Artistic Pretensions, Moi?

Fate festooned me with many blessings.

I was born in the western world – hunger, financial hardship and violent war haven’t been anything I have ever experienced. I was born to parents who absolutely adored my sisters and I and distributed love, money and time with largesse. I keep good health, as do most of those around me, and I have met with many wonderful people I am lucky enough to call friends.

Plus, all the things I like – cats, books, wine, good food and company – are all readily available to me on a weekly basis. Joy!

Before this gets a little too sickly, do know that there is something I still hanker for, even though it seems a might ungrateful.

I wish I had artistic abilities…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot of late and how this might apply to a budget wedding. If I was artistically inclined, for instance, I would find flowers at wholesale and create my own beautiful table decorations. A friend recently commented that I could make my own favours for my wedding using the colour theme and I thought to myself: “blimey, a colour scheme, I never even thought of that!”. See, she has aesthetic sensibilities (her flat is decorated par excellence) and I’m 300 light years away from even getting a ‘c’ grade in school level art.

This is the before version - not yet cooked

The extent of my artistic ability; home-made pizza with careful basil leaf arrangement

Let’s take decorating my own cake, say. (Determined to make my own cake – that bit doesn’t require too much in terms of an imaginative eye, just patience and the ability to measure properly.) I picked up a book recently: The Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating – and perhaps this is the answer to the non-artistic person’s desire for creativity.

The Busy Girl (aka Ruth Clemens) suggests lovely ideas such as butterfly biscuits – you make them using cutters. Foolproof surely, even for the Pictionary dunce that I am. Then, you get smaller cutters and stamp out sugar paste before giving it a light dusting of powder and glitter and then placing on top of the biscuits. So, quite simple and possibly a favour idea…?

Ms Clemens is self-taught and her cake decorating ideas look relatively simple – so long as you can perfect that covering cakes with sugarpaste/marzipan technique. [It’s a lot flamin’ harder than it looks – smoothness is your goal, lumpiness, air bubbles, cracks et al are often the reality.]

In my ideal world*, I’d be sticking flower stems into chunks of oasis (no, not the band, but this weird, green & spongy stuff you use in flower arrangement), throwing colour co-ordinated scarves elegantly over my shoulder, and using a mixture of icing sugar, egg white and colouring to create some moulded sculpture sitting atop of cake guaranteed to make guests go “mmm” and “ahhh”.

But surrendering the ego – who but me will care that the cake is home-made? Who but me will be bothered by the fact that the favours have been out-sourced? Who but me will remark that the floral decorations weren’t created in-house (so to speak)?

Aye, no one!



*I’d also have upgraded to the design pro bit of WordPress! I could have my own fonts! I could juggle around text boxes (I think) and upload videos! Er… these might be limited to cookery demonstrations so posibly, dear reader, you aren’t missing out.


Let Them Eat (and enjoy) Cake

This isn’t the world’s lightest example of cake

For a recent birthday – in traditional lady fashion I’ll be coy about its numerical value – my sister presented me with a cheesecake.

Not the soft cheese mixed with lavish amounts of cream and sugar version, but a concoction of actual cheeses layered up three-stack and decorated with trails of grapes and bay leaves. It was a thing of beauty and the top tier vanished in precisely 10 minutes (smoked cheddar – the gods of cheese production’s finest hour).

I’d like to replicate this for my wedding day (estimated cost £40), but say I were also to follow the dictates of convention and get a proper wedding cake. What does the budget bride who sadly can’t afford Choccywoccydoodah* do? Obviously, you either make your own [and there are some spectacular examples of cake-making genius here] or find a talented friend who can do it. In the meanwhile, I adapted a Good Housekeeping chocolate brownies** recipe recently and I think that may well be a wedding cake contender, once I spend time practising cake decorating via some online cake decorating tutorials. Dontcha just love the world wide web?


*Amazing, amazing chocolate cake shop in Brighton and London where very talented people do spectacular thing with chocolate and appear on TV showcasing their talents.

**Plain chocolate (85% cocoa solids – now I’m showing off), butter, eggs, sugar, flour, chopped toasted nuts and topped with fudge icing. Yum…