Why Fairies Don’t Say Thank You


If you want to get a fairy really angry just say ‘thank you’ to them. Fairies live in a society where ‘thank you’ is the worst swear word that can be said by an unknowing human. They are far more likely to forgive you for deliberately stamping on their foot a hundred times or dunking them in a well, than if you utter those two words of blasphemy in their presence.

Enchanted 4Let’s turn the tables and imagine for a moment that you’re a Fairy; you’ve toiled to complete a particularly arduous task for a human and they dare to utter those words in response. You take the required sharp intake of breath to fuel the red mist above your eyes and all rational fairy thoughts have left the building. You explode into an unstoppable rage that involves gnashing teeth and clenched fists. The human stands back, looks at you all confused, and comments ‘how odd Fairies are’. You reply as calmly as possible that ‘thank you’ is like a magical human spell that dismisses the work you’ve just done so that it becomes instantly forgotten, like a piece of chewing gum hiding inside fluff in the corner of your coat pocket. You add, ‘that right now you’d like to give them the biggest wedgie ever and if they ever dare to say that to you again – you will’.

thank you fairies

 I never gave my use of ‘thank you’ a single thought until the main character in ‘Instar‘ (Maia) attempts to say ‘thank you’ to a Fairy called Caspian. She quickly learns to avoid the word at all costs, but to understand how this would really feel I spent a week acknowledging deeds without using Fairy swear words (thank you). I can honestly say I never realised how many times a day I said those words until the second they were taken from my vocabulary. After a door was opened or someone passed me something I was left with a silent void and I fidgeted on the spot while the other person stared at me with expectation gleaming in their eyes. My automatic response system kicked in and the words formed inside my mouth where they bubbled and frothed, and fizzed, like an over agitated alka selzer ready to be ejected into the atmosphere and splatter across the recipient’s face, like a ‘thank you’ version of ‘you’ve been tangoed’.

Maia-thanks

Truthfully, keeping those words locked inside my head proved a far harder task than I’d ever thought it would be. As the week wore on I began to find alternative words and gestures to fill the awkward moments. And, then it became clear; Fairies aren’t being awkward or rude by not saying thank you; they are making sure their actions speak louder than words. They choose the more meaningful option of ‘show and not tell’. In my novel Instar, Caspian explains; Fairies rarely say ‘thank you’ to each other because the gesture binds them to watch over the recipient’s life with their own. Now, when you put it like that you begin to reconsider using ‘thank you’ with such abundance, as there’s no way you’d want to be indebted to some of the people you say thanks to every day.

ButterfliesBookmarks2

By the end of the week I found a smile and a nod went just as far, if not further than saying ‘thank you’ and using other words challenged me to think more deeply about the gratitude I wanted to convey. I realised that it’s the repetition of words like ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ that truly lessens their value. Perhaps, Fairies are teaching us that we need to put more effort into the words we say regularly and make sure the words we really mean are felt and not just heard. With this in mind, my thoughts turned to my group of readers who are known affectionately to me as ‘Team Alpha’. These people willingly stepped inside my story bubble and became part of my World and I wanted them to have a memory to keep, and to feel my thanks, and as they’d just read my novel about Fairies it seemed wrong to get a card with the biggest fairy insult plastered across the front.

Butterflies Bookmarks

So I made them gifts instead, but honestly and truthfully if I was a Fairy I would say ‘thank you’ to each of them because I’d gladly watch over their lives with my own as that’s how much they mean to me. For me, a novel is never written alone, its written alongside, and for those I cherish. I may come up with the ideas but it’s their feedback, which allows the story to go through metamorphosis and one day turn into a beautiful butterfly.

TeamAlpha

You can see their comments and more about me on my Facebook page. Stop by, like and share in the magic :)  and there is more on Pinterest where you can still find all the links to my recipes as well as the board for my book – Instar or my full site can be found at www.jacquelinejay.com as I will not be able to post all my posts on here forever, but you all seemed to be still enjoying them so I thought I would share.

A book is born: Instar on Pinterest


The most common question an author is asked is; ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ One of my favourite films is ‘Finding Neverland’ and the reason I love it so much, is because it shows me how the story of Peter Pan came to life. Ok, I also admit freely that I blub like a baby at the ending every time. But, the truth is I also love it because I’m curious, and I need to know how ideas start.

Follow Jacqueline Jay’s board A book is born – Instar on Pinterest.

A Pinterest board works in the same way, so today I grant you snooping rights with a behind the scene’s tour of the same visual journey I took to write Instar. You get to walk in my pinning shoes, and discover more about my characters, the story and locations used. Now you can see how, and where my ideas came from.

Come and join me in the never seen before world of “Instar”, a story about a seventeen-year-old girl called Maia James, who is plagued by cold shivers so intense they make her bones judder, and every time it happens her memories seem to disappear, like someone or something is stealing them? She wishes she had the power to steal memories but she never expected to get it.

Get updates on Facebook, tumblr or my website.

The problem with shopping in Hollister as a 30 something


Warning – non cake related post! This is part of my new random funny musings on life section so ignore if you wish dear readers or read on and find out random snippets from my 30 something life.

So my husband declared himself a ‘me’ day and went off windsurfing and I decided on a child free day that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander so I ventured out for a day with me, myself and I. The train was packed to Bath but the drunks on the train made the experience mildly entertaining by yelling out ‘nobody fart’ in the crowded nose in each armpit carriage and the child in me stifled a laugh because that just would’t be grown up would it.

