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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

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Classes, Family, Friends, Learning, Mindfulness, Novelty Cakes, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

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 ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Classes, Family, Friends, Fun, Gerry Chiu, Health, Learning, Novelty Cakes, Recipes, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

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 😀

Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Health, Learning, Therapy

Beautiful Cupcake Bouquets – The Perfect Gift

Who doesn’t love receiving a beautiful bouquet? And what if that bouquet was edible?!

Hi guys!

Well, as you know I’ve been on an online cupcake bouquet course run by Sugar and Crumbs, and it’s safe to say that I’ve been getting my money’s worth! I’ve just done my 3rd class and I just love the results I’ve been achieving 😍

It’s been a wonderful way to cheer up my family during lockdown too. Delivery has been socially distanced obviously, but everyone has been so happy to receive them 😀 They’ve even been giving back the empty structure for refills 😂

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying making them, and looking forward to the next class on 13th June 😀

Before that though I’ll be doing Molly Robbins course! I’m just a bit excited!

Molly is renowned for her novelty cake creations, and in the first class we are going to be making a platter of burger, fries, chicken nuggets and even a drink in the style of a popular fast food company that sounds a bit Scottish 😂 I’ve had a preview today and it looks amazing!

Whether mine looks anything like that remains to be seen, but having attended one of Molly’s classes pre lockdown, I know she is a great tutor. However it turns out, I will be back to tell you all about it 😀

Meanwhile, if you would like to take either online course yourself, here are the relevant links:

Beautiful Cupcake Bouquets

Molly’s Cake Club online

Until next time

Keep staying safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Health, Learning, Therapy

How are you coping with lockdown fever?

Hey everyone

Here in the UK, we’ve now had 2 months of ‘lockdown’, and I must say that for the most part, it has been rigorously observed. Community spirit has never been better, with heartwarming stories everywhere about what people are doing to help others cope with being isolated.

My hobby is being supported brilliantly by frequent Sugar and Crumbs Facebook ‘lives’ broadcast several times a week, either by Carol McFarland or Karen Griffith from S&C itself, or guest tutors filming in their own homes. Each time, we are shown how to achieve a different recipe. These are absolutely free to access, and you can do so via the Facebook page ‘Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles’. All you need to do is like the page and you’ll be notified every time there’s a tutorial 😀 You can also find all their past ‘lives’ there or on their YouTube channel, so there’s no excuse to get bored anytime soon!

Carol has also featured on ‘Cakeflix’ another cake community run by Paul Bradford. He and his partner have set up ‘Caking all over the World’ and have got lots of renowned ‘Cakers’ doing guest slots for them.

If Cake isn’t your ‘thing’ try searching for something that is! Crafters TV (Crafters Companion) is also providing ‘lives’ for its followers. This company is owned by Sara Davies of ‘Dragon’s Den’ fame, and they have lots of different activities to join in with. Whatever your hobby, I’m willing to bet there’s something out there to keep you from lockdown fever!

Since my last post, there has been another Cupcake bouquet class too. Sadly I wasn’t able to do it along with Carol and my fellow ‘bouqueteers’ on the day, as I wasn’t feeling too well, but I watched it all and managed to produce my bouquets a few days later. The great thing is that I can rewatch both previous classes anytime I like, and any others going forward 😀 There’s a mini nozzles class already set up for 26th May, and another full class scheduled for June 13th. Although this is a paid class, it’s extremely good value for money, as it’s a one off payment giving you access to every previous and subsequent broadcasts! At £50, it’s an absolute bargain, and as it’s online it can be watched from anywhere in the world! If you’d like to join the merry band of ‘bouqueteers’, click the link here: Cupcake Bouquet Class

Along with my new bouquets, I’ve also made another Pokemon themed cake since I last saw you. This one is ‘Gengar’ and was made for Robb, my niece’s fella who had his birthday last week. You might recall that my niece, Amy, had a beautiful baby boy two months ago. Lockdown has prevented any of the family having a cuddle yet, but we are being kept well provided with daily photos. He’s way too young to appreciate Pokemon cake, but Robb has two girls from a previous relationship, and they waited to cut it until they were there ❤️

Gengar ……bit of a Cheshire Cat vibe going on
My gorgeous Great Nephew, Zach
The girls enjoying a slice of the Gengar cake

Gengar was made from purple velvet cake (red velvet with purple food colour instead of red!) with purple tinted white chocolate buttercream. The whole cake was then covered in sugarpaste* I also got the opportunity to try out a new gadget ‘the lil’ rolly’ by the company ‘Evil Cake Genious’ and I must say, I’m impressed! It is for smoothing out ridges and bumps in buttercream, ganache and Royal Icing, and resembles a tiny paint roller** Evil Cake Genius is an American company but Sugar and Crumbs is their uk supplier, and does currently have stock. There’s a brief video tutorial by Evil Cake Genius on YouTube here: and a more in depth one by Sugar and Crumbs where Carol tries it out for the first time here:

Before and after using the lil’ rolly!

*I used Select Ireland Supreme Silk White, and Renshaw Deep Purple Renshaw Tiger Orange, Renshaw Jet Black, Renshaw Emerald Green (mixed with white) Gandar has one support dowel (milkshake straw) right down the centre and is sitting on a.10” round cake drum

**This product is food safe. Please do not use any similar items from a diy store!

Well, that’s all for now, keep caking, crafting, sewing or whatever is keeping you sane!

Most of all

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️