Addy’s Rock of Ages 21st

26 04 2012

Morning blog readers!

And how are we all this morning? Hmmm??

I have a substantial headache, but other than that, I suppose I cannot complain. Tomorrow is a public holiday here in South Africa, as is next Tuesday (we’re probably one of the countries with the most public holidays – it’s ridiculous). So, if you take into account that I’ve put in leave for Monday, I’ll be having a 5-day weekend! 😀

I’ve taken on some freelance work and will be working over the long weekend, but (1) at least it’ll help me in the experience department, and (2) it’s extra money in my pocket, which is always nice.

We had my sister’s 21st birthday party last Saturday. Theme: Rock of Ages. Dress code: 50s to 80s attire. With that taken into account, I thought it only fitting to bake some rainbow cupcakes for the 60s/70s. I nearly ‘lost it’ when the birthday cake came out too moist (hate hate hate our oven!), and it made crumbs that got stuck in the icing, and I couldn’t get it to look a bit more professional… yet, overall, I think it turned out pretty well. I’ll share some photos below:

Addy's 21st birthday cake! I even made the 'd' in her name look like a musical note

Here's the origami piano I made 🙂

Thought the edible guitars would add a nice rockin' touch. Note: they're store-bought

Detail on cake: hearts & black 'beading'

Cupcake toppers...

...plus rainbow cupcakes...

...equals pretty (awesome) treats!!!

Some of the (80s) decorations in the hall

Feelin' the 50s/60s vibe with this sweet ride

For the birthday girl, who's a music student

This was placed in the foyer

And finally, here she is: the birthday girl! ❤

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So I turned 25…

10 04 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter filled with love, laughter, happiness… and chocolate… or whatever 😉

Our weekend started off with a near-literal bang. My Significant Other’s car gave problems on Thursday, thus necessitating that (a) he take it in to be looked at, and (b) I work from home. Not the worst thing to happen… although we then found out they’d be ordering the new parts for his car after Easter weekend, and that the parts would only arrive on Thursday *huff*

But despite being carless for two days, a bit of family ‘drama’, borrowing my brother-in-law’s noisy little Golf from Saturday to Monday (and much, much more!), we managed to have a great weekend.

When it was just after midnight and ‘officially’ my birthday, Smudgy woke me up about 6 or 8 times. I think she was grumpy/frustrated that it was cold and wet outside and she didn’t know what to do about it since she obviously really wanted to be outside, but I’d like to think that she was being affectionate and excited about my birthday.

Here’s a basic rundown of my day: lemon & poppyseed muffin (sans candles, since my Significant Other couldn’t find any) plus a warm mug of tea in bed; a visit from my parentals and younger sister Addy, with gifts and a suprise; tea, cupcakes and gift opening; lunch at Ocean basket with my Significant Other, parentals and sis; curling up on the sofa under a blanket with my Significant Other and watching series; dinner at the Hildebrand (V&A Waterfront) – so fancy and romantic 😉

Exquisite orange roses from my Sweetheart

Lindt chocolate bunny! This little guy has been in the kitchen cupboard for a few weeks already

Pretty little forks to aid in the cosumption of treats

Smudgy was trying to escape/go outside when I snatched her up for a photo with her mommy

Addy baked birthday cupcakes! I had to assemble the stand myself - it was part of the 'fun'

Addy & the parentals baked me a super awesome Scooby-Doo birthday cake! 😀

All my gifts assembled on the livingroom table

Sushi for two: my Significant Other and I decided to share a Rising Sun sushi platter and added extra salmon roses & rainbow rolls. Mmm, sushi...

Such a happy couple! Ready to head out for dinner

Here Smudgy's more accepting of having her picture taken. She even struck a pose for the camera! Isn't she just the loveliest little thing?

Taking a nap on daddy's jeans after we arrived home ❤

PS: Did I mention that we went to watch THE HUNGER GAMES last night??! *happy dance*





Busy times

25 11 2011

Good morning you happy little campers you!

