Here we go!

Not quite sure how this will go but

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hello's been a while!!!

November 2011 was the last time I posted - Well it's time to get back on track and make an effort to keep the blog up-to-date!
I won't even try to fill in the gaps but there have been plenty of smiles, tears, up and downs and lots of cakes and scrapbooking!
So now the sun is out, it's beautiful outside and I have a little bit more time (for the moment anyway!) I will do what lots of you have asked - more news, more photos and projects.
Trip to Nice, Aix and Toulon in the sun...

So we finally finished the scrapbooking A-Z of our hotels and bars - only recently though. It took longer than expected but it was so much fun. A quick reminder - find a 4*/5* hotel in London and visit the bar for fizz or a cocktail. Keep a record of it and design a scrapbook page for and album that matched the hotel theme. Sounds simple?
Well to go from A-Z seemed easy at the time but there were a couple of letters we struggled to find nice hotels but we finally managed it and our last one was Zetter. It was fabulous and they certainly looked after us!
We had cocktails and then dinner to finish of our fabulous project. It was amazing, the food was delicious at Bruno Loubet's Bistrot in Zetter and then cocktails in the Zetter Townhouse. What a brilliant end to A-Z although a little sad to have finished!
The staff were just brilliant and we will return without a doubt!

So now my better half comes up with lots of new ideas for another project - hotels, restaurants, towns, French towns, pubs... all A-Z of course.
I think if we add up how much this one cost we may have to rethink!!!!

As soon as I have finished the page I will post it along with all 25 others!

Cakes have been steady and varied from Christenings to weddings plus cookies, cake pops and gateaux. I have put them all on the website and Facebook but some highlights have included the twins 3rd birthday this week... How time flies and Auntie Jules feels older ever day, especially after the birth of another nephew!!!

Beautiful wedding cakes for friends, family and friends of friends...
So many I can't fit them all on!
Someone asked me recently if I enjoyed making them - well I love it. Creating a cake from start to finish using the freshest ingredients and seeing it transform into something unique and personal to many people is fantastic. Some people have very clear ideas on what they would like and others are more open to ideas.
Have I had any disasters?
Only one (thank goodness) when I had to deliver a three tiered stacked cake on my own down a very windy country lane at night...
...when I drove even more carefully than usual. A pity that the man doing about 60 coming the other way in the middle of the road wasn't as thoughtful!
As the cake slid forward and toppled slightly my heart sank... As I hit the brakes my beautiful cake went horizontal. No amount of icing, patching up or salvaging would have done so I headed home in tears to spend all night making three more tiers. Fortunately I had made enough flowers for spares...
Heart in stomach moment...
Now I have a delivery driver (a reluctant one who refuses to use a satnav!) and I keep a watchful eye on the cakes!!!
So cakes have kept me busy and so have my fabulous friends. Dinner parties galore, cocktail nights and soirees. Friends bring out the best in you and I always laugh so much...
As I look along the bookshelves at the fifty of so cookbooks I have, last year we decided to try and cook at least one new meal a week from a different book. (it makes me dust them as well!)
We love cooking but tend to stick to tried and trusted recipes so this was a new challenge. Some books have pages stuck together where the ingredients have splashed onto the pages and others are covered in fingerprints from so much use. I love all the books but I have to say that Delia will always be Queen...
We have eaten at many fabulous restaurants and we always seem to come back with a book.
This year two of the best were Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw.
Some recipes are easy to follow and others take a day to collect all the ingredients and prepare them!
Why do meals take forever to lovingly prepare and cook and 10 minutes to eat!!!!!
At the moment Rick Stein's "India" is this week's favourite but if anyone can tell me where to get Kashmiri chilli powder from that would be great!
Tapas from Omar Alibhoy's book "Tapas Revolution is next....
France has been a huge part of my life and looking for a house out there takes up a lot of time both in France and on the internet (that's my excuse anyway!!!). A brilliant summer in the Lot/Dordogne including a beautiful wedding and a trip back to Bordeaux to meet some beautiful and caring people was just perfect. A week at half term with my beautiful nieces was just perfect in a little cottage and we had so much fun. Christmas and New Year in France was brilliant and lots of fabulous food and local wine just made the holiday - and our amazing friends. The little village will never be the same after the Abba tribute (love you Sue!!!!)
Meeting new people and making lots of memories is just the best.
So apart from work which is always a distraction, life is good and with amazing friends, a brilliant family, wonderful neighbours and my better half of course; I look forward to posting more pics and catching up with you all.
Happy Easter!!!
My mantra from now...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Autumn has definitely arrived!!!!

