Sunday, 31 January 2010

It's here

Remember the baking blog that I talked about?

Believe it or not, the vision has become a reality.

Come and see what I've been baking over here.

It's still a work in progress and I've got a bit of catching up to do, but the blog is in place, now I just need to get baking.
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Friday, 29 January 2010


ps :: procrastination and snow

I came home this afternoon and sat at my desk with all of my good intentions from the last few months culminating to this point. I needed to make up a couple of cd's and covers for the kids work at church and have been putting it off for far too long.

Now was the time.

The only problem? My window. It's not often that I sit down at my desk, and today I was taken by how many things there were right before my eyes that I wanted to savour.

First, this: My bracelet hanging on it's stand and the light that shone through it.
Light. I haven't seen nearly enough of this lately. Any glimpse of sunshine brightens my day.

And then it got so much better. The sun came out in all its glory. When the sky is this shade of blue, I cannot ignore it. Good thing my camera lives just beside my desk so I didn't actually have to leave my seat to get it, so technically, I was not leaving my work.

Then this: Light dancing on the wall just behind my computer screen. Another beautiful distraction. (Can you tell I love light?) The patterns were made by a sequined headband that I have owned for years but never worn. I'm glad I haven't got rid of it. If the only use it ever has is to create these patterns on my wall, I will be very pleased I bought it.

So, after nearly an hour of enjoying the sight of blue skies, I couldn't quite believe it when I looked up from my laptop to see flurries of snow. Snow! I do not understand the weather we have here. It is so brilliantly unpredictable.

Once the snow decided it had made enough of an appearance, the sun came back to say goodbye at dusk: How could I give up this photo opportunity for the sake of a few cd's? I couldn't.

Believe it or not, I got all the work done that I needed to. Procrastination justified.
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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

baking in miniature

I've decided I'm liking the theme of miniature this year.

Baking in miniature
Photographs in miniature

I could see this theme continuing...

Anyhow, onto the cake rundown. From top to bottom:

1 :: mini meringues topped with white chocolate and crushed pistachio

2 :: blueberry & lemon mille-feuille (I love that this means a thousand leaves - I find there to be something quite inspiring about that)

3 :: bitesize brownies & vanilla cupcakes

4 :: black & white meringues

These were the miniature treats that I baked for last week's baking extravaganza to feed the guests who came to hear this man speak about the time when he died. An incredible story, seriously.

I cannot take full credit for all of the cakes. Like I said before, I had some wonderful helpers to make this happen. Thankyou Ben for your incredible meringue dipping, blueberry-placing skills, Dieks for your pastry cutting gift & Hannah for your immense patience with the ridiculously hard butter in a ridiculously cold kitchen, beating it to submission to make the cupcakes happen.

Photo credits: Ben Currer :: My camera twin who saved the day when I realised I had brought out my camera without it's memory card. Thanks a million, Ben.
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Friday, 22 January 2010

back it up.

Well, that was a rather unexpected hiatus. I was quite pleased with the amount I had managed to blog so far this year, then all of a sudden I am struck down with a sickness that knocked me out for a few days, and stops me from blogging. I can't really completely blame the sickness for my blogging hiatus as it only lasted a few days, but it definitely threw me off kilter slightly.

But I am back.

While I've been away from blogland, aside from being sick, I have made a couple of spotty-dotty cushions (photos to come soon), been re-united with my bike after a mini-snow season, baked a few hundred cakes, and printed lots of photos in miniature

Just in case you were wondering if I was exaggerating about the few hundred cakes, I was not. Shortly after I wrote my last post and had the slightly mad idea of attempting to bake 2010 cakes in 2010, I received a phone call from a friend from church (who, might I add, is an utterly brilliant artist), asking me if I might like to bake about 600 cakes for a guest event our church was hosting. I was so very excited at this opportunity - I'd be nearly a quarter of the way to my target before the end of January!

I genuinely loved planning what I could bake, and carefully calculating the vast quantities of ingredients I would need. While it was a lot of fun, I have to admit that there was a slight element of madness in it all in that I baked half the cakes in our church kitchen which is quite literally empty, aside from an oven, some worktop space, about four unplugged fridges and some sinks. So that, alongside fitting the baking in with my two jobs, proved quite a challenge. Thankfully, I had some brilliant helpers who made the load a lot lighter. I think the end results are worthy of a post of their own...
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Friday, 8 January 2010

Bake 2010

Black Bottomed Cupcakes :: My first baking session of 2010.

The thought occurred to me as I was thinking up a title for this post, 'I wonder how many cakes I'll make in 2010? I wonder if I could make 2010? Ooh, that would be a fun challenge!'

So maybe I will make that one of my challenges of this year, the beginning of a new decade, to bake two thousand and ten cakes.

I think the biggest part of this challenge is going to be keeping count and remembering to add to my list. Any thoughts, anyone?
Ooh, maybe I could keep a baking blog with a numbered photographic record of each cake I make!

