Sunday, 20 November 2011

Tinkerbell birthday cake

I've been making a Tinkerbell cake this week for my friend's daughter's birthday party:

I had known for about six weeks that I needed to make the cake.  I used a madeira cake that lasts a fortnight so, theoretically, I could have baked and iced the cake last weekend.  I could have spent the last month making sugarpaste decorations, they last such a long time.  So why did I start the cake at 9 o'clock on Wednesday night and then stay up until 1am on Friday morning decorating it?!  What's more, when I should have started baking the cake after work on Wednesday, I made some Cherry Menlove cheat's mince pies instead! 

I frustrate myself so much leaving everything to the last minute.  I am the same in every aspect of my life and whilst I know that I put myself under unnecessary stress, I can't seem to change it.  It comes up in every appraisal at work.  My boss, kindly, tells me that it's against my character-type to plan in advance, so I need to work really hard at it.  I agree.  The truth is that I can't get motivated to do things until the last minute and I work best under pressure.  

I am pleased with the cake even though I spent the whole of Friday exhausted and bleary-eyed.

It's a simple two-tier madeira cake with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam filling.  I was asked to provide a three-tiered cake but decided to use a bigger board and decorate that rather than a third tier (it's an 8" cake with a 5" tier - that's a lot of cake!).
I made all of the decorations from sugarpaste or flowerpaste (the figures are plastic) and the water is blue-coloured buttercream.  There are two Tinks (?) on it - I was only going to use one (which makes sense to me) but Andrew assured me that a 6-year old little girl would rather see as many Tinks as possible than just one, however unrealistic.  

He was right - I dropped the cake off on Friday night and my friend's daughter had waited up to see the cake.  Her face when we took it out of the box was an absolute picture.  She was delighted.  It made the stress and the exhaustion worthwhile.  I crawled home, ate noodles and fell asleep in front of a DVD.  

So, Cherry Menlove.  I saw her mince pies in the Hobbycraft magazine but then discovered Cherry's blog accidentally a couple of week's ago whilst looking for blanket stitch tutorials.  Her blog is so cheesy and cheerful - I love it.  I thought I was the most shameless Pollyanna but she clearly beats me hands down.  I have a little bit of a girl crush.  

 The mince pies are made with shop-bought pastry and mincemeat.  The only thing I had to make was a little buttercream which is piped on top.  They were a bit burnt overdone but they still tasted lovely and I will definitely make them again.  They are worth making just for aesthetic purposes.

All weekend I have been sleepy and craving cosiness (how on earth I used to go out til the early hours of the morning three nights on the trot at the weekend I do not know).  My mum and sis picked me up on their way to Milton Keynes yesterday afternoon and we went to the little Christmas section that has been set up outside John Lewis.  It is lovely for children; they can see Santa and look at the cute moving Christmassy scenes.  There are loads of fairy lights and a very pretty, proper, carousel.

We took my niece on and she loved it.  We sat in a little Cinderella coach and she put her bunny, Joseph, on her knee for the ride.
We went for eggnog lattes at Starbucks (the red cups are back, hurrah!) and wandered around one or two shops.  It was crazy busy (Christmas madness) but we had nothing specific to buy.  I did pick up a few fun decorations from Paperchase and swooned over the gorgeous babushka stationery.  It's a good job I don't go to the shops very often, I could have spent a fortune!

Today we're just having a quiet day at home but popping out to the garden centre in a moment for a little mooch.  By 3pm we'll be curled up on the sofa with an old film on the box - can't wait.  Might even make myself a snowball!

Hope everyone's having a good weekend - isn't the weather Christmassy!  Cold and foggy... switch on your fairy lights and get cosy.



Sunday, 13 November 2011

Worshipping my yarn stash

We are finally straight at home.  Hurrah!  After three months without a dining table, a month without even a dining room floor and an enforced week away from home due to damp-proof work we now have a fully functional dining room.  Want a little peek?

Thank you, Shabby Chic Sarah, for your advice on spraying the mirror, it was black before!...  And thank you, Cuckoo, for the egg basket/fairy lights idea...  Love pinching ideas from my bloddies! 
We have still got curtains and window-seat cushions to sort but I am thrilled with the result so far.  Positively skippy.  

The floor is a huge improvement and having a thick base layer of concrete has really warmed the room up.  We had a wood burner installed in there earlier in the year so, with a fire going and the fairy lights twinkling, the room can actually be described as cosy!  Sooo happy.  I have spent loads of time in there already -  I feel the cold really easily so I plonk myself in the chair closest to the fire and sit reading, crocheting and sewing.  I've even watched a bit of TV in there on my laptop.  (One of my favourite things to do is watch TV on my laptop.  We have three proper-sized tellies in the house but I just adore sticking my big headphones on and watching one of 'my' programmes on the laptop.  I usually snuggle up in bed to watch it but I've also taken it into the bathroom occasionally and watched from the bath.  Bliss, I tell you!)  I've got loads to do at work this week and I can't wait to spread out my papers on the dining room table, light a fire and tackle my spreadsheets.  Sad, I know.

Unpacking my china and organising the dresser and sideboards was a particular highlight:  

I have a sorted my china by colour.  It took ages but, oh!, how I loved unwrapping each and every piece.  I have a cupboard full of pink china and another completely filled with cake stands.  Simple pleasures...

I think that living in disarray for such a long time brought about a slight meltdown and I have been on a mission to regain order.  I decided to create a 'crafty corner' in the spare room so that I can faff around with fabric and yarn to my heart's content without messing up the whole house.   I bought, on impulse, a vintage teacher's desk on ebay, a pretty green chair and an oak bookcase.  The husband was coaxed into helping me move furniture around the room and a new place of worship, for me, was born.

Seriously, I keep just popping into the spare room to admire my yarn stash:

....sigh happily over my labelling system....

... and open my desk drawer to run my fingers over the spools of ribbon and washi tape:

I need to get a life, I know.  



PS Hello to my new followers!  Thanks for stopping by.  I'm always thrilled to find new blogs so I'll pop over as soon as I can.  Getting close to 100 followers now and I'm planning a giveaway when I reach the magic number!

Have a great week! 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cosy by the fire

Cosying up by the fire now, after a fab - busy - weekend.  The weekend, in a nutshell, has involved bonfires, fireworks, champagne, friends, chilli, wine and a lot of laughing.  Today I've been sorting out my yarn stash and having a thoroughly lovely time. 

Just popped by to check in but have got lots of chat and will be back soon.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.