Sunday, 9 November 2014

Alternative Christmas Cake Ideas

Christmas Parcel Stacked cake 

Fruit or sponge for a Christmas cake?

I did this cake as part of our work xmas bake-off. I haven't done a cake this big before and was lucky that the base did manage to fit into my cake carrier (when I took the silver board off anyway). It would have been an awkward moment otherwise.

With this cake being for work I took the decision not to do a fruit cake as it's rather rich and many people are not a fan. Instead I did two types of sponge. The top parcel was vanilla genoise cake with strawberry buttercream filling. 

I cut the cake so it had four layers of sponge to keep it light and to assist with the height. The silver cardboard board was also iced so to be part of the design. The bottom parcel I used chocolate genoise cake with vanilla buttercream filling. Once again I cut the sponge into four layers. The top parcel was 6 inches square and 3 inches high. The bottom cake was 10 inches square and 3 inches high. 

How do I work out how many portions for an iced cake?

One dessert portion is 1 inch by 2 inches so the top layer provided 18 portions and the bottom layer provided 50 portions, that's 68 portions in total.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Frozen Egg & Honey Facial Mask

This homemade facial mask is recommended for dry or sun burned skin. 

Frozen Egg & Honey Facial Mask Ingredients:

1 egg
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (tepid)
1 tablespoon honey 

Frozen Egg & Honey Facial Mask Method:

1. Beat the egg in a small bowl until frothy and well-mixed. Slowly add the melted coconut oil and honey, beating until your mask is the consistency of mayonnaise.

2. Take an empty toilet tissue roll and set it on end in a clean bowl. Spoon mixture into the cardboard toilet paper roll. Place tube, in the bowl, in the freezer overnight.

3. To use, peel away just the top 1/4 inch of the cardboard roll and smooth the frozen stick over your face (think of it as a push-up pop). Leave your mask on for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

4. Return the cream stick covered with plastic wrap and frozen between uses.Keeps indefinitely.

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Monday, 8 September 2014

The magic ingredient for amazing skin

The magic ingredient to amazing skin

The magic ingredient for amazing skin

Beauty products will help keep your skin fresh but there is one magic ingredient which is often over looked. And that is water. Don't forget to drink enough water. In general you need 2 litres of water on a normal day. If you are somewhere warm and/or doing more activity than normal make sure you drink more than 2 litres. Water feeds your skin enabling it to produce more cells.

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4 of the Best Places to Visit in North East Asia

From the idyllic countryside of rural China to the sensory overload of Japanese cities, North East Asia offers a fantastic blend of contrasting and conflicting places for you to visit. This vast region is largely dominated by China and its much smaller neighbour Japan, and there is so much to be explored here. 

Despite belonging to the same continent, the cultures, laws, customs and costs of the countries comprising Northeast Asia can differ hugely. It’s best to fully research where you’re going before you set off on your discovery of the orient.

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai

Shanghai, China 

While not as attraction dense as other major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai offers an exhilarating experience without the need for tourist traps. But the few sights it is home to are truly magnificent. Not to be missed is Yu Yuan Garden, a 400 year old classical garden located in Shanghai’s Old Town. Look past the throngs of tourists and allow yourself to be transported to 16th century China, taking in the beautiful architecture and wealth of history that surrounds you. Yuyuan Garden is the most lush, lavish and magnificent Chinese garden that is situated in the middle of the Old City area, very near to The Bund in Shanghai whose history dates back to the time period of 1559. 

This classical area is considered to be a source of great temptation for the visitors and people gather here in large numbers. Its fascinating halls, pavilions, rockeries, cloisters and ponds are some of the major attractions. The most alluring treasure and astonishing feature of the garden is the Jade Rock which is 10.8 feet high and contains 72 holes. 

The magic related to this rock is that if a stick is burned under it, all the holes will produce the smoke and the same happens if you put water. That’s why the site is truly bewitching and is admired a lot by the people.Apart from all such charming places of the garden, there is much more in this dazzling area. So plan a visit for the stunning Yuyuan garden of Shanghai. 

Hollywood films which have been set in Shanghai include: Transformers: Revenge of the fallen (2009), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) and Empire of the Sun (1987).

Tokyo, Japan 
A fascinating mix of old and new, Tokyo is a fast paced, thriving metropolis that still stands true to its rich heritage. Expect century-old tradition to be interspersed with startling modernity, and don’t be surprised if you get left behind on the rapidly moving trends. 

If you’re visiting in January, May or September, squeeze some sumo into your schedule with a visit to Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall. Hollywood films about Japan include House of Bamboo (1955), a film noir feature directed by Samuel Fuller about American gangsters setting up shop in Japan; Sayonara (1957), starring Marlon Brando and based on James Michener novel about American servicemen that falls for Japanese girls; You Only Live Twice (1967), a James Bond thriller with ninjas, sumo wrestlers and the ultimate Bond; Sean Connery.

Jeju-do, South Korea 

Beautiful Jeju Island is a world away from the hectic, concrete jungle that is mainland Korea. This lush, mountainous landscape is the destination of choice for Korean newlyweds and holidaymakers, and it’s not difficult to see why. Take a tour of the many waterfalls found here, making sure not to miss Jongbang Waterfall, believed to be the only one in Asia that falls directly into the sea. 

Guilin, China 

A rich abundance of historic treasures and natural beauty can be found in picturesque Guilin, an ancient city located on the west bank of the Li River. While many have complained that economic growth and overpricing have detracted from Guilin’s charms, it still retains much of what made it the most well-known tourist destination in China, including meandering blue rivers, dramatic mountain formations and rolling green rice fields.

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Festivals in Japan, October

The autumn season is sensational in Japan. Mild temperatures combined with vivid colours make a landscape of splendour, especially as the leaves take on a rusty glow. Japan makes a great holiday destination in the month of October as the mild weather is perfect for getting out and about. As it happens, October is also host to a number of festivals in Japan, meaning you won’t be short of things to see and do during your stay.

Festivals in Japan, October 

Naha Festival, October 

Also known as the 41st Naha Great Tug of War, the Naha Festival is definitely worth a visit. Open to everyone, this is tug-of-war with a difference, because the rope is gigantic! In fact, the rope weighs more than 40 tons, and needs more than 15,000 people in order to pull it. You won’t need to spend any of your Japanese Yen for a memento though; a little piece of the rope is apparently enough to bring you good luck for the rest of the year. 

Kurama-no Hi Matsuri

The Kurama Fire Festival is one of the most unique festivals in Kyoto. Everyone from young children to adults gather together on a procession from the village houses to the Kuki-jinja shrine. Japanese taiko drums bang out powerful rhythms as young men hoist five-metre-high pine torches onto their shoulders. They then parade through the village streets, showering sparks everywhere. It's believed that being touched by a spark is a sign of good luck. This festival is likely to bring your holiday pics to life, providing you don’t keep your camera too close to the flames. 

Niihama Drum Festival

Located in the Ehime prefecture of Shikoku – one of the main four islands of Japan – the city of Niihama hosts a truly exciting event each October. The Niihama Drum Festival takes over all five districts of the city as hundreds of people take to the streets. You will see over 50 lavishly decorated drum floats, each carried by 150 men. Keep an eye out for the Kaki Kurabe event, where teams compete to see how long they can hold up their float.

No matter when you plan to visit Japan, you are most likely to find a quirky festival or celebration worthy of a few holiday snaps. Don’t forget, Japan is famous for electrical goods!

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