Friday, January 21, 2011

A look back at 2010

A bit late to the party maybe as it's now over halfway through January, but Happy New Year everyone!

First of all a huge THANK YOU to everyone who ordered a minirhi bakes cake. We've been going for 6 months now and I had much more business than expected, have met some new people and caught up with old friends. I've also had some lovely feedback and repeat business, so I must be doing something right! Anyway, thanks - your business is very much appreciated.

I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite cakes from 2010.

July : Ella's Peppa Pig Cake
I think this was one of my first orders, and I was so pleased with the way it turned out! Smooth icing, the character looked like it was meant to, and it actually went pretty smoothly too....



August : Daryl & Leanne's Wedding Favours
This was a wonderful day, with our best mates getting married...a little stressful making the cookies, but they looked fab on the tables and helped me take my mind off the fact that I had to do a reading on the day!!


Ocotber : My first Giant Cupcake
I had a fair bit of trial and error making giant cupcakes, but I got there in the end! This was my first successful one, for my sister-in-law's birthday.



October : Chicken Cake Ball Cupcakes
I don't really et much time for experimenting, so as we were off to a friend's birthday (who had recently acquired chickens) and because my Cake Pops book was tormenting me for not trying more, I decided to make some cupcakes to take with us. Cute, or what?!

 
 
October : New Baby Cupcakes
A friend of ours had a baby back in October, and I had new sprinkles to test, so I created a series of cupcakes for Mummy, Daddy and 'Big Sister' - coz big sisters are always the best!! ;)





November : Baby Shae's Naming Ceremony
This was an order of 'firsts'! My first naming ceremony cake, my first cake pop order & my first time makeing chocolate cake pops....possibly my first time making blue buttercream too! 


November : Mickey's Clubhouse
I think this was one of the most complicated cakes I have made, and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Especially Mickey!


I have to say I have enjoyed making all of my cakes! I've been tired and stressed and worried people won't like them, luckily hubby's been around to tell me I'm being silly or to move me away from the cake so I when I get back to it I can see it's not actually THAT bad! :)

I am looking forward to 2011 - and have already made 3 celebration cakes - plus I am planning an afternoon tea fundraiser sometime soon for TREAT Trust Wales. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This little piggy.... Bento Box

Two things have resulted in this post. Number 1 was @RockSaltUK reminding me about the magic that is Bento and the Oui Chef challenge over on @beckicklesie blog being all about pig meat... and I couldn't resist combining the two!

I'd been trying to come up with a theme for a fun bento, and pig seemed ideal.


So, top layer consisted of:
- Sushi Rolls with a ham centre
- Ham & Sweet Chilli Cheese Rolls (see how to make them below)
- Formed sushi rice topped with ham & cucumber (the oblong shaped bits)
- Pig Onigri (or Japanese Rice Balls stuffed with chopped olives)
- Soy sauce (in little pig shaped bottle)
- Grapes
- Japanese Rice Crackers


The Onigiri is sushi rice, formed into balls thanks to the recipe over at Just Hungry, found via this post on RockSalt's blog.

The bottom layer was a lovely Japanese Pork & Ramen Noodle Salad - recipe below. 


Ham & Sweet Chilli Philly Rolls
To make the rolls, get a slice of medium cut white bread, remove the crusts and roll it out until it's quite thin, and mor eof a dough texture than fluffy bread. Spread the flattened bread with the philadelphia (or other soft cheese) and make sure it's covered edge to edge. Lay a slice of ham on top, leaving a gap of about 1 cm on the edge furthest away from you. Roll the bread, starting with the edge closet to you in a tight spiral - the cheese on the ham free edge should help to seal it. Trim either end (and taste!) then cut the roll into 3.

Japanese Pork & Noodle Salad
Take 100g pork steak and marinade in 1tsp minced ginger, 2tbsp soy and 1tbsp mirin. (Marinade is based on this one on Just Bento's forums) I left it for about 30 minutes. Then chop (if you haven't already) and fry in a little bit of oil until cooked. Leave to cool.
Boil a pint of vegetable stock in a saucepan and add ramen noodles (I used about half a bundle) and cook for 4 minutes. In the last minute add 2 sliced spring onions and some torn lettuce leaves. I used about 4 little gem leaves. When the noodles are done, drain and rinse under cold water to chill.
When the pork is cold mix with the noodles. I ate mine cold, but I'm sure they'd work fine heated up again too.

From Tuesday to Saturday : My 29th Birthday Celebrations

I have had an awesome birthday this year. It can sometimes be a bit lack-lustre so soon after Christmas. No one has money or is detoxing, but this year was different somehow.

TUESDAY

My birthday was on Wednesday, but as hubby had darts we decided to start on Tuesday evening with a meal in Hanson's at the Chelsea Restaurant in Swansea, with my parents. It's a lovely, small cafe type place, that serves the most amazing food. Andrew Hanson is reowned for his fish and I will always, without fail order scallops. Except this time they weren't available (gutted!) but I had a Crab & Smoked Salmon Tian which was beautiful.


Starter was accompanied by:


Main course was Gower Lamb 3 Ways which consisted of a lamb chop, lamb noisette with stuffing and a mini shepherds pie. Each piece was so different and tasted divine, each showed the lamb off so well.


