Taking The Right Step with Go The Extra Mile Challenge

 

Go The Extra Mile - start line

Go The Extra Mile – start line

I haven’t been on here in ages!

Now normally I don’t do personal photos, however this one is an exception. As not only was I working, baking and being a Mum, somehow in between all that, myself and my walking partner in crime managed to train for a 50 km walk.

GO The Extra Mile is run by Focus on the Family Australia. Which is a not-for-profit Christian organisation dedicated to solving real life issues and offering relevant, practical support for all members of the family.

They tackle the challenging issues of teenage suicide, binge drinking, drugs, pornography, depression, bullying and teenage sexuality head on. They focus on academic and research excellence and their major programs undergo ongoing validation by independent experts. They concentrate on preventative education to help parents and teens recognise and stop crises before they happen.

We managed to train for this event in 12 weeks! We completed the walk in 11 hrs 39 mins, and raised some money for charity.

Go The Extra Mile

Go The Extra Mile

My health last year was pretty dodgy, so in January I decided enough, was enough and promptly went for a 12km walk through Birdsland (ironically you see lots of kangaroos, not so many birds).

I continued walking just to get healthier and, then I got my partner in crime, who is fantastically supportive. From there we decided to challenge ourselves. And we can talk until the cows come home about everything and anything! Which is important considering we were walking non-stop for up to 9 hours.

IMG_4058

We’ve decided that 50 kms isn’t enough of a challenge, and so we are now training to walk 100 kms.

I would suggest to anyone out there, that if your feeling not so good, that taking a stroll will definitely make up feel better. I feel healthier, refreshed, and my body relaxes after a long walk.

It was a beautiful day for a 50 km stroll

It was a beautiful day for a 50 km stroll

Not only have I been busy with training, but I have also made lots of cakes. I even flew to the UK to make my best friend from primary schools wedding cake.

So there will be lots of blogs heading your way.t

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Muesli Recipe and a Chocolate Cake Display

Sandra V Window Display - Tecoma, VIC, AUS

Sandra V Window Display – Tecoma, VIC, AUS

Well here is my chocolate cherry cake on display at Sandra V’s. The display will be up until Mothers Day – 12th May for those who have forgotten.

I really like my cake in a window, and have a vision that one day I’ll have a huge chocolate window display with some really cool cakes, and sculptures. The ones where it makes kids and adults alike stop and stare. Until then…..

Our family muesli recipe

Our family muesli recipe

This is my recipe for homemade muesli :

* 1 1/3 cup oats
* 1 1/3 cup quick oats
* 1/3 cup almonds – roughly chopped
* 1/3 dried apricots – roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup sultanas
* 1/4 cup dried cranberries – roughly chopped
* 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) – roughly chopped
* 1/8 cup dried blueberries
* 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
* 2/3 cup bran
* 2tbsp wheatgerm

– Mix all together and put in tupperware type of cereal container.
– You can add milk, or have it with yoghurt and add fresh fruit if you wish.

I brought large quantities of the ingredients, and just repeated the recipe until I had run out.  We ended up with 5 batches, in 2 containers. Mr Hollipops says (in his own words) “this is bloody lovely.”

It’s important to have a balanced diet with plenty of exercise, so even though I make these big chocolate cakes, which my family do on occasion get to sample or have their own, we as a family like to eat healthy and keep active.

For example, my husband runs marathons & ultra marathons, my eldest plays tennis, my youngest runs everywhere!! And I do my long distance walking. We allow ourselves some junk food, but the majority of the time it’s pretty healthy. I also make my own sauces so that I know exactly what is going into the food.

On that healthy note, I really need to start my day, things to do, and people to see.

Until then, happy baking 🙂

 

 

 

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere

It started with a kiss

It started with a kiss – 4 tiers of 100% pure white chocolate decorated cake.

I’ve decided that as much as I like working with fondant is that I much prefer working with chocolate.

My decision is based after making the above cake. This is 4 tiers tall, and everything you can see on the cake is chocolate and more importantly edible.

