Thursday, 27 December 2012

Last night I dreamt I was at a funeral

I was at a funeral but there wasn't enough room for all the coffins in the church so they were lined up in the park. And there was a man in the church who tried to play a song on his guitar and sing, but he couldn't because he was too upset.

(I also had this dream on 26th Dec)

Last night I dreamt I was on a bus trip

I was on a bus trip with a load of teenagers from a young offenders institute & I had to pretend to be one of them

Friday, 7 December 2012

Last night I dreamt I had a baby

Last night I dreamt I had a baby.
I didn't know I was pregnant, didn't seem to put on weight, didn't change my eating or drinking habits BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW and it just fell out one day.

It was a baby girl and Mr Lisa breast-fed it.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

MADE Cafe, Whitley Bay

Made Cafe, 31 Station Road, Whitley Bay, NE26 2QZ

I booked on 'Embroidery done cool' a half-day class at MADE cafe, Whitley Bay. I wanted to have a go at embroidery, in a safe environment, without having to buy all of the paraphernalia that goes with a new craft/hobby.

The half-day course ran from 10.30-1.30pm in the cafe, led by Jeannie - cafe owner, crafting queen and (after chatting to her) a workaholic too!

The other attendees arrived and we took our seats at the craft-table, towards the back of the cafe and spent the first few minutes taking in the homely craft lovers haven, home made pompoms above the till at the cafe, stencilled walls by the sewing machines, crafted wall-art, upholstered chairs, the cafe furniture was reclaimed and spruced up, an assortment of craft books/magazines gallore, a collection of material scraps. It was my idea of the kind of buisness I'd love to set up and run. I think we all were secretly a little bit jealous of Jeannie's craft-den, we all wanted one in our home.

There were four of us, classes kept small so that Jeannie can devote time to demonstrate and help each attendee.

And then the class began, introducing embroidery as its done today, not twee or old-womanish, this was different - taking templates and inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, made from anything.

Practicing my stitches

The light-bulb moment in the class....

Jeannie encouraged us to believe that there are no rules to embroidery; you can find a template and follow it - but how you follow the template is up to you, you choose the colours, the stitches etc.

It sounded wonderfully liberating, I could see that anything was possible, embroidery on artwork, clothes, cushions, bags. I could do anything, I just needed to let go of the doubt 'what ifs' and my (sometimes) perfectionist-ways...

I was expecting to have special material, special thread, special templates and expensive stuff. But no, it seems that embroidery today can be done on anything, with most things and it really doesn't cost the earth.

The material we used to practice basic stitches was just 'a pillowcase cut into pieces' - oh.

Jeannie talked about finding, creating and using templates - and also that it's fine to freestyle too (if the urge takes you), making it look so easy, and it was.

The perfectionist in me - kicking in

I'm one of those people who likes to make something for a reason, not for the hell of it, if I'm making this a gift then that's why I'm making it. I don't always see the value in creating something as a practice or to experiment because I'll need to find a place for it in my home....and then I'll need to think about 'where' its going to go, and make sure that its the right colour and style and shape....and there goes my OCD.

(I've gone back and re-read Jeannies lightbulb moment to calm myself down)

 Once we'd cracked the basic stitches we then set off on our own projects, a cloth bag and a pillowcase...I took up a piece of patterned fabric and wanted to practice my stitches, so followed some of the shapes and colours on the material to embellish the original image and to practice the stitches I'd learnt during the morning.

Chit chat

I can see why there are groups for crafting, knitting etc, its not just about creating something beautiful by hand, its also about the social side of things. We were five complete strangers when we arrived, but the conversation flowed, chatting about what were were making, asked each other about what colours we'd choose, what stitch to pick and just enjoyed being amongst people who love to create stuff. We talked about other things we'd done, mosaic tiling, candle making, paper-quilling, card-making, brooch making. Between us we were quite a creative bunch. I felt that they had bags more experience than me, and wondered whether my perfectionism and OCD was holding me back?

Coffee (& cake) time

Coffee break

There was mid-class tea/coffee from the cafe delivered to the craft table with home made raspberry and white chocolate
We were all in agreement that we loved what Jeannie and her husband had done with the place.

Home time

The class was due to finish at 1pm, I didn't leave until 1.40pm, neither did the others - we'd just had such a great time we wanted to stay all afternoon, there was no rush for us to leave but we couldn't really stay as Jeannie had another class starting at about 2pm.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Newcastle's FIRST Gingerbread House Competition

It's been 6 months (or more) since Cakebook, and I've decided it's time to do something else food related....I've built The Bridge Hotel (Cakebook 2010), Bamburgh Castle (Cakebook 2011) and St Mary's Axe aka The Gherkin (Cakebook 2012).

