Monday, 28 February 2011

Sorry I'm so rubbish but can I distract you with these??

Cake POPs!

My lovely neighbour and friend, June, left me this magazine article in our postbox about cake POPS - and they are just so cute! There's massive potential for customisation and they'd be awesome for dinner parties and kids parties alike! The only problem is the amount of fridge space needed to make any kind of quantity of them so if I give them a try I will be comandeering my mums kitchen and fridge again like when I make cakes for those folks who specially want one of my creations ( I don't do cakes for customers onboard Zulu as the cats try and help and Joseph and the teenager try and get the bowl before I've finished with the cake can imagine it, can't you?)

Anyways, did I distract you from my shocking lack of posts for the last few days? The old allergy think has wreaked havoc with my energy levels and voice and I just haven't been able to think of anything happy to write and you guys don't need to hear me whinge. But before a really big flare up last night I managed to do some new cards - inspired mostly by the kind words of a customer who's boyfriend really genuinly loved the card she got for him from my folksy shop, the little floating craft co of course, and off I went!

I have some gorgeous Cath Kidston fabrics I really want to play with as well as some kind of gothy prints on a beige moleskin fabric. They'll look way better than they sound, I promise!

So we had a very quiet weekend at home - making the most of the sun when it was out (despite my husbands sudden driving need to clean the windows) and even had a very quiet drink at the pub, talking about the great boxers from history... His topic not mine, but really interesting nevertheless!
We were going to plant the teenagers purple carrot seeds but the rain came back and frightened us off. This is her very first expression of interest for actually doing something that doesn't involve facebook so we're going to embrace it wholeheartedly! Watch this space! ;o)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Still upright!

Well I've made it to lunchtime and although no one can understand a word I'm saying I haven't passed out so it's all good! :o)
My lovely husband kept an eye on me at the quiz last night and he didn't think I was entirely "present" although I did actually answer a couple of questions! We managed to come second from last and were rather disappointed to have narrowly missed out on the booby prize by just two tiny points. Humph.
I was told that I sounded like "one of those special needs people" as when I have a reaction my throat kind of closes up as my tongue swells and I sound very gravelly and have trouble pronouncing things. As I'm on my own in the office this morning it's making it really interesting when I get a call!

Still, I'm hoping I manage to stay out of hospital at least til around 10pm as my awesome hairdresser, Jodie, is coming over to sort out my abandoned-sheep-dog look. I'm starting to think all the anti allergy drugs have some kind of hair-growth side effect (luckily not facial hair etc!) as it's growing like mad! Praps they should market it to that effect? Bonus funding and all that...!lol! I've cancelled dinner with an old school friend for tomorrow night that I was really looking forward to as there is just no chance I'm going to be 1) moving around 2) not projectile vomiting (hope you're not eating while reading this!) 2) capable of congnitive speech. Great. C'est la vie, right?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Taj Mahal is made of poo...

So tonight is our local (it's right next door to the marina) pubs monthly quiz night. Some friends from our old marina are coming out to play and it sounds like it should be a good night. I'm hoping that my allergy issues aren't going to have me projectile vomiting across our table over my team mates but they have been justly warned that this is a possiblity.
We do like a good quiz night but I tend to be there more in a supervisory capacity, mostly as the one that writes things down because, truth be told, I know NOTHING. Honestly.If you tested me on general knowledge I'd fail absolutely. Unless of course it was a very specific general knowledge test with questions about lets say, Indian Embroidery techniques (particularly shishadur) or perhaps the required internal structure for building a four tier wedding cake, or maybe how best to achieve a mottled effect when silk painting. Alas, these kind of questions just never seem to come up. I think the quiz writers must have very narrow and dull lives. It's all geography and politics. Yuck. Bugger that. Occassionally I get a good question about music and I can answer it but normally I just write my teams answers down, nice and neat.

A few years ago when the kids came to stay during one hot and balmy summer holiday we'd noticed that there was a pub quiz on at a family friendly pub in Cambridge so we took them along. The kids seemed to really enjoy it and we were all actually answering questions. Then came one we weren't entirely sure about.

Silence in the room.

"What is the Taj Mahal made of?"




"We did this in History" pipes up teenager 1

Excellent, we think.

