Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas II preparations

Well, Christmas is over again for another year. A lovely time was spent with the inlaws in Telford, which meant we got to enjoy spectacular views of the River Severn frozen over from bank to bank and Ironbridge Gorge generally in the snow. Most enjoyable.

But now, it means that it is nearly time for Christmas The Second, the highlight of the social calendar. Christmas is faithfully recreated in its entirety, but with your mates over instead of your family. I have prepared the pass the parcels, written the quiz, and today it was time to start readying the food.

Full Christmas dinner will be made on the day, so today was the day for making snacks. I made a Christmas cake, which I admittedly should have done earlier, but who actually cares? It was from a competition win, a Delia Christmas cake pack from Waitrose. It's smelling awesome after its alloted 4 hours in the oven and I've already fed it with brandy, port, whisky and some elderflower cordial. Lemon vodka will be added shortly before I cover it with dried fruits and nuts!

Rocky Road
In anticipation of the angry hordes, I have also created some more delicacies. Some pate and cheese mini scones (with cheese only for the vegetarians), which have come out excellently crumbly. There are also a batch of flapjacks, a tonne of rocky road biscuit and my piece de resistance, some apple and white chocolate muffins and mini muffins.

Savoury Scones
This was borne out of me having a big jar of apple puree in the fridge that I wanted to bake something in. And as it happened, cooking apples were reduced to 10p/kg in Tesco when I nipped in before (woo hoo!) and so now the muffins have both apple puree and chunks of cooking apple in them.
Flapjacks and muffins

I shall update on the status of these delights post the Christmas Part Deux celebration.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

UK Cuts - am I the only one that's scared?

I've been watching media and online coverage of the recent student protests and have been increasingly angered by biased coverage in the media and the ongoing downplaying of clear incidents of police violence in the capital. I completely support the right of students to peacefully protest against the huge increases in tuition fees that the government will be putting into place. After all, when I have children I want them to choose whether or not the want to go to university, not to be put off by the spectre of massive debt. I went to university after grants, but before fees - and I'm still paying off my student loan, despite having earned over the threshold for the last 5.5 years. I still have an indefinite amount of years left to pay - yet already I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

The rightous indignation of the public is today being directed at the Gilmour lad, for foolishly swinging on the flag of the Cenotaph. I can't agree with what he did, but you'll always get a couple of idiots at a protest. However, why has the news coverage dried up regarding Alfie Meadows, the student hit so hard by a police truncheon that he required emergency brain surgery yesterday. Or the pictures showing a row of 5 students, all with head injuries, sitting by the protest. I have been informed that it is illegal for police to use their truncheons to attack the public in the head - presumably because they might accidentally end up needing brain surgery that way.

All of these things sicken and worry me. As I student I protested against the Iraq War and Afghan Wars, which I still believe to be unjust and to be the cause of a senseless waste of life of those in our armed forces as well as innocent civilians on the ground. I also protested against the introduction of Tuition Fees - I had a feeling that it would open the floodgates for untenable fees in the future. And what did the peaceful actions of myself and thousands of my peers achieve? Absolutely nothing. And here lies the fundamental questions that I wish to address. How many people in this country need to take direct, peaceful action for politicians to take heed? Why does the media vilify people for exercising their democratic right to express their anger at Government decisions? The Government is supposed to represent me and my friends and my family. Presumably they should be taking decisions which make my life better.

But they aren't. I am a public sector worker, so my pay has been frozen. I work in a local government department which is already hugely underesourced. My colleagues and I are working extremely hard to provide high quality services despite a complete lack of resources. We're doing all this in the full knowledge that first thing in the new year, our Council will announce what will be cut when another 11% is taken off our budget this year. This means a lot of people are working very hard, but not a single one of us is safe from redundancy notice in just a few short weeks.

And while we struggle on, the Government allows energy companies to continually raise energy bills, without any regard for the fluctuations in wholesale prices. Rail companies are once again given permission to hike up fares way above the rate of inflation. Living a normal life is becoming more and more expensive, but thanks to government cuts, we have less and less money.

