Friday, 18 October 2013

Gingerbread Teddies

Hey kids,

Satch here. Last December I went to a wedding where they served the most amazing gingerbread I've ever had. When I spoke to the guy who made it, he said he just followed the BBC good food recipe, so I had to give it a try...albeit 10 months later. As this wasn't for any occasion in particular, I figured I'd just whack a bit of icing on. However, my driving instructor suggested I do superhero gingerbread - how could I refuse? 

As you can see, I don't have cookie cutters in the shape of people, but teddies can still be super! To make these gingerbread teddies you will need: 

350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter (dairy-free, naturally) 
175g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup 
Cookie cutters
Icing sugar 
Piping bag

Preheat the oven 180c and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Put your flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl and stir it altogether. The original recipe said to sieve it but I like to walk on the wild side. 

Add the butter and rub it all between your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor, your life will probably be a lot easier than mine! 

Stir in the sugar. 

Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add this to the other ingredients and form it into a dough. 

Knead your dough briefly until it's smooth, then wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Cover your surface and rolling pin with flour - the mixture is quite sticky so I found I had to knead a bit more flour in, but that may well be because I overdid it with the golden syrup, who can say? Roll out your dough to about 1/2cm thickness. I experimented with different thicknesses, but the chunkier ones lost their shape and the thinner ones were too hard. 

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Then, ice on whatever delightful character you'd like! Here are a few I did: 

Hulk, Superman and Spiderman
Sort-of Fred Flintstone and a Blues Brother (I was watching Blues Brothers whilst baking)

Robin, Batman and a very loose interpretation of Two-Face!

And, of course, classic teddy. 
You'll notice a few are missing limbs/not-so teddy-like. These were the ones that were too thick and placed too close together so they merged in the oven. Still, arms are overrated, I find. 

At this point I usually think about what I would do differently next time, but these tasted soooooo good I wouldn't change a thing. Just make sure you get the thickness right and you're good to go! Also, it's a good idea to bake when you're going to see other people at some point - I basically had to demolish these bad boys all by myself. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Until next time, 
Satch x

Monday, 14 October 2013

Apple and Cinnamon Cupcakes

Hey kids, 

Satch here. While it's perhaps a little early for christmassy cupcakes, there was a cooking apple just sitting in my kitchen - how could I not throw in a little bit of cinnamon and whack it in a cake? When I normally bake for my church partnership group, I usually have a few cakes left for my breakfast the next day, but these got completely demolished so I think they were particularly good! Almost too I have to eat toast tomorrow.

Again, this blog is sorely lacking in pretty pictures. It was such an experiment that I didn't think it would work, and didn't think to take photos until nearly all the cakes had gone! However, I did manage this one, and I even instagrammed it for you - aren't I nice? 

To make these apple and cinnamon cupcakes the way I did (which, as they were amazing, I would totally recommend) you will need: 

150g Dairy-free butter
150g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
150g Gluten-Free Flour 
Splash of Dairy-Free Milk
4 Tsp Cinnamon
Half a large cooking apple (about 5 tbsp worth!) 
Cupcake cases (the big muffin-y ones)
Icing Sugar 
Apple Juice (I used cloudy)

For those eagle-eyed blog readers among you, you may have noticed I've changed my basic mojito cupcake recipe quite a bit. Just so you know, there's one less egg and a lot less milk as I figured the apple would provide a crap-load of moisture (which is a technical baking term) and so you wouldn't need as much liquid as you would in a regular gluten-free cake. It was a complete guess, but it worked! 

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C

Cream together your butter and sugar, and then mix in your eggs. 

Peel your apple and dice it finely. Throw it in your mix with your flour, milk and 2 or 3 tsp of cinnamon (I just did this by sight). I also put raisins in mine, but I was disappointed with that aspect of the cake - the apple is good on its own so I won't be doing raisins again. 

Fill your cake cases and put them in the oven for 15 minutes, or until you can stick a fork in the middle one and it comes out clean. 

While your cakes are cooling, mix together your icing sugar, apple juice and 1 tsp cinnamon. You're going for a nice drizzle-able consistency, so do it by sight and taste. 

Drizzle your icing on the cakes with a teaspoon or using a piping bag if you're feeling fancy, but I like the random drizzly look. 

If I were to do it again, I might try adding a bit of ginger just to see what that's like, but I don't think it needs it (and I knew my friend Piero would be eating the cakes and he's allergic to ginger so that would have been mean). The cupcakes turned out really well, especially for such an experimental bake! They were light, moist and christmassy - what more could you want? 

Until next time, 

Satch x

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mojito Cupcakes (Gluten and Dairy Free!)

