Are you a morning lark or a night owl? Or something between the two?
I’m definitely a morning lark. I think best in the morning. I wake up with a new idea, that I can’t wait to try out, or the solution to a problem, that’s being gnawing away at me. I literally jump out of bed. The family sometimes find me downstairs, with already an hour of work under my belt before they emerge.
I think I must be a nightmare. I do rather bounce in to wake them up in the morning for school. They have requested that I sing a little bit quieter. I don’t think they even see my dance routine from under their duvets. Honestly. I am not appreciated. Who wouldn’t want a rendition of “Good Morning”, first thing? Or my version of it, at least.
If it is any consolation to the night owls among you, I am flagging by the evening. No one is allowed to ask me homework questions after supper. Fortunately my husband is a night owl, so he takes over. He jokes that he only has to show me a pillow in the evening, and I fall asleep. If only I could deny it.
One of the upsides of being a morning person is that breakfast preparation is not a chore. I love making porridge for everyone. Or toast, which is popular in our house.
We don’t have a toaster or a grill. We use the Aga instead. No need to clutter the surface with another gadget, when the Aga will do it. The children get super excited when we go on holiday and there is a toaster wherever we are staying. New fangled magic box that makes toast!
Last summer in Scotland, we hired a cottage, with a toaster in the kitchen. That wasn’t the reason we hired the cottage. It was the location mostly. Honestly, the first morning, all three children waited to see the toast pop out of the toaster. With “whoops!” when it did. Much discussion about how the toast looked different and gave a different crunch. Novelty waning as the week went on, thank goodness.
So what is different about the toast I make? To start with it has a grid mark on it.
The bread is sandwiched between two wire meshes that are shaped like table tennis bats, but larger. Hinged at one end and long handles opposite. I can fit about 3 slices in.
The bat is put on the hottest plate of the Aga, left, then turned over when ready.
There is no ping to tell you the toast has toasted, and I cannot recommend waiting until the smoke detector goes off. Been there. Done that. Got the burnt toast to prove it.After a while, you seem to develop an inner clock and know when to turn or rescue the toast.
It is also brilliant for toasted sandwiches. No need for more butter, making it less greasy.
(That’s how we make toast, Val, with grid marks. Much easier to explain with a photo. Or two.)
So, are you a morning or night person? And how do you like to start the day?
There are two types of cake eaters. Those that munch the cake as a pre-qualifier to indulging in the sweet topping. Those that are drawn to the yummy look of the decorations, but then only eat the cake.
You only have to look at the remains of cake at the end of a children’s party to see what I mean. Not an adult party. They are far too polite and drilled about food waste. There is an unseen notice beside cake trays, but we all know it’s there. If you have no intention to eat the whole cake, leave it alone for others.
I think I know which type I am.
Yesterday, I tried my hand at Christmas light cakes. Like a trail of vintage Christmas lights spiralling up on top of a cake. I’ve been looking forward to making these ones. They are colourful, fairly simple and should appeal to all generations. Girls and boys alike. I found it on Pinterest.
I love Pinterest. Before it existed, I had lists and lists of bookmarks to fun ideas on the Internet. Hopeless in most cases, as my naming system wasn’t great and there were no pretty pictures to remind me or re-inspire me. Pinterest allowed me to organize my ideas. Not perfect, but miles better.
I’m starting to plan ahead, which does mean more time on Pinterest. The John Lewis Christmas Ad has been launched (love it). The Marks and Spencers one this year is a real tear jerker (love it too). Can’t help feeling slightly Christmasy, but I don’t want to launch into it too soon. No Christmas music or decorations in our house until December, but looking at my previous Christmas board on Pinterest is a must in November. I need to plan, after all.
The Christmas light cake is such a simple idea and easy to do. Ok, you need to be able to bake cakes and have a fairly steady hand, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m pretty sure that a plate of these festive yummies would disappear fairly quickly at a party, without a lot of discussion about how closely it resembles a trail of fairy light in the snow. No. No-one is going to be pulling you up on your piping prowess. Nom Nom.
Another advantage to this cake is that if your cup cake rises in the middle (ahem, surely not?), then this is the perfect cake decorating option for you. No cutting the tops off the little cakes. It actually provides the perfect surface to pipe on to. Making more of a mountain of snow to show the lights off to their best.
I love it when life evens out eventually.
This cake is so easy that I might use it as my contribution to the school Christmas parties this year. It’s the perfect beginners icing project. The children can help me.
So how did I make them? (The original pin is here.)
The cake is just a basic cupcake mix. I used my favourite cup cake recipe, but a packet of cake mix would work perfectly. Let’s face it. So long as it tastes OK these cakes are all about the decoration.
Talking of which – for the topping, I piped Betty Crockers vanilla buttercream icing into a rising spiral. Using a tube of chocolate writing icing, I found in Tesco’s, I carefully piped a spiral, working my way to the top. The lights are mini Smarties. I made 24 cupcakes, used a whole tub of icing and the writing tube ran out on the last cake. I think I used 3 fun sized boxes of Smarties, but some mysteriously disappeared before they reached the cake.
And that is it.
I don’t have a fancy turn table for cupcake decorating, which would probably make it easier to turn the cake round as I attempted a perfect spiral. I used a jamjar with a lid. Brings it to the perfect height and easy to turn around. A thrifty solution.
It turns out that my children are happy to eat the whole cake. No food waste. I’ll be making these again. Probably for their parties.
In the meantime, I might just check out some more Christmas ideas I’ve been pinning over the years.