The people you meet along the way

I mentioned in a previous post that one of my favorite parts about travelling is the people I meet.  Sometimes you meet people who will become very important to you even after your journey, others friends, and others just friends/travel buddies for part of your trip.

After I travelled around Athens, I was making my way back to Milan.  I was exhausted and just needed some downtime.  But what to do when I was by myself and didn’t have access to a computer (thanks to long ferry and train trips)?  Several people back home had friends of friends in Europe who said they might be able to help.  In the end, my aunt’s husband’s ex-wife’s parents in Nottingham, England, said I could stay with them for as long as I needed.  So when I got to Milan, I made my way to the airport and caught the first flight to Birmingham.  I looked pretty dishevelled after travelling for a couple days and I imagine Continue reading “The people you meet along the way”

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Crafty Creations

Home-made gifts are a fun way to get creative and make something special for someone, tailoring to their interests or being festive for the holidays.  I like to use sugar cookies and cupcakes.

A few of my creations from this year:

Buttercream and Royal Icing

I love buttercream frosting.  The smell, the taste, and the look.  From shell borders to roses to drop flowers, you can do so many types of decorations on your cake or cupcakes.  Royal icing is great for flowers.  It will dry to a stiff consistency.  It is perfect for making decorations to put on a buttercream frosted cake because the buttercream will actually soften the flowers so you can eat them (although some people find still find them too hard, I enjoyed them).

You can find recipes at http://www.wilton.com/recipes/browse.cfm?cat=Icing.  You can make your own tweaks once you find a recipe you like.  Continue reading “Buttercream and Royal Icing”

Frustrations with fondant

If you are going to work with fondant, keep it mind that in addition to being expensive, it can be hard to work with.  When you are covering a cake, it can easily rip (as did mine during class).  A border on the cake or a drape, in addition to decorations can hide this easily.

What about the taste?  I thought it tasted it like gum.  Everyone I served the cake to peeled off the fondant to enjoy the chocolate underneath. My instructor said that at a wedding or other special event, many caterers will take the cake after it has been presented, peel off all the frosting and re-frost and smooth using buttercream.  You can actually get buttercream to look as smooth as fondant.  So is it worth it?  For a special event and a unique cake shape or design, yes.  Fondant accents can definitely make a cake stand out. Consider starting with a few decorations to give your buttercream cake that something extra, and go from there.

Fun with fondant

I wasn’t sure what to expect from course three of the cake decorating series I took at Michael’s: fondant and gum paste.  Browsing through pictures, there were so many cool designs and ways to transform a cake using fondant.  For ideas check out http://www.wilton.com/ideas/browse.cfm?start=1&cat=Fondant-Gum-Paste.

Here are some pictures of my work from the course using fondant and gum paste.

Solo Travel Can Lead to the Trip of a Lifetime

beach-walk
I was born without any sense of direction.  And I mean that quite literally.  You can tell me that in order to get from A to B, I just need to walk in a straight line, and I guarantee you I will get turned around.  Most of my life, I have always relied on friends and family showing me how to get a new place.  So I was very apprehensive about my first trip travelling on my own.

It was my last night in Italy as part of a summer abroad program.  My friend and I had this grand plan to go to Greece, spending a few days in Athens, then hitting the Greek Islands, and making our way all over Europe until we finally ended up in Ireland to start our creative writing class.  But the night before we were supposed to leave, she flaked on me.  She wanted to stay in Italy because of this boy she liked in our class.  He was going to hang out at the beach, so she wanted to stay and do the same.  I was so disappointed, and honestly I was a little scared about travelling alone.  Not scared for my safety, just nervous because I had never travelled by myself. Continue reading “Solo Travel Can Lead to the Trip of a Lifetime”

A failed attempt at riding the Couchsurfing wave

Maybe you’ve heard of couchsurfing.  Maybe you’ve tried it.  It sounds like a very cool concept.  You go to www.couchsurfing.org, fill out a profile, and search other profiles of people in the location you are visiting.  You can find people to grab coffee with or find someone willing to host you during your stay.  Browsing through profiles, you can see what people’s interests are as well as feedback left my people they have hosted.  There is also a whole community of surfers.  In Wellington, New Zealand, couchsurfers have drinks every Wednesday.  They also attend other events together.  You can search different cities to see what is happening in the couchsurfing community. Continue reading “A failed attempt at riding the Couchsurfing wave”