Hello Children,

Satch here. Last week it was our friend Reb's birthday and so I felt she deserved a nice birthday treat, particularly considering the fact that she's gluten-intolerant and so rarely gets to eat cake - what a terrible, terrible thing. As a dairy-free kid myself, I know you can still make great cakes without half the stuff you usually put in, so I decided to make my first foray into gluten-free. 

One thing Reb and I have in common is that we both like a cocktail or six, so I decided to go all out and do something a bit special: mojito cupcakes! 

Unfortunately, I have a distinct lack of photos for this blog post as a) I still have no camera and b) I was making these with a five-year-old so we didn't have the patience to stop and take pictures (for those of you about to report me to the NSPCC, I didn't let her have any rum!) 

For these AMAZING cupcakes, you will need: 

For the cakes
150g Caster Sugar
150g Dairy-Free Butter 
3 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
150g Gluten-Free Flour 
5 tbsp Milk 
(If you don't want to go gluten-free and dairy-free then you can just use whatever fairy cake recipe you normally use.) 
Cupcake cases

For the icing
70ml Rum
3 Limes
Soft Brown Sugar 
Butter Icing (I tend to just mix it up by taste - you need butter and icing sugar!) 
Mint Leaves

Start by preheating your oven at 200 degrees C.

Cream together your butter and sugar and then whack in the eggs (beating eggs is for chumps!) 

Add your vanilla essence, flour and milk and stir it all together. The good thing about gluten-free flour is that you don't have to sift it (not that I would bother anyway, but just in case you're into that kind of thing.) The mixture will look a bit more wet than if you'd used gluteny flour, but the nice lady in the health food shop told me that's how it's meant to look.) 

Fill the cake cases with the mixture, and pop in the oven for roughly 15 minutes. Get them out and let them cool. 

Poke little holes in the cakes with a fork and brush the tops with rum. Let it soak in for a minute, and then go for another brush of rum. 

Juice two of your limes and brush the juice on the cake twice, just like you've done with the rum. 

Sprinkle on the brown sugar, it should dissolve into the cake. If you're not a big icing fan, you can probably stop here and still have a delicious mojito experience. However, the icing is pretty amazing, so you'll be missing out. 

For the icing, add the rest of the rum and lime juice to your buttercream. I have no idea how much buttercream I made, but I didn't use all the rum and lime because it would have been too much. Just keep going by taste and consistency until you get what you want - have an experiment, be an individual! 

Once you've iced your cakes (I went for the slap-it-on-with-a-spoon approach as dairy-free buttercream never holds a pretty piping shape anyway), slice up your third lime and place a slice on each cake, along with a mint leaf, and you're done! 

The cakes went down a treat and I was mega pleased my first gluten-free bake went so well! If I did them again, I might experiment with adding lime zest, rum and mint to the actual cake mixture, but you still get plenty of mojito flavour doing it this way so crack on! Anyone got any other cocktail cake ideas? 

Until next time, 

Satch x

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

No Sew Tank Top

Hey kids, 

Satch here. This top has been aaaaaaaaages in the making so I'm really excited to finally share it with you all (especially considering the fact it turned out much easier to do than I realised!) But first, WE HAVE TWITTER! It's very exciting so do follow us @SatchandSalt. Plus, we're taking suggestions for the bestie bucket list 2014, so give us some great ideas! We'll do crazy stupid things and put them on the internet for your enjoyment, what could be better?

Business over, back to pure crafty pleasure. About a year ago, our friend Glenky left this AWESOME tee at my house to show me, and I instantly fell in love with it: 
This isn't Glenky, it's just a pic of the original tee I leafed off the internet!

It combines all the best things in life - science fiction and famous authors from history - so obviously I proceeded to sneak the tee up to uni with me and hold it hostage until Glenky said I could keep it, what a Gent! 

The problem I then faced was that as Glenky, a regular-sized man, had bought the tee to fit himself and not me, a tiny-sized lady, and so a little customising was in order to make it wearable in public. At the time, I cut off the sleeves and sewed them up, but it was just the wrong side of 80s for me, and so back into the sewing basket it went.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why there's a random grey bit at the bottom of this photo!
Cut to two years later and I've finally discovered a way to make a man's tee into a girl's tank! Hallelujah! 

I've combined ideas from a couple of blogs here, as there are a few ways of doing it. However, to do it my way (which is totally the best) you will need: 

One man's t-shirt (This was a medium, so if you're not a tiny person, you may require a bigger size. 

- that's it! 

