Friday, June 24, 2011

Good Luck Friday

It's going to be a tense day here at work, the undergraduate finalists find out their degree classifications.

Will any of the students make a lap of honour around the department upon hearing their result (this did actually happen one year)? Or will they just retire to the pub for the night? Who knows?

For any of the current finalists who are reading this, good luck!
funny pictures of cats with captions

Oh and by the by, I made whoopie pies last night for the first time! First come first served in my office at work!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nommage Wednesdays

It's time for a very overdue post on the experiment I inflicted on treated my colleagues at work to, Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes.

The original recipe can be found here, but as you will see, I tweaked it from being a cake to cupcake format as it's easier to disperse!

First of all, I want to put my hands up and say although I like chocolate I am not a fan of chocolate cake, or chocolate flavoured products in general. I tried this recipe in the hope of finding a chocolate cake I actually like, but no, the quest continues.

Anyhoo, back to the recipe.

First you put your cocoa powder, flour and sugar in a bowl.

Then melt the chocolate and butter over simmering water.

The recipe now calls for you to liquidise the beetroot then add the eggs, but it wasn't working until I added the eggs.

Add the wet mixtures to the dry and mix together. It will all of a sudden bind and become a thick sticky lump.

I then spooned the mixture into muffin cases. This was my mistake, I would recommend using fairy cake cases as the mix doesn't rise all that much and as this cake was very rich, people were throwing away half of it as they couldn't eat it all in one go.

Note to self : don't drip melted chocolate over the eggs whilst transferring ingredients - it's a waste!

The recipe says to bake for 50 minutes but as these are cupcakes, I didn't use that long and just tested them with my handy little cake tool

To ice the top I used a cream cheese (Philadelphia icing) mixed with some of the beetroot juice and topped with pink sugar sprinkles.

The cake recipe calls for some ganache which I didn't try but if I made this recipe again I would probably do a sort of butterfly cake with the ganache under a layer of the cream cheese icing.

Happy Baking, I'm trying whoopie pies this week

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Having a ball

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, I have to admit I didn't accomplish much as I spent most of Saturday preparing for a Summer Ball and Sunday lying on the couch trying to catch up on sleep!

I've recently finished Cold Comfort Farm and Tess of the d'Urbervilles and the reason why I've not written up their reviews is I'm feeling somewhat frustrated by the books from the list at the moment. So I've been sneaking in some pleasure reading and discovering a couple of new authors.

So here are some micro reviews of two two books :

Cold Comfort Farm - The ending leaves you a bit bewildered and then you realise you don't really care about the main character as they are just a bit blah.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Too much additional text detracting away from essentially a good story, you feel for Tess and her tragedies and want to punch certain character's lights out!

Can anyone suggest the next book for me to read from the list that won't p*** me off?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Down to Earth with a Bump

When I first decided to make this list, I didn't intend it to be a Bucket List, more of a project to wean me off planning (ha!) after coming down off the wedding high.

But today I take a more sombre note as I draw your attention to Alice, at the age of 15 she has been fighting cancer for 4 years and is losing the battle. She is now blogging about her bucket list and has attracted so many followers we can only hope her No.1 list item will come true and everyone will sign up to become a bone marrow donor.

I don't want to sound preachy, but please take a moment and think of the things you want to accomplish in your lifetime and then think how long you have to complete them.

I'm including a link to her blog below in case you wanted to follow her too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Woop woop!

Oh yeah! I crossed another thing off my list! I can now use a sewing machine and therefore can sew!
I spent this past weekend with the parents, making some curtains and cushion covers for our bedroom ... (here's a sneaky peek)

... visiting the Hotel Chocolat outlet store, nom nom nom ...

... helping my dad out with a quiz night for his Feast Week celebrations ...

... and harrassing  playing with their cat, Webster, aka Fat Cat, Bagpuss, Webby

I'm still making my way through Tess of the d'Urbervilles and I owe you a review for Cold Comfort Farm, as well as pictures from my Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes.

That's all for now x

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Funny

Have you ever wanted to hire a VW Campervan for a holiday, but only have a budget for camping in a tent?

Here's the solution :

Alternatively, if you want to put your partner in the dog house :

And yes, the dog bowl is included!