It’s hard to believe that it’s Fried-day again… and in one month’s time, it’ll be Christmas! 😀

Things are pretty busy here at work, and up until the end of February/ beginning of March, their only going to get exponentially busier! It’s exciting to see a book through from the planning stage right until the end, but the deadline we’re working with is crazy (nature of the industry). On the plus side, it’s allowing me to build on my efficiency and prove to the company what an asset I am *hint-hint* Still, after long days and weeks of juggling 20 different things and having to put up with the Department of Education’s undecidedness, it’s enough to spur on the madness (I was going to say it’ll drive you mad, but we’re all mad here). You know there’s no hope for you when you send your line manager an e-mail saying “We should all put on our thinking CAPS (yes, pun intended) about this”… CAPS being the new curriculum document that is in a limbo state of Final-final-final-final-final (but not actually yet final) version *sigh*

Ah, Business Cat, I know how you feel...

Today, for your viewing pleasure, I’ll be sharing a few pictures of what has been keeping me busy/ amusing me during the last two weeks. My Significant Other has already tried to outright bribe me into letting us test drive a car (that he isn’t going to buy, according to him) tomorrow morning. I told him that he doesn’t need to bribe me, that we’re in a partnership… but perhaps I should let him sweat a bit. He’ll have to find something pretty darn good to coax me with 😉

Have a superb day and gloooorious weekend, dearest readers! I’ve already been commissioned to bake cookies & cake for our Monday meeting (i.e. work), so that’s a bit of ‘fun’ lined up for my Sunday.

This is a picture from one of our Foundation Phase (i.e. Gr 1 - 3) books. My Significant Other always says he wants a fat cat, which is why I couldn't resist sharing this picture with him

From an illustrated school dictionary. My S.O. complains that he's (getting) fat, which is why this pic's so funny to me. Here's hoping he doesn't become so rotund & 'grumpy'... Oh, wait, too late for the 'grumpies'!!

The new Stephen King novel (aaaah!!) - had to wait nearly a week before it was available in SA, but it was worth it

Look how happy I am! Long live Stephen King ❤

We went to visit my S.O.'s uncle & aunt, where we met their new kitty, La Scala. Cutie!

After weeks of sitting with a computer that would spontaneously freeze & switch off, they FINALLY got me a new one: box, screen, keyboard & mouse... The screen is bigger, plus it has Windows7 on. Nice

In times of stress, keep calm & eat a cupcake! I baked these myself

Dinosaur cake for my brother-in-law's birthday... & no, its name is NOT Barney

Smudgy and I have been having nice cuddly times/ moments of affection this week. Fills my heart with joy & love ❤

I've been watching a LOT of Nyan Cat videos on YouTube this week - sad, I know... Need to get myself this scarf!





On the (interesting) subject of cupcakes

13 09 2011

After I posted the pictures of the rainbow cupcakes on my blog last week, I started pondering: where does the cupcake’s origin lie? Are there any interesting facts about it? When/ where do you serve cupcakes? I’ve probably put more thought into a simple cupcake than most people would give it (other than the obvious fact that it’s ‘pretty’ or ‘tasty’).

So, by doing a little bit of research, I learnt that no one is actually clear about the origin of the treat (its unknown status perhaps adding to its appeal?), but that recipes for the small cake have been in print since the late 18th/ early 19th century. Two hundred years of dainty delights! [NOTE: the Americans claim that they contributed the cupcake to the world of confectionary. Why am I not surprised…] I can just see the women in London during the Season, all a flutter at the treat– fanning their faces, sipping their tea, and remarking on how clever and light these small cakes were:

“How ingenious, my dear Miss Standish, for it could fit in my very teacup!”

“Quite so, Mrs Blake. Indeed they are so pretty to look at, and so small, it might break one’s heart to take a bite.”

“But they are so light and delicate, you see, that they will suit my constitution well – my strength is quite depleted after our journey from Bath, so much that I find myself faint without sustenance.”

“Have another, Mrs Blake, for the bit of sweetness does seem to have brought some rosiness back to your countenance. It would be a shame for you to miss the Duke’s ball tonight.”

“Why thank you, dear child. It would not do for us to be absent… I must ask Mrs Dentley for the recipe of this delightful treat! Indeed, it will be the talk of the ton – I would not be surprised if the Prince Regent himself shows up tonight to compliment her on her excellent taste.”