How can massive public sector cuts improve the country's economy? Reducing public services and putting thousands of people out of work will not help anything. I often wonder if it is my basic level understanding of politics and economics that means I don't understand the bigger picture. Maybe that's true, but it doesn't stop me being scared. I see clear evidence that over the next few years it is going to be harder and harder for me to support my family. I may well lose my job, and if I am lucky enough to keep it I still know a lot of my colleagues are likely to lose theirs. This means that I will have to work even harder to provide high quality public services. Once we start to close museums, galleries, leisure centres, we won't ever get them back. Once people are overworked to the point of going off sick, it costs a lot to support them and get them healthy and able to return to work. This is going to happen across sectors, across the country. Many people in this country are already suffering financially and many more will be feeling the pinch over the next few months.

But who do I complain to? How do I get the government to listen to my concerns and take them into account? If I am scared, about my own situation, about the potential riots and peaceful protests that are likely to rock this country over the next few months, then surely a lot of other people are scared to.

The Cenotaph commemorates the brave people who gave their lives to protect this country from a direct threat. Thanks to them we kept our democratic rights and are able to lead a free live. I contend that current governmental action is the real attack on the Cenotaph. Ignorance and media bias are ripping the flag that represents our rights. But will anyone listen to this lone blog post and give me answers? Probably not.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Christmas Biscuits and Chocolate Cupcakes

I decided this evening that I wanted to have a break from the computer, have a bit of quality bonding time with my lovely hubby and generally DO something. This is in the effort to resist the urge to sit back and hibernate in this appallingly cold weather. I guess we are lucky in that we have not had snow yet, but hearing the weatherman tell me that tomorrow's high temperature was likely to be -1 I decided something must be done to avoid the lure of the sofa/duvet combo of ultimate doom.

So, we decided to bake. Hubby went on his merry way creating some European style spiced cookies and in my ultimate wisdom I insisted that he used my set of Christmas cutters because I am excited that it is almost, nearly the time of year where it is OK to do such things again. Unfortunately, I accidentally decapitated the reindeer when removing him from the greaseproof paper. I feel a certain amount of guilt about this.

Given that we have nearly a chocolate shelf in the fridge, I realised it was time for me to make something chocolatey to use a bit up. I opted for chocolate cupcakes so that we could get rid of some in an even more yummy way. I tried out a new recipe, where I dissolved a load of cocoa in boiling water and let it cool whilst making up the rest of the batter. For a bit of added nom I included some orange flower water.

Once they were packed off into the oven, I set about making the icing by melting a shit load of dark chocolate in a bowl above a pan of boiling water. While it melted I beat a load of butter with icing sugar, then mixed the whole lot together. This resulted in a satisfyingly gooey and rich icing. Once the cakes had cooled on the rack I thickly smeared the icing on top.

For extra added Homer-drooling, once iced, I dipped some of the cupcakes into some of Ye Olde Traditional Choc Lick(by the way, do please try the Riley's Toffee from the previous link also, especially the dark chocolate variety - it's absolutely delicious!). As ever I had a mixture of traditional cupcakes in cases and some made in my cheapo silicon mould from the Poundshop - which continues to do an admirable job.

Anyone for afternoon tea this weekend?

Diagonal stripe nail art

I decided to give green diagonal striped nail art a go. This was a bit trickier than usual, I think because I used two of the mini Urban Decay nail polishes from their Summer of Love pack for the upper layers. This meant that I had a smaller wand to work with when applying more fiddly detail. Had they been proper nail art pens this would have been a bonus, but in freestyle terms it made things much more complicated.

First I applied a layer of a light lime green. This was nail varnish by Jessica. I had not used it before and found that it was disappointingly pale. I was hoping for a more vivid effect. After two coats it was a reasonable finish, but showed up best in daylight, as you can hopefully see from the picture.

Next I freehanded a darker green Urban Decay diagonal stripe. Apart from the problems with the wand that I have described I was relatively pleased at how easy this was. Once everything had dried, I added a thin stripe of a light gold glitter from the same Urban Decay set. This created a nice finish, but again looks much stronger in daylight.

Having completed this look, I realised I was late and proceeded to throw my makeup on and get ready to go out in about 10 minutes. Which meant I immediately significantly smudged at least three of my nails. Please make a mental note to leave sufficient lazing about time to let your nails dry if you attempt anything of this nature.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Playing with Paintnet

Evening all.

