03 June, 2016

Fitness Update #9


Over the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to think of ways to get me into a routine, but still keep fitness fun.

I've tried fitness plans before but I'm not actually sure if they work for me- it makes it seem very regimented and I'm all for trying to make fitness as fun as possible! If you have any ideas, please let me know! 

I've been trying to find lots of different things to try, different YouTube workout videos, small ways of getting more exercise without really realising that I've done more exercise! 

I've been really good at keeping up with the fitness though, and even managing to do more! 

Week 1 
This week I walked to the train station every day and also walked home from the train station three times. My fitbit is making me get super competitive with myself and I'm constantly trying to do more steps!

I also attempted to walk up to my desk from the ground floor (I'm based on the 5th floor) and although I was completely out of breath by the time I got up there, I did it. I've tried doing it a few times since and it hasn't got much easier and I dread doing it, but it will get easier eventually! 

Week 2
I did the most fun workout this week, a Ballet Barre Youtube workout. I've always wanted to do ballet and a colleague of mine was saying how she went to a class that did Ballet Barre and it was really fun but hard work, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I suck at workout videos, because I get bored. I get 5 minutes in and I'm struggling and I feel silly and I turn it off and go and sit down.

With this one, I started to struggle and thought I was only 5 minutes in - I was already half way through! There were points that I felt silly but you also feel super graceful and I just really enjoyed it. I don't want to do it too often because I'll get bored of it, but I'm definitely going to do it once a week. 

I think it did a lot of good too, I was sore from using so many different muscles the next day! 

I haven't done as much walking this week because it's been raining, but I have still been managing to do 10,000 steps a day which is good.

Diet wise, I'm still trying to stay strong with the FODMAP diet but every now and then I give in and regret it. It's so hard to stay away from the things you love eating! I'm going to do another post on how I'm finding it once I've been doing it for two months. 

My goals for the next two weeks is to add in some gym sessions and stay strong with FODMAP! Considering where I was a few months ago, I'm really proud of how I'm steadily adding more and more fitness into my daily routine.

My problem, is that I am completely an all or nothing girl, I go head first into things and then lose motivation. I'm finding that doing it slowly and steadily is helping me to stay motivated and on track!

How are your fitness goals going? Let me know!

01 June, 2016

Reflecting back on May

Reflecting back on May

In last month's reflection, I talked about how I had had a bit of a blogging break and that I felt super refreshed and ready to dive back in.

Which I really thought was true.

But turns out, I wasn't so refreshed. The problem was, I hadn't really had a proper break from my blog, because I was still making sure that the posts I'd written for April while I was "away" had tweets scheduled, facebook posts scheduled, pins scheduled, comments were being replied to, emails checked...

And so when I "came back", it was a little bit like I hadn't been away. I just hadn't written a blog post in a month, but everything else was the same. All my energy was still pretty drained and I kinda dropped the ball and had a proper blogging break, which is why at the beginning of this month, I only had 1 post out. 

In my old job, I never had anything much to do so spent a lot of my day writing blog posts and doing all the other admin that comes with having a blog. In my new job, I just don't have time to do that so I have to spend my weekends or evenings doing it- but sometimes I just don't want to.

I put a LOT of pressure on myself about this blog and I forget sometimes that this is just a hobby. And like with my other hobbies, sewing, reading, baking, drawing - sometimes they have to take a back seat while you enjoy life. 

So I guess what I'm saying is, bear with me. At the beginning of this year, I set myself a blogging goal of writing 5 posts a week every week, but that hasn't happened and I don't know if that will always happen. But I'll still be here and this blog isn't going anywhere, I just may not be as active as I used to be. And that's okay- I'd rather put out less posts that are good quality rather than more posts that are bad quality! 

Anyway, after that ramble, if you're still here- here are my highlights from May:

  • My fitness is officially back on! - I've finally started to shed some pounds, so fingers crossed the only way is up from here! 
  • I've been trying the Low-FODMAP diet to help my IBS symptoms - you can see my post on my first month of doing it here. 
  • Dan and I went to Legoland! - Dan's birthday was last weekend and we had the best day in Legoland, there will be a post up about it soon! 
How was your May? Let me know in the comments- I literally can't believe we're halfway through the year already, it's crazy! I should start saving for Christmas!

29 May, 2016

Summer To Do List

Summer To Do List

Last Christmas, you may remember that I wrote a Christmas to do list. Because I always enjoy writing those, I thought it might be a good idea to write one for the summer too!

1. Go to the Beach
I haven't been to a beach in years which just seems crazy! I know Dan really wants to go to the beach and we have a week off together in July, so hopefully we'll have nice weather then and we can go! The last time I went to the beach, I ended up buried in sand as a mermaid.

2. Visit somewhere scenic
I probably will go to the New Forest in Hampshire, but I'd love to go anywhere scenic really just for a long walk. Last year I visited places like Hampton Court and the Tower of London, and I'd like to visit more places like that. Maybe Windsor Castle will be next on my list!

3. Go horse riding
I once went horse riding in the New Forest and I loved it. I've been horse riding a few times and it's so much fun that I'd love to do it again. I don't know if anyone I know is as keen though, so we'll have to see! :(

4. Take Lady on lots of long walks
We take Lady for a walk around the block most days (unless it's raining because she's a wimp even with her coat on), but it would be nice to take her to some local fields and take her for a longer walk. She always enjoys it there!

5. Go to Legoland
Dan and I love Legoland and I'm hoping we can get to go there this summer. We are big kids who need to have kids so that we have a genuine reason to go to these places hahaha! But for now, we just go and act like big kids for the day. Being serious adults is boring! [UPDATE: We literally visited here yesterday, so one is already ticked off!]

6. Go to Chessington
I went to Chessington with some friends a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun. I can't go on big rollercoasters which means that somewhere like Thorpe Park or Alton Towers is pointless for me to go to, but Chessington had enough rides that I COULD go on to make it worthwhile!

7. Bake some summer treats
I'm not sure what yet, but I feel like strawberries and other summer fruits will be a big theme! Let me know if you have anything you'd like to see me bake!

What are your plans for the summer? Let me know in the comments!

