Monday, 13 August 2012

so I made a cake.

I think this yummy cake is a Pinterest find although I can't find the pin now. But it is fab for lazy holiday mornings when you aren't really in the mood for whipping up a full English or some 'Special Eggy Bread' as we call it in our house (that's a whole other post in its self!)

The best thing about it is that you can make it when you have a spare half an hour between wading through the chaos that is your house during the summer hols (if your house isn't scattered with toys, grass, wet towels, random pens without lids and probably quite a few raisins like ours then you either don't have kids or you need to share your secret!)

I made ours today because we went out last week for a lovely walk in the fields a few mins from our house with Daisy the Dog and took a pot to collect blackberries. We did this last year but didn't think about it until late September so most of the good ones were gone. This year though we got in early and within about half an hour we had a good haul and in Jack's case a black and red face. They have done a few little treats after dinner for the boys sprinkled with a bit of sugar but today they either needed eating or binning.

I have made this before, the recipe called for blueberries but I thought I would try it with and blackberries and it seems to have worked. I think I remember the original recipe saying that it even works with frozen fruit, but it is nice to feel a little bit smug knowing that you picked the fresh fruit... for five mins you can pretend you are the perfect mother :)

So... the recipe. All the measurements are in cups I'm afraid. I have a set of cups that I inherited from my mum so I just use those but you can always find the conversions here (good old Delia) if you haven't got any.

Serves 6-8
½ cup salted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups fresh blueberries (or any other fruit that you feel like trying, frozen or fresh)
½ cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour and baking powder.
3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.
4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

I hadn't heard of buttermilk before (but that just might be me) but I found it pretty easy to get hold of in Sainsbury's or Morrisons down here.

Enjoy lovelies, let me know which fruits you try it with.

Claire xx

Monday, 18 June 2012

Can I use my logo as my blog/web header?

I get asked this a lot, and I mean A LOT so don't worry if you are one of the people who has ever wondered this. Basically the answer is pretty much no... but I feel mean just saying NO and I do sometimes feel like people may think that I am just trying to get extra money out of them because they may not completely understand what the difference is between a logo and a banner or header.

A logo is essentially an image that is used to identify your business. It consists of a combination of colours, graphic elements and font and with it you are creating an image that your customers can get to know, trust and recognise immediately.

It doesn't have to illustrate or represent every aspect of your business, for example people who make cupcakes, jewellery, sock monkeys and frying pans ( I'm exaggerating slightly but you get my drift) don't have to have an image of everything they do on their logo. It just needs to give your customer the right impression of your business and be about what YOU do, not be a representation of what is in fashion this year or look like a competitor's design. Don't forget, if you do well then you will still be hopefully using the same design in 10 years time so you don't want it to age too much. Where logos are concerned the simpler the better and a good catchy tag line will do wonders for encapsulating the feel of your business.

So now you have your logo... its attractive, its eye catching and best of all its yours!

So what is a web header and why can't I just use my logo instead?

A web header is what goes across the top of your website, is long and thin in size and shape and usually consists of your logo, a tag line, possibly your contact details or even media icons like facebook, twitter etc. Here is where you can start to add a little bit more design to your site. Expand on the logo design to create a web banner that is exciting and eye catching. If you make bunting, then add some. If you make cakes, add some of them. If you make hand made hanging hearts whack some of those on there! A web banner can be used to set the overall feel of your website.

You can't use a logo design for this because unless your logo is long and pretty thin you are pretty much trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, your logo will end up either squashed and distorted or the top and bottom will be cut off and you will end up with just a bit of the middle.

Ok, fine I hear you say, I understand what's what now, so why can't you just design me a web header without me having to shell out for a logo design as well?!

Well as I said, a blog or web banner usually consists of your logo or business names and other bits along side it. If I designed a web header for someone for £30 I am essentially giving them a logo design for 1/3 of the price of what I usually charge. My prices are based on not only the time it takes to create the logo designs which are all drawn from scratch and don't contain any stock images, but also the time I take getting to know what each of my customers wants and needs from their design,and then time researching and sketching so that I can give them the best designs I can. I don't think it would be fair to charge some people £90 for a service and then let others have it for £30... plus, I can't really feed my forever hungry boys on that I'm afraid :)

I hope that has cleared things up a little bit and hasn't got too heavy or sounded like I was being nasty or trying to make anyone feel silly. This is what I do so I should know what I am talking about but when it comes to icing a cake or knitting a hat I wouldn't know where to start and I'd leave that to you lot... the experts at what you do. Thanks for reading, comments greatly appreciated.

Claire x

Thursday, 31 May 2012

It's June....

So I AM doing a photo a day for June, its going to be a pretty big month for me so I think I'd like to record it.

Day one: Morning!

I had big plans for my first day, I was going to take him down the beach once we had dropped the bigger one off for school and get a gorgeous photo of the Solent while the morning mist was still around... but this little monkey had other ideas! Falling asleep at 6 pm as soon as you come in from nursery = getting up at 6 am with a whole lot of bounch in your step. Poor old Rex the Rabbit!

Claire xx