For the love of silver…for the love of life!!

Archive for March, 2010

Attention All Film Buffs!!

This is a bit of a deviation from my usual blog content – but my son, who is currently at University doing Film Studies and Film Production has been asked to write an evaluative essay from one of his short films and needs to get feedback on it from as many people as possible to get a balanced outlook.  I have agreed that he can use my blogs to try to get some feedback…so here is your chance to become a film critic!  He is happy to receive all comments – both positive and negative – so long as they also explain the reasoning behind the comments!

All I ask is that you refrain from making comments that could upset my usual readers…so no bad language or crudity please!!


Memoirs of a Geisha’s Mother

No rest for the wicked so they say…  I just can’t seem to remember what I have done wrong!!

No sooner had the stress of getting the cakes finished and delivered on time died down than my daughter’s request for help in sorting out movie inspired fancy dress costumes for herself and her partner was repeated!!  This was Tuesday and the fancy dress party is today – Saturday!

I had been given an inkling that I would be involved in this a few days before but there was nothing I could do until the cakes were out of the way.  I had had time to think though…and persuade my husband that the ‘tatty old’ pin stripe suit in his wardrobe was past its best and begging for a make over!  So at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning I was hard at work applying masking tape to this suit!  It does worry me a bit though, that when my son passed through on his way to work he didn’t so much as raise an eyebrow at the vision of his mother applying masking tape to his father’s suit and burnishing it with a spoon!

Although I had to go out on Wednesday, my daughter did her bit and tackled the painting job.

…and it has taken us hours and hours to get this suit made over but I think between us we have done a marvellous job of creating a Beetlejuice costume!  ( ..not sure my son as the press-ganged male mannequin was too impressed though!!)

Stressing over the stripes has taken so long though that I have only been left with a day to create the costume for my daughter – who has decided to dress as a Geisha.

The internet is a great resource for all manner of things and I have managed to find out all about the costumes and way of life of a Geisha, and found a pattern for a kimono and detailed instructions on how to put up long hair with chopsticks and make beautiful fabric tsumami kanzashi flowers for the hair decoration.

Pieces of fabric from my ‘deep and extensive’ materials stock have been put together to make up the kimono and omi and I have ‘remastered’ a couple of shop bought hair bands in order to get the little flowers for the hair decoration.  Cut down Chinese take-away chopsticks with corks added for safety reasons (!) finish off the ensemble – along with a fan that I have had for ages.

My daughter hasn’t seen any of her finished costume  yet so I hope she is happy with it…  I might get to see both her and her partner ‘in full costume’ later on today!  Whether I will be able to get a photo of them both is a different matter!

A Cat and Mouse Game.

And finally…  this is my third cake for the ‘longest weekend’!  My grandson – whose birthday it is today – had asked me to make a cake like the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry.  Now, I always have an issue with making cakes that look like something that every body knows..because everybody can then say, ‘That doesn’t look right!’.   So before you say it…I KNOW!!!!! Well this is my take on it…and this is the best you’re going to get out of me!!!

Making cakes like this is a game from beginning to end.  First you have to come up with a concept…then you have to work out how to create it….and then there is the nitty-gritty of actually putting the ideas into practice and hope that they work!

Minor points like how to make a ball shaped cake in the first place – and how to devise a way to stop the layers from slipping around on the jam and buttercream – and how to make it so that the children at the party don’t end up with a slice of cake that is 9 inches (23cm) tall!   And more technical consideration – like how to make really bizarre but specific coloured sugarpaste out of the dozen food colours I have in my kit!  Now I always fancied myself as a bit of a colour freak and loved mixing colours of watercolour or oil paint…but food colourings are a different beastie altogether!  …no pure pigments to work with here.  In this case ‘melon’ mixed with ‘grape violet’ and ‘ice blue’ make a fairly reasonable ‘Tom’ grey colour.  But then you have ‘Jerry’ colour to make, not to mention ‘inner ear pink’ and the myriad of other colours needed…sometimes in tiny amounts and sometimes in quantities large enough to roll out an 18 inch (45cm) circle.

So, yes… it is stressful.  But thankfully – the grandchildren are usually very happy to receive their yearly birthday creation – and generally consume it right down to the last crumb in very short order!!

(My daughter has just sent me this photograph – showing the demise of ‘Jerry’ and confirming that statement!!! 17/03/10)

As for me, now the last cake has been delivered, and devoured, I’m off to take a leaf out of  ‘Jerry’s’ book and put my feet up and chill for the rest of the afternoon, and enjoy the freedom of not having to think ‘CAKE’ again for a while.  The next round of birthdays are in May…

I might even get round to thinking about making jewellery again!

