A Slice of Birthday Fun(fetti)

So, this week brought Offspring#2’s eighteenth birthday (how did that happen?!?!) and of course, that meant cake!

A lot of my cakes start with the same base recipe. It originally came from a 1963 edition of a Brownie Guide cookbook, and so far it has yet to fail me!

The Recipe

This is a ‘weight of an egg cake’, you use the same weight of all your ingredients, obviously starting with your eggs!

For this particular cake, I used half a dozen eggs, weighing a total of 365g (it is important that you weigh whole eggs! Offspring#1 once made the mistake of weighing the contents, making the mixture too runny, and ended up with more of a raspberry quiche than a sponge).

  • Cream together butter & caster sugar.
  • Add eggs, one at a time. Alternate with a spoonful of your flour between each egg.
  • Fold in a third of the remaining sieved self-raising flour, repeat with the last two thirds.
  • Stir in 80-100g brightly coloured hundreds & thousands.
  • Split the mixture equally between two greased & lined tins.
  • Bake at 180°C for approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Remove from tins, and transfer to a cooling rack.
  • When completely cool, split each cake in half horizontally; giving you four layers.
  • Sandwich together with buttercream & jam.
  • Decorate top with piped rosettes of buttercream and sprinkle with hundreds & thousands.

          Variations

          • Coffee & Walnut : whisk in a shot of coffee before folding in the flour and replace the hundreds & thousands with chopped walnuts. Decorate with coffee buttercream & walnut halves.
          • Lemon : add lemon essence & zest before folding in the flour, flavour buttercream with lemon, replace the jam with lemon curd and sprinkle top with lemon zest.
          • Chocolate & Raspberry : sieve 50g of cocoa along with flour, replace the hundreds & thousands with freeze-dried raspberries, or frozen raspberries; fill with chocolate buttercream & raspberry jam; decorate with fresh raspberries.

          Do you have a go-to recipe that never fails you? I’d love to hear about it!

          Thanks for stopping by; now, I’m off for a cuppa & the last slice of cake. 

          Crafty xx

          A Sunny Saturday in 1300s Arbroath

          Arbroath Abbey has always been a favourite haunt and we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve visited over the years.
          It is a place of calm tranquility, steeped in history, and I always feel at peace there.

          This weekend there is a re-enactment event; held annually in honour of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath (6th April 1320); so today’s visit wasn’t quite as tranquil, what with the clash of swords as the Scots & English forces battled through the Wars of Independence.

          The medieval encampment came courtesy of The Historic Saltire Society, a living history group based in Inverness who perform all over the country.

          The society members are all very friendly and eager to talk about the history of the period.

          We all had an attempt at some medieval calligraphy using quills, reeds and iron gall ink.

          The professionals made us some personalised bookmarks to show us how it is really done…

          In our defense, they did get to use proper nibs!

          We also saw how cloth would have been woven.

          The lunch tent was well-frequented, although somewhat surprisingly there wasn’t a cauldron of pottage in sight!

          The camp jester was on hand to show us various medieval games & pastimes.

          The Armoury was a lot of fun! The guy we spoke to spent ages talking us through all the protective clothing and weapons. 

          There is always ample opportunity for audience participation.

          Offspring #2 found himself conscripted into the schiltron.

          Whilst the kids army is always fun

          Obviously the finale is The Big Battle… 

          The event continues on Sunday, so if you happen to be around Arbroath, pop along!

          Oh, and no trip to Arbroath can be complete without a good portion of fish and chips!

          We can definitely recommend The Bellrock.

          Do you have any annual local events you enjoy attending?

          Have you heard of Arbroath Abbey, or The Declaration?


          I’d love to hear!

          Hugs, 

          Crafty xx

          Who knew HOME BARGAINS did flowers?

          I didn’t! But they do, their customer service is fantastic; and now that I’ve found them, I’ll be using their service lots!!



          A few weeks ago (it was a Thursday), I made a spur of the moment decision to send my mum some flowers.

          It would have been her Golden Wedding Anniversary the following day, and whilst my dad passed away when I was a teenager, I wanted to still mark the day for her.

          Anyway, I had left it a little late so as soon as I got home from work, I had a quick look online for next day floral deliveries. An ad popped up for Home Bargains Flowers, and always liking a bargain; I clicked the link to take a look.

          Now, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, but I was just looking for a little bunch of something or other to brighten her day.
          Imagine my surprise (& delight!) when that link took me to a site with dozens of beautiful bouquets, featuring a wide variety of blooms; all incredibly reasonably priced, and offering free standard delivery (1-2 working days) or guaranteed next day for a ridiculously inexpensive £2.95!
          Given the occasion I was looking for a bouquet with Golden tones, and quickly came across this one; Natures Best, featuring a lovely selection of 8 blooms in bright golden shades of yellow & green; including germini, chrysanthemum, alstroemeria, and solidago.

          It seemed ideal so around 4:30pm I quickly ordered it; £9.99 plus £2.95 for next day delivery.
          By 4:40pm I had received not only a transaction confirmation email, but also one confirming my specific order and detailing my tracking number together with the promise of a further confirmation when my order had been despatched.