Main course was accompanied by:



As it was my birthday, I had to have a pudding.....white chocolate torte. Yum!



with a dessert wine...


WEDNESDAY 

Wednesday was my actual birthday, and I had some lovely clothes, a new cake tin and season 6 of Lost - among other things. But the thing that made me smile the most was this FAB card Matthew got for me. Love it!


Didn't really do much - went to work & then to local pub to watch hubby play darts (the joy!)

THURSDAY

Another quiet day, but I couldn't resist buying myself a little present with my birthday money:



FRIDAY

We invited my parents around for dinner to try out the some recipe in our new Atul Kochar book - Fish Indian Style. Hubby was cooking, so I was in charge of laying the table. Isn't it beautiful? :)


We had Martinis (my first ever - not really sure what I thought of it!)



Starter was 'Scallops 3 Ways' with a grape and mint salad - and it was gorgeous!


 Main course was monkfish & char in a coconut sauce with mango, rice and home-made chapatis. All very tasty, but I forgot to take photos.

SATURDAY

Saturday night 14 of us went bowling. Being part of a rugby club we have a large (fab) group of friends but as the boys are usually playing (or watching) rugby on a Saturday it can be difficult to get them to leave the rugby club...apparently bowling is the answer!

Here are my super cool and trendy bowling shoes
(yes, I have size 3 feet, so always get the ones with velcro!)



And here is a very blurry shot of my velvet party dress. Bought from Miss Selfridge for £5. Bargain!

And if that's just turing 29 I can't wait to see what happens next year! ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Juggling & Me-time

After a little break, Lottie has returned with the next installment of her Finishing School - K is for.... this reminded me, that I hadn't posted about the challenge set back in November for J yet. So, here goes.

J is for Juggling and Lottie talks about all the roles women take on, from career to mother, to wife, to domestic goddess, friend... and the challenge is this :
 
"You must make YOU the priority for one week. Give up something and spend at least 30 minutes of that time, each day, for a week, doing something you enjoy."
I consider myself lucky, in that I do get to spend time on my hobbies, whether that's knitting, reading or cross stitch, I can spend an hour painting my nails and getting ready to go out. 
 
I do have a full time job, a have set up a part time cake making business, I do a lot of work for my local rugby club & have a husband, pets and house to look after. (Though hubby does make it very easy for me! :)
 
In theory, this challenge is done. 
 
But over the last few months I have been thinking more and more about where I am and where I want to be in 5 years time....if I don't win the lottery in the meantime....so I have decided to set my own little challenge for next week and to put 30 minutes aside each day for my future. I have always been a bit rubbish with money & am finally in a position where I can start saving, this has left me feeling very grown up all of a sudden (must be turning 29) so I am going to start being a grown up and take more responsibility for my future. I am going to start a plan.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Happy Houmous Bento

The new year has seen hubby return to his WeightWatchers diet & after all the crap we've eaten, I have been getting back into healthy eating. So, when RockSaltUK reminded me about the wonder that is bento, I thought it was a greact chance to try it again.

I did have a go in May last year, when I first heard about it from another twitterer (will post username, when I remember it - sorry!). Here was my first effort:

Tea & Cake Bento
It wasn't all that inspiring / imaginative or tasty, but it was a start. Bit of a false start as it turned out as I haven't done anything since.

Just before Christmas, when perusing the pound shops for cheapy decorations I came accross a 2-tiered lunchbox that I thought maybe someday come in handy, as it turns out it's perfect for bento & a good size for me.


Layer one (bottom) I filled with stir-fry veg, topped with ham and a handful of prawns, then made a dressing with olive oil, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey & sweet chilli sauce to drizzle over the top.


The top layer included a pot of salt & pepper houmous (with smiley face drawn on top), carrot sticks, olives, grapes & lettuce.


It's very basic for a bento, but it was very late. However, it did make me smile (and my workmates laugh a little) when I opened it for lunch. It's also very healthy and makes you think about adding different coloured veg to make it look more attractive.

One thing you may or may not know about me, is that when I decide to try something I like to go and buy stuff. I decided to take up running so bought a book & heart rate monitor (no idea why!), when I started crochet I bought books and loads of different sized hooks. So, naturally deciding to start bento I have ordered a few 'necessities' to make it better. Hear are some of my favourites:

Hat Picks (Image from www.casabento.com)


Jungle themed sauce bottles (Image from www.casabento.com)

Penguin Mayonnaise Case (Image from www.jlist.com)
See - how cute are my lunches going to be now?! :)

A little bit of link love for RockSaltUK as I am jumping on her bandwagon a little bit, go and see her blog at http://rocksaltuk.wordpress.com/ for what promises to be the Year of Bento. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

No New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I can't believe another year has passed and in 1 week I'll be 29.

Next year I'll be 30 - that's a bit crazy! :)

On my 'minilifestyle' blog I have posted about why I don't want to make any New Year's resolutions this year, and I think that my 101 Things list pretty much covers what I'd like to achieve this year, plus hubby has also made a list of his own that I am more than happy to help him achieve as it's mainly food & travel related.

I don't want to make any promises on this blog that I won't keep, however on my to do list is:
  1. Update my 101 things list.
  2. Catch up on Lottie's Finishing School.
  3. Add to my flickr account.
  4. Update my reading list.
  5. Re-design my blog.

Here's to a great 2011. :)