Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cupcake In A Jar... (Take Two)

I'm a romantic at heart and a lover of all things handwritten and handmade. I especially love handwritten post (or mail for my American friends), bills are definitely not included! So from the moment I saw the idea of cupcakes in a jar on one of my favourite blogs, Cakies, I really wanted to try it. It seemed like the perfect combination of all things cool for a gift.

Last year I went for it & sent a friend who lives a long way away, some red velvet cupcakes in a jar as a surprise birthday gift. 

Everything was fine until I posted it, at which point I transformed into a nervous wreck! I started panicking that the jar would break during transit (even though I had bubble wrapped it and covered it in newspaper) and whether it would get there in time for the big day. On the day itself, I was checking my phone every two minutes for word which never came.

It was just my luck that she was out when it arrived and as she wasn't expecting anything (surprise), she didn't rush to the Post Office to collect it. The next day she went on holiday for a week! By the time she eventually got the present, I'd been through all the stages of grief at my failed plan and was just hoping that the cream cheese frosting wouldn't poison her! The whole thing was a little traumatic to be honest and although she appreciated the gesture, I had hoped she'd be able to actually eat the cake!

Undeterred I tried my luck again this year. I still went for the element of surprise (as in I didn't tell her I was sending anything), but this time round, I made a vanilla cupcake with buttercream as I figure it doesn't need to be refrigerated and could cope with an unexpected short holiday. More importantly though, I let go of any stress and pressure because I'm pretty sure my nervous energy followed the gift the last time round!

It was a happily ever after ending and I was really pleased that I didn't let the first experience put me off trying again. It made me think about how important it is to keep trying as a more general life lesson. 

I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. John D. Rockefeller.

Before I sign off I just wanted to remind you about my photography blog, I've added some pretty cool pictures over the last few weeks that I'd love you to see!

Peace & Love


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Friday, 20 April 2012

Off The Deep End: My Top Tips for Making Cupcakes

Check out my post for Off The Deep End for my top tips for making cupcakes... Click here for the link.
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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cupcake Catharsis

cup·cake ca·thar·sis  
 A delicious technique used to relieve emotional tension, especially pity and fear, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit. It involves carefully baking and decorating a single cupcake to the highest level of skill possible for the person and then eating it, savouring all of the flavours and appreciating the work of their hands.
n. pl. ca·thar·ses 

Do you guys remember the movie called 'Bridesmaids'? When that film came out, everyone (and by everyone I mean about four people), came up to me telling me that I had to see it, that it was hilarious and that it totally reminded them of me.

So without knowing any details about it, I went to go see the film for myself. Basically, the main character in the movie played by Kristen Wiig, and the person I remind everyone of, (pictured above right), is sad, single, has a failed cake business and is a bridesmaid at her best friend's wedding. 

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't overly excited by the comparison. 

Does everyone (those four people at least) think that I'm a failure??? This woman is crazy!! Worst of all though, there was this scene which pretty much made me hate the movie. 

That Cupcake Scene.

The scene where she makes a single, elaborate and delicious looking cupcake, and you assume it's for someone or something and then she just eats it. I decided there and then that I hated her. First of all, you can't make batter for just one cupcake. And second of all, how dare her kitchen look so organised throughout the whole process. It was just horrible!!!! 

It annoyed me so much that I vowed I would blog about it to express my disgust. So the other day, I googled the scene and watched it again. 

This time though, I found it quite beautiful. I also noticed that there was left over cupcake batter and that she was actually tidying as she went along (something I have yet to master). But most of all, I admired her for taking the time to make something beautiful for herself. It was cupcake catharsis.

I've pretty much had an awful week. My son has been ill & I've been up with him for 4 consecutive nights including an overnight stay at the hospital (thankfully he's OK now). To make matters even worse, whilst we were at the hospital my car was clamped. Hundreds of pounds that I can ill afford wasted. 

Filled with pity and a new found respect for the Bridesmaid movie, I seized the opportunity to give this cupcake catharsis a go.

It worked and I feel much better. It didn't give me back my money or sleep but it did focus my energies on love, more specifically self-love.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. Buddha

How do you show yourself love?
Peace & Love

ps Everyone deserves a cupcake like this at some point in their lives, it is so deliciously decadent, (and by everyone I mean all people to whom this applies)!
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Monday, 16 April 2012

Chocolate and Banana Cookies

Cookies are made of butter and love - Norwegian Proverb

I don't make enough cookies, I really don't. I'm not sure why I feel this way as I've never been a cookie monster or anything, but whenever I see them I always wonder why I don't make them more often. 

I've had my eyes on a chocolate cookie recipe for a while and had a very ripe banana wasting away so I figured why not combine the two? This recipe is almost a cross between a cake and a cookie and is extremely moreish. I also found that they are best eaten straight away, which shouldn't be any problem because they are so tasty :).

After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, 
entice lovers. ~Emily Luchetti

If you want to try them, you can get the recipe here. I added one crushed ripe banana to the batter but you could also add chocolate chips or anything else you'd like to have in them.

