Probably sick of seeing these posts but this is the only one you’ll see from me.
As of tomorrow, Google Reader is no more! Please continue to follow my blog, maybe via Bloglovin’?
Okay, that was all!
Other places you can keep track of me are….
Probably sick of seeing these posts but this is the only one you’ll see from me.
As of tomorrow, Google Reader is no more! Please continue to follow my blog, maybe via Bloglovin’?
Okay, that was all!
Other places you can keep track of me are….
Gosh its late. Why am I starting a blog post at 11.30pm? I’m not honestly sure as to the answer of that…
Anyway, I’ve had a fairly hectic week, what with being ill and then returning to work, planning yet another birthday cake for a friend and then organising the snack food for the evening too. Even today hasn’t been a chance to breath, with another friend’s 40th birthday BBQ taking up most of the day and an evening filled with Ebay auctions ending and helping my partner write a CV. Tomorrow is busy too and so instead of procrastinating about when I’ll get this post done, I figured I would just do it… now!
My friend Tom, who is the partner of one of my best friends Nat, turned 25 on Tuesday. For his birthday we had a games evening and instead of it being at my house as they usually are, it was at theirs. This is because they have a newborn baby boy (who is adorable) and I didn’t want to uproot them and have to bring everything they needed with them. As such I organised all the food, making it as disposable as possible (limit afterwards washing up and cleaning) and of course decided to make a cake.
First of all, let me just say, deciding on a cake was a nightmare to even begin with. Tom likes Star Trek, Doctor Who, politics and… no wait, that’s pretty much it! However I finally settled on a random idea of a british theme, because he is one of the most patriotic people I know. I’m not sure if the british food theme occurred to me first, or if the cake idea did, but either way the idea rolled into a massive hassle (as these things do) and so his theme was set!
My british food plan was to be a secret – so I also decided to make it a secret within the cake. Basically, the outside of the cake would look fairly simple, but to cut into it you’d get a very patriotic surprise. As such I ordered an icing topper – a private joke shared between all our friends – of Rupert Everett dressed as a woman, from the St Trinian’s movies and figured a simple white iced cake would be fine for putting it on.
|Slight spoiler as this is the finished cake!|
I won’t get into the private joke, I doubt its funny to anyone other than us, but the cake pictured above is the icing topper in place. Anyway, the complicated part of the plan was to actually make the inside of the cake look like a Union Jack when it was sliced open… Can you say bad idea? Yes.
I began the cake at the beginning of the week, after collecting my new baking tray from Asda Living on Monday. My first attempt at red sponge came out a dodgy purple colour (turning almost brown on cooking) and it turns out Sainsbury’s food colourings aren’t bake stable (not that it was the right colour before baking anyway). I trekked out to Asda Living on Tuesday and tried again that evening. Again I got purple so I tipped it all away without even bothering to bake it. I tested the blue instead and got something resembling green. I baked this but it cooked green too – I gave it to my partner to take to work the next day. Thursday I headed out for more food colouring (and more ingredients by this point), this time buying Dr Oetker food colouring. I came home to test it out, thinking I’d got a good result but realising I would need more red colouring and probably more blue. I headed back out again, finished off the cakes and began work on the final product.
|Pic 1: My new tray. Pic 2: strange purple coloured mixture. Pic 3: Dr Oetker red. Pic 4: Dr Oetker blue|
Sadly, this was not to be the beginning of a wonderful cake. For a start the cakes came out the wrong colours again. The red actually baked orange and the blue just wasn’t dark enough to be the Union Jack blue. In fact when it was cooked, the blue actually looked more turquoise anyway. Trying not to be disheartened, I attempted the cake anyway. I went with the logic of “its the thought that counts” and knew Tom would appreciate the effort put in. However in my frustration and tiredness, I made a pretty poor attempt of the cake. I forgot the additional red icing I needed for the X of the Union Jack and in all honesty the buttercream I made was just too runny, especially with such a soft and fluffy cake that was falling to pieces at every end and turn. At around 8pm I called it a night and figured I’d ice it the following day after work. However when Chris got home I moaned about everything I’d done wrong, what I should have done and so on. He suggested we tried again but I told him I didn’t have time, nor the inclination.
|Midway through cake attempt one – orange and turquoise cake|
The next day I was back to work. It was a quite day as Sports Day got cancelled and we didn’t have much cooking to do as everyone was having packed lunches. I spent far too much time thinking about the cake and what I should have done, till eventually I text Chris and asked him to pick up more ingredients. On the way home I called at a specialist cake shop to get more food colouring and also a cake tray. By 3.30pm I was home and ready to start on The Cake v3 (or maybe 4…5… who knows?).