27 May, 2016

Disney themed things to do this Summer!

Disney themed things to do this Summer!


We all know that I'm suffering pretty darn badly from the Disney blues. It's extremely bad at the moment because this time two years ago, I was in the Magic Kingdom. This time last year, I was weeks away from returning.

Today? Weeeeeeell, I'm in England with no plans of returning. Stupid mortgage saving. (Which I know, I know, will be worth it!)

So to make myself feel better, I've been compiling a list of Disney themed things I can do this summer!

1. Go to see Aladdin the Musical!
I'm really hoping we will do this, but tickets are SO expensive that I just don't know if I can justify paying out for it. I'm in love with the soundtrack though so I will try! If you haven't heard, Aladdin has had an extremely successful run on Broadway and is now coming to the West End (I'm pretty sure opening night is tomorrow!) to the Prince Edward theatre. I've linked the website above, so go check it out! And if you're going to see it, let me know if it's worth paying out for!

2. Have a Disney themed BBQ!
This is something I'd love to do! Turn on those Disney songs, invite everyone to dress up or Disneybound and enjoy the lovely summer weather with your favourite sidekicks! Or if you don't want a BBQ, you could have a Disney themed dinner party instead!

3. Go to see the Mary Poppins Musical Tour!
If you missed Mary Poppins when it was in the West End (as I did!), they are touring the UK! I've linked above and I don't believe tickets are too expensive and they're going all around the UK so they may be visiting your town! If you want a review, Danielle wrote a great one on her blog!

4. Get up to date with all the Disney films and TV shows using DisneyLife!
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with DisneyLife. I kinda hate paying for it but I really love watching the Disney Channel. Then I hate that I'm a 23 year old who watches the Disney Channel. But I also really love the shows. Gahh! But if you're looking to fill your summer, you could always do the free 1 month trial and see if you also get hooked on the Disney Channel shows!

5. Have a Disney themed activity day! 
This can be fun for adults but especially if you have kids- make Disney crafts, play Disney games and watch loads of Disney movies!

I mean, none of these are going to be the same as visiting one of the Theme Parks- but they will help to keep the magic alive wherever you are!

Let me know if you can think of any other Disney themed activities in the comments!

Also I just want to say that I've recommended the above items because they genuinely seem like good things to do- no one has asked me to!

25 May, 2016

What I learnt from budgeting for a month

What I learnt from budgeting for a month

Last month, I had to really restrict the amount I spent. The cut off point for payroll on my new job was before I started which unfortunately meant I didn't get paid until the end of April. Luckily, I had just enough from my last job to pay off my bills, but it meant that I had to be super strict with what was left!

I thought I would share with you guys what I learnt from having to live on a strict budget last month:

1. I can live without Starbucks or Costa!
It's true guys, I can live without them! Instead of buying a coffee on my way into work, I just wait until I get into work and make myself a coffee then. Sure it's not as nice as a White Chocolate Mocha but it still wakes me up and I still enjoy it! I've even carried this into this month to help me save money, I just have the occasional one as a treat.

2. I can still bake a lot even without buying new stuff!
Although, I received a lot of vouchers from my old job as a leaving present for Amazon and used them to buy a LOT of new baking stuff. But I already have so much fondant, icing, food colourings etc., that I managed to make lots of stuff without even needing to buy anything!

3. Making yourself eat homemade lunches at work is hard.
Every day I would take lunch in and look at it and think "I don't want this..." and it was so hard not to go out to Pret or M&S and buy lunch. But it made me get more creative! I took in soups, sandwiches, wraps, all kinds of thing so that every day was a little bit different. Pinterest helped me a lot with this!

4. If you write down what you spend, you realise how much crap you buy! 
I bought my budget book from Paperchase ages ago and didn't really use it, but lately it's been my best friend! And the thing is, you buy silly little things for yourself without really thinking about it but when you do actually look at it- I was spending so much money on snacks and food that most of the time I wasn't really eating!

5. You won't budget properly until you have to
I've said so many times that I will save and budget- but I never do. Until I was forced to! I really think that until you really put your mind to it and actually WANT or NEED to budget, you won't do it. So if you're trying to save, try and think super hard about what you're saving for and how much you want it. If you truly want to save, it'll be much easier to give up those purchases like coffees!

What are your tips for saving? Do you find it hard to budget? Let me know in the comments!

24 May, 2016

Mario Kart Star Cookies

Mario Kart Star Cookies

If you have yellow food colouring, a star cookie cutter and ingredients to make cookie dough- what do you make?

Well, Mario Kart themed cookies OF COURSE!

Dan and I love to play Mario Kart. I'm actually a bit torn over whether or not I want to buy Wii U just so I can play the new version. I played it at my friend's house when we went to stay with her in Devon and it just seemed SO much better- but is it worth spending £250+ just for one game?

Anyway! So I decided to make star cookies and while I was icing them, I remembered the Nerdy Nummies Youtube Episode where she made Mario Kart themed treats and I suddenly thought- why not make my stars into the stars from Mario Kart?!

So, I piped some black eyes onto the stars and hey presto- a treat fit for any gaming fan! Well.. as long as they liked Mario I guess...

If you want to make these for a Mario fan in your life, I'm sharing the recipe!

Ingredients (makes 24-30 cookies)

For the Biscuits
  • 350g Plain Flour 
  • 100g Self Raising Flour 
  • 125g Granulated Sugar 
  • 125g Butter 
  • 125g Golden Syrup 
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract 
  • 1 large egg
For the Royal Icing
  • 300g Royal Icing Sugar
  • 2-3 tsps of water
  • Yellow Food Colouring
  • Black Food Colouring
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

2. Sift both flours into a mixing bowl and add the sugar.

3. Add the butter, mixing with your fingertips to create breadcrumbs.

4. Lightly beat an egg and then add it to the mixture with the golden syrup and vanilla extract.

5. Mix well until the mixture has formed a ball.

6. Roll out your mixture to your desired thickness, about 1cm.

7. Using a star shaped cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. Keep rolling up left over dough into a ball and roll out again using a rolling pin to make sure you get as many cookies out of the mix as possible!

