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Guilty…….of neglecting this blog!

I have reasons, of course I do. But I’m not going to get into them now. Too much time has passed. I’ll just say they were health related and jump back in!

So, I think for this post, I’ll just catch you up on what I’ve been making for my friends and family over the last few months.

Here we go…….

I’ll start with the two most notable events ❤️

Firstly, Back in November, my brother finally got married after postponing twice because of the dreaded covid!

Rustic wedding cake for my brother and sister in law ❤️
Bottom tier chocolate and Irish cream, middle lemon and top carrot cake. Flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars from http://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk
All cakes ganache coated and covered with Renshaw coloured sugarpaste #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #renshawbaking #weddingcake #rusticwedding #treebarktexture

Then in April, my daughter and son in law came over from Bucharest for their stag and Hens!

Us girls went to York on a Viking themed weekend. It was great fun, exhausting but fun!

In the lovely barn complex hired for the weekend
In the streets of York
Viking Axe Throwing!
Escape room
Viking longship cake

Everything else! From October to May 🤦🏻‍♀️

Callie:

Baptism cake for a little girl. Both tiers chocolate cake, made using Sugar and Crumbs chocolate milkshake icing sugar instead of caster sugar, then using same icing sugar in the buttercream filling. Covered in Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste. Pink colour achieved with Coloursplash pink. FMM easy rose cutters used for flowers on top. Gold accents courtesy of Sugar and Crumbs bright gold Wonderdust mixed with rejuvenator. #sugarandcrumbs1 #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #wonderdust #chocolatecake #prettypinkcake #baptismcake #cakesofinstagram🎂🍰

Jacob:

Mr Blippi birthday cake! Flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs delicious lemon drizzle icing sugar and covered in Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste coloured with Coloursplash blue, navy and orange #spongecake #sugarandcrumbs1 #selectireland #coloursplash

Ralph:

Birthday cake for a construction mad 3 year old ❤️ Main cake flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs velvet vanilla icing sugar, cupcakes in lemon drizzle and chocolate milkshake flavour. Covered in Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste. Digger made with Rice Krispie treats and Renshaw yellow sugarpaste. Also used renshaw red and orange #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #selectirelandsugarpaste #renshawfondant #birthdaycake #vanillasponge #constructioncake #noveltycakes #cupcakesofinstagram #cakesofinstagram

Nick:

Birthday cake made with Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle icing sugar in cake batter and buttercream. Coated in white chocolate ganache using Brigids ganache kit. Covered with Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste coloured with Coloursplash blue and navy. Nick’s children wanted daddy to have tools on his cake, which were painted with S&C Wonderdust silver mixed with rejuvenator spirit #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #sugarandcrumbs1 #brigidscakeroom #selectirelandsugarpaste #coloursplash #wonderdust #birthdaycake #lemoncake #noveltycake #toolcake

Zach:

I asked my lovely niece what theme 2nd birthday cake for my great nephew/grandson substitute! (My two refuse to give me grandchildren, so unfair 😆)
Apparently he likes Elmo and Woody from Toy story, so I did both!
Lemon drizzle flavour in the cake batter and buttercream, white chocolate ganache courtesy of Brigids Cake Room ganache kit, then covered in Select Ireland Platinum coloured yellow, and Mona Lisa red. I marbled what was left for the board and centre trim. I used Fractal red pen to do the check effect, and made a star shape for a sheriff badge painted with WonderDust silver. The toppers aren’t edible, just printed card on lollipop sticks!

Henry:

Yummy chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream, coated with ganache and covered with sugarpaste. Tractor base is RKT and models all hand made from modelling paste 😊#sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #monalisasugarpaste #selectirelandsugarpasteplatinum #saracinomodelingpaste #coloursplashgelcolours #birthdaycake #farmyardcake

James:

If you’re a Terry Pratchett/Discworld fan you’ll know how pleased I was with this cake for my son’s birthday.
This year’s birthday cake challenge is based on the second image.
I’m super happy with ‘The librarian’ orangutan!
The desk is the cake part and is chocolate fudge filled and crumb coated with S&C chocolate milkshake buttercream. Covered in Renshaw brown sugarpaste. The orangutan is made from Saracino modelling paste coloured with orange Coloursplash. Couldn’t resist blinging up the desk handles and decorative features with bright gold wonderdust mixed with rejuvenator.
I used the inside of the box to set the scene by sticking some images to the sides. The stone effect floor was achieved with crinkled up tin foil!
We celebrated my son’s birthday today and guess what? He said it was my best one yet! ❤️❤️❤️

Here’s a few more bits and bobs and then I think I’m up to date!

