Sunday, 31 July 2011

Fun times

The last 4 months have been really hard. On April 1 I collapsed at work and since then have continued to have lots of strange symptoms and have struggled with fatigue most days. It's meant I've had to really pace myself and not do as much socially as I would like to. The good news is that last week or so I feel like I've started to get some energy back and I've finally got appointments booked in for hospital scans after delays from administrative errors which is a relief. I'm so delighted that I've managed to have a really full weekend seeing lots of friends and even hosting a small cocktail party.

I wish the bar (which is in my bedroom) was permanently stocked with cupcakes, I'd never get out of bed! Going with the cocktail theme the flavours were rum and raisin, absinthe and cardamom and margarita.

It was ace to hang out and have a laugh with friends old and new.

Today I've spent the afternoon chilling out at the Lass O Gowrie pub for an event organised by my friends Lynnmarie and Martin. It was the last day of a month long arts festival that's been held there. Music was in the form of an a Northern Soul and Ska all dayer with lots of lovely vinyl being played by the various DJs. Manchester Vegan people contributed cakes to a stall there with proceeds going to local animal charities.

There was also vintage clothes stalls. The pub is really well suited to this sort of thing as it's really old with lots of little nooks and crannies!

I was delighted to find 2 lovely vintage dresses for much less than the price of a new one from the High Street - result! The Liberty print one is home made too, I love finding home made vintage stuff.

And, I've booked tomorrow off work so can look forward to a lie in and a day of lounging around eating my way through the box full of cakes I brought back with me!

Friday, 29 July 2011

My Park

When I was a kid growing up in Salford we didn't have a garden but I was lucky to have a great park at the end of the street and another one just round the corner. Now I live on the other side of Manchester and have the same situation with Birchfields Park and Platt Fields Park. Platt is directly opposite where I live and was built as the 'People's Park' and celebrated it's Centenary last year.

It's home to all sorts of great festivals throughout the year. Sometimes it seems like there's one every week and more often than not they're free.

It's also home to the Gallery of Costume which has the biggest costume collection in England outside of the V and A. The amazing piece below 'Widow' is by Susie MacMurray. It's not actually wearable as it made out of thousands of dressmaker's pins. Check out her website for her other amazing garment sculptures like the balloon dresses.

There's a 'teenage village' with basketball courts and a BMX park.

And, very excitingly a vegan cafe opened last weekend in the Boathouse! It's run by Pedal Manchester who are a workers co-op dedicated to recycling bicycles, offering mechanical education, cycle training and promoting bicycling by helping people to obtain, maintain, repair and ride bicycles. My friend Tracey and I went in on Saturday and had a huge, delicious breakfast for £4. The people working who are all volunteers were very friendly and I can't wait to go again to work my way through the menu!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Win a Cake liberation Front Apron!

Three of us from the Cake Liberation Front were on local radio show Under The Pavement last Thursday. We had a fun time and much cake was eaten in between talking and music. The show is on the internet to listen again, we pop up after the second song.

We did a giveaway to win one of our aprons and a set of postcards. Entries have to be in by Thursday 21 July. If you'd like to enter go here.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Inspired by Cake Wrecks!

If you've never come across the Cake Wrecks website, I urge you to take a look. Postings are usually a mix of the downright awful and frankly bizarre with the odd posting that focuses on some excellent cakes. I was having a look a few months ago when I came across the 'Naked Mohawk Baby Carrot Jockeys'. I usually make a carrot cake for my sister's partner for his birthday so I sent the link to Nick and asked him if he wanted one this year. His reply was 'that's pretty awesome, make me one'.

So, the challenge was on. I was unable to source mohawked babies. The ones on the original cake are from a craft store in the US that doesn't do international shipping. However, I tracked down these guys on Ebay. Their hairstyles remind me of early Beatles and they're meant to be used for the baby shower game 'Help My Water's Have Broken'. The cake is carrot, orange and pecan and they are riding on marzipan carrots which is very apt as Nick blogs under the name Marzipan Man about a whole host of things from horror films to wrestling with the odd short story thrown in.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

On my radio!

Tomorrow night (Thursday) myself and two other members of the Cake Liberation Front are going to be on a local radio station, All FM. The show is called Under The Pavement and is on from 11pm-1am and we'll be on in the first half.

We'll be taking along some vegan baked treats for the presenters and some prizes to give away. The show will also be available to listen again on the internet.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Neal's Yard Party

My friend Sarah has recently started working for Neal's Yard. Yesterday she came over to Manchester and we hosted a Neal's Yard party at my flat. She told us loads of interesting things about the history and ethos of the company. Lots of their stuff is vegan friendly and Sarah brought along a list so I could check stuff. Because they are a herbalists they use a much higher concentrate of aromatherapy oils than a lot of brands so the products are therapeutic as well as just smelling nice!

We got to test out lots of lovely organic products and some of us had relaxing facials too!

The newest members of our girl gang are Robyn and Flo at 8 months and 6 months respectively. They came and joined in too and tried some of the baby products.

Of course the afternoon wouldn't have been complete without a spot of afternoon tea! Our sandwiches were cream cheese, cress and chive, mushroom pate and salad and humus with red pepper and red onion. Dessert was chocolate stout and cranberry bread, cherry and almond cookies and coffee and walnut cake.

It was a really fun afternoon and I'm going to host another one later in the year for my vegan friends. There's people who do Neal's Yard parties all over but if you're based in the Manchester/ West Yorkshire area and fancy hosting one with Sarah you can contact me to get her details by clicking on the word 'email' in my profile. As the host you get a facial + freebies and discounts. I worked out I spend £27 but got £90 of products!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Peach Ginger Zinger

I'm trying to revive the 'cocktail hour' in my house! After enjoying the Elderflower and Apple Martinis last week I've gone for a long vodka based drink this time. It's got the taste of baked peaches sprinkled with ginger and is making me crave a crumble made with those ingredients!

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour over the following. 2 measures of vodka, 1 measure of peach schnapps, 4 measures of peach nectar (Lidl do a good one) and 150ml of ginger ale (I used a tiny can that size). Stir all the ingredients together and serve with a straw. Warning this is deceptively non-alcoholic tasting!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Elderflower Martini

Here's my take on a lovely summery cocktail - the Elderflower Martini. 1 shot each of gin, elderflower cordial and dry vermouth, 2 shots of apple juice. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.

It's time of the year to start thinking about putting up some liqueurs to make for Christmas presents. Last year I did strawberry gin and Limoncello. Has anyone got any favourite recipes?

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Manchester International Festival and £1 pub lunches!

It's a great time of the year to live in or visit Manchester. It's stopped raining and the Manchester International Festival is in full swing. It takes place every 2 years and bills itself as the world's first festival of original, new work and special events. I've got tickets for the Victoria Wood play - The Day We Sang and Sinead O'Connor debuting her new album 'Home' this evening. I'm also hoping to get to some free events and exhibitions including Live Art group show, 11 Rooms at Manchester Art Gallery.

Manchester Art Gallery is right next door to the 7 Oaks Pub that I've blogged about before with it's bargain vegetarian and vegan food. They're practically giving it away over the summer with these lunchtime specials! I went with some work colleagues for a Friday lunch treat of big chip barms and they really hit the spot! The usual menu is running alongside this and they do have vegan cheese too.

Hope you all have a geeat weekend whatever you have planned.