Cocooned in chocolate

Cocooned in chocolate

The whole cake is encased in pure white chocolate, which acts as seal to keep the cake moist underneath.

Once I had covered the cake I then went on to make the flowers. I chose roses and chunky looking cherry blossoms. I did make up a batch of pink chocolate to make flowers out of, however once I started to put the flowers on the cake, it just didn’t look right.

After making the flowers I made numerous chocolate fans to encircle the cake on each tier, that I would eventually place the flowers, cherries, leaves and banners on.

Some people paint the lettering on while the banner is on the cake, maybe one day I’ll do that. However at this stage I prefer doing the lettering while the chocolate is flat on some greaseproof paper. To do the lettering I used a candy colouring gel which is oil based, as the normal colouring pastes are water based and don’t work on chocolate as well.

Once all the elements were prepared, I then started to play. First went on the fans, then the banners. Followed by the flowers. Occasionally I would step back for the table and check the cake out from a different perspective, so that I could see what I needed to do next and where to put things.

What I love about using chocolate though is just how quick it is to assemble, once all the elements were prepared the cake only took a couple of hours to complete.

And Mr Hollipops says there is less washing up when I use chocolate than when I use fondant.

My favourite part of the this has to be the cherries. Fun to make, fun to look at and fun to eat. In saying that I don’t (apart from chocolate) have a particular sweet tooth and rarely eat my own cakes.

This cake has had the most positive attention from all the cakes I’ve done, it has done very well on Facebook. I even had a comment from Dan Lepard who is an award-winning baker, host of The Great Australian Bake Off who has said my little cake is beautiful.

For those who know me, I don’t usually handle compliments well, and usually brush them off with some sarcastic comment, or joke. In this instance I was genuinely shocked. I didn’t expect it to receive any comments, let alone from a professional baker, so it has made my day.

The Cherry cake is displayed at Sandra V’s in Tecoma. Sandra has a 1950’s vintage store, it has so many cool things in there, from shoes, dresses, poodle skirts and much, much more. She recently made me a 50’s type apron (image below), which you can have custom made to your needs. She can also make dresses & skirts. Sandra is a very talented lady when it comes to a needle and thread. The window display is all for our up and coming Mothers Day on the 12th May. So pop along and see if you can grab your Mum something beautiful from Sandra V.

Sandra V handmade apron. Loving the Heart :)

Sandra V handmade apron. Loving the Heart 🙂

It’s fairly quiet on the cake front for the next few weeks, which is a blessing as I am in training for a 50 kilometre walk – called Go The Extra Mile, which raises awareness for Teen Suicide.

Last Sunday myself and my friend walked 42.3K (Marathon distance) our last big walk for our training. We now get to taper down the distances, so this week we’ll walk 25k. Which will give my toes a much-needed break from blisters!

In the meantime, I have yet to test drive the BOSCO mixer, so I had better find a really cool recipe and give it a whirl. Looking forward to putting up my review for all to see. I like the fact that BOSCO is Australian owned.

My next blog will have the muesli recipe, as I couldn’t find the notepad that I had written the recipe for this blog.

Until next time, happy baking 🙂

Every Mixer Needs A Name, What Should Mine Be Called??

Bosco AS1200HD Multifunction Stand Mixer

Bosco AS1200HD Multifunction Stand Mixer – image supplied by Bosco Appliances.

Above is an image of my new toy, that I am expecting a delivery by the end of business hours tomorrow.

My little mixer that I purchased for $49 AUD has done well in the last 18 months, however it is now starting to protest when I start to mix larger quantities. So I have spent my time researching for a replacement. Looking at all the well-known brands and then stumbled across Bosco purely by chance.

