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Hello World - Baby Wearn is here =D

Look what we made!! With the imminent arrival of our first born we just thought having people donate to guess when he would arrive would be nice, and a fun way to raise a little bit of money for an excellent cause, Birmingham's Children's Hospital. (Guess were made via Just giving page)

And the winner is: Dannielle (of Uber Angel Cupcakes) - who gets a cake by me for a change, and a copy of Pistol Pete Wearn's new EP - which is out in Jan


We raised an impressive £65, way above our target of £50 - and I've been informed that Wesleyan Assurance will match it as BCH is their charity of the year =D

Thank you to everyone who donated / guessed, and all of the hundreds of well wishes and congratulations sent our way, here's to an excellent Christmas and a very exciting 2015!!

Mesmerising

2014 Christmas Decorations

Yeah for Christmas! Every year we add more souvenirs and decorations, I love the stories and memories that come with unpacking them ever year. New inclusions this year include gold T-Rex Skeleton from the Field museum shop in Chicago O'Hare Airport - the product of a 4 hour wait in Terminal 5.


Day 1 of Maternity Leave = Baking

So my maternity leave starts properly today - and I'm not really good at not having things to do (or waiting for that matter - I've already likened it to waiting for an Amazon parcel)

Anyway, December is a lovely time to have so extra time off if you enjoy baking, which I do, so that's good.

Today's plan is very Nigella-centric - Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake from Christmas and coffee themed Cupcakes from Domestic Goddess for Pete's work as a thank you for all of the shift's they've swapped so Pete can make scans etc over the last few months.

I've also got a veggie shepherds pie planned for dinner - but that has more to do with using up vegetables and have balanced diets in the time of work Christmas dinners...

How to Cook Fried Shrimp in 3 Seconds

Original Video here (In Japanese)

Guess When Baby Wearn will arrive!!

With the imminent arrival of our first born we just thought it would be nice, and a fun way to raise a little bit of money for an excellent cause.

(Guess via Just giving page)
(Updated 10th Dec)

Halloween sweeties

I'm actually in for Trick or Treaters tonight (although Tesco had run our of pumpkins so my pac-man design will have to wait for next year) but one of the joys of being a grown up is that no one stops you buying Halloween editions of sweeties - and with money off token for Krispy Kreme doughnuts it would have been mean not to buy one for Mr. Wearn when he comes home from running a jam night)
I'm also happy that my bowl of sweeties contains many of the top scoring treats as listed below, including pumpkin shaped peanut butter cups - now if they survive long enough for the Trick or Treaters is another matter...
http://boingboing.net/2014/10/31/the-candy-hierarchy-2014.html

Our beloved cocktail bar is up for sale

It's been all change furniture wise in the Wearn household - I've got a smart new desk, the last goldfish has finally died (RIP, umm, fish) so we're taking a break from fish keeping for a little while - and moving some bits and pieces around to make way for inevitably more stuff. We're also being sensible grown ups and putting the 1950/60's bar up for sale (booze not included)

It's a restoration project we just don't quite have the time or money for and I really hope it goes to a good home.

Ebay Listing is here

Debt Free Miss Williams (Part 2)

I left uni after my MA with sizable amount of debt - about £13K from the MA and the cost of living in the glorious city that is Liverpool and £10-11K from the BSc. I have no issue with that, I wouldn't be where I am now without it, it's all good.

The MA loan (a now non existent service called a Professional Studies Loan that evil HSBC provided) was a little bit more pressing since they kept phoning me and that was cleared in April 2012 - and now in August 2014 I've paid off my Student Loan from the SLC - Hoorah!! (in fact I've overpayed by £18 - so I'll be claiming that back and buying something exciting)

So, I suppose that's not bad really - I scraped 3 C's & a D' at A-Level, I graduated from Staffs with the 2:2 BSc (Hons) in Interactive Entertainment Technology in 2004 an a Pass in MA in Digital Games from Liverpool John Moores in 2005 (I'm a diligent and enthusiastic, if not an astounding student) and it's only taken a decade or so to cle…

Decorating Biscuits Part 2 - Icing

Part 1 Is here

What is it with Americans and Corn Syrup - they put it in everything! It took me ages to find a simple icing recipes I thought would work on my biscuits.

