Baking, baking and baking

22nd July   

When sad news hits you, how do you respond?  If you can answer that then I am sorry for your sadness.  Me, I have discovered much to my surprise I bake!  There is something comforting, warming and a little bit like being wrapped in a warm snugly blanket about creating comfort food and watching others enjoy; a little bit of happiness. So what have I been baking, well in the last three weeks I have just worked out that I have baked:

5 banana cakes
an apple cake
4 chocolate cakes
3 bakewell tart cakes
4 chocolate cakes
a fruit cake
kransekake see post  here for details
120 waffles
and a
raspberry and white chocolate cake
 
 
Luckily I do not really eat cake (my vice is chocolate) otherwise I might be as big as a house!  I just realised that it works out to be on average 7 cakes a week.  I am beginning to slow down, so maybe I am slowly healing too.  Unlike me though, I have not focused on taking photographs as is my normal want, but I did manage to take a picture this week of a new bake that I had not made before, but was such a hit that I shall make it again.  The raspberry and white chocolate cake.  Give it a try for a tea time treat.  We discovered that in this wonderful heat we have been having here in the south of England, that the cake did well being left in the fridge so as not to melt the ganache sandwiched between the two cake layers.  Just a thought...
Top of cake before dusting of icing sugar.
 
Raspberry & White Chocolate Cake 
 
♥  200g sugar
  100g white chocolate
  4 large eggs
  200g sugar
  200g s r flour
  175g raspberries
 
For the ganache
  200g white chocolate
  250ml double cream
  icing sugar for dusting
 
  Grease & line 2 x 20cm round loose bottomed cake tins
  Pre heat oven to 182 degrees GM4
 
Cake bases:
Cube butter and break up chocolate pieces.  Set in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Melt slowly and stir occasionally.  When melted remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
 
Beat in the eggs and sugar gradually, into the cool chocolate mixture with an electric whisk.
 
Fold in the flour and raspberries.
 
Divide mixture gently between the greased cake tins and bake for 20-25 mins or until golden in colour.
 
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tins before removing them.
 
Ganache
Place broken up chocolate pieces and only 100ml of the double cream into a heat proof bowl over simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate and cream have melted and the mixture is smooth and silky in appearance.
 
Leave ganache to cool to room temperature.
 
Beat in the remainder of the cream into the cooled ganache.
 
Putting it altogether.
Once cakes have cooled, sandwich them together with the ganache and when ready to serve sprinkle over icing sugar.

recipe by John Whaite on BBC Good Food
 
 
 
♥Sending cake love to you all♥


Colour zest for the garden

3rd July

It is here!  It has arrived!  The outdoor Autentico paint that I have been waiting on.  Today was the first opportunity I had to visit this fabulous shop in Marlow:  http://www.sarahughes.co.uk/ Where Sara had kindly put away the colour of my choice for me, Heliotrope.  Admittedly I was initially after a more hot house kind of pink, but am delighted by this result never the less.   As with all Autentico paints,(see post here)  little or no preparation is needed.  Just slap it on, let it dry and enjoy!  I love it, what do you think?


The quiet hidden corner in the garden was looking unloved and for sometime now I had wanted to add a splash of colour, today was the day!
 


The bench is old and a little wobbly and beginning to rot, but we will ignore that.  There was some moss that had attached itself to the bench, so the only preparation I did was to wire brush it off, I did not prepare any other parts of the bench at all, just where there was greenery.
 



Oooh, that is pink! Yikes, 'wonder what the family will think kept creeping into my mind',
but it didn't stop me as you will see..
 


 
At this point I started to become excited.
 



This photograph was taken to show you that I really did not prepare the wood at all.
 


 
Sara suggested that I apply two coats, but today I was short on time, so this is only one coat and it took me just under an hour.  If I have time tomorrow, I will 'slap on' coat number two.
 


 
With a little cushion dressing, (see here ) I think the corner has begun to 'zing'.
 




Umm, what should I do with that fence though?!?!?
 


