Thursday, 28 June 2012

50 Shades of Twilight

I had to do it, all my facebook friends were talking about it, laughing about it, giving each other cheeky winks about it. I needed to know what the fuss was about, I felt like I was missing out, and I don't like missing out. So I bought and downloaded 50 Shades of Grey. I hurtled through the first 9 chapters desperate to see what was so good about it, but came away feeling disappointed. The main characters did not appeal to me at all and it felt as though the book was aimed at 15 year old girls. Then came the erotica and basically it felt like a readers story in a porno magazine, not that I'm prone to reading porno mags but I may have seen one or two ;-) Maybe it's just me, but I'm not impressed.
Then I found out that the book actually started out as a Twilight fanfic. (Fanfic/fanfiction is a piece of writing by fans using the same characters or settings from an original piece of work, book, film or tv etc) So Anastasia was first Bella Swan and Christian Grey was Edward Cullen. The writer began her story on a fanfiction web site but was soon asked to remove it as it was too raunchy. Then the characters where changed and 50 Shades was born. The original draft was believed to have been called The Master of the Universe.
Reading through you can still see a lot of similarities between the main characters, for example Edward and Christian were both adopted, both have dark secrets, both have lots of money, both give their woman a car, both play piano.
I'll admit I did read all of the Twilight books, mainly because I'm a big fan of fantasy fiction. There were parts I liked but overall I had trouble with the series because I didn't like, or couldn't relate to the main characters Edward and Bella. I'm thinking now that this is the reason why I am not enjoying 50 shades.
I'm more than halfway through now and will finish as I hate leaving a book unfinished, and maybe it will redeem itself to me. (Perhaps there may even be a plot?) I'm already thinking how on earth this has been stretched into three books. If, I mean, when I finish the book I'll pop back and let you have my final verdict. In the meantime do share your opinions as I know I'm in the minority here.

Friday, 22 June 2012

How Many Blogs?

How many blogs is too many for one person to write? I started off with one blog, then I started up my shop and needed a business blog. Having two at this stage was obvious, I couldn't pour out my feeling or share my latest life crisis on a business blog, and I didn't want my current readers facing what was really a barrage of reviews and advertisements for my business.
Then I decided that I wanted to write more about my children, but again, didn't want it incorporated into my current blog. So I started another blog just for them. Three different blogs on three different topics, but then another problem arose. I was approached to write reviews and advertise competitions on my blogs, but I didn't know how I could incorporate them. If I put them in my personal blog they would alienate my readers and make my personal content more visible. It would not have been good for my business if I advertised other stuff on my business blog and although a lot of the content was appropriate for my kids blog I didn't want it be other than a record of my kids lives. My only answer was to start a new blog, one which I could add all the other stuff I didn't want to put elsewhere. I've added other content to this blog so hopefully it doesn't read like the pile of spam. I jogged along the four blogs quite contentedly for a while, if I got bogged down then maybe one or two of them would suffer, but I tried to keep them updated and fresh.

Now I have closed my business and business blog and have more time to focus on my blogs as well as fewer blogs to write.

BUT, now I want to write about my passion for food, and in particular cakes, so a new blog could be on the horizon soon.

I'd love to hear from other bloggers about how many blogs you have, or how you feel about having multiple blogs. Would you prefer to change the tone and direction of your blog rather than start a new one? Do you have mulitple blogs? If so, how many do you think should be the limit? Please answer here or on Twitter... @okesanne
Thanks :-)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Computer Cake

My sister-in-law asked me to make a cake for my brother's birthday...something to do with computers was what she asked for.
I looked in books and online but I couldn't find anything I felt I wanted to make, or thought I could make and it look be honest I think computer cakes look pretty naff!
I did find one which was a screen with keyboard and mouse on a white cake which I quite liked, so I used this as inspiration.
I wanted to do a square cake but left it a bit late to get a square cake board, in the local shops they are all round. So I made an 8 inch round cake. It had been a busy week and I took the cake out of the oven just as it was time to pick the girls up from school. I poked it with a skewer and it came out clean so I left it and went out. When I got back the cake had sunk in the middle. On further investigation I saw that it had not cooked in the centre, when checking I'd put the skewer in slightly off center but there was an entire middle bit that was still runny. So I learnt some new things as this had never happened to me before.

