All new for 2014-2015

Yep, crap blogger. Never update this thing. But things have changed a little bit recently and I’m going to need somewhere to pull all my thoughts together and try things out and also to have something to look back on after all is said and done.

I’ve been with my other half for a long time now, over 8 years and we’ve been through a lot, good stuff/bad stuff, like everyone. We always knew we wanted to get married but it’s only just come together. We’ve made it official and will be getting married in August 2015.

I won’t be making my own cake, I won’t have time and I don’t want the added faff, plus I know some fabulous cake makers running excellent cake making businesses.

There will be an element of DIY, I want everything to have a personal touch and for our guests to know that it is very ‘us’. I’m guessing that everyone would like something along those lines, so I’m going to use my blog now to try out different DIYs, Pinterest ideas etc while there’s still time to make changes and try lots of things.

My dress is a secret, meet me for coffee and I’ll show you a sketch. Maybe. But I also hope to introduce the various vendors we meet along the way, and some honest reviews of their services after the event.

Wedding fever has hit. We are excited. Stand by.


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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Uncategorized


Ruby wedding anniversary

40 years ago, when my mam was 19 she married my Dad who was 24. They had known each other for 4 months when they tied the knot. Explains the look of confusion on all the wedding photos.

Anyway, May saw them celebrate their Ruby Wedding Anniversary. They don’t really do wedding anniversary celebrations so this was reduced to cake and wine and dinner and a nice cup of tea.

I made them a cake from the Bake Off: Showstoppers book. Using a secret filling cake tin from Lakeland (about £19.99, but comes with inserts for regular sponges as well as hidden filling ones)

If you have the book, you have the recipe. I went for pink and white as a theme rather than all white, but as you can see from the photos it worked reasonably well. Both parents were happy and a lovely day was had by all.



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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in baking adventures


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Hollywood Cake Contest 2013


So last bank holiday weekend saw the return of the Tyneside Cinema anniversary weekend and with it (fanfare, please) the Hollywood cake contest!

And I wasn’t going to enter. I’d just made a cake for my parents ruby wedding anniversary, it had been a really tough week at work, I was pooped. And uninspired. And grumpy.

But then, having lunch in sunny Tynemouth with le boyfriend, we chatted about it and from nowhere, like some sort of divine intervention he said

“Pet Semetary”

With that shrug of someone who knows they’ve had a genius idea but doesn’t want to look too smug about it.

What’s not to love about murderous undead pets, children and wives in book and film format?

Anyhow. Back to the cake.

I went with my favourite chocolate cake recipe, filled it with vanilla buttercream and apricot jam and topped it chocolate buttercream.

And then came the fun stuff. I dyed coconut green (grass) and crumbled up a couple of flakes (earth) and shaped a very simple tombstone (RIP FLUFFY lovingly painted on with gel colouring) followed by four paws and two ears.

You can see from the photo how they were arranged. I was going for the ‘undead bunny about to leap forth’ look.

I know. I know. It should have been a cat. But a bunny was just…funny?

Took no time at all to do, got good marks for taste, texture and all that jazz but because the judge had never heard of either the book or the film, he awarded 3rd place.

Ah well, there’s always next year. Happy to place, but would love a higher placed finish next year.

Would love to do a Tarantino homage next time…



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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in baking adventures


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What’s all this? A new post?!

It’s been an age. I’m not a good blogger, I clearly was not born to do this. So I’ll not apologise for the gap between posts. That’s just me.

Anyhoo. 2013 was supposed to be a calm and cheerful experience that went wrong in pretty much the first week of the year and didn’t really get much better. I would love to write a post about those experiences, but I don’t feel that I can. It’s not that sort of blog. However, things are back on the straight and narrow, so I’m back on the craft and baking bandwagon.

It’s very likely that if you’re into sewing you’ve been watching The Great British Sewing Bee (Patrick Grant – hubba and also hubba). This guilt tripped me into dusting off the sewing machine and to shop for some pretty fabric. I decided that with the promise of some sunny weather and a summer holiday booked I should really make a dress (but of course!). I chose a pattern from Prima, simple, easy to follow, nothing drastic.

A trip to the Grainger Market in Newcastle followed, good range of fabrics at embarrassingly reasonable prices compared to John Lewis and Cath Kidston around the corner. Well worth a visit. All told, it cost around £15 to make. Only 2 metres of fabric required and a 55cm zip.

You could probably make this dress in a day, it took me a week or so, doing a little here and there. I’m pretty happy with the result, I’ll make it again but with modifications. I’ll opt for a square neckline, as that’s more flattering on my large bust and make the sleeves a little longer and a bit more ‘puffy’, probably with a little cuff.

Last year I won a purse from the lovely Whitney Sews (find her on YouTube under aglanceatmyworld) she was kind enough to send me a length of pretty lace edging that matched the colours in the fabric of this project, so I added this to the hem of the dress.