From the train I ventured to Hollister which is my favourite shop despite not being 12 I have confession to make I love it there. I’m not sure if it is because it is dark and nobody can see my wrinkles, the cool surf carefree music taking me back to my youth or the rather alluring man on the bag at the end that even though inside I know he is probably gay but he always does it for me and I clutch my bag with pride as I leave. The last time to Hollister they had the bag with just the male body and no head which was such a treat for me. As my Husband carried the shopping back to the car I said ‘Could you hold the bag a bit higher? No just a tad more – yes that’s it!’ I exclaimed as he held it about neck height and suddenly he had a body to die for- that’s OK right or is that a 50 shades of grey area (more on that topic another day!).

Hollister Bags

On entering a Hollister store in my head my sparkly bits in my hair are transformed to blonde sun kissed highlights and lets face it nobody would know as it is so damn dark in there. I feel at home in there, hell you could be in there all day with the magazines, cool leather charis, tunes, perfumes to spritz in the air and walk through. In this store I am able to mingle with the cool, beautiful people who say Hello to ME! In my defence this has never happened to me as at school I was the ugly child who would often be found screaming inside a wooden desk with the beautiful people sat on top of it laughing.

Hollister staff are so darn happy in there that I found myself contemplating how many times I could go in and out of the shop just to be greeted and wished a great day too? Would I get escorted out and outcast like my School days? Nope I actually managed it 3 times as my luck was in and the bag by the face technique was obviously working. Oh OK there was a different person on the door each time but still I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman instead of a the sad 30 something I am. All I needed to complete that picture would be a Hollister God with his low slung shorts, flip flop’s a flipping as he tends to my every clothing need whilst clicking his fingers to call Adonis, Sutra and Romeo (sigh). They should offer a groupon for that I would totally buy it and gift some too.

The problem with shopping in Hollister when you’re a 30 something is:

1. You have to pretend to be looking for a teenager not yourself.
2. You need a head torch to see anything or at least an iPhone torch app to light up the prices. Personally I pack both and ignore the strange looks.
3. If you forget your head torch you will need to do the charchtersitic ‘I am over 30 signal’ which is holding the garment up to the nearest downlighter whilst tutting loudly at the price for such a small piece of material – young people NEVER do this!
3. Always head for the messy shelves and make like a possessed woman at a jumble sale.
4. If you are over a size 12 forget it – Hollister only make clothes for tiny people and 12 year olds.
5. If you have managed to make it to a 30 something with no cellutlite or stretch marks I salute you. That won’t be many of us I am sure. A word of warning here the short short shortest of shorts (that’s the only offerings in Hollister) you are daring to try on may look good in the specially dimmed lighting but in reality they are not quite so forgiving so give us all a break.
6. The changing room doors are really high up so bear this in mind when you are trying to coerce and wiggle yourself into contorsionist angles to get into a pair of skinny jeans (the largest size available and you are only a 10 normally) the thin young, pretty pre-pubescent people will be able to see your dance and snigger.
7. You will need a pair of shades to protect your eyes from the vampire like shock of daylight as you head outside as your realise your night owl days are long gone and you just can’t cope with the two extremes and end up walking into people whilst your eyes are adjusting.

Excited with my new purchases I also brought something for everyone else in the family basically so I don’t feel guilty because I love them . I had a great day and proudly showed my new bikini to my Husband but when my Son walked in and then held a five minute conversation with my breasts and I realised with some sadness it was time to have ‘that talk’ with him. Of course on heading off to get some clothes on I heard my Husband say to him ‘Don’t listen to your Mother you can have a conversation with girls boobs just not your mum’s cause thats not cool’ tsk tsk Mr Cakeboule you’re supposed to back me up but as I made you carry the bag so high the other day I’ll let you off just once. To end the day I celebrated with a pink lemonade cocktail (click on link for recipe) and watched the icy heart melt (sigh) yes a perfect end to a perfect day whilst they watched football I sat in my far too tiny Hollister shorts that I have to say I will not be seen dead in outside of the house but I am not capable of taking my own advice. Just to freak them out I correctly predicted each goal or fail in the penalty shoot out and then got blamed for jinxing it so I guess I only have my Hollister bag for company tonight :)

Pink Lemonade Heart

Pink Lemonade Cocktail Cakeboule

Love to all x Why no recipe I hear you wonder – hell I have to fit Hollister clothes – enough said!

Tales, Gales and Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies from a VW Camper


I’m finally back safely inside four walls from a wet and windy week in Devon in our newly restored 1979 Moonraker VW Campervan. This has been my childhood dream which has taken my husband nearly two years of really hard work to make it reality. Join me in my little journey with some funny moments through instagram as well as a quick recipe for triple chocate mocha brownies which I just had to bake when I was finally reunited with my oven (see if you too are a baking addict here).

Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Many of you have met May (the VW Camper) before but here she is:

VW Camper 1979

May’s first trip

The week before the holiday welcomed glorious sunshine which was hotter than anywhere in Europe ensuring that Britain was finally baring its brigade of white legs. Of course in true British style a double bank holiday to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee and a coinciding half term from school meant that the weather was always destined to take a turn for the worst.

1979 VW Moonraker

Even the rice pops matched!

The first disaster was the brand new fridge (but brought a year ago) which stopped working the night before and filled the van with nasty gases meaning my military precision meal plan was out the window and I was forced to live camping life on the edge (well with ice blocks anyway).

Instagram image

We finally set off and crawled our way to Devon with my Husband’s best bromance friend (I’ll call him Ronald) following behind in his ‘Herbie’ style Beetle which caused a lot of amusement in the Services.  The duo had planned secret signals to communicate with each other on the way down in SAS style (aka Sad and Stupid!).

VW Campervan Herbie Beetle

The troublesome duo

After a 5 hour stop start journey we found another member of the VW family next to us and luckily we got the tent up just before…

Raining

But even with the rain my newly purchased rainbow bunting seemed to make it all a little bit brighter (how stupid was I?)