Just For the Record…

..and what did you do for Mothers Day????

Some women get a lie in…some get treated like a queen…some get wined and dined…  I get to make a DJ Deck 21st birthday cake!

Thankfully I had planned it all out before hand and had made most of the bits and pieces to create the deck over the past week – so all I had to do was ice the cake itself and attach the finished deck ‘furniture’.  The cake is just white iced with sugarpaste…and I ‘cheated’ a bit by putting a wide black satin ribbon around the sides to make it look like it was a black unit with a white top.

Technically – the whole thing is edible, although some of the pieces are made using CMC (carboxymethyl cellulose) reinforced sugarpaste and so are fairly stiff to eat, and the record…which is removable from the turntable so that it can be kept as a momento if wanted…is made from black sugar flower paste which is as hard as eggshells, so you would have to be really hungry to want to eat it!

It has been a challenge … and fun to do because of that … but I am glad it is done.  And now I have photographed it from all angles – just for the record –  I shall be happy to pass it over to the ‘birthday boy’ tomorrow.

One Down – Two to Go!

Here’s the first cake of my marathon cake making weekend!

I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.  It looks lovely and bright and fresh and as requested, I have given it just the slightest dusting of edible ‘pearl dust’, just to give it a bit of a subtle sparkle.

I made a small bowl out of sugarpaste (with the addition of CMC to make it stronger) and decorated it with a band of sugarpaste pearl beads around the top.  I then arranged a small bouquet of my sugar flowers into it and then placed it into a ring of edible sugarpaste pearls that I had set into the icing on the cake.  This means that the little bowl along with its flowers can be removed from the cake, in tact, and kept as a little momento.  I have also surrounded the base of the cake with a band of edible sugarpaste pearl beads.

Now I just about have time to draw breath before settling down to  the next cake – which is about as far removed from the style of this one as is possible…the DJ deck.

Er…Something’s Missing…

The last few days have been very taxing on the old grey matter.  I have been trying to work out how to create the 21st birthday cake I have been asked to make.  I’ve done loads of research so that I know what it is I have to make and I have been making the bits and pieces to try and give it the ‘WOW!’ factor…

Can you guess what it is yet??!!!

I have been using sugar paste for most of this and have added CMC (a food additive that gives it greater strength) so that I can build structures with it.  The only problem with this sort of thing is that you have to wait for one part to dry and harden (usually overnight) before you can add other bits to it, so it takes ages to get the whole thing made.  I have used black sugar flower paste for the ‘head-shell’  (see, I’ve learnt all the techno jargon!!) to make it lighter and stronger and so that I could get more detail into it without it breaking.

I hope you can see now what it is I have been making!  I have arranged everything I have made onto the back of the cakeboard to see how it will fit.  I still have to make the pitch control for the slider knob to go on and put a label on the record but otherwise I think I have got it all done!

Oh!  ….er…yes! ….I nearly forgot!  I’ve still got the cake to do!!

This cake has to be delivered on Monday 15th – so I shall be getting the cake done over the week-end, by which time all this ‘furniture’ should have hardened enough to be put in place without fear of it collapsing!  I really am very pleased how it has turned out so far and as this is the hardest part of the decoration the rest of it should be fairly easy… (famous last words!!).

Check back next week if you want to see the finished item!!

Tangle Tingle…

After a bit of a rest from all the frenzy of Thing-a-Day I have been having another look this week at Zentangles.  I have been doing lots of research and looking at other peoples tangles and slowly working out how to do the basic designs.  There are some step-by-step instructions on the newsletters at the Zentangle site and a great blog called Beez in the Belfy that show detailed instructions on how to do it.

I really am enjoying it.  It gives you a real buzz – or should I say a ‘tangle tingle’ to be able to produce something that looks so intricate and yet it is so easy to create, as the inventors of the system say,  ‘one stroke at a time‘.  And it certainly is a great way to relax.

I started off with an abstract pattern and then moved onto doing an initial of my name….B.  Then I thought I would do one for each of my children…so these are my daughters’ initials…V and D.

And then these are for my sons…A and J.

I’ve got pages and pages of doodles and splodges in my sketchbook trying to remind myself of the different designs…and even a couple of designs that I think I have developed myself…like the little patch at the top of the D which was inspired by a button back sofa on an antiques programme on the television!!

Having done 5 letters of the alphabet I will endeavour to get the rest of the alphabet done over the next few days.  I will need some form of relaxation as the week progresses as I have 3 cakes to get decorated for the 13th, the 15th and 16th of March and I will have to start working like a mad woman on Wednesday to get them done on time!

Anyway – I hope you like my Zentangles!!

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