Tonight I have been playing with, a free piece of software which is basically your Photoshop substitute. I first downloaded it a couple of weeks ago as it seemed like the best free candidate for planning out my Avatar mosaic.

When planning the mosaic, I discovered the 'magic wand' tool - which allows you to select areas of similar colour and tone. This is particularly useful for picking out outlines or sections of an image for the purposes of changing its colour or cutting it out.

Having played with it for a while, I found that it was a really handy tool for reducing photos down to two or three colours, which I think is a really great effect. One of the photos I've been working on I have drawn a grid over. I think this effect will look really cool done in oil paints so I may give it a go and see how it works out.

I know that I totally haven't uncovered the full capabilities of yet. I am finding that I get bored reading people's tutorials though, so guess I'll just have to devote another evening to having a fiddle with it to see what else it can do!

Thursday, 18 November 2010


I haven't got much to say today cos I've been on a training course for three days and my brain is fried, so I thought I'd cop out and just give you the chance to listen to some of my husband's tunes!


Sunday, 14 November 2010

EXCLUSIVE - Avatar: Biggest ever Blu-Ray Mosaic in pictures

So here are a selection of images from yesterday's Na'vi Blu-Ray mosaic extravaganza! I am so happy with how it turned out, really really pleased.


Avatar: The Biggest Blu-Ray Mosaic, EVER!

On account of my husband loving films and me liking making massive mosaics out of loads of the same thing, we were invited to make a mosaic out of Blu-rays on behalf of 20th Century Fox to celebrate the launch of Avatar: the Extended Collectors Blu-ray, which is out on Monday 15th November 2010. (More info here...)

This was awesome for a number of reasons. Avatar is a cool film and it's awesome to be associated with it in some small way. Because Avatar exists, one million trees have been planted worldwide. And finally, designing and making massive mosaics out of lots of the same random thing is awesome.

Breaking the world record for the biggest toast mosaic was loads of fun, but I enjoyed this one more artistically because we were able to use more subtle colour tones and the final piece was more artistic. I think if I did it again, I would make the darkest blue tone a shade or two lighter, because the finished result was really hard to light properly in order to take a decent photo, but we got some. (Pictures from the proper photographer and not my rubbish DS camera will hopefully be added in a later post!)

So, we were at the London Film Museum, in one of the Riverside Suites looking out over the London Eye. We used 4000 Blu-ray discs to create the iconic Avatar Navi image. It was 9.6 by 6 metres - so 57.6 square metres in total! It took 5 of us about 4 hours in total. I am proud to say I created the design and was perhaps the 'artistic lead' on the project if you will. Mike loved it and loved being involved with it. I hope if any of you read this in time, you pop over to the London Film Museum tomorrow to have a looksee - I think it's only going to be there for a day or two.

I'm not sure what the final plan for the mosaic is. We glued all of the discs in place, so that the mosaic can be moved. I am hoping that the PR company can find a home for the mosaic in the future, but if not I have been assured that an ethical means of disposal will be found, in harmony with the themes of Avatar.
You'll have to wait for the proper photos to see it properly!!

A great day and another wonderful memory that Mike and I have shared, but now I am knackered and going to bed!

Edit - wow, I just noticed that I accidentally overwrote a load of my photos from the beginning of the day. That sucks. Ah well, my grip on technology is clearly tenuous.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

REVIEW: Layla Graffiti Topcoat - WOW!

I got sent the Layla Graffiti Topcoat in White by R8Beauty to try out. They sent me a little questionnaire too, which I've just done. I've had it for a couple of weeks and been waiting for a peaceful evening to try it out and now I am SO GLAD I found time to give it a whirl.

I was a little unsure about it - it says topcoat on the bottle, but there is no more information than that. The lid has a funky design on it, but I had no idea if that was actually what it would do. I started off with Stay Perfect's Totally Teal as a base, cos I am obsessed with Teal and it matches my DMs. Woo!

I took a deep breath after my two coats were dry and applied the Layla Graffiti topcoat. I was unsure how much to put on, so I just went for a decent dollop. And before my very eyes, I watched it shrink and crack and produce the exact effect on the bottle top. Oh my days. I was in awe.