Rainbow Bunting

A wet campsite

The Twilight Zone

Ron has to lose some weight so as well as starving him for the week (I don’t make as much food as he gets at home) we were making him go for walks too. I like to think of it as VW inspired weight loss holiday camp (people pay loads of money for those don’t they?).  We came across a set of ‘slippery when wet’ steps (220 of them) on our hike wn I suddenly had the urge to stop and turn around. My husband took a photo of me and when we looked back at the photograph there was a rather spooky ‘thing’ standing next to me.  At first I thought it was a mirror image of me but from looking at the actual picture it isn’t.  It does look rather like a man stood next to me and there was nobody there at the time.  This image is only one taken of my computer screen but you get the idea!.  Whatever it is the trail goes right in front of me and certainly makes me wonder what’s out there?

Spooky image

What is it it?????

The ‘Wee Wee’ shuffle

After all the rain I was soaked through and in need of a shower so I plodded off. One of the things I hate about camping is the journey to the toilet block. When you are at home you will never need to get up in the night to go to the loo yet when camping it will be a nightly adventure of dodging guy ropes, muddy puddles and twisting your ankle in rabbit holes to get there. The added joy is that when you are doing this your bladder is fit to burst and the urgency is making you do the ‘wee wee’ shuffle walk all the way there which in reality is speed walking but with a swagger on. Luckily it’s dark and you just have to pray nobody sees you.

wee wee walk

Wet, Wet, Wet

The other joyous thing about camping is the showers and after a day of being wet right through I decided that I would warm up and get some dry clothes. The showering part is alright it ‘s the apres shower that sucks. The clothes that normally I do not have a problem getting on shrink and gain a unique ‘cling-on’ style quality. Every inch of fabric has to be pulled and coerced onto my skin in way that is similar to getting a wet suit on. The challenge of the campsite showers game is you have to do it without getting one inch of your clothes in the grass ridden muddy puddles that form in this unique environment. So there I was feeling a bit warmer, ready to put on my dry pair of smalls when they decided they would do a triple somersault out of my hands. Crying ‘Nooooooo’ I scrambled after them whilst witnessing in horror their second by second descent towards the muddy depths of camping puddle hell. My feet started slipping and sliding on the floor as I overstretched and eventually I came to a crash on my knees half in and half out of the shower curtain to the amusement of my fellow female campers.  There was an awkward few second stillness in the room as they took in my rather crumpled state, a floating pair of underwear with tears forming in my eyes. It was then I got the campers nod that says ‘it’s OK we’ve all been there’ and then they duly carried on brushing their teeth probably thanking their lucky stars that their clothes were dry whilst I regained my composure and dignity.

The sun will come out tomorrow

Every Brit knows that a ray of sunshine means shorts even if it’s still freezing cold outside but who cares the sun is out! We had a picnic (shivering) on the beach and watched the air ambulance rescue some poor surfer and before leaving we found a nice little pub after many arguments and ordered coffees.  ‘That’s not ours is it?’ Ronald innocently asked as the barmaid gave him his coffee. Ronald had never had espresso before so it was quite a shock for him to see such a small cup – bless him. To make up for it he ordered cheesy chips and the rest of them had brownie sundaes whilst I enjoyed a beer in the sun and smirked over the whole mini coffee incident quietly.

San Miguel

What do you get when you cross Herbie, four people and a steep hill? The answer: you get a poor little car screaming her nuts and bolts off to try to get up the hill in first gear!  The big boys had their hands out the windows and were making whipping gestures as if Herbie were a horse. My Son and I furiously were rowing in the back seat to help gain speed and the family in the car behind us were doing pushing movements to try to and help us up the hill!  We screamed with laughter and when she (yes in times of equality this Herbie has had a sex change) finally made it to the top (although it would probably have been quicker to have walked) we got applause from the rather large queue of traffic behind and the car waiting to come down the hill.

Trying to get up the hill

Trying to get up the hill – you can do it Herbie

Always watch where you sit

The next rainy day we ventured to an outlet shopping village. Whilst sat in a coffee shop Ron who is proud of himself for ordering an extra large coffee to make up for his last error.  He looks across to see two not quite so attractive teenage girls walk in. He turns to my Son and says ‘There you go there’s some girls for you’ and laughs. I am shocked to learn hy Son is actually interested in girls (I know I shoudl know better) and my son turns to look his face is an absolute picture of horror which in turn makes the boys laugh. In life I do believe in karma so the next thing we knew there was a loud clatter. All we see is Ron’s head poking out between the two seats which he is now wedged between as his hearty laughter caused him to fall off his chair and the sign behind bent. I actually cried with laughter at this one.

Costa Coffee

Tantrums and Tiaras

By now with the continual rain everyone was forced to be with each other 24/7 which meant that quite frankly we were all starting to get on each others nerves. As much as you may love the people you are with there is a thing called personal space and you miss it when you don’t have any. I found I spent time sat in the loo just for a bit of respite and dryness. We knew the weather was going so I asked my husband if the wind speed was likely to be gale force (the campsite was quickly emptying – did they know something I didn’t) and he promised me it wasn’t and as a occasional windsurfing instructor I believed him.  First big rookie camper mistake – never believe a man when it comes to size or speed.

driftwood

We went for a quiet walk (well needed) with just the two of us and I got a feeling it was time to head back as we sat on the beach in a rare moment of sunshine.

and relax

and relax….

That night has to be the worst night ever in my camping history and I have already admitted firmly to being a fair weather camper. The tent swayed, buckled and the van rocked and trust me the old adage of ‘don’t come a knocking if the van is a rocking’ clearly doesn’t apply when you’re sat in a tent in the middle of nowhere with winds that were 5mph less than hurricane category (oh how he lied to me). The wind and rain was so loud the DVD the boys were trying to watch could not be heard. Incidently the DVD was ‘idiot abroad’ and I said to my Husband by making us stay he was making us do our own version but called ‘An idiot on a campsite’ which I think should be the next big reality show to hit our TV screens just think of all the things you would see like stupid people who stay in gale force winds and wee wee shufflers falling down holes.

