Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Now I Feel A Bit Sick

Birthday highlights! (Long, picture-heavy post.)

It began (very, very late due to all the lovely phone calls pouring in) with a friendly scrambled egg sandwich with bits of ham and cheese.

Then I made myself the "Butterscotch Layer Cake" I've been wanting to try for years, since I was first given Nigella's "How To Be A Domestic Goddess". The first step is making the caramel, which I have never done before. They mean it when they say you're going for is step 1.

And then here is step 2 - you wait til it's golden brown (it happens kind of suddenly, and there is SMOKE rising here, making your eyes water) then take off heat and beat in a cup of whipping cream.

Nothin' wrong with THAT.

Batter in tin (and this batter was so silky and gorgeous I'm surprised my kids, with their ardent beater-lickage, allowed me to cook any of it).

Pictures of the icing-in-progress didn't turn out, but let me tell you how it's made. You take 400g (!!!) of soft cream cheese, beat it to a voluptuous smoothness, then pour in 250 ml of the caramel, and beat it again: beat it but good. You're going for 1890's-English-headmistress here. Then you Jackson-Pollock the remaining caramel over top.

In this book Nigella uses the phrase "ramshackle" a fair bit to describe her style of presentation. It seems so much more honest than faffing around trying to neaten everything up. So I went with ramshackle for the finished product. Note the cake patch.

Among other small presents, my children performed a little ballet for me. "Show me how long your neck is!"

And you gotta love the Ed Grimley tights. I guess they're comfier that way...

Mid-afternoon, the phone rang (again) and it was the movie store up the street, telling me that I hadn't rented in a while, so they were offering me a free movie. I exclaimed happily "Hey, great! It's my birthday today!" and the girl said "Well in that case you can have TWO free movies!"

I had a momentary setback when the postie dropped off a lumpy, misshapen squashy packet in a plastic bag printed with this message:

Oh yes. It was the ill-fated Sockapalooza socks, and their accompanying goodwill offerings from me to my Danish pal. The goodwill offerings had been monumentally abused in shipping from here to Denmark and back again, and there was loose tea scattered everywhere, even coming out the corners of the bubble envelope I had used. I opened it gingerly to find this:

The tea was almost a write off, though I did funnel it into a tin with plans to (cautiously) drink it later. The chocolate was pulverized into a fine powder, and is almost irredeemable. The candles, besides being coated in a crusty layer of stuck-on tea leaves, were broken into several pieces. The maple-leaf cookie cutter looked more like the bat signal:

But I was able to bend it back into its intended shape.

The letter and postcard were dogeared and lightly perfumed with tea (quite pleasant). They are the only things that will travel back to Denmark with the apparently unharmed socks.

The last thing I did on my birthday was finish off this cute little purse, which I knitted the other day with my old swatch ball of Patons SWS in Natural Geranium. I tried i-cord for a strap, but found I loathe i-cord with every fibre of my being. I don't care what people say, it just doesn't turn out right. Loose in the back, tight in the front, time-consuming. Instead I crocheted about a 6 meter chain, then cut it in thirds and braided the chains together, knotting the ends. Voila, a cute (and quick) strap.

So, a day well spent. To crown the whole thing, I got to spend the last hour, after the kids were sleeping, exploring Virtual Yarns again. My so-generous mother-in-law sent me a card with a CHEQUE inside (oh, the thrill!) which may enable me to finally buy the Rheingold kit. I have to make a careful decision, though - I have a few other options which sorely tempt me. But now I know she reads the blog (Hi Mom!) so I might have to stop mentioning things like this and this.


Penny said...

That is a sad and sorry parcel: but at least it came back to you.

lizbon said...

Oh happy birthday, darling! Sorry I was too dead-to-the-world yesterday to remember to email you then. Looks like it was a fab occasion. All that caramel looks heavenly. Methinks maybe it's not the worst thing in the world to bake one's own birthday cake - then you get to have whatever kind you want.

Kate said...

Hmmm... maybe Lizbon's right. Maybe you should bake your cake tomorrow ... KIDDING!! ......
'Cause we're not having cake ;)

That parcel makes me curse posties everywhere.

So glad you had a great day. Because you do, totally, deserve it.

Ames said...

My kids look the same way when they do ballet. They take it so seriously.

I'm glad you had an awesome birthday. I want one of those cakes the next time I'm in town.

Sandy said...

Me want cake.

Jo said...

Happy belated birthday - you have the same birthday as my grandmother. I love the ballerinas :)

uberstrickenfrau said...

oh that cake-to die for. And if you actually knit that Rheingold - you need to start your own knitting telly show. Seriously- that will be a herculean feat!

karen said...

So glad you had a wonderful day - it is the beginning of a wonderful year for you - I'm sure!!

Tabatha said...

Oh that cake looks absolutely amazing.

You have beautiful girlies. I love how serious they take their dancing.

Happy 2 days after your birthday.

Gwen said...

Love! Love! Love you!

mel said...

Happy Belated Birthday! Sounds like a pretty near perfect day :)

I'm busy catching up on your back posts after discovering your blog and very much enjoying it. And that Rheingold wrap has me completely in awe. What an amazing knit that would be.

Karen S said...

Well, so far so good!!! At least it made it back to you (and quite quickly too). I will pray for it each day, and wish for its safe journey once more!

... I'm wondering whether it was cursed because I sneaked a peek before it came to me?

Thanks for your efforts, they will go down in sock-knitting history!

Karen S said...

Ohhh, d'uhh! ;-) Happy birthday!!! (I hope you recovered quickly!)

Heatherly said...

it is my 10 yr old in the picture. i am guilty of hair envy too...if only i could get her to brush it! :-)