The Bosco AS1200HD Multifunction Stand Mixer

Features:

  • Planetary mixing action.
  • Integrated suction cups on the base to ensure no movement during operation.
  • One Touch Button Automatic Dough Mixing with auto shut down.
  • Exclusive BOSCO double dough hook design for superior mixing and dough making (similar to commercial machines).
  • 4 programmed auto functions (just select a program and walk away)
  • Heavy Duty Die Cast Aluminium Housing All metal gears (front and planetary) and the gear box
  • Commercial Quality design and components
  • Sophisticated Automatic Electronic Controls with manual speed override.
  • Powerful 1200-1400 Watt motor
  • Head tilting mechanism with stainless steel reinforced arm for easy access and durability
  • Convenient one hand use “push and twist” attachments
  • Huge 6L mixing bowl made of fine stainless steel with ergonomic handle and transparent splash guard/cover
  • Robust heavy duty design to last for years
  • Overload protection
  • Up to 3 kg dry ingredient mixing capacity

Benefits:

  • Super easy to operate.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Blender, stainless steel bowl and cover are dishwasher safe.
  • Huge money-saving by having multiple appliances all in one.
  • Make your life in the kitchen much easier and pleasurable
  • Save kitchen bench space and kitchen cupboard normally used for all those appliances
  • New attachments coming soon
  • Make delicious healthy meals in minutes.
  • Save money by purchasing fresh ingredients and turn them into delicious meals with the help of your BOSCO kitchen machine
  • Great performance and reliability.
  • Heavy Duty Metal Construction Design built to last for years.
  • Makes any kitchen bench look modern and hi-tech.
  • Proudly Australian owned company.
  • After sale support even outside warranty period.

Details of the attachments included:

  • 1.5 L heavy duty glass design blender– with super strong stainless steel blades rotating at 19,000 RPM. Crushes ice in seconds. Can process hot/cold ingredients. Blends fruits/vegetables to completely homogenised consistency.
  • 0.25 L mini grinder – perfect for grinding coffee beans/nuts/herbs/spices or fruits/vegetables. Perfect attachment to make baby food.
  • Professional mincer with sausage making accessories – including 3 size dies (fine, medium and coarse) to grind fresh mince in seconds. Also includes kebbeh making attachment.
  • Set of pasta extruder dies – including angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, rigatoni. Cookie extruder attachment tool for 4 different types of cookie extrusions.

What’s in the Box:

  • AS1200HD stand mixer.
  • Blender attachment.
  • Mini Grinder attachment.
  • Whisk attachment.
  • Flat beater attachment- standard.
  • Double dough hooks.
  • Mincer attachment, feed tray with tamper, 3 mincing dies (fine, medium and coarse)
  • Pasta extruder dies.
  • Sausage tube.
  • Cookie extruder.
  • 6 litre stainless steel bowl with handle.
  • Splash guard.
  • Silicone Scraper Beater.
  • Operating instructions and quick reference guide.

To say I’m excited to test drive this would be an understatement!! I will be putting my review up on this blog in the next couple of days. As well as adding a link to Bosco Appliances.

The cost of the mixer is $439 AUD. Which is an amazing price, considering what you get for your money and considering the cost of other well-known brands, and that is before you start to add all the attachments.

So every great mixer needs a name, and I need help to find a name for this beasty. I would love to hear your suggestions.

Change of subject now, in the next week I have to make a cake to be professionally photographed to be put in a full-page ad for Melbourne Wedding & Bride Magazine. Which is an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it at first, and was thankful that I even got a phone call, when I know there are much better cake people out there than me. However I have decided to take a chance and go for it.

So I am currently trying to work out what cake design I want to do. I know that it will be chocolate as that is really the direction that I want to go in. And I can see cherry’s on the cake, big beautiful cherries, but that is as far as I’ve got. Definitely a work in progress. I will obviously put the cake up on the blog once I have finished. In fact I have to make 2 cakes as there is another ad in the same magazine, but this time I have to take the photo and add the words. No idea what I’m going to write! Or for that matter what cake design is going to be either. Deadline is on the 22nd April, so really need to be sitting down and working it out.

I will also be tweaking the blog. I am wanting to add food that is more than just cake. In the last 6 months or so I have started to make my own cleaning products, and starting to make our own breakfast muesli and bread. I want to become more self-sufficient, so to speak.

So I will be sharing, advice, tips, recipes and much more as I continue this journey. And I will be adding links that follow this same path.