I convinced my lovely hubby to film me putting on the next hand. I'm really glad I used a dark base coat, because the effect shows up really well. I am now really keen to try the other colours in the range. This is literally the easiest, but most effective nail art I have ever seen - I am rapt with this product. Now it is dry, it is quite a rough finish, as you would imagine. I would think that if you want to preserve the finish, you could use another top coat on, to stop it catching day to day. I'm gonna just go with it as it because I quite like the matte finish of the Layla with the occasional shine of the base showing through.

Another really fun aspect to this was the problems I was having with my camera. I messed about with the flash a bit and got some really awesome pics. I hope you've enjoyed them. My camera is a Toshiba Camileo - technically a camcorder, so not so great for stills, but I love the effects that came out with the flash and high contrast here!

I seriously can't recommend the funkiness of this product enough. Get it, get it now.

Excuse the quality of the video, my husband is not the best videographer lol.

Matzo cupcakes and Christmas Challenge Update

Evening all!

Well, the Christmas Challenge has been an unmitigated disaster so far - hooray! There are a number of reasons for this. I've been working pretty much every waking hour in the last week, which has meant that today was the first time in nearly a week that I've been on the old Wii fit doobery. Ho hum. I have been ensuring that I walk a lot in the day, avoiding the tube when I've been to meetings in London, and volunteering to walk across town to the university for meetings instead of getting them to come to me, but it has still not been enough. I think that also a weekend of takeaway pizza last week, and many beers drunk on Friday followed by sharing a portion of chips with my hubby yesterday may also have contributed. Nevermind, onwards and upwards! I shall continue and see how we get on. I do think that my arms are looking a tad more toned, so it's not all bad news. Plus we've still got about 48 days until Christmas (therefore about 41 until the work's Christmas do) so there's still plenty of time yet.
Unrelated cat and husband image

I am considering knocking the lager on the head for a while and sticking to the wine. This seems like an eminently sensible weight loss decision if you ask me. At least I'm still not compromising my morals at this stage, although I do remember the Special K diet looking appealing midweek. Urghhh.

In other news, I realised today that we still have a ridiculous amount of jam in the house (stolen from the toast day because I wanted the nice close lid glass jars). I got myself all het up to do a spot of baking until I realised that we didn't have any flour! Poo!

Luckily, the Store Cupboard of Ultimate Randomness still contains a packet of cake matzo meal that I bought on a whim, reduced to 15p from Morrisons a while back. After dutifully searching the internet, I came up with a number of likely looking sponge cake recipes and set about making some fairy cakes, with a big dollop of jam in the middle. I'm just going to go and whip them out of the oven now, let's see how they turned out...

Matzo meal and jam cakes
...Turns out they look OK! Hooray! Now to pass some time so that the jam is cool enough to sample them!! Matzo meal is made from crushed up Matzo crackers.  These crackers are a traditional Jewish food, usually presumed to be kosher (indeed the meal that I have carries assurances that it is kosher). A common application of this meal is to make dumplings for chicken soup. This is something I will try in the future (I am sure that using a finer ground matzo meal will be fine in the end).

These cakes were made using golden caster sugar, beaten up with egg yolks and then stirred in to the matzo meal with some lime zest. I then beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and folded it altogether. I was not convinced that they would rise, and therefore adding the jam prior to baking them was potentially the kiss of death on them, however, they seem to have risen nicely. I suppose they are glorified meringues, cooked for just under 20 minutes on a medium over (I think I went for about 160'C).

And so, the taste test.

Mmm!!! Nice! They are quite a dense sponge, as you would expect from 'flour' which is crushed up crackers! I think the jam in the centre was a bit of a masterstroke as they clearly need a lot of sweetening up. The recipe I used called for nearly twice as much sugar as matzo meal and they are just  balanced with a big dollop of jam in the middle! Definitely a great recipe using a cheap flour alternative and a good way to use up eggs if you have a glut! Very enjoyable.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

What Lo-Lo Did Next: Toast Part Deux

Simon Cowell and Prince Charles
So I got hold of some pictures from one of the staff at the City Rooms to show you all our next toasty efforts! We did these on behalf of the Daily Mail, but I don't think they used them in the end!! Ah well, it was 6.5 hours of more toasty fun and absolutely dead  legs the next day!

