Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday Review - Liverpool

Minibakebakegirl's school always has two inset days in November, so this year we decided to go away for a long weekend.  After narrowing it down to Chester, York and Liverpool, we opted for Liverpool as we felt there were lots of things to keep us occupied for our 4 days.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and had a good wander around the town centre, soooooo many shops!  The new Liverpool One shopping centre is lovely, (partly because they have a Lakeland!)  Lots of restaurants too. There are Liverpool and Everton official merchandise shops. Hubby spotted the joke that Everton have cleverly named their shop Everton two; so their address reads Everton Two, Liverpool One!

On Saturday we did The Beatles Story, we all enjoyed this audio tour - especially the part with the recreation of the Cavern.  There is also a Fab 4D Experience - which was fab!

There are lots of free museums, Tate Liverpool, the Maritime Museum with an excellent Titanic exhibition and the Museum of Liverpool which opened last year.

We did the Yellow Duckmarine Tour - which is a city tour in a World War Two  Amphibious vehicle. Our tour guide and driver were excellent and told us lots of information about the city.  We all cheered and screamed as we entered the water!  On the tour our guide pointed out a lovely looking cafe in Falkner Street, so we headed there on Sunday for coffee.

The Quarter had a great selection of cakes.  I had carrot cake, Minibakebakegirl had chocolate brownie and Hubby had a Raspberry crumble slice. 

The coffee was good too and Minibakebakegirl quickly polished off her hot chocolate - marking it 8 out of 10. We had such a beautiful sunny day on Sunday, the sun was streaming in through the windows. I would definitely suggest this as a place for a pit stop. Their main menu looked good too.
Liverpool is a vibrant busy city with some lovely architecture (and some hideously ugly buildings too!)  Great for a weekend citybreak.   As you can see from my photos the weather was varied!
See you next week for the first of my christmas blog posts.

This weekends top three Beatles songs:

1. Fool On The Hill
2. I Am The Walrus 
3. Helter Skelter

Monday, 19 November 2012

Monday Bake - Flourless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake.   I don't really need to say anymore.   Oh, except this cake is also gluten free.  It's a three bowl recipe (2 medium and 1 large) - so apologies for the extra washing up but it is worth it.

200g unsalted butter diced plus extra for greasing
200g dark chocolate
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 medium eggs
125g light muscovado sugar
50g ground almonds
1 heaped tsp gluten free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4.  Butter a 20cm loose bottom cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Bowl 1 - medium bowl
Break up the chocolate and melt with the butter and orange juice in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water - stir until smooth.

Bowl 2 - medium bowl
Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks then gradually whisk in half of the sugar, until you have a stiff glossy meringue.

Bowl 3 - large bowl
Whisk the remaining sugar and egg yolks for several minutes until pale.   Fold the chocolate mixture from bowl 1 into this bowl.  Then fold in the ground almonds, baking powder, salt and orange zest.  Finally stir in a third of the meringue and then gently fold in the remaining meringue. 

Pour into the prepared tin and give it a couple of taps on the work surface to remove any large air bubbles.  Don't tap too hard as you don't want to knock out all the air.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  The cake will have cracked - this is normal and when it has cooled it will sink a little - this is also normal.  Loosen round the edges of the cake with a knife and then remove the side of the tin.  I just leave it on the base and cut it on there - it's easier than transferring to a plate and then to your serving plate.

As you  can see the bottom goes really dense and squidgy - delicious.
We are going to Liverpool next weekend - anybody got any tips or suggestions of places to see and do.  Also does anyone have suggestions for where is good for coffee and cake?
Todays top three Spotify songs:
1. Chocolate Girl - Deacon Blue
2. Chocolate Cake - Crowded House
3. Sweet Like Chocolate - Sharon Woolf

Monday, 12 November 2012

Monday Inspiration - Children In Need Pudsey Cupcakes

It's Children In Need time again.  Minibakebakegirl's school are having a cake stall this Friday to raise money so this year I have bought some Pudsey cupcake cases and mini Pudsey moulds from Lakeland.  It says the moulds can be used for icing or chocolate - so I went with chocolate this time to test them out.


I'm pleased with how these practice ones turned out.  I used dark chocolate for these Pudseys but I think I will use milk chocolate for Fridays ones.

On Saturday we went into London for a bit of retail therapy and a good wander round Covent Garden.  First we went to Carnaby Street - I loved their Rolling Stones christmas decorations - it was a bit of a drizzly day but I bet they look amazing with the sun shining on them.

We went for coffee just off Carnaby Street at C'est Ici in Kingly Court.  They stock Candy Cakes cupcakes.   Hubby and Minibakebakegirl had Oreo ones and I had a carrot cake one. 
The icing was so light.  Their brunch menu looks good so we may pop back another time.

Minibakebakegirl spent her pocket money in David & Goliath and Lush but I mostly did some browsing - getting some ideas for christmas presents.  John Lewis was looking especially christmassy (and very busy!) I absolutely love their christmas advert.

Thanks for stopping by - hope to see you next week.


Todays top three Children In Need Official Singles

1. Perfect Day - Lou Reed and Various Artists
2. Something New - Girls Aloud
3. Emma Bunton - Downtown

Monday, 5 November 2012

Monday Review - Edinburgh

We have had another lovely busy week in Edinburgh.  We stayed with BestFriend at the start of our week away - it now seems like ages ago!  We went to see Hotel Transylvania on Sunday, which was good - not laugh out loud but a enjoyable film.   It has been a week of going to the Cinema as we also went to see Madagascar 3 and Skyfall.   Skyfall was excellent - my favourite Daniel Craig bond film so far.   

