30 Oct 2011

Halloween Party - cupcakes and game ideas!

I planned a halloween party for church last night and have a few ideas and recipes to share with you.
Firstly our impromtu costumes:

 The scrubs we had borrowed from our dentist friend - they are very comfy for lounging round the house in. We googled how to make fake blood and the answer is soy sauce (we only had Lea and Perrins but it seemed to work just as well) and red food colouring. It didn't smell so hot, but it looked very genuine.

I made these cupcakes using toppers I got from ebay. I used the hummingbird chocolate cupcake recipe:
Chocolate cupcakes (recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery)
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g soft unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (although I probably used 3/4 tsp - slip of the hand!)

Chocolate frosting
3000g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, very soft
30g cocoa powder sifted
45ml whole milk

1) Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2) Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and butter in a large bowl and beat on a slow speed with an electric hand mixer until well combined and a sandy consistency. This is the messy part as the sugar flew all over the place!
3) Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla extract together in a jug and add half to the dry mixture.
4) Beat slowly to combine and then more quickly to beat out any lumps.
5) Add the remaining liquid mixture and beat slowly to combine. Do not overmix.
6) Transfer (I found semi-pouring/semi-spooning the best way to go as the mixture is quite slack) the mixture into the cake cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until they spring back to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean.
7) Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before frosting.

I used the perfect never fails me ever, vanilla frosting:
2 cups icing sugar
1 cup unsalted butter 
1 tablespoon milk
(Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes)

I added a few drops of green food colouring to make it more goolish. I also added a sprinkle of edible, gold glitter.

These babies below were pumpkin with cream cheese frosting. Excuse the pictures I was in a rush and had so much to organise and sort out before the party.

Here are some halloween games if you are planning a little party:

1) Pumpkin bowling was easy to organise and very cheap. We emptied six bottles of cheap lemonade (which we turned into witches brew with a little help from blackcurrant squash) and filled them with a handful of marbles. Then they had to bowl them over using a pumkin, it worked very successfully until one of the lads threw the pumkin too hard and it split and pumpkin guts spilt everywhere!

2) Another popular game around blogworld seems to be pin the heart on the skeleton. I painstakingly cut out each bone and laminated them and then we didn't even play it as there was so much going on and I'd lost the blue tac! The skeleton game pattern in available here.

 3) We also played a game where they had to transfer a bowl full of gummy worms from one side of the hall to the other, using chopsticks. We started it with one at a time but then I said they could do two at a time. This was a good laugh.
Let me know if you had a halloween party or link up your halloween costume ideas!
Happy halloween (for tomorrow!!)

27 Oct 2011

A winter warmer - Julia Child's Potatoe Soup

So day 3 of the trip will be broadcast shortly in blogland.
However for now I thought I'd share this soup I made to stave off the winter chills - is anyone esle sick of all of the rain outside?? How can the weather have changed so dramatically? Or is it just the North * shudder!*

Here is the recipe from the great foodie blog Mouth of Wonder:

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Hot soup and a cold winter day go together like nothing else. The smell of simmering onions in butter is like perfume to me. It's like culinary foreplay, if you will! This is a recipe from the queen herself, Julia Child, for the classic potato leek soup. Here’s an old joke my father told me a hundred times... “How do you make vichyssoise? First, you take a leek.”

3-4 cups of diced peeled potatoes (1 lb.)
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, including the tender greens
2 quarts water
1 Tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream or 3 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons minced chives or parsley

Simmer vegetables, salt, and water together, partially covered for 40-50 minutes in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Mash the vegetables into the soup with a fork or pass through a food mill. Julia does not like the texture of soup pureed in a blender, your call. Adjust salt and pepper. You can stop at this point. When ready to serve, bring soup back to simmering. Then off the heat, stir in the cream or butter and top with chopped chives or parsley. It does not get much better than that! Makes 2 quarts of soup for 6-8 servings


So have a go. It was super easy and super tasty. Let me know how it goes...

Day 2 Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove - thrifting!

My man had tickets for the NFL game in Wembley and so this was the girls day part of the trip and so obvs the best day!
The sun was shining down on us and we wandered around Notting Hill looking at the cute little boutique shops. I got a very cute purple owl print dress for a fiver at a bargain shop. Loving that! Will post it later as I plan to wear it to the next Iron Cupcake in a week.
So here is the pictorial overview of the day...
We stumbled upon this waffle eating contest at Wafflemeister. The guy in the hat (he called himself J.R) was Irish, very drunk (at 11 a.m) and great entertainment. He promised to eat every waffle on the table, but when the contest began he just daintily munched it, rather than going for it. They had to see how many they could eat in 3 mins. Guess what the record was? 2! How measly!!

Notting Hill Market - how cute are these?
Hummingbirds cupcake of the day - Strawberry donut. They were very tasty and even had a cute little donut on the top!

 If you like thrift / charity shops and live near London, then I recommend Westbourne Grove. They had really high end charity shops with lots of designer gear at bargain prices. My sister brought this gorgeous dress above and the lady in the shop said it had only come in two hours earlier, but she knew someone would snap it up! I may do a post on my charity shop bargains later. Would that interest you?

 We ended this perfect day at GBK. They do all sorts of offers and deals and we got two meals for a tenner, even though we didn't have the voucher with us! Mara ordered the kiwi burger and so she got a free drink as NZ had won the rugby at the weekend. She chose a lime milkshake - very much recommended. I had oreo which is always a great treat!
Phew what a day! When I am out with my family we always pack it in!
Day three coming later and some baking, including bannoffee whoopee pies!

26 Oct 2011

Who loves London in the sunshine?