8. Put your cookies onto a pre-lined baking tray and bake in the oven for around 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. I always find that when I get these cookies out of the oven, they're always very soft like cake but harden to be a soft biscuit once they are out.

9. Allow your cookies to cool before icing.

10. To make your royal icing, mix the water with the royal icing sugar. This is a bit of trial and error as at first, you need your icing to be at a toothpaste like consistency, so add a tsp of water at a time until you get to this consistency. Then divide into 3/4 and 1/4- the 1/4 of the mixture we will use to pipe the black "eyes"!

11. Add yellow food colouring to the bigger amount of royal icing mixture until it becomes a bright yellow.

12. Using an icing bottle, pipe your yellow icing around the edges of the biscuit and around the hole in the centre. Because your icing is thick, it will create a "wall" to stop the rest of the icing leaking.

13. Once you have lined your biscuits, add 1-2 more tsps of water to your yellow royal icing mixture to make it more runny.

14. Fill in your biscuits in between your outlines, which is called "flooding".

15. Add black food colouring to your remaining uncoloured mixture which you set aside earlier.

16. Using your icing bottle, pipe the eyes of the Stars by piping two lines on each cookie.

17. Leave out or put into the fridge to set.

Mario Kart Star Cookies

And that's it! You will have delicious and adorable cookies to share. These would be perfect for your next gaming session with friends, especially if you're playing Mario themed games!

If you make these, I'd love to see them as always! So please tweet me @CakeyDreamer or use my Instagram hashtag #cakeydreamerbakes!

22 May, 2016

Trying the Low FODMAP Diet

Trying the Low FODMAP diet

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with IBS (or irritable bowel syndrome). It basically means that my bowel is sensitive to certain foods and can't process them as well which leaves me feeling really bloated, sick or with a bit of a dodgy stomach.

So why did I start trying the Low FODMAP diet?

Obviously, the symptoms are pretty embarrassing. I've genuinely had people thinking I was about 3 months pregnant when I've had a bad day with bloating- I know I'm no skinny minnie but it's ridiculous! The bloating is also extremely painful and when I used to drive home from work, I was occasionally unable to do so because I was in so much pain every time I tried to move.

The sickness was what got to me the most, though. I would often feel sick after every meal and it was awful when I would go out for dinner with friends and end up having to go home because I felt like I was going to be sick halfway through. Then an hour later, I'd feel fine and annoyingly, extremely hungry.

So I went to the doctors to ask about IBS (my mum and sister both suffer from it so it was quite likely that would be the answer), only to be told that IBS is (and I quote) "kind of a thing, but not really a thing... it's just something you have to live with, there's no tablets or anything I can give you. Oh by the way, do you still work at [name of hotel he often visits]?" and proceeded to ask if I knew anyone who still worked there who could give him discount instead of actually helping me with what I needed! 

Needless to say, it wasn't the best experience but I didn't give up and went to see a different doctor at my GP surgery who DID think IBS was a thing but made me do a blood test to see if I had coeliac's disease first (the symptoms of IBS and coeliac's disease are very similar). When it came back negative, she gave me tablets to help with the bloating and other IBS symptoms and suggested trying the FODMAP diet.

So, what IS the Low FODMAP diet?

If you want to know more about the FODMAP diet, here is a link- although PLEASE only try it if you have been advised by your doctor. It's not a weightloss diet! 

High FODMAP food items are items which will irritate your bowel and you should avoid eating as much as you can. They do say that you don't necessarily need to cut it out completely, but it all depends on how much it irritates you. Onions and garlic are very big triggers and should be avoided as much as you possibly can (more on that later!).

Low FODMAP food items are items which are good for your digestion and are unlikely to irritate you. Some items have quantities which means that you should only have that amount and no more. 

So how have I been finding it?

It was hard at first. I'm not allowed dairy, so I have to buy lactose free milk and ask for soya milk when I go to Costa or Starbucks. But a couple of times at first, I forgot and put normal milk in my coffee or forgot to ask for soya. I've also had a couple of times where someone has bought me a coffee and didn't know that I needed soya and not wanting to be rude, I drank it anyway. 

But I have found that cutting out dairy has actually done a LOT of good. I feel a lot better- yet I only have dairy in my coffee, so that goes to show that you only need a tiny amount to irritate you. 

I also have to cut out gluten which wasn't AS hard because we already eat a lot of gluten free foods for Dan. But I am struggling to give up biscuits- gluten free biscuits just aren't as good.

Onions and garlic are actually harder than you would think to cut out- we've had to prepare our own sauces for dinners and I have to read the backs of every labels because it's EVERYWHERE. I've always known I'm intolerant to onions and garlic since I was a baby so this isn't new to me, but small amounts have never affected me badly enough to cut it out completely (or so I thought!).

Another thing I struggle with is the amount of things on the high FODMAP list that you wouldn't even expect to upset your tummy. Apples?! Coconut water?! 

But the longer I've been doing it, the easier I have been finding it. Once I got into a routine and learnt what I could and couldn't have, it became much easier to do the food shopping and I made less everyday mistakes. 

I really think though, that it's helped a lot. I still feel sick occasionally after eating, but not as much as I was previously. I also still get bloated but I've only had one painful bout of bloating since I started. Fingers crossed, the longer I stick to the FODMAP diet the better I will feel! 

If any of you suffer with IBS and have tried this diet, I'd love to know what you think! Again, I'm giving you a reminder that I'm not doing this diet to lose weight but for health reasons! :) 

20 May, 2016

Fitness Update #8

Fitness Update #8


This is a bit of a longer update because I had a bit of an impromptu blogging break- sorry about that but it was kinda needed!

I've been doing really well with fitness and I'm so proud of myself. I really feel like I'm back in the game and I'm feeling SO positive!

I've started doing regular weight workouts again like I used to last year, each night I focus on a different area- my upper body or my lower body or my core. I do this not only so that I work my entire body but also because it stops me getting so bored if I do the same thing all the time! I only do about half an hour every day, but that's better than nothing.

I'm going to try and keep it up with the weights- I'm only doing small 2kg weights at the moment but I was doing 5kg before, so I'll be building up over the next couple of weeks, but I don't want to do too much and end up hurting myself! 