But maybe doing these will cement my reputation as a 'contemporary artist' so if the whole museum thing goes belly up then I've got something even more flouncy to fall back on.

Me working Liz Hurley
They've told me they'll send me more so I'll add them as I receive them. In true Daily Mail stylee, we did the Queen, Prince Charles, Simon Cowell, Mick Jagger, Joanna Lumley, Liz Hurley, Madonna and David Cameron. Absolutely all my favourite celebrities in the world. I'm surprised at how well they've come out via this mobile phone camera though. Toast mosaics seem to always look better in photos and considering these are quite small the overall impression is still there.

And so the art of toast mosaicking continues to develop. :)

Turning Prince Charles into the Queen!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Extreme Housewife's Christmas Challenge!

I heard on the news this morning that today is the last day for people who want to lose a few pounds sensibly to start preparing for Christmas. This got me to thinking how I've let my exercise slip and had far too much beer and takeout in the last fortnight or so, so I have decided to embark upon an Extreme Housewife Christmas Challenge!

In fairness, the tshirt doesn't help. But my posture's awful!
I weighed myself on the wii fit and was shocked that it came out at 8st 10lbs! Arghh! (I was 8st 6lbs two months ago when I last went on it!) For someone of my diminutive height, this is not good enough. Since there are 6 weeks until Xmas I want to lose 6lbs. I want to end up more toned so I can look fabulous if I happen to get invited to any Christmas parties. So, 8st 4lbs or below by Christmas, that's the challenge.

In fairness, I'm not going to change my diet. I've definitely had too much fast food recently,  but that has been a product of circumstance, rather than choice. So I'll just make sure I stick to the usual routine of cooking too much for dinner and taking some into work for lunch the next day. I will also remind the Extreme Husband that as much as she loves his homemade curries, she should not be eating two portions worth of them at once. And I refuse to cut down on the beer - again, we've been out a lot recently, but that should be calming down now, so back to a few drinks once or twice  a week.

In order to complete the challenge therefore, I need to get back on the exercise. EA Sports Active here I come! I will also record all my activity and habits on Feel Fit, so I can keep tabs on how I'm doing with eating, drinking and exercising.

I am hoping that by posting on here and being honest about it I will feel obliged to keep it up and therefore not feel like a lazy cow come Christmas. We shall see. Any encouragement duly welcomed!

Things I Know About Making Toast Mosaics That I Didn't Know Before

1. Dark toast is smaller than light toast and therefore messes with your grid.
2. Jumping up and down on toast is the most effective way of making it bigger so it all fits.
3. Eventually, crumbs on the floor become a life-threatening slip hazard.
4. If correctly attached to the floor with 'spread', you can walk on a toast mosaic.
Me making a toast mosaic
5. Getting your mates to make a massive toast mosaic leads to a whole range of interesting builder's bums that you never thought you'd see.
6. Given the volume of toast, at least one person will search out butter in order to try and eat some.
7. Giant toast mosaics are surprisingly popular with the media.
8. Repeated toast mosaic creation leads to soreness of the lower back, knees and front of legs.
9. Everyone develops a different technique of applying the toast - by rows, in blocks or by colour seeming to be the most popular.
10. Anyone dislodging a piece of toast from the mosaic will be subjected to a round of pantomime boos.

Oh, and finally, the speed at which a toast mosaic is produced increases geometrically with the amount of booze consumed.

My Extreme Toast Mosaic - A New World Record!

And so it began...

So last weekend we entered the Guinness Book of World Records by making a the biggest ever mosaic in toast. We organised it as a HTC Wildfire Experience through a competition that we won. This meant that I got a load of my facebook friends together, including having Greg and Cory flown over from the States! It was so awesome to have so many friends together and it made me laugh so much that our friend Ian decided to get the bus back to Leicester with us, even though, strictly speaking, he had no way to get home!!

Sandra couldn't believe that we'd made her face out of toast and even cried a little bit when she saw it, but hell, she deserves it - she's an ace mother in law! Since last weekend, it has been incredibly mad. We've been on Daybreak, The One Show, This Morning, Granada Reports and BBC Northwest Tonight. We've been featured in pretty much every national newspaper and loads of local ones. I've done radio interviews for local radio, national radio and international radio! I don't think anyone could have predicted it would take off to this extent! I'm so glad that it helped to raise the profile of the Salvation Army in Warrington too, so some good came out of it apart from our own selfish wishes...