"It's made of manure, like they used to make things in the olden days"....

Surprisingly we didn't win that night but we will remember it for ever! :o)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Lots of new likes!

There was a big facebook crafters networking "thing" last night and I'm pleased to say that the page now has over 100 fans! This is great! Just be nice if a couple of these new fans fell madly in love with one of my gorgeous designs and bought something!

I had a busy day in the office today and managed not to be too ill but I'm feeling a bit crappy now. The old allergy thing is being a pig and breathing's hard work but it could always be worse right?

Hoping everyone else is doing well though!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Wicked chocolate biscuit cake

I mentioned the chance of cake and it seemed rude not to have something nice for them indoors but I didn't feel like baking (I'm not ill, just feeling like a change!) so I did wicked chocolate biscuit cake instead. It's devilishly bad for you but dead easy to make!

I normally add a couple of bags of maltesers and a bag of marshmallows but we had a bag of extra-mini-mini-eggs kicking about the pantry so I put them in instead.

If you fancy having a go at these then here's what you need to do:

Get a big bar of chocolate,
Half a block of butter
50g sugar
Large packet of digestives
One tin of condensed milk

Grease a baking tin (either an 8" round or a 6"x12" approx tin) and put to one side.
Throw the digestives into a big bowl and bash them about so you have a mixture of different sized bits. Add your extras now - mini eggs/maltesers/smarties/marshmallows/glace cherries... and mix together.

Put the chocolate, sugar, butter and condensed milk in a saucepan and melt together slowly over a low heat.

Leave this to cool for a few minutes.

Pour over your dry ingrediants and mix together. It will probably look as though there isn't enough chocolate goo to cover it all, but there is - trust me!
Once it's all mixed up, put into your tin, spread out evenly and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

After that time (if you can leave it that long) take it out of the fridge. Cut it into little squares about an inch square or into little bars. Get a little bowl of icing sugar and as you take the bars/blocks out of the tin roll them in the icing sugar. Or cut into wedges and just dust the top!

This stuff (given the chance) will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Its great for school fetes! You can wrap in food safe cellophane bags (try ebay or lakeland) and tie with a bit of ribbon. Kids might enjoy making tags for them!

Everything must be straight or else the world will EXPLODE*

* Those who do not believe in the law of Straightness will not be saved!

This is the motto on my pencil case, bought for me by my old next door neighbour, Sarah, just after we moved onboard our first boat, mohawk (pictured below at our friends boat yard in Ely).

To say I was the teeniest bit uptight about tidyness was a world engulfing understatement but I've eased up lots. Living on a boat with animals and Mr W was a real education. There's a thin line between having to accept that it's never going to stay pristine and keeping a small space neat so you don't feel like the world is closing in on you and I found it tough at first. Luckily for Mr W I'm now probably a little too relaxed. As long as the kitchen is clean and it's tidy most of the time I don't worry about it. However, the teenagers boat looks like the world ended and the last bomb hit just THERE. What was a beautifully designed little liveaboard boat when she got it is just a disgusting pit now.
So she's a teenager, c'est la vie, right? No. Definately not. If you saw it you'd understand! So, guess what the teenager is doing today? Without her laptop or phone? Aren't I mean??

So while teenager sorts out her boat, I've done dishes, cleaned kitchen, hung washing, dusted lounge, and it took a staggering hour so now I can sit about and talk to you good folk before I play crafty stuff! Yay for being uptight and anal retentive! :o) So here I sit, with cup of tea number 2 (there MUST be two for the day to start right...) in my favourite mug for Sunday mornings; the chunky pink one with the polka dots, gazing at my pencil case of straightness, pondering what wavy brain pattern will announce itself this afternoon!

Hope you have a great Sunday - there might be cake later which will help our day along! :o)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Starting the day with tea and scones

I woke to the sound of pouring rain this morning but when you live on a boat it actually sounds really nice! You're toasty warm, all snuggled and it feels a bit like you're on the ark and everyone else is buggered cept you! We get a little bit smug in the rain...!

To be honest, we're kinda smug about our way of life pretty much all the time. We are surrounded by beautiful scenery, and if we want, on a Friday when we finish work (we both have demanding full time jobs) we come home and fire up the engine, release the ropes and disappear off the grid until it's time to head back and get ready for work the next morning.

