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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Painting fun

Ready Steady,

B-A-K-E



I have dabbled with acrylic painting 
for a few years now.
I find it a very therapeutic way to unwind.
The only problem I have is 
finding the time to escape from family life 
for a few hours to visit one of my most 
favourite places in the whole wide world,

It's fair to say,
this is my little bit of serendipity
that I came across quite by chance
and that I love to indulge in, 
in an otherwise
very busy life.

However, 
Little B is at a VERY clingy 
stage at the moment,
which is lovely in the sense that 
I feel so needed and loved,
but on the other hand,
I can't even go to the bathroom 
without company.

So the prospect of leaving him with Daddy 
for an afternoon,
whilst I disappear is just about impossible.

It's such a shame because Miss B has 
come with me on a couple occasions 
to paint,
and she really loves 
her time 'up on the hill' too.

I shall just have to be patient 
and wait a little while longer,
and the time will come 
when we can 'escape'.

The Crafts House is run by a wonderfully 
talented lady called Sandra
 and her lovely husband, David.

Sandra is front of house,
looking after all things crafty,
and David is in charge of 
creating and cutting all the amazing 
MDF shapes
that adorn the shelves of the shop.

These blanks all sit waiting for you 
to unleash your artistic ideas on.

Sandra helps and guides 
you through the process of
conquering the initial fear 
of picking up a paint brush,
and realising that painting 
is so much fun,
as well as medicine of the soul.

David made some letters 
for me quite a while ago,
and in between having children 
and juggling work
they got put into the UFO
(unfinished objects) box.

I started working on them about a year ago,
and I am ashamed to say,
it's taken me this long to make the
time to complete them.

An opportunity to get all my paints
out onto the kitchen table 
and indulge in some very precious
'me time'
happened this weekend,
and I loved it.

The kids were 'helping' Daddy clean the car,
a.k.a. the mobile skip,
so I was able to revel in the pleasure of
forty five minutes of peace and quiet.

I had already done all of the 
base colour work with Sandra,
so there was only the 
decoration to finish off.

I wanted to keep this simple 
so as not to look too fussy
when they were mounted on the wall.






The hearts and polka dots 
on the 'b' and 'e' were 
so easy and quick to do,
but very effective.




The 'k' was just a stitched line 
effect created with a white uni-ball Signo pen.
These pens are great for writing 
on most surfaces,
but especially black so those 
chalkboard labels that are 
very popular at the moment
are a doddle with this.



The 'a' was a little more 
time consuming with the rose pattern.
I was slightly apprehensive 
about this one because I had 
never attempted
to paint roses before.

In actual fact,
they were really simple 
but didn't 'come together'
until I added the white accent an dots.

I fixed them to the wall using 



These are amazing little strips of 
self adhesive Velcro that attach to 
the wall and to the thing you want to hang.

It eliminates fiddling about with 
picture hooks and such like.
There are no holes in the walls 
and no need for bashing the 
end of your thumb with a hammer.

 The great thing about these 
for my wooden letters was
that I could literally stick them 
to the wall anywhere in the kitchen.



So after a bit of playing around 
with position,
and height, etc. 
and advice from Mr. B,
I decided above the ovens 
was the perfect spot. 



Voila.

I love them and feel really
 pleased with the patterns and colours I chose.



Until next time,
enjoy your day.



Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter Chocolate Cake




Happy Easter




It's hard to believe that Easter has arrived already.
It only seems as though we have 
just recovered from the 
post Christmas blues.

The gardens are starting to spring into life,
so I guess Spring really is here.

The snow drops have been out for a little while. 
Such delicate white flowers 
that never fail to make me smile.

Daffodils and Crocus's are 
peeping their petals out into the sunshine too.

I always make a chocolate cake at this time of year,
because of course, 
there is just not enough 
chocolate in the house already.

I have been tweaking this recipe 
for a little while and 
I'm finally happy with the results.

In fairness, 
anything I experiment with 
will get gobbled up without much complaint.

With two young children and a husband 
in the house there is no
shortage of good quality controllers.

The very rich and decadent 
ganache covering on this cake 
will help to keep it beautifully moist too.


You will need :



for the cake - 
50g cocoa powder
100g dark brown sugar
250ml boiling water
125g soft unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

for the ganache -
125ml water
30g dark brown sugar
175g unsalted butter
300g dark chocolate, broken into pieces.



1. This may seem a little bit backwards, 
but I make this first before I start the cake.
It takes a few hours to thicken up enough 
to put onto the cake so it's best to 
get this part out of the way first.

Put the water, dark brown sugar and butter 
into a pan and heat over a low heat 
until everything has melted and 
the liquid starts to bubble slightly. 



Take off the heat and add 
the broken up chocolate.
Allow to melt for a minute or two 
and then whisk until a lovely, 
smooth, and glossy texture.

Leave to stand until it thickens up, 
which will probably take 2-3 hrs. 
I give it the occasional stir
to check on the consistency.

2. Now for the cake.
Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4

3. Grease and line two 8 inch sandwich cake tins

4. Put the cocoa, dark brown sugar, 
and boiling water into a heat proof jug 
and stir until everything starts to dissolve. 
Set aside until a little later.



5. Cream the butter and caster sugar 
together until pale and fluffy.

6. Add the vanilla extract into 
the creamed butter and 
continue to beat until combined.

7. Add 1 egg and quickly 
add a spoon full of flour 
to stop the mixture from curdling. 
Add the second egg and 
mix until well combined.

8. Add the rest if the dry ingredients 
and mix until everything is incorporated.



9. Finally, slowly pour in the 
cocoa mixture you made earlier. 



Mix thoroughly and then divide 
equally into the two cake tins.



10. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-20 mins, 
or until a cake tester comes out clean. 
Leave on a wire rack to cool for 10mins before turning out of the tins to cool completely.

11. To decorate, spread a third of the ganache onto the base cake, sandwich together with the other cake,
and spread the remaining ganache 
over the top and sides until completely covered.

Decorate with whatever takes your fancy,
I chose mini eggs but they will not last very long.

This is such an easy,
but delicious cake and 
can be used for so many different occasions,
or just when you really need chocolate cake.



Until next time, 
enjoy your day.