Packing up

Ronald spent the evening laughing at me for being scared of the wind but by Friday morning good old Karma was back in force. Ronald proclaimed loudly and repeatedly that he had officially had enough and was going home, directly home without passing go. That night the wind had blown rain straight into his bedroom compartment throught the air vents, his air bed burst and he woke up doing breast-stroke in his tent and not being a great lover of exercise at the best of times this was the straw that broke the camels back. After many arguments, a full on diva style strop (my husband) and weather searches on the internet we finally gave up and packed up our gear.

Hours of washing later and the next day being warm and sunny (ironic huh) my Son and I sat and played scrabble but from the words you see I must have been traumatised by it all! My husband who is obviously not traumatised by it sodded off in the van to spend yet another day in a field at with VW’s at a show but he got a sunnier day (git). Would I do it again? Yes sadly I would and I am already planning next years trip but perhaps Spain would be kinder to us weather wise.

Scrabble

ChocaMocha Brownies
As we had brownie sundaes on holiday I just had to bake some when I got home – a perfect holiday memory and the coffee addition well thats there to always remind me of that moment in Costa (tee hee). There won’t be posh pictures this time as quite frankly sometimes life is too short but trust me they hit the spot.

85g butter
100g plain chocolate
175g dark muscavado sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tbs instant coffee mixed wtih 1 tsp of boiling water
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g white chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)
50g milk chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped into small pieces)

Triple Chocolate Mocha BrowniesInstructions

1. Preheat oven to 180C / 160 Fan / Gas 4
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and melt .  Stir and leave to cool.
3. Put the sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Fold in the choclate mixture and then sift the flour and baking powder over. Fold in carefully (lightly). add the chopped chocolate and pour into a 18cm tin round or square.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins (depends on how you like your brownies – if you like really gooey you may even fnd it is 20 mins)
5. Leave in the tin to cool and then cut into squares. Job done, sit back and dry off if you have just got back from camping like me. If you have a 20cm tin it will still work but bake for 20 -25 mins and it will be a little bit flatter.  Always tastes the same.

Enjoy x

I am entering these brownies into We Should Cocoa ran by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog as this month it is coffee! This month is hosted by Laura who runs the Kitchen Maid blog.

7 Random Facts About Me


Thank you to All that glitters for awarding me the Kreativ and Versatile Blogger award I am truly honoured. I met all that glitters over a conversation about ginger cupcakes.  She runs a fantastic blog with a wealth of interesting articles from beauty, cooking, fashion and food of course!  With such a wide variety to read there is always something to enjoy.  Of course part of the award is that I have to reveal 7 random facts about myself so here goes….

7 Things about me:

  1. I have a second marriage to baking – sometimes I scream at it, argue, fuss, pine for it, laugh at it.  Occasionally it gets the silent treatment and I file for divorce but it never agrees.
  2. I love to stand in the rain – the harder it is raining the better but not on straight hair days.
  3. I love dragonflies as like them I flit from one thing to another with super charged speed.
  4. I have lots of partially started books on all differnt themes that I have written and have never finished one yet but dream of doing so.
  5. I have phantosmia which involves smelling things that nobody else can.  Bizarrly when I smell something really bad I also find bad things happen afterwards.  So with my cooking this could mean the World is going to end most days – well it is 2012.
  6. I hate driving and will physically pull my body inwards when trying to fit through a small gap whilst oooohhhing in true girly style all the way through.  I also duck when I go under low bridges and can be found gripping the seat and trying to put my foot through the floor to find an imaginary extra brake pedal when my Husband is driving.
  7. I recently had a conversation with a friend about things spooky things and the film ‘Woman in Black’ (not that I have seen it) . When I went to bed I had to turn off the light and run to my bed as fast I could and hide under the covers because I had scared myself – how stupid!

My nominations for the Kreative and Versatile Blogger award are:

  • Homedmade by Fleur – A devoted baker with a beautiful face, soul and blog to match. She runs her own cake club and has been on TV but like me she believes in cakeland (a bit like fairyland but the cupcakes have wings).  She is very supportive and has some fantastic ideas.
  • Here’s one I made earlier – is a blog by Kate and she tries out all sort of different baking goodies.  I love her little blog but she does not get many comments and I think she should have more as she has a great blog with simple instructions and images to match.  You all remember what it is like to blog and think nobody is reading what you write so spare a moment, say hello and cheer her on as baking is quite obviously her secret passion.

Rules of the Kreativ and Versatile blog award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share seven things about yourself that people may or may not know already.
  3. Pass the award along to others and let them know you’ve nominated them!

Baking Addiction Series (Part 2)


True Confessions of a Baking Addict – I blame Adriano Zumbo
As always this is based on a true story (my neighbours do not talk to me anymore apart from the ones I feed cake too)

Baking addiction as you can see from part one of the series has a lot to answer for in my life.  When recently leaving for work I was having a bit of a baking addict episode and from referring to the handy guidelines in part one I knew I had already reached stage two of baking addiction that day as in the short space of 60 seconds I had:

1. watched erotic images of layered chocolate mouse cake by Adriano Zumbo (a highly recognised patisserie found in Australia).
2: stopped mid step down the driveway gazing longingly at the cake on my phone screen.
3. experienced a feeling of unusual warmth despite cold temperatures outside.
4. found myself licking my lips as if I could taste the velvety chocolate.
5. a twinkle in my eye reserved only for highly calorific sweet cakes that make me want to rub my face in them.