Well it just shows how long I get to sit down for!
I started this in half-term but then never got to finish it so I'm now at home with the central heating on again and not in a beautiful Cornish pub!

"It's October half term and this is the first time I have sat down and chilled out and fortunately I am in a lovely watering hole in Cornwall watching the waves crash onto the bay as surfers test the waves beneath the Scarlet Hotel. Knowing me I won't get to stay here very long and will never finish!
This is a perfect way to spend half-term, even if I have brought some marking with me!
This morning we went to the Camel Winery which was fabulous and bought some gorgeous sparkling wine that we are going to have with breakfast tomorrow for my "little chef's" birthday!
I won't say how old he is going to be but the lady in Tesco's asked if the numbered candles I had bought were for 74 or 47!!!!
Then we went to Port Isaac where they film Doc Martin. It's our regular trip and the pub lunch didn't disappoint again this year. The food down in the south-west is amazing!
It's just as well we have been for very long walks across the cliffs to walk some of the lovely food off! Am looking forward to a lovely lunch at Nathan Outlaw's brasserie as last year the food in his restaurant was sooo delicious!"

So that's as far as I got and now have already been back at work, back into the swing of things and back to cupcakes for today. Six flavours today - double white chocolate, coffee and walnut (especially for Liz!), raspberry and vanilla, dark chocolate and black cherry, a banana muffin cupcake and last but not least a toffee crunch cupcake.
 I was very organised and got in lots of sweets for the trick or treaters last night and not one turned up! I now have loads of sherbert dips that apparently turn your mouth black - mm wonder if could give them as treats as school....

So half-term already seems like ages ago and I already have piles of marking to do. Lots of cakes too to keep me busy and the last two months were the same!
So the day after I got back from Spain I had two to do, a golden wedding anniversary cake and an 18th birthday for Laura. I love the simple daisy cake, perfect for a golden wedding celebration.
Laura wanted girly cupcakes but also one of herself!

Vanilla, raspberry and white chocolate underneath all that vanilla buttercream!
Then a lovely surprise - Veg is back!!! Woohoo!!! How we missed you Veg!
Just in time for her birthday and as she loves a bit of leopard print I thought this would be a good theme for her cake, especially as Morrisons do gorgeous animal print cupcake cases!
What a lovely celebration for a lovely lady!

A first for me next - two ordination orders, both for the same day at Rochester Cathedrail. What a special occasion and to think that the Bishop was having my cupcakes for afternoon tea - how lovely!

Now you know I love children's cakes if you know me. I love colour and characters, even if I have to do loads of research if I have never heard of them. This was the case with Sophie's cake - Moshi monsters!
I didn't even know what they were but Sophie very kindly found me pictures of her favourites. Since then I have seen lots of these, in all shapes, sizes and cuddly varieties too. They are quite cute!

Now some people give me very specific designs and others leave it to me. My next lady was very specific in what she wanted for her son and it was a bit of a challenge - another musical one!
I am hopeless at music and although have almost got my voice back to normal, my friends would be the first to tell you I am rubbish at singing and have only ever done karaoke once and that was under duress!!!
This time drums. As I'm a bit pernickity about detail (is that even a word or have I made it up?) I headed to the music department at school for a look at the set of drums - well I found bits - bits in the corridor, bits in the room and bits in the maths room (!) so still couldn't see a full set. So more research!
I loved the finished result and I know they did too so it was worth the worry!

More children's cakes and a birthday party for what seemed like hundreds of children for gorgeous Myles' birthday! Shopping, cooking, preparing and cleaning up (only so I could stay in the kitchen and avoid pass the parcel!) and I was exhausted!
Children are loud and hard work! ha ha and I call myself a teacher!!!

Myles is a cutie!!!
A quick one next and I only had to do the decoration for this boozy celebration. Bless - those were the days!

