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Monday, 7 March 2011

More Scarves a surfer cake & a good luck cake!

 I've been making more scarves, this one was in a bargain bucket of the local wool shop again, its quite thready rather than feathery. I used a 4.5mm crochet hook and just stuck to double crochet for this one so I could see what I was doing. I think the wool is actually called "fancy". Its a little more straggley than the other stuff i've been using.
 This one is more of that feathery stuff, I got loads of balls of it in cream, white, baby pink and this kind of spring green colour. I used almost 3 balls on this one, its crocheted up quite heavy because its sooooo long. I used treble crochet and a 6.5mm hook as it the feathery bits were quite long and I wanted to be able to count my stitches as I went to make sure it was square not hourglass shaped when it was finished.
 This is more of the "twilight" wool which I got from poundstretcher. You cant see on the picture but it does have a silver thread running through it. Again it was one of my made up lengthways scarves. I couldn't recreate the pattern I dont think..... I know its circles in the centre with semicircles staggered and then large chains and a net "v" type stitch. Again I had quite a bit of wool leftover for this one (and its really long and quite wide too) so it got a bundle of tassles.
 This is what I did with the rest of the red twilight wool....a second scarf. Its just two rows of regular double crochet then one row where you crochet 2, chain 2 (and miss two stiches on the bottom) then repeat all the way to the end. I still had loads of wool left so did a layer of double crochet right the way round the outside and back to join the top row so it looks like a square border. 
This wool is from hobbycraft, my sister gave it to me its sirdar and its called persia - the wool looks blue on the picture but its actually a green/blue colour and is quite bobbly. It crochets up a bit like bobbly fleece. With this one having such a weird texture I just did double crochet. She's given me a massiv bag of loads of different kinds of wool so I will have to get going. Not long to the next craft sale now!!!!

This one is done using more of the poundstretcher "brights" this one is in a jade/jewel green....I did this in double crochet with a 6mm hook and did 6 dcs in one central hole and created a semi-circle pattern. I added tons of tassles because I had loads of wool left over.

I've also been on a bit of a bake-a-thon. One of my friends had a birthday - obviously, hence the need for cake. However for her birthday "party" she booked us all on a surf lesson.....bearing in mind its MARCH, we live not far from Newcastle and therefore the lesson would be IN THE NORTH SEA. I dont know if any of you have been in the North Sea in our part of the world.....but its something only us Geordies/Makems do, very similar to going out on the town without a December, and even then we tend to only do it in the height of summer, fully clothed and only upto our knees, waist if youre extremely young or very foolish or both. Plus it usually involves a soggy ride home on the metro if you go in that far. So we went, and I was terrified, I dont swim very well, I can swim but I dont unless I absolutely have to, I also am no good in the cold so was dreading it. Plus it involved getting my not so lean body into a wetsuit. That was not as much of a catastrophe as I thought because to be honest......none of us looked "Good" in a wetsuit, not even the pro instructors, they just looked more used to it. Although it was a fight to get into them with numb wet fingers, and just as much of a lession in exhaustion getting out of them, I really enjoyed myself. Although I am suffering now, I have "t-rex" arms. Not as in the band, but as in they are about as much use as t-rex arms to the actual dinosaur. They absolutely ache, if it weren't for the lack of swelling/bruising i'd swear they were broken. I have to be helped into any clothes that involve sleeves and wince if I have to reach behind me or raise my arms to more than about mid-chest height. But it was a lot of fun.

Anyway here is the birthday girl's cake. She requested a cat (she has a black cat called puddle) playing the sax (she's a music teacher and saxophone is her instrument of choice) on a surfboard.

Ok so I made the sponge cake in an oven was the only shallow and square pan I could find of a decent size that wasn't extortionately priced. It worked fine for the Hello Kitty Cake. Then I slathered it with buttercream once it had cooled (and while the top sandwich was baking in the oven). I like to use Stork for baking, I mix it with icing sugar and a little bit of cornflour and some milk to make buttercream. The jam was Aldi's own brand and was one of those 50% extra fruit so it was basically chunky strawberry mush instead of the usual jelly with one odd strawberry thrown in you usually get.

By this time the second cake had baked and cooled so I got started on my "Wave". I melted some chocolate over a pan of boiling water (because it always over-cooks and goes bitty when I do it in the microwave) and stirred in some oil to keep it a bit more liquid. Then poured in some rice crispies and mixed. I then got a can of pop out of the fridge and covered it in cling-film. I also covered the inside of a loaf tin with cling-film and squirted both the loaf tin and the wrapped up drinks can with some of that squirty oil. I then put the can in the loaf tin and fashioned the chocolate crispies mix over the top of the can and into the bottom of the loaf tin (only on one side, not fully covering the can). I put this in the fridge to cool. I then coated the top of the cake with the leftover buttercream and rolled out some of that fondant icing. I put a small square of yellow in the corner (or you could crush up biscuits) to make the sand and the rest in blue. I then modelled the cat and the sax out of the other colours I had and left them on the bench to air-harden a bit. I dusted them with cornflour on the bottom to stop them sticking to the board I placed them on to dry. Then I mixed up some blue food colouring with royal icing sugar and a drop of milk (gives a paler blue than water when mixed with food colouring).

Meanwhile the chocolate crispies were set. I lifted the drinks can & crispie mound out of the loaftin using the cling-film, then carefully pulled the drinks can off and then peeled off the cling-wrap. It worked, I made a wave shape. It was solid enough to stand up but light enough to balance ontop of the cake without squashing it. So I covered my wave in blue fondant icing and then stuck it in place on the cake with a smear of buttercream. I then dribbled the light blue royal icing all over the wave & blue icing to make it look like water. I halved a small chocolate chip brioche roll and covered it in red fondant roll out icing to make the surfboard and again stuck this down with buttercream. Last I added the cat to the surfboard (using the last scrapings of the buttercream) and used a drop of the royal icing to stick the saxophone shaped fondant to the cat's body. Then I finished off my wave by sticking mini marshmallows to it with the remnants of the royal icing. I used one of those squeezy flavoured icing pens (toffee I think) for the piping is horrific. et voila.....

The next cake was just a two layer sponge sandwiched with jam that I whipped up on Sunday while the oven was still hot after the yorkshire puddings for dinner. As I had used most of my icing stash on the cat cake, I had to just use jam in the centre (not enough buttercream) and I iced the top with buttercream (coloured with green food colouring watered down with milk to a more pastel colour) although it did end up more illuminous than I'd hoped. I used the last of the fondant icing to make a big shamrock for good luck. My sis was starting a new job on the Monday. Sprinkled with some orange & yellow stars and iced with another of those squeezy icing tubes...chocolate on this one. It didn't look too fab, but it tasted lovely...she kindly shared out wedges when we all went over the parent's for our traditional Sunday afternoon catch up. Yum Yum!
Oh and apparently Diabetes UK seem to think i'm running the Great North Run for them this year. I have no idea why...the only thing I can think of is that I wasn't paying much attention when I filled out the ballot form and ticked "which charity will you be running for" thinking it was a "which charities do you support". OOPs, it doesn't matter I suppose as its also a really worthy cause and my dad is a sufferer. And I mean an actual sufferer, he has had a nightmare trying to get his diabetes under control over the years and its still not quite right and experiencing a range of rather nasty side effects and they've been really helpful when he's called them up for advice. David can always run for guide dogs....or we can just do some other kind of sponsored event. I was thinking of palming off a load of cupcakes onto my friends to sell to colleagues at work or their kids schoolfriends. Or see if I can guilt a sweet shop into letting me shake a collection tin outside their stall.

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