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

I buy all my cakey products from http://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk I am not sponsored by them, they’re just a really great company!

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Hospital Dis-Appointment

Hi,

I know I know it’s been a while, two months to be exact, and for that I apologise but the positivity of that last post didn’t last, and I didn’t want to lower the mood!

So I’ve left it a while, but now feel able to catch you up on what’s been happening.

If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I have a spinal cord stimulator that helps mask the pain caused by OPLL. The spinal cord stimulator was fitted in 2014 and the battery powered leads were placed according to where my pain was worse at the time.

Recently however, the pain has spread, most embarrassingly to my buttocks. Any pressure in that area has become unbearable, meaning that I can’t sit down for any length of time. Because of pain in my legs, I also can’t stand or walk for long either! A no win situation 😔

I had hoped that the device could be reprogrammed to cover the new areas, but my neuro appointment turned out to be a dis-appointment! They tried their very best, but it wasn’t to be. So I’ve been left having a review of my pain meds instead, which has so far been unsuccessful.

And I’m spending more time in bed lying flat or on my side, which isn’t ideal from a social perspective! Although I am usually joined by the dog so I do have some company 😆

Then about 6 weeks ago, I started getting very acute pain in my neck whenever I tried to turn it from side to side. I’ve been referred to MSK as I’ve had trouble with a disc in that area in the past, but because of Covid, NHS appointments have long waiting lists at the moment.

I won’t lie, it’s really been getting me down, and I haven’t felt like doing much at all.

Then, my daughter’s hen party plans began which lifted my spirits a lot. We also had a ‘zoom’ wedding fitting session which was exciting, and I began to feel better, emotionally at least!

My family keep reminding me how strong I am, even when I don’t always feel it. Surprise visits from my niece and nephew, followed by my brother and sister in law helped enormously too. And I couldn’t do anything without my lovely hubby who bears the brunt of my ups and downs on a daily basis 💗

My Sugar and Crumbs family have kept me distracted with Facebook lives and classes, and a few cake requests have got me up off my backside and actually putting some of my cakey skills into practice. And of course, recent events in Afghanistan have reminded me that there are a lot of people going through much worse.

So, I have lots to think about, to look forward to, and to be grateful for, and I’m now in the right frame of mind to appreciate that.

I’ll end by showing you some photos of cake, because it wouldn’t be a Baking for Therapy post without them would it? And if my friends didn’t keep trusting me with their requests, I wouldn’t have the therapeutic value that creating them gives me!

And here are my lovely family 💗

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie 💗

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It’s been a while………

Hi,

The last couple of months have flown by, with a mixed bag of events contributing to my lack of posting.

My health has been up and down, with several episodes of ‘fainting’ or inability to respond while still being aware of what is going on around me.

I have history of low blood pressure and of partial complex epilepsy, and it could be either or both! However it seems to have settled down for now 🤞

My gorgeous furbaby Charlie whippet has also been struggling 😢 In October last year, he had an accident and fractured his neck and displaced three discs. He was in ‘hospital’ for five days, but slowly recovered, albeit on a medication regime that seemed to be mirroring mine!

So when he started crying with pain when trying to stand we assumed he had exacerbated this prior injury. But on taking him back to the Small Animal Hospital, a CT scan revealed sacral lumbar stenosis which is so bad, his bones have been pushed out of alignment.

So today, we are taking him back so that they can prep him for surgery tomorrow. It’s very scary, but I know it’s the right option if he stands any chance of a pain free future. We won’t be allowed to visit because of Covid regulations, so it’s going to be a long week!

Charlie in happier circumstances

In amongst all this, I have of course had some welcome distraction by baking for some friends and family members ☺️

First up, I practiced with my new Brigids Cake Room ganaching kit. Instead of using ganache though I used buttercream with confetti sprinkles. Look at those straight sides and neat top! After a tidy up of the bottom edge, I was very impressed with the result, and gave it to my son and daughter in law for their wedding anniversary ❤️

This one was for my lovely mother in law’s birthday. A lemon sponge made by substituting Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle icing sugar for caster sugar in a basic Victoria sponge recipe. It was then filled with lemon buttercream and decorated with fresh fruit.