A lovely joint bithday cake next for a dear friend's daughter's birthday was a very pink and girly affair. I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with him after so many years but I still missed him!
One day Dave we will catch up for a gossip!
Then an event I have been so looking forward to - a wedding for two lovely people. This time I had a bit more to do, not just the cake - the invitations were handmade and sent in May, table centres and balloons ordered, decorations done, favours made and labelled and food bought ready to be prepared. I wanted it to be very special for the lovely couple and their families so I put on my Jennifer Lopez "wedding planner" hat and thought it through carefully. I love that film (although havent fallen in love with the groom thank goodness- as lovely as he is!!!) The day arrived and it was soooo romantic and lovely.
The groom's only request was for a pyramid cake with lots of different flavours. I made a birthday cake for him years ago as pyramid and with the help from his fab sister - my best friend, we made a camel too!
This time no camels but a very determined bride and a Liverpool loving groom feeling the heat!
It was an amazing day and they both looked amazing. Congratulations Mark and Michelle xx

I love staying in touch with former students as they have (nearly) all been so amazing and wonderful to teach so I was really pleased to make a 21st cake for the lovely Maria - she was just one of the nicest, most hard-working and fabulous students ever!!

Shopping, a bit of Louis Vuitton and some shoes were in order...
So now in October it was the twin's christening. My gorgeous niece and nephew were christened in Sussex. It was soooo wonderful and they were just simply soooo cute and adorable. I know I am biased but never mind!
Another buffet and lots of cakes to make. There was no way there were going to share a cake - they are far too special so a cute cake each and the traditional top tier of my sister's wedding cake to top them. It was 8 years old but still very moist - must have been all the brandy I put in, they never say enough in recipes!!!!
It was just the most perfect day and I got lots of cuddles too!

A retirement cake for Monica ( wish I was under a palm tree on an island at the moment!) was a surprise for her afternoon tea and the biggest glass of wine on a cake for a 50th topped off the month before leaving for the south-west.

It certainly was a busy half-term and so many special occasions. Back to work mode now and three very special cakes for this weekend are being planned. The clocks have gone back and the evenings are so dark so much earlier it really feels like winter already!
Unfortunately I have had to turn down so many cakes and I am really really sorry but there just aren't enough hours in the day to be able to do them all. So teaching part-time????
Probably not! But it's a thought!
Two days back and it's mad already!
Bring on that Lottery win Lynette!!!!!!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Is it ok to have the heating on in August????

This time yesterday I was sunbathing by a beautiful pool in 38 degrees of sunshine, daydreaming and trying not to think of coming home...
Now I am huddled up in pjs and bed socks with the heating on and Jo Malone candles burning for extra heat (and a beautiful smell) at the end of August!?!
What on earth happened to our summer?????

Two and a half weeks away and I come back to really chilly weather - not really liking this at all!
I bet the sun will shine the day the kids go back to school....

So a busy month and lots of cakes to fit in before I went. I almost didn't make the airport as I was still finishing a cake off five minutes before we left... a bit too close to the wire!
I'm not really sure where the summer holiday has gone and as usual it has gone far too quickly for my liking. I suppose a mixture of school work, marking coursework, planning, cakes, meeting friends and spending a bit of time with the twins( gorgeous!!) and my sister meant that time flew by.
Still it was all worth it and I feel a bit more relaxed (well I did until I got back to chilly weather and a long long list of things to do over the next few months!)

So back to school and the end of term was fab if not manic - staff leaving, afternoon tea, French breakfast, end of year barbecue and leavings parties...Not to add work experience, exams and looking after my amazing girls (well done Blue am very proud of you!!!).
Our fabulous librarian retired just before the end of term and we celebrated in style with a lovely afternoon tea and lots of cakes. We'll miss you Anne!
I couldn't have managed any of the end of term festivities without my two amazing girls helping me. They were absolute stars and I have never made girls doing work experience work SOOOO hard!
The summer is a time for graduations and I had two cakes to make, one a simple one and the other a stacked cake with lots of detail.

Next was a lovely combination of princesses and pirates for a birthday party. It was fun to do (apart from delivery) and all I can say is "Thank goodness for my amazing and patient dad" (whose car ended up covered in glitter I am sure!)
I was a little stressed to say the least and dad saved the day - again!
Lots more cupcakes for a 50th birthday in pink and purple delivered to the Clarendon and then an elegant birthday cake for a dear friend and colleague. She is a star!