Bridgehotel complete2
The Bridge Hotel Bamburgh Castle The Gherkin

And now I want to get everyone building Gingerbread Houses....

Yes - I'm that bloody woman tweeting and retweeting about The Gingerbread House Challenge

Open to EVERYONE, it's a chance to build and decorate a house made of Gingerbread (which could be a castle, a cottage, a tent a bungalow or even a shed!!)

There is an entry fee, and profits from the event will be donated to The Sick Children's Trust

And there is a limited cakeboard size so it won't get as big as cakebook - but it should be good fun to take part in and see...

Gingerbread Houses will be brought together to Newcastle City Library on Sunday 2nd December, 2.30-5pm where they will be judged and prizes awarded to the best looking house on the street!

More information is available on the website
Or follow @GingerbreadHC on twitter or find out more on Gingerbread House Challenge on facebook

I hope my fellow cakebook builders will support the event, I know a few regular cakebookers have already signed up.

To take part - gingerbread house builders need to book their space on Gingerbread Street (in advance of the event) - more information on the website

We still need people to help on the day, donate prizes and book their plots on the street!

Any questions about the event or the competition - please contact Lisa Vincent:
Twitter @GingerbreadHC

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Last night I dreamt I was on flight to Miami

The flight was to Mexico, I was only going to Miami, somewhere I've never been to in real life. And I've never been to Mexico either.

Anyway, I was on this flight and realised that the flight attendant was Lyns, a lass we knew, she was flying with her fiance Phil & her little boy Matthew. They were going for a little bit for a holiday. And out of nowhere, I found a toy for the kid to play with, a telephone on wheels (see pic).

Then it turned out that rock band Muse were also on the same flight, in the same section of the plane as me. At some point in the flight I ended up crimping card  (a crafting technique that I've never done before) with Chris from Muse. I don't know if he was into card crimping, but he seemed to know what he was doing.

Then later in the dream, probably another dream, my friend Lynne was getting an outdoor kitchen installed, I think she was being ripped off, cos it looked just like a shed. And I told her that her shelves would be full of spiders. The other thing I should mention is that Lynne isn't really into her cooking, which made the outdoor kitchen installation all the more silly.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Alternate Day Fasting: Falling OFF the bandwagon

I tried it for 3 weeks and decided that it wasn't for me.
That was all I wanted to do 'try it' to see if I could sustain that style of eating.

Why it didn't work for me

  • Week one was 'novelty week' - understanding what 500 calories a day looked like (& tasted like), I was suprised how little there was.
  • Week two felt like a constant search for recipes (using ingredients I would normally buy), sure scallops are low calorie foods, but who can afford to eat scallops twice a week for the rest of your life
  • At the end of week two I was making the most of the normal eating days, and when I mean 'making the most of' I actually mean overeating to compensate
  • I felt like I was constantly thinking about food, I felt down and my morale low
  • Week three I had lost weight, but I wasn't motivated to continue
  •  I decided that porridge for dinner was unacceptable and not sustainable (long term)
I've dieted on and off over the years, and found that when I'm not dieting I'm so much more content because I don't think about food.  When I'm on a diet I'm constantly looking at the list of 'forbidden' foods and that's all I can think of. I become obsessive, depressed and I'm not a happy bunny.

So I've decided, Alternate Day Fasting is not for me.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Last Night I Dreamt I was on the toilet

Last night I dreamt that I was sat on the toilet having a wee that lasted for ages.

My sister was in the bathroom at the same time and we were having a chat.  But then she got impatient, I think she needed to go too.

But it was one of those wees that started, flowed, stopped, but then after another squeeze I got another 30seconds of flow.  I must have started and stopped about 5 times.

Note: when I woke up, I had NOT wet the bed (just in case you were wondering)

Monday, 15 October 2012

The new Muse Album - The 2nd Law

Just thought I'd get a few thoughts down about what I think (at the moment) about the new, hotly anticipated (as it always is), Muse album.

Well it's different.
 And at the moment I'm not sure if I can confidently say 'good' different or 'bad' different.

Muse The 2nd Law album cover
I've had it since 1st October and have listened to it a fair few times. But I still can't make up my mind.

There are some good tracks (some deep bassy and have an unavoidable toe-tapping beats, like Survival) and some okay tracks. Nothing blew me away.

There's one song, Panic Room, which makes me think, Queen: Hot Space (which is one of their poorer albums) and I think Chris Young* would understand why I think this. If I'm making this comparison - am I tarring the album with the same brush?

I wanted a truly great album and I got something that I can't fully explain how I feel about it.
The last album, Resistance, had some really banging sounds and their beautiful symphony 3-parter piece at the end was beautiful.

