Saturday, 27 December 2014

Double Baptism

Right after Christmas it's always nice to have something a little different to get stuck into. Yes, I love all the Christmas designs and treats but I also enjoy doing something different just to shake things up a bit. About a month ago an old friend of mine asked if I would have time to make a cake and some cake pops for her son's and a friend's son's joint baptism taking place a few days after Christmas. Of course I was happy to do this for her.

I confessed to her that I had never done anything for a baptism, confirmations yes, baby showers yes, but baptisms no, so when it came to making the design I had a few points from my friend but otherwise she left it up to me. I hope I covered everything she wanted and gave a sweet touch to their wonderful occasion.

 My friend wanted the initials of each of the boys on the pops- a very elegant design, I thought.

 My Mother brought back some fondant cutters last time she went to England so I got to use those here. I thought the baby onesies would be perfect.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Spirited Songs, Joyous Jellies, and Merry Moments

'Tis that time of year again; My favourite time of year. I know, "everyone says that" you may think to yourself but I mean it. I love entertaining, I love baking all day just to wrap everything up or put them in holiday tins and give them all away. I love going to all the Christmas church services, the music gets me every time. I put Christmas carols on (ancient stuff, nothing Bing Crosby sung although he's brilliant) and sing all the descants to them...alone in my house. I buy a real tree, every year. I go out to buy it, put it in my car, bring it in the house, and put it up myself. Don't worry, Patrick's not refusing to help I just enjoy it too much myself. I put my tree up only mid-month so I can make it last until at least the 6th of January. I maintain all the traditions no matter how much "extra work" they make for me, as links to the past: Making my Father's recipe for eggnog (not for you kids, and adults don't drive after drinking it!), decorating the tree and remembering the story behind every decoration, making Christmas cake (although I haven't yet assumed the lead for this tradition my Mother is still in charge, but I heartily consume it!), as well as baking and entertaining lots! Christmas still is magical to me, not because of Santa (I came to a realisation when I was 7) but because of the moments shared during the season. Agreed, I get cross with people putting their trees up in November and stressing over presents then come the 26th- it abruptly stops. Sure, I feel sad that they might not be enjoying it. So take out all the rush and pressure and the over indulgence, and enjoy the magic.

These pops are part of my tradition. I make tons of these at Christmas, and yes they take a lot of time, and I often have late nights when I'm approaching a deadline, but what really pushes me on is thinking of the people I am making them for. I love hearing how people have used their pops as their decorations and hope that my little sweet treats have made them seasonally happy!!

These photos were sent to me by a lady who ordered these angels, to show me how they decorated their table. In the email she also told me:
" I decorated (the table) and everyone was awed with your little angels…the whole theme was angels….we had little messages at each place about different explanations of angles, archangels, cherubim etc….."

I love all these traditions.

Merry Christmas everyone...

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Gifts Done my Way

Whenever I think of what I can bring to someone's house there isn't usually any question as to what I end up choosing. I always try to think of what I can make (usually cookies), or at special occasions what I can bake (usually cake or cake pops), and whenever there's a birthday I always try to make the card... I know, it's exhausting for me too. At Christmas though, it's always easy to know what to bring. Here were a couple examples of some of those little treats I brought along with me to some occasions:

 These are what I brought to my Music Director for the holidays. I dipped the truffles in the blue chocolate just to match the box. This fortuitously gave me the opportunity to use some more of my new, awesome sprinkles! 


 For the first time in years I made mince pies (nothing to do with meat, it's a fruit filling). These are incredibly popular in England, so I was happy to make them for a patient who is originally from England. These were my contribution when I went over to see him for a wee glass of sherry over the holidays. 

Many happy memories curling up in front of the fire at the Vicarage, with a glass of mulled wine and a minced pie, all toasty warm... good memories.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Delectable Daleks

I grew up watching the British SciFi classic Dr. Who. My parents would tape episodes from PBS, and we watched them all the time. My sister can still name you the director, location, the Doctor's assistant, and the date it was filmed for any episode you name her. Put it this way, not many pet cats get chased down the hall by a 1/8 size remote control Dalek... do they? My sister's cats do, that's normal behaviour in her house.

Given my Sister's love, nay obsession with this cult classic, how could I pass up the chance to make her Christmas gift match this love. On my Mother's last trip to England she acquired for me a "Doctor Who chocolate mould" with various popular characters and icons such as: the Tardis, K-9, a Sontaran, a Cyberman, a Weeping Angel, and a Dalek. I am now somewhat realising that this whole last paragraph will read to most of you like the teacher in Peanuts, but stay with me folks. (Fun fact about the webpage for the Tardis: at the top there is a warning saying that this article may be too technical for some readers.... :P) So with my surprisingly well suited chocolate colours (I think I'll re-name my dark blue chocolate "Tardis Blue") I set about making the most unique box of chocolates I've seen.

I made her open them in front of me so I could see her reaction... she squealed!

A Dalek...

A Tardis...

A Sontaran...

A Cyberman...

A Weeping Angel...

..and K-9...

Sunday, 14 December 2014

At the End of the Rainbow...