Okay, I might have gotten a  bit carried away and really stupid, but at least be glad that I didn’t spin a Banbury Tale and have them talking about fairies and mini tea parties *laugh*

What makes a cupcake such a delightful little thing? For one, it usually isn’t very sweet, unless you count the icing (aka frosting) it’s decorated with. One reason why cupcakes might seem and taste ‘plain’ against other confectionary is because the first cakes were more bread-like, i.e. not (very) sweet. [If you think about it, the original dividing line between (cup)cakes and bread is fairly thin, since they use pretty much the same ingredients.] Very basic ingredients – such as butter, eggs, flour – were used, and they only sweetened the cakes up a bit afterwards with honey, nuts and (later) dried fruit.

Oh, and of course they were named ‘cupcakes’ because they were baked in pottery cups, moulds and small bowls. But you probably deduced as much, didn’t you? What you likely didn’t know is that there’s another reason why they were called cupcakes or 1-2-3-4: because the recipe called for cupsful of the ingredients – a cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs… cups, cups, my kingdom for some cups!

Since a plain cupcake isn’t too sweet, it’s a great treat for people who don’t have a sweet tooth or who might get headaches due to the richness of some cakes. Rich chocolate cake + layers of sticky sweet mousse icing in between + decadently dark gateaux on top = worst. migraine. EVER.

Cupcakes work well for birthday parties, where mom can put a small amount of icing on top, thus reducing the little tykes’ sugar intake (which usually results in a high) and making her job of quieting them down much easier. Cupcakes feature at a kitchen tea/ tea party (where half the fun is ‘ooh’-ing and ‘aah’-ing over the various bite sized nibbles that have been prepared… the other half in eating them); Stork Parties (little treats celebrating the little bundle of joy about to arrive, perhaps signifying how plain and vulnerable it may seem, but what a delight such a sweet little thing can bring); and any other occasion that you can think of.

They are also popular at weddings! Cupcakes are small enough to satisfy everyone, plus the ‘packaging’ allows guests to take them home – it’s not like you need a plastic container to put them in, like a piece of cake, since cupcakes usually come in their own shiny/ aluminium/ paper cups. They are less messy than a large cake, what with people cutting it to pieces, getting crumbs all over the place, smearing chocolate/ icing/ mousse/ gateaux on the organza table runners you hired… you get the idea 🙂 It adds a bit of personal touch, showing that you thought of everyone and that you wanted to ensure that each person would get one (which isn’t always the case with cake; sometimes it even seems like such a bother to hang around waiting for a small slice…)

But enough about that. I promised you a few interesting facts, so here they are:

* The World’s Smallest Cupcake was baked in Great Britain and measured in at 1.5 cm (h) x 3 cm (w)!

* The first cupcakes were covered (‘frosted’) with lard to serve as a kind of gravy… *shudder*

* Winston Churchill suggested that cupcakes should have sweet frosting on top (thank you!!!)

* Apparently Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – by John Lennon – is actually about cupcakes. Huh…

* …and H.P. Lovecraft stated that an overdose of cupcakes led to him creating Cthulhu. Sure, locking yourself in a basement and getting high on the sugar from 12 cupcakes results in weird hallucinations of mythical creatures for all of us.

* There are more than 500 different kinds of cupcakes. That’ll keep cupcakes enthusiasts busy.

* There’s a record for someone consuming 29 cupcakes in 30 seconds. (I wouldn’t want to be his stomach.)

* Cupcakes, along with other baked treats, have been banned from schools in NYC in an attempt to decrease the rising rate of obesity. The sad thing, however, is that some of those kids’ parents are irresponsible and then load them up with as much sugar as their little hearts’ desire (without them getting a bit of exercise or a healthy diet).

* Cats lack the gene that permit mammals to taste sweet things… and yet, my cat seems to like cupcakes (along with other sweet treats!) Guess if you present a cat with something to eat and it doesn’t seem ‘dangerous’ or ‘offensive’, it won’t give two meows about whether it can taste it or not… So keep it all to yourself!! *nom nom nom* [Perhaps now people will stop taking and captioning pictures of cats with sweet treats. The only time it would be ‘suitable’ is if you bring in some irony/ sarcasm. Kitty is not impressed by your cute cupcake. Not. At. ALL.]





Wanted: some rest and relaxation

12 09 2011

I think I need a vacation… or a long weekend… or something, at least.

After a crappy day at work on Friday, my overall mood became a bit bleak/ despondent. Work surely played a part, but I just had this ‘off’ feeling in general. It felt like nothing could make me feel better (and my Significant Other didn’t even try).