But this new album isn't really doing it for me, there's some Pendulum-esque tracks, a James Bond theme in there, some odd fillers in the middle (what's with the slap guitar sound?, or whatever you call it).

Today I've had to catch a listen of Knights of Cydonia to remind me that they have done some good heavy rocky stuff (that I like). It's been like visiting an old friend.

At the moment it's not quite done it for me, It must be a slow burner' - might need to revisit or reblog when I know how I feel about it.

So here's Knights of Cydonia from YouTueb, to remind me that they've done some really good stuff...

*Chris Young a colleague, and also a massive Queen fan

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Lookalikes: A man on metro and bloke from Emmerdale

There's a man who commutes on the metro from West Monkseaton who looks like that lovable old rogue and Antique Dealer, Eric Pollard, from Emmerdale Farm.
Normally when I do a lookalike posting I'll add a pic of the person and the celebrity, but in this case I'm not taking a pic of Eric Pollard, because I don't want to appear to stalk him

Monday, 1 October 2012

On the bandwagon...Alternate Day Fasting aka 5:2

I've been interested in this for a while, ready some of the 'info' googled some of the blogs, and researched 'what can i eat for 500 calories' and '5:2' and 'Alternate Day Fasting' and talked to my boss (he's currently doing it), before deciding that this eating style can actually work with my lifestyle.

I also needed to convince Mr Lisa that it's not a fad and that it wouln't interfere whatsoever with what he ate either (he doesn't want to do it) and it wouldn't take over our lives 'I can't eat that, I've eaten all my points/sins/naughty-foods today'

It's not a diet. I'm not seeing it as a diet. It's an eating habit, like regular exercise should be.
It seems like it will fit into my working week; I'll often get stuck into a project at work and before I know it it's about 2.30pm and I'll think oh I've not stopped for lunch I won't be hungry, I'll just eat something because I think I should.  So, for me it's going to work for me during the week.

How does it work in practice:

For 5 days in the week you'll be eating what you normally eat and for 2 days you'll eat 500 calories each day.  There's lots of research about it having long term health benefits.  But for me, I want to lose some weight but without it taking over my life.  I can survive 2 days a week, and I'm sure I can find (or come up with) some really nice low calories meals to eat.

When did I start: Monday 1st October 2012 (first fast day Tuesday 2nd)

Ladies don't reveal their weight in public, so next week I'll reveal the weight-loss (if any).  That way I can celebrate (success) without giving too much away.

  1. Download an app for recording calories: My Fitness Pal - good for checking calorie content and making sure I keep to my 500 calories.  It also scans barcodes too. And I only use this on fasting days.
  2. Decide in advance which days will work for you: Mondays and Thursdays are good for me (some weeks it might be Tuesdays and Thursdays)
  3. Don't do 2 consecutive days - It'll kill you (it would me)
  4. Don't do your fasting days when you've got exercise classes (see above)
  5. Plan your meals on 'fasting' days
  6. Work out when your really hungry points are during the day and adjust your eating to suit.  For some reason it's 4pm for me.


There will probably be a surge in websites/blogs/books which offer 5:2 menu plans, but for now I'm googling and reading blogs, I might even put some recipes in here, but for now it's just a few links to a few recipes I've found:

Keep going: 

To form a habit you need to keep doing it for 21days (or thereafbouts).
So I'm going to use this free online tool to help me:

Sunday, 30 September 2012

My new BADGER-print t-shirt

I bought myself a badger print T-shirt from Marks & Spencer last week
Its getting its first outing today
So far I'm very pleased with it.
It was £19.50 if you were interested.

Badger print t-shirt

It reminds me of The Badger Song which you can view here....

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Last night i dreamt about Cornish Pasties

Last night I dreamt I had to give a talk about the differences between Gregg's Cornish pasties, versus Betty's Cornish Pasties. I remember saying that the Betty's ones were hand made and hand crimped, and the Gregg's ones were greasy and wet.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

When i was in the lake district...

When I was in the lake district and out in the damp evening, on my way back to my b&b after dinner, I saw the biggest slug I have ever seen. It looked like a dog poo. I shit you not.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Who built the ark?

sailing holiday may june 09 135This is a song from my childhood (probably Primary School) that I've just remembered
Who built the ark?
Noah Noah
Who built the ark?
Brother Noah built the ark.
Now in come the animals, two by two
A hippopotamus and a kangeroo
Who built the ark?
Noah Noah
Who built the ark?
Brother Noah built the ark.
Now Noah said "Now shut that door"
The rain started pouring "and we can't take more"
Who built the ark?
Noah Noah
Who built the ark?
Brother Noah built the ark.
We weren't really supposed to sing the Bum-bum-bum bit, but we were kids, so we did.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Yorkshire Way: protecting hand held digital devices

For the last 2 yes I've had my HTC mobile phone in a sock.
A real sock.
A real sock made for some kid.
Phone Sock & Nexus 7 Sock IN
My gadget socks (gadgets INSIDE)

When I got my phone I decided that I wasn't going to be ripped off by buying some cheap plasticy cover for it and felt that a sock would do the job perfectly.

