I had a day off and a birthday to bake for, so I treated myself to a copy of the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  I love the idea behind the book: groups of strangers would meet in secret locations across the UK to bake on a theme, eat, and talk about cake.  The website is well worth a look: though unfortunately there don’t seem to be any in my part of East Anglia.

The book is rather lovely too.  I was initially attracted by the fact that the recipes didn’t look too complicated or require huge amounts of ingredients, and yet the resulting cakes all looked delicious.  I’m a sucker for cookery books with gorgeous photos.  In fact, I would have had great trouble choosing which recipe to try if the recipient hadn’t been someone who dislikes chocolate!  I decided to go for the Dorset Apple Cake:

Dorset Apple Cake

It was delicious (especially still just warm, with a dollop of cream) and went down a treat!  My cake tin wasn’t quite the right size, so I opted to make a mini version to use up the excess and perform the very important task of test cake.  I totally had to eat most of it before deciding that it had definitely passed.  You can’t be too careful…

As well as wanting to make every single cake in the Clandestine Cake Club Book, I discovered another good reason to bake more often.  Our house is cold enough that the butter was tough (and I wasn’t organised enough to get up early to leave it in a warm place), so my arms were pretty tired by the time the mix resembled anything like ‘light and fluffy’.  A workout that results in cake?  Don’t mind if I do.

The Cooking Workout

(also for the Design Every Day Project, which I’m just about keeping up with…)


Hares in the Snow

It’s snowing again!  AGAIN!  I thought we were headed for spring now.  Oh well, here’s a quick hare doodle:


Also announcing The Design Every Day Project!

I wanted some kind of project that was like-a-new-year’s-resolution-but-not-quite.  Originally I wanted to set myself the challenge of taking a photo every day for a year in order to improve my photography skills.  Just a few days into the new year problems began to emerge with that plan.  I leave for work before the sun rises, and get home after it has got dark, and am generally busy in my lunchbreaks.  Although it would be possible to carry on with the project, the lack of natural lighting on a day to day basis was a huge restriction to start out with.  So, instead, I decided to focus on something more flexible and achievable: A Design a Day.

This will include both my general design work for Cafepress, Zazzle, drawings and the like, but also more experimental work such as book cover design.  Most of the cover designs will be for fictional books.  Hang on… that’s not the most helpful word in a bookish context. Let’s try ‘book titles that I’ve made up and don’t really exist’ instead.  That said, if I see a challenge to design a book cover that takes my fancy, I’ll give it a go and post a link to the challenge.  Equally I’m happy to hear from people who have ideas or would like a cover designed (though I won’t promise anything, having never really tried fulfilling commissions before!)   The aim of the project is to create more often, rather than doing nothing for two months and then going mad for a couple of days.

I don’t get on the computer every day, so there won’t always be a punctual upload (an hour or so an evening really isn’t much time to get a detailed design done in) but I’ll try and keep pace.  The designs will appear on Tumblr and Pinterest.

Geeky Valentine’s Cards

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I realised that over the years I’ve designed quite a few geeky Valentine’s cards and should probably put them all together in one place, and Pinterest seems like as good a place as any!  Visit the Geeky Valentine’s Day Cards Pinterest Board or click below:

Geeky Valentine's Day Cards

 Follow Me on Pinterest

Whether Pinterest has potential to act as a larger portfolio I have yet to decide.  The trouble is that my designs are hosted across the interwebs at Zazzle, Cafepress, Redbubble and others, so I don’t have any one place to showcase all of them.  It’s a bit too labour-intensive to add every new design to a WordPress page, so I’m on the lookout for a good solution.  Ideas welcome!

Cthulhu Chocolates

This winter I finally got around to a project I’ve been meaning to try for years: Cthulhu chocolates.  The idea came about when a colleague lent me a collection of Lovecraft stories and, during the year+ that it took me to get through it (I was very easily distracted) I started doodling tentacles, monsters, scenes from the tales, and eventually sculpting little Cthulhus, inspired by the description of the figurine found in ‘Call of Cthulhu’.

I have a habit of cycling rapidly through different crafts and projects, so at some point during the reading I started making chocolates.  I’d picked up a cheap mould, expensive chocolate, and spend a few evenings making ganache and filling chocolates with whatever I could get my hands on (see my post on the first batch).

It only took a small mental leap (and the discovery of food-safe silicone putty) to realise I could turn my Cthulhu sculptures into eldritch edibles.  This is the result:


And packaged up with some Elder Sign extras to inflict upon colleagues for Christmas (forgive the cuteness, I threw the packaging together in 20 minutes one morning and used an old Cthulmas doodle):

Cthulhu Chocolates

I also made a larger mould, but he had trouble with air bubbles:

Cthulhu Chocolates

The putty was fun to use and definitely has potential…  I don’t tend to make chocolates very often as once I’ve tested them and ‘cleaned’ the melting bowls I really don’t feel like eating chocolate for weeks!