Lemon sponge

Then I made a Sticky Toffee pudding flavour birthday cake for hubby, using the same method, and topping with chocolate pearls 😋

Semi naked Sticky Toffee pudding flavoured cake

For my son’s birthday, I decided to revisit a cake I made for him five years ago, before I began learning cake decorating! Looking at the photos, I think it’s safe to say I’ve improved! In case you’re wondering, it’s a Pokemon character called Bulbasaur. Again, I made chocolate cake using S&C chocolate milkshake flavour icing sugar in the batter. It was then baked in Molly Robbins laying style Creature Creator mould. His head needed to be wider so I used cake dough to do this before covering with milk chocolate ganache made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate Callets and double cream. Once that was smooth (ish!) and set, I covered the whole thing in Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste that I’d coloured blue with Coloursplash gel colour.

I made his ‘bulb’ out of Rice Krispie treats, then covered in Renshaw’s emerald green sugarpaste.

To add the ‘splotches’ I mixed a bit of the green into the blue sugarpaste, and for the other details I used Renshaw poppy red, and black. My son James provided the plush toy for comparison 😂

Before and after…..what a difference!
Side view
Top view

The next request, from my niece for her partner, really made me giggle 🤭 I mean, do we ever grow up really? For your information……it’s a guitar pedal 😆 Chocolate cake again, ganached and covered with Select Ireland Platinum and Renshaw Poppy red and black.

I’d made too much chocolate sheet cake for the guitar pedal cake, so I decided to join the caterpillar cake club using the offcuts!

I cut them into circles and sandwiched them together with leftover Sticky Toffee pudding buttercream that I’d saved in the fridge from hubby’s cake. The whole thing was then covered in chocolate buttercream and melted white chocolate, drizzled with Callebaut strawberry flavoured chocolate, and decorated with smarties. I added a sugarpaste face and used marshmallows for the feet. The whole cake was made from leftovers and things I had in the kitchen already 😋 I named her Konnie and she was shared out via doorstep deliveries to family members ❤️

My friend then asked me to make a gluten free chocolate overload cake for her son’s 21st birthday. I’ve never made one before, so I was very cautious! I removed all my wheat based products from my work area (they were banished to the conservatory for a few days) and thoroughly cleaned my surfaces, Kitchenaid and any tools I needed…….twice!

The cake itself was relatively easy. My usual batter made with Doves farm gluten free self raising flour, and all three layers came out great. All S&C icing sugars are allergen free so the buttercream wasn’t a problem, and the sugarpaste used on the board was also gluten free.

For the decorations, I chose products based on a list provided by my friend Sam, or double checked the packaging to make sure! I gave Sam the packaging when she collected the cake too 😀 I made the chocolate shards myself from Callebaut chocolate.

Gluten-free chocolate overload cake

I was so pleased with the feedback from Sam, who said it was the best gluten-free cake she’d ever had!

Last but not least, was this Silver wedding cake for Janet and Ken, who count as family as Janet is my niece’s grandma and a lovely lady she is too 🥰 The frog Prince was an unusual request, but apparently that’s what my nieces, Amy and Lucy used to call Ken!

The cake is vanilla, made with S&C velvet vanilla icing sugar, filled with raspberry jam and velvet vanilla buttercream. I then used white chocolate ganache (Callebaut white Belgian chocolate and double cream) to coat, before covering with Select Ireland Platinum white sugarpaste. I made the froggy with Renshaw emerald green mixed with some white and added tylo to make it firmer. For decoration, I used Karen Davies plaited border mould, a rose mould I’ve had for ages, and hand made the little church. I also used a Sugarflair silver sparkle lustre dust, and finishing sparkle pump spray.

And that’s about it! March to May cakes cover a lot of family birthdays including mine which was made for me by my lovely daughter in law Abigail and is pictured below ❤️

My birthday cake 😋

Well, back to reality now, please keep Charlie in your thoughts tomorrow 🤞

Until next time, stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used in the cakes in this post:

Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars

Callebaut Belgian chocolate Callets

Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste

Renshaw coloured sugarpaste

Coloursplash gel colours

Fractal Calligra edible pens

Sugarflair silver sparkle lustre dust

Doves farm gluten free self raising flour

Karen Davies plaited border mould

Rainbow dust Tylo powder

Sprinkleicious chocolate pearls

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Telling it like it is…..

It’s been some time since I last posted, so I thought I would catch you up on what’s been happening over the last two months.

My mother in law was in hospital for 7 weeks (not Covid related) and we were all very worried for her. She’s home now but needing care. She’s not in our bubble so it’s very frustrating not to be able to help more, but hopefully will continue to recover.