I have to give credit to my boss at this point for introducing the idea, he put the work-camera in a sock to protect it from scratches. BUT. He used a thin sock. 

I decided that for ultimate protection I needed to have my phone in a towelling sock, or one that had towelling on the inside. Boots the chemist didn't let me down, I got 2 pairs of Baby towelling socks for the bargain price of £2.99 and the beauty of a sock is that you can wash one and use the other, with 4 socks (I had 2 pairs) I could even pretend that a pair had gone on holiday!

Phone Sock & Nexus 7 Sock OUT
My gadget socks with their respective gadgets (OUTSIDE)
As it happens I only use one pair for my HTC phone and I got rid of the other pair. But it does the job perfectly and the soft fluffy towelling innards are great for polishing the screen (especially when you give your phone to your 4yr old niece who wants to play on the drum kit app).

When I got my new Nexus7 I knew exactly what kind of cover I wanted for it, I'd just buy a grown-up towelling sock for it (why not?). I did toy with the idea of buying a flannel-mit and sewing a button & loop over the end, but a stretchy sock seemed to hug the gadget much better giving it much better protection. Plus I'd have to buy 2 flannel-mits. 
So here we are, little diddy sock for my phone and grown up sock, which I've named Bagpuss for my Nexus7, what's not to like about that?

PS Yes, that is Mavis Cruet on my HTC desktop

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Clandestine Cake Club: Wed 22nd August, 1st yr celebration at Settledown Cafe

Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday Clandestine Cake Club Newcastle, happy birthday to us.

We held our 1yr celebration in The Settledown Cafe and had over 30 cake bakers/friends celebrate the occasion.

Why The Settledown cafe? It was the venue for my first ever CCC, I remember it well...4 bakers (me, Kate, & Val (plus some other woman who never came back), 4 bakers friends, 4 cakes. We sat around the communal table in the cafe and had a full size slice of each cake. I remember the fullness, the happy sticky cakey feeling inside. The sugar rush.  That was the start, and look at us now.

There should be a settledown cafe in every town, a cosy cafe with mismatched furniture, it's own retro living room snug and great staff who know their tea and coffee and nothing was too much trouble.  We ate off full sized dinner plates but we didn't mind - we were there to celebrate with cake, and we well and truly did that.

Our theme was 'cakes worth celebrating' which seemed to spell super-size cakes, there were cake presents (wrapped up with an icing-bow), a 6-tier rainbow and a black forest gateau (the size of the black forest), meringue cakes, glittery cakes, a chocolate hedgehog cake - who didn't have one of those for their birthday as a kid? a trifle inspired cake, a bee-day cake (b-day, birthday? made with honey, as in honey-bee, geddit?), cakes with candles, cakes with hundreds & thousands, a torte as well as the cakes that CCC is known for: magical flavour combinations like kiwi, white chocolate & lemon, chocolate & lime, lavender and orange, upside down cake of blueberry and elderflower to name but a few.

IMG_1701 IMG_1685 IMG_1684
IMG_1683 IMG_1710 IMG_1711
IMG_1783 IMG_1794 IMG_1700

We had 18 cakes in all, which meant there was plenty left to go in our party bags and enjoy over the weekend. I made special cake labels to colour in too, which went down very well too - everyone kept inside the lines ;) everyone took time to colour in their label according to their cake.

Our designated cake pap Hanna - did a great job in snapping the occasion (in return for cake), and they're online in my flickr account

We had 5 new cake club bakers: Judy, Maddie, Kitty, Bryan and Claire (new organiser of the Jesmond & Gosforth Group)

Thanks to Settledown for hosting us again - we hope we weren't too much trouble for you.
Thanks to all of our bakers and their friends for coming along too.

Another successful cakey event :)


Friday, 31 August 2012

Tyne & Wear Metro fact

I tweeted this the other day, but also wanted to blog it too, just in case I forget.

"When drivers change @My_Metro trains the 1st thing they do is blow into the microphone before closing the doors #MetroFact" (Tweeted on 29th Aug 2012 by @loopygirl)

Fashion prediction...petticoats & slips

I predict that petticoats and slips will make a fashion comeback in the next 5yrs.

That is all.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

I might have been a left-handed assassin

I can't be sure, but I think I could have been an assassin in one of my previous lives.