We had a very exciting afternoon on Tuesday - Minibakebakegirl and I met a Twitter friend for the first time, @mhairigirl who is a fellow #twitknitclub member. I have tweeted with @mhairigirl for well over a year so it does feel like I know her well, however, it could have been really awkward meeting and not having anything to say but we chatted away over lovely coffee/hot chocolate and cake at Eteaket.  We swapped presents. @mhairigirl gave me a lovely shamballa bracelet that she had made and homemade tablet - yum!  I gave her a little knitted owl I had made (filled with Hitchin Lavender) and a owl mug.  We chatted about our fellow twitknitters and that we hopefully will be able to have a larger meetup - we are all dotted over the country so location could be an issue - but I'm sure we can work something out! 

On Thursday Minibakebakegirl and I went for coffee at Brewlab.  I was intruigued by the coffee lab concept having followed them on Instagram and seen their brewing pictures.  The coffee did not disappoint - delicious and so was the spiced treacle gingerbread cake that I had.  Minibakebakegirl had hot chocolate and a brownie and gave it 9/10!   Their selection of cakes was good - we will definitely go back. 

We met Sister in the Grassmarket in the afternoon who whisked us to Victoria Street as they were filming Case Histories.  We walked up and down and eventually saw Jason Issacs at the window - not the best photo but that is him!  When I lived in Edinburgh I worked in the building at the top of Victoria Street that they were filming in.   I'm sure the room he is in was where the IT department was!  Can't wait for the new series to start - I love seeing all the bits of Edinburgh - and of course Jason Issacs who makes a perfect Jackson Brodie.

On Saturday we went to Pressmennan Wood - which is a Woodland Trust wood in East Lothian.   It is beautiful with Pressmennan Lake at the bottom which is one of only four true lakes in Scotland, the rest are lochs.   In some of the trees are little windows and doors where the Glingbobs and Tootflits live.  It really is a magical place and so pretty  this weekend with the autumn colours.


Todays top three radio songs:
1. Forever Autumn - Gary Barlow
2. Candy - Robbie Williams
3. Will you still love me tomorrow - The Shirelles

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Thursday Makes - Twit Knit Club the story so far.....

I joined twitter to follow people, tweeted a few times, then discovered #twitknitclub and my love/addiction of twitter started :o)

Twitknitclub is a fabulous group of people on Twitter who were brought together by @scarlykfcurtis with a love of all things knitty (and lots of other things, shoes, films, tv, stationery anything sparkly!).  A project is set with a theme,  then we all tweet about our progress, posting pictures, encouraging and helping each other along the way.

When I was wee my Mum would cast on and I would knit rows and rows - if I went wrong she would fix it then I would continue knitting until I got bored, Mum would cast off and ta-da Teddy had a new scarf.   Back in 2010, Sister (who is an excellent knitter) taught me how to cast on and off and purl and I knitted a couple of blue squares. They were lurking in a plastic bag in the spare room.

Project One  - A patchwork blanket.
This was great for me as I could only knit squares and had already done a couple!  I have added to it and sewn it together since this picture was taken.

Project Two -  A toy.
I chose a ladybug from the Stitch London Blog and ended up knitting a little ladybug family.  For this pattern I learnt how to M1 and K2tog. 

Project Three - A hat.
My pattern came from a knitting book Hubby had bought Minibakebakegirl.  I learnt how to rib (via youtube - amazing for how to knitting videos!)  The flower also came from the book and I added a button.

Project Four - Food
My favourite project so far.  Ernie!  I got the pattern from Ravelry. I learnt how to do colour work for the MILK.  The knitting was the easy part of this project - the sewing up....not so!

Project Five - Christmas
I bought a little book 20 to Make - Mini Christmas Knits and knitted a robin.   I learnt so much knitting this little chap.  Icords for his legs and major shaping was involved! Again youtube was a huge help.  I'm looking forward to seeing him again when we get the christmas boxes down from the loft.

Project Six - Valentines
I had been poorly for a couple of weeks and having spent a lot of time with a hot water bottle on my face (I had sinusitis) I decided to knit a cover for my mini hot water bottle.  I googled a few patterns but ended up making up my own (look at me!).  I sewed a knitted heart to the front.

Project Seven - Knitrelief
Scarlett had the amazing idea to set up Knitrelief on ebay for us to auction off crafty items for Sport Relief.  I decided to knit another Ernie. 

The auction went live on the Friday and I thought that if he went for £10 that would be quite respectable.   On the Thursday night Scarlett sent out an email stating that if we could deliver our items to her house they might be on Sunday Brunch on Channel 4.  I emailed Scarlet to say we could deliver on Saturday.

By Friday night Milky was at £16!

On Saturday morning me and Minibakebakegirl set off on our exciting delivery trip.  Arriving at Scarletts at the same time as us was the lovely @goldenblades91 delivering her beautiful rain cloud.  Scarlett was so sweet and Posy her dog was a cutie.  Minbakebakegirl was very quiet the whole time - she later admitted that Scarlett was her hero and was a bit awestruck :o) 

The next morning we were going to Sisterinlaws to wish  Nephew1 and Nephew2 both happy birthday.  We watched about an hour of Sunday Brunch (no sign of Milky) and then got in the car - recording the rest.  My twitknit friends kept me updated and yes Milky made a (very) brief appearance!  

The auction was ending at 7pm that night and from about 6pm the three of us and Ernie were huddled round the laptop watching the bids go up!  We counted down the last 10 seconds and in the end he went for £56!  Well of course, he was a television celebrity!

I don't know who won him and Ernie does miss him but I have bought pink wool to knit him a girlfriend :oD