Monday, August 26, 2013

Lego Cake

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Ok, I decided I needed something easy to blog about to easy myself back in. And since I wrote about a cake week in one of my last posts, I thought that would be the best place to start!

I made this cake almost a year ago for my youngest brother, who’s a Lego freak. I bought this Lego ice mould back in 2011, unfortunately just after my brother’s birthday, so I kept it a secret for a whole year so to surprise him with this cake.

To make the chocolate Lego men, melt chocolate (in whatever flavour, I used milk and white), pour into mould and let set. If you want to be properly fancy, you can temper the chocolate but I didn’t. To give the white chocolate a yellow colour, I mixed in some yellow food colouring. I do not recommend this, as it causes the chocolate to seize up and go grainy. If you are serious about colouring the colour, either buy candy melts like the Wilton ones or look for out for powder or oil based colouring.

Chocolate Lego Cake with Buttercream Icing

Ingredients

100g sugar

100g butter, room temperature

125g self raising flour

25g cocoa powder

1 large egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

Buttercream Icing

75g butter, room temperature

150g icing sugar

Vanilla essence

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cream butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy

2. Add half the flour and cocoa and half the egg. Mix together.

3. Add remaining egg and vanilla essence, and mix.

4. Fold in remaining flour. If mixture if a bit too dry for you, add a dash of milk. Spoon mixture into 2 sandwich tins

5. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until a knife stuck into the centre of cake comes out clean.

6. To make buttercream icing, cream icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Add in vanilla essence and mix together

The amount of chocolate you need for the Lego men will depend on how many you want to make! It’s really up to you.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Otterly Adorable

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So almost two weeks ago, my friend called me. She has gotten a call from the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary to know if anyone in my area could go check on reports of two baby otters stranded on the beach. So off I went with my boyfriend to go check, one of the guys was wily and hid in a hole in a wall so we couldn’t get at him but this guy was by the shoreline, was weak and barely even moved when we approached him and would have been washed away when the tide came in later that evening. We contacted the sanctuary to see what to do and they asked us if we’d mind looking after him for the night and they’d be up early in the morning to collect him and try and get the other guy. Of course we said yes! The poor thing was so shy and barely moving, he was very cold and weak. We took him home and looked after him and I got SO attached! We had him in a big plastic box, complete with a towel and a hot water bottle to help warm him up. We tried to give me some warm water mixed with a pinch of sugar and salt, as instructed by the people at the sanctuary, but he wasn’t particularly interested. We left him alone for a while in the bathroom (with the box he was in in the bath) and after I went to bed, he started ‘meeping’ quite a bit and I felt so bad for him that I took the box into the bed and he stayed beside me while I read. My boyfriend went to go to the bathroom, deciding not to use the the one the otter was in but wanted to check on him first, full expecting me to be lying on the floor next to him. Instead he came into our bedroom and discovered the otter in the box on his side of the bed!! When my boyfriend eventually went to bed we moved Oscar (as my younger siblings decided to call him) back into the bathroom.

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We were woken in the morning by him meeping quite a lot. After my boyfriend left to meet the sanctuary people at the beach I decided to go into Oscar as he seemed upset. And indeed he was. He had managed to get out of the box but was still in the bathroom. He had done his business there and seemed to be upset about that. I washed him and the bath with the shower attachment, wrapped him up in a towel and brought him back to bed with me. He had stopped meeping at this stage though unfortunately my boyfriend arrived back shortly after that to take him to the sanctuary people. I was heartbroken, I’d really fallen in love with Oscar! He was so cute and so soft and fluffy. They never found the other otter, he stayed hidden unfortunately. Though Oscar (now called Ollie) is doing great and you can check out some pictures of him on the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary Facebook page. But here are some more of my pictures!

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Biting his paw

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Giving a wave!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Update of Sorts

I’ve just realised it’s been 2 weeks since I last posted. I seem to be in a bit of a funk when it comes to writing. Partly because my boyfriend has moved abroad to start a new job and I won’t be following him for another short while. So it’s been weird adapting to living alone, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m just imagining noises!

This has rippled down into other aspects of my life, I usually turn to baking when I’m sad but I just can’t muster the interest. Which is very strange for me! Also, I have fallen out of being interested in doing my nails. I own 240 odd nail varnishes but just seem to be bored of them or something! I’m really looking forward to new releases from essence and Catrice, there’s a few essence colours that have sparked my interest. Also my nails aren’t in the greatest condition.