When I'm walking along I notice my left hand naturally curls into a gun-holding shape, with my finger on an invisible trigger.

I've never held a real handgun, and in this life would take any weapon right-handed.

I don't know any more than that.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Rhubarb Gin

If you're a follower of this blog you'll know that last year I made Sloe Gin using sloes I picked on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales.  I'd never made sloe gin before and was VERY please with the results.

If you're not a follower of this blog. Why the hell not?

Anyway, as my sloe gin worked out a treat (and I mean, a real treat), I thought why not try the same recipe but substituting sloes for other fruits, particularly those that need a good amount of sugar to wake them up a bit.

This led me to my trusty allotment and my rhubarb, of which I've got quite a lot of 'inherited' varieties and a limited amount of freezer space...And I got thinking...sloe gin....rhubarb gin? Thus, rhubarb gin was born.

The experiment began 10wks ago based on a Nigel Slater recipe (see the original sloe gin recipe from the blog) or just read the recipe below...

11 Apr 2010 Rhubarb IMAG0482
Just Picked Just Bottled (day1) Just Sampled (wk10)

Ingredients (makes 1x ltr bottle)
  • x1 1 litre bottle
  • 500ml of gin (non-expensive), I used Gordon's (he was okay when I asked him)
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 300g rhubarb stalks, washed & cut into fingers (make sure they fit through the bottle)
  • Put into the bottle, gin, sugar (you might put the lid on here and shake it a bit), and then the rhubarb, and put the lid on again.
  • Shake the bottle until the sugar dissolves.
  • Store the bottle somewhere cool and dark.
  • Each week shake the bottle to mix everything up.
  • Continue your weekly shake for 10weeks, the longer you leave it the better it gets.
At 10weeks, Monday  13th August, I gave it a taste, taken in a small glass (no mixer, no ice).  I wanted to get a feel for the taste.

The smell is quite something, sweet rhubarb, which suprised me - as I didn't cook the rhubarb at all.  But it smelt like freshly cooked rhubarb crumble type rhubarb smell.  Rhubarb picked from the allotment doesen't really have a smell IMHO.

It has a faint pinky colour to it - again this was a suprise because the rhubarb stalks I used weren't particularly pink either.

And the's good. Oh, it's very good.  I could easily drink too much of it without realising.

First you get the fresh sweetness of sweetened rhubarb stalks, not overpowering at all which is followed by a smooth mellow warmth all down your throat (that's the alcohol).

Mr Lisa was very pleased too, he said "That's magic that is"

As with Sloe Gin, the longer you leave it the more it improves.
I don't think this bottle will last long, but I'll be making more.

That's Christmas presents sorted then!

I also plan to experiment with Elderberry Gin...same recipe, substituting sloes/rhubarb for Elderberries.  Full report (as usual) to follow.

Why not vodka? I stopped drinking vodka about 2yrs ago due to an unfortunate incident which involved, vodka, a taxi ride to the airport and a flight to Paris for my birthday.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The best cupcake I have EVER eaten

I've eaten a few cupcakes in my time and I've made some myself, but what disappoints me about cupcakes, and made me stop buying and making them, is cupcake icing.

I've had it too: sweet, sickly, overpowering, over-flavoured, under-flavoured, crunchy, chalky, overdone.

I could name names of places to avoid, but I'd rather tell you about the best one I've had to date, as of Friday 10th August 2012.  

You know when you get to a point in the day when only something cakey will do?  Maybe you've not got a sweet-tooth like me.  But today, I really wanted to have something sweet to eat.  It was Friday, it was lunch hour, so why not...

I trundled off to the town and considered the cake-options, cupcake, slice, traybake, muffin, flapjack...But then I remembered Pet Lamb Patisserie in Newcastle Grainger Market, I've heard about their cupcakes, but never been one to fall for the hype, or get excited about cupcakes, I've been there, had a go, eaten my fair share and nearly written them off as a cake that's had its moment...

But given the recent recommendations from C_Newts NellysCupCakes and LaurenPrince, 3 reliable and trusted cake afficionados, who were very excited about getting some (cupcakes) from the new shop at the weekend, I thought to myself...I want a bit of that....

Pet Lamb Patisserie have (until now) baked & sold at food/craft events across the North East and have only just (as of last Saturday) taken up permanent residence in the Grainger Market.
Grainger Market is now one of the cities hotspots for some of Newcastle's best local independent retailers in: ingredients, foods, breads, pizza (by the slice), coffee, homemade, handbaked and handmade. We're very spoilt in Newcastle.

Pet Lamb Patisserie, photo tweeted by @PetLambGirls

But back to my cupcake.