So what did I do to lift my spirits a bit?

I baked. And I cleaned.

How could you have guessed anything else?

Yesterday morning saw me cleaning both the toilets, the bath, the dishes, my clothes… plus I did a lot of sweeping. And last night, I put on an animated Scooby-Doo movie, got my apron and ingredients ready, then baked (1) a chocolate cake, and (2) green & yellow (‘gold’) cupcakes. I might not like or watch rugby, but since I wanted to bake anyway, I thought I could ‘fake it’ and bring in a bit of team support. While the cupcakes were in the oven, I waited for the cake to cool down so that I could decorate it with caramel and sprinkles.

Nyummy chocolate cake (already has a section gone!) and colourful cupcakes

Oh, and did I mention that I went to take some of the treats to our downstairs neighbours (at 8PM) while still wearing my apron… and my slippers?!

Green and 'gold' 🙂

I’m not sure why cleaning and baking helps me to relax. It’s probably just my obsessive compulsive side. Even though I still think about what’s bothering me – or wonder why the hell I’m feeling so icky, anyway – while I’m busy (it’s not like I can really switch off), cleaning or whisking the sh*t out of something seems soothing *laugh* It’s the same with exercising. I’ve been doing 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer for two weeks now, selecting upbeat tunes for background music to ensure that I get worth out of the exercise, and by the end of it I feel sweaty and thirsty and strangely refreshed.

[Like cleaning and whisking, it comes down to pedalling the sh*t out of my body even though I’m tired after a long day.]

In all seriousness, though, I think I should take a Friday or Monday off and have a long weekend to unwind. Go for those tests at the neurologist. Lie in front of the television playing games until my fingers are numb or watching movies/ episodes until my eyes can’t take it anymore. Take a long walk. Edit my poems and short stories, then load them on Lulu and sell them. Anything in a small attempt to get my head straight, not think of work, and love my life (and self) a bit more. I’m so incredibly tired.

Mind if I join you, Smudgy? I could use a kitty nap (i.e. long and uninterrupted)

A little bit of rest and relaxation isn’t too much to ask for, is it…? (Greek Gods, I hope not!)

Luckily I always have my Significant Other for support – he truly is my Everything ❤





Easy cupcake recipe

12 09 2011

Here’s the recipe I promised you when I blogged about those Rainbow Cupcakes last week.

Just remember that after you’ve mixed up your batter, you need to divide it into bowls, add the food colouring, and then place a spoonful of each into the paper cups.

Have fun!

Easy Cupcake Recipe

–Ingredients

225g self-raising flour

225g castor sugar

225g soft margarine/ butter

5ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder

4 eggs

45ml (3 tablespoons) water [or 3 tablespoons of the juice and grated peel of one orange/ lemon]

Method

Set the oven on 180 degrees Celsius.

Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together until the batter is smooth – it should have a light yellow colour to it.

Spoon about a dessertspoon’s worth of batter into each paper cup.

Place the paper cups on a baking tray or in a muffin/ cupcake pan, then bake for about 15 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden brown.





Go ahead – eat a rainbow

5 09 2011

Friday evening – it might have been just after eleven – I was in the mood to bake something. My mother-in-law would be celebrating her birthday the next day, and I wanted to come up with something special. Something out of the ordinary…

…which is how I ended up making rainbow cupcakes!!! 😀

I’ve always wanted to try it, and though I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, I was determined to be creative. I simply used my regular old cupcake recipe, divided the batter between four bowls, then added food colouring. I then went on to place a spoonful of each colour into the cookie cups: first blue, then yellow, then green, and finally red.

The result?

Well, see for yourselves. All in all, I think it came out pretty awesome! I promise I’ll share the recipe soon.

[My younger sister Addy has already placed an order for her 21st birthday next year. But I think I should try and work on it a bit more – there’s only so much one can do with an oven that doesn’t even heat properly…]

After dividing the batter into 4 bowls, I mixed in the food colouring

Tada! Hmm, nothing like the smell of cupcakes after midnight...

Fresh, colourful and delicious

Icing made with icing sugar and lemon juice

An explosion of brightness

And the pattern on the cookie cup looks just as nice

Delivering some happiness + sprinkles to my mum and sisters

Just look at that - Nyan cat would be pleased 😉 Haz a happee - eat teh rainbows!!