Cakes, Bakes, and Me

Back in the room! (Sort of)

Hi! So, as you can see, I have been baking again 😊

This time for a friend’s birthday. A mix of chocolate, vanilla and raspberry cupcakes, and a small birthday cake.

Knowing I had committed to making them gave me the kick up the you know what that I needed to get out of the low mood I’d been experiencing! And he’s a very dear and supportive friend, so there was no way I was letting him down!

Going to his birthday party was the best thing I could have done too 😊 Cheered me up no end. He always does a brilliant quiz, there’s a good mix of people, and I even did a few karaoke songs!

Fast forwarding a week brings us to the run up to Father’s Day. This always brings mixed feelings, as my Dad is no longer with us, and his birthday fell on Father’s Day this year too. Enough years have passed that I can remember him with a smile, but I still miss him obviously. He was rather fond of a ‘JD’, and it’s become a family tradition to toast him in the appropriate manner as shown below:

It’s not my drink of choice to be honest, but it was his, and that’s the point!

Our daughter Katie couldn’t make it on Father’s Day, so invited us to Liverpool (where she lives…for now!) We got there on Friday, and she and her partner, Josh, made us a lovely meal, and we had a relaxing evening with them, although one member of the household was very frisky! I refer to Jeremy the leopard Gecko, who was being very cute and kept coming to the front of his vivarium and wanting to play out 😊 I couldn’t resist of course, and he was soon running up my arms, round my neck, everywhere….he’s very fast!

Anyway, we stayed overnight and got back home about 2pm, when I promptly fell asleep! One of the most frustrating consequences of my condition is that certain sets of circumstances totally exhaust me. Sitting in a chair with no neck support, staying up late then sleeping in a strange bed, that’s all it takes unfortunately. But it was worth it ❀

The following day (Father’s Day), we had Glen’s Dad round, along with his Mum, and mine, and later on our son James and daughter in law Abi joined us too. I’d taken one cake over to Liverpool, and made another for home. Neither were novelty themed Father’s Day cakes, but they were both delicious, as I was using up the last of my flavoured icing sugars from Sugar and Crumbs. They are so yummy πŸ˜‹

So, all in all, quite a busy few days. I’ve been very lazy today, or ‘resting’ as I call it!

Anyway, one last photo of Glen’s Dad in his new ‘specs’, and I think we’re done for this post!

Cheers! And belated Father’s Day wishes to all the ‘Daddies’ out there!

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❀

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Cakes, Bakes, and Me

Discombobulation!

I’m sorry, I have no fancy cakes to show you. I haven’t baked this week. I haven’t been out of the house. Some days I haven’t even been dressed.

Along with this I also feel disconnected, trapped and anxious. I have a permanent headache, no interest in food (or anything else for that matter) I’m sleeping a lot more than I should be. When I am awake, I try to distract myself. The worst thing is silence. Silence means I can’t ignore my own thoughts. So the TV is on, I’ve done a bit of paperwork, and started some research into what I can put on a Christmas Fair stall (yes I know it’s June!) All from my chair, as I don’t want to go out at the moment.

I recognise the signs from previous experience of course, but I don’t feel there’s anything I can do about it. Which adds frustration to the list.

I was trying to think of a word that better describes my current state of mind, when ‘discombobulated’ popped into my head.

If you Google it, it means “to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate” one result described it as “A fun, fancy word for β€œconfuse.” If something has put you in a state where you don’t know up from down and you can’t spell your own name, you may be discombobulated” Doesn’t sound like fun to me!

While it doesn’t mean what I thought it meant exactly, it does partly describe how I’m feeling. So does this:

“Brain fog can be defined as “a state of mental confusion, detachment, and forgetfulness,” according to Dictionary.com. … Indeed, forgetfulness (memory loss) is a common cognitive deficit found in depression and confusion and detachment can be felt as a part of depression as well

I can’t pinpoint a trigger at all. I was fine last Sunday, then put my symptoms down to tiredness after the busy week and weekend preceding. I even mentioned to someone that I was doing pretty well!

I’d anticipated that I would need to rest at least Monday and possibly Tuesday, but after that I should have been ok. Back to what passes as ‘normal’ these days.

Instead……all the above. I’ve been dealing with my chronic illness quite well since my short stay in hospital in February so it’s quite frightening to think that depression can sneak back up on me so easily.