On a personal note, Mr Hollipops is loving the muesli!! He has already gone through one container and is currently going through the 2nd container!

On the next blog I will add the muesli recipe and photos, as well as the Bosco Stand Mixer review. Keeping busy as always!

Until next time, happy baking 🙂

Giant Cupcake of Roses, 65th Birthday, DJ English Breakfast and many cupcakes

Giant Cupcake of Roses

Giant Cupcake of Roses

First of all I …. WOW! I’ve just noticed that I have had over 10,000 hits. I would like to say thank you to all who’ve had a look or sent lovely comments over the past 12 months. I never in my wildest dreams imagine that I would reach that many people from my little blog. So thank you xxxx

Right to the cakes.

The cake above is the giant cupcake of roses. This cake was made for eldest daughter’s birthday a few days ago.

It is chocolate cake (of course). Admittedly she did want a henna inspired cake. However due to an record breaking heat wave we’re experiencing in Melbourne presently it is hard enough to try and crumb coat without everything melting, let alone doing piping work. So decided to get the fondant out.

I started just playing around with roses, and ended up with 50 of them, I then placed them randomly on top of the cake.

My daughter’s friend who came to the house for a birthday sleepover had the very important job of making the leaves to finish the cake off. The last touch was a little lustre spray.

Back of giant cupcake of roses

Back of giant cupcake of roses

Next cake ….

65th Birthday cake/Retirement

65th Birthday cake/Retirement

This 65th Birthday/retirement cake was for our neighbour. His wife wanted to surprise him with a proper cake, and not one from a shop.

It was chocolate orange, as this was his favourite flavour, other than that I had free reign, but decided to keep it simple and classic using black and white.

Along the outside of the cake is a border of white fondant flowers with little silver balls.

Not only did I get to make the cake, but I also got invited to the party, where my girls spent the rest of the day playing and having fun making new friends. I had 2 very tired bunnies by the end of the day.

DJ English Breakfast Turntable Cake

DJ English Breakfast Turntable Cake

The next cake, is for DJ English Breakfast, he was turning 21. His Mum decided to commission a turntable cake.

Once I realised what his DJ name was, I had no option but to make bacon and eggs.

This is probably the most detailed cake I’ve done in fondant so far.

I hear on the grapevine that the cake went down very well, and his friends all took photos as they hadn’t seen a cake quite like it before. Not only that, but DJ English Breakfast’s younger brother now wants a turntable cake for his birthday in August.

It was a lot of fun to make.

Lace cupcakes

Lace cupcakes

Last but certainly not least, I decided to make some cupcakes for us to have at home. As it’s been a while since I made any cupcakes.

I wanted to practice my lace techniques, before incorporating the technique in the wedding cake for our renewal of vows in April.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

More cupcakes

More cupcakes

Leaf cupcakes

Leaf cupcakes

Looking back, I’ve just realised how busy I have been over the past few weeks.

The last job I have to do is prepare some glittery flowers for class cupcakes that I have to deliver this week. My girls will no doubt be covered in glitter by the end of the day. In fact I imagine that I will find glitter everywhere over the next few days. You’d be amazed just how far it spreads!

One other task is to make an Easter style cake. I have an idea, it’s just whether I can pull it off. I suppose I’ll just to have use my usual technique which is to ‘wing it!’

Until next time, happy baking 🙂

A Direction, A Hope, A Purpose, A Resolution, A Will

This is me

This is me

For the past year most of you would have only seen a photo of the back of my head. So I decided that with the new year, I would show you me in all my gory detail. Love instagram for having the ability to hide those imperfections.

I was born in 1977, raised in the UK. March 2003 I had my first daughter, and April that year I got married. In 2006 we decided to move to Australia. July 2008 I gave birth (after having 3 miscarriages in-between) to my 2nd daughter – and our first generation Aussie.

For most the new year brings about resolutions most of which will be broken by the end of January. I have made no resolutions, but have decided on some changes that need to be made, not just for the new year, but for life.

