Afternoon Tea Bites – Baking Fun!

I made another visit to Sarah at The Cupcake Oven a couple of weeks ago. It was for a course, Afternoon Tea Bites, I have been looking forward to for months, and it didn’t disappoint.


Sarah has always done a wide variety of decorating courses, from sugar flowers to royal icing, to modelling. See here for the results of many of the classes I have taken with here over the years. More recently, she has started teaching people to bake, from the basics, cake-wise, to cookies and cake pops. This class is one of her more recent inventions, and I was gutted when I missed its first outing a few months ago.


Bright and early (well, mid-morning), with lunch bag clasped in hand (which I forgot at the end and had to go back for), I bounced up to Sarah’s front door ready for a long day of making yummy treats. I had actually forgotten how long it was due to be, and didn’t dare tell hubby during the day – oops!


Sarah and Maddie (a fellow Cupcake Oven Course addict, and Sarah’s help for the day – can’t remember her job title, sorry Maddie, but she did a fab job of keeping us topped up with hot drinks and washing up the detritus of our making) had a packed day planned, and the 4 of us attending the course set to work after going through everything we were going to cover.


I have actually forgotten the order we did everything in, but it was meticulously planned (although we did end running late as we were having so much fun, but no-one minded that – except my hubby!). We made sweet pastry, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the course, as my pastry-making generally leaves a lot to be desired, crème pâtissière as a base for Chantilly cream, meringue kisses and chopped up sponge cake covered in apricot jam and marzipan (ready for fondant fancies).

crème pâtissière

Crème Pâtissière – doesn’t look very promising…

The pastry looked fine when we popped it into the fridge to rest and chill. I didn’t burn the crème pâtissière and got the measurements right for the sponge. Woo-hoo!

Foodie Flavours

Choices, choices… which flavour?

We had great fun choosing flavours and colours for the meringue kisses. The flavours came in many choices, and are lovely non-oily flavourings made by Foodie Flavours. I have come across them before, but hadn’t realised that their flavour range was so wide. You only need a small amount and they provide the most wonderful, natural flavours. And they didn’t ask me to say that, as they don’t know me or the fact I am posting about them (yet!). I went for Christmas Pudding, which smelt wonderful, although the jury is still out on whether it is a flavour that works with meringues, or not…

choux pastry

Choux pastry piped ready to bake – they do look rather like slugs!

A quick lunch was followed by making the choux pastry (first time I have attempted it since I was a teenager), finishing the Chantilly cream (oh wow! Mmmmmmmmmmm!), making the filling for the tarts we had made the pastry for, and covering the fondant fancies in Squires Kitchen lemon or strawberry fondant. The last was incredibly messy, but very yummy.

Chantilly cream

Chantilly cream completed

Fondant fancies

Fondant fancies drip-drying

frangipane tartlets

Frangipane tartlets ready to bake

I had a great day, met some lovely people (most of whom I had met before at Sarah’s) and went home with boxes and boxes full of yummy goodness. I have an enormous bag of Chantilly cream in the freezer, and the remains of the huge number of meringue kisses I made, but the rest has been gobbled up.

I think I did a reasonable job of everything. Hubby liked it all, especially the tarts and the choux pastries (he said they were lovely and light!). I will definitely be more confident about trying pastry myself again, and Hubby has already requested frangipane tarts, including in a larger size!!


Thanks Sarah! Look forward to seeing you soon 🙂


DP Challenge: Transition – From Paste to Model

In response to the DP Photo Challenge: Transition

Sugarpaste models, pocpocs, neep, bop, abney and teal

From Maxi Mister’s 4th Birthday cake – The Pocpocs, Neep and Bop from ‘Abney and Teal’

DP Challenge:Trio – Sisters

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, on the theme: Trio

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#PrayersForParis, #PrayersForTheWorld

Carol has put into words what, I am sure, many of us are thinking xxx

Writeful Mind

Prayers for Paris image                                                       Prayers For Paris

Given the events that have taken place in our world today, I have decided to not do a “Feel-Good Friday” event post. I decided to post this screen capture of my most recent Facebook status as a show of support and solidarity. This attack didn’t just happen “to the citizens of France”…not by a long shot. Whenever anything like this happens, it happens to all of us, regardless of where we live.

It is my sincerest hope that we may one day be free from the worry of such barbaric acts against those of us who advocate peace and unity. In the wake of this tragedy, please let us band together and stop the fighting, hatred, and everything else that…

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#BEDN – Lists

11953016_844398979009578_5032759605449326613_nJust a few notes before I start this post: I have mental health issues. I have had depression and anxiety for a long time. I also have severe paranoia at times and suffer permanently from low self-esteem. Like many long-term illnesses, it comes and goes. Medication helps but doesn’t fix. Counselling helps, as does the support of family and friends. In addition, I also had ante and post natal depression with Maxi Mister and PND with Mini Mister. Like most sufferers, I generally keep this all hidden. It is still taboo, especially in my job, despite it being endemic. Writing this on here is a big step for me.

A couple of months ago I created a list for the Writing 101 course. Rather than just do a series of numbers or bullet points, I decided to be more creative and visual, and published it in the form of a mind map. I had great fun doing it, and think it would be an ideal way to cover other lists. Go and have a look.