So near to the end of term... I seemed to get busier and busier and my home was still covered in sparkly glitter and so was my car, my classroom and my office and anywhere else I went...
The wedding cake for Laura was very delicate, very ivory and pink and VERY sparkly. It was a cake for a princess and Laura looked like a princess. She was beautiful!
All of the roses were made from sugarpaste and took hours of rolling, curling, veining, glueing and glittering...
It was labour of love and original...

 The top two tiers had to be assembled at the venue and I just hoped that all of the roses stayed in place all afternoon and evening. Three more wedding cakes to go....

James' cake was an open laptop with YouTube on the screen...lots of detail and fiddly bits and the cake was chocolate fudge cake so very gooey inside. It was fun making all the icons and lettering and yet again dad came to the rescue with a custom-made cake stand (he is so clever!).

I had to call on dad again for another cake stand as the next cake was giving me a bit of grief to start with. I knew what I had to make but wasn't sure how to make it sturdy, steady and able to be transported safely for hours in a car. It also required lots of research as I am probably the least musical person about other than singing very badly in the car (when I have a voice!) and I know nothing about grand pianos!!!
The last one I made was when I was 18 years old and I am sure it wasn't as detailed.
Still I managed it - just and loved the result! If you are a pianist, don't look too closely at the inside workings!!!
I wanted it to be fab as Clifford and Phyllis were celebrating a very special birthday. When I got home today there was beautiful thank you card from them so it was all worth the effort and worry that I had the right amount of keys on the piano (I had to look up how many black and white ones but am now ready for any quiz with that question!).

I was looking forward to my holiday and thanks to the amazing staff at work it would be even more special, but still lots to do. After a few days at work trying to clear out and clear up I had to make 120 cupcakes and a giant cupcake for an 18th birthday in fuschia pink. It was a vision in pink!
Luckily my nieces managed to get a cake too!
The cakes look a bit purply but they were all pink!
More cupcakes for a birthday but this time in cream and black and stupidly I forgot to take a photo. A shame as they were quite elegant all on the stand with black ribbons (note to self - take photos before they are delivered!!!!!)

Lucas' christening was a lovely event and made even lovelier by the fact that the top tier of the cake was in fact his parents' top tier of the wedding cake which I had decorated too. I made cookies too and gift-wrapped them for the children at the christening. Lucas was a star and so gorgeous in his little outfit!
The whole family are so lovely!
Three more cakes and models for a wedding cake (forgot to take a photo again!) and countdown to holibobs!!!
A wonderful evening out with Sue and cocktails and a delicious meal in a five star hotel, lunch with my nieces and sister-in-law, lunch with a dear friend and a day with my sister and the ever-so-cute twins and then I was beginning panic about getting everything done before leaving. If only there were eight days in a week when it's the holidays!!!

A birthday cake for a friend's husband who loves golf, is very involved with the church and also with amateur dramatics and who also nearly always plays the Dame in pantos gave me lots of ideas....
I don't know what I would do if I saw a Dame on a golf course, I wouldn't be able to stop giggling!
Two to go...
A welcome cake for a family with lots of international ties...England, Pakistan, USA and Brazil made me think about hanging out the bunting and celebrating so that's what I did. Asif designed the cake top so I followed his design as closely as I could. Another lovely family...
One more and yet again I didn't take a photo. Not surprising really as I was still decorating as I was trying to pack and make sure I had the factor 15 and my passport ready..
Thank goodness for Sue who collected the cake and took it to the 50th birthday party as I was just getting on the plane...
So a bit of a manic time, serves me right really but saying "no" was never one of my strengths!!!

So it's the end of August and school is just round the corner again...
I have a feeling that September and October are going to be interesting but I am ready (ha ha not really as am still in holiday mode!!!!)
Think I will blow out the candles now as the whole place smells of pomegranate noir and its delicious...
Have missed my friends at work and am looking forward to seeing them again whilst secretly still wishing I was still eating paella and drinking sangria with my very own "Rick Stein"  xx

Sunday, 10 July 2011

What happened to June??? July and the summer holidays are on their way!!!!