Start with the chalk and mark your tee where you're going to cut it. You're going to need a dip at the neckline (both front and back), as well as cutting off the sleeves and hem. I tried on my tee while I marked it. It may be a good idea to make conservative estimates with the markings, because you can always cut more off but you can't undo it very easily!  

Cut along your chalk markings, but don't throw away the hem you've just cut off! You'll need it later :) Try your tee on again and pinch the back straps together, to get an idea of what it will look like. If it's pulling in too tightly, you may need to cut deeper arm holes and more of a dip at the back - the bottom of these two holes should be in line with each other. Keep adjusting and trying it on until it looks right. 

Once you've got it cut to the size and shape you want, it's time to tie up the back. Try on your tee and pinch the straps together where you want them to join. Then, safety pin the straps in place so you know where to start with your knotting. Take the scrap of hem you saved and thread it under the straps so that there's an even length of material either side of the safety pin. Tie a knot in the hem fabric, and keep knotting downwards until you can no longer knot! (Don't forget to take out the safety pin when you're done.)
Sorry about my foot, folks!

And here it is!

I'm absolutely in love with it (and a little bit in love with Glenky for letting me keep and mutilate his T shirt!) I saw a version of this where they tied a ribbon round the back instead of the same material, which I might try. It takes a little time to get the proportions right, but it's so easy to do that I'm going to proceed to raid the mens' section of charity shops from now on! 

Until next time, 
Satch x

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bestie Bucket List Update

Alright gang?
Salt here - it's been a while! Sorry about that, but it seems Satch has been keeping you entertained!

Just wanted to blog a reeeeaaallly speedy update on the Bestie Bucket List!

I crossed off a big'un recently by running a half-marathon!
Unfortunately due to health issues, Satch wasn't able to partake in this, so I took one for the team.

It was my first half marathon, and I finished in 2 hours and 32 minutes, which I was really pleased with for a first try, and raised £590 for an incredible charity - The Hannah Chamberlain Foundation.

Here's some photographic evidence to prove we managed it:

We're taking suggestions for the 2014 Bucket List already, so if you have anything you want to see us try, get in touch. We're on twitter @SatchandSalt or you can email us

Friday, 13 September 2013

Piano Cake

Hey Kids, 

Satch here. On friday, it was Mummy Satch's birthday and I was in charge of the organising/food etc. (I would say Daddy Satch was also in charge, but as he spent the majority of Friday afternoon in the pub, I'm gonna go ahead and say Cobb and I take full credit!) 

Obviously, a birthday is a fantastic reason to get creative with cake, and as my Mum is a pianist, I gave myself a bit of a structural challenge and decided to make a piano cake.
Apologies for the camerawork, I'm taking photos on my phone until I can get a nice new camera!
It's a little smaller than I would have liked - I think if I used 4 eggs and 8oz of everything it would have stood up on its own without the box, so you may want to change the quantities of ingredients. However, I'm not sure about this, so I'll write it how I made it. 

To make this cake you will need:

6oz Caster Sugar 
6oz Butter (I used dairy-free) 
3 Eggs 
1-2oz Cocoa Powder
4-5oz Self-Raising Flower (With these last two ingredients you need to make it up to 6oz, so it depends how chocolatey you want it. I think I just did 1oz cocoa and the rest flour). 
A Lined Square Cake Tin 

To decorate:
Icing Sugar
Cocoa Powder 
Dark Chocolate
Chocolate Fingers
Possibly a cardboard box covered in greaseproof paper to stand it against!

It's your basic chocolate sponge recipe so I won't go into too fine a detail. Cream together the butter and sugar, mix in the eggs (I don't bother whisking them first) and add in the flour and cocoa powder. Then, pour your mixutre into your cake tin and place it in a 180 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. 

When your cake is done, leave it to cool on a wire rack while you make your chocolate buttercream. I don't really have a recipe for this, I just mix together butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar and keep adding different components in until it tastes good! Also, I used dairy free butter which is why the icing looks a bit speckled, as soya butter doesn't mix in as thoroughly. Meh, it still tastes the same! 

You basically want to divide your cake into thirds, and trim a little off the top of one of them so that it's thinner than the other two (Hence the random extra bit of cake in the photo) This section will form the bit with the keys on, so you don't want it so thick that it makes the cake topple over. 

Cover your sections with the icing, making sure to cover the sections where the cake will connect. On the keys section, you're obviously going to need keys so add a line of marshmallows along the bottom edge. To make the black keys I melted dark chocolate and piped it on using a really thin nozzle, and I also piped "Squire Ealing" on the top section, as this is what it says on my Mum's piano.