If you have not heard of Adriano Zumbo I found him winking at me from the Good Food channel with a series called Zumbo’s. Initially I thought is was quite inspirational to have an exercise program on a food channel to combat all those calories viewers must gain just from watching.  I soon realised to my utter delight that Zumbo’s was not an exercise program but a beautiful patissiere.  My luck was in as I was not going to be cavorting round my living room trying to look sexy but exercising my eyes over an unprecedented array of macarons and tarts and therefore he had my complete and undivided open mouthed attention. Wow!

The Confession
However Mr Zumbo and his staff got me into a spot of bother the other morning many thousands of miles across the World from the gorgeous patisserie.  Let me take you back to a normal school day.  If this was a confession style TV show you would hear the sad violins playing right now.

Mr Postman
After watching Zumbo’s the night before I knew I wanted to find the recipe for Adriano’s decadent chocolate mousse cake.  Completely besotted with the sultry chocolate images on my phone, my son got into the car ahead of me and a loud tutting sound made me look up.  I saw the post man approaching with his usual weary steps so I smiled in acknowledgement but instead of his usual morning cheery wave he turned abruptly and crossed over to the other side of the street his pace quickening.  How rude I thought to myself and I had another quick glance at the cake just to make it all better (click image for recipe).

Chocolate Junior Masterchef Challenge

Am I dressed?
After the cake imagery disappeared from view I felt a combination of withdrawal pangs and a nagging curiosity as to what could have upset the Post Man that morning who is normally such a cheery soul.  I looked down initially to make sure I had actually got dressed (it has been known). Luckily today was a day where I was fully ready to go to work, my skirt was not tucked in knickers (that is a whole other story) and was therefore fairly presentable, so what was it?  My gaze returned upwards when I saw the neighbour opposite quickly shuffling children into the car with a notable glare.  The dog next door just sat and stared at me, barked twice and whipped her tail high in the air before turning to show me a full delightful view of her backside (who says dogs can’t talk?).  Whatever I had done recently neighbours and dogs were clearly not impressed by it.  Whilst I may not notice much in my Adriano Zumbo ‘WIlly Wonka’ style bubble after a rule of 3 set of incidents I knew I must have done something very wrong indeed.

I got into my car still confused and looked at my son.  He shifted his eyes away from me so I asked him what I had done wrong?  The conversation went like this:

Me: Did I do something to upset the Postman and Neighbours?
Son: Well …. yes but it’s a bit embarrassing to explain.
Me: It’s OK you can tell me, now come on what was it I did?
Son: Well you were kind of yelling and panting.
Me: What an earth do you mean?
Son: Well you know that shampoo advert (long pause)
Me: The Herbal Essences one?
Son: Dunno, you know the one where the lady is screaming in the shower when she washes her hair?
Me: Yes , the Herbal Essences one (still not realising)
Son: Well you were making that kind of noise.  Loudly!
Me: Oh (awkward silence)

His reply caused a cold sensation that tingled down my spine as I realised with much embarrassment that I had truly arrived that morning at stage 3 of baking addiction courtesy of Mr Zumbo and his crew.  I can only assume this comes from the withdrawal symptoms from knowing that this particular cake is nearly a whole days flight away from the UK and therefore there is no way I am ever going to get my hands on one.  My inner psyche must have though it would be funny to involuntarily make me do the baking addicts call for cake by reenacting the restaurant scene with orgasm style yelling from ‘When Harry met Sally’.  I would not have minded so much but apparently my Son tells me I was in full Dolby digital surround sound for the whole street to hear just as the Postman arrived which perhaps explains why the Postman always rings twice at our house?  Mortified I quickly drove off from the house not daring to look at who else was out in the street and the car was oddly silent all the way to School. 

Feeding my Addiction
So what is a person to do when they reach this state of addiction?  Do I:

1. Attend Bakers Anonymous (#BA).
2. Continue to feed my baking soul with tasty treats.
3. Save up for 5 years so I can fly off to sunny Australia and drool outside Zumbo’s window and lick the glass.  I must have had this stuck in my head as when I googled the location of Adriano’s I put in ‘Lickation’ by accident and that is a place you do not want to go on Google!  I seem to have a fondness for standing outside shop windows – as you can read in my Tiffany inspired champagne layer cake post.

What would you do and which stage of baking addiction are you at – comment and let me know your baking confessions as I am sure I am not alone!  I’d love to write a book on it, in fact I can see the title now ‘True Confessions of Baking Addicts’.  More  in the series to come so sign up so you do not miss an episode of baking drama!

How baking and moods are like the weather


For the last few days I have been quite literally like Jamie Cullum sings ‘All at sea’ this is where I forget momentarily the good things in life and the miserable thunder clouds roll in.  Sometimes feeling sad just creeps over me like a relentless high tide and I know it is coming as I can hear my families seagull cries calling me back to reality but I dissapear into my mind and for a time I am lost in my thoughts no matter how hard I or they try to battle it. I realised today when I looked back at the photographs I took that baking and moods are like the weather; changeable, hard to predict and can hit you when you least expect it.   This gave me a lifeline back to reality and made me smile.

Weather and Mood Forecasts
Whilst you can check the weather forecast and roughly know what to expect you can not get a baking or mood forecast.  If such a thing existed it could let you know that this weekend there is a 60% chance of forgetting to add baking powder to your recipe, 100% chance of sugar sprinkle showers exploding across kitchen floors in Wiltshire or a 75% chance of feeling sad despite beautiful surroundings and no apparent reason but desperatley trying to fight it.

Mood Weather Apps
If we had baking and mood forecasts I imagine a funky aproned presenter waving their hand towards sunny spells of cupcakes before moving slowly down to demonstrate the thunderstorms of mood chaos.  On the other hand I bet my husband (like many others) wishes he had a wife / girlfriend mood weather app for that as although Apple tell us there is an app for everything there quite clearly isn’t one clever enough to predict female mood swings.