How would I wear it? Well, it’s a very simple shape, so it can look ‘smocky’, not a good look on me, I’ll definitely wear this with a belt and in this fabric it’s so girly (with an almost little house on the prairie type feel, don’t ask, the idea just popped in there and now it won’t leave) that it needs something not girly to go with it. Im thinking my sort-of-like-cowboy-boots-but-girlier-than-that boots.

As I said, I’ll be making this again. I imagine it’ll look quite different depending on the fabric. The skirt will be very swishy in a silk or jersey. And I’ve got my eye on a polka dot pattern light cotton. Possibilities are endless with this one. Very wearable and easily modified.



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Posted by on April 21, 2013 in sewing adventures


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Christmas 2012 update


I’m rubbish at keeping this blog updated so i hope you don’t mind a brief review of the last few months.

In the autumn i joined a baking club called ‘Singing hinnies and fat rascals’ follow us on twitter on @gasmarkfour – i’ve previously avoided baking clubs mainly because they struck me as cliquey and highly specialised. The nice thing about the hinnies is the lack of rules. It can be anything as long as it’s baked and produced by your own fair hand. (Why singing hinnies? Singing hinnies and fat rascals are regional baked treats) We’ve had a few meets now and it’s gone from strength to strength – congratulations to Suzy (@deathbysuzy) for making it so successful, she’s worked really hard!

Following on from that experience, and it’s not at all cliquey or competitive as i thought, i met some lovely people and decided to try the Private Pie club in December. Private Pie, as the name suggests is a pie club at a secret location. I went to their first birthday party in December with my cranberry pudding pie (yeah, i know, very loosely a pie) and i can’t wait for the next one 🙂

At the beginning of December i took part in a charity gingerbread house competition organised by the ladies of the Clandestine Cake Club in Newcastle. I didn’t win anything, but all of the houses entered were very impressive and winners were well deserved.

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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Chocolate Workshop

I turned 30 in June. I wasn’t pleased about it. But my lovely friend and former housemate Clare made my day by giving me the chance to take part in a chocolate making workshop 🙂

I hardly ever do chocolate work, I have very warm hands and usually find I make a dreadful mess, so this was a good opportunity to learn from a professional.

We learned a little more about chocolate, different types, it’s uses, history etc but the most exciting part was learning how to make our truffles!

We made a simple ganache with cream and melted chocolate (you can add Baileys or other flavourings at this stage) and piped it out on to paper. Much harder than it sounds! That stuff is stiff to work with! Then we worked small amounts into balls using fingertips only. Frequent hand rinsing in iced water really helped stop the ganache melting. We left them to set for a few minutes while we were shown how to temper chocolate.

The tempering process was easier than I thought it would be – I just need to invest in a very large marble tile to cool the chocolate quickly. Tempering helps to give the set chocolate a shine and a snap when you bite into it.

Finishing the truffles was the fun part, rolling the ganache balls in the tempered chocolate and then in different toppings. I did nuts, sugar, cocoa and coconut.

While our chocolates were setting we learned how to make crispy mint thins.
I’m going to experiment a bit with this so I’m going to do another blog post on this nearer the festive season.

I’d highly recommend a class by red house chocolate. Lovely afternoon!

Thanks Clare 🙂



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Much Ado About Nothing

So here I am on holiday. Or at least I was. Visiting Cornwall in late August seems like a safe bet for good weather, but it wasn’t to be. After several near drowning experiences we decided to cut short our holiday and head north again via the Eden Project (post to follow!).

Boyfriend suggested Stratford upon Avon as a nice stopping point, a tour of the RSC and a look at the birthplace of Shakespeare etc.

When we got there we decided that we couldn’t leave without seeing something at the theatre so we managed to bag ourselves tickets to see an RSC production of Much Ado About Nothing starring Meera Syall at the courtyard theatre.

The experience started as soon as you entered the foyer, samosas, flowers, Bollywood film posters, noisy street soundtrack, incense, bicycles – a great start.
Our seats by the stage were excellent and the set beautiful. A huge tree covered in light bulbs, a swing, heat haze (yes, really) and a building with a balcony, roof and staircase and all the laundry. The cast mingled with the audience and kept us entertained until show time.

It’s probably the most immersive theatre experience I’ve had and small touches like inviting members of the audience on stage to be guests at the wedding were just wonderful as were the Bollywood dance sequences and the costumes. All topped off with an appearance of the Mobot.

A great cast, an intimate setting, a fantastic interpretation of the play. I loved it! I just about skipped my way back to the hotel – so much fun and colour, but dealing with the difficult issues in the play sensitively and with a unique perspective.

If you can see it, go. The tickets are ridiculously affordable and it really is a wonderful evening.



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