 
Despite being rushed off my feet in various things, I took five minutes to enjoy the new corner as I like to think of now.  It is hidden from the house and no one would know I am here, even with such a bright colour addition.  Yes, I can envisage some summer crocheting evenings sitting here...
 

 
Hope you have a bright and cheery week!

Cupcake bunting

30th June

Cupcake summer crochet bunting
A quick post today as life has taken a very unexpected turn.  I decided I needed to be kept occupied last week and wanted something that was not too brain demanding but that let me escape for a bit, was easy to pick up and put down at a minutes notice and had a quick end result.  

I stumbled upon the pattern for a cupcake crochet bunting and as I wanted cheering up too, seemed like the perfect 'make'.
















The number of cupcakes needed depends on the length of bunting you want.  As this was to be a present, I decided that 1.5 -2m would be enough and made 8 cupcakes. 
Frosted icing first... I chose girlie pink.


 
 
Once all icing was made, (easier to make one after the other as then you remember and learn the pattern.) It was time to make the sponge and cupcake itself.  I was a little distracted at this point and so my edges are not anything I am proud of, if I were to make this again, and I think I will,
I will concentrate more on this aspect.
 
 
 
Adding the cherries onto the icing was extremely quick and satisfying.



The bunting line itself was a little different to the pattern, I chose to chain and then hdc into each chain.  I made about 350 chains for 8 cupcakes.  I also changed the ending, having made a few bunting now, (see here) I quite like tying the ends rather than having a loop, so I made a second line of 20 chains and hdc into those to have as 'ties', see below.
 


 
I hung them up outside whilst pinned and not blocked, to see if the spacing was right and if they hung OK.  I was pleased and so blocking and sewing on began.  I used needle and cotton and thread, nothing clever about sewing them on.
 



 
Finally finished, think they look cheery and summery, don't you?
 





 All wrapped and ready to be given as a present.  Hope they like them!
Link to the pattern is here: cupcake bunting pattern
 
 
This was the sky this morning and I see mackerel skies, that usually means rain is coming, despite the lovely blue skies, might have to bring my bunting in from the garden too!
 
♥Have a lovely week all, whatever the weather brings!♥
 


Longest day, summer solstice week end

22nd June

Longest day, just look at that sun!
Boy, what a week end.  What a gift, what an amazing mid year.  Let's not even think that from tonight the evenings will get shorter.

The week end in the south of England could not have been better weather wise and on a personal front, my work load has happily decreased since Friday.  Therefore come four o'clock on Friday afternoon, I couldn't help feeling in the holiday mood.  I rang a couple of friends and an impromptu drink and nibbles evening was arranged.  I am not good at planning in advance, but much prefer the casual, pop over and see us. 




The 'after' picture
Once invites were accepted, I dashed around the garden for a couple of hours, not having had time to tend to it for the past two months and for the time being, moved all the bits and pieces that made the garden look like Step toe & Son to the side of the house, for now, out of sight, out of mind.  A mad dash into the house to make some quick savoury and sweet nibbles, a walk through the shower, there was not time to have a leisurely one, added the obligatory chalk board sign to the front door, poured myself a Pimms and sat in the garden to await good company.  And so the week end continued...



I don't know about you, but midsummer solstice has always had a draw and an attraction for me.  I like to be outside and appreciating life.  Most years it is achieved.  I often wish however that I am in Norway as there, it is such a big deal.  Many will make their way to the coast or lakeside, light fires, enjoy good company, good food and inevitable drink.  All along the coast fires will be seen for miles, what a welcoming, warming sight.  Mr H is in Norway on the good ship Brimble, sailing her some 400 hundred or so miles north over the next few days.  In Bergen this week end, not that far north, they will only have 1 hour and 40 minutes of darkness, imagine that.  So for me, here at home with the children, (not because Mr H was away) it was definitely a weekend to hang up the bunting, enjoy the weather and appreciate all that is good in life over the summer solstice week end.