Day 1 - London's Brick Lane
My sister Tamara and mum on the tube

Desert van - Mara said they make the best brownies. They do. Get yourselves to Brick Lane for one!

Halloween cake pops at the Experimental Food Exhibition

A photo of the London landscape made entirely of food

Food trucks on Brick Lane. So much choice.


I think these bikes are such a good idea - you just pay a pound and you can cycle it round London.

We went to check up on the progress of the Olympic stadium

I will post day 2 and 3 tomorrow!  

20 Oct 2011

Taking in the view...

Some self-timer pics. A much needed pit stop from the sweaty car. Mara was asleep and feeling sorry for herself in the car. Check out those hills. Inland San Diego on the way to Julian was the hottest and most desert like weather we encountered.
Completed using Shimelle's sketch of the week. I like circles.

15 Oct 2011

This week looked like...

Searching and pinning lots of exciting halloween treats for the party I am organising in the half term holiday. It will involve a spook alley, trunk n treat and apple bobbing. Cannot wait! It seems the shops have got really into it this year.
Finally getting round to cooking some of the meals I have been pinning of pinterest. Our fav so far was this yummy macaroni and butternut squash bake. Also the no bake and no butter macaroni cheese worked really well when we made it.

Due to a mix up with dates I ended up being observed TWICE this week two days in row. You only have to be observed three times a year at my school and you get given a rating between 1 - 4, it then goes in your PDR folder and is considered for pay rises and stuff. I had put so much into planning the first lesson that I didn't want to cancel it and Thursdays observation was non-negotiable as a lady was in teaching another colleague how to observe - phew! But the outcome was a good one and I got a 1 - OUTSTANDING for both lessons overall. I was very pleased with myself. Now I am lying in bed drinking lucozade and reading Heat magazine and I only usually save those two activities for when I am ill so I think it has knocked the wind out of me.
Here is a very cheesy pic of me in action (teaching not convalescing) which went into our school mag (much to my delight!) It is on my to-scrap list as I don't have many layouts about teaching and it's a big part of who I am...
Then (ever the glutton for punishment) I took 18 students to see Dr.Faustus last night in York. It was a hilarious, odd and quirky performance but I think it would really help them to understand the story and the comic elements. It was interesting as last year we took the other group to see one in Manchester and it was very intense and serious - I preferred this one and the kids were in stitches throughout!
What has YOUR week looked like?

10 Oct 2011

10 favourite presents...

As a weekend filled with cake, shakes and pressies draws to a close I felt it a good time to share with you all my ten favourite birthday pressies (in no particular order!)...

1) So comfy pj's from my mom - with apples on and everything

2) A recipe book with one batter and 100 different variations for pancakes and waffles

The cupcake adorned water bottle in the middle to keep me hydrated at school from a fellow teacher

A fisheye lens for my SLR from the boy

Perfume from my mom I was very put off by the naff name - Womanality, but it actually smells lush

Flowers from my friend Sally

Some crafty goodness from little sis

How cute are these shimmer eyeshadows? Thanks mom!

I'm dotty about these! Wore them to work on Friday and got lots of compliments!

With this gorgeous book I plan to make some of these....

Red velvet whoopie pies
So there you have it, are you 'well jell'? I am linking this up to Shimelle's ten on the tenth. Come and join in!

9 Oct 2011

Santa Cruz scrapping...

As the rain drizzles down bleakly in West Yorkshire this colour pallet stood out to me. Summer beckoning from afar. It reminded me of lemon tops, candy floss and fun fairs. So perfect for scrapping our day out at Santa Cruz Pier.

The studio October challenge
My summer layout
 Now play the spot the difference with the below layout from October Afternoon I pinterested it about  month ago and have been gagging to scraplift it ever since. Just check out that cute patchwork grid and the splatters. I had to watch a youtube (I have lost the link) vid to learn how to do it. I ended up using paint and an eyeshadow brush then did the splatters with glimmer mist - just flicking the wand.
Before our holiday I swatted up on my slr reading mags, blogs etc to see how to get really good pics and I was really impressed with the composition, angle and colour of the above pic of the ferris wheel.
The October Afternoon inspiration layout
I hope you like it as much as I do.

8 Oct 2011

My birthday week...

So I have been super busy celebrating my birthday over three seperate nights. The boy really spoilt me and even organised a (not so surprise) surprise party.
So the week looked like this -
  • A one year old's birthday party
  • A girly night at the Cheerful Chilli in Otley (my fav place to eat)
  • A romantic birthday meal at the Prashad (my new fav place to eat) it was even featured on Gordon Ramsey's best restaurants
  • A surprise milkshake party (check out the cool cups below) we tried some pretty cool combos. My fav is nutella and peanut butter - like a Reese's peanut butter cup.

This is my fav picture from the week:
I got a new fish eye lens for my slr but we are having some problems using it, I need to have another play I think.
Some layouts will be coming later, they are photographed just need to blog it.

2 Oct 2011

San Diego Zoo - going wild for photo love!

How do you fit nine whole photos on one layout?
With a little (or rather a lot) of help from Shimelle I have accomplished it.
 I will show you the steps towards it...

1) Pick a base cardstock and then staple, sew or double sided tape half a transparency

Then back up your photos so that you have two on each side and top them with some embellishment

These animal pics would have been too bland for a layout on their own
 The finished page with the little pull outs peeking out...

The staged final layout. Don't you love the little monkeys?

I will definitely be using this idea for future layouts as I always take too many pics and needed a technique to include them, but still have the best shot as the main focal point.

P.S San Diego Zoo is a fab day out and I would totally recommend it if you find yourself with a free day in S.D!
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