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! 


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