Now I told Chris, that I would mention him helping me, on my blog. So here is my noteable mention to him…. “thank god for Chris”. In all honesty, no way I’d have got it done. No way I wouldn’t have just broken down in tears without him. For the next 4 hours we cooked 3 more sponge cakes, along with topping some other cupcakes I’d made (pics below later), making cornish pasties, cooking sausage rolls etc. etc. The food colouring I bought this time was amazing – and so they should be for £2.20 a pot. Either way though, I ended up with three very nicely coloured sponges.
Finally it was on to piecing it all together again. This time I thought I had a few better ideas, though even now I still know there were things I could have done better. I halved the cake, to make it smaller to work with, but the plan to put it back together as I needed the final surface area for the icing topper. I started on the bottom blue layer, making all the diagonal cuts, filling them with white and red and then putting them back together. The bottom layer was done and the red fitted into it and then made up layer two. Each step I had to double check myself, making sure all colours were in the right place so that the overall effect worked when it was cut. Finally came the duplicate of layer one, to make layer three. It was messy but overall it worked and it was clear what it was – and the right colours!
Then came the rolling of white icing, enough to cover the whole cake. Sadly I’d run out of icing sugar by this point and couldn’t make any buttercream for covering the cake. It really was a bad throw together at that point. The icing went on and the topper was added. It looked pretty awful up close but I’m always grateful for a phone camera at these times…
Half an hour late leaving, petrol still to get on the way and all other food bundled into the car, we set off! I was feeling pretty excited but also a little worried that it wouldn’t work out when cooked. When we arrived, I set out all the food and I was actually a little proud of my (cheesy) british themed food.
Food included; Cumberland sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, “fish and chipsticks”, Tetley tea loaf, “Ploughmans” (which was really Camembert…shhh, with pickled onions, bread etc.), Bakewell tarts, Apple pies, peanuts, marmite twiglets and ice cream cake cones (close up later).
However I held my breath almost as we sang Happy Birthday and I insisted Tom cut into the cake. I was so pleased when it worked out – as well as I could hope anyway.
Tada! My Union Jack cake! The colours were awesome and vibrant, the general just of the cake was obvious. Its not a very good close up but you could definitely make out the X, not just the +.
Anyway, its now half past midnight and I’m dying to get to bed. I’ll leave you with a picture of my awesome ice-cream cake cones (self-named), which are basically cupcakes baked in ice-cream cones, topped with buttercream to look like ice-cream and then decorated with sauce, sprinkles and a flake! Enjoy!
Perhaps another new feature here, “Introducing” looks at telling you all about people who inspire me, people I follow for one reason or another, people who are generally just awesome in my opinion.
For this first ever post, I thought I would tell you about an American artist called Karen Hallion – a person who I have only recently stumbled upon but now pretty much stalk across the internet (not in a creepy way I promise!)
Karen Hallion first came to my attention, when a set of Disney meets Doctor Who prints started to float around my Tumblr dash. I had previously seen an Alice in Wonderland one (and bought it on a t-shirt from TeeFury) but I hadn’t realised there was a whole set of them. I googled them up, figured out the artist name and that was how I stumbled across Karen Hallion. I have since realised I already own two of her designs on print.
As you know from my last post here, I am completely addicted to buying t-shirts and these are just two of the fab designs she does. She draws (and I presume likes) Disney, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Labyrinth and loads of other things too – so there is nothing not to like about this woman.
By far, its her Disney and Doctor Who prints that appeal the most to me. I feel like I must own them all!
So far I’ve managed to acquire the Alice in Wonderland one (as I mentioned before) and as Threadless had a sale this week, I’ve ordered the Belle and Cinderella ones too. Just today I’ve had a message from Redbubble offering me 15% off all orders, so some of her other prints are looking tempting!
She has loads and loads of designs, under many different fandoms. I really strongly recommend you go look her up. You can find her in all the main places, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and so on. If you’re interested in actual prints, stickers, notecards and whatever else, another good place to visit is her Etsy store. She does a lot of one off and signed work there especially.
From Fairytale Who, to Steampunk, from Pop Culture to Harry Potter. Whatever you’re into, give her a look in. Hopefully you’ll love her work as much as I do.