I've never had a Pet Lamb Patisserie cupcake. So when I bought one from their Kitch, retro shop (at the Wilcos end of the market) I was hoping that everything I'd heard about them was true, that they made really great looking and great tasting cupcakes...

My salted caramel cupcake was, well, just so delicious...So much so I've given it the accolade of The Best Cupcake I've Ever Tasted.

The BEST cupcake I have EVER tasted
The cake was light, soft, not too sweet, not too big. The topping was really really good too (note, 2 "reallys" in one sentence).

And as I said at the start, it's the icing that can make or break a cupcake.

This one had a perfect amount of beautifully soft, smooth, light icing.

I'd love to get my hands on their secret recipe, my cupcakes have always been too buttery, too sugary or too sweet and I've never found the right balance.

It was also the perfect Friday afternoon treat.

I'm definitely going back to Pet Lamb Patisserie for another cupcake, but maybe I'll try a different flavour, watch this space...

Find them on facebook:

Last night I dreamt my friend Kath had her baby...

My friend Kath is pregnant and now 6 days overdue.
Her facebook updates are keeping us entertained with statuses from the baby's viewpoint Stewie-esque (Family Guy).
Last night I dreamt that she'd had her baby, I was sent a text and then went to see her.
She'd had a little boy, which she called Ioan (after the actor Ioan Gruffudd who starred in the TV series Hornblower).  No matter how many times she spelt it out of me to write down I always got it wrong, and couldn't pronounce it either.
I also remember saying, where's big fat Kath gone?
Apparently she's not had the baby, so my dream wasn't a premonition.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Fifty shades vs Forever by Judy Blume

I can't believe the hype, hysteria and hormonal hyperbole surrounding this book (or books).

My sister hasn't read since school, but she's reading it.

It's amazing that a book with a saucy reputation has got people, who don't normally read, to read.  And in ye olde fashioned paperback too.

I can't comment on the content, style, structure, characterisation or leit motifs, because I haven't read it.

All I want to say is, I've never heard of a book so popular since Forever by Judy Blume.  When everyone of the age of 12 at my secondary school wanted to read it.  All I remember is that it was the first sexual encounter in a fictional book I'd ever read and Judy Blume was a teenage-fiction writer, not your Mills & Boon-esque genre.

I don't remember the main characters names but the girl in the story referred to her boyfriends penis as RALPH.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Gherkin - the big build

After discovering that the cakes had defrosted and squished down on the broom handle we decided that we should trim it, so that it didn't poke out of the top of the cake.

Rather than cutting it, and covering the cake in sawdust, we carefully unscrewed the wooden post (from underneath the board), and Mr Lisa went into the gargage to cut it. I then began replying to someone on twitter when i noticed the cake lean, and again, and again. I put my phone down and grabbed the cake stack.

Mr Lisa came back and we tried to stick the pole back down the pile of cakes and screw it back in.  BUT this didn't work, the clingfilm which was on the pole had slid off into a big pile at the bottom.

We HAD to dismantle the stack (in blocks of 7), slide the clingfilm out, wrap the pole in tin foil (which works so much better than clingfilm), screw the pole on, and restack the cakes.

This took about 20mins, and made me all slightly panicky and worried that we'd nearly lost him (the gherkin).

Recreating the twisty windows & icing the cake
The next job was to cut strips of greaseproof, pin them to the cake (with cocktail sticks) recreating that quirky twist.  Once that was done all I had to do was take a piece of greaseproof off and replace with a strip of icing (freshly rolled from the pasta machine).

Mr Lisa laid out the strips and got them twisted around the cake, in the correct formation, overlapping evenly and getting it ready for me to take over with the icing (and so he could go out).

That was fine, the icing through the pasta machine, trimmed to the size of my greaseproof strip worked a treat until about 3/4 of the way round when I realised that there were 16 strips of greaseproof.  I was working to 15, grey-grey-black, grey-grey-black.

So rather than start again (which I could have done,  because I bought far too much icing), I carried on, but made the strips wider.  When I got to the beginning again, I replaced some of the first strips with wider strips.

The top-bit was done by Mr Lisa when he came back, I was losing patience with rolling a piece out for the top, cutting the V-shaped notches and getting it to hang, without me making a pigs ear of it, and fortunately Mr Lisa got it to work.

We also noticed that the cakes had sunk even more.

Piping icing
The last bit of the cake involved piping the icing for the diamond windows, in one direction (following the joins of the icing) and then in the other direction, taking the lead from the top of the building and trying to swirl around evenly.  This really showed off my amateurish skills, with my wobbly lines and uneven windows, but to be honest, I loved doing it - it felt so relaxing and I actually heard myself whisper to the cake "I love you"

Mr Gherkin was completed at around 7pm
I have 4 x 250g of grey icing left and 4x250g of black icing left.

