Thursday, 29 October 2009

Baby Cakes, I Love You So...

My friend Donna became an auntie for the fourth time this week when her brother Richard and sister-in-law Sonia had their second boy - Roan (gorgeous name!)

Donna wanted to get them something special that they could share with their two-year old, Arran, so cakes were the order of the day.

I wanted a mix of flavours for kiddiewinkles and adults so baked a mix of Coco's Chocolate Temptations, and Gingerbread Lattes.

Cupcakes aren't very boy-ish so I did my best with some baby blue swirled icing (I couldn't help myself with the flowers though!!!)

I also decided to have a little play around with some fondant, and made a pair of baby booties, complete with blue laces (my fondant skills need some serious practice!)

I hope Roan grows up to have a sweet tooth, and that Richard, Sonia and Arran enjoy having their latest addition home!


P.S. - Roan, you've got a seriously cool auntie and uncle!

P.P.S - I got carried away with the fondant - check back soon for Halloween cakes galore! (From now on I'll look at this pic and pretend Robert Pattinson bit me!)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Meeting my long-lost friend...for the first time

I am a cat person. This should be fairly obvious by now, what with all the gratuitous pics and stories of my two Tonks Coco and Mika on this site.

But every now and then a cuddly or cute canine does melt my heart. My old requirements included -
* They shouldn't be too much bigger than Coco

* If they jump up on me, they shouldn't come past my knees
But of course things change. And this is one of the main reasons that I have widened my scope a bit.

This is Floyd. He breaks all of those rules as he is a hunkering great Bull Mastiff.

When we first moved into our flat two and half years ago, we used to see his owner Cheryl taking this furry lump with humungous feet for a walk most days. As he got bigger and bigger and bigger, I must admit, I felt more than a little nervous when I saw him pass by. The first time my heart melted a bit was when I heard Cheryl call after her pooch as he bounced clumsily away from her. FLOYD, GET BACK HERE!

Floyd? Floyd! That's the best name I've ever heard for a dog!!!

Since then I've always had a soft spot for him when I see him walking past, though I've never had the courage to go out and say hello.
Then, earlier this week I was looking through the pet pictures we get sent in to work, as we publish a weekly pets page. Lo and behold, here was Floyd in all of his adult glory. He is HUGE! I was so excited to see him, I contacted his owner Cheryl to say how much I loved this dog, from afar.

As I pulled into my space outside our flat that afternoon, luck just had it that Floyd was walking past, dragging Cheryl behind him. I yelled (rather ungracefully) after them, and thankfully she automatically realised who I was.

For a moment I was terrified that Floyd would bound towards me, knock me to the ground and cover me in slobber (ooh that's another reason I'm not so keen on dogs - slobber), a la Turner and Hooch.

But he politely trotted up next to me, practically looking me in the eye (this dog is big. Like, horse big), and grinned a big daft grin.

He is adorable. He loves having his ears scratched. He gets bullied by a female Pug that belongs to his breeder. He has a best friend, Cooper the boxer. In other words, he's ace.

So I have broken down a barrier. From now on I will be much more willing to make some canine friends. I can now add Floyd to my list of Jess and Millie (Westie and Scottie), Poppy (Spaniel) and Stella (our friend in New Zealand's...god knows what she is, but she seems to think she's a cat trapped in a Labrador's body, which makes it difficult when she tries to curl up on your knee.)

Here's to a long friendship with Floyd.



Things I Like Thursday - 29/10/09

* Interviewing Status Quo - they are hilarious, and every time I interview them they make me laugh a bit harder.

* Having my appraisal at work and discovering I'm going to be doing some design work - yay! Time to put that degree to use!

* Having one of my best friends visit from Lewis, a tiny Scottish island she has moved to with her fiance. Exciting conversations 1) the fact that this former dog owner is now a cat person who could barely take her attention away from Coco, and has now got her own bundle of whiskers and 2) wedding plans! Nicola is getting married in 2011 and I'm one of three bridesmaids. I'm a bit of a wedding fanatic so this means lots of fun research for me (and lots of earbashings for the poor Kiwi) As you can see, she's going to make an interesting bride!

* My new cake stand - it's so girly it should be pooping unicorns. (Excuse my messy desk at work in the background)

* Getting everything ready to renew the Kiwi's visa...(please cross your fingers and toes and whatever else you can for us!)

* My friend Andy refusing to spank Coco as he didn't want to "w*nk off the cat" - haha! Coco was not amused and proceeded to wiggle her rear end under his hand and gaze lovingly at him until he gave in.