I’ve not been massively active on my blog this week as unfortunately I’ve been ill. However that has given me some time to think about a few posts I’ve wanted to make. This one sees a new feature, that will come up as and when I think of anything. Welcome to Addiction…
Addiction Number 1 is t-shirts.
My name is Bel Smith and I am a t-shirt addict. It’s been five minutes since my last purchase…
Just over a year ago, my brother bought me a t-shirt from a website called TeeFury. He’d mentioned the site to me a couple of times but I’d never really taken much notice, until he got me this t-shirt.
The basic concept of the site is that one t-shirt is printed every day and is only available for those 24 hours. Once its gone, its gone. Artists submit their original work, usually mashups of two tv shows, two movies, two games etc. and so they’re not t-shirts you’ll find everywhere else. That’s not to say you won’t find them elsewhere, but just not in the high street shops. The site usually features most mainstream fandoms, so if you’re a typical geek then you’ll love it. I have the site bookmarked on my browser and check it daily (see? addicted!).
Over the past 12-13 months, I have purchased all these t-shirts from TeeFury:
In this selection there are references to; How I Met Your Mother, Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, Dr Horrible’s Sing-along-blog, Wizard of Oz, Beatles, Iron Man, Iron Giant, Indiana Jones, Bubble Bobble, Walking Dead, Geek Symbols, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland and Dr Who. Looking at it, this covers vast majority of my fandoms.
However my addiction isn’t limited to just TeeFury. Oh no. A few months later I found another site called Qwertee. This is a UK based site (or at least Europe somewhere), whereas TeeFury is US. The prices are very similar at $11 plus $4 for TeeFury and £8 plus £2.50 for Qwertee. That said, Qwertee t-shirts do come a lot faster than TeeFury (location of course) and Qwertee’s t-shirts also come with free Haribo!
Sometimes you see duplicates across the two sites of course – artists submit to as many sites as possible I imagine – but often you also get a lot of new stuff. The advantage even to duplicates is that if you missed it on one site, you often can catch it on the other.
My Qwertee collection looks like this:
Here you have references to; Game of Thrones, Thor, Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Nightmare before Christmas, Captain America, Disney, Walking Dead, Care Bears, Avengers, Princess Bride, Harry Potter, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings, Tea & Coffee, How I Met Your Mother, Monsters Inc. and Wikipedia.
If I’m not at work, you can just about guarantee I’m wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. At roughly £10 a t-shirt I have no problem buying these tops as and when I see ones I like. Though it may seem like a lot, if you consider that there is a t-shirt a day, over two sites, for at least the last year – I’ve done pretty well to only have about thirty five tops in total. Mind you, that’s not to say I haven’t bought other t-shirts.
These t-shirts above are ones I have bought from other places, not Qwertee or TeeFury. Not all of them are “original artwork” like the other two sites, but they’re still pretty unique. The “I am a Muggle” tee is from TruffleShuffle, while the Avengers one is from Play.com. True Story, the Toy Story and HIMYM mashup, along with the Ravenclaw Qudditch team one, are both from RedBubble (both ones I missed originally on TeeFury). Finally the GoT meets Street Fighter (or similar games) mashup is from a site I’m relatively new to called RIPT.
While these are a look at all my current owns, I have to admit that I’ve recently stumbled onto a billion more sites to keep an eye on. I probably shouldn’t be encouraging anyone else to get addicted, but if you love fandoms and t-shirts anywhere near as much as me – and if you can definitely appreciate a good mashup plus original artwork – these are the places to look at.
24 Hour Tees
TeeFury – $11 tees (plus ability to pick 1 of 3 colours), long established and offering a good rate of postage
Qwertee – £8 tees, long established, cheap postage and free sweets!
RIPT Apparel – $10 a top, also offering kids t-shirts, hoodies, iphone covers etc. good postage rate.
Shirt Punch – Pop Culture or TV – basically 2 sites but 3 designs, t-shirts, hoodies, iphone cases, posters etc. Starts a $10 and reasonable postage.
Shirt Woot (part of a whole Woot site) – $12, not sure about postage, lots of other designs also available but varying prices. Other products also available on one day Woot.
TeeVillain – a very very new site that I haven’t yet ordered anything from (opened only this week). Basically designs all featuring Villains. $11 each.