Peace & Love


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Friday, 13 April 2012

Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50

The cakies

This week I was at the book launch of "Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50", to support a friend of mine, Ali Glitlow, who edited it. I was going to bring flowers but figured why not bake some funfetti cupcakes to celebrate the occasion (my friend is American so it seemed like the perfect flavour).

The book
The book is an honest account of five British artists; Anya Gallaccio, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Michale Landy and Sarah Lucas, and their journey over the last 25 years. It has tons of unreleased photos and personal interviews and is a great read. I bagged myself a copy and was lucky to get it signed not once but twice by the author, Jeremy Cooper, (cause I'm special like that :)).

If you're into that sort of thing and even if you're not, definitely grab yourself a copy :)

Peace & Love

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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Happy Birthday To Me!

It has just occurred to me that I have blogging for over a year people! This time last year I was dinner pon partying and look at me now (I'm fresher than a .....)

Thank you for your support over the last year & here's to many more xx

Peace & Love

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Time

This Easter was interesting to say the least in a grow and mature as a human being, life lessons type of way. There are certain moments in your life when you realise you are a grown up, this weekend was one of those times.

Here are some of the insights I gained;

1. Easter egg hunts are fun (see how grown I am though!) I did my first ever egg hunt this year and enjoyed it so much that I did another one the very next day. I have been missing out all my life and I suddenly noticed all of these people walking around carrying baskets of eggs. It appears I am the only one not to have experienced the pleasures of hunting!

2. Tomorrow is never a good time to start anything, especially a healthy eating plan. When your jeans start to cut off the circulation to your legs it's time to take action today (although technically the day is finished so it will have to be tomorrow now but well what I mean is.....)

3. Spontaneous dinners with sisters are worth their weight in gold. A Sunday roast is also officially my second favourite meal.

4. Going out and having fun is good. Staying in, saving money and being productive can be better. Note that I said 'can be', let's not get carried away with any sweeping statements, has Samantha Brick taught us nothing?

5. Whilst the resurrection story gives us hope in life after death, many things die for a good reason. Especially things that are holding us back and causing us pain. It is best accept the truth, grieve and then move on to make way for new life and happy times.

So there you have it.

In amongst major life lessons, I also managed to squeeze in making these Vanilla Mini Cupcakes Easter  style. I topped them with green vanilla buttercream and a mixture of white chocolate Maltesers and mini eggs. Click here for the recipe.

I hope you had a great Easter.

Peace & Love
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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Pavlova and beautiful things...

I never thought I'd say this but retail therapy no longer has the same appeal. The endless accumulation of things I don't need is a bit tiring. But food has that amazing quality of being necessary, tasty and able to bring joy to you and to those around you.

Last week I needed to bake myself happy. I was on the brink of some almost too good-to-be-true news and I was tingling with excitement at the thought of it coming to fruition...and then it didn't. I wanted to be all Zen about it in the knowledge that it wasn't meant to be, but the truth is, it made me sad. 

I took matters into my own hands and looked for something simple and beautiful to make. I came across a lovely recipe for Pavlova online (click here for the link) which ticks all of the boxes in my book. It's stunning and summery and surprisingly easy to make.

I had a full house that day & everybody squealed with excitement when they saw it. I think the best way to eat it, is for everyone to sit round the table with a spoon and just dig in! A mouth full of crispy yet chewy meringue, whipped cream and summer berries is enough to bring a smile on anyone's face.

So with a beautiful dessert made I set about dusting my shoulders off & moving on.  I'm hopeful that 'too-good-to-be true' things are still on the horizon and I look forward to sharing them with you!

I'll leave you with this quote I found today;

Things turn out best
for the people who
make the best of
the way things turn out. 

Peace & Love


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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Off The Deep End (Chocolate Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting)

Check out my latest guest post over at Off The Deep End - Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (click here).

Peace & Love

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Monday, 2 April 2012

Happiness Is Bread & Butter Pudding

A friend of mine sent me a message the other day on Facebook asking for a simple brioche recipe to use in a posh bread & butter pudding. I couldn't help him with a simple recipe (there's nothing simple about making brioche), but I did ask him for his recipe as it sounded delicious. And it was! I absolutely love brioche, and to mix it with fruit and custard was so much better than I thought possible. I thought this was a dessert for cold weather but it actually works quite well chilled so is versatile. Perhaps the best part about it is that it's a simple assembly job so takes no time at all - you can get all of the ingredients ready made!

Fancy Bread & Butter Pudding

500g Vanilla Custard
400g Brioche Loaf
200g Blueberries

1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5/ 375oF / 190oC

2. Generously butter the base and sides of an oven proof dish

3. Layer the base of the dish with slices of the brioche loaf, cover generously with half of the custard and evenly sprinkle a third of the blueberries over the custard.

4. Repeat the steps above for one more layer and finally add another layer of brioche and decorate the top of the pudding with the remaining blueberries.

5. Cook in the pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the blueberries burst.

6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving warm.

Peace & Love

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