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I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream (Cupcakes)

Well, I’m back from my holiday. We did NOT die in plane crash, and although I have returned to the UK slightly crispier than before, this is entirely down to the 40 plus degree heat combined with beer at lunchtime forgetting to put on sunscreen regularly, rather than some sort of fiery fireball.

(I’d like to take this opportunity to thank one of my commenters DillyTante for her comforting words on my last post. Thanks, Dilly. Thanks A LOT)

In Skiathos, I pondered on the cake I would like to make for Oliver’s upcoming Beach/Tropical party (Yes, I am THAT sad) and came to the conclusion that I’d like to make cupcakes which look like ice creams.

So, while going out to restaurants to eat delicious food:

I think I'll pass...

Or watching the sun set over the harbour:

*thinks about cupcakes*

Or just generally hanging out:

WHAT?

The idea grew and grew.

So today I decided to have a trial run. I googled about a bit and found a recipe which actually cooks the cake inside a cornet. Genius! I decided to try a few of the cornet cakes and to also try a traditional cupcake in a case.

I assembled the most important ingredients…

The bananas and plums are there for me to make rude fruit salads for my own amusement. (the chicken likes to watch)

…and got to work. The recipe calls for a pretty standard vanilla cake mixture which should then be distributed between 12 cornets (with flat bases). As this is a trial run I only made four and spooned the rest of the batter into some lovely cases which I bought  from the local CakePorn shop.

Oh! Do you remember when I told you of my vast and unending love of the two local party shops Here ? Well, in news just in…one has closed down due to financial difficulties and the other BURNED DOWN. *gasp*. So I am reduced to driving to a party shop that also specialises in cake decorations and tins and cases and cake stands and and and I’ll be bankrupt by Christmas.

So I prepared the batter and shared it between the cones and the cases.

Note the large amount of batter in the cornets

I baked them for 25 minutes and got on with the buttercream ice cream icing.

Again, I used a standard buttercream recipe consisting of:

250g unsalted butter

600g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

I also added the second half of a vanilla pod’s seeds (the first half went into the cake batter) and whisked the butter and vanilla together until pale and then added the icing sugar slowly. Adding the sugar slowly made NO FUCKING DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER and I still ended up with a kitchen which wouldn’t have looked out of place in Miss Haversham’s house. I made half of the mixture without colouring paste, and the other half a small smear of “SugarFlair” paste in primrose yellow.

The cakes came out of the oven looking pretty good…

Hmmm

…but as you can see the cakes in the cornets have risen far too high over the edge of the wafer, when I add the icing this is going to cause a problem.

I got on with decorating the cakes, adding icing, flakes and sprinkles to get an idea of what works best.

Looking pretty good

The inside of the cornet

And the traditional cupcakes looked pretty good too..

YUM!

And so onto a taste test..

The cornets, although looking much more authentic as “ice cream” were far, far too sweet (possibly due to the large amount of frosting needed to cover the overspill of cake mixture). They were pronounced “YUCK!” and “TOO MUCH” and ended up..

Make compost, make something good of yourself Ice Cream Cornet Cupcake...become one with the universe.

(they also wouldn’t sit still on my…and I’m embarrassed to confess that I own one..cupcake stand *shame* which will be necessary to make the small fairy cakes into an effective Birthday Cake for the party)

And so we have a winner!

It's an ice cream in cake form...what's not to like?

But I’ve now got 40 cornets to use up and a ridiculous amount of icing sitting in the mixing bowl, malevolently.

And so I knocked up a cone dipped in icing, rolled in hundreds and thousands and filled with Marshmallow, M&M’s and smarties:

Sugar PLUS

And Oliver and Tom pronounced it “Good” and ate it, wafer and all.

And so, to a couple of links for you if you would like to make cakes that look like ice cream.

Ice Cream Cupcake Recipe

Buttercream Icing

And a link to the blog that inspired the cone filled with sweets (actually, this whole blog is filled with wonderful ideas, I would have tried the cupcakes in ice cream pots if only there had been time)

Sugarcoatedbliss

Thank God for trial runs.

Packing means no blogging

I’m off on holidaybobs on Thursday, so this week has been mainly taken up with obsessional knicker counting and decanting large bottles of shampoo into slightly smaller bottles.

I despise packing with a fiery passion. It combines many of my least favourite things: laundry, ironing, organisation, lists, folding, rolling and squishing.