Slightly longer, but no more than 2-3 days
Epic Embrace – 48 hour tees. $11
The Yetee – 48 hours. $11 (other tees available)
OtherTees – 3 days. $11
TeeTee – 72 hours. €12
NwB – 3.5 day tees. $12 tee, $32 hoodie (other tees available)
However if you can’t be bothered to check all these, every day. Go here: Shirtoid
Shirtoid is basically a site that rounds up all the cool tees and puts them in one place. It features links to the one t-shirt a day sites, the every few days t-shirts and even the ones that are there longer term. It links to Redbubble artists shops, along with artist shops on other sites. Its also followable on Facebook and Twitter.
Now go, go! What are you waiting for? Go find yourself a really Legen… wait for it… dary T-shirt!!
As you will have read in my last post, I recently received a Primark gift voucher for £15, from Primark themselves. After having it in my purse for some time, I decided while I had some spare time after work one day, I’d go and spend it. Here is what I bought:
As soon as I walked into Primark, I spotted this t-shirt. I was immediately taken with it – though I did have a few moments of doubt, not sure if it was really my type of thing. However at £6 I decided it was worth the risk. It’s Bambi and Disney after all. There were hardly any left in sizes 8-16 and so I figured, majority can’t be wrong!
As I’d already spent £6 of the £15 on myself, I decided it was best to head upstairs and get what I’d really come for – some replacement shoes for the girls. Again I located white ones, which were the same price as the ones I’d bought before (£4 each) but this time they were patent instead of cloth. I figured they might at least keep their colour for a little while longer and hopefully last longer too. Having spent £14 of the £15 now, I wandered around to see what else I might want or need. I didn’t really want to spent too much extra, as money is tight this week. In the end I decided on some sunglasses for Megan. Her last pair broke in the car last week and after some deliberation, these heart-shaped floral ones seemed just her thing. They were £1.50 so I only over spent by 50p!
Four items for a little over £15, I’m pretty pleased with that. Especially as it came from a complaint over a £4 pair of shoes originally.
Anything you have your eye on in Primark right now?
Some of you may remember, that quite a while ago I had a bit of a moan about Primark. You can read my post “Primark – Just a little TOO cheap?” here. The day after I made the post, I also emailed Primark themselves. I send a link to my post within that email. The reason this post is long overdue, is because I got bogged down in BEDM and I didn’t give Primark the praise they deserved.
Only a day after I contacted them, I received the following email:
We await to hear from you.
I was very impressed with their immediate response and especially the manner with which they replied. I replied with my address and thanking them for their message. I didn’t really think much of it again after that. Really that would have warranted a nice post in itself.
A few days later however, I received this:
Surprised? I was. What a lovely gesture and such good communication.
I have to admit it wouldn’t stop me shopping in Primark again and I wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone who asked, what good customer service Primark have.
Though its something we’ve been pondering for a while, its now official – we are moving. I am leaving my beautiful, cosy and well loved village of Saxilby, to move to a house I can’t exactly say I’m in love with, in Gainsborough.
Those of you who follow my blog regularly, will probably know that I live in a lovely little village that I’m very happy in. I’ve lived in five different houses here and every time I move out of the village, I end up moving back. However the time has come to pack up the boxes once more and move to my partner’s house in Gainsborough – a house which needs a lot of work.
A long story short is basically that my partner has a house he bought (i.e. a mortgage) located in Gainsborough. I have a house I rent in Saxilby. For the last six months we have been living in mine and yet struggling to pay for both. We’d considered moving to his house several times, but to be honest its a house that needs a lot of work doing on and is also the place I had my car and handbag stolen last December (less about that said the better). As an alternative we decided to do up his house, while living in mine, taking the next year to get it ready to sell, basically re-doing the whole house (I really am not lying when I tell you its a huge work in progress – originally bought as a project house and having had hardly anything done to it since). However as time goes on, finances, changes to jobs and so on, its become more and more viable to move into his house and only pay one lot of bills. We’d been doing up the loft room anyway, with a view to starting at the top and working down, and so far its taken us about 6-7 weeks and we’re not even done with that one room. Its not been an easy decision to make but it has now been made. For the next year we will live in Gainsborough, do up the house and then sell it. When it finally sells we will move back to Saxilby, hopefully buying a house there that can be ours for life (or whatever that means these days).