Come on Hamilton!!!!
Just watching the British Grand Prix and keeping my fingers crossed for the British guys!
As my other half is there marshalling and my dad is spectating I am making the most of a quiet day - my first since May!!!
Yes I missed June's blog - I'm not even sure where June went but I'm sorry I didn't get round to it. A double dose of cakes now so there will be sooooo many photos!
I had a lie-in today until 7.45 - total bliss and then wasn't quite sure what to do!
Yesterday was completely manic - cupcakes and cookies, a year 6 barbecue and three hours of face painting!
It was fun but exhausting. I have never painted so many hearts and flowers on faces, arms and feet!
The cakes and cookies sold within half an hour and made some more money for our charity which was fab.
So back to the end of May...
Back at school now and my time seems to have completely gone. Still not much voice and there are days when I struggle like mad but I have a fabulous colleague Nabs, without whom I wouldn't have been able to go back - he has been an absolute star and is simple amazing!
Thank you so much Nabs!!!!
I had missed teaching and was so glad to go back - even to my delightful year 9s!!
Cakes took a bit of a back seat and then suddenly every evening and weekend was filled with baking and decorating.
Holy Communions were popular in May and June and the first two were for the same day.
Lots of white and silver and very elegant cakes.
I then had a lovely e-mail from a lady in Scotland asking for help with sugarpaste models. I have had lots of enquiries about the models, especially the children's ones, "In the night garden" and "Octonauts" and have been asked to send them as far away as Australia but I have always been a little nervous about our postal system!
What if they leave here ok but arrive in bits?
How disappointed would people be if they were expecting them and then it was a disaster???
Well I decided I would try and help and then experiment with packaging them up well and sending them - so thank you Yolanda, it worked!
I have sent four figures so far (although forgot to take a picture of the swimmer!) and they have all arrived in one piece -phew!

How cute are they? I love the little scottish man in his kilt!!!

For Sam's birthday I thought she deserved cupcakes with big cerise pink gerberas. very bright, very stylish and perfect for her birthday. We had a fabulous meal in a beautiful pub just outside of Seaford.

I couldn't believe that little Charlie was about to be 1 as well - where has this year gone?
Sarah asked for a cute blue and white themed cake with a rabbit and blocks. I hope the party went well!

 Next was a VERY chocolately cake for Angela's Dino. A rich chocolate sponge with chocolate fudge filling and covering, then a thin layer of sugerpaste. A chocolate lover's dream!
I had to make Dino look realistic and he loves football and is moroccan so hopefully it was perfect.

Then came a strange request from Lou. Her uncle's birthday and lots of detail: sitting in an armchair, barefeet, fake tan,  white teeth showing, Jameson whisky, i-pod with ear phones, tv remote, broadsheet newspaper, burnt slices of toast and crumbs all around!!!
Sometimes it's good to know exactly what people want. Then I don't have to think too much and come up with ideas!!!!
Apparently it was a good likeness!

Then came a bit of a challenge - a Mickey Mouse cake. Not just Mickey on the cake, an edible Mickey next to the cake. I researched the picture that they had sent me and it was from a company that charged £298 for this cake. If only I charged that - I could become a part-time teacher!
Never mind, it was certainly a challenge. It was all going well until delivery and as Mickey was so big he was a bit wobbly. I had to deliver him to Romford so with Ian's careful driving we got ther ok. The only thing was that someone else was driving the cake to the party!
When I left it it was fine and I hope it stayed that way!!!!!

Next a pink and green sparkly Tinkerbell cake for a 6th birthday. It was similar to one I had made for my gorgeous niece so it was easy to do. Delivering was another thing!
There is nowhere to park in Shoreditch and I drove through parts of east London I have never been to before. I think I went round the block three times until I found a side road to pull into.
I think I will give up delivering!
I love driving but driving so carefully with cakes in the car is nerve-wracking!!!
I need a delivery man!

Sue has been a brilliant friend and now a fabulous neighbour. She is my wii partner (Bring on "Dance on Broadway!""") and my ww buddy and believe me I need help doing that!!
For her birthday I thought I would surprise her with a mini chocolate cake.

Half-term I had a lovely day out in Whitstable for Lulu's birthday and took her down a box of sparkly cupcakes as a surprise.
 June saw the start of the wedding season. The first cake was for Zoe and she wanted an elegant ivory rose cake. I love this cake although after piping over 1000 dots my eyes start to go funny. I think this style (which I originally did for Belinda) has to be one of my favourites.