To remind you what I suffer from:

Mine is the continuous pattern and has caused permanent nerve damage. As you can see from the risk factors, I was quite unlucky. I was in the right age bracket, but that’s about it. It was only discovered after a bad fall in March 2012 accelerated the symptoms. Since then I’ve had surgery twice, countless mri and CT scans, medication ‘tweaks’ and nerve conduction tests.

But as anyone who has chronic pain will tell you, depression kind of comes with the package. The most difficult part is that you have a whole new lifestyle to get used to. You have to put aside what you used to be able to do, and focus on what you can do. I struggled with this for a long time. I didn’t want to accept the new reality and it made me angry. I shut myself away because I didn’t want people to see this new version of me.

And then there’s the guilt. For a long time I was in a bubble where nothing else existed but my feelings. But sometimes I looked round and saw lots of people obviously worse off than me, and I would feel guilty. And pity. Then I would assume that people would look at me and feel pity, another excuse to ‘hide’. Perversely, looking back, there was a lot of self pity going on. I’ve since learned that it’s very common and part of the long journey to acceptance. Along with grief (for your old life) and anger.

But six years on, with help and support from friends, family and counselling, I thought I was coping pretty well. The pain never goes away, and of course there are always ups and downs, but I haven’t felt as bad as this for quite a while. I’m hoping it will go away as quickly and unexpectedly as it arrived.

I have thought long and hard about publishing this post. Despite the recent efforts of the medical community to de-stigmatise mental health, and the increase and availability of help, it’s still very difficult to share this part of me.

If you are reading this and recognise that you share some of the feelings I’ve mentioned, please read the article I’ve linked below. I found it very helpful (and much more eloquent than me!)

https://www.recoveryranch.com/articles/mental-health-articles/when-disability-leads-to-depression/

More than ever

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❀

Cakes, Bakes, and Me

Coffee morning, committee meetings and me!

Hi everyone,

It’s been a busy week for me. That statement wouldn’t have been true before March 2012, but my definition of ‘busy’ has changed dramatically since then!

As you know, I love my baking, and my involvement with the Theatre Group and Pantomime Society. Somehow last week, all three needed my attention!

My contribution to the coffee morning:

Chocolate Orange Cake
Fruit Cake
Lemon Drizzle
Red Velvet Cake
Raspberry Ripple Cupcakes
Carrot Cake

First, there was a read through/audition for the Theatre Group’s next Production ‘Who killed the Vicar’, then as it was the Pantomime Society’s turn to host Greenbrook Church’s monthly coffee morning on Saturday, I did my baking (spread over two days) followed by the Panto AGM the day after!

All three went well thankfully, but after they were done and dusted, I went into what I call ‘sleep mode’, which is exactly what it sounds like. I don’t really notice how much being ‘busy’ affects me at the time because I really enjoy it, and I do try to pace myself.

The scientific explanation is that doing something you enjoy releases pain relieving endorphins, and dopamine, the ‘pleasure’ hormone. Which is why my various consultants encourage me to do the things that make me happy and give me a sense of achievement. Afterwards though I have to be prepared for, and more importantly, plan for, a couple of days rest.

So after the AGM on Sunday, I got home, had something to eat and promptly fell asleep! Monday I slept on and off too (I did manage an hour in the garden with hubby, and a bit of paperwork for Theatre Group) and this morning I didn’t wake up until 10.45am!

Luckily for me, my hubby has got used to this pattern, and is tremendously supportive. He does all the household chores anyway, but I usually try and prepare our evening meal. Sunday and Monday, he’s been given sandwiches! But I did whip up a quick and easy dessert, details of which are below 😊

Strawberry milkshake mousse

To make this quick, light and refreshing dessert, I used:

150g mascarpone cheese

100g double (heavy) cream

50g Sugar and Crumbs strawberry milkshake icing sugar

50g melted and cooled white chocolate

Basically, just whip them all together until stiff peaks, and refrigerate! Yummy πŸ˜‹

I should be back to ‘normal’ now, whatever that is!

Back soon

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❀

Cakes, Bakes, and Me

Excuse me? I couldn’t help noticing that strange and interesting plant!

Hi everyone,

Last week, I went to watch my friend Darren who was playing Mr Mushnik in an amateur production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. As he had also played the part for Greenbrook Theatre Group (of which I am a member), I shared The Bake King’s fabulous YouTube video, where he makes an amazingly realistic cake version of ‘Audrey 2’

If you’ve never watched the ‘Bake King’ in action, you really must, he’s awesome! I’ll leave a link to his video below. You can also find him in some episodes of ‘Extreme Cake Makers’ on channel 4 😊

Anyway, Darren asked me if I would make a cake for the cast end of show party, and I decided to have a go at a more cartoonish version of ‘Audrey 2’, using the YouTube video as inspiration.