Whilst rushing round the garden like a loony, I really should work under pressure more, as I achieve such a great deal, I noticed that we had an abundance of luscious strawberries, who knew we had so many this year, a lesson that I should not have ignored the garden for the past two months, but alas half the crop had been decimated by pesky birds, even before my very eyes, I watched a young blackbird, dive into the raspberry bushes, pull a raspberry and fly off!  Think I may be purchasing some netting in the near future, cheeky thing.






Found a stag beetle whilst gardening, just look at the orange eyes
I suddenly noticed the wild rose has
become rampant, poor apple tree!
Saturday saw much of a repeat of Friday, me in the garden, as once you begin, don't you realise how much more there is to do, some four back breaking hours later, I decided that I should call more friends over for more nibbles and drink.  I had particularly liked the Pimms, first of the year for me and had a fancy for another tipple.  My daughter too had an unexpected 'drop-in' of some friends and they all played badminton for an hour.  I just love the fact that the summer weather brings out joy in people and the togetherness of it all.  I love the fact too that the girls want to be around the home and enjoy our company, I feel blessed and treasure these moments.


I made home made artichoke dip, very quick and lush.  You serve it warm too, if anyone is interested, let me know and I will post the recipe, it went down a storm.


We made savoury waffles and added various toppings, including ones without waffles, for the carb free friend I have ;), you know who you are! Plus we had to have a plate of sweet treats too.  I cheated here and bought the cakes, I ran out of time?!?! So shoot me.


But I did have time to try a new Delia dish for mid summer to be enjoyed and eaten outside after friends had left, here it is pre cooking.  What was so fab about it was that it contained such summer flavours, reminiscent of balmy nights in Spain, all in a one pot dish that just sat on the stove top whilst we had friends over for drinks and nibbles and was ready to eat as soon  as they departed, easy peasey.  Again, let me know if you fancy it, chicken and brown rice as the main ingredients.





You can't beat a good Pimms in summer time

Saturday began to draw to a close and by 2230, we reluctantly returned indoors and played some cards before saying good night to the longest day.

Sunday was much the same plus watching my daughter row in a regatta and enjoying this delightful weather, and do you know what I am doing now...


I may have become just ever so slightly addicted over the course of the week end!

♥ I hope you too have a fantastic mid summer week end ♥




Norway and lazy days

17th June    

Flying into Norway, we even saw the
little island Brimble was moored at!
Norway, I love it. 

For those of you who have not been, I can totally recommend it.  Whilst the weather rained in the UK every day a couple of weeks ago, Norway had the bluest of skies and warm summer breezes.  The days were noticebly longer and all felt good with the world.  If you are new to this blog, I should inform you that along with crafts,  in our household we have a passion for sailing and we sail as much as we can and take our boat to as many new and old favourite places as possible.  We use our boat well, she is our second home, she is our protection from the elements and she looks after us, Brimble is family.
 



Anti fouling her bottom and polishing the propeller,
hoping to make her speed along faster in the water
Last summer we sailed across the north sea and took Brimble to Norway, we over wintered her in a purpose built shed, boy was she spoilt, she doesn't get treatment like that in the UK. And so, a couple of weeks ago it was time to move her out of the shed, give her her yearly bottom clean and paint, sort out a few odd jobs and begin this seasons sailing.  We are ambitious this year and aim to sail her north into the Arctic circle and sail in the midnight sun.  Norway is a country of dramatic and varied scenary. It is Mr H's intention that Brimble be photographed amoungst the majestic mountains that are Lofoton. Watch this space.

Below, I have added a photogrpahic diary of our time in Norway, hope you enjoy!
 
Before the first 'shake down' sail of the year, everything that had been taken off the year before had to be painstakingly put back in its correct place.  Our boat is very small and everything has to be just so!
 