I also had my phone camera set up, taking a photo every minute, I'm trying to find a way of putting them all together into some kind of animated show (I need to ask some geeky people about this first).

It weighs an absolute tonne.
But it is the gherkin!!


Monday, 16 July 2012

Cracker 1997-2012

We got you from a farm just outside Stokesley (North Yorks), I say we, you was my brother's dog (& responsibility). My brother had proved that he could look after a couple of pigeons, so a dog wouldn't be much more work. And the main intention would be thatyou would be a farm-dog, living in the pigeon sheds (the ones without pigeons living in them) and keeping guard.

For the first few months you lived in the house, getting used to people and eventually moved to the garden to stand guard and look after the pigeons.

You were never a yappy dog.

Everyone said that of Jack Russell's - they're right yappy dogs. But you never were.

I remember when you came in the house, pre-walk you'd have a daft moment when you'd run round the living room jump on the sofa, run to the end and jump off to finish your lap - it was hilarious to watch.

You did the same when we bumped into that old lady on the fields, she brought her 2 Jack Russells, one was old and stayed on a lead in her hand, every time you went close to it it would growl at you, but the other dog would tease you, and you'd both go off for a mad-run around the field.

Another time I took you for a walk there, in the field behind the old people's home, you went off on a run. Each time you'd come back, but then you didn't. I called your name out loads, and loads and loads. I went home without you, worried sick. Mum asked if I'd lost you, she said she heard me shouting.

We rang one of the nearby farms, and you were there. My brother was friends with one of the lads at the farm, and often took you ratting at the farm, so you knew your way there - you worried me sick!  You left me in that field, running across another 3 fields to get to that farm.

You were a good rat catcher, "shek it Cracks" we'd say, and you'd roll and flip your head to shake (shek) the rat and break its neck dead. If we annoyed you with a soft toy you'd do the same to the toy.

You liked people.
You never growled at people.
You weren't a licky or jumpy dog either, you'd just sniff for any scraps you could scrounge.

You were a master of cunning and escapology.
You went through a spurt of escaping from the garden, and turn up at the pub around the corner or my sisters house. My mum and dad stuck a video camera up in the greenhouse and filmed one night, it didn't take long for you to go to the bottom of the garden, shimmy up the brick wall and drop down a good 10ft into the local primary school playground.  You must have done it a good half a dozen times before dad put a stop to it.

You ended up on a lead with an aerial wire running from the pigeon loft to the greenhouse, there was a huge space in the middle for you to run around.  And when I came to see you I'd let you run loose.  But your escaping days were over.

That didn't stop you doing things like wrapping yourself around a tree, you didn't realise that you could untangle yourself if we went around it in the opposite direction.  Daft dog.

When you stretched out, you sounded like you were saying "hello"

One of your first tricks was to bark, as if to say "please" generally when there was food around.
We'd say, "what do you say?"
And you'd say "woof"
And we'd say "good boy" and give you the food.

You were called Cracker, but you often responded to anything beginning with "Cr" at the start, like Cricket, Crapper, and Cracky.

You were a great footballer, when you had a full sized football to play with you'd nose it around the garden, barking & wagging your tail at it as if to say, come and get it then.  And when you stopped with the ball you'd get your long filmy tongue and try and lick the entire side of the ball. You had a long tongue for a little dog.

You liked tennis balls too, and do a version of 'fetch' which involved getting the ball (usually a tennis ball) and stopping about a metre away, you'd sit with it, and as soon as we approached to get it off you, you'd leggit to a safe distance, stop and wait again. 

You didn't really like water, bath time (used to happen in the house) but we found that we spent that much time picking you up and putting you back IN the bath it was easier doing it outside in a baby bath in the yard.

You were a big softy really, I once took you for a walk and we walked past Boris a local cat who lived nearby.  Boris curved his back up, hissed at you and then went for you, you just fell onto your back in to submission, it was very embarrassing, I had to pick you up and walk aoof with you tucked under my arm, until we were a safe distance away.

My brother once had a couple of ferrets, they were good fun. If you let them loose on the lawn you'd have to watch that they didn't run off. Normally they'd catch you and annoy you, when they got too boisterous and you'd put them in their place.

You were a lovely calm, quiet dog. Not jumpy, not yappy.

Just a lovely, stinky, friendly dog.

You loved a good belly rub and whatever goodies we could pinch from the fridge for you.

You were old, you weren't well, it was better going to a vets than anything else.

We loved you Cracks xx


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Cakebook 2012 - The big event

Today was Cakebook 2012, at Gateshead Stadium (a change of venue due to the amount of rain we've had recently), the change of venue didn't put the bakers off, and didn't put the visitors off either.  It turned out very well actually.

