Shoes For Too Fast

As some of you already know, I'm a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. I while ago, having worked with them before, I was asked to design some high heels for the awesome alternative clothing brand Too Fast. The final result was this rib cage high heel shoe you see below complete with a silver spine-shaped heel. It was pretty exciting to receive in the post, I can tell you. I also received the multi-coloured shoe further below which I did not design, but which contains a Too Fast Brand logo I designed.

You can see more photos on my website here, along with my other stuff.

Stamp Your Own Wrapping Paper

To save a bit of cash this year (if not time), I decided to buy some cheap brown parcel paper and some black tissue paper to make my own hand-stamped Christmas wrapping paper. I used a small knife to sculpt heart shapes out of erasers and bought some cheap ink pads in gold and red.

You need to use a very fine knife. The shavings will get everywhere so do the carving over a piece of scrap paper.

The tissue paper was good for wrapping the more delicate presents before wrapping them again in the brown paper. Again, I did the stamping over a large piece of scrap paper so that the ink didn't seep through to the table as the tissue paper is very thin.

I also found an old office stamp with letters so I could make the words 'Merry Christmas' for the little gift tags.

The stamps don't last very long since the erasers can be quite crumbly (I'm going to have to try some linoleum or rubber for a longer lasting stamp), but for a one-off project that's all you need really. They're also really versatile since you can make anything. Here's a little skull stamp I couldn't resist making.

Gingerbread Christmas Tree Decorations

This year, I thought I'd have a go at making some gingerbread Christmas tree decorations. I used this great recipe (I had to add extra flour though as the dough was too sticky at first) and had enough left over to give to some away too.

I just heard that my wee niece was helping my sister put them on their tree yesterday. How cute is that! The best thing is that they make the whole room smell like gingerbread.

And after finishing our last little bit of Christmas shopping last night, Tim and I (finally) got our tree up. I'd bought some pastel multicoloured lights for it the other day along with some tiny baubles in different colours to make it a little bit more cutesy-looking this year. The long teal coloured baubles were a lovely present from one of Tim's sisters.

Here's a gingerbread heart nestling in the tree. It's hard to tell from the photos, but the tree is black, of course.

Finally, after completing all our Christmas shopping last night, I bought myself a Christmassy treat in the form of a gingerbread muffin from Costa which I only got round to eating this afternoon. I felt a bit cruel eating the cute little gingerbread man on top, but I coped.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I made a chocolate chip cookie cake yesterday following this recipe from Love, Life and Sugar. Again, I was working with what I could find in the cupboard so it wasn't as chocolatey as it should have been since I didn't have many chocolate chips in the house. Despite that, it was still really tasty and was an exact mix of cookie and cake! Exactly what you want from a chocolate chip cookie cake, really...

Furry Scarf & Chocolate Pancakes

It's official: Special Effects hair dye in Atomic Pink does not fade. It's amazing. I haven't had to dye it since October. This is definitely the dye to have if you're lazy like me. Not only that, but the colour's really nice too (I mixed it with a lot of conditioner and a bit of purple dye to). 

Speaking of pink things, I treated myself to this pink leopard print furry scarf from River Island. Other than some CDs I ordered from amazon, it was my first "treat" to myself after getting a steady part-time job (meaning I can justify spending money on myself now and then now as long as I don't overdo it) so I guess that makes it kind of special. It's a little bit tacky and OTT, but that's no bad thing, I say.

And I felt sorry for my husband last Sunday since he was working from early in the morning to ten at night so I thought it would be nice to make something to surprise him when he got home. I didn't really fancy going outside in the bad weather so I had the challenge of making something out of what we had in the cupboards which ended up being chocolate pancakes: ordinary pancakes/crepes mixed with some cocoa powder. I also made some chocolate syrup for drizzling, out of melted butter, golden syrup and cocoa powder and made some cream for them by mixing brown sugar into sour cream. The verdict was: they were a success!

First Anniversary In Edinburgh

Tim took me to Edinburgh for a week for our first wedding anniversary this October and it was just lovely. Sometimes I think the only time I can really relax is when we're there. We stayed at a different hotel this time which was a bit further from the centre of town that we'd thought. That meant we had an hour and a half walk to Edinburgh city centre every day and the same journey home at night, so by the end of each day I was knackered, but it did feel good to get a chance to walk in the fresh air, even if we needed a coffee stop on the way a couple of times.  

On the first day into town we stopped off a Mimi's Bakehouse. The cakes looked amazing although we didn't get a chance to have any.

I did like the cheeky wallpaper though.

Oh, and I have pink hair now. Here I am, posing about in the hotel loo to demonstrate. The colour's a bit better now since I've had a chance to go over it with Special Effects Atomic Pink instead of Fudge in Pretty Flamingo which the hairdresser gave me. At the moment I'm planning on keeping the black. Underneath anyway, I think I'll grow it out to pink at the very, very front. What do you guys think?

And more loo pictures. How could I resist when the toilets in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art look as cool as this though? Trippy...

We stopped in Cafe W in Waterstones for a bit while my legs recovered from all the walking. It's much bigger than the one in Glasgow. I read about Grayson Perry for a while and Tim pretended to read about modern art.

We usually go the the City Cafe during the day, but this time we went at night and shared antipasti for dinner. I liked it because it was all red and they played some cool music. I looked up the lyrics to a song that was playing that we both liked and it turned out tot be James Blake's Retrograde. Tim also liked the sound of a song which I told him was Genesis by Grimes. I never thought that would be his cup of tea. Cool, eh?