If such a thing did exist my Husband’s conversation with his iphone companion Siri who is like his new best friend whom he talks to frequently. The mood conversation would go like this; ‘Siri, can you tell me what my wife’s mood weather is today?’.  Siri would reply ‘ Sorry Mr H (Apple use a pause to build up the intrigue) I am afraid it’s not looking good.  You might want to take battle armour home today or at least wear a box. Would you like me to set a reminder for you to put it on?’

You see in order to get to the sunny happy times you have to endure the storms, gails and torrential downpours to full appreciate the beauty of it.  I know this to be true as if I try to bake, write or do anything creative when I feel like this then I can skillfully predict that what ever I’ve attempted will turn out less than perfect as creativity reflects your mojo as a friend once told me.  So here through photographs is my journey through Baking and Moods.

The Baking and Mood Journey through Photographs
Sometimes the recipe or time ahead is foreboding and scary and although you may see light ahead it is only just a glimpse which is a long way off.

Just when you think you have life and baking all cleverly balanced and fen shui’d up be warned if you step on the wrong pebble / recipe you are going to end up on your ass with twisted pride.

Occasionally there is a ‘beam me up scottie’ moment where you wish you had never started both the recipe and / or that moment in life.  It does not matter how much you wish to be beamed up this will never happen.

The serene moment when you sit and wonder at your finished bake or good fortune in disbelief trying to ascertain if it really happened and it’s not just all part of a dream.  This is the moment when something you thought would go hideously wrong actually worked out well but you have no idea how?

When your mind is unrelenting and wakes you in the darkness with it’s continual conversation of what went wrong that day which makes you feel so alone.  This photograph was taken in the dark and as you can see there is still so much light (hope) around it just takes time for your eyes to see it.

Life, moods and baking are ever changing but for every drop of rain that falls or each cake that flops better weather has to happen eventually even if it is not on your terms.  That’s just how it goes and I know this but I have to say for my own benefit now ‘hang on in there’. I say this to make me pause for a moment look back at this blog to see what I have created and then eventually I will realise that it can not be all that bad and the sun will come out again.

Baking Addiction Series (Part 1)


This is the first in a series of posts that each month will explore a different aspect of the phenomenon of Baking AddictionSubscribe now so you will not miss the next instalment…

Emotions of Baking
On a typical weekend or bored moment you will find me searching for divine cake led inspiration often of the virtual kind. The fact is a few minutes often dissolves into hours of gazing longingly at golden sugary encrusted online pages and sometimes I can be found stroking pages of cookbooks with lust exclaiming ‘would you look at THAT!’ to whomever is listening which is typically myself as the rest of the household scuttles off to dusty corners at this point.  Looking at food gives me that excited walk, you know the one where you have imaginary springs in your shoes and your bottom starts to swing from side to side and really you are trying not to make it too obvious that you are skipping with baking excitement.  After a few minutes of happy clapping and food lust my evil alter ego Cruella de Baker transforms into tantalising Little Miss Baking Addict with incredible apron ripping style.  ‘Roooaaaarrr!’ means I love you, didn’t you know?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cake rush (or Crush by Pendulum)
Let me introduce you to Little Miss Baking Addict.  She raises her cherry topped peak whenever I stumble across a divine new cake, pie, bread or tart that just makes my mouth water in anticipation.  Once overtaken by Little Miss Baking Addict I reach out and touch the screen and give it a slow protracted stroke whilst telling it to ‘Come to Mummy’ in a bizarrely deep throaty voice which incidentally I have no idea where it comes from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking House
Last weekend my love of baking was beginning to spiral out of control as I still wasn’t dressed by 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I had been playing (quite literally) with flour all morning and videoing it.  Realising the time I ran frantically out of the door to my Son’s football match with speckled white hair and white tell-tale hand prints across my backside.  This was not good and I realised out on that windy pitch that is was time I took control and consult the baking addiction guide: 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Using this guide
To conduct this test fairly you could click on the link to my Pinterest gallery of FoodPorn or use your own image of a suitably desirable cake or baked good.  To truly test yourself you should do this on a mobile device whilst on the move to fully check for all levels of addiction.  Take note of your initial reaction and consult the guide below to determine which stage of baking addiction you may be at:
 
 
Stage 1: you will present with full open mouth (possibly in awe) which looks like fly-catching or a re-enacting the  ‘catching the Malteaser’ advert.  This stage is often accompanied by a short intake of breath and ‘ooohhh’ sounds.   
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 2:  at this stage (look at your image on the move for this) whatever you are doing when looking at the image you will find you suddenly have the need to stand still and take a closer look.  This level of addiction may cause unsteadiness on your feet as food lust, gawking and moving requires a high level of multi-tasking which proves difficult to the affected.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 3: you may present with all the symptoms above and also experience quickened heart rate with a sudden ‘it’s getting hot in here‘ feeling which is similar to a hot flush but is not dependant on gender, age or room temperature  and removal of clothing may occur.  This is often followed by deep breathing and in extreme case you may make graduating volume levels of  ‘oooh, oooooooh , oooooooh yes, yesss,   YESSSSSSSSS!’  The shrieking bears similarities to the scene in the film when ‘Harry met Sally’ but is understood to be the baking addicts call for a hot sugar fix rather than a mate.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your  Results
If you suffer from some or all of these stage you are most likely suffering from baking addiction.  This is a less documented condition in the medical world but renders the sufferer incapable of walking away from a recipe book or online page and can cause disturbing side effects such as drooling, groaning and realistic dreams involving cakes, cookies and other foods. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning
Partners of baking addicts must wear protective clothing at night and ensure they do not wear perfume or cologne that bear any resemblance to the sweet scent of baked goods (avoid Lynx Chocolate).  If this is not adhered to, partners risk getting bitten or licked in the night which is not as nice as it sounds as baking addicts know instinctively how to sink their teeth into baked goods (think piranha ) and in reality this can be a painful rather than pleasurable experience.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where are you in baking addiction? Comment and let me know

P.S: In my own personal experience I also advise not to use any hair products that smell of sweet desserts.  One night I woke up eating my hair but in my dream I had been devouring lemon cheesecake.  It did not take a genius for me to work out this is the fragrance of my ‘only use when really going out somewhere nice as it is really expensive’ hair mousse. Perhaps manufacturers could flavour their hair products to give us something to chomp on without any calories? Now there’s a thought, hmmm, I’d like a triple chocolate honeycomb cheesecake flavour please.