Then it's time to assemble your piano! You may need an extra pair of hands for this (Cobb came in very handy at this moment!) Stand the bottom section against the back of your box (or on its own if you're feeling confident!) and stick four toothpicks into the top, spread out evenly. I tried to do this without toothpicks and it all just fell over, so don't try to be a hero. 

Then, pick up your middle section - the one with the keys - and push it down so the back joins on at the toothpicks. Here's where you need a second pair of hands: while someone holds the middle section in place, slide two chocolate fingers underneath either end of the keys, to make the piano legs. I found that the fingers were slightly too high, so I chopped the ends off. 

With the other person still holding the middle section, slide two toothpicks up underneath the middle of the piano, making sure they cross at the centre. This stops the cake from collapsing in the middle. Then, insert four toothpicks along the back of this section - in a slightly different place to where the bottom toothpicks are - and slide on the top part. 
Here it is close up.

It's a little messy when you examine it closely, but it's so delicate I didn't want to touch it once it was together! Plus, this isn't the Great British Bake Off or anything, so I'll take that. I chose buttercream because it tastes better, and makes it look more like my mum's piano, but using fondant icing might give you a better finish, especially if you did a grand piano version. Just remember to warn everyone about the toothpicks before they eat it! 

Until next time, 
Satch x


Friday, 30 August 2013

Hand-Painted Magpie Tee

Hey Kids,

Satch here. 

Before we get started, the Bestie Bucket List half marathon is on the 8th of September and Salt needs sponsors! She's running for the Hannah Chamberlain Foundation, so pop on over to her donation page and do a good thing. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to run it this time, due to bloody health problems, so it's probably a bit cheeky to ask you to give money to the charity I was running for. However, it is a very nice charity, so if you did fancy checking it out and giving them money - just because you're lovely - you can do so here. (Anyone else notice how brilliant I am at hyperlinks now?)

Right, now that's sorted, onto crafts! A few months ago I was in a bit of a sketching mood, and ended up with this picture of a magpie: 

Ever since I decided to include a character called Magpie in a book that I'm never going to finish writing, I've been a little bit obsessed with them, and see them ALL THE TIME. I think it's God's way of telling me to stop procrastinating and just write the damn thing already, but instead I decided to turn it into a craft-pportunity. #Priorities

I love this sketch in black and white, but the original image was so colourful I couldn't help but get a bit creative with the fabric paints! 

You may get a bit of deja vu if you've read my bleach tee blog, or Salt's bold slogan tees, but let's be honest, you're reading this to procrastinate, not judge, so we'll move on.

For your hand-painted magpie tee you will need: 

A white tee (Mine was from a charity shop)
A flat board (I used the board from the back of a big picture frame.)
Chalk/Oil Pastels
Black Fabric Paint
Blue Fabric Paint
Green Fabric Paint
A Fine Black Fabric Pen (fine as in thin, not "Damn, girl, you looking fine.") 
A Clean Tea Towel
An Iron

The first thing you need to do is stretch your tee over your board and peg it in place. The tighter it is, the easier it will be to paint. 

Then, draw on your design in chalk (don't worry, it will wash off). It's quite a time-consuming design so I couldn't be bothered to redo it once the whole thing was on, but now it's done I kinda wish the design was about an inch to the right, so make sure you're happy with the layout before you start painting. A clever person would have tried it on before painting but, alas, twas not to be. 

When you paint a new section, use a stiff paint brush to outline the edge before you fill it in. This will help you to do it more neatly. I got excited when I realised that adding a drop of water helps to spread the colour, and so ended up going somewhat over the lines, so be careful when you get to the edge. 

The head of the magie was pretty straightforward, as it's just solid black, but I really love how the colours change on the wings and tail. To make the green gradient like that, I started at the right end of the tail, and then gradually added a bit of black as I went along the tail. Again, spreading it with a watery brush helps to blend it together, just be careful! As the wings have more obvious blocks of different shades of blue, I roughly drew where the colours change in chalk before I painted. Again, start with the lighter shade, add black to get the darker colours, and then blur it together with water. 

Before you can go over any layers, or outline the wings, you need to leave the paint to dry and set the first layer with the iron. To do this, simply cover your tee with a clean tea towel, and iron on a hot setting for one to two minutes. It was at this point I tried to "paint away" the mistakes I'd made with bleach, but it just didn't work. It might be worth trying when the paint is still wet...

Once the first layer is set, go over any patchy paint jobs, and outline the design with your fabric pen. I then hand-washed my tee but threw it in the machine after that anyway because I suck at hand-washing. It came out fine, so I wouldn't bother hand-washing next time! 

