Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cake Decorating - first class

On Monday night I attended my very first class on Cake Decorating. I have decided to learn Cake Decorating because I don't want to spend heaps of money on a wedding cake, however my fiance has since pointed out that the cost of the class would have actually covered the cost of the cake. But this is a life skill!! I will be able to decorate cakes up the wazooyie from now on! Think of the beautiful cakes I'll make for our children! These are the excuses I give.

The class consists of 10 students and is taught by a woman named Floss. The first class was fun and we learnt how to make Royal Icing, how to pipe letter and squiggles, and how to pipe the outline of letters and then fill them in, like so:

We will learn a number of different techniques throughout the five classes, and one of those techniques will be stencilling. I'm looking forward to this because I think that is what I want to do on my wedding cake. I have a damask theme running through the wedding (bonbanarie and stationary at the moment), and so I would love to have a damask border around the cake.

One of the really interesting things that I learnt (simple things I tell you) is that you don't have to pipe lettering directly on to a cake. No!! You pipe it on to some wax paper (or something similar) and then once it's dry you stick it on the cake. So hopefully this could mean that I could trace our names from our invitiations and put it on the cake - I love having things match!

First funny fiance comment (regarding cake decorating) when I mentioned this idea to him was "will it be neat though, or all kind of shaky?". I think he was referring to the fact that the letters from my first class aren't exactly perfect!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bess of Hardwick

Original image from

(1521 - 1608)
A much married woman
  • Her full name, upon death, was Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury.
  • Born relatively poor, Bess married her first husband, 14 year old Robert Barlow, and upon his death inherited one-third of the revenues of the Barlow Estate.
  • Her next marriage to Sir William Cavendish, Treasurer of the Kings Chamber, elevated her to the gentry and she became Lady Cavendish.
  • Sir William was twice Bess’s age and was in charge of the dissolution of monasteries. This is where the couple obtained much of their wealth before Sir William’s death in 1557.
  • Bess’s third marriage was to Sir William St Loe who left everything to her upon his death, to the detriment of his own children.
  • Bess was now, in 1564, one of the wealthiest women in England. Her annual income was approximately £60,000 ($13.8 million today).
  • Her fourth marriage was to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, which made her Countess of Shrewsbury.
  •  The Early and Countess of Shrewsbury were tasked by Queen Elizabeth I to act as ‘guardians’ (or more likely as ‘guards’) to Mary, Queen of Scots, during the early part of her captivity in England.
  • When the Queen of Scots was removed from their care, George and Bess separated under speculation that Mary had strained their relationship.
  • Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of Bess of Hardwick.
This post is part of my "Well behaved women rarely make history" series.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Original image from

  • Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right.
  • Married King Louis VII of France and joined him on the Second Crusade in 1145. It is said that she, and her ladies in waiting, rode bare-breasted amongst the men to encourage them to join the crusade. She may have had an affair with her uncle, Raymond of Poitiers, while on crusade.
  • Had her marriage to Louis VII annulled.
  • Then married Henry Plantagenet, who was 9 years her junior and eventually became King Henry II of England.
  • She was the mother of King Richard the Lionheart and Prince John (from Robin Hood fame).
  • She encouraged her favourite son, Richard, to revolt against his father. The revolt failed and Eleanor was imprisoned by Henry for 16 years. She obtained her freedom once her husband was dead and Richard inherited the throne.
  • She reigned as regent while Richard was on Crusade, and lived to see her son John crowned as King after Richard’s death.
  •  At the age of 77 she travelled from England to Castile (in Spain) to arrange a marriage. During the journey she was ambushed and held captive for a while, before securing her own release.
  • She ended her days in a nunnery.

This post is part of my "Well behaved women rarely make history" series.

Well behaved women rarely make history

At the moment on the door to my office I have the following picture:
Original image from

I think this is a pretty picture, and I love the phrase 'Well behaved women rarely make history'. It is so true! And so I have decided to take the opportunity to educate my work mates around badly behaved historic women. And, in the spirit of blogging, I'm going to share these postings on my office door here as well.