A lot of boaters seem to be almost magnetically drawn towards pubs when they take their boats out but we prefer to go to the middle of nowhere so we can enjoy the peace and quiet. The best moorings have nothing and noone but cows for company!

If the weathers not so good we light the fire instead of having the heating on, we don't bother putting the satellite up - we put some soup or stew in the oven and just read. It's really relaxing and therapeautic.

On hot days (actually, even tepid will do!) we're straight outside. If we're not cruising along the river then we're on the riverbank watching the other boats go by. We barbeque on the bank, and spend a lot of time laughing!

Days out are always a bit of a busmans holiday really as we don't like to be away from the water for long. We go to Northampton where there are fantastic marinas and canals with floating cafes and lovely walks to take, or we go to Little Venice in London. You can walk the tow path between Little Venice and Camden Town (our other favourite place to hang out!) Half way between the two there's a tiny marina but it's perfectly formed! With narrow but neat gettys all the moorings are tightly packed but it loooks beautiful. Boating communities are really friendly - there are normally very practical people working in demanding jobs like us - you get a lot of nurses living on boats, and there's normally a welder, a builder, an office worker.... whatever needs doing theres usually someone with the skills needed!

The photo above is the floating cafe at Little Venice - they do an amazing chicken caesar salad! Om nom!

So this leads me back to my start to the day today.... With Steve out early helping the owner of the marina we live in to crane a very posh dutch barge in, I figured he's going to need something nice when he gets in. He is a bit of a "tea, scones, and rock n roll" kinda boy so I made a batch of fresh scones.

If you fancy a go, this recipe never fails:

You need: 225g self raising flour,25g caster sugar, 50g cold butter, 1 teaspoon baking powder. A bit of milk!

Heat your oven to gas 7, sift flour baking powder and sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add the butter and blend in with your fingertips to a breadcrumb consistency. Add milk very slowly to form a dough. Roll out to about a cm deep on a floured board and use a cutter to cut out small rounds. TIP: don't twist! If you press the cutter straight down and then tap out onto a non stick baking tray it will rise straight up. If you twist it it will contort as it rises!
If you use a small cutter you'll get about 8 mini scones out of this quantity of dough. Sieve a little flour over the top of them before you throw them in the oven for twelve minutes. You can add dried fruit before you add the milk if you want. One big handfull is plenty for this quantity. Dust the top with a little icing sugar and fill with butter/jam/cream! You HAVE to drink tea when you eat scones though, its the law! lol!

Have a good saturday my friends!!

Friday, 18 February 2011

I grew roots!

Latest draft of the family tree tattoo!

I'm late, I'm late...

So you might have noticed that my earlier post today was written yesterday... Sorry it was late! It was a busy busy day!
I managed to get the third draft of my tree tattoo commission done, complete a butterfly tattoo design and still had time to make dinner for myself and the teenager while Mr W was volunteering at the shelter so it was a good evening. I did have a BIT of a hiccup when I found out that Mr W's new office chair brought out an allergic reaction (STRONG smell of glue still present from its time in its box...) but I got over it and carried on drawing!

Tonight will be about the ritual trip to Ely Waterfront for fish and chips as the teenager celebrates half term from sixth form and we celebrate it being the weekend. Hopefully draft number 4 of the tree tattoo will be finished tonight and that will be done and dusted (fingers crossed! Going off trees now...! lol!) and I can start tattoo commission number 3 for the lovely Mrs D. Going to have to get my floral head on! ;o)

Cats and Dogs

With the end of the working week drawing near I feel like it’s kind of gotten away from me a little. I really should have done the final draft of a great tattoo by now but I made Hunters Chicken for tea last night and we had sweetcorn with it and so, instead, I spent the evening having a lovely allergic reaction. I was distracted for a little while by our German Shepherd, Joseph, though who was stood in the middle of the lounge, looking down at something then looking back up at us repeatedly. In the end Mr W got up and had a look and found that Malcolm (our youngest cat, AKA Malcolm the Destroyer) had found a mouse and brought it in to play in the warm with it. Nice.
So tonight, while Mr W is volunteering at the homeless shelter I’ll be drawing. Sorry Mr A! I will finish it, I promise! No sweetcorn and hopefully no mice tonight!
Other fun projects on the horizon include another tattoo design (did one on the hop yesterday lunchtime that I love!) and a couple more custom cards.
I think I might have a play with some sturdy meals for the family this weekend though… Beef stew with real dumplings should be good for some after-rugby building up-ness and the teenager can’t get enough dumplings (just you wait… one day you’ll be issued your ass young lady!) and then roast beef with all the trimmings on Sunday. It makes me laugh how people are afraid of cooking roast dinners – they’re one of the easiest things on earth to cook! Mind you, Mr W is now the omelette expert so he might argue the case for them instead….