One I know I ought to do is updating my project list, as I could even add little pictures to that mind map as I complete projects. Something to ponder on, I think.

But I had a counselling session on Monday night. It is one of only a limited few I am entitled to (not enough funding in mental health), and due to illness I have missed 2 of them. During the session I started debating with the therapist as I wasn’t sure that I completely agreed with where he was coming from. Indeed, I felt that I almost disagreed with a particular concept of hypothetical and factual things that could lead to worry and a deepening of anxiety. I felt that they could all, at a base level, be boiled down to hypothetical, because there is always a ‘what if…’

He explained again and after some discussion and debate, I can see where he is coming from, even if I haven’t totally bought into it yet. In the process of this discussion, we touched on the topic of self-esteem. I think that happened as I am beginning to make headway on how to deal with my worries and anxiety (slow, but a few steps in the right direction), however still have not started dealing with the depression side. And looking at my scores again, as we do every week, the one area that is not shifting at all, is the one linked to self-esteem.

The therapist suggested not trying to run before I could walk, not going to deeply before other areas have been dealt with, but that maybe it would be a good idea to consider a list of things I have achieved. Then refer to it when the self-esteem gremlins make an appearance.

I had a lightning bolt moment of an idea. I knew Lists were coming up on #BEDN, and I mentioned that I had already created a list for my blog. Maybe I should link the 2 and create a list of things I have achieved, publish it on here for everyone to see, and then I can’t deny that I have at least achieved something. Like my previous list, it can be a work in progress.

So here goes! It isn’t fancy and done as a mind map yet (give me a chance on that since I only thought about it on Monday and I have been busy with work since then), but it is a start:

Things I Have Achieved

  • I passed my GCSEs. All of them.
  • I have 3 A-levels
  • I have an Honours degree, and it was a 2:1
  • I passed my driving test on the first try
  • I have 2 post-graduate qualifications
  • I got a Distinction for Grade 8 singing
  • I have conducted choirs at the Royal Albert Hall twice
  • I gained my Masters Certificate (all 3 diplomas) in PME Sugarcraft
  • I have made some good cakes and decorations
  • I learnt to play the piano and recorder
  • I can sew useful things
  • I gave birth twice and have 2 amazing children

I need to add more. I think there may be more, but I am struggling to think at the moment. These are all facts. Can I include more subjective ones? Not sure. It seems weird seeing it all written down anyway. Drat that self-esteem gremlin!

What would be in your lists?



Featured image is from Anxiety and I’s Facebook page

#BEDN/DP Challenge – Ornate

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”

I decided to combine a couple of challenges, especially as I have missed a couple of days of #BEDN. I have missed Self-Care Sunday (I think my self-care was just chilling out with hubby after the stresses of the previous couple of days), and yesterday’s Style (to be honest, I was a bit stuck with that one).

Today’s is Family. So these pictures are for my family. They are from a lovely part of the world, somewhere my parents always wanted to go back to, somewhere my sisters have holidayed more than me, somewhere we lived until I was 4. I have chosen to juxtapose different types of ornate-ness – compare the millenia-old temple carvings to the centuries-old cathedral.

Tarxien Temples

Carved spirals, Tarxien Temples, Malta

Tarxien Temples

Goddess Statue, Tarxien Temples, Malta

St. John's Co-Cathedral High Altar

High Altar, St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

St. John's Co-Cathedral Nave

Nave, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

Sculpture, St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta (I can't find what this one is, even on the cathedral's website. If anyone knows, please let me know)

Sculpture, St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta (I can’t find what this one is, even on the cathedral’s website. If anyone knows, please let me know)

#BEDN – Not what it was supposed to be…

There’s no love more intense than the love we have for our kids — and where there is intense love, there is also intense fear lurking beneath the surface. I’m making motherhood sound so appealing, aren’t I?

But, in fact, there is nothing that can bring you closer to fearlessness about everything else in the world than being a parent — because everyday fears — like not being approved of — pale by comparison to the fears you have about your children.

Arianna Huffington in The Washington Post

A quote which sums up the last day or so for me. This is a short post, and one which doesn’t match the BEDN topic for today, but we are all very tired and need some sleep.

Mini Mister is home. He has a viral chest infection and has spent the last 24 hours being given steroids and a nebuliser or inhaler frequently. His temperature is more under control, his breathing is better and he is coughing much less. We have to do 3-hourly sessions with the inhaler, which is a nightmare as he is terrified of the spacer mask on his face. 10 puffs each time. But it is working.

We are so lucky to have been able to get him treated quickly and well. We are thankful for the receptionist at the GP surgery who gave me an appointment even though I phoned at the wrong time, the GP who decided it wasn’t worth the risk waiting until Monday to see if he would improve, the overstretched paediatric A&E who eventually saw him and moved him through to the Assessment Unit, the nurses who did his obs and cared for him all night and day, the consultants and doctors who checked him over and didn’t rush to get him out because they needed the beds (the childrens’ wards were full), the fact that we have free health care which despite all its issues and detractors, still looks after and cares and mends us and our children.

Thank you to all of them for caring! 😊