I also hate flying and have a small internal voice which squawks ‘it doesn’t matter if you don’t pack enough swimwear because WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!’ I believe this voice knows something I don’t, so usually, about half an hour into the fold, roll, squish part of the packing I give up and throw everything, higgeldy-piggedly into the case while sobbing.

After all ‘We will hurtle towards the ground at 700 miles per hour and while this happens you will look back on this packing futility with fondness’

So. No blogging from me for a while. Because according to my internal voice ‘you remember that bit in Castaway when Tom Hanks goes into the airplane toilet and looks at the plaster and then they crash? That’s YOU that is’

20110719-104138.jpg

How to take a desknap

Disclaimer:

I would never advocate taking a nap at work at all ever, under any circumstances and have never ever committed such a deeply unprofessional act. If you ARE the sort of person who wants to take a nap while at work then you should be ashamed of yourself.

YOU are the reason that the government has had to make massive cuts in things like, LIBRARIES and stuff like…FOOD for poor people.

You need to take a long hard look in the mirror. Yes. Look. YOU ARE A DISGRACE.

*looks around for boss*

What a way to make a living

Right. You know those days when you’re just completely shattered? Maybe you’d been out the night before drinking cocktails or maybe you’ve been poorly, or maybe you’re just a common or garden lazy fecker…whichever you may be, I have put together a handy guide to sneaking a quick five minutes shut-eye.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are your friend. Worried about looking like some sort of inside-it’s-not-sunny-wanker? Fear not! Blame conjunctivitis or some other sort of terrible eyeAIDS and it’s all cool. You could even say that the computer screen “hurts your eyes” (nb: do a *boohoo face* and *bottom lip* while making this declaration)

You can then appear to be checking that vital envelope delivery while actually sneaking a quick drift into the dreamworld where envelopes are not important and you are a rockstar.

Envelopes you say? I'm ON IT!

Beware though of the oft repeated mistake of shoving the sunglasses (or sleephiderers) onto the top of your head and then catching your forty winks. This is known as a DeskNap Failure and could result in ridicule, SHOUTING and disciplinary action.

The Concentrator

This one takes a little bit of subtlety and training. It is very important that you learn NOT to dribble while sleeping, and this tip is not recommended for those who snore. In fact, giving it some thought, most of these tips are not for those of us who are unable to even sleep without being a pain in the arse by making unnecessary and irritating noises and/or secreting bodily fluids.

*AHEM*

Place an “important” piece of work, or maybe an envelope brochure on the desk. The trick here is to appear to be thoroughly engrossed in the document, so engrossed that you are slightly deaf to everything else and CONCENTRATING HARD. This is a two pronged attack. The first being that your are doing something VERY IMPORTANT and mustn’t be disturbed and the second that you are so utterly interested in this amazing piece of paper that you are failing to hear anyone asking you to do anything.

I just can't decide between the self seal ones with pull off strips or the gummed ones...zzzzzzz

The Bog Sleep

Need I say more? Need I take a photo of me asleep in a toilet cubicle?

I don’t think so.

And now, let’s have a look at some of the DeskNaps which could result in you losing your job.

The Slump

OH MY GOD! You're not even hiding your sleeption.

Satisfying? YES

Refreshing? YES

Effective as a subtle way to recharge? NO. Do not do this.

You’re Fired

Sleeping on the floor

The very moment you move your DeskNap to the floor, YOU ARE LOST. Sleeping under the desk is just…wrong. Don’t do this. I mean it. *stern*

So, Sunglasses and CONCENTRATION and toilets = GOOD.

Slumping and sleeping under the desk = Bad.

Are we clear?

And so ends this weeks lecture on How To Take A Desknap.

Apart from this one little thing – I’m sure you realise that I couldn’t take these photos at work and so I have simulated working conditions.

During the “sleeping under the desk” bit I got totally photobombed by Po and thought you might like to see it:

I'm getting in on this sleeping action.

Damn Cat.

Did you know that I’m famous on the internet?

I am.

I once got quoted by Nick Clegg during a webchat.

And I’m on Damn You Autocorrect.

Llama? How stupid. It was an ALPACA FFS.

So, yeah. FAMOUS

How to stop the hiccups after copious cocktails in London

London. You can’t beat it for a jolly good night out can you?

Well, yes, I expect NY is pretty amazing too, and Paris can’t be bad, I imagine that Sydney is a reasonable night out too, Rome? Fantastic!…But LONDON?

Lovely, Lovely London.

This place is in London

I bloody love a little trip into Town. I spent 15 years of my life commuting into town and as much as I hated the travelling, I loved being part of the capital. I still travel in on a monthly basis to see friends and London still takes up a huge space in my head which could, frankly, be taken up with algebra or something.