I’m definitely glad about the decision and I feel that its the right one, but that’s not to say I’m a hundred percent happy with the decision. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, even before we move in. Right now the place is not only badly decorated and finished, its also full of clutter, mess and really quite dirty. Its also very much a boys house, not a family house. We plan to move towards the end of July and as such we have a lot of things on our “To do” list before then. Right now we need to finish the goddamn loft room, so we can move onto the lounge and outside garden as priorities. The girls room will also be one of the most important to sort out. I’m fairly confident that we’ll get everything done, but at the same time I do know its a really huge job. Our lives are going to be a bit upside down for the next year or so, but I’m hoping it will be worth it in the end. What I could really do with would be a Man With A Van, making the actual moving process easier, in preparation for the nightmare of doing up the actual house itself!
To end on, I googled up our new house. I found some creepy stalker information (like the 3 times its been sold and how much for) but also some pictures. Figured I’d share them with you as I document our transition from our current house to the new one.
|This is from Google streetview, taken 2011|
These are all floor plans of the house. They’re obviously still accurate as not much changes with regards to a floor plan and they are done after the loft conversion anyway – FYI a really badly done loft conversion.
Finally I’ll leave you with this picture of the lounge which I also found. I can absolutely assure you that it doesn’t look this nice any more…
I haven’t posted in forever. Do you even remember who I am? How the hell has it got to June already, seriously?
There is really only one possible person I could write this about and that would be my mum.
Sure there are a lot of inspirational people out there, both my friends and even famous people. I am often inspired by how a person handles themself or a situation, but no one actually inspires me personally as much as my mum.
When I was younger, mum and I were close, but not as close as me and my dad. When I was a teenager my mum and I used to bash heads all the time. Now I’m in my thirties, we’re really close. I don’t want to do the whole cliché “my mum is my best friend” because she isn’t, but she is someone who I would talk to about ninety percent of my problems (while at the same time being conscious of not dumping too much on her).
My mum has worked nearly all her life, bar having children (and even then she did a lot of supply work, since she was a teacher). She worked as the main income earner when my dad wanted to go back to University to train as a teacher too. She worked her way up to Headteacher for many years and although even now she’s retired, she still works as a Governor on two school boards, tutors two girls in Maths and probably a million other things that she doesn’t even mention.
When my dad died, she was possibly one of the strongest people I have ever met. She dealt with everything to do with the house, its mortgage and its insurance pay out. She dealt with all the debt he had built up with that she didn’t even know about. She dealt with his funeral, sorting out all his belongings, letting people know. She even dealt with some other personal stuff that I don’t really want to blog about.
I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter about a month after my dad died. My mum decided to hand in her notice as Headteacher and do something that meant she could be around for her new grandchild. She sold her house and moved to where other family lived (and me and my family actually moved too), she got a new and better job and she was an absolute star Nanny. I remember watching her trek out with the baby backpack on, or with the huge pram we had at the time. Babysitting every night because we ran a restaurant and needed her to be upstairs with our daughter.
And as time has gone one, she obviously gotten older but no less hands on. When I split up with my last husband, she held me together. She has often provided me with financial support but more importantly emotional support. She has the kids at least once a week if not more, to allow me to feel like I have a life outside of being a parent myself. Two years ago she had my children for ten days so I could go to New York, an experience I never thought I would be lucky enough to have.
My mum is amazing and hands down one of the best people in the world. She will probably never read this, or know that I wrote it, but if I am even half the mum she is, I will be happy. She is the biggest inspiration to me. Her strength, her independence, her reliability. Of course she has her faults, who doesn’t? We’re all humans after all. But my mum rocks. The end.
As you know I didn’t blog yesterday as it was my birthday. It wasn’t really the greatest of days but I’m not going to dwell on that, or harp on about it. Yesterday’s BEDM was about Bad Advice and as with the last few weeks of topics, I’m uninspired by the topic. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head to write about and so I’m just not gonna.
Today’s BEDM is Morning Ritual and sadly yet again I’m in a similar situation as many other days. Is it just me or did BEDM start off strong for 2 weeks and then fizzle out a little? Anyway. I don’t have a morning ritual. I set my alarm for 7, climb out of bed between 7.30 and 8. I literally pull on clothes, throw my hair into a bobble and make a cup of tea. I make the kids lunch, check they’ve had breakfast and are dressed with hair brushed and then I go on my laptop. I check mail, facebook etc. and then take the kids to school and I go to work. Obviously at the weekend its a little more relaxed, getting up without an alarm, sometimes coming down in my dressing gown and having a cup of tea, before going back up to get dressed.
I don’t have a beauty or cleansing routine, I don’t do anything exciting or even weird to tell you about.
As such this is the best you’re getting for today’s BEDM.