I'm still walking to the train station but with the rainy weather we've had, it's been a bit of a struggle. Dan bought himself a fitbit and has convinced me to get one so I can really tell how many steps I'm doing (I currently use the Health app on my iPhone but I don't always carry my phone with me all day when I'm at work so it's not a true representation of my steps!). It's really helping to get me moving because it's bringing out my competitive side! 

On Sunday you can read about how I'm doing with the FODMAP diet and how I've found it. I've been doing it for about a month now so I thought it was a good time to share how it's been helping me!

I'm trying to do more cardio, I've only been to one running club so far but it really wasn't as bad as I thought for my first run, so fingers crossed the weather will stay nice and I can go for more runs! 

I really wish I could tell you guys that I'm seeing some kind of difference either in myself or on the scales but unfortunately, the bloating is still really bad at the moment so the scales aren't showing any difference and neither is my body :( but regular exercise will eventually start to get rid of the bloating along with the FODMAP diet so hopefully soon I'll start to see some difference which will help to keep me motivated! Until then I'm focusing on other differences like how great I feel and my fitness improving!

How are your fitness journeys going? Let me know in the comments! 

19 May, 2016

How to make a Princess Crown from fondant | Cake Decorating for Beginners

How to make a Princess Crown from fondant

Back in February, I made a Princess cake for Dawn, another lovely blogger who is local to me. Part of the design I drew up for her featured a fondant crown, which I googled how to make before agreeing to and thought it looked simple enough.

I was kind of right. Making a fondant crown isn't difficult, as long as you know how and you use the right materials.

I didn't know how and didn't know what the right materials were and had a few failed attempts which sent me into a panic. But thanks to a lot of research and the Bakers Hour Facebook Group, I managed to figure out what I was doing and the day was saved!

Since then, I've practised a few times to make sure that if I ever need to make a crown in future, I know what to do. And now that I know, I thought it was about time to write a tutorial to help those of you who might want to try this out for yourself!

You will need:

  • White ready-to-roll fondant (I use this one)
  • White flower & modelling paste (I use this one)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Knife or fondant cutter
  • Round object
  • Baking Paper
  • Edible Paint
Method

1. Take a large amount of your white ready to roll fondant icing and the same amount of your white flower & modelling paste and knead together until they become one ball of icing. 

NOTE: The reason for using both is because ready to roll icing is too soft to make a sturdy object like a crown, but modelling paste on it's own makes the crown super fragile and easy to break- so we mix them together to take the good qualities of both! 

2. Using your rolling pin, roll out to your desired thickness. NOTE: If you roll the fondant too thin, your crown will break easily. If you roll the fondant too thick, it will take ages to set hard.

3. Once you have rolled your fondant, cut out your crown shape with a knife or a fondant cutter. I've always loved the look of Princess Aurora's tiara from Sleeping Beauty and so usually go with that design, but this is up to you! 

How to make a Princess Crown from fondant

4. Find a round object big enough to wrap your crown around- this is what will give it it's shape. I usually use a jar because my crowns are quite small, but obviously it all depends on what size you are going for! Wrap baking paper around the object and sellotape to keep it in place. The baking paper will stop the fondant from sticking to the object and the crown breaking as you pull it away.

5. Wrap the crown around the round object with the baking paper. 

6. Leave to harden. Unfortunately I can't give you a time for this because it depends on how big your crown is and how thick your fondant is, but I usually leave mine overnight.

How to make a Princess Crown from fondant

7. Once it has hardened, remove the round object- if the crown is ready, it will be stiff and sturdy! 

8. Leave for a little while longer as the inside of the crown that was touching the baking paper may not have dried yet- you shouldn't need to leave it for more than 2 hours.

How to make a Princess Crown from fondant

9. Then, it's time to paint your crown! I usually use Dr Oetker's shimmer spray, although it doesn't always work well so I would recommend buying some edible paint and painting the crown.

How to make a Princess crown from fondant!

10. Leave to dry and then add to the top of your cake with edible glue! 

My tips:
  • Give yourself plenty of time if making for a cake for an event- I started my crown for Dawn's cake a week before the cake was due, which was good considering how many failed attempts I had! 
  • Always be gentle with your crown- it will be fragile! 
  • Never just pop the crown on top of a cake, make sure it is glued down with edible glue.
I really hope you found this helpful and I hope some of you try this out for yourselves! I was right when I thought it was easy, BUT it's only easy if you have a good understanding of what you need. Hopefully this post has given you that so it will be easy for you to make! 

If you do try this out for yourself, I'd LOVE to see it, so tweet me @CakeyDreamer or use my Instagram hashtag #cakeydreamerbakes! 


17 May, 2016

Scones Out for Summer

Get it? Like school's out... Yeah okay, I won't try wordplay anymore.

How to make Scones


When I used to work in hotels, Spring and Summer were always the busiest times for Afternoon Tea. Everyone wanted to spend an afternoon lazing around in pretty gardens drinking tea and eating scones and pretty cakes, because that's what sophisticated adults do.

And I've never been to Afternoon tea in my life yet *sobs*. Maybe this year I finally will!

But thinking about this gave me an idea for a blog post. And not just one blog post, but a few.

Because if you, like me, haven't been for Afternoon Tea before then it's okay! Because we're going to make our own. 

Starting with Scones, which are really the stars of Afternoon Tea. I've made them a few times for my mum as she loves scones and they're quick and easy to make!

So let's start building our Afternoon Tea!

You will need:

  • 225g self raising flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 55g butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 free range egg (beaten, to glaze)
Method

1. Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees. 

2. Mix together the flour and the salt, then add the butter.

3. Mix the butter with your fingertips to create breadcrumbs.

4. Stir in the sugar.

5. Add the milk to create a soft dough mixture,

6. Spread flour onto your work surface and turn the dough out onto it.

7. Knead lightly and then roll out. Do not roll out too thin as the mixture won't rise that much, keep around 2cm thick. (I rolled mine out too thin which is why mine look too small, so learn from my mistakes!)