I plumped for - http://www.cleverlysimple.com/how-to-make-the-best-and-easiest-sugar-cookie-icing-glaze/ in the end, because it only had 2 ingredients, both of which I had in and understood. It was also a recipe that was easy to adjust the quantities of.

I did go and buy some proper metal piping nozzles (Wilkos - who have a fantastic baking range these days) and some disposable icing bags (Sainsburys).

This also gave me a chance to work out what I actually had in the way of cake decorating / colours etc

I now know half a cup of icing sugar & 2 tsp of milk ices 3 unicorns, 3 moomins, a ninja belt and a bunny rabbit (not shown) A useful guide I think.

And here's the 2nd batch of icing, with some blue gel in it, although I'm slightly disappointed at how light the colour is - but I was too scared to put loads in.

Decorating Biscuits Part 1 - Recipe & Dough

I'm not great at making things pretty - but it's an Afternoon Play picnic Today so I though I'd give icing sugar biscuits a go - Since I have loads of cookie cutters I never use.

I also don't have fool proof go to recipes for icing and biscuits - I've always used the Nigella rainy-day cut out biscuit recipe in the past, but I didn't have any ground almonds and I've found they don't keep thier shape all that well. Anyway - This is What Pinterest was made for.

Much hunting and looking at pins later and I came across : http://www.inkatrinaskitchen.com/2011/12/best-sugar-cookie-recipe-and-kitchenaid_28.html (which didn't take 24hrs of pre planning or use weird american ingredients.

It worked ok, although some of the more delicate shapes didn't take to it, but I'll keep with it until I find something better.


It did take the punch out Dr. Who impression cookies well, and the Moomins look like moomins which is nice.
 The Ninjas however had a tendency to…

A collection...

I'm trying to perfect sugar biscuits with pretty icing, I now can't decide what shaped biscuits to make...

Does 3 of something equal a collection?

Somehow we've become come the kind of people that collect birdhouses - it's not been a conscious thing, or agreed upon, but we now own 3 - no birds to speak of in them, but there's the recycled metal one, the white weatherboard one and this one:


Which is due for a paint job before it joins the others outside to look like this: To celebrate quite frankly one of the oddest attractions we've ever visited.

Series 5 of #gbbo

Yeah for baking - I'm not live blogging it all this year - but when I can I'll be busy on for good 'ol #gbbo hashtag - along with the rest of the UK judging by how quickly it was trending last night.

The Showstopper (Make 36 miniature british cakes) did cause me to ask:

Trying to work out what constitutes a 'proper British cake' #GBBO
— Nia Wearn (@Wormella) August 6, 2014
Which led to two brilliant answers:

@Wormella a "proper English cake" is made of pie, gravy, rain, stiff upper lips & topped with a good helping of disgruntle #GBBO
— Jennie Bailey (@WildWrites) August 6, 2014 &
@Wormella shop bought passed off as homemade in a tupperware box
— Richard Edwards (@RichEdwards1) August 6, 2014
The contestants did things like 4 tired Victorian sponges  and Lemon Drizzle cakes with pipettes of lemon stuff - as you do. I did however manage to work out who was being booted off after the first week, thats 4 series of GBBO watching skills there!

Short Stack Cookbooks

Gosh they're pretty

Short Stack is a series of small-format cookbooks about inspiring ingredients, authored by America’s top culinary talents. Each edition is a collectible, single-subject booklet packed with recipes that offer ingenious new ways to cook our favorite ingredients.http://shortstackeditions.com/

Country & Western themed party menu

Cake from Uber Angel Cupcakes
Since my birthday falls in July, and going out drinking has lost it's appeal, for the last few years I've hosted a vaguely themed garden party.
Last year was just a big celebration, as it was my 30th, and my best friend and fellow cake judge Charlotte's birthday is 2 days before mine and the planets aligned so that we could hold the joint party we've always wanted to.
The year before was Cuban themed, and there were cuban sandwiches and twix bars with labels on to make them look like cigars, the year before that was classic garden party miniature food, cucumber sandwiches with added home made drinks and wine. 
Anyway, this year, in honour of the marvelous that is country & western, and the fat that this time last year we weren't long back from our trip to the Deep South we went with a Deep south / Tex Mex / Amercian themed menu - and a 40 hour Spoitfy Playlist.
With a guest list of 25ish (according to facebook) and rain planned all day …

Busy Times, but Celebrations too

I'm very aware I have posted anything up here since March - I'm not really sure how it's now the middle of July, and where that time's gone. I imagine most of it has been consumed by work.
So here's some highlights from the last few months:
April - Presented a paper at FDG 2014 (on a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico)

May - Spent a week in Poland's 8th largest city - Bydgoszcz - talking about Gamification

June - Spent a week in Minorca on an actual holiday, with my husband, not on a work trip going to visit things like light houses, forts and neolithic structures.