           

          As I am sure you are aware; the recent storms and exceptionally wet weather have been playing havoc with supplies of salad, vegetables and flowers coming from mainland Europe. Now, as I mentioned, I was looking for specifically  golden blooms; so once I had my confirmation email and order number, I contacted customer services; explained my reason for ordering and requested that if any substitutions had to be made could they possibly try to keep within the original colours of the bouquet although I wouldn’t mind at all if the type of flower had to be exchanged. I very quickly received a reply back, apologising that they couldn’t guarantee it, but that my request would be passed straight to the florist making up my bouquet.

          I received subsequent confirmation of despatch just after 5pm and so far, I was more than satisfied with the service.


           Around 10am the following morning, I received a delighted message from my mum; singing the praises of the gorgeous, and very expensive looking, bouquet she had been surprised with.

          They had indeed, honoured my request regarding the colour, and the entire bouquet was carefully packaged. The hand tied bouquet was suspended in a large sturdy ventilated cardboard box, complete with water filled sack and surrounded with dampened padding. 

          My mum hasn’t quite got the hang of taking photos with her tablet yet (bless her!) so this is the best I’ve got to show what they actually looked like…

          In all honesty, I’m a little bit embarrassed that I only spent £12.94 on them – they are gorgeous!! The actual flowers were fabulous quality blooms and very fresh, as; more than two weeks later; she still has some left from the bouquet.

          I really can’t recommend Home Bargains Flowers highly enough, and give them 5 out of 5 stars for Service, Quality & Price.



          A Final Thought

          Given that; in general; people, myself included, are most often quick to complain about poor customer service; I felt it was important to get in touch explaining how impressed I was with both the product and how happy it had made my mum on an otherwise sad and difficult day; and I was touched to get an equally lovely reply back saying that they would pass on my regards to the rest of the team and could they offer me a voucher entitling me to a small discount if I ever wished to make another purchase? (I was already planning to, one of my work colleagues turns 50 next month, and I’ve been busy telling everyone else about the gorgeous Bargain flowers I bought.) 


          Have you experienced exceptional customer service recently? It’s time to shout out about the good guys!!

          Hugs,

          Crafty xx

          Happy Pokémon Day!!

          Pokémon celebrates its 20th birthday today.

          I think the first time I was aware of the whole Pokémon phenomenon was in the 80s, when my younger sister had a poster featuring all 150 (yes, there were only 150 to start with!)

          Teen1 dabbled a little in her early years, late 90s; then Teen2 discovered a liking in the early 00s.

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          This was his favourite dress-up costume for quite a while!
          He donated it to one of the Postpals kids a few years back, which was cute, but I must admit to feeling a little sad when I sent it off!

          Turns out, a decade later, he’s still a fan…

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          I got this Pikachu hat in my Loot Crate a few months back and the scoundrel pinched it before I had had a chance to wear it!

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          Which Pokémon is your favourite?

          BabyCakes ❤

          It’s getting to that time of year…

          Day are getting longer, weather getting warmer (marginally!), birds are singing, and it’s nearly time for lambs and the likes.

          And so it seems, it’s also time for lots & LOTS of new tiny humans.

          Why does there seem to be such a huge number of pregnancies around me??
          So many!!

          Anyway, yesterday, myself and a couple of colleagues attended a baby shower for another workmate.

          C., the mum-to-be, already has 2 boys and this little one is of the sugar & spice variety. As you can probably imagine, yesterday involved a lot of pink!

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          Lil Miss C was a bit of a surprise, so mum & dad were pretty much starting from scratch when it came to baby goods. We had already organised larger collective gifts from everyone at work in the form of boring things like bottles & sterliser and changing units but obviously didn’t want to turn up empty-handed to the party.

          If you’re a regular around here, you might remember my sock-cakes and that is where the inspiration for my little gift came from:

          BabyCakes!!

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          Similar to sock cakes, these are rolled baby items.

          I picked up a couple of inexpensive multipacks of vests and a cute little all I one romper suit with matching hat.

          Packaging is one of those cardboard cupcake boxes. Previously I have made these sort of cakes singly but babies call for an extra bit of spoiling, so this one holds 6 cupcakes.

          Build up your box, and insert the holder.

          I slipped the little romper suit in the base before fitting the sheet.

          Next I rolled the cupcake wraps and taped the flaps.

          For the first cake, I rolled up the matching hat (it was so cute, with little ears) and popped it in a case before inserting in the box.

          The hat was pink, so I rolled 2 pink vests into cakes, then repeated with 3 white.

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          I put each cake in the box in an alternating pattern.

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          I finished them off with matching toppers.

          A wrap of pink ribbon and a little paper doily finished it off prettily.

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          Mum-to-be seemed quite pleased to receive my little gift.

          Even if they weren’t as tasty as these cakes

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          Have you tried any fun ways to present a less than exciting gift? Please share!
          Thanks for stopping by,
          Crafty
          xx

          Flippin’eck! It’s Pancake Day!!

          Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday; if you are so inclined) is traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday; which signals the beginning of Lent.

          Shrove, derived from the word shrive, meaning to confess; was traditionally a time for Christians to confess & serve penance (not being religious, I’m afraid we just serve pancakes!)

          Pancakes were traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, as they used up a lot of eggs, milk & sugar; rich ingredients which were omitted from your menu for the duration of the 40-day long fast.

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          Of course, like so many other events throughout the calendar, the Christians weren’t the first kids on the block to celebrate it.

          Pagan festivities included eating these delicious warm round sun-like cakes in the belief that it would invoke the gods of Spring and fertility, and banish the cold dark winter months. Which sounds pretty good to me!!

          Anyway, as I mentioned, we aren’t a religious family; we do however usually make pancakes on Pancake Day.
          We used to do it when the kiddos were…well…kiddos; in fact Teen2 was a bit miffed last year that we didn’t (the fact that this was probably due to the fact that it was one of those nights where he had three social engagements between school & bed was almost definitely lost on him!) and its a tradition that has carried on.

          Usually we make thinnish crepe-like pancakes, and everyone takes a turn of flipping or tossing theirs in the pan.

          When I was young, my parents told me it was good luck if you managed to get your pancake to somersault in the air and land back flat in the pan.
          I had no basis to believe or disprove this, so decided it was most definitely true.
          Teen2 may disagree after the year he grabbed the hot pan rather than the plastic insulated handle and ended up with a trip to A&E (I know, I’m a terrible mother!) but I still stand by my belief that it is most definitely lucky.

          TOP THAT!

          After the making and the tossing, the next step is the topping.

          Usually this starts rather sensibly, with a sprinkling of sugar and a dash of lemon juice; or perhaps a spread of jam, maybe even a drizzle of honey or syrup.
          But, before long, Someone instigates nonsense and they end up covered in all sorts of things…
          Generally there is a combination featuring some (or all!) of the following…

          Nutella
          Ice cream
          Banana
          Syrup
          Cherry pie filling
          Cinnamon
          Lemon juice
          Sugar
          Whipped cream
          Jam
          Marshmallow fluff
          Chopped nuts
          Honey….

          …and anything else He thinks he would get away with!!

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          If I remember correctly; this monstrosity contained ice cream, hazelnut chocolate spread, sliced banana, chocolate syrup, whipped cream & chopped nuts; a few years back.

          THIS YEAR, WE TOSSED TRADITION

          This year, instead of our usual large thin pancakes; we had Scotch Pancakes.
          This was not a decision made through some patriotic fervour; in actual fact, I was running low on flour after making a couple of batches of pizza recently.

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          TheTeens were suitably impressed that their mum actually knew how to make Scotch Pancakes, something normally just bought and eaten from supermarket packets and; after revering me as a living god; polished off *some*

          MY SUPER EASY SCOTCH PANCAKE RECIPE

          Ingredients:

          200g Self-raising Flour
          100g Caster Sugar
          Pinch Salt
          2 Eggs
          120ml Milk

          (If you don’t have SR flour, replace with 200g plain and add 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder)

          How To:

          Sieve flour, sugar, salt (& baking powder if using) into a bowl.
          Make a well in the middle, crack in the eggs, add the milk, and mix.

          The batter will be thicker than a regular pancake batter, but not as dense as a cake batter.

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          Allow to stand for 20 minutes then heat a lightly greased frying pan over a medium heat.

          Drop a tablespoon of batter onto the pan for each pancake. You will fit 2-4 in a regular size pan.

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          Once the top has evenly bubbled, flip them over

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          Repeat until you have used all the batter.

          You can keep them warm on a tray in a low-heated oven, whilst you finish cooking the rest.

          Ready to eat? Time for TOPPINGS!!

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          Jam & Cream

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          Marshmallow fluff

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          Butter

          Yuuuummmm!!!

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          They made me do extras, so they could have some for breakfast tomorrow (totally against the rules of Lent)

          Do you have any Pancake Day traditions?
          Perhaps a favourite pancake recipe or topping?
          Please share! And, as always, thanks for stopping by!
          Hugs,
          The Crafty Lass
          xXx

          Great Chieftain O’ The Puddin’-Race

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          It’s just one of those things….

          Knowing full well we are only feeding a family of four, I still find myself buying a haggis the size of a small nation every Burns night.

          You’d think we’d learn our lesson with Christmas Turkeys, but oh no! Same mistake every year!

          So, tonight we toast the bard in traditional fashion; a plate of steaming haggis, carrot, chappit neeps an’ tatties (that’s mashed turnip and potatoes to the sassenachs among you) washed down with lashings of Irn Bruobviously!

          Guess what we’ll be eating for the rest of the week….

          The Kid votes for Haggis Nachos tomorrow.

          Wednesday will probably be Balmoral Chicken, a firm favourite of The Teen.

          Which leaves Haggis Pizza as OH’s dish of choice on Thursday.

          What’s YOUR favourite way to serve haggis?