Levels of baking addiction

Next in the series : Confessions of a baking addict

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Stand Up Meringue Snowmen (naughty)                    

Snowmen showing offf (no business like snow business)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Licking my baking wounds


‘I feeeeeeel good’ with homemade vanilla essence.

So it’s back to work (groan) after a baking mad break and with its many disasters, trials and tribulation.  I can safely say it is better to be at work and no I will not be givng up the day job anytime soon. The holidays have been accompanied by sessions of continual baking failures resulting in a melt down in this order:

1. full body shaking – the type that causes me to look like I am having a fit
2. hypervenitlating punctuated by stifled sobs and snorts whilst trying to explain what was wrong
3. Followed by this conversation:

‘it’ big snort, sobbing noises

‘went’ snivel, wailing and sniffing

‘wrrronnngggggggg’ followed by banshee wailing

4. Ending with a red blotchy face that looked like I fell into a field of nettles

This major sobbing session was over a trio of baking that cracked, exploded and sunk over four days (rule of 3). When my self pity reached its full height instead of coming to my aid and comfort; my son put on his life jacket whilst smirking and continued to play the Wii.  My husband stood holding the front door saying ‘Just letting the tidal wave of tears out the door dear otherwise I was going to get my windsurf board out’.  I have to say that was a rather surreal moment and if I had not been so self abosrbed I may have cracked a smile, well maybe.  Naturally I didn’t smile to keep true to the tormented, distressed, hormonal women’s law.

Self Soothing
To succesfully self-manage this hormonal ourburst I promptly returned to bed, sulked for an hour and punishing myself by looking at baking pictures on pintrest.This is what I do, I mean when I was dieting I always used to sit down with a chocolate bar to comfort myself whilst reading a diet magazine.  After half an hour of being in bed I grumbled under my breath at all you wonderful bakers out there as I was now staring at the images on foodgawker and screaming out ‘ it should be me!’ after my third photo submission to them that day had also failed.  If there was an oscar to be won for full on self pity I would win it hands down unless I was up against a baking footballer or my son ( I wonder where he got that from?)

Like Sugar and Spice
I wouldn’t mind baking disasters so much but the price for quality vanilla essence is astronomical and all these bin endings are costing me a fortune. I hate both waste and failure equally and If I dwell on this any longer I will only end up diving back under the ‘it’s going to be alright’ duvet that I just got out of.

I make my own vanilla sugar but once I topped snivelling and washed my face I decided to lick my baking wounds and in a true knee jerk ‘my baking failed and someone is going to get it’ fashion (other than my family – remember the new years pledge).  I decided the best thing to do is to stick two fingers truly up to the vanilla essence manufacturers and make my own and I tell you what it feels good (cue James Brown click and listen as you read – just for you @bakingbeats ). This is a gift to myself so I won’t feel so crappy when my bakes fail and at least this way the failure will be cheaper , taste good and be accompanied by deep satisfaction of not buying the required brown bottle when I next go to the Supermarket. Now I feel good (yeh), I knew that I would. I feel nice, like sugar and spice, so good , so nice, as I got you.  DIY vanilla essence, yehhhh!

Homemade Vanilla Essence (When I hold you in my baking cupboard, I know I can do no baking wrong)

Homemade Vanilla Essence
A great gift to you or a baking friend – why not make a few at the same time.

Ingredients (here comes the normal bit)

Vanilla pods – it is much cheaper to buy your vanilla pods from a a reputable company online. I used this one and I could get into the whole lengthy discussion as to which pods are best but I am not going to as lfe is too short do your own reading but here is a link to explain the different types I personally went with Madagascan ( because I like the movie). Not only do the pods you buy like this have far more flavour but are also far cheaper than ones you will find in most supermarkets where you normally pay over the odds for a manky half-dried dead looking that looks like something the cat sicked up. The ones I ordered are plump, fragrant and succulent pods that when stored in my baking cupboard slap me across the face with a vanilla fragrance – oh yes they totally do it for me.

Bottles – you can buy preserving bottles from stores but you can also recycle an old bottle such as a sauce or juice bottle; mine are olive oil and pizza express dressing bottles -upcycing is the new recycling I have you know. The bottles will need to be sterilised before use – see here for how to do this. I did mine in the dishwasher and got them out when it was on the drying cycle.

Vodka – don’t worry about the make it simply does not change the taste at the end I used Sainsburys basics. As long as it it over 30% proof (volume of alcohol in the bottle not the bloodstream) you will be fine. You can also make this with rum – see what you have left in your cupboard.

Instructions

Tip: Make sure you know the size of your bottle before you start – if not fill it with water and then pour the water into a measuring jug to find out. I am sure you knew but I didn’t so I wanted to remind myself.

1. Fill each sterilised bottle with vodka (not quite to the top)
2. For every 180 ml of Vodka you will need 2 Vanilla Pods
3. Slice the pods in half with a sharp knife
4. Place pods in the bottle
5. Put lid on – put in a dark cupboard for 6-8 weeks. Turn the bottle upside down 3 times (rather than a vigorous shake) once a week.
6. Use – that is how simple it is

Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Beans

You will see sediments in the essence – this is just vanilla bean particles. These are the bits you normally scrape out to use so do not be afraid of them they taste amazing so resist the bakers temptation to remove any dodgy brown bits as these ones are good.