So! It was our meet up night and Sarah had stumbled upon a fabulous place that served cocktails in teacups. I’m not sure why this appealed to me so much.

Jilly Cooperism? – Did I feel like I was suddenly one of those glamourous, yet untidy women, who glug champagne from a chipped mug while failing to pluck my eyebrows and bush but managing to bag the super misogynistic bastard?

Was it rampant alcoholism? – Look. I like a glass of wine as much as the next person. So what if I like to make special winey-eggy-bread for breakfast? AND?

Ah. But not only did this little bar serve cocktails in teacups, but there was a whole range of vessels for the drinks.

Check out the BISCUITS

That right there is not a couple of cups of tea and a coffee. That is two cups of alcohol and a cup of different alcohol…in a cup. OH YEAH.

Jam Jars and enamelled cups and Vicky..oh my

That’s a round of Jam Jar Margherita and some raspberry gin thing and something boring in a glass..

And we pretty much carried on in this vein for quite some time…

Jam Jars again...DAMN! them jam jars were Goooood

So we drank a few, and laughed a lot, and ignored the couple next to us who were clearly trying to melt into each other. We decided that this place was OUR place and that meant that we weren’t going to mention to anyone at all ever and just go there ourselves.

Prohibition Chic

As we moved on to the restaurant, Vicky was struck with the hiccups.

It’s a renowned problem after drinking a bundle couple of cocktails and once we arrived at the restaurant I gave her my Patented Stop The Hiccup Top Tips.

1) Play a glass banjo

Luckily there was a glass banjo to hand

This failed.

2) Stick your fingers in your ears, and plug your nose with some fingers and also drink something.

I realise that this shit sounds complicated but, honestly?, the effort shown was pathetic:

Seriously?

THIS is how you do the nose/ear/drink hiccup cure:

See?

*shakes head*

You Might Look Mental...but It CURES those hiccups

And it did. So *arms crossed* Yeah! I am the actual BOSS.

I was feeling like a winner and we had some coffee and air kissed each other, although I think I might have used my tongue,  goodbye and then I went and caught the second to last train home.

As I plugged my earphones into my iphone to listen to a little bit of Paul Simon something, I felt all warm inside and happy and also a little bit proud that I hadn’t stayed out till three in the morning.

The train trundled along until three stops before my own. Suddenly, we ground to a shuddering halt.

And we sat there…

And sat there…

And sat there…

It was a Tuesday. I was starting to feel a little bit pissed off that I had made an effort to get the 11.00 train and now I’d been sat on the train for 30 minutes when I could have been drinking Ouzo in a Greek restaurant, or espresso in an Italian or  having a glass of wine in a pub in Covent Garden.

The train driver announced “Hello everyone, [bit friendly?] we’ve had to stop because someone has thrown a wheely bin onto the track”

I thought we were fucked to be honest. Our bin collections are now twice fortnightly.

badum-tish

So we waited another hour. I was so bored I took a photo of my bag

Check It.

Another hour passed. My i-phone lost all battery.

I moved over to a group of empty seats that I could crash on. I took a photo of the ceiling of the train

Are you bored by this? Try staring at it for two hours and then come complain to me.

The train finally started stuttering towards the station.

As we rolled into the station, the POLICEMEN started herding us from the train onto buses. It was truly kafkaesque.

I got home at two in the morning. Every single cup of cocktail had disappeared into HATE and every smile had turned to BILE.

I think there’s a metaphor in this story somewhere, but, if it makes London sound shitty?

I will deny every single word.

Dog Days at work

I woke up late this morning. I hate it when I do that, it throws me off course for the whole day…

Except it didn’t today because when I got to work, my boss had brought his dog to the office.

HOORAY!

WHO'S THE BOY?! WHO IS THE BOY?!!!!?

I love it when Digby comes to work. He’s the friendliest, most cuddliest, most sweetest, most LOVELIEST mental dog in the WHOLE WORLD; and when he comes to work I get to fuss him and stroke his beautifully soft ears and say things like “Whatchooo doing? eh? Diggs? WHATCHOO DOING THEN?” *happy sigh*

I am “training” at the moment for the Race For Life, which means I am spending every lunch trudging around the local green space like some kind of Janet Street Porter wannabe, but today I got to take Digby! DOUBLE HOORAY!