I have to say that I’m really pleased (shocked?) with how well it turned out 😱, especially as it’s only the second time I’ve used an airbrush.

See my previous post ‘The Birthday Cake’ for my first attempt!

Details:

Bottom tier – 8″ round vanilla sponge, filled with raspberry flavoured buttercream* I added some white chocolate ganache to the buttercream for the crumb coat.

Middle tier – 5″ round chocolate sponge filled with whipped ganache, chilled, then carved into a plant pot shape. Crumb coated with ganache.

Top tier – This was made from RKT and lightly coated with ganache. I made holes for 2 lollipop sticks, then chilled it. I repeated this process 3 times, applying and smoothing the ganache with my hands – wearing food safe gloves I might add!

Assembly:

Using a cookie cutter the same size as the bottom of the plant pot cake, I cut a shallow hole out of the bottom cake, inserted straws to act as support, and applied buttercream to the exposed cake.

I wrapped the plant pot in some orange fondant with a little brown food colouring added, then placed it in the hole I made. I then added a thicker strip of fondant to the top of the pot.

I cut strips of white fondant, covered the bottom cake and airbrushed it green, in a deliberately ‘patchy’ effect.

I rolled some fondant into thin rounded strips and applied them to the RKT shape to create ridges on the top, then covered Audrey’s ‘head’ loosely with green fondant, pressing gently into the mouth area and over the ridges. I then placed this on to the plant pot securing with the lollipop sticks, and added lips made from red fondant.

I added some CMC to the remaining green fondant, and made a variety of leaves, the smaller ones with plunger cutters, and freehanded the larger ones. These were applied to the bottom tier, and the plant pot around Audrey’s ‘head’

Lastly, I added some little orange spots to the top of the head, and airbrushed it to accentuate the ridges and add some shading.

And that was it! I had so much fun making this cake, and for once I got my schedule right, so that I wasn’t doing too much all at once (which usually leaves me wiped out for days!) I planned this cake very carefully, even down to setting alarms on my phone to tell me when to step away from the cake and rest! If you make cakes, you’ll know how easy it is to get carried away!

I saw another friend in a show last week too, and made him a cake too! But I’ll save that for next time 😊

Until then,

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❀

Bake King YouTube

Products used in the making of this cake:

Renshaws coverpaste (I got mine from Party Animal Online)

Tesco red fondant

Tesco orange fondant

Tesco rice snaps cereal

Haribo marshmallows

Leaf plunger cutters

*Sugar and Crumbs raspberry ripple icing sugar

Silver Spoon icing sugar

Cakes, Bakes, and Me

‘The’ Birthday Cake!

It’s a whippet! It was my first time using the Dawn Butler Cake frame kit, and my airbrush of course 😊

I took my inspiration from our furbaby Charlie (which is why there’s the distinctive mark on the nose)

I really had fun making this. The Cake Frame provided the stability, and I absolutely loved using the airbrush!

So, the first step was to bake the cake of course. I found an oil based vanilla cake recipe that said it was good for carving, which you can find here:

I made 3 layers of a 5″ round cake and 2 of a 6″ round.

I stacked the larger cakes on the base of the Cake Frame, then attached the smaller plate in the kit before adding the smaller ones. I then carved the ‘neck’ into shape

The head was made from Rice Krispie Treats covered in ganache which I covered with cling film and smoothed out the best I could.

I then attached it to the central core of the Cake Frame.

After that I crumb coated the cake part with a 50:50 mix of buttercream and ganache

After leaving it to set I set about applying white modelling chocolate (hubby doesn’t like fondant) I made this myself using this tutorial:

The beauty of using modelling chocolate is the ‘seams’ are really easy to smooth out using the heat of your hands 😊

I made his cute petal ears from the modelling chocolate too, and just used some paper towel to hold them in place until they set up. The fur marks were made just using a fork and scratching the surface of the chocolate…..and then it was airbrush time!

For my first attempt, I am quite pleased, but soon realised that I need more than the 3 primary colours that came in the kit, as I couldn’t get the pale fawn colour of Charlie’s real coat as shown below:

Isn’t he handsome? ❀

Anyway, another week, another two cakes to do!

Watch this space 😊

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❀