Freshly made Vanilla Essence the colour will change over the weeks

To refil

When your bottle gets to 1/3 remaining top up with vodka. Continue to turn the bottle once per week. You will not have to wait the 6-8 weeks to use it, just a day or so as you are refreshing it so the trick is to never let your vanilla essence supply run dry else you have to pay the pimps prices in the supermarket. After the 6-8 weeks display your bottle in the kitchen as this will help remind you to put in used beans as they still have a lot of flavour to give and when to refil.

Add more beans to refresh every 6 months or so (or more if you use lots of it) when the colour starts to fade. You can also put your used vanilla pods in here (as well as to make vanilla suage – another highly expensive item you can easily make) so they can carry on giving back to your baking. No waste, no nasty chemicals, cheap and environmentally friendly, fantastic and the taste is packed full of vanilla punch.

Make your first batch of cakes with it as per the recipe instructions to test it ( as flavour strength will naturally vary according to different beans adn howlong they have been soaked) and adapt the amount if needed in future if you find the vanilla flavour too weak or strong.

Happy making and stick up whatever gesture you like at the manufacturers and lick your own baking wounds x

You might also like:

Vanilla Sugar not Trash

Image of vanilla sugar

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pimms Cake Pops / Truffles

Pimms Cake Pops / Truffles

 
 
 
 
 
 

Vanilla, Honeycomb, Triple Choclate Cheesecakes

Cruella De Baker


I would like to start by wishing all my readers out there a Happy New Year even though bizzarley my hidden half of an Easter egg just launched itself at me from the top shelf of my baking cupboard which is it’s way of saying ‘for gods sake will you eat me before it’s Easter again’. This year I need to stop being a squirrel and hiding life (and chocolate) away in cupboards and boxes and actually begin to live it (maybe eat it) and that my dear readers scares the hell out of me.

A truly amazing article by the blog English Mum really struck a poignant cord with me. Her aim is to ensure that her 2012 is full of snapshots of family life together instead of wasting time and money on stuff that you will not remember even though you try. Try it out; what did you get for your Birthday last year? You can’t remember? Don’t feel bad neither can I. Now get out your photo’s from last years holiday can you tell me a memory from it? You can! Excellent then you need to read English Mum as she quite rightly shares with us that family experiences and snapshots will stay with us forever. The stuff we buy such as presents and all those little things we stress over will fade away. I am sure we all know this but it never hurts to have a good reminder and written kick up the ass as if anything 2011 has taught me is you never know what will happen.

New

2011 for me can only be best described as odd and certainly not one I would wish to repeat again. I don’t cope well with stressful situations as this results into a hasty retreat into my own little world where it is nice and safe. I started baking as I did not know how else to make a bad situation better and in true British fashion it was a choice of either tea or cake . I am crap at making tea and cake seemed to work in the short term. Essentially it kept me busy and busy is my coping method as then I do not need to deal with anything. At the beginning it was what I needed and I enjoyed baking as it truly made me happy buzzing around the kitchen. Somehow though I turned that little hobby into mass baking hsyteria and that turned me into…

In short I am the baking version of Cruella de Ville but instead of punishing puppies I punish my poor family who admittedly squeal like puppies when I growl at them and other times they bite back. Family, friends and life in general have been placed under a thick blanket of plain flour for the last 4- 5 months. Anyone who dares enter the kitchen on a weekend has been given choice words. I am embaressed to admit that I have turned a stress releasing hobby into a military exercise. Accompanying me on my missions are Sergeant Major Inner Perfectionist and she screams at me from the kitchen sidelines ‘drop and give me 20 more cupcakes you worthless baker’.

nEW yEAR pLEDGES (TAKE OFF CAPS LOCK)

1. My blog is only meant to be a record and I don’t have to do it every waking second of the day as there is a life out there Jacqueline just not as you know it at the moment. So I will not be checking the statistics for my blog for one whole month. I am not supposed to care if people read it or not (inner voice alert: ‘oh yes you do’ followed by a chorus ‘oh no you don’t – feel free to join in the pantomime shenanigans if you wish). I want to just write and not worry about numbers.

2. I want to make memories and take more snapshots as my son is teenage and I truly want to make the most of it. So I will bake for fun and these outings but not to the extent that items get whipped out from my husband’s or son’s nose to be photographed just before they bite into them (my finger is still healing from the last time).

3. I will write as myself as up until now I have been afraid to fully be my real self online. You have been warned that in real life I wander off on random tangents all the time. Strangely I find most females can cope with this but my husband sadly not.

4. Complete a to do list page on my blog (thanks to CafeLula for this idea) with all my baking dreams. I adore lists (it’s a Virgo thing) and nothing makes the teacher control freak in me feel better than crossing through a completed task especially now as you can see I have found out how to cross stuff out (cue: crazed cackled laughter). This will reduce wasted time and energy as I endlessly amble up and down the corrdiors of pinterest, stumbleupon and foodgaker with wantant lust getting myself in a ‘what shall I bake’ and ‘I’ll never be as good as that’ tiz waz.

5. Stop beating myself up when baking fails. My path to baking wisdom is meant to be full of macaron sinkholes, oversized snowmen meringue willies and flat as you like cake . I need to deal with it, move on and laugh at it for god’s sake. I suppose laughing won’t cause me to pass wind loudly in public (god forbid) but if I laugh really hard I will be more concerned with my pelvic floor muscles and a quick sit down may be needed.

Have a good 2012, see what you want from it and go for it. Most of all keep safe, record your memories and do drop me a comment if you would like to as with all bloggers we appreciate all of them (except spammers) as it lets us know that there is someone else out there…