This is the third birthday cake I've made for this little birthday girl, although this one was a little different. Normally, the Birthday Girl's Mum, Nathalie and I get together at her house with a few other friends and we all decorate the cake (by "all" I mean Nathalie and I do, then our friends spend the evening assuring us that the icing and cake scraps are of the highest quality). This year, I wasn't able to join the gang for the annual cake-fest, so Nathalie commissioned me to make the cake with her design, then she and the quality-control team would make the cupcakes. We started off this tradition with Mini Mouse for Lexie's 1st Birthday, then went on to Old Macdonald for her 2nd, now to celebrate her 3rd birthday and Lexie wanted a "Rainbow" party, which definitely needed a rainbow cake.

Instantly, I wondered if Nathalie wanted a cake that looked like "Rainbow Bright" the beloved 1980's cartoon character or of the "celestial happening," but after she reassured me that it was the "celestial happening" I already had a vision:

There was one small detail that Nathalie asked for (only half seriously, but those are the ones I always listening to.) She asked for "purple bunnies with wings"... no problem.

 Purple bunny... 

 ...with wings. Check!

I also wanted to make a something a little extra special for Lexie because I couldn't go and help her Mum for her birthday so I made her her very own special rainbow pop!

Happy 3rd Birthday Lexie!!

Crèche Pops Return

Every year for the children's Christmas Pageant at our church I make a set of pops to go with the occasion and there's no doubt that this has become part of my holiday tradition. I love seeing Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus come to life in chocolate and sugar. I enjoy seeing the donkey and the camel (or a cow or a hamster depending on what angle you're looking at them from) join each other again, and this year as with last, the angels were present and singing as well the newest additions, the stars. The star was going to be heavily featured in this year's pageant so they were very important.

I don't have children of my own yet, but I look forward to the day when I can see my own little free range cow or sheep or angel drifting up the aisle, waving to me from the stage. I had years of fun doing it, so I hope that gets passed along too.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Cupcakes

All at once, I found myself making heaps of mini cupcakes. Some for my work holiday party and others for an order. Needless to say I was thrilled that I got to use my new holiday sprinkles!! (Yes, I got very excited when I bought them and now I finally get to use them!) I've never had an opportunity to use these little window boxes, but I loved how they turned out and will definitely be keeping them in mind for future gifts.

Loved these new little light bulb sprinkles (I practically squealed at the store....)

Still love these mini-gingerbread men sprinkles.

The snow flake sprinkles, always a  classic.

And the other new sprinkles, tri-coloured candy-canes.

A happy little group of cupcakes. fabulous little boxes!

These were the ones I gave to my colleagues at our holiday party so I added the little tags.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Another Year Stacked Up!

I think Lego-themed cakes are always going to be a popular choice for little boys. I made a Ninjago cake for one little guy a few years ago, and a Tiered Lego design for another young man, but this was the first to actually look like a piece of Lego. Not without its challenges, but in the end I was quite proud of the results. I'm no expert when it comes to Lego, but I know that the recipient of this cake knows a lot more about it than I do so it's very important to get it right! Hopefully this Birthday Boy was well pleased with his "stackable" cake.

Mummy's Birthday

Amidst all the Hogmanay of Christmas, we can never forget my Mother's birthday at the beginning of the month. This year, Patrick and I had Mum over for dinner and invited Mum's best friend also. I roasted a chicken, made roast potatoes and steamed asparagus. To top off the whole meal I made a cake (anyone surprised??). I remembered a few months ago, making my Devil's Food cake and accompanying it with a new recipe I was trying for salted caramel sauce. Mum was quite fond of this, but with one wish that there was more sauce. I noted this and made her wish come true for her birthday. Not only was her chocolate cake layered with an icing made from the salted caramel sauce, but I poured the sauce over the cake a few times, essentially glazing the cake with salted caramel sauce. As if that wasn't enough decadence, everyone at the table got their own personal pouring pot of salted caramel sauce... num. It doesn't half make make your teeth ring, but well worth it!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Two Little Monkeys

As I've said before, I've had a whole tone of baby showers to attend and make cakes for in the recent months. The cakes are especially fun to make for the people I know personally and in this case, this cake was for the little sister of a high school friend of mine if you can believe, and what's more exciting, she's expecting twin girls! Her friends and family were planning a surprise shower for her and I was happy to help out with the cake department of things. My friend asked if I could make a cake with baby jungle animals and two baby carriages, pink icing on top, and any cake but chocolate cake... this is what I came up with and I have it on good authority that the party went very well and that the Mummy-to-Be was very pleased with her sweet treat.

All the pieces assembled, waiting to be houses on the pink cake of a pillow.

 I must admit that I had a brief moment of panic when I thought I had spelled "monkeys" wrong... 
Phew, got it right!

 "See ya later, Alligator"

 "Hungry hungry hippos"


 "...and tigers..."

 "...and elephants.... oh my?"

 "Joshua Giraffe" (Who's singing the Raffi sang now!?)

 "Look out! Zebra crossing!"

 "And of course, a little monkey"

So excited for you, Emily!