Very elegant and Zoe you looked amazing!
Lucia had her Holy communion too and she had the most beautiful dress and shoes to wear.

A cheeky 21st cake for Shane (who loves a drink or two!) and cupcakes for Jeff's birthday were the next two orders. That weekend was busy but Sue and I managed to have a super Sunday (as the boys were both away!) and lunch at Chapter one in Farnborough - delicious!!!
Perhaps the boys should go away on holiday more often????

Shane stayed surprisingly sober on his birthday (or maybe he was good at covering up!) but with both boys back we all had a good old boogie at the disco!!!
Our amazing librarian at school celebrated her 60th and is retiring at the end of the term. She is such a wonderful lady, an amazing librarian and a kind friend. She will really be missed at work!
It's a shame the boroughs don't recognise what a brilliant job trained and experienced librarians do. When I was growing up the library was a great place for the books, the exhibitions, the clubs in the summer and a good place to learn so many things. What a shame they are all disappearing!
Anyway Anne you are amazing and I will miss you lots and lots!!

So then came my disastrous day - making a Ruby Wedding Anniversary cake. It shouldn't have been a disaster but as usual I was trying to do too much in one day!
The cake was almost finished - roses make in advance and lettering done. just the piping to do. A quick trip to the church fete and a surprise vist from my sister and the twins was awesome but meant that when I got home I didn't have much time to clear up. I should have known then that things would go wrong...
How I hate red food colouring, particularly cochineal which I use for the red velvet cakes. NORMALLY the food colouring go in the cupboard below the work tops but in my haste I put them in the cupboard above the worktop, above the cake...
Well in just a few seconds my kitchen looked like there had been a blood bath...
Cochineal everywhere...the box landed on the roses and smashed them and well the rest is history...
After a stressful cake stripping and a few tears (and locking myself in the bathroom to cool down!) I re-did the cake and delivered it five minutes late!

That is the quickest I have re-covered, iced and decorated a cake in my life!
Thanks to Ian for helping me clear up too. You were brilliant!
I needed a lie-down after that!
Baby showers - I love them. it's exciting to celebrate the soon-to-be arrival of a little one (or two in my sister's case!) and the cakes are so cute!
Two this week - Nadine's friend and Lydia's. Very different but equally as cute!

The theme for Lydia's was "Three Little Ducks..." and Kelly did an amazing job in decorating the house and designing all the games and activities. It was the hottest day of the year and the paddling pool in the garden with the rubber ducks in was just too inviting... 
Nearly at the end of June - sorry I should do this more often!
I started to take up running with Jo - I need to get fit and healthy so I have more energy to fit everything in!
It's hard but we are getting there - I don't quite look like Cameron Diaz yet but give it a decade or so!
The 1st was also our music night at school to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis. Sam, Mo and Kim did a fabulous job in organising the event and the performers were just simply out of this world. What a great night!!!

Then a rather tall cake to celebrate a bithday and a retirement. I bought a new embosser for making brick prints, wood prints and cobbles. This came in handy for Geoff's cake!
I think Geoff looked pretty cool on top of the building - bless him!

The start of July was pretty busy too with cakes for staff on the first of the month, birthdays and celebrations and leaving do's. Two celebration cakes for lovely girls were in order and were glittery and sparkly. One a Sweet 16th and the other a pink and silver bag and shoe fest.

Induction day for Year 6s and a full week including a two hour lesson for my year 10s making French macaroons (brilliant girls! Some of them were amazing!!!) just about wiped me out but the leaving do for Anne was lovely and it was great seeing so many faces from school, past and present.
Two to go... A 60th birthday for Cara's mum had me drawing and painting playing cards with food colouring and a mortar board/scroll/stethoscope for a lady at mum's church kept me busy right up to the weekend!

So it has been a busy time and there are plenty of cakes still to do!
Only two weeks left - thank goodness - my voice needs a holiday and maybe it will come back - fingers crossed!!!
A few events this week; a staff afternoon tea, Bastille day celebrations, achievement assembly, 50th for Nathalie and a staff barbecue. my kitchen is going to be so busy!!!
Maybe I will win the lottery and buy a huge kitchen with £166 million!
Fingers crossed!!!!!!!