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dinner for Mr W

With it being Valentines Day yesterday a special dinner for Mr W was in order. His absolute favourite is roasted salmon steaks with a crispy parmesan topping served with dauphinoise potatoes. Luckily for him I detest salmon so he gets a double serving of that while I have cod or haddock. The teenager announced a last minute double date for the evening so there was even more to go around than anticipated so he was a happy boy!

The only fly in our ointment was when I got home and began cooking, hoping to have everything ready for Mr W's return from delivering our teenager to said date, I found that the gas bottle was empty and there was nothing I could do but wait. Ok, so that's not completely true; I had a lovely time hanging the washing I put on before work.... yay....

Dinner was eventually served around 7.30pm and it went down well. If you fancy having a go at the topping it's dead easy! Just turn one slice of white bread into crumbs, mix with a dessert spoon of grated parmasan, and half a teaspoon of whole grain mustard. Rub together and sprinkle liberally over your fish, drizzle with oil, and bake at gas 7 for 20 minutes. Job done! I would have taken a photo but it didn't hang around long enough... Sorry!

Hope you all had a gorgeous day and are left feeling proper fluffy today!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pineapple wreaks havoc

As I was making a birthday cake yesterday our resident teenager and my husband announced that it was about time they had cake (they had been without cake since Tuesday after all...) but they didn't want any of these namby pamby pretty cakes with frilly nonsense. They wanted cake with presence. They wanted pineapple upside down cake. Unfortunately our new oven is absolutely awesome for cooking meat but absolutely awful for cooking cakes. When I bake cakes for clients I do them at my fabulous moms house so there are no animals loitering to infect said cakes with paw prints or fur. So instead of the twenty minutes it SHOULD take to cook this cake, it took almost thirty five. Of course I couldn't just leave it so approximately every four minutes or so I had to go check the damn thing!
Still, it turned out good and already husband and teenager have disposed of most of it (saves me from eating all that syrupy goodness!).

With the cake out of the way I got on with another draft of a tattoo design that's been bugging me. I've now got all the elements in but something about it isnt quite right and it seems beyond me to either find or change it in such a way that I'm happy with it. I think I may have to admit defeat on this one unfortunately...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

oi! pinhead!!

So I made the Mr Tumble cake this morning and it was really good fun! A sturdy dark chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream, topped with lots of fondant sculpting!
The main figure went together really well but I just didn't dare put a big enough head on Mr Tumble for fear he really would take a tumble in the car on his way to his new home. He still looked good fun though, and I was pretty happy with the cake overall! Just hope it tastes good!! Happy birthday Petie!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Mr Tumble is god!

I've been researching for a cake I'm doing this weekend for a very cool little man's second birthday. He HAS to have Mr Tumble. NOT having Mr Tumble is NOT an option. OK. As I'm 35 and don't have any ickle stompy people myself I wasn't aware either of WHO Mr Tumble was, or of his enormous social standing. Mr Tumble is a god! He is worshipped by ickle stompies far and indeed wide. Did YOU know?? I feel quite left out now that I'd been totally bypassed by this genius with stripy trousers and red nose. Having watched some clips on cbeebies I now know how to paint flowers without a brush though so the research has been well worth the while! All jokes aside, the kids do really seem to love this guy and he is raising awareness for sign language as well which is pretty awesome.

Even now I'm not one hundred percent sure what exactly I'm going to do for this cake but this is so often the way... Once I start molding the fondant inspiration hits like a lightening bolt and it all falls into place nicely.

I'll post pictures tomorrow, so check back if you want to see!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Amazing what watching Labrynth can do!

