to construct and decorate
One morning to deliver...

and me!


one Wedding Cake for the lovely Bride and Groom....


Or it will be come Saturday 1.30pm!  
This time last year when my friend and fabby Hairdresser, asked me if I would make her wedding cake,  I panicked and said "NO WAY! I couldn't possibly manage that!" before I realized I am forever proclaiming "give it a bash!" to my boys so really I should follow my own prompting.  I'd baked cakes with sugarpaste before for my Biscuits, the mystery machine, the T.A.R.D.I.S, faces of monsters etc and other 'playing - like I did with plasticine when I was a wee lass' cakes.   But nothing in the category of what I call 'proper' cakes, the kind you spend lots of money on from specialized bakers, the kind you ponder over the construction and execution of.  The kind 'you'd need training' to make. 
I found myself rising to the challenge and armed with Peggy Porschen's latest book (why not be instructed by the best?) I embarked on Project Wedding Cake!  Ever the practical I knew I needed to practice, I needed to build up to a three tier, one that will be on show to at least a hundred people, be photographed and be eaten by EVERYONE there ( I live in a world where everyone loves cake you hear me Heather!  I couldn't bear it any other way!) and had to look as good as any professionals or I wouldn't be satasfied!  
That cake could NOT be my first attempt.
I started off with a single tier for my Mum's 60th Birthday...

It went really, really well and I learned lots, mainly that 'yes I can do this' and more importantly it's fun.  It tasted so, so, so, so good!  Next I moved onto my parent-in-laws Ruby Anniversary two tier cake...

This one went even better and I got just a little [read a lot] over-excited and addicted to smoothing the sugarpaste and rubbing my hands all over it.  The compliments on the night boosted my confidence no end and this was my first ON SHOW cake, seen by over a hundred people who didn't laugh at it AND ate it AND came back for more!
So here I am about to start on the home straight of Project Wedding Cake and I am excited!  I can't wait to get started and in truth see my friends faces on the day and watch them get wed and then have a ball sharing in it all with them!

Wish me luck!


Thursday, 8 July 2010

I cannot get enough of....


I am obsessed, addicted and enthralled by them and goodness Marks & Spencer know how to produce exceptional ones!

Here is their latest addition to my collection...

All you need is tea and a custard cream!  
I've said it before, here.

Isn't it wonderful?  Measuring over ten by seven and a half inches and holding four hundred grams of biscuits, it cannot fail but delight the senses!   


Husband Biscuit despairs and asks...
"What will you do with this one?"  
Does it really need saying ladies? No, I agree but I said anyways..
"Put stuff in it!" 
"What stuff?"  
I tell him to wheesht and eat up the contents, confounding, confusing and distracting him from a brain taxing (him not me) display of plain silly good cop questioning.  

                                     Custard Creams!  

By the way if any of you fancy making a homemade version, there's a fantastic recipe in Nigella's FeastIf anyone would like the recipe let me know and I'll e-mail it to will be worth it, I promise!! 


Monday, 5 July 2010

I caught the bug...

...and I don't mean the midgey bites I got on Friday night from those dastardly beasties determind to get up my (ankle length I might add) skirt! I did mention how scary they are and not so put off by Skin so Soft as they should've been! Once the citronella candles got going so did they.  I didn't realize how much my poor legs had been bitten until predictably my body reacted to them two days later by coming out in itchy lumps.  I am covered in cream now.  My body does not react well to insect bites, unfortunately. 
Thankfully I did catch the camping bug!  The amazing scenery helped I'm sure, but the joys of getting back to basics and enjoying the outdoor life were truly inspiring and very comforting.  I also really enjoyed the atmosphere.  Reminded me of the good part of festival 'sleeping in a tent'.  Sharing the joy of it all together yet seperately.  I did remember to take a few snaps.....

It was a most enjoyable weekend until.......Sunday brought with it torrential rain and gale force winds!  Aahhh!!  If it wasn't so 'clothes stuck to your cold limbs and pants stuck to your cold bottom' wet it might have been funny.  Funny in that 'hysterical not funny at all really but if I don't laugh I'll cry' kind of way.  This is when my/our fondness for WendyHump died just after the 'like to get to know you more' stage and long before a second date is on the cards.  The old girl is not for us.  A little too small for a family and no room for sitting in if the weather isn't so good.  Yes she had her funky fringe/canopy going on which shielded us from some of the showers but this is not a relationship that got past the first date.  We also realized to our horror as the rain beat down on us that those around us in their non "canvas thirteen year old tents" had all their things including their tent packed up in a quarter of the time it took us to pack away the old dear.  This wore thin after about the fourth car left and we were still there packing up.  We are not inclined to have to pitch and pack her away often which rules out one night stays so we must say goodbye, so long to her.  I am glad to have met her though as she taught us what we want from our family tent which means we can go looking now for a modern one knowing exactly what we need.  I would hate to have spent a small fortune to find out camping sucks and be left with a smaller bank balance.  Suck, camping does not we are looking forward to doing it again.  Busy next few weeks though.  Sunday sees the start of the wedding cake baking/making week ending in the wedding on the Saturday for which I cannot wait to go to.  I love a wedding!  My Biscuits will be in kilts too and hopefully you will indulge me in seeing a photo or three! 

Can I just add that since the schools broke up on Wednesday it has rained almost non stop up here....rubbish!!!  I am very glad now I spent so much time relaxing in the garden ignoring the housework!



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