Saturday, 2 April 2016

A tale of two cakes.....part two

So here we are again and, yes, there's more cake. 

My boy had his birthday party a little early with some school friends. I made a large cake for them all to enjoy which hopefully you have read about in my most recent post. It was his actual birthday in the Easter holidays and I simply couldn't let him not have a cake on his actual birthday.

I had to think long and hard about which second cake to make for him. Sure, he would always love a Star Wars cake but he had a hint of that in his joint cake. He would always be pleased with a superhero cake - but again, been there, done that. 

I decided theme wasn't the key this year but fun certainly was! My boy loves him some Smarties and that's where it all began. I'm not usually one for trends or fads in the baking world but this time I had to go trendy (yep - I'm so old now that I use words like trendy which are so totally not trendy in any way!)

Here we are then -------- a rainbow, skyscraper, pinata cake. Everything that my boy adores - purple, cake, get the drift. 

I whipped up an all in one Victoria sponge mix which I use all the time - holla at me if you would like the recipe. Normally, I would always use golden sugar but in this instance it is advisable to use white sugar (I know - shit right?) because it makes your cake mix nice and pale so that it takes the colour in a true way rather than with a tinge. 

I divided it by eye into six bowls and then added the colour. Gel colour for the win. Doesn't dilute the mix and make it too sloppy. Easy to build for the desired shade. Come on - you know by now that gel colour is the only way to go right? 
Red and yelloe and pink and green (there's seriously no pink!)
Once the colour is mixed in well it's time to pop the mixture into the pre-greased pans. I actually bought a set of 6inch cake pans for this cake. I normally wouldn't and then would bake cakes in batches as I have two of pretty much every size for making layer cakes. It felt truly luxurious to have the proper "kit" for once instead of making do!

 Ta - DA!!!!! Here's the finished cake. I layered it with vanilla buttercream, crumb coated it, left it to dry and then fully iced it with the buttercream. Much as I love a cream cheese icing or any flavoured icing over a plain vanilla buttercream I had to choose what my boy would love and plus the pale colour of this icing really helps the colour of the cakes to pop when you cut into it. 

Howe cute are these star and letter candles which we bought randomly in our local newsagent a couple of years ago?!

There you have it. Not the most fancy creation in the world but it was yummy and moist and the colours were fab! I used actual Smarties for the inside and I decorated the outside with slightly smaller, fake ones which I had got from a cake decorating shop a while ago. 

When my boy saw this cake his jaw dropped and he literally fell to the floor, completely silent. This was quite a dramatic and hilarious reaction - just the sort of thing I would expect from my boy. He's super awesome after all. 

A yummy cake which packed lots of fun was shared by all of our friends and family. 

Two birthday. Done for another year. Deets on request. 
Much love. Goodnight. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

A tale of two cakes....part one

March Madness - aka birthday bake-a-thon is upon us. My boy turned six this month which is both crazy and awesome in equal measures!

This year he had a brilliant party with three school friends. It was the first time we have gone down the route of a children's entertainer but I must say it was fab! Sharing with three other families also brought the cost to a much more reasonable level - being a children's entertainer in London means you gets PAID!!!!!

Naturally - I was in charge of cake.

I've been to joint parties before where there has been one cake for each child but this is massive overkill and usually ends up with a lot of left over cake (luckily I'm like Joey with a fork in my pocket ready for just such an occasion). So I decided we would have one large cake - big enough to feed everyone. The issue with only one cake however is that little ones like to have their own candles.....cue a little bit of creative thinking. 

The children have been doing castles as their topic at school recently so that's what I decided to make. A castle with four towers, one for each child - themed to their personal interests. (It seemed like a good idea when I came up with it - there may have been certainly was lots of swearing throughout the process!)

I went for a square layer cake for the main part of the building, alternate layers of vanilla and chocolate sponge which was then covered in icing which I imprinted with a brick pattern (using something like this). I bought white icing and coloured it grey myself to achieve the colour I was looking for. I used black gel colour and gradually built it up to a light stone shade. (My guns were pumped after all the kneading!)

For the towers I needed something really solid which I could cover with the same icing but still stand up! I opted for a rice crispie concoction. I melted a random amount of butter and mini marshmallows in a pan, stirring until smooth. Then I poured in an equally random amount of rice crispies (or at least the cheaper, Waitrose version).

WARNING: If you attempt such a mixture you need to know that this shit is stickier than an actual stick covered in sticky stuff so please be careful!!! You need to grease every utensil and surface to fuck in order to handle it. Also unless you have the asbestos hands of Indian lady who's been cooking roti all her life (like me) you should not put your hands directly into the mixture until it is much, much cooler!!!