* How gorgeous Ivanka Trump looked on her wedding day

* Having fajitas with friends (favourite past time)

* Talking about exciting trips to luxury hotels with my mum, who also managed to come up with plans to see We Will Rock You, have a few drinks, and also somehow convince the Scottish Rugby squad to let us party with them. Droooooool.

*Absolutely losing it in McDonalds with mum - why can't we ever remember what made us start laughing?!?!

* Disney's UP in 3D - We queued (at 10.30am on a Sunday. To see a Disney film. In the freezing cold. Nuts? Me?) and it was well worth it. I wasn't that hyped about it as I had no idea about the story, but it's the sweetest adventure and makes you appreciate what you have in life. I did NOT appreciate the Kiwi laughing at me crying during the film (I AM A SOP)

* This outfit from Topshop -

* New found evidence which proves that men prefer normal sized woman to size zero models. I could have told them that! (I have no problem with girls who are naturally slender, it's the ones who starve themselves because they think it will make them more attractive that make me sad. Embrace your curves!)

* My dad's remedy to his full-on stonking cold - A hot curry, some rum and a whole lot of Belgian beer. Guaranteed to clear your sinuses (and most likely your bowels too)

* Planning trips to Inverness with the Kiwi and my adventurous buddy Naomi!

* And this picture - I can't even remember who sent it to me. But I love it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cupcakes for the Other Coco

Last weekend I had a very exciting cupcake order.

One of my fave shops in Aberdeen is the fantabulous Coco Violet.

Coco Violet is a unique boutique in the heart of Aberdeen, Scotland housing an eclectic collection of fashion for the woman that wants to stand out from the crowd. With stunning items you won't come across often, you will be sure to find that little something to make you feel special.

Owner Lou Couper scours the country for special pieces that include incredible 1940s style dresses, stunning shoes by Shoemissy and the cutest and jaw-droppingly amazing accessories this side of the moon (I want to wear this dress and be a sexy sailor EVERY day!)

In other words, I love this little treasure trove in The Green. And seeing as I named one of my cakes after the shop's gorgeous femme fatale, I felt it only right to provide some for customers to nibble on while perusing the shop's goods.

Et voila! My new cake stand was put to good use displaying the cakey goodness!

The display houses a combination of Coco Violets and Gala Darlings.

Meet Coco Violet -

Coco Violet is a light vanilla sponge, hiding a scrummy stawberry jam centre, topped off with a swirl of Parma Violet frosting, and pink sugar crystals. She's fun, flirty and always stylish.

Oh and this is her companion Gala Darling-

Named after Kiwi blogger Gala, this luxurious chocolate cake hides white chocolate chunks inside its crumbles. In honour of Gala's ever changing hair colour, the cake is topped with vibrant pink, vivid lilac and milky white frosting, which incorporates smooth melted white chocolate. Gala is spunky, creative and devilishly good fun.

This was such a fun order, I always love a bit of colour and sparkles!

This week I'm busy working on Halloween ideas - witches legs anyone?

P.S Coco Violet are holding a special Halloween event this weekend to celebrate their second birthday - why not visit the shop for some apple bobbing, bewitching outifts and spookily good Sugar-Coated Cupcakes!


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Good things come in threes...

This week I have finally taken ownership of three new items I have pined after for some time.

Item number 1 - The Handbag

I mentioned yesterday that I got an exciting delivery from

Mika certainly thought it was interesting - this is moments after he jumped out of the box (hence the shy and embarrassed look on his face)

VOILA!!! My beautiful new handbag!!!

I've been searching for a new handbag for a couple of months now and couldn't find anything to replace my trusty black 2005 Oasis one. I wanted something big enough to fit all my crap in, but which still looked classy, and could be carried over my shoulder or forearm.

And my, haven't done a good job? This Marc B bag ticks all the boxes - chain handle? Check. Lots of pockets? Check. Leopard Print lining? Checkeroo!!!

In other words I'm in love. (And it was half price! Woohoo!)

Item number 2 - The Cupcake Caddy

I may have just declared my love for my handbag, but already I've committed adultery. How AWESOME is this???? I've wanted one of these for a long time, after trying (unsuccessfuly) to win one on But finally Lakeland got some back in stock and I'm now the very proud owner of the latest model in cupcake transport. Hmmm maybe a road test is in order...

Item number 3 - New Shooooooooooooooooooes

Does anything make a girl happier??? I've been trying to find the perfect pair of shoe boots for while now, but found them all too velvety, too plain, too low etc. I swore to myself I'd never buy another pair of feet-wreckers from New Look a long time ago...but sometimes you have to break your own rules.

