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Friday, 22 February 2013

Trip to Senspa October 2012

So I have just remembered that I took photographs for a planned post four months ago and completely forgot to write it!  What a fool I am.

In October of last year me and a Bestie decided to treat ourselves to a evening pamper session at the divine Senspa in the New Forest.  I would love to be very zen and say that the reason we chose senspa was because of the rave reviews about the facilities, but the real reason was the three course meal included in our stay ;)

I am lucky enough to have visited Senspa twice before and I can honestly say that it is an amazing place that does leave me feeling very serene for at least a week.  Working 7 days a week does take it's toll and sometimes I do fear that I am going to become over-whelmed with balancing work, social and family dramas.  In October last year I was reaching my peek and decided to take a whole afternoon off from work and family and just enjoy being pampered, it was heaven!


The entire spa is Thai inspired and the food decor is amazing.  It wouldn't have really been practical to take my camera into the spa areas, so will do a bit of promoting of the facilities via their website ;)



The restaurant is gorgeous and the table is laid out in a beautiful fusion of fine dining and bistro


Like an old married couple my Besite and I decided to pretty much share every course!  For starters she had mini spring rolls with a dipping sauce, divine.


They even managed to make pretty little flowers from carrot!


My starter was deep friend crab meat in a crisp batter.  I was very paranoid there would be the dreaded coriander lurking somewhere among the greenery, luckily I spotted it before ingesting.


Slow braised belly pork for main course was just as succulent and juicy as it looks here.  The sauce tasted like a blend of soy and fish sauce, glorious!


The two of us both decided that sorbet was not a true pudding as it contains virtually no calories!  To this end we decided that my Bestie would order the mango sorbet, whilst I got the calorific alternative and then we'd share ;)


I had only recently had my first creme brulee and was hooked.  When I saw that Senspa offered a lemon grass version I was sold!

Terribly I have already been contemplating my next spa, hopefully this year will see me being able to take some time off of work at some point to make the dream a reality ;)
 

Guest Blog - The banana cake recipe!!

Well a few of my RL friends have become readers of my blog and there is one that I talk about more then most on here; My Bestie Helen!
 

You may remember her from nearly all cake/bake related posts, blackberry picking, spa dates (whoops still haven't uploaded that one), and the wonderful rudie bunting!  Helen is completely awesome; she has a kick ass attitude, a wicked sense of humor and is one of the kindest, most caring people in the whole wide world.  I am honored to have such a wonderful Bestie :)  Did I mention that like me, she also likes cake? ;)  What's not to love?

So I asked her to share the amazing Banana loaf recipe that she let me sample last week and like the legend she is, she typed it all out and whizzed it over to me.  At the top of the message was a suggestion to share it on my blog - so here we go.  A guest post by the most fabulous baker there ever was!

The banana cake recipe!! Maybe u could pop it on your blog?
250g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
125g margarine or butter (very soft)
4 mashed bananas (ripe as possible!)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
175g chocolate (can be cheap as u like and either chips or pieces, I prefer large-ish pieces)
Oven 180 Degrees or 160 fan assisted, grease (and line if u have baking paper) a loaf tin
Sift baking powder and flour - set aside
Mix all other ingredients together (mix very well-you will know it's right if it looks disgusting!) 
Add wet ingredients to dry, stir until just combined, don't over mix!
Pop in tin and bake for 1hr 15mins, if the top starts to go too brown toward the end pop some foil on the top to prevent burning. (You probably won't get a clean cake tester if u poke it in because u will either hit a patch of chocolate or banana and it will come out gooey so don't bother..just cook for the full time)
Cool in tin for 5mins (while u make tea) then onto cooling rack where it should be eaten immediately for optimum gooey banana cake experience!

Bottom right corner is the glorious loaf!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Ultimate Cookie Recipe

Have received a few requests for the scrummy Cookie recipe I made at the weekend, so here goes!  Please enjoy and remember that Cookie making is not an art, it is a roll of the dice, lady luck, fate smiling upon you deal ;) In other words, be prepared for failure and then you will be pleasantly surprised with however your Cookie's turn out.

