Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cream cheese icing quandry

I seem to have a problem with cream cheese icing. I cannot get it to stay nice and thick and spreadable. It seems that as soon as I add the icing sugar to the cream cheese, the whole thing just turns to water...well, very runny anyway and often far too runny to even put on the cake. Ends up as more of a dip really.

So I have had a look on the internet to see if I can find any help. What I really need to know is why it is going wrong and if there is a simple solution I can employ when making it in the future.

The first few sites I looked at appeared promising from the subject heading, but was just a lot of people replying saying, "oh, I don't know why yours has gone wrong. Here's my recipe which works for me every time." Yeah, okay, but I don't really want to just be trying lots of slightly differing recipes just to work out one I can use. I think that if I know what's going wrong, I can just adapt the recipe I have. Also, some suggestions are to exclude any milk. Yep, not using any milk at the moment.

There is however a useful thread on Flickr - Cupcakes Take the Cake. Some suggestions are to add more icing sugar, but I feel like I'd have to add a shed more to even get the icing to a vaguely spreadable consistency, and it's already pretty sweet! There does however seem to be an agreement of opinion that overbeating causes some of the problems, and the post from Rebecca's Cakes suggests making a butter icing first, then adding the cream cheese last mixing only until combined. This sounds doable - although the quantities she suggests are huge!

Finally I had a look on Nigella's website at the thread there and that's just offering up recipes which work. One posting suggests Rachel Allen's recipe as a really good one - how on earth did she/he get it to work!

I'm going to try making the butter icing first, and then add the cheese. See how it goes!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rachel Allen's carrot cake

Tried another carrot cake today - this is Rachel Allen's recipe from 'Bake.' The cake is gorgeous and really tasty, however it is supposed to be topped with cream cheese orange icing.

The more astute among you will note the lack of icing on this cake! I'm not sure why it happens but ever time I try to make cream cheese icing, the mixture loses all its integrity as soon as the icing sugar hits the bowl. It's happened the last few times and I don't know whether it's something I'm doing, or whether I just haven't found a good recipe yet. So we ended up with a cream cheese orange dip with our cake this evening!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The secret life of a cardboard box

By day - ridiculously oversized packaging

But by night - super duper ace computer!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Random questions

I'm having some trouble with one of the wheels on my double buggy. So as we bought it from Mothercare I am having a look at their website to submit a query about whether I can get a replacement. Went to the Contact Us section, and here are the FAQs. Spot the odd one out? I think the Mothercare site does provide all sorts of advice about general matters as well as what they sell, but it just seemed a little out of place with the rest of the questions!

frequently asked questions

Ask your question using the search box above or browse through the categories on the left.

* I have lost my set of instructions, how do I get another set?
* What time does your customer care team operate, and how can I get in contact?
* Where is my order?
* When is the best time to conceive?
* How do I make a complaint?
* Can I track my order online?
* How can I apply for a store card?
* How can I find information on my local store?
* What are the terms and conditions?
* Does my local store have a particular item in stock?

Aha - have just noticed this is only page 1 of many questions you could look at. So maybe there are more later on in the same vein!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You know you're a parent when...

You leave the house with googly eyes stuck to your shoe.

You return from a trip to the supermarket to only then discover a large yoghurty smear over your right boob which has been there the entire time. You then realise that what you thought were simpering looks at your beautiful baby were actually sympathetic looks at you!

You feel slightly affronted when Cbeebies changes its schedule and moves your son's favourite programme. How on earth are you going to get him to sit still now while you race around trying to get everything together to leave the house??!

You judge a hotel by the size of its bathroom - after all that's where you'll be spending most of your evenings waiting for the boys to go to sleep.

Your multi-tasking skills are second to none - changing nappies, playing games and holding conversation all at the same time!

You are not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud when your son announces at the breakfast table in a hotel that he's just done 2 trumps.

You find a banana stuck in the end of your vaccuum cleaner hose.


We've just returned from our first, what I call 'holiday' with the boys (okay, it was a holiday, everyone calls it a holiday, but I've just been listening to too much Miranda Hart!). We spent a few days in East Anglia - visiting our old favourite haunt in Southwold and spending time with my family in Lowestoft, Norwich and Stokesby. So a busy time anyway added with the fact that although a lovely holiday, it was by no means a break or a rest!!