8. Use a circle cutter to cut out as many scones as you can, then roll the dough back up and roll out again to cut out more scones. Keep repeating until all your dough is used up. 

9. Put your scones onto a baking sheet and lightly brush with the beaten egg on the tops to glaze.

10. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until they have risen and turned golden on the tops.

And that's it! Once they are out of the oven you can leave them to cool and then serve. If you're going for a traditional afternoon tea then you'll want to serve with cream and jam. The cream goes on first by the way, just sayin'. 



If you want, you can have variations on this recipe by adding in raisins for Fruit Scones or chopped up cherries for Cherry Scones. You can even serve a mixture for your Afternoon Tea! 

Later this month, I'll show you some pretty cakes you can make to go with your Afternoon Tea, but actually I think any of these would also do lovely:
Have you ever tried making Scones? Or have you ever been to an Afternoon tea? I'd love to hear in the comments! 

03 May, 2016

Party Ring Biscuits

Party Ring Biscuits


Back in December, I wrote a guest post on my friend Jess' blog with my recipe for Party Rings. I realised recently that I haven't shared it over here, which gave me an excuse to try them again!

I love Party Rings, I always have done. When I was growing up I only ever had them at parties or on special occasions so they're always like this fun treat whenever I eat them. But now I can make them myself!!

The great thing about these homemade party rings is that the biscuit is really tasty before you add the royal icing. I remember when I first made them I was surprised at how similar they taste to the real thing, but actually they taste a bit nicer without all the additives that they usually get packed with.

They're also really simple to make and I'd definitely recommend them for a rainy afternoon!

So let's get making!

Ingredients (makes 24-30 cookies)

For the Biscuits
  • 350g Plain Flour 
  • 100g Self Raising Flour 
  • 125g Granulated Sugar 
  • 125g Butter 
  • 125g Golden Syrup 
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract 
  • 1 large egg
For the Royal Icing (per batch, two batches needed)
  • 300g Royal Icing Sugar
  • 2-3 tsps of water
  • Food colouring (in your chosen colours)
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

2. Sift both flours into a mixing bowl and add the sugar.

3. Add the butter, mixing with your fingertips to create breadcrumbs.

4. Lightly beat an egg and then add it to the mixture with the golden syrup and vanilla extract.

5. Mix well until the mixture has formed a ball.

6. Roll out your mixture to your desired thickness, about 1cm.

7. Using a circle cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. Then, using a smaller cookie cutter, cut out the small holes in the middle.

8. Put your cookies onto a pre-lined baking tray and bake in the oven for around 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. I always find that when I get these cookies out of the oven, they're always very soft like cake but harden to be a biscuit once they are out.

9. Allow your cookies to cool before icing.

10. To make your royal icing, mix the water with the royal icing sugar. This is a bit of trial and error as at first, you need your icing to be at a toothpaste like consistency, so add a tsp of water at a time until you get to this consistency. Then add food colouring in your desired choice.

11. Using an icing bottle, pipe your icing around the edges of the biscuit and around the hole in the centre. Because your icing is thick, it will create a "wall" to stop the rest of the icing leaking.

12. Once you have lined your biscuits, add 1-2 more tsps of water to your royal icing mixture to make it more runny.

13. Fill in your biscuits in between your outlines, which is called "flooding".

14. Make another batch of royal icing to toothpaste consistency and add another food colouring.

15. Using your icing bottle, pipe lines across the biscuits.

16. Before the icing dries, take a cake tester or knife and gently push the icing upwards from the bottom of the biscuit in a few places to create the well-known pattern.

17. Leave out or put into the fridge to set.

Party Ring Biscuits


And there you have it! Although it looks long and complicated, these biscuits really are simple and are so much fun to make. You can make them in all different colours!

Are you a fan of party rings? Let me know in the comments! And of course if you try these out, I'd love to see them so tweet me @CakeyDreamer or use my hashtag on Instagram #cakeydreamerbakes!

01 May, 2016

Reflecting back on April

Reflecting back on April
April has been a bit of a weird month for me because I took a month off from blogging. Not completely, I had blog posts scheduled and I still wrote a couple like my fitness updates etc., but I didn't worry too much about it because I knew everything was done and I could just concentrate on my new job and my personal life.

It was really, really nice. I love my blog and I love having blogging and baking as my hobby but as I said in my recent life update I put a LOT of pressure on myself to make sure that I put out good content that you guys enjoy and sometimes it gets a bit too much, so it was nice to take a break.

But now I feel like I'm ready to dive back in, although I have learnt from this break that it's good to have time for me too, so I think I'll continue only doing things with my blog at the weekends rather than every evening after work AND at the weekend. It's good to take time to relax!

I've been at my new job for a month now and I've settled in really well. Everyone's really friendly and it's nice to enjoy going to work again rather than dreading it every Sunday night like I was before!

So here are the highlights from April:


  • Dan and I visited the Lego Store in London- because Dan wanted a Lego set. True story, he paid for us to go to London just so he could go to the Lego Store. 
  • I went to a wedding- A family friend of ours got married and we attended the evening part of the wedding which was really nice!
  • I lived frugally- is that the right word? I didn't get paid from my new job until a few days ago and so I had to cut right back on everything, which was actually in a weird way quite nice. It taught me that I CAN live without Starbucks & Costa every day and I CAN be bothered to bring lunches to work. Maybe I can continue to live like that so we can save quicker for a house! 
  • Dan and I have been living together for TWO years! - Although at my mum's house, we've now been living together for two whole years. We really should have saved up to move out by now haha but visiting Walt Disney World twice was just a bit too hard to resist. But now we're properly saving!
So that's my April! May should be a good month, it's Dan's birthday at the end of the month so we will be doing something fun I'm sure! I've also got some posts coming up that I'm really excited about, I think you'll love them!

How has your April been? Let me know what you've been up to below!

28 April, 2016

Baking Equipment 101 | Cake Pops

Over the past few weeks, I've been writing tutorials on what equipment is useful to have for basic baking, using fondant icing and piping icing.

This week I thought I would share what equipment I find useful for making Cake Pops!

Again, please note that I am NOT an expert but these are just some tips I hope you'll find helpful! 