I really love how it turned out (minus the mistakes). Next time I'm thinking of doing a tortoise, as they're the best animals ever. What do you guys think? Anyone know how to get rid of fabric paint mistakes? If you could comment below, it would be much-appreciated! 

Until next time, 
Satch x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cute Jam Jars for Any Emergency

Hello children, 

Satch here. It was recently our friend Anna's birthday, which made for a perfect craft-pportunity! To understand this present, you have to understand three things about Anna Jacklin: 

1. She can never say no to a challenge. 
2. She will never admit when she's ill. 
3. She would rather wear old clothes with holes in/patch things up than buy loads of new stuff. 

With this in mind, I thought I'd give Miss Jacklin everything she needs to cope with her ridiculous lifestyle. Enter, Anna's Supplies for Any Little Emergency: 

I got the idea from another blog, which turned a jam jar into a mini sewing box and made a little pin cushion for the lid. There are different things in each one, so I'll go through them individually. 

For your "Sewing Emergencies" Jam Jar you will need: 

A jar (I keep calling these jam jars but actually the ones I used are mini jars of Dolmio sauce!) 

Cotton wool 

Material slightly bigger than the lid

A ribbon/piece of lace 

Cream Paint

A label - make it pretty!

Supplies (These can be personalised to fit the sewer in question. Anna has a lot of basic sewing stuff anyway so I just threw in fun things, and a couple of pins, needles and spools of thread. On the right you can see a few different pretty ribbons - wrapped around an old wine cork and a bobbin - buttons and scraps of material). 

If you're using an old sauce jar like me, you'll need to soak it in warm water to get the label off. I stuck mine in the dishwasher, because I'm lazy. 

Start by painting your lid cream. I had to do two coats to cover up the dark green Dolmio logo.

To make the pin cushion, glue your cotton wool balls to the top of the lid (I used cotton pads and it didn't work as well, so go for the balls). Then, cover the wool with your material and glue it down. To hide any messy glue bits, tie your piece of ribbon/lace round the edge of the pin cushion.

Once you've done that, fill the jar with your supplies and stick the pins in the cushion, so the recipient knows what the hell it is! Finish it off by glueing your label on the side, preferably over any sticky residue left by the original label! 

The other jars are a lot easier than the sewing one! The next one I did is full of medical supplies, as Anna can't admit she's ill and so will not have any of this stuff in her house. When she wakes up in the middle of the night with the runs, she'll thank me! 

For your "Medical Emergencies" jar you will need: 

A jar 

A Label (Preferably in the same style as the others) 

Green paint 

Medical supplies (Just make sure you're not giving out dangerous drugs or anything like that!) I used
- Lemsip
- Three kinds of plasters (Plain ones, peppa pig ones and ones with tigers on - plasters should always be fun!)
- Immodium 
- Fybogel (which is the opposite of an immodium!) 
- Paracetemol
- Ibuprofen
- Feminax 
- Antacids
- Soothers  

The process for this one is much the same as the last, just paint your lid, fill you jar and stick on your label!

The last jar is loosely termed "DIY Emergencies" mainly because Anna has been known to do silly challenges in the past, and so will need general build-it fix-it supplies for when she breaks something in the process! 

For this one, you will need: 

A jar

A label 

Blue paint

DIY Supplies. I went with
- Post its
- Elastic bands
- Paper clips
- Tooth picks
- Batteries
- A pencil
- String
- Matches 
- Super glue
- Blu tak
- No more nails strips
- You can't see this, as I ordered it on Ebay and it didn't arive in time, but I also got her a multi-tool thing, kind of like a pen knife, which makes this look a lot more DIY-esque! 

You know what to do! Lid, label and fill her up! 

After I had my jars I decided to put them in a nice box, which I made out of a piece of cardboard and covered with tissue paper. Et Voila!

What do you think? The thing I love about these jars is that they're so cheap to make. The only thing I spent money on was the mutli-tool thing that didn't arrive on time, and the rest I just got from around my house! Ok, so this may not have been a cheap present for my parents...

Plus, there are so many things you could fill them with. If you have a friend who likes to make cupcakes, you could make a jar of little decorations and writing icing pens. Or you could fill jars with someone's favourite sweets or different kinds of tea bags. I also thought of doing ones of hair things/make up, but that would up the price tag a bit! What would you fill yours with? 

Until next time, 
Satch x

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

In the Words of Julie Andrews: Brown Paper Wrapping Ideas

Hi Kids, 

Satch here. I've recently become really into recycling and upcycling stuff - much to the annoyance of my mother who is much grieved by the fact that I won't throw anything away in case I can use it later! One thing I have discovered the joys of is, to paraphrase The Sound of Music, brown paper with string.