 On the Sunday in the evening sun, when we were all stowed and ready to set sail the following day, we noticed a problem!  One of the shrouds holding up the mast had failed!! Nowhere was open on a Sunday and we were on a tight schedule to move the boat around the coast in order to ensure she will be in the Arctic this year.  We are flying to and fro as we need to work and have only a limited amount of holiday time!  This was potentailly disatrous on several fronts.  Have you ever been to Norway?  Do you know how expensive it is there?  Just thinking about replacing some of the rigging brought me out in a sweat, but better to have found it now I kept telling myself, than be sailing with all sails up and the rigging failing totally and the mast coming down...
didn't bear thinking about actually.
 
 
Norway is a large country with a small population, just shy of five million people.  You work it out, the country is twice the size of the UK and we have over thirteen million people living in London alone!  So it meant that the closest riggers to help us repair Brimble were over an hour and a half away.  This is prime boat fitting out time but we were very fortunate that we were accommodated and were only delayed by two days.  It did mean we had lots to catch up on mileage wise!  Along the way in the car, we saw many beautiful places to stop, even the main, the E18 had beautiful wild deep dark purple lupins along the grass verges.
 

 
Below, he sail makers, where we had four new shrouds made for Brimble,
that is our rigging on the floor there.


 
As great as the riggers were, they could not come out to the boat to fix the new rigging.  So it meant Mr H and I had to do it!  What does this mean?  I had to hoist him up the mast and he had to trust me not to drop him.  That could have been interesting!  I was nervous about this, especially as the mast was only held up by fifty percent of the normal rigging and it was a little windy.  But we managed it, although I was a little naughty and when bringing him down, left him a few feet in the air for five minutes, just to see his reaction!!
 

 
Before sailing anywhere, as with any journey, you need to know where you are, where you are going and plan your route.  Sailing makes this a little more complicated and the coast of Norway is full of rocks.  I sail with my heart in my mouth most of the time, but Mr H and the
children seem to relish in the challenge.
 
 
And so finally we were ready to leave our winter storage marina. 
Thank you for looking after us, Wector Yachting.
 
 

 We are never the luckiest of fishermen, much to the delight of my daughter, who really does not like fish and to the dismay of my son, who loves fish.  But we managed to catch some young 'fat' makeral.
 
 Within ten minutes they were in the pan, fried in butter and with a good squeeze of lemon juice.  Perfect Norway summer sailing.
 


 
 
 
 
 
Part of travelling for me is going ashore and mooching in the shops, I came across this lovely painting which we all loved and may use it as inspiration for a craft project later in the year. 
Just love the colours.
 
 
Meeting people alomg the way is part of travelling too and we even had Nina,
the dog come on board and visit.
 
 
The evening light in Norway at this time of year is just so magical,
this was about eleven pm at the end of May.
 
 
Sailing in Norway at the end of May this year was
all about being woken up by blue skies every morning.
 

 
We sailed in and out of little islands.
 
 
 

 
Norway had a bank holiday whilst we were there, they are a very proud people and very patriotic, most have flag poles and flew there rich looking flag.
 
 
Narrow passages need to be navigated with care.
 
 
On deck spotting for shallows, we were mostly successful?!?!?
 

 
 
Just like travelling on the front upper deck of a double decker bus, sailing under briges always makes you catch your breath.
 
 
Can you spot the two cyclists on the bridge?  Not sure I would be comfrtable cycling there!
 

 
You know you are beginning to age when you have more than one pair of glassess each...
 
 
Keeping a good look out whilst sailing is imperative!
 
 
Last year the sea was bubbling with jelly fish and we had hoped this year would be better, but the signs so far are not good.
 
 
 
We really are a small boat.
 
 
Evening skies are varied and breath taking.
 
 
All types of boats are out on the water
 
 South Norway coastal towns are often all white houses, lovely to roam around.
 
 Brimble's last stop for this trip and what a welcoming place Lillesand was.
 
 Until we see you in a few weeks Brim, take care x
 
In the mean time, the very lovely and attentive harbour master Finn, sent us this picture to show us Brimble is safe and sound and being looked after in our absense.  Now that is what I call service!  Thank you Finn.