Maybe, just maybe...

These little treats are from the Hummingbird Bakery Recipe Book. They're part chocolate cake-part cheesecake filled with chocolate chips and topped with cream cheese frosting.

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Christmas Landscape Snapshots

Here's just a small glimpse into the beauty that met my eyes over Christmas with my parents.

Top left: Reculver at Dusk
Top right: Herne Bay Sunset
Bottom left: Christmas Day sun as we walked to church (Photo taken by John B)
Bottom right: Barnes Family Fire
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Wednesday, 6 January 2010

London Love

Here are two little things which you might not know about me.

1:: I like to be creative and make things.

2:: I have a tendency to start one thing then start something else and not get the first thing done because I've got distracted. Some days I feel like I leave unfinished business in my wake, a stream of things behind me waiting to reach completion.

Some time ago, about a year ago in fact, I saw this idea of making a string of paper hearts. Beautifully simple & aesthetically pleasing.

Determined to recreate this idea, I went into a charity shop in search of a map that I could cut up and make into hearts. I asked the kind lady whether they had any in stock and she said, 'No'. Then remembered with slight embarrassment that she had thrown a very old copy of a London A-Z away just a few minutes before I arrived. Sheepishly, the kind lady removed the said map from the bin and said, 'it's yours if you want it.' It was perfect. As it had been classified as rubbish, I was offered the map free of charge, but I felt that would be a little bit like stealing from charity, so I paid the princely sum of 20p and walked away with a big smile on my face.

Fast forward 365 days, give or take, and I find myself at home with an unexpected day to myself, due to snow. Ah the endless possibilities of things to do! I attempted making a cushion which went slightly wrong. Not horrendously so, but not quite how I envisaged it. Being the slightly impatient person that I am, I didn't undo all the stitching and start over, I moved along to the next thing that needed to be done, leaving the poor cushion in my wake.

Fifteen minutes later, I had a string of stitched paper hearts hanging on my wall.

365 days ago, I had not met a man who goes by the name of John King, but I had found a little treasure of a map. A London A-Z, showing me roads and parks and churches in black&white print, of a city I hardly knew.

Little did I know that 365 days after I started cutting hearts out from this map, I would have been to London more times in the space of 7 months than I had over the course of my lifetime, all because I came to love John King, a boy from London, living in Bristol, who likes to go back to his home city.

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Note to self

Something I learned last year on a training day we had at school is that I am a kinaesthetic learner. This means I learn & remember most when the teaching is visually interactive. Although I don't see days in particular colours, which apparently some people do, I do like a bit of visual stimulus to help me remember.

Thanks to my digital camera, I remember events more clearly because I remember the photos that I took related to that event. All the day long, I have pictures attached to my thoughts. I find this quite fun, and all the more enjoyable now that I have a lovely jubbely camera to help me record things.

Where am I going on this ramble? Well, the reason for this post is to serve the purpose of helping me remember next Christmas the ideas I had this Christmas, that I might be able to build and expand my ideas.

My favourite recipe of the season were these delicious white chocolate & cranberry cookies. You can find the recipe here. The cranberries are actually meant to be raspberries, but those scrumptious little beauties cost far too much money at this time of year, so I brought in the cranberry craisins to act as a substitute. Hmmm substitute doesn't seem to really do them justice because I think they work in perfect harmony with the sweetness of the white chocolate.

I'm off to bake some date & banana loaf.
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There's that famous Christmas song by Dean Martin with the line, 'let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.' Every Winter, I find those words surface in my mind, hoping that maybe we'll have a little bit more of the beautiful white stuff than normal this year.

So far, 2010 has proved faithful in bringing my wish to life. I'm home on this White Wednesday morning because it has snowed. A lot. So much so that schools across the city have closed for the day. I kind of like the fact that because we don't get guaranteed snow here every year, we are not very well prepared for when those beautiful flakes start falling, quiet, soft and slow. Life slows right down and we have to adjust our routines.

Adjusting my routine means using my feet for transport instead of my two wheels. However, the other day I didn't feel like spending my day walking, so I caught the bus. Standing at the bus stop, I had a little think about 2010. This is what I thought...

So, hello 2010, you're here. I have no idea what you are going to bring, and that feels a little bit funny. What did I feel like at the beginning of 2009? All I can remember is that in March, I still didn't feel like 2009 sounded quite right. So far there's not a lot in my diary for this year. I wonder what events will fill its pages? One thing I know is that I'm going to turn 26 this year. 26. That's nearer to 30 than it is to 20. Gosh, I am now at an age where I have to do a calculation in my head to work out how old a person is when they were born in the 1990's. I don't know if someone's 18 or not as soon as they say the year of their birth! How did that happen? How can I have already been living in this city for 5 years? Oh my.

In conclusion, I still have no idea what this year will bring, and it feels very much like a blank canvas. But that's ok. Good, even. For now, I'm going to fill a little bit of my day with some this space and my creativity might just make an appearance.
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