Christmas Cupcakes

Welcome, welcome, it’s the 1st of December! A month for sparkly lights and pretty baubles and required family gatherings šŸ˜‰ Oh, and presents! I like those.

It’s also a time for much treats. So to celebrate the first day of December, and impeding Christmas (at least for me), have some cupcakes!

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I had a lot of leftover buttercream from the Castle CakeĀ and fortunately it’s not crazy hot so it’s behaved a lot better. Can’t say the same for tomorrow’s forecast. Today’s also the first day of summer so, sorry for the potentialĀ future complaining of heat!

I added some LorAnn oilĀ in Butterscotch flavour to the buttercream to change it up from the cake earlier in the week. These are super concentrated flavours that you only need a drop or two of. That’s good because they come in miniscule bottles. And there are sooooo many flavours. I’d really love to try them in some macarons some time.

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I coloured a very small amount of sugarpaste (fondant) green and red, also colouring my fingernails quite green in the process. I have a decent selection of sugarpaste cutters stashed away so I thought I’d pull them out and have a play. Ā Same goes for the cachous and pariels. You might know them asĀ dragĆ©es or just those little hard balls of candy. Luckily only my silver ones are rock hard, the other are quite pleasant to eat.

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Both of these plates I picked up at a local op shop/thrift store a few years back, for a couple of bucks each. You’ve heard the saying: What is one person’s junk isĀ another person’s treasure!

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I like this recipe for vanilla cupcakes from my Woman’s Weekly Cupcakes book as it makes a quite reasonable eight cupcakes. Much better on our waistline with just the two of us.

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The snowflakes and holly leaves were cut out by rolling sugarpaste thinly, then using some plunger cutters. Love plunger cutters, press them into your sugarpaste, press the plunger to imprint any design it has, lift and press the plunger again and out pops out the shape. I left the shapes overnight to dry and painted some of the snowflakes with edible silver dust mixed with vodka.

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Hope you enjoyed today’s cupcake journey and you aren’t craving them too much. Stayed tuned during December for many Christmas themed cookies!

Until next time, have fun!

Castle Cake

This week, Jason celebrated his birthday. If you don’t know exactly when it is, then too bad as I’m not allowed to tell you because he’s a bit funny about it. For fun we had burgers and beer at a local brewery and watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And played some Diablo 3 together. Good, clean, mob slaughtering co-op fun šŸ™‚

I also made him cake!

I was cleaning out my upstairs linen closet earlier this year which also doubles as my cake supply cupboard. He had seen my Wilton Enchanted Castle cake pan and had told me, jokingly, “I want a pretty princess castle cake for my birthday!”

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I remember when you say these things! It also had never been used. Wilton released this pan in 1998 and it still endures today which is pretty awesome.

Now I could have gone the pink and purple castle but I didn’t want to make him cringe too much, so I went for a ivory and gold castle instead.

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Now mind you, it’s warming up dramatically here, and it has been a hot and humid week and completely unacceptable weather for making buttercream icing and baking.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my go to, it’s just utterly delicious and I’m certain I’ve mentioned that before. I use thisĀ recipe and guideĀ from Sweetapolita.

You can see the buttercream melting in this closeup šŸ™

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These are the piping tips I used to ice the cake. From left to right, PME 2.5, PME 4, PME 13 star tip and some very random leaf tip i found in my stash and doesn’t even have a brand name on it.

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The ivy was an afterthought because I’ve never used a leaf tip before and I just winged it on the spot but I did think the castle needed a little something extra to break up the ivory and gold.

To wrap up, I have very mixed feelings about this cake with its semi-melty buttercream. I obviously couldn’t take my time with Ā it due to the weather, the buttercream was starting to melt even a few minuts out of the fridge so it’s below par for what I feel I can usually achieve. But then I shouldn’t beat myself up about it because I can’t control the weather and unfortunately we don’t have air conditioning. I might just need to make a point of not playing with buttercream between November and March.

But I do still sort of love this cake despite its flaws, it is pretty cute. It also tastes great regardless of what it looks like.

Until next time, have fun!

Epic Pokemon Cross-stitch Update 26/11/16

It’s been just over five weeks since the last Pokemon cross-stitch update. I’ve knocked off another page of the pattern, leaving eight remaining. Just eight, out of thirty.

Here are the latest Pokemon. I think the Veno’s are adorable, even for poisonous bugs! And I love the extravagant tails and hairdos of the fox Pokemon, Vulpix and Ninetales, they are so fancy!pokemon-update

I’m also going to give you a look at the journey so far. It’s looking pretty great.

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Until next time, have fun!

Baby Face Emojis

Today, we have been celebrating the soon to be arrival of my new niece or nephew. The lucky parents are Jason’s brother and his lovely wifey and they are keeping it a surprise. If I have kiddos, I certainly couldn’t wait that long to know!

Anyway, I need no excuse to make cookies.

