Wasn’t There Supposed to Be Cake?

Hey Hey Guys!!

Cake is a curious thing.

It’s something that is expected in certain situations, can have strong connotations and memories associated with it, the taste, the texture, the scent, the colour. Where you had a certain piece and how it made you feel.

Then there is cake in a general sense. It appears in certain situations; birthdays, weddings, anniversaries… funerals.

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Have you ever noticed (well, you will have, even if you don’t immediately realise it) that cake is often present to sweeten the pill in horrible situations?

mood cookies

Fancy Shmancy little Battenberg...

Fancy Shmancy little Battenberg…

Now, I’m going togeneralise here and cast the same net over certain biscuits as well as cakes. In fancy waiting rooms, there is often a sweet “treat”. You might be offered a slice of battenburgh with a beverage, or a very British, Victoria Sponge, if you are particularly fortunate (and so help you god if you mention the fact that you recognise that cheap, dry sponge and overly sweet, grainy filling as the £1 round you get from the co-op when you are absolutely desperate for a favour to take to the neighbours’ BBQ).

homemade cupcakes

homemade cupcakes

**As a wee aside, I actually hate Battenberg cake and am always bitterly disappointed to see it in a selection. Marzipan is the devil. It is always a bad omen.**

I absolutely HATE Battenberg...

I absolutely HATE Battenberg…

The thing is, there are some situations where cake is a terrible omen. Whether you are presented with a stale selection of sponges that might be the same ones you declined from your elderly neighbour, or strike gold with one of those pick ‘n mix boxes of biscuits, the result is always the same and always two-fold; the custard creams, jammy ones, cookies and anything containing chocolate are snapped up as soon as the seal is broken and the Garibaldis’ and those weird little wrinkly edged ones that taste like cardboard and aren’t quite a tea biscuit, nor a shortbread, are always left neglected. And you are in for some serious news. Generally, bad.

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See, these are the sweets and semi-sweets that are broken in places like hospitals, doctors surgeries, lawyers offices. Places where there is a 50/50 chance you were to nervous to have lunch before you went there so just swigged from the open wine bottle in the fridge, put on you best “I’m totally in control” mask and walk in there like you’re heading to the gallows. Those who run these establishments know this and it means all sort of paper work for them if they have a client pass out on them, so they try to gently pump you full of sugar.

But when I got my bad news today, it was over the phone. I was on my way back to my (soon to be vacated) flat. I was outside. So I ask you;

Wasn’t there supposed to be cake?

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SSDD

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Reconnecting With the People That Matter

Hey Hey Guys!

Travel is exciting. But it has a down side.

my parents and I

my parents and I in Barcelona

It’s been 4 months since I saw one of my best friends. Since I came home just over 2 weeks ago I have tried my best to get back in touch with all the people I’ve missed most since I left, which hasn’t been easy given, you know, people having lives and all that.

And one of my lovely ladies has been particularly elusive given that she works every hour of the day and never takes a break. But today, we had a wee lunch date! As soppy as it might sound, but when i say that 4 foot 10 little lady walking towards me, I really felt happy. I have felt this way another three times since I landed back in Scotland. The first time was when I saw my parents coming towards me as I waited in the airport lounge. Granted, my grin was likely to have been marred somewhat by the frigid air blowing in from outside, but the sentiment was the same.

The second time was when the knock, knock, knocking on my door, a week after I got home, announced the arrival of two of my other best friends. I was dressed in all my glamour, bobbin’ robin pyjama bottoms, no make-up and messy bun, of course. 😉 When you see friends like that, you cannot fake the grin that pastes itself on your face, nor the rosy glow that flushes your cheeks.

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The third was when my best friend at uni and I caught up. The first thing I did was laugh at how much I missed her Northern accent and, other when she broke the news that her radio show was being cut (R.I.P Fred McCauley show!!!!!) I didn’t stop laughing til I realised I wouldn’t be getting another hug from her til after the New year! Noooooooooo!! (Love you Lambie 😛 )

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So when I saw said friend today, it was much the same feeling. I knew she has been working hard, knew her beloved dog had been sick, yet here she was, with me, and it was lovely.

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Ew, whipped cream... dat Carrot Cake though!

Ew, whipped cream… dat Carrot Cake though!

Present exchanges and several hours of gabbing and puppy adoration later (her dog was sick but is back being a bundle of joy again! This coming from someone who hates dogs…) and we both had other places to be. Life is a pain sometimes.

But seeing her today made me realise something. That is me, now. I have seen everyone I care most about since my return home. I have reconnected with the people who have stayed in touch with me, despite the ocean of distance that separated us for so many months. Just in time for the new year.

I hope that this is a sign. I hope that this is a symbol that these are the people I am going to travel into 2015 with, hand in metaphorical hand, no matter whether we bring in the bells on Hogmanay together or apart. I’m not really one for the whole, new year, new me, business, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be a new year, same people to share it with, kind of deal.