I've seen blogs that take the brown paper and string wrapping a bit further, so I decided to give it a try for my Grandma's birthday (who, incidentally, did not really care either way). 

For this one, you will need: 

Brown paper (preferably recycled, as I've done with the bag that mum's Jamie Oliver order came in!)
A Flower
A Leaf
A Black Pen

and, obviously, a present!

Start, as you would expect, by wrapping the present in the brown paper. Leave it face up.

Then it's time for the string (please keep up this is very challenging stuff!) Cut a piece a string about three times the length of your present, and lay it across the middle, lengthways, with an equal amount of string on either side. Then, turn the present upside down, pull both ends of the string to the middle, cross them, and pull them taught so that the ends are now going along the width in either direction. (It's at this point that I wish I had more pictures!) Then, turn the present rightside up, and thread each end under the original line of string, like so: 

Then it's time for your leaf! Write the recipient's name on the leaf with your black pen (who, by the way, did not notice this detail!) 

Pierce a small hole at the stalk end of the leaf, thread it on your string, and tie it in place. 

All that remains is to tie the string in a nice bow, and thread the flower behind. My apologies for the terrible fuzzy photo! 

I'm enjoying experimenting with different things for ribbons and labels. Using lace instead of string looks really cool, or I did this for Bridey's birthday: 

For this I used a brown card tag, and nicked a few bits out of my mum's bowl of pot pouris to make it pretty! There were four string ends to deal with (two from the tag and two from the present) so I plaited them which looked cool, but took ages for the Wife to open! 

What do you think? Got any new twists on old classics like this? We'd love to hear them. 

Until next time,
Satch x

Makeovers, Writing and Sketching Mr Gosling

Hey Kids, 

So as we're like 14% through 2013 (according to the calculator on Satch's phone) it's high time for a bucket list update. For those of you who don't know, we've got a list of things we're going to do/achieve by the end of this year, and blog about the results. Although we've done an embarassingly small amount of stuff so far, there is at least enough that's worthy of an entire blog post! 

Satch:  So I started with a couple of the easy looking ones, with varying results! The first one I tried was the makeover one, and as I have not had a haircut for the last two years or so, I thought I'd have a complete revamp and try something a bit different. 

Salt: Nice little T-Shirt you're wearing there Satch!

Satch: As you can see, I dyed it really dark brown and had a LOT of it cut off. The photo on the left doesn't do justice to how long it was, I could have been a freaking mermaid. That said, I'm not sure I'm loving the new look just yet. You can't just straighten it or leave it, you have to curl it or put it up to make it look good and that's EFFORT! The good news is that Cobb prefers it shorter, and Nathy Nath has also commented on how nice it looks, but the bad news is that my Mum walked in and said 'Oh, it looks like mine!' *Curls up in a corner and dies*.

I think I'll be happier when it's a bit longer, and I'm tempted to put a cheeky blonde streak in there somewhere, but at least there's something ticked off the list and I probably would have played it safe at the hairdressers if a makeover wasn't required, so at least I tried something new. I've also just started reading Salt's recommeded classic: On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. I've only just recently branched out into American literature and this was on my to-read list, so I'm very happy that Salt recommended it and I'm liking what I've read so far.

Other than that I made a poor attempt to learn new songs on the guitar (I don't think I'm the next Hendrix!) and piano. I tried jogging in preparation for our half marathon, but I nearly DIED so it's put me right off! I've started my novel (but, in fairness, that was because I had to last year for my degree and I haven't touched it in months!) and I've also made progress in the 'Learn to draw 3 new things' category - a shaggy dog and the back of Ryan Gosling! However, as I've written about them in another blog, you can read about it here.

Salt: So when we came up with the list, we split it into nice little month-by-month activities to split up the cost and time of things. Have either of us stuck to it? No. Does this make us spontaneous and interesting people? Why yes, yes it does.

With that in mind - so far I have nothing that I can post pictures of. But, that doesn't mean to say that I haven't been working at it!
Here's a picture of me, just to break up the entry a bit...

Satch recommended the book 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen for me to read, and I've started that. So far, it's very enjoyable. And bonus - its free to download on a Kindle. Even if it's the worst book in the world (which it doesn't seem it will be) nobody has lost out on anything.
Bless you, copyright regulations. Bless you. I'll let you know when I finish it!

Satch: As an English graduate I refuse to condone the use of Kindle's. Just so we're clear. 
Salt:  You're wrong. So wrong. They're so very convenient and lovely!