I have seen an increase in my anxiety levels, partly I’m sure from worrying about her, but also in general. As you know, my distraction techniques include learning more about cake decorating in online live classes – Thank you Sugar and Crumbs – and I’ve also been trying some mindfulness exercises.

https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop.html?cat=144

Getting Started with Mindfulness

In a bid to distract myself as much as possible, I’ve been baking for my friends, which is great for my mental health, but does take a toll on my physical issues.

As always, it’s a precarious balancing act between the benefits and the outcome, and I don’t always get it right!

In my online class groups I’m the joker, (amongst others!) who always has a quip ready, and I love the camaraderie in there, it really lifts my mood. But each bake or class also takes a few days to recover from.

My poor husband bears the brunt of this as my carer, and has become used to the transition from ‘Joker’ to ‘Zombie’! He really is the only one who sees this side of me, but is so supportive as he knows it keeps me sane and feeling useful.

But with his Mum being ill, he’s had more than me to worry about obviously, and I’ve been doing my best to support him too. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to be anxious about eh? 🤦🏻‍♀️

This past week, I’ve also been filling in my PIP award review. Although not as detailed as the original form 5 years ago, it does ask about any changes. This meant going over the answers from last time in order to ascertain if there had been any. Unfortunately, this brought back everything from my accident, diagnosis, surgeries, counselling and therapies from 2012 to present. All the things I try not to think about, suddenly rushing back to haunt me once again!

I know the review is necessary, but it took me a long time to be able to look forward instead of dwelling on the past, and it was a bit of a shock to the system to realise how close to the surface it still is. But it’s done now, so hopefully I can get back my positivity!

Mother in law home, hubby had his first vaccination (he’s older than me) and I have mine tomorrow. We’re moving in the right direction 😊

My lovely mother in law shortly after she was allowed home from hospital 😊

So rather than this post being about one cake, I’m going to thank you for letting me ramble on, and just show you some pictures of all the cakes I’ve made since January and end on a positive note!

I hope you are finding your own ways of dealing with this strange situation we’ve been in for the past 12 months. We’re only human and it’s normal to have some anxiety and stress, and not to beat ourselves up about it, so I’m sending positive vibes to each and every one of you.

Keep doing whatever it is you do to keep sane!

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

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Pretty Cotton Reel Cake

This cake was the third in a series of classes with the lovely Georgie Godbold…..online of course, but a live class nevertheless.

Unfortunately, Georgie had an unavoidable family situation so was unable to take the class herself. Rather than cancel, Gerry Chiu from Studio8Cakes very kindly stepped in 😁

Because this was a paid class, I can’t reveal the techniques we were taught, but I can show you the finished cake!

Cotton Reel Cake featuring Georgie’s trademark ‘sugar wobblies’ animals

I made this back in September and it was my Mum’s birthday cake. Mum loves sewing so it came just at the right time!

I used my vanilla cake recipe but substituted the caster sugar with Sugar and Crumbs raspberry ripple icing sugar. For the buttercream crumbcoat I used lemon drizzle flavour. I love the raspberry/lemon combination, it’s so refreshing…..like pink lemonade 🥤

https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop-by-brand/sugar-and-crumbs/icing-sugar.html

For the models and other edible items I used Renshaw flower and modelling paste, and to cover the cake I used Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste.

The mould for the scissors is from Patchwork Cutters

All the participants, whether watching to do later or taking part on the day had an absolute blast! These online classes are so much more than just tuition. It’s a chance to ‘get together’ with my online friends from Sugar and Crumbs and share some much needed light hearted banter too.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Carol McFarland from Sugar and Crumbs for setting up these online classes with some extremely talented tutors including Molly Robbins, Gerry Chiu, Georgie Godbold, Oli the Choc, Dawn Butler, Do Griffin, Hannah the ‘Cake Illusionist’ and not forgetting the Cupcake bouquet, Buttercream Flowers, and Nifty Nozzles Classes that Carol herself hosts!

All the classes are available here 😀

I’m even more thankful for all the free Facebook live sessions that Sugar and Crumbs have been doing throughout the Pandemic 😷 This is in addition to the regular sessions, so there’s barely a day goes by that I don’t look forward to checking in with Karen Griffiths, Carol McFarland or a guest tutor to learn how to make something yummy 😋 With so many people struggling with their mental health at the moment, I can honestly say they’ve been an absolute lifeline, and I know that the rest of the S&C family will concur 🥰

Hopefully I won’t be making this much mess, but there are no guarantees 😆

Note to family: There’s plenty of edible Christmas gifts coming your way!

If you’d like to join in with the live sessions, all you need to do is find ‘Sugar and Crumbs with nifty nozzles’ Facebook page…that’s it! Easy peasy 😀