I had to get all Blue Peter on this project to construct my towers. I covered some stiff card with greaseproof paper and then used tape and paperclips to roll them into cylinders. I greased my hands liberally and grabbed chunks of the mixture and packed it inside each of the four towers to the height I wanted.

You may be realising that my approach to this kind of thing is somewhat haphazard and you'd be right!!!

I squished it down so it was in tight then left it to set. As sticky as this stuff is when warm it's ridiculously solid when cold and dry. Thanks to the greaseproof paper they came out totally clean when I unwrapped them. (Phew!)

I crumb coated everything with vanilla buttercream, once that was dry it was all given a more liberal coating of buttercream. Next I covered the square cake in the rolled icing and then each tower individually with the same. The towers were then attached to the main cake with cocktail sticks (yet more hi-tech equipment in use!). 

At this point I realised that I had - 1) forgotten to put battlements under the fondant and 2) not made all the towers the same height or circumference. 

It was at this juncture that I revisited my original design and of course remembered that I had planned all along for this to be a ruined castle, therefore rendering all such mistakes totally and utterly planned! Problem solved :)

Afterthought battlements added I moved on to the decoration for each tower:

  • My boy requested Star Wars so clashing light sabres and a Darth Vader motif (he is a big fan of the dark side).
  • The only girl in the group was given a Minnie Mouse tower (I know that she also likes Hello Kitty but seriously my decorating skills could not stretch to that!)
  • English cricket up next - wickets, ball and those big leg pads - job done :)
  • Liverpool football club got some simple football decorations - weirdly my unwavering hatred of football meant that I couldn't manage to make a sodding fondant football for love nor money (most of the swearing happened here). Thankfully my football-loving husband who has literally never fondled fondant footballs before was impressively good at making them (he also makes a good G&T so the cake was once again back on track). 

Towers done and all cracks patched up I added the other bits and bobs. The children had recently been on a school trip to an actual castle and one of my boy's favourite parts was the "small door within a big door" and the drawbridge so naturally, these features had to be included. String and mini drawing pins were surprisingly effective in this section. (I'll take that Blue Peter badge now thank you!)

I made the lettering for each tower so it said each child's name and then I did the lettering for the roof so it read HAPPY BIRTHDAY (aka - shit there's loads of space on top and I've got no idea what to do with it!!!!)

Those cocktail sticks came in handy again as I made a mini flag for each tower and a "6" banner. 

So there you have it - a sufficiently long-winded story of how I made this beast of a cake. 

Each little chap and chapess was happy to have a joint cake which was also totally individual. Plus they had their own candles to blow out after the song. Win-win.

All in all - a successful birthday cake and four happy six year olds (then there was Prosecco - it's all good). 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Review - Beets BLU Wireless Body Fat Scale

I'm here today with a very exciting review......I know I've been promising you some changes around here and I can assure you that they are still coming but until I reveal said changes I can use this product review as a little clue to some topics which I will soon be discussing.

Without further ado - I present to you the Beets BLU Full Size Wireless Body Fat Scale.

[I was sent this product for the purposes of this review but as always you can rest assured that all the opinions stated are my own and this is an honest account of my experience with this product.]

First, let's discuss the difference between this type of scales and any old normal weighing scales. Well to start with, they aren't old and inaccurate like the ones which have lived in my bathroom for years! Also - look how pretty they are?!

Sorry about the feet!
So, aside from literally being shiny and new these scales can do more than just tell you how much you weigh. Here's comes the science bit....

You need to make sure that you have bare feet when using these scales as they send a pulse through your body which can determine an accurate breakdown of your bodyweight. But how? I hear you ask...this pulse travels differently through muscle, fat, bone, water etc and then the scales use a special algorithm to calculate your percentages and an overall BMI.

The scales were super easy to set up. They come with four AAA batteries and so all I had to do was pop them in and the scales worked (you can change the settings to whichever unit you prefer).

Next, I downloaded the free app from the AppStore and the scales automatically synched with my iPhone6+ through Bluetooth. (You can also get an App for Android phones and other iPhone models). You then set up your profile in the app by inputting your height, age etc. Seriously - this was so easy to set up.

Once synched, the scales communicated their findings to my phone. I could then see a clear breakdown of my weight. I have also set up my target percentages in my profile so I can track my progress towards my goals. You can even set up multiple accounts so other members of your household can use these scales too.

This type of scales are perfect for me as I have been weight training so much recently I now focus much less on my actual weight and much more on what makes up that number since muscle mass weighs more than fat. It definitely took me a while to accept that I was not going to see the number on the scales go down as I felt somewhat disheartened - but now I have these bad boys I once again get to see a number going down (the body fat) and also get overly excited when one of the numbers goes up (muscle mass).