Salt: Secondly, I have started half marathon training. My gym membership has finally been put to use again since before Christmas, and I've been running jogging. It may be slow progress, but I can jog a 5k now, which is more than I could do this time three months ago.

I baked something I've never baked before - cookies! I've always been more of a cupcake baker, so these cookies made a nice change. You can read all about them here.

Finally, I may be a little behind in this, but I have started writing a novel. Yup. (And before any of you ask, no it's not going to feature any rich billionaires, vampires, or BDSM). Win. 1 chapter down, 11 to go. I feel that this one was potentially geared more towards Satch and her Creative Writing degree, but people read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and that was horrendously written, so I think I'm in with a chance.

Satch: So what do you reckon, kids? Who's winning at the bucket list so far?  

Salt: Since when was it a competition?! 

Satch: Fine, who's made the most...progess? Have any of you had a makeover malfunction like me? Or read anything good lately like Salt?

Lemon Drizzle Birthday Cake

Hello one and all, Salt here!

Thought it was about time I got baking again, and what better excuse than my other half's birthday?
I gave Beams free choice of cake, and he requested a Lemon Drizzle, but I'm a firm believer that you should be able to tell a birthday cake from your average cake, so I went all out on the decorations and created this...

I must have had a lot of good karma that day, because I baked in a limited time scale, and everything went to plan. Miraculously, neither half got stuck to the bottom of the tin and I managed to not drop the mixture, while trying to put it in the oven (that has happened before - humiliating!).

It was very well received by the boy, as were the presents you can see in the background. But more on his birthday festivities another time. Here's how I made this spongey lemony goodness!

For the cake:
 - 250g unsalted butter
 - 300g caster sugar
 - 4 large eggs
 - 300g self-raising flour
 - 2tbsp lemon curd

Making the sponge is fairly straight forward, and would definitely be easier with an electric whisk. Sadly, I don't have one of those, so it took a fair amount of time!

Firstly, cream the butter and sugar together.
Beat the eggs, and gradually mix them in with the butter and sugar.
Sift in the selfraising flour, and finally, stir in the lemon curd. Simple!

Pop the mixtures in two greased cake tins and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, and a cocktail stick comes out clean, remove the tins from the oven.
Keeping the cakes in the tins, pop them on a cooling rack.

For the glaze:
 - Juice of one lemon
 - 4tbsp granulated sugar

Mix the lemon juice and the sugar together.
Take a cocktail stick and make several smalll shallow holes in the cakes. While they are still warm, pour over the lemony, sugary glaze.
As the cake cools, this will seep through the cake, as well as settling on top.

For the filling:
 - 300g full fat cream cheese
 - 2tbsp lemon curd

Once the cakes are completely cool, remove them from the tins.
To create your filling, mix together the cream cheese and lemon curd, and spread it onto to the top pf one of the cakes with a pallet knife. Place the remaining cake on top.

The glaze would have left a nice shiny topping, but as it was a birthday cake, I felt the need to go all out on the decoration, so I saved half of the filling to go on top too, and finished it off with lemon sugar crunch, which I found in Morrissons, and some colourful birthday candles!

If you try it out, please do let me know how it works for you!
This is one of the simplest cakes I've made, which still has a definite wow factor. Enjoy and bon apetit!

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Day We Became Cool Kids

Hello Friends! 

Satch: We have a very exciting blog-noucement for you bestie bucket list fans; we got tattoos! This is probably the most permanent thing on our list (I'm not sure if anything is more permanent!) And it's a toss up between this and sky-diving as to which one is the most bad ass. Needless to say, Salt and I think we're pretty cool right now. 

Salt: We're so cool that we can carry on being as lame as before, only now, because of our foot ink, it will seem 'ironic'. 

Satch: However, if you'd have spoken to us an hour or so before the event (and some of you lucky sods did) we would have seemed like the biggest chickens on the planet. As depicted here by our pre-tattoo photo outside wilkinsons. (We were hanging around because we didn't want to be lame and show up too early...) 

I think the biggest mistake Salt made was not going for a nervous poo before going in, because she came down with the BIGGEST CASE of verbal diarrhoea (yes I spell checked that) that I have EVER SEEN. Literally, I have known this girl for something like nine years, and I have never heard her talk so much! At one point, she genuinely used the phrase "Go hard or go home" when trying to appear cool to a heavily tattooed, giant man. 

Salt: I have no real defence for this. Fear took over, and I crumbled into a giggling, babbling mess. Incredibly embarassing. Especially when the aforementioned giant tattoo man started chatting away to me and I made the 'go hard or go home' joke, swiftly followed by an observation about how sweaty my hands had become. Sexy. And Cool. Sool.