Lex and Jim
On Thursday, we did a series of 8 much smaller toast mosaics of various celebrities for the Daily Mail. I have no idea if it's actually in the paper, it is supposed to be in today, will send the Extreme Husband to Tesco in a bit to go check out the situation. Doing these mosaics was actually a lot harder as there were only a few of us there. The next day my knees and the front of my legs were absolutely stiff as - still feeling it a bit now. Unbelievable stuff.

Measuring it up with the official Guinness adjudicator
Makes you glad to have a blog called 'Extreme Housewifery' - this is definitely the highlight so far, so now we have to figure out what we can do to top it... Crocheting at the summit of Mount Killimanjaro? Feeding the 5000 by cooking a massive tarka dal in the Punjab? Redecorating the hall entirely in beer bottle labels? I don't know, but these all sound like great places to start. It has just reminded me to take the opportunities that arise in life. We grasped this one with both hands and had the most wonderful day. We're starting to get back to normal now - I'm spending the weekend resetting the house by doing a bit of low-level extreme housewifery, but I am determined to keep making my life sparkly and fun wherever I can, and if I can include my friends in that and share something special with them then so much the better!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

And she said 'Let there be path'

Wow! What a beautiful day!

Gipsy-Moo living it large
I am very much enjoying being out in the garden in a t-shirt and long shorts at this time of the year! I've been neglecting the garden for the last month or so as work has been so busy and the rain has not encouraged me to get out there, so today I thought it was time to roll up my sleeves and get it sorted. Looks like Gipsy-Moo is enjoying the impromptu sunshine as well, although I'm slightly worried she may have killed off the rosemary cuttings that were doing so well! Time will tell on that one!

The monster veg garden
I have officially declared the growing season for most things over. I've picked the last couple of baby courgettes and pulled up the plant as it's time to reclaim my path, especially with the terrible weather that undoubtedly lies ahead. Unsurprisingly, the cabbages and cauliflowers have not recovered from the Cabbage White caterpillar attack, so they've gone too! I have deadheaded the climbing rose for the last time this year. The kale I am hoping will recover and continue to provide us with greens over winter, so I've simply trimmed off the cabbage white ravaged leaves and left the new growth. Hopefully it will thrive now it has a bit more space.

Hope there's room in the compost!
My random beetroot all looks to be doing pretty well, so we can start eating those soon too. I was pleased to pull all of that lot up and find my Poundland gooseberry bush is still holding its own at the back of the border. Hopefully next year it will shoot up like the blackcurrant has this year, although that is yet to fruit. The last of the redcurrants are shriveling on the branch now, so that is heading into its winter sleep and I've cut back the lovage for the last time - that will wilt down to its roots, ready for me to move it when it first shows it's head next year.

And lo, there was path
All in all a very productive year for the garden this year. We've done very well for vegetables and herbs - the sorrel in particular seems to have enjoyed its new location. Now all I need is for the Extreme Husband to get the lawns cut and we can pretty much leave the garden to sleep until next year. Night night planties!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Extreme Halloween

OK, I want to get myself ready for Halloween this year. I can't remember dressing up for Halloween - ever! My parents weren't really into it and wouldn't let me go trick or treating and I never really went out for Halloween at uni, so this year I'm thinking it could be time to go for it and hold a house party.

So having never really done this before, I want an awesome costume. And I think it's only right that I make it. I don't mind if I sew, knit, crochet or stick it, but it's got to be good. And I've got 3 weeks just over to make it. So do you, lovely blog readers, have any ideas?

Past fancy dress is a cop out, although I did the flares!
I've been scouting the internet. Rainbow Brite looks a possibility, with knitted armwarmers and tights/leg warmers and a sewn bodice. I've seen awesome YouTube videos for making your own fairy wings, which seems to be a great idea, but maybe a little predictable? I've seen knitted cat accessories - ears and tail as well as hilarious sewn costumes FOR cats, which I think my three would totally not appreciate...

In the past I've made a couple of things that would be suitable for a costume so I'm happy to go on with it. My favourite was the Brain Slug (from Futurama) that I made for a friend, unfortunately I didn't take a picture.