With some technical issues with my health last year, I have to continue my path to a better body. Mentally, physically, and spiritually. With exercise, healthy-ish eating (I can’t give up chocolate), and some time for me.

In the last few months I have been tinkering with homemade cleaning products, as I would like to cut down on the amount of chemicals. I’ve also managed to make a dog shampoo (ironic that I don’t own a dog). This shampoo has had great results, and so looking at other things I can do – detangler for you long hair dogs, and the baking continues with dog treats for bad breath.

Sample bottles - Dog Shampoo and Flea deterrent for pet beds

Sample bottles – Dog Shampoo and Flea deterrent for pet beds

The dog products require little physical effort, unlike the cakes. For me to go in this direction, there’ll be lots more planning, study and work. I don’t want to screw this up by not doing the appropriate research first.

I considered stopping the cakes. I’ve no formal training, I spend most of my time winging it, and there is the obligatory amount of self-doubt. They can take up lots of time, and you just know as soon as it comes to decorating my 2 daughters always kick off!

I have had to cut back, but have decided not to stop the cakes.

The thing is I love to make things, whether it’s cakes, general cooking, knitting (image below), cross stitch, crochet, other crafts, making the cleaning and pet products. I even have a recipe for anti wrinkle cream – yet to test. I just need to find a way to merge these all together. I need a business plan, I need a name, worked for Martha Stewart, why not me?

Work in progress - entrelac knitted cot blanket

Work in progress – entrelac knitted cot blanket. 3.75mm needles. 4ply 100% merino wool.

I have a book of my recipes for cleaning and other tips & tricks, which my eldest daughters jokingly calls my witches brews.

I come from a crafty family, my Grandad was an artist, my Dad is an artist, my brother’s art work can be seen in Sydney – his next show is in February. My Mum still does arts and crafts after running a playschool in the UK with her Granddaughters.

I have a purpose, a hope, a direction, a resolution, and a will to make this work, I just need that one sign or signal into how to make it all work together.

So there will be changes abound, which I for one am looking forward to. I am not going to sit on my arse and waiting for those changes, I will be making it happen.

Phoenix henna tattoo on my hand.

Phoenix henna tattoo on my hand.

Like the Phoenix henna tattoo I had done recently. From the death of old the phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes. And that’s exactly what I plan to do from the ashes of 2012.

 

 

 

Chocolate Winter Wonderland House

176There is something about working with chocolate that feels very organic.

I love how you can turn chocolate into anything, in fact I find it easier to use than fondant including turning chocolate into veggies!

Chocolate veggies

Chocolate veggies

Chocolate trees with angel, veggies and flowers

Chocolate trees with angel, veggies and flowers

This house was a special request for a local primary school, to raise end of year funds. I decided that everyone does a gingerbread house, but not chocolate. So I decided to go for a chocoholics dream 🙂

The walls are chocolate with rice krispies to give the structure strength. I made 2 sheets. I then carefully cut out the template that I had drawn up.

Putting together was a simple affair, using melted chocolate as a glue.

After that it was just a matter of making it look like a house. With chocolate windows, flowers, veggie patch, and adding a lot of lollies!!!

Before the chickens were made.

Before the chickens were made

The next morning I decided that we needed chocolate candy cane looking window frames, and I was missing a mother hen and her chicks.

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Chocolate Mother Hen and her chicks

Chocolate Mother Hen and her chicks

White chocolate and marshmallow chimney

White chocolate and marshmallow chimney

Chocolate door :)

Chocolate door 🙂

There is no cake inside, this was a hollow structure, it still weighed quiet a bit. I must admit I pulled a shoulder muscle carrying it up the hill to the school. Who needs the gym when cakes are my weights.

I also made a little chocolate Christmas scene for my daughters teacher for a small gift.

All Chocolate - A Mother hen's Christmas

All Chocolate – A Mother hen’s Christmas

Lastly – I’ve had a topsy turvy 2012, one that I would not wish to repeat, so I am looking forward to a new year, and a fresh start. And with that I would like to wish all that view my little blog a wonderful 2013.

Happy New Year to you all and to all a goodnight xxx