I have made so many new friends this past few months and I hope that I will encounter many of them again in the future. But I have also missed the connection I have with those I left at home. I have been with my best friends since I was 5. They are a stirling group of gals and I wouldn’t replace them for the world.

We have seen each other through the elated highs and most proud successes. We have stressed over every exam and bitched about every teacher. We got drunk together for the first time and held back hair when the times that came after went a little too far. Boys had no secrets and every outfit for first dates was a group decision.

They held my hand when I literally thought I was going to die and we have no secrets. I want to share the rest of my life with them because they have saved me and brought me back from the brink when I was on the verge of my sanity. It’s a bigamist marriage, of sorts. Each one of them is a gem and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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Love you ladies.

SSDD

My Vintage Weekend

Lat Saturday I went on a mini-break with my parents – and by that I mean we literally traveled to the city nearest us – a place so close we call it “town” – and stayed for the night. We did make a good night of it though, like a snapshot of a longer holiday since we haven’t been able to get away abroad this year.

Me: salmon vintage style dress/black lace detail: Miss Selfridge. denim shirt: Primark. shoes: Dorothy Perkins

Me: salmon vintage style dress/black lace detail: Miss Selfridge. denim shirt: Primark. shoes: Dorothy Perkins

Mum and I

Mum and I

Me: salmon vintage style dress/black lace detail: Miss Selfridge. denim shirt: Primark. shoes: Dorothy Perkins

Me: salmon vintage style dress/black lace detail: Miss Selfridge. denim shirt: Primark. shoes: Dorothy Perkins

 

Mum and I

Mum and I

Me: salmon vintage style dress/black lace detail: Miss Selfridge. denim shirt: Primark. shoes: Dorothy Perkins

Me: salmon vintage style dress/black lace detail: Miss Selfridge. denim shirt: Primark. shoes: Dorothy Perkins

 

So to Glasgow!!

Anyway we visited a fantastic Vintage and Handcrafts Market, called the “Little Birds Market”.

The sun shone on the alley it was cuddled into. Held in Sloans bar on Buchanan Street, this monthly event gives creative type awesome people a chance to display their wears. It is a sugary sweet combo of stalls of hand crafted jewelry, cushions ( we found some adorable owl ones), and sweets, time warped in with stalls for beautiful vintage items.

Little Birds Market

Little Birds Market

There was a very traditional set-up outside the bar of  barber striped coverings for stalls selling mainly smaller items, such as hand made candles, jewelry, scarves and the like. One very delicious smelling stall displaying the most mouth watering display of home-made fudge, boasting enticing titles like “mocha cappuccino“, “mint and strawberry“, “banana, chocolate and vanilla“, and may more, whose names I honestly cannot remember… But basically, think of a combo that shouldn’t work but in an ideal world would be glorious, then imagine it working… Your reached utopia yet? 😉

Moving further in, the actual bar is adapted from an old ballroom, the bar occupying the lower floor only. The upper two floors were something almost other-worldly compared to the “old man pub” on the lower level.

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As soon as we stepped onto the curving staircase, with it’s worn carpet and polished wood banister, stained glass arch windows and dust motes floating in what pale light could filter through the slightly grimey window, we were transported. The musty smell made us imagine laced corsets, peticoats, sweeping trains and afternoon tea. We should be sporting powdered wigs and delicate white lace gloves, not t-shirts and jeans. It was a place from another time.

When we reached the first floor and saw that they were in fact serving afternoon tea, my hear soared. The vaulted ceilings and flaking forest green paint lent themselves to the entirely Vintage aura of the place.

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A thriving upper 2 floors were decked out with a myriad of items which had been both salvaged and hand-made, ranging from clothing to accessories, wall hangings and home wear.

I myself made a couple of little purchases from “You’re So Cool

Scarf and Lotus bracelet

Scarf and Lotus bracelet

A gorgeous chemise purple scarf of unknown origin and a 1930s Buddhist Lotus bracelet.

I particularly love the bracelet. Bought from a stall selling only genuine vintage items, I found this little charmer. The meaning is something special to me. When is saw it laying there, glittering on a lace covering, I was sold. Or rather, two minutes later, it was sold to me.

The Buddhist Lotus symbolises growth and enlightenment.

The roots of a lotus are in the mud. The stem grows up through the water, with the heavily scented flower laying pristinely above, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul. We all begin in the primeval mud of materialism, traverse through the turbulent waters of experience, and slowly expand into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.

It’s true what they say about the sun making everything better. And here, the peace and light is the reward for having survived the currents of our personal ponds. Every droplet is a moment in time, an experience gained. The large, elegant flower is proof that we might come to fruition from such difficulty more beautiful and majestic that we began.