So, Digby jumped into the boot of my car “CLEVER DOG, aren’t you a clever dog then? WHO’S A CLEVER DOG THEN…GOOD DOG!” and we drove to the green space (I say “we” but it was mostly me; Digby just sat in the boot gazing at me mournfully in the rear view mirror)

I didn’t have a lead and I couldn’t trust that Digby wouldn’t think…”ROWF! CARS, FRIEND? ROWF? *SPLAT*”…and he proved me right when I opened the car boot and he went snooker-loopy in the car park. I somehow managed to get across the car park and onto the grass without us both ending up as a red smear on the road and Digby…Well, this is what Digby did:

GRASS!

DIFFERENT SMELL OVER HERE! LOOK! SMELL IT!

SMELL IT! IT'S GRASS AND DOG PISS!

TAKE THAT! SO CALLED OTHER DOG'S PEE SMELL!

These photo’s were taken in…ooo, about 40 seconds, before he spotted another dog in the distance and he was OFF. He ate up 200 metres in seconds, it seemed that he bounced about half of it, and the dog at the end of his run just stood, rooted to the spot, with his little eyes growing bigger and bigger. I shouted in vain, and then started giving chase. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE (uh, Yeah, OK, settle down there, Julia Roberts)

Digby now thinks that the game is “Car Park Death” and he bounds back onto the car park tarmac like an Olympic sprinter breaking the tape at the end of the race.

I should maybe point out at this juncture that I haven’t walked a dog since my old dog died in 1996. I’m not a total Dog Walking Virgin – more of a Born Again one.

The owner of the dog shouted “Stand still and call him to you”

So I screeched: “DIIIIGBY!!!!”  I think Digby heard “RUN LIKE THE WIND! RUN INTO THE PATH OF A CAR! ‘TIS A NOBLE DEATH!” and just carried on bouncing and whirling and leaping.

Suddenly, I heard a deep, loud, growly voice say “DIGBY! GET HERE NOW!”  and Digby’s ears finally pricked up and he raced over to me…It was then that I reclaimed my Dog Walking Voice and remembered that Dogs are all sexist bastards who only respond to gruff male-type voices. All Dogs are Jeremy Clarkson.

The owner of the cowering dog, nodded approvingly and I said “He doesn’t belong to me…he is my boss’s dog” as if I had been forced to take my Evil Overlord’s canine out for a walk in my lunch hour, and we skittered off towards a quiet towpath by the river.

It was nice by the towpath, there were no other dogs and Digby could indulge himself in a little light sniffing without the distraction of other dogs or people or benches or anything else that might take his attention momentarily away from the sniffing.

He's in there somewhere

And we walked and sniffed and took photos and chatted, we were having an all round good time.

WE HAVING FUN!

Until the towpath ended and we were back onto a large open field. A large open field with other dogs running around. Oh God!

Digby bounded off in the direction of the two closest candidates for a bit of Bum Sniff Speed Dating and I shouted in a Loud Gruff Man-Voice and the owners of the other dogs started running toward their evil dogs…and it was at this point that I thought “I’m probably going to lose my job”

The two horrible dogs set upon Digby, and as he tried to get away from them, the more they snarled and bit. He finally broke free and came running over to me and I checked him over and he had been bitten on the ear! That lovely velvet ear had a little cut on it! And I suddenly felt all Daily Mail and railed inwardly about bloody ASBO dogs and the bloody idiots who…didn’t keep their dogs on a lead…and then I looked at myself and really felt like a Daily Mail reader.

So, we hurried back to the car, Digby stayed nice and close the rest of the way back to the car, and he only went and smelled one other dog’s bum and he did that with my permission, and the permission of the dog owner and , maybe more importantly, the actual dog herself.

As I shut the boot of the car, and started the engine, I noticed that we had only been gone for twenty minutes.

We got back to the office, I checked his ear again and showed the Evil Overlord, who told me he’s be taking the vet’s bills out of my wages. (I think he was joking, but we’ll see) and I got back to work.

This is what Digby did

"BAD DOGS BIT ME AND I SNIFFED SOME HOT DOGGIE ARSE"

The day wore on, I fed Digby some peas fresh from the pod (you can read about my weird POD ADDICTION here, but I swear that I haven’t made this bit up in order to post a link to a former post. I really DID have pea pods at work today, and I really DID feed them to the dog) and we had an important chat about Who the boy is? and also Who is the BEST dog in the world?

We both agreed it was him.

And then it was five O’Clock and time for me to go home. Digby was OK with it, even though he stared at me as I got in my car and drove away

She's Leaving...I can't believe it's true...

And that is the end of the story of me and Digby and our day at work today.

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