Satch: So we went in and finalised the designs with Tony (we totally have a tattoo guy now), and signed away our human rights, as you can see: 

Salt decided to go first as she thought, in her words, "I won't do it if I see you screaming in pain." Nice. 

Salt: I'm a really considerate friend! But let's not pretend that there's ever been any doubt over which of us is cooler. Satch wins that, hands down.


Satch: Well, if you insist! When Salt was in the chair, there were many faces like this one below, but seeing as we all thought she was going to cry we were quite disappointed with how cool she was tbh. However, there was a beautful moment when my cousin Naomi and her five-year-old daughter came in to see how we were getting on, and Salt hissed "Get Maisey out of here or she's going to hear me swear!" 

Salt: FIFTY minutes (I genuinely thought it was going to take fifteen minutes, tops), a lot of talking, even more sweating and a made-up song about how much shading hurts (Tony even joined in), it was complete. And here it is nice and close up!

I've fallen in love with it. I wanted something really meaningful, but also something that would still fit in with my sense of style, so this seemed perfect. Each flower (without going into too many soppy details) represents something different and something that's been significant in making me the person that I am today.

Satch: While I thought it'd be hilarious to get up and walk about at this point, Salt wasn't having any of it, and it was my turn for the chair. I think I thought I'd be cool if I smiled all the way through, but these pictures clearly show how scared I was!

Salt: Not that I'm in anyway bitter, but Satch is the bravest lady I know. It takes some courage to get up in that chair after seeing your best friend go temporarily insane from the pain.

Satch: In fairness, my tattoo only took half an hour, as it was less complicated than Salt's, so I spent less time in pain. Plus, apparently it hurts more nearer to the toes, which only a small part of my tattoo involves, but Salt's entire ink was all in that area! Bad move lol .

Tony thought it'd be hilarious to draw a swastika in the middle of my sun design, which I went along with. However, as his English wasn't great I was extremely concerned when the swastika was still there when he rubbed it on my foot! 

How do you say: "I'm not actually a Nazi" in Spanish?!
If Salt's tactic was to babble her way through it, mine was to get everyone else talking so they'd distract me from the pain! I have never been so interested in the programme Fear Factor in all my life! At one point, Tony even looked up and said "You're so calm, you're doing really well" - literally the coolest moment of my life (even if inside I was swearing like a sailor!) 

Here's my tattoo. It represents my favourite C. S. Lewis quote - which I'm only writing on here so no one makes me recite it to them ever because A) it's long and B) I feel like a douche: 

"I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." 

I figured getting a picture version was a good idea because I've only got little feet, so he would have had to do the writing really small. Plus, there's a bit of ivy going on because Salt and I thought it'd be cool (Ok, not cool, but cool to us) to get a bit of the tattoo the same. Ivy worked really well with both of our designs, and it means friendship. Winner! 

Salt: We're cool AND adorable. Winning combo.

Satch: We then had our feet wrapped up in cling film, and decided it was well time for a giant drink! Luckily, Cobb drove us to the pub because walking was a hilarious impossibility. If I held back making a fuss when the tattoo was being done, I didn't let "seeming cool" stop me from letting rip about how much it stung afterwards! 

Salt: Don't let the smiles fool you. There are things people don't warn you about getting tattoos, so I will. Yes, the tattoo itself hurts. Like nothing I've every experienced. Its painful. but manageable. And it carries on for just under an hour. But that's the worst of it right? Oh no.
Then, it bleeds. And then it stings. And then, while its healing, it gets really swollen and scabby. But the worst part of all? THE ITCHING.

You have been warned.

But even thought I am the biggest wuss-bag in the whole wide world, I don't regret it in the slightest. The pain was so worth it, and I'm starting to see how people get addicted to it!

Satch: I can also see how people get addicted; I already started fantasisng about a new one until Cobb's face looked so sad I couldn't! (He's not so fussed about tattoos...) I must admit, Salt's looked a lot more red/bleedy than mine did, but I have whinged just as much as she has! Still, I couldn't resist Facebooking a cheeky pic once the cling film was off and the nappy cream had taken some of the red out of it!

Salt: But did that really have to happen in a pub? Ironically lame?! 

Satch: Sure, I think that sums us up pretty well! Maybe "Ironically Lame" could be the title of our first album lol. 

Plus, I think the act of blogging about how cool we are for getting tattoos has taken away the coolness of getting tattoos - so nothing's really changed!  

So what do y'all think of our ink? (Love a rhyme!) Anyone ever get a tattoo in a more painful place, or considering getting one but haven't taken the plunge yet? Let us know in the comments below!