Basic Cake Pop Equipment

Cake Pops Mould
Some people like to make their cake pops by baking a cake and then crumbling it up and making balls out of cake crumbs. Personally, I find this method harder so I prefer to use cake pop moulds! It's also easier to make different shapes as you can buy all sorts of moulds! I use the Sweetly Does It moulds, here and here.

Basic Cake Pop Equipment

Cake Pop Sticks
Because you'll need something to hold your cake pops! I love these ones which are super cute but you can buy really cheap ones from places like Wilko that will do just as good a job!


Cake Pop Holder
I got one of these for Christmas and I must admit it makes life so much easier! When you've finished decorating your cake pop, you can put it into the holder to dry and it stops them getting smudged or whatever. My one is here although you can make your own out of polystyrene if you want a cheap solution!

Basic Cake Pop Equipment

Melting Pot
These make melting chocolate or candy melts a doddle. The Wilton Cake Pop holder above comes with a melting pot, but I also bought another from Lakeland for just over £3.

Basic Cake Pop Equipment

Cute Cake Pop Holder
This is one of those things that really aren't necessary but are good for display purposes, you can get cute cake pop holders to pop them in to take photos of or for parties. Mine is from Wilko and was super cheap!

If you make cake pops, what equipment do you find useful? Let us know in the comments!

And also, please let me know if you're finding these posts helpful- I really hope you are!

26 April, 2016

Delicious Donuts!

Delicious Donuts

I've always had a thing about doughnuts. My friends used to tease me about how many doughnuts I used to eat and they were totally right, I used to have them every day! Now I have them every now and then as a little treat.

So when my mum bought me a 2 in 1 cake maker which makes Cake Pops & doughnuts, I was worried the doughnut monster in me would come out! In the end, it sat up in my baking cabinet along with my cake airbrush kit until I was brave enough to try it out.

Then at the beginning of this month, I finally tried to make my own doughnuts. And I was okay! They were delicious but I didn't go crazy, I just had a couple- I know, I'm proud of me too. ;)

So I thought I would share with you the recipe I used to make my delicious doughnuts. Be warned though, you may become a doughnut fiend like I used to be! 

You will need:

  • Some kind of doughnut maker, whether that's the one I've linked above or another
  • 225g plain flour
  • 112g sugar
  • 225ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil.
Method

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and baking powder) in a mixing bowl.

2. Create a well in the centre and add in the milk, egg, vanilla essence and cooking oil.

3. Using a cake mixer, mix all of the ingredients to form a batter.

4. Once you have a smooth batter, preheat your doughnut maker for the specified time on the instructions.

5. Fill in the doughnut "wells" with your batter, making sure not to overfill! 

6. Bake for roughly 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

And that's it, you'll have yummy scrummy doughnuts!

Delicious donuts!


After that, it's up to you- you can cover with sugar (note that covering with sugar needs to be done while the doughnuts are hot, otherwise it won't stick!), or you can make some icing and coat half of the doughnuts in that- or chocolate. Oooh, like dipping donuts!

Delicious Donuts!

Delicious Donuts!

Have you ever tried to make doughnuts before? Let me know if you make these by tweeting me @cakeydreamer or by using my Instagram hashtag #cakeydreamerbakes! :)


24 April, 2016

Fitness Update #7

Fitness Update

I'm finally getting somewhere! I feel a lot better about myself and I know I'm working towards a good goal of being fitter and healthier, the weight will come with that.

At the moment, I'm struggling with my tummy issues. I feel sick everytime I eat and it was starting to get me down. So I've looked into the FODMAP diet which is recommended for IBS sufferers as it cuts out anything that could potentially irritate your stomach. This is the link if you are interested, although please speak to your doctor before starting any sort of diet like this! It cuts out a lot of foods that I'd never even thought could irritate me, like apples or cabbage- even sausages!

I'm hoping it will help although I've only just started it, so I'll let you know in my next update. Wish me luck!

As for fitness, I'm still doing pretty well. I walk to the station most days (unless it's raining) and I've even managed to make myself walk home some days too! A few people from my work have started a running club which I'm going to join, so I'll be back to running at least once a week. I'm hoping that will build my stamina (and my confidence) back up and I can do a bit more than that too!

Fitness Goals from last update:
  • Up my daily steps to 15,000- I didn't quite manage this, mainly because it's been raining quite a lot lately so I haven't been able to walk to or from work, but I am still aiming for this!
  • Try and do at least 2 weight workouts a week- Er, I think I did one in two weeks. So, this failed. Onwards and upwards though!
  • Make a new plan for the diet overhaul- THIS ONE I DID! Haha, I'm ready for the new diet and have printed a little list into my diary so if I'm on the go I can quickly look at what I can and can't have. 

This week's fitness goals:
  • Continue aiming for 15,000 steps a day- I WILL do it!
  • Try and do at least 2 weight workouts a week- This SHOULD be do-able. To be honest, the only reason I haven't done this yet is purely from laziness- and that needs to stop! 
  • Go running at least once- I don't think running club is on this week but it is the week after so I want to make sure I go running then! 
Let me know how your fitness journeys are going!

21 April, 2016

Baking Equipment 101 | Piping Tools

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been talking about what basic baking tools you need and what basic fondant tools you need. I really hope you've been finding them helpful and I'm back today with a list of tools you need when getting into piping icing!

You may remember my tutorials on using buttercream icing and royal icing, well this is going to go through what tools will help you get the most out of your icing.

Basic Piping Equipment

Nozzles
When I first started baking, I thought there would only be a few nozzles but oh my god was I wrong. There are SO many types of nozzles and they all do different things (my review of Sugar & Crumbs' Nifty Nozzles is here if you want to see a completely different kind of nozzle!). My advice is to buy a nozzle set like this one that I use, which gives you the essential nozzles.

Piping Bags
With those nozzles, you're going to need piping bags! There are two different types of piping bags- the reusable kind and the non-reusable kind. When I first started, I was like "well, clearly reusable ones are the way forward because it saves money!" but now I really prefer to not use them. Yes, they are cheaper but they're also SUPER hard to clean and that creates a bit of a hygiene problem. And for me who is so afraid of germs, I can't be dealing with that! But it's up to you, use whatever you find easiest.