Buddhist Lotus

Buddhist Lotus

I love it! 🙂

Glasgow is an ever-diverse, ever-up-cycling place with a rich architectural and fashionistic background. We’re a quirky bunch but we value tradition and like the simple things. Such as, scones and fresh jam and cream, with an optional pint if Tennants, homemade fudge following a juicy steak and ale pie and little blasts from your disco past.

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So if you’re in to mood for a perfect combination of old school classic, new school nerd and simple old mans pub comfort, head to the Little Birds Market on:

August 11th

September 8th

October 13th

November 10th

December 8th

Here are links to the stalls I collected cards from as well as some personal recommendations.

You’re So Cool Vintage – love this place!! The girl who owns it is very Dianna Vicars, boho chic and absolutely lovely

Strawberry Lush Vintage

Romster

Jodie Pope Jewellery Design

Lazylinepainterbelle  makes her own logo in nail art – so so so cool!!

Maze of Lace – Unique handcrafted jewelry by Evi. Everything is crocheted and absolutely beautiful

Circa 72 Jewellery – by Kary Purvis

Whimsical Heart uses salvaged, ancient dictionaries and prints their own designs over the top – so creative, so unique, never seen this before. Can be purchased framed or single sheet.

Complex Omlette – patisserie genius. Macaroons in every pastel shade, tarts and scones in designs to make your mouth water. I recommend the custard one. See for yourself…

"Complex Omlette" Patisserie

“Complex Omlette” Patisserie

Maze of Lace - Master of crochet... everything!!

Maze of Lace – Master of crochet… everything!!

"You're So Cool Vintage"

“You’re So Cool Vintage”

Circa 72

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Circa 72 Jewellery

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SSDD

Make me my Cake: PRINCESS DESSERT TABLE

Just a little feat of dessert engineering…

While surfing the net, I stumbled across this mammoth feat of Princess engineering. The page is in Spanish but has an English translation. I thought this persons efforts deserved a little admiration.

So go, fawn over their hard work and attention to detail and lament the fact that none of us are, in fact, Disney Princesses **sniff sniff** **takes off tiara** **puts back on hoody**

Make me my Cake: PRINCESS DESSERT TABLE.

 

A Tempting Tradition Twist on Pumpkin Perfection

The oversees caffeine giant strikes again with an American twist on a festive tradition.

Ahhh STARBUCKS™, you are sometimes so wonderful…

For weeks now my blog reader has been full of Americans bombarding me with pumpkins. Treats of all kinds have been appearing because of Thanksgiving and Halloween (links at the bottom to some of them!) but mainy they’ve been boasting about the latest PUMPKIN flavoured creation to be adapted to coffee or iced treat and, I can officially announce… that splendour has officially been shared with the UK as of 29th!! Yaaaaay!!

But that’s not all!

So curious was I and impatient to experience this bizarre wonder for myself, I took it as a personal challenge to acquire it the day the offer appeared in my Facebook feed – Friday 28th. On this mission I recruited one enthusiastic compatriot, one reluctant companion and two students with nothing better to do. One of whom was lost on the way there. A fleet of four it was to be.

And I succeeded! 😀 Though the offer was technically not due to start til Saturday 29th September, I took the initiative and… just asked nicely, actually. ^.^ The guy behind the counter looked impressed I even knew about it so…

I give you, one of the UK’s first ever STARBUCKS™ served PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE‘s!

they spelt my name wrong on the personalised cup… 😦

Should be ‘Gemma’ not ‘Jemma’ but I’ll let it slide… this time… 😛

This thing was so exclusive in the UK when I asked for it that their website hasn’t even updated to include it on their menu yet! (link at the top of the page!)

The offer is exclusive to lattes, which is a bit disappointing as I know the pumpkin flavour  is available across the full range of coffees in America. The only variation seems to be if you want whipped cream or not, as well as only being available for a month. That would be because it’s a Halloween promotion and all that…

Onto the taste test.

I’m not an expert on pumpkins, to the point where I actually have no idea what they taste like . 😀 But I can tell you this. It. Is. TASTY. It’s so good! So good, in fact, that far from tolerating the addition of milk in my coffee to experience this phenomenon, I actually enjoyed it. So good, I almost bought another one! Usually I hate milky coffee as it gives me headaches. Specialty lattes are often bearable because there is another flavour to dominate, but damn this was so good!

The flavouring was a little bit spicy, not like chili, more like ginger or cinnamon, and when added to the light, whipped cream it gave the coffee a sweetness I really never thought it would. I expected something heavier and something either very bitter, more akin to a headily scented, dense tasting coffee you might be served from a questionable looking, festive vendor, in a styrofoam cup, or something very mild and savoury; like a non-citrus cheesecake in coffee form with an almost tea-like consistency… if that’s even possible 😀 That thought might have been the product of having seen pumpkin flavoured goodies in the plastic, clear cups chilled drinks are served in. Never did I expect just how sweet it would be! The foam was light, the texture smooth, the aroma light and wafting. Delicious.

