Hello and welcome to my Little Willow blog, well welcome to those who might stumble across it anyway as I have yet to give this address to anyone :) I thought I might try and see how I get along with just writing in it first. It's all a lot of random stuff, but hey, hopefully there'll be something interesting for people

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Cake Decorating Class update

Hello all

I can't actually remember what my last post was on this and whether I'll miss any weeks out but I'm going to tell you about the last 2 weeks.

The week before last we made a little novelty, ideal for Mother's Day or as a little gift to give someone for their birthday. This didn't actually involve cake in any way. We made a Pot of Primula's. I had to google what Primula's were - I mean I guessed they were flowers but I'd not heard of them before. Apparently they are from the same family as primroses and come in all kinds of colours.

This little novelty was quite simple to make and looked pretty effective. We were instructed to bring a walnut whip and sugarpaste, along with a bright colour, green colour and terracotta colour. I could do the first 3 things but I don't have the colours to make terracotta but the teacher had these available on the night.

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.

Last week we made an Easter novelty - a duck in bed :)

For this we were required to bring in an Easter egg, a creme egg, some buttons and plenty of sugarpaste with yellow and green colours and also another colour for the duvet cover. I really enjoyed making this novelty gift and feel there was much scope for differing the design.
It did take a fair while to make this but there was quite a long session where we sat and watched the teacher make it and then we had to go and follow her instructions. We used one half of the Easter egg for the 'bed' and the creme egg was used as the duck's 'body' beneath the duvet. The egg was filled up with buttons and then the duvet cover was placed over most of the egg and covered the creme egg and buttons. A pillow was also made to place the duck's head on, all of which were created with sugarpaste. Although I imagine should someone prefer, marzipan could be used in place of this.

I decorated my (too large) cake board with the moon and stars but there's so much more that could be done - slippers, book, anything really. Also I think a rabbit would be a cute change to make and also Easter-y.
I took my novelty into work and gave it to Karen for her daughter Emily and used this "prototype" to send an email around work to ask if anyone would like one for any friends or family etc and to date I have 7 to make for Easter, for 3 orders and I also have one to make for Ella also! Lots to do, I'll be busy that weekend before Easter. To do this though, I still have a few bits to buy - I need the smaller cake boards and also a roll of cellophane, both of which I've sourced on Ebay, I'm just waiting for pay day now lol.

Next week we'll be making another Easter novelty, possibly two so that'll be fun :)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

R.I.P Jay

Told you he wasn't one for cuddles!
Jay, the best dog in the world, had to be put to sleep yesterday. He hadn't been well for a good few weeks now with trips back and forth to the vet every few days. They'd initially thought he had bronchitis but he'd get better on the antibiotics for a few days and then he'd dip back down again. They had thought they would X-Ray him yesterday to investigate his liver and lungs but it was decided that it wouldn't be kind to put him through all that, especially if there was nothing they could do.
I was at work when my mum phoned me to tell me and my lovely manager was kind enough to let me leave so I hopped a taxi to the vet and was so glad that he wasn't gone when I arrived, they'd waited for me to get there. I got to say goodbye to him and we were all there when the time came, talking to him, stroking him and he went peacefully. The staff at the Ark Veterinary Centre were amazing and so kind, they let us spend as much time with him as we wanted, both before and after. It was so hard to leave him and come home without him; the house just isn't the same.

We have had Jay since he was 7 weeks old - we got him from Freshfield Animal Rescue in August 1999 and we gave him his birthday as 29th June. Along with his brothers and sisters, he had been abandoned outside the rescue centre at 3 and a half weeks old. The day we went to visit the Centre, looking for a puppy, they were all in a big cage, tiny little things, all making pathetic whimpering noises. Although it took me a long time to actually decide which puppy to have, I think I wanted Jay from the moment I saw him, stuck behind the litter tray where he couldn't get out. As soon as I'd decided on Jay, he gave me a kiss under my chin, further clinching the deal.