  • make sure you have plenty of time to cook your cake properly
  • make sure you poke the skewer right in the middle as well as nearer the edges 
  • you CANNOT successfully cook the middle of the cake alone
  • if you try to cook the middle, it will take FOREVER and the rest of the cake will burn
So I started again. This time I had a lovely cooked round cake.
I then put the cake in the freezer wrapped in cling film, cakes are easier to cut when frozen.
The next morning I retrieved the cake and sliced it through the middle. I also trimmed the cake so that it was a nice even shape, thankfully it didn't need much. (the trimmings were frozen to make cake pops at a later date)
I filled the cake with buttercream, but first I broke a cocktail stick in half and put one in the top slice and one in the bottom so I knew exactly how to line the two halves up again after filling. This keeps the even shape.
Then I covered the cake in a thin layer of buttercream and covered it with 'ready to roll' icing in white.
The computer decorations I'd made earlier in the week so that they would be set/hard. The screen I  made from covering a shop bought marshmallow filled wafers with black icing. I decorated it with a  small square of white icing and wrote on it with writing icing. The keyboard I shaped out of black icing. My inspiration cake had a full keyboard set out but I decided to just put enough keys on it to spell out Happy Birthday, my brother's name and his age. The mouse was made with a small blob of white icing. To add a splash of colour I iced a blue ribbon around the bottom of the cake.

So here it is, my brother loved it but did complain that he couldn't get an internet connection on it!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Good Food/alcohol Show

Today we went to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC Birmingham.
I'm thinking they should call it the good alcohol show instead, there is so much available. Of course there is food too, but if you're looking to sample then it's the alcohol that's flowing a plenty. From toffee vodka to fine wines, you only get a little but it amounts to a lot by the time you've worked your way around the exhibition. As I was driving today I didn't get to sample much but one stall had me hooked for a while, it was the Colourful Drinks company which sold alcohol based on flavours of sweets, i.e. Black Jacks, Cola Cubes and the one we ended up buying, Strawberries and Cream.
The highlight of the day for me was seeing the Hairy Bikers on stage, they were so funny. They cooked loads and were very entertaining.
When it came to having lunch there wasn't much choice apart from the NEC restaurant, which we really didn't want to go to. We ended up having some rather delicious sausage baps, well I had sausage, Cas had sausage and bacon and Gray had pork and apple. Joseph had some of mine as the sandwich I'd taken for him was suddenly unappealing.
We also sampled some nice cheeses, fudge, lots of curry sauces, crisps, liquorice and brownies.
So we had a lovely day but came home to some very sad news which I'm not prepared to talk about right now.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

60 Diamond Years

This year saw the Queen's 60th Jubilee. I'm not a big royalist but I don't have anything against them either and I do enjoy a royal knees up, especially the weddings.
I remember the Queen's silver jubilee really well, considering I was so very very very young ;-) My mum and the neighbours set up a silver jubilee committee and held meetings in each others house on Friday nights where they discussed things like vol-au-vonts and drank bottles of Manns. They would go around each door and collect a weekly payment from everyone who wanted to attend. Everything was planned to perfection. The street was closed off and buntified, most of the houses was decorated and our house even made the local paper as one of the best decorated houses. On the day the weather was lovely, the party commenced in the street with fun games and a huge fancy dress parade. I remember being Little Bo Peep, but the winner was a silver queen, her outfit was made entirely out of tin foil and was pretty amazing.....even more amazing was that she survived the parade without being cooked! Then we changed into more regular clothes which meant a street full of Charlie's Angels jump suits, (mine was red and about two inches too short in the legs)
We then moved into the church hall, lucky that our street had it's own chapel, and a big slap up buffet was provided. Finally we partied until late in the hall and grounds.

A picture of the chapel in our street

This year I so wanted to do something. I knew I wouldn't be able to organise a street party like my mum did, but I did consider opening my garden up to friends and neighbours and hosting a BBQ. Sadly the weather leading up to the jubilee put me off planning anything. I regretted my decision slightly the week before when the weather brightened up but it was too late for me to arrange anything as I was away on holiday. So we did nothing :-( well, apart from watch on TV. I feel sorry that my girls didn't get to celebrate and have the memories that I have from my childhood, I doubt that they will  have any memories at all, especially as they missed their school party for being on holiday. Then I realised that by the time there would be another jubilee I would be way too old to organise anything and for a moment I wished I could rewind the weekend and do something.  Instead I will make a promise that next time anything Royal happens, a wedding or even a coronation, then I will celebrate with my family and give my little ones something to remember. 

There was a special event we did share though, while were on holiday we saw the Olympic torch procession. We lined the streets and waved our flags as it went past. Hopefully the girls will remember that because it's not something they are likely to experience again.