I started off making little baby faces, and they were meant to have a hair curl and ears, but they just looked so adorable I couldn’t add those things.

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These were so fast to make because a simple round cutter, a heart cutter and just three icing colours did the job. Look at that fabulous flesh coloured icing, it’s perfect. Didn’t start out that way as it was way too pink, but adding ivory really toned it down. I threw in a bunch of hearts for fun and to add a splash of colour. I did not want to do the traditional blue and pink.

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I was going to pipe on the facial features, but decided to try something different. I used black petal dust (this brand is food grade approved in Australia) and wet down a little with water to make a paint. You can also use vodka, which dries quickly, but based on the warmth yesterday when I did these, it’d probably evaporate immediately!

With painting on cookies, you do sometimes have to layer up the paint to get it opaque. It only took a couple goes to get it looking like this tough. It’s important to take your time because royal icing does not like water and if you use too much liquid, it will just melt.

I used some rose coloured petal dust to add our lovely rosy cheeks.

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Here you can see my painting supplies. I managed to find some very fine paintbrushes – a range of 5 for $5 at a local bargain store, and this one is the finest of the lot. I’ve found I like using a simple cotton tip for the blush rather than a paintbrush, as you can see the swirls more prominently with a paintbrush.

I REALLY enjoyed making these and I want to try my hand at painting more things. So happy with how these turned out.

Which is your favourite baby face emoji? Jason suggested I should have made one with lumpy icing vomit down its face for realism, but …..no.

Until next time, have fun!

Carrot Cake

I asked Jason what yummy he wanted this week, and he said carrot cake. Granted, he also told me this about three weeks ago but it mysteriously did not get made then. Probably for the best considering how many Halloween cookies we needed to eat.

But today we have carrot cake and oh man, it’s delicious and not just because of the cream cheese icing. The cake itself is wonderful and a little different to your traditional carrot cake. It was for that reason I tried out this recipe. It’s got sour cream in it, which reduces the amount of oil you need to add. I just love sour cream in cake, it mellows out the sweetness a bit. It’s also got pineapple and orange zest in it.

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Ingredients
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3 carrots (about 400g), finely grated
250g sour cream
125ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons orange zest
170g crushed pineapple
60g toasted walnuts, chopped

Icing
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
210g icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
Roughly chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 22cm cake tin.
  2. Sift flour and cinnamon into a bowl and add sugar and carrot, stirring to combine. Beat the sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla and orange zest together until smooth.
  3. Add to the carrot mixture. Stir in the pineapple and nuts. Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin then turn on to a rack to cool.
  4. To make the icing: Beat everything except the nuts together with electric beaters until light and smooth. Spread on to the cake and sprinkle with the walnuts.

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Got a little “fancy” and pulled out the fabulous Wilton 1M piping tip, that makes the big star swirls and piped some extra cream cheese icing around the edge. Never say no to extra icing. I like the little flecks in the icing the orange zest makes.

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My oven, being its same stupid self, did make my carrot cake top dome and crack quite significantly, but I just shaved that off with a bread knife to provide a flat top.

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In other news, I got a new camera toy! New lens to go with my Canon EOS 650D. I have been having fun with this indeed, and learning more about aperture and ISO. And I have a tripod on the way too, so that’s exciting. I’m hoping I might be able to do some videos in the future. Big dreams!

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You can find the original carrot cake recipe here.

Until next time, have fun!

Zanzibar Sock Complete

I’ve been sneaking in a few rows here and there on the Zanzibar sock as a break from the baby blankie and I binged it the last couple of days to finish it. Here it is, it’s done! I now have the cutest pair of stripey socks that I can’t wear for at least five months because it’s too hot now. But just you wait until the cold weather comes back.

In the meantime, I’m barefoot and fancy free! Something about me – I’m totally not a fan of footwear, as soon as I enter any house, off come the shoes.

So let’s have a look at these socks, shall we?

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I knit these cuff-down using a simple pattern from Kate Atherley’sĀ Custom Socks: Knit To Fit Your Feet. It is such an awesome book, so informative about measuring feet and adjusting patterns to make sure your socks fit.Ā And it actually is able to be understood. IĀ had a post earlier in the year about measuring my feet. I did not need to adjust the pattern and they fit so perfect! They are snug but not tight, they still stretch as I move my foot, and they are comfortable as heck.

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The side ridge of the heel flap looks a little funny, as if it sits out from the foot, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. I love them!

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You can check out the original Zanzibar sock post here.

They were knit using 2.5mm (US1) size circular needles using the magic loop method, one at a time. My yarn was fingering weight sock yarn.

Techniques learned:

  • k2tog – knit 2 stitches together to perform a right slanting stitch decrease
  • ssk – slip slip knit, to perform a left slanting stitch decrease
  • picking up stitches along an edge
  • 1 by 1 ribbing (knit 1, purl 1)

I can’t believe I already have sock knitting urges only a few hours after finishing these! That’s not fair.

