Monday, 26 April 2010

Another Chance to Win Photography

Here's another chance to win some artwork by up-and-coming photographer Christine Armbruster. Visit her site for a chance to win.

Fingers crossed that I'll win this time. It's my birthday this week & the beautiful girl in the green photo is, in fact, my little sister! So maybe this time I'll win. Here's hoping. Good luck to anybody else who enters too....but not too much good luck, because I want one of these pictures.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Redecorating the Kitchen & Inventing Cake

We used our Easter break to redecorate the kitchen. It's a project that we've been wanting to do for the nearly three years that we've lived in this house, and we finally got to it. It was all horribly dated with browns and nicotine yellows. Now everything is bright and cheerful and clean and inviting. I love it.

We used a dulux custom mixed gloss paint on the cabinets and brackets, white tile paint on the tiles and white on the shelves, and pink (Dulux Rock Candy 5, to be precise) on the walls (in special kitchen paint so that it can be wiped clean without harming the paint). We also did general tidying up, reorganizing, etc., and replaced the lights.

Miriam is convinced that we redecorated just for her because "pink is MY Favourite colour!" We let both of the girls help us paint...even if most of Anya's paint ended up everywhere but the wall. It looks great now and just really changes the whole feeling of the room.

To break in the new kitchen, we did some baking. In fact, I invented a whole new recipe to go with my new kitchen. We're trying to detox, and so we're currently not eating sugar or artificial sweeteners, no caffeine, and we're trying to cut down on white flour, and have eliminated as many processed and junk foods as we can. So this is my fairly healthy cake.

New Kitchen Cake
Otherwise known as Sugar-free Spiced Apple & Date Cake


heaped 1/4 cup butter (room temperature)

4 eggs (room temperature)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp Agave (This looks similar to honey, but comes from cacti. I bought it at Asda.)

2 tbsp honey

1 cup wholemeal flour

1/2 cup rye flour

1/2 cup plain flour

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tbsp flaxseed (I use one of the powder mixes of flaxseed and goji berries)

1/2 cup dates (Roughly chopped. You can add more to taste.)

1/4 cup walnuts (roughly chopped)

1/2 cup apples (I used apples, with the liquid, that we had jarred from our garden. You could use apple sauce instead.)

1 tbsp cinammin

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp Caro powder


Butter & flour your cake tin.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Beat together the butter, eggs, vanilla, agave, and honey. Mix well until it is completely blended and smooth, and the mixture is light.

Sift together the flours and baking powder. Mix into the wet mixture. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

The cake is not super sweet, but is a fantastic tea cake with lots of spice and depth of flavour. I love biting into a bit of date or walnut and getting that extra taste. I served with a cup of Caro, which complimented the cake really well. So here's a cake that you can enjoy without feeling guilty. And if you don't tell people, they'll never know. Miriam has been nibbling away at it all day, convinced that she's sneaking in some junk food :)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter Cakes (Lavender Cupcakes)

I hope that all of my lovely readers had a fantastic Easter. We really enjoyed our Easter. It was really nice for all of us to just have some time off and be at home together. We've enjoyed things like pancake brunches and crafts with the girls. We also redecorated our kitchen over Easter! (I'll try to post pictures of it later because it is so cute.)
We had some people coming over on Easter Monday for dinner, and Miriam really wanted to make "Easter Cakes". So we made some lavender cupcakes. The lavender just seemed appropriate for Easter--so light and delicate, the flowery taste just seems like spring and new life. Anya helped me to make the cake (she loves mixing), and Miriam helped to decorate them (she loves sprinkles). They are a great desert because they are so light that they are almost refreshing...except for the buttercream icing I put on top, obviously. I just did a simple buttercream with a splash of vanilla extract and food colouring to make it lavender coloured.
For my super easy recipe for lavender cake (or cupcakes), click here.