July - had the very loveliest of birthday parties, surrounded by lots of friends, some of which are talented enough to make cakes that look as amazing as this birthday cake - which I'm off to have another slice of before I sit down to some Minecrafting.
Cake from Uber Angel Cupcakes

Share a coke with...

According to the Coke-a-Cola website my name does exist on a bottle, somewhere (probably in Wales, certainly not in Stafford unless a lorry gets lost somewhere)
I'll be amazed if anyone does spot one...

Reddit Snack Exchange

I've had hits and misses with Reddit Gift Exchanges but I signed up for the Snack exchange and sent some typically British tea time treats to somewhere in the states.  Since you never know what you might get in return, and your gifter is not your giftee  it's exciting.

Anyway, After the Born in the Borderlands Music Video a few of us have taken over the running of the community wardrobe, and so my friend Danielle turns up to a day of sorting with a big cake box going "This is a bit strange, but someone of the internet commissioned this cake for you - He said it was to do with Reddit"

And here is my snack exchange cake, from Uber Angel Cupcakes - made to look like the reddit snack logo, made from Mississippi mudpie cake with raspberry jam, paid for by someone who tracked me on Facebook and seen I'm commented on one of Dannielle's other amazing cakes.


The Internet can be a wonderful, delicious place to be.

Born in the Borderlands / Live at the Vaults

It's been a crazy few weeks - awesome but crazy. Last night we celebrated the launch of .44Pistol's 2nd album, Live at the Vaults - recorded as the Market Vaults reopened last year. That in it's self was a crazy, busy night, and last night was even more so, because last night we also premièred the music video for Born in the Borderlands we worked on, and shot, at the Market Vaults, a couple of weekends ago.
Link to buy the Album Live at the Vaults by 44 Pistol The Amazing Music video
and you can get a sense of last night's energy and craziness here:

Post by .44 pistol.
I'm a very proud wife this morning and we really have the most amazing community of friends in Stafford, we're lucky to live amongst such great and wonderful people.

Thoughts and Things from London

I've been in the big smoke for Wild Rumpus #5 - It was as awesome as you'd imagine but this post isn't about that.

If I'm London I'm often there at slightly strange times, or with a lot of till to kill before a train. To get cheap tickets there and back this last weekend was no exception. I was also on my own, Pete being busy - although I did drag Olly along since he's now a native to London. Anyway, some observations from my 9 miles of walking around the place being distracted by blue plaques...

(in no particular order)

Isn't it slightly odd the the British Library has a bookshop? You'll be glad to know they do sell book shaped rubbers with the British library on them. I'd have been heart broken if they hadn't capitalised on that bit of merchandise.



I'm pretty sure Joseph Gramaldi's grave is the most depressing grave, in the most depressing park in London, although if he spent his last years alone and as an alcoholic, oddly fitting.



The…

New Year, New Rules

Aaah, new years resolutions, such a time for optimism and self improvement, all the better if you can do them as part of a team. A few years ago I had a new year's resolution, to use my cookbooks more - and Eat Your Books has been marvelous at reaching that goal, it's only a few years delayed, but that and having them in arms length of the kitchen table has also been great.

So this year, we have 3, all of which are kind of food related

No drinking alcohol on a 'school night' - We'll ignore the fact that Pete doesn't work in the kind of job where he actually get's a weekend and see if we can manage consumption, and costs a little. Switching to boxes of wine a little while ago was a big help too.Vegan Mondays - Since our diet is pretty much meat free anyway - sometimes there is fish and I'll eat meat if I fancy it when we go out we thought trying to have a Vegan meal every Monday would be a good thing. I can go back to having exciting experiments with Tofu …