Basic Piping Equipment

Piping Bag Holder
Without one of these, spooning icing into a piping bag is a bloody nightmare. These are a godsend because they keep your piping bag propped up and open which means putting icing into the bag is quick and easy. The one I use is here but sadly has been discontinued!

Basic Piping Equipment

Icing Bottles
I use these for icing biscuits with royal icing. Because they're so small, they're super handy and allows you to keep a steady hand when you're icing biscuits, so I think they're perfect. They only have small nozzles so you probably wouldn't want to use them to ice cakes, unless you're icing decorations like pearls etc. I use these ones!

Those are my favourite and most useful tools to use for piping icing, but please feel free to add any of your favourites into the comments below! Let me know if you're finding these posts useful, I really hope you are!

20 April, 2016

Spring & Summer Cocktails with Aldi

Last Christmas, I had a go at making some yummy festive cocktails with Aldi which I really enjoyed, so when they got back in touch to see if I fancied making some Spring/Summer cocktails, I couldn't wait to get started!

Dan is great at making cocktails after working in hotel bars for years, so I always get him to help me out whenever I need to make them. It's actually really nice because we get to spend time together- and then we get to enjoy some yummy cocktails!

Spring & Summer Cocktails

I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin and a bottle of Belletti Dell'Italia Prosecco to try out two of their delicious cocktail recipes and I'm going to share the recipes with you too!




BLACKBERRY SMASH

You will need:
  • 50ml Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin*
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 10-12 blackberries
  • 25ml fresh lemon juice
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Sparkling water to top
Method
1. Fill a tall glass and cocktail shaker with ice.

2. Dissolve the white sugar in the hot water and add 10-12 blackberries to make blackberry syrup.

3. Allow syrup to cool down to room temperature and strain, then leave to chill in the fridge.

4. Once chilled, pour 25ml of the blackberry syrup into the cocktail shaker along with the gin, lemon juice and mint leaves.

5. Shake hard and then pour through a tea strainer into the tall glass.

6. Top with sparkling water.

7. For decoration, add a lemon wedge, blackberry and mint sprig! 

This cocktail is really refreshing, it would be lovely on a hot summer's day!

Summer cocktails with ALDI

PROSECCO THYME

You will need:
  • Belletti Prosecco*
  • 2 large plums
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 4 sprigs of Thyme
  • 25ml fresh lemon juice
Method
1. Cut the plums into quarters and discard the stones, then muddle them in a cocktail shaker.

2. Dissolve the white sugar in hot water and add the thyme sprigs to make the thyme syrup.

3. Allow the mix to cool and strain, then leave to chill in the fridge.

4. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 25ml of the thyme syrup.

5. Add the lemon juice and shake hard.

6. Fill a glass with ice and pour the mixture in.

7. Top with Prosecco!

Summer Cocktails with ALDI

This cocktail is so summery, I can really imagine it being perfect for a barbecue or summer garden party. It's really fruity and the prosecco adds a touch of class. You could use it to celebrate the Queen's birthday, perhaps!

Let me know if you try these cocktails out, I'd love to see them! You can tweet me @cakeydreamer or find me over on Facebook!

*ALDI sent me their gin and prosecco to use in these cocktails, however all opinions are my own.

19 April, 2016

Chocolate Cake Pops

Chocolate Cake Pops

When I looked through my page of all my cakes and bakes that I've featured on my blog, I realised that although I've made a LOT of cakes and cupcakes, I haven't made many cake pops.

This is probably because cake pops and I don't get on very well, so I tend to avoid them. But I'm determined to get to grips with them and so I decided to try some chocolate cake pops!

You will need

  • Cake Pops made with your favourite chocolate cake recipe
  • Cake Pop Sticks
  • Dairy Milk chocolate or your favourite type of chocolate! 
  • Multi-coloured sprinkles

METHOD

1. Bake your favourite chocolate cake recipe in a cake pop mould and leave to cool completely before decorating.

2. Once cooled, melt a small amount of chocolate and dip one end of your cake pop stick into the chocolate and then push inside each cake pop.

3. Put the cake pops into the fridge for 20 minutes to allow the chocolate inside to set.

4. Once the cake pops are ready, take out of the fridge and allow to return to room temperature.

5. Melt the rest of the chocolate ready for dipping. TIP: if you can, melt your chocolate into a tall container- if you can dip the entire cake pop in chocolate without swirling, there's less chance it can go wrong!

6. Allow the excess chocolate to drip off or swirl and tap if needed. 

7. Before the chocolate dries, pour your sprinkles over the cake pops however you like! 

8. Leave to dry and then enjoy! 

Chocolate Cake Pops

Cake Pops are a bit temperamental but if you're patient and allow yourself to make mistakes, you'll find they are actually really fun and super cute to make! I'm going to try to make a few different cake pops to see if I can finally get to grips with them!

If you make these, I'd love to see them so please feel free to tweet me @cakeydreamer or use my Instagram hashtag #cakeydreamerbakes! Let me know what you think of these cake pops in the comments!

Chocolate Cake Pops


17 April, 2016

Life Update

Life Update


After my last life update post did so well, and because so many of you have been asking how I'm getting on at my new job, I thought I'd give you another update into my life at the moment!

Life & Work
So my new job is going really well, I'm much busier than I used to be at my last job and I'm really enjoying it. Everyone's super nice and although at first it was a bit overwhelming, I really feel like I'm settling in. Yay!

Life itself has been pretty quiet- I don't get paid from my new job until the end of this month so I'm struggling a little bit to keep my spending to a minimum, which has meant a lot of staying in. I'm not too fussed about that though because it's nice to relax- but it did mean I missed out on seeing two of my best friends this weekend which is pretty gutting. But hopefully we'll go on a spa break soon which will be lovely AND relaxing!

Blogging & Baking
I've had a bit of a funny month or so with my blog. I still love my blog and I really feel like I'm putting out good content lately (I hope you guys agree), but I'm also struggling a little bit. I put a LOT of pressure on myself to make great cakes to share with you and I put pressure on myself to make sure that I'm doing everything for my blog- and I think I kinda burnt myself out.