Look at them! They're so pretty!!! The patent is perfect for Scottish weather, the brogue stitching detail makes them smart enough for work, they tie up and so stay on my feet, and they have a peep toe!!! Admittedly a peep toe isn't ideal for me (what with having no big toenails), but hey, I can deal with them, so should everyone else!!!

Have you got any new goodies this week?


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Things I Like Thursday

Though I'm not one to conform to the norm, I have to admit Things I Like Thursday, or TILT, is an awesome part of any blog.

TILT invites you to jot down all the things that have made you smile that week. Then if you feel miserable at any point, go back, have a gander and giggle.

So, introducing my first ever TILT!!!!

* Reminiscing about Bartheloooooona (above) - we went for a week in September and I fell in love. Gaudi's architecture is amazing - gingerbread house anyone? Paris, you have a close competitor for my heart.

* LIFE on the BBC - AMAZING! Especially when watching it with the Kiwi, who compared the Iguana laying eggs to 'having a stiff shite', and who said Bullfrogs were 'pimpin'. Nice.

* Randomly ending up at wedding receptions!!! (and having an AMAZING time, despite not knowing anyone! Congratulations Brian and Denice!)

* My new haircut - I had about 6in taken off my hair last week. I've been threatening to cut my hair shorter for years and last week I finally took the plunge. It's taking a while to get used to (and waaaay longer to style), but I really like it.

* This comment from my friend - 'Cash in the Attic', more like 'Shite in the Laft'...

* The fact that when I got out of the shower last night, the Kiwi said I looked like a member of Kiss (must take make up off before showering)

* That our boiler is getting fixed soon - poor Coco and Mika have been doubling up as live hot water bottles for the past couple of weeks as our heating has packed up!

* That I have started making a Christmas list for Coco and Mika which consists of remote-controlled mice, microwavable heat pads, this, and... this!

* Putting my jammies on as soon as is acceptable when I get home from work

* Getting boxes from in the mail (more on this tomorrow)

* This Tweet from Tom from McFly -

>"WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!! RT @NASA Star Girl by McFly to be played in space! The station crew will hear the song during the Oct. 21 ISS Tweetup."

* This post from faboosh Kiwi girl Gala Darling on Gala's Magical Guide to Getting Well. This girl is awesome, and this blog will certainly help me in the run up to Christmas when my immune system has a major FAIL

* The fact that Harrods have started selling Aleksander the Meerkat cuddly toys. Seeemples!

* Exciting conversations about redesigning our flat...

* Helping friends out with new ventures...more to come on this one

* And finally, this video. Anyone who knows me, knows that I 'lose it' from time to time. Basically I get a completely uncontrollable fit of the giggles, sometimes for no reason, and it's very difficult to stop. It would appear that Jason Segel (LOVE HIM!) has the same problem!

Now I have to go as I am finding it physically difficult to type - I have a live, furry hot water bottle on each forearm, glaring at me as if to say - PUT THE COMPUTER DOWN, AND PAMPER ME!


National Baking Week

Oh yes, that's right - there's a whole week dedicated to baking!

National Baking Week 2009 takes place from October 19th-25th (this week!).

The website certainly shares my feelings about baking -

If baking is happiness – then we think that it is time to share it around. That’s why this year we are encouraging the whole of Britain to ‘Bake and Share’! It could be baking cookies for everyone in your office, sharing the kitchen with your family or having a cake share in your neighbourhood. The most important thing is that you get out there and make people feel as good as you do about baking.

What better way to spread the happiness of baking than by sharing it with those you love?

Why not participate in National Baking Week in your own way?

* If you've never baked, give it a go! You might just surprise yourself

* If you only bake cupcakes, try something new? Ever tried cheesecake? Truffles? Marble Cake? Scones? Break out of your comfort zone!

* Organise a baking party with your friends - baking can be a great laugh, and a great opportunity to bond with your mates. Bring a bottle of wine, or create some cocktails and you have yourself a baking party!!!

* Take some cakes round to your neighbour and introduce yourself. If you have elderly neighbours why not suggest making it a fortnightly date? They'll enjoy the extra company and they can teach you a thing or two!

* Send a friend some cupcakes. Not in the same country? Find their local bakery and have some delivered with a special message!

* Propose with cake!!! This is awesome. Bakerella blows my mind! (She said yes by the way. Who wouldn't?)

* If you have children, younger brothers, sisters or cousins then introduce them to baking - not only will it get them interested in cooking, they'll always remember the first time they made chocolate crispy cakes with mum!!