So there you have it. You too could possess your very own set of these scales by purchasing them from Amazon.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Back from holiday

Hello you lovely lot,

Not much to see here today except a load of holiday pics from our recent trip back to our little apartment in Mallorca. It's wonderful to have had some sunshine and just to spend some precious family time together all having fun. I love making memories with the boy and discovering new fun things to do each time we escape to our island getaway.

Much as I love to travel I am a real homebird so I can't tell you how happy I am to be home. I don't even mind that it's done nothing but rain since it gives me the perfect excuse to curl up in my pjs with a blanket - perfick.

I have lots of new features coming soon on the site so I hope you will continue to stop by and ring in the changes with me but for now I will just leave you with the pics.

capsule wardrobe for the boy - loving the stripes!

leaving on a jet plane

the view from our home

if you like pina coladas

first night G&T to get in the holiday spirit

my loves sharing a laugh

me relaxing and watching the boats bobbing
Fun at the aquarium. My boy is so obsessed with all things under the sea. He never fails to amaze me at the best of times but he excelled himself during this visit by knowing the names of an incredible number of fish and animals. Not only did he know their names but he knew incredible facts about them - the things he remembers are awesome!
Maybe we have a budding marine biologist on our hands.

tropical paradise

My climbing baby was very brave and fearless at the brilliant climbing park we visited. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Pocket money purchase from the gift shop - cuddly starfish. Love this outfit on him!

Take off, in-flight and landing

Friday, 3 July 2015

NOTHS A Christmas Less Ordinary

Regular viewers need not adjust their is definitely July still - I can tell because as I write this I am sitting directly in front of a large fan and wearing very little clothing (easy now - this is still a family show!) and my phone tells me that even at 9pm it is still 25 degrees outside....

Yesterday I had a lovely, child-free, school pick-up-free day (thanks lovely husband) in Soho with my blogging buddy Lucy. Please make sure you check out Lucy's fab blog and show her some Virtual love, k? K!

I started my day by dropping off the boy at school, then onto my ladies walking group and a cool 6.5 mile walk along the river. I ran some errands then headed home for a quick change and I was then headed into town  - once I had broken through the hordes of people who descend upon my neighbourhood at this time of year (Wimbledon - gah! I'm no fan of tennis and even less of a fan of not being able to walk through my own village!).

I met up with the lovely Lucy (you remember her from above right?) and we had a spot of lunch at Ed's Easy Diner - a Soho classic, where it all started. Stomachs suitably lined we popped round the corner for the Not on the Highstreet Christmas in July press event.
I simply adore NOTHS - who doesn't love gorgeous, hand-picked, unique and often personalised gifts?!

Now, y'all remember how much I love Christmas don't you? You remember that it's not just a regular amount - it's actually a silly amount, so the combo of today's event was right up my (not on the) highstreet (sorry I couldn't resist that one).

Three floors of festive fever (say that three times fast) greeted us, and my letter to Father Christmas was being mentally formed as I wandered round..along with a Christmas shopping list for everyone else - there was truly something for all the family. 

Now I'm pretty much going to let the pictures do the talking...

I'm so in love with this scarf. I want, ney - need this in my life!

Personalised jewellery gallore - plus having your children's artwork etched onto a pendent - totes adorbs!
Lucy and I were in our element given our mutual love obsession for rose gold/copper
Truly gifts for all tastes and ages - am I too old for a cardboard fort? 

Honeywell Bakes - totally fabulous cookies which taste as good as they look. Created by the lovely Rebecca, who has a sister named Rhiannon, who has always complained of never being able to find things with her name on like other people. Now - this is really strange because my name is Rhiannon (hi!) and my sister's name is Rebecca - crazy no? Plus I have always been sad because no shops ever had things with my name on them. Well this lovely lady understood my plight and gifted me my very own Rhiannon cookie - as well as this supercute polar bear. (The fact that my boy scoffed both of these is by the by). You should definitely check these out - the packaging has the cutest illustrations on it!

An awesome gin related light up piece

Look - A&R for Rhia and Alex. There really were a lot of coincidences around for me!

After the event and armed with generous goodie bags....alcohol+sweets=awesome. Plus my very own dinosaur succulent planter - the coolest thing ever!

We headed round the corner to the legendary Bar Italia for coffee and a chat - thanks Luce - I owe you an espresso or two ;) It was really great putting the world to rights and having a good gossip. 

After a wander through Soho and a random mooch around a Japanese supermarket we parted ways and I headed home to my boys, having clocked up an impressive 11.2miles - not bad for an average Thursday I reckon. 

School has now officially finished for the year and my lovely boy received a glowing report and was even presented with an award for sport in a prize-giving ceremony today. I'm excited for the holidays and I'm looking forward to a slower pace of life so much and I have lots of lovely posts lined up for you once I'm back from our trip to Spain. 

See you on the other side peeps. ¡Hasta luego! 

Many thanks to the lovely people at NOTHS for having me :)

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