Help! How can I go from my past fancy dress predictability to amazing?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Today's Extreme Housewife loves Orange and Carrot Cupcakes!

Nom nom, today's demand was my husband and his friend absolutely needing cake. We decided to go for carrot and orange cupcakes with an orange marscapone icing. They have got a basic sponge mix, with grated carrot, walnuts, he zest and juice of one orange and a dash of all spice and cinnamon in and the icing was made up of marscapone, icing sugar and a touch of fresh orange juice.

They came out wonderfully moist and it was my first test of my 6 section silicon cake tray from Poundland. To be honest, for £1 I didn't hold out much hope that it would do what it said on the tin, but it was really excellent. The cakes came away cleanly after 2 minutes cooling out of the oven. This tray produced quite a tall cupcake, so I think they would make an excellent, but smaller sized muffin. This may be my next test!!

Kicking it on the cobbles, my day on Coronation Street!

Damn the DS and its backwards picture taking!
I was invited by the lovely Harveys to the Coronation Street 50th Anniversary Street Party yesterday. It was a surprise to be invited, seemingly at random but given I had work appointments in Manchester anyway, it was a great opportunity to shake it out on the cobbles for an hour or two.

I've not been to Coronation Street or Granada Studios since a school trip when I was 11 or 12, so it was strange to be back. I approached the Atherton Street entrance, slightly intimidated by the small, but committed crowd of die hard Corrie fans staked out with cameras behind the security line. I felt like a bit of a fraud going past them, but then I watch every episode of Corrie and so I have no reason to feel any less of a Coronation Street fan than them.

Happy Birthday Coronation Street!
I was immediately overwhelmed with the scene in front of me - Coronation Street, resplendent with bunting, stalls of food, goods and games and long lines of trestle tables all down the street, groaning under the weight of Warburtons sandwiches, rose and regular champagne and a previously unseen number of Typhoo branded mug.
'Immortalising' their handprints - in bread...

The street was a-bustle - a mixture of media and guests and the stars of the street themselves. I said hello to a huge number of people and found it weird that in reality I was as likely to know their real name as they were to know mine! A lot of people, especially Shobna Gulati, found it a novelty to have their photo taken on a DS but it was all I could muster at short notice! Unfortunately, it appears that the Rovers does not yet have a free wifi connection, so I was unable to tweet at the time and had to wait until I got home, much later that evening.

Wayne Hemingway and Craig Charles
There was a fab Harvey's room with loads of surprisingly lush furniture (well, I really liked the dining sets, not too fussed abou he sofas!
Here I bumped into 'Sally Webster' - looking hugely glam and gorgeous with her short hair. Flamboyant 'Sean Tully' was trailed by an ITV crew, doing a piece to camera that sounded like a trailer for the exciting live episode and shocking storylines that are coming to celebrate the 50th Anniversary.

Fiz hooks a duck!
I saw 'Fiz Stape' successfully hooking a duck, and was proud to win some candyfloss on the same game for the lovely Susan, who kindly invited me to the event and has up til recently been the Twitter voice of Harveys_UK.

Extreme Housewifery

The entertainment was great, a live band, hooping housewives, the beautiful vocal stylings of 'Cheryl' and 'Kirk' (no seriously, he does a great Beatles rendition) amongst others and finally, some great tunes being spun by the host with the most, the ever smiling 'Lloyd'. It was fab having the chance to tell him well done for Red Dwarf. It's probably the lamest thing I could have done, but I just had to. Red Dwarf is still ace and always will be.

Scary Animation Making Man
And on it went. On a sunny Manchester afternoon, it was a lovely break between the work appointments I had to attend. I came away with a 50th Anniversary book with a personalised signature from the very friendly Tony Warren, creator of Coronation Street, which will be treasured by my household. I also got to meet the guy that does the scary Harvey's promo clips with all the shit coming to life... Urghhh.... But good to know who's responsible!

Happy Birthday Coronation Street. You will always be the finest soap in my eyes and I look forward to laughter, tears and excitement with you for years to come.

Kirk - my husband's favourite. He respects me more for getting this photo.

Izzy - big fan of Chilli Jam

Ciaran - a more traditional Strawberry jam fan.

Cheryl - likes a spot of damson jam.    
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