So we started with a B&B in Southwold - Newlands. A bit more expensive than I was expecting to be honest, but then it is Southwold in the summer! The B&B was great though, very accommodating of the boys (it was surprisingly difficult to find a B&B that would take children) and they had an indoor swimming pool. We didn't use it in the end but it was handy to have somewhere I could take Leo when he woke up so that Leigh and Zachary could have a bit more of a lie in. Zachary loved being away - within 2 minutes of arriving he was bouncing on the bed, and Leo had managed to open a drawer! Spent the first afternoon discovering we had left all the nappies at home, buying some very expensive nappies in the town, wandering along Southwold prom, introducing Zachary to the sea (which he adored)

fish and chips for tea, and a session with the Expressive Photo Booth on the wonderful Southwold Pier...

from which we learn that Leo only has one expression - confused! Then back at the B&B discovered we had also left ALL the toiletries at home. Great.

The next day we headed up to the cannons at Southwold to try and repeat a photo opportunity from when we came with Zachary as a baby

(2008 - I'd forgotten how mardy Zachary looked that day!)


and then headed over to Lowestoft for some paella and an afternoon on the beach with my dad and his wife - more sandcastles,

and a play with the sunglasses.

Again a lovely afternoon - doughnuts this time!

Next we headed to Norwich where we planned to stay 2 nights at a Holiday Inn and the final night with my sister and her family. Spent time with my mum and my sister and also managed to catch up with a couple of friends I haven't seen for more than a year, which was fab. Had a good wander round Norwich cathedral, a lovely lunch at Cafe Morello (highly recommended), and an afternoon at Melsop Farm Park where we met a burping sheep and where Zachary would have been happy just spending the whole time on the trampoline, without us forcing him to feed animals!

So a great holiday all in all and the boys had a fantastic time, despite both of them being slightly under the weather at varying stages. Some of the Zachary highlights - the look of absolute amazement on his face when he saw the self-closing seat on the toilet working, his declaration that "I like trumps," and randomly in the middle of the night he turned over, said "clap" and then went straight back to sleep! At breakfast on the final morning at the Holiday Inn, Zachary looked at the TV showing Sky News Sunrise presented by Eammon Holmes and announced that Mr Holmes was in fact Shrek, and then proceeded to tell us very loudly that he'd just done a trump. When Leigh tried to gently tell him that we don't usually say that in public, the volume increased and Zachary repeated himself and carried on saying "trump, trump, trump, 2 trumps..." until we managed to distract him with Coco Pops. We could not stop laughing and I'm still having to make a real effort not to burst out now as I'm typing!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Naive, Naive, Naive

I have been passing the PixieFoto studio every time I visit Mothercare and pondering whether to arrange a shoot with the boys. They've got an offer on over the summer (which included up to 60% off an order of photos made on the day) so I took the plunge and we went there today. Leigh warned me I might end up spending lots there but I was confident I would be able to resist temptation and just come back with the complimentary photo. Oh how naive I was!!!

The shoot went brilliantly and both boys were absolutely adorable. Then came the viewing of the photos. Oh they were beautiful and it was so hard to just pick a few of them - in some weird way it felt like I was rejecting the boys if I didn't choose a picture!! Anyway I settled on a few and they totalled them up for me - £636. Yes, that's with the discount. So I picked myself up off the floor, realised that the prices I had been quoted over the phone must have been already reduced (!) and reset my expectations. I didn't manage to not buy any, but I was reasonably restrained and we do now have some good presents for grandparents at Christmas. That said, it still seemed pretty expensive..but the photos were so lovely!! I'm such a sucker!

Zachary was really good, although he got a bit bored when I was trying to select pictures and make an order. He'd picked up a balloon from the display outside and then started bashing the photographers with it! Fortunately they were really good about it (I guess they're used to children!) and it was a good job there was noone else waiting. But Zachary had a great time and one of the photographers took him under her wing and let him play with some of the props and toys they use. He loved it, and I had to laugh when to call the photographer over, I could hear Zachary just shouting 'lady, lady!' Nice.