So with a girls night in last night (Husband was volunteering at the homeless shelter so teenager and I were left to our own devices) and me feeling very sick (as usual) I needed to sit very still, so we put the dvd of Labrynth on and I crafted to while away the hours.
It was great! I love that movie! It took my mind off my woes and inspired a few gorgeous cards...

These are for sale at if you like the look of them!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Everyone wants a tattoo!

It's really strange - since I started my shop, the little floating craft co, all of a sudden everyone wants a tattoo design?!
This is something I used to do a fair bit of but it makes me really nervous. It's a huge deal to produce something that a person loves so much that they want to commit to keeping it for as long as they live... I'm feeling the pressure a little but I'm really touched that these lovely folks are confident that I might be able to achieve that kind of thing for them. We're on draft 2 of John's tattoo now (I'm not showing you pictures yet!) and I have a much better idea of what he's after now which should help!

At this point though I'm needing to focus more on a cake I'm booked to do this weekend for a special young man's 2nd birthday. Mr Tumble is what is called for, and Mr Tumble is what he shall have! I'm trying to decide what style is going to have the most impact now though... hmm..... Oh well...

And on top of that, our wonderful friends had their baby! CONGRATULATIONS GUYS!! I can't wait to see photos and I really need to make a special card but my illness (I'm sort of kinda allergic to myself... ) is bossing me about this week and I just can't do anything that involves moving more than my fingers tonight. Fingers crossed it back off a bit for the weekend so I can give this cake all I've got!

So tomorrow is humpday! Is it just me or is this week going really slowly?

Anyways, roast pork dinner is done and dusted and now I'm watching Planet 51 for some intellectual inspiration ;o) G'nite folks!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

He just might hate it!

So I promised I'd have a bash at designing a tattoo for the husband of a lovely lady I know. I know very little about him but had a little paragraph from her with a idea of what he's like - no clue about style or use of colour etc but I formed a picture in my head almost immediately. This idea was a family tree, formed with their family name and the names of the couple themselves and their two boys. The roots of the tree would of course be mum and dad. I couldn't get the dog in there the way she mentioned as however I tried it, it just looked hoki and out of place. I hope Bruno (The cutest labradoodle ever) can forgive me.

So now I have to sit back and wait for a reaction. I will not be surprised if they don't like it as it's my take on the idea, not theirs. They might like brightly coloured retro tattoos and this one is black and white. Still, it would work with colour, without the border, with the foliage expanded...

I wish I could be patient without being in hospital... :o(

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Loving the worm!

So the buns came out pretty good, I think! I decided on really light lemon ones with fresh zest, and soaked in home made lemon syrup to keep them really moist. Topped off with lemon buttercream before arranging all the flowers and things I made last night. This included the cutest bookworm ever! I made these at home as they were for family (cakes for customers get made at mums animal-free-home) and unfortunately Malcolm (kitty no.2) decided that I needed supervising. He stayed at a safe distance though so I didn't feel it necessary to kick him out - until I made the mistake of putting a rose petal down for a moment to get some more lustre dust out and I saw this small black paw come out of nowere and swipe it! Malcolm was unceremoniously thrown out of the boat (land side not water side - I wasn't THAT cross!) before binning the afore mentioned petal and starting that one off again...

Once the buns were packed up I embosed and distressed a gift tag and added some pearls to finish it all off with a bit of glamour!
Hopefully these will go down well with my fab inlaws!!

Friday, 4 February 2011

WHY didn't I make those cake toppers last night?

So, it's Friday. I have my wonderful in-laws (yes, I really do love them!) coming tomorrow so we can celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary and cakes will be expected.  I have many plans of what I want to top them with and I'm confident they'll look great and will make the new owners happy bunnies, however, I haven't actually made them yet and the boat will be full of teenagers tonight as the resident teenager is to be joined by her wonderful older brother!
So, I shall be cooking dinner and then watching England play rugby whilst fashioning flowers, books, bookworms, and welly boots from fondant.  Serves me right really. I got totally distracted by a request for a "new baby boy" card in a similar design to a card already in my little shop and totally changed my plans of what I was supposed to create last night! DOH!

This was the result anyways, and I'm pleased to say that the lady in question liked it and bought it immediately! Thanks Claire!!

So think of me while you're relaxing tonight... Happy Friday people!