Until next time, have fun!

Tote bag and knitting update

Thought I’d take a break from the cookies and share with you a work in progress that I actually finished about a week ago. The afternoon was hot and in our house, the upstairs can get a bit unbearable. (I mean a lot). I am so not looking forward to summer.

To escape the stuffiness I went down to the spare room, AKA the sewing room and cleaned up. I was feeling unmotivated but sometimes just moving about and doing things can get me going again. What a mess! I couldn’t even see my sewing machine beneath the bags of yarn and newly purchased fabric and who knows what else.

I remembered some half finished tote bags that I had started quite a while ago and decided to find them. Baby blanket number 1 is getting quite big and I can’t just go leaving it on a table. Cat’s gonna get his claws into it, I just know it.  You should see him eyeing off the yarn sometimes. That evil and mischievous glint in his eye.

So the aim became to finish off one to serve as my blanket knitting tote.

Here it is! Oh it’s divine! And blue, yay! And so spacious!

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In regards to the blanket, I’ve hit 65cm and I’m on my fourth yarn ball. After a few times through the lace pattern I memorised it, which makes it go faster. Oops, did I say lace…? šŸ˜‰ Hint hint, nudge nudge, that’s a little teaser. It’s crazy to me how your knitting speed can change each day, just based on your comfort level and your mindset. Last night I was knitting away and I could barely do one row per 30 minutes, and the other day I was zooming and getting a row done every 15 minutes.

Most of my time knitting lately has been while watching Empire. Guilty pleasure viewing for the win! I love a show with singing in it and this incorporates it really well. Add a whole lot of drama, themes of racism, homophobia and mental illness, and it’s pretty damn good. It’s described as a powerful drama about a family dynasty set with the glamorous and sometimes dangerous world of hip-hop music. <3 <3 <3

Unfortunately, it’s on hiatus until next week, so I have to wait for new episodes so now I’ve started Nurse Jackie. I figured with seven seasons, it had to be alright. It’s comedy…but with a scary look into nursing.

Until next time, have fun!

Poll – Favourite Halloween Cookie Character

Hey all.

I hope you have enjoyed this foray into some delicious and fun halloween cookies. If you’d like, here’s a little survey so you can tell me who your favourite cookie was!

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Until next time, have fun!

Halloween 2016 Silhouettes

Welcome back and Happy Halloween! I’ve been hard at work at my final cookies for this year’s Halloween. Actually, no. These were really easy to do and took barely any time so it was a lovely wind-down.

I wanted to venture into playing with some silhouettes, layering and keeping the colour scheme really simple. I had a bit of inspiration from Pinterest and looking at “halloween cards”. Wow are there some talented card makers out there! I grabbed some paper and started to sketch some ideas. I haven’t sketched in years and years though I guess my “traditional” art from high school just transformed into other creative mediums such as dough and sugar and fabric. šŸ™‚

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I revisited the cookie pumpkins, layering first orange, and then the black icing on top so that the jack o’lantern face would look like it was lit from within. Do you like my spiderweb paper I made today?

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I really scrounged around in my fabric stash today to find some variety. Look, cats for my cats!

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I started to iron out some of the cotton fabric, but realised the crumples added a really nice texture to today’s pictures.

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The grey icing marble effect was a really cool experiment and I’d love to explore this some more in the future. I achieved this by starting to mix some black icing into white, but not mixing until it was uniform. You can see that the left and right sides of the cookie differ, just by how I piped the icing on, whether it was back and forth horizontally or swirling.

I decided to leave the bat out of this design and let the tree feature prominently. Ok so my tree needs work as I was just freestyling here.

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For the final cookie and my slightly crooked haunted house, the layering effect once again comes into play as with the pumpkins, with lower layers lighting up the windows. I played a little with shadows on this one and I like how it has lent an unintentional airbrushing ombre effect on the orange icing.

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I better head off and go select a horror movie to watch tonight, because DO. LOVE. HORROR. MOVIES! We need no excuse to watch.

Until next time, have fun!

Witch

Hello witchiepoo! You’re the last of the spookily cute characters and to celebrate, you even have props!

The funnest parts of this were probably the curly hair and the cauldron bubbles. Both required doing a few hair wiggles/bubbles, allowing them to dry a bit, then adding more. If you don’t, they’ll just join up and look like a blob.

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With the broom, I wanted it to look rough and ragged and straw-like, so I dragged the piping tip along the dried orange icing while I piped the black. Do you think it worked?

Here’s a close up of the hair. Ā There was four layers between the grey and the black and it was so enjoyable to do, just wiggle your piping bag and squeeze. Purposefully be messy!

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Now just because I’ve finished these cookie characters, does not mean there are no more Halloween cookies. There’s still a few days until then and there’s still cookie dough in the fridge to be used.

Until next time, have fun!