So in March, I worked super hard to give myself a month off from blogging in April, apart from these few posts that I could only write nearer the time (because there's no point giving you a life update from a month ago is there?! ), and I really feel like that month off has helped. I've been enjoying being away from it all and just having some time off after work and at the weekends, rather than worrying about what blog posts I need to write or what cakes I need to bake etc.

The funny thing is, because I felt like I HAD to bake for my blog, I found that I could just never be bothered to bake. I had no inspiration or motivation and I just couldn't bring myself to start baking. Once I took away the need to bake because all my blog posts were done, suddenly I was super inspired and I wanted to do loads of baking- isn't that silly?! I'm still struggling a little bit to want to start writing blog posts again, but technically I'm still on my break so I guess that doesn't matter!

I guess the moral of this story is to stop pressuring yourself and if you stop enjoying doing something then it might be a good idea to take a break from it!

Health & Feeling Poorly
I've had a really awful month with my stomach problems. I get bloated a LOT and a lot of funny tummies and lately I've been feeling sick every time I eat. I was tested for coeliacs disease which turned out to be negative, so my doctor is pretty sure it's IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I'm looking into the FODMAP diet at the moment which is recommended for IBS sufferers to help you find which foods irritate your bowel, so fingers crossed that will help. I might write blog posts about how the diet goes!

So that's been my month so far! How is your month going?

15 April, 2016

My Favourite Walt Disney World Instagram Accounts

Last month I wrote a list of my favourite Instagram accounts, which was really popular and I love writing posts like that, the ones that share the love to my favourite people.

Today I thought I'd share the love to some of my favourite Instagram accounts that share photos from Walt Disney World.

I LOVE these types of accounts because although I sometimes feel super sad when I look at them because I miss WDW SO much, it's also really nice to see it again and reminisce.

It's also lovely to be able to see other people creating their own memories there!

So in no particular order at all, here are some of my favourite Instagram accounts (note: not all of them post solely about WDW but they post WDW-related pictures often!)




Tigger Tim is one of the people I've been following for the longest- he's a WDW cast member and regularly posts his adventures in Walt Disney World. He's super popular too and people love going to meet him! He seems like a really nice guy too, but his photos are always SO cute!


A photo posted by Haley Morrison☀️๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿฆ„✨ (@haleylove) on


Haley is another Walt Disney World cast member who posts the most adorable photos of her and her friends hanging out at Walt Disney World. She regularly meets characters and seems like she has a lot of fun there!

A photo posted by Claudia °o° Arce (@thehappiestplacesonearth) on


Claudia hangs out at Walt Disney World a lot and her photography is SO good in a lot of her photos. I chose this photo not just because Belle is my fave but because I love the way she's captured them perfectly in the frame!


Tresha's Walt Disney World photos are just incredible and I love her account so much. It's funny, I used to prefer accounts that posted mainly of the characters but now I love accounts like this, where the focus is mainly on the landscapes. WDW is a gorgeous place and I love being able to look at it, even if it is through someone else's camera!


A photo posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on


And of course I couldn't forget THE Walt Disney World Instagram account. They repost a lot so if you want to get featured, tag them in your WDW photos!!

So, these are a few of my favourite's, but there are SO many out there. I often like to look through these on the days I'm suffering super badly with the Disney blues. I really, really miss Walt Disney World more than I ever thought was possible to miss a place.
But, still. One day we'll go back!

Do you have any favourite WDW Instagram accounts? Why not share them in the comments below?!

14 April, 2016

Baking Equipment 101 | Fondant Tools

Last week I wrote a post on the basic equipment you need for baking. Hopefully you found that helpful, so this week I thought I would move into the basic tools you need for using fondant icing!

Basic Fondant Equipment

Rolling Pin
You'll need one of these to roll out your fondant in the first place. I have a big one currently as it's easier to roll out fondant for covering cakes but I do need to invest in a small one for when I'm rolling out smaller bits of fondant for cupcake toppers etc. You can find my one here.

Basic Fondant Equipment

Marzipan Spacers
I only learnt about these recently but I'm including them in this post because I really wish I'd learnt about them earlier! These spacers basically help you to get the correct thickness of fondant. Put them either side of your ball of fondant and then roll out to the desired size. Once your rolling pin is rolling onto the spacers, that means your fondant is at the desired thickness for cake covering! I found mine here.

Basic Fondant Equipment
Basic Fondant Equipment

Smoother
Once you've put your fondant onto a cake, you'll need a smoother to smooth it out. Didn't see that one coming did you? But this is actually a vital tool as it helps you to get rid of any bumps or smudges in your fondant. You can also use two, one to smooth the top while the other smooths the sides. There are two types of smoothers, both of which are good but I find the best type is the straight edged smoother. You can find mine here.

Basic Fondant Equipment

Fondant Tools
If you're looking to make cupcake toppers or figurines, these tools will help you to do so! Each tool does a different effect. I won't go through that now, but most tool kits will tell you what each tool does. You can find my set here.

Basic Fondant Equipment

Cutters
Cutters are good for cupcake toppers or cake toppers. You can find all sorts of cutters, I used leaf ones for my Autumn Cupcakes and Daisy ones for my Spring Cupcakes. You can find butterflies, hearts, so many different types of flowers and all sorts for amazing cake toppers!

There are a million other tools like moulds and embossers but these are just the very basics- the ones you would need to cover a cake with fondant or make a fondant figure.

Hopefully if you're thinking about using fondant then this will have helped you! Let me know if you can think of anything I've missed!

Next week I'll be listing tools that will help you with piping buttercream or royal icing!

12 April, 2016

Bow Cupcakes

Bow Cupcakes

I make a LOT of cupcakes I've noticed recently, but they're one of my favourite things to make as they don't take as long as big cakes but you can still make adorable results!

So when I had cake mix left over from my Epcot cake, I decided to make some cupcakes to decorate.

I went for a simple yet adorable (if I do say so myself) theme- a baby blue fondant covering with a cute ribbon! But don't worry, they're super simple to make and I am going to show you how!

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