The Gherkin was carefully wrapped in clingfilm, loaded into the footwell of the car (and I sat beside it in the back, keeping it steady as we made the journey from NE25 to NE10.

I felt kind of sad, knowing that he wouldn't be coming home...A bit like when you take a pet to the vets to be put down...

But then I thought about how much joy he would bring by being at Cakebook and being EATEN at cakebook and told myself that he would be fulfilling his destiny.

The event was organised superbly (as always): cakes arrived, booked in, had their photos done and were then positioned on a giant map of the UK, when the regions were 'complete' they were finished with icing roads, bourbon biscuit pavements, icing cars and hundreds and thousands 'space'.

There were various entertainers: men with knitted beards, live music, cooking demonstrations for kids, and a variety of food stalls.  The food sellers probably did a cracking trade, I had a great tasty burger from The Feathers Inn, but waiting 20mins for a coffee wasn't fun, especially as the coffee wasn't great.

The cakebook map taking shape, this is 'down south'

Cake bakers voted for their favourites, won by Shakespeare's The Globe, followed by Ambleside (decorated by Lindsey (who bakes at my CCC events) and her friend),  followed by Glastonbury Festival.

Let them eat CAKE

IMAG0338 Bakers were invited onto the map to serve their cakes to the attendees.  This is where Mr Gherkin took centre stage...I took the first slice, from top to bottom....Gently wiggled the knife to let the slice fall out, and slowly there was a hushed "wow" going around the venue, Mr Gherkin's rainbow cakes fell out - for all to see, and everyone wanted a piece of him!!

Lots of people came over for a slice of the stripy cake, It surprised quite a few people, and it was nice to hear that they thought the cake was tasty too.  It had the same effect as the 'practice' cake I did for my niece's 4th birthday, her Belle Cake. This made me all warm and happy inside.

Mr Gherkin defintitely fulfilled his destiny, to look like the gherkin, and WOW the crowds with his amazing technicolour interior....I'd like to think that the walls inside the real building are painted in similar rainbow colours.

All in all, a great event and I'm still smiling...

IMAG0283 1342205600765 1342288548810
Plans Production The Gherkin

A few thank yous...
My contribution to the day wouldn't have been possible without the following:
  • My oven (for baking all of those cakes)
  • My garden (for producing the strawberries, which made the jam that filled the cakes)
  • The pasta machine (for rolling the icing)
  • The rotating cheeseboard (which made icing the cake so much easier)
  • Mr Lisa (for cake engineering & maths)
  • Kate ( for advice on using the spray-glaze
  • My dad (for constructing the cakeboard & broom-handle)
  • EAT Festival people for organising the event
  • Everyone who came to the event

My photos from this years event are in my flickr account: The Gherkin Cakebook 2012
And you can read up on all of my tweets about #CakebookGherkin here:!/search/realtime/%23cakebookgherkin

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sunkist orange (TV advert - remembered in the supermarket last week)

I was quite suprised when I saw this in Sainsburys, I'd not seen it for years.  And to celebrate, I sang the TV advert to Mr Lisa....

"The sun comes up - day begins
And it won't be long
'til we're drinking it in...
Drink it in the su-u-u-n, Sunkist is the one.."

That was the TV advert for Sunkist, circa 1990-something.

And now that I'm writing this post, I've actually looked the original one up, and I was right (word for word!!)  Here it is - enjoy xx

Who's nibbled my gherkin????

who's eaten my cake
I came downstairs this morning and saw this....

I thought I'd had a visit from a small brown furry creature (ot Mr Lisa with the midnight munchies), but after counting the layers, I still had 28 cakes.

It's just that when they've defrosted and settled they've squished right down.

To fix this, I need to trim my wooden spike, by carefully removing it from the cake. It's screwed in from the bottom of the wooden board.

We could just get a dremmel & slice off the top, bit then you'd get a load of sawdust in your cake and it wouldn't taste great.

Good job I hadn't started the icing bit.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Things that parents say..."I'm babysitting tonight"

A colleague said "I'm babysitting tonight" - he was talking about his own child.
When I asked, "babysitting? your own child? are you getting paid?"
He said yeh, "I get pizza and whatever I can drink from the drinks cabinet"

Cakebook Gherkin construction (day1)

Construction began this evening....
After wrapping the cake stand in clingfilm, I began the fun part, threading the cakes on in blocks of seven...The first block


Then the next layer, fourteen


Another block, and another! That's 28 there - count them if you don't believe me.

Then the cakes were carved (by Mr Lisa) to create that gherkin-top


And the final job for the night was covering the entire cake in buttercream.


There we go, all done!

Tools down, beer open....

Also available via: Cakebook