Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Happy Birthday Cake

My brother turned one year older and it was only right and just that he have a cake. As we now live in the same city, I decided that the job of making him a cake was mine.

A cake was indeed created and happily, dear brother approved of it:

Want to know how you too can make a brother-approved cake? Read on!

First, a basic cake was made:

1. About 75 g (about 2 1/2 oz) butter was melted and left to cool.

2. Then 3 eggs and 3 dl (1 1/4 cup) sugar were beaten together until white and fluffy-ish.

3. The dry ingredients (4 1/2 (a little under 2 cups) dl flour, 3 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp vanilla sugar) were mixed together, then added to the beaten eggs & sugar.

4. Finally, about 1 dl (a little under 1/2 cup) water and the melted & cooled butter were mixed into the batter.

5. The batter was poured into a greased and floured cake tin (24 cm or 9 1/2 inches in diameter) and baked in 175°C (347°F) for about 45 mins.

Once the cake had cooled down, the fun part started! I cut it in half and moistened the bottom layer by spreading a bit of fruit juice (including orange, pineapple, apple and passionfruit) evenly over it with a tablespoon. Then I spread on a layer of apricot marmelade and finally covered it with vanilla custard. The top layer went on and was moistened in the same way.

The cake went into the fridge for about 8 hours to set and let the juice spread evenly throughout the layers. It probably would have been better to have it in there overnight, but oh well. Will do that another time.

Just before serving, it was time for the final touches. Vanilla-flavoured whipped cream was liberally applied to the whole cake and decorated with mandarin orange slices. VoilĂ !

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A random moment of happy

On the way home from work yesterday I decided to go along the route that had the most pretty colourful autumn leaves. This was the best idea I've had so far this week. (Which isn't saying much, considering my crappy start for the week, but anyway.)

The sun was shining, the trees were beautiful in the sunlight and the piles of colourful leaves on the ground made me want to jump around in them. I walked through parks and streets lined with huge maples and other trees, going from one gorgeous scene to another.

It was a good walk. It made me happy.

PS: Alas, no camera was present at the time. Not that I could have captured it all anyway. It's a thing to experience, not show. To keep with the theme though, here's a picture of an autumny tree in the yard.

PPS: I keep skipping through and jumping around in piles of leaves on the way to work. I may look silly, but it's fun. I'm pretty sure that when I stop doing this, I will have grown old.

PPPS: Autumn is brilliant.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Fishy Project at 3 months

Well, it's been about 3 months since I got the big fish tank. Time to do an update, don't you think?

Behold the great dwelling of fishies as it is today. It's come along quite nicely since the last photos on the blog, I think! A bit more moss, a bit more growth by the plants in the background and I will be a happy girl indeed.

I thought I'd show off a few of my older fish, who moved into this big one from my other aquariums. Here's a horseface loach hanging out in front of a couple of Sterba's cories. There's a nice horde of cories in here, almost 30 of them, which also includes emerald green and bronze cories. Between them and the Synodontis catfish, it gets pretty lively during feeding times!

Here's another "oldie": Igor, the starlight bristlenose. She may look all pretty and dainty, but you don't want to get between her and her food. Trust me. Even the bigger fish are wary of her.

Fishmeat, the gorgeous but temperamental janitor of the tank. Fishmeat's not the same as the red-finned shark in the previous update, sadly Redeyes Jr jumped out of the tank the night after that post was made. :( The aquarium needed a red-finned cleaner though, so Fishmeat arrived.

(I carefully picked Fishmeat out from about two dozen individuals as the one who was the most interested in cleaning and the least interested in chasing others. I'm sure the girl selling him was reeeeal happy with me, having her catch a specific one among dozens of nearly identical-looking fish. She got the right one though (very nice service) and Fishmeat has proven to be a very good choice. As you can see, he won't stay still even long enough to have his picture taken and instead continues to clean the plants.)

The tetras don't much care for staying still either, so here's the best photo I got of them. I've had the glowlight tetras for a few years, but the rummy-nose tetras (guess which they are, ha) are a new acquaintance that has been on my wishlist for years. The photo shows about a third of the tetras - no way could I get them all in the same shot.

(Also shown: a swordplant leaf chomped on by Igor. She protests visibly if she feels it's been too long since her last zucchini or other veggie delight.)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

An autumn look for the balcony

Yup, it's definitely autumn here. One of my favourite seasons normally, only so far there's been a little too much rain and not enough colourful leaves for my taste. Oh well.

As it's been getting colder, it was time to bring in the ivies before it turned freezing at night. I figured I may as well do a big autumn overhaul at the same time and planted a few pretty things.

This is the balcony's autumn look. The summer flowers were getting pretty sad-looking, so their box was replaced with one full of heather (Calluna to be more exact). I like!

The plants closer to the wall are still doing surprisingly well, seen here in the corner on the right. The vine (apparently woodbine or thicket creeper in English) has yet to get its red autumn colour and the petunia and dahlia on that side of the balcony are still flowering. Even the thyme in the tiny basket is still hanging on.

Now here's something I'm pretty excited about. On the left are what I hope to see early next spring rising from the big basket on the right: crocuses, daffodils and tulips in pretty colours. The tulips and daffodils are planted in the middle with the crocuses around them. Once it gets a little bit warmer next spring they'll sprout and ta-daa, a spot of colour before the summer flowers!

I put the basket in a cardboard box filled with styrofoam, hopefully that will keep them from getting too cold. Eventually, when the weather turns freezing, I'll cover the basket with... something. Yeah, I'm not too sure of how to do all this correctly, I'm just experimenting really. Wish me luck and let me know if you have any tips!
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