Even though I haven’t been in the mood to write on here, it’s not like I don’t have a million things I need to do posts about! I have cakes that were made almost 2 years ago that I have photos of but haven’t done a post about yet. I did have an idea of having a Cake Week next week, posting a new cake recipe each day of the week. I think I get the time to write up those posts I might do that! It should also help me get back into the swing of writing. However, I do have a post tomorrow planned that should make everyone squeal with joy. If you don’t, you’re just cold hearted! Now, I must try muster up the energy of inserting those squeal inducing photos into the post!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July’s Reads

So I managed to complete 13 books in July! I think a personal record though that was definitely in part thanks to the BookTube-A-Thon. If you want to find out more about that click HERE.

Matched by Ally Condie

matched

Book one in the Matched trilogy. In the future, Society makes all decisions for you, from what job you’ll have, what you eat, how much exercise to do and even who you will marry. Cassia is matched with Xander, a neighbour of hers, which while rare to be matched with someone you know, it’s not unheard of. Cassia is happy with this choice. Except when viewing her match, the face of Ky Markham, another neighbour, flashes up briefly before the screen goes black. Cassia is told this is a glitch but she can’t get Ky out of her head and so begins the Cassia’s battle between choosing what she believes is right for her or believing that Society knows what’s best for her. I found the story an interesting concept and I really enjoyed the book and the world that is portrayed.

Maus: The Complete Collection by Art Speigelman

Maus

 Maus tells the true story of Art Speigelman’s father Vladek and his wife in the lead up to and survival during World War Two in Poland. In this, different animals portray different groups (mice for Jews, cats for Germans, pigs for Polish etc.) through a series of cartoons that cut from Art interviewing his father in ‘real time’ to flashbacks of the stories his father is telling him. Even though it’s all done in cartoons, it makes the story no less hear tbreaking and real. An extraordinary read, well worth it. I had actually started it in college when my housemate bought it but didn’t have the time to finish it. So glad I did picked it up.

 

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

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I read the first book Clockwork Angel back in June and so I ordered this straight away from the library. It continues to story of Tessa, an orphan who moves from New York to London and her sudden introduction to the supernatural side of life, the Downworlders (demons, vampires etc.) and the Shadowhunters (warriors with angel blood). This story continues with Tessa struggling to discover who she really is and more importantly the two love interests she torn between! I’m not going to give too much away about the plot but I really enjoyed this and I’m looking forward for the next book to come in from the library! Couldn’t believe they didn’t already have this book in, so I’m just waiting for the book to arrive to the headquarters and to be processed!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The fault in our stars

I think you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of this book! I had of course heard of it and it was on my list of to be read but after watching a bunch of BookTubers do round ups of their favourite books of 2012 and every.single.video containing this one, I ordered it straight away. Of course, I had to wait weeks as there is a MASSIVE waiting list for this! Anyway! This book follows the story of Hazel, a teenager with cancer, who meets Augustus in a Cancer Kid Support Group. Hazel, who has always known she was terminal, suddenly has a life that she never expected would happen. It’s a very sweet story and very real too. It never felt like reading some cheesy weeper, which a book like this could have easily fallen into (hence why I keep away from the likes of Jodi Picoult). I didn’t cry while reading it but it is very sad in parts so keep that in mind!

Crossed by Ally Condie

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The second book in the Matched trilogy, which continues the story of Cassia, Ky and Xander. Honestly I hated this book. It felt like such filler and I thought it was boring in places. The whole plot of the entire series interested me but this and book 3 could have easily been edited into one book.

 

 

 

 

The Hit by Melvin Burgess

the hit  I had actually started reading this after Maus but then the other books came into the library and I wanted to read them. Hit is a new drug where people who take it have one ridiculous big high, where life is amazing and wonderful, before dying. Adam’s life begins to fall apart so he starts to contemplate taking this. The story has all the characters interwoven in different ways and the story is basically of how the world turns to chaos in a massive hit taking spree and riot. While the story is an interesting idea and Melvin Burgess is really good at writing things from interesting angles (take Bitch: My Life as a Dog for example) is was ultimately disappointed in the characters. I really did not click with any of them. Perhaps that was the point but the only reason I finished it was to see how it all came together, not because I particularly cared. It is teenage fiction though, and while I usually have no problem with YA, maybe someone younger than me would fair better with it?

Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore

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The plot of this book is right up my alley in terms of non-fiction. Growing up, Tim Moore and his family were a hard core Monopoly playing family. So Tim decides to visit all the streets on the London board, including the stations and the utilities, to delve into their past of how they would have looked when the streets were picked for the board, why they might have been picked for each colour band and what they look like today. And while I did enjoy the book, I found it tough going at times. There was something about Moore’s writing that I couldn’t fully click with at times, something I can’t quite put my finger on. A friend of mine is reading this now, started before me and is still trying to get through it, I think she’s finding it hard to click with as well. It hasn’t put me off his books, I will try another one just to see if that’s any better. All through this book though, I couldn’t get the Monopoly Pub Crawl out of my head! This book also kicked off my BookTube-A-Thon reading, I was half way through this when it started.

Cinder by Marrisa Meyer

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While Cinder is the next book I finished, I did start Tess of the D’Ubervilles and The Enchanted Wood audio book. I decided that since Tess was a bit intense I needed another book to read along with it to break it up a bit. I picked Cinder as I had heard good things about it from Behind Green Eyes. It tells a different type of Cinderella story, about Cinder, a cyborg in China who’s a mechanic. She becomes the attention of Prince Kai after he visits her stall to have his android fixed, just at the same time her stepmother blames her for her stepsister’s illness and punishes Cinder. I don’t want to say too much about it but it’s an interesting take on the Cinderella story and I’m looking forward to the next books in the series.

Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy

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If you pick up TOTDU thinking you’re in for an Austen style romance treat, then you will be sorely disappointed. While this is set in the same time and does contain romance, this book does not get it’s happily ever after. Nothing seems to go right for poor Tess. After being ‘seduced’ by Alec D’Uberville after tying to claim kinship with his family (basically her family find out that they used to come from the well to do D’Ubervilles and her parents send her off to Alec’s parents to try and be like ‘Yo, we must be family! Please help my poor family’), she has a child who dies in infancy and moves off to work on a dairy farm. Here the romance between herself and Angel build up, until on her wedding night he discovers her past and plans to leave her. The book is really about the double standards of society back in that time and you really can’t help but feel for poor Tess. I found the book slow at first but once it got into it I did enjoy it, even if the language was a bit too flowery for me at times!

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

The enchanted wood

This book came under two BookRead-A-Thon goals, to reread a book and listen to an audiobook. I used to kinda scoff at the idea of an audiobook being counted as reading a book but to be honest, it’s just as long, if not longer, to listen to an audiobook than it is to read the book! The handy thing about this was that I could listen to this while doing other things but still be productive in achieving a goal! This is one of my favourite books, about siblings Jo, Bess and Franny (used to be Fanny but the PC brigade got her) and the wood they find near their new house, containing The Magic Faraway Tree with all sorts of wonderful characters (Moonface, Silky, The Saucepan Man) and their adventures at the different lands that arrive at the very top of the Faraway Tree. Great fun and I’d love a Burton-esque film about it!

Reached by Ally Condie

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Final book in the Matched series and the final book I read for BookTube-A-Thon, finishing it at 5.20am! I powered through it. This was definitely a step up from Crossed though again I did think there was a lot of filler.

 

 

 

 

 

Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson

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After reading 4 fiction in a row and overall mostly fiction this month, I decided to break it up with non-fiction. I picked this book out of pick of library books as it’s a collection of different Jon Ronson articles he’s already printed and thought it would be nice to have interesting things but not have an arc or overall plotline to follow! I really enjoyed this, I seem to be liking article collection books quite a bit (like Moranthology last month) and it’s well worth a read. The very first chapter goes behind the scenes of Deal or No Deal, which I found fascinating.

 

 

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

the uncommon reader

I have a stack of library books to still get through but couldn’t resist getting this out of the library a week after finding out about it and reading it straight away. It’s a short novella (120 pages) about The Queen coming across the mobile library while searching for her corgi and her descent into becoming an avid reader. I thought it was a great short read, perfect for someone who is in a reading slump or wants something short in between books or series.

 

 

July’s Stats

Number of books read- 13
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:3
Number of eBooks- 1 (Reached)

Number of audio books- 1 (The Enchanted Wood, read by Kate Winslet)

Number of books borrowed from library- 10
Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 1 (Tess of the D’Ubervilles, read a book from GoodReads Popular Classic Novel)

And that’s that! I’m currently reading a library book that was due back yesterday! I’ve had it out for a month and knew I couldn’t renew it as there’s a list for it, but just couldn’t bring myself to read it for some reason. You know how it is sometimes, even though you might want to read that book, you’re just not in the mood for it? I started it yesterday and I’m 14% through so hopefully I’ll be finished it by the weekend. I’ve got so many more to get through from the library as well!

January’s Reads

February’s Reads

March Reads

April’s Reads

May’s Reads

July’s Reads

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