Even if you simply choose to have a cake with your cuppa this week instead of a chocolate bar, you'll be doing your bit!

I plan on trying out some new recipes this week, and maybe making by first batch for celiacs!

But who needs one day to celebrate cakes? Let's celebrate them all year round!!!

What do you enjoy baking most?


Sugar-Coated Whiskers - the business?

I've been getting a lot of queries as to whether Sugar-Coated Whiskers is a shop or business.

Unfortunately at the moment it is neither! I have been baking for a number of years for friends, family and the Kiwi (anyone know how to fill one? My one is always hungry!).

I started the website as a diary of my cupcake adventures, as a record to remind me of what I've done and to inspire me to always bake more.

I do accept baking orders, but at the moment I can't take huge orders (my most common request is for 12, or 24 though I do much bigger ones too), because there's only me baking the goodness into these cakes, and unfortunately I wouldn't have the space to store hundreds of cakes, and delivering cakes in less than perfect condition is not cool with me! Baking is fun for me, and I'm not quite ready for Coco's Kitchen to expand into an all consuming task just yet! Obviously each order is judged on a case by case basis, so if you have any special requests, just ask! (I don't bite, much)

To me, cupcakes are little happiness sponges - they immediately put smiles on faces. I want it to stay that way so in the meantime I will continue to do small to medium orders for friends, family and special orders. If you are interested, please e-mail -I'm always open to ideas and suggestions!

At the moment, I don't have any plans to create a business - I love my job as a journalist, and don't have the maths skills to count up pennies (ask my bank manager). However it is something I'd like to do one day, so this is all practice in the long run.

Sugar-Coated Whiskers, the site, will continue to be updated on all things cupcake, cats and general chat though, so please keep reading!


Monday, 19 October 2009

Little Fresh and Ghoulish Goings On

Today was a bad day in Cafe Coco. A combination of new (BAD) brown sugar and a kitchen which was strangely enough too warm (it obviously hasn't seen the typhoon outside) meant I was left angry and frustrated with a batch of bad cupcakes with gloopy buttercream sliding down every conceivable surface in the kitchen. No matter how often you bake, there are always bad days. I would get in a bad mood but how can I when I have...


Little Fresh is my new baking companion. He was a complete bargain find (£2.99 holla!), is ridiculously cute and tries his best to help me when I'm baking. I say try because he's powered by two AA batteries, which make mixing a sturdy gingerbread cupcake dough quite a challenge. But who could get mad at him with his adorable little blue waistcoat? He's an acceptable alternative to the holy Kitchenaid in the mean time, and gives my James Martin mixer a rest.

(If you're wondering where the name came from, I think he looks a little bit like the chef from the signs of a well known road side restaurant, which, when I was small would call Little Fresh)

I got news of a rather exciting project today which will keep me busy for the next week. I can't reveal too much yet, but the fact that I had to go and buy a pack of Squirting Skulls should say enough for the moment! I also have to restock my Parma Violet jar for an order for a special lady who goes by the first name Coco. And no, it's not the cat...(though she is a very special lady!)


The Pyusses

I wish I could live my dream of opening a cupcake shop, but until then I have to find other ways of keeping the pennies coming in. After all, I have two dependants.

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to my two trusty sidekicks - Coco and Mika.

Mika and Coco are brother and sister Tonkinese cats. They are twelve years-old, and pretty much the most awesome thing to grace this planet.

I am very very very lucky to have these two scallywags. They took over my life (and flat) last August. I have ALWAYS had cats. My parents even got a kitten before they got me. So moving to Aberdeen for uni, and living in student halls and flats with no opportunity to have pyusses around the place was rubbish. In 2007, the Kiwi and I got our own place, but initially seeing it as a short term place to keep our stuff, never even thought about getting some dependants.

Until last summer. An elderly lady my mum had been arranging care for was taken into hospital. She lived in sheltered housing with her two gorgeous moggies. When she went into hospital, Coco and Mika continued living in her flat, being fed and bosied by the staff at the complex and by their auntie (who has a dog, who DID NOT visit). Sadly, last summer Coco and Mika's original owner passed away. The staff could no longer keep the two cats, and their auntie's dog wouldn't have been too chuffed at having two new feline companions. And so my mum mentioned the situation to me. At first I was just 'going to visit'. Pah. Right.

Within a week, I was making the seemingly never ending journey from Portsoy, Moray to Aberdeen, with two pyusses howling and mewting the entire way.

After an hour in my flat, they had taken over. Now it seems like they have always been here.

These are no ordinary cats. Anyone who has had Tonkinese cats will identify with this.