I would say that, taste wise, this is something of a girly drink, but I would highly recommend this particular speciality drink to everyone. Even if it doesn’t get you in a Halloween mood (something this sweet and scrumptious could never incite fear into anyone bar the lactose intolerant… nor can it celebrate the dead…) it will certainly give you a festive buzz. I personally hate Christmas, (see here!) but that’s what it tastes like!

I recently purchased a candied ginger body butter from The Body Shop and it was a good thing I hadn’t been wearing it when I drained that mug – I’d have morphed into a little Christmas elf, perhaps sporting a jaunty witches hat, right there on the spot! 😀

some pumpkin treats for you all!! STARBUCKS America full pumpkin range!! nutella swirled pumpkin pie, mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins (no i’m not joking, that’s what they’re called) fudge brownie cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting (phew, what a title!) skinny pumpkin cheesecake brownie  SIMPLE pumpkin cake  a PSL,  a modified PSL  a “top 10 list”

credits have to go to: Sally’s Baking Addiction, (who I have a mild bakers crush on!! :D) Caffeinated and Random, (whose loving rants about her other half make me LOL), Sweet Little Thang

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/gemc200 , I hang out there occasionally 🙂

SSDD

Alcocholic Cupcakes!!!!!

New craze for cupcake cocktails – caketails – sweeps London, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire | Mail Online.

Alcoholic cupcakes from Molly Bakes

That’s right – some crazy cats have created cocktail cupcakes!!

Continuing my apparent obsession with weird and wonderful baked goods, I found these for your viewing pleasure.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It was always going to happen. A mixture of cocktail and cake is to combine two delectable goodies, neither consumed as anything more than a cheeky treat. Everyone feels a little bit naught tucking into a huge, colourful, iced cupcake. We all know that little flutter when you take that first tiny lick at the swirly icing sitting temptingly on top, begging you to give in and devour it, damn the care and effort it took to make and to hell with the calories!

It is the same with a cocktail. After perusing a menu filled with ambiguous titles full of promises they could never really fulfill, you watch the waiter twist and shake that silver maker. They add a splash of this, a dash of that, before the heady mixture is decanted into a fancy and utterly impractical glass with a dramatic flourish. It is presented to you as if part of a great event, decorated with all manner of superfluous things, like sparklers and miniature umbrellas; and you grin like a kid at Christmas because it is a magical thing and you wouldn’t drink it any other way.

As the article (linked at the top of the page!) from the Daily Mail states, there are in fact several places that sell these  cocktail cupcakes in all varieties. They are bakery bars in a way, the only cake shops where it is acceptable to be asked for ID 😀

Mocktail versions are available of course, for those less partial to a tipple but still a sucker for a pretty little sweet thing with a silly name. The amazing thing is, that despite alcohol itself being so expensive compared to your average soft drink, these cupcakes are priced the same as the average “designer” cupcake. Great, i’ll take 6! 😀

The link tells you where to buy/order them if you live in the UK, but their origins are apparently to be found in the good ol’ U S of A. On behalf of the world, we thank you for your baking ingenuity!

Which do you prefer – Cocktail Cupcake, or Mocktail Cupcake?

SSDD

Muppet Cupcakes vs. The Humble Fairycake

Innocent Smoothies on Facebook.

These appeared in my Facebook feed – and I am so glad they did!

I love that little bit of magic in an artfully created cupcake. While super pretty cupcakes sometimes look too good to eat, it shows that care and effort have been put into making them. Respect to the person who loves cake enough to turn it into a project of sugary sculpture! 😀

Not that cupcakes like these are made with any more love than your basic, school feté fairycakeone should never knock a good fairycake – , more just that they have been molded with more deft fingers 🙂 Nothing beats that feeling of sheer, child-like joy of watching the pasty cake batter rise and become crisp and golden through the little window in the oven. No-one ever forgets the impatient buzz of anticpation that comes from that little muffin-top rolling gently over the top of it’s colourful paper case, nor the waft of freshly baked goodness, so thick you can practically taste it in the super heated air wafting around your face as you “check” those paper cases of joy.

It’s the pride that you made them yourself that prevents you caring when they smell so much better than they taste.

I think cake art is a skill and is often under-appreciated. I know it’s maybe not exactly an art-form, but it does take a degree of creative prowess to sculpt something so pretty out of icing, doncha think?? 🙂

So never give up on the humble fairycake – they may taste more like the paper they come in than actual cake, or perhaps sometimes a bit like raw egg, but they are an important part of a child’s life. They are a right of passage and an important stepping stone before we take that final step to the Muppet Cupcake.

SSDD