Ingredients

  • 125g Cooking Spread (stork or similar)
  • 175g caster sugar (or caster sugar/granulated sugar combination if you've run low like me)
  • few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 50g plain chocolate
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 175g plain flour
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 2 heaped teaspoon of cocoa or good quality drinking chocolate

With Regards to chocolate, I used Tesco value bars as they are a bargain at 30p a bar!

Method

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Afternoon Tea with a Bestie

Sorry I've been MIA - Have started a long term placement and trying to balance that and the stores is proving somewhat difficult!  I will try to get back to my posting once a week, may even post a few more then that to make up for the weeks that have been missed ;)

So today I had a lovely catch up session with one of my best friends.  Baking is a shared passion for both of us and so it wasn't too surprising that we turned it into afternoon tea!  There was supposed to be three of us, but sadly one of our friends is AWOL this meant that we ended up with enough sweet treats to feed an army!

For Christmas I got a lot of baking bits, this was going to be the first chance that I had actually got to use them :)  I decided on a traditional sponge cake (so I could use my icing stencils) and some chewy cookies (something a little different to my usual cakes).

My Bestie bought me this gorgeous cake stand for my Birthday - I had been after a plain one like this for ages.  The ones I had spotted in stores were either completely devoid of any decoration or far too ornate.  I love polka dot and my obsession for Ribbon is quenched with this beautiful weave detail!  I needed a cake that would do this stand justice, a traditional sponge is always a winner.  To pep mine up, I made a lovely vanilla butter cream and used some of my left-over home-made jam - delicious :)


My wonderful Mother-in-Law bought me lots of different Great British Bake-off accessories for Christmas.  One of them was a set of icing stencils, perfect for livening up a dull cake.  I chose Homemade as I felt it quite fitting what with using my own jam.  These stencils have actually sparked a store idea; providing my silhouette cameo can cut the acetate, I plan to offer custom stencils :) I'm sure I will have lots of fun with these!


I am an absolute sucker for chewy cookies and so far haven't attempted making them.  These have dark, milk and white chocolate chunks in them and are divine!  I am pretty sure that it was just beginners luck, but they have a crisp outer shell and a lovely soft, chewy center.


No afternoon Tea would be complete without a pot of steaming tea.  My Bestie treated us to her divine Carrot and Pineapple cake and a chocolate chunk and banana loaf.  I haven't had the honor of sampling the loaf yet (too stuffed) but seeing as we traded cakes (would have been rude not to) I will look forward to it with a slice of tea tomorrow...nom....nom...



Sunday, 3 February 2013

First Week of the New Store!

Well the title pretty much sums it up!  I have a sparkly new Etsy store called Chibi-Chi Designs, it is the place that I am selling all my beautiful silhouette related crafts.  I started with a facebook page last Sunday and it has become quite the success!

I had more sales in my first week, then in my first few months with the jewellery store!  And truth be told, it is my new favourite craft.  There is something so satisfying about weeding out paper to reveal a unique papercut.

Our best seller has been our 'Love You to the Moon & Back' cards, which I originally designed to give to my lovely husband for Valentines.


I know that technically I'm biased, but I really do love this little cutie!  A wonderful person ordered the card in pastel blue and white, it was adorable - I really love that colour combination!

Through the facebook page I have had two orders for papercuts.  The first is for our personalized family tree



and the second is for a lovely family sentiment quote that is being purchased as a wedding gift!

I am also working on some custom name plaques for two very sweet little children - I am looking forward to stocking those!

As always, I have a huge mental list of things I want to make and sell including a vinyl silhouette of a working cuckoo clock (mainly because I want one!), a cute framed initial tote bag and a wonderful invention of a icing stencil for cookies and gingerbread!

We also have a bit of a backlog of items that need to be photographed and added to the store!  This is a full time job in itself, but to help save for the new house I have started a long term placement which is a Monday to Friday job.  There are simply not enough hours in the day!