Firstly, meet Mika.

He is very much a mummy's boy. His pedigree name is Mad Mika, and he certainly lives up to this. Whenever he leaves his litter tray, he wanders into the lounge, eyes darting wildly and tail straight up in the air. For the following 10 minutes he does his best Usain Bolt impression, bounding from room to room and across ANY surface like someone had set his behind alight. He is extremely intelligent - he has figured out even the most complex cat toys in minutes (usually after we've spent most of a day putting them together.)

He is the soppiest, cuddliest cat too. Most nights you'll find him stretched out to his full length on his dad's chest, purring louder than any car engine I've heard. The shapes he gets himself into as he sleeps boggle my mind, and leave me whishing I was that flexible. He's also extremely vocal. I've had some fantastically in-depth conversations with Mika, and have also had to get up at 3am to go through and give him a cuddle just to get him to stop crying.

Oh and I nearly forgot. He's a little eccentric. He has a beard. Yes, honestly.

He looooooves shoes. High heels are his favourite ( he has good taste), but a good pair of flipflops will keep him busy for a good hour. And he's currently going through a bit of an identity crisis. I sneeze a lot, and Mika has decided that each time I sneeze, he must magically transform into a lamb. Don't believe me? Check out the video below. He's adorable.

Usually wherever you find Mika, you'll find his, ahem, voluptuous sister, Coco.

I've lost count of the number of, gasp!, non-cat lovers, who have been 'cured' by Coco. No-one can resist this girl.

At first Coco may seem slightly unhinged. She LOVES to speak. Not in the same way that Mika does. No, my girl likes to grumble and moan. Imagine Marge Simpson's worrying noise coming out of her little furry mouth and you've just about got it. Coco is impatient. If you don't reply to her grumbles and purrs, she will sit on her back legs, hit you with her paw and miaow at you until you do. After all, why wouldn't you want to talk to her? From the enthusiasm on her face, you can tell she's relaying the greatest story on earth.

From here she only gets weirder/more adorable. Don't ask me how we discovered this, but Coco likes to be spanked. Yes, you read right. Spanked. Every day we have to go through a ritual with this crazy old gal. She wonders through to the lounge, miaowing like a maniac, until you firmly pat her just in front of her tail. The purring starts, she arches her back and her legs go bouncy. She loves it. She then wanders off, walks under the table, and headbutts it on her way back to you. I told you she was weird, didn't I?

But Coco is the most affectionate big ball of chocolate fluff I've ever met. She may be built like a rugby player (this cat has no neck), but she becomes a trembling, purring teddy as soon as you pick her up. She loves, no, adores her Dad. She waits for him to come home, follows him everywhere, and at the end of the night, after sitting as close as possible to the fire without going up in a plume of smoke, she jumps up on his lap, and nuzzles under his arm and snores her little heart out.

I couldn't live without my cats. I quite happily look forward to the day I'm classed as a crazy-old-cat-lady. Until then, I'm happy to wake up each morning, pinned to the bed with two snoring sets of whiskers, lying either side of me.

Do you have any pets? What are their weird and wonderful character traits?


Sunday, 18 October 2009

Cupcake 101

One of the main reasons I have started this blog is to keep a diary of my baking escapades.

I have a been a serial baker for a number of years now, to the point of panicking if a week goes by that I don't produce at least one batch of cakes.

So why cupcakes? Why in Delia's name not?!?! Have you seen the gorgeous, creamy, sugary, froufiness that is a cupcake? Have you savoured the moist yet crumbly goodness they conceal???

Above all though, the main reason I love cupcakes is simple - they make people happy.

I have a ridiculous number of ideas swirling round my head at any time waiting to be unleashed in Cafe Coco (my teeeeny kitchen). I am constantly on the lookout for new inspiration, so if something on my site seems familiar then it may be that you've seen it on another site - but different. I try to modify and mould any ideas I find online or in books to my own style.

My cupcake obsession doesn't end at baking. No. Anything cupcake themed is lucky if it escapes my sight. Cupcake luggage tags, cupcake teapots, cupcake pyjamas, cupcake dresses...I hoard them all. Coco and Mika are one pay day away from sleeping in a cupcake shaped bed (why doesn't this come in human size?!)

My dream item is a red Kitchenaid mixer, the thought makes me salivate. Red and chrome shinyness - oooooooooh. I want to live on the set of Ace of Cakes.

Anyhoo, I plan to post pictures and details of all of my baking sessions, successful or not. In the meantime, please peruse the photos below of a small selection of my creations to date.