Have a happy weekend everybody, I'm off to the parents for the weekend whilst hubby goes to Scout Camp. Fingers crossed when I return I will have new curtains and cushion covers for the bedroom.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

C is for cookie

I have a confession to make, I love me a good cookie.
I am very picky about what counts and frequently can be seen gracing the shelves at Morrisons prodding and squeezing the cookie packets to make sure they're soft enough.

This has led me to wanting to make the perfect batch of cookies, biscuits. Previous attempts have just failed, big time! But last night - I cracked it!!!

See? (Yes I know a couple look slightly folded, that's erm on purpose ?!)

Sorry I don't have any pictures of the process - it involved a lot of getting my hands sticky and messy.

I used a recipe from Jane Asher's cookbook :

How delicious are they? Well ....

funny pictures of cats with captions

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bumper Book Review

To make up for the slackness of my literary reviews, I've decided to put three together.

Over the past week I've read "A Brave New World", "Northern Lights" and "Brideshead Revisited", all with varying reactions.

To begin with, Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World is along the lines of 1984, in that it is set in a quite possible future where no-one has snoo snoo anymore to have children. All children are created in test tubes and conditioned from embryo into the person they will become - as required by society.
The book follows a character who, like in 1984, begins to feel constrained by the order of things and causes issues when he rebels.
I have to admit I did enjoy this book, although I wish I'd had a guide which laid out the different castes in the society as I got a little bit lost - maybe I wasn't reading it closely enough (!)
This book could be viewed as a warning to society of how obsessed we have become with perfection and where do you draw the line on inteference with nature's design? It would be interesting to review this book in 20 years time and see how it correlates with society then.
Definitely worth a read - go, get it now!

Philip Pullman's Northern Lights I thought would be an easy read, given that it's written for children. Eek, I was a bit wrong on that front. The story follows Lyra and her daemon Pantaleimon as she becomes embroiled in children being kidnapped and sent to the Arctic North.
I enjoyed the story, and loved the idea of humans having a familiar with whom they could never be separated, but I struggled with the language. I like to read books that are "properly" written and flow. Lyra's colloquialisms kept tripping up my flow of reading. A friend of mine said once I'd read the first I would be dying to read the rest of the trilogy. I'll be honest, as curious a cat as I normally am, I'm not that bothered.
Is it worth reading? If you like your fantasy grounded in a bit of reality, or don't mind your reality enhanced with a bit of fantasy it's definitely worth a look.

And finally, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Omg, I just could not understand the point of that book at all. The main protagonist is Charles Ryder and follows him from his time as an undergraduate at Oxford to adulthood and his experiences at the country house Brideshead via the various members of the family which live there. I admit I failed to get excited about what would be seen as significant events in the book when the characters themselves don't get excited. I persevered through this book and I think my mum has the DVD of it. Maybe after watching it I'll get some excitement and enjoyment from the story.
I wouldn't recommend this book, it's too bland to be of any excitement.

Anyhoo, I'd better leave you for this post.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Catching up

Sorry I've been absent, between the Bank Holiday and Space School I've not been able to look at a computer.

So what's been happening this week?

Firstly, we spent Bank Holiday not relaxing but busy, busy, busy. In preparation for seeing our friends and their new baby, I "Japlac'd" my hands. Note to self, read instructions before covering hands (accidentally) in high gloss paint. Three hours of scrubbing and soaking and my hands are now no longer white. Hindsight, I should have had a picture taken but we were too busy worrying it wasn't going to come off!

We then went to see said friends and their baby - who's a big ball of noms with not so tiny feet.

And then Bank Holiday Monday was spent tidying the house, glamorous I know but it had to be done. Our spare room now has an ensuite - ie the new bathroom pieces are in there as there isn't anywhere else to put them, no plumbing involved so Padz? - please don't use them when you come over!

I've knocked another two books off the list this week which I'll post reviews of tonight.

I was looking at the list the other day and realised that I haven't really hacked into it all that much yet so I put it to you readers (few and valued as you are) which of these should I do next :

  1. Make and properly ice a cake
  2. Spend an evening on Chat Roulette
  3. Make the perfect batch of cookies
  4. Create your family tree
  5. Turn off my mobile for a week
  6. Smile at 100 strangers
  7. Get Christmas and birthdays organised
  8. Tie a note to a balloon and let it go
Answer in the comments below!