I'm bored of all these photo's now!
Jay loved his dad and would follow him everywhere - at least until he took him to the park, and once there he loved nothing more than playing with his frisbee. Everyone knew him in the park because of this. He was very good at jumping and catching it in mid air. Everyone thought he was a beautiful dog, and he was - he was a lovely black and tan colour and looked much like a german shepherd, which we are convinced he was, at least in part.

However, Jay wasn't the most affectionate of dogs and I don't believe he really thought he was a dog. In most households with a dog, I'm sure common phrases heard are 'get off the couch', 'get off the bed' etc etc, well Jay wanted to be different and despite numerous attempts to get him to jump on the couch or bed for cuddles, he refused to, the only exception being when there were fireworks and we were trying to get him to go outside before bed.

Jay was a very intelligent dog and in addition to learning sit and lie down etc, we taught him to close the door. but Jay being the contrary dog he was, he would often just look at you as if to say 'do it yourself'. I always found the fact that he knew exactly what you were saying and what you wanted him to do, yet chose not to do it, quite amusing at times and frustrating at others, but I loved this quirk in his character.

Jay would bark at everyone who came to the door, postman, milkman, hairdresser, friends and family, and continued to do so despite the fact that they came to the house everyday or every week. He was a good protector in the case of making a deterrent noise but I reckon if someone retalliated, he'd run the other way, he was such a scaredy cat! He hated the wind and the thunder and didn't like being laughed at :-) As I said, Jay would bark at everyone and it took him a while to make friends with you, but once he did, he'd love you forever and you'd get big hugs and kisses whenever you came to visit and he'd never forget you. It was a nice welcome home after a long day at work.

Until the last few months Jay had been a boisterous ball of fun, always wanting to play, he loved the pudding ball and the Santa ball, and it's been so sad to see the decline in him.

Jay was 11 years and 9 months old when he died. I'm sure he's now somewhere in doggie heaven, barking at everyone, telling them what's what. And although I know it was the best thing for him, as he was in a lot of pain, I still wish he was here with me.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Birthday cake - a commission!

Wow, I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted - time has gone by so quickly and so much has happened! But I'll save that for another post.

I just wanted to post some pictures of the birthday cake I have made for a colleague of mine who asked if I would make it for her for which she bought me a little baking tray with teddy bear moulds on for me which was really lovely of her.
Anyway despite it being such a busy weekend, I managed to fit in making this cake - somehow! I made the cake on Friday night and then on Saturday I added the jam and buttercream and covered the cake in white sugarpaste and then today (Sunday) I finally decorated it.

I wasn't entirely sure how to go about decorating it at first but I decided to use the applique technique we'd learned in cake class this past week (I'll do another post on that!) but in order to do this, I had to go shopping - such a shame :p I'd heard in cake class about this place in Warrington - not far from Gemini retail park - but on the other side of the motorway and it's a very well stocked shop - I walked in and was like 'Wow' and spent the best part of an hour there. I needed to buy leaf cutters and veiner and also some flower cutters and some green dusting powder so I could paint on the vines.

One mistake I made when decorating, which I won't be making again, was that I cut out loads of flowers and leaves in a variety of colours but just didn't think about the sugarpaste going hard, so I had to be very careful when adding to the cake as they were no longer pliable, which unfortunately meant the decoration lost some of its 3D effect. I also made too many flowers and leaves so ended up throwing the remainder away which is a shame.

I'm also disappointed with how the writing turned out - getting things straight and symmetrical is not a strong skill of mine. I feel I am mastering the actual writing itself and the lettering is fine (well not bad anyway) but I'm struggling with the placement of the words and I'm not entirely sure how to rectify this. As you can see in the picture below, the top line needs to be shifted to the left a bit lol. Maybe it'll just be practice...

 Anyway I really hope Geraldine likes the cake, which is the main concern overall. Hope you all enjoy the photos as well.