A new place we hadn't been to until this trip was Summerhall which was pretty magical. It's a huge public building with tonnes of different exhibitions and interesting things. Phenotype Genotype (PhG) was a fascinating collection of art, all displayed on scientific benches.

I don't know what's going on here, but it looks like some sort of cake experiment. We stared at this one for ages.

There was lots of other stuff as well which I didn't get any photographs of, including two Louise Bourgeois exhibitions, an exhibition on witches and a long walk into town on the last day through the park by the water. There was also all the girly gifty shops Tim patiently went into with me and the full breakfast provided by the hotel which I took advantage of on the last day before leaving. Oh, and the weirdest thing of all: having access to a television for a week.

First Wedding Anniversary

Last Saturday was our first wedding anniversary! I can't believe it's been a year. It feels like hardly any time has passed at all since I got married to the man of my dreams in a castle up in the hills. 

Although Tim's taking me to Edinburgh soon for a week to celebrate, it was good to be able to spend the day together on the actual day of our anniversary.

I made him a silly little card just so I had something to hand over. I'm still totally stoked that our initials are T & A, by the way.

And my mother-in-law made us this massive anniversary cake. Can you believe it? It's like three-tiered and everything.

We walked into town and picked up a takeaway coffee from a lovely cafe on the way (that we're yet to actually sit in instead of just getting takeaways from) and I drooled over the beautiful baking that we weren't going to buy any of considering we'd just been given a massive anniversary cake and were a bit caked-out.

I liked the colours of the ice-creams too.

More baking looking pretty behind the counter.

Once we got into town, we had a browse round an interesting craft market and then found a new cafe that I'll definitely be back to some time soon (especially since our usual favourite cafe has started getting food that's twice as expensive and stopped doing skimmed milk - what the heck?!)

Oh, and this was my little anniversary present to Tim since he's been so amazing to take me on another week's holiday: some luxury chocolate spreads from Hotel Chocolat. I probably should have listened to the girl when she warned that the hazelnut and chilli chocolate one is a bit more chilli than chocolate (it blows your head off a bit), but the salted caramel and pecan chocolate spread is amaaaaazing. Managing not to eat it all and leave some for Tim (whose present it was) is the hardest thing ever.

Milkshakes In The Sunshine

My little 3-year old niece asked if we could come into town on Saturday to meet her and her big brother after they'd been to the pictures with their Grandma. So, naturally, we made our way to town. I mean, how could we resist a request like that?? I was too distracted though by the all the noise and commotion in the toy shop and in the eatery we went to to remember to take any photos of the wee souls, but we still took some photos of each other in the sunshine after buying milkshakes. We're not quite as adorable as my niece and nephew though. 

I thought I'd wear my new Barbie t-shirt and new purple scarf since it was such a nice day and I wanted to show them off.

And here's my husband, looking disturbingly like a men's fashion model. The jumper over the shoulder probably doesn't help actually.

I found this teeny wee necklace in Accessorize the other day too. They had it in months ago, I didn't buy it and regretted it ever since so when I saw it was back in stock I had to snap it up. It has a black plastic heart with a little gem inside and, although it's gold rather than silver, it's so tiny and cute that I don't even mind. 

Various Recent Photos

At the cinema the other night just before going to see Riddick.

Having a break with a good book and a hot chocolate

I bought a myself scarf the other day (a purple one, of course). I'm trying to get the hang of a pin-up hairstyle with it. As you can imagine, my first attempts at it aren't very good so any tips are welcome!

I made parmesan crisps the other day with some left-over parmesan. You place slices of it on top of some grease-proof paper on a baking tray, making sure there are no spaces in between, and bake it in the oven. When the resulting of parmesan cools off and become hard, you break it into 'crisps' and eat.

I love how weird and vampirey my eyes look in this photo. I used to hate having light grey eyes when I was a kid. I thought it was so boring. Now I love it!

'Cupcake Secret' Silicone Cake Mould

I've recently been eyeing this baking tray in a shop in town. I had decided not to get it since we don't have much space for things in our kitchen cabinets and it's a bit of a gimmick after all. However, seeing it reduced from £5 to £3 the other day, I gave up trying to resist. 

The idea is that the tray has little space-filler "cups" in each indentation. You fill up the tray with cake mixture and, as the cakes rise in the oven, they rise around the little cups and you end up with a finished cake that has a ready-made reservoir in it perfect for pouring in icing, jam or chocolate etc. Sounds neat to me anyway. 

It seemed a huge box for just six cake indents so I figured they were more muffin-sized than cupcake-sized, but that's no bad thing.

I should say the actual contents were not like photo on the box at all. The little pins were underneath the bases instead of sticking out of them. For three quid, I ain't gonna complain though! I managed to make it work (sort of) by squeezing the pins up inside the silicone and stretching the hole inside the cups so they fit over the much wider plastic sticky-uppy bit (Sounds painful, I know...).

Okay, so I was a doofus and filled the moulds way too high with cake mix. The cakes had totally enveloped the little cups by the time I took them out the oven. No need to worry though...

... I managed to dig them out with a spoon (Okay, now I'm realising that I maybe should have just made cupcakes the normal way and dug holes out of them with a spoon, but hindsight is a wonderful thing).

Once that was done, I spooned some chocolate spread inside the holes (behave yourselves).

I decided to top them with coffee icing to make them into nice (if a little large) mocha flavoured treats. I got the recipe from a book.

After spreading the icing on, I topped them with the left-over crumbs I had from digging the cups out earlier.

And, just like every good biology lesson, I'll finish with a cross-section. These cakes are flipping huge, by the way (but very, very tasty).